Happy Endings "Fowl Play/Date" Review: Bye Bye Birdie

By Bill Kuchman

Jan 07, 2013

Happy Endings S03E08: "Fowl Play/Date"

Like Tyler the Racist Parrot being left alone with Brad and Penny, last night’s episode of Happy Endings may have signaled the beginning of the end for the show. "Fowl Play/Date" was the first episode of Happy Endings to air on a Sunday, something that ABC is doing for the next few weeks. Why is ABC airing episodes of Happy Endings on Sundays in addition to the show’s usual Tuesday timeslot? You may hear things about “maximizing new audiences” or “Revenge being a great lead-in,” but here’s what’s probably going on: ABC is killing off Happy Endings.

If a network has faith in a show, it gives that show a solid timeslot. It partners it with a solid lead-in series until the show has developed an audience that allows it to stand on its own. It respects the traditional times when no new episodes are aired and makes best use of sweeps periods. If a network has faith in a show, it doesn’t air its first season out of order. It doesn’t speed through the show's second season while its usual ratings juggernaut lead-in is on break. It doesn’t not air an episode because it needs to test another show. It doesn’t move the show to a new day, putting up against another network’s hit comedy without the benefit of a lead-in. It doesn’t start randomly airing new episodes on a night and time that make no sense.

Yet ABC has done every single one of those things to Happy Endings. The first season’s plot structure was wrecked since ABC jumbled the episode order. The second season was burned off before Modern Family (Happy Endings’ then-lead-in and protector) was even close to wrapping up its season. ABC didn’t air one of the Happy Endings’s new episodes last season in order to premiere Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Then the network made the illogical decision to pit Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B---- against the second season of New Girl, Fox’s biggest comedy hit in years. And now we have the Sunday thing happening. Does anyone actually see Revenge as an appropriate lead-in for a show about six goofy friends in Chicago? To me it only makes sense if the only criterion is, “Are they both TV shows?” You know what other show had Revenge as a lead-in? 666 Park Avenue, which got canceled.

It’s always sad to see a show fall victim to this kind of mismanagement. Community's fate at the hands of NBC is a prime example of how these things can play out. Everything that a network can do wrong happened to Community, but NBC still can’t figure out why the show has such low ratings. Maybe because they put it at 8pm on Thursdays against The Big Bang Theory, huh?

Okay, enough complaining about Happy Endings' unfortunate plight. If this is it for the show, let’s enjoy the final few episodes. "Fowl Play/Date" saw the return of Tyler, Alex’s extremely racist parrot. While Alex was away at RomComCon, Brad and Penny accidentally exposed Tyler to industrial-strength glue fumes, killing the bird. So naturally they staged his death to make it look like he fell out the window. I'm sad to see Tyler go; I always liked him and Alex together. I feel bad saying this about Alex, but Tyler seemed to be the creature most suited to deal with her level of cluelessness.

Thanks to the autopsy Alex had ordered for her deceased parrot, Brad and Penny were reprieved of any wrongdoing, as it turned out that Tyler died of alcohol poisoning. How does a parrot acquire alcohol, you ask? Well, it seems that despite Tyler’s hatred of Mexicans, he couldn’t resist Mexican food... nor could he resist the margaritas that Alex served him along with that food. So it was all Alex's fault, which made it even sadder to hear that her last interaction with Tyler before his passing involved an argument over what constitutes a Celebrity Apprentice contestant. Like I said, Tyler was the perfect conversational companion for Alex.

While Alex, Brad, and Penny were dealing with avian death, Dave and Jane spent the episode trying to set Max up with men who were their own doppelgangers. Dave chose Ben, a guy who played the guitar and loved John Mayer. Jane chose Jamie, a guy who had great legs and an affection for laminating things. Max rejected both suitors, instead choosing to go out with Marcus, a guy who, while a bit pudgy, seemed perfectly normal. Dave and Jane crashed Max’s date with Marcus, bringing along Ben and Jamie. Marcus was completely bothered by this and bailed on the date.

At Tyler’s memorial service (a classy affair, with Tyler’s racist bird friends in attendance), Dave and Jane apologized to Max for trying to set him up with versions of themselves, and told him that they tried to get Marcus to give Max a second chance. Unlike the coffeeshop owner played by Max Greenfield in Season 1, Marcus wasn’t charmed by Max’s odd friends, and he not only rejected their apology, but responded to Dave’s attempt at a haymaker punch by giving Dave an injury that will most certainly require Tommy John surgery. Way to ruin things for Max, everyone.

Remember that Happy Endings will air another new episode at its usual time this Tuesday. Then, next Sunday, we'll see the episode ABC chose not to air last season in order to premiere Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. The United Kingdom got to see it episode in May, which (unlike the Brits getting new episodes of Downton Abbey before we do) makes no sense. What’d we win the Revolutionary War for if we don’t even get new TV shows first? U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! (Of course, America does have the internet, a magical network made of tubes where you may or may not be able to find certain episodes of television regardless of what market they originally aired in.)


– Tyler backing up Alex’s belief that he’s a Chicago White Sox fan: “I hate the Indians. ... I hate Native Americans too.”

– Jane discussing Alex’s cluelessness: “I once saw you put sunscreen on a grape because you didn’t want it to turn into a raisin.”

– A lyric from Dave’s new song (with awkward phrasing) for Alex: “I wish I knew how to make you come... home to me.”

– Dave describes Max as “275 pounds of lonely.” Max may be a bit doughy, but 275 pounds?

– Alex eats birthday cake off her handprint plate every night. I love Alex.

– Max explaining how he knew Jane and Dave were watching him sleep: “I smelled testosterone. And, Dave, you smell like peppers, bud.”

– I have to believe that ABC’s censors often have no idea what many of Happy Endings's references mean. Would any other show get away with an entire conversation about a jerk circle, which just happens to be Dave’s group of amateur jerky makers?

– Penny in response to Brad’s attempt to revive Tyler: “You can’t just poke him with pencils and yell ‘clear!’”

– Jane explaining why she doesn’t like Marcus based on his name: “Sounds black. Which is the only thing I like about it. Other than that, I hate the guy.”

– Brad wondering how he would destroy Tyler’s autopsy results if they were in a digital file: “What if it were emailed to her as a PDF? How do you destroy a PDF? It’s in the clouds. I don’t control the clouds. I'm not Thor.”

– Hopefully everyone caught the episode’s closing scene, a touching video reflecting on Tyler’s time with the gang. Not only did we get to hear another version of Dave’s unfortunately phrased new song, but we also learned that Tyler was born in 1928. That was one old, racist bird.

  • Comments (28)
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  • ch0c0nutz Jan 09, 2013

    i hope this show never ends cuz it's the best show on tv nowadays!... i laughed so much when the parrot died!!! i did not see that coming... and brad trying to revive it with those pencils!...
    also the raisin line had me laughing hard

  • Devon39219 Jan 08, 2013

    ow god the jerking in a group thing.. awesome stuff. I guess it's followed by a be creative with jizz-group. I loved Dave's song too.

  • RenAlexisCati Jan 08, 2013

    They better not! I love happy endings!

  • TrevPlatt Jan 08, 2013

    Oh yeah, for the record, the episode that aired over here in the UK and not over there in US was AWESOME! Just thought I'd share that with you all. Haha.

    This was a brilliant episode of a brilliant show. Elisha Cuthbert was brilliant, again. I just hope that after ABC has finished fucking this show up that some other network (PBS maybe?) will charitably come along and nurse it back to health, probably along with The Bitch!

  • DavidJackson8 Jan 08, 2013

    The only line I can think of that made me laugh not mentioned in either the review or the comments below:

    Brad: "All I hear is Tyler: 'Squawk! You killed me! Squawk! But a while guy woulda killed me better!'"

    Certainly not the most creative line, but it got a good hearty chuckle outta me.

  • rishabhpb Jan 08, 2013

    No mention of the "-Con" discussion? That was the best!

  • Devon39219 Jan 08, 2013

    shut up! con.

  • Sbriseno07 Jan 07, 2013

    God I hope you are wrong about Happy Endings being cancelled. I used to be annoyed by all of the Community fans, but I get it now. Anyhow, great episode.

  • hpfan06 Jan 07, 2013

    Extremely doubtful that Happy Endings will be cancelled, regardless of the ratings or timeslot - Happy Endings is produced by ABC Studios, meaning it costs much less for ABC than some of its other shows do (example: Modern Family, which is produced by 20th Century Fox).

    Additionally, while Happy Endings will only be at 56 episodes after this season, it is still very possible that Sony Pictures Television will push ABC very hard to try for two more seasons to get the number above 88, the magic number for a show to go into stripped syndication. Syndication is where the real money is made for networks, and Happy Endings will only be 32 episodes away from reaching that number after season 3 is finished. That could tip the scales in Happy Endings' favor.

  • DavidJackson8 Jan 08, 2013

    All of that sounds completely logical and reasonable, and it gives me some hope.

    That said, I generally don't attribute either 'logical' or 'reasonable' to TV networks. I figure the only question the execs want answered is: "Do the ratings justify the budget?", and judging from the viewership numbers of both Happy Endings and The B in 23 this season, I doubt it.

    Of course, I'm crossing my fingers that you're right and I'm wrong.

  • hpfan06 Jan 08, 2013

    Trust me, I also hope I'm right - I would be devastated if Happy Endings ended up being cancelled, and I can only hope that ABC turns out to be smarter than networks like NBC and keeps the show on the air!

  • JT_Kirk Jan 07, 2013

    I hope your line of thinking is wrong, ABC would be fools to cancel Happy Endings or Don't Trust the B**** in Apt 23, those shows are getting them different types of audiences and positive buzz. And every sitcom in their back pocket right now waiting to pounce sounds like a quick-cancel, so they really need to be smarter about this.

    NBC is insane, Community didn't have low ratings, every show they replaced it with in that time slot did the same ratings, including their darling 30 Rock, and I doubt 30 Rock is cheaper to produce than Community. ABC's Happy Endings is shot here in LA on studio sets and backlots, none of the actors are stars, it cannot be prohibitively expensive to put on. Just executives saying "no" to something once again because it's safer than saying "yes".

    Technically, an autopsy done on an animal is a necropsy. I was laughing my ass off when she read Tyler died of alcohol-related disease just as the slide of Alex and Tyler drinking showed up, that was fantastic.

    Dave and Jane alone in an episode was kinda funny, they seem like the opposite sides of the group and rarely interact for it, yet here their polar opposite attitudes on life made for funny while Max played the straight man (pun not intended). This is not the first time the group has crapped out Max's dates though, right?

    Oh, speaking of which, Jane's line: "Dave's guy deuced the futon" had me in stitches for a solid minute.

    That circle jerk bit seemed tame by today's standards, unless you already know what it means, then you're tainted anyway. Taint.

    Another great episode, but man did your theory of this show being killed bring me down.

  • JusticeLeaguer Jan 07, 2013

    It's gonna suck if they end up canceling Happy Endings. The show is truly hitting its stride and I wish more people enjoyed it.

    That being said, I can't really blame ABC for how they handled the first season specifically. The first few episodes weren't nearly as funny as the last few were. I think ABC saw the potential in the show's comedy and decided to show the "funnier" episodes first.

    However, that in no way justifies the treatment the show has received since then. I was honestly surprised that the show got a second season in the first place so I'm very happy to at least get 3 great seasons out of it.

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