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

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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.

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