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Happy Endings: The Complete Third Season (2012-2013)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/1/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/1/2013

(Happy Endings: The Complete Third Season is not available as a mass-produced product. Instead, it is part of Sony's MOD line. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s (SPHE) manufacture-on-demand service -- “Sony Pictures Choice Collection” -- features never-before-released on DVD titles from more than 75 years of the Columbia Pictures film library. Consumers will be able to purchase them through a distributor or select on-line partners, including Amazon.com, TCM.com and Warner Archive.)

(Although it rarely seems this way) We can assume that when filmmakers are working on a movie, they give 100% and hope to make the best film possible. As they won't get any feedback for months (perhaps years) after filming has completed, they have little to no idea how an audience will react to the piece and they can only hope that their instincts were correct. The same does not hold true for television. Despite the fact that shows are often recorded weeks (or months) in advance, at some point while the show is in production, episodes are going to air and those behind the scenes are going to get feedback in the form of ratings, critical reviews, and audience reactions. In some cases, they can use this information to tweak their shows, and we see examples of this all the time. Or, as was the case with the third season of Happy Endings, it can affect the tone of the show.

Season Three of Happy Endings picked up not long after the conclusion of Season Two and it saw the continuing adventures of the show's zany characters. Jane (Eliza Coupe), a Type-A control freak, is married to Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.), a metrosexual who must keep some of his goofier aspects in check around Jane. Max (Adam Pally) is an apathetic slob, who is also lovelorn and also in search of the perfect man. Similarly, Penny (Casey Wilson), who actually dated Max before he came out, also has difficulty in the romance department. Dave (Zachary Knighton) owns a food-truck and is obsessed with his goatee. Alex (Elisha Cuthbert), Jane's sister, is the dimwit of the group and often goes off on weird tangents.

The third season continues some of the storylines which were introduced at the end of the previous season and rolls out some new ones as well. Dave and Alex, who were once engaged, are now back together, but are hesitant to tell their friends. Penny realizes that she has a crush on Dave, but she decides that she can't pursue it and jeopardize their friendship. Brad is having a difficult time adjusting to being unemployed. Meanwhile, Jane is offered a new job. All the while, the group continues to spend a lot of time together.

When Happy Endings premiered it would have been very easy to accuse the show of simply being an updated version of Friends, as it deals with six friends who deal with life and romance in the city. And that accusation would have been completely justified. Despite the fact that the show opened with the interesting premise of Alex leaving Dave at the alter and the notion that their friends must find a way to deal with this, the show soon fell into a pattern stand-alone episodes which focuses on particular problem or situation. And, some of these felt as if they were lifted directly from Friends. Penny's crush on Dave is very similar to Joey's crush on Rachel. The episode real old secrets come out while watching The Real World is reminiscent of the Friends characters watching the prom video. And don't get me started on how similar Jane is to Monica.

So, it would be very easy to write Happy Endings off as an unoriginal show. However, the writing on the program is very clever and while the characters may not be the epitome of original, each has developed their own clear-cut personality. The comedy is very quick and the show isn't afraid to throw in crazy pop-culture references. This may be one of the reasons that it really didn't click with audiences. Still, ABC gave the show a chance, but it was moved around some and would seem to come and go. With Season Three, one can't help but get the feeling that the show's creators knew that the writing was on the wall and simply decided to go for broke. I put forward this hypothesis due to the fact that the show kept getting zanier and zanier. The dialogue was even faster, the references were even more obscure, and the double-entendres weren't hidden very well. (There were many occasions where I said, "You can't say that on TV!") This made for the odd combination of a show which was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, but also so out of control that it was easy to see that it had no future and would never catch on with the general populace. Happy Endings was far sillier than Arrested Development, but it had that same vibe that most people weren't going to get it. Still, the image is Penny wearing the hair-helmet is one that I won't soon regret and it makes me lament the loss of this free-spirited show.

Happy Endings: The Complete Third Season attempts to Misery the viewer on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The three-DVD set contains all 23 episodes of the show's third season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The picture is a bit soft at times, which causes the level of detail to suffer. This comes close to HD broadcast quality, but doesn't match it. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The crowd scenes provide some mild stereo and surround sound effects which show good separation. In-show music sounds fine, and, at times, provides bass effects, as does the show's opening song.

The Happy Endings: The Complete Third Season DVD contains no extra features.

Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long