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"Cougar Town" The Complete First Season DVD Review

Cougar Town: The Complete First Season DVD cover art - buy from Amazon.com Cougar Town: Season One (2009-10)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel / Writers: Kevin Biegel, Bill Lawrence, Christine "Chrissy" Pietrosh, Jessica Goldstein, Linda Videtti Figueiredo, Ryan Koh, Sanjay Shah, Mary Fitzgerald, Sam Laybourne, Kate Purdy, Mara Brock Akil, Peter Saji, Melody Derloshon, Michael McDonald / Directors: Michael McDonald, John Putch, Gail Mancuso, Bill Lawrence, Chris Koch, Michael Spiller, Jamie Babbit, Ken Whittingham, Phil Traill, Lee Shallat Chemel, Millicent Shelton

Regular Cast: Courteney Cox (Jules Cobb), Christa Miller (Ellie Torres), Busy Philipps (Laurie Keller), Dan Byrd (Travis Cobb), Josh Hopkins (Grayson Ellis), Ian Gomez (Andy Torres), Brian Van Holt (Bobby Cobb)

Recurring Characters: Carolyn Hennesy (Barbara), Spencer Locke (Kylie), Nick Zano (Josh), Ryan Devlin (Smith Frank), Scott Foley (Jeff), Sheryl Crow (Sara), Barry Bostwick (Roger Frank), Robert Clendenin (Tom), Yasmin Deliz (Nezzie)

Notable Guest Stars: David Clayton Rogers (Matt), Tyler Steelman (Robbie), Madison Mason (Larry - uncredited), Rachael Harris (Shanna Miller), Alan Ruck (Frank Miller), Alex Schemmer (Trent), Aaron Blake (Ryan), Ahmed Best (Dwayne), Lisa Kudrow (Dr. Amy Evans), Kristian Capalik (Alex), Beverly D'Angelo (Sheila), Windell D. Middlebrooks (Gerald)

Running Time: 519 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: TV-14-DLSV

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: August 17, 2010; Season 1 Airdates: September 23, 2009 - May 19, 2010
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Clear Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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On the cover of "Cougar Town": The Complete First Season, Courteney Cox wears a t-shirt proclaiming "40 is the New 20." It's meant to be funny and to succinctly convey the premise of this ABC sitcom. I guess it succeeds in those regards, but it also carries some truth. Being 40 years of age isn't what it used to be. Life expectancy has grown nearly ten years since 1960 and the effects are unmistakable. For many, adulthood has been pushed back into the mid-20s.
One's 40s, once the welcome point for old maid status and wrangling with teenagers, have largely turned into an extension of their 30s with plenty of life opportunities.

In the midst of revisiting every Academy Award Best Picture winner (along with some appealing classics that lost), I can't help but notice how the film industry sharply reflects our changing perception of age. In 1976's Robin and Marian (neither a winner nor a classic), 44-year-old Sean Connery and 46-year-old Audrey Hepburn were playing older versions of the Sherwood Forest personalities, embracing the twilights of their life. In this year's Robin Hood, 45-year-old Russell Crowe and 40-year-old Cate Blanchett were simply Robin and Marian, their age of no concern. With a few exceptions, Hollywood's biggest stars are all well into their 40s now. Those who are younger, like 24-year-olds Robert Pattinson and Shia LaBeouf, are cast in teenaged roles without a second thought.

The age bump has even made the industry a little friendlier towards employing actresses over 40, which explains how a show like "Cougar Town" can make it in primetime. Now 46, "Friends" alum Cox is just five years younger than Rue McClanahan was when filming the pilot for "The Golden Girls."

Divorced Florida real estate agent Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox) shares a moment with her neighbor Grayson (Josh Hopkins), who is developed from newspaper buddy to guitar-playing bartender and more in "Cougar Town." Jules (Courteney Cox) and close friend/assistant Laurie (Busy Philipps) use their like-minded powers of observation to sarcastically comment on the people they see outside their realty office.

2009-10 was the thirteenth season of the past fourteen years that found Bill Lawrence producing television. It also introduced only his third new network series of that time. "Cougar Town" followed Lawrence's long runs on the acclaimed sitcoms "Spin City" and "Scrubs." That latter program also appears on the resume of "Cougar" co-creator Kevin Biegel, who served as a writer, story editor, and co-producer of the hospital comedy's fifth through eighth seasons.

Like "Spin City", "Cougar Town" was built around an actor familiar from a long-running sitcom. In this case, it's Courteney Cox, best known as the cleanly Monica Geller of "Friends." Since that landmark program signed off in 2004 after ten highly-rated seasons, Cox has fared a little better than most of her five fellow cast members. While unable to claim the flourishing film career of Jennifer Aniston, Cox has remained visible with two short seasons as the star of FX's "Dirt", a 3-episode Season 8 "Scrubs" arc, and small supporting roles in two Adam Sandler comedies. "Cougar Town", though, seems to be best suited to her talents and most catered to desirable career advancement.

In "Cougar Town", Cox (who also executive-produces the series with her husband David Arquette) plays Jules Cobb, a recently-divorced realtor in southern Florida. The title refers not to wildlife but to modern slang which likens to a mountain cat an over-40 woman on the prowl for a considerably younger boyfriend. Ever aware of her age and baggage, Jules is more interested in dating down the age scale than across or up it. She opens the series with a twentysomething boyfriend and moves to another immediately after, but the show soon stops being about a divorcιe looking to bag a younger man. (In fact, Lawrence toyed with renaming the feared to be off-putting title for the show's second season.)

The leading men of "Cougar Town" (Ian Gomez, Josh Hopkins, and Brian Van Holt) enjoy a round of Penny Can on Bobby's landlocked boat ironically titled "Jealous Much?" Mom's restarted love life isn't the only source of embarrassment for 18-year-old Travis (Dan Byrd); his father Bobby (Brian Van Holt) lives out of a parked boat, takes a landscaping job at his high school, and, as seen here, drives a golf cart.

Jules both fears and enjoys being back on the singles market she left as a smitten nineteen-year-old. To help guide her through these tricky waters, she turns to her two best friends, who can't stand each other: her partying twentysomething assistant Laurie (Busy Philipps, "Freaks and Geeks") and Ellie (Christa Miller, not straying far from her caustic "Scrubs" persona), the gossipy self-involved housewife next door.
One hitch in Jules' plans to reopen a love life is her close 18-year-old son Travis (Dan Byrd), who is embarrassingly aware of his mom's sexuality. As is Jules' ubiquitous ex-husband, Bobby (Brian Van Holt), an upbeat burnout who now drives a golf cart and lives in a landlocked parking lot boat. Also in the mix are Ellie's humorously henpecked husband Andy (Ian Gomez) and coed-cycling bartender neighbor Grayson (Josh Hopkins), Jules' "(news)paper buddy" clearly destined for love interest status.

"Cougar Town" isn't as inventive or ambitious as "Scrubs". Its stylings (a single camera and real locations) more adhere to than depart from present-day norms (CBS sitcoms excluded). At its start, the show doesn't aspire to any of the drama or poignancy of Lawrence's doctor series nor does it attempt any of that show's broader lunacy. Over the course of Season 1, it improves considerably, branching out beyond sexual subjects to more substantial ones. You start to recognize some of the qualities that made "Scrubs" so beloved; the callback comedy, a recurring walk-on joke character, and evident touches of humanity complementing the humor. You'll even find a few montages neatly unifying situational parallels to a song.

While remaining almost purely comedic, "Cougar Town" takes its storytelling duties seriously, supplying three fleshed-out plots per episode rather than settling for a flimsy or familiar scenario. The show's sensibilities are close to the lighter side of "Scrubs". At times, the fast tone borders on manic. The season's early episodes feel a bit lowbrow and trivial, while later ones seem overly enamored with romantic couplings. But the show is consistently entertaining and never without worth. Every one of the characters endears to some degree. And enough of the humor is on-target that those uninterested by that practically abandoned premise (the romantic rebirth of a divorced mother trying to resist middle age) may very well come away enjoying the show and the winning dynamic it finds in its "Cul-De-Sac Crew" ensemble.

Now available over a month before Season 2's premiere, the three-disc First Season DVD holds 24 episodes, all but the pilot named after Tom Petty songs. I've designated my favorites ("Cougar Town" episodes, not Tom Petty songs) with a blue star ().

The pilot opens with Jules noticing signs of her aging (such as extra elbow skin), but like this review, the show soon discards such thoughts. Laurie and Jules' night of alcohol-fueled partying is depicted "The Hangover"-style in wild still photos. Jules' efforts to get Grayson to admit she is attractive leave her with old spaghetti in her hair.

Disc 1

1. Pilot (23:31) (Originally aired September 23, 2009)
Jules' efforts to develop a new love life embarrass her son.

2. Into the Great Wide Open (21:32) (Originally aired September 30, 2009)
By partying it up with Laurie, Jules hopes to get the twenties experience she missed out on.

3. Don't Do Me Like That (21:32) (Originally aired October 7, 2009)
Jules takes extensive steps to prepare for her tenth date and first sex with Josh (Nick Zano).

4. I Won't Back Down (21:32) (Originally aired October 14, 2009)
Jules is determined to prove that Grayson thinks she is attractive.

Grayson sees Bobby at his most confident when he reluctantly agrees to golf with him. As Grayson predicts, Jules finds it difficult to fill a Saturday at home by herself. Laurie and Ellie find one thing they can both get behind: defending Jules from catty Shanna (guest star Rachael Harris).

5. You Wreck Me (21:32) (Originally aired October 21, 2009)
Jules promotes Laurie so she can spend more time with Josh. Grayson golfs with Bobby.

6. A Woman in Love (It's Not Me) (21:31) (Originally aired October 28, 2009)
Jules dumps Josh after he confesses his love for her. Bobby has cash troubles.

7. Don't Come Around Here No More (21:32) (Originally aired November 4, 2009)
Grayson bets Jules she can't spend the Saturday at home alone. (He's right.)

8. Two Gunslingers (21:32) (Originally aired November 18, 2009)
For Jules' 41st birthday, she, Laurie, and Ellie go to a resort.

Fulfilling her not so secret desire, Jules gets to host a big Thanksgiving dinner in "Here Comes My Girl." I'll be there for you... when your skin starts to sag. Lisa Kudrow guest-stars as Jules' unfriendly dermatologist.

Disc 2

9. Here Comes My Girl (21:31) (Originally aired November 25, 2009)
Jules hosts a big Thanksgiving and gets in the way of Travis' sex plans.

10. Mystery Man (21:31) (Originally aired December 9, 2009)
Jules gets hit on by an obnoxious buyer (Scott Foley). Andy tries parenting on his own.

11. Rhino Skin (21:32) (Originally aired January 6, 2010)
Jules' nasty skin doctor (Lisa Kudrow) makes her feel threatened when she starts seeing Bobby.

12. Scare Easy (21:31) (Originally aired January 13, 2010)
Jules re-evaluates her relationship with Jeff. Laurie has relationship worries of her own.

Travis and his girlfriend Kylie (Spencer Locke) contribute to an intercourse-heavy midseason episode. Jules turns up her game to attract the notice of Ellie's fake boyfriend/tennis instructor in "All the Wrong Reasons." Andy (Ian Gomez) must weigh professional advancement with personal integrity when a potential business partner (Barry Bostwick) speaks ill of his son's girlfriend (Laurie).

13. Stop Dragging My Heart Around (21:30) (Originally aired January 20, 2010)
Jules and Bobby have sex, as do Laurie and Grayson, and Travis and his girlfriend, Kylie (Spencer Locke).

14. All the Wrong Reasons (21:31) (Originally aired February 3, 2010)
Jules and Ellie vie for a tennis instructor's attentions. Meanwhile, the guys party it up on Bobby's boat.

15. When a Kid Goes Bad (21:31) (Originally aired February 10, 2010)
While worrying about spending a Valentine's Day alone, Jules won't let Travis attend a party with drinking.

16. What Are You Doin' in My Life? (21:31) (Originally aired March 3, 2010)
Jules meets Laurie's mom (guest Beverly D'Angelo) and objects to her actions.

A weekend of noodling (bare-handed fishing) does not provide anticipated father-son bonding for Bobby and Travis. Entering a serious adult relationship with Sara (Sheryl Crow), a woman closer to his age, reveals a new side of Grayson.

Disc 3

17. Counting on You (21:32) (Originally aired March 10, 2010)
Jules tries to prove to Grayson that men and women can be platonic friends. Ellie and Andy fight over his new motorcycle.

18. Turn This Car Around (21:31) (Originally aired March 24, 2010)
Jules tries to give up wine for a month, with major consequences. A 40-year-old woman (Sheryl Crow) challenges Grayson conversationally.

19. Everything Man (21:31) (Originally aired March 31, 2010)
Jules tries to refrain from butting in after showing Grayson how he's become "pursey-whipped."

20. Wake Up Time (21:32) (Originally aired April 14, 2010)
Cheating is on everybody's mind as Jules worries that Travis has inherited his father's infidelity.

Laurie's wealthy law student boyfriend Smith (Ryan Devlin) taps into her drama addiction by standing up to his disapproving father. Burying him up to his neck in sand puts Bobby in a good mood and ensures he'll stay put as Jules tells him she's in a new relationship. Travis (Dan Byrd) graduates from high school in the Season 1 finale.

21. Letting You Go (21:31) (Originally aired April 28, 2010)
Jules worries about Travis possibly going to college on the other side of the country. Laurie tries to have her drama needs filled by Smith (Ryan Devlin).

22. Feel a Whole Lot Better (21:31) (Originally aired May 5, 2010)
Jules and Grayson try being friends with benefits. Laurie teases Ellie for hiring a nanny without working. Travis helps Bobby chase after a red balloon worth $2,000.

23. Breakdown (21:32) (Originally aired May 12, 2010)
Jules stresses over telling Bobby about her new relationship.

24. Finding Out (21:31) (Originally aired May 19, 2010)
On the verge of graduating, Travis worries he hasn't made his mark in high school.

Watch a clip from "Cougar Town":

Second-billed regular Christa Miller is cited as an inspiration for the series by her husband, co-creator Bill Lawrence. Does that mean she is as controlling as her housewife character Ellie Torres? Travis, Andy, and Bobby pursue a $2,000 red balloon in one of the season's most entertaining storylines.


"Cougar Town" looks pretty great on DVD. Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the show is sharp, bright, and clean. On a large enough TV, you'll notice it isn't quite mistakable for a high-definition broadcast. You also may spot a few compression artifacts in the rare busy scene. But overall, it's still plenty satisfying.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack neither rocks the house nor intends to, but it does a nice job of presenting perfectly crisp dialogue and the occasional bit of music with clarity, depth, and consistency.

Co-creators Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel (evidently coordinated in pink and white shirts) discuss their inspirations in "Taming Cougar Town." Jules and Jeff (Scott Foley) assemble every item they could conceivably need in the amusing deleted scene "Bed Island." Courteney Cox and two of three male co-stars crack up in the Bloopers reel.


All of the DVD's bonus features are found on Disc 3, which should clue you in to the fact that, in stark contrast to Bill Lawrence's previous show,
See a clip from the featurette "Taming 'Cougar Town'":
no episodes are accompanied by audio commentaries here.

First up comes "Taming Cougar Town" (4:47), a short but good making-of featurette with real information on the series' conception and progress.

Fifteen deleted scenes (8:22) are named and clearly identified by the 11 episodes for which they were shot. Most of them run 30 seconds or less and deliver little more than a single cut line. The couple that are longer are also more interesting: one from the pilot that seems to introduce Grayson as the family's shrink and a funny Jules-Jeff conversation on "Bed Island."

The commonplace but enjoyable reel of Bloopers (1:48) consists almost entirely of screw-ups and the laughter that follows.

Shirley Jones and Cloris Leachman hunt young men in the unfunny Jimmy Kimmel sketch "Saber Tooth Tiger Town." Josh Hopkins takes his character's silly songwriting into the recording studio for a short music video of the ditty "Confident in My Sexuality." Barb (Carolyn Hennesy), the show's only real cougar and equivalent of The Todd on "Scrubs", sips wine and answers questions suggestively in her web series "Ask Barb."

"Saber Tooth Tiger Town" (2:00) is a sketch from "Jimmy Kimmel Live" featuring Cloris Leachman and Shirley Jones as senior citizens with a taste for young men. It's not at all funny and, despite being inspired by "Cougar Town", doesn't have much to do with the show. But it's a coolly atypical inclusion and one which includes one of the final appearances of late, great "Tim and Eric" regular Richard Dunn.

The remaining three features all originated as web content, a fact that is obvious from their appearance (looking a bit close to a low-quality stream) and their relaxed standards.

A 1-minute music video for "Confident in My Sexuality" (a catchy little 7th episode ditty that utilizes the rhyming possibilities of "Mariska Hargitay") is comprised primarily of show clips, with a few glimpses of Josh Hopkins recording the song in a studio.

Next come nine installments of "Ask Barb", each running 1-2 minutes each (13:12 overall), which allow the real cougar of the show, Carolyn Hennesy's randy Barbara, to answer submitted questions with innuendo in between sips of alcohol. One of these was created for the DVD. The character is much better in the small doses the series gives her; here, the shtick gets kind of old quickly.

Bobby Cobb (Brian Van Holt) dispatches golfing advice like only he can in the web series "Stroking It with Bobby Cobb." Items that represent the show and the state of Florida appear in the colorful animated DVD main menus inspired by the short title sequence.

Finally, four episodes of "Stroking it with Bobby Cobb" (4:35) offer a similar experience, albeit with the redneck ex supplying golfing tips with double entendre. Andy joins him in three of these shorts.

Disc One opens with promos for the new crop of ABC DVDs, "Grey's Anatomy": The Complete Sixth Season, "Private Practice": The Complete Third Season, and The Last Song. Disc 3's "Sneak Peeks" listing plays previews for You Again,
"Castle": The Complete Second Season, "Desperate Housewives": The Complete Sixth Season, "Brothers and Sisters": The Complete Fourth Season, "Legend of the Seeker": The Complete Second Season, "Ugly Betty": The Complete Fourth and Final Season, and ABC.

On each disc, the main menu offers an extended version of the 5-second opening title sequence ("opening" may be a stretch, as it often doesn't appear until 6-7 minutes in). In this sunny 3-dimensional tour of Florida map, characters pop up on benches and lawn signs.

The DVD's clear keepcase is packaged in a cardboard slipcover that embosses the title and parts of Cox. When Disc 3 is removed, the reverse/interior's list of episodes and extras can be partially made out. The additional photography is easier to spot and appreciate. A booklet promotes Disney's adult-friendly Blu-ray titles. Another supplies a coupon for $10 off one of the season's other nine ABC DVD releases (or a second "Cougar Town" copy), $4 off The Last Song, and an ad for the retirement-bound Soap Net.

Red wine flows in the house of Jules Cobb, where she (Courteney Cox) and the Cul-De-Sac Crew (Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Busy Philipps, Christa Miller, Brian Van Holt) walk carefully to the couch to avoid spills.


"Cougar Town" isn't quite as funny or investable as "Scrubs", but Bill Lawrence's latest show remains several notches above average network television programming. More entertaining and widely appealing than you might expect, this Courteney Cox vehicle definitely deserves a look.

Supplementally, the DVD isn't the home run that "Scrubs" sets usually are. But, boasting solid picture and sound plus a decent 35 minutes of bonus videos, it doesn't leave much to be desired. Further sweetening the set is the fact that it arrives at a list price lower than other studios' comparable releases and could go even lower with a coupon from/for a fellow fall ABC set.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

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Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season • Ugly Betty: The Complete First Season • The Golden Girls: The Complete First Season
Scrubs: Season 1 • Season 2 • Season 3 • Season 4 • Season 5 • Season 6 • Season 7 • Season 8
Sex and the City • Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season • Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season
Courteney Cox: Dirt: The Complete First Season • Bedtime Stories

Featuring Other Cougar Town Cast Members:
Brothers and Sisters: The Complete First Season • Everything You Want • He's Just Not That Into You

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Reviewed August 17, 2010.

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