"Happy Endings" is one of the best sitcoms on network television today. That isn't because the series is reinventing the wheel - in fact, the premise of the series is entirely unremarkable. The series revolves around a group of friends - Happy Endings follows the lives of six close-knit friends living in Chicago: married yuppies, businessman Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and wife Jane (Eliza Coupe, last seen during the last season or two of "Scrubs", and a much better fit here); ditzy Alex (Elisha Cuthbert), a boutique owner and Jane's younger sister; Dave (Zachary Knighton), who used to be engaged to Alex until she broke it off; slacker Max (Adam Pally) and single Penny (Casey Wilson).
The series was originally more focused on the aftermath of the break-up between Dave and Alex, but thankfully the series has shifted much more to crafting situations between the group and developing the core characters. Again, the core of the series is nothing special, and it wouldn't surprise me if people avoided it out of how seemingly familiar it appeared.
However, those who have have missed a series that proves the importance of quality writing. "Endings" won't wind up in the television Hall of Fame anytime soon, but the series is - in my opinion - about the most laugh-dense sitcom currently on network TV. The writing is consistently clever, snappy and enjoyably off-the-wall - and when it's not one-liners, it's superbly played sight gags.
The writing and solid casting have also resulted in a group of characters that click well together and seem like more than the usual one-dimensional characters often seen in sitcoms. While it doesn't quite hit the heights of the early seasons of "Scrubs" (which should have stopped after what people thought was the finale offered one of the most emotional endings in recent TV history), the humor and chemistry of the cast feels rather similar at times.
The show's outstanding writing does a terrific job taking standard concepts and tweaking them, turning Jane's HOA presidency into a bizarrely funny dictatorship ("With the HOA, it just makes more sense to give one person complete power to suppress opposition and criticism") that evolves into something unexpected, throwing out a spot-on "Goonies" reference and ending with a tremendously funny visual riff backed by Ice Cube's "Today Was a Good Day".) "The Butterfly Effect Effect" is another superb example, as the gang has replaced Groundhog Day with Brad and Jane's annual fight (the episode drops another of my favorite throwaway lines from the season: "I just got the Criterion edition of 'Clueless', so I'll see you guys later.")
Other highlights include: "Cocktails and Dreams" (Dave turns his food truck into a speakeasy), "Grinches Be Crazy" (Jane and Brad give their housekeeper an overly generous tip), "Meet the Parrots" (Dave finds that his father is dating Penny's 3x divorced mother) and "The Kerkovich Way" (After sleeping with Dave, Alex gets Jane's help in creating a master plan to convince him it never happened.)
Overall, "Happy Endings" remains a bright spot in an otherwise fairly ho-hum world of network sitcoms, and I'm glad that the series was renewed for another round.
The set provides the entire second season.
VIDEO: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation offers solid, digital-cable like video quality, with a consistently crisp image. Colors looked bright and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: Crisp, clear 2.0 audio.
EXTRAS: Unfortunately, not much - deleted scenes and outtakes. I'd have liked a cast commentary.
Final Thoughts: "Happy Endings" doesn't reinvent the wheel, but the laugh-packed series offers solid writing and a very good cast. The DVD offers pleasing audio/video quality, but minimal extras. Highly recommended.