Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life may just have the most annoyingly long title on television at the moment. Add to the series title the “rest” of it, i.e. the episode title; in this case “How to Survive Being a Plus One,” and reviewing this new FOX comedy series becomes an exercise in frustration… Leaving the title issues alone, episode 103, with its “24” Jack Bauer style comedy in the middle, is funny, cute and still entertaining.
(And how many times can one put the word title in a paragraph? Four.)
Perhaps this reviewer is easily entertained, or satisfied. Cooper Barrett’s “How to Survive Being a Plus One” and its “24” theme may have been an overly long riff on the old adage “Dance with the guy what brung ya,” but the humor still works. Even without the Jack Bauer spiel, which was good, the episode rocked it in terms of comedy and the continuing “romance” between Cooper (Jack Cutmore-Scott) and Kelly (Meaghan Rath).
The episode opens with Cooper and Kelly in the back of a truck and Barrett explains about being invited to different places. When Cooper asks the Mexican they are sharing the truck bed with how long till they arrive, he explains that the couple are sitting in “goat poop.”
“THREE WEEKS EARLIER”
Appears at the same time Kelly, Barry (the lovable a**), Neal and Cooper are drinking in a bar. The next-door neighbor, who every heterosexual male in America would kill for, reveals that her ex is getting married to a girl “named after a small orange” in Mexico.
The three men express surprise that Kelly was in a long (four year) relationship and she responds:
“I wasn’t always the fun-loving single girl that warms a room with a smile, a wink and a hair flip. You know.”
(Kelly flips her hair, smiles, laughs and winks)
Neal: “What are you doing?”
Cooper: “Are you having a stroke?”
This particular part of the episode managed to cram a number of funny lines into an incredibly short space. Winning gag of the set = Cooper’s response to the wedding invitation’s musical clue as to where Thom and Clem are getting married:
“In a Telenovela?”
Before the bar scene ends, Cooper becomes the plus one for Kelly and
“THREE WEEKS LATER”
Neal and Barry are having a 24 hour binge marathon of “24,” and Kelly has picked out, and packed, Cooper’s three obligatory wedding outfits:
Kelly: “You have three looks: Wedding Ain’t No Thing, Reception Sophistication and my personal favorite, Good-bye Brunch Chic.”
Cooper then goes out to do last minute shopping and his car is towed away as well as impounded. Thus begins the “24” Jack Bauer themed middle part of the episode where first Neal, and then Barry, don the headset, key the laptop and send help. Not surprisingly the help comes in the form of big brother Josh (Justin Bartha) and then his wife Leslie (Liza Lapira).
After a funny scene where Kelly and Cooper hide in Barry’s ice cream truck to sneak inside the impound lot and then barely escape with their luggage and passports the “24” theme continues when Kelly’s dress is ruined.
Finally, Josh, Leslie, Barry, and Neal all join Kelly and Cooper in Josh’s car and they drive to the wedding. However, in keeping with the “everything that can go wrong will” aspect of this show, the car develops a flat and the Bishop and Barrett have to hop a lift in the goat poop truck.
While this episode lacks the high profile of a special guest like Paula Abdul, it provides a certain cohesion for Barrett, Bishop, Josh, and Leslie in term of character identification and an amount of fleshing out.
What makes Cooper work so well as a character is his initial desperation, at any given problem, and then his complete and total belief that what ever asinine, or desperate last minute plan he comes up with will work. Cooper has faith that everything will work out, if not as a result of his first plan, then “Plan B” will save the day.
So far, Barrett has been proven right…
Bishop may look like the girl next door but this adorable cuteness hides a micro-managing woman who will take control at the first opportunity. She also has recognized that Cooper may well be her perfect match and it is clear that she will work to make this happen.
Older brother Josh proves in this episode that while he may not be willing to spend any more cash on his brother, he will go all out to help where he can. Even going so far as to romance a TSA agent. Leslie also shows that she will help out, in this case providing her new bestie Kelly a replacement frock and that she has a sense of humor.
At the wedding ceremony, which was cancelled because the orange girl dropped out, Josh’s cell phone rings and he tells Leslie:
“Oh, I should get this. It’s this TSA agent I might have to have sex with.”
Leslie (without skipping a beat): “Cool. I might make out with the mariachi band.”
In Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life things have a way of turning out okay. It seems that his eternal optimism is not misplaced at all. In terms of the “will they, won’t they” thing between Kelly and Cooper it really feels more like a “when they.”
It may well be that MikesFilmTalk is the only site that really appreciates this new FOX offering. Other sites have been pretty “meh” about the whole series thus far. Perhaps they do not get a show where one does not have to “reach” for the gags, or it is hard for them to see the beauty of the quirkiness and toned down Animal House, National Lampoon vibe going on.
(One feels that Cooper Barrett may well be “Van Wilder” (sans Ryan Reynolds of course) all grown up.)
This is a fun series and one that crosses the Ts and dots the Is. Consider this; Josh is driving and singing to “The Weekend” song “Can’t Feel My Face” (when I’m with you) when Neal does his “24” and calls big bro to help out Cooper. Later, at the very end of the episode, the wedding band play and sing their own version of “Can’t Feel My Face.”
What is not to like?
Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life airs Sundays on FOX. Tune in and join the 2.45 million folks who do like the show. Warning: Prepare to get a huge crush on Meghan Rath’s character Kelly…