Monday, February 6, 2012

Rally Around Cougar Town

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece for an upcoming of CBS Watch Magazine, about the historic moment when, due to popular outcry, CBS' '80s cop show Cagney & Lacey was brought back from the dead.

Since then, only a select few shows have been saved by the fans; as Judah Friedlander's character Frank Rossitano once said in my favorite line from 30 Rock, "They sent peanuts to save Jericho, and they sent douchebags to save Entourage" (although I don't think in real life Entourage was ever in any danger.)

Now, in today's social media world, Cougar Town is taking the same approach -- but, brilliantly, they're doing it preemptively.  When the show didn't land a spot on ABC's schedule for this past fall, we Cougar Town fans were worried -- as was Abed on NBC's similarly endangered Community, who in a brilliant gag, had to console himself with YouTube episodes of the show's British inspiration "Cougarton Abbey."

But this winter, when ABC announced its spring schedule with Cougar Town STILL missing, that's when fans really got worried -- and the show's creator/executive producers Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel began a clever word-of-mouth campaign to keep their show alive.  As Lawrence notes in an email just this morning to TV critics, "Trying everything; we just all like our jobs too much."

Presumably at the show's expense, the producers have flown the CT actors to appear at episode screening parties in cities across the US, and plied fans with T-shirts -- and as Lawrence admits, to ABC's legal department's dismay, also free wine and the chance at a walk-on role.  In another ballsy move, they even held a cocktail party for the critics of the TCA last month, in the bar of the very hotel where ABC had presented its Cougar Town-less spring schedule just hours before.

Luckily, when the network's Work It bombed after two episodes (too many), it became clear that Cougar Town could inherit that half-hour time slot, and it was quickly announced that that was the plan.  So the show is now set to return on Tuesday, February 14 at 8:30 PM Eastern/Pacific.  I'm concerned that this fun, snarky show might have an incompatible lead-in in Tim Allen's new family sitcom Last Man Standing, but I'm not going to quibble -- I'm just glad that Cougar Town season 3 is about to begin.  (And as Lawrence notes in his email, at least Fox was kind enough to take the time slot competition Glee off the air for 7 weeks.)

Below, the season 3 highlight reel teasing great stuff to come on Cougar Town.  I've seen several of the episodes, and can tell you that the show remains as sharp and funny as ever, with many romantic, beautiful moments masterfully mixed in.  Enjoy!
Bill Lawrence on WhoSay