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"Work It" doesn't work, while "Cougar Town" fans work overtime to get ABC to finally schedule this sitcom's third season premiere

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"Work It" doesn't work, while "Cougar Town" fans work overtime to get ABC to finally schedule this sitcom's third season premiere

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Mrs. Rabbit: Thumper!

Thumper: Yes, mama?

Mrs. Rabbit: What did your father tell you this morning?

Thumper: (clears throat) If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Work It," that new high-concept comedy which premieres tonight (8:30 - 9 p.m.) on the ABC Television Network is ... Well ... er ... um ...

Oh, to hell with it. This genuinely unfunny sitcom makes me really, really, REALLY miss "Cougar Town."

You remember "Cougar Town," right? That adult comedy which used to air on ABC on Wednesday nights right after "Modern Family"? This Bill Lawrence production may have had an awful title. But "Cougar Town" was smart and irreverent.  More to the point, it had a terrific ensemble (Courtney Cox, Christa Miller and Ian Gomez among others) who clearly enjoyed performing this show's sharply written scripts.

The cast of ABC's "Cougar Town." (L to R) Busy Philipps, Josh Hopkins, Courteney
Cox, Brian Van Holt, Ian Gomez, Christa Miller and Dan Byrd as Travis. Photo by Bob
D'Amico. Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

But as ABC executives were putting together their schedule for the 2011 - 2012 season, they seem to have decided to go another way - at least when it comes to sitcoms. So smart and irreverent was out (Which is why "Cougar Town" got benched 'til mid-season. Not to mention having its initial order for Season 3 of this ABC Studios production pared back from 22 episodes to 15) while crude & crass were in.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. As Mel Brooks has proved over the course of his 60+ year career, being crude & crass can sometimes translate into comedy gold. Likewise having men dressed up as women has been a proven laugh-getter for as far back as Aristophanes.

So if that's really the case, then why doesn't "Work It" work? I honestly don't know what to tell you here, folks. But from the very first scene of this show's pilot, it's clear that something very wrong has gone on behind-the-scenes. Because viewers are being asked to buy into a highly unlikely premise where extremely unlikable characters then do dumb things that would never ever happen in real life.

Finding a job in this economy was a real drag for Ben Koldyke as Lee and Amaury
Nolascoas Angel in ABC's "Work It." Photo by Bob D'Amico. Copyright American
Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

And - yes - I know. This is a sitcom. And over the history of television, there are lots of very successful sitcoms which featured highly unlikely premises. But you wanna know the difference between those TV shows and "Work It"? Those sitcoms were funny.

And that - in a nutshell - is "Work It" 's real flaw. It's just not funny. And I say this as someone who gets a lot of enjoyment out of watching ABC's "Wipeout." Which shows that I can go for crass-and-crude comedy, especially if it's well executed.

And speaking of execution ... Here's hoping that ABC puts "Work It" out of its misery fairly quickly. So that there'll once again be room on this network's schedule for a smart, irreverent sitcom like - say  - "Cougar Town."

Bill Lawrence confers with Courtney Cox on the set of ABC's "Cougar Town."
Photo by Bruce Birmelin. Copyright American Broadcasting Companies,
Inc. All rights reserved

And speaking of "Cougar Town" ... To help build buzz for the as-yet-unscheduled-return of this ABC Studios production, Bill Lawrence has recently begun staging special screening parties for this sitcom around the country. So if you're a "Cougar Town" fan who lives in Austin, Boston, Connecticut, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego or San Francisco, you might want to sign up for Bill's Twitter feed.

That way, you'll be among the first to get the heads-up about any "Cougar Town" events that are to be held in your neck-of-the-woods in the coming weeks. And if the screening parties that were held last Tuesday night in Atlanta, Louisville and Sarasota are any indication of what's to come, you can expect to meet at least one really-for-real member of this show's cast plus a member of "Cougar Town" 's writing staff. And there'll be live on-site games of Penny Can. And did I mention that you'll get to see episodes from Season 3 BEFORE they air on ABC?

Just to be clear here: These are not Disney or ABC sanctioned or sponsored events. Lawrence is using social media to set these up all on his own. More to the point, Bill's paying for these special "Cougar Town" screening parties out of his own pocket.

The cast of ABC's "Work It" : (L to R) John Caparullo, Beth Lacke, Hannah Sullivan,
Amaury Nolasco (standing), Ben Koldyke (seated), Rebecca Mader, Kate Reinders,
Kirstin Eggers and Rochelle Aytes. Photo by Bob D'Amico. Copyright American
Broadcasting  Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

You know what strikes me ironic about this whole situation? Here's Bill Lawrence working so hard, putting in all of the extra time & effort into making sure that viewers don't forget about "Cougar Town" while it's off the air. And then there's the "Work It" production team, who couldn't be bothered to put in the time & effort necessary to come with a workable premise for that sitcom before it aired on ABC.

Sorry. That's not very Thumper-like of me, is it?

Okay. One final "Work It" -related note. To make sure that the ABC Television Network knows that the viewers haven't forgotten about "Cougar Town," as "Work It" is airing from 8:30 - 9 p.m. E/PT tonight, fans of this Bill Lawrence show are going to try and make Cougar Town a trending topic on Twitter.

Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved

I'm not sure if using social media like this will have any real lasting impact when it comes to the twits who run the network. But when it comes to "Cougar Town" fans, I have to admit that I do admire their (Penny) can-do spirit.

Your thoughts?

And speaking of Penny Can, have you noticed JHM's new tip jar? I bet that you could hit it from here if you tried ...

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  • Thanks for this article! Us, Cougar Town fans  "fight" for a great & hirlarious show, our show! Cougar Town has one of the best witting, ensemble cast (chemistry). The cast & crew are amazing

    Guys, watch the show!!! You don't regret it! Oh and Cougar Town is not about cougars! ;)

    Sign the petition to support the show http://twitition.com/gupbt (2441 signatures right now)

  • Dear ABC, You did this already.  Remember 'Bosom Buddies'?

  • When Cougar Town was missing from the fall schedule, I thought it had been canceled . . . and was not happy.  It was months before I learned it was just on hiatus and going to return.  It made no sense to me.  I'll look forward to its return.

    As for Working It, from the first commercial it looked horrible.  The first requirement on a show like this is that the men be believable as women.  And it just seems like a premise from another century.

  • Work It sounds funny - thanks for reviewing it, Jim!  I'll have to watch it now, but will be prepared for failure just in case.

  • I saw Work It last night and following your mantra, I'm going to have to say, "let's agree to disagree"

    I liked it. It wasn't the funniest thing I've seen, but it has potential. I'm going to give it another few episodes before I decide if it's worthy for the DVR.

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