A scene from "Happy Endings," which returns for its second...

A scene from "Happy Endings," which returns for its second season on Oct. 23, 2012. Credit: ABC

THE SHOW "Happy Endings"

WHEN | WHERE Season premiere 9 p.m. Tuesday on ABC/7

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The third-year sitcom is about six 30-something-ish close friends, living in Chicago (although they are mostly goofing off in Chicago). They are: Jane (Eliza Coupe), married to Brad (Damon Wayons Jr.), who lost his job last season; Alex (Elisha Cuthbert), Jane's sis, who is once again dating food truck owner Dave (Zachary Knighton); and gay slacker Max (Adam Pally), who is especially close pals with Penny (Casey Wilson).

Tuesday night, Penny's in a full body cast after an unfortunate accident; even more unfortunate, Max is caring for her. Meanwhile, Jane is happy Brad is out of work so he can pursue his hobbies. Next week: Alex and Dave go apartment hunting. (Uh-oh.)

MY SAY "Happy Endings" began way back at a time when networks were in hot, crazy pursuit of another "Friends" or a "How I Met Your Mother" rip-off that would make either a fortune or keep a time period warm until something better came along. Which is to say, just last year. There was a real traffic jam of such buddy-rom-coms in the spring of 2011, leading to this not unreasonable speculation: How many more shows about young urban professionals in various stages of relationships can viewers take before they just say, "Shut up, bro!"

Initially frantic and forced, "Happy Endings" in fact looked to be an early casualty. Then something quite amazing happened: This turned into one of the funniest comedies on television. Doubtless there's a story here, of off-screen creative tinkering, or sage (if you can imagine) network guidance. Or maybe the excellent cast just needed time to jell.

"Happy Endings," cast and all, has now officially jelled. The show exists on the same cosmic (and comic) TV plain as "Scrubs," "Arrested Development" and that other late bloomer, "Cougar Town." But it's also engineered for a viewer who has grown up on -- and probably grown out of -- "HIMYM," too.

As such, this isn't so much a bro-rom-com as an inversion of one. The running joke is how six young adults never mature, and "Seinfeld"-like, never, ever learn. So far, the joke's a very good one.

BOTTOM LINE Tuesday's episode is a decent start, but next week's "Sabado Free-Gante" is classic "Happy Endings": Ridiculous, silly and, of course, funny.


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