After a too-long seven-month hiatus, Cougar Town returns with original episodes tonight at ten. If the folks at TBS have done their job, you know that these new episodes will be airing on the cable network and not ABC (which decided to kill Cougar to make room for the likes of Malibu Country and The Neighbors). While the show looks the same, there’s one big difference behind the scenes: Executive producers and co-creators Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel are no longer the mayors of Cougar Town. Ric Swartzlander (Gary Unmarried) has taken over, with the other two guys now working on new projects. To help mark the passing of the wine glass, we asked Lawrence to share some of the advice he gave Swartzlander before moving on. And yes, one of his suggestions involves alcohol.
1. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. The show is the show. We just want to deliver the same product to fans.
2. Don’t shy away from sentimental or emotional stories. We like doing these.
3. Reward longtime fans (with continuity jokes and callbacks).
4. Include Courteney in all creative decisions. She’s not a producer in name only and is the show’s biggest champion.
5. Let TBS be part of the process. They bought the show, they love it, and they’re actually marketing it (that’s new); they deserve to be treated like a partner.
6. Never stop marketing the show (with Twitter, videos, extra content). This is the future of television survival.
7. Let the actors riff, improv, and, most important, own their characters. They know their characters better than the writers now.
8. Exploit my (and Kevin B’s) emotional attachment to the show. We will both work here way more than we planned because we love it.
9. The show is really about adult friendship. It only works if the audience knows deep down that the characters all love each other.
10. Be a good guy. Some of the crew here have worked together almost twenty years across three different shows. The “no asshole” policy has been in effect for many moons.
11. Have a glass of wine once in a while. It helps you get in the right headspace.