Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: ABC Wednesday Night Comedies Are All New Again!...

TV Talk for Wednesday, April 11th 2012

The Middle
(ABC, 8pm) - S3, Ep20: "Get Your Business Done" - I am totally with the Hecks on this one. If I had the option of going to a gospel church, I would have happily attended. The singing, the merriment, the general joy passed from congregation member to congregation member...I probably would have even felt good enough to wear one of the unnecessary hats. The few moments I spent in church with the Hecks was inspiring enough for me to want to get up and do something, so I understood their urgency-- even if the sermon had not been about death. It was so fitting that Sue (Eden Sher) would take the message literally and start a business, and it was equally so that Axl (Charlie McDermott) would manipulate the meaning to suit him and one of his selfish wants. It's always a good time when the brothers are paired together; they're a modern day Lemmon and Matthau in a lot of ways-- but Sue babysitting a teenager was a little much. Because the kid still wore diapers to bed and got high off soda. And his parents not only allowed that, but they were the cause of his delusions. De-press-ing. But it wasn't as depressing as Frankie (Patricia Heaton), a grown woman, realizing she has no idea what her "business" is. And instead of stressing out over the deeper implications of being so lost so late in life, she focused on the little things. But they still kept her awake at night. It was funny, but it hit a nerve with me because more times than not, especially lately, I've been Frankie, my brain racing with too many thoughts to allow me to drift off to sleep when I want to. Sometimes our ideas are bigger than us. And sometimes our ideas are just grasping at straws anyway. So to avoid having to think too much about something that should just entertain and cause laughter, more Brick (Atticus Shaffer) finding a game he's good at, please!

Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30pm) - S1, Ep18: "Down Time" - Am I the only one who assumed Malik (Maestro Harrell) was gay? I think it was the Medium fan club. So when Lisa (Allie Grant) said she was dating him, I went "Aw, sweetie" in my head. I like Lisa; I don't want her to set down a path of dating closeted guys in high school. It doesn't bode well for her in the future. But their relationship, as weird as it may be for other reasons, did seem legit. Enough to make Tessa (Jane Levy) a very awkward third wheel at the frozen yogurt shop. Maybe even more of a third wheel than she would be hanging out with George (Jeremy Sisto) and Dallas (Cheryl Hines). But seriously, when did Malik become cool? Or was that guy afraid of being pantsed by him just an even bigger nerd? Between that and Sheila's (Ana Gasteyer) attempts at being the cool mom/actually being proud of her daughter, this episode just felt super different from the show that had come before it. But maybe it felt that way because it hasn't aired a new episode in so long, so I haven't seen the show in so long. In some ways, it feels like a lot of time has passed, and yet in others, it's like none has at all. Enter George and Dallas' stalled relationship and her inability to get over her divorce. I love the idea of Ryan (Parker Young) and Tessa, by the way. His pep talk wasn't even as "sports guy" as I expected. He was insightful and sweet and just the right amount of dumb to snap Tessa back to her usual precocious ways. I also love Yakult. Whether or not Dalia (Carly Chaikin) fully warms to the dog or not, I just want more of the dog! It was adorable that Lisa was so worried about Tessa having do to some things alone now that she has a boyfriend because I imagine before Tessa came along she (Lisa) was doing a lot of things alone. She must assume Tessa isn't good at being independent, but she's a city kid, so she should be fine. Jonathan Slavin was a welcome familiar face in the episode, and even James Lipton had a nice turn as a therapist who managed to get a feeling from Dalia. I guess I didn't realize how much I missed this show until it was back. That's probably why I balked at first at the differences-- because they were born of growth and development, in part, that took place during the hiatus, and I don't want to miss a minute!

Modern Family
(ABC, 9pm) - S3, Ep19: "Election Day" - Claire (Julie Bowen) is so competitive, I kind of can't believe she's allowing anyone in her family to take over parts of her campaign, even if it's just additional help with voters. But I know it means it won't end well because when people who have such issues with control as she does let a little of it go, they're always disappointed. Especially on TV. I am surprised that as many people in her family made it to the polls as they said, though I expected others to be the ones to make it there. Jay (Ed O'Neill), for example, should have been a lock. He's not the type of guy who should be scared off by anything, let alone an old flame. Though I guess it's possible he knew if he ran into her while voting she never would have put his paperwork through. It's a weird way to get back at him, especially all these years later, but people with tiny pieces of power find weird ways to abuse it. Hence Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam's (Eric Stonestreet) bullhorn mishap. Out of all of the little ways of finding power in this episode-- from Alex (Ariel Winter) running the makeshift phone bank, to Luke (Nolan Gould) making promises no politician could keep, to David Cross dropping off the stop sign after all, my favorite was the bullhorn. What a rush to drive around town and tell people off! I am a little bummed that Claire didn't win the city council slot. I think it would have been a nice dynamic for next season to see the added stress on her plate from the ridiculous requests from bored housewives like her. But then again, I guess we already have a show that does that, and it's Parks and Rec. And I'm glad she didn't steal Joey Tribbiani's "The audition didn't go so well...Yeah it did!" fake out anyway. Besides, she'll have her hands full keeping Haley (Sarah Hyland) occupied and productive once she has graduated high school with no place to go. And am I the only one who got a little choked up at Jay's "You can always work for me" to Haley and then how excited the family got when she got wait-listed? That's how a family should react to a kid's (however seemingly minor) accomplishment!

Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23
(ABC, 9:30pm) - S1, Ep1: "Pilot" - This episode felt like the perfect short film. At the end of it, there was resolution and a mutual respect between June (Dreama Walker) and Chloe (Krysten Ritter), so where could it go from here? Well, admittedly, I know where it goes from here, and it's a bit of a backslide. It would have to be-- the 'b' is in the title! But that's okay, as long as James Van Der Beek is utilized more and more as the episodes go on. He's a surprising revelation ("Hey Tiger Beat!") and my favorite part of this whole pilot. His is a role that could have very easily come across as just a one-dimensional gimmick, but he adds so much color and genuinely seems to be having so much fun, the layers just fall into place and build on themselves. He's certainly more fully fleshed out (probably because he's based on the real deal) than the creepy nudist neighbor or the creepy stalker (female) neighbor. I love Liza Lapira, but she keeps getting the short end of the stick with these roles. Of course, no one is more over the top than Chloe herself, but there's something in there-- deep, deep...deep, deep, deep down-- that means well. We've seen hints of it; June's seen hints of it; so it's only a matter of time before she cracks the surface even more. And vice versa: Chloe has already brought out a little bit of the fighter in June, so that bodes well for her growing a pair and growing up. Much like my early commentary about 2 Broke Girls, I want this show to focus more on the roommates (and the Beek!) going forward and slowly but surely do away with the somewhat stale, even if not stereotypical, quirky for quirky's sake secondary characters-- Mark, the neighbors, and if I never see June's fiance again, I will be a happy camper. I like the odd dichotomy between Chloe's dry darkness and June's naive and sunny demeanor. I like banter in general. The dialogue is super crisp across the board, and it just feels smart. It's the kind of show that gets more enjoyable with multiple viewings, and that's honestly one of the highest compliments I can pay it. I love me some Happy Endings, but if something has to take its time slot, this is more than worthy.

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