Ranking ABC's Wednesday Comedies: Suburgatory for the Winsday!

The taste of victory is sweet, especially in a cutthroat pie contest or a high-stakes cake walk. But when you’re judging ABC’s Wednesday comedy block, all is not a bed of frosting roses. Especially when some of the pies are filled with spicy rhubarb and some of the cakes are shaped like erotic zones. We’ve done our delicious duty and watched last night's episodes, now let's take off our bibs and start handing out the blue ribbons, because it's...

FOR THE WINSDAY!


The Middle S03E17: “The Sit Down”

The Middle continues to be “The Sue Show” for me. It's not just Eden Sher’s enviable wardrobe, this girl is some kind of comedy prodigy. When she gets her Mark Twain award, let's all remember I called it first. In the actual episode, I thought the opening shot of the Hecks sweeping their kids out the door in the morning, a beat on the door, and then all of them returning, still arguing at the end of the day, was absolutely charming. Also charming: the three siblings piled up in Axl’s car, searching for Sue’s coat, while Brick neatly read and summarized Of Mice and Men aloud. Whether or not the Heck kids need to have more time apart from the parents, the actors sure blossom in a scene together. Hope we get more of that. Still bothered by P-Heats' wig.

Final Score: 5.1


Suburgatory S01E15: “Fire With Fire”

While the broad strokes were excellent in this episode (Dahlia poached Tessa’s friend Lisa, Dallas went through a post-divorce renaissance), the comedy, like the impressiveness of a tennis visor, was in the details: Noah asking his wife who got her to go so “buttery” on her lightened hair, Dallas and Wilmer Valderrama’s poetic eschewing of grammar, and Dahlia’s deadpan. Seriously anything Carly Chaikin says is pure gold. The writers give her a line, and nuggets of gold clunk onto the set floor when it comes out of her mouth. Dahlia's speech to Tessa about eventually becoming stepsisters was not only hilarious, it was an outré way of outlining where I think many of us assume Season 2 is going. Whether it was intended as a foreshadowing, a wink at the audience, or an alert that Suburgatory isn’t that predictable is up for discussion. Also, George bought Dallas a drink. Countdown to stepsisters?

Final Score: 7.3


Modern Family S03E16: “Virgin Territory”

Hayley is almost 18? Was I alone in thinking she was 15 or 16? Regardless, Ty Burrell really shined last night, for once not as a comedian but as a dramatic actor. I don’t know if a deluge of tears is the way I would handle learning my kid was sexually active, but he was very convincing. And Ed O’Neill was no slouch himself in bringing a tear to my eye, when he shared his version of his first-beer memory with Mitchell; that was very touching. And Claire shared a moment with Gloria, also sweet. Still, amidst all these heartfelt moments, not a lot of hard laughs. And I’m here to gauge the ha-has, babies. The parody of the American Girl Dolls was DEAD on, that toy subculture badly needs a skewering, and Cam’s last line when he found his Tupperware was perfect. I will give the show points, though, for constructing a successful Rue Goldberg device.

Final Score: 6.6


Happy Endings S02E15: “The Butterfly Effect Effect”

So Brad and Jane have a yearly fight that the rest of their friends believe foretells the coming of the spring. And Max hibernates like a bear during the winter. Both of these premises were very explored and while funny in themselves, there were tons of brilliant throwaway jokes as well. In a cast full of UCB alumni, Elisha Cuthbert’s comedic chops always shine. She’s a very funny lady, is what I’m trying to say. Alex’s Renee Zellweger face was spot-on, and she and Eliza’s shared sister language was charming, but for me the highlight of the episode was Penny’s flowing Angela Bassett pants. That kind of pinpoint accuracy in finding something in itself hilarious and then incorporating it into the show makes every episode a delightful surprise. The only deduction I will apply this week is that Max turning into a bear not only deprived me of my Max fix, but it veered too far from reality, even for Happy Endings, for me to fully enjoy it.

Final Score: 7.25



RANKINGS:

Suburgatory: 7.3
Happy Endings: 7.25
Modern Family: 6.6
The Middle: 5.2

Overall Average: 6.8

Wow! Not only was reigning comedy Happy Endings finally unseated by Suburgatory, but the entire comedy block took a giant step forward this week! An incredible jump up to 6.8 from 6.5! Everybody should be very proud, but its the viewers who were the real winners this week.

Speaking of which, here is our Viewer’s Blue Ribbon Win from last week! I went through the comments and averaged your scores for last week's episodes to compile this second opinion on the February 16 comedy block:



Happy Endings: 7.4 average
Suburgatory: 7.3
Modern Family: 6.7
The Middle: 6

Thanks for voting, and if you rank three or more of this week’s episodes, I’ll include your scores in the next Viewer’s Blue Ribbon Win!


QUESTIONS:

– Isn’t it kind of hard to lose a coat when it's cold outside? Don’t you generally like to put it on before you leave to go somewhere?

– Was Dahlia’s speech foreshadowing for her and Tessa becoming sisters, or was it a way for the show to tell us it's not going to be that predictable?

– What is the appropriate age to start having sex these days? In my day, you had to have at least completed three quilts before you could start courting.

– Have you ever frozen a bra?

Comments (26)
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Surprisingly Modern Family actually came out on top for me this week (considering it's normally full of overused jokes and nothing compared to Happy Endings or Suburgatory) but everything was brilliant from Phil freaking out and the doll store to cameron hunting through the kitchen for tuppaware to Manny curb crawling!!! Brilliant



Modern Family 8 ---- Happy Endings 7.5 ----- Suburgatory 7
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Suburgatory: 7.5... Modern Family: 6.5... Happy Endings: 7.5



I'm proud to admit I generally don't like shows where my three favorite characters are teenage girls. But I like Suburgatory, and Tessa, Lisa, and Dahlia are all hilarious.



It was a tie for me. As for the quality of the episode, Suburgatory was probably better than Happy Endings. The Max storyline was, I agree, a bit too farfetched. But I found myself laughing or chuckling or giggling more often during Happy Endings than I did with Suburgatory. So, tie.



Dahlia's rant about how painful she's going to make Tessa's future was the best moment of all the shows.



Also loved Happy Endings': "Nobody calls it a Bro-zillian." "Yeah, next thing you're going to tell me is there's no such thing as a scro-tee."
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i give them all 2's for this week's weak performances

oh and its called a rube goldberg machine
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Bitter'O's for breakfast??
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LOVE Suburgatory!



I have never left my coat anywhere. I am always cold. If for some reason I left it somewhere, the second I walked outside, I would remember.



Dahlia's speech, well, I think it was the show telling us they won't be that predictable. At least I hope so. I love the idea of George and Dallas getting together, but it can't happen YET!



Appropriate age? When you can deal with the consequences that can possibly happen on your own.



No.
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Why don't you rate nbc's comedy thursday?

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It wouldn't take long.

Where's Community?

The Office makes us sad.

Parks and Rec is funny...

blah
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Dahlia's speech was epic
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i love that everything you write is refreshingly positive, its a nice change! (although haley was like 16 when modern family started, and its in its third year and haley is theoretically applying to colleges now, so yeah she;d be almost 18.

the middle was so cute, i love brick! "this shouldn't be called of mice and men, it should be called men killing other men!"
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I'd give the edge to Happy Endings simply for the fact that Alex FINALLY nailed a comeback: "Burn! Freezer burn! Yes! Suck it!" Its this type of continuity that turns the throwaway jokes into gold. And suburgatory was a little too predictable for me this week
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I personally gave Modern Family a 7.5 when I rated the episode last night! I didn't see the other ones so I'll trust your scores.
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The Middle: 6.2

Suburgatory: 7.4

Modern Family: 6.8

Happy Endings: 7.1
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The middle is so subtle! It really amazes me sometimes.

For that matter, just cant get into happy Endings

MF is always good, and Sub is very well done!!!
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Modern Family: 6.9 - Pretty great episode, but it wasn't all laugh-out-loud funny like the other two



Happy Endings: 7 - The fake fight was HI-larious. Max turning into a bear was a little too out there but made for some laughs.



Suburgatory: 8.5 - Favorite episode of the season. There was a lot of great stuff going on but this, by far, takes the cake:



"You know what's gonna be painful? When my mother remarries your father, and I'm your new sister, and dad likes me best, and then we send you away to an all girls boarding school where you find true love, and on visiting day, I come up and steal your new girlfriend. [SLUUURP] The following spring we marry in a civil ceremony which YOU are forced to cater, and everyone hates your catering, and you get a bad review on Yelp, which pretty much sinks your organic - lesbian - catering - venture."



I watched that part at 5 times so that I could get through the whole thing without missing something due to extreme laughter. Then 3 times more to realize that she was saying what I hope happens sometime down the line in this series.
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-Not even a little. I leave my coat way too many places (snow on the ground or not). But then I'm almost always warm and seldom wear it, thus I forget it when I do.

-I think it's the show saying "You don't even know what we're saying here we're that awesome".

-Yeah, see... I'm a traditional Catholic, so my opinion probably isn't going to be popular here.

-Negatory.



Pcsjunior's scores:

-The Middle: 8.0 - WAY underrated this time (sorry Lily, my opinion), this was gold for this show. Brick's Steinbeck reading was absolutely classic and the entire plot-line was a sit-com gem in my book.

-Suburgatory: 7.5 - A very good showing this week, props to the make-up department.

-Happy Ending: 7.0 - Tackled an awkward situation well, but the Claire/Gloria thing didn't hit well for me.

-Happy Endings: 6.0 - Something must be wrong with me because I am nowhere near as fascinated with this show as everyone else seems to be. I guess I don't feel the characters are as likable as they could be. With that said, I do usually like it better then I did with this episode.
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I agree with the person who wrote this article. Yes, Happy Ending is a great show, but last night it wasn't at it's best.

Suburgatory - 7.2

Modern Family - 7.0

Happy Ending - 6.4

The Middle - 5.9
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Suburgatory? Seriously? Send that girl back to Shameless and let's just move on.
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Nothing is close to Happy Endings
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As wonderful as Dahlia's deadpan looks and lines are, I think Lisa really shined in this particular episode. She's like the GOOD Dahlia - essentially (at least until THIS episode) harmless, a very loyal person despite what her family does to her on a minute-by-minute basis, and a very intelligent and cool chick on the whole. But HER deadpan is in the batter box's to Dahlia's ... the writers should schedule a school debate between the two just to let them riff off one another. Now THAT I would pay gold dubloons to see! As much as I continually rewind to enjoy the pleasure that is Dahlia (and, yeah, I KNOW how creepy that sounds - but you know what I mean, right?), I also look out for the gold nuggets in Suburgatory that is Lisa.



Re: Happy Endings (otherwise known as my favorite comedy when Community isn't available): I'm not sure I agree about Elisha Cuthbert. Granted, she is VERY funny, and handles herself with aplomb in the show (sorry; I needed to use the word "aplomb" to win a bet) ... but it seems to me that, of all of the cast, her timing is the most "off." It's amazing how well she does, though, considering I STILL think of her as Jack Bauer's daughter every time I see her onscreen. Along with the fact that she is a VERY attractive woman. But the creme of that show is Brad and Jane - without a DOUBT. Those two have IMPECCABLE timing, and it's SO easy to imagine them as a real couple, it's almost eerie. I also love the fact that the show hasn't called ANY attention to the fact that this is a black man and a white woman - to use Morgan Freeman's theory of race relations, they DON'T TALK ABOUT IT. Which is really great, and REFRESHING.



Case in point: at the very end of the show, Brad complains that he has to pay for EVERYONE'S dinner ... WHEN was the last time you saw a somewhat wealthy black man on primetime TV be the guy who buys for everyone, I ask ya?
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I think that the most hilarious moment of Modern Family was when when manny drove by all gangsta and then reversed a minute later. But Suburgatory is definitely stealing the show, it's just getting better and better. Dallas is great, I wouldn't be all that surprised if she and George ended up together, but maybe that's a little bit too obvious of a plot twist to happen.
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Great review Lily.



I think you're spot on on The Middle. I personally would like to see "a day in the life" for all 3 kids. Especially Brick. So many ways to up the ante with him in the classroom!!



" Isn't it kind of hard to lose a coat when it's cold outside?" This one took me back..WAY back. 1st date with a young lady, I pull up and she walks out to the car with her jeans on INSIDE OUT!! Needless to say, when she went back in to change I scooted!! Yes, there are people out there in the real world that need a guide!!



"to tell us it's not going to be that predictable" That's my vote!!



"What is the appropriate age to start having sex these days?" For my daughter?? 30 !! For my triplet grand daughters...1 day after my ashes fertilize my happy hunting grounds.

"Have you ever frozen a bra? " No, almost touched one though!! BRRRRRRRRRR

I'm not giving ratings cuz your "Blue Ribbon Winner" is my Freddy Kruger!!!..
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I always love this line up though was very mad we didn't get our drama fix of Revenge at the end. Great episdes, I love heartfelt with laughs.
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I feel like The Middle is so underrated by everyone.

Its a brilliant show especially compared to the monotony that creeps in Modern Family at times.

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I think "montony" could also be called "restraint" in this case. But I do like that the middle addresses poor people problems rather than Modern family's very rich people problems (country club hole in one legacy? not a major stressor in my experience) I definitely relate more to the middle's family....but they need to get rid of that wig and the "shave and a haircut, two bits" cadence on some of the dialogue.
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I have to agree with you Lily. For once for me Happy Endings didn't get my top spot. Not because it wasn't funny. Personally I thought Max as the bear was hilarious. And the jokes were great and I am impressed every week at Elisha Cuthbert. When the series first started I thought she was going to be the straight man, er person to everyone else's insanity. But she gets funnier with very episode. Jane and Brad fake fight was hilarious. Their real fight was even better. Who sits in a freezing cold room to prove a point. And Brad snapping his fingers and his pants falling off was great. I would give it 7.5. It hit every aspect that makes Happy Endings the way above average Comedy show.



But Suburgatory just hit the ball out of the park. The ancillary characters this episode really knocked it out of the park for me. THe actress that plays Lisa is amazing. I think I first saw her in Weeds. But she really owns the character. Her interactions with Dahlia were hilarious. Tessa's plot to get her back was so absurd that it was great. And Dahlia's prediction. It could really go either way. i don't see them as step sisters. But I do see them dealing with each other while George and Dallas are dating. I give it an 8



Modern Family was ok. i think it could have been better. Clair should have been a better shot I think that would have been more fun instead of Gloria being the better shot. I think they missed the mark with Phil learning of the deflowering of Hayley. The tupperware thing with Cam was kind of dumb to me and I guess I didn't get the doll thing. I give it a solid 6 though. However the roll by with Luke and Manny was really funny.
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The middle is obviously the weakess show in the block, but as far middle episodes go, it was a good one. I'd agree with the 5.2, but Modern Family wasn't 27% better. It should come in around 5.9 or 6. Hayley's looking at colleges, so probably not 16. Suburgatory and Happy Endings both made me laugh out loud several times. Dahlia's my hero, and Max on the ground with the garbage can on his head was the best visual of the night. I feel like they'd rank in the low 8's. I would love an example of an episode on any show that would be an 8, 8.5, 9 and 9.5. Just for something to compare against.
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