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 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
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
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
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
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:
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!
– 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?