Ranking ABC's Wednesday Comedies: Suburgatory Returns Strong

It was such a relief to enjoy half-hour after half-hour of fresh, new comedy during ABC's Wednesday comedy block last night. But while I may have sat gazing on the beloved faces of Patricia Heaton, Alan Tudyk, and Sofia Vergara as if they were beloved, long-lost puppies who'd just tumbled back in through my door, it is now our responsibility to comb out the ratty knots in their fur, check their teeth, carefully style their tails, and crown the best show dog of the bunch because today marks the the return of...

For the Winsday!!!

The Middle S03E20: "Get Your Business Done"

You know, I had almost forgotten about the pink raver wig P-Heats had dyed brown and wears in every scene. It almost warmed my heart to see it, perched atop her face, barely moving even as she struggled to pull her arm out of a Rite Aid blood pressure machine. This episode was actually pretty edgy, with the Hecks forsaking their boring old white-people church for a place of worship that caters to African Americans, with a rousing gospel choir and an inspiring preacher. In fact, the pastor was so inspiring that Frankie spent the rest of the week suffering a full-scale panic attack about not doing enough with her life. Sue actually started a business baby-sitting a kid who's practically her age, and had to call in her dad to rescue her when the kid started putting the moves on her. It was another edgy conceit, but it completely worked. And I think Axl is dying his hair black? He was shirtless for an uncomfortable amount of time last night on a very thin premise. Let that kid put a top on once in a while, ABC.

Score: 5.3

Suburgatory S01E18: "Down Time"

The eerie parallels between Dallas and Tessa's problems continued as Dallas's divorce was finalized, sending her into a depressed crying jag in a mattress store, and Tessa's BFFs Lisa and Malik started dating, driving her to almost eat a stick of butter as a midnight snack. The snappy opening scene reaffirmed my talent-crush on Alan Tudyk, who took what was probably an inch of monologue and turned it into a snappy mile of laughs, talking about getting his sex on. As for my actual crush on Ryan Shay...sigh. He appeared at Tessa's back door, got her to not eat a creamy stick of butter, and they enjoyed a little pseudo date. I know Tessa already broke up with Ryan because the character is supposed to be dumb, but the actor, Parker Young, is so charming and so obviously smart, I kind of wonder if Jane Levy popped in on a writer's meeting and requested the relationship be revisited. Also James Lipton as Dahlia's psychiatrist? "I feel angerment" made me laugh out loud. And kangaroo Jack as Dahlia's pet? This show keeps its animal handler on point.

Score: 6.3

Modern Family S03E19: "Election Day"

The Dunphys rallied behind Claire to make the day she officially ran for town councilwoman a real comedy of errors. Phil's (Ty Burrell) interactions with his cranky senior neighbor were kind of slow-moving (they could have used a snappier elderly dude; should have called Betty White for a recommendation), and Cam and Mitch almost broke up an engagement while gossiping in a car with their public address system still on. Claire had an old false front tooth knocked out while trying to bite off her new suit's price tag (wouldn't Claire immediately remove a tag? Also how annoying is it when a character immediately explains something as "an old blah blah injury"?). Annnd the family's Mila Kunis lookalike, Haley, did not get into any of her colleges. Downers upon downers.

Score: 5

Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 S01E01: "Pilot"

While this new show's awkward title may coyly sidestep dropping the "b-word," the first episode was bitch happy. "Bitch bitch bitch bitch!" —All of the characters. It's actually a very snappy and often hilarious series. Krysten Ritter is just as talented at comedy as she was at drama on Breaking Bad, and her blonde analog, June, tries to match her sociopathic mind games, providing an effective and complementary foil that will explain their opposites-attract friendship romance for the entire series. Also high marks for James Van Der Beek playing "himself" and spending the entire pilot winking at his former status as a teen idol and his current status as silly '90s reference, which is arguably the smartest way to approach a front-loaded acting career as a thirty-something young man. I wonder if he'll be able to pull in Mrs. Cruise or Michelle Williams for a cameo at some point in the series? Altogether Don't Trust the B----'s set-up had all the exposition of a pilot wrapped up in razor-sharp jokes and great visual moments (poor blondie walked into her first day of work to find the police are arresting the boss and the employees looting the office; the B---- got champagne sprayed on her during a rap video back story). All in all, a promising pilot for a brand-new addition to our block. (Psst! You should also check out Tim's full review!)

Score: 6

This Week's Rankings:
1. Suburgatory with 6.3 FOR THE WIN!!!
2. Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 with 6
3. The Middle with 5.3
4. Modern Family with 5

This Week's Block Average: 5.6

While its hard not to miss Happy Endings, Don't Trust the B---- seems like a worthy new addition to our block, but of course the established connection to Suburgatory and last night's diamond-sharp dialogue won the show this week's highest score. Modern Family's toothless episode left me cold, but The Middle surprised me with its unexpected chops.


– What did you think of Don't Trust the B----?

Modern Family: Did I under rate it or did it also leave you cold?

– Tessa and Ryan: Should Suburgatory give them another chance?

– What did you think of The Middle's comparison of pastors?

As always, if you leave your own scores for two or more shows in the comments, I will average them together for next week's Viewer Choice Blue Ribbon Win.

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