Ranking ABC's Wednesday Comedies: We See Suburgatory In Our Crystal Ball

ABC's comedy block is kind of like a beauty pageant, with dazzling contenders in their prime following each other in such succession you can hardly absorb the beauties of one before you're stunned by the loveliness of the next. Except some of these beauty queens are playing Tchaikovsky solos for their talent, and others are painting themselves up like a penguin, strapping a foam beak to their face, and doing a tap dance to the theme song from Happy Feet. What I'm trying to say is some of these shows are a lot better than others, and it's our job as expert viewers to get out our clipboards, mark those deductions, and crown a chamption FOR THE WINSDAY!


The Middle S03E19: "The Paper Route"

The ashes of Frankie and Mike's marriage continue to rise up from the last dying flames of their acrimony and float to the sky like so many departing crows when Frankie finds out that Mike is hiding extra batteries in his sock drawer. Eden Sher, my favorite Heck, got headgear and lost a boyfriend. (Hopefully the headgear will disappear next week?) Axl and Sue actually had an adorable moment when he hit her in the head with his perfect baseball pitch and then leapt over the fence to make sure she was okay. While the show sometimes becomes just an endless set up of Frankie rolling her eyes at her children, it’s a moment like this that makes me like this show–a subtle moment of deep love exists between laughs like a bridge of sunshine. Well done again, Heck kids.

Final Score: 5.1


Suburgatory S01E17: "Independence Day"

Okay, the giant crystal bust of Joy Behar, will I ever stop smiling about the giant Crystal bust of Joy Behar? I mean not to ignore the Billy Crystal and Dallas inviting over her beautiful/melodramatic sorority sisters for a slumber party and getting kind of loopy polishing her crystals at her boutique "A Crystal Cup of Crystals," but this episode was just jam packed with really good stuff. Like Noah (Alan Tudyk) getting a loving call from his daughter and telling George he thinks she's drunk. In addition to getting Tessa a pair of wheels and continuing the poetry thread when George saw Tessa's poem about her mom in school, this episode also brought George head to head with Tessa's maternal grandmother–and gave us a peek at just how abandoning Tessa’s mom really is. So: a huge character development via a deep and kind of chilling moment in the middle of one of the funniest episodes of the season. And then, on top of a treasure trove of amazing Dallas moments, Dahlia's request for hangover monkies?! And her follow up text to her dad over Dallas' shoulder during a hug? Suburgatory, I love you.

Final Score: 7.0


Modern Family S03E18: "Send Out the Clowns"

A clown funeral? That probably sounded really good on paper, but the clown gags and clown jokes and clown puns... it was all a bit much. The attempted clown-on-clown murder at the end was actually great, and if it had stood alone would have been extremely awesome. But after about 20 seconds clowns are unbearable, and I don't care what the context is. In other news, Manny opening the door in different and horrifyingly dorky ways was one of the better conceits of the season, and Claire trying to Facebook her daughters was pitch perfect. Too bad the evil realtor plot line made absolutely no sense, and too many clowns! Can't say it enough. Too many clowns.

Final Score: 5.2


Happy Endings S02E18: "Party of Six"

Penny tried to have a very happy 20th (31st) birthday despite a birthday curse that prevented the team from finding a great restaurant to spend it in. Oh, rich people problems. There were some very hard laughs this episode and the whole gang stayed together the entire episode, which sounds fun in theory, but I don't know, there was kind of a manic tone to the episode. Maybe it was the fishing pole made of coffee stirrers, but the vibe was a little cartoony. This is what we call Jurassic Park Writing Room Syndrome: the writers got so carried away seeing if they COULD fit at joke in every line, they never stopped to think if they SHOULD. Even bad Happy Endings is a guaranteed good time, but I don't know, Penny deserves better: like more lines and not having to lose her shirt in the middle of a restaurant (although girl looked good and her follow up to the manager telling her to leave with "That's a solid policy!" was hilarious. Penny is the greatest.)

Final Score: 5.9

Rankings:

Suburgatory: 7.0

Happy Endings: 5.9

The Middle: 5.2

Modern Family: 5.1


Overall Score: 5.8

Happy Endings has again lost its crown to Suburgatory. Watch out, Modern Family, The Middle might just overtake you again! In one night we have one of our highest scores ever, and yet a tremendous backslide in the overall score. This could be the effect of one show being absolutely superlative–it throws off the grading curve and makes the other shows look bad in comparison. And “Independence Day” was just that good. Thoughts?

Blue Ribbon Win from last week: We took a brief hiatus from rating last week, since we had mostly re-runs, but I tallied up the scores left in the comments from our 3/01 FTW article and your Blue Ribbon Viewer's Choice win, and you awarded Happy Endings with the Blue Ribbon!

Happy Endings was tops with a score of 8.37!!

Suburgatory finished second with a 7.44!

The Middle was in the middle with a 7.25.

It wasn't Modern Family's best day, with a 6.65.

Well scored! Remember, if you score 2 or more shows in the comments, I'll factor in your votes for next week's Blue Ribbon.

QUESTIONS…

…Was Happy Endings a little emotionless this week or was that just me?

…Will Sue have to keep that headgear on next week?

…Could you ever be attracted to a clown?

…What did you think of Tessa's grandma?

Comments (25)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
The Middle - 8.0

HE - 7.5
Reply
Flag
The Middle was the best for me, and Happy Endings had a great story line. They could have ran it better.
Reply
Flag
my best friend's ex-wife earned $12164 the previous month. she works on the internet and moved in a $437900 condo. All she did was get fortunate and put to work the tips revealed on this site NuttyRich . c0m
Reply
Flag
I loved the way they snuck in that character development while delivering a really really funny episode. Dallas was a constant laugh even though I didn't enjoy her sorority girls that much. And Dahlia wanting a hangover monkey, pretty brilliant. 7 for Suburgatory.



Modern Family continued it's disappointing run of obvious and unfunny humor, I did however enjoy the Facebook plot. 5.5



I see that everyone thinks Happy Endings wasn't as funny but maybe sometimes I don't mind a chaotic episode riding solely on joke because I was laughing, A lot. 7.5
Reply
Flag
"This could be the effect of one show being absolutely superlative"



Absolutely superlative equals a 7/10? Okay.



And yeah, HE wasn't that great this week, but not as bad as MF.

Reply
Flag
Happy Endings 7/10. Not the strongest episode of the series and it probably would have helped if Penny featured a little more, but as always Elisha Cuthbert was brilliant. More laugh out load moments than the others this week, but it did feel just a little bit too chaotic, as if the writers weren't fully in control of what was happening.



Suburgatory 7/10. I nearly gave this a 6 but the contributions from Lisa, Dhalia and Noah just gave the episode a little boost, as did the realistic good parenting (at last) from George when he sought out his ex-mother-in-law. Once again though I find it's the support cast that really provided the laughs and not the main two characters. Dallas also had a good episode even though some of the material was a little bit too obvious and maybe a tad lazy.



The Middle 6/10. Biggest laugh of the night was provided by Sue Heck, probably not for the first time this season, when she went face first on to the couch with her head brace on. Sue and Axl once again provided the best material while the overly familiar 'Brick starts something that his parents finish for him' premise provided filler for the rest of the family. The episode wasn't helped by the scene where the parents were being repremanded by the newspaper editor, which sucked all the life out of the show about three quaters of the way through (very tired, cliche ridden scene). If it hadn't been for Sue and Axl this episode would have been lucky to get a 4.
More+
Reply
Flag
I find it hard to understand how anyone can find laughs on this show, and I mean real laughs like we all did when we watched Seinfeld or Frasier. Where are the snappy one liners and the hilarious situations on these so called modern comedies that are not filmed in front of a studio audience? These shows are cute sometimes, but I really want to laugh, like I do watching Are You There Chelsea or The Exes or Whitney. I can't find any laughs on shows like Suburgatory. None at all.
Reply
Flag
Did you just compare Are you There Chelsea and Whitney to FRASIER AND SEINFELD!?!?



Whitney and Chelsea just go for low hanging fruit of sexist or racist jokes. Frasier was leagues ahead of those two. There would be about a 50 point spread in the IQ of a Frasier watcher and a Whitney watcher.



C'mon! meee223, smarten up, you used to watch Frasier.
Reply
Flag
-"Happy Endings" was a little flat this week.

-I think they can get some good stuff out of the headgear for at least another week, so I'll be okay seeing it for another episode or two.

-No. Not even a little. Clowns are not my thing. At all.

-She's a little too serious for this comedy, but I suppose I can see it.



Pcsjunior002's scores:

The Middle: 6.5, wasn't quite as good this week on the whole

Suburgatory: 7.0, this show is making its case. Loved George's sit down with the guidance counselor

Modern Family: 6.0, the clown thing threw me, too. Even the Dunphy line was pretty bland.

Happy Endings: 5.5, people complaining about idiotic problems, didn't like this one.
Reply
Flag
Penny was trying to have her second 29th birthday!
Reply
Flag
Suburgatory was spectacular this week, you made the right choice Lily.
Reply
Flag
Oooo, this week was very close for Happy Endings and Suburgatory. I really liked the continuity in both with the poem in Suburgatory, and the old girlfriend, haircuts in flashbacks, and old-job mentions in Happy Endings. And the jokes kept coming for both!



Happy Endings - 8.1 (I just love these characters too much)

Suburgatory - 8

Modern Family - 5 (ugh, that was such a predictable episode)
Reply
Flag
I hope Sue doesnt have to keep the headgear. I got really excited at the prospect of her finally taking her braces off. Add the heartbreak from being dumbed "completely out of the blue" (loved the innocence of the story line) and the getting hit on the face, Sue had it pretty bad this episode. I hope that she'll get compensated in the next episode by something awesome happening to her. -- 6.7

I loved this weeks Happy Endings, especially the ending!!! Body switching after being showered with salt and shouted by an old woman (who btw was speaking Greek and basically just said "go to hell"). Genius!! -- 7.2

Suburgatory was good but I m starting to really dislike Tessa. She can be quite hypocritical although I shouldnt be too hard on her, she is after all a teenager!! This week definitely introduced some new possibilities for the plot which is good as it was really going nowhere

Dalia was once again perfection, clearly establishing she's the star of the show -- 6.6

As for Modern Family... i m scared of clowns so the idea of a clown funeral both excites and terrifies me (glad to have one less clown, yet do not want to be anywhere near the alive ones!!) -- 5.1
More+
Reply
Flag
Suburgatory was good last night, but then again I think that every time. Happy Engings was perhaps not as good as normal but still made me laugh several times.

Suburgatory - 6.9

Happy Endings - 6.5
Reply
Flag
EDITOR: Quick note, Penny was trying to have a 29th birthday, not a 20th birthday - easy typo, I know.



I really cannot stand Suburgatory anymore, there's something so grating about it. In general, Dalia really brings me down as so grotesque, Dallas is overly sincere, and Tessa's such a phony character. I think this and The Middle have permanently lost me.



That clown funeral made me chuckle, but it felt like it needed tighter directing: that pie gag really should have made sure to have it fall face-down over the head of the deceased. And then the way the plotline filled out, that was just sitcom junk. Manny's storyline, also sitcom junk although at least the characters were aware of the sitcomminess. And Phil's... you know what, yeah, that was a bad episode, I'll agree with your 5.



Loved Happy Endings, that was an 8 for me. I've had plenty of times where a group couldn't find a restaurant, and this was funnier than those. And the post-credits scene where the characters were cursed to switch bodies and Alex says "I'm Dave!" was priceless. As for your question of whether it was emotionless, yeah, not every episode has to have meaning, they're just trying to go to a restaurant -- then again, Brad & Jane's story had a little pathos to it without feeling over the top.



I doubt I could be attracted to a clown, I could be attracted to somebody who made clowning her hobby or passion, but honestly it'd be really difficult to date a girl who lived a "clown lifestyle", there ARE limits to the male libido.
More+
Reply
Flag
Well, I started off with Suburgatory and my biggest WTF moment of watching TV!! After watching up until George's scene at the restaurant with the Monster-in-Law I had to hit stop and check the whole house for hidden cameras!! I sat in that seat facing my own Monster-in-Law having that very conversation. The only thing missing was the question how her rehab was going. Then it hit me, I'm just 1 OF a million, NOT 1 IN a million single dads.



Have to agree that H.E. was WAY off the mark all the way through. Some decent jokes buried amongst TOO many tries. It just reminded me that I was watching a scripted show and left me in that reality all the way through.

WAY TOO many clowns!!!

Seen the headgear too often to think fresh.

Sub 9.9 (WTF & FTW)

H.E. 6.0

M.F. 6.5

Middle 7.0



SCARY MARY.....-2.5 !!!! How about trading up and using a REAL athlete like say Natalie Coughlin ??? Then you can trade in the blue ribbon for olympic gold!
Reply
Flag
Agree that Suburgatory took the night. Noah seeming so into George's problem but only talking about thai food was great and "...you can't just throw hangover monkey's at your problems" - Dallas was pure geniuos.



Happy Endings - Is so good that it raises our expectations so high that it can't always live up to it. I laugh more in a "lesser" episode of Happy Endings than in the best episode of Modern Family.



Subergatory 8

Happy Endings 7.8

Modern Family 6
Reply
Flag
Happy Endings = Hilarious, Max's curse voice (hannibal?) was funny every time. And Alex "you can't daylight savings people like that". 8.

Modern Family = Luke's my hero. Clown storyline ended kind of abruptly. 6.

Suburgatory = Dahlia steals the show again. She's comedy gold. 7.

The Middle = meh. I honestly think the funniest this show could possibly be is a six. 5.5
Reply
Flag
I just remember the "Fonzi scheme" joke. Modern family, 6.5.
Reply
Flag
No No No happy endings was AWESOME last night.
Reply
Flag
I agree that Happy Endings had a weak episode after a string of amazing ones, but the end tag that appeared as the credits rolled almost made up for it. The whole birthday curse motif culminating in a Drag Me to Hell-esque old lady cursing Penny was the kind of surreal, hilarious stuff Happy Endings does best.
Reply
Flag
I am not sure. Suburgatory was great this week. The traveling to the wrong side of the tracks aka east Chatswain, Lisa pulling out a pack of cigarettes and saying when it Rome. That was pretty good. Her pushing Tessa at the creepy guy and taking the side walk instead of running across the grass? Little things like that just get me. Dallas, trying to figure out if she was just friends with all of the black girls in her Sorority or Dallas being the only white girl in a black sorority. Too funny. Could have done without Mike Tyson's ex. The grandmother, that was just kind of odd. I am not sure what to think about it. I think the winner was when George was talking to tessa about a new license for the scooter and Dahlia pulling up on her Motorcycle. That was just funny. Oh and hangover monkey. nice.



But again Happy Endings. As david points out with the Max explains the potential marrying situations of mary Tyler Moore. But more than that Alex clutching her head in confusion. Dave's horrible super power. Brad and Jane's predilection of exhibitionism. The Mexican restaurant with all of the things breakable and the table broken down so Brad can could break up with girls without getting food dumped on him and stabbed. Dave having taken the girl to prom, her saving up for stripping lessons to save up for community college. But out of all of that I think the best visual of the whole night was all of them as 7 year olds watching the clown die. (that is how to make a clown funny)



As for Modern Family. Way, way way too many clowns. Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) isn't something that I have. But clowns just aren't funny. At all. Ever. That was nearly as bad as the sketch on SNL where Jonah Hill kept getting hit in the nuts with tennis balls. It is cheap and well stupid. I liked Luke's part in the whole deceiving the realty lady. But like the funny aspects of The kid being attracted to Gloria. Neither of this good stuff was extended enough to make up for the lack luster clown aspect. It seems to me that at this point in their eagerness to include the whole family in the episode they are stretching the plots out too thin and they end up failing.



For me I would say it is a tie between Suburgatory and Happy Endings both at 7.5 and Modern Family at a 4.
More+
Reply
Flag
I disagree with you on Happy Endings, I thought it was another great episode, Jane and Brad fighting was having sex in the bathroom was hilarious. I also disagree to some degree on Modern Family, the clown thing was a bit too much but the rest was good, especially Manny and Glorias part

Suburgatory-8

Modern Family-6.5

Happy Endings-8.2
Reply
Flag
Once again, Modern Family FTW with that clown beatdown at the end, plus Claire trying to "tear down the wall" due to a racy photo! LOL!! Also, Manny's greetings at the door to his "friends", especially Griffin! ROTFL!!!



Happy Endings was freaking hilarious, especially Brad and Jane with their constant hookups in the bathrooms! Also, Penny had me rolling the whole episode! She's 29, not 31! Come on?! That's funny!
Reply
Flag
Happy Endings, again, wins for me.

Suburgatory: 7.0... Modern Family: 6.0... Happy Endings: 7.5



Suburgatory - Good episode overall. Favorite part: the recurring mention of Malik as a snitch. As a big fan of The Wire, that recurring reference-joke really tickled my funny bone.



Modern Family - Basically the same as usual. Luke, again, was the best character, with Manny right behind. It sucks, but Cam is really starting to be my least favorite character. And I basically agree with Lily about both the realtor and clown storylines.



Happy Endings - I can understand why you may not have liked it much this week, but more than anything else, I judge a sitcom mostly on it's ability to make me laugh and I laughed a ton this week.



Whole group: Uhhhhh...

Brad: Did everybody else's mind just go completely blank?

- Penny, Dave, Alex, and Jane agree --

Max: You know what I was thinking about: if Mary Tyler Moore married and then divorced Steven Tyler then married and divorced Michael Moore, then got into a three-way lesbian marriage with Demi Moore and Mandy Moore, would she go by the name Mary Tyler Moore Tyler Moore Moore Moore? Hmmm...
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook