Back in the Game, Season 1, Episode 5, “She. Could. Go. All. The. Way!”
Directed by Joe Nussbaum
Written by Eric Goldberg & Peter Tibbals
Airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm EST on ABC
After last week’s mess of an episode, last night’s Back in the Game is quite an improvement. Although it doesn’t do everything right, “She. Could. Go. All. The. Way!” successfully sets the show back on track, utilising all of its characters. This week Terry gets the main storyline as we see her dive back into the dating world. At first it is a little odd to watch her struggle with asking Jack out because she is usually so confident, but Terry soon turns this around and then continues to remain strong throughout the episode. Once again, Back in the Game struggles with the message it sends this week. Last week we saw Danny fight through humiliation to get the object of his desire’s attention (who is nowhere to be seen this week) and last night we see the show send the wrong message again through Terry’s first date worries. At first the scene Lulu and Terry share seems to be on the right track, when Lulu tells her to be honest and not to feel bad about sleeping with him on the first date as long as this is what she wanted to do. This empowering message is soon dampened though when she tells Terry to lie about her age and the number of people she has slept with.
The Cannon continues to enforce his tough love rule and this week the audience can actually understand why. His bad traits make sense in this episode as he looks out for both members of his family. The lengths he takes just to teach Danny a lesson are not only hugely entertaining, it’s also really creative on the writers’ behalf. Cannon is a maniac but he means well, and that doesn’t always come across. He is extremely protective of Terry this week; it’s nice to see as he doesn’t usually bother this much. This is generally a much better episode but the writers still have a lot of work to do with the comedy. The potential is there but it’s not being executed as well as it could be.
Modern Family, Season 5, Episode 6, “The Help”
Written by Jim Hensz
Directed by Danny Zuker
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on ABC
Modern Family promises a change for the better in this week’s hilarious episode. The show has been stuck in a rut since the end of season 4 but “The Help” is reminiscent of the glorious past. Ripe with the comedy we first fell in love with, this week’s episode delivers throughout. Jam-packed with returning characters and great guest stars, “The Help” successfully returns to the narratives we’re all so eager to see develop.
Nathan Lane returns as the brilliant Pepper this week as he helps Mitch and Cam plan their wedding. Although again, the situation has an excellent and rewarding payoff, for once it isn’t the most entertaining story. For a long time now Cam and Mitch have been the stars of the show as their story arcs are usually the funniest. However this week, Phil and his father’s storyline is an excellent match. Both stories are ridiculous and work brilliantly. The two couplings lie about something and their lies become more elaborate throughout the episode. It’s all quite silly but it works because it returns to the show’s beloved format, playing with predictable situations and delivering a rewarding payoff at the end. The show sees another Workaholics star guest this week as Adam Demamp joins the cast as a new ‘manny’. Unlike his friend Anders Holm, Demamp does a great job slipping into a completely different role. The guest stars this week are all excellent, particularly Peri Gilpin, and work well in bringing the show back to its usual flare.
Super Fun Night, Season 1, Episode 4, “Engagement Party”
Directed by John Riggi
Written by Robin Schiff
Airs Wednesdays at 9:30pm EST on ABC
Super Fun Night does a great job moving on from last week’s awkward Halloween episode by introducing new characters and moving the story forward. Jacki Weaver and Ashley Tisdale guest star this week and help Kimmie overcome her insecurities about her love life and her body. Similarly to Modern Family, the guest stars propel the characters forward; whilst Tisdale does not add much to the show, Weaver does. Playing the overbearing and interfering mother (which seems to be a common theme on sitcoms right now), Pamela Boubier arrives with a storm. She’s a strong role model and even though she shouldn’t be getting involved with Richard, she raises a fair point. She’s hilariously self-adsorbed but at the end of the episode she does her job as a mother, assuring Kimmie, as well as the audience, that Richard’s relationship with Kendall will not last long. Her predictions will probably become true by the end of the season.
The show explores Richard and Kendall’s relationship this week as it moves at a frighteningly quick pace. The scenes they share together feel awkward throughout. Not many of the viewers care for Kendall and watching her come on too strong is somewhat nauseating. However, we do get a glimpse into Richard’s psyche a little more as he opens up to her. The show will become more entertaining when we see how Kendall will deal with Kimmie and how the work place dynamic will change. One thing that really makes the show work this week is that the writers are continuing to explore Helena Alice and Marika away from Kimmie. In the first couple of episodes they never seemed to leave her side and while it’s great to see even more girl-power fueled friendships on television, it’s not their only purpose. The pair are both strong characters and hopefully as the season continues we will see them blossom. The more time they spend away from Kimmie, the more they come out of their shell. It would be very interesting to see how either one of them deal with a situation completely alone.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 9, Episode 8, “Flowers for Charlie”
Directed by Dan Attias
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FXX
The famous 1959 sci-fi short “Flowers for Algernon” is referenced in this week’s episode of It’s Always Sunny as Game of Thrones show runners David Benioff & D. B. Weiss take over writing duties. For those who are not familiar with the story, it is about a janitor named Charlie who undergoes intelligence-boosting experiments. Benioff and Weiss’ interpretation of this delivers throughout as they cater to the characters perfectly. Any Charlie-focused episode is an excellent one in my book but this week’s installment really knocks it out of the park. Charlie Day always delivers, here going completely against his Sunny character to extremely entertaining effect. It’s a particularly rewarding homage to people who know the story as later on in the episode Charlie’s intelligence grows to such an extent that he’s no longer able to relate to his friends or the woman he loves. There’s a particularly great scene with The Waitress (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) this week as she bores Charlie with the minutiae of her day.
The real comedy comes from the rest of The Gang though; watching them fall to pieces without Charlie is hilarious and strangely sweet. Whenever one of them tries to ditch The Gang they essentially crumble and watching them all catastrophically fall apart is one of the best moments of this entire season. The Gang are creatures of habit and Charlie is their foundation; it’s great watching the chaos that ensues when he departs, but it’s even funnier watching them reunite without any disregard for what they just went through. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the quality of this current season and whether it’s better or worse than previous seasons. While the general consensus appears there has been a notable decline since season 7, this current season is shaping up to be its strongest yet. Each week the show opens with a ridiculous scheme and sets up the rest of episode perfectly. One of the best parts about It’s Always Sunny is that normality is restored so effortlessly by the end. This week’s episode is fantastic in many ways and arguably one of the strongest ever. Hopefully David Benioff & D. B. Weiss will be brought back- they should contribute more.