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Laugh Tracks: 100th 30 Rock, pt. 2



Date Posted: April 25, 2011

By Amy Van Veen (Staff Writer) – Email

It’s Royal Wedding time in the Heck household on The Middle. Frankie knows something’s up when Brick’s quirks mellow out and his fever starts the Heck Plague of 2011. This plague is a little different, though, because Frankie’s light at the end of the tunnel is that glorious day when a girl arrives as a commoner and leaves as a princess. Since Sue’s friend is out sick, she had to find a new lunchroom companion: the Schucker News broadcast, and she’s quick to audition when they have an open spot, enlisting Brick to help her out. He creates a mnemonic device for her, NEWS, standing for be natural, enunciate, and winning smile. Even that can’t save her, so she has to add some of her own to create NEWSBENJIVERTS, which results in her looking like a psycho on the TV, but she does get to become the new cue card girl. Mike, meanwhile, has to make cuts at the quarry so he takes away the pretzel barrel, much to the opposition of his staff. It gets so bad they call in the union rep to fight for their right to pretzel. Frankie, however, makes him a bit of a hypocrite at work with her desperate need to watch the Royal Wedding in a royal setting. When she goes to the store to find a screen cleaner to get the gunk off of their sad little TV, she hears about the store’s return policy, “if you’re not happy, we’re not happy”: returns for any reason are accepted for 14 days after purchase. Her solution to her desperation? Buy a $3000 television and return it later. When she wakes up to watch the proceedings at 3 am, though, it doesn’t turn on, and then it doesn’t turn channels, and then she has a meltdown, goes to bed and wakes up with pink-eye. Thankfully, she has her own prince who commentates on the entire wedding the best way he knows how.

Modern Family follows the main story of Cam and Mitchell as they try to decide who will be the guardians of Lily should anything happen to them. At first they think about Claire and Phil, but with one obstinate teenager, one young woman on the verge of the rebellious teenage years and one son who has so short an attention span they have to get him checked out, they quickly pass. The only other ones in Mitchell’s family would be Jay and Gloria, but Jay’s fear-inducing parenting with Manny and Gloria’s over-enthusiasm for the day the two of them die so she can have Lily make them both wary. Alex skips he cello lesson and instead joins Haley and her friend as they vandalize another girl’s locker for kissing Dylan. It makes Alex live on the edge and gives the two rival sisters a chance to see eye to eye. Alex hates playing the cello, but she’s never quit anything in her life. Meanwhile, Claire is so worried about Luke that she goes to see a child psychologist without telling Phil, until he finds out and meets her there. Her biggest fear? That Luke turns into Phil, which leads the two to fight and then leave in their separate cars, forgetting Luke in a parkade. In the end, Luke finds his way home in a limousine and Mitchell and Cam decide on Jay and Gloria after Manny shares his gratitude for Jay with Cam. The only thing that still takes away from this show is Lily. What is wrong with her facial expression? Or lack thereof.

Two episodes of Happy Endings again on Wednesday night and what seemed to start out with so much promise has made me question the motives of ABC. Television sweeps begin the end of April, so is ABC trying to get rid of as many episodes of this new show as possible? Or are they trying to create a huge fanbase? Either way, this last week made me question the longevity of the ensemble show. In the first episode of Wednesday night, Max’s food is vanishing from the refridgerator and Alex suspects her sleepwalking ex-fiancé Dave. Max needs to know, so he borrows Jane’s nanny cam that she originally bought to spy on some workers they had hired for a reno, and then kept to spy on her husband, but Brad knows and often uses her espionage to his advantage. Meanwhile, Jane and Brad go on a couple date with promise for Jane and little else for Brad. She wants him to open up more with the guy he works with, and then the other guy opens up a bit too much, with an invitation into their marital bed. The gang (minus Dave) give the harsh truth to Alex that she’s got to pick up her game in order to compete with Dave’s dating streak. When Penny and Alex happen upon a handsome stranger in Max and Dave’s apartment, she jumps at the chance to move on. Turns out, though, that this handsome stranger is the food thief who lives in the crawl space above their apartment, which Penny, Max and Dave investigate until Dave falls out. (That was pretty funny.) When they all try to save Alex from her date with a creeper, Max and Malcolm (the artist with nice clothes) work out a fashion for food situation, and the nannycam catches some sleepwalking magic.

The second episode begins with a brunch made by Jane after she got a little epicurious and leads to a conversation about who will be Max’s beard for when his liberal Jewish parents come to town. They still don’t know he’s gay, because according to him, “coming out is so gay!” Normally Penny is his fake girlfriend, but he then asks Jane, not Alex who is begging for the opportunity to act out her alter ego, Larissa. In the end, after first Jane, whose use of Yiddish borders on the anti-Sematic, and then Alex as Larissa, Max finds out his parents don’t care if he’s gay, they just want him to be happy, but his Jewish matchmaker stereotype of a mother also wants to find him a partner. Since Max convinced his parents that Dave was the owner of some questionable reading materials he had in college, Dave volunteers to be his fake boyfriend to get them off Max’s back. In Penny’s world, things are a little more awkwardly funny. She bails on a bad blind date to go out with a handsome and charming stranger. Everything seems to be going great until she sees his credit card, ‘Douglas Hitler’. (By the by, Douglas Hitler is played by the doctor, and Jeff’s nemesis, from Community.) Alex wiki’d World War 2 in order to make fun of Penny’s second date: “What are your plans tonight? Movie? Dinner? Invade Poland?” After Doug sees Penny’s notebook, though, that has his name doodled all over it to see if she could get used to it, he first jumps to maybe she’s obsessed with him and then after an awkward note of “no Jewish” that Alex wrote as a reminder not to speak Yiddish at dinner, Doug assumes she’s one of those Nazi-freaks. It gets awkward. But also heartfelt. And curiously ambiguous about its future.

Community is continuing their great streak with another memorable episode. Annie’s Boobs is back – Troy’s pet monkey for those of you who missed the mafia themed episode – and returns with a memory-filled treasure trove of stolen goods. The greatest part about dipping into the past is that not all of the memories were even seen by the audience. “It’s like a sentimental treasure pile!” There’s that deputy’s badge from the day they spent in the ghost town that turned out not to be a ghost town because an old racist prospector in red long underwear shot at Troy. He was “hard core racist, like 1800 Disney style.” Then there was the trophy from that great time they had “sing-sing-singing” when they filled in for the glee club. It was amazing. Except for the fact that they had to fill in for the glee club because they all died in a bus crash. There was also that time Abed had a Christmas mental breakdown, and we get to see what it was like on the other side of the hallucination. Turns out Jeff and Britta have been having secret sex ever since “Modern Warfare”. There was that time at Halloween. That time at Christmas. And the curious circumstances following the exciting St. Patrick’s Day adventure (which I’m really sorry the audience missed). There was also that time when Abed and Troy got into The Cape and hoped it would last but turned out to be another Firefly situation. When Jitta’s secret relationship comes to light, though, Annie is upset because she thought she had something with Jeff – cue sow motion musical montage. Jeff, then, makes the argument that any two people’s relationship could be seen in the same light – cue Pierce and Abed’s slo-mo montage. When the argument reaches new levels of volume, and the Dean comes in conveniently on his way to judge the beloved Carnivale, Jeff breaks him. “Can we please stop fighting? We’re starting to hurt innocent perverts!” They then question whether or not it’s good to fight through their problems or if they should bury them. Cue flashbacks to a horrible camping trip with the Dean, painting Shirley’s nursery and Caesar salad day, where every time Jeff makes a speech. Cue Jeff’s speeches. In the end, Jeff and Britta needed the sneaking, the group finishes their study hall diorama, and the Dean has an animated series where he violently kills everyone in the study group. Great, epic, wonderful episode that reveals even more of their random classes. (Where is Greendale? I want to go to there.)

Next: The Office, 30 Rock & more!

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