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This last week saw a huge influx of high quality television, with a few struggling to keep up. Will Ferrell has finally graced us with his presence as The Office fully accepts the awkwardness of managerial transitions. ABC was kind enough to offer the first two shows of their new comedy Happy Endings in lieu of the Cougar Town comeback which will be both Monday April 18th and Wednesday April 20th, while FOX kept their new hit Traffic Light going through a fake bachelor party. So much to watch, so little time.

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Date Posted: April 18, 2011

By Amy Van Veen (Staff Writer) – Email

This last week saw a huge influx of high quality television, with a few struggling to keep up. Will Ferrell has finally graced us with his presence as The Office fully accepts the awkwardness of managerial transitions. ABC was kind enough to offer the first two shows of their new comedy Happy Endings in lieu of the Cougar Town comeback which will be both Monday April 18th and Wednesday April 20th,  while FOX kept their new hit Traffic Light going through a fake bachelor party. So much to watch, so little time.

HIMYM had a few great lessons for viewers this past week. First of all we got to see the difference between couples who “challenge each other” like Ted and Zooey and couples who constantly agree with each other like one big marital blob, case in point: Milly or Larshall and what inevitably causes a hitch in each one. Ted’s girlfriend Zooey, who he met while she was protesting his new building project, is still protesting his new building. Marshall, on the other side of things, hates his job with a passion and takes a non-paying job at the NRDC, but Lily’s fine with it. Just fine. Except that his new zero dollar salary means no trip to Spain. And Ted’s relationship means he has to choose between the girl and the Arcadia. The two of them end up having a stand-off, but in true HIMYM style, we learn about much more than just relationship problems. Robin, for instance, points out the “graduation goggles” effect, including a flashback to her ex-dog-boyfriend’s bad kissing, then cut to Marshall’s “graduation goggles” on his last day at GNB, which, of course, includes a Sarah McLachlan slow motion montage. Oh and Barney offers a hobo stew recipe: chicken bones and an old boot; he also has a mean recipe of exploding meatball sub that hopes to use to enact his revenge on Marshall. Cut to a Dr. Horrible-esque invention sequence. In the end, Ted will eventually break up with Zooey. Eventually. After the graduation goggles wear off.

Mad Love doesn’t really seem to be trying anymore. They are burning through plot points in a seeming state of desperation and Dr. Spaceman, I mean Police Officer Dennis Barrett, is already done with Connie. Connie now already knows about her feelings for Larry and Kate is bad with dogs. The only good part of this episode are the scenes that include Dr. Spaceman, I mean Police Officer Dennis Barrett, because he makes a hilarious and sensitive officer. Kate dog sits her boss’s dog Pasta and loses him, Ben thinks “nurturing a pet” means “wanting to be a mom”, which isn’t the case. And this show bores me to tears.

Traffic Light held Tuesday night up all on its own with another clever episode. Adam’s boss has no plans for the weekend so he assigns him an article on how to throw the best bachelor party and since Adam failed at delivering something even close to that for Mike, he’s ready to prove everyone wrong when they say he’s a buzzkill. Flashback to Mike’s first bachelor party when Adam asked the Croatian stripper about the genocide. Idiot. Ethan, though, is learning what it means to give a girl two drawers and a key and he needs to wade his way through asking permission to attend said fake party. Not only is it a fake party with great plans of failing in Adam’s hands, but he also invited both his own boss, Mike’s boss and the creepy convenience store guy Tad (who is actually the best awkward character, props to the random actor). Ethan is slightly whipped when his girlfriend thinks she’s invited and via Bluetooth Mike and Adam freak out at him for letting a girl into the boys only evening. Prime example of a girl ruining everything? The Little Rascals. Darla ruined everything! All the guys became zombies! They’re the little zombies now! (Brilliant writing.) Unfortunately, the analogy is lost on the British guy. (Brilliant fail.) Meanwhile, on the girls’ side of town, Lisa’s boss has assigned her and the creepy sexual undertones guy to an out of town campaign, so she recruits Callie to come with them. Who is the creepy sexual undertones guy? Adam Goldberg. For those of you who are not aware of the greatness that is Goldberg, think back to that show Friends when Chandler gets a new roommate who enjoys dehydrating fruit. Same guy. In the end, the bachelor party gets a bit out of hand and ends up coming to Mike’s house with his son Tommy sleeping in the next room and has to apologize to Adam after he found out that Ethan and Mike had their own bachelor party without Adam, so Mike appeals to the buzzkill side of him to kill the party before Lisa gets home. It’s such a relief to have a new show of quality amidst pilots that elicit some head scratching.

The Middle this last week had some major accomplishments running through the Heck family line. Sue is getting an MVP trophy and the ceremony is being held at the high school because the middle school has mould, but the first part is the one that surprises Mike and Frankie a little more. Sue? MVP? Shocker. Brick isn’t really getting a trophy, he’s continually getting his cousin’s hand-me-downs that show off a slightly different style than his own. Leather jacket and zipper flaps? A little louder than Brick would prefer. When the family goes to Sue’s trophy ceremony, Frankie realizes how bad it actually is when he comes up to ask her “who are The Village People?” and “who is Liberace?” Poor Brick. And the mystery of Sue’s MVP win is decoded when every girl gets a trophy for a different MVP something. Sue won for MVP Punctuality. Even though Mike thinks giving every kid a trophy defeats the purpose of finding it valuable, Sue shows it off with pride, taking it everywhere she goes until a dog eventually steals it and Brick and her break into the creepy Glossner garage, except that Brick gets locked in and he steals it back with his giant zipper pants. While all of that is going on, Axl keeps leaving his socks around the house and Mike gets fed up to the point where he gives an ill-thought punishment to show him who’s boss: he can’t play in the last game of the season. Frankie disagrees and Mike disagrees, but they can’t take it back without losing their position with the kids, but they also can’t handle being looked down upon by the other parents for withholding a star player from the final game. They reach a point of understanding and even though Axl’s team lost by 30, he beat his father’s record for free throws and gets a plaque where “Mike Heck” once stood. Oh yea, and he too gets a giant participation trophy. Oh how the times have changed!

ABC brought back their tepid new show Better With You and it actually was able to elicit a few laughs, as long as some of the over the top acting can be overlooked. Maddie was fired when she thought she was going to make partner, but after she refuses to accept her firing, she is escorted off and plans on keeping the news a secret from her parents until she gets a new job. The only problem is that her “refusing to be fired” situation means she’s flagged as a risky employee and the only job she can get is with the bus bench ambulance chasers. The sequence of her looking for a job is quite accurate in terms of the ups and downs of job searching, but drunk Maddie is a little too much and a little bit too dramatic. Mia and Casey, on the other side of things, are looking forward to their first baby gift from her parents and they get a book she used to have as a child. Casey looks up the price online and finds out it’s worth three hundred bucks, not one thousand as Mia guessed. Turns out, though, that after reading the book they find out it is incredibly racist. Which the buyer doesn’t realize. Nor do any of the Putneys. It leads the women to question their stances: “Is this why I don’t like The Wire?” “Is this why I didn’t like Sanford and Son?” “Is this why I didn’t like Urkel?” This is a story I can relate to. Rereading stories from my childhood opens my eyes to some things I may have missed. Try it. You’ll question everything.

Next: Modern Family, Happy Endings & more!

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