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Laugh Tracks: Love is in the sitcom air

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, half hour shows are diving at the chance to share in the love, and for those that haven’t jumped on the V-Day wagon, there’s still time this week to love it up. Two new shows have popped up, too, making for a packed Monday through Thursday.

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By Amy Van Veen (Contributer) – Email

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, half hour shows are diving at the chance to share in the love, and for those that haven’t jumped on the V-Day wagon, there’s still time this week to love it up. Two new shows have popped up, too, making for a packed Monday through Thursday.

Monday night brought HIMYM back with guest star Katy Perry as Zoey’s hot cousin for Ted. The only problem is Ted loves Zoey and Zoey loves Ted, but he can’t do anything because she’s married, but she’s got a secret of her own and the entire drama unfolds thanks to Marshall long distance calling from Minnesota. The audience gets a little bit more of Marshall’s family and their ability to subvert back to adolescent tendencies. While the whole Ted/Zoey drama is going on, though, Barney is having a moment of his own with Katy Perry, who is only remembered as “Honey” thanks to her severe naivety and everyone’s subsequent response to her stories, “Oh, honey.” Even though Barney shares his tall tale of the night he had with the slutty cousin, his own daddy issues come to light. Interesting how karma works.

On Tuesday night, FOX brought back an all new episode of Raising Hope. Jimmy thinks he’s found Mr. Right when he sees a fellow young father dealing with the pressures of being a single dad. After a series of failed attempts at leaving a non-creepy voicemail via a rotary dial phone with help from Virginia’s recorder “pressing” the right tone for a re-record, Jimmy and Justin connect. All seems like it’s meant to be bromance when Jimmy’s hanging out Justin’s parents’ house, until Virginia comes in with the cleaning crew to scrub the toilets. Despite both mothers appealing to their sons that “employees cannot be chummy with employers”, the two families collide for dinner at the Chance residence. In the end, though, things take a turn for the worse when Justin starts moving in on Sabrina. All in all, a fantastic episode with a whole two moments of lucidity for Maw-Maw, who is apparently the only person able to fix anything in the house, and a nice overlap of the fathers’ stories.

Running Wilde has been cancelled, proving to the world that Arrested Development all-stars are not given the proper support on the small screen. Instead, a new show has shown up on the horizon: Traffic Light. At first, the title of the show made little sense, especially since the original title was Mixed Signals, but thanks to a little heartfelt speech at the end, it all became clearer. The show is based on an Israeli TV show and it follows three male friends in three different places in their lives. With two Office alums, Nick the IT guy and Roy, this show is already looking good. Ethan, who hails from Love Actually, is a British bloke with zero commitment plans, save for the relationship he has with his bulldog Carl. Adam has just moved in with his girlfriend and is realizing the difference between “she stays over every night” and “we live together.” Mike, previously Roy, is a happily married man with a child who strives to find those few moments between work in the office and work at home. Bluetooth has never been this funny and the solid emotional grounding at the end of the episode proves this show may be something different.

Wednesday night started off with some odd romance in The Middle. Axl has a new girlfriend and enlists the help of his mom, who is so flattered to be asked to spend time with her teenage son, she doesn’t realize she’s practically dating him. Sue continues her hunt of the boy she got her first kiss from on Halloween, but when he’s part of the popular crowd at school, she sees the difficulty of trying to get his attention. In the end, she makes a Sue Heck sized statement wearing her crayon costume from Halloween to a junior high Valentine’s Day dance. She has a very unique level of teenage girl confidence. After Frankie is banned from Brick’s classroom, Mike has to take over the shift at both the Valentine’s Day mailbox making and the Valentine distribution and once again, with all his good intentions, he ruins another child’s chance at romance. Poor Brick. Axl, too, ends up single on V-Day after he finds out that his pink haired, shaved head, pierced, tattoo-clad, motorcycle driving, smoker girlfriend is a vegetarian.

Better With You has Maddie and Vicki coming to the rescue when Mia faces a Valentine’s Day disaster at her Paperless Post Service. Ben and Joel, who usually stick to their rule of one store bought card and one rose, cave when they find out how much Casey loves spoiling his girl on February 14. Vicki hasn’t worked in an office since the 1980s, so she requires a few extras: namely a punny coffee mug and a flask. After Mia’s youthful technical director crosses her, though, she shatters him, Vicki style. After a hard day at work, the three Putney women come home to a Valentine’s Day palooza care of their men and we see the many different ways they spoil each other.

Clive Bixby is back on Modern Family. After Claire and Phil try their best to have a normal celebration, they find they’re among the aging crowd of scooter riders and pill poppers, so they try to fix things by bringing back Juliana and Clive. Unfortunately Phil/Clive takes the wrong hotel card and nudity ensues, in the wrong room. Manny helps Haley find herself, which means breaking up with David, but that also means Dylan has an opportunity to win her back with song and Manny is left on the sidelines. Cam and Mitchell fight over who has the admirer and Gloria and Jay try to out-romanticize and out-wit each other.

Matthew Perry is back on primetime with Mr. Sunshine. First of all, this new show has the best theme song of them all: a monotonous voice with absolutely no excitement saying, “Mr. Sunshine. Yay.” Beyond that, Allison Janney is hilarious as the owner of The Sunshine Centre, home of rodeos, concerts, political conventions, sports and any other event that needs thousands of fans, including the circus. Portia Doubleday, who played Michael Cera’s girlfriend in Youth in Revolt plays Ben’s (Matthew Perry) assistant who has previously been accused of setting a man on fire, but never convicted. Nate Torrence plays Allison Janney’s son and Andrea Anders plays Ben’s ex-girlfriend Alice. Anders has been in several sitcoms over the last few years that never really took off, including Better Off Ted with Portia de Rossi and The Class with Mitchell from Modern Family. Is it her turn to strike comedic gold on ABC? Let’s hope so.

Thursday night starts off with a less weird episode of Community. February 14 is a night of choices for the study group. Britta thinks she’s befriended a lesbian, who is actually straight and think she’s befriended a lesbian in Britta. Troy and Abed compete for the hot librarian. Jeff has to deal with Chang and Professor Duncan intruding with a party. Pierce finds happiness in pill form, and Andy Dick is the tiny man who he sees when he’s on pills. Troy dances. And the gang is oddly defensive of BNL.

Perfect Couples has improved tenfold with one scene: Julia’s reaction to being hit on at the gym. It is perfect and hilarious and honest, which is more than can be said about the episodes up to date. Rex is having money problems with his exotic car dealership in the middle of a recession. Dave gets drunk and a little bit jealous and Amy and Vance deal with their relationship problems in their own special way. Thankfully, Leigh finally gets real instead of relying on insanely obsessive antics, and the characters are finally being fleshed out. It only took a month of episodes.

The cold open of The Office has Darryl in tears, which really hits home for some reason. Holly and Michael PDA a little too much, which calls for an emergency meeting on the company’s policies on public displays of affection. Jim and Pam celebrate Valentine’s Day with a champagne lunch. Correction: with a bottomless champagne lunch, and spend the rest of the day drunk at work which is possibly the most fantastic thing of season 7. Andy helps Erin with Gabe’s treasure hunt. It’s not a scavenger hunt, though, as stick-insect Gabe made an obnoxious point of defining each. Michael and Holly love each other and are moving in together. Too bad she has to leave for Nashua, will Mr. Scott be joining her?

Parks & Rec hit another homerun with this week’s episode highlighting Tammy’s comeback. I found out this week that Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, is married to Megan Mullally, who plays his “manipulative, psychotic, library book peddling, sex crazed she demon” ex-wife Tammy. The fact that the two are married makes the whole situation that much funnier. Ben and Leslie throw a party for the cops in order to get them to be security at the Pawnee Harvest Festival. April, the world’s most angst-ridden government worker, becomes the temporary assistant to Chris, the world’s most optimistic budget cutter. Tom tries to get back at Ron by being with Tammy, which only causes Ron to fall of the wagon and get remarried, have cornrows and wear a kimono. Jerry sucks at interventions and Chris offers April a job in Indianapolis. Great episode.

30 Rock tries to celebrate V-Day, but fails. Liz is dating the male version of herself in Carol and Jack is married to the female version of himself in Avery, which means they also seem to share the same flaws. Liz and Carol both take stubborn stands resulting in him pointing a gun at her on an airplane and her holding an old man as a shield. Jack and Avery try their best not to have their baby in Canada, but a drive with a mobile meth lab opens Jack’s eyes. Tracy can’t deal with the pressures of EGOTing, but K-word eventually inspires him to go to Africa, or something that looks like Africa. It was an alright episode, but the greatest of all was finding out Carol’s last name.

Outsourced celebrates “fat flying infants armed with crossbows” when Gupta’s behaviour calls for an emergency anger management training. Manmeet juggles two women on V-Day, proving just how skilled he is with webcams and long distance relationships. Gupta and Todd get real and Gupta decides to move out on his own, which is a lot closer to Todd than he was hoping. Right above his apartment close.

Big Bang Theory had a nice little university pun, “oh the humanities” and Lucille Bluth stopped by to rock Leonard’s world. Amy Farrah-Fowler proves to be just as annoying via webcam and Howard’s dickies are still a source of laughter. The real question, though, is why was Penny so excluded? The audience needs more Penny and Sheldon magic.

For those who love the mash-up of great shows, both new and old, keep your eyes open for a new CBS comedy called Mad Love starring Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke as two people who have fallen madly in love, and their best friends played by Tyler Labine and the incredible Judy Greer, who hate each other. Should be interesting with so much comedy talent coming right after HIMYM on Monday night.

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