Wednesday Night All Stars: Terriers, Modern Family, Cougar Town, The Middle

LAW & ORDER: LA debuted last night and at 10p on broadcast television there were 3 iterations of the same law procedural, each with it own unique twist. LOLA in particular felt like the original show with a new cast (and locale) . Now Mr. Wolf certainly knows how to make a good TV show, but it just feels more of the same. It’s incredibly telling about broadcast that the only time slot this fall with 3 new shows and they are all procedurals, all law shows and all very familiar.

TERRIERS on FX had another great episode. This episode, its 4th, revisited some serial elements from the pilot with very twisty turns. This is the first episode that ended with a cliffhanger. Along the way it revealed new personal details to our lead characters. The person who has been climbing in Hank’s attic the last few weeks – turns our to be his sister, who’s currently off her medication. They have a tender relationship and Hank clearly loves and feels protective of her. The fascinating thing about this episode was the way the last act went in crazy unpredictable directions (like last week) and in a very interesting way, the action and the personal details converged in the last cliffhanging scene. 4 episodes in and each episode juggles tone differently, some lighter, some darker, while revealing new details about its characters. This is definitely the most distinctive new show. Plus it’s quite enjoyable too.

ABC’s family comedies Wednesday each delivered what they do best –  Mixing great laughs with relatable heart. On THE MIDDLE, Homecoming was really all about Frankie’s desire to mine some public affection out of her almost adult,  non affectionate son, Axel. COUGAR TOWN dealt with Jules difficulty with Travis leaving for college in its insane but hilarious way.

MODERN FAMILY finally went for “THE KISS”. It didn’t go down the way you’d expect and filled in more personal backstories of our cast along the way.  Mitchell’s lack of demonstrativeness with Cam revealed more details about his childhood with Jay as a dad.  Alex facing the prospect of her first kiss revealed more about Claire’s youth. One of the nitpicks from certain critics is that Modern Familt is too sugary sweet. I think people have gotten so used to overly snarky sitcoms that when there is genuine warmth attached to a show it’s jarring to them. Personally I think the beauty of this show is its ability to flesh out well drawn characters with heavy laughs (from everyone in the cast last night – no easy feat) and then conclude it with a scene that brings tears to my eyes. If that makes me sappy, so be it. When it’s authentic like it is here, I can’t get enough  of it.

Everyone may be focusing on “the kiss” but the scene that moved me the most is the scene of Cam holding Mitch on the couch as they watch TV (in the compilation scene at the end). It’s that familiarity with one’s life mate where just the tenderness expressed with each other is just simple and comfortable, and warm. As someone that is searching for that, I can assure you that in my fantasies while the “hot physical stuff” is wonderful, it’s the warmth, tenderness and sheer love and companionship that I think about the most.  Let’s face it, we all want someone who “has our back ” and we’ve got theirs. In that quick scene that was all conveyed.

Overall, I just love this family. I’d imagine that even the toughest critics of MODERN FAMILY will concede that last night’s ep was quite special, sugary sweet or not.

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