In Praise of ABCs Happy Endings:

Yesterday, I talked about NBC’s new hit The Voice. While not as big, it’s worth noting that ABC launched 3 shows beginning in March that will be back next season.

Secret Millionaire – averaged at least 10 million viewers a week. It was a self-starter. It never got less than a 2.4 in the demo.

Body Of Proof– after 6 eps it’s never gotten under a 2.0 even when it has competition that is getting close to a 6.0 (The Voice). It’s never been under 10 million viewers and prior to this week’s inflated competition, it was never under 11 million on Tuesday. It’s holding more of its DWTS audience than any other show, I believe. It’s certainly doing better than any show has done for ABC Tues at 10p in years and I believe it’s a lock to return to that slot in the fall.

Kudos to Paul Lee for rescuing these 2 shows that were set to debut in the fall on Friday and likely would never have reached their potential there.

The show I’d really like to single out is Happy Endings. Last week it held 100 percent of Cougar Town’s 2.1 and that was while it aired at 10p. There is ample positive buzz for this show all over the internet. Here’s one example: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/04/happy_endings_is_actually_funn.html.

All of this prompted ABC to double pump new episodes (in favor of Modern Family reruns at 10:30) thru the end of May Sweeps, so now 12 out of the 13 episodes produced will air (as opposed to the 8 that were scheduled).

I have to say, I am surprised by how much I like this show. Last night, besides Modern Family, I laughed out loud most at this show. At the heart of it, the cast just gels. You feel like these 6 people are genuinely friends (and probably like each other in real life). It’s really fast paced and seems to capture the late 20s/early 30s vibe correctly and I’m 10 years their senior and still find it funny and relatable. Plus with a gay character that feels like a real human being (not a caricature) and an African-American among its cast, it’s not just another 6 white heterosexual friends who are all couples, etc, like many of the other shows with that theme that have debuted this year. (Plus it’s way funnier than any of them.) The show actually addresses these issues regularly. Last night for example, Adam Pally’s “Max” accused close bud Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) of being a “gaycist” for setting him up with someone just solely because they were both gay, while they had actually nothing else in common. The way the show handled this truism was really funny. Even the term “gaycist” is funny. The show has coined many of these expressions that are pretty self-explanatory – “chicksand” is another favorite. A few weeks ago, the episode “Mein Coming Out” had a really funny storyline involving Penny dating a guy named Doug Hitler. Speaking of Penny, this entire cast is terrific, but Casey Wilson (who plays Penny) is a standout. She spent a season on SNL and didn’t really pop, but she’s really got great comedic timing. But again, the whole cast is great. Last night the show did this inspired riff on Krav Maga and Jazz Tai Kwon Do and had a final scene where the gang did a dance combing the two that was hysterical. (According to the Happy Town writers, film director Anne Fletcher choreographed it). I tried to find it online and couldn’t. Instead enjoy this scene of Max training Penny to be a hipster to impress her new beau (Added bonus: Kool & The Gang’s awesomely grooveworthy ,”Get Down On it” is featured.)

Last night’s numbers just came out and it appears that with fresh eps of SVU and the Criminal Minds spinoff, Happy Endings took a tumble with a 1.7 for first ep and a 1.4 for the second. A shame. (I assume it’s stronger with 18-34’s.) I think ABC knows they have something special here and I assume it will be renewed. Part of me hopes for one week they will flip Cougar Town to 10p in between 2 Happy Endings eps and let it benefit from the Modern Family lead in, but I don’t see ABC doing that to Bill Lawrence and company this year after the 9 week hiatus (especially since CT won’t have that timeslot next year).

After the ratings bump last week, I was actually thinking ABC might pair up HE and Cougar Town from 10-11 on Wed, next fall. I don’t think that’s the case now. I actually am more convinced that Castle will move to Wed at 10 next season (and they will launch a new drama out of the mega lead in provided by DWTS on Monday) which is a perfect fit for it and ABC will launch new single camera family shows Wed at 8:30 and 9:30. I assume Happy Endings and Cougar Town will be back for midseason. I hope ABC reruns HE in the summer. Maybe ABC could do something like this for Summer:

8p The Middle – 2 eps

9p Modern Family

9:30 Happy Endings

10p Modern Family

10:30 Cougar Town

I have a feeling ABC might air Castle again on Wednesdays 10p this summer especially if it moves there in the fall. I also think ABC might air the 4 leftover eps of Mr. Sunshine. If the show does get picked up again, I expect there to be some retooling. While I liked Mr. Sunshine a lot and see the potential, it’s nowhere as fully focused and legitimately funny regularly, like Happy Endings. (But in Matthew Perry and Allison Janney it has two great leads and Nate Torrence is quite funny. If they can get Lizzie Caplan to join they’d have a really good show, as she was terrific in the last ep they aired.) I just wonder if ABC will renew two bubble comedies. Out of the 2, Happy Endings is the one in better creative shape, the one with the buzz and the one with the most potential, I think.

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