Friday, October 13, 2017

Fri-Yay: The Middle on The Top; Hulu Snags Futurama

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

The Middle

by Vincent

This week I'll be talking about a show that just started its final season but remains worthy of your attention: The Middle. The Middle is the quiet bedrock of ABC's comedy line-up, an unassuming little show about how hard it can be to be a lower middle class family in contemporary American society. The Middle premiered during the same fall as Modern Family, so it's always unfortunately been a little "in the shadow" of that series. But over its nine seasons, The Middle has distinguished itself as an often hilarious, always painfully real, and consistently great family sitcom that has helped shape ABC's solid family comedy line-up.

The Middle centers around the Heck family, a working class family in the fictional town of Orson, Indiana. It's anchored by an excellent performance from parents Neil Flynn and Patricia Heaton, but like many other ABC sitcoms, it also stars a surprisingly excellent cast of child actors - though at this point they aren't really "children" anymore. While many sitcoms begin running out of ideas as their younger cast members begin to grow older, The Middle has consistently found new ways to tell stories about its young adult cast members that still tie into the series' "down on their luck yet still optimistic" overall vibe. The Middle will be ending its run on ABC this year, and in a way, it's a shame, because it's the type of show I could see running for years and never growing old. It's not afraid to grow and change with its characters, and it's gotten to a point where I look forward to just hanging out with the Heck family. Plus, the series continues to experiment and toy with its formula - last year the show did an extended serialized arc centered around oldest son Axl's feud with his mom, and mostly nailed it.

It's too bad that The Middle hasn't always gotten the recognition it deserves, but luckily the show has one more full season for you to catch up if you've slept on the show, and will undoubtedly live on in syndication for years, so if you haven't checked it out yet, you have plenty of time. But you should do it soon!


Futurama

On Monday, October 16, 2017, the entire Futurama library - including all four films - will make their long-awaited streaming return, only on Hulu. Matt Groening, the multiple Emmy(R) Award-winning creator and executive producer of The Simpsons, has hatched another outrageous look at the world, Futurama. But we're not in Springfield anymore - we're in New York, a thousand years from now, and it's like no future you ever imagined! FRY (voiced by Billy West), a young Everyman, finds himself accidentally transported 1,000 years in the future. Just like right now, life in the future is a complex mix of the wonderful and horrible, where things are still laughable no matter how wild and crazy they get. And against a backdrop of pesky aliens, exasperating robots and malfunctioning gadgets, people still struggle with the same daily anxieties of life and love... and, of course, traffic is still a nightmare!

Having literally escaped his unfulfilled past, Fry uses his newfound sense of freedom to help his friends in the future escape their regimented lives. His companions include LEELA (voiced by Katey Sagal), a beautiful female alien who can kick some serious butt, and BENDER (voiced by John DiMaggio), a hopelessly neurotic assembly line robot. Working together, Fry and his colleagues buck the system in pursuit of happiness. And with each passing day, the future becomes Fry's home. With his unique satirical humor and distinctive style, Matt Groening has created another unconventional but lovable family. Futurama explores all the joys and disappointments of human existence, as well as some problems we don't have to worry about yet, such as what to do when the cell phone implanted in your thumb dials the wrong number. And while the show has a lot to say about today, more than anything Futurama is a celebration of the future at its wildest.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, October 19

Superstore - "Workplace Bullying" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Tensions arise among the employees after an attempted robbery, pitting Dina (Lauren Ash) against Jonah (Ben Feldman). Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) has a tough time firing the store security guard, and Amy (America Ferrera) discovers that her coworkers have been hanging out without her.

The Good Place - "The Trolley Problem" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tackle a famous ethical dilemma, leading to a conflict with Michael (Ted Danson). Meanwhile, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) harbors a secret and confides in Janet (D'Arcy Carden).

Will & Grace - "Grandpa Jack" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jack (Sean Hayes) is stunned to learn that his estranged son, Elliot (guest star Michael Angarano) has a son of his own, Skip (guest star Jet Jurgensmeyer). Moreover, Skip needs the kind of help only Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack can provide. Grace (Debra Messing) and Karen (Megan Mullally) behave badly with the hot new guy at work.

Great News - "Award Show" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
For the first time in years, "The Breakdown" has been nominated for an American Journalism Award. Katie (Briga Heelan) is looking forward to spending the night as a peer with the very reporters she has admired her whole life. Fearing her mother will ruin it, Katie tries to stop Carol (Andrea Martin) from attending but is unsuccessful when Carol secures a position as a seat-filler. Katie is stuck babysitting her mom all night but gets distracted by Jeremy (guest star Reid Scott), a handsome New York Times reporter who looks down on cable news. Chuck (John Michael Higgins) is excited to reunite with all of his old anchormen friends, especially Len Archer (guest star Christopher McDonald), an idol of Chuck's who is receiving a lifetime achievement award.

Better Things - "Eulogy" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam demands satisfaction.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Thursday, October 19

  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Catch Tracy on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Jim is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Amy Landecker (Transparent) - Amy is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Carl Reinder (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Carl appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Garcelle Beauvais (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Garcelle guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless/Reno 911!) - Cedric is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Angela Kinsey (Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine/The Office) - Angela talks about the new season of her Netflix show Haters Back Off on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Out of Practice) - Henry is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs) - Hayley appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Joanna Garcia Swisher (Reba/Better with You) - Joanna teams up with Michael Symon in the kitchen, giving the scoop on her new show and whipping up a tasty dish on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She also talks about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
  • Redman (Method & Red) - Redman appears on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
  • Debra Messing and Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Debra and Eric are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest