Tuesday night is huge for television comedy. In order to make sense of all of the options, we've decided to rank them each week to suss out who is coming out on top.
1. Trophy Wife
This blurb exists both to praise Trophy Wife's latest episode, and as a plea to ABC to not cancel this show. Last night, Trophy Wife showed just what it can do. There was great chemistry between Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford as Kate and Pete Harrison; wonderful stuff from Michaela Watkins and Marcia Gay Harden as Jackie and Diane as Pete's ex-wives both embarking on romances of their own; and the kids were allowed to be both genuine and hilarious. Of note: Bert's yarmulke and Warren's Braveheart obsession. Plus! Bonus Megan Mullally at the end! There were enough references—Muppets Take Manhattan, Uncle Buck—without relying too heavily on nostalgia. Though, we always appreciate a good flashback scene with a wig, and this episode gave that to us in the form of Pete's wedding videos with Jackie and Diane. He and Diane got married during the O.J. Simpson car chase. Of course they did.
2. New Girl
Last night's episode of New Girl was all about dealing with the aftermath of Linda Cardellini's departure as Jess's sister Abby. There was, of course, the literal aftermath, with the contrived and absurd plot line following Schmidt getting sued when a random guy breaks his arm in the storefront Schmidt originally rented for Abby. But you could also tell the show was clearly missing something from the few episodes prior, which were the best of the year and broke up the monotony of season 3. The other A-story of "Fired Up" (Jess gets Coach a job, then fires him, then rehires him) could have taken place at any time during this season, and aside from the set-up to the lawsuit story, Abby wasn't mentioned at all. New Girl followed Cardellini's three-episode arc with a very typical episode: self-contained with nothing remarkable. Still, it was a pretty funny episode. We got to see (incompetent) lawyer Nick in action; Winston got a new nickname, "Courtroom Brown"; Coach Coach went all-out for his high school volleyball team; and CeCe flirted with a 20-year-old from Australia. And for some reason, there's little funnier in this show than Nick calling Jess "Jessica."
3. The Goldbergs
The Goldbergs isn't trying to do anything crazy: it's a simple family sitcom set in the 1980s. And occasionally, it does that very well. "Lame Gretzky" followed two entirely separate stories: Adam ineptly playing hockey and trying to make his dad proud, while Erica and her mom battled over SAT scores and colleges. The best jokes of the episode were all about words: Adam calling his hockey uniform a "costume" (which is just perfect, really), and Beverly giving Erica fake SAT words like "torculent," "flimjam," and "plorpf" to sabotage her score. In the end, it was all about family bonding – Murray and Adam make a sci-fi movie, and Beverly agrees to think about letting Erica go to Stanford. Like we said, Goldbergs isn't going to do anything revolutionary, but with episodes like last night's, it sets its sights low and meets them. Also, we would totally watch Alien Dad.
4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
After a superb episode last week which actually provided for some character and relationship development, Brooklyn Nine-Nine disappointed last night with an all-over-the-place episode. One one hand, we have Sergeant Terry, Detective Santiago, and Gina all embarking on a diet that ends in one huge fart joke. (It was funny, we admit.) On the other, we have Andy Samberg's Jake trying to get Detective Boyle to tell his fiancée that he doesn't want to move to Canada. And then there was a plot about how Rosa is mean. It was all just fairly underwhelming, and not up to par with what this show can do.
5. About a Boy
About a Boy unfortunately doesn't seem to have progressed much from its first episode. The problem with shoehorning the entire plot of the eponymous movie and Nick Hornby book into the pilot is that now Will's immaturity makes the show simply seem stagnant. To make matters worse, a number of jokes in this episode also seemed about two years two old. Adele and Abu Nazir shout-outs? Please.
6. Growing Up Fisher
There's only so much a show can do with a one-joke premise: we get it, Mel Fisher is blind. Last night's episode, the show's third overall, applied that joke to the adult dating game. Both Mel and his ex-wife Joyce went on their first dates post-separation: Mel's had a weird and questionable joke about accidentally grabbing a woman's breast, and frankly, the show doesn't even seem to know what to do with Jenna Elfman as Joyce. Oh, the kids went on dates too. Joyce was the only one who truly struck out, but really, the whole show did.