ABC’s Wednesday Night Comedies Scare Up Laughs

ABC Comedies

ABC’s Wednesday night comedy lineup is getting into the Halloween spirit with a quartet of themed episodes. The Middle lets Sue channel Linus in an “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” homage, The Goldbergs explores the old Pop Rocks with soda urban legend, Modern Family finds Claire taking on her new neighbors in a Halloween decoration contest and Black-ish wins the night with a hilarious prank fest. Costumes, candy stashes and wicked pranks aside, every show hits the same beat by reinforcing the idea that family comes first. Who knew Halloween could bring families so close together?

The family bonding kicks off with a solid episode of The Middle. Halloween mostly takes a back burner to the Heck kids’ confusion as they each grapple with entering new stages in their lives. Brick has a girl over to “hang,” Sue is trying not to panic over where she will get money for college and Axl is forced to face the uncertainty of his future. Only Brad’s ingenious Grease costume keeps the episode’s Halloween cred intact. The Middle does not need an overt Halloween storyline to produce a quality episode though. Halloween is all about fear and there is nothing scarier than growing up, as the Heck kids each realize as the night wears on.

The Goldbergs follows a similar trajectory as it puts the focus on Beverly’s fears that her children will forget about her when they grow up. Wendi McLendon-Covey is sharp as ever in her portrayal of the tough, but loving matriarch of the family, but it feels like an opportunity missed for the show not to give us a full on ’80s Halloween. However, points get added back for a hilarious take on the mixing Pop Rocks and cola urban legend that finds Erica indebted to Barry…at least in his mind.

It’s Modern Family and Black-ish that bring the tricks and treats with two episodes that find the families giving Halloween their all. Claire’s Halloween obsession makes a triumphant return in an outing that also finds Jay in love with his Prince Charming wig and Cameron unable to find Waldo. The new neighbors next door are over the top, but their presence spurs Claire into a Halloween frenzy that lets her revel in her dark side. The twist in the subplot is telegraphed early on, but “Halloween 3: AwesomeLand” is still the strongest episode of season six so far.

However, the best episode of the evening and the one that makes the best use out of the Halloween theme is “The Prank King” from Black-ish. The Johnson family take the holiday seriously. From pulling elaborate action movie moves while decorating to putting together an epic family costume, the Johnsons are in it to win it tonight. The spooktacular icing on the cake? The family engages in an annual prank off that is a no holds barred affair. Anthony Anderson steals the episode when Dre is forced to consider the possibility that his kids may not be as into Halloween as he wants them to be. (Dre versus the dancing balloon ghost is an absolute can’t miss moment.)

You will not find any real scares during ABC’s Halloween comedy spectacular tonight, but if you are looking for laughs and Halloween shenanigans that are all about celebrating the holiday with kids, dealing with growing up and growing older then ABC is the place to be. The fun begins with The Middle at 8PM ET/PT and continues until 10PM tonight, Wednesday, October 29th on ABC.

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