Though as popular as ever, ABC's top comedy Modern Family isn't always the most pleasant company — and in this week's episode (Wednesday, 9/8c), several of the more abrasive and prickly characters (notably, siblings Claire and Mitchell) confront their dark side with sporadically funny if sometimes predictable results. While Claire insists she loves her "malevolent hellspawn," she's secretly rooting for them to combust when good-natured Phil insists the whole family crowd into a giant RV for a ride up the coast, a prelude to a possible cross-country jaunt. (OK, that part really is a bad idea.) Even when things go smoothly, Claire can't enjoy it, so eager is she to have an "I told you so" moment that she momentarily finds herself in a "full shame spiral." Ditto Mitchell, who finds himself turning into a monster at the sidelines of little Lily's gymnastics match. Did they inherit their unearthly urges and unhealthy competitive edge from papa Jay? It's entirely possible, as he spends much of the episode with wife Gloria snooping through his kids' homes and lamenting how little Manny has become such a goody-two-shoes. If this was just one big happy family, there probably wouldn't be much of a show, right?
The ABC family I'm most in love with these days, the Hecks of The Middle, is a week away from an uproarious graduation-themed season finale. This week (8/7c), Frankie is mistaken for a doctor — that's gotta be a first — when she forgets to take off her dental-assistant lab coat while waiting in line to pay a delinquent bill (that's more like it). 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer plays her understandably puzzled new boss.
Want more TV news and reviews? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!
VIVA THE DIVAS: With only two ladies left singing — Kree Harrison with her country cool, Candice Glover with her dazzling R&B pipes — Fox's American Idol shrinks to an hour (8/7c) with one last round of live competition in advance of Thursday's gala coronation of the next winner and a year to come of no-doubt-massive retooling. For those "dawg" lovers out there, this week is also Randy Jackson's swan song on the judging panel, begging the question of whether any of this season's newbies will return (my money's on the charming Keith Urban if anyone).
THE WEDNESDAY GUIDE: More finales as the traditional network season counts down its last week before the summer break (not that there's ever an actual break anymore): CBS's CSI (10/9c) jams to Black Sabbath as they investigate murders with a "Dante's Inferno" theme. The guest-star-heavy roster includes Eric Roberts, Tim Matheson, Annabella Sciorra and Battlestar Galactica's James Callis. ... Climactic showdowns are afoot on The CW, as Oliver and sidekick Diggle try to stop the Dark Archer on Arrow (8/7c), and Supernatural (9/8c) pits the Winchester boys against good old bad old Crowley in hopes of sealing Hell for good. (But where would that leave the show if they did?) ... And while it's not the finale, NBC's Chicago Fire (10/9c) sets the stage for next mid-season's spin-off Chicago PD, as Casey once again tangles with dirty cop Voight (Jason Beghe), who now runs the CPD's Intelligence Unit.
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!