We knew it wouldn't be all grins and giggles when three networks decided to stake out comedy ground on Tuesdays this season, cannibalizing the audience with too much of a quirky thing. Sure enough, the laughter ended last week for two of the night's more offbeat sitcoms: Fox's Ben and Kate and ABC's Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, both abruptly if not unexpectedly yanked from the schedule.
If there's an upside, it's that we get more to love, at least for now, of Fox's underappreciated Raising Hope (8/7), now airing back-to-back episodes off and on for several weeks. First up, a major event for the Chance family, and a very funny episode, as Jimmy and Sabrina's wedding day finally arrives, captured in an awfully familiar mock-documentary style as a knowing homage to Modern Family (from the same studio). Burt, who has always been convinced their wacky life must be part of a hidden-camera reality show, is especially delighted, but everyone participates with asides delivered straight into the camera as inevitable complications threaten to derail the happy occasion. One snafu involves Maw Maw's past with the snippy reverend (Leslie Jordan), while another involves an unwelcome interloper whose identity can't be spoiled. The second episode (not available for review) sends the newlyweds on a road trip to Hollywood for a taping of little Hope's favorite show, Yo Zappa Do.
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The foolishness continues on Fox's Tuesday anchor New Girl (9/8c) as Nick becomes unusually attached to a coat designed for women, which he wears on a "band of brothers" night out with his restless bachelor roomies — leaving Jess once again the odd girl out, doing a nutty variation on Home Alone antics until the guys come back to rescue her, leading to some dynamics likely to get the show's "shippers" buzzing. ... Remember back when The Office was still The Office, and Kelly Kapoor had such a thing for office hottie Ryan? In a reunion on Fox's The Mindy Project(9:30/8:30c) that was bound to happen, Mindy Kaling's romantic-obsessive Mindy is sure she's finally found "the one," once again played by B.J. Novak.
On ABC, the vacancy in Apartment 23 is filled by back-to-back episodes of Happy Endings (9/8c) on a pivotal night in which Penny gets the proposal she's been hoping for from Pete (Nick Zano), which sends the crew to a wedding expo in the second half-hour. ... On NBC, holding steady with its new comedies, Ryan's attempts to date Simone (Piper Perabo) are foiled by repeated hauntings from his late wife on Go On(9/8c). And John Stamos returns to The New Normal (9:30/8:30c), now proved to be most definitely straight, thus becoming the object of Nana's desire, while dad-to-be Bryan becomes obsessed with the issue of breastfeeding their babe. ... On Cougar Town (TBS, 10/9c), the cul-de-sac crew becomes hilariously unhinged when neighborhood nebbish Tom begins squiring a feisty new girlfriend (Ali Wentworth).
NOT SO LATE NIGHT: If you missed Matt Damon getting his mock revenge on longtime nemesis Jimmy Kimmel by taking over Jimmy Kimmel Live last Thursday night, you won't have to stay up so late for the replay of this chaotically funny hour. ABC is giving their star (even though bound and gagged for the entire episode) prime-time exposure with a special prime-time encore of the "Jimmy Kimmel Sucks" edition (10/9c), in which Damon replaces the bandleader with Sheryl Crow, enlists a very willing Andy Garcia to be his Guillermo and gets monologue help from Robin Williams while a crestfallen Ben Affleck looks on from the cue-card position ("I never wanted it to end up this way"). Damon crowds his couch with top-shelf talent, several of whom declare they've never been on Kimmel before (although a few climb on top of him), and caps the night with an appearance by Kimmel's ex, Sarah Silverman, who once so famously "f---ed" Damon in the classic music video. For further enjoyment, check out Michael Schneider's story on how this elaborate stunt came to be.
From low comedy to high drama ... FX's Justified (10/9c) is really burning through the subplots. Having "handled" Reverend Billy with a venomous snake last week, Boyd Crowder now turns his attention to repentant tramp Ellen May, who has wandered back "home" from salvation but may be harboring too many secrets to be trusted. And where's Raylan? Teaming with Rachel to track down sexy bartender Lindsay, who took off with the "goodly sum" of cash from his underwear drawer and is back on the road with her bruiser of a husband like a penny-ante version of Bonnie and Clyde. There will be shooting before it's over, but it's funnier than it sounds.
Flashback time for fan favorite Abby (Pauley Perrette) on CBS' megahit NCIS (8/7c), as a Marine's car accident triggers traumatic memories from her youth. ... On CBS' Vegas (10/9c), Jack (Jason O'Mara) must have known he was playing with fire by courting mobster's daughter Mia (Sarah Jones), but now it's time to face her dad's wrath. ... USA Network's White Collar (10/9c) continues its investigation into the corrupt cop network that framed Neal's father and ruined his family, a trail that leads to a senator and a shady real-estate developer.
THE TUESDAY GUIDE: Daytime Emmy winner Steve Burton, formerly of General Hospital, leaps to CBS' The Young and the Restless (check tvguide.com listings), arriving in Genoa City as an ex-soldier with, what else, a secret. ... PBS' entertaining Pioneers of Television (check tvguide.com listings) continues its winter run with a look back at classic TV "Superheroes," from '50s and '60s boomer icons Superman and Batman to cult faves like Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. The episode includes an interview with The Greatest American Hero's Robert Culp filmed shortly before his death in 2010. ... Tune in for the creativity on Syfy's Face Off (9/8c) as the monster-makers tackle a demon challenge that blows from hot to cold, and stay for the impressively detailed but opinionated judging, including Glenn Hetrick's unforgettable critique: "It punches you in the face with how bad it sucks." ... For history buffs, PBS' American Experience presents a warts-and-all profile of industrialist Henry Ford (check tvguide.com listings). ... Last year's astoundingly popular History miniseries about the infamous family feud between the Hatfields and McCoys revealed what a powerful grip that story still has on the nation's imagination. National Geographic Channel's Diggers(10/9c) returns to the presumed site of the families' final showdown in rural Kentucky to seek 125-year-old artifacts.