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'A to Z' react: B is for blah

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “E Is for Ectoplasm” | Aired Oct 30, 2014

A to Z has been getting the kind of buzz no freshman show wants: that buzz that suggests it’s on the short list for cancellation. If it doesn’t find itself soon, those rumors might just come true. I really do think A to Z had a solid start. The premise is interesting, and the leads are engaging and likable (though, unfortunately, neither are as strong in A to Z as they’ve been in their past projects). But this week’s A to Z was blah. It wasn’t bad, per se. There was nothing really wrong with it, but within minutes of the credits rolling, I barely remembered it. That, my friends, is blah.

“E Is for Ectoplasm” is A to Z‘s Halloween episode. The title is a Ghostbusters reference because Andrew and Stu have a Halloween tradition of dressing as Ghostbusters every. Single. Year. And Zelda and Stephie? They have a tradition of their own. They dress as Laverne and Shirley every. Single. Year.

But even though our leads both have best-friend traditions spanning years, they decide to nix these plans last minute to throw a party and celebrate their coupledom. Naturally, Stu and Stephie aren’t happy. Why would they even pretend to be? As several characters point out several times in the episode, Andrew and Zelda have only been dating for a month. We know they’re supposed to be a special couple, the kind where you just KNOW (but since they break up by the end of season 1, it’s hard to really invest in this), but who just ditches their best friend for someone they’ve been dating for a few weeks? It doesn’t help Zelda or Andrew’s likability factors and, frankly, I side with Stu and Stephie, even when they get a little immature about the whole thing.

As usual, the scene stealer is Big Bird, who this week is scrambling to find a Wallflower “Golden Couple” to parade to the press as a company success story (the original Golden Couple falls through when the groom chokes the bride to death a few days before the big Halloween party/press junket). She taps Andrew and Zelda because PLOT, and their Halloween party is canceled as they attend the Wallflower party instead. Does it feel contrived? Yeah, I think so, too.

Big Bird is the kind of boss who forces her employees to involve their personal lives in their professional lives, insists they lie to press, and locks her least attractive employees in “nerd jail” so they won’t lower the hotness factor of the party. As I say every week:

But even Big Bird was less likable this week. She wasn’t out of character or poorly written, she was just blah. The buzzword of this episode is “blah,” and that makes me sad. I know that Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti are both incredible. I’ve enjoyed their past performances so much that I’m rooting for this show like I’m personally friends with them. Please, A to Z, step up your game. You can do this. Just don’t let F be for Failure.

A to Z airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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