Fresh Off the Boat – B
A too heartwarming episode lacking as many LOLs as last week finds Louis advising Emery (successfully, and bringing the two closer together) and Eddie introducing his not-Chinese girlfriend to Jessica. In a twist, the Chinese girl that arrives at the Huang house is sent by Eddie’s girlfriend, who panics under the pressure of disappointing Jessica and sends a girl from band. But that girl, perfect for Emery, is as boring as Eddie is charmingly rebellious, and Jessica chooses to dislike the girl that’s a perfect Chinese daughter-in-law. Which would be sweet, on any other show, that wasn’t about middle schoolers. As usual, Grandma (who made Evel Knievels cape) and Evan steal the show, with only two scenes, dedicated to Evan’s first suit.
– Katherine M. Hill
The Real O’Neals – A-
If only Papa O’Neal had a friend like Leslie Knope had Ann Perkins, maybe he would have avoided the lifetime’s worth of bad date he encounters in “The Real Rules” — and these first date follies truly are some of the abject worst, and funniest, seen on the small screen. It’s made all the more pathetic by the strong work by Jay R. Ferguson and Jessica-Snow Wilson (as the endlessly tolerant Gloria) who imbue the non-couple with definite chemistry — but as she sagely says, he’s cute, but she “can’t deal with [his] situation.” The awkwardness of the return to dating when still not truly over your ex is the overarching theme of this week’s The Real O’Neals, as Eileen has her own hot messiness, with a beyond screwy flirtation with Vice Principal Murray. And kudos to Matt Oberg for amazing job adding depth to a tropey character who could have been as one-note as Principal Belding, but adds a dash of nuance and comes off more Interim Principal Lynch. The two circle back around over coffee to warmly realize they are not quite as ready as they thought. It’s the sort of non-sappy heartwarming emotion on which this inspired young show thrives. The episode loses points for the kids’ C-plot, a pointless and out-of-character bit about the O’Neal children stealing their dad’s badge. Those points are then partially reclaimed by painfully underused family best friend Lori’s obsession with a barely fictionalized Farmersonly.com — based on their commercial placement, quirky half-hour comedy is farmer catnip, who knew? But good for them for not having to be lonely anymore.
– Jason Thurston