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Archive for Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sitcoms carve out stories for the season

October 30, 2012

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Nobody this side of grammar school pays as much attention to holidays as television writers. Every season seems to be awash with Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Valentine’s Day episodes. This spring, both “Modern Family” and “30 Rock” carved out special commemorations of Leap Year’s extra day — a fascinating milestone for the fourth-grader in all of us.

Writers may enjoy churning out these episodes like so many greeting cards, but the programs often seem jarring when repeated in the off-season. Nothing says “repeat” like Thanksgiving in June.

Of course, not all new shows even get to air their Halloween episodes. “Made in Jersey” and “Animal Practice” were deep-sixed before the pumpkins were picked. And don’t be surprised if “The Mob Doctor” enters its own witness protection program.

Halloween-themed stories show up tonight on “Ben and Kate” (7:30 p.m., Fox), where party preparations are anything but casual, and “New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox), where Jess gets a job at a haunted house. Body image looms large on “The Mindy Project” (8 p.m., Fox) when our heroine goes costume shopping. Chloe’s caustic personality threatens to ruin June’s favorite holiday on “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23” (8:30 p.m., ABC). And “The New Normal” (9:30 p.m., NBC) visits the pumpkin patch.

Tonight’s other highlights:

• Burt’s choice of bar raises eyebrows on “Raising Hope” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Actress, author and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres becomes the 15th recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (7 p.m., PBS).

“The Men Who Built America” (8 p.m., History) examines the rise of J.P. Morgan’s financial empire and Thomas Edison’s revolution in electricity and commerce.

• A raging river underscores the need for a cabin’s relocation on “Alaska: The Last Frontier” (8 p.m., Discovery).

• Lamb suspects Savino has used kidnapping as a bargaining chip on “Vegas” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A documentary holds a mirror to Sam on “Private Practice” (9 p.m., ABC). The sad reality for this medical soap is that it has been canceled.

• Stuck in the middle on “Covert Affairs” (9 p.m., USA).

• Bonds bend and break on “Sons of Anarchy” (9 p.m., FX).

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