ABC's 2010-2011 comedies, first impressions: Will it get 'Better'?

better-together-320.jpgABC had an uncommonly good comedy development season last year, launching one out-of-the-box hit in "Modern Family" and two other shows, "The Middle" and "Cougar Town," that have both improved by huge amounts over the course of their first seasons.

The network is hoping to duplicate that success with three more comedies this year. The multi-camera show "Better Together" will join ABC's Wednesday lineup in the fall, and we may see the other two -- "Mr. Sunshine" and "Happy Endings" -- before 2010 is out too, according to ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson.

Time will tell if the new shows will make the grade. For now, we have a few thoughts. ( Our take on ABC's new dramas is here.)

"Better Together" (watch clips)

Those of you who've been pining for a "Committed" reunion, pine no more: The stars of NBC's 2005 comedy, Jennifer Finnigan and Josh Cooke, are reunited as a long-term but unmarried couple who are rattled when her younger sister ( JoAnna Garcia) gets engaged to a guy she's only known for a couple months ( Jake Lacy). Comedy veterans Debra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller liven things up a little as the sisters' parents, and it played pretty well in ABC's presentation at Lincoln Center, but we're not entirely sold yet. We'd like to know more about the sisters' relationship and why they are how they are.

"Happy Endings" (watch clips)

Bits and pieces of this show -- about how a group of friends tries to stay together when two of them ( Elisha Cuthbert and Zachary Knighton) break up at the altar -- were pretty funny ("Saturday Night Live" alum Casey Wilson, in particular, had a couple of good moments). But the underlying premise feels a wee bit thin -- will Knighton and Cuthbert's characters be forever throwing how well they've moved on in each other's face? We're curious to see the whole pilot to get a better sense of its overall tone.

"Mr. Sunshine" (watch clips)

Speaking of playing well in the room, Matthew Perry's new show did not: There was only one big laugh, for a bit of physical comedy from co-star Allison Janney. But for the moment, anyway, we're going to stake out the minority position and say we like what we've seen so far. As the sad-sack manager of a San Diego sports arena, Perry is in comic-masochist mode, which he does extremely well. That and a cast that includes Janney, Andrea Anders, James Lesure and Nate Torrence will have us watching at least at first.

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Photo credit: ABC