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Archive for August, 2009

Reading Rainbow

Last episode today… Farewell, old friend.

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by Judi

As a kid, I loved September because I was a giant nerd who enjoyed shopping for school supplies. As an adult, September is really all about television and thus, a reason to celebrate. What shows (both new and returning) am I most looking forward to? I’m so GLAD you ASKED.*

Glee (New)

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When: September 2 on FOX

Why: Because I loved Nip/Tuck before it got way too weird. Because Jane Lynch is in it. Because teacher Will Schuester is seriously cute. And it’s about outcast kids who SING. As we’ve established, I kind of love that a lot.

Community (New)NUP_134878_0426

When: September 17 on NBC

Why: JOEL MCHALE. The promos have actually been amusing (which is nice for a change). Chevy Chase looks like he’s doing his best Lovahs impression but mostly for Joel McHale, whom I would walk through a California fire to see.

Bones (Returning)bones

When: September 17 on FOX

Why: Honestly… I don’t know. I was seriously irritated by the season finale but…argh… I just…I can’t… I’m willing to give Season 5 a chance to redeem itself. Let’s leave it at that. (Plus, the BBC just canceled Robin Hood and I’m so happy about that, that I’m willing to be charitable.)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Returning)

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When: September 17 on FX

Why: Doesn’t it feel like forever ago since we’ve seen Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Dee and Frank? I started seeing previews for the new season a few weeks ago and cannot even begin to describe my joy and excitement. Just that one image of Charlie and the cat with the red mittens set me up for the rest of the month. Can’t wait.

How I Met Your Mother (Returning)

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When: September 21 on CBS

Why: I probably would never have started watch HIMYM if it weren’t for sweet, glorious Lifetime. I have an automatic aversion to CBS comedies (hearing that everyone’s dad likes “The Big Bang Theory” is not enough of an incentive to actually watch the show. And I’ve seen “Two and a Half Men” and all I have to say is, “Really? THIS is the biggest sitcom in America?”). Mother, however, while not being all-out funny is actually really enjoyable to watch. The characters are just quirky enough to be endearing and the situations actually ring true for a 20/30 something group of friends. Plus, Neil Patrick Harris is in it and apparently you didn’t get the memo that we have to see him in EVERYTHING these days.

Modern Family (New)

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When: September 23 on ABC

Why: The up-close previews at my local movie theater actually made me chuckle. And while I’m pretty sure I’ll watch this show once and then completely forget it exists, I’m still excited to see that first episode. Plus that girl from Ed and Lost (and Happy Madison!) is in it.

* Harry Connick Jr. was seriously underrated on Will and Grace. Just saying.

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5. Monica on Friends “The One Where Monica Sings” (2003)

Alright so technically Monica doesn’t have to sing, but I’m still keeping this on my list, for several reasons. The first being Paul Rudd as Phoebe’s boyfriend, Mike, who works at the piano bar where Monica chooses to perform a little ditty. He’s hilarious and as I think NTO has mentioned a time or two before, terribly underrated. Also, hello, “Delta Dawn!” This is the kind of song that would be sooo fun to sing in a karaoke bar. The lyrics are simple, it’s southern, it’s twangy, it frequently finds itself in on my iTunes “25 most played.” However, even I–who have no shame and have sung Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” more than a dozen times in public–reserve that song for the shower or other private moments in which I find a microphone like object in my hand. Monica, however, goes right for it. A bold choice that is well received by an audience of generic New Yorkers. Oh that’s right, this is a sitcom, something zany’s about to happen. . .sure enough, the crowd isn’t moved so much by her rousing rendition of the Tanya Tucker classic, but  by the spotlight’s ability to make her shirt transparent. Whatever though, I totally laughed, because it’s funny. SHE DOESN’T KNOW!

4. Peter on The Brady Bunch “Dough Re Mi” (1972)

This is like, one of the most classic episodes in television history. I don’t even think it’s necessary for me to explain the premise, but, alas, I will. Greg, being his groovy self, decides that the world has waited long enough for the Brady Bunch (I wonder if that’s what they called their “band”) to drop a record, so he books some time at a studio (where did he get that kind of money?) and dragged his musically gifted mess of siblings down to lay down some tracks. Things get ugly though, when Peter, a victim of abrupt puberty, cannot sing his part, due to the EXTREME fluctuations in his changing voice. Luckily, Greg comes up with the nifty idea to incorporate Peter’s “issue” into the song, which is a SMASH hit. Sadly, when I located this clip online, I was able to sing nearly every word. I don’t have many life regrets, but I will NEVER forgive myself for selling my “It’s a Sunshine Day: The Best of the Brady Bunch” CD for $2 at a garage sale in the mid-90’s, NEVER.

3. Rayanne on My So-Called Life “On the Wagon” (1994)

I have really mixed feelings about this episode, and this incident in particular. First of all, the band, The Frozen Embryos, has up until this episode been made up of some randoms and Jordan Catalano and Tino. Am I right? Well, when Tino quits the band, they get desperate for a new singer. Now, the obvious solution to such a problem, would be for Jordan to sing. We all heard him serenade Angela with his less-than-deep ode to his car “Red” earlier in the series. He has a nice voice, and can sing AND play his instrument. Furthermore, if he can write his own songs, both music and lyrics, then surely he could handle a cover. No? Enter Rayanne, who recently sober, is desperate for a new attention grabbing ploy. And let’s face it, every teenage girl with a substance abuse problem, should probably be in a garage, excuse me, loft, band. Somehow, she finds herself the lead singer of the band, wherein she sings FOR THE FIRST TIME at some open mic, battle of the bands, I-wish-I-was-dead-instead-of-sitting-through-this gig and fails miserably. She does sort of redeem herself (and my self esteem) in the final scene. If only she would have fallen off the wagon BEFORE her stint in The Frozen Embryos.

2. Violet Bickerstaff on Saved by the Bell “The Glee Club” (1990)

Does anyone know how reruns work? Like, who decides what episodes will air when, in what order and how often? I watched SBTB every day after school on TBS for probably about a decade, and THIS episode is one of those that I always hoped for, but rarely aired. The gang, in an attempt to win a group trip to Hawaii, joins the Bayside Glee club, which will compete for such a prize with other local schools. Unfortunately, no one in the gang, or otherwise, SCOTT WOLF, can sing, except Jessie, who has caught Lisa’s cold (“Saawwrry,” Lisa says, in a clip that is featured in the opening credits for years to come, possibly because she is wearing the fiercest get-up ever worn). After discovering that Violet Bickerstaff, ahem, TORI SPELLING can sing, Zack and Mr. Tuttle make a plan to feature her, and downplay everyone else. It’s a foolproof plan really, the judges are never going to notice those innocuous “bum bum” noises they’re making, it totally sounds like harmony! However, their plans are foiled when a lovesick Screech simply ruins dinner at the Bickerstaff’s house, and Mr./Mrs. Bickerstaff FORBID Violet to see “Samuel” anymore, which means, no more glee club. She arrives last minute for the performance, but not before the club tries to pull a Milli Vanilli with a tape deck and cassette of the L.A. glee club (really?? the L.A. glee club?)

1. Clare Arnold on Beverly Hills, 90210 “The Long Goodbye” (1997)

When given this week’s topic, I had a moment of “I can’t think of any sing—oh Clare Arnold!” As surprised as I was with myself for coming up with a somewhat longish list of “must sing” incidents, I was more surprised to discover that this episode is, in fact, my FAVORITE BH, 90210 episode of all time. Though, not so much the talent show side-story, in which Clare sings, but for the fact that Brandon and Kelly get back together after she shows him that she’s been wearing the engagement ring he once gave her on a necklace (“I couldn’t bear anyone else having it”) and he thinks she went to the airport to see Dylan, and they hug, and make out, and confess their love. Aaaannyway, back to Clare, who despite having seemingly atrocious vocal stylings, signs up for the annual Greek life talent show at CU, to pay homage to her late mother through song. Unfortunately, boyfriend Steve Sanders (a talent in his own right) must find the right way to tell Clare that she’s horrible. It gets emotional when she reveals how important it is to her to sing this song, a favorite of her mother’s (who apparently sang it wonderfully, obviously) in front of a room full of peers who will shun her ever after. But wait, Clare is privy to the secret of a gorgeous voice: “sing from the heart.” Jesus. Did someone really write that down? Who approved this script? Clare can’t sing, BUT, perhaps if she really tries FROM THE HEART, truly and deeply from within, she will invoke the spirit of her dead mother, and sing beautifully while simultaneously coming to terms with her death. It’s TV GOLD!

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by Judi

Ok, fine. FINE. I admit it. I LOVE musicals. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? I am one of those people who “totally gets” what’s so great about people who spontaneously burst into song and tap-dance in the street in big, choreographed numbers. I think the fact that the musical is now a relic of better times (and High School Musical does not count, sorry. Call me when those kids challenge The Jets) is a travesty and must be remedied. But I digress. This platform is not the place for movie musicals. It’s a place of television MAGIC.

Occasionally though, these two worlds collide in outrageously entertaining fashion. Some are lavish, all-episode affairs (see #1) and some are, well, ridiculous. Some shows did it a little too much (I’m looking at you, McBeal.) And some shows not at all, sadly. More often than not, it’s just an excuse for an actor to showcase his-or-her vocal skills. Whatever the reason, bring it on!

5. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- Ashley sings “Respect” to Uncle Phil (who is clearly not respecting her)

Tatiana Ali is no stranger to vocal exercises, having been on Star Search singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” when she was a precious little thing. So it was inevitable that Fresh Prince would make her sing at some point. But, oh, using a karaoke moment to perfectly illustrate her point? That’s just sitcom gold, people. GOLD.

That’s right. It’s in German. This is how I’m watching Fresh Prince clips from now on. Hilarious.

4. Bones– Brennan sings “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” until Booth gets shot, ruining her solo

We all know Zooey Deschanel can sing but who knew sister Emily can bring it too? In the second-to-last episode of Season 3, Booth and Brennan track down a dude who murdered a karaoke singer and Booth ends up adopting the singer’s stalker (whoops). Since the victim was a singer, it’s only natural that the pair would end up discussing the benefits of karaoke, leading Brennan to announce that she has an awesome voice (in her usual, blunt way). No one really believes her (it was her mom who told her she was good) so they set up a little surprise. Except, halfway through the song (that Brennan is enjoying so much that it’s almost cringeworthy) the stalker shows up and shoots Booth. So Brennan, you know, grabs Booth’s gun and shoots the stalker through the throat. “Girls Just Want to Have Excellent Marksman Skills”?

I apologize for the crappiness of the clips but what can you do?

3. The Cosby Show– Happy Anniversary performance

If there’s any video representation of what my family has tried to be like over the years it’s this. (It hasn’t happened yet but we keep trying). It’s all so great. The moves, Theo’s descent down the stairs, little Rudy, Phylicia Rashad cracking up… Classic.

You really need to watch it again. Come on, it’s so good. Skip to 4:05 for the good stuff.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer– Once More With Feeling

Joss Whedon loves musicals too. (Just ask Dr. Horrible) I don’t know what it is about this all-musical episode of Buffy but people reeeeally love it. Like have parties and sing-along love it. THEY DO LIVE PERFORMANCES (see below). The premise is made to tie in with a demon, of course, one that turns little sister Dawn’s world into a musical extravaganza leading to such numbers as “Something to Sing About” and “Where Do We Go From Here.” The singing is awkward but well-meaning but really, before this no show tried to capture what’s so great about musicals- that singing your feelings is a very pretty way of, you know, singing your feelings.

1. The Brady Bunch– The kids sing “Sunshine Day” and dance their way into the Camp Hall of Fame

As usual, the reason for the Brady kids singing on the Pete Sterne Amateur Hour is all Jan’s fault. I forget why but the PLOT of this classic episode is hardly the point. No, the point is awkward singing, the most cheerful song in the history of mankind (it’s really more like a sitcom jingle than a song but I digress), the choreography and what this would all lead to… the genius, short-lived program known as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (which Jan refused to be a part of, thus ruining that too. Thanks a lot, Jan) Don’t you dig the sunshine? Don’t you hear it calling your name?

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by Judi

Show: The Wonder Years

Moment: The end of The Accident- I challenge you not to cry. I CHALLENGE YOU.

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by Beal

It really grinds my gears to know that this movie, Acceptance, which premiered on Lifetime last Saturday, is sitting in my apartment, taking up two hours of recording time on my DVR, while I’m out of town, praying that enough space still remains to record all necessary (let’s face it, they’re all necessary) programs. (I called and strongly suggested that my mother record this program for me, in the event that I could not wait out my entire vacation to view it. I made it five days.)

Suffice it to say, I’ve seen what Lifetime is capable of when it comes to movies. As an adjective “Lifetime” (whence placed before “movie”) is rarely synonymous with “excellent.” Yes, there are exeptions, Prayers for Bobby comes to mind, along with, well, nothing else. So why did I get my hopes up for Acceptance?

acceptance

Two words: JOAN CUSACK! Who stars as the mother of teenage daughter–child star Mae Whitman whom you might recognize from such roles as Ann/Egg in Arrested Development or Bernice from Hope Floats–who is trying to get into college. It is made apparent that she is intelligent, but pretty offbeat, which leads her to apply not to the Ivy Leagues her friends are, but to “Yates” college, whose logo is a a squirrel and an acorn and whose campus is reminiscent of the camp inBadgley+Mischka+Store+Opening+a0wkCOzXts2lThe Parent Trap. Now, due to false advertising (I’m sooo writing a letter) I was under the impression that this was going to be about a quirky girl whose overbearing, yet hilarious, mother tries to force her into an unwanted life path, and the two have to come to terms with each other’s eccentricities.

However, that’s only true if “quirky” means “cutter” or “gets a kick out of stealing shitloads of other people’s mail.” Luckily Cusack had a minor drinking problem, which I wish could have been explored more thoroughly. Other highlights include Paul Young from Desperate Housewives as the absent father/husband and Kiersten Warren aka Alex from Saved by the Bell: The College Years as a mom of a douchy Harvard obsessed kid.

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Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Character: Buffy Summers

Played By: Sarah Michelle Gellar

In a Nutshell: Lord, I’m taking a gargantuan task on here but I realized recently that a lot of our Character Spotlights feature the fun supporting players of our favorite shows. Unfortunately, I forgot that by picking the title character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was going to have to summarize an entire Whedon-mythology here (there’s a whole section in Wikipedia called “Cultural Impact” for God’s sake). Ok, nerd glasses off. I’m going to make this as basic as humanly possible.

Buffy Summers moves with her single mother to Sunnydale. She’s a former cheerleader, her parents are recently divorced and, um, she kind of burned down her old high school so right off the bat, her new principal thinks she’s trouble. Coupled with the fact that she’s inherited the title of Vampire Slayer (which she’ll hold until she dies and another girl takes her place) and that Sunnydale, CA is actually known as the Hellmouth aka Where Evil Things Live, she’s kind of got a lot on her plate. Luckily, she has her loyal friends (Xander, Willow, Oz and Cordelia), a hot vampire boyfriend (Angel- if Buffy aired now, during the Twilight hubbub, it would be massively more popular than it was when it premiered on the WB in 1997), a wise British watcher/guardian (Giles) and lots of baddies to play with. The show provides us with insight into Buffy’s high school and college years over the course of which she dies (not once but twice), kills her boyfriend, runs away and becomes a waitress named Anne, goes to hell (several times I think), goes to college, starts dating a military vampire slayer and then another vampire, loses her mother and does battle with vamps, monsters, mad scientists, demons, giant snakes and lots of other gross things that pop up.

Why We Love Buffy: She’s funny, she’s tough, loyal and vulnerable- she basically struggles with what every teenager struggles with- how do you stay true to yourself and find happiness, when the world, your friends and your family are trying to tell you who you are. We get to watch her turn into a hero (noble, self-sacrificing, brave), which is pretty cool and not bad for a story based on a movie starring Luke Perry.

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