Note: The title for today’s Top Five topic was clearly all Beal. I apologize for the bits of cheese that just flew out of your monitor.
5. Courtney Cox in Friends (1994 – 2004) and Cougar Town (2009)
Sometimes, it feels like Courtney Cox has been around FOREVER. That Springsteen video, Family Ties, and then ten years on Friends, the short-lived Dirt on FX and now Cougar Town. I realize that it might be a little immature to count Cougar Town as Cox’s second iconic role but, honestly, I don’t see how we can ignore it. After just four episodes of the ABC’s Wednesday night show, my opinion of Courtney Cox has done a total 180. Not that I didn’t appreciate her character on Friends or anything. Far from it. The statement “she’s a Monica” has saved me on more than one occasion when I find myself trying to describe someone who is completely anal, a control freak and hyper-competitive. I just didn’t know if she could be funny as someone other than the Gellar-Bing we all know and love and sometimes find mildly annoying.
But she is. Jules Cobb, in point of fact, is far funnier and more real than Monica ever was (though both share a manic crazy gene) and Cox is so outrageously perfect in the role that you shouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, we all say, “Monica who?”
4. Rob Lowe in West Wing (1996 – 2006) and Brothers & Sisters (2006 – Present)
This is not the first time on this site where I have to admit that I would watch Rob Lowe do anything (ANYTHING). I don’t care if he’s a dirty tool in real life, I don’t care how many nanny scandals or sex tape disasters he falls into, I don’t care how tanned he gets. I STILL watch that “Visit California” commercial just for those three seconds where he’s sitting on that damned log. I. love him.
I hate when people refer to his “comeback” because, really, his is just a fantastic career trajectory. Teen heartthrob, Brat Pack member, evil doer in now-classic SNL movies like Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy, then a plumb role on West Wing, a few failed pilots and now Brothers & Sisters and movies like The Invention of Lying. And that commercial where he’s sitting on that damned log. He seems to have found his place as a smart, wily, hot politician which is ENDLESSLY preferable to how he could’ve ended up. [Cough- McDreamy- hack- cough.] I’ll take Sam Seaborn and Senator McCallister, thankyouverymuch.
(Ok yes, I only posted this second clip because he’s shirtless. I AM A HUMAN BEING, PEOPLE.)
3. Heather Locklear in Dynasty (1981 – 1989) and Melrose Place (1992 – 1999)
There was a time in the ’90s when, if a TV show was starting to see a drop in ratings, a studio exec would yell, “Get Heather Locklear on the phone!” It’s hilarious that our favorite TV blond bitch has pretty much evolved into the TV equivalent of an emergency adrenaline shot. Melrose Place needs a Joan Collins-like fix? Get Heather. Spin City suffering without Michael J. Fox? Get Heather. Scrubs needs a foil worthy of Perry Cox? You get the picture.
The guys behind the new, revamped Melrose Place obviously agreed because we’re only a couple of episodes into the first season and Amanda Woodward is already making an appearance. Not that I’m sorry about that in the least. Of all the prime-time soap characters throughout the ’90s, Heather Locklear’s Amanda is the only one fierce enough (yup. Fierce. There is no other word, sorry) to look like she actually would eat her own young for a corner office, which makes her endlessly fun to watch.
Her voice is HILARIOUS in Dynasty. Is she 15? You know that for all her posturing, Joan Collins could just destroy her from that reclining position.
2. Danny DeVito in Taxi (1978 – 1983) and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present)
Aw, Danny. Our favorite petite scuzz-ball. On Taxi, he was Louie DePalma- gross, unkempt, lewd and slightly lovable. He secured some classic moments for my favorite cab-centered sitcom. Now, as Frank Reynolds on Sunny, he’s evolved into the kind of creature you find in a shower drain. He’s filthy, his hair’s always standing up and he’s more at home climbing through a disgusting ceiling vent than he is in daylight. God bless him. He looks like he’s having the time of his life too.
With Taxi, he found a classic comedic role. With Sunny, he’s quickly climbing into cult icon status. How many cast members of the movie Twins can you say that about?
1. Mary Tyler Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961 – 1966) and The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977)
And now for something a little different. It isn’t easy jumping from a rat-infested ceiling vent to the Rob and Laura Petrie’s house, but I’m going to do my best.
Of all the classic, black & white sitcoms, The Dick Van Dyke show is by far my favorite. I never get tired of watching it, of Rob’s pratfalls, of Sally and Buddy’s wisecracking in the office and, of course, Mary Tyler Moore’s charming, classy Laura. If I had magical TV powers, I would reach through my TV set and plop Mad Men’s Betty Draper in front of her TV to let her see how Laura Petrie gets it done. It IS, after all, possible to be a stay-at-home wife and still be funny, sexy, and believably cheerful. In her cigarette-pants and Jackie O bob, she’s the Audrey Hepburn of housewives. Even her warbling cry is funny.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, in the ’70s we received spunky, sweet Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, aka TV’s Gift to Mankind, which is still as sharp and funny and adorable as it was thirty years ago. And I’m not just saying that because The Mary Tyler Moore Show pretty much saved me from going insane over my last year of unemployment. Even though it did. It absolutely did. I don’t know where I would be without Mary Tyler Moore but I know I wouldn’t want to find out.