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Archive for December, 2009

NTO is taking a holiday vacay! Between the devastating celebrity deaths, stale sugar cookies, and Beal’s constant inebriation, we are just EXHAUSTED. I, for one, will be gorging myself on episodes of No Reservation, old Mad About You reruns and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (ugh, don’t tell Tony about that last one), too busy with my TiVo remote and leftover holiday treats for any of this “website” nonsense.

Beal and I shall return to regularly-scheduled programming (Character Spotlights! Lists galore! Six Degrees!) in the new year. In the meantime, Happy Watching!

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Brittany Murphy

There have been a lot of half-hearted tributes to Brittany Murphy, who died yesterday at 32 of cardiac arrest (apparently, natural causes which makes me want to go out and buy a treadmill, stat), and it’s time to get something out there once and for all. Everyone seems to be under the impression that Murphy just kind of appeared, out of nowhere, as Tai on Clueless and then moved on to star in other movies that I love that normal people think are absolutely terrible (cough-Just Married-cough).

This is not the case. Devoted TV lovers like myself saw Brittany pop into celluloid 1995 and did a little happy clap. “The girl from The Torkelsons (and a dozen episodes of Sister Sister as a WILD CHILD) is in a MOVIE!” we whispered to our slumber party girlfriends, who rolled their eyes at us and went back to inhaling popcorn, too busy imagining what it would be like to have Alicia Silverstone’s hair to care about a show that lasted approximately ten episodes (actually 13, according to IMDB. And of course, in my memory, this show was on for years so go figure). Even as a child, I was so ahead of my time…

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Six Degrees NTO Style

Craig Ferguson to

Joyce DeWitt

The Challenge: I made the connection from CRAIG FERGUSON to JOYCE DEWITT in three TV degrees. If Judi can do equal or better, she wins 10 points + 5 bonus points IF she can avoid the use of anyone who has patronized the Regal Beagal.

If YOU, the reader, can do better AND post it in the comments before Judi posts her answer to the bottom of this post, YOU get a prize. Seriously, something [less terrifc than Judi would send] will show up on your door step within one calendar year.

The Rules: No online research allowed. ESPECIALLY IMDB!! Come on, it’s a GAME, half the fun is PLAYING not CHEATING. Any and all research conducted at your local library is accepted and encouraged. Connections through television AND movies are accepted, relationships are not. ALSO: As we all know, Craig Ferguson hosts his own late night talk show on CBS, use of this program to form a degree is STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Challenge ACCEPTED: Since I am unaware of Joyce DeWitt’s talents that do not involve my favorite sick-day sitcom of all time, I’m going to have to abandon the bonus points. But at least this will get me back on the board, thank you Baby Jesus in a TV-shaped manger.

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5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

I wonder how many times I’ve seen this. My guess is somewhere around 486 times, despite not having watched it a single time in the past decade, yet, somehow, I’m pretty sure I still know every word. That Dr. Suess! He was a clever one! And those pour little Who’s in Whoville! They’re Christmas was STOLEN right out from under them and they didn’t give a flying fuck, because Christmas is Christmas dammit, and we’ll celebrate whether we have presents, food and decorations or NOT! As a child, the concept was so above my head. It stressed me out endlessly to watch that damn Grinch steal the Christmas out of everyone’s home, like OH NO! NOT THE PRESENTS!! And again, in the end, when we learn that Christmas isn’t about the material blah blah blah, I was only relieved when the Grinch returned their shit. I think I spent the better part of my childhood fearing that some local meth-head would sneak into my home, and steal my Christmas, only I wouldn’t have a whole town of ADORABLE Christmas loving songsters to stand around the town square and belt out Christmas carols with, but rather an angry Sheriff in my living room explaining to my parents that thieves RARELY think better of their actions upon viewing a rousing rendition of a Christmas standard.

4. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (animated) (1974)

My love of this animated Christmas special is about to speak volumes about how culturally void my life was as a child. THIS WAS the ONLY version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas I was even aware of until roughly fourth grade. I remember a teacher reciting the poem (is it a poem or a story?) in elementary school and me thinking, “Wait just a damn minute. What happened to the mice?” I’m still confused. What the hell does one have to do with the other? What IS this story? The narrator/the human (again, confusion) starts out with your classic “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse” and then a mouse enters the scene, admits that he is in fact stirring, and then takes us back in time to the beginning of the broken clock/Santa doesn’t exist/why the fuck does every human have a mouse assistant hairbrained story. That said. I LOVE this animated special.

3.  The Glo Friends Save Christmas (1985)

This is one of those specials whose most memorable viewing was during a bout with the stomach flu (or home made fudge overdose, which I THOUGHT was the flu EVERY year until about 2003) so despite loving it, the mere thought of it also makes me totally nauseous (and curiously nostalgic for a Hello Kitty cup with matching lid and crazy straw). As for the plot. I have no clue what actually happens, but there’s a lady who wears a purple fox as a scarf who somehow prevents Santa Claus from reaching the world of the Glo friends, also known as the Glo WORMS and that crazy looking giant teradactyl glo animal they hang out with.

2. Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)

Is this Christmas special even real? It can’t possibly be. Imagine some shit like this going down today. It’s like the greatest hodge podge of cameos ever created! I mean, when was the last time you saw Joan Rivers, CHARO, Oprah, Whoopi, Annette Funicello, LITTLE RICHARD, Magic Johnson, Zsa Zsa Gabor and K.D. Lang in one place?? I struggle to even comprehend the modern day equivalent!! My favorite part however, is the song by those kitschy olden timey triplets (the Del Rubios)!!!! Nothing says Christmas quite like novelty multiples on ice! I’ve seriously never seen anything so wonderful in my life. Those tiny guitars! Those ridiculous hot-pants! Their mild speech impediments! Those boots! Those hose! The synchronized walking spin moves! And how bout that hairdo! Or the purple eye shadow! Here, get a load of this. . .

1. 24 HOURS of A Christmas Story (1983)

That’s right. I break the rules EVERY week. Oh this is a movie you say? Well, it WAS a movie, but by airing it consecutively for 24 hours in a row, it becomes a Christmas SPECIAL. See the difference? I thought so. Back in the day (I’m talking late 80’s early 90’s) TBS peddled the shit out of this movie. Ingrained in my brain is the part where Santa kicks Ralphie in the head down the slide at the department store, a part that frightened me so much that I never ventured to watch this gem until the sixth grade, at which point I fell in LOVE. When TNT began airing it for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve and lasting halfway through Christmas day, I began tuning my television to channel 27 first during holiday celebrations on Christmas Eve evening at my grandparent’s house, and then in my room until I fell asleep at night. Seriously, I cannot think of a single Christmas Eve since this tradition began that I didn’t fall asleep trying to keep my eyes open just long enough to catch a glimpse of Ralphie in that ridiculous bunny costume. Although my favorite part (which I believe to also be the most underrated/unnoticed part) is when he and Randy are waiting in line to see Santa and that retarded  kid behind them asks if they like the Wizard of Oz. Watch for it next time, after all, you’ll have like 14 chances in less than 24 hours, and with DVR, probably more.

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Sorry about the silence around here. I’m battling a deadly disease (sounds better than “the sniffles”) and Beal’s life, it sounds like from Twitter, is basically unraveling at the seams.

Anyway, here’s a quick Round Up of the TV I’ve caught over the last two weeks and my thoughts because, oh, you are DYING to hear my thoughts.

Glee Fall Finale (Last Wed. 12/9)

Thoughts: First of all, kudos to FOX for brazenly creating a new thing- “the fall finale.” And we all just started saying it like shows freezing for months around the holidays isn’t a completely usual thing anyway. They’re called “reruns because everyone’s out shopping and putting on their winter weight.”

As for the episode itself, I seriously love this show and I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I’ve TiVoed back and watched Rachel belting out “Don’t Rain On My Parade” a dozen times since the show aired last week, the little gay man inside my straight woman’s body was doing cartwheels- CARTWHEELS.

Here’s my one problem- Glee is not the tightest-written show, as I’ve worried over before. They let storylines drop left and right (Artie and Tina- really, there’s nothing residual from that whole thing? And did crazy Terri actually tell Quinn she’s not taking the baby anymore? That seems like a HUGE hole) but this one just kills me. The Glee kids panic because the other teams stole their musical numbers for Sectionals, WHATEVER WILL WE DO? Here’s a thought- how about perform one of the DOZENS of other numbers you rehearsed all season long under the guise of a set-list for the competition. “Keep Holding On?” “Hair/Crazy in Love?” “True Colors?” “Jump?” You had routines and everything. So confused.

Top Chef Finale (Last Wed. 12/9)

Thoughts: Kevin was off his game and by the end of judging, I knew he was sunk. Just a heart-breaking loss for all of us who were a little creeped out by the Voltaggio brothers. I have to say, though, I think Michael deserved the win. His dishes were the best and he’s more innovative than his brother. Also, way to go for the cheap emotional hit by bringing their mother into the equation, Bravo. I could always count on you for the obvious blow.

So I guess we’re stuck with Michael “Blue Steel” Voltaggio. God help us all.

The Sing-Off (All Week on NBC)

Thoughts: My GOD, this show is terrible. TERRIBLE. Nick Lachey, as pleased as I am to see you working, you need to take your beefy hands off the mike you’re strangling and go back to making Vanessa some muffins, or whatever the hell you’ve been up to. The showboating, the jazz hands, the expressive facial movements that make my insides die. Last night, my friend remarked that all she wants is for the dude from the Police Academy to show up as a contestant, making all those sound effect noises and putting everyone to shame. That would be amazing. At least make him a judge next to Ben Folds and the King & Queen of Irrelevance. Judi says no.

“The Situation” and Snookie on The Tonight Show (Tues. 12/15 on NBC)

Thoughts: Snookie (of the now infamous Jersey Shore- like we needed yet another example of how MTV has turned from the cool older brother who lives in the attic and still has a sweet record collection to a $2 whore trying to get her five year old into beauty pageants so she could take her boyfriend Carl on that trip to Tijuana) admits she only likes guys who use STEROIDS. The Situation gives our Co-Co the best nickname ever (“The SOLUTION.” COME ON) And Italian-Americans everywhere, including myself, try frantically to remind everyone of the days when people only thought we were murderers and tax-evaders. So, yeah, awesome TV. Watch the clips here.

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The Six Degrees Challenge: I’m not going to lie. I am out for BLOOD. And I need to even the scorecard here. If Beal can get

from Jack McBrayer

to David Boreanaz

in 2 TV degrees or less, she will be awarded 10 points. And if she can make the 2 degrees WITHOUT using McBrayer’s current series regular role on a popular NBC comedy (I said I was out for blood, dammit) or film, she gets a bonus 5 points. And, as always, if you, the reader, can beat Beal to the punch and do it in 2 degrees or less, without using McBrayer’s current series regular role on a popular NBC comedy, you will be awarded an AMAZING prize. (It’s seriously amazing, I’m SO proud of it.)

The Rules: No IMDB, no Google searching, no Interwebbing of any kind. It’s all stored away in the Vault of Useless Knowledge. Connections through television AND movies are accepted (unless stated in the challenge regarding points awarded) but personal relationships are not. I do not care if Kimora Lee Simmons banged both David Boreanaz AND Jack McBrayer, it does not count as a degree. (Note: She did not, as far as I know, though if she did, I’m pretty sure I would’ve watched that reality show of hers.)

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That’s right- “Christmas.” Not “season”, not “holiday.” “CHRISTMAS.” We’re such bad-asses.

5. The OC– “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” (2003)

I was completely, wholeheartedly into the first season of The OC (did that show last more than a year? No? Didn’t think so). I’m pretty sure that, had you asked me to in 2003, I wouldn’t have hesitated to take someone down for a chance to just be NEAR Seth Cohen (Adam Brody, who has since disappeared. An apology for that Meg Ryan movie nobody saw?). And the whole notion of “Chrismukkah”, a result of the Cohen family being half-Jewish, is Seth at his greatest. From the Santa-yarmulkes (not sacriligious at all) to his demand for “8 days of presents, followed by one day of MANY presents” and that the whole family, now including his adopted-troublemaker brother Ryan, all be together to celebrate, it’s all so adorable that you just want to vomit dradles and jingle bells all over the place.

And, to top it all off, a tension-filled holiday party, squishy family moments and a lot of awkward swaying to Stevie Wonder. It really is the “Best Chrismukkah Party Ever.” Or it would be if Kristen was completely smashed on vodka.

4. Bones– “Santa in the Slush” (2007)

Ah, the good old days when Bones FOLLOWED THROUGH ON ITS PROMISES.

We were, you might remember, led to believe that Bones and Booth would kiss in the ’07 holiday episode and we got our wish. A Christmas miracle, indeed. And, yes, ok, it was because Bones owed Carolyn a favor for swinging a little visitation party with her dad who was in prison for murder and, because Carolyn was feeling impish, she decided Bones could repay her by laying a kiss on her FBI partner. Whatever, we’ll take it. The whole exchange is just sweet and awkward and weird enough to be believable and the chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz (they should open a perfume store or something) good enough to make it a truly squeal-worthy moment. Plus, the rest of the episode is AWESOME. They find a dead santa whose real name is actually Kris Kringle, he lives above a toy store, he was the best store santa in history and both scenes where the duo question a department store locker room FILLED with crappy Santas (And Carl Winslow too!) are hilarious. Add Bones’ extremely cool ex-con dad (played by Ryan O’Neil before he accidentally hit on his own daughter) and an appearance from her brother Russ “Mumford” Brennan and even little moppet-headed Parker and, it really is, the most wonderful time of the year. (Yes, I plan on ending EVERY entry with that.)

3. The Simpsons– “Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire” (1989)

Even reading the description of this “Christmas Special” made my cold little heart bloom with joy. Remember how GOOD The Simpsons used to be?  Bart asks for a tattoo and starts to get “Mother” on his arm but gets caught by Marge and is left with “Moth.” They then have to spend their Christmas money getting it lasered off (he should’ve kept it. I mean, if little Pete could keep Petunia…), Homer doesn’t get his bonus, Barney is a drunk santa at the mall, they go to the track and blow $13 on a little dog named Santa’s Little Helper (who comes in dead last) but the pup follows them home. Yay, puppies and Christmas!

Where would The Simpsons be without Santa’s Little Helper? And where would be without old episodes of The Simpsons? I shudder to think…

2. The Office– “Christmas Party” (2005)

Michael Scott with the Dreaded Oven Mitt

Season 2’s Christmas episode at good old Dundler Mifflin was highlighted by the office’s Secret Santa exchange. Michael picks Ryan the Temp, for whom he has a serious man-crush on, and completely overshoots the dollar limit to buy him an iPod but then gets insulted by HIS gift, a homemade oven mitt from poor Phyllis who has the best sad-sack face in the universe, and quickly decides to turn the Secret Santa into a Yankee Swap instead. Just so he can get a not-so-crappy gift. This is all fine, except for Jim who is panicking. In one of the sweetest examples of Jim’s still-unspoken love for receptionist Pam, he picked her name out of the hat and got her an adorable tea pot filled with adorable notes just for her. The party just goes downhill from there so Michael, in a desperate attempt to pick things up, renegs on the office’s no-alcohol policy and gets everyone wasted. Which means drunk Meredith. Which means happy Judi.

Michael Scott: [checking out at a liquor store] Hey, you’re the expert; Is this enough to get twenty people plastered?
Clerk: [Seriously considers] Fifteen bottles of vodka?… Yeah, that should do it.

1. West Wing– “Noel” (2000)

Beal has her “episode that will make you cry uncontrollably” and this one is mine. It’s Christmas at the White House and months after the shooting in Rosalyn. Yo Yo Ma is set to play for the President and all seems jolly and bright. Except Josh is a mess and he doesn’t know why. He cut his hand and doesn’t remember how, he breaks out into a sweat during the concert and he’s biting people’s heads off left and right. A visit with a White House appointed shrink, played memorably by Chicago Hope‘s Adam Arkin, and a few really brutal scenes later, Josh is shaken to discover that he’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and while everyone is enjoying the holidays, he’s been reliving that time he almost died and, now, has to face the fact that he’s suffering from its aftermath and could very well lose his job (thanks a lot WHITE SUPREMACISTS. God). Until he gets a pep talk from Leo. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch a bunch of old clips of John Spencer and cry softly into my lunch.

BONUS: This didn’t make the list but did you know there’s a Beverly Hills 90210 Christmas episode called “It’s a Totally Happening Life”? Best. Title. Ever. I almost choked on my salad when I read it (and when I say “salad”, I mean “chocolate croissant.” Don’t judge me.)


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