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Archive for the ‘The Cosby Show’ Category

On a personal note, this is a very difficult topic for me. Not because of the whole “oh, it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m single, everyone has love but me” (said in whiny Ricky Gervais voice) nonsense but because when I was twelve I had a little whiteboard and one day I spent hours devising lists upon lists of my very favorite TV couples. For real. Thank god blogs didn’t exist when I was a pre-teen or I would’ve had to name it “SHAME.”

5. Happy Days (1974 – 1984) Joanie and Chachi

The Soap Opera Effect

This is a legit thing. It’s practically scientific. The reason why your grandmother is obsessed with Days of Our Lives, Young & The Restless, General Hospital etc? Sure, there’s sex and drama and corny moments galore. But there’s also a very real, very visceral reaction to watching someone for years and years, especially when that someone started out as a child. You invest in that person without realizing it, you watch and watch and one day you realize they’ve grown up, right before your eyes. It makes you somewhat emotional, dammit, when they celebrate their Sweet Sixteen, learn to drive, get their hearts broken for the first time, graduate high school… and especially when they, in this case  Joanie “Shortcake” Cunningham, fall in love with the once goofy, gawky cousin of the super cool guy who lives above your parents’ garage. This video proves it. We love Joanie with Chachi mostly because we love Joanie AND Chachi. We watched them grow up, get together, break up, make up, get married. We saw it all, over the course of the show’s ten year run. (Also, it’s Scott Baio for God’s sake. That guy is ’70s, ’80s magic. That part’s not exactly rocket science.)

4. Dawson’s Creek (1998 – 2003) Pacey and Joey

The Perfect Triangle

I just actually watched those clips and want to die a little. What were they thinking when they wrote this show’s dialogue? Why is Pacey calling Joey a “woman”? She is SIXTEEN. I don’t even call myself a woman now, for God’s sake. Anyway. Step aside from Dawson’s obvious shortcomings and focus on the show’s biggest surprise. Clearly, Dawson Leery was supposed to end up with little Joey Potter (tomboy, a modern day Jo March, literally the girl-next-door). The first season literally threw Joey at his feet as she climbed through the window of his room, after a year of angst that only a bunch of 15 year olds can muster. So then what happens? Dawson’s best friend falls in love with her too. And when that best friend (you can hear the call PACEY! over the blogosphere whenever Joshua Jackson makes an appearance in real life) is pretty much the Lloyd Dobbler of Capeside? Poor Cerealbox Head doesn’t stand a chance. 

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003) Buffy and Angel

The Beauty and the Beast

Well, so of COURSE the love of vampire slayer Buffy Summers’ life is a vampire. Of COURSE it is. Years before teenaged girls got sucked into the Twilight rabbit hole, before HBO had even heard of True Blood, sixteen-year-old Buffy developed the hots (it’s a ’90s expression, it works, leave me alone) for a 300 year old vampire with a soul. The show, in its smartest years, used Buffy and Angel’s relationship as a metaphor for the overpowering effect of first love (in maybe the most powerful example, Buffy decides to sleep with her boyfriend, for the first time, on her birthday, not knowing that the Gypsy curse of Angel’s human soul would be removed the moment he experienced a glimpse of pure happiness. So, yeah. Buffy wakes up the next day, all happy and in love… and her boyfriend has turned into a total monster. And you thought only Mormons could provide a subtle hint about the trouble sex can bring. Silly rabbit.)

2. The Office ( 2001 – 2003 / 2005 – Present) Tim and Dawn / Jim and Pam

The Kindred Spirits

Before there was Jim and Pam, there was Tim and Dawn. The settings may be slightly different but the stories started out the same- everyman Tim/Jim fall for their best office-mate, receptionist Dawn/Pam. Trouble is, she’s engaged to someone else. The beauty of how The Office plays what could’ve been a typical office romance is the dynamic between the two couples. Tim (it’s easier to stick with the first and greatest) is the Voice of Reason in this mad, mad world. He’s the one rolling his eyes along with us and wondering if everyone’s taken their crazy pills. S0, naturally he’s drawn toward pretty Dawn. She gets it. She knows everyone’s crazy. They speak the same language and in a world where you often feel like the last sane person on earth, this is crucial. It’s a lifeline. It doesn’t hurt when both of you are cute, funny, snarky and you let us all in on the joke. Of COURSE we’re rooting for you.

(Warning: this video will kill you)

(And the happy ending we needed)

1. The Cosby Show (1984 – 1992) Clair and Cliff Huxtable

The Perfect Couple

The following clip is ABSURD. Someone for Cliff Huxtable other than Clair? Please. TV has never gotten a pair more right than Brooklyn’s favorite Doctor/Lawyer duo. They’re smart, they’re playful, they fit each other like a forbidden hoagie with a bag of potato chips. There was no other way for The Cosby Show to end its eight year run than for Cliff and Clair to dance their way out of the studio. No other way.

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The Wardrobe Department of a television series has an Important Job. After all, “clothes make the man.” In this case, they could very well make the character. The character’s outfits provide us with an immediate impression of the person behind the clothes. Sometimes, that is a very, very, bad, seriously, oh my God, so bad impression. Take Kate Harper from West Wing.

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She’s a former spook who now works for the White House and she is dressed EXACTLY how you would imagine a military chick, constantly surrounded by men and with way more important things to worry about than what she should purchase at Barney’s next week at a sample sale. (Not that those things aren’t important, to each his or her own. But you get my point.)

Her costume person did a perfect job. Does that mean she looks good? Oh, Lord, no. This whole situation is just awful. It actually distracts me while I’m watching her WW reruns. “This situation in China sounds just terrible. MOTHER OF GOD, KATE. SHOULDER PADS?” is a constant refrain in my house.

With that, I give you television’s Top Five Worst Dressers, characters whose personal style is so mind-numbingly awful that it’s actually physically distracting to watch them on the TV lest your eyes burst into flames. Fun!

5. Miranda Hobbes from Sex & the City (Seasons 1 – 3)

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Long before Sex & The City became this kind of massive fashion icon, thanks to Patricia Field’s zaniness and Sarah Jessica Parker’s penchant for drooling over Manolo Blahniks, Miranda Hobbes’ wardrobe kind of made me want to end my own life.

Sure, yes. She just screams New York lawyer. But, unless you’re ready to sue your dry cleaner, that is not a good thing.  Miranda is abrasive, funny and brilliant. She’s also the most awkward of the foursome, at least in the first few seasons. Not only was her string of suits bad (bad BAD. And hair. Hair bad.) but everything fit her oddly, like Patricia Field and SJP were sipping cocktails and laughing over pinning a ginormous flower to her lapel and then Pat would turn to Cynthia Nixon, slouched nervously off to the side of the dressing room, and go, “Oh. Erm. Here.” And toss her a turtleneck that actually succeeded in making her look stumpy, if that’s at all possible.

4. Donna Martin from Beverly Hills 90210

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Jesus. Yes. You’d better cry.

In the beginning, Donna Martin was actually kind of mousy in a Valley sort of way. Which is strange, considering how uber-rich she’s supposed to be. Put it this way- if the high school girls of the new 90210 ran into high school Donna, they would not hang out with her. They might even pull a few Amish/ deranged Blossom/Walk to Remember jokes. Oh, that’s right. They’re not me. I digress.

And then. And THEN. Lord. I imagine the conversation with the producers went like this.

“The flower bonnets aren’t working for us. They just don’t measure up to Kelly’s bicycle shorts and flower print dresses.”

“I hear you.” Executive producer taps finger-tips together. “How about we whore it up?”

“How exactly? She’s a virgin. How do we turn a virgin into a whore? Without, you know, her having sex?”

“Good question.” Executive taps a finger to goateed chin. “Do we have any belly shirts? With suspenders?”

Anyone who thinks of Donna Martin remembers the awkward dress ball gown she wore on Halloween, the floppy hats from the first season and then the horrible, God-awful ’90s nightmare of tight pants, short skirts, an endless collection of teeny baby T-‘s and plunging scoop necks that told us way too much information about her breast implants. And then she’d wear a button-up blouse with suspenders (see tears above) or a denim tuxedo and try to distract us with dying her hair in obnoxiously vibrant colors.

3. Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show (Season 1 & 2)

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Oh, DENISE. A part of me thinks you might be some kind of avante-garde genius. The Rihanna hair, the shoulder pads, the COLORS. Do you know how many times I had to adjust the color settings on my TV when you’d saunter through the Huxtable living room? SO MANY TIMES. The jewelery, the Hammer pants. Some of those jumpers- I just- I didn’t- WHERE DID YOU FIND THEM? I could just stare at the construction for hours. Why isn’t your wardobe something studied on Project Runway? All I want is for Tim Gunn to enter the bathroom while you all are saying good-bye to Rudy’s fish, give you and your neon jumpsuit a once over and say, “Denise. I’m concerned.”

Seriously, someone look at this outfit and send me a diagram or something about how it was made. I have to know.

2. Kimmy Gibler from Full House

kimmy4Sometimes, I watch old episodes of Full House and think, “How did they get away with dressing this fourteen-year-old as an elderly prostitute?” And then I wonder if their sticking Andrea Barber in leggings and bicycle shorts pretty much for her entire childhood hindered her ability to have children as an adult. Or scarred her against wearing, well, anything ever again. Or anything with a pattern anyway. If I were her, I’d stick with solid colors for, oh, the rest of my natural life.

1. Jerri Blank from Strangers With Candy

Poor Jerri Blank. Cursed not only with booze, pills, and being a total loser (her words, not mine), she also destined to be the homeliest person on Earth. Her lipstick-smudged teeth, her Mom haircut, her woeful expressions, her lumpy body and her late ’70s after-school special meets Grandma’s handbag wardrobe… It’s a good thing it all adds up to her being such a hysterically funny icon for forty-six-year-old high school freshmen everywhere.

jerri

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We love babies in this country. Don’t believe me? Just ask Utah. Or, better yet, US Weekly. US Weekly is so in tune with our lust for babies and pregnant women and people with babies and women with babies who lost all the baby weight and baby fashion lines and baby FEUDS (it’s coming, trust me. That Maddox looks like trouble) that little Suri Cruise is practically a cover staple. And though we weren’t always so obsessed with celebrities’ real life spawn (think about it- ten years ago, would the name of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s toddler daughter come rolling so easily off your tongue?), we have ALWAYS had a soft spot for that Very Special Episode- “So and So Gives Birth.”

With that, I give you my Top Five TV Births. Let the contractions begin! And the epidural! Where’s my champagne? Where’s my salami?!*

WARNING: Searching for baby-related TV clips on YouTube is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. Proceed with caution if you don’t want to see a lot of homemade delivery videos (and I am not talking pizza. Mother of GOD)

5. Full House– Rebecca Gives Birth to Twins and the Most Ridiculous Living Situation/Solution Ever

Remember when Aunt Becky was pregnant with twins? And everyone (including me, shut up) was really, really excited? And then they went and were born on Michelle’s birthday (Michelle’s not special anymore. Awesome) And then, instead of MOVING OUT like normal human beings, they move back into the attic of their brother-in-law’s house and force the twins to live in a closet? Good times…

John Stamos, how much longer do you think you can get by on being COMPLETELY adorable?

4. Sex & The City- Miranda Gives Birth to “Oh, right. I have a baby.”

I love the Miranda-Mommy episodes. I can’t think of another show that’s tackled the whole notion of “I hate kids but I guess I’ll love my kid” issue before Miranda gave birth to Brady, her son with quasi-retarded bartender Steve. She’s just so bemused by the whole thing. She thinks baby showers are stupid, she hates being pregnant, she has NO CLUE what she’s supposed to do with a baby. Right up until the delivery, Miranda’s got rules about how it’s going to go down- she doesn’t want the nurses to be all cheery, she wants Steve to suck it up with all the man-crying and she wants it over and done.

Add her water breaking on Carrie’s heels and we’ve got ourselves some TV.

3. Friends– Phoebe Gives Birth to Her Brother’s Triplets

Now, there are some missteps in the Phoebe gives birth to triplets episode (mainly the whole thing with the doctor who’s obsessed with Fonzie although I do like that “dilated-amundo” joke) but I love it. I can’t help it. It’s all so good. Chandler and Monica are hooking up in the closet in secret. Joey and Ross are pushing out a kidney stone (changing forever how I say “KIDNEY STONE” ie with an Indian accent) in a lovely dual-montage with Phoebe’s birth (“Ow. Ow, ow, ow. OW.”) Phoebe tells Rachel that she wants to keep one of the babies (Rachel: “Oh, I’m going to be on the news.”) The fantastic Giovanni Ribisi running out and announcing the birth of his kids, dazedly walking back in as he realizes he now has THREE babies. Him making out with Kitty from That 70’s Show, another actress I would like to be in just about everything.

Sadly lacking in Friends clips on the old YouTube.

2. The Cosby Show– Sandra Gives Birth to (Surprise!) Twins

I will admit to loving it when the Huxtables go all soft and mushy on their kids. It’s rare but it happens. I ALSO love any time we get a “My BA-by!” out of Claire, preferably when she’s throwing her arms up in the air. It’s almost as good as when she gets really, really angry. Almost.

So Sondra finally gives birth, the big surprise being that it’s twins! (Unfortunately naming them “Winnie” and “Nelson”, the today equivalent of naming your twins Barack and Obama which I’m SURE has been done somewhere in America already) Obviously, the nicest part of the episode is her moment with Cliff and, apparently, the little speech she gives him about what a wonderful father he’s been was ad-libbed on Sabrina La Beauf’s part. So unbelievably sweet.

1. I Love Lucy– A Tiny Bongo is Born

Well, now. I have to end this on the biggest television birth in history. I’m a professional, after all. The episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” coincided with Lucille Ball’s C-section of her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr, culminating in the most watched television episode of the day.

And it’s so, so good. Ricky in his show makeup, in the waiting room and, one of my favorite scenes of all time, the “Ricky, it’s time” fiasco. It’s pure screwball, with Fred tripping over the phone, the suitcase spilling open, everyone stepping on each other and Ricky completely losing his cool. All culminating in them running out the door, leaving Lucy to wail, “Hey! Wait for me!”

*Classic line from E! one-season wonder Love is in the Heir. Anyone? Hello?

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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

5. Lindsey Lohan as Alli Fowler on Another World (1996)

I actually remember this, unlike some of the other WONDEROUS selections on this list, because I, along with my mother and grandmother, was somewhat obsessed with the now-defunct NBC soap. When little Lindsey Lohan sashayed onto the big screen for the Disney remake of The Parent Trap, I recognized her immediately. “Little Alli Fowler! You’re going to be such a big star someday, so precious! Yes, you are! Yes. You. Are.” Now, of course, Lindsey is essentially the poster girl for Child Star Gone Horribly Awry and her latest pop culture masterpiece is a TV movie original for, wait for it, The Family Channel. NOT EVEN LIFETIME. Ouch.

I honestly couldn’t sum it up better than this Youtube commentator on yet another LiLo-Another World clip- “Lindsay Lohan was a good young actress those days, now she’s gone to rehab.” It’s like the beginning of a country song. Or a Weird Al version of an Amy Winehouse song. Either way, it works.

4. Adam Sandler as Smitty on The Cosby Show (1987-1988)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the finest actor of our generation. Or, at least, the guy who’s made the most money in our generation. I love Adam Sandler’s appearances as Theo’s buddy on The Cosby Show. I love how wiggly he is. I love the way he works a pair of acid-washed Mom jeans. I love that I can finally watch him in something that doesn’t involve a “hippity ha” type of nonsense speak or over-the-top cartoon rage. And I like being able to watch it and say to myself, “Self, that young actor is probably very poor in that there Hollywood. Living on his friend’s couch, desperately calling his agent, eating peanut butter sandwiches. Poor guy.” Rather than, “Self, that guy just shat out $20 million dollars for talking in a weird voice to a shampoo bottle.”

3. Sarah Jessica Parker as Patty Greene on Square Pegs (1982-1983)

Many, many people dislike SJP these days. They’re harsh about her looks, about her power in the fashion industry, about her surrogate baby mama. Normally, I’d be right there with them except, well, I kind of love her. I’M SORRY, I DO. And it’s not because of Sex and the City (I seriously would be happy to not see another SATC episode for AT LEAST ten years.) It’s because SJP’s film repertoire is the stuff of B-movie heaven. Honeymoon in Vegas? Yes, please. Girls Just Want to Have Fun? I honestly don’t know who I would be without that movie and the possibility of DanceTV ever existing. Miami Rhapsody? Sure. Footloose? BRING IT.

In other words, SJP is basically everything right about the 1980s and nowhere is she more endearing than the short-lived TV show Square Pegs, the ’80s version of Freaks and Geeks and cancelled just as quickly because geeks now rule Hollywood and don’t like to be reminded that they once wore patterned hammer pants to school on purpose. At least, that’s my own personal theory.

(Did you notice Jami Gertz from Still Standing as Muffy? Note- this is in NO WAY an endorsement of the sitcom Still Standing. Don’t. Watch it.)

2. Rob Lowe as Charles Elderberry in the After School Special Schoolboy Father (1980)

I have a somewhat embarrassing confession to make. I have a deep, abiding affection for Rob Lowe and I’m really not sure there’s anything he could do that would alter my feelings for him. Even that thing with the nanny. Short of a complete Michael Jackson meltdown where Rob suddenly decides he wants to look like Demi Moore (see what I did there?), I stand by my statement that I would still run away with him, should the situation arise.

This role is on the list because a) Rob Lowe. b) Feathered hair. c) IT’S AN AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL.

1. Julianne Moore as Sabrina/Frannie Hughes on As the World Turns (1985-1988)

BRIAN FROM WINGS. IN TIGHT PANTS. AMAZING DIALOGUE. “Why are you doing this to US, Frannie?!” Why, INDEED? The only thing that could make this scene remotely better would be if Marisa “Posi-traction”Tomei showed up and spotted future Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore (pre-Nine Months, pre-movie-star-dental work) in a clinch with what has to be the gayest straight man I’ve ever seen on a soap opera. OH, WAIT IT TOTALLY HAPPENS.

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Why NBC, you’ve done it again! I had lost all hope in you when your Thursday night lineup slummed to Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice and ER. It was like, just because Friends and Seinfeld had played out, you didn’t have to give up completely, but you did. I believe it was your shit Thursday that singlehandedly took your network to #4 in the ratings. Up to that point, I had always flipped to NBC when I had nothing in particular to watch during prime time, because your programming was generally better than any other network.

But then, you put Law & Order “spin-offs” [read: exactly the same show with a new tagline] (and what the hell was that one with Bebe Neuwirth?) on every single night, in every single time slot, and I had to let you go. It was a sad era for television, and I, along with the masses, said to hell with network and began obsessions with HBO and cable programming. 

Which brings me to last night. NBC, you’ve won me back!!

You have created a “Must See TV” lineup like no other, and I thank you for it. I submit that it’s better than its last heyday(s)The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Hill Street Blues—Wings, Seinfeld, Frasier, L.A. Law—and later—Friends, Seinfeld, ER.  [Yes, I intentionally didn’t mention the shitty shows that appeared amongst these gems: Boston Common, Mad About You, etc.

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Last night, I laughed OUT LOUD, alone, during each of the situation comedies you featured. Parks & Recreation was as funny as I could have hoped for, which obviously means it’s going to be cancelled, but I say please, please give this one a fair chance. Amy Poehler was the only reason I continued to watch SNL once it turned terrible, so I thank you for putting her in prime time. Her character is hilarious. When she rolled in in the duck taped travel pillow, pretending it was a neck brace from a fall she had endured into a pit, I peed a little. So so funny. And The Office can be totally hit or miss, but it’s funny more often than it’s not, and Michael Scott only forces me to change the channel sometimes. 30 Rock, hilarious, hilarious, hilarious. I won’t say any more. 

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As for Southland, I plan on giving it a fair chance and reporting back. My Name is Earl is a throw away show that’s essentially a bad skit gone on far too long. But that I can accept. Your new lineup with it’s new name COMEDY NIGHT DONE RIGHT, is no longer a lie. You win.

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