Archive for the ‘My So-Called Life’ Category

Ohhh The CHRISTMAS episode. Will it be heartwarming? Will it remind me of how important family and friends are? Will I learn that expensive presents and lavish parties should take a back seat to helping mankind? Or for once, will I be glad I’m not a fiasco/tragedy/calamity prone TV family whose belief in the spirit of Christmas saves the day, but instead one of those people who spend Christmas in a bar?

5.  The Golden Girls “Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas” December 16, 1989

Why don’t any of the girls’ children/grandchildren visit them on Christmas? For heaven’s sake! If my grandmother frequented the Rusty Anchor, lived in a house with three other old coots in MIAMI I wouldn’t miss a Christmas with her if my life depended on it. However, if their families had come to town, then they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend the holiday serving homeless people Christmas dinner at a soup kitchen, because we all know, nothing strokes the Christmas spirit quite like the homeless (please see: #4 and #2). In a comic twist, though, one of the homeless men lining up for food is Dorothy’s ex-husband (“Hi. It’s me, Stan.”) who recently became homeless when his latest wife kicked him out, I think for cheating. In addition to his marital problems, he’s also gone bust on his latest business deal, which was selling some kind of useless novelty doodad. (So let me get this straight, this man has no place to sleep, not a dime to call his own and no food to speak of, yet he is storing hundreds of these piece of shit tchotchkes somewhere? I say throw them out and SLEEP there.) In the end though, it turns heartwarming, when Stan returns to the soup kitchen, dressed as Santa Claus and hands out his failed novelties as toys for the hobo children.

4. Saved by the Bell “Home for Christmas (Part I & II) December 7 & 14, 1991

Part of me would like to write nothing about this episode (special?) and let your remember it in all its glory all on your own. But I can’t do that. First of all, how does “the gang” continuously find employment in the EXACT same location? For the holiday season, they all get jobs at THE MALL. (The SAME mall where that hidden camera show followed them around the mall all night, whilst they were attempting to obtain U2 tickets). Lo and behold, a new teen enters the scene (exit Kelly as Zack’s love interest). When it appears as if she’s stolen a jacket from the men’s clothing store from whence Kelly works, she disappears. This is when shit gets interesting. So, the gang knows she’s innocent, and clear her name at the clothing store, but she’s still NOWHERE to be found. They all split up to look for her and a few hours later, Zack and his mother run into her at THE CHRISTMAS TREE LOT. This is ridiculous. This is when we find out the she and her father live in their rusty ass hoopty in the parking lot OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE LOT! Good thing this is a two-parter! Imagine what happens next. Yes. You’re right. That is what happens. Wow. I wish this episode(s) wasn’t such a crucial part of my emotional development.

Please note: This episode airs on ABC Family Saturday, December 19 @ 7:00 a.m.

3.  Full House “Our Very First Christmas Show” December 16, 1988

Do you know how hard I laughed the first time I saw this episode? When everyone is waking up after being snowed in on Christmas Eve at some low-rent airport and Danny (or was it Jesse? Joey?) had fallen asleep on the luggage conveyer belt that rotated inside to outside all night long and now he is all covered in SNOW!! I was five and it was the moment I fell in love with sitcoms. THIS IS ABSURD. I am five years old and I am fully aware that this is absolutely ludicrous. I LOVE it. When the Tanner’s head for Colorado (and not-yet-Aunt Becky to Nebraska) for the holidays, they find themselves grounded in some rinky-dink airport terminal on Christmas Eve with about a thousand other people who don’t seem amused by Tanner family antics. Of course Stephanie is all worked up about whether or not Santa will be able to find her (which I think involves a comical scene inside a phone booth) and Joey dresses up like the old jelly belly to appease her. And then I think it alludes to the REAL Santa making an appearance in the airport. I don’t remember, I was too busy refusing to accept the plot line of this program to worry about whether or not Santa Claus was real.

Please note: This episode airs on ABC Family on December 18 @ 3:00 p.m.

2.  My So-Called Life “So-Called Angels” December 22, 1994

Yes, I did Photoshop that Santa hat on Rickie Vasquez. Why? Because without a little bit of Christmas cheer and humor, this episode will RUIN your Christmas. Like I said, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the homeless, but this show takes it to A WHOLE NEW LEVEL! Dear god this episode is tragic. Remember? Rickie had been living with the Chase’s (after being abused and abandoned by his own family) and getting along just great, until he overheard Patty the Bitch questioning Graham about how long Rickie should stay with them. Next thing you know, Rickie makes up a lie and is HOMELESS! DURING CHRISTMAS BREAK! It’s snowing out, oof, and there’s a homeless girl ghost who Angela gives her boots too and she sings and carries around a guitar, and confuses the fuck out of me. Awww, and then Angela runs off, to try and find Rickie. And she gets picked up by the police because she is in the HOMELESS TEEN WAREHOUSE when it got raided. All’s well that ends well though I guess. Patty finds Rickie at church, lighting candles and then I’m not sure what happens next because I’m too busy bawling into my oversized flannel to notice.

1.  A Very Brady Christmas “A Very Brady Christmas” December 18, 1988

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! From, the Brady's and their maid (front and center).

Alright, you got me. This is less of an “episode” and more of a “reunion movie” but well, fuck off, I’m making it my number one choice because I CAN. No other television event is so uselessly etched in my memory as the the time Mike Brady got trapped in a slowly collapsing building that he designed. (Those pesky kids were probably horsing around at his drafting table again!)  Oh and on Christmas! What’s a Brady to do??? Oh how about WE SING HIM OUT OF THIS NEAR FATAL SITUATION!! Oh good. It worked.

Please note: This episode airs on ABC Family Tuesday, December 22 @ 1:00 p.m.

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by Beal


There are very few (if any) holidays that are as inherently zany as Halloween. From the boatloads of candy to the low rent pranks to the costumes (oohh the costumes!), not to mention all the scary stuff, this spooky pagan holiday is ready made screwball entertainment and I for one LOVE IT. Seriously, there’s nothing better than a quality HALLOWEEN-ISODE if you ask me. Sure it’d be fun to cobble together a costume, go out trick-or-treating and engage in neighborly shenanigans, but isn’t it so much more enjoyable to curl up on your couch with a plastic pumpkin full of fun (okay fine, KING) size candy bars and watch your favorite television characters do it for you? Their costumes are so much more elaborate and well-fitting, their top-notch pranks go off without a hitch and their haunted houses seem really fun. That said, if I had my way, EVERY sitcom (and most serialized dramas*) would be REQUIRED to air a Halloween Special ANNUALLY or risk  a hefty fine.

However, most shows don’t take advantage of the intrinsic amusement that IS Halloween. The following are five shows that did, in a memorable fashion, commemorate Halloween with special Halloween-isode:

5.  My So Called Life “Halloween” 1994

halloween my so called lifeInterestingly (or maybe not so much) this is my LEAST favorite episode of this show. Now that’s not to say this episode wasn’t good, because it was, it just always pissed me off when I was really in the mood for some teen angst and flannel and what I got was a bizarre ghost story. If I remember correctly, legend has it that some punk kid in the 1960’s (whose 90’s counterpart is obviously Jordan Catalano) named Nicky Driscoll attempted some prank in the high school gymnasium and fell off the ceiling rafters only to be impaled by a high-heeled shoe on the floor. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this up). The spookiest part? Angela totally finds a library book he once checked out! And for the rest of the episode, sees his ghost around the school. Wait a minute? Was this a very special episode? Was this “The One Where Rayanne Drops LSD in Angela’s Sunny-D?” Because it might as well be. Let’s also not forget that kid sister Danielle dresses up as Angela to go trick-or-treating with cat/rat/slut Sharon, Rayanne and Brian sleep together (literally sleep) in the boiler room at school and Mr. and Mrs. Chase make everyone throw up with their gratuitous, I’ll just leave it at that.

4.  Frasier “Room Full of Heroes” 2001

RoomFullOfHeroes-smallWell, it wouldn’t be a party at the Crane’s if it wasn’t pretentious, uncomfortable and psuedointellectual and a costume party should be no exception, which is why Frasier decides to throw a douchey “dress as your hero” party, that no one wants to attend, as evidenced by the fact that no one but Niles, Martin, Daphne and Roz attended. (Really think about that. Imagine if you threw a PARTY and the only people that came were your brother, your father, your father’s housekeeper and your pathetic co-worker. Time to re-evaluate your life). At any rate, Frasier dresses up like Sigmund Frued because he’s obvious and a tool, Martin dresses as Joe DiMaggio, Niles as Martin (in a blatant attempt to suck up, but, because it’s a sitcom this obviously takes a comedic 180), Daphne as Elton John (what?) and Roz as, wait for it, Wonder Woman. Initially, she pretends that she misunderstood and thought the party was a superhero party, but later we discover that in fact, Roz’s hero is actually Wonder Woman–It must feel awesome to get mocked at a party where you were the only person attending that is not directly related and/or employed by the host.

3.  Family Matters “Dog Day Halloween” 1990

ve4pir.jpgBank robbery hostage situation combined with Halloween? Uh, yes please! I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but for some reason Steve Urkel and Laura Winslow make their way into the bank on the evening of October 31 just as some crooks roll in for a stick up. What business two 9th graders had at the bank of an evening, we’ll never know. The important thing is that Laura is rocking a terrific Tina Turner get up and poor cheese-loving Steve, dressed as Superman, fails to save the day (enter the fattest Chicago P.D. ever Carl Winslow). Oh, and if you thought Laura’s costume was impressive, get a load of Judy’s (Ms. Jackson’s if you’re nasty), which is the most authentic looking child’s Halloween Costume I have ever seen.

2.  Freaks and Geeks “Tricks and Treats” 1999

freaks-tricks-715848Talk about a fun old fashioned Halloween! The Weir’s and their friends really bring it! Mom’s in the kitchen baking festive cookies that all the trick-or-treaters are tossing on her lawn for fear of poison and razor blades. Dad’s bitching about every aspect of the holiday. Lindsay’s ditching her mom and their annual tradition of handing out treats together in corresponding costumes to engage in local mayhem with her friends and little Sam is dressing up in a makeshift robot costume and going trick-or-treating with two other virgins-for-life who’ve dressed as Charlie Chaplin Hitler and the Bionic Woman. Things get tricky when Lindsay inadvertently targets Sam in her Halloween havoc by nailing him with a couple of eggs, RUINING his Halloween night. Oddly, Lindsay felt awful about hitting her little brother and his cohorts with eggs and hustled home to finish handing out treats with her mother in lieu of smashing mailboxes and pumpkins with her friends. Sam [probably] went to his room, removed the silver painted cardboard box from his person and cried like a bitch.

1.  Roseanne “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down” 1991

Deadgar and MortyIt would have been easy to populate this list exclusively with episodes of Roseanne. When it came to the Halloween Special, this sitcom was not fucking around. Along with The Simpsons, the program really cornered the market on spooktacular (Oh, I just had to use that word at some point. HAD TO) specials. In this installment from season 4, the Queen of Halloween lures her stick-up-her-ass neighbor Kathy Bowman into the house so that she will discover Dan’s bloodied body on the kitchen table with his guts hanging out. Rosie cruelly enters the room with a bloodies shirt, wielding a rather large knife, scaring the bejesus out of Kathy, forcing Roseanne to spend the rest of the night stalking Kathy at the Lodge costume party, in order to quell any attempt at revenge. The greatest scene in this episode however, is Dan and Roseanne’s vaudevillian-esque dead ventriloquist show, it “kills” me every time!

“Say isn’t that Jackie over there? I hear she’s a truck driver now!”

“Well that’s a switch, Jackie in the front seat with her feet on the floor.”


*It would be ridiculous for say, Lost or 24 to include a Halloween special in their plot-line, but welcome nonetheless.

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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 Beal

Remember Angela Chase’s kid sister, Danielle from My So-Called Life?


How about Nicky and Alex from Full House?


What do they have in common?  THEY’RE FIRST COUSINS! I mean, I don’t know how I didn’t put two and two together. It was right there in black and white Lisa WILHOIT and Blake/Dylan Tuomy-WILHOIT. Can you even imagine how proud their grandparents must be? They had three grandchildren in prime time, on the same network for an entire year. I bet their mantle was just full of glossy 8×10 and photo “stills” from the “set.” What’s almost more interesting than the fact that these F-list actors are family,  is what they look like now.


She, sort of like a low-rent stripper, who is no stranger to the hollywood “guest star” circuit.


And they, like an inferior set of  Sprouse twins, which is probably the meanest thing I’ve ever said about anyone, ever. And in case you were wondering what they’ve been up to since Full House was axed in 1995, the answer is, NOTHING. They never worked again. Damn you Dylan and Cole! Damn you right to hell!

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by Beal

Janeane Garofalo 220 JPG80I always love to find out that a celebrity is a fan of a television show. I’m not sure why I have always assumed that my favorite celebrities are too busy or too cool to enjoy television, but I guess maybe it’s because I also assume that all celebrities know each other intimately, and how uninteresting it would be to have to watch your next door neighbor engage in zany high jinx with your ex-boyfriend and your sister-in-law instead of actually just hanging out with them and hoping someone gets accidentally locked in a walk in freezer, or becomes the victim of mistaken identity.

Anywaaay, while on my recent My So-Called Life kick, I remembered a bit that  Janeane Garofalo performed in a  stand-up special she did in 1997 in which she made a reference to Jordan Catalano, Angela Chase and Brian Krakow. (Around 2:00)

Then, while perusing the “booklet” that came inside the box set of MSCL I noticed a piece that Garofalo had written about the show, that the creators were kind enough to include. I’m not sure if it’s because of the bit, or because both Janeane Garofalo and MSCL completely embody the early 1990’s for me, but it makes sense and me happy that she was such a fan of the show, and not just mocking it in a routine. I imagine that on Thursday nights in 1994, Janeane turned down the Soundgarden, kicked off her Doc Martins and snuggled down on the couch in her baggiest flannel to enjoy the latest happenings at Liberty High School. Here’s what she had to say about the show:

The Limbic Appeal

I’m not interested in any of those other ‘tween or teen dramadies currently airing on the N, the WB or Fox. No way, Jose. My pen hits this paper in praise of one very special hour of uncharacteristic quality in the form of a network television show. I’m write-talking about My So-Called Life or MSCL for those in the know. (I just used that abridgment for the first time, just now. So don’t feel like a latecomer to “the know.”) So deep and profound is my love for MSCL, I have memorized each episode: I can mute the sound, play all the parts and cry every goddamn time Rayanne does the scen from Our Town or Rickie shows up at Mr. Katimsky’s house, or when Patty and Danielle grace the stage at the Mother-Daughter Fashion Show! Oh yes, we are all beautiful. Claire/Angela. Possibly even me/you. 

139.x600.timein.tuningin.wilsoncEach episode is tucked away in a section of my brain known as the limbic region. The limbic brain is often referred to as the seat of our emtion, neurologically speaking. The limbic filing system is reserved for the things we are most fond or afraid of. In my case: Clive Owen (fond) and gas attack (personal or political) while I’m sleeping (afeared). I bring this limbic business up because I believe there is an emotional and visceral connection between this so-called “teenage” region of the brain and the devotion that fans have for My So Called Life. (I mean the above as a compliment.) The show never once insulted the viewers’ intelligence, and I thank the creators, writers, cast, crew and music director for that.

Claire Danes Embodies a certain early-Nineties Clinton/Nirvana forward-thinking “Riotgrrrl” Pacific Northwest vibe. A vibe that was brutally ravaged by the Rebulican revolution of ’94 and the Media Consolidation Act o ’96, but don’t get me started in on those Washington boneheads. Do let me get finished by allowing me to commend all the lovely people involved with My So-Called Life, as well as all the enchanting creatures at Shout! Factory who have the presence of mind to give this wonderful show another opportunity to enter the limbic brain of a grateful nation.

Janeane Garofalo

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by Beal

Here at Next Time On, we believe that keeping a season/series running on DVD is as important (if not more) than having a book going at all times. You know, something to fall back on when the infomercials (that don’t star Jack LeLanne) begin, or maybe to watch from your bedroom television that doesn’t have cable, or maybe just, because you LOVE a show, and it’s no longer in syndication, and when it is, the episodes are NEVER in the proper order, and they have commercials. Let me pop in a DVD and hit “play all” because without commercials to remind me of how much time has passed, it becomes easy to watch an entire season/series of my favorite programs in less than a week. My most recent conquest was My So Called Life: The Complete Series, a program that was cut down in its prime, but that I was able to enjoy 15 (wait, what? that show is 15 years old? I’m sad.) years later, through the magic of shows on disc.

MSCL was actually one of the first shows available on DVD. Long before there was an entire “television” section at the local Best Buy, and before every show on TV spout out a DVD boxed set the moment after the season finale aired, there was MSCL: The Complete Series, a boxed set featuring all 19 episodes and a bonus features disc. It was originally less affordable than it has become, and for me was made even cheaper when I traded it for a dozen CD’s (which had been ripped to my hard drive) at Second Spin on Wilshire in Santa Monica.

As soon as I delved into episode one, it was over. I watched the entire series in about a week and a half–every angsty second. Now, I watched this show back in the day, and ad nauseum after MTV purchased the rights to air it, but apparently I forgot just how much drama went down, or maybe compacting the drama into 19 hours of one week, instead of 19 hours over a summer vacation made the drama feel that much more constant.

6a00b8ea074bfd1bc000c11413010cc408-320piAngela Chase (Claire Danes) is obviously the normal center of this program and of her two best friends, Rayanne  (A.J. Langer) is an alcoholic drug abuser from a broken home with a penchant for skipping school and Rickie (Wilson Cruz) is a somewhat closeted homosexual, without parents, who lives with abusive relatives who eventually abandon him, causing him to become a homeless teen. Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto), who Angela is in LOVE with, can’t read. He can drive, but he can’t read. 

Things I had forgotten about:


  • Rayanne sets Rickie up with Cory to go to the dance, Cory thought he was meeting Rayanne there. A saddened Rickie steps it up with heartbroken-over-Brian-Krakow, Delia on the dance floor.
  • That Rayanne’s mother came home and SAW her super trashed before leaving on a date with her shady boyfriend, forcing sober Angela and Rickie to call Patty Chase to come to Rayanne’s rescue.
  • Rayanne sleeps with Joran Catalano! And Krakow video tapes it!
  • Sharon’s boyfriend Kyle, jock extraordinaire, who Sharon can only bring herself to have sex with (after they’ve broken up) if she watched a Brad Pitt flick. 
  • That Brian Krakow, as sorry as I WANT to feel for him, is so fucking obnoxious that it truly doesn’t pain me when Angela drives away with Jordan, leaving Krakow alone on the street with his bicycle even though she KNOWS he wrote the love note (for illiterate Jordan).


Things I learned:


  • clue24The role of Angela Chase ALMOST went to Alicia Silverstone (gasp!) but when Claire Danes came in for the audition, “she was Angela.” Still, Danes was a minor, and Silverstone was not, so casting Alicia would have made scheduling much simpler (Claire could only work five hours per day). Still, they went with Danes. — My brain tries to imagine this, and can only come up with a Clueless meets MSCL premise where Angela Chase is both vapid AND angsty, which just makes my head spin.
  • Danes was only 13 when they filmed the pilot, 13.
  • Because Danes working hours were limited writers/creators were forced to create more extensive story lines for “side” characters, which they hadn’t originally planned to do. As a result, we get episodes like the one in which Rayanne OD’s.
  • There was a styrofoam head (where you hang wigs) that had all of the little colored hair clips that Rayanne wore, ever sitting in the makeup trailer.
  • Bess Armstrong (who plays Patty Chase) is the single worst DVD commentator in the world.
  • Devon Odessa (Sharon) taught Claire Danes how to drive in real life.
  • Devon Odessa still has the EXACT same hairstyle that Sharon sported in the early 90’s.
  • Before Wilson Cruz (Rickie) ever auditioned, creator Winnie Holtzman wrote the character as a being half-black, half-hispanic and gay. Cruz was all three.
  • Claire Danes has Thanksgiving dinner at Bess Armstrong’s house.
  • The show died a slow death. The pilot aired a full year and a half after it was shot. The second episode was filmed a YEAR after the pilot was shot. ABC would never order more than a couple episodes at a time. Despite creators/actors disappointment that their show was cancelled, there was also a sense of relief about ultimately stopping its slow demise.
  • Early drafts named Jordan Catalano, Jordan Veniziano, who was left back, twice.
  • From the creator, on what would have happened NEXT TIME ON My So Called Life: “I would have gotten somebody pregnant. Sharon’s the obvious choice. I would have made Angela unable to resist turning to Brian Krakow for advice about her doomed relationship with Jordan Catalano, and I would have s;it Graham and Patty up, so Patty could fall into a deep depression–the kind where you can’t get out of bed–so that Angela is forced to somehow run the household. I would have had Ricki move in with Mr. Katimsky and when Mr. Katimsky is fired for the crime of giving a kid a place to live, I would have forced patty out of her depression to defend him.”

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by Judi

5. Will (Bradley Cooper) as Sydney Bristow’s best friend on Alias

Picture 4Granted, I just finished watching all five seasons of Alias so likely Bradley Cooper’s face is fresh in mind. But still, as best friend choices go, his is a remarkable one- basically because if the mark of a best friend is staying power through the tough times, then Will deserves a friggin’ medal. It’s bad enough your best friend from college is a super bad-ass spy and never told you about it. But then she starts getting you almost killed, tortured to nearly the point of death, scared to death and then her involvement with you kills her other best friend/your girlfriend. Then she “dies” and you get shipped off to witness protection. Except she’s not dead. And even though you’re now forced to live in Wisconsin and work in construction, she still shows up every once in a while to almost get you killed. Again.

In Bradley Cooper’s final appear as Will in the last season of Alias, Sydney makes a big speech about apologizing for ruining his life. Again. Sadly, everyone in Syd’s life has turned out to be worse with her in it- which really, really sucks when you repeatedly sacrifice your own life to, you know, save the fucking world. Will, being the true blue friend that no one is saint-like enough to deserve, tells her that she’s only made his life better, more exciting, and that his love for her has made it all worth it.

4. Shawn (Rider Strong) as Corey’s best friend on Boy Meets World

rs4(Note- Boy Meets World is to me what Full House is to Beal. I won’t apologize for it or withdraw my plea to the network powers that be to put the show back into syndication already). So here’s what I love about Shawn- 1) He’s super white trash- trailer (check). Deadbeat Mom AND Dad (check). Half brother he didn’t know about played by a Lawrence brother (check). Likes flannel (check). 2) The only reason he’s friends with geeky Cory Matthews is because they’ve been friends since the first grade – a point acutely touched on in an early episode when the boys enter the 7th grade and Cory suddenly realizes that Shawn is cool and he’s not. But Shawn sticks with him anyway. He could care less about being cool, which of course makes me even more cool and I would stop using the word “cool” but we’re talking about Boy Meets World here, as well as the better part of the 1990s. So suck it. 3) We get a good level of angst for a sitcom BF (Shawn blows up a mailbox! Shawn gets drunk! Shawn joins a fucking CULT! Shawn’s parents leave him and he has to live with his teacher! Shawn’s dad dies! Shawn hates living in a trailer!) that provides those touching sitcom moments that I could eat up with a SPOON.

3. Rayanne (AJ Langer) as Angela’s best friend on My So-Called Life

Picture 3If you’re going to have a full on teenaged identity crisis, you need a friend like Rayanne- it’s practically in the Angst Handbook, as well it should be.

I think we all know where this friendship would’ve eventually headed had the show not been brutally murdered. After all, despite the fact that she’s a high school party girl dream, Rayanne is slightly unhinged- you just know she would’ve been “that friend” for Angela- that friend in school who used to be your  BFF before her problems sprung out of your control and then she wrote those kind of crazy letters to you and you suddenly realized she was completely bonkers and had to, for the rest of your life, refer to her as “that friend.”

Until that all goes down, however, you have the ultimate catalyst for prime teenage drama. Exactly what a girl like Angela Chase needs to realize her full potential. Exactly what a prime time soap needs to get in its patented overdose storyline.

2. Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendan) as Buffy / Willow’s best friend on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Picture 2

Xander Harris was so instrumental to my idea of what a male best friend should be that when my friend Vic and I moved to LA, we posted an ad on Craigslist with the title “Looking for a Xander,” explaining that what we really needed was a guy who was always there with a shoulder to lean on, quippy jokes, a slightly wimpy demeanor and, oh yes, looked surprisingly hot in a speedo. (What we got was a slightly crazy alcoholic with a boxer- aw, I miss Pablo.)

It was established through the show’s long tenure that while Xander was pretty much the most “useless” one (Willow becoming a powerful witch, along with her girlfriend Tara, werewolf Oz, vampire Angel etc etc), he was also the “heart” of the group. It’s Xander, after all, who’s able to snap Buffy back when she starts acting like a bitch because she accidentally died at the end of the semester and now has a major ‘tude about it. It’s Xander who’s able to stop Willow when she goes psycho witch crazy after evil-doers kill quiet Tara. And it’s Xander who ends up losing an eye in the battle of good versus evil. All key best friend attributes. Hmmm. Maybe I should’ve put all that stuff in the ad.

1. Turk (Donald Faison) as J.D’s best friend on Scrubs

Picture 1 The first TV couple to demonstrate the powerful force of straight man-love, Turk is, let’s face it, pretty much the love of John Dorian’s life. They met in college, went to med school together and lived together for an eternity until Turk man-upped, got married and JD moved out. How close are Turk and JD? Everyone in the hospital, including Turk’s wife, thinks that the boys are super gay for each other- which they are- and the greatest step the show took was to admit that and then have JD and Turk decide that they didn’t care. So, yeah, the guys are close. So close that JD showed up during Turk and Carla’s honeymoon (Turk sneaking off for some buddy time instead of sex with his wife- super gay for each other indeed).

So close that in (what should’ve been) the series finale of the show, JD and Carla have a touching moment where he thanks her for guiding him all these years. And when he asks if there’s anything he can do for her in return, they have the following exchange:

Carla: Tell me my husband loves me more than you.

JD (considering it seriously): It’s about the same.

Carla: I’ll take it.

And yes. We’re totally ending on a sappy note. Whatever, you know you love it too.

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