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Archive for the ‘West Wing’ Category

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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by Judi

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)

Picture 1Sometimes, 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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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by Judi

Oh, CALAMITY. I will admit to being one of those faithful viewers who gets all the giddy at the prospect of a Very Special Episode, especially when that Very Special Episode involves words like “murder, shooting, stabbing, rape and betrayal.” You know, the kinds of cheery topics that just scream sitcom. If we’re lucky, the best life-threatening predicaments bring on an emotional outburst or two, maybe a touching montage or a series of emotional flashbacks. In other words, they bring about things that I eat up with a spoon. Oh yeah, and they are also unusually superior episodes, rife with actual tension and set the plot in a new, very exciting direction.

I had a hard time narrowing down my choices for this list. Other top contenders included Lost (Michael shoots Libby and Ana Lucia), Arrested Development (Buster’s “coma”), House (pretty much every season finale- they really like putting their cast in mortal peril), and Roseanne (Dan’s heart attack). And now, the juicy little episodes that made the final cut.

5. Golden Girls– Rose’s heart attack in “Home Again, Rose (1 & 2)” (1992)

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Center a hit sitcom around a group of feisty old broads and you just know that one of them will, eventually, have a heart attack or some kind of major health crisis. Had it been acerbic Sophia (who suffered a heart attack in the first season, before our love truly had time to develop), eye-rolling Dorothy or lusty Branche, it would’ve been devastating for sure- but soft-hearted, mush-brained Rose? Oh, man. Nothing gets you more ferklempt than when that group of feisty old broads tear up and admit their fears of losing their sweet, much-mocked friend. Add a little tension with Rose’s bitchy daughter who disapproves of how her mother has chosen to live out her golden years and the fact that they can’t even get in to to see Rose because they aren’t “family” and, and- I’m sorry, there’s something in my eye. Talk amongst yourselves.

Watch clip

4. Beverly Hills 90210– Donna almost gets raped in”Love Hurts” (1995)

jennie-garth-shannon-doherty-tori-spelling-beverly-hills-90210

As soon as I hit 90210 on the show list, I had to pause. Because, really, there are just SO MANY life-threatening predicaments to choose from. And sure, I could’ve gone with Victim Supreme (that would be Kelly “Never Saw a Soap Tragedy She Didn’t Like” Taylor) or maybe Andrea cooing over her premie baby in the hospital or Brenda talking down a lighter-holding Emily Valentine but I have to admit that Donna’s near-rape is possibly my favorite. It could have something to do with Tori Spelling’s bleached bob phase, the ultra-’90s outfit of baby-T with suspenders combo, but the kicker is that David saves her with a baseball bat, all because Donna tells “Dave” that everything’s all right and there’s not really a knife-wielding rapist in her bedroom. David kicks in the door, Donna’s sacred treasure is spared to turn down abusive Ray Pruitt a few more times, and all across America, girls call their friends to let them know what their “A rapist is in my room” code-word will be. (In case you’re wondering, Beal and I have already talked about it and she knows that if I call her “Melissa”, it’s time to break down the door).

In other news, I am SHOCKED that this clip isn’t on Youtube. Shocked and dismayed that while all the 90210 fans are busy setting fan videos of Donna and David clips to old Sarah Mclachlan songs, no one has put the “Dave” clip up for my viewing pleasure. Inexcusable.

3. West Wing– Josh is shot in “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part 1” (2000)

West Wing could’ve gone the usual route with their assassination-attempt episodes at the start of the show’s second season- God knows the situation is emotional enough already. The president has been shot but Josh has been shot too, just a pure knife to the heart right there. I could watch that scene of First Lady Rizzo comforting his assistant Donna and still be satisfied but then they throw in all these flashbacks about how Bartlett’s team was assembled during the campaign. We get to see Toby recruit CJ, Donna basically worm her way into working for Josh just by pretending he’d already hired her, and, the best, Josh going to recruit Sam at his fancy schmancy law firm after Bartett wins him over with an off-the-cuff town hall speech that proves he’s “the real deal.”

2. ER– Carter and Lucy get stabbed in “All in the Family” (2000)

My relationship with ER was pretty rocky when hot Luca replaced hot Clooney on the world’s longest running medical drama but even I had to tune in for this one- the scenario is simple enough- Carter and Lucy (Becca!) are stabbed and lay bleeding to death in a dark exam room while, outside, everyone parties down, completely oblivious. When Carrie Weaver finds them and ushers them into the ER, you can practically feel the usual adrenaline rush get kicked up a few notches as the nurses and doctors work frantically to save their friends. They save Carter but lose Lucy, whose death scene is heartbreaking as she tells Elizabeth Corday not to be sad or guilty that they couldn’t save her. But I think my favorite shot would have to be the one of Benton, Carter’s long-suffering mentor, barreling down the stairs and pushing past people after he’s heard the news.  Awe-some.

1. Friday Night Lights– Jason is paralyzed in “Pilot” (2006)

Friday Night Lights starts off with a bang, no-holds barred, when quarterback superstar Jason Street goes for a tackle with his head down and ends up on a stretcher. In Texas, as the show and the Billy Bob Thorton-movie it was based on tell us, high school football is king. So, yeah, losing your star player, an All-American, to a life in a wheelchair is pretty much the biggest tragedy you can think of. And of course, this is just where Friday Night Lights is getting started. Suddenly, Dillon, Texas has a fallen hero, an underdog coach, a devastated town and a second-string quarterback who’s never been on the field. And I find myself in love with a show about football even though I could care less about football.

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by Judi

I mean, Mary Louise Parker is in it. C’mon. Something for everybody.

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by Judi

Picture 1Show: The West Wing

Character: CJ Cregg

Actor: Allison Janney

Actor Not To Be Missed In: Let’s put it this way. Allison Janney should be in EVERYTHING. But if you’re looking for specifics, try Drop Dead Gorgeous, where she gets to play white trash to the nines, decked out in skin-tight leopard print and a teased ‘do, flirting with hunky bartenders at the “hotel by the airport”, cheering on her best friend’s daughter after a devastating fire hot-glues a beer can to poor Ellen Barkin’s hand, chain-smoking and otherwise being awesome on a full-time basis.

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Basically: Claudia Jean Cregg is the White House Press Secretary for President Bartlett and it’s hard to picture anyone else in the job. Sharp-tongued, poised and cool under fire, CJ is remarkably adept at managing to charm the members of the White House press corp (eventually marrying that adorable guy from thirtysomething) while keeping them at bay. She can also hang with the boys, whose affection and respect for her is unending.

Why CJ Rocks: CJ is basically the kind of woman you wish you could be. She doesn’t apologize for her brains or her ambition and the fact that she’s still single isn’t an issue because she doesn’t make it an issue. Which isn’t to say she won’t hook up with hot Secret Service protector (Mark Harmon), assigned to protect her and oh, so much more.

Favorite Moment:

Lord, there are so many. CJ sings ‘The Jackal’, for instance, is a classic for its plain weirdness but also the dorky reverence everyone has for it is just adorable (side note: IMDB tells me that lip-synching ‘The Jackal’ is actually Allison Janney’s own party trick and Sorkin wrote it into the show which makes me love Janney even more). I also thoroughly enjoyed the Thanksgiving episode when the boys put the “to-be-pardoned” turkeys in her office, leaving them to wander around and poop over all of her things. And there’s the classic “Cheese Day” when a team of bizarre animal activists politely request a $900 million dollar budget to build a “wolf-only” highway throughout the Western United States. To this day, CJ’s burst of laughter at that still rings in my ears.

But this one takes the cake. In one of my favorite West Wing episodes of all time, the show flashbacks to when current President Bartlett’s team came together during his first election. Here, Toby goes to recruit CJ and apparently, he picked the right time as she’s living in LA and was just fired from her high-paying PR job working for a slimy, hot-shot movie producer.

And, I mean, she made Toby laugh. I think it’s the only time in West Wing‘s seven season run, frankly, and it was so worth it.

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040908_sneakers

Donal Logue is in “Sneakers”? Ben Kingsley is in “Sneakers”? Dharma Finklestein Montgomery’s real-life husband is in “Sneakers”? Danny from the “West Wing” and the world’s worst brother-in-law from “Field of Dreams”? The First Lady from “Independence Day” who thinks the stripper is a ballet dancer? This one chick who was in, um, EVERYTHING (including every show in the early ’90s and “Malibu Shores”, oh my God) and seriously needs to be honored with some kind of lifetime achievement award by now. Yes, you-

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News flash. Everyone who had a SAG card in 1992 is in “Sneakers”. It’s like a character actor BONANZA in my house right now. I’ve never had to refer to IMDB so many times in a one-hour period in my life.

Also, in an unrelated note, it’s kind of hard to watch a movie about spy geniuses when they’re stumped by how to get past a key-card access lock. I’m just saying. Michael Westen is laughing his ass off right now.

– Judi

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