Countdown to Christmas (Part 4 of 4)

 

Happy Holidays! Here is the final addition to my countdown to Christmas. Between moving over the weekend, and being super busy at work, I haven’t gotten to celebrate the season as I normally do. No tree or Christmas cookie making for me this year. So instead, I decided to take a look back at some of my favorite holiday-themed TV and movies. We’ve come to the end, and I’ve saved the best for last: Here are the creme de creme, my favorite of the favorites.

From Love Actually: I actually love (see what I did there?) this whole movie, and if I could I would post the whole thing here. But…you people have lives. So instead here is the famous airport scene. Makes me cry every time.

From The Office: They’ve done a lot of Christmas-themed episodes, but for me, nothing can top season three’s “A Benihana Christmas”. This is The Office at its finest. Michael is heartbroken, but not over the top annoying about it, just enough to still be funny. Jim tries (and fails) to be more serious at work. And of course, the dueling Christmas parties. What’s better than that? My personal favorite part of the show is where everyone does karaoke, but that cannot be found on the Internets. So instead, here’s a music video someone made summarizing the episode.

“Are we taking this too far? You know what, I don’t think we’re taking this far enough.”
“I just got chills.”
Awesome. Totally awesome.

From Scrooge: This musical version of the classic Dickens tale doesn’t get its due. Sure, not everyone likes musicals. But Albert Finney’s performance alone should garner some attention. If you haven’t seen this film, and you like musicals, check it out. You won’t be disappointed. And you just might cry. I know I do. For example…

From Frasier: They also did a handful of Christmas episodes, but season six’s “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskawitz” is my favorite by a mile. I’ve talked about it at length on this blog before, but man. Seeing Niles as Jesus will never not make me laugh. Plus the end has duel pay offs both with Mrs. Moskawitz finding Niles and the Christmas tree in the bathroom, and Frasier and Martin attempting to air their grievances.

Oh, man. Always, always funny.

From When Harry Met Sally: Technically this is New Year’s Eve, but the season is right. I think you have to be made of stone not to love this scene. This also umm…never fails to make me cry. (Do you see a pattern here?)

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Does it get any more romantic?

From The West Wing: Sorkin puts on a good Christmas show. We know this. I enjoy season four’s “Noel” quite a bit, but season one’s “In Excelsis Deo” remains my favorite West Wing episode to date. (But stay tuned; I haven’t finished the series yet). The part that really gets me is when poor Mrs. Landingham talks about missing her boys. But since that’s not online, here is the next best thing.

“Toby? I’d like to come” is almost as good.

And finally (drumroll please)…

From It’s A Wonderful Life: No man is a failure who has friends.

And that’s it! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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Countdown to Christmas (Part 3 of ?): “All I need is a healthy ovum and I could grow my own Leonard Nimoy!”

Happy holidays! Here comes part 3 of my Christmas countdown. December is super busy for me this year, and there is no time to decorate or make cookies. So I’ve been trying to get into the holiday spirit by remembering some of my favorite holiday films and TV shows.

Here are a few funny TV holiday moments.

From The Big Bang Theory: An obvious choice. Actually, most of my choices for this post seem kinda obvious. But that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Seriously though, I think this episode became a Christmas classic the moment it aired. It’s also the episode that made me love the show. (Note that I didn’t start watching the show until season 2. Otherwise I would have fallen in love when Sheldon dressed as the Doppler Effect for Penny’s Halloween party in season 1.)

From Friends: They actually had quite a few fun Christmas episodes. I particularly like the one  from season 2 where Phoebe attempts to find her real father, and Monica and Rachel’s Christmas party turns into a sauna when the radiator breaks. However, nothing tops the Holiday Armadillo. He’s your part Jewish friend! Ross often gets overlooked, but that dude got into some wacky situations. Getting stuck in a pair of leather pants, over-whitening his teeth, a spray-tan mishap, attempting to play the bagpipes…all that and he dresses up in a ridiculous costume for his son. Props to David Schwimmer. He’s a very funny guy.

From Frasier: They also did several Christmas episodes, and all of them are pretty great. I’ve got a couple written down, but instead of the obvious one (and if you are a regular reader of this blog you probably know which episode I’m talking about) we’ll go with the final season’s High Holidays. All you need to know is that Niles thinks he is high, and Martin actually IS high.

And finally, from A Colbert Christmas:

On behalf of all the goyim, and until next time, happy holidays!

Countdown to Christmas (Part 1 of ?)

This is a sort of weird Christmas for me. I’m moving exactly one week beforehand, so no Christmas decorations or tree for me this year. Thus it has been kind of hard to get into the holiday spirit.

But you know what helps? Remembering some of my favorite Christmas moments in TV and film. I’ve done versions of this before, and there are bound to be repeats. But hey, it’s Christmas, the season of forgiveness. Right? Besides, classic holiday moments are meant to be watched over and over.

So, here is one of my favorites, from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Remember that show? It had problems. Lord, did it have problems. But if there is one thing Aaron Sorkin can do, it’s a fucking Christmas show. And so Studio 60‘s one season brought us The Christmas Show. Remember, the show aired in the 2006-07 season, and back then, Hurricane Katrina was fresh in everyone’s minds. And Sorkin, being Sorkin, got a bit political. That didn’t work a lot in Studio 60, but it worked here.

First of all, what a fucking performance and arrangement. Second, seeing “All I want or Christmas is my city back” will never not make me tear up. And third, when the show first aired, you could download the song off iTunes or somewhere on the Internet, and the proceeds would go to a New Orleans jazz fund. So it was really a win-win-win situation.

For anyone who cares, I *did* download the song back in 2006, and the beautiful arrangement holds a spot on my Holiday Cheer mix.

And also…I am very tempted to go on a rant about how much potential Studio 60 had, and how it was all squandered by ego and trying to make TV seem as important as the White House (see: the conversation between Steven Weber and Ed Asner at the start of the clip), but…it’s the holiday season. And it was 4 years ago. So…let’s just enjoy the pretty music, shall we?

What are some of your favorite TV or movie holiday moments?

Turkey day favorites

Apartment hunting-turned townhouse hunting and work have kept me from updating lately. And, if I am being honest, what would possibly top my epic New York post? How do you move on from that? I don’t know.

However, it is Thanksgiving week, and I would be remiss if I didn’t use this space to share some of my favorite Tday clips, as I do every year. Last year was focused on Friends; this year is a hodgepodge.

Cheers epic food fight:

Lorelai and Rory prepare for four Thanksgiving dinners

Rory’s “yeah” at the end cracks me up every time.

Cliff Huxtable treks back and forth to the store

Dexter (aka Kyle Butler) has Thanksgiving with the Mitchell family. 

Creepy as fuck but so good. Three words for you: “Shut up, c*nt.”

And finally, my favorite, President Bartlett calls the Butterball hotline:

“We should do that once a week.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mad Men and more! (But mostly Mad Men.)

It’s been busy ’round these parts lately. Everyone I know had a baby. Well, okay, only two people, but two of the closest people in my life. Hence the lack of blogging.

That doesn’t mean I have been ignoring my pop culture duties. That would never happen. So here are some things I’ve been digging lately.

Mad Men
A few years back, I tuned into a new show called Mad Men, lauded by critics and TV watchers alike. Watched it for about 10 minutes, realized I wasn’t paying attention, turned it off, and didn’t watch another episode until this month. Guys, I don’t know what I was thinking. This show…is SO GOOD. Over the weekend, a friend asked me how it was, and my response was one simple word: “Delectable.” That it is, and not just for Jon Hamm. (Though, lets face it…) Everything, from the cinematography, the clothes, the writing, the acting, the music (THE MUSIC, YOU GUYS. SO PERFECT)…it’s all amazing, and all a feast for the senses. It’s so good that, instead of doing my usual marathon watch, I am limiting myself to one or two at a time. (And trust me, for me, that IS limiting.) So far, I am about 2/3 of the way through season 2, and there hasn’t been one sub-par episode. Also, a word on January Jones: I have not seen her now famous SNL hosting disaster last year. Don’t want to. But in terms of dramatic acting chops? Gal has it. She has Betty Draper DOWN. Do I like her character? Not really, but damn if she doesn’t do a fine job portraying the unhappy housewife.

Also, Jon Hamm is really, really hot. Unlike a lot of hot actors today, he actually has the chops to back it up.

It’s hard to pick a favorite moment (just last night I watched Colin Hanks play guitar; this certainly goes on the list) and, like always I cannot pick just one, so here are a couple of mine from season 1. (Note: All the Mad Men clips disable embedding, so you’ll have to click over to YouTube. It’s worh it, I promise.)

Don’t fuck with Betty Draper, or her kids:

Pete shares his hunting fantasy with Peggy. (How awesome is Peggy, y’all? I love watching her grow professionally.)

Don’s carousel pitch:

Resonates on so many levels, y’all. Also, it’s no secret I am a sucker for nostalgia.

After pitching the carousel, Don thinks twice. (This ties with Matt Saracen driving out of Dillon on Friday Night Lights for best use of a song on TV)

(After this song started playing, I actually said out loud – to an empty room – “Oh, this is PERFECT!” That never happens.)

So yeah, umm, watch Mad Men. Not since Gilmore Girls has a show transported me so fully into another world.

Other things:

* Wednesday night comedies are back! Yay for Modern Family and Cougar Town.
* Sometime over the summer, I started watching Community. Somewhere in the run, I fell in love. Actually wait, I can tell you exactly when I started to love the show. When this happened:

* A few years back, I read what remains to be my favorite book ever, I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. I recently read his follow-up book, The Hour I First Believed. While it takes place in the same town, and features some of the same characters, it really doesn’t hold a candle to I Know This Much…  It’s still good, but Mr. Lamb gets a bit too caught up in his own drama for me. Kind of disappointing, because She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True are both masterpieces.

* Is anyone going to the Stewart/Colbert rallies? I kind of really want to. Is it just me?

* Another podcast has been added to my regular rotation: Radio Lab. It took me awhile to get into it, because they have an unconventional style that takes getting used to. But, they do some pretty amazing stories, and actually make science interesting a good part of the time. My favorites so far include War of the Worlds, Detective Stories, and Diagnosis. (Two of which actually aren’t that science-y. Go figure.)

But seriously, guys, go watch Mad Men. That’s really the point of this post.

“I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase.”

While I was out, amongst other things, I finished The Wire.

What to say? I don’t even know. To everyone who told me (repeatedly) it was the best show ever: You were (mostly) right. I don’t know that it is my FAVORITE show of all time, but it’s definitely the BEST show I’ve seen. Everything is top-notch, from the writing, acting, cinematography, use of location, etc. Everything is carefully and perfectly constructed. There are no mistakes. Not a word is wasted.

Now that I finished it, I want to go back and watch again. This is a show that needs repeat viewings. Although I watched carefully, I’m sure there’s still a ton of stuff I missed. Also, I could listen to that dialogue all day long. It’s brilliant.

As you can see, I have nothing intelligent to say about the show. I’m still processing. However, those looking for intelligent discussion and breakdowns should read Sepinwall’s excellent recaps. I supplemented my viewing with these, and found it helped a lot. Look on the sidebar for The Wire seasons. He even divided his recaps into two separate categories: “newbies” and “veterans.”

What else? Favorites? Sure.  (Spoilers ahead, proceed with caution.)

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