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.

K-E-L-L-Y: The best musical moments on TV

Lists, lists, we got yer lists here!

I don’t know why I am constantly making up pointless lists about TV in my head. That’s just me.  And yes, I’ve done it again. After the Glee album was released a few weeks ago, I started thinking about my favorite Glee moments, which led to thinking about my favorite TV musical moments. That led to me making a list of said favorites, which brings us here.

Before I begin, a few things: First, I’ve not seen every show out there. These are just some of my favorite moments. I know, for instance, that Ally McBeal was chock-full of musical performances. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it. Ditto for the first four seasons of American Idol. Second, by musical moments, I do not mean montages. I mean characters actually singing, or music being used effectively in a scene. (But there are a few exceptions for truly outstanding montages that could not be ignored.) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a musical montage. But the list is long enough already; if I included every musical montage I loved, I’d be writing this entry forever.

Ready? Okay, here we go, in no particular order. Continue reading

Emmy Nominations: The Good, The Bad and The Snubbed

Well, folks, the 2009 Emmy nominations came out yesterday, and as usual, there’s the expected (30 Rock), the unexpected (Jim Parsons!), the ridiculously snubbed (FNL, and though I’ve never seen it, Battlestar) and the mercifully snubbed (suck it, Piven!)

Believe it or not, I’m mostly ok with this list. There are some egregious snubs, which I’ll get to in a sec, but there’s also some unexpected delights.

The bad:

– It is ludicrous that Connie Britton didn’t get an nomination – and after switching over to supporting actress, even! I know that FNL is an off-the-beaten-path kind of show that shoots in Texas and not in Hollywood, and it’s probably off the radar for a lot of voters. But after seeing episode 4 of this season, in which Tami and Eric debate buying a new house, I don’t know how she could possibly have been left off the list. (This clip is, maddeningly, not available online, so here’s another great scene from this season.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

– Also oddly snubbed? Amy Ryan for outstanding guest actress on The Office. I’ll give them the Tina Fey SNL nom, but Christine Baranski and Jennifer Aniston over Amy Ryan? I love them all, but Ryan was the clear pick, here. Anyone who can make Michael Scott a human being with feelings deserves some acclaim.

– While I love Rainn Wilson, I would have rather seen The Office nomination go to John Krasinski. Or better yet, skip The Office all together and give it to Jason Segal for HIMYM. If you must include Rainn Wilson, fine, but what’s up with Kevin Dillon? Granted, I haven’t watched Entourage in years, but from everything I’ve read, the show is a distant memory of its former self. While we’re on HIMYM, no love for Cobie Smulders or Alyson Hannigan? Really?

– I kind of can’t believe the Beau Bridges nomination. It was a nice episode (yes, I watch Desperate Housewives. Shut up.) but not Emmy-worthy. Ditto with Steve Martin. If it’s protocol to honor guest stars from 30 Rock, why not give a shout out to Dean Winters, who plays the always  hilarious “Beeper King” Dennis Duffy? All together now, “Sub-way He-ro!”

– I have no real gripes about the drama nominations, mostly because I don’t watch many of the nominated shows. However, I was definitely bummed the supporting cast of Dexter didn’t get any recognition. Sure, Michael C. Hall is the best part of the show, but it has an extraordinary supporting cast. Were I in charge, I would have recognized Julie Benz as Rita and Lauren Velez as Lt. Laguerta.

The good:
– NPH! And no Piven to upset! This is his year, right? RIGHT?

– Jim Parsons! I only discovered The Big Bang Theory this year, but Sheldon is by far my favorite character. Dude makes the show.

Dr. Horrible! Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. They made up some new category, and I don’t fully understand the title (“Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs”….what?) but I’m thrilled the little Internet TV Sensation That Could is getting some major recognition. That’s good for Joss, for the Internet, AND for all the filmmakers out there who are trying to make it without studio backing.

HIMYM for best comedy! Even if it doesn’t win (and we all know it’ll go to 30 Rock) I’m glad it’s being recognized, because it truly is outstanding.

– All the Grey Gardens nominations. They were inevitable, but still, SO deserved. I don’t know how the academy will pick between Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Hopefully, if they can’t decide, both ladies will take home a statue, instead of canceling each other out. I tried to find some clips for those who didn’t catch the film, but nothing really gave it justice. It’s out on DVD now; go rent it. If you get through the ending without crying buckets, you’re as soulless as Dexter Morgan.

My picks for the major nominations.

Big Love
Mad Men
Dexter, all the way. Granted, I don’t watch the other shows, so I am biased. But Dexter has been captivating from episode 1. Any show that can turn a killer’s confession into a marriage proposal (see below) is top notch in my book.

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Again, I’m going with Dexter, though I realize Michael C. Hall probably won’t win. I’ve heard great things about all these guys. But it takes a lot of skill to turn a serial killer into a lovable, even funny, character, while still being scary as hell. And Hall gets extra props this year for dealing treading the line between “family man” and “psychopath.” (Though he is at his most fun when he returns to his crazy killing roots.)

Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
I don’t watch any of these shows, and have no opinion.

Rose Byrne, Damages
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Cherry Jones, 24
Ditto – though I did just see Cherry Jones on a theater panel, where she was wonderful. But again, I don’t watch these shows.

Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two And A Half Men
Well, duh. NPH! I tried to find some of his best stuff from season 4, but HIMYM is also noticeably absent from YouTube. However, I think this pretty much says it all:

William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Hurt, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
Again, no opinion.

Family Guy
Flight Of The Conchords

How I Met Your Mother
The Office
30 Rock
This is a tough one. The Office saw a resurgence this year with the Michael Scott Paper Company plot line and Amy Ryan. 30 Rock is always amazing, and lest we forget, they had a Mamma Mia this year! However, I’m going to go with HIMYM, because it’s been deserving of a nomination since season 1, and 30 Rock and The Office have had their days in the sun.

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Jemaine Clement, Flight Of The Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two And A Half Men
I love Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell. But I’m going with Jim Parsons, because, as I said before, he makes the show. But really, I’d be happy if any of those 3 men won. Just as long as it’s not Tony Shaloub or Charlie Sheen.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures Of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Show
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States Of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Sorry haters, I’ve gotta go with Tina Fey. I hear MLP is amazing, I love Toni Collette, and Christina Applegate was hilarious as Rachel’s sister on Friends. But Tina Fey makes me laugh week after week. Also, what single gal my age doesn’t want to be Liz Lemon, just a little? In celebration of awkward, nerdy girls everywhere, here’s the best of Liz Lemon, as stated by…some person on YouTube with lots of time.

Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

I have no real favorite here, but it’d be nice to see Kristin Chenoweth win for Pushing Daisies. I liked the show a lot – not as much as some fans, but a lot. However, for me it wasn’t Ned and Chuck. I was all about Olive Snook. (And also, the idea of Olive and Ned. Shh. Tell no one.)

The only thing I’ll say about the reality categories is I hope American Idol wins. Just because…look at the impact it has every year. I love Project Runway as much as the next person, (and would be thrilled if it won) but I think AI deserves some Emmy love.

And in terms of Variety or Talk Show…I am torn between Colbert and Stewart. Jon Stewart had Hall and Oats. But Colbert had Cookie Monster. Decisions, decisions.

So what are your thoughts? Did I get anything wrong? Are there any shows I don’t watch that I should? (Besides Mad Men. I already know. Oh, and Lost, because the reality is, I’m never going to watch that show. Sorry, Internet.)

For a full list of nominations, including best title sequence (do they still have those), best cinematography for a single camera show, and best lackey, go here.

The Anti-Valentine Post: TV Break ups

The thing about Valentine’s Day is…I hate it. I’m not against romance, flowers, and chocolates per se. In fact, I downright enjoy them.  (Well, maybe not flowers. I have issues with taking their fate too seriously.) But I don’t want it thrown in my face, even if it is only for one day out of the year. Ugh. Just, ugh.

Despite my personal feelings, Valentine’s Day seems to be trucking along this year, and with it, the inevitable Vday blogs. To that end, I present my anti-Valentine list. Because as much as I enjoy romance, I also enjoy heartache. (Not in my actual life, of course, but on my TV screen.) C’mon admit it: You like the angst and the drama that goes along with a well-done fictional break up. It might hurt, but, as the song says, it hurts SO GOOD.

There’s no real science going on here; my requirements were the following:
Must haves:
1.) The couple has had a significant relationship.
Optional additions:
1.) Angst, angst hitting you in the face, so much angst you almost can’t take it.
2.) Humor. It happens, sometimes, within a good break up.
3.) It’s not so much heartbreaking as it is, HELL YEAH! YOU GO GIRL (or guy)!

In ranking order, here are my 10 favorite TV break ups:

10.) Michael/Jan – The Office (Their most recent, season 5.)  
I was a huge supporter of Michael and Jan back in the day. I thought Jan was a misunderstood character, I thought that, while dysfunctional, the two were good for each other: His flakiness balanced out her rigidness. He was there for her when she got fired; she was there for him when he was broke. But by season 5, I was tired of Jan. Having a baby from a sperm donor, because “this one had to count?” Manipulating him into believing he was going to be a part of baby Astrid’s life? Flat-out telling him not to date other women, while treating him like dirt? Sorry, Jan Levinson. You are now dead to me.
Which is why it was SO satisfying to see Michael finally stand up to her, defy her orders, and go for it with one Ms. Holly Flax earlier this season. You go, Mike!
Vodpod videos no longer available.

9.) Nate/Brenda – Six Feet Under
In the history of TV relationships, has one ever been as tumultuous as Nate and Brenda? You hate them, you love them, they’re great together, they’re terrible together, they make up, they implode… It was stressful enough watching it on screen; I can’t imagine ever being in a relationship like this one. Still though, they had something, as dysfunctional as it was.  After everything, including a sketchy first meeting, the death of a parent, Nate’s unexpected fatherhood from another woman, an impending wedding, and Brenda’s increasing sexual trysts, things finally blow up. I watched this season knowing they were going to break up, waiting for it to happen, watching the tension build and build throughout the season…and the payoff was nothing short of awesome.

8.) Willow/Oz – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
One of the best things about Joss Whedon’s relationships is one tends to love them all. I love Xander and Cordy just as much as Xander and Anya. Watching Buffy and Angel together is heartbreaking, but so is watching Buffy with Spike. Heck, even Buffy and Riley had some tender moments. (Lest we forget: “You’re a little peculiar.”) To that end, I loved loved loved Willow and Tara. What a beautiful romance, right? If I had to pick one person for Willow to be with for the rest of her life, it would be Tara. (You know, if Josswasn’t EVIL in that way.) Even so, I also loved Willow and Oz, because that was such an important relationship for Willow. The reason almost all of Whedon’s relationships work is because they represent a certain period of a character’s life. Oz was the right person for Willow in high school – she was just discovering herself, what she was capable of, and Oz was there to support her in that adorable non-verbal way of his. And, like most high school relationships, things started to fall apart once the couple moved on to college.
Isn’t that what relationships are really about? You try people on, and they fit for awhile; you outgrow them and move on to someone new until you find that one person who fits permanently. Whedon said of his Buffy characters, “No relationship gets more than two years.” Considering the time frame of the show, (sophomore year of high school through senior year of college) I think that’s about right. Those are the crucial years where we learn and change. Relationships come and go, and even when they don’t stick, that doesn’t mean they disappear or lose all their merit. The transition from Oz to Tara is the epitome of this life lesson. That’s what makes Willow and Oz’s final scene so beautiful. Man…now I really want to go watch some Buffy.
(Please ignore the crappy video and subtitles as much as you can – this was the only version I could find.)

7.) Barney/Ted – How I Met Your Mother
You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Remember the heartache that Barney suffered last year when Ted ended their friendship? It took two car accidents on the same day to bring these BFFs back together. I’m a big fan of this bromance, and when Ted told Barney he didn’t want to be friends anymore, my heart broke a little. A lesson to everyone out there: Don’t sleep with your best friend’s ex. It’s just never a good idea.

6.) Charlotte/Trey – Sex and the City
Oh, Char and Trey…they were doomed from the start and yet I couldn’t help but care. First with the “alrighty” proposal, then with the pre-nup, then the impotence, and Trey’s horrible mother, and the separation, and then when everything seemed to finally be on track, Charlotte finds out she’s reproductively challenged. (And not to make light of a terrible condition, but that phrase does make me giggle a bit whenever I hear it. So politically correct!)
So y’all know the story right? They find out they can’t have kids, Charlotte wants to adopt, Trey and Bunny decidedly do not. Charlotte starts fertility treatments that play havoc on her hormones, Trey convinces Charlotte not to have kids, they start sleeping in separate bedrooms, Trey buys Charlotte a hideous cardboard baby, their marriage collapses.  I love this relationship, and not just because Trey says things like, “I’m sorry Charlotte. May I offer you a hanky?” when they are finally able to have relations. I love it because of what their relationship does to Charlotte. It changes her entire outlook on life. As Michael Patrick King said, “She finally got her fairytale wedding, and it went horribly wrong.” What a delicious story! Charlotte was never my favorite of the gals, but this plot line made me love her. It made her human. She was no longer the annoying princess waiting for her prince charming. She was damaged. She was interesting.
My favorite part of the episode comes at the end, when Trey shows up for the Home and Garden shoot. It’s a great metaphor for their whole relationship: Pretty on the outside, disaster on the inside. Trey’s earnest declaration and Carrie’s voice over kill me every time (I actually am tearing up thinking about it.)
**So I don’t have a clip of the scene I want, but I do have part of the episode here. The clip runs from 11:33 to 13:17.**
Vodpod videos no longer available.

5.) Buffy/Angel – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the first time, season 2)
Oh, the eternal debate in the Jossverse: Angel or Spike? It’s unsolvable, really: Neither side will ever reach an agreement, and those of us who simply can’t make up our minds never will. They’re both wonderful. Is Spike a wee bit hotter without a shirt on? Of course. But, then, there’s Angel. An never-ending, unfulfilled love. They can never really be together, and that is why they have to be together. (Of course, then there’s the whole Angel/Cordy debate, which you shouldn’t really get me started on because I might never shut up. Quick answer: I’m for it.)
But forget about all that. Forget about Angel leaving town, Spike becoming lovestruck for Buffy, forget Cordy and Angel’s adorableness, all of it. Just go back to season two, when Angel and Buffy were all the rage, and remember how good it felt to feel so bad for Buffy. Girl never gets a break.
The actual break up of Buffy and Angel is questionable. Did they ever really break up? Did they ever stop loving each other? In my head, no and no. However, the aftermath of it all, after Angel turns evil, after the big fight, at the end of the day, it’s this scene that sticks with me. It’s this scene that makes me cry. From Giles’ speech to Buffy refusing to blow out her birthday candles, it’s heartbreak all the way. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is Buffy’s conversation with her mother:
“What did you do for your birthday? Did you have fun?”
“I got older.”
“Go on,  make a wish?”
“I’ll just let it burn.”
Stab me through the heart with a stake-  I’m done.
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4.) Carrie/Aiden – Sex and the City (the first time, season 3)
The thing about Carrie and Aiden is, they were never going to work. Carrie’s attachment to Big is too deep, and Aiden is too insecure to overlook it. (Not that he should; I’m just saying, guy’s insecure.) Then there’s my whole theory about how Aiden was too good for Carrie, but that’s a different post for a different day. (Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Carrie. She’s my second favorite character from my favorite show of all time… Please don’t throw garbage at me.)
My first thought was to put their second break up on the list. It’s all dramatic, with the fountain, and the yelling, and then the quiet yet powerful ending: “The next day, Aiden moved out.” Fade to black, credits. It’s a punch in the gut, every time. As a viewer, you wish they could make it, even though you know it’s not meant to be. (The remedy to the post-Aiden blues? Watch this episode. As I said to my parents (through our collective tears) when after we watched it, “See. (sniff, sniff) That’s why she can’t be with Aiden.”
So there’s that. But there’s also the break up from season 3 – after Carrie tells Aiden she’s been sleeping with Big. While it doesn’t have the sucker punch of season 4, it’s just…well, it’s just so sad. Here are two people, who really do care about each other, trying to make something work and failing. Plus there’s the sad music, and afterwards, the brave face Carrie puts on for Charlotte. As Michael Patrick King said in his commentary for this episode, “No matter what’s going on in their own lives, the girls are always there for each other.”  Now that’s love.

3.) Luke/Lorelai – Gilmore Girls (the second time, season 6)
I can’t even talk about this one. The only reason it’s on here is because it HURT so much when it happened, and not the good kind of hurt. It broke my heart and made me sad all summer, and then things just got worse in the next season and…yeah. I have to stop talking about it.
I’ll just say that, I’ve only seen this episode once, and hadn’t seen this scene since it aired until I went looking for it on Youtube. Even so, the sound of Lorelai’s voice telling Luke she picks the wallpaper over him has remained in my head for almost three years. It’s just. So. Heartbreaking. Damn you, Amy Sherman Palladino! Why? WHY? If you’re going to break  a couple up, take your cue from the masters above. (See:  Whedon, Joss and King, Michael Patrick.)

2.) Sam/Diane – Cheers (the first time, season 2)
Talk about a sucker punch. It’s one of the greatest scenes in all of television, and one only tends to remember the funny parts: The slapping, the nose pulling, the line “This is it. We’ve sunk as low as human beings can sink.” It’s hilarious, until it isn’t, and that’s how they get you. Also, simply as a piece of TV history, it’s incredible. An almost 10 minute scene between two people, with that much intensity? Can you imagine if a show attempted this today?  (I wish one would, actually. I miss those scenes.)

and, drum-roll please…my number one TV break up:

1.) Ross and Rachel – Friends (the first time, season 3)
Could it be any other way? This episode is, IMO, one of the best of the series, and perhaps one of the best in all of television. Everything works, from the Ross/Rachel banter (“A mistake? What were you trying to put it in, her purse?”),  to the hilarious scenario of the rest of the gang getting stuck in Monica’s room (“Do you think I need a new walk?”), to the intensity played by all the cast when the inevitable happens. Half of the show is basically a mini-play, and it never gets old. It also never gets any less sad, even though we all know Ross and Rachel get together in the end.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the whole thing, but here’s the crux of the piece.

So…depressed yet? Ready to toss Valentine’s Day out the door? Or are you forever a Charlotte, always believing in love?