Why everyone should watch Trophy Wife

BRADLEY WHITFORDHappy holidays! it’s a busy time here at Retrowatching HQ. Season three of Mary Tyler Moore probably won’t begin until next week. In the meantime, please enjoy this scene from my  favorite new comedy Trophy Wife. (Favorite most weeks, anyway, depending on how funny Brooklyn 99 is. Thanksgiving week went to Brooklyn 99. Christmas goes to Trophy Wife.) I can’t stop watching it. Everything and everyone is perfect. I legitimately laughed out loud – emphasis on LOUD – and hard, the first time I watched. And again on subsequent watches. And just a few minutes ago when I embedded the clip.

Some context: New wife Kate invites her husband’s two ex-wives over for Christmas eve and things get out of control when her mulled wine somehow gets spiked with absinthe.

BTW, if you’re not watching Trophy Wife, you are missing out. See above for further evidence. And then go watch any scene featuring brothers Warren and Bert. Seriously though, please watch this show. I love it and would like to continue watching. ABC, Tuesday nights 9:30 (8:30 central).

Ball is in your court, Brooklyn 99.

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“You look like a cheerleader for the school of nursing.”

Season two highlights

Some season two highlights

Happy Thanksgiving, Retrowatchers! I hope you all had a lovely holiday. This year, I am thankful for my renewed interest in writing and blogging, Netflix’s massive DVD library (and  Hulu, when the DVDs arrived damaged), all of you who read Retrowatching, and of course, for Mary, Ted, Rhoda, Lou, and Phyllis*, James Burrows, Allan Burns, Treva Silverman, Martin Cohen, Steven Pritzker, and everyone else associated with the great Mary Tyler Moore.

*Ok, fine, in the spirit of the holidays, I can be thankful for Murray, too.

We’ve arrived at the end of season two. It’s been a long journey, and not necessarily as easy as season one, but I’d say overall it was a good season. We learned a little more about the kind of man Lou is in “The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch.” Bess Lindstrom became a real character, had some wonderful scenes with Mary, held her own with Lou, and reminded us that Phyllis always means well. Rhoda continued to be her awesome self (with one exception, to be discussed shortly). Ted remained Ted, as he should, but we learned a bit about his upbringing and his insecurities in “Cover Boy”, “And Now, Sitting in for Ted Baxter”, and “Ted Over Heels.” And Mary continued to be a pushover just on the brink of annoyance, and a Golden Person.

818989380cloris-leachmanPerhaps most surprising of all (at least to me), is that Phyllis got several chances to shine, particularly in the last third of the season. You may recall  Phyllis was a character I took issue with almost immediately. One of the strengths of season two is the reassessment of her character. She’s still the Phyllis we first met – selfish, generally irresponsible, out of touch, and overcompensating – but she’s also more. Despite her unconventional ways, she is a good mother with her daughter’s best interest at heart. She’s also a good friend – not only to Mary, but I would argue also to Rhoda. (See: Their shared excitement for Mary’s big date in “The Five-Minute Dress” and her genuine looking out for Rhoda’s career in “The Square-Shaped Room”). Phyllis was used frequently in season two, and consequently, she HAD to become more than just the nosy and slightly annoying downstairs neighbor. I’m not going so far as to say that she is among my favorites, but she’s come a long way. I can see the beginnings of the character development that eventually lead to a spinoff.

So how does season two go out? Let’s find out. This week, we discuss episodes 21-24, including:
Episode 21: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Rhoda
Episode 22: You Certainly Are a Big Boy
Episode 23: Some of My Best Friends are Rhoda
Episode 24: His Two Right Arms Continue reading

“I’ll send my bill to your accountant. Is he still going to Wilson High?”

Murray and MarieHello Retrowatchers! I hope some of you are still with me. I won’t bore you with the details for my absence, because that’s a pet peeve of mine on blogs, but let’s just say real life got in the way of my evening TV-studying time. Despite the lapse, I remain committed to this project.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive back into MTM season 2, shall we? This week, we discuss episodes 17-20, including:
Episode 17: The Slaughter Affair
Episode 18: Baby Sit-Com
Episode 19: More Than Neighbors
Episode 20: The Care and Feeding of Parents

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“She really picks up a party, doesn’t she?”

We've arrived at the heart of the show

Welcome to week two of retrowatching Mary Tyler Moore! This week: Season 1, Disc 2, which includes episodes 8-16.

And with that, a programming note: Going forward, I will only be reviewing four episodes at a time. This is still in the experimental stage and lesson learned: eight is too many!

Before I get started, some people of note that I forgot to mention in the last blog:
– The show was co-created by James L. Brooks. He’s had just a little bit of success in television, creating such shows as Taxi and the Simpsons, as well as the MTM spinoffs Rhoda and Lou Grant. He was also a producer on The Tracy Ullman Show, and wrote and directed one of my favorite movies of all time, As Good As It Gets. The list goes on – a producer on another of my favorites, Say Anything, director of Broadcast News... guy has just a smidgen of talent.
– Many of these first episodes were directed by Jay Sandrich. That named seemed really familiar – turns out he went on to direct 100 episodes of The Cosby Show –  including this one and this one. As I’ve seen every episode of The Cosby Show at least three times, it’s no wonder his name was so familiar.
– Another name that stuck out to me: Lorenzo Music as a credited writer for several of the early episodes. It mostly stuck out as a fantastic name, but turns out this guy was ubiquitous in show business. Not only was he the voice of Garfield, he also played Peter Venkman in The Real Ghost Busters, a Saturday morning cartoon I remember well. Music had a steady career in voice over acting, played Carl the Doorman in Rhoda, wrote for the Smothers Brothers and Bob Newhart, and even composed the theme song to the Bob Newhart Show. What an interesting and varied career.

And now, onto the show!

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“That is so unfair. You know I can’t fly.”

A few weeks ago, LeVar Burton appeared on Community. Earlier on in the episode, it is established that Troy, ex-football player and current sophomore at Greendale Community College, loves LeVar. “I’d like to be bequeathed a drum kit or a signed photo of actor LeVar Burton,” he says. He tells the camera his third wish would be for a million more wishes, “But I’d just use them all on a million signed photos of actor LeVar Burton.”

After Pierce survives a drug overdose, he decides to give each member of the study group a gift (his way of fucking with them). He gives Annie a tiara, Britta a check to give to the charity of her choosing, and tells Jeff he’s found his long-lost father. But the best gift (for the viewer, anyway) is the one he gives to Troy: He gets LeVar Burton to show up at the hospital and talk to Troy. But the result isn’t exactly what LeVar was expecting:

Community has done a lot of great things thus far into its run. Paintball. Apollo 13. Zombies. Spot on Don Draper impressions. But this is by far my favorite. I was laughing for days after seeing this. And yes, it’s funny (Donald Glover is hilarious as a shell-shocked Troy), but I think the reason this resonated with me so much is because I totally get where Troy is coming from. There are several childhood/adolescent influences/idols I would never, EVER want to meet, no matter how much I still love them:
– Bono (obviously)
– Lauren Graham (no way do I want to wreck my love for Lorelai Gilmore)
– James Marsters (Fun fact: I actually DID meet him, sort of, at a convention back in college, and while I didn’t end up crying in the bathroom humming the theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I DID pretty much freak out. Ask my friend. He was there. He will tell you.)
– Dean Cain and/or Teri Hatcher

The last one requires an explanation, and is the topic of the rest of this post.

Young people reading this blog are probably asking themselves, “Who the hell is Dean Cain? And why is she afraid to meet Susan from Desperate Housewives?” Oh, youth. Y’all have no idea. Continue reading