Consider this my breakup letter to the FOX Television Network. I know I've said it before, but this is really the last straw. Every time I give them my heart, they throw it on the ground and stomp on it. They did it with Firefly, one of the most brilliant shows of its decade, which FOX basically sabotaged by airing the episodes out of order and then relegating it to the Friday night graveyard where shows go to die. (Seriously, the Friday Night Death Slot is a real thing. If you don't believe me, it's on Wikipedia.) They did it with Dollhouse, Firefly's less-brilliant-but-equally-groundbreaking cousin. (Both were brainchildren of TV god Joss Whedon, who also created Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) Dollhouse also languished in the dreaded Friday night slot. And now that FOX has announced their midseason schedule, they've thrust yet another dagger into my still-bruised heart. Starting in January, FOX will move Fringe, my favorite drama on network television (for these purposes, we're not counting The CW as a real network, because let's face it, it's not) to Friday nights on death row. Considering Fringe's pedigree (it's a J.J. Abrams creation...you know, the guy who brought you Lost and Alias) and the fact that this season (its third) has been arguably the best yet, makes me wonder how it's possible that this show could be struggling. Twenty million viewers will tune in to watch has-beens and celebutantes make fools of themselves on Dancing with the Stars, or watch Charlie Sheen play himself on Two and a Half Men, but a genuinely well-written, well-acted drama series that occasionally involves giant worms can't stay afloat on Thursday nights? Then again, history has certainly shown that quality is not necessarily an indicator of success when it comes to television. If that was the case, shows like Veronica Mars, Pushing Daisies, and Arrested Development would still be on the air. Here's hoping that Fringe has the resilience to survive where few shows have survived before: the Friday night death slot.
What a week it's been. Most shows are working their way up to May sweeps, and turning up the quality dial as we get closer to finale time. Let's recap the best and worst in (important) television this week. *WARNING: GIANT SPOILERS AHEAD*
Best Fight Scene While Handcuffed To Your Significant Other: Chuck and Sarah on Chuck - Not only are Chuck and Sarah the most adorable new couple on TV, they kick ass, even when they're handcuffed together. They're turning Chuck into a modern-day version of The Avengers and it's pretty much awesome.
Double Guest Star Performance of the Week: Mike O'Malley on Glee and Parenthood - The former Yes, Dear star managed to appear on two shows this week, AND he was awesome in both of them, playing Kurt's dad on Glee and Lauren Graham's awkward-poetry-reading former flame on Parenthood. Here's hoping we see more of him on both shows.
Best Rock Duo: Booth and Bones on Bones - As much as my mother might disagree, you really can't go wrong with Foreigner, and this was evidenced by Booth and Bones' reprisal of their performance of "Hot Blooded" this week when the two visited a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp for a case.
Best Interpretive Dance Duo: Jules and Grayson on Cougar Town - Their well-choreographed dance to Enya's "Sail Away" involved cowboy hats and lots of wine. I'm sorry, but this show just cracks me up. Cowboy hats and Enya! Who thinks of this stuff?!
Soundtrack of the Week: Cougar Town - This week's top-notch episode featured the aforementioned midnight Enya dance party, as well as one of my personal favorites, "Something Beautiful" by Needtobreathe.
Best Father/Son Casting: Fred Willard as Ty Burrell's father on Modern Family - Sorry, Ty Burrell, but you are clearly adopted, because there is no way you are anyone but Fred Willard's son. The only thing more alike than their faces is their awkward and chipper senses of humor.
Best Cameo by an Exotic Animal: Argus the peacock on 30 Rock - Jack's mentor/father figure Don Geiss was reincarnated into a peacock, who had surprisingly strong chemistry with Liz Lemon. The only thing that could make this funnier was Kenneth's bird impressions and extensive knowledge of peafowl.
Runner-Up: Troy and Abed's goat on Community - Okay, so a goat isn't exactly what you would call "exotic," but it at least gets points for wearing a saddle/sweater-like article of clothing. Plus, it's a goat in a library.
Best Drag: Will Forte on 30 Rock - Nothing could have prepared me for the image of the Will Forte dressed as Jenna (Jane Krakowski), playing a Jenna impersonator and Jenna's new boyfriend (of course).
Big Reveal of the Week: Brotherly Love/Hate on The Vampire Diaries - We finally learned why Damon and Stefan don't get along in their afterlives! And, of course, the brood-justifying backstory of the brothers and how they became vampires only made Damon even more adorably wounded and likable. *Swoon*
Biggest Disappointment of the Week: The Office - As much as it kills me to say it, this week's episode might have been the least funny Office ever. Of course, I still maintain this show is one of the greatest comedies of all time, I'm just saying, everyone has to have a low point, and maybe this is it for them.
Best Imitation of Lost: FlashForward - Considering the majority of its (less than ample) viewers only watch the show because it's been billed as the next Lost, it seems like mimickingit might be the best move for FF. This week's episode juxtaposed present-day events with flashbacks, giving a backstory for Janis and doing an excellent impression of an episode of Lost.
Joss Whedon Rip-Off of the Week: Fringe musical episode - Really, Fringe? A musical episode? Isn't it bad enough that your entire premise is essentially a snarked-up version of The X-Files? To be fair, I stopped watching Fringe after last season, so I haven't actually seen the musical episode, but I don't need to in order to know that they're trying to simultaneously copy Joss' legendary musical episode of Buffy and hitch a ride on the musical bandwagon created by Glee. Come on, Fox. A little originality wouldn't kill you.
Most Exciting Wardrobe of the Week: Glee - Mercedes' hunger-induced hallucination left her seeing all her friends as food: Artie cake, Tina ice cream, a Jesse burger, and a Rachel cupcake. People dressed as foods never gets old!
Retort of the Week: Stanley on The Office - This week's lackluster episode did have at least one memorable line, from Mr. Stanley Hudson. His response to an offer to participate in a minority training seminar: "I'll slap you in the face with a rainbow."
Best Plaid: JT on Survivor - After his embarrassing exit, this week's episode of Survivor had the farm boy sitting pretty on the jury in a cute plaid number. Just the way we like him: adorable and silent.
Best Plot-Irrelevant Robot of the Week: Troy and Abed's robot on Community - In their attempts to accomplish everything on Abed's list of quintessential college experiences, Troy and Abed (currently my favorite TV duo) created a not-so-advanced robot which had no real significance in the episode. But it was damn funny.
In another successful effort to put off doing work for as long as possible, I have compiled a list of my favorite episodes of television. Keep in mind, these are my favorite episodes, not by any means the best, although I would argue there is certainly some overlap. I was inspired by this week's particularly high caliber episodes of Bones, Lost, and Chuck. So here they are, the greatest episodes of the greatest shows, in my humble opinion:
"Once More With Feeling" (Buffy) - I know every word of every song (except for "Dawn's Ballet," which is, in fact, instrumental).
"The Gift" (Buffy) - The Slayer dies to save the world. You don't get much more epic than that.
"Touched" (Buffy) - In a dark moment, during a dark, dark season, Spike really shines.
"Not Pictured" (Veronica Mars) - The fantastic season 2 finale solves two mysteries with one huge twist. And Logan saves the day.
"Spit & Eggs" (Veronica Mars) - Once again, mystery solved, Logan is valiant, tears are shed.
"I Do" (Lost) - Nathan Fillion guest stars AND Kate and Sawyer have cage sex. Best episode ever?
"Through the Looking Glass" (Lost) - A legendary finale, and a teary but heroic farewell to a beloved character.
"Happily Ever After" (Lost) - Double the Desmond, double the fun.
"Hidden" (Smallville) - Clark has to save the day, sans super powers. (SPOILER ALERT: It's awesome.)
"Lovesick Ass" (Wonderfalls) - Jaye and Eric have to babysit a deranged little boy and his Russian mail-order bride. I kid you not.
"Kerplunk" (Pushing Daisies) - An amazing finale to an amazing show, canceled too soon.
"War Stories" (Firefly) - Mal and Wash on a mission together, two of the greatest characters in the history of television. Also, Mal loses part of his ear (but reattaches it).
"Stop-Loss" (Dollhouse) - I loved this Victor-centric episode. Someone give Enver Gjokaj his own show, stat!
"A Stone of the Heart" (The Black Donnellys) - Odds are you haven't even heard of this show about brothers trying to hold their own against local crime lords, but it was phenomenal, and this episode is the embodiment of why.
"The Parts in the Sum of the Whole" (Bones) - The last three minutes of this episode make the first five and a half seasons worth it.
"Chuck Versus the Other Guy" (Chuck) - The culmination of three seasons of awesomeness.
"Wind Sprints" (Friday Night Lights) - Between Tim Riggins trudging through the rain and Lyla's heart-wrenching breakdown, this episode clinched the series for me.
"Friday Night" (Joan of Arcadia) - I can't decide if this episode is too sad, or just sad enough to be my favorite episode of Joan. Jury's still out.
"Raincoats and Recipes" (Gilmore Girls) - Luke and Lorelai are interrupted by Kirk, who runs down the stairs having one of his night terrors...naked.
"The Best Chrismukkah Ever" (The O.C.) - Say what you will about The O.C., but it was a phenomenon, and it gave us the greatest bi-religious holiday ever.
"At World's End" and "The Wish-Pretzel" (Greek) - I'm counting these two episodes together as the pinnacle of the Casey/Cappie love saga.
"Yeah, Just Like Tomatoes" (Weeds) - Zooey Deschanel guest stars in this already-hilarious masterpiece of a show. Kat (Zooey): "I'm part of this family!" Nancy: "Just because you are crazy, and we are crazy doesn't mean we're related."
"Miracles" (How I Met Your Mother) - Barney and Ted finally make up. (Everyone knows their bromance is the real love story of this show.)
"Casino Night" (The Office) - Jim and Pam: The early years. I could watch this episode on repeat and still adore it.
"Mamma Mia" (30 Rock) - Tina Fey + ABBA + Alan Alda = hilarity
*ADDENDUM (by which I mean, essential episodes I somehow overlooked and have now edited this entry to include):
"I Will Remember You" (Angel) - For one episode, Angel and Buffy actually had the life together we all wanted for them.
"The Constant" (Lost) - I tried to limit myself to three Lost episodes, but who am I kidding, this Desmond-centric episode is one of the top episodes of primetime TV ever.
"Making a Stand" (Arrested Development) - How could I forget this hysterical show? This episode taught us that using your amputee buddy to traumatize your children is a great way to teach them life lessons. "And that's why you always leave a note."
Let me start off this week's Top 5 with my favorite quote of the week: "You're paying too much for worms, man. Who's your worm guy?" - Creed, 'The Office'
1.) 'Castle' references 'Firefly' and 'Buffy' in this week's Halloween episode: Nathan Fillion donned his Captain Malcolm Reynolds duds once again (six years after the cancellation of the fabulous Whedon-helmed 'Firefly' from whence it came) when his 'Castle' character dressed up as a "space cowboy" for Halloween. Pure genius! I was laughing hysterically. And then I was crying because I still haven't recovered from the loss of such a brilliant show. (But we did get a movie out of it so suck it, Fox.) Just when you thought the Whedon references were done, Fillion gave a shout-out to our favorite vampire slayer. I always love a good Whedon reference in my television shows. It makes me feel like I'm part of an elite club and a sly Whedon allusion is like our secret handshake. Or the bat signal. So there you have it, my obligatory Joss Whedon mention of the week.
2.) Ellen DeGeneres attempts to scare the cuteness out of Taylor Swift: If you haven't seen this video I highly suggest you watch as Ellen pops out at Taylor from behind a bathroom wall. Swift's reaction is outrageously funny. I'd like to take this opportunity to mention the "Awww" Moment of the Week: Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner make a darn cute couple. But let's be honest, the coolest thing about them dating is that they have the same name.
3.) 'The League' on FX: This new man-comedy about a group of thirty-something guys who take their fantasy football very seriously is raunchy at best and offensive at worst, but somehow I found myself laughing way more than I should have. The show isn't just inappropriate, it's so inappropriate that they have to show the "MA: Mature audiences only" warning every time it returns from a commercial break (rightfully so). Sure, I felt like I needed to go to confession after I watched it, but as a former fantasy football champion myself (and currently undefeated) I was amused by how intense these guys are about their league and all the NFL jokes they make. Watch an entertaining promo here. (Yes, I know- I'm having way too much fun with this hyperlink business. Sue me.)
4.) Esteman: My friend Sara sent me this video of Esteman's "No Te Metas a Mi Facebook" which, from what I understand, translates to "Don't Mess With My Facebook," or "Stay Out Of My Facebook," or something along those lines. If you don't speak Spanish, just appreciate the skinny little Colombian man in very tight red pants and shiny jackets doing what appears to be some kind of variation of the Chicken Dance.
5.) The Halloween episode of 'Community': I have five words for you: Chevy Chase as the BeastMaster. (Yes, BeastMaster is one word. I looked it up.) This show is my second favorite new comedy this season, and it pulled out all the stops for this week's Halloween ep. The best part by far was the perpetually awkward Abed dressed as Batman, complete with a SPOT-ON Christian Bale impression. Amazing. This show is consistently funny, especially when Ken Jeong (from 'Knocked Up' and 'The Hangover') is onscreen as the very angry but hilarious Señor Chang.