Everything was back this week! Well, maybe not everything, but a good portion of my shows returned from their annoying hiatuses this week. There were so many wonderful moments on TV this week, I'm not even sure where to start...
#5) Jack Savoretti's Cover of "Ring of Fire" On Greek (Listen to it here.) - This slow, contemplative take on Johnny Cash's classic song was the perfect background music for Casey and Cappie's bittersweet, alcohol-induced reunion, and it went so well with the existential angst of the whole episode.
#4) Dan Out-Blairs Blair On Gossip Girl - Dan and Blair. Blair and Dan. I always thought their relationship consisted solely of a mutual hatred and a shared love for Serena, but I have to admit the combination of their animosity, intelligence, and wit makes for some very amusing television. This week they went head to head while working at the same internship at a fashion magazine, but since Dan knows Blair better than the other interns, he didn't fall victim to her sabotage. For example, when she tried to get him to take their boss the wrong pair of shoes, he told her: "I didn't date Serena van der Woodsen for two years and not come away knowing that those are Marc Jacobs. And they're mustard." Even better was Blair's attempt to distract Dan, when she yelled, "Oh look! It's Georgina's baby!" (Too soon?) But in the end, Blair didn't bring down her full force of wrath on Dan because she promised to fight fair, and it looked like they might almost be something marginally close to friends, until Dan made a preemptive strike to sabotage her instead, not trusting her promise to make it a clean fight. One awkward public scuffle on the floor of a fashion event later and they were both fired. But wait! Dan threw himself under the bus so Blair could keep her dream internship. Maybe Dair isn't over after all...
#3) What Do a Former Nazi, a Six-Hour Erection, and Ed Begley Jr. Have In Common? They Were All Featured In This Week's Episode of Off The Map! - That's right, folks. Ed Begley Jr. plus cast regular Rachelle Lefevre made for two Veronica Mars alumni in one episode for the second week in a row. (Last week Tessa Thompson guest starred.) As long as this show can keep up with the ludicrously random plot threads, continuous Veronica Mars alumni, and juicy/sappy doctor background stories, I will gladly keep watching.
#2) Community Makes Dungeons & Dragons Cool - A show has to be pretty secure with its sense of humor and characters to pull off a stunt like having an entire episode unfold as a role-playing game, and luckily for us, Community is 100% confident in its tone and humor. The highlight was probably Annie (playing the role of "Hector the Well-Endowed") and Abed's (playing a maiden along their path) verbally dictated sex scene (including some hand motions), which ended with Annie--I mean, Hector the Well-Endowed--declaring, "I stroke her hair lovingly and spoon her for the appropriate amount of time before leaving." This prompted Troy (who was taking notes on their encounter) to ask, "How long is that?" This show is amazing.
#1) Michael and Holly Reunited On The Office - We were all wondering when those crazy lovebirds were finally going to get back together, and time was a-tickin' since this is Steve Carell's final season on The Office. I loved how the whole episode led up to their adorable reunion on the rooftop, showing how they think exactly the same. Dwight was particularly amusing once he discovered that Holly could be used as a kind of tracker to find Michael just by following her whims for egg rolls and free stress balls. We all knew Holly and Michael would eventually find their way back to each other.
*Will Forte's guest appearance on Parks & Recreation as a Twilight-obsessed dad who chained himself in Leslie's office in order to get her to put the Twilight books in the Pawnee time capsule.
*Chuck took down Volkoff, got one family member back (his mother), and added a new one (Ellie's new baby) on this week's Chuck. In the words of General Beckman, "Get this man a chopper."
*Watching Jules watch Grayson watch Field of Dreams while crying on Cougar Town. After all, Grayson's tears are Jules' "double rainbow."
*The ultimate douche face-off on The Good Wife: Cary and Blake went toe to toe in this week's episode, and the levels of hostility and testosterone were matched only by the undercurrent of homoeroticism.
*This quote from Angelo on this week's Top Chef: "I wanted to be a fruit stylist, back in the day."
This week's TV lineup featured a surprising number of hookers/porn stars (see House, Raising Hope, and arguably How I Met Your Mother), conspiracies (see Castle and Community), fake guns (see Modern Family and Community), and crying (see Modern Family, Terriers, and Cougar Town), which are always fun plot points. Throw in some exciting guest stars, and it was a pretty great week of television. Here's the rundown...
This week brought good news for some shows and ambiguous-but-probably-foreboding news for others. CBS surprised everyone by ordering full seasons of all five of their new series, including the critically scorned Twitter-based sitcom $#*! My Dad Says, Tom Selleck's new hit Friday night cop drama Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-0. The CW also announced which shows they'd be picking up for a full season: the eight season wonder One Tree Hill (the show that won't die), and freshman series Hellcats and Nikita. Notably absent was Life Unexpected, whose hopes for a full second season are not looking good. But let's move on to some recaps of this week's noteworthy shows, only two of which were mentioned above (yes, that was a shot at all the stupid shows that got full season pick-ups CBS and The CW)...
Another exciting week of television has come and gone, and it seems that the new shows are starting to distinguish themselves as either "keepers" or "soon-to-be-canceled." The first new show to get a full season pickup, I'm happy to say, was Fox's comedy Raising Hope. The outlook isn't as good for some other new shows (Chase, The Whole Truth, and Running Wilde, for instance), but more on that later. Let's start from the beginning...
First of all, let's have a moment of silence for a fallen TV gem: Lone Star, Fox's critical darling slash ratings vacuum, was canceled this week after airing only two episodes. Meanwhile, Outsourced and three Chuck Lorre sitcoms are still at large. Is there no justice? Let's not dwell on the negative, though. There were plenty of entertaining moments in television this week...
It's May, and you know what that means: Sex! Death! Excessive guest stars! Expect an extra dose of excitement on your favorite shows in the coming weeks, as sweeps are upon us.
*WARNING* SPOILERS AHOY! Seriously, don't keep reading if you aren't caught up on the most recent week of television.
Best Karaoke Performance of the Week: House, Chase, and Foreman on House - Watching this unlikely trio sing "Midnight Train to Georgia" was one of my favorite moments of this show to date. Who knew that, in addition to being ridiculously attractive and having an adorable accent, Chase can actually sing! Sometimes life just isn't fair for the rest of us.
WTF Guest Appearance of the Week: Buzz Aldrin on 30 Rock - Frankly, I was a little disappointed by the former astronaut's appearance on 30 Rock as Liz's mother's coulda-been husband. I guess the yelling-at-the-moon bit was mildly amusing, but I would much rather they have poked fun at his recent stint on Dancing With the Stars.
Best Fake Mustaches: Travis, Bobby, and Andy on Cougar Town - It's the pure randomness of this show that delights me so much. As long as these guys keep pulling shenanigans like this (and adding new rules to Penny Can), I'll keep watching.
Most Mind-Blowing, Bawl-Inducing Episode Possibly in the History of Television (Excluding Joss Whedon Shows): "The Candidate," Lost - Now that was an intense hour of television. This week's episode included three significant and heart-wrenching deaths, and as much as it killed me (no pun intended...really) to see some beloved characters bite the dust, their deaths could not have been more fitting or more poignant. Not to mention the Sideways World Jack/Locke story was pure brilliance, painting them both as broken men trying to let go of the past.
Most Awesome Rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Possibly in the History of Music: The cast of Glee - When you take a song as over-the-top as "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and put it in a show like Glee, that really knows how to make fun of its own over-the-top-ness, there's no accounting for the explosion of awesomeness that will result. "Turn around briiiiight eyyyyyyes!"
Best Swipe at Glee: Jeff Winger on Community - This week's hilarious episode of Community parodied every dystopian, battle-for-earth action movie made in the last thirty years. The study group's biggest rivals in the apocalyptic paintball war were their community college's Glee Club. As the enemies were singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Jeff shouted at them, "Write some original songs!" These clever shots at other shows are one of the reasons Community is starting to remind me more of 30 Rock every week.
Most Veronica Mars Alumni Guest Starring in One Episode: Castle - Oh, how I've missed seeing Max Greenfield (Leo) and Julie Gonzalo (Parker) on my television since the unjust demise of Veronica Mars... Featuring two VM alum is enough to make any episode of any show more than great (except maybe Two and a Half Men- there's no saving that train wreck), but throw in Rocco DiSpirito, molecular gastronomy, and a hidden engagement ring, and you've got yourself a top-notch episode.
Best Non-Veronica Mars Guest Stars: Swoosie Kurtz and Fred Willard on Chuck - If Fred Willard keeps up this guest star streak (last week he was on Modern Family), I really don't think I'll ever get tired of him. Paired with the perfectly prickly Swoosie Kurtz (you might know her from Pushing Daisies or Lost), the two played a jaded CIA spy couple who give Chuck and Sarah a sobering glimpse of what their future could be.
Best Chuck Norris Impression: Frank Lapidus, Lost - Sawyer said it best last week when he said Lapidus "looks like he stepped off the set of a Burt Reynolds movie," and this week's episode only further enforced that impression of the scruffy pilot. While the castaways were trapped in the Hydra cages during the Smoke Monster attack, Lapidus took the proactive approach and began trying to kick open the door of his cage. Then Jack ruined all the fun by showing up and opening the cage door with the guard's key. Lame.
Best Immunity Idol Ruse: Rupert on Survivor - As much as it kills me to say it, Rupert has really been annoying me this season, but this week he's starting to win back the lovability he once owned back in his original season (in which he was voted Fan Favorite). When he realized he was on the chopping block (because he was bold enough to try to reveal Russell's truly evil nature), he used his resources (namely, a rock) and his brain (a tool that has been underutilized by many Survivors lately) and came up with a plan. Creating a suspicious bulge in his pocket with the rock, he made it appear as if he had found the hidden immunity idol, thus leading Russell the Troll-Man to split the Villains' votes, saving Rupert from the wrath of Russell.
Role-Reversal of the Week: Sawyer and Jack on Lost - This Freaky Friday moment has been at least a season and a half in the making, but this week's episode left Sawyer in exactly the same position Jack was in at the end of season five. His lack of faith and his determination to be the hero led him to make a bad decision that got other people killed. The good news? New Zen Jack is three for three this season in terms of his loony, death-cheating "plans." (Calling Dogen's poison-pill bluff, his little dynamite standoff with Richard Alpert, and now it looks like he was right to think that the bomb wouldn't have gone off without Sawyer's attempt to disarm it.) The moral of the story? Jack is back.
Best Spin Class Instructor: Dwight on The Office - Dwight was in peak form this week, tailing Michael's new girlfriend at the gym and attempting to seduce her to test her loyalty (naturally). In the last scene, Dwight is taking a spin class, or, more accurately, taking over a spin class. As the instructor directs them to cool down as they approach a gentle hill, Dwight shouts, "No! The hill is a trap! Let's take the dirt road off to the side!" Did Dwight miss his calling as a spin class instructor?
Best Fake Church Name: Our Lady of Reluctant Immigration, 30 Rock - It makes total sense that Jack's hardass Irish-American mother would play Bingo at a church with such a ridiculously xenophobic name, and it really does roll right off the tongue.
How I Met Your Mother Reference of the Week: Damon on The Vampire Diaries - Almost as good as Andy's mention of the CBS sitcom on The Office a few weeks ago was Damon's passing comment on how Stefan (who is very in tune with his humanity, unlike most vampires) "wants to feel every episode of How I Met Your Mother." Way to be relevant, HIMYM!
Best Torso: It's a tie between Jeff (Joel McHale) on Community and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) on The Vampire Diaries - Is it just me, or does the amount of semi-nudity on TV go up during May sweeps? I guess it makes sense. You know what they say: April plot devices bring May hook-ups.
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.