11 favorite tv moments of all time

11) Martha Stewart makes mashed potatoes with Snoop Dogg. Enough said- the Martha Stewart Show

10) Chappelle’s racial draft, specifically; “The black delegation requests Eminem”- Chappelle’s Show
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about go watch every single episode of “Chappelle’s Show” and do not continue on with your life until you do… because you are not a complete human being.)

9) With SG6 destroyed Sydney and Vaughn are finally able to express their true feelings for each other amidst the smoldering rubble- Alias

8) Homer tells Marge he likes the way her jelly stays right in the middle of her sandwiches and he doesn’t know how she does it because no one else can. Later Marge abandons the idea of an affair and instead goes to the power plant to right things with Homer. Probably the first and most poignant romantic moments I ever witnessed on television- the Simpsons

7) Whenever Jeremy, James and Richard go on a holiday somewhere exotic it is always amazing to watch. But between the scooters, the rain and the awkward cultural interactions my favorite adventure, by miles, was their trip to Vietnam. James; “I’ve had to ditch me wok.”- Top Gear

6) Could you ask for a more intense and brutal death scene? When the Chicken Man finally met his end whose heart didn’t stop when he walked out of the explosion and straighten his tie before dropping dead? Class to the end- Breaking Bad

5) The ending to a love story we were all waiting for. Where were you when Rachel got off the plane? (1 min 50 sec)- Friends

4) Eric finally kisses Donna after the disco aka “Fernando.” (“You’re in like with me?”)- That 70s Show

3) Ben’s proposal to Leslie. No matter how many times I watch it, I always cry like a baby- Parks and Recreation

2) POTUS in the cathedral; Mrs. Landingham’s death was sudden and heart breaking, but the speech the President yells at God after her funeral is one of the most brilliant and beautiful monologues ever written for television (obviously, it was written by Aaron Sorkin…)- the West Wing

1) Jim asks Pam out to dinner. Originally this moment was a little further down my list, but when I re-watched it (Albeit, for the millionth or so time) I realized that as a true Office freak at heart, this really was my mostest favoritest moment of all time ever. (The clip cuts off the best part which is Pam turning back to the camera, beaming, with tears in her eyes and saying “I’m sorry, what was the question?” Absolutely perfect.)- the Office

“The Following”- Kevin Bacon makes his TV debut! And there’s a serial killer cult!

the following

I was delighted when I first saw advertisements for FOX’s new crime thriller “the Following;” first because (as bizarre a thing as it is to admit) I love dark shows about crime and criminal investigation, specifically serial killers (i.e. Criminal Minds).  Second, Kevin Bacon (so much love for Kevin; Footloose, Footloose, Footloose, Footloose!). Kevin Bacon as a retired FBI agent with a drinking problem determined to see an insane killer brought to justice? I was already on board.

But I had my apprehensions (I mean, it’s a FOX series where Kevin Bacon plays a retired FBI agent with a drinking problem determined to see an insane killer brought to justice…) and the first forty-five minutes of the pilot did little to quel my concerns.

I would like to take a moment to  restate a point I am adamant about which is that I believe it’s nearly impossible to judge a show based on the pilot. Most of the episode is devoted to awkward set ups and explanations and usually the writers and actors don’t have a handle on the characters enough to bring them to their full potential.

But the pilot of the Following was particularly weak. I couldn’t help but feel I had seen all of this before; a killer escapes from prison and the only person who can find him is the man who captured him the first time. This is Bacon, who wakes up from an alcohol induced slumber to the news report and a phone call begging him to return to duty.

The majority of the episode proceeded as such and while I was already determined to see the show through to episode three I was not exactly looking forward to it.

Suddenly a naked woman stabs herself in the eye with an icepick and they realize the killer, Joe Carrol (James Purefoy), has a cult following. Even after he’s recaptured his devotees continue to carry out his mission of mass murder; each crime eerily inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

When Carrol’s son is kidnapped for him by the nanny (who had been living with his (ex)wife for two years) I was once again intrigued.

Despite the occasional weak dialogue (big broadcasting companies seem to prefer cutting back on the writing budget in favor of big name actors and special effects…) each episode has delivered a unique twist and at least one “edge of your seat,” holding your breath moments.

The violence in the show is surprisingly well done. Most of the murders are gruesome without being over the top, while at the same time being unusually tasteful. But the most intriguing aspect is the “creepy” factor the show is able to create.

My prime example is the ending of episode 7, “Let Me Go”. Carrol is reunited with his son and for the first time the audience gets a glimpse of his army of average-looking followers. The cinematography and editing all contribute but the song choice is truly what brings brilliance to this scene.

All in all, if dark and disturbing are your thing, “the Following” is worth checking out.

This is the song used in the scene I was talking about (also used on the History Channel’s “Vikings”)

11 of my favorite female television characters

There are so many great female television characters, but honestly there are not nearly as many honest and well written women in television as there are men; they are either too one dimensional, too flighty, too over the top or display any other number of flaws that make them completely unrealistic and un-relatable. I think this is probably due, in great part, to the fact that the screenwriting profession is one (among many) professions dominated by men, and I don’t think many men have the capabilities of writing a truly great female character (who does, really?).

But this is a list of some of my favorite female television characters of all time.  The ones that inspire me and continuously make me smile.

1) Elizabeth “Liz” Lemon, 30 Rock; My idol, my heroin, my archetype. What woman hasn’t been able to relate to L.L. in one way or another at some point? From her binge eating, lack of laundry-doing and generally non-existent social graces she is an exemplary role model for any woman.

2) Gemma Teller Morrow, Sons of Anarchy; Some might consider her to be, well… an evil bitch. But every evil and underhanded thing she does is under the pretense of protecting her family. She is without a doubt one of the strongest, most badass women on television, on top of being a loving and devoted mother, to her own family as well as every member of the club.

3) Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, Bones; For those who have never caught an episode, Bones is a forensic anthropologist (which means she studies dead bodies… which is awesome) and a genius basically when it comes to all things science. Socially speaking, however, she is totally lost.  Her awkwardness is hilarious and her brilliance is inspiring (Bones is also based on real-life anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who really did help the FBI solve murders and also produces and helps write all the episodes. Once again, awesome.)

4) Lorelai Gilmore (Sr.), Gilmore Girls; Lorelai is the mother no one had, but every girl wanted (and I know I’m not just speaking for myself here). While she may lose her cool every now and again she is always there with a shoulder to cry on, a witty come-back or suggestion for the perfect outfit. Basically Gilmore Girls is the most up-beat, optimistic, drawn-out episode of Sixteen and Pregnant that was ever created…

5) Dee Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; She’s crass and she’s rude and she’s kind of a little evil…. but I love her. She can drink like a fish, beat up masturbating homeless creeps and looks damn good dressed as a peacock. She’s one of the guys (as much as they might… well, hate her) and despite all the messed up stuff she’s done, you can’t help but hope she gets everything her wicked little cold black heart desires.

6) Joy Turner, My Name is Earl; Joy knows who she is and does not apologize for it. She may not be the most intellectual or the classiest but she always takes care of her own. While she makes mistakes, no one can doubt her ingenuity when it comes to living on less, her indomitable love for her family and overall badass-ness.

7) Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; If you don’t agree with me you haven’t watched enough of the Slayer. Not only does she look super cute while literally kicking ass, consider that in 1997 Buffy was really a first of her kind; a main-stream action hero that has breasts and knows how to use mascara! The concept was revolutionary.

8) Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown; Most people my around my age or younger probably have never heard of or seen an episode of Murphy Brown (they used a lot of really great music in the original series, which was sweet, but made it nearly impossible to get the rights needed in order to show the program in syndication or even sell on DVD). Murphy is a brilliant no-nonsense, highly decorated news reporter.  She tightly wound and struggles with her past addictions and habits while still maintaining her status as one of the greatest reporters of her time.  She was also the first female television character to be a single mother; though the show received a great deal of flack it also began to make the single mother family structure more socially acceptable.

9) Detective Olivia Benson, Law and Order; SVU; Liv has been a staple of television for almost fourteen years now. In that time we have watched her become a modern day hero; saving countless lives (mostly those of innocent children) and putting way dozens of bad guys. But what makes Olivia even better is not only can she disarm a suspect and chase down a rapist, she can also (at times) be very vulnerable. She has regrets, she falls in love, she makes mistakes. Like all women, she is multidimensional.

10) April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation; I’m really just in love with April.  I love her creepy lack of affect, her love of all things morbid, disgusting and depressing, her love of animals and playing pretend. And I love the way she loves her husband, Andy. Not to mention she is down right freaking adorable/sexy as hell.

11) Lady Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey; She is overtly dignified, stuck in her ways and unapologetic about it. She may be the eldest of the Downton clan but she has the quickest wit and perhaps the driest sense of humor. She has high standards for herself and everyone around her but she also knows when to forego the status-quo in order to do what’s right.

11 television shows that improve my mood

Honestly there is not a lot of television that doesn’t improve my mood… (with the exception of  most “reality” programs, which tend to just frustrate and anger me) but this is a list of some of my “go to” shows when I am feeling down;

1) the Office (US) – this feels like an obvious one to me.

2)Touch- I just recently found Touch and I have been in love right from episode one (I don’t want to admit how many times I have watched the series since then just trying to placate myself until Friday’s new episode……. four… it’s four times…). The storyline is action-filled without being over the top (unlike some of Kiefer Sutherland’s other projects…) and is packed with cathartic moments that will make you cry and think sappy thoughts like “there’s a greater purpose! We are all one!” etc. (which I feel are the best in times of crisis and of course Jesjes hates lol). Also the little boy who is the star of the show (but has yet to have any dialogue outside of his introductory and closing monologues) is such a freaking cutie-patootie it almost makes me sick. David Mazouz

3) Top Gear (UK)– I feel like Jeremy, Richard and James are old friends and if you have yet to see an episode of this incredible series you really really need to and  I am sure you will feel the same after the first episode. Even if you don’t love cars (which, I’m sorry, but is just wrong) you will still find this show hilarious and entertaining and generally mood-lifting. If you don’t, well… then I don’t know what to tell you. There is clearly something wrong with you.

4) COPS – seriously, if you’re feeling bad about your life you can just watch COPS and think “at least I’m not that guy” (unless you are in which case watching it probably won’t make you feel better… unless it’s a My Name is Earl situation in which case, congratulations).

5) Hoarders- similar premise as with COPS, unless your place really is that dirty. *Important note; if animals are involved in the hoarding DO NOT expect it to make you feel better… unless you don’t care about animals, but then you clearly wouldn’t have any feelings in the first place.

6) Law and Order; SVU – yes it’s a depressing subject matter, but for some reason it brings me a great deal of comfort… probably because it’s amazing. But I also feel a lot of the time when you’re feeling down watching something funny isn’t always the solution. Because frankly if you’re feeling low enough even the most hilarious of comedies just isn’t funny. Nothing is funny. Being able to lose yourself in a story more dismal than your own can be very therapeutic (it’s that whole catharsis thing again).

7) My Name is Earl– Jason Lee, Jason Lee, Jason Lee, Jason Lee. I don’t care that he’s part of that whole “scientology-scene” (I don’t want to say anything offensive, like calling it nonsense, in case…you know, we ever meet………..) Also Joy and Darnell are two of the greatest television characters of all time.

8) Trailer Park Boys – Brilliant television, especially considering it comes from Can-ay-dia (Oh!! #Canadaburn). If Bubbles can’t put a smile on your face I don’t know what can.

9) Criminal Minds– This show got me through one of my toughest break-ups. During that time I got the first season on DVD for my birthday and during those first really rough months I would often have a it running literally 24/7. Seriously, by February most of the disks were skipping not from mishandeling but from overuse. Jesjes loves CM and says she still hasn’t been able to watch any of the first season since because she got so damn sick of it…… I still have not.

10) Too Cute – On Animal Planet. Pretty self-explanatory. Perfect for anyone with a soul.

11) The First 48 – There to remind us no matter how bad things get they could always be worse; you could be dead in a ditch on a homicide investigation documentary show with your face blurred out and your pants around your ankles. 

 

Kids and television

I was really happy to see a study highlighted on CNN this morning that determined there are possible benefits to young children watching television.

The key is what they are watching.

I love television. I love it, and I am not ashamed. Despite my mother calling it a “boob tube” my entire childhood (Why? There aren’t even any boobs on basic broadcast television… my mom always said we didn’t “need” cable, and she has stood by that………) I have always believed television has the power to be a phenomenal teaching tool.

As a nanny I have had parents who don’t allow any television the house, parents who allow some television and parents who let their kids watch whatever they want whenever they want for as long as they want, and I have been able to observe the affect their TV watching habits appear to have.

Obviously constant television time has a negative impact. The kids I’ve seen who are used to having their favorite shows playing during all their waking hours are much more irritable on a more frequent basis. Most of them throw tantrums as soon as the TV is turned off (even if they weren’t paying attention to it at the time).  There is also a great lack of creativity in their play, and a decrease in play overall.

Kids who watch more of your traditional “cartoonie”, action-driven shows (you know, the type usually on Saturday mornings which lots of flashing bright colors and usually someone getting hit over the head with something) tend to crave this fast-paced entertainment, even outside of their television programs and demand constant stimulation be provided for them. They sometimes behave too intensely during play times and occasionally perturb other children.

On the other hand there are negative repercussions to denying television entirely as well. I’ve noticed that the children denied TV don’t know how to moderate themselves once they are in an environment where their parents’ restrictions don’t apply (try, as some parents might, you cannot keep kids within a specific bubble of restrictions at all times). When these kids finally get to a friend’s house who has Mickey Mouse DVD they will sit glued to it (on repeat) for hours on end. The entire time, if allowed.

Another thing I’ve noticed is children denied all television have a tendency to be more socially awkward. While this is not always the case I have seen a very strong correlation between kids who are not allowed any TV and having difficulties interacting with and making friends with other children.

Let me make it clear I am all for being an “oddball” and I kind of have a theory that if you’re a kid that gets made fun of you are probably doing something right. But I’m not talking about being more into reading nonfiction than playing soccer, I’m talking about the basic building blocks that make up our social structure; how to share, how to take turns, how to listen to others. Most, if not all, the children I have taken care of or observed for an extended period of time who were forbidden from ever watching TV struggled in these areas (though this isn’t to imply none of the children who do watch television don’t struggle with this issues at one point or another as well).

Yes, this could just be a coincidence. And it is a fact that there are many contributing factors to a child’s social behavior.

Margs loves Dora. Like, a lot, as do many kids I know.

Dora says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ every single time. As a result Margs said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at every possible occasion (until she grew up a little and observed that in the “real world” people are not always so polite…. so why should she?). One afternoon we were counting blocks and she counts “uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco!”… neither of her parents speak spanish.

These are two of many examples.

While I believe TV time should be limited, I don’t think putting a specific limit (for example thirty minutes or an hour a day only) is necessarily the best method for small children. Putting a specific and constant limit on television instantly turns it into a battle and kids (no matter how little) will instantly be thinking of ways to get around it, be it through begging or crying or sneaking.

What I have noticed is the most effective when it comes to television time is simply playing it day by day. One day it may be sunny and beautiful and the child may be full of energy and spend the entire day outside, watching no television. Other days a kid might not be feeling so well and want to spend most of the day huddled up on the couch with Barney.  I don’t believe, when it comes to kids, that consistency needs to mean doing the exact same thing every day. I don’t see how that prepares them at all for life. I think consistency means the children knowing when they are told “only one more episode” it means only one more episode.

Parents should spend more time actively concerning themselves with what their children are watching instead of how long. I have spent more of my life watching early childhood television shows than I would care to count, and it is easy to tell the education versus entertainment oriented programs.

I think (like most everything) it’s all about balance.

Article from CNN