Now I may not be American but I can surely appreciate the themes of the holiday. In lieu of a What’s On for today (The only thing being TV’s Funniest Holiday Moments hosted by Jane Lynch at 8 on Fox.) I bring you a list of the seven things that I’m thankful for this holiday season.
Martha Plimpton – Earlier this year she rocked guest spots on Fringe, and The Good Wife; and stole the show in her arc as Lake Bell’s druggie boss in HBO’s How To Make It In America. I prayed to the TV gods to get Plimpton a regular gig on a series that could best showcase everything she can bring to the table. Virginia Chance is that role. I may not be the biggest fan of Greg Garcia’s white trash comedy style – But Plimpton gives a hundred and ten percent. She gives Virginia an equal mix of sarcasm and caring and she’s a riot. I may have found Earl Hickey to be pretty unrelatable but I like to think we all have a bit of Virginia in us; and it’s a credit to Plimpton how relatable this cartoonish TV mom/grandma can be.
Season 7 – Seven years into any series, things can start to get a bit stale. But these four series currently in their seventh season already had their slumps, some for even multiple seasons. Desperate Housewives last two seasons were weak by any standards. Neal McDonough was creepy, but ineffectual over all and the Bolen’s were a waste of Drea De Matteo. But Paul Young’s return is just the injection this aging series needed, I don’t know what his plan is but The other is the adding of Vanessa Williams as the new bad girl on the lane. The suburbs suits Wilhelmina Slater nice. Asides from a stellar premiere last season House was sort of a lame duck. Recovery wasn’t really his colour. Chase and Cameron got divorced because Chase killed an African dictator. The cases were boring and characters seemed stuck; House loves Cuddy but she cant trust him – it was boring. But this season there are two reasons for the uptick in quality, Amber Tamblyn’s moral med student and the evolution of House and Cuddy’s relationship. They both present new obstacles for House to overcome; and it looked like he hasn’t had this much fun since the first half of season 4. Last Season contained one of The Office‘s best episodes ever (Niagra – Jim and Pam’s wedding) but there were not a lot of other highlights. Andy and Erin was a lot of build up to nothing. Michael dating Pam’s mom made me want to vomit, and his relationship with Donna (Amy Pietz) made me sick for other reasons – overall I feel like Michael became more of a cartoon man-child, a live action Peter Griffin. But this year is something different. Like the writers are giving Carell great material because its his last season. But he’s not the only one. Craig Robinson is also a standout this season, emerging from the ensemble triumphantly, moving him out of the warehouse was a raving success and Zach Woods was also a smart promotion; Gabe is a perfect addition to the fold. I cover Grey’s Anatomy every week, so I ‘m not gonna gush here, but it had the really rough seasons from about season 4 or 5 – but even season three had it’s weak moments. But this season it’s brought back all the ingredients that made it a hit.
Robert and Michelle King – The married showrunners of The Good Wife don’t waste a second condescending their audience. Instead they focus their energies on giving us an intricate portrait Chicago underhandedness, the legal system and internal firm politics. All while giving us the rivalry of the season (Blake vs Kalinda) AND staying remarkably current in viral media trends. Amazing.
AMC’s Balls – Even though Rubicon wasn’t granted a second season, I recognize that it took balls to even put a the talky conspiracy thriller on the air at all. AND! with the Walking Dead they show again their cojones. I mean seriously – a gory AND talky horror series – it sounds crazy but it’s the best new series of 2010. I don’t need to get into Mad Men and Breaking Bad – but I will get into The Killing, a murder mystery series starring Mirelle Enos (center) – who’s Kathy Marquart’s absence I feel dearly on Big Love even though she still plays her twin Jodene – as the lead detective. Billy Campbell (right) from The 4400 and Once and Again, plays a politician and MICHELLE FORBES (left) plays the mother of the murder victim. MICHELLE FORBES! She coming off a season on the Canadian crime drama Durham County and playing the season 2 True Blood big bad, and I couldn’t be more excited to have her under AMC’s pedigree.
American Dad – Hater’s are gonna hate no matter what – but if you watch Fox’s Animation Domination you know how funny American Dad is and how unfunny Cleveland Show is. Well, in my fantasy Seth McFarlane, grand king of TV comedy filters all his writing team’s bad jokes into Cleveland and only saves gold for American Dad. It’s increasingly zany and smart.
NBC Comedy Thursdays (Starting Jan. 20) – I went into detail about this when it was announced a week ago. But I’m thankful that NBC is taking a chance and launching an entire night of comedy programming including the return of fave Parks and Recreation and the network debut of Mary Elizabeth Ellis (The Waitress from It’s Always Sunny…) in Perfect Couples.
British Imports: Being Human, Misfits and Sherlock – I admit freely that I am a junkie for the British style of television storytelling. There’s a sense of surprise and urgency and a sort of synergy between subplots that you dont really get from American TV (or when you do it’s trite… ::cough:: desperate housewives:: cough::). I gushed about Misfits, the 20-something superhero drama yesterday, so I’ll reserve my thanks for the other two titles listed above. Being Human, from BBC Three, is the story of a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf who share a flat. It’s darkly funny, very sexy, and has season long arcs like a classic Buffy season. It engages itself both in deep character and creature mythology but at the same time remembering its roots as a series about three monsters that are really just trying to be as human as possible. It’s bloody brilliant, much like the BBC’s Sherlock; A three episode series that brings the classic detective to modern London. Benedict Cumberbatch, (on the left… and Great Name Alert!) plays the titular detective with a dizzying brilliance. He truly conveys the madness that must be the reality of Sherlock Holmes’ brain. Sherlock is brilliant, but Cumberbatch also brings a sense of whimsy necessary to make Sherlock, who at time can be stubbornly irritating, relatable. Martin Freeman (on the right, Jim from the British Office and recently cast as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit) plays John Watson, an doctor and Afghanistan veteran. He’s the straight man to Cumberbatch’s Jester, and he does do while constantly reminding us why Sherlock needs Watson, My favorite of the three offerings from series one (it was picked up for two) is the first; A Study In Pink, it’s very polished with zippy editing and a great mystery. The Blind Banker, the second was the weakest for me, but it was still better than most American scripted fare. The third, The Great Game is a terse cat and mouse thriller pitting Sherlock against Moriarty played by Andrew Scott, who did a wonder with the character – he’s terrifying. Easily one of my favorite series of the year.
So what are you all thankful for on the tube this time of year?