Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Last Blog of 2010

When you think about it, 2010 went by like a blur. I guess time flies by when you're fruitlessly mailing and e-mailing resumes to prospective employers. In all seriousness though, with the exorbitant amount of free time I had during the Summer and Fall of 2010, it doesn't seem like the year is almost over. From a media perspective, it was a year of buzzwords: from Eyjafjallajökull to "refudiate," from vuvuzela to WikiLeaks, it was a solid 12-month span for gibberish and foreign proper names. It was a great year for pop culture --especially TV and music-- and a terrible year for almost everything else. (Forgive me if this blog seems a little slipshod; there's so much to reminisce about and too little time to express it.)


1. "Mad Men," AMC. Jon Hamm was runner-up for EW's Entertainer of the Year, and for good reason. Besides two strong outings on SNL and a dilligent performance in The Town, his portrayal of enigmatic '60s ad exec Don Draper has nearly made him a TV icon for our time. The show itself has also benefitted with Hamm at its center, turning out a somewhat polarizing season of bravura performances and clever writing. Notable Episodes: "The Rejected," "The Suitcase," "The Beautiful Girls."
2. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Comedy Central. As inherently political as TDS might be, the show is first and foremost a parody and skewering of a mass media that can't bother to be objective anymore. People have caught on, too: on any given night, Jon and his "correspondents" are pummeling Leno and Letterman in the ratings. Notable Episodes: TDS doesn't really have episode titles --it's a talk show, mind you-- but there's plenty of clips on Hulu, YouTube et al. that prove my point.
3. "Parks & Recreation," NBC. With "The Office" slowly fading into the sunset, P&R has become Thursday night's best and most underappreciated comedy. Amy Poehler earned a well-deserved Emmy nomination as eager small-town bureaucrat Leslie Knope, but Nick Offerman and Aziz Ansari were snubbed outright. If only more people would catch on... Notable Episodes: "Sweetums," "Telethon," "The Master Plan."
4. "Modern Family," ABC. No show balances laughs with low-key charm quite like the blended Pritchett clan. It's a family sitcom at heart, though not always family-friendly, but honest and grounded enough to keep you tuned in. Few shows have ever captured the complicated dynamic of a strong, lasting marriage quite like Mod-Fam. Notable Episodes: "Airport 2010," "Strangers on a Treadmill," "Halloween."
5. "Community," NBC. Talk about patience and perseverance: I put this show on my best of 2009 list on the heels of two strong episodes following an uneven start. I'm relieved to know that my praise was a sign of things to come, as "Community" has really come into its own in the past calendar year. "Modern Family" notwithstanding, this show has quite possibly the best comedy ensemble on television. Notable Episodes: "Modern Warfare," "The Psychology of Letting Go," "Epidemiology."

Honorable Mentions: "Boardwalk Empire," HBO; "In Treatment," HBO.

Best Show That I Need to Start Watching on a Regular Basis: "Breaking Bad," AMC.

Best Random Guest Appearance: Norman Lloyd on "Modern Family." Forget about Betty White for a moment-- it's a marvel that the 96-year-old thespian still manages to nab steady work. Best known as the last surviving member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater players and as Dr. Auschlander on "St. Elsewhere," Lloyd is a living legend that 90% of the populace knows nothing about. I almost didn't notice him when I saw the "Manny Get Your Gun" episode, which either says something about Lloyd's advanced age or his workman-like ability to disappear into a role.

Worst Random Guest Appearance: Justin Bieber on "CSI." Do I really need to explain this?

Worst Show of 2010: "Bridalplasty," E! Aspiring brides-to-be compete for boob jobs and facelifts in a narcissistic, disturbing, and altogether sad mash-up of "The Swan" and "Say Yes to the Dress." Case evidence of reality television and their obsession with the lowest common denominator.
Runner-Up: "Outsourced," NBC. If this were halfway decent, I would've forgave NBC for handing Park & Rec's time slot to this culture-clash single-camera comedy. Instead, "Outsourced" is more or less the Indian "Amos n' Andy," playing to stereotypes about spicy food, funny accents, and polytheism like a New Dehli minstrel show. Saying this show is an accurate depiction of an Indian workplace is like saying Sbarro is the cutting edge of Italian cuisine.

My Favorite Political Cartoon of 2010: This.

In Memoriam: Miep Gies, J.D. Salinger, Eric Rohmer, Doug Fieger, T-Bone Wolk, Merlin Olsen, Lynn Redgrave, Dennis Hopper, Sen. Robert Byrd, Lena Horne, Ronnie James Dio, Rue McClanahan, Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel, John Wooden, Gloria Stuart, Greg Giraldo, Robert Schimmel, Tony Curtis, Jill Clayburgh, Barbara Billingsley, Tom Bosley, Leslie Nielsen, Dino DeLaurentiis, Elizabeth Edwards, Ted Sorensen, Maurice Lucas, Pat Burns, George "Sparky" Anderson, Bob Feller, "Dandy Don" Meredith, Roy Neuberger, Richard Holbrooke, Steve Landesberg, Blake Edwards, Teena Marie, Gardner Kissick, and "Still Bill" Johnson.

Finally, because I haven't posted any in awhile, here's a couple of Top 5 lists to wrap up the year.

Five Obscure Monty Python References That Might Work as Names for Bands:
1. Hovercraft of Eels
2. Whicker's World
3. The Machine That Goes Bing
4. Kamikaze Highlander
5. Toad the Wet Sprocket*

Five Tips for Aspiring Grad School Students:
1. You have at least six bodily fluids you can donate to pay for tuition
2. If the school crest has a bottle of trucker pills on it, you're in good hands
3. Don't be afraid to consider moving far away to earn your masters or doctorate, as you will never see your friends and family anyway
4. As impressive as the publication of your epic research paper might be, it won't score you a free Whopper at Burger King
5. There is a growing perception in American culture that baccalaureate degrees are "the new high school diploma" since in the last 25 years, job growth has stagnated for Americans that stopped their education with a bachelor's, so imagine how far that masters will get you in the long run

SEE YOU IN 2011!


  1. Funny you should mention "Outsourced". I've seen some hints of "Frasier" on the show - that being some inside humor that they know one of their actors is a homosexual, and put him in some rather gay innuendo. The show was incredibly racist for the first few episodes, and I really don't know if there's enough gags or characters to sustain plots. To me, the far most offensive thing was the Kansas City Chiefs "jersey" they tried to pass off as legitimate :P

    As for "Modern Family", I want to like this, but it's just so ridiculous. "In the Middle" is too generic, "Cougar Town" is a throwaway except for a few gags and oneliners like "the purple toothed crew". I just don't enjoy "The Office" like I used to; "Community" would be my favorite live action sitcom by default. I watch "Shit My Dad Says" at THU730 and Shatner is the only interesting character, and seeing Will Sasso & Nicole Sullivan as husband/wife has a creepy brother/sister inbreeding hint to it. "Rules in Engagement" is about to Jump the Shark (tho more like a Lake Michigan Smelt), and "Mike & Molly" is a show that's not about fat people but really is about fat people, and would a good cop REALLY tolerate so many marijuana references?!

    Aside from the Sunday night animation block 7:30-9pm, that's basically my entire network television viewing, basically a record-low. Tuesday, Friday & Saturday nights are a complete wash, and I watch a lot of old reruns & PBS in primetime because there's just nothing else worth watching. And who the HELL decided that Kathy Bates needed her own show to be obnoxious and fat-quirky?! Please explain that appeal to me.

  2. I don't mind Kathy Bates as an actress, but she's miscast on "The Office." The network begged for a big-name guest star when a character actress would've sufficed.

    As for ABC Wednesdays, you're right about "The Middle" in that the show feels cookie-cutter. Say what you will about "Malcolm in the Middle," but their spin on lower-middle-class dysfunction had a way higher hit-to-miss ratio. The hype behind "Cougar Town" baffles me somewhat; the show itself is not awful, but it's far from a laugh riot. I can't remember the name of the Joanna Garcia/Debra Jo Rupp vehicle that airs at 7:30, but neither will anyone else when it's finally cancelled.

  3. "Better with You" is that awful Wednesday 7:30pm show. That show is beyond stupid. Any show that's just about being a couple is pure shit & pandering. And why does Joanna García always end up playing roles of the unwed/wed knocked up woman? IRL she's dating that ass-clown Nick Swisher. It's just knocking her hotness status down so many pegs.

    I'm a little surprised so many network sitcoms are still around / not canceled, I thought there would be more shows pulled by now. Tho judging by your list, it seems like most people are watching shows on cable.

    Have to ask, how's the Simpsons doing? Is it still in its "it's being made because there's too much money to be made" era & is it hopelessly lost from ever being considered a classic again? Have they done anymore of those cheesy in-the-future-Simpsons episodes or ripoff plots from the 1960s?

    Did you see the "Benny Hill" marathon on Sunday??? I hadn't seen that childhood favorite in over 20 years :O Maybe I'm a little rusty, but it was really difficult to watch.

  4. There was a "Benny Hill" marathon? Damn! What channel? I haven't seen that show in 15+ years, either.

    As for "Animation Domination," Am-Dad is still the best show in the crop, though it's not as consistently funny as it was last season. "The Simpsons" has been pretty decent lately; the move to HD has spawned a minor renaissance. I laughed out loud twice during "This Isn't Your Life, Lisa Simpson," and I can't remember the last time that happened more than once in an episode.

  5. "The Benny Hill show" is on Antenna-TV, which is WGN 9-2, which is basically an identical Me-TV thing. Luckily the show is on every Saturday night from 7pm to 10pm, and on Sunday they showed ones from the 1970s. And they have a bunch of full episodes on DVD, which I wasn't even aware of. As I recall from my childhood, Hill was on Channel 60/50 weeknights, and was on at 9pm or 9:30pm, it being the last thing I saw on nights. Then about 1989 (maybe up to 1992?), it disappeared forever.

    Not to sound like a cliche, I looked at the Simpsons guide the other day, and in retrospect, Season 9 really was when it stopped being 'completely awesome', and when I hear "Armin Tamzarian", it just makes me shake my head. I think the familiarity & bright colors is why I stuck around as long as I did. As for the new "Burger Town", I've completely ignored all promos so I'm completely surprised.

  6. "Bob's Burgers" looks funny on paper; any show with H. Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman in the cast must have a low threshold for failure. Too bad "Am-Dad" got benched... again. "The Cleveland Show" is a pointless mediocrity, but apparently the show benefits from its lead-in.

    My dad's TV is the only one in the house with a convertor box, and I like what I see on Antenna. Thanks for the heads up. :)

  7. LOL show's you how good I've been at ignoring it! I'm surprised I've haven't worn out the mute button on my remote!

    Watched last night's SNL - I didn't know Jim Carrey did impressions. It'll never happen, but I'd love if Carrey joined the cast of SNL. Maybe Lorne has a reprise of 1994 in store for 2014 with a bunch of random actors from old shows? Ugh, I could almost hear it: "Star-rinnnnng.. Mike O'Malley....!" Who do you think is the next to go? Fred? Seth? Abby? Kenan?