Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Battlestar Galactica: In Memoriam April 8, 2009

Forgive me if I get all weepy as I write this. I’m finding it very hard to let go of my favorite sci-fi show. Three years ago I jumped on the Battlestar Galactica bandwagon, and within a few weeks I had watched the miniseries, season one, and the first part of season two (thanks to the network’s pesky habit of splitting up the seasons and the DVD releases). I was hooked. For the past three years, I have been fully invested in the fate of the fleet, and in the individual struggles and triumphs of its crew and passengers.

I waited until two weeks after its original air date to watch the series finale, because somehow, I felt like if I hadn’t watched it, the show wasn’t really over. Now that I’ve finally watched the finale, I can honestly say it was amazing, and a near-perfect end to a near-perfect show. The finale played out like a grandiose symphony, orchestrated to celebrate all the things that we loved about the show, its characters, and their lives. So now, I give you a coda of sorts, in an effort to digest four seasons of resilient humans, formidable Cylons, and an aging Battlestar, and to bid a fond farewell to the characters I’ve grown to love.

Finale Synopsis: (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

  • The first hour focuses on the final showdown between Adama’s rag tag band of human and Cylon warriors, and Cavil’s intimidating Centurion forces. The battle begins the moment Galactica jumps into its “parking spot” next to the sprawling Cylon Colony: raptors and vipers open fire on the Cylon raiders, two assault forcesĀ  – led by Lee, Kara, Athena, and Helo – board the Colony in search of Hera, and the reserve forces – including Caprica Six and Baltar – stand ready to defend Galactica when it is boarded by enemy Centurions. The action is fast and furious, culminating in a tense segment in which Hera is found, then lost again, then found by President Roslin, then lost again, then found by Baltar and Six…
  • The scenes involving Hera’s disappearing/reappearing act are the ones where the episode takes on an operatic quality, both visually and aurally. These were also the first of many emotional moments in the finale. Roslin, fresh off giving herself an injection, has a vision of Hera running through the opera house, eluding her as well as Athena and Caprica Six. Roslin realizes that the return of her prophetic visions means that Hera is nearby, and she runs through the corridors of the ship, as best she can in her weakened state, searching for the child. I was glad that the writers finally made sense of Roslin and Six’s recurring visions of Hera in the opera house.
  • Six and Baltar state what viewers already know – “I’ve been here before” – and they escort Hera into the “opera house,” a.k.a. the CIC. Suddenly the events that have been replayed in their vision are actually happening. The “final five” are looking down on them from above, silhouetted by a bright light. It is clear that this is the moment that Hera will play a pivotal role in the destiny of both humans and Cylons. A moment of chaos results in Cavil grabbing Hera and holding her at gunpoint. This is Baltar’s moment to shine, as he gives a brilliant speech that appeals to Cavil’s rational, logical nature. He says it’s time to break the cycle of birth, death, rebirth, destruction, escape, death… Tigh pipes up at this point, saying that if Cavil gives them Hera, the “final five” will give Cavil resurrection technology. Thus, crisis is averted, for the moment.
  • In order to upload the resurrection technology to the Colony, the final five must all be connected, which will make each of them an open book – they will all be fully known to one another. This is bad news for Tory, whose dark little secret is about to catch up with her. Sure enough, all five of them “see” Tory sending Callie out of the airlock, and in a moment of blind rage (who can blame him?!), Tyrol breaks the connection to choke Tory, which sends off a slew of unfortunate events: Sam starts screaming, as does the hybrid on the Colony, Cavil believes this whole deal was a trick and orders his soldiers to open fire, bullets start flying in the CIC, and Tyrol breaks Tory’s neck, ending her life, and along with it any chance of following through on the deal to provide Cavil with resurrection technology. Simultaneously, the Cylon raiders start attacking Galactica again, and in a moment of seemingly divine intervention, a very dead Racetrack posthumously fires her nukes at the Colony, effectively destroying the ship and ending the war.
  • Adama realizes that Galactica can’t survive the shock waves from the nuclear blast for long, so he orders Starbuck to get them out of there. And thus begins another beautiful moment in the finale, in which we finally learn how Kara Thrace will lead the humans to their end, when Kara realizes “there must be some kind of way out of here.” She punches in the numbers that correspond with the notes of the song (“All Along the Watchtower”) that she, Hera, and the final five have been haunted by, and miraculously this leads them to the rendezvous jump point, which also happens to be where Earth (the one we know) is. Hooray!
  • The good news continues, as the rest of the fleet shows up, and they discover that this Earth is very habitable (which is necessary since the Galactica will never be able to jump again after the stress of the last Cylon battle). The only catch is that this planet is already inhabited by tribes of less advanced humans, which means that their technology, weapons, and spaceships may complicate their efforts to assimilate. Lee makes the decision, and everyone jumps on board, that they ditch their technology and give these people “the best part of ourselves, not the baggage.” So, the 38,000 remaining humans set out to the four corners of the Earth, with the clothes on their back and a few supplies, to start a new life, back to basics.
  • The remainder of the episode plays out like an epilogue, giving us a glimpse into the lives of the former space travelers in their new terrestrial home.

A Day in the Life – Then and Now – When the flashbacks to Caprica started, in Part I of “Daybreak,” I was skeptical as to why the writers chose to insert “old news” about the characters into the crucial events of the present. After seeing the flashbacks come full circle, I understand their purpose and think it was a great idea. By seeing these characters’ life situations shortly before the destruction of Caprica and before their subsequent search for a new home aboard Galactica, we were able to better appreciate the beginning of the next chapter of their lives, on Earth. These flashbacks also showed that destiny played a hand in their journey to Earth. So, in what condition did we leave our favorite characters?

  • Kara Thrace and Lee Adama – The flashbacks showed us that these two always had a special connection, from the moment they met over dinner with Lee’s brother, and Starbucks’s boyfriend at the time, Zack. These flashbacks also showed us that Lee always had an idealistic nature, and that there has almost always been someone standing in the way of Kara and Lee having anything more than a passing relationship – Zack, Dee, Anders… But their friendship has almost always remained intact, and that is how we leave them on Earth. One moment they are talking with excitement about Lee’s plans to explore this new world, and the next Kara is just… gone. Shortly before this, she had told Lee that she wasn’t sure where she was going, but that she wasn’t coming back – “I’m done here. I’ve completed my journey, and it feels good.” So Starbuck and Apollo didn’t get the happily ever after ending many of us would have liked to see, but they were always there for each other when it mattered. And, indeed, Kara played a pivotal role in leading the human race to Earth. I suppose we’re to think she really was an angel – that she really did die when her viper crashed, and that she returned simply to complete the task of leading the human race to its end. Her fear, of being forgotten, seems moot now. At least by the people she cared about, she’ll be remembered. As Lee stated, while standing in an empty field from which he would begin his new life, “Goodbye, Kara. You won’t be forgotten.” I have an image of Kara joining Sam “on the other side,” whatever that looks like, and of Lee climbing mountains and discovering many wondrous things on Earth.

  • Baltar and Caprica Six – “I’m proud of you.” With those words, Caprica Six rekindled her passionate relationship with Baltar. Their renewed (and much healthier) relationship was one of my favorite things about the finale. Both Six and Baltar have come a long way since they instigated Caprica’s destruction and the subsequent war between Cylons and humans. We also learn, at the same time they do, that their invisible friends are actually there, not just figments of their imagination. They are guardian angels, or spiritual guides, who have always led Baltar and Six toward their destiny. Their flashback showed us that Baltar already cared about Six on Caprica (“the things men do for love”), especially after her considerate gesture of finding his father a comfortable place to live. Over the past few years, they have both been plagued by guilt over their part in causing so much death and despair, and have been trying to atone for the sins of their past. They found redemption by saving Hera, and now they will start a new life together on Earth. Another beautiful moment of the finale occurred when Six and Baltar were talking about where they would live on Earth, and after mentioning he found some land good for cultivation, he is barely able to utter the words, “You know, I know about farming,” before he breaks down weeping, and Six gently comforts her and says, “I know you do.” This was a touching reference to their flashback, in which we learned that Baltar was ashamed that he had come from a poor, farming family. Now he is ready to once again embrace his heritage, partly out of necessity, but mostly because he has genuinely changed. He’s no longer a self-centered, manipulative egotist. He’s now a caring, brave man, who is finally mourning the loss of his family on Caprica, and someone who Six can be proud of. I am pleased that Six and Baltar ended up this way, and love the way their characters evolved over the course of the series.

  • Adama and Roslin – The flashbacks showed us Adama rejecting a desk job in favor of staying with his old, broken down battlestar, and Roslin having a change of heart and deciding to join the mayor’s campaign and following through with it until the end, where ever that may be. Little did she know at the time that her decision to join the campaign would save her life (temporarily), make her president of the colonies, and lead her to a new home far, far away from Caprica. And little did Adama know that his old, broken down ship would hold up enough to survive another Cylon war, and to carry an entire civilization to its new home. And he also didn’t know that on that ship, he would fall deeply in love with Laura Roslin, only to lose her to cancer just as they found the place where they planned to build their cabin and live in harmonious bliss on the new Earth. I can’t think of many scenes, from any tv show or movie, as moving as the one in which Adama and Roslin are flying over the Earth, enjoying the view of “so much life.” As Laura’s hand falls to her side, we realize she has quietly passed away, but he keeps talking for a moment. When he realizes she’s gone, he takes her hand, transfers his wedding ring to her finger, and begins weeping. Moments later, he picks out the spot on which he will build their cabin. This scene was understated, yet powerful and deeply moving. It emphasized how comfortable they were together, and how Laura died happy, knowing the human race would survive on this beautiful planet, brimming with life.

The Final Five


  • Tory – Good riddance. I never liked Tory, even before we knew she was a Cylon. She was always annoying and heartless. After she ruthlessly killed Callie, I had no interest in her well being. I couldn’t imagine Tyrol having any other reaction than choking her to death, after discovering what she had done. You have to wonder why she was so much more cold-hearted than the other four of the Final Five Cylons.
  • Galen Tyrol – Chief had one of the saddest endings of anyone on the show. It seems completely hopeless. He opts to be dropped off on a cold island in the highlands, and live a life of solitude, rather than have to deal with anymore people or Cylons. “I’m just tired of people, humans, Cylons, whatever.” He hadn’t had any good news in a long time. Callie died, he found out their child isn’t his, he momentarily rekindled his romance with Boomer only to find out she was playing him, and he learned that Tory did the unimaginable act of coldheartedly murdering Callie in front of her own child. I wonder if he continued to live out his whole existence alone, or if his wounds ever healed enough for him to trust someone again.
  • Saul and Ellen Tigh – Talk about second chances at happiness. This couple had a troubled relationship, to say the least, before the events on New Caprica. Between Ellen’s promiscuity and Saul’s alcoholism, they had a very dysfunctional relationship. And then on New Caprica, Saul killed Ellen because he thought she had betrayed them to the Cylons. Somehow, though, their love was enough to keep them together (and the fact that Ellen was a Cylon brought her back to life so they could be reunited to have this chance). In their flashback, we see Ellen telling Tigh that she just can’t wait until he retires so she can be with him full time, whatever that looks like. In the end, they have all the time in the world to spend together, as they forge a new existence on Earth. I’d like to think that eventually they were able to adopt a child, since parenting was the one joy they hadn’t shared together.
  • Sam – As difficult as it was to see Sam go from a vibrant, healthy man to no more than a conduit lying in a tub of goo, it seems fitting that he guide the fleet to its final destination – the Sun – where it would no doubt go out in a blaze of glory. In Sam’s flashback, we saw him talking to a reporter about the true appeal of the sport of Pyramid: “Those moments when you can feel the perfection of creation, the beauty of physics, the wonder of mathematics, the elation of action and reaction. That is the kind of perfection that I want to be connected to.” In the end, he couldn’t have been more involved in the beauty of physics than to play an integral role in the final human/Cylon battle (by taking control of the Colony’s hybrid), and then to guide an entire fleet through space under his command. It was very touching to see his face as he whispered, “See you on the other side” to Starbuck.

Helo, Athena, and Hera – I am so glad that Helo survived his gunshot wound. And what a happy ending for this little family, that faced so much prejudice, the kidnapping of their child, etc. They will now hunt, fish, and basically have a peaceful, enjoyable existence on planet Earth.

The Ending:


  • I would have been perfectly happy for the series to have ended on the shot of Adama sitting on the hilltop site of his future cabin, next to Laura’s grave, talking about how the view reminded him of her. Since Adama was the heart of the show, it would have been fitting to end with him finally having some peace, finally free from any responsibility, other than for himself. But, the writers decided to add something else.
  • We see Hera walking through a field, and then we jump ahead 150,000 years in the future, to present day New York City. This tells us that the events of the series occurred in the past, and that modern day humans are, in fact, the ancestors of both humans and Cylons.
  • Archaeologists have found the remains of mitochondrial Eve, “the most recent common ancestor for all human beings now living on Earth.”
  • The “guardian angel” versions of Six and Baltar then have a conversation about “Commercialism, decadence, technology run amok … remind you of anything?” And so we’re back on the recurring theme of the viscious cycle of life, death, rebirth… Six figures that this time things will turn out better this time, despite the technological advancements of this society, since something surprising might happen if a complex system repeats itself enough times.
  • At this point we’re treated to the worst part of the finale, a silly montage of dancing robots to the tune of “All Along the Watchtower.” I suppose Ronald Moore wanted to end the series with some nugget of wisdom about the dangers and possibilities of technology.
  • The message seems to relate to Lee’s idealistic view of where humans have been and where they are going: “You know, our brains have always outraced our hearts, our science charges ahead, our souls lag behind. Let’s start anew.” It seems that in 150,000 years, humans managed to get right back to where Galactica and its fleet left off. The open-ended ending to the series left us wondering if the cycle would stay broken, or start all over. I vote for making Lee proud.

Overall Assessment:

  • This is one of the best, if not the best, series finales I’ve ever seen. It managed to answer just about all the looming questions, while leaving just enough open-endedness to let us come up with our own “rest of the stories” for the characters.
  • The main question I am left with is, did the Cylons age? And how did they end up dying? What about Ellen, Tigh, and Tyrol? Athena? Six? Did they just go on living forever, or did they age and die natural deaths?
  • The music was fantastic, the battle sequences were thrilling, and the drama was searing. I cried several times and felt fully invested the whole time.
  • Grade: A+
  • Now that the series is over, I will begin my quest to convince everyone I know to give the show a chance. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed. I also plan to buy the series so I can watch it from beginning to end, to fully appreciate its complex storyline.
  • It was fantastic knowing you, Battlestar Galactica. The world of scifi, and the television landscape, won’t be the same without you.
 

Best Scifi/Fantasy TV Series on Hulu January 27, 2009

A vampire with a soul turns private investigator to make amends for his past evil deeds… A fleet of humans search for a home and form shaky alliances with the Cylons who were once their sworn enemy… A cheerleader turned vampire slayer saves the world time and again with help from her enthusiastic gang of Scoobies… A ragtag band of space cowboys stays one step ahead of the Alliance while also welcoming others who are on the run into their family… An FBI agent, a genius, and a mad scientist work together to investigate strange occurrences with the ultimate goal of unraveling the mystery of The Pattern.

Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Fringe. These are the nominees for Best Scifi/Fantasy TV Series on Hulu. For me, choosing one of these shows as the proposed winner is a nearly impossible task. I’ve seen every episode of these shows at least once (and have seen many episodes of Buffy and Angel multiple times), and consider myself a loyal fan of Angel, Battlestar Galactica, and Buffy. While I enjoyed Firefly, I never became attached to it in the same way as Joss Whedon’s previous shows, yet there’s no denying that it was a unique and well-executed concept. And Fringe is my favorite new show this year. It is consistently fascinating and entertaining. All five of these nominees are worthy of winning in this category. Deciding on one will require me to break it down a bit:

  • AngelMy favorite things about this Buffy spin-off were its fantastical story arcs and the evolution of its characters. Cordelia, once a shallow actress wannabe, transformed into a warrior of the people and, literally, a higher being. Wesley went from being a prissy bookworm to a smooth talking, motorcycle riding, James Bond type of hero. (I miss him most of all.) All the main characters faced great crises at some point, and things were rarely resolved in a nice and neat way. (I still am deeply saddened when I think about Fred’s horrible fate, and the way it affected all of her friends.) As for the story arcs, one of the best ones was at the end of season two when the gang found themselves in Lorne’s home world of Pylea. I loved everything about these episodes, from Angel’s true demon appearance being unleashed, to the Pyleans calling humans “cows” and enslaving them. Angel was one of those rare shows that got better with age. The final season was my favorite one. It was sad to see it go when it was at the top of its game.

  • Battlestar GalacticaI love the scifi aspects of this epic show, but it is the human drama that makes it truly memorable. President Roslin was thrust into the role of leader of the human race, fresh off of the news that she was battling cancer. Admiral Adama struggles to maintain his military authority while also trying to make up for lost time with his son Lee. Gaius Baltar may be insane, he may be brilliant, or he may be somewhere in between, but he is definitely guilt-ridden over his part in the near-extinction of the human race. Every character has a well-developed personality and believable struggles. And no one can say that the story is predictable or formulaic. So much has happened, and there’s so much time between seasons, that I feel like I need a refresher course just to keep up with the mythology. Once the series comes to an end, I plan to rewatch it from start to finish, in a relatively short amount of time, so that I can fully appreciate the connections and the ongoing trials and triumphs of the characters. I should also mention that the special effects are always impressive – this is an important aspect to a scifi/fantasy show.

  • Buffy the Vampire SlayerThis is a show that grew on me over time. My initial impression of it didn’t amount to much more than a “those demon costumes look silly and fake.” Of course, I came in late in the game – in the middle of season five. Once I started from the beginning (which was easy to do when FX was showing two episodes a day), I quickly grew to appreciate the fast-paced dialogue, the unusual happenings on the Hellmouth, and the way that the show combined fantasy with real life issues. The show had its ups and downs over the years (Once More with Feeling and the season with Glory = up, Slayers in Training and the Adam story arc = down), but once I got to know the characters, it didn’t really matter where they went or what they did. I was happy to be along for the ride.

  • FireflyA Western in space. As far as I know, this idea had never been made into a tv show before this little scifi western that could came alone. Well, it only kind of could, since it didn’t last a full season on Fox. But it has had a healthy and successful afterlife on DVD. Like all of Joss Whedon’s shows, this one features distinctive characters that we either love, or hate to love. There was fearless Mal, loyal Zoe, comical Wash, opportunistic Jayne, enigmatic River, etc. In addition to the crew’s ongoing run-ins with The Alliance, Whedon created another truly frightening enemy in the Reavers, a group of cannibalistic nomads that wander the outer reaches of space. This show barely had time to get its footing before it was canceled, but it managed to create a loyal (and well-deserved) following in that time.

  • Fringe – I started singing this show’s praises right after the pilot aired. It’s smartly written, well-acted, has interesting special effects, and seems to have unlimited possibilities with where the story could go. I actually like Joshua Jackson more in his role as Peter Bishop than I liked him as Pacey on Dawson’s Creek (pause for the customary “gasp!” from all the Joey/Pacey ‘shippers). Lance Reddick is appropriately mysterious as Agent Broyles, Anna Torv plays Olivia Dunham as a determined but slightly stressed young agent, and the rest of the cast rounds out very well. John Noble is the stand-out as Walter Bishop. He has so many great moments on the show, and I love his basement lab at Harvard, complete with a dairy cow and plenty of gadgets and gizmos. The search for The Pattern is a mythology-in-the-making worthy of the X-Files, and perhaps we will even receive more answers than the X-Files ever gave us. I hope this show is given at least a few seasons to take us to new places.

So now comes the hard part. Separating the great from the… great:

  • I will eliminate Fringe first, because with as new as it is, it hasn’t had a chance to prove that it is as deserving of the award as some of the heavyweights in this category.
  • For a similar reason, I will take Firefly out of consideration, because it’s hard to value one season of it as much as the many seasons of Angel, Buffy, or BSG.
  • This is where it gets really hard. I have trouble deciding whether I liked Buffy or Angel better, but in the end I guess I would go with Buffy – if I had to choose one or the other. Angel was a great show, but when I go back and watch it now, it doesn’t feel like as much of a classic as Buffy still does.
  • So, that leaves me with two super worthy contenders: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica. I am leaning toward Battlestar Galactica, as its production values are slicker (I’m sure it has a bigger budget), and it tackles slightly more grandiose themes concerning the human condition, questions of what makes life worth living, etc. (Buffy held its own in the thematic arena, though, but on a smaller scale.)

As of this moment, I stand ready to cast my vote for Battlestar Galactica as the best Scifi/Fantasy tv show on Hulu. If you believe one of the other four nominees is more deserving, please make an argument on its behalf. I just may change my mind!

 

Eclaire’s Favorite Things: TV Edition January 7, 2009

In a previous post, I sang the praises of my favorite household and food items. Now I’m moving on to a topic near and dear to my heart – and more in keeping with the usual content of this blog: television! All of my picks are from current tv shows.

Favorite Shows

  • Comedy: 30 Rock – 30 Rock has replaced The Office as my favorite comedy because it is consistently funny, and often manages to surprise me, whereas The Office is hit and miss this season
  • Drama: Lost – I am so excited about the return of my very favorite show! It is science fiction, drama, romance, action, and suspense all rolled into one. I deemed it my top pick when I listed my Top Ten All-Time Favorite TV Shows.
  • Science Fiction: Battlestar Galactica – This show may be great science fiction, but it surpasses its genre to be an outstanding drama as well. I can’t wait to find out who is the final Cylon, and what will become of our favorite band of galactic travelers.
  • New Show: Fringe – Fox has produced some great one-hour shows in recent years – House, Bones, 24, and now Fringe. Part X-Files, part CSI, its unusual cases of the week are enhanced by its well-developed characters. I’ve really missed it during its winter break.
  • Premium Channel Show: Dexter – I just love this show! Too bad I have to wait until the summer after it airs on Showtime to watch it, when it is released on DVD. At least it’s always worth the wait.

Favorite Characters

Eric and Tami from Friday Night Lights

  • TV Dad: Coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights – He’s a good dad to Julie, a good husband to Tami, and a good father figure to many of his players, including Riggins, Saracen, and Smash.
  • TV Mom: Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights – I liked how the show developed her character during season two (I will be watching season three on NBC starting this month) – the postpartum depression, balancing her responsibilities as a mom and a guidance counselor, taking on the role of volleyball coach, etc. I can’t think of a more realistic female character on tv, or a more likable one.
  • Unsung Hero: Sawyer on Lost – Jack usually gets all the glory, but these days I prefer Sawyer. And while he started off more of a con artist, not to be trusted, he now goes out of his way to help other people. I wonder what he whispered to Kate before jumping out of the helicopter.
  • Incompetent Boss: Michael Scott on The Office – One redeeming quality about this character, who sometimes seems like a hopeless case, is that he really does care about his employees. So while he often messes everything up or makes everyone feel awkward, he usually means well. This is the reason I keep rooting for him. Now if only Holly could be transferred back to Scranton. They were such a good match!

  • Keen observer: Patrick Jane on The Mentalist – This show has grown on me a lot, after a lackluster start (only because I was always able to spot the killer right away). I wonder if the casting director listened to similar complaints, because now the murderer of the week isn’t always played by a familiar guest actor. Despite this complaint, one thing that I’ve always loved about the show is its star, Simon Baker. He is great in the role of Patrick Jane, a widower who is trying to find the man who murdered his wife and daughter, and who also happens to have great powers of observation, to the point of seeming psychic. Patrick is charming, witty, and doesn’t always play by the California Bureau of Investigation’s rules as he assists the agents in solving violent crimes.

  • Morally/Ethically Questionable Character: Dexter Morgan on Dexter, Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica – Maybe it’s strange to choose a serial killer and a former president/current spiritual leader for this category. But when you take a deeper look at Dexter and Gaius, the serial killer seems to have a better value system. I mean, at least Dexter has a system for sorting out good and bad people, and he believes in punishing those who do horrible things. He also (as of season two) has a loving, if strained, relationship with Rita and her two kids. Gaius, on the other hand, can be best described as wishy-washy. He is a complete egotist and self-preservationist. He lies, manipulates, and charms his way into or out of situations, depending on what’s best for him. It’s difficult to know when, if ever, he is showing genuine compassion or interest in someone. His relationships have been equally self-serving. So why do I like Gaius? I guess because despite everything he has done, I feel sorry for him. Plus, he’s a very entertaining character. Dexter, on the other hand, I love because he is such an interesting character, and because he is played by the amazing Michael C. Hall.

  • Crazy Person: Walter Bishop on Fringe – I mentioned above that I love all the characters on Fringe. I am particularly impressed by John Noble as Dr. Bishop. This character is so far removed from his role on 24 as Anatoly Markov that I hardly recognized him. While Noble’s acting is top notch, credit must also go to the writers for creating such a quirky character.
  • Genius: Peter Bishop on Fringe – Taking on the role of Peter, Walter’s son, has given Joshua Jackson a chance to move beyond Pacey Witter in my mind. He was well cast here, and is as charming as ever. In fact, I like him more on this show than I did way back when on Dawson’s Creek.
  • Sidekick: Barney on How I Met Your Mother – I could have put Barney in the morally questionable category with Dexter and Gaius, given his unapologetic player’s mentality. Somehow, though, it is only amusing when he lies, manipulates, and charms his way into women’s beds. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a good friend that allows me to overlook his less pristine qualities. And I’ve enjoyed the revelation that he’s in love with Robin. It’s given us a chance to see a softer side of his character.

  • Troubled Teen: Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights – He’s an outsider, misunderstood, abandoned by his parents, but has a heart of gold. Kind of. Riggins is one of those characters who is good for comic relief, but who also demonstrates how good Friday Night Lights is at developing its characters. He could have just been the token slacker on the football team, but instead we’ve been offered glimpses into why he’s the way he is. Yes, he’s a slacker, but he’d like to be more than that, which is why we always cheer him on.

  • Leader: Laura Roslin, William Adama on Battlestar Galactica – I’ve loved watching Roslin and Adama’s relationship evolve from hostile to cordial to friendly to loving. It’s been heartbreaking to watch her struggle again with cancer, and Adama right there with her. It is rare to see such a deep, well-developed relationship between an older couple in today’s television landscape. All the more reason to love these characters.
  • Possibly Evil Mastermind: Ben on Lost – Oh, Benjamin Linus and his shifty eyes. You can never tell if he’s telling the truth or simply manipulating the situation to his advantage. But after he had to watch his daughter die (how heartbreaking was that?!), I feel more empathy for him. And now that we know that he is following someone else’s orders, he doesn’t seem so evil. I liked the direction the show took his character at the end of last season: Benjamin Linus, secret agent.
  • Tag Team: Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock – What a fun, comic duo they are! Goofy, sarcastic Liz and serious, even-tempered Jack. They are the best reason to watch 30 Rock.
  • New Character on a Returning Show: Holly on The Office – I am always skeptical of new characters on shows that have an established cast, so I was surprised by how much and how quickly I loved Holly. Too bad she was transferred out of Scranton so quickly. Perhaps we haven’t seen the last of her? (fingers crossed!)

  • Secondary Character on a Comedy: Toby on The Office, Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock – Poor Toby. He tries to move to Costa Rica and ends up having a horrible experience. He comes back to Scranton and has to put up with Michael’s constant insults of him. What did Toby do to incur so much of Michael’s hatred? Is it just that he’s the HR guy? It’s sad, but in a funny way. Kenneth, on the other hand, is an absurd character. He is so full of life and enthusiasm that you just can’t help but laugh. He’s had some stand-out moments this season, such as his success as an elevator jokester, and his frozen fist pump to celebrate the Night Court reunion.
  • Secondary Character on a Drama: Sun on Lost, Annie on Life on Mars – Sun has always been my favorite female character on Lost, and perhaps the most interesting one as well. I am still in denial that Jin died in the boat explosion – I’ve loved their relationship. The episode about Sun having their baby (flash forward) and Jin rushing to the hospital (flashback) was sneaky and almost cruel to viewers, but it succeeded at giving his death more emotional impact. Annie on Life on Mars is a sunnier character, with her golden hair and a smile on her face. It’s nice to have a little sunshine in the otherwise testosterone heavy police department.
  • Cute couple: Jim and Pam on The Office – Jim and Pam have been a lovable couple from season one, and now that they are together, they are even more so. I’ve enjoyed seeing their ups and downs this season and hope that the writers don’t force a break-up. Since the show doesn’t revolve around just their relationship, I don’t think it’s necessary to mess with a good thing.

  • Destined for each other couple: Penny and Desmond on Lost – What an epic love story these two have! In the season four episode The Constant, viewers had the satisfaction of witnessing their reunion. How perfect was it that Penny answered the phone?! (Now that I think of it, I can’t remember if all that happened in one episode – I need to rewatch that season!) I fear that it might not be all smooth sailing for these two in the future, since Ben has vowed to find Penny and kill her to take revenge on Charles Widmore, who he blames for Alex’s death.

  • Couple with issues: Apollo (Lee) and Starbuck (Kara) on Battlestar Galactica – Issues, for sure, but these two have great chemistry. The first strike against them is that Starbuck used to be involved with Lee’s brother. Strike two is that Kara went and got married right after she proclaimed her undying love for Lee. That’s messed up! Now, from what I remember of last season, they are back to being friends. Let’s see these two crazy kids get back together before the show ends!

  • Good-Guy Cop: Sam Tyler on Life on Mars – Sam is a lovable character for many reasons. He’s attractive (always important on a tv show, am I right?), he cares about people, he’s fun, and he’s making the most of a weird situation. What would you do if you woke up in 1973? I would probably curl into a ball and stay in bed, hoping I’d wake up soon. Instead, he just goes on with his life, solving crimes, and trying to put together the pieces to explain what happened to him.
  • Villain who died an untimely death: Adam on Heroes – Once David Anders was gone, I had no reason left to continue watching the show. In fact, Adam was about the only reason I watched Season Two, much less Season Three.

  • Good Guy who died an untimely death: Warrick Brown on CSI – I’ve heard about his personal issues, and I know that his contract was up and he was getting expensive to keep around. But, he was my favorite character, and his presence is missed this season. It was fun to watch him and Nick interact, and he was always so super cool. He exuded coolness even while walking across a room. That being said, the episodes revolving around his death were well done, so at least he got a proper send-off.

Favorite Music


  • Theme Song: The Office, Dexter – Both of these shows’ theme songs perfectly fit their tone. The Office music is goofy and fun, and Dexter’s opening has a Miami flair while also being slightly disturbing. I love them both!
  • Creepy Atmospheric Music: Fringe – From the opening credits to the ending scene, the music on Fringe is appropriately creepy and intense, and is another one of the reasons I love the show.
  • Era-Defining Music: Life on Mars – Where else can you hear Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, and other 70s icons in one place, besides a personal playlist? The music is what sealed the deal to keep me watching this show. It adds just the right tone to make me feel like I’m watching a show from another time. Plus, it has reminded me of some really great music from the 70s that I’d otherwise never think to listen to.

Related Post

Stay tuned for my favorite movie and music-related things.

 

From Sesame Street to 30 Rock: A TV Viewing Timeline June 1, 2007

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My earliest memories of watching TV include images of Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and Snuffleupagus (back when he was Big Bird’s “invisible” friend). I’ve waded through many shows since then, of varying degrees of quality and appeal. Here’s a glimpse into what my TV viewing was like at various stages of my life. I am sure I will leave some things out, but these are the shows that left the biggest mark in my mind. And a special thanks goes to wikipedia for having such clear and detailed information about every U.S. network television primetime schedule since 1946. Craziness!

Click here to peruse Wikipedia’s Primetime TV Schedule Pages

Early 1980s

  • Sesame Street – I loved the time I spent on Sesame Street with The Count, Oscar the Grouch, Maria, Bob, and the whole gang.
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – The Land of Make-Believe. The trolley. The fish tank. Need I say more? Mister Rogers was a great tv neighbor for kids everywhere. There is no one like him for today’s kids.
  • Today’s Special – Remember this one? The concept sounds disturbing, but somehow I loved it as a pre-schooler: a mannequin in a department store comes to life at night when a magical hat is put on his head. He is joined by a store employee named Jodie, a puppet security guard, a giant mouse, and a talking computer, and together they have fun and learn new things. If you would like to do some more reminiscing, check out this very thorough fan site devoted to the show: Today’s Special Fan Website

Mid-1980s

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  • The Cosby Show – I watched the Huxtables through most of their tv lives, and enjoyed watching all the kids grow up while I did.
  • Who’s the Boss – This was one of my favorites during the ’80s. Who didn’t love Sam, played by cute little Alyssa Milano? I even had a poster of the cast hanging up in my room!
  • The Dukes of Hazard – Ah, the Duke boys. I don’t remember much about this show except for the General Lee (someone in my hometown had an exact replica that they proudly parked in front of their house) and the winding roads of the chase scenes. There was a winding, dirt road (at least that’s how I remember it) that we would take as a shortcut to my babysitter’s house, and often as we drove on it, I imagined that I was being chased by Boss Hogg. Based on what I have seen of this show in reruns, there wasn’t much more than cars and chase scenes to remember.
  • The Love Boat/Fantasy Island – I had to keep these two together here because they have always been linked in my memory. That makes sense, since they aired back-to-back on Saturday nights. As a 6 or 7 year old, I really didn’t know what was going on, yet I remember the opening sequence of each show very well: “The Love Boat” theme song playing while a cruise ship sails across the ocean, and Fantasy Island’s Tattoo shouting “the plane! the plane!” while ringing a bell. These were some of my very first television dramas, along with Simon and Simon, and Knight Rider. 24 and Lost seem so far removed from all of those – and so much better!

The Late 1980s

By the late ’80s, I was almost exclusively watching sitcoms – there were so many to choose from! I think I can safely say that I watched more tv during this phase of my life than I have at any time since, which is why I had to divide shows by days of the week. In my quest to jog my memory, I found a tribute to a fantastic collection of primetime sitcoms, with links to their opening sequences on YouTube. Enjoy!:

Click here for classic sitcom fun

Monday nights: ALF, The Hogan Family, Murphy Brown, Designing Women

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  • ALF – We watched a show about an alien who was played by a puppet? Maybe there’s hope for the new Cavemen sitcom after all…
  • The Hogan Family – My favorite thing about this show, besides the fact that it starred Jason Bateman (future star of Arrested Development), was that its name was changed so much. It went from Valerie to Valerie’s Family before settling on The Hogan Family for the rest of its run.
  • Murphy Brown and Designing Women – These shows marked the beginning of my viewing of a string of shows geared toward an older audience. I think the funny, distinctive characters drew me in. I even watched Newhart sometimes, for the same reason.

Wednesday night: Growing Pains, Head of the Class, The Wonder Years, Doogie Howser, M.D.

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  • Growing Pains and the Wonder Years have the two best theme songs of all time, in my opinion. They were both so catchy, and so in tune with the feel of the show. Growing Pains was another show where I enjoyed watching the actors grow up. And I still remember Kevin and Winnie’s first kiss on The Wonder Years. As for Doogie Howser – the adventures of a brilliant teenage doctor – there’s another ridiculous show concept that actually worked. It’s nice that after so many years, Neil Patrick Harris has finally found another memorable sitcom character to play. Now when I see him, all I think is “Barney” – not even a trace of Doogie is left.

Thursday night: The Cosby Show and A Different World

  • Of course I watched the Cosby Show spin-off!

Friday night: And so began TGIF – Perfect Strangers, Full House, Mr. Belvedere, Just the Ten of Us

  • And the catchy theme songs/opening sequences just kept on coming. I’m pretty sure now that none of these shows was really very funny, but those Olsen twins sure were cute, and I always found it a challenge to keep all eight of Coach Lubbock’s kids straight on Just the Ten of Us.

Saturday night: More “old people” sitcoms! – 227, Amen, The Golden Girls, Empty Nest

  • More catchy theme songs! To this day, I still break out in “Thank you for being a friend, travel down the road and back again…” from time to time. We are really going to miss those theme songs when we look back on today’s shows in 20 years. Theme songs and opening sequences are becoming obsolete.

The Early 1990s

As I moved into my pre-teen years, I moved away from sitcoms and toward hour long shows. I still watched some of my old favorites, and added a couple of new ones, like Night Court, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Blossom, but the early 90s shows I have the fondest memories of are the dramas.

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  • The Young Riders – Lots of cute guys riding around on horses delivering packages to people. I’m sure I wasn’t the only tween girl who watched this show.
  • The Commish – How interesting it is that when I watched this, I thought that Michael Chiklis, who played the title character, was like 45. In fact, he was only 28! He looks younger now, 15 years later, playing Vic Mackey on The Shield. The most upsetting thing that happened on The Commish is when my favorite character, police officer Stan, was killed in a car bombing. šŸ˜¦
  • Quantum Leap – My clearest memory of this show is the last image of the series finale: “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.” That caption appeared on an otherwise black screen, and I cried. That seemed like such a hopeless, sad ending.
  • Twin Peaks – My family being the strange people that we are, we would all sit down and watch this strangest show EVER together. Log Lady, One-armed Man, Dancing Dwarf, no problem. We were all fascinated by the bizarre characters, storylines, and mysteries.

The Mid-1990s

In theory, my tv-viewing should have become drastically reduced during this time period, because this is when I got my driver’s license, which would have enabled me to find other diversions besides tv. Let’s have a look at what kept me glued to the tube:

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  • Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – Dean Cain was so cute as Clark Kent and Superman!
  • Party of Five – a pre-Lost Matthew Fox, and a cute teenaged Scott Wolf. Plus, this show made me cry every week. What more could a teenage girl ask for?
  • Friends and Seinfeld – It took me a couple of seasons to catch on to both of these classic shows. I preferred Seinfeld over Friends, and still think it is the superior show. But, during my high school years, they both gave me lots to laugh about.

The Late 1990s

By fall 1996, I was in college, which meant I had my very own TV and VCR on which to record my favorite shows while I was off studying or enjoying my newfound independence. So what shows were worthy of my VCR’s recording capabilities?

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  • The X-Files – This sci-fi procedural remains one of my all-time favorite shows. Mulder and Scully’s investigations into the paranormal were interesting, sometimes creepy, and always entertaining.
  • Ally McBeal – I was lured in by dancing babies, toilet flush remotes, and pet frogs – in other words, by the quirkiness of this show.
  • Dawson’s Creek and Roswell – And so began my love affair with the WB. Finally, a channel had arrived that catered to people my age! I would no longer have to depend on geriatric entertainment like Golden Girls and Empty Nest. Now I had shows about high school students. Sure, some of them were aliens, but I could still relate to them more than the previous characters I had been watching for so many years. Wednesday nights meant heading over to my friend Leah’s house to watch these two shows with a group of friends – a vanilla cream soda and popcorn in hand – with follow-up discussion of the episode always a given.

The Early 2000s

Now I had graduated from college and moved to Alabama to go to graduate school. I didn’t know anyone in my new city, so my tv kept me company. I added a few new show to ones like Dawson’s Creek and the X-Files that I was still watching.

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  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel – I actually started watching Angel about two seasons before I started watching Buffy, which is unusual, since Angel was a spin-off of Buffy. In the end, they both captured my heart, and I still enjoy watching them in reruns even now.
  • CSI – This original version is the only CSI I have ever enjoyed watching. And although I started watching it with an extreme case of skepticism (due to my dislike of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s formulaic action movies), I quickly had to admit that Jerry had uncovered a gem with this one.
  • Smallville – The first season of this show was really interesting, but after the first few seasons I lost interest amidst the continuous “Lana in peril” storylines.

The Mid-2000s
And then came 2004, which as I recall, is when I received my very own TiVo for Christmas! With that gift came a golden ticket to any tv show I wanted to watch, and I took advantage of it.

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  • Arrested Development – There are so many classic moments on this show about the dysfunctional Bluth family, but one of my favorites is a scene where they give their various impersonations of a chicken. Who knew there were so many ways to do that?
  • Alias – This show was highly entertaining and had several likeable characters, including Francie and Will, Syd’s closest pals. The later seasons suffered from them not being there anymore, but I still watched to the lackluster end.
  • Everwood – I loved this show and still miss it.
  • Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars – Two shows focusing on young female heroines, and they both got cancelled this year. I enjoyed them while they lasted!
  • 24 – It’s like a rollercoaster that lasts for 5 months!
  • Battlestar Galactica – It’s not just for sci-fi geeks! It’s an excellent character drama that happens to take place on a space ship. The upcoming season will be its last, and I will savor every moment of it.
  • The Office and 30 Rock – I can’t think of any other comedies like them. They are both unique, quirky, and hilarious.
  • Heroes – Very epic. And I like the comic book touches.
  • Friday Night Lights – Love it. The characters seem so real, the story lines so touching. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!
  • Grey’s Anatomy – I have thoroughly enjoyed it until now, but it has gotten too soapy and annoying, so my plan is to not rejoin it in the fall.
  • Lost – The best show on television. It will be tough waiting until February ’08 for new episodes.

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So there you have it. Nearly 30 years of tv viewing. Some of it better or more memorable than others. Although this is an extensive list, it doesn’t even mention the after school and Saturday morning tv shows that I watched growing up. I’ll save those for another day. At some point I will also make a list of the best and worst shows I have watched over the years, but until then, I hope you have as much fun checking out the wikipedia primetime schedule pages as I did!

Click here to peruse Wikipedia’s Primetime TV Schedule Pages

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