Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Football, Ballet, and the Wild, Wild West January 19, 2011

Filed under: Movies,Television — Emily @ 3:20 pm
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Football. Books adapted into movies. Oscar nominees. Here’s how I’ve been entertaining myself during the winter hiatus that most of my tv shows are in.

  • Friday Night Lights: Seasons 3 and 4 – I am so in love with this show. I’m ashamed at how non-committal I’ve been to it all these years. I’d watch, and really enjoy, a few episodes, but then let ten pile up on my Tivo, end up deleting them before I watched them, etc. Not really sure why I didn’t just sit down and watch every episode I could get my hands on. It’s so, so good! This time around, I fell in love with Tim Riggins, a bad boy with a good heart, and even found myself welcoming new characters with open arms (I’m usually resistant to change when old characters are replaced with new ones). From Eric and Tami Taylor’s realistic marriage and parenting challenges, to Matt Saracen’s struggle to deal with his dysfunctional family, I enjoyed every aspect of these two seasons. Apparently the fifth and final season is still airing on Direct TV, so I’ll have to wait a few months to see how it all ends.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire – In a recent post I talked about how much I enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s trilogy about the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander. So I was pleased when I discovered that the Swedish film adaptations of the first two installments were available on Netflix Instant Watch. The first one, Dragon Tattoo, was just as thrilling as the book. It was a great translation from page to screen. The second, Played with Fire, was equally entertaining, but was a little rough around the edges. (Some of the important plot points were rushed through or skipped, and it seemed pretty low budget.) Apparently I am far from tiring of this trilogy, since I am looking forward to the American movie version, directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Social Network), which will star Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist, Christopher Plummer as the Vanger family patriarch, and newcomer (at least to me) Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. Should be a good one!
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – This movie taught me a lesson that I should have learned a long time ago: I am not a fan of movies based on graphic novels. Let’s review the earlier hints I should have taken: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – What a silly, silly movie; A History of Violence – all I remember about this one is the ridiculous cheerleader scene; 300 – No amount of slow and/or fast motion battle effects could impress me enough to finish this one; Watchmen – three of the most miserable hours I’ve ever endured (accidentally watched the extended version…), and I was completely puzzled by the story. And so we come to the Michael Cera action comedy about a slacker musician who can only date the girl of his dreams if he defeats her seven evil exes. I was so overwhelmed by the clever recreation of a comic book and homage to video games, and so underwhelmed by the plot and dialogue, that I turned this one off after 40 minutes. Obviously I did not fall into this movie’s target demographic, particularly since I’ve never even glanced at a graphic novel. I really thought I would like the movie – I can appreciate movies that are “different” (say, for instance, Stranger Than Fiction, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but this one was just too busy – all bells and whistles, no substance.
  • Black Swan – What to say about a psychological thriller set in the world of ballet? It was everything I hoped it would be: a magnificent, frightening, beautiful mess that deserved a standing ovation as the credits rolled. Natalie Portman was terrific as dancer Nina, who slowly unravels under her enormous desire to be perfect in the starring role of Swan Lake. And Barbara Hershey was almost unrecognizable, but fantastic as Nina’s controlling mother. She sent chills down my spine with a subtle shift of her eyes, and made me gasp with some of her creepy interactions with her daughter. The music was beautiful, the effects were appropriately weird, and yes, there were some shockingly graphic scenes that helped establish Nina’s spiraling emotional/psychological state. It’s one of those movies that blurs the line between “real” and “imagined,” which gave it a dreamlike quality. Should it win Best Picture? The subject matter seems a bit too campy for such high accolades. But it’s definitely deserving of some sort of recognition for setting a new standard of quality for psychological thrillers.
  • True Grit – Now here’s a movie that has Best Picture written all over it. Strangely, though, there’s been little Oscar buzz about this latest product of the Coen brothers (No Country for Old Men, Oh Brother Where Art Thou). I don’t even like westerns, but I loved this movie. I fell under its spell from the moment an orchestral version of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” started playing in the opening scene. It’s a beautiful old hymn, and its lingering presence, in different forms throughout the movie, helped create a very satisfying tone of quiet resolve. The song also matched the rugged beauty of the Indian territory that Mattie Ross, Rooster Cogburn, and Laboeuf traversed on their hunt for Tom Chaney. I was very impressed by all of the actors. Hailee Steinfeld was terrific as 14 year old Mattie, carrying herself like a young woman with more maturity and intelligence than her age would suggest. Jeff Bridges proves, once again, that he plays drunken, past their prime heroes very well. Matt Damon really surprised me with his unusually funny role as a Texas ranger who was a little too proud of himself and his home state. These three also had great chemistry (as well as some great dialogue to work with). Josh Brolin used an unusually high-pitched voice as the villain, and it made him even creepier in the role. Like some of the Coen brothers’ previous movies, this one was a strange mix of heavy themes and oddball humor. The result: not your typical Western, but a perfectly entertaining and epic drama. And it’s much more than just a revenge movie – it’s a beautifully told story of persistence, endurance, and camaraderie.

I’ll be taking a big step down in quality when I watch my next Netflix movie. Yes, The A-Team is far from Oscar material, but I’ll give it a look since Bradley Cooper (my beloved Will Tippin from Alias) is in it. I also hope to watch a couple more of the Oscar hopefuls before that awards show airs – perhaps The King’s Speech, The Fighter, and The Social Network. What movies have you loved or hated lately?

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Retro Weekend: Best One-Hour TV Show Theme Songs (Instrumental) July 18, 2009

Last weekend I listed the Best Instrumental TV Sitcom Theme Songs. This week, I’m sticking with the instrumentals, but moving on to one hour shows. I couldn’t just say “Best TV Drama Theme Songs” because some of these shows don’t fit into that genre. Remember that these aren’t all necessarily great shows – they just happen to have some of the most memorable, most show-appropriate, or catchiest theme songs. Once again, rather than try to list a top ten, I’ve just organized them in roughly chronological order. Thanks again to Television Tunes, for taking me on a trip down tv theme song memory lane.

  • Dallas – No, I didn’t just include this long-running primetime soap because I live in Dallas. This show was a bit too before my time for me to be a fan – plus I simply don’t care too much for soaps. But the theme song has that special 70s vibe, mixed with a bold, clean brass section reminiscent of old TV westerns. It’s a nice blend of city and country, and perfectly fits the show.


  • The Price is RightMaybe I’m weird for throwing in a game show theme song to this list, but hearing this song transports me right back to my babysitters’ house, or to summers at home, when I was growing up. It is the epitome of ’70s-’80s game shows with its happy go lucky tune and hip horn section.
  • Knight Rider – Please let me emphasize that I am talking about the original show, not the feeble attempt at a remake last year. Back when David Hasselhoff was still cool, he had a show with a really cool theme song. The guitar, the uber-80s synthesizer, the beat track… it’s all good. There’s a voiceover on the opening credits, but I think it still counts as an instrumental.


  • Twin Peaks – I have recently been rewatching this series on a cable network called Chiller. It is at times bizarre, at times disturbing, but almost always fascinating. The opening theme is beautiful and melancholy, and sets up the strange contrast of a small town with quirky inhabitants and the sinister forces at work in their midst. All the music on this show was excellent, from the distinctive musical score for each character (I liked Audrey’s jazzy song), to the songs performed by a musician at The Roadhouse.


  • Law & OrderI lost interest in this show long ago, and never even watched a couple of the spin-offs in the franchise. My favorite was always SVU, but the original had the best version of the theme song. The tone is melancholy, gritty, and hints at the seedy underbelly that the criminal justice system deals with. I like how the music changes when the opening credits shift from the police to the district attorneys.
  • The X-FilesThe whistling, the spooky chords. What’s not to love about this theme song? I used to whistle along to the opening credits. I guess it counts as an instrumental since there aren’t any actual words.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer This is a theme song that I didn’t like at first, but after years of listening to it, it’s one of my favorites. The funky rock sound is perfect for a show about an epic hero who is sometimes more interested in making the cheerleading squad than in slaying vampires. Plus, it’s just fun to listen to.
  • DexterI wish I could have found a video of the actual opening credits, because that really enhances the experience of the song. A healthy dose of Cuban guitar, mixed with some violent images of bacon frying, shoelaces being tied, someone shaving, etc. The song, combined with the opening credits, are perfect for a show that has a sociopath posing as a regular guy.
  • Friday Night Lights – I’ve fallen behind in watching this show, but I still love it and its theme song. The video below contains the song, but not the actual opening credits. The pictures that are included of the characters give you an idea of the heart of the show: a small town community, a coach who is dedicated to his family and his team, flawed high school kids doing the best they can with their circumstances, etc. The guitar-driven theme has a slow and steady pace that is fitting for the small town setting of this show, with just a hint of an edge to it, since there are bad boy characters like Riggins and Smash on the show.
  • Fringe – This was my favorite new show last season, and it has a brief but perfect theme song. Like the X-Files theme that came before it, this song, penned by J.J. Abrams himself (what can’t he do?), is mysterious and haunting. The string-heavy melody hints at the show’s main focus – scientific occurrences just on the fringe of possibility.

So, which iconic theme songs did I leave off of this list? Which ones do you agree/disagree with? Next weekend I’ll move on to Best TV Sitcom Theme Songs with Lyrics.

 

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. 😦
  • 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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