Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

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.

 

Thoughts on Last Week’s TV November 3, 2008

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 5:11 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I am falling behind in my tv viewing, and I have a few excuses: I’ve been entertaining family, I was out of town for the weekend, and I am adjusting to my baby’s newfound ability to crawl. All that being said, I have only watched a handful of shows from last week. Still on the list: The Office, Life on Mars, and My Own Worst Enemy. Here are my thoughts on what I did watch.

  • Heroes – The decision has been made, and this episode is what confirmed it. As of tonight, I will no longer be watching this show. First they killed off my favorite character (well, I should say my favorite actor on the show, David Anders). Then last week things got unnecessarily complicated and campy again. The glimmer of hope from a couple of weeks ago was short lived. Perhaps I will miss some bright spots for the rest of the season, but I will be content to hear about them from other people, rather than spending 45 minutes a week waiting for them to happen. The acting in last week’s episode seemed particularly exaggerated (most notably Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere, and Dania Ramirez. I guess I’m just tired of laughing at things that aren’t intended to be funny.
  • How I Met Your Mother – This episode about Robin’s old flame coming to visit was a rerun, but I hadn’t seen it before. It was great to see James Van der Beek (good old Dawson) playing a loser Canadian rocker wannabe, and Robin’s embarrassing music video “Sandcastles in the Sand” instantly became a classic moment on the show, joining her previous video, “Let’s Go to the Mall.” Was that really Alan Thicke making a cameo in the video? Greatness.
  • The Mentalist – This episode was better than the surfing teens episode, but I did peg the killer from the first time we saw him. The thing that keeps me coming back to the show is Patrick Jane’s character, and his interesting approach to investigating.
  • 30 Rock – I can’t say enough about how thrilled I am that this show is finally back. I usually can’t stop laughing in between jokes, and such was the case in the season premiere. My favorite development was Jack’s quest to work his way back to the top, from his willingness to start in the mail room, to his horror at learning that Kathy, the inept CEO, was wearing Dora the Explorer underwear “intended for an obese child.” So random and funny! Every character had a chance to shine, and I am loving Will Arnett as Devon Banks. I hope he is more than just a guest star this season.

As I said before, I have been separated from my DVR for four days, but now that we’ve been reunited, I will soon start playing tv catch up.

 

TV Week in Review: October 13-17 October 18, 2008

Like last week, this week supplied plenty of new episodic television to watch. Read on for my thoughts, posted in chronological order, about the shows I tuned in to. Scroll down for the first ever poll on Eclaire Fare, and look for more to come. (This is a new feature that WordPress just added.)

  • How I Met Your Mother – I thought last week’s episode (in which the gang went to see Stella in New Jersey) was one of the best in awhile, so this one was mediocre by comparison. The variety of interventions that Ted, Lily, Marshall, et al have staged over the years was slightly amusing, but I was left a little confused by the end of the episode about what everyone had decided to do. Maybe that was the point. Based on the “one year later” ending, it looks like Robin didn’t take the job in Japan, and Ted didn’t move to New Jersey. Barney dressing up as “old man Barney” to pick up girls was pretty funny, only because Neil Patrick Harris is so great at portraying his character’s shameless manipulation and seeming lack of a conscious. (In real life people like that make me sad, so I wonder why it is funny on this show.)
  • Heroes – After last week’s lackluster episode, I was about ready to cancel my Season Pass to this show. However, I must say that this week’s installment has compelled me to keep watching. It was, by far, the best episode of the season. We didn’t have any of that nonsense with Peter jumping around in the future, or Matt wandering around in the desert. I found both of those stories, with Matt’s visions and Peter’s experiences in the future, very distracting, and felt that they convoluted the plot too much (i.e., at what point does the future change when something else happens in the present, and then what happens to the future versions of the characters). I am intrigued by the revelation that Daphne and Nathan’s spirit guide is not Linderman, but is in fact Matt Parkman’s father. (If you don’t remember, Mr. Parkman’s ability is that he can make people experience things that aren’t really there, as well as read their minds.) And I was further intrigued by the twist that followed – that Mr. Parkman is working for Mr. Petrelli, Nathan and Peter’s supposedly deceased father. He doesn’t look like he is in very good health, judging from his inability to speak (verbally at least) and his being bedridden. But he must be of sound mind since he is rounding up an army of formidable heroes, including Daphne, Matt, Hiro, and Adam (yay!). To what end? And who will they be fighting against? Perhaps Mr. Petrelli isn’t too happy with the way things ended between him and Mrs. Petrelli, or maybe he wants to regain control of The Company. That’s what her vision of the future suggested. I could say more, but suffice to say there is suddenly plenty of rich material for the writers to develop, and even better, it’s starting to make sense! Now if we could just bypass the silly puppet man story. I’d imagine that will only serve as a time filler next week, when we could be learning more information about the more interesting characters: Mohinder going all “Dr. Frankenstein meets mutant spider man,” Hiro stabbing Ando with a sword (I’m guessing he’ll teleport back in time to right that wrong), and Sylar trying to rehabilitate.
  • My Own Worst Enemy – I’ve already devote a separate post to this new show. To read my (mostly) positive review of it, click here.
  • The Mentalist – This was only the second episode of this show that I have seen. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the pilot. Mostly my waning interest was due to the clan of teenage suspects in the murder investigation of a surfer girl who washed ashore. (Didn’t that happen on Bones just a couple of weeks ago?) I tend to roll my eyes whenever television writers decide to make honor roll, Ivy League bound teenagers into (surprise!) remorseless killers. There is usually very little explanation for why the kids turn suddenly violent and psychotic. In this case, “she was gonna tell it” doesn’t cut it for me. So, my problem was with the particular case of the week, but I was still interested in Simon Baker’s character and his powers of observation. Patrick Jane is a quirky, very likable character. It was fun to watch him hang around the beach and draw everyone’s attention with his elaborate sand castle. What appeared to some to be him avoiding work was actually his way of collecting evidence. His trick of finding his co-worker’s hidden car keys was also entertaining. Is Baker enough reason to watch the show? For now he is. I’m interested to see if the supporting characters will be developed anymore. This week we learned that Teresa (Robin Tunney) dealt with her mother’s death and her father’s alcoholism as a child, and she had to deal with her emotions when the case they were working on involved a similar situation. So far, though, the other characters are little more than one-dimensional stereotypes whose sole purpose is to give Patrick Jane someone to impress and, at times, annoy. I’ll reserve my verdict until the show has had a chance to establish itself.
  • Fringe – This episode began with a frightening scene of a falling elevator (hmmm, that happened on Bones recently, too), caused by the electromagnetically charged guy who was riding on it. Agent Dunham and team commenced figuring out who was responsible and finding him before mad scientist Dr. Fisher could do more painful experiments on him. I felt sorry for this guy. He only responded to the ad because he needed more self confidence (that was certainly true), and he ended up unconsciously controlling all the electronics around him. I loved that we heard R.E.O. Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” not once, but twice, in this episode. Great ’80s song, and very appropriate for setting the tone here. We also received some answers about why Agent Dunham keeps seeing the presumed dead John Scott. According to Walter, during their previous experimental procedure, part of John’s consciousness crossed over into her’s, and the visions are her mind’s way of making sense of the “intruder,” since there is only room for one set of thoughts in her brain. Like all the “explanations” on this show, this one is a little hokie, but I’ll take it. I must say that I like Dunham more after this episode. Her interactions with John, her discovery of the engagement ring he had planned to give her, and her working through her grief and confusion all humanized her – something that had been lacking in previous episodes, in which she seemed too mechanical and stoic. I continue to be impressed by this show’s unique mix of humor, horror, conspiracy, and suspense. I loved the scene in which Walter rubbed his wool slippers on the carpet so he could shock Peter. At first I thought he was dancing to some music in his head, so when I saw that he was revving up for a demonstration of electromagnetic charge, I was surprised and amused. I only wish we had seen more of Peter in this episode. Maybe next week.
  • The Office – This was one of those downer episodes for me, with its focus on Michael’s sad personal life. (He wants to be a father, but Jan keeps pushing him away from his involvement with her child, and meanwhile his attachment to Jan is a deterrent to him moving on with a new relationship). But it did have its moments. Let me break it down a little. Funny: Andy mistakingly pegging Phyllis’ baby picture as Angela’s, and then telling Angela she was “being mean” (thinking she was being sarcastic) when she pointed out the funny looking picture that was actually hers. Awkward: Jan showing up for the baby shower with Astrid, when Michael had assumed she would call him to attend the birth. This was classic Michael/Jan dysfunction. Not funny: The “Dwight tests the $1200 stroller” story. It was too over the top, even by this show’s standards. Maybe it just pains me to see someone destroying brand new baby gear since it wasn’t too long ago that I went through that stressful buying process. Realistic: Jim and Pam having an “off day.” Of course this couple would have some hard times while they are doing the long distance thing. It was sweet to see their voice mail conversation at the end, though, when they might as well have been chatting with each other, they were so in sync. Sweet: The big hug that Michael gave Holly after Jan left. Holly’s tears were understandable, after how mean Michael was to her so as “to not offend” Jan. Good for him, though, for ignoring Jan’s out of place request that he not date Holly, and asking her out anyway.
  • Life on Mars – I am loving this show, particularly the clothing, the music, and the whimsical tone. Maybe not whimsical like Pushing Daisies, but it definitely has a more carefree, cheerful feel than other cop shows. Instead of everything being edgy and grimy, we get a suspect running out of a swimming club in a speedo, with Sam Tyler and his colleages chasing him down while decked out in similar swim gear, while fun and funky 70s music plays in the background. My favorite song this week was Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock,” which is both era-appropriate and thematically relevant, since Sam is trying to process everything on his own while everyone he knows is far away in another time and place. So it was nice to see him befriended by his hippie neighbor, who brought him lasagna sprinkled with her special ingredient (a little mary jane), and insisted that he dance with her. I am also surprised that I like Harvey Keitel in this show, since I have been disturbed by the very sight of him ever since I saw him in The Piano (picture him polishing a piano, completely naked – enough said). His character is a nice blend of political incorrectness, father figure in the department, and wise cracking tough guy. I’m not sure what to think of the little robot gizmo that kept showing up and giving Sam flashes of his life in 2008. That’s pretty bizarre, but I like that about this show.

The only show I haven’t watched yet this week is CSI. Well, I am also three episodes behind on Pushing Daisies. I’m not sure if I’ll ever catch up with it.

* If you answer the poll question below and choose “other,” please post which show was your favorite in the comments section so I’ll know what else I should be watching.

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