Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Twin Peaks: “I’ll Have a Giant and a Log Lady, with a Slice of Cherry Pie” August 8, 2009

A wise giant. A dancing dwarf. A red curtain. Sounds like a fairy tale, and in some ways it is, but it’s certainly a warped, offbeat one. I’m referring to Twin Peaks, the short-lived primetime drama that aired on ABC from April 1990 to June 1991. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since we last saw Agent Cooper, Audrey Horne, and the rest of the gang inhabiting this small Washington town.

I’ve spent the past few weeks rewatching the entire series (30 episodes from two seasons). I had rewatched season one about seven years ago, but hadn’t seen season two since I was 13 years old. It was interesting to watch the series from beginning to end in a short span of time, and as an adult. There are certain aspects of the show that entertained me more as a teenager (such as the Andy/Lucy plot), and others that I appreciate and understand more now (such as the grief everyone experienced over Laura’s murder). One thing that remains the same is that the scenes that disturbed me as a 12/13 year old are still disturbing now. I can’t think of any other show that can go from comical to downright freaky so fast.

For those of you who are familiar with Twin Peaks, I hope that reading this post brings back some good memories. For those of you who have never experienced the show’s oddities and intrigue, I hope that this assessment of the show will pique your interest. I will make every effort to be spoiler free.

  • The Pilot Episode – This introductory episode to the series made my list of All-Time Favorite Television Pilots. Everything about it was perfect, from the music, to the discovery of Laura’s body, to the townspeople’s reactions. As a teenager, I didn’t really understand all the fuss over this girl, but now that I am a parent, I found Laura’s parents’ reactions to her death heart-wrenching. And once I was in that emotional state, I was more deeply affected by other characters’ reactions, including Laura’s best friends Donna and James, the town doctor, and the kooky psychiatrist. The introduction of Agent Dale Cooper was also a refreshing change of pace from TV’s typical FBI agent. Instead of an arrogant, bullying fed, he was a kind, cheerful man who was in tune with things that most people were not.

  • The Music – I loved the music on this show, including the theme song, which is on my list of Best Television Show Theme Songs. I love that each character had his/her own theme song, and how the instrumental music was constantly setting the mood (more so than other shows, in my opinion), whether the scene was quirky or ominous. Take for example a scene where we are looking up at a rotating ceiling fan from the first floor. Under normal circumstances, this would be nothing to be concerned about. But somehow, this image, combined with the sound of a skipping record player and some creepy music, sets up one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire series. The soundtracks to season one and season two are available at Amazon, so you can go there to sample the music and get a feel for the mysterious and dream-like mood that it sets.

  • The Main Characters
    • Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) – MacLachlan is an unusual looking guy, with his robotic demeanor and slicked back black hair (at least it was back then), so he was well cast as this quirky, zealous FBI agent who stumbles upon – in his opinion – a wonderful little town, delightful people, and some delicious cherry pie. He comes to town to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer, since there are some similarites to another murder he had investigated. Over the course of his investigation, he makes many friends, and is “visited” by some visions containing clues to the mysteries surrounding Laura’s murder.
    • Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) – Sheriff Truman just may be the most normal person in Twin Peaks. He doesn’t mind going outside the law to get things done with his Bookhouse Boys, but he also stands up for what he thinks is right. He’s also in a relationship with Josie, but other than his relationship with her, he always seems to be on the job.
      • Shelly Johnson and Bobby Briggs (Madchen Amick and Dana Ashbrook) – Shelly is a waitress at Norma’s cafe, and Bobby is a perpetually absent high school student. They are either very brave or very stupid, since they are seeing each other behind the back of Shelly’s violent, brutish, truck driver husband Leo. Shelly is one of the more likable characters on the show, but you have to wonder why she’s involved with a jerk like Bobby. Their plotline is one of the scarier ones on the show, next to the murder investigation.
      • Donna Hayward and James Hurley (Lara Flynn Boyle and James Marshall) – Before her lips were scary and she was on The Practice, Lara Flynn Boyle was on this show. Donna was Laura’s best friend, and James is a loner who spends more time riding his motorcycle than hanging out with the other kids from school, but after Laura’s murder, he and Donna become close and begin conducting their own investigation into the murder. Their relationship is very angsty and complicated, but I like them as a couple.
      • Norma Jennings and Big Ed Hurley (Peggy Lipton and Everitt McGill) – Norma comes across as very normal. She’s a former Miss Twin Peaks who owns the town diner, where she serves excellent coffee and pie, among other things. She and Big Ed, who owns a gas station in town, have been in love for years, but circumstances have prevented them from actually being together. Norma’s no-good husband, Hank, is in prison on the verge of parole, and Ed’s wife, Nadine, is, to put it nicely, mentally ill. Norma and Ed act as parental figures to the younger characters on the show, and are often approached for advice or a shoulder to cry on.
      • Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) – He is the richest man in town, and arguably the most morally reprehensible. In the world of soaps, he is the show’s villain, when it comes to business practices and relationships. He’s willing to do what it takes to get his way, and has little concern for anyone other than himself.
      • Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) – Audrey is Ben Horne’s daughter. She wears bowling shoes and plaid skirts, and dances around her daddy’s hotel lobby acting all cute and innocent. But when no one’s looking, she sneaks into a secret passageway and spies on her father, listening in on his supposedly private conversations in his office. This curiosity is what gets Audrey involved with Laura’s murder investigation and some other complications. She is a hopeless romantic, and falls awkwardly in love with Agent Cooper, who, being the gentleman he is, gently rejects her advances since she is only a teenager. Audrey is quite an entertaining character, perhaps one of my favorites on the show.
      • Catherine and Pete Martell (Piper Laurie and Jack Nance) – On the surface, this husband and wife pair seems more suited for a conventional primetime soap. They got married years ago after wealthy Catherine fell in love momentarily with Pete, a workman for her father. Their love has long since cooled off, and so now Catherine is involved in affairs and questionable business practices while seemingly simpleminded Pete is content to go fishing and make coffee for visitors.
      • Jocelyn Packard (Joan Chen) – Josie is a mysterious Asian woman who is the widow of Catherine’s brother, and so she owns the Packard family lumber mill that Catherine believes should be hers. Josie also is involved with Sheriff Truman. It is difficult to figure out Josie. Is she a sweet, innocent, misunderstood woman, or something more devious?
      • Deputy Andy Brennan and Lucy Moran (Harry Goaz and Kimmy Robertson) – I mentioned that these two were some of my favorite characters when I was younger, and that’s because they provided the comic relief that balanced out all the dark and disturbing stuff. Andy and Lucy are both complete ditzes, and both work for the police department. Their relationship hits a snag when Lucy finds out she is pregnant, and much hilarity ensues.
      • Leland and Sarah Palmer (Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie) – Both of these actors are recognizable from other roles – Wise most recently as the Devil on the CW show Reaper, and Zabriskie as Susan Ross’s mother on Seinfeld and as Lois Henrickson on Big Love. Over the course of season one, viewers witness their different ways of dealing with the loss of their only daughter. Leland turns to big band music and dancing to mask his pain, while Sarah spends a lot of time crying, crawling across the floor, and seeing visions of horses and strange men. Theirs is an interesting psychological character study.

  • The Strange and Unusual Supporting Characters
    • The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) – The Log Lady is a woman who not only carries around a log at all times, but pets it and converses with it. No one else can hear what the log says, but she occasionally shows up at the police station or cafe to relay a message from the log to Agent Cooper.
    • The Giant (Carel Struycken) – One of the early signs that this was no ordinary show was when this giant appeared to Agent Cooper in a dream and delivered some cryptic clues about Cooper’s investigation. I’ll never forget the episode in which the giant appeared to Cooper and repeatedly said “It is happening again.” So bizarre.
    • The Dwarf (Michael J. Anderson) – Also known as “The Man from Another Place,” this dwarf in a suit appeared a handful of times on the show, mostly in Cooper’s dreams. He dances around and speaks in a strange voice.
    • The One-Armed Man (Al Strobel) – Originally he was only supposed to appear once, wandering through the Twin Peaks hospital, just as an homage to The Fugitive, but David Lynch liked the character enough to write a more integral role for him.
    • Nadine (Wendy Robie) – As I mentioned earlier, Nadine is Ed’s wife. She wears an eye patch, is feverishly working on her latest invention – silent drape runners, and possesses super strength. A lot of people complained that she was just too ridiculous, but I appreciated the comic relief her character provided.
    • Dennis/Denise (David Duchovny) – Yes, before Agent Mulder came to be, David Duchovny portrayed a cross dressing DEA agent on Twin Peaks. The role didn’t last very long, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.
    • Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) – Dr. Jacoby, the town psychiatrist, has an affinity for all things Hawaiian, and he wears eye glasses with different color lenses. He was Laura’s psychiatrist, and so he plays a role in the murder investigation. A couple of interesting tidbits about Russ Tamblyn – he played Riff in West Side Story (1961) and is Amber Tamblyn’s (Joan of Arcadia) father.
    • Bob (Frank Silva) – Long silver hair, a jean jacket, and a maniacal laugh are three things that make him a memorable character.
  • The Plots

    • The central plot of much of the series was the now well known question, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Several episodes into season two, this question was answered, and so the initial premise of the show was resolved. David Lynch actually never intended to reveal Laura’s killer, but had to change his plan due to network pressure. The show went downhill after giving viewers the answers, but I am glad that we found out the answer to the question.
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    The Log Lady occasionally provided cryptic clues related to Laura's murder.

    • Another major plot centered on a business rivalry involving a planned housing development and a lumber mill. This was less interesting to me, but at least it made more sense now that I’m old enough to understand what was going on.
    • And in the tradition of more conventional primetime soaps, there were plenty of love triangles and betrayals. When I was 12, I didn’t notice that just about everyone except Agent Cooper was caught in the middle of some sort of romantic entanglement. For example, cafe owner Norma juggled her recently paroled, homicidal husband, and her high school sweetheart Ed – a situation that was further complicated by the fact that Ed’s wife Nadine was bonkers.
    • But it wasn’t just the main plots that drew me to Twin Peaks – the show’s tone and atmosphere are what really made it special. The jazzy music, the bizarre characters, the wind blowing through the trees ominously, an owl hooting outside while a lounge singer serenades the crowd at the Roadhouse. All of these things are what made the show absolutely mesmerizing and fascinating.
  • Overall assessment – I highly recommend all of season one, through about episode nine of season two. After that, the show became more uneven and absurdist, but is still entertaining. So if I haven’t convinced you to watch it yet, here are a few more reasons:
    • Unique characters – None of the show’s characters are stereotypical, and there’s more to almost all of them than meets the eye. If you like interesting characters, look no further than Twin Peaks.
    • Early 90s culture – The clothes, the hair, the technology, all represent the early 90s time period during which the show was made. I love watching stuff from my formative years and being reminded of how things were then.
    • Laughs, chills, and thrills – There’s a nice mix of humor and horror. By horror, I mean disturbing storylines and images, but nothing gory. David Lynch certainly knew how to make an audience chuckle and then shiver, and it’s this strange balancing act that makes the show unsettling.
    • Good conversation piece – Once you’ve experienced the strangeness of Twin Peaks, you will want to talk about it with other people who have watched, and they will be happy to do so. There are a lot of interesting questions and points to discuss.

If you’re new to the show, I’ll leave you with this clip that gives you an idea of its weirdness. If you’ve seen the series in its entirety, keep reading afterwards for my thoughts on how the series ended.

You are now entering a spoiler zone. I will discuss some details of the series finale, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read on!


  • The one disappointing aspect of the show is the way it left viewers hanging after the finale. David Lynch opted for an open-ended finale, in case the show got a last minute renewal. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and so some of our favorite characters were left in the most unfortunate of circumstances. Some of these situation would have been resolved in season three, but now we’ll never know. And some of the plots felt hastily thrown together and not in keeping with the show’s previous tone. Here’s how things ended (spoilers abound ahead – read on at your own risk!)
    • It was revealed that Ben Horne is actually Donna’s father, not Dr. Hayward, who raised her with her mother. In a fit of rage, Dr. Hayward, who up until that point had always been very level headed and calm, hit Ben over the head with a fire poker, leaving Ben unconscious and bleeding on the family hearth.
    • In attempt to draw some negative publicity toward her father’s business rivals, Audrey chained herself to a bank vault. Unfortunately, shortly afterward Pete Martell and his brother-in-law arrived to open a safety deposit box, the contents of which they had been dying to discover. Too bad for everyone who was in the bank that the box contained a bomb, which exploded just after they opened it. Presumably, this killed Audrey, Pete, and others in the bank. I like to think that they miraculously survived, in the tradition of soaps everywhere.
    • Josie supposedly died of fear at the same time that Agent Cooper was having a vision of Bob asking him, “What happened to Josie?” Our last image of Josie is her being trapped in the knob of a drawer in her hotel room. Say what? I hope they were going to resolve that in season three.
    • Agent Cooper entered the Black Lodge, had all kinds of strange encounters, but somehow managed to get back to reality with his new love, Norma’s sister Annie (played by a young, pudgier Heather Graham). Unfortunately, he came back possessed by Bob, and the series ended with Cooper bashing his head against a bathroom mirror and otherwise acting like a lunatic, while Sheriff Truman stood cluelessly on the other side of the door. After all that Cooper went through, it was just awful to see the show end with him being overcome by the evil that he was fighting against. Oh well. Overall, the show was still one of my all-time favorites.
 

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.

 

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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