TV Gal Ventures Outside the Comfort Zone
Last Thursday, Pam took a big step outside her comfort zone on "The Office." In one exhilarating instant, she told Jim exactly how she felt about him, chastised her co-workers for not supporting her and finally came into her own. Oh, you know I was actually clapping out loud.
It was darn right brilliant moment and truly demonstrated how much faith "The Office" has in its viewers. Because story lines that have been lingering all season long finally came to fruition. "The Office" remains a show that doesn't spoon feed its viewers. They don't tell us Pam is still upset no one came to her art show, we just know it. They don't tell us Pam and Jim aren't friends any more, we just know it. It's the small things the show does that put it above all the other comedies on TV (like having the man who called Michael about the interview sound exactly like Jan). It certainly seems as if Karen is a lock to get the job at corporate in this week's season finale (Thursday, NBC, 8 p.m.). But I never assume anything with "The Office."
It got me thinking about the other shows that have stepped outside their comfort zone this season. Let's chat about a few.
This week's episode of "How I Met Your Mother": May I have you attention please. This is a public service announcement. Last week's episode of "How I Met Your Mother" (Monday, CBS, 8 p.m.) was not, I repeat, NOT the season finale. The season finale is in fact this week. So the show already took a big risk by not having the season end with Lily and Marshall's wedding (as so many sitcoms before them have done) and takes an even bigger risk with the directions it takes its characters this week. I found it poignant, hilarious and very, very clever. I can't wait to hear what you think.
A patient dies on "House": In "House Training," not only does a patient die but the patient dies because she was misdiagnosed. The seemingly infallible doctors make a mistake and must live with the consequences of their actions. It was heart-wrenching and made the show that much more compelling.
Hodges tries to solve the case on "CSI": In "Lab Rats," Hodges commandeers the other desk-bound lab techs to solve the mystery of the miniature killer. The miniature killer story line has provided a through line for the season and as with "House," sometimes story lines are more compelling when the case isn't neatly wrapped up by the end of the hour. Plus, I'm a huge fan of Wallace Langham (as are you guys, he was one of your top picks for favorite less is more actors) so I was thrilled for him to have more screen time. Now if I need to get him dating Chloe over on "24" so they can kick it "Veronica's Closet" style.
Nikki and Paulo die on "Lost": This is a show that always thinks outside the box, but I found "Expose" particularly witty. Clearly, no one liked these guys (where did they come from? Are we really supposed to believe they've been there the whole time? Why are they so boring?) yet the writers found a way to suddenly make dull characters interesting and actually made us care about their death. I also loved the "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead" aspect. Nikki and Paulo were the main characters of their story, just not ours.
What other shows do you think have taken risks this season? Which shows do you wish would take more risks? Write me at email@example.com and let me know.
Best News of the Week
NBC has officially picked up "Friday Night Lights" for next season. So let's do our dance of joy and then let's all hold hands and think good thoughts about "Veronica Mars."
You there in Idaho: start thinking good thoughts. Okay, now everybody's with me.
This week all the networks announce their line ups for next fall. Here's the schedule:
Monday, May 14 -- NBC
Tuesday, May 15 -- ABC
Wednesday, May 16 -- CBS
Thursday, May 17 –- CW and FOX
Just keep thinking good thoughts. It's worked so far for "Friday Night Lights" and "30 Rock."
Quotes of the Week
"You don't want to be happy. You're a drama junkie. When there is no drama, you create it." Toni, the hiking guide, to Susan on "Desperate Housewives."
"You are a car wreck. I'd feel sorry for you if you weren't so vicious." Nora to Holly on "Brothers & Sisters."
"You don't want my daughter living at your house." Holly to Nora on "Brothers & Sisters." Thanks to Jeff for the quote.
"I was one of the people smart enough to make sure that I didn't end up in that ditch. Which makes me smarter than you, John." Ben to Locke before shooting him on "Lost." I am so freaked out by "Lost" these days.
"Jim, I called off my wedding because of you and now we're not even friends any more." Pam to Jim on "The Office."
"You look different. New haircut?" Jordan to Alexis, who used to be her boyfriend, on "Ugly Betty."
"Can you do something with the hair? It's just so 'Melrose Place.'" Jim to Cheryl on "According to Jim." Thanks to Aaron and Jeff for the quote.
"Someone would pay big money for this hot nerd-on-nerd action." Logan to Mac on "Veronica Mars." Thanks to Beth for the quote.
"Running from the law wasn't as easy as they made it look on 'The Dukes of Hazzard.'" Joy to Earl on "My Name Is Earl." Thanks to Michelle for the quote.
"It's for the bride." Barney's rallying cry on "How I Met Your Mother."
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Doris and Catherine were the first people to recognize this week's most popular familiar face. Ellen Greene played Sylar's doomed mother on "Heroes." She is best known as Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors."
Cass was the first to recognize Lyndsy Fonseca as Addie on "House." She plays the daughter on "How I Met Your Mother."
Joe recognized Greg Evigan was Travers' one dad on "Desperate Housewives." Evigan was Joey on "My Two Dads," Dr. Dan Hathaway on "Melrose Place" and, of course, BJ of "BJ and the Bear." Rusty Schwimmer was Susan's hiking guide. We saw her as the mechanic Sylar killed on "Heroes" and she was also on "Shark," "Without a Trace" and "Criminal Minds" this season. She also played Barbara on "The Guardian."
Sarah and Neil caught Suzanne Cryer as the fan waiting for Paul Rudd in his hotel room on "Veronica Mars." We saw her a few weeks ago as the adoptive mother of Izzie's baby on "Grey's Anatomy" and she was Ashley on "Two Guys and a Girl."
Aaron recognized Samantha Mathis was Olivia, young Ben's school teacher on "Lost." She starred in movies including "How to Make an American Quilt," "The American President," and "Broken Arrow." Linda recognized Carrie Preston, the real life wife of Michael Emerson (Ben), played Ben's mother on "Lost."
Justina Machado was Betty's cousin on "Ugly Betty." She was Vanessa on "Six Feet Under."
Less is More
A few weeks ago I wrote a column about actors who do so much with their limited screen time. I asked you who were some of your favorite "less is more" actors and here are your top picks:
Michael Urie and Becki Newton as Marc and Amanda on "Ugly Betty": As the snarkiest sidekicks a girl could ask for, Newton and Urie infuse each of their scenes with hilarity. But what really makes them stand out is that they haven't allowed their characters to become utter caricatures. They still have heart.
Robert Maschio as The Todd on "Scrubs": With a clever double entendre, let's give a high five to Maschio who I'm always happy to see in any episode he slyly pops up in.
Jack McBrayer as Kenneth on "30 Rock": Anyone who can hold their own against Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and guest star Will Arnett is a true find.
Jesse Plemons as Landry on "Friday Night Lights": Come on. How can you not love him?
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for May 14 to 20
I don't think I'm ready to say goodbye to "Gilmore Girls" (Tuesday, CW, 8 p.m.) It's all too sudden. I haven't had enough time to prepare. Because even though you all know I complained over the years, it was because I loved this show. I think I'm still in the denial stage of grief. I actually do really like the fact that Logan and Rory broke up because it was so very believable. I'll have much to say about the series finale next week.
So I'm going with the idea that the island will save Locke on "Lost" (Wednesday, ABC, 9 p.m.). Who's with me?
It's the season, but hopefully not series, finale of "Crossing Jordan" (Wednesday, NBC, 9 p.m.). Jordan and all her friends who are in the opening credits are in a plane crash. Will they survive? Will these tragic circumstances finally bring Jordan and Woody together? As long as they weren't flying Oceanic Air, they should all be okay.
I know "Ugly Betty" (Thursday, ABC, 8 p.m.) is based on a telenovela but I really want to go on record as saying I don't want anyone to die on this series. I also would like the show get back to one of my favorite things: the friendship between Daniel and Betty. I'm not really interested in seeing Daniel as a drug addict. This week is the season finale so make sure to tune in.
Since last May, the romance between Sara and Grissom has been a secret between the couple and the viewers. But Sara is kidnapped in the season finale of "CSI" (Thursday, CBS, 9 p.m.) and that means Gil is going to have to come clean.
Now what do we think of this whole J.D. still has feelings for Elliot direction on "Scrubs" (Thursday, NBC, 9 p.m.)? I don't think I'm quite picking up what the show's putting down on this one. J.D. and Elliot had great closure and this isn't something I think needed to be looked at again. Mostly I don't want J.D. to goof things up for Eliot and Keith. What do you think?
So here's what I have to say about food fights. As an adult woman, I have never had been a part of a food fight. I don't know any adult women who have ever been in a food fight. So why is this the go-to move on dramas and comedies. People this is not how women relate to each other and work out problems. And a show as brilliant as "Brothers & Sisters" (Sunday, ABC, 10 p.m.) knows that. The fight between Holly and Nora was fantastic up until that moment. I think I may miss this show most of all over the summer.
That's all for today. I'll be back next week to talk about the season finale of "Lost" and "Heroes," my thoughts on the "Grey's Anatomy" season finale, process the new line up and talk about what's up with women on TV. And don't forget, coming June the annual Amy Awards where you pick the categories, you pick the nominees and you pick the winners. Have a question, seen a familiar face or want to nominate a quote of the week. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.