For the love of…love

Ann and Chris...aww.

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The snow is melting and if we’re lucky it might reach 50 degrees by the end of the week. Love is in the air. And as you know, I love love.

Right now I’m thinking of my favorite TV couples. And I don’t mean characters I would like to see together (there are plenty of those). I mean legitimate couples on TV right now who make me sigh and say “aw.” So here we go with a Valentine’s Day list, dedicated to my own sweetie.

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Here are three TV couples from whom we can all take a cue.

  1. Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) of Parks and Recreation. She’s a cute nurse and his body is a microchip. What’s not to love here?
  2. Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) and Michael Scott (Steve Carell) from The Office. They are so right for each other that it can be painful to watch.
  3. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks) of 30 Rock. These two Reaganites are a real power couple. And now they have a Canadian baby. But they promise to treat it as they would a normal human baby.

I just noticed that all of these couples are from NBC. What do you know? It turns out the network that couldn’t make a good sci-fi show to save its life is pretty darn good in the romance department.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

10 girl crushes: My favorite ladies of TV

I just love the wit and wisdom of Dr. Temperance Brennan.

                                                                         

On the way to work this morning, I was thinking about Bones. That got me thinking about Dr. Brennan, and how much I love her character, which got me thinking about some of the other cool ladies on TV right now.

My co-blogger, Mark, has said that we are in a Golden Age of TV. I tend to agree – there are so many good things to watch right now. Part of the appeal of many of the shows I watch is the strong leading lady. It used to be that such strong women on TV were few and far between. Of course, the ‘90s gave us Dana Scully and Buffy Summers, two monoliths of TV womanhood. But to my knowledge there has never been a time when so many women dominated the tube. And the great thing about these leading ladies is that they are such diverse characters – gone are the days of the token strong-willed woman trying to eke out a living among the boys. Here are some ladies of note.

  • Dr. Temperance Brennan (aka Bones, of Bones) – Leader of squints and lover of guns, she’s a highly objective scientist who blows away the stereotype of the overly emotional woman.
  • Annie Walker (of Covert Affairs) – This rookie CIA agent doesn’t need a partner to take down the bad guys in her way. She’s spunky and fresh, not your typical tough girl, and she’s a one-woman wolf pack.
  • Fiona Glenanne (of Burn Notice) – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You build bombs. You rescue boys. You kill bad guys. You have impeccable style. You have such a sharp sense of humor.  And I love the way you say, “Shall we shoot them?”
  • Debra Morgan (of Dexter) – She’s hot mess when it comes to the opposite sex, and she’s got a mouth like a sailor. In seasons past, her vulnerability bordered on annoying, but this year she has really come into her own.
  • Liz Lemon (of 30 Rock) – LL is the funniest woman on TV, simply put. She’s a proud nerd who’s not afraid to admit to wearing a bathing suit as underwear. Need I say more?
  • Margene Heffman, Nicki Grant and Barb Henrickson (of Big Love) – Three very different women (who I am counting as one, polygamist girl crush), married to one man. In four seasons, each has shown strength of character and vulnerability. The complexities of their relationships to one another go beyond the challenges of polygamy, and delve into the differences between each one’s ideas of what it means to be a woman, wife and mother.
  • Caroline Forbes (of Vampire Diaries) – Not the obvious choice from this show (that would be the main star, Elena), but I really like Caroline. And what’s more, I think she’s a good example for young ladies. Last year, she was shallow and mean. But over time, her character grew (and changed into a vampire) into a much deeper person capable of true friendship, love and compassion. This season, she has weathered her change with grace, and even stepped up to the plate to help Tyler handle his own change. She’s a nice example of how a young woman can transcend the cliques, gossip and stereotyping of high school.
  • Olivia Dunham (of Fringe) ­ – Olivia is a smart agent who follows her instincts. She not only solves mysteries in our world, she crosses to other universes as well. She is a fascinating character, capable of great emotional depth as well as detachment.   
  • Myka Bering (of Warehouse 13) – Myka left her gig with the Warehouse at the end of last season following the debacle with H.G. Wells. But if you ask me, the empathy she showed for H.G.’s loss added a new dimension to her previously businesslike demeanor. But don’t get me wrong – I have always appreciated her focus on being the best agent she can be, and putting that before her personal feelings.
  • Pam Swynford De Beaufort (of True Blood) – Again, not the obvious choice, which would be Sookie Stackhouse. However, I just love Pam. Classy and ruthless, she is equally commanding in the pleather Fangtasia costumes as she is in her two-piece pink suits.

Dear Thursday TV,

Elena escaped the clutches of Elijah, but this is just the beginning.

This note is to thank you for an utterly satisfying evening.

First, you served up a fresh episode of The Vampire Diaries on The CW, complete with a brand new villain, Elijah (after all, Katherine needs to cool off in the tomb for at least an episode). Not just any villain, he’s a super sexy, seemingly invincible vampire with a seriously cruel streak. And you gave us a very bittersweet scene between Damon and Elena, a scene that we’ve been waiting for since these two met. Swoon. To top it off, you gave us a blossoming romance between Jeremy and Bonnie as well as a newfound bond between Caroline and Tyler.

Second, you gave us new episodes of 30 Rock and The Office. What can I say? If I had to pick my favorite character on TV, it would be Jack Donaghy. He needs DIHC, and he’ll take it any way he can get it.

Then, you served up one of the best episodes of Fringe to date. Olivia began what promises to be an arduous journey home, with Peter as her spirit guide. Nowhere is the expertise of the show’s writers more evident than in an episode like this – which seamlessly weaves together overarching mythology with a single-episode storyline. In this case, Olivia and the Fringe team investigate someone who broke out of the amber, only to find that twin brothers have pulled the classic switcheroo, thereby leading Olivia to consider the possibility that she has switched places with her doppelganger.

Lastly, you ended the night with a new episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I have yet to watch it, but I know it will be funny, so thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Your ever-devoted, Thursday-night, couch-potato friend, Andrea

TGIT

Jack Donaghy, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming for General Electric.

                          Thank God it’s Thursday. All week long, I keep busy by going to the gym, watching re-runs of NCIS on USA Network, and catching up with Burn Notice on DVD through Netflix. It’s a pretty sweet existence, to be sure, but I’m always waiting. For what, you ask?

Waiting for Thursday at 8 p.m., when The Vampire Diaries starts and a full night of great TV begins. In addition to finding out what’s going on in Mystic Falls, tonight I’ll be tuning in for The Office, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Jersey Shore (no judging).

Fringe, another great Thursday night show, is taking a break for the World Series and won’t be back until next week. If the previews are any indication, the real Olivia might finally escape the alternate reality and face her doppelganger. Wow – just re-reading that sentence makes me feel like I have finally reached the pinnacle of Mount Nerd. Nevertheless, it’s an amazingly good show.

30 Rock is also taking a break tonight, presumably to make time for something NBC calls “Scared Shrekless.” Sounds like a most unworthy replacement to me. Speaking of 30 Rock, could it get any funnier? A week later, and I’m still laughing about Jack’s line, “I have to go tell Rachel Maddow that only one of us can have this haircut.” And the live episode from two weeks ago was pure genius.

Mea culpa and fall TV

Fringe is back for another great season, along with a host of other shows.

It’s been a long time, and I have to apologize for my absence from Remotely Entertaining. With a full lineup of fall TV, a tidal wave of work and more than a few social calls, it’s been tough to find time to write in the last couple weeks. Kudos to my co-blogger, Mark, for keeping things fresh.

Wow! What a fall lineup we have. Here’s what I’m loving:

  • Fringe – Every season seems better than the last. Last week’s premiere delved into Olivia’s predicament on the other side, and set the stage for another very interesting season. In interviews, I’ve heard the show’s writers say that they intend to fully develop the alternate characters, rather than simply setting them up as ne’er do well dopplegangers. Next week, I’m hoping for a good monster of the week, as this show does mythology and one-off episodes equally good.
  • 30 Rock – You’re my pube shirt. Enough said.
  • Boardwalk Empire – We all knew this would be great, and guess what? It is. From the excellent cast (particularly Steve Buscemi) to the directing and writing to the costumes and sets, this show is nothing short of enthralling. It’s no surprise that after one episode, it was picked up for a second season.
  • Dexter – To be sure, it was a depressing first hour of Dexter on Sunday. With Rita gone, Dexter is definitely off his game. Deb is trying to pick up the pieces whilst sleeping with Quinn (who is quite nice, I might add), and the kids are a wreck. From week to week, I can never predict where this show is going, but I’m on the edge of my seat the entire time I’m watching.
  • Vampire Diaries – This show hit the ground running, and the twist of Caroline becoming a vampire is a great one. Also, I love that Damon continues to be a bad guy and I was genuinely shocked when he snapped Jeremy’s neck in episode one. The werewolf element is also promising, and the show has a unique mythology related to its supernatural elements.

Like I said, there’s lot to watch right now. I also have a few new and returning shows that I’m not loving as much, but I’ll save that commentary for another post.

Wanted: First two episodes of Justified

Timothy Olyphant (of Deadwood hottie sheriff fame) plays the lead in Justified.

I’m always on the lookout for a good, new show to watch. Some of my favorites have been suggested by my co-blogger, Mark (he’s the one who pointed me in the direction of Fringe and Lost), and I also got a great suggestion from a couple of pals about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

This morning, I talked to my dad, who is also a great source of TV inspiration. We like a lot of the same things – Deadwood, The Office and 30 Rock, to name a few. He highly recommended Justified, which is in its first season on FX. I had heard buzz about this show, but was not really listening until my dad told me that Timothy Olyphant (of Deadwood hottie sheriff fame, not my dad’s words, but that’s how I know him) is the lead.

So now I’m really interested, but in a bit of a pickle. The first season is airing right now (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.), so it’s not on DVD yet. So I turned to the Web, but the FX site and Hulu don’t have the first two episodes. What’s a girl to do in this situation? I don’t want to start watching it mid-season and miss the important stuff from the initial episodes, but I don’t want to wait until it is on DVD either. Any suggestions?

Does anyone else watch Justified? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The rewatchability of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

There are some shows that are great, but you can only watch them once. A good example of this would be Big Love, a show I love but probably would not watch repeatedly.

Then there are shows that have a little something I like to call “rewatchability.” This is a term coined by me and the husband. Essentially, whenever we watch a show or a movie we rate it on its quality (using the Netflix five-star system), but we also rate it on its potential to be watched again.

Currently, I am watching It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on DVD. This show has classic rewatchability – it’s hilarious, the plots are simple and there is always some comic gem waiting to be discovered in an episode watched while, say, you are writing a blog post. I love Charlie Day. Five stars of rewatchability, hands down, for his comedic stylings alone.

Some other shows that have great rewatchability for me are The Office, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed. What shows do you find yourself rewatching?

Big Love: It’s like Parenthood, if Parenthood was awesome

I really like Big Love. I’ve been watching it on DVD through Netflix, and yesterday I watched episodes nine and 10 from the first season.

The strength of this show lies in the actors’ talent (Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin) and the character development of Bill Henrickson and his three wives. Somehow, with a concept that is foreign to most people – polygamy – the writers and actors have managed to make a show that is, at its heart, about family.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an HBO production without plenty of crazy drama, but that is what makes the show interesting. The storylines that involve The Prophet and the compound are really gripping, even if they can be a bit off-the-wall at times. And that’s what keeps me coming back for more, because let’s face it – who wants to watch a show that’s just like real life? It’s like this – if NBC’s Parenthood was actually a compelling show it would be Big Love.

I, like Bill, am fond of each of the wives for a different reason – Barb for being the sensible anchor of the family; Nicki for being the crazy and stubborn, but tough-as-nails second wife; and Margene for the silly, but sweet, personality she brings into the mix. And I love Bill’s parents – Frank played by Bruce Dern (you might know him as Rumsfeld from The ‘burbs) and Lois played by Grace Zabriskie. These two play off each other so well. The Easter episode, in which Frank peed in the sink all weekend long to the horror of the wives, had me in stitches.

Do any of you watch Big Love? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ode to Netflix

While most of my posts up to this point have focused on what I watch on TV, I haven’t taken any time to wax poetic on how I watch TV. Mark and I have both praised the DVR, but for me Netflix trumps the DVR as the most innovative way to watch TV.

Specifically, I’m talking about the Netflix Instant Watch service, which comes with the mail plans. In case you aren’t familiar with it, Netflix Instant Watch allows you to stream movies and TV shows from the Internet to your TV. There are a variety of devices you can use – Roku box (that’s what we have), Nintendo Wii, X-box, and others. You can also stream on your computer.

The Instant Watch catalog is impressive – with tens of thousands of movie choices and past seasons of shows from nearly all the major networks. In fact, there have been numerous shows that I started watching on Netflix. Given my rave reviews of Lost, you would probably assume I’ve been watching from day one, but I actually watched the first five seasons from December 2009 to February 2010. Warning: this can become quite addictive and often results in a sleep-deprived, zombie-like state that your friends and family may assume is related to drug use. I also started watching The Office, Dexter, The Tudors and 30 Rock on Netflix.

Of course, for those shows not available on the Instant Watch, there is always the old-school, DVD-in-the-mail option. We have the three-movie-at-a-time plan, and have watched several great shows this way including Deadwood and The X-Files. Right now, I’m catching up with Big Love through the mail. Sometime I’ll talk about these shows.

What prompted this Ode to Netflix? Twas the night before last, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for my two cats. My husband in his boxers, and I in my PJs, had just settled down to watch nothing on TV. When I pulled up the Instant queue and realized The X-Files was added, I arose from my couch and shouted “Yippee!” I browsed to see what else was added, when what to my wondering eyes should appear – Bones, 24 and Arrested Development. I spoke not a word, just frantically clicked “Add.” And as the night waned, I watched 24 with bloodshot, tired eyes. As I dragged myself to bed at an all-too-late hour, I arose from the couch and said with a tired stammer, “Happy viewing to all and to all a good Netflix night!”

Thursday: Big night in

Thursdays are a big night for TV at the Rogers Residence. Not only do we have The Office and 30 Rock on NBC, but also Fringe on FOX and Vampire Diaries on The CW.

NBC is fresh out of new episodes, but that’s OK because I am really excited for the return of Fringe. I love this show, and I have to thank my co-blogger, Mark, for getting me interested in it. If you have never tuned in, I highly recommend you check it out tonight at 9 p.m. It’s like The X-Files on steroids.

Vampire Diaries is also new tonight, and I can’t wait to find out more about Elena’s birth mother and father (I hope). After last week’s episode, I am wondering if Elena will ever forgive Damon for turning her mother.

What do you watch on Thursdays?