We Watched It (So You Don’t Have To): The Sound of Music Live

SOUNDMUSIC_KA_HORZ_F3

Before reading, here is what you should know. Molly and I are both HUGE fans of The Sound of Music. Any kind of remake is disappointing and frankly not something that ever needed to happen. But it did happen and we had thoughts about it. But while we both wanted something disastrous to happen (because LIVE television!), we also held secret hope that it would great.

And you know, it just wasn’t the original. But it had it’s good moments. You’ll never hear me doubt Carrie Underwood’s vocal prowess again (after the next paragraph, that is) and there were so many great Broadway-turned-TV actors filling these iconic roles. But for the most part? We were just whelmed.

Thursday, around noon

Haley Bragg:  Tonight’s the night.

Molly Gentry: it’s the day of the show!!

HB: Whoop! I mean, this is going to be a disaster, right?

MG:  a complete disaster and I can’t wait. I hope one disastrous thing does happen

HB: It’s like going to hockey game. You leave feeling disappointed if you don’t see a fight. (Bonus points for hockey reference when in conversation about a Carrie Underwood project?)

MG:  10 points to Gryffindor!

HB: Um, the Sorting Hat has me in Ravenclaw.

MG:  my bad

Well, I watched the making of this monstrosity last week and Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer seem to have zero chemistry. which is awesome and about par for the course when it comes to Carrie Underwood, amIright? She’s kind of like a robot, no?

HB: That’s because Stephen Moyer is CHEMISTRY-LESS.

MG:  so that should be awesome. apparently this is the stage version that they’re doing and not the movie. I’m curious to see what the differences are. I heard the songs are a bit different and there might even be some songs that aren’t in the movie. yikes (http://www.vulture.com/2013/12/how-tv-sound-of-music-diferent-from-film.html?mid=facebook_vulture)

HB: Interesting. I don’t know anything about the stage version.

MG:  neither do I. So, what, if anything, are you looking forward to the most with this Live broadcast?

HB: Forgotten lines. Vocal mishaps. A kid throwing up? Anything to make it go wrong.

MG:  agreed. I can’t wait to see how Carrie Underwood does in a role made famous by JULIE FREAKING ANDREWS

HB: I’m sure that Carrie is a perfectly nice person, I am just 100% not on board with her as an actress. (And not entirely convinced of her musical abilities. See: her performance of Yesterday.)

MG:  oh gosh that was awful. I had forgotten about that. I think she’s a great vocalist with a great range and I’ve never seen her act. but I don’t think it could be that great. I just wonder why she was chosen or if there were any other people up for the role. I would really like to know that

HB: Assuming they HAD to make this (I’m happy seeing it never be remade) who would you have chosen if you were doing the casting?

MG:  oh boy, that’s a great question. these songs are so difficult to sing that I don’t know of a truly GREAT actress with that kind of range. My first thought was Idina Menzel purely for her singing ability

HB: Hmm, I’m thinking blondes…

MG:  are you thinking Kristen Chenoweth?

HB: No way. Too cute.

MG:  right

HB: Love her, but just not right. I’m thinking Amanda Seyfried.

MG:  oh boy. i just can’t get on board with that. don’t get me wrong, she’s wonderful. But not my favorite singing voice. she sounds like a chipmunk with that vibrato

HB: Hmm, maybe. I don’t really know her voice that well. Just that she CAN sing. And is a pretty decent actress with you know, personality.

MG:  i agree

HB:  Plus, she’s beautiful. But not a typical Hollywood blonde.

MG:  yes. she is. what about Captain? who would you put in there?

HB: I seriously almost said Cory Monteith.

MG:  WAH WAAAAAAHHHH. so sad. he would be so sweet in it

HB: I know, it would kind of be perfect.

MG:  I bet you want Paul Walker to play Rolf, don’t you?

HB: TOO SOON, MOLLY.

MG:  I know..

HB:(Perfect casting, though. Except age-wise.)

MG:  I KNOW

HB: Anyway. Maybe someone like Jim Sturgess or Aaron Tveit?

MG:  i like all these people, but they just look so young. I can see Tveit as Rolf

HB: Yeah, I know. I guess they should be older than her, technically.

James Marsden?

MG:  I would get behind James Marsden as Captain

HB: OR Ewan McGregor.

MG:  STOP IT

yes

yes, a thousand times yes

ooooh, Nicole Kidman could be the Baroness

I’m liking our version so much better. We’re in for such a let-down tonight

HB: It’s going to be terrible compared to what we’ve come up with!!

MG:  when do we get to start working for NBC? We still love that network after all these years

HB: Seriously. We’re the only ones that have championed it from high to very, very low.

MG:  and tonight we reach another very very low point

HB: But you know, probably huge ratings.

MG:  oh I’m sure. they can only go up from here

Thursday, SHOWTIME!

Haley Bragg: I love the old NBC logo. LOVE.

Molly Gentry: *high point

HB:  It gives me high hopes for the whole thing, but who knows. And I had no idea about Audra McDonald!!

MG:  seriously?!

HB: (I haven’t looked at a cast list past Carrie/Steven)

MG:  oh nice. there are a couple of winners in there

(Uncle Max)

is it a requirement that you can sing really well to be a nun? It was in Sister Act, as well

HB: Yes – that’s why I’m not one.

MG:  and I bet habits get a little stuffy

oh gosh. here we go

HB: I know it’s supposed to be stage production-y, but that set.

MG:  it’s pretty hilarious. Carrie loves hugging trees. she must touch them at all times

HB: it’s a crutch

MG:  DID YOU SEE HER LOSE HER FOOTING FOR A SPLIT SECOND?

HB: NO! Hilarious.

MG:  that camera almost hit a column

HB:  hahaha. that one nun came in there REAL forcefully.

MG:  yeah she did. they’re so hateful

HB: the music is too loud

MG:  it is! these nuns can sing

HB: THEY HAVE TO

MG:  all. the. time. Audra just said “stop gossiping, b-yotch”

HB: yeah she did

MG:  I’m uncomfortable. Carrie is acting. kind of

HB: Well, she is. And you can tell.That’s the problem. And I think I’ve just pinpointed why I don’t like her for this. Julie Andrews SEEMED mischievous. Carrie seems like she’d be the most well-behaved nun ever. She is killing it on My Favorite Things, though.

MG:  that’s a good point. Julie Andrews had almost a tomboyish/rebelious feel about her; the haircut helped, so it made sense that she was all daydreamy and aloof

HB: Yes, exactly.

MG:  do we know how old the character of Maria is supposed to be?

HB: I don’t know; I always figured early 20s

HB: Here’s the other prob. I just don’t think Moyer is attractive.

MG:  you’re not alone in thinking that. you know who IS attractive? Ewan McGregor and James Marsden

HB: YES

MG:  and Christopher Plummer

HB: YES YES YES

MG :this house is so beige

HB: She blends right in.

MG:  she really does. she has a last name!

HB: I know!

MG:  I’m bored

HB: It just makes me wish I was watching the original.

MG:  for reals

oh man

HB: I kind of hate this.

MG:  they’re getting to know each other quick

oh gosh, carrie is so concerned with her guitar playing

HB: Why are they singing this inside?

MG:  put it down!!

i don’t know. it’s awful

HB: She took your advice!

MG: yes!!i kind of like her dress. minus the shoulder pads

HB: Ha, yeah. I do too.

MG: she should just sign them up for a music theory class

she’s winded and I’m winded just watching this

HB: I know! I also am ready for it to be over.

Oh MAN.

that guy is not just 1 year older than her.

MG: nice socks, Rolf

no he’s not

HB: Why aren’t they in the gazebo?!?!

MG: waaaaahhhhhhh. and she’s not wearing an awesome dress that is perfect for twirling in

HB: And if she doesn’t say “wheeeeeeee” and her tooth doesn’t glimmer I will LOSE MY SH*T.

MG: I’m afraid you might lose some sh*t tonight – I saw in the making-of how this song ends

HB: Oh man.

MG: maybe we’ll have a Christmas miracle

“I am 27 going on 28..”

HB: Right? Apparently they’re around 21 and 22 IRL.

MG: whoa

HB: She looks 12. He looks 20.

MG: at least they can dance

HB: And hug trees…

MG: there was a perfect opportunity for a “wheeeeeeeeee”

HB: PERFECT. Where is the rain?!?!?

MG: guh. how will Leisel and Maria bond?!

HB: It sounds rain-y. But I don’t see it.

MG: she said “it’s going to rain” these nightgowns are great

HB: I feel bad saying this, but Carrie is just not an actress.

MG: weak link. she’s just dull. THIS IS ALL WRONG

HB: WHAT?!?!?!?! Molly, there are 2 more hours of this!

MG:  heheheeh. I mean, I understand why they’re singing this I guess. but.. but, no

HB: It just makes me sad. I thought I had prepared for it to be different, but I just haven’t.

MG: this is way different. and a bit creepy. vocally, she’s killing it

HB: Yes, I agree.

MG: ok. this looks a lot like a soap opera doesn’t it?

HB: Hahaha, yes! Super soap opera-y.

MG: ok, what has she been in? the baroness?

HB: I LOVE LAURA BENANTI. She was most recently in Go On. #Goon

MG:  yes! i knew i recognized her. #Goon #NeverForget

HB: She was also in Eli Stone. Did you ever watch that?

MG: duh I did. #EliStone #NeverForget

HB: Hahaha. I loved that show so much.

Hey, it’s Tom!

MG: TOM!

HB: #Smash #NeverForget

MG: hahaahaha. can we just talk about failed tv shows we miss?

HB: I’m infinitely enjoying this segment of our conversation more than the previous. So, yes.

MG: ditto. her shoes. i want.

HB: She’s so great.

MG: I think this is the song on the soundtrack that always gets skipped

HB: For sure.

MG: she has the perfect look for this role

gosh, Stephen is so angry

Marta is sassypants

HB: Is Carrie unable to stop smiling?

CUE CARD.

MG: she must have slept with a hanger in her mouth. was there a glance at a cue card??

HB: Oh yeah. Carrie.

MG: awesome

HB: Okay, real talk. In the original movie, were there 2 different houses?

MG: hm, were there? I don’t know

HB: Like, the regular home and a summer home?

MG: I was never aware of that

HB: I think it was one of those things that my brain did. When they were roaming around the countryside and riding bikes and things, I turned it into traveling to a different house.

MG: Gretel is adorable

HB: I like Liesel’s dress.

MG: check out that camera angle. ok, this is probably my favorite scene in the movie when Maria and Captain dance together

HB: Is it? Is this hurting you?

MG: a little. I’ve already told myself I’ll be watching it later on

HB: The original?

MG: yup

HB: Yeah, we should watch it together.

MG: done. SNOB

HB: seriously! Spoiler alert, Maria. He’s creeps McGee

MG: I was just about to say that!

weird-o.

these kids. hahaha “wave to the camera!!”

HB: This is wrong.

MG: where’d that cardigan come from? I bet she made it out of a blanket

HB: She made it out of bath towels.

HA!

MG: eeeww

HB: Great minds…

MG: think similarlyyy!

I haven’t paid attention to this scene at all thanks twitter!

HB: Ha, me either. I’ve been reading this: http://www.parade.com/238419/erinhill/what-happened-to-the-real-von-trapp-family/#.UqE6XH4VXgk.facebook

I do love this song.

MG: it’s alright this article is interesting

dang, Audra Mac is good

HB: So good.

MG: ha, Max ended playtime QUICK

HB: Well, wouldn’t you?

MG: yup. I miss the sexual tension between Leisel and the Captain

HB: Gross

MG: it was there, though

HB: Heeeeeey Carrie. That blue does GOOD things for her whole look. Well, that and the loss of the braids.

MG: it does good things for the entire set. oh my gosh he’s awful.

one more hour

HB: The worst.

MG: zzzzzzzzzzzzz politics zzzzzzzz

HB: this is the part that i really never paid attention to.

MG: right

HB: some things never change.

MG: oooh, another skippable track. Can you imagine the original Baroness singing with that smoker’s voice she had?

HB: Hahaha, I honestly don’t know if this is the one that wasn’t in the movie or not.

MG: oh it wasn’t. was that a peppy song about Nazis?

HB: HOLD ON. When God shuts a door, he opens a window? That was NOT in the original, right? Please tell me this movie is not where that is from.

MG: I think I remember it in the movie

no no no NO NO NO NO NO

HB: He went for it in that kiss.

MG: yeah he did

HB: I think tongue was DEFINITELY involved.

MG: oh for sure. I officially don’t care for Stephen Moyer

HB: Yeah, I absolutely don’t.

MG: wedding time! what are these headpieces the girls are wearing?

HB: Um, the worst thing ever. Handkerchiefs? Really freaking big bows?

MG: just bad

this little group of nuns were like the first plastics from Mean Girls

HB: Hahahaha! They are the worst! Convincing girls not to go into the nunhood ever.

MG: so mean

HB: Was that a line forget?

MG: I don’t know.I’m half paying attention. Oh, I just got a kickstart update about the Veronica Mars movie. I think I’ll read that instead

HB: Hahaha. I’m SO excited about that movie!!

MG: SO EXCITED.

aw, that was a cute duet

HB: it was sweet. oooh, i like carrie’s shirt

MG: yeah, it’s pretty

Rolf’s a jerk now. I hate the turning point in movies

HB: It really bothers me that theirs was a love that didn’t last.

MG: they had their whole lives ahead of them

HB: Did he just say storm troopers?

MG: oh no! i missed it. did they?

HB: I think Max said it when he was running down the stairs.

MG: hehe

oh he forgot a line or something. this is awkward

this dress. wuuuuut? and a choker to boot

HB: yeah – it’s like her christmas dress or something.

MG: so festive

“DANCE MONKEY, DANCE!”

HB: Whoa, Nazis.

MG: hey, swastikas everywhere

HB: I stopped being able to hear the words.

MG: me too. their mouths were moving. Haley, this is hilarious

HB: this feels like SNL.

MG: it does.

oh man, this set does look like it’s from SNL

HB: Please do not butcher this song, Moyer.

MG: too late

I guess there’s supposed to be a weird echo?

HB: Yeah, I’m SURE they planned that.

MG: whoa, more headpieces and Jessica Rabbit

HB: Yeah, that’s not what she was supposed to look like.

HB: STORM TROOPERS!

MG: nazi storm troopers!

HB: I really thought that was just a Star Wars thing.

MG: I did too

#TheMoreYouKnow

ahhhh! it’s almost over!

HB: Praise God from whom all blessings flow…

MG: I don’t like how Carrie says “mountain”

HB: moun-tain

MG: yes. I now know that they didn’t escape on foot thanks to that article you sent me earlier

HB: Well, that was….something.

MG: it was an event we will remember forever…or a while at least

Friendsgiving

Friends_S10E08_004

It’s no secret that holiday episodes are a big deal for sitcoms, but there are a few of us in the Culture Poppe family that hold the 10 seasons of Friends‘ Thanksgiving episodes in the highest esteem. I started an email thread last week, where I proposed we talk about our favorite episodes. This is sort of how it went:

Subject: Friends’ Thanksgiving

On Nov, 21, 2013, Haley Bragg wrote:

Hey guys!

I’ve identified you as the Friends fanatics among our group. (I mean, I’m totally including myself in this category, by the way.)
Since next week is Thanksgiving (WHAT?), we wanted to do a couple of posts that a) speak to the holiday. I thought that it wouldn’t really be Thanksgiving if we didn’t do something about the Friend’s Thanksgiving episodes. If you’re interested in collaborating on this, let me know and feel free to shoot out some ideas to the whole group so that we can brainstorm together.

 

On Nov, 21, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

I LOVE JACQUES COUSTEAU!!

On Nov, 22, 2013, JT Landry wrote:

HURRICANE GLORIA DIDN’T BREAK THE PORCH SWING, MONICA DID!!

On Nov, 22, 2013, Laura McClellan wrote:

“And Rachel, no you WEREN’T supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did NOT taste good.”

On Nov, 22, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

“What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooooooood!”

On Nov, 22, 2013, JT Landry wrote:

That’s a lot of informatoin to get in 30 seconds.

We’re a productive bunch, for sure. So, after brainstorming a bit more we came up with some of our favorite episodes to share with you, as well as another email thread in which JT and Molly take the conversation from above a bit further.

Haley Bragg: The One with the Rumor

I love so many of these episodes, it’s hard to pick just one. But I also love a good secret outburst (à la The One where Ross Got High) AND attractive men, so there you go.

1. Brad Pitt. It’s sad watching this now, knowing what eventually happened to Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt. You can’t help but think their contentious relationship in this episode was foreshadowing.
2. The aforementioned secret outburst. We find out that Ross and Will (Pitt) were members of an “I Hate Rachel Green” club in high school that spread rumors about Rachel’s um, anatomy. In return, Rachel confesses that she was the one who spilled the beans on Ross’ romantic interlude with the elderly librarian.
3. “Here come the meat sweats!”

Laura McClellan: The One With All The Thanksgivings
1. Fat Monica. Any episode with Fat Monica immediately shoots up in the ranks for me. I love the way her personality changes and she comes off as immature, but still totally Monica. Friends is great about keeping running jokes going, and the fact that Monica used to be fat is a gem of an arc. Fat Monica also means big-nosed Rachel and the 80’s, which are both super enjoyable as well.
2. A severed toe-tip. Y’all. This episode features Chandler losing the tip of his toe due to Monica dropping a knife on it while trying to act sexy in her new-and-improved skinny bod. They can’t even put it back on, because she brings a carrot to the hospital instead. It is a perfect patch of crazy to add to the colorful quilt that is the story of Chandler and Monica.
3. Chandler accidentally lets “I love you” slip to Monica for the first time, and she’s wearing a turkey on her head. Never mind the improbability of anyone ever being able to fit their head up a real turkey, let alone being able to breathe in there. This moment is a turning point for Chandler and Monica and sets the stage for the rest of their relationship, making this episode a staple in the Friends canon. Plus did I mention Fat Monica?

Brooke Rousch: The One With the Football 

Seriously trying to pick my favorite Thanksgiving episode from Friends is like trying to pick my favorite child (or what I’d imagine that to be like, since I don’t have kids).  There are just so many good ones…like The One With Chandler in a Box or The One With the Rumor (a.k.a. the Brad Pitt episode).  But I think I have to go with The One With the Football, and here’s why:

1.  The sibling rivalry between Ross and Monica for the Geller Cup is hilarious. I think anyone who has a sibling/siblings can relate.
2.  Rachel scores the winning touchdown (disputed, but still).  She’s the last pick / underdog of the game. I just like to see those overlooked individuals prove naysayers wrong.
3.  Chandler’s quote “I wanted to wear my bathrobe and eat peanut clusters all day. I wanted to start drinking in the morning. Don’t say that I don’t have goals!” Ohhh Chandler. He’s my favorite….and we have similar goals.

 

Subject: Friendsgiving Discussion

On Tue, Nov 26, JT Landry wrote:

Brrrr, Molly. I think this is the coldest Thanksgiving week we’ve experienced in quite a while. Nasty winter weather is why TV marathons exist, of course. And I can’t think of a more appropriate marathon for this week than watching all 10 Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. Sadly, neither one of us has five idle hours to our names until Thursday, so we’d better pick just a couple. What do you say we start with “The One Where Ross Got High” from Season Six.

If you ask me, this is not only the greatest and most Thanksgiving-y of all the Thanksgiving episodes, it’s also one of the greatest episodes of Friends period. This is one of those perfect episodes where everything just clicks and sings. Friends always soared highest when its six main characters were put in a room together, as they are here, where everyone is gathered in Monica (and Chandler’s – he had moved in by this point right?) apartment for Turkey Day. And the stakes are high, aren’t they?

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

JT, I couldn’t agree with you more. Especially about Friends being at it’s best when they were all together, and it wasn’t great just during the holiday episodes either. Proof of this is my number one most favorite episode “The One with the Embryos” which takes place in real time when everyone is getting ready to go to a banquet honoring Ross and his nerdiness. “Could I BE wearing anymore clothes?!”

But, I digress.

The stakes were high in this episode for many reasons. Monica and Chandler were living together at this point, but Mr. and Mrs. Geller didn’t get the memo and Monica wasn’t ready to tell them just yet. That’s one revelation blurted out during the episodes finest moment, which we’ll get to soon enough.

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 JT Landry wrote:

Ah, the eruption of revelations – one of the show’s finest comedic moments. We learned a LOT here, Molly – essential information such as the Gellar siblings’ framing of Hurricane Gloria for the destruction of the family porch swing, Rachel’s noble but wrong inclusion of beef (sauteed with peas and onions) in a traditional English trifle and Phoebe’s burning flame for oceanic superstar Jacques Cousteau. It’s no wonder, Judy Gellar was overwhelmed.

It was so much, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook the original heart of this scenario – the reveal that Ross, not Chandler, was the owner of the pot the Gellar parents found way back when, thus bringing Chandler – probably for the first time – into the good graces of Jack and Judy Gellar (“Chandler….stuck by him through the drug problems…what would we do without you?”).

But let’s talk about my favorite plot of the episode – Rachel’s ill-fated attempt at making Thanksgiving dessert. While technically a B plot for the episode, it’s so funny, and Jennifer Aniston is so winning here, that it threatens to steal the episode away from the Monica-Chandler-Gellars storyline. I think you can attribute this to Aniston. Sure, the idea of bungling the trifle is, in itself, funny, but Aniston was really doing wonders with Rachel at this point in the series. It’s still amazing to go back and watch this show in succession and see the progression of this particular character – from a privileged, self-absorbed Long Island daddy’s girl into a really well-rounded and complex character who, if you ask me, was the underrated comic MVP. Sure, Phoebe and Monica’s comedy may have been louder, but Rachel’s comedy had a subtler touch that actually works better for me – and it’s all over this trifle subplot.

On Nov 26, 2013, Molly Gentry wrote:

That is a lot of information to take in in 30 seconds, JT. And I completely agree that the Rachel/trifle storyline stole the episode and is definitely what people think of upon first mention of this episode. It’s perfect, and so hilariously written.

Let’s talk about how Phoebe doesn’t much to do in this episode. I think it’s the one flaw in all 22ish minutes, but her revelation of “I LOVE JACQUES COUSTEAU” and how Lisa Kudrow delivers it at the end of the episode is one of the best ones, so it kind of makes up for it. But what does Phoebe do? She has a crush on Mr. Geller, takes a nap and dreams about Jacques Cousteau. Am I missing anything? Do you feel that it’s kind of a waste or is there enough going on in the other storylines to push Phoebe back a bit? I guess someone always has to be sacrificed a bit in ensemble scenes.

So, you’ve made your love of Rachel/Jennifer Aniston known, but I need to give an honorable mention to Joey/Matt LeBlanc. His (and Ross’) storyline of wanting to eat Thanksgiving dinner as fast as possible to get to the party full of hot models was classic Joey. And to combine their need to eat fast along with having to eat Rachel’s beef trifle is one of the high points in the episode. Can we just get to quoting it already?

“Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Beef? GOOOOOOOOOD.”

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 JT Landry wrote:

“It tastes like feet!”

You’re right about Phoebe getting a bit sacrificed on a narrative level; but it doesn’t bother me in this particular episode. There’s SO much going on in the episode as a whole that her infatuation with Jack AND Jacques serves as a nice seasoning to the narrative. And let’s face it: Lisa Kudrow is an absolute genius and can make any moment, however small, brilliant.

“I WANNNAAA GOOOOOOO!”

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 Molly Gentry wrote:

“I wasn’t supPOSED to put beef in the trifle!”

And, thank to youtube, here it is in all it’s glory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3hn40NlrVk

But let’s not forget probably the second best Thanksgiving episode of Friends, “The One with all the Thanksgivings” when we learn that Chandler hates Thanksgiving and he wears shoes “made of wicker.”

On Tue, Nov 26, 2013 JT Landry wrote:

I couldn’t forget if I tried. The image of newly thin-glam Monica wielding sexy carrot fingers and a box of macaroni is forever seared into my brain. What I love most about this particular Thanksgiving episode – and one of the many things Friends did so well – was the rich backstory the writers continued to generate for these characters. Ross and Chandler showing up in Miami Vice accoutrements and pushing up their sleeves in synchronized glory tells you all you need to know about what their college friendship was like. Flashbacks like these peppered Friends over the years and provided so much rich history for these six characters.

And, Molly, how can we not mention one of the greatest sight gags in Friends history – that fantastic tag with Monica dancing for Chandler whilst adorned with a sunglasses-wearing turkey. Remember – it was that moment that caused Chandler to first profess his love for Mon.

What do you think? Did we get them right or do you have another favorite Friends’ Thanksgiving episode? Let us know in the comments!

Landry Harlan

Landry

Hometown: Fayetteville, AR

9 to 5 (day job): Student (Sr. at University of Tulsa)

1.  Write a short bio of your favorite musician/author/actor/etc. in 100 characters or less.
To watch Chris Thile play mandolin is to watch an artist with full control of his craft. During a performance Chris often closes his eyes and sways, perhaps to the plucking melody of a Bob Dylan cover that somehow finds its way into a J.S. Bach concerto. No genre is safe, from the neo-bluegrass of “The Punch Brothers” to the unique folk sound of the “Goat Rodeo Sessions”. With a 2012 McArthur Fellow award already under his belt, there’s no telling what his next project will bring.

2.  What world city do you identify with? 
Melbourne, Australia (melting pot of cultures, artist’s haven, close to the beach, everyone’s beautiful accent, etc.)

3.  Which pop culture icon is your spirit animal?
Tom Hanks (99% sure we would be best friends)

4.  If you could only listen/watch/read three things for the rest of your life, what would you choose (no mixing and matching – they all have to be in the same category)?
3 Movies: Tree of Life, The Motorcycle Diaries. Lost in Translation

5.  FMK: Trio
F: Mary, She is a fan of one night stands after all, though the last guy who did it didn’t make it out alive…
M: Sybil, She is an ANGEL, I would love her forever and make sure she had doctors who KNEW HOW TO DO THEIR JOB.
K: Edith, I mean, c’mon she’s everyone’s least favorite. The only reason we keep her around is for the googly eyes Edith Tumblr.

6.  What is your favorite celebrity quote and why does it resonate with you?
“There’s nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place.” –Banksy; Changing the world won’t be easy and a lot people will reject you and your ideas. Just a little inspiration to try that much harder. 🙂

Now, where else can we find you?
On Twitter: @landryharlan

JT Landry

JTINTRO

Hometown: Nashville, TN (by way of Louisiana)

9 to 5 (day job): Healthcare Communications / Magazine Editor/Writer

1.  Write a short bio of your favorite musician/author/actor/etc. in 100 characters or less.
While it’s impossible to name one single favorite (I’m far too much of a pop culture carnivore for that), I thought it would be interesting to mention someone who is just firing on all cylinders right now and is having a moment in pop culture:

Margo Martindale – She can chill you to the bone in her role as a Russian spy in FX’s sorely underwatched and underrated The Americans. She (with some assist from Will Arnett) is carrying the CBS Thursday night comedy The Millers on her shoulders. And she’s set to stun film audiences opposite Meryl Streep in December’s Oscar hopeful August: Osage County. Margo Martindale is having a moment. The rest of us are just living in it.

2.  What world city do you identify with? 
New York. There are fewer places I feel more alive in than New York. The people, the neighborhoods, theatre, film, music. It’s all at the heart of New York.

3.  Which pop culture icon is your spirit animal?
Will Truman and Grace Adler DID have a child together. That child was me.

4.  If you could only listen/watch/read three things for the rest of your life, what would you choose (no mixing and matching – they all have to be in the same category)?
Well, I feel like TV has the most well-rounded repeatability, so let’s go with that.

Mad Men – one of the greatest dramas to ever grace the small screen, and so bursting with detail, meaning and fine-tuned characters that I could watch episodes again and again and make new discoveries and uncover more each time.

Friends – I need a comedy, I need one with lots of seasons, and I need one that’s like comfort food. Friends fits the bill on all fronts – each season, for me, is a treasure trove of great comedic situations, perfect timing, relatable characters and nostalgia.

The Golden Girls – Because almost 30 years later, it still feels fresh; and it will still be fresh in another 30. Because who doesn’t need four sassy grandmas in their life. I mean, really.

5.  FMK: Mad Men trio
F: Don, of course.
M:Peggy – that girl is going places.
K: Ted – nobody puts Peggy in a corner.

6.  What is your favorite celebrity quote and why does it resonate with you?
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney.  It’s a very simple statement but it contains a world of inspiration and encouragement, and a reminder to not take yourself too seriously.

Now, where else can we find you?
On Twitter: @jtishere

Haley Bragg

HaleyINTRO

Hometown: Madison, MS, currently Nashville, TN

9 to 5 (day job): Social Media. Yeah, that’s actually a serious answer.

1.  Write a short bio of your favorite musician/author/actor/etc. in 100 characters or less.
Mike Birbiglia is less comedian than he is masterful storyteller of the funny and the heartbreaking.

2.  What world city do you identify with?
Does Stars Hollow count? Despite being a fictional town, I crave the community, familiarity and inevitable lack of privacy that comes with living in a place where everybody knows your name.

3.  Which pop culture icon is your spirit animal?
Monica “Rules Control the Fun!” Geller. It’s eery, really.

4.  If you could only listen/watch/read three things for the rest of your life, what would you choose (no mixing and matching – they all have to be in the same category)?
Veronica Mars for a little angsty suspense, Friday Night Lights so that my heart may go on, and The West Wing so that we may never give up.

5. FMK: Taylor Kitsch, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pine
Eff: Taylor Kitsch. Clearly.
Marry: Bradley Cooper. I mean, I feel like there’s a potential for unhappiness, but at least he’s going to age well, right?
Kill: Chris Pine. Something about him is super killable.

6. What is your favorite celebrity quote and why does it resonate with you?
“I’m the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.”
― Mindy Kaling // Yep. Yep, yep, yep.

Now, where else can we find you?
Twitter: @haleybragg
Web: www.haleybragg.com

Don’t Hate, Appreciate NBC

NBC

(Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from its original form and updated to include new and more timely information. Originally published on TVAsylum.com)

The super cool thing to do these days is to talk bad about NBC, right? To call them out for all of the times that they cancelled shows like Perfect Couples to keep shows like Whitney. Gah. Get it together, NBC. (While it WAS enjoyable, out of the three, six-person friend group comedies that premiered during the 2010-2011 season, Perfect Couples was the most mediocre. I can’t really give you an excuse for Whitney though.)

But here’s the thing. I kind of love NBC. Not in the gross, secret way that I love The CW (get out of my head, Hart of Dixie!) It’s not even the way that I love AMC because I’m supposed to. No, my love for NBC comes from years of them providing a place to watch my favorite shows. And I just can’t quit them.

I think we can all agree that NBC has made some poor decisions in the past few years – you don’t get to be the last place network by making the best choices – but I also think that there’s a lot to be said for what they choose to broadcast. Here are a few reasons why I think you should cut the Peacock some slack:

Must See TV – Thursday night’s Must See TV on NBC was what I graduated to after I outgrew TGIF. This block of programming boasted such shows as The Cosby ShowCheersA Different WorldER and most famously Seinfeld and Friends.  Despite your feelings on either of those sitcoms, you can’t deny that they are two of the highest rated (and most dearly beloved) sitcoms of all time. Must See TV might be a thing of the past, but it definitely paved the way for future Thursday night comedy programming on NBC. Which brings me to:

The Office –When The Office premiered in 2005 it was clearly a major departure from NBC’s standard comedy fare. And even though it only garnered mediocre ratings in its freshman season, NBC renewed it and it went on to become the show that redefined the way that we expected sitcoms to look and feel. (So it wasn’t great after Michael Scott left. But, it was a moneymaker for NBC and the final season was a little better, right? RIGHT?) Regardless, if it weren’t for The Office, who’s to say we would have ever been introduced to Leslie Knope, Liz Lemon or Troy and Abed? Pop Pop!

30 Rock/Community – Okay, let’s get serious for a second. There was often a brouhaha surrounding the sort-of, almost cancellations, short season orders and scheduling shifts with 30 Rock and Community. As someone who was majorly outraged that Veronica Mars was canceled, I FEEL YA.

But look, 30 Rock is notorious for having less than stellar ratings, yet it ran for SEVEN seasons. Hold on, let me repeat that: SEVEN. While NBC was plummeting from the first place to the last place network, they continued to broadcast a show that wasn’t doing much for them other than earning brownie points with television critics, hipsters, you and me. This same argument can be applied to Community. It’s only been on for four seasons (three excellent, one mediocre), but NBC keeps it on the schedule despite its poor ratings performance.

Shouldn’t NBC get some credit for picking up these shows in the first place?

Friday Night Lights – If you haven’t watched Friday Night Lights (FNL), then I just want to stop you right here. You can try to convince me that my opinion is wrong, but there is absolutely no way anything you say to me will hold any merit until you rectify this situation immediately. And we can discuss all day long whether Breaking Bad or Mad Men is the best show ever, but let’s just not argue about this anymore. FNL wins at television. Thank you, NBC, for bringing such joy into our lives.

Awake/Chuck/Grimm/Heroes/The Cape/The Event – This will be brief. For every edition of Law and Order they broadcast, NBC seemingly picks a risky drama series with some sort of fantastical element. It’s true that some of these shows had more promise than others (Awake) and some lasted longer than they should have (lookin’ at you, Heroes), but at least they were different.

Unfortunately for those of us that love Parks and Recreation, Community and Parenthood, the majority of the American public prefers Two and a Half Men and CSI to virtually ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD. Which means that when the month of May rolls around and the networks start announcing their cancellations, we will always have to hold our breath, cross our fingers and pray that this won’t be the year that we have to bid farewell to the Bravermans or the city of Pawnee.

But you know what? If that’s the price that I have to pay for creative storytelling and television shows that make me feel, I’ll gladly pay it. And in the meantime, I’ll be grateful that for several years, NBC cared a little bit more about those things than about winning the game.

Thank goodness this won’t be the year we have to say goodbye.

In Defense of Gosling

This post originally appeared on http://theunreliablenarrator.wordpress.com.
 
HEY GIRL

A while back, a podcast called The Courtesy Laugh debuted. In their introductory episode, one of the topics the guys touch on is the talent of Ryan Gosling. For whatever reason, Haley Bragg and I latched on to this and really delved into the issue at the place in Nashville that seems to inspire our pop culture sensibilities the most, Fido. Here are the results:

Wait. First, here’s a link to the podcast for a little background info:

The Courtesy Laugh, Episode 1

Now, the discussion:

Haley: My first thought is that Ryan Gosling is a GREAT actor, how dare you suggest that he isn’t?! Then I started to examine his roles, and I have to admit – they guy has made a career out of being Ryan Gosling. But that’s kind of the thing, right? How many A-list actors do you know that can disappear into roles and really transform themselves into someone completely unrecognizable? And don’t say Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s the exception to this rule. You also have to rule out Johnny Depp. He might disappear into roles with the use of makeup and costumes, but his behavior is still very much Johnny Depp.

Consider this: If Will Smith is America’s only true movie star (have you heard this argument?), you have to acknowledge that whether he’s playing an alien hunter in Men in Black or a matchmaker in Hitch, he’s still essentially The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. BUT, I think that as a movie going society we’ve allowed this and in most cases, encouraged it to happen. For instance, when we go see Crazy Stupid Love, we want Ryan Gosling to have the same inherent Ryan Gosling-ness that he will also have in The Ides of March and Drive. And I think that the choices he’s made in the past couple of years have allowed that, while also serving as a pretty calculated strategy to elevate him to his current status. The exception being Blue Valentine, of course. Nothing Gosling-y about that.

Jen: My first thought is that Ryan Gosling is a pretty good guy and a good actor and really incredible looking. (I mean, he can pull off a cardigan, Navajo tee and necklace AT THE SAME TIME and look pre-ty good doing it.) I agree with Haley that his success is based firmly in his Gosling-ness. (The counter to Haley comes in my belief that even in Blue Valentine, he was thoroughly Gos-tant. File under “Characters who are attractive yet inherently flawed.” File contents include Blue Valentine, Drive, Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson, Crazy Stupid Love, etc., etc., etc.) I don’t believe that his playing to type excludes him from being a good actor, though – you only have to look as far as Johnny Depp to see that sometimes, when script meets man, the results are pretty fantastic (e.g., What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Finding Neverland). I’m not going to bring Will Smith into this, because to be honest, trying to figure out his being the only true movie star makes my brain hurt. Nothing against Will Smith, but that is a discussion for another day (don’t even get me started on The Pursuit of Happyness).

Consider this: Praising Gosling, Depp, Smith…and I’d probably include Brad Pitt in there…for ultimately being themselves (and for good measure, let’s throw in some supporting actors – Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jude Law, et al), I feel like we’re talking about…what?…maybe 70-75% of all of the critically acclaimed performances in a year. The flipside are all of these equally great (because I’m totes not knocking Brad Pitt for continuing to film installments of Legend of the River Running through Joe Black*) actors who continually reinvent themselves for roles. This is where both Haley and I place Leonardo DiCaprio. I’d also throw in Christian Bale and Kevin Spacey. Then there are the guys who kinda play the same role, but totally against type. (An example of this type would be Edward Norton.**) THEN there are the guys who were phenomenal, and probably still are, but are moving quickly into pigeonhole territory (Russell Crowe. Sidebar: Ask me about my Hanks/Crowe theory sometime.) I’m not really sure where I’m going with my THENS, except to say, basically, it takes all kinds. All kinds, you guys. And sometimes that means embracing the Goslings as well as the DiCaprios. It doesn’t hurt that no matter which one is ultimately your cup of tea, they’re both smokin’ hot.

*Wayans brothers, I’ll give you this one on the cheap.

**What’s funny is, you think we (the audience) would totally start thinking “Well, maybe this is his type. I mean, he’s a really skinny yet angry and effectively violent guy in all of his movies, right?” However, probably because he’s really smart (Edward Norton and his characters) and not very imposing, it takes about 15 minutes post-film to forget that he’s a total badass and not the geekboat next door.

___________________________________________________________________

Haley and I sent the above off to the Courtesy Laugh guys, and then, in typical fashion, couldn’t let it go. Some follow up:

Jen: I feel the need to do this:

Goslings:                                     DiCaprios:

Ryan Gosling                                Leonardo DiCaprio
Will Smith                                     Kevin Spacey
Brad Pitt*                                     Jonah Hill (shocker!)
Johnny Depp                                Edward Norton
George Clooney                            Russell Crowe*
Tom Hanks                                   Casey Affleck
Jude Law*                                     Ben Affleck
Phillip Seymour Hoffman          Robin Williams
Seth Rogen                                    Jeff Bridges*
Joseph Gordon Levitt
Al Pacino
Matt Damon
Denzel Washington
Keanu Reeves
John Cusack

And let’s waste no time:

Gosleighs:                                 DiCaprias:

Sally Field                                    Meryl Streep*
Kathy Bates                                 Marisa Tomei (shocker!)
Julia Roberts*                            Cate Blanchett
Scarlett Johannsen (sp?)         Judi Dench
Meg Ryan**                                Marion Cotillard
Kate Hudson
Diane Keaton*
Embeth Davidtz

*These guys get an asterisk because I feel like you could make valid arguments either way. I might disagree with you, but I’d listen without immediately writing off your argument.

**Even though she tries really hard to change it up.

I know there are more males than females on my lists but I tend not to like actresses. I guess because I’m not also mentally calculating if they’re in “my range.” Here’s my question – of all of the entertainers out there today, who’d you like most to see pull an upset and just blow everyone away with their completely unexpected critical acclaim? It can be comedy to drama/drama to comedy/acting to music or vice versa. What do you think? I’m already a little biased because of my Jim Carrey Theory, so I’ll admit that mine is Russell Brand. He’s either going to do something really tragic, or really unbelievable.

Sweet LIME! I realized a second ago that we forgot about the king of all Nortonians, Daniel Day Lewis. Has anyone ever played such diverse characters to type (Type: Awesome) as well EVER? I say no.

Haley: One thing that I feel like wasn’t really clear in my argument was that the bigger the star, the more likely they are to fit into their persona. I would argue that Kevin Spacey, Ed Norton, Casey Affleck, etc. aren’t really mega-stars and that’s why they find it easier to disappear into characters. That’s why Leo is such an exception.

___________________________________________________________________

What do you think? Who did we forget? Who did we get horribly wrong?

Friday Five – the Internet Edition

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the Internet was so very good to us this week. On average, you can count on there being at least one funny video that goes viral in a given week. But this week, there have been five – and I’m here to recap them for you!

1. The first (and most likely, BEST) of the videos is from our friends at New Girl. (Side Note: If I call them “our friends”, I’m pretty sure Zooey D. will get in touch about hanging out. What? It can happen.) The “leaked” video was Schmidt’s online dating profile video circa 2008. It’s shot like the opening credits of The Hills (may that show RIP), featuring Schmidt and…well, Schmidt.

Favorite Line: “This is me…warts and all!”

2. Okay, so maybe it’s a tie for 1st place. Juliette Lewis brings the funny in the first installment of what we hope is a very long video series, based on the Twitter feed @ShitGirlsSay. And here’s the thing, you guys – it’s absolutely spot-on. We so crazy.

Favorite Line: “Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, LISTEN.”

3. I’ve had my eye on Taran Killiam for a while now. I think that he, along with Vanessa Bayer, have the potential to be the new breakout stars of SNL – just as soon as Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig take a bow. His dancing Frenchman completely owns me in the “Les Jeunes de Paris” sketches and Vanessa Bayer is an excellent Miley Cyrus. While they’re both featured in the video below, Killiam is the main event. Recorded during last week’s writing night for SNL, Killiam and company pay tribute to the musical guest of the week, Robyn, by parodying her video for “Call Your Girlfriend”.

Favorite Moment: Could Bobby Moynihan look less excited to be a part of this?

4. Jimmy Kimmel is at it again. For Halloween, he had parents record their kid’s reactions to the news that they had already eaten all of the kid’s hard earned trick-or-treating candy. I thought that segment was a little funnier – maybe because this installment, featuring kids reacting poorly to “bad” presents is a little cringe-worthy. Buuut, that’s not to say there aren’t some funny moments. Including one kid that definitely needs his mouth washed out with soap.

Favorite Line: “I got PONIES!”

5. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to love Jimmy Fallon any more than I do. But in a familial sort of way – like, I kind of wish he were my big brother. Anyway, of course his video promoting this weekend’s Saturday Night Live had to make the list.

Favorite Line: “Kwanzaa is coming!”

Jimmy Fallon SNL promos (click to watch!)

The Yearly Check-Up | Television 2011

It’s December 13, which means that we have reached the mid-point in the 2011-2012 television season. New shows have entered our lives and television sets and some have even bid us an early adieu. (I’m lookin’ at you, The Playboy Club.) I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I was sampling most of what the networks had to offer this Fall, so I thought that it was only fair that I update you on which shows I’ve fallen for and which I’ve weeded out of my weekly schedule.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is the list of NEW shows that I DVR and watch on the reg – whether I think they’re very good or not.

ABC: Pan Am, Revenge, Once Upon a Time, Suburgatory
NBC: Grimm, Up All Night, Whitney, Prime Suspect
CBS: 2 Broke Girls, Person of Interest
FOX: New Girl, American Horror Story
The CW: Hart of Dixie, Ringer, The Secret Circle

Let’s get to it…

Top 5 Fave Newbies:

Revenge – I think that this is the best new show of the season. I look forward to it every week and am disappointed when I’ve finished watching. The plot lines are compelling, the characters are engaging – and let’s face it – everything is so pretty! I’ve been a fan of Emily VanCamp since Everwood and it’s clear that the girl makes good choices.

New Girl – Molly did a great job of pointing out why you should be watching this show (or stop complaining about it, at least) way back in October. And kids, it’s just gotten better and better. Most notably, the Thanksgiving episode and last week’s “Bad in Bed” are two of the brightest moments in the 2011 television season. It’s no coincidence that those two episodes have featured Justin Long in a guest-starring role – essentially as the boy version of Jess. Young MAN!

(P.S. A lot of comparisons have been made between New Girl and another HIGH-larious sitcom, Happy Endings. Rest assured – just because you like one, it doesn’t mean you have to hate the other. I WILL explore this topic at a later date.)

Once Upon a Time – This is the newest of my favorite shows and frankly, the reason that I’ve been holding out on writing this post. I’ve known for a long time that it would find itself on this list, but how could I write about it when I hadn’t seen it?! We’re still only a handful of episodes in, but I’m completely transfixed with the town of Storybrooke. It really was destined to be good, coming from former LOST writers (so many fun LOST references) and with a cast of TV all-stars (Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla.)

When it first debuted, I was a little skeptical that I would enjoy watching the fairy tale portion of each episode – but those flashbacks have proven to be one of the most compelling elements of the series. And in the present day Storybrooke, it’s so fun to try and figure out the who’s who of fairy tale characters. If anything, it’s just refreshing to have such a different kind of show to watch. (Also, RIP Hottie McHuntsman.)

Suburgatory – Love. I wrote about it when it premiered – and like New Girl, it has only improved. Cheryl Hines practically steals the show as Dallas and Allie Grant (Weeds) has had more than a few standout moments as the awkward next-door neighbor and Tessa’s closest friend. I wouldn’t say it nestles comfortably on the schedule between The Middle and Modern Family – perhaps a better fit would be after MF and before the more likely companion, Happy Endings? But if you have room for another sitcom in your schedule, it wouldn’t hurt to add this one. (So many good sitcoms these days, am I right?)

Prime Suspect – If you are the kind of person that likes doing things for others, then this is what you can do for me. WATCH THIS SHOW. It is so very good. And I think it’s about to be canceled. I’m going to play the blame game for a minute and point fingers at all of the television critics/reviewers that saw the pilot episode and immediately dismissed it. First of all, critics. Don’t you know the rules? You have to give a show at least two or three episodes before it finds its groove. Kudos to Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly for offering a mea culpa in his online column for his original review of the show.

Runner-Up:

Hart of Dixie – it makes no sense why I’m compelled to this show, but for some reason I totally am. Maybe it’s because the town square is the same one used in Gilmore Girls or the fact that there was a Friday Night Lights reference? Sure, I could do without Jaime King’s character (and her incredibly offensive Southern accent) – but as long as The CW has it on the schedule, I’m in.

Shows that I expected better things from:

Up All Night – Let’s all stop pretending we don’t wish this were a funnier show.

Person of Interest – So, so promising. So missing the mark. You would think with the powers of J.J. Abrams, Michael Emerson and Jesus (Jim Caviezel) combined, this would be an excellent show. The dialogue and acting are stiff and the plot is mediocre. I’m hoping that Abrams’ other new show, Alcatraz (premiering in January), will be stronger. (Note: I decided while writing this not to go back and watch the episodes that I’ve missed and to cancel the series recording. Boom.)

2 Broke Girls – Okay, sometimes there are laughs and even some sweet moments. But I need Whitney Cummings and Michael Patrick King to realize that girls go for smarter comedy than the cheap shots they’re throwing at us.

Shows that I’m in disbelief over their full-season order:

Whitney –I have no idea why I watch this show. I really am the worst. It’s just bad. So bad. Here’s what would make it better: Get rid of her two gal pals and replace them with girls less….man-ish? Then get rid of Whitney. Or just throw the show out altogether and find something great for Chris D’Elia to do. He deserves better.

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Do you agree with my Top 5 shows of the new season? Or are you shaking your head in disgust at my picks? Either way, head to the comments and let me know what you think!