Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Posts Tagged ‘House’

CJ’s Best TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on January 5, 2010

OK, friends.  Time for the big one.  Which TV shows will we remember many years from now as some of the best of the decade?  Which ones truly captured the American public?  Here are my humble musings.  This is, of course, not the same as my personal list of favorite shows, but unsurprisingly, colored by the shows I like the best.

The very first American Idol

1) American Idol-I don’t know if anyone really watches American Idol anymore, but chats with some of my family members suggest that they do.  I clearly remember the beginning of my college career, though, when it was all anyone talked about.  Much like Survivor is to the “extreme reality TV” genre, American Idol is the decade trendsetter of the “reality competition” genre.  A mix of drama, talent, and kicking people off of things are the trademarks of this genre, and American Idol started it all with Kelly Clarkson.

2) Survivor-I readily admit to never having actually watched this show (and I call myself a TV blogger), but Survivor kicked off the “extreme reality TV” craze with a bang.  And what could be more 2000s than extreme reality TV?  (I say extreme because MTV’s the Real World premiered in the early 1990s as what is undoubtedly reality TV, but I think Survivor is a different genre.)  Survivor inspired numerous spinoffs (like I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here or the Amazing Race), and I distinctly remember it being the most talked-about show in the beginning of my high school career.

3) CSI-I must have bad taste, because my top three shows of the decade are all shows I never really watch, but CSI in all of its various iterations are constantly at the top of the ratings charts.  This is THE crime procedural.  Mr. Feeny explains it more eloquently than I can, perhaps because he’s actually watched the show, but people love this stuff.  And this is the trendsetter.

4) Lost-Few shows have taken the American public on such a thrill ride as Lost.  Moreover, no one I know just casually watches the show.  The people that do watch are hooked.  And the show is designed so that you can’t watch just one episode.  In fact, Lost may be the winner in the contest of ‘shows I picked up on DVD and watched all the seasons in a ridiculously short time.’  You can’t do it otherwise.  And though I could whine about how the show has gotten too confusing, and what the heck is the smoke monster anyway, I’m anxiously awaiting the final season to see how the writers will wrap it up.

5) The West Wing-I think people will remember this show.  I really do.  It was (for the most part) fantastically well done, and a balance of relationships and politics gave it a wider appeal than it otherwise might have.  It’s also my favorite show ever.  I’ve raved about it other places, so I’ll spare you, loyal readers, here.

6) Desperate Housewives-This is one of the most watched TV shows in the world, according to economist Charles

Desperate AND juicy

Kenney.  Premiering in 2004 and currently airing season 6, Desperate Housewives was a real crowd pleaser.  I remember the race to the TV room on Sunday nights my freshman year of college to watch the first season.  Kind of like a modern-day “Feminine Mystique,” shows that explore the secret lives of housewives are now commonplace.  Do you think Bravo’s multi-locale and extremely popular The Real Housewives of… would even exist if not for ABC’s Desperate Housewives?

7) The Sopranos-Yah.  Never watched this show.  But lots of people did.  And talked about it a lot.  And loved it.

8 ) Sex and the City-I have to admit, this show kind of uncomfortably straddles the decade divide.  But I think the SATC movie will help this show be remembered in this decade.  What else can we say about SATC other than it made 30 the new 20?

9) The Office-A show that is still going strong and shows no signs of quitting.  It has a very loyal fanbase and the dialogue and shot style has taken hold in other shows as well (see The Modern Family).

10) 24-Everyone knows who Jack Bauer is.  Even if you never watch the show.

Honorable Mention

Scrubs

House

How I Met your Mother

Friday Night Lights

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Feeny’s Best Actors of the Decade

Posted by Mr. Feeny on December 29, 2009

I hate going last. My list is now just a hodge podge of theirs. But believe me…mine’s the definitive list. If I used emoticons, this is where I’d type 😉 In seriousness, though, I think my cohorts forgot one major actor on the list…just like they did for characters.

1) Martin Sheen (The West Wing) – Just further proof that the Emmys don’t know what they’re doing (disregard this argument for Tony Shalhoub). In seven fantastic years as President Bartlet, Sheen never once came away the winner. His costars did. Even Alan Alda did for his end-of-the-series run. But never Sheen. And that’s ridiculous. He was the best actor on the entire show. He mixed pomposity with compassion, resolve with confusion. You saw everything the most powerful man in the world must go through on a daily basis…and still thought of Bartlet almost as a friend or father. I waited on bated breath for every time he would respond to a crisis or lesser dilemma. And that was because of Sheen, not Sorkin.

2) Keifer Sutherland (24) – I’d just like to once again thank Keifer for sponsoring this blog. We couldn’t do it without him. (He is the only person on all three of our character and actor lists…we are clearly on the take…thus nothing else needs to be said).

3) Tony Shalhoub (Monk) – My comparison of Monk to mashed potatoes is becoming more and more accurate. Not only did both my colleagues leave him off their best characters list, neither gave credit to Tony Shalhoub, the man behind the OCD. I guess his three Emmy awards didn’t catch their eye. I’m not saying that needs to be a qualification for being on this list….but it’s THREE! And a yearly nomination to boot. That’s not the Emmy voters just being their usual repetitive self. Shalhoub deserved it. His lovable and sypmathetic character seemed incredibly natural. Almost as if you were watching a reality show about this obsessive detective.

4) James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) – Tony Soprano would not have been the character of the decade without the superb acting of Gandolfini. He’s what made you root for the bad guy. You’d kind of like to hang out with T. That’s because Gandolfini pulled off the always difficult task of making a gangster seem human. You understood all of Tony’s motivations, from the big kills to the minor gripes. And every glance was extremely telling. Probably the best actor on my list in terms of subtlety.

5) Nathan Fillion (Castle, Desperate Housewives, Firefly) – If only Fillion were better known, or his shows lasted longer. Then you might have to call Fillion the actor of the decade. His work is always superb (and underrated, because of his goofy smile). And, he played a large part in a ton of shows. I was hesitant to include him in my Top 5, actually, until I started watching the final arc in Buffy the Vampire Slayer today. He made his appearance as Caleb and was just astoundingly great. Every word he utters is commanding…you want to and have to listen. If Buffy‘s not your cup of tea (idiots), try his season on Desperate Housewives, or the short-lived and much-adored Firefly, or Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, or in his current hit Castle (boy does he deserve one). Oh, and if that’s still not enough proof he belongs on this list, how about the fact that he was in Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, which had two seasons in this decade. We can’t ignore our blog namesake.

Honorable Mentions

-) Michael C. Hall (Dexter) – I’ll go even further than mention Hall. Even as the show has declined, and Dexter’s character has gotten dull and repetitive, Hall’s acting has not. He’s just as believable as the normal guy forcing his way through interactions as he is as the serial killer slicing up victims. You see the true spirit of his dark passenger constantly.

-) Hugh Laurie (House) – What Laurie does so well (besides his American accent) is let you see the inner workings of House’s mind. You know how he arrives at every conclusion. Even those in his personal life. And as a testament to his work, he’s a likeable curmudgeon, unlike so many grumpy doctors on TV.

Guest Star of the Decade

Zeljko Ivanek (24, Damages, Heroes) – I had to make a special spot for this guy. I love him. One of the finest actors of the decade, without a doubt, but his lack of being a series regular kept him off the main list. I anxiously await the credits on my favorite dramas, hoping to see his name. Of course, at this point, he’s pretty much been on all of them. He was Andrei Drazen in 24‘s first season. He was a regular during Heroes’ third season. And he won an Emmy for his supporting role in Damages. But look at his lesser credits. He was Juliet’s husband (the guy killed by a bus) in LOST. He held House hostage in one of last season’s best episodes. He was even the bad guy in the series premiere of The Mentalist, the #1 show last year. Add in a role in the miniseries John Adams, some guest starring spots on programs like ER and True Blood, and reoccuring turns on The West Wing, The Practice, and Homicide/Law & Order. I’m not sure if anyone worked as much as Ivanek in television these past ten years. And he did so with such conviction. Always a pleasure. Sadly, I haven’t seen him in anything this season.

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Moltisanti will surely note the absence of Hamm. He’s probably next on my list. But I never saw the layers of Don Draper that others see. To me, he’s stiff and rather dull. I don’t see much variety in his character. Moltisanti also may wonder why Soprano is #1 on my character list with Bartlet at #3, and yet Sheen is #1 and Gandolfini #4. Tony Soprano meant more to television as a character than Bartlet did. He’s much more lasting and impactful. And I thought they were both fantastic actors. But Sheen’s portrayal of the somewhat flawed and belabored president, especially in the middle seasons, really stood otu for me.

As for the others on their lists: Will Arnett’s probably the best actor on Arrested Development, but it’s too much of an ensemble show for me to select  just one. And while I think Kyle Chandler’s acting is fantastic in Friday Night Lights, it doesn’t quite match up to the others on this list.

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CJ’s Best TV Actors of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on December 27, 2009

We’re running out of time to bring you the best of the 2000s.  So, here for your viewing pleasure, I present my five best TV actors of the decade.  Now, this will be a brief list because most of these actors have been mentioned for their skill on my best characters of the decade list.  However, when I selected those to include on my character list, I

Intensity? Check.

selected characters that I thought would be remembered, not necessarily those that are the most skilfully portrayed (although these are often one and the same.)  But since the criteria are a bit different for the two lists, they are slightly different.  Here we go.

1) Martin Sheen (The West Wing)-Martin Sheen brought just the right stuff to an incredibly complex character.

He was remarkably consistent as president Jed Bartlet, but very believable in his reactions to trying situations.

2) Kiefer Sutherland (24)-Jack Bauer.  Come on.  What else do I need to say?  (Jack Bauer would come and kill me if I didn’t put Sutherland on this list.)

3) Hugh Laurie (House)-This was the most popular show in the world in 2008.  And House is another fascinatingly complex character to portray.  Laurie brings an air of believability to such an ‘out there’ character.  He deserves recognition for this feat.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose

4) Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)-Perhaps only upstaged by Connie Britton, Chandler does a remarkable job as Coach Eric Taylor.  Firm as a coach and undying in his love for the game, Chandler brings a notable passion to his role.

5) Jon Hamm (Mad Men)-I haven’t seen much of this show.  So I may as well admit to just putting Hamm on the list because I think he’s cute.  Also because I’m looking forward to getting into this show (FINALLY) when I get back to Madison.

Honorable Mention

Steve Carell (The Office)

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)

Naveen Andrews (Lost)

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CJ’s Best Characters of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on December 14, 2009

Hugh Laurie as Gregory House

I use the same criteria as Mr. Feeny.  That is, when looking back, which characters will we remember in 20 or 40 years?  As a result, some of my personal favorite characters did not make the list.  I’ll write up my top 10 characters of all time when the insanity of finals are over.  Of course, my list here is colored by the shows I actually watched.  I have (brace yourselves) never seen an episode of The Sopranos, so even though I recognize that the show was a pretty big deal, I don’t feel justified adding a character from it to my list.  So here’s what I think are the most memorable characters of the 00s.

1) Jed Bartlet (The West Wing)-Bartlet for America, indeed.  A charismatic leader, principled person, and, at times, sarcastic snob.  Flawlessly portrayed by Martin Sheen, Jed Bartlet is the American president.  Prone to poetic monologues, Jed Bartlet is, however, undeniably human.  Viewers get to watch him struggle with tough issues and moral dilemmas from the realities of sending troops to war, hate crimes, and every other possible problem in between.  And this is the important part.  We get to see him struggle.  We understand his pain.

2) Jack Bauer (24)-This show is not in my regular viewing rotation.  Nonetheless, I remember working in the basement of my dorm (CRC what?) in college and constantly having to run away from that stupid ticking clock noise from 24.  In addition, Jack Bauer was constantly evoked in my political science classes when the subject of torture or harsh interrogation techniques came up, demonstrating that this character captured the imagination and interest of many young viewers.  I myself will tip my hat to Bauer and 24‘s writers for tackling difficult moral dilemmas.

3) Dr. Gregory House (House)House premiered in 2004 and has been going strong since then.  House’s severe and unconventional antics have made him famous in TVland, and Hugh Laurie is fantastic as the title character.  His struggles with illness and addiction make him a compelling person, and viewers are constantly waiting to see how far beneath House’s rough exterior they will be able to get.  Furthermore, wikipedia tells me that House was the most watched show in the world in 2008.  I think that justifies putting the best character from the show on my list.

4) John ‘J.D.’ Dorian (Scrubs)-OK, so Mr. Feeny is right that the ninth season of this show was just a really bad

Zach Braff as JD

idea.  But I find J.D. and most of his castmates touching and humorous throughout the previous eight seasons.  Premiering in 2001, Scrubs has been around for most of the 00s, making the main character an appropriate choice.  J.D.’s internal monologues, musings, failed relationships, and bro-mance with Turk make him a great character that has lasted throughout the decade.

5) Michael Scott (The Office)-Another show that isn’t on my weekly rotation, but the TV critic has to be cognizant of the fact that this is one of the most continuously popular shows on TV.  Mr Feeny does a better job of explaining everything that’s going on with this character, so I’ll just say that I think Steve Carell is funny.

I’m admittedly quite sad there are no women on my list.  Oh well.  What’s a girl to do?

But to restate, my personal list of favorite characters will look much different from this one.  You’ll have to wait to see that, though.

Honorable Mention

Barney Stinson (How I Met your Mother)

Coach Taylor (Friday Night Lights)

Hurley (Lost)

CJ Cregg (The West Wing)

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The House Movie Event (S6:E1)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on September 22, 2009

“I was deluded into thinking I might be crazy.” – Gregory House

That’s basically what this season 6 premiere was…a made-for-TV movie. Don’t misunderstand, though. “Made-for-TV” only because it was on television, not because it was cheesy, featured old child actors and will be airing on Lifetime this weekend. As two-hour episodes go, “Broken” is one of the best I’ve seen. So stylistic, clever and a departure from the formulaic House routine that it seemed more like a movie than a TV show.

You knew from the very beginning this would be a different type of episode. The opening credits were replaced by a sequence showing House go through Vicadin withdrawal, with different music and only the people in this episode mentioned. No Lisa Edelstein, no Omar Epps. I’m impressed by their representatives’ willingness to let that happen. Usually, actors always need to be mentioned, even if they’re not in that episode. Or, guest stars need to be billed in the beginning, sometimes ruining surprises. But not this episode (there weren’t any guest star surprises…just a general observation).

Maybe its too early to pick Emmy nominees, but...

Maybe it's too early to pick Emmy nominees, but...

There were fantastic guest stars, though. First among them was Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known in Broadway circles for the Tony-winning musical he composed and starred in, “In the Heights.” He played House’s lovable, hyper but also wounded roomate in the psych ward. His raps throughout the episode were very enjoyable, but his interaction with House could be the thing that gets him an Emmy nomination next year. Andre Braugher (Homicide) as House’s doctor was also quite entertaining. Where the writers could have created a typical confrontation between authority figures, they instead let Braugher’s character appease and gently coerce House into healing himself.

I guarantee that will be the theme of this season. “Physician heal thyself.” It was set up perfectly in this episode. Everyone and his mother knew that House would be back at Princeton General before too long. He’s not going to be written out of his own show. But by providing this special episode, the groundwork has been laid for the issues that House needs to deal with. And it’s deeper than in seasons past, though there have always been flickers of it. Drugs and pain are no longer the problem. They eliminated that for the time being early in this episode. Season six will be about House’s interactions and relationships. Things that were looked at last season, as his friendship with Wilson nearly eroded and he almost began somethign with Cuddy.

But now he’s gotten to the root of the problem. His trust issues, his fixation on fixing, his instinct to drive people away. As he says in this episode, “I started to connect with one guy but then my propensity for screwing things up overtook me. And then my desire to have fun overcame my propensity.” House was ready to just walk away from the mental ward having cured his drug addiction and cleared his visions of Amber, Wilson’s dead girlfriend. But the doctor knew better. House probably did too. It took a while, but we finally saw House truly open up. We saw his inner compassion. Just in time for it all to go away come next week. But now we know he has those feelings, and he does too. It should be interesting to see how he tries to move forward in his life now that he’s identified his own problems.

House was never crazy. He was just crying for help. And he finally got it. Will it change him? Not immediately and certainly not permanently. But we will certainly see some subtle shifts in the show’s fabric this season.

Grade: A

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