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Best of 2016: Moments

This is my fourth list of the year and the first one I’ve really had a difficult time ranking. Even more so than favorite characters or relationships, this list feels like a reflection of who I am and what I love about television. The specific moments and events that resonate with people are so individual and don’t always have the same effect out of context. Some stand on their own, but others are only pieces (often culminations) of a character’s journey over seasons or entire series. No matter how many of these moments you are familiar with, I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about them and share some of your own favorites in the comments below.

1. Lorelai’s best memory of Richard (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) I’m not sure that Lauren Graham has ever been better than she was in this scene. Though time has passed since his death, Lorelai still hadn’t managed to fully process the realities of her father’s death. There was a loss in the general sense but the full force of her emotions had yet to hit her until she stood and looked at the wilderness. While Lorelai had a complicated relationship with her parents, she loved Richard. He was distant and not as involved as she might have needed, but he loved her and tried to show it as best he could. Teenage heartbreak is kind of the worst. Without any perspective, all you have is the fact that it hurts and is humiliating and makes you question everything. Richard knew where to find Lorelai and knew what would help ease the pain. He knew she wanted the pretzel and knew what kind of movie she would want to see. He knew she didn’t need a lecture, just some love and compassion. He knew she needed this to be a secret from Emily, who wouldn’t have understood either of their actions at the time. On that day, Richard gave Lorelai exactly what she needed. She needed to feel as though someone saw her and understood her just as she was. It wasn’t a feeling she got often in her childhood. Richard never intended to hurt his daughter or push her away. He loved her deeply even if he couldn’t always demonstrate it in a way Lorelai needed. But he left her with this memory, this secret between just the two of them. And by letting Emily in on the secret, by showing her that Lorelai was missing her father just as much as Emily was missing her husband, he helped repair the rift between them just enough to keep a relationship possible.

2. I’m gonna miss her (The Americans) For a scene with so few words, so much is said and expressed. For the first time in Elizabeth’s adult life, she had a friend. Though it started as an assignment and though Elizabeth could never be fully honest with her, she genuinely enjoyed Young Hee’s company. The laughter and friendship was real, even if it’s origins weren’t. I wish that there could have been another way, that Elizabeth could have kept this. The fact that she even tried speaks volumes about what this relationship meant to her. But there wasn’t, so after doing her duty for her country, she came home and let herself be vulnerable and comforted by her husband. She’s honest here, in a way she can only be with Philip. He’s the only one who gets to see this side of her, the fragile side. He can’t make it better but he can sit there with her so she doesn’t have to be any more alone than she already feels like she is.

3. It’ll always be yours (Game of Thrones) I stopped watching this show last season but this relationship is something that they are getting exactly right and that is all thanks to Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. They love these characters and their dynamic so much and it shines through in every scene they share. Every interaction is so layered and full of unspoken truths each are unable to give voice to. By allegiance, they are on opposing sides of this war. Jaime is loyal to his family and Brienne continues to honor her oath pledged to Catelyn and now Sansa Stark. That fact hangs heavy over their reunion. They recognize that there may come a day when they are asked to fight against each other and Jaime is doing is best not to think about that fact. Brienne tries to deal with it head on and essentially tells him that despite her love for him, her pledge comes first. It’s always the things that are unsaid that are most important with these two, especially when it comes to Oathkeeper. We know it symbolizes their relationship. It’s their unwavering faith in each other’s word and honor. They know it too and you see that in the scene where Brienne tries to return it. She’s terrified of what loving this man might mean and how she can reconcile that with her duties. She’s afraid to lose him but also afraid to have him. Jaime on the other hand, is more sure of his love, but not ready to face the consequences that love will bring. There is a tenderness in the way he says “it’ll always be yours” that leaves little doubt as to what he is actually talking about, a fact not missed by Brienne judging by her face. Every time Coster-Waldau and Christie share a scene together, I’m left in awe of their ability to convey so much in a look or change of tone. I may not care about much else on the show, but these two will always bring me back.

Continue reading Best of 2016: Moments

TV Thoughts: 1/4/15-1/10/15

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to look at and reevaluate things and that is exactly what I have decided to do with my weekly TV posts. For starters, they are coming back after a long break. I’m also changing up the format a bit so instead of spotlighting one episode of the week that stood out to me, I’m going to provide some brief (and occasionally not-so-brief) thoughts on the various shows I watched this week, including those I’m catching up on/watching for the first time, and I encourage you to do the same. If there is a show that inspired a lot of thought or emotion in you this week, I want to hear about it!

Sunday

  • The Good Wife: Yet another fantastic episode. Alicia’s prep debate with Peter was another great moment for Julianna Margulies and I’m still really enjoying Marissa’s presence, especially when she’s interacting with Eli. The real star of the episode though was Matt Czuchry. The trial and conviction process has been overwhelming to Cary and as the episode progressed, the more you could see that exhaustion and apprehension on his face. It made the moment the sentence was thrown out that much more striking as the relief washed over his face. The exhaustion was still palpable but you could also feel the weight being lifted off his shoulders as he sank into Diane and Kalinda.
  • Galavant: Looking back, this was still the most fun I had watching TV all week. I liked the music even better in the second episode and I am a sucker for a good training montage. I’ve also already become rather fond of both Galavant and the Princess and their interactions (plus they sound lovely together) so I’m even more in this for the next three weeks than I initially thought.

Monday

  • Sleepy Hollow: I don’t understand what is happening with this show. Part of the problem is that I’m still not connected to Katrina at all and I feel like she keeps becoming more important to the plot, which now seems to be about reforming the first two Horsemen. I could get excited about Katrina in a situation where she, Ichabod, and Abbie all team up and take down the forces together as a team instead of as separate individuals and occasionally pairs. Have Katrina teach Abbie about magic. Have Katrina and Ichabod have a conversation that goes well. Just do something more with this potential dynamic, please. This show works because of the chemistry between the characters but as more people get added to the group, the pairings that made this show great are also fading or becoming less prominent.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 1/4/15-1/10/15

Best of 2014: Actors

In my second to last installment of the Best of 2014, I want to take a moment to celebrate the brilliant work that so many actors did on TV this year. It was a year full of talent and it could be found everywhere you looked, across all networks and platforms.

Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) I’m sure that Jeffrey Tambor has been in a great number of things but until this year, I only knew him as George Bluth, Sr. Within just a few minutes of meeting Maura Pfefferman, all images of George Bluth were erased in my mind. Jeffrey Tambor has been rightly praised for his work in Transparent. He captures the vulnerability, the strength, the fear and the relief that comes with being the person you always knew you were supposed to be. There is a gentleness to his portrayal of Maura, a sense of trying to relearn everything you thought you knew about the world while holding onto sometimes (like family) you don’t want to leave behind.

Allison Tolman (Fargo) The casting department found gold in Allison Tolman. Without the warmth and dedication she brought to her role as Molly Solverson, Fargo would have been far less memorable to me. Whether it was her relationship with her father, her growing relationship with Gus and his daugher, or her pursuit of Lorne and Lester, there was an emotional and moral base to all she did. I sincerely hope this becomes a breakout role for her and we see much more of her in the future.

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) I’m cheating and picking two people for this spot. Each of them are fantastic on their own and definitely shine in their individual scenes but it’s the combination of Russell and Rhys that makes the acting on The Americans so compelling. The Jennings are complicated characters, torn between their loyalties to their mother country and their children who are still unaware of who their parents really are, and every bit of that conflict and complication comes through in these two performances. Whether it is a quieter moment, like Elizabeth reaching out to Emmett and Leanne’s son and deciding to not tell him the truth about his parents or a louder moment like Philip’s meeting with Paige’s pastor, you don’t want to take your eyes away from them.

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New Fall Shows: What Are You Watching?

It’s officially September and that means new network TV and lots of it. Below are the new shows with air dates, trailers and descriptions (along with links to the pilots on Hulu if applicable). If you already know what you want to see, skip to after the list for my take on this year’s new shows and head to the comments to share what new shows you’ll be trying out!

September 17th

Red Band Society (FOX) Trailer/Description

September 21st

Madam Secretary (CBS) Trailer/Description

September 22nd

Gotham (FOX) Trailer/Description

Scorpion (CBS) Trailer/Description

September 23rd

Forever (ABC) Trailer/Description/Pilot

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) Trailer/Description

September 24th

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC) Trailer/Description

Black-ish (ABC) Trailer/Description

September 25th

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) Trailer/Description

September 30th

Selfie (ABC) Trailer/Description/Pilot

Manhattan Love Story (ABC) Trailer/Description


Continue reading New Fall Shows: What Are You Watching?

My Role Model: Gillian Foster (Lie to Me)

As TV fans, we are not strangers to the idea of favorite characters. I have at least one per show that I watch, sometimes more. However, even among our favorites, there are some we love just a little more than all the others. They aren’t always played by the most talented person on the show, they aren’t always the main focus, and sometimes they aren’t even that popular with other fans of the show. But we love them anyway and keep them in a special place in our hearts. They are “our” characters, they ones we love, identify with, or look up to so much that we just want to shout about how great they are to anyone who will listen. So today, I want to introduce you all to one of my characters and everything that makes her great.

Gillian

Meet Gillian Foster, from FOX’s Lie to Me. She is a trained psychologist and used to work for the CIA before joining The Lightman Group. She doesn’t have all the experience and background in lie detecting that Cal does, but she uses her ability to understand and relate to people to get her job done. She has shown herself to be very good at her job and is also the person at The Lightman Group who is best able to handle the people-focused aspect of their work.

Continue reading My Role Model: Gillian Foster (Lie to Me)

Introducing TVexamined’s Month of Love

Over the past couple months, I have seen a lot of negativity on the internet and it seems like it’s been unusually mean-spirited. So to counter all of that, I will be starting a new feature for the month of July. Every weekday, I am going to write about TV-related things that I love and talk about what it is that makes these things mean so much to me and I want to hear about the things you love as well. Rather than spending our energy focused on why the things we dislike are bad, I want to spend a month celebrating all the good that TV has brought into our lives. I look forward to sharing some of my TV loves with you and can’t wait to hear yours as well.

Midseason Pilot Review: Growing Up Fisher

Airs: Tuesdays on NBC at 9:30 EST

Timeslot Competition: NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), Trophy Wife (ABC), Brooklyn Nine-Nine/The Mindy Project (FOX), Supernatural (CW)

Premise: The Fisher family gets closer after their parents divorce and their father gets a guide dog named Elvis

Pre-show Thoughts: The trailer and premise didn’t really grab my interest. It didn’t sound bad, necessarily, just not very interesting. NBC has had absolutely no luck with family comedies this TV season so I expect this to be similar.

Post-show Thoughts: It was alright. The mom trying to recapture her youth after a divorce wasn’t particularly original and this pilot seemed determined to get as much mileage as it could out of having the dad do things (like perfectly parallel park) that probably wouldn’t be realistic but it wasn’t bad.

It seems like  a fairly generic family comedy, complete with voiceover and an end-of-the-episode life lesson. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing and sometimes it’s just what you want to watch but I don’t expect it to be a game-changer for NBC.

I may watch this at some point when the season is over but it’s not going to be a high priority for me.

Fall 2013 Pilot Review: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Airs: Tuesdays on FOX at 8:30 EST

Timeslot Competition: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC), NCIS (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), The Originals (CW)

Premise: When the 99th precinct gets a new captain (Andre Braugher), Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) is told that he must grow up and “respect the badge”.

Pre-show Thoughts: I have been sold on this show since the moment I heard that Dan Goor and Michael Schur were the creators. I love what they have done on Parks and Rec and I am excited to see what they do with this show. It looks funny and you know that with these two in charge, they won’t be afraid to bring some emotion with the humor.

Continue reading Fall 2013 Pilot Review: Brooklyn Nine-Nine