Christmas Challenge: Friends

FRIENDS
The One with Phoebe’s Dad

There were many episodes of Friends to choose from this Christmas, but since I only own two seasons and it’s not on Netflix, I had a limited selection. So I went with season two, where Monica has one hot Christmas party, and Phoebe goes in search of her dad.

For some reason, I always forget this episode is a Christmas one. I guess I always focus on Phoebe’s attempt to see her dad — and I say attempt because she never gets to the door — which doesn’t really have anything to do with the holiday (with the exception that the house she’s parked outside is very festive).

But when you pay attention to the episode, a lot is really going on: Christmas decorations, discussion of Christmas cookies and gifts, a holiday party, and Chandler and Joey’s attempt to find last-minute gift (this attempt was successful, though I can’t say the gifts were).

Of course, the Christmas party felt less like a winter wonderland and more like a sauna, mostly because the heat was broken, and everyone was sweating like crazy. So it didn’t feel all too much like a Christmas episode for that part. But it was a fun one, and it was an entertaining episode.

Recommendation: Cute episode if you like Friends. Watch and enjoy, but it doesn’t need to be an annual viewing.

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Thursday Open Thread: Favorite Vacation Episodes

And we’re back! After a fantastic trip to London and Paris, I’m back to the good ol’ U.S. of A. and back to watching the usual TV suspects. Thanks for your patients and for those who read in my absence! Now, let’s move on to an open thread!

To keep with the journey theme, how about we talk about those crazy vacations our favorite characters take?

What is your favorite vacation-themed episode?

Now, I’m going to be as lenient and open to interpretation as possible in this. “Vacation” could harken back to those TGIF series that all seemed to go to Disney World at one point or another. Or maybe it’s a day trip away from the office (yes, The Office, I’m looking at you). Maybe it’s a “vacation” that actually turned into work in some procedural when a dead body turned up at the hotel (there have been a lot of those). Maybe it’s a weekend away from the city. Or maybe you want to reference a stay-cation or a soap opera. Who knows!

While I can’t pick just one, I am currently thinking of Rory and her grandmother in Europe. Sure, this was a very brief part of a Gilmore Girls episode (at the beginning of season five) and the overall plot was blah, but I just love seeing Emily complain that her view has changed as she looks over her hotel window, as if they had the gall to change something in 30 years.

But really, I think I’ll go with Friends in London. Yes, I have a soft spot for London, but it was just entertaining. Monica and Chandler got together. We had the big name flub in the wedding. But the scenery was fantastic and the jokes were good. I’ll go with it.

What’s yours?

Recap Review: Why Didn’t Chandler Bing Ask for Jill Goodacre’s Number?

FRIENDS: 1.07 “The One with the Blackout”

I’m stuck in an ATM vestibule with JILL GOODACRE!

For some reason, I’ve been thinking lately about the episode of Friends involving the blackout. Not sure why. Sure, it was a great way for NBC to link all of its shows without the crossover mess (after all, Jamie and Paul in Mad About You started the blackout that crossed over most of the NBC lineup that night). And it was a neat way to put the majority of the cast together, leaving one sole person to be stuck in an ATM vestibule with a supermodel.


Leaving the rest of the cast out of it, let’s look at Chandler for a moment. He spends the night one on one with a very attractive woman. Sure, she’s a celebrity and he makes an ass out of himself by saying, “Gum would be perfection,” then proceeding to spit it out while trying to blow a bubble, all finished by choking on someone else’s gum he picked up off the floor. Ew.

Clearly, he’s out of his league. But by the end of the night, he and Jill are having a good night, spinning pens around their heads and laughing. It was a good time. So why didn’t he ask for Jill’s number?

She gave him signals. Wasn’t there a kiss on the cheek once the power came back on? Considering their time spent together, it wouldn’t have come out of left field, and just the offer for coffee might’ve been nice and refreshing for her. Was the threat that she might say no that bad?

Well, enter the television universe. In real life, it’s all nerves and doubt that would prevent Chandler from manning up and asking for a supermodel’s number. But in TV, it’s all about the moment.

Sure, if he asked for her number, we wouldn’t get that longing look as he was smashed against the glass, watching her walk away. Nor would we get his quip at the security camera, asking for them to send him the tape.

More importantly, we wouldn’t have the perfect night. If you’re not entirely sure about what I mean with the perfect night, think of How I Met Your Mother‘s season one when Ted met Victoria. Victoria and Ted had the perfect night, all ending in the lead-up to a kiss. The kiss never happened because if it had, everything would have changed. The night wouldn’t have been perfect. There’s aftermath.

Much like Chandler and Jill. If he’d asked for her number, she would have either said no or given it to him. If she had given it to him, she would have called or not called. We would have been left either disappointed or wondering, “What if?” Knowing a show like Friends, Jill wouldn’t be back, so while we could hope for the best, having her call (even off-screen) would change the dynamic of the show. They needed that perfect night.

So sure, it looked like a wasted opportunity, it is what it is. TV interferes again. But what do you think? Should Chandler have asked for her number?

Thursday Open Thread: Songs that Remind You of Shows

Yesterday as I was driving to work, I rocked out to Gavin DeGraw‘s “I Don’t Wanna Be” on the radio. It got me thinking, of course, about One Tree Hill–not only because it’s the theme song (though I love how they’re incorporating various covers of the song every week), but because One Tree Hill really made a solid effort to support Gavin DeGraw, much like they’ve done for Kate Voegele and Wakey Wakey. In fact, when I hear “Almost Everything,” I can only think of the OTH character and his finishing the album to get over his unrequited love. Or “Brooklyn” and the OTH promo that used it.

So what songs or artists remind you of shows?

It can be a fun or painful question. Painful, why? Well, let’s just say that every time I hear “With or Without You,” I think of Rachel looking lamentingly out her apartment window on Friends. I don’t generally like to think of Ross and Rachel out of any famous TV couple.

On the other hand, I love Joshua Radin and Colin Hay’s “Overkill,” and I love that both of them remind me of Scrubs. It’s funny. Some of these songs don’t even play important roles in the shows, but I still think of them. It doesn’t have to be a theme song to remind you of something, you know?

So what’s on your TV soundtrack, and what show does it remind you of? It can be a promo, episode montage, or hey, I’ll even throw in a theme song. After all, do any of you not think of Dawson’s Creek when you hear “I Don’t Want to Wait”?

Now, I put a TON of links up there to artists and even clips, so instead of an image, how about something adorable and cute?

Unrelated to the show, they just put this up as a cold open. Love it.

Now Leaving Cougar Town

I’m sure you all noticed, I didn’t write about Cougar Town last week. And there’s a reason for that: I didn’t finish it.

I couldn’t make it through and entire 30 minutes of a premiere of a TV show. It was almost like when I tried to watch The Middle last night, except with Cougar Town, there are people that I like involved in it.

But you know, I’m someone who gives second chances, and I did sit down to watch last night’s episode. And yes, it was better. But not good enough for me to keep watching.

I’m actually disappointed. It’s not that I’m a huge Courteney Cox fan, but I don’t mind her in things. I watched Friends. I thought she was funny (well, until the end when they all became caricatures of themselves and they were all not funny). So the fact that she was in another series didn’t bother me. And since she was in some episodes of Scrubs and was funny in those, I put some faith in the series, what with Bill Lawrence being the brains behind both Scrubs and Cougar Town.

And honestly, that was the real appeal: Bill Lawrence. He’s done some great stuff, and the quirky nature of Scrubs has kept me coming back season after season. I was almost looking forward to the new show.

Despite the fact that the premise bothered me. You know, I realize that “cougars” are big nowadays, but I really don’t care much to see a bunch of older women hitting on younger men. That’s what I figured I’d get with the show.

And surprisingly enough, I was wrong. It’s just another divorcee (who unrealistically spends way too much time with her ex) who’s trying to be young again. The bad part is, Courteney Cox really doesn’t look that old right now. Nor does she look like a mom for her teenage son.

She does, however, spend time with a younger woman (one who has no hesitation to change her underwear in an office), so that she can be the influence to make Courteney Cox’s character look like a moron most of the time. But you know what? It’s really not all that funny.

And I like funny. In fact, that’s generally what I look for in my half-hour sitcoms. But what this show seems to lean on is crass. That’s probably why I can’t see Cox’s character as a mother. She’s terrible! Somehow her son has grown up to be self-sufficient and smart, yet she seems to be the one that needs to be taken care of the most!

Probably the person I like best in the series is played by Christa Miller, who is the married, older best friend. Also a veteran of Scrubs, she’s the one I could see actually playing the cougar, not the stable best friend. My only hope for her is that this show gets canceled so she can return to Scrubs.

Anyway, I’m sorry, Cougar Town, but you’re not my cup of tea. I feel disloyal somehow, making sure that I don’t even flip by it on Wednesday nights anymore (sorry, Bill), but man, I don’t think I can take it.

BIG BANG: Just fine. Or Ok.

BIG BANG THEORY: 3.02 “The Jiminy Conjecture”

It’s not that I didn’t like last night’s episode. But did anyone else feel like it just wasn’t quite up to snuff?

I mean, it was fine enough. And it’s nice that we got a quick cameo by Lewis Black.  But it wasn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as previous episodes have been.

And I blame this on Penny and Leonard.

Now we see why the writers didn’t put them together at the beginning of last season. I mean, clearly, the writers don’t know what to do with them. The whole bad sex thing has been around for quite a while in sitcoms (the first one coming to mind is Suddenly Susan, if any of you remember that). And I don’t know, it’s kinda boring.

Plus, does it frustrate anyone else to know that we’ve been watching these two for years now, hoping they’ll get together, only to have a problem like this in the end? I mean, it was such a letdown last time they broke up after one episode. We don’t want it again.

And honestly, their getting drunk together ultimately wasn’t all that funny! Nothing happened! They just got so drunk they had to throw up. Sigh.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with them in the next few episodes, but I hope the drama doesn’t continue. This is a comedy show. Bring back the funny. Make the other guys try to compete with Leonard, now that he has a hot, cool girlfriend. Make Leonard unsure of how to deal with someone who doesn’t get his smart references. There are a lot of awkward parts that can come about when these two are together. Let’s see that. Funny awkward. Not problems.

Of course, that wasn’t the only plotline. The other was Sheldon and Howard’s competition over the cricket. By the way, a cricket in the house is another well-used sitcom device. While I did enjoy the pursuit, it did disappoint me to see a loss of originality.

In the end, I was glad that Howard won. I mean, when does he ever? Never, according to Sheldon.

But the best part of the episode was having Howard and Raj pause to see how long it would take Sheldon to realize his faux pas around Penny. I almost wish we had seen the entire scene, just to see how long it took and what wrong alternatives he came up with first. Of course, who knows how long that was.

I do like to see Sheldon develop, though. He’s not perfect in his intelligence, and he’s finally discovering social norms–even if he’s not following them. So at least there’s that.

But overall, while I chuckled, this wasn’t the best episode of Big Bang. I’d much prefer the nerdy focus back, and less emphasis on Penny and Leonard. They’re not Ross and Rachel. They won’t be. And we don’t want them to be either.

Buzzingo!

THE BIG BANG THEORY: 2.23 “The Monopolar Expedition”

My dad’s a bigger critic of TV than I am, and even he was laughing at this episode. And you know, it really was funny.

Somewhat unrealistic, but funny.

Ok, considering the relationship to Sheldon’s research, I can believe the Sheldon would have been invited on this expedition. However, I don’t see the university allowing him to bring his own team along–especially if someone had to drop out to get Sheldon in–and I certainly don’t think that the team would have included the three other guys of the show, especially when one has his Master’s in engineering. It makes no sense.

And while it was a huge opportunity, I certainly wouldn’t be one jumping up and down to move to the North Pole for three months. I’d be in the boat with Raj and Howard’s mothers (hilarious interactions, by the way), and be saying no way.

But it’s a TV show, and you can suspend reality. And that’s where we have the fun.

I love that Sheldon is actually attempting to play pranks. He’s probably the best prankster of all of them just because he’s always so serious all the time, and the guys are afraid of crossing him (solely because he reacts so annoyingly).

And I must say that I really enjoyed seeing the Snuggie make another appearance on network TV. We have the Snoodle here. The Slanket on 30 Rock. Oh, Snuggie…

What about that Snuggie, though? Was anyone thrilled with the Leonard/Penny storyline? I mentioned in my post last week that the tension between the two has been so inconsistent that the recent buildup has been rather strange.

I understand her being disappointed they’re all leaving. She’s losing four of her friends. And she may have some feelings left there, but they seemed overdramatized. But maybe that’s the best way they could fit some reaction to their leaving in there. Or was that Big Bang‘s attempt at a cliffhanger? I don’t know.

I did enjoy, though, Penny’s reaction to Sheldon’s typical knock. Her knock back was HILARIOUS. Definitely one for the books.

Anyway, overall, I liked the episode, despite this more-negative-than-anticipated review. It was just funny, and I think that’s what the finale needed to be. We’re not watching Ross and Rachel here. We’re watching a bunch of nerdy, geeky guys. Who needs the drama?

Unless killer robots are involved. You can’t have those without drama. And fire. Fire helps.

PS – Enjoyed Sheldon inventing the word Buzzingo (Bazingo?), but it sounds a little too close to Elliot’s “Bajingo” in Scrubs. If you watch Scrubs, you know what I’m talking about.