Friday, December 23, 2005

2005: The Best TV Year Ever? Highlighting all the Year's Bright Spots

As TV viewers, we have all been blessed this past year. Blessed with so many wonderful, engaging, and quality shows that we often find that there are too many and too few hours to catch them all. There have been incredible performances on the small screen this past year along with some touching, scary, intense and just plain amazing moments. Let's take a moment to reflect back on the best of television 2005. Here are the rules: all entries came from network television only (cable is a whole different ballgame) and are from the current season so far (there would be far too many if I went back to last season as well). OK, here we go...

2005's Best Primetime Moments
*Michael Gets an IM (Lost) - This has to be one of the most shocking moments in this show's history, which is riddled with shocking moments. Michael sits down at the computer in the mysterious hatch and suddenly, a message appears from none other than Walt!

*Wallace Returns (Veronica Mars) - Proving that this show never ceases to catch us off guard, Wallace returned right when Veronica needed him the most. It was a surprise, and a very welcomed one with that.

*Lilly Loses Control (Cold Case) - In an episode from earlier this season, Lilly was faced with a case that she never solved and it led to the death of three more Bubley brothers. She was so ridden with guilt and anger that she spent most of the episode in a complete emotional meltdown, a rare event for a character that guards her emotions like she does her cases.

*Bright Helps Hannah (Everwood) - In a touching and well played scene, Bright talked Hannah through her self esteem issues by locking her in the bathroom until she finally saw herself the way he does. Scenes like this cement this series as one of television's finest.

*The Map (The Amazing Race: Family Edition) - In one of the most exciting finishes in the history of this show, two neck-and-neck teams rushed to put together a puzzle-like map of North America so they could race to the finish line. The two teams finished within seconds of each other, and we were all reminded why this show is leaps and bounds above its competition.

*The Reunion (Lost) - After thinking that their loved ones were dead, the survivors of flight 815 learn that they weren't the only ones who survived the crash. The "tallies," joined with Michael, Jin, and Sawyer, finally meet up with the rest of the survivors on the beach. It was a three hanky event.

*Vera Baby Sits (Cold Case) - One of this show's more touching personal moments. Tough talking Vera got straddled with a baby for a day and fell asleep with the little guy in one of the interrogation rooms until Lilly entered with a child services agent in toe. It seems Vera had grown attached and was sad to see the baby go, so sad that he filled out adoption papers in the episode's closing moments.

*Mom's Back (Alias) - Leave it to Alias to give us one of the season's most shocking moments so far. We find out that behind all this Prophet 5 babble is none other than Irina Derevko, Syd's mother! Kudos to everyone for keeping Lena Olin's appearance a secret and providing one of 2005's most shocking TV moments.

*Rat Saw Bus (Veronica Mars) - Keith's discovery of a dead rat under one of the seats of the ill-fated bus was both shocking and puzzling. What does the rat have to do with the crash? Wouldn't be all love to know! No worries, Veronica will figure it out in due time.

2005's Best TV Performances
*Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars) - Kristen's navigation through Veronica's complicated emotions for Duncan and Logan this season has been flawless. She has the continued ability to make us laugh one moment and cry along with her the next.

*Anthony LaPaglia (Jack Malone, Without A Trace) - Anthony always turns out a top notch performance, but his work in the recent episode in which Jack's father dies is some of his finest. He managed to convey Jack's anger, sadness, relief, and love for his father in that final scene where his father passed without saying anything more than a too-late "I love you."

*Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson, Law & Order: SVU) - Another consistent performer, but her work in this season's episode involving a child that might have been/might not have been kidnapped was outstanding. We felt conflicted about whether to believe the little girl and elated when things turned out okay right along with Olivia.

*Chris Pratt (Bright Abbott, Everwood) - This has been a big season for Bright. He found out his girlfriend doesn't believe in premarital sex, almost dumped her for that reason, realized that he loved her, found out she was moving to live with her mom, then found out she was staying until the end of the school year, and most recently, helped her deal with her self esteem. Pratt has managed to turn the stereotypical school jock into a lovable character that keeps growing with each new episode.

*Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars) - We've seen a more emotional side to Logan this season as he deals with losing Veronica, the impact of the revelation that his father killed his girlfriend because he was sleeping with her too, and those infamous tapes. It has given Jason a chance to shine, and he has risen to the occasion perfectly.

*Kathryn Morris (Lilly Rush, Cold Case) - With Lilly still reeling from her experience with George last season and her sister's bang-up trip through town, Kathryn has shown us the beauty of subtly this season. We've quietly watched Lilly come unraveled, all leading up to her meltdown during the Bubley case. Since then, she's subtly shown us a more controlled Lilly, and she does it all with the perfect finesse.

2005's Best Shows
*Everybody Hates Chris (UPN) - the funniest comedy on television
*Law & Order: SVU (NBC) - best of its franchise because it has the most heart
*Without A Trace (CBS) - this show gets props for coming back from the mediocrity it had fallen into last season. Proof you can't keep a good show down for long.
*Lost (ABC) - TV's most literature-like show is having an incredible sophomore season
*Everwood (WB) - this show is having its most consistent season yet, with each episode turning into a classic
*Cold Case (CBS) - TV's best procedural because it blends character development and the cases perfectly is continuing the tradition this season with compelling storylines both on and off the Case.
*Veronica Mars (UPN) - It's a rare show that continues to get better and better with each passing week, but Veronica does it with one of television's most talented writing staffs.

Those are my picks for 2005's best moments, performances and shows. What are yours? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on 2005.

Making its final appearance until next year's holiday season...

It's a Wonderful Life - This is the second airing this season of this holiday classic. Saturday 8 p.m. NBC

Arthur's Perfect Christmas - This animated show finds Ellwood City in a flurry of holiday activity, but things aren't going as planned for Arthur. Saturday 8 p.m. PBS

A Christmas Story - Young Ralphie works to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB Gun is the perfect Christmas gift, but he keeps hearing that he'll "shoot his eye out!" Saturday 8 p.m. (marathon starts at 8 and runs for 24 hours) TBS

I'll Be Home for Christmas - Jonathan Taylor Thomas stars in this holiday movie about a college student who sets out on a trek home to win back his girlfriend. Saturday 9 p.m. ABC

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This is the animated holiday classic based on the famous Dr. Seuss book. Saturday 10 p.m. Cartoon Network

Finding John Christmas - Valerie Bertinelli stars in this 2003 movie about a woman who searches for her brother and finds a newspaper photographer and an angel. Sunday 9 p.m. CBS

A Rugrats Kwanzaa - Little Susie learns about honoring the legacy and where greatness comes from after Aunt T arrives at the Carmichaels. Monday 8:30 p.m. Nickelodeon


*The cast of ABC's Lost has the distinguished honor of being named Entertainment Weekly's "Entertainer of the Year." The magazine called the group of actors "treasured islanders" on a show that is "one of the biggest cult breakouts since The X-Files." The cast beat out Steve Carrell (# 2) and Naomi Watts (# 3) to claim the prime position.

*And finally, fans of the popular sci-fi drama Battlestar Galactica can get an early inside look at the show courtesy of iTunes. The special, Sci Fi Inside: Battlestar Galactica, will premiere on SCI FI Channel on January 2nd, but you can catch it on iTunes now. The special is the first program to be broadcast on the music program before hitting the traditional television airwaves.

That's all for today and 2005! I'm on hiatus for a couple of weeks to enjoy the holiday season with family. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with good times and good people. Be sure to catch up on shows like Veronica Mars (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. UPN) during this short rerun season. Thank you all so much for your comments, suggestions, corrections and readership. Be sure to tune in on Thursday, January 5th, 2006 for the latest edition of Pass the Remote. This New Year should bring plenty of new TV moments, fabulous performances and most important, brand new episodes of all your favorite shows! Pass the Remote will be there for all of them, so be sure to come back on January 5th! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ringing in the New Year with New Shows to Fill Your Primetime Resolutions!

2005 is almost nothing more than a distant memory and 2006 is quickly beating down our doors. With the advent of the new year brings the advent of the new shows. Here's a preview of what to expect:


In Justice - (ABC) Kyle MacLachlin stars in this legal drama as a corporate lawyer who decides to give back to the community by starting a foundation that works with the wrongly convicted. Premieres Sunday 1/1 at 10 p.m. and then moves to Fridays at 9 p.m. starting 1/6

The Book of Daniel - (NBC) Aiden Quinn stars as a father, minister and Vicodin addict who sees Jesus regularly. Premieres Friday 1/6 at 9 p.m. and then moves to 10 p.m. the following week.

South Beach - (UPN) Vanessa Williams costars in this new nighttime soap centered on the ultra-glam and hip South Beach of Miami. Premieres Wednesday 1/11 at 8 p.m.

The Evidence - (ABC) The alphabet network takes a bite out of the procedural pie with this crime drama that opens each episode with a montage of evidence collected during an investigation, and then rewinds to show us how it got there. Rob Estes stars and Martin Landau costars (so this is why they killed Jack's father on Without A Trace!). Premieres spring 2006

The Unit - (CBS) Scott Foley and Robert Patrick star in this look at a gung-ho Special Forces Unit. Premieres March 2006

Conviction - (NBC) Dick Wolf's (Law & Order) latest legal drama promises to focus more on the characters and less on the Law. This one focuses on a group of young assistant district attorneys led by Law & Order: SVU's Stephanie March reprising her role as ADA Alex Cabot. Premieres spring 2006

Windfall - (NBC) Luke Perry stars in this drama about 20 friends who share a $386 million lottery jackpot. Premieres spring 2006

The Bedford Diaries - (WB) Gilmore Girls' Milo Ventimiglia stars in this college show about a class on sexual behavior that requires students to videotape their thoughts on their sexual lives. Premieres spring 2006

What About Brian - (ABC) Barry Watson stars as the odd man out in his group of friends who are all either married or about to be married, and oh yeah, he's in love with his best friend's fiancee. Premieres March 2006


Four Kings - (NBC) Seth Green stars in this comedy from the Will & Grace helmers. In the show, four childhood friends move in together when one of them inherits a sprawling Manhattan apartment. Premieres Thursday 1/5 at 8:30 p.m.

Emily's Reasons Why Not - (ABC) Heather Graham stars as Emily, a woman who makes a list of reasons to avoid bad romantic choices. Based on the novel by Carrie Gerlach. Premieres Monday 1/9 at 9 p.m.

Crumbs - (ABC) Fred Savage stars as a prodigal son who returns home to Connecticut after a failed run in Hollywood. Also stars Jane Curtain and William Devane. Premieres Thursday 1/12 at 9:30 p.m.

Courting Alex - (CBS) Jenna Elfman stars as an attorney who works alongside her father (Dabney Coleman). Ed's Josh Randall stars as her love interest. Premieres Monday 1/23 at 9:30 p.m.

Sons and Daughters - (ABC) The troubled and crazy members of a family try to make it through life. Premieres winter 2006

The New Adventures of Old Christine- (CBS) Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as a single mom who's termed "Old Christine" after her ex-husband starts seeing a younger woman by the same name. Premieres March 2006.

The Loop - (Fox) The tales of a corporate wunderkind in Chicago who lives with his three friends, one of whom is his lifelong crush. Premieres spring 2006

Misconceptions - (WB) Jane Leeves stars as a mom who tracks down her daughter's test-tube father and then gets stuck with him. Premieres spring 2006

Love Monkey - (CBS) Tom Cavanagh stars in this dramedy about a Manhatten foursome who trade tales of their dating lives. Premieres Tuesday 1/17 10 p.m.

Pepper Dennis - (WB) Rebecca Romijn plays a journalist who comes undone emotionally and professionally after she meets the station's new anchorman (Cold Case's Josh Hopkins). Brooke Burns also stars. Premieres spring 2006

Free Ride - (Fox) A twentysomething moves back in with his parents. Premieres spring 2006

Modern Men - (WB) Jane Seymour stars as a life coach who helps three single guys navigate the dating scene. Premieres spring 2006

Teachers - (NBC) The story of a middle-school teacher who plays by his own rules. Premieres spring 2006

So, there's a peek at what new shows you can look forward to in the next few months. Which ones sound intriguing and which leave you scratching your head? And are you planning on catching any of them? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the new crop.

About Last Night... (on hiatus - like your favorite shows - until 2006 when reruns cease)

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - NBC continues with its week-long game show experiment Deal or No Deal. Over on UPN its the last night of the network's Everybody Hates Chris*mas week. Tonight, Chris gets stuck at the Laundromat with Drew and Tonya in this repeat from earlier this season.

A Christmas Story - Young Ralphie works to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB Gun is the perfect Christmas gift, but he keeps hearing that he'll "shoot his eye out!" 8 p.m. TCM (Turner Classic Movies)


*Actress Christina Ricci will guest star in an upcoming episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy. Not much has been released about her role, other than the information that she'll play a character that enters Seattle Grace "not as a patient but in a life-and-death situation." Ricci's appearance will highlight an already high profile episode of the medical series. Her episode will air immediately following the ratings-heavy Super Bowl on ABC. Look for the episode air on February 3rd.

*And finally, a follow up to a report earlier this week regarding the passing of actor John Spencer. The Hollywood Reporter erroneously reported that Spencer's Leo McGarity appeared in the future glimpse that NBC's The West Wing showed in a flash-forward scene from earlier this season. Upon further review, Leo was not shown in the scene, which somewhat uncomplicates the conundrum that the industry trade paper presented. Writers of the hit show plan to meet after the holidays to discuss how to handle the actor's death.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the special Pass the Remote Year End Wrap-Up Edition! All the best shows, stars, and moments of the season thus far! What and who will top the lists? Tune in tomorrow and find out! Plus, get all the latest television news!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vera Looks to Adopt! Plus, Lilly Closes Another 'Case'

First, a little housekeeping. I apologize for the lack of a new edition yesterday. A stomach virus got the best of me and I was down for the count. Anyway, things are better today and I'm back with your regularly scheduled edition with thoughts on this past Sunday's (better late than never) Cold Case. Now, you guys know that this show, along with Veronica Mars, can really not have a bad episode as far as I'm concerned (weaker ones, sure), so I might sound a little biased when I say that this episode was awesome! It really combined a lot of strong points and turned them into a fabulous outing. The case involving the 2001 murder of a popular local deli owner was gripping, all the characters had something to do, the Vera storyline was one of my all-time favorites, and the new girl was A-OK. Frank was one of those characters that is hard not to like. Sure, he turned a blind eye to his son's meltdown after losing his mother, but he tried to set it right, albeit a little too late. The case gave us plenty of viable suspects, so the resolution was both surprising and plausible. That "Stump" character was so despicable, especially when you thought he beat the poor dog, but he managed to have a few redeemable qualities. I like the way this show tends to make their characters, even those that are just guests, more dimensional and less flat like so many other crime shows. People aren't just good or bad, and Cold Case is the master at presenting the gray areas of human nature. Characters like the other night's Stump and Tommy are perfect examples. I found myself hating Tommy for what he did to King and his father, but at the same time, I wanted to hug him and make him better. I really felt bad for this kid. He had been through a lot with his mother and never really resolved all that grief that Lilly mentioned. It was just a very tragic case all around.

Writer Andrea Newman did a nice job of giving each of the detectives plenty to do without making it feel like a crowded house. This was especially impressive given the addition of the sixth detective, Kat Miller. You know I'm never going to be down with having six detectives on this show, but I do think that the show has done a much better job introducing her to us than they did with the Josie Sutton character. They sort of shoved her down our throats, but things have been much more gradual with Kat. From what we saw the other night, Kat has a lot of potential. She might actually add something to the show like Elena Delgado on Without A Trace instead of just clogging up the time for the other detectives like we saw in the past. She's smart, sassy, tough, and she has some mystery thing to go to on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. And since I'm such a sucker, I'm dying to know what it is!

Scotty had the obvious connection to the case, but Lilly had a more subtle one. It seems both she and Tommy had lost parents, only Tommy's mother died and Lilly's father apparently walked out on his family, leaving Lilly with plenty of grief and hate toward her mother. You know, I kind of expected this was the case all along, but having it confirmed explains a lot about Lilly and her relationship trust issues. Her father walks out on her when she's a child, her fiance/love of her life sleeps with her sister, and ADA Kite (remember him?), the next significant man to enter her life and convince her to trust him, drops her like a hot cake the second she puts her job before him. No wonder this chick has so many issues! Because I love my Lilly, I really want to see her find someone nice and wonderful who teaches her that not all men are out to steal your trust and then run off with it while sleeping with your sister! Staying on the personal front, how sweet was the Vera-finds-a-baby storyline? I knew that big lug was a huge softie deep down! He really fell for that little baby, and the experience made him realize that adopting was a viable option. If you remember from last season, he and his wife weren't able to have children and it has caused a huge rift in their relationship. The ending shot with him filling out the adoption application really gave me some hope. I'm looking forward to watching this storyline develop. Overall, an excellent episode that managed to fire on all cylinders to produce a first rate outing.

Sticking with Cold Case for just a minute, I just found some new scoop on the next new episode. The show will once again experiment with using one artist for its musical flashbacks. This time, it's Bruce Springsteen. Creator Meredith Stiehm wrote the upcoming episode that borrows a page from the canceled Reunion's playbook. In the episode, four friends graduate from high school in 1980, but one turns up murdered in 1988. Lilly and co work to uncover what went wrong in each of the four friends' lives after high school and how it all led to one of their deaths. The episode is scheduled to air [EDIT: JANUARY] 8th on CBS. And luckily, there's no Scroogey Fox executive to cut off the episode before we learn the identity of the killer (I'm looking at you Fox and your mistreatment of Reunion)!

About Last Night... NBC captured the first hour of the night with game show Deal or No Deal, followed by NCIS(r) on CBS and ABC comedies According to Jim and Rodney. At 9, ABC snatched the top spot with its Barbara Walters special Heaven: Where is it? How Do We Get There?, followed by a second hour of NCIS(r) and Fox's House. The final hour of the night went to ABC's Heaven, followed by Law & Order: SVU (r) on NBC and a special 48 Hours on CBS. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - It's night 3 of NBC's Deal or No Deal.

@9 p.m. - Martha Stewart chooses her apprentice on NBC's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.

A Home for the Holidays - Jamie Lee Curtis and George Lopez are featured on this annual special to highlight the importance of adoption. Sheryl Crow, the Goo Goo Dolls and Mary J. Blige perform. 8 p.m. CBS

A Very Brady Christmas - The Brady family, now grown with families of their own, attempts to get together for the holidays. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ABC Family


*Fans of Fox's The O.C. will have to stay up a little later to catch the teen soap starting in January. The network is moving the show from 8 p.m. EST to 9 p.m. EST. Two back-to-back episodes of That 70s Show will fill the 8-9 p.m. slot. This puts the show up against ratings powerhouse CSI, but help will arrive in February in the form of Fox's own ratings powerhouse American Idol. The network announced yesterday that it will air the semifinal-round results show on Thursdays at 8 p.m. before moving it back to Wednesday nights. The O.C returns January 12th on Fox.

*ABC's Commander In Chief is now available for download on Apple's iTunes music store. Just as with the current shows available, each episode will set you back $1.99. The political show about the first female president broke out as the most watched new series on network television this season. Past episodes are available now, and new ones will be added after they air on ABC.

*Looking for some exclusive scoop on Veronica Mars straight from creator Rob Thomas's mouth? Well, click on over to for an interview with the show's mastermind. Did Duncan sleep with Kendall? Why wasn't Meg questioned about the bus crash before she died? And what happens when a fan discovers an inconsistency? Get the answers to these questions and plenty more from the link above. The article is mildly spoilerish, with some small general upcoming plot points, but nothing major. After you're finished reading the interview, visit TV Guide columnist Michael Ausiello's column "Ask Ausiello" for information on how to help Thomas cast a role on the show.

*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday! Once again, CBS captured the week in total viewers and the younger demographic. The eye network had 9 of the top 10 shows last week with CSI (r) (#1), NCIS (r) (#2), CSI: NY (#3), Without a Trace (r) (#4), Criminal Minds (tie #5), Cold Case (tie #5), Two and a Half Men (r) (#8), CBS Sunday Movie The Christmas Blessing (tie #9), and CSI: Miami (r) (tie #9). Fox's House (#7) rounded out the top 10. To see the complete top 20 shows, visit USA Today.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a preview of the midseason offerings including all the new dramas and comedies about to debut on a TV near you. And be sure to tune in Friday for the last edition of the year! I'll have a wrap-up of the best of the season so far. That's Friday on Pass the Remote!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oh Little Town of Springfield? It's Christmas - 'Simpsons' Style!

The Simpsons is one of those shows that I don't watch regularly, but when I do catch it, I laugh hysterically! It never seems to show any signs of aging or losing its spark, and that's saying a lot for a show that is now in its 17th season! Maybe it's the fact that the characters never age (oh, the wonders of animation!) or the fact that the jokes never get old (how many times can Homer make a complete idiot of himself, and yet, we still laugh?), but something or a combination of somethings keeps this show just as fresh and refreshing as the day it premiered. One of the things that The Simpsons does better than anyone is the holidays, and last night's combination of three stories was no exception. Homer's recollection of the first Christmas was classic! Having himself as Joseph, Marge as Mary, and the best part of all, Bart as baby Jesus had me cracking up. One of the best parts was when one of the "three wise men" explained his gift and said that he was totally regifting because no one needs mirth! Moe as the Inn Keeper was perfect as well. I loved the scene in the manger after Jesus (aka Bart) was born and the king and his men were coming for the baby Jesus. One of the visitors yelled out, "manger danger!" It was just so classic Simpsons. Homer's (as Joseph) "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" comment was awesome as well. I loved how Homer's story also included the invention of the Christmas tree. I think this story was my favorite of the three.

The second story had Grandpa recounting the time he accidentally shot Santa out of the sky, and then Santa stiffed him. Back when he was a fighter pilot in WWII, he and another soldier (Burns) got shot down over the South Pacific. During the same battle, Grandpa's brother was also shot down and (Grandpa thought) killed. Grandpa and Burns found their way to a deserted island where "days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months back into days" according to Grandpa. Until one day, Burns shot down Santa's sleigh. Neither realized it was Santa at first, but once they did, they both worked to get his sleigh back in working order. Burns pulled a fast one at the last minute and stole Santa's sleigh and all of his toys. Once Homer recaptured the sleigh, the toys and Burns, Santa thanked him and promised to come back for him, but never did. Now, Grandpa wanted revenge and he was lying-in-wait for Santa's arrival. When the two met face-to-face, Santa told him that his brother didn't die in the war and was living in the South Pacific, so Santa took Grandpa there to see him. All was forgiven. And the reason why Santa never went back for Grandpa? He forgot and when he remembered, was too embarrassed then about all the time that had passed to go back.

The third and final story was a montage set to the Nutcracker suite. It showed the residents of Springfield rushing around preparing for Christmas with plenty of that holiday spirit - not the merry kind, but rather the "get out of my way because I'm in a hurry" kind. It showed Moe participating in his yearly holiday tradition of failed suicide attempts, including a string of popcorn that broke, a gun that fired only a Merry Christmas flag and a bunch of cars that only hit each other instead of him. The montage also showed Homer trying to find a gift for Marge on Christmas Eve. Of course, he struck out, but it didn't matter because Marge was prepared. She got him a gift, but it was a gift for him to give her since she knew he'd forget and panic. Overall, a funny look at the holidays with that Simpsons flare that keeps us talking about a show in its 17th season like it were in its first.

About Last Night... CBS won the first hour of the night with Cold Case, followed by Fox comedies The Simpsons and The War at Home and the ABC movie Once Upon a Mattress. At 9, program was delayed 20 minutes due to a presidential address, but CBS' s movie The Christmas Blessing landed the top spot followed by Desperate Housewives (r), and Fox comedies Family Guy and American Dad. The final hour of the night went to CBS's movie, followed by Grey's Anatomy (r) on ABC and the conclusion of American Dad on Fox. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - NBC premieres its week-long Deal or No Deal tonight. In the game show, contestants try their luck at winning 1 million dollars. Over on Fox, the Bluth brothers band together to teach George Sr. a lesson on Arrested Development. Just a reminder, you can catch reruns of UPN's Everybody Hates Chris Monday through Thursday of this week. Tonight, it's a rebroadcast of the Christmas episode from last week.

@9 p.m. - The Radio Music Awards air on NBC with performances by Elton John, Destiny's Child, Tim McGraw, Avril Lavigne and more.

@10 p.m. - CBS's CSI: Miami borrows a page from fellow Bruckheimer crime show Cold Case's playbook tonight as the CSIs investigate a cold rape case after new technology reveals the true rapist (I know what you're thinking, didn't we already read this description last week? The Futon Critic showed this episode as airing last week, but it will air TONIGHT. Sorry for the confusion).

King of Queens - Doug and Carrie get roped into volunteering at their church for the holidays. 8 p.m. CBS

How I Met Your Mother - Ted treats his friends to the "best New Years ever" by renting a Limo and taking them to all the best parties. 8:30 p.m. CBS

Two and a Half Men - Alan dates a Martha Stewart-like woman who takes over the home for the holidays. 9 p.m. CBS

Out of Practice - Oliver, Regina, and Ben throw a New Years' party, but end up going after the same girl. 9:30 p.m. CBS


*It's TV on DVD Monday! Still looking for a last minute holiday gift? Well, here's a few DVDs to stuff your stockings and trim your trees: Battlestar Galactica (season 2), The Amazing Race (season 7), ER (season 4), and Party of Five (season 2) will all hit shelves tomorrow. For more on these releases, visit

*Fox's Reunion will no longer air on a television near you. The canceled show was scheduled to air its last episode February 2nd, but Fox decided to cease airing the remaining episodes, effective immediately. This means that the December 15th episode (1994) was the show's last. The ratings-troubled show failed to find an audience in its overcrowded Thursday night slot prompting Fox to cancel it last month without a satisfactory conclusion to the season-long murder mystery.

*It's the news that fans of smaller shows such as Veronica Mars have been waiting for - Nielsen Media Research is adding digital video recorders (DVRs) to their ratings system. This means that the system used for determining which shows are hits and which are flops will also take into account recordings on DVRs such as TiVos. The company uses 9,000 television homes to estimate how many people watch every program on television, but it doesn't take recordings into consideration. A fact that many fans of "cult shows" such as Mars have long reviled. Shows like Mars are up against other popular shows, creating a conflict and resulting in only one show getting the viewer points because it was watched live instead of as a recording later. Under the new system, both shows will get the viewer points. Nielsen will implement the new system starting next week, but it is not expected to be fully representative of the 7 percent of U.S. television homes with DVRs until the summer.

*And finally, as you have probably heard by now, The West Wing actor John Spencer passed away on Friday. Spencer played presidential aid turned vice president candidate Leo McGarity on the popular NBC show. Spencer was 58 years old, and died suddenly from a heart attack. The actor made a name for himself on the hit drama L.A. Law, where he played quirky New York attorney Tommy Mullaney. But it was his work on The West Wing that earned him an Emmy. As for the popular political drama, writers are meeting this week to discuss how to deal with the actor's sudden death. One complication for the team, in a flash-forward episode earlier this season, Spencer's Leo McGarity was seen three years in the future. Spencer will be sorely missed by his colleagues. West Wing executive producer John Wells issued the following statement:
"John was a wonderful actor, a pleasure to work with and a true gentleman, but most importantly, a generous and gracious friend. He will be missed by everyone who ever had the great fortune to know him."
For more on the life and work of John Spencer, visit The Futon Critic.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for thoughts on Cold Case! Plus, all the latest television news!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Everybody Loves 'Chris!' Plus Plenty of Holiday Cheer on Your TV this Weekend

Anyone who thinks that sitcoms aren't funny isn't watching Everybody Hates Chris. This show blends narrator Chris Rock's traditional stand up material and the everyday experiences of family into a hysterical mixture. The show doesn't shy away from topics such as racism. The only downside to the show is its crowded timeslot on Thursday nights. With Alias on hiatus until the spring and Survivor off for a little while as well, it's a great time to familiarize yourself with Chris. And as an added bonus, UPN is airing reruns all next week! You can catch Everybody Hates Chris Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week starting at 8/7 p.m. on UPN. This show, inspired by Chris Rock's life is definitely worth tuning in for next week, especially since we're smack-dab in the middle or rerun season.

Last night's Christmas-themed episode brought plenty of laughs, but it also had an underlying message that brought plenty of heart. In the episode, all Chris wanted for Christmas was a walkman. He made it pretty clear to his mother by leaving the ad for it everywhere - on the bottom of the iron, in the refrigerator and even rolled up on his mother's curler. There was no doubt about it, Chris wanted a walkman, and it looked like he was going to get one until the water heater broke. Getting a new one was expensive, so Julius and Rochelle couldn't afford anymore Christmas gifts. Unfortunately for Chris, his present was the only thing they hadn't purchased yet, leaving him without a walkman. The funny part about this storyline was the way his mother made it up to him. Chris got the largest piece of meat at dinner, the television whenever he wanted it, his siblings were forced to do the chores instead of him, and so on. Through his narration, Chris told us that this ended up being better than a Christmas present, and in the end he got some serious praise from his parents for the way he handled the whole situation, and we were all reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. That was the extent of the heart part of the episode, so onto the funny. At school Chris's teacher assumed that his family was poor because they're black. She was hosting a can food drive and she made sure to mention to Chris that he didn't have to bring anything. Of course, his mother insisted that he bring in lots of cans, but none of those store brands because she didn't want people thinking they were poor. Each time Chris brought cans to school, he was sent home with a box of food, angering Rochelle even more. At the very end of the episode, the family was sitting around the television on Christmas morning watching the local news when they saw Chris's teacher on the news about to deliver a basket full of food to a "poor family." Next thing you know, there's a knock on Chris's door, and Rochelle, still unaware that the story she's watching unfold is happening outside her door, gets up to answer it after saying that it would be embarrassing to be on the news and have everyone know that you're poor. It was just one of many hysterical moments on this first-rate comedy.

About Last Night... CBS claimed the first hour of the night with comedies Two and a Half Men (r) and How I Met Your Mother (r) on a special night, followed by ABC's movie The Santa Clause and NBC's double-feature of Joey. At 9, CSI (r) won the hour for CBS, followed by NBC's The Apprentice and ABC's movie. The final hour of the night went to CBS's Without A Trace (r), followed by the final hour of NBC's The Apprentice and ABC's movie. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Bernie decides that he and Wanda need some alone time on Fox's The Bernie Mac Show.

@9 p.m. - Annabeth prosecutes a 14 year old boy charged with murder after he hits an opponent with a bat at a youth baseball game on CBS's Close to Home.

@10 p.m. - "Bill Nye the Science Guy" guest stars on CBS's Numb3rs as Don investigates a series of fires linked to a radical environmental group.

@8 p.m. - Lilly and Scotty open the 2001 case of a beloved deli owner killed by one of his employees on CBS's Cold Case (you know the drill, this show might start late due to NFL coverage on CBS).

Jingle All the Way - Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this 1997 movie about a father who goes to great lengths to find the illusive hot toy of the season. 8 p.m. ABC Family

Rugrats Chanukah Special - Grandpa Boris and his old rival Schlomo perform in a play about the holiday's meaning. 2 p.m. Saturday Nickelodeon

Frosty the Snowman/ Frosty Returns - This animated version of the beloved Christmas carol follows Frosty as he tries to escape the evil Professor Hinkle. 8/8:30 p.m. Saturday CBS

Robbie the Reindeer - Two back-to-back episodes of this animated comedy holiday special about Rudolph's son. The first finds Robbie competing in the Reindeer Races in order to earn a place on Santa's sleigh. In the second episode, Robbie gets help from a group of Vikings as he battles archenemy Blitzen over a reindeer theme park. 9/9:30 p.m. Saturday CBS

The Simpsons - Three stories highlight this special holiday episode. In the first, Homer gives his version of the birth of Christ after the minister's car breaks down and he can't make it to church in time. In the second, Grandpa reminisces about his days as a WWII fighter pilot and the time he accidentally mistook Santa for the enemy and shot him out of the sky. The third and final story is set to the famous Nutcracker ballet as the people of Springfield prepare for Christmas. 8 p.m. Sunday Fox

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
- Chevy Chase stars in this 1989 holiday comedy. The Griswalds' plans for a huge Christmas go awry with hysterical results. 9 p.m. Sunday NBC

The Christmas Blessing - This follow-up to The Christmas Shoes stars Neil Patrick Harris. In this movie, Nathan from The Christmas Shoess is all grown up and is now a medical resident, but he begins to rethink his career choice when he loses a patient and moves back in with his father. 9 p.m. Sunday CBS


*And finally today, the WB will air the entire first season of Beauty and the Geek next month before the new season begins. The reality show that pairs beautiful women with geeky men in a competition will air a marathon beginning January 2nd at 8 p.m. with subsequent airings each night at the same time. The fifth and sixth episodes (the last two of the season) will air back-to-back on Friday, January 6th at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m, respectively. The new season starts January 12th on the WB.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in Monday for holiday hijinks with The Simpsons (Sunday's Cold Case episode is being delayed in my area until the middle of the night, so I'll bring you coverage of that on Tuesday) ! Plus, all the latest television news!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vaughn's Back! Whoops, 'Alias' was Just Kidding!

Even though we all saw it coming, it was still somewhat of a bummer to learn that the whole "Vaughn's back!" was nothing more than a series of Syd's memories invoked by Prophet 5. I found myself feeling sad for Sydney all over again when she had to once again say goodbye to Vaughn. It was nice to see the two together again, and in new scenes. The show totally could have gone through the archive and pulled out the scenes they needed from old episodes, but they went the extra mile and re-shot them to give us extra dialogue and reaction from Syd. I thought it worked really well, and it was a nice way of allowing Syd to let go. The do-over of the hospital scene posed an interesting question. Did the "doctor" give Vaughn something that led to his death? Syd said something about the last time she gave him that substance to drink, he ended up dead. Perhaps it wasn't just the shooting that killed Vaughn after all. I totally thought Syd gave Prophet 5 the correct information, so I was very happy to learn that she did not. Of course, this is going to get her in hot water as soon as they figure it out.

Ok, so Vaughn's back/not back was no surprise, but that doesn't mean the entire episode was predictable. Not in the slightest bit! Irina Derevko was pulling the strings on Prophet 5's kidnapping and extracting information from Syd!!?? The same Irina Derevko who is also her mother!? How in the world did they manage to keep Lena Olin's appearance a secret in this day and age of internet gossip?? Of maybe I'm the only one who didn't know? Now the question is, what does Irina want with Horizon's location? And after she thought she got the correct location, she left, leaving Syd (who still doesn't know that her mother is behind the whole thing) alone with Kelly "I had Gordon Dean killed so I could have more power" Peyton. Syd used a syringe to get the better of Miss Peyton and then hurried out of the room. I totally fell for the whole editing trick with the shots of Syd interlaced with the shots of Jack and Renee and thought they were all at the same place. What was up with that creepy nursery Jack and Renee encountered at their location? Is it set up for Syd, and if so, did her mother set it up so she could have Syd and the baby with her? In true Alias fashion, the show ended on a huge cliffhanger that we'll have to wait until March to resolve. As Syd made her way through the different rooms, she went out on what seemed to be a roof. There was the sound of a helicopter pulling away, and Syd walked over to the edge only to learn that she was on huge ship in the middle of the ocean! How will anyone ever find her out there? You've got to hand it to Alias, nobody does cliffhangers better than they do.

About Last Night... CBS won the first hour of the night with comedies Still Standing and Yes, Dear, followed by NBC's E-Ring (r) and ABC comedies George Lopez and Freddie. At 9, Criminal Minds on CBS won the hour, followed by ABC's Lost (r) and Fox's Trading Spouses. The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: NY, followed by Law & Order (r) on NBC and ABC's Alias. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~

The Santa Clause - Tim Allen stars in this family film about a man who accidentally kills Santa, and therefore, must assume his duties. 8 p.m. ABC

Everybody Hates Chris - Julius and Rochelle can't afford to buy Chris the Christmas gift he wants after the water heater breaks. 8 p.m. UPN

The O.C. - It's the third annual "Chrismukkah" episode. The gang searches for the best Christmas trees and Summer feels some of the holiday blues. 8 p.m. Fox

Joey - Two back-to-back episodes, but the second one is Christmas-themed. In the second episode, Joey throws a holiday party at his apartment, but he has to iron out some wrinkles between him and Alex. 8 p.m. (holiday episode 8:30 p.m.) NBC

Reunion - Each chapter takes place during a different season of 1994, starting with New Years. 9 p.m. Fox


*NBC's Will & Grace is going live again. The comedy will air a live episode on January 12th, just as it did earlier this season with the premiere. In the episode, Karen throws a birthday party and ends up staying in the bathroom with her friends for most if it. Once again, the show will do two different versions - one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast. Will & Grace is in its 8th and final season on NBC.

*Dancing with the Stars contestant Romeo will not be a part of the upcoming season as originally announced. The young rapper/actor is suffering from a basketball injury and is unable to compete in the reality dance competition that pairs celebrities with professional dancers. Romeo's father and hip hop mogul Master P will take his place when the season begins January 5th on ABC.

*And finally, congratulations to the writing staff at Veronica Mars. The show picked up a Writers Guild of America nomination for the second season opener, "Normal is the Watchword." In the episode, Veronica investigates doping allegations at Neptune High and the season's bus crash mystery is revealed. Series creator Rob Thomas penned the episode. The awards will be handed out February 4th at ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for thoughts on television's funniest comedy Everybody Hates Chris (you've gotta love a show that keeps it real even for a Christmas episode!). Plus, all the latest television news and a jam-packed edition of Primetime Pass with plenty of Holiday Highlights (yes, it's getting very close to Christmas and the specials just keep rolling in)!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Thrilling Finish for a Slow Paced 'Race!' Plus, Holiday Programming in Primetime Pass!

Well, it may not have been the most thrilling or well-traveled edition of The Amazing Race, but I still walked away satisfied with the family experiment. As I have said, I wouldn't want the show to use families for every edition, but I thought it worked for a nice change of pace. Whenever another season draws to a close, I always find myself feeling a bit bummed to say goodbye to the teams that I have gotten to know so well over the course of the race. This season's teams are no exception. I'll miss the Linz boys' constant joking and sister Megan's "can do" attitude, I'll miss the Bransen family and how well they worked together, and yes, I'll even miss the Weavers (I wasn't on the hate train like most of the audience anyway). But as they say, when one season close, another one opens. Did you guys see the previews for the next edition?! We're back to two teams and spanning the globe! I can't wait for television's best reality series to return to its wonderful, glorious self! Too bad we have to wait until February.

For a Race that was not as exciting as it has been in the past, it sure had a heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat ending last night! It started with the Weavers getting a substantial lead after all the teams flew to Montreal, Canada. While the teams were trying to find the quickest flight to Montreal, the Bransens made the big mistake of taking the first earlier flight they could find (landed 10 minutes before the other flight) and then going on and on about it to the camera. This is a HUGE mistake on this show. So wouldn't you know, the Bransens' flight somehow managed to lose time in the air and land about 25 minutes later than scheduled. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the other two teams had found a flight that got them in an hour earlier than the other flight, unbeknownst to the Bransens. Once the earlier flight landed, the Weavers instantly found a taxi while the Linzes struggled to figure out how they were supposed to travel. They finally realized that the clue said "travel by TAXI," and they were on their way to Montreal's Underground City to receive their next clue. So, it's one misstep so far for the Linzes. At the Underground City, the Weavers almost ran right by the clue box, but Mama Weaver caught it. The Linzes arrived after the Weavers had already left, and they did run right by the clue box. This set up a seemingly never ending montage of the family running around the Underground City looking for the clue box. Linz misstep number 2. They eventually found it and headed off to the Detour - Slide or Roll. In Slide, teams had to make their way to the ice rink and participate in a game of curling. Each team member had to get the rock in the house in order to receive their next clue. In Roll, teams had to travel to the arboretum and roll four logs along a logging track. The Weavers and the Linzes chose Slide. But what about the Bransens? They finally landed and made their way to the Underground City where they, too, missed the clue box. Soon, though, they were headed to the Roll Detour.

The Weavers had the best taxi driver ever (such an exception on this show), so they had plenty of time at the Detour to complete the task and leave before the Linzes arrived. What is it about taxi drivers not knowing where anything is on this show? Isn't it their job as a taxi driver to know where everything in their city is located? This always boggles the mind. Anyway, the Linzes easily completed the Detour, and they decided that curling is their new favorite sport. One brother even remarked that he was going to open an ice rink for curling in Cincinnati. Hey, maybe they'd consider joining the U.S. Olympic team considering curling isn't really one of our strong sports, and the Linzes were pretty good, which is probably good enough to qualify! Anyway, both teams were headed to the American Pavilion, which was built for the 1967 World Expo. Once again the Weaver's taxi driver got them right there, and the team climbed the five flights of stair to the next clue box, which instructed them to travel to an industrial park and search for door J. For those who aren't familiar with the American Pavilion, it's a huge, can't-miss-it Epcot-looking structure in the city. Now, you would think that anyone who lived there would know where it was considering the fact that it's HUGE! But once again, we encounter the taxi driver problem. The Linzes taxi driver had no clue where to go. Luckily, the team found someone who did and they got their next clue. Meanwhile, the Bransens struggled through the Roll Detour and headed to the American Pavilion. At door J, the Weavers found a Roadblock, which required one team member to complete a catch on a trapeze. Rolly easily completed it, and the team was headed to Parque Olympique where they had to ride a golf cart into the stadium to find their next clue, but Phil told us that there was only one entrance to the stadium for golf carts (cue the dum, dum, dum music). The Linzes struggled with the Roadblock, allowing the Bransens to catch up. Both teams eventually finished and headed to the Parque Olympique.

Meanwhile, the Weavers searched and searched the stadium, but couldn't find the correct entrance. The other teams arrived just as the Weavers found the entrance. They quickly found it as well and all three teams were now engaged in the most difficult Amazing Race challenge ever! Teams had to search the entire 62,000-seat stadium for one of three boxes that held a departure time for a flight to a mystery location. The exhausted teams searched and searched, but came up empty. Finally, the Linzes found a 5:50 a.m. departure, and they went to get some rest. The Bransens found a 5:45 a.m. departure. The Weavers gave up, but Rolly got them all moving again and they finally found the 5:55 a.m. departure. The next morning, the teams flew to the mystery location (a.k.a. Toronto), where they had to take the elevator to the highest observation deck of the CN Tower, the world's tallest building. At the top, they had to use binoculars to spot their next clue on the ground. The Bransens and the Linzes spotted it at almost the same time while the Weavers struggled a bit. Eventually, all three teams reached the clue box and encountered another Detour - Ship or Shoe. In Ship, teams had to sail across Toronto Harbor to a ship where one team member had to climb the mast and retrieve the flag. In Shoe, teams had to travel to the Bata Shoe Museum, pick a shoe, and then find the woman whose foot it fit. The Linzes and the Weavers quickly completed Sail, while the Bransens struggled with Shoe, but still managed to snag second place heading into the next challenge waiting at Niagara Gorge.

Teams had to ride in a jet boat up the gorge to a whirlpool where they would find there next clue. The Linzes grabbed the first boat and completed the task, where they learned they would have to travel in their jet boat to the American side of the gorge. With the Bransens right on their tail, the Linzes reached the docks and learned that they would need to complete a jigsaw puzzle of the states and countries that make up North and Central America (it was a subtle reminder to the viewers that the teams never left this hemisphere). Both teams raced to finish the puzzle in a nail-biting, heart-pounding finish. The Linzes finished just ahead of the Bransens and they raced down the footpath to find Phil and all the eliminated teams waiting at the million dollar mat. The overwhelmed Linzes were speechless to learn that they had won the Race. The Bransens came in second and the Weavers in third. And why does this dang show always make me cry? Between Megan's tears of joy, Wally's choked up speech about how proud he is of his daughters, and the Weaver daughters crying about their father, I was a mess. I'm getting choked up again just writing about it. Damn this show! Moving on, for those who have not seen the mini-race between the Bransens and the Weavers, you can click here. If you don't want to know the results, STOP READING NOW! The teams had to use shapes that symbolized the different challenges on the race and place them on the correct location on that map jigsaw they completed. The Bransens finished first and they had all of the shapes in their correct locations, so they won the new GMC Yukon XL, much to my delight as I was pulling for this team since the beginning of the race.

About Last Night... CBS started the night on top with NCIS, followed by ABC comedies According to Jim and a special showing of Hope & Faith and the first hour of Fox's Fear Factor. At 9, Fox took the lead with House, followed by the first hour of The Amazing Race on CBS and two repeats of According to Jim on ABC. The final hour of the night went to NBC's Law & Order: SVU (r), followed by the final hour of CBS's The Amazing Race and ABC's Boston Legal. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Randy seeks revenge on a grumpy restaurant owner by stealing the eatery's mascot on Fox's That 70s Show.

@9 p.m. - Hotchner and his team work to get inside the mind of a man whose delusions lead him to murder on CBS's Criminal Minds. As I promised last week, here's your weekly reminder to catch up on reruns of UPN's Veronica Mars. Veronica investigates whether or not the driver from the bus accident committed suicide and caused the accident.

@10 p.m. - Syd is kidnapped and reunited with Vaughn on ABC's Alias, but things may not be as they seem. This is the last new episode until spring. Over on CBS, Danny gets trapped in a panic room with the body of an eccentric millionaire on CSI: NY.

George Lopez - George gets out of visiting Angie's family for the holidays, but winds up alone on Christmas. He soon finds that he appreciates his family more than he realizes. 8 p.m. ABC

Freddie - Freddie holds a holiday party for his complex, but a jealous neighbor reports him to the board when he realizes that there are too many people living in the apartment. 8:30 p.m. ABC

One Magic Christmas - Mary Steenburgen stars in this family movie about a mother struggling to find the true meaning of Christmas. 9 p.m. Hallmark Channel


*There might be new hope for fans of Fox's Arrested Development. Trade papers are reporting that pay-cable channel Showtime and fellow broadcast network ABC are both considering picking up the ratings-plagued series. Fox cut the show's 22-episode order to 13 last month, but it has not officially canceled the series, which precludes either network from picking it up yet. The cost of the show could also put a snag in the possible plans.

*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday! CBS kept its winning streak alive last week as the network took its 12th win in a row. Leading the eye network was CSI(#1), Without A Trace (#2), Survivor (finale) (#3), Survivor(#4), 60 Minutes (#5), and CSI: Miami (tie #8). ABC landed in second with Grey's Anatomy(#7) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (tie #8). NBC's Law & Order: SVU (#6) and ER (tie #8) rounded out the top ten. To see the complete Nielsen Top 20, click on over to USA Today.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for thoughts on Alias (who thinks this "Vaughn's back" thing is all just a big, nasty trick? Yeah, me too). Plus, all the latest television news!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

'Tis the Season for Giving Thanks! What TV Shows are We Most Grateful for?

As the first half of the television season comes to a close and the holiday season picks up, I thought it would be in the spirit of the season to reflect on the first half and make a list of all of the things in television that I'm thankful for this year. Yes it is the season for giving, so it seems only fair that we give thanks to the shows that give us so much. Here's a list of the TV things that I'm thankful for:

-I'm thankful that CBS giveth and then taketh away the Josie Sutton character on Cold Case. The show has been running so smoothly since her departure, proving that the current group didn't need the "Sutton" change.

-I'm thankful to UPN for its continued belief in Veronica Mars. The network moved it against Lost, which many thought was sudden death for the show, but it has actually gained viewers this season.

-I'm thankful for Gabby and Carlos on Desperate Housewives, for without them, I might have given up on the show right before it got excellent again. And their latest storyline just keeps getting better and better!

-I'm thankful for Medium's Allison and Joe Dubois for showing us a real relationship and family. Somehow refereeing kids and juggling schedules seems a lot closer to my family memories than the usual family treatment on TV.

-I'm thankful for Law & Order: SVU's great storytelling. With gripping, emotional cases that often leave you shocked in its 7th season, this show gets better with age.

-I'm thankful for the hatch on Lost. This thrilling storyline is keeping me at the edge of my seat, and the hatch-centric episodes earlier this season were so riddled with mythology that the episodes played out more like works of literature than a television show. That's good writing!

-I'm thankful for the character Veronica Mars. She's easily one of the smartest, best written characters to come from a television set in the history of the medium. With a quick wit, charm, and smarts this girl proves she can play with the big boys and still have time for the teenage stuff too.

-I'm thankful for Marshall on Alias. Some things may change, but other remain the same and Marshall is still the gadget-loving geek who brings the humor on an often dark show.

-I'm thankful for Dr. Brown and Dr. Abbott's love/hate relationship on Everwood. These two never fail to make me laugh with their constant game of one-upmanship.

-I'm thankful for Lilly Rush because without her, Cold Case would be missing that extra spark. Her outer strength and inner vulnerability facilitate her interrogations, and her tremendous compassion mixed with her too-quick-to-judge mentality create an interesting dichotomy. And this season she's dealing with a lot of residual effects after her encounter with serial killer George Marks, so the character just gets more and more interesting.

-I'm thankful for Veronica Mars' Logan and Weevil teaming up to combat a greater evil. This storyline has Bosom Buddies written all over it! New episodes can't come soon enough!

-I'm thankful for CSI's ability to not take itself too seriously. The show deals with serious crimes, but still finds a way to lighten them up, such as an episode that aired on Thanksgiving about a man who literally eats himself to death. It also has its more serious moments like the episode where an entire family, save the young daughter, was murdered in their suburban home. After a tears-inducing episode like that, we're always thankful for the lighter one that follows.

-I'm thankful for Without A Trace creator Hank Steinberg for getting the show back on track this season. This show went from a low priority on my list last season to a top one this year. It's nice to see compelling cases again, less office soapiness, and the addition of Elena Delgado.

And finally...

-I'm thankful for wonderful writing, brilliant acting, creativity, and all around greatness in television this season. Shows such as Veronica Mars, Cold Case, Everwood, Lost, Law & Order: SVU, and Without A Trace have been showing us how excellent television shows can be when they combine the attributes above. The bar has been set very high.

So there you have it. A list of a few of the things that I'm thankful for from television so far this season. What TV shows, characters, storylines, etc are you thankful for? Leave a comment with your picks.

About Last Night... ABC won the first hour of the night with Wife Swap (football on the West Coast), followed by CBS comedies King of Queens (r) and How I Met Your Mother (r) and NBC's Elton John special. The ratings troubled Arrested Development didn't get any help last night, it finished behind WB's 7th Heaven and tied for fifth with UPN. At 9, ABC continued to lead with Monday Night Football, followed by CBS comedies Two and a Half Men (r) and Out of Practice (r) and NBC's Las Vegas (r). The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: Miami, followed by football on ABC and Medium (r) on NBC. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - On CBS, the NCIS team investigates the murder of a reality show contestant. Over on NBC, it's a 90-minute episode of Fear Factor that features a special "Blind Date" theme. Contestants will be matched up with partners that they have never met.

@9 p.m. - It's the two-hour season finale of CBS's The Amazing Race. The final three teams race to the finish line and the million dollar prize. Just a reminder, immediately following the West Coast broadcast, you can log onto to and watch the second and third place teams compete in a mini-race for a new car. Over on Fox, Cynthia Nixon guest stars on House as a patient who has cried wolf in the past, but might have a deadly disease.

@10 p.m. - Alan Shore asks the firm's financial expert to help his secretary get out of credit card debt and the firm works a case of a man impersonating an FBI agent on ABC's Boston Legal.

Bones - Brennan, Booth, and the Jeffersonian crew spend their Christmas quarantined in the lab after skeletal remains release a deadly virus. 8 p.m. Fox

According to Jim - Cheryl and Dana's mother visits for the holidays and the two couples compete for her affection. 8 p.m. ABC

Hope & Faith - Faith surprises everyone with personal, extravagant Christmas gifts. (Special night and time) 8:30 p.m. ABC


*Sci Fi Channel is coming to the rescue of fans of ABC's canceled Night Stalker. The cable network purchased the rights to air all 10 episodes of the series, including the 3 that never aired. The show ended on a cliffhanger that ABC never resolved. Look for the episodes to start airing on Sci Fi next summer.

*Actor Jason Bateman will guest star on an upcoming episode of NBC's Scrubs. The Arrested Development actor will complete the trade that started with Scrubs star Zach Braff guesting on Arrested several months back. Bateman will play a domestic ostrich farmer who doesn't thank J.D. (Braff) or Turk after receiving treatment at the hospital. J.D. and Turk are upset by the lack of gratitude and decide to track down the patient, but they end up going to toe-to-toe with the ostriches. There is no airdate yet for the episode. Scrubs returns to NBC on January 3rd.

*And finally, as I reported in today's Special Edition, the Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning. On the television side, sophomore shows Desperate Housewives and Lost walked away with nominations in Best Comedy and Best Drama, respectively, as well as many of the acting categories. Freshman series Prison Break also came away with a lot including nominations for Best Drama and Best Actor (Wentworth Miller). If you missed today's earlier edition regarding the announcement and reaction, be sure to scroll down or click the link above to check it out.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for The Amazing Race finale (will the Linz missteps keep them from the million?)! Plus, all the latest television news!

NEWS ALERT: The Golden Globe Nominations

Nominations for the 63rd Annual Golden Globes were announced this morning for both movies and television. Here are the television nominees (to see the movie nominees, click here):


Touchstone Television

Touchstone Television

Touchstone Television

Original Film and Adelstein/Parouse Prods.

HBO Entertainment i.a.w. BBC














HBO Entertainment

Touchstone Television

Leverage and Closest to the Hole Prods. i.a.w. HBO Entertainment

Chris Rock Enterprises, Inc. and 3 Arts Entertainment i.a.w Paramount Network Television

Acme Prods. i.a.w. 20th Century Fox Television

Lions Gate Television i.a.w. Tilted Prods.














Mark Platt Prod., Aspetuck & Stone Vialleg Picturs Prod. i.a.w. HBO Films

DreamWorks Television

Bellah Films, Good Shepard Prods. i.a.w. HBO Films

Showtime, Anne Kindberg Prod.

BBC/BBC America

Mark Gordon Prod. i.a.w. HBO Films

























What they got right... Zach Braff, Everybody Hates Chris (I can't contain my excitement over this one!), Eva Longoria (finally!), Lost, Naveen Andrews just to name a few.

What they forgot... Veronica Mars, Everwood, Kathryn Morris, the cast of Everwood, Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Cold Case, Mariska Hargitay (last year's winner!), Jason Dohring, Without A Trace and a host of others.

The 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards air live January 16th on NBC. What do you think about the nominations? Did your favorites make the cut? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And, be sure to tune in later today for the regular edition of Pass The Remote with a list of TV things I'm thankful for this season!

Monday, December 12, 2005

These TV Specials and Movies Bring Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

They come around every year at this time and they help spread the holiday spirit. No, I'm not talking about the big sales at your local mall or the carollers outside your door. I'm talking about the ubiquitous Christmas specials and movies. For some reason, there are some of these annual specials and movies that we just can't get enough of, so we watch them year after year until they assimilate into our holiday traditions. Here's a list of some of my all time favorite holiday specials and movies.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Who can resist the story of the little reindeer that could? Not only does he have a nose that glows, but in this holiday classic, he also has an interesting noise to go along with that shiny nose. Plus, you have to love the fact that those snooty reindeer that wouldn't allow him to join in any reindeer games got theirs when good old Rudolph ended up leading that sleigh. It's the classic misfit story set to a Christmas theme. What could be better?

Frosty the Snowman - How awesome is this take on the classic holiday song? Not only do we have an animated Frosty, but also a mean magician and his rabbit sidekick! And don't even lie to me and tell me that you didn't have tears running down your face when you thought Frosty had melted in that greenhouse! I was so relieved when he came back to life.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - It really isn't the holiday season until I've seen Charlie Brown pick out that poor tree. Plus, this special highlights an ongoing theme for the Christmas season: What is the true meaning and how does it get so lost in the commercialism? No one does it better than Charlie Brown. And how great is it that Snoopy represents all the commercialism with his heavily decorated, prize winning dog house?

It's A Wonderful Life - This movie reminds us all how lucky we are, and yet, how much we take the important things in life for granted. The story of George Bailey and his feelings of ending his life on Christmas Eve takes on the sometimes dreary undertones to the holiday season. As the movie progresses, though, we get a sense of the value of a life and we end on a heartwarming note that reminds us all to hug our loved ones. It's no accident that this movie is a classic.

Mickey's Christmas Carol - This has to be one of my top holiday favorites. Charles Dickens' classic story has been told over and over again, but my favorite features Mickey and the gang. Scrooge McDuck is perfect for the role, and Mickey and his poor struggling family just break your heart. I love the Goofy ghost as well. This special does a nice job of telling the classic tale.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Sometimes you just want to watch a holiday movie and laugh over and over again. This movie is still funny to me, and I've seen it every year since it came out (1989). In fact, some parts get funnier as I get older and get even more out of it. This movie has so many classic moments, but some of my favorites are when Clark takes his family out to the middle of nowhere to get a tree and ends up under a tractor trailer, Clark's light fiasco, and Clark's sledding adventure. Just a hilarious holiday movie.

One Magic Christmas - The story of the family about to lose it all because of financial problems and an angel named Gideon that comes to their rescue is always one of my favorite holiday heartwarmers. It's just the quintessential Christmas movie because it reminds us all what truly matters.

Elf - This is the newest member of my holiday favorites club. This movie does a nice job of blending comedy with a Christmas message. I love watching the adventures of Buddy in the big city, but I also enjoy the journey he makes in finding his father and building a relationship with him. Plus, you've gotta love the Christmas spirit in the park at the end.

Those are just some of my holiday favorites. Which Christmas specials and movies do you watch every year when they light up our televisions? Leave a comment with your picks.

About Last Night... CBS won the first hour of the night with the first hour of its 2-hour Survivor finale, followed by the first half of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC and The West Wing on NBC. At 9, the second hour of Survivor on CBS came in first, followed by the second half of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and NBC's Law & Order: CI (r). The final hour of the night went to a tie between ABC's Grey's Anatomy and CBS's Survivor reunion show. NBC's Crossing Jordan came in third. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Michael reaches out to Lucille after his break up with Rita, but learns a disturbing secret about her. Meanwhile, George Sr. makes some plans in the "Prison Break" episode of Fox's Arrested Development. Over on NBC, Elton John's Las Vegas show comes to television in the special Elton John: The Red Piano

@10 p.m. - CBS's CSI: Miami borrows a page from fellow Bruckheimer crime show Cold Case's playbook tonight as the CSIs investigate a cold rape case after new technology reveals the true rapist.

7th Heaven - The Camdens help out during the holidays by taking part in a living nativity scene at the church, Eric dresses up as Santa at a convalescent home, Ruthie volunteers at a hospital, Lucy works with Habitat for Humanity and Kevin considers adopting a dog from the local shelter. 8 p.m. WB

Related - It's Christmas time in the Sorelli house and Ginnie is thrown for a loop when she learns at the last minute that her in-laws are coming into town for the holiday. 9 p.m. WB


*Which new shows receive the most buzz? Well it's not NBC's Inconceivable or Fox's Head Cases, which might be why both shows are now canceled (the "buzz" factor was measured before each show's demise). According to research firm Bandimensions (which used its propriety technology to round up written comments from Internet chatrooms, message boards, blogs, etc) NBC's My Name is Earl gets the most buzz of any new show, followed by Fox's Prison Break. Overall, CBS's new slate of shows received the collective best buzz. For more on the study and Brandimensions research, visit Yahoo! News.

*In case you didn't see it or haven't heard, 30-year-old Danni Boatwright is the latest Survivor to outwit, outplay, and outlast them all. The sports radio host from Kansas walked away with a 2006 Pontiac Torrent SUV in addition to the million dollar prize. Boatwright is a former Miss Teen and Miss USA contestant.

*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday! Look for the fifth season of Gilmore Girls on store shelves tomorrow in time for the holiday season. Also making debuts tomorrow, The Simpsons (season 7), Miami Vice (season 2), and The Dukes of Hazzard (season 5). For a complete list of tomorrow's releases, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a list all the wonderful things on television that I'm thankful for this year. Plus, all the latest television news!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Postcards for Amy to Ponder! And a Double Dose of Emotion on 'Trace'

We were treated to two powerful hours of television last night. First, there was an excellent episode of Everwood, followed by a moving Without a Trace. So many developments on last night's Everwood that it's hard to know where to begin! Let's start with Harold and Rose. After taking a trip to Africa and witnessing all of the famine first hand, Rose wanted to sponsor a child, which seemed like a good idea to everyone but Harold. I loved how Irv explained Rose's need to help to Harold. It made perfect sense and it's how we all react after witnessing a tragedy. He's absolutely right about how we react at first and then life takes over as time passes and we go back to living our own life. I wasn't prepared for Rose's shocker, though, at the end. I wonder if she will follow though with this adoption idea? Next, we have Jake and Nina. So, we finally know the truth about Jake and his past pain killer addictions and now, so does Nina. She really didn't take it too well. I'm still predicting that she and Andy end up together, especially after we saw her go running to him after she found out about Jake. It's just a matter of time, people. Speaking of people running to others, how about Amy and Ephram??! Sure, they slept together, but more importantly, Amy now knows that Ephram still loves her! How sweet was that moment when he told her and gave her the postcards that he wrote in Europe and never sent? This is why I will not rest until these two realize that they are made-for-each-other and finally get together for good! And finally, this brings us to Bright and Hannah who shared one of the most amazing scenes I've ever seen on television. How beautiful was that scene where he locked her in the bathroom? I know it doesn't sound that way to those of you who didn't see it, but trust me, it was amazing. He didn't let her out until she finally saw herself the way that he does. I love these two! Such an amazing hour of television, and I'm so sad that it's not returning until March (last night was its "Winter Finale" to make room for an eight-week showing of Beauty and the Geek)! Boo WB!

The second fantastic hour goes to Without a Trace, which managed to blend two very consuming storylines without sacrificing either of them. Tackling the amnesiac woman first, I really liked the way this show mixed it up a bit with this storyline. The agents weren't searching for a missing person because they had her, they were searching for her identity, and as we later found out, why she had blood all over her coat. The agents quickly concluded that she was blocking out whatever tragic event took place, and therefore, lost her memory. They only had a few pieces of the puzzle, but it was enough to slowly unravel the mystery of this young woman. I thought all of the agents were utilized well, and it was nice to see a Sam-centric episode. I love how she and Elena work together so well because the writers could have gone the more cliche route and had these characters have the cat-fight type of relationship. My concern for Martin is growing, especially after I saw him down the remainder of the bottle of pills. Someone is going to have to intervene here and fast! The second well done story was Jack's struggle with his father's failing health. Now, I'm not a huge Jack fan, although, the writers do a nice job presenting us with a very realistically flawed character. But, this storyline was very well done. I found myself struggling on the inside right along with Jack on whether or not to force his father to receive the kidney work that would save his life. Complicating everything was his rapidly deteriorating Alzheimers condition. Just when Jack thought everything was going to be okay because his father finally agreed to the treatment, he went back to his father's room and found that he had passed on. The thing that got me was that he went back to tell his father that he loved him. Yeah, the tears were flowing when he took his father's hand. It's difficult for a show like Without A Trace to tackle two emotional storylines, but they sure pulled it off last night.

About Last Night... CBS claimed the first hour of the night with Survivor, followed by NBC comedies Joey and Will & Grace and ABC's movie Head of State. At 9, CBS's CSI got one of its biggest audiences of the season and managed to beat all five other networks combined for the hour, followed by The Apprentice on NBC and ABC's movie. The WB's Everwood landed in fourth. The final hour of the night went to CBS's Without a Trace, followed by ER on NBC and ABC's Primetime. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Melinda helps a deceased mother (guest star Sonia Braga) reunite her husband and son on CBS's Ghost Whisperer.

@9 p.m. - Annabeth prosecutes a murder-for-hire case involving a drug lord on CBS's Close to Home. Over on NBC, it's the final episode of Three Wishes and the team arranges for a boy to meet his idol Bill Gates.

@10 p.m. - Don investigates the murder of a researcher who found a controversial skull on Native American land on CBS's Numb3rs.

@8 p.m. - CBS's Survivor wraps up another edition with a two-hour finale that whittles the competition down to the final two. Over on NBC, President Bartlett manages to bring peace between China and Russia and his daughter gets married at the White House on The West Wing.

@10 p.m. - Jordan works to close an old case and a mob hit man is suspected of murdering his brother's wife on NBC's Crossing Jordan. Over on CBS, Survivor hosts its reunion show and the winner is revealed.

Prancer - A young girl finds a wounded reindeer that she believes is part of Santa's sleigh in this 1989 feature film. Friday 8 p.m. ABC Family

I Want a Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown - This holiday special tells the tale of ReRun (the younger brother of Linus and Lucy) and his quest for a dog for Christmas. Snoopy's brother shows up and the trouble begins. Friday 8 p.m. ABC

Dear Santa - This one-hour special features Clay Aiken and Raven Simone as the U.S. Postal Service helps answer some children's letters to Santa. Friday 8 p.m. Fox

It's a Wonderful Life - This 1946 holiday classic follows the story of George Bailey who is visited by an angel on Christmas Eve. Through the angel, he learns what life would have been like if he had never been born. Saturday 8 p.m. NBC

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This live action film featuring Jim Carey brings to life the story of Whoville and the Grinch who tries to ruin Christmas for the Christmas-loving town. Saturday 8:30 p.m. ABC

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - Back-to-back episodes feature families from past episodes trying to reach out to others in their communities in an effort to "Pay it Forward." Look for appearances by First Lady Laura Bush, James Denton, Wayne Newton and Brian Wilson. Sunday 8 p.m. ABC

Grey's Anatomy - A young boy needs a heart transplant, but doesn't seem to want one and Alex needs help as he prepares to re-take his exam. Meredith works to remind Izzie of the true spirit of Christmas. Sunday 10 p.m. ABC


*Fox is closing the doors on Kitchen Confidential. The comedy aired its last episode last week and will be replaced with a double dose of Arrested Development on Monday nights. A measly 3.38 million viewers tuned in for the show's return last Monday. In total, the show only aired 4 of its original 13 order. Look for reruns of Development to follow new episodes starting next week.

*Survivor host Jeff Probst will continue extinguishing the torches of the reality show's contestants for at least a couple more years. He signed a deal with CBS to remain as host of the show until the 16th season, which takes him through 2008. Prior to the announcement of the deal, Probst had considered hanging up his torch. Survivor airs Thursday nights on CBS.

*Actress Justine Bateman will make an appearance on brother Jason Bateman's show later this season. The older sibling will guest star on an upcoming episode of Fox's Arrested Development. In the episode Michael (Jason Bateman) believes that he may have a long lost older sister (Justine Bateman) and decides to track her down. The episode is scheduled to air January 9th on Fox.

*And finally, ABC is releasing the identity of the next crop of ballroom baulkers for its upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. Actress Tia Carrere, journalist Giselle Fernandez, actor George Hamilton, WWE diva Stacy Kiebler, singer Drew Lachey, ESPN personality Kenny Mayne, actress Tatum O'Neal, former NFLer Jerry Rice, actress Lisa Rinna, and singer Romeo are all the latest entertainers to pair up with professional dancers and compete for viewers' votes. The new season starts January 5th with the results show premiering the following night, January 6th, on ABC.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in Monday for my picks for the best holiday movies and specials. Plus, all the latest television news!