It is like the universe knew I needed a sign to keep watching Once Upon A Time. As long as they include callbacks to Lost, I’m in. And by in, I mean a casual viewer.
I love your ‘I love you,’ but I’m getting tired of your ‘but.’ Yeah I heard it.
–Phil, “Punkin Chunkin”
Can we please effectively REVENGE these troublemakers out of the Hamptons before they ruin everything?!
This one is a little out there (sort of like the truth) but bear with me: as any X-Phile knows, Thanksgiving used to be OUR day. Now it seems to be stuck in an endless loop of 007 movies, the Twilight Zone, and whatever show a network decides to market the hell out of. But The X-Files marathon on Thanksgiving used to be where it was at: TV Guide even had a little ballot in the weeks before where you could vote for what episodes you wanted to see. I mean, can we bring stuff like this back? It was awesome.
Lucky for me, many of my favorites were also established favorites and I could guarantee their spot on the list. There had to be a television where I was peeling potatoes or getting the ingredients together for stuffing. There. Had. To. Be. And I was usually obliged. However, sometimes disaster struck. For a few years in my life, Thanksgiving wasn’t actually held at my house with an intimate group of relatives. No, I was carted off to another family’s Thanksgiving where not only was I denied the comfort of my own home, I was also denied easy access to The X-Files marathon. One particularly crummy Thanksgiving it was also my birthday. I have distinct memories of wandering around this house, pitifully telling anyone who I felt had the right to know that it was my birthday and at that moment all I wanted for my birthday was to be able to sit in peace and watch The X-Files. I wasn’t the most normal 9-year-old, I will give you that.
And that is how I associate The X-Files with Thanksgiving. In particular, I know I would always vote for “Darkness Falls” and “Humbug.” If it was an option, definitely “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’.” And without fail, you could always expect to see “Home,” an episode that always sticks with you. I always happened to tune in when this episode was starting, I swear…I know exactly how to recognize it…a baseball field appears…And more than likely you would expect to see “Pusher,” “Bad Blood,” “Triangle,” and “X-Cops.” Us fans tended to lean toward the quirkier X-files on our holidays; major mysteries like Samantha Mulder could be left for more run-of-the-mill marathons.
In my distress over realizing that Thanksgiving has never quite been the same since new episodes of Friends aired on the actual holiday, I got to thinking about what I remember watching last year: Man v. Food (I mean what better way to get psyched about food?) and Modern Family’s “Fizbo” episode. It is not a Thanksgiving episode but still runs with a theme I completely identify with: it is Luke’s birthday (one of my favorite Dunphys) and because his birthday always lands around Thanksgiving he never has a proper party (like this girl). So this year they decide to concentrate on Luke and stage an elaborate party replete with a bouncy house, a zip line, and a craft station for comb sheaths. For his contribution Cam wants to come as “Fizbo” his clown (classically trained Auguste) alter ego: “If I wasn’t in school or fishing,…I was clownin’”.
We soon learn that Phil is very afraid of clowns and the appearance of Fizbo creates chaos at the party by setting of a chain reaction of events leading to Luke breaking his arm. In what is perhaps my favorite line in Modern Family history, Phil explains: “I am not really sure where the fear comes from. My mother says it’s because as a kid I found a dead clown in the woods but, who knows?” And that is when (even though I had seen the episode before) I went into a laughter fit last Thanksgiving, making my family in the other room think I had utterly lost my marbles.
Initially, when I started compiling my list of Thanksgiving episodes, “Pangs” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer eluded me. It is definitely not one of my favorites, but it isn’t terrible. It is just most memorable (for me) in that Xander gets syphilis from a vindictive Native American. I think that with all of the other supernatural beasties in Sunnydale, the Chumash tribe never really held a candle to the likes of Angelus, the Judge, or the Mayor. This episode, at its most memorable, is the callback lyric “his penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe” from “Once More with Feeling.”
Update: Just did a rewatch and discovered another issue for me with this episode. “Pangs” is meant to set up a Buffy/Angel crossover event. Angel eludes Buffy throughout the episode and is only on the fringes of the episode’s action. However, after learning at the end of the episode that Angel had visited, Buffy travels to L.A. to confront him in “I Will Remember You.” And that is one of the most depressing episodes of Angel, and one I tend to avoid. Therefore, I think I blocked “Pangs” as it is a precursor to that. However, Buffy’s zeal for the perfect Thanksgiving, the question of ethics involved in vanquishing the Chumash tribesman, and mini-monologues about the origins of Thanksgiving (Willow’s anti-Thanksgiving stance v. Spike’s ‘to the victor go the spoils’ stance) all make this an out of the ordinary holiday episode.
New Girl’s “Thanksgiving” episode got me thinking about some old favorites and where they have succeeded when it came to a themed Thanksgiving episode.
The first show that came to mind, and indeed the show that should be praised above all others for its Thanksgiving efforts, was Friends. Once I opened those floodgates, nearly 10 seasons worth of memorable Thanksgiving episodes came rushing forth from the sitcom center of my brain. Except for season two, where I assume the show was more concerned about Ross/Rachel drama (I mean the holiday happened immediately following the fallout of “The One Where Ross Finds Out”), a Thanksgiving-centric episode was produced.
Multiple things come to mind when I think about television on Thanksgiving, but these days networks tend to opt out of showing new episodes on Thanksgiving Thursdays. However, sharing some of my Thanksgivings with “Friends” was one of the highlights of the day; “The One with the Rumor” is the first episode that comes to mind specifically because I have the distinct memory of being happy and content after a nice Thanksgiving dinner and settling in to watch Brad Pitt guest on the show. Immediately following that I think about first season’s “The One Where Underdog Gets Away” and fifth season’s “The One with All the Thanksgivings.”
I mean, we get to flashback to the Geller’s house for Thanksgiving where Monica is fat. then newly skinny and Chandler not only rocks A Flock of Seagulls hairstyle but also loses a toe. Never was it a more fitting episode for present Chandler to tell Monica “I love you” for the first time, especially since we know much Chandler HATES Thanksgiving. Honorable mentions: “The One with the Football” where the Geller’s trademark competitive streak asserts itself, “The One with Chandler in a Box” that explains itself, sixth season’s “The One Where Ross Got High,” where Rachel attempts a trifle that has the suspicious ingredients of beef and peas (that may or may not taste like feet) and what I think about whenever I make a shepherd’s pie. I don’t wanna hate on seventh, ninth and tenth seasons, but Chandler’s dislike of dogs, Rachel’s sister visiting and everyone being late do not have as much of a stranglehold on my memories.
The combination of HBO airing a new teaser for Game of Thrones Season 2 and my shameful purchase of 12 Rounds on Blu-ray has led me down a bizarre thought path. Namely, how large my love for some actors fundamentally alters my viewing, reading, and consumption habits. When HBO first announced its plans to adapt Game of Thrones, I had never heard of the series. It still shames my geek heart to admit as much. Naturally, I was curious, especially with the addition of Sean Bean. One other name on the extended cast list stuck out: Aidan Gillen. Why? Probably because I had just completed my epic run-through of The Wire (thanks to Amazon Gold Box) and all of its greatness aside (and it truly is outstanding!), Tommy Carcetti left a lasting impression on me (maybe not as much as McNulty et. al, but certainly more than Ziggy…okay, he sticks too). I am still not exactly sure why this happened but it largely revolves around his American accent being totally passable (to my ears) in the third season and then much more obvious in the fourth (I mean, I had a “wait…what?” moment). It may also relate to how his story became a fictional embodiment of why I am disillusioned with politics but, that’s a different blog topic.
One weekday afternoon during a school break, 12 Rounds was on HBO and thanks to Aidan’s name in the cast list and the New Orleans location, I was surprisingly sucked in. Please, do not trust my judgment on this movie. It is a John Cena movie that I claim to…not hate it. I have strong-armed friends into watching it. It has to be some combination of NOLA and Aidan but I think the story actually isn’t terrible. It was on my Amazon wish list since at least May and it finally dropped to a price where I could justify buying it without compromising too much integrity. But the fact that I monitored it for so long, praying for the price to drop, clearly indicates a devotion I am not quite ready to admit.
So, I had an overall interest in Game of Thrones. I read the first book in preparation for the series to begin. But I also kept in mind that Aidan would be playing Petyr Baelish, and that, more than anything kept my attention on his character in particular. I have a soft spot for many characters in Martin’s books and they fluctuate but thanks to Aidan’s casting, I got a chance to obsess over Petyr before I necessarily had a reason. His intrinsic Benjamin Linus-like qualities are exactly what I am attracted to and he starts to assert that towards the end of the first book. [Potential future blog post: Legacies of my love for Benjamin Linus. See: My current obsession with Loki as played by Tom Hiddleston.] I typically like the evil-ish mastermind with redeemable qualities, but in the case of Petyr Baelish, he is more of an expert at playing the Game than having any emotions. Another potential blog post (wheels are really turning today): How Tommy Carcetti is the origins story of Petyr Baelish. Tommy learns how to play the Game, as it were, of politics in The Wire, which is easily translatable to the Game of Thrones, ya know?
I have had the entire weekend to process this and I gotta say, ABC’s decision about Cougar Town is still a slap in the face to fans. If critics are panning Work It! before it even airs, and it takes precedence over a show that counts a decent amount of fans, including critics, I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with network television. I can even understand pushing it, more so than Community because at least Community has already aired a decent amount of episodes so far this season. But to cut the episode order to 15 when, with 10 episodes already filmed, the writers clearly had a plan for an order of 22 episodes, is the epitome of cruel not only to fans but also to the writers, crew, and my dear Bill Lawrence. Woe is 2012 for decent comedy on network television.
Yep, don’t mind having another reason to be excited for Christmas.