Monday, December 31, 2012

"There you go, finding a hidden advantage in an unfortunate circumstance...

...using pain to take you to the next level. Those are the things that turn players into kings."

I wanted to post this last week while I was home in Philadelphia, but my mother's computer has gotten so slow that it would have taken me all week to finish. So here now, only a little delayed, are my favorite episodes of television from the past year. As I remind you every year, I do not think that they are necessarily the BEST episodes from the year, just my favorites. Be forewarned, there are plenty of spoilers ahead.

So, without further ado...

Sons of Anarchy "Laying Pipe"
This episode completely destroyed me. I was literally in a ball on the floor crying my eyes out by the time it was over. All that really needs to be said is that Ryan Hurst is a warrior and gave an incredible and heart-breaking final performance as Opie Winston. His presence on the show will be sorely missed but he went out in stellar fashion. I really enjoyed the entire season, but this hit me harder than anything else this year and really intensified everything else that happened the rest of the season. It will really set the tone for who Jax ultimately becomes. I said it last year and I will say it again, Kurt Sutter is a crazy genius and he has a phenomenal and totally under-rated cast backing him up.

The Vampire Diaries "Memorial"
Another episode of television that made me cry. I loved the whole episode, but I especially enjoyed the end where they released the Chinese floating lanterns in memory of all the friends and family they have lost over the past four seasons. And then, of course, when Damon refused to participate, he went to the cemetery to rant at Alaric's grave and as the camera pans out we see ghost Alaric sitting beside him listening and he says the best five words of the whole episode: "I miss you too, buddy."  So good.

Parenthood "One More Weekend With You"
This show has really stepped up its game this season. Parenthood has always been a great hour of television, but season four has been absolutely amazing every single week. A breast cancer storyline and a new character who is an Iraq War veteran has upped the stakes this year and every single actor has risen to the challenge. Monica Potter, Peter Krause, Mae Whitman and newest addition Matt Lauria are all especially mind-blowing in their performances. I liked this episode the best because it showed Kristina going through her first chemo treatment and the reaction she has from it in an incredibly realistic way. It also shows us for the first time, the real struggle that Ryan is going through after having lost one of his military buddies and how Amber deals with him and his situation. I really love the characters on this show and all of the actors that portray them. There really is not one weak link. It just continues to make me wish I were a Braverman.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"You made me Senior Partner, I always repay my debts. I'm a Lannister."

A few years ago, I joined Entertainment Weekly's Front Row Panel. I honestly do not remember exactly when or how I heard about it, but it is a community forum where the editors of the magazine ask about different entertainment and pop culture topics. They are interested in knowing what their readers think about movies and TV shows that are out and also about what we like and do not like about the magazine itself. They have a section where you can grade new movie releases and take a weekly pop culture quiz and often send out surveys about specific topics.

More recently, they have joined the Twitter universe and regularly ask their followers to retweet information about TV show premieres and help promote different products. They then choose one of these retweeters to win DVD sets and other fun things!

Last week, I got an email telling me that they were giving away a TV show to a certain number of lucky people. Not knowing what show it would be, I was happily surprised when seasons one and two of the USA Network show Suits arrived in the mail. I was already a fan of the show and I have since re-watched both seasons.

For those of you who do not already know, Suits is about a college-dropout with a brilliant mind named Mike Ross who gets a job as a lawyer at a New York City law firm. He is hired by the firm's top attorney, Harvey Specter, and together they must keep Mike's secret from the rest of the firm. Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht (pictured above) play the two leading men. The cast also includes Harvey's assistant Donna Paulson (Sarah Rafferty), Managing Partner Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), Paralegal Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and Junior Parter Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). 

The cast is phenomenal and the writing is fun and smart. I was not sure if I would like it when it started, but I very quickly became addicted and I CANNOT WAIT for the new episodes to start again on January 17th!

Side note: I think Janel Moloney and Sarah Rafferty need to start their own club called, "Actresses Who Play(ed) Kick-Ass Assistants Named Donna."

I highly recommend checking out this show and, if you are a huge entertainment nerd like me, I also recommend that you join EW's Front Row Panel immediately.


ps. In the spirit of the holiday season, I also ask you to remember that there are still many people struggling after Hurricane Sandy. Here are a few sites where you can donate money and find places to help volunteer:
Staten Strong
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
American Red Cross
Habitat for Humanity
Robin Hood Relief Fund