Angels in America
Talk about an overwhelming, majestic sadness. HBO might as well head up to the stage right now and collect that best miniseries Emmy. This tale of AIDS in the Reagan era, starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson, was incredibly (and justifiably) hyped. The superb performances, fluid direction by Mike Nichols and heightened dialogue from original playwright Tony Kushner all made this a truly unique viewing experience. It's certainly not the "feel-good movie of the year" it's the "feel damn good about watching television" event of the season.
I didn't catch this Jami Gertz/Tyne Daly extravaganza. However, when I called my friend Christina right before 11 o'clock and asked her why she seemed so distracted, she said she was watching "that cheesy CBS movie" which was "almost over." After a slight pause, she added, "I'm sorry, but I did invest two hours in it."
Well, I don't say this often when it comes to Alias , but I saw it coming when Sloane had Lindsey killed instead of Sydney. (So that's one for me, and about 217 for the show's writers.) Now let's get this straight: Lazaray, previously thought murdered, is alive, and he's Sark's father; the Rambaldi puzzle has just taken another turn; and in one day Will Tippin hooks up with Sydney ("She's emotionally drained and on the rebound? Who cares! I'll take it!") and skewers the Francie double. And what a surreal moment between Jack and Vaughn when Syd's father pointed out that they've both seen women they've loved come back from the dead. Hmm, hopefully they can join a group for that.
Comedy Central Presents: The Commies
The tone of "Oh, good! Another awards show!" was subversively supported by such highlights as Kathy Griffin beating out Cher, Melanie Griffith and Marie Osmond for Funniest Plastic Surgery of the Year, as well as Marla Gibbs accepting a bobblehead trophy (for her stellar work on The Jeffersons) when no one showed up to accept the Funniest Female Character in a Film award. Except for a sincere presentation to Rodney Dangerfield, it was all tongue-in-cheek; after a while, I thought, "Well, if these awards are so meaningless, what am I watching this for exactly?"
The Bernie Mac Show
For one night, in the "TV logic" department, Bernie Mac veered into Brady Bunch territory. As Bernie might say, America, when was the last time you built a treehouse with four support beams in about one day's time? Putting that aside, even though I haven't watched this show in a while, I was reminded how sharp Kellita Smith is as Bernie's wife when she had to field her cute little niece's request to put a "My child is a star student at Wellington School" bumper sticker on her pristine luxury car. Guess who got her way anyway?
Saturday Night Live
Presidential candidate Al Sharpton started off his hosting gig energetically dancing to James Brown's "I Feel Good." After that, though, he should have been singing "I Feel Tired!" because for the rest of the show he looked as if he had just been woken up. Tracy Morgan, who came back to dress up as the non-presidential, jumpsuit-wearing Sharpton of old, revisited his Brian Fellow's Safari Planet character. For those counting, there was a total of seven random "I'm Brian Fellow!" proclamations. (Number three was killer.) And Paris Hilton's rare non-Internet appearance on Weekend Update made me think that her Simple Life cohort Nicole Richie is thinking, "Who's got a camcorder I can borrow?"
All-New Fear Factor Christmas commercial
What says Christmastime more than a short clip showing three Fear Factor contestants gagging on slugs set to a heartwarming recording of "Joy To The World"? I guess they're saving the best footage complete vomiting, maybe, with a rendition of "Frosty the Snowman"? for the actual show.
After 14 years on the air, how do they still find so many suspects that don't yell "Hey, get that damn camera the hell outta my face!" as they're being arrested? During a prostitution sting in North Carolina, the perps were quite concerned about their respective wives and mothers finding out yet they didn't seem to get that a TV audience might be checking in, too. Overall, this installment was a little off. It took 45 minutes for Shirtless Guy No. 1 (usually this would be Shirtless Drunk Guy) to show up, and another eight minutes for No. 2. To make up for it, Toothless Woman who Lost Her Dentures on the Roof appeared at the 8:40 mark.
Family Ties marathon
If you loved the series that launched Michael J. Fox's career, boy, were you in luck this weekend. TV Land served up some of the show's best episodes, including pre-stardom turns by Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. This show has, for the most part, withstood the test of time, unlike some other '80s relics like oh, I don't know, uh The Cosby Show. (Most reruns of that program feature the Huxtables just hangin' around the living room with Cliff and Clair condescendingly spouting off about "This child...") And I'll tell ya, some of the funniest moments came from the underappreciated Michael Gross.
Joan of Arcadia
I continue to be such an unexpected sucker for this show. And what a heart and lump in your throat episode this week. Despite the safe bet that Joan's dad was going to make it through his kidnapping at gunpoint, it was a tension-filled ride until Chief Girardi made that ex-con pay for not keeping his seatbelt buckled. His son Kevin's appearance at his bedside as he woke up at the hospital was almost too intentionally sentimental, but who cares? It worked for me.