May 12, 2013 11:21am EST
"How can a show like this last more than a few seasons?" That's the very question I asked myself when How I Met Your Mother started up back in 2005. And while the show's star power and ratings success has it at eight seasons and counting, the show's cute and clever concept lost steam faster than you can say "legendary." It's a simple story that shouldn't take this long to tell.
So how can the new HBO comedy Family Tree, which also has a simple story at its core (here, it's chasing down one's roots), not befall the same fate of outstaying its welcome? Well, it's actually even more simple: you have comedy genius Christopher Guest at the helm and the charming Chris O'Dowd front and center.
Feeling lost after a devastating breakup and getting fired, the adorable, but admittedly kind of sad sack Irish bloke Tom Chadwick (O'Dowd, bringing back all those Bridesmaids charms that made him a breakout star) looks for something — anything, really — to give him purpose and begins tracing the origins of his wacky family.
Of course, it's no surprise that Tom comes from a bizarre brood after meeting his boorish British father Keith (the always-great Guest go-to Michael McKean) with a demented girlfriend and his sister Bea (the very talented Nina Conti), a woman who communicates her every un-PC thought through a monkey puppet named Monkey. Tom, by being the most normal one of the bunch, turns out to be the real black sheep in a family comprised of them.
With his dopey best friend Pete (Tom Bennett) by his side, Tom takes off and begins to trace the origins of his family, one crazier than the next. This is, after all, a Guest production. And that, aside from O'Dowd's all-around likability, is truly what makes Family Tree work.
In most Guest ensemble productions, the audience is the only one laughing at the absurdity and earnestness of the characters in his films like Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman, but here Guest gives us a straight man in the midst of all the madness. It shakes up Guest's usual M.O., while still staying true to its roots. (The ensemble is injected in brilliant ways, including the faux, albeit terrible, mainstream sitcoms Keith howls with laughter watching).
While the pilot episode may not be enough to hook a more casual viewer (Guest fans, on the other hand, should be sold from the start and won't be disappointed in his venture into television), you should really stick it out: episodes two, three and four will have you howling with laughter. Tom will eventually run out of kooky family members to find, but the guy is just so damn sweet and funny at his core, you'll stick it out for a long while to see what else happens to him beyond his familial quest.
No, it's not perfect, but what family is? It's the heart that matters (and the comedy delves deeper into its emotional core as it goes along) and being able to laugh with them...and sometimes at them, which is exactly what this Family does.
Family Tree airs on HBO on Sundays at 10:30 PM ET.
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
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April 12, 2013 2:33pm EST
It worked for Dallas. So it's no surprise Patrick Duffy, who returned to TNT to revive his role as Bobby Ewing for the hit Dallas reboot, is considering other possible TV reunions.
Next on his list? Step by Step, the beloved '90s TGIF series that Duffy hopes to bring back for a two-hour reunion special. "I would love to work with Suzanne [Somers] again," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The Step By Step cast was so wonderful to be with. They were my family and I think a little two-hour special about where these people are – not a documentary, but actually doing a show – seeing where they all come to over the years. It would be so fun to play that goofy Frank Lambert character again, aging another 25 years.”
But with the exception of Duffy and Somers, who has gone on to develop a lucrative line of anti-aging products, Step By Step's cast has stayed out of the spotlight following the series' wrap in 1998. So what have the Fosters and Lamberts been up to? And what do they look like now? Before they meet up for a second time around, find out below!
Following 2004's Dallas Reunion: Return to Southfork, Patrick Duffy — otherwise known as Step By Step's patriarch Frank Lambert — returned to Southfork once again with TNT's Dallas reboot, now in its second season. The actor also has used his fame for endorsement deals, proving how old we are by becoming a spokesman for Miracle-Ear hearing aids.
Suzanne Somers' Carol Foster-Lambert might have lived happily ever after with Frank, but since wrapping Step By Step, the actress has become obsessed with living happily ever after as a young woman. The 66-year-old actress so inspired fans with her anti-aging efforts that's she's developed a successful product line in her own name. But not everyone is happy with her happily ever after — Somers has come under fire for her support of the controversial bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and for her 2010 book, Knockout, which suggests alternative cancer treatments for those facing chemotherapy.
With the exception of a traffic incident that left Brandon Call shot in both arms in 1996, little is known about the actor who memorably portrayed oldest son J.T. Lambert. In fact, though Call starred on such series as Baywatch, Magnum, P.I., and the Charmings prior to his successful Step By Step run, J.T. would prove to be Call's final role call.
Staci Keanan — who played Carol's oldest daughter, Dana — would most likely be game for a Step By Step reunion. After all, the actress already reteamed with Duffy and Christine Lakin in You Again. But the 2010 comedy wasn't her only turn on the big screen — Keanan, who guest starred in various series like Diagnosis: Murder in the late '90s — turned her attention to film after Step By Step's run was complete. Among the projects on her resume: 2009's Sarah's Choice, 2010'S Holyman Undercover, and her most recent project, 2010's Death and Cremation. Could a Step By Step reunion revive her career again?
Angela Watson — the actress who played Step By Step's beauty queen, Karen — found herself fielding the same problem that plagues many child stars. Discovering that her own family had mismanaged the $2.8 million in wages she earned on Step by Step, the actress founded Child Actors Supporting Themselves in 2000 in an attempt to help young actors learn how to manage their money. Watson, who acts on stage and in various low-profile film projets, continues to turn her attention toward helping others, becoming the spokesperson for the charity Hugs America. It's nice to say that Karen wouldn't approve.
One of step By Step's more successful actors, Christopher Castile — who played brainiac Mark Foster — turned starring roles in Beethoven and Beethoven's 2nd into a voice acting role as Hey Arnold!'s Eugene Horowitz. But he had enough of show business following Step By Step's success — Castile soon left Hey Arnold! (replaced, strangely enough, by Jarrett Lennon, an actor who was cast as Step By Step's Mark before Castile stepped in) and retired from acting altogether. And it turns out life imitated art — Castile channeled his smarty-pants Step By Step alter-ego and became a political science professor at Biola University.
Arguably Step By Step's most successful alum, Christine Lakin — who played tomboy Al — boasted guest roles in high-profile series like Boston Public, Veronica Mars, CSI: Miami, Bones, Family Guy, and more. Her big screen is not quite as respectable, with critically reviled films like Valentine's Day, Parental Guidance, and, of course, the Hottie & The Nottie on her resume. The silver lining? The actress, who continues to win roles on the big and small screen, definitely grew up to be a hottie.
Just as quickly as Frank's youngest son Brendan mysteriously disappeared from the series without mention (in order to make way for the cuter baby Lilly), the actor who portrayed him, Josh Byrne, disappeared from Hollywood. We'd claim he was still chained in Frank and Carol's basement, but this picture of the actor dressed in costume proves he's alive, and presumably can be seen at your local Renaissance Faire.
Emily Mae Young was already famous by the time she joined Step By Step's cast as Carol and Frank's youngest daughter, Lilly. The young actress first won acclaim as the Cabbage Patch Doll-like girl in a series of Welch's Grape Juice ads before she moved on to the TGIF TV series. Her career, however, was short-lived, and following a role in 1999's Undercover Angel, Young disappeared from Hollywood.
Sasha Mitchell, who portrayed lovable loser Cody, suffered from a bout of bad publicity in the late '90s when he was accused of domestic abuse. Perhaps that's why Mitchell — who retained full custody of his children following claims that he was protecting his children from their abusive mother — opted to change his appearance dramatically following the headlines. Though Cody could hardly work hard enough to leave the Lamberts' backyard, Mitchell worked hard in the gym, beefing up enough to earn roles in films like Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and on acronym-friendly series like JAG, ER, and NYPD Blue. Mitchell, who continues to act, also has a black belt. As Cody would say, Whoa.
Jason Marsden, loved for his roles in two beloved '90s series — Step By Step, as J.T.'s friend Rich, and Boy Meets World, as, fittingly, Jason Marsden — began a successful career in voice acting after Step By Step, starring in series like The Legend of Tarzan, Justice League, The Batman, The Fairly OddParents, and much, much more. Makes sense the animated actor would find money in animation.
Patrika Darbo, who played Carol's sister Penny, might have been written out of the series after Season 1, but she was hardly written out of Hollywood. One of the industry's more recognizable character actresses, Darbo has boasted roles in Seinfeld, Desperate Housewives, and Dexter. She also scored a recurring gig on Days of Our Lives, playing Craig Wesley's wife Nancy. So it turns out Darbo's hair wasn't the only thing that improved post-Step By Step.
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March 28, 2013 5:12pm EST
No. No. No. No. New Girl is bringing Taylor Swift on board for its Season 2 finale, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And as a fan of the series and all the work it has done to come back into our critical good graces, I cannot condone this. New Girl, you are backsliding. And for what? A few fly-by-night viewers?
It takes enough of my patience to get past Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and her doe-eyed schtick long enough to accept the true beauty of the Fox series, especially after she spent the first half of the episode in anti-feminist purgatory. Jess, in all her Peter Pan-collar glory, wallowed for 12 episodes while her roommates carried everything — she regressed right back into the position of a helpless manic pixie dream girl who can't stop watching Dirty Dancing. Only, in Round 2, Jess was also jobless and somewhat ambitionless. One-two-punch.
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Even now, as she and Nick (Jake Johnson) are doing the will-they-won't-they dance to utter perfection, if it wasn't for Nick's ability to balance Jess, it would be almost unbearable to watch. (Does anyone else remember how sickening her canoodling with David Walton's adorable Dr. Sam was? And not just because we wished Sam was Nick.) The fact of the matter is that Jess' '50s inspired, cupcake-riddled swag is about as much cutesy schtick as we can handle. Adding Taylor "I wrote this song about a certain ex-boyfriend" Swift into the mix now that the show has finally managed to strike the right balance is worrisome.
Not to mention, as we learned very recently, Swift has a hard time taking a joke, even one from two of the most beloved comediennes in the business. How can we possible respect seeing Swift on this hilarious show when she can't even play nice with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler?
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Look, I'm not saying combining Swift and New Girl is going to create a dragon breathing fire on all of feminismland and lay waste to all of our progress. What I am saying is that bringing Swift on as a guest star is cutesy, cheap spot of stunt casting that serves to undermine a series that has worked so hard to go from zero to genuine and heartfelt this season.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Billboards2012/Getty Images]
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March 21, 2013 12:19pm EST
After that Conan debacle, many of us are jaded to the idea of Jay Leno ever leaving The Tonight Show. Decades from now, the big chinned supercentenarian will hobble onto the Burbank stage with a softball joke about Robo-President Cartertron's hairpiece and a self-directed jab at his garage full of flying cars. But others maintain that this recent controversy surrounding the perpetual host will indeed result in his replacement, with Jimmy Fallon the prime candidate for the position.
Although Fallon's stammering, hyper-positive interview skills have been a target for criticism, the comedian's nubile charms have won over enough of a fanbase to pinpoint him the natural choice for the 11:35 slot. But if Fallon is indeed slated to take hold of the Tonight Show reins, then who will step into the Late Night seat? A seat occupied by David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and for the past four years, the Saturday Night Live alum. So which of today's comedians is worthy of this legacy?
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Ever since his impressive turn in the 2011 dramedy Young Adult, stand-up comedian Oswalt has received a heap of attention, earning a role on the critical favorite FX drama Justified. In spite of these darker choices, however, Oswalt is through and through a funnyman, and one perfectly suited to riff with celebrity guests via his patented brand of goofy, self-deprecating, and often nerdy humor.
If just someone would inform Lynch that she's squandering her comedic talents on Glee, then maybe she'd consider a stab at Late Night. The one-time Emmys host, Christopher Guest mainstay, Party Down vet, and Frat Pack regular has the bite and comic sensibility that would make her go at the gig an interesting and fresh one.
Key & Peele
A two man operation might go against the fabric of the late night talk show establishment, but change is good. And the comic duo's breakout over the past year tells us that they represent a voice that people are taken with. Their penchant for political satire and silly humor alike is exactly the kind of range Late Night needs.
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Nobody sells the snark quite like McHale — as the host of E!'s The Soup and the starring player on NBC's on-its-way-out sitcom Community alike, McHale is an unapologetically scathing comic whose bread and butter is celebrity potshots. Plus, not too hard on the eyes.
Finally, the only true soldier in the late night war: Cohen is not only a host, but also an executive and producer, making him knowledgeable about the behind the scenes grounds as well (which might help in avoiding any more of these controversies). On top of this, the Bravo resident has a good personal relationship with Fallon, meaning that purist fans of the present Late Night man in charge won't have to worry too much about an overhaul of the system.
Who do you think would make the best host? Let us know your ideas!
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Mark Mainz/AP Photo; Jack Dempsey/Invision/AP Images; Jeff Daly/PicturGroup/AP Photo; Casey Rodgers/AP Images; Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank]
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March 18, 2013 4:17pm EST
For a while there, we could set our watches to Christopher Guest's directorial schedule. Every three-and-a-half years, the mockumentarian would release another gem: Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration. All dry and satirical, all celebratory of their shared performers' mile-deep pools of talent, all unique. But the pattern halted after the latter, Oscar-mocking picture, leaving us without a cinematic Guest gem since 2006. But if he's just been spending all that time developing his new HBO comedy Family Tree, then we can probably forgive him. Especially since he's roping in the comedy world's new prince, Chris O'Dowd.
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The below trailer for the film lands Irish O'Dowd among Guest's usual clan of American, British, and American-feigning-British heroes, including Michael McKean, Jim Piddock, Ed Begley, Jr., Don Lake, Bob Balaban, and (the powerhouse) Fred Willard. Will the rest of the troupe show up for the program? Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey? We can hope... but for now, we're just pleased with what we're already seeing:
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeter
[Photo Credit: Ray Burmiston/HBO]
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March 13, 2013 11:31am EST
Sixteen years ago, Christopher Wallace, forever known as The Notorious B.I.G., was gunned down. But the basso profundo rapper’s two seminal studio albums, arguably the apex of ‘90s hip-hop, have caused Biggie to live on.
Now, he’s about to "live on" in a much more literal fashion — as the star of his own TV show, House of Wallace. Don’t say “hologram” just yet. Following in the footsteps of The Beatles and The Jackson 5, Biggie is getting his own cartoon series. It’s being produced by Ossian Media and will star the late Brooklyn MC’s teenage children, 16-year-old C.J. Wallace and 19-year-old T’yanna Wallace, playing ink and paint versions of themselves as they fight to save their dad’s Bed-Stuy recording studio from corporate takeover and financial oblivion. The mind-warping concept will actually have their father’s “ghost” lending advice and inspiration to his kids — though who is voicing the rapper hasn’t yet been announced. With Ghost Biggie’s guidance, the kids will concoct a plan to make the studio a “jingle house by day” — so artists can lend their wattage to corporate brands — and a creativity-friendly powerhouse for musical innovation by night.
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C.J. and T’yanna are voicing themselves and House of Wallace — not currently tied to a network — may feature guest appearances from contemporary artists, who would create original songs for the show.
"It's been 16 years since our Dad was murdered and we miss him dearly. It is such an honor for us to be able to carry on his legacy, not only through his music but also by channeling him through our own creativity," C.J. and T'yanna said in a press release. "This project, House Of Wallace, is a great opportunity for us to bridge the gap between our parents, who loved his music, and the kids and young adults our ages that were not around to really appreciate it."
Are you sold? Or do think this is a tacky cash-in for the ages?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Clarence Davis/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images]
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March 12, 2013 12:47pm EST
It’s pretty easy to make jokes about Steve Buscemi and Steve Carell clad in spandex and sparkles, donning self-tanner and oversized wigs, presenting big budget illusions on a Las Vegas stage with the help of a busty blonde. But what about the part where you remember that while The Incredible Burt Wonderstone may make you giggle, it’s poking fun at a very real profession? What about the part where you realize most career magicians don’t have the protection of a huge stage or large television production and are actually working hard, day by day to make their chosen profession a lucrative one? Is it still funny, or does it cross the line? We spoke to a few well-known magicians to find out.
Magician Jeff Grow from New York has performed his act for events at Lincoln Center in Manhattan and he’s won numerous awards to boot, and he says he’s planning on seeing the Carell comedy this weekend. “I would say that [the movie is] sort of accurate in the sense of you know there’s a lot of competition amongst magicians as far as staying relevant in the public eye,” he says about the film, which pits Burt Wonderstone (Carell) against Tommy Lee-esque rock star illusionist Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) as they vie for the biggest magic show on the Vegas strip.
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And while the particular magicians in this comedy are the spandex-loving set, they don’t represent everyone in the community of professional magicians. “It seems to me at the outset that it’s not exactly parodying magicians but it’s parodying their personality types,” says Grow.
It’s something Mario Marchese (also known as Mario the Magician) is picking up on as well. “If you think of chefs or drummers, they’re all kind of weird and that’s kind of like magicians. There’s this weird eclectic kind of thing and I guess the movie is just exploding those things,” he says.
Mario Marchese, a.k.a. Mario the Magician
Whereas we’re inclined to remember TV and showy magicians of Burt Wonderstone’s ilk as the face of the profession, it’s important to remember there are performers of all sorts in the field of magic, like Marchese, who repurposes items to “Build Magic” as a part of his act for children. Then there’s Grow, whose bread and butter is illusions with a side of entertainment. Neither of these guys ever feels the need to paint their faces with translucent glitter and ditch their button up shirts for velour suits.
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Adding to the diversity is the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s magician in residence Steve Cohen, whose cocktail-attire only show includes illusions as well as the practice of mind-reading. And even Cohen has a sense of humor about Burt Wonderstone’s take on the world of professional magic. “Burt Wonderstone pokes good-natured fun at magicians in the same way that [This is] Spinal Tap teases rock music,” he says.
Cohen brings up a good point. Countless “fringe” professions have endured the scathing jokes of a pointed parody movie, from ice skating in Will Ferrell’s polarizing Blades of Glory to NASCAR drivers in Will Ferrell’s also polarizing Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Ferrell apparently likes to test the very specific waters on the regular). Both films featured cameos from professionals in the fields Ferrell was poking fun at including NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and former Olympic ice skaters Dorothy Hamill and Brian Boitano. In a similar vein, David Copperfield not only posed for pictures with Burt Wonderstone’s Carell for publicity (above), he has a cameo in the film and acted as a consultant during production.
But what about depictions like G.O.B. (Will Arnett) on Arrested Development? His character is one of the little guys, someone trying to make it as a magician in his daily life and failing spectacularly (although that one time he accidentally cut off Buster’s prosthetic hand, things worked out alright), and his character seems to be built from similar cloth to that of Mr. Wonderstone.
“[Arnett] was making fun of someone, but it wasn’t a parody, per se. They weren’t saying that all magicians were like that it,but this one particular guy was, it was his character,” says Grow, who is asked about his opinions on the clumsy character almost daily. It’s a distinction that almost applies to Carrell and Carrey too: They are taking on the world of professional magic in this movie, but as two very singular people in the realm, not as flag-waving representations of an industry as diverse as any other entertainment profession, including Spinal Tap's beloved rock scene.
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The world of magic as a profession is something that will likely never be totally understood on a mainstream level, but it doesn’t seem to worry Marchese, who’s less concerned about people confusing his job with Carell’s outlandish parody and more concerned with the benefits of the small, yet diverse profession he’s chose. “It’s definitely a sub thing, it’s kind of like one of those underground things you fall in love with and you never blow up and you’re sort of just happy inside,” he says. While Burt Wonderstone may poke fun at the magicians we’ve seen time and again on television (think Copperfield, David Blaine, and even Criss Angel), the movie doesn’t speak for the whole community and in that way, makes it more likely to elicit a chuckle from even the most serious and sensitive magic man (or woman).
From Ferrell’s endless B-comedies to Christopher Guest’s line of parodies including This is Spinal Tap and its folk music equivalent A Mighty Wind, comedy has a long tradition of sticking it to the world’s most entertaining professions. Thankfully, as we approach yet another movie in that vein, we can all watch and giggle without guilt. For the most part, even the folks on the receiving end of Burt Wonderstone’s ruthless parody can find the lightheartedness of it all.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures; Twitter]
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March 11, 2013 11:15pm EST
It’s widely known that when Larry Hagman donned the ten-gallon hat once again for the first table-read of Cynthia Cidre’s pilot script for the 2012 TNT reboot of Dallas, he introduced himself thusly: “Larry Hagman. Icon.”
It’s hard to quibble with that. The relaunched Dallas sure hasn’t. Its hour-long farewell to J.R. Ewing Monday night was poignant, funny, and, above all, reverent for the character in its irreverence. For the actors involved, including Patrick Duffy, who considered Hagman his best friend, it must have been doubly painful because they, in essence, had to bury the man twice: once, after Hagman died of complications from cancer in November 2012, and again when they had to give his infamous alter ego J.R. an equally worthy send-off. Rather than the usual Dallas fanfare of a credits sequence, the theme music was stripped down to a few mournful, “Taps”-like horns before the montage settled on one last lingering close-up of J.R. as Hagman most recently portrayed him on the show—stern, wily, and sporting the wildest pair of eyebrows on TV since Andy Rooney.
In his old age on the new Dallas, J.R. once said “bullets don’t seem to have an effect on me.” Of course he was referencing the most buzzed-out cliffhanger in TV history: when he was shot by an unknown assailant at the end of the spring 1981 season. He survived that assassination attempt. But not this one. Indeed, it was a bullet that ultimately claimed J.R.’s life, when he was gunned down inside a Mexican hotel room after possibly having dealt with a cartel representative and definitely having had relations with a señorita of shady repute. Once again we have to ask the immortal question: “Who shot J.R.?”
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Always a step ahead, it seems J.R. knew in advance who was gunning for him and even left a note for his brothers Bobby and Gary, to that effect. Oh, that’s right. Ted Shackleford’s Gary Ewing, the black sheep of the family who sought refuge in Knot’s Landing, returned! If ever there were an occasion to reenter the Dallas-verse, J.R.’s death was it. On hand were also Charlene Tilton as Lucy Ewing, Bobby and J.R.’s niece; Cathy Podewell as J.R.’s second wife Cally; Deborah Shelton as one of his more memorable mistresses, Mandy; Steve Kanaly as Ewing bastard, and Bobby and J.R.’s half-brother, Ray; and most important of all, a sweet bottle of bourbon in Sue Ellen’s supposedly sober hands.
Ah yes. The moment we’ve longed for/feared is at hand. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has resumed her drunken ways. Bourbon and branch water are tempting enough on their own. Bourbon and branch water in a bottle marked “J.R. Ewing” is more tempting still. Bourbon and branch water in a bottle marked “J.R. Ewing” to be imbibed after J.R.’s death and following the reading of a weepy note from him? Totally irresistible. She’ll be back to Betty Ford before the season is out. Her one possible saving grace? She’s at least honest about the fact she’s off the wagon. “I think I have never wanted a drink more than I want one now,” she said at the funeral reception.
Mind you, there was another undesirable return at that reception: Ken Kercheval’s supervillain, Cliff Barnes. He burst in with the fighting words, “I came to pay my disrespects, and good riddance!” then proceeded to call J.R. a “junkyard dog.” He was subdued quickly enough and kicked out, and with no fisticuffs. I suppose Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and John Ross (Josh Henderson) don’t have the stomach to fight an old man, even if he’s an old man hellbent on destroying their family. They didn’t feel the same way about a fellow (much younger) reception guest, however, who decided to call J.R. a “selfish prick.” That led to one of the best exchanges we’ve ever seen between Christopher and John Ross: the former backing off J.R.’s son with a gentle brush of his hand, saying “I got this, cousin,” then taking a slug at the foul-mouthed offender. What would a Ewing family gathering be without a few dislodged teeth? (Oh yeah, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban were also there, but somehow we think they avoided the melee.)
The burial itself, set to the old spiritual “Down to the River to Pray,” was a more moving affair. J.R. was a military man in his day, so he lay in a flag-draped coffin. Everyone had an opportunity to say a few words, and Lucy teared up when it was her turn. She said everything he did seemed so horrible when he did it, but with hindsight it had become apparent that he was the most honest person of all—because he knew what had to be done and did it. Christopher, J.R.’s nephew, said that, since he was adopted, J.R. only let him into the Ewing inner circle once: after his mom, Pam (Victoria Principal, notably absent) walked out. “I don’t know why she left,” J.R. told the grieving boy. “But you’re a Ewing now, so stop crying and behave like one.”
Sue Ellen, soused as can be, said J.R. was “the most infuriating, charming scoundrel [she’d] ever known. He was enough to turn a woman to drink.” Then, admitting that she was drunk even then, read his final letter to her, in which J.R. said his greatest hope in life was the possibility of earning a second chance with her. To start, he asked her out to dinner, if she’d be available upon his return from Mexico.
Bobby was a tad more reflective. “It’s always been easy for me to do good, because I could always count on J.R. to do bad,” he said. “But those bad things were necessary.” Does this mean that one of the most goody-goody characters in all of TV will suddenly take a little walk on the Dark Side, to fill J.R.’s shoes?
After the funeral, Ray and Gary met with Bobby, John Ross, and Christopher to go through J.R.’s effects. It turns out J.R. had recently gone to Abu Dhabi to put together an oil deal that he felt would lure Pam out of hiding. Victoria Principal has repeatedly said she will never return to Dallas, so why the show would decide to throw this particular red herring out there was surprising. As part of his will, he left a handgun for John Ross to protect himself from Cliff Barnes, who surely will be gunning for him. And finally, he left a note for Bobby that presumably named his killer. Bobby, maybe already embracing that Dark Side, decided that they would further the idea that J.R. had been killed randomly by a mugger, while they settled the score against his real killer, in the family way. “I knew you’d have one more up your sleeve, J.R….And it is a good one.” Maybe it was so good, that’s why this episode was called “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”
This was the perfect note for the departure of one of TV’s all-time greatest antiheroes: a note of intrigue. J.R.—and probably Hagman—wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/TNT]
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March 09, 2013 4:39pm EST
Tonight, Justin Timberlake will dive head-first into the Saturday Night Live five-timers club — joining Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Christopher Walken, Chevy Chase, John Goodman, Tom Hanks, Drew Barrymore, Bill Murray, and Danny DeVito as the most random member of the bunch, since he's, you know, a musician. But to anyone who has seen his prior hosting stints, his non-comedian status has never stood in his way — Timberlake has arguably been the best host of this last decade. He's up for anything and everything, including dressing up like an omelette and putting his you-know-what in a box.
So to celebrate what's sure to be a memorable night, let's take a trip down memory lane with the 5 best skits from one of SNL's most surprisingly badass hosts.
1. "D**k in a Box" (2006): Timberlake and Andy Samberg made history with this one, winning a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. It currently holds more than 38 million YouTube hits, and my Aunt Lee once made the entire family watch it on Christmas. Thanks for the awkward, Aunt Lee!
2. OmletteVille (2003): This is arguably the first JT skit that got everyone talking. "This boy is really talented!" exclaimed my mother, clearly ignoring the six NSYNC concerts I made her take me to. The skit has since been repeated multiple times (Homelessville, Plasticville, Liquorville...) but it's his original egg-inspired get-up that still warms the heart and soothes the soul.
3. The Barry Gibb Talk Show (Recurring): Timberlake was hosting for the first time when this now-classic sketch debuted. He played the quiet Robin Gibb to Jimmy Fallon's Barry MotherF**king Gibb, and somehow hilarious history was made. He's returned to play Robin four times since — three times as host, once when former girlfriend Cameron Diaz took the stage. If it doesn't show up tonight, we will miss those crazy-cool medallions.
4. Motherlover (2009): After the success of "D**k in a Box", Timberlake and Samberg re-united to love each others' moms (played by Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson) for a musical sketch that is now the plot of the upcoming Naomi Watts/Robin Wright film Two Mothers.
5. What's That Name (2011): This random 2011 sketch pit Timberlake against musical guest Lady Gaga in a name-remembering game show, with disastrous results. Gaga, who is known for being extremely responsive to her fans, knew everyone — while Timberlake could not properly identify former NYSNC-mate Chris Kirkpatrick. Ouch!
BONUS Single Ladies Video (2008): He may not have been hosting (that honor went to Paul Rudd), but the best skit of the night came when Timberlake joined Samberg and Bobby Moynihan as Beyonce Knowles' "back-up" dancers from the then brand-new "Single Ladies" dance. Hilarity ensued.
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January 17, 2013 5:36pm EST
Who Wants To Host A Daytime Talk Show: Meredith Vieira recently opted not to renew her contract for syndicated quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire so she could “move on and do other things,” which may mean a new daytime talk show. According to the NY Times, Vieira is in talks with NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution about hosting a syndicated talk show for fall 2014. [Deadline]
Locklear's Getting Legal: Heather Locklear is joining the TNT drama Franklin & Bash as a series regular for the show’s upcoming third season. She will play Rachel King, “a stunning trial lawyer, with stiletto heels and clothes tailored within an inch of their life.” King comes on board as a new partner at Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash’s (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) law firm, making life more interesting. [EW]
One Mother of a Guest Star: 90210 has cast Head of the Class actress Robin Givens in an upcoming episode as mother of two new recurring characters Elizabeth (Keke Palmer) and Jordan (Robbie Jones). Givens will play Cheryl, a sophisticated East Coast mother who is on the fast-track to political greatness. Cheryl is willing to go to great lengths to protect and preserve her pristine family image. Jones plays Jordan, an intelligent publisher who may be a potential new love interest for Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) in the second half of the season, while Palmer will play his sister Elizabeth. [E!]
Prez Pushes Proof Back: ABC announced on Thursday that Body of Proof's previously announced return (Tuesday, Feb. 12) has been pushed back for the State of the Union address. The abbreviated, rebooted third season will now resume on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. "We're looking at every episode. Even though there's a serialized component, we wanted to look at them as separate movies," executive producer Christopher Murphy said of the rebooted format. "The stories are bigger, the stakes higher, it's more thrilling, it's more adventuresome." In addition to those changes, Body of Proof also added new castmembers Mark Valley and Elyes Gabel. [THR]
Reality Show Singer Gets Signed: Cassadee Pope, the winner of the third season of The Voice, has officially signed with Republic Nashville. "I am so excited to be joining the very talented Republic Nashville family," Pope says. "I am so passionate about my music and I couldn't be more excited to have this amazing team to back me as I embark on this next chapter in my career." [THR]
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