So you've got a new love brewing... and this might be, dare you say, the one. They're sweet, thoughtful, they totally get you. Your personalities mesh well, your interests align, your parents approve. There's only hurdle you haven't yet overcome: your friends. Those horribly judgmental, scathingly abrasive, disconcertingly alienating monsters. The very same ones you love dearly and have spent every waking minute with since your mid teens. You know that no matter how perfect your latest romantic partner might be, the ganglion of derision that you call your social circle will undoubtedly disapprove.
But is that for certain? Is there any chance that you an successfully meld both fields of your life to result in a dynamic smorgasbord of self-efficacy? Or will something always be... off?
Tuesday night's Happy Endings braved the question when Penny (Casey Wilson) and her Season 3 boyfriend Pete (Nick Zano) got engaged. The turn of events came as a surprise to fans aplenty, largely because Happy Endings isn't ordinarily too heavy on the overarching plot. More than this, the show has thrived on its main characters existing as a self-contained, impermeable mass of codependency and affectionate self-destruction. Where might the newbie, nice guy Pete, fit in with this lifelong band of pals?
And along with the question as an in-universe quandary do we wonder how Zano might fit in on the show. It's true, Zano's career is not yet too busy for him to make weekly supporting player appearances on Happy Endings. But very rarely do cast members of this nature on shows like Happy Endings advance to permanence.
Thinking back to Happy Endings' spiritual predecessor Friends, we recall Mike: a Paul Rudd of middling fame who was introduced in the penultimate season as a love interest for Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow). Rudd would maintain a presence throughout the run of the series, appearing right up until Friends' finale, but never truly evolved to a platform of equal stature among the central gang. In fact, the occasional joke surrounding Mike was that he was largely an outsider looking in at the Central Perk madness. One episode even invested an entire storyline in Ross' (David Schwimmer) inability to find anything to talk about with Mike.
Predating Friends in this endeavor, and somewhat more successfully, was Cheers. Over the course of its 12-year run, the Boston-set sitcom introduced not one but two characters as significant others, eventually granting each opening titles billing. Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) was introduced in the Season 3 premiere of Cheers as a love interest for leading lady Diane (Shelley Long). Although initially penned as a temporary character, the writers and fans loved Frasier enough to keep him around for 8 years (not to mention an 11-season spin-off). And from Frasier came Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), his fellow psychiatrist and love interest introduced in Cheers' fourth season in a similar circumstance. Although only planned as a one-off character, Lilith returned in Season 5, and stuck around through the final year (marrying, divorcing, and remarrying Frasier during her tour on the series).
Many a series has made it happen: Will & Grace kept both Bobby Cannavale and Harry Connick, Jr. around; 30 Rock introduced James Marsden as a boyfriend for Tina Fey's Liz Lemon last season — now, with the series finale set for this Thursday, the two are happily married and new parents to a pair of adopted nincompoops.
But so many a series, those mentioned included, have brought in romantic guest stars just to ship them off into oblivion again when the time comes. So what will be the case with Happy Endings and Zano? If the ABC series is planning to keep him around, how the hell is that going to work?
As was the case with Rudd on Friends, there is room for comedy in the "odd man out" phenomenon. As the only sane one in this bunch of kooks, Zano can supply a new brand of deadpan humor in reaction to the psychologically alarming, ethically barren antics of Penny and company. Of course, Rudd also exhibited another phenomenon: the endless supply of errands. Oftentimes, Mike was nowhere to be found while Phoebe was hanging around with her West Village harem. He'd be off at work or running an errand or starring in Anchorman. Perhaps Happy Endings will go the same route with Zano, bringing him around for pertinent plots but shafting him to the background for scenes consisting only of the traditional sextet.
And of course, there is always the chance that Zano will go the way of so many sitcom beaus... perhaps even leaving Penny at the altar (or vice versa), a la the Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) debacle that sparked the whole series.
More than any other sitcom does Happy Endings have its comedy down pat. It understands what makes itself funny and devotes itself to that with vigor. As such, no matter what path the show takes with Zano, we can look forward to terrific comedy. As far as real life goes, though... keep your significant others far away from your friends. It never works.
[Photo Credit: ABC]
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The world of 30 Rock is an unquestionably weird one (last night's episode featured a couch mascot in a threesome) but it's one that's always been acutely aware of its weirdness. In fact, the brilliant, off-kilter series has always worn its freak flag with pride (how else would you explain Prince Gerhardt?) but in its current disjointed sixth season, it looks as though the show might be starting to wave the white flag, both on and off-screen.
Aside from Alec Baldwin making his most recent threat to leave NBC and Tina Fey all but sealing the cult favorite's fate when she told the ladies of The View that "The end of the show is on the horizon," the show's writers may have not-so-subtly addressed the show's downward slope. In the opening scene of last night's episode "Meet the Woggles!" Liz complains that her sweatshirt is touting the wrong TGS catch phrase for its sixth season. The slogan for said sixth season? "Yuck!" And – you guessed it – 30 Rock in the midst of its sixth season. Coincidence? Twist!
Still, this is not to imply that the smart, funny, and talented cast and crew behind 30 Rock has surrendered. Even in the most mediocre of episodes, which "Meet the Woggles!" arguably was, they can still turn out some of the most quality comedy on television. Plus, you can't really ever go wrong with having Elaine Stritch return to play Jack's delightfully terrible mother, daughter of Unclaimed Irish Stowaway, Colleen Donaghy.
Jack and Colleen went toe-to-toe again as its discovered that the world's best worst mother has been in New York City to have heart surgery. Rather than tell Jack she's in town and ill (the hospital alerts him of her whereabouts after they found his name "on a list of disappointments she keeps folded up in her shoe") Colleen does what she does best: Repress. Well, repress and make some wildly racist and homophobic comments. But Liz, the over sharer extraordinaire that she is, eventually wears them down to get them to have a sweet and sincere talk with one another, a moment she took great pleasure in taking credit for. (Good God Lemon, Stritch deserves another Emmy for her work on this show.)
On the other end of the 30 Rock arena things were relatively status quo. Well, status quo in the sense that Jenna was doing something self-absorbed, this time pulling a Yoko Ono on her sexual walkabout to a White Supremacist Wiggles knock-off band called The Woggles (yes, you read that correctly) and Tracy was behaving as a barely functioning man child by trying to "reverse Urkel" his son George Foreman from attending Stanford. Tracy eventually came to his senses (well, as much as Tracy is capable of that) and Jenna came to terms with the fact that she is still in love with Paul, who she discovered has moved on with a new woman he dresses like and a couch mascot. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Here are some of the best moments and lines from last night's 30 Rock "Meet the Woggles!":
- "Factories provide three things this country desperately needs: Jobs, pride, and material for Bruce Springsteen songs."- Jack
- "Proud? My son's a nerd!" - Tracy
- "What are you gonna do, put on your galoshes go eat some fruit like a Frenchman?" - Colleen
- "That song, like everything, is about me!" - Jenna
- "There’s no need for us to start jabbering about our feelings and sobbing like Bill Belichick listening to Adele!"- Colleen
- "If you're ordering me an edible arrangement to say thanks, I prefer meat ones!"- Liz
- Liz's pronunciation of "guarantee" is "gar-awn-tee." (I wish I had a cam-ah-rah to capture Colleen's face during this.)
- Liz's make-it-rain dance.
- Liz's "Talk to your mother!" emoticon. (The 8 is the glasses!)
- Paul's last name is L’Astnamé.
- Colleen's usual hospital of choice is Boston Catholic Guilt Hospital.
- Both Dick Cheney and Dean Cain had an equal number of jabs at their expense.
So maybe things aren't so bad as they seem on 30 Rock. There's clearly still some life left in the show and with awesome announcements like this, it's going to be sadder to let go than listening to Mike and Mechanics' "The Living Years." But what did you think of last night's episode? Par for the course with the so-so episodes as of late or redeemed by the incomparable Elaine Stritch? Sound off in the comments section. Last word.
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
[Photo credit: NBC]
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Today marked a sunny day for The Dark Knight.
Also for a guy who grows younger as he gets older and a kid who beats all odds to win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The Producers Guild of America has announced its nominations for best movies, documentaries and TV shows. Nods in this movie category often foreshadow what’s to come by way of Oscar later on.
The 20th Annual PGA Awards will take place Jan. 24 at the Hollywood Paladium.
The complete list of nominees is as follows. First, for theatrical movies:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall
The Dark Knight
And for documenaries:
Man on Wire
Standard Operating Procedure
Julie Bilson Ahlberg
Trouble the Water
And for animation:
Kung Fu Panda
And for episodic TV/comedy:
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Lori Jo Nemhauser
And for episodic TV/drama:
David E. Kelley
Mark A. Baker
Todd A. Kessler
Robert Lloyd Lewis
Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
And for "nonfiction" TV:
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List
Lisa M. Tucker
This American Life
And for "live and competition" TV:
Bertram van Munster
Hayma “Screech” Washington
The Colbert Report
Stephen T. Colbert, DFA
Real Time with Bill Maher
And for "long-form" TV"
Bernard and Doris
A Raisin in the Sun
Finally, honorary awards and recipients:
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television
MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson
The Stanley Kramer Award
Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen
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