NBC Universal Media
Community was a well-loved show for many reasons, chief of which was the fact that in the midst of all its oddball genre-bending and crazy twists of fate, it never lost sight of itself as a truly character-driven show. And as such, five seasons (though sadly not the infamous "six seasons and a movie"... yet) saw the members of Greendale's favorite study group through the ups and downs of quite a lot of personal growth: now, without further ado (and in chronological order) here are some of our favorites!
1. When Troy gets the courage to get up on stage in "Interpretive Dance"
Early Season 1, Troy was still wrestling with his ultra-masculine identity as a former high school sports star, struggling (with the help of Abed) to get in touch with his creative side. Well, here he found it with dance, and Britta provides him with the perfect opportunity to be masculine and a dancer.
2. When Annie finally stands up to Troy in "Football, Feminism, and You"
Yes, it's a tad lacking in terms of social graces (she terrorizes Troy and his date as she takes back her grandmother's quilt, all whilst wearing an open-backed hospital gown), but it was still a real development for the love-stricken Annie.
3. When Annie and Britta make peace with their mutual jealousy in "The Psychology of Letting Go"
After competing for donations for oil spill clean-up (a competition which involved impersonating each other and some light oil wrestling), Annie and Britta are finally able to clear the air re: their Jeff Winger-induced rivalry.
4. When Troy embraces his nerd side in "Epidemiology"
Caught between the carefully constructed Aliens homage and a desire to appear cool, Troy is finally able to eschew all notion of coolness, and storm into that infamous zombie-riddled Halloween party in cardboard armor, armed with fake weapons.
5. When Abed accepts the group as his new family in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
Abed's mother abandoning him took a huge toll on him, but a fantastical claymation adventure helps him realize that there are a lot of people who really care about him.
6. When Pierce puts each study group member to the test in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking"
Jeff finally admits he has unfinished business with his father, Shirley lets go of some of her insecurities about her status within the group, and Britta is able to make peace with the disparity between her aspirations to be selfless and her actual self-centeredness. Oh, and Troy meets Levar Burton!
7. When Annie helps Abed realize that he'll always have a place in their group in "Virtual Systems Analysis"
It's actually kind of a beautiful scene – she's able to convince him that he can't retreat to his Dreamatorium in lieu of the real world; that, like her, he can't try to control everything. She also reminds him that he'll always be able to find acceptance somewhere: that he'll never find himself stuffed into someone's locker again.
8. When Pierce makes peace with his half-brother in "Digital Estate Planning"
Pierce was always a petulant man-child, so his attitude towards Gilbert (A.K.A. Gus Fring!) after learning he was his half-brother was surprisingly sweet.
9. When Jeff stands up to his father in "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations"
Jeff's emotional reunion with his father tugs at the heartstrings, but at the end of the episode, he realizes he's found his true family in his study group.
10. When the group (along with a pill-induced G.I. Joe hallucination) help Jeff make peace with turning 40 in "G.I. Jeff"
We've always known Jeff was vain, but taking "Age Reverse Life Extend Power" pills? The group knew how to get him to laugh about it with a "It's a OLD boy" mug, courtesy of the hospital gift shop.
There are countless more instances of character breakthroughs on the show – what are some of your favorites? Share in the comments!
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Fitz/Simmons recent brush with death in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale got me thinking of some of Joss Whedon's tear-inducing deaths (there are so many!). And after some careful consideration, here are the top 10:
Disclaimer: This whole post is basically one big spoiler.
Talk about character development: this guy made a full 180 from villain to self-sacrificing hero. And while he and Buffy had their ups and downs, he had the audience in his complete thrall from the moment he crooned, "If my heart could beat, it would break my chest!" in the infamous musical episode, "Once More With Feeling." Watching him run mad in the rocky seventh season made him even more sympathetic, and by the time he killed himself in order to close the Hellmouth? So done.
When Whedon thought Buffy was done for good, he decided to kill off his main girl. And how else would Buffy die? By tragically sacrificing herself in order to save her sister, Dawn (and all of Sunnydale), of course. The tragedy is upped significantly in light of the fact that no one really liked Dawn in the first place.
Even after her resurrection, there’s a bittersweetness: Willow ripped Buffy out of a heaven dimension, making her transition back into the real world... well, hell.
8. The Entire Human Race
In The Cabin in the Woods, the victory of Marty and Dana's against-all-odds survival is somewhat tamped down by the fact that their continued existence means angry gods are going to obliterate humankind.
7. Agent Coulson
Coulson died like he lived: standing up to baddies with Captain America memorabilia in his suit pocket. His death rather famously served to unite the quarrelling Avengers against a common enemy: his murderer, Loki.
Though, like Spike and Buffy before him, the blow his death dealt was considerably softened by his resurrection, and ensuing TV series.
Okay, now this was just plain cruel: apparently the Serenity's resident jokester/Hawaiian shirt wearer was killed (impaled, no less) because actor Alan Tudyk was unable to commit to a second Firefly movie that is still yet to come. Talk about adding insult to injury!
5. Shepherd Book
Angel rather tragically regaining his soul mere seconds before Buffy is forced to stab him in the chest (to save the world, of course) was a twist of the knife that was pure Whedon. Luckily, Angel's among the veritable army of resurrected Whedonverse characters!
3. Topher Brink
Like Spike, Topher did some serious character-developing: he went from possibly-sociopathic and morally ambiguous to (yet another) self-sacrificing martyr. Yes, he went mad from guilt over being the mind behind the technology that all but brought on Armageddon, but he was able to scrape together enough lucidity to save the day. Let’s hope he was reunited beyond the grave with his true love, Bennett Halverson!
2. Joyce Summers
After five seasons of brutal vampire slayings and other violent deaths, Whedon found a way to kill off Buffy’s mother Joyce in the most shocking way possible: natural causes. Sarah Michelle Gellar played the scene where she finds her mother’s corpse to heartbreaking perfection, and ‘The Body’ will forever be known as one of Buffy’s most chilling episodes.
Penny's shocking demise at the end of Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is all the more awful for the fact that it was Dr. Horrible's death ray that ultimately killed her. Sure, it wasn't him wielding it at the time (no, that honor goes to Captain Hammer), but there's no denying his role in her death. There's also some major poetic injustice in the fact that her death becomes the murder that clinches Dr. Horrible's acceptance into the Evil League of Villains.
ABC Television Network
The much-derided title notwithstanding, Selfie looks like quite the promising pilot, and here are a few reasons why.
5. People may be groaning about the title, but...
A TV show with a focus on social media is actually kind of a great idea. Already, lots of shows make heavy use of conventions like texts being displayed on screen, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Selfie looks like it's going to cover everything from viral videos to being "Insta-famous," and what a way to connect with that coveted 18 to 34 demographic, eh?
4. It's time for an Asian American male romantic lead!
Asian American men are traditionally emasculated by pop culture (see: Long Duk Dong), so it's great to see the hero of a romantic story portrayed by Korean American actor John Cho. Plus, we know from his excrutiatingly awkward (yet ultra-relatable) elevator rides with the girl of his dreams in Harold and Kumar that he's going to absolutely kill at the romantic comedy genre.
3. Speaking of the ever-awesome John Cho...
Dude has serious comic chops — have you seen Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle? Or his cameo on How I Met Your Mother? Or 30 Rock? The list goes on — basically, Cho as a modernized Henry Higgins is a stroke of genius.
2. And the other lead?
Doctor Who alumnus Karen Gillan is certainly no stranger to excellent comic timing either. And we're more than excited to see her particular brand of humor on American TV — we've missed her ever since the Weeping Angels spirited Amy Pond away to the 1930s!
1. Everyone loves Pygmalion/My Fair Lady!
It's the mother of all makeover stories, after all. Heck, the story has been told so many times we can barely keep track, yet we've thoroughly enjoyed each version. Here's a refresher: the original Greek myth Pygmalion, to George Bernard Shaw's play of the same name, to the musical My Fair Lady, to the '80s prom movie, She's All That. See? All delightful!
ABC Television Network
So, even though my Dancing with the Stars rankings were completely wrong, I may have been the only person to correctly rank Candace Cameron Bure above James Maslow. So ha!
Yes, in Monday's finale (part 1), after a rollicking martial arts-inspired free dance (and a real-live kiss during his tango with Peta – which somehow couldn't even compete with Meryl and Maks almost-kiss) James was sent home. Candace looked quite candidly shocked, as did pretty much everyone else in that studio audience. But, as Tom Bergeron would remind us, "That's live TV!" And hey, at least he got to encore his freestyle dance in last night's episode.
Speaking of which, I always forget that the second part of the finale is less a new episode and more a sort of homage to the rest of the season. A good deal of the episode is spent on retrospectives, bringing back old dancers and stars, video packages, and live musical performances, most of which was delightful – anyone could benefit from a repeat viewing of Charlie White's Dick van Dyke-approved jazz dance to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," in my opinion. Plus, Maks "joked" that he was going to "ravage" Meryl and nickname both of their "mean, Russian children" "Bear" during one of the video packages. So there was that. Now, the musical numbers were a bit on the spotty side – ranging in quality down from Iggy Azalea's earpiece malfunction, to Christina Perri's pitch-y take on "Human," to the multitasking Cody Simpson and Amber Riley, and finally, up to Ariana Grande's pristine vocals on "Problem."
At long last, it came down to elimination time: which was a delightful brand of awkward, as the three remaining pairs watched selected video clips of themselves from as Christina Perri wailed away at her piano for a good two minute plus. Then, when that was over to the relief of the poor dancers/stars, the drumroll was so long that Candace dropped her poker face and grinned like a good sportsman. She was right – she did end up coming in third place.
And I have to admit, once it finally came down to Meryl/Maks vs. Amy/Derek, my heart was actually pounding a bit – because somewhere in the last 10 weeks I became a huge Meryl/Maks fan. Which was surprising, because I usually like underdogs, and Meryl had the clear advantage as a gold medal-holding ice dancer, while Amy had a lot more difficulties in uncharted territory as the first double-amputee on the show. But on the dancer side? Derek's kind of a DWTS juggernaut – rooting for him is kind of like rooting for the Yankees. And to counter Derek's five wins, much has been made of the fact that in 13 seasons, Maks has never taken the trophy once. Plus, Meryl's admission that she wanted to win more for Maks' sake than her own rang true, and that sort of sincerity is what's always made their relationship compelling to viewers.
With all that mind, their victory was truly a joy to behold (I delightfully noted that Meryl was up on Charlie's shoulders in mere seconds, while pretty much all of the rest of the cast had to band together to get Maks off the ground, so they could celebrate their new Mirror Ball Trophy in true DWTS form). Congrats, Meryl and Maks! Now, on to those mean Russian babies.
Alas, most of our favorite network shows are officially finale’d out for the season. What to do to fill the void? Well, luckily, there are a lot of great shows yet to look forward to this summer. Here are a few of our favorites:
4. Pretty Little Liars
Call it a guilty pleasure; we can’t get enough of this teen soap. Who the heck is A? (This time, anyway). How did Alison survive? And most importantly of all, what fresh hell (we mean that in a good way) will Aria Montgomery wear next?
3. Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black was easily one of the best loved freshman shows of last year. What’s not to like? We can’t wait to see more of Red, Miss Claudette, Nicky, Sophia, and Crazy Eyes — and yes, okay, Piper too. Jenji Kohan’s hit it on the bullseye with this show, as per usual.
2. Masters of Sex
Masters of Sex left us at quite the junction at the end of its first season: What’s going to happen to the study? Will Masters find a way to get his job back? (From promos, it looks like he just might). What’s the status of Masters and Gini’s relationship? In any case, it looks like Masters’ controversial presentation is going to have a lot of repercussions, and we’re excited to see the drama unfold.
1. Doctor Who
Doctor Who hasn’t set a premiere date, but it’s rumored to start sometime in August. We’re all excited (though not as excited as Craig Ferguson is) to see Peter Capaldi’s new (new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new — whew!) take on the eponymous doctor. It’s always fun watching companions bond with the new regenerations — and we have a feeling Capaldi and companion Jenna Louise Coleman will be gangbusters together.
What are you going to be watching this summer? Share your answers in the comments!
ABC Television Network
We don't know what will become of Leo Fitz after last night's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale (warning: spoilers to follow!), but it's not looking good: both Simmons and Fury's rather subdued reactions when asked of his well-being hint at some kind of permanent damage. Since his brain was without oxygen for an extended period of time, brain damage seems his most likely fate. And alas, a brain damaged super-genius sounds like a tragedy ripped right out of the Whedon playbook.
So while we wait out the long and arduous summer hiatus, why not take a look at all the reasons we love him so?
The rest of his team has taken Ward’s new status as a turncoat with a jaded, quiet fury, but Fitz is the only one who believes Ward might just be redeemable (and he’s probably right). To the general annoyance of everyone else, he holds out hope: maybe Ward was coerced! Maybe Ward’s a triple agent! Even when Ward is threatening to kill him and Simmons, he tells him, “I know that you’re a good person, Ward. And you can choose, right now, to be good!”
6. He’s kind of a buffoon
Case in point: he lit the curtains on fire with a Howling Commando’s laser-disguised-as-a-cigarette. And brought along a sandwich when he was being chased by dogs.
5. He's a romantic
His relationship with Simmons might have started out on the wrong side of annoying, but with each subsequent episode, it’s grown more and more adorable. Remember when he made Simmons promise to him she wasn’t Hydra? Or when he said that the one thing he’d want most on a desert island was Simmons? For the record, she’d want to have the TARDIS — us too, Simmons. Us too.
He mixes prints (we’re talking plaid, polka dots, stripes, and more) with surprising aplomb. Who knew this science geek was such a fashionista? (Or is it fashionisto...) In any case, he and Simmons make quite the matched set in their geek chic wares.
3. Sensitive is the new manly
He shed actual tears when Agent Garrett revealed his true colors as an undercover Hydra agent. In a show where characters are trained to tamp down their emotions (see: Agent Melinda May), it was a welcome change.
2. But when it comes down to it, he’s willing to kill for his team
His ability to show his sensitive side doesn’t mean that he can’t be tough as nails when it comes down to it. In a moment of sheer badassery, he had absolutely no qualms about disabling the machinery keeping Agent Garrett alive.
1. Can you say "selfless?"
In last night's episode, he puts his life on the line to save Simmons, and the real kicker is, it's his way of proving his love for her. Now, bring on the tears.
Hopefully, Fitz' fate was left uncertain for a reason. While Whedon may have a penchant for tragedy, it's also worth noting that he also has a penchant for unlikely resurrections. And besides, if anyone can find a way to cure whatever ails him, it's Simmons.
The Mindy Project sure gets a lot of flack, considering the fact that it's one of the more progressive shows currently on TV – one of the only, in fact, to star a woman of color. Oh, and there's the little detail that it's also written and produced by said woman of color. To pay credit to Mindy Kaling, of whom I'm a big fan, she is one of the few figures in network TV who seems to be making a difference.
But that doesn't make it any easier to watch as many of her female characters slowly get sidelined in favor of new male characters. Shauna is all but a dim memory, and Gwen Grandy, along with pretty much all of Mindy's female friends, have disappeared from the fabric of the show completely. Zoe Jarman's hapless receptionist Betsy Putch is the latest to leave the show, after a season wherein she got roughly one line of dialogue per episode. Even the female cast members that remain (Xosha Roquemore and Beth Grant) are, in general, woefully underused.
Jarman's departure has extra sting to it, as she was one of the last original cast members left standing. And the fact that she's the latest in a long string of ladies to leave the show, likely for good (she's been invited to guest star in sSeason 3, but hey, so was Anna Camp) doesn't exactly bode well either.
Kaling has said that above all, she just wants "to use funny people." We're all for that, but would it hurt to audition a few extra actresses before hiring another funny man? Our fingers are crossed for an ultra-talented comedienne to join Shulman and Associates as Betsy's replacement... or better yet, another doctor.
ABC Television Network
At this point in the Dancing with the Stars competition, everyone has the dancing skills to win: each remaining pair has scored high since Episode 1. As such, there's no real "dark horse" in this bunch – so when it comes down to it, it's going to be a tight race. As such, without further ado, here's how we'd rank the semi-finalists:
5. James Maslow/Peta Murgatroyd
Like the rest of the bunch, James is an adept dancer. His so-called chemistry with Peta might give him an edge, but they have considerably less sizzle than competitors Meryl and Maks. There's also the fact that he's routinely labeled as the "eye candy" of the show, but is that enough to take home the trophy?
Secret weapon: Shirtlessness
4. Candace Cameron-Bure
Candace might be the closest thing to a dark horse champion that the competition has at this point: she started the season off with excellent scores, then faltered after a bout with anxiety. Anyway, she's now the sort of "comeback kid" – plus, her close connection with her family makes her more accessible and easy to root for.
Secret weapon: Her relatability
3. Charlie White/Sharna Burgess
Some argued that Charlie's recent gold medal as an ice dancer was an unfair advantage (Olympic athletes have tended to do especially well in past seasons). Sure, Charlie's got discipline and talent to spare, but his golden ticket may lie with his charisma: he has a certain effervescence that might just make up the difference between runner-up and champion.
Secret weapon:The "aww!" factor
2. Meryl Davis/Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Like Charlie, Meryl's also got some extra experience with dance (as noted in the premiere, her spins are off the charts), but it might just be her chemistry with Maks that wins the day. Yes, on a show that runneth over with fauxmance, her relationship with Maks looks almost – dare I say it – genuine.
Secret weapon: The "aww!" factor, but in a different way
1. Amy Purdy/Derek Hough
This duo has everything it needs to win: flawless dancing, an athletic background (another Olympian!), and perhaps most importantly, an inspirational backstory. And let's forget that Derek's won the Mirror Ball Trophy five times, more times than any other pro on the show...
Secret weapon: She's inspirational times a thousand
Who do you think's got what it takes? Let us know in the comments!
FOX Broadcasting Co.
The Mindy Project's finale episode was quite an ambitious 22 minutes – it was filled to the brim with Nora Ephron references; enough references, in fact, to make previous episodes "Harry and Sally," and "You've Got Sext" look like child's play.
We start off with a little catfishing, Tom Hanks style. Remember how, in the second half of You've Got Mail, Tom Hanks totally knows who he's dealing with, but Meg Ryan is still completely in the dark? And he semi-manipulatively uses it to do the strangest (yet ultimately romantic) combination of confusing and wooing her? Well, Danny does his best attempt at that and fails horribly, and the whole mess eventually culminates in him standing her up on top of the Empire State Building in untenable weather conditions.
He atones by going on an Ephron-inspired tour of the city (visiting every place Meg Ryan ever "laugh-cried"), and things are looking up, until his crime is revealed. He pleads for a second chance; a second chance to meet at the top of the Empire State Building, but she flat-out refuses – after all, fool me once, right? Things aren't looking good, but the entire Shulman and Associates team (sans Danny) convinces Mindy that Danny really does love her – in fact, it's those Cinderella earrings she planted at his house that provide the proof of his love. Neither has an easy time getting to their romantic rendezvouz point (she has to take the 100+ flights of stairs to the top; he gets hit by a cab), but against all odds they have the romantic comedy moment of their dreams (her dreams, anyway), and to the delight of fans the world over, the episode ends with talk of children and – it has to be said – another mid-makeout a**-grab.
Yes, the episode was a veritable shrine worshipping at the feet of Her Holiness, Nora Ephron, but it also kept its policy of subverting romantic comedy by portraying it as fantasy. Case in point: as Danny runs through the city like Billy Crystal on New Year's Eve, it's not "It Had To Be You" playing wistfully in the background, but "Dancing in the Dark." Oh, and he gets hit by a cab – small details, people. And instead of a romantic-yet-chaste kiss atop the Empire State Building, they sloppily makeout on the floor, much to the distaste to the tourists surrounding them.
But in the end, after all of that artful Ephron-subverting, we end up right back where we started from: smack-dab in the middle of Mindy's (Lahiri and Kaling, in this case) dream-fever amalgamation of Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You've Got Mail, resulting in a great episode that never took its eye off the ball. (I'm not complaining, but if I could change anything, I would make sure Danny delivered his version of the speech Harry gives Sally on New Years' Eve – but you can't have everything).
A finale like this makes us happier than ever that Mindy is getting its much-deserved third season – we can't wait to see where Danny and Mindy are in September!
I couldn't in good conscience call myself a true anime fan. I'm a casual fan of the genre at best – I haven't truly watched it since the days of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
That is, until Puella Magi Madoka Magica. At first glance, it looks almost unbearably saccharine – Madoka, the protagonist has cotton candy pink hair, and together with her friends, they make up almost every color in the rainbow in their ultra-girly get-up. To my prejudiced eyes, it looked, in a word, silly.
But then I started to notice that all of my smartest, savviest friends could not stop gushing about it – and feeling the tiniest bit left out, I decided to give it a try. It was one of those shows you binge-watch over the course of a day – and binge-watch I did. Approximately 6 hours later, I was crying my eyes out and feverishly planning out a Homura Akemi Halloween costume (even though it was February). Long story short, everyone should watch it, and here's a few reasons why:
- First off, the series is beautiful. Part of the premise involves a magic parallel universe, which is rendered in animation through breathtakingly gorgeous collaged art. It's unique, and I'd watch it again for the art alone.
- It's surprisingly dark – no spoilers, but there's a definite nihilistic slant to the series (though it is ultimately hopeful and uplifting). The writer (Gen Urobuchi – A.K.A. "the Urobutcher") is most well known for writing horror, and it shows.
- And speaking of Urobuchi – the writing is top-notch. You'll cry. A lot.
- It's adorable. (Does that even need saying?)
- Finally, the series is a thought-provoking study on the whole "magical girl" genre – it serves to both celebrate and subvert it.
So, what are you waiting for? Look past the pastel bows and puffed sleeves, and give the show a try.