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October 10, 2015

The Five: What Julia is thankful for

by Julia Ward, posted Nov 21st 2006 12:02PM
Tim GunnMost of my Thanksgiving memories are informed by television - the Macy's Parade, bowl games, Charlie Brown's popcorn and toast dinner, etc. With that in mind, celebrating television during the holiday season isn't as far-fetched an endeavor as I might be inclined to think. So, here's what I came up with when I counted my TV blessings instead of sheep:

Tim Gunn
Thank you, Tim Gunn, for adding a little decorum to the proceedings that are reality television. Tim Gunn is proof that you can retain your dignity and appear on television simultaneously. Gunn's ability to be critical, but not cruel is a downright anomaly in today's televised competition landscape. He's also given us a mantra that can't be beat in these days of whiny, extended adolescences - "Make it work."

Weeds. Just Weeds. I'm thankful for all of it. I'm thankful for the pitch-perfect casting. I'm thankful for Justin Kirk and Mary-Louise Parker being reunited post-Angels in America. I'm thankful that the show is helmed by a woman who has been given an unprecedented amount of freedom in exploring suburban hypocrisy and the emotional mess that is contemporary life.

New Rules
Say what you will about the show Real Time with Bill Maher, the "New Rules" segment is genius. I'm not talking about the first couple of throw-away rules. The last of the "New Rules" always expands into a longer monologue-style editorial delivered by Maher to the camera. The segment is routinely poignant, funny and under-appreciated in a landscape chock full of political comedy gold from the likes of Stewart, Colbert, The Onion, etc. You can check out head writer Billy Martin and company's "New Rules" online. I recommend October 27th's "America must stop bragging that it's the greatest country on earth and start acting like it" editorial or November 3rd's Mamet riff "Controlling Congress is for closers."

Former Buffy scribe Jane Espenson is a god-send to would-be television writers. With wit, panache and a daily lunch report, Jane keeps writers working on their first, sample scripts from plummeting into introverted, writerly depression by providing all manner of tips, coaching and stories from the front. Her site is a must-read for TV fans regardless of whether you plan on dropping anchor in La La Land to pursue Aaron Sorkin's crown or not.

The Use of Pop Music on Sitcoms
I'm thinking of a few recent incidents for which I feel the need to say "thanks." Thanks, My Name is Earl. Thanks for chucking copyright usage fees to the wind for a tag of Earl and Randy doing a strobe light dance to the tune of "Mr. Roboto." Thanks, Andy and Big Tuna of The Office for giving us a drunken "Closer to Fine." And, lastly, thanks Freak Show's David Cross and H. Jon Benjamin for giving us conjoined twins Tuck and Benny's reunion to INXS' "One of My Kind."

So slide over here, and give me a moment.
Your moves are so raw.
I've got to let you know.
I've got to let you know.
You're one of my kind.

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Finally some love for Maher's show. I think it is a great show, and New Rules is fun. If only Maher could be a little less smug, though he does make some great points from time to time.

Plus you get to see a side of celebrities you rarely get to see. I was surprised by how articulate and intelligent Ben Affleck was, and Richard Dreyfuss surprised me a lot the other day. Rainn Wilson was enjoyable too.

November 21 2006 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A big second on Tim Gunn, for all the reasons you mention. Total class act. If only more would follow his example, but I'm afraid he's one of a kind ...

November 21 2006 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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