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You’ll dry your eyes out, kid.

Who can blame you? After the tree has been lit, the nog has been sipped, and the plunging into the cornucopia of gifts while quivering with desire and the ecstasy of unbridled avarice has ended… what is left but television? (If you answered “family togetherness time,” that is also correct…if you add “in front of the television.”) Thus, a number of channels are gifting viewers with marathons galore – some holidays themed, others… not so much. Here are a few to choose from:

- USA Network will be airing “NCIS” episodes from 10am on Saturday until 2am on Christmas morning. Great news for its fans. As for everyone else, consider yourself warned.

- Spike is striking back with a marathon of “Jaws ” films , starting at 9am Saturday with “Jaws: The Revenge” and running until midnight.

- BBC America is airing  an entire weekend’s worth of favorite “Doctor Who” episodes, including past Christmas specials, starting at midnight on Christmas Eve, leading up to the premiere of  “Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe“  at 9pm Sunday.

-  Lastly, a favorite tradition: TBS’s annual airing of  “24 Hours of a Christmas Story,” starting at 8pm Saturday and running through 8pm Sunday.

Happy Holidays!

Pickings are slim on TV at the moment. Just about every series is on holiday hiatus.

Since TV does not sleep,  that means settling in for a long winter stretch of movies that have been edited for television and endlessly repeated Christmas specials. Or, more often, digging into your home DVD/Blu-Ray library to watch a few holiday classics for the umpteenth time.

Most of us know and possibly own the standards: “White Christmas.” “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “Miracle on 34th Street.” And in the modern standards category, “Elf.” Less appreciated, though, are holiday classics that focus less on the magic of the holidays than the yippee-ki-yay-mutha(BLEEP) of it all.

Thus we present this list of Christmas Movies by user “metalveinzz,” which begins sweetly enough with “The Polar Express” in the top slot, but is not above including one of the finest Christmas movies ever made, “Die Hard.”  What sealed the deal was the inclusion of “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” a much-reviled action movie viewed annually in this writer’s household, usually while baking cookies. But while all the other movies mentioned here will be airing at some point over the next few days on broadcast or cable TV, neither John McClane nor Charlie Baltimore will be showing up on any network or cable channels that we know of.  Humbug.

But thanks for the holiday memories, metalveinzz. We appreciate your effort and your taste in Christmas flicks.

After checking out this list,  feel free to create one of your own.

 

Watching television is a communal experience. We form relationships with our favorite shows and their characters, and through them, we find ways of relating to other viewers. It’s a lovely thing.

It’s even nicer when one discovers new series to watch through other viewers who happen to share tastes similar to ours, which is what makes IMDb’s lists feature so handy. Peruse enough lists and you’ll discover someone whose tastes are very similar to yours and, through them, discover series you either have not heard of or have not considered viewing before.

That brings us to this list by user “GirishWinchester,” a guy who has watched a lot of TV and, as it turns out, likes a lot of great shows – including one of IMDbTV’s All Time Favorite Series, “Firefly.”  (GirishWinchester also likes the remakes of “Bionic Woman” and “Knight Rider,” which is where our paths diverge. To each his own!)

Check out his list. Then, feel free to create one of your own.

This is a time for looking back at the year that was, reflecting, appreciating,  and all that jazz. Yeah, nostalgia…good stuff. But you know what’s better? Looking forward for 2012.

One reason we can’t wait for next year to begin is that we’ll get more of the fabulous animated series “Archer.”  Its third season kicks off at 10pm on January 19.

Better yet,  suave superspy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) will be joined by Burt Reynolds in an episode set to air in January. From the press release:

“Reynolds will play himself in an episode titled “The Man From Jupiter,” a reference to Reynold’s home of Jupiter, Florida.  In the episode, which will air in January, Reynolds dates Agent Sterling Archer’s mother and boss, Malory (Jessica Walter),  much to Sterling’s dismay.”

Faithful “Terra Nova” viewers may be greeting tonight’s back-to-back episodes with a measure of nervousness. There will be action, no doubt, and romance, and conflict. Yes, little Maddy, there will also be dinosaurs.  Pray that the second episode does not end on a cliffhanger, however, because it’s highly likely that this season finale is actually the series finale.

Fox has announced that it will decide the fate of the Steven Spielberg-produced drama after the holidays, but signs do not look favorable for its renewal. Special-effects heavy and clumsily plotted over its first 10 episodes, “Terra Nova” was expected to be a blockbuster for Fox.

However, its season-to-date ratings are modest at best, ranking 38th among viewers in the Nielsen rankings.  Optimists may point out that it is tied for 38th with Fox’s breakout comedy “New Girl,” (which, going into midseason, Fox considers to be a success) aging drama  “House,” and ABC’s “The Middle.” Problem is, “Terra Nova” costs more to make. A lot more.  “Terra Nova” is one of the most expensive series on television, and according various reports, the pilot alone cost somewhere between $10 and $20 million to produce.

There are always unknowns that factor into a network’s decision to stay with a series or let it go, so there may be hope yet for the Shannons. Nevertheless, “Terra  Nova” viewers are encouraged to watch and savor tonight’s episodes, “Occupation” and “Resistance” …and take comfort in knowing that if all else fails, you’ll always have Blu-Ray.

 

It appears that ABC is no longer in the home improvement-as-life improvement business.

On Thursday the network announced that “Extreme  Makeover: Home Edition,” hosted by kind, studly carpenter Ty Pennington, would be ending in January 2012.  The series will have aired 200 episodes and constructed more than 200 homes. According to ABC, the crew visited Joplin, Missouri in the 200th and final episode to build seven homes for seven families in seven days.

A spinoff of the unscripted reality series “Extreme Makeover,” which gifted recipients with cosmetic surgery, “Home Edition” was one of the feel-good reality series that stood in contrast to the “Fear Factors” of the world. At the height of its popularity it won over audiences by swooping into the lives of families that had fallen down on their luck and transforming their homes into dream palaces…with the idea that in doing so, their recipients’ lives would also improve.

But that was not always true. After the cameras left, a number of “Extreme Makeover” homes went into foreclosure or were sold when the homeowner could no longer afford maintenance costs, or tapped out their equity.

The final two episodes of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” will air from 8-10pm January 6 and 13 on ABC.  Excerpts from the official press release are included below.

From ABC: “During its run, the quintessential feel-good reality show transformed the lives of thousands of deserving families and galvanized communities and businesses to help their neighbors in need. “EM:HE” also put a spotlight on causes that touched these families, ranging from the treatment of serious illnesses or accident victims and the importance of foster care and adoption, to helping veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and the plight of the homeless, to campaigning against texting while driving and building coalitions to end bullying. Celebrities including First Lady Michelle Obama, Elton John, Robin Williams, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Glenn Close, Tyler Perry, Mary J Blige, Carrie Underwood, David Duchovny, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Usher, KISS, Rihanna, Jessica Alba and Derek Jeter are among the many who “got on the bus” over the years to join the show. In addition, the series won multiple Emmys for Outstanding Reality Program, received six Emmy nominations, won two People’s Choice Awards and an NAACP Image Award, as well as many additional honors.

As the series traveled to all 50 states, the team designed and re-built over 200 state of the art homes, and didn’t stop there, also tackling firehouses, schools, daycares, soup kitchens, Little League fields, free clinics, churches, food and clothing shelters, summer camps, community centers, dormitories, parks, teen centers, homeless shelters, animal shelters, dance studios, therapeutic riding centers and much more. A typical build attracted 3,000-5,000 volunteers, for a total of over one million people sacrificing their time to build for their neighbors.”

 

 


Year after year, selection after selection, the Golden Globes’ television nominations are, without fail, underwhelming.

Were you expecting things to be different? Ah, you dreamer you. Remember, Globes contenders are selected by the film-centric Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The nominations that matter (for the sake of Academy Awards prognostication ) are the film nods. The Globes’ television noms, on the other hand, often seem to be based on buzz and, just as likely, a wish list of  HFPA members’ ideal celebrity drinking partners.

But let’s be fair. In years past, the Globes have served as a force of justice,  absolving sins of omission committed by the Emmys. Today’s list of  TV nominees for the 69th Annual Golden Globes, however, is not one of those instances.

Shall we break it down?

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Among all the seasonal traditions that December brings, the annual parade of “Best of” entertainment lists is something people greet either with tremendous joy or the brand of piping hot loathing reserved for a gaily gift-wrapped tube socks.

“Best of”  lists force viewers to lay their cards on the table for all the world to judge,  agree with or dismiss — sometimes with a heaping helping of vitriol.  When said viewer happens to watch TV for a living, his or her list’s feedback section can get pretty ugly. After all, the pros are supposed to watch everything and therefore have impeccable filters that enable them to confirm that your idea of what shows are the best on television are, indeed, correct. Or, conversely, the pros confirm what you have known all along, that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Here’s the deal: Year end lists are often subject to the whims of the writer at the time of the list’s creation, as well as said writer’s memory and the amount of time the listmaker has to compile his or her selections. For the most part, they are carefully considered; the best listmakers formulate their  annual round-ups throughout the year.  A couple of not-to-be missed Best of TV lists include Alan Sepinwall‘s and James Poniewozik‘s; I would also stay tuned for Mo Ryan’s and Jace Lacob‘s.

Above all, it is important to remember that every End of Year List reflects one person’s opinion. Critics, like everyone else,  are human beings with individualized experiences that inform which TV shows they’ll gravitate towards.

 

Given that fact, there are going to be some wonderful series that no amount of placements on Year’s Best lists can persuade people to watch. Case in point:  many, many viewers consider the fourth season of “Breaking Bad” to be some of the finest TV drama ever made. But there are just as many (if not more) who would rather have their molars scooped out with a spoon than watch it. Conversely  somebody out there considers “Harry’s Law” to be one of 2011 finest TV products, and you could not convince that person otherwise.  However, you may be able to steer them towards other series they might enjoy just as much.

That idea brings me to my end of 2011 list: Instead of declaring which shows were at their “Best” during the past calendar year, I’m taking a different route and sharing which shows I most enjoyed watching and recommending, because the concepts are not necessarily one in the same.

Mind you, many of the series on my list of Ten Reasons We Loved Watching TV in 2011 are common to a number of Best of lists. Others, however, probably won’t pop up on lists compiled by most critics. Take “Awkward,” for example. During a season in which half-hour comedies have made a comeback, one of the funniest on TV sneaked onto the air in the middle of July without much fanfare. But because it was on MTV, the network still besmirched by “Jersey Shore,” it had to wait to be discovered by the masses. Finding a gem like “Awkward” and telling people about it is one of the great joys of this job. Hence, Jenna Hamilton and her adventures in creating a so-called social life made the list.

To find out which other series made us love TV in 2011, click through to our list. And if my list moves you to do nothing else, please make your own list on IMDb and share the link in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

Everybody has their holiday viewing traditions.

For some, the season doesn’t truly get started until they’ve watched “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Others officially kick it off with their first viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life. I even know a person for whom Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the viewing of at least one “South Park” episode starring Mr. Hankey.

Full disclosure: That person is me.

A less questionable and far more beloved tradition, however, is the joyful viewing of each year’s “Doctor Who Christmas Special.”  This year’s special, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe,” will air on Christmas Day in the U.S. and in the U.K. – the second time American and British Whovians have enjoyed the same premiere date (minus the time difference, of course).

Where last year channeled “A Christmas Carol,” this year’s episode appears to be taking on a C.S. Lewis-inspired story. Here’s the lowdown from the press release:

“It’s Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home. He promises to repay her kindness – all she has to do is make a wish.

Three years later, a devastated Madge escapes war-torn London with her two children for a dilapidated house in Dorset. She is crippled with grief at the news her husband has been lost over the channel, but determined to give Lily and Cyril the best Christmas ever.

The Arwells are surprised to be greeted by a madcap caretaker whose mysterious Christmas gift leads them into a magical wintry world. Here, Madge will learn how to be braver than she ever thought possible. And that wishes can come true…”

In the U.S., ” The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” premieres at 9pm ET/PT on BBC America. You can view photos from the special by clicking here.

 

 

Note to readers:  This blog post refers to events that occurred in recently aired episodes of “Supernatural .”  If you’re a fan who isn’t caught up on it, you may encounter spoilers.

It was the thought of going on without Bobby that made it clear: I’m on the verge breaking up with “Supernatural“. This time I mean it.

To clarify, my parting of the ways with the Winchesters would, for the most part, be emotional. Watching TV for a living means commiting to view a little bit of everything, from “Sons of Anarchy” to “Bridezillas.”  I do my best to live up to that challenge, which means I cannot completely quit “Supernatural”.

But each of us forms relationships with some TV series much more than others…and “Supernatural” was one of my shows. I used to turn down Thursday night dates with friends to spend time with the Winchesters and their grizzled mentor Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver). Yep, it was deep and it was real.

But about midway through season six, after its move to Friday nights, my “Supernatural” passion began to fade. The writers started killing off auxiliary characters that I enjoyed seemingly just for kicks. (Rufus!)  Story arcs built up over many episodes fizzled into nothingness. (Um, what happened to the memories of Hell in Sam’s brain? That huge threat that was supposed to tear his sanity apart? He seems just fine these days.)  This season, the writers seem to be making even stranger or simply terrible choices that set back the emotional growth of its main characters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), purely to manufacture more of the show’s patented fraternal tension — which, we thought, had mostly been resolved.

Lately, episodes have been stacking up on my DVR. A recent catch-up marathon was less of a treat than a chore. I’m sad that it has come to this.

The final straw arrived in the two most recent episodes, which left viewers wondering whether Bobby is either dead and gone, or destined to appear from this point on as a ghost.  Sam and Dean might get on our nerves, but my husband and I, we love Bobby.

“Supernatural” has been testing my patience for a couple of seasons, but I decided to stick with it nevertheless. But now that we’ve reached the show’s midseason hiatus,  I have to seriously evaluate whether it still merits a season pass on my DVR.

“Supernatural” is not the only show for which my passion has faded. “Glee,” once mandatory Tuesday night viewing, can now marinate for eight days before I watch it on Hulu. My zest for “How I Met Your Mother“  has also declined sharply; my husband and I still watch each week, but we also have regular discussion as to why the MacLaren’s gang does not entertain us as much as they used to. Among new series, I no longer feel the need to plead the case for “Pan Am” or “Prime Suspect.

As many other outlets have observed, now is a great time to clean out the old and make room for the new.  I shudder at the thought of missing a new episode of midseason favorites like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” or “Eastbound and Down” because my DVR  is full of “House” episodes I’m probably never going to watch.

As such, my pre-New Year’s Resolution is to re-prioritize my viewing habits. And while I may not cut ties completely with Sam and Dean, let’s just say the boys are on notice that I’m feeling a lot freer about hitting the delete button these days.

There’s a poll on this very topic running on Saturday. In the meantime, we’re curious: Are there any TV series that you’ve given up on?