Email Roundtable #9 – A Few of Our Favorite Things of 2012 – Part 1

In the interest of it being a particularly busy time of the year and because it is also the time of year for lists we thought we would forego our regularly scheduled Email Roundtable. Instead, we have each asked each other about a few of our favourite things from 2012. We attempt to discuss those things here. **Warning: this article probably contains spoilers**

What this exercise taught us, is that we all love Christina Hendricks.

What this exercise taught us is that we all love Christina Hendricks.

Katie asks Kerri: What was your favorite episode from any TV show? (pt. 2, what were you doing while watching it?)

I’m going to cheat a bit answering my questions so please bear with me (and I plan to discuss more of my favorite episodes and moments in my next blog post). The sexy answer to this question is “Christmas Waltz, an episode of Mad Men that includes one of my favorite scenes in an episode of TV this year: the one with Don and Joan at the bar. I loved this episode when I first watched it (and I have only seen it the one time), for one, because it is a great Christmas episode. It is both beautifully melancholy (like all good Christmas things should be) and also about putting on masks and playing at perfection which is what Mad Men has always been about and been good at. Not only was the episode great but what I was doing while watching it was also great (now is the time where you can all swiftly remove your respective heads from the gutter). I was on a girls trip (head out of gutter!) in what I can only describe as paradise: Peachland, BC. We had just spent a strenuous day visiting wineries and lounging around the hottub but we made a point to sit down to watch our favourite TV show. The beauty of the setting and company paired with the beauty of the episode (and wine) made it one of my favorite TV watching experiences this year.

However, that’s not really the answer. The correct answer and my favorite episode of any show this year was actually the Gravity Falls episode “The Inconveniencing”. The reason that I loved this episode was that the b-plot (unlike most b-plots) was one of the funniest, most ridiculous, laugh riots I have seen in a long time. New TV shows that I love usually have the benefit of being new and exciting so I am always more eager to discuss them than shows that I have become comfortable with. Gravity Falls benefits from being new but also delightful and also essentially coming out of nowhere. Moreover it is a kid’s cartoon show. But, it is so clever, smart and joyful that whatever “family friendly” elements it has are more than palpable.

“The Inconveniencing” is an episode where the two main characters, a brother and sister dynamic duo, named Dipper and Mabel, with the help of Dipper’s love interest and her teenage friends, discover a convenience store that is haunted by a couple of crotchety seniors who hate teenagers! It’s a hilarious plot in its own right but what makes the episode truly great is the aforementioned b-plot. Dipper and Mabel’s Gruncle (Great Uncle, get it?) Stan watches a movie called “The Duchess Approves” on the “Black and White Period Piece Old Lady Boring Movie Channel”. The film stars Sturly Stembleburgiss as the titular Duchess and Grampton St. Rumpterfrabble as (oh boy, I have to type this) Saunterblugget Hampterfuppinshire. It is such a simple (aside from the names) side note to an already great episode but the way a crabby guy like Stan gets into the increasingly melodramatic plot was a standout for a film buff like me.

Katie asks Kerri: What was your least favorite moment on TV this year? 

One of my least favorite moments this year was probably the most disgusting thing I’ve seen on TV. It was a clip from The Soup of a hyena doing something awful to a dead elephants butt. You can google it, I’m sure, (not that I am endorsing that in any way) but I’m not going to go into the gory details here.

But really, the worst thing about TV for me this year, was the lack of NHL hockey. I’m a fairly big sports fan and I love watching sports in person and on television. And being the Canadian that I am, of course my favorite sport has always been and always will be hockey. The fact that we just got our team back in Winnipeg makes it hurt a little bit more. The enjoyment and euphoria I felt last season was amazing. It makes my heart hurt thinking about all the games I’ve missed and the ones that I might miss if the season is cancelled.

Kerri asks Jane: What was your favorite moment from reality TV this year? 

Christopher winning the first challenge on Project Runway Season 10 Episode 1 Christopher emerged as my favorite Project Runway contestant early in the show’s opening episode. He has the prerequisite that every great reality character requires: underdog potential. In his first interview he admits to the camera , “I’m so nervous. But I’m really confident. Really.”  I don’t believe him for a second so of course I have to root for him. His foil is a fellow named Gunner who announces “I don’t think that I like Christopher, because like, he’s really similar to me and there’s only room for one star in the sky.” Worse than that, when Christopher tries to compliment Gunner’s garment he puts up his hand and states, “I’m just not in the mood.” The entire episode is filled with these catty comments followed by Christopher’s bewildered commentary to producers. He’s “just not sure what happened” to cause Gunner to hate him so much. Despite all this adversity AND his surger eating his fabric right before the runway show, Christopher pulls off the first win of the season with a little black dress that Michael Kors deems “chic.” I wish the camera would have stayed longer with Chris’s look of elation at winning instead of cutting away to Gunner’s disgust, but I cheered and booed where I was supposed to and came away from the show feeling that the good guys won. Thank Goodness.

My other favorite moment from season 10 is when Gunner and Christopher bury the hatchet. Then Gunner becomes a good guy and we focus our hatred on Vin who claims, “men are better designers than woman.” Oh no he didn’t!

Kerri asks Jane: Who is your favorite TV character this season?

Honorable mention: I’m sure I’m not alone when proclaiming my love for Joan Holloway on Mad Men. She has been my favorite since the series began. In season 5 in particular, Christina Hendricks’ performance is pitch perfect. The electric scene between Joan and Don in the bar is a master class in acting. She finds a beautiful balance between strength and vulnerability. I will discuss this pairing in a future post but had to get my proclamation out there before moving on with the question.

My favorite character of 2012 is Desiree from Treme. Actress Phyllis Montana LeBlanc delivers a knock out performance this season as Desiree’s character is pushed far beyond nagging wife to fierce opponent of NOAH. I believe her when she vows, “I’m going to fuck these people up the way they did to me.” The beat that lingers after these words is sad and chilling as Desiree’s pain and determination bleed through the television screen. Of all the characters on Treme, I believe Desiree is NOAH’s strongest adversary and I can’t wait to see how this story plays out next season.

Desiree and Antoinne’s relationship is brought into stronger focus this season as well. It is a wonderful treat to watch these two characters play off each other. Desiree knows when it is important to let Antoinne go off on one of his rants and when she needs bring him back to reality. Behind all the nagging for Antoinne to get a job as a teacher, I believe she knew how valuable that job is  to him as an artist. She is as fierce in her support of Antoinne as she is in her hatred of NOAH.  LeBlanc’s movement from hard to soft as the situation requires is an impressive feat of acting and a sheer joy to watch.

Jane asks Katie: What was your favourite plot twist in a TV show?

Another shout out for Mad Men on this question! My favourite plot twist comes in the episode “The Other Woman.” The agency is ever-so-close to securing the deal with Jaguar but one out of the three people members on the board of Jaguar requires more… convincing. Basically, the scuzzball says that he won’t agree to the deal unless Joan sleeps with him.

The gut reaction of the audience, same as Joanie’s, is “Hellz no!” But over the course of the episode, “Hellz no” morphs into “Would it be so bad?” then to “How much is this worth?” It seems that everyone – except Joan and the audience – is in favour of her taking one for the team.

Joan negotiates with the partners (minus Don) that if she sleeps with Jaguar Man, and wins the account, she will receive $50,000 and a partnership in the company.

And so, we wait. We are teased with scenes that suggest she will. And others that suggest she won’t. When Don Draper finds out about the deal the other partners made behind his back, he freaks and goes immediately to Joan’s apartment to convince her not to do it.

Here is the beautiful twist of this episode – in one scene, it is revealed through visual clues that Joan has already slept with the Jaguar man by the time Don reaches the apartment. It is also revealed that Joan didn’t realize Don stood up for her. He didn’t think Jaguar was worth more than Joan’s pride.

So sad.

Jane asks Katie: Who was your favourite TV villain or foil?

I’m going to go with foil on this one. I spent the last little while watching seasons 1-4 of Breaking Bad (Yes, I’m terribly behind the times. Still need to watch part 1 of season 5!) and the three leads are incredible foils for one another.

The relationship between Walter White and Jesse Pinkman has always delighted me. They are such an odd couple. They are always getting into scrapes and almost getting each other killed, but they really need each other.

I can’t speak to the current season obviously, so I can’t say what these three are up to, but this triangle of disaster explodes during the second last episode of season 4, “End Times.” In this episode, no one does anything stupid. They act just as they rationally should, but because Walter, Jesse and Skylar are acting separately of one another, they end up screwing everything up.

The Jesse/Walt situation is a bit hard to explain but in a nutshell, Walt and Jesse are once again on the brink of killing each other. I’ll save the delicious details for you to discover.

As for the happy couple – to save the Whites from potentially being audited, Skylar gives Ted Beneke (Skylar’s former employer/lover) a whole bunch of cash to pay off his debt to the IRS. As a result of this, when Walter needs half a mil in cash to make his family “disappear” the money just isn’t there. Skylar tearfully tells Walt that she gave the money to Ted. Both made the right decisions – both are trying to protect their family – but these decisions couldn’t exist at the same time.

These three characters make for fascinating television. They are all amateurs at criminal activity, so they are bound to make mistakes. Not only that, but they make decisions with their hearts. If drug shows have taught me anything, it’s that you can’t act with your heart. It’s all in the game.

Image of Christina Hendricks by vagueonthehow

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