Maggie's Archive

Maggie's early TV favorites included Clarissa Explains It All, Roundhouse, and The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Her early early favorites included Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, David the Gnome, and the episode of Sesame Street where they show you how crayons are made. She still appreciates the ouevre Melissa Joan Hart, and if they made a four-hour documentary on how crayons are made, she would be first in line for tickets.

Maggie's Personal Site is awesome.

Recent Posts

The New Golden Age Is Over

I am too lazy to back this up with evidence, and perhaps with Lost ending and the “summer season” rearing its head I am in a bad mood, but it seems to me like everything good and exciting is ending, and it’s all being replaced by garbage. (Remember when I used to get excited about the upfronts? Weird.) Here are the current upfronts. Ugh.

Is this it? Is it over? The comedies seem to be the only returning bright spots, but even they’re looking a little long-in-the-tooth (The Office, 30 Rock, HIMYM) or they’re being shoved to midseason (Parks & Rec). I’m watching Treme but it’s no The Wire. I’m watching Caprica but it’s no BSG.

Yes, Justified is great. Community is great. But I’m still a big frowny face.

2 comments May 19th, 2010

Late Additions, Best Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot about Lost. Who hasn’t? One thing that struck me, as I believe I’ve said in comments elsewhere on this site, is that if they touch a hair on Desmond’s head I will full on revolt, tossing the TV out the window (and it’s very heavy) and burning the place down. This made me think about the phenomenon of Desmond, a character added after the first season who I love as much (and often more) than the original crew.

Are there others out there, who were added late but gained full-cast love? A few. But it’s not easy. The most important metric I used was the Died/Disappeared rule. If the character seemed important but then Died/Disappeared suddenly and the show went on much as before, they were not, by definition, essential to the show. It’s tough, but I made these rules up, and I’m going to stick to them.

Desmond Hume and Ben Linus (Lost)

These two are the gold standard of essential late additions. One of the things that made Desmond so effective as a character was that he appeared and then abruptly vanished, so that when he came back we were pleasantly surprised and probably fooled into believing he’d been around a lot longer than he had. Ben Linus is a different sort of addition — the unplanned kind. He rocked the part so hard they basically had no choice but to write him in to the series. These are both great examples of characters evolving naturally, and the creators being responsive and observant enough to figure out that they’ve got something there.

Counter-example: Ana-Lucia. The argument could be made that she was supposed to be an unpleasant character and we weren’t supposed to like her, but I don’t care: I hated every second she was on screen and everything she did.

Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Spike shows up as a season 2 villain, and develops into one of the core Buffy gang in fits and starts, as one arc ended and the writers realized they had something great and needed new ways to bring him back. By the end of it you forget that he wasn’t in the short first season at all.

Counter-example: So many! Anya, Tara, Wesley, Faith, Riley, and the character who’s a meta-commentary on the whole process of introducing new people, Dawn. These characters were integrated into the main cast in varying degrees of success, but they never felt as essential as Spike.

Andy Bernard (The Office)

Andy is the only one from the Stamford branch to have made it through unscathed, and that’s only after an anger management class fundamentally changed the entire conception of his character. Now he’s at home in Scranton just as much as the others, which is to say, he’s a weirdo with personal issues who we love despite his bizarre tics.

Counter-example: Erin. I’m not saying she won’t feel essential in a year or two, but right now, she’s still standing out.

Will Bailey (The West Wing)

Josh Malina joined The West Wing in season four, making him the latest addition on this list. But he felt like an old-timer immediately. This one may be a strange case, in which an actor’s previous experience with related material (his awesome work on Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night) meant that the audience was primed to accept him as a member of the team.

Counter-example: I admit that my watching was spotty over the years, but I really disliked that blonde Southern Republican who’s now on CSI. This show also was a strange case of a first-season character finding herself completely unessential to anything — poor Moira Kelly all but disappeared eventually.

Many shows never managed to introduce new people successfully, not for lack of trying, and so only contain counter-examples:

Veronica Mars

Piz and Parker are two of the most energetically disliked characters on this show. Personally, I always liked Piz, and his poor pathetic Piz hair, and who knows what would’ve happened had the show stuck around for a few more years. But these late additions didn’t click with the fans and so didn’t do the struggling show any favors on its way out.

Gilmore Girls

The essential characters in this show (Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Emily) are SO essential that any addition is super distracting, even if it’s boyfriends (Max, Chris, Jason/Digger, Dean, Jess, Logan) and especially if it’s secret love-children (ugh, April).

The Cosby Show

As happy as I am that the phrase “That’s so Raven” has entered our collective ironic lexicon, I don’t think Raven Symone is anyone’s favorite Cosby, and certainly never reached the level of a Theo or Vanessa or Rudy.


I guess this one depends on if you liked 13 and Taub. I didn’t. I don’t watch any more (for many reasons, but the lack of connection to new characters is part of it).

This is all admittedly biased by my personal preferences and shows that I watch and characters I particularly liked, so I welcome additions to the additions list. Also, I feel like this was particularly hard to pull off before the current Golden Age of television, as shows were stricter in their scope and less amorphously serialized, and so less likely to try to introduce new beloved characters, way-back-when. But I could be wrong. What am I missing?

4 comments May 17th, 2010

Best. Set-dressing. Ever.

On Halloween we watched A Nightmare on Elm Street on TV, as one does, and thanks to HD technology and a massive TV we noticed the best thing ever in the background of a scene in the Sleep Institute.


This movie terrified me as a child, and now the poster of a giant cat riding the San Francisco trolley has officially erased any residual fear I ever felt. Thanks, set dresser!

I am now obsessed with this image, as every right-minded person in the world should be. I’ve been talking about it non-stop on twitter, but now I bring this quest to you, faithful readers. Happy late Halloween.

1 comment November 2nd, 2009

Guys, Seriously, This Exists: Sunset Beat

I don’t know if this is widely known, but George Clooney has not always been the fabulous jet-setting prankster superstar he is now. In the distant past, he was a struggling actor just like so many others, who was well-known but not totally famous and who, like his peers, would sometimes be cast in pilots that — to put it kindly — did not catch on with the general populace.

sunset beatOh my god, you guys. Sunset Beat. Sunset Beat is a show that exists. Once you read everything I have to say about it, you might not believe me, but I assure you in advance that this really happened and was not some sort of fever dream.

The pilot of Sunset Beat, George Clooney’s show that was never a show, has been airing on MGM recently as part of their First Taste of Fame series. Now, Sunset Beat is not one of those undiscovered gems, that you root for and wish there could’ve been more. No. Sunset Beat is TERRIBLE. Like, truly, horribly, mind-meltingly bad. But it’s bad in a way that makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.


Here’s what you need to know about Sunset Beat. It starts with a truck crashing into a helicopter. The truck is delivering something to someone nefarious, and the driver is talking on his CB or whatever, saying “I don’t see him! Where is he?!” and other guy’s like “Um he’s like right there dummy!” and then the truck turns a corner and there’s a helicopter parked in the middle of the road. Then they crash and fall down a cliff. Classic truck-crashing-into-helicopter stuff. You know how it goes.

Then George Clooney is playing lead guitar in a band whose name is, and this is not a joke, Private Prayer. Some crazy strung out chick interrupts the performance! She used to be the lead singer! And she was married to George Clooney! And he got her hooked on the junk!

But before you go thinking George Clooney is only the lead guitarist of a medium-popular band, get ready, because George Clooney is ALSO A COP IN A BAND OF UNDERCOVER MOTORCYLCE COPS. George Clooney is driving his motorcycle down the street, thinking about how he shouldn’t have gotten his ex-wife hooked on the junk, when he sees a helicopter and a truck at the bottom of a cliff. And so he investigates and he finds a giant pile of money, because what else could a truck be delivering to a helicopter in the middle of the day on a twisty LA mountain road?

And so George Clooney calls up the other undercover motorcycle cops to alert them that something weird is going on. This scene takes FOREVER because each of the cops has to have some sort of cute introduction that tells us a little about their personality and home life. ENDLESS. Also George Clooney calls them on his 1990 cell phone, which is awesome because he’s George Clooney with chin-length curly hair on a motorcycle with a 1990 cell phone.

Some of the other undercover motorcycle cops are Doakes from Dexter and TJ from Gilmore Girls.

Then I skipped the middle because it was boring. One of the cops saved an underage prostitute? Another one told his parents he was going to med school? I don’t know. That guy from the David Mamet movies shows up in relation to the A-plot, somehow, with something tattooed on his chest, because criminals are always kidnapping innocent people and tattooing shit on their chests just to send a message.

LATER, George Clooney is performing a big outdoor Private Prayer concert (of course) and his undercover motorcycle cop mentor named JC (of course) is thrown from a helicopter onto the stage and dies. Some people in the audience threaten everyone with guns because they want their money and then they leave. And the dumb lead singer ALMOST STARTS SINGING AGAIN but then George Clooney leaves because he has to catch the bad guys and avenge JC’s thoughtless helicopter-toss-murder, and also what? Why would you think that the concert would magically keep going after a human being is tossed from the sky and lands on stage and dies, not to mention all the guns? Were there lots of terrorism-riddled outdoor concerts in 1990?

So that’s really the climax, even though there’s another climax that involves another helicopter (I think, or maybe it was a crane? Somehow George Clooney is up in the air), and George Clooney gets dumped into the ocean and saves the day (somehow) and everyone thinks he’s dead but he’s not because it’s only the pilot. George Clooney climbs out of the water onto the dock and somehow his leather jacket is still dry, and the other undercover motorcycle cops are so glad to see him because if they had lost both JC and George Clooney in freak dropping-from-helicopter accidents that would have been a really bad week.

And then, tragically, Sunset Beat got canceled.

Search your DVR for more showings! It’s very, very boring and very, very hilarious at the same time.

6 comments October 6th, 2009

The Emmys: What Should Win, According to Me

Obviously the most important thing about this year’s Emmys, airing this Sunday, is that Neil Patrick Harris is hosting. We’ll all be watching (except for Kyle, who is officially against award shows) to see him gently lampoon our heroes in song. But they’re also going to give out some awards! I know, I didn’t believe it at first either. I firmly believe that any time a deserving show gets an award it’s a fluke, so I have no hope that these selections will win — but here’s why they should.

Best Series, Drama

Big Love

Breaking Bad





Mad Men

My Pick: Lost. If you stuck with Lost, you were rewarded with one of the tightest, most engrossing seasons yet. Also we should honor them before it ends and we all feel like we’ve been duped. As far as the competition goes, Damages was uneven this season, House is delightful but no one’s idea of a Best Series, and I don’t watch Mad Men. That being said, it’ll probably be Mad Men. Chance My Pick Will Win: 8%

Best Series, Comedy

30 Rock


Family Guy

Flight Of The Conchords

How I Met Your Mother

The Office


My Pick: How I Met Your Mother. I couldn’t decide between The Office and 30 Rock, so why not spread the love around to an underdog? This was a tough category, because 57% of these shows are absolutely amazing, 14% (Weeds) I don’t watch, and 29% are the worst shows on TV. Chance My Pick Will Win: 3%

Click to continue reading “The Emmys: What Should Win, According to Me”

2 comments September 18th, 2009

Tonight on the Tifaux

I’m too disheartened to look this up, but it’s probably been at least a year (perhaps two?) since I wrote a proper “Tonight on the Tifaux.” Now is not the time to get into a whole thing, but it’s clear from the underwhelming season coming up that the TV industry is taking its time recovering from the strike, and perhaps a full recovery will not be possible. We’ll have to scramble for good shows where we can and enjoy them for the fleeting moment that they survive (yes, I am still bitter that no one watched Kings).

communityBut tonight is different! Tonight marks the premiere of Joel McHale’s new NBC sitcom, Community. It was available on Facebook a few weeks ago and I watched it, and it is delightful. The cast is great — Joel, obviously, plus John Oliver as a teacher-buddy, Chevy Chase in a role that actually suits his self-importance, and a bunch of other comedy ringers — and the premise is a nice combination of cynical and real. Without the real, the cynical becomes too empty to take.

Joel is everywhere promoting this thing (and the opening of the great-looking Informant!, which he’s also in). But here’s a good interview with Joel, where he drops the nugget that the show’s creator also wrote the legendary Heat Vision and Jack pilot. Good to know, right? And here’s the NYT review, in which Alessandra Stanley gets it right but also ruins a bunch of funny jokes.

Also on tonight is the return of The Office (pregnant Pam) and Parks & Recreation (still giving it a chance), and the first of a handful of SNL Weekend Update Thursdays.

And if that weren’t enough (stop being so greedy!), there’s Project Runway. The saddest of many sad things about this latest boring season of Project Runway is that we don’t get Lifetime in HD, and while it bores us it looks hideous.

Enjoy these riches while you can! There’s nothing else to look forward to. And goodnight.

2 comments September 17th, 2009

The MTV Movie Awards: Actually Funny

I know, I’m as surprised as you are! I didn’t even start watching the Awards on purpose — it was just there, and it was Sunday night, and I’d already watched the spectacular Pushing Daisies from Saturday. And then all of a sudden Andy Samberg is singing about how cool guys don’t look at explosions and I’m commenting on how much weight Eminem has lost and I’m twittering like a pre-teen about New Moon.

If you didn’t watch it (and why would you, really?), Videogum has collected the funniest moments. I would also add the “best sound editor” bit that Samberg did with an audience plant.

I’d also remove the Bruno bit from the list. I am SO over Bruno. Staged or not, it’s just stupid.

In conclusion: Andy Samberg is good at hosting things I don’t care about! Hopefully this is good sign for the hosting gig I’m really excited about this week: Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Tonys on Sunday. (Whoa. Overwhelmed by own nerdery there.)

June 1st, 2009


NBC just announced some new shows for next season, and most of them look pretty terrible. End of the world drama, medical drama, Parenthood sitcom (?), medical drama, blah blah blah. The good news is our boy Joel McHale has a promising-looking show (clip above), that actually might make it to air, unlike the buried-and-forgotten IT Crowd. I laughed a whole bunch during this promo, even at poor Chevy Chase who I feel sorry for but also don’t like. But here’s rooting for Joel! Yay!

And apparently he’ll still do The Soup. I’m glad but not surprised, as I imagine The Soup takes exactly 22 minutes of McHale’s time every week.

2 comments May 4th, 2009

Unrelated Things

So much to share. Get ready. First of all, how great was Kings, again? I mean, it wasn’t up to the level of the first two episodes, but it was still great. Learning about Gilboa. Everyone manipulating poor Michelle. That thing with the deer in the road. Good stuff! Why is nobody watching this show?

Secondly, tonight marks the return of Greek, another underappreciated-for-superficial-reasons show. I’ve talked a lot about how this show seems to have stolen greatness out of the jaws of mediocrity (metaphor fail), and that is thrown into even greater relief when the ABC Family programming geniuses decide to launch their new this-show-is-so-bad-it-signifies-the-coming-apocalypse sitcom, Roommates, right after Greek. I first heard about the make-your-ears-and-eyes-bleed Roommates during the pre-show entertainment at an IMAX screening of Watchmen. If there’s anything in the world that should NOT be four hundred feet tall with booming advanced sound, it’s the abomination that is Roommates. When you first see a commercial for Roommates you may think you’re watching a mildly clever parody, like one of those cell phone ads where a fake movie is ruined by someone’s ringing phone in a key scene — that’s how generic and creatively bankrupt this concept is. But then you realize that they’re actually serious with this bland Disney-channel-level-of-humor monstrosity, and it all becomes too much. Eventually you start to realize that someone out there was actually in a meeting where someone else pitched Roommates, and that first someone actually said “Yes! Let’s make that one!” And they have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

Ahem. Moving on. How about some free, quality entertainment? Via Vulture, I’ve learned that the great Whit Stillman movie The Last Days of Disco is available on Hulu. It’s not on DVD and out of print on VHS and therefore almost impossible to find, so catch it online while you can! Smart, funny, great times. Chris Eigeman in maybe my favorite of his Whit Stillman/Noah Baumbach roles. Chloe Sevigny before she became a sister-wife. Stop working and watch this movie.

1 comment March 30th, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Home Decorating Opportunity

Remember that great promotional photo of the cast of BSG in The Last Supper pose? Ever thought about hanging that on your wall in memory of the best television sci-fi epic ever? Enjoy drinking? If you’re like me and you answered yes to all three, get over to Time Out New York and enter their BSG drinking game contest.

Hurry up and enter while you still can — this closes today. (Thanks to Ali for the tip.)

March 16th, 2009

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