An interview with Craig Thomas, executive producer of ‘How I Met Your Mother’

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas at the HIMYM set visit last week

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas at the HIMYM set visit last week

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week when I was in Pasadena for the semi-annual Television Critics Association Press Tour, we all had the chance to visit the set of How I Met Your Mother. As most of you know, I’ve never missed an episode of the series. And while it has tried my patience at times (especially this season), the show remains one of my favorites. I have a deep and abiding affection for Ted, Robin, Marshall, Lily and Barney.

After the press conference, I got the chance to talk to series co-creator and executive producer Craig Thomas along with a few other critics. As always, Thomas was very gracious. In the many times I’ve talked to him over the years, one thing is abundantly clear – Thomas and his co-creator and executive producer, Carter Bays, truly appreciate their fans. The series comes to its conclusion in an one hour series finale on March 31. Read the interview with Thomas below:

It was so fun to see so many of Barney’s ex-girlfriends return in “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara.” Will we be seeing more familiar faces?

Craig Thomas: We do want it to be a curtain call. How I Met Your Mother has a great guest cast. Here’s people that are definitely coming back in the remaining episodes – Tim Gunn [as himself], Roger Bart [the hotel front desk clerk], Rachel Bilson [the Mother’s former roommate], Lucy Hale [Robin’s sister Katie], Kyle MacLachlan [The Captain], Abby Elliot [Ted’s bad crazy ex-girlfriend Jeannette], Bill Fagerbakke [Marshall’s deceased dad], Sarah Chalke [Ted’s ex-fiancee Stella], Ashley Williams (Ted’s ex-girlfriend Victoria] and Jon Heder [new character]. He auditioned for The Goodwin Games, we almost cast him. He’s going to come be on the show.

Here are the remaining episode titles – “How Your Mother Met Me” [the 200th episode next week which will chronicle what the Mother has been up to for the last eight years], “Sunrise,” “Rally,” “Vesuvius” [which was the word Ted was playing in the crossword puzzle at the end of the season nine premiere], “Daisy,” “Gary Blauman” [the name of Taran Killam’s character, he’s an employee at Barney’s company] “The End of the Aisle” and our hour long finale is called “Last Forever.”

A lot of fans have complained that we haven’t seen the Mother as much as we thought we would. Will be seeing her more as the series heads towards its finale?

Thomas: The funny thing is we’re seeing her so much more than we would have if the series ended in year eight. Whenever we read that we’re like ‘Oh my God. We’re seeing her exponentially more. Thank God for season nine.’ People would have been so upset to get less of her.  [Cristin Milioti] is unbelievably charming and sweet and wonderful. You see this actress and you want to see more. She has helped fuel that by being so wonderful. She fits into the chemistry of this cast perfectly. I’ll say this: Some people want to see even more of her. We always wanted it to be special for year nine when you saw her. You tune in and you don’t see her in an episode and maybe you were a little disappointed but maybe that’s okay because that makes you want to see her the next week and you’re excited. Our biggest fear is what if people see too much of her and it’s not special any more. The movies Jaws worked because you were just seeing a fin for so long. We modeled season nine after Jaws basically.

Will we learn the Mother’s name?

Thomas: You’ll hear it before we’re done, I just don’t want to say exactly how and when. It’s a choice we’ve made on how to present that and I don’t want to spoil it. We’ve known it for awhile. You know I would tell you if I could.

What about Robin’s mom? Will we meet her?

Thomas: There’s an episode coming up about the fact that Robin’s mom hasn’t come to the wedding and the entire crux of that is Lily really wants Robin to be upset about it. Lily thinks Robin needs this emotional catharsis about this fact – what a big deal for a parent not to come to their kid’s wedding.

You taped the ending to the entire series with Ted’s kids in season two?

Thomas: At the beginning of year two we realized these kids [Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie, who play Ted’s children] were aging. We knew what their piece of the puzzle at the very end game of the show would be and we knew we had to grab it and we did.

One of the two actors absolutely remembered the 2006 scripts that is a crucial part of how the series ends and one of them didn’t remember because we had made them sign confidentiality forms, we cleared out the set, we had one camera man, and we cleared out everybody else.

David remembered it and Lyndsy didn’t. She was like, ‘You were so adamant that we should never talk about it that I deleted it from my brain.’

And in all these years, the ending has never changed?

Thomas: That very end piece we never changed that part. We’re so glad we shot it. The last two minutes of the series is what we always planned. We hope people like it. At the very least we can stand by it, we didn’t ever change it.

Did you ever fear viewers, who are so devoted, would guess the ending?

Thomas: Of course there’s that fear. People guess every possible outcome. People were guessing post–apocalypse, they’re beneath the earth’s crust and hiding from a poison environment. Every iteration has been guessed and there are moments where we’re nervous about it.  But ultimately we didn’t want to change anything.

I’m not going to confirm or deny [anything]. What you see on March 31 has been the plan all along and we hope that people we’ll see why we did it that way. We leave the series with a certain message that we wanted to convey and ultimately we wanted the entire series to turn out to be about and it’s a very positive message.

How are you feeling as you guys head toward the finale?

Thomas: [I was writing the penultimate episode over the holidays] and I was just a mess.I was absolutely a mess. There’s some really nice Marshall and Lily stuff in it that always hits closer to home for me. It’s no longer based on my wife and I really but at the same time it was based on my wife and I. I feel like that episode especially is one of our goodbyes to them. They’re in the final hour for sure but they get a really nice send off in that episode.

What else can you tell us about the final episodes?

Thomas: We wanted all of these characters to have their proper curtain call. We wanted it to remain interesting. We didn’t want to do -it’s the end of the series and everything’s perfect and the last few episodes we’re just coasting to the finish line. We wanted to tell a dramatic story with surprises and ups and downs. You’ll see some moments of drama between these characters and then moments of deep deep connection. We’re How I Met Your Mother. We’re a time machine of a show. So you’re going to get to see their future and it makes me cry every time. I hope it makes the audience feel that way too.

How are you feeling about HIMYM these days? I loved this week’s episode – especially Barney’s shout out to the Mo Willem’s children’s book Knuffle Bunny (“Aggle, Flaggle, Klabble”). And I’m working on a new theory – maybe, as I’ve feared since last season, the Mother isn’t dead when Ted is telling Penny and Luke (!!) his story. Maybe she’s in surgery/in a medical crisis and he begins to tell his kids the story to distract them while they await news. Thomas did say last week during the press conference that we will learn why Ted started telling the story when he did.

Do you have a theory about how HIMYM will end? Did this interview make you change your mind? Talk about HIMYM below.

Staging an Intervention for ‘How I Met Your Mother’

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS © 2013

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS © 2013

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

When I talked to Carter Bays at TCA Press Tour (you can read that interview here), I told him that I only criticize How I Met Your Mother because I love the show so much. And it’s true. If I’m indifferent towards a show, you won’t hear me talk about it.

My affection for HIMYM runs deep. I’ve watched the show since the pilot and was an early champion of the series. True story – my husband and I talked about our love for HIMYM on our first date.  And let’s be honest, whatever happens this season and no matter how frustrated I get, I’ll be watching until the very last frame. (By the way, I remain very concerned that The Mother is dead in the future. And my interview with Bays did not assuage those fears.)

Bays and HIMYM co-creator Craig Thomas are two of my favorite people in the industry. They love talking about their show as much as we love watching it. I so admire what they’ve done with HIMYM – has any other comedy run for nine seasons on a central mystery? A mystery that was announced in the title? The intricate way they’ve told the story of five friends navigating their lives and romances in New York City truly is like nothing else on television. Over the years the show has provided me with some of my favorite laughs (I still crack up about Lily asking Marshall, “Do you want to finish your bacon first?” in “Not a Father’s Day.”), favorite scenes (I love Ted’s two minute date with Stella in “Ten Sessions”), favorite catch phrases (The show will always be legendary to me.) and favorite recurring jokes (The gang can stage an intervention for me any time). I love Bays and Thomas’ love of pop culture. Marshall’s diatribe last week about Princess Bride was the best.

But the show is testing my loyalty. After a strong premiere, these last two episodes have been ROUGH. Maybe the show is trying to distract me from worrying about Winston on New Girl or how I still can’t care about any of the interns on Grey’s Anatomy. Because this week I am consumed with concern for HIMYM.

Let’s talk about my issues:

  1. Not enough flash forwards. My anxiety about the entire season taking place over the wedding weekend was placated by the promise that the action would frequently flash forward to show Ted and The Mother’s burgeoning romance. And I loved the scene at the end of the season premiere that showed the happy couple returning to the hotel a year into their romance. There was an easy, believable rapport between Ted (Josh Radnor) and The Mother (Christin Milioti). Their chemistry was palpable. I totally believed I was watching two people in love and I was happy for Ted. Which leads to the next problem . . .
  2. Not enough of the Mother: Milioti has been missing from the last two episodes. Where is she? Didn’t The Mother arrive to play at the wedding? Wouldn’t she be staying at the hotel? I (perhaps naively) assumed that since Milioti was made a series regular this season, we would be seeing her in every episode. As Adam Vitcavage pointed out in his review of this week’s episode, Robin’s diatribe about how she doesn’t like other women would have been the perfect opportunity for the camera to at least flash to The Mother. We’ve waited eight years for The Mother. Don’t keep her from us now.
  3. Remote Marshall: We all knew this story line was going to be a concern but it’s turned out to be worse than I anticipated.  As so many of you have pointed out, maybe limited screen time was part of Jason Segel’s deal if he agreed to come back for the final season. Who knows? But the whole story line is so awkward. Marshall needs to be back with the gang and fast. And is anyone else worried about who is watching baby Marvin during all of this? He never seems to need to eat or have a diaper change or cry. Honestly the only thing that would make this story line more annoying is if Marshall and Daphne picked up Jimmy and Ellis from Smash and took them along for the ride.
  4. The show is spinning its wheels: As much as I do like the recurring joke of “Thank you Linus,” and as happy as I was to see Patrice again, these last two episodes have felt like complete fillers. Nothing is happening to move the story line forward. NOTHING.

How are you feeling about HIMYM so far? Talk about it below.

‘How I Met Your Mother’ and Other Fights I am Having with TV

Photo: CBS © 2013

Photo: CBS © 2013

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

“Our ninth season will tell the epic story of the longest wedding weekend ever.”

That’s How I Met Your Mother creator and executive producer Carter Bays in the official statement CBS released about the finale. It makes my stomach hurt. Look I completely understand artistic vision and no show runner can make all the viewers happy all of the time. Nor should they. They shouldn’t bow to viewers’ wants and desires. So if Bays and his co-creator and executive producer Carter Thomas want to spend the ENTIRE ninth season on Barney and Robin’s wedding, that’s their prerogative.

But, frankly, I don’t understand why. I was surprised to learn that Bays and Thomas had intended to end the series with viewers just getting a glimpse of the Mother as we did in the finale.  We’ve all invested eight years of our lives in this relationship and I, for one, would like to see it play out.  I want to see Ted and the Mother fall in love, maybe even get engaged. I want to see the Mother and Lily become best friends and share footwear. I want to see the Mother fully embraced by the gang.

Plus, for reasons I’ll never understand, the show has made such a big deal about the fact that Ted is still hung up on Robin. This last little do-si-do in the Ted and Robin dance is truly horrendous. Really we’re going to hold hands in the rain? The show has beaten the storyline in such a way that I’m worried there’s no way we can be happy if Robin marries Barney and no way we can be happy if she ends up with Ted.  They are slowly but surely sucking all the joy out of a show I once loved.

I get that Ted still being hung up on Robin may be somewhat realistic – some people do spend their whole lives trying to get over someone. But that truth doesn’t make Ted’s pining particularly interesting to watch.  For me to feel good about the Mother, I need to see Ted get over Robin and that can’t happen in one weekend.

In the “The Time Travelers” episode it seemed to me that the show was strongly hinting at the fact that the Mother was no longer alive. I still have this lingering fear that the Mother died when the kids were little and Ted has been married to Aunt Robin all this time. Is that what the flash forwards next season are going to tell us?

My other problem with this week’s big reveal is that it’s too little, too late. Timing is everything in romance and in television. What is arguably the show’s biggest moment happened at a time when I am past really caring who the Mother is. I am happy that she is a relative unknown. I’m happy for Cristin Milioti. TV is a tough business and it’s nice to see someone we haven’t seen before getting such a high profile role. Everyone is talking about her Broadway run in Once but I want to go back and watch the three episodes where Miloti played Johnny Sac’s daughter on The Sopranos.

How did you feel about the How I Met Your Mother finale? Talk about it below.

But it’s not just HIMYM that has irked me in the past couple weeks, I’m also bothered by the fact that:

Smash killed off Kyle: Ugh that episode was the worst. Kyle got the most amount of screen time after the show killed him off. And just a quick memo to Smash: We already get that Hit List is Rent. You really haven’t been subtle about that at all. And we already know that Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent, tragically died the morning of the musical’s first preview. So did you really need the Rent poster in the background shot? No you did not. But if you were going to do that could you at least have the characters acknowledge Rent? The moment was already super meta because Jesse L. Martin stared in the original Broadway production of Rent. Honestly, I don’t know what the show was thinking with this maudlin VERY IMPORTANT EPISODE unless it was supposed to distract us from the rest of the show’s ridiculousness like Jimmy singing to himself or Tom becoming a different character every five minutes. Smash is in the midst of a colossal creative collapse. It’s rather fascinating to watch and see what they’ll come up with next (Derek being blackmailed?). I cannot wait until the cast is able to speak freely about what they thought about this second season.  Now that would be a show.

No closure on the Kalinda/Nick storyline on The Good Wife: I hear you. I don’t ever want to see Nick again either. But I do fear that the longer the story line goes unmentioned and unsettled, the more likely it could be that it could reappear when we least expect it. You can read my review of The Good Wife finale here.

Just about everything on The Following: I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so willing to allow ridiculousness on some shows and so intolerant of it on others.  For example, I don’t prefer but will allow the fact that James ended up being the one to interview Mellie on Scandal (especially because Cyrus explanation was somewhat reasonable in the Scandal world). But everything on The Following irks me. Maybe it’s because the premise to begin with is so unsavory or that the show keeps trying to find some poignancy amid all the gratuitous violence but the FBI’s utter incompetence (seriously how many times did they go places without backup?) and the show’s lack of basic logic made what was supposed to be a dramatic finale completely laughable. Obviously Joe Carroll is not dead and I’m pretty confident Ryan will survive (obviously).  Maybe the show will take a page from the 24 first season playbook and kill off Claire.  I started to wonder what would happen in season two and how the show could possible eke out more episodes on this ridiculous premise and then I remembered, oh that’s right, I DON’T CARE. I won’t be watching.

Not one but two more seasons of Glee?:  What can I even say about such absurdity? The season finale was inane even by Glee standards. As most of us had predicted but none of us cared, Unique was catfishing Ryder. Suddenly Joe and Sugar were back sans explanation. Rachel appeared to sing one song and then disappeared for the remainder of the episode. Britney got into MIT. Blaine’s still in high school but he wants to marry Kurt (what show do they think they are on? 7th Heaven?)  Next season, I must break up with this show. I must. I might need to form a support group to get me through it because when the show is good, it’s very very good (seriously that “Everything was Beautiful at the Ballet” number was splendid) and when it’s bad it’s beyond horrid.

Are you in a fight with a TV show? Talk about it below.  And don’t forget to follow up my blog by clicking on the link in the top right hand corner.


‘How I Met Your Mother,’ ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘New Girl’ and ‘Glee’ . . . this week’s TV questions

Credit: CBS

Credit: CBS

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Let’s turn our attention to the TV questions that are plaguing me this week.

Is Jayma Mays the mother on How I Met Your Mother?

At first, I was very excited about last night’s How I Met Your Mother. “Jayma Mays is the Mother!” I thought to myself. That euphoria lasted about five minutes before I realized that it is much more likely that Coat Check Girl as the possible mother is yet another bait and switch the comedy is pulling on its viewers.  Ted said he would have run to go see his future wife but really that could be anyone.  Besides, it would be a little confusing if the Mother we’ve been hearing about for eight seasons turned out to be Mr. Schu’s estranged fiancée. There are plenty of actresses out there and I hope that How I Met Your Mother picks a less than familiar face to play the title role. But mostly I hope we find out who the Mother is before the end of the season. I’ve looooong contended that the show was a strong enough comedy by itself and that it no longer needed the conceit of the title to keep viewers interested. Now, it’s more than a little annoying that the series keeps dragging out the big reveal.

Also, does anyone else think that by the time Ted is telling his children the story of how he met their mother that maybe the mother has died? There was something a little sad about the way he was saying he wanted those “extra 45 days” with her.  I totally get the sentiment behind what he was saying – we’ve all been waiting for a long time the next phase of Ted’s life to begin. But something about the scene didn’t sit right with me –it was as if the show was trying to hint at something else.  Like there was something more to Ted saying “I’m always going to love you til the end of my days and beyond.”  The whole scene had a slightly maudlin undercurrent.  Am I crazy for thinking this? Did this occur to anyone else? (Also if Barney and Robin’s wedding is 45 days away and they haven’t picked a caterer yet. They are in trouble.)

On a much lighter note, Ted, Barney, 20-years-from-now Barney, 20-years-from-now Ted, 20-minutes-from-now Barney and 20-minutes-from-now Ted singing “The Longest Time” is definitely one of my favorite How I Met Your Mother moments EVER.

Is Alicia truly in love with Peter on The Good Wife?

On Sunday’s The Good Wife (you can read my review of the episode here), Alicia had a heartfelt conversation with her daughter where she told Grace she was with Peter because she loves him. But I couldn’t tell if she was just telling Grace what Grace needed to hear. I believe Alicia loves Peter – they have a history and two children together. And clearly she’s still attracted to him. But is she still in love with him? I’m not so sure. There’s been a shift in the power dynamics and the way Alicia has treated Peter this season. She has the upper hand in their relationship (he needs her more than she needs him) and often it seemed like she was using their little afternoon delights to show who had the true power in their relationship (she even laughed at Peter when he said he wanted to take her out on a date).  Yes Alicia has used Peter’s political position to advance her career this season but I don’t think that’s why she is staying with him. She knows how much it would disrupt her children’s lives if she divorced Peter and pursued her relationship with Will.  And it’s hard to let go of her relationship with Peter and the family they have together. What do you think?

Will Jess and Nick hooking up ruin New Girl?

No, it will not. Plenty of comedies put their will-they-or-won’t-they couples together and it benefits the show – Pam and Jim on The Office, Sabrina and Jimmy on Raising Hope to name a few. It would be far more unrealistic if these two people, who live together and are clearly attracted to one another, did nothing about it for two years. The problem is that Nick does not have his life together – at all. He needs to figure his own stuff out before he can truly pursue a relationship. The trick will be to not make Jess and Nick like Ross and Rachel on Friends – that dragged on for way too long. Let Schmidt and CeCe be the Ross and Rachel. Nick and Jess can be the Chandler and Monica.

Does anything on Glee make sense anymore?

No, it does not. Santana and Quinn hook up? The show doesn’t have Quinn on all season and then brings her back just to fulfill a male fantasy cliché? Really Glee? Really? And it’s not like Brody was this great character, but a male gigolo? Really Glee? Really? Nothing about the characters is consistent. This has always been Glee’s Achilles’ heel. But this season the characters have been out of control. As we’ve previously discussed, witness Tina’s crush on Blaine, Blaine’s crush on Sam, and the aforementioned Quinn/Santana hook up. And the story lines are so erratic. Rachael could be pregnant! No she’s not!

And I’m wondering – is there another Glee that regularly features Sugar, Joe, Kate Hudson, and Sarah Jessica Parker? Not that Sarah Jessica Parker’s character ever made sense, but way too many characters have disappeared this season sans explanation. I still love the musical numbers. Seriously there’s not a better way to my heart than an ‘NSYNC/ Backstreet Boys mash up. At this point, the series should be a musical revue show with no dialogue and no plot.

What are your thoughts on How I Met Your Mother, The Good Wife, New Girl, and Glee? Talk about it below.

My Ten Favorite Episodes of 2012

The Final Page, Part One And Two

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week I talked about my ten favorite shows of the year. And, of course, those shows had some wonderful episodes in 2012. “The Other Woman” episode of Mad Men  was my favorite episode of the year.

But this week I thought I would turn my attention to my ten favorite episodes on shows that didn’t make it to my top ten list (got that?). It’s the holiday season — I’m spreading the love around.

My 10 favorite episodes of the year:

1. “Stride of Pride,” 30 Rock (October 18, 2012): This is the episode where I fell even more in love with Liz Lemon.  In 22 glorious minutes, Fey took on the ridiculous argument that woman can’t be funny. Plus we got a fun guest appearance by Olympian Ryan Lochte and a scathing commentary about how Hollywood treats actresses in their 40s. What more could you want? If you missed the episode, NBC is repeating it next Thursday, December 27.You can read my review of the episode for Paste Magazine here.
2. “The Final Page, Part 1 and 2,” How I Met Your Mother (December 17, 2012): This is the episode that made me go, “Oh right. This is why I love How I Met Your Mother.” In the final moments of the episode, viewers learn that Barney has pulled a long con on Robin to get her to realize that she’s in love with him.  The episode harkened back to the show’s glory days with inside jokes and delightful rapport among the friends (the jinx rule was right up there with the slap bet).  Plus it managed to shock viewers even when we knew was going to happen. Here I was annoyed that the show was drawing out the Barney and Robin engagement AGAIN and then the show pulled off one of the best surprises of the season.  It really was legen-wait-for-it- dairy. Bonus points for a terrific performance by Ellen D.Williams.  YESI’MTALKINGABOUTYOUPATRICE!
3. “Handle Your Scandal,” Nurse Jackie (June 17, 2012): I tend to binge watch Nurse Jackie. I’ll watch an entire season in one week. Perhaps that’s why the season finale hit me so hard. The anguish on Dr. Mike Cruz’s face as his son is brought into the ER stayed with me for a while. As brilliantly played by Bobby Cannavale, Dr. Cruz was a great adversary for Jackie because, even though he was often awful,  you could understand his point of view. Jake Cannvale, the son of Bobby Cannavle, was fantastic as a lost teenager trying to find himself in all the wrong places.  Every character dynamic reached its peak in the show’s season finale.
4. “Pilot” Smash (February 6, 2012): No, the musical drama did not live up to the promise of its pilot (boo Ellis! Boo!) but the pilot was a fantastic hour that did everything right from character introduction to central conflict. Let me be your star, indeed.
5.“Jimmy’s Fake Girlfriend,” Raising Hope (February 14, 2012): First of all I should have given an honorable mention to Raising Hope last week.  The show is terrific and weird and terrifically weird.  Its humor is out there and hilarious. And this episode, which found Jimmy conjuring up a fake girlfriend to make Sabrina jealous, was genius. The comedy upended audience expectations by putting the will-they-or-won’t-they couple solidly together (a move which totally worked) and putting the couple together in the sweet way while staying true to the unique humor of the show.
6.“A Reunion . . . “ Don’t Trust the B____ in Apt. 23” (October 23, 2012): Everything came together in this episode that found James Van Der Beek desperately trying to stage a Dawson’s Creek reunion.  I love the glorious relish with which Van Der Beek good naturedly mocks himself and the show that brought him fame. Add in cameos by Busy Phillips, Frankie Muniz and Mark-Paul Gosselaar and I don’t want to wait to tell you how much I loved this episode.
7.“The Dream Team” The Good Wife (May 6, 2012): Let’s all think back to the time BN – before Nick. Before the show went all 50 Shades of Food Products on us.  In this third season finale, two of my favorite guest stars (Martha Plimpton and Michael J. Fox) return to try to take control of the firm. The episode also featured the fantastic ending of Kalinda starring at her door with her gun loaded as she hears a knock on the door. Too bad that didn’t work out.
8.“Always”/“The Final Frontier”  Castle (May 7, 2012 and November 5, 2012): I know I’m breaking my own rules by picking two episodes from the same show but I simply couldn’t decide. “Always” brought television’s best star-crossed couple together in a way the delighted fans and “The Final Frontier” had such fun with Nathan Fillion’s status in the science fiction genre.
9.“My Life/Your World Parts 1 and 2” Cougar Town (May 29, 2012): I love the wine-loving cul-de-sac crew and never did I love them more then when Grayson and Jules got married and Travis confessed his love to Laurie. The title sequence read “Welcome to Cougar Town: Hopefully this is only the season finale.” Lucky for us it WAS only the season finale. The show returns with new episodes January 8 on TBS.
10.“The Countdown Reflection,” The Big Bang Theory (May 10, 2012): Since adding Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik to its cast, this comedy has thrived. The fifth season finale, which featured Howard and Bernadette’s wedding and ended with all the cast holding hands as Howard launched into space, was the perfect combination of humor and sweetness.

Those were my favorite episodes of the year. What were yours? Talk about it below.

TV Throwdowns

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As TV viewers, we must make tough choices. In that vein, I present to you my current TV throwdowns.

New Glee Students vs. New Grey’s Anatomy Interns: Glee had an obligation to add new students. It is, after all, a show about a high school Glee Club. It would be impractical to keep the actors high school students forever especially since many of them looked as if they passed the exit to high school long before the show started. But, we didn’t really need new interns on Grey’s. We have enough doctors to keep up with as it is. On top of that, while the Glee students may be knock-offs of the originals (in the grand tradition of Valerie becoming the new Brenda and Gina becoming the new Valerie on 90210), they have made an impact. I may not like Kitty, but at least I know who she is. While watching Grey’s last week, I did not even recognize Leah (Tessa Ferrer). When she talked about having slept with Alex, I thought, “Is this girl hallucinating? She’s never been on the show before.” Turns out she’s been on the show twice before. Who knew? The rest of the interns I refer to as the crying one, Smash and Tina Majorino. Winner: The new Glee students.

Marvin “Wait For It” Erickson (How I Met Your Mother) vs. Carl Porter (Revenge): I know it’s hard to have a real baby on a TV set. If my daughter had been on any TV show as a baby, you would not have been able to hear any of the dialogue over her screaming, but I digress. Last week when Marshall was wearing a doll in a baby carrier, it was as if How I Met Your Mother wasn’t even trying.  The scene was ridiculous. Say the baby is sleeping or out for a walk or whatever, just don’t show us a lifeless baby doll. It was disturbing Baby Carl may be the easiest, most well behaved baby on the planet but at least he’s usually played by an actual baby. Winner: Carl Porter.

Nellie Bertram (The Office) vs. BJ (Ben and Kate): Who is the better saucy British sidekick? The Office has done a lot of work to make Nellie a more tolerable character this season. The smartest move the show made was to make her one of the gang. Now she’s the one colluding with Jim and Pam to play a trick on Dwight instead of the antagonist. They’ve also attempted to give Nellie a personal life to try to humanize her character. But despite her character rehabilitation, too much damage was done last season. I still prefer Lucy Punch’s absolutely outrageous BJ. Winner: BJ

The technology on Scandal vs. The technology on The Killing: Both shows seem, at times, to be stuck in the early 2000 technology wise. Rumors spread a few weeks ago that Netflix might pick up The Killing for a third season. In addition to the fact that this might not be the best idea creatively (the show struggled so in its second season), I wondered if the characters on The Killing even know what Netflix is or that’s it’s possible to watch a TV show via the Internet. This is, after all, the show that has a police detective using a flip phone and driving a car with no automatic locks. But over on Scandal, Olivia still receives photos via fax machine (I honestly thought my mother was the only person who still used a fax machine so at least she’s in good company) and Cyrus’s husband is excited about being on the front page of a newspaper (wouldn’t he be more excited about being the featured story on the paper’s website or getting his own blog for a political website?).  Meanwhile the show has Huck who can hack into anything at any time. At least The Killing was consistent with its archaic technology. Tough call but winner: Scandal.

Stockard Channing as Alicia’s mom (The Good Wife) /Adrienne Barbeau as Victoria’s mom (Revenge): Which mom am I most looking forward to meeting this Sunday? Well I already love Alicia’s brother and I’ve missed having the Former First Lady on TV. Except for the Storyline That Shall Not Be Named, The Good Wife does an excellent job with its guest stars. Revenge, however, wasted Jennifer Jason Leigh. WASTED HER. I’m not even sure of the reason for having Leigh on the show.  Winner: Stockard Channing.

Where do you weigh in on some of these TV throwdowns? Talk about it below. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Heard a great quote? Email me and let me know.  And remember to sign up to follow my blog if you want to be part of my December TV Swag giveaway. Coming soon, my open love letter to Parenthood, Part 2.

TV is Stressing Me Out

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

These are the television things keeping me awake at night and stressing me out. I’m so going to need to invest in some new anti-wrinkle cream.

  1. That there might be a ninth season of How I Met Your Mother:  At this point I feel about the characters on How I Met Your Mother the way I felt when I saw Sex and the City 2. It wasn’t a good movie but I was happy to see everyone again. HIMYM hasn’t been funny this season (except when Barney recapped the entire show in true Barney style) but I still like spending time with the characters each week. I said this years ago and it’s even truer now – the show should tell us who the mother is and stop dragging it out. It was an inspired and clever gimmick to build a show on. And it was a gimmick that worked for a while. But the series, at its height, was funny enough without the gimmick. Now delaying the inevitable is making viewers cranky.  We all know Victoria isn’t who Ted marries so we are spinning our wheels watching any story lines about Ted and Victoria. Executive producer Craig Thomas told me that there’s an ending sequence that will get activated once the show knows it’s in its final season.  So please the show needs to end this season.  No more yellow umbrellas (what is that umbrella made of that it has lasted for all these years?). No more false hopes. Let us meet the mother and let the show have a glorious series finale in May.
  2. The leaps of logic and plot conveniences on Homeland: Let me be clear: I love Homeland. It is the absolute best drama on TV right now. That scene at the end of Sunday’s episode where Carrie realizes with relief and vindication that she was right?  Brilliant. And Damian Lewis is an amazing actor. Brody snaps a man’s neck and yet I still feel sympathy for him. He lies to his wife without flinching and I understand his plight. Lewis does an astounding job of conveying Brody’s internal struggle. But I have this nagging feeling about the show. There are times when you can totally tell the people behind 24 are behind Homeland.  It was a little too convenient that Brody just happened to be in the White House and was called into the situation room to see the attack on Abu Nazir, And that he was able to text a warning without anyone seeing what he was doing. Really? Isn’t Brody a nationally recognized war hero? Would he really simply don a red baseball cap to go take a terrorist to a safe house? Show his face to the gas station attendant? What I loved about the first season of Homeland is that the show continually surprised me. I never knew what it was going to do or where the plot was going to take viewers.  It makes me nervous when viewers are supposed to just roll with these leaps of logic and the writers take shortcuts to take the story where they need it to go.
  3. The Kalinda Storyline on The Good Wife: I’ve talked about this extensively in the weekly reviews I do of The Good Wife episodes for Paste Magazine but it’s time to sound the alarm. I am in full panic mode. The Kalinda storyline is in a free fall – it’s getting worse at an alarmingly rapid pace.  It’s bringing down the show and ruining one of TV’s best characters.  Make it stop. Now please.
  4. Daphne and Chef on Switched at Birth: I have had it with the whole teenage girl has a relationship with her boss/teacher/fill-in-the-blank authority figure.  Switched at Birth is such a terrific show – I’m bummed it’s taken on this television trope.  I miss Wilkie. Can he please come back from boarding school?

What is stressing you out on TV these days? Talk about it below. Also be sure to follow my blog so you’ll know every time I have a new post.  I’ll have this week’s “where have I seen them before” and quotes on Thursday so please email me your favorite quotes and familiar faces through my contact page.