BEST OF 2008: Television Edition

2008 was a curious year for television, what with the writers strike and all. Seasons got messed up, late night shows went without comedy, and CBS aired a bonus edition of Big Brother — which sadly was universally loathed by pretty much everyone but me. That’s okay though. I don’t mind being a maverick when it comes to reality TV (hence my devotion to Greatest American Dog — one of the most underrated gems of the year).
Strike be damned, there was still plenty of great stuff to watch. My list of the best shows after the jump…

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Happy Holidays! (And Happy Birthday… TO ME)

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you all enjoy the above video which re-imagines Frosty The Snowman as Don Draper.
I won’t say that I’m off until after New Years, but I may not be posting regularly. Still feel free to check back though because I most certainly will be posting things here and there, if I’m moved by anything in particular.
Also, today is the one year anniversary of B-Side Blog! Technically, the posts started on December 7th, 2007, but that was the “soft opening” when the site was known as “This Blog Is Mine.” Today marks 365 days (er, 366 — leap year) since the blog became officially known as B-Side Blog. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading and supporting it. The site’s growth has been great, and I only hope to improve it in the year to come. (And while we’re talking about the site, if anyone knows anyone who wants to buy a blogad, feel free to send them my way. kthnxbye.)
Be safe and have fun out there!

'Mad Men' Concludes Its Second Season; The Long Wait Begins

Mad Men wrapped up its second season Sunday night, and what a finale it was. Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the entire episode was beautifully tense. Everything about the show — from the acting to the cinematography — was wrought with fierce emotion, particularly the devastating scene late in the hour when Peggs confessed to Pete that she’d given birth to (and subsequently given up) his love child. I just wanted to shake the TV and yell “IT’S SO GOOOOD.”
Now comes the hard part: waiting for season three. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, it’s not too late. Rent the DVDs of season one. Believe me, it’s well worth it. For those of you who are Mad Men devotees, check out the clip above for an interesting take on the finale by the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, and several members of the cast.
And as a bonus after the jump, check out two Mad Men clips from the most recent Saturday Night Live.

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BRILLIANT: The Inevitable 'Simpsons' / 'Mad Men' Mashup

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Earlier this morning, the AP reported that The Simpsons would be parodying the opening credits of Mad Men in its nineteenth annual “Treehouse of Terror” episode (airing November 2nd). That alone was enough to excite me, but now Michelle Collins as Best Week Ever has exclusive screens from the episode, and needless to say, I’m beyond excited. Definitely check it out.
• EXCLUSIVE: The Simpsons Do Mad Men! [Best Week Ever]
• `Mad Men’ makes a splash bigger than its ratings [Yahoo! News]

'Mad Men' Continues To Be Television's Best Source of Passive-Aggressive Dialogue

I may not have been writing about it as intensively as before, but Mad Men still rocks my world. Last night’s episode was no exception, even if Joan was once again kept on the sidelines. That’s okay though. She doesn’t have much to do most episodes, but her handful of lines and furtive glares usually steal every single scene she’s in. She’s the queen of passive-aggression, which is saying a lot on a show that thrives on passive-aggression. In fact, I realized last night that one of the reasons why I absolutely love Mad Men is that for one hour each week, we get to hear some of the most crackling and withering passive-aggressive dialogue on TV. Between Betty’s silent war with Gloria and Pete’s clashes with his family (not to mention pretty much everything that comes out of PEGS’ mouth), the show is bubbling with tense, unspoken viciousness. AND I LOVE THAT.
Of course, Mad Men is also bursting at the seams with fascinating ideas about a whole slew of subjects, which is why after each episode, I like to go onto the show’s official site and watch “Inside Mad Men,” a woefully short two to three minute video in which creator Matt Weiner’s talks about the various themes and creative choices in each episode. I figured I’d save you the heavy lifting and embed the video here. Hope you enjoy.
Did you see last night’s episode? What did you think?

TV Avalanche!

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There’s been so much good TV in the past few days — I just haven’t had time to write about it all. So while I tend to the Hills recap, I open the floor to you all: Has Charlie found a true friend in Marcus on Survivor? Or, more specifically, how long until Marcus shatters Charlie’s world? And how hard is it to find a crater in the middle of a field?
On The Amazing Race, who do we love, who do we hate? Actually, no need for that last question — Terrence is obviously this season’s villain. And I love the previews for next week when his girlfriend complains that “they didn’t even say HI to us!”
And let’s not overlook a brilliant episode of Mad Men, the deserving winner of Outstanding Drama at this year’s Emmy Awards. One word: JANE.
And lastly, Gossip Girl. This week’s fashion episode (featuring Vitamin Water) seemed rather silly, but despite a general unevenness, it proved to be just as fun as always (the brooding Chuck Bass subplot was worth the price of admission alone). Was this the first semi-tolerable Dan Humphrey storyline since the pilot? And wasn’t it refreshing to not have Vanessa around? Plus, how many naive adolescents are going to get in trouble at school when they do a Google image search for Mapplethorpe? (High-five, Gossip Girl).
Okay, I’ve started the discussion. The rest of you talk while I get back to work…

Peggs to Don: What's Up, DON?

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Sunday’s episode of Mad Men was the strongest of the season so far (in my humble opinion, as they say), and it was all thanks to a restoration of a proper Peggs-Bets ratio. Specifically, when there is more Peggy and less Betsy, the show excels, and since Sunday’s episode focused rather intensively on Peggs — culminating in that brilliant, wonderful utterance of the word “DON” — I can’t help but to heap praises on the show. But it wasn’t just Peggy that made the episode. A certain fan-favorite Jewess made a cameo, and that alone was cause for celebration. Also, Ken Cosgrove’s stock went up when Don’s new secretary/vamp asked him for his title and all he could muster out was a shocked but pathetic, “I’m… Ken!” Good times indeed.
And now, a brief ten word recap that I think cuts to the core of the episode:

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Get To Know Peggs and Pete

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Because Mad Men is such a wonderful, all-encompassing experience, I’m never one to pass up an article about any of its cast members, even if one of those cast members plays a loathsome snake in the Sterling Cooper agency. And so it is on that note that I bring you this Associated Press interview with Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser, who play Peggy Olson and Pete Campbell on the acclaimed AMC drama. Turns out Peggs and Pete (or rather, the actors playing them) knew each other in real life, but alas, life does not follow art and no secret babies emerged from the original Moss-Kartheiser union.
To read more about these two, click here.

INSIDE MAD MEN: Joan FTW!

How convenient that AMC provides these neat little videos about the creative thoughts behind each Mad Men episode. Here’s a three minute exploration of last night’s episode, and as a bonus, the video replays Joan’s withering comment to Paul’s new girlfriend. OUCH.