10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…rerun! In anticipation for New Year's Eve festivities you can either watch yet another Ryan Seacrest-hosted event with uncomfortable D-list celebrity banter, freezing strangers wishing a "Happy New Year" to other strangers, and pre-recorded performances from pop stars, or you can watch something good. (That said, if this year the clock strikes midnight and the zombie apocalypse unfolds on live television and you're watching one of these old TV episodes instead, we sincerely apologize for making you miss it.)
In hindsight, 1990 was a particularly momentous year for the cast of Grown Ups 2. That was the season that Lorne Michaels made Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and David Spade regular cast members on Saturday Night Live, the show that launched each of their careers and made them household names. Rob Schneider was also cast that season, but since he doesn't appear to be in this sequel, we are more than comfortable forgetting about him.
Season 3 of Downton Abbey claims its second big-name victim. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
We spend the morning after Downton Abbey mourning the passing of a popular Downton resident. Needless to say, spoiler alert.
It was a Christmas to remember -- though some, like Sir Richard Carlisle, would probably prefer to forget it -- at stately Downton Abbey on the Season 2 finale of the eponymous British import. (Overseas, of course, this 90-minute installment aired as a standalone special, but PBS is billing it as the season finale. Either way, it's the last we'll see of the show stateside until January 2013, which seems like an eternity.)
After his South of the Border sojourn, Kenny Effin' Powers is back stateside in Season 3 of HBO's scabrous comedy Eastbound & Down. Danny McBride's foul-mouthed, not-so-vaguely racist and all-around awful alter ego is currently calling Myrtle Beach, South Carolina home and pitching for the minor league team, the Mermen. He's apparently got some of his old heat back as well, and is so high on his newfound success that he's already prewritten the third installment of his so-called Life Saga, describing how he got back to the Majors... even though he hasn't actually gotten back to the Majors yet.
This show is weird, sentimental, insane and sitcomy, but somehow when thrown together with a liberally poured glass of wine, it works really well for us. While we were initially inclined to write it off in its early days, it completely charmed us over time and we missed it so much during its nine-month (!) hiatus. Maybe not as much as Abed has, but a lot nonetheless. Still, since we are skeptical about everything, we were more than a little concerned that the show might have lost its magic during its long time away. Fortunately, we need not have worried. Here are our favorite parts from last night's season premiere:
Let's face it: one of the big reasons why Downton Abbey is a hit on both sides of the Atlantic is that it's an above-average example of comfort food TV. That's not meant to be disparaging, by the way. It's a challenge to make a series that, week in and week out, engages, toys with and then satisfies the audiences' emotions without talking down to them; hats off to series creator Julian Fellowes for regularly finding ways to upset the oversized apple cart that is Downton Abbey, while also concocting believable means of turning it right-side up again. That said, we came away from last night's two-hour installment (which aired as the Season 2 finale in England -- the PBS run will officially conclude next week with the Christmas episode) wishing that Fellowes had taken a few more creative risks. Sure, you can't exactly describe the episode's ending as happy -- what with Lavinia pushing up the daisies after her brush with Spanish flu and Bates arrested for the death of Mrs. Bates -- but there were other roads not taken that would potentially have shaken up the status quo in really interesting ways. Here are the five plotlines we would have sent in a different direction.
The bell literally tolled on the First World War at the end of last night's Downton Abbey. It's been a challenging couple of years at stately Crawley manor and the residents' troubles don't seem likely to end, even now that peace has been declared. Here are the biggest home front battles still facing Downton:
Although the residents of Downton Abbey have witnessed the ravages of war courtesy of the steady stream of wounded soldiers that have passed through the sizeable manor, their own personal casualties have been limited... that is, until last night. In the opening sequence, Matthew and William go over the top for one more big charge and run straight into an explosion that leaves them bloodied and battered in a muddy pit. While both men are retrieved from the battlefield still alive, they arrive back at Downton considerably worse for the wear. By the end of the hour, one will die, while the other may find himself wishing he had. But they aren't the only people left wounded by the war. Here's our picks for last night's five biggest wartime casualties:
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