2014 In Review: 20 Good Things That Lisa Saw On TV In 2014


So, I’m sitting here and I’m trying to make out my annual list of good things that I saw on TV over the previous year and I’ve just realized something.

I did not watch as much TV as usual last year.

It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part.  Up until this very moment, I was actually thinking that I watched too much TV last year.  But, honestly, 2014 was a busy year for me.  Between work and dance and family and romance and writing and seeing movies and shopping and being sick and getting well and the manic states and the depressive states, I just didn’t have as much time as usual to devote to television.

In fact, the only shows that I always made it a point to watch were two reality shows and that was mostly because I write about them over at the Big Brother Blog and the Survivor Blog.

That takes me by surprise because I love television.  I’ve never made any secret of that fact and I’ve never felt guilty about it.  When I’m writing, I find it helps to have the TV on in the background.  As well, knowing that a certain show is always going to be on at a certain time tends to help me deal with my Obsessive Compulsive tendencies.  I’ve always felt that, in a perfect world, I would have my own TV network.  It would be called the Lisa Marie Network (LMN) and I would be in charge of programming every single minute.

But, for whatever reason, in 2014, I didn’t watch as much as usual.  So, don’t consider the list below to be a comprehensive list of everything that was good on television last year.  Instead, consider it to just be 20 good things that I was lucky enough to see.

So, here’s the list!

1) Too Many Cooks on Adult Swim

You knew that I’d have to start out with this one, especially considering that I still find myself randomly singing the theme song.  “When it comes to the future, you can never have too many cooks!”

2) Figure Skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

I actually enjoyed watching most of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  (Except, of course, when Bob Costas was there with his fucked up eye.)  But what I especially loved was watching the figure skating.  How couldn’t you love the chemistry between Charlie White and Meryl Davis or the amazing grace of Yulia Lipnitskaya or Ashley Wagner’s refusal to hide her disgust with the judges?

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 1

3) Veep

Without a doubt, the funniest show on television.  Anyone who idolizes a politician should be forced to watch it.

4) Community ended its network run on a decent note

After a rough fourth season, Community made a comeback of sort during the fifth season.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep NBC from canceling the show but still, it was good to see a few more decent episodes of Community before the show moved over to Yahoo.

5) True Detective

True Detective has been praised so much that I really don’t have much more to say about it, beyond the fact that I found it to be endlessly fascinating.

6) Sharknado 2!

So, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of the first Sharknado.  (I was even less of a fan of the way the media seemed to believe that Mia Farrow was the first person to ever live tweet a movie, especially considering how lame most of Mia’s Sharknado tweets were.)  But I loved Sharknado 2!  Sharknado 2 was everything that the first Sharknado was supposed to be and more!

IZ in Sharknado 2

7) The Old People TV Networks

This is the year that I really made an effort to explore all of the channels that I have available to me.  What I discovered is that there are a lot of stations that are apparently dedicated to exclusively showing shows that were made long before I was even born!  For a history nerd like me, coming across these networks is a bit like accidentally digging up a time capsule.  Add to that, I’ve discovered that old TV shows make for perfect background noise.  I call these networks the Old People TV networks but I do so with affection.

8) Seeing my friend and fellow movie blogging Irish gal Kellee Pratt in the audience whenever TCM rebroadcasts that interview with Maureen O’Hara.

9) Opposite Worlds on SyFy

Opposite Worlds was a reality show that was broadcast on the SyFy Network.  Contestants were divided into two tribes.  One tribe lived in the luxurious future, complete with a fully automated house.  The other tribe lived in the past, which basically meant wearing furs and staying in a cave.  The two tribes competed every week.  Many contestants were seriously injured.  I was hoping that Samm would win, mostly because I share her struggle.  But I was okay with Frank eventually winning.  He turned out to be a nice guy.

(By the way, SyFy, I’m still waiting for a second season…)

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel got better and better during its second season.  I still think Olivia Cooke needs a spin-off where she solves crimes.

bates-motel-season-2-freddie-highmore-600x412

11) True Blood ended before it totally went the way of Dexter.

To be honest, True Blood was definitely showing signs of its age.  I wasn’t really happy with the final season but I was relieved to see that it still ended on a better note than Dexter did.

12) Flowers in the Attic

2014 got off to a great start with Flowers in the Attic, one of the best movies to ever show up on Lifetime.

13) Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

In fact, the only that kept Flowers in the Attic from being the best Lifetime movie was the fact that Lizzie Borden premiered a week later.

Lizzie

14) The Way The Saved By The Bell and Aaliyah Movies Brought Us Together As A Nation

For two nights, our often troubled country was united by the power of mass snarkiness.

15) Coverage Of The Fact That Paul Rosalie Was Not Eaten Alive

There was something greatly satisfying about how, after spending weeks promising that he would be, Paul Rosalie failed to be eaten alive by an anaconda.  I think one reason I especially enjoyed this fact that I didn’t actually watch the special.  I thought the whole thing sounded stupid and crass.  That made the subsequent ridicule all the more satisfying.

16) Key and Peele

Without a doubt, the funniest sketch comedy program on TV today.

17) Talking Dead

To be honest, the only reason I watch The Walking Dead is so I’ll be able to understand what they’re talking about on The Talking Dead.

18) Daft Punk At The Grammys

It was great to see the Robots enjoying themselves.

Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers

19) Weather On The Local News

“Folks, we’ve got a storm system approaching but don’t worry.  Channel 4 will keep your 4warned…”  Some things never change.  I’ve reached the point where I can find the humor in watching our local meteorologists panic every time that it starts to rain.  This past year, whenever I was stuck inside while a light drizzle fell outside, I knew that Pete Delkus, Larry Mowery, and David Finfrock would be there to amuse me with their dire warnings of a weather apocalypse.

"A storm's coming!"

“A storm’s coming!”

20) Degrassi!

Degrassi endures.  And we’re all the better for it.

Degrassi_Season_13_title_card

On one final note: GetGlue, R.I.P.  For five years, I enjoyed checking into tvs, movies, books, and emotions on GetGlue.  Sadly, GetGlue (or TV Tag as it came to be known) went offline on January 1st.  Goodbye, GetGlue.  It was fun while it lasted and I’ll always remember that week when me and that guy from Indonesia were violently fighting over who would get to be the guru of pepper spray. (GGers will understand.)

Tomorrow, my look back at 2014 continues with my ten favorite novels of the year!

Previous Entries In The TSL’s Look Back At 2014:

  1. Things Senor Geekus Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of His Head
  2. 2014 In Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy
  3. 2014 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2014
  4. 2014 In Review: 14 of Lisa’s Favorite Songs of 2014
  5. 2014 in Review: Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014

What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #96: Saved By The Bell 2.9 “Jessie’s Song” (dir by Don Barnhart)


Last night, my sister Megan and I watched the classic 1990 Saved By The Bell caffeine pill episode, Jessie’s Song.

Why Were We Watching It?

I was visiting Megan and her family for the holidays, she has every episode of Saved By The Bell on DVD — seriously, how could we not end up watching it?

What Was It About?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and things at Bayside High were pretty messed up.  Self-declared genius Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) was failing Geometry so she started taking caffeine pills.  Then, her sociopathic friend Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) decided that Jessie should also launch a musical career as a member of the disturbingly generic girl group Hot Sundae.  And who can blame him with all of this talent of display?

 And so, Jessie started taking more and more pills.  And then, this happened…

Fear not!  Jessie recovered from her drug addiction in time to be featured in Johnny Dakota’s No Hope With Dope ad campaign.

What Worked?

Jessie’s Song is like The Room of Saved By The Bell episodes, 22 minutes of television that is just so wrong and oddly executed that it becomes oddly fascinating.  For that reason, it’s impossible to judge this episode by standard definitions of quality.

The idea that Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie (a.k.a. Hot Sundae) could get a recording contract, the fact that Jessie ends up getting hooked on the equivalent of can of Red Bull, the fantasy sequence where Jessie imagines having to go to Surf U. because she failed Geometry, the fact that a few pills transform Jessie overnight, and the overly optimistic ending; none of it works.  And, for that reason, the entire episode works.

Consider this — before I had even seen this episode, I knew that Jessie Spano ended up getting hooked on caffeine pills and singing, “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so …. SCARED!”  For better or worse, this episode is a part of our culture.

On a personal note, I loved the extremely earnest way Mario Lopez delivered the line, “Hold on, Jessie — it says right here that these may be habit-forming…”

What Did Not Work?

As Megan pointed out to me, there’s a huge continuity error in this episode.  Back in the glee club episode, it had been established that Kelly couldn’t sing.  Now, suddenly, she’s on the verge of getting a recording contract.  Was there no such thing as a consistency at Bayside?  No wonder Jessie ended up addicted to drugs.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Jessie Spano, I have a tendency to push myself.  Whereas Jessie pushed herself to attend an Ivy League college and to try to destroy the patriarchy, I push myself to post a certain amount of film reviews each month.

For instance, earlier this year, I decided that I would post at least 120 reviews in October.  And so, much like Jessie, I pushed myself and pushed myself and, when I felt like I couldn’t go on, I took every pill that I had in the medicine cabinet and then I danced around my bedroom going, “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so … scared!”

And some people though that was silly on my part but you know what?  This October, the TSL posted 137 new reviews so, obviously, I was doing something right.  And I’ve already decided that next year, we’re going to break all previous records.  That’s right — 200 posts in October of 2014!  You read it here first.

And, to think, I owe it all to caffeine.

Lessons Learned

There’s no hope with dope!  Wait … no, actually, that was a different episode.  In this one, I guess I learned not to abuse caffeine but I really didn’t learn that because I’ve seen this episode a few dozen times and I’m still addicted to caffeine and, for that matter, I’m still pushing myself and having trouble accepting that I can’t always be the best at everything so maybe I didn’t learn anything from this episode…

Oh wait!  I did learn something.  Geometry leads to drug addiction and causes you to let all of your friends down.

Seriously, geometry sucks.

(For another look at drug abuse in the 1990s, please be sure to check out my review of the California Dreams steroid episode, Tiffani’s Gold.)

What Lisa And Megan Watched Last Night #61: Saved By The Bell: The New Class S2E9 “Belding’s Prank” (dir by Don Barnhart)


Last night, as Christmas came to a close, my sister Megan and I continued to celebrate the holiday week by bonding over yet another episode of a bad (yet oddly addictive) 90s sitcom.  Last night, we watched “Belding’s Prank,” an episode from the 2nd season of Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

Why Were We Watching It?

You can read the full details here but, long story short, I’m spending my holiday week in Ft. Worth with my sister Megan and Megan (because she’s the best) has every episode of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on DVD.  When I learned this, I naturally became super excited because, when I was too young to know any better, I used to watch SBTB: TNC every Saturday morning.  Anyway,  for the past few days, Megan and I have been bonding over bad sitcoms from the 90s.

(For the record, Megan claims that, if she ever saw a single first-run episode of SBTB, it was just because she was waiting for California Dreams to come on.)

Last night, we watched several episodes of SBTB: The New Class but the one that made the biggest impression on me was the 9th episode of the 2nd season, Belding’s Prank.

(Before anyone asks, yes — we both would have rather been watching Django Unchained or Les Miserables but yesterday, it snowed!  Needless to say, we were all excited to look out the window and see snow falling on Christmas.  We had fun playing in the snow but there was no way that any of us we were planning on trying to drive in it.  Seriously, we live in Texas, where 80 degrees is considered to be a cold front.  We don’t know the first thing about driving in the snow.)

What Was It About?

SBTB: TNC was infamous for changing its cast of characters almost every season.  When I first saw the show, the main character was Ryan (played by the adorable Richard Lee Jackson) but what I didn’t realize was that Ryan was actually the third main character.  He was preceded by a guy named Scott and another guy named Brian Keller.  Belding’s Prank is a Brian episode.  When we first started watching this episode, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the episode because I didn’t know much about Brian (played by Christian Oliver) as a character.  However, I quickly discovered that Brian had absolutely the exact same personality as Ryan (and, I assume, Scott) and therefore, it really didn’t matter.

Anyway, in Belding’s Plot, it’s prank week at Bayside!  Brian is encouraging everyone to engage in increasingly elaborate pranks.  Bayside’s principal, Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins), thinks that it’s all a lot of fun.  However, Belding’s assistant, Screech (Dustin Diamond) is concerned because there’s a new district superintendent and he could drop by the school at any minute.  It appears that Mr. Belding has yet to meet (or even see) the new superintendent (which is kinda odd when you think about it) and when the superintendent does show up, Belding assumes that it’s a prank.  The superintendent, meanwhile, sees that Bayside is in chaos and he promptly fires Mr. Belding.

This is where things get weird.  The superintendent holds a school assembly to introduce the new principal.  Since this is Saved By The Bell, there’s only about 20 students at the assembly.  Anyway, before the superintendent can announce the new principal, Brian stands up and shouts, “We don’t want a new principal!  We want Mr. Belding back!”  Now, instead of suspending Brian for disrupting a school assembly, the superintendent replies that the students should have respected their principal if they liked him so much.

“Here’s your new principal,” the superintendent announces, “Mr. Richard Belding!”

Mr. Belding steps out on stage.  The 20 students at the assembly go wild.  So, was Mr. Belding really fired or was he just playing a prank on the students?  Or did Brian’s words sway the superintendent?

Seriously, what the Hell’s going on?

What Worked?

Say what you will about this episode overall, it’s here that Dennis Haskins gave perhaps his best performance in the role of Mr. Belding.  When Belding came out of his office and told the assembled student, “I’ve been fired,” you truly felt both the man’s pain and the disappointment he felt towards the entitled students who had just ruined his life.  I may be wrong but I’m pretty sure that Haskins even had tears in his eyes as he delivered the line.

What Did Not Work?

Okay, let’s ignore the obvious flaws.  I won’t go into the odd logic of the film’s plot.  I won’t mention the fact that the student body at Bayside High appears to be abnormally powerful and influential for a bunch of public school students.  I won’t even talk about the fact that Dustin Diamond is in this episode.

However, I am going to point out one of the most glaring continuity flaws in the history of this show.

As you may remember, in the original Saved By The Bell, Belding’s office was this tiny and depressing room with ugly wood paneling and a window that was never opened.  Starting with the second season of The New Class, Belding got a new cheerful office.  This office was much larger, much more colorful, and it had large windows that showed off the green campus of Bayside High.  A good deal of this episode took place in Belding’s “new” office and, watching it, I couldn’t help but think about how much more cheerful Belding seemed to be now that his office was less oppressive.

However, if you’ll remember, there was a flash forward episode of the original Saved By The Bell that took place in 2003.  This was the episode where a bunch of students gathered in the principal’s office so that they could watch a video time capsule left behind for them by Zach, Slater, and Screech.  In this episode, it’s established that Mr. Belding is still principal of Bayside in 2003…

AND HE’S BACK IN HIS OLD OFFICE!

But that’s not all!  When SBTB: TNC ended in 2000 (3 years before the time capsule episode), it was established that Belding was leaving Bayside so that he could take a job as dean of a college in Tennessee.  It was also suggested that Screech (despite never having graduated from college) would be his replacement as principal…

So, what happened during those 3 years that led to Belding returning to Bayside and moving back into his old office?  And why did Belding pretend like he barely remembered Screech while watching that time capsule video?

Seriously, this was really bugging me last night.  Fortunately, it turned out that it was really bugging Megan as well.  We spent about half an hour trying to figure out what had happened and we came up several possible scenarios, all of which concluded with Belding returning to California and murdering Screech in one grisly way or another.

Seriously, we had a lot of fun with it.

“OH MY GOD!  Just like me!” Moments

None.  Everyone in this episode was just too stupid.

Lessons Learned

It’s fun to come up with grisly ways to kill off an annoying character.

What Lisa Watched Last Night: Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas (dir. by Jeff Melman)


Recently, I spent the night watching a bunch of commercials for Everest College that had been recorded onto my DVR.  Occasionally, the Everest commercials were interrupted by 1994’s made-for-tv movie Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas.

Why Was I Watching It?

Back when I was like 10, I used to always watch Saved By The Bell: The New Class every Saturday morning.  Even at that age, I knew that show was kinda stupid and that Dustin Diamond’s Screech Powers was one of the most annoying television characters of all time.  But I still watched it and occasionally, I would catch a rerun of the Old Class as well.  (Quite honestly, up until a few years ago, there was never a time that reruns of Saved By The Bell weren’t being broadcast somewhere.)  By the time I was in high school, I appreciated Saved By The Bell as being almost a type of performance art.

As of late, it’s been difficult to find Saved By The Bell reruns on television and that made me a little bit sad because I felt like my childhood was disappearing and that I might be turning into an adult.  So, imagine how happy I was when I discovered that MTV2 now shows a two hour-block of Saved By The Bell every afternoon and, thanks to the wonderful thing that is the DVR, I can watch them without having to quit my job to do so.  Yay!

Two weeks ago, MTV2 showed the final Saved By The Bell movie, 1994’s Wedding in Las Vegas.  Though I knew, of course, that Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Kelly (Tiffani Amber Thiessen) had gotten married at the end of the original series, I had never actually seen the wedding.  And I have to admit that I really didn’t have much desire to see the wedding until it suddenly showed up on my DVR…

What Was It About?

This is one of those rare cases where the film’s title truly tells you everything you need to know.  Zack and Kelly get married in Las Vegas while their friends Screech, Slater (Mario Lopez), and Lisa (Lark Voorhees) have wacky adventures of their own.  Zack has $1,200 dollars to try to put on his dream wedding but, as often happens in the world of Saved By The Bell, there are countless complications that are largely the result of Zack being a sociopathic pathological liar.  Zack loses all of his money but, instead of telling Kelly the truth, he attempts to win the money by becoming a male escort.  Meanwhile, Slater falls in love with a girl who is being pursued by the Mafia and Lisa (Hey, I just noticed that we have the same name!  Yay!) ends up flirting with a hot guy who has a pony tail and who, fortunately, happens to be as rich as everyone else that she went to high school with.

What Worked And What Did Not Work?

Normally, I separate this into two separate questions but that’s kind of pointless when you’re dealing with something like Saved By The Bell: Wedding Las Vegas.  The main thing that works about a show like Saved By The Bell is that absolutely nothing really works.  It’s all very silly, shallow, predictable, dated, occasionally cringe-worthy, and, in its way, very calming.  Despite the film’s many flaws, it’s difficult to really justify criticizing it too harshly because you know what you’re getting into when you decide to watch something called Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Las Vegas in the first place.

Almost everyone in the cast is really cute in a 90s kinda way and even the usually horrible Dustin Diamond (who I hated even when I was ten years old and watching him on the New Class) is tolerable in Las Vegas.  Though the film — much like the series — is focused on Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack, I’ve always felt that Zack was overrated.  Mario Lopez, with his confident smile and perfectly chiseled body, was (and still is) the hot one.   Whereas Zack always seemed to have an off-putting air of entitlement, Slater knew what he wanted and he took it.  That trend continues in Wedding In Las Vegas where Slater won’t even let the Mafia stand in the way of getting a date.

This film is technically a comedy though you don’t so much laugh with it as you laugh at it.  However, there was one moment that made me genuinely laugh out loud and that was the scene where “the gang” visits a 24-hour wedding chapel and director Jeff Melman gives us a quick tracking shot of the long line of couples waiting to get married.  Along with the expected Elvis impersonators, there’s also a very pregnant girl standing next to a scared-looking boy who has an old man pointing a shotgun at him.  That made me laugh.

This is yet another one of the shows where every single problem could have been avoided by the characters just not acting like idiots.  Seriously, I don’t know what’s worse — that Zack felt that it would be better to become a male escort as opposed to just telling Kelly the truth or that Kelly so quickly forgave him.  (Me, I would have been so mad at him but it doesn’t seem to bother Kelly that her future husband lied to her on the night before their wedding.)

As I stated before, there’s a lot that technically doesn’t work about Wedding in Las Vegas but it is Saved By The Bell, after all.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

If ever get married in Las Vegas, I imagine it’ll be quite a bit like Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas, in that I fully expect that 1) I’ll stay at a nice hotel, 2) I’ll get a mani/pedi with my best girlfriend, and 3) the Mafia will somehow be involved. 

That said, Dustin Diamond will not be invited to my wedding.

Lessons Learned

Nothing can stand in the way of true love.  Especially when you’re rich and white.