Category: Sitcoms

It's always Mother's and Father's Day on TV: Top 10 parent guest spots

As the saying goes, we can't choose our parents. But judging from Don Johnson's appearance on HBO's "Eastbound and Down" as the father of Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), producers can get creative — and a little perverse — when it comes to casting of parents for the main characters of dramas and comedies.

The "Eastbound and Down" installment  sparked fond memories of some of our favorite mother-and-child and father-and-child teams.

1. Sally Field and Maura Tierney on "ER.": Fields moves from multiple personalities in "Sybil" to the unpredictable off-her-meds mother of Dr. Abilgail Lockhart (Tierney). Do we detect a pattern here?

2. Elaine Strich and Alec Baldwin on "30 Rock": Watching Broadway veteran Strich manipulate Jack Donaghy (Baldwin) made us understand Baldwin's insensitive but lovable executive even more.


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10/10/10: TV's top 10 moments of the first 10 months of 2010

It's been a big year in television, and we still have 82 days to go. To mark the date -- 10/10/10 -- here are the biggest moments of the first 10 months of 2010:

Getprev-4 January

There was no holiday lull this new year. 2010 began with two departures that are still resonating across the TV landscape.  Simon Cowell announced that he would leave "American Idol" in May. Cowell traded in the Fox talent show he helped shape into a juggernaut for his own British talent competition, "The X Factor," which will debut on Fox next fall.

That would have qualified for the month's top moment if it hadn't been for NBC's late-night debacle and its controversial treatment of Conan O'Brien, who hosted "The Tonight Show" for seven months before NBC's mishandling of the failed "Jay Leno Show" forced him to resign. On Jan. 22, the redheaded comic known affectionately to his fans as Coco gave up the job of his dreams in a very classy way.

"Despite this sense of loss, I really feel that this should be a happy moment," he said. "Every comedian dreams of hosting 'The Tonight Show,' and for seven months I got to do it." Addressing his viewers, and especially "young people," he said, "Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism ­-- for the record, it's my least favorite quality, and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

O'Brien, who rebounded on Twitter and a live tour, has a new show, "Conan," which premieres on TBS on Nov. 8.


 Reality TV became really real on Feb. 9 when beloved Capt. Phil Harris of "Deadliest Catch" died from complications of a massive stroke that he suffered while off loading crab in Alaska and filming the Discovery Channel series' sixth season. The episode, which covered the Cornelia Marie captain's death, aired in July and drew 8.5 million viewers, a record for the series.

Known for his volatile but caring relationship with his two sons, Harris began fishing with his father as a boy and was one of the youngest captains of a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea. He had been in charge of the Cornelia Marie for more than two decades when he died. His sons, Jake and Josh Harris, are at its helm now.

The clock stopped ticking for Jack Bauer on a sad spring day when Fox announced that "24" would end its groundbreaking stint on television at the end of the season. The Kiefer Sutherland-led drama concluded at the end of its eighth day with an emotional but hopeful ending that let viewers know that someday we'll see Jack Bauer again. (Nice and big on a movie screen!)  The finale aired in May, but our mourning began in March.


"Come on! Vogue!"

Fox's Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning "Glee" has been making news all year, with its chart-topping music, eye-opening guest stars (Britney Spears, hello!), but the musical comedy made its mark in April when it delved into the world of Madonna and delivered a memorable hour of television. Mashup of "Borderline" and "Open Your Heart" -- check. "Like a Prayer" -- good, even though it was performed by the enemy. Sue Sylvester voguing -- marvelous.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0134827f7bee970c-800wi May

No more "Law & Order" ching-ching on the mother ship. No more Jack Bauer saving our day, "24"/7. No more Simon Cowell "If I'm being honest with you" scary moments on "American Idol."

But the winner on this sad, sad month of goodbyes is "Lost," simply because we waited six years to know what the smoke monster, time-jumping island was all about and living without this ABC series is harder than deciphering what the sideways flashes meant. Always hoping to see you in another life, "Lost" bruthas.

Getprev-2 June
 Larry King announced he was retiring from his nightly CNN talk show, but is he also giving up his suspenders? For 25 years, King asked (questionable) questions of politicians, celebrities and everyone in between, and held the record for being the host of the longest-running show in the same time slot. King's last show will air in December. British tabloid editor Piers Morgan ("America's Got Talent") will take over sometime next year.

Getprev-1 July

"Jersey Shore"
returned for its second season, set in Miami, to chart-topping ratings. Seems like MTV viewers can't get enough of "The Situation's" abs, Snooki's drinking, Pauly D's "It's T-shirt tiiiime!" and Jenny's brawling.

But this month belonged to the behind-the-scenes chaos of "American Idol." When Simon Cowell left the show in May, no one expected the No. 1 show on television to be thrown into "utter and "complete" turmoil (to borrow a favorite phrase from the British judge). Ellen DeGeneres announced she was leaving after one year on the judge's panel. And rumors --which proved true last month -- that Kara DioGuardi would also leave to make room for Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler drove the entertainment media crazy for most of the summer.

August Getprev-5

ABC's freshman comedy "Modern Family" won the Emmy for outstanding comedy, making modern families everywhere very happy. The single-camera comedy not only made family sitcoms cool again but also gave CBS' competitors a reason to believe that they, too, could be in the comedy business. Five of the series' actors were also nominated, and Eric Stonestreet, who plays the lovable Cameron, took home his own trophy.

101Lonestar_Pilot-SC77_-060 September

The TV critics were oh-so-wrong. The critical favorite among the fall season's newbies was the Fox drama "Lone Star," which also had the dubious distinction of being the first show to be canceled. Starring newcomer James Wolk, the show about a con man living two lives in Texas and loving two women, aired only twice before Fox had to throw in its white flag.


 CNN anchor Rick Sanchez imploded while promoting his new book, "Conventional Idiocy." The boisterous newsman may have been one of the first to embrace Tweeting while broadcasting, but that didn't help him when he called comic Jon Stewart a "bigot" and then insinuated that his CNN bosses are part of a Jewish group controlling the media. CNN promptly fired him, and on Friday Sanchez made his first attempt at atonement on "Good Morning America." "I screwed up," he said. Duh.

--Maria Elena Fernandez

MORE 10/10/10

10commandments Photos: Ten films with '10' in the title

Culture Monster: Ten masterpieces for the decaphilic

Hero Complex: The Top 10 sidekicks of all-time

Photos: Ten stars by the age of 10

24 Frames: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed

Pop & Hiss: Ten great songs about drinking (and five others about sobering up)

Ministry of Gossip: Celebrity scandals from a spicy year so far

Jacket Copy: The 10 best 'Best of' books of 2010


Photos, from top to bottom:

Conan O Brien behind his "Tonight Show" desk when he took over the late-night show. Credit: Paul Drinkwater / NBC

Capt. Phil Harris of "Deadliest Catch" who died on Feb. 9. Credit: Blair Bunting / Discovery Channel

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in the "24" series finale. Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox

Chris Colfer and Amber Riley in "The Power of Madonna" episode of "Glee." Credit: Michael Yarish / Fox

One of the final scenes of "Lost." Credit: ABC

Larry King on June 29. Credit: CNN

Simon Cowell says goodbye to "American Idol" during the May season finale.  Credit: Vince Bucci / Fox / PictureGroup

The cast and producer of "Modern Family" accept the Emmy for outstanding comedy on Aug. 29. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

James Wok and Jon Voight in "Lone Star." Credit: Bill Matlock / Fox

Former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. Credit: CNN

'Golden Girl' Rue McClanahan dies at 76 [Updated]

MclanahanRue McClanahan, who played a man-crazy Southern belle in the seminal '80s sitcom "Golden Girls," died early Thursday of a massive stroke. She was 76. McClanahan had suffered a minor stroke in January during recovery from heart bypass surgery, her manager said at the time. 

"Golden Girls," which has aired in syndication nearly nonstop since its successful run from 1985 to 1992 on NBC, has been discovered by a whole new generation lately, partly because of costar Betty White and her resurgent popularity. 

White is now the sole surviving cast member. Bea Arthur died last year of cancer, and Estelle Getty died in 2008.

McClanahan won an Emmy in 1987 for her portrayal of Blanche Devereaux, an aging beauty who still had an eye for the fellas. The actress' resume stretches back to the '60s and includes some of TV's most memorable shows, such as "All in the Family," "Maude," "The Love Boat" and "Touched by an Angel."

The Oklahoma native, who'd had a successful Broadway career before turning to television, also appeared in a number of feature films, including "Starship Troopers" and "Out to Sea." McClanahan had suffered from breast cancer in the mid-'90s but recovered. She subsequently became an advocate for cancer fundraising and research and, like her friend and colleague White, worked on behalf of animal welfare groups.

[Updated at 1:01 p.m.] As part of a series with Emmy winners, the TV Academy of Arts and Sciences Foundation interviewed Rue McClanahan at length in 2006 about her career. Among the highlights: She talked about being plucked from a "boring" stage play by TV legend Norman Lear to audition for "All in the Family." That was the beginning of her storied TV run. See the video interviews here

In 2007, she published  a memoir with the sassy title "My First Five Husbands ... and the Ones Who Got Away."

— T.L. Stanley

Photo: Rue McClanahan at a signing for her book "My First Five Husbands" at Book Soup in 2007. Photo credit: Mark Mainz / Getty Images.


"Golden Girl" Rue McClanahan dies

Death be not proud -- but on TV, sometimes hilarious

ComedyThere you are, watching your favorite comedy show -- and then, it happens. Someone has to go and die.

Now what? Laugh, cry or turn the TV off and light a candle for the soul of the dear, departed fictional one?

As a Sunday Calendar feature by the father-daughter team of Sy and Katie Rosen explores, the best TV comedies about mortality can spark any of these reactions and more. They write:

"A great comedy death episode can be touching, poignant, cynical, dark, hysterical, sadistic, heartbreaking, exhilarating, anticipated and/or shocking...."

That's why they picked their top 10 best comedy shows dealing with death. Now, "South Park," above, was not one of them -- perhaps the repeated killing of Kenny is not quite what they were going for. But maybe it's on your top 10 list. Or not. Either way, take a spin through their picks (by clicking here) and let us know yours in the comments.

-- Scott Sandell

Photo: Oh my God, Death himself is trying to kill Kenny, left -- plus Cartman, Kyle and Stan -- on "South Park." Credit: Comedy Central / Associated Press


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