November 2008

On the occasion of my being lazy.

5. New Owner Sinks His Teeth Into the Viper Room by John Anderson.  The Viper Room is where River Phoenix died, right? Well, I’m probably never going to go there, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about skipping this one.

4. U.S. ‘Not Getting What We Pay For;’ Many Experts Say Health-Care System Inefficient, Wasteful by Ceci Connolly. I think I didn’t read this one because, frankly, it doesn’t sound very newsy.

3. Jonathan Yardley on ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas;’ Dickens was facing financial ruin when he imagined Ebenezer Scrooge. This Book World review looked really interesting, but I’m not ready to start thinking about Christmas. Maybe I should bookmark it and save it for next week.

2. At the Last Minute, a Raft of Rules; Bush White House Approves Regulations on Environmental, Security Matters By R. Jeffrey Smith and Juliet Eilperin. I probably will read this one eventually, but can’t the Bush administration be over already?

1. Rev. George Docherty; Urged ‘Under God’ in Pledge by Matt Schudel. When I read this headline of this obituary today, I got really angry, or as angry as you can get at 7ish on a Sunday morning. You mean the pledge didn’t originally include “under God?” Some preacher lobbied for its inclusion? I feel increasingly passionate about secularism these days. I don’t know why I didn’t read this one; I must have been distracted by the Metro section’s picture of Michelle Rhee’s awesome Time magazine cover. That excuse isn’t good enough. I’m going to go read it now.


twilight1OK, now I get it. When Andrew read the “Twilight” series this summer, I turned up my nose, wondering what could be so engrossing about a love story between a teenage girl and her vampire boyfriend. Now, having seen “Twilight,” the movie based on the first novel in the series, the appeal is clear. The film offers a fresh interpretation of familiar vampire mythology, and the gray-yet-lush Pacific Northwest scenery provides the perfect setting for a moody, seemingly doomed romance. But the real attraction here are the leads: Kristen Stewart, who is effortlessly good as the wise-beyond-her-years Bella; and Robert Pattinson, whose wild-haired brooding recalls a young Johnny Depp. Both actors are naturals, and naturally beautiful. They keep “Twilight” grounded, no small feat for a movie that includes a vampire baseball game. The “Twilight” series is often compared to the “Harry Potter” books, given the fanatical following both sagas inspire. I haven’t read either, so I can’t say if the comparison is fair. But this I do know: “Twilight” the movie made me want to read the novel on which it was based, a feat the “Harry Potter” films never managed.

My rating: Four out of five vampire baseballs

On the occasion of my wanting to impress Robin.


paul-campbell5. Paul Campbell (Billy Keikeya). The sweetest baby face in outer space. Campbell makes me wish I had breasts, just so I could nuzzle him in them.







jamie-bamber4. Jamie Bamber (Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama). Possibly the most flawless physical specimen in prime time. He doesn’t rank higher because he’s almost too perfect.










3. Michael Trucco (Ensign Samuel Anders).  As “The Chris Show” regular viewers Andrew and Robin know, I used to look at Trucco and think, “Eh. He’s OK, but he’s not all that.” Then I began rewatching “Battlestar’s” third season, in which he spends a lot of time grimy and glistening. Yum. Plus, he sports a shitty goatee this season, and I’m always a sucker for a shitty goatee.







aaron-douglas12. Aaron Douglas (Chief Galen Tyrol). I love the big boys. Like Trucco, he’s at his best when he’s scruffy.










tahmoh-penikett1. Tahmoh Penikett (Captain Karl “Helo” Agathon). Not only is Penikett the most exquisitely beautiful member of the cast, he’s also the most smolderingly magnetic. He enters a scene and you feel the electricity. It doesn’t hurt that his character is such a standup fellow. Good guyness is always swoon-worthy.



On the occasion of my thinking this would make a fun list.

10. Gary’s in jail, “Knots Landing,” March 10, 1983. Unlike other prime time soaps of the era, “Knots Landing” rarely ended a season with a splashy action sequence. That was the beauty of the show – its characters were so strong, their stories so compelling, that producers didn’t need to shoehorn them into artificial, life-or-death situations to keep viewers hooked during the annual summer hiatus. Nothing illustrates this better than the fourth season finale, in which ne’er-do-well Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford) is jailed following the murder of his mistress, Ciji Dunne. Joan Van Ark shines in the scene where her character, Valene, confronts ex-husband Gary to persuade him he’s not guilty, but the emotional high point comes in the montage that punctuates this episode: Gary’s wife, Abby (Donna Mills), contemplating the situation from the deck of her glamorous beach house; Val sitting in the darkened living room of her suburban home; and an embittered Gary stewing in his jail cell. It was all we needed to keep us hanging on until the new season began in September.

9. San Francisco Bay plunge, “Falcon Crest,” May 15, 1987. This marked the conclusion of my favorite season of “Falcon Crest,” which featured Kim Novak’s season-long guest stint as mystery lady Kit Marlowe. (The character’s name was an inside joke: When Novak was a Hollywood ingénue in the 1950s, studio bosses wanted her to change her name to “Kit Marlowe.”) I love how this episode uses sepia-toned footage from an old Jane Wyman movie as a flashback to reveal her “Falcon Crest” character, Angela Channing, was actually the birth mother of her stepson/archenemy Richard Channing. (If you’re not a fan of the show, trust me: This was a stunning twist.) This season was produced by the team that went on to produce “24,” and you can see their flair for action in the final scene, which ends with five characters (including a baby!) under the murky waters of San Francisco Bay. The audio in this clip is screwed up, which is too bad, because one of the nice touches of the finale is how the sound of police sirens continue after the freeze frame and producers’ credits appear on screen.

8. Enter: Locutus, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” June 1990. Captain Picard is Borgified! Dr. Crusher’s horrified reaction when she first sees the “altered” Picard is priceless (nicely done, Gates McFadden!), but if you ask me, this scene belongs to Jonathan Frakes, perhaps the most undervalued member of this show’s great acting ensemble. If there’s any anguish Commander Riker’s dramatic order in the final scene (“Mr. Worf, fire.”), it isn’t evident here, an indication of the character’s resolute stoicism and the quiet authority Frakes brought to his role.

7. Showdown at the Belmar Hotel, “Knots Landing,” March 29 1984. Oh how I love this one. After ending the fourth season on a quiet note (see entry No. 10), the producers really amped up the melodrama here. Gary’s torn between rescuing imperiled loves Val and Abby, while good guy Mack finally gets the bad guys, but seemingly at the cost of his wife Karen’s life. (Look for a pre-“Twin Peaks” Grace Zabriskie as Karen’s apparent assassin.) “Knots Landing’s” Wolfbridge Group storyline was insanely convoluted, but who cares? This is still great fun.

bobby-ewing-in-the-shower16. Bobby in the shower, “Dallas,” May 16, 1986. One year after his Bobby Ewing character died, Patrick Duffy pops up in the shower of his ex-wife Pam (Victoria Principal) in the closing moments of “Dallas’” ninth season finale. Was it Bobby? An imposter? A hallucination? In the 10th season premiere, viewers would learn, of course, that it was indeed Bobby, and that Pam had dreamed his death and the 31 episodes that followed. For me, the most frightening moment of this cliffhanger comes immediately before Pam wakes up, when Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is blown up during a visit to Ewing Oil. “Dallas” without my beloved Sue Ellen? Now that’s scary!

5. The assassination attempt, “The West Wing,” May 17, 2000. This frightening action sequence is wildly out of sync with the literate tenor of the series, yet it’s so dramatic, I had to include it. President Bartlet is working the rope line after a town hall meeting in Rosslyn, Va., when two skinheads open fire on the presidential entourage. Viewers see almost all of the show’s main characters crash to the ground. (Just why is the entire senior West Wing staff accompanying the president to a routine town hall meeting?) Who lives? Who dies? An unexpected and suspenseful conclusion end to a solid freshmen season. The best touch: Viewers hear a Secret Service officer’s desperate plea (“Who’s been hit? Who’s been hit?”) after the screen fades to black. Shades of the 1987 “Falcon Crest” finale!

4. The flash forward, “Lost,” May 23, 2007. For three seasons, “Lost’s” trademark was its flashbacks showing the lives of its characters before they became stranded on a David Lynch version of “Gilligan’s Island.” The third-season finale seemed to incorporate flashbacks to the life of lead character Jack Shepherd (Matthew Fox), until the closing moments of the episode, when we learned we had been watching flash forwards to Jack’s life after he escaped the island. In a show known for its twists, nothing was more stunning than this. A good show can get away with manipulating its audience from time to time; it takes a great show like “Lost” to do it consistently and leave the audience begging for more.

3. The flash forward, “Battlestar Galactica,” March 10, 2006. Another stellar season of televison’s consistently best drama ends with a bang: a nuclear explosion wipes out a major civilian vessel in the colonial fleet, handing Gaius Baltar his first crisis as the newly elected weasel in chief. In a moment of despair, Baltar buries his head on his desk as the final scene of the season closes. But wait, there’s more! It turns out the season isn’t over. The show flashes forward a year (!), showing us life on New Caprica, immediately before a Cylon invasion. Frakking brilliant.

2. Who shot J.R.? “Dallas,” March 21, 1980. The granddaddy of all TV cliffhangers, included here not so much for nostalgia, but for its elegant simplicity – it’s a classic, well-constructed whodunit, with almost every major character a suspect. This is the moment that turned “Dallas” into a worldwide phenomenon, but I was already a fanatic by the time this episode aired. (Yes, I was 6 at the time.) There are family photos of me wearing my prized “I Shot J.R.” t-shirt during our trip to the Kings Dominion amusement park during the summer of 1980. (Where did The Moms find a “Dallas” shirt in a child’s size?) Shockingly, there isn’t a good version of this on YouTube. The one linked here is the best I could find.

bobby-ewing-on-his-death-bed1. Bobby dies, “Dallas,” May 17, 1985. My all-time favorite. This wasn’t a cliffhanger so much as the denouement of the show’s central narrative – the Cain-vs.-Able-style conflict between the good Ewing brother (Bobby) and the evil one (J.R.). Even though Bobby’s death didn’t really happen in the “Dallas” continuum (the death was the beginning of “Dallas’” infamous “dream season”), this scene still packs a punch, ranking as perhaps of the greatest deathbed farewell in TV history. (Maybe James Caan’s in “Brian’s Song” was better, but I’ve never seen it.) Steve Kanaly (Ray), Larry Hagman (J.R.) and Patrick Duffy (Bobby) really shine here, but in my mind, this is Victoria Principal’s greatest “Dallas” moment. I still get chills when her character, Pam, flinches at the moment Bobby flatlines. This is everything a season finale should be. Watch it and weep. (Chris Baker trivia: I made an armband out of black construction paper and wore it around the house the day after this episode originally aired.)

On the occasion of today’s holiday.

10. My friends. Most people I know annoy me. Some don’t. I even enjoy spending time with a few. I hope they know who they are.

9. My family. Dad worked hard to provide for us, my sister means more to me than she knows, and my nieces are probably the closest I’ll come to having children of my own. I love them all.

8. The Moms. She gets her own entry because, well, she’s The Moms – the most instinctively loving, kind and open-minded person I know. Aside from the person who tops this list, no one has done more to make me the spectacularly modest person I am today.

7. Judy. While we’re on the subject of moms, here’s a shout out to the moms-in-law, the most courageous person I know. She’s also half responsible for item No. 1 on this list.

6. The helicopter sequence in “Superman.” I’ve watched it hundreds of times, and it still gives me chills.

5. The Internet. It allows me to read newspapers from the other side of the planet, catch up with TV shows I missed, meet new people, and shop without having to venture into suburbia. And let’s not forget about the gay porn! (I’m kidding, of course. … I don’t really read foreign newspapers online.)

4. My job. Sometimes I gripe about it, but I try to never lose sight of its awesomeness. It’s good to work for an organization you believe in and a boss you admire.

3. My fellow Americans. They just elected as president the most capable, inspiring candidate of my lifetime, even though his middle name is Hussein. It’s been four weeks and I still have trouble believing it really happened.

2. My home. The building is shabby, the neighborhood is hopelessly dull, but there’s almost no place I’d rather be.

1. Andrew. The love of my life, my best friend, my hero, the smartest person I know, the person I hope to become when I grow up and the best thing that ever happened to me. There’s no one with whom I’d rather see a movie, take to dinner, spend a lazy Saturday morning at home or stay up late chatting over a bottle of wine. The life we’ve built together is the most precious thing I know. Plus he makes a marvelous apple pie – with a lattice crust, no less!


Welcome to “The Chris Show,” a blog devoted to my favorite subject: Me! Regular features will include “List of the Day,” a collection of my favorite and least favorite things; “One-Minute Movie Review; “Looks at Books;” celebrity interviews; and more. Expect lots of references to “Battlestar Galactica,” prime time soaps of the ’80s, life in the Van Ness neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and more. You’ll never need another blog again!