Meta Time: Episodes of “Episodes” and Human Aliens

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Episodes, the funniest show you’re not watching, stars Emmy-winner Matt LeBlanc as, well, Matt LeBlanc. In this show-within-a-show, the former Friends star finally gets a show of his own called Pucks, about a hockey coach. It’s a spinoff of a veddy British show of the same name that starred the late Richard Griffiths; it proved hugely popular in the UK, but Griffiths was not exactly a doppelganger for LeBlanc. Joining the fun are the show’s married writing team (the delightful Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan, playing Sean and Beverly Lincoln) who created the original Brit-com and are now expected to tailor the show for LeBlanc and who, on the show, are horrified at what their show has become. LeBlanc is outrageously funny as a spoof of himself — talent-free, egomaniacal, sex-crazed and Friend-less. Throw in ex-network boss Merc Lapidus (John Pankow), current boss Castor Sotto (Chris Diamantopoulos, who plays OCD to perfection!) and the ever-stressed programming head Carol Rance (Kathleen Rose Perkins is brilliant!) and you get a pretty good idea of just how crazy crazy meta-TV really is.

Simon Templeman and  Toks Olagundoy are out of this world!
Templeman + Olagundoy = otherworldly

Also flying under the radar — after flying in from another planet — is The Neighbors. This show could have been the worst concept ever: aliens come to Earth, settle in a gated community in New Jersey, take the names of famous athletes (Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Larry Bird, et. al.) and all wear matching polyester outfits.

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Somehow, though, it all works. The Bird/Joyner-Kersees (Simon Templeman and the stunning Toks Olagundoye) befriend their new human neighbors (aliens will apparently sell to anyone) Marty and Debbie Weaver, played to Jerseylicious perfection by Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito. This little gem of a show can be so warm and touching while still making us laugh as the alien family learns about our customs and holidays and what it means to be human.

In my next TV Junkie, there will be a special section about the TV I grew up with in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and some great interviews with the stars of that time and what they’re doing now. These are the shows you’re watching on TV Land, that are part of TV history. I’ll take you from Leave It to Beaver, Family Affair and The Donna Reed Show to Star Trek, Get Smart and Lost in Space. If there are any shows or actors you really want to hear about, leave a comment below or visit the The TV Junkie Facebook page and let me know.

Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl - hike!
Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl: hike!

This Week on the Tube…
For those of you who do not care about the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks – and those of you who don’t even know what I’m talking about — there are two alternatives to Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII. Yes, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl is still on, but adding to this diabetes-inducing free-for-all is Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl. Me, I’m glad I fled NYC for the wilds of Connecticut. Go Broncos!

Best TV Moment of the Week…
Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at the Grammys. On Sun., Feb. 9, from 8 to 10pm — in other words, exactly 50 years to the day, date and time of their groundbreaking first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show — CBS will present The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles. I was watching at my friend Phyllis Weiner’s house and we screamed throughout the broadcast. Hey, I was 15, gimme a break!

Dominic Cooper as Ian Fleming
Cooper. Dominic Cooper. Bond. James Bond.

For the Literati…
Following the BBC America hit parade – and don’t tell me that you’re not watching Downton Abbey like I am, because I know you are – comes Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, about the life of Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. This mini-series, starring Dominic Cooper as the dashing writer, sheds light on Fleming’s real life and how it influenced his creation of 007. Don’t miss this one!

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The TV Junkie was preceded in her family by a large mahogany cabinet that housed a small screen with a large speaker below. Thus began her love affair with the older sibling in the living room. Theirs was a tenuous relationship, prone to mishaps (forgetting to use the special "screen" for Winky Dink), joyous events (Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall), sad moments (Clarabelle saying goodbye to the Peanut Gallery) and a wide range of emotions (the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the Inauguration of Barack Obama). From Captain Video to Star Trek to Lost; from A Brighter Day to The Edge of Night to One Life to Live; from Peyton Place to Dynasty to Desperate Housewives; there has never been a greater love, than that of the TVJ and the best friend a girl could ever have. Like "The TV Junkie" on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @thetvjunkiepml.