A Couple of “Steal” Magnolias

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Allison-Janney
Allison Janney as Bonnie (and Anna Faris as Christy)

One of the TVJ’s biggest surprises this season is Allison Janney on Mom. The TVJ always thought of her as a rather sober, serious and focused actress, a la her work, which won her four Emmys, on The West Wing.

But Janney’s Bonnie — the slutty mother who had a daughter when she was too young, and whose daughter, Christy (Anna Faris), also had a daughter when she was too young, and whose granddaughter is now pregnant (is anyone following this?) — is so off-the-spool that we’re in awe.

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Bonnie’s honest attempts to stay sober have you cheering for her, but her fight along the way is so screamingly funny, with such snappy, snarky dialog, that we’ll never look at Janney in the same light.

We were also a Jennifer Coolidge fan long before 2 Broke Girls. Whether it’s Reese Witherspoon’s manicurist in Legally Blonde, Joey Tribbiani’s insane agent in the short-lived Joey, or nutso characters in Christopher Guest’s Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, Coolidge never fails to walk away with the show.

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Jennifer Coolidge as Sophie (and Kat Dennings as Max)
Jennifer Coolidge as Sophie
(and Kat Dennings as Max)

Less may be more, sure, but Coolidge really knows how to make each scene her own, and none of her co-stars seem to mind. Her hot-to-trot Polish sub-lebrity, Sophie Kachinsky, is loud, over-the-top and stylishly gaudy, but in the hands of Coolidge, who obviously plays well with others, she is the perfect breath of fresh air that the two broke girls, Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs), need. Towering over both of them, all she has to do is just stand there with her bejeweled iPhone and the moment is hers.

Although the TVJ adores Melissa McCarthy, Rondi Reed, as Mike’s mother Peggy on Mike & Molly, also steals every scene she’s in. A member of Chicago’s highly acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Reed is at home in the Chicago-based show, complete with Midwest accent. Peggy could have easily become a one-dimensional character, but in the hands of the Tony Award-winning Reed (August: Osage County), we actually care about her. Yeah, she’s a bitch to Molly. OK, she’s a bitch to everyone, but underneath that mean-spirited, nasty exterior beats the heart of a single mother who did the best she could after Mike’s dad walked out on them. Last week’s episode where it looked like Peggy and Molly would finally duke it out left the TVJ wanting more left hooks and less family dinners.

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Kathleen Gati as the evil Dr. Liesl Obrecht
Kathleen Gati as the evil Dr. Liesl Obrecht

Robin Mattson is still in the mix as General Hospital‘s loopy Heather Webber, but it’s Kathleen Gati as the equally cray-cray Dr. Liesl Obrecht who has the TVJ’s dirndls in a whirl. Gati has taken this crisp Fraulein Doktor to a new level of evil. Let’s see: she had a child with an insane killer, kidnapped a beloved GH character, drugged and tried to kill two — make that four — other Port Charles residents, had her daughter inseminated with sperm stolen from a couple trying to conceive a child and kidnaps her own daughter’s son. Plus, she sings a mean karaoke version of “Is That All There Is?”

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A huge, award-winning film star in her parents’ native Hungary, the Canadian-born Gati has actually made Obrecht sympathetic, as well as pathetic, in her unrequited love for Faison, played by the equally brilliant Anders Hove. Believe the TVJ, this is one mutter you don’t want to trifle with!

OH…NO!!!
It has happened. Without warning, the TVJ has learned to love — here it comes folks, hold onto your sheitels — The Goldbergs. There is no explanation for this, other than the TVJ was so Semitically starved that she took any Jewish family that came along and, since the demise of The Nanny, it’s either The Goldbergs or the goyim.

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Did the TVJ grow up in a house with screaming, yelling and fighting? As a matter of full disclosure, between her and her mother yelling at each other all the time and her poor father unable to get word in edge-wise, it is possible. But, as Barry Goldberg said on this week’s episode, “We yell because we’re a family and that’s what families do.”

This Week on the Tube: More on the JFK assassination that anyone ever wanted to know, as the 50th anniversary approaches. Yes, the TVJ remembers where she was: 10th grade biology class. Do the math!

The Returned
Jenna Thiam and Yara Pilartz
as twins Lena and Camille

Best TV Moment of the Week: The TVJ has discovered a new show on the Sundance Channel, The Returned (Les Revenants). Originally aired in France, this subtitled cross between sci-fi and gut-wrenching drama deals with the return of a handful of dead people to a small town in the mountains of France. These are not zombies (which, personally, really creep the TVJ out!) nor are they living beings.

After only two episodes, the TVJ has no clue, but what they are is a fascinating concept — twins who are now four years apart, a couple separated on their wedding day 11 years ago, a serial killer returned to unleash more horrific violence — and none of them know that they died, where they have been or that life has gone on without them. Now, A&E has announced an American version of Les Revenants. The TVJ thinks she’ll stick with the original one.

Saddest TV Moment of the Week: Elizabeth Berkley being booted off Dancing with the Stars, despite a perfect 30 score! What is up with the voting this season? How is Bill “I know I’m improving but I still suck” Engvall still there? Who is making the decisions, Helen Keller?

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And don’t even get me started: And there we go again, the second demise of All My Children and One Life to Live. Nice going. Between ABC and Prospect Park tying things up with so much legal crap, neither show had a chance of survival.

This Just In: NBC is planning a reboot of the classic Murder, She Wrote starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer. No need for the TVJ to chime in when the real Jessica Fletcher, Angela Lansbury, said it so well (to the Associated Press):

I think it’s a mistake to call it Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury said, because Murder, She Wrote will always be about a Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person…

So I’m sorry that they have to use the title Murder, She Wrote, even though they have access to it and it’s their right.

The story notes that Lansbury still admires Spencer’s work:

I saw her in The Help and thought she was absolutely wonderful, a lovely actress… So I wish her well, but I wish it wasn’t in Murder, She Wrote.

‘nuf said!

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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.