Thursday, January 27, 2011

10 FAVORITES (21) - The Simpsons Best Episodes PART II

Now we are in Part II of our 10 FAVORITES tribute to the greatest of The Simpsons episodes. I hope you enjoyed reading Part I of our Top 20 countdown, #'s 20-11, AND I hope that some of your favorites were listed there (and that many more of your favorites are listed below!). One more note about this list before I get into the Top 10. Some people have asked me if there are any of the Treehouse of Horror episodes listed in Part I since there were none in Part II. And to answer that: No they are not. And here is why: Now that The Simpsons have been on for over 20 years and they have been airing their annual Halloween episode since Season 2, there are enough of these episodes that they can exist as a whole 10 FAVORITES list unto itself. Also, because they technically fall under the TV trope of a "Holiday special" episode, the characters and their continuity (what little there is!) doesn't apply to those episodes. So, look forward to possibly another Simpsons-themed list when Halloween rolls around! With that said, on with our Top 10!

The photos used below are the copyright of the FOX Broadcasting Company and are reproduced on this blog for informational and identification purposes only.


Season 4, Original Airdate: May 13, 1993
A new Kids' TV star, Gabbo (a Charlie McCarthy-like puppet), becomes a sensation forcing Krusty the Klown out at the network. To help his career, Bart and Lisa endeavor to get the likes of Bette Midler, Luke Perry and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (but NOT Elizabeth Taylor!) to perform with him in a magnificent television special. This was a landmark episode, especially in FOX's advertising and handling of the series. It was a loving parody of the seminal 1992 episode of The Tonight Show in which Johnny Carson bid a fond farewell to his audience. Carson himself made a brilliant cameo appearance as one of the celebrities willing to help his old pal Krusty.

Season 5, Original Airdate: October 7, 1993
Sideshow Bob (voiced by Kelsey Grammer), the former sidekick of Krusty who was jailed for framing Krusty in a crime, is being released and has vowed vengeance on Bart Simpson, the boy who helped put him away. Therefore, the Simpson family must be entered into the FBI's Witness Protection Program to keep them safe from Bob's murderous clutches. There are so many good things about this episode: the fact it is a parody of Cape Fear (both versions), the whole Witness Protection thing (watch the FBI with Homer, classic!) and Sideshow Bob's rendition of the full score of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore (he even plays Buttercup!).

Season 7, Original Airdate: January 14, 1996
Evergreen Terrace is a-buzz as the home across the street is sold to a very famous couple: Former President and First Lady, George and Barbara Bush. Bush Sr. hits it off with everyone in the neighborhood except for two people: Homer and Bart Simpson (of course!). And a not-so-neighborly feud ensues. Homer and Bart are truly kindred spirits in addition to being father and son. The fact that these two people can annoy anyone is not that far-fetched and the fact that the person they annoy is Former President George H. W. Bush (who in The Simpsons world is just like Ned Flanders!) is an added bonus.

Season 1, Original Airdate: February 4, 1990
Bart is growing tired of being terrorized by the school bully, Nelson Muntz. With the help of Grandpa (and a surly gun shop owner) he begins to gather others to stand up to the brutish boy. This is the earliest episode to appear on this list (it was the 5th episode aired) and it was really where the fledgling show had really come into its own. Each character serves their purpose within this brilliantly written parody of the 1970 classic film Patton.

Season 8, Original Airdate: December 29, 1996
A hurricane approaches Springfield and, despite all the idiotic antics of the townspeople, everyone survives and nothing is destroyed, except for Ned Flanders' house. When the town gets together to rebuild his house, their shoddy work sends him over the edge and he throws an uber-tantrum/tirade. His anger disturbs him to the point where he checks himself in to a mental health clinic (apparently for the second time!). The idea that Ned Flanders is slightly insane has always tickled me. In this episode, we learn about Ned's childhood and we get to hear (through Ned's tirade aimed at the town) what people were thinking about the oafish behavior of many of the characters. Plus, this episode features Homer at his moronic best!

Season 6, Original Airdate: November 27, 1994
After a full (and adventurous) day at the Candy Convention, Homer takes the kids' babysitter home. But a misunderstanding (due to Homer's gluttonous behavior) leads to the babysitter accusing Homer of sexual harassment and a media firestorm is enacted. In the early 1990's, sexual harassment was one of the major phrases seen almost everywhere in the news media (e.g. The Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill scandal, the William Kennedy Smith trial, etc.) and therefore it trickled into television. This episode played with that type of media coverage and lampooned it Simpsons-style (maybe a little too well!). But the most memorable part of this episode is when Homer (at the Candy Convention) steals the rare Gummi Venus de Milo and (in the style of an action movie) gets away from his pursuers. If you can find the clip online (possibly!), watch it because it IS a classic!

Season 7, Original Airdate: October 8, 1995
The plot is in the title: Bart sells his soul to Millhouse because he does not believe souls exist. He regrets his action as he begins to feel isolated and freakish by just the idea of not having a soul. The story of this episode seems very simple and the subject matter seems a little too serious for the writers to handle, but it is one of the best written episodes in the show's history (especially some of Lisa's speeches which are witty and philosophical). The best moment in the episode comes at the beginning where Bart plays a prank on the entire Church and makes them sing the Iron Maiden rock anthem "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," one of the longest songs (17 minutes in length!) in music history.

Season 4, Original Airdate: January 14, 1993
The town of Springfield is enthralled when a salesman comes to town and convinces them to spend newly earned money on a Monorail system. The one person against the idea, Marge, is suspicious of the salesman's antics and the system's bad business practices (Homer gets a job as the Monorail driver, 'nuff said!). Springfield may win the prize as one of the dumbest towns in pop culture history (Homer brings the town average down already!). It was inevitable that a sheister-salesman would take the town by storm and force them to forget about real problems. The salesman is so darn charming (voiced by the late Phil Hartman) and his Monorail song is so catchy (pure parody of the Broadway hit The Music Man!), it was just fate. This episode also features a great voice cameo by Star Trek alum Leonard Nimoy (but it's not the only time he made a guest appearance!).

Seasons 6 & 7, Original Airdates: Part I - May 21, 1995 & Part II - September 17, 1995
Mr. Burns has made an enemy of EVERYONE in the town from Springfield Elementary to the Retirement Home to Moe's Bar to his trusted assistant, Waylon Smithers (whom he fires!). At the end of Part I of this seasonal cliffhanger, Mr. Burns his shot by an unseen assailant in the dark...hence the title. I think I have made it very clear that The Simpsons are great at parody and this whole cliffhanger (Season Finale & Season Premiere) is a grandiose parody of the most watched television show in MY childhood, Dallas and their notorious "Who Shot J.R.?" episode. I won't spoil the ending for those who have not seen it but suffice it to say the writers magnificently used every TV trope you will EVER find in a Primetime Soap Opera (tropes that are STILL used today, I might add!).

Season 8, Original Airdate: January 12, 1997
A drunken Homer is stumbling home one night and happens upon what he believes is an alien lifeform. As his story gets around, two FBI agents (Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny voice their characters from the FOX hit The X-Files) come to Springfield to verify the man's tale. As I said above, parody is The Simpsons strong suit. FOX was thrilled to have their two most popular shows cross paths and Groening's writers DID NOT disappoint in their delivery. From Anderson and Duchovny poking fun at their TV personas to Homer's behavior with them to the hilarious twist ending to Leonard Nimoy's brilliant cameo, everything in this episode is perfect. It is well-deserving of the #1 spot in my countdown!

It is interesting that a lot of my favorite episodes of the show come from Seasons 6 through 9 which aired from the Fall of 1994 to the Summer of 1998. Those years just also happen to be the years when I was in high school, which at that time seemed to be Groening and Company's target demographic. Despite that fact, these (Parts I & II) are THE TWENTY BEST EPISODES OF THE SIMPSONS. Next week, I begin AWARDS MONTH (in honor of the Academy Awards which announced nominations earlier this week) with a tribute to a surprise subject!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

10 FAVORITES (20) - The Simpsons Best Episodes PART I

The Simpsons is one of the most influential Television shows of the last 25 years (if not of all-time). The show debuted on the (at the time) fledgling network known as FOX back in December of 1989. It was a spin-off based on the animated shorts creator Matt Groening produced in between sketches on the short-lived and underrated The Tracey Ullman Show, which was also on FOX. It has now been over 20 years and the show is the pre-eminent Primetime Animated series. It influenced everything from King of the Hill to South Park to Family Guy and many many more. It certainly is one of my favorite shows of all-time having grown up with the entire series (whose characters DO NOT age!!!). So, this week AND next week's 10 FAVORITES, in honor of over 20 years of The Simpsons (AND this being my 20th 10 FAVORITES!), I am listing my 20 FAVORITE episodes of all-time. This week, I am doing Part I: Numbers 20-11.

One special note about this (and next week's) post: Due to FOX's strict copyright rules regarding their TV shows, it was too difficult to get a hold of video clips of my favorite episodes. Therefore, I decided to use pictures from my favorite episodes. And to not anger the FOX legal gods further: All photos are the property of the FOX Broadcasting Company and are reproduced for informational purposes only.

With that said, here are:


Season 9, Original Airdate: September 28, 1997
Principal Skinner is being celebrated by the Springfield Elementary school for his years of service until the party is interrupted by a man who is the REAL Seymour Skinner (voiced by Martin Sheen). It turns out that the real Skinner was the fake Skinner's commander in Vietnam and was thought to be M.I.A., so fake Skinner took his identity to spare Mrs. Skinner the pain of a dead son. It is a convoluted story and it makes no sense but it is absolutely hilarious especially when the rest of Springfield (including Mrs. Skinner!) are not pleased with the REAL Principal Skinner and want THEIR Principal Skinner back (he had left to live in Capital City under is real identity, Armin Tamzarian). The episode also features my late mother's favorite line from the entire series. When Superintendent Chalmers is sneaking around Springfield Elementary to plan the surprise party for Skinner (that's the FAKE Skinner people), he says: "Man, the rod up that man's butt must have a rod up its butt!"

Season 4, Original Airdate: February 11, 1993
It is Valentine's Day and the Second grade is enjoying passing out Valentines to everyone, that is until Lisa notices that poor Ralph Wiggum is not receiving ANY Valentines. To be nice, Lisa gives one of her spare ones to Ralph and, of course, Ralph being Ralph believes it means more than it does. It is a very sweet episode where Ralph develops his little crush on Lisa (not Fatal Attraction-type crush, just cute little impish crush). The best part of the episode is the school's President's Day pageant where Ralph gives a dynamic performance as George Washington to Lisa's Martha.

Season 8, Original Airdate: May 4, 1997
After seeing a TV report on him and his self-reliant strength, Mr. Burns hires "self-made hero" Frank Grimes at the Nuclear Power Plant. Immediately, the humorless Grimes' strong work ethic clashes with Homer's, well, let's just say idiocy and Grimes declares Homer his enemy. The hilarity just builds and builds as the more Homer tries to impress and befriend him, the more Grimes can't stand him and (especially) the way everyone just tolerates Homer's buffoonery. I always saw the character of Grimes as a representation of the critics who complained about Homer and his idiotic behavior being too much for audiences to believe. HELLO, it's a cartoon AND the character is surrounded by nut-jobs who can be just as stupid as the writers want!

Season 8, Original Airdate: April 6, 1997
At nerdy Martin's birthday party (to which he invited his teacher and his principal!), both Skinner and Krabappel secretly begin a romance. When Bart discovers this and they begin to use him to hide their romantic meetings, he reveals to the entire school the torrid affair. Both Skinner and Krabappel have some of their best lines in this episode and the reveal of their romance is quite funny. The episode also has one of my favorite lines but it is really too hard to describe without a video clip. Let's just say: Watch the episode and wait for the part where Helen Lovejoy confronts Skinner and Krabappel about their affair. It is priceless!

Season 5, Original Airdate: February 10, 1994
Homer is asked by a Hard Copy-like TV program to help reveal the tainted food practices at the local Kwik-E-Mart. When all is revealed, Apu is fired and forced to live with the Simpson family (in true sitcom fashion!) until he gets back on his feet. The episode features Homer at his idiotic best, a great cameo by James Woods (who applies as Apu's Kwik-E-Mart replacement) and a catchy musical number Apu sings with the Simpsons ("Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?"). It also features a Lawrence of Arabia-style quest for Homer and Apu (hence the title) to India to visit a famed guru who will help Apu get his life back on track. Of course, with Homer in tow, things don't quite work out that way.

Season 9, Original Airdate: September 21, 1997
Local drunk Barney is unfortunately (for him) chosen to be the designated driver at Moe's one night and, in anger, steals Homer's car and goes on a bender. Homer receives a fine from the City of New York stating that his car is illegally parked in Downtown Manhattan. Homer HATES New York City but the rest of the family is enthralled to go to the Big Apple. This episode has some of the best parodies (the Broadway show Marge and Lisa attend is Kickin' It: A Musical Romp Through the Betty Ford Clinic!) and Homer being constantly frustrated by the everyday life of New Yorkers (the Klau Kalash vendor!). This episode aired in September 1997, almost exactly four years before the horrors of 9/11 and it features (heavily) the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Since 9/11, this episode has been RARELY shown in reruns for obvious reasons.

Season 7, Original Airdate: January 7, 1996
Homer, Moe, Apu and Otto begin their own bowling team, but to get their winning team into a tournament, they need money so they con the money out of Mr. Burns. Burns, instead of crushing them, decides to join their bowling team: The Pin Pals. But there is one problem, Old Man Burns can't bowl. Burns is always funny when he tries to be a part of Homer's life, tries to be his buddy. And Homer, instead of being the complete moron he usually is, seems more like a typical sitcom father who is beleaguered by a frustrating boss (who apparently has leprosy and whose fingers are so flimsy they flap like paper when over an air conditioner!).

Season 6, Original Airdate: February 19, 1995
Bart places a crank call to a little boy in Australia and, it being a cartoon's version of Australia, this sends the ENTIRE country into an uproar. To smooth U.S. relations with the country Down Under, Bart (and the entire Simpson family) are sent to Australia so Bart can apologize for his wrongdoing. This episode is an irreverent and hilarious parody of Australian stereotypes (Knifey, Spoony!; A Prime Minister who lounges naked in a lake; etc.). Also, the Simpsons seem to work best when they travel. They've been to Australia, New York, D.C., London, Brazil, Peru, Japan, Canada, India, China, Amsterdam, France, Italy, Ireland (just to name a few!).

Season 9, Original Airdate: November 16, 1997
Apu, who is enjoying his full single life, is horrified when his mother arrives to force him to marry the girl he was promised to back in India, Manjula. To help him fend his mother off, Homer convinces him to pretend Marge is Apu's wife and hilarity ensues! It's a great episode because it uses a lot of the typical sitcom standards when there's a misunderstanding or a disapproving parent/in-law or a character has to lie about his or her life to someone (see Three's Company for all these tropes). It also established the character of Manjula, who, in end of the episode, becomes Apu's wife and they are now the parents of octuplet toddlers (they had them long before that Nadya Suleman did, but that's another episode!).

Season 8, Original Airdate: November 24, 1996
Bart accidentally destroys some property and Marge makes him work for the lady owner to make up for it. It turns out the lady uses her large Victorian manor as a House of Burlesque and Marge (along with Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy) are none too pleased when they find out. Among this episodes best parts are the ways we discover the men of Springfield enjoying the house's many pleasures (several hilarious character bits) and an impromptu moment that became one the best musical numbers the series had to offer. When Marge and company want to destroy the house, Homer, Bart and the Madame (named Belle) lead a song titled "The Spring in Springfield" and it becomes a splashy, brassy Vaudeville-style musical sequence (this is where I wish I could have found a clip of the song on YouTube!).

Next week...PART II.

Friday, January 14, 2011

10 FAVORITES (19) - Historical Artistic Figures

Hello everybody! One of the problems one encounters in doing a weekly blog item is that things get away from you very quickly. With the new year (and some recent shocking events in the news), I have not been persistent in gathering my lists for the next few posts. I am getting back on track now, but, I am short on list ideas for my weekly 10 FAVORITES.

This week, I decided to dedicate it to the people that inspire the world I love: The Arts. I know that "The Arts" is a very general term and can cover anything from paintings to literature to performance to entertainment. I love it all! And there are many people over the thousands of years who have mastered in their fields. This week, I have listed the people who mastered the craft the best (and most influential). One rule I stuck to in picking these 10 people is that they must be, to be blunt, dead. I wanted people whose contribution to The Arts is still significant even though they are no longer contributing. That way, if anyone disagrees (which I'm sure someone will!), they can go ahead and dispute the choice and not be insulting because: What does it matter? The choice their putting down is dead! Therefore, this week's 10 FAVORITES are:

(listed in alphabetical order)

"Historical Artistic Figure"
A real-life man or woman from the past whose profession was in the artistic endeavors (i.e. painter, actor, musician, writer, etc.).

"The Mastermind"
Da Vinci was a true "Renaissance Man" in the actual Renaissance. He was a fount of activities and professions (painter, sculptor, inventor, author, teacher, philosopher and many many more). His massive contribution to the world is forever felt (ask author Dan Brown!). Just take a look at his paintings including the gorgeous Last Supper and the iconic Mona Lisa.

"The Storyteller"
The world that Dickens created was the Victorian society he lived in and the way he saw it. Was it the beautiful romantic utopia that Jane Austen and others explored in their novels? No. Was it an ugly world that suffered under the pressures of the Industrial Revolution? Not always. Dickens was not afraid to show the dark side along with the romantic beauty in this world. And everything he created (from Oliver Twist to A Tale of Two Cities to Great Expectations and beyond) took his readers deeper into that picture he knew and we understood things a little bit better.

"The Tour-de-Force"
There was honestly no one like her. She was a true original who, throughout her entire career, played a wide range of characters. But every character she played was filled with that fire or "moxie" that proved she was equal (if not superior) to her male counterparts. Some of her best performances are considered ultimate film classics (see The Philadelphia Story or The Lion In Winter or The African Queen). Below, actors ranging from Whoopi Goldberg to Kevin Spacey to Jim Carrey to Mia Farrow (and more!) speak about the brilliance her screen performances brought to the world.

"The Balladeer"
No other music artist's death (except for maybe Elvis') has had this much impact. On December 8th 1980, John Lennon, the former Beatle, was assassinated outside his Central Park West apartment by a crazed "fan." In his death, Lennon's musical contributions (both in his solo career and his work with The Beatles) became much more prevalent and poignant than they already were. Fans of his grieved for months (even years!) after his passing because they wanted to see the world the way in which he did. Just "Imagine."

"The Prodigy"
Yet another musician who died at a young age (35), but not without a wealth of gorgeous and intricate classical music pieces that have taken the world by storm. His musical mind has never ever been in question (despite his infamous and scandalous behavior). He began playing music and composing since a very early age (around 3), a true Prodigy.

"The Interpreter"
With his dashing looks and his eloquent speaking voice, Laurence Olivier was considered the greatest interpreter of Shakespeare. His masterful renditions of classic soliloquies and speeches (like Hamlet's "To Be or Not To Be" or Henry V's "St. Crispin's Day" or Richard III's "Winter of Discontent") are standards in the teaching of performing Shakespeare. Olivier's great work expanded beyond Shakespeare ranging from period pieces (Wuthering Heights) to dark mysteries (Rebecca) to semi-satirical (The Entertainer) to villainous (Marathon Man). He even played a GOD (Zeus in the original Clash of the Titans).

"The Voice"
The rotund and lovable Italian opera tenor had what I consider one of the greatest voices in history. When he sang, it was as close to heaven as one could get. His Il Pagliacci still gives me chills to this very day. Watch him below, in The Three Tenors Concert from the late 1980's, singing the classic "Nessun Dorma."

"The Rebel"
My appreciation for Picasso has grown over time and I now respect the passion and beauty that the Spanish artist created in his work. Picasso defied artistic conventions and started a whole movement within the art world. His work is soulful, eye-catching and extremely passionate. And, ironically, his work has become part of the artistic conventions that he had rebelled against in making his paintings.

"The Chameleon"
Probably the most controversial figure to be placed on a list like this (due to his history in American politics and the HUAC controversy), but his contributions as a choreographer (of both Broadway musicals and classic Ballets) cannot be denied. His character-defining work revolutionized the way we think about dance. Just take a look at his ballet work (like Afternoon of the Faun or The Cage) or, more importantly, his galvanizing Broadway work (West Side Story, Fiddler On the Roof, Gypsy, On the Town and more!). Below, from a PBS documentary about the choreographer, Robbins discusses the creation of his first major ballet, Fancy Free (which inspired the creation of On the Town).

"The Genius"
It must be fate that (by alphabetical order) we end the list with who I consider to be the single most important artistic figure in history. The likes of Hepburn, Olivier and even Robbins owe their careers to the pure genius of this man. His work, while daunting to the average student, includes some of the most intricate plots, most enchanting and poignant characters, and the most beautiful language ever placed on the dramatic stage. The list of his 38 plays and his 154 sonnets are nothing short of amazing (and I am NOT going to debate for one second whether he wrote them all or not, let's just say he did!).

All 10 of these people inspired within their craft and innovated the world with their creations. They are, to me, THE MOST IMPORTANT HISTORICAL ARTISTIC FIGURES of all-time. I hope you enjoyed this week's 10 FAVORITES. I'm not sure what I have on tap for next week. I'll have to sift through my lists and see. If you have any suggestions for future 10 FAVORITES, don't hesitate to send me an idea.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 FAVORITES (18) - 2010: A Year In Review

Happy 2011 everyone! The end of the year and the beginning of the new year is always an exciting time for us media critics because we get to look at the year that was. 2010 was a very interesting year in the world of Entertainment and Pop Culture. We saw an independent film triumph over a box office juggernaut at the Academy Awards, Critically acclaimed TV shows came to the forefront for audiences on both the awards front and in the ratings numbers, and even Broadway was emboldened by the star power of the likes of Oscar winners Catherine Zeta-Jones and Denzel Washington. That's not to mention the shifts that were going on around the country politically speaking. But what were the most memorable moments of the past year. In honor of this first full week of the new year, I want to take us all back through last year just for a little bit (which, I know was something many journalists covered last week, but I prefer to wait until the previous year has come to a complete close!). This week's 10 FAVORITES (in semi-chronological order) is:


Though this moment really started in 2009, with NBC's frustration over low ratings for their beloved late night staple (which was caused by many factors, least of all the new host) the network maneuvered (sloppily) for Jay Leno to return and bought out (at a hefty sum) the rest of Conan O'Brien's contract. While the battle lines were drawn at the end of 2009, the spoils and scars were clearly visible in January 2010. As "Coco" licked his wounds, Leno returned and NBC's late night ratings picked up to what they once were. But don't feel too bad for O'Brien, as his new TBS late night show is wowing his fans and the critics.

The most devastating moment happened at the beginning of the year as the Caribbean nation of Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake that destroyed most of the country and caused thousands of casualties and deaths. As the world was reeling, the Hollywood community (led by A-lister George Clooney and Haitian native musician Wyclef Jean) came together to ask the public to step up and give assistance. The Celebrity-filled Telethon (like the 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina predecessors) was broadcast on almost all the networks in Primetime (and in EVERY Time Zone). It showed the world that the Entertainment community can really be who we want them to be when it really matters.

The actress had a great 2009 with two box-office hits (The Proposal and The Blind Side) and went into 2010 with awards buzz for the latter. As she gracefully accepted every award handed to her, from the Golden Globe to the SAG Award to even the Oscar (yes people, Sandra Bullock IS an Oscar winner!), she tearfully thanked her husband, reality star Jesse James, for all his love and support. Little did we know what those tears were really about as reports surfaced (from multiple women) that James had been unfaithful to his A-list wife (It was Tiger Woods all over again!). But Bullock braved the storm with great poise, divorced James and adopted her son, showing us that she is a true class act!

Though Lady Gaga is really a person (I think!) and not so much a moment, her presence on this list is really because of all her little moments over the course of 2010. There was her AMA and Grammy performances (which of course shocked anyone who did not know who or what she was), her notorious behavior at a Yankees game, the tribute given to her by the beloved show Glee and who could forget the Meat dress! Throughout all this, she had a sincere dedication to her craft (whatever she douses it in!) and to her fans (the Little Monsters), who helped make her the most followed celebrity on Twitter.

The final season of J. J. Abrams' enigmatic hit drama LOST was one of the most anticipated seasons of a television series in recent years. The finale, which aired in May, answered questions (and created many more!) and felt like a fitting end to a series that had earned its place in TV history. As LOST said goodbye, so did several other shows (that were once hits) in the Spring of 2010, some which had a proper farewell (24 and Ugly Betty) and some which didn't (Law & Order and Heroes). In the fall season, newer shows took their places in the schedule but, alas, a lot of them did not catch on with audiences. And it didn't matter whether they were critically acclaimed (Lone Star and The Whole Truth) or critically savaged (Undercovers and My Generation).

The NBA off-season (summertime) was almost completely devoted to answering one question: Would Lebron stay or would he go? Lebron James, the superstar player of the Cleveland Cavaliers, became a free agent as his contract with Cleveland came to a close in June and several teams wanted (and pleaded for) him! The Akron native dragged out his decision until the eleventh hour and announced (in a grand "hoop"-la) that he would indeed leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat (and a perceived better chance to win championships). His actions drew a line in the sand (certainly for Cleveland) and changed the way we look at free agents in the sports world.

It is one of the most popular shows on television and fans of it cannot get enough. So, of course, the popular men's magazine GQ wanted to get an interview with some of Glee's dynamic cast members. GQ (being GQ) had its subjects in a photo shoot that was a little bit more adult than the parents of many a Glee fan would have wanted. As the firestorm lit up talk TV and the blogosphere, stars Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith were taken aback by the controversy and each issued separate "Mea Culpas," hoping not to have offended anyone within the Gleek kingdom.

The political rhetoric of 2010 seemed to be sliding to the vicious side (for whatever reason!) and Jon Stewart, the dynamic and hilarious host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, had had enough. He decided that with his star power (and finances), that he could organize a massive Washington, D.C. rally to help tone down the venomous rhetoric in the air. His rally was mostly in jest but partly serious (especially when Oprah got involved!). His Comedy Central cohort, Stephen Colbert, decided to join in, but not to "Restore Sanity." His insistence was to "Keep Fear Alive" (also pretty much, in jest). Both rallies joined together on October 30 and were extremely successful, at least in the media's eyes, but we shall see if Stewart's message really hit home.

ABC's juggernaut reality series was stepping up its game in the Fall of 2010 as far as "star power." Not only did they retain Carol Brady, Dirty Dancing's Baby and the "Hoff" himself, but they got Bristol Palin, 2008 Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's infamous daughter. Bristol, who is no stranger to controversy (see Levi Johnson), started a whole new controversy by her season on the dance competition show. While she was not the worst celebrity ever to dance on the program (see Kate Gosselin), she certainly was not the best, despite improving from week to week. The thing that polarized a lot of DWTS' fans was that she was allowed to improve from week to week, whereas other (not as notable) celebrities would have been eliminated sooner. It was discovered that a strong (possibly conservative) base of fans were constantly voting to keep Bristol in, succeeding all the way to the finale (where she lost the Mirrorball trophy to Jennifer Grey). But though she lost, her presence on the show became something to talk about.

He is the Man who will be King and she is his longtime girlfriend. Their love story does feel a little like déjà vu as Prince William (eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana) finally popped the question to Kate Middleton. Their engagement was immediately the subject of scrutinizing Internet searches and their images were immediately branded upon wedding memorabilia as the two set the date (April 2011). Going into 2011, this happy news will become one of the most watched weddings in history rivaling another famous Royal Wedding. Seriously, has anyone heard of déjà vu?!?!

So, there you have it: THE 10 POP CULTURE MOMENTS FROM 2010. We shall see if 2011 makes a splash in the way 2010 did. We know there is a Royal Wedding coming. Oprah Winfrey will he ending her seminal talk show (she's already unveiled her new cable network!). And the Harry Potter franchise will come to a close as the eighth and final film is released this summer. That's what we know about! Who knows what the new year will bring?