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Your favorite 2009 holiday TV episode?

For me, it was a toss-up between The Office and Modern Family this year. The Dundler-Mifflin Christmas party was sort of like Halloween in that the outfits were so festive they could have counted as costumes. Stanley the mailman’s Christmas sweater was the best, though the Dunphys’ knit-based monstrosities on Modern Family, issued on high via webcam from half of Fred Willard’s face, were a bit louder. Don’t miss this holiday greetings e-card from 20th Century Fox, featuring two executives posing as a Modern Family married couple along with confessionals from the real MF cast.

There were follies aplenty at Parks and Recreation‘s Pawnee’s Winter Wonderland. Community attempted to engage in non-denominational holiday spirit with Dean Pelton’s Mr. Winter (“It ’tis the season!”) even though Shirley insisted everyone wear What Would Baby Jesus Do bracelets and attend her Christmas party. She’d get along well with former santa Michael Scott, who tried his hand at “healing leopards” as Jesus Christ. The Christmassy parts of 30 Rock mostly revolved around gift-giving…speaking of which, a very special holiday episode of Bones gave us the gift of shirtless Booth, not to mention Emily Deschanel’s sister Zooey as a guest star. Take it from Mandi: “Santa teeth and bones as shrapnel = kinda awesome.” Old Christine finally left her house to attend a holiday party hosted by Molly Shannon. The band Train and a Santa Claus popped up in CSI: NY, but the episode also featured Kim Kardashian so that one’s kind of a wash. I could be missing plenty of other Christmas episodes from scripted series — let me know what they were in the comments.

What’s been your favorite holiday episode, P-Dubs? And who destroys a Christmas tree better: Phil or Dwight?

'Bones' recap: The gift of shirtless Booth

This year’s Christmas episode lacked the emotional impact of Season 1’s quarantine and the puckishness of Season 3’s mistletoe kiss, but it did have something going for it: Shirtless Booth. (Watch the scene below.) His clothing became evidence after a man dressed as Santa robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest, exited to meet Booth, and blew up. Watching Booth grow increasingly uncomfortable as Brennan slowly removed his tie, his shirt, his “cocky” belt buckle and his pants (“I’m just gonna start reciting some saints”), was worth sitting through the rest of the hour that while okay, never quite lived up to its potential. It had nice themes — no one should be alone on Christmas, there are different kinds of families, the spirit of the season is worth embracing even if you don’t believe Jesus was born in December — but I didn’t get to know the victim or his mother well enough to tear up when Bones decided that she wanted to go to the funeral because no one should have to bury her son alone on Christmas morning. “You know what, Bones, sometimes I think your heart muscle is bigger than people give you credit for,” Booth said. That’s true, but only because the writers don’t always allow her to flex that muscle when she should.


'Bones' Deschanel duo is on our Must List. What's on yours?

This week’s episode of Bones made my Must List months ago when it was first announced that Zooey Deschanel would be joining sister Emily on the show for a guest spot as Bones’ second cousin. And last Thursday’s preview featuring David Boreanaz in his boxer shorts just sealed the deal.

Zooey is the guest star hardcore Bones fans have been hoping for a while, so her appearance is a welcome pre-Christmas gift from the writers. Some are holding out for a sister duet on the show (Zooey is one half of indie act She & Him), but I’m not that greedy. All I want is my token semi-big Booth-Bones moment before the end of the first half of the show’s awesome fifth season. Not that the season hasn’t been filled with a million melt-worthy scenes between my favorite TV not-a-couple, but Bones writers are usually diligent about leaving viewers with enough swoon material to keep us warm between shows.

So now it’s your turn. Is there a guest star you’re looking forward to this week or a fall finale that blew you away? Do share. Also pitch your picks for best music, movies and online videos of the week! (Remember: Justify your pick well and leave an e-mail in case your pick ends up in the magazine.)

'Bones' recap: Cheater, cheater, 'Avatar'

Before we get into last night’s episode — part homage to the must-see 2007 documentary The King of Kong, part ad for James Cameron’s Avatar — we need to discuss the promo for next week’s holiday episode in which Brennan strips Booth down to his boxers after bits of a blown-up bomb-wielding, bank-robbing Santa Claus land on his suit and make it evidence. “Clothing as evidence” was one of the ideas I pitched in my August 2009 open letter to showrunners of procedurals starring actors we’d like to see shirtless. I would never presume that Hart Hanson reads anything I write, so please, someone tell him thank you for the early Christmas present. READ FULL STORY

'Bones' recap: Pops knows best (and now, about Club Jiggle)

Is it just me, or did this episode feel like a bit of filler? Yes, it’s always fun to see Brennan get giddy (for her) over investigating sexual fetishes, but they failed to make the “feeders and eaters” as compelling as the “horsey play” from Season 3. Getting to meet Booth’s grandfather Hank (guest star Ralph Waite) and having him try to play matchmaker for Booth and Brennan was sweet, but for this to be a proper Sweeps episode, Pops needed to die. There, I said it. (Note: I do realize that had Pops died at the end of this episode as written, it would have been too cliché. We’d have needed to meet him under different circumstances.) READ FULL STORY

'Bones' recap: Midget wrestling, phallic frustration, and the return of Gordon Gordon

bones_lWhen I first saw photos of Booth in a wrestling ring with a little person, I feared we were looking at a mistake the size of last season’s circus episode. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. This could be my favorite hour of Season 5. The “midget wrestling” was a little wacky, but it produced a classic Brennan moment as she realized the Iron Leprechaun they were watching be defeated by Bumble Bee Man was not the real Iron Leprechaun, whose body they’d found in a sink hole: “Boo! That man is not The Iron Leprechaun! Boooo! Fake! Fake!… Fraud! Look at his femur!” she shouted. Also, I did laugh when Booth jumped in the ring to nab the impostor, who tried various wrestling moves on him that I could have identified when I was in the sixth grade and a Rock ‘n’ Roll Express fan. “What do you expect me to do, he came at me like a rabid ferret,” Booth said after flattening the suspect, raising his arms to celebrate, and being booed. READ FULL STORY

'Bones' cast takes us behind the scenes (and the belt buckle)

bones-cast_dl Yes, it’s November Sweeps, but we’re already looking ahead to December episodes of Fox’s Bones. The cast took photos for EW as they filmed the Dec. 3 hour, inspired by the gamer documentary The King of Kong, and Dec. 10’s Christmas story, which David Boreanaz accurately describes as “a little sick.” (A man dressed as Santa is blown up after a botched bank robbery. Note: This is also the episode that Emily Deschanel’s sister Zooey guest stars as a distant relative of Brennan’s invited to spend the holidays with Bones and her father. Welcome back, Ryan O’Neal.)

Among the things you’ll learn by clicking through our gallery of 15 exclusive shots: David Boreanaz is responsible for most of Booth’s wardrobe, including the socks, “cocky” belt buckle, and occasional homage to Steve McQueen in Bullitt; Emily Deschanel and John Francis Daley are easily entertained.


Alynda Wheat's Beat Cop: The Last Patrol

There’s no way I’m going to get this right. We never say precisely what we ought to when we part, the words are never perfect enough — not even for those of us who get paid to write them…or used to, anyway. I’m sorry to say that this is the last time we’ll walk the Beat together as I’m leaving EW. So I’ll tell you what, Coppers, let’s save the hugs for the end, stuff down the tears (I grant that they’re probably all mine), and take a stroll. I’m ready if you are.

This, at least, I know you’ll love: Let’s talk about Criminal Minds! There’s a new team leader at the BAU, and he’s one tall drink of water, that Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore). He’s also pretty damned good at running the show. (And to think, you were worried! Okay, no, that was me.) We could tell from jump that Derek had this by the way he masterfully deflected Strauss’s (Jayne Atkinson) attempt to sow discord by trying to hand him Hotchner’s (Thomas Gibson) office. It was respectful but authoritative, clear and firm — and I’m totally taking notes on how to pull that move. Morgan was also in full control on the ground, calling orders and dispatching the team to track an UnSub who blitzes his victims, slices their throats, then uses some kind of freaky ocular melon-baller to remove their eyes. READ FULL STORY

Alynda Wheat's Beat Cop: It's the procedural playoffs -- sweeps month!

It’s sweeps month! It’s sweeps month! Craziness will happen! Casting will be stunty! Networks will actually try!

Yes, Beatniks, it’s that magical time of year when whatever the actual televised content on procedurals—good or bad—it is highly unlikely to be indifferent. Those networks need our eyeballs, so if they want ’em, they’d better be willing to throw us a CSI triple crossover, resurrect long-lost castmembers, and double the Deschanel quotient! (Oh wait, no, Zooey’s not popping up on Bones till Dec. 10. Shoot. That’s one bit of holiday stunt casting I do approve of, mainly because we’ve waited for it just this side of forever.)

Maybe it was leftover Halloween madness, but Numb3rs already started getting down to sweepy business on Friday, with a straight-up strange episode about people getting zapped by lightning bolts directed by drones. (Or were they…aliens??! No—no, they were not.) But that wasn’t the weird part. Aside from a few throwaway references to Scooby Doo and The X-Files, the weirdness was in the person of John Michael Higgins, whom you might know from Arrested Development, Kath & Kim, or—and I didn’t know this till I looked him up—as the voice of Mentok the Mindtaker on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. (Cool points tallied.) Higgins played Floyd Mayborne, an agent from “Dept. 44,” which we are led to believe is some sort of double super-secret background black ops crew. Floyd seems to have an invisible cell phone, crazy deep sourcing throughout the fed farm, and a spooky ability to materialize anywhere. He was also a bit dippy. I’m not sure Floyd was as successful onscreen as the character must have looked on the page, but it was still nice to see Numb3rs go for humor—they tend to do a creditable job when they try. READ FULL STORY

'Sound Bites': Vote for the best TV clip of the week

In this week’s Sound Bites — brought to you by racial profiling, half-assed cheer moves, and gay magic — Tina Fey and Ted Danson duke it out for MVP, Jane Lynch proves she is composed of solid white gold, I do a truly horrible Oprah impression, and we do know what Butters is saying. Stare motionlessly at mathematical equations while listening to “Eye of the Tiger” and then press play below for the best of this week’s TV.

[ewbrightcove “44929937001”, “44992503001”, “525”, “365”]

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