Best of the Decade: Top 40 Favorite Television Shows

The Best Television of the past decade, the favorite shows from 2010 to 2019 were varied to say the least. These were often brilliant and beautiful, funny and poignant, captivating and intriguing; some shows that appear on this list will not be surprising with their inclusion as they are beloved here at The Girly Nerd. Others, and especially the ordering, might take you by surprise. The criteria was simple. The series had to have spent the major of its run in the decade. This excluded shows such as The Office and Lost, or the add on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which did air in the decade but most of its run was out of that time frame. But all in all there was so much television to love from long running sitcoms, to bingable thrillers, to short-lived, but incredible dramas. They were all a wonder to behold.

Before delving into the Top 40 we must take note of some honorable mentions, many of which could be worthy enough to be included in the top 40 but were not simply because I have either just begun them, or fell behind and will need to revisit them at some point. Soon to be started is Netflix’s The Crown, along with Dolly Parton’s musical catalog inspired Heartstrings. Just began is the irreverent and quirky Schitt’s Creek, while I’ve fallen behind on was the touching and funny Speechless, thoughtful and steadfast Blue Bloods, intriguing and slick Lucifer, and the beautiful period drama Poldark. I look forward to revisiting and getting back into each of these. other shows that deserve not recognition are Happy Together and Happy Endings. But the purpose this is to highlight the best of this past decade. Without further ado here are the Top 40 favorite Television shows of the Decade.

40. Ringer (2011-2012) ringer
Dark and sexy drama, this tale of a woman who takes over the life of her selfish twin sister starred the amazing Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ioan Gruffudd and was full of twists and turns, and soapy dramatic intrigue and I loved every minute. The show ended with many things left unresolved which is a shame because it was a ringer in terms of sexy mysteries of the time.

39. IZombie (2015-2019)izombie
Often brilliant, always poignant, the only reason the show isn’t listed higher is I fell behind on the series by about the season. But regardless this zombie drama which is, thankfully for a viewer like myself, never too violent or glory, but rather a more thoughtful and even fun take on the concept as the amazing Rose McIver literally becomes a different person in each episode. It may be fantasy, but the heart is about human morality and love in all its forms.

38. About a Boy (2014-2015) about_a_boy
Based on the British film of the same name, the Americanized version is lighter and a bit softer in terms of the main character and his quirky neighbor who begrudgingly becomes friends with him after her son takes a shine to him. Its heartfelt and silly fun.

37. Galavant (2015-2016) galavant
This goofy, colorful unique breath of fresh air musical comedy show was bursting at the seams with talent from its amazingly talented cast which included Karen David, Joshua Sasse and Timonthy Omundson to the musical composer of the illustrious Alan Menken. The Monty Python-esque storytelling, Galavant was a niche show but beloved by those who discovered it’s hilarious greatness.

36. The Astronaut Wives Club (2015) ERIN CUMMINGS, DOMINIQUE MCELLIGOTT, JOANNA GARCIA SWISHER, AZURE PARSONS, YVONNE STRAHOVSKI, ZOE BOYLE
This wonderful mini-series, tightly crafted with an incredible cast, took a new angle at the depiction of NASA in the 1960s. Seen mostly from the perspective of the wives of NASA top astronauts, we see just what they endured as they watch their husbands embark on historic but extremely dangerous missions. But this isn’t an all hearts and flowers saccharine look at doting and meek happy housewives. No, we see real, very loving and intelligent women, all very different and dealing with every day trials and their husband’s work, and sometimes infidelities, as well as personal aspirations of their own. It’s equal parts fond remembrance and inspiring encouragement and hope for a better life then and now.

35. Reign (2013-2017) reign2
Perhaps not the most historically accurate, but one of the most enthralling, sexy, and exquisite looks at the life of Mary Queen of Scots, this series showcased all the drama, tragedy, and escapades of the Royal, romantic, sexual and wartime intrigues of France, Scotland and England in the 16th century. Fine cast, gorgeous production, and captivating storytelling, this show was for anyone who loves royal dramas rich with intrigue.

34. The Mysteries of Laura (2014-2016) laura
Two seasons wasn’t long enough for this engaging crime procedural with Debra Messing and Josh Lucas, Messing being Laura Diamond, one of the best homicide detectives in the NYPD, juggling being a single mother and sparring with her ex-husband Lucas who is now her partner. What really made this show was Laura’s character, a very real and relatable woman, who it amazing at her job, but still fallible in her everyday life, intelligent and strong, stubborn but loving, open and forgiving. These mysteries were grounded and wonderful.

33. Emily Owens M.D. (2012-2013) emily
This is short-lived but overall excellent medical dramedy wasn’t overly serious and bombarded with medical crisis. Instead while it did deal with these things, rather it more keenly focused on a group of young doctors, its lead being Emily, the perpetually teased but extremely hard-working young woman juggling her awkward social life with the pressures of a competitive and stressful workplace. It was well acted with a wonderful cast that included Maime Gummer, Justin Hartley and Michael Rady, and it was fresh and poignant and so enjoyable.

32. Manifest (2018-present) manifest
Part of my “Best of 2018,” as said Manifest is, “Intriguing, melancholy, gripping, and thought provoking, the comparisons to LOST were inevitable, but let it be said that Manifest is its own show and one that mixes and perfectly balances unexplained phenomena, crime procedural and family drama, matched with an impressive cast led but the wonderful Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh as brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, who returned home to a world that had changed so much. [wanting] to know what happened to Flight 828 that caused them to somehow become lost in time to the rest of the world and lose 5 years.” It’s a mysterious and thoughtful journey so far that leaves us wanting more.

31. A Discovery of Witches (2018- present) A Discovery of Witches
Another that was part of the “Best of 2018,” in this fantasy show, ” Between the amazing cast, beautifully locales and exquisite cinematography, there is so much to be mesmerized by, most especially a love story- a kind of Romeo and Juliet love story between a witch and a vampire, two species who have always been on opposite, adversarial sides, who are instantly drawn to each other and form a unbreakable bond and love that transcends all, and defies obstacles, and proves that LOVE knows no bounds.” based on Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, it’s chilling and romantic, and the upcoming seasons are sure to be just as thrilling.

30. The Goldbergs (2013-present) goldbergs
Anyone who grew up in the 80s, or indeed lived in the 80s in any way should love this silly and good-natured look at family life in this formidable decade focusing on a young boy obsessed with movies, wanting to be the next big filmmaker, and the trials of being an awkward teenager, with a popular but equally awkward brother, Queen bee sister, smother for a mother, and tough but well-meaning father. It’s laugh out loud funny and so, so heartfelt.

29. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-present) DSC00208.ARW
Witty, fast talking, delightful, colorful, meaningful, poignant, funny, effervescent, female empowering, and yes completely marvelous, series, each episode is like stepping into a candy colored, bubbly musical time machine to the 1960s which is fun and lively, but not without turmoil or drama. At times it feels heightened in true Sherman-Pallidino style, at other times completely grounded in very real, relatable truths about life.” And in the third season it was a rich vignette style sense of storytelling. A smoke-filled, gin and tonic soaked nostalgic gem with a wonderful continuation of Midge’s journey. Where she heads to next is anyone’s guess, but it’s sure to be a simply marvelous.

28. New Girl (2011-2018) new girl
You can describe this comedy in the same way you can describe its leave protagonist Jessica Day played by the incomparable Zooey Deschanel – sweet, a little silly, quirky, but ultimately strong, wise and heartfelt. Jess was definitely a lovable character; she’s someone whose quirks and awkwardness was endearing and so relatable to anyone he was ever felt a little weird, but is smart and strong willed enough to not let that dim that special light that burns inside them. That is New Girl’s greatest takeaway as we see that with all the characters and relationships. They grow and love and learn, but never compromise their unique individual selves. It’s a triumph of showcasing goofiness and wisdom in a way that was always engaging.

27. Royal Pains (2009-2016) royal
There was so much to love about this dramedy from the cast, to the characters, to the fact that there wasn’t anything else like it on television. Dr. Hank Lawson loses everything when he acts with his conscience instead of his pragmatism, forcing him to look for work elsewhere. Begrudgingly with the partnership of his brother Evan, and the help of a physician’s assistant Divya (who was a refreshing depiction and an Indian woman breaking tradition to be her own fulfilled person), Hank becomes a concierge doctor in the Hamptons. A sort of MacGyver medical drama, patients offered interesting things to behold, while the drama that unfolded for the characters and their relationships remained rewarding to watch, with a truly satisfying conclusion.

26. The Good Place (2016-present) good place.png
Another winner from Michael Schur, what makes this absurd and unique comedy work, and indeed set it apart from other shows in lovely ways, are the interesting and vastly different cast of characters, and the way they all come together with love, friendship and teamwork on a profound level, looking at philosophy and morality of life in ways that are both funny and thought-provoking. This “Soul Squad” and their adventures are good for our souls.

25. Modern Family (2009-present) mod fam
Taking a cue from The Office in it’s format by speaking to the camera about what they are going through throughout each episode, the comedy and heart of this show works thanks to an incredible cast and great writing that showcase the humor of every day family life in universal ways with 3 families, all different and more modern in appearance. Sometimes silly and absurd, often heartwarming and poignant, Modern Family will be a classic for years to come.

24. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)The Change Constant/The Stockholm Syndrome
This long running comedy spent the majority of its run in the decade and it’s a prime example of a show simultaneously remaining true to its core concepts and heart will also improving and evolving. And evolving is the keyword when it comes to all of the characters who end in better, happier, more enlightened places. All while remaining so funny and sweet. These nerds learned so much without losing themselves.

 

23. Fuller House (2016-present) fuller-house-season-2
This reboot of the original series is sweet hearted, goofy but like the original has some poignant moment, perhaps left less often but still lovely and affecting. Seeing sisters DJ and Stephanie and best friend Kimmy grown with families of their own, navigating the ups and downs of adulthood, mirroring the concept of Full House, brings forth some wonderful moments and a lot of heart, with the proper dose of nostalgia there any fan of the original would delight in. Romantic entaglements, the ups and downs of parenthood, High School reunions, Weddings, musical numbers, New Kids on the Block, there is so much to delight in!

 
22. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-2014)wonderland
The spin-off of Once Upon a Time may have had only one season and 13 episodes, but it was an exciting and heartfelt series, was indeed connected to the original with crossover characters and settings, but was amazing in its the singular story with a small and select amount of characters, that still had that ever present intertwining and fun blend of stories. Alice falls in love with a Genie from Agrabah and fights the evil Jafar, is best friends with one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Will Scarlet who loves someone himself, The Red Queen who is also the step sister Anastasia. The writing was tight, characters wonderful, and story lovely and enthralling with a beautiful satisfying, tear inducing ending showing the power of true love and friendship.

21. The Middle (2009-2018)the-middle
Life in the middle of America for an average middle-class family was endlessly relatable in this sweet and always funny, often touching comedy. What makes the show is the characters in the Heck family which feel so real, relatable and endearing. The scenarios are sometimes presented in wacky ways, but make no mistake, the situations are ripe with truth. At the end of the day, The Middle is anything but middling, but rather a look at people who could be your friends and neighbors, and indeed happily so.

20. Trophy Wife (2013-2014) trophy
Absolutely hilarious, sweet natured comedy series that should have run much longer than its single season, don’t let the title throw you off. This is a modern family comedy about a man who is on wife number three, much younger than him, but they are a sweet couple to behold. And their crazy and unconventional lives which includes three kids, and both ex-wives showcases them navigating this life together with bits of silliness and heartwarming moments. Fantastic cast, with the characters all so different, the ex-wives are a bit extreme opposites but still likable, the kids feel like real kids and are all, again, different, but sweet and endearing, and the main couple in question is believable in their love and relationship. Worthy to note, this show bolstered two of the most relatable moments ever – asking someone to look up an actor’s filmography online because they seem so familiar, and trophy wife Kate wanting her wedding to have the same vibe and feeling as Kermit and Miss Piggy’s.

19. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019) a-series-of-unfortunate-events-season-2
As said in the Best of 2018 series, ” The Netflix original series based on the children’s books of the same name is dark and filled with gruesome scenarios that befall the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, and yet it remains sweet and touching. A steampunk-esque visual feast for the eyes, it features intelligent writing, which actually gives you vocabulary lessons in each episode in a way that is so entertaining you crave it, hilarious absurdity, and an amazing cast. The story of the Baudelaire children may be an unfortunate one but you will not want to “look away” as the theme song and narrator often advises the audience to do. Instead you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well.. The contrast of the absurd situations, breathtaking visuals and profound meaning of this material is astonishing.”

18. Hart of Dixie (2011-2015) hart
A sweet, funny, gentle, dramedy, Hart of Dixie is a guaranteed pallet cleanser for those who need it. A bit Gilmore girls esque, in this story of a young New York Doctor who moves to the small Alabama town of Bluebell, complete with a colorful cast of real characters, we see how this journey to the South changes her life and the lives of the town forever; and it is absolutely delightful. Flawed characters who you genuinely love, relationships that go through tribulations but all end up happily, growth from all, and touching friendships, the heart of Hart of Dixie is the very epitome of making lemonade out of lemons and finding your life in the most unexpected of places

17. This is Us (2016-present) this_is_us_cast-publicity-h_2019_
Interwoven stories of a family seen at different times in their lives, has been heartwarming, heartbreaking, relatable, lovely, and moving each and every season, due in no small part to the fine writing, wonderful characters, and exceptional cast. Becoming a bit of a phenomenon, the popularity is matched by the quality and it’s clear and understandable why audiences yearned for this type of dramatic family storytelling. There is so much to love about the Pearson family at every stage of their lives, and its current season we see that scope broaden into other characters as we see that age old truth of how a single person can come out of the blue and completely change our lives. If a show had a heartbeat on those relatable truths of life, it would be This is Us.

16. Pan Am (2011-2012) pan am 1
Chic, romantic, beautiful, optimistic nostalgia, Pan Am looks at a time in history ripe with hope for the future, and big changes in the world, but also still so far to go in terms of equality and fair and good treatment of women and others alike. 1960’s stylish with the best modern sensibilities about chasing your dreams and believing in a future better than the past, these attributes reflected the glamorous but sometimes turbulent life of a Pan Am stewardess. The cast is wonderful, including Christina Ricci and a new to Hollywood scene Margot Robbie, the stories are a mix of light and fun, and dark and serious, showing the life of an undercover spy. It’s a breezy drama that truly soared and deserved to be on (and in the air) much longer.

15. White Collar (2009-2014)whitecollar_epguide_206
Most definitely inspired a bit by Frank Abagnale and Catch Me if You Can, White Collar was another in USA network’s string of entertaining serialized crime shows, this one being a more lighthearted caper drama about a white-collar criminal who alluded authorities for so long and went finally caught makes a deal to work with the FBI to stop criminals with the lead who tracked him down, the two eventually becoming close friends. The concept was fresh, the stories interesting, and the dynamic between the characters always great to watch. I was often mesmerized by Matt Bomer’s charisma as this charming thief Neal Caffrey, and touched by the friendship that formed between him and Tim Dekay’s Peter Burke Ending in a satisfying by open ended way, if we ever revisited these characters it would be a joy.

14. Murdoch Mysteries (2008- present)Tinsel
This long running Canadian drama is an absolute delight for those who enjoy turn of the century stories, interesting and endearing characters, stand out of history, and procedural detective shows. Detective William Murdoch’s life as a member of the Toronto Constabulary is always an exciting, thoughtful one and the adventures we see, especially with the woman who becomes his wife, the intelligent and inspiring medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden, as well as Chief Inspector Brackenreed and constable George Crabtree are sometimes lighthearted, sometimes intense, but always enthralling. Through the wonderful period details and integration of real life people of note in history from Thomas Edison to Mark Twain, you get a truly rich series.

13. Castle (2009-2016) castle
When it comes to procedural crime dramas, you need the right combination of a fine cast, interesting cases, and captivating overarching stories. Castle had these in spades. But what really made the show was the characters, their chemistry, they are evolving relationships, from cocky but good hearted writer Richard Castle, the intelligent and guarded detective who inspires him Kate Beckett, homicide detectives that are often so funny, but also capable Ryan and Esposito, Castle’s classy and no nonsense mother, and his sweet and mature teenage daughter Alexis. They all become a family over the course of the series which had a very unique hook – a writer looking for inspiration who begins working with one of New York’s finest homicide detectives, causing sometimes trouble but eventually becoming part of the crime solving team in a crucial way. Although the show almost took a detour, in the it ended extremely satisfyingly. And overall this Castle was magnificent.

12. The Mentalist (2008-2015)mentalist 1
Dark, thrilling, emotional, on the edge of your seat drama, The Mentalist had an abundance to love. The twinkle in his eye, disarming smile, calming presence and overall charisma of Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane was unparalleled. He’s man who has keen observational skills, and the ability to tap into people’s thoughts, sometimes in a manipulate ways- a true mentalist that helped the California Bureau of Investigation solve countless cases, along with and amazing other cast of characters, and fine actors to boot, the strong, smart and caring Teresa Lisbon, who Patrick loses his heart to, and other agents, brave and funny Wayne Rigsby, spiritual and resilient Grace Van Pelt, and stoic, no nonsense Kimball Cho. emotionally so, Patrick’s charm was matched by the despair in his eyes whenever he is forced to revisit his darkest day when his wife and child were murdered by the infamous serial killer Red John. Although the week by week cases all had great intrigue, it was the over arching story of fighting and stopping that infamous killer that was the core of what made the show captivating until the very end, especially when it involved its characters who went on journeys of self discovery and healing. The show’s final moments are truly a beautiful example of hope and peace overcoming darkness.

11. Burn Notice (2007-2013)burn
Intense, addicting spy drama not only bolstered amazing characters but had one of the best series endings of all time. This show was the perfect blend of dark and light as Michael Weston tries to find out why and who burned him as a spy, along the way helping those who really need it with help from his trigger-happy ex and eventual girlfriend Fiona, a friend who used to inform on him to the FBI, hiarious ladies man Sam Axe, a down and out spy Jesse Porter he met along the way and his chain-smoking mother who kept him in his check. An unconventional family to say the least, their adventures involved more mojitos and explosives than the fourth of July, but the humor and heart were matched by the griping storytelling. Always keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, it was amazing to see these characters grow and showcase the importance of a fridge full of yogurt and standby tactical support. In all seriousness, Burn Notice was an astounding shoe that brought it’s characters full circle in a truly moving way.

10. Forever (2014-2015)STEPHEN BARKER TURNER, ALANA DE LA GARZA, IOAN GRUFFUDD
Such a rich, unique series that deserved more than a single season, Forever took a captivating and unique take on the crime procedural by having its protagonist Henry Morgan, a medical examiner in New York Cry who begins working with the police to help solves cases, have a defining trait like no other- he lives forever. Or rather he can die but is always reborn moments later. Take this concept, making is rolling by casting Ioan Gruffudd, add a touching point of his older “friend “actually being a son he adopted from a Jewish internment camp with his wife in that time period, (a woman he still yearns to discover what happened to her after a mysterious, heartbreaking disappearance) and weekly mysteries and continuing story of the mystery to Henry’s condition, a chilling man whose discovered this, and we get an amazing show that deserve so much more time.

9.Smash (2012-2013)smash 1
The magic, music and drama about all it takes to make a Broadway show, from the writing, casting, and grueling rehearsal process is the heart of this musical drama. The lives of all involved revolving around the making of a musical based on Marilyn Monroe in season one, to a Modern rival musical written by ingénues coming up in the wings in season two, and finally a race to the Tony awards, this series showcased a particular part of our culture that is ripe with intrigue, fun, sadness, joy and excitement; and I loved every single moment. Without outstanding production quality, as well as production numbers and music, these shining moments shone as brightly as it’s truly exceptionally talented all star cast which included Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jeremy Jordan. Smash was truly smashing and deserves a standing ovation.

8. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) parks
Absurdly hilarious in the same vein of The Office, this somehow morphed into a surprisingly sweet and hopeful fable about people who were all so different- different ages, upbringings, assuredly personalities and political ideologies- and they not only learn to love each other like family, but support and work together despite, and even because of those differences. Through it all this group is led by the incomparable Leslie Knope, the woman which more enthusiasm, heart, creative ideas, and hopeful ideals that truly inspires everyone, from her best friend, beautiful starfish Ann Perkins, sardonic assistant who pretends to care less April Ludgate, grumpy but ultimately caring libertarian Ron Swanson, nerdy eventual husband Ben Wyatt, impossible optimistic Chris Traeger, the sweet and silly Andy Dwyer, the yearning to be an entrepreneur Tom Haverford, always maligned by sweet Jerry Gergich, and sassy and smart Donna Meagle. Don’t we all wish life could be like this – the town of Pawnee may be strange at times, but at its heart we see good people navigating life, friendship and family, all while being laugh out loud hilarious. Parks and Recreation is sweet lovely, absurd and brave all at once.

7. Stranger Things (2016-present)stranger-things-season-4-netflix-what-we-know-so-far
Three seasons so far and each one has been an incredible blend of sci-fi, drama, government conspiracy, and coming-of-age tale. It’s a show I never knew I needed but this story which starts about a small town boy going missing, a mysterious, traumatized girl with telekinetic abilities sheltered by a group of young boys, a resourceful mother who would do anything for her children, and snarky but intelligent badass police chief investigating these strange occurrences, captured the minds of so many. As the show has evolved so have the characters, most especially said police chief Jim Hopper, and the remarkably powerful ways so many ways young girl Eleven who becomes his surrogate daughter, as well as the group of misfit boys who are maturing with each season. Each year the threat of the truly terrifying upsides down, a paralleled world filled with destruction, monstrous creatures call demagorgans, as well as the gargantuan Mind Flayer continues to be thrilling and moving not just in the fight against terrifying monsters, but in showing the power of the human spirit. We fight for those we love learning just what we are capable of and it’s an extraordinary journey to witness.

6. Agent Carter (2015-2016)agent1.jpg
Stylish, thrilling, moving, and filled with wisdom, this incredible series was part superhero comic pulp, part detective drama, park comedy and romance, and all around criminally underrated and short-lived. It only two seasons and 18 episodes, Peggy Carter and her team brought us fantastic mystery and inspiration as part of the marvel universe. What truly makes the show what it is was the title character, as said in the “Best of 2015”, “Agent Carter rests on the shoulders of Peggy Carter the character and the performance by its star Hayley Atwell. And for that reason we have seen the show deliver poignant and dynamic television. Peggy is strong and brave no doubt, but it’s the moments of vulnerability even when she tries to push that aside that make her even stronger. It’s this moments when she is determined to gain the respect she deserves, all with dignity, that she becomes even braver. And it’s the moments when she says that she understands and knows her value and that everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter that she becomes even more of an inspiration than she already was. Peggy Carter may not always have garnered the credit she has earned many times over but the beauty of her character is that she knows what truly matters is that her self-worth is not determined by others.” In addition to Peggy, the show bolstered amazing character, most especially Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s valet who helped Peggy and became her true partner in crime, as well as Agent Daniel Sosusa, the brave and steadfast man who takes a shine to her, for all the right reasons. Agent Carter shows the power of self-worth and integrity wrapped in a colorful, nostalgic, nourish package that I still miss every day.

5. Timeless (2016-2018)timeless.jpg
Timeless was a remarkable and truly a magical show. As written in the “Best of 2018”, “This series is the perfect blend of adventure, history, humor, drama and mystery with amazing characters and relationships. Timeless brings history to life with both well known figures, but also nuances and individuals who are not, illuminating eras and inspiring people.” seeing everything from Alamo and the Moon Landing, Bonnie and Clyde, Benedict Arnold, to Hedy Lamarr and Alice Paul . The evolving relationships were the true heart beat of the show with show’s ending demonstrating that life is a journey, not a destination. It’s a beautiful journey with Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, Flynn, Jiya, Denise, and Connor through time: “The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists, inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes. Timeless is as timeless a form of entertainment and fine storytelling as there ever was.

4. Downton Abbey (2010-2015) Promo.jpg
Immaculate, sumptuous, enthralling period drama that captured the hearts and minds of so many and truly became a cultural phenomenon, what made Downton Abbey such a special and extraordinary series was its characters. The format and historical aspect isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, and yet the stories of the Crawley family and its large estate staff felt fresh and captivating in a way like we’ve never seen. Perhaps it’s the vast amount of characters, the heady style of drama which ranged from romantic entanglements, to World War I, to tragic deaths, to repairing broken spirits and souls. These characters and the family, which includes everyone because we see despite the class differences and even disparity among the Crawleys and staff alike, family and love endured. With already one inspired movie released, the series is a breathtaking look at life and its timeless truths in an ever-changing world. It may be another time, but that heartbeat remains true with ours skipping a beat every time that musical theme begins and we step back into the immaculate grandeur and beautiful simplicity of its finest themes: love and family.

3. Chuck (2007-2012) chuck
A family drama wrapped in a wacky spy thriller, peppered with colorful characters led by the incomparable Zachary Levi, Chuck is a brilliant, sweet natured and endearing take on the concept. It spent three out of its five seasons in the beginning of the decade, and it was some of the show’s finest moments- ones that really evolved the characters and overall story in terms of their growing relationships and their stakes when Chuck’s intersect becomes more than simply government secrets, but also amazing abilities that he must learn to hone and utilize as he works to becomes a real spy. They face formidable villains and family drama, but at its heart, Chuck is about believing in yourself and doing anything for family, with characters who are endearing while all vastly different. Chuck is not just an intelligent and charming computer nerd and his not just a government asset. He is a brave and capable in his own right man with strength, integrity and heart that endures everything life throws at him. Sarah becomes more than a closes off and stubborn but always kickass spy. She is becomes even stronger through her love and willingness to doing anything to protect it. Casey becomes more than a hard-nosed NSA agent who pretends to care for little other than serving his country. He learns the power of family while remaining steadfast in his convictions. Morgan becomes more than Chuck’s geeky, awkward friend, but proves his bravery and good heart to be so great. Ellie and Awesome not only continue to be not only capable doctors and steadfast support systems, but even more open and loving to who Chuck has become. You love them all, root for them, and if you don’t believe Sarah and Chuck’s love overcomes in the end, perhaps you didn’t understand what the show was truly about.

2. Psych (2006-2014, 2017) Psych - Season 8
This comedy, drama, detective, fake psychic procedural, extraordinary goofy series spent half of its run in the decade, plus a movie. And it was just as hilarious, creative and at its core, heartwarming as the first half, perhaps even more so. The show began the decade halfway through its fourth season, and by that point the characters not only were well established but had grown individually and in their relationships. And while each case we saw had its moments, it was the captivating Yin and Yang, the musical, and Clue inspired episodes that were especially the pinnacle, along with the ways the friendships and romantic relationships grew, and eventually dealt with the truth about Shawn’s abilities. And from Shawn and his father really growing close, Shawn and Juliet finally coming together in love, (ending the series with a marriage proposal and the film with that long awaited wedding, impromptu as it was), Carlton finding his soulmate, and the heart of the show, best friends Shawn and Gus, it’s these relationships that really grounded the show through all the over the top hilarious antics as well as its darker moments. It’s a testament to the fine writing and performances, that you truly love all of these characters. They become a family and feel like one to audience. This brilliant series never made a false step. Psych was perfection!

1. Once Upon a Time (2011-2018) 6x22c
Anyone who follows The Girly Nerd shouldn’t be surprised at the show that’s taking the top spot for favorite of the decade. Captivated from the Pilot episode, a show about Disney and fairytale characters with a modern twist, a mysterious, whimsical, sweet, enthralling, romantic with themes of hope, family and true love, is the kind of series tailor made for someone with my (and indeed any true Disney and fairy tale fan’s) sensibilities and tastes. Despite final season taking a detour, in the end and overall the series are and these beautiful characters created new fairy tales for the ages that brought forth timeless themes in ways that captured our hearts unparalleled ways. It was a stroke of brilliance and creativity or to tell stories about what happens after happily ever after, and indeed intertwine them all together. How fun is it to see that Snow White is friends with Ariel and Cinderella, that Anna and Elsa have a long lost Aunt and Anna is the one who taught Prince Charming how to sword fight, that Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent make a formiable villain squad, and that the Wicked Witch of the West is sisters with the Evil Queen who falls in love with her soulmate Robin Hood, finding him with the help of Tinkerbell. How amazingly creative is it to have Rumplestilskin be this story’s Beast who loves Belle, and the Crocodile to Captain Hook, the pirate who grows into a true hero, while Peter Pan is the real villain. And it was an equally brilliant concept to create a brand new fairy tale character in Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who is a relatable, remarkable woman who is also a mirror for the audience. She is an outsider who finds her place in the world, her True Loves in her son and Captain Hook, and her family in her parents and truly so many that reside in the afiry take lands and the true home of the series Storybrooke. She becomes the hero who saves the happy endings for all, before finding her own, the main storyline and character wrapped around all these other amazing tales and characters. Through tragedy and curses, miracles and happy beginnings, we see that anything is possible if we just hold on to hope. In this day in age I can’t think of anything else more life affirming, which is why this series which was endlessly magical in its enchanting settings, and grounded and profound moments of enduring love, tops the list for the Best of the Decade.

Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time Connections?

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If you are a fan of the first Frozen film and a Once Upon a Time fan, chances are you enjoyed seeing those characters pop up on the fairy tale series. Although, it wasn’t everyone’s favorite storyline, it was however overwhelmingly loved and almost every fan would agree that the characterizations were spot on and some of the best the show ever did. For me personally, the characters and storyline are definitely favorites, so much so that the story written almost became so embedded in my mind as what happened to the characters after the film concluded. So when I heard there was to be a Frozen sequel, I couldn’t help but have the Once Upon a Time story in my mind. Not that I actually thought that the film would do that as they are completely separate entities. Though Oncers, admit it- wouldn’t you love to see animated versions of Storybrooke, Emma, Hook, Snow and others. How fun would that be!

In all seriousness, now that we have seen three trailers for Frozen 2, I do delight in some similarities, visual and character wise, as well as other possible comparisons. Whether these are intentional or not and whether they drew inspiration and took cues from Once Upon a Time will probably be open for interpretation. But it wouldn’t be the first time a Disney film did so, which is funny given what the concept of the series is. But at the end of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, which aired May 13, 2012, Emma awakens her son Henry from a sleeping curse with True Love’s Kiss, something that came as a surprise and proved the strength of True Love obviously exists between a child and parent. Two years later in 2014, Maleficent was released, and there was a similar moment where Maleficent, who had become a mother figure to Aurora, awakens the princess from her sleeping curse in the same way Emma had awoken Henry. Is this merely coincidence, or a case of drawing inspiration? Whatever the case may be, the similarities and possible similarities between Once Upon a Time and Frozen 2 are definitely present and are all positive, natural, and/or interesting ones.

Team Family

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From what we can tell from the two longer trailers for Frozen 2, it seems like Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff are a united family, venturing off on an adventure together, facing dangers of all sorts. It also seems as if Kristoff may be living in the palace, and possibly engaged to Anna by now. In Once Upon a Time that is very much also the case. Kristoff and Anna are engaged, and while Elsa and Anna are separated, Elsa and Kristoff grow closer as friends and future in laws. And when all three are together again, there is very much a sense of a united front- they are a family. Frozen 2 obviously also presents that. Now this similarity is most likely a case of both merely taking the story and characters in a natural direction from the first film. So these comparisons are not surprising at all.

Runes and Gravestones

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As we see in the above images, we see what Once Upon a Time would often do: gain inspiration from the source and create their own take on it. In this case, Once Upon a Time took an image we saw in the film of the Gravestones for Elsa and Anna’s parents, with what look like ancient Runes, and recreated them in a new scene where grown up sisters, now happily together lay flowers for their parents. What is interesting is something we see in Once Upon a Time’s sisters in this and other moments is then in turn seen in Frozen 2 creating some visual and character similarities.

Holding Hands

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Above we see in Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna hold hands as they approach their parents’ gravestones. In a moment in Frozen 2 we see something very similar as we see the sisters holding hands, standing before large stones that look very much that of the graves for their parents. Visually this is an obvious comparison to make. But what I love is that Frozen 2 seems to be taking that character beat of the affectionate gesture between sisters they really emphasized on Once Upon a Time, and continuing that in the second film. In the first film, Elsa became so petrified of hurting anyone with her powers and always kept her gloves on, so it is both a natural and lovely to see that after overcoming that, Elsa instead chooses to hold her sister’s hand as a sign of love and strength, no longer afraid but instead confident with her sister by her side.

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The Enchanted Forest

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This comparison is somewhat superficial but I still delight in it. In Once Upon a Time, Anna heads off in search of answers of what happened to their parents after discovering that they were seeking something that could rid Elsa of her magic (or so they thought). Anna boards a ship to a place known as Mist Haven, or more widely called by its inhabitants as the Enchanted Forest. In Frozen 2, Elsa and Anna’s father tells them a story about an Enchanted Forest, and years later, the sisters and Kristoff seem to venture off to this mystical place. That is where the similarity ends, but the same name thing is interesting.

Anna’s Sword Skills

 

In the trailer for Frozen 2 we see Anna wield a sword with a great deal of force and confidence, something previously unseen in the first film. Where we did see this before was in the version of Anna in Once Upon a Time. In the show, Anna comes upon a friend of Kristoff’s, David before he becomes the valiant Prince Charming. It’s here we see Anna, whom she says was taught to sword fight by palace guards, helps David and teaches him to wield a sword himself. That back-story was one beloved by fans, and the sequel’s Anna looks very much the same, remaining her brave and plucky self but with impressive sword skills.

Elsa’s Magic

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In the first Frozen film, Elsa’s magic is very powerful, but at times it seems she has trouble with control and has issues when her emotions get the best of her. In Frozen 2, it looks like that still may happen, but importantly it looks like there is also a sense of even more power and more control of that magic. That is something we definitely see on Once Upon a Time. In fact, her story involves Elsa realizing her sense of self and self love, one that doesn’t have to have Anna with her to calm her down. She helps Emma gain control of her powers and learn to accept herself exactly as she is, choosing to keep instead of rid herself of her magic. Might we see a similar story in Frozen 2? Given what we’ve seen in the trailers, I think the possibility is strong.

A Found Family?

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In Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna discover that not only do they have an aunt named Ingrid who like Elsa has ice magic, but also that their parents did not wish to get rid of Elsa’s magic as they had thought. Instead, in their final moments they left a message in a bottle where they confess about their past mistakes of not accepting Ingrid’s magic, and that it should have be nurtured and cherished. Their Aunt Ingrid, whose anger over her sister’s “betrayal” led her to become a villain, sees the error of her ways and sacrifices herself to reverse her deadly spell of shattered sight. Anna and Elsa’s found family may not be with them in the physical sense, after that, but their spirits and what they learned from them remained.

After watching both trailers for Frozen 2, the plot is still somewhat hard to distinguish but I think there is a strong chance that the voice Elsa hears calling to her, and the people they meet in the Enchanted Forest could very well be family they never knew existed, just like Once Upon a Time’s Ingrid, as we see what is most likely the King and Queen in the Enchanted Forest as children. The older leader might even be a villain in the same way Ingrid was. The plots will obviously not be identical and this is pure speculation, but I do think a great deal of Frozen 2 could deal with not only the origin of Elsa’s magic, but the discovery of what happened to their parents, and possibly even others who possess magical abilities.

A Redemption for Hans?

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Lastly, although the reappearance if Hans is not a guarantee, Santino Fontana who voiced him in the first film, is listed among the cast. What could he be doing in the film? Would he continue to be a villain, or will be do what so many Once Upon a Time villains did and find redemption? This was commonplace of the series, but it isn’t really something Disney Films have done much. Most villains either die or are no longer seen again, remaining their evil selves. I actually think it would a welcome change to see a villainous character change for the better.

The similarities between Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time are most definitely there. Although some comparisons are simple and merely visual, others have a stronger connection. Whether even more plot connections exist remains to be seen. We shall find out this coming November. Whatever the case, Once Upon a Time’s Frozen interpretations will remain beloved, and any and all similarities that are present in Frozen 2 will be looked at with fondness and smiles in what is sure to be an exciting and beautiful film.

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Top 10 Favorite On Screen Pirates

Avast ye matey’s, yesterday be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I thought I would look at all of the pirates that have ever swash buckled their way into our hearts and count down my favorites from film and television. Some are dastardly villains, some are humorous foes, some are romantic heroes, and some are every thing in the book. But all definitely have a flair for the dramatic, a distinctive personality and have tongues and wits as sharp as their swords!

10. “Captain Hook” portrayed by Hans Conried (Peter Pan)

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This version of the classic character may be a codfish, and one we can find humor in more so than be frightened of, like other Disney villain’s. But make no mistake, this pirate may often be fooled by his nemesis Peter Pan, but also has his moments of intelligence, clarity and downright evil, and against those who are very young including Tiger Lily, the Darling children and Pan himself. Thank goodness Tinkbell’s bravery out shined her vanity, and in the end Peter was saved and the Crocodile will continue to give the captain what he deserves.

9. “Blackbeard” portrayed by Charles Mesure (Once Upon a Time)

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Much more of villain than his on screen nemesis’ Killian Jones, this dastardly pirate looks more like a traditional version of Captain Hook than the show’s actual Hook with his long red coat and dark long hair. He is elegant, deceitful, but also quite funny, with a great chemistry between Mesure and O’Donoghue to boot, making this pirate one of the show’s best recurring characters.

8. “Captain Hector Barbossa” portrayed by Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The brilliant chameleon of an actor Geoffrey Rush manages to take a wicked, typical pirate villain and turn him into a well layered and compelling character that is more than villain throughout the course of the franchise. He is killed, then resurrected and continues in his cunning pirate ways, only for us to discover that there is an actual heart that is vulnerable and sympathetic to others, from the couple he married aboard his ship during an epic battle, to the daughter he never knew he had. I can’t believe I ended up crying over Barbossa, but I did!

7. “John Merrick” portrayed by Gabriel Byrne (Shiprecked)

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A pirate who is most definitely dark and evil, this understated pirate carries out his sinister work in the shadows and in disguise as the Naval Captain he murdered. Taking over a crew of good, hard working sailors, he slowly poisons a good Captain, delves out harsh punishments and is willing to hurt the young and innocent, all in the name of money. What a true pirate definitely was in reality, this is a grounded and effective character indeed.

6. “Elizabeth Swann” portrayed by Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The beautiful Elizabeth was born into a world of propriety and wealth, but all her life longed for adventure and was drawn to more. Make no mistake, the girl who showed us all that life is more than corsets, gowns and arranged marriages, learns inner strength as well as the ways of a Pirate life and found her way as both a capable woman and swashbuckling pirate in her own right. Eventually she is elected Captain Swann, a pirate King leading all of the crews of the world in an epic battle for freedom. She is fearless, strong and willing to do anything for those she loves. But like her eventual husband Will, always remains on the side of honor. Her story was one of resilience and patience as she is finally reunited with her beloved Will permanently, True Love knowing no bounds.

5. “Captain James Hook” portrayed by Dustin Hoffman (Hook)

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There is not a more traditional version of J.M. Barrie’s Captain Hook more brilliant than Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of the villain. Many years after Peter Pan left Neverland and had a family, Hook kidnaps Pan’s two children, wanting revenge and war against the “boy’ who cut off his hand and threw it to the crocodile. An evocative, delight of a film, what makes it stand out is definitely this Hook who is sardonic, sour, slimy and yet charming. He is funny but never ridiculous, cunning and resourceful but not without his moments levity. Hoffman’s Hook is dastardly perfection.

4. “Will Turner” portrayed by Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The more traditional heroic pirate of the series, comparatively, the handsome and steadfast William Turner, son of the pirate “Bootstrap” Bill Turner, didn’t even start out in this role. Beginning the franchise as a humble blacksmith who turned his nose up at those filthy, low life pirates he encountered as he vowed to rescue his love Elizabeth from, he soon became the ideal combination of pirate and hero as he teamed up, and sometimes became at odds with, Jack Sparrow, Barbarossa, Davy Jones and a vast crew of miscreants. However, he always remained on the side which was honorable and in the best interest as those he loved. Will Turner is the pirate who went on a great journey all in the name of love and family.

3. “Captain Jack Sparrow” portrayed by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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Is there any other character like Captain Jack Sparrow? I had seen many a pirate film, and had been on the ride in which the film is based on countless times. But when Jack first appeared on screen in the 2003 film, it was an indicator of exactly the kind of unique, wonderful and instantly beloved character he would become. Standing tall on the mast of a ship, the salty sea wind in his face, he looks proud and resolute, until we see he is on a modest boat that is sinking in which he sails right into the dock on the boat’s final moments afloat. He’s hilarious and unlike any other pirate we’ve seen. The seemingly perpetually drunk Captain Jack Sparrow is a character we can laugh at and root for despite his look out for himself ways. The franchise would not be what it is without this clever, funny, and resilient pirate, who simply wants freedom, respect, and above all rum.

2. “Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts” portrayed by Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)

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As Wesley’s portrayer Cary Elwes so perfectly stated recently, there’s a shortage of perfect films out there, and I would say that not only is The Princess Bride one of those films, but one of the main reasons is due to the character of Westley, and the incomparable performance by Elwes. After being presumed dead by his True Love Buttercup, poor farm boy Westley returns as the Dread Pirate Roberts, ‘kidnapping” (but truly rescuing) the princess and only revealing himself after a tumble down a cliff and an exclaim of those famous words of I Love You, “As You Wish.” Like the film itself, this pirate is charming, funny, and full of line after line of wisdom, truths, and flair. Westley is strong, romantic, brave, and all in all the perfect fairy tale pirate hero.

1. “Killian Jones/Captain Hook” portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time)

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Was there any doubt as to who my number 1 pick would be. The dashing rapscallion of the beloved fairy tale series didn’t appear until Season 2, but soon became not only a fan favorite, but one of the best characters in the show with the brilliant performance by O’Donoghue and excellent character and story development. Going from a charming villain whose allegiances often simply aligned with whoever he could benefit the most from, this version of Hook, real name Killian Jones, became a fully fledged romantic hero, helping to save Storybrooke and many characters numerous times and winning the heart of the show’s leading lady, the Savoir herself Emma Swan. His story ended in a beautiful way as he retained his pirate flair, charm, and intelligence, while becoming a hero, husband and father. This modern version of Captain Hook is one for the ages!

What are your favorite on screen pirates? Did I mention some of yours? Let me know in the comment section!!

 

Shipwrecked Image Credit (x)

My First Trip to the D23 Expo

My first trip to the D23 expo which is held in at the Anaheim Convention center every two years was most definitely quite the learning experience. While I enjoyed myself, it was also a bit overwhelming and I now know what to expect, what to do and what not to do if I decide to attend the next one. Instead of taking the plunge and attending all three days, I went only one day (the last one). I actually almost missed attending all together because I grew ill a few days before, but luckily I started to feel better quickly enough and was able to power through and still go- albeit because of said illness I went about things at a slower pace and not at 100%, so there was definitely things I missed. But going in I had a few things I hoped to accomplish: see the show floor and attend at least one panel. And for the most part I did that.

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Without a doubt my favorite thing I saw from the expo was The Art of Disney Storytelling Panel, hosted by John Stamos and his wife Caitlin and featuring Disney Legends, animators, producers and imagineers Tony Baxter, Floyd Norman, Don Hahn and Paul Briggs. They each told stories and offered insights on their experiences and different approaches to storytelling in film and in the Parks and it was funny, informative and overall a delight. Some of my favorite things including stories about Walt Disney inventing the concept of storyboards (which I was unaware of), and Howard Ashman and Alan Menken being really involved in story meetings and Ashman explaining how foreshadowing exists in the song “Part of Your World,” which for as many times as I have heard that song and seen The Little Mermaid, is something I never thought of. I also loved Tony Baxter’s story of how he received a postcard from Ray Bradbury after he rode Peter Pan’s Flight with Charles Laughton of all people. He wrote to him that he had “boarded a pirate galleon, flew out of a child’s bedroom and over London! You can’t get much better than that!” And how true is that!

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The other favorite thing I saw was The ‘Heroes and Villains” Disney Archives costume exhibit. For just about anyone this display of a wide array of gorgeous and intricate costumes is amazing. But for someone like me who truly appreciates and loves what goes into filmmaking, including the aesthetics and true artistry of costumes, this exhibit was absolutely incredible. I truly lucked out with this year’s display as we got to see such a variety of yes, heroes and villains, and such a variety of films and television, from Once Upon a Time’s Cinderella and Captain Hook, to the live action remakes Cinderella, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, to the wonderful National Treasure and Prince of Persia, to EnchantedHocus Pocus, Alice in Wonderland and three different Mary Poppins costumes. It was a sumptuous feast for the eyes and I loved seeing each and every work of art.

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As far as everything else I saw, and the overall process I can say it was a combo of fun, overwhelming, and in my particular case a little lonely and confusing. The staff was overall friendly but would sometimes give me conflicting information and finding the line for my reservation panel was quite difficult. And lines are definitely everywhere. Consequently, I missed seeing some stuff because lines were quite long, or just long enough that I skipped them as I was tired. It is also very large and, at least for me, easy to get turned around and not be sure exactly where you were and if you missed walking by/through anything on the floor. After watching some videos from the expo I discovered, there was A LOT I missed. And being by myself, I didn’t have anyone for another set of eyes and help with confusion and bearings, take pictures, and overall share the con experience with. I have been to many cons alone before, but for some reason, perhaps because it was my first one, or simply the nature of it being a Disney con, I wish I had not been alone and with a friend or group. It was a little lonely. Still there were come really cool things to be seen and I was able to enjoy myself despite everything.

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Attending the D23 also gave me the opportunity for a few other things. I stayed at the Anaheim Hilton for the first time, and this is a beautiful hotel. My room offered an amazing view and Disneyland’s fireworks were visible at night. And On Monday I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Becka, aka DisneyKitee, in Disney California Adventure, along with her husband. I spoke about Becka in this article about Disney Tubers, and since have been getting to know her. Finally getting to meet was so wonderful as she is a sweet and lovely person. Disney friends really are the best!! Go watch her videos on YouTube if you don’t already!!

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So all in all, while I enjoyed walking through the show area and seeing the panel, I know that if I decide to attend in 2021, there are definitely things I would do differently. I would only go if I went all 3 or at least 2 days as there is just so much to see, panels to watch and stores to shop in, and there must be sufficient time to walk around and wait in lines. I also would only attend with another person or group as it would be an easier, more relaxed, and simply more fun con experience than attending alone. That might not be an issue for some, but for me it is. Disney is my favorite thing in the world, but sharing that love with others makes it even more magical. Fingers crossed for magical D23Expo experience in 2021!!

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2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television Performances, Relationships, Moments, and More

Performances:
Actresses:

5. Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches) diana 1.gif

Diana Bishop is an incredibly strong, intelligent and loving character. Thrust into danger with power awakening inside her, Diana overcomes past fears and denials as she learns to embrace the extraordinary magic within her, subsequently awakening a fierce strength as well. While falling deeply in love illuminates all of these qualities tenfold. And Palmer showcased all of these qualities with grace, nuance and beauty. She maintained an authentic balance of fierce confidence are understandable fears and it was lovely to watch.

4. Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) alex

Susie is tough as nails, brash and harsh with just about everyone. It would be easy to come off as a one note character. But there is more to this character and Borstein showcases the layers to her character so well, most especially in moments where we see how much she cares about Midge, and when others show true care and affection towards her. When her fellow workers in the Catskills shower her with love and relief after believing she had been missing, you both laugh and are touched watching a woman who clearly had not experienced many moments like this. Borstein perfectly portrays a woman who doesn’t always know how to show or accept affection, but its meaning is not lost on her. It’s written all over her face.

3. Melissa Roxburgh (Manifest) melissa

Michaela Stone boarded Flight 828 unsure of her future, wracked with guilt over a car accident that resulted in her friend’s death, but with her brother’s advice and her mother’s unfailing love and wisdom in her ears. She departed the plane feeling more hopeful and ready to accept her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, only to have that all come crashing down learning that not only have 5 years have passed, but her mother has passed away, and her boyfriend had married her best friend. Heartbreak is then met with strange voices and callings and dangers abound. Through it all Roxburgh has showcased Michaela’s heartbreak, anger, confusion, and determination to find her place and inner strength with grace and authenticity. Her performance is indeed one of the show’s finest aspects.

2. Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) mrs-maisel-thank-you-goodnight-1515699518

Miriam Maisel is a witty, effervescent, strong, intelligent, caring, verbose, beautiful, incredible and dynamic woman and it takes a brilliant performer to portray such a dynamic character. Brosnahan more than accomplishes this task. She has a radiant presence that is also very grounded in moments where Miriam is standing up for herself in a male dominated profession, when she falters when dealing with her father’s knowledge of her stand-up, and dealing with a turning point in her life professionally and personally. Midge Maisel is a realistic, marvelous gal we all can relate to and aspire to be like and it’s due to Brosnahan’s wonderful performance.

1. Mandy Moore (This Is Us) mandy

Many Moore is an incredible talent, whom I have been a fan since the beginning of her career. And it’s been a true joy and honor to bot only watch her continue to grow as a performer but also achieve great success. In This is Us, Moore is given the chance to shine and showcase her tremendous range and abilities. In 2018, we saw these exemplary talents on full display throughout many stages of Rebecca’s life:as a young and hopeful ingénue, falling in love, a happy wife, supportive mother, and grieving widow. The latter gave us the most devastating moment and brilliant performance of this season (perhaps even series) when the knowledge that Jack has died becomes reality when she walks into that hospital room and the camera focuses only on her. We feel every blinking moment of disbelief, every breath, and every tear, and cry of devastation. She gives a deeply affecting performance in her moments of grief, but beautifully balances those with soft moments of brave vulnerability and tender understanding, with countless members of her family. Moore’s performance is a exquisite balance of quiet beauty and authentic fierceness and an absolute wonder to watch.

Special Recognition: Amber Stevens West (Happy Together) amber

As Claire, Stevens West is bright and lovely, funny and sweet, a wonderful scene partner for Wayans Jr. and undeniably and effortlessly likable. Sitcom characters can often feel unrealistic but Stevens West brings a kind of natural grace and warmth that makes Claire feel real and relatable.

Actors:

5. Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Together) damon

Not many performers can make me laugh as much, and indeed smile as much, as Wayans Jr. Always the scene stealer in Happy Endings and New Girl, as Jake in Happy Together, he infuses each scene with the same natural charm, hilarity, and sweetness now as the leading man, which greatly pleases me. It is so easy to love his performance bringing forth age old idea how laughter is truly infectious.

4. Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) tony

Shalhoub has always been brilliant in my humble opinion, most especially as the OCD detective Adrian Monk. I was so pleased see him grace our screens again, in a completely different sort of role. A sort of long suffering, straight as an arrow, loving, but not without his quirks or strong opinions that go against what a modern audience, would deem right. And Shalhoub manages to make not only Abe Weisman lovable, but real and empathetic. Most especially in Season 2, when Abe’s wife leaves without him noticing, he discovers his daughter’s stand up, and has tribulations with his new job he is forced to re-examine his life and viewpoints and comes out all the better for it. Shalhoub is absolutely wonderful and provides some of Mrs. Maisel’s finest moments in 2018.

3. Josh Dallas (Manifest) josh

Forever in as our hearts as Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time, #CharmAttacks may not happen as much, but 2018 brought back Dallas to our screens in a dynamic and most welcome way- in a different kind of role, though with some humorous similarities (time jumps and not aging), with much more serious, darker and mysterious material. Ben Stone is a loving husband, father and brother, who loses 5 years with his family, who grieved and moved on when they believed him to be dead. He finds himself “replaced” somewhat by another man with his wife and daughter, is trying to wrap his head around the strange callings he and fellow passengers share and tirelessly wants to discover the truth behind the underlying government conspiracy that won’t leave them be. He only wants to protect his family and is pulled in every direction imaginable. We knew Dallas could portray a loving father beautifully, and this continues on Manifest as a very rational man who doesn’t hesitate to take action. Dallas’s performance is strong and stalwart with a quiet and melancholy vulnerability, and like Roxburgh’s performance, one of the finest attribute’s to Manifest.

2. Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us) jack 1

Ventimiglia has always portrayed Jack Pearson brilliantly, and 2018 was no different and in fact, showcased some of his finest work as we finally saw the cause of Jack’s untimely death, as well as learning more about the root of his need to protect others- it stems from protecting his younger brother at an early age from his abusive father, going well into adulthood when said brother is drafted into the Vietnam War. The combination of the new and illuminating, and very different look at a part of Jack’s life with the looks at his early love story with Rebecca and unconditional support of his children provided quite the poignant drama, made every so moving by the warmth, nuance and quiet strength in Ventimiglia’s performance.

1. Matthew Goode (A Discovery of Witches) matthew

Goode is a performer I have loved for years in both film and television, with Leap Year and Downton Abbey being two personal favorites. As the centuries old Matthew Clairmont, the brooding but passionate, strong and enigmatic vampire, Goode feels tailor made for the role and portrays his character as if it was written specifically for him- as is he is literally leaping of the page and onto our screens to give us chills and capture our hearts. Clairmont may be immortal, but what Goode brings to the part is undeniably human. He must be at times mysterious and dangerous and others times gentle and romantic. It’s a delicate balance but Goode brings charisma, warmth, and nuance brilliantly creating a captivating character and perfect partner in a love story of epic proportions. He is invigorating to watch.

Special Recognition: Andrew J. West (Once Upon a Time) andrew

It was a tall order to fill the shoes of an established character but now as a grown adult, and although the storyline was not perfect, West’s performance was admirable as it is clear he both studied Jared Gilmore’s performance as Henry in order to maintain the feel for the character, while bringing his own maturity and warmth. It helped to create a seamless transition and this is to be admired.

Casts:

3. The Series of Unfortunate Events Cast olafbaudelaires

What can I say about the cast of this unique series except that I never want to look away from such exceptional talent and we all out fortunate to witness this story unfold in such extraordinary hands. They all manage to bring levity to the serious, heart and pathos to the absurd and move and excite us with each tantalizing episode. Neil Patrick Harris is a true master of disguise as Count Olaf and it is a truly masterful performance while the Baudelaire siblings Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Pressley Smith bring so much heart and inspiration to the children who must employ their wits and bravery in this perpetual series of unfortunate events in their lives.

2. The Good Place Cast good place

The most unusual mix of characters continue to delight and move us in this colorful, absurd and yet grounded series about the afterlife and what it means to be human and every single person brings their own form of humor and charm, each with defining characteristics, so much so that while this is for the entire cast we must take special note of D’arcy Carden who as Janet performed an episode where this entity embodied every single character and embodied their speech patterns, mannerisms so spot on that it felt like you were actually watching them. It was incredible! But indeed, Kristen Bell is a riot as the guarded and tough but deep down vulnerable Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi makes his indecisiveness endearing instead of frustrating, Jameela Jamil’s Tahani seems out of touch and snobbish, but is hilariously endearing as we see her insecurities and good heart shine through, Manny Jacinto as the dim but sweet natured Jason is undeniably likable, and the incomparable Ted Danson makes a demon feel like the most innocent creature in the universe in what may be my favorite performance of his career. The show is called The Good Place, but the cast is absolutely Great!

1. The Timeless Cast

timeless 2

In the final season of the time traveling series, every single person shined and played a significant part in the plot of the last episodes, but each performance also helped make their respective characters and indeed the show its remarkable self- so much so that they all must be recognized. Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey, Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnjic, and Annie Wersching were all incredibly powerful performers, knowing when to give and take with their scene partners, show the proper range of emotion from fear to delight to regret and hope. A show is only as good as the actors who breathe life into the written words, and this cast made a story out of time and space always remain firmly on the ground and still make us believe in a possible future. We laugh and cried and rooted for the end of Rittenhouse and for our Time team to not only save the day but find love, salvation and happiness. And these performers created indelibly timeless performances.

Favorite Returns:

Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time) captain swan 3snowing

Could the fairy tale series really close the last page of its storybook without once again seeing the characters whose journey started it all? Thankfully, that answer was an unequivocal no and we once again saw Emma Swan and her parents Snow White and Prince Charming. And when we saw each character both re-appear and we took our last look at these iconic characters I have no doubt each audience member leapt from their seats, smiled and then wiped away a few tears. The show would not have been its magical self without them so it’s only fitting they provided beautiful, significant and heartwarming moments that made the series end what it should be: a final showcase of adventure, love, and hope.

Use of Music:

2. “The Good Queen” and “Leaving Storybrooke”- Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor, Michael D. Simon (Once Upon a Time)

The music of the fairy tale show has always been one of the consistently beautiful and most universally loved part of the series, and in the final episode, that proved no different. In particular, the final two music queues were not only gorgeous but moving in the way they reflected what was on screen, but also brought back some of the show’s most beautiful and steadfast musical themes in new variations. The beginning of “The Good Queen” was light, lovely and regal, but I opening admit to bursting into tears when Emma and Killian’s appearance brought forth a final and triumphant variation on “Emma’s theme” followed by an exquisitely light and jovial variation of Emma’s and Killian’s theme meant to be for their baby Hope. And “Leaving Storybrooke” was a touching tribute to everything that came before and a final bow to this show, it’s sleepy little town and its inhabitants who came to mean so much to us hearing the “Storybrooke,” “Snow and Charming,” and “True Love” themes in new and lovely ways. These final moments were made ever more beautiful by the perfect musical ending.

1. “Time After Time”- Joseph William Morgan (Timeless)

Not only is the cover of this 80’s song perfect in the beautiful, melancholy and yet hopeful tone, but it also brings so much to scenes that would be already emotional from the images alone. Moreover, the song is the ideal choice to encapsulate what the show and the characters have been through. Yes the time travel aspect seems an obvious connection. But it’s more than that. The lyrics to the song reflect not only how they felt in their adventures through time, but how they all came to mean something profound to each other.”Caught up in circles/Confusion is nothing new/Flashback, warm nights/Almost left behind/Suitcases of memories/Time after Time/ If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me/Time after time/If you fall I will catch you/I will be waiting/Time after time.”These lyrics are a gorgeous reflection of what the “Time Team” is. Through all the confusion and nearly losing one another, they will always be there to catch each other if they fall, in love and friendship, time and time again. Always.

Relationships:

2. The Baudelaire Children (A Series of Unfortunate Events) tumblr_p1vp8zj1i61thu2vbo2_500

As I wrote in the 2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year, when you watch the story of the Baudelaire orphans “you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well. The three all have their special strengths that they utilize as they continuously must escape the clutches of Count Olaf surrounded by people who will not always listen, while trying to maintain their own courage, faith and humanity.” In the second season they face darker and darker times and encounter some of the most dangerous, and unfortunate events yet, and while things grow more murky and the children struggle to keep their hope, they manage to remember that there can be people who are altruistic and generous, that bravery may be difficult but not impossible, and to cling to each other because the bond of the family who truly love you is unbreakable.

1. The Time Team (Timeless) timeless 3

Although Season 2 may have featured a little less of the Season 1 “Time Team” in fact the still employed them a great deal. That is because the time team became more than a trio as the fight to take down Rittenhouse not only included Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus but now expanded to include fellow scientist Jiya, inventor Conor Mason, Agent Christopher, and former enemy Garcia Flynn, all working together and proving that heroism and salvation is never impossible and that family is not only defined by blood, but by those who we are willing to give our blood for.

Couples:

5. Randall and Beth Pearson (This is Us) randall beth

Although 2018 brought some unanswered questions and angst to the couple, Randall and Beth remain a beautiful example of a healthy, supportive and communicative relationship. They also have their fair share of romantic and oh so cute moments that show a real sweetness and understanding between the two. They are best friends who are crazy about each other and who wouldn’t want to aspire to that.

4. Jake and Claire (Happy Together) jake claire.gif

Another absolutely adorable couple who clearly are each other’s best friends, what make Jake and Claire such a joy to watch is not only the natural chemistry between the actors, but the way they fit together so well. They share similarities and differences that balance each other and bring out the best in each other. They also just bring so much humor and warmth to our screens.

3. Lucy Preston and Wyatt Logan (Timeless) lyatt

Every since The Pilot and Wyatt helped Lucy with her seat belt and called her ma’am, I just knew that we would be in for a great story. And while 2018 brought them turmoil, sadness and drama, after they finally admitted how much they mean to each other, the year ended with one final mission and coming together with forgiveness and true love. There may have been other’s they cared for, but for Lucy and Wyatt the only one they truly want to spend their lives with is each other. They found a family through their time travel adventures, and their love created one that honored those they lost. It was a beautiful to watch their love story reach its happy end.

2. Rebecca and Jack Pearson (This Is Us) jack rebecca

A unique aspect of This Is Us is seeing all of these characters and relationships at different stages of their lives. In 2018 we saw Rebecca and Jack at multiple ones, the most significant being when they first met and fell in love and when a fire resulted in Jack’s tragic death. It resulted in a wide spectrum of emotion not only for the characters but the audience as well as this couple proved to be the epitome of devotion, understanding and profound love. Moreover, what was beautiful to watch was the magical mystery of finding the one who is truly meant for you- an instant connection filled with both passion and sweetness, bringing forth feelings you have never felt before. Rebecca was able to find some form of happiness in her later life, but Jack and Rebecca were the love of each other’s lives- and that kind of love lasts forever.

1. Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont (A Discovery of Witches) bismont 4

A destined love story that can bring together people who were have always been on opposite sides, and one filled with passion, danger, tenderness, and beauty on epic proportions and quiet moments of real connection- that is the love story between Diana and Matthew that is part Shakespearean and part supernatural but all together lovely and mystical. The chemistry between the actors is palpable and a significant part of what makes this couple one of the greatest to grace our screens in years, along with the exquisite showcase of the way love makes us stronger and ignites our very souls.

and lastly, because I would never fail to include them if I could, with a tie for the top spot…

1. Emma Swan and Killian Jones (Once Upon a Time) captain swan

Their moments on screen together in 2018 may have been ever brief, but they were still was infused with the same radiance as moments with this exquisite couple of fairy tale beauty and relatable modernity always are. That is because a mere few moments with them shine brighter than all the stars that aligned that brought them together. In these moments they arrived late to a coronation dressed to the nines in true Emma and Killian fashion, with some wonderful additions- Killian in traditional pirate garb with a pink protector on his hook and Emma’s red jacket over a soft pink gown, a diaper bag thrown over her arm. That was because the most important addition for this couple was their baby daughter Hope, as well as a glow of happiness from another happy beginning. With simplicity and beauty and showcasing what makes them so special, in their last appearance on screen, Emma and Killian proved once again to be one of the finest couples to ever grace our screens.

Favorite Moments:

Special Recognition: Max tells DJ about Missing His Dad (Fuller House)

If there was one thing I thought that had not been touched upon enough in the first seasons of Fuller House it was how the death of their father affected the Fuller children. So I was pleasantly surprised that in perhaps the most touching moment of the series we see the middle child Max express how seeing other children with their fathers waiting to see Santa Claus brought out feelings that he had buried a great deal, and that he really misses him. Young Elias Harger is mostly giving sassy one liners, but this young boy has the ability to do more and I hope we see more grounded moments like this in the future.

5. Abe Weismann sees daughter Miriam performing stand up (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

abe

Some of the best moments of the second season of Mrs. Maisel came from the incomparable Tony Shalhoub’s Abe Weisman, most especially when he sees his daughter perform her stand-up comedy show. The first came as a complete shock to him and his daughter when he unexpectedly sees her take the stage at a club in the Catskills, and finds himself shocked, angry and confused. The second is when Midge performs on a telethon and as he hears laughter coming from a nearby apartment and he sees a young couple watching her, laughing at her performance. And there is this beautiful moment of recognition of not only her talent and the joy she is bringing to others, but that he may have been wrong in judging her. There is no doubt a long road still ahead, but this was a wonderful first step in their relationship.

4. Rebecca sings and Jack cries (This is Us) jack cries

In an episodes that shows the couple taking a road trip and slowly and surely falling in love, the final scene is a truly moving moment that showcased why these two souls were meant to be together. Earlier on their trip the two danced and Jack revealed that he never cried as he had to learn to bury his emotions when dealing with his father, while Rebecca went to a music producer full of hope that they may sign her to a record deal. When he picks up her, disappointed that her trip proved fruitless, we see that it did not for they had bonded and connected in a way that has changed their lives forever. As he called her “Bec,” something she had never been called that fell off his tongue naturally, he asks to hear her song. And while her insecurities are still fresh, she begins to sweetly sing her song, and Jack is so moved that tears fall from his eyes. This was the moment that was the end of life as they knew it. And that it came from something as simple as a song and few tears shed from a heart being touched is simply beautiful.

3. Matthew and Diana pledge their love for each other (A Discovery of Witches) bismontbismont 2

It did not take long for this witch and vampire to fall in love and when they did, they fell completely and deeply, forging an unbreakable bond- and two lovely moments epitomized this bond, the gravity of what they meant seen through the brilliant chemistry between Goode and Palmer and the aesthetics and specific aspects of their scenes. In the first, Matthew kisses her deeply for the first time after she recuperated from an overwhelming use of her magic, letting her know his feelings through his kiss and his action of taking her hand as they head to his home for safety. The second is when they undeniably express their love for one another, Matthew coming back to her and pledging that from that moment one they shall be one, intertwining their hands together and capturing her lips in a ardent kiss. It was an exquisite expression of love and devotion that only the finest performances and film making can accomplish.

2. A Final Mission/Montage (Timeless) timeless 4

When the series finale jumped ahead to see what the future held for the Time Team family, it was filled with heartfelt and moving moments from seeing how far Rufus and Jiya have gone in their careers, still happy and in love, to Lucy and Wyatt, happily married, living their best lives career wise and with twins named Amy and Flynn. How could one not shed tears over this. But it was their final mission to make sure Flynn still went on his journey in the same way- and yet it’s different, for there is more hope there. And as the musical montage began it was utter perfection. As said in the 2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year, ” The show’s ending montage set to Joseph William Morgan’s cover of the song “Time After Time” resulted in many a tear, as we watched the beautiful journey of all of these characters through time: The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists , inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes.  This moment was a exquisite showcase of what makes this show so profound, special, and above all Timeless.”

1. Emma and Killian’s happy ending with daughter Hope (Once Upon a Time) cs hope

In the final episode of the series, it was only fitting that much of the centerpiece of its final moments focused on the character whose journey started it all. Emma Swan and her husband Killian Jones may have gotten their happy beginning at the end of the previous season, but the show could not end with seeing their happy ending, as it not only encapsulates the end of an exquisite fairy tale but also what the show has always embodied. For it is ever apropos for two characters who found True Love and overcame even the darkest of times – and for the show’s main character- to name their daughter after the show’s most steadfast theme: Hope. In a world of their own, Emma and Killian loving looked down at their baby girl and gently leaned their heads against each other, as Emma took a contented breath in a well deserved moment of utter solace and joy with Hope in their hearts and their arms. It was a gloriously beautiful and perfect moment and last page in a truly magical storybook of the happiest ending of all.