I for one, love being able to say the words “starring Tea’ Leoni” when writing a review for a new show. It’s been far far too long since Leoni last graced our screens, especially with me having recently come off a massive ‘The Naked Truth‘ binge watch last month (Leoni starred in the sitcom The Naked Truth).
That said, Leoni’s return to prime time TV is in a very different project that what some may be used to seeing her star in with Madam Secretary (premiering Thursday Oct 2nd on Channel 10).
Here’s the basic run-down of Madam Secretary… “Madam Secretary follows Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst now working as a history professor who, after the Secretary of Defense’s plane goes down over the Atlantic Ocean, is tasked by the President of the United States to take his place. Two months later, while still trying to learn the job she’s accepted, McCord must deal with an international incident that sees two American teenagers taken into custody by the Syrian government, and are on the verge of possible execution by their captors.”
I’m just going to put it out there…..my experience with political themed shows goes as far as Veep so I entered Madam Secretary with some trepidation of being incredibly bored and unable to really follow what’s going on, but with Madam Secretary, instead of being bombarded with political jargon (it’s in there still), we’re given an insight into the rigors of Elizabeth McCord’s sudden and not-so-tender foray into the choppy waters of of the presidents cabinet.
Between being leashed by the president, dealing with an over eager stylist, remembering the names of all 7 wives of the King of Swaziland and maintaining a normal home and family life, Elizabeth has a lot on her political plate.
Having already mentioned Leoni above, what I can add is that while Madam Secretary is leaps and bounds away from the screwball comedienne we were first introduced to in the late 90’s, Leoni’s perfect comedic timing and natural energy allows her to bring some light to otherwise dull scenes. Her on-screen husband played by Tim Daly is just as good as Henry McCord. As a religion and ethics professor, Henry is sort of the show’s moral center and from what I’ve seen, there to fill the gender flip role we’re normally used to see being played by a female actress. As per the norm with Daly, his on-screen chemistry with his leading ladies is second to none. From Laura Leighton in EYES to Kate Walsh in Private Practice and now Tea’ Leoni in Madam Secretary, Daly offers a flawless love-ability and strong companionship that plays well, especially with Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord.
The rest of the cast is filled with familiar faced actors including Bebe Neuwirth (Frasier) and Zeljko Ivanek (True Blood) who all help move the story along without too much fuss.
The pilot episode of Madam Secretary sets up what looks set to be a rather intriguing season-long arc (I won’t reveal what) with the mystery playing along-side weekly crisis that pop up for McCord to deal with. If done right and Leoni’s given enough room to do what she does best, Madam Secretary could have the chops to be the next West Wing meets The Good Wife.
Madam Secretary premiere’s Thursday October 2nd, 9pm on Channel 10
FRIENDS premiered 20 year ago this week in the US (Sept 22nd 1994), with the show and the cast still holding as strong today as they did back in 1994. From coffee shops to switching apartments, break-ups, hook ups, dinosaur bones and opposing thumbs, the show remains one of the biggest comedies and most-loved shows to have ever been created.
I call myself a die-hard Friends fan. I’ve seen every episode more than 10 times (with the exception of the finale as it get me too emotional!) and can pretty much retell each episode line for line (there’s an app called Quiz Up with a Friend trivia and Friends Quotes Trivia – try and beat me at it!) and so to celebrate the shows 20th anniversary, I’ve selected my personal top 20 episodes chosen from the 10 seasons the show ran for.
Now choosing only 20 episodes from a total of 238 episodes is no easy feat. I somehow thought I was doing a good job when I niggled that number down to just 120! A couple of hours a later, a few lists comprising of pros and cons and I’ve managed to whittle the list down to just 20……and thrown in a few honorable mentions to start us off!
Honorable Mention: The One With The Proposal Part 2 (S06E25) It’s all about the pay off at the end of this episode with the build-up of Chandler wanting to propose to Monica in the perfect way. There’s an almost break-up and the return of Monica’s ex Richard though when Chandler walks through that door and Monica drops to one knee….tears ensue!
Honorable Mention: The One With Rachel’s Big Kiss (S07E20) Rachel (or Rae Rae) tries to convince Phoebe she once kissed a girl played by Winona Ryder. This get’s an honorable mention purely for Phoebe’s quick thinking to Melissa’s question of “Were you ever in a sorority?” Plus any meniton of Regina Phalangie is a win!
20. The Last One Part 2 (S10E20) Of course, it’s only fitting to officially start this off with the last episode of the show. This final goodbye is one I’ve only ever watched once and will probably stay that way as, to this day, I still feel the tears welling up thinking about it! Ask anyone who’s a Friends fan about the final episode and the words “I got off the plane” will always come up. It’s that scene where Rachel surprises Ross by telling him she’s staying thus confirming our Ross and Rachel do end up together! Watch the final scene below.
19. The One Where Ross Can’t Flirt (S05E19) Oh it’s awkward, so so awkward! Smack bang, right in the middle of the show’s run, we’re given this little gem that let’s us all in on just how bad Ross is at flirting. His numerous attempts at trying to flirt with the pizza delivery girl (which includes talk of gas) is hilariously painful. Meanwhile the B story in this episode revolved around Joey re-creating his cut scenes from Law and Order for his Nona who doesn’t speak English. Check out some of Ross’s best work below!
18. The One With the Flashback (S03E06) After our first glimpse into the past back in season 2’s prom video flashback, we’re given a whole episode dedicated to life before Friends where Joey moves in with Chandler and hits on Monica, Ross discovers Carol is a lesbian and almost sleeps with Phoebe and even in the very final scene we see Rachel dreaming of hooking up with Chandler! Check out the Ross and Phoebe almost hookup below!
17. The One With Rachel’s Other Sister (S09E08) Clearly magic happened when Rachel’s sister Amy was created and presented to us in the form of Christina Applegate. So Rachel invites her sister to join them for Monica’s traditional Thanksging dinner only for Amy to pretty much insult each and every one in attendance. The final fight between the sisters makes for great television and one that many of us can identify with! Check out Rachel and Amy below.
16. The One With the Apothecary Table (S06E11) Two funny story lines sees Ross and Rachel lying to Phoebe about a stunning Apothecary table she bought from Poetry Barn as Phoebe hates the store (days of yore’ anyone?) along with Joey having to deal with his girlfriend and roommate Janine hating on Chandler and Monica. To be fair, this was one of Elle McPherson’s better episodes. Check out Janine Vs Monica below.
15. The One With Rachel’s New Dress (S04E18) Ross freaking out over girlfriend Emily spending time with his lesbian ex-wife in London, Rachel going to dinner with her date Joshua and his parents dressed in a negligee and Chandler and Joey fighting over who’s name Phoebe should pick as a name for one of the triplets!
14. The One With Free Porn (S04E17) Great mix between Phoebe discovering she’s pregnant with triplets and then trying to find a way to help Frank Jnr and Alice with the financial burden (I’m still waiting for The Relaxi Taxi!), Ross telling Emily her loves her right before she leaves for London (Thank-you) and Joey and Chandler discovering they have free porn on cable! Check out all the free porn below!
13. The One With the Cat (S04E02) This was the first time we got to see some real tension between Ross and Phoebe who clash over whether or not the spirit of Phoebe’s mother is residing in a cat that Phoebe found. The tension spills over to Ross and Rachel who have split up with a great scene involving Ross convincing Rachel her high school boyfriend Chip had left a message for her to call him (when it really was for Monica – who subsequently gets a ‘lipper from the Chipper’). Joey and Chandler are robbed leaving them with no furniture but a canoe.
12. The One With Ross and Monica’s Cousin (S07E19) Easily an episode that get’s lost in the myriad of greatness that was season 7, the mix of Monica working on a prosthetic foreskin for Joey (who has landed a role in a movie as a Catholic Italian immigrant in which nudity is required) and Ross and Monica’s cousin Cassie (Denise Richards) bouncing from friend to friend (including Phoebe) trying to find a place to stay without being stared at was at the tipping point for adult humor on Friends. Check out why Cassie had to keep moving below!
11. The One Where Monica Sings (S09E13) I must admit, whenever I hear Delta Dawn, I swear I can hear Monica’s voice somewhere off in the distance trying to hit those high notes. Sadly for Monica, her singing talents are outshone by her see-through top (which helped Mike get some great ‘tips”) while we get to see Joey in a mostly solo story where under the name of Chandler Bing, he goes to get’s his eyebrows waxed for new head shots. The humor here was offset by some Ross and Rachel drama when Rachel discovers Ross kept a message from her from a potential new love interest.
10. The One That Could Have Been Parts 1 and 2 (S06E15/16) I decided to be sneaky and throw in a double episode as one entry because they are both equally as great. Instead of another standard flashback, this time it’s a Sliding Doors type of episode where we get to look at what could have been had certain events never happened. Rachel being still married to Barry, Monica never losing the weight, Chandler quitting his job to become a writer, Ross never quitting Karate (or mainly not discovering that Susan was a lesbian) Joey never being fired from Days of our Lives and Phoebe taking a job with Merrill Lynch. In the end, it seems, regardless of the road taken, our Friends still wound up where they were in present time.
9. The One With Phoebe’s Wedding (S10E12) I love episodes where you can hear the audience “awww” or gasp like they do here when Phoebe takes off her coat to reveal a stunning wedding dress. Even watching that moment now get’s me a bit teary! The beauty with this episode is that it’s Phoebe doing something completely un-Phoebe and having a magical yet rather normal wedding. Our usually un-lucky in love Pheeb’s is getting married!
8. The One With the Video Tape (S08E04) While the Chandler and Monica post honeymoon story is a bit meh (people they met while on honeymoon, Greg and Jenny, gave them a fake number) it’s the Ross and Rachel and the night she fell pregnant story that really shines as each has a varying tale of whom came onto whom on the night. Thankfully Ross has it all on tape to reveal the truth that involves a story about backpacking through Western Europe!
7. The One With the Boobies (S01E13) It’s all about our friends getting to know our other friends a little bit better as a chain of surprise nudity, or tit for tat, begins after Chandler accidentally see’s Rachel’s nippular area – much to the jealousy of Ross. This episode was also the only time we got to see Joey’s parents.
6. The One With Ross’s Tan (S10E03) Easily, this episode is all about Jennifer Coolidge as Phoebe and Monica’s annoying friend Amanda who’s returned from a long stint in London (with terrible fake accent in tow) and tries to rekindle the friendship while unknowingly letting out some old truths from a long time ago. Monica and Phoebe trying to avoid Amanda and subsequently trying to deal with Amanda give some of the funniest moments from the final season. Check out Amanda and her many ‘talents’ below.
5. The One With the Rumor (S08E09) Seeing Brad Pitt play opposite then wife Jennifer Aniston still makes for great viewing today. As an old school friend of Ross and Monica’s, Will is invited to thanksgiving dinner but is upset when he discovers they are still friends with Rachel who used to tease him about his weight. It’s one of the few episodes a guest star was given great scenes and lines. Check out Will below.
4. The One With the Nap Partners (S07E06) Joey and Ross story lines were few and far between throughout the seasons, but here, they take center stage as they discover nap time with each other results in the best nap ever while they also help to determine who out of Phoebe and Rachel get’s to be Monica’s main of honor. The B story involved Monica discovering Chandler broke up with his summer-camp girlfriend because she was fat.
3. The One With the Prom Video (S02E14) See, he’s her lobster! Our first ever look back at friends before friends with Rachel and Monica getting ready for prom. We see Rachel pre-nose job, Monica before she lost all the weight and Ross rocking a wicked perm and majorly crushing on Rachel. What really makes this episode though (and what has been leading up-to ever since The One With the List) is Rachel seeing Ross prepared to step in as her prom date at the last moment only to be left behind as Chip arrives to take her to the prom resulting in a kiss that we had all been waiting for, for a very long time!
2. The One Where Everybody Finds Out (S05E14) Easily sitting at number two, this Phoebe and Chandler led story line see’s the shows two funniest characters battling it out in a romantic competition to see whom cracks first. Chandler and Monica’s secret relationship is on the line, they want to keep it secret, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel want the truth to be revealed.
1. The One Where No One’s Ready (S03E02) When compiling this list, or anytime I think about great Friends episodes, this one always comes to mind. An episode that is filmed entirely in Monica and Rachel’s apartment (minus the end credit scene) see’s Ross struggle to get everyone ready to attend a black-tie event at the museum where he works in which he’s presenting a speech. From Monica still recovering from her breakup with Richard to Rachel not knowing what’s the appropriate outfit to wear, Phoebe disguising a hummus stain with an over sized Christmas decoration to Chandler and Joey fighting over a chair, The One Where No One’s Ready is the perfectly written and acted Friends episode full of laughs and that’s why it sit’s at my number one spot.
Do you have a favorite episode? Sound off in the comments below!