Watching the news in this year's last trimester, you got the sense the world was going down in flames. Terrorism, mass-shootings, ludicrous presidential candidates, diplomatic malaise. The aftermath of some of these ailments gave way to memorable television moments. Other moments were reflective of important societal changes and changes of the guards. And others, were pure entertainment, even if for just 30 seconds.
Here, some of my most noteworthy television moments for 2015.
1. "... you'll be a man, my son."
After a decade of an often morose, close-minded and stale government, Canada voted for change. Regardless of one's political allegiance, the excitement of the last few days before the election was palpable. Justin Trudeau, the underdog and son of former PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau, became Canada's 23rd Prime Minister. Everything about him was different from his predecessor. It was evident in his acceptance speech. Here, its highlights:
2. "Separate, but equal."
Police brutality against blacks has always existed and it's always been a cancer in the United States. And frankly, it's insulting that it took citizens' video footage for a nation to finally believe what a community has been decrying for decades. It's vulgar that it took social media mobilization for mainstream media to pay attention to this plague. Protests in the streets, various movements and some police reforms ensued. But television remains the most powerful of mediums and these two excerpts were watershed moments in the aftermath of so much captured injustice:
Journalist and TV host Bryant Gumbel on Charlie Rose:
Baltimore's 35-year old State Attorney delivered a solid speech while announcing the charges against the policemen in the death of Freddie Gray. So many of her words chilled the blood like ice, while ringing more than true.
3. "Resistance is futile ... "
When I first heard of ABC's sitcom Blackish, I cringed. A show about race? Arrrgh. How backwards and divisive, I thought. "The Cosby was so great because it wasn't about race," I argued to anyone who would bring Blackish into the conversation. But look at Cosby now... not exactly a reference, is he?
Blackish has delivered some of the best sitcom television via smart dialogues, witty comebacks while brilliantly tackling dicey topics. One of which was the improbability of being both black and a Republican. Excerpt, here:
4. "Politics is dirty, oh so so dirty."
Some critics have said House Of Cards was loosing steam. When in fact, the slow and subtle development of each story gave viewers more intimate insights into the characters, like a sort of foreplay. There were delicious, pleasurable scenes and one-liners, like this last one, delivered by Claire Underwood -- who more than ever, was emotionless as an East-European gymnast.
5. "A Moveable Feast."
The Paris attacks affected people differently: there were as many reactions as there were people with personal memories of Paris. A common momentary cure for the sadness and the incomprehension was music. Various artists, various hommages. Like this one from Céline Dion who reminded everyone how grand and timeless "L'Hymne À l'Amour" is. If you're not moved by this performance, call the coroner and let him or her know that you're dead inside.
6. "Stewart and Springsteen."
2015 marked the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run": an album that captured Americana, its decline and struggles. Jon Stewart's The Daily Show also captured Americana. It was thus simply fitting to have the Boss close out John Stewart's last show as host of the show he made so popular. Fun fact: Springsteen also closed out Letterman, when the host moved his show from NBC to CBS, in 1993.
7. " 'Til Kingdom Come."
Vice-President Joe Biden lost his son, former Delaware Attorney general Beau Biden. Despite the celebrity/politico-filled funeral, the reality was that a family, not unlike yours nor mine, was burying a son, a brother, a husband, a father. Coldplay's Chris Martin played at the funeral -- which was broadcasted live on every American news channel.
8. "Licensed to Ill."
Rick Rubin is responsible for producing many of the songs on the soundtrack of my life. It's been fascinating seeing his transformation from a tracksuit-wearing young music maverick to becoming an Industry sage and zen-master. That transformation wasn't only interior and spiritual, it's also been physical. Seeing him is always a treat, like in this Sonos commercial;
9. "Amazing Grace."
I go to church, every other week. Not necessarily to attend mass but rather to find peace, solace and respite. My church, like all others, is a haven for all who need it. No one gets turned away, regardless of religion or creed. So even if you try to explain to me the shooting that took place in a Charleston church in June, I'll never understand it. At one of the victim's funeral, President Barack Obama broke into "Amazing Grace." Out of key, yes, but in tune with a grieving nation.
10. "Thank You And Good Night".
Without Letterman, there is no Kimmel, no Fallon, no Colbert, no Kilborn, no Conan. Contemporary late-night hosts lose me in their skits and anemic interviewing skills. Letterman started with too many skits, too many stupid-human tricks. But he rapidly crafted himself as a master interviewer which puts him apart and way ahead of his forever nemesis, Jay Leno. And it is those interviews I already miss. Even if it's in another format, in another medium, I hope Dave comes back. His goodbye:
11. "Au revoir Bruce, hello Caitlyn."
As a publicist, I can imagine the maneuvering that went into putting together the Diane Sawyer/Bruce Jenner interview: the conditions, the embargoes, the promo material, the whole shtick. But as a human I could only sob watching a father talk about his lifelong struggle and sufferings. This was a grand interview. It did what television should remember to do more often: educate. I deplore the exploitation that followed Caitlyn Jenner's coming-out, but that's pop culture and its ugly side.
12. " I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar."
I say it often: my yearly donation to PBS is some of my best spent money. Between its News Hour, Frontline, Charlie Rose and American Masters, the network continues to deliver award-winning television and it's difficult to pick one favourite moment or program. But American Masters: The Women's List was a fun and inspiring watch. Trailer:
13. "Oprah, forever and always."
In a world that too often fuels on cynicism, Oprah's OWN network has a purpose, more than ever. Its motto: "live your best life", is refreshing. Not all the shows on the network are winners and it's been disappointing to see it fall in the "reality TV" rabbit hole. Still, it has award-worthy programming. Two shows stand out. First, the series Belief. Even if you don't believe in anything and in no higher-power, the human stories presented and their resolve will bring you some faith in some things. In this excerpt, a grief-stricken father and daughter find solace at Burning Man:
The other stand-out is the excellent series Master Class. Everybody has a story and in fact, it is mostly extraordinary. Jeff Bridges, an actor I fancy, tells the story of how he met and fell for his wife. Fellow suckers for love and romance will love this:
14. "Because at the end, Love wins".
High-quality headphones and music by Charles Aznavour. This commercial is for the tech geeks, romantics and francophiles:
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