Spend all week trying to convince various family members that the world wasn't actually going to end on Friday? Here's what you missed on TV.
A Fitting Tribute
A day after the horrific shooting spree in Newtown, CT, Saturday Night Live opened its Christmas show, featuring host Martin Short and musical guest Paul McCartney, with a simple and beautiful tribute. A children's choir sang "Silent Night" on a darkened stage, followed by a brief moment of silence before the traditional "Live from New York!" cry. It was a poignant start to what turned out to be one of the funniest SNL episodes in years.
A Surprise Winner
The underdog won on Survivor this season, when sex therapist Denise Stapley took home the million dollars, beating out former teen star Lisa Whelchel (who won the fan favorite consolation prize) and accident-prone returning player Michael Skupin. Denise was my favorite player all season -- tenacious, physically strong, and playing a very smart social game -- so I was positive she had no chance of winning. Glad to see I was wrong.
The Return of Ozlow
Buffy the Vampire Slayer devotees finally got their wish on How I Met Your Mother when Seth Green reunited with Alyson Hannigan. Green played Daryl, an old college buddy that Lily (Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) run into on a visit to their alma mater, who seems strangely obsessed with his old friends and unwilling to move beyond the period when they were close. It gave Green a chance to play an amiably creepy, potentially psychotic character, at which he always excels.
Modern First Family
1600 Penn, created by former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett and Book of Mormon star Josh Gad, showed a sneak preview before debuting for real next month. The sitcom follows a dysfunctional but loving family led by President Dale Gilchrist (Bill Pullman) and his sardonic trophy wife Emily (Jenna Elfman). Gad's role as bumbling eldest son Skip is a little too broad right now, but Martha MacIsaac as tightly-wound (and newly pregnant) First Daughter Becca looks like she might be the show's emotional center. Fast-paced and funny, this may be NBC's first decent sitcom in a while.
Gossip Girl Revealed
Several years after anyone actually cared, the series finale of Gossip Girl finally revealed its heretofore anonymous blogger: turns out it was Brooklynite sad sack Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), the outsider constantly mocked as "Lonely Boy" in Gossip Girl's blog. His motivation, he claimed, was to edge himself into a world where he wasn't ever going to be fully accepted on his own merits. So wait, this whole time Gossip Girl has been Jay Gatsby?