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SideReel's Guide to Travel (Television)

The dead of winter is a tough time! The post-holiday glow has turned into a monthlong hangover, you don't want to use up your vacation time yet, and it's too cold to do much of anything except hide under a blanket. But fret not, SideReelers! We've put together a list of our favorite travel-themed episodes just for you. So go ahead; substitute the warmth of your television for the warmth of the sun, and hide away until spring.     An Idiot Abroad  S2E7: Mount Fuji Karl Pilkington (the ornery producer of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's radio series) was sent around the world—three times—on  An Idiot Abroad . He hated every minute of it. But out of his irritation and confusion often came somewhat profound statements. HIs trip to Japan's Mount Fuji allows for quite a bit of demented-yet-beautiful introspection. Upon reaching the summit, he utters in wonderment what so many have probably thought about accomplishing any great feat: "I've done it, haven't I? Completed it. But I feel like shit, even though... that's amazing... I feel like shite."   Friends  S4E23: The One With Ross's Wedding Travel episodes are designed to take well-known characters out of their comfort zones—something that's especially necessary when we only really see them on three or four sets.  Friends  did a number of travel episodes for this very reason, but this two-parter, set in London for (one of) Ross's (many) wedding(s) upped the ante for everyone (Monica and Chandler have sex! Rachel crashes the ceremony! Phoebe's stuck at home and super pregnant!), while also offering a delightful montage of all things British (set to the iconic "London Calling" ) as well as appearances by billionaire Richard Branson, the Duchess of York, and a pre- House Hugh Laurie.   Modern Family  S1E23: Hawaii Pity the Pritchetts, pretty please. Phil and Claire might live a charmed life now, but they never did get their perfect wedding or honeymoon. Phil (hapless though he is) wants to change that on their family trip to Hawaii. Anyway, the rationale is really beside the point, as what this episode does is show us what a vacation at a luxe Hawaiian resort is like. Spoiler alert: It's really nice. Sure, Haley flirts with boys and gets drunk and Cam and Mitchell lose Lily, but those are just hijinx. In the end, it's hard not to be squarely focused on those vistas and infinity pools. Hmm, how much is a flight to Hawaii anyway?   Parks and Recreation  S5E1: Ms. Knope Goes to Washington Leslie Knope's perky enthusiasm for everything government couldn't possibly have a better showcase than this episode which finds her and office dullard Andy visiting Washington D.C. to visit their respective paramours, Ben and April. And you know what? D.C. benefits from their earnestly happy mid-westernness, especially in contrast to its usual televised portrayal as a dark hellhole teeming with evil. Cameos by actual lawmakers (Senators Boxer, Snowe, and McCain) give the impression that it's just that easy to bump into the powers that be when in the nation's capital, but let's be honest: It'd be way more exciting to meet Knope.   Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations  S1E2: Iceland Only masochists (and your editor) vacation in Iceland in the winter. It's pitch-black for all but four hours per day, and there isn't much to do but eat, drink, and sit in the hotsprings. Actually, I'm totally unclear as to how that's not an ideal vacation. Anthony Bourdain would seem to agree with me, it seems. In this second episode of his landmark Travel Channel series, the man enjoys all the hospitality of this tiny Viking nation, and delves into its particular delicacies—including Hákarl , Iceland's famous fermented shark.     It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia  S5E2: The Gang Hits the Road The most difficult part of traveling is, well, the traveling aspect. Once you get where you're going it's bliss—or at least it should be. The Gang being The Gang, though, they never actually make it to their destination. They get sidetracked by the requirements of Dee's bladder, the wonders of Philadelphia's Italian Market (where Charlie tries a pear for the first time and is... underwhelmed to say the least), and the fact that they're all just too damn lazy to do the work of driving. But why leave Philadelphia anyway? At least that's what I keep asking myself.   Bones  S9E7: The Nazi on the Honeymoon There's nothing more singularly irritating on a vacation than a workaholic. Unless that workaholic is Temperance Brennan and the vacation is her long-awaited honeymoon with new husband Seeley Booth. Why see the sights of the Paris of South America (or Buenos Aires, Argentina, as it's formally known) when you can go to the city morgue and get involved in Nazi hunting? I mean, that's the most romantic getaway I can think of. Besides, how many beaches can you sit on before you yearn to be reunited with your bonesaw?   The Simpsons  S7E20: Bart on the Road "The Simpsons are going to [place name]," is a timeworn plot device on this past-its-prime series, but this Bart-centric episode from the seventh season will never cease to be gut-bustingly funny. Through a convoluted series of events, Bart, Millhouse, Nelson, and Martin end up with a rented car, and decide to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to see the Sunsphere —which turns out to be a decrepit tower filled with wigs. I'd say something about the destruction of the Sunsphere being a metaphor for what happened to this once-great series, but you know what? Let's just bask in the glory of its heyday.   Leah E. Friedman  is the editor of SideReel.com. She once traveled to Sweden in February. You can follow her musings on  Twitter .

'The Simpsons' pays tribute to Hayao Miyazaki with animated hallucination

"The Simpsons" is no stranger to homages to pop culture in their couch gags, with "Breaking Bad" being a prime example, but in Sunday's (Jan. 12) episode, the series dedicated a portion of the story to someone special.During the episode "Married to the Blob," Homer and a new friend have what looks like a wine-induced hallucination that lands them in an anime version of Springfield. In reality, the sequence is a tribute to legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement from Studio Ghibli back in September.The scene is filled with references to his various movies, including "Princess Mononoke," "Kiki's Delivery Service," "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away." His final film, "The Wind Rises," will be released in U.S. theaters on February 21.Take a look at the scene above to see how many of the references you recognize. The three-headed bully dragon is pretty fantastic.... http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2014/01/the-simpsons-pays-tribute-to-hayao-miyazaki-with-animated-hallucination.html

‘The Simpsons’ Sneak Peek: Homer Wanders Into an Anime World

“I am ruined by whimsy!” Apu declares in an adorable clip from this week’s episode of  The Simpsons . After drinking too much snake wine (and an aquarium), Homer finds himself in an anime style delirium that would make Hayao Miyazaki proud. Highlights include a walking Kwik-E-Mart, a cat bus and ghostly figures. The stylized sequence is a beautiful homage to the genre. The entire episode is an ode to comic books as The Comic Book Guy takes a wife. Comic book legends Stan Lee and Harlan Ellison guest star. Watch the sequence below, as well as interviews with Lee and Ellison about their roles. Read More... http://www.tvequals.com/2014/01/09/the-simpsons-sneak-peek-homer-wanders-into-an-anime-world/

TV ratings: 'The Simpsons' gets a big boost from NFL Sunday, 'Revenge' returns higher

Fast National ratings for Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014The first round of the NFL playoffs gave FOX a huge bump Sunday, as the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers ate up an hour of primetime. After the game, "The Simpsons" delivered its best ratings in a long time, and the rest of the network's animated shows were up as well.Also Sunday, "Revenge" returned to its best 18-49 rating in three months for ABC, and a "Bachelor" preview special did OK. NBC began the post-NFL part of its season with "Dateline" and a Jimmy Fallon special, which drew decent numbers. "The Good Wife" and "The Mentalist" were in line with their most recent airings for CBS.FOX drew 17.75 million viewers and a 9.9 rating/15 share in households Sunday, pending updates for the live NFL broadcast. CBS (8.3 million, 5.3/8) came in second. NBC (5.8 million, 3.6/5) and ABC (5.795 million, 3.6/5) finished in... http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2014/01/tv-ratings-the-simpsons-gets-a-big-boost-from-nfl-sunday-revenge-returns-higher.html

Judd Apatow Likes Working for The Simpsons

In 2012, Judd Apatow revealed that The Simpsons will produce a spec script he wrote 30 years ago , when he was first getting started. Well, today, in anticipation of appearing as himself on this Sunday's episode, he spoke with EW about it . The plot: "The family goes to a hypnotism show and the hypnotist has a heart [attack]. But at the show, he made Homer think he was 10 years old so they have to leave the show with Homer thinking he’s 10. It’s about Bart and Homer becoming best friends because they’re the same age, and then Homer doesn’t want to be revived because he’d rather be 10 than have adult responsibility." (It sounds a bit like the classic season-twelve episode "HOMR," but a bit more Apatowian, in its man-child focus.) He explained that he will be part of the rewriting process, offering notes and input after the staff does their rewrites. Adding that the changes the staff has already made "blew [his] mind" and that "we never should take  The Simpsons  for granted. It really sets the bar for everybody." "Don’t take The Simpsons for granted" is a good and achievable resolution.   http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/judd-apatow-likes-working-for-the-simpsons.html

The Simpsons Season 25 Episode 9 “Steal This Episode”

The Simpsons  Season 25 Episode 9 “Steal This Episode” airs Sunday January 5, 2014 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Episode Synopsis:  The Simpsons Season 25 Episode 9 “Steal This Episode” – Homer becomes annoyed with movie theaters, so Bart teaches him how to download movies illegally. Homer is delighted with his discovery of free movies until he’s caught for piracy in the all-new “Steal This Episode” episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, Jan. 5 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Read More... http://www.tvequals.com/2014/01/05/the-simpsons-season-25-episode-9-steal-this-episode/

'The Simpsons' adds Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum and more for 'Steal This Episode'

Finally, "The Simpsons" is going to tackle the topic of internet piracy and to do it, they're enlisting an all-star roster of guests. FOX has announced that the animated series will return January 5 with "Steal This Episode," with Paul Rudd and Channing Tatum among the names lending their voices.In the episode, Homer is banned from Springfield's movie theater, so Bart teaches him how to download movies. He then gets the bright idea to open his own backyard movie theater, which doesn't sit well with Marge. She tries to pay Hollywood back for the stolen films, but ends up getting an FBI agent (Will Arnett) involved, causing the Simpsons family to go running from the law.Other celebrities appearing in the episode are Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Leslie Mannand Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford. "The Simpsons" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.... http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/12/the-simpsons-adds-paul-rudd-channing-tatum-and-more-for-steal-this-episode.html

TV ratings: 'Survivor' finale steady Sunday, 'Family Guy' rises with NFL help

Fast National ratings for Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013The finale of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" was about even with the show's finale in the spring, but that was only good for third place in Sunday's ratings. NBC and FOX led the way thanks at least in part to NFL games.NBC's "Sunday Night Football" was below average, but it still led its three hours of primetime for the network. FOX's animated shows got a big boost from an afternoon NFL game that ate up nearly an hour of primetime, giving "The Simpsons," "Bob's Burgers" and "Family Guy" their best numbers of the season. ABC's "Once Upon a Time" and "Revenge" went the other way, dropping some from last week.Numbers for NBC, FOX and CBS will all change some with updates for NFL telecasts (CBS primetime started a few minutes late in some markets). As things stand now, though, NBC (12.2 million viewers, 7.5/12 households) leads the way,... http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/12/tv-ratings-survivor-finale-steady-sunday-family-guy-rises-with-nfl-help.html

'The Simpsons' Christmas couch gag has Mrs. Krabappel as an angel

"The Simpsons" is covering all of its holiday bases with the next couch gag, which will air before Sunday's (Dec. 15) episode, "White Christmas Blues." The entire opening has been redone with a Christmas theme, though there are shout outs to pretty much every December holiday on the calendar, including Festivus.There's also a nice tribute to those in the "Simpsons" family who died in 2013, star Marcia Wallace (Mrs. Krabappel) and writer Don Payne. They both appear as angels, among the citizens of Springfield. It's the second tribute to Wallace, after Bart wrote a single "We'll really miss you, Mrs. K." on the chalkboard during the Nov. 3 episode."The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.... http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/12/the-simpsons-christmas-couch-gag-has-mrs-krabappel-as-an-angel.html

The Simpsons Season 25 Episode 8 “White Christmas Blues”

The Simpsons  Season 25 Episode 8 “White Christmas Blues” airs Sunday December 15, 2013 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Episode Synopsis:  The Simpsons Season 25 Episode 8 “White Christmas Blues” – Springfield is inundated with holiday revelers after the nuclear power plant springs a radiation leak, causing snow to fall all over town. When the tourists drive up Christmas shopping prices, Marge (Julie Kavner) opens up the Simpsons’ house to boarders in the all-new “White Christmas Blues” episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, Dec. 15 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Read More... http://www.tvequals.com/2013/12/15/the-simpsons-season-25-episode-8-white-christmas-blues/