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Character gift guide 2011: pretend presents for pretend people

Christmas is on Sunday, and I've bought everything on my real list. Now all that's left is to shop for the fictional favorites on my annual character gift guide.

Leslie Knope, "Parks and Recreation": Campaign t-shirts. Now that her department has stepped up to run her campaign, Leslie is back on track for Pawnee's 2012 city council election. T-shirts are great promotional swag, especially since Leslie's name can be worked into some nice rhyming slogans, like "Leslie Knope is Pawnee's great hope" or "Don't be a dope. Vote Knope."

Daryl, "The Walking Dead": A motorcycle riding suit. Made of leather and Kevlar, these suits are great "zombie armor." They're tough, durable and won't hinder your movements when you're fleeing from hordes of the undead. Since Daryl is my favorite, I'd like him to stay alive as long as possible, and this will help his odds. Plus, he's a biker, so it will give him protection when he's riding from one ruined city to another.

Reagan and Chris, "Up All Night": Adam Mansbach's "Go the

F**K to Sleep." Reagan and Chris desperately want to remain hip despite having a child (unlike their neighbors, Gene and Terry), so this spoof of children's bedtime stories is a must for their bookshelf. It will show that, yes, they're parents, but no, they haven't lost their edge or sense of humor. They'll just have to hide it when Ava babysits because she'd probably actually read it to Amy.

Ben, "American Horror Story": A year's lease on an office. Ben has had bad luck working from home. One of his first patients was just scoping out the house so she and her friends could come back and recreate a murder. Then, he's questioned by the police after another patient disappears. Plus, it's where he met Tate, who was a catalyst in many of the bad things that happened to the Harmons. If he'd had an actual office, he could have avoided all this.

Earl, "2 Broke Girls": A turntable and speakers. Customer comment cards drew the critique that someone thought Earl was a DJ because of his headphones, so why not cash in on that? The diner's in Brooklyn, which is, as the girls are always pointing out, full of hipsters. A dive diner with an in-house DJ? That's like hipster catnip.

Dave and Max, "Happy Endings": Improv lessons at Second City. These are mainly for Dave, so when he gets comfortable performing, he can record a new commercial for his sandwich truck - one that actually makes it clear what his business is. But improv is more fun when you're with friends, and Max is the best match to tag along. Plus, maybe he can learn some useful improv skills for when scamming tourists in his fake limo tours of Chicago.

Evan, "Royal Pains": Waltz lessons. Now that he and Paige are engaged, he can start preparing for the wedding, however far in the future it may be. (They have her dad's Senate campaign to get through first, after all). You know it will be a lavish, very formal affair, so he might as well learn his ballroom moves for the first dance and get that out of the way.

Jeffster, "Chuck": Pro Tools software. Since the Buy More's closing up shop on Jan. 27, Jeff and Lester will need a new gig. With this, they can produce some original material (or record all their covers) and head out on a Burbank lounge tour to introduce the masses to their indescribable keytar rock. And when that fails, they can use it to produce albums for other flailing bands with big dreams and no talent.

The Chances, "Raising Hope": Kid leashes. Now that Hope is mobile, the Chances are going to need to keep tabs on her when they're out and about - and their attention spans aren't good enough for them to rely solely on watching her to keep her safe. Plus, they can use one for Maw Maw to keep her from wandering off like she so often does.

Tessa, "Suburgatory": A car. Nothing is a more fitting gift in her pretentious new suburban home, especially since, gasp!, she didn't get one for her Sweet 16. Plus, with a car, she could go back to visit NYC whenever she wanted. I'd go with a Mini Cooper; it's got some snob appeal to it, befitting the neighborhood, but it's more fitting for her than a Hummer or Escalade. And it'll be easier to park in the big city.

Bay, "Switched at Birth": Banksy's "Exit Through the Gift Shop," "Wall and Piece" and 2012 calendar. Bay fancies herself a guerilla street artist, secretly putting up works featuring her "Axe Girl" character around town, and Banksy is the most famous guerilla street artist there is. "Wall and Piece" is a collection of his best work, and "Gift Shop" is his Oscar-nominated documentary.

***

Weekend marathons

A&E: "The First 48," 7 a.m. and "Beyond Scared Straight," 5 p.m. Friday; "Dog the Bounty Hunter," 1 p.m. Saturday; "Criminal Minds," 5 p.m. Sunday.

Animal Planet: "Fatal Attractions," 9 a.m. Friday; "Planet Earth," noon Saturday; "Call of the Wildman," 5 p.m. Sunday; "The Haunted," noon Monday.

BBC America: Gordon Ramsay shows, 10 a.m. Friday; "Dr. Who," 12:01 a.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday; "Top Gear Top 40," 8 a.m. Monday.

Bravo: "The Millionaire Matchmaker," 6 a.m. Friday; "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," 6 a.m. Saturday; "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," 4 p.m. Sunday; "Inside the Actors Studio," 6 a.m. and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," 6 p.m. Monday.

Discovery: "Gold Rush," 9 a.m. Friday; "American Guns"/Sons of Guns," 9 a.m. Saturday; "MythBusters," 11 a.m. Sunday.

History Channel: "Swamp People," 4 p.m. Saturday; "American Pickers"/"Pawn Stars," 8 a.m. Monday (alternating).

Lifetime: "Wife Swap," 8 a.m. Monday.

MTV: "Teen Mom 2," 9:30 a.m. Saturday; "Awkward," 5 p.m. Monday (complete first season).

Oxygen: "Snapped," 1 p.m. Sunday; "The Bad Girls Club," 1 p.m. Monday.

Spike: "Jaws" movies, 9 a.m. Saturday; "1,000 Ways to Die," 1 p.m. Sunday; "Band of Brothers," 9 a.m. Monday.

Syfy: "Ghost Hunters," 9 a.m. and "Face Off," 3 p.m. Sunday; "Being Human," noon Monday (complete first season).

TLC: "Hoarding: Buried Alive," 6 a.m. Monday.

USA: "NCIS," 10 a.m. Saturday.

VH1: "100 Greatest Rock Songs," 6 p.m. Friday.

***

Series premieres: "Best in the Business," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery (workers vie for supremacy in their field); "Extreme Couponing All-Stars," 10 p.m. Tuesday, TLC (mega savers compete to be the thriftiest).

Season finales: "The X Factor," 8 p.m. today, Fox; "The League," 10 p.m. today, FX (one hour); "Project Accessory," 10 p.m. today, Lifetime; "Sanctuary," 10 p.m. Friday, Syfy (part one; possible series finale); "The Closer," 9 p.m. and "Rizzoli & Isles," 10 p.m. Monday, TNT (midseason).

Christmas specials (network only): "Disney's Prep & Landing," 8 p.m., "Prep & Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice," 8:30 p.m. and "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown," 9 p.m. today, ABC; "Shrek the Halls," 8 p.m., "Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation," 8:30 p.m., "Prep & Landing 2," 9 p.m. and "Kung Fu Panda Holiday," 9:30 p.m. Friday, ABC; "Olive, the Other Reindeer," 8 p.m. and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," 9 p.m. Friday, CW; "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," 8 p.m. Sunday, ABC.

Classic Christmas movies: "It's a Wonderful Life," 8 p.m. Saturday, NBC; 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" starts 8 p.m. Saturday, TBS; "Miracle on 34th Street," 8 p.m. Saturday, TCM.

W.Va. Christmas: "B.E. Taylor Christmas Concert," 8 p.m. Saturday, PBS2; Landau performs on "A Piers Morgan Christmas," 9 p.m. Saturday, CNN; "First Lady's Festival of Songs," 9 p.m. Sunday, KCS TV (high school show choirs perform, Suddenlink channel 17).

Specials: "CNN on the Frontlines," 8 p.m. Friday, CNN (reflections on covering 2011's big stories); "It Might Get Loud," 11 p.m. Friday, VH1 (rock documentary with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White); "Rudolph's Shiny New Year," 8 p.m. Monday, ABC; "Kennedy Center Honors," 9 p.m. Tuesday, CBS (with Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond and more).

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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