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USA Today recommends Firefly for New Year’s Day

Thursday 1 January 2009, by Webmaster

Home for the holiday and looking for something (outside of Times Square) to smooth your way into the new year? Here are 9 for 2009: nine options available to buy, rent, download or otherwise locate to lead you out of 2008 and prep you for the year ahead:

•Mad Men. If you’re new to this terrific AMC drama, it obviously makes more sense to watch Season 1 before Season 2 (both on DVD), but either would provide a great New Year’s Eve marathon. The clothes, the hair and all the evidence of early-’60s prosperity may make you a little jealous, but the show is also a reminder that even good times bring more than their share of troubles.

•Shirley Temple movies. Don’t just sit around letting the almost-depression depress you. Turn instead to the child star who raised American spirits during the Great Depression. Pretty much any of Temple’s ’30s movies will do, but if you’re looking for one that encapsulates the "be optimistic" experience, try 1934’s Bright Eyes. It will either cheer you up or make you laugh at the idea that it cheered them up. And if the economy really gets worse, maybe we can persuade Temple to make a comeback.

•Preston Sturges movies. You watched Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Now watch some films from Sturges, a great comic contemporary whose movies were better at the time and seem even better with time. Where Capra corn-poned his way around problems, Sturges faced them head-on and forced you to laugh at them. If you have any doubts about his level-headed approach or modern appeal, just watch Claudette Colbert lecture Joel McCrea in 1942’s Palm Beach Story on the enduring importance of sex and money.

•Lost, 24 and Damages. All three return in January, so this is a good time to get reacquainted. If you want just one, go with 24, but only because it’s been gone the longest and requires more reacquainting.

•Firefly. If you’re a Joss Whedon fan, you’re no doubt eagerly awaiting Fox’s February premiere of Dollhouse. While you wait, content yourself with his last Fox series, the unfortunately underappreciated Firefly.

•His Girl Friday. Here’s proof that in Illinois, corruption is nothing new. One of the funniest movies ever made, 1940’s Friday is both alarmingly up-to-date and, in its quick-witted, uncowed, peculiarly American approach to authority, oddly comforting.

•Burke’s Law. Gene Barry stars as a fabulously rich playboy cop in this entertaining ’60s series, which now serves as a Hollywood time capsule. Every episode provides guest-spotting fun, from old stars like Gloria Swanson and Betty Hutton to pre-stardom "newcomers" like Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery. And Burke is just cool personified.