September 2008


The Wife:

After last week’s community college pamphlet incident, Leonard and Penny have decided to move on. Penny, evidently, has moved on a lot more quickly than Leonard, as the boys discover when they run into Penny and her new beau in the hall on their way home from The Word’s Most Historically Inaccurate Renaissance Faire, so proclaimeth Friar Sheldon.

only 8 months until Comic-Con.

Look at it this way guys: only 8 months until Comic-Con.


I have several things to say, as a sometime enjoyer of Renaissance Faire and lover of Renaissance drama, regarding Sheldon’s remarks about the historical in/accuracy of the Faire he and his friends attended. To begin with, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, hosted in Southern California at an old army base in Irwindale, CA (20 miles East of L.A.), does indeed adhere to a particular period of time. The company that produces this fair and the NorCal Faire construct their faire around the Elizabethan period, a time when England was flourishing and was open to global exploration. That is why, at Faire, participants are encouraged to dress in the traditional garb of any country that would have been in contact with England at the time. That’s why you will see people in Irish garb as well as English, in high Italian court garb and, yes, you will even see Arabian traders, gypsies and Asian merchants. How else would one be able to have tea, coffee or spices without them? Sheldon complains that participants were decked out in more medieval garb than Renaissance, which frankly seemed to be an offense perpetrated by Sheldon and Company, with Leonard in chain mail and a crushed velvet jerkin clearly purchased from a Halloween Store along with Sheldon’s own monastic garb. People who love Renaissance Faire and go in costume do so accurately, or at least more accurately than the costume shop crap each of our geeks were wearing. Only Raj had on something vaguely historically accurate, except for the fact that inside that suit was an Indian man. Good job, Chuck Lorre. Way to make a fucking point.

Furthermore, if Sheldon is really as smart as he thinks he is, then he would know that “ye olde” anything is pronounced “the old,” as “y” is the runic symbol for the phoneme “th.” I’m sure a lot of the physics mentioned on this show is wildly inaccurate, but I’m not a physicist so I certainly wouldn’t have noticed. I am, however, a linguist and if you’re gonna talk shit in my town, you better know what’s waiting for you. You and me, Sheldon, we’re gonna have an Old English/Middle English/Early Modern English smackdown.

Anyway, my defense of Renaissance Faires aside, Penny’s new boyfriend means that I get to see Sarah Gilbert again! Hooray!

Leslie Winkle, Leonard’s one-time fuck buddy, decides that she’s tired of waking up in a bed full of strangers and wants to begin having real relationships with people. She suggests that she and Leonard have a real date, ending in “light petting, no coitus.” Leonard agrees, which means that Sheldon, Leslie’s arch-nemesis, must go somewhere else while Leonard hosts his date in their mutual apartment. This drives Sheldon to mope on the staircase with vintage Super Mario Brothers games on his lap top (a laptop I have, mind you).

Its amazing how many supervillans have advanced degrees. --Sheldon

"It's amazing how many supervillans have advanced degrees." --Sheldon


Penny somehow gets Sheldon to realize that he’s enabling his friend to do something that makes him very unhappy and that if Leonard were really Sheldon’s friend, Leonard would consider how his relationship with Penny impacts Sheldon, which ultimately leads to the two mortal enemies embroiled in an argument about loop theory vs. string theory.

Leslie and Leonard’s relationship dissipates the minute Leonard refuses to adhere to Leslie’s loop theory argument, noting that, like Sheldon, he prefers his space a little more stringy. Leslie breaks up with him over this, as believing in string theory over loop theory is her relationship deal breaker. To her credit, I’m glad her dealbreaker is something important, rather than, say, wearing socks to bed or liking ABBA.

The Husband:

I must point out that Sheldon was not, in fact, playing a vintage Super Mario Brothers game, as I don’t think that the N64 is technically vintage yet. (I know my wife. She meant old Nintendo. So she is wrong I say! Wrong!) What he was playing was “Super Mario 64,” the one game that everybody loves and I happen to despise. Believe me, I’ve given it multiple chances, and I just don’t like it. I prefer my Mario games to be side-scrolling, and if a game designer is to advance that platform (a platform of a platform game), they do something like Nintendo’s “Super Mario Brothers 3” or the Super Nintendo’s “Super Mario World” (a personal favorite). Props to the sound designer who grabbed the actual “game paused” sound effect for this episode.

On a less geeky note, I know this is a major stretch, but does anyone want to take bets that Sheldon and Penny may overcome their differences and might indulge in a little romancing by season’s end? I know creator Chuck Lorre doesn’t really care for overarching stories (curse you, Two and a Half Men!), but something tells me that I may not be far off. I can’t be the only person to consider this plot twist, can I?

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The Wife:

Last season, we left Chuck dangling on the precipice. And that’s how this season began, both literally and figuratively. Literally, Michael Clarke Duncan had Chuck’s ass out a window. Figuratively, with the new Intersect coming online in a matter of hours, Chuck’s purpose in the spy world seemed to be potentially at an end, allowing him to return to a normal life . . . at the Buy More.

Knowing that it may no longer be necessary for Chuck Bartowski to moonlight as Charles Carmichael, Super Spy, Chuck begins to contemplate exactly what he wants out of life. Should he take the assistant manager job he’s been offered at the Buy More, potentially committing himself to retail hell for the rest of his days? Or should he follow Ellie’s advice and pick up where he left off: finally finishing college and beginning a more adult career, with some potential road trips to Europe included? Should he turn his fake relationship with Sarah into a real relationship?

Oh, yes, I see. There are a lot of irregular plurals on this menu. Im fine with some rice. I really have no need for rices.

Oh, yes, I see. There are a lot of irregular plurals on this menu. I'm fine with some rice. I really have no need for rices.

However, the NSA and the CIA seem to have other plans for the newly retired Chuck. As his brain is still filled with government secrets, he cannot be let free to live life as he chooses. Instead, Casey has to kill him. This is not an easy assignment for Casey, who despite his harsh exterior seems to have warmed to Chuck and doesn’t really want to kill the guy. This doesn’t stop him, however, from preparing to follow orders to doing a little target practice with a silencer in his apartment, shooting a row of ducks that include Hitler, his beloved President Reagan (it was a test, he didn’t shoot Reagan) and Chuck . . . the only target Casey can’t quite hit.

Chuck, riding the high of potential freedom, turns down the assistant manager job at the Buy More and, as punishment, must conduct interviews for the other candidates, which basically consist of the rest of the Nerd Herd. Morgan, ever Chuck’s personal assistant, helps facilitate the interviews and also comes up with an amazing video game attack plan to launch on the Buy More’s sworn enemy, Large Mart. Chuck heads over to Sarah’s new place of business, Orange Orange, which is Pinkberry, but orange, to ask her on a real, live date. We got a huge kick out of the music that they play over this scene in our new Weinerlicious upgrade: Flight of the Conchords’s “Foux Le Fa Fa,” which we posted in an ANTM write-up the other week.

On Chuck’s ill-fated date with Sarah, Casey, who nearly died when the Intersect was stolen by Fulcrum agents, comes to drag them both out of harm’s way when Michael Clarke Duncan comes to capture them. Casey and Sarah embark on a venture to retrieve the stolen Intersect, thinking that Chuck will be safer if he stays home. Unfortunately, Michael Clarke Duncan lures Chuck to his warehouse by calling the Buy More for Nerd Herd assistance. Good move, criminals.

Chuck outwits MCD and crew by putting on his Charles Carmichael act and employing the specifics of Morgan’s Large Mart assassination plan to trick them into thinking that they’re surrounded on all sides. I’m glad Morgan has time to confirm such details while he presides over the Assistant Manager Cagematch. With the bad guys thoroughly distracted, Chuck manages to escape with the Intersect . . . until Michael Clarke Duncan catches him and defenestrates him.

Luckily, Casey was there to catch Chuck’s fall, proving that Adam Baldwin will always, always be the best bodyguard ever.

The trio escape with their lives and the Intersect, and arrest MCD and his cronies. Chuck, thinking that the new Intersect is safe, tries to have a second date with Sarah as Agent Casey lurks in the shadows of Chuck’s house, waiting to complete his mission. Unfortunately for Chuck, Sarah arrives at the house bearing bad news: their date has been cancelled because the Intersect was a bomb planted by Fulcrum, killing everyone in the room the minute it went online. Casey is relieved that he doesn’t have to kill Chuck, and Chuck returns to the Buy More under the watchful gaze of the new assistant manager, Lester.

I think we all knew that the show’s central conceit could not be destroyed in this episode, but regardless, this was a really interesting look at Chuck’s emotional response to his work, skillfully punctuated by the hip sounds of Huey Lewis and the News not once, but twice.

The Husband:

I forget which online TV critic pointed this out, but Josh Schwartz has done something very special juggling two shows at once. Between Gossip Girl and Chuck (as well as his earlier series The O.C.), he has made completely different shows with their own unique fingerprints. Whereas Seth MacFarlane’s shows all seem like Seth MacFarlane shows, and all Shonda Rhimes shows seem like Shonda Rhimes shows, Schwartz does what is best for the respective show instead of merely serving his ego.

Chuck is a very special case, a comedy-action hybrid that finds a great balance – there’s that word that I use again, “balance” – between its many different inspirations and makes its own unique fingerprint, a savvy and witty mixture of big-budget thrillers and goofy pop culture-heavy references. I love pretty much every aspect of it from the cast to the production design – L.A. has never looked cooler on TV in my opinion – and while the show isn’t worthy of an “A” rating, it skirts dangerously close every once in a while.

The glue that holds it all together is Zachary Levi, a tall, lanky, entertaining self-proclaimed nerd who seems like the coolest guy ever. (Last week on Conan he demonstrated his iPod’s special Star Wars lightsaber feature, then proceeded to fake cut Conan’s head off with said device.) Adam Baldwin, too, is very comfortable in this world, and I am very glad to say that Chuck breaks his vicious showkilling streak. (Seriously, three cancelled TV shows in a row? That’s rough.)

Last night we finally saw Chuck become comfortable as a secret agent, for once not merely relying on the Intersect in his brain and then letting his handlers do all the grunt work, but actually getting right in on the action and using his own geek knowledge to outwit Michael Clarke Duncan (who seems to have lost a great deal of weight since The Green Mile but still looks like he can tear your head off with ease). This is a good direction for the show, now that Chuck more fully understands the responsibility of his position with the CIA and the NSA, as the action elements of the show – which can sometimes flag in some of the worse episodes – can now be more fully realized.

But nerd humor is where I get the most kick out of the show. The Assistant Manager Cagematch was a big take-off on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, complete with the fighters bounding on bungee cords from the ceiling. They didn’t go all the way to saying which employee was Master Blaster, but I guess in the end Master Blaster was Jeff, since Lester was victorious and thus making him Mel Gibson.



The Wife:

Is it odd that I’m a vegetarian and found the various descriptions of delicious meat patties in this episode to be completely hilarious? Especially because so many of them were so sexual in nature? Let me first share a few of my favorite “burgasams:”

  • “Meat Christmas.” – Lily
  • “You deserve a triumphant mouthful of meat.” –Lily
  • “I’m never brushing my teeth again, unless it’s with a toothbrush made of meat.” –Ted
  • “I think I just had my first burgasm.” –Lily
  • “I want to get this burger pregnant.” – Barney
  • “If he does get that burger pregnant, I call dibs on the delicious burger babies.” –Marshall

Obviously, this episode centers on Marshall’s quest to relive the moment when, eight years ago as a new New Yorker, he finally left his apartment and experienced the best burger of his life. But the quest is about more than finding the perfect burger. For Marshall, it’s a chance to relive a moment from his youth, when he was free from real responsibilities and had his whole life ahead of him. Now, Marshall has been beaten down by The Man, saddled with his wife’s credit card debt, a crooked apartment and a complete inability to find the job of his dreams practicing environmental law. (Clearly, moving to West Virginia to lobby against mountaintop removal mining would be entirely out of the question.) Marshall is so unhappy and lacking in confidence that he spends his days wallowing in the apartment pantless. This was cute at first, Lily proclaims, but it just became sad as Marshall’s Underpants Radius began to encroach on the outside world: first it was answering the door pantless, then getting the mail and soon Marshall was going out to dinner with his wife, wearing only his boxer shorts.

That’s exactly what it was like when my husband didn’t have a job. Only he assures me he always put on pants to get the mail.

Barney spends the course of the episode shamelessly promoting the new bank his company acquired in a ruthless and hostile take over, Goliath National Bank. I felt like this subplot was rather ill-timed, given the current financial crises, but that’s not something that could have been helped as the episode was written and wrapped months ago. Barney gets a lot of small great moments over the course of this episode, including his Carnac impression, showing of Neil Patrick Harris‘ glorious singing voice by belting out the GNB jingle and, of course, doing a Regis Philbin impression in the presence of the Reeg himself. Ultimately, Barney’s hard-sell of GNB leads to the former home of Marshall’s self-proclaimed “Best Burger in New York,” where now sits a GNB ATM, right between the taxidermist and the XXX bookstore.

“Name two places where things get stuffed.” –Barney Stinson

Marshall then reveals to the gang that he has decided to take the job at GNB that Barney offered him earlier in the episode, finally realizing that, while it isn’t what he really wants to do, it’s what he needs to do right now. He still gets to practice law, and with the money he makes (and benefits!) from the job, he and Lily can finally bail themselves out of their massive debts and fix their money pit of an apartment in Dowisetrepla. This is a very adult move for Marshall, and probably the most adult decision I’ve seen anyone make over the course of the series. We’ve all had to make that decision: to do what’s best for ourselves and our families, rather than striving so hard to do exactly what we want to do. “You know,” Marshall says, “I also want to be a Harlem Globetrotter and get paid in candy,” but he clearly realizes that taking the job at GNB is the right – and adult – thing to do. After all, it is a reason to put on pants in the morning.

Regis tests his new game show Million Dollar Hamburger.

Regis tests his new game show "Million Dollar Hamburger."

The Husband:

When I got wind that this fourth season of my favorite comedy on television was going to do more self-contained episodes and move slowly away from their more serialized seasons, I cried foul on another TV website’s bulletin board. I felt that the strength of HIMYM itself was that it had a better progression than other shows, and that in order to get a feel for true character motivations, you really had to watch the episodes in order. HIMYM isn’t the first show to do this, but it’s certainly a lot better than something like, I don’t know, Friends. (*shudder*)

With this episode, I intend to put a bib on and eat at least a few of my words. I was worried that the more self-contained structures would limit what we loved about the characters – their growth, their stories, their complicated lives. It’s not a regular series, and I never wanted it to become one. It’s something more than that, more dramatic, more romantic, etc. But it’s also a gut-bustingly funny show, so I’m delighted to have other people see how hilarious this show can actually get. This episode worked extremely well, and while it didn’t have a whole lot of relation to the season premiere – no Stella appearance, no reference to Barney’s love for Robin – it had a great energy that I hope can bring the show more viewers over the next few months.

And yes, wife, when I was unemployed I still did put on pants to get the mail, but in all fairness they were pajama pants. But my underwear radius is not, like Marshall, in a negative correlation to the time of my unemployment. My radius will always stop at the front door.


As mentioned in our recent post on My Name Is Earl and The Office, we, the Children of Saint Clare, are condensing both NBC’s Thursday night comedy line-up and Fox’s Sunday Animation Domination into easy bite-size chunks so as to lessen the load of our already overloaded TV-riddled brains and blistered typing fingers.

Guess which one this is!

The Simpsons 20.1 “Sex, Pies & Idiot Scrapes”

Grade: B

I am not a Simpsons apologist. Well, I don’t consider myself a Simpsons apologist is more like it. I consider myself a Simpsons realist. I am aware that the show isn’t as good as it used to be, but I also still think it’s a very good show. I think some people are too hard on the last several seasons, and I also think some people don’t realize that even in the show’s heyday, it still had bad episodes, not to mention an overglorification of mere good episodes. But people’s memories and tastes work in different ways, so I am not one to judge their opinions. I do, however, think that people need to realize that there’s still a consistently funny show every Sunday at 8 p.m. on Fox, and that its 20-year run is something to be thankful for and is not just an excuse to nitpick every nook and cranny of a show that is still better than almost any comedy since it started.

Sunday’s episode was exactly what it should be — damn funny. Seriously, this episode is extremely funny. My issues lie with its ending and loose ends, a problem for a show that prides itself on its non-serialized structure.

But the funny. Yes, the funny. The episode finds Homer in trouble after Springfield’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade — this year boozeless — descends into brutal violence thanks to a battle between those representing Ireland and those representing Northern Ireland.

“It always comes down to transubstantiation and consubstantiation!” — Lisa decrying the Irish-on-Northern-Irish violence

Since he is a repeat offender, Homer opts to seek the aid of a bail bondsman, voiced by Robert Forster playing the exact same character he did in Tarantino’s best film, Jackie Brown. (Yes, I said Tarantino’s best film. Wanna fight about it?) Homer soon learns of the wonders of bounty hunting — how long has it been since we’ve seen Homer actually work at the power plant? — and decides after a close encounter with Snake to start up a bounty huntin’ business with no other than Ned Flanders. (Fun Simpsons fact from this episode: Apparently Snake went to Princeton.)

“Did you just tazer my coffee?” — Flanders

Soon they are racking up the cons-on-the-run, including a French Connection­-inspired car-vs.-subway train chase that culminates in Homer driving the car directly through the train.

Then just as the two are on the outs, Flanders discovers that Homer has skipped his own bail and must be taken in. The ensuing chase scene covers most of Springfield that seems to me like a mixture of Parkour, “Ninja Gaiden” and Baby’s Day Out. Homer, relents, though, and is put in jail.

The B-story involves Marge being hired as a baker at an erotic bakery. The storyline pretty much goes nowhere, but it does tell us that erotic bakeries do, in fact, sell “Day-Old Wangs.”

My issue is that the set-up begins both stories so well, and then when the third act came around, it seems all the Simpsons writers wanted to get to sleep, or maybe just dick off and play a few rounds of “Rock Band” instead of finding a better solution than just ending the episode. I’m not asking for a formula, because reliance on formulas can spell boredom, but is it too much to ask for a little resolution?

King Of The Hill 13.1 “Dia-Bill-Ic Shock”

Grade: B+

King Of The Hill is one of the best shows that nobody talks about except for unknown TV writers on cult sites. It is charming, realistic, comfortably low-key, morally sound and uniquely hilarious. If I’m ever down or stressed, I put the show on. And that’s what I did today. During work, I was simply wired on far too much coffee and struggling with the tedium of a poorly updated database (don’t ask), so instead of waiting to get home to quickly watch it and get it off the DVR, I Hulued it and put in on a corner of my monitor. Within 22 minutes, I was calmed, satiated and yet a little rattled.

First things first: Bill faints after overdosing on junk food, and is declared to have Adult Onset Diabetes. With the help of Hank, Dale and Boomhauer, Bill adjusts to a life of wheelchair-bound existence at the suggestion of his doctor. It’s a hard change from junk food to a more healthy diet, but Bill tries his best after some reluctance.

“All of my emotions demand cookies, Hank!” — Bill

Interestingly, Bill finds that in a wheelchair, he is more popular, energetic and fit, and becomes a hit with the ladies upon joining a local Murderball team. Soon, however, he finds that he is not ill at all, and loses all of the goodwill being sent toward him when he drunkenly walks out of his wheelchair. Now once again unpopular, he tries to force a diabetic coma onto himself, but is stopped just in time by his friends. Turns out the doctor didn’t know what the hell he was talking about and Bill does not, in fact, have diabetes, and the show ends with Bill beating the shit out of the doctor as Hank sits in the waiting room quietly.

The episode gets a couple notches down for its near ignorance of the main cast — I don’t ask for a lot, but if it’s a season premiere, maybe more time spent with the title family might feel a little better as a beginning — but as usual, it toys with our preconceived notions and emotions in a savvy and easygoing manner. It’s rare that one would feel an ending that involves a savage beating to be heartwarming, but KOTH does it.

I’m also a fan of non sequiturs, so Dale is a personal favorite week-after-week.

“He’s just like Winnie the Pooh, who also has diabetes!” — Dale

I was left shaken by the episode, though, because it definitely struck a personal chord. I currently have an uncle who has now been long suffering the debilitating effects of diabetes, and it has been especially awful for the last couple years. I feel like there’s nothing I can do, and yet I also feel guilt that I haven’t inserted myself into his life more. He moved in with my relatives — every sibling of both my parents lives in the Bay Area now — and is easily accessible, but I never know what to say to him when in his presence. I’m not used to illness yet in my life, and it seems to have shocked me into what seems to appear to others as a lack of sympathy. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s the one thing in my life I can think of that I have no idea how to approach.

So that’s it. KOTH hit me in a strange place.

Clearly this review has taken a turn for the depressing. Sorry about that. Moving on.

Family Guy 6.1 “Love Blactually”

Grade: B+

For the first time in very long time, FG was funnier than American Dad. Since returning from cancellation, I can count the number of flat-out great FG episodes on one hand, while I am a very big fan of AD and think it’s criminally underrated.

This week’s episode focused on Brian’s complicated dating life, as since his break up with Gillian, the dumb but very hot woman voiced by Drew Barrymore, he just hasn’t any luck. During a costume party, they try to set him up with a cute girl, but her costume was an aborted fetus. If we know anything about Brian, it’s that he’s politically liberal – very liberal – so when he meets a pretty atheist chick at a bookstore, Carolyn, it’s love at first sight.

I tend to appreciate the FG episodes that aren’t merely a parade of non-stop jokes with no clothesline and focus more on the heartwarming ones, or at least the ones that are potentially heartwarming. My favorite episode is still “Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows” where Brian starts a relationship with a washed-up singer from the olden days, staying with her until she passes away. This episode wasn’t nearly as good as that one, but after three years of sub-par stories, I appreciated the character-driven laughs of this episode.

Don’t get me wrong. I laughed my ass off during the cutaway reference to a less-than-popular Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears Domestic Violence Next Door and Doesn’t Call 911. I also like that there was really no reason to dress Brian up as Snoopy during the opening scene other than to see what it would sound like if Woodstock from Peanuts ever uttered the “C” word. And what about that gag that Cyrano de Bergerac was actually an anti-Semite?

But I really dug Brian himself, especially his relation to Stewie. After the show’s cancellation – and subsequent uncancellation – Stewie was changed from an evil baby hell-bent on world domination to more of a dramatic foil for Brian, making them the show’s silly comedy duo. I for one love the change. It’s been the show’s one bright spot week-after-week.

But as for Brian’s story, Stewie takes him to take this relationship slowly so Brian doesn’t figuratively blow his load with the girl, which backfires when she is found in a car being nailed by none other than Cleveland. (It’s good to know that Cleveland’s orgasm outcry is a calm “…and boom goes the dynamite,” which is a definite polar opposite from Peter’s “SHAZAM!”)

The gang then tries to reunite Cleveland with his estranged wife Loretta (or, as Peter says as he tries to guess her name, “Wheezy? Florida? Jennifer Hudson?”), which doesn’t go so well, but if we are to believe the reports detailing the Cleveland spin-off show in midseason, they will be back together soon enough.

Maybe after starring as a major voice in this summer’s Hellboy: The Golden Army, show creator Seth MacFarlane was inspired by Guillermo Del Toro to reinvigorate his interest in his own show, because for the last few years his actual work on FG had been spread very thin, having to work on that, AD and the canceled live-action sitcom The Winner a couple seasons back. I don’t know what happened, but FG finally picked itself back up again. For now.

Props to the writer who came up with an explanation for the (entirely intentional) inconsistencies as to who can understand Stewie’s actual dialogue and who can only see him merely as a baby. Here’s the official rule from the episode: if you are in the main cast or are closely related to the main cast, you will not be able to understand Stewie, but if you are completely outside of the main ensemble, you understand every word. Good call, writers.

American Dad 4.1 “1600 Candles”

Grade: B-

It’s Roger’s 1600th birthday, but you wouldn’t know it as the Stan and Francine’s attention are entirely on stopping Steve from going through puberty. It seems that Hayley’s transition into womanhood was so violent and aggressive – she even set fire to the house – that they’d rather use experimental aging drugs on Steve than go through that mess ever again. First, the drug accidentally turns Steve into a five-year-old and then an old man, destroying any chance he has with a school cheerleader he had his eyes on. But Steve soon accepts being an old man having heard horror stories about what it’s like to grow up and checks himself into a retirement home.

“It’s like an egg ate garlic and farted in a sulfur pit!” – Francine upon smelling the inside of the retirement home

The episode was plenty pleasant, but something felt slightly wrong from the opening minutes. (Really? You changed the opening title sequence? I love the newspaper headline gag. Why get rid of it?) The episode was a little too tame, and from a show that constantly makes tasteless remarks about period blood, murder and assassinations, positing that old people like watching the Weather Channel seems a little neutered.

“I’m gonna spend my 1600th birthday alone. Like a sequoia.” – Roger

The Wife:

How true, episode title as uttered by a pair of old, wily-haired hippie beekeepers. How true. Unless, of course, you throw something at the bees. Then they become decidedly less calm, I understand. I don’t know. I really don’t spend that much time around bees.

But Anita and Arthur, a pair of married beekeepers from Oregon who wear a lot of tie-dye and definitely don’t need to carry large signs with the word HIPPIE on them to demonstrate that they are, in fact, hippies, sure seem to know a lot about bees. Just not much about racing around the world, apparently.

This season’s teams, besides Anita and Arthur, all met on USC property, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, to start their first leg of the race. They were:

  • Toni and Dallas, a mother and son from somewhere in NorCal.
  • Nick and Starr, a pair of over-confident siblings in camouflage from New York and Texas.
  • Ken and Tina, separated spouses from Tampa, Fl. (Bonus: Ken is an ex-professional football player.)
  • Aja and Ty, a long-distance romance.
  • Marisa and Brooke, a pair of South Carolina Belles who look exactly like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.
  • Andrew and Dan, ostensibly Jewish fraternity brothers from ASU.
  • Anthony and Stephanie, a couple from L.A. who have been dating for four years and think that racing around the world will help them decide if they should get married or not.
  • Kelly and Kristy, a pair of saucy Texan divorcees.
  • Terrence and Sarah, a newly dating couple from NYC. Terrence is a running coach. Sarah is . . . a workaholic?
  • Mark and Bill, a delightful geek bromance from San Diego. (Bonus: Yes, one of them is the treasurer of Comic-Con.)

The teams raced up the stairs to grab their backpacks and their first clue. Surprisingly, Terrence, the running coach, did not make it up the stairs first. The clue directed the teams to drive a Benz to LAX where they were to catch one of two available flights to Salvador, Brazil. Why a Mercedes Benz is the official car of Los Angeles, according to The Amazing Race, I will never know. I will also never know how the teams managed to completely bypass L.A. traffic. A show business miracle, I suppose.

On the drive to LAX, Nick and Starr started scheming to get themselves “adopted” by Ken and Tina, whom they refer to as “Mom and Dad,” under the guise that the elder couple might start to view the young’uns as, well, young’uns and protect them during the race. This apparently worked, and Ken and Tina “adopted” “The Kids” at LAX . . . at least for the next couple of legs of the race. If Nick and Starr begin to outgrow the abilities of their “parents,” I expect we shall see some reality show faux-children infanticide.

After much running back and forth to find the marked counter, six teams found their way aboard the first flight on American Airlines: Mark and Bill, Ken and Tina, Terrence and Sarah, Nick and Starr, Aja and Ty and Kelly and Kristy. The Frat Boys were the next team in line, but just missed the cut-off, forcing them to board the next flight out on United with everyone else.

In Salvador, Terrence and Sarah are the first to hit the ground running. The teams are sent to a sandwich shop where they must pick up a traditional street vending cart and wheel the unwieldy thing through the narrow streets to the Placa de Casa, where a barista will give them their next clue. A number of the teams seemed to be incapable of figuring out how to drive these Blong carts, which I found positively baffling considering they had a steering wheel and a freakin’ truck cab on the front of them. Who doesn’t understand that if a cart of Blong candy has a truck cab on it that the cab is meant to indicate the front, you know, like on a real truck?

Dude, I thought you said it we were going to get a cart full of BONGS? WTF is Blong, dude?

Dude, I thought you said it we were going to get a cart full of BONGS? WTF is Blong, dude?


Fortunately for Terrence, Sarah speaks Portuguese, which gives them an easy head start in soliciting help from the good people of Salvador. Everyone else on the race seems to think that Brazilians speak Spanish. This ignorance continued to annoy me for the rest of the hour.

I was generally amused by the fact that the teams have to maneuver their carts onto a funicular, as were geeks Mark and Bill. I was also amused by Blong candy, which doesn’t seem to exist in the land of the internets and I now suspect isn’t a traditional Brazilian candy at all and was invented by The Amazing Race producers solely for my own amusement. I mean, really. That’s the best name for a candy I’ve ever heard. And I am pretty familiar with a variety of strange Japanese candies. If someone finds some Blong, please leave a note about where I can purchase it. I really, really need some. Curse you, Amazing Race, for filling me with unattainable desires for foreign candy!

Once the Blong candy is delivered, the teams are sent to spend the night at the sweetest-looking military base this Navy/Army brat has ever seen in her life, where they will be potentially exposed to malaria while sleeping under mosquito netting. The first teams to arrive at the base received their choice of three departure times the following day.

From the base, the teams took a taxi to Pelhourino where they met their first detour. Teams could climb a giant stone staircase on their hands and knees and answer a question once they reach the top, or they could climb down a 240-foot cargo net, suspended from an outdoor elevator. Only the Frat Boys chose the staircase, receiving the ultimate “Fuck You” of the day when the question at the top was: “How many steps did you just climb?” They did not think to count the steps, which I thought would have been obvious. So they had to go back to the bottom and do it all over again.

Meanwhile, on the way to the Big Giant Cargo Net of Doom, leaders Terrence and Sarah got lost and were bested by their mortal enemies, Nick and Starr. Sadly, no one got too scared of heights that they sobbed on the net, or chickened out at the top and opted for the stairs instead. Nope, everyone got down the net rather uneventfully. Boo.

Guys, this isnt how they did it in Spider-Man . . .

Guys, this isn't how they did it in Spider-Man.


After completing the detour, the teams raced to Forte Sao Macelo, a floating anti-pirate battlement serving as the Pit Stop for this leg of the race.

Evil Children Nick and Starr checked in first, winning a trip to Belize, follow by Mom and Dad and then Terrence and Sarah. Geeks Mark and Bill took fourth, Divorcees Kelly and Kristy took fifth, followed by Toni and Dallas and Frat Boys Andrew and Dan in seventh place, despite their mistake on the staircase. Aja and Ty came in eighth, followed by Stephanie and Anthony in ninth place and Marisa and Brooke in tenth.

This, of course, means our hippie beekeeping friends were eliminated from the race. Alas, poor hippies, we hardly knew ye.

There are no bees on this map. Thats really disappointing.

There are no bees on this map. That's really disappointing.

The Husband:

Short note: I was completely baffled that the Frat Boys didn’t count the number of steps they had to climb. Ones they had to climb on their hands and knees. Why they didn’t count the steps is something I cannot relate to. I count everything unconsciously. I make beat patterns with my fingers at work and at home on the couch. And I definitely count the steps on a staircase, especially if the climb completely sucks balls.

Why do I obsessively count such things? I guess it’s because I’m a neurotic mess. I know I don’t technically have OCD – I’m too much of a slob in most of my life for that to be true – but I know I’ve always been borderline OCD when it comes to patterns and rhythms. Wheeeeee deep-rooted anxieties!

Another note: Through Terrence, it seems we have our first declaration of the season that he’s not on the show to make friends. I do give him props for wording it in a new way to separate himself from all TAR past asshole contestants and all the other reality shows where this phrase occurs, because for him it was something like:

“I’m not here to be friendly. I’ve got enough friends back at home. I don’t need friends.”

Way to start off the season as a caricature, Terrence. He should be added to the following video. Because, really, I think we all occasionally need to be reminded that no reality show is called America’s Next Top Best Friend:



The Husband:

As the fall season goes into full effect, we, the Children of Saint Clare, cannot possibly do write-ups on every show that we watch. There are just far too many to handle, and it is our policy that new shows get first priority, followed by the bigger pre-existing shows that we feel important to this site (i.e. ANTM, Gossip Girl, etc.). For the sake of readership – and our bleeding fingers – we will start to bundle up both Thursday night’s NBC comedy lineup as well as Fox’s Sunday Animation Domination, doing quick write-ups in small chunks in a new format with letter grades, since I’ll have less to say as far as critique goes.

First up is Thursday’s two-hour comedy block, which included the two 30-minute episodes of My Name Is Earl and the hour-long premiere of The Office.

My Name is Earl 4.1: “The Magic Hour”

Grade: B

I’m fairly alone in this, but I really liked the last season of Earl, which followed his stint in prison after confessing to Joy’s crimes, and then his subsequent coma. Viewers complained that the show had lost its purpose of Earl taking care of his karma list, but I’ve always felt the show’s strongest suit was its ensemble, so for example when Randy decided to take over the list during Earl’s coma, with each task finished bringing Earl closer to life, I felt the show had never been better.

But people didn’t want Earl in a predicament. I guess they wanted everything just like it was in s1 and s2, a less serialized form with less character repercussions. It’s called conflict, people. It was supposed to be off-putting. Jail and coma provided new challenges for a show that I felt was too comfortable with a week-in-week-out rhythm. I guess I just like serialized shows more. (Actually, I don’t guess. I definitely like serialized shows more.)

Much to my chagrin, it seems that the showrunners heard the public cry, and upon the start of this new season, absolutely nothing was mentioned about s3. Not one bit. Not jail. Not the coma. Not Earl’s marriage to Alyssa Milano. Not Randy’s Amish-like Camdenite girlfriend who I thought was going to be a regular. (I just so happen to have three degrees of separation from the actress who played said Camdenite, so it’s definitely something I cared about.) None of it. It’s as if it never happened, and that’s a big deficit in my book. What show do they think this is? Prison Break?

Basically, s4 just picked up with Earl going to his list again. This item: stole a pony from a Make-A-Wish recipient, thus denying him his wish before death. But when Earl looks into the case, he finds that ten years later the young boy isn’t actually dead. He’s just Seth Green now. Instead of accepting a new pony, though, Green asks Earl and Randy to help him make a movie. Just like Be Kind Rewind – which I coincidentally had just watched the morning before watching this episode – Earl and Randy use the entire town of Camden as cast and crew. Green does a good job at hiring people, such as the nervous Kenny as the Nervous Scientist, exotic Catalina as a terrorist, and Randy – the sole good actor in the entire town – as the President.

“And here’s my Secretary of Cute!” – Randy, followed by reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a kitten

Green’s film, apparently the first movie shot in Camden since “the documentary about the chemical spill,” is a James Bond-esque spy thriller with over-the-top stunts, lots of posing and kissing, and all culminating in a squid attack on the White House. Unfortunately, Camden can’t really come together as a crew, and after a few key sequences are shot, they quit.

“I’m sorry. This is Camden. Everyone quits. That’s why the freeway ends in a field.” – Earl

Turns out, Green really was dying, but having completed most of his vision for the film, he was able to die happy and fulfilled. The town comes together to watch their accomplishment, and everything works out fine.

Like I said, the sudden thrust into s4 was far too jarring for my tastes, and I saw the twist coming a mile away, but I’m happy to have the show back.

That is, until the second half-hour episode.

My Name is Earl 4.2: “If You Vote for This I Will Do Something Crazy at the Emmys”

Grade: C

Mad props must be given to the writer that created the title for the episode. It’s the funniest thing about the episode without question. Unfortunately, I doubt Emmy voters would nominate such a mediocre episode. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I almost never like the episodes of Earl that center on Earl and Randy’s parents, Carl and Kay Hickey. I like Beau Bridges as Carl just fine, but it always puts everything else on the show on hold, and for such a large cast of characters – Camden is almost as populated by interesting characters as Springfield on The Simpsons – that always irks me. (Actually, that’s why I don’t like the parent-centered episodes. Right there.)

Earl’s list item: Drove his neighbors out of the area. It seems that when he was a child, Earl tormented his neighbors the Clarks when he saw the patriarch (name? Clark Clark) him cry, trying to reignite the man’s tears with such pranks as pretending to kill baby chickens and creating a fake newspaper whose headline is about the rising rate of baby suicides.

“Why are babies killing themselves?!” – Clark Clark (David Paymer)

When Earl finds the Clarks one town over, he learns a devastating secret. The Clarks didn’t move because of Earl’s mischief; they moved because one night years ago when Kay Hickey and Clark Clark were drunk on cheap wine coolers during a basement game of Go Fish, they hooked up. Clark Clark, embarrassed, couldn’t live with the guilt.

When Carl Hickey gets wind of this past digression, he splits up with Kay and lives with Earl. It’s here where things get very unfunny as Carl tries several times to call upon former flirtations with local women and turn them into sexual adventures, only to be rejected. And the only time he comes close, it turns out to be Patty the resident hooker, which Earl quickly puts an end to.

“Word-of-mouth is very important in my line of work. It’s right up there with eye contact and concealer.” – Patty The Hooker

Carl ends up forgiving Kay and all turns out okay. That’s pretty much it. We’re right back to where we started. Clark Clark really gets to cross his respective item off the list, since he technically shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I guess his wife savagely beating Carl at the Clark house was enough to end that part of the story. Yawn.

I did get one big laugh, though, when it is mentioned that a local Camden restaurant is named Casa De Maison. Now that’s funny.

The Office 5.1: “Weight Loss”

Grade: A-

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m no fan of cringe comedy, so when the American version of The Office gets a little too mean and depressing, I tend to shut off my emotion receptors and am just left with improve actors goofing around. This doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes it seems that this greatly hailed and, let’s face it, incredibly funny show just can suffer at the hand of its own reliance of real-life problems.

So I’m glad to say that the fifth season is a near-perfect blend of comedy and pathos, giving each member of the ensemble something to do – something the show forgets to do during its darkest days – and effortlessly bringing us up to date on several storylines.

Dunder Mifflin auditions for The Biggest Loser.

Dunder Mifflin auditions for The Biggest Loser.

Dunder Mifflin is in the throes of a seven-week weight loss competition with other branches in order to be rewarded a few extra vacation days, but just like everything on this show, something seemingly normal will always turn wacky and depressing at the hands of Michael Scott and Dwight Scrute. Because of their over-competitive nature and their complete disregarding for actual human behavior and emotion, they both try everything they can to lower the employees weight.

  • Dwight replaces everything in the vending machine with fruits and vegetables – often having to slam such larger items into place with a hammer – and leave them there so long that they gather flies.
  • Dwight does a “random selection” of people to demand undergoing liposuction, then picking the three biggest people (Stanley, Phyllis and Kevin)
  • Dwight drives Phyllis to an empty warehouse and abandons her, thus forcing her to walk five miles back to the office for the exercise.
  • Michael, having gotten in trouble with HR for Dwight’s warehouse stunt, dons a fat suit and tries to shame his employees into the lesson that fat people always die.
  • As a last-ditch effort, they turn the office into a sweat lodge.

“Wait a minute. One more bite of éclair each. Hold it on your mouth if you can’t swallow.” – Dwight before the first company weigh-in, followed by the requisite Jim reaction shot

We caught up with other characters, such as the now cocaine-free Ryan (who has temporarily returned to the branch he abandoned at the end of s3), the starving-herself-to-unconsciousness-to-fit-into-bikinis Kelly, and the new head of party planning, Phyllis. (You best watch out for Angela, biznatch.) Angela and Dwight are still carrying on their illicit affair while Angela realizes that her engagement to Andy is simply not working. New HR rep Holly (Oscar-nominee Amy Ryan) realizes that Kevin is not, in fact, mentally challenged, and also continues to be ignorant of Michael’s undying love for her.

“I once went 28 years without having sex. Then another seven years.” – Michael

If you’ve seen the episode, though, you know that the BIG THING that happened was that Jim finally proposed to Pam. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder, because Pam is now taking art classes in New York while Jim is still stuck in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Jim realizes that if he doesn’t pop the question now, he may never. The proposal itself – at a rain-soaked gas station somewhere between Scranton and NYC – was absolutely perfect for this kind of show, and its sudden occurrence only highlights the low-key nature of this show. Wonderful.

The Wife:

Nothing says “Our meager half-season actually made it to TV because of the strike” quite like starting your new season with “Chapter 8” of something. What a random number and what a random way of titling episodes.

Regardless, Chapter 8 actually felt like a very natural place to begin a second season of this show, as Chapter 7 left off with Nico (Kim Raver) making amends with her husband on his sick-bed and vowing to herself and her friends never again touch the man candy that is Kirby Atwood.

Nico did not tell Charles about the affair, and never intended to . . . until he brought home photo of her naked back that Kirby had taken. The photograph acts as Nico’s tell-tale heart, silently reminding her of her misdeeds as it glares at her from the wall. Wendy and Victory assure her that Charles was simply subconsciously drawn to the photo because it is, after all, of her and that proves that Charles still adores her. Nico goes to Kirby to try to get him to un-sell the photograph, but ultimately ends up confessing her affair to Charles after he refuses to have sex with her and her newly plumped G-spot. She accuses him of cheating with one of his students, which is a legitimate fear considering Nico was once Charles’ student, but he denies her accusations.

Look, Nico, its shirts vs. skins. And if you wanna play, youre gonna have to play skins.

Look, Nico, it's shirts vs. skins. And if you wanna play, you're gonna have to play skins.

The G-spot plumping, by the way, was an incredibly lame subplot that really didn’t fit in with the tone of this episode at all. I’ve seen this plot on other shows and it worked a lot better on them. For instance, on Nip/Tuck when Sean gives a client a G-spot plump and violates her (sort of) during the procedure, the client later returns to have the collagen removed because she’s so overstimulated that she cannot lead a normal life. Nico, on the other hand, seems to do this for no real reason at all. It is only what I can assume to be a failed bit of levity in an otherwise heavy episode.

The day after Nico’s confession, Charles is admitted to the hospital for a double bypass. Nico, Wendy and Victory run into Charles’ student, Megan, in the gift shop and learn that Megan has been having an affair with Charles and is carrying his child. Oops.

And then Charles dies. Oops.

Nico, distraught over this news and learning of the affair, tears through Charles’ files and finds that he had known all along about her and Kirby, complete with surveillance photos, and was planning on filing a case for abandonment so that Nico would end up with the financial burden of the divorce. It seems that Wendy and Victory were wrong about that photograph of Nico, after all.

Meanwhile, Wendy’s mom, Mary Tyler Moore, came to visit and criticize her daughter for taking less time at the office after Wendy catches her teenager Maddie out at a bar. Props to Wendy for paying attention to her children, unlike the parents on Gossip Girl and 90210 who really don’t have any fucking clue where their children are going when they say they’re studying for a math test. No props to Mary Tyler Moore for having so much plastic surgery on her face that she no longer looks like human.

Victory is still battling with Joe Bennett for autonomy within her company, which he secretly bought at the end of Season 1 and which I can only presume is how he shows affection. She spent this episode looking for a retail space in which she could open a boutique store, only to wind up in a space owned by . . . Joe Bennett. I’ve always felt that Victory’s strange desire to get away from Joe in the business world is a little odd. Joe is a billionaire for a reason. He’s a great person to have as an investor in the Victory Ford line, and paying rent to Joe Bennett for the best retail space in midtown is not a bad thing. The fact that Victory can’t separate her personal life – in which she chose to break from Joe – and her business life speaks to a certain emotional immaturity that I just don’t understand. I mean, really. Joe was a great guy, and her resistance doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Sure, he slept with someone else, but that was after they had broken up. It’s not like the horrible disastrous relationship that Nico and Charles had. Not even in the slightest.

And this brings me back to Nico and Charles. This episode had by far the most intricate plot any Lipstick Jungle episode has had so far, and I really, really enjoyed it. I wonder now, in the timeline of Who-Wronged-Whom in the House of Nico and Charles, which of them was cheating first. I have to assume Charles, what with the advanced pregnancy of his former student, and all. In which case, how dare he try to fuck over Nico like that. He’s a dick, and he deserves people laughing at his funeral. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh, but seriously. Even if he had survived the surgery, he was going to be in some deep legal shit. Which, I suppose, allows Nico to enjoy the last, highly awkward, laugh.

He left me for someone who sleeps in headgear. - Nico Reilly

"He left me for someone who sleeps in headgear." - Nico Reilly

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