October 2008


The Husband:

Behold, our first joint post for NBC’s Thursday night comedy block, now with four separate shows!

My Name Is Earl 4.8 “Little Bad Voodoo Brother”

It’s Halloween, so Earl decides to take on list item #94: “Ruined Dodge and Earl Jr.’s Halloween.” The only way to make this up to his kids, Joy convinces him, is to throw a big Halloween bash at the trailer park for his children and all those townsfolk who were roped into doing a search party to find them years earlier. Earl is happy to abide, but then decides to rope in another list item: “Cost Randy a little brother.”

How would Earl have even done such a thing?

“Dad made mom get fixed after he caught Earl playing a game of ‘watch Randy in the washing machine.’ I swallowed a lot of bleach. That’s why I can’t taste salt.” — Randy

Trying to do the right thing, Earl brings Randy to the local chapter of Big Bros & Little Bros, but Randy fails to qualify in order to take care of a poor Little Bro. Earl tries to tell him otherwise, but Randy sees right through his façade.

“You’re talking in your high-pitched lying voice!” — Randy

Suddenly, Catalina has an idea for how Earl can cross this off his list: she has a cousin who had been shipped to America, one boy by the name of O-Scar (“like ‘Oscar’ but with an ‘O'”), and would be fine if Randy looked after him for a while in order to be a good male role model for the child.

Actually, this shirt is really not a bad costume idea.

Actually, this shirt is really not a bad costume idea.

Unfortunately, this tiny immigrant child doesn’t like being told what to do, and when Randy scolds him for stealing tips off the tables at the Crab Shack, O-Scar begins performing voodoo in order to curse and scare Randy and Earl. Earl isn’t scared at first…

“I’ve got a cousin with Tourette’s who’s religious. It’s very similar.”

…but then O-Scar pulls out his voodoo dolls and threatens to hurt them very badly. When Earl and Randy try to return the evil child to Catalina, she runs away not wanting to deal with this problem kid anymore, so the two must live in fear. They go to Darnell for help, and are surprised that he has already created fake passports for them.

“I was trained to think three steps ahead. I saw this coming back in December.” — Darnell

At the Halloween party, Joy discovers O-Scar’s evil little ways, and since a voodoo practitioner hexed her when she was a child (the hex? To become pregnant before she got married), she tries to take out the child. When all hell breaks loose at the party, Earl realizes that he has in fact given Randy a little brother, so he crosses it off his list. Karma intervenes (well, the way it does on this show) and it is revealed that O-Scar doesn’t really know voodoo but is simply very good at using the power of suggestion, and turns out to be not such a bad little kid.

O-Scar? Oh no!

O-Scar? Oh no!

Two items down this week, a few hundred to go. The show has finally reached a nice middle-ground stride. Not great by any means, but still incredibly watchable. Keep them coming, guys.
The Office 5.5 “Employee Transfer”

It’s Halloween — did I already say that — and Dunder Mifflin is packed to the gills with costumed employees. Andy is a character from Cats, Kelly is Carrie Bradshaw, Ryan is Gordon Gekko and Phyllis is Raggedy Anne. There was bound to be some people who dressed in the same costume, and this time it’s Dwight, Creed and Kevin all dressed as (what else?) the Joker. (And of the three, Creed, of course, is the creepiest and most accurate Joker.)

Unfortunately in New York, Pam finds out too late that nobody at her branch dresses up for Halloween, so she is left dressed as Charlie Chaplin, complete with a mustache made with greasepaint.

“And I can’t even take off my hat. Because then I’m Hitler.” — Pam

The unholy alliance between the Joker and Chaplin has come to pass. Cower.

The unholy alliance between the Joker and Chaplin has come to pass. Cower.

After Halloween, the show goes a lot darker — as this show tends to do — because at the end of the last episode, a Dunder Mifflin representative caught Michael and Holly making out, and due to company policy one of them has to either transfer to another branch or quit. (For the answer, look at the episode’s title.) Michael is sad to see Holly go, so he accompanies her on a road trip to her new house in New Hampshire, with Darryl driving the truck. While they do love each other, Holly breaks down during the truck ride because she knows that their relationship could never survive the long distance (a seven-hour drive) no matter how much they loved each other and how much Michael protests.

Holly: Michael, don’t make it harder than it has to be.

Michael: [Sadly, quietly] That’s what she said.

Upon arriving in New Hampshire, Michael has the option of staying with her for a bit, but defeated, he decides to just get back into the truck with Darryl and drive back to Scranton, literally singing the blues. (Well, Michael’s version of the blues.)

At the office, Dwight is intent on driving Andy crazy, so he pretends that he is interested in matriculating at Cornell, Andy’s alma mater. Adorning his body and desk with Cornell sweaters and swag, he easily pushes Andy’s buttons, until Andy calls Cornell and gets permission to be Dwight’s interviewer for the school. The scene between Andy and Dwight as they evaluate each other in increasingly aggressive and silly ways was the highlight of this episode, basically an ode to how funny both actors truly are.

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!

In the episode’s third story, Jim drives to New York to have a lunch with Pam, where he is to introduce her to his brothers Tom and Pete. Pam gets there before Jim does, though, and tries to come up with a prank on Jim that Tom and Pete would help with that involves her pretending to lose her engagement ring. They decide they want to do another prank — mock Pam’s decision to make a career out of being an artist, because they know that Jim hates it when they give his girlfriends shit. Pam reluctantly agrees, and the lunch is the most awkward the show has been this season. It didn’t really end up being any kind of funny, but Jim finally defends Pam’s career choices only to have the extremely unfunny prank be revealed. The brothers decide, via text message post-lunch, that they really like Pam, and despite Jim being very pissed off at them, is happy that they have welcomed Pam into the family.
After last week’s incredible episode, I don’t think there was any way this week to match it, so the writers didn’t even try. Let a classic be a classic, and even with a lower laugh quotient like it was this week, it’s still better than most of the programming out there.

I will be sad to see Amy Ryan go so soon, as she was a bright shining light this season and a wonderful direction for the show to go in. Hopefully she can return later in the season after the producers offer her a good deal.

AND NOW HERE’S THE WIFE WITH THE REST OF THE NBC COMEDIES!

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.4 “Money”

I’ll give you the log line version of this episode’s two plots. Kath wants to have a fairy tale wedding which necessitates the acquisition of a pumpkin carriage, while Kim realizes that people pay up to $1,000 a puppy for purebred Rottweilers and wants to breed her husband’s dog, Ginger. I didn’t care for the Kath plot very much, but I will give it props for finally bringing Kath into the level of ridiculousness she often seems so above when she falls a few hundred dollars short of the deposit for her coveted pumpkin carriage. She calls Kim crying and wailing into the phone in words that are utterly unrecognizable as words. Hilarious. So far, Shannon’s best work on this show is that moment. Luckily for Kath, Phil wants to be her Knight in Shining Armor and rents the carriage for her, a gesture that she is so moved by that she and Phil must immediately have sex in the carriage.

Sadly, this dress was the inspiration for Kaths Fairy Tale Wedding.

Sadly, this dress was the inspiration for Kath's Fairy Tale Wedding.

Kim’s dog breeding plot ended exactly how one would expect a dog breeding plot to end: with a bevy of mutt dogs gangbanging the bitch in heat, thus impregnating her with non-pedigree puppies of indeterminate breed. I did like that the stud dog was named something along the lines of Gir Von Von Frukenhauser, which I think will be the name of my next apartment. (Our duplex is called Scooter McNippleton.) The good news about this plot is that it has a.) brought Kim and Craig closer together (even though Kim still resents Craig for not being the Craig that invented Craig’s List) and b.) found a way to bring Angel back into the series. This time, Angel has taken up volunteering at a dog shelter, which gets shut down, forcing Angel to find homes for ten dogs . . . the very same ten dogs that escape from her car and violate Ginger. It’s also good to know that NBC felt it was only decent to show one dog rape, choosing only to imply the remaining nine dog rapes by showing the dogs running into the yard, and then cutting to a sky-cam angle that showed Kim and Angel’s reactions to the dog rapes, but not the dog rapes themselves that are taking place under an open umbrella. I feel like that’s a little too much censorship. But, then again, maybe it’s just really hard to train more than one dog to hump on command. So maybe it was a practicality issue? I don’t know. Either way, I feel like I learned something about American audiences and their relationships to dog gangbangs.

In some unrelated notes from “Money:”

1. Phil wants to invent a sandwich to celebrate his love for Kath. His current “meat lab” experiment has brought him to conclude that the “sandwich that tastes like our love” would be “a warm tuna salad and sausage ciabatta with curly fries.” This is a double entendre, right? Tuna salad is what I think it is? And a sausage is, um, a sausage? If that’s true, then what the hell are curly fries? Pubes?

2. This episode started of with the fucking lamest pun in the world. When Kath complains about how Phil wants a small wedding, Kim suggests that they just get it over with and elope. Kath turns around, holding a fucking cantaloupe, and goes “Kimmie, we can’t elope!” Wow. Really? Really, Kath & Kim? Really? You went for a joke I last heard on Saved by the Bell back in 1991? Only when it was on Saved by the Bell, it involved Screech and went something like this:

Mr. Belding: Screech, you can’t elope!

Screech: Don’t call me a cantaloupe, you melon head!

No one can make a “cantaloupe/can’t elope” joke without forcing me to think about Screech.

(Husband note: I did not catch the pun until my wife just pointed it out, and now it’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week)

30 Rock 3.1 “Do-Over”

Both Jack and Liz get major do-overs in this episode. Jack, after losing his company to Devon and Kathy Geiss and returning from D.C., gets to participate in an accelerated re-do of his entire career, working his way up to the top from the lowly mailroom. (He is, after all, a man who “paid his way through Princeton by working the day shift at that graveyard and the graveyard shift at that Day’s Inn.”) In this process, which Jack estimates will take between 5 and 9 years (depending on how many times a day he gets promoted), Jack realizes that Devon is destroying the company and that he must do the unthinkable in order to regain control: sleep with Kathy Geiss. Just as Jack is about to give soap opera-obsessed Kathy everything he’s got, Liz bursts in and helps Jack recreate an even bigger soap opera trope that somehow involves murdering one’s twin at the gym and ends with two characters kissing. Well, almost. Jack and Liz care about each other, but not quite enough to put on a full show of kissing in front of a mentally challenged girl-child who loves sparkly unicorns and strawberry lipgloss.

I thought I was Kathys stawberry mouth boy!

I thought I was Kathy's stawberry mouth boy!

“Three of my nine siblings were adopted . . . and one day I’m gonna find them.” — Kenneth

Liz meets with her adoption assessor, Bev (Megan Mullaly), who immediately dislikes the curtain pulls in Liz’s apartment as well as how much Liz works. Then Bev meets Liz’s staff, who all contribute to the ruination of Liz’s chances at adoption in their own, special ways. Frank, for instance, can’t stop talking about the Mexican circus video he had planned on showing, Cerie keeps insisting that the adoption interview is a custody battle and that Liz should have full custody of her children, and Pete violently flings the babies out of the makeshift nursery that Liz claimed the office had in an effort to return them to the prop room before they were needed again. Liz’s chances at adoption are totally nixed, until Bev gets hit in the head and she wakes up not knowing that the interview even happened. Even after a do-over in which everyone tries really hard to get everything right for Liz, Bev still cannot grant Liz an adoption.

“I wish there were a box on these forms where I could check off ‘passion.'” — Bev

While Liz doesn’t get her baby, Jack does regain power at the network when Kathy makes him her personal business advisor, thus shaming Devon back into gay-sex-at-noon-in-Central-Park obscurity and Devin’s second money-making scheme, which involves him throwing himself onto the hoods of cars and threatening to sue. A line from Devon that I really liked: “You know what rumors are, Jack. They make a Ru out of Mor and S.”

Okay, now you do your Sarah Palin accent.

Okay, now you do your Sarah Palin accent.

Also, its really weird to see Tina Fey and Megan Mullaly stand next to each other, as they both bear a resemblance to a certain Vice Presidential candidate with a fondness for shooting wolves from helicopters.

The Wife:

This is the second week in a row in which Criminal Minds has sent the BAU team out to parts of the world with which I am familiar: the American West. Last week, they caught Vacancy killer Wil Wheaton (or would have, had he not been hit by a semi) in Lake Tahoe, and this week, they went searching for The Wire‘s Andre Royo in California’s Central Valley. So, after being killed off on Heroes, Bubbles decided to become a hobo migrant farm worker who started perpetrating home invasion murders after his brother kicked him out of his quadrilla, or migrant work group. His character follows the quadrilla that abandoned him as it moves from farm to farm along Highway 99 (which runs from Baja to Blaine, WA), but instead of making amends with his family, he catches out of a box car, wanders into a neighborhood, finds a house with no dogs, alarms or outside lights and proceeds to opportunistically murder the inhabitants of the house. Then, he showers, huffs some household solvents, tries on the clothes of the deceased (but covers the body of the male victim in his own dirty clothes), eats a meal, sleeps in their beds and leaves.

“It’s like Goldilocks became a serial killer.” –Agent Emily Prentiss


And finally, one bed was just right and he slept there forever.

And finally, one bed was just right and he slept there forever.

Prentiss got two more funny lines in this episode that I didn’t write down, but she was definitely on a roll tonight. This episode also introduced us to J.J.’s replacement, Jordan Todd (Meta Golding), with whom Morgan flirts at a coffee shop earlier in the episode, but somehow doesn’t seem to realize that she’s just as observant about human behavior as he is. It also introduced us to a lot of hobo symbols, which reminded me of a season one episode of Mad Men, “The Hobo Code,” in which Don Draper reflects on a time when a hobo came to his family farm to work for a day in exchange for a meal. In that episode, the hobo teaches Don what certain symbols mean and explains how hobos communicate to one another that a house has work, food, a doctor, a kindly old lady and so on. This episode of Criminal Minds has a similar scene in which some local transients (including some who, like Bubbles, huff chemical solvents) teach Rossi and Morgan how to read the hobo codes for clues. The use of the hobo code is a lot more interesting in that episode of Mad Men, as it gives the young Don Draper an introduction to the language of symbols used in advertising, but in this episode of Criminal Minds it serves more as a plot device, but was nonetheless cool to see.

The Husband:

This was a nice return to form for Criminal Minds, which has been trying to branch out in the first four episodes this season, something that has come with very mixed results in my opinion. The NY-based second-parter that opened the season was an incredible use of the CM ensemble and a nice bit of action filmmaking – a characteristic that was surprising for this often more…internal show. (Unlike Numb3rs, where pretty much anytime Colby or Sinclair knocks on a perp’s door, a foot chase scene will almost always immediately ensue.)

This week, we got a good mystery, a good unsub (what up, Bubs?) and a psychologically interesting case that goes just that much further in showing us gross crime details than it really needed to. (A major characteristic of CM, I find the murder details on this show far more harrowing and disgusting than those on Showtime’s more uncensored Dexter.) I appreciated the focus on California’s migrant farmer community – even though if you lived anywhere in CA (especially in NorCal), you’d know that the Central Valley doesn’t look at all like that – as it’s a fascinating section of Western American culture that is often ignored.

The Central Valley actually looks more like it does on this map.

The Central Valley actually looks more like it does on this map.

(In other words, no, California is not just sun and beaches and palm trees. We also happen to have the world’s ninth largest GDP in the world completely on our own, plus towns with a lot of fog and rain, snow, deserts, mountains, various religious beliefs and, yes, even Republicans.)
Good ep, good train-based action sequences and a good use all around of BAU’s particular strengths. Just the way I like it.

The Wife:

I can honestly say that I didn’t think a show as original as Pushing Daises and as inventive in its murder mysteries (taffy murders, rent-a-friend murders, scratch-n-sniff murders) would ever stoop to the cliché of a Chinese restaurant gambling murder. The show managed to do something interesting with it, but I was, as a whole, a lot less interested in this episode than I have been in others from the season.

The facts about the murder were these: the chef and owner of Dim Sum, Emerson Cod’s favorite Chinese restaurant below his office from which he places a specific order every Sunday at noon, was killed in a pressure cooker accident, but his wife suspects foul play. When Ned reanimates the chef, Bao, he keeps talking about making a bad bet, which leads the gang to discover that the Dim Sum is actually running an illegal gambling operation that substitutes cards for delicious appetizers. Bao, who had run into some hard times recently, gambled away his restaurant to the ringleader of the illegal Dim Sum poker game. In an effort to gain the restaurant back, Shrimp Boy let Bao play one more hand. If he won, he would get the restaurant. If he lost, Bao’s daughter Mae would have to marry Shimp Boy’s socially retarded cousin and Dim Sum maitre d’, Robbie.

tough, not buttery.

Shrimp Boy: tough, not buttery.

Knowing how much money he owed, Bao took out an insanely high life insurance policy the day before his death, hoping to insure his daughter a future and, also, to insure that her new husband would have Bao’s debts paid to his family in time. Robbie had initially agreed to this arrangement, but then decided he’d prefer the money sooner rather than later to go along with the girl, so he rigged the pressure cooker to explode and send a copper pipe straight through his future father-in-law’s head. When Shrimp Boy finds out about Robbie’s act, he makes sure that Mae and her mother get Bao’s life insurance policy and that she is freed from her obligation to marry Robbie as, in Shrimp Boy’s world, “a bet is sacred.”

This plot allowed Emerson to rekindle his love affair with obedience trainer Simone Hundee, wife of the late Harold Hundin (The Soup’s Joel McHale) whose murder was solved in season one. I’m glad that the PD writers have not entirely disposed of certain interesting characters we met in season one. Maybe if Kath & Kim bites it, we can see the return of Molly Shannon taffy maven Dilly Balsam. (Also, I demand another appearance of Paul Reubens’ Oscar Verbinius.)

demanding Emersons obedience.

Simone Hundin: demanding Emerson's obedience.

I was also happy to see her because her sexual tension with Emerson (which gets released in this episode) adds another layer to our quippy, knitting, pop-up book designing gumshoe. Speaking of Emerson and layers of development, another gem from this week’s episode comes in the form of Emerson’s love of Chinese food:

“Ma’am, may I just say that your husband’s pork buns make me happy to be alive.”

I think that this actually speaks to a larger theme I like about the show: the idea that food is a connecting point for people, one that can evoke a memory and illicit a response, not just something you eat for sustenance. In a culture that’s rapidly become a slave to fast food, foods from boxes and other substances that pretend to be foods but are not, in fact, foods (Hot Pockets, anyone?), it’s become difficult to see the importance of real food. Two things that will correct that false ideology are Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food (eat food, not too much, mostly plants) and Pushing Daises.

“He invested his life savings in a bakery at a time when carbohydrates had fallen out of fashion.” – The Narrator, on Ned

Ned feels connected to pies and chooses to become a piemaker because pies evoke the memory of the mother he accidentally killed. Emerson and Simone feel similarly about Bao’s pork buns:

“His steamed buns blur the lines between eating and sex.”

This clearly speaks to Simone’s dialectic between control and sensory pleasure, and her desire to find a balance between the two. (Which results in her tryst with Emerson.) Chuck’s aunts love cheeses, and Chuck too loves to bake special pies for them with cheeses in the crust so that they will remember the times she spent cataloging and organizing their cheeses when she was alive. Then there are the white truffles that make Swiss Chef fall for a nun in “Bad Habits.” Food is a powerful motivator for all of the characters in the Pushing Daisies universe, and it’s important to note that all of the foods they deal with and admire reflect the artistry of those who prepare them and the nourishment of body and soul that comes from eating a food prepared by hand. You might argue that for Ned and Chuck, when she ingests a slice of his pie is the only way he can ever physically touch her.

Oh yes, and these disguises happened. Lee Paces mustachioed cowboy made me instantly flashback to seeing Tarsems The Fall. That was not a fun time at the movies, despite Lee Pace.

Oh yes, and these disguises happened. Lee Pace's mustachioed cowboy made me instantly flashback to seeing Tarsem's The Fall. That was not a fun time at the movies, despite Lee Pace.

Food love aside, this episode had one final plot of note involving Ned’s attempt to get back in touch with his father. Stephen Root shows up at the Pie Hole baiting Ned with information about his parents, insisting that he wants to go see Ned’s father, with whom he was buddies when they were in the service. Olive and Chuck find out that Ned has had his father’s address ever since the day at boarding school when Ned received news that his father have moved on without him. Chuck gives Stephen Root the address, and she and Olive decide to go there too and talk to Ned’s father on his behalf. At the house, they find two twin magicians who share Ned’s distinctive eyebrows. Chuck realizes that these boys are Ned’s half-brothers, which she later tells him and convinces him to go and meet them lest he never truly be able to reconnect with his father. When she takes him there, the brothers are excited to welcome their long-lost half sibling, but Stephen Root sits across the street in his car, fingering a gun, waiting to kill someone.

At first I thought Root was Ned’s actual father, but Ned would have recognized the man who bore him away to boarding school and scarred him so deeply. Apparently, Stephen Root wants someone in that house dead, but is it Ned’s brothers or Ned’s father? I can’t even hazard a guess, but its good bait to lead us in to sweeps.

For the second time this week, I really want to make a Gilbert and Sullivan joke. And Im going to! Two little maids from school are we! Filled to the brim with girlish glee!

For the second time this week, I really want to make a Gilbert and Sullivan joke. And I'm going to! "Two little maids from school are we! Filled to the brim with girlish glee!"

And the Cute Shit Chuck Wears list for this episode:

1. I certainly don’t need her china doll wig, but I do want to note that when Anna Friel wears that black bobbed wig, she looks exactly like Ellen Green. I’ve never noticed how good that casting was before. I miss Ellen Green. Please let Aunt Vivian sing this season!

2. J’adore that yellow linen coat with the Peter Pan collar. J’must haves it!

The Husband:

This week on Private Practice, they finally decided to deal with my favorite character personality trait on the show. While I like the irony of Violet, a psychiatrist who can barely keep herself together, and Addison is a neonatal surgeon who is physically incapable of bearing children, most of the rest of the characters just don’t have much special going for them. Naomi is destructively impulsive, Sam is too concerned with money, Dell just has a major crush on Naomi and Pete is just…Pete.

Ah, but Cooper is something I find quite brilliant. He’s a pediatrician and a sex addict. My biggest complaint about this show is that they simply don’t explore this hilarious, harrowing and very interesting bit of competing forces, instead simply giving him a hyper-sexual partner in the form of Dr. Charlotte King which seemingly lets him off the hook. This week, he is given a story worthy of his character quirks. Finally!

A very interesting case comes through his office, as a mother is worried about her son Braden, who was a very vocal kid until he turned four, at which time he became completely silent and detached. It’s not autism, and she’s gone to so many other doctors that any explanation Cooper could ruminate on is shot down quickly with “we already tried that.” Then the mother cocks her head to the side and says that Cooper seems very familiar to her. But from where?

Just because youve seen my penis doesnt mean Im not a good doctor.

Just because you've seen my penis doesn't mean I'm not a good doctor.

The adult dating Internet sites! Apparently Cooper has – on over ten different sites apparently – posted nude pictures of himself for the world to see, and while his lover Charlotte admits to having some, too, she took hers down after realizing it could affect her career. Cooper? Not so smart, so the mother takes her son away from him and vows to never return. But hey, at least Cooper knows that, since the mother was at the same sites he was at, she was being a bit hypocritical.

“Just so you know, you’re the pot calling the kettle pervert!” – Cooper

He does a bit more research and asks Sam for his advice, suddenly happening upon Braden’s problem – he has been having seizures while he is sleeping, something the mother wouldn’t have known, and that is affecting him so much during the day that he is completely unable to communicate. He goes to the mother’s house and is turned away, but he yells through the door that he finally has the answer. The next day, Braden is treated with some prednisone and almost immediately begins healing.

Sadly, we will be doing a hymenoplasty story this week. And yes, it will be as lame as you think it will be.

Sadly, we will be doing a hymenoplasty story this week. And yes, it will be as lame as you think it will be.

Addison was left with the lamer story, something that I think would be more interesting if it was on television about five years ago, but in 2008 it just feels like it’s been done so many times. Sharbat, an Afghan woman, comes into the practice with her mother, claiming that she has been raped, and since she has an impending arranged marriage back in her home country, she’ll need a hymenoplasty, stat! Addison sees right through her, though, noticing that the vagina has had plenty of play since the day Sharbat was claimed to be raped, leading her to admit that she had a boyfriend, one she was simply having fun with but couldn’t see herself marrying. After much ethnical dilemma consideration – just do it, Addison, since it apparently poses no actual health risks – she goes through with the procedure despite her Western feminist opposition.

We also find out that Pete used to work in Doctors Without Borders, but all that really comes of this plot is seeing Jayne Brook twice on ABC in one week, having played Scotty’s mother in Sunday’s episode of Brothers & Sisters and this time being a Nigeria-based humanitarian doctor and Pete’s former flame. I always dug her from Chicago Hope, despite my mother’s weekly complaints that she had a “chipmunk face,” and I’m happy to see her getting some good work again.

In the world of ex-spouses Naomi and Sam, they have been fighting so much about how the practice should be run that they ask the rest of the main staff to vote for who should be the head administrator, and spend the rest of the episode campaigning for their position. Sick of listening to the Naomi-Sam bickering (so much that Addison refuses to vote) and just wanting them to get back together as a couple, the staff does the unexpected – when the votes are tallied, the numbers are:

Sam – 1 vote (himself)

Naomi – 1 vote (herself)

Addison – 4 votes

Oh noes! Addison is now the reluctant administrator of the practice, and while this could definitely hurt her relationship with the S.W.A.T. guy and put her under even more pressure than she can handle, I should remind you that Addison was in the running to take over as chief at Seattle Grace, so if anything she was once prepared for a much harder job. Please return to us, the Addison we know from Grey’s Anatomy, and teach this Addison from Private Practice how to act like a real and interesting character.

Fun little note: If I’m watching a show after my wife has fallen asleep (which is about half the stuff I write about), I tend to keep the volume down and turn on closed-captioning at the same time so as not to wake her. I actually enjoy watching many shows like this as it gives me an added appreciation for a show’s writing, but I am far more amused at the sporadic sounds described in brackets. My favorite from last night was the discovery that when hooked up to a heart monitor, closed-captioning likes to describe it as “[Monitor Beeping Rhythmically].” How completely understated and cold. That’s someone’s heart you’re talking about, closed-captioning!

The Wife:

Tyra must have realized how awesome last year’s The Amazing Race episode in Amsterdam was, because she and the folks at Bankable Productions made the models hotfoot it around Amsterdam the minute they arrive in an effort to “get to know the city” and “find their house.” Samantha paired up with her mortal enemy Elina, a pairing which proved quite vital as the two girls managed to find their new Amsterdam home first and therefore won 25 extra frames a piece in the upcoming photoshoot. Analeigh paired up with her BFF Marjorie for a second place finish and McKey paired up with Sheena, who was so excited about making it to the house first that she was crushed with Dutch model Daphne Deckers (and host of Holland’s Next Top Model) told her she was last. Luckily for Sheena and McKey, there’s no chance of being Phileminated on this show. I do wish, however, that instead of getting to know the public transportation system in Amsterdam (which, by the way, has very cool light rail trains), Tyra had just gone ahead and cribbed the entirety of the TAR Amsterdam episode and had the models find specially marked bicycles amid the throngs of bicycles and ride them to distant locations, or possibly even have the models hoist furniture into their new apartment using a system of pulleys. Hey, if tiny little Rachel of TAR winners Rachel and TJ can do it, I’m damn sure Hunchback of Notre Dame Marjorie can throw her awkward weight into the challenge and pull out ahead.

In the house, all of their girls except for McKey and Samantha the Retarded Troll Doll decide to take a bath together, which Samantha refers to as a lesbian act and McKey refers to as a “vajayjay shaving party.” Rather than bonding naked with their housemates, Sam and McKey sulk under their respective covers. Frankly, that bath couldn’t have been anywhere near as gay as the hottub moment when Elina made out with Clark. Jesus, ladies, you’re in Europe! Pretend you’re at a bathhouse and just enjoy some relaxing sudsing time with some other attractive women!

Other house moments include:


  • Samantha actually wearing her hair in a ponytail jutting from the top of her head, thus making her actually look like a retarded troll doll. (It’s like she’s been reading my mind!)
  • Sheena in her awful pants commenting on the Tyra Post being non-digital (and in a pair of clogs!) as “old school,” which freaked me out because I had that exact thought, thus meaning Sheena and I are evidently on the same sort of wavelength. That scares me.
  • Elina commenting on how much Amsterdam reminds her of Ukraine, prompting Samantha in the diary room to comment that if Elina loves Amsterdam so much, she should just compete for Holland’s Next Top Model and get the hell out of this competition. This is a helpful suggestion, but I can foresee the fact that Elina doesn’t speak Dutch (that I know of) to be a problem.


The next day, the models head off to the Red Light District where the head of Red Light Fashion Amsterdam tells the girls about the fashion shows he puts on in brothel windows, to celebrate Amsterdam’s rich history of legalized prostitution, and probably to play with the idea that women in those windows are selling their bodies, but models, with their bodies, are selling clothes! It’s deep, everyone!

The girls once again team up, this time Elina pairs with Analeigh, Sheena with Marjorie and Samantha with McKey, which is appropriate, because they’re apparently on the same team these days. (I still want you, McKey, but I would like you better if you stopped being friends with Samantha.) Elina and Analeigh were paired with designer Jan, whose collection was about creating romantic silhouettes and jackets that women could wear while riding horses. I didn’t see any jackets in his window collection, but whatever, I’ll assume they exist somewhere. Analeigh had trouble posing in her big pouffy dress that kept getting caught in the sparkly mcdangly things hanging from the ceiling. Elina, on the other hand, was loved by Miss J and the designers, who found her to be very high fashion. Sheena and Marjorie were paired with designed Bas, whose collection was influenced by punk rock rebellion and the avant garde, which we should have anticipated from the multiple piercings on Jan’s face. Miss J loved Marjorie’s commitment to out-there poses, but said this of Sheena:

“You look like you belong in that window.”


Ouch. Burn. Samantha and McKey were paired with Edwin, my favorite designer of the three, who based his pieces and window on the idea of a dollhouse. Sam and McKey worked really well together in the window, giving and taking direction from one another. They also had the easiest poses to convey (being doll-like), but they did do the best job overall and had the best-looking clothes so they rightfully won the prize: an invitation back to Amsterdam to walk the runways in Amsterdam Fashion Week.

Elina, a dominating force that wants you to actually think about things for once in your pitiful existence!

Elina, a dominating force that wants you to actually think about things for once in your pitiful existence!

During this challenge, Samantha expressed her discomfort with the entire notion of legal prostitution, which she doesn’t view as any different than the standard, American illegal kind. She finds that “disrespectful.” To whom? Does she mean that she doesn’t think it’s respectable? That must be it. Earlier in the episode, Elina had expressed in diary room that she doesn’t see anything wrong with legal prostitution because it’s a choice that the women make for themselves and if they want to do that, then that’s cool. Once again, I agree with Elina, who seems to be the only person in the house who thinks about things and has opinions that an informed person would have. When prostitution is legal, and the girls who participate in it are protected by law, and when they choose to become prostitutes, then prostitution can actually be an empowering choice to make as a woman. The problem comes when, like in most of America (except some counties in Nevada), women are not given the choice and are forced into prostitution either by someone or because they have no other way to feed their family. That’s not empowering, nor is it right. But when prostitution is legal, protected and the participant’s choice? Go for it, girl. That’s honest work.

When Samantha comments about the respectability of prostitution in Amsterdam, Elina asks her why it matters that it be a respectable job, a question Samantha cannot actually answer and so gets angry with Elina instead. This is a stupid fight, once again, because one side of the argument completely outmatches the other, and Samantha laments the fact that now she and Elina, who were on the same page when they were playing ANTM TAR, are now “like, 100 pages away” from one another ideologically. By the way, until this episode, I had no idea that McKey was on the pro-America side of last week’s American Ideology vs. European Ideology argument. She also apparently finds Elina to be “ugly from the inside out,” which is unfortunate. I’m sorry that no one on ANTM likes smart women with strong, well-formed opinions.

The following day, the girls head off to their photoshoot in the Amsterdam harbor, where they will celebrate the city’s long-standing maritime traditions (see: slave trading) by posing in “mid-century dress” on a boat. During the shoot, two things of note happened:

  1. Elina totally zoned out during her shoot and was so focused on what she was doing that she didn’t hear Mr. Jay’s constructive criticism, which is not good.
  2. Sheena continued to make everyone think she’s a whore by straddling various parts of the ship during her shoot.

“It’s interesting to me that Sheena always finds the most lewd poses.” –Mr. Jay

Also, I don’t know who decided to describe those outfits as “mid-century,” because there’s nothing mid-century about them. Samantha’s red plaid leg-of-mutton jacket was super cute, though.

At panel, Tyra once again claimed the title of Black Sofia Loren with this photo:

RAWR! TRYA HATE LITTLE BOATS!

RAWR! TRYA HATE LITTLE BOATS!

The judges found Elina’s photo to be good, but that her film was stiff and a little too focused. Still, she was the only girl to be told that her photo was “high fashion.” Sheena was called out for her odd choice of outfit at judging, which included some really cheap looking bloomer-type pants, which she attempted to defend by claiming that her outfit was Moschino, prompting Tyra to give this great advice:

“Just because it’s name brand don’t mean it’s right.”


Which I think is the advice someone should have given Showgirls‘ Nomi Malone about her Versace. Paulina said of Sheena’s photo, “The face is beautiful and the clothes are beautiful, but that’s about it.” Everyone loved Analeigh’s picture and were happy that she finally learned how to use her skating background in her modeling. McKey’s judging outfit involved layers of brown fabric formed into a skirt and a chain mail bodice, which the judges found kind of freaky, prompting Nigel to declare that that’s good because “fashion loves a bit of freak.” (Truth, Barker. Truth.) Tyra loved her shot and declared, “That’s a fashion shot.” Marjorie was criticized for the weird placement of her hand that made it look as though it was growing from her back, but otherwise, the judges thought she delivered a strong photo. Daphne Deckers wondered why Marjorie was so odd in person, but so fucking fierce on set. Samantha the Retarded Troll Doll showed up to panel in a pink long sleeved shirt and a tan skirt that made her look simultaneously dowdy and juvenile, which is an amazing feat.


“I have fashion issues.” – Samantha


Tyra attempted to do an on-the-spot makeover on Sam by shortening her skirt and pulling her top off her shoulder, only to discover that there is no saving this outfit short of burning it.

“I think Sam had the very first makeover I’ve done on the spot that just did not work.” –Tyra


Callouts: McKey, Analeigh, Marjorie, Samantha, leaving Elina and Sheena to fight it out in the bottom two. Elina had previously had a dream that she and Sheena would be crying together, which has apparently played out at panel, minus the crying. Tyra decided to save Elina, who is definitely a better model then Sheena, even if no one likes her personality. Sheena just tried and tried and tried to stop being so hoochie, but couldn’t break the habit. You can take the girl out of Queens, but you can’t take the Queens out of the girl. I’m sure Sheena will have a long career modeling for hip hop clothing companies, and possibly even running an accessories boutique on Fashion Ave.

Sheena, trying to rope you in one final time.

Sheena, trying to rope you in one final time.

Oddly, I think this is the first ANTM season ever where all of the final five models are white. Weird, huh? Looking forward to go sees and the Tyra shoot next week, and more stupid fights, of course.

The Husband:

Now that Sheena is gone (finally!), maybe Mukymuk* can realize that she’s been quickly becoming a member of the Hater Nation, led up by the two S’s (Sheena and Samantha), and then decide to regain her former cool ways before it’s too late. I like you, Mithrail*, and I still think that you deserve to be in the top two with Marjorie – sorry Elina, you need to work it next week or you are fucking out of there – but a lot of your ignorance shone through this week.

I’d expect a MMA fighter like yourself – and your boyfriend – who lives only 30 miles north of Chicago to be a little more understanding of alternate lifestyles and immigrant culture, so I’m kind of baffled that you would liken a frickin’ bath to a lesbian free-for-all. Elina may be a lesbian, Mabbawabba*, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve your respect and understanding.

Pirate McKey cares not for your homeland or your sexual orientation!

Pirate McKey cares not for your homeland or your sexual orientation!

And you, Mnemonic*, should probably brush up on your international diplomacy skills, as you twice mistook Elina’s homeland, the Ukraine, for Russia, which is not the same place at all. That’s like me calling you a Nicaraguan. I’m reminded of a conversation in Clueless between Cher, her immigrant maid and her ex-step brother:

Cher: Lucy, the fire department called again. They said we need to clear out that bush. You said you’d get Jose to do it.
Lucy: He your gardener, I don’t know why you no tell him.
Cher: Lucy, you know I don’t speak Mexican.
Lucy: I NOT A MEXICAN.

[Lucy storms out of the kitchen.]

Cher: Great, what was that all about?
Josh: Lucy’s from El Salvador.
Cher: So?
Josh: So, it’s an entirely different country.
Cher: What does that matter?
Josh: You get mad if anyone thinks you live below Sunset.

And maybe we give Molar* the benefit of the doubt, as a good many Americans mistakenly call the former U.S.S.R. “Russia” when Russia was just a part of the it – for some reason, apparently a lot of people think that U.S.S.R. has the word “Russia” somewhere in its name (it doesn’t) – but then I have to bring this up: Elina is 19 (really? 19? Both my wife and I erroneously thought she was more like 22) and the U.S.S.R. finally dissolved in 1991, so she was only one or two years old when Ukraine became an independent nation. No Russian there, sorry.

Come on, Moonraker*, be that kickass person from earlier in the season, and flush Samantha like a used tampon (eww…what?).

Obviously, I just like giving McKey silly names, like Mongo*.

“Mongo only pawn in game of life…”

*An arbitrary name for the equally arbitrary made-up name McKey.

The Wife:

I found this week’s House to be strangely unsettling and the more I think about it, it’s probably one of the finer pieces of writing the House team has produced this year. This week we got two POWs: a 37-year-old man who lives in a pristine, undecorated household with his young, apathetic daughter, both of whom seem to be sleepwalking through life and the biological mother of the baby Cuddy has been approved to adopt, Becca, who ultimately must make the choice between saving her own life and the life of her baby.

In House’s case, Taub and Thirteen discover that the patient literally is sleepwalking through life. His brain is producing motor function when he should be sleeping. He can even drive a car out to get cheap cocaine while he sleeps. The cocaine he buys is cut with milk powder (probably one of the better things you could cut coke with), which leads the team to think he might be lactose intolerant. This bit of evidence, combined with a display of jaundice from kidney failure and sweating blood, finally leads House to the epiphany that this man has Familial Mediterranean Fever (even though he has a Whitey McWhiteman name, he’s actually Persian and changed his name after 9/11), a condition that causes lactose intolerance, sleepwalking and anhedonia, the inability to experience and display emotions, especially joy. His daughter, who offered emotionlessly to give up her kidney to save her father, also had the disease. When their treatments finally begin to kick in, the two share a wide smile together for what must be the first time in a number of lonely gray years.

It doesn't seem like she's feeling . . . feelings.

It doesn't seem like she's feeling . . . feelings.

In Cuddy’s case, she brings in the biological mother of her adoptive child because she notices a lace-patterned rash on Becca’s arm. This leads to the discovery that Becca’s baby’s lungs are underdeveloped and Becca’s placenta is bleeding. If Becca delivers early, she will survive but risk the baby’s life. If she delivers in two weeks when the baby’s lungs are more developed, she might die, even if Cuddy and Cameron keep her on plasma and bedrest for the duration of that time. Cuddy goes to House to help her make a decision as the lead doctor on the case. House considers this yet another test in his plot to torture Cuddy/see if she’s ready to adopt a child with her busy hospital administrator lifestyle. Cuddy wants to deliver Becca later to ensure that her baby, tentatively named Joy, will survive, thus giving her the thing she so desperately wants. House warns her that this is not the most medically sound decision, as it is worse to risk the mother’s life than that of the child, especially if that child might not live anyway. (Cuddy only admitted Becca after becoming slightly paranoid from House’s numerous warnings that adopted babies are not the cream of the crop, so to speak.)

Cuddy tries to encourage Becca to deliver later, but Becca insists that she simply can’t do that, and that she feels really awful about potentially taking Joy away from Cuddy if the baby were to die. Becca chose Cuddy from numerous profiles at the adoption website specifically because she wanted her baby to have a mother who wasn’t “a loser” former meth addict, but someone who was successful and powerful and well-off, like Cuddy – someone entirely unlike Becca and her mother and her mother’s mother. I admire Becca’s sentiments about wanting to give her child the best life possible, as I think that’s really want any parent wants for their child. Becca chooses to deliver early and save her own life. Naturally Chase, the only surgeon at Princeton-Plainsboro, performs the Caesarian section. This scene was one of the most intense I’ve ever seen on this show, with Cuddy calling out to her weak-lunged child to “Cry, Joy! Cry!” – a desperate plea from a would-be mother to will her dream to life. After cleaning her lungs of amniotic fluid and, I assume, a butt-slap, Joy cries out loud and clear, filling her lungs with air and life and filling Cuddy’s nearly-broken heart with, well, joy.

House immediately pulls Cuddy away from her baby to help him deal with the kidney transplant consent for his case, urging her to get used to saying the words that she will inevitably saying for the rest of little Joy’s life: “Mommy has to go to work now.” (True, hospital administrators do work a lot, but in the real world, each department also has an administrator, so that people like Cuddy don’t have to work 24 hours a day, save for being constantly on-call.) When Cuddy later returns to check on Becca, Becca informs her that she no longer wants to give up Joy and that she’s really sorry about filling a wonderful person like Cuddy with such hope and then knocking her down a peg. Cuddy responds to this politely, but then returns home to pack up all of the baby things she had bought and to wallow in the grief of a parent who has lost a child. House, contrite, comes to check on Cuddy, where she informs him that this was her only chance to become a mother, and that she can’t put herself through a loss like this again. He assures her that she would have been a wonderful parent, which she balks at because he spent this entire episode showing her how shitty and selfish of a parent she could be. House cannot respond, save only to lean in, almost in a trance-like state, and kiss her.

The saddest kiss in the world.

The saddest kiss in the world.

While the “finding happiness” theme in both plots was a little more obvious, I liked that the subtext of Cuddy and House finally kissing in that trancelike state connected to the fact that House’s patients this week were also sleepwalking through life, just as Cuddy and House seem to sleepwalk through their obvious attraction to one another. Both of the cases in this episode were unfathomable to me: I cannot imagine quite what it would be like to spend years of your life sleepwalking, utterly joyless and never notice, nor can I imagine what its like to give up a child, or worse, to take a child away from someone. These are all horrible things, but none were as horrible as the tense moments after Joy’s birth where no one was sure if she would live or die.

I reiterate: pregnancy is scary. And yet seeing those moments where Cuddy was so happy to hold that child make all the terror worth it. Even a few moments of joy seem to be worth all of the horror in the world, especially the horror of never knowing happiness at all.

The Husband:

At this point in the world of movies and TV, I would be more surprised if, in a story that involved a surrogate mother and her relationship to the receiving person/family, the surrogate actually goes through and gives up her baby. Every single fucking movie and show does the exact same thing, the surrogate mother seeing her child and suddenly changing her mind, crying and apologizing to the recipient, and we as an audience are supposed to feel sad, but it’s hard to do that anymore.

(Juno, of course, did a nice job breaking this trend, but my favorite variation on the story is Christopher McQuarrie’s shoot-‘em-up The Way of the Gun, which is just so over-the-top violent and complicated that the surrogacy catalyst involving a very woozy Juliette Lewis is pretty much just a MacGuffin and not an actual point of emotion.)

Thank God it worked here on House, though, because we have been following Cuddy’s issues with being a mother for years now, and it really did do a great job of leading us to believe that Cuddy would, in fact, receive the baby. However, once the baby takes its first breath and cries, I just sat and waited for the inevitable. Props to Lisa Edelstein for doing such an incredible job with the scene in which the inevitable happens, because otherwise I’d just roll my eyes. (Hey, surrogate mother, are you willing to pay for all the medical bills that Cuddy would have 100% eaten had you given up your baby? I didn’t think so.)

After a fairly haphazard first few episodes this year, I think House is probably as good as it’s ever been, and if they can keep the quality up for the rest of the season, the Emmy-winning “House’s Head” won’t be the only episode that is truly considered a classic.

And the kiss was fantastic. Much better than Izzy and Karev last week on Grey’s Anatomy as far as long-gestating hospital-based show kisses go.

The Husband:

No good deed goes unpunished, and no bad deed goes away completely. At least, that’s what Privileged has been getting at for a few weeks now, culminating in this episode heavy on family interaction and parallels between the Smiths and the Bakers.

Megan decides that in order for the twins to achieve their college goals, they have to beef up their extracurricular activities, so she signs them up for Once Upon a Dress, a charity that helps takes used dresses and gives them to a selection of public high school girls to wear to their dance. Rose and Sage are disgusted by the ugly hand-me-downs, but agree in order to receive a signature from the charity’s leader on their volunteer sheet. Outside the public high school, Megan spots somebody she hasn’t seen in years – her own father.

You see, Megan has kept it quiet so far that she is back in Florida after college and a failed New York writing career, and this includes not telling her alcoholic father. Worried that he may have spotted her, she decides to visit him at the docks where he works as a boat cruise tour guide, only to discover that he is 18 months sober and is looking/acting better than ever. With the permission of an out-of-town Laurel, she invites her father over to Chez Baker for a close personal dinner.

Three little maids from school are we!

Three little maids from school are we!

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned, as Megan’s father invites Lily as a bit of a buffer, Lily invites Will the Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy, and Rose and Sage invite themselves instead of working on the dresses.

What I found particularly interesting was how much Rose connected to Papa Smith having only seen him for a fleeting second outside of the high school, telling Sage that she imagines him to be soft-spoken and have a good smile, only to have Sage tell her that she’s describing their own dead father. It seems that despite their assurances that they only need each other to survive, Rose is just as damaged as Megan in the parents-being-gone department – Mama Smith ditches the family when Megan was seven under circumstances that are still mysterious and argued over – and could be a good counterpart of loneliness to Megan’s crappy love life.

At the dinner, Megan is pissed that Charlie would ditch her and the dinner to which she invited him – as her own kind of buffer against Papa Smith and bitchy sister Lily – but has no idea how explosive the dinner is going to get. While Lily continues to be her argumentative, bitchy self, Sage notices that Lily is absent-mindedly wearing the tennis bracelet she stole from Rose during the pool party weeks earlier (you know, the one that Rose lied about having lent out to a friend so as to not have the Smith Sisters battle each other verbally once again) and all hell breaks loose. Rose tries to protect her decision to lie about the tennis bracelet, while the immature Lily storms off, and then can’t even defend her theft to sort-of-boyfriend Will the Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy, leading them to break up.

g

Honey, you're interrupting this delightful conversation about creme brulee.

In the kitchen, Papa Smith is having a conversation with Marco the personal chef about crème brûlée when Megan comes to apologize for their personal night getting so out of control. Papa Smith understands, but he accidentally lets slip that despite Megan’s request, Charlie had informed him of Megan’s return to Florida almost immediately after it happened. Why would Papa Smith pretend to not know this information during that conversation at the docks? Because he understands that he was once a very horrible father to both Megan and Lily and didn’t want to be a disappointment to her, basically allowing her to make the first move in their reconciliation.

People are all about change on Privileged, and it’s energizing to see a show deal with it in such mature terms. Papa Smith isn’t disappointed in Megan for not telling him about her FL return and instead is trying his best to be everything he wasn’t before she left for college. There are bigger fish to fry than simple petty arguments, which is something which Lily is extremely adept at sticking to. I have a hard time understanding why Lily and Charlie are so mad at Megan all the time for apparently being self-centered/selfish, because I see it as Megan acting like a responsible adult and knowing that her tutoring job could make or break her, and while that may push aside some of her personal life, they should understand that she is trying her damndest to be a mature human being about all the facets of her life. That’s what made the final confrontation with Charlie work on more than one, as Megan isn’t wrong for doing what she’s doing in FL but can’t seem to hold onto her friends, and Charlie is letting his secret romantic interest in her override his own sensibilities. (Bonus points for Megan calling Charlie a “dick,” which is not a word I thought you could use on a network show at 9 p.m., but hey, I’m all for progress.)

I also think it’s just about time for Megan to give up on trying to help Lily be anything other than what she is, because as they say, you can’t save somebody who doesn’t want to be saved. There are only so many times Megan can put up with her sister’s bullshit and unnecessary swipes without it truly taking a piece out of her. Take this phone conversation when Lily informs Megan that she will be present at Chez Baker for the dinner.

Lily: Don’t expect me to be nice.
Megan: I never do.

What sisters talk like that?

And as for the Baker Twins and their charity? Sage decides that the dresses they took home to alter are so hideous that they start ripping them apart, trying to fix them as much as they can and ignoring the help offered by their butler Rami.

“Yeah, Diane Von Furstenberg? She taught me how to top-stitch when I was 10.” – Rose

Because they spent so little time working on the actual dresses due to the explosive Smith dinner down below, they decide to give up and buy brand new dresses for the seven public high school girls, pissing off Pam the charity worker in the process for missing the point of the charity entirely. But the high school girls themselves are ecstatic at being able to wear designer garments and are very thankful to the Bakers, leading Pam to sign their volunteer sheet.

“Every girl deserves one night where they get to feel like a queen, and the best way to feel like a queen is to wear Alexander McQueen.” – Sage

I’m hoping that upcoming episodes can soften Sage a bit more, or at least delve into her damaged psyche a bit, because while I like her character and the actress, the Blairitude is really starting to grate, and not in the interesting way of story conflict. It just hurts my brain.

Quick Note: Why is Tim Burton’s Batman listed on IMDB as one of the recommendations for those who watch this Privileged? I know that engine is a little faulty, but Batman? Really?

The Wife:

I don’t watch this show, but I would like to note that Prom Gown donation programs are really cool. A couple of girls at my high school made that their charity every year and lead dress donation drives for The Princess Project so that underprivileged girls in The Mission District and in Richmond and Oakland could afford to go to their high school proms and feel like princesses for a day.

I may complain about how silly the high school dance plots on 90210 are, but I like the very John Hughesian idea that everyone, no matter how poor, should be able to feel like a princess at prom and not have to resort to making a shitty dress like Andie in Pretty in Pink. (Seriously, that dress is fugly.) So while Once Upon a Dress is not a real prom dress charity, check out The Cinderella Project for information about where you can donate prom dresses in your area. Most of these programs will only take gowns less than 2 years old (so that the girls who get them don’t look out of date and therefore aren’t laughed at by their peers for it), so if you, your friends or your daughters have any prom dresses that they might be willing to give to another girl so she can have a special night, please do so.

The Wife:

And so, after that great drug-bust episode and a three-week hiatus, 90210 returns to its status quo. That is to say, not being very interesting and pretty unfocused.

I wanted to like the Adriana Goes to Rehab storyline, but it all seemed very rushed. After her overdose, Adriana confesses that the drugs were hers and, since it’s her first offense, her lawyer gets her into rehab instead of jailtime/community service. Naomi still gets in trouble for possession, but since it’s her first offense, the police decide to let the school deal with it. Rather than expel her, Principal Wilson offers her detention every day for the rest of the semester, which she takes. Really, 90210? Really? Rather than create a multi-episode arc detailing what actually happens to kids who face drug charges and potentially creating real drama on your show, you’re just going to dispel that conflict in one brief scene in the principal’s office? Really? What gives? I thought we were building toward real storytelling here with what you established in “Hollywood Forever,” but you’ve apparently decided to throw that all away and turn a juicy plot into a tiff between Adriana and Naomi.

You girls are off the hook. Now fight it out between yourselves.

You girls are off the hook. Now fight it out between yourselves.

So instead of seeing these girls have to fight to make their lives normal again, they’re lives are instantly returned to normalcy and they have to be mad at each other instead. Well, Naomi is still mad at Adriana for what she did to her when Naomi was only trying to be nice. Adriana, on the other hand, suddenly wants to be Naomi’s best friend again and uses lovestruck Navid (who suddenly is in love with Adriana and paid for her to go to the finest rehab facility in all the land) to try to send messages to her friend (which Naomi deletes from her Sidekick), and ultimately uses him to escape rehab and confront Naomi at Homecoming. When Naomi still refuses to be friends with Adriana, on whom Naomi feels she has wasted all of her good intentions because Adriana keeps falling back into drug use and clearly doesn’t want Naomi’s help, Adriana indeed falls back into the arms of her dealer, until knight in shining armor Navid pulls her out of the car and confesses his feelings for her, as though that’s supposed to make her not want to do coke.

So, like, I guess Ill see you at the dance? And well, like, dance and stuff?

So, like, I guess I'll see you at the dance? And we'll, like, dance and stuff?

Meanwhile, Annie becomes Naomi’s friend and decides to go to the dance with Ethan, Naomi’s ex, but only if they don’t go as “dates” and just meet up and dance instead, so that no one’s feelings get hurt. Unfortunately, this does hurt Naomi’s feelings and she tells Annie that they can’t be friends if Annie’s going to be with Ethan. It’s weird to date your friend’s ex, Naomi rationalizes. And it kind of is. Especially when he’s as weird as Ethan. I’m not entirely sure why Naomi should care so much, especially because she has the attention of troublemaker Ozzie, whom she met in detention and who flirts with her in white people Spanish throughout this episode. (Is he a narc, too? Just like all the Latin people on this show?)

Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Clark continue their strange territorial tiff over Principal Wilson, who, in high school, fathered a son with Tracy, who all of a sudden is being a bitch to Debbie. They duke this out with false niceties at the dance, until Debbie threatens to punch Tracy’s face so hard that her teeth fall out, per her drunken mother-in-law Tabitha’s advice. (Tabitha, by the way, has evidently decided to switch from iced tea to Kool Aid, which is a better place to hide vodka but a worse place to hide rum.) I realize that this illegitimate son issue has been established previously and that it should matter, but it’s odd that Debbie, who is so okay with her husband having an illegitimate child, would so completely overreact to the fact that these two ex-lovers (who haven’t been together in roughly 20 years, by the way) shared a kiss. I’d be way more upset about the illegitimate child, personally. A kiss is fucking nothing compared to that.

Mr. Matthews also gets to play in this episode, when he caught Kim the Random Latina Narc buying drugs at the dance. Matthews has been very uncomfortable with Kim’s advances toward him and has told her many times to stop, so he sees her drug purchase as a way to make this problem student go away. He hands her over to Principal Wilson, who is already busy trying to keep his wife and his baby mama from killing each other in public, who says he’ll take care of the problem. Matthews is incensed at Wilson’s nonchalance and Kim decides to stop Matthew’s tirade of crazy (the most acting Ryan Eggold has had to do on this show, like, ever) by telling him that she’s a cop. She later swears him to secrecy about this situation, to which he agrees. And then they make out, after checking that she is indeed 25, of course.

Curses! My cover is blown! Now Ill have to blow that teacher to get him to keep quiet!

Curses! My cover is blown! Now I'll have to blow that teacher to get him to keep quiet!

And in one final crammed-in plotline, Silver hates homecoming and schedules an appointment to get her wisdom teeth removed just so she won’t have to go. Dixon, who really wanted to take her, stays home with her instead, just to make her happy, pretending he hates dances, too. But when Annie calls from the dance to check in on Silver, she blurts out that Dixon really loves dances and therefore must love Silver more if he’s willing to stay home with her instead. Silver throws on a dress and downs some Vicodin and heads to the dance with Dixon, just to make him as happy as he made her earlier in the evening. I get that Silver is supposed to be cool and a rebel and all, but not going to a school dance is kind of stupid. All my friends were strange, anti-establishment people, but we still went to school dances and had the best time ever just hanging out together. Plus, a dance is a great place to be when you’re on Vicodin. It makes everything extra fun.

See how crowded and unfocused this episode is? Imagine how good it could have been if the writers hadn’t decided to dispatch with the real Adriana drama instead of patching things up so neatly in order to move on to the petty high school bullshit.

The Husband:

Can we focus on one bit of dialogue that has been repeating in my head for the last 12 hours, one that simply will not go away no matter what song I may listen to in order to override it and get it out of my head? I think it’s up there with the most unnecessary and pointless lines in this television season, and I’m left baffled at its existence.

When Naomi and her friends are getting ready for the homecoming dance, one of her friends declares that she hates thongs, stating that “it makes me feel like there’s someone’s thumb in my ass.” And then nobody talks to her for the rest of the scene.

Excuse me…What? Cool analogy, random 9fneh character.

NOT!

There is also something I’ve been meaning to discuss in previous entries for 9fneh and have simply not gotten around to it yet, but I’m very confused by Ethan as a character. Each week he is somebody completely different, seemingly changing personalities simply to serve whatever plot is happening that week, and his relationship with Annie is less of a will-they-won’t-they so much as which-alien-pod-creature-is-inhabiting-Ethan’s-body-this-week?

I’ve learned to deal with this by treating the show as if it restarts anew every single week, much like a good deal of Adult Swim programming – specifically Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021 – where at the end of each 12-minute episode, most of the characters are dead, only to be back the next week as if nothing happened.

Is Ethan the new Kenny from South Park? Should the writers start taking suggestions on what his personality should be week-by-week? It’d be more interesting than the Annie-Ethan-Naomi love triangle, that’s for sure.

I also hate to be nitpicky about real life details being ignored on television – if I did, I wouldn’t still be watching the awesome but logic- and physics-defying Prison Break – but I know that at my school, you need to buy your tickets to homecoming dance way before the night itself, so Dixon and Silver would never be able to just suddenly show up whenever they goddamn wanted to. Hey, I’m from California, too – all of you confused about the being 15 and allowed to have a driver’s permit, that’s how we roll in CA – so I guess I’ll have to chalk it up to a combination of me going to a Catholic high school and writer laziness.

The Wife:

Oh, Jenny Humphrey, fashion superstar and miniature trainwreck in the making. This week, Little J got an edgy new haircut and learned how to use black eyeliner, all to reflect her diligence at being a fashionista. You know, being homeschooled and working full-time for Eleanor Waldorf. At Waldorf Designs, J meets a young model named Agnes who convinces her that she has more talent than Eleanor could ever hope to have again. J finds that this evidence is corroborated by the fact that Eleanor won’t let her sit in on meetings with the buyers, and even more by the fact that Eleanor demands that little J remake her plaid harajuku dress in Waldorf fabrics so that Eleanor can pass it off as her own. When J and Agnes spent a night partying and Jenny produces an inferior version of the dress, Eleanor chastises her for putting parties before work and Jenny calls Eleanor out on her abuses of the young fashionista’s talents and quits, but not before stealing back both of her designs.

Harumph!

Harumph!

After J announces to Nate that she’s quitting Eleanor’s to start her own line (because if Kira Pastinina can do it, so can little Jenny Humprey!), Nate begins to worry about the suddenly reckless lifestyle Little J is leading and he tails her to Agnes’s boyfriend’s apartment where he finds the two girls dancing in their underwear. Nate is boring as hell, but he’s totally right about this one. It seemed a little out of character of J to go this far off the deep end, or at least begin her descent so spectacularly. But then again, the first season informs us that she’s a consummate follower of whatever is deemed cool at the moment, so perhaps the idea of adhering to whatever a cool model says is not entirely unfounded. It’s just that when she was with Blair and Co. they were mean, but they weren’t self-destructive. (Destroying other people is much more fun.) Oh yeah, Nate and Jenny hook up after he rescues her. Because that is what Nate does: dates every chick in the Gossip Girl universe.

I spent most of the Little J plot yelling at her for being stupid, as I was much more interested in the Chuck and Blair cat-and-mouse game. I love their witty exchange of bon mots:

Chuck: I’d love to give you a ride.
Blair: I’m sure you would.

And when Blair tries to cop a feel on Chuck at a bar by spilling her drink on his crotch:

“I’m bored. You ruined my pants.”

Dan made an attempt to help Blair, per Serena’s request, to get back in Chuck’s good graces. Dan suggests that Blair make herself completely unavoidable so that Chuck can’t help but want her. This strategy works, until Dan gets word that Chuck and Blair used Vanessa as a pawn in their Cruel Intentions game last week, so Dan decides not to help Blair anymore, humiliating her and costing her Chuck’s heart. Serena lays into Dan about this, and Dan tries to ameliorate the situation by telling Chuck that Blair really does love him. Chuck then goes to Blair’s house where he forces her to realize that the two of them simply can’t be happy together because the reason they love each other is the fact they love to torture each other.

It should be fairly obvious to you all by now that I am a major Chuck and Blair ‘shipper, so I would love nothing more to see them hook up again. In fact, I still don’t see why they can’t just have hate sex outside of a real relationship and just keep up their typical mutual hatred of one another in public. Seems like it wouldn’t be terribly out of the ordinary for them . . .

The Husband:

I was certainly happy to see The O.C.’s Willa Holland’s triumphant return to the Josh Schwartz Universe as Agnes, the skanky, conniving model who has nothing but bad intentions for Little J. I was always amused by her presence on The O.C. during its final season, as I was also tickled that her character, Kaitlin Cooper, left for boarding school in season one and came back as a completely different actress. (Where is that first actress now? Why, she’s the lead of ABC Family’s awesome The Secret Life of the American Teenager.)

Let me help you ruin your future!

Let me help you ruin your future!

I will agree that the Little J story, while interesting, was a little too much too soon for our little fashionista, but I’m glad they’re dealing with the repercussions of dropping out of Constance only a few episodes after it was made final. To me, that means that they have a buttload of stories to deal with for the rest of the season, and GG always works best for me when it always has something in the on-deck circle.

In the storyline that my wife did not mention (because it was kind of weird and we’re also pressed for time today), Serena visits the Humphrey-owned Bedford Art Gallery only to catch the eye of a young up-and-coming artist Aaron Rose, much to the dismay of Dan, who is sidetracked on his own to aid Blair in getting Chuck back into her bed and into her body. (…ewww…sorry for that.) He finally relents and lets Serena know that it’s totally cool if she wants to date again (despite the fact that, hey, he has no right to complain since he tried to start up something with that Amanda chick only a few episodes ago), just as she realizes, thanks to a riddle Aaron proposes to her, that they actually knew each other years earlier when they were at camp as children. Just as she is about to ask him out, though, she spies him hopping onto a motorcycle with an entirely different hot, young chick. Poor Serena.

Coming up on GG? Cyndi Lauper! Put that in your “Time After Time” decorated pipe and smoke it, cuz you’re gonna see some muthafuckin’ true colors up in this beeyotch.

The Wife:

The thing I loved most about “Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer” is the fact that the Buy More was once again integral to Chuck’s spy work. I think the episodes that marry the two worlds are often some of the best, and this one came with the added bonus of telling us a little more about the creepy burnout known as Jeff.

Back in 1983, Jeff was on top of the world. He was king of the slackers, rocked a sweet mullet and had a babe on each arm, all because he could play the hell out of an arcade game called Missile Command. Once Missile Command World Champion, Jeff now seems to barely possess any mental faculties and, somehow, holds down a job at the Buy More. His many tasty options in the lady department have been reduced 25 years later to many tasty options from the Buy More vending machine. With a staff full of Jeff-like slackers, Big Mike brings in efficiency expert Emmett Milbarge (Tony Hale) to monitor the staff at the Buy More. In their interviews with Milbarge, all of the Nerd Herders point to Chuck as their leader, instantly putting Chuck under suspicion.

This is not very efficient, Bartowski.

This is not very efficient, Bartowski.

Chuck flashes on a man in black who comes into the Buy More and learns that the man is looking for Jeff. When Chuck brings this news back to Sarah and Casey, they order him to hang out with Jeff in order to learn more about him and figure out why the terrorists are interested in Jeff. Meanwhile at home, Ellie and Awesome are worried about Chuck’s recent reversion to a directionless existence, as he has been using Morgan as a cover for his late-night spy outings. Ellie comes in to the Orange Orange talk to Sarah about what’s going on with Chuck, citing that she’s worried about her little brother, who was only 12 credits short of graduating Stanford when he was expelled, and his capabilities to complete the big plans he started talking about at the beginning of this season when he thought his spy life was over. Ellie grows even more worried when Chuck comes home carrying a wasted Jeff on his back.

Chuck: How about we grab a beer?
Jeff: No, thanks. I could be enticed to grab a dozen beers, however.

Before Chuck was forced to drag Jeff back to his place, he learned about Jeff’s creepy obsession with Anna, as well as Jeff’s former life as a video game champion. Jeff shows Chuck the news footage of his win (which, by the way, was only $100 in quarters and a year’s supply of Slim Jims), Chuck flashes on Mr. Morimoto, the CEO of Atari. When Chuck brings that news to Sarah and Casey, they discover that Mr. Morimoto, creator of Missile Command, also designed programs for the military that could launch dozens of doomsday missiles from a single satellite.

“The guy who created Missile Command commands actual missiles.” – Chuck

Chuck, Sarah and Casey plot to break into Atari headquarters posing as Nerd Herders. After a failed attempt to help the Atari employees repair their computers (riddled with a virus that Chuck himself created), Chuck and Casey bring in Sarah to create a diversion so that they can sneak upstairs and find Morimoto’s missile disarmament codes. They are too late, however, and they find Morimoto listening to Rush and playing his own video game until the bomb to which it’s rigged explodes in a blaze of glory. Before his death, however, Morimoto is able to tell Chuck that the disarm codes are contained on the fabled “kill screen” of the video game.

Chuck then brings Jeff out of Missile Command retirement, thinking that Jeff is the only person now alive who can get to the kill screen and access the codes so that Casey can remotely disarm the satellite, rather than having the folks up at Vandenberg AFB (in lovely Lompoc, CA) blow up the satellite, causing a potential rainfall of horrible flaming detritus that could kill many civilians. Jeff agrees to do this only if Chuck can create a tournament-style setting for him, with all of his fans and Anna in a hula skirt fanning him down. Morgan, jealous of all the time Chuck has been spending with Jeff, refuses to help put on the tournament until Chuck reassures him that he is indispensable to Chuck and that he is the only person in the Buy More with years of theatre tech experience (“Who was a roadie for Mamma Mia four summers in a row?”). Once Chuck and Morgan have set up the tournament within the Buy More and conceded to all of Jeff’s demands, Chuck flashes on the news reporter covering the event and realizes that the terrorists are using a local TV station to control the satellite, to which Sarah immediately heads off to kick some ass.

Maybe we shouldnt have given him all of those Slim Jims . . .

Maybe we shouldn't have given him all of those Slim Jims . . .

As he is about to take the stage, Jeff gets some serious cold feet and passes out, so Morgan introduces Chuck as a challenger to Jeff’s record. (Chuck is so Jewish, by the way, that his middle name is Irving. Charles Irving Bartowski.) Chuck at first fails the game, and when he is heckled by a Rush fan in the audience he realizes that the reason Morimoto had to play the game to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” is that the song itself is a mathematical formula for how to play the game. Chuck orders Morgan to queue up the song and as Chuck plays along, he finally reaches the kill screen and receives the code. He calls it in to Sarah with 38 second left on the clock. Fortunately, the code works and Chuck has saved the world, Last Starfighter-style, by playing an arcade game really well.

After the tournament, Milbarge, who had been spying on Chuck throughout the episode, is named as the new Assistant Manager of the Buy More by Big Mike. Chuck returns home to apologize to his sister for acting so strangely as of late, and Ellie forgives Chuck immediately because Sarah had told her that Chuck was taking night classes to finish his final 12 credits. Ellie gives him a package to open containing his diploma from Stanford. Chuck confronts Sarah about the diploma, telling her how nice it was of her to make Ellie feel at ease by creating a fake diploma for him. Sarah assures him that it is real, and that she and Casey convinced the dean at Stanford to accept Chuck’s outstanding field service as college internship credit to round out the credits he needed.

All in all, a really good episode where all three of Chuck’s lives (spy life, home life and Buy More life) fused together into one funny and super-geeky plot. Good times. And now, unfortunately, I have Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” stuck in my head.

The Husband:

When the machinations of the plot came into focus, I was sincerely hoping for the Missile Command system to literally be tied to real-life missiles, in which case we’d get a great combination of The Last Starfighter (one of my favorite movies) and Ender’s Game, where video gamers are either recruited or tricked into military service due to their sweet hand-eye coordination and military abilities.

Sittin on the dock of the Buy More.

Sittin' on the dock of the Buy More.

Fortunately, the plot they came up with was just as interesting and a little less derivative, as I love the idea that hidden inside certain Atari games are codes that can change the world. (And hell, Atari did change the world, dammit!) The video gamers of the 80s and the 90s are now the ones in charge of all your money and hold your lives in their hands, so you’d best apologize for bullying them, foo!

There is a bizarre connection, though, that is too specific to be a coincidence, and that is the combination of Atari and the music of Rush. In the s4 episode of Futurama, “Tales of Interest II,” something very similar happens one of the “tales of interest,” which shows as per Fry’s request what it would be like if life were more like a video game. Near the end of the story, Leela looks up and points to the sky in fear.

“Invaders! Possibly from space!” – Leela

Fry, being a video game expert, jumps into a military vehicle and uses his expertise at the Atari game “Space Invaders” to destroy the oncoming extra-terrestrial force coming down toward Earth.

“All right. It’s Saturday night, I have no date, a two-liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mix-tape. Let’s rock.” – Fry

As Fry commands the vehicle and fires lasers into the sky, the song that comes up on the soundtrack is none other than Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” the very same song that was the key to defeated a very similar Atari game in this episode of Chuck.

I know that Rush’s wild and vocal cult following are definitely those who grew up in the Golden Age of videogames, but I was unaware that it so closely tied into these games specifically. Am I missing some bizarre connection – like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and its relation to The Wizard Of Oz – that actually exists in real life? Or is this Chuck taking a joke from Futurama and applying it to an actual plot?

Weird, I know. I guess I should listen to Rush more than I do now (which is not at all). I’ve always wanted to get into their music, so I guess this is as good a time as any to start.

And with the episode’s usage of the admittedly sweet-ass Rush song, plus minutes earlier using “The Touch” – the theme song from the animated Transformers movie (you know, the one that’s actually good and not just enjoyable in an ironic way) – Chuck continues to vie with My Name Is Earl as having the best TV soundtracks ever. Whether it’s using Huey Lewis & The News for some geektastic montages or using The Band to wrap up an episode’s theme, both shows really know how to pique the interest of their musically inclined fans.

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