March 2009


The Wife:

Eliza Duskhu was right: Dollhouse is officially totally on an awesome streak. “Man on the Street” was a seriously game-changing episode that had exactly the mix of ass-kicking awesomeness and sentimentality that I look for in a Whedon show. We finally got a good picture of the kind of person who might use the Dollhouse for romantic engagements in Patton Oswalt’s Joel Minor, who hires Echo every year on the anniversary of his wife’s death to live out the moment he never got to have with his beloved Rebecca before her life was cut short in a freak accident that very day. And yet, for that sweetness, Joel was dynamic, as well, in his confrontation with Paul Ballard, who finally caught up to Echo in this episode on her engagement with Joel. Joel called Ballard on his bullshit, comparing the agent’s desperation to find a mythical agency to Joel’s own desire to recreate his lost wife. It was all good stuff.

Even better? The excellent reveal that someone inside the Dollhouse is using Echo to communicate with Paul Ballard to lure him to them. Because I didn’t think of this and I like to give credit where credit is due, my friend Magen thinks that Amy Acker’s Claire Saunders is the one co-opting Echo’s body to deliver her messages, citing evidence of Claire’s shifty eyes and familiarity with the imprinting process. I’d add that it isn’t altogether un-possible for it to be Topher’s assistant, either. But Claire seems like a good bet to me.

I even liked Boyd’s plot about finding Sierra’s rapist and going all rogue on him. First of all, it is super fucked up for a handler to abuse his relationship with an Active, especially because the Active-Handler relationship has been conceived of as parent-child in nature. This was all extra-creepy to me because it carried with it all of these incestuous, pedophilic undertones. And frankly, Sierra’s handler got what he deserved. He did something fucked up and died in an equally fucked up way. Yeah, about that . . .

Where the bloody hell are those crisps I was promised?

Where the bloody hell are those crisps I was promised?

The big reveal that Mellie is an Active would have been much cooler for me if the fact that I regularly use IMDB hadn’t totally spoiled it. Way to go, IMDB. Way to change a character’s name halfway through the season. The minute I saw that her name changed from Mellie to November, I was like, that girl is an Active. I suppose for people who hadn’t yet caught on to the whole NATO Phonetic Alphabet naming system for Actives, that wouldn’t have been a spoiler, but I grew up a sailor’s daughter. That was definitely spoiled for me. Nonetheless, the execution of that reveal was pretty awesome in its own right, in which a call to Paul Ballard’s answering machine wakes up the killing portion of November’s brain so that she can murder Sierra’s handler, her own potential murderer. This was a truly ruthless way to do that guy in, and I think it demonstrated a particular ballsyness to Olivia Williams’ character in addition to showing us something super cool.

The show built on the momentum from “Man on the Street” by giving us an episode, “Echoes,” that looks deep into Echo’s past as Caroline. While everyone else from the Dollhouse is out pretending to be the government containing a potentially lethal drug exposure at Fremont College, Echo is off on a romantic engagement with her boy toy from the first episode. In the middle of their light bondage play, she turns on the TV, sees the Rossum Building at Fremont College and feels the instant need to leave. You remember all those other times Reed Diamond thought she was going off task? Well, this time, she really was.

“Man on the Street” utilized an excellent framing device by peppering the story with news interviews of real people’s opinions on the legend of the Dollhouse. “Echoes” builds upon this narrative frame foundation by showing us how Echo wound up at the Dollhouse and the events that lead up to it. Seems that while Caroline was at Fremont College, she discovered that one of the school’s major donors was into some heavy animal testing and she convinced her boyfriend at the time to help her break into the lab and film the abuses there. Once inside, they discovered that Rossum Corporation, the company that owns the Dollhouse, had started experimenting on humans as well. Her boyfriend was killed, and she was captured and presented with a deal over tea: give the Dollhouse five years of her life, and she will walk away scot free.

Seeing the college triggered something in Echo that made her remember and want to reenact the event that ultimately lead her to the Dollhouse, and this leads her into the main plot full of craziness at Fremont College. That drug the other Actives are trying to find is a powerful memory drug that, when administered in large doses, makes people trip balls. With no hippocampus, the Actives should theoretically be immune to it, but as Topher and Olivia Williams realize that it’s administered from person to person by touch, it’s already too late and every single person involved in the mission is tripping balls. For Topher and Olivia Williams, this is really funny, as they too are tripping balls. Some favorite Joss Whedon-y quotes from their drug-trip:

  • “I find lentils completely incomprehensible.” – Miss DeWitt
  • “I’m very British, don’t you think?” – Miss DeWitt
  • “You haven’t seen my drawer of inappropriate starches.” – Topher

Reed Diamond is also affected with the giggles (he tried to pet an invisible cat, for God’s sake) from exposure to the toxin, and when he sees Echo in the hallway of the Rossum building, he confronts her and apologizes for trying to kill her:

“I tried to burn you to death – who does that?”

But for Sierra and Victor, the drug affects them much more slowly, but also much more intensely. Instead of tripping happy fun balls, they both have bad trips, where Sierra flashes back to her recent rape and Victor remembers being a soldier and failing to rescue a woman from a warzone before she died. Back at the Dollhouse, even November starts to glitch, flashing back to her last engagement. You know, that one where she killed a guy all of a sudden.

After all of these shenanigans, it turns out that Echo’s guide through the Rossum building is also the person responsible for the death of the graduate student that started this whole crazy mess. But even after dosing her with the drug, she can’t shake the echoes of her first time in that laboratory and ends up chasing him out of the building the way she chased her dying boyfriend, pinning him to the ground so that Boyd et al can capture him and retrieve the other vial of the drug that he had hoped to sell to a rival company.

Stir of echoes.

Stir of echoes.

Another excellent echo? Drug-Stealer Sam ends this episode where Echo began it: having tea with Miss DeWitt, being propositioned for a stint in the Dollhouse.

Dollhouse delivered what was promised, and I am definitely in it to win it for the rest of the season.

In another Whedonverse-related note, did you guys know that Andy Hallett passed away yesterday after a long battle with congestive heart failure? I’m not even done with season 5 of Angel, but that makes me really sad. Please honor his memory by reading this post from PopWatch’s Mandi Bierly. It made me a little misty earlier.

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The Wife:

So, let me start off by saying that the only Lethal Weapon movie I’ve ever seen is Lethal Weapon 4. My parents are Trekkies (no, they are not Trekkers – they’re not that serious about their sci-fi), so I wasn’t really raised on action movies. As such, I admit that I am an embarrassment to faux entertainment journalism and have no business commenting on this episode.

But I will say this: even without knowing the Lethal Weapon franchise inside and out, this was a pretty enjoyable episode. Barney’s idiotic attempt to complete everything on Ted’s Murtaugh list (“I’m too old for this . . . stuff”) was amazing, and I’m especially fond of the running gag about how infected his self-pierced ear was becoming over the course of the episode, as well as the sight of NPH in blue pants, a fishnet top and a pink wig during his “go to a rave” exercise. Even though I’m only in my mid-20s, I definitely recognize some things on the Murtaugh list that I have deemed myself too old for. Halfway through college I decided I was too old to hang pictures on my walls without frames and subsequently got fucking every poster I owned framed. I’ve noticed that many other bloggers are creating their own Murtaugh lists, so I offer a couple of brief things that I, as a woman of 24, am too old for:

  1. I am too old to shop at Hot Topic.

  2. I am too old to shop at Forever 21. (I mean, hello. It’s not called Forever 24.)

Those are the only two I can think of at the moment, actually, but I’m sure my husband has a few for his list.

Why does this remind me of the candy photoshoot from Make Me a Supermodel?

Why does this remind me of the candy photoshoot from Make Me a Supermodel?

In addition to the list of things Ted is too old for, Barney and Robin challenge him to complete a list of old person things that Ted is too young for, hoping to prove to him that its just as absurd to try to reach old age too soon as it is to desperately cling to youth. Where Barney goes to raves until four in the morning and helps someone move into a sixth floor walk-up in exchange for pizza and beer, Ted eats dinner at 4 p.m. and goes to bed at 8 p.m. In the end, though, they both realize that they should just enjoy being their own age, and subsequently head over to Barney’s laser tag arena and TP the place – retribution for Barney’s expulsion from the almighty force that is the laser tag arena.

Marshall and Lily had a sub-plot in this episode related to the age-appropriateness theme of the episode in which Lily encourages Marshall to coach her kindergarten basketball team, something she clearly sees as Dad practice. She is shocked, however, to learn that Marshall treats the kindergarten basketball team as though they’re a college team participating in March Madness, giving them more tough love than they’ve ever known in their short lives. When Lily tells him that there’s no winning and losing and that everyone gets a participation trophy, Marshall flips out, revealing that he coaches basketball the way his dad coached him, which drove him to improve himself and go after the things he wanted in life. Lily turns the tough love on Marshall and demands that he stop coaching the kids to win and that there is no way in hell he’ll treat their own children that way. Then, after a basketball game where the opposing team grows several feet with each telling of the story and ends with a Teen Wolf on the court and a final score of 118-0 (with the zero being Lily’s class), Marshall gets his participation trophy and realizes that Lily’s method of teaching isn’t totally stupid.

The basketball sequence here was pretty hilarious, and I have to admit that there’s something adorable about Marshall trying to treat 5-year-olds like 18-year-olds. Other than the Teen Wolf, my favorite part of this sequence was probably Jason Segel being unable to deliver the line “That’s not running, that’s falling!” without cracking. If I learn anything from watching Wife Swap, though, it’s that Marshall and Lily are both right because it is important for a person’s efforts to be appreciated, even if they don’t win, and its also important for them to learn that they can work hard to achieve things. In fitting with the theme, though, there is a sense of age-appropriateness in regards to those ideologies. Really little kids don’t need to concentrate on winning and losing, but older kids do need that sense of purpose and achievement.

Other funny:

  • Barney with a hunchback from moving that sixth-floor walk-up, trying to do a shot with strangers, but ultimately just licking the glass.
  • Robin’s suggestion that Lethal Weapon is a rip-off of the Canadian franchise McElroy and Mafleur.
  • Robin’s rave outfit: leftover from her Robin Sparkles days? Discuss.

The Husband:

I don’t have a Murtaugh list so much as a general connection to Ted and Barney’s predicament that I’m really starting to feel the things I cannot in good conscience or in good body do again. I quit drinking hard liquor over 11 months ago (and goddamn do I feel good about that decision) and with the help of my wife am trying to eat more organic food and cut down on the unnecessary prospect of processed food. That takes care of a lot of my inner gears and sprockets. But more broadly, it’s generally more things I was able to do when I was much younger that just seem kind of pointless. This runs the gamut from climbing trees and playing a damn good game of hide-and-seek to frequenting theme parks as much as I used to or just randomly buying candy for no good reason. All of these are great things, but I think finally living with someone other than my family or a roommate plus having an actual full-time job has rearranged my priorities in life without me even noticing, and I seem to simply be accepting them.

I don’t know what I’m talking about right now. I’m on antibiotics. They’re making my brain googly. Deal with it.

The Wife:

Of all the things that happened in tonight’s episode, the most shocking for me is the following: Gossip Girl is going away until nearly the end of April? What? Why? Granted, it frees up my Monday TV schedule a little bit, but this show just came back. CW, I do not understand your programming decisions. First you cancel Veronica Mars, now this? (Why no, I am not at all bitter about the lack of VMars in my life. Not at all.)

Like every good episode of Gossip Girl (or, I should say, like every Gossip Girl-y episode of Gossip Girl), the plot culminates in a party. Jenny’s super sweet 16 to be exact. After running into Poppy Lipton, who has suddenly transformed into a 45-year-old artist since last we saw her if that haircut is to be believed, Serena realizes she needs to get back into the social scene and uses Jenny’s birthday as a way to do it. But Jenny isn’t a monster anymore and doesn’t want to have a birthday party that will be featured on Page Six or any MTV docuseries that might be called My Super Sweet 16. All Jenny wants is to hang out with her extended family, play boardgames and eat her dad’s chili. But make no mistake: she will wear a fabulous dress while doing all of that. So Lily and Serena cancel the party, only for Serena to put the party back on when she finds out that Penelope is having a party the same day. An unseen war-of-the-parties rages, with every posh face from Constance putting in their requisite appearance at Jenny’s birthday party. Jenny is less than thrilled, especially because no one at the party seems to know it’s thrown in her honor for her birthday, as it appears more like the Serena-and-Poppy show. Jenny resorts to doing the only thing she knows how to do and posts the party on Gossip Girl, ruining Serena’s tasteful society affair with passed hors d’oeuvres by filling it full of drunken teenage party crashers, two of whom have sex in Serena’s bed. The party then gets broken up by the cops, which, by Isla Vista standards, is how you know it’s a good party!

I am rolling my eyes at all of you right now.

I am rolling my eyes at all of you right now.

Also ruining the party? The strange tension between the warring Chuck/Vanessa and Blair/Nate factions as each half of the fractured couples set out to make the other jealous. Although Blair is dismayed that Nate only wants to be friends with her, she still parades her possession of him around like a prize, which angers her ex-lover Chuck and confuses the hell out of Vanessa, who technically wasn’t broken up with Nate until halfway through this episode. And how does Blair know that Nate doesn’t love her in the same way he used to, despite all of her attempts to convince herself that he is now her destiny?:

“He kissed me. On the forehead. Like Chevalier kissed Gigi. Like he was a man and I was a little girl.”

I’ve got to say that Blair really creeped me out in this episode, mooning over someone who wasn’t at all right for her just because she desperately needs to feel whole in her downward, awkward spiral. I don’t like a Blair so pathetic that she delivers all of her lines as though she’s Leslie Caron (who is a great dancer, but, let’s face it, not much of an actress). Though Blair compares herself to Gigi in this episode and does deliver her lines like a young girl, I’d go a step further and compare her to another Leslie Caron character, Lili in Bob Merrill’s Carnival (or, as you might know it, the movie Lili). Lili is a young girl orphaned and brought to the circus, where she evidently doesn’t know puppets aren’t real. As she grows closer to the puppets, she doesn’t even begin to realize that the cruel Mr. Paul the Puppeteer is the man behind them who makes her feel so loved. You see, Mr. Paul is mean to her when he isn’t a puppet. He’s a mean man in general, but he secretly loves Lili, which is creepy because I’m pretty sure she’s 13 and slightly retarded. Look, kids, I’ve been in that show and I know that script and it just doesn’t make sense if Lili isn’t slightly mentally deficient. I mean, in Gigi, Caron’s character is largely just naïve about becoming a whore and needs to be groomed in womanly ways by her Aunt Alicia (Agnes Moorehead’s role, which I’ve played). There was a blankness of expression and thought in these line readings that totally reminded me of the way Lili is written. It’s different than Gigi’s naïveté, which is what I think Leighton Meester was trying to convey; it really came across as mildly delusional. More Lili than Gigi. It was a good character choice, but it caught me very, very off-guard. I want my old Blair back. And maybe I’ll get her back once she learns that Vanessa totally bedded down with Chuck Bass.

Less integral to the party-plots is the plight of the Humphrey family. Dan is all ready to head off to Yale and, what’s more, he’s received a fan letter in regards to a story he’s had published. Daddy Rufus encourages Dan to write back to his fan and give him some writerly guidance, but he’s secretly concerned with the financial aid information Dan has just received from Yale: with colleges so impacted during these tough economic times, less financial aid is available and so young Humphrey gets none. In discussing this with Lily, she suggests that, barring acceptance of actual Bass Der Woodsen funds to fund Dan’s collegiate journey, Rufus should sell his sweetles Brooklyn loft and move in with her. Unbeknownst to his children, he takes the initial steps to do this and a confrontation in regards to the matter arises in the aftermath of Jenny’s party, where Dan reveals he took a call from the realtor.

I absolutely believe that Rufus selling the loft would be in his children’s best interest as far as providing college funds for Yale-bound Dan and Parsons-bound Jenny, but there are definitely less dramatic ways to get financial aid. First of all, FAFSA deadline is June 1st so there’s plenty of time to fill that out. Dan could also apply for work-study. Dan could also apply for one of the hundreds of thousands of privately-funded scholarships available in the New York City area and nationwide. Speaking of which, wouldn’t creating a scholarship in the name of her deceased husband and encouraging Dan to apply for it be a great way for Lily to help her boyfriend’s son AND get a giant tax write-off? It could be the Bart and Lily Bass Foundation Scholarship for Young Artists or something, and they could give funds to artists who work in different mediums (playwrights, poets, novelists, sculptors, painters, photographers, dance, acting, etc.). What the fuck is Lily doing these days, anyway? I’m sure she could take some time to do some fundraising so that artistically minded kids can go to college. Just a thought, Gossip Girl writers. I mean, if the recession is hitting Gossip Girl so hard that Dan Humphrey can’t get an ounce of financial aid from Yale, shouldn’t its wealthier denizens do something to alleviate that problem?

Oh, and that fan letter? That’s from Dan’s half-brother, the missing Bass Der Woodsen. “Andrew” is “dead,” but Scott is definitely alive. On encouragement from Rufus, Dan gives his fan a call, and the minute Scott’s parents see his cell phone light up with a Brooklyn number, they go into panic mode, asking one of the best questions I’ve heard on TV in a long time:

“How do you delete an incoming call?”

This scene was hilarious, perhaps unintentionally, especially with the actress playing Scott’s mom screeching out a shocked, “HE KNOWS!” when she sees the Brooklyn number. As though that was the only Brooklyn number that would have called Scott. Not like it could have been a wrong number or anything or a telemarketer. Nope. A number from Brooklyn automatically means it’s the son of the person you stole a son from. Tres dramatic!

And, in a final note, Armie Hammer showed up this week to accompany Serena and Poppy on their impromptu trip to Spain, which is how Serena deals with getting blamed for Jenny’s party becoming such a clusterfuck. Apparently, he’s been on the show before as one of the businessmen that Georgina and Serena swindled at a bar last season, but I’m willing to bet we’ve never actually seen his face. I think Mr. Hammer really sucks on Reaper, but in his few lines on Gossip Girl I feel like he’s better cast here. The intrinsic smarminess works a bit better. And he’s got gigolo hair, which is way better than his Wall Street hair on Reaper. We’ll see how he does on the Spanish adventure when Gossip Girl decides to return in April.

Some other random things:

  • I’m kind of in love with Blair’s purple cloche.
  • I am also kind of in love with her periwinkle sweater and pink tweed skirt.

  • Kelly Rutherford has the shiniest, prettiest maternity tops I’ve ever seen on TV. Her best pregnancy cover-up in this episode? A strategically placed knee.

  • Eric also got a bad haircut, but nothing is as bad as giving Poppy Eve Ensler’s hair, which doesn’t even look good on Eve Ensler.

  • I’m sorry, Gossip Girl universe, but NO ONE takes clothes off the mannequins. If someone from corporate walked by, that store would be screwed.

  • Poppy’s party shirt just contributed to her reincarnation as a middle-aged woman. Beige? With bobbles? Ugh. Hideous.
    Truly, this is the worst article of clothing Ive ever seen on this show.

    Truly, this is the worst article of clothing I've ever seen on this show.


  • The Humphrey family crockpot looks like a trashcan. As a result, I was really concerned as to why Dan would bring board games AND trash to his sister’s Sweet 16.

  • Pretty sure Vanessa’s purple party dress is the cheapest-looking thing I’ve ever seen on this show. Did they rustle that shit up at Forever 21?

The Husband:

I’m sorry to say it, but it hasn’t been a very good two weeks for Animation Domination. The only episode I unabashedly liked was King Of The Hill (which focused almost entirely on a verrrrry supporting character), then about half of an American Dad and a third of a Family Guy. The rest had their moments, but something just seemed to be in the water over at Fox and all the offices and buildings where they make these shows. I’ll just get last week’s KOTH out of the way, pretty much.

King Of The Hill 13.13 “Nancy Does Dallas”

When Dale’s wife Nancy breaks a silly but attention-getting newstory at Arlen’s local affiliate, Dallas takes notice and invites her to become an anchorwoman with them. And Dale couldn’t be happier, even if this means she’d be hours away for days on end making her dreams come true.

“Come on, you’re a genius at making something from nothing. You made Joseph.” – Dale to Nancy

Arriving in Dallas, Nancy notices the major strife between the male and female lead anchors Gwen and Wade, and tries to exploit this hostility as much as she can.

Gwen: I hate that man.

Nancy: I always thought you and Wade were having an affair.

Gwen: We are. It’s good for ratings.

Unfortunately, Nancy gets so in over her head with ego and douchiness that it’s rubbing everybody the wrong way, and when she drunkenly collapses off of a parade float, it’s curtains for her. This is fine, since Dale, now unsupervised, is wreaking his own special havoc on Arlen, resulting in him nearly setting his own house on fire. But when Nancy finally returns, it becomes clear to their neighbors that while Nancy does a good job at keeping Dale on a tight leash, he has his own power over Nancy, her drinking and her ego.

This episode also had the best quotes of all seven episodes I collected for this write-up. Here are some of the ones I jotted down:

  • “Breakfast race!” – Dale and Joseph
  • “That wasn’t even a story. It was just a bunch of ‘ifs.'” – Hank
  • “Nancy, your prison fan mail is about to quadruple!” – Dale
  • “Security breach! Joseph, sniff the bags.” – Bobby
  • “Dale, you giblet-head!” – Hank
  • “It sure is great that you’re home, and not just for fire-retardant purposes.” – Dale to Nancy

Now onto the lesser eps, grouped via show.

The Simpsons 20.14 “In The Name Of The Grandfather”

When Homer forgets to show up at the retirement community’s father/son day, Homer learns of Abe’s very own bucket list and decide to follow up on one: to revisit Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub, where Abe had one of the best days of his entire life. Problem is, Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub is in Ireland, so the family jets out to the Emerald Isle to fulfill this wish. Unfortunately, Ireland is no longer the quaint village-driven country of yore and instead has been yuppified, including the presence of rhyming Yuprechauns. The bar, however, still exists, but it hasn’t been patronized in ages (despite having cabbage on tap). When Abe and Homer share a good drunken night with Mr. O’Flanagan, they wake up the next morning having discovered that they bought the pub while intoxicated, so to keep business up they allow the now-illegal practice of smoking inside bars, attracting all those patrons who feel cheated by the recent law.

I’ve spent some time in Ireland (three times to be exact), and there was definitely a noticeable difference in spirit between my second and third time visiting wherein the law was passed. I do not smoke, and I do not appreciate it as a lifestyle choice, but I just always associated Ireland with smokey bars, and something just felt off.

In a bar once I met this guy Dewey. And he bought me, like, 14 beers. And he told me that he was from Ireland, so I lived with him 10 years.

In a bar once I met this guy Dewey. And he bought me, like, 14 beers. And he told me that he was from Ireland, so I lived with him 10 years.

Unfortunately, the episode just kind of sputtered along, and other than the remarkably esoteric send-up of the Academy Award-winning film Once (“Stop buying pianos for my wife!”) and the amusement I had in recognizing that The Simpsons had no freakin’ clue what the Guinness factory actually looked like, it was pretty much a bust.

Some quotes:

“It’s like getting a backrub from an orgasm.” – Carl re: hot tub

“Lousy old man, making me look up at an airplane…” – Homer

“So it’s our syntax you’re criticizing!” – Irish cop

The Simpsons 20.15 “Wedding For Disaster”

What could have been a very sweet story goes awry when the show takes a page from that really bizarre Marilyn Monroe-Ginger Rogers ensemble film We’re Not Married when Reverend Lovejoy realizes that, due to some legal mumbojumbo, several of the ceremonies he blessed were always invalid. This would include Homer and Marge’s second marriage, and so the two of them decide to throw a third wedding, this time pulling out all the stops. But as Marge begins to turn into a Bridezilla, Homer begins really resenting her, to the point where he doesn’t even show up at their wedding.

Ah, but he’s actually been kidnapped and put into a Saw-like torture room, where he has to do such tasks as get to the key in the center of a hot sauce lollipop. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa track some clues, including a keychain initialed “SB,” to Sideshow Bob, who for once has nothing to do with tormenting the Simpsons. Turns out, it’s just Patty and Selma Bouvier playing a trick on Homer, but when they look on, via a security camera, Homer read aloud his written vows to Marge, they relent and let him go.

The wedding stuff was nice, but the rest was far too haphazard and/or introduced to late to be either clever or properly referential, and so it’s another mostly laughless episode.

I also wonder how many people got all the Bing Crosby jokes in regards to the Presbyterian pastor who came to town and acted as a catalyst to Lovejoy’s story. Hint: rent the best picture winner Going My Way.

Family Guy 7.10 “FOX-y Lady”

Michael Moore jokes are so 2004, and jokes about handicapped ducks are so…never. And that’s pretty much all this episode was about.

First, Lois gets hired as an investigative reporter at Fox News, and aside from a not-bad Ann Coutler slam and Brian doing a pretty piss-poor job at vocalizing the country’s true problem with the troubling network, we didn’t get much. It was interesting to find out, however, that Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are actually both simply characters created and acted out by Fred Savage (among many other celebrities I did not write down), and thus Mr. Savage’s bizarre second run of his career (or if I counted that show Working, this may be his third career run) continues down a line of strange “underground” comedy such as this and episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, now that Lois is affiliated with Fox, Peter and Chris decide to create their own animated sitcom for the network, which becomes the poorly animated and unsubtle Handiquacks, featuring such characters as Red Heinie Monkey, Col. Tushfinger, Poopy-Face Tomato Nose and Bitch Duck. When South Park created the show-within-the-show of Terence and Philip, it was a way to hit back at the critics who called their show poorly animated and vulgar, showing them what a truly shit-animated and vulgar show looked like, and that in itself was a bold statement to make. Handiquacks is no Terence And Philip, though, so the point was completely lost amidst the dumbness.

Okay, there was one incredibly funny moment, when everybody around town is screaming, and we cut to Adam West sitting on a park bench.

“Aaaaaaaaa…I have to get all the A’s out of my body. Aaaaaaaaa…”

Family Guy 7.11 “Not All Dogs Go To Heaven”

Atheism and its relation to religion is a tough thing to deal with and even harder to turn into a proper narration, so I wasn’t surprised that FG ultimately failed to explain itself and its concept of secularism. Me, I’m baffled at how misunderstood atheism truly is. Religion does not corner the market on morality, and despite the fact that I do not believe in a god(s), that does not mean I believe in nothing. That’s nihilism. I believe in the goodness and spirit of my fellow man and have an optimism about the human race and its own concepts of morality, and I don’t need to worship somebody to get that done. I don’t need to reread a book hundreds of times to do that. But you wouldn’t know that from this episode, and so I consider its base-level understanding of the atheism-religion battle to be completely unimportant and pretty much dumb.

But as Meg and Brian go through that argument, one-third of the episode is hilarious. That would be Stewie’s story, where he gets so huffy about not being to ask Star Trek-related questions at a sci-fi convention that he teleports the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation into his bedroom and tries to continue along his own line of questions, only to realize that the entire cast is immature, silly and continues to harbor 15-year grudges against each other.

LeVar and I were going to pool our tickets together to get the fuzzy troll pencil topper!

LeVar and I were going to pool our tickets together to get the fuzzy troll pencil topper!

(I also must point out that Gates McFadden, a.k.a. Dr. Beverly Crusher, taught a class on clowning my sister attending during her time at USC, a fact I’ll never tire of telling people.)

And this section had a great variation of visual jokes (the unknown-to-me Denise Crosby getting shot after one line) and great lines.

Stewie: Hey, did you hook up with Whoopie Goldberg on the show?

Patrick Stewart: All the time.

“Look at me! I’ve got girl boobs!” – Patrick Stewart

Too bad the Stewie-with-TNG story was so short. I would have watched a two-parter just about that situation. But nope, my wish was not fulfilled.

Some good stuff:

  • The bevy of 90s references for a show more known for its influx of 70s and 80s references. This would include name-dropped Dan Cortese as well as a short bit regarding Calvin & Hobbes.
  • “Why would he wear these?! Who would make these for him?!” – Peter after looking through the LeVar Burton TNG shades, which turned every person he saw into a KKK klansman.
  • The inexplicable live-action ending with Adam West and Rob Lowe.

American Dad 4.14 “Bar Mitzvah Shuffle”

Here’s the episode that I like half of. To be fair, I actually liked the central story quite a bit from a plotting perspective, but can admit that it wasn’t necessarily very funny. And since this is a sitcom, that’s sort of an issue with which we shouldn’t have to deal.

When Steve learns that Debbie, his chubby girlfriend, is starting to have eyes for the ridiculously egomaniacal Jewish peer Etan Cohen (voice of Seth Green), he decides to try to ruin the kid’s bar mitzvah.

“I like my women like I like my dreidels – bottom-heavy.” – Etan

(I was going to make a point as to why they decided to choose the name Etan Cohen, like the screenwriter of Tropic Thunder and Madagascar 2, who is also not to be confused with Ethan Coen of the Oscar winning Coen Brothers, but then I noticed that the real Etan is one of AD’s producers and a former writer. Just another weird in-joke, I guess, like Neil Goldman over on FG.)

It was an inside joke all along . . .

It was an inside joke all along . . .

The manner in which Steve, Roger and Snot go about to destroy the bar mitzvah, with its Ocean’s Eleven references (and pretty much any heist movie post-Rififi), was pretty ingenious, involving several switches and a nasty double-cross by Roger (who just wanted to put on a silly accent but wasn’t allowed to.) But unlike most Steve-centric episodes, there were very few great nerd references or Roger non-sequiturs, so I just can’t in good conscious give it a positive review.

American Dad 4.15 “Wife Insurance”

Despite the genius Amy Sedaris doing not one but two voices in this episode, it was another blah episode from a show I desperately love, but also desperately want it to return to its peak sometime midway through season 3. When Stan gets lost during a mission, Francine is completely devastated, until Stan returns home (thanks to a fellow spy who can get out of any predicament by seducing women with a verse of Marc Anthony’s “I Need To Know”) and devastates her in his own very special way – by telling her on Valentine’s Day that he has a back-up wife, his dentist Meg, who he lined up years earlier just in case Francine kicked the bucket. To get back at him, Francine decides to make Stan’s spy friend her back-up husband, resulting in many confused hearts and a brutal bit of hand-to-hand combat later on. (And somewhere in the middle, the handsome spy pushed Stan out of a moving plane, who survived when he landed on the World’s Biggest Falafel.

Other than some quick bits regarding the return of Steve and Rogers TV detective duo Wheels & The Legman, as well as a the reappearance of Reginald the CIA koala, not much was very funny about the ep. And once again, this is a comedy, so that’s an issue. Stan’s stories especially this week have been more desperate and bizarre than laugh-inducing. Maybe somebody should sideline him until they find a story that really works, like in s3 when he traveled to Heaven, and we learned that Jim Henson isn’t dead so much as stuck in the Phantom Zone with Kermit.

The two lines I liked from this episode, one severely tasteless, the other punny but funny:

  • “In two hours I can have a dead baby stuffed with heroin planted in your mom’s car.” – Steve
  • “My heart has a cavity that only you can fill.” – Meg the dentist

The Wife:

I learned some things during this episode of TAR:

1. Jaime is really mean to people who don’t speak English, and that actually makes me hate her. She’s symbolic of a problem that much of the English-speaking world has in which they think, for some reason, that everyone everywhere else in the world should also speak English. I am sure that this expectation is created not out of ignorance on the part of people like Jaime, but out of an expectation created in an age of globalization and the rise of English as the lingua franca of the business world. That said, a spice shop in Phuket, Thailand is not a regional headquarters of Microsoft in Jakarta. You have to have reasonable expectations when you travel.

2. Bandit is a super cool name, and it means “teacher” in Thai.

3. The Phuket Zoo looks like one of the craziest zoos ever.

Teams wound up at the Phuket Zoo after flying nearly 2,000 miles from Jaipur to the popular resort area and were told to find a statue of a gorilla with only a photograph as reference. Every team started this leg of the race on equal footing, as they all got on the same flight from Jaipur, but quickly, Mike and Mel got separated from the herd, who asked locals in the central square if they knew where the gorilla statute was and eventually got pointed in the correct direction, while Mike and Mel trusted their cab driver who took them way out to the beach (because that’s exactly where super white tourists want to go . . .). Once teams found the monkey statue, they then had the most fun day at the zoo ever as each team proceeded to take a picture with a tiger (whose handler only had one arm, incidentally) and participate in a traditional Thai performance in which an elephant pranced around them, massaged their backs and squatted over them.

After their fun zoo adventure, teams headed to the oldest herb shop in Old Phuket and had to ask the shop owner to open one drawer at a time in his 99-drawer cabinet of wonderments in order to find their next clue. Jaime got really, really frustrated with her inability to communicate with this man, as aforementioned. (I think yelling and waving frantically didn’t help her case much, frankly.) She and Cara were the first to arrive at the spice shop, but due to their complete failure to communicate and lack of a methodical approach to the drawers (writing down each number that had already been called, or methodically going down/across rows) they ended up leaving the shop only moments before a caught-up Mel and Mike made it there. The clues from the chest of wonderments presented teams with their Detour for this leg of the race:

  • 100 Barrels, in which teams would load a fishing ship with 47 barrels of water and 53 empty barrels for fish, enough for a week’s journey to sea
  • 2 Miles, in which teams would prepare a rickshaw and carry their teammate aboard it for 2 miles.


Mark and Michael, in the lead, chose the rickshaws, as did Tammy and Victor. Kisha and Jen, Jaime and Cara and Margie and Luke all chose the barrels, but wound up in the wrong place. Kisha and Jen decided to stay and look for the proper location, while the other two teams jumped ship and decided to go for the rickshaws. Mel and Mike eventually joined Kisha and Jen at the docks. Once their Detours were completed, teams raced to Wat Tep Nemet, their Pit Stop for the last leg of the race.

Stuntmen Mark and Michael were the first to make it to the mat, but somehow, they incurred two penalties that cost them an hour total in penalty time. I figured when I saw them ask their cab driver to lead them to the end of the rickshaw course that they would incur a penalty, but I had no idea what their second penalty would have been until Phil told us. Apparently, when they were setting up their rickshaw, they hid the bike pumps which Phil declared was “intentional tampering.” I think they likely just thought they were cleaning up after themselves and put the pumps all back in the box, but maybe I missed something and they really were being sneaky and evil. While they waited out their punishment, two teams arrived to oust them from their number one seat.

(Husband Note: Yes, you did miss something. They even told the cameras what they were doing as they tampered with the pumps.)

1st: Tammy and Victor, winning a trip for two to Ohau.
2nd: Jaime and Cara
3rd: Mark and Michael, able to check in after their penalty time had elapsed.
4th: Margie and Luke, continuing their streak of checking in either first or fourth. Dramatically, Margie fell victim to heat stroke and Phil was there to catch her, like any good sweaty Thailand-set romance novel would include (minus the ladyboys). I can’t think of many better places to have heat stroke than near the arms of Phil Koeghan. Margie’s a trooper, though. The production staff was set to take her to a Thai ER, but she wanted to press on, once she got some water in her system (and poured over her head).
5th: Kisha and Jen
6th: Mike and Mel, who were, sadly, Phileminated.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


I kind of knew that Mel and Mike were screwed when they chose not to follow the herd, but I had hoped that they’d pull through – a hope that was especially renewed when I found out that Mark and Michael would have to wait an hour in penalty time. But, sadly, my favorite people on the race had to go home last night. I’m now rooting for either Margie and Luke (because while I don’t like Luke that much, I really love his mom), or Tammy and Victor (who seem to have really worked through their issues and are having fun together). I’m really going to miss The Whites, though. I leave you with a parting lame joke of theirs, that was totally priceless:


Mike: Do you speak any Thai, Dad?
Mel: Uh, yeah. Mai tai.

Ba dum ching!

The Husband:

Noooooooooooooooooooooooes! One of our best and quirkiest modern screenwriters and his gay father have finally fallen by the wayside, and I in good faith cannot continue posting little bits and pieces of his movies on this blog!

Oh well, I can at least leave you with this – Mike White’s best scene in The Good Girl, an incredible and incredibly sad indie film from several years back taken from White’s most dramatic script to date. (While Chuck & Buck, his breakout film, was a drama, too, it was more of the sardonic stalker variety and more awkwardly terrifying than anything else.)

The Husband:

I’m going to keep this short, because it’s been a full week since I watched these episodes of Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters, and since neither show will be back on television until April 19, I don’t really feel like too many people are going to come looking for this article with any frequency or questions.

So up first is the quick good and bad bits of last week’s DH.

Good

  • The complete collapse of Lesley Boone as Carlos’ VP, as a frustrated, overworked Lynette got her to mistake Carlos and Gaby’s kids as those of the non-English-speaking Hispanic custodian. A damn good way to go out and a good instance of two of the “housewives” banding together to take down a common enemy
  • The horribly psychotic and violent drawings done by Susan’s ex-husband’s son. Hilarious.
  • Edie is finally dead. (Fingers crossed that she’s not just injured. I’ve been waiting for this waste of a character to be gone since she fake-hanged herself at the end of s3.) And it wasn’t enough to kill her once. They killed her in three ways. First, Creepy Dave strangled her when she tried to call 911, but then let go right before she was to gasp her last breath. Then she drove her car into a telephone poll after swerving to avoid Cat Burglar Orson (don’t ask), and barely survived that, then got out of her car and electrocuted herself on the stray electrical wires from said fallen telephone poll. Dead dead dead.
Is it too soon for me to say Ding Dong?

Is it too soon for me to say "Ding Dong?"

Bad

  • Everything with Orson. Just…don’t ask. It’s lame. And if the rumors are true, this is his last season. What a lame way to go out.
  • Creepy Dave’s lame ultimate plan for revenge against Mike Delfino, which just basically was going on a cabin/camping trip with Mike and Katherine, then pretending to sleep while they left to go hiking, and then shooting at Katherine while they hiked, thus making Mike feel the torture Creepy Dave felt when his family was “killed.” And it was all foiled by Edie calling his cell phone, making him miss his mark.

So now onto Brothers & Sisters, where I think I can actually formulate some paragraphs.

So after all that build-up, what with Tommy embezzling money from Ojai Foods in order to concoct an illegal scheme to get Holly to give over her shares in the company which would thusly dethrone her, the entire thing just disappears. How? Even though Tommy is still on the run after ditching Justin and Kevin in Baja and cannot be reached, Sarah took it upon herself to reassert herself as a major businesswoman at Ojai Foods, leaving Greenatopia behind to fend for themselves. (In a nice way, but she’s still ditching them.) So then, at her first Ojai Foods board meeting, she and Nora, with their mere presence, basically convince Holly to drop all charges against Tommy, because the case itself would seriously damage the company and its insistence on being a family legacy.

Well…that was easy. I was expecting that to last through the rest of the season. But it did get Balthazar Getty to remove himself from the show, at least temporarily, until he is relegated to a semi-recurring guest spot next week. Nobody likes you, Tommy. And the case also managed to break up Justin and Rebecca, a.k.a. the hottest couple on prime-time soap television, leaving the increasingly evil Ryan the Missing Walker to be her creepy rebound guy. (Never mind that he has roped Rebecca into looking for evidence regarding his mother’s “suicide” and whether or not the dead Papa Walker was somehow responsible.) Hopefully Justin and Rebecca could get over this and go back to making sweet sweet love.

Uh, was he missing for so long because he was hanging out in Forks, WA being a vampire?

Uh, was he missing for so long because he was hanging out in Forks, WA being a vampire?

And when did Rob Lowe turn into a bitch? Well, that’s an easy answer, because it was when he had his heart attack during the two-hour “movie” episode. But heart attacks don’t turn people into a-holes as far as I know, and right now we have Rob Lowe suffering from the Ethan-on-90210 disease where his characters seems to be suffering from a body snatcher situation. And his bitchness is causing Kitty to start making eyes at the single father she sees at the park, played by none other than Eli Stone’s brother.

The Husband:

Since this isn’t technically a recap site, despite how much my wife writes recaps, that’s more of her personal stylistic choice than an agreed-upon structure. I’m more into critique, and sometimes I feel myself moving away from this stylistic choice in instances where I just have to get an article off the ground in a restricted amount of time (usually at work when I’m super-busy), or when my brain just isn’t working, because as long as you have a good memory, recapping isn’t hard. But since I’ve been way behind on both Shonda Rhimes shows, thanks to a four-day weekend in Arizona as well as me having a month-long coughing fit that has forced me out of the office and into the world of work-from-home, I think I can easily jump back into the showrunner’s world without completely overwriting anything.

First, things that have been on my mind over the last three weeks of Grey’s Anatomy.

Karev

Formerly my least favorite character on the show (and aside from Tommy Walker, perhaps of all the ABC shows I watched), I am amazed to declare that he has, post Elizabeth-Reaser-needs-a-face drama, grown into maybe Seattle Grace’s most emotionally and intellectually interesting. Who knew that banging Izzie would bring out his tender side (when that happens, that character either dies [Denny] or becomes a whiney joke version of his former self [George]), which does wonders balancing out his friendly but professionally stern bedside manner? He has become the resident you want to have next to you, thanks to his major leaps and bounds in his own medical prowess as well as being able to completely control any case that comes his way. His immaturity that completely turned me off to him has been replaced by some residual charm left over when Addison left Seattle Grace right around the time she and Karev shared a couple kisses here and there. He’s the one character who seems to live by my sister’s all-time best words of advice – “just handle it.” He has Sloan’s swagger without his dickishness, and he has Meredith’s heart without her…Meredith-ness.

Derek

So I get the whole what-does-my-life-and-my-job-mean freakout that Derek had after losing Jennifer Westfeldt and being called a murderer by Ben Shenkman, and I get that it’s a terrible thing to stack every single one of his medical cases next to each other and realizing that he has “killed” more people than he has “saved” (kind of a given when you’re a neurosurgeon, though), his mobile home drunken nonsense was just that – nonsense. Killing brain cells and getting all up-in-a-bitch’s-face with Meredith, ending with him ultimately taking the engagement ring he bought for her and smacking it into the forest thanks to a handy nearby baseball bat, was emotional, yes, but it was also completely not-Derek. Way to create some random drama for no real reason, writers. We viewers already declared that we are no longer into a will-they-or-won’t-they with Deredith, so it was just a complete waste of time. And the only thing to get him out of the drunken funk? Izzie having metastatic melanoma in her briz-ain. Which moves us into the next category…

Derek’s Proposal

I seem to be disagreeing with a great deal of people here, but I found Derek’s ultimate solution to proposing to Meredith to be remarkably creepy. What he did was take an elevator at Seattle Grace and put it out of service, and he then lined the walls with C.T. scans that chronicled his case history with Meredith’s services, right from the beginning all the way to their current Izzie-has-melanoma case, and then told her he wasn’t going to “pop the question” so much as just mumble some stuff about destiny and hospitals and junk. A.) the hospital probably needs that elevator because…well…they’re in a hospital; B.) those are scans of dying people, an oddly terrifying display of the morbidity that defines Deredith. But hey, at least they’re engaged now. That ain’t no problem.

Izzie

Just quit whining and accept your treatment. Jesus Christ. First you took all the interns and focused them all entirely on your case, then you complain about how far the melanoma has traveled, even though you basically just should have opened up immediately about her hallucinations months ago, and then you whine some more. People say Meredith is the whiner. No sir. That honor belongs to Isobel Stevens. But at least this story is progressing. And unless we want Derek to completely lose his shit for letting a good friend die, she is going to be fine by season’s end. She may not be capable of being a doctor anymore, which makes it easy to write her out of the show, but she will live. Just like Penny IS NOT DEAD on Lost, because those writers are basically hopeless romantics at heart, Izzie has to live.

Owen & Cristina

No, for the last time, your name is not Dan Vassar!

No, for the last time, your name is not Dan Vassar!

Hey Cristina, did you think you’d be able to actually sleep after getting nightmare-strangled by your PTSD-ing doctor boyfriend? I appreciate the effort to keep y’all together, but sometimes your head does stupid things…like letting the man who almost unintentionally killed you spend another night next to you in bed. I still think they are one of the show’s perfect couples, so now that Owen is actually dealing with his army past, we may be in for some very nice final episodes to this season.

Guest Stars

This is a complete throwaway section, but I was just happy to see a nice mixture of guest stars in one episode. This was the three siblings whose family had a big history of nearly everybody suffering from cancer, and those three siblings were A.) Heather Mosby from HIMYM, B.) the jailbait-loving English teacher from Swingtown and C.) the woman who voiced both Jane and Quinn on Daria, all together in one room. (So hey, MTV, when are you going to release full seasons of Daria on DVD aside from the occasional special. We’re waiting.)

Now onto Private Practice:

Addison + Men

Man, people online are really turning on Addison. Why? Because she’s interested in a married man. You see, she was scrubbing in at St. Ambrose at the same time that a cute male doctor was scrubbing out, and this became a major back-and-forth bit of flirting. And since it’s Josh Hopkins from Swingtown, and I always forget his character’s name, I refer to him as Dr. Swingtown. At the end of Dr. Swingtown’s first episode, we find out that he is not only married, but he is actually married to Amanda Detmer (from Saving Silverman and What About Brian?), a major patient of Addison’s, being a pregnant woman who keeps losing her pregnancies. Addison has so far resisted Dr. Swingtown’s advances post-discovery, but this dude is really setting her loins on fire, and she really isn’t going to last much longer. Now, the online bloggers and commenters are really getting on Addison’s case for being an adulterer yet again. But here’s the thing: this time she’s not being the adulterer. That would be Dr. Swingtown. She’s just the other woman, and IMO that’s really not on her. She’s not married to Derek and cheating with Sloan, and she’s not dating SWAT guy and banging the dude from Better Off Ted. Call her a homewrecker, and that’s fine, but this is a new Addison, who just happens to have some bad luck in love. But this is not her up to her old tricks, because she’s not. Got it?

(And yes, I realize that Grant Show, who plays Addison’s brother Archer Montgomery, was also on Swingtown playing the über-swinging airline pilot Tom, but Archer Montgomery is too good of a name to deny, and so Josh Hopkins, who played the far more conservative character Roger who by the end of that dearly departed show was heavily lusting after Susan, another redhead, is now labeled with the moniker. Just FYI.)

The Show’s Actual Concept of Psychiatry/Psychology

Okay, I get why Violet had to really get inside Amber Benson’s brain a few episodes ago in order to rejigger her repressed memories about when she was carjacked and beaten to a fucking pulp, because she was using some basic Psychology 101 for that. But during the next episode, I really started to question her actual methods and if any of them work. Amanda Foreman (the goth roommate from Felicity and the bartender wife from What About Brian?) had struggled to get pregnant, and now that she had, she’s unwilling to deal with the actual truth – the fetus inside her is dead, and the longer she keeps it in her, the more susceptible she is to sepsis and all other kinds of ookiness. No matter what Violet told her, Amanda Foreman just simply wouldn’t accept the truth. Until Dell shows up. You see, Dell has been dealing with Baby Mama Drama, which ultimately results in said former drug addict Baby Mama taking their daughter and moving to Missouri. And so Dell, saddened by this news, stares at the wall and mutters something about losing children with Amanda Foreman nearby, and it’s this speech (and not any of Violet’s tactics) that gets her to accept that she needs to get that dead fetus outta her body. Nope. Nothing that Violet did. Just some mumbling from a bleached-out surfer boy midwife. Me? I don’t think that’s how it works. I’ve been in enough therapy to at least reach some opinion on that.

Taye Diggs

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Actually, I’m fine with everything Taye has been doing, and I very much like his interplay with his ex-wife Naomi (Audra McDonald) as they rejoin the dating world. I just bring him up because of something Vanessa L. Williams said to Marc on a recent Ugly Betty:

“What is it with white people and Taye Diggs?”

Good point, Wilhelmina. Good point. I guess it’s his sweet lovin’ marriage to the awesome Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel that attracts us to him. Or it’s just because he’s awesome. (Btw, good job, Shonda, for finally bringing Idina onto Private Practice as a single mother and potential love interest for Pete, who is so over which sperm, his or Sheldon’s, got Violet pregnant.

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