Desperate Housewives

The Husband:

This week on Desperate Housewives, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts in many different ways. Taken alone, two of the four stories were almost desperately pathetic and petty, but they added up to a greatly enjoyable episode that had many different levels of drama and comedy, each staking out a base on the baseball diamond known as Wisteria Lane. (Okay, bad analogy.)

Bree: Discovering all the little tschotskies that Orson has stolen from various Fairview townfolk, Bree goes around stealthily returning them to their owners, until she accidentally assumes that the lawn ornament of a lazy Mexican belongs to the Solises, when in fact it belongs to the culturally clueless Mrs. McClusky. All this is quite funny until Bree blames the Mexican lawn ornament theft on an innocent (but douchey) Juanita.

Susan: Now an art teacher at an expensive grade school, Susan learns that teacher evaluations are coming up, and she shouldn’t be butting heads with the strict-in-her-methods principal, Swoosie Kurtz, so she decides to become friendlier with her in order to receive a higher grade. When she invites her over to her house, Swoosie shows up in a sexy green dress and they have a great time drinking and eating, until at the end of the night Swoosie plants a big, long kiss on Susan’s lips. Unsure of what to do in this situation, Susan fesses up to Swoosie the next day that she is not a lesbian, which Swoosie finds hard to believe, claiming she shows all the signs of a closeted former heterosexual, much like Swoosie ten years earlier. But finally, she gets Swoosie to accept her simply as a friend and they move on with their relationship, as Susan was going to get a good evaluation anywhoozle.

Edie: Digging up further info on Creepy Dave’s past, Edie discovers his original name (i.e. not “Williams”) and that he not only had a wife, but a daughter as well. She broaches the subject to him about them having kids, but he is not willing to submit. And so Edie continues her quest that will ultimately lead her to her grave.

Lynette and Gaby: After last week’s squabble with Tom, they have decided that it’s her turn to look for a career, and so she jumps headfirst back into advertising. Unfortunately, she discovers a terrible truth while waiting for her interview – she is at least 10 years older than all the other women gunning for her job, and that anyone past 35 (Lynette is 43) is figuratively “brought out back and shot” in this industry. She gets the job, actually, because the account is a wrinkle cream, while lying about how old she is (claiming early 50s), but drops it when she gets a better offer from Gaby.

Now, Gaby and Carlos are looking for him to get a new job after his boss got all kinds of murdered at the end of last week’s episode. But at the funeral, the company’s CEO tells Carlos that the bonus that the dead guy was struggling to give Carlos (as we know, it was because of blackmail) was a sign that Carlos was a great employee, and makes him president of the company, replacing the dead guy. When Carlos brings on a good right-hand man into the company who was also an old roommate, Gaby is ecstatic at their new opportunity, until she finds out that his right-hand man is actually a woman, Lucy, and one he has slept with. She’s pissed, until Lucy shows up, and it’s Lesley Boone, the chubby best friend from Ed. But when she notices that Carlos and Lucy are still hitting it off just fine, and that Lucy was always a big girl and that Carlos actually stepped outside his skinny model type when he had sex with her so many years earlier, Gaby decides to put a spy into the company. And who better than Lynette, who is struggling for a job and can take on an open position in marketing. During Lynette’s first day, though, she figures out that she is an unwilling spy and gets real pissed at Gaby, but she decides to continue working there, since the pay is so good.

God, that last plot was more complicated than I originally anticipated when I began writing this entry. It’s a good story, too, and it allows more interaction between the “housewives.” Overall, this Mike-and-Katherine-absent episode really worked for me, and as we race toward the season’s conclusion, good stuff is finally coming together. It took nearly a whole season for the show to recover from the flash-forward, but I think it’s finally working again. Not as good as s1, mind you, but still good.

If only someone could write a movie about surfing inmates . . .

If only someone could write a movie about surfing inmates . . .

So what’s going down on Brothers & Sisters? Well, it did something I never thought it would do and gave us a spring break episode, as Justin, reeling from his recent breakup with Rebecca, and Kevin decide to bring Tommy down to Baja to an old resort their father used to take them to in order to relax, but more importantly to try to convince Tommy to take a plea bargain in his increasingly dire court case re: Holly and him embezzling millions of dollars from Ojai Foods. It’s all rather silly, as Kevin gets loaded from all the tequila mixers people keep throwing in his mouth, Justin kisses a girl who has an angry boyfriend, and Tommy does some soul-searching. When all the dust clears the next morning, however, Tommy has decided to go on the run, unwilling to go to jail. Stupid Tommy.

Back in Pasadena, Ryan The Missing Walker finally meets Sarah and Kitty and hits it off pretty well. (By the way, Ryan ended up not sleeping with Rebecca after the end of the last episode, thank God. She’s not that into him…just yet.) Kitty especially warms to him because of their ability to have political debates, as Ryan studies political science at Berkeley and is also a member of the Green Party, but when the conversation moves into a mother’s inherent love for a child, Ryan gets huffy and leaves. At first, we think it’s just because he’s still very sensitive about his recently deceased mother, but it turns out to be more than that, and we get a better picture of why Ryan decided to come down to Pasadena after all.

So…Ryan’s mother died in a car accident. But there were no skid marks on the road, and no sign that his mother tried to save herself. As his mother had an affair with Papa Walker so many years earlier, he thinks that somehow Papa Walker and his death had somehow had such an effect on his mother that she had actually committed suicide via car wreck. So now he’s prying into the supposed mystery of his mother, even if there may not be a mystery. Or is there?

Hmmm…that’s probably the first time I wrote more about DH than the vastly superior Brothers & Sisters. Don’t take that as a sign, though. While the spring break stuff was, as aforementioned, quite silly, it did throw a big dramatic moment in at the end, and it also made me better understand why the hell Justin wants to go into pre-med, something I thought was completely out of nowhere before. And as for the Ryan’s mother’s death mystery, we’ll see if this turns into anything, because this show has thrown a lot at me, and this is just more icing on the cake.


The Husband:

It’s been a few weeks off, so let’s let Sunday’s episode of Desperate Housewives catch us up with all the happenings on Wisteria Lane. This week, we viewers were given a surprisingly good, if not entirely important, ep of DH that had all of its old school elements intact, making sure that each of the stories had their own little charms and quirks, and even if they ranged somewhat in quality, they all kept up at the level of satisfactory or higher.

Susan: Now that Katherine has moved in with Mike, Susan isn’t really sure what to think for herself, but she is definitely trying her best to be nice about it. But there is still jealousy within her, so when she visits them and points out to Katherine that the wonderful beach painting set on the mantelpiece was actually painted by Susan during her and Mike’s honeymoon, she gloats a bit inside that a piece of her is still in Mike’s heart. Katherine was unaware that the painting was Susan’s, though, so by the time the housewarming party comes around, the painting is nowhere to be found. Katherine tells Susan and Mike that it fell while she was dusting and was being repaired, but when Susan finds it hidden in the garage, she lets Mike know and thus throws the party into a small amount of chaos. But after some harsh words are exchanged, Katherine and Susan are on the same page and understand that they can indeed co-exist in Mike’s life and each other’s as well, because if Mike was to date anybody after the divorce, it’s good that it’s somebody Susan really likes.

Gaby: In a storyline that on paper sounds obnoxious but somehow through some bit of luck comes through as funny and noble, Gaby becomes sick of protecting Carlos’s boss’s affair with his mistress a secret, even if keeping that secret meant Carlos getting a major cash bonus at work. She decides to pay his hairdresser mistress a visit at the mall salon (ewwwww…) and pretends to fess up about her own story of dating a married man in order to get the hairdresser to feel some guilt, but the ruse, which gives Eva Longoria [Parker] perhaps her funniest scene in a long time, falls apart and she ends up yelling at the hairstylist about continuing to pursue Carlos’s boss. When the boss gets wind of this, he confronts Gaby, who tells him that she can no longer keep a secret, which in turn gets Carlos fired. He’s fine with this, though, because he hated his new job and his boss, and his boss goes off to tell his pregnant wife about the woman with whom he is in love. But when the Solises receive a call from his pregnant wife, they go over to their house to find Carlos’s boss dead on the ground with a knife in his back. And the show is given yet another murder plot.

Im glad that dudes dead. That job fucking sucked. Now me and Tom can drink beers at noon together.

I'm glad that dude's dead. That job fucking sucked. Now me and Tom can drink beers at noon together.

Bree and Lynette: While Bree has to deal with Orson’s growing resentment toward her due to him not being recognized as a valuable part of her company, as well as his growing obsession with stealing items from rude people in his life, she has taken it upon herself to help the Scavos find a job now that their pizzeria has gone belly-up. How does she do this? Well, her book publisher needs a new advertising account executive, and Lynette thinks this might be the perfect opportunity for Tom to get back into his old line of work and stop sitting around the house, sleeping in late and drinking beer at noon. But at the casual job interview/dinner at Bree’s, Tom does not want anybody to get a job for him, and he treats the interview with carelessness. However, when Lynette, also a former advertising executive, sees his laziness and decides that she herself should pursue the position instead, she sparks something in him and they basically battle each other at the table, coming up with reasons the other should not get the job. (e.g. Tom was actually Lynette’s employee until he got fired and later basically ran the pizzeria into the ground, Lynette’s cancer could return at any moment, etc.). This uncharacteristic Scavo pettiness turns off the publisher until he can no longer take it and leaves the house, leaving Tom and Lynette to realize how silly they were being, and that they both need to do anything they can in order to bring money back into the family to pay off their debts, legal and otherwise.

Oh, and Edie (now on her way to the grave by season’s end, thank God) discovers through Creepy Dave’s former priest about former residency in Fairview, and that Williams isn’t actually his last name. Hopefully Creepy Dave’s story can rev up very soon, because it’s been a whole lot of cock-teasing so far.

I was proud of this episode, because while Susan and Gaby got somewhat less important stories in the grand scheme of DH, the stories themselves were still well-written (to a point) and well-performed, because even if you’re saddled with a story about the emotional purpose of a painting, you should act like it’s the most important thing ever. All the elements were in place this week, nobody onscreen or off was phoning it in, and some great stuff got set up. I can’t exactly ask for more, can I?

But, oh man, what’s been going on with the Walkers of Pasadena? Well, they had their two-hour “movie event” two Sundays ago, and it brought the show some stellar ratings, but oddly, I can’t think of much actually happening during the episode. Here’s what I do recall:

While Rebecca brings her father back to Los Angeles after her New York trip, which turns mother Holly into a screaming mess, we get some big McCallister goings on. Although today is the day that Robert and Kitty’s surrogate mother is to give birth, Robert has some major political issues to deal with. Now that he is running for governor, he’s looking for the right time to announce his candidacy. However, when he has a talk with the current governor (a female Republican, which I can tell you is a bit of a ways off here in California), he discovers that his candidacy has already been leaked, and that he needs to do a press conference ASAP re: running for governor before anyone else can get to it. Problem is, this press conference is right at the same moment Kitty needs him at the hospital for the birth of their son, and when the Walker family, now at the hospital, sees Robert live on TV miles away, Kitty takes this as a sign that their recent problems are only going to grow. When Kevin (Robert’s director of communications, don’t forget) finally gets him off the podium, he tries to rush him to the hospital, only to have Robert collapse in the parking garage as a result of a heart attack. So now, at the same hospital at the same time, their son is being born and he is about to die from cardiac arrest. Brought back from death at the last moment, the doctor suggests they operate on Robert, even if it would hurt his chances as governor. The surgery goes through, and Robert gets Kevin to lie about his condition and say it wasn’t a big deal, which in turn worries Kitty that she basically married a liar and that raising their new kid together will be supremely difficult.



Oh, and Tommy’s in major trouble, but that goes right into this week’s episode, so let’s proceed. I must say that Balthazar Getty’s eventual exit from the show is going down in a very big, very complicated way, and it’s making for some way harsh drama.

So…yeah…you know how Tommy was setting up a scheme that would sneakily give Tommy all of evil Holly’s shares in Ojai Foods, and thus he would be able to fire her? Well, Holly (with help from daughter Rebecca) finally put all the pieces together and confronts Tommy about his horrible and illegal plan, screaming at him and then finally pressing criminal charges, as Tommy had embezzled a couple million dollars from their shared company (Tommy’s father, Papa Walker, was Holly’s lover, as we all know) to put this scheme into motion.

But while Tommy goes to court, the family decides to not tell Nora just yet. Why? Because Nora’s dealing with her own stuff, as Ryan the Missing Walker Who Goes to Berkeley finally used the open-ended plane ticket she gave him to come down to Pasadena to visit his previously unknown-to-him family. What does Ryan hope to accomplish? Well, since his mom is now dead, he needs to know who he truly is. Or something like that. You’d have to ask him.

And now we get about a 20-minute long Walker Clusterfuck, because the big look-our-family-is-getting-bigger dinner at Nora’s place turns into a multi-sided screaming match, as Ryan overhears the Walker Clan talk about Tommy’s legal troubles, then accidentally brings it up with Nora (thinking that she already knows about it), leading Nora to finally confront the increasingly stubborn Tommy about what he was possibly thinking in embezzling from his father’s company. Insulted that Nora would compare him to his adulterous and law-breaking father (well, come on Tommy, you two are both adulterers and criminals), he accuses Nora of turning a blind eye years ago to the problems since it afforded her such a lavish lifestyle, resulting in Nora providing Tommy with one of the best dramatic slaps I’ve seen in quite some time. Nora goes away from all the hubbub, only to scold Saul later for keeping Tommy’s scheme a secret, even if Saul warned him against it in the first place.

But the Walker Clusterfuck doesn’t end there, as seemingly everybody in the family is now against having Rebecca around them, as her mother could put Tommy (who has a wife and child) in jail for a very long time, even if it wasn’t her fault at all. (I think we can all agree that Tommy was being incredibly selfish and stupid throughout this entire ordeal.) Unfortunately, Holly won’t budge with the criminal case, even after having a sit-down with a desperately pleading Sarah, so any member of the Harper family is starting to look like the enemy.

And the biggest victim of this battle, at least in my opinion, is Justin and Rebecca, who after another round of bickering, finally break up. (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The hotness is broken!) And who is there to pick up the broken Rebecca? A love-at-first-site Ryan, who visits the emotionally drained Rebecca at her house, leading to a closed door and a “to be continued” story thread.

I never thought that Justin and Rebecca’s earlier issues would result in a break-up, as they were usually stuff that could be dealt with simply by being more honest with each other, but Rebecca felt like she had to take her mother’s side and was sick of being attacked for something she didn’t do, and it was the last straw. It’s very sad to see this coupling end, and it’s especially tough to see the barely-involved-in-the-affairs-of-the-Walkers Ryan assert himself so quickly into Rebecca’s life — oh God, it’s going to get emotionally brutal really quickly, isn’t it? — and Brothers & Sisters continues to tear me apart.

Phew…what a gut-wrenching show. Not Big Love gut-wrenching, mind you, but man did Sunday’s episode bring me down. Great television, don’t forget that, but man is it hard to go to work after writing about all this madness. B&S, keep on keepin’ on.

The Husband:

So what’s going on in the D-House? (No, not the Dollhouse, although that would make more sense. I mean Desperate Housewives, and now I’ve wasted the amount of time I thought I would save in abbreviating the show’s title by explaining it here. It’s early for me, people!)

Gaby: So, what has Gaby learned over the course of this season, about motherhood, about responsibility, about her love for her husband. Apparently nothing, because now she’s just plain old money-grubbing Gaby from pre-flash-forward, although her reasons have slightly changed. Hers and Carlos’ excitement over his bonus at his new job is tempered when they have dinner with his boss and find that the entire company is doing away with bonuses this year due to the poor economic climate, which puts them in a bind. (It would, of course, be less of a bind had Gaby not started buying ridiculously expensive things again, but whatever.) Later that day, Gaby sees Carlos’ boss traipsing around with another woman, and uses this info to blackmail the boss into granting Carlos an even bigger raise than he would have received before the bad economic news. So Gaby is defined by money again, the kids are nowhere to be seen, and Carlos is once again whipped. What season are we in again?

Bree: When Orson finds out that stepson Andrew is making more money in Bree’s catering industry than he is, he tricks her into revealing her bank account password (it’s one of her favorite pets growing up, Munchie) and looking into her finances. Yep. That’s actually it. The Bree storylines have really become a snooze in the past few weeks, and I’m sad to say that I actually miss the bitchy, conniving Bree, because this new battle-with-Orson crap is getting old.

Susan: Susan continues her growing hatred of Katherine and her unintentional mothering of M.J. when, now that Susan is working at M.J.’s prestigious grade school, she finds that Mike has had to work so much that he is having Katherine watch M.J. and M.J. is really liking all the gourmet food and attention from Ms. Mayfair. (Goddamn, that’s a lot of times to type M.J.) M.J. likes Katherine so much, in fact, that when Susan says she can’t make M.J. a panini, he leaves the house without permission and gets his noms from Katherine. This is made even worse when Susan discovers that Mike is now finally moving in with Katherine, which is just going to confuse M.J. more. I was fine with Jackson leaving the show (sorry about your motorcycle accident, Gale Harold), but I’m not really digging Susan’s storylines over the last few episodes. Where’s that spunky chick I know and half-way love?

Lynette: Poor economic climate strikes the Scavos when they find that their pizzeria is overstaffed and underpatronized, so, mixed with their steep legal bills for Porter’s antics with the Schillings, Tom decides to fire his staff and replace them with his own family, child labor laws notwithstanding. It’s a tough start, especially when Porter refuses to serve some of his high school peers in fear of being mocked at school, but Tom for once puts down the hammer, throws Porter against the wall and declares that this pizzeria, ever since he and Lynette quit their jobs in advertising, makes or breaks the family. It’s a strange little piece of story, and I’m sure many viewers may turn against Tom for this sudden half-assed violence, but Porter had it coming, and Tom needed to step outside his mid-life crisis and really focus on keeping his family safe and together.

So this is definitely a transitional episode, and it all seems to be leading up to Creepy Dave’s devious plan that should go down in the next couple episodes, but that’s also no excuse for some dilly-dallying nonsense storylines. There’s nothing wrong with an expositional episode, but they still have to be compelling, and if I’m to get on 24’s case when they forget to tell a good story but still move the many plots forward ever so slightly, I’m definitely going to do it to a show that can’t rely on awesome action sequences and Kiefer Sutherland’s soft-to-loud line readings.

I wish I could say that Brothers & Sisters, once again, came on at 10 p.m. and completely schooled DH in the ways of proper storytelling and valid emotional catharses, but this week everything seemed kind of…wonky. Rebecca visits New York and reconnects with her father (Ken Olin) in a nice way, and in doing so she becomes a stronger woman, but other than that the rest of the stories just kind of moseyed along with nary a surprise.

Yes, Kitty’s writing career keeps getting in Robert’s way, especially now that he is running for governor, but this week was more of the same, as Robert becomes unsettled by an interview piece about her where she reveals some uncouth private details about their marriage, and tries to have Kevin kill the piece. Kevin doesn’t want to, but Robert, by episode’s end, feigns that he will love Kitty no matter what and will accept whatever she chooses to do with the interview piece, while quietly lying to her and killing the piece himself. It’s sad that their marriage has dissolved in the last several episodes, so much so that I think we’re being cheated. They were a happy couple, and all of the things that stand in their way seem remarkably convoluted. I get the need for conflict, especially when their surrogate mother is about to give birth, but I don’t know how much is actually working.

Heres 50 bucks, no go film where you should be filming.

Here's 50 bucks, now go film where you should be filming.

Maybe I just had a bad taste in my mouth right from the start, when Nora, who received a call from Ryan the Missing Walker, decided to fly up north to the Bay Area and visit this UC Berkeley student, and the only location shot they could give us was a helicopter shot of San Francisco. Yeah, San Francisco is on the other side of the Bay Bridge, and the East Bay, especially the Berkeley campus and the city around it, is so beautiful that I don’t know why they couldn’t just show us Berkeley and its spirit. But instead, it’s a stock shot of The City and a coffee shop (where Ryan works) that looks like it belongs in L.A. But hey, I’m from Berkeley. There’s no reason to appease just me. I just wish they would have taken the time to get it at least slightly right. Storywise, Ryan is nice enough to Nora and they come to a few understandings, but his resistance in coming down to Pasadena to meet the family is just more of the same ol’ same ol’. I’d love some progress with this story, because if the show is going to make a big deal about a new Missing Walker, as they did earlier in the season, I’d like some development.

And the fall of Balthazar Getty continues as Holly finally figures out that Tommy has put into motion a plan that would take all her shares in Ojai Foods away from her and thus oust her from the company, and that Saul has been lying to her. Saul, meanwhile, is furious that Tommy decided to go through with the plan as presented to him several episodes ago, and is probably going to be in a hell of a lot more trouble by not being completely honest with Holly. Ms. Harper is a devious one, and I can see one of both of these characters in jail by season’s end. Rough stuff, but at least it’s a new development in the story, and it is kind of fascinating. It’s just not enough to carry the episode.

It’s just a minor stumble, though, as B&S continues to have its best and most compelling season ever. My suggestion? Tell me what the hell is going on with Sarah and Greenatopia.

The Husband:

As per my grab bag post yesterday, I’m going to continue flushing out all the television episodes in my brain that I just simply cannot get to in any quick fashion, and so I’m giving you very short little pieces on each, accompanied with letter grades. (Again, I must reiterate that the letter grades are only for the TV Memory Dumps and will not be used under any other circumstances).

King Of The Hill 13.8 “Lucky See, Monkey Do”

Grade: A-

Luanne’s due date is nearing, and during her low-key baby shower is forced to reevaluate the way she intends on birthing and raising her baby when Lucky’s sister Myrna (voice of Paget Brewwwwwwwwster) guilts her into trying out new and modern types of baby-rearing concepts (water births, a red-and-gray nursery), and in doing so insulting Peggy’s concept of motherhood. But when the baby comes a-knockin’ two weeks early, Luanne decides to not listen to either woman’s advice and start learning to do this herself.

(Bill, meanwhile, pursues a sultry fast-food drive-thru worker to her actual call center in Arizona, only to find out that she’s 17. A very sad, very short story that was still kinda funny.)

Now that Gracie Kleinschmidt has been born (although Luanne, under a massive amount of drugs, first attempted to name the child “Lasagna”), we enter a new era of King Of The Hill, even as it winds down to its assumed final episodes. (Unless ABC does come through and pick it up, Scrubs style.) The more characters the merrier on this show, this gloriously sweet show, and once again I’m happy at the show’s balancing act between realizing that while traditional ways of life may be silly and worthy of being forgotten, modern methods aren’t always the answer. It’s all about the yin and the yang, people, even though I’m not sure Hank Hill would approve of my mention of Taoist principles.

American Dad 4.9 “Stan Time”

Grade: B

This episode of American Dad amused me while it frustrated me, because while a good early concept fell apart due to highly fragmented storytelling (a big no-no in my book, i.e. the worst episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy), I still laughed extremely hard for most of its running time. But I was scratching my head as I laughed.

When Stan finds that he can’t even get 20 minutes to himself upon returning home from work, he takes a co-worker’s advice and begins taking a special pill that makes it feel like he has just slept eight hours, which gives him the whole night to do whatever he wants to do. While a normal person would pursue a worthwhile hobby, he ends up becoming an expert at a really rudimentary 8-bit videogame Beet Man, leading to him winning a tournament at a restaurant but not much else.

If I make it to the next level, I get to fight zombie bunnies!

If I make it to the next level, I get to fight zombie bunnies!

Francine, meanwhile, finds out about the pills and then pursues her goal to become an amateur oceanographer, during which she stumbles upon the true location of the famed colossal squid. Stan, realizing now that he needs to spend quality time with his family, goes to the bottom of the ocean, kills one of the colossal squids, and makes up with Francine.

Steve and Roger, meanwhile, give a boring old story some new laughs when they are asked to write a script for a porn movie, but Roger can’t get past the cliché of the pool cleaner/pizza delivery guy being a character, while Steve can’t help but get all sci-fi about the entire ordeal.

Funny? Yes. Confusing? Kind of. And where the hell is Haley?

Desperate Housewives 5.14 “Mama Spent Money When She Had None”

Grade: C-

Gaby joined a fitness boot camp and is tortured until she finds happiness in being able to fit into her old dresses again. Susan gets mad at Mike for buying Katherine a pearl necklace (and not the fun kind) instead of giving money to son M.J. for him to attend a prestigious private school, until she finds out that the necklace was a fake and that he’s struggling to make ends meet. Lynette, too, is having trouble making ends meet, so recent New York Times bestselling author Bree invests in 15% of the Scavos’ restaurant, only to mess with the natural order of the restaurant and piss of Lynette.

Me? Oddly annoyed by almost everybody. Lynnette especially has some ‘splaining to do, but I’m also very concerned that Marc Cherry thinks I actually give a shit about Gaby’s weight.

Brothers & Sisters 3.14 “Owning It”

Grade: B+

Rebecca discovers Tommy’s devious plan to overthrow her mother, Holly, as CEO of Ojai, and so we get some sweet Ken Olin action as she confides in her recently discovered father (you know, when she found out that she wasn’t actually a Walker but the son of the show’s producer, and Patricia Wettig’s real-life husband, sporting a beard and acting all artsy.) This, of course, is much bigger news in her life than Justin’s sponsor trying to get all up on his junk, because he knows that Rebecca is far hotter and more stable than a recovering alcoholic.

Everyone throws Kitty a baby shower (or, really, a baby mama shower that oddly does not include the surrogate herself), which of course devolves into three of the characters yelling at each other for various reasons. Kitty, especially, is under attack for even considering taking a position at the local Wexley University (I think that’s the name) as a professor of communications instead of focusing on the baby she’s going to have in four weeks, but she makes her decision and rejects the position even before she figures out that husband Robert McCallister is about to begin his bid for CA governor.

Kitty, youre going to play shower games whether you like it or not!

Kitty, you're going to play shower games whether you like it or not!

Nora, meanwhile, is devastated to learn that Roger, the architect with whom she is sleeping, has a wife, but is thrown entirely for a loop when it is discovered that Roger is actually in an open marriage. She considers pursuing this new modern-type relationship for a spell, but then decides that she can’t be the other woman – or, more specifically, she can’t be like the much-despised Holly who destroyed Nora’s relationship with her deceased husband in the first place – so she breaks it off with him while continuing to have a professional relationship.

You see how much more I was able to write about Brothers & Sisters than Desperate Housewives, even when I’m doing a Television Memory Dump? That should be an indication of my respective…respect…for each show at this current time. Why aren’t more people interested in Brothers & Sisters and its online fans?

The episode, though, does lose one grade point simply for Justin kissing his sponsee. Leave that middling melodrama cliché outside, foo.

The Husband:

Usually I would take it as a bad sign that, less than a week after the airing of both of these episodes, I would have forgotten so much about the episodes that I would be forced to view the recaps on simply to remind myself of all the events that took place during Thursday’s Shonda Rhimes Wants To Hurt You Extravaganza. But I’m not going to do that (take it as a bad sign, that is), because I felt that both shows – especially Grey’s Anatomy – made some very interesting choices in both their cases as well as their advancements of several plots. And, basically, I’m pretty connected now to the Eric Stoltz organ donation story and all of its little strands, helped along by memories of how nice he was once in stuff like Some Kind Of Wonderful, where I can assure you he was not – I repeat, not – a serial killer.

So memory loss or not, I’m going to run through a few things I liked from each show and things I didn’t like. Breaking up the monotony with a list style, mofos.

Grey’s Anatomy 5.12: “Sympathy for the Devil”

Good Things:

  • As aforementioned, the Eric Stoltz serial killer arc. I’m always appreciative of a serialized story, especially when it comes to the medical cases, and the ethical dilemmas faced by his character and all those around him are pretty darn good for a show that tends to cross the line between professionalism and individual stupidity. Despite his evil nature, he would still like his organs to go to the dying boy but cannot make it happen through the proper channels. And while Meredith’s final decision to tell him exactly how to kill himself post-brain surgery – a Derek decision to make Stoltz pay for his crimes and not take the easy way out by dying on his own terms – crossed the line in its own way, I think we can excuse her simply for the fact that the ends justify the means, and as a result the child, whose promised organs were faulty and unusable, will now be able to live. Sure, he’ll have serial killer organs, and as we know from the movie Body Parts that means he will become evil. Whatever.
  • Tyne Daly as Carolyn Shepherd, a.k.a. Derek’s mother. Her presence threw everybody for a loop, helped Sloan continue his understanding that he is an immature, horny jerk, got Derek to talk about his father’s murder, and even got Meredith to wear a very silly ponytail. She is definitely the best Grey’s parent in a long time, and the first good one since Burke’s mother had a heart-to-heart with Cristina post-canceled wedding.
  • Cristina verbally addressing why Dr. Hunt has been so “hot and cold” with her (after weeks of them making out, and then the next week him ignoring her), leading to Hunt’s PTSD-like freakout while standing, fully clothed, in Cristina’s shower, telling her about a horrible wartime memory.

Not-So-Good Things:

  • I’m more than fine with Denny being around as far as stories are concerned, but when he’s just basically taking up space in scenes without an actual purpose, it’s just goofy.
  • Dr. Bailey’s sudden bout of Meredith whininess about her dying child case. For once, her strength completely fell apart, and Dr. Arizona Robbins was right to take her to task for being so untrustworthy at such a harrowing time.
Lesson Of The Week:
Tyne Daly should be feared, lest she go all Cagney & Lacey on yo ass. [A note from The Wife: Um, I’m afraid of Cagney & Lacey‘s Sharon Gless because she murders people and stuffs them full of teddy bear innards over on Nip/Tuck. Clearly, the entire cast of Cagney & Lacey should be feared.]
Fear me, or I will call my friend Sharon to stuff you like a teddy bear.

Fear me, or I will call my friend Sharon to stuff you like a teddy bear.

Private Practice 2.12: “Homeward Bound”
Good Things:

  • The fact that immediately upon Charlotte mentioning that she refers to her father as Big Daddy, both Cooper and myself both formulated a Tennessee Williams joke in our heads.
  • The cystic fibrosis story. Even though I don’t 100% agree with the man’s decision to die along with his daughter instead of letting her die alone so he can take care of his also-afflicted young son, I understand the motivation and emotion behind said decision. That’s a rough one, man.
  • The Violet-Pete-Sheldon love triangle. While I know many viewers don’t like Violet and Pete together, I think it’s brought out the best of both of their characters. And I’m always game for more Brian Benbenbenbenbenbenbenben on this show. (It’s just really fun to imagine, as with his character on Dream On so many years ago, that his thoughts are still represented by clips of old black-and-white movies and television shows.)
  • Charlotte and Cooper’s embrace on the plane ride back from whatever “Southern Gothic” mess of a state she’s from.
  • Dr. Wyatt finally opening up and becoming an actual character. I actually like where his relationship with Addison is going. Except………

Not-So-Good Things:

  • ……..the fact that S.W.A.T. Guy is still around. Me, I thought he and Addison broke up, but I guess they got over their fights while he was on bedrest after being ambushed at his job. I didn’t like S.W.A.T. Guy before, and I don’t like him now. Sorry.
  • The actual amount of knowledge I gained from the cystic fibrosis case, which was absolutely zero. All I really know about the disease is what I gathered from the recently departed Frankie from The Real World: San Diego and the documentary Sick: The Life & Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (a great Kirby Dick documentary, but I warn you – it is not for the squeamish), and that’s about it. Usually I get a little bit of info every week from PP, but not this time.
  • Charlotte’s comparison of cancer being like “the chickens coming home to roost.” Neither my wife nor I have any freakin’ clue what the hell that means, nor do we really care to find out. WTF?
These aint his chickens. Theyre my chickens.

These ain't his chickens. They're my chickens.

Lesson Of The Week:
Taye Diggs only dates ridiculously attractive women.

The Husband:

Surprisingly, both Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters kept it remarkably simple last night, a welcome respite for my currently over-serialized brain (where are my Privileged posts? They’ll come in a bit, after all my other delayed posts). DH especially took a time out from its mysteries to take us on a nice, if relatively pointless, series of flashbacks, and on a nice national holiday like today, it’s the perfect gift for a lazy day.

In fact, I think I can sum up DH pretty quickly and not feel like I’m shortchanging anything. Beau Bridges plays Eli Scruggs, Fairview’s favorite handyman, who has just had a fatal heart attack the day before he was to retire. As all the main gals play poker and get ready for his funeral, they reminisce about how Eli affected each and every one of their lives.

For Gaby, it was how Eli helped her fit in better upon her moving into the neighborhood so many years ago, as she was still an egotistical, socially inept former model struggling with Carlos’ decision to bring them to the suburbs. With Eli’s help, she is able to apologize to the main women in the cast for her rudeness and is finally accepted into the inner circle.

Well, thats nice, Gaby, but youre still kind of a bitch.

Well, that's nice, Gaby, but you're still kind of a bitch.

For Bree, it was that Eli gave her the confidence to stand up to her man (the now-dead guy thanks to a heart condition and Roger Bart’s malfeasance) and finally be able to write the cookbook that we see now has brought her so much wealth.

For Edie, Eli helped her understand men better by prompting her to realize that her muscley trainer husband Umberto was actually gay, and then he helped her understand men better by simply having a penis, as she jumps him out of desperation.

For Lynette, it was that Eli helped her get out of her I-don’t-have-a-career-because-I-keep-getting-pregnant funk and made her realize that her children are her most prized items in her life.

For Susan, it was making her aware that her husband at the time wasn’t just cheating on her with one woman but perhaps even several. And then years later, upon finding that Susan has broken up with Jackson (which is fine because now Gale Harold doesn’t have to literally phone in his performances anymore), he helps her understand that sometimes it’s good to simply live alone for a bit.

And finally, Eli was there the day that Mary Alice killed herself out of grief for her season 1 crimes, and upon learning of her death mere hours after talking to her, devotes the rest of his life to helping people live their lives better.

The. End.

Eli Scruggs is dead. Long live Eli Scruggs.

Eli Scruggs is dead. Long live Eli Scruggs.

Like I said, the episode had no forward momentum, no real connection to this season and provided no extra clues to what we needed to solve, but it was nice going back to the show’s heyday and even before, so we could get a better understanding of these women (who, let’s be honest, we pretty much understand completely anyway). And it was nice to see Beau Bridges take a break from living in Camden County and dealing with his karma-obsessed ex-con son Earl Hickey and move on over to Fairview, where he could be all savior-y on ABC.

Aaaaaand over here in Pasadena, we have our Walkers on Brothers & Sisters. Also framed as a flashback episode, the show opens with Nora, Sarah and Rebecca one-by-one getting onto a hotel elevator, each looking unkempt and, as we are meant to infer, all looking very post-coital. We flashback 48 hours to see what led up to this.

While Rebecca, in a tiny subplot, seems to have bitten and has become an unknowing pawn in Tommy’s evil plan to overthrow Holly as the CEO of Ojai Foods, but this is pushed aside so she can be all jealous that Justin has taken in a new sponsee, but, against the rules, it’s a female sponsee.

And while Nora freaks out about how expensive her Cancer House charity is going to be, Kevin accompanies Robert on a quail-hunting expedition with some very powerful Republicans in order to secure their support for Robert’s run as California governor. Kevin is not happy at all the digs against his gay and liberal beliefs, so he loses his shit, but for his own peace of mind as well as Robert’s political future, he apologizes just in time to let the Republicans drop their support for a Humboldt County official also interested in the governorship and throw their weight behind the McAllister campaign. Now that Robert is just about ready to get all crazy political now, how is this going to affect his marriage to Kitty as well as the baby that’s on the way?

You know, Id eat quail at a five star, but Id rather not kill it myself, you know?

You know, I'd eat quail at a five star, but I'd rather not kill it myself, you know?

But the central purpose of the episode is to get everybody to Greentopia’s launch party, where the booze is flowing and Sarah, already on edge thanks to her 10-year-old daughter arguing with her over her little child desire to wear slightly inappropriate attire, is about to lose her mind if the Greentopia website does not find an investor. Fortunately, it does, and everybody celebrates in his or her own ways.

Ethan, the dark-haired founder of Greentopia, tells Sarah in a moment of boldness that he has had his eyes on her since they first met, and they go up to one of the several rooms leased out for the evening. Rebecca, meanwhile, is upset that Justin could not show up to the launch party, because he’s with his female sponsee and doesn’t realize that it’s his and Rebecca’s first anniversary as a couple. Dejected, Rebecca lets the other Greentopia founder, Kyle, bring her up to the honeymoon suite she had decorated for the occasion. And Nora, battling over price with Roger, finally realizes the sexual chemistry that has been going on between the two of them for 30 years now and brings him up to her room.

Ahhh…but the show twists around on us, and instead of doing something drastic for, say, bigger ratings, lets us as viewers know that it would never forsake its characters just for the sake of drama. Here’s the fun part — none of the three disheveled women actually sleep with any of their prospective beaus. Nora, right after she and Roger begin making out, passes out drunk immediately. Sarah realizes that she’s only giving herself up to Ethan because she’s treating him like a charity case. And Rebecca — who I might have started hating if she actually cheated on the wonderful Justin simply because he had some responsibilities as a recovering alcoholic — doesn’t even let Kyle get his hands on her and simply sleeps alone in the honeymoon suite. So the next morning, everybody’s fine, and everybody has learned various lessons about the ways they have been behaving.

This was a wonderful episode that could have gone horribly awry, and it’s only real misstep was the Kevin story which was pretty much just a reiteration of everything that has been going on between him and Robert ever since Kevin joined his team as communications director. I especially liked the way Sarah, after overreacting to her daughter’s obsession with this short, sparkly dress, goes to the mall and buys the dress for her again, and then has a talk with her that while often the daughter is allowed to have a say about these kinds of things, Sarah is still the mother and she has the right to overrule Paige on occasion.

The Husband:

Man, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if it’s the writing or the winter break or I’m just losing my patience, but between Grey’s Anatomy last Thursday and last night’s Desperate Housewives, I have suddenly found most of the show’s characters temporarily unbearable. With GA it was the boring repetition of themes past and fights present, and with DH it’s that many of the characters have reverted back to their old, flawed selves from way early in the show’s run. Am I alone in this? Has everybody always been this obnoxious? I hope not, because that would not bode well for both the future of the show’s and, more importantly, my enjoyment of said shows.

In fact, I can pretty much shove all but one of the “housewives” stories into one short paragraph, so as to demonstrate my lack of interest in them. Bree, having emasculated Orson again and again in public situations, is taken to task by Alex, her future son-in-law, on the way she treats people. The two finally come to an understanding, and everything becomes okay again. Susan gets accidentally locked in Edie’s basement with her, where she learns, through some tough love, that she is completely unable to exist without having a man around. Gaby, meanwhile, can no longer control her kids, as they respect their now-full-time-employee father more, so she lets her gardener (Gary Anthony Williams, from respectively one of my favorite sitcoms, Malcolm in the Middle, and one of my favorite comedies, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle), who has a couple “monsters” of his own, come in and yell the children into shape. Gaby and Carlos come to an understanding about child-rearing, and everything is okay.

As for Lynette – who as you know if you’ve read even one of my DH posts is my favorite character not just of the show but in recent television – she herself was not unbearable but her story left a great deal to be desired. When a crotchety old man comes to Lynette complaining about her son, she is confused until she finds out that Porter, who ran away in order to stave off jail (on charges of something he didn’t even do), has been living with Lynette’s mother at the local retirement home and has been making a ruckus. Lynette goes over and gets into a heated argument with her mother, a relationship that seems to have very much changed between the pre-time warp of s5 and now. The show explains that they are on bad terms, pretty much, because Lynette noticed that her mother was gambling away all of her savings, began drinking again and kept falling asleep with lit cigarettes in her mouth, and that she put her in the retirement community as a result. Not a bad decision, really, but it does tend to drive people a part.

Lynette’s mother, however, is one step ahead and already tipped Porter off, so Lynette drives away in a huff. Suddenly, she comes up with a plan, wherein she fakes a car accident and has somebody call her mother, thus tricking her mother and Porter into showing up at the hospital. The plan works but drives Lynette and her mother further apart, until they talk about their underlying issues and vow to work through them.

Porter, meanwhile, goes to court off-screen and the charges are immediately dropped in a completely anticlimactic ending to a storyline that had taken up so much of the show. Was it really that simple? Just show up and the implied arson charges are dropped? How about the evil Warren Schilling? Where was he? Did he get into a motorcycle accident while not filming the show, too? Can we expect to only hear his voice over the phone just like recovering actor Gale Harold?

Brothers & Sisters, on the other hand, recovered very nicely from last week’s sadly pedestrian episode with a melodramatic hour full of Shonda Rhimes-worthy questions of ethics in all of its characters.

You cant even bother to show up at your own sisters book signing? I am hurt, Walker Clan. Hurt.

You can't even bother to show up at your own sister's book signing? I am hurt, Walker Clan. Hurt.

Kitty, as you know, has a book to promote, one on being on the campaign trail with her husband Robert McAllister and how it affected her own Walker family, and has been getting some very high-profile interviews, including appearances by the never-too-busy-to-shill Regis and Kelly. The next day, she has a local Los Angeles book reading and signing, but unfortunately Nora is the only family member to show up. Why is this and what caused all these rifts? Let’s go through all the candidates.

  • Well, Kevin, having recovered from surgery two episodes ago, is back at work as communications director for Robert, and against his better judgment is forced by Robert to schedule a meeting with a prominent politician who is, apparently, the person to go to if one is interested in running for higher office. Kevin doesn’t want Robert to ignore Kitty and would love to be honest with her, but he has to separate the professional from the personal. By episode’s end, Kevin learns of what he already suspected, that after a grueling and failed campaign for president, Robert is now interested in running for governor, and that he will tell Kitty of this plan when he is damn well and ready.
  • Justin is taking the day to move into his new but shitty apartment.
  • Tommy is trying to rope Saul in on a scheme to oust Holly as the CEO of Ojai Foods through very complicated means, which would include he and Saul buying up an orchard, being silent partners, getting involved with Ojai, then take their now bigger shares and earn control of the company and then fire Holly. Why this prevented Tommy from going to the book signing I’m not sure, but it is Tommy being kind of vicious and, as usual, not an especially appealing character. Saul refuses to participate in the plan, though, so Tommy
  • Sarah, having the best and most dramatic story of the week, has discovered that Greentopia and its founders need an extra flux of cash before a convention in order to promote their environmentally conscious website, but none of them have any idea where to get the money. Nora, who is dealing with her own issues with the design of her new charity center, gets wind of this and asks Kitty to help, who shows up to Greentopia’s “office” (Sarah’s house) with a check for $120,000. Much to the creators’ dismay, Sarah refuses the check, accusing Kitty of always being greater than her and always swooping down to be a savior whenever anybody in the family has a problem. Sarah, however, discovers she cannot take out a loan for the company, so she goes back to Kitty, who now realizes she shouldn’t have to buy Sarah’s love and respect, so they come to an agreement and have Sarah, who needs to take some responsibility, take out a second mortgage with Kitty as guarantor.

What struck me about this specific story was about how serious the fights between Sarah and Kitty were and yet they were done at a very quiet, sensible level with argument tones not of anger but of hurt and confusion. Neither had to raise their voice to be heard or to insult, and that’s a refreshing change for a medium so known for its histrionics. (Grey’s, I’m looking at you specifically.) And yet, everything was happening in this scene, so the energies present made the fights that much more interesting.

I also appreciate how Nora is handling her new charity project and her explanation of why she’s doing it. Basically, she feels that until now her legacy has been simply to raise her children and keep the family together, but now that everybody is grown up and she has no stake in Ojai Foods, she needs to do something that matters, something that lasts, something that will make her a true human being. But guess what? When she’s telling all this information onscreen, she’s not weeping uncontrollably about all of her regrets but instead is calmly reasserting her decision to be a better, more giving person. It’s uplifting more than depressing, and I respect that decision as far as the show’s tone is concerned.

B&S is back on track, and I am eternally grateful that this very serious and adult show still manages to crack the Nielsen Top 20 every now and again. It’s nice to see such quality get justified attention. It doesn’t happen enough, honestly, on the same week we say goodbye to the stellar Lipstick Jungle.

« Previous PageNext Page »