The Husband:

While we, the children of Saint Clare, have found the time to write about many of the biggest shows on television (and even some small ones), there is only so much time and energy we can spend on this site. The truth is, we watch a whole lot more than what ends up on the site, and since I watch most of these on my own and yet never find the ability to write about them, their absence is mostly my fault. But no matter. For those that fall through the cracks, I have here a grab bag of the 30+ shows I watch in addition to whatever ends up on the site. These are the ones that slipped through the cracks. And hell, I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting (and also not even bothering writing about, which tend to fall under instructional/educational stuff like anything on Discovery), so if you think I’ve forgotten something, please let me know. (And no, I don’t watch any CSI or L&O shows, so don’t even try to get all up in my grill.) Here they are, the missing shows of the 2008-2009 television season, in alphabetical order.

24

I really should have written at least some criticism on this season, but work piled up and I simply didn’t have the time. It started off as the most intelligent season with some of the most compelling political questions being thrown around (welcome to the show finally, “debate on torture”), but by the fourth time Tony twisted his alliance and Jack was infected with the disease, I kind of stopped caring. Great first half of the season, though, and I think Renee is the best new character in a very long time.

Adult Swim (Xavier: Renegade Angel / Superjail! / Squidbillies / The Drinky Crow Show / Metalocalypse / Delocated / Robot Chicken / Etc.)

Thank you, young people of Adult Swim (who I have spent some time with, don’t forget) for freaking my mind week after week, and giving alternative comedy a major boost in America. And for freaking out my wife.

A beacon of normalcy in a world of wackiness.

A beacon of normalcy in a world of wackiness.

Better Off Ted

It took me a couple episodes to latch onto the tone, but once I did I simply couldn’t get enough from this latest product of the mad mind of Victor Fresco. Check out some episodes online, then watch Andy Richter Controls the Universe (his previous show), and I guarantee you some of the oddest network comedy in a very long time. I still think Portia DeRossi is trying to hard, though, and should take a page from the book of Fresco mainstay Jonathan Slavin.

Castle

Bring it on, Nathan Fillion. Hypnotize me with your nostrils and your addictive but borderline-stupid mystery writer-cum-detective series. (Although how weird was that Judy Reyes episode? What the hell, Carla Turk?)

The Celebrity Apprentice 2

So sue me, I liked Joan Rivers. And the addition of the phrase “Whore Pit Vipers” to the television lexicon.

Celebrity Rehab (Sober House) with Dr. Drew

So help me, I can’t stop watching. It’s just a disaster. I will say, though, that I like the drama in the rehab far more than the sober house, as the latter seems to exist simply to destroy any progress the celebrities made in rehab. And now having seen all three of his seasons of Taxi, Jeff Conaway’s fall from grace is fishbowl television at its finest.

Dating in the Dark

Really fun, actually. I hope it gets a second season. I also hope that more matches will be made, and that people stop being massive failures.

Dirty Sexy Money

Everything I needed to say about the failure of the second season of this show can be found on this blog, and it ended its truncated run by turning itself inside-out by revealing that the show’s central mystery, who killed Peter Krause’s father, was a bust since he wasn’t dead after all. What the hell, Dirty Sexy Money? Oh well, your cancellation made room in Krause’s schedule for the much anticipated (by me) adaptation of Parenthood coming to NBC mid-season.

The Goode Family

It took a few episodes to find its footing, but by the end of its sped-up summer run, I was a major fan of the latest Mike Judge effort. (R.I.P. King of the Hill.) Vastly misunderstood by viewers who only watched the first episode, it, just like KOTH, found a middle ground between conservative America and liberal America and found the ability to make fun of both without drawing blood, choosing to love instead of hate. Some of the voice cast was misused (why was my beloved Linda Cardellini in the cast?), but as a Berkeley native, I had a blast relishing in mocking the stereotypes of my own people while rediscovering what it is I love so much about them. The bull dykes were also two of the most original characters of the season.

One Earth isn't just a grocery store, it's a way of life.

One Earth isn't just a grocery store, it's a way of life.

The Great American Road Trip

Any show that has two contestants debating over which is more correct, “y’all” or “youse,” gets major points in my book. A nice and forgettable summer trifle after a long, way-too-hot day. Silly, yes, but I can’t say it was bad. And it was a definite improvement over the similar family-based season of The Amazing Race. (I’m sure The Soup is really grateful for this show, too.)

Heroes

Oh god, kill me now. Volume 4 was a marked improvement over #3, for sure, but I just don’t care about anybody anymore. And yet I feel that I need to keep watching. It’s too late to give up now. There was one great episode this season, though, and that was the flashback one surrounding Angela Petrelli’s stint at a mutant internment camp. Why can’t they all be this good?

Howie Do It

Yeah, I watched it. Shut the fuck up. About one-third of it was funny, and as I watched it on Hulu at work, it’s not like I wasted any of my own time. Howie Mandel is savvier than you think, but I wish he would return to his wilder roots.

How’s Your News

This Parker-Stone produced MTV show revolving around reporters who are developmentally delayed confused the hell out of me initially, but once I realized there wasn’t a mean bone in its body it became a warm bit of fun. I want a second season, dammit. These are some of the most joyful television subjects I’ve ever seen.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show

Better than the first season, but I’m still glad I only watch this online while doing something else.

In the Motherhood

Worst opening credit sequence of the year. Some pretty funny material hidden underneath unfunny slapstick. Horatio Sanz got thin. Megan Mullally couldn’t find a rhythm. I still think Cheryl Hines is oddly hot.

Lie to Me

I unfortunately didn’t start watching this until July, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. While gimmicky to a fault and not nearly as intelligent as it pretends it is, this Tim Roth vehicle about an FBI specialist who studies the subtleties of the face (OF THE FACE) is clever, compelling and well drawn. I’m not sure about the addition of Mekhi Phifer’s character, but we’ll see how it works out next season, especially with Shield creator Shawn Ryan at the helm of season two.

Life

This cancellation reallllly hurts. One of the unsung gems from the 2007-2008 television, this, the smartest network cop show in recent memory, took its great season one energy and hit the second season with all it had and came up with a compelling, hilarious, devilishly clever and gleefully violent run that was only marred by a major cast shift during the final few episodes. (I’m looking at you, Gabrielle Union. Your presence was what I like to call a massive failure.) A Zen-obsessed cop recently released from prison after serving over a decade for a murder he did not commit, this show had the best cases of them all. It also gave me one of my favorite hours of television of the year in an episode that revolved around a seductive assassin, fertilizer and pigeon aficionados. And at least the major serialized storyline (who framed Damien Lewis and why) got paid off in a major way thanks to the ever-reliable Garret Dillahunt.

lifeshot

My Boys

Putting PJ and Bobby together was a great idea, but your nine-episode seasons are too short to gain any momentum, and the spring training season finale was a bust.

Nitro Circus

Moronic glee.

Numb3rs

Man, did they put Charlie through the ringer. First, he nearly gets his brother killed with a miscalculation on his part, he questions his own validity as a mathematician and then Amita gets kidnapped just as he decides that he wants to marry her. Otherwise, another fine, if somewhat uneventful, of this show that never captured the glory of its über-nerdy first season. Also, thanks for all the great guest star work, but sometimes it gets laid on a little too thick, such as in “Sneakerhead” which brought together Bruno Campos, Patrick Bauchau, Dr. Edison from Bones and Eve. (And points for making the Liz Warner character actually bearable. I fucking hated her in season 4.

Privileged

So apparently the CW thought that their best idea ever was to get rid of this show, the smartest show on the UPN/WB merger since the Buffyverse, one that was technically pulling in bigger numbers than 90210, one that was a delight to watch and deeply addictive, and make room for what is sure to be one of 2009-2010’s worst new offerings, Melrose Place. I gotta tell ya, this cancellation hurts. While I wrote recaps and reviews of the episodes way into its freshman (and only) season, the looming axe, as well as a more heavily serialized structure, turned me off from writing on the final stretch of episodes, and I told myself that I’d only recap them if the show came back. Lo and behold, another Joanna Garcia vehicle has gone down the tubes. I’ll miss you oh so dearly, Ms. Too-Smart-For-The-CW Palm Beach satirical melodrama known as Privileged.

I hate to say this, guys, but I think Robert Buckley might be a showkiller. And that's sad, because he's so damn pretty.

I hate to say this, guys, but I think Robert Buckley might be a showkiller. And that's sad, because he's so damn pretty.

Rescue Me

I thought it was a great season, and thanks to an extended number of episodes (it didn’t air in 2008 thanks to the writer’s strike), the show was able to focus much of its energy on pages-long dialogue-happy battle-of-wits in nearly episode, which to be is melodrama heaven. Gone is the maudlin tone, returned is all the comic energy, and the stories seem to actually progress instead of just flopping around like a dying fish. Leary and Tolan deserve major praise for bringing the show back up to snuff. And now having seen all of Newsradio, I love any chance I get to watch Maura Tierney, although I’m still not going to watch ER. (I am proud to have only seen three episodes of that show ever, being a Chicago Hope fan.) Special shot-out to the Sean cancer storyline, if only to allow Broadway actor Steven Pasquale (husband of Tony winner Laura Benanti) the opportunity to belt out some songs in a handful of hallucination scenes.

Samantha Who?

One of the biggest upsets of the last two years was the rise and fall of this light-hearted, occasionally gut-busting amnesia sitcom that started off the talk of the town, only to waste away its final episodes after the conclusion of the actual television season. Ending on a shitty cliffhanger (Sam’s parents are getting divorced, so Mom is going to live with you and your formerly-estranged-but-now-love-of-your-life lover), we nevertheless found out who caused the accident that brought about Sam’s amnesia, Jennifer Esposito finally made it with the towel boy, and Melissa McCarthy continued to be one of the brightest stars of the year.

Scrubs

Like Privileged, I hesitated to continue writing due to the threat of its cancellation, but now it’s continuing on into yet another season (albeit with some major changes), so I really have no reason to stop writing about it. But let’s just say that while the hurry-up to conclude its many disparate storylines often felt rushed (those two Bahama episodes felt especially odd), the conclusion to J.D.’s years-in-the-telling tale was a lovely way to conclude the season. (No props for the awful awful Peter Gabriel song that accompanied his final walk down the hallway, as laughably bad as it was when I heard it in the remake of Shall We Dance?)

The Shield

I don’t have to tell you how amazing the final season was. Watch it. Seriously. You owe it to yourself to experience one of the hardest hitting cop shows of all time. Like The Wire, a Greek tragedy hammered into modern-day policework with some of the most finely drawn characters around. And oh man, did those final three episodes pack a major punch. Ouch, indeed.

Southland

Quite a bit like The Shield, really, had it followed Michael Jace’s beat cop instead of the Strike Team. A little too dour at times for me to really give a crap, and the sprawling ensemble needs to be cut down (which is what I hear it’s doing for the second season), but this L.A.-centered procedural has a lot going for it, not least of which its pitch-perfect direction. (I especially dig the long shots, including my favorite, which involved a cabin and a K9 unit bringing down a perp.)

Way better than dating Marissa Cooper.

Way better than dating Marissa Cooper.

Surviving Suburbia

A sitcom in serious need of finding one tone and sticking with it, this sometimes-sweet-sometimes-brutally-cruel suburban comedy worked as well as it did because of Saget as well as G. Hannelius’ performance as the precocious daughter. Still, all the jokes about disabled people, pregnant teenagers and strip clubs really didn’t mesh together with the clichés of the genre.

Survivor: Tocantins

I love Survivor, but this was one of the most boring seasons in its ten-year run. I don’t think I gave a shit about one person, and I simply couldn’t find anything compelling to write about. A waste of a good location.

True Beauty

The right person won, the losers got (mostly) schooled in this trick show designed to expose the douchery involved in modeling, Ashton Kutcher made another heroin-like show, and I concern myself for months with how they can pull the trick off a second time in the next season.

The Unusuals

When grading a cop show, I tend to focus on three things — the tone, the characters and the cases. A bizarre, pessimistic yet comedic take on all those wacky cops we’ve seen throughout the years all thrown together (one is deathly afraid of…death, one has a brain tumor, one talks in the third person, one is a closeted socialite, etc.) pushed into some remarkably dark territory, The Unusuals had tone and characters down pat, but suffered at the hands of some DOA storylines. But oh man, did the tone ever make up for most of the show’s shortcomings. Great ensemble cast, too, although I would have recast Eddie Alvarez.

Rather unusual.

Rather unusual.

Worst Week

A breezy and often hilarious slapstick comedy based off of a British hit, it could never regain its momentum after moving away from the initial “week” of the title. Kyle Bornheimer is a true find and made the more unbearable misunderstandings and embarrassing moments of the show (of which there were many) all the more palatable. I’m not the biggest fan of comedy based around humiliations, but this show found a likeable ability to have its characters not completely despise each other at every moment. This was, to say the least, very refreshing. Big points for giving me the biggest network TV laugh of the year (when Bornheimer wakes up his brother-in-law only to be thought a murderer) but major negative points for pushing back a major character-based episode into a weekend spot months after the show had already ended its run.

The Husband:

Here they are – the last three new episodes of King Of The Hill ever, on any channel. ABC didn’t make good on their bid to pick it up for further seasons, so if we are to get a taste of the Hill family of Arlen, Texas, it’s going to have to be via syndication from here on out. Right now it’s on Adult Swim, but who knows where it’ll be in five years?

It’s a shame to see it go, but it was a great 13-season run, and that many seasons in this day and age is almost entirely unheard of. For such a low-rated but well-loved slice of American satire, it’s a miracle it was still around in this decade’s final year, and nobody can take that away from us.

Here we go.

13.16 “Bad News Bill”

If you were a young boy growing up in this country, especially in the last three decades, you probably at one time or another played a league sport. (I’m not trying to limit all of you women out there who also played sports, but as a male I just simply know my youth better than yours.) It was a mixture of triumph, despair, skills, shame and a whole other mess of emotions for said children, often feeling the majority of these emotions for the first time ever in such a compacted space. It’s a positive thing for any young child to do no matter what their skill set, but it’s also some of the most intense days of their young lives. It can break a child if one is not careful, but more often it matures them and sets them up for the next stage in their life.

I played a variety of sports, from soccer (eight years) to basketball (six years), plus the little bits and pieces I did of other activities – a good deal of after-school tennis, racquetball, a smidgeon of ice hockey – but league baseball, more than anything, was a major portion of my young life. While I was much better at soccer and enjoyed the sport more, the seven years I spent playing baseball defined me, and that’s a tough thing to put on a child. Some of my greatest memories, both grand and shameful, come from these weekends at assorted parks in West Contra Costa County, and I relive them every now and again, thinking back on my few triumphs…and countless defeats.

Out in right field, watching the dandelions grow.

Out in right field, watching the dandelions grow.

And Bobby Hill, well, he is about to experience some of the horrors of the sport. We all know that Bobby is not your “average American boy,” which is fine, because I’m of the belief that people can be whatever the fuck they want to be. But in Hank Hill’s life, everything seems to fall under the heteronormative – to borrow an overused vocab word from an acquaintance – concepts of the American South. But Hank is beyond caring at this point, so when Bobby joins little league, Hank knows it won’t last. But lo, Bobby is coming home with a smile on his face. Why? Not because he’s any good. It’s because he has one of those coaches who is 100% positive reinforcement, and even if Bobby is a piss-poor ball-player, the coach cheers him on an equal ground with the better players on his team.

Unfortunately, Hank sees right through this, getting banned from the field for simply being an honest father, and realizes that Bobby is getting humiliated game-after-game, and that despite the coach’s best intentions, this is not going to end well for Bobby. Seeing that Bobby is hated by his teammates and the crowd, he does the only thing he can think of, which is to steal the baseball mid-play and run off, embarrassing himself in the process.

A torrent of memories came back during this episode, and the specifics are really neither here nor there, but I can’t say that too many shows really reach into my past as easily as this show tends to do year-after-year. And that’s a fact.

Not the greatest Bobby episode, and unfortunately the final two episodes of the season will barely involve Bobby at all, so this season we are left with no spectacular Bobby-centric episode. However, it left us with the sweet, unassuming and…different boy we’ve known for all these years, and I’m glad for that.

13.17 “Manger Baby Einstein”

And here we have our final Luanne episode, a hilarious, bizarre and telling episode that endears her character, as well as Lucky, to us once again, wondering why the hell Brittany Murphy has basically squandered her live-action film career. More than anyone on this show, I think Luanne can make me bust a gut laughing at even the smallest things.

I really think Brittany Murphy would make a great second coming of Sherri Lewis.

I really think Brittany Murphy would make a great second coming of Sherri Lewis.

This week, realizing that she can easily calm down her new child with the Manger Babies, her happy gang of hand puppets, she decides to attempt a career as a puppeteer for itty-bitty children. And when John Redcorn comes on as a producer – he has a production company and an assortment of AV items thanks to a past in making…other kinds of movies – she becomes an overnight star. This is especially thanks to the slim pickings of children entertainers in the Arlen area.


“The last clown didn’t wear enough make-up and too much of his inner pain came through.” – Mother

Soon her DVD is selling like hotcakes, and she is a local celebrity. But when she does a concert at an ampitheatre and realizes that she now has less than a dozen fans, she realizes that the pop culture attention span of infants is even less than those raised in the MTV Generation. And so, with Redcorn’s help, she throws out some of her puppets, including her beloved octopus Gurgle Gurgle (hearing Luanne say his name is comedy enough), and gets some edgier puppets and an edgier show. Included in this new gang is a Bratz doll.


“Does this one make my hand a slut?” – Luanne


But by the end, Luanne has noticed, just like everybody else in her life, that while entertaining all of these other toddlers, she is forgetting to take care of her own family, and so she hangs up the new puppets, finds Gurgle Gurgle in the mouth of a showdog at a local Chuck E Cheese rip-off, and reverts back to the mother she always wanted to be.


“I’m like an asteroid drifting through space, without a puppeteering career.” – Luanne


The theme is a bit of a tough one for people to swallow, I assume, but it’s done in the most uplifting, pragmatic way possible. As Hank lectures Luanne for ignoring her family, he tells her that she doesn’t need a career, because no matter what, she is a mother. But instead of this being a blow to feminism, it simply lets us know that mothers should not be looked down upon as anything less than the hard-working women they are, and that if they are happy with that position in their lives, then that’s their prerogative.

I also just really loved how freaked out Lucky was when his baby started rolling around on the ground and rung up Hank.


“Lucky, it’s normal for babies to do weird things. Babies are weird.” – Hank


3.18 “Uh-Oh Canada”

And lo, the final episode of King Of The Hill. And how was it? Pretty goddamn great. An ensemble piece to the end, we follow Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer one final time, and this time it’s to protect the good ol’ US of A.

And why is this? Well, Boomhauer is doing a summer-long house-exchange with a family in Canada, and while the Arlen gang isn’t keen to have a Canuck in their midst, Boomhauer seems to have a blast up in Canada, growing a beard and becoming a rugged chick magnet.


“Boomhauer, don’t you dare come back a hockey fan.” – Hank


But down in Texas, a storm is brewing. While the Canadian family isn’t terribly offensive or even much of a nuisance, the father is a bit uppity and can’t help but exposing many of America’s [rightfully maligned] problems, from healthcare to politics and beyond. And while Hank is a polite Southern man, it’s not wise to insult his homeland, and thus a battle forms between the two neighboring countries. Some of the snaps? Hank claiming that nobody can trust a nation that is disbanding its navy. Or my favorite:


Canadian: Tell me who our prime minister is.

Hank: Why?


But when the Canadian father is sent to jail, Hank and the gang realize the error of their ways and spring him out just in time for Boomhauer to come back, now with a Canadian girlfriend, speaking French and acting a changed man. (Bonus points for Boomhauer speaking perfect French Canadian without even the slightest mumble or stutter.)

There are, I hear, another six episodes out there in the ether, as yet unaired by Fox, and I hope that we can see those in some form or another, either over the summer on network, on Adult Swim or just on DVD. But if not, this was a great episode to go out on, one of American pride that nevertheless exposes some of this country’s problems, such as unjust xenophobia, unchecked pride and a touch of ignorance. This show always did it both ways, and that, along with its great big heart, is what made the show a delight into its teenage years.

The Wife:

I adore So You Think You Can Dance. It may have a cumbersome and silly name, usually reduced to SYTYCD, which is even more cumbersome, or, in my home, Dancey Dance, but I’ve yet to find a televised dancing show that better shows us the experience of dancing professionally in a variety of different ways. It shows us all of the beauty and meaning that can be created with the human body with a leap, a twist, a leg extension or the artful flex of a foot. It shows us what it’s like for a dancer to go from audition, to casting, to rehearsal and to review, and what it’s like to see choreography through from concept to rehearsal to staging. (I should note that I find many of these qualities in MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, but not the full spectrum.) Over four seasons of SYTYCD, I have been moved to tears by the artistry in the collaborative efforts of these young dancers and veteran choreographers in ways I never expected. It doesn’t mater if it was the never-to-be-topped Paso Doble by season one’s Artem (who remains my favorite Russian ever to grace the show), Ivan and Allison’s breathtaking contemporary routine set to Annie Lenox’s “Why” from season two, Jesus and Sara’s Wade Robeson-choreographed pop jazz to “Cabaret Hoover” from Les Triplettes de Belleville that stunned me to silence with its inventiveness, or any of my favorites from season four, all of which except Sonya’s brilliant jazz piece to “The Garden” for Mark and Courtney made it into the title sequence for this year: Nikhul’s Bollywood number for the entire group, Tabatha and Napolean Duomo’s breathtaking piece set to “No Air” for Katee and Joshua, their moving, heart-stopping piece for Chelsie and Mark to Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and Mia Michaels’ visceral piece set to Duffy’s “Mercy” for Katee and Twitch. There are so many other memorable routines from this show that I can’t possibly list them all, but I hope those examples speak to what you’re missing if you do not watch SYTYCD. There is real, glorious inventive theatre happening on your television two nights a week, a collaboration between visionary artists who move my heart with the ways they move the human body and the skillful dancers that inhabit those roles. And you should be experiencing it.

Step right up, ya'll!

Step right up, ya'll!

I’ll be writing about every audition episode, doing my best to keep you abreast of the names and faces you may get to know very well after Vegas Week. Let’s begin in Brooklyn, NY, where Tabatha and Napolean Duomo (who helped cast ABDC two seasons ago) sat in with Nigel and Mary Murphy for auditions:

Gaby Rojas: Not five minutes into this season of Dancey Dance, and they grant my heart’s dearest wish by giving me an honest-to-God carney. One of my deepest desires is to be like this girl and learn circus arts, so I was prepared to be amazed by her flexibility and muscle control – which turned out to be all the more stellar because she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis (which is sad). She was, in a word, astounding. Her isolations were so perfectly befitting a seasoned popper, and yet she could also dance with the grace of a ballerina, the power of a contemporary dancer and the carriage of a ballroom dancer. The judges were equally impressed and gave her a ticket straight to Vegas. If she doesn’t make the Top 20, I will eat my hat. (Which will be hard, as I do not routinely wear hats.)

Hobgoblin and Shadowman-P: These guys are Brooklyn Bonecrushers who don’t really know that the kind of dancing they do is referred to in the street crew community as “bonecrushing.” They do a mix of contortions (bonecrushing) and illusions in their act that would make them right at home on America’s Best Dance Crew. They also sometimes paint their faces “schmean,” a putrid shade of green and act like zombies, going so far as to advance upon the judges table during their audition act. I love that Cat Deeley let them paint her face schmean, and that the judges let them take a turn at that day’s choreography round.

Peter Sabasino: Tappers don’t do well on this show, but this guy is the best we’ve ever seen. He’s got the old school flair of an MGM hoofer from the 30s, combined with some sweet foot action like an 80s Michael Jackson. He also has great arms, and I want to see him beautifully lift girls in ballroom numbers. He goes straight to Vegas.

Tiffany Geigel: She only has three out of seven vertebrae, making her torso very squished together. It is clear that she will not be allowed to advance simply by looking at her, but for someone with her disorder, she actually dances quite well. There’s a real grace in her arms and legs, even though she has trouble extending them fully. Nigel et al give her criticism befitting her body and skill level (that she needs to work on extending her knees and arms fully), and praise her for having the courage to audition and show that she can, in fact, dance despite her appearance. It’s a no, but she still gets a standing O and that’s very nice. I’m sure there’s a dance troupe for the disabled that would love to have her with them. She’s just so spirited that you can’t help but wish her well.

Maksim Kapitanikov: He auditions with the help of former SYTYCD contestant Faina doing a samba. The judges think he partners exceptionally well, although it was hard to take their eyes off Faina. I think he has great footwork. He goes on to the choreography round.

Nobuya Nagahana: He’s apparently so Japanese that the producers feel the need to capture with supertitles all of the dance styles he talks about in his interview package. He’s very cute and very energetic in his audition, but I really don’t think he’s quite right for the show. The judges, however, see something I don’t and send him to choreography. Maybe I’d have liked him more if he were dancing with a crew?

Arielle Taylor: She auditioned in season three and got cut during Vegas week. I don’t remember her, but her audition this time is graceful and lovely. She gets a ticket straight to Vegas.

Thomas Martin and Amanda Clark: They claim they’re doing the Bolero, a dance we’ve not seen on SYTYCD before, but it is beyond clumsy and awkward and probably not what a Bolero should look like at all. They get a no.

Igor Zabrodin and Nina Estrina: I saw Nina’s yellow skirt flair in an amazing knee-spin during the previews, and I immediately wanted her to go straight to Vegas. It turns out that what I thought was a knee-spin is actually performed on the ball of her foot and she spots amazingly during this 30-second potstirrer. I love them. The judges send them through to choreography.

Kellen Stancil: When he appeared onstage with that umbrella, I thought the worst, but Kellen actually managed to turn in an artful, meaningful audition that was chilling and incredibly well-executed. Dancing with props is hard, and he sold me when he opened the umbrella at the end of the piece without a hitch. After telling a story about how that dance was for his recently deceased aunt, he gets a ticket straight to Vegas.

Chimezie Nwosa: He performed a dope hip hop routine, but didn’t successfully land either of his flips. The judges send him through to choreography.

At the end of the choreography round for day one, Hobgoblin and Shadowman-P quit (I know a crew you guys can join! They’re called Ringmasters and they’re in Brooklyn!), and Maksim and Nobuya earn tickets to Vegas. For day two, Igor got a ticket to Vegas, but not Nina, which I think is a fucking outrage. How do you not send someone who spots like that to Vegas? They also send Chimezie to Vegas, although I have no idea why as he completely overdid the choreography that was given to him. At the end of the New York auditions, I caught that 14 people earned tickets to Vegas on day two. I have no idea how many got Vegas tickets on day one. I have failed you all. I can tell you, however, that the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for NYC auditions was 1, for Gaby Rojas. (Igor and Nina got an unofficial one, so I’m not counting it.)

Next up, Denver auditions in the Colorado Convention Center, which has ugly theatre seats, but a breathtaking stage. Choreographer Sonya (wearing a cute Betsey Johnson sweater) joins Nigel and Mary for judging.

Kayla Radomski: My husband immediately decided that her nickname should be “Radonkulous,” so if she makes the Top 20, that’s what we shall call her. And she might just! Her dance was brilliant, she moved between sharp isolations and unconventional hand movements that made me think she was a velociraptor to stunning extensions, leaps and lines. She is a sexy, sexy velociraptor. And I love her. She gets a ticket straight to Vegas, and her father cries because he’s so proud of her. Now I love her even more.

Misha Belfer and Mitchel K . . . something: A big deal was made about these two dudes dancing the samba together in very homoerotic costumes, rightfully summed up by Nigel as reminding him of Blades of Glory. Both were good dancers, and Sonya and I appreciated that they both integrated the traditional male and female roles into the roles for each partner because it creates an interesting take on gender identity in the dance world. However, not having someone dance the male role and the female role confused the hell out of Mary, who probably knows more gay men than I do, and yet somehow is so traditional. They go through to the choreography round, perhaps because they fell during the routine and semi-successfully played it off like they meant it to happen.

Allison Moist: She dressed like a lion and danced with lightsabers. I usually wouldn’t spend time on the disillusioned here, but there was something kind of brilliant in her inability to discern that she wasn’t very good and subsequent inability to express why she chose to perform that audition in that costume with those props. I like that Nigel tried to steer her toward being a makeup artist, though. That’s called corrective cuddling, the human equivalent of squeezing a cat that’s done something bad so hard that they’re slightly uncomfortable and mew. She got a no, and was followed by a sequence of bad auditions, the most notable of which featured a girl who could have been a dead ringer for Jennifer Love Hewitt dancing with a ventriloquist dummy.

Elias Holloway: He auditioned with the help of his 16-year-old brother, Enoch. They are the youngest of 14 children who are either dancers or swimmers. With that many children, I would have expected to hear that they all run a farm or something. Anyway, Elias is into popping and locking, and he and his brother perform a routine to some Daft Punk-ish techno that’s pretty good. It earns him a chance at choreography.

Natalie Reid: This was the girl who almost made it to the Top 20 last year instead of her roommate, Katee. I’m so happy Natalie came back because she is even better this year than I remember her. She is so good she brings Sonya to tears and earns a ticket straight to Vegas! I sincerely hope she makes the Top 20 this year because she’s brilliant. Surely they won’t deny her the chance this time.

Brandon Bryant: This guy was another favorite of mine last year, who moves in ways I didn’t think humanly possible. He was beat out for a spot in the Top 20 by Gev. I remembered him when I saw the ankh tattooed on his thigh, and every reason I loved him last year came flooding back in his audition. It was primal and graceful, muscular and liquid all at once. He moves Mary to tears and earns his ticket straight to Vegas. I would love to see him in the Top 20 this year.

After the choreography rounds, Mitch and Mischa are given nos, along with Elias. All in all, 19 people are Vegas-bound from Denver. The season is promising so far! Looking forward to Miami and Memphis auditions next week!

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?