The Husband:

Due to our ever-changing work schedules, alterations/advancements in career, far too many new shows on the proverbial television slab and my just-now-begun quest to watch every musical Scarecrow Video has on the shelf (all the ones not categorized into certain main musical actors or directors, and ones that are not rock music- or beach-focused, come in at around 350, so this should take me about 1.6 years), this is an introduction to a new way we’re going to do things around here. Certain shows, like So You Think You Can Dance, Glee and ANTM (the best Wednesday line-up ever), obviously get full and detailed articles nearly every week, but others happen to fall through the cracks. And yet, I still feel like discussing them. I’ll try to get them into three-episode blocks, but my first foray into this new manner of writing will have settle for a belated four-episode review.

Up now, FX’s tough biker drama Sons of Anarchy.

Riding hard.

Riding hard.

When SOA premiered last year, I only caught two episodes on Hulu before deciding I would rather wait for the buzz to build and then catch the DVDs. I had too many shows going on at the household (and this was before we upgraded to two DVRs, so I don’t think I had room for it anyway) and my wife was exactly 0% interested, as the only thing she watches on FX is Nip/Tuck. So I grabbed the s1 DVDs from Netflix as soon as it was possible and pushed through the entire first season in five days. The problems that were apparent from the first two episodes, an over-reliance on us giving a crap about SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Organization) so quickly and thus hoisting far too much exposition without character-building, sort of eased their way out, and viewers were left with a very rough-and-tumble version of some of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies (Hamlet is the most obvious one) set in a fictional Northern California biker town. (A NorCal native, I enjoy all the references to Lodi, Stockton and Oakland, even if they clearly shoot in SoCal and treat six-to-eight-hour motorcycle treks as if they were nothing.) Suffice it to say, I got hooked quickly, and despite some of the show’s biggest flaws, I consider it a pretty true American television original.

But we’re not here to talk about the first season. Your TV snob friends have probably already talked your ear off about the power of season 1 and some of its greatest moments (“Dude, Peg Bundy just beat Taryn Manning ‘cross the face with a motherfucking skateboard!” “Holy shit they just burned an entire back tattoo off of a former Samcro rider!”), but now that the show has garnered a pretty substantial following — at least twice as many viewers as Leno’s nightly crapfest — it’s all about the here and now.

First season spread its villainy out wide, but s2 has brought us a great deal of focus with one of the more terrifying television creations in quite some time — Adam Arkin’s white separatist businessman Ethan Zobelle, who has threatened to destroy Samcro unless they stopped selling guns to “color.” Not one to take threats from anybody, Clay (Ron Perlman, intimidating as all hell) vows war against the white separatists should anything mind-numbingly terrible occurs.

And here’s where that mind-numbingly terrible thing comes into play. After a heated face-to-face with Clay, Ethan gets right-hand man Henry Rollins his cronies (at least allegedly at this point, although it’s pretty much guaranteed they did it save for a possible last-minute twist) to kidnap Clay’s wife Gemma (Katey Sagal) and gang-rape her in a warehouse, each of them wearing white Michael Myers masks. Much debate has raged on the internet regarding whether or not this plot device was too exploitative for the show’s own good (it was pretty goddamn horrifying), but the manner in which the story has progressed has solidified it in my mind as the only way to go in such a jagged-edged universe. Gemma has so far not told Clay or the men of Samcro what happened to her (only Chief Unser and Dr. Tara Knowles know, and they’re covering for her), and this strangely enough makes her a very strong woman. Why? Because telling Samcro what happened to her would give the separatists exactly what they want, and the town of Charming would devolve into a complete and utter war zone. It’s a harsh place for a television program to go, but nothing is black-and-white on Sons of Anarchy. (Except for the white separatists, who are, clearly, very white.)

Unfortunately, two storylines have kind of fallen flat for me, one mildly and one in a big way. The little problem is the sudden focus on a local adult film business, which, while fascinating in a weird way, has been mostly played for laughs, and it’s here that SOA loses some of its edge and sometimes feels like a Nip/Tuck deleted scene. Tom Arnold’s appearance as a rival porn producer didn’t help.

But the biggest problem in s2 so far is happening now that main character Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and the aforementioned Tara (the omnipresent Maggie Siff) are finally a couple. Whatever chemistry they had in s1, as they each struggled with their own personal problems (he his dying baby and his meth-addicted estranged wife, she her being followed across state lines by a rogue FBI agent), has all but dissipated, and it seems that their power existed mostly in the will-they-or-won’t-they. Now she’s just another biker bimbo, and while I appreciate that her brains are getting in the way of some of Samcro’s business, her character’s IQ seems to have dropped 50 points almost overnight. Their love scenes play like the animal crackers sequence from Armageddon, and it’s just not working. It’s a waste of two good characters.

Someone get these people some animal crackers and lame dialogue.

Someone get these people some animal crackers and lame dialogue.

SOA works best, I think, when it focuses on the ensemble, and so far s2 has not disappointed. Opie (Ryan Hurst) is a maniac on a death wish ever since his wife was accidentally gunned down in a botched assassination attempt due to FBI interference (s1’s best storyline by a mile), and what was a side character at the beginning of s1 has become one of the show’s most dangerous bits of energy. Taylor Sheridan’s Deputy Hale is finally coming into his own as a man who realizes that he may have to follow the tradition of helping Samcro in order to keep Charming virtually crime-free, and him standing up to the separatists has him close to crossing legal lines. And this week’s focus on Tig (Kim Coates) being captured by bounty hunters due to an outstanding warrant in Oregon was deviously clever in its Wild Bunch mentality. And all this plays against the power struggle between Jax (son of Samcro’s now-dead co-founder) and his sinister stepfather Clay, which so far has not gotten stale one iota. Their scenes together are charged with massive amounts of tenseness, and in the final moments of this week’s episode, it went one step further.

SOA is a deceptively intelligent and old school yarn with modern violent flair and some of the most shocking scenes currently on my television screen. I hope people won’t judge a book by its cover, saying that this is just some macho bullshit, and really allow themselves to dig into the moral depths of this NorCal treat.

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The Wife:

What a great character-driven episode, and what a great step forward for Glee. I loved Kurt’s arc and his fabulous dance performances in this episode. Caught dancing in a leotard (which wicks the sweat from his body) to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Kurt tries to butch up for his dad by pretending he’s dating Tina and that he’s now the kicker on the football team. So, with Finn’s help, he “auditions” for the football team and manages to land the role of kicker simply by being able to deliver a Beyonce-fueled kick clear across the goal posts, something their previous kicker couldn’t do with or without the help of Beyonce.

But Kurt butching up for his dad isn’t the only thing hinged on McKinley High football. Quinn tells Finn that she’s pregnant (you know, from that time he came in the hot tub because he couldn’t think of hitting the mailman with his car fast enough), and that she’ll be keeping the baby. Finn, wanting to be a good guy and not just another “Lima Loser” like other teenage fathers he’s met, knows that if he wants to be able to support Quinn and their child, he’s got to get a football scholarship and go to college. The only problem is that the football team sucks. Hardcore.

Yeah . . . about that time we didn't have sex in the hot tub . . .

Yeah . . . about that time we didn't have sex in the hot tub . . .

Kurt suggests that the players loosen up by learning to dance, just as the Chicago Bears did with the Super Bowl Shuffle. I can tell you honestly that this isn’t just a myth, but that many professional athletes take dance lessons to improve their agility. Giants’s pitcher (and former Oakland A) Barry Zito used to regularly perform in the Nutcracker, and we’ve all seen how well athletes do on Dancing with the Stars. So, knowing that the football team’s reputation is on the line, Coach Ken Tenaka hands the team over to Kurt, who teaches them the “Single Ladies” routine.

But despite Finn’s heartfelt confession of his situation to Mr. Shuester and the goodness in his heart that inspires him to do right by Quinn, we all know its not possible for him to have fathered Quinn’s child, considering she’s the president of the celibacy club and they’ve never had sex. And Puck, our resident rakish, MILF-loving, pool cleaning lothario, knows that he is the only person Quinn has had sex with. Wanting her to admit what they’ve done, he spends the rest of the episode torturing her and Finn with his knowledge of the pregnancy. And Terri, learning of Quinn’s plight from her husband, sees a golden opportunity in it and sets in motion what will most likely become her plan to covertly adopt Quinn’s baby.

So with all this hanging in the air, McKinley High sets out to play football. At first, they get their asses handed to them, but with merely a second left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Finn takes a pregnant pause and calls a time out. He convinces his teammates that the only way they could possibly win now (and they so desperately need to — so they’ll have a chance at the championship, so they can get scholarships, so they can get respect) is to pull out their secret weapon play: Put a Ring on It. Rather than pass the ball immediately at the whistle, the whole team breaks out into the “Single Ladies” routine and confuses the hell out of the opposition. From there, they’re able to score a touchdown, which means that Kurt gets to be the hero of the game by scoring the winning extra point kick.

And all, it seems, is saved by the power of dance and the goodness of a little gay boy’s heart. I have to admit that I totally had tears in my eyes during Kurt’s final scene with his father in which he comes out to the man who has known all along, as all Kurt wanted for his third birthday was a pair of sensible heels. This scene, and Finn breaking down on Will’s shoulder totally got me.

Meanwhile, outside of the great parts of this episode described above, Sue has landed her own opinion segment on the local news and is speaking up for everything she believes in: caning, litter and so on. When the news station threatens to cancel her segment if the Cheerios continue to defect to the Glee Club, she reinvigorates her sabotage plans by blackmailing Principal Figgins (with his hilarious video from the time he was a steward for Mumbai Airways) to get Sandy back on campus as the school’s Arts Administrator. And Sandy’s first move as admin? Create a musical audition that will steal Rachel Barry away from Glee. Already jealous that Will wants to give Tina the West Side Story solo, Rachel readily takes the bait and when she sees that Will hasn’t changed his mind, she quits Glee Club for good.

It is a little disappointing how readily Rachel played into this scheme, but despite her seeming kindness and tendencies to be dumped upon by everyone, its also easy to see why she would be drawn to a place that wants her to have the star she so believes she deserves. A great arc for Rachel over the course of this season would be for her to realize that, sometimes, wanting what’s best for herself is a completely selfish act and that she should try to change those tendencies. Already, Will, Finn, Kurt and Quinn have grown and changed so much over four episodes, but Rachel, arguably the second lead, hasn’t.

I do think this was a wonderful episode, but I wish that the musical numbers had been better placed. Anything involving “Single Ladies” was great, but Rachel’s audition for Cabaret was not well-chosen or necessary, even if it was a “naturalistic” use of music. I was glad to hear Tina solo, but rather than the Rachel number, I felt like this episode needed to give Quinn or Finn a song to express what they’re going through. There certainly were moments where music could have worked, especially as Quinn ducks away to her car, in tears. I suspect she might have started singing along to a CD as she drove off, had Terri not been there to ambush her. Maybe the point was to break the expectations of the musical and not sing where we could all feel there should be singing? Or maybe, if Finn were to have a song, Ryan Murphy simply couldn’t get the rights to use Ben Folds’ “Brick?”

Stray thoughts and quotes:

  • “Is the baby black?” — Kendra, in horror, to her sister Terri before Terri reveals she’s not actually pregnant. What a great nod to Nip/Tuck, where Jessalyn Gilsig’s character actually did give birth to a black baby after spending the entire season making Julian McMahon’s Christian Troy believe it was his.
  • Dear sweet God, I absolutely need Emma’s baby blue sweater with the leaf detailing on the collar. This show is sweater heaven!
  • “To all those naysayers who say you can’t strike children on their bare buttocks with razor sharp bamboo sticks, I say, “Yes, we CANE.” — Sue
  • “My body is like a warm chocolate soufflé — if it isn’t warmed up properly, it doesn’t rise.” — Kurt, inadvertently also talking about his penis.
  • “Not everyone has the walnuts to take a pro-littering stance, but I won’t rest until every inch of this state is covered in garbage.” — Sue
  • Anti-embolism stockings are hilarious.
  • “If I was out to get you, I’d have you pickling in a Mason jar on my shelf by now.” — Sue
  • I’m sorry, Kurt, but as good as you look in that leotard and sparkly vest, you will never look as good as Joe Jonas, who has thighs so delicious I want to eat them. (Don’t worry about the dancing. Just stare at his thighs.)

The Husband:

Fun fact that I learned in an interview with Chris Colfer, the actor who plays Kurt: the coming-out scene was very much based on the similar conversation Chris had with his own father when he was younger. He didn’t get into specifics, but I have a feeling that pretty much everything Mike O’Malley said, aside from the “sensible heels” line, was close to verbatim. It was sweet without going too schmaltzy, but it also didn’t let some of his father’s prejudices off the hook. This is clearly a major point in Chris’ life having grown up in a very conservative town just outside of Fresno, California, and I’m glad he could share that with us.

The Wife:

It’s very difficult to write about the final episode of Pushing Daisies, as we were all told by our humble narrator not to treat it as an ending, but as a beginning. It’s unfortunate that ABC’s axe deprived us of a fully-told story, leaving Ned’s father and Zombie Charles Charles roaming about somewhere in the town of Couer d’Couers in Papen County (or possibly in America or Europe) without any explanation or raison d’etre. But those are stories, I’m sure, will be told in the much-talked-about comic book, whenever it debuts. I think Daisies can go on to live a good life in comic/graphic novel form, and now has myriad cheaper ways to engineer its signature quirk in full-color panels. Buffy and Angel have gone on to live long, fulfilling lives in this format, and I hope Daisies does, too. So with that promise of new beginnings and format changes, I can’t talk about the series finale as though it is, in fact, a finale. It didn’t try to be one because it knew it wasn’t one. I will, however, pretend it was a season finale, in which case I have to say that it adequately tied up another long-standing storyline, as last week’s “Water & Power” did for Emerson Cod. And that’s basically what we expect a season finale to do: to tie up some things, while leaving others to be dealt with at a later date. So while we may not know why Ned’s father returned or where Charles Charles is, we do know that Emerson is reunited with his Lil’ Gumshoe and that Chuck finally faces her aunts as an alive-again dead girl.

The Children of St. Clare wish all the best for the cast and crew of Pushing Daisies. We loved you guys, and we hope you all get to do some great, inspired work in the future!

The Children of St. Clare wish all the best for the cast and crew of Pushing Daisies. We loved you guys, and we hope you all get to do some great, inspired work in the future!

It was great to see an episode that focused primarily on the Aunts – and especially on the antiquated ridiculata that is professional synchronized swimming. I love both Ellen Green and Swoosie Kurtz, but I could tell that, as a season finale, this plot was meant to bring both of their character’s closure and allow them to exist in a world outside of Couer d’Couers. Taking them out of the main cast would allow for some new characters to enter into the Daisies universe, with Lily and Vivian returning as guest spots. I’d miss them dearly, but a change in the main cast would have undoubtedly been healthy growth for the show. So here the aunts decide to honor the half birthday of their dead niece/daughter by attending the Aquacade, the very aquatic circus in which they once performed before they retired from synchronized swimming and the world at large. Ned, for some reason, decides it would be a good idea to give Chuck a great half-birthday gift by also taking her to the very same show (and Emerson and Olive – but not their respective significant others, both of whom are ill for the purposes of this episode, and so Olive could say the phrase, “Out with the gout,” which is funny to anyone who doesn’t have gout). Naturally, there are some silly avoidance tactics in place so that dead-Chuck is not seen by the aunts who do not know she’s alive again; chief among these non-sighting sight gags include the gang hiding behind various balloons shaped like aquatic denizens. I was particularly fond of Emerson’s crab balloon and his insistence on talking through its many legs.

The Aquacade itself might be the quirkiest, weirdest thing this show has ever shown us. It includes an announcer (Joey Slotnick, forever known to me as Merril Bobolit, dog-hair transplanter and inventer of Bobotox on Nip/Tuck) riding in Neptune’s chariot with a triton-shaped microphone (which I need, by the way . . . my half-birthday’s next month!), a shark-cowboying act featuring Mad TV‘s Michael McDonald as Bubba the Shark’s wrangler, a very homosexual Wilson Cruz as Sid Tango the Aquadancer and skinny bitches Nora Dunn and Wendy Malick as the Darling Mermaid Darlings’ biggest synch-swim rivals, the Aquadolls. Oh, yeah, and Dr. Swingtown from Private Practice/Swingtown (Josh Hopkins) plays their himbo manager/Blanche’s husband/Coral’s lover. But amid all that finery, something awful happens: somehow, Bubba the Shark escapes his tank and finds his way into the pool where the Aquadolls are performing one of their many star-spangled routines, where he proceeds to gobble up Nora Dunn’s Blanche mid-backwards summersault. Because someone rubbed lard in her hair gel. Awesome. Gross. Hilarious.

With the Aquadolls officially defunct, Jimmy Neptune’s traveling Aquacade clearly needs a new headliner, so he invites the Darling Mermaid Darlings to come out of retirement and get back into the pool. Seriously, Jimmy Neptune had the best aquatic puns ever in his pitch to Lily and Vivian: “I wanted from the water wings.” “The audience soaked it up.” I imagine the writer’s room bursting into giggles while working on this episode. “These are so bad!” someone would exclaim. “But they’re also so good!” someone else would say. Daisies writers, I hope someone gives you guys jobs, because you people were awesome. My praise of the writers and their terribly awesome puns aside, Chuck sees the Aunts’ decision to return to the biz they call show as an opportunity for the rest of the gang to infiltrate the Aquacade and find out who murdered Blanche. Emerson poses as the Aunts’ coach, with Olive running hair and makeup and Ned, in a totally gorgeous 1960’s-style suit and a pair of sunglasses that made Lee Pace look the fucking hottest he has ever looked on this show EVER, as their manager. (If I take nothing else from this episode, I take away the shot of the first time Ned turns around in that suit and how it made my heart skip a beat. And I am very much not exaggerating here.)

As they investigate, they find a variety of incriminating things attached to Sid Tango: he’s taken over Blanche’s dressing room, where her lard-laced hair-gel is kept, and, apparently, keeps a remote trigger to open the shark cage on his very phallic belt. But Sid is innocent, and suggests that Olive and Emerson turn their investigation toward Blanche’s sister, Coral. In addition to being bitter rivals, you see, the Aquadolls and the Darling Mermaid Darlings had more in common than their mutual interest in synchronized swimming. Like Lily, it seems that Coral was also guilty of sleeping with her sister’s lover. Coral assures everyone that while she may have been sleeping with Himbo Dr. Swingtown, she would have never killed her sister. Vivian, having been born with a hole in her heart, takes pity on Coral and invites her to swim in the Darling Mermaid Darlings’ act. But being around Coral makes Lily feel all the more guilty for what she’s done to her own sister, and the two adulteresses share some harsh words. Coral knows Lily’s secret, and threatens to expose it to Vivian unless she gets to stay in the act, but Olive quickly thwarts her plan by revealing to Lily and Vivian that Coral had another costume under her senorita garb and had planned to steal the show from her fresh-out-of-retirement rivals.

Meanwhile, Ned negotiates the Aunt’s contract and finds out that Jimmy Neptune wants to take the Aquacade on a European tour, which Lily and Vivian both agree to. Chuck, however, is not pleased with this information. She feels like being near her aunts, even though she can’t actually visit them, gives her some purpose to being alive again, like she’s meant to be their earthly guardian angel, slipping homeopathic curatives in the scads of free pies they never seem to question receiving. She tells Ned that she isn’t sure she could be happy with her aunts on the road, and that she might have to uproot and go with them somehow. Clearly, this would make Ned very, very sad. Before the big show, Emerson catches Chuck, disguised as a handyman, trying to sabotage the Darling Mermaid Darlings performance with an unauthorized music change, and catches Ned waiting in the shadows to sabotage her sabotage. Despite their confusion, from their vantage point in the control booth, they can all see that a more pressing situation is about to take place in the pool below when a giant lobster man karate chops Jimmy Neptune and steals the triton mike. With the lobster-head removed, Himbo Dr. Swingtown announces his intent behind Blanche’s murder and the imminent electrocution of the Darling Mermaid Darlings: everything he did was to give his lover, Coral, her own show. Fortunately, the underwater speakers drown out anything he has to say so that the Aunts never know of his plot to kill them and Chuck and Ned manage to capture both the Himbo and the microphone before any harm can befall Lily and Vivian.

Nonetheless, harm is about to befall them, as Lily wakes one day to find that Coral has dropped by her house and informed Vivian of everything. But just as Lily is about to kick her sister out of the house, Chuck and Ned arrive to announce the thing that would free and resolve the sisters: their daughter/niece is alive. And for Chuck to have them know that allows her to stay with Ned while they go out into the world on tour, just knowing she’s still around to take care of them. As for the others, Emerson’s Lil’ Gumshoe finds her way to him, and, randomly, Olive and Randy decide to open up a mac and cheese joint called The Intrepid Cow. I would say that these endings felt hurried, by, at least as far as Emerson and Penny and Chuck and her aunts are concerned, the swiftness of these resolutions carries with it some of the magic with which Daisies has always been imbued.

However, the moment I caught sight of Oscar Verbinius as the camera swept through the sewers and took us around the world as narrator Jim Dale assured us that endings should always be thought of as beginnings, I couldn’t help but wish he’d had something to do with the revelation that Chuck is alive-again. His arc in season one was truly incredible, and while I’m happy to see him again, I wish he’d figured into Chuck’s reveal to her aunts in a bigger way. Perhaps he’ll turn up at a later date – for even though the Aunts know she’s alive-again, there are still others who do not. Or perhaps he could be useful in sniffing out the location of Zombie Charles Charles. I guess I’ll take comfort in the fact that he’s still there, in the sewers, lurking. Just as I’ll take comfort in the fact that the beating heart of Coeur d’Coeurs will continue, panel to panel on the page.

On a final costuming note, I think the most fabulous thing in this episode, other than Ned’s suit, was Chuck’s orange-and-brown blossom skirt. I’ll miss the fabulous costumes on this show most of all – that just won’t be the same in the comic book.

The Husband:

I can’t talk long, because my bosses are hovering over me here at my work, but rushed or not, I absolutely loved the final 90 seconds of this episode, which swept through Couer d’Coeurs and flew by at least a dozen locations previously seen on this show, from the convent to French Davis’ bee empire to the graveyard where Stephen Root met his maker to the sewers, finally finishing on Digby in the field that opened the series, and am glad that the effects house was able to deliver it even after the show’s cancellation, thanks to some quick Bryan Fuller thinking and a great big hug of CGI charity.

Another good show dies young, because people apparently don’t want to see anything too original, too quirky or too fantastic in their everyday television viewing schedule. Let the CSIs and Law & Orders reign proud, because they’ve hypnotized their audience into watching the same damn show time and time again. Don’t blame the network. Blame the viewers. They gave up after the high-rated pilot, and that’s their fault.

Well, now I can give DC Comics some of my hard-earned money, and hope that Lee Pace finds a more welcoming home either on our television or in our movie houses.

The Wife:

I’d be lying if I said that the pilot of Ryan Murphy’s Glee was perfect. It was far from it, but so much of the show is so winning that it’s easy to overlook its few flaws and fully embrace it. It’s not a silly musical in the slightest. Ryan Murphy has always treated music with much more respect than that, even when he’s being ironic or cheeky during surgeries on Nip/Tuck. On that show, the surgery music is used to dig deeply into something as seemingly superficial as plastic surgery. Sometimes it’s funny (such as the use of Don McLean’s “Vincent” during a surgery in which Rosie O’Donnell as Dawn Budge gets a transplant ear grown on a mouse’s back . . . it’s a long story), and sometimes it’s incredibly moving (to this day, I can’t hear Leo Delibes “Flower Duet” without thinking about conjoined twins Rose and Raven Rosenburg, who died after their separation surgery and asked to be put back together when they were buried).

On Glee, the music functions as it should in any great musical: it’s intended to give us an insight into the characters, and I can think of no better example of this than Lea Michele’s (Broadway’s Spring Awakening) audition song for the new glee club, “On My Own” from Les Miserables. I hate Les Mis, but to hear Rachel Berry sing it while hearing about her backstory was the most sublime use of that song. You see, despite the fact that Rachel’s two gay dads raised her to be an overachiever and to strive to be known in the world because “being anonymous is worse than being poor,” she’s lambasted by her peers for being talented, for being different. She posts daily MySpace videos of herself singing in her bedroom, all of which receive comments from her peers basically suggesting she should kill herself (cyberbullying that would probably destroy someone with less self-confidence). She also often has things thrown at her, because for as much of a type-A personality as she is, Rachel is, in fact, on her own. She might be a little cocky and a little dogged in her quest to be special, as evidenced by her claim that the former glee club director molested the boy he gave Rachel’s solo to, but there is something in her that deserves to be recognized for who she is. And there is a tremendous sadness in the fact that no one sees her specialness but her . . . and her two gay dads.

Glee: what this show will be filling me with Wednesday nights at 9 in the fall.

Glee: what this show will be filling me with Wednesday nights at 9 in the fall.

So with the former glee club director out of the picture and the club in danger of being shut down, Matthew Morrison’s Spanish teacher Will Shuster decides he should take over. After all, Will sees that these kids need a place where they won’t be bullied, and where they can cultivate their talent. But as usual, the activities in which the popular kids reign get more funding, especially The Cheerios, the cheer team coached by Jane Lynch, which receives the bulk of the school’s budget because they keep winning national competitions and bringing the school a lot of press, which ultimately means more funding. So Will is allowed to operate glee club, recently renamed New Directions (which is weird for me, because that’s the name of a counseling center that a friend I know from high school theatre works for), on a $60 budget, which struck me as incredibly realistic given the dire nature of arts education in America, by which I mean, the lack thereof. But even that $60 budget eventually gets cut and Will is asked to run New Directions with his own $60, something that is, for him, very difficult because he lives off his teaching salary and his wife’s 12-hours-a-week job at Sheets and Stuff.

We meet a lot of characters over the course of this hour-long pilot, but even though there are some of the glee kids we don’t know all that well, I’d say that Jessalyn Gilsig’s Terri is the least well-drawn. Terri is obsessed with an idea of womanhood that allows her to contribute little to her marriage and spend all of her time crafting and decorating. She’s largely just a stand-in for the thing that’s holding Will back from what he really wants from life. But that said, I think Jessalyn Gilsig, as always, turns in a brilliant performance of very little material. I mean, this is a woman who nearly suffocated her own daughter in a cargo hold (on Heroes) and, more importantly, a woman who got fucked off a building (on Nip/Tuck). I am certainly not used to her playing someone demure, and she creates a sort of quiet insanity in Terri that makes her seem both utterly unreal and yet absolutely the kind of woman who thinks her life should be what she sees in magazines. She is deeply shallow, and I think there’s something exceptional about placing a character like that amongst so many other deeply real people. She’s a wonderful contrast.

[Husband Note: Gilsig also did wonders with the quite poorly written role of teacher Lauren “The Nun” Davis on Boston Public, as well an incredible job as the oblivious sister-in-law-party-girl-way-past-her-prime on Friday Night Lights. She’s not the best actor, but she’s a serviceable television performer, and that’s good enough for me.]

Because Terri won’t give Will an extra $60 a month to run glee club (as she’d rather spend it on trinkets from Pottery Barn and crafts), he tries to drum up more membership around the school, taking guidance counselor Emma’s (the lovely and talented Jayma Mays) advice to recruit a few popular kids into glee club, and the rest will follow. He tries to get a few Cheerios in the club, but Jane Lynch’s Sue refuses to give up her girls, setting up a rivalry between the glee kids and the cheerleaders that I’m sure will continue throughout the series. But then, by a stroke of luck, he catches football star Finn singing in the shower, and blackmails him into joining glee club by “planting” some weed from the Chronic Lady (the former glee club director’s new profession: dealing weed) in his locker and telling him that he can spend six weeks in detention (which Will is now running, unpaid, due to budget cuts) which will go on his permanent record, or he can join glee. There was a moment in this scene that I truly loved because it was very representative of how Glee likes to play with cliches from high school movies. Will tells Finn that if he chooses detention, it’ll stay on his permanent record and they’ll take away his football scholarship. Finn asks, incredulously, “I got a football scholarship? To where?” And because that’s just something Will said because he heard it in a movie, he continues on, “You could go places, son.”

With Finn in the club, Will takes New Directions to see the current national show choir champions, and Emma decides to chaperone, as Terri has already turned Will down for some crafting-related outing. Emma, who clearly likes Will, is something of a germaphobe, a trait Jayma Mays does not play up for comic effect, but rather allows into the open with a kind of reserved sadness. In addition to cleaning surfaces in the teacher’s lounge with disposable gloves before she eats off of them, she brings her own food, even to public events, ands he and Will have a conversation about the state of his marriage to Terri over a peanut butter sandwich prior to the choir concert. Over that sandwich, which he says he never gets to eat because Terri is allergic to nuts, he confesses that he’s not entirely happy with his marriage. There’s just something about his relationship with Terri that isn’t working, but he rationalizes that it’s okay because he does love her, and he does want to have children with her, even if they aren’t totally happy. If you want to know why they’re not happy, look at the scene in which Terri makes Will do a puzzle with her in her craft room while she tells him it’s important for him to have a creative outlet, while in the same breath telling him that she doesn’t want him to run glee club because they don’t make enough money with him teaching. She’d rather he be an accountant, the epitome of jobs that lack creativity.

The rival choir puts on a ridiculous performance of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” which is stunningly choreographed and sounds great, but is obviously wildly inappropriate for a high school choir to sing and is incredibly funny if you absolutely don’t ever take your mind off of the lyrics. You just can’t do choreographed lifts when you’re singing a line like, “I’m gonna lose my baby / so I always keep a bottle near me.” (On the other hand, though, I think you absolutely can sing “I Kissed a Girl” for a glee club audition, because that’s just funny.) Clearly, a performance of that caliber is intimidating, but that’s not all of the problems facing New Directions. Finn’s teammates find out that he’s been lying to them about where he had to go when he missed practice. They are not pleased that he pretended his mom was having prostate surgery, and pelt him with paintballs. (“Chicks don’t have prostates. I looked it up.”) Finn eventually stands up to his football teammates when he finds that they’ve locked the wheelchair kid in a port-a-potty, telling them that, like Troy Bolton in High School Musical, he’s not going to choose between being a jock and being a singer. He’s going to do both. “Because you can’t win without me, and neither can they,” he snarls.

And when Terri announces that she’s pregnant, Will quits, following his wife’s suggestion to apply for a job at an accounting firm, leaving his newly formed club without a mentor. Emma tries to talk some sense into him, setting him up with a guidance appointment with her when she catches him filling out an accounting application at H.L. Mencken (oddly, named after a writer and literary critic for the Baltimore Sun who had some interesting ideas on elitism within social classes, rather than a traditional class or race-based social hierarchy . . . I must miss Lost a lot if I’m looking for these kind of references on other shows). Emma shows Will a video of the year the school’s glee club won nationals. It was 1993, and Will was in that choir. And he was happy. She asks him if providing money for his wife and child is really the same thing as providing them happiness, but being a man of his word, he heads off, presumably never to return.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Finn have taken over New Directions and have recruited the jazz band to help them stage their first performance, with Mercedes doing costumes, Rachel choreographing and Finn doing vocal arrangements. As Will heads down the eternal hallway, he hears them singing strains of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” another instance of perfect music choice. Not only does it serve as a ballad for these kids who just want to believe they’re good at something, but for soloists Finn and Rachel, those opening lines serve as portraits of themselves. Never before have I been teary-eyed hearing someone sing, “Just a small town girl / Living in a lonely world” or the phrase “S/he took the midnight train goin’ anywhere” until last night. They took that song, and made it transcendent – enough to make me believe in the beauty, sadness, humor and joy of this little show and enough to convince Will not to leave, but to remain with New Directions.

This is a show about lonely, sad people, trying to find something that actually makes them happy, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t made happy by music. So even for those of you who don’t really like or get musicals, know that Glee is simply about people trying to find happiness, and that happiness is achieved through music. I also take that last song as something of a plea to those of us who watched Glee and everyone at FOX, executives who clearly believe in taking a risk like this enough to promote it now and schedule it for Wednesdays at 9 p.m. throughout next season, picking up on SYTYCD results shows and Idol results shows as a built-in audience. FOX wants us to believe in Glee, and I do. Your Journey-infused plea has not fallen on deaf ears, Ryan Murphy.

I believe, I believe, I believe. Oh, I believe.

Some other notes:

  • “I’m Beyonce! I aint’s no Kelly Rowland.” – Really, Mercedes? Because you seemed so happy to be asked to do costumes later in the episode. Are you sure you don’t want to host The Fashion Show on Bravo?
  • For as much of a monster as I think Jessalyn Gilsig’s Terri is, she’s really funny. Two winners from her: “If my diabetes comes back I can’t get pregnant” and “Don’t go in the Christmas Closet!”
  • I’m told the first episode aired in the fall will be a re-edited pilot. My first edit: eliminating the references to MySpace and replacing it with something more culturally relevant. Like the word, “Facebook.” Or maybe even “YouTube” in some cases.
  • Spring Awakening fans, that last line was for you.


The Husband:

I honestly thought we were going to wait to review this show until the fall, but as it stands, here it is.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to find many parallels, mostly in tone and narration, between Glee and Alexander Payne’s biting 1999 high school satire Election. Not only do we get some wonderfully insightful yet overly self-centered internal monologues from our main characters at only the most opportune times, and also revel in both the show’s insistence on clichés and its subversion of them, but Cory Montheith, the actor who plays Finn, bears a striking resemblance to a young Chris Klein. (You know, before Chris Klein started sucking.)

This is quite a show, just from the pilot, what with its heightened emotions, its parody of high school affectations, its very focused jokes and, of course, the usage of Journey. True, there were some considerable lulls, and I thought the Finn transformation happened way too early, but there is definitely something special about this show. A dramedy of the highest order, I hope it helps brings even more respect to the musical form.

And on that, some might argue this isn’t a musical. Yes it is. It’s just not a “traditional musical.” People don’t have to break out into song, but simply have the music define much of the piece itself. And Ryan Murphy, as my wife pointed out, is very specific about his song choices, so “Don’t Stop Believin’” as sung by Finn and Rachel, knowing what we know about them, defines who they are, amplifies their backstory, and fits perfectly into this world. Sounds like a musical to me. Definitely as much of a musical as Cabaret.

The Husband:

Now it seems that we have four shows to write about on Fox Sunday night, and all of them are funny, respectable and worthy of discussion. But I don’t want to overload you or this site with a bunch of black text (what? Me overwrite? Never!) and am sure you’d probably want me to get into the meat of it. But in case you’re wondering up front, I thought Sit Down, Shut Up was extremely funny, so much so that I even rewatched it yesterday on Hulu.

But now, let’s jump right into it.

King Of The Hill 13.14 “Born Again on the Fourth of July”

The Fourth of July celebrations in Arlen, Texas are fast approaching, and Hank and his buddies are in it to win it. Meaning, it’s finally time they showed up the a-holes a few blocks down (a group known for their ridiculously opulent fireworks thanks to their leader being a firefighter) with their own celebration of this country’s birth. Not everyone thinks they can stack up.

“You rednecks are as useless as a bucket of armpits!” – Kahn

But Hank is distracted. Why? Because Bobby has become so lazy, he can’t even muster up the energy to find his dress pants and go to church, choosing instead to take money out of Peggy’s wallet and order a pizza. This simply will not do, and despite some reservations, Hank allows Lucky to bring the misguided young boy to his own particular church.

“A church is a church no matter how much lucky makes it sound like a restaurant.” – Hank

Bobby’s mind is quite spongelike, though, and so he immediately takes to the overwrought spirituality of Lucky’s church, one that takes biblical implications and misreads them without considering the subtleties and changes to be made in our modern society. Bobby especially takes it upon himself to destroy all false idols, including the gigantic papier-mâché Uncle Sam that Hank and his buddies were to use for Independence Day.

As the show draws to a close – ABC hasn’t made any further advancement in buying up the show for next year, so this may be it – KOTH is easily reminding us what is so great, funny and loveable about this show. It’s about real characters with real problems, and while the rest of the Fox Sunday night lineup may be often funnier, its absurdity sometimes distances its viewers emotionally. KOTH has never suffered from that problem, even if its portrayal of conservative Texan life couldn’t be further from my own living experiences. Has anybody come up with a save-our-show campaign for this, even if it’s been on for over a decade?

“If he can see through fire, he can probably see through dark.” – Dale

The Simpsons 20.17 “The Good, The Sad and the Drugly”

When Milhouse takes the blame for a school prank he and Bart concocted (“Take him to the big house…where he lives.”), Bart considers becoming a better person when he falls in love with Jenny (voice of Anne Hathaway), a beautiful and goody-good fifth grader. But by the end, Milhouse finally learns to stand up for himself and Bart finds that he can’t be a good person without lying to those around him.

Meanwhile, Lisa is assigned a project to report on what the world will be like in 50 years, but when she plugs in a few numbers and hypotheticals, she learns that there may not be a world only five decades away. After reporting on her findings, the school decides to put her on a new medication, Ignorital. If you saw our last post on 90210, you’d know that I’m not entirely happy with this general pop culture consensus that taking behavioral medication is completely bad, but at least this episode made it much funnier and took on, specifically, the zombification that is assumed to come with taking something akin to Ritalin. While on Ignorital, everything Lisa sees turns into a smiley face, including blood and puke, and these images alone make up for the show’s own ignorance about behavioral psychiatry.

Other funny stuff from the episode:

  • Where the “Y” was (on Willie’s head)
  • “In 15 years, the vacuum will be quiet and not scary.” – Ralph
  • The fact that Ned is incapable of making devil’s food cake
  • “You can’t bleed through your nose when you have a broken heart.” – Milhouse
  • Lenny’s oddly specific speech to his dead grandma’s grave

Sit Down, Shut Up 1.1 “Pilot”

This show has about an equal amount of fans and detractors, so I was surprised to see how subversive and funny this project actually was. (It’s from Mitch Hurwitz, though, so I should have just expected it to be this way.) Intelligent, off-the-wall, bizarre and pretty damn hilarious, this is a bold slice of non sequitur humor that will no doubt confuse many but delight others.

A satire on high school comedies, as well as prime-time cartoons, this remake of an Australian show follows the exploits of several teachers and administrators at Knob Haven High School in Florida. (Even the name Knob Haven makes me giggle.) In the first episode, we learn that Larry Littlejunk (Jason Bateman) is hopelessly in love with the vapid flower child/Christian Miracle Grohe (Kristin Chenoweth), that the Knob Haven High football team is in dire need of a win (especially since, as the characters point out, it’s the pilot), Assistant Principal Stuart Proszakian (Will Forte) is given steroids that actually turn out to be librarian Helen’s female hormone treatment, Acting Principal Sue Sezno (Keenan Thompson) has to fire someone to support the new budget, etc. etc. etc.

Look at those things swing!

Look at those things swing!

The two characters that stand out so far is Ass Principal Stuart (not only because I think Will Forte is hilarious, but simply find his character’s design to be so goofily interesting) and Miracle (Chenoweth, a devout Christian, gets major props for being in on the joke that Fundamental Christianity doesn’t always mix with the public school system). Besides, they’re the two characters who get to say “You man!” in as many funny ways as they can. Happy (Spongebob himself, Tom Kenny), the school custodian, is also nonsensical enough to make me laugh for no real reason.

The fourth-wall breaking didn’t bother me in the slightest, and I was happy at how adult many of the jokes were, showing that there is indeed room for more “mature” humor on network TV. (Suck on it, PTC. Your concept of squeaky-clean television is more offensive to me than any problem you have with Family Guy or Nip/Tuck.) Keep it coming, Hurwitz clan.

Some good lines:

  • “Happy sad!” — Ennis Hofftard
  • “Do you have to dance to my kegel tape?!” – Helen Klench
  • “Why didn’t I sign up for the Internet when I had the chance?!” — Willard Deutschebog
  • “Can’t fire anybody who keeps kids from porno.” — Sezno

Family Guy 7.12 “Episode 420”

A rare mix from post-revival Family Guy, this yes-on-marijuana-legalization episode was both provocative and funny, and even if it’s definitely NOT humorous to nonchalantly stab a cat several times for no good reason, the rest of the ep more than made up for that instance of NOOOOOOOO!

After Peter accidentally kills Quagmire’s new cat, James, Peter gets pulled over, but even though he’s covered in blood, he is let go. Unfortunately, the cops find a baggie on Brian’s person and send him to jail.

“So, Brian, did you do any hard time, or hardly working? … Penis.” – Peter

When he gets out, Brian decides to change Quahog and puts through a petition to legalize marijuana. No matter where you stand on its legalization, certain facts cannot be denied, many of which Brian mentions. (The falsity behind why the herb became illegal in the first place, the propaganda about its untrue dangers, those animated anti-drug ads with the dog are really stupid, etc.) Culminating in FG‘s second musical sequence based on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (following “I Have James Woods”), the town learns that “Everything is Better with a Bag of Weed.”

Truly, everything is better with a bag of weed.

Truly, everything is better with a bag of weed.

But when Carter’s business starts to be affected, he makes Brian a deal he can’t refuse — if he chooses instead to speak out against legal bud, then Carter will publish Brian’s novel. Brian accepts, but then is devastated to learn that his book does not sell one copy.

I think that the closer people get to the hemp/marijuana culture, the more they understand that its dangers pale in comparison to alcohol and tobacco, and that if treated with moderation, there really isn’t anything to worry about. But if that’s not your bag (in the figurative sense), then fine. Live and let live.

Funny bits from the episode:

  • Quagmire showing his kitty the Mary Tyler Moore company logo (a mewing kitten), which I have definitely done with my cats
  • Busting on both Baby Mama and Rocketeer, even though I thought the former was funny and the latter is one of the most awesome movies of the 90s.
  • “No! Those are my Diet Rites!” – Carter
  • Peter’s monologue regarding both Harold & Kumar GotTo White Castle and How I Met Your Mother.

American Dad 4.16 “Delorean Story-An”

Stan and Steve don’t seem to be bonding as much as they probably should, so Stan finally sucks it up and takes Steve on a quest to find the final part of the Delorean Stan has been rebuilding for years now — the passenger door. Going on a cross-country quest, they band together in order to beat another Delorean completist going for the same door.

Not a whole lot to write about, no, but it was a very touching and very funny episode, one of those American Dads I’ve been waiting for this season to show the haters that not only is this show remarkably funny, it also has a great big heart.

(And, of course, it can be extremely bizarre, demonstrated this week by the B-story in which Francine, Klaus, Roger and Hayley try way too hard to have an adventure of their own, leading to my favorite line of the night: “Your gibberish got me punched in the boob.” – Francine)

Other good lines from American Dad:

  • “Bet he’s having an affair with one of those self-storage whores.” – Roger
  • “Is that a story? No. It’s an addiction.” – Roger
  • The gas station called Gas of the Mohicans
  • “I like Criss Angel. He freaks my mind!” – Roger
  • Steve: You don’t know how to blow a bubble?
    Stan: Well you don’t know how to make love to a woman!

The Wife:

For a season finale of Nip/Tuck, this one was pretty tame, although it did pack a couple of interesting punches, the first of which is the out-of-nowhere revelation that Teddy is always late for stuff because she’s been leading a double life as Dixie, a Southern-fried anesthesiologist at a practice in Las Vegas, who successfully seduced her boss, got her to marry him, and then killed him by suffocating him while he sucked down some of that anesthetizing ether she’s so fond of convincing her romantic partners to take hits of during sex. This only spells bad things for Sean in the future, as he finally gave in at the end of the episode and took a fateful hit of the gas, alone in his practice after Christian’s nuptials.

I didn’t think Katee Sackhoff was signed on for more than just this season, but I guess she’ll have to return, because these ladies-want-Sean-dead storylines are pretty fucked up. There’s definitely been a change in Sean since they moved to L.A. In Miami, he was a broken man, tied to fucked up kids and a broken marriage to a woman he constantly smothered, but in L.A., there’s just been a string of women who cling to him, tell him they need him, and who convince him to do really bad things. He’s been with Eden, that actress with the eating disorder who shat herself in a hot tub and desperately wanted to be married, then there was stalker-agent Colleen Rose (who put him in a wheelchair), his student who literally infantilized him and now Teddy, who I am sure wants him dead as much as Colleen did. For such an upstanding doctor, Sean’s desperate need to be loved and needed sure gets him in a lot of trouble.

As for Christian, the patients of the week, two practicing vampires who nearly died drinking one another’s blood, vow to give up blood, even though they feel it gives them restorative powers and can prolong their lives, all of which gets Christian thinking about his limited time on this earth. Legend, the male of the pair, happens to be a vampire over on True Blood, so that was some interesting type-casting to see. After trying on Giselle’s discarded pop-on fangs, Christian finds a way to preserve his life: cryogenics. Once he grows near death, he asks Liz and Sean to call the cryo lab and have the technicians pick him up and freeze him, to be unthawed 20 years in the future when science has been able to cure him and he can reunite with his now-grown and very hot son Wilbur. (Seriously, adult cryogenic fantasy Wilbur was super hawtt.) Sean, Liz and Matt just laugh this off, which the ever-practical Sean asking Christian if he knows what 20 years in liquid nitrogen will do to his skin. (I imagine its similar to 20 years of tanning.) Regardless, Sean agrees to go with Christian to check out the cryo lab, where he discovers that his vision of eternal life isn’t quite what he’d thought, as he’ll have to share his pod with his “eternity roommate,” an old Jewish man, because the cryo lab is booked to capacity.

“Any time you spend on searching for immortality, you miss out on the little time you have left.” – Sean

He promises his friend that he’ll never really die anyway, because, like Horatio promises Hamlet, he will tell stories of Christian Troy until Sean himself can no longer tell stories. And so shall you hear of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts, indeed.

Meanwhile, Eden and Ram decide they don’t want Kimber in their happy threesome anymore because she’s old. Eden puts it so tactfully:

“You’re a relic and we want you out of our bed.”

As Kimber protests that just the other week her ex, Christian Troy, the famous plastic surgeon, told her she was perfect and that he wouldn’t change a hair on her bleached blond coif, Ram tells her that there’s a difference between looking good for your age and desperately clinging to being 22. With no meal ticket and no home, she drags Jenna over to Matt, Christian and Sean’s place and leaves here there, and Matt informs her that everything’s too busy with Christian’s wedding to have the baby around the house. Matt tries to make amends with her by asking her to move in with him in their own place, but Kimber is too distraught at the prospect of Christian marrying Liz to give a shit. Even when Matt tells her Christian’s dying, Kimber can’t fathom it. After all, Christian is supposed to be with her. He still values her. He still thinks she’s beautiful.

In full on scheming bitch mode, Kimber barges into MacNamara/Troy and tells Liz that she still loves Christian and wants to be with him. She promises Liz she’ll take care of Christian as he dies, but Liz calls her on her shit, knowing that she’s just looking for a meal ticket and a possible inheritance now that Christian’s been given six months to live and she doesn’t have a house.

Christian has a little trouble writing his vows in his office the night before his wedding, and he catches the vampires at his office, resorting once again to drinking blood. He tosses them a bag and tells them to leave, understanding how easy it is to grow addicted to the idea of immortality and the need for that fix. Then the wedding happens, and while that’s perfectly normal to toss into a season finale, I really didn’t expect the Cruz-Troy nuptials to happen so soon. Although, I probably should have, given that Christian is dying and all. Kimber shows up uninvited, waiting for her chance to object, but when the time comes, Matt screams at her to sit down, and she can’t bring herself to speak her mind, fleeing the church in tears as Christian and Liz kiss.

Again, can we all talk about how freakin' cute Wilbur is???

Again, can we all talk about how freakin' cute Wilbur is???

As the happy new family packs up to go on a group honeymoon in Italy, where Wilbur will most definitely eat spaghetti, Christian gets a call from his doctor. He at first refuses to listen, thinking that his oncologist is trying to encourage him to go through treatments rather than accepting his mortality, but the doctor proceeds to tell Christian that there was a mistake. A lab technician switched Christian’s results with another patient. His cancer is actually in remission, and he’s now free to enjoy a long, healthy life with his new bride. I can’t quite decide if the look on Christian’s face when he hears this news is immediate regret, or simple bewilderment. Maybe it’s both.

We’ll find out next season if Teddy goes on to attempt to murder Sean, and if Christian Troy becomes the asshole he is deep inside, leaving Liz heartbroken and Wilbur once again without a mommy. Man, that kid totally got me when he looks up at Liz, asking, “Can I call you mommy now?” For Wilbur’s sake, Christian, please stay with Liz! His really mommy got fucked off a building, Michelle left because she had to go steal organs – Liz cannot leave that poor boy, too!

That revelation is quite a doozy, but only because it leaves us open for the possibilities of next season. I prefer a season finale on this show to involve Magen calling me and leaving me a message like this:

“Ava’s a man. Ava. Is a man. Ava’s a man. Ava’s a man.”

Or even the amazingly weird season four finale that involved the entire cast lip synching to “The Brighter Discontent” by The Submarines. I like when this show pushes the envelope. In comparison to the other four seasons, this was the safest finale yet. I expect depth and ridiculousness from this show, and I’m happy when I get either, but I didn’t really get either in this episode. I hope for better things next season.

The Husband:

No, it wasn’t the normal Nip/Tuck ending, which are usually full of trannies, knives, men without penises or, as with s1, a bait-and-switch as gangbanger Escobar Gallardo gets stopped at the airport and arrested, as the newly constructed face Sean and Christian gave him just happened to be of somebody on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

But Nip/Tuck is approaching its final surgery – next season will be its last – and I’m glad that the show has reached a point of maturity (or what can be constituted as “maturity” for such a show as this) that it doesn’t feel the need to be all crazy cliffhanger-y anymore, but can tide us over with some character moments. This time, we have Christian faced with the new information that he’s not actually dying, and that his marriage, done specifically because he was dying, that created the new and kinder Christian Troy may not serve any purpose to his overall personality. Christian Troy has reverted to his old self before, but this newer, more mature Christian Troy may not. That’s a good enough cliffhanger for me.

I think that creator Ryan Murphy doesn’t want the program, as it goes into its final year, to simply be “that silly plastic surgery show with all the sex,” but instead really live up to its thematic ideals that makes it exist in the first place – that these doctors, who have spent their careers trying to make others perfect, can’t seem to be perfect themselves no matter how hard they try. And now that Sean is turning into Christian (i.e. a drug-taking sex maniac with no true family ties) and Christian is turning into Sean (a responsible family man, we have them approaching a crossroads, and we will finally get an answer next year as to who these men will eventually settle on being.

So no, I’m not disappointed at all by the finale. I’m actually very proud of the show. Good job.

The Wife:

Oh, Pussylips, so nice to see you again!

This time, Allegra Calderello turns up at McNamara/Troy at the behest of her husband, Manny, who is dying of prostate cancer and wants his Allegra to get some rejuvenating plastic surgery so that she can find another man to take care of her after he’s gone. I feel badly for Allegra anytime she speaks, as she’s a woman without voice and without authority over her own body. Manny is incredibly old fashioned, but layers his insults of his wife’s appearance and demeanor with something approximating genuine feeling for her. He loves her, yes, but he does it in the oddest of ways by telling her that she’s not attractive enough to survive in the world without him and that, without him, she still needs a man to survive.

Although she certainly needs a man about as much as a fish needs a bicycle, Liz moves forward with her wedding plans with Christian, even calling her mother to share the news and participate in the greatest tradition known to Cruz women: wearing grandmama’s vintage wedding gown. Only Liz doesn’t fit into grandmama’s gown because her breasts are too large. Christian tells her he can buy her a new gown, but Liz instead wants to book a reduction (you know, the one she didn’t get earlier) to honor her mom’s wishes.

Irreplacable.

Irreplacable.

Just as Manny prepares Allegra to find a replacement for him, Christian starts shopping for a replacement for the Troy half of McNamara/Troy, landing on Logan Traper, a surgeon of renown who loves Christian’s interior decorating and reminds me very much of Christian, but much creepier. Much creepier. This theme of choosing one’s earthly replacement reminds me very much of the Ana storyline over on HBO’s Big Love. When Barb’s cancer returns, she starts to think that she needs to have some say in creating the family she will be with in the celestial kingdom, and she desperately wants Ana to be part of that family as a validation of her polygamist lifestyle. Ana would be the only person in her marriage other than Bill that she actually chose, as Nicki and Margie were both forced upon her. With Manny, he continues his odd expression of love for his wife in a somewhat selfish way, dolling her up so he can help choose her next mate, like some last-ditch effort to do good by her. Christian, instead, chooses a friend and partner for Sean who is as similar to the man Christian used to be as possible, to make Sean’s transition easier.

But of course, all of these things go slightly awry. Over on Big Love, Ana stays married to the family for about a day before demanding a divorce. Manny Calderello starts parading suitors in to see his wife just hours after she enters the recovery room, pimping her out to the local butcher in their Florida retirement community. Ever shy, Allegra is horribly offended by this, as is the attending Sean. And as for Christian’s replacement, well, it turns out that he fucks furniture.

For as helpful as Logan is in helping Sean plan Christian’s bachelor party, he suffers from “object” sexuality, a feeling that he can have intimate, fulfilling relationships with objects just as well as people, which makes it extremely difficult for him to resist the siren call to fuck Christian’s vintage green couch, which is exactly what he gets caught doing, resulting in his expulsion from the practice. To wit:

“People aren’t like furniture. They’re not so easy to replace.” – Sean, followed by a scene of Logan fucking Sean’s operating table

Finally understanding how he had wronged his wife, Manny apologizes and tells Allegra that from now until the day he dies, he will only give her the best, which to him means that instead of trying to play matchmaker with the town butcher, he should give her the gift of a suitor in his late 50s who looks like a combination of Mad Men‘s Sal and Chris Noth. Clearly, this is a man more worthy of sweet little Allegra, but, like Barb Henrickson, I guess Manny just wants to make sure he has a say in what kind of man should make his wife happy, so he can continue to run her life from beyond the grave. She will never be free of this man.

As for Liz, Christian leaves her breasts a little larger than she would have liked, which makes her upset, until he buys her a brand-new wedding gown, further driving a rift between Liz and her mother that only deepens at Liz’s bridal shower with all of her lesbian friends. A gift of All-Clad pans with a lifetime guarantee causes Liz to break down, admitting to her mother and her friends that Christian has cancer and that she won’t have much time with him. Insensitively, Liz’s mom says that this makes sense to her, so Liz tells her mom off for always calling her ugly and hating her sexuality. She tosses her mother out of her house, and out of her wedding. Which is all well and good, because Liz’s mom has to keep Hurley from getting arrested. Or something.

This fight with her mother makes Liz realize that, as a married woman, she doesn’t need her hurtful mother anymore, because she’s replacing her old family with her new one, forming a beautiful and melancholy tableau as she and Christian hug Wilbur to them. Meanwhile, Sean sits alone, watching old videos of the good times he, Christian and Julia had in med school, weighted with the knowledge that soon, his best friend won’t be around anymore. As Teddy sneaks up behind him, he utters, “I feel like I’m losing everyone,” to which she promises that she won’t leave him. (Unlike the end of the last episode, I guess.)

While this episode wasn’t nearly as rich as its predecessor, I think it admirably propelled these stories forward, while still giving us some traditional Nip/Tuck oddity in Logan Traper’s couch-fucking. Still, it felt a little stagnant and a little light, which seems odd, considering it’s the penultimate episode in this season. I guess we won’t be getting an “Ava’s a man!” kind of finale this year.

The Husband:

That’s right – this episode has couch-fucking. Take that, Parents Television Council! Suck on that, you hypocritical, unconstitutional bastards! Or do you only get angry when women are objectified, and ignore male-on-couch action?

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