The Wife:

Eli Stone

Just a stones through from greatness.

Just a stone's throw from greatness.

I’ve written previously in my two (count ’em!) posts on Eli Stone this season about how I think the show lost some of its spark during the second season, but the most underwhelming parts of season two were, evidently, saved for last, to slowly peter out during this three-episode burn-off. To be honest with you, I’d forgotten a lot of this season simply because of the break between when I last watched and these remnants. Thus, nothing really stood out to me about them and they only served to reinforce my early assessments of what went wrong with the show. And keeping Maggie and Eli away from each other, while it did allow Maggie to come into her own (looking especially confident and sexy in the last episode) it lost a little bit of the spark from one of the most interesting relationships on the show, only to half-assedly rekindle it in the final episode’s desperate attempt for closure.

I actually found the whole central vision-mystery from the last episode to be extremely frustrating for two reasons, one complaint for each part of it:

1. The parents of the braindead girl who didn’t want to give up her heart to that dying woman are selfish idiots. I am not a religious or spiritual person, but I was raised Catholic and I can tell you that there are several flaws in their argument about “not wanting their daughter’s heart to burn in hell because it’s inside an atheist.” First of all, denying someone the chance to live is possibly the least Christ-like thing a so-called Christian could ever do. Second of all, Christianity believes in the soul, not the body. So if their daughter dies, she goes to God, not her body and not her organs. Certainly, if she signed up to be an organ donor, she is aware of that fact, and so are her parents who are executors to her will. This whole case was insanely stupid, and I’m glad Eli proved their idiocy by basically pointing out my first complaint that denying someone the chance to live because they have different beliefs than you do isn’t only discriminatory, but COMPLETELY ANTITHETICAL TO YOUR SUPPOSED FAITH.

2. I guess Eli was busy using all his smarts and logic on that because he seemed COMPLETELY INCAPABLE of using it to interpret the plane crash part of his vision. He knew from the beginning it was a KeyStar air flight. He made a correct step in getting employee flight records after seeing the Weathersby Stone travel bags, but for some reason never made the connection between the name of the airline and what employees might be flying on that airline. Instead, he totally wasted Jordan, Taylor and Matt’s time by asking them not to board their flights. (Now, I suppose in the world of Eli Stone, KeyStar might be the ONLY airline, but I find that highly doubtful, as that would be an air travel monopoly and, surely, some client of WPK would have already sued them and broken up said air travel monopoly long before Eli turned over a new leaf.) Then, once he got the time and date of the crash in his next vision, he didn’t take any further steps toward, say, looking up KeyStar flights departing from SFO that day and figuring out, based on listed travel times, which ones would potentially be the ones that would crash. I realize he’d still look like a crazy person/terrorist if he called the TSA and gave them a list of specific flights to check, but it would also stand to reason that he might be able to better prevent the crash if he actually took the time to narrow down the field of possibilities.

Instead, we got a little deus ex machina with Maggie’s fateful voicemail announcing her receipt of the Weathersby Stone travel bag and her intended us of it during her flight to Italy, departing that day. I suppose I should be happy that it got him there in time to drop seemingly-dead, only to have him reunite with Maggie, who just happened to demand to be let off the plane before it took off due to her own hunch, which then caused a flight delay for another safety check, allowing the airport staff to find a safety problem with the plane, preventing it from blowing up and saving the lives of all of its passengers. I should also be happy that Eli’s burst aneurism didn’t kill him, although I guess he’s still got that second one in there, waiting to destroy him.

Then there’s also that who odd and problematic talk with God/his father, in which its revealed (yet more telling instead of showing) that the atheist he fought so hard to get a heart for ended up dying during her transplant, which miraculously and conveniently ended up giving that braindead girl’s heart to none other than Eli’s soul mate, Grace. Are they still soul mates now that Eli’s still got a deadly aneurism and Grace has a new heart that will allow her to live a normal life? And how does Grace figure in to last season’s vision of Maggie with a baby that is presumably Eli’s? I know this God-snowglobe ending was meant to tie up loose ends, but I feel like it mostly made a mess of things.

Harper’s Island

The next murder Im hosting will definitely be held in my new murder basement, by the way.

The next murder I'm hosting will definitely be held in my new murder basement, by the way.

I never got the chance to write about Harper’s Island prior to this, but I did watch the limited-run series in its entirety and enjoyed the show’s commitment to campy fun good times. You see, I like murder mysteries. In fact, every year, I host a murder mystery party at my house in which I invite some friends over for dinner and a 4-hour immersive role playing game with lots of improvised craziness and clue-solving. Watching Harper’s Island was exactly like playing one of my murder mystery dinners, only with a significant increase in the number of potential suspects and an ever-growing body count. (At my dinners, only one person dies. And they stay dead, unlike John Wakefield.) Clearly, I am inclined to like such a thing.

In the beginning, I thought the show wasn’t going to be as cool as it ended up being, and part of my problem was with the casting and the writing. Too many of the actresses looked the same, and didn’t seem to have distinct enough personalities. In fact, up until the near-end, I would sometimes confuse Bride Trish’s sister with her step-mother, and I’m glad Bridesmaid Lucy died so early on because otherwise, I’m not sure I’d have been able to tell her apart from Chloe (unless Chloe were in every scene with Cal, like he has was cute her British accessory, or something). But once certain unnecessary bodies were dispensed of, the key players really started to flesh themselves out and the show got good. I’d say this is when the cast was probably at a total of 10, just after Mr. Wellington’s encounter with that headspade that awakened everyone to the possibility that there was something other than a wedding going on on Harper’s Island. (Here I must insert that my murder dinners are meant for eight, which is a perfect number because these things are filled with a plethora of information to keep straight, and maintaining tidbits from any more than eight sources while drinking bottle after bottle of wine is exceptionally difficult.) Once we got down to a manageable number of characters, we started to explore Abby’s past with the island, the history of the Wakefield murders, her mother’s diaries, her father’s obsession and the possibility that she – or someone else – could have been John Wakefield’s love child.

I also became somewhat invested in the growing relationship between Chloe and Cal, and, subsequently, in the changes in their characters during this whole ordeal. At the beginning of the show, Chloe was an effervescent party girl who was nothing if not gorgeous, which is perhaps why I couldn’t tell her apart from Lucy. Cal, on the other hand, was a fish-out-of-water Englishman, a man a bit too posh and uptight for seafaring life in the Pacific Northwest, constantly picked on by other party guests and locals because of his difference and because a girl like Chloe had no business being with a man like that. But as they found themselves in the midst of danger, Cal and Chloe stuck together. She got a lot tougher and a lot smarter, and he likewise proved his mettle by employing his medical knowledge (from working as a mortician, I believe), to help the survivors figure out facts relating to bodily injuries and their causes, as well as patching up certain wounds and instructing others how to patch up his own. Nothing cemented their growth more for me, though, than Cal’s death at the hands of John Wakefield and Chloe’s defiant swan dive to join her would-be fiancé in the river below, growling, “You can’t have me,” just before she takes the plunge. Beginning-of-the-series Chloe wouldn’t have done that for Cal, but end-of-the-series Chloe did.

Now, about that John Wakefield love child. As it turns out, that love child ended up being Wakefield’s accomplice, and it isn’t Abby, but her childhood best friend, Groom Henry, who reveals to her (after kidnapping her and murdering his father and anyone else still alive except for hostage Jimmy) that he set up this whole thing (including his fake relationship and fake wedding to Trish . . . ouch!) to lure Abby back to the island so they could be together . . . even though they’re technically siblings . . . which is really creepy, but doesn’t seem to bother Henry at all. I don’t understand why he kept Jimmy alive to allegedly pin the title of “Wakefield’s accomplice” on, especially after going through all the trouble to stage the burning deaths of Trish, Abby, Jimmy, Wakefield and himself. Even with “Wakefield’s accomplice” alive somewhere, it’s doubtful that the Washington State police would dig further into people “proven dead” or go digging about on an even more remote part of the island to look for said accomplice. So to take someone hostage and force them to write a false confession? This strikes me as very bad planning on Henry’s part, especially since his only post-massacre plan was to hole up in a really sweet house with Abby for the rest of their days, living out a warped little domestic fantasy and hoping she developed Stockholm Syndrome. Clearly, keeping Jimmy as a hostage is just a handy plot device so freaked-out Abby can find him, thus making her even more freaked-out and so Jimmy can find a reason to break free from his restraints and launch himself at Henry, thus taking him out with a very large boat knife and allowing Jimmy and Abby to ride off on a state police boat into the Puget Sound sunset.

But all in all, I had a lot of fun watching this show, delighting in the ever-growing body count, the inventive, nautical deaths and the various murder mystery tropes and red herrings dropped along the way. I wish the series had been more of a success, though, because I like the idea of these limited-run series. As my friend Drew wrote, they definitely solve the problem of Twin Peaks Season 2, and other series with a central mystery that outlived the story they’d planned to tell. (Joss Whedon was always very good at keeping each Big Bad around for only one season, and any subsequent seasons would deal with a new and different evil.) Plus, it was kind of like having a murder mystery at my house, only without all that cooking and planning. I’d have been interested to see other incarnations, especially because Creepy Little Madison was already poised as a natural successor to Abby as a Wakefield survivor for the next edition of murders in and around the Pacific Northwest.

The Husband:

As usual, my wife catches me with this article just when I’m getting extremely busy at work, so I can’t contribute very much, but I will agree with pretty much everything she said about both shows.

In a little way, I think I enjoyed the final four episodes of Eli Stone more than my wife simply because of some of the nice character development, but was left scrambling to reach for my iPhone and look up character names as they were mentioned, because a several months-long break between episodes kind of destroys any concept of who is named what. (This doesn’t happen to quality shows like Mad Men or anything on HBO, but that’s because they’re sweet programs that dare you to forget their characters.)

As for Harper’s Island (which I almost accidentally typed as Herpes Island, which is the inevitable porn spin-off), this was the perfect show to watch out of the corner of one’s eye while playing Peggle and Unblock Me on my nifty little Apple phone. (I plug! You give me money!) I had an even harder time telling the characters apart, but basically because I never bothered to learn their names in the first place. Except for Abby. (Yes, I forgot Henry’s name, even though the actor played a very memorable Harry on Ugly Betty over the last three years.)

More importantly, I don’t think there was one point in the entire series where either my wife or I ever bothered to venture a guess as to who was going to be the killer. No clues followed. No online community message board chats. I just watched until the next kill or the next shot of a scantily clad Chloe. (By the way, this Alvin & the Chipmunks actress, Cameron Richardson, has done her share of tasteful nude photography, so go forth and view.) Once during the final three episodes I jokingly guessed that it would be Madison, which, to be fair, wouldn’t have been the worst idea in the world. Just implausible.

More limited series, I ask, and networks could take a lesson from CBS sticking to this show, even if it was shifted from Thursday at 10 to Saturday at 10. To think, would Taye Diggs’ Day Break have developed more of a cult following had ABC allowed it to finish out its run? The world will never know.

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The Husband:

After a season of wildly fluctuating success, Ugly Betty finished off its season with style and grace, and even though some stories ended up deflating considerably, others found a bit of truth in them, while one caught me completely off-guard. After what I thought was a damn good fall half of the season – some would disagree with me, especially in regards to one Ms. Lohan, but if anything, the comedy was top-notch for this show at that point – everything just kind of dropped off, and with the exception of all the YETI drama, the only thing that really got me through was Betty’s relationship with Matt.

But what’s been going on since I last checked in? David Rasche, who will forever be Sledge Hammer to me, came in as Matt’s billionaire father Cal Hartley to save the near-bankrupt Meade Publications and threw everything for a loop, pissing both Daniel and Wilhemina in the process. It’s always tough when you have an owner who knows virtually nothing about fashion and seems to design the magazine around how his dick feels. I guess that rubbed off on Matt early in his life, as we found out episodes earlier that he had been a bit of a he-bitch man-whore. (Cal Hartley, btw, once impregnated Claire Meade, but that’s neither here nor there, as the baby never came to be.)

In other news: you know that Slater-Meade baby that was created inside Christina using Wilhelmina’s egg and dead Bradford’s sperm? Turns out that, after Christina caused some major issues by becoming too attached to the child, the baby is actually hers, as she had relations with her estranged husband right around the same time as the Slater-Meade child was put in her. Hey, shit happens. This in turn led to the much-publicized exit of actress Ashley Jensen, my beloved Scottish lass from Extras, in a respectable bit of non-insanity (which is surprising from this show). I will miss you, dear Ms. Jensen. I can’t wait to see where your career goes next.

And while Marc loses any true upward mobility at YETI, he redeems his earlier vicious ways by having a nice heart-to-heart with young Justin Suarez, who was crushed upon being rejected from LaGuardia High School (a.k.a. the Fame school), only to have Marc tell him that he was also a product of the public school system, and look how fabulous he turned out.

Im just going to imagine that the mannequin is a physical manifestation of Mollys cancer. Its a lot more interesting that way.

I'm just going to imagine that the mannequin is a physical manifestation of Molly's cancer. It's a lot more interesting that way.

Meanwhile, Daniel Meade has to deal with what I consider a fairly big fail in regards to his story with Molly. I dug the love square that put them together and I really liked Molly herself as a character, but once they finally became a couple, the writers just stopped caring. I understand the need for conflict, but having Molly’s cancer resurface was, in my opinion, lazy and cruel. All you’re really telling us is that Daniel can’t be happy, and when he tries to become a better man, it only hurts everybody else. What kind of message is that? And as the disease ate away at Molly, they threw out any semblance of interest in the character, only redeeming themselves (slightly) with the finale where Daniel pulls a Perry-Cox-On-Scrubs-In-That-Episode-With-Brendan-Fraser and hallucinates Molly being with him at the award show, only to find out that she had died at home that day.

But I’ve been stalling. What the hell happened to Betty? After succeeding considerably at YETI and scoring a junior editing position at a major publication (I forget which), the one and only Bernadette Peters abuses her privilege as Betty’s mentor and steals the job right out from under her. While I feel like the Bern was underused on this show, that was a damn great way to get the Great Red-Haired One out of the show and into that corner of our mind that remembers miniscule details of prime-time soap opera plots a decade down the line. And thus, Betty and Marc begin to battle for an editing job at Mode, thanks to the suicide of the previous reclusive editor Rachel Dratch (in a very bizarre role as identical twins). While Betty gets the job simply based on a coin toss, she has other shit to deal with. That’s right, Henry’s back in town.

It’s not entirely important what led to the big finale, but know this: while Henry came into town (after being involved in that whole crazy murder plot off the coast of Washington over on CBS Saturday nights) he technically had a girlfriend with him there in NY, he still managed to reignite Betty’s loins, or at least long enough to have Matt spy them having a final goodbye makeout session in a random NYC park. And as Betty loses Henry as he leaves town once again, Matt dumps her once and for all. But we’re not done with Matt, not by a longshot, because after all of this emotional wreckage, he has a surprise for her: as his father owns Meade Publications, Matt will now be working at Mode as Betty’s boss. And thus, a romantic interest becomes next season’s big villain, and I will readily admit that I did not see it coming.

So yes. It wasn’t a great season. It really couldn’t recover once Rebecca Romjin left to have her twins, and it’s also a shame that Amanda really wasn’t given much of a story at any point. But I love the way Marc came into his own this year, I liked everything revolving around any member of the Hartley clan, and while I wished that Daniel would be treated more sympathetically as a character, his arc with Molly was good while it lasted.

I’ll see you on Friday nights next season, Ugly Betty, which will hopefully not be your last season despite basically being pushed into a death slot. I wish Dollhouse as much luck as possible opposite you, and as I do not watch either Southland or Medium and cannot really pass judgment, I just hope that enough viewers find your bright and breezy counterprogramming to be a success. (Okay, I could lose Medium from the schedule, but I honestly would rather see all of them succeed, which is certainly a tall order.)

The Wife:

The final four episodes of this season of House almost made up for Kutner’s random-ass suicide in their inventiveness. Almost. I thoroughly enjoyed the return of Amber as House’s ghostly hallucination and his three-episode quest to discern exactly what’s wrong with him, either way knowing that if he’s crazy, he can’t practice medicine, and if he’s experiencing side effects from his Vicodin addiction, he can’t practice medicine because once he’s clean he’ll be in too much pain. Anne Dudek was delightful has his subconscious manifestation throughout this arc, especially the moment in which she reappears after House thinks he has staved her off by OD’ing on insulin, singing old jazz standards over the microphone at his bar, echoing her first appearance beside his piano. But nothing, really, was more chilling than the final episode, when House realizes he’d hallucinated the entire night he spend kicking Vicodin with Cuddy, ending in the two of them sleeping together. Reliving all of the moments we saw of him flipping coins or examining a tube of lipstick are replayed with Vicodin bottles replacing those objects, suggesting a very powerful drug addiction that has completely taken over House’s life, was pretty brilliant. Frankly, I’d prefer more arcs like this, rather than so many one-off episodes. But what else are you going to do with a 24-episode season? So while everyone else attends Cameron and Chase’s wedding (they spent these past few episodes almost not getting married because a. Cameron kind of got cold feet b. House nearly killed Chase with a stripper covered in strawberry body butter . . . that apparently was made with actual strawberry extract and c. Chase was being a dick to Cameron about keeping her dead husband’s sperm on ice because he took it to mean that she thought they weren’t going to work out, rather than, you know, being the last thing she has to hold on to of her fucking husband), House checks himself in to a mental institution . . . which he will inevitably check himself out of at the beginning of next season because you can do that kind of thing with you are voluntarily committed.

I should have known this was too good to be true . . .

I should have known this was too good to be true . . .

As far as the patients were concerned, I’m often irritated by how precious the conceits are in which every patient is a metaphor for someone on the team, etc. So I totally get why the guy with split brain whose hand was not his hand was necessary for the metaphor of the finale, it was also perhaps added just a tad too much levity, despite how much Thirteen et all tried to tell me it was creepy. The only patient that really got to me out of this bunch was the ballerina who lost her skin. A lot of my research deals with holes in the surface of the body, mitigations of that surface or the abjecta beneath the surface, but I found her skinlessness to actually be quite frightening. Perhaps its because I’ve had skin cancer that I find the idea of losing that much skin so terrifying (which, for the record, makes no sense, because the removal of skin cancers just leaves some awesome scars), but its more likely the fact that, without the mitigation of the surface, the inside is all that much more frightening. We forget that our skin is the largest organ on our bodies, and so it is vital that we take care of it. Losing a little bit when you scrape your elbow or knee is fine, and hardly horrifying, but losing so much that we are exposed so wholly to the world is truly unsettling. And deadly. I shuddered for that poor girl. She’s just damn lucky that Princeton-Plainsboro has so many fresh cadavers from which to harvest grafts. I know the episode wanted us to sympathize more with the possibility that she, a dancer, would have to have her gangrenous hands and feet removed in order to live (Taub managed to revive the tissue, somehow), but the loss of her flesh was something I couldn’t get out of my head. And I doubt I will.

So, damn you, House, you actually got me. Good for you.

Considering how poorly I did at keeping up with House this year, I don’t think I’ll write about it next year. I’ll still be watching, though, storing up dozens of episodes on my DVR to marathon whenever I get a break from my book learnin’.

The Husband:

And so the month of season finales involving hallucinations continue, and between this, Bones, and Grey’s Anatomy, I wonder what else have I not come across? I know how the US version of Life on Mars ends (but since neither my wife nor I have finished watching the second half of the season, I’ll refrain from saying what it is), but what about the shows I’m behind on?

Smallville, of course, always has at least a couple hallucination episodes a season – and more now that they’ve been struggling to find stories in Metropolis, a task that doesn’t actually sound very hard – but will Prison Break get all wonky during its final five-episode run that’s sitting on my DVR? (Michael does have major brain shenanigans last time I checked, so this has potential.)

Does Lie to Me, which we’ve DVRed but haven’t touched yet, turn everything on its head by revealing that Tim Roth is just a figment of our imagination? (Considering he’s been both a futuristic ape and Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, this could be a possibility.)

Is Reaper going to turn out to be an extremely vivid dream concocted by Sock during a very long nap at the Work Bench? Will that explain Andi losing her personality this season?

Is that missing episode of Sit Down, Shut Up an apology to the idiots who didn’t find it funny and complained about the intentionally awkward animation-on-top-of-real-backgrounds?

Motherfucker! Ugly Betty ended in a hallucination, too! What happened here? Is this a veiled backlash against Obama? Did all the showrunners stop taking their medication?

The only time I can remember even the slightest bit of consistency across certain shows during season finales was May, 1996 (I had to check Wikipedia for the year, but remember everything else about the following without any aid.) For some reason, three major shows in my life decided to kind of lose their minds and go way too dark for my young teenage brain. With Seinfeld, it was Susan, George’s fiancée, dying as a result of toxic envelope glue, and when the main cast stopped by the hospital, they pretty much felt nothing and went to go get some coffee. On Roseanne, Dan breaks his diet and he and Roseanne get into one of the foulest shouting matches I’ve ever seen on a family sitcom, devolving into back-and-forth screams of “Fatty! Fatty! Fatty!” (Let’s not even mention the final season, which was all a dream.) And, finally, Mad About You challenged Paul and Jamie’s marriage when she kissed the man she was campaigning for and Paul lusted after another woman but didn’t do anything, leading to a quiet, disturbing fight.

It just seemed like, for no discernable reason, sitcoms ended that year wanting us to feel like absolute shit. So I ask, does anybody have an explanation for this madness in dear old 2009?

Don’t get me wrong, I thought everything with Dudek was some of the most compelling minutes House has ever had, and even without her, the final mindfuck, while hard to avoid in the press after the fact, was still eerily effective, thanks in no small part to Hugh Laurie’s continued brilliance on this show. Does he still not have an Emmy? (Now that Boston Legal is gone, Spader’s absence in the category will help considerably. That is, if Jon Hamm’s John Ham doesn’t take it, which would not be a bad thing per se.)

On another note, do any of you out there seriously care about Chase and Cameron? At all? Boooooooring. How about hiring another intern. I’m fine with that. Anything to get away from the dour blondes.

The Husband:

So right now, ABC’s Ugly Betty is on a mini-hiatus in order to allow Samantha Who? to finish its second season, as well as let In The Motherhood go through its entire six-episode first season. (Taking the FOX model of trying out six eps of a sitcom is actually pretty smart business, even if it is for a show that I keep accidentally calling Notes from the Underbelly, which is probably not a good sign.) This allowed me to catch up on the four backlogged Betty episodes that were sitting on my DVR, a pretty simple task considering how easy the show it to watch. But what’s been keeping me invested in this show, and, likewise, what issues do I have with the mini-run?

Matt

I love Matt. I think he’s a great foil for Betty, his relation to her industry allows for a type of romantic interaction missing from her Henry/Gio triangle (Henry worked at Meade, yes, but he was an accountant, so that doesn’t really count.) I think he’s a sweetheart, I think his bits of inner turmoil are entirely founded, and I like the way he is treated like an actual human being and not just a character cipher. When we last checked in on this blog, all we knew was that Matt was a sports journalist and cared very little about fashion. Now, we know he’s actually not only the heir to a disgustingly huge fortune, but he has so many notches on his bedpost that…some clever analogy. (Shut up! This is Ugly Betty.) And now, I think that he’s the best beau ever for Betty. Sorry, Gio fans, but I’m really pulling for Matt to become a major regular. Agree or disagree?

I think we need to talk about this obsession everyone has with this Gio person.

I think we need to talk about this obsession everyone has with this Gio person.

Christine Baranski

As Matt’s overbearing, snobbish and protective mother, Ms. Baranski fell right back into her glorious comfort zone after that appearance on The Big Bang Theory, which still annoys me to no end. She was completely miscast there. Here, she may be typecast, but it’s that wonderful kind of typecasting where it works perfectly. I desire more of her.

Ralph Macchio

He returned in a big way, finally bedding Hilda when she realizes that his clean-cut city councilman image may just be a cover for a badder boy underneath. Between this and Beer League and My Cousin Vinny, as well as his appearance on Broadway as J. Pierrepont Finch in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (taking over for Matthew Broderick when he left the cast in the mid-90s), I don’t know why he doesn’t get more active work, or why he’s barely in films anymore. He still looks effortlessly young, still has the comic timing learned from Mr. Miyagi, and yet still looks like he came from the downtrodden wrong side of the tracks. It’s a good combo. Why can’t he be the “best friend” in an Ed Burns movie?

Bernadette Peters

She was used for about 45 seconds in one episode of the four. This is not proper usage of The Bern. Ultimate fail, UB.

Connor & Molly

So after all that love square madness between Connor, Molly, Daniel and Wilhelmina, Connor just suddenly decides to just up and leave in one episode, suddenly desiring to embezzle money from Meade Publications as well as try to steal Willy’s baby and leave the country. This twist came out of nowhere, was not in tune with the rest of his character, and made little to no sense. All it did was save the money it would take to pay the actor to show up to work. That’s the only thing I can figure out. It’s a shame that UB is having trouble keeping story arcs going this season, because the fact that they get completely abandoned every four episodes or so makes me not want to invest as much energy in this series as I assume they’d like. And giving Molly borderline inoperable cancer has, so far, been completely pointless as well. But at least she only disappeared for one episode and came back. The same can’t be said for Connor, despite showing up for a few seconds in a dream sequence.

Steven R. Schirripa

Eh, get a load of this guy here, eh?

Eh, get a load of this guy here, eh?

Between his appearance here as a competitive TV chef, SLOTAT‘s Sausage King and his TV food show that I’ve never heard of (thanks Wikipedia!), Steven R. Schirripa has effectively changed his typecast from mob family comic relief (Casino and The Sopranos) into being the go-to guy for any role revolving around food. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a shift like this, so it’s good that he’s a very amicable actor, both onscreen and on talk shows. It’s tough to not love that face.

Christina

I know that actress Ashley Jensen is on her way out at the end of the season and they have something big planned for her character, but that doesn’t mean that giving her about five lines over four episodes is allowable. She’s definitely in the top three best characters of the show, but you wouldn’t know it from the scripts. Fail.

The Husband:

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

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

Karev

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

Derek

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

Derek’s Proposal

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

Izzie

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

Owen & Cristina

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

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

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

Guest Stars

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

Now onto Private Practice:

Addison + Men

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

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

The Show’s Actual Concept of Psychiatry/Psychology

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

Taye Diggs

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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

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

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

The Husband:

So what’s been going on the last couple weeks at Mode Magazine? Well, if the first episode in this discussion was any indication, absolutely nothing at all. Taking the rare 100%-personal-story route, UB throws a lot of mush at us with very little to really chew on.

Some of the not-so-great stories:

  • Claire Meade is approaching 60, so she acts out by shoplifting from high-class boutique stores. When Betty tries to stop her, she gets pulled aside by store security and is about to be in big trouble until Claire comes back and fesses up.
  • Betty, in preparation for Claire’s birthday, goes around with a video camera to interview all of Claire’s friends, only to find that she has no true ones.
  • Daniel tries to make Molly forget about her ex-fiancee Connor, but that’s hard when he goes out of his way to find a sweet Tibetan restaurant, only to find out that Molly has been there dozens of times, and the wait staff doesn’t like anybody dating her but Connor. Hilarity. (Not.)
  • Wilhelmina has to look after Connor’s parrot while he is out of town, but the parrot picks up on her speech and begins repeating “I love Connor,” something the emotionally stunted Wilhelmina only mentioned in passing. She doesn’t want to be the first one to say “I love you,” so she momentarily suggests that she kill the bird. This brings us to the only great line of the night:

“But that…birder!” — Marc

And in the only somewhat good story, Betty, with video camera, accidentally leaves the camera on in her house while away and videotapes her father squeezing the asscheeks of his assigned personal nurse, Elena. (I’ll always know Lauren Velez, the actress, as Dr. Gloria, the prison doctor on Oz who Dean Winter was always lusting after, so this storyline has its major awkwardness for me no matter how it goes. If you want to see Velez in a great film, though, I suggest you pick up I Like It Like That immediately.) Upon further investigation, Betty realizes that her father isn’t actually a sexually harassing dog — he and Elena are actually in love. Betty and Hilda won’t have this relationship, not accepting of their father dating anybody, let alone somebody so much younger than him, but when they find that Elena’s intentions are nothing but good, and that Papi has been lonely for years, they finally accept the couple as they are.

The following episode, “There’s No Place Like Mode,” brings the show back into absurd amounts of awesome with a huge bang in a mega-episode of lunacy and heart.

While Daniel insults Molly by trying to give her a high-fashion makeover, and Wilhelmina feels that her personal life with Connor is beginning to affect her professional standing in her industry, Betty gets the best story of the night — as an exercise at YETI, Betty is forced to pair up with a sports writer, and they are to learn about each other’s magazines through and through. This young man, Matt, seems like a perfect fit for Betty, and also a perfect fit for Ugly Betty. He’s not classically handsome, but he’s witty and looks like Josh Groban, and is a great romantic interest for the show. Betty isn’t interested in sports, but when Matt bitches her out for not taking an interest in his work and was pre-judging his industry, she gives in and learns that, just like in her industry, the best stories are the ones about the people within the industry. I’d love to continue seeing Betty’s foray into the sports world and its similarities and differences with fashion, and Matt is a much better dating choice for Betty than perhaps even Henry, who was a little too clingy even when he knew that he was going to have a baby with somebody else.

But what mission does Betty take Matt on during the episode? It’s to get the line of clothes for Fashion Week from the enigmatic German designer Heinrich, whose clothes are made of metal. Confused, Betty and Cristina write a fake press release just to goof around, but when Suzuki St. Pierre accidentally gets a hold of the bizarre parody piece, Heinrich is so amused that he asks Betty to produce his Fashion Week show.

I would love to be at this show, provided nothing cuts my face.

I would love to be at this show, provided nothing cuts my face.

But who gets to go, and who gets Betty’s two extra tickets? At the Suarez house, Hilda is getting a little weirded out by all of the smooching going on between Elena and Papi, especially now that he’s at perfect health for his age and technically doesn’t need a nurse anymore. And Justin doesn’t like them interrupting their movie-watching time.

Justin: I can’t hear what they’re saying.

Papi: Well, it’s either about steppin’ up, or the streets.


Justin, who was to go to Betty’s show with Hilda, decides to give his ticket to Elena instead so she and Hilda can talk, and while they have differences, they bond over their horrible fashion choices from the 80s and 90s and decide that they could be friends after all.

Ahh…but how does Betty’s big show go? Well, one of the metal dresses almost cuts Isaac Mizrahi’s face (Target spokesperson OH NOES!), but otherwise it seems to be going pretty well…until a very pregnant Cristina, who has been helping out backstage, reveals to Betty that she has been in labor all day but didn’t want to say anything, and now there’s not enough time to get to the hospital. Cristina collapses on the runway, and Wilhelmina gets all the metal-adorned models to make a circle around Cristina to give her privacy. Luckily, Elena is capable of delivering the baby and goes to the private circle, and moments later Willy rises up, baby in hand, in a tableau that looks to be a mixture of Brazil, Moulin Rouge! and The Lion King.

So yes, it was all kinds of wacky and messy, but I got a whole lot of Mode shenanigans out of it. Willy has her new heir by a dead man’s seed, Ashley Jensen can settle her story and leave the show as reported, and Betty has a new boy story. The mixture of heartfelt stories and absurd drama rises again, and that’s when UB is at its best.

We’ve got seven episodes left this season. Let’s hope it keeps us fully interested.

PBBTTTHHHHHH!

You hear that? That’s the sound of my brain flushing out all the recent episodes of television I had yet to write up. My daytime job’s responsibilities have increased tenfold, and I find myself with just that much less time a day to do the thing that I actually want to do – write about television. I can’t just not write about these shows and leave you all hanging, though, so here’s me dumping out all over the place.

PBBTTTHHHHHH!

These first few have some of the notes I wrote down to coincide with the show, and for some reason or another – oh wait, I know the reason, it’s because I just haven’t been able to find the time – I just couldn’t get them together to form an actual post.

And to make things easy, as each show’s write-up will be very small, I have broken my rule to give them letter grades. However, I will try not to use them in the future.

Scrubs 8.7 “My New Role”

Grade: B+

Dr. Cox has major issues balancing his time as the new Chief of Medicine, so he and Kelso finally repair their relationship that has been seemingly broken for decades. J.D. realizes that he must take the place of Dr. Cox to be a responsible, trustworthy doctor.

Some jotted quotes and other miscellaneous funny things:

  • “It is inappropriate to interrupt an attending when he’s hittin’ it.” – J.D.
  • “Since we’re friends now, I can show you my butt.” – Kelso
  • “Look at me! I can’t touch anything I love without hurting it!” – J.D. with cactus hands
  • “It’s Monday. Monday is bongo day.” – Janitor
  • Apparently, Ted’s never been hugged
  • Disrespecting Nurses Five!
  • On Cox’s Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever List: J.D., Hooch, Jordan

Scrubs 8.8 “My Lawyer’s In Love”

Grade: A-

While Cox learns to balance his time better between his work and his growing family, Ted finds love in a sweet and cute ukulele player who constantly visits pediatrics. Aziz Ansari gets fired for laziness. Special shout-out to actress Kate Micucci, who played Ukulele Girl a.k.a. Stephanie Gooch, who matriculated at the same university as yours truly. She was a grad student during my undergrad years, but I still noticed her around campus and was lucky enough to catch some of her stand-up comedy/performance pieces at our campus open mic room. My favorite was a bizarre puppet show about the meaning of Christmas.

Some quotes and other such things:

  • The Peons (Ted’s a capella group) are now singing 70s standards like Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper”
  • “A capella music is – how to put this delicately – ear rape.” – Cox
  • “Ted, we saw you in the park throwing rocks at old couples.” – J.D.


My Name Is Earl 4.16 “Randy’s List Item”

Grade: B-

After the great two-parter that dealt with Darnell’s ousting from Camden due to the Witness Protection Program and his wife’s appearance on the glorious reality TV show Estrada Or Nada, we’re back to the same-ol’-same-ol’ My Name Is Earl, one with very little forward momentum. At least this week, it’s Randy’s turn as he wins $250 in a lotto scratcher, but is then hit by a bicycle and realizes that, just like his brother, he must pay tribute to karma. This time? He must reunite Earl with two of their old trailer park buddies who became estranged when Randy framed Zeke and Arlo, but as usual things don’t always go as planned, and Randy finds out that his true task is to bring Zeke and Arlo closer together as brothers.

Joy, meanwhile, is constantly and intentionally blowing her family’s witness protection cover because she is not happy with each new location, including being the Gruddlebutts of NYC in a noisy apartment, working at a lumberjack camp (complete with Darnell sporting a sweet beard) and finally living in an igloo amongst the caribou. Joy discovers that the two Witness Protection agents are having an affair, so she blackmails them into relocating them to a great big house in a sunny, palm tree-lined area (where she can presumably take the name Goldilocks “Goldie” Cristal.)

The one great quote from the episode:

“Wanna see my scabs that look like people?” – Arlo

The Office 5.13 “Lecture Circuit Part 1”

Grade: B+

As a result of good sales, Michael is now doing the lecture circuit at other branches of Dunder Mifflin, and Pam acts as his driver/assistant. As usual, his speeches don’t really add up to anything, but Pam makes the trip better when she suggests that they blow off one of the locations and head to Nashua, New Hampshire, to see Michael’s one true love Holly. To be continued, where it will continue to rock my face.

Oh…and who do they see along the way? Karen (Rashida Jones), Jim’s ex-girlfriend and ex-coworker who is now married to a dermatologist…and pregnant. (Preggers OH NOES!)

Back at Scranton, Jim and Dwight, as the new heads of party planning, have forgotten Kelly’s birthday (finally some Kelly screentime, thanks to actress Mindy Kaling writing the episode), but then clash on how to make it up to her. (Dwight’s suggestion? A banner that reads “It is your birthday,” and black and brown balloons.)

Andy, meanwhile, has his eyes on a beautiful African-American client, but he blows what could have become something more when he goes in for a kiss way too soon.

Quotes and other funny stuff:


“Andy: For your information, I’ve been with beautiful women.

Phyllis: Sexually?

Andy: This conversation is over.”

  • The fact that Creed has dated Squeaky Fromme.
  • Michael: “Would a liar bring mini Mounds bars?”
    [Pam joylessly tosses candy at the employees]

AND NOW, SHOWS ON WHICH I WROTE NO NOTES! HAVE FUN WITH THIS TV MEMORY DUMP!

Ugly Betty 3.12 “Sisters On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown”

Grade: B-

As Papi recovers from his heart attack, Hilda guilts Betty into realizing that she has been putting her career before her family. This becomes worse when she is forced to leave her father at the hospital so she can intercept a set of photos that would expose Daniel and Molly’s Caribbean love vacation to her unknowing ex-fiancé (and Daniel’s CFO), who himself is having a secret affair with Wilhelmina. Betty wins in the end, blackmailing fashion TV host Suzuki St. Pierre with her knowledge of his secret – he’s actually a butch heterosexual man with a family and a house in New Jersey – only to be foiled by a gossip rag cover that shows Molly with some faceless hunk standing behind Heidi and Spencer on a St. Barth’s Beach.

I liked Betty’s stuff, and I’m happy she’s moving out of her Manhattan apartment temporarily to be closer to her family, but I’m not sure if I give two shits about the Daniel-Molly-Connor-Wilhemina love square. There’s just very little chemistry.

Ugly Betty 3.13 “Kissed Off”

Grade: C+

Betty has nothing to do this season regarding her love life, and this continues as sexy musician neighbor Jesse moves his way back into Betty’s life, only this time she realizes that he has no concern for or interest in anybody other than himself. Amanda, meanwhile, must find a roommate to sublet Betty’s half of the apartment, and in the end she makes the wise choice and chooses Mark. Now that’s a sitcom set-up if e’er I’ve seen one.

Frankly, were hoping for our own spin-off.

Frankly, we're hoping for our own spin-off.

In the Meade Empire love square, Connor finally – after stalking her for a bit – finds out who Molly’s new beau is, and while some punches are thrown and big issues are discussed, Daniel and Connor learn that they can still work with each other, even if Connor’s ex-fiancée is now banging the boss.

The one quote I wrote down:

“Is it possible that he was just licking guacamole off your chin?” – Amanda to Betty

Private Practice 2.14 “Second Chances”

Grade: C

I remember virtually nothing about this episode, other than that Violet still doesn’t tell Pete and Sheldon that she’s pregnant and is still unsure of who the father is, and that she moves in with Cooper. As far as medical cases go, a woman gives birth while having a stroke, I laughed, and then I felt bad about laughing at a woman having a stroke. And then I felt shame. Then I fell asleep.

You got bored because this isnt Swingtown.

You got bored because this isn't Swingtown.

Grey’s Anatomy 5.14 “Beat Your Heart Out”

Grade: B

An episode with a lot going on but perhaps a little too much.

Now that Denny the Ghost/Grim Reaper is no longer following Izzie around, she can now abuse the interns into giving her medical tests to find out what the hell is wrong with her, but all they find is that she’s anemic. Dr. Bailey, meanwhile, really does not want to work in pediatrics anymore after the emotion-sucking experience of that sick kid with the bowel problems and his near-death, as well as her own son’s medical issues, but is then convinced by none other than Dr. “Apsergers” Dixon that she perfect for the job because of her intense emotional involvement and willingness to break the rules.

Dr. Arizona Robbins kisses Callie. It’s like she’s a lesbian magnet.

Where is the gator with gaydar when you need him?

Where is the gator with gaydar when you need him?

Meredith gets Cristina to read more of Mer’s death mother’s journals, and finds out that when Mother Grey and the Chief were having an affair, he was going to propose to her.

Speaking of proposals, Derek is finally going to pop the question (with additional goading from a pregnant Jennifer Westfeldt) to Meredith, but then receives a call from Addison down in Los Angeles, and something is terribly wrong. What is it? Follow me over to the next entry!

Private Practice 2.15 “Acceptance”

Grade: C+

This is why Addison was calling Derek. Her neurologist brother, Archer, is having some major seizures, and while he’s all sure that it’s an inoperable brain tumor, it takes the other doctors of Oceanside Wellness – who are not neurologists, mind you – to discover that it’s actually brain-eating parasites he caught while on his book tour.

As usual, Cooper gets the best story. This time, a seven-year-old girl who has had many operations (and more to come) as a result of a horrible car accident is abandoned at Oceanside by her parents, who can no longer afford to keep her and care for her. Cooper tracks the parents down at a relative’s house, but instead of guilting them into taking the child back, he realizes that they don’t deserve her. The girl is taken by child services (sad face), but maybe, just maybe, they might be better able to take care of her. Healthcare is a big deal, people, and the sooner you realize that we as a country should be willing to pay more for it via taxes the better of we’ll be. (There’s my sporadic political activism at work, which I will now turn off.)

Violet finally tells Pete and Sheldon about her pregnancy and that she will be keeping the child. I don’t remember what they said in response, but I know that neither of them particularly wants children.

And hey, this was advertised as a crossover episode along with Grey’s, and yet only the final minutes of each had anything to do with each other. Next week is the major crossover, and I wish ABC was more honest about this. Damn grubby ratings-grabbers.

We will have more TV Memory Dump tomorrow! And then perhaps we can return to our regularly scheduled write-ups from moi, the Husband.

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