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.

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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.

As should be obvious with this entry, I finally finished watching every single James Bond movie just before Quantum of Solace came out and finally found the time to catch up on some of my favorite shows. Here, it’s catch-up time in the world of Betty Suarez.

“Crush’d”

It’s been strange, watching you two commenters declare your love for Gio. Not that I don’t love him. I truly do. But I’m also very curious about why you think Betty actually deserves “some punishment” for dumping Gio (even though I don’t think she technically “dumped him,” since they were never officially dating in the first place). At the end of s2, I think her final decision, to choose neither Henry nor Gio, was absolutely the right thing to do for Betty Suarez, an unselfish girl who doesn’t want to hurt anybody even if it’s in her better interest. While it would definitely be great to see her with Gio, I’m left wondering where the story would go from there. Shows, especially one with its reality as heightened by this one, need conflict, so I’m very curious as to where you think a Betty-dates-Gio arc would go and still be able to have us care. For instance, I’m amazed that Scrubs has made us care about Turk and Carla for going on eight seasons now, and that show is definitely the exception to the rule of interesting long-term couples.

Believe me, I am in no way trying to start shit. Especially not with UB’s two readers. I am honestly curious.

Hi, Roomie!

Hi, Roomie!

Never mind, because Betty gets punished hard in this episode by her rising star of a rock ‘n roll neighbor, Jesse. Unable to get him and his band in at a Mode-sponsored party, Betty decides to take Amanda advice and throw a super-hip roof party at their apartment building. (Amanda, having lost her apartment, is temporarily rooming with Betty, with both positive and negative results.) The party goes off without a hitch – never mind all the drama between Daniel, Wilhelmina and the new CFO – but when Betty goes to find Jesse, she walks in on him making out with Amanda (who knew Betty had a crush on somebody, but was too self-involved to realize that Betty was talking about Jesse). Crushed, she kicks Amanda out, but upon settling her feelings, decides to have her stick around, since Amanda didn’t technically know, and besides, Betty’s love for Jesse was clearly unrequited.

“Tornado Girl”

This week posed a very interesting dilemma for Betty Suarez, something I was planning on asking my wife her opinion on over the weekend, but I just never got around to it. My wife and I have both worked in journalism and publishing in different degrees, so I thought she might have been interested in weighing in on Mode’s most recent debacle.

While Daniel and all of the Meade enterprise’s publishers are out on a retreat, Daniel leaves Betty in charge of finalizing the printing for Mode’s latest issue, and everything seems to go swimmingly. Unfortunately, the American Midwest is suddenly hit with vicious tornados and storms, which leads Betty to return to the printing factory and demand that they reprint the entire magazine with a new cover. Why? Because the main story is Mode’s “Fashion Storm,” complete with a cover picture of a model morphed into a tornado. In order to reprint the entire set of issues, it would cost Meade Publishing a couple hundred thousand dollars (this, in a time where the editor’s retreat was intended for the CFO to assess which magazines should be shut down to save the company money), but it would also presumably save Mode from a publicity nightmare. She can only get permission from Daniel, though, so Betty hires a skywriter to get him to call her (all the editors had to give up their cell phones and PDAs). Daniel, secretly, allows the issue to go through and gets it to be Mode’s highest-selling issue, unintentionally getting Betty get all the blame from the news media (including Suzuki St. Pierre) and nasty calls from offended Midwesterners. In the end, Daniel decides to reveal that he was the one who released the offensive issue and declared that all proceeds would go to benefiting the tornado victims.

Now, this is just me talking, but I would have absolutely allowed the issue to go through. The majority of Americans are smart enough to know that if a monthly publication releases an unintentionally controversial issue only the day after a natural disaster, the decision was not made to be tasteless but simply that the magazine would be unable to shift gears so closely to the end. The media blitz would not have been nearly as bad, and the total production cost would have been too great to outweigh whatever would have happened. I appreciate Daniel’s final decision and would have recommended that to a point (the donation angle, that is), but I simply couldn’t get behind the moral implications of the storyline. Publishing is a tough business with tough decisions, but I just don’t think that Mode would have been boycotted by anybody, and whatever controversy would have simply blown over by the next issue.

Then again, I’m just a west coast guy. What do I know about how people react to tornados? We just get big honking earthquakes.

Still, it was a very good episode, especially with the Marc/Cliff saga of Cliff asking Marc to move in with him, Marc freaking out and cheating on him, guilt-ridden Marc proposing to Cliff, Marc revealing his infidelity, and Cliff ending their relation perhaps forever. Now that’s a story I can get behind.

The Wife:
Just reading this now, I’d like to respond to my husband’s inquiry about my thoughts on the Mode Tornado scandal. I actually had to deal with a similar situation back when I was editing the literary magazine at my high school. (I know, my career in publishing has been long and highly lauded.) We were going into hell week for the winter issue of the magazine and all of the editors were turning in their pages to the Chief so that our moderator could take them to the publisher that night. That day, we heard that a student at our school had committed suicide. His name was K.C. As I was proofing the pages for my section that afternoon, I noticed that we were about to print a story about teen suicide featuring a female character named Casey. The issue would “hit stands” on Friday, only two days after our classmate’s death. Fearing the issue was too sensitive at the time, I pulled the story and did the best I could to assemble a new page out of the slush pile. I wouldn’t say that I was happy with the layout I provided for that section in the end, but I do still feel I made the right decision to pull the suicide story.
The issue got a little more complicated, however, when the author of one of the stories I had decided to run instead was upset with an edit I made to her piece, which just happened to be about lesbianism. (Note to all girls who submit stories about lesbianism to high school literary magazines: if you’re willing to submit that, you better be willing to accept the ramifications of publishing it.) I felt the piece ended without real resolution, which is why I hadn’t considered publishing it without the author making changes. But I was in a bind, and her work had potential with a change in the final line, that made the whole thing just a touch more gay.
In any case, I explained the suicide story situation to both the author and our moderators, who supported my decision to pull said story in light of K.C.’s death. They were even okay with the super-gay replacement story, in the end.
Now, if Daniel Meade were in my situation, writing for a small magazine with local or regional distribution, I would argue that he absolutely should have pulled the tornado cover, if not the whole fashion spread. In regional journalism, the affect your work has on its readers really matters. The potential loss of your entire readership base would be far greater than the financial hit you’d take reprinting a couple thousand copies. However, for a magazine with national distribution, I agree with Daniel’s decision to run the story as is. My husband is right; it would simply cost too much money to reprint the entire run of a magazine from cover to cover. (Furthermore, Betty, you can’t make that demand of a printer unless you’ve brought the replacement cover in a PDF along with a replacement fashion spread so that he can fashion a new plate. It’s a lot more people who have to work overtime to fix that issue than just the printer.) People may be upset, certainly, but there are two ways to diffuse that: a.) immediately issue a press release explaining that the issue had already gone to print when the tornado struck and that there was nothing to be done and b.) donate a portion of the proceeds from sale of the issue to the affected families.
The Husband:

Generally being an optimist — why else would I continue to watch ‘Til Death now that my favorite element of the show, the young neighbors, are no longer in the new episodes — I’m of a firm belief that if something truly awful is happening on television, it’s best to mention it as little as possible so as not to attract too much attention to the easily fixable problem in the first place. This is why I don’t publicly discuss the works of Anne Coulter — books I have read out of sheer morbid curiosity despite my political leanings — because as many copies as she sells (I get them from the library so as not to support her too much), she is remarkably uninfluential in the scheme of things. Basically, to bitch and moan about her in the ways I truly want to would only give her more undeserved focus, and if you just want somebody or something to go away, it’s better to outright ignore them.

Am I wrong here, or is this blue dress actually cute?

Am I wrong here, or is this blue dress actually cute?

That’s why I will not be discussing Lindsay Lohan on Thursday’s Ugly Betty. It wasn’t working for the show, I haven’t liked anything that has happened surrounding her character of Kimmie on any of her episodes, but now she’s gone and will not be returning, so there you go. It’s over.

Fine. You want to at least know what happened to Kimmie, dontcha? Sheesh…okay. Kimmie, promoted to an associate editor at the end of the last episode, begins burning all of her Mode bridges immediately, having shunned her short-lasting friendship with Marc and Amanda. Jealous that Kimmie gets to contribute to the magazine’s special “hot edition” with a piece called “Sizzling Hot Club,” Betty gets on Daniel’s case and is finally allowed to contribute as well. Her desperate idea? “Sizzling Hot Fruit.” At home, she struggles to find a fruit that’s not so overdone or “so last year,” and her father recommends she write about the tico berry, a rare fruit from Brazil. Doing some research, Betty stumbles upon a great story — it appears that hot Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima loves the rare fruit, as her grandfather harvested them during her childhood, and she credits them with providing her with her great beauty and intelligence. Betty tells Mode about this, and suddenly the tico berry piece turns into the cover story (and the first time Mode has ever had Adriana on their cover).

(Quick bit of research brought this to my attention: as I assumed, the tico berry is completely fictional, and the berries they use in the episode are actually rambutan berries.)

Kimmie does not like her high school rival getting all the attention, so she sabotages Betty’s interview with TV fashion show host Suzuki St. Pierre (still my favorite character name on the show) by giving her un-adhered fake eyelashes and convincing the show’s gaffers to overlight her in order to make her sweat. (The Ugly Betty writers, proving they know nothing about the production side of movies and TV and have probably never lifted a Fresnel in their lives, ignore the fact that Suzuki would overheat long before Betty as he is closer to the heat source.) Kimmie then gets to Adriana before Betty can and finds a way to take over as the story’s production leader, usurping Betty from her rightful position.

First, well put Kimmie in a magicians assistant outfit and then actually cut her in half. It will be so tragic.

First, we'll put Kimmie in a magician's assistant outfit and then actually cut her in half. It will be so tragic.

Betty at first struggles with helping Marc and Amanda destroy Kimmie, but when push comes to shove, she realizes she has no other choice. Kimmie is perfectly able to destroy herself with her utter ignorance of Betty’s photo shoot setup at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain…

“It’s Suri-realism. It’s something Tom Cruise’s daughter came up with.”

…but with a little nudge, she is convinced to stand up to co-editor-in-chief Wilhelmina over the use of an about-to-be-auctioned Marie Antoinette diamond necklace and is ultimately fired.

Okay, now I don’t have to talk about Kimmie anymore. Back to better Mode stories, UB writers, and don’t make me feel shame for you any longer.

In the world of Hilda, now that she has broken up with Eddie Cibrian, it’s time for another nice romance, so in comes the awesome Ralph Maccio (a.k.a. the MFing Karate Kid), a local councilman who wanders into Hilda’s home-based salon and lets her know that, though he is not there to bust her, she needs to have a license in order to continue her business. She becomes overly defensive at his suggestion (cutting hair is pretty much all she knows), but Maccio begins what I assume (and hope) will be a multi-episode arc back-and-forth between the two of them. I’ve always liked Hilda’s stories, and throwing the Karate Kid into the mix will only improve things in my eyes.

Come on, Hildy, you know you want him. Why? Because he’s the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep him down. In addition, he is the man who will fight for your honor, and he’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of.

(80s movie dance breakdown!)

The Husband:

This is the first episode of Ugly Betty this season, and one of the few in the entire series, that I just downright didn’t like, finding very little to appreciate about it in the midst of awkward story shifts and uncharacteristic behavior. Many people are very likely to chalk it up to the presence of Lindsay Lohan in the episode, due to her crap storyline and the recent news that she has been “let go” from the show due to a crapload of different reasons on which both parties cannot seem to agree. Me? I more blame a sort of combined laziness from both her acting style (described by UB producers as her simply wanting to play herself) and the producers/writers for creating such a lame bit of fluff in the first place.

And on Fridays we wear plaid!

And on Fridays we wear plaid!

UB is very adept at making its conflicts very heightened and crazy, so to dive into Betty’s past and only drag back such a lackluster plot does a disservice to this very hyper and colorful show. LiLo plays Betty’s high school bully, now grown up and struggling to get by in life, looking up to Betty and all of her success. Hoping to bury the hatchet, Betty brings her into the world of Mode as an assistant, and after stumbling a bit right out of the gates, LiLo gets a makeover – both physical and mental – from the dastardly duo of Marc and Amanda. Soon, she learns how to once again be a Mean Girl (ah, how the tables have turned since Mean Girls) and due to her press-attracting ways about her, Mode promotes her to Associate Editor in order to pull in some more PR, leaving Betty at the whim of LiLo’s rediscovered nastiness.

In the episode’s other lame plot, Wilhelmina and Daniel seem to struggle at Alexis’ recent hiatus from the show and decide to use a high-class dating service, only to be matched up with each other. Both learn more about the other than they ever had before (no, not sexually! Emotionally!) and go their separate ways. Yawn…

You want a dance battle? Ill give you a dance battle!

You want a dance battle? I'll give you a dance battle!

In the show’s only mildly interesting story, Justin auditions for a role in the Billy Elliot stage show, but at the audition sees a jock from his school going for the same role. After a bit of unfunny competition in the practice room, they both audition and lose to “the short guy.” Back at school, the two learn that despite their differences, they have the potential to be friends in public. (Why Justin didn’t audition for something more appropriate to his skill set and ethnicity, like the Tony-winning In The Heights, seems silly to me, but just like that iffy Wicked episode from s2, I guess the showrunners will only name-drop the big show of the moment at the time of writing.)

A quick catch-up with Ugly Betty…

The Husband:

As our sole commenter for our Ugly Betty posts (…so far…spread the word!) has pointed out, the episodes have definitely picked up for this, the third season of Ugly Betty. I personally wouldn’t call the premiere episode a disaster by any means, but I will definitely admit that the show is back up to par, having nicely reset its buttons and gone into a comfortable groove. (Or as comfortable as an attempted murder can be.)

“Crimes Of Fashion”

In the third episode of s3, there is only one real question that needs to be asked: who pushed Christina down those stairs? (Well, really, two/three questions, as we’d like to know whether or not Christina and her unborn child are fine, too.) After Betty takes over most of the episode trying to prove Daniel’s innocence, she begins to suspect that maybe he did do it. After all, all the clues point toward him — the dusty jacket, the custom-made size 11 shoes that left obvious prints at the crime scene — and we get a few nice little gems in the meantime, such as Marc owning a true-to-life Wilhelmina mannequin he likes to berate when angry at life.

Ah…but who else has man-sized feet? Why, none other than our male-to-female transgender character, Alexis Meade. All the clues pointing toward Daniel were simply a mistake, but there was indeed malice behind the crime — it seems that since Christina was being Wilhelmina’s surrogate mother, all Alexis could see whenever she looked at Christina was Wilhelmina’s cackling evil and she felt like she had no choice. So after a good mystery, we were left with one of our main characters, one I feel sympathy for even during her more stupid storylines, going off to jail. Ahh…but not without dropping a bomb — after glancing at the results of a paternity test, it turns out that Daniel is not, in fact, the father of the French boy D.J….Alexis is. Dun dun duuunnn….

Alexis Meade, yet another absentee father.

Alexis Meade, yet another absentee father.

“Betty Suarez Land”

And here’s the glee I hear from our one commenter, as this episode indicates the return of Freddy Rodriguez’s Gio, one-third of the s2 love triangle. It was indeed great to see him back, and I’m happy that s3 has decided to throw some better obstacles in the way of the two of them being a couple, and not just have him pine over her for another story arc. After Betty turned down his advances during the s2 finale, he is back from Rome and pissed at her rejection, going so far as banning her from his deli as well as his delivered sandwiches to Mode Magazine (complete with a literal warning sign with her picture on it). She learns, though, that she can perhaps get him back into her good graces by replacing the heavenly cheese he found in Italy that was confiscated by customs by getting it from Mario Batali, he is a personal friend of Daniel Meade. Luring him into her Manhattan apartment (which he does not know belongs to her), she tries her best to get on his good side, but that is interrupted by two other stories:

1. Daniel now knows that he is not D.J.’s father, and D.J.’s French grandparents are in New York to claim their grandchild as ordered by the court. Betty, thinking that the grandparents are at her apartment door (it’s actually the focus of side storyline #2), has Gio help whisk D.J. off to Coney Island to hide from the grandparents, as she was hiding D.J. in her apartment in the first place. At Coney, D.J. learns the truth about his paternity, so Daniel has to let him go back to France, at least for a while. I’m happy this storyline can be put aside for a bit, not because it felt awkward (which it kind of did), but more because I was not a fan of the actor playing young D.J. Something just didn’t click with him and the Betty Universe, so I’m glad the show decided to refocus Daniel’s attention back toward the magazine itself.

Sacre bleu! I have suddenly been inspired to return to France and train to be a circus aerialist!

Sacre bleu! I have suddenly been inspired to return to France and train to be a circus aerialist!

2. Hilda and Tony’s relationship gets complicated when Tony decides to break it off with his wife, who tracks them down to Betty’s apartment (where they were having a “serious conversation”) and later returns. (You see? It was her at the door, not the grandparents. How screwball and…a bit too silly.) She later goes to Hilda, thinking it’s her husband’s lover’s sister, and has a heart-to-heart, declaring that she really wants to make her marriage to Tony really work. Guilt-ridden, Hilda goes to Tony and decides that they are not right for each other, that he has to take responsibility for his marriage, and that she can’t be the other woman. Bye, Eddie Cibrian.

3. Meanwhile, Alexis is in jail, but not without Wilhelmina trying to make matters only worse. By seducing the D.A., she has gotten the charges raised from misdemeanor assault to full-on attempted murder, and will only help reduce the charges again if she could get all of Alexis’ shares in Meade Publishing. Alexis refuses, but her mother Claire makes Wilhelmina a different offer — for Alexis to split her shares 50-50 between Daniel and Wilhelmina, giving them both half of the control of the publishing empire as well as the editor-in-chief position at Mode Magazine. With this deal, Alexis is released from jail, deciding to then leave the country for a spell. Me? I don’t want Rebecca Romijn gone for too long, as I consider her one of the show’s brightest spots now, so I hope that this episode, which purges us of three characters, isn’t the last we see of her for this season.

The Husband:

Another year, another season of Ugly Betty. Now entering its third over-the-top wacky and colorful season, I finally warmed up to its charm only recently, having earlier been somewhat put off by just how screwball and dramatic it all was. My “3.5-stars-out-of-5” amount of like for the show started off with gravitating toward Marc and Amanda, respectively Wilhelmina’s flamboyantly gay personal assistant and the magazine’s head receptionist. Within the melodramatic halls of Mode Magazine, they kept the show light and fluffy, a sort of resident Laurel & Hardy. Becki Newton (Amanda) especially has a delightfully goofy way about her, unlike the slightly overrated Vanessa Williams, whose weekly performance as the evil Wilhelmina Slater resembles not so much a wicked witch out of a Disney film so much as she does a mental patient with unpredictable mood swings.

Contrary to popular opinion, I thought the show picked up in its second season as it steered away from the telenovela on which it was based and finally found its own uniquely American voice. Betty’s romance with accountant Henry and her flirtations with sandwich guy Gio introduced something the show hadn’t yet seen: emotional complexity and subtlety. When it got too unbearable, either by character idiosyncrasies or the absurd amount of tension and conflict the show is so happy to create, there’s silliness right around the corner to ease everything down. The show also became enraptured with New York City itself, finding ways to make it work as a character and not simply as a setting, so the shift of actual behind-the-scenes production from Los Angeles to NYC this season works wonderfully.

Really, though, it’s all very silly. And though it technically airs before Grey’s Anatomy, I like to watch it after as a bit of a palette cleanser. (Having a DVR is fun!)

Betty tries really hard to follow-up the introduction of Major Badass on Greys Anatomy.

Betty tries really hard to follow-up the introduction of Major Badass on Grey's Anatomy.

In the season premiere, Betty returns to her family in Queens after a very long vacation in the Western United States with her friend, a welcome relaxation in her life after finally turning down the advances of Gio and refusing her hand in marriage to Henry. (Really, raising a baby in Arizona with your ex-girlfriend and being married to someone in NYC? You think that was going to work? Really?) She is surprised to learn that Daniel, her boss, has been removed from his position as editor-in-chief of Mode by his own tranny sister Alexis. (I happen to love the casting of Rebecca Romijn as a former man, as the actress towers over pretty much all of her co-stars.) Where is he now? Editing Mead Publications’ Maxim¬-like guys magazine Player (the “number 3 non-nude men’s magazine in the country). The show takes this opportunity to portray the men who work at such a publication as immature, goofy, misogynistic assholes (probably true) and all the women assistants as hot and dumb (slightly less likely). Betty takes her time in fitting in at the company, and only does so after embarrassing herself at a Player-sponsored outdoor event where Betty, covering for an injured model — injured by an eye-full of Silly String thanks to Daniel’s newly discovered French son’s shenanigans — accidentally drives a motorcycle into an inflatable pool of bikinied models, and realizes that the video of said accident should become a viral video and bring Player some needed publicity.

Daniel: Ginger, show Betty the lay of the land.
Ginger the Hot Player Secretary: I was once voted ‘Lay of the Land.’

Betty needs any money she can get, though, because she has just been tricked into buying a Manhattan apartment that is, to put it mildly, a fixer-upper. Leaky ceilings, noisy neighbors, naked old people in the apartment across the alleyway, rot everywhere; it’s not the kind of place Betty wanted for herself when she decided to become a more independent woman and find her own place. But things start looking up when her family helps her clean the place up, as well as Betty finding that her noisy neighbor is actually a hot emo musician. It’s like I always say: nothing gets a girl over a sandwich guy like the sweet soothing sounds of a hot emo musician that found your lost keys.

Meanwhile, Betty’s father has finally decided to join the American workforce again, taking a job at a local fast food chicken joint. Unfortunately, his manager is Betty’s old high school nemesis, Kimmie (Lindsay Lohan), a cruel, heartless bully who immediately makes Papa Suarez’s life hell. When Betty and Hilda get wind of this situation, they show up at the restaurant and start a foodfight, salads and fried things flying everywhere. Later, though, Kimmie admits that she is simply jealous that the former victim of her taunting, Betty, has such a better life than her now.

” . . . And I’m pretty sure I have Lyme disease. Never have sex in the woods on fire island.” –Kimmie

Right now, Ms. Lohan is bad on this show. Really bad. I know she’s been having her ups and downs in the tabloids and in her career for the last…several years…but I would hope that in upcoming episodes she realizes that she’s on a fairly high-rated show and could stand to maybe not phone in all of her dialogue. Like the actors on this show or not, they give it their all, and LiLo is sticking out like a sore thumb.

Um, should somebody tell Lindsay that doesnt belong in the deep fryer?

Um, should somebody tell Lindsay that doesn't belong in the deep fryer?

Yeah, there was some hullabaloo about Wilhelmina messing with Mode and tricking Alexis into cutting funding for her and Daniel’s mother’s new upstart magazine Hot Flash, complete with an appearance by Regis and Kelly mocking said magazine, but that plotline has been lacking energy since a few episodes into last season. Somebody needs to inject some life into the entire business/betrayal hodgepodge, because right now it’s taking a backseat to a story about fried chicken chefs.

So far, I’m pleased with most everything the new season has to offer, and even if it starts to drag, I know that this wild show will have something completely different up its sleeve in about three weeks. It always does.

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