Friday, March 30, 2007

CSI: Autopsy of a Show

I watched CSI: Old School for the first time last night in quite a while, and found myself rather perplexed by my lack of enjoyment. I mean, the reason I stopped watching in the first place wasn't that I didn't like CSI anymore--it was that I simply liked Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy more. I used to look forward to CSI every week--the grim mysteries, the joyfully morbid tone, the bountiful was completely my cup of tea. The show hasn't changed at all since I stopped watching--same old gory crime scenes, same old morbid quips, same old annoying Catherine. It hasn't, like some other long-in-the-tooth dramas, gone perceptibly downhill until it's a pale shadow of its old self. It's just...not that interesting to me anymore. It's gone stale.

Why has the bloom faded? Is it possible that without any obvious decline in quality, the show has simply become boring? Repetitive? Do most dramas, even procedurals, have an expiration date, regardless of maintained quality? I've always felt sorry for the poor folks in England, with their abbreviated series format, but maybe they have the right idea. Keeping it fresh is much more interesting.

P.S. What the hell did they do to Greg?

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

24: Fine!

Last night's South Park did a great job satirizing the conventions of 24: Cartman's raspy whisper, the scene in the bathroom, Kyle's bedroom being absorbed by Homeland Security, like CTU last year, and then by the FBI and ATF, and intolerance of Muslims saving everyone's lives (if only those two guys had been allowed to beat up Ahmed!). But there's one thing that I would have liked to see them throw into the mix: the 24 "Fine." My parents, avid 24 watchers, have recently started tracking the number of times per episode that the characters grump, "Fine," and it's become their favorite huffy, dismissive acknowledgement. If you're a 24 fan, you know what I mean:

Milo: Chloe, I need you to take this technojargon and cross-reference it with this other technojargon. And do it now!
Chloe: Fine!

Jack: I need two tac teams, surveillance, a perimeter, the latest issue of Seventeen, and a pony!
Buchanan: We don't have much time, Jack. All I can promise you is the pony.
Jack: Fine!

They've even started using it with other shows:

Dr. Kelso: Listen, Jumpsuit, I thought I told you to get down to the third floor and clean up that toddler puke.
Mom and Dad: Fine!

And it's only a matter of time before it bleeds over to real life:

Me: Mom, can I borrow that book you're reading after you're done?
Mom: Fine!
Me: Did you just "fine" me?

It really is strangely addicting. Try it yourselves!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

House: Secret Loooovers (That's what they are...)

Last night, House was all about secrets. Secret genetic diseases, secret catheter bags, secret sex, secret dreams... Let's start with the genetic diseases. A big hospital donor's son comes home from Iraq with a bucketload of symptoms--rashes, joint pain, fatigue, etc. Cuddy tasks House with curing him, a task that quickly becomes disgusting when the dude gets some sort of putrid vaginal infection in his mouth. Like, with discharge and everything. It was horrifying. I'll skip ahead. Turns out, he has a rare blood disease instead of cancer, gulf war syndrome, infection, etc., etc. Right.

House has another mystery to solve with the patient, though--he dreamt about him the night before getting the case. Hmm. After tasking his minions with finding out everything about the dude's life, House realizes that the patient was Cuddy's date one night a couple years ago. After he confronts Cuddy with this fact, Cuddy accuses House of being into her, and I come embarrassingly close to squeeing. For reals. It was an awesome conversation. Apparently, House and Cuddy had a one-nighter oh so many years ago, and Cuddy thinks House wants to go back for seconds. She's not on board. I totally don't want these guys to get together, but I totally do want them to have more conversations like this one. Let's face it--they have way more chemistry than House and Wilson.

In other news, House is now taking so much Vicodin that he can't pee, and I add "watching a man shove a tube up his penis" to the list of things I never want to see again. Cameron, in the meantime, has peer-pressured (peer-with-benefits-pressured?) Chase into having sex at work. And House, of course, walks in on them in a supply closet. I think Chase is half-right about Cameron wanting House to catch them--not so much because she's trying to make him jealous as because she's totally a weirdo exhibitionist with a cane fetish. The catheter bag probably only makes him hotter.

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The Apprentice UK: Not So Bad, Apparently

Most of the time, American TV steals its ideas from the British. Reality shows, sitcoms, dramas, we don't discriminate. As long as it's one less idea a lazy American producer has to come up with. Rarely does it ever work the other way – Brits stealing from Americans – but that's what happened with The Apprentice. The BBC replaced the loud, badly coiffed Donald Trump with the slightly less loud, much better coiffed Sir Alan Sugar, and now the British version is receiving recognition for not sucking. Which only makes sense. They're only on season three, so they haven't had a chance to scrape the bottom of the candidate barrel like the American version, and Sir Alan is not Trump. One of the clips on BBC's website has Sir Alan warning the candidates not to give him a line about how they're like him, because he won't go for it; meanwhile, Trump is all for kissing ass. And although I've never actually seen an episode of the British version, I might be able to safely assume that the firings are based on performance, and not on the capricious whims of a man who has long since disconnected himself from reality. Might be; this is, after all, still a reality show. Maybe NBC would be so good as to show a special Apprentice: British Invasion, much as the CW did for America's Next Top Model, and then American audiences could see what an award-winning Apprentice was like. On second thought, though, Trump would never let that happen, and the minute anyone told him about the British version, he'd start blaming Sir Alan for his show's declining ratings, claiming that the British version makes his look bad.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

24: I Still Don't Know What You Did in Denver

This week, Jack is on the trail of (and then inside the home of, and shooting guns at) some guy who freelances for Gredenko. Said freelancer manages to be both a decent guy and a scumbag, as he uses his Rain Man-ish brother Brady, a computer genius, to get some technical stuff from Gredenko, but he also makes it clear that he wouldn't be working with a guy like Gredenko if he wasn't trying to take care of his brother. Aww, sort of. By the way, when Brady was spouting technical jargon, did anyone else think that maybe he'd be a good match for Chloe? No? Just me? Okay, then. Anyway, as the freelancer gets in the way of a bullet when Jack barges in, Jack decides to set a trap for Gredenko using Brady. This immediately causes me to curl up in a little ball on the couch, repeating, "This is NOT going to end well," and generally preparing myself for Brady's grisly death due to Jack's plan. Yet, somehow, Brady lives, and acquits himself better than all manner of other civilian decoys used over the years, and, indeed, better than some red-shirted CTU agents. Thanks to him, Jack has Gredenko in custody. Well done, Brady. Now run, run while you still can!

At CTU, some random guy, so faceless as to have the name "Johnson," determines that Nadia really is innocent, and has evidence to prove it. So Nadia gets off, but not before Milo and Ricky Schroder have had a chance to scuffle, and Ricky has sneered at "Johnson," who apparently he knows from the shadowy Denver office, "You've screwed with the wrong guy for the last time." Yeah, Johnson! I mean, all those other times you screwed with the wrong guy were okay, but this time, you've crossed the line! And while we're on the subject, what the hell happened in Denver? I mean, aside from a lot of Johnson screwing with the wrong guy. Who did he screw, and what kind of screwing was it? At this point, I'm setting myself up for major disappointment when What Happened in Denver is finally revealed, because I keep imagining all these scenarios that couldn't possibly be real. Like, Ricky, Milo, and Johnson were driving around one night, and hit a guy, and dumped his body, and now they never speak of what happened. But here in LA, Buchanan manages to convince Nadia not to sue (she doesn't have much of a case anyway – as I said last week, everyone at CTU gets accused of treason at some point or another) and Milo and Nadia become the new Tony and Michelle when they break up/make out in the hallway. Ah, doomed CTU love.

The presidential storyline, meanwhile, is on loan from House or Grey's Anatomy this week, with the less-than-ethical medical decision that could end up backfiring and wracking the poor family member/doctor who ordered it with guilt (or not, if it's House we're talking about), and if this were either of those shows, that's exactly what would happen. But this is 24, and when Sandra Palmer agrees to try to wake up her brother, there's only a bit of tension, and then Wayne is magically, fully awake, and ready to take charge again. So, of course, the Vice President claims he's still woozy from being blown up, and looks to be on track to go all 25th Amendment on Wayne, just like they did with his brother. And I must admit, I'm a little suspicious of Wayne's miracle recovery, too, and this is a show filled with amazingly fast healing. What about the brain swelling? What about the fact that he was just in a coma? He's not even a little bit groggy? Ironically, the only injury on this show that seems to have any sort of lasting effect is the one that is least traumatic: whatever Milo did to his arm/shoulder to put it in the sling. Come on, Milo, you haven't recovered yet? You baby.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Grease - YTOTIW: They're the Ones that I Want!

Last week on Grease: You're the One that I Want, Derek was tragically eliminated. Oh, and Allie was booted out, too. This week, it's finale time, baby! Max, Austin, Ashley, and Laura are battling it out. Well…Max and Austin are battling it out. Laura's got this one in the bag. And hey, all the eliminated Greasers are back to sing “We Go Together!” Even those two sucky ones. How sweet.

Apparently, this week the panel is, in fact, “completely powerless.” So there will be no last-minute rules change leading to a Derek resurrection. Nuts. And I have to say, all the sketchy rules changes paid off in that really any two of these final four could do a solid job as Danny/Sandy, as the judges agree. Hear that, America? It doesn’t matter who you picked! They're all winners! Except for the two who end up losing, of course. Right.

I’m going to skip over all the recapping the competition so far crap, because recapping a recap is just a bit too meta for me. Although interestingly, Kathleen Marshall says that coming out of Grease Academy, she would’ve cast Juliana and Derek. Derek, yeah. But Juliana? Makes me wish we’d seen more of her. Watching the clips, it becomes increasingly apparent to me that this is tough for Max. I mean, if Austin loses, he’ll totally get cast in something, because he’s pretty conventional and seems like a pro. But Max kind of needs this to validate his quirkiness for future roles, doesn’t he?

The final contestants sing “You’re the One that I Want,” with the girls in Slutty Sandy™ skintight shiny pants. They’re all good, honestly, and this has become somewhat boring to recap as a result. Sorry, guys. I’ll start making up stuff to make it more interesting. So…Austin totally grabbed Ashley’s ass. And she slapped him. And, um, Ashley pulled out a hunk of Laura’s hair and screamed, “Brunettes can’t be Sandy!” at her. And then they made out. It was hot.

Okay, back to reality…Billy Bush claims we are “minutes away” from announcing the winners. Well, since there are 40 minutes left in the show, I kind of doubt that. Billy sits down to interview the finalists. They all give boring-ass answers about being supportive of each other, and how they’ve already won by making it to the finals. I’m calling bullshit on that one. And Ashley totally tries to suck up to the religious crowd one week too late by saying that “having God in [her] life” has helped her make it through the past week. The religious folks have already voted along with everyone else, Ashley, and they voted for the chick who sang “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Duh.

Now we get to hear all the losers singing “Born to Hand Jive.” Now, in the movie, this is the scene during the dance contest where the judges walk through and tap the eliminated couples on the shoulder. How awesome would it be if Billy Bush walked around doing the same thing, in the order contestants were originally eliminated? I should totally be a producer on this show—I’m full of gems like that one. Call me, David Ian! This performance really serves to remind everyone of just how awesome Derek is. What’s the stage version for “the camera loves [him]” on America’s Next Top Model? The spotlight loves him? Well he’s great, at any rate. He’s as great as Matt sucks, to put things in perspective.

Oooh, we’re getting the Sandy results already, and it’s only halfway through the show! Oh wait, just kidding, another boring montage of interviews and clips of stuff we’ve seen. Ashley actually tries to be all, “Boo hoo! I look so much like Sandy! It made things so hard for me!” Um, yeah. Not buying it. Watching Laura’s clips, you realize just how much she’s improved over the course of the competition, in terms of taking command of the stage.

Okay, so now we find out who’s Sandy. Aaaand…it’s Laura, to no one’s surprise (including Ashley, who looks like she completely expected it). Huzzah! She totally deserved it. I mean, Ashley was great too, but Laura has that extra something. I wonder if they’ll make her wear a blonde wig.

Onto the Danny’s. This is more suspenseful, but I’m gonna say it’s Max. Austin’s clips are obnoxious. He’s obviously really full of himself, all, “It would’ve been horrible if they’d sent Link from Hairspray back to New York!” and, “The judges obviously expected a lot of me,” blah blah blah egocakes. Watching Max’s audition makes me realize just how lucky he is to have made it this far, given how unconventional he is. He’s good, though—he’s good. And he has a really, really cute little brother. Really cute.

And the winning Danny is…Max! Right on, America. No need to award Austin’s smug creepiness. And Laura is totally psyched. I kind of want Austin to snap and start screaming “I’M DANNY!” and singing “Greased Lighting.” I’m still not 100% convinced Max can pull off Danny, but he’s perfectly solid, if a little unusual, and he’ll do fine. He’s no Derek, though. He’s no Derek.

And here we go—a performance of “Greased Lightning” by the eliminated Danny’s, with Max as the lead Danny. Interestingly, I think winning may have given Max the confidence to portray Danny convincingly, because he’s actually better than he has been. Hmm. And now we get Laura singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” What about the eliminated Sandy’s? Are they on strike because Laura won? Laura kills it, though—she’s awesome.

Finally, here come the eliminated contestants to sing “Summer Lovin’” with the new leads. And in comes the Broadway cast! They look…waaaay too old to be in high school. So much so that it’s pretty weird. And a little sad-looking. Is Rydell High full of students who are repeating their senior year for the twelfth time? I guess that’s normal for Broadway productions of Grease, though, right? Like, you can’t tell from the audience? Max and Laura come onstage in costume to sing a verse of “You’re the One that I Want” with the Broadway cast, and that’s it for the show! Anyone planning on seeing it on Broadway?

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The Amazing Race: Escape from the Johannesburg Airport

If you love airports, this is the episode for you. And, really, who doesn't like airports? The teams have to get from Maputo to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and they quickly find that all the flights are full. In fact, the only way to get there is through Johannesburg. Charla and Mirna manage to get out in front because they – well, I can't really say they figure it out first, but they go to Johannesburg first. And I place the blame for what happens in the rest of the episode - teams spread out far as they do or do not get on flights - on the producers. This is why they get charter flights and emergency backup reservations, to prevent huge gaps between teams. So the first half of the episode is basically devoted to teams standing around in the Johannesburg airport, begging to be let on planes, or, in the case of Eric and Danielle, being placed on a plane only to be cruelly ripped from it. Ha! Oh, I'm sorry. My schadenfreude really kicks in with this team. Maybe it has to do with the fact that, early in the episode, Eric confuses Tanzania and Tasmania, and yet the conversation still ends with him calling Danielle stupid. I'm not saying she's not, but they really don't have a healthy couple dynamic going. Does Eric even like her?

Meanwhile, I am more and more charmed by Oswald and Danny with each passing week. They earn themselves major points (with me, probably not with their driver, unless he's a PR fan) by joking with their driver, Andre, and using the Tim Gunn voice on him. On the way to Zanzibar, they joke around with Mirna and Charla, too, telling them to stay away from the bench they're working and claiming that they'll sell them for food, and the cousins… don't get it. Hey, I appreciate your jokes, boys.

Disappointingly, the cousins come in first again, all because Oswald and Danny stop for fruit. (At least they'll never get scurvy.) However, I did enjoy Phil having to explain the cousins' prize to them:

Phil: You've won a catamaran!
Charla and Mirna: Buh?
Phil: A catamaran! You know! A… boat with two hulls, joined by a frame? A catamaran?
Charla and Mirna: Muh?
Phil: Seriously, you don't know what a catamaran is? Are you –
Charla and Mirna: Our cat's breath smells like cat food.
Phil: Uh, never mind. How did you manage to come in first?

Phil also gives a massive eyebrow pop, like, visible from space, when introducing the Roadblock (throwing a traditional Masai rungu), so it's another good week for Phil overall. Anyway, thanks to the anti-bunch, the final two teams are obvious for most of the episode: Joe and Bill and Teri and Ian. The Guidos kick serious ass on the puzzle Detour, so they get to stay for another week, and Teri and Ian are eliminated.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: My Least Favorite Mistake

Last week on Grey's Anatomy: IZZIE AND GEORGE SLEPT TOGETHER!!!1! This week on Grey's Anatomy: Chaos and baggy, red-rimmed eyes ensue.

Let me break last night's episode down for you--


20% - The race for chief is heating up

7% - It would suck to be a human statue, especially if your daughter was creepily obsessed with dollhouses, and you had to put up with it because you were unable to move

5% - It would also suck to have your face smashed in, and then get amnesia and be unable to tell what you're supposed to look like when you need to choose a new face for plastic surgery

5% - Burktina are getting married after all

3% - Hungover George looks and smells terrible

Does anyone else feel like the first item might spell the beginning of Grey's Anatomy's slip from "Must See TV"-dom into "DVR and watch it later"-ville? I mean, a show can't last once all the main characters have slept with each other, right? Even Friends kept Phoebe celibate when it came to the other friends. Man, George sucks (and, apparently, smells bad and looks like crap when he's hungover). Poor Callie. Izzie sucks, too. Everyone sucks. Bailey should jump ship and join Addison in California or wherever. Then the two remaining awesome characters would be in one place.

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Ugly Betty: Marc's Very Own Episode

Okay, so you remember how in the Thanksgiving episode, Marc was going home to tell his family about his girlfriend who lives in Canada? Apparently, the role of Alberta was played, for three years, by Amanda, and Marc had to break up with her to avoid all the talk about marriage. This week, with his mom in town, Marc has to find a new pretend girlfriend, and Amanda, still miffed about getting dumped, foists Betty on him. And has Mama Weiner met Marc? On a flaming scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the gentle smolder of a George Takei and 10 being the towering inferno of a Carson Kressley, Marc is maybe a 9. Maybe Mama Weiner is from Ohio, where, according to Studio 60, all the clueless, culturally illiterate, closeminded parents hang out. So, as you'd expect, Marc and Betty get to know each other, strike up an alliance of sorts, have the world's second most awkward dinner (after this one), and Marc finally comes out to his mom. Who is mean, and can't deal with it. And sure, this subplot is as old as dirt, but it's both hysterical and heartbreaking, because all the assistants are in rare form - especially Marc. This is his episode, and he's already putting up curtains and rearranging the furniture, because he owns it. Don't worry about your mom, Marc – I'm sure my mom would love to adopt you.

In the ostensible main plot, there is yet another power struggle between Daniel, Alexis, and Wilhelmina, and Judith Light, handcuffed to a hospital bed, runs circles around all of them. She tries to force Daniel and Alexis to work together, and then delivers a forceful, albeit verbal, bitchslap to Wilhelmina. Because even when Claire is physically restrained, you don't mess with her. But Wil has not mastered this simple rule. After Claire says that no one but a Meade will run Mode, Wil sets out to seduce Bradford. You know this isn't going to end well, right, Wilhelmina? Claire will destroy you. Finally, Daniel closes the episode with a voiceover/montage about family, which is at least less vague than the summation you get in any given episode of Grey's Anatomy or Desperate Housewives, but that doesn't really help when I'm already so tired of the episode-ending voiceover summation. Hey, Ugly Betty, if Grey's Anatomy jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?

Meanwhile, I think I'm going to order one of those "Free Claire" shirts from Justin.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

ABC Gets an Early Start

Nothing wrong with a network picking up its shows early. ABC has already locked in 11 shows for next season, which means that we can cross Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and Desperate Housewives off our list of shows to watch out for come upfronts - if they were ever on the list, that is. And it's good news for Men in Trees fans, who I assume must exist somewhere, even though I personally have never met one (hello, MiT fan, and how are you?), because their show is coming back too. Oh, and don't worry, Liz: so is Boston Legal.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Digging for the Truth: He's Not Indy, But He's Got the Hat

I would probably watch Digging for the Truth anyway, because I really love history shows. I could happily watch hours of the History Channel, as long as I didn't run into any of those ubiquitous military or engineering shows. (Sorry, Dad.) But Digging for the Truth has something special – its host, Josh Bernstein, who moonlights as an Indiana Jones impersonator. It's fairly obvious that he really loves Indy, and he's taken the job that allows him to most nearly become Indy. He gets to explore interesting archaeological sites, he gets to go to exotic places, and, of course, he's got his own fedora. (The fedora is practically his co-host, since he only takes it off when he's riding a motorcycle or deep-sea diving. I imagine he wears it while snorkeling.) And this week's episode, on Petra, was kind of an homage to his hero, as he wasted no time in telling the viewers that this was where the end of Last Crusade was set. Yeah, sure, it's all pretty and stuff, and amazing that they carved it out of the solid cliff face… but Indy was here! Sweet! But I can't complain about Josh's Indy obsession, since it makes him a better host. He's adventurous, and, like all good hosts, especially the inestimable Mike Rowe, he's not afraid to get his hands dirty. This week he demonstrated Petran rock carving; last week he collected natron to make a mummy. That's Digging for the Truth: a little bit of history, a little bit of Dirty Jobs, and a little bit of getting you ready for Indy 4.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Top Design: See you later, Decorators. But hopefully not.

Don't you hate it when you get sucked into a reality show and feel like you have to keep watching so that you know what's going on, even though you don't actually enjoy watching the show? (Or is it just me that that happens to?) Although I haven't been blogging about it, I've been keeping up with Top Design (an interior design Project Runway clone on Bravo), despite the fact that it sucks as hard as Project Runway rocks.

First and foremost, Top Design relies way, WAY too heavily on group tasks, turning the show from a design competition into Clash of the Interior Designers. Each episode is a whiny mess of contestants feeling shut out from their team's creative process, contestants calling their teammates lazy, and contestants blaming their teammates for decisions they made. It sucks. If the challenges are too big for one designer to accomplish in a couple days, then give them more time. We want to see their individual styles!

Secondly, Todd Oldham is a lame mentor. I mean, everyone's a lame mentor when compared to Tim Gunn, but Todd is too buddy-buddy with the contestants, and needs to focus less on cheerleading and more on giving constructive criticism. He's not at all an influential part of the show. Todd- If you want to fall back into my favor, you need to guest star on 30 Rock as Kenneth's gay brother. For reals.

Finally, I couldn't care less about any of the contestants, or the final outcome of the show. I mean, I guess Goil is okay, but even he's a whiny baby half the time. Partly due to the plethora of team challenges, I have no clue who's really the top designer, and who's just coasting. This is also an editing problem, in that they have failed to make me care about any of the designers. I mean, I can't taste the food on Top Chef, but I still care who wins, right?

Last weekend, when I found myself fast-forwarding to the final reveals/judging rather than watch all the teammates bickering during the bulk of the episode, I realized that there is no good reason for me to watch this show. None. Thus, I'm out. Let me know who wins.

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24: Look Out, San Francisco, You're Next

As one of the few good Muslims on this show, Nadia was due to have her loyalty seriously questioned. I mean, come on, a few restrictions on her computer access? I get that at my work, and it's just because the execs don't want us to watch YouTube videos all day! So, to make up for Nadia's easy ride so far, the show this week accuses her of treason and tortures her. Which actually happens to everyone at CTU at some point, so it's not like it's totally due to racial profiling. And anyway, we all know she's innocent, because a) she's way too obvious, and b) Chloe reminded us that Nadia is still using Milo's login, which means that Milo is the real traitor. You know it has to be him. He disappeared for four seasons, and that facial hair is totally untrustworthy.

And if you're wondering what happened to Audrey, since The Nine got canceled and Kim Raver is now free – well, the official story is that Audrey is dead. Jack finds out this week that she "died" in a car accident in China, having figured out that the Chinese had captured him. You may sense some skepticism on my part. That's because Kim Raver is free, this is a very convenient story to be springing on us in the middle of the season, and IMDb does not agree that Audrey is dead, if you follow the link above. I suspect that Audrey is currently languishing in a Chinese prison, although what the Chinese want with her I couldn't guess. Jack does vow to track down the people responsible for "killing" Audrey, and I'd love to see that be the plot for season 7. Let's bring some mayhem and destruction overseas for once! Why should Los Angeles have all the fun?

Actually, San Francisco does get to join in this week (don't you feel lucky, Bay Areans?), because Jack nukes it. Just a little bit. See, when CTU (and Jack) invades the house where the guy piloting the drone with the nuke is hiding out, Jack takes over the controls. And I guess the Chinese didn't have any flight simulator games in their prison, because, while Jack does manage to keep the drone out of the city, he still biffs the landing a little bit. In the sense that the drone bursts into flames and leaks nuclear material. Which the Vice President decides is close enough to "another nuclear attack on our soil" that he orders a strike on the poor unnamed, unsuspecting Middle Eastern country whose only crime was letting Fayed and Assad be born there. He should really be ordering a nuclear strike on Jack, whose weak sauce flight simulator skillz let the radiation out in the first place. Besides, with his magical self-healing abilities, he'll barely feel it.

Oh, and Chloe is smooth like butter. Milo asks her to check Morris' breath, so she marches up and plants one on him, and then proceeds to tell him that she's checking his breath. Good old Chloe. After three and a half years, she still knows nothing about subterfuge or relationships.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Amazing Race: The Great Phil Chase

News flash: the beauty queens are kind of dumb. You remember how, a couple of weeks ago, they blew right past a Detour clue and continued on their merry way without it? Do you think that such an experience might have convinced them that they need to pay attention? Yeah, it didn't, because they do the same thing this week, completely missing the backpacks they need to complete an avalanche locator task and find a clue. They are, in fact, so dumb that even Charla and Mirna call them dumb, which is kind of like the pot calling the kettle stupid. Mirna doesn't know what an avalanche is and Charla attempts to speak Spanish to residents of Mozambique, because you could take them to London and they'd still try to speak Spanish to the locals. Ladies! You're all idiots! There's no need to fight!

This week, the teams leave South America, finally, and fly to Maputo, Mozambique, where we get what is, without a doubt, the coolest Roadblock involving rats ever. The teams use rats that are specially trained to find land mines to locate hidden clues. The rats are cute, have adorable names like Tupac, Norman, and Xena, and, of course, they're smart. If you had any doubts about that last part, Charla and Mirna's rat takes her own sweet time finding the clue, as though she's trying to get them eliminated. You'll have to try harder next time, Twinkletoes, because they come in first this leg. To be (un)fair, it's because the stronger teams chose the longer Detour, and not because of any smart racing they might have done. And I think I might have to give Phil a tip for pointing out that this is the first time ever that they finished first. I mean, I'm sure he didn't mean it that way (because Phil, inexplicably, doesn't not like them), but the subtext I get from that is: they suck at racing. Incidentally, as I was afraid would happen last week, Mirna is indeed taking credit for knocking Rob and Amber out of the race. Girl, I can only assume that the race gods are keeping you in it so as to more thoroughly humiliate you when you do get eliminated, and on that day, I will do a little dance. No, a big dance. It'll be a big dance.

Meanwhile, Eric and Danielle have apparently gotten into some sort of rivalry with Bill and Joe, because while Bill and Joe are, as they call it, a "kinder, gentler Guido," they still get stressed and nutty about little things on the race, and that's what Eric and Danielle are responding to. Eric goes so far as to call the Guidos a couple of old women past their prime, and yet, they still smoked you in a foot race, didn't they? Perhaps it's because they're on a team of two and not one, Eric. And they're capable of having charming conversations about underwear with Teri and Ian. Not that it matters, I just wanted to mention it.

This leg is non-elimination, so Uchenna and Joyce are now marked for elimination, just like last season – come in first or get a half-hour penalty. But first? Greatest! Mat! Scene! EVER! Oswald and Danny, filthy from rolling around in charcoal, run up at Phil, threatening to give him hugs, and Phil? Takes off. What follows is this hilarious chase across the lawn that should be set to some appropriately zany music, with Oswald and Danny running with arms outstretched, and Phil taking evasive action, wheeling and careening across the lawn. Phil eventually avoids the hug, but it's still one of the most randomly awesome moments ever on the race. If there is any justice left on this race, and not just random luck, Oswald and Danny will win and take Phil out dancing.

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Grease - YTOTIW: Shut up, America.

Last week on Grease: You're the One that I Want, Chad and his barely-above-average voice (but well-above-average cuteness) got the boot. This week, we'll hear the final competitive performances, and the field will be pared down to the final two. To kick off the night, we get a group sing of "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay," which is largely notable for the fact that 75% of the singing (all but the solo lines) is pre-recorded. Possibly not even by the contestants. Um, guys, if you can't sing and dance at the same time now, how are you supposed to do it in a few months on Broadway?

The panel is powerless tonight (until, I assume, America chooses wrong and they write a rule saying that the panel can resurrect a past contestant and pick him/her as the winner). The bottom two are Allie (duh) and Derek (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!). You SUCK HARDCORE, America. What the hell?! This is all kinds of lame (and Kathleen Marshall completely agrees, telling Derek that she’s sure they’ll work together on shows in the future). Austin is totally creepy, and Max is totally not Danny. Derek, if you want a shoulder to cry on (and then maybe someone to make out with), drop me a line. Here’s hoping they have that new rule written for next week.

Okay, moving on, we finally get some Grease songs. The girls take turns singing verses of “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” allowing us to compare them on the same song. Good call, show. And HA! They have these photos of “Danny” on the little desks they’re singing from, and they’re framed headshots of Max and Austin. Laura and Ashley are both really good, to be honest. I’d give the edge to Laura for emoting more, but they’re really both great.

Aww…Laura was supposed to get married next weekend (it’s postponed), and her fiancé sent in a really sweet video showing her the wedding plans he took care of since she was away. Ashley’s older sister sent in a way less touching, and in fact rather bitter and jealous video. And…apparently she’s here in person, since fans bought her a plane ticket out to LA. Wow, that's actually pretty impressive, Grease fans. But, um, what was the point of the video, then?

The guys are both singing “Sandy.” All I can think of is how much I’d rather see Derek singing it. They both have great voices, but if I were a producer, there’s no way I would put a multi-million dollar production on either of their shoulders. They just don’t have that Danny charisma/hotness. Austin chooses to emphasize how old he is in his interview (“Could be my last chance,” etc.), which I find to be a questionable tactic. Max tearfully talks about how he had bells palsy when he was younger, and I feel like an asshole for saying he’s not hot, or whatever. I guess he’s the de facto new favorite, since I still find Austin creepy. Also, apparently, there was only a 1% margin between the two guys last week. Interesting. I’m guessing Laura was way ahead of the other two girls.

And now…a “Duets Duel.” Austin and Ashley, and then Max and Laura sing “Endless Love,” because if there’s anything this show loves, it’s a cliché. And both pairs kiss! It’s not exactly hot. I’m not sure if I’m just hearing things, but I feel like both girls may have been a teensy bit pitchy at times. Laura’s body language with Max was more believable as a lover, and Austin was more believable as a leading man. And what’s the deal with the judges? Are they just here as set dressing? No opinionating? They’re really letting America loose without any hinting or prompting? Okay…it’s your show, not mine, guys.

Oh god, the second duet they’re singing is even barfier! It’s “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” and they’ve switched couples. Really, these couples are all so solid with their singing that it comes down to chemistry and stage presence. I have to give the edge to Laura (obvs.) and Austin (much as he still seems creepy to me, at least he’s holding my attention). Ashley lacks the presence, and Max just isn’t quite there yet.

Here we finally go, judge-wise. There's not really any criticism, but Kathleen picks Max and Laura as the most believable greaser/high school sweetheart. Jim picks Max and Laura as well. Aaaand...Ian picks Max and Laura as well. Max must be a really good actor, is all I can assume. Derek’s sing-out makes me hate America all the more. His soulful eyes see deep into my heart! Goddamit, America.

I have to say, based on Google referral stats alone, I predict that the judges will get their way and Max and Laura will win. (Pretty much no one has showed up here searching for "Ashley," tons have searched for "Laura" and "Max," and most of the "Austin" searchers combine his name with search terms like "gay" and "sucks.") See you next week with a recap of the finale!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Veronica Mars: Let's Do the Time Warp?

According to a Yahoo report, Rob Thomas and crew are considering moving the Veronica Mars timeline ahead a few years after this season, ending up with Veronica at the FBI Academy for season four. And as fun as it would be to see Veronica showing up all her instructors and making enemies at the Academy, I don't know that I'm ready to give up on the current Veronica Mars world. I enjoy the small-town politics of Neptune, and it always adds a lot to the cases, because of the potential connections between everyone in town. Not to mention the opportunities the Marses used to have to butt heads with the idiot sheriff. (Sniff!) And if Veronica leaves, what happens to her friends? Where do Wallace and Mac go? I mean, aside from the place they've been disappearing to. I really don't want Veronica to spend even less time with them. And then there's Logan, who they'd probably have to leave behind in Neptune.

Wait. Hooray, they'd have to leave Logan behind in Neptune! This could actually work out great!

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Ugly Betty: Hey, That One Show Is Back!

Welcome back! It seems like forever since we've had a new episode, doesn't it? I blame Meredith. She dies and the whole ABC schedule suffers for it. But it's not like we've missed anything over the break. Betty is still pining for Henry, Lucy Liu is still cheating on Bender with Daniel, Wilhelmina is still plotting to take over Mode, Constance the Case Worker is still nuts, Claire is still the queen of all murderous lushes, and Alexis still really hates Bradford. The only person who's done anything different while on break is Charlie, who's turned herself into a hippie-dippy astrologer/part-time cake hater. They must really be trying to get us to hate her, because who doesn't like cake, and I don't even know what she was saying with that whole purple moon-color couch jibber-jabber, but it sounded annoying. And whatever happened to the whole "hey, she's not so bad, and she and Betty seem to get along" thing? That lasted all of five minutes. But it's all kind of moot, now that Claire has helped Betty see that she's on the road to cutting Charlie's brake lines and toasting marshmallows on the burning wreck of her car if she doesn't do something – so Betty cuts Henry out of her life. And, yes, it's sad, but it's not like it's going to cut down on all the longing looks. Hey, at least her orthodontist is sweet, and it's nice to see that guy get work after The Class. (Yes, I know it's not technically cancelled.)

Meanwhile, everyone finds out about Claire's murderous secret. Lucy Liu finds out, but is confident that she can defend her, Alexis finds out after having driven Lucy away, and then the police find out, because Claire tells them. Naturally, they haul her off to jail, and for me, it's bittersweet. I don't want to see Judith Light go, but as Claire nearly hands Constance the Case Worker's ass to her earlier in the episode, I can bid her goodbye knowing that she'll be just fine in prison. Next time we see her, she'll have a gang.

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Grey's Anatomy: People...who need peeeople...

Last time on Grey's Anatomy: Meredith didn't die. But her mom did. This week on Grey's Anatomy: blah blah blah my people blah blah IZZIE AND GEORGE SLEEP TOGETHER. Yeah. Let's break it down:

Meredith, who has a new lease on life (...again), lets Alex move into George's old room, because she's trying to be nice to her "people," or something. Izzie is afraid this means George won't have anywhere to go when his marriage inevitably falls apart. Thanks to some serious pushing by her dad's wife and a truly awkward dinner, by the end of the episode Meredith has the beginnings of family instead of just "people." Which is good, because her people are in trooouble.

Case in point: Cristina, whose engagement with Burke is in serious peril. Turns out, Cristina is one of those students...the ones who sleep with their professors. Or, in this case, have a three-year-long relationship with their professor, reject multiple marriage proposals from said professor due to a disbelief in the institution of marriage, and move to Seattle and start sleeping with their attending. Which is all well and good, but a bit more awkward when said professor turns out to not only be a legendary thoracic surgeon, but also a candidate for Chief. (And, I'm pretty sure, played by Lord John Marbury from The West Wing, which is pretty funny.) None of this bodes well for Burktina.

George and Izzie (and George and Callie) are also in trouble after Callie makes the mistake of angrily telling George she thinks Izzie likes him. Likes him, likes him. George laughs all over her, pointing out how hot and out of his league Izzie is, which...true, but probably not something you want to say to your wife. Especially when one of the only things you can come up with to compliment her after that slap in the face is that she's "curvy." Yeesh. So yeah, flash forward to George and Izzie getting sloshed and waking up naked the next morning. Oh, and Callie is apparently totally rich. Because things weren't complicated enough.

In other news, all the attendings are fighting over the Chief's job and trying to impress/intimidate the new candidate. It gets a little ugly, and by the end of the episode the Chief seems to be leaning toward just giving the spot to the new guy. Oh, and did anyone else laugh until they cried when Derek gave that whole speech to Meredith's dad about how "she's worth" all the trouble it takes to get close to her? Because wow. She really, really doesn't seem like she's worth it. How does this whiny chick have so many friends, aside from paying them off with nice rooms in her house?

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

ANTM: Sour, then Sweet

Last week on America’s Next Top Model, Samantha got the boot for being boring, and Natasha got saved by her horrible personality. Justice, thy name is not Tyra. Back at the mansion, new buddies Diana and Whitney discuss plus-size model-dom, and Cassandra joins the list of girls who think they can compete AND be nice to people. What is with this group?! At this rate, Renee will have to make up for a LOT of missing bitchiness in the other girls. Oh, and Jael continues to be quirky and scantily-dressed.

Tyra Mail (!) informs them that they’ll be getting makeovers tomorrow. Brittany seals her painful fate by saying, “they can do whatever they want, and I won’t be upset.” The next day, they arrive at a salon and are met by a pajama- and curler-wearing Tyra, who preemptively mocks the whiny girls (or postemptively mocks past contestants).

Jael gets assigned long, brown hair. It’s apparently painful as hell to get the weave put in, and Jael is worried she’ll become normal-looking (I can sympathize with that, as another person who hates to blend in with the crowd). Then, DISASTER. Orange Jay and Tyra decide via conference call that the weave isn’t working. After eight hours of painful weave installation, the whole thing gets taken out. Jael ends up with a really short brown cut that puts a lot of pressure on her not-that-hot (and rather mannishly-built) face, and not-that-clear skin. But, despite the pain, she seems determined to rock it.

Cassandra has her sewn-on wig removed, and gets a long, curly afro weave. It looks really fake and high-maintenance. Renee gets a haircut that, no matter how long I look at it, I cannot puzzle out. It’s short on one side, but long on the other; and short on the top, but long in the back and front. Like some kind of weird, sideways and upside-down mullet. I think they crossed the “edgy” line and landed at “Flock of Seagulls.”

Whitney gets her weave replaced with a bigger weave. It looks like…more hair, mostly. Diana goes blonder and longer, and ends up looking pretty much the same to me. (Unfortunately, it turns out to be one of those evil, mind-control, bitch-creating weaves. (Spoiler alert!)) Felicia gets fivehead-covering bangs and long, black hair, I assume in an attempt to make her look less Tyra Banks: The Younger, Slimmer Years. It ends up looking pretty weird to me, but maybe I’ll get used to it.

Dionne gets short hair, and handles the chop like a pro. She looks great! Sarah stays short, but goes light brown. I liked her hair before, so I’ll say she still looks great. Not a drastic improvement, but maybe it’ll help her photos pop more or something. Jaslene’s hair gets more body woven in, and she ends up looking like an anorexic porn star.

Brittany gets big, wavy red hair. It looks like a really painful process. And I have to say, I loved her haircut before (it isn’t really shown off in the “before” picture, but trust me, it was super-cute). The new hair just looks excessive. Natasha gets shoulder-length brown hair, and it ends up looking really fake and weird. Like, Cher’s hair fake and weird. And Natasha, you are nowhere near cool enough to pull it off, unlike Cher.

Brittany’s new hair hurts and itches, and she’s apparently a crier. Yeesh. Diana and Whitney are fairly unsympathetic, with Whitney being unsympathetic to her face. Brittany soon loses her status as Top Crier to poor Jael, who finds out that a close friend of hers overdosed and died. Shit, that’s rough. Modeling stops for no one, though, and the girls head out to a big garden. Brittany is feeling sick (graft-versus-host?), but Jael and Sarah convince her to soldier on, despite Renee’s not-so-subtle (and totally sabatoge-tastic) suggestion to skip the challenge and go sleep it off.

The girls are met by a Covergirl makeup artist and Seventeen Magazine’s entertainment director. The winner of this challenge will get a spread in Seventeen, a prize which is totally equal to last week’s giant ugly trophy and the week before’s giant check to Goodwill. Sucks to be Brittany and Jael right now. And not just because of the barfing and the dead friend. They all get spring dresses (Whitney and Diana have trouble finding ones that fit), and have ten minutes to “create a clean, colorful look using Covergirl’s spring color collection.” Ready? GO!

They run all over the gardens, and Brittany pukes a little. Gross, but way to play through the pain, Brit. Cassandra, unfortunately doesn’t make it back in time. Natasha put on so much makeup that she looks like a clown. Brittany wins, I’d imagine at least partly due to her makeup-ready skin tone. She picks Jael and Sarah to share, since they convinced her to do the challenge even though she was sick. Renee pulls out that tired “she’s not that good anyway, and she may have won this little battle, but I’ll win the war” crap while the three winners model hair accessories for the Seventeen shoot.

Tyra Mail! “Sundae is not just a day of rest.” Dear god, are they going to let the models eat ice cream? This is madness. Meanwhile, Renee bitches to Diana about Brittany, calling her fake. Diana agrees that Brittany is not to be trusted. Brittany calls Renee out for talking about her behind her back, and handles it in a pretty classy way, saying, “The walls in a house full of women are paper thin…that’s all I’m gonna say.” Renee answers that she’s been nothing but nice and genuine to Brittany, and interviews all bitter about being called out for her bitchiness. She actually calls Brittany “pious” for being pissed off. Plus, she flips Brittany off! To her face! I’m getting shades of an only slightly smarter, only slightly bitchier Jade, here.

In CariDee’s Life as a Covergirl…eh, it’s all boring, no one cares, I’m not even gonna bother writing about it anymore. Back at the mansion, Jael cries in the pool, and Brittany and Sarah try and comfort her. Renee and Diana sit further back, watching them and talking about how much they hate Brittany. Diana actually says, “I can’t stand the bitch, either.” Uncool, Diana. That weave must be strangling the formerly likeable part of your brain. Renee says that Jael needs to “go through what she needs to go through,” and “doesn’t need a bunch of fake bitches running around her trying to be her friend.” Wow. Was this woman neglected horribly as a child, or something? ‘Cause damn, that’s cold.

Speaking of cold, the girls head (in their gas guzzler) to a studio decked out with dessert-themed decorations for a nude shoot in which the girls will be decorated as candy. Because, you see, Orange Jay and Tyra both love ice cream. [Insert Tyra Banks fat joke here.] Brittany’s not psyched about the nude thing, but she’ll “deal.” She interviews that her parents will be pissed, and tells the others that she doesn’t want to do it. Dionne wisely interviews that Brittany should stop pouting around like a little kid and get over it. Word, Dionne. Word.

This may be the weirdest Top Model shoot yet! Cassandra, portraying jelly beans, has crap painted on her, is holding a handful of ice cream, and is essentially straddling a giant ice cream sundae. Naked. WHAT THE HELL?!?! Orange Jay says that Cassandra needs to practice her expressions in the mirror, and the judges think her pose is somewhat unfortunate. Brittany, meanwhile, says her hands won’t “react well” to the ice cream. Jesus Christ. Now I just hate everyone.

Sarah does a great job as hard candy. Her photo turns out great, despite the Cats-like makeup. The judges love her fierce eyes. Dionne is a candy cane, and actually thinks she’s more comfortable posing nude. Orange Jay and I have the same “O…kaaay…” reaction. Her photo is really good, and the judges say she’s one of the few who made the concept fun. Brittany gets the “wah wah” goofy music as she whines that she’s freezing. However, despite the whining, she totally rocks the banana split look. When the judges compliment her hair, she tells them that it hurts, and hilariously, they ignore her and move onto the photo when she starts wiping away tears. Awesome. They love the photo, though.

Diana is gummy bears, and Jay thinks she also needs mirror time, telling her to suck in the fat. She interviews that she’s not that comfortable with nudity, and isn’t the same shape as Jaslene. Thank god! Nigel likes her face, but not the long shot. Neeko doesn’t think she’s comfortable with herself—would he say that to a skinny model? Tyra asks why Diana’s so “introverted,” and Diana quietly says, “I don’t know.” Looks like we’ve got a no personality gal here! And god knows that on Top Model, if you’re plus-size AND don’t have a huge personality, you’re shit out of luck.

Renee, unfortunately, rocks the candy necklace look. The judges think her eyes lack in fierceness, though, so HA. Whitney is a “chocolate kiss” (I guess Hershey’s wasn’t willing to shell out for a product placement in the nude), and her shot turns out a bit stiff, according to me and the judges.

Jael is birthday cake, and I seriously can’t even evaluate this crap. It’s just too hilarious. I mean, chick is covered in frosting wearing an ice cream cone hat, naked, with insane amounts of colored makeup, essentially humping a giant ice cream sundae. COME ON! The judges think the photo is great, and her expression is “commanding,” but I just can’t stop laughing. And then Jael dedicates her photo to her dead friend, and I feel like a bitch for laughing. Felicia is a lollipop, and keeps giving the same expression. Ruh-roh. The judges end loving her photo, but holy crap, you guys, the lollipop they drew in her crotch is SO a replacement penis. WHAT IS THIS SHIT?!

Jaslene is dulce de leche, and is SO SKINNY. Yuck. Her photo is great, but the torso is painfully, disgustingly skeletal. UGH. The judges dink her for not looking like a model in person (word), but say the camera loves her. Tyra tries to teach Jaslene the fine art of turning off and on one’s ethnicity, but it looks like she’ll be getting the no personality edit anyway. Natasha does a fair job as gumballs. Sarah, watching her, says, “She looks like Kate Moss!” Renee shoots back, “No, she doesn’t…do you know who Kate Moss is?” And Sarah gives her this amazingly incredulous look that’s just magic. You’re back on the nice list, Sarah. Although I have to say…Natasha and Kate Moss? Not dead ringers. The judges like Natasha’s picture, but not her film. Apparently, she’s over-thinking things.

Before judging, Whitney prayed with Jael to have her pain taken away. Aww. And during judging, Jael cries and tells the judges about her friend. They’re very understanding, but not so understanding to the girls who pulled their hair back and hid their makeovers. Which is pretty funny, considering that in past seasons they always said that girls should pull their hair back during judging so that they look like models. Way to punish them for doing their homework, Tyra. During solo deliberation, the judges give props to Jael, Dionne, Sarah, and Brittany. They don’t love Whitney (pretty girl, but not a model) and Cassandra.

Brittany, Jael, Sarah, Dionne, Felicia, Renee, Whitney, Natasha, and Jaslene are in. Diana and Cassandra are in the bottom. Tyra thinks Diana isn’t standing out enough, and Cassandra (while a beautiful, kind, strength-giving person) isn’t taking good photos. Diana’s still in, and Cassandra’s gone, because Tyra is newly sympathetic to curvy girls these days.

Next week on America’s Next Top Model: Unitards and lasers. ‘Nuff said.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ANTM: High School Hijinks

Last episode on America’s Next Top Model, my favorite dummy, Kathleen, was eliminated. Aww. We join the girls as Samantha writes in a notebook, something she says she does whenever she’s stressed. Does anyone else have visions of Harriet the Spy, when the other kids read what Harriet’s been writing about them? Samantha had better watch her back.

Tyra Mail! “Babies learn how to do it…can you?” Runway walk day! The girls go to a high school, where they are welcomed by a marching band led by Miss Jay. The band is there to teach them about precision, or wearing absurd outfits in public, or whatever models do. The girls practice their walks in front of Miss Jay. Renee calls Jaslene “Little Miss Cha Cha” in an interview, which is…kind of racist, right? You suck double, Renee. Jaslene, though, does have a very high opinion of her walking skills. They practice choreographing walks with more than one girl on the runway at a time. Wow, would I suck at this. And so do many of the girls.

They all head to the gym, where they are met by a fashion show producer who tells them about their challenge: To compete in a prom-themed fashion show at the high school. In front of high-schoolers. HA! They will be wearing contemporary, 80’s, and “ghetto fabulous” looks, and will walk in groups of three (with choreographed crossings and stuff). The show is about what you’d expect, but with less tripping and falling than you’d hope for.

Natasha doesn’t pay attention to what the other two girls are doing, and Diana keeps looking down. Sarah does a good job at first, but then completely exposes herself in front of hundreds of high-schoolers (and their parents). Oops. There’s a good amount of bumping into each other, too. Jaslene isn’t as good as she thinks the is…in fact, she was the worst, according to the producer. Snap! Brittany wins, and gets a totally ridiculous trophy. Um…score? So far this cycle, the challenge-winners have won the opportunity to give away almost $300, and a giant ugly trophy. That’s pretty impressively worse than past cycles’ prizes (clothes, jewelry, spa treatments…).

Felecia chats with Whitney a bit about how Jaslene got knocked down a peg, and Jaslene overhears them and gets all dramatic. Whatever, Jaslene. Go call home and cry about it. Oh, wait, she totally is. Moving on, CariDee’s life as a Covergirl is…boring. Something about a “Heatherette” show. I’d Google it, but I don’t even care.

The girls head back to the high school for their photo shoot, where they’ll be portraying high school clichés. Renee is the class clown, and is mighty “piffed” at the assignment. Is that like pissed/miffed? Totally awesome, unlike Renee’s bad attitude…and her ridiculous outfit. Like, magenta boob cups ridiculous. I feel like they’re staring at me! She does a terrible job. The judges think her best photo is good, but not great. I think it makes her face look ugly.

Whitney is the mean girl, and does fine, but could’ve done more. The judges don’t think she showed enough range. Jael is the bookworm, and rocks the cool nerd look. Nicely done, although I’d submit that her outfit isn’t really nerdy so much as indie-fabulous. The judges really like her photo.

Felicia is playing the jock. She rocks it, and the judges agree. Cassandra is a rather dull cheerleader. The judges think she didn’t take it far enough. I totally would’ve stuffed a jacket down my outfit and been the pregnant cheerleader. Oh, wait, her outfit is completely unbuttoned, so it’s actually too slutty to pretend to be pregnant. Wrap your mind around that.
Jaslene does a great job playing the school weirdo. Renee tearfully interviews that she could’ve rocked an easy look like “weirdo.” Whatever, Renee. The photo is fierce, but Jaslene takes away from it by crying to the judges and talking about how mean the other girls are to her. God, Jaslene—for someone who’s tried out for this show multiple times, you sure haven’t watched it much, have you? Crying in front of the judges is never a good move in the long run.

Diana plays the student body president. She’s pretty average (possibly weighed down by a terrible beret), but manages to turn out a good photo that the judges like. Brittany does a good job as the valedictorian, and the judges agree. But can we take a minute to discuss how incredibly absurd her outfit is? Giant, shiny, puffy red shirt complete with huge bow at neck? Check. Stripy green bubble skirt? Check. Opaque tights with shoes imported from Victorian England? Check. Way to model through the crappy outfit, Brittany. That’ll teach Renee to be a whiner.

Dionne plays the bad girl, and only does okay. The judges really like her photo, though. Natasha is the teacher’s pet. She doesn’t understand the assignment. Or how to model. She blames it on poor English, but I think it’s mostly big hair and lack of talent weighing her down. Her photo isn’t too good, and Orange Jay calls her the “worst in Top Model history to direct.” Eat that, Natasha. (Just kidding, of course. There's obviously no eating allowed on the Top Model set.)

Sarah plays the class flirt, and over-thinks things a bit. The judges think it’s a good shot, but a little too sexy. Samantha is a girl with a bad reputation (as opposed to a “mean girl,” “bad girl,” or “class flirt”), and isn’t totally feeling the slut vibe. Renee, again, tearfully says that she could’ve done better. You suck, Renee. The judges find Samantha’s photo lacking in trampiness.

In the judging room, the judges deliberate alone. They love Brittany, Jaslene, and Felicia. Not so much Natasha and Samantha. Jaslene, Felicia, Diana, Renee, Brittany, Cassandra, Dionne, Jael, Whitney, and Sarah are in. According to Tyra, Samantha seems too young and lacks personality, and Natasha can’t take a good photo. Natasha gets to stay, goddammit. Because she has beauty on the inside, or some shit, even though Samantha takes better photos.

Tonight: Makeover makeover, makeover makeover, makeover makeover, MAKEOVER!!! (For you and meeee…)

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ANTM: Cycle Premiere, Part Deux

Last hour on America’s Next Top Model, we got our thirteen finalists. This hour, we join the girls as they wander aimlessly around Hollywood until they are met by a randomly motorcycle-riding Orange Jay, who takes them to their first photo shoot. Jay assigns each of them a different political view to express in their photo…interesting! Could Top Model actually turn out a thoughtful, intelligent discussion on politics? (Spoiler alert: NO.) And the photographer is Nigel. Commence shameless macking on hot potential models…NOW!

Kathleen portrays an anti-fur point of view. She says fur “makes you look hot.” Goddammit. She does a pretty crappy job, probably because she’s a baby seal-hating biatch. She then hilariously tells the judges that you should only make fur out of already-dead animals who died fighting in the jungle or something. She’s so dumb I almost feel bad making fun of her. Almost. The judges don’t think she quite understood the concept, and she completely agrees with them. Brittany is portraying a pro-fur point of view. (BOO!) She does a nice job, but gets on my naughty list by saying she doesn’t really have a problem with fur. According to the judges, her photo isn’t too shabby.

Natasha is supposed to be pro-choice, but doesn’t understand what it means. Or how to model. The judges don’t think she connected with the camera enough, and that her picture probably had a camel toe before they airbrushed it out. …Okay, that last part was just me. But it’s still a valid point. Jael is portraying an anti-choice (okay, okay, they call it “pro-life”) point of view, and apparently has a terrible cold. It affects her performance, but the energy she saved by not giving it her all during the shoot is put to good use…hula hooping afterwards. …Riiiiight. The judges don’t think her picture conveys the message enough.

Sarah is portraying what most normal people would call an “anti-death penalty” point of view, but what Orange Jay calls a “pro-life in prison” point of view. Whatever, Orange Jay. She turns out to be the worst kind of show-off—one who doesn’t have the goods to back it up. The judges think she didn’t do enough with the assignment. Jaslene is portraying the pro-death penalty side, and has to pose as a creepy executioner. She does a great job, though, and the judges agree. I have to say, I didn’t think she had it in her!

Felicia’s photo (much like Sarah’s “pro-life in prison” photo) is pro-straight marriage, rather than against gay marriage. O…kay. I’m not sure this is living up to Tyra’s “most controversial shoot ever” teaser. She’s pretty blah, but the judges think her photo turned out well. Whitney and Samantha are representing the pro-gay marriage point of view, and they pose as a couple. Whitney says that playing basketball at Dartmouth helped with her lesbian portrayal. HA! I love Whitney. Samantha’s not as comfy with the idea of being with a chick. The judges think they did a good job, but didn’t take direction well enough movement-wise. Especially Whitney. Nuts.

Dionne is portraying a vegan (REPRESENT!!!). She’s more “hot chick wearing fruit” than “hot chick who’s against exploiting animals,” but whatever. The judges think it’s an okay picture, but not strong enough. Cassandra is doing the carnivore thing, and the buffet table of meat they have set up for her to pose with is very, very yucky. I’m too distracted by her tearing apart that roasted chicken to notice her performance. I think the chicken may have died in vain, though. The judges disagree, and like her shot. Can I just say that Cassandra may be this season’s Furonda, in that she is inexplicably far uglier in person than in her styled pictures?

Renee is representing the anti-gun lobby, and mistakes “peaceful” for “hot babe dressed as a hippie posing for Maxim.” The judges don’t love her performance, so she turns on the waterworks talking about her son. You suck, Renee. Diana is representing the NRA, and doesn’t commit enough, according to Orange Jay. And yeah, her picture may be the worst of the bunch. The judges peg her with the dreaded Dead Eye.

Overall, Orange Jay thinks the girls need to step it up. Downstairs, a stretch Hummer is waiting to take them to their giant mansion, where the theme is former Top Model contestants. How meta. We get a quick glimpse of CariDee in the latest My Life as a Covergirl, where she…pimps a sweepstakes or something. How disappointing.

The girls frolic in their new digs, making friends and taking pictures. Renee and Jael are newly BFF, Kathleen is surprisingly complimentary of the other girls in the course of the usual “it’s not called America’s Next Top Best Friend” speech, and Sarah is still an obnoxious braggart.

Tyra Mail! “One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.” Oh, HELL yeah, they’re going to Goodwill, one of my favorite places in the world! Phillip Bloch, “stylist to the stars” and skinny moustache-wearer extraordinaire, meets them there along with Miss Jay. Their challenge is to find a look for themselves in three minutes. My advice: head to the kids’ section. Most of these chicks are waaay too skinny to find clothes that fit them at an average Goodwill, even one in LA.

The girls do a charity fashion show in their Goodwill looks outside, and the outfits are auctioned off, with the highest-priced outfit determining the winner. In my opinion, Jaslene and Jael were the best, and Whitney was the worst. In the auction’s opinion, Jael was the best. Right on, auction. Renee thinks it was totally unfair because Jael is a thrift shopper as a hobby, and that skill has nothing to do with modeling. Right, because style has nothing to do with modeling. Poor, stupid Jael wants everyone to love her, and Renee isn’t complying. They are no longer BFF.

Judging time. The judges like Jaslene, Brittany, Samantha, Felecia, and Cassandra’s photos best. They think everyone else was flat this week. Jaslene, Brittany, Felecia, Diana, Samantha, Cassandra, Renee, Sarah, Dionne, Whitney, and Natasha are in. Tyra says that Kathleen is too dumb (in only slightly nicer words), and Jael isn’t ambitious enough. Jael is still in, and Kathleen gets the boot. Nuts! She was clueless, but I kind of liked her.

Stay tuned later today for a recap of the second episode!

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Miscellaneous Show Updates

Law & Order: The granddaddy of NBC shows, the Jerry Orbach to the rest of the network's... parade of younger detectives that Briscoe worked with (Chris Noth? Jesse L. Martin?), may finally be retiring after 17 seasons. And, really, it's time. The show is already older than some American Idol contestants. I can't even remember TV without it. (I do, however, remember TV without Vincent D'Onofrio, and I would like to reexperience that.) But, you know, it'll never really be gone - not as long as TNT still shows 47 episodes per day. That chung-chung sound is never going away.

Scrubs: Definitely coming back for a seventh season - hooray! The only question is which network it'll be on. I'm half hoping that ABC will pick it up instead, because I have to believe that ABC will treat it better than NBC, which is moving Scrubs around, again.

The Amazing Race: Rob and Amber claim in an interview that Charla and Mirna spent twenty minutes searching for the clue after Amber's infamous lie. Hee hee heeeee! I'm sorry, that was mean. Anyway, I have to actually agree with Rob (I know!) that Colin and Christie would have made a great All-Star team, much better than the cousins. They're actually good racers, and it's not like Colin won't bring the drama. His ox is broken!

Heroes: Plenty of tantalizing tidbits from the panel discussion at the Paley Festival, including a Justice League/Super Best Friends-type thing that Linderman was once part of. And the burning question comes up again, courtesy of Hayden Panettiere: Why isn't Greg Grunberg in a comedy? Girl, seriously.

Ugly Betty: Thank you, Vanessa Williams, for yelling "Marc!" so much.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ANTM: New cycle, new crop of skinny bitches...

After some hard work in front of the television this weekend, I am finally caught up on all the TV I’ve been missing! So, without further ado, Part One of the America’s Next Top Model season premiere:

The 33 semi-finalists arrive at some sort of army base (have recruitment standards really dropped that much?), and Miss Jay and Orange Jay arrive on the back of an army truck. The army is really taking “don’t ask, don’t tell” to a whole new level here. Oh, wait…it’s Top Model Boot Camp, where the Jays will get the girls into shape to meet Tyra. Let me just stop here and say that some of these girls are Not Hot. Russian chick with ginormous hair, I’m looking at you.

The contestants have a quick posing competition, and have their measurements taken (no more weigh-ins in the post-Janice era). Looks like we’ve got a couple plus-size gals…interesting. The girls have to march around in hysterical combat boots with high heels, and I remember why I love this completely absurd show so much.

And here comes Tyra, doing the craziest damn march you’ve ever seen, making weird grunting noises and being totally spastic. I…don’t understand what’s going on, but I really love Tyra right now, for some reason. Tyra tells the shrieking girls that she wants them to “be all you can be, not bitch all you can bitch.” Does she mean bitch as in complain, or as in be mean? Actually, it doesn’t matter. They’re both impossible to avoid on this show.

And now it’s time for the casting room! Notably weird are hairdresser Kathleen, who FLIPS THE HELL OUT when she meets Tyra; Cassandra, who was clearly dressed by a drunken monkey and has a wig sewn onto her head; obnoxious know-it-all and mail order bride Natasha (the aforementioned Russian chick with huge hair); heavily-tattooed Micheline, who somehow got lost on her way to the America’s Next Top Suicide Girl competition; Jessica, who gets into some sort of ghetto talk fight with Tyra; and Jael, who is not even unconventionally hot and who turns into a complete crybaby in Tyra’s presence. Also, we have seen some amazing weaves today, you guys. Amazing weaves.

Notably good are Sarah, who seems like a giant show-off but looks like a model; Brittany, who seems pretty cool and has super-cute hair; and Whitney and Diana, the plus-size contestants who both have great attitudes about changing the industry along with gorgeous bodies.

CariDee’s first My Life as a Covergirl is disappointingly voice-over-y. Boo.

Time for first cuts! The 20 girls chosen to stay will attend a Mark Ecko fashion show party thing, and have their pictures taken. Kathleen, Sarah, Brittany, Natasha, Cassandra, Diana, Whitney, Jael, and a bunch of other random chicks are in. Micheline and Jessica, not so much.

Post-party, Tyra and the Jays check out the pictures taken. Kathleen’s party picture is fantastic, as is Sarah’s. Also, the Best Conversation Ever occurs when Tyra compares one girl’s picture to an early Janice Dickinson magazine cover, and they discuss how many covers Janice has had:

Orange Jay: I mean, she has 85 o them.
Tyra: 127.
Miss Jay: It’s 132.
Tyra: It was a million.

The next cut will take us from 20 semifinalists to 13 finalists. Natasha is in, goddammit. So are Kathleen, Sarah, Cassandra, Renee (good-looking, but self-proclaimed bitch), Samantha (small-town girl with Brooke Shields eyebrows), Dionne (…talkative), Whitney, Brittany, Felicia (mini-Tyra), Jael (already annoying), Jaslene (who didn’t make the cut last year), and Diana. Yay, first ever cycle with two plus-size girls! Good on you, Tyra. Good on you.

That’s all for today…tune in tomorrow for part two of the premiere!

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24: Kiwi and Bananas

Move over, Jack Bauer – this episode belongs to Martha Logan. And I am completely fine with that, because I've missed that crazy FLOTUS. As is standard for this show, Martha is their only chance to avoid war: the U.S. is going to invade the Russian consulate if Martha can't get Mrs. Suvarov on the phone and convince her husband to give up Markov. The Veep, by the way, is totally fine with invading the consulate and more or less going to war with Russia, just as he is cool with nuking the hell out of whatever unnamed, and entirely innocent, Middle Eastern country Assad was from. I think his plan is to bomb everyone he can and shoot in the face anyone who's left. Unfortunately for the Veep, he won't get to start by picking a fight with Russia, as CTU ends up storming the consulate with the Russian president's blessing. Well, that's one way to have your consulate-invading cake and eat it, too. Well played, writers. I assume that blessing retroactively includes Jack, too, so that we don't have to send Jack to a Siberian gulag?

But, for me, all of that pales in comparison to the Martha/Aaron/Logan scenes. They're tense, awkward, and filled with Martha, the actively crazy, trying to poke Logan's sleeping crazy. She does everything she can to drag the old Logan out - throws her relationship with Aaron in his face, accuses him of ulterior motives, throws kiwi at him – but none of it works. So she resorts to stabbing him in the neck. I told you she was still crazy. While Logan's stab wound is pretty bad, he appears to die of a broken heart instead. Aww. Poor Logan. So I guess he really was reformed after all. That's... mildly disappointing. I was hoping to see him evil one last time. Ah, well. So long, you magnificent ex-bastard.

Also in this episode: Ricky Schroder shows up to confuse me, because wasn't he Rick Schroder on NYPD Blue? Why would he go back to his child-star name for 24? Wouldn't he want to use the more macho version of his name if he's going to be shooting stuff? Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure that Gredenko is in the airplane boneyard where the MythBusters tested explosive decompression way back when, so that makes me another person who knows Gredenko's location. Hopefully, Jack Bauer will not break into my apartment and torture me for the information.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Amazing Race: The King is Dead

I don't understand how Charla and Mirna have stayed in the race. Everything they do is drama, they whine and complain all the time, they go out of their way to score any advantage they can over the other teams, but are mortally offended when Amber tricks them, and somehow, they're still around, like cockroaches. At very least, I would have thought that one of the locals they spend all their time patronizing and speaking broken English to would smack them or leave them in the middle of a barren desert. It must be Mirna's pact with Satan that has taken them this far, because it sure isn't their skills. Through a combination of dumb luck, a needle-in-a-haystack Roadblock, Rob's inability to spell, and, yes, Rob's hubris, the cousins manage to slide in ahead of Rob and Amber, who are eliminated. Which I still can't believe. And I really, really hope the cousins don't start taking credit for that, although I know they will. They had nothing to do with it. It was all the Philippines' fault.

Okay, let me explain. The teams head to Punta Arenas, where they participate in a Magellan-themed Detour. Rob and Amber choose the option of putting together a signpost with the names of all Magellan's points of call, in the correct order, and spelled correctly. Rob and Amber have everything correct except for the spelling of the Philippines (we know, because the editors helpfully threw in fifteen shots of the incorrect spelling, and just barely refrained from throwing a captioned [sic] after it). So they bleed a lot of time here, and they bleed more time by not only switching to the other Detour, but going in the absolute wrong direction from where they had to go. They were following Rob's hubris instead of the compass, you see. Thanks to this Detour, Rob and Amber wind up in the bottom of the pack.

And then, the Roadblock, which is like a big shout-out to longtime race fans. The racers have to search through a sack of mail for a letter from some of their former racemates. And you know, it's very sweet and all for the racers to get letters from their old friends on the race, but bring on the hate mail! It's a lot more fun. Just look at the one sent to the Guidos, a crazy scat-filled letter from Frank that is his attempt to annoy them from afar. Nice job, Frank! The two teams in last place, awesomely, also get demotivational letters – the cousins from Lance and Marshall, who correctly point out Mirna's inability to speak English, let alone any other language, with proficiency, and Rob and Amber from professional Rob-and-Amber-haters Susan and Patrick. Their letter was not particularly clever; I'd suggest that they take lessons from Frank. But as the cousins pick up their hate mail first, and they don't kill themselves or go insane (but not for lack of trying) wandering around in the wilderness at the end of the world, they grab the last spot. They're going to be around forever, aren't they? Like Dick Clark or ER. They just may win this whole thing through sheer Clouseauian luck. That's a scary thought.

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Grease - YTOTIW: Rob Marshall!

Last week on Grease: You’re the One that I Want, Kathleen was finally eliminated. I say “finally” because, although her acting was very good, she looked like she was thirty. Which is a problem. Also, it was her third time or so in the bottom three, so it was just a matter of time. The Danny’s performed, and Chad really, really sucked.

This week, the special guest judge is Rob Marshall! COOL! (He’s Kathleen Marshall’s brother, for those who didn’t know.) Billy Bush informs us that the Danny’s stuck in the bottom two are It Doesn’t Matter and Chad. Just kidding, it’s Austin and Chad. But seriously, Chad’s dead meat.

Tonight, the girls will be showing Sandy’s “emotional” side, and the boys will be singing Elvis. Because Danny is rock and roll, or something. MORE BROADWAY SONGS, guys! If I wanted to watch American Idol, I’d…well, I do sometimes watch American Idol. But it would be way better with more Broadway songs and less of the same Aretha songs every season. Just sayin’.

Allie sings “Natural Woman.” (See, with the Aretha? SO American Idol.) The lower notes are nice, but the belted “YOU make me feel” bits sound forced and shrieked. The judges think it wasn’t her best vocal performance, but wasn’t terrible.

Derek sings “Devil in Disguise.” I love him. His singing is expressive, he’s got great charisma and stage presence, he has a lovely voice, he can move, and he’s super-cute. What’s not to love? (When his voice doesn’t crack on high notes, that is…) AND he cries a little when his dad says how proud he is of Derek. Aww. The judges think he was great.

Laura is up next with “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” She’s great, as usual. Love! The judges love her.

Max sings “Suspicious Minds.” He’s perfectly good, and he’s a great singer, and very emotional and whatever, but…come on. We all know this guy can’t play Danny. They can dress him up in leather, grease his hair back, make him sing rock and roll, whatever they want. He’s still just not believable as the gorgeous, charismatic leader of the pack. However, he has an adorable little brother. So props for that. The judges still seem to think he’s got a shot, though. Whatev.

In honor of Rob Marshall, they do a group performance of “All That Jazz,” from Chicago. W00t, Broadway song! It’s actually pretty good. Austin isn’t really the Fosse type, though—“subtle sexuality” is not in his vocabulary as a performer.

Time for the sing-off! Austin was actually America’s least favorite Danny (ha), but this is why we have the “judges actually pick the winner” system (although this is supposedly the last week of it). They sing “Rock & Roll Party Queen,” and Chad does seem to be the crowd favorite. Hmm…I’m no Austin fan, but this is odd. Chad is bland and average compared to Austin in every way but looks. Ah, America. So shallow. The judges choose to save Austin, DUH. That was the least suspenseful one yet. Good move judges, bad move America.

Ashley sings “You Keep Me Hanging On,” and finally manages to stand out after dropping to the middle of the pack from being an early favorite. Way to claw your way back up there, Ashley. I can’t imagine Allie will be in it past this week if America has any sense at all, and the judges agree.

Austin sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Much as I don’t love him, the dude really does have the chops to be a romantic lead. However, this lovely, romantic performance couldn’t be any less Danny. The judges were impressed with his singing performance, but thought he didn’t let enough personality through.

The panel picks Austin, Max and Laura as their favorites tonight. Apparently, this is the last say they’ll have, and so I expect Allie to make it through over Ashley, because America sucks and votes for whoever gets the most airtime. Guy-wise, it’s tougher…I’d get rid of Max, but America seems to love him, so who knows?

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Friday, March 09, 2007

30 Rock: The Black Donaghys

I thought the best part of last night's episode would be Nathan Lane as Jack's brother. But then came the other Donaghys, the Donaghy fight, and the stupidest fist names ever, and I was proven completely wrong. It has to be a huge point in 30 Rock's favor that big names like Nathan Lane, Wayne Brady, and Molly Shannon are lining up to be on the show, much as the stars used to for Arrested Development. It could also mean that between them, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey know everyone in Hollywood, but I prefer to look on the bright side. I like to think it means that they know good comedy when they see it, and they're trying to support the show. NBC, are you listening?

Oh, and another great thing about this episode? Liz becoming The Decider. Awesome.

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