Monday, April 30, 2007

The Amazing Race: Seriously, Don't Press Any Buttons

Damn it. I really wanted Danny and Oswald to win. They're so fun and easygoing, and even though they've gotten snippy with each other recently, they still have one of the healthiest relationships on this show, surpassing quite a few of the so-called romantically involved partners. Isn't it always the case that the friends and family members who race together are closer than the dating couples and, sometimes, the married ones? Danny and Oswald certainly conformed to this pattern, and I hope Danny wasn't kidding about the gay old folks' home, because that would be fantastic. So long, guys, and thanks for all the memories.

This week's theme, besides despair and heartbreak, is the U.S. military. The teams go to Guam, and all tasks they have to complete there are armed forces-related, from the dirty (cleaning a B-52) to the humanitarian (dropping supplies). Unfortunately, the warmth and fuzziness of the airdrop is tarnished slightly by Mirna, who is admonished by her military supervisor, the hard-nosed sergeant type, to put her supplies in the box with at least some degree of love. Ironically, this was indeed her chance to make love, not war, and she didn't do such a good job with it. I'm just saying, it's interesting.

The Roadblock, which takes place at the naval base on Guam, involves searching (for a pilot) and rescuing (yourself), and here is where I really started to enjoy myself. Because the teams have to follow a little GPS device to the pilot and to the landing zone, and some of the racers have serious problems with it. Charla, for example, is told at least three times not to press any buttons on her GPS device, but keeps doing it, and every time her military guide said, with barely concealed irritation, "Ma'am, I told you not to press the buttons," I laughed. But I also laughed when Oswald couldn't find his pilot when he was standing ten feet from him, lest you think that I was being mean. (I was, a little, but it was equal opportunity.)

And so now I am left with three teams I'm not particularly excited about. And just so I have some reason to be invested in the finale, I'm going to have to root for Dustin and Kandice, because I'd really like to see an all-female team win, and they have the best shot. They're efficient, they work well together, and they don't press any extraneous buttons. Go beauty queens!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: The Penis Fish of Marital Justice

Last week on Grey's Anatomy, Izzie donated bone marrow for her long-lost daughter. And I hope you weren't expecting to get any resolution on that or anything, because it doesn't even come up this week.

No, this week is all about relationships and penis fish. I'll begin with the penis fish, because I like saying penis fish, and also because I'm sick of the relationship crap. It seems Assistant Director Skinner has taken a break from thwarting (and later helping) Mulder and Scully, and is now Chairman of the Board at Seattle Grace. As such, he's a pretty hot commodity 'round these parts, especially for the Chiefs-in-waiting, especially now that his testicles are the size of grapefruits. Yep, grapefruits. Turns out, he's got a bad case of the ol' penis fish. What's a penis fish, you ask? The candirú is apparently a type of catfish that lives in the Amazon and, according to Wikipedia,

It is feared by the natives because it is attracted to urine or blood, and if the bather is nude it will swim into an orifice (the anus or vagina, or even the penis—and deep into the urethra). It then erects its spine and begins to feed on the blood and body tissue just as it would from the gills of a fish. The candirú is then almost impossible to remove except through surgery. The fish locates its host by following a water flow to its source and thus urinating while bathing increases the chance of a candirú homing in on a human urethra.

DISGUSTING! And also fascinating! Evolution is a marvelous thing, you guys. Wow. Incidentally, much as God punished Izzie for adultering last week, God is punishing Skinner this week. Because he's totally boning his assistant. Only not so much lately, one would presume, because of the aforementioned penis fish. Anyway, his assistant leaves him, his wife totally knows about the whole thing, and let this be a valuable lesson to anyone paying close attention (in this case, George and Izzie). Izzie tries to steer clear of George after Callie begs her to relinquish him, but George takes the plunge and decides to leave Seattle Grace for dreaded rival Mercy West. DUN DUN DUUUUUN!

Meanwhile, everyone else eats sample wedding cakes. Except for Addison and Alex, who finally do the dirty deed in the on call room. And then Alex gives her the ol' "You're not my girlfriend--you're just a dirty tramp who slept with me in the on call room, thus breaking your 'no sex for a month' vow with Sloan, who is so onto us, by the way" brush-off, sending Addison to the verge of Spin-Off-dom. But that's not until next week. Oh, and something about Meredith and Derek's relationship being in trouble. Again. Whatever.

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Ugly Betty: No Comeuppance!

I told you they'd get back together. Halfway through this episode, Betty and Daniel are apologizing to each other and talking about how important their friendship is – and then Betty starts with the lecturing. Yay, they're back! Daniel's in trouble over the fallout from last week's statutory rape, and almost has to resign from Mode, but Betty saves the day, with an assist from a purse-snatching Henry. Ah, Henry – it's been too long, my friend. The two of them prove that Petra is actually 20. Daniel's so relieved that he immediately goes to have more indiscriminate sex, over Betty's protests, because he will never get his comeuppance, you hear? Don't worry about it, Betty; just book him a trip to the Amazon and hope for a repeat of last night's Grey's Anatomy. That oughta straighten him out. Sidebar: how cool were Petra and her mom/sister, anyway? I'm sorry that their storyline is over so soon. I could watch Petra's momster smack around Petra and Daniel all day.

What is with this Alexis/Bradford relationship? Last week Alexis discovered that her dad missed her and loved her, and this week Bradford's willing to offer her $10 million to get lost and pay off a Brazilian guy to seduce her away. I suppose the two aren't mutually exclusive, but still. Same with Alexis and Daniel – one week they're playing nice together, this week Alexis is cruelly using him in her game against Bradford. It's all so confusing! I never know what's going on!

In the Suarez household, a couple of things happen: Hilda gets engaged (yes, to Santos), and Papa's getting sent back to Mexico. And if this ends up anything like My Name Is Earl, someone is going to have to cross the field of rakes to get him back. I nominate Justin; he's got little feet.

By the way, next week looks awesome. Claire returns to shiv Wilhelmina a new one, and everyone else goes to Medieval Times, unless I dreamed it, which is entirely possible. If I did: best dream ever!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

House: House, You Dog!

Well, the mystery of Foreman's lack of plot has been solved--this week's House was all Foreman, all the time. What have we learned? Foreman has the sweetest mother ever, who unfortunately has Alzheimer’s. So tragic. For reals. Also, Foreman never goes home because he's afraid the projects will sink their grimy claws into him and never let go. Finally, Foreman actually has a heart, and the ability to feel guilt and regret. Of course, if you can't feel guilt and regret after killing a patient who is your alter-ego, you're more machine than man.

Said patient is a scam artist who made a few bad decisions where Foreman made a few good decisions. She came in with what looked like an autoimmune disease or cancer, and Foreman decided that killing her immune system before doing the necessary tests would be a good way to go. Because, you know, that's how they roll in House' Anyway, turns out she had a simple infection that's now totally untreatable due to the newly destroyed immune system. Oops. Foreman feels pretty bad about it, though, so I guess it's all good. Except for the dead patient and all.

In the meantime, House gets all jealous of Wilson and Cuddy, and pries the following out of Wilson's ex-wife: Wilson befriends women and makes them fall in love with him. Wilson is great in bed. She and Wilson have an antisocial, unlikable dog whose name is some sort of implausible anagram of House's name--Hector, for short. Somehow, all this information adds up to House deciding that Cuddy has to sleep with Wilson in order to prevent her from falling in love with him (not quite sure how the math works out on that one), and House getting a new furry soul mate. In short, next week promises to be intriguing.

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30 Rock: Where Do You Think You're Going?

Poor Alec Baldwin. I know he's going through a rough time right now. He left his agency, someone leaked a damaging voicemail, and he's not going to win any Father of the Year awards (but if it's any consolation for him, he's still better than that guy who ran out on his son when he needed a kidney). But leaving 30 Rock? He made the show; this would break it.

I respect that Baldwin wants to spend more time figuring out whatever it is he's got going on, and to work on his relationship with his daughter (and, I'd hope, with his ex-wife, for the sake of his daughter). And I appreciate that, if Baldwin really has the acting fatigue that he says he does, he's not going to be invested in the show and won't give his all. But, as a fan of 30 Rock, I'm happy that NBC has shut him down. Without him, 30 Rock wouldn't have much to offer. Just good writing, Kenneth the Page, and the occasional laugh from Tracy Morgan. I believe that Baldwin was most of the reason why NBC renewed it, why it's gotten such good critical reviews, and he's going to be the draw for new viewers, either because they've heard how good he is as Jack Donaghy or because of everything that's going down with him personally. He's easily the funniest person on the show, and he has a rapport with Tina Fey that is both sweet and absurd. 30 Rock without him would be an empty husk of its former self, like The X-Files after David Duchovny left or NewsRadio after Phil Hartman died or ER now. So I hope that Baldwin can use the summer hiatus to deal with as much as he possibly can, and come back to the 30 Rock set refreshed and ready to work again, because a cranky Baldwin is not going to be good for anyone on that set or at home.

Anyway, watch the 30 Rock season finale tonight!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Heroes: Breaking Out is Fun to Do

Yata! Heroes is finally back, and revving up for the end of the season. And while Hiro and Ando stretch out their vacation until the end of the episode, it's worth it. They end up in New York City, after the bomb, and find two things in Isaac's old place: a timeline, and Futuristic Samurai Hiro. Meanwhile, in the present, Isaac is sacrificed to Sylar's collecting fever, and damn, does Sylar suck at painting. We also check in with Candice: yep, still a bitch. This week, the big storylines are:

Linderman: He chats about the future with Nathan, showing him the picture of him in the Oval Office and championing the nuclear bomb. See, Linderman wants New York to blow up to shake things up, and if in the meantime, Nathan becomes a Bush/Giuliani-style leader in crisis, that's just a bonus. Linderman then goes on to kidnap Micah, whose power will be helpful in whatever he's got planned. Oh, and he has a power, too. Yeah, he's a healer, and honestly, does everyone have to have a power? It would really be refreshing to meet someone and discover that he had no power. In fact, it would be more shocking than if he did have a power. Please let Ando stay just the way he is. Oh, and Bennet. As long as there are a few people without powers, I'll be happy.

Peter and the Petrellis: When last we left Peter, Sylar was after his delicious brain. But things go south quickly, even from there, and Peter ends up with a big piece of glass in his skull. Mohinder is left to take Sylar out (I know, I'm as surprised as you are!) and bring Peter's body to the Petrelli home. Hilariously, when Nathan sees his dead brother, he says, "He wasn't supposed to die this way!" Yes, he was supposed to die blowing up New York City. I know it would have been in bad form for Nathan to celebrate Peter dying without taking anyone with him, but at least don't make it sound like you would have preferred the other way, Nathan. (Or would you?) As I was, and I'm sure all of you were, yelling at the screen, all they have to do is take out the giant shard of glass from his brain and Peter reboots, much like Claire did with the branch in the brain stem incident. In other news, Granny Petrelli offers to take Claire to Paris, which should be interesting, if they ever make it.

The Dream Team: Matt and Bennet are locked up in Odessa together, but Bennet has a plan, which he communicates telepathically to Matt, to get them out. The whole thing, awesomely, is rather like an Alias mission, the kind that Weiss only got to go on when the writers remembered his existence. Bennet directs Matt to knock out the guard, break out Ted, and take out the building's power grid with an EMP from Ted. (Yes! Ted proves his worth!) When we leave them, the boys, Matt, Ted, and Bennet, are on their way to New York City to destroy the hero tracking system. Hooray! Not only does it put them in position to play a role in the Exploding Peter incident (well, we knew Ted had to be involved somehow), but this is exactly what I wanted – Matt joining up with other heroes and being part of a major plot. This Matt-Bennet partnership has brought nothing but good things.

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America's Next Top Model: Brittany needs this like she needs a(nother) hole in the head.

One of these days, I'm gonna make it home from work by 8 on a Wednesday. One of these days. So last week on Top Model, Tyra Banks proved once again that she is not afraid to look completely effing ridiculous to get a couple laughs or surprise the girls. In this instance, the girls are met by Tyra hopping around in a giant kangaroo outfit (as furries all over the world rewind their Tivos over and over again), joined by an actual kangaroo who hops around gamely but confusedly. Yes, the girls are headed to Australia, land of vegemite and hot accents. Also lots of snakes (mostly venomous), which I hope will prove entertaining later this cycle.

Upon their arrival, the girls have to memorize Aussie slang terms, which they will use while dazzling the locals with their fabulous interviewing skills (taught by April from Cycle 2 before they left the states). Brittany is worried because after an accident a few years ago (and the resulting eight staples in her head), her short term memory is only slightly better than the guy from Memento's. Don't worry, Brittany! Carson Daly does a perfectly mediocre job interviewing people, and just think how many times he must've been dropped on his head as a child!

After the interviewing challenge, which Natasha inexplicably manages to win, the girls meet Orange Jay out in a park to shoot the fabled Covergirl commercial (the Waterloo of many a promising Top Model contestant in the past). Oh, and they'll be reading their lines with Aussie accents. HA! It's no Catalan, but still... Natasha is rightfully worried, as is poor half-wit Brittany.

The filming is just as hilarious as you would expect. Renee does a fine job with her lines, but her accent is insanely over-the-top, and she appears to be wearing an absurd cravat of some sort. Which isn't really her fault, but still works against her. Dionne is pretty blah, but Jael is ridiculous, like a depressed model who took uppers and is now a caricature of herself. Jaslene struggles with her lines, but ends up pulling it out, and Brittany (predictably) can't get through the lines at all. Natasha is overly serious (it's a Covergirl commercial, dude, not a PSA about herpes), but gets the job done.

The end result is amazing. Worst. Accents. Ever. I'm laughing as hard as I can only imagine people who speak Catalan did upon watching last cycle's commercial. It's so nice to finally be able to share their mirth. At judging, it becomes apparent that Renee thought she did way better than she actually did. Ah, the old "be an actress and a model" conundrum. It's felled many a good contestant before you, Renee. Brittany cries like crazy about her head wound, and the panel is all, "tough titty!" It's awesome. Tyra stretches the bounds of hyperbole by saying she almost thought she was looking at a real Covergirl commercial. Covergirl commercial actresses everywhere stick pins in their Tyra-shaped voodoo dolls.

Natasha, Renee, Jaslene, and Dionne are in. Do we even need to do the rest? So long, Jael! ...Okay, okay. According to Tyra, Brittany needs to be able to do a Covergirl ad successfully to be a Top Model, and Jael is absurd on film. Brittany stays, Jael is out, and TV is now 100% more sane.

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24: Meh.

Anyone else feel like nothing really happened this week? Maybe it's just having Heroes to compare it to again, but the storylines just didn't hold my interest. Okay, so Morris and Chloe are having problems, but Morris is being whiny, so whatever. Karen and Buchanan are having problems, too, and there's a little bit of intrigue, in that Karen is basically screwing her husband out of his job in order to keep hers, but Buchanan's had that job for far too long. Why, he's been head of CTU for almost a whole season! It's unheard of! It's time for some new redshirt from Division to take charge of CTU and get back to the real business of CTU heads: getting killed, directly or indirectly, by Jack.

And then there's the exchange, the chip for Audrey, which is, unsurprisingly, ruined by CTU. It's not the end of the season yet, and no one was listening to Jack, least of all Doyle, so of course he's going to start the firefight that got Cheng out, with the chip and unexploded. The only shocking moment this week is what happened to Audrey: she lost her mind in China! It's true! The Pizzicato Strings of Derangment tell us so! Okay, 24, that is exciting, and I'm interested to see where it goes, but you really have to step up your game if you want to lure viewers away from Heroes.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Planet Earth: Our Planet ROCKS!

Has anyone else been watching Planet Earth, the not-so-mini-series on the Discovery Channel? It's basically an amped-up version of Wild Kingdom, with absolutely incredible cinematography and a fancy-pants celebrity narrator. Each hour-long episode is focused on one aspect of our fabulous planet. I watched "Caves" last night, and here is but a small sampling of what I learned:

  • There's a cave somewhere in a country I will now probably never visit that contains a 300-foot pile of bat crap, completely covered in cockroaches.
  • Bird's nest soup is made from the nest of the cave swiftlet, a bird which roosts in the walls of caves in nests it makes with its own saliva. Yeah.
  • Cave glow worms glow in order to lure insects into sticky threads dangling from their bodies, so they can reel in their prey just like fishermen.

Cool, right? You too can learn to amuse, fascinate, and disgust your friends with facts like those by watching Planet Earth on Sundays at 8 on the Discovery Channel.

The weird thing, though, is that I can't help but see it as a record of our planet before we reach the point of no return with the environmental destruction and global warming and whatnot. And that as soon as twenty-five years from now, someone will be watching it on holo-DVD or whatever and be all, "Wow, there used to be orangutans in the wild? And look, amphibians! Those were great, before we killed them all with pesticides and stuff. And oooh, polar bears, back when they had a natural habitat. And the oceans actually have fish in them!"

I guess we can at least be grateful Planet Earth is such a beautiful, interesting record of the amazing planet we're ruining. But still, let's eat less meat and ride our bicycles more, okay, people? Happy Earth Day!

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The Amazing Race: Much Ado About Yielding

After a few episodes with supremely unexciting endings, in which the last team was either too far behind to make any difference or spared by a non-elimination leg, it feels good to finally have a nail-biting finish. I would have liked it more if it had been Charla and Mirna racing for the bottom spot, instead of Oswald and Danny, but then I wouldn't have cared as much, I guess. The cousins' butts are saved, despite Mirna's best efforts to get herself run over by a bus, by Eric and Danielle's elimination penalty and Danny and Oswald's very bad day. They get lost in the middle of Macau both by themselves and with their taxi driver, who so upsets them that Oswald threatens to kill him. (Oh, yes he does, and he wants God to help him hide the body.) It comes down to Eric and Danielle, waiting out their penalty, and the Chas, running to the pit stop, and the Chas are too late. And what do we get for this suspenseful finish? Another non-elimination leg. Yes, again. But I'm not really upset, because it means that Danny and Oswald are still in it. Besides, Phil promised that this was the last non-elimination leg, so from this point forward, everyone gets dumped like the dead weight they are. Or like the body of Oswald's taxi driver, in the South China Sea.

So, you remember how there was that one episode where someone got yielded? And then there was that episode where everyone kept talking about how someone got yielded? Yeah, someone gets yielded again. Actually, the same someone. By, more or less, the same someone again. Except, this time, the beauty queens actually hire the cash-strapped Danny and Oswald to do it for them, after the Chas pitch the deal. But… why don't Dustin and Kandice do it themselves? They'd get to keep the money, and it's not like Eric and Danielle aren't going to find out that they paid for the Yield anyway. In fact, Dustin and Kandice tell them so. It's not going to save their reputations in front of the other teams to pin the blame on someone else. Besides, do they really care what Mirna thinks of them? The beauty queens do claim that it was also a bribe to keep Danny and Oswald from yielding them, which may well be true, but it still strikes me as getting threatened by a puppy. Needless to say, Mirna saddles up her high horse to pass judgment on the Chas, and Eric is just plain furious with them. Phil actually laughs as he's telling the Chas how angry Eric is about the whole thing, which either means that he thinks Eric needs to get over it or he's really into schadenfreude. Clearly, Phil's not impressed by Eric's Yield Rage, which only makes sense, because he knows Colin. Remember when Colin got yielded and he tried to make Chip's head explode with his mind? Man, why isn't Colin on this race?

Meanwhile, an extremely cool Roadblock: skyjump off the Macau Tower. I mean, it's cool for other people to do. Not me. They would have to shove me off the platform, and even then I'd be hurling curses at my partner the entire way down. But the people who did it seemed to like it!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: When it rains in Seattle, it pours...and then your kid gets leukemia.

Is it just me, or is this show becoming a downer? God, it seems, is punishing Izzie for her adulterous ways by giving her long-lost daughter leukemia. And then having Izzie go through a painful medical procedure to help her out, after being completely rejected by said daughter.

And in other daughters rejecting semi-mothers news, Meredith wants nothing to do with her estranged father's overly-mothering wife, until the fake mother confesses that she just feels guilty for letting Meredith's dad ignore Meredith all those years.

And in other, other fake parents news, Alex's facially-challenged amnesiac gets claimed by a kindly couple from the Midwest only to be tragically rejected when the mother decides that she isn't her daughter after all. Harsh. And in other rejection news, the Chief tells Derek that he won't pick Derek as his replacement because he promised Ellis that he'd protect Meredith, and being Chief ruined his marriage. Because that's not going to lead to resentment that will break up the relationship anyway.

In other troubled relationship news, Callie is on to George and Izzie after George stops ignoring Izzie long enough to be her friend during the bone marrow transplant, and then lies to Callie about where he was. And finally, in other, other troubled relationship news, Lord John Marbury has left Seattle Grace and Cristina after realizing that her relationship with Burke has made her soft and boring. Which then leaves Cristina worried and contemplative. Hmm. Nope. Not a lot of good news this week.

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Ugly Betty: There's a Party in the Love Dungeon, and I Don't Want to be Invited

This week: everyone wants to find Fey's love dungeon. (This show, sometimes: so far over the top that the top is a dot to them.) Alexis wants to find it to locate Fey's most recent diaries, to fulfill everyone's hopes and free Claire. Because she hasn't done it yet, the lazy slattern. Free Claire! Wilhelmina wants to find it to get some clue as to how best to seduce Bradford. The answer: feet. Man, I knew that Wilhelmina trying to seduce Bradford would be awful, but I never anticipated foot seduction. Blurg. And Amanda – well, she just wants to show up Deputy Leo, who's been run out of Neptune by Keith and has now taken a job as Alexis' assistant. None of them finds the love dungeon, but we do. Oh, goody. You know, I really wanted to be the one to find it. Perhaps we can have more foot seduction, too.

Yeah, so you remember how Constance the Crazy Case Worker was crazy? Girl still crazy, and after a bout of normalcy – the eye of the crazy storm, if you will – kidnaps Papa Suarez and threatens to marry him. Oh, and also, she was totally fired two months ago for being crazy. So Hilda warns Papa, he tries to escape, but Constance steals his cell and forces him into a hideous powder-blue tux, and everything builds up to a big crazy head – until we discover Why Constance is Crazy. Yes, break out the tinkly piano music, because poor Constance gets forgotten by her charges as soon as they become citizens, and just once she wants someone to remember her. Oh, come on. All these weeks of crazitude and they slap a sad little bow on it and expect us to go "aww"? I hate it when this show goes all Full House on us.

In things that are actually sad: Betty and Daniel break up! Daniel's tired of being taken care of by Betty, and he tells her, despite all evidence, ever, to the contrary, that her job ends when she leaves the office. So when he calls looking for help with the statutory rape and blackmail he just got himself into (…yeah), Betty won't talk to him and Daniel is left to give himself an internal uh-oh five. Oh, she'll just go back to him right away. They have the second best relationship on the show - after Marc and Amanda but before Marc and Wilhelmina - and it would be tragic to lose it.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shear Genius: It's No Project Runway, But It'll Do

When I first heard about Shear Genius, I thought that I must be hallucinating. Surely Bravo could not be so desperate for something to fill the void between seasons of Project Runway (and, arguably, of Top Chef) as to bring us yet another professional competition show, this one about hairstylists? But it's actually not as silly as I was afraid it would be. Oh, it's still silly - spoiled stylists freak out after being asked to do color, and last week's hair show was no Blow Dry. But Shear Genius comes very close to capturing the essence of Project Runway, with its runway shows and mentor who's not part of the judging panel (unlike Tom Colicchio, who doesn't so much try to help you out of the hole you've dug yourself as think, "Gone!"). However, I have yet to see Rene Fris offer up much criticism besides, "Do you think you can finish in time?" Then, of course, they deal with live models, which instantly makes the show more interesting. Particularly this week, when a few of the stylists completely ruined their clients' hair. Embarrassment on the PR runway only lasts as long as you have to wear the booty-flaunting sweater dress, but embarrassment here stays with you until Bravo gives you another cut, on them, to replace the horrid carroty monstrosity visited upon you. It's like every episode is Top Model's makeover show, and if that sounds like a good time to you, then Shear Genius is your kind of show.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

House: Wilson has a sense of humor?

I only have a couple minutes, so this recap will be short. But, to make up for that, I will write it in haiku. Because it doesn't get any better than haiku. Here we go:

Penis cream scares me
Cute little girl had a stroke
Her brother bit Chase

Chase loves Cameron
She's still not that into him
Getting pathetic

Wilson loves Cuddy
Or is it a joke on House?
It totally is!

No plot for Foreman?
Will House and Cuddy hook up?
It's a mystery

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Whatever He's Selling, I'll Buy

First, there are the bizarre commercials for this company that the Idol contestants are contractually press-ganged into each week. (I'm sure I don't need to tell you the name of the company, because if you watch American Idol, these commercials already haunt your dreams, or possibly your nightmares.) Then, there's the commercial directed by David Mamet that premiered last night. Yes, you read that right. But as far as I'm concerned, the most effective commercials that the company has are the ones starring Mike Rowe. I'm not part of their target audience – at all – but whenever Mike starts talking about a fully boxed spring, I'm all, "Ooh, fully boxed spring!" even though I have no idea what it is, why I would want it, or what would happen to me if my spring was not fully boxed. (Mike seems to think it would be something bad.) All I know is that Mike is awesome, and that I should do whatever he says, because Mike Rowe would never steer me wrong. This is why I have five trucks. Darn you, Mike!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

24: Why Don't You Just Stay Rogue, Already?

Okay, I'm starting to see how this part of the season follows from the rest. Not that I think that the writers had the Audrey storyline planned all along, or even as far as a few episodes ahead, when they realized that Kim Raver was going to be free, but they're doing well keeping the elements from the first part of the season alive in the next. The Chinese are after components from the nukes, and Doyle, who was introduced as a sort of Jack Mark II, now ends up as his adversary. This is not to say that 24 is done ripping itself off, because Jack goes rogue again – twice – in order to comply with Cheng's demands, and he recruits Chloe to help him. Chloe's not too into the idea of giving the Chinese sensitive technology, concerned that it will create an international incident "big time." And when Chloe is worried about causing an awkward situation, you may need to reevaluate your plan. No worries, though; Jack plans on blowing up the chip before the Chinese can have it, blowing up himself, if necessary, in the process. But how does he get the chip if the nukes are under military guard? Easy – he hollers at the guards until they give in. No one can stand against the power of his holler.

So it's not the end of the season yet, and he's not dead yet, but I'm giving myself partial credit for calling Wayne's collapse, because the nuclear threat is over and he's pretty much gone for the rest of the season. So now Vice President Daniels is in charge, along with his minion (whose name is Lisa Miller, and if that's not a NewsRadio shout-out, I'm going to pretend it is anyway, because there are frankly not enough NewsRadio shout-outs). The second thing Daniels does, after getting his taunt on, all, "Way to go, Karen, you totally killed the president," is to call off Jack's operation, causing him to go rogue for the second time.

Hilariously, when Jack does so, abandoning Doyle on the side of the road, Doyle yells, "You can't go against the White House!" Tell that to Logan, Doyle. Assuming you can find him, of course, and assuming even more that he's not dead when you find him.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Amazing Race: Kung Fu Hustle

Hey, this leg was a lot of fun! Even though – or, perhaps, because – it was designed by someone who loves Hong Kong action movies. Detour: climb bamboo scaffolding while fending off martial artists. Roadblock: kick in doors in an abandoned building. Fast Forward: get strapped into a car and hang on while the driver performs a movie stunt. The last one is the best, and also the most unintentionally funny, because the show tries to convince you, with ominous music, that Oswald and Danny don't survive when the car flips over. Like it wouldn't have been front-page news if The Amazing Race had killed two of its contestants. But they're alive, have fun, and come in first. Yay! Coming in last this week are Eric and Danielle, but, because they're not ready for the finale, it's a non-elimination leg. I don't understand the logic of having a Fast Forward in a non-elimination leg, unless it's to throw the racers off, or to scare the audience into thinking that one of the teams is dead. Otherwise, there's no real point to it. Yeah, Danny and Oswald had fun, but they were going to have fun no matter what they did. That's who they are.

Charla and Mirna, meanwhile, are still mad at Dustin and Kandice about last week's Yield. And if you're thinking to yourself, "But wait, they weren't the ones Yielded," you'd be right. They're madder about it than Eric and Danielle, even. It's probably just a symptom of how much they hate the beauty queens, because I don't know that they would have gotten this mad at anyone else. The previews suggest that next week, Eric and Danielle and Charla and Mirna team up to wreak some Yield revenge on the beauty queens, which I wouldn't mind, as long as it means that Cha-Cha-Cha can sidle around the fray and finish first. Go Chas!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

30 Rock: Jefferson Lives!

I underestimated 30 Rock. I thought the Thomas Jefferson thing would be a one-episode gag, one that would disappear like Jenna did. (Seriously, where did she go? And if the answer is not "Muffin Tops world tour," I will be sorely disappointed.) But it's back, and will probably be around for a while. And while I'm reserving judgment for now, I am hopeful that it's going to be funny, because a) Kenneth is involved, and b) that trailer is great. Besides, it's 30 Rock, and I've come to trust Tina Fey. I wasn't sure about Floyd, either, but she made me like him. That scene in Liz's apartment? Awesome. Okay, most of that was because of Jack, and the rest was pretty much Liz, but still, Floyd was there. He gets credit for that.

Meanwhile, the one moment that has really stayed with me from last night's episode is Kenneth knitting the NBC bikini for Nana, and I'm not sure if that's more because it's hilarious or it's disturbing. I do know that it was the best line of the night. Well done, Kenneth. Now put it away.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

America's Next Top Model: Playing Catch-Up I've fallen a little behind on Top Model. When last we met, Cassandra had been eliminated for having a giant nose bad pictures, and Renee was a bitch. Last night, I hosted a mini-Top Model marathon, if by "hosted a mini-Top Model marathon," you mean, "watched four episodes of Top Model by myself while eating leftover Easter chocolate." The point being, I'm all caught up now!

What did I miss? Let's see...Renee has yo-yo'd between being a bitch and not, Jael has yo-yo'd between being crazy and being insane, Natasha has stepped up as a contender, and the girls got ridiculous new nicknames. Felicia got booted for lazy modeling, Sarah got booted because karma bit her on the ass (and also she poses too much), and Diana got booted because she kind of sucks at modeling, and doesn't have a sassy enough personality to make up for it. Because, you know, if you're bigger than a size zero, you'd damn well better have sass.

Last night, the girls got to act in a challenge opposite Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. Renee manages to be the most melodramatic, and wins (along with Dionne, whom Renee picks after an uncomfortable moment of realizing she has no actual friends to choose) a visit from her family. Her baby is kind of ugly, but in an awkward-looking way, so he obviously has Top Model potential.

The photo shoot, in what can at best be labeled as a loose concept, has the girls teaming up with former ANTM contestants to portray past scandals from the show. Or moments of interest. In each scenario, this season's contestant will play the part of the past contestant. Except when they don't. Get it?

Brittany pairs up with Michelle and Amanda from last cycle to portray triplets (OOH, the scandal!). The judges, as always, love her to death. Dionne gets to confront her vague homophobia (homo-slightlyuncomfortable-ia?) by recreating the limo makeout scene with Kim, from a few cycles ago. She gets pretty into it, and the guest photographer loves her for it. Or is turned on by it. Or something. Jael recreates Rebecca's fainting episode from way back when, and has a hard time getting through it without looking like she's trying to jump Rebecca's bones. Jaslene acts out the Great Granola Bar Scandal of '05 with Bree, and continues on her path to drag queen-dom.

Natasha teams up with a surprisingly feminine Michelle to portray her bout with flesh-eating bacteria. She makes it work. Renee gets to act out the fabulous "I've been at the dentist's office for eight hours" clip with Joanie, whom I miss very, very much, and who totally outshines Renee. Take that, supposedly reformed bitch. Whitney tries to keep her dignity in a towel as Shannon from the first cycle convinces her to hate her evil body and refuse to pose nude.

Jael pulls the classic "making excuses during judging" screw-up, which lands her in the bottom two along with Whitney, who pulls the classic "trying to be a normal-sized woman on ANTM" screw-up. Alas for Whitney and normal-sized women everywhere, Jael comes out on top and Whitney and her bad photos are sent packing. How hard can it be to find a curvaceous woman who can take a good photo, Tyra? I'm beginning to think that this show is some sort of covert campaign by the fashion industry (and the laxative industry?) to convince America that women larger than a toothpick can't model well by choosing the least photogenic (yet still credibly pretty) plus-size contestants they can find.

Oh, and incidentally? Tyra is slowly morphing into some sort of pirate prostitute right before our very eyes. Outfit by outfit, accessory by accessory. For reals.

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'80s Cartoons Make a Comeback

I'm know Liz will appreciate this news item, but I'm sure that plenty of our readers are the right age to appreciate it, too: CBS is bringing Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears back to their cartoon lineup. And, damn it all, kids, you'll enjoy them. In our day, cartoons were cartoons, as well as merchandise tie-ins, and they were about desserts or recycling or girl bands, not about creepy girls with no noses. And since TMNT is making a comeback, too, I think you kids will only be seeing more of the classic '80s cartoons that, when you think about them 20 years later, will make no sense to you or sound really stupid ("Heart!"), but you appreciate them anyway because you know you used to like them. It's a rite of passage, kids.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Andy Barker, P.I.: Good news and bad news...

Okay, I lied. I only have bad news for Andy Barker, P.I. It's out. Gone. Cancelled. Too bad, too sad.

No, really, it IS too bad (and too sad). It was a funny show, and I'm really sorry it's gone. It's hard out there for an original, creative sitcom. Especially one starring Andy Richter. And I couldn't hope for good sitcom news twice in one week.

...Or could I? For with the death of Andy Barker comes a reprieve for another, much more beloved sitcom: Scrubs is back on the schedule sooner than expected! It'll be taking over Andy Barker's spot at 9:30 on Thursdays starting April 19th. Sweetness. You knock me down, NBC, just to bring me back up again. Of course, you could actually give 30 Rock and Scrubs consistent timeslots rather than flipping them all over the damn place, but who's complaining?

You can see Andy Barker's final two episodes this Saturday from 8-9.

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House: Mass HystAIRia (Get it? ...Get it?)

Last night’s episode of House played on a number of my fears: Getting sick on an airplane, getting the bends after scuba diving, getting stuck on an airplane full of crazy people, and most of all, old ladies having sex.

So we’ve got patient number one, a horny old lady who’s returned from going on a bender in Venezuela only to pass out in front of the prostitute she’s hired. With Cuddy and House off joining the mile high club or something on their way back from Singapore, Wilson and the gang are forced to actually diagnose something on their own. It goes about how you’d think it would go—Foreman spends his time bitching at Chase for agreeing with his fuck buddy Cameron instead of with Foreman, Chase and Cameron spend their time having sex in the old lady’s house in front of her cat, and Wilson spends his time hitting on the prostitute. By some miracle, right before Foreman cuts open the patient’s skull, Chase manages to fight through the sex haze to figure out that she was accidentally fumigated, or something. And then Cameron breaks up with him because he’s in loooove with her. So…the day pretty much comes out even for Chase, I guess.

Meanwhile, 35,000 feet over the sea, House and Cuddy are on their way back from a conference in Singapore when some Korean dude on their plane gets really sick really fast, followed by a teenage girl and Cuddy herself, and then every other damn passenger on the plane. At first it looks like meningitis, but it turns out that Cuddy’s just insane in the membrane (insane in the brain), along with everyone else on the plane. Yes, it’s just a good old bout of mass hysteria, complete with group vomiting, shaking, and fever. Charming. See, this is why I could never be a flight attendant. People get crazy up there! Also, seeing people barf is gross to the extreme.

So yep, all’s well that ends well. Oh, except for the Korean dude, who’s getting worse by the minute. Just as House is about to cut open the guy’s stomach to root around for cocaine-filled condoms (Vicodin just isn’t doing the trick these days), he realizes that the patient is actually suffering from a terrible case of the bends after scuba diving without decompressing properly. Yikes. Oh, and anyone want to bet that House totally kept that sack o' meds he collected from other passengers when he thought there was an outbreak on the plane? You know he did.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thank God I'm Here!

First off, sorry I haven't been here (see, this post's title works on two levels). I've been out enjoying the springtime snow flurries here in my fair city. Yeah. At any rate, let's talk Thank God You're Here, an Australian import on NBC. It's a next-gen Whose Line is it Anyway?, but with less funny cast regulars (so unfunny I'm not gonna bother looking them up) and a funnier judge.

The premise is that they take a random comedian, put him/her in costume, and toss 'em through a door onto a set they've never seen before (like an Egyptian tomb, or the stage of a beauty pageant). One of the regulars starts the scene off with, "Thank God you're here," and it goes from there. Last night's episodes were funny enough, I suppose, but nothing to write home about. There were two main problems. First, unlike Whose Line's relatively stable lineup, the guest stars don't get to practice this type of improv over and over again until they're great at it. In fact, much of the humor is derived from their confusion and stumbling around. Which is funny, I guess, but not really enough to base a series upon (not that I'm advocating Whose Line as anything to live up to, but still...).

My second problem is that it didn't feel like true improv, in that the scenes can't go anywhere. The regulars steer the guest comedian in a predetermined, semi-scripted direction, which both dulls the potential for comedy and the freshness of the show. It ends up seeming more like, "Let's watch the guest stars try to figure out what the scene is supposed to be about," rather than, "Let's watch the guest stars make a really funny scene," which is fine, but not really my comedy cup of tea. That said, there were certainly some funny moments, and the guest comedians they've recruited are largely very talented. But, I don't think I'll be watching again unless nothing else worth watching is on.

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24: Everything Really Wrapped Up Nicely... And Much Quicker Than Usual!

I think at this point I'm going to have to start every 24 post with, "So you remember how last week this happened? Yeah, not so much." 24 just loves to fake you out, and, sure, it keeps you tuning in for next week, but then when, oh, I don't know, the president's possibly brain damage-assisted decision to order a nuclear strike turns out to be a bluff, you feel a little cheated. Wayne's brain is just fine, but it's not like he has no lingering effects from getting blown up. I can see how you would assume that he wouldn't, considering that if Jack got blown up, he'd be up three minutes later, growling, "I'm fine," and making demands of Buchanan. Wayne, however, is in tremendous pain, and being a total hero about it, all, "No! No doctors! Must... lead... country!" Wayne is going to drop dead in the season finale, isn't he? I can see it now: the day is over, everyone is happy, Karen and Tom say, "Well done, Mr. President," and Wayne smiles… and keels over. And then Sandra becomes president somehow. She's a Palmer; that seems to be enough for the 24 voters.

Meanwhile, CTU arranges a fake rescue for Fayed to encourage him to reveal the location of the remaining nukes, but he's too smart for them. He manages to escape (even without the help of one of CTU's laughably porous perimeters) and takes off in a truck with a stowaway: Jack. Super Jack somehow manages to call Buchanan while holding on to the undercarriage for dear life, but even he can't holler hard enough to make himself heard over the engine. That has got to be one seriously loud engine, because Jack is no slouch when it comes to yelling. Once he reaches the secret bomb warehouse, Fayed reveals his plan: nuke downtown LA. Oh, come on, Fayed. If you really want to hurt Los Angeles, you'll go for the freeways. But before Fayed can put his dastardly plan into action, Jack pops out, kills all his minions, and gets into one of the dirtiest fights in 24 history with Fayed, complete with biting, head-butting, rusty pipes, and one giant chain that Jack uses to choke the life out of Fayed. At least, we assume so. The "hanging a guy by an industrial chain" thing didn't work for Bruce Willis in Die Hard, so I guess we'll have to see if Fayed, like Karl, shows up at the end of the season to die again at the hand of Reginald VelJohnson. (Um. Spoiler.)

So there you have it: Fayed is dead (…for now), the bombs are secure, and – hey, wait! It's only 11:00! Rip-off! What about the other seven episodes? Turns out they're wrapping up the main storyline early to start on another one: Audrey's alive, and the Chinese are holding her for some kind of ransom. Tell us something we didn't already figure out, 24.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

The Amazing Race: Boys, Please Don't Fight!

Even though I was only introduced to them with this season, it's still extremely upsetting to watch Oswald and Danny snap at each other, as they do in this episode, because almost all I've ever seen out of them, especially with each other, is sweetness and humor. Seeing them fight is like seeing Turk and J.D. get into a fist fight. (Except not quite as Li'l Brudder-type sad as that would be.) Oswald and Danny fight over which Detour is faster, and Danny insists that the licorice needle in a cookie haystack Detour is faster than the batik Detour. Danny is wrong. So very, very wrong. Then, an already upset Danny is forced to do the Roadblock because Oswald doesn't like bicycles. I guess he had some bicycle-related trauma when he was young? Like, his grandmother was attacked by a roving gang of bicycles? Anyway, Danny is very upset with Oswald by the end of the day, which upsets me in turn, even though Danny is kind of cute trilling "Hating yoooou!" as he pedals away. Happily, the Chas make up, or at least call it even, because it would have broken my heart to see them fight any more. Not to mention the fact that it would leave Dustin and Kandice as the last team in the race who don't snipe at each other, and for that reason alone, I would feel compelled to root for them. Yes, even though they're kind of dumb. You see the chaos that Danny and Oswald create when they fight?

Just like last week, there is no suspense in who comes in last. Uchenna and Joyce, making their way to Kuala Lumpur, gamble on an hour-long international connection, and lose, as Eric and Danielle and the Guidos could have told them would happen. Unfortunately, no one goes running out on the tarmac, ringing a little bell, as Joe did. Instead, Uchenna and Joyce drop out of the episode entirely until the 52-minute mark, when they are swiftly eliminated, with no fuss. Which is really the way they roll, so it's only fitting. They didn't create a lot of drama, and they didn't inspire a whole lot of feeling in me other than "mild interest." So… bye, I guess. Nice to see you again. Hope everything works out for you. Joyce, still love the hair.

So with four teams left, here's who I'm rooting for, in order of most to least desirable winners:

1. Oswald and Danny: I love the Chas, that's all there is to say.

2. Dustin and Kandice: Not the sharpest crayons in the box, but good racers, and dammit, it'd be nice to see an all-female team win one.

3. Eric and Danielle: Maybe one of those teams who should break up after the race is over, but at least they're better racers than...

4. Charla and Mirna: I'll say this for them, they do tend to wangle the best flights. This is probably what's kept them in the race for so long, because the extra time they get from taking the early flight is balanced out by all the time they waste with mistakes or their own drama. But at some point, those mistakes will have to catch up to them, right?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

John C. McGinley Makes Good (...In Bad Movies)

I've already expressed my disappointment in John C. McGinley for appearing in movies like Wild Hogs and Are We Done Yet? I'm still disappointed in him, don't get me wrong. But I'm also proud of him. It's very rare that an actor gets a rave review in the middle of a total pan, but that's exactly what JCM has managed to get - from the New York Times, no less. In her review, Jeannette Catsoulis rhapsodizes about the actor that we all knew (but somehow the Emmys never figured out) was this good:

Rising above the melee of blind pipe fitters and Hawaiian dry-rot specialists, however, is a marvelous John C. McGinley, playing a dodgy jack-of-all-trades with the kind of energy that forces other actors to step up their game. He is so good that the script’s last-minute gift of a dead wife is completely unnecessary: he redeems his character through acting skill alone.

As someone who has seen crappy movies just because John C. McGinley is in them - and Liz can back me up on this - I'm not recommending that you go see Are We Done Yet? Really, it's not worth it. And he'll never pay back your $12. But I'm glad that JCM is bringing his A game even to B and C movies. Now if he could only bring it to A movies...

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30 Rock: Break Out the Fireworks!

Score one for good TV: 30 Rock has been renewed for next season! Since the show's ratings are middling at best, as pretty much every article covering the renewal will point out, the fact that NBC has picked it up this early means that they must really believe in it. Because when was the last time they let a sitcom build up an audience over time? Interestingly, they give the same "upscale viewers" explanation that was once associated with Studio 60, but I suspect that "upscale viewers" in this case is code for NBC execs, and they love it because of all the NBC/GE shenanigans. If only Sorkin had set Studio 60 at NBC instead of "HBC," the suits might have been more interested.

So how does 30 Rock celebrate getting renewed? With more of what the suits love: Will "GOB" Arnett as another NBC exec, and fireworks. NBC brass love fireworks. But Tina Fey remembers the ordinary fans, too – you know, the ones not employed by GE. I love that 30 Rock is starting to bring back things from previous episodes as in-jokes to fans, now that they've reached a point where they can do that. Dr. Spaceman is to 30 Rock what Dr. Beardfacé is to Scrubs and that doctor who delivers news badly was to Arrested Development. It's great. And I may have mentioned this before, but I really only like Tracy when he's crazy - and I mean seriously, bughouse crazy - which is why his dream sequence was the best. Well, that and Alec Baldwin. Dressed as Thomas Jefferson. Flipping off the Maury audience. Yeah. I'm so happy this show is coming back.

By the way, if you've ever wondered what the deal is with Kenneth, Jack McBrayer can tell you: Kenneth is part magic.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Judith Light: Yes, Still Awesome

I've devoted a lot of bandwidth in this blog to how awesome Judith Light is on Ugly Betty. And if you are not part of the choir that I am preaching to, then you're just not an Ugly Betty fan. But the fact is that Judith Light is awesome wherever she goes, including Law and Order: SVU. SVU is like my TV comfort food. If I just feel like chilling on the couch, I turn on SVU, because there's a fifty-fifty chance, at any given time, that USA is airing an SVU repeat. It's formulaic and I know exactly what I'm getting, which is what makes it good comfort TV, but occasionally the show is enlivened by Judith, in her recurring role as Judge Donnelly. Like all the judge roles, it's not one with a lot of pizzazz or drama. She shows up, makes rulings, and is generally dismissive toward the lawyers. But where a lesser actress would deliver her lines, call it a job well done and go home, Judith works the bits that she's given. Her best line of this week's episode: "Up my butt?" Not the line itself, in response to a web video of drunken teens making fun of her, but the way Judith delivers it. 49% disbelief, 47% "those kids' asses are mine," and 4% "and so are their large quantities of alcohol." (I like to think that she takes a bit of Claire Meade with her wherever she goes.)

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

7th Heaven: Hallelujah!

After its last-minute reanimation last season, 7th Heaven is finally getting the hell off our screens at the end of this season. And while I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic, considering that this show has already cheated death once… yaaaaay! The cancellation of a tired old show like this one means that there's one more space on the schedule for a better new show. And before you say, "But this is the CW," consider the bar that a new show would have to hurdle to be more welcome than 7th Heaven.

And as long as the CW is giving out walking papers, maybe they could nip over and hand them to Gilmore Girls as well? The show hasn't overstayed its welcome as egregiously as 7th Heaven, but it should get out now before people forget why the show was good in the first place, and I think that only the most hardcore GG fans (you can recognize them by their bejeweled, pink Razrs, with which they text their friends, "OMG LukE + LoRelAi 4 EVA!!1! & her scarf is kewl! ;)") would disagree at this point. Just let it go. It's better this way.

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House: Chase ♥s Cameron!!!1!

Last week on House, House totally busted Chase and Cameron doing the nasty amongst the mops in a janitor's closet. (It doesn't get any hotter than that, people.) This week, House tries to go on vacation, and Cuddy tries to be House...if House were a crazed hormonal wreck giving a bad name to single women everywhere, that is. Because, you know, we all want to have babies and stuff. And if we can't, we totally go insane trying to save some pregnant stranger's baby, even though the stranger is turning yellow and dying right before our very eyes. (In your head, picture the stranger as being played by Helen Hunt's sister on Mad About You.)

So yeah, Cuddy goes off the deep end with the over-identifying a little bit, and while House tries and fails to pull her back from the brink, Cuddy ends up curing the patient and her baby, so it's all good. Incidentally, this episode completely confirmed my suspicion that babies are poisonous alien parasites out to kill their hosts. The Alien-esque scene with the tiny little hand bursting out of the uterus didn't help. Eww. (Yeah, it was during open-uterus surgery, but still! Creepy!)

On to the Chase and Cameron business. Thanks to House, by the end of the episode everyone knows they're sleeping together, and everyone thinks it's a bad idea because Cameron's going to get hurt. Mostly, they're worried that she'll be even MORE annoying when heartbroken, if possible. Chase spends the episode being jealous of what he assumes (probably correctly) is Cameron's intent to make House jealous. He also spends the episode falling in looooove with Cameron. Ruh-roh! Cameron spends the episode brushing everything off, like the selfish friends-with-benefits ho that she is. Just kidding--nail that Australian piece of pretty-boy ass, Cameron, if that's what makes you less whiny and annoying!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

24: Déjà Vote

Once again, I have to ask: what the hell happened in Denver? They don't mention it specifically, but now everything that Doyle does makes me wonder about it. Because if I know, his actions might make some sort of sense. He discovers that Milo is the reason for the security breach (I knew it! I told you his facial hair was untrustworthy!) and covers Milo's ass anyway, and then gets into a religious debate with Nadia where he claims that he's "looking for answers." I was kidding before, but now I think maybe they really did kill someone and cover it up. Doyle is not the kind of guy to get into an existential crisis lightly.

Like that other conspiracy to take down a President Palmer back in season two, VP Daniels is arguing not that Wayne is physically incapacitated, but that he's just plain incompetent. Come on! If the Cabinet could really remove a president for making bad decisions, then the president would feel compelled to surround himself with loyal "Waynies," if you will. But Wayne's team of rivals is more than willing to put Wayne's competence to a vote, and the result is less like the first time the 25th Amendment was invoked on this show, and more like the 2000 election. The vote ends up deadlocked, one of the votes (Karen, playing the part of Florida) is disputed, and they have to go to the Supreme Court to settle it. Unlike the 2000 election (as far as we know, that is), the Veep's concession is forced by Tom, who finds out about the perjury he was planning and threatens to expose him. The irony is that it didn't really matter anyway, since Wayne decides to go ahead with the strike on the unnamed, innocent Middle Eastern country. Now the Cabinet knows how regular voters feel: no matter who you vote for, you're still screwed.

And what about the ostensible point of this season, the terrorist plot? Well, you know what they say – if you get a tracking device in the arm in the fourth act, the arm goes off, uh, later in the fourth act. Yes, Gredenko cuts off his own arm to escape, but then he ends up a) giving Fayed away in a bar, and b) collapsing from blood loss and possibly dying, so that really wasn't a well thought-out plan. Of course, no plan that ends with you cutting off your own arm is really a good one, unless you're that guy who got his arm caught and had to cut it off to survive. Gredenko is not that guy.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Save the Cheerleader, Save the Crappy Straight-to-Video Movie!

Before she was a cheerleader, Hayden Panettiere was...a cheerleader. Only instead of super healing powers, she had super cheer-krumping powers. Yes, Hayden starred in the latest installment in the Bring it On series: Bring it On: All or Nothing, a 2006 straight-to-video gem which I had the pleasure of catching on ABC Family this weekend.

Hayden plays Britney, a high school cheerleader of the Clueless type, who moves from Beverly Hills to Crenshaw, where she attends "Crenshaw Heights," a predominantly African American school. There, she joins the cheerleading squad (despite an oath never to cheer again) and butts heads with the captain, played by Beyonce's little sister.

Highlights include a scene in which Britney brilliantly incorporates krumping into a cheerleading routine, more OMG's and IDTK's than you can shake a spirit stick at, and a cheer-off at the end between Britney's old and new squads, which requires multiple suspensions of disbelief.

Lessons learned: Hayden Panettieri can dance, can manage to not look totally ridiculous in a part as stupid as this one (aside from the krumping scene...she's not a miracle worker, people), and thus deserves our respect.'t tell your new cheer squad that you're missing a big game because you have to go to your dog's funeral when you're really going to homecoming with your quarterback boyfriend, because that'll come back and bite you in the ass.

Money quote (thanks, IMDB!):
Camille: We're gonna use these steps ya'll came up with for the competition.
Britney: Wait a minute. I've told you since day one, add krumping, and you've just...
Camille: Are you done yet?
Jesse: [Grabs Britney and covers her mouth] Yes she is.
Camille: Good. Now get ya lil white ass over here and show me the steps.
Kirresha: What's the matter with her?
Leti: I think it's caffeine withdrawal. Coffee's like crack to white people.

Yeah, did I mention that the movie might actually perpetuate racial stereotypes while purporting to shatter them? Let's all just be grateful that Hayden has moved on to bigger and less racist things.

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The Amazing Race: Don't Let a TV Show Be Your Travel Agency

Last week, I complained that the producers didn't provide flights to the racers. This week, I'm complaining because they did. I'm just never happy. But really, something went terribly wrong here, in that they only gave the teams an hour to make an international connection in their provided flight. So the teams who are stuck on this final flight – Eric and Danielle and the Guidos – miss their connection on the way to Warsaw and end up over twelve hours behind the other teams. The other teams are actually starting the next leg of this two-hour extravaganza by the time the final two teams start to do the tasks in Warsaw. The déjà vu is not lost on the Guidos. As you'd expect, the first leg is non-elimination, and Joe and Bill are the ones who get the dreaded Mark of Elimination. Unfortunately, they have no opportunity to move out of the back of the pack. There's a Fast Forward, but it's gone by the time they get to it, and there's an Intersection, which just means that there are four teams battling it out for last place, and doing so all at the same time. With the 30-minute penalty, the Guidos' only chance to survive is some kind of staggering, earth-shattering incompetence on the cousins' part. Since they're only very incompetent this week, the Guidos can't pass them, and they're eliminated. And while part of what keeps the race exciting is the fact that circumstances can conspire against anyone, and knock even the strongest players out (see: Rob and Amber), but it's just frustrating to see good teams like the Guidos go home when other teams – okay, really just Charla and Mirna – remain. How are they still in it? Voodoo? It's voodoo, right?

Meanwhile, The Amazing Race becomes The Amazing Run-Through of Everything Americans Know About Poland. There's kielbasa, Chopin, Curie, and Auschwitz. I think they're just missing pierogies. Oh, I know Chopin is cool, and it's always nice to see them tackle serious subjects, if only because it slaps the petty bitching right out of some of the teams (Eric and Danielle, in particular), but I think one of the best things about The Amazing Race is learning new things about other countries. Like the trained rats in Mozambique. The only thing I discovered about Poland that I didn't know before is that Poles, in general, hate Charla and Mirna. (Sounds like my kind of people.)

So, for a two-hour episode? Pretty much meh. No real tension, and nothing terribly exciting, except for Oswald's romance with the piano player. I believe those kids can work it out. Go back to Warsaw and claim your man, Oswald!

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