There's some stuff that happened in this week's episode that was derivative of previous seasons, like finding out that the new secret solution to plot holes is buried under the flesh of some random dying bad guy, waiting to be ripped out by Jack Bauer's gross, unsanitary hands under the holding-back-sick eyes of random medical technicians. There's some stuff that happened this week that came out of left field--not the moment when the Entourage guy shot his sidekick-in-moledom, that was heavily indicated--but the way in which he shot her, which was to throw in a creepy as hell "I want to look into your eyes as the lights go out" moment. There's some stuff that happened this week that was so garishly stupid as to almost make the show unwatchable, worst of all being the moment where you had to watch that redhead female agent throw out a bunch of silly faceslaps before collapsing, weeping, into the uncaring eyes of Optimus Bauer.
But honestly, all that really matters?
The stunt guys used an air cannon to flip a car in the streets of Washington DC. And while it's not going to break the cinematic record set by Casino Royale, it's still, you know, a fucking car. Getting flipped. With an air cannon.
Suck it, Knight Rider. Suck it dry.
Dollhouse - "The Target" by Matthew J. Brady
And the plot thickens! That's what you're supposed to say on the occasion of the second episode, right? Really, it's not that surprising; this sophomore installment pretty much goes exactly where you would expect, laying down a few clues to mysteries, attempting to deepen some character relationships, moving ongoing plots slightly forward. Par for the course, to use another cliche. Joss Whedon does seem to be trying to inject some of his humor where he can, if only in the character of the nerdy tech guy. And Harry Lennix, who plays Eliza Dushku's "handler", manages to bring some gravity to the situation, in that he actually is forming a sort of bond with Echo, only to see it stripped away every time her memory is erased. It's nice to have an actual competent actor on the premises.
But, but, but! Dushku (who I learned, through a Hulu commercial, actually does pronounce her name as "douche-coo") is the one who drags the show down into laughability. It's going to be hard to talk about the show every week without harping on her inability to convey emotions other than happiness, but since she's so prominent, that's what is to be expected. When she's excited, or aroused, or flirty, she pulls it off with aplomb (surely a tough trick, that one), but this episode asks her to convey terror, confusion, and anger, and those scenes all see her looking lost, her eyes giving away that she is trying so damn hard to pull this off but just can't. It's embarrassing for all involved, or at least for me as a viewer; I only hope Joss Whedon feels a little bit of shame.
Still, it turned out to be an enjoyable hour of TV, mostly due to everyone else involved, especially The Middleman's Matt Keeslar as a sick fuck who decides to play The Most Dangerous Game with his programmable prostitute. He goes a bit over the top, but he's fun to watch in all his moustache-twirling glory. And an ongoing subplot about an escaped Dollhouse resident who seems ridiculously crafty and evil is reminiscent of the bad guy from Monster; maybe Whedon has been reading the same manga that I have lately. I'm also pulling for BSG's Helo to do something interesting besides glower and get strung along endlessly, but at least he should be able to play off fellow BSG alum Romo Lampkin (you know, the lawyer guy with the silly accent) occasionally. It's pretty trashy TV, but hopefully not a total waste of time.
Farnsworth Bentley announces that he has brought in a “master of the English language” to teach the G’s about eloquence, “the ability to communicate in all social situations.” He then introduces Peter Franklin, an English teacher in the San Diego Unified School District. Now, I went to high school in Southern California, and I can tell you that you don’t have to be anywhere close to a master of anything in order to teach there. Odds are better that, when looking for someone to teach this week’s lesson, the producers looked for the stuffiest old white guy who would use the most ridiculous amount of street talk before making the G’s say a bunch of tongue twisters. Hence, Franklin’s opening speech, ripe with Christopher Walken-worthy phrasing and air-quotes galore: “We all know you can communicate very well in your own ‘crib.’ ‘Hanging.’ With. Your. ‘Homies.’” And there you have the irony of MTV—they simultaneously seem genuine in their concern to improve the G’s lives, but they’re not afraid to trot out plenty of unhelpful stereotypes for comic relief as they try. The G’s, however are just too damn likable to get bogged down in the show’s clichéd aspects. If actors were playing these characters, they’d be annoying as hell. But no actor would be genius enough to describe the nature of eloquence as Fahim does without a hint of self-awareness: “Words is important, you know what I’m sayin’? You know, like ‘Gimme all your money.’ People gotta understand that. So, I’m sure there’s like a nice way of putting that too, like, ‘Please, can you hand me all your money?’”
For the challenge, the G’s have to apply what they learn from Peter Franklin to a rap battle hosted by Chamillionaire—which might have been a decent idea had a single one of them possessed any skills on the mic. The winning rhyme of the night was, “I am here for a change/I want to fix my life/I do not want fame/When it comes to struggle/We have all seen the same/And if you can relate/Please hear my pain.” Of course, they add the beat in post-production, and nobody bother to tell the dude that pain doesn’t make a sound. JoJo is so nervous to be rapping that he gets mad wasted. A-Felon (ask him if he has any felonies) brags all night about his battle prowess, and then not only chokes, but blames it on one of the other guys off stage. Granted, that guy, Macho (who everyone else in the house seems to hate) has a bit of a problem keeping his tongue in his mouth. After the battle, Macho and A-Felon get into it, with AD egging them on. A-Felon drops the F-bomb half-a-dozen times. At the end of the episode, Bentley gets rid of JoJo, A-Felon, and AD all at once—drawing a hard-line at public drunkenness (as opposed to the private drunkenness Dirty/Barron exhibited in episode 1) and hate speech.
Lost - "The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham" by Zeb L. West
Eloise Hawking (Daniel Faraday’s mother) gave Jack a tongue-lashing last episode, demanding that he “stop thinking how ridiculous it is and start asking yourself whether or not you believe it’s going to work!”
I’ve adopted this as my new mantra for Lost, and if this week’s episode is any indication, a little faith goes a long way. “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” was a triumphant return to Lost’s sweet spot of balanced action and exposition. The episode kicks off with the revelation that Locke has risen from the grave with the help of the island’s magical juju.
While the introduction of a new set of airplane crash survivors feels somewhat like a pack of party-crashers showing up after the keg is kicked, the writers seem dedicated to fast forwarding their progress. In the opening scene, the ‘obvious terrorist’ islander (Caesar) is snooping around an already discovered Dharma station (much speedier than our main crew who took a whole season just to pop the hatch!). This newest set of survivors (the ‘Other Other Others,’ maybe?) accuses Locke of not being on the passenger list, and his candor about being dead during the flight makes for some great dialogue. When asked why he’s wearing a suit, he responds between chomps on a mango, “I think this suit is what they were gonna bury me in.”
The Locke-centric episode fills in the events between when Locke pulled the icy crank and when he was revealed to be the dead Jeremy Bentham. He awakens in Tunisia (where the icy crank lets you out, apparently) only to be abducted by Charles Widmore. One of Lost’s most juicy and central plotlines is the uncertainty about who to trust between Widmore and Benjamin Linus. Which one of these seemingly evil puppet masters, if any, is actually working for the greater good?
John is convinced by Widmore to rally the Oceanic Six and get them back to the island, with the assistance of the familiar and mysterious Matthew Abaddon. Spurned by each of the Six, Locke turns to suicide. Although Locke has been told that his death is the only way to save the island, his dark thoughts are encouraged by Jack and Kate viciously accusing him of being a lonely old man. Having also discovered that his longtime love Helen Norwood has died, Locke buys an orange extension cord with which to hang himself (a fitting end for a handy man?). Lost’s greatest strength is in the twists and turns that flip our assumptions and subvert our expectations. Without revealing more, I’ll say that Locke’s suicide scene is a hugely satisfying example.
DISCUSSION POINTS: A friend pointed out that Locke’s resurrection reconfirms a going theory that Locke is Jesus, and that Benjamin is Lucifer. I love religious undertones because they always lend the creepiest mythos to a story, but there seems to be some factors lacking in the analogy. Who would God be? Where would Heaven and Hell be? I’m curious, and would welcome any comments that illuminate the theory!
BURNING QUESTIONS: Where is Clare? What happened to Aaron that is so unspeakable? Why was it so significant to Ben that Locke knew about Eloise Hawking? (Feel free to theorize in the comments section!)
REFERENCE SHOUT OUT: To sharpen my facts, I’ve enlisted the excellent help of http://lostpedia.wikia.com. This is the best site I’ve found so far, but if you know of any other good ones, let me know!
No actual fans checked in this week to write anything about American Idol, but here's the breakdown of the most important factors in the latest weeks spat of historical American television:
1) With The Millionaire Matchmaker back on television, American Idol has officially stopped being the most disturbing compilation of degenerate human waste currently being offered by the idiot box. That's not a mark in American Idol's favor, as the Millionaire Matchmaker is basically the genocide of reality television, a show so incredibly bile-inducing that it makes those videos of people being beheaded by terrorists look acceptable by comparison. Still, it's a sort of progress.
2) Paula Abdul once again reminded everybody why she is on the show--not because of what she does when she's on it, which is something akin to dosing up your senile grandmother with enough amphetamines to appear cognizant of her surroundings, but not so many that she actually reaches coherence. No, Paula reminded us by going on some radio talk show, making a vague sounding statement that "four judges doesn't work" only to sleepily admit that she likes the latest addition to the cast, making her the only person in America. She claimed at the time to be referring to the long lost jungle of Season 2, back when Idol could scoop up millions of viewers by auditioning a bunch of pre-pubescent poor kids at a Ramada Inn. Either way, America and Kara Di-whatever the fuck her name is took it as the slight it was probably drunkenly meant to be. If Paula ever comes out of the coma she calls life, somebody should give her a cookie. She's finally earned one.
3) And finally, the latest addition to the final three: Adam Lambert, who was and is terrible, some girl who sang in a style that will ultimately destroy her vocal chords before the month is out, and some random guy that hadn't been mentioned or shown at all until this week. All of them were, and will forever be, terrible human beings who have now, officially, failed at the challenges of life. Hopefully they'll ignore the judges advice "not to google their names", because nothing would please me more than for Adam Lambert to find out that some random internet blog said this: Adam Lambert is a fucking knobjob.
Previously on The Bad Girls Club--Does it matter?
The episode opens with Ailea screaming "Battle royale bitch...be prepared for the hurricane bitches!" Okay, I guess it matters. Last week all of the non-Ambers, who call themselves the Fab Five, had decided that a late night drunk isn't finished until everybody yells at the Ambers and demands...well, that's not really clear. It's not an apology, because they receive those. It's something else. Fealty?
The Fab Five leaves to go sleep/pass out/drink more, and Amber M seems to feel she is taking the blame for Amber B's behavior. Amber B points out that everybody else talks shit. Amber M doesn't think that this is the point, as she doesn't watch the tapes of the show and realize that she talks as much shit as Amber B, the only difference being that it's sort of funny when she does it, and sort of desperate and weird when Amber B does it. Either way, everybody on this show does talk shit. So what? It's a meaningless statement. It's certainly not a defense.
The next morning, Amber B calls her mom. She's crying and mentions that she thinks she should leave. Her mom says she should if that's how she feels. There's a sense that her mother has had this conversation with Amber B before.
They play some terrible song by some female singer. It's sort of like a bad Sheryl Crow song, as long as you understand that a good Sheryl Crow song is still, by its nature, a terrible song.
Ailea and Whitney have either woken up to continue last night's conversation about the Ambers or they have stayed up all night doing the same. Either way, Ailea's confessional consist of her saying: "I talk shit about the Ambers--at least every day. But at least I don't get caught when I do it!" One should understand that this is considered a mark in her favor, if you operate by Ailea's rules.
Amber M sits down with Amber B and tells her that she talks "a lot of shit" and that she "acts fake". Amber B admits that this is true, but that she does it because she doesn't feel like being "real" with the other girls in the house. Amber M tells her that she should just apologize whether she means it or not. At this point, in a genius editing move, Amber B says she wishes Kayla would come back and put the Fab Five in their place. At this moment, the phone rings, and it is Kayla. Kayla tells the Ambers that she misses them, and to "keep their head up."
Over in the kitchen, Ailea pronounces aluminum incorrectly, probably because she is a moron. Amber M's attempt at an apology is rebuffed by Ailea, who is angry that Amber M refuses to repeat whatever it was she specifically said that she is apologizing for. It's clear at this point that Amber M's selective memory has to do with two things: she was probably drunk at the time, and she despises Ailea so much that it's impossible for her to remember what exact nasty thing she might have said about Ailea. She could guess, apologize for whatever it is Ailea is mad about, and Ailea might accept, but in all likelihood Amber would just aggravate the situation further. The solution she decides upon is to call a house meeting with all the girls.
None of the Fab Five is particularly interested in the house meeting, so they all agree that they will just sit there and nod vacantly and say nothing. What then proceeds to happen is a sequence where the two Ambers issue long, rambling apologies for perceived slights while the Fab Five sits, lays down, and pretends they are falling asleep. They say nothing, and before it is over, the producers cut to Amber B in the confessional:
"I'm pouring my heart out to these girls. Most of it is lies. I really just want them to stop being rude to me and realize what they did was way out of line.
Amber M asks if they have anything to say. Tiffany laughs at her and Sarah gets up to go smoke. That's it for the house meeting. Outside, The Fab Five meet up and agree that they don't believe the Ambers and will be punishing the girls continuously, that "nothing has changed."
As an aside, it has become clear that at some point during the season, Tiffany has shaved her eyebrows as close to completely as is possible and is attempting to use make-up to conceal or accent this. It gives her the appearance of having Groucho Marx's mustache living above her eyesockets. It is assumed by the viewer that she is attempting to attract some kind of insect specialist who will confuse the things on her face as being some kind of rare centipede.
The first experience the viewer gets of the new "punishments" that the Fab Five will be doling out is depicted in the make-up room, where Amber M attempts for what seems like five straight minutes, to engage a mute Ashley in conversation. It's incredibly uncomfortable, worsened by the look on Amber M's face, as she is clearly coming to terms that the Fab Five really do plan to behave like this throughout the remainder of however long this show is on the air which is either not much longer or until the end of days. The moment reaches almost unbearable Office like uncomfortability when Ashley aggravates it even further by cheerily responding to a call downstairs from Tiffany.
Kayla calls the house again, this time speaking with Tiffany. Tiffany is infuriated that Kayla would call, and after hanging up on her and yelling something about "I could kick Kayla's ass" at Whitney, the girls prepare for a quiet evening in. (This is called "foreshadowing," and it is usually delivered in a fashion a bit more subtly.)
The quiet evening in is with a psychic, who arrives at the door to be asked " What's my name?" by Amber B. The psychic's response, "It doesn't work like that" is delivered in that sort of "You can go fuck yourselves, I'm doing this to catch more LA business" that immediately makes the viewer fall in love with her, despite the viewer being fully aware that people who call themselves "psychic" are, at best, completely insane, and at worst, complete fucking liars. Delivering the sort of easy pop answers that a 6 year-old could, the psychic tells Amber B that her guy friend Greg isn't very smart and follows that up by telling the moon-eyed Sarah that her beau, the unimaginably boring Noah, "has a really bright energy around him." Ailea asks about her romantic triangle with Fazil, who she usually calls Fadoodle, and Kevin, who everybody but Ailea calls old and gross. The psychic feels that Fazil is closer to her, but that someone else is coming into the picture. Ailea is pretty excited about the new person, which is nice of her. After all, some people may be watching The Bad Girls Club for the first time, and it's good to know that virgin viewers will still get to find out that Ailea is a brain-dead slut. The evening ends with Amber B and Tiffany talking about Kayla, who Amber B misses. Tiffany "could give a fuck about Kayla."
The next day is the photo shoot for Oxygen, which is were all the posters and website images came from. It's sort of like looking into the past, if you happen to live somewhere that was plastered in Bad Girls Club posters. (Not to get all autobiographical, but that is where the viewer first heard about this show.) As was alluded in the previews, Kayla arrives at the photo shoot. Her return is met by palpable fear and jealousy by Tiffany, Ashley and Whitney, all of whom Kayla openly despises. Amber B and Amber M on the other hand are very excited, so much so that it reminds the viewer how unhappy they have been recently. Ashley's take on Kayla is that she is "ghetto", a not very nice thing to say that is unfortunately helped towards a bit of truth when Kayla snarls "The first thing I did when I left was smoke a blunt."
During the photo shoot, Kayla is ultimately difficult for everyone to be around, although the Ambers continue to cheer on her prima donna behavior the whole time. The Fab Five continue their trend of failing to pick up on things that are obvious to small children by completely missing the obvious fact that Kayla's behavior stems from her being upset about no longer being a part of the group. After the shoot, the girls part ways again, and any hope of Kayla's actual return is squashed with the girls taking off for another club date with Noah and Fazil. Fazil is wearing sunglasses in a dark club at night because they go with his personality, which is one of complete nothingness. In the middle of what seems to be a rather pleasant evening devoid of drunken shenanigans, Tiffany all of a sudden tells Amber B and Amber M that they are full of shit. Again, this is more of what is called "foreshadowing."
The Fab Five do the following:
1) Put duct and/or masking tape on all of their clothing and shoes.
2) Put up their own version of police tape over the Ambers shelves, writing on it such bon mots as "WHORES" and "THE AMBER SHOW IS CANCELED", as well as various other nasties the Oxygen network won't show.
3) They put gummi bears in their taped up shoes.
4) They hang a strip of duct/masking tape from the balcony out onto the outdoor trees, and then throw more clothes onto the tape line. What doesn't make it onto the tape line ends up on the driveway, the yard, or the "filthy" roof.
Amber B wakes up at 4:00 AM to the sound of giggling and sees her clothes everywhere outside hung from the balcony. They won't help her take them down. Exhausted, frightened, and finally broken, Amber B begins crying and asking "Why?" Tiffany, a few feet away from her, laughs in her face. It isn't a fake laugh, or an attempt to lower the tone of uncomfortable awfulness. It's just cruel, the way a kid laughs when he's hurting something smaller than him. Whitney starts making fun of her--and Amber B just gives up. She leaves all of her clothes attached to tape, on the roof, on the ground, and she goes back to her bedroom, crawling under the covers. She cries all night.
The next morning, Amber M wakes up to see the wreckage--after finding out that Amber B already knows, she attempts to get Whitney to clean it up. Whitney doesn't even speak to her--just sneers and lays in bed. Amber M realizes how bad things have gotten, and she cleans up herself. It takes her hours, most of which she spends in a towel.
For some reason the girls keep going out together--one can only assume they are contractually obligated too. Ailea has met somebody named Roland, who is an Irish singer, assumed by Ailea to be the man mentioned by the psychic. She asks Roland to come with her to the ladies restroom, not realizing, or not caring, that Fazil is also at the club and is watching her. Outside the ladies restroom, Ailea and Roland do something that is sort of like making out, if making out involved doing more outside of the mouth tongue stuff. It's actually more similar to two cartoon frogs attacking each other with their tongues than anything humans do, and may just be the most disgusting thing ever seen on this show.
Ashley has also found a playpal, a tattooed skinny guy named Sean, or Shawn, or $hean, doesn't matter. Ashley doesn't like skinny guys, but she does like drinking. (Do the math.)
Fazil decides this is the moment to open up to Ailea, telling her "I'm afraid you're going to hurt me." He follows this up by saying that he "thinks about [her] everyday" and so on. It's not clear if he's drunk, or if he really feels these things that he's saying, all of which are absurd. Ailea is drunk, and this is what she wants to hear. The girls return to the house, with Skinny Shawn, Fadoodle and Noah in tow.
And then people have sex on camera under the
covers, and the Oxygen network shows it to the viewer in the sickly
green eye of night vision. Ashley kicks the skinny guy out early, telling the viewer that "he's not in my league...sorry Sean!" Minutes later, Sarah claims not to have
had sex with Noah--considering that they didn't actually show it
happening, she must be telling the truth. Ailea has no such
defense, and besides admitting to the sex, she mentions that Fazil has a
big, pierced penis. Later on that day, Kevin--her 40-something
boyfriend she met on the Internet--gives her a call. Here's what he
"I'm full of tequila. I wanna see you. C'mon Ailea. I'm coming over to see you Ailea."
Ailea tells him no. She tells him he sounds drunk. In a confessional, she says she's over Kevin.
That night at the club, some girls start talking shit to Ashley, starting off with making fun of her for having fake tits. As disrespectful as this is, it's also clear that the girls--actually, the entire bar--isn't happy about having a bunch of reality television types in their place. The fight that ensues is a brief one, like any of the actual fights that occur, it's poorly filmed--however, it's finally obvious as to why. Because some of the fighters go after the camera operators. This is sort of brilliant actually, as it makes clear that these people actually do dislike the Bad Girls as well as reality television--they don't sign waivers so their faces can be shown, they don't repeat themselves to get caught on audio, they don't want to be celebrities--no, they just straight up go for the jugular and fuck up the dude holding the boom mike. As always, the girls end up screaming in the street, kicked out of yet another sleazy Los Angeles nightclub. The show ends here.
Next time on the Bad Girls Club, the girls go to Cancun.
According to the previews, they get in a fight in the street.
I can’t. I – what happened? I feel almost embarrassed about last weeks gush of love. I mean, I don’t take back my love, no. But I was feeling so uplifted, so inspired that a television show cold be so smart, and than we’re treated to an episode of All My Cylon Children.
I’m just disappointed that after seeing Ellen – Ellen the 5th, no, Ellen the Mother of all Cylons – so composed, so knowledgeable and mature we then watch her join the others and see her old friends and she turns into a petty teenager. I mean, her jealousy over Saul and the Six’s baby was on the Jerry Springer level of things. And it was the whole show.
I know they need to lay some groundwork. But the entire fate of the human and Cylon world seemed about to move in the “right” direction, until the whole baby thing. And then we nearly lost the whole thing. With Ellen eaten up over the baby issue, they lost the level headed leader that they all need.
Sure, it’s interesting to see that even though they are close to being Human, clearly the Cylons aren’t quite made to be like them. The belief that Saul must love the Six more than he loved Ellen because they actually created a baby is ridiculous. I mean, we can show her plenty of examples where love-for-one-night creates a baby, and love of a lifetime cannot. Do we really have time for Ellen to learn this? I mean, yeah, we can dissect it an talk about it and find some merit in this, but the overall point is that it just did not take the show to where it was set up to go from the last episode. I’m going to trust them – these writers. After they pulled off this whole Ellen-As-Creator-Of-The-Cylons thing, like it’s been planned that way all along, then I have to trust that they know what they’re doing. Right? (Please be a good episode tonight, please, please, please, please. Please.)
Oh – and don’t I feel like a slapped-ass now about my Kara Thrace prediction. Okay, so she’s not Saul and Ellen’s Cylon baby. But she’s someone’s. Or something.
-Tucker Stone, Martin Brown, Zeb L. West, Nina Stone & Matthew J. Brady