Thursday, October 30, 2008

Looking For A Date To The Movies On Jan 16...

I would never consider seeing this movie if it weren't for the star...




And isn't it ironic then that I'm now basically helping to promote it? I think the producers owe me a cut!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Search For Paris' Next Stalker Continues...

This week, Paris' BFF opens with The Virgin saying they need more Coke in the house, to which comes the obligatory "you're not supposed to do that here, har har" joke at her expense because she is so naive she probably didn't realize what she said. This can't be the road the episode is choosing to take! Tanorexic Barbie, kissing Paris' ass by wearing her new, shiny Eiffel Tower necklace All. The. Time. gets a text saying that they are about to be tested on how much they know about Paris. Study time, beauties! Oh wait, that's the wrong network. Anyway, a few of them want to compare notes, but most know it's a competition, and they should keep whatever knowledge they have to themselves in order to get a leg up. Rawr. Paris says they're "onto" her and are about to partake in a pop quiz, game show style!

The wannabes are lead into the living room, which has been miraculously and secretly converted into a seventies style game show, complete with porn-star moustached host, and wall of prizes sitting off to the side of the blonde airhead (Paris) who this time can't even be bothered to point at "what [they] might win!"

In an attempt to drive people over to the show's website (or maybe just to condense events so there is even more screen time available for the in-house drama), the majority of the "I Heart Paris" competition does not play out for home audiences but instead can be found at mtv.com. We do get to see the final round, where Stella, Bustori, and Kiki answer questions like "In which New York City hotel did Paris grow up?" (though I must point out that on the show, they phrased that in a grammatically incorrect way) and "Which city named a day after Paris?" Kiki gets all of the questions right, prompting Stella to interview that it's "kind of creepy," and the expression on Paris' face has to agree: this is supposed to be a search for her new best friend, not her new stalker!

Kiki is given the choice to go shopping along the prize wall with her newly won "Paris bucks," but she wisely picks a one-on-one dinner with Paris instead (because if she didn't, she would have been (rightly) eliminated on the spot), and Paris tells her pet Tanorexic Barbie that while she's out tonight, she will be choosing someone to eliminate. Quite the one-eighty from last week, where Tanorexic Barbie herself came thisclose to walking out of the mans forever. To her credit, Tanorexic Barbie does her best to convince the other girls she's all broken up about this, but her face has been so Botoxed that the gleam in her eye can't be hidden. Mini Me does not look pleased!

Back in the house, the wannabes sans Tanorexic Barbie lounge in the Pet's bedroom (okay, the girl freaked out about not wanting anyone to wear her clothes in week two because some of them are "dirty," but she's a-okay with them lying on her bed? Or have the ones she deemed "dirty" already left?) and discuss who they think will be sent packing. Needless to say, as in all reality show history, they all feel they're a viable candidate due to their past dealings with this "loose cannon." Paris and Kiki eat at Citrus (they mention it so many times with exterior establishing shots and within dialogue that it's burned into my brain: must try new restaurant...) and discuss the drama back at the house-- presumably because they can't find any other common ground.

Tanorexic Barbie sits on Paris' throne (already? It's only ten minutes in; I guess this is another double elimination night!) as the wannabes parade in front of her and perch on hair dresser stools. She says she hates this and never imagined having to be in such a position; the Snitch hasn't stopped crying since the Pet's bedroom scene, and her face is bright red but surprisingly streak-free; Stella's made of stone and silently shooting daggers from her eyes at Tanorexic Barbie; Bustori nods in dazed confusion; and L.C. can't stop staring at Tanorexic Barbie's legs. They are awfully orange tonight; she must have applied a new coat of self-tanner just for this occasion. I hope she doesn't leave streaks on Paris' nice, white throne; surely that'd be cause for immediate elimination!

Drunk with power, and holding a bright pink feather half the size of her body, Tanorexic Barbie asks all of the wannabes to offer a "brief paragraph" on why they deserve to stay. Maybe it's edited down, but the Virgin simply says she "definitely loves Paris... and definitely wants to be here... and definitely deserves to stay." Yeah, but why? It may have been enough in school to be all cute and sweet and charm your teachers into thinking you answered the question... but you didn't, and Tanorexic Barbie is not having it. Bustori, sucking up to Paris by wearing her diamond skull necklace, simply says they've "had [their] ups and downs," and she'll respect whatever decision she makes. She's not willing to suck up to another wannabe, which is somewhat admirable. L.C. goes on the defensive and says all of the things she doesn't do which should make her the perfect friend: she doesn't talk sh*t, namely. Well what fun is that in Hollywood??? Paris is going to want a friend she can gossip with! Stella simply shrugs and waves her hand, wiping a fake tear from the corner of her eye, but Tanorexic Barbie pushes her and says she needs an answer, and Stella diatribes about her strength. Um, not a good idea then to pretend to cry if your main selling point is how tough you are, chicky. Plain Jane talks about how "real" she's been and points out how nice she has been to Tanorexic Barbie thus far. The Snitch, through her sniveling, talks about how fun she is; again, another nice sell! Mini Me says she's a "great friend" because "if you're in with [her], you're in for life." It sounds more like a warning to Tanorexic Barbie than a promise to Paris, but whatevs.

Back from "commercial," Tanorexic Barbie singles out the Virgin to tell her she has a good heart and has never said a bad thing about anyone in the house, so she's safe. Then she turns to Stella and reminds her how she was physically threatened during the racial disagreement. She also tells the Snitch she sometimes has a "crazy" look in her eye, but it's not so much menacing as it is spacy, and she pulls the karma card and tells Stella: "TTYN" and that she "may gather her things." Stella does but can't stop herself from saying that she doesn't think it's very fair that she was eliminated not by Paris' hand but by someone she had personal beef with.

Mid-episode Burn Book Confessionals have Mini Me bitching for the second time in the episode about how now the house is full of just chicks-- and not even the cool chicks like her. Back at dinner, Paris says she is expecting a text any minute now, and Kiki points out that if she eliminated someone the majority of the house likes, that's only further grounds to dislike her more. The look on Paris' face after reading the "text" is supposed to be one of shock, but it's pretty flat, and Kiki's "Oh no" is a forced assumption, but she says she wants to know now. She guesses correctly that it was Stella and doesn't feel so bad about it; she also comments on how "annoying" it is that they have to go out a back exit due to the paparazzi. Paris shrugs and says she's used to it, and I can see the strike against Kiki solidifying in Paris' mind: she's not only used to paparazzi attention, but she feeds on it, and she's going to need a BFF who loves the limelight just as much. Paris also reiterates-- verbatim, I must add-- the "physical threats are never tolerated" message that Tanorexic Barbie said in her good-bye to Stella. It's clear this is one of those times the producers directly feeds them lines of dialogue.

In a bid to get back into the good graces of the other wannabes, Tanorexic Barbie plays bartender during an impromptu pool party at the mans... well, it's actually more of a tanning party, since the pool goes virtually untouched. When Paris gets back, she says though they've managed to have a good time with each other, "no one has gotten any action in weeks," so she has to spice things up with "a game you might recognize from your middle school days." That's right, folks: seven minutes in heaven! Although since the partner is Simon Rex, or Dirt Nasty, as Paris calls him by his rap alter ego, it's more like seven minutes in STD land. And it is pretty funny when she says "he's in the closet waiting to meet each of you right now." Poor Simon: the laughing stock since way before What I Like About You (and at least then we were laughing with him... mostly).

Paris "hints" at who he is by telling the wannabes he's a famous rapper (oversell); he's constantly surrounded by groupies (nice way of saying skanks); and they will really have to work for his attention (he's A.D.D.)-- to which L.C. practically squeals her "Yay!" Do I even have to point out the Virgin is uncomfortable? No, but surprisingly Mini Me looks equally so: she claims to have figured out who he is, though, so her discomfort makes sense. Oh yeah, and she warns them that she'll "be watching." More so than just the giant painting of her that already sits on the wall, I'd bet.

The wannabes want to know what the others are planning to do, probably so they can one-up the person before them... although they're smart enough to realize they don't want to be the last one to be in there with him because "that's nasty." Ironic.

Kiki is up first, chomping her gum, and she doesn't seem to recognize him behind his dark shades, and she even goes so far to ask him what his name is. She just lost. Even before she refuses to kiss him on the cheek or give him "a hand massage." Well, I can't blame her for the last one; that was code if I ever heard it! She doesn't touch him at all in her seven minutes and instead sites "this is hard to get." Bustori is up next, and she flirts with the bodyguard before even making it into the room. She asks him his name, too (really?? I thought they were all starf*ckers), flirts with him, licks his bellybutton (Paris even seems a little grossed out watching from her AB monitor), and... oh, did I mention she has the big pink feather with her? That thing's seen some sh*t now, let's just leave it at that. She earns the nickname "Thunder Buns" and is told she's fun as she humps the door.

Paris sends the girls who have already played into a separate room to talk... or lie... about what they did in the closet. Bustori says she did what she did "for Paris" and because she just wants to win a competition. Okay, look: I know I made fun of her for being chosen as the pet simply for being born on a day she happened to be in the house, but that's certainly more admirable than winning for being a dirty whore!

Tanorexic Barbie walks in on Simon "meditating" and admits she's "got a man," so he won't cross that line with her, but he jokes around and makes her laugh, and she congratulates herself for "acting like a lady" even though she hasn't seen her boyfriend for Two. Whole. Weeks! The Snitch says she could hear those who went before her laughing, so she figured this challenge was more about being fun than raunchy, and she is asked to rap with him, do the Robot, dance around, bite each other... I'm pretty sure he is stoned by this point, and she earns the nickname "Buffalo Butt." The Virgin refuses to suck on his nipples, and even I'm not sure if his request was just a joke at that point. He did seem to have been warned about her, though, and he tells her he won't try anything "too crazy," but she agrees to give him a raspberry on his stomach.

And then comes L.C., who calls herself a "gangster," but can't even rhyme. She kisses him, gives him a shoulder massage, and tells him she's a volleyball player so she "knows how to play with balls." Meeting up with the other girls, who call her "Slutty Duddy," (which I find hysterical and fitting, btw, for so many reasons!), she admits she kissed him as they "ew" and says she "doesn't know what he has." Way to get self-righteous now! But he asked her if he could kiss her, so of course she was going to say yes! I mean, duh; otherwise is just rude!

Plain Jane decides to do "some warm-ups" before entering, and she's the only one who seems to recognize him, which probably should earn her some extra points. She tells him he can "chew on [her] cheeks if he'd like" but can't give him the "music" he asks for. She seems to be attempting to freestyle, and he tells her "the Virgin turned him on more." I died. D.I.E. Mini Me laughs as she enters, recognizing him as well, because they're already friends. WTF??? He tells her every girl has to kiss him on the cheek, and she gets oddly defensive (though if she really does know him, she knows something we-- and the other wannabes-- don't) and says she's "not every girl."

In the waiting room, L.C. is starting to panic that she made a mistake in being so... "open" with Simon and that she will go home because of it. Meanwhile, Bustori seems to be narcoleptic because she has passed out with her head tilted back. Paris says that this challenge was all about finding the line between "having a good time and being a good time" (uh oh, L.C.; looks like you were right to be scared!). Well, I guess she wants her BFF to learn what she hasn't been able to. Oddly she is impressed by the Snitch for her rapping skills (which we only get to hear now, in a purple haze flashback) and disappointed with the majority, especially Bustori who constantly talked about (and shook) her "orangutan" breasts. The Virgin is the one who gets the text from Paris, though, winning the challenge and the prize of a private slumber party with Paris, spurring a discussion of who might go home based on "who compromised their morals." Yeah, I don't think that's the problem; I think the problem is most of them had very lax morals to start with!

At Paris' house (the real one), the Virgin gets a tour of the black bedroom, the clothes closet, the shoe closet, and the space where "the music happens," and oh I can't do this with a straight face anymore, and neither can the Virgin, who doesn't seem nearly as impressed as Paris wants her to be. What Paris deems the coolest part of her house, though, is the little replica she had built for her dog's house. The Virgin doesn't seem to even want to play with the dogs, but to me, that would be the only fun part of the whole experience! They make mac n cheese and waffles, and to her credit, Paris actually gets her hands dirty cooking, which she claims she does often, which is more than the Virgin can say. Their "good nights" to each other are stiff and awkward, and I really feel like the producers are forcing this girl down Paris' throat. Assumedly it won't be for much longer, though.

Paris' voice over includes an actual "JK," and though I wasn't really listening to the first half, I nearly spit out my orange juice at that ridonkulous moment. She recaps as the girls take their hard metal thrones as Paris slips into her oversized cushioned chair. She tells Kiki she's safe because she "had so much fun going out" with her. Tanorexic Barbie is also safe because she did such a great job with such a hard decision earlier in the episode. Three of the girls, though, are just "complete trainwrecks" and are all up for elimination: Plain Jane, Mini Me, and Bustori. Huh. Paris says Bustori "gave it up" to Simon too quickly, and it was hard to watch. Really? Her? She said that was what she thought she was "supposed to do," but at least she didn't bore her. Plain Jane fights back, though, saying it's unfair to be sent home because some guy named "Dirty Sanchez" said she was boring (and she's giggling like she's not taking this nearly as seriously as Paris' stern face indicates she should). She says that would be grounds to reevaluate their friendship. Yeah, that's like pulling the "I wanted to break up with you" card after the guy has already told you he's seeing someone else. Mini Me was just "too cool for school" again, but she says she's not going to be "gandering" at celebrities; she never played that game before because it's "foolish;" and Paris doesn't need a groupie, she needs a friend, which she claims she can be a really great at.

When it's time to hear what the other wannabes thing, Tanorexic Barbie tells Mini Me to watch her patience and temper, but she's so cool, she doesn't want to see her go home. Kiki plays diplomat and says all three are great, and it totally just depends on what Paris wants in a best friend. Um, yeah, that's what the initial pitch of this show was! Wow, I really don't like this girl; how does she still manage to stick around? Paris says she can have "only one true BFF," and after a ridiculously long pause, "it won't be Mini Me." And though Paris says she loves that they got to know each other, and she'd like to stay in touch and be friends (just not best friends), she still pulls the TTYN card, negating all of the politically correct things that spilled out of her mouth just a second ago. It's for the best, though; in five episodes, I still couldn't figure out why this independent girl would want to hang in the background of Paris' world.

Paris tells the wannabes that are left to prepare for a wild weekend because the next morning (well, the next week to us), they'll all be headed to Vegas! They all clap and cheer over the idea of seeing the fake Eiffel Tower as if they're about to go to the real one. Though doing Vegas Paris style is a bit more extravagent than your average road trip, their excitement just seemed a little fake. Like Vegas itself.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Student Becomes The (Puppet)Master (S3, Ep 5)...

Last week, Showtime announced that they have ordered two more seasons of twelve episodes each of their crime serial Dexter, despite waning interest as the character (and the show in turn) shuffles down a slow and steady path of less destruction. The announcement was not so surprising, despite my proclamation that the show jumped the shark with last week's rife-with-exposition "All In The Family" episode, due to solid ratings, but it made me wonder if I could keep up the detailed descriptive writing of a show with which I once found ridiculously clever and am now growing increasingly disenchanted, not to mention bored. On the one hand, I would only be committing to a dozen articles to match the shortened season length, but at the same time, the only thing I had more than watching a once favorite program repeat itself is having to repeat myself in what my opinions have to offer. All in all, Showtime's announcement has definitely left me with something to think about, which is far more than I can say for Dexter's latest episode, "Turning Biminese."

Dex-Bot stands over Rita, watching a heart start as opposed to his usual activities, as the OB-GYN tells Rita she's at about nine or ten weeks and prepares to take a sonogram photo "to show the kids." The OB-GYN sees Dex-Bot's distraught facial expression and tells him not to worry because everything looks perfect. If she only knew, though, right, Dex-Bot? He keeps the photo in his pocket like any proud papa, though he seems surprised on the golf course when Jimmy Smits knows he has it with him. He passes it over, and Jimmy Smits is all "this is amazing; this is a human life; this picture right here makes it real." Yeah, we get it: Dex-Bot's life is going to change forever. In the next breath, though, Jimmy Smits turns and screams at some dude whose rogue ball nearly dents their cart; he may be just as erratic as his brother(s). Something Dex-Bot will have to watch for in the upcoming scenes. Jimmy Smits apologizes and says he just has his mind half stuck in the office because he has this case with a missing woman who vanished in international waters; he has no jurisdiction, but he's convinced the husband is guilty because his first wife ended up dead, too. Basically, the law has his hands tied, and he is subtly asking for Dex-Bot's help. If this was the Dexter of seasons past, Jimmy Smits would probably turn out to be some undercover FBI guy there to trap Dex-Bot, but since the writing has been less than creative lately, I'm going to take it at face value and say Jimmy Smits really is just in a pickle... and Dex-Bot, itching to kill someone, anyone soon, will get him out of it. I'm just as itchy to see it as he is to do it.

I'm going to ignore the voice over from now on in order to save myself (and you guys reading this) from repetitive commentary. Though when Dex-Bot tees off, Jimmy Smits leans in and says "Slice it," and Dex-Bot thinks "Yee-aah," it's smile-worthy, the inner dialogue is not nearly as witty as it could be or even as it has been. So we're onto lunch with the Smits' and Rita and Dex-Bot, and the girls just got back from the spa, about which Jimmy Smits makes some flamboyant hand gestures and stereotypical responses, and Dex-Bot cheekily says that "lying naked on a table-- helpless? No thanks." Not exactly a sexy fantasy for someone in his line of work. Wifey offers to list Rita's house with her agency so the two can buy something bigger and better together, faster, but Dex-Bot says he might want to keep and sublet his own apartment. He compares himself to Custer-- being surrounded on all sides-- but Jimmy Smits graciously rescues him, and the women go off to the buffet line to try some "to die for" crepes.

As Dex-Bot walks back to his apartment, he reflects on how many times he's walked the same path or taken a dip in the pool (um, really? We've never seen it!), relaxing with the words "No children allowed." Finally back upstairs (what looks like hours later, as the windows are dark), Dex-Bot researches the guy Jimmy Smits was talking about to make sure he fits the code, but even as he voice overs about it, he sounds bored-- he is just going through the routine, as this is his ritual, but he doesn't seem to take the same excitement from it that he once did. Is he escalating? Does he need more and more of a thrill now to feel the high, much the way a junkie will grow to need more and more of a fix to get to the same elation. He imagines Harry standing in his apartment, talking to him about this is not a suitable place for Rita and a family. He walks over to the air conditioning unit and pulls out Dex-Bot's souvenir of slides (it still gets to me how he can hide that in there like he never needs to turn that unit on... in freakin' Miami!) and adds that what's his is now Rita's, as they are in it together 50/50. Though he is a bit bitter that Rita and Wifey are planning his life, he (falsely) figures at least he still controls one thing, and he prints out the report on the Wife Killer.

The C.I. sits in his SUV and chats with Deb on a cell phone as she sits in a matching SUV supposedly on the other side of the street. They get into some cute little disagreement over whether its "bupkis" or "bumpkiss," and she tells him to split before he "gets made." He tells her the way she's trying to protect him is cute, and she curses at him, but they both get out of their cars and head to the alley to find the guy... strung out. That's a bit anticlimactic considering they were looking for info on Pheebo, who was a dealer; you have to figure whoever they find who knows the kid will be a crappy witness. The C.I. gets down on this guy's level, both literally and mentally, and the guy admits Pheebo's gone and gives them another name "Wen-dell" (emphasis on the latter).

Batista, Hot Cop, and Masuka arrive at another crime scene where the D.B. has skin missing, but they are really only there to observe because the Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction. Two seconds later they all regroup with Girlfriend, Dex-Bot, and Deb in the offices, and Hot Cop stubbornly refuses to give up his files even though no one has even asked him to do such a thing. Girlfriend placates them with a "we're still in charge" and tells them the forensics are on their way, and she needs their input. Masuka, in a dress shirt and tie, doesn't take Deb's bait when she sets up a great "that's what she said," and that's about all there is to say about him, as he's still sulking over what Hot Cop said to him last week. Deb pipes up about bringing in the Wen-dell kid, who was Pheebo's doorman, in order to find out why all of these people connected to his boss end up dead, and the camera pans to Dex-Bot, as if to remind everyone here is another chance for him to be recognized for being at the scene of a crime before it is committed, and though Dex-Bot says "he may be one of those dots" (being connected, get it?), there will obviously just be another upcoming "lucky" break for the D-Man.

As Wen-dell is lead through the station, Dex-Bot holds one hand up to the side of his face in the worst "I'm inconspicous" attempt ever. His cell phone buzzes, and who else is it but Jimmy Smits, who is canceling their lunch date because the Feds have informed him the Wife Killer is going to skate. This has made Dex-Bot's quest all the more clear: "there's due diligence to be done." He stares at the Wife Killer's mugshot that he just happens to have lying in wait as the music picks up.

Deb gives Wen-dell attitude for not being able to get in touch with his mother. She can't question him without her present because he's only fifteen, and she's really annoyed at having to sit and stare at the kid and not get any work done. You can tell she's really annoyed because she's slouching and glaring at him and practically drumming her fingers on the edge of her desk. Glancing over at Hot Cop, it seems she gets the idea to seduce the kid the way he seduced the Lady-Killer from last week. Except, her idea of seduction is to get up in the kid's face and talk about her own father being gone a lot in order to get her and her brother what they really wanted. Wen-dell is all "Yeah, I bet you had things real bad" in a way that was probably supposed to be sarcastic, but his line reading is off, and she has the audacity to admit that she didn't. I'm not quite sure how she thinks this is going to help her reach him. She mentions how Harry never came to her softball games, and he doesn't believe she really played because "she doesn't look gay." Aaand I just lost my last shred of respect for this show. She buys him roach coach food while Hot Cop babysits.

In his lab, Dex-Bot has the lights out, and he closes the blinds, but he's not up to anything shady; he's actually just leaving for the day. Bumping into Deb en route to the elevator, she asks him when he's giving up his apartment because she's going to want to get out of her lease early and move into his. Ew. He repeats his sentiment about wanting to keep the apartment, and she shoots him down like everyone else has so far. I don't know why he keeps looking for someone's approval; by now he should know that his line of thinking is not "normal." Ramone steps off the elevator, all polite-like, and they stare after him dumbfounded as they point him in the direction of Girlfriend's office. Deb says it's a big mistake that the Sheriff's Department would send him to look into their files because "that guy's wound way too tight." And coming from her, that's saying something (which she at least has the self-awareness to admit)!

Girlfriend makes the mistake-- okay, I can't give them the benefit of the doubt anymore and call their actions "mistakes" like they just have so much on their plates that they get overwhelmed and distracted and word vomit just "slips" out-- of telling him that Wen-dell knew Pheebo. That kid will probably end up with some broken limbs within a scene or two. She also says she's surprised to see he's the one the S.D. sent over, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few people over there had to incur some broken limbs, too, in order for it to be this way. Girlfriend tells him to cut the B.S. because she knows he's just there to insert himself into his brother's case, and she threatens to go over his head and get him reassigned... but in the same breath, she promises she won't do that. Because, you know, they go way back and stuff...

In a pro golf shop, Dexter watches the Wife Killer, who has a serious case of Gay Face, eye some potential new Suga Mamas. He gives us the dude's back story in voice over, offering to return the favor of "throwing overboard" or some other not-so-clever pun for which he has become known. Dex-Bot sidles up to the register, where Wife Killer is purchasing a bunch of boat equipment for some "cruise" he's going on, and he manages to "charm" some information on diving schools out of him. Wife Killer offers him a tip on where to go to avoid having to take weeks and weeks of class and just get right into the water, and Dex-Bot plays the "maybe I'll take my boat for a chance to get my wife off my back" card, banking on the fact that Wife Killer won't be perceptive enough to notice he doesn't wear a ring. Apparently, killers really just want to connect with other people, so if you say something about one of their interests, they will cling right to you. At least that would explain Dex-Bot and Jimmy Smits' relationship.

Batista grabs Deb coming out of the bathroom (for a second I thought the icon was of the men's room symbol, but then I just realized I needed to put on my glasses) and tells her that Wen-dell's mom has finally arrived. She asks him if he's ever heard the term "bumpkiss," and he corrects her, over which she's not too upset. My guess is that becomes some sort of cutesy secret word between her and the C.I. now. Before he lets Deb go back to her desk, though, Batista asks her about the stings she was involved in when she was undercover: did she try to hit the same places over and over again, namely? He makes up some bull about a cold case he's working, and she gives him what he needs. He can't be so sad to actually want to try again at picking up a real hooker, so my guess is he wants to see Kristin Dattilo again. She must have made quite an impression on him. Masuka walks by and is the same stiff, professional guy he has been all episode, and Deb calls him out on it because it's weird, and he's like a zombie. He says maybe he's just realized he doesn't have any friends here, and the only time people come looking for him is when they need something, but no one read his paper and only one person (I'm guessing Dex-Bot?) showed up at his keynote speech. He doesn't rat out Hot Cop for the hurtful things he said, though.

Deb's desk is empty when they finally make it back, and Hot Cop says he had to cut the kid loose because the mother didn't give consent. The mother knows that the last person who talked about Pheebo ended up dead-- well, not entirely true. That junkie the C.I. led her to is still alive as far as anyone knows. Deb yells at Hot Cop for trying to make her look bad-- ooh, yeah, that does seem to be his game! Whispering in people's ears, undermining their hard work, and then swooping in with a "Well, at least I have a good attitude" whenever the bosses are around. I know people like him; sadly, I work with people like him. At least in my job, lives aren't on the line, though-- just sanity.

Batista drives up and down Hooker Alley and manages to find Kristin Dattilo again. Let's just say I was right and leave it at that. His awkwardness around her (or any woman, I guess it would be) makes me uncomfortable.

Rita has a "surprise" for Dex-Bot in the kitchen: brochures for houses. There are a lot, but they are the only ones Rita "fell in love with" after spending the day with Wifey looking at open houses. His "no" is flat out and quite cold, and she seems genuinely taken aback, like she wasn't expecting it from someone who really has only given such standoffish stubbornness. He says he doesn't want to look at houses right now, and he plans to go fishing all day tomorrow, and they get into their first television fight (ie: over mis, or lack of, communication). But Dex-Bot has to go fishing as planned because Wife Killer is only in this part of the water for one day (apparently Dex-Bot found his itinerary?). Jimmy Smits shows up on Dex-Bot's boat to try to smooth things over and tries to get an invite out on the boat, but when Dex-Bot doesn't take the hint, he just says that he really has to be in court anyway. Lucky how those things turn out, no? Oh, but Dex-Bot does have to catch a fish now because Jimmy Smits wants to pop it on the grill that night.

Batista allows Ramone to address the team, but Deb takes offense, as if he's there to check up on the work they "didn't do the work right the first time," and Hot Cop sticks up for her-- and hard. Everyone's so surprised that Hot Cop has to actually say "Yeah, you" to Deb to clarify who he's defending. Masuka speaks up and says that Ramone's case is not connected, though, because the skinning had minor traces of ink in the last one: someone tried to dig out a tattoo, perhaps to further avoid identification? Also, the newest victim wasn't actually strangled but smothered and made to look like she was strangled-- a copycat or some desperate guy with enough of a background in forensics to make it look like a copycat just to get one murder to stick on the dude who killed his brother. Then everyone sticks up for Masuka when Ramone says it's just his opinion. Aw, it's one big happy family again; group hug! Anybody? Anybody?

Panning across the beach (!) Dex-Bot lies on a chaise in the shade watching Wife Killer out of the corner of his eye. Harry appears to him again, telling Dex-Bot he will have to make a choice just like Wife Killer has-- just like he had to. Harry makes the point that Dex-Bot might think he's different or better but really they are the same: Dex-Bot has his own mistress. When he hallucinates his mother sitting on the chaise in front of Harry, needing more sunscreen, he realizes he's had too much sun. He manages to sneak onto the sea taxi without one of those laminate ticket badges hanging around his neck. Meanwhile, Rita is still looking at houses with Wifey, who is now pulling the whole realtor selling angle and telling her to focus on how she "feels" inside a home and not get bogged down by cosmetics. She realizes she has to use the bathroom, which is apparently allowed in homes for sale so long as the current owners aren't there to know about it I guess, and when she returns outside to announce she's bleeding, Wifey rushes her off to a hospital. Though a little spotting can be normal early on in a pregnancy, this is a show in which the main character doesn't want anything to do with his own child, and as the weeks tick on, and the belly gets bigger, it's going to become equally increasingly harder to like him because of that. So the only solution is to get rid of the kid in a way that will tug at the heartstrings of the audience enough to allow them to ignore that the show basically aborted a plot point because it got too difficult to write.

Deb pulls up to Wen-dell who is sitting and smoking on his bike. He knows the law and that she can't talk to him, and she says that's true-- officially. But she bribes him with some burgers, fries, and onion rings and tells him it's okay for him to call her "unofficially." He takes her business card, and I think he should pass it on over to Dateline: To Catch A Predator, but whatever. He tells her he has no idea where Pheebo is because he stayed out of his business. He figures Pheebo's probably just hiding out somewhere and that when she finds him, he still owes him three weeks pay. They're being watched by someone off in the distance, noted only by the binocular ring around the frame. How modern. The kid seems to know he's being watched. At least someone on this show is savvy.

Somehow Dex-Bot has snuck into Wife Killer's room, and he stabs and sedates him before laying down the Saran wrap. I don't even want to know how he fit so much of it in the little backpack he had on him when he boarded. He tells Wife Killer he had fun shuffling full the shit on his iPod but that his shipmates are all up on the "lido" deck and can't hear them over the crappy house band music anyway. He tells Wife Killer he has to make this quick and doesn't have much time to talk because the last sea taxi leaves soon. He comes clean about the changes he will go through soon, with the marriage and the baby, and he talks about the poeticism in the taking of a life and the making of one almost simultaneously.

Jimmy Smits pulls his ADA card to the admin nurse in the hospital because Wifey can't get any information since she's not family. She grumbles that she can't get Dex-Bot on the phone and "the father should be here;" she's more upset than Rita probably is. No one mentions that he's out at sea where there's probably no reception; good looking out, Jimmy Smits! Somehow he manages to get them into Rita's room, and Jimmy Smits says he sent the Coastguard out to Dex-Bot's fishing spot to look for him, but he wasn't there, so now Rita is worried that something has happened to him, too. Again, good looking out, man! Like she isn't stressed enough!

Deb shows up at the C.I.'s house and starts rambling about "you know who," and some chick in an oversized tee shirt answers and says he's still in the shower. Deb slinks away, embarrassed, and takes a call from Jimmy Smits who asks her if she's heard from her brother. He tells her he's at the hospital with Rita, and she gets panicky again, but this time it's rightfully so because he doesn't give her any other information.

Dex-Bot says that Wife Killer was incapable of compromise (um, how does he know? He didn't take the time to talk to the guy before he fatally stabbed him!) and that it cost him dearly, but he doesn't want to be like him. He turns his cell phone back onto twelve unheard messages and rushes to the hospital where he learns the baby is fine. Rita says if she stays on bed rest for a few days, they can go home. She calls him out for not being around and being scared that she could have lost it without himthere, but she compromises and says they should wait to find a house until after they get married, and he says he's ready when she is. She wants to do it sooner rather than later-- before she starts to show. Um, where are Cody and Astor while Mommy is in the hospital, by the way? Dex-Bot crawls into her hospital bed with her and says that he "may never be able to feel his baby's heartbeat... emotionally," but as he glances up at the monitor, he knows he can never ignore it, either. It's oddly comforting to him.

Deb shows up and tells him she hopes this was a big wake-up call for him, and he says he gets it now-- how his life is changing. And he tells her she can have his place, but once again he has missed the important point of her upset: she doesn't want him to be like Harry, missing out on homework and plays and softball games. He says that would never happen, but he's strictly referring to turning out like Harry. I hope that's true; I hope you can fight your surroundings and turn out better.

Jimmy Smits tells Dex-Bot that his office got a report that the Wife Killer was just reported missing in a strange twist of irony. He checks up on Dex-Bot's "alibi" and tells him how the Coast Guard couldn't find him and flat out accuses him of being on that cruise ship "finishing what I couldn't." Dex-Bot denies it, even when Jimmy Smits puts it in terms that would make him sound like a vigilante. Jimmy Smits tells him they're the same yet again; he tells him he "gave him a chance to avenge two women who the system had failed" (uh oh, if it was a set up all along, was that guy even guilty?), and he seized the opportunity. Jimmy Smits' getting excited! And Dex-Bot is being led around by someone new now, someone who may be far worse than Harry. At least Harry wanted to protect Dex-Bot; he had a conscience underneath it all and was "repulsed" by what Dex-Bot truly was. Jimmy Smits, though, is proud and sickly infatuated with it; something tells me he'll soon be using Dex-Bot for his own dark deeds. Dance, puppet; dance!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This Year Halloween Costumes Are More Fun For Adults…

When we were kids, Halloween costumes consisted of some very specific staples: there were the princesses and fairies, the ghosts, witches, and vampires, and then the pirates, spacemen, and cowboys. Sure, there were variations on each, and some of the more creative-minded parents would go all-out on homemade suits that resembled crayons or food items, but the majority of those waddling from block to block were nearly identical. As more companies and specialty stores got in on the holiday, though, the hot ticket pop culture characters became fair game, and soon Ninja Turtles and Care Bears roamed with reckless abandon. Nowadays, it seems those fads are drawing more and more interest and inspiration, retiring some of the tried and true classics simply because they have not been revamped for the times, and kids aren't the only ones getting in on the dress-up fun. Despite what Miranda claimed in The Sex and the City Movie, the only two choices for women are not "sexy kitten or witch" anymore!

And the timing couldn't be better because for the first time in years, I am finding myself mildly interested in taking part in the long-lost tradition. Between the office costume contest I have heard so much about and being invited to three separate parties, I feel like I just can't avoid it this year. I don't want to be too common with what I opt to do, though, and of course the political costumes will come out in droves: Obama supporters going as Obama, McCain supporters going as McCain, some menfolk as Joe the Plumber, and even women against Sarah Palin going as Palin... and then bringing along a friend dressed up as an assassin to act out a little skit in the middle of any party or parade. However, those choices are a bit obvious. Some may even get a group of their best girlfriends and go as the girls of Sex and the City themselves, which is really just an excuse to buy a new designer outfit, if you ask me (and yes, I'm a little bitter that I didn't think of it first!). But that won't win too many points in the creativity department either. This year seems to be all about nostalgia, and those who want to take home a Best Costume prize should start looking back in order to go forward.

Trends are cyclical, and 2008 has truly been about the most popular kids in the class coming back to their reunion and still ruling all. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and 90210 are back on TV again; the New Kids on the Block released a new album and toured the country; and Indiana Jones released a new, if somewhat lackluster, installment. A great group costume would be to go as the NKOTB boys circa their late-eighties heyday, sure to garner laughs as well as a trip down memory lane. This-- or any boy band costume (another favorite would be 2ge+her)-- is a unisex idea, but perhaps works best when it is a woman in drag, stepping into the shoes (and Hammer pants) of her favorite Block member of yesteryear. Even cone-bra'd Madonna or jean jacketed Debbie Gibson is a nice callback. Plus, it's an excuse to dig out your old leg warmers, crimping irons, and plastic neon bangles, and the best part is, you won't have to spend money on an expensive get-up out of which you'll only get one use.

In honor of the new Harry Potter film, which has been delayed until 2009, many are opting to dress up as Harry himself or simply one of the other Hogwarts students. Logging onto the official Harry Potter website, you can get assigned to a specific school within the campus and then get directed to a costume website that will help you pull your "official" look together. The sweater is simple enough: gray with gold and maroon stripes that could pass for a piece of USC merchandise, but pair it with an embroidered robe, a light-up wand, and some spell books, and you're in business.

After her reality show spun catchphrases by the handful, Rachel Zoe became a household name to more than just the fashion-philes. With her black leggings, black boots, loosely draped fur, flying saucer-sunglasses, and Starbucks cup and Blackberry perpetually glued to her hands, it should be a fairly easy ensemble to put together. The one downside to going as Ms. Zoe this year is that if you forget to pencil wrinkles and dark shadows under your eyes, most will probably mistake you for an Olsen twin and relegate you to the "outdated and no longer relevant" costume category.

Similarly, some other choice costumes that will only be clever for a limited time (read: this year) include Lil Wayne for the dudes (a black mop, a white wifebeater, and some liquid eyeliner to draw on tattoos), Teen Pregnancy in honor of Jaime Lynn, Bristol Palin, and presumably Miley Cyrus or Vanessa Hudgens in a year or so for the chicks (complete with Mrs. Jonas tee-shirt riding up to the midriff thanks to the bump), and Celebrity Rehab (big sunglasses, crazy long hair, endless supply of cigarettes—not completely unlike the Rachel Zoe costume), which works for either or both, and also plays into the nostalgia factor because most of them are C-List has beens anyway. But personally, I think I'm leaning toward being "Facebook" and basically just sticking a bunch of little round buttons all over a plain tee shirt and jeans and calling myself "Flair." Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thank Your Lucky Stars You Are Not In Chris Jaymes’ Family…

A young man (Jeremy Sisto) gets high with his cousin's boyfriend (Eric Michael Cole) and wanders around in a bathrobe, distraught over the fact that his wife (Monet Mazur) kissed a female friend of hers; his older brother Matt (Keeslar) sleeps with their dead father's newest wife (Judy Greer)-- while his corpse is still in the room, I must add; and a "seventeen year old" (Christine Lakin) gets roofied. Sounds like any wannabe Playboy mansion party, right? Well it’s not; in fact, those are the events that unfold in Christopher Jaymes’ new dramatic narrative, In Memory of My Father.In Memory of My Father doesn't so much say independent film as it does scream "a bunch of buddies rent a camera and pretend to be slightly different versions of who they really are." In fact, though the events center on the patriarch of a family's death, his wake is only full of thirty-somethings who all seem to be there because they are friends or exes or current boyfriends and girlfriends of his kids, and it looks much more like a pool party than a period of mourning. For simplicity's sake, each said kid is just named for the actor who portrays him or her-- and each of those characters is more pompous than the last-- yet each also seems to think he or she is plainly philosophical. That alone is something else that is quite common to those in L.A., let alone in the film industry, and because egos run rampant in In Memory of My Father, it is just self-deprecating and self-reflexive enough to have those who are infatuated with any and all things Hollywood eating out of the palm of Writer/Director/Star Chris Jaymes' hand. To the more general masses, though, his attempt at a pseudo-intellectual commentary ends up sounding more like the incoherent ramblings of those whose synapses are chemically fried; it is the kind of piece that many will scratch their heads at but then end up praising simply because they think what they don't understand must be over their heads. In that way, In Memory of My Father almost suffers from the David Lynch syndrome.

The film opens with Jaymes standing over his "father's" dying body, holding a Canon XL2 and capturing the old man's last few breaths on tape, as was apparently demanded from he who dedicated his career to the business of production. He is supposed to document what his father meant to those in his life through interviews and raw b-roll footage, which he hires a few extra guys to wander around and shoot. Perhaps Jaymes was distracted, though, by wearing so many hats both behind and in front of the camera-- or perhaps he was on something himself when he wrote and shot this whole feature in the span of a week's time-- because the resulting film is overly convoluted-- one part verite and one part melodrama-- and tries to do too many things, say too many things, and be too many things all at once. It comes across that Jaymes is desperate to make a statement as an auteur in perhaps the same narcissistic way his characters are desperate to be the center of attention at a time and in a place that really should be about something so much greater than just them.

Jaymes is oddly comfortable in such a dysfunctional world, which may make his own story more interesting but doesn't do much for a film that could have benefitted from a fresh pair of eyes, if not at least a slightly different perspective. In one scene, he sits down at the piano in the living room to sing an original and supposedly "on the spot" ditty about his family, delivering more exposition than emotion. When his uncle "who stole his mother from his father" slaps him across the face and says he's "the most selfish bastard he's ever known," it's hard not to agree. Though there is pain behind Jaymes' words and actions (as there is with all of these no-last-name kids), it is damn near impossible to relate to the immaturity that abounds.

There are so many superfluous F-bombs and excessive sex talk and drug use in In Memory of My Father that suggest a savagely raw attempt at authenticity but comes out just... sad. These grown men and women act more like kids now than they probably did when they actually were minors-- forced to grow up quickly on the outside due to both their father's professional and personal way of life but stunted emotionally and left in a perpetual state of adolescence. They may not be able to grieve for the man they think they lost years before his heart and lungs finally gave out (though flashbacks indicate there was more love there than these overgrown teenagers can acknowledge), but they can't seem to stop grieving for themselves, locked in a constant state of self-pity that is just-- despite the best marketing efforts to convince us this is actually a dark comedy-- sad.

In Memory of My Father does have phenomenal casting on its side-- Jaymes is the spitting image of a younger David Austin, who plays the deceased father, and the supporting cast is full of familiar faces from both television past and present from Sisto to Greer to Nicholle Tom and Marc Vann, each of whom delivers a performance from the gut, causing conflict within the viewers when they find themselves hating the character but rooting for the performer-- but the film itself is manic, mirroring how the characters themselves teeter on the edge of a complete breakdown. Is that a completely a unique and refreshing take on such a serious and personal subject? No, but it is profound nonetheless because between the fighting, the cursing, the incestuousness, and the self-medicating, facing your own family during this upcoming holiday season should suddenly be looking better and better!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

He's A GoofBall, Too, And That Makes Him Even Hotter...

Sadly, this did not make the cut of tonight's episode, entitled "Yellow Fever," as Kim Manners opted for a more traditional, as-scripted take, but it's certainly one for the DVD blooper reel, and it certainly made me love him anymore! Oh yeah, the the scratching he's doing on his arm is part of his character's story arc for the hour; he's not a junkie.


Doo Doo De De De De Doo-Over!...

In today's increasingly technologically enhanced age where everything from groceries to long lost relatives can be found online, I didn't see the point in my mother still paying for a subscription to TV Guide. She may not have joined the digital cable crusade just yet, but even without an on-screen guide, she has the vastness of the internet at her fingertips: she can log onto a particular show or network's site to get timeslots and episode summaries, or she can go to tvguide.com and find all of the information in one place. But yesterday I managed to find one reason why that glossy publication is still relevant: exclusive sneak peeks at season premieres, namely 30 Rock! Inside every issue of the October 27 magazine was printed a special code to be redeemed only at iTunes in order to download an advanced copy of the season three premiere... and for free! So armed with a night with nothing to do until the new Top Design and The Island at ten (why is it that everything I enjoy is on opposite each other??), I tuned into "Do-Over" with a bag of popcorn and some mini marshmallows and hoped I wouldn't laugh so hard I choked.

"Do-Over" opens with Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) walking down Fifth Avenue to her television studio office. She smiles and swings her oversized purse happily, looking exceptionally well put-together in one of those sweaters-with-a-built-in-belt that have become so popular, when she hears a deep "Hello pussy cat" from an adjacent car. Now, Liz has been set up to be somewhat bumbling and quite dorky, so she may not be as used to this sort of behavior as the next girl, and she reacts as someone would if they've heard it enough times to be annoyed but not enough that it rolls right down their back. In New York, those catcalls are as common as cars honking; eventually you learn to tune them out. She bends down and calls the guy a "creepy piece of..." as the window rolls down and Jack (Alec Baldwin) grins back at her. Miraculously, he is back from D.C., though he can't talk about how "until Cheney dies, which is going to be a long time from now; [as] that man is mostly made of metal." He is determined to get his job at NBC back, though, to which Liz is completely on board because Devon is so horrible he "doesn't even care when we should have cake for the people whose birthdays are on the weekend." Man, I would hate Devon, too, even if he is Will Arnett. I take cake very seriously. Cake and blocks of cheese; you will learn in the coming weeks as I recap each episode of 30 Rock that Liz Lemon and I are kindred spirits. In fact, if I had been born about ten years earlier (and you know, of a writer's imagination), I would be Liz Lemon. Liz is also upbeat (and dressed up) for her interview with the adoption people; she has cleaned her apartment and prepared answers to all potential questions, and has the unrealistic optimism that things are going to go smoothly that only someone who has never seen this show should have.

In Kathy Geiss's office, Jack tells Devon he would like to offer assistance despite their past differences. Kathy has headphones on and is presumably watching the newest Mark Wahlberg flick... or SNL skit, more likely. Devon laughs off Jack's expertise saying he only needs help in picking which John Mayer song to which he and Kathy should "do it." Not helping your case for playing straight, Devon; only chicks like Mayer... and he's even too sappy for some of them. Jack laughs right back saying he's missed projections and the "theme park fire didn't destroy any of the things it was supposed to." Ouch, way to call out your own parent company, Fey... though we all were thinking it! Devon clenches his jaw as Jack says the rumor is he's in over his head, but Devon just says that he should know the rule is to keep your friends close but "your enemies so close it's like you're almost kissing." As they stand nose to nose, I suddenly remember the gay bomb from the season two finale, and I can't say I wouldn't be a little excited to watch that romance play out. Instead, though, Devon just offers Jack a job in the mailroom, and he accepts.

Jenna glides down the hall with a residual check from some stereotypically ridiculous commercial she did for Tokyo University, in which she drinks from a cola can and then gets slapped in the face. She tells Pete, Lutz, and Frank she plans to use the $300 toward boots they can all enjoy her wearing. That would be the most ridiculous thing in the scene, but of course Tracy saunters in with his porn-video game fully packaged and ready to hit shelves, once again one-upping Jenna in how insane his actions are. Um, I'm sorry Tina; I know you're super busy with the double duty as Palin on SNL and everything, but you've already done this storyline last year with the Pacific Rim Emmy episode... Tracy announces he has sold sixty-one million copies, each priced at sixty dollars, and even Jenna knows she should be getting a slightly larger residual check from that due to her vocal grunts being featured in the game (Helen Mirren was not available after all). Tracy says he thinks he did it alone, though, and the check they cut him for four hundred million is the "prizz-noof."

Liz tosses some mail into a cart being pushed by Jack, who says Devon may have tried to humiliate him, but he doesn't understand that he has worked his way up from the bottom once before (speaking of, it's almost five minutes in and still no Kenneth? What gives!?), and he can too do it again! The last time took him twenty-two years, but now he thinks it should only take nine, making him a VP again by the age sixty. He was already promoted to Head Mail Guy, and he's had the job just a few hours! Liz heads out, reiterating that they "really can have it all."

Cue Megan Mullally who plays a slighty disinterested and very judgmental adoption home study caseworker who grills Liz on why she wants to adopt. Though Liz has the pageant "with so many children in need of good homes" answer, Megan assumes it's infertility, but Liz says it's "other." Megan plays hardball, saying it's important that she doesn't lie when Liz says she's thirty-seven, and then she asks her how many times a year she has male guests back to her place for sex, to which Liz says a few but that she can cut down. I get a mental picture of her eating a block of cheese alone on her couch and wonder if that "few" isn't one of those lies Megan just warned her about. Megan gets oddly specific about a webcam ring, tests the smoke detectors by lighting a magazine on fire with a candle, and gets Liz to admit she was arrested at a shipyard in Germany because she thought it was a topless beach. After admitting she works sixty to eighty hours a week (in television, is that all?), Megan says it seems demanding, and she should probably pop by there tomorrow. Liz shakes her head emphatically, and a bit afraid, as we dissolve to Jack's old office where Jonathan looks longingly, and perhaps a bit sadly, at Jack as he brings Kathy her Soap Opera Digest. She leafs through hungrily (I have to wonder a bit about this poor woman's audition process; most actors would never consider playing a mute, let alone a mute who's also a bit slow), and he says that he knows it must be hard having the weight of her father's legacy fall on her shoulders since Devon is really nothing more than a "party boy." He offers her his help and service, and she slides her hand on the inside of his thigh. Huh. I did not see that coming.

It must be a new day because Liz glides into her writer's room looking even more refreshed and in a new, freshly laundered professional ensemble. She calls for everyone's attention and tells them a woman is coming by the office later (they "oooh" as you'd expect fart joke writers to do, even when she explains that the woman is simply coming to evaluate her for an adoption). Kenneth stands in the background, just over Liz' shoulder, as cheery (and nicely tanned) as ever, and all I want to do is log onto nbc.com to see if he has his new episodes of his web series up there yet. I want behind the scenes at the Olympics, and I want them now, sir! As Liz lectures them on being on their best behavior, not cursing, and taking down any porn they may have in their offices, Cerie is also in the background, just over Liz' other shoulder, looking just as orangey-tan as Kenneth. Ooh, the rumors that would start at my office! Pete and a non-descript female writer we've never seen before both rush out to their respective offices, but Frank protests because it's "movie party Thursday," and he brought in his tape of circus accidents. Finally, Liz also tells him to change his hat. I was hoping they'd get around to addressing the velcro and interchangeable terms he puts up there; it's like he's trying to coin his own "Me Want Food." Liz also tells Pete to have the set design guys turn the green room into a nursery because she "may have lied about some stuff."

Jenna follows Liz into her office and tells her she has a serious problem, to which Liz, as she removes odd artwork and knick knacks from her clutter, says she told her not to get involved with her stalker. But no, this is not about "Yolanda," it is about Tracy bragging about the money he's earning from his new venture, and Liz of course fabricates some big, special "something" that he has planned that will make Jenna embarrassed they even had to have this conversation when she sees it. And then she gives Jenna a box of penis pasta to hide in her dressing room.

Jack, now back in a power suit, finds Liz in a control room and tells her about Kathy's advances. "in his swimsuit area." I'm not exactly sure when these two became so chummy, or when Jack even decided he was okay with it, let alone instigating it, but it works as a plot device, so moving right along... He says it was not nearly as erotic or fun as "when men do it to women" and asks if she's ever been sexually harrassed but just as quickly, in the same breath, corrects himself with an "of course not" and wonders aloud how far he'd have to let Kathy go in order to get his old job back. Posturing, he knows he would be no better than Devon if he did that, so he'll have to suck it up for what he now thinks will only be five years of climbing that corporate ladder because he was promoted again to Director of Mail Systems. Man, if only I had known it was so easy to move up at NBC, I would have tried for their page program!

The green room is miraculously done, and Pete tosses Liz a "Lil Creeper," which is one of those "simulating real life baby scenarios" dolls that says "Mommy, Mommy," as Liz tucks it under her arm and "awws" at it. She asks Pete if it's so wrong that she just wants one of these to grow up and resent her (I believe they stole that one from Phoebe Buffay) and then tosses the baby back on her way out the door.

Passing Tracy's dressing room, she strikes up a conversation about how Lil Wayne always buys gifts for those who worked on his albums each time they "drop," and he says he understands he should start his rap career up again, and it will be "all in due time." Liz doesn't roll her eyes the way she would have in seasons past; perhaps the summer vacay has given her a renewed tolerance, or perhaps she is just practicing patience and understanding with him the way she will have to with any kid she gets, and she calmly explains that she was referring to his videogame. Tracy takes the not-so-much-a-hint as an order.

Jack mentors some other mailcart pushers in the park about "dressing for the job they want to have" when he spots Devon running barefoot out of the bushes and down a hill, followed slowly and not really suspiciously by two leather-vest wearing urban cowboys. Jack tells him to get ahold of himself because of the company he's running, but Devon counters that he has a plan to quadruple profits within seven years "the old fashioned way" by shutting it down for two years. Turns out he sold the E from GE, and now they're partially owned by Samsung. The demand should be high for lightbulbs by two years from now, if they've gone without for so long, so Devon's pretty confident (or delirious) that his plan is good, and he scampers back up the hill on all fours.

Finally at ten and a half minutes in, Kenneth has some dialogue! He greets Megan in the hallway with a salute and a message that adoption is a wonderful thing because three of his nine siblings (WTF?) were adopted-- and just as I mumble "My guess is by someone else," he says that someday he's going to find them. Heh. This is the kind of show I'd want to write for if I still wanted to write for television. Liz takes her on a tour of the studio, saying it's a fun place for a kid to grow up because of all of the costumes and such, as a lightbulb explodes (perhaps ironically considering the previous scene) above their heads, raining down little orange sparks and expletives from the G&E guy in the rafters. Liz calls a passerby by the wrong name, and he corrects her, saying the guy she's thinking of is "the other black guy." Megan is not amused since she apparently has a "black husband," but I think it's comical and poignant because it's an easy joke but also a commentary on the number of minorities who actually work in the film and television industry. Studios were built and founded by old white men, and to this day, unfortunately those are who still make up the majority.

Anyway, things aren't going as smoothly as Liz had hoped, as Jenna interviews that she used to date OJ Simpson, and he was a pure gentleman, which basically proves she can't judge character. Cerie says Liz is mature and "totally deserves custody of her kids;" Pete says he was living with Liz when he was separated from his wife and is now in anger management for shooting a co-worker with an arrow; Frank did change his hat, but the new one says "Horny," and he's basically just recapping one of his circus accident videos... all in all, it's not looking good for Liz unless Megan takes an unconventional liking to Frank and decides she wants to do him (poor Judah; that's not going to happen). Jack whisks her away from Megan and spills that Devon has lost it, and Jack doesn't have five years to get back to the top. He says "for the greater good" he has to go upstairs to do Kathy Geiss.

Tracy shows up just in time (ie as Megan was wrapping up her visit) to thank everyone who helped him make his videogame "the most profitable thing since the war on terror." He passes out personalized gifts to everyone-- from solid gold nunchucks for Frank to a chinchilla coat to Pete-- and then kisses Megan squarely on the lips and tells her to look out for "his girl Liz" because they go back like... "babies with pacifiers" (or at least that's what I heard in my head!).

Devon, also hitting the self-tanner too hard, strolls into the Craft Services area, not in Connecticut like Jack thought he was, and Liz tells Kenneth it's imperative he keeps Devon down here until Liz can get to Jack. Though he doesn't know what imperative means, he remembers what Devon likes and distracts him by doing push-ups as Liz rushes upstairs (man, if only she dragged Megan with her, the woman could see how much cleaning up of other people's crap she already does on a daily basis, and really, isn't that what being a mother is all about?). Jack and Kathy are slow-dancing to "Good Vibrations" when Liz announces Devon's back, and Jack tells Kathy to "cover herself" (the top button of her cardigan is mysteriously askew) as he races out with Liz to get in the 'down' elevator just as Devon is arriving in the 'up.' It is an awkward ride, as Liz tells Jack he smells like strawberries, and he says it's the "lipgloss she put on me so I could be her fancy boy." Awkard moments with 30 Rock, just something else you can see more of at nbc.com. Man, they should offer me kickbacks or a contract, or at least an on-site link to my blog!

Jack asks Liz if this is how his life was supposed to turn out for "the kid who walked four miles every Saturday to caddy because his mother told him golf was a game for businessmen." I ask why he's suddenly turning to her for advice-- the woman who had lettuce in her hair and who ate so many bull semen Mexican chips she got a false positive on a pregnancy test. What exactly happened to him in D.C. after that gay bomb was released to make him think she's more together in general let alone more together than him? He tells her this job was all he ever wanted, and he guesses he's lucky for not having her biological need for children considering he slaved away for two decades to get to where he was (and wanted to be). Liz asks Jack if he's sure Kathy, the woman in the Dora the Explorer underwear "clearly made for an obese child," really wants sex or maybe just attention since her world is really all about unicorns and soap operas (hey! Don't forget Mark Wahlberg or he won't tell you to say hi to your mother for him!) Jack makes the point that soap operas are all about sex, but Liz says no, the best part is actually when someone's twin comes back to ruin a wedding or pulls a gun at a fitness center. Uh oh, I smell foreshadowing! Where did Pete put his bow and arrow? Megan interrupts, and Jack gets right on with giving her a tour of the studio when they run into an irate Jenna and her "Free Hugs" coupons from Tracy. She plans to sue him as Liz frantically waves her arms to get them to stop, but they're too wrapped up in their own world to notice her. Down the hall, the nursery is being turned back into a green room because everything is a rental, and baby dolls fly through the doorway into a big makeshift trash bin. Megan gets in Liz' face much the way Devon was in Jack's earlier and says this is a "serious breach of trust," but Jack swoops in to save the day as he always does, explaining he has been mentoring her, but before he can say anything too profound, Kathy swoops in (literally) and shoves Megan into the wall after seeing her walking with Jack. Between the shrieking and accosting, Megan has had enough and tries to run away and escape but gets hit in the face with Frank's nunchuck and goes down. Everyone scampers, fleeing the scene of the crime, and Frank places his weapon in her hands in a way that calls to the CBS hit opposite them in this Thursday night timeslot, CSI. It's subtle, but it's there, and it's in those moments-- where maybe you have to look a little for the reference or think for a minute about the joke-- that I think this show is absolutely brilliant and incomparable.

As Megan is sprawled, passed out, on the couch, Liz takes a look at her adoption paperwork and wonders how she can raise a kid here when she can't even keep a grown woman safe. When Megan stirs, she has no memory of the day, so Liz tells Jack to give her twenty minutes before they have to take her to the hospital so she can have her-- wait for it-- "Do Over." He tells Kenneth and Pete to "make it happen" as he heads upstairs to give Kathy "the full soap opera." They agree that though their actions may be a little less than stellar right now, neither of them is the worst because (and here's my favorite non-sequiteur line of the night) "at least [they're] not graduate students; graduate students are the worst."

This time the interviews go surprisingly smoothly, even though Frank is still wearing his "Horny" hat and says Liz reminds him of his own mother because in a certain light, she has a little mustache. She even manages to get that guy's name right this time when he passes her in the hall (I wonder if she asked him to walk by because really, how coincidental can it be otherwise??). Megan still tells Liz that as a single woman with a demanding job in a non-traditional environment (what is this, 1952?), she is not an ideal candidate for adoption. Well, yeah, not ideal, but not impossible, either, right? RIGHT? If Liz, with her much higher income and non-expendable job title, can't even pass these rigorous standards, what chance do I stand? For her credit, Liz offers an impassioned speech about how she feels her life will open up if she has a child, but that if her job is a deal-breaker, than she should just tear up the form because "these weirdoes are my family." Megan says she wishes there was a box on the form for passion, but you know, there's not, and just as she says she is willing to reconsider, her short term memory goes out due to her head injury, and she just says "I'm here to do Liz' adoption." With a groan, Liz concedes that it's time to take her to a hospital.

Panicky Jonathan finds Liz and tells her to get upstairs because Jack is about to "debase himself" to save the company. Cut to Kathy pulling off his shoes as he reclines on what appears to be a life size teddy bear with a stuffed unicorn in between his legs. I guess he didn't lock the door when he kicked Jonathan out because Liz is able to burst right in, with one hand covering her eyes, I must add, and tell him he's just as bad as Devon. He winks at her and says he thought she was at the fitness center with her twin. She turns toward the TV which is playing a clip of Days of our Lives (and it's nice to see Nadia back with "Real Philip") with a generic "Soap Opera" bug on the bottom right of the screen and gets the hint. He says nothing is going on; he and Kathy are just working together. Liz, playing the part of jealous lover, whips off her glasses and warns them it better be true or she'll make them disappear like she did "Vivian or... Patch." See? Days of our Lives, though she did pronounce it Vivienne, and Lord knows Louise Sorel never played her to be French! Kathy is enthralled by the live show as Jack tells Liz she's the only woman he's ever really loved, and she finally says her first word when she tells them to kiss. There's not even a second of pretense as they both wrinkle their noses and decline.

Outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Jack is now wearing a red tie, signifying his return to the top. Devon asks him if he has any mail for him, and Jack tells him it's all over because Kathy has hired him to advise her in all business and financial decisions. Devon says he's not stupid, and he's made his own plans to secure his future. He jumps in front of a car and yells that he's going to sue everybody (didn't Amy Poehler use that line in Hamlet 2? Dude, don't steal from your wife-- not cool!) Tracy jumps out and says he's already being sued, so Devon tries again as Jack goes after him.

Finally back in his office, Jack asks Liz how Megan is doing. It should be noted she's back to her usual jeans and sweatshirt with no more reason to look presentable or try to impress. Liz says unfortunately Megan has made a full recovery so she'll have to start over with a new agency, and she finally acknowledges that this could take a lot longer than she anticipated. I know that's life, and it's probably better for everyone that they present the process somewhat realistically, but a part of me can't deny wanting to see her get her baby by the end of the season, like would happen with any traditional "happily ever after" sitcom simply to give me (albeit potentially false) hope that it could happen similarly for me someday, too. Liz turns back to gaze at Jack, and he asks her if she needs anything else, but she shrugs and says she just likes seeing him sit there. And though I will miss the Mark Wahlberg pin-ups Scotch taped on top of the framed photographs and awards, I have to agree with her sentiment.

So if you can put aside some obvious new character flaws (and let's face it, I'm going to because if I don't, and I stop watching this show based on one rushed episode, then I will have no comedies left at all!), it is nice that this first episode of the third season focused on the chemistry of the players that somewhat small but fiercely loyal audiences all across the country have come to know, love, and root for. It wasn't perfect by any means, and there were moments I wish could have been done over, so to speak, but there were so many clever, quotable lines that in the end, it really was a great way to welcome everyone back to the show and the network after a prolonged hiatus. It's somewhat bittersweet, too, because if the promos and press releases are any indication (and shouldn't they be the main indication?), the rest of the season will be all about the guest stars, and sadly, once a show begins to revolve on those they parade in and out, even if only for an episode each, that usually marks the end for said show, and it's just too early for 30 Rock to go down that road! I feel like I've only just discovered it; they can't take it away now!


30 Rock officially returns next Thursday, October 30 on NBC.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maybe Paris Should Just Get A New Dog...

The wannabes are tanning at a fake Grotto when the two Tokyo survivors return to the States, and of course they fill them in about equally fake Tanorexic Barbie. Something tells me this is the theme for the episode, you guys! In a city where the people are as plastic as the palm trees, the fact that Tanorexic Barbie is being ostracized for not being "real" enough is simply laughable. Everyone on this show is putting on an act; she's probably just the most upfront about it... or her act just doesn't "fit" with the others,' so in a very seventh grade girl way, they're ganging up on her. Paris may not be able to find a BFF out of this crowd, but she has certainly created a clique all her own.

Onch announces he's the "alpha male" in the house now that BrWHINEan's gone, and I'm geniunely surprised anyone knew he was there in the first place, and Stella poignantly points out that Onch is too loud and flamboyant. Obvs, honey, but that's his character!

Plain Jane is the new pet (well, duh, after last week's award show surprise), but she seems more put upon by the whole thing because she just wants to hang out and not have to worry about tattling. In fact, as she reads her text message, you can almost hear the vomit bubble up in her mouth when she says "XO, Paris." I have to wonder why this chick is on this show.

Paris tells her wannabes she has switched from a socialite to a "successful businesswoman," and therefore she needs a bestie who is equally professional. So she has her product line as props for a commercial to be directed by the infamous Chris Applebaum, known only for Paris' Carl's JR commercial and "Stars are Blind" music video. Yet another winner from the "real friends" category! Was Ron Jeremy already busy with Celebrity Rehab or something?

The teams break off with Vanessa the Snitch and Lauren the Virgin picking the hot male model as their "prop," despite the Virgin's obvious uncomfort at the half-nudity. Kiki (oh, she's still around??) and L.C. get their makeup done and barely make a plan past wearing Paris jeans and lounging on a chaise and maybe "talk to each other." Onch and Stella team up, and he tells her to have a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, whereas Mini Me and Bustori actually sit down and write a real script... well, Mini Me writes it; Bustori seems to be doodling hearts in her margins.

Five seconds into Onch and Stella's bag commercial, Onch gets called out for needing to "tuck it in" and for not being sexy enough. They use a convertible and Paris' trademark "That's hot" and then strip down and stuff their tees into the bag, saying it's "useful" and "fashionable," but Onch is the one with a wardrobe malfunction. It's odd that Chris points out the tucking again; he seems oddly fixated by it, and maybe he's just trying to be sure Onch really is a guy.

The Snitch and the Virgin dump the male model and seduce each other on-screen; using the Paris "Can Can" perfume and black and white cinematography. Of course they go apeshit for it because anything girl on girl is "European" and "hot" and controversial enough to get eyes on the product. Everyone ignores the look of fear on The Virgin's face as the camera goes in for an ECU on her, and she even interviews that though people think she's shy, she's actually coming out of her shell now and having fun with it. Well, I believe the former is true. Lauren, don't quit your day job; acting is not for you.

Kiki and L.C. talk about not wanting tanlines, and they do this weird thing with their arms that looks like they're pantomiming removing a shirt they don't have on. It's like a bad Intro to Acting class in there, and it's even more weird because they're trying to sell jeans. Chris is underwhelmed and says the girls have no personality and then points out that they can't fit into the jeans. L.C. seems to think he was only talking to Kiki, but he never actually addresses her, so it's a good possibility he wasn't attracted to either of them. To her credit, Kiki says she's happy with herself and not trying to work for Chris in real life, so his comments don't bother her. Whether she means it or she'll go throw up her salad later is yet to be seen, though.

Plain Jane and Tanorexic Barbie do something art nouveau with shoes, yoga, and a gong. Chris is enthralled, and Paris likes their tagline. Personally I didn't even realize they were trying to sell shoes until Chris pointed it out after their spot was over, so I don't know how successful it can be, but he raves, and they grin and mentally pat themselves on the back, so it looks like we have a winner.

Chris doesn't even allow Bustori and Mini Me to finish their script for the "Clip and Go's" because of Bustori's self-tanner on her teeth and the fact that they're "not sexy." Mini Me calls cut on the next one and then threatens to "start breaking shit." They completely lose the script for the final take and don't even interact with each other; Chris tells them they should have just come in crawling on the floor in their bikinis but then tells Mini Me that she should have done something to hide her Jersey accent because it's just not classy. Oh, and the product they were trying to hock of hair extensions are??? He's a walking contradiction, and he says he has a lot of concern about her because she doesn't take his shit and refuses to perform yet again. She's not a monkey, and she's not a mannequin, and she can smell his B.S., and rightly that scares a no-talent douche like him.

Paris says that Chris was hard on the "kids" because she wanted to see how they took both direction and criticism, and some took the points with grace while others crumbled. Chris reiterates his sentiments in front of the whole group this time, focusing his negativity on Kiki and Mini Me and tells them they're all lucky to be here. Bustori interviews that if Mini Me is so "used to working on photo shoots and working with models," then she should be used to this kind of treatment and on-set behavior and should have kept her cool. Chris and Paris picked the weird performance art commercial as the winner, so Plain Jane and Tanorexic Barbie get to keep a trunk full of crappy Paris Hilton swag. Free purses and shoes are great, but guaranteed they smell like baby prostitute and will fall apart after only one or two uses. Paris doesn't wear things twice, so she won't expect her clients to, either.

Plain Jane gets a text about presents, and she rounds up the troops, but Onch delays because he's reapplying. The cameras are watching him put his makeup on, so I'm not quite sure what he's afraid of. Needless to say, this is going to reappear in just a few minutes... They all get necklaces of the Eiffel Tower, courtesy of their narcissistic den mother, and the moment is cut short because it's quite frankly just superfluous. Instead of watching them model their new jewelry which will probably leave little green marks on their chests, Paris says it's hard to tell who's real and who's fake in Hollywood, and also apparently in this house, so she calls in her own fake BFF (and fake cousin) Perez Hilton to get some insight into her wannabes. He says he's going to be spending some one-on-one time with everyone today, but not before plugging his website.

Cue the montage as he calls them in and asks ridiculous questions like who the biggest slut is in the house (they say Onch, but who really knows considering no one-- aside from L.C. has had opportunity to hook up with anyone) and then asks about their best attributes. Tanorexic Barbie says she "digs really deep everyday to try to understand where people are coming from," and eyes roll. He asks who has fake boobs, and both Bustori and the Snitch deny they do; Mini Me name-drops some dirty, dirty rockstars she may or may not have slept with, and Perez asks her what's up with her lip (um, I'm going to guess herpes from one of the dirty, dirty rockstars?). The Virgin agrees to touch tongues (not a metaphor) if she gets extra credit; she does it, and then Perez has them rank everyone from a scale of Realness to Fakeness (there it is! So not subtle with your themes, MTV!). Kiki thinks everyone is fake, but the consensus is that Mini Me is annoying and hard to read; the Virgin is too quiet; Bustori had words copyrighted (??); Onch scores off the charts with a twenty, as does Tanorexic Barbie who has "beauty pageant answers" and then misinterprets how she is supposed to be ranking in the "oh I thought 1 was the highest because apparently I don't understand math" sort of way. Perez makes the wannabes kiss his ring (again, not a metaphor). Then he meets with Paris who sounds bored and can barely keep her eyes open as Perez says Onch is playing a game, but sometimes that's okay (um, yeah, it's a freakin' reality show!). Mini Me needs an attitude adjustment, and Tanorexic Barbie needs to be "worked on," which he doesn't understand because who wants to have to work on being friends? Well, I never thought I'd agree with the Gossip Queen of West Hollywood, but he's made the most sense so far this episode! He "crunches the numbers" and ranks them on a big pink board, saying that Kiki is dead center, to which she agrees. Slightly more fake is Plain Jane, and she's surprised, but slightly more real is Mini Me, who agrees quite cockily. Even more fake is Bustori, who sounds confused, and Tanorexic Barbie admits she thinks Bustori is fabricating a story that will look good on TV, and Bustori curses her out. Perez pantomimes the claw hands as Bustori says Tanorexic Barbie "disgusts" her. Paris says this is not a big deal, and Perez is shocked they're doing this in front of him (well, if they didn't, wouldn't that be fake???). Higher on the fake-o-meter is the Snitch, which Paris doesn't agree with, and then Onch and Tanorexic Barbie. The Virgin is voted the "Most Real" and calls Perez a "random dude," which I find hysterical; she really is so innocent! Needless to say, the top two on the fake chart are in Paris' hot seat for the episode after not being able to "say something real to Paris right now" and instead getting into a fight with Stella over who's "posing" and who's not. Oh and that’s posing as in being a “poseur,” in case you thought we had regressed back to the earlier modeling challenge…

Paris' reasoning for her nominations is that she "can't have a best friend who everyone thinks is fake," and after the little pow-wow with Perez, the wannabes sit around the table and shed a few tears and talk about how they don't want anyone else to think they hate them, and they all just want to get to know the "real" others and wah wah wah. Onch takes off his makeup in front of Paris and the rest of the wannabes to show her "the true him," but the Snitch interviews that she thinks the makeup really is who he is, and he should have left it on. Right on!

Tanorexic Barbie admits what Paris sees on her on the outside might be fake, but she has a real heart, and she truly does want to learn and grow from Paris. Onch reiterates that he wants Paris to know who he really is, and he admits to being a chameleon depending on who he's surrounded by, and though he says those are just "different sides" to him, Paris says it sounds like he "really has some issues," and I have to agree. Being adaptable in situations is important, but you should never compromise who you really are.

Paris asks the troops what they think, and for the most part it's fifty-fifty, with people feeling that Onch tries to play to the cameras too much and that if he wasn't here other, quieter people's personalities would have a chance to shine. Kiki is the only one to say that Tanorexic Barbie is the fakest to Paris, though, and Paris cocks her head quizzically, as if the gears of her brain are straining for gossip, but the producers have instructed her to keep her jaw firmly clenched. Instead, she simply says that though the fact that no one in the house trusts Tanorexic Barbie scares her, she felt bad that everyone ganged up on her and because she "knows exactly how that feels" and doesn't want a bunch of friends who "are just mean girls," (ironic considering the Burn Book confessionals, no?) she not only eliminates Onch but also makes Tanorexic Barbie her new pet. Personally I think she's splitting hairs at this point, and the only bestie I'd want if these wannabes were my choices would be one of the canine variety. After all, at least when they chew on your furniture and pee on your foot, you know where they stand! Onch says he will love and stay in touch with all of his new friends forever, and even Paris says she can't tell him TTYN.

Meanwhile, in the aforementioned Burn Book Confessionals, everyone diaries that they're sad to see Onch go and that they hate Tanorexic Barbie... except Plain Jane who seems to imply Mini Me has a substance abuse problem and is going through withdrawal. I may have nicknamed this one prematurely; she was super quiet for the first few episodes, but she's slowly starting to come into her own and emerge with a decent sense of humor. Sadly, though, humor does not seem to be as important in Paris' world as hook-ups and nakedness and C-List celebs, so unless we all learn to laugh at the show the same way we’ve laughed at Paris for all of these years, I think we're all in for a long, long few weeks.