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Wow, yesterday was wonderful.  I discovered little bugs crawling all over my stored rice, I forgot about the band concert I'd been looking forward to attending, my beloved MP3 player that I take everywhere is suddenly breaking down, and one of my favorite necklaces snapped and scattered tiny seed beads everywhere so there's no way to put it back together.

On the bright side, I also wrote some reviews.

Survivor: 
Best Challenge Commentator comment from Jeff of the night, albeit in a horrifying way: "Dave - still naked!"

Okay, that's two weeks in a row now with the half-naked wrestling that becomes progressively more naked as it goes on.  Odd, I thought that sport was more of a Japanese custom.  And I never thought there could be something more nauseating than both mud pits and gross food eating contests, but the challenges full of constant pixelation are starting to approach that territory.  I really don't like seeing women with their shorts riding up and their tube tops and/or bras falling down, writhing in a giant pile of flesh.  It's even more scarring when Dave is tackling people without any clothes on at all.  It's worth keeping in mind here that Dave is a former model - emphasis on FORMER.  Nobody wants to see that.  And I have to quote the marvelous Miss Alli at TWoP: "I have a feeling that the creativity well is running dry at the challenge factory -- this is just the Shoving And Eye-Gouging Challenge, and next week it's going to be, like, Hit Each Other In The Forehead With This Slingshot. "

The immunity challenge, on the other hand, was just painful to watch Courtney apathetically slapping at the rope with about as much force as a newborn kitten.  That was just sad.  I writhed in anguished embarrassment for her, mostly because I've been in that type of situation.  I mean, not in a physical challenge, obviously, but in classroom activities where you're split into teams, and you have to go first but you don't know what you're supposed to do, and everyone's yelling at you because the OTHER team has it all figured out, and you're totally floundering...BAD MEMORIES.  Stopping now. 

As to how I'm warming up to the players...I think I sort of like Courtney now.  She & Todd, two peas in a pod...damn, I don't want to ike them because they're almost too cutesy - they look like best friends who've grown up together and just stepped out of 8th grade to brave the halls of high school together.  And yet, they make me smile.  Plus after her "Look at me, I cant even keep myself warm!" comment, I wondering if I should give her the benefit of the doubt and stop calling her anorexic, and chalk it up to a combination of insane metabolism + small appetite, rather than a conscious decision to not eat/waste away.  I mean, anorexics don't usually call public attention to their weight, do they?  Still, I'm not sure I rule out the idea of it in her past.  

And even though I can't understand half of what James says (subtitles!  need subtitles!), he's still awesome.  Because he will BURY YOU.  Less awesome is Jean-Robert...it's quite the toss-up as to whether he or Dave is grosser, actually. Dave's got that irritating, high-maintenance boss quality to him, plus nudity, but J-R is crass and piggish and sleazy.  He needs to leave ASAP.

Alas, the votes of the night did not accomplish this.  Instead, Leslie, #1 Jesus Nut, was the first one booted off her tribe.  See, I KNEW God was trying to tell her she wasn't supposed to be on Survivor!  10 rejected applications, and then she gets booted at the first opportunity.  Although there are people I like less than her, I am not really all that broken up about it.  She seemed nice enough, but was far too trusting and naive for this show.    

CSI: 8x2, "A La Cart"
I'm feeling a need to vent with a bit of generalized meta (and a personal comparison) before I move on to the episode itself, and the meta venting is as follows:  I thought season 7 was the best this show has ever had, due in large part to the GSR arc, but I feel like this is never how they intended it to play out.  It was beautifully introduced, built up, and supported the whole way through, looking as though it had the potential to last quite some time...and then it abruptly caved in on itself with last season's finale and is now breaking down with alarming speed.  It's like when I start planning registration every semester - I have this perfectly balanced idealization of a plan, but when it comes time to execute it, circumstances beyond my control throw it out of alignment and I have to scramble to come up with various adjustments and changes.  By the time I get everything locked in & finalized, I have only the skeletal remains of my original plan, in a format that works but is nowhere near as satisfying.

I feel like that's what we're getting here.  GSR did not need to be outed in a great big scandal - I mean, I like the decision to reveal it at the end of season 7, but I don't like the fallout that results.  This episode clearly illustrates how simple it would have been for them to continue working together even after their relationship was made public, but instead we have to set it up for Sara's potential mid-season departure, which is heavy and depressing, and I currently cannot fathom how that's going to end in any kind of gratifying way.

That being said, though, I had to do a little fist-pump for the return of Ecklie.  How long has it been since we last saw him?  I missed the lurking presence of the lab's evil overlord...and I still miss him, because apparently, he's gone to the same personality-transplant factory as Rick Stetler.  Since when did he consider Grissom a friend?  He was on the verge of whining when he was going on and on about how they could have worked something out.   (which frankly, I still think they could.  Just give the pair a suspension for violating lab policies, after which Catherine can take over Sara's evaluations, and everything is hunky-dory, yes?  Oh, just agree with me, it will make things simpler)

Here we be calling a time-out to the romance discussion in order to make sure that I don't forget about the cases this week. 

There was something profoundly disturbing about having the decapitated head merrily bouncing down the road to the waltzing "Blue Danube."   That almost went beyond "Toe Tags" in terms of weirdness, as far as CSI goes.  Otherwise, I enjoyed that case, especially Grissom/Nick/Greg running the experiment with the "expensive Jell-O" dummy.  Experiments!  I'm not sure I can handle all these amazing throwbacks to the way things were in earlier seasons. 

Things like...the return of YoBling!  In what seems like a rather left-field move, Warrick's marriage is over as abruptly as it began.  I am highly pleased with this move, though, because I have missed Cath/Warrick flirting.  Loved the personal space violation in the restaurant, which may have been the only redeeming part of the second case.  I hated the format of fading to black and then having images swell up out of the darkness; it started to make me dizzy.  And I REALLY did not need the extended montage of people eating in slow motion.  Gross.  

Another thing that reminded me of the old days, though, was how none of the characters got shafted on screen time - for once, I feel like everyone got a pretty equal turn in the spotlight.  Even Greg!  He was terribly adorable in all the scenes in which he was 1-upping Nick (I particularly  loved the nonchalant "When I was a kid, I made bombs.").  Oh!  And there was a chase scene in this episode too - I move that chase scenes start taking place in every third episode, and that Nick and Greg do all of them, because they are a much hotter tag-team than Flack and Danny.  Plus I just loved Greg's little shrug when they saw the guy bolting, like, "After you."

Okay, back to Grissom and Sara.  The scene in the car was definitely cute (even though something about it seemed to accentuate his weight gain, which is always detrimental to my love of this ship); I loved the beret - SO much better than the straw hat.  And the way her hair was all wavy, plus her wild giggles...it immediately made me think of the Sara we saw the first time she appeared on the show, and the light-hearted dynamic they shared in that first scene.  I love giggly Sara!  And there's something gratifying about having it set down in canon that not only was she interested in him all those years ago, but Grissom remembers all the details of that first meeting and even considers it significant enough to be the start of their relationship.  That one went out to all the people who screamed that the season 6 finale came out of "nowhere."  And on that note, it is my fondest hope that someday in the future, GSR naysayers will die out in the manner of the NoRomos who used to harsh on our MSR glee in the X-Files fandom. 

Even above and beyond that scene, though, my favorite part of the episode was the end, with the whole CSI team out for a little fun at the go-cart racetrack.  NCIS couldn't quite pull off the concept of team-as-family thing it was trying to do this week, but CSI did it without even trying.  I've REALLY missed scenes like that; they fill me with warm fuzzies.  I especially loved Grissom's little-boy excitement when Sara urged him to go join them.  They were so incredibly cute and high-spirited together that I almost didn't recognize them...see, people, they're good for each other!  How can you possibly begrudge this?   Too bad it then devolved into this numbingly heartbreaking image of Sara, battered and beaten down, standing apart from everyone else as it slowly sinks in that this is how it's going to be from now on. 

The worst part is that I can't figure out why she'd do that to herself.  Her claim that the team needs Grissom more than her is ludicrous, because they've all grown into their own enough that they don't need his mentoring every step of the way - it's still appreciated, of course, but I'm not sure it's crucial to the team's performance.  Obviously, I'm not suggesting that they need Sara either, but the thing is...Sara needs them.  She just went to hell and back; I daresay it would be good for her to have more than just Grissom for stability right now.  She needs Catherine's rough-edged but honest solidarity, Greg's endearing and unwavering concern, Warrick's willingness to stand 110% behind his colleagues, and Nick's firsthand knowledge of the experience she went through.  Tossing her lot in with a bunch of semi-strangers seems unduly abrupt...but maybe that's the point?  Get away from the stifling confines of a team in which everyone gave it their all to find her, and where everyone will be worried that she's all right instead of just letting her get on with work?  God, I could really use a fanfic patch exploring Sara's mindset right about now.   There has got to be some deep psychology at work here.

Without a Trace, 6x2, "Clean Up"
I almost skipped this episode entirely in favor of taping ER and going to do homework at 9:00, but I decided to wait for a minute to see if there was any indication that there might be some payoff on Danny & Elena.  The first thing I saw was "previously on..." and they started talking about last season's finale, so in  my *snort* infinite optimism I perked right up, all "SQUEE!  I CAN HAS RESOLUTION NOW?" 

Having taped it so I could go watch ER, I finally got around to watching it today...or rather, I fast-forwarded through the first half, saw absolutely nothing worth stopping for, and then decided that since I was eating dinner and not doing anything else productive, I might as well watch the second half.  This was a poor decision.

For one thing, even though you'd think after last year I'd be used to this, I am still in a state of amazement that these agents cannot find a middle ground between "soap opera characters" and "robots."  Either they're heaping on ridiculous amounts of drama, or they have no individualized personalities whatsoever (except Jack, but we'll talk about him in his own section).  This week, as with most weeks, it was Robotville; we could have replaced Viv/Martin/Sam/Danny/Elena with five never-before-seen agents and it wouldn't have made a difference - they were just people doing their jobs.  For another thing, I know I didn't pay attention to what was going on with the case last spring, but I still couldn't actually figure out what the hell connected the two episodes.  There was certainly no Danny/Elena resolution, as they once again avoided each other all episode.  And for a third...I flat-out hated everything I saw in storyline of the missing girl.  Warning: if you are deeply invested in the idea that women should not be judged on appearance and/or that weight should not be a measure of one's self-worth, you may want to skip the next 4 paragraphs.  I will be getting my rant on.

We remember my policy on victims that remind me of me, right?  THEY ARE EXTREMELY UNWELCOME.  In this scenario, "remind me of me" means "overweight girl with starry-eyed notions of love", and the part that is unwelcome is when said overweight girl actually tries to pursue love.  Because, no.  If you want a relationship, especially if you're young, you need to...not be noticeably hefty.  (and weight loss is a fairly simple and straightforward process, hence my annoyance with "love yourself as you are" campaigns - you don't have to be a waif, but you should be aware of healthy BMI guidelines.  Those guidelines are plenty generous). And while it's not impossible to find someone, you have to be a complete and utter idiot to imagine that a guy who barely knows you is physically attracted to you.  You may recall that I was trying to eat dinner at the time?  My appetite faltered as soon as the smarmy guy started unbuttoning her blouse, and dinner hit the trash when her position became decidedly horizontal.  GROSS.  I'll take Danny & Lindsay's pool table tango a hundred times over before I endure this without the aid of a fast-forward button.  No one wants to see that.

And then, as if this scene wasn't bad enough, came the utter, cringe-inducing embarrassment when the smarmy guy's friends burst in, whooping and mocking her...oh my God.  Thanks, show.  Just in case I wasn't already going to be a virgin for life, now I'm convinced that any boyfriend I ever have will only be doing it to humiliate me later, and therefore the safest route is no boyfriend at all.  Yes, THANKS.    

Was the show done torturing me?  Oh no.  They had to bring on an ending showing the depressed girl overdosing on pills and sobbing in self-loathing, despite her father's heartfelt protests to the contrary.  Been there, done that (albeit in a considerably less dramatic and/or serious scenario) and don't want to know that I looked that PATHETIC.  Only pretty girls get sympathy for being mentally screwed up; ugly ones are just an unpleasant mess.  I find it no great tragedy that after all that, she tumbled over the railing and died - she's probably happier in the afterlife (unless, of course, God exists and is the judgmental bastard the Bible portrays him as, in which case her immediately preceding suicide attempt probably didn't earn her a ticket to Heaven).

In the end, I don't know what lesson the show was trying to teach me, but the only thing I took away from it was a great feeling of sympathy for the parents for having a daughter whose sweet personality was unfortunately not reflected in her outward appearance. 

My last point of irritation is Jack the Out of Control Maniac who is starting to make Detective Stabler look like a model of calm and rational behavior.  I really think the higher-ups should bug Jack with a secret camera that records all his untoward actions whenever he's out of the range of normal surveillance (i.e., men's rooms - that was disgusting and uncalled for; I don't CARE what the guy did) in order to mete out appropriate punishments.  Incidentally, I think firing him would not be outside the realm of appropriate punishments.  I know this will never happen, but I can dream, can't I?  He's making the show completely unbearable - I think I'm starting to understand why people claim they can't stand CSI: Miami. 

---------

And now for something a bit less acidic,
ER: In a Different Light (in which I shall direct all my paragraphs towards character development, and make little to no mention of the case(s) of the week...mostly because I was not paying strict attention to the TV at all times due to the fact that I was still flailing over the dual waves of cuteness from the 8:00 hour between CSI & The Offfice)

Oh, Moretti…you make me want to sharpen my stabbing knife.  I am not taking kindly to your arrogance and smirking and Abby-patronizing, and wish you a hasty exit.  Surely we could find someone else to take your place.  Like Morris.  Didn’t Morris wield a position of authority at some point?  It was unconscionable at the time, but nowadays, I’m thinking it’s the best of limited options.  Otherwise...

Tonight, not for the first time, I reaffirmed my undying love for Dubenko (contingent upon the maintenance of wildly curly hair, of course).  Even though I was as indignant and disbelieving as Abby when he agreed to go along with the cops’ attitudes, a little part of me hoped he might be up to something.  After all, this is the man who went ahead with the kidney transplant even when it was illegally paid for.  And sure enough, oops!  It’s the darndest thing, but the potentially damning bullet we removed from your suspect just disappeared!  I love the innocent way in which he pulls all this off, too, never actually admitting what he’s done.  He gets a literal twinkle in his eye, though, which makes him that much more endearing. 

We haven’t actually seen Sarah yet, but…the fact that Tony’s still taking calls from her on the cell phone is a good sign, right?  After all, it’s still summertime in ER-land, so it’s only natural that she’s still at her grandparents’ farm.  Why am I the only person who cares about this storyline?  I find it a considerably more pressing issue than how Tony is doing in his ICU rotation, although I have to admit that I like him much better when he's being calm and quiet, and connecting with patients. He was really good with that kid, even if it only served to remind me how much I miss him talking to Sarah like that.  

Loved Abby stopping by to visit Neela in recovery, as well as the fact that Neela is going to be staying with her for a while.  Yay, bonding!  Just like the good old days.  The only thing that worried me about this bit was Abby mentioning how happy Luka seemed to be back in Croatia...I fear that Abby is going to end up moving with him there permanently at the end of the season, and I just cannot imagine her being anywhere other than the midwest. 

And finally, even though I stopped caring about Sam’s love life when she broke up with Luka, I never tire of seeing the gang of nurses hit the town.  They’re an infectiously giddy group.  As for Sam’s suddenly dark brown hair…I’m not fond of it, but it’s much better than Dr. Cameron going blonde on House.


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