2. Furthering the trend of "movies these days suck," um...the first one I've legitimately wanted to see all year is Hannah Montana? I don't know! I saw one preview and was instantly hooked! THERE ARE HORSES AND AN AWESOME LIFE IN THE COUNTRY, OKAY?
I was thinking "Sunshine Cleaning" might be kind of interesting too (Amy Adams! For real this time; I double-checked!), but then they slapped it full of rated-R labels and Entertainment Weekly said something about praising female sexuality, so...no. HANNAH MONTANA IT IS.
In a related note, I want to read this "autobiography" she has coming out. In a way where I want to buy a new copy of my own to read? *throws up hands* It looks sort of cute! I hate so many things about what Miley Cyrus chooses to be, and yet she simultaneously strikes me as so dumb that I feel like she can't help doing stupid things, and that softens my attitude a great deal.
American Idol: Country Week, essentially
Angry Feeling #1: I watched it. I swear I didn't mean to! I just came downstairs looking for dinner, and then I saw my favorite contestants, and then I didn't want to interrupt Mom, and then I waited a few more minutes for dinner to be heated up, and then I had to eat it, and-and-and...suddenly it was like 8:30 before I could rip myself away.
So once again, here we have my rundown of the contestants:
Michael: Dammit! Why did one of my favorites go first?! I hate when Idol does that, strings all my favorites together at either the beginning or the end to make it easier for me to watch just the good bits, except it is always in a week when I am not watching it! (And it was "Ain't Goin' Down Til the Sun Goes Up"! I think I know that one!
Allison: See, I missed her too; I only came downstairs just as she was standing with Ryan. BOOOO, cruel irony of just missing the only one I like! I would have angrily flounced right back upstairs, except that then I saw the next person.
Kris: OK, so I really like him too. Having found out he is married, he's somehow much more delightful to cheer for than Danny. Danny only has sadness going for him - that's no fun. Kris, on the other hand, has someone alive and well cheering for him! Which is way more exciting and fun for my brain! I wasn't paying attention to his boring song because Mom remarked on his cuteness no fewer than 8 times, and it was very distracting. His cuteness, I mean.
However, I thought Simon's snobbish insistence on calling her "Little" was hilarious. I still don't know if she actually means her name to be short for "Lily," but I really don't care because YES. HAHA. THAT WILL TEACH YOU TO USE STUPID-ASS STAGE-READY NICKNAMES! Which reminds me, God, Simon was awesome tonight. For once, I'm pretty sure we agreed with everything.
Adam: I'm just going to parrot as much Simon as I can remember: "What the hell was that?" and "Self-indulgent nonsense." Wish I could remember more, because I kept going "yes, yes, yes!" to everything he said. That was just...gross. Made my skin crawl. I felt distinctly unclean. Why did he start wailing like a newborn baby/animal in pain at the end? And the rest of the time he was like...trying to dry-hump me through the screen with his eyes, and I think I just threw up a little in my mouth remembering it. Most distressingly, he sang "Ring of Fire" and I discovered that the song suddenly made me think of STDs.
Ahhh, aren't you glad that Nick and Norman and Nathaniel are gone, so I'm no longer confused about who my proper object of hatred should be? Yeah. Anoop, sir? I was mistaken; you are not the bane of my existence at all, and possibly never have been. IT'S THIS KID. THIS THING IN BLACK. RIGHT HERE. DIE IN A BURNING RING OF FIRE.
Scott: Get. Out.
Alexis: OK, she sang "Jolene," which I love, and which I in fact love so much that I cannot fault a person who sings it no matter what they do, even if they bastardize it with bluesy stylings. But it was sung by Alexis, and I can hate everything she does on principle, so nyah.
Danny: Damn it, I think I love him, except that I don't love him because every time I start to, I remember how he's the season 8 darling and predicted to win and I just HATE PREDICTABLE WINS on this show. So it's more like excessive frustration and wanting to love him - I'm sure he's extremely nice as a person and all - much the same way I feel about Desmond(/Penny) on Lost.
That being said, I didn't hate this either! And "this" was "Jesus Take The Wheel," which is one of those songs that instantly explains why people hate country music. But the way he sang the first verse, I actually was getting into it. The chorus/anything after said first verse was way too strained and over the top and he needed to dial it down to, like, 3, but the beginning was really heartfelt. I didn't know there was a way to make this song palatable, but he found it.
And that's where I finally flounced out, in no mood to deal with Former Bane of My Existence or Trailer Trash Skipper or That Ultra Boring Guy. Still. I managed to see more than half the performances. I hate myself a little for breaking so easily. It won't happen again! Next week I'll, um, make myself a sack dinner and stay off the internet until 6:45 PM so as to make sure I am sufficiently distracted!
4. HIMYM: 4x16, "Sorry, Bro"
a/k/a "TED'S OLD GIRLFRIEND IS BLONDE DONNA, AND SHE'S SOMEHOW THE GREATEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THIS SHOW."
Using a mighty streak of willpower, I will force myself to call her Karen for the remainder of this post, mostly out of respect for the fact that Laura Prepon is unequivocally fantastic. But she's still going to be Donna in my head no matter how many French words she pronounces in the appropriate accent.
On that note, I would like to reiterate that...you know how I was just saying that I've never cared about anyone Ted has ever dated? And I'm usually bored to tears when he's in relationships? *coughStellacough* THIS IS FANTASTICALLY ENTERTAINING, and I would happily watch Ultra Pretentious Ted date Ultra Pretentious (Cheating!) Karen for at least the rest of the season. Congrats, bro - you've finally found a way to shove Robin back to fifth place in my group ranking, as Robin continues to be fantastically dull.
(A chimpanzee in a tux is her idea of the funniest thing in the world? I don't get it. I'm not even vaguely tempted to crack a smile at that thought. Also, lying on the kitchen floor and sleep-eating messy ribs is just gross. So is not caring about Lily cheating on Marshall - the fact that you were asleep and imagining it is no excuse at all.)
But, you know, Irrelevant Robin aside, this episode was like...imagine a sundae filling a mixing bowl and then being topped with every ingredient that could possibly taste good in a single combination covering it. It was like that. I watched this twice and laughed just as hard the second time around, at basically everything.
The story of Marshall's pants wasn't really anywhere near as hilarious as hyped by one Mr. Stinson, but then I realized that technically, it is - the humor just rests in Barney giggling like a schoolgirl, bouncing up and down in anticipation, and finally laughing so hard that he falls out of the booth. If I had been in a booth while watching this, I might actually have done the same.
It was also pure gold to watch the unbridled joy dance across Barney's face upon discovering of Marshall's predicament, while carefully controlling his expression in front of Lily. "Huh. Marshall forgot his pants. Well. It's a good thing that you came by, because he has a really important meeting today, and it would be pretty embarassing and not at all funny if he were to show up not wearing pants. So. I'll make sure he gets these."
Cue: *MANIC & GLEEFUL FRENZY OF CHOPPING SCISSORS AND FLYING MATERIAL SCRAPS*
(plus: his reaction to accepting whatever Lily wanted to "give" Marshall? HEE. JUST, HEE.)
* Tiny wee Marshall, so cute! So adorably sad after being dumped for a boy who reads at a fifth-grade level!
* Loved, just loved all the continuity and return of old characters going on, especially Wendy the Waitress
* Including the in-episode continuity, with Marshall shown eating from a bowl of fruit in one of the early scenes, and then Lily's ex being Ted & Karen's waiter. (didn't realize those until the second watch, but I'm still proud of myself)
* The New Dart painting!
* TICKETS TO WRESTLMANIA
* Hilarious ways to hide pregnancy (gratuitous globes, for future reference, are always the way to go)
* Lily displayed some fierce glowers in this one. Too great for words.
* The title in execution, especially by one Ted Evelyn Mosby
* Brief and unrelated question - I'm sorry, College Lily, but who the hell adds salt to their Ramen noodles? In what universe does that need extra salt? I have to leave at least an inch of broth in those cups just to avoid numbing my tongue.
* Brief and sour note: I kind of never want to see Marshall without a shirt again? I always hate when people are hypersensitive to an actor's weight, but this is kind of suddenly in my face all the time, and I've deemed it necessary to strike back.
* I've not always been a fan of College Ted, but in this episode I think he just won my heart.
* I cannot get enough of College Marshall & Lily's shared eye-rolling disgust
* Did I mention how much I adored Karen at all times? Or how this episode was just jam-packed with humor without any real off moments? For the sake of the argument, I'm even willing to withdraw my earlier complaints about Robin and/or the pants story itself because in all fairness, especially within the rest of the episode, it was enough to get a laugh out of me.
A Tiny Sampling Of Quotes
Karen: I love how you guys live in a dorm. It's so American. It's like, "Let's all eat baloney sandwiches and be racist."
Lily: Of course you thought she wasn't that bad; she turned you into one of her douche zombies.
Marshall: I want to eat your brain...but only if it's organic and grass-fed!
Barney: A hug is just like a public dry hump.
Marshall: I think you're hugging wrong.
T: Would it be the worst thing in the world if I called her?
M: No, Ted, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, it would be the 4th worst thing. #1, super volcano. #2, asteroid hits the earth. #3, all footage of Evel Knievel is lost. #4, TED CALLS KAREN. #5, Lily gets eaten by a shark.
L: I'm Lily, and I approve the order of that list.
T: ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, I WON'T. Interesting piece of trivia - I called her.
College Lily: We hated her!
College Marshall: Bitch had to GO!
T: We all did stuff we regret in college. Junior year, Marshall grew a soul patch, wore a Rasta hat and asked everyone to call him "MJ Smooth."
M: I don't regret that for one second.
Bottom line: one of my new all-time favorite episodes.
BONUS: I has a post-ep fic rec! *dances and shows off*
"Giggles," in which Barney makes up for destroying Marshall's pants. Canon-compliant/friendship; half giggly and half the perfect just-nice-enough cap to this ep.
5. Numb3rs: 5x18, "12:01 AM"
Dear show: drop the basketball storyline. Drop it right now. I don't care if we're in the thick of "March Madness" (a thing that is lame and waaaay inferior to Fandom March Madness). DROP IT IMMEDIATELY AND FOREVERMORE, AND NO ONE GETS HURT.
While you're at it, please go find Amita and handcuff her to Charlie's side. I've had enough of this disappearing act - extreme measures are required.
And no, I don't care if this episode essentially took place in one evening and I theoretically applaud her refusal to appear at a lousy game. The 1-2 punch of Amita & Colby's absence cannot be made up for with Robin! Not even if I get a tantalizing glimpse of Robin & Don out on a date and strolling along the sidewalk in a very Cute manner just before this whole mess starts!
It was highly amusing to watch the old video footage of Coach Larry flipping out & flinging chairs in frustration (for a breif moment there, it was like seeing the Ally McBeal character), but otherwise I'm going to just scrub all memory of the ridiculous basketball game out of my head. It was ridiculously over-the-top and unrealistic for a show that's usually very good about not being ludicrous like that.
With that out of the way, I'm free to applaud the case of the mobster on death row, which was really quite fascinating at the time, in ways I can't remember details about right now, especially without so much as an instacap to jog my memory (some days, I think I should launch an official investigation into which show gets less internet discussion: Medium or Numb3rs. Instinctively I KNOW it's Medium, except that when I go looking for episode chatter on Numb3rs, it's hard to remember that. When I have to resort to the brief posts on tv.com, it is just not cool at all).
Finally, it was even almost worth Colby's absence just to see David missing his pal, and getting ragged on for calling him instead of some girl. (if the David/Colby slashers were even a quarter as rampant as the Don/Charlie ones, I might think that was a shout-out) Alas, since it was Nikki doing the ragging, I mostly just wanted to don a pair of steel-toed cowboy boots and kick her. You haven't been here long enough to get away with snark, girly.
-Should Charlie ever choose to pursue a new career - in retirement, maybe - I think he should consider following in Bill Nye's footsteps and creating a math show for children. My dad made a joke about this as Charlie began his umpteenth math-vision analogies, and I realized he was actually dead on.
-OK, watching David try to tackle Fat Bastard was a little funny. But mostly gross.
I'm sorry, I can't close this without one last mention of my disgust with the Basketball Game That Would Not End. God, it's a dull game - I resent being forcibly subjected to it during my personal TV time. (This is not at all like being subjected to hockey during my personal TV time. Nope. Is COMPLETELY different.)
6. CSI: Miami, 7x18, "Flight Risk"
Things that have been overdone in crime drama: murders on airplanes. At least this one was discovered at the airport as opposed to mid-flight. You know it just burned Eric up inside that he couldn't exercise his Mac
Or it would have if he hadn't been busy burning up with fantasy thoughts about sipping champagne in a fancy first-class seat with Calleigh, which, I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF ERIC'S RIDICULOUS CALLEIGH-RELATED FANTASIES AT CRIME SCENES, THANKS. I assume that's what happened, anyway...I got all wrapped up in Office spoilers at the computer, and the cheesy music sounded like more commercials, so I only caught the tail end of what they showed in the promo. But I figured that was enough.
-Also, um...what, what exactly was with the extended scene of Eric & Calleigh sharing secret smiles while organizing crime scene photos in one of the musical montages? Why was that necessary? I get it. They're in love (apparently). Shut it down at work now, kthnxbai.
-I'm done watching Kyle play at being a grown-up morgue intern. I swear, if he ends up being the one who - deliberately or accidentally - takes Tara down, I will stab somebody. Somebody like Kyle.
-So the one random flight attendant shows up in the cabin to "clean up"...I'm sorry, how do they not still have the crime scene sealed off if they haven't finished processing? Shouldn't there have been black and yellow tape, an officer posted there...something?
-OOH NATALIA'S SHIRT. I WANT IT. White with a thick band around the neckline consisting of a lovely sheer/cut-out pattern. Other than that, I continue not to be amused by her insistence on wearing all-white outfits. On any other show, this would be a lesson waiting to happen - remember how fast Ray learned not to wear ties in Vegas? - but for her, nahhhh, par for the course. Never so much as a spot on those clothes. Irritating.
-So, Cute Ponytail Tech has a name! Dave Benton. Hey, Dave. That's an excellent name. Welcome to the special, shiny world of My Favor! I don't grant it to very many lab techs outside of Vegas. Enjoy this status.
Speaking of lab techs, VALERA'S HAIR IS NO LONGER THAT SICKLY SHADE OF YELLOW!! Back to a nice dark brown - rejoice! Now the only thing I'm distracted by in her appearance is her nose. Which is really distracting. I tend not to advocate nose jobs, I really don't, but this one inexplicably drives me nuts.
-Wait, who are Kelly and Duncan? What was Ryan talking about going on between them that had Natalia so surprised?
-Pretty sure I stopped paying attention by the halfway point. All I could think was "Cold Case did the murderous-stewardess plot so much more convincingly."
-I hope nothing important happened in the last 3 minutes, because I decided I had no patience for their idiotic musical ending montage of the week, and just shut the TV off in disgust.
7. House, 5x18, "Here, Kitty"
Instant formula for improving your downward-spiral show 300%: Bring in a cat! If that cat happens to be brought in by Judy Greer as the Patient of the Week, well, so much the better.
Short List Style:
-RACECAR TRACK. You know, the cat was good, but if I could have watched 20 minutes of House sending toy cars down his complicated homemade race course, I would have been okay with that too.
-KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY. I'll be over here. Flailing over pretty blue-gray Debbie.
-LOL @ House stealing the tank of genetically modified mice. "Genetically modified for tastiness!"
-LMAO at "No, Mr. Bond - I expect you to die."
-"Death Laser is attacking your legs; you're gonna die!" Oh, God, House really did come up with a least a thousand and two ways to use "Death Cat" to torment his employees this week. Each more hilarious than the last.
-Cranberry juice prank! EXCELLENT. Even more excellent than Kutner's ultimate revenge.
-Squee, Chase! Making nice talk about science not being the be-all and end-all, and how there are some things that can't be explained. I forget he has that side. I love that side.
-Thirteen pretty much skyrocketed back up to where she originally was in my estimation, just by staying in the background. It's amazing how damned likable she is when she keeps her head down, does her job like a routine, and has no personal storyline or even any major lines of her own. I had no problems with her at all! At all! *giddy happy dance*
-Taub, on the other hand, just has really stupid and lame storylines with no point or purpose. This was the only part of the ep that dragged. I could have been watching House play with racecars, fools!
Still: I'm walking away from an episode of House with nearly 100% positive feelings! Make note of this historic moment. I haven't felt like this in months - there was a ton more that I loved, but I don't want to spoil this tenuous hold on positivity by over-analyzing it. Just know it's one of my favorite episodes of the season. Or ever. Yeah, I think it's a contender for "ever."
8. ER, 15x19, "Old Times"
Oh, show. Blessed be thy brilliance.
First, let me commend the beautiful promos they've been running featuring Vanessa Carlton's "Home" to bandy about the return of all your favorite doctors. I adore that song and it's a beautiful choice. Not just because it brings a lump to my throat as I realize it's really all about to end.
Second, I was prepared for this episode to break my heart. I was prepared for it to rip out pieces of my soul and grind them into dust and scatter them to the winds...and then it was just absolutely stunning. Essentially no flaws.
So let's get the minor disappointments out of the way first:
a) DARIA CUT HER HAIR WHAT THIS IS NOT OKAY. It's still chin length, I guess, and she's so blastedly cute that it admittedly doesn't look bad, but my rule is that all women under the age of 40 always look *better* with longer hair.
b) I find it vaguely upsetting that Doug and Carol never knew the kidney went to one JOHN CARTER, HI, VERY IMPORTANT. Damn you for not finding things out! Damn all the missed wires and crossed connections that caused his name not to even be mentioned among the four past/current County docs! That was maddeningly frustrating and one place where I could have done without realism, thanks.
c) *twitches* That purring freak from "Boston Legal" showed up as Carter's surgeon and was somehow even more deserving of a punch in the face in this role. I hate that actor. His resemblance to Philip Seymour Hoffman is an automatic handicap; he should be counteracting this with likable characters.
d) *stuffs fingers in ears* THERE ARE NO CARTER/KEM MARITAL ISSUES, LA LA LA (although at least they are married now, right?). I don't like this vibe I'm getting from it! I reject it! I reject it just like I reject the fact that she's not in the room at any point and I have to put up with vaguely homoerotic subtext from Benton instead*!
(* look, I am all for male-bonding friendship. Love it! Under ordinary circumstances, would be nearly as good as seeing the wife! But this, while I remember none of this feeling from old reruns, just struck me as uncomfortable in ways that not even "House" does.)
e) Seriously, I'm trying not to think about the fact that while they've apparently managed to nab evey other doctor who ever worked there and is not Chen, Kem doesn't count in County history and is in no way guaranteed to show up, and in fact is looking more improbable by the day (prove me wrong, Thandie!).
Okay, Good Stuff:
As far as storytelling went, that was the tightest plot I've ever seen. Free of Sam/Gates drama, Neela's love life and any mention of Julia, leaving only one extraneous character subplot, it was much easier to be invested in Banfield's bond with the little abandoned baby (I can has Cuddy-esque foster-to-adopt situation?). I suppose they can be forgiven for not assuming earlier that the gal who brought him in was the mother, given the color of the baby's skin and/or how skinny the girl was, but then again her demeanor was REALLY OBVIOUS, and they could have made short leaps of assumption to a biracial baby, no? Her clothing was fairly baggy, too.
Mostly her detached, vacant, yet still invested and worried attitude was just profoundly heartbreaking. As was Banfield's sympathetic, understanding response. Awww. I hate that I've been forced to renege on my Declarations of Hate from her first appearance, but she's really become halfway decent. Not like Brenner. Brenner still sucks.
But! There is one thing at which Brenner does not suck, and that is his investment in this little girl whose dying mother needs a heart, what with his decision to wait with her until the transplant goes through. I do kind of like how he relates to her, not so much as a father figure but drawing on his own memories of childhood.
It's kind of sweet, and not just because I've got an AU cooked up in my head to go with the identical expressions of hope and fear on their faces when Neela comes out to tell them how the surgery went. Said AU involves him dating Neela normally, without being creepy or anything like we've seen him so far (he could be a completely different person for all I care), and this is his daughter, and her mother is his ex-wife. Think about it. The layers of emotional gold will come to you.
Over yonder in Seattle, plot 1: Susan Sarandon as the grandmother/only available family of a brain-dead teenage boy. While it is really difficult to imagine her being a grandmother already, and for as much as I do not like her as a person (my feelings are usually, at all times, "shut up and get off your political soapbox"), I remain steadfastly fond of her as an actress and thought she nailed this performance beautifully. I maybe even got a little teary-eyed.
Plot 2: Once upon a time, Sam + Neela would have been my dream team pick to go jetting off to fetch organs. And then I realized, oh my goodness, being completely separated from both Tony and all her family members...Sam was more likable than she has been in MONTHS. See how little it takes?? I change my vote; Sam + Neela as the picks to go to Seattle was a golden ticket idea.
Even though it did have the same sucker-punch effect that Carter's return had a few episodes, with all the old "know any of these docs?" "Nope, know any of ours?" "Nope" routine. I keep forgetting that these women only arrived in season 10 - how is that possible?! I feel like they've been there forever, especially Neela. Are you sure she hasn't been hanging around since maybe season 7? Ah well. My favorite name check was Susan Lewis, which - she is going to make an appearance at some point or another, right? Because I'm pretty sure Susan was one of my favorite doctors ever, right in line behind the untouchable Luka-Abby-Carter triangle and even a smidge ahead of Elizabeth and Neela and Tony.
Still. It was kind of sweet to see Old School meets New School. Almost like a meta meeting of the fans. (because, come on, I'd like to see one person who's been watching for 15 years straight. No, really, I want to know if any of those exist)
Plot 3: Doug & Carol. I've tried, okay, I've tried to drum up emotional investment in them. I CAN'T DO IT. They do not fill my heart full of squee and flaily feelings; it's too foreign and before my time; they're like 1-note movie characters and I will take Luka and Abby or Mark and Elizabeth over them any day of the week.
BUT! I can get involved on principle, and so on behalf of the fans who do love them, thank you. Thank you so much for handling them perfectly and following the Checklist of Cute and otherwise just, not screwing it up even a tiny bit for kicks and giggles. You had them still working at the same place and still very much in love. You mentioned the girls, and I think you even properly kept track of their age. Then you really stepped up to the plate and gave us bedtime snuggling - spooning, even - plus a sweet kiss, and just when I was giving you a stern look and shaking my fist threateningly, you coughed up "I love you," too. *fist pump* EXCELLENT JOB, SHOW.
Part of me thinks this is still going to blow up in my face, but the other part is growing cautiously optimistic at how beautifully they've been laying stories to rest left and right in the manner of Everybody Loves Raymond - a solid and satisfying end note, but simultaneously saying "life goes on" rather than literally bringing things to an end.
And now for the real plot: Carter's Transplant
I may or may not have bitten my nails down to the quick. So! Much! Potential for tragedy! Definitely got teary at least once, fearing that something would go wrong. Or, you know, just being generally teary because watching Carter lie in bed, full of tubes and looking halfway to death, is just SO MUCH WORSE than seeing Mark Greene, or in fact pretty much anybody. I mean, it's good in a heartbreaking way, but...I think Future Self gets what I'm getting at here.
*exhales* I don't know what to say about this, though. I was never that big a fan of Benton; I liked the issues surrounding Reese and I'm happy he's still with Cleo because I'm happy about all long-term relationships, but Benton himself was relatively boring and I think my brain has tried to scrub all this mentoring stuff out of my memory of reruns, because it didn't merit storage. And I think part of that is that while objectively, I know he started as The Med Student, the Carter in my head has always been a figure of relative authority, and just like I don't like Gibbs' old mentor on NCIS, I don't like being reminded of him in any other position.
But! Moving on! It was kind of nice that at least Carter had a familiar face around him - an unexpected one, at that! - and someone to rag on his wool socks at the end of bare legs ("My feet got cold." So prim) and then practically giggle at "You married a sister!", but also be a half-smartass, half legitimately concerned doctor in the OR with him, pointing out important supplies that might otherwise have been missed.
I kind of want to stop here. I don't like how I seem to have as much text or more in the "disappointment" section as the "good" section, but that's only because it's so much easier to note dissatisfaction than the opposite. Isn't it a higher compliment to say that in general, this episode was so good it left me breathless/speechless?
Okay, I give up trying to make sense out of this section because I'm mostly concerned with the beautiful expression on his face post-surgery, when he asks Benton to dial a number for him. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here, getting all wibbly over the way his voice breaks as soon as Kem answers the phone.
*is emotionally exhausted* I don't know if I can take another 3 episodes of this. Surely it won't be this intense again until the finale though, right?