Welcome, “Dollhouse” fans, to official Freak Out About “Dollhouse” week, the week when we realize that we’re fans of one of the two or three lowest-rated shows on all of network television and harden ourselves against cancellation accordingly. “Well, it’s all right,” we’ll sniff. “‘Instinct’ was OK, but it wasn’t that great, really. I mean, we got ‘Epitaph One,’ right? We can write fan fiction about that for years to come.” Sure, you can Twitter about watching the show on Hulu or you can send your Eliza Dushkus out onto Letterman, but what can you do to get America to watch a dark science fiction serialized procedural that’s ultimately about female empowerment and the indestructibility of the identity? Not a whole lot, especially opposite “Medium.”
But then, dammit, “Belle Chose” comes along and ruins the whole “I don’t care!” THING you have going on, and that makes it that much harder to realize that unless the ratings tick upward, there’s no way this show will be on in two weeks, regardless of what Fox’s promo voice says. In some ways, “Belle Chose” feels like what the show should have been from the start. There’s basically no advancement in the series’ overall arc in the episode, but the standalone story is one of the strongest the series has come up with, both deepening the series’ major themes and offering up a number of compelling character moments and plot twists. In short, this is probably the best pure standalone “Dollhouse” has done yet, and while that shouldn’t sound as impressive as it does, it’s taken this show quite a while to figure out how to tell the kinds of stories it likes to tell in a format where the story is over by the end of the episode. If “Dollhouse” had premiered with episodes this strong, we might not be in this predicament.
Damon breaks out of vampire jail, Elena pieces together Stefan's secret and Caroline throws a sexy car wash
Relationships in Mystic Falls are going through tough times this week: Stefan’s still holding out on Elena, Damon tried to eat Caroline, and even Jeremy’s starting to question the benefits of dating fellow drug enthusiast, Vicki. Most heinous of all, Damon is locked up for an entire episode and thus unable to take off his shirt! Don’t you people understand that we need our weekly fix of vampire abs in order to keep the faith?
[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 8) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]
But not how you think and are the wrong contestants getting the boot?
Another episode of PR, another chance to throw Raggedy Andy/Chucky/Nicolas under the bus. Maybe it’s just the lingering aftertaste of the white chaps and the Ice Queen Halloween-in-a-bag dress, but I just want him to go home. But I have a sinking feeling this week is not the week, since I think most of the designer will have their (wait for it) work cut out for them (bah-dum-dum!) with this week’s challenge. Now that it’s down to nine designers, it’s really anyone’s game.
Just as an aside, I have to say that downtown Los Angeles looks so much nicer in the opening credits of PR. Or maybe that’s just because you can’t smell the drunken bum pee on TV.
Irina thinks the other designers hate her a little for winning two challenges in a row. Logan thinks Irina is getting a little full of herself. Logan is not wrong. This week Irina took a quantum leap from doubting and insecure ingénue to haughty, kinda bitchy diva, and it’s so not flattering. In fact, I’d say it makes her look fat. So there.
With assists from Jabbawockeez and Cirque Du Soleil, the girls learn how to move
Is it me or is the sky a little sunnier, the air a little sweeter, now that Bianca has left the Top Model house? I shall enjoy it while I can, here, while I recap the fifth episode of Cycle 13 of ANTM, because of course it's only a matter of time before the producers pick a new meanie.
But I ain't mad at it.
[Full recap of Wednesday (Oct. 7) night's "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]
Ashley was the other girl in the bottom two last week. She needs to step up her game. Nicole, meanwhile, talks like she's stoned, which turns off Nigel. She needs to step up her ... diction, I guess. Others don't like Nicole either, because she doesn't fit in. That's exactly why I like her. Be yourself, girl! Don't squee! Power to the geeks!
The first TyraMail of the day also brings us our first copyrighted reference to "smize." Which is a stretch, because this next challenge is not about eyes, but rather the body. This is the Benny Ninja episode, where the vogue master teaches the models to pose. Li'l Mama also arrives to help with the dance instructions, as do the JabbawockeeZ dance troupe. The goal for the girls: Create dances that express certain emotions, blah, blah, blah, they only get an hour. I am totally sure that when Gisele was a bebeh model, her agency SO made her do this. UPHILL in the SNOW.
The model dance team that wins also gets $17,000 worth of jewelry.
Poor Ashley, who, as we've been told 40 times, has a background in dance, is paired with the totally uncoordinated Nicole and Erin.
Rae, Kara and Jennifer's team does a lovely interpretive dance worthy of Twyla Tharp. Sundai's team doesn't connect with the judges. Team Nicole gets daring and stares down Benny Ninja, but it backfires; Ninja just might be mad at it. Of course Rae's team wins. They get the jewelry. Squee!
Ashley declares today "Kill Ashley's Spirit Day." She calls her mom, but, surprisingly, does not cry. Excuse me, am I watching a reality show, or not?
The fashion shoot this week takes the girls out of their circus house and into the freak show that is Las Vegas. They are taken to a show by Cirque de Soleil. The shoot will be inspired by this sort of Gallic whimsy, apparently. Much squeeeing ensues.
The models will be posing in groups of three, which makes for all kinds of cattiness. If the producers want to replace Bianca with a new villain, group shots are great ways to establish bitchiness.
Jennifer, Rae and Brittany are in the first group. Jennifer is the weak person in the group; Brittany and Rae get mad praise; Jennifer earns the title of "crazy" from Mr. Jay.
"Jennifer fell flat," Mr. Jay hisses.
Sundai, Erin and Nicole are the next group. Erin gets the praise, as does Sundai. Poor Nicole. All that face. No love. And she still has that problem with the Gollum hands.
Ashley, Laura and Kara make up the final trio. Day-um. In front of the camera, Laura morphs from cowhand to Rachel Hunter. Ashley is the weak one in this group, though Kara also fades into the background. How anyone can fade into anything with a face like that just baffles.
Yes, I do believe I'm mad at it.
The girls return to Los Angeles for panel. Because if Las Vegas had turned out to be their exotic destination for the season, the recession truly would have won. And hello! It's Josie Maran, tiny supermodel and guest judge! I was hoping they'd have her on. Nice girl, that.
Rae, Jennifer and Brittany are up first. Brittany is compared to the Bride of Frankenstein by Miss J. Rae, as we must be told at least once a week, is smizing. Jennifer is -- ouch -- blamed for bringing down all three girls!
Laura, Ashley and Kara are judged next. Laura gets a favorable comparison to Gisele. "You look like you're happy, you're climaxing," Josie giggles. ("She's taken some fierce juice," Tyra later surmises during panel.) Ashley looks powerless and sleepy next to her; Kara looks stiff and nervous, but it's Ashley who is the downer overall.
Erin, Nicole and Sundai are the final three. Erin gets a sorta-good review, spurring Tyra to name her as a "silent threat." Nicole is criticized for losing all her magic. Sundai looks meh, but overall, her film roll was the strongest.
The callout -- first in threes, then individually -- goes thus: Brittany, Rae and Jennifer; Laura, Nicole, Sundai, Erin.
Kara and Ashley are in the bottom two. Kara gets slammed for not doing anything or being anybody. Ashley gets slammed for being a dancer and yet so sucky and completely untalented. Kara gets to stay, after a little lecture. Ashley is booted, serenaded by a dude singing on autotune.
Next week we get the go-see challenge, and the inevitable shoot where the girls get put up on wires. Until then, we're all left hanging.
Did the right girl go home? Do you still miss Evil Bianca?
As Hiro is unable to face the present, Angela unwittingly digs up part of Nathan's past
The cliché, “Those that forget their past are doomed to repeat it,” got a solid work-out in a surprisingly solid episode of “Heroes” tonight. Then again, once one saw the phrase “Written by Bryan Fuller” come on-screen during the opening credits, many a fan’s eye lit up from their dull, habitual gaze and perked up for the first time since…well, since Fuller last wrote an episode.
Is Bryan Fuller the answer to not only quality television, but global warming, the Middle East conflict, and Nickelback’s reign of terror atop the Billboard charts? Unlikely, despite what many a critic might have you think. But he knows how to breathe life into the characters of “Heroes” that eludes the majority of the show’s writing staff. His scripts take stale characters and invigorate them to the point where you remember when you couldn’t wait to see the outcome of the previous cliffhanger. And tonight’s episode, “Acceptance,” featured one hell of a cliffhanger.
As Betty takes up Don on his offer to fly to Rome, Pete offers his help to a neighbor in need
I just bought my very first house. It's on a pretty non-descript street in your average town next to a host of houses you've seen before. It's near a host of stores that resemble those you've seen and populated by people you recognize by type if not my face. I mention all of this not to brag but simply to point out Betty Draper's idea of hell.
Tonight's "Mad Men" stepped away from the office drama of the past few weeks and saw its characters take flight from their normalcy into the realm of adventure. For the Drapers, that adventure took them halfway across the world. For Pete Campbell, it took him just a few doors down. But both instances found people in unfamiliar settings, strangers to themselves, and acting quite strangely to boot. Upon returning from their adventure, things looked the same on the surface but carried a very different type of weight beneath the veneer.
[Full recap of Sunday (Oct. 4) night's "Mad Men" after the break...]
Dragons, ceramic animals and bashed VCRs abound in Vietnam on a pretty dull 'Race' leg
I'm a big enough cause-and-effect fan that it annoys me to have an episode of "The Amazing Race" in which one team manages to do something wrong at every single step and still manages to avoid elimination. I know. I'm a bit of a purist.
Sunday (Oct. 4) night's "Amazing Race" was, alas, not a very good episode, unless you happen to be a big fan of Lance & Keri (Team Meathead). And unless you're actually related to Mama Meathead or Papa Meathead, I find it hard to believe that anybody could be cheering for them. They did dumb things whenever possible, they yelled and shrieked at each other whenever possible and yet they were spared by a team that skipped a volume of stupidity in favor of pure severity.
Recap of Sunday's "Amazing Race," complete with spoilers, after the break...
Watch: Major potshots at Obama, but celebrity cameos most noteworthy part of show
Last week "Saturday Night Live" did everything possible to try and ruin Megan Fox's comedy career. Is it possible the always hilarious Ryan Reynolds could get jinxed by what already appears to be a 2009-10 season curse? Or will a number of surprise guest stars save the program? Could Lady Gaga's first appearance on the legendary show make us forget about unfunny skits and tired characters? Let's dive in and find out.
Once more, Fred Armisen addresses the country as President Barack Obama. As he congratulates Rio for winning the 2016 Olympics the laughter gradually dies down as the skit turns into a scathing (and I mean scathing) criticism of everything Obama said he'd do in his first year and he has not. Conservatives really think "SNL" is pro-Democratic party no doubt ate this up. After going through a laundry list of unfulfilled promises, Armisen does say, however, "It's not all bad news. The cash for clunkers really stimulated the economy, unfortunately it was the economy of Japan." He then asks the Republicans to stop their inflammatory criticisms.
"If I see any more hateful rhetoric I'm going to have to take drastic action," Armisen says. Pauses for a moment and then shakes his head and says, "Nah."
Ouch. And certainly not playing to a somewhat stunned audience.
Grade. B. Just for the guts to do it.
An engagement showcases Echo's maternal instincts, the Senator digs deeper and a familiar face visits the Dollhouse
"Instinct" is one of those episodes of "Dollhouse" that crams the weaker things about the show right up against the stronger things and then hopes against hope that the stronger things win out in the end.
They did, for the most part, in "Instinct," but there was some pretty dumb stuff on the way there. That said, the central storyline ended up being so nifty that all of the improbabilities needed to get there were probably worth it. Still, the episode inches the ball forward on a number of important plotlines, so the 2.5 million of us still sticking with this thing in live broadcast can feel like we got our money's worth.
[Full recap of Friday (Oct. 2) night's "Dollhouse" after the break...]
A big town party offers Damon the chance to teach Elena a history lesson, while Stefan has to take action
Finally! An episode of “The Vampire Diaries” in which we learn things. Like how vampire biology works. Why they don’t sparkle in the sunlight. How Catherine died. What fashion designers Damon likes to wear. You know, the essentials.
[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 1) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]