It takes a special talent to make a show about people going through a wormhole to dinosaur-infested prehistoric times inside an alternate time stream…and then make it this spectacularly dull. I almost want to applaud the show’s writers for achieving something I didn’t dream was possible. There’s a lot of talent behind the scenes on “Terra Nova” that came from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Had tonight’s plot showed up intact with the crew of the Enterprise standing in for our prehistoric heroes, no one would have blinked an eye. It would have been perfectly of a piece with that show. Here’s the difference: “TNG” would have at least known to tell this episode in its third season, not as its third overall offering.
Any time “Saturday Night Live” airs for three consecutive weeks, you can often see a downturn in the overall quality of the show. It’s a fairly insane schedule to maintain even for one week, never mind two. But when “SNL” goes back-to-back-to-back, well, it’s time to hold onto your seats. Then again, perhaps Ben Stiller, returning to the show for hosting duties for the first time since 1988, will use his manic energy to keep things on an even keel this week. He’s here to promote “Tower Heist,” or as I’ve been calling it, “Another 48 Towering Fockers.” Along for the ride are Foster the People, a band so ubiquitous on the radio right now that it’s only a matter of time before they become a punch line for a terrible joke over on “2 Broke Girls.”
Deep breaths, everyone. We can get through this together. Onto the recap!
One of the great pleasures of reviewing “Fringe” each week is that there’s rarely a lack of things to discuss. Writing about certain shows is akin to drawing blood from a stone every seven days, to be sure. But there’s usually a lot of ground to cover when it comes to this one. Even when I don’t like a particular episode (and both previous ones this season have given me pause), there’s hardly a time when I stare at my computer screen, blankly staring at the cursor blinking before me. Well, congratulations, “Alone in the World”: you’ve achieved the seemingly impossible.
So, we start out the show with a whole lot of nothing. The girls get care packages from home, yay! But Camille doesn't. She gets a box of bills. And you know why she gets a box of bills? Because she's OLDER than everyone else. She has RESPONSIBILITIES. Given that Camille reminds us no less than three times that she's older than the rest of the contestants on the show, I'm starting to think she may also have early onset Alzheimer's disease because she just can't let this go. Someone, get the girl a walker and a box of denture cleaner, fast!
Camille may be old, but at least she isn't on death's door. That seems to be the case with Kayla, who starts throwing up and hyperventilating for no apparent reason. An ambulance is called and the models proceed to mourn as if Kayla is a close personal friend and not someone they secretly hope is going home and staying home. The models all act tremendously relieved when Kayla returns from the hospital at 2:12 a.m., even though I'm sure at least one of them thought about packing her bags for her. In any case, Kayla isn't going to die, as she just had a cardiac arrhythmia. She reveals it could be stress related, so everyone keep an eye out for other all-stars sneaking up behind her and screaming "SPIDER!" or "BOO!"
Time for the first challenge! Jay Manuel tells the girls they will be auditioning for "CSI" and show creator Anthon Zuiker, who pops up. Literally. He was pretending to be a corpse and abruptly tosses off the white sheet to a cacophony of screams. Did someone keep an eye on Kayla?
The all-stars have to memorize a scene in thirty minutes, and it's a scene full of words like gas chromatography mass spectrometer, hydrocodone and methamphetamine. Well, they should know that last one. Camille shakes like a leaf. Angelea is sure she can nail it and she does, if nailing it means pronouncing the names without showing up. Bre also manages to get through the list. But Lisa, the self-proclaimed actress in the bunch, falls apart. But she has an excuse. Actually, a lot of excuses. She wasn't allowed to look at the script for an hour and a half, she was the last one to go, she was tired, blah blah blah. That and two bucks will get you a cup of bad coffee, Lisa.
The two finalists are Bre and Angelea, and the winner is Bre. Angelea is pissed because, after all, she nailed it! Angelea, please take your 716 back to the 716. It's not attractive, even if Jay tells you it is.
Next, an Express photo shoot at a mansion in Beverly Hills. The models will be expected to play one of four characters: the girlfriend, the flirt, the cool chick or the socialite. And to spice things up, they get to interact with three hot male models: Josh, David and Sean. Not an exciting challenge, but I think Kayla's probably had all the excitement she can stand for the week.
Even though the challenge seems pretty straight-forward, a number of the models really struggle with it. Bianca wants to push the limit of flirt, but she's too pose-y and awkward. When Jay points this out, Bianca gives him attitude, pointing out she's the "real" model in the competition. What? Bianca, this is a good way to get sent home to be a "real" model somewhere else. Camille knows she needs to bring it because she's OLDER -- so she doesn't. Lisa decides that the best way to show off Express clothing is to have weird, spastic jumping fits for the camera. Lisa says she isn't drinking on this season, which is admirable, but she might benefit from some Ritalin.
Judging from what we see at the photo shoot, Camille is really in trouble (but not because she's OLDER -- she took terrible pictures) and Bianca's attitude could catch up to her. I wasn't a big fan of Shannon's shots, either.
Soon it's time for judging. Crazy Tyra introduces the panel: Nigel Barket, Andre Leon Talley and Anthony Zuicker. I'm so glad Anthony Zuicker stuck around... because he will be able to tell us which model looks dead and which doesn't? I have no idea. But really, he picked Bre, he has his actress, he should just go home.
Laura shows up in a ghastly Wanda Sue special, but her picture is adorable, and the judges agree. Anthony thinks Kayla's shot is stunning. Nigel thinks Dominque sells just the right amount of sexy and she creates an attractive S shape with her body. Bre's shot is not a hit, as it does look a little JC Penney. Alexandria's photo looks mannequin-like and matronly. Nigel thinks Allison's photo is relaxed, which is surprising given how awkward she is in real life. Camille, unfortunately, looks frozen. She tries to blame it on tripping. Oh, Camille, don't make excuses. The judges all give her a disdainful look and, thank God, she shuts up.
Andre thinks Lisa's photo is unhappy despite the smiling. I'm not sure where he gets unhappy, but it's not a great shot. Nigel thinks Lisa makes a lot of excuses. The male models were tired and hungry! She couldn't interact with tired, hungry hot guys! Tyra tells her it was up to her to get the male models to stop being cranky. Bianca's photo is so-so. Andre thinks Angelea looks like a Russian wife, and this is apparently a compliment. I think. Tyra says she looks like new money and she thinks it's fabulous. I think this is code for rich and trashy, but okay, the judges seem happy with it, though I doubt Express will be. Shannon's photo is a hit, surprisingly, because I think it's pretty awful.
The juges send the models away to mull things over alone. Laura's photo is, of course, a hit. Allison is deemed an innocent doll who needs more control. Nigel loves Kayla's picture, but Anthony thinks she doesn't command his attention. Shut up, Anthony. Andre loves Dominique's shot. Nigel thinks Alexandria's photo skew 40-plus, which is sadly true. It's like a horrible St. John catalog shot. Nigel thinks Camille's photo is personality free. Andre is annoyed by Lisa's excuses, but Nigel points out that, hello, her clothes look awful in the shot and it's a shot for a clothing ad. Ouch. Bianca is boring but Andre likes her picture and Tyra thinks it's amateur. Ooh, dissent in the ranks! Nigel thinks Angelea is selling it. Tyra thinks she has great confidence. Shannon's horrible shot gets mixed reviews -- Nigel doesn't love it, Tyra wishes she'd pushed a little more and Andre likes it. Nigel doesn't like Bre's smile. Anthony wants a full face, not a half face. Although on his show, he probably prefers a half face, because that means the rest of the face has been blown off. Why are we listening to him?
Tyra calls Angelea first, as she's the most fantastic trashy Russian wife out there! The runner-up is Dominique, who turned in the better picture if you ask me. Then we have Allison, Laura, Kayla, Shannon, Bre, Bianca, Alexandria. Tyra tells her Alexandria she's more talented than her shot implies, and Alexandria sighs with relief. Lisa and Oldie McOlderson Camille are in the bottom.
Tyra informs us that Lisa and Camille have nothing in common -- except excuses. Lisa stays, Camille goes. I have to say, this was pretty obvious from the beginning. Camille psyched herself out with her "I'm OLDER" mantra, and the unfortunate result is you can see her fretting about whether or not she has a blossoming wrinkle in every shot. Honestly, if she hadn't said she was 33 over and over again, I wouldn't have guessed it.
Camille is disappointed, but she ha to reinvent herself. She actually seems a little relieved to be getting the boot, and she gives herself a pat on the back for having done as well as she did. Maybe someone will give her an ad campaign for wrinkle cream or those peach-colored Depends they keep plugging. There's a market for older, Camille, never fear!
Do you think Camille deserved to go? Did you think Angelea's photo was the strongest? And what did you think of the promo for next week with the Kardashian sisters and LaToya Jackson?
It's down to ten and the Kardashian sisters and LaToya Jackson.
If ratings are any indication, then “Glee” has burned up a lot of good will with its initial audience. Ratings are still healthy, but there’s little doubt that the show’s second season wore a lot of its audience down. Those that saw last year as less of television program and more as an incoherent iTunes delivery system haven’t come back this year, even though last week’s installment “I Am Unicorn” seemed to be a flare gun designed to bring the herds back to the fold. If those that abandoned the show heard that cry and came back this week for “Asian F,” they weren’t in for an episode on par with “Unicorn.” Instead, they got an hour-long example of everything good and bad with the show.
You have to hand it to “Glee”. After all, “Asian F” represents a Rosetta stone for the series. If you ever wanted to demonstrate the highs and lows of the show as succinctly as possible, you could do no better than show someone this episode. Last week, I postulated that perhaps the influx of new writers behind the scenes might focus the show in a positive way. But it’s hard to focus the show when it’s still in the throes of a perpetual identity crisis. “Asian F” is far from the best “Glee” episode ever, but it’s certainly the best at showing the sum total of what “Glee” is. Its highs, lows, and WTFs were on full display in this scattershot hour. In fact, let’s just call this episode what it should have been named, and break down things from there.
That title? “The Good, The Bad, and The Ginger.”
Back in college, I took every course I could on literary theory. Not only did I want more techniques to employ when reading various texts, but I also liked the idea that there was more than one way to approach a particular problem. That desire pretty much sums up anyone who majors in the humanities, since it eschews a “right” answer in favor of precise, singular solutions. Some of these literary theories seemed too antiquated for proper deployment (Aristotle’s “Poetics”), and some of these theories were too esoteric for anyone not on a series dose of happy pills (hello, Derrida and your cursed deconstruction). Weirdly enough, the one I rejected most at the time is one I return to when dealing with shows such as “Terra Nova”: New Criticism.
Melissa McCarthy is having quite the year. A breakout performance in the film “Bridesmaids,” an Emmy for her performance on “Mike and Molly,” and now this, her inaugural hosting appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Will tonight just be a series of sketches involving her and Kristin Wiig? Will fellow “Bridesmaids” star/former “SNL” alum Mya Rudolph drop by? Will musical guest Lady Antebellum do me a favor and NOT play “Need You Now”? Because I only got that ear worm out of my head last week, and I’d prefer to have it stay that way.
Only one way to find out. Onto tonight’s recap!
Can you pinpoint the moment your life changed? Can you narrow it down to a single day, after which things that could have gone one way went inextricably the other? It’s something many of us think about in retrospective. Me? I think about how not traveling from Boston to New York City back in 2003 meant I probably wouldn’t have ever met the person to whom I am now married. There’s no way to predict what would have happened had I not taken the Greyhound bus that night, but it’s still fascinating to think about the road not taken all the same. “One Night in October,” tonight’s often stunning episode of “Fringe,” shows what happens when the road not taken intertwines with the one you’re on. And what follows is the show at its empathetic best.
“I Am Unicorn” is a statement about “Glee” itself as much as the characters involved in tonight’s central plots. The hour concerns identity, and how people often view themselves in terms of how they are viewed by others. That’s not a radical way to structure an episode of television, but know what? “Glee” excels when it keeps things simple. At the same time, the multifaceted ways in which that theme played out amongst Kurt, Brittany, Quinn, and others also represents the multifaceted show that is “Glee.” Sometimes, that combination is an ugly mess, slapping disparate elements together to form a horrific Frankenstein of a television program. But as character after character rediscovered things about themselves tonight, perhaps the show rediscovered a few things about itself as well.
The strongest elements of this rediscovery centered around the show actually remembering its own history. “Glee” has this horrible way of rewriting motivations and situations in order to fit whatever they want to accomplish in a particular scene , never mind a particular episode. Reintroducing Shelby Corcoran (guest star Idina Menzel) seemed like a stunt at first, akin perhaps to bringing back Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday. But each scene with her reignited a long-dormant storyline, ones that I forgot because the show had forgotten them as well. Whether bringing Shelby back at this point was intentional or accidentally is besides the point, because either was it is pretty much a masterstroke. Why? Because it forces a multitude of characters to re-evaluate themselves at a critical point in their lives. She functions like Gus Fring from “Breaking Bad”, but with a pitch pipe in lieu of a box cutter.