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I grew up in a series of small towns, each one depressingly smaller than the last, until I hit a school in which my graduating class was a mere 27 people. It’s a town where everyone has to at least leave to go on with their education, but since the nearest community college was a half hour away ( I took my last two years of theater there under the tutelage of a now famous award-winning playwright and actor), most never escape beyond the three hour Saskatoon and Edmonton area from this town. I’m sure many kids I went to junior high with are still in the Calgary area as well, but at least Calgary has developed into a more cosmopolitan center. After all, I ended up back here.

I recognize much of the teen age angst of Glee because it was my teen-aged angst. I had grown up with parents that valued an education above all else. They didn’t care what kind of education, just get one. I’m sure my vast knowledge of popular culture wasn’t their first choice, but I’m sure they appreciate me having something I love in my life. But even in the confines of these small rural outposts, I could find what I needed to stave off the boredom and quench the thirst for French New Wave and the discography of the Clash I developed in my teenaged years. It was better than going out and getting drunk like many of my classmates did. I’m pretty convinced that’s why my classmates didn’t talk to me.

But growing up in small towns with a more progressive personal mindset often got me in trouble with my peers. I never sat idly by as they tossed around bigoted terms that growing up in a 99% white town in the middle of the Canadian Bible Belt, and my reputation as a Commie loon follows me to this day ( I kind of wear it with pride). Which is why I clearly identified with ” Preggers”. I knew many of the blonde pretty cheerleader types who ended up pregnant by the eleventh grade, usually after wine coolers or beer at a party. I knew the slightly femme guy in the back who had a fondness for sequins and introduced me to his father as his girlfriend, and then I’d sit and listen to his father beg me to convince his son to rejoin the hockey team, despite the fact the last time the poor guy was on the ice, he executed a perfect double axel in the middle of a power play. In hockey skates no less. I was one of the kids so obsessed with my creative life that I was deeply offended when I didn’t get the part, or the assignment, or the song.

Watching last nights Glee was at times, for me, emotionally wrenching. I clearly identify with Kurt in a profound way. Not the coming out as gay part, but trying so desperately to maintain a relationship with a parent who disapproves of your passions. I had my brothers and mom as a buffer between me and my father. Kurt, an only child of a working class single father, has nothing. The fact that Kurt feels compelled to lie is heartbreaking, but it is like that across the world for gay teens. Ryan Murphy said in a recent L.A. Times article that a little of his own life made its way into his characterization of Kurt, and I can see it in the tender way Murphy laid out Kurt’s scenes with his father, played by a surprisingly good Mike O’Malley. Chris Colfer, in his scenes tonight, was both hysterically funny, touchingly sad, and devastatingly true to life. When Kurt comes out to his father after joining the football team in a bid to cover up why he was dancing around in black sequined lycra, it’s a pure moment. More shocking and pure is his father’s reaction- it’s kind of hard to deny your son may be gay when he asks for a pair of sensible heels when he’s three. Or has a hope chest. Which is full of tiaras. O’Malley plays it as a matter of fact, not deeply profound or overly emotional. It is what it is. He’s not overjoyed about it, but he certainly isn’t going to erupt into a homophobic screed.

The Quinn-Finn-Puck story line was a little more Degrassi conventional. First, this show does a great job playing off of Cory Monteith’s naive portrayal of Finn. He’s blank, he’s clueless, but he knows what he is and he is trying to figure out how to make it out without being enormously gifted at things that are more obvious paths of freedom. He plays on a losing football team, and he doesn’t have the grades to make it on academic scholarships. But he knows enough to realize he must get out of Lima. Quinn, pretty and perky, on a championship cheerleading squad, probably would score some sort of athletic scholarship at the very least,  but the news of her pregnancy leaves her in the lurch. She can’t escape with a baby on her hip.  Her telling of the “conception” to Finn was ludicrous to us in the TV audience, but would it really seem ludicrous to Finn? Think of all the guys you went to high school with who still insist you can’t get a girl pregnant if you have sex standing up. It turns out, though, Quinn has been naughty. She got drunk, and feeling particularly fat that day, she slept with Puck. He is the real father of her baby. Puck, never having a real dad, wants to do the right thing by Quinn, but Quinn also realizes that Puck, despite his good intentions, is never going to escape being a “Lima Loser”. She sees Finn as her way out of this hell, and even he isn’t a guarantee.

Meanwhile, we have the corresponding “pregnancy” of Terri Schuster, who now has her sister in on the scheme. Terri is a woman so obsessed with keeping her man that she’s not taking the more reasonable track in this sad situation, instead forcing herself to create an elaborate lie with padding and all. The news of Quinn and Finn’s little predicament gives Terri an idea. There is a sense of the illogical here ( how did Terri get into Quinn’s car? Why don’t we ask the ref’s at that football game that didn’t hand out that delay of game penalty when the team does the ” Single Ladies” dance?), but Murphy always brings in the more soapy elements with a dash of humor. Quinn is bewildered by the woman handing her prenatal vitamins, but Terri is oblivious to Quinn’s wary demeanor.

The ” D” story of Sue’s continued revenge on Will was probably the most laugh out loud funny in the episode. Sue’s minor celebrity gets her a slot on the local news, where she advocates caning and littering. But she’s told she is only as good as her last championship, and the affiliate boss knows her Cheerios are defecting to Glee. So Sue, in her own special Machiavellian way, gets Sandy Ryerson back on staff. He is in charge of all the arts programs, including Glee. ( Note: Figgins, played by Iqbal Theba, played a memorable villain of the week in the first season of Chuck. He played a guy nicknamed ” Wookie” by Chuck. And when you see that Mumbai Airlines video, you can kind of see why. Now imagine him without a shirt. Yeah, now you see it). They design a plan to steal away an increasingly frustrated Rachel, who loses her shit over not getting the solo ” Tonight”. Will is trying to teach her a valuable and much needed lesson- that Glee is a team, and all members of that team need a moment to shine. This is proven by Tina’s sweetly compelling performance of ” Tonight”, and Will pointing out that with greater confidence, her stuttering is diminishing. Rachel then tries out for this version of ” Cabaret” Ryerson is putting on. If there is one truly crushing moment in the episode, it’s the fact Lea Michele’s gorgeous version of ” Taking Chances” is only a mere twenty seconds of screen time.  Rachel and Will later confront each other about their perceptions and their goals. When Will still refuses to hand over ” Tonight”, still giving Tina a moment to shine, Rachel impulsively quits Glee. Meanwhile, Will’s work with the football team to help loosen them up ( leading to that fabulous dance on the football field), and garners him three more Glee club members. He’s now got eleven.

Last night’s episode was the first truly great episode since the pilot, and I certainly hope it’s the blueprint for the rest of the series.  Murphy’s previous high school show, Popular, had moments of complete camp and whimsy at first, but ended up becoming completely ridiculous a lot of the time ( it’s still genius, but it’s massively flawed genius). This show could go off in a million different directions. But this is what I have noticed:

  • The show is a musical, but not every episode is going to be heavy on the musical numbers. I think this helps it from turning into a version of Fame- The Later Years.
  • It’s got a massive ensemble cast, and there are lesser characters, like the Cheerios and Footballers who help make up the show choir, that will get a bit of screen time without having much else to do. But if Murphy remembers to keep focus on one kid a show, it will get better.
  • The pacing was better on this episode, and it will continue to get better. Anyone familiar with Murphy’s previous shows knows he is a guy who fits a lot into episodes, and sometimes the timelines don’t add up. But he does somehow make it work.
  • The cast is winning, but I am beginning to think where the writers are taking Rachel is dangerous territory. I know she’s supposed to be a self absorbed spoiled brat, but she was at least likable. I found her disturbingly unlikable this week. I know it was a set up for next week’s episode, but be careful.

Quoteworthy:

“All you need is some limed corpses beneath the floorboards.” – Sue to Sandy at his very creepy house.

Grade- A-

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I spend more time in the fandom of this show than I do for any other.  I also admit that in a perfect world, I’d be writing it and the Leonard-Penny relationship would have never been an issue. 

But I don’t write it. I’m also not a fanfic writer or even much of a fanfic fan ( though I’ve read some doozies in my life for various fandoms). But I am a WRITER, so even if I might prefer Penny showing Sheldon the ways of the world, it’s not my place to question the writers of this show about their choice. After all, it annoys me when a world I have crafted so meticulously over time gets ripped by a vocal group of fans without knowing what the ultimate endgame is. While I believe I know what the endgame for this show is, I really don’t have a clue. Plus, Chuck Lorre surprises me more than most sitcom writers.

The guys have returned from the arctic looking like wooly mammoths ( except Sheldon, who looks like Evil Spock from ” Mirror Mirror”). They settle in at home, and Leonard goes to tell Penny he’s home. Broken sitcom convention # 1: Normally, there would be some give and take, with the couple’s kiss coming towards the end of the episode ( see: Ross and Rachel, Friends, ” The One Where Ross Finds Out”). These writers have Penny and Leonard making out before the credits.

Turns out, Sheldon believes he has proven String Theory at the North Pole. Also turns out that his comrades have fudged the results to make him happy ( seriously, Sheldon in close quarters for three months? I’m in love with Sheldon, fer chissakes, but I would have gone along with the sled dog plan myself). This has Sheldon confronting the very happy at the moment Leonard, who admits to it quickly, and also admits to the plots they came up with to murder Sheldon ( really did like the idea of tying someone to four different sled dog teams and yelling mush). Heartbroken, Sheldon retreats to his room, where Penny attempts to cheer him up by first singing ” Soft Kitty” ( ” I’m not sick.” ” I don’t know what your sad song is.” ” I don’t have a sad song, I’m not a child!”), then trying to relate a story about losing out her spot as head cheerleader. She also manages to spoil a bit of Star Trek, which causes Sheldon to cry even harder.

After suffering the humiliation of informing the Physics department that he did not, in fact, prove string theory, Sheldon is mocked by Kripke at work- twice. Devastated, Sheldon resigns and takes off to Texas, where Mom is. Penny insists that Leonard goes and bring him home ( all S/P shippers together- awwwwww). It doesn’t take much- Mary Cooper just insists that evolution is an opinion, which sends atheistic Sheldon into a tizzy, and he heads home, where this will promptly be forgotten by next week.

The show ends with Leonard and Penny in bed together, where, let’s face it, it’s really weird.

Jim Parsons can do no wrong. The show always works best when Sheldon is the center of the episode and we are forced, along with the rest of the cast, to try and balance Sheldon’s unique world view with the structure of ” normal” society. This took it one step further. Sheldon is a character very much in control at all times, and it was fun to see him breakdown a bit. Everyone has their breaking points. We just discovered Sheldon’s.

As for the other story, Leonard and Penny- I’m curious to see where this is going to go, I admit it. I want to see how this idea, so unpopular with a segment of the show’s fandom, plays out. I know a lot of people complain of the lack of chemistry between Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, especially since the chemistry between Parsons and Cuoco is electrifying. But I find they do have chemistry together. I enjoy their scenes together. I find their chemistry quieter, less intrusive than non-existant. It’s atypical of the sitcom standard to put the less explosive couple together.  The fangirl in me may be disappointed, but the writer in me is curious to see what the writing team has in store for us.

Grade- A-

PS- I could handle a spinoff of just Sheldon’s mom. Laurie Metcalf is a genius.

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The talk sucks.

This little nugget from Barney explains the relationship talk so well, don’t you think?

See, Barney and Robin’s kiss at the end of last season caused Lily to a have a ” woo” moment, but they played it off as neither of them really wanting to take it forward. Except they have sex all summer long. That info makes Lily crazy, and she begins to pressure them into having ” the talk”. Robin insists they’ve tried to have ” the talk”, but neither of them likes “the talk” , so whatever. Why do they have to define it? Lily can think of one reason- you don’t end up going to a hockey game with built like a Mack truck Brad ( ” Wow, there are really six of them…” Robin exclaims after seeing his six pack) and having Barney going to the game to punch Brad in the face. So Lily tries the next logical step- lock them in a room until they have ” the talk”. And when push comes to shove, they decide to lie. Except the only people they’re lying to is themselves. Barney and Robin are a couple. Just don’t tell them that.

The other story, Ted, starting his new job at Columbia as an adjunct professor ( ” P-R-O-F-… F?”) gives us a schizoid douche Ted, as he changes his mind about what kind of professor he is going to be thirty times in ten seconds ( “You can call me Ted. Professor Mosby. T-Dog. Don’t call me T-Dog”). Turns out his ” class” is really Economics 305.  But as we know, the mother is somewhere in that Economics 305 class.

The show was uneven all through its fourth season, with some really great moments in between totally suck ass moments. This episode is a smashing return to form. It plays with the concept of relationships needing specific labels while admitting that the labels help the rest of the world know what you are. The show, for all it’s comedic brilliance, has been one of the best examples of the masks we place on everyday to impress a society that judges. Barney and Robin refuse to label their relationship for themselves out of fear and past mistakes, but in their own way label themselves as the iconoclasts they pretend to be. Lily’s obsession over the Barney and robin dynamic fits with Lily’s desire to be perceived as New York Typical ( even her double dating couples fantasy was oddly Americana- camping? Can you see Lily camping?). Even a woefully underused Marshall was complicit- he sees Professor Ted as Indiana Jones, and gets him a fedora and bull whip. But it’s Ted, so worried as always of what people really think of him, that learns a lesson. Late for his class, he doesn’t have time to think about a persona. He just talks about architecture.

Grade: B+

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I was one of those people last year who was on the fence about Fringe. I found the first half of the season unbearably slow and antiseptic. That all changed as the season went on, and the last two episodes sealed it for me. I even placed the series on my One Hundred Greatest Television Series list. So I was eager to see what the season premiere would hand us.

What it handed us was a wallop of emotionally charged story telling with a dose of “Ohmigod did they just do that?” horror.

It turns out that this show is a worthy successor to my beloved and late X-Files.

We start with the piercing sound of metal on metal, and then a guy staggering out of a car crash, bleeding from a head wound. He runs off as a crowd gathers. He gets access to an apartment building and promptly kills a man. He then takes out a contraption that seems  to plug into the soft palette of the mouth, causing shape shifting. He takes on a new body, leaving the old one on the floor. Then he leaves.

Meanwhile, Peter and Walter are having one of their cute moments at a grocery store. It’s Peter’s birthday on Friday, and Walter has it in his head that Peter needs a birthday custard. Peter insists he hates custard. Walter, in his permanent state of self loathing psychosis, neglects to register this. Seems alternate universe Peter adored custard. This world’s Peter just wants to get the hell out of the grocery store. He gets his wish with a phone call.

This is where we meet Agent Jessop. She’s been assigned to find out about the car crash. Seems the shapeshifter  has crashed into a FBI issued SUV. Peter arrives with Walter, angry and panicked. Jessop tries to get some answers about Peter’s relationship to the FBI, but Peter is having none of it. The SUV belongs to Olivia, who is nowhere to be found. Jessop and Peter argue about what she needs to know ( apparently, nothing, it’s classified) while Walter fiddles with the SUV. Suddenly, Olivia crashes through the windshield, unconscious and bleeding.

This all happens before the title card.

Olivia is rushed to hospital, clinging to life, Peter and Walter on her tail. the doctors inform our beloved Bishops that Olivia won’t make it. Walter refuses to believe this information, and we get a beautiful scene of Walter, helplessly and lovingly standing over a shattered Olivia, with Peter mournfully observing through a window.

 Jessop heads off to FBI headquarters, where Broyles confronts her. It’s a routine accident, and she is ordered to sign off on the report. Broyles then crashes Peter’s pity party, and informs him that he is off to Washington. seems that the government wants to shut down Fringe division. Peter himself then questions the existence of Fringe. We then see Jessop at a computer, trying to get into the Fringe files. She uses a stolen password to get access.

Rachel ( the fabulous Ali Graynor) shows up to execute her sister’s living will, and she tells Peter to say good bye. Peter does so, only to be shocked by Olivia suddenly waking and speaking in greek. She cannot recall anything that happened to her, but knows instinctively that she is in danger and begs Peter for her gun.

Peter returns to FBI Boston to discover that his credentials have been revoked. Jessop then rescues him, taking him with her. She gives him the file on the accident, but expects answers about FRinge. Peter tells her that they do nothing. Jessop is going after a guy she believes is involved with the accident, but discovers a dead body. Peter calls in Walter, who gets into it with an M.E. Jessop gives him the body to take to his lab.

A new guy walks into a shop. He asks the man at the counter for a Selectric 251. He is informed it never existed. The new guy insists. The counter dude tells him it’s been six years, and he won’t be waiting forever.  The new guy sits at the typewriter and types in that he has finished his mission and asking for extraction. Then, in a mirror, he sees his answer. His mission is not over. Finish it. And kill her.

Charlie shows up, and gives Olivia a story about his days as a police officer in which he was shot and hospitalized in the line of duty. He also tells her that she now has a gun under her pillow. Olivia finally admits being afraid, and that she cannot load her gun.

Walter has Astrid making custard as he performs an autopsy on this mangled body. Turns out our dead guy was a victim to a shape shifter.  He then shows Jessop and Peter a video of experiments he and William Bell did on a girl a while ago. They were trying to make her see God. They got a tale of the shape shifting mercenary.

Broyles in front of the senate is a hoot. He refuses to be talked down to by Senators who know jack about what he does, and tells them that he has spent his whole life protecting them from fears both common and strange. Unimpressed, they pull Fringe Divisions funding. Broyles meets Nina outside, where she tells him to save the day. And they kiss ( nearly died at the kiss).

Jessop and Peter are called into a mortuary with a body matching wounds that Astrid has red flagged. Jessop informs him that her father was a soldier and that he was adamant that he always finish his mission. Peter then clicks on the fact that the shape shifter’s mission was Olivia, and he flies out of there like a bat out of hell.

The shape shifter, though, has now taken over Olivia’s nurse, and is asking leading questions to Olivia, who really cannot remember a thing about the accident or anything else from that time. Disappointed in getting no new information, the shape shifter attacks Olivia. Jessop arrives and shoots the shapeshifter, who takes off through a window. Peter, Jessop, and Charlie all head to the hospital’s underbelly. The shapeshifter gets behind Charlie, who shoots. Jessop and Peter both run to where Charlie is, and he’s standing over the dead body of the nurse, broken contraption beside them.

After a nice Olivia and Peter moment in which Peter brings her flowers and they talk, Peter hand Broyles the shape shifter gadget, and tells him to use that to save Fringe’s funding. Our last moment is Charlie in the hospital basement. He’s lugging something to the incinerator. Turns out- it’s Charlie. Charlie is no longer Charlie, it’s the shape shifter.

Overall, a thrilling, quick, tight episode. I’m still unsure about our new agent, Jessop. She’s shown with a bible at the end. Is she looking for something to confirm end of days? Our regular cast is in good form, and the story is now taking real shape. I’m not much for mythology shows, but I’m totally getting wrapped up in this one.

Grade- A

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5:50 Going for a quick cigarette outside before awards begin.

6:00 Opening spiel, then NPH singing in a white dinner jacket. Yummy.

6:04 ” I grew up on television.”

6:05 Shaiman and Whitman wrote the song. Knew it.

6:07 Tour of the Emmy set.

6:09 Funny Emmy clip reel.

6:11 Jon Hamm ( sigh) and Tina Fey ( sigh). Supporting Actress in a comedy.

6:12 WTF Chenoweth?

6:13 The winner is… Kristin Chenoweth (stunner shocker but happiness!) She sobs her way funnily through her speech. I wanna hug her.

6:08 Comedy categories first. I’m suddenly very nervous for hubby Jim Parsons.

6:21 Some Neil and Hodgman funnies, then a convenient plug for HIMYM.

6:22 So surprised 30 Rock won a writing award. (Sarcasm)

6:27 Jon Cryer wins. Why?

6:28 One very pissed off NPH/30 Rock fan right here. ARGH!

6:33 I’m very worried about the rest of my picks. I’m 1 for three. The one- writing.

6:35 Justin Timberlake presenting Actress in a Comedy series. And he’s funny and charming.

6:36 Toni Colette wins. I’m way off tonight. I’m trying to figure out what tonight is gonna be. Watch Charlie Sheen win in a couple of minutes.  This is turning into a nightmare show for me 9 although I like Toni and Kristin, I like their shows, but I honestly thought they wouldn’t win).

6:39 NPH asks Cryer to show the envelope. It really does say ” Jon Cryer”.

6:41 The GG girls turn it over to Tina and JT, who thank Lorne Michaels for their Guest Actor wins. Then the GG girls present  Best Comedy direction to The Office’s Jeff Blitz.

6:48 Rob Lowe presenting Actor in a comedy. He mocks himself.

6:52 I’m gonna drink an entire bottle of wine right now and drown ,y tears because Jim Parsons did not win.

7:29 I have spent the last forty minutes trying to fix a computer crash. Rundown- Reality shows no surprise, mini/TV movies are pretty ho hum. Dr. Horrible- hilarious! Love the buffering jokes. And Captain Hammer to boot. Jessica Lange beats out Drew Barrymore.

7:59 Apparently Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco were on stage with Jim Parsons when he presented. I didn’t notice as I laid at the foot of my TV stand staring worshipfully at a comedy God who was robbed of his Emmy. Really, I need a life.

8:01 I do not have a problem. All of you shut up.

8:02 Jimmy Fallon won as a member of the SNL writing team, right?

8:03 Jimmy is making me laugh. He hasn’t done this since he was on SNL.

8:05 It has to be “Motherlover”. Seriously.

8:05 It’s the Oscars team. Are you kidding me?

8:06 Ricky Gervais. Worshiping at the feet of the king.

8:07 ” Me, again.” HA!

8:08 Gervais present best comedy variety show to The Daily Show. Never disappointed when TDS gang wins. As I am also much in ,love with Jon Stewart. Have been since his MTV talk show in the mid 90s.

8:16 Prezzie time. But no Prezzie speech. Thank God.

8:17 Drama time. Great. Night should be ending soon. Crushing disappointments tonight. Cryer/Baldwin just took me out.

8:19 LL and Chris O’Donnell not funny at all. Supporting Actor goes to… Michael Emerson. My best friend Rosie probably just screamed with joy. I still couldn’t tell you what role he played.

8:21 Chris and LL also doing Supporting Actress. And that award goes to Cherry Jones.  Who is a theater goddess, so we are delighted.

8:23 In Memorium.

8:33 Hot vampires!

8:35 Ellen Burstyn and Michael J. Fox present directing for drama.

8:36 The award goes to the E.R. dude.

8:37 Now they present drama writing. I’m guessing… Mad Men.

8:38 Yeah, shocker again (Sarcasm).

8:39 Yeah, I’m one of those guys at Starbucks with a computer or notebook, writing away.

8:40 Simon ” Hot accent” Baker is presenting the actress drama award to Glenn Close. I am WAY OFF  with these damn acting awards this year. WTF?

8:44 Right now I’m kinda hoping Hugh Laurie wins and makes me 0-for-eight for acting awards.

8: 48 Dana Delaney presents Actor in a drama.  Bryan Cranston wins. This is the one I get right. And he rightfully deserves it. His performance is searing.

8:52 Bob Newhart presents Best Comedy. And drones on a bit.  But has some good lines.

8:54 30 Rock. Which is about as surprising as me eating peanut M&Ms.

8:56 I have never been so unhappy to see Cat Deeley in my life. I want my final award.

9:00 Emmys are going over.

9:00 I’m actually looking forward to Criminal Minds.

9:01 Sigourney Weaver presents best drama to Mad Men. No effing surprise.

That is it for the night and the year. Early surprises in acting awards turn into a night where many repeat winners come along.  Still crushed about Jim Parsons losing. May never be okay again…

Can’t wait until The Big Bang Theory premieres tomorrow night.

Till the next one ( Golden Globes in January, everyone!)

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Glee Episode 1-3 ” Acafellas”

The beginning of every new series is going to be rough. The chances of choppy waters increase when said show is ambitious and epic  like Glee is. That is not to say that “Acafellas” was bad. On the contrary, it was a delight in many ways. But after the genius of the pilot and the solid second episode last week, I was slightly disappointed with this week’s Gleeful outing.

The show has the potential to collapse under its massive ensemble cast- there are at least twelve significant roles on this show. That is a lot of people to try and work in to a show, complete with individual story lines and moments to shine. And this episode ended up feeling overstuffed and under developed simultaneously.

The valid question off the top, asked by Cheerleader Quinn, was whether Will had even tried to fulfil his performing dreams. After shop teacher Henri returns from his cough syrup induced thumb amputating shop accident, a sad round of ” He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” with Will, Ken, Sheets and Things’ Howard, Henri, and Sandy ” Stay 50 Feet Away From Children” Ryerson leads will to form an a cappella group, launching into a really fun version of Montell Jordan’s 90s classic ” This Is How We Do It”. This plays into Will’s B story, where he bonds with his dad ( the fabulousity that is Victor Garber- alas, no song), who admits his failings with ease. Fathers on television are routinely maligned, often absent and mean. It’s nice to see a father-son relationship that is rather warm and friendly.

The other story of the episode, the Glee kids hiring that annoying prick Dakota Stanley, honestly didn’t go anywhere. I get that they were trying to create a bit of tension between Finn and Rachel, and allowing Quinn and her minions try to disrupt Glee quietly, but it just felt… ugh. With no Glee performances this week, the show felt kind of empty.

The one thing that did work well this episode was the “C” story between Mercedes ( Amber Riley, so fantastic on ” Bust The Windows”) and Kurt ( Chris Colfer, a TV star in the making). Mercedes instincts were right on the money, but she allowed insecuirty and fear ( and a couple of ne’er-do-well Cheerios) to get her hopes up about Kurt, who was being a supportive friend. Ryan Murphy said in an interview that he wanted Kurt’s coming out to echo his own, so the one real moment of the entire episode was Kurt tentative telling to Mercedes, followed by a tear and an acknowledgement that he really wasn’t as brave as Mercedes wanted him to be.

Overall, there were some good moments, but over all, the cluttered, scattered tone left me wanting( and too much Terri- I really dislike her). Rumor has it next week is going to be a hum dinger of an episode, focused on Colfer’s delightful Kurt. I certainly hope all the love I’m hearing is legit, and not just a bunch of TV critics trying to sell me snake oil.

 Quoteworthy:

” I have no thumbs!” Henri, in a game of one ups-manship

” The parents discovered we’re feeding their kids prison food”.- Figgins

” Josh Groban likes a blousy alcoholic.”- Josh Groban, cementing my belief he’s a singing comedian.

” Is cliche a bad thing?”- Finn

” I’m going to ask you to smell your armpits.”- Sue to the Cheerios

” If you blow this for me I’ll shove my arm so far down your throat you will be able to taste my arm pit hair.”- Ken to Puck.

” I told Figgins we’d end up with a bunch of pansies if we didn’t get some hot wood in their hands.”- Sandy

Grade- C

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I could go on and on about the technical flaws I saw on last nights episode ( the musical numbers were way to polished and the AV was out of sync), but I’m not. No. Because I am in love with this show.

The fact I love this show should be no surprise to anyone, as I am also deeply in love with Ryan Murphy’s previous high school dramedy Popular  (Mary Cherry forever!). Glee in many ways hits similar tones comically and dramatically as this late 90s cult classic, and the struggles the students face are also similar. The slightly awkward, overly ambitious girl crushes on the cool jock boy who dates the pretty blonde cheerleader. There are kids with speech impediments and disabilities, and they aren’t all a size two. Murphy creates a real high school feeling. Then he throws on show stopping musical numbers.

Now, the audio of ” Gold Digger” is amazing, but it was hampered last night by poor mixing and editing.  In fact, that was an issue with all the musical numbers last night. If this show is going to work over the long haul, they have to fix it. Off sync is distracting.  And the “Push It” number was amazingly cringe worthy and hilarious at the same time. I watched it mouth agape and sniggering the entire time. That was right on the edge of appropriate and Murphy probably knows it ( the man also created Nip/Tuck, which has been crossing that line for years).

But there were some really great moments in the episode- Will and Emma’s chalk dust on the nose, Finn and Rachel bonding over their mutual love of music, Finn making the angels cry with that popping balloon, Rachel’s speech on teenage sexuality that made her a hero to a certain faction of horny teenage boys, every moment Jane Lynch and Jayma Mays were on screen, and the realization that Quinn and the Cheerios can kind of sing. As the Cheerios go in to spy for Sue Sylvester, expect high jinks to ensue.

The flaws,  though, have the potential to be too distracting. I like Jessalyn Gilsig a lot as an actor, but her character Terri is shrill and shrewish. I honestly wanted to punch her at various moments ( though I did snicker when she pointed out the children’s bedroom as the room for ” their daughter or gay son”). The Cheerios are still way into Mean Girls territory and have yet to be really fleshed out as characters. The same thing can be said about the jocks. There are those sync issues and they need to dirty up the vocal tracks as well ( last night was a little too polished and studio for my liking- only ” Take A Bow” came close to any real emotional connection, aside from Jayma Mays’ Emma sobbing through ” All By Myself” in her car).

Then there are the highs. The appealing youngsters are delightful as the ” island of misfit toys”, as Sue called them. Matthew Morrison ( Tony nominee for Light In The Piazza and the original Link in Hairspray)  is charming as Will, who only seems to come really alive when he’s at the school, doing Glee and interacting with the students. The incomparable Jane Lynch is clearly delighting in playing the vindictive, spoiled, entitled cheerleading coach, who gets the school to pay for European dry cleaners and for some reason has seen an elementary school production of Hair. There is sharp humor and commentary about relationships, the high school caste system, and the general malaise of education systems in North America.

After the completely charming pilot, this was a good follow up episode.

Pilot received an A from me. ” Showmance” gets a solid B+.

Quoteworthy!

Rachel: I guess I don’t have a gag reflex.

Emma: Years from now you’ll find that a blessing.

***

Coach Tanaka: I’m a minority so they can’t fire me, I’ll always be able to provide for you.

***

Kurt: Wait! One day you will all work for me.

Other things of note:

  • Figures guys would join the Celibacy Club to try and bed their chaste girlfriends.
  • Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt, is going to get a big episode coming up that Ryan Murphy has said is based on his own high school experience. If you know anything about Ryan Murphy, you can probably figure it out.
  • I tend to hate cheerleaders in TV world. These ones take the cake.
  • Quinn and Finn. I hate cutesy couples with rhyming names.
  • Amber Reilly has a voice and a half!
  • I do not remember the disco revivial of 1993. Anyone else?

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I normally look upon stunt casting with a wary eye. When done right ( Paul Rudd’s sweet Mike on the final two seasons of Friends, Leslie Jordan’s wickedly fey Beverley on Will and Grace), it’s magical. When done just because ( Britney on anything), it’s cloy and distracting. It’s best if the stunt casting makes sense. It’s better when the guest star gets smashing lines. TBBT had been doing the stunt casting thing well. Till this week.

Summer Glau, star of The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox ( but produced by WB- hence the crossover), is actually quite dynamic on her show ( she’s honestly the best thing about it). But she was wasted on this episode with mostly monosyllabic answers to the constant attention of Howard and Raj. When the guest star gets no real funny lines on a sitcom guest spot, you have to wonder.

Fortunately, the Penny-Sheldon dynamic was fabulous despite the fact they were barely on screen together. Kaley Cuoco is truly turning into a charming and funny lead as the show goes on, because even without the guys to play off of, she was great, nonchalantly painting her nails as Jim Parson’s Sheldon gives wackadoodle directions to get his flash drive out of his locked desk drawer. ( The show is getting better with it’s callbacks recently, with mentioning of Howard’s new “relationship” with Leslie Winkle and the come back of “wackadoodle”). Jim Parsons, gifted physical comedian, spent nearly the entire episode sitting down, but still managed to be utterly delightful every second he was on screen. Johnny Galecki’s Leonard was also great this week, as he is having a ” I hate Sheldon” week and needles him more than usual ( but still plays peacemaker between Sheldon and a nosy Penny).

Things we learn this week:

  • Given enough time, Howard can actually come up with a clever pick up line.
  • Given the opportunity, Raj will steal that pick up line.
  • Penny has a job playing Anne Frank in a small 99 seat theater above a bowling alley. Hey, it’s an acting job, folks.
  • Sheldon keeps his flash drive locked in his desk, but the key for the desk in in his room, and nobody is allowed in his room.
  • Sheldon is way obsessed about trains.
  • Raj is susceptible to the placebo effect, and apparently cannot read labels on beer bottles.
  • Howard, though in a relationship, has a flawless reason to try and sleep with Summer Glau- ” It’s Summer Glau!”
  • The guys go to the Apple Store and mock the people at the Genius Bar.
  • Sheldon has a new packing system involving RDF tags, a scanner wand, and a complex cross referencing system.
  • Sheldon takes all the fun out of sarcasm, according to Leonard.
  • Sheldon’s vote outweighs the other three.
  • Sheldon is wary of voiding warranties, but is more obsessed with keeping season 1 of BSG on TiVo. Leading me to ask- don’t they have the DVDs?
  • Sheldon’s MeeMaw calls him ” Moonpie” because he is so ” nummy, nummy”. And only MeeMaw can call him that. For the first time, Sheldon shows a streak of sentimentality.
  • Leonard is reading Noble Laureate George Smoot’s ” Wrinkles in Time”.
  • Are you meaning to tell me Penny doesn’t know a USB port from a power button?

Overall, there were funny moments, but the use of Summer Glau was limited, and the real story got lost to the B story, simply because Jim and Kaley shine as the adversarial friends.

Penny line of the week: ” What up, Moonpie?”

Sheldon line of the week:’ It’s like talking to a chimp.”

Howard line of the week: ” One beer and it’s like he’s M. Knight Charmalamalan.”

Raj line of the week: ” You got me. Now, what are you gonna do with me?”

Leonard line of the week : ” Looks like you’re between a rock and a crazy place.”

Grade- B

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Dial Idol has a close race between Allison (NO!!!!!), Jasmine, and Jorge heading off into the sunset.

The new rule- Judges save. It’s not as horrible as the idea floating out there that the judges were adapting the SYTYCD judging model ( America votes the bottoms, judges eliminate after a dance off). But I know that Idol fans, for all their complaints of  Jennifer Hudson-Chris Daughtry- Michael Johns unfairness, prefer to have the vote without judges interference. I know I do- and  I love love LOVE the three singers mentioned above.

So the group car wreck- er- number- let’s just skip that. I’m too tired to even comprehend it right now.

Is it me, or is RyRy looking particularly stupid tonight. I am tired. Daylight Savings and all.

Do the producers put these callback moments through Autotune or something. They always sound better in these callbacks. Except Jasmine.

And why would I bother to watch anymore if Adam and Danny are really the chosen ones? I want Alexis and Allison or Lil if necessary.

The Ford Music Video- not that sucky.

Rig Pig- safe.

Allison- safe. ( I love it when DI gets it wrong…)

Jasmine- down to the stage.

JT Wannabe- safe

Married Hottie and Megan Joy- Married stays, Megan to the floor.

Jasmine and Megan… and Megan is safe! Whooo! So relieved. She’s at least interesting. Jasmine is not interesting at all. They are making her sing as the judges deliberate. Why, God? I hate the sing out.

I want my Kanye and Kelly. Where are they?

Randy tells Jasmine sorry, not good enough. She cries. RyRy comforts her. We get the package and whatever sets in for me.

Kanye comes out and does “Heartless”, which is one of the best songs off of 808s and Heartbreaks. He has never been a great singer, but this song uses his limited vocal range and mixes his more light, sing-songy rap style to excellent effect.

Did they shrink the swaybots this year? I hardly have noticed them.

Those crazy ass screaming teens are too young for you, Kanye ( I know exactly how old he is, we were born a mere month apart).

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how one performs on the Idol stage. Awesome Kanye.

Scottay- safe. No surprise.

Alexis- safe. Thank the soul of Jimi.

Mopey- safe. Geez. And you know something? Sky is blue.

Anoop Doggy Dogg- to the stage.

Madame- safe. Sun is yellow.

Jorge… Lil… come on, we know it Jorge. And there he goes to the stage. Lil is safe. No kidding.

And they are going to make us wait. Poor guys. I hate RyRy for doing that to you. But Kelly’s gonna sing. We love Kelly. The Original Idol.

( I am clearly a Kelly girl from way back when, and I honestly think that the slam her last album got was unfair- it’s a mature, beautiful piece of melancholia).

This Idol re-visitation is gonna be weekly. Cool. Kelly looks fabulous, and is sweet and charming. She launches into ” My Life Would Suck Without You”, which is awesome if a little to reminiscent of ” Since U Been Gone”. I adore her still.

And so, we come down to Anoop and Jorge. And Anoop is safe… poor Jorge is gonna sing as the judges chat.

My friend, the awesome Melissa in Baltimore, had been hearing that only one person would end up getting eliminated due to the phone mishap ( Idol-13 is a porn number… whoops).  But Simon puts that to rest with a sharp “No.”

That is Carrie singing ” Home Sweet Home”, a awesome cover of the Mötley Crüe road song classic. And we say goodbye to two.

Next week- more hell. This season is disappointing in so many ways.

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I know it’s late. Busy week.

We open with paintball. Finally we get to see the guys play paintball. And typically, Sheldon is anal retentive and insane. Physics team paintball strategy meeting? Stargate episodes as strategy? Poor Howard, though, still forever a mama’s boy. Leslie Winkle is back, and she and Howard, trapped in a shack, talk about the difficulty of war ( she killed her team in a hail of friendly fire). Dialog lifted out of every classic war film ( including Raj’s tribute to Robert Duvall). Leslie and Howard start making out. Leonard calls to Howard, who replies ” war is hell” and continues to make out with Leslie.

TBBT universe is also in an economic crunch, and the boys are complaining about cutbacks. Sheldon’s theory is that they should all be fired to fund his research ( our Sheldon is full on back!!!!!) Leslie, though, tells Howard his request for new equipment is approved, leading to a discussion of quid pro quo in which the boys suss out Howard’s reason for failing to cover them in the paintball has to do with his hooking up twice in the shed with Leslie. Bombarded with opinions about how unfair it is that he’s getting rewarded for sexual favors, Howard points out that it is indeed unfair, but he was also having sex while they were not, and that’s merely delightful.

Howard, though, gets a taste of Howard’s own medicine when it becomes clear that Leslie is only using him as a bought and paid sex toy/arm candy when he almost is disinvited to Geneva on a field trip with Leslie after refusing to go to her sister’s wedding. Leslie insists she would be uncomfortable without using quid pro quo as then they would disintegrate into a real relationship with ” feelings and crap”. Howard accepts this and asks his mom to rent him a tux.

The actual A story involves Penny accidentally shooting Sheldon’s ” spot” on the couch with a paintball gun, causing Sheldon a few uncomfortable days in which he sighs incessantly during Halo night’s Chinese food meal. Leonard though, throws himself in the line of fire at the end of the show by admitting that he had actually been buying Sheldon’s cashew chicken from a different restaurant and putting into the bought containers from a now closed favorite. For two years. Sheldon goes into an existential crisis, but insists the cushion, recently cleaned and brought back, still isn’t right.

Overall, the episode had very funny lines, and real out loud laughter moments ( the look on Howard’s face after sex with Leslie- priceless). The story was a little repetitive ( how many times can we talk about Sheldon’s spot?), but as long as one can wring humor from it, I guess the writer’s will continue.

Sheldon line of the night- ” They don’t talk incessantly for no good reason?” in response to Leonard’s query about what makes a good friend.

Grade- B-

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Christine Baranski and Jim Parsons

Christine Baranski and Jim Parsons

Think about Friends and the two primary love stories that happened on that show. Both the Ross and Rachel dynamic and the Monica and Chandler dynamic had the underlying foundation of friendship. Ross and Rachel, though, not being enormously close at the beginning of the series, entered into a romantic relationship fueled by sexual desire, low self esteem, fits of jealousy, and temper tantrums. It was after that original break up and several close calls over the years that you began to see a maturation of the relationship, cemented in the birth of the baby that only happened due to a moment of what I’m sure is self pity on both their part, and the eventual realization that frankly, they had been a couple the entire time, though they tried to deny it. It was an evolution of character, for sure, but it was annoyingly long and painful over ten seasons that the writers literally had to write the ending they did, or else they would have been shot at like wild dogs. The Monica- Chandler relationship, though, was less melodramatic in tone, more real, a natural evolution of an existing friendship that was already pretty close, and as mature as a relationship can get because, after all, it’s Friends.

Why do I bring up a show that is in constant reruns but has been off air for six years? Well, as I was watch this week’s episode of TBBT, I was struck by the balance that Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, and the writing staff are bringing to the Leonard- Penny relationship. They have formed a friendship that appears pretty solid, sweet, caring, and gentle, but the obvious crush Leonard has on Penny hangs over them both. It’s not the total focus of their relationship, but neither ignore it. At the same time, both characters show a surprising impulsive nature. Penny’s is more obvious ( this episode having a prime example), but Leonard’s impulsive behavior is more damaging to his immediate interests. he cannot for the life of him keep his mouth shut, and it interferes in his goals. He cannot shut off his brain, and therefore he ends up spouting of what really should be part of his inner monologue.

Needless to say, this episode ends up giving a lot of food for thought about Leonard as a person. Tie what I just wrote into this weeks Slate article ( and I must say, a pretty good one) about Sheldon having Asperger’s.  I’m not overly familiar with the diagnostics of Asperger’s, just what I’ve read on Wikipedia, but I share some of those traits- active but odd, certain routines, pursuit of narrow interests, disjointed, quick speech patterns. and I know I’m not the most empathetic person in the world, and I am a ginormous klutz. I do not believe I have Asperger’s, as there are many of the characteristics I do not have. I always considered myself a raging misanthrope, a cynic, a pessimist, a fatalist. Chuck and Bill insist Sheldon is not an Aspie, and Jim Parsons ( genius- there is a person I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with) tows the party line pretty well while acknowledging there is no way Sheldon could be anything else but one.( His answers in the Variety series were a tightrope act without a net on this issue.) This plays into this weeks learn about Leonard episode as we finally figure out the reason why Leonard actually puts up with so many of Sheldon’s quirks and is always prepared to knuckle under.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Dr. Beverly Hofstadter. Some may call her an analytical cold fish. I call her Sheldon in a dress. Leonard calls her “mother”.

First off, my kids want Rock Band ( I admit, I do as well, but the price tag is enough to make you pause). This weeks cold open has the guys playing the zeitgeist consuming game. It was funny, but not as funny as last week’s episode of Sheldon abandonment. Leonard’s phone call to his mother wasn’t as funny as say- Sheldon’s phone call with his mother in episode 2-7 The Panty Piñata Polarization. But when Penny runs into Beverly at the broken elevator, we get an idea of why Sheldon doesn’t faze Leonard, as Dr. H launches into a theory of the passivity of the tenants due to the dust on the sign and tape blocking the door ( and I must say that in theory, she is absolutely correct, but in practice, fixing it means no more stairway walk and talks). Penny asks an innocuous question about Leonard when he was little ( ” I think you meant young, he’s always been little.”) that turns into a therapy session with a neuroscientist as Penny blubbers on about no longer being ” Slugger” to her dad. Sobbing Penny leaves Dr. H by Leonard’s door, and his mother informs him that all he needs to do to get Penny into bed is find out the brand of cologne her father wears. Who knew it’d be that easy?

This leads to a scene similar to one we’ve seen played out by Sheldon and Leonard a couple of times dealing with sustenance. Leonard tries desperately to please his mother with tea, but the oolong, loose tea, steeped three minutes, milk warmed separately, a teaspoon of raw sugar cup is cold, like mom. Sheldon is clearly taken with Dr. H, whom he sees as an ideal mother- analytical, smart, emotionally efficient, not prone to hitting you with a bible because you don’t eat brussel sprouts. Although a particularly disturbing side of Sheldon comes out when he gets excited by the prospect of viewing the Power Point presentation of her paper on her sex life with Leonard’s father ( and poor Leonard for having to deal with that issue, because he’s clearly been forced to observe it).

Leonard ends up taking Mom to work, where Howard and Raj have way too much fun at Leonard’s expense. Apparently, Leonard is the black sheep of his family, a lowly physicist, while his younger brother is a tenured law professor at Harvard, and his sister is on her way to curing diabetes. Leonard gets them back by telling his mother that Raj can’t speak to women unless he’s drunk and that Howard still lives with his mother. Raj’s case piques her interest a bit, but Howard’s amuses her more than anything- ” An adult Jewish male living with his mother is so common as to be sociological cliché.”, then deduces that they both have a pathological fear of women that they hide by developing an ersatz homosexual marriage ( leading Leonard to crow ” You brought your husband to work!”) This sets up a classic old married couple style fight between Raj and Howard involving Howard always having to speak for Raj around women,  an incident at the comic book store, and the fact Raj says that Howard never wants to talk about what’s really the issue at hand. What does Sheldon get out of this exchange? ” You went to the comic book store without me?”

Leonard, having decided that alcoholism is a valid career move, goes to Penny, and the two of them get wasted on white wine while Sheldon goes to the hospital for a brain scan with Dr. H. The two clearly Vulcanesque people have drawn the conclusion that they are exceedingly comfortable together, and are shocked that someone ” as workaday” as Leonard is their link. This leads to a scene where  Sheldon and Dr. H have a discussion about doing… something, needless to say, it’s filled with sexual innuendo, which is disturbing coming from Sheldon.

Leonard and Penny have moved on from white wine to tequila shots. Drunk, Penny allows Leonard to lick salt of her neck ( he gets very into it, I must say), and after his shot, discovers his lime in Penny’s mouth. Make out session begins ( he spits that lime out and it got some major air, dudes), and it moves into the bedroom, where those impulsive behavior issues come into play. Penny impulsively decides to sleep with Leonard. Leonard impulsively tells Penny that sleeping together is a Freudian nightmare that he’s frankly okay with. That gets him kicked out of bed, out of the apartment, and he returns across the hall to find his mother and Sheldon singing along to Rock Band. That’s what he was trying to convince her to do.

The closer was a bit of a downer considering how funny the show was in the middle. Dr. H goes to leave, giving an obligatory hug to her son ( if you can call it a hug at all). Penny and Leonard have no bad feelings about the night before ( and  they never, ever have to talk about it). On the way down the stairs, Penny again falls into the trap and ends up sobbing about her parents, prompting Dr. H. to ask her to fly to New Jersey and have a brain scan. Penny sniffs ” Will it help?”.  ” Well, it would certainly help me,” Dr. H intones.

TBBT had it’s cast on fire this episode- everyone got a good line in, it was balanced evenly between the three leads, the two supports, and the guest star. Johnny Galecki, who had been reduced to being the reactionary to Penny and Sheldon the past season finally got a half hour to shine. Sure there were outdated pop culture references that weren’t funny a decade ago ( JarJar Binks? Really? Although Simon Helberg’s impression was spot on. His gift for mimicry surprises me every single time), but I don’t care that much. I love this show.

Sheldon quote of the night: ” I’d like to do the math.” How exceedingly perfect.

Grade- A-

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It seems we learn something new about our beloved Sheldon every week.  Last episode, we learned that he is surprisingly persistent when it comes to say… rock wall climbing. This week we learn that Sheldon has no qualms in lending money.  Seriously. The man who made a label for everything including the label maker lends money quite easily with no strings.

Shocking, I know.

The show has consistently funny cold opens, and this one as exceedingly hilarious. We see our four nerds staring at what looks like a complex math problem on a white board, and then the proclamation that there is no answer. No, no, let’s work the math again- apparently, they’re trying to pick a movie theater and restaurant that meets Sheldon’s high standards. Failing this, they attempt to amend their usual plans ( 7-11 Slurpees instead of Icees, dinner after the movie instead of before, and one theater got knocked off for not having Red Vines, which is ridiculous, as Twizzlers are far superior, and if  you are lucky, you can find Nibs, which are made by Twizzler but are small little cherry flavored licorice bits that are the best candy in the world…) There is only one solution, and Leonard, Raj, and Howard leave Sheldon behind, staring at the white board and sighing ” They’re right. It was the only option.”

Penny, on the other hand, ducks into the boy’s apartment to avoid the landlord. She’s behind on her rent, and she’s miserable about it. Sheldon, surprisingly, offers her money to make it through. Penny’s reluctant to accept, but does take it ( with some hilarious physical comedy by Kaley Cuoco, who never gets enough credit, honestly).  But she’s a nice girl who begins to torture herself about it ( and it’s all in her head, as Sheldon never once mentions it first, and never questions her expenditures, which seems un-Sheldon like somehow, but it’s endearing that he trusts his friends with money when he doesn’t trust them with food). This ends with a mini break down over Shrimp with Lobster sauce take out, in which Sheldon warmly offers her more cash if she’s still cash strapped, and Penny storms out ( and returns for her fortune cookie, then she slinks out again looking rather pathetic).

Leonard decides to help Penny by looking at her expenses, but it’s clear Penny is reluctant to let anything go ( cable… acting classes… shopping… I’m basing that last one on the beret meltdown she had). The $1800 at the L.A. County Court House catches his eye, and Penny admits that she bailed ex-boyfriend Kurt out of a legal scrape. Leonard then fashions himself as Penny’s Lancelot and manages to convince the three very smart people playing Talisman across the hall that they need to go on a real life quest for Penny’s money. Even the Lord Of the rings argument falls on snark- as Sheldon points out, Frodo’s companions had a very hard time on the journey to destroy the ring. But they do join him on the journey to Kurt’s apartment, where Leonard gets called ” Lenny” ( heh- Lenny and Penny), Sheldon is mildly offended Kurt doesn’t remember him (  the last time they met, Sheldon was the Doppler effect), Howard insists that Leonard is going to die, and it all ends with Leonard ending up with Kurt’s IOU written on his forehead with permanent ink.

The closer has Penny paying Sheldon back in full after Kurt decides to pay Penny back. Leonard tries to discern whether Kurt admitted being shamed into it, but Penny says it was apparently all Kurt’s idea, and how he’d grown, and how they’re going out to dinner. Leonard looks miserable as Sheldon says that minstrels will actually write songs about Leonard’s achievement. The show ends with Leonard looking pained as Sheldon makes up a ditty about the brave pursuits of Leonard ( with a line about Raj’s nervous bladder to boot).

The show has a habit of taking tired old sitcom tricks and giving them a bit of a fresh spin ( usually, ” Never A Borrower Nor Lender Be”  ends with a near disintegrating friendship as the borrower forgets or splurges and the lender grows increasingly irritated about the fact they aren’t getting paid back- this was the complete opposite of that). I must give credit to the writers for taking cliched comedic premises and making them fun again. It was a truly delightful Penny and Leonard episode ( with a good dose of Sheldon), and I must say that Kaley Cuoco deserves some recognition from people for her comedic charms. It’s unfair that pretty girls can’t be funny, too.

Sheldon line if the night:  ” I’m never silly.” Were truer words ever spoken?

Grade- A-

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You just knew Leonard wanted to have three seconds to himself every once in a while. We get a half hour of Sheldon a week. Imagine living with the guy…

Leonard, you see, needs to use a specific laser for an experiment, but it’s only available after hours, so he’s pulling the night shift at the lab. He told Sheldon he would be unavailable to drive him to work and that Sheldon would need to make other plans, but Sheldon ignored that advice and still expects to be chauffeured by Leonard. There’s also a bit with stimulating Star Wars sheets ( which leads to the question- Stimulating how, Sheldon?) and a snarky remark about the stagnant state of Leonard’s career.  Leonard proceeds to tell Sheldon to take the bus, but Sheldon refuses since buses have no seat belts and they won’t allow him to lash himself to the seats with bungee cords. When that proves fruitless, Sheldon knocks on Penny’s door, and invokes the favor clause built into friendships. Penny agrees to drive Sheldon, who nitpicks about her check engine light ( it’s been on for a month), Penny’s drinking coffee while driving, her route up Euclid Avenue, her not slowing down for speed bumps, and decides to pepper her with arcane trivia and science games.  Penny shows remarkable restraint until Sheldon starts up about the engine again, and she pulls over and kicks him out of the car.

After work, Sheldon runs into Leonard in the cafeteria, where he expects a ride home. Howard agrees with Sheldon’s opinion that Leonard said that he wasn’t able to get a ride to work. Leonard said nothing about the ride home. Howard regrets this decision when Sheldon is denied and expects a ride home with Howard, which involves Howard’s scooter and Euclid avenue’s speed bumps. Convinced Howard is trying to kill him, Sheldon is again abandoned and calls Raj. When that appears to no longer be an option, Sheldon returns to Penny for a ride to Pottery Barn to return the star Wars sheets. Penny slams the door.

The gang decides to proceed with an intervention, and set up an appointment for Sheldon at the DMV. He proves to be a giant ass there as well, and the DMV lady stamps a learner’s permit just to get rid of him. At home, Howard sets up an elaborate simulator ( Sheldon’s desire to drive the batmobile is denied). It proves to be a disaster, and later, while still trying to learn how to drive, Sheldon ends up on the second floor of the Glendale Galleria and crashes into the pet store. Sheldon decides he is ” transcending the situation” and quitting, as he is a Homo novus, and simply too evolved for the plebian task.  He then moves into his office at the university. Leonard conveniently decides to forget to tell him the experimient is over, just for some peace and quiet. After all, when Sheldon comes back, Leonard is the permanent chauffeur again.

A moderately successful outing, as it’s all A story and a lot of Sheldon. The drving simulator stuff is pretty hilarious.  There are great lines for Jim Parsons, but the rest of the cast aren’t given enough to do.

Grade- B-

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After last weeks disturbing Ted story about how he kept nailing Aunt Robin, I half expected an episode that opened on the kids receiving electroshock therapy to burn the images away. Or an episode in which Ted pesters Barney into admitting his actual feelings for Robin ( Lily would have told Marshall a while back, as this season we have established Lily cannot keep a secret to save her life). But instead we get a standard HIMYM gem in which Ted and Barney mack on some barely legals, Marshall and Lily do cute and cheesy romantic stuff, and Robin wears very little clothing at some point and is the cynic in the whole shebang.

Story A: Ted and Barney meet some hot young thangs and try to set up a date. Seeing their band played was nixed because Barney didn’t want to be the bleached blonde skank waving her boobs at a Van Halen concert ( although Ted does point out those girls usually get to have sex with Van Halen- I sure hope he was referring to Van Halen circa 1984…). Exchanging phone numbers was also eschewed by the Barnacle ( if they have your number, they can call and cancel and you are screwed in a very unpleasant way).  But they agree to meet the next night at McLarens. But it starts to snow. Heavily. So much so that they are the only two in McLarens the next night when Carl tells them to take off, he’s closing early to go and set up beds for the homeless. Instead, he agrees to allow Barney and Ted man the bar till their dates show up. This allows for a cool Cocktail inspired sequence that ends with the boys breaking liquor bottles and glasses all over the place. It also fulfills a dream they both have in which they open a bar called Puzzles ( why Puzzles? That’s the puzzle). They girls finally arrive, and ask to bring the whole band with them. The guys agree, but our band is actually the Arizona Tech Fighting Hens Marching Band. Oopsies, boys. Needless to say, fifty drunken college students are not neat, and when Carl calls to inform them he’s on his way back, they move the party upstairs to the apartment, where B&T agree not to open a bar. Then they decide to start a band. Named Puzzles.

Story B: Marshall and Lily started this cute airport pickup thing a while back in which the picker upper wears a chauffeurs hat and carries one of those signs with the arrival’s name on it, and the one who is arriving brings a six pack of local microbrew from where ever they had been. Since it’s the HIMYM universe, they are able to take this on the plane. But they have decided to put this aside. But it’s Marshall and Lily, so that didn’t last long. Marshall feels guilty for letting Lily’s lunch time phone call go to voice mail, and Lily admits to herself Marshall would be there waiting for his beer ( leading to them both believing if they don’t follow through on their ritual, the other would leave them for someone hotter, and in Marshall’s case, more height appropriate). Marshall convinces a barely dressed Robin ( the radiator was broken, apparently, but Cobie’s baby bump is getting noticeable) to drive him to the airport. On the way there, Marshall and  Robin get into a fight about love and rituals- Robin thinks they’re stupid, leading to Marshall to call her a robot. Robin, hurt, pulls over, and while they fight, the car gets buried in a ton of snow by a plow. Marshall admits that he loves these little rituals he and lily have, and apologizes for his snide remark to Robin, and the two escape the car and somehow make it to the airport. Where they discover Lily’s flight was delayed in Seattle.

Story C ( Which feeds into story B): Lily commandeers Rajit ( yay! Rajit!) and goes to get a six pack of microbrew from Seattle in NYC because of the sudden guilt that Marshall wouldn’t get his beer ( and again, that image of the blonde Amazon in he head). It turns out all they had was a keg. Lily gets it. She waits for Marshall. Who shows up with  the Arizona Tech Fighting Hens Marching band Now they have to get a marching band each time one of them gets home from a flight.

Overall, a cute, charming episode that still felt like a bit of a letdown after last weeks’ disturbing but gut wrenching Barney episode. Neil Patrick Harris needs an Emmy STAT.

Grade: B+

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Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon. Oh, Sheldon. You wonderful, arrogant, narcissistic jackass. You cannot boil people and relationships down to algorithms. No matter how hard you try. You may be a genius, but you forget- with imperfect creatures like humans, there are simply too many variables.

Last week’s episode was a bit of a let down, but this week, with Jim Parson’s socially clueless Sheldon centre stage, the show hit a good one for the most part. We start with one of the greatest cold opens ever. Sheldon and Raj are debating the best kind of pudding- Raj is in favor of Tapioca, Sheldon is 100% correct in say chocolate ( chocolate fudge pudding, to be precise). Sheldon then attempts to regale his table with a fact about the plant tapioca comes from, but Leonard, Raj , and Howard refuse to allow him to finish his thought, allowing Jim Parson’s physical comedic gifts shine through as Sheldon desperately tries to interject his arcane knowledge and gets shot down. He spasms, contorts, and as desperation sets in, literally looks as though he’s about to fall apart, until Leonard deems it cruel to continue. Sheldon explodes, then drinks water in the most ridiculously desperate way imaginable. ” You promised you’d stop doing that,” he tells Leonard bitterly afterwards.
Sheldon has a bit of a conundrum. See, he needs a certain lab at the university. This lab is apparently under the control of one Barry Kripke ( see last weeks episode- the dude with the speech impediment that only Raj mentioned. Leonard informs our beloved egomaniac that Kripke only allows his friends to use the equipment Sheldon needs, which causes Sheldon to decide to-*GASP*- make Kripke his new friend. Of course, he does this in the most Sheldon way imaginable. He creates a questionnaire ( which seems to resemble an S.A.T. judging from everyones reaction to it). When that proves to be enormously frustrating for him ( he’s upset his friends don’t take the questionnaire seriously, although to their credit, they answered it), he takes to the next logical step- the children’s book section of the local bookstore, which leads to Sheldon meeting a little girl and unaware of social niceties, he comes off as looking beyond creepy. Leonard pulls him away before the inevitable happens.
Reading Stu the Cockatoo Is New At the Zooallows Sheldon to create a greaseboard with the title algorithm on it. He calls Kripke and follows it till he reaches a loop. Howard remedies this by giving him an escape, which cause Sheldon to remark, ” I’m surprised you saw that.”  Howard remarks on how he finds it amazing Sheldon has any friends at all.

Sheldon’s out was to go indoor rock climbing with Kripke. This ends rather amusingly with Sheldon, who’s fear of heights is ” non-existent” but his fear of falling very real, passing out about halfway. I was actually shocked Sheldon even attempted it, as Sheldon is not known for taking any risks at all. But he manages to get Kripke to come over for food ( leading to him deciding that Penny’s name is not hot enough and renaming her. Howard’s little aside about not looking so bad considering actually end up making the last episode now funnier, which is a major comedic achievement). The rest of the gang, not pleased with this new friendship with someone who essentially amounts to a geek who bullies than simply because he’s only a tad less geeky than they are,are then infomed that Sheldon can only afford in his life four friends. Leonard is safe as he is the roomate, Penny because of the fact that she adds something different, and Howard- well, I’m not even sure why, other than Sheldon was miffed Raj answered the lycine question wrong on the questionnaire, so Raj was eliminated from Sheldon’s friend list. But when Sheldon tries to get Kripke to allow him access to the equipment he needs, Kripke informs him that there is a schedule he has no control over. Sheldon, non plussed about the futility of his efforts,  simply decides Kripke is now out and gives Raj the dumplings.

Strong work from Jim Parsons throughout the series means that Sheldon episodes are more likely as the series continues. That’s an issue with breakout characters on sitcoms, particularly ones as well played as Sheldon. But everyone had a few jabs and one liners, and Leonard finally got a chance to tell Penny how he and Sheldon became friends ( basically, he was allowed to be Sheldon’s roommate as long he didn’t whistle). But it was truly a Sheldon moment, and it shined. I laughed, I laughed, I laughed some more. And thank God for quick closers, as we see the guys staring up at a passed out Sheldon, dangling from a harness as he again failed to make it up the rock climbing wall. It was less than ninety seconds. Brilliant.

Grade- B+

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davidc4

My undying devotion to the one known as SBF during American Idol is legendary. The punk rock chick in me is needing to know that rock still has a place in the pop culture universe, and AI is the music equivalent to the Psychic Friends. Rock indeed can sell in today’s market, even in the context of a popularity contest disguised as a talent show. That being said, AI this year was also awash with pure talent.

The typically quick turnaround ( 10 weeks) of our reigning champs debut means two things. One, it’s uneven. Two, it’s a good representation of what we shall expect in David Cook’s career. Overall, DC’s independent debut/ mini masterpiece Analog Heart, self written and self produced, is a better album. That doesn’t mean David Cook is a bad album. On the contrary, in the realm of Idol world, it’s freaking Abbey Road to Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway ( the Sgt. Pepper’s of this analogy) and Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts ( Let It Be). ( Chris Daughtry’s album would be Let It Bleed– similar, but not the same, regardless of what other hacks try to say). It also is one of the better rock records of the year. Take it from someone who is coming out of her GNR denial and realizing what crap that record is. DC is modern despite his throwback sound.

Songwriting by committee, though, rarely serves a rock album well. With names like Chris Cornell, Raine Maida, John Rzeznik, and Kevin Griffin, DC is working with some of the best, most melodic songwriters in the biz. The delicate ” Permanent” ( co-written with Maida and Maida’s wife, chanteuse Chantal Kreviazuk, and it has her fingerprints all over it) is the loveliest song on the album. the lead off single, ” Light On”, has grown on me significantly since my first review, and is now one of my favorite songs of the year, with it’s minor key intro and soaring chorus. ” Declaration” ( a.k.a. the other song played on SNL) is melodic and rocking. ” Bar-Ba-Sol”, the best track on the album, is blessed with an asymmetrical melody, grinding guitars, and a solo that peels the paint off the ceiling, teamed with an awesomely off-kilter vocal melody. ” A Daily AntheM”, a holdover from his solo writing, is the truest song, the one completely in his voice, and it’s connection on an emotional level with me is pretty amazing.

Not every track works for me. I know fans love ” Life On the Moon”, which is blessed with a great melody, but the lyrics buckle under the titular conceit.  DC’s usual hyper-literate lyrics are missing ( go check out Analog Heart for comparison sake- once a word nerd, always a word nerd, but clever and CLEVER play differently). ” Come Back To Me”- I have listened to that song a dozen times and I can’t remember much about it. It’s lost among stronger material. ” Mr. Sensitive” is too on the nose ( I like my rock songs with a little quirk in them). The inclusion of the truly now grating ” Time Of My Life” is certainly not DC’s fault, as I’m sure 19 Entertainment contracts stipulate the Idol will forever be saddled with that claptrap.

It’s not a perfect album. It is, however, thoroughly enjoyable, well produced ( props to Rob Cavallo for not making it sound like it went through a digital blender, but like a rock record), and overall, considering this year in music, one of the better albums of the year.

Grade- B

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The only episodes I have trouble with on CM are the ones featuring children. ” What Fresh Hell”, ” P911″, ” Seven Seconds”- each of these episodes deals with a missing child, and as a mom, it freaks me out. ” Seven Seconds” was particularly frightening- my middle daughter was six at the time it aired.

So needless to say, ” The Instincts” really got to me. Even the fact that Reid was the central force in the script didn’t make me cry an ocean full of tears.

And Reid. Oh, my Reid. You have grown since season one, and the hell they have put you through has created quite the conundrum. All the torture from Tobias, the abandonment by Gideon, the fact you cannot stop the bad memories in “Elephant’s Memory”- you are finally breaking down walls, and it’s honestly going to make you a better profiler. Really. Trust Hotch in this.

We open on Reid, Hotch, and Prentiss searching a house, guns drawn. Reid wanders down a hall, and discovers a basement. Down they go, to discover the body of a six year old boy. Sad. Both Prentiss and Hotch are almost deferential to Reid… and then a baby shows up. Turns out Reid’s dreaming on the plane. Now why Reid is asleep on the plane at this moment is not clear ( late night Babylon 5 marathon, perhaps?), but whatever, it allows for some Emily ribbing and some Reid deflecting ( turns out Reid doesn’t believe in Freudian dream analysis- although he points out later in the episode ” Jung still has his merits.”) We are going to Vegas, folks- Reid’s hometown. Mom’s still there, locked up at the hospital. But Reid’s working, so mom’s not at the forefront of his mind at the moment. It’s the five year old boys- one who was discovered dead after missing for a week, and the other one who disappeared the day before.

Mom and Dad are reacting ” separate”. Dad is freaked out, emotional, a wreck, what one would believe is the stereotypical reaction of a parent of a lost child. Mom is amost catatonic- what I’m sure is another reasonable, realistic, but not nearly as stereotypical reaction. Both are struggling, but Mom’s not wanting to engage much. Dad will do anything the FBI says.

Reid and Morgan hit the M.E.’s office, and discover that the boy was smothered, his digestive system shrunken, but no signs of malnutrition. No I.V. marks leaves them all puzzled. Rossi and Prentiss, at the dump sit, try to figure out how the child was left in an obvious place without anyone seeing the vehicle ( I love the swipe CM writers took at yhe CSI phenomenon- it is Vegas, baby, and Grissom’s team apparently left a mess for the FBI profilers, making the job a little more difficult).

Ina a particularly touching scene, the mom points out to JJ that she does blame her husband for the kidnapping being allowed to occur ( he encouraged  her to allow their son to walk to a friend’s house alone) and that she’s frozen. She had discovered a chocolate bar under his pillow- strictly against the rules, but she left it. ” I don’t want him to think he’s in trouble for breaking the rules,” she says. She asks JJ if she knows the gender of her baby. JJ’s having a boy. Mom chokes up.

The unsub calls- he likes to taunt the parents. And he does a good job. Garcia is unable to triangulate, but discovers the unsub is in city limits. Thank heavens for small miracles- it at least keeps the search focused in the city. Reid and Morgan take over for Hotch and JJ, in case the unsub calls again.

Reid wakes up in the night, and walks downstairs to the basement. He finds a small body behind the dryer. Rossi and Morgan come up behind him. There’s no forced entry. ” Why does that matter?” Reid asks. No forced entry means he knew his attacker. All of a sudden, Reid rips his shirt open and he’s covered in leeches. He screams for Morgan to get them off. Turns out Reid’s dreaming again, and this time, he scared the crap out of our couple with his screams. Morgan manages to calm him down, but Reid knows he didn’t help the situation.

Hotch asked the parents of our new victim to go to the funeral of the previous victim to try and draw the unsub out of the woodwork. Dad is all for any plan, but Mom is angry about having to watch a child being buried. The profile is pretty basic- white male, middle class, focused on the parents, four wheel drive vehicle, remorse- usual babble.

Reid is in the missing child’s bedroom, observing. Reid mentions that he had no dinosaur toys- just books, notebooks, filled with poem and songs. He confides in Morgan that he has had a variation of this dream since he was a young child. Morgan suggests to take time off. Reid actually seems annoyed by the suggestion.

At the funeral, mom uses her natural fear instinct to feel the presence of the unsub watching her. Reid, though, gets the distinct impression that he has been there before. Rossi and Prentiss notice creepy guy filming the funeral with his cell phone. They move in. He is forced to quietly leave as to not to disturb the service. Rossi and Prentiss tear into him at headquarters. Reid is obseving when Morgan brings in a file- Riley Jenkins, a six year old boy who was assaulted and murdered when Reid was four. Riley was the name of Reid’s imaginary friend as a child. In the meantime, our creepy guy turns out to be a preferential sex offender, but not our murderer.

The unsub calls again. He knows the FBI is there now, and demands to speak to them. Hotch takes over. The unsub finally gets to mom, and she steals the phone back and begs for her child back. REid, reading the transcript, deciphers something- the unsub is actually a woman, and possible institutionalized.  A new profile- but unalbe to break into complete psych files leads Reid to his mother’s doctor. While the doctor goes to help by talking to various administraors, he gets to see his mom ( the luminous Jane Lynch- genius casting, CM).  I love their relationship- he’s brilliant, as is she, but she’s crippled by schizophrenia, and he fears it. The are intellectual equals, but he’s always her baby. He can’t lie to her, although he tries. Mom’s just know. ” We’re animals, Spencer, we feel things”, she tells him.  The doctor can’t find specifics, but informs him that release is sometimes predicated on whether they stay medicated. Diana Reid tells Spencer that she went off her meds while pregnant. The Reid clues in. Women overwhelmingly kidnap newborns. If the psychosis is deep enough, a woman might kidnap a child. And she’s breast feeding them.

The rest if the team uses good old fashioned police work and Garcia to use the video tapes of the funeral and find our girl- who had been institutionalized and had just had a baby, who was taken by social services. She’s recreating the loss of her baby. They go off after her, but she’s set a fire with what appears to be a child in her arms. Reid drives up ( Reid drives! Whoot!) and follows the team into the house, and discovers Michael (and how adorable was he picking up that kid!).  She throws the bundle into the fire, but it’s baby toys in a blanket. Our unsub goes back to lockdown. Our kidnapped child goes back to mom and dad. Reid asks to stay in Vegas for the night ( leading Hotch to ask Morgan ” Can you think of anything to do in Vegas for a night?”). Reid has decided to stay with his mother for a visit and a sleepover. But he’s dreaming again. This time, he’s alone, no team to back him up. There is a man bent over the body. Reid demands to see the man’s face. The man slowly turns around. Reid, gun drawn, pointed at our unsub, looks stunned as he whispers ” Dad?”. Willaim Reid has popped up again.

Excellent performances by Reed Diamond and Kari Matchett as our victim’s parents. They were toanlly perfect. Jane Lynch, as always, is amazing. Her Diana Reid maybe crazy, but she doesn’t play her as a whack job. The woman has a doctorate, is clearly intellegent, and even years later, can realize her illness needs to be managed by medication, and can recollect that being without it can terrorize her. But I was moved this week by Matthew Gray Gubler- genius he may be, our Spencer Reid, but he’s more complex than geeky beginnings allowed us to believe.  And certainly more troubled. Gubler is growing as an actor as well, and his eyes are amazingly expressive. The last shot of him is etched in my memory- the perfect balance of fear and disbelief. Next weeks resolution should be stunning.

Grade- A

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There seems to be an obsession this year with California and Nevada and CM. Last week we were in the Tahoe area, this week in the Modesto, central Cali farmlands, and next two will take us to Vegas, as they are both Reid-centric and Diana and William both pop up. Hmmmsies.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Reidaholics… we have this weeks episode to delve into first.

Trains creep me out. I don’t know why, they just do. Let’s try and decipher my psychosis another day, alright. Seems we have an unsub that catches out ( hops the trains to get around). Great, thanks Oahn Ly, writer, for adding to my fears.  Seems he then goes and murders couples in their homes and lives in them for the night. Ew. Sleeps in their blood soaked bed, watches their TV, eats their food, showers there- creep factor ten.

Back in BAU land, Morgan sees a hot girl and dumps his coffee in the trash to go back up and hit on her. Turns out she’s clever and escapes his clutches. She also knows his name ( leading Reid to ask if he had been with so many women he can’t remember them anymore- classic Reid, mentions he has never had it happened, Emily points out he has that eidetic memory, and Morgan jabs back with ” You only have one name to remember.” Reid’s snarky laugh is priceless.) The teams heading out to California.  The ” Highway 99 Killer”, as the locals call him, has committed five murders ( on the plane, we hear about number six), and we are introduced to the profile of a migrant serial killer- most likely homeless or travels on business. Hotch takes the officer  in charge to task for naming the killer and an over abundance of personnel ( another great Reid moment- he takes off with JJ rather than hear the tongue lashing). Our killer is disorganized but still follows ritual. He’s angry but oddly calm after the kill. He’s using household cleaners to huff. And he’s hopping trains to get around California.

Rossi and Morgan head off to talk to the security on the track- bulls and bos don’t mix. Emily and Reid deduce that he’s sticking to the farmlands of central California.  The profile also tells the cops to look for the tell tale rash of a huffer.  Morgan and Rossi, still out in the field, use candy bars to get info from the transients they meet near the tracks, where they get some valuable information about the symbols used by the transients to convey the state around them. Whether cops are around, friendly homes, it’s the hobos code.

Reid has had Garcia look for other crimes that fit our unsubs MO, and she has found three more cases. Rossi and Morgan head off to a small town in the mountains to find out what happened near Bakersfield. Garcia notices an uptick in certain harvests, and Reid and Emily now figure our unsub is a migrant farm worker. The seventh crime is discovered- he’s now taunting our team, leaving a Highway 99 headline paper at the scene. He’s getting bolder.

Our unsub isn’t currently working as a migrant farm worker, he’s following a group around. Turns out his half brother is part of this group., and the unsub leaves him money where ever he’s staying. This info proves invaluable- money had been left that day. Morgan and Rossi take to the tracks. Our unsub jumps on to a train, and Morgan goes after him. The unsub and Morgan wage in an epic battle, as the unsub tries to dump Morgan from the moving train while Morgan desperately hangs on.  The unsub is shot  by our team leader and superhero with a gun Hotch while Hotch is in a moving vehicle. Awesomeness or what.

Back in DC, Morgan, Reid, and Emily are in the midst of making plans for dinner out when JJ walks up with the girl Morgan had hit on at the beginning. She’s Jordan Todd, JJ’s replacement while JJ is on leave. AH-ha! Morgan isn’t losing his mind.

Overall, this episode takes me back to season one- it’s truly a team episode, with focus on the crime and the criminal. The teams is shown in complete harmony, with nothing hanging over them.  That being said, it was a slight disappointment- the crime was brutal, but the discovery seemed disjointed to me. Much like this review and recap, I guess. Ultimately, I found the unsub uninteresting. And nothing disappoints me more than not being interested in the unsub. Next weeek is the start of a two episode arc about Reid, and Reid episodes universally have interesting unsubs. Do not let me down, CM.

Brade- B-

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First, before I launch into my weekly love fest of the CM world, let me just say that the most devastating news this week is Johnny Marr denying a Smiths reunion. Damn it! I want to see Moz and Marr live, together, singing ” There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, which my friends will note is my choice of the greatest love song in history. True love is saying that if a ten ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine. Bonus will be seeing ” How Soon Is Now” live.

Back to what I really do here.

( Okay, I am digressing, again, but I’m also quite devastated by the fact that Zeppelin is threatening to tour without Robert Plant.  I want my Zeppelin, and Plant has to be part of the deal. I’m sorry, but no one, NO ONE, should be able to sing ” Rock and Roll” and ” stairway To Heaven” except Robert Plant.)

” Paradise” is quite typical of the CM world.  We start on a lonely highway on a rainy night, with some AC/DC playing, and a trucker doing whatever the hell truckers do on lonely, rainy highways. Distracted, and on a blind curve, he smashes into a vehicle that was stranded on the highway. The people inside are dead. But something strikes our sheriff as odd. No blood inside the vehicle… that is not right. Turns out our couple were dead before the crash, and were tortured and the woman raped.

In a shocker moment, Reid is attempting to get the team to join him for dinner at an all night Indian restaurant. JJ informs them they ain’t goin’ nowhere, and presents the case. Turns out Garcia turned up two more  cases in Nevada. ( Is it Ne-VAH-da or Ne-VA-da??? I’ve always said Ne-VAH-da. Sidetracked… damn it!). Momentary hope surge that it’s the beginning of the upcoming Reid arc ( Reid is a Las Vegas native, after all), but realizing that this episode actually focuses on our victims.

And our victims are surprising. William Mapother is a great actor who gained notice in the 2001 film In The Bedroom, playing Marisa Tomei’s abusive asshole husband who kills Nick Stahl’s character and gets away with murder, setting in motion the events that followed ( great film- go watch it). He also played some villains on TV. I remember him on CSI as a man who killed an HIV positive woman and contracted the disease as the blood spattered in his eyes… I think it was probably unlikely, but plausible. He rarely plays good guys ( he’s handsome in a beaten up boxer kinda way, but quite menacing). Here he’s our husband, a man who is struggling to connect with his wife ( Robin Lively- Neil Patrick Harris link- she played a nurse on five episodes of Doogie Howser!). They are returning home late at night and nearly crash into a truck as he is desperately trying not to go to sleep. They check into a small rustic motel. And then the fun begins.

The team hit the sheriffs office and start plotting- geographical profiling, trying to keep a lid on the real reason for the deaths, and trying to track the dead couples trails before their deaths. Turns out the latest victims were at a diner in Sherwood, NV.  That gives them a starting point.

Our couple wake up after a night of married passion, and we discover that a) her underwear is missing; b) there is no cell phone service; c) neither one of them ordered breakfast, but what they wanted somehow showed up. The husband decides it’s time to leave.

Our couple, Abby and Ian Corbin, are now officially missing, and the team now believe they might be the current victims. They give our profile- a malignant misogynist, an anger excitation rapist, a sadist with mommy issues. He has perfected his skill, he is isolated, and most likely works in a remote motel. Seeing as it’s western Nevada, there are a zillion of them. Good luck and go off on a door knocking journey.

Our couple is currently locked in the suite, Ian nearly gets his eye removed by a knife after peeking out the security peep hole, and the fighting has begun. Anger, frustration, blame- he had a hangover that made them leave later, she’s a bit uptight, nit picking at each other. He keeps fighting for a way out. She’s second guessing his strategy. Not a happy couple. Our unsub keeps observing constantly. Until the bell rings. Our heroes ( Hotch in particular) are here to see if our gentleman at the desk knows anything. The unsub is Wesley Crusher- er, Wil Wheaton ( truly creepy by the way).  He manages to seem normal enough to convince Hotch that he has no clue who the couple in the photos are, and our fearless leader leaves to hit the next spot. Even the best can be fooled at times.

The team keeps searching for other crimes that may fit. Garcia looked at open cases found nothing, looked a pandas, went back at closed cases and found something. A convicted rapist suddenly changed MO, and the team links it to our current unsub.

Our couple is now joined by our unsub, who knocks Ian unconscious, and menaces Abby. Back at the office, the team discovers that the man that Hotch had talked to was in fact Floyd Hansen, convicted of attempted rape, had some undies on him, prison, manages to pin his first murder on another guy, inherits the motel, and is able to continue his sick fantasies.

Ian, tied to a chair, tries to get the bolted chair loose. Abby, tied to the bed, has given up. Floyd keeps beating and torturing our couple, mocking Ian’s manliness, Abby’s poor choice in husband, the very nature of marriage, while building up his own masculinity. Meanwhile our team shows up, and begin searching for our couple, and Reid and Rossi search the offices. He’s fits the profile perfectly- down to following the case. The team manages to rescue the couple, but Floyd escapes out the back. Hotch and Morgan give chase, but in a nice bit of poetic justice, Floyd gets smashed by a mack truck. End of unsub. End of episode.

Weekly Reid funny- Prentiss notes that roadside motels are now on her never list. Reid: ” You have a list?” Rossi: ” You don’t?” Reid kinda shrugs.

Overall, a truly creepy episode from the gruesome twosome, Debra Fisher and Erica Messer. Dark and foreboding. Less team dynamics than I like, a lot of focus on the couple. Wes- I mean, Wil Wheaton was a fascinating choice to play the unsub, and I think it worked out well for both We- Wil and the CM team. He was memorable. I’m still looking forward to ” The Insticnts” and ” Memoriam”, which are to be two ( TWO!!!) Reid centric episodes and Willaim Reid is supposed to make an appearance ( also showing up- the luminously deranged Diana Reid, as played by Jane Lynch. God, I love her.) Back to Nevada we go folks. I love Reid episodes ( logical- I love Reid). This episode is probably my least favorite this season, though.

Grade- B

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Ah, New York, the sixth character in HIMYM world. You have changed so much the last few years… and it doesn’t help that Marshall cannot remember the restaurant he ate the greatest burger. It doesn’t matter that MacLarens has an awesome burger. It’s not that burger. And Marshall’s sudden obsession with it is pretty weird, even for Marshall. Apparently, when the boys moved in to the apartment, Marshall refused to leave for fear of getting mugged. And when he realized NYC is awesome, he found- the burger. And so the love affair began- and ended. He couldn’t find the place again. And ever since, Marshall has been obsessed. Even a helpful stranger gets Marshall’s wrath ( ” I didn’t think about trying the highest rated burger in the Zagatel guide!”). And somehow, Regis gets involved. The place had a signed Regis picture ( but so does every other burger joint in Manhattan). Regis, too, doesn’t remember where this place is, and it’s driving him nuts as well.  As Marshall reminisces, he gives a clue- green door, red neon sign saying burger. Robin says she knows the place, and they go off in search of the place. And there is also a text to Regis- who leaves his new game show to meet them.

Turns out the burger, though, is not the burger. Which allows for a genius Marshall soliloquy about this burger ( which leads to Lily to complain that Marshall got their wedding vows online). Turns out Marshall is struggling. He’s no longer wearing pants. It was fine, until he actually left the apartment… and met Lily to find the burger at some bistro…

The gang takes off to a new place, only to discover it’s been replaced by an ATM for Goliath National Bank ( now owned by Barney’s labyrinth corporation). Turns out Barney got our unemployed Marshall a job at Goliath. It isn’t Marshall’s dream, but it’s a paycheck.  After another ” helpful” ( for a c-note) stranger tells them the place has, in fact, moved.

So they trudge off to the burger place, and this time, success. It is the burger, and it really is that good ( good enough for Barney to think about getting the burger pregnant).

I love Neil Patrick Harris on HIMYM, but the secret weapon of the show has always been Jason Segel. His Marshall is a big, goofy kid with a law degree but a wide eyed idealistic streak which is a rarity on TV now a days. The burger is more than a burger, it’s the last thread Marshall has to his 22 year old self, and all he wants is to be that kid for a minute. Segel, who specialized in geeks with hearts of gold, delivers a great performance. The episode is not as laugh out loud funny, though, as others, and the Regis bit is a clear gimmick. The B story of Goliath National Bank also falls flat. But a solid, guys.

Grade- B

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