About Last Night: Crowned Puts Away the Giant Scissors

While it hasn't done very well in the ratings, I've been following Crowned every step of the way and will be sorry to see it go. The show was so chintzy, with its uncomfortable pageant guide Linnea and its mostly unsuitable contestants, that I started to find it endearing, like a really ugly dog. But I give the show credit: even though for most of the way the show came across as more than a little scripted, it threw in a surprise at the end, as the two teams that seemed to be heading all season for one last showdown were never really factors in the finale.

The final four teams arrived for hair and makeup prior to the finale. Laura of the Sincere Sexy Reds was as high strung as ever, but most of the others followed suit. Rachelle snapped at mom Mindy for not looking enough like a mom, and Hollis asked Gina to stay in competition mode. The opening number reunited the teams for a production number, which was poorly lip-synced. Jack Wagner acted as host for the proceedings, and he called it "a historical event." That's one way to look at it. The prize: diamond necklaces, tiaras, $100,000, and of course, the title itself. The competition would feature the same elements as Miss America: swimsuit, eveningwear, talent, and interview; and the criteria for judging was poise, style, and teamwork.

Patty and Laura were first out in swimsuits, and the judges generally liked them but had comments about being too "blinged out" (Carson Kressley) and looking too much alike (Cynthia Garrett). Moya and Jenileigh got higher marks. Gina and Hollis were docked for insufficient teamwork, although Shanna Moakler disagreed. Mindy and Rachelle were the pair that was most obviously out of sync, with Mindy being cited for nervousness and Carson saying their suits weren't coordinated. The scores: Moya and Jenileigh were in the lead, followed by Gina/Hollis and Mindy/Rachelle who were tied, and Patty/Laura bringing up the rear. Mindy suddenly collapsed to her knees and was given oxygen. The moment was catching up with her. As she rested backstage, she said she felt hungry (spoken like a true pageant contestant).

The Sincere Sexy Reds were first up in talent, with a reprise of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" with Patty on piano and Laura's love 'em or hate 'em vocals. Incredibly, Laura stopped singing after two lines and said she forgot a line; then she started all over again but faltered on the same line, quavering at the finish. Shanna wondered if the nerves from being last got to both of them, and Carson said poise was lacking. The Daredevil Divas went with Jenileigh's aerial gymnastics specialty again; Moya was a little more involved than the first time they tried it. The Dream Gals sang, a bit of a surprise because their awful harmonizing nearly got them eliminated the first time they did it. This time around was a little better, but still not great -- bottom line is that Gina can't really sing. The judges were fairly kind, though. The Gifted Dolls sucked it up for some swing dancing, with Mindy working past her nerves and recent collapse. A shot of the other teams watching backstage pointedly showed Patty and Laura not applauding. The talent scores: Patty and Laura were last once again, Gina and Hollis were third, Jenileigh and Moya were second, and Mindy and Rachelle got a perfect score and ascended to first place overall.

Backstage, Patty and Laura made excuses to each other. Gina expressed worry she had cost them the win, but Hollis tried to get her focused on the last two events. Mindy and Rachelle were happy but still nervous. Jenileigh was worried about now being a point behind. The Reds were out first again for the evening gowns, and Patty's gown was criticized for being a bit dowdy and lacking charisma. Moya and Jenileigh got generally decent comments, though Jenileigh was told her earrings were a bit much. Gina and Hollis got good marks for teamwork, but Carson thought their gowns were a bit old-fashioned. No one had anything negative to say about Mindy and Rachelle. Jack Wagner announced a twist was coming. Mindy/Rachelle and Jenileigh/Moya tied for first place, leaving the Gifted Dolls one point ahead overall.

Suddenly, the proceedings were interrupted for an appearance of the giant bedazzled scissors -- it was an ambush de-sashing! The Dream Gals had the honors of de-sashing Patty and Laura and tried very hard not to grin. Gina and Hollis were still alive, but now a distant third. Backstage, Laura was disappointed about doing so poorly, but Patty said it had been a good experience overall. Mindy and Rachelle took the interview question first: what is your platform? Rachelle said it was the importance of kidney and organ donation. Both team members had to contribute, and Mindy just threw in a remark before they ran out of time. Wagner asked how much they would be willing to contribute to the cause if they won. Rachelle said she wanted to get her fundraising program off the ground, and Mindy said she still needed to pay bills from her transplant. Gina's and Hollis's platform was teaching the importance of communication, with Hollis going to schools and Gina talking to parents. Hollis and Gina said they would contribute 10% of their winnings toward their goal. Finally, Moya and Jenileigh. Their platform was "If you can dream it, you can achieve it." Jenileigh said she had wanted to do aerials after seeing it in a show, and Moya had told her she could do it if she really worked at it. Asked how much they would contribute towards the cause, Jenileigh said she'd throw all the money in if they won, despite their poverty. Moya agreed: others need it more than us.

The Dream Gals, who I had touted as the likely winners before the first episode and never wavered on, ended up in third place. The winners were then announced: Moya and Jenileigh! They had received a perfect score on their interview. Mindy and Rachelle got a fairly low score, likely because of Mindy's failure to contribute. It was a nice and unexpected win; Moya was the oldest woman in the competition and pageant veteran Jenileigh probably the most impressive single contestant.

American Idol (Fox):

The producers of this show have really changed their emphasis for the auditions this year, with a much higher ratio of good to bad singers. Only 17 people advanced to Hollywood out of the Miami audition, but we saw the majority for at least a little bit. And that's a good thing, since there were several performers who seem likely to be with us for a while, led by Syesha Mercado, who has both the looks and the pipes, as well as the Latin background Idol has been trying to mine for a few years now. Nearly as good was little Ramiele Malubay. A pair of large and in charge ladies, Corliss Smith and Brittany Westcott, charmed the judges and displayed decent singing talent, though Brittany was a bit superior. Former boy bander Robbie Carrico made it through by singing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" boy band-style. A Venezuelan named Ghaleb Emacheh, who said he was 27 and looked 40, was advanced because everyone was feeling punchy. Two no votes both came on auditions of Janis Joplin songs that didn't do enough to showcase what sounded like at least fair ability. Shannon McGough combined startling good looks with a background working in her parents' butcher shop and an ability to belch at will, but the judges weren't impressed. Julie Dubela, a veteran of the ill-fated American Juniors (she's now 16), was way too over-the-top on "Me and Bobby McGee," and the judges seemed to take special delight in shooting her down. [Showbiz Spy]

In Treatment (HBO):

The episode began differently than the first two, by showing Dr. Paul Weston at home and dealing with his young son who was trying to get out of going to school. He had another new patient, a teenage girl named Sophie, who had been referred to Paul via her attorney. Sophie needed a psychiatrist's opinion for the purposes of insurance following an accident (she had casts on both arms). She said she was hit by a car while riding a bike, but she didn't remember much. The insurance company was claiming Sophie deliberately rode into the street.

Sophie recounted something that happened two years before when Paul asked for more details about the accident, but Sophie again insisted she didn't recall much. Sophie was a gymnast, a former U.S. junior champion and would-be Olympian. She said life was great for her, but she didn't want to reminisce. Sophie pressed for an answer on whether Paul could give her the opinion she wanted, but he said it wasn't that easy. Sophie said she should leave, but then suggested he read the police report -- but she didn't want to talk about herself. She got upset with the thought that Paul had talked to her mother and arranged what he would say beforehand. She demanded to leave, and Paul told her she would have to come back at least a few times to make a professional judgment. He read the report while Sophie paced the office. Sophie made some small talk.

Paul noted that the accident could have killed Sophie, and she said that would have solved a lot of problems. Sophie then mentioned that she had been in school with Paul's daughter before. Paul asked Sophie if the social worker that had seen her after the accident had asked her if she thought about death a lot, and then he asked the same thing. Looking for another way through her shell, Paul asked Sophie how she was coping with having her arms out of commission. Paul wondered if Sophie was looking for a reason to get mad at her mother; Sophie thought her mother believed she really was suicidal, due to the pressure of athletic competition. Sophie again said she only needed Paul to tell her she wasn't crazy and not suicidal, for the insurance company.

Paul wondered whom Sophie sought out if she needed someone to talk to someone, and she said she called 411 to get her dad's number, because he moved a lot. But she said her father was the only person who really loved her and believed she wasn't crazy. She then showed Paul a drawing of a mermaid that her gymnastics coach drew on her casts, and she mentioned that her coach also believed her. Paul asked Sophie to write her own assessment of what was in the report, and she said she doubted she could. [TVoholic]

Big Medicine (TLC):

Trinston was a 28 year-old bus driver in Houston who wanted a job that would allow him to be more active, so he had decided to get a gastric bypass. He had lost almost 50 pounds on a liquid diet, although that only dropped him to 536 pounds. He was asked to drop about twenty more pounds. His wife had recently had the gastric bypass also. Trinston would drink two liters of soda a day, and generally had an unhealthy diet. His liquid diet of four shakes a day was quite hard on him. Trinston was suddenly told that his insurance company was demanding the surgery be done very soon, or it wouldn't be covered any more. The thinking was that he was losing weight, so it was worth the risk to do the surgery a little early. A central line was put in and the actual surgery began; when Trinston's heart rate dropped, the anesthesiologist worked to correct that. The surgery ended up going well. Once he was down to 480 pounds (100 pound loss in all), Trinston paid a visit to the fire department, looking into his long-term goal. He had a track record of being a good driver, so he was optimistic about landing a job eventually.

Khalliah was a hospital employee who had the gastric bypass about two years before. Her weight was beginning to rise again; she felt that she was able to eat more than she could right after the surgery. Khalliah thought the fried foods her mother favored didn't help either. The medical types looked into whether she actually did have more room in there, but the x-rays determined things were pretty normal. The determination was made that she needed a new diet first and foremost. She underwent counseling to help her develop better habits. Gary had lost 200 pounds after gastric bypass (from 500), but still had these lumps hanging off his legs. His mother attempted to cook for him in order to help him control his weight.

Gary said he first gained weight as a result of stress coming from attempting to hide his sexuality. He was having trouble losing more weight because the swellings off his knee were preventing him from exercising. The plastic surgeon was concerned about an infection setting in as a result of the excess skin. He was apprehensive prior to the surgery. The doctors had to figure out exactly how to reconfigure the knee skin once the surgery was over. The other doctors marveled at Gary's case and agreed he would feel much better once the bulges were gone. The surgeon worked to make sure he wasn't cutting out blood vessels, and took off about five pounds off each leg. Post-surgery, Gary paid a visit to a clothing store so he could finally get a decent set of pants that would fit on his legs. He was excited about the prospect of further improvement.

Law & Order (NBC):

The detectives found three dead men in an apartment: an apparent gay couple and a man who had been staying with them temporarily. The latter man had a gun in his hand, connoting a murder/suicide. They then discovered that the roommates weren't a couple; only one of the men was gay. The new roommate had been tossed out of his girlfriend's apartment a few weeks before due to heavy drinking. The girlfriend said the gay man, Todd, had bragged about a new guy he called the MVP. The coroner's report found the "suicide" had been staged.

Todd had been shot the most times and was thus assumed to be the real target, so the detectives focused on him first. He was a lawyer who had attended a political fundraiser the previous night. According to Vargas, a man who arranged fundraisers, this particular event was for a state assemblyman called the MVP because he was a swing vote. The legislator, Gilles, denied he was gay, but the detectives got some solid info that he was in the closet. Gilles had a district in Staten Island, but lived in a Manhattan hotel, across the street from a store that was known for men cruising the bathrooms.

The new theory was that Todd and Gilles had fought over the latter casting some anti-gay votes, Gilles then killed Todd to keep his secret safe and his other two roommates when they happened upon the scene. Lupo went on "stall duty" at the store and Gilles was busted when he made a pass with his wide stance. Gilles was confronted with evidence that he gave gifts to Todd and vacationed with him. But he said he was with someone else when Todd was killed, and the alibi checked out. The detectives then looked into Vargas, who put them on the trail of Gilles in the first place, and discovered that a man had been looking for him for allegedly defrauding him on an investment. One of the other disgruntled investors had been Sean, the dead roommate who wasn't gay. Vargas had been using money from investors in a Ponzi scheme, and had contributed some to politicians in order to look important. Vargas's prints were matched to the murder weapon, and it was discovered that he was wanted on an outstanding warrant in Florida.

Victor received bail despite having skipped bail once before, and got all sorts of testimonials from politicians he had dealt with. When he predictably turned up missing, his whereabouts were traced to an apartment he rented, where he was found in an apparent suicide attempt. Vargas recovered and demanded to represent himself in court. His strategy became clear, which was to put politicians on the stand and have them essentially admit that killing Sean helped them too, because it would keep secret the fact that their fundraiser was also a swindler. But one of the politicians, Melanie Carver, cooked something up with McCoy whereby Vargas was taped admitting he hadn't meant to impact her career, that he only wanted to stay close to power. Vargas ended up convicted of all three murders. [TV Bloggin]

UFO Hunters (Sci Fi Channel):

Two weeks before the renowned Roswell incident, there was another sighting in the vicinity of Puget Sound. In October 2007, a new investigation was launched. In 1947, a logger and his sons saw something: six discs appeared overhead. One appeared to malfunction and looked ready to crash. Debris was ejected into the sound, hitting the logger's boat and killing a dog on board. The other discs flew off. Some of the debris was collected, and the incident was reported to police at the time. The UFO hunters said there was a break in the case. The first job was to hopefully find some of the debris at the bottom of the sound, since there was good information on exactly where the boat had been. The hunters did not believe the 1947 case involved aircraft, since they were described as donut-shaped, and aircraft don't usually dump things. The scuba diver picked up some material at the bottom of the sound that looked interesting. A couple of pieces of rock fit the description of black lava-looking material.

The search then moved to the beach, and some items were found that looked related to what was found in the sound. A local researcher said two Air Force officers had been sent to collect the debris at the time of the incident, but their plane crashed twenty minutes into takeoff. A report stated there had been a fire on board the plane prior to it crashing. At the time, there had been a wave of flying saucer sightings all over the country, including in Washington. The team headed out to the site of the 1947 crash with a local archaeologist. Much of the debris had been removed in 1947, and contemporaneous reports suggested the plane was carrying secret material since there was plenty of security at the crash site.

The area was plotted and some soil samples were taken (the local laws prohibited digging). Ground-penetrating radar was used, to see if the UFO material could have gone below the range of metal detectors used in 1947. The grandnephew of one of the dead pilots showed up at the site and told the researchers that the pilot had been involved in counterespionage. One of the men who had seen UFOs at Mount Rainier had been in contact with both the military and the guy from Puget Sound. The debris sample from Puget Sound was tested and found to be igneous rock, and not alien in nature. Tests were also run on the debris collected from the plane crash site, which showed there had been a very hot fire on the plane before it crashed. Could the UFO material have caused the fire? The fire, all agreed, was quite suspicious. [Alan English]