After a few weeks where there was hardly anything worth watching, this past weekend was like eating a whole cheesecake coming off a long fast. We had four brand new shows, season premieres of two cable veterans, and the last episode, for now, of a top ten show. Plus, Carson Kressley in the same room with a naked woman! Let's get right to it.
Friday Night Lights:
Tim was still living with the Taylors to the pleasure of Shelly (it's unclear why she's still there), who flirted up a storm with him. While Tim and Julie were on a shopping errand, a tornado blew through town. The high school in nearby Laribee was even more damaged, and its football team was sent over to Dillon temporarily for school and for practice, a delicate situation considering the two schools were rivals. The Laribee coach threw fuel on the fire with his dismissive remarks about Dillon's facilities. Tami suggested to Eric that it might be dangerous to have Tim in the house with their teenage daughter. Lila's mother came by to say she was engaged; when Lila told Buddy the news, he seethed. Tyra shrugged off Landry's public display of affection in the school cafeteria. When Julie asked Tyra if it was true she was dating Landry, she had trouble admitting she liked him.
The Dillon players arrived in the locker room to find things their possessions ransacked, but Taylor stopped their attempt at revenge while letting the Laribee coach know it could not happen again. Landry officially asked Tyra to the formal, but she told him she was going with somebody else. Buddy admitted to Taylor he was upset about Pam getting remarried, and vowed to get her back. Julie happened to see Matt and Carlotta smooching in his car. Buddy's pleas to Pam to come back to him fell on deaf ears. Landry was teased by the other players about losing Tyra to some guy from Laribee; when Landry went over to confront the Laribee table in the cafeteria, all hell broke loose. Shelly bought Tim a shirt as a present; Tami told her she was being "inappropriate" and looked ridiculous flirting with a teenager.
Another locker room confrontation resulted in the opposing team's coach accosting Tim; Taylor responded by slamming the coach against the wall and telling him never to touch one of his players again. Julie and Landry commiserated over past relationships. Landry said he felt like giving up on love, but then ran into Tyra at the formal, as she was suffering through a lousy date. Tim stepped in when a guy was trying to get a tipsy Julie even more drunk. Tim tried to sneak her into the house and put her to bed without her parents realizing the shape she was in, but Taylor walked in on the scene and threw Tim out of his house, not bothering to listen to Tim try to explain the misunderstanding. [Cultural Learnings]
32-year-old Layla was a very pretty woman who hated her body, due to some excess pounds. Carson Kressley's role was to get her to accept her body for what it is, and feel confident enough to flaunt it. She had been trying to lose weight in vain for 20 years, and regretted the waste of time. Carson got her to undress in front of a full-length mirror. Even without body image issues, it's awfully brave for anyone to spend this much time on television in their underwear as Layla did in this half-hour. Carson stressed the parts that were good (skin, lower legs) and as for the parts that weren't (thighs, hips, and abdomen), he suggested her self-image was most of the problem. Carson asked her to compare herself to some other women and showed that she believed herself to be bigger than she really was. He then showed Layla a tape showing people talking about her body, and most of them thought she was more than acceptable.
Layla saw tape of the same woman wearing different clothes, looking sexier in sexy clothes and dumpy in clothes that hid her body. Layla got advice on new underwear and was urged to buy a new size of bra. She admitted the new undergarments made her feel sexy. She then went to get some new clothes that worked to flatter the parts of her body that she wanted to emphasize. Layla then got a nice spa treatment and saw a hairdresser to get an updated style, in preparation for a photo shoot. Carson told her that there was one more step he wanted her to take: do the photo shoot nude. Layla loved the photo shoot (we saw as much as you could show on Lifetime), and she said it was fun and made her feel sexy. Her photo was displayed on an outdoor video screen, and Layla asked passersby if she looked good naked. Layla said this was the beginning of a new path for her: no more dieting or feeling bad about her body. [Fashionable Nerd]
We were told that this competition was the beginning of the reinventing of Miss America, in which the pageant girls would have to forget everything they had learned. After four weeks, three women would win $10,000. Host Michael Urie introduced himself, and spent the hour proving that his flamboyance on Ugly Betty doesn't just come from the script. The girls saw a film showing man-on-the-street reactions to the idea of Miss America, and the consensus was that the pageant had gotten too canned and was no longer a big deal. Urie told them that people wanted to get to know their Miss America: she had to be "stylish and relatable."
Urie introduced the advisory board, whose opinions would go towards placing the women in order for the $10,000 prizes: a "celebrity stylist," a photographer, and a woman from Us Weekly magazine. The first challenge was a team event, though the fact that it was athletic didn't stop some of the women from getting heavily made up beforehand. The challenge tested endurance and stamina: the women had to navigate hurdles, construct a puzzle made up of U.S. states, collect flags representing their states, and run to the finish line. The winners would get first dibs on showers, which is a big deal in a cramped house. The team representing states that had only ever had a second-place finish in Miss America history won the challenge. Miss Pennsylvania couldn't find her state flag, which set back her team.
The next challenge was a dinner party with a "special guest" in attendance; the girls were again asked to keep the new image of Miss America in mind. Urie said the special guest was "controversy" -- the girls had to open envelopes and discuss the issues which were mentioned within. Most of the contestants came across as quite old-fashioned, as if we couldn't have guessed that already. The advisory board then hashed things out, and came up with a tentative top three of Miss Utah, Miss South Carolina, and the flag-forgetting Miss Pennsylvania. In the tentative bottom three were Miss Idaho (docked for looking like a "senator's wife"), Miss Oklahoma (trying too hard to live up to past Miss Americas from her state), and Miss Vermont (seeming not to care enough). Interestingly, Miss Vermont was the one woman who was shown to have relatively liberal social attitudes, so if they're trying to change the pageant's image, they're off to an ironic start. [That Is Such]
The four remaining teams traveled from Mumbai to Osaka. Rachel and TK, who finished first last time around, left on an earlier flight than the others, but were unaware their flight had two stops while the later flight out of Mumbai had only one. Therefore, we spent almost the whole episode with Nate/Jennifer, Ronald/Christina, and Nicolas/Donald in Osaka. The racers got a clue at a castle and then embarked on a Roadblock, which required a team member to drive five miles through Osaka streets in a cab. This task specified that the racers couldn't drag a local along to help, usually a common practice on the show. Christina benefited from her rudimentary Japanese skills and handled the driving for her pair.
Another clue at a temple gave the Detour choice: find the one real flower in a shop filled with artificial flowers, using only your sense of smell; or use a cell phone to control a robotic soccer player until each player scored a goal (only in Japan). Ronald and Christina won the leg. TK's and Rachel's tasks in Osaka were dispensed with in the last couple of minutes, but since they didn't get waved to the finish line as usually happens when a team is hopelessly behind, it was easy to guess it was a non-elimination round. They're still alive, albeit three hours behind everyone else. It sounds bad for TK and Rachel, but there could be a chance to make up the gap in an airport. [Buntsign]
HBO's pride and joy (at least critically) began its final season by pounding home the message that Baltimore is going broke and getting worse than ever. A year or so after the end of season four, the major crimes unit continued its futile surveillance of Marlo's crew. It didn't help that Marlo not only knew he was being watched, but knew exactly where the police were stationed. Good work is still being done, as Bunk engineered a phony polygraph test to nail a low level hood. But the newly promoted Carver had to deal with cops that not only weren't getting promised raises, but weren't being paid at all.
Mayor Carcetti was still insisting crime be cut even as he had to abandon his pay raise promises to deal with the schools. The Major Crimes Unit took the hit, as it was disbanded and its members sent to other duties, despite the failure to solve the case of the 22 murders. McNulty reacted to the disappointment by falling off the wagon. We also met the staff of the Baltimore Sun, which will apparently become intertwined with the older characters as the season proceeds. Newsroom leaders such as Gus, the city editor (Clark Johnson, and man is it good to see him again) dealt with their own budget and personnel shortages and falling morale, as well as with corporate types who wanted their favorites protected and gave short shrift to stories that needed serious investigating. The paper uncovered a connection between the city council president and Fat Face Rick, so this bears watching. [Thru The Wire]
Lynette and her friends waited for the house that was destroyed in the tornado to be searched, and to everyone's joy her entire family made it out alive, though Ida didn't make it. Lynette's son revealed that Ida had sacrificed herself for the kids, letting them take safe cover. Bree and Orson moved in with Susan while their house was being rebuilt, which Susan regretted immediately. While Gabrielle waited for Victor's funeral, her father-in-law let it slip that she would inherit nothing, since he controlled the family money and knew she had cheated on Victor with Carlos. Bree learned that her contractor was backing out of the job due to a broken heart, but her housekeeping was so stellar that Susan and Julie were not minding so much. Gabrielle told the hospitalized Carlos that the papers regarding his offshore accounts were lost in the fight with Edie and subsequent tornado. The papers couldn't be replaced because Carlos's accountant was another casualty of the tornado, and Gabrielle's attempt to crash the wake and search his files went awry.
Angered that Ida's relatives were so disrespectful of her wishes, Lynette swapped her ashes with vacuum cleaner debris. Bree tried to get the contractor's mind back on love, and thus on work, by trying to set him up with Andrew. Katherine threw Adam out of the house over his dalliance with the wacko and now-deceased Sylvia. Andrew realized Bree was trying to set him up with the contractor in order to get her house fixed, and said he'd do it for a flat screen TV. Susan was so worried about Bree leaving that she sabotaged the plan by hinting to the contractor that Andrew was all wrong for him. She told Bree that her housekeeping was helping to hold her together in a tough time, which charmed Bree.
Lynette broke into the park where Ida had wanted her ashes scattered, only to get busted by security. Gabrielle told Carlos that the accountant's widow had shredded his offshore records; Carlos failed to tell her that he was now blind. While packing to leave, Adam found the note that Aunt Lily had tried to scribble before she died, and told Katherine he was leaving her and not the other way around. Katherine's attempt to destroy the note was unsuccessful, as her daughter pulled the pieces of it out of the ashes and put it together. What was in that note? Looks like we'll get the answer no earlier than September since there are no more new episodes for now. [Tapeworthy]
And here is this show, at last! One minute into the episode, Mia (Lucy Liu) accepted a proposal from her boyfriend Jack: yet, when they got back to the office where they both work, they were told that one of them would be made publisher of their magazine by the end of the week. Mia called her girlfriends together to give them the news: Juliet (Miranda Otto), a hotel executive with a seemingly happy marriage; Caitlin (Bonnie Somerville), a fashion marketing executive with boyfriend problems; and Zoe (Frances O'Connor), a mergers and acquisitions whiz who's trying to hang onto a nanny in a competitive world.
Jack told Mia he'd be OK with it if she got the job, but in the meantime their competition heated up. Caitlin met with a female ad rep and was thrown for a loop to the point that she felt she might be gay. Zoe spotted Juliet's husband Davis smooching on the street with Cilla Gray, who seemed to have a vaguely antagonistic relationship with the "Mafia" for unexplained reasons. Caitlin had a sort-of date with the ad rep that went extremely well. Zoe had her hands full with a willful assistant and an equally bratty new nanny. Mia outmaneuvered Jack to get some face time with a key potential new client. Zoe's nanny situation blew up in the middle of a key meeting, forcing her to take the kids at an awkward time.
The friends told Juliet about Davis and Cilla, only to find her unsurprised. She said she knew Davis cheated frequently, but that she would rather have an imperfect marriage than lead the lonely life of a female executive. Later, at an event honoring her, Juliet informed Davis that she would have an affair herself, at which point they would have a clean slate. Zoe found out her husband got a major out-of-town job. Mia was told she got the publisher's job, with predictable effects on Jack, who congratulated her one minute and broke up with her the next. Caitlin used her influence with her co-op board to gain some revenge on Cilla on behalf of all of them. Verdict after one episode: I'm a little concerned that the pilot spent most of its time separating its female leads from the men in their lives to various degrees, which makes it seem a bit too much like that other four-woman show from the recent past. [Inter Alia]
Iron Chef America:
This was a big one, folks: "Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver faced off against Mario Batali. It was strange that this high-profile match up had Julie Chen as one of the judges considering that 1.) she's not a food expert and 2.) she looks like she eats maybe one meal a week. The secret ingredient was cobia, a fish that hopefully is better to eat than it is to look at. Oliver had some organization problems and was so unfamiliar with cobia he didn't realize it needed to be scaled, but pulled it together with the help of his national staple, a fish and chips recipe (served to the judges on newspaper). But Batali is made for the Iron Chef format, and he ended up taking the victory with his superior presentation and slightly better taste. [Make See Eat Do]
The L Word:
Tina and Bette undertook preschool interviews for their daughter, although they left out the part about them being exes. Helena was in jail for stealing from Catherine, and hated everything about the experience, from the horrid food to her scary cell mate who spoke few words. Phyllis appeared on Alice's podcast as her coming out experience continued and she learned more of the lesbian lingo. Max discussed why he had decided not to go through with the female-to-male surgery.
Shane looked forward to getting a place with Paige, but those plans were changed dramatically when Paige caught Shane testing out one of the apartment bedrooms with another woman. Tasha prepared to head to Iraq. Alice fretted about her well-being as she continued to pay attention to violent Iraq news. Tina found that Jenny had apparently talked her way into a position of influence with a new moneyman and had rewritten a script for Lez Girls, and was even in line to direct. Her new power turned Jenny into more of a diva than ever, as she treated an assistant like garbage. When Tina tried to give Jenny a little subtle advice on the script, Jenny insulted her by saying she didn't need to hear the opinion of a non-writer.
At a party to commemorate Phyllis's entry into the community, Shane ran into Paige, who said she wished she could live with Shane's womanizing. Phyllis wondered if she was rushing into things with Joyce the way she did with her husband. Jodi chided Bette her for changing some things around in the apartment in her absence; saying she wanted to take control, Jodi put a blindfold on Bette so she would miss a sense as well. Shane's business Wax caught on fire in what was termed an obvious case of arson, but she told investigators she didn't know who might have it in for her. Tasha surprised Alice at home, but did not say if she was AWOL or why she hadn't shipped out. I'm curious to know what fans think of Jenny: she's obviously excellent comic relief, but perhaps is becoming a bit too cartoonish? She has to be based on someone specific. [My So Called Blog]