American Ingenuity: Jimmy Kimmel's Dark Room, a Record-Breaker at Wimbledon and a World Cup Stunner
Jimmy Kimmel, Landon Donovan
We're no xenophobes, but television had us feeling rather patriotic this week. Treme made us bow our heads for the Louisiana bayou. Top Chef aimed at improving our kids' school lunches. American John Isner triumphed in a record-breaking Wimbledon match. Jimmy Kimmel made lemonade out of a lemon-y electrical problem. And the U.S. World Cup team's last-minute victory had us waving a giant foam finger that says "We're No. 1." — tastefully, of course. Welcome to Top Moments: American Ingenuity Edition.
9. Best Twist Ending: Futurama is back on Comedy Central, and things are pretty much status quo — except that Leela and Fry are both dead. But don't worry, they've been reanimated as robots implanted with their human memories and, um, Dr. Farnsworth also reanimated their human corpses. So there's two of each of them now. Double the fun!
8. Best Flashback: The season finale of Treme shows us the hours just before Katrina struck New Orleans. Though the season has painstakingly cataloged the damage, the flashback offers a more vivid portrait of what was lost: Sonny and Annie were once happy together; Antoine wasn't always living hand-to-mouth, gig-to-gig. Plus: We see both Creighton and Daymo, Ladonna's brother, one last time, living and loving their families.
7. Worst Family Values: A school lunch challenge inspires a particularly contentious Top Chef's judges' table. Among the greatest culinary sins: Jacqueline adds two pounds of sugar to a "healthy" banana pudding when it starts tasting starchy. Angelo (perhaps intentionally) creates a peanut butter-and-celery dessert almost completely devoid of any nutritional value. And Amanda braises chicken thighs in a sherry jus. Because kids love sherry jus!
6. Best Surprise: Danielle Staub shocked Real Housewives fans when she performed her new single, titled "Real Close", on Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live — and it wasn't that bad! Of course, after LuAnn de Lesseps' Autotune-heavy "Money Can't Buy You Class" and Kim Zolciak's "Tardy for the Party," the bar wasn't high.
5. Most Sensitive Portrayal of Death: We knew it was coming, but we didn't expect the portrayal of Capt. Phil Harris' death on Deadliest Catch to be so poignant. When Phil doesn't answer his phone, a crewman enters the captain's quarters — where the cameras have captured the familiar space uncharacteristically empty — to find Harris face down on the floor. When paramedics are unable to get Harris to smile, it becomes clear that he has just had the stroke that we at home know will eventually kill him. The Discovery Channel reality show manages to present the tragedy without exploiting it.
4. Longest Tennis Match Ever (really): In a three-day, 11-hour-and-five-minute grudge match that was equal parts impressive and ludicrous, American John Isner defeated Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 70-68 (yes, you read that right) at Wimbledon. The first-round match-up destroyed a slew of records, including the longest match in tennis history, the most games in a set (138), the most games in a match (183), the most aces in a match (112 for Isner; Mahut fired 103) and the longest set (the fifth lasted 8 hours, 11 minutes). But perhaps most remarkably, there was no bathroom break until the seven-hour mark, when the score was tied at 58-all. For all the exertion, both athletes honored the sport's tradition of gentility by offering generous praise for one another. (On Friday, Isner lost to Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker — in straight sets lasting just an hour and 14 minutes total.)
3. Best Send-Off: Just a week after his ill-fated (but utterly hilarious) decision to get a tattoo for Ali on The Bachelorette, Kasey unveils his "love shield" in Iceland. "Your mom's going to kill you!" Ali says awkwardly. (In other words, "I don't care, but maybe your mom will.") Ultimately, she gives the final rose to Justin, hops into a helicopter and leaves Kasey standing alone on a glacier. That's cold.
2. Best Problem-Solving: No mere power outage can stop Jimmy Kimmel from splitting America's sides. When the funnyman was left with a full studio and a serious electrical problem on Tuesday, he improvised by recording the entire hour on a MacBook's webcam. The quality is a little Blair Witch, but you have to give him props for his MacGyver-like ingenuity.
1. Best GO-O-O-AL!: After a bevy of missed opportunities and a disallowed goal, the United States was on the brink of elimination from the World Cup in a must-win game against Algeria. But in true never-say-die and better-late-than-never fashion, Landon Donovan delivered one of the most clutch finishes in U.S. soccer history, slotting in a rebound off Algeria goalkeeper Rais Bolhi in the stoppage time (91st minute). The goal secured the Americans a spot in the round of 16 against Ghana as it won its group for the first time since 1930.