Super Mario, Sarah Palin, Mark-Paul Gosselaar
With summer a week away, it's time for play. This week some Top Chefs had a collegial competition, Roger Federer hit a career milestone and a super plumber showed how deep he's plunged into our psyches. The week's biggest milestone was the playful return of one of our best Friends Forever. Welcome to Top Moments, fun and games edition.
8. Best Excuse for the Freshman 15: We expected nothing but clever techniques and mouth-watering dishes from the world-renowned cheftestants of Top Chef Masters, but Chef Hubert Keller went above and beyond our expectations in his delicious revamp of a college staple. Using a dorm room shower, he cools his cooked pasta and reheats it to create gourmet mac and cheese — with prawns.
7. Wildest Pitches: David Letterman offers a semi-apology to try to end the Palin family's reaction to his jokes about the Alaska governor visiting New York City — including one about their daughter getting "knocked up by Alex Rodriguez," at a Yankees game. The Palins say the joke referred to "raping" their 14-year-old daughter. But Letterman says he was joking about their 18-year-old — who, he adds, "was knocked up" — and that he wasn't talking about sexual assault. Conspicuously silent is the person who should be most offended: Alex Rodriguez. (Check out our poll on whether Lettermen went over the line.)
6. Best Twist: We get a whole new take on pill-popping, sex-having, rule-bending Nurse Jackie when he learn at the end of the premiere that she's married with two small children. Yes, Mad Men's first episode ended with the same reveal about Don Draper. But the changed gender dynamic keeps this turn vibrant. (Just don't let Jackie turn out to be Dick Whitman.)
5. Worst Answer: Asking New York Times employees why the paper only offers "aged news," the Daily Show's Jason Jones holds up a copy of the paper and challenges an editor, "Give me one thing in there that happened today." The editor fumbles: "But, um, nothing here happened today. But I can give you several things that didn't happen yesterday." What? Why not mention the Times' fine website, wealth of analysis, and the fact that no one has relied on newspapers for breaking news since the invention of radio?
4. French (or Spanish?) Invasion Award: Roger Federer had the perfect storm needed to win his first French Open: He carried a pristine 9-0 record over finalist Robin Soderling, the Cinderella Swede who eliminated Federer's chief nemesis and four-time defending champ, Spain's Rafael Nadal. But the final is injected with a bolt of uncertainty when a man, draped in a Barcelona soccer flag, runs onto the court and attempts to put a beret on the masterful Swiss' head. The man gets caught by security, while Federer goes on to complete a career grand slam and tie Pete Sampras' record of 14 majors. But the conspiracy theorists in us have to ask: Did Nadal hire the guy to throw Federer off his game?
3. Best Tribute: After the SeriousLunch blog points out that Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show backdrop seems to be made up of Super Mario scenes, O'Brien fesses up by bringing the backdrop to glorious, toadstool-hopping life. Even better, Nintendo is cool with O'Brien borrowing their scenes. Proving once again the old hip-hop adage: Game recognizes game.
2. Best Goodbye: In an appearance already scheduled to air before David Carradine's death, Mental features him as a man driven into catatonia by incredible grief. Is the timing some grand coincidence? No: It's a testament to how much Carradine worked, through career highs and lows, not only in the martial arts films for which he was best-known, but also in small, subtle roles like this one.
1. Dream Guest: Saved by the Bell star — and real person — Zack Morris stops by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to talk about his new show, Raising the Bar. It turns out Morris has been working under an assumed name for years: "After school I became an actor. I had to change my name to Mark-Paul Gosselaar because there was already a Zack Morris in SAG." Sporting high tops, rolled up jeans, and frosted blond hair, Preppie still talks to the camera, freezes time, and — in case any doubts remain about his identity — carries a giant cordless phone. Just to make sure none of our fantasies remain unfulfilled, he then performs "Friends Forever" with The Roots.
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