Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back
Joe's producers have quite a sadistic streak. I had guessed that maybe they'd send Rocky's and Nathan's ex-girlfriends to talk to Anna, but sending her mother to talk to them? Cruel genius. And mom Halina described the result so eloquently: "There is some discomfort in this talking." Ole Rocky's pat "dreamer" answers (garr! Now the very word makes me want to stick pineapples in my ears!) don't work so well on Mama. Especially when she skipped the small talk and asked "Have you ever cheated?" No romantic waterfall can save you now, soap boy. (BTW, what the &!#@ does "With passion comes chance" mean?!?) Of course, mild-mannered Nathan aced this tricky task. Hard to imagine him in the Air Force. After their final dates, however, I really thought Anna would pick the guy who made her heart pound over the one who pleased her mom. Then again, I get the feeling she's made that choice before and has been burned by one too many pretty boys. A qualified victory for the Joes! It's interesting that after all their tricks and twists, the producers let Anna say goodbye to Rocky without Nathan looking on. Rocky tried sooo hard to cry in front of her, but he just couldn't work up those acting skills until he was in the truck which kinda looked to me like some sort of POW-transport vehicle. Choosing the cupcake over the beefcake (Nathan's excellent description, not mine!) means Anna has little to lose. She knows they'll at least have fun together, and if things don't work out, she's not too emotionally invested in the outcome. Still, how awkward would it be to go on a romantic cruise for the third date? Reminds me of those dreams I have where I forget who my husband is.

PS. Are those reality-TV writers still fighting for better contracts? 'Cause this crew definitely earned their keep with the happily-ever-after montage naming Carson and Mike the hottest couple, meanly poking fun at teary Josh A. and giving Rocky the Days of our Lives audition he deserves.   SRW

R U the Girl with T-Boz and Chilli
After I got over the initial confusion of whether or not this show was a search for a new member of TLC to replace the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, I actually kind of liked it. For the record, the "winner" gets to record one song and go on stage with them at one event a little misleading, especially in the summer of Rock Star: INXS, but I guess either way it will be a good opportunity for some aspiring singer-dancer to get some kind of a break into the music industry. I mean, T-Boz and Chilli repeatedly mention that TLC was the biggest girl group of all time, which may be true, but how very Trumpian to keep bringin' it up. On another good note, the contestants have been somewhat prescreened, so it isn't about embarrassing the untalented  though Brandi might have made it through on her dancing skills alone and not on her vocal abilities. Phew. I had to cover my ears. Alju is my favorite of the New York auditioners. She messed up her intro, but she's got a funky style, a good voice and she's nice to her momma. But I would probably watch this show if it was just "Hangin' with T-Boz and Chilli."  When the two longtime pals hang out and eat or go to FAO Schwartz, it gives this somewhat-average reality series a little somethin' somethin' special. Which more than makes up for the obviously staged "ambushes." Anyway, I might keep watching just to find out how Chilli stays so skinny. She seems to talk about eating all the time. Oh, and how could anyone not get a kick out of them tormenting the waiter at Ruby Foo's?  AC

Over There

Who knew that an Iraqi could walk without a torso? Granted, the insurgent's legs didn't get very far without the rest of his body but still it's a first for TV. Unlike previous war dramas (e.g., Combat, M*A*S*H), Over There explores a conflict that's still unresolved, and that alone qualifies Steven Bochco's series as one of the most provocative experiments in TV history (I'd love to see how it went over in the Oval Office). Politics aside, these boys and girls were caught in some serious s--- last night. No wonder Erik Palladino's Sgt. Scream is in a fury. First his tour of duty is extended, then he's stuck with a bunch of combat "virgins." As machine-gun bullets kick up the sand around his greenhorns (four men, two women), one of them Smoke brags he's not afraid because a) he grew up in a "combat zone" and b) he's stoned. Scream, whose forte is yelling, isnt impressed. "If a mortar lands on your head they won't find enough of you to fill a condom. Now shaddap!" For that retort alone, Palladino deserves some recognition. Clearly, Scream's sands of Iraq are a far cry from John Wayne's Sands of Iwo Jima. The ensuing firefight at the mosque wasn't glorious because the Americans behaved ignobly, but because it was a terrifying waste of humanity. Dim's point about the honor of putting one's life and morals at risk to achieve (hopefully) a greater good is well taken, even though Bo wound up screaming on a desert road with his leg blown off after his truck ran over a land mine. Will he recover? Will Iraq? Will America? That's up to the future. For now, I'm digging in alongside my new comrades. I might even buy that Delta Force: Black Hawk Down video game that FX advertised (twice) during the broadcast. Then I can pretend I'm in hell, too.   G. J. Donnelly