Friends The final six episodes kick off with Phoebe and Mike's wedding. Despite the fact that I was still clinging to the false hope that David would show up and pull a Dustin Hoffman at the last minute, our darling Pheebs was a beautiful bride and it was so satisfying to see her endearing character front and center instead of acting loopy on the sidelines. And although the wedding-day complications were inevitable (Phoebe's incarcerated dad; a blizzard that prevents caterers and guests from arriving), tonight's installment is good example of what the show has been missing in these later seasons: scenes involving the entire cast. My favorite seasons are the early ones, when the gang was always assembled at Monica and Rachel's or gathered at Central Perk. I enjoyed the collective energy they created and fed off of, something that seems to have taken a backseat to the individual plotlines that cropped up and played out. But real people have jobs and families and interests that take up more and more of their time as the years pass and they can't stay the same forever. At least, everyone but Joey.
Survivor: All-Stars In a surprising and truly sad turn of events, Jenna M. drops out of the game to be with her terminally ill mother. Given her mother's failing health, some may question Jenna's motives for participating in this show in the first place, but I dare someone to argue with her reasons for bowing out. (Big Tom, you're a big dope.) Those last few days spent by her mother's side are far more precious than any game-show prize. Finally, a reality-show contestant figures out that life is the ultimate challenge.
All About the Andersons Jenny McCarthy guest-stars as Anthony and Tuga's hot but goofy music teacher. I guess Christina Applegate was busy polishing her Emmy.
The Apprentice Kristi, you have been avenged! That's right, gang. Judas Jessie got the ax tonight in the first ouster I actually cheered. (Everyone knows that Omarosa guarantees conflict, which guarantees viewers, so you might as well get used to her prissy puss.) Not only did Jessie royally louse up her charity-auction pitch to Isaac Mizrahi by talking to him like the 4-year-old she herself acts and sounds like, she also cried during her confessional. Yeah, yeah, I know Kristi boo-hooed after losing last week's competition, but at least she didn't cozy up to another player only to sell them down the river in front of The Donald. As the tearful Phoebe Cates look-alike defended her poor performance, I kept hoping Tom Hanks would appear, grab her by the shoulders and shout, a la A League of Their Own, "There's no crying on Wall Street! There's no crying on Wall Street!" That said, I could kick myself for buying into the NBC hype machine's promise of romance this week. Sure Amy and Nick make an interesting couple: She's bubbly and bright; he's dry and intense. But a late-night conversation about baby names is hardly romantic. Unless psychotic is a synonym for romantic. Finally, I raise the most important question of the night: Where do the contestants get all of their clothes? If we're to follow the assumption that each person only brought one suitcase (everyone who's been kicked out is shown wheeling only one to the curb), how have they been dressing for success these past six weeks without repeating an outfit? And speaking of clothes, did you see the hot legs on Carolyn at the auction?! Who knew?
Extreme Makeover Whoa, Nellie! That ugly duckling Alaskan bartender could now pass for Paige Davis' second cousin which is not a bad thing in my book, considering people have told me I could be Davis' sister. Tonight's installment also explained a curious phenomenon known as the Brazilian butt lift. Contrary to my earlier belief that it's part of supermodel Gisele Bundchen's daily workout, it's actually a surgical procedure where fat is removed from one or several parts of the body and reinserted in one's posterior region to make it shapelier. Kind of like filling a jelly doughnut, which, if you ate enough of them, would probably achieve the same effect with less scarring.
Without a Trace Oy, this episode about the cruelties of growing up was rough to watch, yet I wish it were required viewing for all parents and teachers dealing with budding adolescents. Aside from the girls tying up the missing character (A.I.'s Jake Thomas) and photographing him in his underwear to humiliate him for embarrassing a female classmate, the rest of the events are chillingly accurate. Bullies do exist and social misfits believe that popularity is the only cure for their unhappiness. Kids live in a microcosm, where, because of their natural lack of perspective, the smallest things have the greatest impact and despair can be overwhelming. Parents need to recognize the signs of depression and social anxiety and not be so quick to write it off as growing pains. This kid was lucky that his suicide attempt was thwarted. Many others are not.
PrimeTime Thursday Mercifully, this newsmagazine saves us from celebrity scandals, political pageantry and sensational medical reports to chronicle the engrossing tale of a $100-million diamond heist in Antwerp, Belgium. The investigation leads the police to believe that it was an inside job that took two years to plan and the gems have never been found. Maybe they should ask correspondent Jay Schadler where he got that sparkly diamond earring he's sporting.
ER I take back my earlier complaints to announce that Sam rocks! Not only does she single-handedly smack down a creepy dude who lets his buddies violate his 16-year-old girlfriend, she also finally pays Luka a long-overdue booty call. Yee-haw! Of course, I still don't understand the whole Carter-Kem romance. At least he shaved. He could still stand a decent haircut, though. But the weirdest moment of this better-than-average episode centering on the aftermath of a deadly accident involving a Hummer came during a commercial break, when an ad for said luxury vehicle aired singing its praises. Coincidence? I think not. More like damage control, if you ask me.