The Amazing Race: Family Edition
Although The Amazing Race is one of my favorite shows, I wasn't looking forward to this family edition but when I heard the theme music, I'll admit I jumped up and started dancing around my apartment. This installment doesn't disappoint. With 10 teams of four, there are a lot of people on screen. It's a testament to the producers that after one pit stop I pretty much have all the teams in order. There's a good bunch of eager players starting with the Godlewski sisters, henceforth known as "the Pink Ladies." They are an excitable bunch, squealing with delight in New York City while searching for the town of SoHo. I figured they'd be lightweights, but they were first on the mat and won 20 grand for being so. Nice. Even more rewarding were all the shout-outs to the first season, especially guest participants Kevin and Drew. (Extra points to me for identifying them before they dropped their own names.) Ah, memories. I'm well aware all this nostalgia supports Season 1's DVD release, but I don't care.
Since it's the family edition, I was not surprised to see racers asleep on the job for the first time. Kids you'd expect that including young children would slow a team down. It did for regular folk like the Black family, who was nearly swept downstream to Trenton (yeesh!), but not for the superhuman Gaghan family. These marathoners are pretty gung-ho and look to be in the race for the long haul. Teams traveled from Brooklyn to Amish country in Pennsylvania by way of Washington Crossing. It wasn't hard to predict that the Black family would be the first cut; speed just wasn't their M.O. The Linz family barely missed elimination by pulling a Gretchen-and-Meredith elephant maneuver. Swap out of the buggy, guys! Then there are the Paolos. Let's call them argumentative. This week's best moment was Mama Paolo urging the Revolutionary war reenactor to "speed it up a bit" as he solemnly folded the flag.
By show's end we'd had a whole leg without an airport experience. Guess we're sticking to North America this season, which is fine. It shakes things up and gives us a break from the equalizing effect of group flights. As usual, the race is a thrilling ride, but I hope next season the one I'm going to be on (I say this every year) will be back to globe-trotting, because I plan to dance on the winner's mat. Rhoda Charles
For a second I thought I was watching Desperate Housewives: Here's Cuddy, running around in belly-baring exercise wear, and her Hispanic young handyman, who can't say no to his sexy employer. Yes, I said sexy. Surely you haven't missed Cuddy's transformation? Three weeks ago she was sporting a white ruffly number straight out of a '50s secretarial pool. This week she's a tank top-wearing, nightgown-donning woman. Those writers are planning something. Raise your hand if you're up for a House-Cuddy-Stacy triangle? Yeah, mine's not up, but that doesn't seem to matter, because I see a tangled web on the horizon. Chase said it best: "You two are just too nasty to each other not to have been nasty." You can't beat British logic. Either way, I believe House when he deflects Chase's suspicions with a precious comeback: "Hey, I can still be a jerk to people I haven't slept with. I am that good." I betcha Cuddy will declare some sort of attraction to House, who will be too into Stacy to fulfill Cuddy's fantasies. She in turn will end up enjoying Wilson's bedside manner, leaving House out in the cold. Hold on to your gurneys, it's going to be a bumpy ride! Wow, I just turned that triangle into a square. Somebody stop me! Despite my doomed vision for a Cuddy-House relationship, their chemistry was pretty palpable this week. They bicker like husband and wife already Cuddy: "Are you being intentionally dense?" House: "Huh!" but in the end they still respect and care for each other. Love story aside, it was nice to see Charlie Robinson of Night Court fame in the B-story line on racial politics and healthcare. RC
My Name Is Earl
Today's homework, class, is to look up Kathryn Joosten's résumé on IMDb. You might already know that she just won an Emmy for her guest work as Mrs. McCluskey on Desperate Housewives, and that she was the president's secretary on The West Wing, but damn, this feisty lady gets a lot of work in every show on the tube, and a whole bunch of movies in between. Tonight she's Donnie's mom, the last-minute addition to Earl's list, and she wields a mean large-print Bible. If people keep getting added to that list at this rate, this show's going to have to last longer than Frasier for Earl to get any kind of good karma. That just means more wacky characters for us to enjoy, like crazy-eyed Donnie, who found Jesus while in the slammer for Earl's water-gun holdup of a doughnut shop. He's got a tattoo of Moses parting the Red Sea on his butt, but thankfully, when Earl asks him "What would Jesus do?", Donnie peeks under his shirt and talks to the Jesus crucified on his chest. The ELO soundtrack playing in a montage while Earl and Donnie's mom quit smoking was a special touch. Also, I'm wondering if rights to Betty Boop are easy to come by, 'cause she keeps showing up on all the TVs in this show. I just hope all the fancy guest stars don't relegate vengeful Joy and Crab Man Darnell to running sight gags. They crack me up and more than any of the other characters, they remind me of people I knew growing up in Central Florida but their act could age faster than a chain-smoking Bible thumper whose bumper sticker reads "Jesus is my airbag." Sabrina Rojas Weiss
Are you guys gonna totally make fun of me if I confess how much I'm loving Jim and Pam's tortured nonaffair? Seriously, I just want to eat them both with a spoon. So sweet, so unassuming, so very perfect in a show that's got me gleefully cringing the other 21 and a half minutes. Let's not go and mess it up by actually letting these kids get together, shall we? I wonder if series writer and costar B.J. Novak's accepting suggestions over at his TVGuide.com blog Chana Shwadlenak
Commander in Chief
Hey, I'm all about daring to imagine a world in which a woman can become president. But do we really want her to take the office as the result of an elaborately rhetorical double-dog dare? Come on, Donald Sutherland, surely you must have seen enough Looney Tunes in your day to know a little something about reverse psychology: Wabbit season! Duck season! Blam! And you're left with a face full of gunpowder, wearing your nose as a hat. And if you're not gonna follow the teachings of His Most Honorable Bugs Bunny, at least remember who you're dealing with they told Geena Davis "girls can't play baseball," and she like, took over the whole league.
So as the title pretty much assures us, Mackenzie Allen does indeed take the oath and become the ruler of the free world. She also manages to rescue a Nigerian woman from certain death at the hands of her own government, wow a joint session of Congress with an I'm-ad-libbing-because-they-sabotaged-the-prompter address to the nation, and even put in a little June Cleaver face-time with her three adorable children. (Oh, and can we please talk about the adorable children for a second? Was anybody else completely skeeved out that first son Horace turns out to be baby-faced superhottie Matt from Manhunt: The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model? Hey, don't judge me.) And speaking of the family angle, maybe the yummiest part of the whole premise is the delicate power struggle between Mac and her chief of staff-turned-first gentleman hubby. I'm not sure how many who-wears-the-pants? discussions we can squeeze out of this thing, but as long as we get to keep on watching Kyle Secor tackle his FLOTUS duties from his pretty pink office, I'm game.
So now all the series premiere pomp and circumstance is out of the way let's see some actual governing next week, huh? Woo hoo! LadyPrez '05! Come on, people, I'm a patriot first, a couch potato second. OK, whatever... it's a tie. CS