Shannen Doherty arrives at the Grand Waimea and wastes no time paying homage to the network and series that made her infamous. When her character, Alexandra, is asked how she likes Hawaii, she smirkingly replies, "Beats the hell out of Beverly Hills." That's right, baby, the bitch is back! (Her second-best line came when some obnoxious kids were running around her table: "Do something or I will." Admit it, you know you've wanted to say that to inattentive parents at least once in your life.) And I knew, knew, knew that she was in cahoots with Tessa. That single tear running down her cheek when she was baring her soul to newfound half sister (or is she?) Nicole was a dead giveaway.
Over on CBS, another familiar face pops up, with far less satisfying results. Jason Alexander's back in this painfully unfunny comedy about a sports talk-show host who begins writing a newspaper column about life and ends up embarrassing his wife and kids with his syndicated chronicles of their everyday exploits. Whether or not you believe in the Seinfeld curse that has plagued all of its former stars except its namesake, sometimes actors are destined — or doomed — to play the same kinds of parts throughout their careers. And what we basically have here is a kinder, gentler George Costanza. He's somewhat self-absorbed. He's mildly neurotic. He's kinda whiny. And he yells. A lot. Usually out of frustration with his equally contentious teenage daughter, who yells right back at Dear Old Dad, something that I've noticed more and more in "family" sitcoms over the years. Since when were kids given the green light to fight with their folks? And why is it funny? I don't think I ever raised my voice to my mother, much less had a screaming match with her. I slammed my door once and my mom opened it and stood in the doorway, screwdriver in hand, and told me that the next time I slammed it would be the last time I ever did so.
Nobody does the geeky-sleazeball thing better than Jon Lovitz. He may call Mary's breasts "the twins" and suggest to Nessa that she let him watch her fool around with her girlfriend after she tells him she's a lesbian, but you know he's as harmless as Andrew Dice Clay turned out to be in Casual Sex? and I, personally, can't resist hearing him implore a la one of his SNL characters, "I just wanna be loved — is that so wrong?!"
Everybody Loves Raymond
Oh, come on. Are we really supposed to believe that after all these years of Marie's constant emotional abuse, everybody — especially perpetually belittled daughter-in-law Debra — suddenly loves her and is upset that she and Frank are moving to a retirement community? Please. If so, that just confirms my belief that this is the most dysfunctional family on TV since the Bunkers. And that might be OK if it weren't for the fact that everybody still seems to love this tired old warhorse while Arrested Development, to quote Dolly Parton in 9 to 5, has been treated "like a bastard at a family reunion" by viewers thus far.
Oh, look. There's Apprentice cuckoo-bird Omatrocious playing a jealous lesbian who keeps chasing Joan around because she thinks Joan's after her girlfriend. If only Joan had a chunk of cee-ment to chuck at her....
Two and a Half Men
Guest stars Sean Penn, Elvis Costello and Harry Dean Stanton — Pretty in Pink alert! — are hilarious as members of Charlie's mens' support group. All playing scruffy versions of themselves, the guys sit around smoking cigars, drinking scotch and talking about their feelings. Turns out Penn is feeling older because sometimes when he's in bed with his beautiful wife, he just wants "to finish my Corn Pops and go to sleep," while Costello has panic attacks he describes as "free-floating anxiety and a feeling of impending doom." And Stanton is the sage of the group, saying to Charlie when he complains about Ducky, er, Alan: "Let me tell you something about the word 'relevant.' The root of relevant is... 'rel,' which is also the root of relative. Your brother is your relative, ergo your brother is relevant. Another 'rel' word is relapse, but I'll wait my turn."
But yuks aside, it's also an episode in which we get a glimpse at why Charlie is so tough on Alan: He's jealous of the attention his younger brother got when they were little. When Charlie finally makes this admission and demands that the group accept Alan, Alan suddenly finds some and asks Charlie where his support has been for the past 35 years. The boys share a surprising hug, punctuated by the not-so-surprising wedgie perpetrated by Charlie.
I knew it was coming and I still let out a yelp when Speedle (Rory Cochrane) was fatally shot in a jewelry-store gunfight. Despite all the hoopla surrounding George Eads and Jorja Fox's firings and rehirings this summer, it's a Miami CSI who, I believe, is the franchise's first main character to fall in the line of duty. It was a quietly powerful episode that illuminated the team members' strong bonds with each other, especially those of ballistics expert Calleigh, who decided to document Speedle's poor gun maintenance as weapons malfunction; and those of Horatio, who allowed his human side to shine through as he held his dying protege and when he comforted Calleigh after she delivered her firearms report to him before submitting it to Internal Affairs.
Although I am more familiar with the original CSI because it airs on Thursdays, I have to say that I'm intrigued (and pleased) by this spin-off and its players. Stilted speech pattern aside, there's something undeniably compelling about David Caruso's ticking time-bomb Horatio, something that demands, even expects, your attention, and that William Petersen's reflective Grissom just doesn't possess.
Star Wars Trilogy on DVD Commercial
Note to self: Best Buy opens at 10 am.