Who says TV's not a great teaching tool? Here are a few things I learned tonight.
Dinner for Five
Lesson 1: Vince Vaughn is one crazy interrogator.
In 45 frighteningly hilarious seconds, the Old School star went from friend to foe and brow-beat a nervous-smoking Rory Cochrane of CSI: Miami into telling a true-but-really-uncomfortable story about the time he went to live with a Mexican guy he met in a phone booth. "Didn't you, when you first got here, move in with some family you met in a phone booth?" Vaughn grilled. "Isn't that true? It's true! Isn't it?" It was brutal and cruel and funny as all get-up. Dark minutes like that make me like this show, even though they never talk about the food which really, by the way, annoys me.
Lesson 2: Don't trust reality show producers.
I can't be sure, but I think Fear Factor-types are trying to make female contestants' tops fall off. Must be. Why else would they hang bikini-clad women from a helicopter by their ankles and dunk them repeatedly into a lake?
Lesson 3: A fashion line does not make you fashionable.
Eve, girl, your clothing line may be called Fetish, but that doesn't mean you have to dress like you're headed to a Fetish ball. Seriously.
Lesson 4: American viewers will let you down every time.
Last week this show pulled in lower ratings than 2002 David E. Kelley dud girls' club. Now, thanks to all the people who didn't watch, Fox could pull a My So-Called Life and yank the show, leaving crucial stories dangling. I can't handle another Brian Krakow sitting outside on his bike. Heregowithertotherefore, I'm taking my friend Nerina's advice and, as she says, "I'm trying not to get too attached."
Lesson 5: Some things aren't worth the wait.
Case in point: I knew the minute a Hawaii-bound Big Ed told Danny "You've got it all covered," that he, well, didn't.
Lesson 6: Some guys actually do dream of having kids.
Especially part-time high school guidance counselors and sensitive L.A. lawyers. (More on that later.) That's what makes tonight's calamity at the coal mine all the more tragic. Just when Counselor Beels's wife Ellie conceded that spending eight hours a day inhaling toxic fumes in a mine perhaps isn't the healthiest thing for a mother-trying-to-be, there's an explosion. The elevator Ellie's riding in crashes. And she's injured along with James Earl Jones and Beau Bridges. Oh, drama! Can Dr. Abbott save them all? Of course he can.
Oh, by the way. The former Mr. Darth Vader guest starred as Everwood's resident jazz musician aka the town's other emasculated, wise, old black man — who's all too eager to school young Ephram in the intricacies of life. But don't get me started on that.
Lesson 7: You can only push a man so far.
Afraid that this might be his "only chance to be a father," Uncle-Daddy William goes off on his lesbian sister (Jaleesa from A Different World!) and refuses to relinquish parental rights to the child her lover carries (he donated the sperm). Finally! It seems like William has spent the last season being there for these women. It's about time he got back to having a life and needs of his own.
Two and a Half Men
Lesson 8: But apparently you can stalk a man into submission.
Especially if you're Charlie's worst one-night-stand nightmare.
Lesson 9: Reality TV is a hard habit to break.
The look on Melana's face as the "bachelors" got off the bus... Oh, it's gon' be on like neckbone! I will definitely be watching Joe. Sure, last night's slow-mo' Baywatch clips of ex-cheerleader Melana Scantlin running on the beach, sunbathing by the pool or, simply, staring into the sun, were over the top. But I hung in there for the boys. Why? Because many of these guys are the kind of men my friends would date. They're nice, kinda awkward and a bit geeky. But they're malleable and they've got good jobs. Hell, they'll be the kind of guys I date when I break my "No white guys 'til 2005" moratorium. (Don't ask.)
Lesson 10: Hurricanes turn everything sideways.
Including Alexx's mind. Girlfriend is still talking to dead people. "You were just looking for shelter, weren't you, baby," she coos to a CORPSE. (Please, somebody, make it stop!) Necro-chats aside. This was a traditional CSI: Miami whodunit with Horatio at his creepy best, spitting one liners and sniffing and hissing at suspects and not apologizing when he was wrong. Turns out the neighbor killed Marty, not his brother-in-law Miguel. What?! No "Oops, my bad?" Not from Horatio.