The Scholar
I'm not entirely sure what creating school spirit has to do with getting a college scholarship, but I guess it's all part of a well-rounded education. I thought for sure Scot the home-schooled kid would be out of this game, but he ended up winning a 50 grand scholarship (more than his father makes in several years) and a spot in the finals. He seemed so excited; that kind of genuine exuberance is refreshing. (Although I have to admit that while he was telling his hard-luck story, I was just waiting for Ty Pennington and Co. to pop out of a bus, remake his family's house and send the kid off for his shot at higher learning.) Actually, this whole reality game show has a good-natured vibe about it, marred only by grouchy judge Sean, who thought that Gerald's only chance of making it to the admission showdown was during this challenge because he's a school mascot. Is that saying that the kid is stupid? I mean, yeah, his GPA may not be as high as some of the others — thanks for all those people who wrote in to explain the confusing 5.0 GPA system for certain classes at some schools — but he's still a smart kid. While biology wasn't Gerald's bag, I'd love to see him come back next week and totally surprise Sean, because you know that the Simon Cowell of scholarship committees just hates being proved wrong. — Angel Cohn

So what would be so horrible about Ava and Johnny getting together? (Besides, isn't Sean Christian just John Stamos with shorter hair?) Why all the drama? She loves him. No, whoops, she's engaged to another guy! But she calls off the wedding! But wait, now he's seeing someone else... who, uh-oh, just died in a horrible car crash. And now she wants him back! Enough with the hot temptations and the resulting heartbreak. It will not ruin anything if these two hook up! I repeat, let's get these two into bed already! OK, now that I've calmed down a little... anyone else notice that the kids are the smartest ones on this show? Bradin shows true character by choosing old-pal Jay over a corporate sponsorship offering free boards, babes in bikinis and beaucoup bucks. Wise-beyond-his-years Derrick (and way-too-long-in-the-hair) explains to Johnny that it's OK to make mistakes in love. And even though Nikki promises not to tell anyone that Cameron's father is a drunk who beats him, I have a feeling she won't be able to sit on that secret for very long, especially since everyone talks about their problems in Playa Linda ad nauseum. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. It helps keep us up-to-date with this on-again, off-again drama, which has been pulled from the schedule how many times? But one thing's for sure: These three kids transformed themselves from bratty orphans into a sophisticated surfer/model, a budding pretty young thang and a li'l skate-punk wannabe. Let's face it, summer never looked so good. — Robin Honig

The Closer
TNT has assembled an interesting cast — Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons (the Oz guy and Peter Parker's boss) and Jon Tenney (a go-to everyman) — for what is a pretty disappointingly generic police drama. Kyra's the fish-out-of-water deputy chief who's been reassigned from Atlanta and put in charge of an L.A. murder investigation unit. She may have a sweet Southern drawl, but she's tough as nails and known as someone who can close difficult cases. Right, seen it before. It doesn't even have the cool, flashback-inspired twists like Cold Case, or a really gritty so-bad-he's-good guy like The Shield. The only truly original thing about this skinny blonde detective is that she's got a secret addiction to junk food. But in my book, watching Sedgwick have a When Harry Met Sally... moment while eating a pastry doesn't really have anything to do with crime fighting. Not to mention the fact that though I'm impressed with her interrogation skills, I can't warm up to her character at all. I feel like I should at least be interested in what happens to the lead, but honestly, I couldn't care less. The case itself, with its sexually ambiguous murderer/victim, was kind of compelling. Using the crime-solving skills that I've amassed from too much TV over the years I figured it out pretty early. I kept hoping there'd be some big twist, but I guess sometimes that's asking for too much. — AC

Hell's Kitchen
Dag. I don't know what's worse: that weeping patron upchucking smug Andrew's salty risotto, or Gordon's rage-aholism sending Jeff the quitter right for the hills. Of course, when I say "worse," I obviously mean best, as in "this may have been the cuisine-and-scream reality show's best episode so far," thanks in large part to the nightmare that was Night 3 at the restaurant. With two food critics in the crowd and not a damn hope of his wannabes getting their act together, Gordon unleashed his inner Ike Turner not only on Andrew and Jeff, but also on poor Wendy the perfectionist. Who, by the way, never got anything right. Ironic or sad? Discuss. Anyhoo, my fantastically talented (and single, ladies!) chef friend gave me a ring-a-ding right after to discuss the events that left me — and probably most of the players — feeling a bit fried, and it turns out, this isn't too far from the real deal. "You either get it right or get the [bleep] out," he says. "Honestly, I would have fired Jeff before he could have [bleeped] anything else up." Huh. So apparently a lot of chefs tend to abuse the help and have a taste for the blue talk. Good to know. He also says that it's not uncommon for sodium-saturated appetizers to prompt spontaneous regurgitation among the unfed masses. Unfortunately, he had no idea why Jessica was crying like a Michael Jackson fan at verdict time when Wendy was sent packing, though we both agree that it could have something to do with her secretly being unstable. Unlike those folks outside the Santa Maria courthouse yesterday. There ain't nothing secret about that level of crazy, ya hear? — Damian J. Holbrook

Six Feet Under
Samuel Wayne Hoviak, 1965-2004. I don't know about this one. Most guys too lazy to get out of the SUV to grab their morning paper wouldn't die doing it. They'd have already sent the wife, kid or dog out to get it, and would choke on their Krispy Kreme at a stoplight. But what the hell is Keith thinking, wanting Claire to donate an egg for the child he wants to have with David? As my coworker would say, "Dude (everyone here says dude) — you really want Fisher genes in your baby?" And damn, is that puppet-faced girl creeping me out. Far worse than the Belial-like creature she left behind, even.) Synchronized birth-control-pill cycles, no exercise, no drinking, hormone injections and "harvesting" surgery done with a needle. Can David sell the donation process or what? Oh, right — intentional failure. Of course.

As for Rico's latest girlfriend going AWOL and turning out to have nothing wrong with her beyond not wanting to hang out with him anymore? I shouldn't really use the word "wrong" there, since it implies she's at fault for that. Just ask Vanessa. And does anyone really think that lie about the girl dying in order to get sympathy from his ex isn't gonna come back to bite him really, really hard? Moving on... you've gotta feel for Billy taking crap from his "friends" for not being his old, wild self. I've seen it happen all too often to former "crazy" friends who got one too many DUIs or just decided they didn't want to be "that guy" anymore. People don't like it when their buddies change. And everybody repeat after me: Poor Ruth. Poor George. Above all, poor Maggie. Get ready to add Billy and Claire to that list, too. By next week, I'm betting. — Michael Peck

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