Couchtime WIth Jill

Sharp & snarky TV recaps with Jill Mader. (@jillemader on Twitter)

Modern Family: Manny got a gun, his dog day's just begun

For an episode that was, in a way, all about transportation (everyone was trying to get to Manny's birthday party), this was a very funny installment of Modern Family. Claire and Phil divided up the kids and took two cars (global warming, schmobal shmarming) to Manny's party to see who had the faster route, Mitch kept rushing Cam to the party because he had a surprising stop to make, and Jay and Gloria got into a disagreement about her keys while Manny mourned his lost childhood.

Childish Antics

Lots of jokes have been made about Manny's adult ways, like the way he talks, dresses and drinks coffee. I mean, the kid actually aspired to look like Al Capone. So it was refreshing that he'd take one of Jay's jokes to heart and try to recapture his childhood. I always like when wacky TV characters acknowledge how wacky they are, and this was a good example of it. Manny knows he's weird, and that makes him more endearing.

On Manny's childlike to-do list was riding a skateboard, floating in the pool and drinking different flavors of pop mixed together. (This was called "swamp water" when I was a kid and was outrageously popular.)

Meanwhile, Manny's parents were acting like children. Gloria couldn't find her keys, which Jay said was because she's scatterbrained and leaves them everywhere. Once he found her cell phone in the fridge. But when Jay found the keys in his own pocket, he hid them in Gloria's purse to avoid looking like a hypocrite and to prove his point. I feel like we've been down this road with Jay and Gloria before, but it was still funny. Plus, Gloria using the beebee gun was awesome.

Flash Dance

Mitch and Cam's storyline was probably my favorite of the night, because while the lead-up was funny, the end joke was worth watching a few times. Mitch was frustrated with Cam taking too long to find a gift for Manny. Things got especially funny when Cam tried to reunite an elderly couple only to discover they were adulterers. Again, we've been down this road, but it was hilarious. I love how Cam's good deeds always backfire. Always.

The real reason Micth was in a hurry, though, was because he was taking part in an awesome flash mob in order to prove to Cam that he can be fun and spontaneous. Normal flash mobs are spectacular if done correctly. Flash mobs that include Mitchell are supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus. Yep, I said it. The funniest part though was watching Cam try to mask his jealous discomfort by attempting to look as though he was part of the group. I could watch him try to clap on beat over and over again and still laugh. 

Splitting Up

Since wanting to be on time is a Pritchett trait (I totally could have been born into that family), Claire and Phil divided up the kids and raced to the restaurant to see who had the faster route. What was great about this storyline, though, was the funny-yet-heartwarming moments the kids had with their parents. 

Phil took the girls, who used the opportunity to break the unfortunate news to him that no one wants to go to family camp. Can you blame them? Phil took the news pretty hard and started to cry, which meant that Haley and Alex started to cry, and I laughed. Oh, and they blew out a tire. 

Meanwhile Luke revealed that he'd actually thought "splitting up" meant his parents were divorcing, not racing to the restaurant. The good side was that he took the news pretty well - he was only mildly bummed. The bad news was that he'd originally said he'd go with his dad. Because, Claire said, Phil is the fun parent. He has "Second Christmas" and "Italian Accent Night". And you can't have two fun parents. Someone has to make sure you don't wear pajamas to school. I haven't always been a huge Luke fan, but it was pretty sweet when he said he chose to go with his dad because he thought he'd need him more. 

Manny's speech at the restaurant was cheesy but cute, and it was nice to see everyone realize how silly they'd been acting. Now, let's talk about some of the best jokes from the episode:
  • "You know that kid Liam who wears pajama pants to school and pays for things with hundred dollar bills? Two fun parents. Mark my words." Claire, on why having two fun parents can't work
  • "The second thing that slipped right out from under me today." - Manny talking about his skateboard ride...the first thing was his childhood, in case you didn't get it
  • "Come on Manny. I could have unbuttoned your shirt if I wanted to." - Gloria, who is an excellent shot
  • Phil being so clueless about why his pride in his family camp team color (white) was inappropriate.
  • "If I had known it was my last summer there, I'd have gone for the lead in Pippin." - Phil, about family camp
  • "Dad's like crazy fun, but you're nice." - Luke, to Claire
  • "You cheated on me with choreography and that is the worst kind." - Cam, being a tad overdramatic
  • All four cars pulling up at the same time. I might have rolled my eyes, but I chuckled too.


America's Next Top Model: Movin' on up

Only a few episodes left, Model watchers! That's right, this haute couture season of ANTM is coming to a close. Do you have a favorite? The final four couldn't have been more different. Chelsey pointed out to the other girls that back in Idaho there was not a lot of fashion going on - she had to seek it out for herself. A fair point, since Chelsey has been the only girl this season to even recognize the names of most designers and photographers, let alone get excited about them. Is knowledge of the fashion world required to be a model? Not necessarily, but I'm sure it helps.

Before the challenge Kayla couldn't shut up about receiving the best photo, and Ann was worried about stepping up her game. Uh-oh...

Model Act

Have I mentioned how crazy Miss J looks this season? The weird forehead bun. The eyebrows. Totally wack. The girls were meeting with an acting coach this week, which meant a rough day for Ann. You may not have realized this, but she's not exactly outgoing. The girls were then met ALT (who was rivaling Miss J for the wacky dress award) at Vogue Italia to meet with the Editor-in-Chief. Pretty important, considering the prize is a spread in that magazine.

Kayla chose to open her interview by saying it was her first time "doing all this modeling stuff", which wasn't great. She spoke a lot about her photos but not much about herself. Chelsey seemed much more confident, and the fact that she's actually been pursuing modeling for a few years set her apart from the other girls. Ann's interview wasn't the mumbling awkward mess I expected, but it wasn't great either. Jane was a little too shy, but she was just so damn cute with her side braid that I don't see how anyone could avoid liking her.

Once again, Chelsey and Ann seemed to impress the most. They both did OK with the go-sees, and at this point I think they should be the final two. But Chelsey certainly performed the best in the interview, and she won the challenge. She and Kayla got to go see the original painting of The Last Supper with ALT. The painting was beautiful, I'm sure, but I was too distracted by ALT's hat and poncho to notice. Chelsey and Kayla got to spend the night in a swanky hotel, but I was totally smitten with Ann and Jane's cute going-on back at the house.

Fashion in Motion

Tyra was shooting the girls in a motion editorial, whatever that is. I think someone (*cough*Tyra*cough*) has Harry Potter and the living paintings on the brain. I was more interested in whatever was going on with Tyra's blush, and the fact that two of the four girls would be eliminated at the next panel. Sheesh. In that case, why even bother showing any more of Jane?

The girls did a bunch of stuff, like wandering around looking confused but pretty, whispering their names in a creepy way, and whipping their hair back and forth. It was hard to tell which girls did well and which girls struggled...until they had to walk. Jane was stiff, Ann was stiffer, and the girls rushed from shoot to shoot so quickly it was impossible to tell who came out on top. With a double elimination pending, it made for a lot of suspense in the episode.

Double Cut

Without further ado, let's talk about how the girls looked.

Chelsey, to me, is the strongest girl in the competition. I think her face is beautiful, she's incredibly versatile, and she really knows her stuff. Plus she's got a killer walk.


Jane was out of the running before we looked at her footage. I know she hasn't measured up to the other girls, but I see a model when I look at that girl. Tyra couldn't have said it better when she told the other judges that Jane has a million dollar face. Jane was never going to win, but I think she can have a career.


Ann! She wore a corset! Adorable! Ann's footage was stunning, and for me that solidified her place in the final two...but she has got to work on that walk if she wants to win.


Kayla. I just don't like her. I can see her being a model, I just can't see her being a model that I would care for.


I thought the final two was an easy decision. Chelsey is the strongest and Ann is the most interesting. Done and done. Ann was called first (that totally should have gone to Chelsey), and then Chelsey was called. It was predictable, but it was also the only suitable outcome.

So which girl deserves to win? Ann has delivered the best photos. An unprecedented amount of best photos. But she has a lot of flaws. Her walk is terrible. She's shy, and sometimes looks sloppy in person. And I won't lie - while I love the girl's eyes, I think the lower half of her face can come across weak. As for Chelsey, I think she has a strong, strong look. She comes across great in person. Her walk is fierce. Her photos are decent. But have we seen her before? Who deserves to win? And how weird was Tyra's "directorial debut"?


Survivor: Turning Point

Wow. I really thought Sash would give Brenda the idol, didn't you? The move to oust Brenda was the biggest power play so far this season, but I can't say I'm happy about it. Three weeks in a row, three smart players have been eliminated - Alina, Marty and Brenda. What's left are a bunch of bumbling idiots who hate each other one second and are BFF the next. Who am I going to root for now? 

Fire and Ash

Hey, you know what's not a good idea? Surrounding your campfire with wooden boxes before leaving for a reward challenge. Yep, the geniuses on the Libertad tribe protected their fire using kindling. That contained all their food and tools. Real smart. 

The tribe was split up into two teams for the reward challenge, which required teams to make their way across the beach using wooden barrels and planks. One team (including NaOnka, Kelly, Fabio, Dan and Chase) dominated the other and quickly won a pretty cool reward - volcano surfing (which was actually sledding) and a picnic. (Probst was kind of hilarious in how much he made fun of the other team for sucking so much.)

But while the winners were sliding down a mountain of ash, the losers were staring at some back at camp. Because the fire had gotten out of control (shocker!) and burned most of their possessions and food. Benry put it best with "This is a day from hell". Meanwhile, things were kind of awkward over at the volcano picnic. NaOnka pulled Fabio aside to chat about strategy - yep, you read correctly. NaOnka and Fabio, who were previously mortal enemies - while Chase observed to Kelly that "You never talk, really," and she replied "I know, it's kind of funny." What? That was so weird! It's not her edit, she literally never speaks. During Tribal Council later, we found out why.

Backlash

From the beginning of the episode, everyone was talking about getting rid of Brenda. When she and Sash chose to vote out Marty, they drew a line in the sand that everyone could see. What shocked me was that the people who were most vocal about wanting to eliminate her were the people she'd chosen to align with. Holly, NaOnka and Jane. The hold out, of course, was Chase. Because he loooooooves her. Or as Benry put it, ""He's been playing with his heart and his emotions since day two." (But on the first day, he was totally ruthless?) Jane phrased it more bluntly, saying Chase wanted to get in Brenda's pants. NaOnka told Chase the entire plan, and he ran and told Brenda. NaOnka also told Sash about the plan, which was surprising. Wouldn't NaOnka have had enough votes against Brenda without jeopardizing the scheme by cluing them in?

Brenda's reaction to the news that she was getting voted out was surprising. She played it cool. She didn't want to scramble and assumed her people would take care of her. It was a bold move, but it ended up being a mistake. 

Overboard

The immunity challenge was pretty cool, and I was shocked - shocked! - at the order in which people fell. Each player had to stand on a slanted wooden platform while holding onto a long piece of rope. It required a lot of upper arm strength and stamina. Shockingly, Sash fell first. What?! I had my money on Dan, followed by Kelly. She did fall second, followed by Holly, Brenda, Dan and then Fabio. Fabio! That was pathetic! I had him pegged as a possible winner! Then NaOnka fell, leaving Benry, Chase and Jane to battle it out. If I didn't find Jane's arrogance so irritating, I would have been super impressed by her. I mean, I am impressed that she won, but I was really hoping she wouldn't. That ego does not need to be fed. 

Benry fell right before his head was about to explode, and Jane declared she was going to give up because Chase wasn't falling any time soon. Then Jeff Probst did the unthinkable. He said "Don't you dare give up on this challenge!" and so Jane didn't quit. And then she won. 

Um, really, Probst? Since when do you convince people not to quit? I seem to remember a time when you actually bribed people to quit with chocolate and peanut butter. If Jane wanted to quit, you should have let her quit! You stole that challenge from Chase!

Scrambled

Tribal Council was one of the best this season, I think. Sure, it's kind of fun to watch NaOnka prove just how crazy she is. But this was the first Tribal Council where I felt like at least a few people sitting there were actually trying to play. It was also one of the few Tribal Councils this season where I had no idea who would go home. Benry? Brenda? NaOnka? 

Once Brenda knew for sure that her old BFF NaOnka had turned on her, she devised a plan to get Na out. Sash would give her the idol and they'd vote NaOnka. The thing was, NaOnka talked to Sash about voting off Brenda, so he had to make a decision. Personally, I thought he'd give Brenda the idol. I think he was stronger with her than without her because no one will ever trust him. 

At Tribal Council Probst gave Brenda a lot of crap for saying that she didn't want to scramble to stay in the game because she thought it looked weak and was beneath her. Obviously in hindsight Brenda should have scrambled, but I understood her argument. She thought she was going to play an idol, so she didn't want to be seen scrambling and be thought of as weak. She was trying to hold on to her power. 

Meanwhile, Probst asked Kelly to give everyone 20 years worth of wisdom, and she delivered the verbal equivalent of a giggling unicorn. So that's why she never speaks. She doesn't know how! 

Dethroned

I felt kind of bad for Brenda when she looked at Sash and he looked away, not giving her the idol. Everyone had voted for her except for poor, stupid Kelly who didn't even vote NaOnka. She voted Benry. In fact, I kind of think she might have been trying to vote Brenda and just misspelled it. 20 years of wisdom hasn't gotten her much. 

I'm sad to see Brenda go. I thought she was playing the best game out there, and I think Sash made the wrong move in crossing her. Who to root for now? Fabio? At this point, I'm starting to worry that Jane will slip through to the finals and win the whole thing. Ugh.

What did you think of the episode? Were you impressed by the power play? Did you laugh when NaOnka said "He pissed me off to the highest point of pisstivity"? And what can NaOnka possibly do next week that will be worse than everything she's already said and done? 

PS - Yes, I have read that the scenes from next week spoil who wins immunity. I didn't notice and I don't want to know, so be nice and don't reveal it in the comments.


Parenthood: Score

Yay! An Amber episode! I don't know about you guys, but Amber Holt has always been one of my favorite characters on Parenthood. We've seen her blossom over the course of the past season and a half, and the good news of her awesomesauce SAT scores in last night's episode felt like the perfect development for her character. (I loved the opening scene where the whole family was trying to find out her scores behind her back.)

What was really beautiful about the storyline was that it didn't trivialize Amber's character. The show has not gone "Oh look, Amber's not troubled anymore!" Instead, Amber's high test score explored a very vulnerable side to her character and exposed her self-esteem issues. When Sarah set up an interview for Amber with a successful Berkeley grad, Amber turned it down. At first it looked like she was just being lazy or immature, but she was actually scared. One of the most touching scenes was between Amber and Adam, when he told her not to be afraid of putting herself out there and failing. I like when characters who don't normally interact much get scenes together, and seeing Amber get advice from her successful uncle was really sweet. 

Amber ended up doing well in the interview and revealed to her mom that it had helped her realize that she is capable of being around smart, successful people, and that she herself can be a smart and successful person. I've said more than once that what I love about Parenthood is how realistic it is, and this felt like one of those down to earth storylines. Who hasn't felt inferior or self-doubting at some point? Plus Mae Whitman is just such a great actress, so I loved it. 

Meanwhile, romance is brewing between Haddie and Alex. We know that Haddie's grandmother is OK with it, but how will Adam and Kristina react to all the time she's spending with an older guy who happens to be a  recovering alcoholic? Still, they make a cute couple and I think he's made Haddie a more likable character. 

The storyline about Crosby and Joel directing a school play was pretty funny. Joel was just so stiff, and Crosby is just so cool. You had to feel bad for Joel, though. No one wants to be told that the play they're directing is painfully boring, even if it is for 6-year-olds. The storyline was a great way to lighten up the episode because the other two storylines were pretty heavy. 

Kristina had to deal with an awkward situation at Max's school when she found out that he was one of only a few kids not invited to a little girl's birthday party. She was especially hurt because the teacher had said Max and the little girl got along really well. It turned out, though, that the little girl didn't want Max to attend because he's a sore loser and there would be games at her party. What I liked about this subplot was that Kristina seemed more upset by the snub than Max did, and isn't that how things like this usually go? No one wants their kid to be left out. Kristina dealt with it well, I thought. She might have embarrassed herself by pushing a little too hard with the girl's mom, but I think her idea of having Max and the girl have a playdate with Max's behavioral therapist was a good one. Max got to work on his issues and Kristina seemed to make a new friend. Everyone won. 

No one won in Zeek and Camille's storyline. You knew this reconciliation wouldn't be smooth sailing forever, but I'm putting the blame on Camille here. By attending an art class taught by the man she'd slept with she was hurting Zeek. And he told her that. And just like he said, she was the one pushing him to talk about feelings. You can't ask someone to express their emotions and then disregard them. It was selfish of Camille to stay in that class. It's just like when Camille asked Zeek to take dance classes with her and then bailed when he was actually having fun. Reconciliation is a two-way street! Their marriage will never last if she doesn't acknowledge how he's changed. That said, all the slamming of objects in that final scene was not great behavior on Zeek's part. But still. I'm blaming Camille. 

What did you think of the episode? Were you as happy for Amber as I was? Are you mad at Zeek, Camille or both? And most importantly...will Crosby's musical win a Tony?


Boardwalk Empire: With Great Power

I think this week's "Belle Femme" was my favorite episode of Boardwalk Empire to date.

As I've said in previous reviews, the relationship between Nucky Thompson and Margaret Schroeder is what really draws me in to this show. Their romance has evolved slowly, and she's only beginning to grasp everything that comes with being associated with him. She's certainly seen his good side. She's seen the benefits of their relationship. After she looked in the ledger book and saw all the money he's making off illegal liquor, she's seen that he's not quite the man she thought he was as well. 

This week Margaret discovered the power that comes with being Nucky's girl, as well as the dangers. She convinced him to keep the French store owner Madame Jeunet in business by agreeing to help Nucky get the women's vote in the upcoming election. And Margaret was rewarded with a stunning blue dress. It's not that Margaret is particularly conniving or selfish. She just used to be poor. I would have tried to get the dress too. 

Margaret experienced the other side of the coin, though, when someone attempted to gun down Nucky on the boardwalk and an innocent woman was shot instead. The poetry of the blood on the new blue dress was perfect for the situation, and the scene was incredibly well-acted. 

The assassination attempt is, of course, the glaring proof that Nucky is at war. We knew this after his brother got shot, but a bullet meant for Nucky turned things up a few notches. 

As always, my one complaint about the show is that it's too sprawling. I'm happy that Jimmy is back, although the melodrama of his romantic life isn't really doing it for me. But there are still characters whose names I don't know, and characters who only get one short scene per week. Shows like Mad Men or The Wire also had large casts and sprawling plots, but I was interested in each character and each storyline. In Boardwalk Empire, I only care about Nucky, Maragret and the people who directly relate to them. 

What did you think of the episode? Do you have any predictions for the final three episodes?


Survivor: Marty in Ponderosa

I watched Marty's Ponderosa videos several days ago, but it being November Sweeps I didn't have much time to write about them. That's OK though, because my thoughts can easily be summed up with two words: Poor. Alina. 

It's not that I think Marty is a bad guy. He seemed very nice on the conference call interview. A little egotistical, very talkative, but generally seemed nice. But the thing is, Marty is clearly the kind of person who would replay the ins and outs of the game over and over and over at Ponderosa. That's totally understandable. But as the only other person there, that meant Alina had to listen to it all. All the time. That can't be easy. Especially because she and Marty were on opposing sides in the game. 

Other than that, the videos didn't really provide great material. Their trip into a local Nicaraguan village was pretty cool, so I recommend checking that out. And Marty lost 22lbs., which seems like quite a bit. Alina had lost a lot too, for someone with such a small frame. These people are definitely hungry, which is why it's so shocking that food-stealer NaOnka is still around! OK, not that shocking. I'd like to sit next to her in the end too.

I bet Alina was happy to get a new Ponderosa friend after a few days with Marty. Any predictions on who it will be? (No spoilers, though!) Just for kicks, I'm going to guess Jane.


Back to top