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'Jon & Kate Plus Eight' recap: Rollin' along

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TLC

In order to discuss this week’s episode of Jon & Kate Plus Eight we have to talk about the new episode of American Chopper, too. Keeping in accordance with the ongoing themes of this season (separate couch interviews, cross-promotion mania) the Gosselins spent some quality time on their show with the Teutuls of TLC’s American Chopper and vice versa. But, in all honesty, if you missed the American Chopper episode that preceded the new J&K episode, you got cheated. Beginning an hour and a half before (yes, folks, if my math serves me right, that’s two whole hours of Jon & Kate/American Chopper programming) the AC episode featured more bikes, kids, and all-around fun.

So let us begin with the American Chopper episode, which started with Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., as well as that oh-so-adorably-scruffy Mikey rolling up to the Gosselins gated driveway. The AC crew was there to make Jon a bike (one that would find its way into the tabloids long before this episode aired, so the big reveal wasn’t all that revealing, ultimately) but Kate piped in that if she were to have a bike, she’d want a pink one (foreshadowing!). When Paul Sr. asked Jon if he was ”man enough” for one of his bikes, Jon sheepishly answered, ”Yeah, I’m man enough.” Seems like his show wouldn’t be lost in translation at all.

But, oh, did Paul Sr. become a softie around those kids (because honestly, who couldn’t?), especially when he delighted Leah by letting her honk the horn on one of the bikes. Unfortunately for Jon, that cutesiness stopped there when it came to the matter of the bike (Sr. let him know he’d build it his own way) and the bill.

Meanwhile, Mikey, who is clearly still a kid at heart, entertained the sextuplets with a ventriloquism act (a bit that finds its way into the J&K episode, but more on that later.) Kate even went so far as to wipe the flop sweat off of Mikey’s forehead. The Teutuls then offered to take Jon and Kate out on the open road on their bikes, and much to Sr.’s surprise, Kate obliged, considering, as he so delicately puts it, ”she’s a control freak.”

Back at the Orange County Choppers shop, Lee quipped that Kate ”definitely wears the pants in the family” and when they started discussing the details for Jon’s bike he asked, ”Sure it’s not for her?” Clearly, the guy has watched the show before. By the way, was I the only one who found it slightly odd that the Teutuls, who joke that they’ll punch each other in the face, seem to have a better family rapport going than the Gosselins do right now?

When Mikey and the Pauls returned to the Gosselin house to spend more time with the brood before making the bike, they came equipped with an arts and crafts project. Amidst the goodies Kate found a gaudy pink fuzzy hat and while getting ready to put it on said, ”Since my hair is the talk of the town, let’s just make it a little bit worse shall we?” Don’t know whether she was referring to the talk or the hair itself, but it sure was nice to hear Kate poke a little fun at herself. And it wasn’t the last time in the episode that she’d do that either!

NEXT: Jon bonds with the guys and Kate bonds with…Mikey

Paul Jr. continued to bond with the wee Gosselins, particularly Aaden whom he felt a kinship with because he too wore glasses as a child. As Mikey played human punching bag and the big bad wolf to the kiddies, Kate mentioned that later that evening they will be having their preschool graduation. I don’t know what’s more surprising here, the fact that that hasn’t been mentioned on their show, or that Kate was letting them play outside before said event.

The kids weren’t the only ones playing with the American Chopper guys; Jon enjoyed some male bonding when he went to the OCC shop. It’s there the AC gang asked Jon if Kate would mind the motorcycle, to which he replied, ”What’s mine is mine, what’s hers is hers.” But, that wasn’t the only twinge of ”gee, that sounds like a divorce preceding” delivered last night, as Jon went on to say that he loved ”being free of the eight” and he’s a stay-at-home dad in desperate need of dude time. Maybe he was high on all the testosterone in there, but Jon certainly didn’t come off as a doting, loving dad, even if he was getting his kids names put on his bike.

Perhaps hoping to take the edge off, the guys asked Jon about his experience as a father and his answers were more sincere and telling than the Jon & Kate couch confessionals have ever been (Jon likened himself to a ”fainting goat” when he found out he’d be having sextuplets at the age of 27.) Back at the shop, Paul Sr. got back to his grizzled self and made sure Jon didn’t miss home too much by giving him some choice words (all in good fun, of course) as he helps with the bike.

Back in Pennsylvania, Kate and her new, unlikely BFF, Mikey, go to Kate’s favorite place ever, the spa. It’s an unlikely place to see Mikey (who’s essentially a teddy bear in human form) but he unabashedly embraced his feminine side. When a spa attendant asked Mikey if he’d like a magazine to read during his pedi, he answered, without skipping a beat, ”US Weekly.” I don’t know who I liked more in this moment, Mikey for totally dishing it to Kate, or Kate for letting out an honest to goodness hearty laugh in response.

NEXT: The light J & K episode

So both mom and dad admitted they were extremely stressed in this very special episode of, oh, right, American Chopper. Was I the only one who forgot I was watching this show instead of Jon & Kate? It wasn’t until they came back to the Gosselin residence with Jon’s new motorcycle and Kate’s ”surprise” pink bike that I remembered what I was watching. So what else could possibly be left for the actual episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8? Well, not a whole lot actually.

The episode titled ”Bikes and Trikes” featured most of the same footage, or simply extended moments from the American Chopper episode. We saw a little more of Mikey’s ventriloquist act and the kids’ giddy response, the picnic in which Kate barked at Jon to get the dogs away from the food, and some bike riding. Both the AC and J&K crew rode sans helmets, but Kate reassured us that it was legal and they were going ”four and a half miles per hour.” Still, seems like a bit of a bonehead move for parents on a family-oriented show.

There were also some notable disparities between the two episodes. During American Chopper Paul Sr. discussed the matter of paying for the bike with Jon, but here Jon mentioned that the bike was given to him. Not shocking necessarily but certainly noticeable. But the most surprising thing was the fact that the sextuplet’s Pre-K graduation wasn’t shown, let alone mentioned here.

Of course, we did get some Jon & Kate we know (and love?) when Kate gave a half-hug to the sweaty American Chopper gang and Jon (who once again sat separately from his wife on the couch for interviews) mentioned again how much he liked being on his own. Sure the episode had its charming moments (mostly from the AC guys) but the lack of time with the kids and the focus on the cross-promotion felt like overkill. And just when I thought I was on Team Kate this week, she went on to snap at Cara while at the Ronald McDonald House (which they credit for helping them before they became the celebrities they are now) to donate her new pink bike.

What did you think of this and the American Chopper episode? Did you like this cross-promotion more than the previous weeks had with Ace of Cakes and Emeril Lagasse? Or has it all turned you off? Did you catch Mady’s noticeable absence, too? Is she getting ready to pull an Aimee Osbourne on us? And could we really blame her at this point? Were you surprised by what Jon had to say? Did you find yourself more on Kate’s side this week, too? Or do you wish they’d finally just get back to focusing on the kids again?