By Nicholas Fonseca
Updated January 29, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST

Yes, PopWatchers, I’m late as L with my recap today, and I have no excuse other than sheer laziness. There will be very few cutesy hyperlinks today, as I fear my editors are already eager to bonk me over the head with a soft, cushioned bat for running behind. I also fear that there may not be anybody left reading my recaps since I keep sending you over to YouTube to watch clips of Mia Kirshner acting like Captain Insano. (Aaawhoops!) And since I marveled along with you as my indefatigable (and apparently sleep-averse) colleague Whitney Pastorek made comedic mincemeat of the Sundance Film Festival over the past ten days, I already hate everything I’m about to write, so let’s just roll along and start discussing what shall heretofore be known as The Basketball Episode, shall we?

But first, let’s talk trash about Tina. Like most of you, I’m still trying to figure out when that bug flew up Tina’s butt, roosted there for good, and turned her into such an insufferable human being. It’s unfortunate, because I’ve always enjoyed Laurel Holloman as a performer; sadly, when Tina started dating men again and tried to act like some high-powered film executive (so didn’t work), she went from being the long-suffering, pregnant underdog to a whiny, self-centered brat. You might say she took a few pointers from Our Lady of Perpetual Ego Bette Porter (don’t start, I still love her), but you might also say that this character was written into a corner. Nay, you’d have to say that, since Tina barely exists in the girls’ circle anymore and Jenny—oh, my beloved Jenny!—just slams her at every turn. This episode’s dig about “maintaining heterosexual privileges” was both laughably brilliant and ridiculously heavy-handed, and when Tina pouted her way onto Papi’s pick-up basketball team, I found myself staring at the screen quizzically, shrugging my shoulders, and effectively blocking Tina from my vision for the remainder of the episode. Remember when she used to be compelling?

Speaking of which, I can’t take my eyes off the screen when CybillShepherd’s doing her thing—and by “her thing,” I mean “that strangelywooden line delivery that both diminishes her real-life ebullience and also leaves me cackling unintentionally.” So now that Phyllis and Alice have—in L Wordparlance—made circles together, I fear we’re in for some trulyuncomfortable, but-don’t-you-love-me? moments that will make me runscreaming from the room as I shield my eyes in horror. Agita, folks,agita. It gets me every time.

As for that basketball game? The buzz here in the hallways ofEW—where we screened this season’s first six episodes before theholiday break—was negative from the get-go. I sense that most folkswere turned off by Papi’s brusque, over-the-top challenge to acourtside duel with a big, honkin’ group of cholas,and they were also probably annoyed by the name our girls chose fortheir team: The Bourgie-Ass Girls. Me? I found the entire scene amusingand a nice illustration that season 4 isn’t going to bog itself downwith big, weighty breast cancer storylines for the sake of melodrama.Of course, I say this now… and the next thing I know, Episode 7 isgoing to arrive in the mail, it’s going to be titled something ominouslike “Lymphoma” or “Lupus” or “Late-Term Abortion,” and I’m going tohave to eat my words.

What else, what else? Oh, yeah: The ‘men’ of the show—and I use thatterm lightly—had a few choice moments, but since every single personwho reads this blog and every single person who watches the showbesides myself hates Max, we can just move right along. (What?? Yousaid you hated him!) And I’m not sure what to make of Angus’ littledalliance with Angelica’s new nanny, Hazel. I mean, you knew from thevery minute that she first appeared that they’d be sucking face, didn’tyou? You watch The L Word, friends. You know that every serviceworker/plebeian who lives in a 5-mile radius of these characters isgoing to be A) impossibly gorgeous, B) impossibly horny, C) impossiblyimpulsive, or D) some combination of the above with a potential fetishthrown in for good measure. And Hazel (doesn’t she look like Marie Fredriksson?)proved true to form. And as I watched another scene with Angus, Iproved true to form, too, and quickly lost all interest the minute hepopped up on my TV screen.

On the other hand, you know I loved me some undies-clad Shane(Katherine Moennig, pictured) glamming it up for that Hugo Boss printcampaign. Man, is her little brother a klutz or what?! First he spilledmilk all over Jenny’s super-expensive shoulder bag, and now he’sfalling off of skateboards, breaking his arm, and costing his oldersister tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. GOOD JOB, KID!!It’s a good thing Shane was so conveniently approached for thatmodeling gig last week; I fear if she’d been forced to cough up thatridiculous $20,000 it’ll take to heal his damn arm, we’d be in for somereally awkward Shane-goes-prossie sequences underlaid with dark,crunching, atonal music by—the horror! the horror!—Betty.

What did you think of the basketball game? Is Helena’s new gig asPhyllis’ for-hire caterer going to be a whopping success—or a giganticdisaster? Can Bette and Tina ever have a civil discussion again? WillAngus tell Kit that he kissed that girl from Roxette? (Kidding.) Andwhat’s in the cards for Bette? Do you think Nadia will out her as asexual predator now that she’s dumped the loser? Because, you know, I’mall about a nice Notes on A Scandal-y storyline if it means I get to see a Jennifer Beals-Cybill Shepherd smackdown.