Turns out even when Jon & Kate Plus Eight is taped weeks in advance, the Gosselins still catch the pop-culture zeitgeist: What were Kate and three of the girls doing this week? Riding in a balloon, just (sorta) like Balloon Boy! And just like that poor Falcon Heene, the girls gave away the hoax of the adventure: “It’s not fun, at all!” one Gosselin girl yelled as the hot air and the swooping balloon made her cranky and woozy.

Meanwhile, back at home, Jon was hyping his segment as, “We’re gonna do destructive man-stuff!” Which just turned out to be Jon standing in the family’s Pennsylvania yard, inflating a six-foot plastic rocket, pumping it with air and water. It shot into the sky while the three boy Gosselins stood around and watched. Then Jon did it all over again. And the boys watched. Did not look like fun for them.

Or for the paparazzi standing behind a fence snapping pictures of this tedious activity. Yes, Jon allowed that to happen, adding, “Even the paparazzi were like, ‘What the heck is he doing?'” So asks America, Jon, so asks America…

Kate had taken the three youngest girls to Florida for that balloon ride, a visit to a butterfly museum where butterflies and parrots landed on their arms (lots of shrieking, mostly from Kate), and then a trip to a “bug zoo” (more shrieking, all of it by Kate).

It was a dismayingly Kate-centric episode. Even the balloon ride became less about the hot-air ride than about whether Kate, in high heels and a short skirt, could get into the balloon basket without giving the girls and the balloon men an accidental anatomy lesson. To her credit, she did refer to herself as an “idiot” for dressing this way in the marshes of Florida, but even that was a bit disingenuous: In the old days of Jon & Kate (we old fans remember, don’t we?), Kate wore sweatpants and baggy slacks. These days, Kate always has to appear on-camera in body-hugging garb, no matter how inconvenient it is for everyone.

Next week: what TLC is billing a “can’t-miss event: ‘You Ask, Kate Answers'” — Kate will read questions sent in by you, the audience. How much new stuff do you think we’ll learn?

While you wait for that, let me know if you watched and what you thought.

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