TV Watch: 19 Highlights from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22, 2010
The Vampire Diaries recap: Damon Went Down to Georgia
And on they went to a bar where Gina Torres from Firefly was the bartender, Bree. Upon seeing Torres, I wrote ''Don't let her die!'' in my notes because she plays strong women and occasionally, you like to see them make it. Well, at least Damon punching his fist through her stomach was an interesting death? At first, they played nicely. She raised a toast to him: ''Here's to the man that broke my heart, crushed my soul, destroyed my life, and ruined any and all chances of happiness. Drink up!'' She told Elena that she'd fallen for Damon when she was a freshman in college and learning his secret allowed her to reveal hers — she's a witch. —Mandi Bierly
Saturday Night Live recap: Sigourney Weaver and the Laser Cats, Doing Their Best
Weaver was a trouper, for sure. She wrung laughs out of suiting up as an Amsterdam bombshell and wiggling suggestively during one of Kenan Thompson's Grady Wilson ''love-making techniques'' DVD ads. And Weaver did her best to try and salvage a few laughs from a lumpy Soul Train take-off called Disco Booty Junction.—Ken Tucker
Brothers & Sisters recap: Dinner Party No. 587
Saul had gotten angry that Nora corrected an oversight on the company's taxes, which Sarah had spotted and was going to fix herself (so as not to upset Mr. Pissy) until Nora volunteered. At the dinner party, he explained why he'd snapped and told Nora she was just a housewife looking for a hobby (Ouch!). At age 70, Saul felt like all his dreams had passed him by and his work was and always would be all that he has. It scares me that I relate to Saul at age 34. Fortunately, Kitty stepped in to tell him that he wasn't the only one who feels like he wasted time. If you're alive, you can still go for it. Her speech ultimately inspired Saul to join Silver Studs, an online dating service for gay men of a certain age. Can we please see Saul on dates? I need more of Ron Rifkin and his expert delivery of lines like, ''Nora, the last time you dated someone he went to jail, remember? So if I were you, I'd take a breath.''—Mandi Bierly
24 recap: Jack Gets Pulled Back in, and So Do We
Injured to all bloody hell, Benito Martinez's character manages to track down Jack — now kicking it pre-school with his gorgeous granddaughter ? to beg for much-needed assistance. It seems that Benito's Victor Aruz was peripherally involved in a plan to assassinate President Omar Hassan, who's in New York to negotiate a deal with President Taylor to dismantle his country's nuclear weapons, and he now needs Jack to save his arse. ''You are the guy who always does the right thing!'' Victor pleads while bleeding out. But Jack's retired, man! He just promised to follow his daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law (Paul Wesley, earning some extra cash while on break from The Vampire Diaries) to Los Angeles. Now Victor wants to pull him back in? ''You better not be screwing me!'' Jack replies. Okay, that didn't take much convincing, Bauer, but okay. We're in. ''Who's the hitter!'' he exclaims. —Lynette Rice
Desperate Housewives recap: Therapeutic Effect
Katherine finds forgiveness from an unlikely source, while Bree and Orson clean up their act and Tom and Lynette turn to a shrink for help Mrs. McCluskey, however, wasn't going to let it all just go down like that and showed up to visit Katherine and tell her that her old friends on Wisteria Lane — no matter how much she'd screwed them over with her crazy antics of the fall — would be willing to give her a second chance. ''Take it from the reigning odd duck on the lane,'' Mrs. McCluskey assured her, ''nobody cares about that silly stuff.'' And, the really neat thing is that all the ladies lived up to Mrs. McCluskey's words, as they showed up at the hospital to forgive her. Even Susan! After Mrs. McCluskey showed up a second time and the camera panned to Bree, Gaby, and Lynette, I wasn't surprised to not see Susan with them. But was more than happy to see her behind the other ladies, ready to make amends. I mean, this crazy stuff between them has got to go. And hopefully, now it will. Let's give Katherine a new man when she returns home! That's what I want. —Tanner Stransky
Heroes recap: This isn't a Court! It's a Diner!
Listen, like all of you, I'm a little bit bemused at the sudden revelation that Samuel Sullivan, who's been some kind of combo cult leader/gene fascist/evil genius/tormented loner/cold-hearted killer/master manipulator/idiot all season, has been planning all along to build a charming summer cottage for his lady love. But as long as that lady love is played by Kate Vernon, you had me at hello.
There were too many things to enjoy about this subplot, but I think the best thing was how small-scale it felt. No one's life was in the balance. Nobody had a tumor. Instead, for the vast majority of last night, all Samuel Sullivan was trying to do was remind Vanessa why she fell in love with him. Even the little details felt right: the careful way Samuel shaved around his soul patch, the slow transmogrification of Vanessa's frown into a helpless smile as Samuel offered her a strawberry milkshake, the way she finally admitted that she still had ''a hint of fondness'' for Samuel and held her fingers apart by a tiny distance that nevertheless seemed like a whole lot more than a hint. ''How do you do it?'' asked Vanessa, after Samuel had somehow seduced her all over again. ''How do you do it? Every single time?'' —Darren Franich
Life Unexpected last night: It's No Gilmore Girls but...
It's apparently obligatory in every review of Life Unexpected to compare it to Gilmore Girls. Here's mine: Life Unexpected doesn't have even 10% of the verbal wit that make Gilmore reruns endlessly re-watchable. Yes, Life Unexpected is indeed a charming new show, all the more refreshing for its smiles and unaffected grimaces on the CW, a network usually populated by cool, poker-faced teens and twentysomethings on everything from Gossip Girl to Vampire Diaries. But let's not overrate this little coughing-furball kitty-cat of a show before it grows a bit. —Ken Tucker
24 recap: With the Return of an Old (Crazy?) Colleague, Jack's All In
Davros' corpse was dragged back to CTU, where his ties to the mob were realized — thanks to a bunch of telltale tats that look like something you'd find on Viggo Mortensen's hot body in Eastern Promises. This is where that looney bin of an ex-FBI agent Renee Walker comes in; seems she did lots of undercover work with the Russian mob, so naturally she's the only one who can dive back in to root out Farhad. Actress Annie Werschling worked hard to depict Renee as an empty shell of a woman who had no other reason for jumping back in other than jumping back in - but I'm not entirely sold on the idea of having her back (and really? She's already demonstrating her desperate need for anti-depressants by cutting off a dude's hand?) —Lynette Rice
The Bachelor recap: Jake Grows a Pair
The pilot puts politeness aside and sends trouble-making bachelorettes Michelle and Elizabeth packing without breaking a sweat
It only gets worse from there, as Michelle veers from weepy to angry to pitiful to demanding within seconds. She then launches into a demonstration of the alien mating ritual on Planet Crazy: ''Would it be awkward if I asked if I could kiss you to see if I really feel something, for me?'' Jake spends six long, silent seconds desperately trying to come up with a reason to decline before giving up and reluctantly leaning in. (Is this The Bachelor's most awkward, passionless kiss ever? I think it's second only to Tooth Nazi's snotty post-Kleenex kiss with Jason last season.) Just when I think Jake can't get any wussier, Michelle demands that he give her ''something more than that,'' and something inside of him snaps: ''I'm almost ready for this night to be over,'' he tells her. ''I just want to go home.'' She interrupts him with a ham-handed ultimatum — ''I can't stay.... If you want me to stay I will stay, but...'' — and that's about all it takes for the Bachelor to grow a pair: ''Michelle, I think it would be better if you did leave.'' Consider your bluff called, bitch! —Kristen Baldwin
The Biggest Loser recap: Lesson Plan
The contestants practice what they've learned on each other, and Jillian tries to break one contestant. Here I was thinking Jillian was the robotic Biggest Loser cast member, what with her whole ''How do humans feel? What is it like to hurt?'' schtick she usually rocks while trying to get the contestants to open up. But this week, it looks as though the trainer met her maker in Migdalia. After the green team member began to cop an attitude, alienating herself from the rest of the group, Jillian decided she needed to make Migdalia cry. So first, Jillian decided to make her squat in pee position — while she had to pee. (SO. CRUEL.) Did Migdalia yell? Scream? Cry? Nope. Barely a peep from the contestant. Jillian then tried her next tactic: She would insult Migdalia herself. ''Only strong people can accept when they're hurting!...You're acting like a fool!'' she told the green team member. Now, usually, by this point, Biggest Loser contestants are rolling on the floor in fetal position, sucking their thumbs as if they just watched Jillian pull a Linda Blair. But Migdalia? Girl would not give. So then, Jillian tried to unload the ultimate insult: The trainer began insisting that Migdalia's daughter would become morbidly obese like her mother. Said Jillian, ''Your daughter will be so fat, she'll sit on a rainbow and skittles will pop out.'' (Okay, she didn't really say that, but that's essentially how the scene went down.) A few more insults and one bizarre conversation about the role of God later, Migdalia hit her breaking point and tried to walk off the set.—Kate Ward
American Idol recap: Breaking Windy
The singing stinks as the audition rounds hit Chicago, but guest judge Shania Twain and a handful of contestants come out smelling like roses
I wasn't quite as taken with the two other female hopefuls shown getting their Golden Tickets tonight — Angela Martin and Paige DeChausse — but I'm also not ruling out the possibility of these ladies growing on me by the time they get to Hollywood Week. (Yep, it's the classic wait-and-see stance in effect!)
Angela recounted a laundry list of personal woes that played out like a three-hankie Lifetime movie, and for once, I've got to admit those heartaches — her daughter's struggle with Rett Syndrome; the loss of her father a week before her season 7 Hollywood Week run; the fact that after cracking the season 8 top 50, she had to drop out to deal with a speeding-ticket warrant — added extra poignancy to her powerfully-sung rendition of Mary J. Blige's ''Just Fine.'' So while I'm a little concerned Angela's audition wasn't particularly original, it's kind of impossible for me to not want to see her get a shot with the speed-dialing public in this year's Top 24. As Shania astutely said, this ''try again'' philosophy we hear so much about only works if you're good. (Oh, and mad snaps to Simon for his teasing ''no'' vote on Angela after telling her she's the kind of contestant who makes him enjoy the show in the first place. I admit it: the fake-out made me howl.) —Michael Slezak
Modern Family recap: Seeds of Change
Let me start off by saying, nice butt Julie Bowen! When she unknowingly flashed Haley's boyfriend on video chat, we sure saw a lot of her, and she was looking pretty damn good — especially for someone who was hiding her pregnancy behind laundry baskets in the pilot episode. Tonight's overarching theme was about change — big and small. From guest star Kristen Schaal's makeover to Jay's slow acceptance of his friend's supposed (but ultimately false) homosexuality, to Claire's ability to handle technology and admit she can be wrong. But this being Modern Family, no one actually changed that much (and thank goodness for that, we love them all as they are) — just 15 percent. —Lesley Savage
Ugly Betty Bites: 20 Bright Quips from Last Night's Episode, 'Blackout!' Blackout-in-Manhattan story line is nothing new (hello, last season's Gossip Girl!), but regardless, the Ugly Betty producers did a nice job with wrapping last night's episode around all the lights in NYC going out. And — SPOILER ALERT! — I just love that Marc finally got his due last night. Introducing? Mode's new junior fashion editor, Marc St. James! The promotion was, truly, long overdue.
But now I'm wondering, will there be new assistants for Willy and Daniel? Or will those roles sort of fade into the background as the show focuses more on Betty and Marc's now-more-important positions? Personally, I hope it's the later — no need to fumble around with new, annoying assistants when the show is jam-packed with great characters already. I'll say it again: Ugly Betty is firing on all creative cylinders right now.
And as a bonus, the Marc-getting-promoted storyline also produced one of the funniest lines of the night. ''I'm not the emotional type, but you can write yourself a nice note from me,'' Willy told her beloved former assistant, after she delivered him the news. Awwww. She loves him, even if she's a bitch about it. —Tanner Stransky
American Idol recap: Sunshine Spate
As the competition heads to Orlando, the show's producers start focusing on Golden Ticket recipients — almost a dozen of 'em — and not a moment too soon
Now I'll admit here that my favorite, Jermaine Purifoy, scores bonus points with me by virtue of not arriving with an ''emotional,'' TV-friendly story arc that allowed him to stand moodily on a desolate porch, looking out at the summer rain and/or a strand of barbed wire, while sad music played in the background. Yeah, yeah, I know Matt Lawrence couldn't exactly gloss over the fact that he'd spent ''four birthdays in jail'' for robbing a bank with a BB gun at age 15, but I can't help but ask: Wouldn't his rendition of Ray Lamontagne's ''Trouble'' have had just as much emotional resonance even if we'd known nothing about his reckless teenage years? And while I liked the genuine gruffness of Matt's vocal, and the way that (as Simon put it) the guy delivered the lyric like he'd written it himself, I'd still like to see him exhibit a little more vocal range before (like Kara) I'm ready for him to advance to the top 12 without passing go or collecting $200. —Michael Slezak
p>Project Runway recap: Getting Sacked
It's all about boobs and butts when the designers make cocktail outfits out of potato sacks
Mila's peek-a-boo bodice was G-rated compared to the glowing half-moon we got courtesy of Ping. Tim had begged her to cover up her model's bum (or in Pingspeak, butt-ox) and she seemed to get the message. But perhaps she got sidetracked cocooning herself in burlap in front of the mirror, giving lessons in exaggerated pelvic movements, and annoying Emilio with her coy ''Yes, I know, I'm always intriguing,'' because what she sent down the runway was basically mud flaps stitched to saddle bags. (And what the hell was that sad little flower sitting limply on the bodice?) The sight of the model's bare cheeks gave both Seth ''I have two first names, dammit'' Aaron and guest judge Lauren Hutton the giggles, and I swear it made Nina shake her head. All in all, the dress was an ill-fitting, ill-conceived disaster of drab that turned her model into a ghoulish torso severed from her too-wide hips (great look!) — and that the kooky designer tried to explain away with a bunch of teary hooey about contrasts in skin tone and a ''country fair potato party.'' Okay, so the latter made me laugh.—Missy Schwartz
Parks and Recreation recap: House party at Leslie's!
Leslie and Justin celebrated another successful date. I'm loving this pairing, by the way. Homely, ambitious Leslie is dating the mountain-climbing, world-traveling awesomeness that is Justin (Parks newbie Justin Theroux). They balance each other well as characters and actors. He also has me intrigued because I wonder if he's truly as amazing as advertised. Hmm.. Wait! Sorry, I veered.—Sandra Gonzalez
Community recap: Dancing the Night Away
The scene that sealed my opinion of this episode was when, during the dance recital, Britta saw Jeff holding hands with Professor Slater (a spunky Lauren Stamile). Britta froze, her face morphing into a state of romantic panic, and Lin let the moment last much longer than it would in real life. But during those extra uncomfortable seconds, my heart genuinely broke for Britta. True, that's a testament to the fact that the more we've gotten to know Gillian Jacobs' Britta, the more engaging she's become. But it's also testament to the show's growing emotional concern for its characters. That's what Community is going to need to survive its first season, and ''Interpretive Dance'' was a skip in the right direction.—John Young
Bones recap: Brennan Puts Booth Above the Truth. Love it or hate it?
I also think, in some way, Brennan concluding that it's not JFK because an arm didn't sink in pudding — which meant the man had osteomyelitis, which JFK wasn't known to — takes away from how strong a man Booth really is. She was proud of him for wanting the truth even though it could hurt him, and yet she didn't have faith that he could handle it. Part of me thinks Booth would be so touched by Brennan's gesture that he would forgive her; part of me wants him to find out about it someday and be angry that she didn't push for the truth about something that was this important to him. At first, Brennan thought Booth cared so deeply because he's sensitive about assassins since he's related to John Wilkes Booth (did we know that before?!), but Cam figured out the real reason: He made all those kills as a sniper because he believed his country when it said it was the right thing to do. If he finds out it lied about this, it could have lied about any of those. —Mandi Bierly
Burn Notice Came Back Blazing Last Night
The night's draw was supposed to be guest star Tyne Daly in a stunt-casting mini-Cagney & Lacey reunion. The plot called for Sharon Gless' Madeline to get some info our heroes needed from Daly's grouchy City Records office employee. These two can apparently slip back into their nice 'n' loose conversational style with ease, and were charming in their brief scenes. —Ken Tucker