Amanda directs the church musical as Cricket and Carlene face off for the starring role; Sharon takes her business to public access television

By Marc Snetiker
April 16, 2012 at 04:51 AM EDT
Karen Neal/ABC
S1 E8
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Let it shine! I barely had time to catch my breath from last week’s double serving of GCB before this week’s generous portion made me realize that this show has certainly found its stride (perhaps quicker than other freshman shows), and said stride comes hand in hand with this week’s blissful offering of musical moments between Cricket and Carlene. Hands down, GCB is absolutely the most fun you’ll have watching TV on Sunday — especially when we’re treated to sing-your-face-off contests between Miriam Shor and Kristin Chenoweth, television’s most delectably campy duo.

Someone definitely snuck a little Glee and Smash into the holy water this week. “Pride Comes Before a Fall” revolved around Amanda’s decision to direct an original church musical after she and Pastor Tudor ran into dimpled teddy bear rival Reverend Steve (played by the delightful Michael Arden), whose own house of worship was putting on a lavish production of Godspell. Amanda dug up a script for The Miracles of Jesus, a biblical stage show written by Heather in high school, and soon the whole church was buzzing to try out.

Cue the funniest audition you’ve ever seen: Cricket’s initially tame “This Little Light of Mine” evolved into a sparring match against techno beep-booping Carlene. Would I be weird if I said I wanted to download the mash-up on iTunes? Because I do.

Naturally Carlene lands the lead role despite opposition from Cricket, who attempted to bribe Amanda with dazzling stage effects. Ripp is cast as Jesus (a hilarious match) and Blake as a shimmering Lazarus; Cricket, stuck with the role of the Leper, quits in a huff. After getting another dose of Reverend Steve’s gloating (“We have a rotating platform and lasers. But hey, less is more. Sometimes.”), Amanda decides to plead with her teenage rival. She agrees to cast Cricket as the Holy Spirit, a decision which earns her full access to an array of flight harnesses and gobos (special theatre lights, y’all!).

Speaking of the word “y’all,” Sharon and Gigi took over B-plot land with Sharon’s disastrous attempt at promoting her Losin’ It With Jesus biblical diet on local Texas television. Sharon employs the talent of former pageant queen image consultant Gigi to make her “camera-ready.” Gigi’s coaching is unexpectedly brutal; she immediately requires Sharon to drop her voice, watch her hand gestures and cut out her signature “y’all” salute. But what will she end her sentences with now!?

Back at church rehearsals, where Ripp has been running things (“I asked myself, what would Jesus do? Turns out he’d direct.”). Big kudos to Mark Deklin and David James Elliott, who play Blake and Ripp, respectively; both actors are exceptionally amusing in most situations — especially when their scene-stealing female counterparts leave them wiggle room. Tonight they deserved just as much praise for thoroughly gut-busting performances, stemming mainly from Ripp’s ridiculous Jesus sight gag and Blake’s surprise vaudeville routine. (An episode highlight!)

NEXT: Stephen Blonde-heim? 

When Amanda informs Carlene that she’s swapped her starring role with Cricket, Carlene becomes the scorned diva and she storms off. Heather, of course, pops up out of nowhere (since Heather never really has anything particularly important to do) and finds herself on the receiving end of a typical Carlene Cockburn deal with the devil. In this case, Carlene offered Heather a primo position selling her Christian condos, and in exchange, Heather agreed to re-write the show to feature the Leper as the star.

Upon this dramatic announcement at the world’s most inefficient musical rehearsal, the show hits the fan: Carlene’s re-casting, Heather’s re-writes and Cricket’s reaction all blob together into one big mess for Amanda, and they accuse her of being her old high school self: Mean Girl Amanda! The horror! Que scandale! All the GCBs (except Sharon) decide to quit the show, leaving Amanda with no production, no cast and no way to demonstrate to Dallas that she is a good person, right?

Sharon’s Gigi-fied first attempt on the public shopping network is equally calamitous (she comes off like a drugged-up movie announcer). Humiliated, she runs back to her dressing room, where she reveals to Gigi that Zack’s car dealership folded and that her family’s livelihood rides on whether she sells her book series. Gigi realized that she can’t un-Sharon Sharon, and sends Mrs. Peacham back in front of the camera as herself, complete with “y’all” and all. The pep talk works, and Sharon sells 500 meal plans… which presents next week’s dilemma of Sharon having to figure out how to make a week’s worth of Losin’ It With Jesus meals for 500 people.

Pastor Tudor has a similar heart-to-heart with Amanda, who decides that the only way to get her cast back is to make things right with the GCBs — and that involved a bucket of mud and a cheerleading outfit. After sending surreptitious texts to Cricket, Carlene and Heather (none of whom bothered to question the source of their anonymous phone correspondence), Amanda walked out wearing her years-old cheerleading uniform and encouraged her erstwhile enemies to reverse the roles and dump mud on her, completing the javelina circle of life. (Anybody else love that the word “javelina” has become a thing?) A merry mud-slinging fight ensues, and the girls agree to return to the production, with only hours left to re-work the entire show. Man, television really has no respect for the theatre collective.

In the show’s grand finale, everything goes fabulously, of course, despite Bozeman’s priceless opening number and Carlene’s failure to fully defy gravity (she careens into the stained glass windows before hitting her final note). The GCBs are happy again, Amanda gets her big bow and Reverend Steve is left to sulk in his own dimpled melancholia.

Even though this week’s episode had the weakest dialogue to date (thus the reason why there’s no round-up of sound bites this week), it was more about the show’s enjoyably campy disposition — and it worked! GCB fans, let me know your favorite lines from tonight in the comments, and whether you basked in the mirth of another musically inclined installment from Dallas’s most ridiculous housewives!

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