Hellcats: What Are You Doing? Making Money From Guys Oogling My Goodies.

Documentary about Gemma Linkletter, a gymnast whose injury was used in a bid video in order to get the team to Nationals. The Hellcats realize what beat them and are upset because they are much more skilled. But they need a way to make money for regionals and nationals. Lewis suggests a date-a-thon.

Savannah wants to know why Marty has been sneaking out, texting all the time, and smiling. She thinks it’s the guy from law class but Marty says no. She’s been trying to avoid him because she doesn’t want him to tell the professor that she’s not doing the research she’s assigned. Marty insists there is no guy. In comes the guy from law class who wonders why she has been to the prison so often. Marty says she’s just been bringing him a guitar to make him feel human.

They discuss their date ideas. Lewis’s involves working out, Savannah’s involves a picnic, Alice’s involves a hotel room. Savannah tells Dan he doesn’t have to bid for her but he says he will. He then shares his thought that you shouldn’t plan for the future (an thus dislikes marriage). Savannah’s surprised by this and explains that she used to think she’d never have pre-marital sex. That might have changed not, but not if there isn’t even a possibility of marriage. Dan would prefer to take things one step at a time and not worry so much. Savannah is worried about the lack of plan but Dan prefers to keep things interesting.

Marty and Lewis are making out in the gym. Ok, that looks like more than making out. But they’re forced to stop when Vanessa comes in. This isn’t the first time they’ve almost been caught. Marty likes the danger element but Louis says the sneaking around can’t last forever. Marty doesn’t like everyone knowing about her life. At least they’re smart enough to head out before Vanessa coems back out of her office.

Time for the date auction which begins with a little dance routine. They’ve got quite the audience watching so in theory this should do decently. (Though I’m not sure this will make $5,000, each date starts at $50. How much money do the average college students have lying around?) The runway is a little slutty which is awkward but they also do some cool stunts. Odd how with Louis they suddenly start bidding but before that they just seem to magically have money. He gets bought by some old man, which is confusing. Alice on the other hand doesn’t get anyone but her boyfriend bids. No one would vote against him so she makes him go up to $300. Marty gets bought for $250 by that law class. Dan gets into a bidding war with some guy who then votes $500 for her. Dan obviously can’t outbid him and she shakes her head so he won’t bother trying. He doesn’t have that kind of money. It was her ex-boyfriend who doesn’t have that money so Savannah suspects her mother’s hand in things. The team is just short of the $5,000 and someone “bids” $825 for a date with her. The Hellcats need that money. Vanessa thinks it must be Red and she’s uncomfortable but her boyfriend seems calm about it. Vanessa and Marty’s mom Wanda share a bit of a heart to heart. Vanessa’s a little disappointed that her boyfriend wasn’t outraged at all. Wanda’s advice “don’t touch it and all’s well” (So many reasons why this sounds like a great plan. She’s right though, it was too easy to convince the bf.).

Vanessa shows up at home to talk to her mother in a fury. She didn’t want anything to do with her last time they spoke and now she’s butting into her life? Her mom says she didn’t mean it she was just angry but Savannah says she’s just concerned about her reputation in church. (Ah, the ex is the son of the minister.) Savannah says the plan won’t work. Her mother tells her to be kind to Noah because she’s already broken his heart once and Savannah leaves with a parting remark “good to know you care so much about everyone else but me.” (I like this backbone version of Savannah.)

Marty is unable to find information needed for the guy in jail that she’s helping. Louis comes in and they kiss but they are interrupted when Alice comes in. She doesn’t see anything but she seems maybe suspicious. Marty thinks it would have been a disaster if Alice had seen something. She doesn’t want people to know. But he wants to know if she’s getting cold feet. Meanwhile, Marty needs to go because Savannah needs her help. Apparently the house runs at her beck and call. Savannah wants to shock Noah so that he runs home and tells his father in hopes that her mother will hear about it. Marty says this is a bad idea if she wants to reconnect with her mother and Savannah looks doubtful but she gathers her resolve and goes for it in a “slutty” dress. Savannah acts like something of a jerk who is really into “irony” these days. She even pretends to be drinking tequila out of a flask. Noah doesn’t seem bothered and says he knows she’s acting. He also calls her Boots which is kind of cute. He says she isn’t a good actor. He admits that her mother sent him but she seems genuinely concerned. He wants to know what its like to be so unrestricted. Sometimes she feels a step behind like she’s being laughed at for not getting it. He makes her feel like she could say anything to him because they go way back.

Marty goes on her date meanwhile and she knows his game plan to try to get her to spill about the law class plans. He swears he won’t tell but he wants to help because then if they succeed they could be heroes together. It turns out Morgan wrote a bad check for the team and Marty storms out angrily.

Surprise, Vanessa’s secret date was her boyfriend! She’s dressed in sweats and just ran six miles because she thought it was Red and wanted to repulse him. They’re actually really cute together.

End of Savannah’s date. He still likes her and says she has a bad boy boyfriend but he has stability and a plan. Dating till graduation, a yearlong engagement, and kids. She stunned by this because it’s basically what she wants Dan to say.

Mrogan the law guy calls Marty up early. He found the home of the person Marty has been looking for. The moment they mention Travis, the guy in jail, she doesn’t look happy to see them. She insists her pay the $250 back to the Hellcats which they bargain down.

Savannah is in her room unable to answer the phone when Dan rings. She talks to Marty about it. Her whole life she was told she had to find a boy, get married young, have kids, etc or she’d be a bad person. She’s been putting so much pressure on herself to be a free spirit for Dan that Noah’s simple life is tempting. New relationships are scary. Marty admits to seeing Lewis. Marty is scared of love. Savannah is scared of the unknown. You have to do the scary things or you’ll be stuck.

Savannah makes another trip home to talk. She asks her mother if she has any idea how hard it was to leave. But she puts walls up whenever they try to talk. What was her mother hoping she’d accomplish by setting Savannah up with Noah. It’s not entirely clear here if the mother’s intentions are good or bad. She said she wants her to see that she can walk with god no matter what but from what we’ve seen Savannah has been doing this so really she’d judging Savannah’s lief and saying she isn’t “walking with god.” Her mother says God gives a clear path to happiness. But Savannah says she is happy, even if her path is scary at times. She believes she’ll be in the perfect place for her. Her mother says if she ever gets lost she has to promise she’ll come home. They hug it out and though that seems a little too easy it’s also a sweet moment.

Lewis and the team are in the common room so Marty takes that moment to kiss Lewis in front of everyone. Alice says he’s not relationship material but Marty isn’t bothered by it.

Savannah seems not to be upset with Dan if her kiss is any indication. He offers to take her on her dream date. She suggests just driving until they find somewhere. So…is this show saying you shouldn’t save yourself for marriage? That’s the message I took out of this. It would be nice if television could make this discussion into a dialogue not a hard-fast rule.

(This episode was a much quieter episode, sadly there was little to really make fun of. Which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure how I look at it…)

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General Recap

It’s been a while since I’ve really written about anything but Hellcats, so quick comments it is:

Gossip Girl– Who else felt the urge to jump up and dance when they realized that Jenny was pretty much gone. As an added bonus for this episode, Vanessa was MIA. The Chuck-Blaire-Jenny storyline was actually fantastic (and the only reason why bring Little J around is worth it is that she seems to attract scheming) and leaves the show wide open for new ideas. (Could it really have been that easy and that quick to end the Chuck-Blaire war?) Is anyone else sick of Serena’s plot lines? What I once found interesting about her character was how she was this out of control party girl who was trying to change, but that lasted only a little while. Now, her only story lines revolve around fighting with her mom (which is somewhat interesting) and sleeping with boys (which is getting lame). Everyone else has other problems of one sort or another, can’t she have some other issues?

90210– While Annie remains the most annoying character on the show, Naomi had become incredibly compelling of late. EW recapper may dislike seeing the softer side of Jenn, but I found it endearing that while she may be okay with messing with her sister, no one else better hurt her. It’s like a really screwed up version of the typical sibling relationship. I will say that the Ivy-Laurel-Oscar situation is more disturbing than anything else. Poor Ivy. Maybe we’re finally getting deeper into her character? I almost felt bad for Adrianna but aside from the fact that I don’t know how she possibly thought she wouldn’t get caught, she has now made her bed…As for Liam, stuck in the house of stalker-girlfriend should be interesting and you knew it was coming when he asked no questions before accepting. Meanwhile, where was Teddy, make Silver more interesting, get rid of Navid, and wonder about Dixon.

Chuck– People, if you are not watching this show, you are really making a mistake! This episode, dealing with Chuck’s mom was so interesting. I love how this show always examines the idea of family vs honesty. When you’re in the spy game, who can you really trust? Biggest complaint of the show: everyone keeping secrets from Ellie. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think she can handle it. And I think she can kick butt if given the chance. Plus Awesome has been missing for the past few episodes, which is sad. Casey using Grimes as bait though, genius.

Glee– Rolling Stones thinks the Rocky Horror episode was one of its best episodes. It may be true. But as someone who had never seen Rocky Horror (I associate it with the creepy kids who used to walk around in lingerie for the activities fair in college), it was just ok. I mean, it was fun, but it wasn’t anything special either. Adam Shankman did an excellent job though. I will say that the idea of having adults in the play was pretty disturbing and I didn’t find the scene between Emma and Schu to be any better. Time and place people!

Better With You– despite my earlier critique, this show has actually grown on me. The scenes seem to be a bit longer (or maybe I’ve just gotten used to them) and the show has hit its stride. Maybe not the best comedy out there, but it definitely has some good moments.

Raising Hope– this show has actually grown on me as well. Every grandmother scene makes me cringe, but otherwise, I like where things have gone. They’re still all incredibly stupid, but somehow it has become more endearing than annoying. (Take this week’s Halloween episode: The dad spent years scaring his son on Halloween so that his son would come home and hug him because he never hugged him anymore. There’s something oddly sweet about how screwed up that is.)

No Ordinary Family– Another show that more people should be watching. The show has started pushing into the realm of the bigger mythology aspects, which is always exciting, but the family drama is pretty solid as well. Daphne right now is pretty lame and could use something more interesting, but the others are much better to watch. EW seems to think JJ was on the road to evil because he kept his powers a secret and used them to get on the football team and do well on tests. The issue has sort of been relieved this week, but personally I disagree with the assessment. Everyone else used their abilities to succeed in sports or academia or some other area, why shouldn’t he? Should he not do well in school despite his ability to do well now, not get into a good school, and not put himself into a position where in the future he might be able to cure cancer or something simply because he has a special ability? I find his making the football team less plausible because even if you can read all the angles, having the ability to throw well enough or far enough or run far enough requires more than a superbrain. We never got the impression that JJ was particularly fit. In fact, they kept talking about how small he was, so how is it that when he got tackled by someone twice his size he was totally fine?

The Event– This show seems to be getting as many complaints as it gets viewers, but I haven’t been as bothered. Sure, it was annoying to have Sophia locked up because she was relegated to the role of “I can’t tell you the truth but I want to be your friend” and nothing more. It was a little frustrating to see Layla be little more than the damsel in distress, but I don’t think that her escape attempt was undermined by the fact that they planned it. Not everyone would have taken the opportunity to even try. And earlier she made an attempt without them planning it. Not to say it isn’t nice to see her out and free. Let’s just hope she gets to play a stronger role now.

Survivor– compared to the epic season last year, this one has been a relatively calm and lame one. I am not sure why they thought it was a good idea to have a young vs old season. Not to say that no old people can do well in this game, but a less physically demanding set of challenges gets boring after a while. Then there’s the question of what some people are thinking. Marty giving up his idol at the promise that he’d get it back next week, Naonka attacking a handicapped person with such fervor that you wonder if it was her religious calling, Sash not watching his tongue at tribal council…I love Jeff Probst’s comparison between Brenda and Parvati. He makes some good points. I think Parvati definitely has to be considered one of the, if not the best, player to have ever played the game. If I could vote on one player for them to bring back, Parvati would be it (though I hope she watched the last season’s tribal and learned what she should have said), though I think she’s done so well in the past that she might get voted out first just to make sure she isn’t a threat. There’s no one as polarizing and compelling this season as in others. I will say that seeing Alina cry actually made her more endearing. The only reason I don’t think it was an act was because normally we’d see a confessional with her saying so.

Caprica– not much to say here other than it’s a shame this show is going off the air (and bizarre that they are doing another Battlestar spin off considering the lackluster success of this one). The show has some solid points, though I wish it focused more on Zoe because it always felt like she was smarter and more complex than everyone else.

Vampire Diaries– Bringing Katherine into the mix and turning Caroline into a vampire were two of the best decisions this show ever made. (Clearly they were going to bring Katherine in eventually, but I’m glad it has happened.) I will say that though I really liked Bonnie in season one, she has really begun to frustrate me since her major anti-vampire crusade has begun. She, with all her history and all she’s seen, should know better than to lump all of them into one group. I’m glad Jeremy is no longer so mopey, but the truth is I’m sort of done with him. He’s never interesting except in so far as the other things going on around him.

Grey’s Anatomy– I absolutely love how this season has shaped up. Some people may say the show is past its prime but I really think this is one of its best seasons so far. Christina is a particularly fascinating case and despite my initial dislike of Torres going gay, I love her and Arizona together. I find Mark and Lexie slightly creepy because she could totally be his daughter, but she does have a good effect on him. The one thing that I feel like I’m missing right now is more Bailey time! Why has she only had a few minutes? (Still not a fan of Hunt-Yang, but fine, I won’t fight it for now.)

Private Practice– You know, a lot of people think this is just a poor imitation of Grey’s but I really find it enjoyable. Some episodes more than others. The Pete-Violet relationship is ridiculous, but I find Charlotte incredibly compelling (and can’t wait to see this storyline with her tonight) and even like how she is with Cooper. If they actually use Amelia, I think she could be an interesting character as well because she has a lot of crazy baggage. (Apparently so does Derrick, but who knew?) I’m sad that they totally dropped the ball on Betsy and kind of feel like it Sam in particular really screwed up. Dale died saving his daughter, Sam couldn’t save Dale’s? Naomi’s absence was oddly felt because this was a moment you’d expect her to be involved in. And have quite the say in. I would love to see Betsy back in a few years, totally screwed up and angry at them. Knowing Shonda Rimes, I wouldn’t count that possibility out.

Dexter– Julia Stiles welcome back! She has been fantastic as Lumen this season and the way her character interacts with Dexter is fascinating. I love Deb and hope her story picks up a bit. Frankly, it’s time her story be about something other than boys. I’m not sure what since she’s already done the victim thing and already worked for the job she wanted, but something’s gotta happen. What do you think would happen if she found out about Dexter and her dad?

Brothers and Sisters– I’m not sure why people are so upset with this current season. While I find Sarah to be a lamer version of herself, Nora as talk show host is just fantastic. The newest Kevin-Scotty drama is both endearing and upsetting. Just when I was starting to really like Scotty. I’ve never cared for Kitty so her story is neither here nor there for me, but I would be okay with getting rid of Luc. (Some people may find the accent thing sexy, for me it just gets annoying.) But even with these many issues, I still find the show compelling. It always has a couple good tearjerker moments and I love the family’s banter. I did miss Saul this week though and hope to get him back soon.

Nikita– I’m liking this show more and more as it continues (whereas I’m finding myself no longer watching Undercovers) though I still don’t find Nikita herself as compelling as I’d like. It really comes down to her protege. She is excellent in basically all she does and I can’t wait to see how they try to test her next. I also wonder how long her identity can remain a secret. Nikita employs a large degree of “idiot plot” (the only reason Alex’s cover works is because everyone around her, despite being a highly successful secret ops organization, is apparently too stupid to see her sending constant outgoing messages and being in the computer lab when she shouldn’t be. (Idiot Plot is my new favorite term.)

Project Runway– Ah the finale. While this season wasn’t nearly as compelling as some others (Heidi really needs to learn what the phrase “throwing someone under the bus” actually means and the talent was disappointing), there is enough there to pique my interest. The final runway this week should be interesting at least since they’ve got the three designers with the most distinct visions competing. It does seem unimaginable that Mondo won’t win, but hard to say for sure.

America’s Next Top Model– Ann’s awkwardness has finally found its weakness. We always knew what it was but it was well highlighted this week. Meanwhile, Kayla is excellent and I really hope she keeps strong. She might be my favorite, weird hair color makeover and all. Not many other girls who I find particularly great (oddly, all the international versions seem to get the more interesting and breathtaking girls). I don’t love commercial weeks. At the very least, I appreciate them having a photograph at the end as well and wish they’d opted to do that this season.

Anyway, that’s about everything. Any shows I missed? What have you been thinking about this season’s shows?

Hellcats: All In Favor Of Winning?

Just to prove how different Marti is, she’s the only one wearing a little black skirt instead of the little blue shorts. (By the way, how do they have both Alice and Marti performing? Wouldn’t that throw off the numbers and dynamics?) More issues with the volleyball team, in this case it is that the volleyball team wants to practice and the cheerleaders are still working. One girl seemed to be digging it but the seeming leader of the team was a jerk and actually threw a volleyball at Alice while she was at the top of the pyramid. (I will give it to Alice for landing in an awesome superhero pose.) I may not like Alice, but that could actually kill her. What would the girl do then? Apparently she’s super jealous because the cheerleaders get their own gym, dorm, and name while the volleyball girls had to sue to get funding for nationals. (Which was taken from the volleyball girls’ budget.) The volleyballers don’t think the female cheerleaders are athletes, which sets Savannah off and gets Alice to convince her that a flag football competition is the answer. (Savannah, flag football is about speed and endurance, just run around the giants…) Savannah looks particularly midget-like in this scene, but Alice looks about the same size as the volleyballers (what are the odds that she would be a flyer then?). There’s also that larger girl on the team who should be well suited for gymnastics. Things I don’t believe about this scene: I doubt any mere college student would ever attack a girl while in front of a staff member in the athletics department, NCAA or not. I doubt a college girl would speak the way this volleyball girl did to a staff member. I doubt that the coach would just let it go that the volleyball girl threw a ball at a girl on the top of the pyramid who had just come back from an injury, simply because the girl said she was fine. I mean, there are other things, but these are really big issues for me.

The volleyball girls are apparently intramural flag football champions. Even Savannah’s mother knows that. If the cheerleaders lose, they have to cheer for the volleyballers in their underwear. Same in reverse. Savannah felt that she had to back Alice because of what happened with the bid video. Savannah remains optimistic. If they beat them, no one can say they aren’t athletes. Marti’s mom likes to think of them more as special dancers.

Lewis coaches the girls (its girls only). Alice can throw. Marti can catch (because naturally she must be skilled at everything). That’s about all the talent they have. (Isn’t it weird how Marti starts doing some cheerleading?) Lewis says they have things the volleyball girls don’t have: trust and focus. That obnoxious footballer comes to interrupt and Alice goes off with him. Alice tells him to stop provoking Lewis. He says he can’t help it. Alice was glad to see her come out. Her boyfriend, meanwhile is coaching the volleyball girls. Alice is upset and wants him to quit. He says it’s a stupid game. She cares! He says no one else cares about the game. She tells him if he’s not with the girls, he’s not with her. She definitely comes off better in the exchange and you can’t help but appreciate her.

Lewis arrives at home to find…his father chucking a football at his face. He catches it so no worries. An envelope of money was in the mailbox. Why now after two years? Lewis thinks it’s Red. His dad says he’ll take care of it but Lewis says he’ll handle his own mess. I’m not entirely sure what the problem here is but I guess we’ll find out. Lewis goes to talk to Red and says he won’t come back. Red says he doesn’t want him. Red claims he knows nothing about it. Lewis says he quit because of dirty football. Lewis believes that he had nothing to do with it and they go to Bill (head of the athletic department?). They are pissed. Bill implies that Lewis’s dad has something to do with it and Lewis storms off angrily. Red wants to know what’s going on. He wanted to play football clean. He wants to know all the first in the program, which apparently requires a drink.

Marti is riding around to her lawyerly friends. The teacher is not as charming as he thinks he is, he’s like overly smooth. (It’s like a bad imitation of Nathan Fillion.) Naturally, something lawyerly conflicts with Marti’s flag football game. It’s a career building opportunity! Marti says she promised and she’s needed. She’s told to “sick out” and to stop thinking like a cheerleader because that is all she will ever be.

Lewis comes to talk to his dad about what Bill said. His dad gets defensive, which means he’s guilty. His dad reveals that his hours at work have been cut back. The neighborhood is having issues. His dad had been the one who told him to quit the team when the pay for play program began. Lewis says his father’s been blackmailing the team–being paid to keep quiet. His father challenges him by asking him what he should have done. Lewis says he doesn’t know but he’s knows this is wrong.

Marti pretends to be sick when Savannah comes in for practice. Savannah is awesomely supportive and wants to bring her tea with a parting comment of “we’re dead without you.” Of course, Savannah spots Marti packing and she claims to be going to her mom’s. Savannah is more observant than that. Marti says she’s never seen Savannah crack a book, she doesn’t understand. Savannah says she plans to open a cheer camp and pass the spirit on to kids. This is what she wants to do with her life. Marti says this is just a scholarship for her. Savannah says they need her to win. “What happened to positive outcomes only?” Savannah’s best line yet: “I’m an optimist, not an idiot.” (She really has, surprisingly, become the most multi-dimensional and interesting character. Hurray Ashley Tisdale.) But even so, Savannah covers for Marti and remains positive in front of the team (which Marti overhears.)

Alice shows up at her boyfriend’s to seduce him into cheating in some way. Get his plays? Get him to throw the game? Well, she waits until he’s asleep and then takes pictures of his playbook. (FYI, it’s not so easy to take quick pictures of a bunch of lines on a piece of paper.)

Vanessa is dancing by herself in the half dark gym. And she’s quite seductive about it, considering. Naturally, Red sees her and comes over to watch. Music magically stops the moment she sees him. They discuss the dirty football issues. Lander is on probation but the boosters are concerned that they’ll lose players without it. If football dies, so does cheerleading. Bill is too arrogant to think he’ll get caught. Red wants to win on a level playing field. Vanessa says he should surround himself with people he can trust. He has her…as a friend.

It’s raining but Savannah insists they carry on. Alice wants to cheat but Lewis and Savannah refuse. It wouldn’t prove anything to cheat. She forces Alice to agree. Flag football always seemed harder to me than tackle football; grabbing a little flag seems more difficult than tackling someone (I say that as someone who is about Savannah’s size, probably a bit shorter). The girls are easily getting crushed as no one can catch but Marti. At the end of the first quarter it is 14-0 volleyballers. In comes Marti which boosts everyone’s confidence. Marti didn’t choose cheerleading over lawyering, she chose Savannah over lawyering because she’s a good friend.

With Marti, they kick butt. Lewis calls the play…throw to Savannah because Marti as their best receiver, will be triple teamed. Savannah hasn’t caught anything all day but not seems as good a time as any so she does. and then she just stands there until the other girls remind her to run. In that one moment, the girls win and it’s even kind of cute to see Marti, Savannah, and Alice hugging. Red comes to compliment Lewis on his coaching skills. Lewis’s dad has asked Bill to stop spending cash, Red shares.

Lewis is staring over his computer looking for a job to help his family pay their bills. They used to have everything. But then life happened. It got bad right when he got accepted to Lancer. He must have known what was going on and looked the other way. Marti helps him feel better because she totally gets the allure of Lancer. (Does this mean she regrets not doing the lawyer thing?) She leans in to kiss him but he’s not into it. And then he decides he is. Cue Alice walking in. No? That would have been more awesome.

Alice and the quarterback walk and he tells her he saw her taking pictures. Had she cheated, they’d have lined up wrong because the quarterback switched the plays.

Lewis goes home and talks to his dad. His dad is sorry he had to see him desperate. Lewis says he will get a job to help out. He wasn’t there for the family and he intends to be now. He has a job idea…which is? Football coach? Sure enough, Red is watching video tape when Lewis comes in to tell him how to read the players. (Another thing I don’t believe: Red is supposedly one of the best coaches in the game, but Lewis, who is like twenty and has maybe played a year or two of college ball, is giving him tips?) But you know it would be awesome to see Lewis coach thee QB. Lewis’s idea it to get hired to log tape because Red doesn’t have time for it all himself. Lewis watches from the sideline anyway.

The volleyball girls do their cheer in their underwear, which Alice tapes. Vanessa isn’t there because she’s waiting for the bid winners to be announced. Savannah can feel it that they’ll make it. In comes Vanessa…who doesn’t look thrilled. They placed sixteenth, just outside the number of available spots (see, this is what should have happened to Emily when it came to the National team…or at the very least, the world’s team). The girls wonder how they will pay for nationals and I say, start fund-raising like people on other college campuses do. So as the volleyball girls cheer for them, the Hellcats glare back.

So far I am left with one question: will they have Ashley Tisdale sing on the show? They had Aly Michalka sing and allegedly Tisdale can sing too…

The Challenge: Cutthroat

A new challenge has arrived and once again MTV has changed the format. I’m not sure if they think they make it more interesting by changing it up or if they just don’t feel like they’ve quite gotten the right format yet, but the Fresh Meat format is my least favorite, so I’m glad for something new.

This time around, there will be three teams. Each week, all three compete in the challenge. The team that wins gets immunity and $20,000 while the two teams that lose must vote a guy and a girl into the Gulag (that might be worse than Survivor’s Medallion of Power…) where they fight to stay in the game. One guy and one girl will go home after every Gulag. (I don’t want to say every week since they sometimes leave it as a cliffhanger. For some reason they think that makes it more exciting.)

Oh, did I mention, the votes are cast in secret (taking a page from the Survivor handbook huh?) The response to this bit of news: so I can tell them one thing and do something different in the vote!

In another unexpected twist, the contests aren’t divided into teams before the show starts. Instead, they race to the house and then the three losers (shockingly all girls) are made team captains and pick the teams.

For some reason they’ve decided to hold this challenge in Prague (Czech Republic). I’m not sure why. I’ve been there twice and it certainly has areas of interest (mostly for Jews who want to see the place the Nazis in WWII wanted to preserve as a sort of museum), it’s not exotic the way Jamaica (Battle of the Sexes) is.

The Cast:
Red Team
Brad Fiorenza
Brandon Nelson
Camilla Nagakawa (team captain)
Chet Cannon
Dunbar Flinn
Mandi Moyer
Melinda Stolp
Paula Meronek (is it a bad idea for her and Dunbar to be on the same team)
Tori Fiorenza (yeah, she and Brad are married)
Tyler Duckworth

Blue Team
Derrick Kosinski
Emily Schromm
Eric Banks
Jenn Grijalva
Johnny Devenanzio (bananas? how will he do without his usual posse?)
Katie Doyle (she just loves the abuse because I don’t think she’s ever had a good experience on the show yet she keeps coming back)
Theresa Gonzalez (apparently the resident mean girl)
Ty Ruff
Derek Chavez
Emilee Fitzpatrick (team captain)

Grey Team
Abram Boise
Ayiiia Elizarraras
Cara Maria Sorbello
Dan Walsh (newly recovering alcoholic–it’s always nice to see people from these shows grow up)
JD Ordonez
Laurel Stucky (so glad she’s back, maybe people will be nicer to her this time around and maybe she’ll decide it would be smart to stop drinking)
Luke Wolfe (let’s see how he does now that there’s no Evelyn–not saying she carried him through all the time, but sometimes…)
Sarah Rice (glad to see her away from Kenny)
Shauvon Torres (team captain, of implant popping fame)
Vinny Foti

Now to this week: the usual partying and drinking takes place, during which Theresa accuses Camilla of being a thief and a bunch of other girls decide to jump on the bandwagon. Paula steps in to tell her not to let them bother her, they are just trying to upset a newbie. Laurel meanwhile gets drunk and challenges Shauvon to wrestle. Shauvon, perhaps fearing another implant malfunction is not keen on the idea. (Or perhaps just worried that Laurel will kill her, because she could.) A sobear Dan wants to prove he’s still fun so he goes streaking.

The challenge: run into a gas chamber (this is so tactless MTV, think about where you are!) to get numbers that will allow them to unlock the diagrams for how they should assemble their giant puzzle pieces. (No one should ever come to a challenge without buying one of those small versions of the blocks and practicing.) Perhaps surprising everyone, though not me, the grey team won the first challenge. (I mean, they have Abram, Laurel, Sarah, and Luke who are all solid and this wasn’t a challenge that required much more than a cool head)

The Gulag: Brandon and Camilla are voted in for the red team, Derek and Emilee are voted in for the blue team. All newbies, notice. I don’t understand why the new competitors allow this. There are a good number of them (well, there are eight of them but I guess they are spread out). It is basically a cycle of bullying and mistreatment. Take Theresa as the perfect example. Last season she was the newbie and had to put up with being bullied and this season she begins the bullying first. Anyway, the challenge is to wrestle a a ring away from their opponent. Whoever manages to secure five rings first wins. The red team sweeps and blue team ends two members down.

I’m interested to see how this season will play out though I am sad that some of my favorites are MIA: Ev (she did say it would be her last challenge), the Miz, Ruthie, Coral…

Hellcats: Well that’s why you’re the captain, captain.

Dan-Savannah-Alice-Marti: Marti awakens to find Dan sleeping on her floor and is none to pleased. (Would Savannah really let him sleep in her room and not make him say, sleep on the couch in the common room? That’s what common rooms are for in college, especially when you’re as inexperienced as Savannah.–this seems out of character for Savannah but seeing as she tried to slap Marti in the first episode, which seems EVEN MORE out of character, I suppose we can’t hope for too much consistency in her character) Marti once again warns him not to hurt her. He suggests trying to be more innovative with the bid video and whether she actually thinks its a good idea or she is too distracted by love, she agrees. Alice on the other hand is none too thrilled. She wants to play it safe and do it the way it’s always been done. She riles up the team and gets them to vote against Dan’s idea. (Even Marti voted against her but that’s because she feared that she would get blamed for Dan should things go wrong. Still, traitor!) Savannah trumps the vote, using her captain’s rights. So Alice takes it to the Coach Vanessa who agrees with Savannah. She tells Alice to be a team player and warns Savannah that she’s losing the team’s confidence. Read: lost it. (Savannah gets a little mean and says Alice is not captain because no one likes her, which is true, and when she tries to apologize Alice shrugs it off.) The video footage is awful because no one was confident in the idea. There’s no time! Alice wants to call a no confidence vote in Savannah to get herself elected captain. But Savannah and Alice reluctantly team up to re-shoot the video and fly it down to the selection committee just in time for the deadline and the team votes to keep Savannah as captain. Marti also tells Dan she misses having him all to herself. That’s a little bit inappropriate. Waiting for Savannah’s heart to get broken…I kind of wish they hadn’t rushed into the Savannah-Dan thing and had let it take long than episode two to develop.

Vanessa-Derrick-Red: the storyline no one cares about…Red tells Derrick he intends to win Vanessa back, earning him a punch in the face. Vanessa begs Red not to ruin Derrick’s career so he gets Derrick a promotion to full time staffer (which means working closely with Red). Vanessa doesn’t want him to take the job for fear of what would happen if he and Red spent too much time together but Derrick decided she really had no say and accepted. Interesting, causing tension by doing something nice. Red can’t really come out looking worse in this situation.

Marti-Inmate: Marti goes to the jail to visit the inmate whose sentence they are working to reduce. The guy insists he’s innocent and Marti wants to help him but her professor says that isn’t what they’re working on right now and that’s what everyone says anyway. She decides to help him on her own and start by bringing him her guitar so he can play again. It’s nice but also a little weird. I hope they don’t end up having a thing…

So that was it for the episode this week. Marti’s mom was MIA (which is more than okay by me) and Lewis was sort of irrelevant, but considering that he still likes Alice (actual feelings not just “I think she’s hot” feelings), he’s a moron and not worth the time. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe she has some good qualities. If we could see some though (it’s like Lauren on MIOBI but worse because we don’t see ANYTHING redeeming–though to be fair, so far Lauren has done the more despicable things).

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Better With You, take two

I was speaking to a friend this week about all the new shows this fall and she was surprised to hear that I didn’t like Better With You. She and I normally agree on TV (especially comedies) so I decided to give it a second shot and I think I’ve figured out what bothers me.

1) The scenes are two short. It feels like they’re going for the easy laugh. I get that the point is to show the different between the three couples, but for me it just feels like they’re jumping from part to part too quickly (like the Harry Potter movies).

2) There is no character that is really grounded that we can relate to. In Big Bang Theory there’s Leonard (and you might argue Penny), in Friends there’s Ross (and maybe Rachel), in How I Met Your Mother there’s Ted…but it feels like Ben and Maddie are supposed to be the ones we can most relate to but the truth is they’re just as out there. (Not to say the grounded couple is the one that most people enjoy the most, but it’s sort of the normal within the crazy.)

3) I’m missing the character development for the majority of characters. Think of this week’s Cougar Town. Jules is dealing with empty nest syndrome because Travis has gone to college. By the end of the episode, the father’s been told to grow up, Jules has been reassured that she will have someone with her, Travis calls on his mom for help, and Jules’s boyfriend opens up a little more (he’s reserved because his wife walked out on him). That element of the show is missing for me. The characters feel like jokes rather than well rounded.

Not that there’s nothing good about the show, but it isn’t anything special. I will say that episode 3 was the strongest episode yet and headed in the right direction.

General Recaps

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Tod Margaret– I had the chance to finally check out this new show and I wasn’t impressed in the least. It was basically just watch an ill-qualified idiot be given more responsibilities than he can handle and see him fail. There wasn’t really anything funny about it and much as I love British accents, that wasn’t enough to draw me in. None of the characters were compelling or made me want to watch more.

Glee– Before I even mention this week’s Grilled Cheesus episode, I wanted to talk about the Britney/Brittany episode. TV guide complained that Heather’s vocals are weak, but if we’re honest with ourselves, so are Britney Spears’s. I remember when Baby One More Time was popular, we got one of our teachers to listen to the song and she said: “well, it’s fine, but why does she whine so much?” What the episode did showcase was Brittany’s awesome dancing, her body (which is better than Spears’s ever was), and her awesome stupidity. I didn’t really expect more out of the episode, though I do agree with the assessment that I prefer songs directly related to what is happening and given the number of songs Britney’s put out, it shouldn’t have been all that difficult to manage. On to this week, I really liked the conversation about religion though it would have been nice to hear about the actual Jewish side of things (Rachel for example who cares enough about Judaism to want her kids to be raised Jewish though not enough to date/plan to marry a Jew). As always, Kurt was fantastic. Anyone notice that Rachel is much more stylish this season?

Running Wilde– hasn’t gotten any better really. One of the faults of the show is the daughter’s voiceovers. She’s just got no comic delivery (though she doesn’t have much to work with)

Raising Hope– It’s starting to grow on me. I’m not sure why though. I did like the baby getting lost in the Hoarders’ closet. Interesting that the mom kept all that stuff because she hoped for something better, I don’t think that’s what it’s about for most hoarders.

Parenthood
– Continued solid performances by all involved but I don’t like how Amber has been mostly MIA lately. Bring her back! I liked seeing Gabby get stuck dealing with Crosby and I actually kind of hope they bring Gabby in more. The kid who plays Max is fantastic and the episode about Adam trying to bond with him was really one of the best.

Brothers and Sister– I still think this is some of the best writing for TV dramas. Thank you college roomie for insisting I watch it. (If you haven’t watched it, start from the beginning and give it a couple episodes before you decide.) Not a huge fan of Sarah’s bangs and the daughter’s haircut is pretty awful. I surprisingly don’t mind Tommy being gone but I do miss Saul and Rebecca.

Chuck– I never thought I’d say this, but I really enjoyed Nicole Richie’s performance. Her dynamic with Sarah/Jenny is fantastic though from what we’ve learned of her past I can’t imagine her as a punching bag. I would love to learn more about her. I don’t really get this ever changing agent Greta thing, but that’s ok. I do miss Elie and Awesome.

Outsourced– I’m ready to cross this one off, now that I’ve given it a second episode. This season’s new comedies are just not doing it. How did they get so many great shows last season (Modern Family, The Middle, Cougar Town) and have so many blah ones this season?

No Ordinary Family– I didn’t love this episode the way that I loved the pilot, but it was still enjoyable. I particularly liked the mom tripping over a bicycle while running at superspeed (didn’t anyone ever tell her to watch where she’s going?) and it did help us discover that she has a Wolverine healing factor (or a cheerleader’s). EW talked about JJ’s ability as cheating, but I have a different take on it. Aside from the fact that I’m not sure he can turn his ability on and off, is it cheating to use his own abilities?

Life Unexpected– it’s unclear to me why exactly Lux didn’t want Tash to stay with her newest foster family (was it because the woman was awful or because the woman had been a mother figure?) I miss Cate on the radio but I suppose this woman does bring new drama. My question is how the listeners feel about it. The decision to fire Cate seemed almost arbitrary, like it was a personal vendetta and not a business decision.

Nikita– learning what we did about Alex was really interesting (and even better that Amanda recognized that she was lying despite an excellent acting job). I really like the flashbacks and wish we could learn more about Nikita and why we should really feel for her vendetta (not in the sense that I don’t think Division is bad and needs to be brought down, but in the sense that I don’t buy the love story).

Dexter– There’s something fascinatingly disturbing about Deb’s blindness when it comes to Dexter. How can she, being so close to him, think he is the strong, supportive older brother? Can anyone with so little humanity really fake it that well? Seeing Dexter with Cody was great though I can’t pretend I’m sorry to see Astor go. There’s only so much pre-teen melodrama a person can take.

Undercovers– another show where I found the second episode slightly less appealing that the first. I think my main issue here is that there isn’t any real tension between the main characters. Everything was just a little ordinary. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either.

Vampire Diaries– if there’s one show that’s really kicked it up a bit (despite a sadly departed Anna), it’s this one. The Katherine vs Elena scene was great and I think I actually believe Katherine loved Stefan. Of course, Katherine’s version of loving isn’t so loving, but that’s a different story. I like Caroline the vampire when she’s struggling with her feelings for Matt, less so when she’s Katherine’s puppets. Why not come clean and get help? I miss the Bonnie of old, this new, moody, vindictive one is tiring.

Gossip Girl– Serena’s storyline is just dumb. I appreciate that she’s meant to be the hot wild child, but really, I prefer her storylines to revolve around her sordid past, fighting with her mom, and fighting with Blaire. And if they must do a love angle for her, perhaps one that brings in a new character. I’m so sick of Dan and Nate. (Nate for his lack of personality and Dan for…liking Vanessa.) I did feel for Dan losing “his” baby. The Blaire-Chuck dynamic has taken an interesting turn. A part of me didn’t think Eva would really be gone or expected him to fly after her or something, but instead he’s decided to go to war against Blaire. Should be interesting. You know, Serena and Blaire fought to get into that exclusive society and now there’s nothing about it.

90210– Adrianna is so dumb that I kind of feel like she’s getting what’s coming to her. But then, her new manager is so slimy that I kind of feel bad. As always I don’t care for Annie so her selling her eggs, besides being stupid and so illegal since she’s probably not old enough to do it (where will she do it?). Silver’s was sort of background this week. All she really did was make situations that allowed for other people’s drama. Ivy’s sex insecurity can only get better now that Dixon has found out that he might be HIV positive. How paranoid will she be when he either doesn’t show or doesn’t want to have sex? Liam and his brother was just eh. Naomi was also sort of a non-entity this week, but she’s been fairly interesting in the last couple weeks so I forgive her.

Grey’s Anatomy– I still mostly don’t care about Meredith, though I will admit that I like how she interacts with Christina. Speaking of, how did anyone think Christina getting married was a good idea or that it was something she wanted/was ready for. I’m guessing the writers will make it work, but I don’t believe it. (I don’t particularly like Hunt so that could be part of it.) Her reaction in the OR was so compelling and was definitely one of the moments of the week. I also liked Lexie-Mark (or lack thereof) for its complexity and Arizona-Callie for its sweetness (even though I had a hard time believing Callie was gay, I like their relationship enough to not care). I’m actually quite impressed with this season so far. I think cutting out some of the new cast from last season was really smart and the fallout of the shooting has been masterfully done. The thing I am most excited for: Amelia’s arrival. Which leads me to…

Private Practice– this show has had its ups and downs and it seems like the Grey’s-Practice writers were murder happy last season. The Violet-Pete relationship is still pretty awful (because though I liked the actress as Amy in Judging Amy, I find Violet grating and Pete so much better than her) but I love the way it interacted with the Coop-Charlotte relationship. I really like Charlotte and she did a great job this past episode of becoming more human while implying that she’d been that way all along. I don’t care for Naomi or Sheldon, but I must admit Addison has grown on me lately. I like Sam though I do hope his storyline doesn’t become all about him and Addison and nothing more. (Same goes vice-versa.) Though sad to see Dell go, I do accept the reasoning, better to get rid of a character than force storylines that are bad. Plus his death was pretty heart-wrenching and unexpected. Finally, I’m thrilled that Amelia has become a permanent cast member, it’s like another link between this show and Grey’s but still natural.

Cancellation note: Huge, Lonestar, and My Generation have so far been canceled.

What do you think? Any shows you didn’t like, shows I should give a second chance, or shows you think I should be watching?