Lots and lots to get to, and while few of them are thematically related, I don't have time for many, many posts. Actually, the best thing I watched all night was a review screener of "The Office" episode airing May 4, which is the funniest damn thing I've seen in a long time, but I can't write more about that now. In order: "The O.C.," "Survivor," "South Park" and "Alias."
"The O.C." is really frustrating me lately, because parts of it are just good enough that I want to keep watching, while others are at the same baffling, cringe-inducing level that's typified most of seasons two and three. If the show would just be bad all the time, I could walk away, but it keeps teasing me with these reminders of what it used to be like.
The good: The return of Anna, even if she was there as Seth's fairy godmother/plot device, and even if I'm puzzled by how Samaire Armstrong now looks like she's using Drea de Matteo's stylist and sounds like a cross between Drew Barrymore and Kellie Pickler, neither of which were true as recently as her time on "Entourage." Wha happen? Also good: Ryan happy. I feared we were going to get back on that cosmic treadmill where, just as he's breaking out the smile, someone slips a flaming sack of karmic crap next to the pool house door. On the other hand, given Theresa's history with honesty and this baby, shouldn't he ask to see a copy of the paternity test?
The bad: I hate, hate, hate plots that only can continue if the characters involved won't sit down and talk honestly for, oh, three minutes. All Seth friggin' had to do was blurt out the phrase "I didn't get in!" during that walking tour, and we could move on. This is all just dumb and protracted.
The unknown: because it was late and because I just don't care anymore about certain characters and subplots that have been on this show for far too long, I fast-forwarded through every Marissa scene that didn't feature Ryan or Summer, and every Sandy and Kirsten scene whenever it became obvious that it was about the hospital storyline, so I have no idea what happened with any of it. Did Ryan's freshman buddy turn out to be a jackass?
You watch "Survivor" long enough, and you can pretty much tell by the pacing when there's not going to be a Tribal Council for some reason. With the way the episode was moving, plus Bruce's intestinal distress, plus that long-ago teased footage of someone being med-evac'ed out of the game, I think we all knew where this was going. I'm assuming he's going to be well enough to return to the jury at some point, if not in the very next episode, then before the end (and they can show him the raw footage of Tribal Council at the hospital in the meantime to keep him as informed as the rest). Otherwise, what's the option? Bring Nick back? Have an even-numbered jury pool and risk a tie vote for the million bucks?
Not an especially satisfying ending, but one of the most entertaining iterations of the chopping challenge to date. Because Terry was the only obvious target, once he went out, it got ugly in a hurry. Loved seeing Courtney and Shane wig out over the answers, loved that Cirie knew everyone would have picked her as the least likely to survive on her own (and Aras picking Terry? WTF? He may be a sucky strategerist, but in terms of survival ability, I'll pick Top Gun over the leaf-phobic, the nicotine junkie, the hippie who wants to hold a sacred burial ceremony for every dead creature and plant on the island, the Boston chick who hasn't done squat from day one, the 57-year-old man with the rock garden, and even the yoga dude who loves to sleep in the teepee in his daddy's backyard).
Loved pretty much all of it, even though I'm not sure how much it changed anything. Shane's a tool, but I do believe he was playing Aras and Cirie -- as we all know by now, he's a sometimes actor, and that interview he gave about what he did was one of the few times since the season began where he didn't seem like this character he'd invented to go fame-whoring with Johnny Fairplay for the next five years. Bruce was the only one who would have had his feelings hurt by being targeted quickly, and that's moot. So the only real fallout is Courtney's flakiness -- and if Shane thinks she's his best final two partner, he'll have to screw over his two strongest allies to bring her there. He's not that dumb, even if he believes they could be the first alliance to survive the post-merge game intact. (Um, Tagi? Porno Brian's group? Team Tom?)
Now, where does this week's "South Park" rank among the show's freakiest? Above or below Lemmiwinks? In case you didn't see it -- and, if not, you'd better hurry, as this may join "Trapped in the Closet" on the Never To Be Re-Aired list very soon -- what started as a parody of the James Frey/Oprah controversy turned into a surreal hostage drama involving two of... um... Oprah's orifices, each of which spoke with a different British dialect. ("Gary," and you know what that is if you saw it, sounded a bit like Terry Jones playing the mom in "Life of Brian.") I really don't know what else to say about it, except that I think Trey and Matt may have been smoking Towelie for the entire writing period.
And, finally, "Alias." I had basically given up on it a couple of years ago, stopping back in every now and then to see if it made any more sense or if the producers had just introduced another Everything You Thought You Knew Was Wrong evil conspiracy to distract the audience from the fact that they had no idea where the plot was going. (I'm thinking that, at the end of this season of "Lost," Kate is going to wake up in an alley behind the hatch with a scar on her belly and a few missing years in her life.) But I figured I'd stick around for this five-week curtain call and... I just think I've outgrown it. Lena Olin and Victor Garber are awesome, but my mind kept wandering and wandering and wandering. What's the name of the new evil group? The Fifth Pope? The Seventh Seal? Shark Sandwich? Whatever it is, anytime anyone mentioned their name, I zoned out. Out of nostalgia for what I used to like about the show, I'm going to stick around till the end, but if the remaining time commitment were more than a month, I don't think even Jennifer Garner in another rubber dress would keep me around.