(Haven't seen "Lost" yet, so this entry will present comments, in order, on "The Loop," "South Park," the "American Idol" results and "House.")
Why is "The Loop" first in the batting order today? No particular reason, except I liked that picture the best -- and it wasn't even from last night's episode, or even last week's. I'm capricious; sue me.
With only one episode to go and ratings so bad that it's almost certainly not coming back, I've realized that I'm really gonna miss this show -- not just because it's often funny, but because I remain in awe at the shit they're able to sneak past the censor. Two weeks ago (the episode pictured above), the writers set up an elaborate scenario where one of Sam's friends had to give him a hand job (off-camera, but still) to save his real job. Last week, they figured out an excuse for Mimi Rogers' character to stick her hand up a dog's ass (off-camera, but still). Last night was fairly mild in comparison, but it did have Sam getting his pubes disintegrated (semi-off-camera, but still), not to mention one female roommate referring to the other's snooch being visible (to her, not to us, but still).
Matt once had a long talk with the Fox censor, specifically about why "The Simpsons" seemed able to get away with so much. His response was along the lines of, "If I think it's funny, I'll let it slide." The thing that separates "The Loop" from your standard tasteless Fox comedy is that it's a smart tastless comedy, not a stupid one. The writers earned that hand job joke, just like they earned the dog joke (which also involved a wireless thumb drive that could still transmit so long as Sam kept his laptop right next to the dog's butt), etc. They put in the time and thought to set them up properly, so it wasn't cheap. (Well, the snooch joke was a little cheap, but I'll give it to them.)
Tonight's season (series?) finale -- titled "The Rusty Trombone," don't forget -- features a Very Special Guest Star who would have been a lot more special a year and a half ago (if you want to know, Google "Brett Harrison" and "roommate"). It's no "Arrested Development," but "The Loop" deserved better than Thursday burial.
Over on Comedy Central, "South Park" pulled off the double-switch. Since everyone was assuming they would do another Terrance & Philip stunt like they did with part two of "Who is Cartman's father?," they did it again, and after a minute or so of that to scare away the most gullible, they got back to "Cartoon Wars."
Not sure this needed to be a two-parter, though. Most of the points got made last week, and the only new touches were the presence of Bart Simpson (and he's done things much worse than decapitating Jebediah's statue) and Trey and Matt's acknowledgement that "Family Guy" may have some advantages over them: "At least it doesn't get all preachy and up its own ass with messages." Oh, and were all the people in the Al Qaeda video supposed to be recognizable? Dubya was obvious, and I spotted Carson from "Queer Eye," but it was late and I was too tired to freeze frame and study carefully.
Not much of a stunner on "American Idol." Bucky wasn't going to win, but inside his own unchallenging box, he's been more entertaining than Ace for a while. But we're now in that stage of the competition where the middle-of-the-pack contestants are in bigger danger than the awful people. I wouldn't be at all stunned to see Elliot and Katharine go before Ace, followed by a Paris boot before the inevitable Chris/Taylor/Pickler final three. Then again, Elliot and Kat seem better-equipped than most to kick ass on Great American Songbook Night (featuring the dessicated remains of Rod Stewart), so maybe they'll snare enough casual voters to hold off the latest object of Paula's obsession for a week.
And then, there's "House" (or "Maude," I forget). Good to see the doc and friends all clean up nice -- House's double-take at Cameron in the red dress was a nice touch -- and seeing House playing cards in that tuxedo, I couldn't help but wonder how much more fun "Casino Royale" would be with Hugh Laurie sipping the vodka martinis instead of Daniel Craig. ("The Gun Seller," the Laurie-written book I mentioned a month or two back, is basically a James Bond parody, which may have also put the idea in my head. The Bond movies are practically parodies of themselves, anyway.)
So of course, I make a comment in yesterday's blog about John C. McGinley generally getting more dramatic material to play than Laurie on a night when Laurie gave his most interesting performance since "Three Patients." House's patients have occasionally died in the past, but it was always because he found out too late what was wrong; to him, the unsolved mystery is worse than the unsaved patient.
After last week's Foreman-centric episode, this one started off looking like a House vs. Chase dynamic, with the cock-blocking at the party and Chase's bitching about House's Esther obsession. But they dropped that theme about a third of the way through, which is a shame; Chase's petulance and his longer history with House usually brings the funny. My eyebrow raised at Chase's reference to House having assistants before him, which made me wonder: what exactly is the chronology of House's time at Princeton-Plainsborough? It was unclear to me in "Three Patients" exactly when House suffered his leg injury, and as I recall, the episode implied that he wasn't on staff there at the time, but got the job out of pity (or to stave off a malpractice suit). I could be wrong, but the fact that Esther was his patient 12 years ago and someone who worked with both Chase and House knew about it started the mental gears turning.
Like I said, I'll get to "Lost" later today, and I'm annoyed that I gave up on this season of "Amazing Race" in the very week that I hear there was finally an episode with some good challenges and suspense. Meanwhile, links: Wednesday's column, in which I detail the stunning way by which ABC turned "Commander In Chief" from a show that was going to be around for years into something that likely won't be on next year's schedule; and today's column, where I revisit "Everybody Hates Chris."