And now for the shows I actually watched live (or close to it) last night. Spoilers for, in order, "America's Next Top Model," "Kid Nation," "Gossip Girl" and "Top Chef" coming up just as soon as I pretend to get a tracheotomy...
I'm in general an "America's Next Top Model" agnostic, tuning in a few times a cycle to laugh at the models being stupid and/or the photo shoots being creepy (crime scene photos! gender-bending!) but never caring enough to make it appointment viewing. But dammit, stupid Tyra Banks has made me care by casting Heather, the girl with Asperger's. I know enough people with various degrees of Asperger's that I want to see how she does, even though I could easily predict everything that's happened to her so far: from the other girls being that ignorant and mean about it (particularly the one who whined that she wouldn't want Heather to "cling" to her, which misses the entire point of Asperger's) to the fact that Tyra's going to keep her around for a while for uplift purposes. Still, getting the first photo callout (and the other girls' reaction to same) was a nice touch, and while I don't expect her to win, she does take a good picture and I guess I'm around as long as she is. (Prettiest/most model-y girl by far? Lisa, but, like that awful one with the purple weave said, is Tyra -- sanctimonious, Oprah wannabe Tyra -- really going to pick an ex-stripper?)
And I think I've seen all of "Kid Nation" that I need to. It's kiddie "Survivor," and while the To Eat Or Not To Eat dilemma plays out a bit differently with kids than it did between, say, Kimmi and Alicia, the show's neither appalling nor exciting enough to be appointment viewing.
I'm not at the quits stage yet with "Gossip Girl," but my feelings remain the same as they did after the pilot: it's a very well-executed teen soap with almost no adult appeal. For me, most of the fun comes from noting the minute variations between it and "The O.C.," like how the brunchers were all agog at Dan simply shoving Chuck, when the Newpsies would have needed Ryan in a full-out brawl to grind to such a disapproving halt; or (as Fienberg noted when we talked) how Penn Badgley makes a much less amusing Adam Brody substitute than Zachary Levi on "Chuck." (Also, I like how Dan's hair grew eight inches since the pilot, which took place the night before.) I continue to suspect that Chuck is going to get the Luke treatment and be portrayed as not such a bad guy (for a date rapist, anyway) by mid-season, but I don't know that I'll still be around by then.
Finally, "Top Chef" winds up with what most of us assumed would be the top three (since Tre went home, anyway), but with some curveballs along the way. Casey had been edited as co-frontrunner with Hung for a while, but the comments about her elk being too rare seemed like the closest thing to a harsh criticism any of the Elimination dishes got, and I briefly thought she would go home instead of Brian "Elk isn't seafood" Malarkey. And what's up with a challenge like this so late in the competition? It felt like last week's challenges signaled a move away from the gimmicks and towards some serious kitchen artistry now that we were close to the finale, but now we're back to things like cooking fish next to a river or trying to please a bunch of rodeo types with game? (Also, way to complain about Hung's lack of Vietnamese cooking during an Elk challenge, Colicchio. Are you going to spend next week whining that Casey shouldn't cook pan-Asian because she's a white chick from Dallas?) Dale acquitted himself well with his Plan B, but the editing has been hammering home the Hung's technique vs. Casey's artistry for so long that I can't see him being a factor next week.
What did everybody else think?