Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kiss My Bass

This week could have been a real downer, marking the end of the holidays and the beginning of the great gray beast known as January. But luckily TV was there to cushion the blow: Gossip Girl and Nip/Tuck both returned! (Gossip Girl’s only been off the air since just before Christmas, but Nip/Tuck was MIA for nearly a year! Stupid writer’s strike.) Neither debut was particularly exciting, but it’s good to see both series back on the air. After all the drama of the last GG, it was perhaps inevitable that this one would feel anticlimactic. Dan and Serena *finally* got back together, but more importantly—Rat Boy is gone! Greasy grimey Aaron will never be seen again. (Huge sigh of relief.) Apparently the producers didn’t like the character any more than we did, so they decided to ax him after the last ep. Of course, we all knew Serena was ready to ditch him for Dan anyway, and it’s nice that they just embraced and resumed their coupling rather than put us through any more will-they-or-won’t-they bullshit. Not that the obstacles are over for the twosome: Rufus scolds Dan for being alone in the apartment with Serena (?!) and Dan suspects his ire at Lily is at the heart of it. The two snoop around seeking answers, only to uncover a map of Boston and a 617 number (yeah 617—represent!). Turns out Rufus hasn’t been looking for “an artist”—he’s been calling adoption agencies. Of course we all know why, but Rufus is forced to tell Dan the truth—that he has a half brother he’s never known. (And yes, we now know that it’s a boy after Lily let the pronoun slip.) Which means: More Ickiness For Them. They share a half sibling! It’s bad enough that their parents are locked in a deathless star crossed romance, but this one could be a real buzz killer. Dan nearly tells Serena, but Rufus calls him last minute and asks him not to, declaring, “It’s not your secret to tell.” Still, Serena’s not likely to stay in the dark for long, not in this gossipy crowd, anyway.
Speaking of Serena, why do I get the feeling that everyone around her is secretly standing on milk crates so that she won’t look so freakishly tall? Watch carefully and you’ll note that while Blake Lively is often seen walking away or towards other characters, they’re never seen full length beside her. Guess the producers don’t want the cast looking like Cousin Itt next to Lurch. (Not to compare Lively’s looks to Lurch’s—the girl’s a regulation hottie.)
Meanwhile, Little J was saddled with a pretty lame B plot—a vain attempt to save dorky Nelly from the hands of her heartless Mean Girl “friends,” particularly Queen B Penelope. (Side note: this show really needs to diversify. The only two characters of color are Asian doormat Nelly and black—and usually silent—bitch Isabel. Two of the biggest Gossip Girl fans I know are black women—so get a clue, Josh Schwartz and co.!) After witnessing Nelly being forced to wipe yogurt off of Penelope’s shoe at Pinkberry (and don’t even get my roommate Patrick started on the inclusion of Pinkberry), Jenny intervenes, using Nelly’s Gretchen Weiner-like knowledge of the clique to win her better treatment. After threatening to text Gossip Girl sordid deets (i.e. Penelope’s affair with one of her daddy’s colleagues), Jenny is offered the chance to lead the group—but flatly turns it down. Her efforts are lost on Nelly, though—the little wuss still wants to be one of the club! She rushes off to be Penelope’s slave again, while Eric congratulates Jenny on her newfound strength and integrity. The best parts of this mostly forgettable arc: Blair dismissing the girls’ high school squabbles as beneath her and Jenny’s transformation out of those horrid bangs and raccoon eyes. She’s also re-enrolled at school, which means her wayward rebellion phase has officially passed.
In Chuck and Blair Land, we first see Chuck in—an opium den! Patrick wondered if opium dens even exist anymore, but I can’t think of a more appropriate place for him to be. (Complete with geishas, of course.) He’s been AWOL since leaving Blair that note last episode, but his uncle, Jack Bass, finds and brings him back to Manhattan. The actor playing Jack—sexy in that older man way—looked so much like Bart that I thought the two actors must be related, but apparently the resemblance is just casting serendipity. He seems like a charming, fun character—like Chuck without the standoffish vibe. Good thing he’s around, because he and Blair add backup when Chuck’s dragged before the dean for smoking pot (!). Of course, Chuck calmly torpedoes their efforts to save him with his all-too-glib attitude, though he does score a lot of sympathy for the whole mourning thing. Meanwhile, Blair's all concerned about being admitted to a ritzy women's org (ergo her lack of concern over the Mean Girls' kerfuffle) but realizes almost as soon as we are that they're unforgivably lame biotches. For one thing, these middle-aged chicks are all wearing ARGYLE! Every single one of them! The only one who can get away with that kind of wardrobe is Chuck. For another, it's not long before they're trading pithy bon mots about Serena and especially Chuck. Blair finally stands up and tells them all that her friends are great people and that she loves Chuck-- then races off to his side! Go Blair. Whatever you can say about her, the girl's got integrity these days. Near episode’s end, though, Blair makes a doozy of a revelation, asking Jack not to tell Chuck anything about “what happened between us.” Say what? In the latest incident of Gossip Girl incest, she and Chuck’s uncle hooked up! Which makes sense, in a weird way: Chuck wasn’t available, Jack was, and the whole thing has that quasi-comforting Next Best Thing vibe. Of course, Chuck—who nearly falls off a roof before being coaxed down by Blair’s tearful declaration of love for him—probably won’t take too well to all of this. “I’m Chuck Bass!” he shouts on the roof, before adding, “Nobody cares.” (Honestly, the line didn’t really work for me. It seems like they only did it because it would look good in promos.)
At episode’s end, Rufus has finally convinced Lily to join him in a search for their long lost son; Lily had explained earlier that the adoption was closed, so they’ve got an uphill battle finding the kid. Lily joins him in a car with only one suitcase, as compared to the eight or so she brought for their ill-fated weekend getaway; “That was a fun trip,” Richard explained. “This is business.” Still, Lily wore heels; have fun clomping around Beacon Hill’s cobblestone streets in those, Van Der Woodsen! Next week’s installment looks promising, with plenty of drama involving Blair’s dalliance with Uncle Jack.

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