‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ Episode 4.17 Review: Reunion Part 1

Part one of The Real Housewives of New York City season four reunion provided for over an hour’s worth of content of 40+ year old women shouting over and at each other. Nothing positive came out of the reunion. In fact, certain relationships were confirmed to be strained for the long haul. Kelly and Alex as well as Jill and Alex will not becoming friends anytime soon if anybody had any doubts. Cindy also has no plans to befriend Sonja, Ramona, and Alex. While it is natural to see that every woman will not become friends with each other, the hostility between the women is what disturbs me the most.

All season long, it seemed to be the wrong place and wrong time to confront people on certain conflicts. Every one except for Cindy seemed to agree about this, although Kelly did not say anything. Even still, the way that these conflicts were handled in whatever environment the women were in was not well. This group might be a group full of successful business women but they do not succeed in being civil amongst each other. The common courtesy and support as hard working mothers and wives is thrown out the window when gossip gets in the way and feelings get attached to meaningless things that were said. Although it doesn’t help to heal from certain words when Kelly is sitting on the couch denying that she gossiped about Sonja right after a clip was shown of her doing such. Whether o rnot Kelly’s words were taken out of context, even the Countess agreed that Kelly’s remarks were inappropriate.

The women were very respectful and quiet when host, Andy Cohen gave Sonja the floor to talk about declaring bankruptcy and her marriage. You could probably hear a pin drop during her tearful speech. Not only has she gone through the ringer, but she made a point to say that she is not the first person to make a bad investment. Through their silence, it was clear that the ladies felt empathy towards Sonja’s current predicament, but that silence did not last long. Sonja may have gotten a silent crutch from the women on the business front but she should hold off on expecting another crutch. Although it is worth mentioning that Sonja can afford to live the high life without the money that it takes to live it through making deals with the many contacts that she does have.

There was also a fun homage showcasing Ramona and Sonja’s friendship and a homage to Kelly being the voice of reason but aside from that, Alex made sure to get involved and lend her voice to every question Cohen asked, directed at her or not. Needless to say, the women became very irritated with that, as many viewers surely were too. It’s as if Alex came in with an agenda and was already fired up about defending every little thing even before reaching Soho to begin filming. So this makes it quite ironic that Alex was so bent on correcting Kelly, Jill, LuAnn, and Cindy but was more than eager to forgive Sonja for the MENY March confusion. Now friends, she can easily brush that incident over and leave it in the past. Really, the only person she is hurting is herself by picking and choosing who she will forgive and respect. When Alex said that it was okay to yell at women, all of the ladies perched up and forward, waiting for clarification. When she said it again, the ladies all said, “Oh” and held the “oh” for a bit and sighed in shame and pity for her. It’s clear this is not her best season on the show. She has been seen in better light before.

“What would a season be without Jill and Ramona going at it?” – Andy Cohen

And the story behind the purpose of Ramona’s wine at the Anti-Bullying Event is quite a mystery. While that is not where Jill and Ramona’s conflicts stem, the setting of this conflict could not have been any clearer of a mirror as to the relationship that Ramona and Jill have. The mention of Bethenney Frankel was anticipated but thankfully her name did not make for the topic of discussion for too long. Dwelling on the past for so long is unhealthy, so it was great to get back on track with the current cast. Though great might not be the best word since nothing positive came out of this reunion. While there is much to like and much to dislike about every one of these women, there is not much to change in thinking after this reunion. Perhaps that will change in part two?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the The Real Housewives of New York City Reunion on Bravo.

*Photo Credit: Heidi Gutman/Bravo

‘Alphas’ Mythology Emerges, Upcoming Guest-Stars include Summer Glau, Brent Spiner

alphas cast

Syfy’s newest hit show, Alphas was greeted with open arms at Comic-Con International this past weekend. Executive Producer and writer Zak Penn (X-Men Last Stand), showrunner Ira Steven Behr (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine) and star David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) to discuss their show. In their panel, Behr revealed upcoming guest-stars will include Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Firefly), Garret Dillahunt (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Raising Hope), and Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Penn tried to separate Alphas from the comparisons to the X-Men by saying that “The X-Men weren’t fighting crime, they were protecting themselves.” Since Alphas is more rooted in the real world, part of the motivation of these characters is using their powers to get paid. Penn told me in the press room that hopes that as the series progresses, people will see how far a departure this is from his previous work on X-Men Last Stand and The Incredible Hulk. Other comparisons have been made to Heroes and The X-Files, but Penn reassured viewers that they wanted to stray from any kind of pattern including the “alpha of the week,” and Syfy allowed them to serialize the characters.

zak penn alphas comic-con 2011
Photo by Lucky Bronson

Ira emphatically said ‘Let’s not do an alpha of the week. Let’s not ever fall into that pattern. Let’s try to do some different types of shows and keep the audience guessing.’ Sometimes there’ll be no alpha at all. We’ll always have our characters and they’ll be doing things, but it’s never just going to be My Dinner With Andre with our characters. It varies. Sometimes they’re going after a bad guy, or someone with an alpha skill. But sometimes it’s just how these people deal with the various things on their plate. We’re trying to mix it up so it doesn’t feel incredibly familiar.”

If you saw this week’s episode, “Anger Management” then you saw the reappearance and end to Agent Wilson (Callum Keith Rennie, The Killing). Wilson is just one of the many agents who have come in and out of the young timeline. When I asked about what the role of these agents will be for the overall arc, Penn shared with me the beginning of the conspiracy/mythology, Dr. Rosen’s angle and role of the government agents.

First of all, yes, you are going to see various beaureaucratic types throughout the show.” Penn said. “One of the things we want to capture is normally the govt isn’t run like Charlie’s Angels where there’s one guy. There’s a beaurrcacy at work here and that Rosen has to navigate through. We’re into the banal humorous side of beauracy. You would have different people would show up for different things and there’d be screw-ups”.

Summer guest-stars in an episode whgere there’s a lot of departmental confusion about what’s going on. And you will see them again as well as some surprising things that happen to those different suits.They’re recurring characters that will help or hinder our progress.”

Again in “Anger Management” Dr. Rosen seems to have his own agenda with the alphas sent to Binghamton and that he’s not just a tool of the government. “We promised David that this guy cannot be black and white,” Penn said. “He has multiple motivations, he does not always make the right decisions. He’s put himself in a pretty uncomfortable situation where his goal is to be a therapist to these people but then he has to send them into danger. Some of them, Gary in particular, is totally inappropriate to be sent into danger. Rosen knows that. There’s this constant struggle between on the show on what he’d like to be doing and what he’s eing bforced to do.I can assure you that is going to play a significant part in the mythology of the show and where the show goes by the end of the season.”

There’s definitely something much bigger at play and even though it seems early on that it is an “alpha of the week” type of show, the larger story is starting to creep in. We’re seeing more and more of the alphas juggling their personal lives with their jobs for the government. Binghamton is becoming a larger and looming presence.

ira steven behr alphas showrunner comic-con 2011
Photo by Lucky Bronson

Behr talked about holding back the mysterious compound Binghamton, to the very end of this season. When I asked him whether or not we’ll see the alphas that have been taken away to Binghamton or the ones used in government field operations, he spoke about one of the few battles with the network that they lost.

One of the things I said to the network at the beginning of the season was, ‘Yes, we’re going to talk about Binghamton but we’re not going to see Binghamton.’ We want to see it in season 2 and leave some ammo in the pouch for later on. I didn’t want to do it because there’s all these questions about what it was. They didn’t like that…”

Behr began to babble, mocking what the Syfy’s reponse, “Blah-Blah-B-b-b-b-b-Binghamton. And the next thing you know we’re breaking down a show where you see the inside of Binghamton. It’s the realities. So it’s always tough to say what you will and won’t see because there people who have opinions wear suits. Their opinions do tend to steer the ship whether you like it or not. I can’t say for certain what we’re going to wind up seeing. One of the cool things though you will see, is that it’s not just be the government vs. Red Flags and Rosen’s team, there are alphas out there doing other things.

david strathairn alphas comic-con 2011
Photo by Lucky Bronson

Other Comic-Con Alpha-Bits:
• Some of the real world inspirations for David Straithairn’s portrayal of Dr. Rosen include Richard Feynman, Oliver Sacks and Werner Herzog.
• We will find out what Nina did in her past that made her believe she would be sent to Binghamton.
• Straithairn would like to see at some point the Dr. Rosen’s motives are. “That’s a storyline bubbling in there,” Straithairn said. “What exactly – if it’s ever exact – might be more depth to his motivation and his agenda?”
• It is believed, for now, that Rosen is not a womanizer (as I speculated last week) despite him flirting with Gary’s mother and walking around in speedos in in the pilot, “I don’t think it was something apropos of the character… yet. Maybe.” Strathairn said. “I think that may have been one of these little ideas that they wanted to play with but I think that was a banana peel they didn’t wanted to step on, nor did I.”

Personally I disagreed with Strathairn here. I found it a nice quirk (if it should become one down the road) that usually gets swept to the side. It showed that Rosen did have a life outside of his work and is not some sexless, monk-like leader. He’s a human being.

• Abilities will contained and related to neurochemistry. If they cannot be drawn to science, they are thrown out. For example, you won’t see someone flying. — Hey, it worked for Smallville for years.
• The network and the producers of the show bantered about where the team would operate. The script said that they rent offices in a strip mall because the NSA and a group of analysts can’t afford a giant glass-steel headquarters. Penn said that there will be a constant struggle over the course of the season to get the office fully equipped–particularly from Bill Harken (Malik Yoba)–saying that they need security. ‘Can we exist in an psychiatrist office space?’ will become an issue.”

Again a great win by the producers. I’ve noticed in the pilot that their low-rent, low-cost methods feel authentic. I love that they ride around New York in a mini-van. The frugal methods make Alphas that much more endearing and relatable science fiction to viewers who may not the biggest fan of the genre.

‘Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition’ Episode 8 Review: “Krista” (Season Finale)

The season finale of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition followed a 34 year old mom, Krista, who has focused so much of her care to her 6 year old health stricken daughter that she has abandoned taking care of her own health over the years. Krista weighed in at 445 lbs. and over the first three months of her weight loss journey, lost 100 of those pounds. Given the remarkable achievement, Chris Powell awarded Krista’s family a second car, which helped her in her search for a job.

What a clever play on cars, as Powell ended up making Krista push him (while inside a car) across a 1.5 mile race car track in Texas. There are thin people who are just as out of shape as Krista is that cannot do that, so Krista is definitely to be commended for pushing an entire car across more than a mile. Perhaps the strength and drive that Powell saw here encouraged him to buy Krista’s dream wedding dress so that Krista and her husband could renew their vows after her transformation. While a wonderful gesture, it seemed like too much too fast. Perhaps he could have waited until the 6 month mark to give Krista this surprise.

Perhaps the feeling of acknowledgement seemed to come on too fast because of Krista’s lack of exercise and drive. Three weeks after ignoring Powell’s calls, Powell had to pay Krista a surprise visit only to find out that Krista gained 25 lbs. After participating in what seemed to be an incredibly challenging half marathon for Krista at Disney Land, viewers found out that Krista lost 45 of her 60 lb weight loss goal at in phase two. The next phase was more unsuccessful, as Krista found herself having gained 30 lbs. Krista’s final weigh in came to 265 lbs and while quite an achievement this is, better time management and a refusal to allow excuses to determine her days could have put her in the low 200s, high 100s. Needless to say, it was odd to have this episode, which was not nearly as encouraging as the first four episodes, air as the season finale. Krista is an example of weight loss accomplished and yet there is still so much more to lose if you don’t lose the rest of the excess weight and so much more to gain if you do. What did you think of the season finale?

SDCC: Danica McKellar’s Miss Martian & Superboy Turn Up The Heat Vision on ‘Young Justice’

DANICA MCKELLAR YOUNG JUSTICEDanica McKellar (West Wing, The Wonder Years) visited Comic-Con International for the first time to meet and greet her Young Justice fans. Her character, Miss Martian/M’Gann M’orzz is the niece of Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’ozz on Earth 16 and is the main female character on the show, drawing much interest from Dick Grayson and Wally West. Instead it’s Connor Kent (Nolan North, Wolverine and the X-Men) who she has her Martian eyes set on. It’s been gathered that they might be some romance between the two characters but McKellar revealed a teaser for of Young Justice, set to resume airing the remaining 16 episodes of Season One later this year.

When I asked her if she record her lines for the movie by herself or with her fellow cast members she said in person, especially with Nolan North. “He and I almost always record together,” McKellar said. “And it’s good too because we’ve (our characters) got this romance going on and I can tell you that there’s going to be a kiss. In fact, the kiss is real. They had us kiss in the booth, which is very rare. In voiceover, they always have usually asked to kiss (the top of) our hand [demonstrates].

But they said, ‘it doesn’t quite sound right.’ At the time I was eight months pregnant so I was like, [drawing with her hand how big her stomach was] “Well, sure!” but Nolan felt all weird about it. “Are you okay with this? This feels wrong.” Yes I’m okay, I’m an actress, I’ve done this before.’ It’s a sweet kiss but still a very real kiss in the booth.

danica mckellar young justice 2Concerning her character, she believes that Miss Martian has two sides to her personality, the insecure teenager and the super-hero. McKellar also tries to bring more of herself in the role so that there is more truth to her performance. She looks for certain sides of her personality and she said that the side of her personality that is a teenager is still very much alive.

“For the super-hero I lower my voice a bit, and get a little tougher and have fun with that. For the insecure teenager, which is a majority of it, she’s very near and dear to my heart. There’s probably a lot of Winnie Cooper of her. When I played a teenager, I was a teenager on television. Now I write books for teenager girls math books. That teenage life is still a very big part of my life. Maybe I’ve never quite left the teenage years.”

Moonlighting as a mathematician and author of math books for girls, McKellar shares the duality that Miss Martian has for a long time. She relates to her a lot, managing those two sides.

“They work hand-in-hand, as a teenager you often wish you were other people so that part of her personality blends in seamlessly. She wants to be accepted by her teammates.”

“Also, one doesn’t change the other. They may influence the other. She can be super powerful and save people and move things with her mind but she gets flustered when she’s in the same room as Superboy.”

Sigh. It’s not easy being a teen-aged superhero.

PSN Gets Taken Over AGAIN! This time, by ‘Dead Island’ Zombies

The PSN has been riddled with problems in the past, but this time it’s facing the worst invasion, yet. Zombies! Dead Island zombies to be exact.

dead island zombies psn

Deep Silver has just announced that Dead Island, it’s upcoming zombie action-adventure game will be taking over Playstation Home. This game is probably the most hyped and anticipated zombie game of the year. The publisher’s story trailer was a viral hit over the Internet, delighting undead fans with a brilliant cinematic sequence presented in reverse order.

dead island

Shortly after the game is released in September, a Dead Island themed mini game will become available to Playstation Home users. The mini-game will allow gamers aged 17 and up to play 10 mini-game challenges in 4-player co-op. Gamers who complete all 10 challenges will receive a special “Exploding Meat” weapon that can be used in game. Outside of the typical zombie mayhem, you will also be able to take a picture with a zombie and test your zombie IQ for receive 4 free PlayStation Home rewards. If you’ve ever had that debate with friends about how well you would or wouldn’t survive the zombie apocalypse, you fill get your first “official” test here.

Deep Silver is further interweaving the Dead Island experience into Playstation Home by making Playstation Home exclusive items. The developer also has plans to introduce more levels on a weekly basis and unlockable items. Hopefully, this won’t be paid DLC. If you pre-order Dead Island through the Dead Island themed kiosk in the Central Plaza you will also get a special “Exploding Zombie Outfit.”

‘True Blood’ Episode 4.5 Review ‘Me and the Devil’

Finally!

Last night’s episode of True Blood gave fans the relief they’ve been waiting for, the much-talked-about-but-never-happening Eric and Sookie hookup. Unfortunately, there are some clouds on the horizon, with Gran’s omen, the threat of more witches, the relief will be short lived.

The opening scene was more action packed than usual with Tommy (Marshall Allman) finally killing his father Joe Lee (Cooper Huckabee) out of self-defense and accidentally killing his mother in the cross fire. We all know that if a shifter murders a member of their own family they have the power to shift into humans. There are certainly some interesting story lines to explore with Tommy. It also looks like he and Sam (Sam Trammell) have more in common, although no one really cares.

Creepy baby Mikey is still at it. Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Terry (Todd Lowe) decided to perform an exorcism on their house like in Poltergeist. It would be nice to see the two of them calm and happy, but it’s most likely not going to be the case. I think the baby is fine; it’s the creepy doll that’s evil. Let’s hope that’s true for Arlene and Terry’s sake. If not, it’s always funny to watch Arlene’s over the top superstitions.

Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) decided to skip town to check out Jesus’ Abuelo in Mexico. Jesus’ back-story with his grandfather was boring. Some grandparents take their grandkids fishing; some take them to slaughter a goat, to each his own. But the part where Jesus killed a goat and felt magical was a little too much. (What’s with this fantasy with killing something and gaining new powers?) Either way it looks like this new trio of Lafayette, Jesus and Gramps may be conjuring up some interesting magic. Maybe they can give Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) his memory back.

How could we forget the moment that was four seasons in the making: Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Sookie (Anna Paquin) finally getting together. I wasn’t too happy with the scene. The way she was holding her arms out to him seemed more awkward than romantic, it took me out of the moment. Their kiss was steamy though and Sookie as big spoon to Eric while they were in bed was too cute. The romance can’t last for too long. We all know Bill (Stephen Moyer) is on his way (thanks Pam) and the scene with Marnie (Fiona Shaw) channeling Gran was too chilling to ignore. When Gran tells you to run, and not to fall in love with Eric, you listen.

Bill isn’t going to take any of this lightly, especially with his position over Eric. The previews for next week look intense. Hopefully there will be a good fight between Eric and Bill or at least more Eric and Sookie action.

BBC America Looks to Expand Roster of Original Content with 5 New Pilot Orders

Today, BBC America announced 5 new original pilots in development: James May’s Man Lab U.S., AUTO Biography, Battlemodo, No Kitchen Required and Shock Therapy.

This is BBC America’s first major push towards being an original content provider. In the past, the network has focused mostly on airing shows that launch in Britain first and are then aired months later in America. However, recently there a few shows have had simultaneous premieres on both BBC and BBC America.

So far there is no word yet on created any scripted dramas to match the high caliber of shows on BBC. However, should these new pilots garner success, we may indeed see new series pop up on BBC America.

James May’s Man Lab U.S. is produced by Plum Pictures and based on Top Gear presenter May’s successful British format of the same name. In the U.S. version, James comes to America and teams up with an American sidekick in order to help his transatlantic brethren rediscover and relearn the skills that define what “being a man” is all about. Executive Producers for Plum Pictures are Will Daws and Stuart Cabb.

AUTO Biography (wt), produced by Reveille, takes a ride down memory lane to track down the lost history of an exceptional vintage car. It’s Who Do You Think You Are? for cars as the host traces a vehicle’s family tree and meets the previous owners along the way while the vehicle is simultaneously restored and refurbished by our resident garage. The restored car will be reunited with one unsuspecting previous owner. The executive producer for Reveille is Heather Schuster and co-executive producer is Matt O’Brien.

Battlemodo, produced by True Entertainment in association with Gawker Media and its tech site Gizmodo.com is a field-based, hosted hour that takes Gizmodo’s recommendation and testing techniques into the real world with epic battles between two cutting edge products that reveal once and for all which is best. Executive producers are Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock from True Entertainment and Gaby Darbyshire from Gawker Media.

On the competitive food front, BBC AMERICA follows up on the success of its Gordon Ramsay programming with No Kitchen Required. This single episode format drops four chefs into some of the world’s most remote locations and challenges them to create a meal for the local community, putting their own unique spin on native ingredients. Produced by Notional, it features award-winning New York chef Michael Psilakis, who also serves as producer. The on-screen talent includes chefs Madison Cowan, Kayne Raymond and Dominque Crenn. Executive producers for Notional are Chachi Senior, Dave Noll and Cleve Keller.

The channel has also ordered a one hour special/back door pilot of Shock Therapy, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and adapted from the BBC UK format, Fat & Fatter. The special aims to help addicted young people by pairing them with an extreme version of themselves in order to “shock” them to change their lives and habits for the better. Izzie Pick Ashcroft and Jane Tranter are executive producers.

BBC America also announced that the network will launch two new original series later this year: Would You Rather with Graham Norton and Hard Drive with Richard Hammond.

BBC America Inks 2 New Original Series for Graham Norton and ‘Top Gear’s’ Richard Hammond

BBC America is expanding their roster of original, unscripted content.

Fans of Top Gear, one of the longest running and best shows on automobiles, will be delighted to know that Richard Hammond will host a new show called Hard Drive with Richard Hammond. The show will feature Hammond battling it out with local driving experts across the U.S. in car competitions. The pitch is similar to Throwdown with Bobby Flay. But instead of cooking up extraordinary dishes against top chefs, Hammond will face off against US drivers while showing off some of the best cars around. There is no word yet on whether The Stig will make an appearance, but we can always hope.

Graham Norton will kick off a comedy game show later this year called Would You Rather with Graham Norton, featuring the best US comics. Usually, you comedy competitions involve amateur talent looking to be showcased. This show will pit Norton’s outrageous interview style against the wits of US comedians.

Regarding the new shows, BBC America’s General Manager, Perry Simon stated: “Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay and Graham Norton continue to deliver ratings and strong ad revenue. It makes sense to offer our viewers even more of what they love about the channel by developing compatible original programs featuring some of our biggest stars. But this is just the start. Our development team, Richard De Croce, Rachel Smith and Erin Jontow, is already working on the next raft of titles including BBC AMERICA’s first original scripted series.”

‘Breaking Bad’ Episode 4.2 Review: ‘Thirty-Eight Snub’

The shocking murders of Gale (David Costabile) and Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) hung in the air like the stickiness of a humid summer’s day in “Thirty-Eight Snub”. The aftermath is fraught, filled with reflection, acceptance, and most importantly, preparation for the inevitable.

Breaking Bad has never pretended to be a spiritual show. Yes, it started off with Walt (Bryan Cranston) receiving a dreadful diagnosis of lung cancer but spirituality has never been truly in play. And yes, Walt went into the meth making business in order to leave a nice nest egg for his family after his (what he thought was to be soon) passing but he never once contemplated the philosophical concerns of “what next?” He went from one day into the next, more worried about money and not getting caught then trying to answer that question. The first scene of tonight’s episode, where Walt meets with an illegal gun salesman (played by Jim Beaver of Deadwood & Supernatural fame), is the closest Walt has ever been to figuring out his own “answer”. And that answer is to kill Gus Fring.

To protect himself and Jesse (Aaron Paul); to protect everything they’ve worked so hard for (illegally, of course), Walt practices for what seems a no-brainer of a task of shooting Gus point blank in the head, much like what Jesse did to Gale. Pulling out his revolver from its holster his currently one of his pillars, his daily ritual. Now all he needs is an audience with the big boss. Mike (Jonathan Banks), who’s busy trying to keep his own wits about (and trying to get Victor’s blood off his jacket sleeve), won’t grant him that audience. Not only does he see the attempted murder of Gus as a stupid move, a part of him blames Walt for the predicament everyone is in now, as we can now all attests to the beatdown he gives Walt in the bar. (A couple of blows to the head and a couple of kicks to the chest was Mike’s way of baptizing Walt. Whether or not Walt joins the choir is all a matter of debate.)

In the meantime, the cold, stoic Jesse of last week is no more. He pays off Andrea as a means to end their relationship. He starts to do meth, even coaxing recovering addicts Badger and Skinny Pete into doing bumps with me (and talking trash about zombie video games). And he throws massive house parties that go days at a time. He does all of this in order to not deal with his demons, his past misdeeds, and the images of Gale and Victor’s bloody bodies. He is a soul that’s lost, like a lamb that wandered from its flock. There is no telling when he’ll be found.

Another person who’s feeling lost is Hank (Dean Norris). Sure, he puts on a smiley face for his physical therapist but he shows his truly sour side to Marie (Betsy Brandt), his wife and everyday cheerleader. He’d rather deal with his crystals (all pun intended, I’m assuming, on the writers’ parts) then look his wife in her face. His resentment of her is overwhelming, to the point that she’s on the constant verge of tears. His resentment of himself is on the cusp of a full-blown depression.

The only one who seems to still have it together is Walt’s new business partner, his estranged wife Skylar (Anna Gunn). She wants to buy the car wash that Walt used to work at and she does some pretty thorough research, even coming up with the exact price the place is worth (and throwing in an extra $50,000 as to not be insulting). But there is a hitch in her plan: Bogdan won’t sell to Walter White. He’s still angry that he quit without notice, cursed him out, and grabbed his crotch. Knowing Skylar, there is probably another trick up her sleeve.

As you can see, nothing plot-wise really happened in “Thirty-Eight Snub” but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good -– even great –- episode. We got insight on these characters as they still reflect on what has happened in the aftermath. They’re praying for a better day. Unfortunately, those prayers don’t look like they’ll be answered.

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Episode 8.3 Review: ‘Palestinian Chicken’

“The penis doesn’t care about race, creed, and color. The penis wants to get to its homeland. It wants to go home.” – Larry David

Curb Your Enthusiasm, by all definitions, is the quintessential Jewish-American comedy, harking back to the East Coast sensibilities of great comedians from the past like Mel Brooks (who guest starred in Season 4), Woody Allen (who directed Larry David in Whatever Works), and Neil Simon –- even though the show takes place in Los Angeles. The show is essentially about a man (David) who comes from a historically oppressed group who becomes successful and now finds himself hanging out with the upper crust of American society, the very people who would have oppressed him if he were not successful. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water scenario which for David — and for the amusement of Curb fans — is the cause of many of his frustrations (look up Allen’s IMDb page and every one of his movies is a variation of the same theme).

Curb has dealt with, and satirized, the Jewish identity in the past, most memorably in the episode entitled “The Survivor” (where Larry is led to believe that his rabbi was bringing a Holocaust survivor over as a guest to dinner party he and Cheryl were throwing but instead he brings a former contestant from the reality show Survivor). In “Palestinian Chicken”, Arabs get some ribbing as well. As a matter of fact, the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict gets the Larry David treatment, and deservedly so.

First, let’s talk about the real elephant in the room: Larry David is dating again! Sure, his new lady, Shara (Anne Bedian, Lost), the owner of Al-Abbas Chicken, might be a tad resentful of what she perceives as transgressions being committed against Palestinians by Israelis (“Do you want to f*** me like the Israel f***s my country?!”, she says in bed) but what does a little hate between partners do except to make the sex that much better? (She’s even got Larry singing post-coitis).

What makes “Palestinian Chicken” one of the best Curb episodes since last season’s “The Table Read” is that fact that Larry could give a rat’s ass about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Not only does he like the hot, venom-filled sex with Shara but her chicken is the best he and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) have ever had. It’s so good, in fact, that she is going to open up a second location, this one by Greenblatt’s Deli –- the best Jewish delicatessen in Los Angeles. The very idea of a Palestinian restaurant being near a Jewish restaurant pisses off Larry and Jeff’s Jewish friends (including a now-devout Marty Funkhouser, played by the scene-stealing Bob Einstein). In a brilliant satirical turn, they organize an anti-chicken protest, which is reminiscent of the last year’s hatefest that was spewed at the Park51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan by The TeaParty. (Nice, Larry David: spoofing two conflicts for the price of one.)

Though Jewish identity played a big part of tonight’s episode, the main theme revolved the relationships Larry and his friends have with the fairer sex. The Arab and Jewish women that are in these men’s lives are pretty similar. If it wasn’t for her ethnicity, Shara could fit right in with the acid-tongued Susie (Susie Essman) and her friend Eileen, who do nothing but bust their husbands’ balls. So much so that Eileen’s fed up — yet very frightened – husband, Ron, asks Larry to “socially assassinate” her (call her out bluntly, Larry David-style) for saying “LOL” instead of laughing at others’ jokes, in exchange for paying for the damage Larry had inflicted on his car. Larry agrees to the terms and tells Eileen off, but she can see right through him and realizes that Ron was behind the “hit”. To get back at him, Eileen starts an affair Eddie (Larry Miller), a friend who is also in Larry’s circle. (They even secretly meet at Al-Abbas, thinking that no other Jewish person would dare step into a Palestinian restaurant, and thus no one would see them and run and tell their spouses.)

Soon, Larry’s skill as a “social assassin” is requested by Sammy, Jeff and Susie’s teenage daughter Sammy, who is fed up with the weird sound her mother makes after taking a sip of whatever drink she’s holding in her hand. Larry refuses but Sammy blackmails him with the threat of revealing Eddie and Eileen’s affair to Ron (which would break up the friendship and thus their chances at a local golf tournament). Of course, Larry attempts the “hit” but it doesn’t go as planned and it ultimately blows up in his face.

The episode circles back to the Middle East conflict, ending with the big anti-chicken protest, led by Marty and Susie. Shara and the Palestinians hold their own pro-chicken counter-protest. Poor Larry David is caught in the middle. Both sides try to lure him to their causes: Susie curses at him, berating him into join the Jewish people while Shara promises him a threesome with her equally attractive sister if he joins the Palestinian side. It’s safe to say that the Palestinians have a more persuasive argument.

(Too bad Leon wasn’t in “Palestinian Chicken”. He would have turned that promised threesome into a foursome, minus Larry.)