Vivienne will take the competition DOWN
This week, we bid a fond adieu to one of the funniest, weirdest shows around, 30 Rock. In the finale, we got to revisit the huge cast of characters, including Jonathan (Maulik Pancholy), Jack's high strung, overly devoted assistant. It was bittersweet to see him take his last pot shots at Liz Lemon (he was dismayed to see her return after she left to be a stay-at-home mom: "You're no longer important to Jack!"), but I know that, as so many of our departed reality show friends have vowed before, this is not the last we've seen of him.
Okay this isn't from the finale, but it captures Jonathan nicely
Also making a brief appearance last Thursday was Hidetoshi Imura as Hidetoshi Hasagawa on The Office. He's still an ex-doctor/current paper warehouse employee, and he popped up to criticize Pam as she painted a mural in the warehouse. Everyone's a critic, right?
"Why can't you paint better?"
Premiering this week was a new season of RuPaul's Drag Race -- finally! We met Vivienne Pinay (real name Michael Donehoo), who is 26 and from New York. She arrived wearing an adorable polka dot dress, red heels, and dark bangs that gave her a real Bettie Page look. While describing herself, she said, "I am all about glamor. My beauty is everything." We didn't really get to see enough of her in the premiere to know whether this is true, but she did a nice job on her underwater shoot.
She also put together a runway look that the judges called "very j.Lo" (girl, that wavy blonde weave was all Mariah, all day long) that landed her in the middle. Hope she rises to the top, and we see more Vivienne next week!
We got a couple nice surprises as American Idol finished up its auditions. In Los Angeles, we met Shubha Vedula, a student from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan who is 17 years old. She sang Christina Aguilera's "Something's Got a Hold on Me" for Randy and Keith (Mariah was stuck in traffic and Nicki had a prior engagement), and I wish Nicki had been there to stop the boys from embarrassing themselves with their fake confusion and real mockery of Shubha's name. Gah. Anyway, though they thought her performance was very similar to Xtina's, they both gave her a yes to Hollywood, and she celebrated with her happy family afterward.
Don't look so unsure! You are adorable!
In Oklahoma City, we met 24 year old Nate Tao from Reston, Virginia. He is an American Sign Language teacher, having learned ASL because both of his parents are deaf (he is not). He joked that his parents weren't too receptive to the idea of his pursuing a music career, because "if he's completely horrible [they'd] have no idea." Luckily, he was not horrible, singing "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder. Nicki liked Nate's charisma and told him that he had a unique tone for a guy. Randy commented on how unassuming Nate was when he walked in -- "You got the tie on, you look like you're about to do my taxes" -- but that he had a very nice voice. Keith said Nate made it look easy, and with four out of four yeses, Nate easily made it to Hollywood. I seriously got tears in my eyes when he showed his dad his ticket, and adorable Papa Tao mimed shock, then pure joy as he proudly hugged his son. Seriously, I just watched it again and got a little misty-eyed a second time. Before leaving, the elder Tao taught Ryan Seacrest how to say "congratulations" and "I love you" in ASL. When Ryan asked how to say "super star," Nate demonstrated, and his dad made the sign, pointing to Nate. I know who has my vote for American Dad Idol.
He's got earnestness in spades
On Top Chef, the chefs took a cruise to Alaska (Sheldon's first time at sea!). They had to serve 200 guests dishes that featured iceberg (get it?) lettuce. Although Sheldon complained about the boring ingredient -- and his quinoa caught on fire -- the judges loved his Vietnamese lettuce wrap, particularly the creative pickled lettuce core that gave the dish beautiful texture and a complex flavor. He won the quickfire and celebrated by getting a manicure with fellow contestant Lizzie. Okay, Sheldon is now in the running for most adorable dad; sorry Mr. Tao.
With immunity no longer on the table, Sheldon got his first pick of proteins for the surf and turf elimination challenge. He picked steak and lobster, planning to make Korean barbeque steak and tempura lobster to redeem himself after the roller derby tempura disaster. While the judges liked his presentation and the steak, it was difficult to find a link between the two dishes and, once again, Sheldon messed up the tempura. The judges told him that his tempura was cold and soggy, and the dynamite sauce he served with it lacked the spice they were expecting. Worst of all, he chose the worst proteins and executed them badly -- to the point of being inedible. Sheldon weakly tried to explain that none of the ingredients "spoke to" him, but he was quickly cut down by the fact that he had first choice of whatever he wanted. It was a tense elimination, but Sheldon squeaked by in the end. Don't scare us like that again, Shel!
That hat won't protect you from the criticism hurled your way
On Project Runway, Tu and the rest of Dream Team had to create new uniforms for Spin NYC, a trendy ping pong bar owned by Susan Sarandon (I know, weird). The designers visited the space and did the work of waitstaff and ball boys to get to know what kind of needs they would have to address. Tu, whose parents own a restaurant, said "this [place] is a little bit different." He collaborated on an outfit with teammate Samantha, making a dress to go with her jacket. When Tim visited the workroom, he thought the two garments came from completely different closets; so, Tu started over with a sportier look in mind. "I'm a hot mess," he said about himself, but I honestly didn't think that the original dress was that bad. Don't be so hard on yourself, Tu!
Samantha and Tu carefully consider Tim's total takedown
After he commented on guest judge Susan's chest ("She got a nnn big boobie! [big boobie hand gestures]"), we didn't hear from Tu or his partner at all, even though their team landed in the bottom again. In the end, he was safe in the middle once more, and we never found out why on earth Tu thought that working ladies would want mesh tops that completely exposed their bras. But hey, to each her own, I guess?
Cute, but would you wear it to work?
On Face Off, the artists had to work in pairs to create demons, and Alam was paired with Anthony, who won both of the previous challenges. "We're all talking about [how] we can't let Anthony win again, but this one, I'll let him win again," she explained in an interview. The pair chose to make Hindu goddess demon Deumus, decideding to make her into a beautiful evil creature instead of the more monstrous characters that their competitors were constructing. Halfway through the challenge, the artists had to switch from making hellish demons to ice demons, but for Alam and Anthony, it was an easy color switch from reds to blues. Anthony sculpted the Deumus face and horns, and Alam did the body paint and elaborate feet. The judges were extremely impressed with the way they addressed both the demonic and cultural references, and they especially liked the face. They won for their creature, with Anthony taking the individual win for the third time in a row. I don't think Alam minded.
Okay, those feet are terrifying
And finally, Dr. Sanjay Gupta appeared on Conan to promote the new show Monday Mornings, based on the novel Sanjay wrote of the same title (full disclosure: I worked on said book). He had a cute story about his daughter and some tips for surviving flu season (basically: WASH YOUR HANDS). We'll discuss the show in depth next week.
Conan rubs flu germs into his face, against doctor's orders