Bobby and Jill have a good time at dinner. Jill does most of the talking, going on at length about her never give up romantic philosophy.
Tuesday night, I was at a party being held by the Fox network to accord the assembled television press (yours truly included) a chance to interview the stars of some of their shows. I didn't do much schmoozing, until Kim Delaney suprisingly wandered in, accompanying her boyfriend, who produces "Sliders." Kim good-naturedly indulged the questions of a good half dozen of us reporters, and when 9:30 rolled around, we realized that we would have to leave immediately if we wanted to catch the latest "Blue." Much as I didn't want to leave Kim's charming company, I decided to book, and made it back to my hotel room just as the parental advisory came on.
I'm glad I did; "Alice Doesn't Fit Here Anymore" was a complex, involving, and surprising episode that laid a lot of my complaints about last week's episode to rest.
For starters, it looks like Diane's troubles are far from over. Her reprisal of the Mouse guise rather shocked me, given Diane's previously revealed loathing of those clothes. If she were just looking for answers about the Night of the Mickey, she didn't need to get all dolled up for the bartender's sake. She may be starting to get lost in the role a little, even though there's no reason for her to play the sexy victim anymore. But at least she has enough of her wits left to call Andy, her sponsor, for help. Let's see what Andy learned from his last fall off the wagon, and whether he can use those lessons to help her.
The story involving Gina's attacker, meanwhile, took all kinds of unexpected twists and turns. Everytime I had it figured out, the script proved me wrong. I thought for sure that we would get the inevitable scene with James clobbering the guy, only to have Greg pull him off with the cliched "He's not worth it" line; instead, James spent most of the episode keeping Gina company. Then I thought that Gina would face her fear and her attacker; she didn't. And the completely from left field decision to have Andy do the interrogation at first confused me, then bugged me, since it felt like an affirmation of the cliche that Andy and Bobby are the only competent cops on the force.
But again, I was surprised, since the beating scene led to an absolute masterpiece of a conversation between Andy and Greg that offered the show's most definitive statement on police brutality since -- well, since the first season scene with the Other Guy that Andy quoted. (FYI, the summary for that episode, "Tempest in a C-Cup," is on my website.) At the end of the original scene, when young James questioned the ethics of it, Kelly explained that he only beat a suspect he was sure did it and would go free otherwise, and if he was wrong, "then God forgive me." Despite his recovery of faith, Andy has never been as interested in matters of the soul as his ex-partner; he's a pragmatic, meat and potatoes guy, who goes with his gut, even though he realizes he's being hung out to dry by his department and society should he be caught. And consider the fact that Fancy willingly and knowingly unleashed the beast inside of Andy. Art had better realize that there are consquences to that, too, and had better play it cool the next time Andy flies off the handle. Terrific stuff, all around.
A lot of people already see to be bemoaning Bobby and Jill's date. I'm taking a wait and see approach, because it was pretty clear from their discussion about James and Gina that she realizes Bobby and Diane are attached in some way. We don't know who asked whom out, but judging by Bobby's comments to Diane, I'm assuming he did. Maybe he invited her to dinner, and she accepted because she enjoys his company, keeping in mind all the while that he's not really available. And the subplot was worth it just to hear their conversation, which actually felt like two real human beings out on a date trying to get to know each other, and not some screen-writer's typical approximation of same.
About the only part of the episode that didn't work for me was the blink and you'll miss it resolution to the diamond story. I'm figuring that the actor they used as the perp for the New York exterior scenes (which are shot out of sequence) wasn't available when it came time to shoot the actual episode, but his suicide came out of left field. I would've been content to have him arrested and booked off-camera, but this was just bad storytelling.
One of the few good things to come from ABC's decision to hiatus "Blue" in March and April (see below for more info) is that we'll be getting new episodes from now until the end of February. I can't wait to see what happens next.
"Let me know if this is gonna come to shots. I'll head for the fishtank."
Again, for those who missed the first message, ABC has decided to take Blue off the air for March and April. This is no reflection on the performance of Blue itself, which is still the network's most popular drama. They just want to avoid excessive repeats -- ordinarily, there would only be one or two new episodes airing during that two-month span -- and give a better timeslot, temporarily, to "The Practice," their most promising mid-season drama series (it's about a low-rent Boston law firm, and is written by "Picket Fences" and "Chicago Hope" creator David E. Kelley). Just remember that fans of other shows share your plight: NBC is pulling ER and Homicide and relocating Law & Order temporarily to make room for two mid-season dramas of their own.
See ya in the funny papers...