Hyphen TV: I'm Obsessed with You

February 25, 2013

Sheldon, a bit wistful as he preps his spot prawns

It was a tough week for our friends, starting with Vivienne on RuPaul's Drag Race. Coming off her critique from last week, Viv is pissed at Roxxxy for overshadowing her, and she's angry when she finds herself on a team with Roxxxy once again. Vivienne also feels that her team is "underestimating" her, and right about here is where you really get the sense that there's a lot more blame assignment going on than self-awareness. The girls have to act out the story of RuPaul's life in dance (OMG can this be a real performance that one can pay to see please??), and Vivienne plays America's Next Drag Superstar, crowned by present-day RuPaul.

No one better underestimate Vivian's eye makeup

Unfortunately, it's more of the same critiques for Viv, as Michelle said that Vivienne "faded into the woodwork again" and was "just a regular girl putting a crown on at the mall," while guest judge Chaz Bono commented, "You're one of the most beautiful drag queens I've ever seen in person, but your performance was forgettable." Vivienne landed in the bottom two with Honey Mahogany, and after the duo lip synced to "Oops I Did It Again" (a personal fave), it was revealed that both ladies were to sashay away. Vivienne was understandably disappointed, but told us, "I am beautiful and no one can take that away from me." It's true, girl. Now maybe pay attention when you watch these episodes back and realize where you can improve.

On Face Off, the designers had to transform models into creatures based on different bugs. Alam got the grasshopper, and she explained how she used to catch grasshoppers as a kid, fry them up, and eat them. "It sounds weird, but it's kinda good. Crunchy." Right. Alam was surprised by how colorful the insect was up close, so she made color variety her main focus as she worked. As usual, however, she ran out of time, and what she ended up showing was a bit of a mess. "This makes me wanna die," the judges commented before adding that it was "awful" and "wretched." There was too much going on with the design, and they were very unhappy with the sloppy, clearly last-minute additions of pink wings and glittery flip flops. Glenn also pointed out that the silicone Alam used didn't have the translucency that the material is meant for. It was no surprise when Alam was chosen to go home, though they did tell her that she has "a memorable and very distinct vision." In her final interview, Alam vowed, "I'm gonna practice and practice and I'm never gonna give up. I love this." Great attitude! Hope we see your work again soon, Alam.

Not Alam's best work

It's part one of the Top Chef finale, and the chefs got to go home and take a break beforehand. We see Sheldon's adorable daughters and lovely wife back in Hawaii, and we learn that he's gotten a new job at a high-end restaurant since last we saw him. Back in the continental US, we learn that Kristen, of course, won Last Chance Kitchen, so she's back in the game. For their penultimate challenge, Sheldon, Kristen, and Brooke must each create a three-course meal at Tom's Craft restaurant with Tom himself expediting. Sheldon grabbed quail for one of his courses -- doesn't sound like a Sheldon type of protein -- explaining that he's "throwing the judges a curveball." Hmm. Meanwhile, Kristen has learned from the experience that got her kicked off, and she's now set on creating simple dishes so that she doesn't find herself in the middle of a complex mess again. Hmm.

Kristen is excited about setting up bowls

As service gets underway, the chefs realize how intimidating it is to have Tom expedite. "I peed in my pants a little," Kristen said, and I'll assume/hope it was jokingly. Sheldon gushed, "One look into those baby blue eyes [of Tom's], he can get anything from me." The judges, including guest judge Martin Yan (of Yan Can Cook!), liked Kristen's first course, commenting that her chestnut veloute had a little kick to it. The tuna in her second course was perfectly seared on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside, though a little salty. Her curry chocolate dessert was a surprising combination, but very basic. Overall, the judges found Kristen's food well done but safe. She admitted that she was unhappy with her dessert, saying, "I gave you a bowl of chocolate." Still, it was all good enough to get her into the final challenge.

Sheldon started out with sashimi spot prawns that the judges called "a very delicate dish that's very difficult to pull off," and Sheldon did indeed pull it off perfectly. His roasted quail second course was "okay," but the judges agreed that they wanted "the old Sheldon," calling the chef who cooked the quail a "brainwashed" version. Uh-oh. His white chocolate mousse with apple and fennel was a "great combination," but the raw fennel overpowered everything else and all but ruined the dish. The judges took him to task for changing up his style so much, telling him that "there was nothing wrong with the old Sheldon." He explained that he wanted to show his growth, and while the judges agreed that he cooked everything well, it was a step backwards from the complex flavors that put a spin on Filipino and Hawaiian dishes, and he was sadly sent home. I have to say, I understand why Sheldon had to go (rookie mistake not being yourself, Shel!), but his is the food I most want to eat out of everyone's. Hyphen field trip to Hawaii?

A bittersweet Top Chef hug

A lot happened on American Idol this week, so stay with me. As you know, after the previous week we had a top forty (twenty guys and twenty girls). Now we have two weeks of "sudden death" rounds where we cut that number in half. Ten singers sing, only five stay on. First up were the girls, and we finally get to know Adriana Latonio, a 17-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska who I'm pretty sure we haven't seen at all before except in fleeting glimpses. She's the first Idol semifinalist from Alaska ever, but she assures us that she doesn't live in an igloo or ride dog sleds around. She sang Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way," and Randy and Keith stood for her in the end. "Now the night has started," Keith proclaimed, even though Adriana was the third singer to perform (ouch). He said that her emotions and talent belie her age, and it's hard not to react "because it was so damn good." Nicki asked Adriana how tall she is (five feet) and whether she's Filipino (yes), and then said that Adriana is "a little tiny thing but commands the stage." Nicki didn't see an ounce of fear from the young singer from the second she walked out, and the judge was clearly impressed. Randy admired the way Adriana took her final note from being off key to being right in tune, dubbing her "a pro," and Mariah said that it was "a biiiig song" to sing, but Adriana earned an A+. Not bad for a contestant who's totally new to us!

Adriana looks like a natural (who we've never seen)

Also up was our old pal Shubha, and in case anyone forgot, we were treated to clips of Randy and Keith butchering her name. Ugh. We also learn that Shubha once competed in a county-wide singing competition and won $35,000 for her school. Whoa! She started out her performance sitting at the piano, and it was only after a few slow bars that I realized she was doing a totally rearranged "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga. Eventually the beat picked up, and Shubha stood up to dance and reveal her silver leggings (girl can rock a metallic). It was unusual, fun, and high in energy, but I found it a touch gimmicky. The judges agreed: Keith said that Shubha "crammed a lot into that song," and the performance was somewhat confusing because there was so much going on. Her voice did power through despite that, but he was clearly mixed on how successful the song was. Nicki opened by telling the audience, "Prepare to boo again," and then she went on to agree that there was too much happening on stage. She also said that she's noticed "almost a comical thing" with all of Shubha's performances, and I see what she means; she compared the song to "a mashup of Christina Aguilera and the Gangnam Style guy." Randy said there were way too many runs, but he's still amazed at her potential at 17 years old. He would have liked to see her stay at the piano, and I admit that I'm curious about that too. Mariah agreed with Randy, adding that Shubha "wanted to please the crowd," and maybe that took her away from the actual singing.

This does not convey the funkitude of her performance

As the girls were whittled away, either sent home or getting to sit on the Stools of the Top Twenty, we were left with Adriana and Shubha, with just one spot left. Tearfully, Adriana explained to Ryan that Shubha is her best friend on the show, and when Keith told them that Shubha was fought for but Adriana was going to be the one to stay, both girls were overcome with tears. Aww, Shub. I am majorly bummed, but I can't disagree with the judges' comments. Polish your act up for next year!

On boys' night, we got to spend a little more time with Elijah Liu, the 18-year-old who we briefly met last week. Now we find out that he is of Mexican and Chinese descent, and he's the fifth of six children. He has also "been successful with the ladies," so do with that information what you will. Elijah sang Bruno Mars' "Talking to the Moon," showing off a bit of falsetto and some soulful sitting on a stool. Keith said that it was a perfect song choice but a shaky performance. Aside from that, he told Elijah, "You look like a freaking pop star... [and have] a way about you that is so relevant and now." I totally see what he means, and I'm also kind of blown away that a Chinese-Mexican American dude is proclaimed to look like a pop star on mainstream television. Wow. Nicki said that she didn't care for the song -- but I'll transcribe the rest of what she said: "You are a super duper star, little boy. I wanna have your babies. I'm so serious. You're 18 years old, you're sexy, you're my new favorite boy, I'm obsessed with you...I would sign you today. You have the most marketable face and voice and combination that I've seen tonight, and you're ready now. Now! NOW!" That just says it all, doesn't it? Why have we barely gotten to see this guy until now? A real shame, especially since the vocal this time around was pretty weak to me. But hey, in the end, the judges kept him; so we'll have more chances to get to know Elijah. Get ready, ladies.

The face of the next pop superstar?

On Project Runway, the large team thing was thankfully abandoned so that the designers could work with just one partner. Kate chose to work with Tu because "he's always so nice" to her, and with similar sketches, they had a strong start designing red carpet and performance outfits for Miranda Lambert. "Oh, give me five, girl," Tu said when they saw how closely their concepts matched. Tu designed a performance dress with Lady Gaga in mind, but Tim was very concerned when he visited the workroom. "Tu, this is gonna be wacky!" Tim remarked when he saw the way Tu wanted to add volume to Miranda's hips, exaggerating the curves she already has. Once again, Tu thought Tim would like his garment and he was wrong, but on the runway, he and Kate were safe. One of these days we'll hear Tu talk for more than 30 seconds, I hope.

It looks like her hips have floppy puppy ears

There was a whole bunch of stuff happening on Monday Mornings. Dr. Napur went on a date with Dr. Lieberman, and while they were at dinner, a woman in the restaurant started choking. Napur sprang into action, giving the woman the Heimlich, and then helping her breathe when she passed out. An ambulance was called, and in Chelsea General, Napur straddled the patient to administer medicine and chest compressions that later saved her life. Lieberman was impressed, and Napur got a little smooch action in the end. I'd still like to get more info on her breakup, but this is a nice development.

Another patient in the hospital was in a state of psychosis and was unable to understand what was happening when he was sent in for surgery. Anesthesiologist Dr. Wong (played by Ewan Chung) heard the patient say "I want my lawyer" in the operating room and told the surgeon, "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with what I just heard." He got an earful from the arrogant surgeon, who went ahead with the surgery but was chewed out about the decision later on. Ha!

And then there's Dr. Park, whose insensitivity and weird broken English is still his only set of characteristics. This time he had to explain to a woman, whose husband had a stroke, why he had to perform brain surgery on the man. "If no room, brain squish out hole." During surgery, there were complications and the patient died. Again, Park showed no remorse when passing the news along to the widow, and the hospital's risk management lady paid him a visit to explain the power of empathy. "Not sorry do. Sorry dead, not do." I am really getting sick of this nauseatingly bad writing. Not only, as I have mentioned again and again, is the ESL English unnatural, but it's also seemingly the only explanation for Park's callousness. There are photos of a young girl on Park's desk, suggesting that he has a daughter. Is there pain in his past that prevents him from exhibiting any emotion? We have no idea because all he does is spit out the harshest, blunted sentences over and over. After a verbal beat-down at the Monday morning meeting, Park visits the widow's house in the rain to apologize, but this is hardly enough for me as a viewer. If we don't get the tiniest bit of depth to Park's character soon, it's going to be tough to keep watching this show.

Dr. Park does not like being reprimanded

And finally, jook dancer Lil Buck was on The Colbert Report this week for an interview and performance. Accompanying Buck on his dance was violinist Jason Yang. Check out the music, dance, and complicated hair right here.


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.