Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 3/17/09

The occasion of the senior play was an excuse for GOSSIP GIRL to pile on references to classic novels (yes, books) like The Age of Innocence, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Great Gatsby, and films like The Graduate and Eyes Wide Shut. (Don’t laugh. Stanley Kubrick himself reportedly considered EWS, completed just four days before his death in 1999, to be his greatest film.) So watching the episode was almost like taking a class. A class for models. The plot had the kids staging a performance of The Age of Innocence, with events at Constance Billard School for Girls paralleling the characters/situations in the Edith Wharton book. Toss in Rachel serving as Dan’s “Mrs. Robinson” (even though her portrayer, Laura Breckenridge, looks about 5 years younger than Penn Badgley) and Chuck pursuing Elle, and the episode was practically a pop-culture quiz. Rachel was forbidden from seeing Dan and ostracized by the other teachers, just like in the 19th century New York society of Wharton’s book. Dan was reduced to passing Rachel notes (Really? He couldn’t text her? Oh, I forgot, they didn’t have Twitter in the 1870s.) Meanwhile, Blair’s fall from grace with Yale allowed her to relate to her character, Countess Olenska. Nate conveniently played Beaufort, the dashing gentleman whose family lost its fortune. (Typecast much, Julian?) Even GOSSIP GIRL’s usual weekly romantic misunderstanding was classed up by having Nate jump to the wrong conclusion after seeing Vanessa’s Cyrano act. (BTW, Marty Scorsese’s adaptation of Innocence really is, as Nate observed, heartbreaking. Rent it.)

I decided to check in on 24 this week and, no surprise, Jack was running around, growling about killing people and and generally trying to convince someone that there are traitors in the government (again). Why, oh why, will no one in power believe Jack? He’s been battling terrorists and exposing traitors in the White House one day at a time for years. You cannot even argue that Jack’s previous missions might have been classified; people like the president’s chief of staff would have access to that intelligence. To me, that general lack of faith in Jack requires the biggest suspension of disbelief. That people would willingly convince themselves that this time Jack has gone off the rails and is lying…that is infinitely more silly than believing in private armies armed with WMD and doomsday gadgets on U.S. soil. How cool was it that Sebastian Roché’s (Jerry, GENERAL HOSPITAL) character, Quinn, got to fight Jack Bauer? The next time I talk to Sebastian the first thing I’m going to say is, “Dude, you got killed by Jack frakkin’ Bauer! How cool was shooting that?” Kiefer Sutherland got another one of those scenes he demands every season, where Jack gets to take a breath and emote. Here, Jack expressed regrets about wife Teri, about his daughter Kim, “and that the world even needs people like me.” Well, we certainly need Jack (and Kiefer) on TV.

This was only the second episode of CASTLE to air, yet the show already feels like it has settled into a groove — for better or worse. Kate seems a little too familiar with Rick so soon in their relationship; it’s almost as if this episode was filmed later in the production schedule, after Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have had more time to get accustomed to each other. In fact, the relationship between the characters reminded me of BONES more than MOONLIGHTING last night, perhaps because Katic bears a slight resemblance to Emily Deschanel. (Well, from a distance, at least.) and that same sort of winking attitude. This particular episode also reminded me a lot of soaps, since YOUNG AND RESTLESS’s Michael Graziadei guested as Brent, the suspicious ex-boyfriend of a nanny who was found murdered and stuffed into a dryer. Sarah Drew (Kitty, MAD MEN; ex-Hannah, EVERWOOD) appeared as Chloe, a fellow nanny. There was also another daytime shout-out: After complaining that his own nanny spent her time drinking and watching soaps instead of raising him, Castle acknowledged that he got the plot for his first novel from watching ONE LIFE TO LIVE. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink!) I like how Rick “investigates” cases by thinking about what would make a “good story” — thus leading the police to consider someone other than the obvious, lazy suspects. Fillion’s Rick also got off the best line of the entire night, while suggesting that Kate should get married: “You’d be good at it. You’re both controlling and disapproving.”

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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