Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 4/1/09

It’s April Fool’s Day once again, but I’m not the type to post outrageous made-up junk and then laugh that I fooled people with a rumor on the Internet. That’s just a waste of time. You’ll get from me what you always get: My honest opinion of what I’ve been watching lately…

After watching THE MENTALIST for quite some time, the show finally included some mental…. er, stuff! Jedi mind tricks at last! Hypnosis was basis of this week’s crime, and although it was easy enough to figure out that a hypnotist had mesmerized someone else into committing a crime, it was not easy to figure out which hypnotist did it, because so many people turned out to be trained. In any event, I enjoyed seeing the mechanics (and myths) of hypnosis worked into the storyline. Poor Rigsby (played by the hulking Owain Yeoman, late of WITHOUT A TRACE, so I have to ask: Does Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda, GENERAL HOSPITAL) have more to do than just look sexy as Eric Close’s girlfriend? Because this episode just reminded me of her role in The Rock.

GOSSIP GIRL’s Eric pointed out that the Humphrey breakfast scene — everyone gathered in the kitchen to nosh while talking about their upcoming busy days and then rushing off — smacked of a sitcom. Me, I was reminded of an old teen soap that GG exec producer Josh Schwartz is mighty familiar with. (I won’t mention a name, but its initials are O.C.) Chuck Bass was back on familiar ground, setting up Vanessa to catch Blair leaving Nate’s place. Then he told Blair that Nate was still dating Vanessa. I prefer this trouble-making version of Chuck to the lovesick puppy who brought Blair flowers in previous weeks. This is the Chuck who wanted to post a sex tape with Vanessa on the Internet to get back at B. and Nate. He settled for snogging Vanessa in front of them instead. Well, as far as we know he settled; he did share his bed with V., so it remains to be seen what else he might share with the net. Chuck’s machinations even brought us a glimpse of the wicked old Blair, who reacted to the news that Nate had dumped Vanessa by asking, “Was it awful?” with a hopeful gleam in her eye.

Globe-trotting socialite Poppy Lifton didn’t quite view things so favorably when she blew back into town and pointed out that Serena is in exactly the same place as the last time she visited. Sure, that made it easy for Poppy to catch up, but also made the show sound like it’s standing still. Which it kind of is; there’s been lots of sound and fury, but Serena is still status quo. She’s not quite the same person who broke up and made up with her high school boyfriend and feuded with her frenemy last season, but she’s still doing virtually the same thing. Poppy was once again played by Tamara Feldman (ex-Natalie, DIRTY SEXY MONEY), and she introduced a her (extremely tall) new boyfriend Gabriel, played by Armie Hammer (who can be seen on REAPER this season as Morgan, the son of the devil). Poppy encouraged Serena to break out of her rut by hosting a bash for Jenny’s birthday. The problem was, Little J did not want a fancy, catered Sweet 16 party, like S. and Lily had planned. Too bad. Birthdays are not about what the celebrant wants; birthdays are about the party that others want to throw. So Serena leaped into action — and mortified poor Jenny with a society soiree. “I liked my social grave,” Jenny sighed. “I dug it myself.” But S. was adamant, even when Jenny complained, “I didn’t want this.” Well, Little J may not have started it, but she did her best to finish it by posting it online at Gossip Girl and flooding the joint with so many kids that the cops showed up.

HEROES’ Claire and Nathan were on the run from authorities in Mexico. As part of the night’s theme, Claire spent time with her biological father while Peter came to understand more about his mother in New York. Claire must have gotten a haircut as a disguise, since Hayden Panettiere’s bangs make her look a lot older. Nathan was initially funny as he tried to assure her that he was still in control and win survival money in a drinking game with frat boys. He almost won, but passed out. Then Claire stepped up to challenge the winner — by taking off her shirt and downing 22 consecutive shots of tequila. Needless to say, she drank the party boy under the table in no time. Back in their seedy motel room, Claire told her daddy that her tissue-regeneration power clears her liver — which may be true, but of course is not the reason she doesn’t get drunk; she stays sober because her dead brain cells regenerate. But she can be forgiven for that mistake, since she hasn’t spent much time in school lately. The next morning, Nathan was sober in more ways than one: He admitted he had overreached with this anti-powers campaign and was now in over his head. And that, like many an absentee father, he was trying to win her affection with presents — in her case, a “Get Out of Concentration Camp Free” card. But like an adult, he vowed to take responsibility and clean up his mess. Meanwhile, in New York, Angela seemed to think it might be too late to clean up her mess. Still, she resolved to try — and needed her sister’s help to do it. Sister? How big is this family?

Uncharacteristically, this episode used a couple of old songs, Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” and The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” to nice effect. Usually HEROES just relies on the musical talent of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman — otherwise known as Wendy and Lisa of Prince’s Revolution fame.

Oh, and did I mention that Sylar gained shape-shifting powers and people think he’s dead? I should mention that. (But I don’t think HRG was fooled; he is The Man, after all…)

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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