If this is your first time here, I recommend starting from the first episode and working your way forward. Of course, that's entirely your call.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Season 7, Episode 4: Period of Adjustment

First off: sorry for the long break between posts. I'm busy hosting the Lip Sync For Your Life competition on Reddit, and my former roommate managed to get my internet shut off at home as a sort of final "fuck you," which threw a wrench in this and a couple other projects. Also work has been exceptionally busy. But mostly I just didn't finish this last entry when I had the chance, and now here we are.

With Tempestt Bledsoe and her character leaving for college sooner than expected, the show needed a new Vanessa. To solve this problem, they introduced Cousin Pam, a distant relative of Cliff's who has never met anyone in this family even though she lives a couple boroughs away. Seriously, her friends ride the subway to come visit her, and she couldn't do the same to see her blood relatives? I'm also a little lost on the exact structure of the family tree here. I know it's possible to have a cousin more than 30 years younger than you, but it's rare, and a little illumination on that would have been nice. But whatever.

He's giving me OITNB Crazy Eyes realness.

Like I said, Pam has friends in the area. This one is named Lance (played by Allen Payne). Style-wise, he's basically Theo with a big African-inspired necklace. I'm going to do a little more research into that, actually: Pam and her crew are established through script references, wardrobe, and use of slang as coming from a lot less money than the Huxtables, and I want to know if the use of African iconography is an accurate reflection of what low-income kids from the Bronx were wearing in the 1990s, or if this is a case of the white costume department getting a little unintentionally racist.

There's no need for stank, girl. You just got here.

Karen Malina White plays Charmaine, who is also throwing down a mix of African-inspired prints and accessories paired with early '90s trends. I like her color story, but I want a tailor to have a hack at that dress. It's such a sack, and the wide ruffles on the skirt are executed pretty poorly. The three-quarter sleeve isn't really wowing me either, though the bright pumpkin cuffs and collar are a nice touch. I'm OK with the hat and tights, but not in love with them. Like, if orange is your splash of color, then maybe let that be it, without needing a yellow, too. Actually, with a second look, I think it's the orange that's the problem. If those cuffs were a different color, this would all hang together a little better.

Men on this show are usually a terrible influence on the women they date.

Also present is Slide, played by Mushond Lee. He's, I guess, the bad boy romantic interest for Pam. I don't care for his pants, but I'm pretty into that hoodie. Strong hoodie, Slide.

They're not great fashion advisers, either.

Oh lord, he has a second look. I feel like someone else on the show has worn this shirt before, but maybe color blocking nightmares have become so prevalent that I'm hallucinating? I really should have created a spreadsheet or database when I first started this blog so I could stay updated. Whatever, if I already reviewed this, I'm sure it was something short and sweet like "it's hideous!" and that's what I'll say right now. The jeans and shoes are bland and boring but don't cross the line into definitive offense.

Who the hell are you?

And of course, Erika Alexander as Pam herself. This first look isn't bad if you ignore the short jeans displaying puffy socks. It's sort of a plain, standard getup that's sold by the accessories. The real revolution for me is in the belting of the t-shirt. That's what I'm seeing, right? She's just wearing a large t-shirt with a thin belt? Smart stuff. There might be one too many dangly things between the pendant and the small purse and the earrings, but other than that it's not a bad casual look.

So you just, like, live here now?

I really, truly thought these were pajamas at first. She starts the scene just lounging with Rudy, watching movies. Rudy is definitely in pajamas. But then she answers the door and plans to go out to a party, and suddenly it dawned on me: she's just wearing huge, huge clothes in not-altogether-fashionable-or-complementary prints. This is a lot of messy, washed-out schlubbiness to be collected in one place that isn't a clearance rack.

Eyes on the pies.

That sure is a big blue shirt.

They'd rather cast someone new than give her more lines.

Here, Rudy's episode #5.25 shirt is paired with some jeans that, in any other situation, I'd have overlooked. Luckily, she gave us a glimpse of the detailing at the bottom as she ascended the stairs. The crummy quality of the video prevents me from discerning exactly what she's sporting (snaps? straps? flaps?), but I appreciate that some small amount of effort was put into differentiating these black pants from any other black pants out there. The outfit as a whole still falls flat, but again: effort.

At least she had two scenes this time.

These are so definitely pajamas, right? At the very least, loungewear. Last time she wore those bottoms was at a dance rehearsal in episode #6.19. Nothing worn at a dance rehearsal should ever be worn outdoors. Fact.

So welcoming.

Clair's blouse appeared most recently in episode #6.11, but the skirt appears to be new despite its similarity to other khaki skirts she has worn. Provided the tailoring is on point (which I'll assume it is because Mama Huxtable rarely slouches in that area), then the basis for this ensemble is sound. I also love the idea of this blazer, with its rich emerald green and modern, lapel-less design and raised patterning, but somehow it doesn't hit reality in quite the way the description implies. For starters, the shapes on the jacket look like someone spilled Lucky Charms on it. And the green could be a hair brighter. And the cut could be tighter. It's close, but it doesn't hit the nail on the head. Still, more good than bad.

So much for welcoming.

This, on the other hand, is an utter mess. The top appears to have two animal prints. Well, "animal" prints; these are patterns vaguely inspired by nature without any actual parallel to existing beasts or fowl. Don't buy blouses based on Dr. Seuss creations. I'm fine with the pants and belt, even if I'd like the buckle to be a little smaller and WHY IN THE NAME OF NAOMI DOES YOUR PURSE NOT MATCH YOUR BELT?! They're right next to each other. Come on.

Creepin'.

Oh good, we're going to make musty nature prints and murky browns a running theme. Get out of here, Cliff.

Why are you huddled against the cabinet like that?

It'd be fine without the tie. Boring, but fine. That tie is ugly.

I know that this entry wasn't necessarily worth the wait. But I promise I'm not going to stop now that I've gotten this far. Even if finishing this blog seems like a ridiculous goal sometimes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Season 7, Episode 3: The Last Barbecue

I'm going to stop apologizing for not posting every week. At this point, we may need to assume that the entries will come more sporadically for the blog's final two seasons. We're all doing our best.

In another of the show's weirdly moralistic episodes, the family gets into a shrill, shallow argument over whether it's OK for Martin to have a stripper at his bachelor party. As far as I was concerned, it couldn't end quickly enough.

"What's a stripper?"

Olivia steps up her onesie game by following Cliff's Cosby sweater example. This one garment has a dizzying number of shades and patterns smashed together, and it works only because it is stronger than either of us. I bow down to this clown jumpsuit's superiority. It has won.

It's so boring having no lines.

Rudy barely features this week, and looks pretty bummed about it. Kenny shows up, too. No one cares about their opinions or their clothes or my opinions on their clothes. Moving on.

It's so boring having no style.

Theo has been carting out yellow shirts with black print on them since episode #3.01; he did it again in #4.10 and most recently in #5.26. Which is to say: he hasn't worn this shirt before, but he basically has. It's as good a look as I can hope for from him at this point.

I call this hairdo the "Back Bump-It."

Though she's just as likely to be shabby as she is to be chic, Denise serves up some casual elegance this week. I think her dusty rose jumpsuit and white frilly blouse are intended to position her as a more mature, stately woman so that her arguments on the feminist value of deploring strippers seem more grounded. This is not a vagrant weirdo talking, this is a student and mother. The show vacillates wildly in terms of how seriously it wants us to take Denise each week, so sartorial cues like this are really important. Though she's still wearing a giant fairy pendant, so maybe take her statements with a grain of salt regardless.

It's so boring being boring.

The difference between a Suburban Dad costume and a Martha Stewart costume is that Martha Stewart wouldn't be caught dead in pleated pants.

!!!!!

There aren't words. It's so implausible that I'm just going to assume that this is the best thing that has ever been worn in the history of humanity. Seusseralls for the win.

I'm too bored to even write about how boring this is.

Not even Elvin cares what Elvin is wearing. It'll pretty much always be that same pair of jeans with a different buttoned shirt made of thick fabric.

Well, it's not boring...

There's precious little of Clair this week, probably because they couldn't think of a suitably scathing yet insightful way for her to end the argument for good. Like, if she's talking, it has to be wisdom from the depths. The writers weren't up to the task, it seems. The costumers struggled a little, too, trying to combine the earthy qualities of a mother cooking for her family with the regal qualities of a pharaoh ruling over her queendom. Nothing seems to gel, despite the fact that everything is part of the same color story. The high, loose pants and saggy blouse aren't working in my eyes. Nice gold flats, though.

Snooze.

Yup, that's a sweatshirt and a pair of extremely baggy jeans, alright.

Not. Having. It.

I love how completely impossible it is to capture Anna making a simple, relaxed face. She is always giving it. She's also giving it in terms of fashion. This is the sort of dressed-down elegance that Clair didn't manage: the pants fit a little better, the tied bottom adds control to the otherwise loose top, and the mostly-maroon color scheme makes her look rich and regal while still allowing for some home-spun, busy-ass patterning. Well done.

I love that grandpa is pro-burlesque.

And then Russell closes us out in khakis and a long-sleeved purple polo. Nothing to see here.

Things are getting weird now that the show is in the '90s. I finally thought I knew what to expect from everyone, but those expectations are forever getting turned on their head. At least that'll keep it exciting for future entries, whenever I get around to writing them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Season 7, Episode 2: Bird in the Hand

Cliff is side-tracked from his trip to the auction house when his offer to drive Olivia to school suddenly becomes a day-long shift as the teacher's assistant. To make sure he places the winning bid instead of his friend Dr. Harmon, he participates over the phone. It all gets a little silly, but in the end the Huxtables own a new, expensive thing, so I guess that's good?

Moderator of the "Who's The Richest?" contest.

This is the auctioneer. It's unclear which of the actors listed in the credits actually plays him. The only thing worth commenting on here is his tie, which is a little frillier than it needs to be, though I guess that's intended to convey the level of luxury associated with his workplace.

Facilitating participation in the contest.

The man taking Cliff's bids over the phone is also unidentifiable from the credits. He's doing a pretty standard red, white, and blue theme. Nothing much to discuss.

No pop songs this time. Oh well.

Jonathan is back, after appearing at Olivia's birthday to sing "Eye of the Tiger." He's still a little scamp. Plus, he's rocking some sassy suspenders.

Edna Krabappel.

Marge Redmond appears as Mrs. Lebeau, Olivia's teacher. She's pretty married to the green family, it seems, ranging from pea soup to forest but avoiding anything that could be called an accent color. This outfit is well proportioned and appropriate for her job, but craves a belt or something similar to add a hint of visual interest. Otherwise, she looks pretty sharp, honestly.

Rich, but not as rich as Cliff and Clair.

Dr. Harmon, last seen in his epic petanque battle with Cliff, returns with a more streamlined beard and a continued commitment to strong color combinations. His pants are the wrong shade and ride too high on his waist, but everything up top is working for me. The jacket is the right counterpoint for the dark teal and maroon pattern with perfectly matched tie. By using unexpected yet subdued hues and prints, he nicely straddles the line between casual and professional.

But, like, what about tadpoles? Such a cliffhanger.

Denise (one assumes) continues to choose unique, delightful pieces for Olivia. This roomy pink jumpsuit with the zig-zag closure and comic print is exceptionally strange but oddly endearing; she ends up looking like a big, weird doll. Though the multi-colored florets and overall shape of the main garment suggest clownishness, she avoids seeming too silly in her appearance. This is not how most Earth children dress, but I can't see a reason why they shouldn't.

Always with the laundry and the eating and the looking like crap.

When Theo shows up, I get angry. Pretty much every time. This is more bland than truly offensive, but I'm still unhappy that he has stopped dressing well and might not have any more good outfits left for the whole run of the series.

Since when does she have glasses?

Since she's writing a paper, Denise starts out in sweats and an old t-shirt. I'm sure she wouldn't be caught dead in this normcore nonsense outside the house, so I'll refrain from comment.

I bet they never tell us what grade she got on her assignment.

She changes before leaving the house, selecting the graphic blouse first seen in episode #6.10 and some new striped pants. I think this top is bold enough that she doesn't really need such colorful pants with it, but I'm not going to tell her how to dress herself because she's clearly got a handle on it.

I see you looking right into the camera, dude.

For most of the episode, Clair is swathed in layers. For me, at least, it built a great deal of anticipation. What, pray tell, could be hiding under there? I thought for sure that there would be a bold, beautiful reveal.

There should be a punishment for making Phylicia look bad.

Or not. The shirt is fine, I guess, if you're into loud prints, but that skirt is immensely unflattering. Not sure if it's the placement of the belt or the thickness of the fabric or both, but it widens her immensely. Compare this picture to the profile of Olivia's teacher: Mrs. Lebeau isn't any thinner than Mrs. Huxtable, but looks sleeker in comparison because of how her clothes fit. I'd scrap everything, head to toe, if given the option.

The usual, which is usually unusual.

Now that's a Cosby Sweater. Like many of his selections, it looks like it's been composited from several other pieces. Additionally, he deviates from expected norms by topping the patchwork construction (which people have seen before) with the nonsensical addition of those raised buttons. I wonder how hard they are? I bet it's really uncomfortable to hug him when he's wearing this.

Since I've started working weekends, it seems unlikely that I'll get these entries out by Monday morning anymore, but I'll try my best to get them posted ASAP. Sorry to make you wait!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Season 7, Episode 1: Same Time Next Year

Apologies for skipping last week; I started a new job and am still adjusting to the schedule.

Anyhow, we begin the season with the children all shipping off to their respective schools. Denise has enrolled in an education program, Theo is back at NYU, Vanessa is starting college a year early, and Olivia is going to school for the very first time. Rudy should be headed to class as well, but is too embarrassed to appear in front of her friends because she didn't develop breasts over the summer. Her efforts to speed the process along with questionable pills are of course a failure, and she ends up getting over it because that's how problems work in sitcoms.

She was probably legally prevented from saying "Eat my shorts."

The first image we see, even before the opening credits, is Olivia greeting Cliff in a Bart Simpson mask, referencing the mounting popularity of The Simpsons, which ran in the same time slot as The Cosby Show. Cheeky cheeky, Bill.

She's all, "Rudy, you're basic."

This is Bryce B. Barard as Margie. She shows up only to scare Rudy with her boobs. She's wearing a really minty teal with light denim, which is such a terrible choice. I can kind of support a turtleneck with a denim skirt (kind of), but the turtleneck has to be absolutely any color other than that. The richer teal of her bag, for instance, would have been a better selection. From the little we see of it, I can also tell that I hate her belt. The headband isn't great either. You know what? Go away, Margie.

Dealing pills. Watch for Amy on season 3 of OITNB.

Amy is back. And she knows how to wear an assertive blue. Take that, Margie. She also knows how to wear capri-length casual lederhosen, which I think counts less as a victory.

Give this girl a Z snap.

To say "ready for school" to the world, Olivia puts on her cutest top (look at that elephant and how cute it is!) and her biggest, floweriest pants (which are so big and so flowery that you can't even believe it) and her meanest fact (the shot on the right says it all) and it is on. She's so blazingly confident in herself that I can't do anything but accept this sartorial creation as flawless.

Y U NO BEWBZ?

Rudy loves to wear this shirt with overalls or suspenders, as she did most recently in episode #6.22. This time she's gone for a khaki skirted look. I can't tell if her parents are still buying clothes for her to grow into or if this is one of those situations where nothing ever fit right in the late '80s and early '90s. It's conservative overall, but also boring and ill-tailored. Not great.


This looks like something Sondra would wear, doesn't it? From what I can tell, she never wore it on the show, but I get a distinctly Sondra vibe from this getup. The whole Southwestern situation, with the cactus and the thick contrast stitching and the rustic construction of the top, is a step back for Vanessa, which I guess is why I'd rather blame her sister. Though she tries to sleek it up by making the outfit mostly black, it's not something that I think can be salvaged.

Too sad to caption.

Oh man, Theo. You went to Europe and came back looking like this? I had hoped that a summer away would drench you in style. But I'm seeing white sneakers, bunchy athletic socks, cycling shorts peeking out from underneath your cutoff cargo shorts, and a sloppy t-shirt. The fact that there are colors to be seen might be the only saving grace here, and even that is generous. Go back and study, mister. Milan, Paris... hell, you live in New York! How are you still getting this so wrong?

I want to hug her.

Sexy Pinocchio. It goes without saying that I love everything about this. It's odd, it's anachronistic, it's bordering on ugly, but she carries it off. Olivia got her swagger from her stepmom for sure.

gasp

WHO PUT CLAIR IN MOM JEANS I AM FURIOUS RIGHT NOW

I apologize. That was uncalled for. But what are those jeans? And up top she's almost a literal throw pillow. It's appalling. I'm appalled.

Something about pudding.

Usually, when Cliff strays from his favored sweaters, he looks more subdued even when he goes for craziness. Maybe shirts just don't come in the aggressive styles he seeks. This pattern is clearly complicated, but the subtler fluctuations between the hues make it easier to look at without protective headgear of some sort. He, like his wife, is wearing his pants too high and too baggy, but at least they're in this one together. I'm pleased with his palette, but tortured by his tailoring.

And we're off and running! Two seasons left. Who's excited?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Season 7: Opening Credits

OK, kids, here's the situation. The opening credits for this season were pulled almost immediately because, apparently, of a dispute over whether the production had the legal right to display the mural they had used as a backdrop. As a result, the show switched back to its Season 6 intro, which is what the commercially available viewing options like DVDs provide. To get my hands on the intro, I had to go for a grainy YouTube video. Since the quality is low, I'm going to keep my commentary brief. Apologies.


The focus in this segment is bold colors. I'm actually pretty impressed with Cliff's use of purple and coral together, and the brown pant is the right choice to match those shades. I'm going to pretend that's not a black shoe I see there. That's just the poor video quality, right? The tie can't be explained away by compression artifacts, I'm afraid.


I wish I had more information here. Clair's coat might be nice. She might be wearing a green turtleneck, but who knows? Maybe there's a whole pattern under there we're missing! I'm reasonably sure that she's wearing a knee-length gray skirt, black leggings, and boots that reach her mid calf, but really almost all of this is the kind of guesswork that scientists do when they look at fossils. Like, we think we know what a tyrannosaurus looked like, but we weren't there! If only Phylicia Rashad weren't so possessed with the spirit of dance, maybe these shots would have been cleaner.


I must not be interpreting things correctly, because I feel like I might like Sondra's outfit. I mean, it's got obvious ugliness to it, but in a way that makes her look like the lady in a JRPG who joins your party and then turns out to be a sorceress princess in disguise.


Her husband is just wearing an uglier version of her dad's outfit. Also, there appears to be a loafy mullet situation on the back of his head, and that's gonna need to get taken care of.


Denise goes easy on me and reproduces her (still preposterous) episode #6.25 suit.


A turtleneck and black pants from Martin, who continues to live on the edge.


My hopes for Theo's ascent to fashion competency are once again dashed.


Vanessa is all, "What if Jubilee from the X-Men got a job promoting a boxer?"


Yeah, no.


You know what? I'm totes feeling this. Little kids should wear wild colors and make risky fashion choices!


Of course, the one who really got the short end of the stick with the credits change is Cousin Pam. Erika Alexander was added as a regular cast member in the seventh season, but the return to the previous season's intro omitted her charming smile, door knocker earrings, and neon poncho. That's just not right.

And that's that, my darlings! Come back next week, when the quality of the screen grabs will have improved somewhat.