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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Season 3, Episode 3: Golden Anniversary

Russell and Anna are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Their revelry includes dancing to the swinging sounds of the Count Basie Orchestra, laughing as their children do another song and dance for them, and having sex. I'm not kidding: that last one happens before the first commercial break. Good for them, I guess. There's a fair amount of clothing to cover this week, so enough synopsis. Let's get started.

Why must you torment me with drably costumed day players?

Opening with guest stars, as I like to do, we have the neighbor couple that visits the elder Huxtables on their happy day. I didn't catch their names and kind of don't care that much. Neither does the IMDb, which doesn't even list the two actors as having appeared in this episode. For future reference, they're Thelma Carpenter and P. Jay Sidney, who have both gotten regular if not necessarily prestigious work on both big and small screens. Outfit-wise, they have a similar vibe going on. She's serving a lot of red, which is pretty brash, but then kind of blows it with the mustardy complements. I'm into the layered concept of turtleneck, cardigan, jacket, and slacks, but think she could have gone further with that color story. He's in the same matchy-matchy boat, but swaps the red for green. Otherwise, it's a lot of khaki and hunter. I think the tie and shirt work pretty well together; it's the too-close-for-comfort shading of the blazer and pants that muddy that waters for him. My overall impression of these two is that they contributed little to the plot, and less to my blog. Stop wasting my time, people! (I say this as though they held me at gunpoint and forced me to talk about 25-year-old clothes on the internet. It's their fault I do this.)

Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man.

Russell and Anna are the main characters of this story, but they're still technically guest stars, so we'll get to them first. I don't have anything new to add about tuxedos, but I do want to report on the tie he and the other Huxtable men wear. After wondering in episode #1.24 about the origin of the accessory, user KIKI suggested that I search for "crossover tie" to get more information. Sure enough, I found what I needed and learned that the piece originated as the continental tie, which was devised in the late 1950s to pair more fashionably with the slimmer suits that were beginning to gain popularity at the time. The look took off in the '60s. By wearing it in a kente pattern, the Huxtables are taking the look to a new continent entirely and updating a classic style. I still haven't managed to find references to anyone having done this outside of The Cosby Show, however, so I have to assume that Bill Cosby or Sarah Lemire or someone else connected to the program really did invent this concept.

Jiffy Pop.

I should mention that both Russell and Anna appeared earlier in the episode, but were wearing pajamas. These are their post-coital outfits. Anyway, Anna goes for broke in this gold number. I think she has the right idea; if you're going to throw down this much metallic jacket, you want to keep it nice and simple everywhere else. You can't go wrong with the classic little black dress, and I like the vintage shape to her coat (though of course she brings it into the 80s with the monstrous shoulder pads). My one concern is that the shimmery fabric looks kind of cheap. There's something in the way it bunches in the sleeves. It's a big night and her husband is rocking a full-on tux, so even minor flaws are going to seem glaring.

When he and Sondra fight, I always take his side.

The celebration is big enough that the whole family has to gather. Elvin arrives in a totally decent sweater. The oatmeal color isn't doing him any favors, but I enjoy how the various textures give the garment some added visual interest. Even so, there's only so much one can say about jeans, beige, and gray.

The apron means that he's doing women's work. See? Growth.

I have nothing to add about this except that I think Elvin looks a little adorable in a tuxedo shirt and apron.

Look how much he loves their James Brown number.

The full tux serves him well, too. I'm particularly in favor of his diagonally striped pocket accent as a pair to his kente tie.

Liking her clothes is the weirdest feeling. 

Sondra continues to grow on me. What I'm noticing most about her is that there's not much that unifies her style from day to day. Every time she appears, it's like she's got a whole new image. She's sometimes sort of baroque or New Renaissance in her approach; other times, she's preppy or cowgirl or just plain weird. Today, it's a melange. The coat is generic, but the scarf spices it up. Then underneath she has this zany monochrome, multi-belted top and skirt that I think I might love. Let's see them uncovered.

"What's that, pickles? You want me to what in the neighbor's yard?"

You know what? It's got a certain something. We haven't seen her in a "going to a Pat Benetar concert" space yet, and it's not bad for her. I'm especially fond of the way the flowier cropped top plays against the white shirt beneath it. The black belts and tights assure you that she's rather unconventional and knows it. At the same time, the patterns are quirky rather than scary: she's fun, not freakish. I can't imagine where she dug this outfit up, but as a standalone it's fabulous. It makes zero sense in terms of her character, but if this is where Sondra is headed, then I'm prepared to follow.

Turning point.

And we're officially friends. Could the cut of this dress be more flattering? Probably. Does it matter? Not really. Look at this gutsy, glorious take on formal wear. The basic, rectangular shape allows the print and texture to shine through. Something this abnormal could easily seem tacky, but the subtle palette keeps it prim and fetching, and the restrained application of metallic shimmer helps it dazzle without seeming desperate. I'm even into her asymmetrical updo, though it's admittedly better head-on than it is from the side. The contouring on her cheeks is a little heavy, but otherwise she's giving good face, too. This is the Sondra I've been searching for since she first arrived at the house looking like a mousy mess. Welcome home, hon.

Sometimes it's more of a mention than a full review. Sorry, kid.

Rudy starts off wearing this outfit. The only reason to mention it is that her right hairbands are blue, but her left ones are red. That's kind of cute.


That might be the best picture I've ever posted on the internet. I can't believe that a six-year-old girl made those faces. Thank goodness she pulled that performance off, because I'm not terribly impressed with her outfit. The wiggle on her shirt is the most notable distraction, but the puffy gold accents on her coat and skirt aren't so hot either. She's better in bright colors, anyway. The huge amounts of black are a little dire for her. She didn't even wear that much black to her fish's funeral!

Awkward phase.

Oh, Vanessa. What a nightmare this is. She's wearing her biggest top with her bunchiest leggings, in matching colors no less (if we can even call that a color), and then finishing things off with a popped collar in a boring, flat indigo. The last nails in the coffin are those dog bone earrings, which were clearly intended for someone far younger than her. Everything's going wrong here.

Awkward, Phase II.

I had a hard time getting a good shot of Vanessa's formal presentation, but what I can see of it is disconcerting. I sense the foundation of something good here. A little black dress with a well-tailored electric blue blazer could turn into an OK outfit. You can have fun with that. But the violent violet cuffs are a step too far, and the cut of that coat is completely incorrect. Then she goes and ruins my day by putting multicolored bows on the front of her dress because, I don't know, she hates me? What is that? I worry that as Sondra improves, Vanessa will plateau or even decline, leaving her as my new least favorite Huxtable child.

Turning up the heat.

Theo barely appears in this episode. I'm not even sure that he speaks any lines; he might literally just burst in and throw down a James Brown impersonation. He kills it, though, so I'm glad they gave him the time to practice his dance moves instead of asking him to memorize lines. As for the clothes, he looks great in a tux, and the open collar is wonderful, even if it's only for the musical performance.


We need to talk about the fact that Denise arrives wearing this hat.

Does not compute.

There's no punchline here. She's wearing that thing in earnest, and even comes close to making it work. What is it, you ask? As best I can tell, it's inspired by the shape of a traditional Mongolian men's hat, with maybe a dash of Smurf thrown in. I've got to hand it to her: she makes smart choices with her clothes. The flowy patterned skirt pairs well with the loose turtleneck. I like the colors together, I like the plaid on the bottom against the suede-ish top, I like the simple beads as an accessory... I even like the absurdity of that hat. (But come on, what is with that hat? It's nuts.) Denise delivers once more, proving as usual that attitude is everything. Let's be real: Vanessa couldn't wear that hat.

I'm going to be really let down next time she wears something ugly.

Remember when Whitney Houston went to Jerusalem?

Kidding aside, this is a positively brilliant take on an evening look, even if I again had few opportunities to catch a decent screencap of it. Continuing her tour of the globe's fashions, Denise has gone for what seems to be a West African kaftan. I'm in love with every single bit of it and wish we could have seen it more clearly. The big hair and wrist bangles are perfect selections in my eyes, making the whole impact incredible. She's exuding goddess energies.

It's your calling card. We get it.

This is the first of two Cosby sweaters this week. I see it as more straightforwardly ugly than his usual, more contrived forays into ugliness. I'm also solidly sure that it's made of fleece rather than knit, which edges it further into grossness. And the color scheme? Horrendous. No thanks, Cliff.

Wrongness done right.

Now that's a Cosby sweater. In truth, it appears to be about six sweaters Frankensteined together. And as if that weren't enough, he's wearing a red checkered shirt underneath it. I've got to say, the tonal uniformity of the various pieces makes this cohere far better than it ought to have. He looks spectacular.


Tuxedo. Kente tie. Done.


Fork you, too.

With an impenetrable wall of sass!

Someone's gonna get stabbed.

Just kidding. With leaning! She spends the entire scene hunched over like that, allowing the billowy top to obscure her shape. She's not doing terribly in terms of overall look today. Though restricted in the range of silhouettes she can deliver, she makes better color and pattern choices than usual. And those earrings are phenom. I'd love to see her come back to this eggplant/chartreuse situation in a future season when she can use them in a less bulky manner.

These boxes full of hidden wonders are metaphors for her uterus.

AND: With presents! On a table that conveniently appeared in the living room this week!

That's a terrible spot for a table.

This getup is more clearly aimed at camouflage. Giant and breezy and full of colors and pictures, it's basically a tapestry. You'll be so busy taking in the bamboo and koi that you won't even notice her belly. And hey, why not give her linebacker shoulders, too? I'm dreading a full season of muumuus from Clair. It's already hurting my feelings each week. How will I make it through?

You know what would help? Money. No, just kidding. I mean, I am going to ask you for donations, but not because I'm distraught. I'm asking because it costs money to keep the site going, and future improvements may cost even more. My expenses are low, so I would never charge a subscription fee or something stupid like that. But if you have fifty cents or a dollar and you enjoy reading these recaps enough that you wouldn't mind sharing, then feel free to click the link below. The internet will magically put your money into my account, and I'll write you back with a personal message about how awesome you are. Everyone wins!

And with that, I bid you farewell until next week. Stay hot, my Huxtable Hotties.


  1. Can you technically call what Denise is doing with that hat "wearing" it? The hat is sitting on her head, for sure... but it seems like it's just sitting there, as though it fell out of a tree as she walked up the front steps and it landed on her head.

    I feel you confusion over Sondra too. I'd hate to have to rate her higher than she fully deserves, but fortunately there's always Elvin to take the bottom rung on the Huxtable ladder.

  2. and I thought I was the only one who hated that hat...

    1. You're not alone! Though I have to say, the more I look at it, the more complex my emotions become. While I definitely dislike it, I'm also oddly compelled by it. Part of me even loves it. I have more issues with this headpiece than with some of my exes.

  3. Maybe it's not so much the hat itself, but the way it's sitting on her head, as Craig suggests.

  4. THAT HAT IS HILARIOUS. perfect screencaps!