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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Season 5, Episode 2: The Physical

Cliff's bad eating habits are once again the center of attention this week. The family joins together to mock and shame him as he works to cleanse his body before his physical exam. Of course, every story needs a good moral, so he still gets told to cut down on the hoagies and chocolate sodas even though he did his best to fool the blood tests. (Wait, is chocolate soda a real thing? Can I be drinking that?) Meanwhile, directionless Denise gets fired from her job as a receptionist, but scores a gig waiting tables at a pizza place.

This is a uniform, but it could almost work as just a dress. Almost.

Sari Chang plays Nurse Young, who is there to help with Cliff's surprisingly rigorous physical examination. She doesn't have much in the way of a costume or career history, but I didn't want to leave her out.

He'll always be the Golden Arcs guy to me.

Cliff's doctor also has nothing exciting in the way of attire, but he's played by John Amos. This man has been in everything from Good Times to Roots to Coming to America to The West Wing. Still, he's wearing gray slacks, a blue shirt, and a tie. There's nothing really to say.

Little lady, big ideas.

Continuing her foray into adult-ish duds, Rudy offers up a blouse, skirt, blazer, and tie. There's a lot of business happening: the southwestern print, the narrow red belt, the static-y pattern on her jacket, the neon lizard earrings. Most innovative is the tie, which has full-on holes instead of polka dots. (It also has stripes, and for future reference one pattern is typically enough.) I think the white-on-denim base works, but beyond that she's overreaching. Instead of slamming on the gas, she should probably have made the transition into big girl clothes more gradually so as to avoid this kind of whiplash.

I ignored the socks intentionally. You should, too.

Vanessa is following in her mother's footsteps with the tunic-over-leggings game. Tunic-style, anyway. This overlarge button-down is noisy in a way that doesn't really resonate with me, but I see what she's aiming for. It's at least cohesive in its palette, even if it's not my cup of tea. (Glass of juice.)

Every week, I hope. Seldom am I rewarded.

There's a serious Izod vibe coming off of Theo's outfit. The khaki pants and olive polo get us most of the way there, but it's the argyle down the front that really seals the deal. His jacket, while not particularly stylish, does a great job of covering the other non-stylish parts of his wardrobe.

Turns out we can't count on her this season, after all.

As a helpful reader pointed out in the comments section of the last episode: Lisa Bonet is pregnant! To hide this fact, we're apparently going to drape her in giant t-shirts and coats. Sad news.

That finger lets you know that she's making a real point.

Also: bags. And even hats that are too big! Make everything huge to minimize her baby bump!

She doesn't need a finger. She's always serious.

Clair comes downstairs already wearing a coat, thus effectively masking whatever she had on underneath. Was there not a budget for a work outfit for her? Could we not have repeated something? This is just a sack with a sash belt.


Can we get that sack back? Honestly, what the synthetic hell is this? I'm appalled.

Why is no one helping me out this week?

Cliff rocks a black shirt and khaki pants. Snooze. The nehru-ish collar is bordering on interesting, but overall there's really nothing to see here.

Work that body.

We'll end with a shirtless Cliff covered in electrodes, simply because it's hilarious.

I trust you all had a fabulous long weekend. Hopefully, you're not bothered that I took yesterday off and posted this entry today. Even bloggers need breaks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Season 5, Episode 1: Together Again and Again

Remember how there was a whole episode devoted to Denise choosing a college? Theo never got that. In fact, there was no mention of his graduation last season whatsoever. So it's a little jarring to learn that he's supposed to start classes at NYU this week. Of course, we can't keep losing children to the dorms, so a convenient plot contrivance leaves him without a place to stay on campus, forcing him to live at home. Meanwhile, Denise announces to her parents that she won't be returning to Hillman because her interests lie outside academia.

What are we doing here? Like, what is all of this?

Rudy is 9 this season, and it seems from the premier as though they're starting her transition her into tween attire. This short sweatshirt, gaudy belt, and bodacious pair of harem pants are more fashion-y items than she's previously been given. Most of her wardrobe, outside of formal pieces, has been overtly childish. While this isn't a grown-up outfit by any stretch, it has a bit of perspective to it. I don't know that I actually like it, but I look forward to learning about Rudy's developing personal style.

Asserting individuality.

Vanessa is also maturing her look a little. By wearing a loose top and skirt, she was perhaps hoping to obscure her figure, but the high belt dividing the outfit ends up creating an exaggerated hourglass shape that accentuates her shape. Her playful use of color really draws me in: none of the pieces match, but they all coordinate surprisingly well. The flowery top wouldn't work if it were longer, but I can accept it because it ends before her rib cage, making it quirky and chic. While my initial reaction to this look was confusion, it's proved to be quite compelling. I can't stop looking away, which means she's done something exceptionally right.

 A tail of the rat that bit you.

Sadly, not everyone in the family has lived up to their potential. Theo delivers another bland, boring presentation. His attempts at subtle fascinations like the dark bands at his cuffs and collar or the barest hint of mock turtleneck only illustrate how dull a slumpy white top can be. And I know you'd be happier not noticing this, but I'm obligated to point out the short rat tail he's grown out, with a single bead braided into it. A new low!

Maybe she packed all the good clothes?

Speaking of new lows, Denise hasn't looked this bad since the first season. I haven't the faintest idea why she's wearing a knee-length shirt in shades that don't suit her, or why she's paired that upsetting top with pajama pants. Her whole formless getup makes her look roughly the same shape is that bag she's carrying, only in prints normally reserved for the carpets in Carribbean airports. I'm going to assume that her sudden lack of taste is a symptom of the emotional distress caused by her decision to drop out of college.

Baby on board!

So wait, how much time has passed between seasons? There was no mention of a baby last year, and suddenly Sondra is seven months pregnant? I don't know that there will be a ton of value in reviewing her maternity clothes, since it's just going to be a bunch of baggy shirts and elastic-waist pants, but I'll try to offer little observations here and there. For instance, this look includes a khaki vest to remind you that the wilderness store is the closest she comes to having a personality trait.

He's going to start selling a line of tents for infants.

The career change has taken a toll on this couple's attire. Elvin seems to have forgotten what colors are, or maybe he washed all of his things together on hot and they all came out the same slate gray? There's a hint of forest green coming through that I enjoy, but he's doing his best to hide it. On any other outfit, the tiny buttons would be terrible, but here they're the only thing preventing that shirt from functioning as an invisibility cloak.

Legally boring.

Clair loves a tunic over leggings. I guess this isn't truly a tunic in that there's some structural detailing. I'm not in love with anything about this; the braided effect on the cuff lacks grace, and a zipper usually looks chintzy. It could be worse, I guess.

It's late and I'm running out of captions. Sorry.

Am I the only one who thinks this sweater looks familiar? I can't find evidence of it in the archives, so I'll assume that my memory is faulty (a pretty safe assumption, really). But it's probably not a good sign that my initial reaction to this piece was, "Oh, this again."

If we all think happy thoughts, next week will get better, right? Join me in changing television history by using the Secret to retroactively create awesome outfits for the Huxtables.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Season 5: Opening Credits

Of all the opening sequences, this one is probably most remembered by fans. Performing a Broadway-style dance routine (choreographed by Geoffrey Holder) to a stirring orchestral rendition of the theme song, the cast presents a weird and wonderful take on the introductory credits. On the other hand, the stagey pieces in which they have been dressed have limited relevance to modern fashion, as that was not the intent.


I mean, they look great, but they're clearly delivering a fantasy rather than a reality. Not that I will absolve myself of my responsibilities because of these costumes, but this'll be a short entry.


Rudy's appearance in the credits is briefer than the others: as you can see, she's not in the opening pose. My guess is that, as a child actor, she was present for fewer rehearsals, requiring portions of the number that could be worked without her. Honestly, the choreography makes wonderful use of the cast, which I assume is largely made up of non-dancers. But back to this dress: the ruffles are ruffly, and the palette suggests the inside and outside of a grapefruit as rendered in pastels. It's right for what it is.


This look announces to us that Vanessa is entering her goddess phase. Look at her face: she's ready to begin her journey into adulthood. It's tough to read for sure, but if you go back to that first image of the whole family, you can see that this skirt might also be pants; there's a ring of ruffle that appears to extend only around one leg. Not sure what that's about, but I like that someone is taking chances. I think there's a touch too much happening with the multiple bands of color at her neckline and hem. It's busier than anything else onstage. Otherwise, this meshes well with the other pieces.


Theo looks like he's going to the beach.


You might notice that we jumped to Sondra without hitting Denise, who is next in line age-wise. (Did you know that I intentionally go through each family member in age order? Maybe I never explained that.) It's true: Denise is still at Hillman and will only appear in a few episodes this season. They're all right at the beginning, which gives us something immediate to look forward to, but it will make her subsequent absence all the tougher. Anyway, Sondra looks fine here.


That's right, Elvin, show off that chest hair. Maybe untuck your shirt, though.


As a veteran of the Broadway stage, Phylicia knows exactly what she's doing up there. Look at her. She is positively breathtaking in that shot, and the grace with which she moves is delicious. And oh how I love her in pink! Two shades of pink! She's wonderful.

"Daaaaaad! You're embarrassing us!"

And of course Cliff. Bill Cosby is not a good dancer, but he serves face. The color combo here is a little louder than some of the others, which highlights his bananas personality while making him the center of attention (as does the fact that he stays in one place for the whole number). The frayed edges of his shorts add to the tropical, casual vibe.

And there you have it. On we go. I hope you're ready for what this season has in store. (I hope I'm ready for what this season has in store.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Season 4, Episode 23: Gone Fishin'

When I saw the synopsis of this episode online, I thought it must be a joke. Not so much, it turns out: the fourth season of this show really ends with Theo finding a mobster's body in the river. They don't show the corpse or anything, but it's a major plot point nonetheless. He gets a little media attention and of course becomes a total asshole about it, but ends up getting cut down to size when a local news reporter features Rudy's discovery of a bird's nest over his pompous interview.

"You know what my viewers love? Self-involved teens."

Action News correspondent Harriet Waters is played by Alanna Davis, in her only IMDb credit. She's trying to sell professionalism here, and I guess comes up with a look that's work-appropriate even if it's not particularly fashionable. The overly wide, rusty red blazer isn't doing a lot for her, and the sallow shirt beneath it is a poor complement to her coloring. She's got pink undertones! Also, the buttons come off as childlike, and the only reason they don't seem huge is because the entire jacket is sized improperly. I can't complain about a black skirt with black tights, but everything else is doing her a disservice.

"Here to comment: an eight-year-old girl and her pseudo-husband."

Side note: she films the interview hours before the broadcast and goes live on air that night in the same exact outfit (thought with different hair and make-up).

He had almost nothing to say, but I still had to include him.

She also bring in a cameraman, portrayed by Darrell Echols. After this one-line job, he took on a couple other small parts before giving up on the acting thing, it seems. He's not wearing anything that warrants lengthy commentary. Solid if unremarkable color choices, with maybe a hair too much reliance on the mottled, fuzzy texture.

I'll discuss you at length when you start dressing right.

I'll admit it: I'm tired of pretending like there's anything to say about the clothing choices of youngsters. Like, they're kids, they're clothed, whatever. Here are Rudy and Kenny, presented for completeness' sake.

Children: poor fashion references.

Again, they exist. I briefly thought that Rudy was wearing the denim jacket that Kenny wore yesterday, but button placement reveals that they are indeed two separate items. (Kenny's top button is just below the horizontal chest seam, while Rudy's is just above.)

I'm choosing not to talk about that green and yellow... thing.
Vanessa opts not to remove her coat for her first scene, so really all way have to talk about are those flowy, capri-length floral pants. I hate them.

Or about these nightclothes.

She changes into these items later that same day to watch the 11:00 news, so I have to assume that they're pajamas.

Local gangster killed by visual assault. Story at 11.

We haven't seen Theo's pain-inducing vest since episode #3.12. He's used similarly off-putting jeans to ensure that looking at him is nearly as unpleasant as looking at a body dredged from a river. At least that hoodie is a nice shade.

Killing spree continues, culprit still at large.

My wish for season 5 is that it opens with Theo destroying these seam-front jeans. Followed immediately by the demise of this sherbet-colored sweatshirt, which is offensive from every angle. The lurid interplay of the orange and pink is particularly unsavory. Don't look at it anymore. Scroll down, save yourself.

Dressed to win press.
For his interview, Theo reprises his jacket from episode #2.18 and his tie from #3.21 with what appears to be a new shirt. It's not a terrible combination, though the palette is a bit loud overall. There's a used car salesman vibe about it. Also, the pants are the wrong shade of khaki; he should be leaning slightly darker, more toward olive or mustard.

Seeing her in drab clothes makes me so so sad.

We only see Clair's first look from the waist up. Maybe this is one of Cliff's shirts? There's no other explanation for how big and ugly it is. Maybe there's a better outfit underneath this smock that she'll reveal once she's finished with breakfast?

Well, that's a thousand percent better.

She looks divine in red, and has been pulling the color out more frequently of late. I love that there's no lapel on this coat: sleek, well-tailored, and modern. The high, thin black skirt and jauntily spotted top bring in flavors of fun and flirtation without losing professionalism and elegance. Ten out of ten, dear.

And then worse again.

But before the press arrives, she changes into this featureless purple getup, presumably because if the cameras saw her in her full glory, all attention would shift from her lackluster son as the story became an exploration of the smartest, most interesting, most beautiful woman in all the world, soon to be elected President of the Universe. This is her Clark Kent drag so that no one will know her true power.

That face is his impersonation of the dead man. Classy.

Unlike his son, Cliff goes fishing in style, matching his episode #4.17 shirt perfectly with some pine green slacks. While I could do without that hat, the jacket is wonderful.

It feels wrong to end on an old look, but that's just how things panned out.

His second look is a direct repeat of his #3.20 outfit.

And that's that! We're exactly halfway through the run of the show now: four seasons over, four seasons left. Hope it's been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me. See you next week with an exploration of the most memorable credits sequence of the whole series!