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, November 25, 2013

Season 6: Opening Credits

Change is coming to the Huxtable household, as shown by the opening sequence. Denise returns from her extended absence, bringing back with her two unknown quantities. This season also occurs during late 1989 and early 1990, meaning that the influences of a new decade (that we've already seen emerging) will become even more prominent. Those notes aren't strongly present in the classed-up credits, but there's still plenty to see.

I can see him thinking in Bill Cosby noises.

The episode opens with Cliff in a spiffy tuxedo in a stylized depiction of the sidewalk outside the Apollo Theater. The rendition of the theme song is exceptionally upbeat, and the cast dances emphatically. His appearance immediately sets a more formal tone, however: he's wearing a tuxedo and a scarf, which is about as dapper as a man can get without sitting on a throne. At the same time, he keeps a sense of joy by opting for a pale yellow shirt and butter-colored sash. As usual, his tie is a thinner variant of the continental tie fashioned from kente cloth. He looks spectacular.

She is life.

In spins Clair, matching his color scheme with a sleek, silky black dress and a diaphanous coat that catches the buoyancy of her movement. She looks elegant and refined while still giving off a sultriness. That vibrant yellow prevents the dress from seeing too somber. It's a knockout presentation. Also, this lady can dance.

It's always refreshing to actually enjoy Sondra.

Sondra and Elvin are next up in a coupled jam-out session. I had assumed that the entire group would rock the same palette, but this blouse immediately dismisses that notion with its subtle peachy pinkness. As a thin woman, she handles voluminous garments well: the embellished top and tiered skirt add to her frame in the right places and accent her actions with their motion. I'm less sold on the jacket; while a wide sleeve can work, I'd like for it to be more tapered at the wrist if not a little narrower overall. Still, this is pretty great offering from her, and hopefully is indicative of an overall upswing in the items she's given.

Not a dancer. Probably also not a guitarist.

Elvin isn't given a close-up, so the details on his outfit are a little fuzzy. What we can tell for sure is that he's committed to a wide cut on those trousers, which is a shame. The jacket isn't shamefully big, but it could fit better. The colors are fine, but this is overall not exceptional. Also, putting him in that beige coat was a risky move, because the black shoes don't really match the garment, but brown shoes would look terrible against the floor and backdrop.

Welcome home, my muse.

Denise is back!!! Who's excited? The clothes say "free spirit" with their flowy, sloppy-chic vibe. She's all over the dressed-down aesthetic. Adding those past-the-waist dreadlocks and men's shoes to the mix, she's letting you have it with the non-conformity. As usual, I love everything she's doing.

Was Denise court-martialed?

But who in the world is she dancing with? If audience members were particularly astute, the might have remembered Joseph C. Phillips as one of Sondra's dates from episode #2.4, but I'm guessing that without an internet full of spoilers like we have today, they were uncertain of who this person might be. Putting him in his Navy uniform is smart in that it clearly establishes part of his backstory, but for someone watching the season 6 premiere, it must have been weird to see Denise and some military man bopping around together. (Since it's a uniform, I'm not going to comment on the clothing.)

Really with that hair? And I know you still have that rat tail.

All black is a smart look, but Theo, like Elvin, is going a little wider than I'd like with his tailoring. I enjoy that he's bringing back the yellow accents, though. I can't comment on the blazer without seeing it on, but I'm loving that there's a matching zigzag in his socks. (There's a close-up of them, but I didn't bother catching it; you should be watching the show along with me anyway, it's good stuff.)

All growed up.

I assume this is what parents feel like. One day you turn around and your little girl is a young lady. That said, I'm super into Vanessa's outfit. She rocks the tomboy chic maybe even better than Denise did at this age (though she's leaning less heavily on the fashion-forward aspects than her sister). But the men's shirt with the fancy buttons and cuff links looks phenomenal on her, as does the vest with the slight outward flare, and the slim trousers are perfect. This is a great template for a fun party outfit. Go out dancing like this. You'll kill it.

Bringing up baby.

Speaking of watching kids grow, look at this one! Rudy is getting to the point where they can style her a little less childishly, so I think this dress is a little too foofy for her. The bows on the shoulders read unnecessarily princessy, especially given her character's free-thinking ways. Not that feminists can't be ruffled; I'm all about wearing whatever you want to wear. But she gets a lot of puff sleeves and frills, and since she's almost as old now as Vanessa was during the show's first season, there doesn't seem to be a need to force the youth angle.

Who dis?

OK, first, I just need to get this off my chest. To Raven-Symoné's parents: you don't put an accent over a silent letter. That's not how accents work. Why did you do that? She's also the second new character to appear in the credits, which is likely creating further confusion for some viewers. Such mysteries! It's kind of a weird but wonderful look she's got going on: the color is fabulous, and she looks kind of like a clown or a pillow, but definitely a high-end clown or pillow. Like, the most expensive one of those you could get.

And that's that. So much to look forward to this season! I hope you're ready. I'm probably not.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Season 5, Episode 26: 57 Varieties

This is it: the end of the fifth season. Don't worry, there are still three more to go, this blog isn't closing down any time soon. To set the stage for summer break, the show focuses on Theo's quest to swindle $1,500 from his parents for a trip to Egypt. They really shouldn't have given it to him. He's a C student who has done absolutely no planning or saving. Unearned rewards aren't going to teach him to better himself!

L.L. Bean There, Done That

The story involves many of Theo's classmates discussing how they're definitely going or not going on the trip. One of them is this guy, who needs a belt. Seriously, don't tuck in your shirt without a belt, people.

At least someone in this school has a job.

The man in the center is not going to Egypt. He also doesn't get a close-up. He also doesn't dress well. He also apparently has a side career as a cameraman, according to his appearance in episode #4.23.

Shit gets racial.

Things get a little weird this week when Theo's professor has the students play a guessing game about her ethnic background, and people uniformly guess their own race. This is the Native American man who correctly intuits that she's also Native American. If I told you "Native American day player in an 80s sitcom," this is the exact image that would jump into your head. Thanks for the stereotypes, costume department!

This hairstyle is back. I've seen it and I hate it.

The Asian-American woman guesses Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. She's got a pretty smart little coat on.

Atlantian? Martian? Fudge Ripple? WHAT IS SHE?!?!

This is Professor Grayson, the ethnically ambiguous woman in question. (She's Cherokee, Irish, and African American, in case you were curious.) I like her in these light, springy colors, though I think she's doing the baggy top thing all wrong. As a teacher, you don't want your clothes to be overtly form-fitting, as that's inappropriate, obviously, so the loose shirt is a nice way to make the dress more conservative, but something about this proportion is neither fashionable nor professional. Given the work context, she probably should have put on a blazer instead. Oh also, she works part-time as a cop, according to episode #5.24.

What is he going to contribute to an archaeological dig?

Harold is immensely in favor of the Egypt trip. He's also immense in general with the saggy cardigan and khakis. Get it together, dude. Loving the color palette, though, particularly that subtle blue stripe in his shirt. So this isn't entirely unsalvageable.

He's got a 4.0 GPA! This man can go on a trip.

Lou's commitment to that hat cannot be questioned. I applaud his commitment to brown/black pairings, too, because I love when those work out. But I'd rather lose a toe than say something nice about that vest. It's an affront.

He's literally only here to make assumptions about someone's background.

Poor Russell never gets new clothes. This is his episode #5.9 outfit with the sweater removed. While we're talking about his appearance late in the episode, let's go over what happens while he's there. Though Cliff rightly suggests that questioning people about their heritage upon first meeting them is somewhat problematic, he nonetheless engages in the second game of "What Is She?" to be played that day. Then the rest of the family enters and plays the game a third time! Not once does anyone ask Professor Grasyon about Egypt. It's a crazy script devoted almost entirely to talking about one woman's racial makeup.

A surprise win!

Against all odds, I'm kind of into Kenny's shirt. I wish I had a picture of it, but the best part of the garment is that there's a little blue flap with white stars on his butt, which makes the whole back into an American flag pattern. Cute, right? This would look like crap on an adult, but it's great for a kid.

Is it Easter already?

What, you think Clueless invented plaid blazers? Think again. (That ruffle action needs to get toned down, though.)

Not there, but getting there.

Those jeans, Vanessa! My eyes! On the other hand, I'm into the t-shirt/blazer pairing, provided you go upstairs and remove all but one of those patches. I'll let you choose which one.

There's not enough space for all the "no" I want to write.

One more reason that Theo shouldn't be allowed to go to Egypt? THIS OUTFIT. First off, we learn the terrible truth, that the episode #5.24 garment is, in fact, a pair of the worst overalls of all time. Underneath, he's wearing a yellow sweatshirt with his own name and face on it. I don't advocate for violence ever, but this is the kind of thing that could push me over the line.

Do not ask this woman for money frivolously.

Clair mostly repeats her episode #4.20 outfit, but swaps out the blouse for one with subtler buttons and throws in some gold accents. Upgrade, well done.

I feel like approving the $1,500 was his idea.

Cliff's braided suspenders offend me, but everything else is fine. Not great, but fine.

Wow, there are a lot of episodes in this show. But there's hopefully some greatness ahead, as we get Denise back for a while in season 6. Oh, how I love her. See you there, kids.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Season 5, Episode 25: Day of the Locusts

Sondra is sick with strep throat and has to juggle her illness with caring for the twins while Elvin is at school. Seeing an opportunity, Clair and Francine swoop in and snatch the babies for a day of grandma fun. When Sondra wakes from her nap in a pharmaceutical-enhanced haze, she goes on a vengeful rampage through Brooklyn in search of her missing children. It's hilarious and weird and probably the only episode in the series thus far to make even decent use of Sabrina LeBeauf as a comedic force.


Point of continuity: when the ladies take the twins to the hairdresser, the same actors from Clair's birthday episode were brought back. This stylist's love of polka dots was even kept as a character trait, though she's gone for a simple skirt and print tee as opposed to the foofy blouse from last time. The emphasis here is clearly on her youthful, punky, street kid style, which I guess is a look. I'm having a bit of a hard time figuring out her leggings. She's got those atrocious bunchy green socks, then a few inches of teal, and then black... are the tights two-toned, or is there some manner of complex layering happening here? Whatever it is, I'm dubious about it.

This is what Madonna was afraid she'd age into.

Karen, the woman who has a name but no apparent job, is giving us a fabulous boy/girl Diane Keaton presentation. The patterned shirt is a hair loud for my tastes, but it's not a terrible choice, really. Everything coheres because the color palette is tight, and the tailoring looks intentionally loose rather than just haphazard. I'm feeling this.

Why do we torment this poor woman?

The motivation behind Francine's styling choices is consistently baffling. What's with the need to put her head-to-toe in one shade? Like, maybe people thought it made you seem slim or young or something in the '80s, but it really just makes her look like a monolith. Then they throw this totally of-its-time coat on top of it, which is both bulky and horribly dated... I just don't know. I want her to look good, and I know it can happen, but the creators of this show did not know how to achieve it.

Not a doctor yet.

Elvin and Sondra wear masks because strep throat and bird flu are the same thing. Anyhow, these jeans are basically his uniform these days, and the green shirt is fine for him. I'm not really into the cuffed sleeves on the jacket, or really the pale jacket as a valid choice in any way.

"I'm thirsty." #ArrestedDevelopment

We're skipping Sondra's first look, which is just pajamas. This one isn't much better, but it's also not supposed to be: these are the items she chooses in a blind panic when bounding out of the house to search the city for her twins. It's totally right in that context: the first jeans and shirt she found lying on the floor, and a slumpy, comfy cardigan to warm her ailing body. Actually, a giant grandma sweater has its place elsewhere, so I'd be happy to see her pull this out again once she returns to sanity.

What does that shirt say? "Be a..." something.

Those leggings! Rudy, you're too young to be in a Mix-a-Lot video.

She should scrap everything except the zany fish earrings.

This combo is a reminder that the 1980s were all about matching outfits. Like, they probably sold these pants and this shirt together so you could wear them both at the same time, making sure to artfully roll the sleeves and pant legs in tandem so people know that these items go together. When did we stop seeing individual garments as individual garments? Let's all be thankful that we got that ability back. These hues are terrible, particularly against the stark black belt, which looks forcefully welded onto the ensemble. (It's the oft-seen Sondra-Season-2-opening-credits belt, by the by.)

Snatching a minor triumph from the jaws of defeat.

Theo's failures during this show are many and varied, and they continue here: the jeans are gross and the shirt is an absolute tent. But let's give credit where credit is due for one of the best prints ever to appear in this blog. The absurdist old-timey-people-with-fish-heads graphics on that one panel are just phenomenal. If he took this shirt to tailor (a tailor with a lot of extra time), he could make it into the greatest garment he owns. I'm delighted.

Working it even when it doesn't work.

Not content to let Cliff have his Cosby sweaters, Clair dives into the fray with what I can only describe as a Cosby blazer. The effect is more cohesive than it has any right to be, but it's still a little much overall. I think part of my prejudice is against the size of the garment; if it were fitted more reasonably to her body, then the amount of conflicting fabrics might be less objectionable. But in its current large, shoulder-padded state, it seems a bit too assertive for me. Also, pairing an almost-white and an almost-black at the very bottom panels makes it quite hard to match pants to this coat. If those flaps were both medium blue, then the khakis wouldn't look as misplaced as they do. Good work on the strong yellow underneath, though, which is just right. In the end, she's wearing this as well as she possibly can.

Blah blah stuff things.

Last and honestly least is Cliff. Blue shirt, khaki pleated trousers. Hint of gray tee. You guys don't need me to say more about that, right?

Sorry that these entries have been coming in a little late recently. I'm still committed to serving as much hotness as possible, despite scheduling oddities. Thanks for sticking with me, folks!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Season 5, Episode 24: What He Did For Love

Remember Jade, the lunatic that Theo kissed to provoke his breakup with Justine? Well, for reasons no one can quite pin down, Denny is dating her now. When he finds an expensive watch on the ground, his friends convince him to present it to her as a symbol of his affection, but things go awry when she learns that the item has in fact been reported stolen.

Too hot to be a cop. (Her. He passes.)

The police show up, though there's no need to review their clothing because they're uniformed. I do, however, have to question the means by which they got involved. According to them, they were tipped off by the jeweler who appraised Jade's watch because the serial number matched the one reported by the theft victim. I have a million questions about this. Jade had her gift immediately appraised? The person who originally owned the watch had the serial number written down somewhere? The jeweler was given the serial number and told to watch out for it? The cops managed to find Jade immediately at this random cafe? I get that this isn't CSI, but there's more hole than plot here.

They're in a commercial for a coffee-flavored soda, I just know it.

In a scene completely unrelated to the rest of the plot, Theo and Lou play jazz loudly to try to attract women. The attention they get isn't exactly positive. Things I noted about these ladies? 1: Hoops. 2: The leaf thing happening with the one on the left isn't working as well as she thinks it is. 3: The one on the right is wearing a smock, plain and simple. 4: Speaking of the one on the right, I stared at her for a full minute trying to figure out what her hat was made of before I realized that it was just her hair.

Finally, someone I dislike more than Sondra.

Presumably after wondering who Theo's most annoying friend might be, the writers introduced Mitchell this week (played by Don Reed, who had already made four appearances as another character on A Different World). An unconscionable amount of time is devoted to his not-particularly-funny impersonation of dubbed kung fu movies. And for the duration, he's wearing baggy amethyst pants with a lavender turtleneck. Yes, please, pour salt on the wound that is his presence.

Also, why is Theo's friend like 40 years old?

Oh good, he has more turtlenecks and sloppy trousers. This is like the color swapped version that player two uses when you and your friend both pick Mitchell in a fighting game.

Would you like some melodramatic fries with that?

This is what Jade is wearing when she receives her watch. Though her entrance suggests that she has the confidence of a dozen Cleopatras, her cap suggests that she works at a fast food chain. It's tough for me to believe that she could feel that good about herself while wearing a modified McDonald's uniform. Truly, the more I look, the more convinced I become that I missed a line in the script about how she just got off work.

See, this is how you serve drama.

Further bolstering my theory that she was forced into the earlier outfit is the fact that she changes into this look later that same day. She gets the watch, gets it appraised, changes clothes, and returns to the cafe. Classy. At least the look is right. If you're going to go overboard, do it thusly: the proportions of the gold crop top and high pants are pretty great, and the hat is just fabulous enough to not be goofy. I'd get rid of that pouch around the waist, though, which turns this into a pirate costume pretty quickly.

His headwear is his only personality trait.

Lou is deeply committed to that hat. His presentation is solid, with the paint splatter effect compensating somewhat for the bland color scheme. I'm fine with it.

Why are they hanging out in the basement? Theo has a big bedroom.

There's a lot of sitting this week, which makes it tough to gauge the fit of people's clothing reliably. These appear to be black jeans rather than yesterday's thinner slacks. As for the shirt, I would personally wear two blues with a brown or khaki pant, but I'm not totally against the garment on its own.

A fool for love, or maybe just a fool.

Poor, malleable Denny. His first instinct was to take the watch to the police, and his idiot friends convinced him otherwise. At least he has some good contrast stitching to brighten his spirits. Not a fantastic overall outfit, but I'm down for that contrast stitching.

He has the frowniest frown!

I thought this was a repeat, but it appears that Denny has several teal sacks in his wardrobe. His poor judgment is continually on display.

She's too young to have secrets, and yet here we are.

Rudy brings back her episode #5.8 look.

Such incredulity.

Vanessa pairs the top half of her episode #5.14 outfit with a new skirt. I stand by my earlier assessment of the shirt and vest; the new stuff doesn't redeem them. I guess the plaids are cohesive, but this would work better without so many patterns warring for attention.

Continued incredulity.

You can barely see it here, but Theo has unbraided his rat tail this week, resulting in an entirely nauseating tuft of scraggles on his neck. Everything else is a mid-toned sack. The pants are too short, the socks are too puffy, the shoes are too black for such a light outfit, the graphic on his tee depicts people cooler than him... His list of offenses is ever longer.

Add one more to the list of offenses.

Later, he tries to fix his outfit with a jacket. It doesn't work.

Death sentence.

What the fucking fuck, Theo? Are you kidding me with this bullshit? High-waisted jeans with denim suspenders and a belt (but no belt loops... Jesus don't tell me those are low-cut overalls) tucked into your fat socks at the bottom? Work with a clashing blue t-shirt? Jump off a bridge. This is unacceptable.


I just don't know. Future generations will try, and fail, to decipher these hieroglyphics. And this episode doesn't even offer me a Clair outfit to dull the pain!

You can probably hear my heaving sighs from wherever you are right now.

The first rule of sweatsuits is we don't talk about sweatsuits.

Well, this week was kind of a bust, huh? Sorry for being a little grouchy about it, but bad clothes get me down. Hopefully next week will life my spirits with fabulousness. Until then, loves.