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 24, 2013

Season 5, Episode 6: The Birth, Part 1

In this two-part episode, Sondra finally delivers her babies. I guess now that Denise's real pregnancy is out of the way, the writers figure they may as well throw aside the fake one, too. That actually helps me out a lot, because now I have fashion to review instead of just the sacks that expectant mothers apparently wore in the '80s.

Here's the thing, though: while this story is divided into two parts, it isn't divided evenly (for my purposes, anyway). Since it all takes place over one day, everyone who shows up in the first segment will be dressed the same next time, meaning that I'd only have a handful of new ground to cover. And there are a bunch of characters, when you include the guest stars. So for today, I'll include the main family and a couple key outsiders; the rest of the cast will be included next week.

He even wrapped it nicely!

We'll start with Kenny, since he's an easy one: this is his episode #4.12 sweater paired smartly with some gray jeans and not-so-smartly with a plaid shirt that I think is left over from Peter's appearance in #3.10. There's a throwaway gag about the gift he's carrying that I hope will be brought back next week. I mean, don't tell me he's hiding a baby bump now.

"Pastel" is the opposite of "passion."

Justine has returned, but she's dressed like a sales associate at Chico's. This sweatsuit with that indoor jacket over it, in these colors, plus that brooch... Why not just hire a grandmother to play the role? Theo is possibly going through a Harold & Maude situation in his life.

These kids today with their talking and their bip-bop music!

Rapid-fire Kara is also back. I guess the wardrobe department is really running with "loud" as her key character trait, because while this outfit is less overtly atrocious than her last one, it's still pushing it. She's throwing down chartreuse and bright yellow, plus that floral layer. The thick braid and giant turtleneck of her sweater would be overpowering all on their own; I can't imagine what would possess someone to combine this many elements. Shopping with her must be exhausting.

Could we not do a close-up? For me?

Rudy isn't around at all this week, and Vanessa shows up only briefly. I wish I knew what was happening under that jacket, because she's been on a roll lately. I'm hesitant about her pants, which are lacking neatness in their tailoring, but she might have a top to compensate for that. We'll never know. (OK, we might know next week.) The green of her coat is causing me some concern, but it's not unforgivable.

So smug for a man with no style.

We don't see it much, but we should never forget that Theo still has that tiny rat tail with the two beads on it. Never, ever forget. If you do manage to look past that, you might notice his sweatpants, which are an unacceptable form of clothing for public display. I don't absolutely despise the shirt; the shade is great for him, and at least he's trying with that texture across the shoulders and the striped mock turtleneck. It's still practically a sweatshirt, though, and we can do better.

Don't worry, soon you can stop with that padding.

Unless we're pregnant. Sondra is about to give birth, and can thus wear whatever she wants.

He's all about gender equality and looking totes masc.

Elvin has combined his episode #4.13 shirt with his #4.7 vest and #5.4 pants. Plus stubble for extra wilderness realness. So rugged, right?

Too youthful to be a mother of five and grandmother of two.

Clair is continuing her Orientalism from last week with a Tibetan (or at least Tibetan-inspired) vest and some mauve-y garments to support it. The complicated patterning on her shirt and pants ends up looking kind of like polka dots and splotches more than skillful detail when viewed from far away, and truthfully I don't know that she's pulling this kind of appropriation off as well as Denise would. I hate to call anything that she does an outright miss, but this feels off to me. I'd encourage her to steer back toward familiar territory.

He's indoors. When night hits, this is gonna get uncanny.

And our last participant today is Cliff, wearing a sweater depicting a strangely constructed house. Is it a palace with columns? A larger structure with a dog house in front of it? A residence that has been tented while the owners spray for parasites? The use of his sleeves to show a fence with ivy growing on it was pretty clever. I also enjoy that he kept it simple with gray pants but then used that bright red shirt to add a burst of something new. Congratulations on a good outfit. Oh, and I guess on the grandpa thing, too.

Come back next week and see who else turned up for the birth! (Hint: friggin' everyone. It's crowded around here, which is why Cliff had to make more room on his torso.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Season 5, Episode 5: Out of Brooklyn

Denise petitions her parents for permission to move to Zaire as a photographer's assistant. Meanwhile, Vanessa worries that she has been dumped by her current beau. Does it all work out in the end? Like, duh.

Cosby Show Roy J August Richards
Most definitely not worth sweating, Vanessa.

This is Roy, the man responsible for Vanessa's heartache this week. Turns out it was all a misunderstanding, and he hopes they never break up. He's portrayed by J. August Richards, who you might recognize as Charles Gunn from Angel. He's wearing a gray and yellow t-shirt that's too long, but since he's only in one quick scene at the end of the episode, we don't get more information than that.

Cosby Show Kara Elizabeth Narvaez
Send help. For me, not her.

Vanessa also gets a new friend this episode. Fast-talking Kara, played by Elizabeth Narvaez, appears seven more times in this series and once on A Different World. In terms of fashion, she's from a different planet. Let's jump straight to that acid green garment, because the t-shirt and floral leggings I at least understand on a conceptual level. But, like, tell me what I'm seeing in this parachute-proportioned button-down shorts coverall creation. Was this a costume worn by a circus dwarf being shot out of a cannon? Other than miniature airborne acrobatics, what other purpose could this item serve? This is one of the most deeply confusing creations ever to appear on this blog. Let us hope that it never returns, as I am not equipped to decipher the riddles it poses.

Cosby Show Janet Meiser Pam Potillo
Small business loans of the damned.

Janet Meiser is also back. Normally I'd say that the notch-collar sweatsuit makes her look like she's wearing a Star Trek uniform, but Kara's nonsense outfit nicely protects everyone else from comparisons to otherworldly fashions. Thus, all I can really say is that the rusty top and pants are boring and the blazer is so comically large that it almost reaches her knees. She's practically swimming in it. How does she not understand that it just plain doesn't fit? No, honey. No.

Cosby Show Elizabeth L Scott Caldwell
She has seen and photographed pygmies. What you got?

Our last guest star is L. Scott Caldwell, who plays Elizabeth, the photographer that Denise will be assisting. Be careful on that plane ride, ladies: Ms. Caldwell is best known for her role as Rose on Lost. Her style is definitely meant to seem bohemian and international: the loose, patterned garments, head wrap, and unique jewelry all point to a fashion perspective informed by her years of exposure to non-Western sensibilities. The horizontal stripes are cohesive and the palette is sensible without being boring. Plus, she's probably super comfortable. Good for you, Elizabeth.

Cosby Show Rudy Huxtable Keshia Knight Pulliam
Huh.

Jackie O. meets Sheila E.

Cosby Show Vanessa Huxtable Tempestt Bledsoe
When depressed, wear cheerful tones.

I'm almost never going to support someone wearing just one color. You'd have to be exceptionally deft to pull it off, and Vanessa just isn't. The proportions here are great, honestly: I love the length of the pant, the rolled-up sleeves, and the overall fit of her clothes. But she needs a contrasting color other than the weird patterning on her top and the stripes at her collar and cuff. By wearing darker capris, she could have gotten away with less fuss elsewhere, which would have made everything a million times better.

Cosby Show Theo Huxtable Malcolm Jamal Warner
Awfully cocky for a man in his dad's duds.

For this scene, Theo borrows Cliff's episode #4.23 sweater.

Cosby Show Denise Huxtable Lisa Bonet
We'll miss you!

Since Denise is still pregnant, we're stuck with her floral shrouds. This particular pattern looks strikingly familiar to me, but I can't find an instance in which someone else on the show has worn it. Regardless, I'm looking forward to her fashion choices after the off-screen baby is born.

Cosby Show Denise Huxtable Lisa Bonet
I might even miss this coat.

For some reason, she changes into funeral gear for the final scene. This is after Elizabeth has left the house, so she's not dressed up for the guest. Is this a travel look? Is she leaving for Africa immediately after the conversation with her parents is over? It makes no sense. Though I will say that she looks sort of darkly fabulous here. I'll accept it.

Cosby Show Clair Huxtable Phylicia Rashad
Tim Burton's Secretary

Clair starts the day off in her episode #4.2 skirt. I'm so glad she brought it back, because it's such a gutsy garment. Office leather is the best leather. Her broad-striped blouse is fine, though the shoulder pads are pretty extreme and the palette could be a little catchier.

Cosby Show Clair Huxtable Phylicia Rashad
Tyler Perry presents Madea Goes to Asia

When Elizabeth comes to visit, she changes into this. I suppose she didn't want to be outdone by her guest's international flair. She's all, "Oh, I have global tastes, too. Look at this Japanophilia nonsense." You did not buy this outside of Brooklyn, I'm positive. It just seems costumey. If she had matched those golden pants with a different patterned black blouse, she'd be in much better territory.

Cosby Show Cliff Huxtable Bill Cosby sweater
Psychological evaluation. I fail.

Cliff's sweater is maybe a tree, but a tree with eyes? Or perhaps a butterfly? This is some Rorschach realness right here. I'm pretty bored by his color choices other than that sweet mauve collar.

And that's that. Denise is off to Zaire for the entire rest of the season, which means I'm going to have to tolerate Sondra a lot more frequently. Lord give me strength.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Season 5, Episode 4: Move It

First off, apologies for being a day late with this post.

Anyhow: Cliff and Clair grow increasingly concerned with the apartment into which their grandchild will be born, but Sondra and Elvin refuse to accept monetary help. Eventually, they work out a plan for a loan and then immediately find new living quarters. I guess hunting for a place was easier back then.

This episode involves guest stars, grandparents, and three whole days of plot, so get ready for a long ride. I'll try to focus on the most important points on each outfit so that you don't end up stuck in your chair all day.

He has a beeper. Remember beepers?

Edouard DeSoto plays the shady landlord, Mr. Rueter. He's still working here and there, mostly in guest spots on Law & Order and its variants. In terms of costuming, he is wearing brown. Like, that's basically all there is to say.

This is his "give me your money" outfit.

He pops up at the end of the episode to show the apartment to new prospective renters (who of course accept it immediately because this is, like, the dream slum). For people who have not yet signed a lease, he seems to try a little harder, rocking some slate slacks, a creamsicle shirt, and an honest-to-goodness tie in a mottled pattern that I surprisingly adore. Overall, this is maybe a great look.

This is his "take my money" outfit.

The couple viewing the apartment seems too nicely dressed for people who would actually enjoy living in this garbage place. (Then again, Sondra grew up rich and she still toughed it out.) You might recognize the husband, played by Raphael Sbarge, for his current work on Once Upon a Time as Jiminy Cricket. His exterior is standard '80s prep, which is honestly almost the same as standard 2010s prep. If those pants were slimmer and not pleated, he'd look fairly current, though kind of square.

I couldn't tell you what purpose she thinks this outfit serves.

His wife is played by Mary Ward, who gets occasional gust roles on TV shows. The heart knit on that sweater is clearly intended to show us what an innocent little lamb she is, so I'm surprised that the piece is paired with that above-the-knee skirt. Not that it's an immodest length, but she could just as easily have worn something longer, or even gone with pants. I guess the corduroy was conveying youth and playfulness? I dunno. The grungy brown isn't spectacular; I'm partial to something richer. More like chocolate, less like mildew, you know?

It's impossible to screencap this woman making a non-crazy face.

Grandma Anna drops by in a solid showing. Though there's a lot of medium brown and black in her creation, she also pulls in some flashier colors with that pinkish red blouse and the hints of turquoise in her cardigan. I'm keen on that sweater's length, too. She looks comfortable but not dowdy. I'm into it.

His closet must be almost empty.

Poor Grandpa Russell never gets new clothes. That plaid shirt has shown up twice before, and the teal vest is old too. Usually his new configurations hang together nicely, but these items have less connective tissue. Maybe it's time for a shopping trip. We've run out of ways to put his garments together productively.

Yup, she can read, we get it.

Rudy has relied heavily on pink lately. Let's watch to see whether her stereotypically feminine palette choices continue to undercut her ostensible place as the tiniest mascot for gender equality.

Who'd have thunk we'd end up living for Vanessa?

The goddess phase continues. Like Denise before her, Vanessa is making bold choices that have little to do with traditional female presentation. The eggplant and forest green exude an almost masculine vibe, while the goldenrod turtleneck and matching stripes in the cardigan suggest old-school royalty. I'd usually frown on the button embellishments, but somehow they seem right here. I don't know, there's a costume drama feel to this that I can't put my finger on. She's somewhere between the queen and the court jester with this look, but I'm behind it all the way.

Close, and yet not close.

So, there are parts of this that approach mediocrity. Like, the pants are a little pajama-y, but if that fabric was just slightly sturdier and the pattern were a little brighter, then he'd have a serious jam going on below the waist. The blazer would be a great compliment if it fit him well. The t-shirt, of course, is unacceptable in this context. He's getting there, but this is mostly still just a sloppy, washed-out mess. Nice try I suppose.

*sigh*

Since Lisa Bonet's real pregnancy continues to interfere with Denise's fictional life, we see less of her and she wears less interesting pieces. Everything here is just drab and blobby and designed mainly to obscure. I miss the old days.

Don't care.

Fake pregnancy also leads to boredom. Sondra has three different maternity looks for us. The first is a navy creation. I can't tell if the shape messes with her proportions or if she's just carrying really high.

Still don't care.

Day two involves the same off-white turtleneck with a different smock over it. It's an OK color for her.

Nope, no cares here.

Purple overalls because why not?

He's always so cheery.

Elvin continues to procure every last stitch of his clothing from the wilderness store. This variation on his plaid-shirt-and-corduroy-pants theme at least adds interest with a slightly brighter blue and a bolder white base. Normally you barely even register his presence because of all the neutrals.

Thank heavens for repeats. This entry is getting long.

This sweater first appeared in episode #4.7.

Let's just pretend it's a repeat.

This is a slightly cleaner take on his #2.19 shirt. The pattern is more defined and the shades are more controlled. I'm into it.

Another near match. We're running out of ideas, huh?

Clair previously showed us a yellow blazer in episode #4.20, but this one is superior. Though it's still a tad bulky, there's more shape to it; the collar is also smaller and more streamlined. Underneath, she's giving classic black with some chic golden embellishments. The turtleneck is a bit heavy-looking underneath a wide jacket, but otherwise it's a good look.

Sleek and chic.

Sometimes a basic is best. This plain salmon top looks great on her. All you need are the right color and the right fit.

Serving Ten Forward realness.

Remember what I said about basics, Clair? Seriously, you go too far with the weirdness and you end up looking like you bought Guinan's hand-me-downs.

I always try to find a rhyme for sweaters in these captions. I should give up.

Cliff starts the episode in a nice patchwork number. The punch-colored collar is a delight against the soft denimy shades of the sweater.

A bunch of bunching.

His new tactic of delivering waist weirdness in the pantaloons is not playing well with me. Get this harem nonsense out of here.

Serenity is paying for your daughter's apartment, I guess.

He's doing better here, though it's not flawless. The texturing of the shirt is off for me in a way that I can't quite place, but it makes the garment look cheap. Maybe because it reminds me of velcro? You're not going to go wrong with gray slacks, but the stripe on his socks is distracting and should have been avoided. It's a decent turn overall.

And that's that. Worth waiting an extra day, I hope. Luckily, the internet is HUGE. I'm sure you found something else to distract you while I was absent.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Season 5, Episode 3: Rudy's All-Nighter

I'm sorry to have to do this to you, darlings, but it's a Rudy episode this week. They're always the dullest, because let's be honest, so few things happen to people below the age of 16, especially when those people are members of wealthy sitcom families. Tonight, she's having a sleepover. Elsewhere in the house, Theo is rewriting a paper on which he received a poor grade. Like, literally, the B-plot is "watch someone do homework." It's pretty dire.

Costarring with Bill Cosby and Bette Midler? She peaked way early.

The friend staying the night is named Carolyn. If you're like me (and by that, I mean addicted to gay movies), then you recognize young actress Grace Johnston as Barbara Hershey's daughter in Beaches. Her career never really took off, though she did appear in an episode if The Closer in 2009. The gimmick she's saddled with is an old favorite for the show's writers: she's a child who talks like an adult. In terms of style, however, she's pretty standard: black sneakers, cuffed jeans, patterned blouse. I guess there's something a little matronly about that dark print, but it's tough to tell under the pastel tent of that jacket, which she does not remove. The salon-level hair is, I suppose, another indicator that she's a fancy little lady.

Not a girl, not yet a woman. OK, kind of still a girl.

Rudy's costuming continues to convey maturity through its evolving palette. Though she pulls in some of the pastel pink of childhood, she pairs it with a mossy coat and subtler plaid skirt. The volume on the bottom is great for me, though I have less affection for the patch on her coat pocket (distracting) or the small black emblem in the middle of her chest (confusing). I suppose if I could see the rest of the shirt, that doodle might connect to other embellishments. Or maybe if I knew what it was a drawing of? Eh. Point is: solid look.

Sassy face, sub-par clothes.

Her second outfit is a little more childish, which I guess is to make sure that she's juxtaposed appropriately with her grand dame of a guest. She's not wearing two different colored shoes, by the way: each shoe is itself two colors, but they match. Or mirror each other, really. The pink and yellow work for her alright, but really I don't want to dignify this with too much attention, as it is a sweatsuit.

Contrast.

The girls also both wear pajamas in this episode. Presented without comment.

She's a grown woman, she can do whatever she wants.

Stepping up our game, are we? This is lining up to be Vanessa's season. She's got a stately confidence about her that sells whatever she chooses to wear. This look is the kind of thing that would be relevant today because it was relevant when she wore it. Like, you'd pick up this sweater second-hand and it wouldn't fit right because it's someone else's, but that'd be OK because those textured flowers are kind of great and the dirty-looking ochre power-clashes with the magenta undershirt, and then you'd bounce into the party with those tops and your perfect dark denim to support it and everyone would be way into it. So this is a yes.

I feel like I should praise this, but it's not happening.

Theo is trying for the college man thing by wearing more formal items as if they were casual. Pleated slacks, shirt buttoned all the way up, nice cardigan, and all in shades of gray. It's not a terrible creation. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the droopy fit of these pieces is intentional, so as to convey that he's not "dressed up." On the other hand, I'm bored by the use of three tonally similar striped patterns. This is begging for an accent shade.

Nobody does it better.

Sorry for the credits over that shot, but Clair spends almost no time standing in this outfit. She owns many red blazers, though this one seems to be different from all the others. When something works for you, stick with it, I guess. The use of cream and brown to support that jacket is just right, and as usual she knows how to shape things to complement her own shape. Go to work, lady.

He tests my comprehension frequently.

Cliff begins the episode in a garment that I can't quite grasp. As you can see, the black fabric extends clean up to his rib cage. What I can't discern is whether that's a separate cummerbund or a part of the pants themselves. Either way, in the closer shot we learn that there are buttons all the way up, because if it's weird, it might as well also be fussy. I'm fond of that golden shirt, but I really don't know what to make of the corsetry around his midsection.

A brief break before the madness continues.

His second sweater (with the same or similar black pants) has a weird feel. It's Yoshi's Cookie or semaphore writing or flags for imaginary countries, presented over TV static. Inoffensive, only slightly strange, not quite chic.

Arrrrrrrrrrr!

Later he portrays a pirate by putting his episode #4.20 vacation shirt over his existing outfit. Neither his hat nor his Hawaiian print seem even vaguely piratey to me. This family usually has much higher standards when playing dress-up.

And back to madness.

It's a shame we don't get more of this sweater, since it's the most Cosby of the trio. It's serving variations on a theme more than an outright pattern, repeating the same image of concentric squares rendered in a variety of different colors and textures. The effect is mind-bending; I approve.

Darling!

Speaking of Huxtable cosplay, I had to save this for last: Clair and the girls end the episode by wearing matching outfits (and personalities) to the mall. Pink looks great on everyone, huh? This look wouldn't carry you far today, but it's clearly meant to be an exaggeration of the styles of the time, so it's not fair to look at this as an honest attempt at fashion. How awesome a mom is she for orchestrating this? So awesome. (It's specified that this is her jewelry, and I'm a little concerned that she had this many giant necklaces in varied colors, but I'm going to trust that she can make them work in other contexts.)

That last shot is seriously the only reason to watch this episode, by the way. And on that note: see you next week.