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, July 29, 2013

Season 5, Episode 11: Is There a Hamster in the House?

Rudy's friend Carolyn returns to the show, this time with a pet. It's unclear why she beings her hamster to the Huxtable household in the first place, knowing as she does that she will not be able to leave with the animal. (She is going to spend the night with her grandmother, who does not like pets.) It takes some convincing, but Cliff eventually agrees to hold onto Darren for the night. The hamster dies, but not before a lengthy, expensive, and frankly implausible trip to the emergency vet. The next day, Carolyn sees through the family's ploy to mollify her with a replacement rodent, but reassures them that this has happened many times before.

Oh, and speaking of pets: a pet peeve of mine is people saying and writing "hampster," which made this episode rather difficult for me. The DVD menu even includes the P in the title!

Her stylist is a cat.

The overnight animal emergency room clerk is played by Diana Georger. This role marks the beginning of her sporadic on-screen career. Though hired to deal with animal emergencies, she still wears a whimsical coat with tiny paw prints on it. Which makes sense, given that none of the clients in her waiting room have actual emergencies, even though Cliff repeatedly stresses that it is 4:00am.

So, there are one or two indicators that he's "goofy" if you look closely.

The first of two (uncredited, at least on the IMDb) non-emergency patients is this heavily accented man. His dog, he says, is depressed. So depressed, apparently, that it couldn't wait another four or five hours until a regular vet opened. His costuming is pretty overtly broadcasting nuttiness. The warring plaids clash fantastically, the coat is several sizes too small, and the beret has been pulled down all the way to his eyebrows. I also worry about mixing too many neutrals: brown, black, and gray are all good bases for outfits, but don't necessarily coordinate as easily as you might think. He's being presented, effectively, as a clown.

The mustache? Why the mustache?

This man brings in an agitated seal. Again, his judgment in using emergency services for what is essentially an interpersonal disagreement is questionable. Would you bring your spouse to the emergency room because of a verbal argument? He's dressed like the gay Indiana Jones.

She looks awfully no-nonsense for what is essentially a joke job.

Iona Morris plays the vet. She still appears in TV shows, but her bread and butter seems to be voiceover work, including several long stints voicing various cartoon incarnations of Storm from the X-Men. She's wearing scrubs and a long white coat, like you would if you were a vet.

Smallest wardrobe in the show.

Russell appears briefly, and as usual sports repeats: his tragic episode #4.16 cardigan over his #3.14 shirt, plus some dark pants that are too close in shade to the sweater. Not his best effort.

I can't believe neither girl squeezed this animal to death during filming.

Carolyn is sticking with the sort of bright, childlike presentation that Rudy favored last season. As another one of the show's kids who talk like adults, I suppose the younger style is meant to ironically heighten her precocious conversational skills.

She's all about different ways to hold that hair back.

Her return the following day is brief; there's not even time for her to remove her jacket. Notice, though, that she opted for blue slacks rather than jeans, which is a nice touch. I also love her boxy purse, though I doubt that a girl her age has much to put in it.

Another possible hamster-smashing culprit.

Rudy's first outfit is a little too pajama-y for my tastes. If you're going to throw a baggy shirt over leggings, as the young ones these days are wont to do, you're probably going to want to belt it. And maybe avoid the long, rolled sleeves, which make the sizing of the shirt seem more accidental than intentional.

Stay away from the mustahced man. That's advice for LIFE.

Her animal hospital look repeats episode #5.08's top, with the reveal that she owns matching pants.

I kind of want those shoes.

She dresses it up a little more for Carolyn's return. The sweatpants (with more rolls, ugh) and turtleneck aren't formal by any means, but that zippered cardigan adds the barest touch of class. The uniformity of hues in this red and gray creation leaves me cold.

Always improving.

There's potential in Vanessa's outfit for this episode, though it's not fully realized. She's aiming high, interweaving classical influences with detailing from the American Southwest. While it doesn't hang together beautifully for me, there's a beauty in the effort. The main challenge is that it's pretty puffy and busy. If she's adding so much volume in the skirt and sleeves, she could have gone tighter in the torso. The amount of embellishment is also a tad high. But I'm a fan of the palette, with the cream and earth tones transitioning into bold teal leggings. (I've cropped out her yellow socks, as she should have done when getting dressed this morning.)

Windbreaker. Ugh.

Theo wears this. I have nothing to say about it.

Rad dad.

Since Clair appears only in pajamas this week, she will not be present in this entry. We'll move straight to Cliff, who goes in a slightly different direction than usual with his initial presentation. Like his daughter, he's pulling from some antiquated reference points with the added billow to his sleeve, the buttoned top button, and the ornate pattern on his shirt. The leather (is that alligator?) suspenders are just plain fierce. While that pouf at the wrist is a little much for me, I'm overall rather pleased with his delivery here.

He says he heard the hamster sneeze. NOT AN EMERGENCY.

He wears the same pants to the vet, plus a sweatshirt and the coat and hat we've seen him rock many times before.

Look at All. Those. Wiggles.

Cliff's final look bores me. There's too much gray, the pattern on the sweater is too dark to emerge from the background, and the mock turtleneck is constructed in a way that makes it look loafy and awful. In fact, much of that sweater looks loafy and awful. This garment, like so many garments on this series, does not fit.

I can't tell you how sad I am to have missed Clair outfits this week. Hopefully there will be a few to throw down next Monday. Bye until then!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Season 5, Episode 10: If The Dress Fits, Wear It

When Clair finds that she cannot fit into an old dress, she begins a campaign to lose five pounds in six days. Cliff is inexplicably eager to sabotage his wife's efforts, though never for the obvious reason that a crash diet is terribly unhealthy.

Mad snooty.

The week's first guest star is Carole Shelley, playing Clair's dress-making friend Barbara. Her entire personality seems to be summed up in the words "stuffy British woman," and her costuming continues with that theme. By dressing her in hose and a below-the-knee skirt, making the clothes out of heavy fabrics, and keeping the color scheme limited to dark variants of the blue family, the wardrobe people maintain her sense of dowdiness. I do commend the pairing of patterned blouse with woven coat, though; there's a power-clashing thing happening there that oddly works. They've found a way to inject style into a not-so-stylish mode of operation.

She has the calm of a Zen master.

Clair also meets Kay this week, another exercising woman played by Yvonne Warden. I don't have anything to say about her because workout clothes aren't part of this blog's ever-vaguer mission, but it felt wrong to leave her out, especially since this was her television debut!

Ferocious.

I'm also not necessarily invested in doing a full rundown for Emma, Clair's sadistic aerobics instructor, but it would be wrong to overlook a guest appearance by Phylicia Rashad's own sister, Debbie Allen. She has a couple looks this week, but they're both intended for exercise. Somewhere, the decision was made to include leopard print in all of her looks, which is an interesting touch that I assume is meant to drive home what a fearsome monster she is. No really, the students are all terrified of her, and seemingly with good reason.

Her torso isn't that small.

The children appear only briefly in this episode, during a single scene in which Cliff cooks a dinner intended to derail Clair's strict diet. Rudy opts for a pink buttoned shirt that would be fine if it weren't cropped, which is becoming kind of a theme for her lately. And what's with the coat of arms on the breast pocket? Ostentatious for someone whose age hasn't hit double digits yet. The pants are from this season's premier.

No, really, it's the hat.

Vanessa doesn't get a close-up, so we only have this to work with. Her shirt is also a repeat from this season's first episode, though it is now untucked and paired with trousers. I shouldn't like the outfit, but somehow the hat ties it together and I actually approve.

His rat tail will be the death of me.

The lavender of this turtleneck looks great on Theo. If it were tighter, I might not even mind the bagginess of the pants, but there needs to be more contrast between the fit of the two garments for that kind of thing to work. Nonetheless, he comes close to pulling off an actual success here. (If we ignore that tiny beaded ponytail, which we always must.)

Oh my goddess.

Clair spends almost no time in her first outfit, though in the few minutes it is shown, we learn two things. One: it is perfect. Two: she does not under any circumstances need to lose five pounds! But seriously, look at this impeccable presentation. Her skirt is the absolute ideal for which all other skirts should strive. The blouse makes shoulder pads work. It makes them work! The goldenrod pattern is dazzling yet elegant. And then across her waist, what do I see? A belt in deepest green. Green, mind you. I am in heaven.

Why is this even available for purchase?

I have nothing to say about this, but I couldn't not show it to you.

Ground control to major failure.

Ditto on this. She has a third outfit for jogging, and I felt that was OK to skip for some reason.

School pride.

Rather than spoil the surprise of Clair's dress, let's look at Cliff's outfits. First we've got the loungewear section. Any Latin scholars out there want to take a stab at what Hillman College's motto is?

Just buy a full carton. The kids will drink what's left.

This sweater reminds me of those gummi wedges of candy fruit I used to eat as a child. Was there ever anything more delicious than a gummi orange slice? I certainly couldn't think of anything at the time. (My taste buds are slightly more refined now, but only slightly.) The palette is a little drab for him, though; maybe it's just because I have citrus in my head now, but I would have loved some more vibrant tones to round this out. It's not terrible, but it's not great.

Dapper and dashing.

Like the previous sweater, this kente tie lacks the punch we've come to expect from the doctor. A few thinner, bolder stripes would have made this a standout choice. Though you'd expect the somber tones to add formality, they somehow don't. I think this accessory actually looks cheaper when it's more subdued. it somehow needs the fascinating brightness. Otherwise: tuxedo.

Trying SO HARD.

And paired with that tuxedo? This... well, I don't know what this is. I want to adore it, I really, truly do, but I think in my heart of hearts I know that it is gaudy and overwrought. Too many colors, too much shiny rigmarole, too much embellishment, and then a bustled cape because why ever stop? There's just entirely too much going on here. She needs, like, 75 percent less look.

Sorry to have to end on a Clair take-down, which is my least favorite activity. Hopefully next week will be full of fabulous clothes to cheer you back up. Bu-bye!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Season 5, Episode 9: How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

A video karaoke booth at the mall (where is this "mall" the kids keep going to?) convinces Vanessa and her friends that they could be a successful girl group. Dubbing themselves The Lipsticks, they shriek their way through "The Locomotion" many times, never quite recognizing the limits of their abilities. There's also some minor excitement when Russell, while on vacation, receives an envelope declaring him a sweepstakes winner. Cliff and Theo conspire to open the letter and find out what he's won while Clair repeatedly intervenes to prevent her family members from committing a crime.

Sing from your hoo-hoo!

As part of their creative  development, the ladies seek a single voice lesson from professional singer Amanda Woods, played by jazz legend Betty Carter. Since a Google search turned up no images of Ms. Carter in a tiny bow tie, I have to assume that this choice is an invention of the costuming department. The overall look for her is a little slapdash: uneven horizontal bands of random colors, a tan hat that doesn't fit her particularly well, black harem pants that are even less suited to her shape, a grody belt, the aforementioned bow tie (with no collar around which to tie it), and a distracting white button beneath. What is all this nonsense? I know she's just rehearsing, but she expected company. Spruce it up, hon!

This is what the Grammy should look like.

At the end of the episode, the family goes to watch her perform. Other than the continued application of the bow tie, I'm supporting this. Like, it's a little over the top, but she's a singer on a stage. If you're asking people to pay, you may as well make your outfit into an event. The all-over textured gold creation, with bare shoulders for a splash of sass, is a great look for her age and profession.

Less talking, more looking in the mirror, lady.

Oh, Kara, you motor-mouthed fashion victim. I'm horrified by this. The wide, too-short shirt with gross detailing at the collar is terrible, but pales in comparison to the garish, haphazardly tailored plaid pants. And then those pink socks? This is offensive. Preposterous fits have a short shelf life, and this outfit probably expired roughly ten minutes after it was made.

This space unintentionally left blank.

Oh, dear. She briefly appears in a second outfit, but I'm away from home and don't have access to that image right now. I'll update Monday night to ensure completeness. Sorry.

I'm pretending those aren't sweatpants. I need to.

Janet's floral creation is cohesive, if misguided. The pinks, yellows, and deeper mustard shades all hang together well, even if I'm not personally a fan of the combination. I think the top shirt, while adding some complexity to make this worth looking at, is what ruins it for me. The base is plain, but difficult to insult.

Sweet duds, as ever.

For this appearance, Russell wears his episode #4.5 blazer over his #2.25 lilac shirt and a yellow sweater that, honestly, I know we've seen before even if I can't find where right now. Everything works except the jacket, which needs to match the pants a little less closely. A darker brown, or a different shade entirely, would have been better. Otherwise, he's bringing it as always. You deserve the toaster you won, sir.

"But I'm a child!"

Rudy is in all pink ruffles and cannot believe that I would dare to question that choice. Oh, I'll dare.

No thank you.

Vanessa's still wearing that jacket.

I'm not feeling the star quality, hon.

You know, I feel bad ragging on this, because she's doing a few things right here. To unify things, she's staying in the green/yellow continuum. The fun details like the non-standard collar and the suspender-y straps and the buttons down the back of the skirt are assertive, even if they're not astounding. But the proportions are too ballooned, and the matching socks pulled over her tights make it look like the fabric is sagging and bunching, so this is one of those either/or situations. If she narrowed the sleeves, I could see the top half of this working, but the lower section might have to be abandoned and rebuilt from scratch.

The confusion is mutual.

Vanessa and Janet's looks for the concert are given relatively little exposure. They both appear to be wearing ugly sweaters, and should think about trying something else next time.

Yeah, confusion seems to be going around.

Then again, when left to their own devices, they created this as their show-stopping girl group couture. Clair berates them for dressing too sexily, but I'm not convinced that anyone would look anywhere other than away.

You need to come back to us. Please.

Too-short tops. That's gonna keep happening, huh? Theo's getting in on the action with this wide-necked, cropped gray sweatshirt. He at least busies things up a bit with the red graphic on the side, but I'm not overall thrilled with the selection. Those garbage bag pants aren't spectacular, either. I think this whole family has lost its way somehow.

Mid-forearm bracelet. Clock that hotness.

The tendency toward wearing all one color will simply never make sense to me. Sure, it's easier, but you almost always look completely bland! Clair works her hardest to use the bunched sleeves and raised design on her sweater to justify the matching pants, but it doesn't work. This piece needs help, and she doesn't provide it. And if she can't manage it, then don't you even try.

My sweet goddess. How can you hurt me so?

No, Clair! How could you do this? I bet the look is fine without the fraying, shaggy cardigan, but that wispy, dingy nonsense has dampened the whole situation.

And the brilliance begins.

This is actually Cliff's second look, but since we just saw it, we may as well continue with it. The buttoned top button isn't great, and the pants are pulled up too high, but he's got a good palette going, while the rest is a classic take on men's semi-formal attire. Extra points for the barely-patterned grass green.

Home run.

Cliff's first look is also pretty great. I mean, yeah, pleated cords, a shame. But the bizarre graphic sweater with the geese and the Japanese flag sky and the dark colors against the cobalt collar: all that is phenom. Good going, doc.

Sorry this one was kind of short, guys. I'm out of town and typing between games of 20 questions with my six-year-old nephew. He's awesome.

UPDATE: Below is Kara's final look.

Completely not worth waiting for.

Not that we expected a high level of taste here, but did she have to clutter the puke green blazer with those nonsensical pins? That must be jewelry designed by kindergarteners she babysits or something. Also, the profile view of her hair is insane. Your head should never be that shape.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Season 5, Episode 8: Cyranoise de Bergington

If nothing else, I'm pretty sure this episode will stand out for having the worst title of the entire series. There are two parallel stories this week. First, we learn that Rudy wants to earn money from her father so that she can order a tacky piece of catalogue jewelry for her mother. She does chores for Cliff to earn the cash, but makes him promise to keep silent about their arrangement, leading Clair to believe that Rudy is simply a deeply industrious child. Meanwhile, Theo learns that Howard and Julia have broken up, but his intricate plan to ask her out ends up misfiring when she decides to date his friend Denny instead.

Cover girl! Put the bass in your walk.

Naomi is still holding it down. The British schoolboy inspiration nods at her country of origin and adds a playful quality to the demure coverage of her long sweater and pants. The spectrum of ocher, brown, and mossy greens holds together flawlessly, and the slightly baggier fit is justified in the more traditionally masculine styling. And who could say no to a giant safety pin brooch? (My one quibble: I'd have placed it differently so that we could see it better, since it's obscured by her hair.)

You left her because you need to study more?!

Howard is sticking with his academic look, rocking a turtleneck, cardigan, and corduroys in a manner that almost suggests a professor more than a student. His palette is a little dour, though; even the burst of eggplant in his scarf is too dark for my tastes. This outfit is begging for some brightness somewhere.

Naomi Campbell has weird taste in men.

If Cockroach were still around, this would have been his plotline. Clearly, Denny is now fulfilling the role of best friend. Those pants are a wrinkled, pleated, overly light disaster. I'm not horrified by the sweater, though I think it's too literal: in a story where he's accused of being two-faced, don't give him a split shirt. Like, we get it. Also, what's going on with his collar? It's like if a turtleneck got constipated.

He's a cheater who's too cowardly to start a conversation? Sure, I'll say hi.

The episode ends with a creepily misguided moment in which Cliff goes to a coffee shop with Theo to help him pick up women. Note to everyone: your dad is not a good wingman. Sheila, the woman he approaches (who doesn't run screaming, oddly), is obviously meant to mirror Julia in terms of style, since she's rocking a similar hoop earrings, cap, sweater, and pants configuration. The cropped cardigan is an interesting idea, but overall I think she's leaning a little too heavily on the "slouch" aspect of slouchy chic. (I tried to figure out who this actress is, but couldn't. IMDb lists her as Hazel Medina, but Hazel Medina was born in 1937. If this is a 50-year-old woman, then someone needs to drive a stake through her heart before she feeds again.)

Does she have to earn money for her parents' gifts every year?

What is even going on with you, Rudy? It would be one thing if that shirt was just too big, but the fact that it's also too short leads me to believe that it's intended to fit like that. I guess you need a crop top if you're going to show off the waist ruffle on your yellow tight-rolled Hammer pants. This is a mess.

I feel like her room wasn't that dirty to start out with.

Day two is just sweats. I mean, she's working.

This family understands the importance of costuming.

And, because she's working, she throws on her apron and bandana again. I love that she has a cleaning uniform. So weird.

Vanessa's absence is unexplained. No one so much as mentions her.

Theo has pulled out his episode #4.11 shirt again, with a different collared shirt and tie underneath. I think this piece is becoming less and less viable as a top layer. The more fuss put underneath it, the less justified he is in sporting this bold yellow nonsense. Plus, he's rolled his jeans high just so you can see that he chose matching yellow socks. Dude, those are nice jeans. That gray shirt isn't bad. Quit while you're ahead.

Are we sure this blazer hasn't showed up before? I'm not so sure.

Yeah, I hate this. That chartreuse pairs terribly with the khaki, the heavy jacket worn indoors looks ridiculous, the patterning on the coat is so subtle that it may as well not be there. Nothing here is good or interesting.

Well...

Well, at least Clair's look is interesting. It's unclear what she was going for when she juxtaposed those high-slung pants with a long cardigan. "I have miles of pelvis" is an odd assertion, right? The color scheme isn't bad; it reminds me of corals and gemstones, and the brightness is a welcome change from the drab winter colors we see everywhere else. This isn't her greatest creation, but I don't despise it. Except for the pants, maybe. Yeah, the sweater's kind of not great either. What I'm saying is: decent shirt.

Suburban goddess.

Never has Clair's goal of "business-casual Nefertiti" been more apparent than in this creation.

I think we've seen this shirt, too. I need to get better at tracking stuff.

I'm surprised at how sedate Cliff's outfit is here. Since this is an office day, maybe he decided not to frighten any women into early labor with one of his knit nightmares. All gray keeps the doctor away.

The top and bottom shouldn't go together, but they SO DO.

His second sweater has a leafy, feathery thing happening. It' fine. Those pants last appeared in episode #4.4.

Nope. Take it away.

When he goes out with Theo to pick up girls (still ew, by the way), he wears this over his other sweater. It's not even a garment; it's woolen armor. This is some sort of Cosby Voltron. I worry that he will continue layering until he is an impenetrable dreadnought of fuzzy, pudding-fueled wrath. Run for your lives.

Sorry, the heat has destroyed my brain. See you next week.