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, August 26, 2013

Season 5, Episode 15: The Lost Weekend

When Cliff, Clair, Vanessa, and Rudy all leave the house for the weekend, Theo is left home alone. He throws a party, and then something that only ever happens on TV occurs: his few guests all invite people, who all invite people, and suddenly he has a rager on his hands. Am I the only one who doesn't have this problem? Never in my life has one of my gatherings exceeded expectations in this manner. I'd like to think it's because my friends are polite enough not to haul truckloads of randos to my apartment, and not that I'm simply lame.

Also, this episode provides the first irrefutable proof that the IMDb has, in fact, been incorrect about the episode order this whole time. Though the Huxtables bought a new couch last week, the old couch is seen throughout the party. It's replaced in the next episode.

Don't let these idiots into your house.

A lot of people show up to this party, and a lot of people change clothes multiple times this week, so get ready for a lot of images. I'm going to keep my comments brief because you probably have other stuff to do today.

More culture than a bucket of yogurt.

This woman shows up to the party because Theo is supposed to hit on her while her boyfriend is out of town. Her boyfriend is not, in fact, out of town. I'm all about her Afrocentric vibe and her use of a diverse palette to express herself, but I worry that her heavy layers are going to be uncomfortable as the night wears on. She's supposed to be dancing in a crowded room; this is impractical.

I feel like he's too dumb for her.

This is her boyfriend. Ignoring the mustache and the Miami Vice quality of the blazer-over-tee look, he's got a decent color story happening here with the charcoal jacket, chartreuse top, and wine-hued patterned pants. I'll gave him passing marks for this one.

This is actually her Grey's Anatomy backstory.

The woman on the far right is Chandra Wilson. The man standing next to her should not have left the house looking like that.

Get out of Clair's bed. You haven't earned it.

The dude standing up looks like an idiot, but his friend lying down has a good thing going. (More could be said about all of the partygoers, but really, who has the time?)

Nothing about her says "stable" to me.

This is Amy, who shows up to the party and gives Theo some serious eyeing. He's pretty into her, which is confusing because her look is an absolute mess. The foundation of skinny jeans and a white top could have survived my wrath, even with that high collar and unnecessary black detailing. But the gargantuan black coat with the splattery print? I'd say it looks like a bathrobe, but even as a bathrobe I wouldn't touch it. It's ugly enough that I literally wouldn't want it worn even in private. It should not exist.

Also, can we get a better look at that hair configuration?

She's giving me Sean Young levels of crazy.

How long did it take her to do that? She must be going to school for an architecture degree.

He's more stereotypically Latino than a local production of West Side Story.

This is Lou, in his first of several appearances on the series. He apparently really likes that hat, because he wears it again later even though it makes him look ridiculous. Like, the rest of his outfit is pretty standard, but what's with the lid, son?

Case in point: so much dancing.

He shows up to the party in something that is at once a suit and a sweatsuit. He may have invented this hybrid formal/casual getup himself to allow for the freedom of motion he would need to dance like a maniac, which he does all night.

Calm down, buddy.

Denny is the one who first suggested a party. Great idea, Denny!

He's got serial killer eyes.

Not as great an idea: showing up in this shirt, which is basically cartoon vomit.

No really. I worry that Denny will murder someone.

At least when things get out of hand, he comes back the next day to help Theo clean up. His sweatshirt and pleated slacks (please tell me those aren't pleated jeans) are uninspiring, but I'm not going to make the man dress up to do chores.

Thoughtful hands for a thoughtful man.

Howard is also present at the initial planning session for the party. His first look is a straight-up Cosby knockoff. I'm shocked that Cliff has never worn this sweater.

Pointing because he has a point.

Ditto on this one. Like, is this meant to be a commentary on how the Cosby sweater has permeated pop culture? Or are the costumers just running out of ideas? Because this is a great sweater, but it is totally a Cosby sweater.

Holding a clipboard because he clips his... OK, I got nothing.

He also shows up for the post-party damage control session, possibly also in pleated jeans. Can you imagine if two of your friends showed up to your house and you really needed their help, but they were both wearing pleated jeans? Total catch-22. Is it worse to do the work by yourself or to be scarred by prolonged exposure to their fashion mistakes? I honestly don't know how I'd choose. His cardigan/turtleneck pairing is nice enough I suppose.

What's with everyone's facial intensity? Did someone lace the bagels with PCP?

Kenny's around this week, but we only see him in this and then pajamas. I found it a little weird that he was written into the episode. Who sends their kid to spend a weekend with someone else's grandparents?

Run, girl.

This is pretty much the only shot I could get of Rudy that revealed any information about what she's wearing. At this point, we've already seen so many outfits, it's tough to muster much investment in some child's primary-colored leggings, though.

Inventing a board game was easier than getting the rights to one, apparently.

I feel bad excluding Anna and Russell, but they're in nightclothes the whole time. So here's an image of the sleepover, just so everyone can see it.

Again with the unnecessarily wild faces.

Rudy starts the next day out kind of wonderfully, balancing her childlike tendencies with more mature styling. The rolled sweatpants are frequent standbys for her, but the sweater is new and I love it. Though animal images are whimsical and youthful, the pattern is structured and the color scheme is sedate, putting her solidly past her toddler clothes without requiring her to be in adult drag. I'm into it.

She has had it.

Vanessa appears only briefly at the end of the episode. Her outfit struck me as a repeat until I realized that the pattern on her sweater and leggings is the same split circle motif found in Theo's often-worn yellow shirt (forst seen in episode #4.11). It's too much for an all-over look. The lower half should be a solid color, or at least a simpler pattern like stripes.

Smug mug.

Unlike his friends, Theo did not have time to change before the party, so he wears the same outfit that he wore to the cafe beforehand. It's not terrible: I can get down with a good cardigan and a powerfully purple shirt. I can't be certain, but I think these are the same pants that Howard wears for his third look. Clever reuse, costume people.

Defeat.

They all wore pleated jeans to clean the house. Three men, all in pleated jeans. That's how I'll be greeted when I arrive in Hell.

All my love. She can make whatever weird face she wants.

Do you think Clair's coworkers have trouble dealing with how flawless she is? I bet it's distracting to be in meetings with her, because you just want to stare at how delicately the collar wraps around her neck, or how impeccably the sharpness of her lapels melds with the softness of the white blouse underneath, or how perfectly the proportions of her dress match her shape, or how elegantly the monochrome look pulls her outfit together. And then you're like, "Is that pin a razor blade? She is street as fuck."

If you can be happy in that, you can be happy in anything.

Her second look is buried under this coat the whole time. (This is actually a shot of her returning home, but it's the same coat, so who cares?) What is up with that coat though? Like, literal illustrations of the outdoors are happening. Because she wears it outdoors. Maybe it's like the portrait of Dorian Gray: this one garment suffers in absolute awfulness so that her other clothes can be so beautiful.

That pose.

She returns home from the wilderness in this. I love that this is Clair's version of roughing it. Like, sure, it's ostensibly a work shirt, but it's pink and she belted it high and threw on boots that aren't actually hiking boots at all and then some cute leggings and basically she's auditioning for Troop Beverly Hills now.

Everybody is giving weird face. Attack of the face!

Cliff, day 1, wearing the ugliest shirt he has ever worn. I can't keep looking at it.

It only gets weirder.

I don't think my screencaps are blurry. I think that sweater is blurry. That's messed up.

It hurts.

His third look stays buried under this jacket, because apparently he and his wife shop for outerwear at the same nightmare factory.

Is anyone else exhausted? That was so many outfits! And I barely talked about most of them, and left lots of people out! I should have broken this episode into two entries. I'm practically sweating. I'm gonna go nap.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Season 5, Episode 14: Mrs. Huxtable Goes to Kindergarten

Clair gets selected as a new panelist on a long-running talk show providing a forum for the intellectual debate of historical issues. However, her presence is revealed to be a bad case of tokenism, with the old white men in charge hoping that she will speak only when "black issues" arise.

This plot is notable because it is the first time that anyone in the family has encountered an overtly racial problem of any kind. In fact, I'm almost positive that race has been explicitly mentioned only once before, when the parents and grandparents discussed their participation in the March on Washington. It says a great deal that in order for this cast to be viewed as accessible a white audience, they had to avoid ever saying "black."

He likes to move it move it.

There's also a subplot involving a new couch that Clair has ordered without Cliff's knowledge. Richard Gant is one of the men who shows up to haul the old couch away. He's dressed like a mover.

I like the way you move.

Also dressed like a mover is Kevin Kilner, who is welcome to rearrange my bedroom furniture any time he wants.

Rejected Blonde Ambition mic.

This is Richard Scanlon playing Gary, who works on the Reflections set. He's dressed pretty well for a... well, his job is none too clear. He's really into the earth tones, though the blandness of his palette makes the navy patterning and tie seem downright daring. I'd like this better without the jacket, which is too tonally similar to the sweater.

That smile + that banana = extreme discomfort.

Hector, portrayed by Rudolfo Diaz, also works backstage. His job is to hold keys and prevent Cliff from eating donuts. No, really, that's his job. Young dudes are going through another one of those phases where they want to dress like slouchy old men, so his look has a surprising amount of modern appeal. The red/blue plaid in particular is enjoying a resurgence. I am, as I type, wearing an extremely similar shirt. And everybody loves a relaxed brown cardigan, so that's great. Swap out the slacks for some jeans and you're ready to hit the bars in Bushwick.

The human embodiment of white male privilege.

Michael Lombard appears as Mr. Benedict, the most pompous of the three on-air personalities with whom Clair battles. I mean, check that facial expression. His suit is the darkest because apparently the bad guy wears black even in a program overtly commenting on problematic depictions of race in America. (To be fair, that's more of a charcoal.) He may be a jerk, but he knows how to rock a pocket square.

For a man out of drag, he throws a lot of shade.

Mr. Traugett, the one who actually vocalizes his racism, is played by Russell Nype. He's given a brighter look with warmer tones while still retaining his stuffy, academic air. The palette isn't too wild because in the end, everyone on the stage is giving off the air of someone you wouldn't want to get stuck talking to.

He's the weirdest intersection of smart and witless.

The most recognizable of the three men is Austin Pendleton as Mr. Kensington. He's rocking a similar vibe with the tweed coat, though he's opted for a bow tie and a patterned shirt. His hair is also a bit frazzled. Maybe he's the loose cannon of the group?

Youngest children are often victims of neglect.

Rudy barely features this week; she has two outfits, but almost no lines. Her first appearance is an all-purple creation that isn't pajamas, but could be mistaken for pajamas by even a trained professional. For her going-to-church look, she's keeping it classic: black cardigan, white broad-collared top, gray skirt, and black shoes with black socks. It's a shade somber, but not inappropriately so.

A solid investment. See what I did there? With the vest reference?

Vanessa's first presentation is mostly a success. I'm a fan of her appropriation of old-school masculine tropes in a modern context, and while the shape of the shirt is a little off, she gets a lot of the detailing right. The width of that gray strip is a particular victory. On the other hand, I'd love it if her vest stuck to a single plaid, rather than incorporating all three. Any one of them would be great, but together they come off as trying too hard.

Same boots, different day.

Her church gear is pretty great. The overall construction is similar to Rudy's, but in contrast to her little sister's lack of color, she's gone for a bold red cardigan and a plaid skirt with a trim. The sickly tone of those tights gives me pause, though. I'm all about contrast, but a truer yellow would have been better than the greenish mess she selected.

You again.

Theo starts us off with some repeats: his episode #3.13 sweater with his #5.10 pants. They don't complement each other particularly well; he's another one who may as well be wearing pajamas.

He tries.

He's doing a little better with his church outfit. I particularly like the pairing of shades with the pants and shirt, though the tie ruins pretty much everything. The desire for breadth in the '80s also does terrible things to his jacket. And he could do without that emblem on the chest. So really, this isn't great.

She tries and succeeds.

Clair starts off in her episode #5.4 coral shirt paired with her #5.3 skirt. The colors play nicely together, but it's an otherwise unremarkable creation.

No, like, really succeeds.

This new outfit is actually also a union of previously seen pieces: her #5.3 jacket with her #5.10 blouse (which actually first appeared in #5.4, a repetition that I initially overlooked). I'm sure that's a repeat black skirt, simply because there would be no need to buy a new one. The resulting union is impeccable, communicating a commanding presence while remaining professional and controlled. She is, as ever, winning at life.

The oracle appears.

TV static from another dimension. The secrets to life are woven into this sweater. The shirt beneath is appropriately plain, but I'm surprised he's got his collar buttoned. You're at home, Cliff! Relax!

Unfit to be tied. (Sorry, I ran out of captions two seasons ago.)

I won't comment on the gray suit, because it's flawless. I will, however, comment on that tie, which has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Get your business together, Doctor!

Alright, that about does it. Now go find a publication that discusses racial politics on The Cosby Show and read what it has to say about this episode, because it's probably fascinating.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Season 5, Episode 13: Cliff Babysits

Grandpa swings by with the implausible revelation that, because he knows one of the guys in Michael Jackson's band, he was able to score eight prime tickets for that night's sold-out Madison Square Garden concert. Clair and Cliff volunteer to stay home and babysit despite Elvin's belief that the twins cannot survive outside of his line of sight. Halfway through the night, Clair is called into the office (which also seems unlikely), leaving her husband alone to do some top-notch solo comedy with the babies. I'm sure lessons are learned or something, but mostly I just wondered whether it cost the production team a lot of money to have the family sing "Beat It" as they left the house.

Also, apologies that this wasn't posted on time today.

If you're into that sort of thing.

This picture isn't included for fashion reasons. I just thought you'd like to see some cute babies. Say hi to Winnie and Nelson.

You won't be this cool at his age. It's not possible.

When Russell comes over, he's finally serving a new garment, and it's flawless. We've seen the shirt and pants before in episode #4.16, but oh that brick red cardigan. The wide collar is dangerous but ends up suiting him, the shade is flawless, the construction is about right, the braiding is the good kind of elderly... I'm digging it and I want one of my own.

What do you think his favorite track off Thriller is?

This is his Jackson concert getup. I think his tie is an attempt to look a little younger and fresher, but it's not sparkly or anything, so I applaud his subtlety. The rest is clean and light and I love every bit of it.

Not pictured: the one glove she eventually dons. No joke.

Anna shows up for the concert dressed like Anna. Again, she's not necessarily trying to be young and fresh; this style has a little embellishment with the swirly stuff in the cardigan, but is mostly pretty sedate. I don't condone the extreme boxiness of it, and she could do with less black to make it seem more cheerful. You're seeing Michael Jackson, brighten it up!

Denise is gone. Deal with it.

Parts of Sondra's first offering don't bother me. As a new mom, she's obviously keen to show off the post-pregnancy bod, and has thus selected a rather slim cut for all her pieces. The leggings with high boots are a particular win in my eyes. I can get behind her overall color story, too: the pale seafoam is a great counterpoint to the black and dark gray. There's potential in that coat: the idea of using a classic construction and modernizing it is sound, but the execution looks a hair cheap. It ends up feeling like a knock-off of a better piece. The black top underneath that is also problematic. I want it to be longer, so that it can be properly referred to as a short dress rather than a long shirt. Maybe with a belt or some additional tailoring involved. As for the crystal necklace, it should be worn by an extra on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or not at all.

It's really hard to capture her not making a wonky face.

She's holding with the Renaissance Realness for the show at MSG, but this one works better for her. The getup seems suited to a more formal occasion, but I like it when someone's not afraid to get overdressed. I know I just shaded Anna for too much black, but it works here; the severity is sort of half the point. You are hereby encouraged to show up to a party dressed like this. Ridiculous? Kind of. Fabulous? Absolutely.

Enthusiasm!

Elvin is starting down the road paved by his father-in-law with this sweater. As you can see in the closer shot, those stripes are made of subtler, even smaller stripes, including pale inclusions that you can't even necessarily see from far away. That pattern transitions into a sort of sunburst/honeycomb configuration across the stomach and down the sleeves, but it all kind of coheres. That soft purple is really what cements this for me, I think: it's just the right hue for him. Otherwise it's denim all around, unremarkable in all ways. But letting this sweater shine by surrounding it with plainness was the right way to go.

Oh yeah. You blend.

I mean, I guess people wore ties to concerts in the 80s? Or, like, they did if they were dads? I don't know. He's overreaching in trying to do cool patters with a decidedly un-cool overall look. People are going to recognize that he's a dweeb no matter how hard he tries to mask it.

You two have differing opinions on this video, huh?

Kenny and Rudy don't get separate screen shots because you're just not that invested in what they're wearing. Like, are you? I'm sure not. Kenny is leaning HARD on that acid wash. It doesn't complement his teal shirt particularly well. Rudy is going for broke on assertive colors, with a springy lilac/chartreuse combo that I guess isn't awful.

Baby's first "what not to wear" lesson.

Rudy's assertion that Michael Jackson will notice her in the audience seems infinitely more plausible when you realize that this is what she'll be wearing. She has puffed herself up to twice her usual size, much in the same way a cornered cat will arch its back to fool attackers. To maximize the impact of this ruse, she has employed a range of bright, clashing colors that will disorient the viewer. It's an interesting and surprisingly sinister motivation for building a look, but hey, whatever works.

She's now my favorite Huxtable child.

Vanessa doesn't get much screen time this week, but she seems to have a solid getup going. High-waisted pants can be very flattering, and while this specific pair has a couple fit issues (I know, I chose a seated example, so you'll just have to trust me), I like the effort she made. The pants also have a faint stripe, which I'm pretty into. Print tees have their place, and this one isn't the worst I've seen; I'll allow it. Basically, things could be so much worse.

Jamming the eff out.

We barely see her second creation, but she's following Sondra with that pink ruffly shirt and purple... vest or maybe jacket? Unclear. The second pair of striped pants is about as solid as the first. This is a look; not her best, not her worst. The end.

I ask for so little, and still he gives less.

Theo has resurrected his awful episode #5.10 blue pants (which I oddly didn't single out as offensive in that review) and paired them with a boring teal shirt. Great.

See? Not even a full costume change.

For the concert, he keeps the pants (boo) and deploys a white turtleneck and black blazer on top (meh).

That look.

As you caught in the previous screencap, Clair has a head-to-toe cobalt thing happening. I'm not 100% against the concept of an overlarge sweater and leggings, but it baffles me why you'd want them to be the same color. That pin is basically the only thing the eye has to cling to on this whole outfit; in the wrong setting, she'd be practically invisible.

Grandfathers are so happy to be grandfathers, guys.

If Sailor Moon were to get into a fight with Cliff Huxtable, this sweater would be the background against which he delivered some sort of special move that she had to dodge.

And there we are! Michael Jackson did not appear this week (did you really think he would?), but I'm sure there are other guest stars waiting in the wings. Until next week, dears.