If this is your first time here, I recommend starting from the first episode and working your way forward. Of course, that's entirely your call.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Season 6, Episode 9: Cliff's Wet Adventure

For the first time, I've run into a name discrepancy between my DVDs and the IMDb; they both list this episode as next chronologically, but the internet cites the above dirty-sounding title, while the disc calls it "Thanksgiving with the Huxtables" or something similarly innocuous. Full disclosure: I'm on vacation in St. Thomas right now (I know, boo hoo) so I'm away from my usual supplies, but I'll do my best to continue delivering high-quality (ok, acceptable-quality) recaps. Oh, right, you want a plot synopsis. Basically, every recurring character drops by for Thanksgiving, plus an appearance from Martin's first wife to explain why she left her husband and child.

Hair crown.

Victoria Rowell appears as Paula, wearing a smart little outfit if I do say so myself. The proportions of the skirt and sweater don't reflect much about the reality of her frame, so she could get real with that sizing, but I'm dying over the purple tights linking to that central purple diamond in her fall-themed argyle. She'll probably get cold with a skirt that short, though. It's late November, after all. (To be fair, she was on a flight to, I think, North Carolina, so she might have been planning on arriving in a warmer climate.)

Why are you here?

Luckily, we've got some repetition happening this week. Denny is wearing the shirts from episode #5.18 with darker slacks that sort of look like his #5.15 pants, though the lack of pouchy pockets make me hesitate to offer that call definitively. Regardless, it's all mediocre rehash.

Why are you here too?

Howard delivers an original look. It's a good winter getup; rolled jeans, patterned sweater, matching turtleneck. I'm feeling it.

She's smiling like she delivered a punch line, but she's talking about salad.

The wardrobe department continues to drape Francine in the largest, least flattering items they can find. They're just determined to erase any visual cues about her shape. Some of these purples are pretty good, but the pattern is too loud for an all-over look, and the contrasting shoulder blocks are unnecessary. This ain't great. Also, is that earring a phone receiver? Because it looks like a phone receiver. That's not a compliment.

Why the long face?

Lester gives us a suit. Liking the striped tie on striped shirt on textured jacket. He's always looking sharp.

Why the crazy face?

Anna's also a little square these days. Speaking of square, check that pocket square. Was it supposed to coordinate so well with the apron? The coat-like cut is decent, I guess, and I love her in a goldenrod. But she needs something to define the waist, if not in the form of a belt then perhaps by wearing separates rather than one loose dress.

One of the top three Huxtables in terms of clothing choices.

DAT TIE DO. Russell has pulled off this blazer several times, but perhaps never so well as right now. This light shirt offsets the darker pieces beautifully, and the patterns coordinate so well. Snappy snappy.

L.L. Beanie Baby.

Looking nice, Ken. Looking super preppy, but nice.

I don't know either, kid.

Olivia helped make pie. Mostly by delivering shades of blue and sassy faces.

I assume by season 8, episodes will just be 28-minute close-ups of her.

She nails it dressing up, too. Pink and yellow? Yes. Volume? Absolutely. High-waisted? Sure. I'm feeling it.

Olivia did over-the-shoulder better.

Rudy. Cooking. Pink shirt. Done.

Less cute = less screen time. Sorry 'bout it.

We barely see her dinner outfit. It's pastel and ruffly and probably totally average.

Older sister, bolder sister.

You know, this isn't as dressy as I'd generally like to see for a formal-ish family dinner, but Vanessa is asserting some aesthetic eye here. She's following Denise's example in some ways, playing with casual items like the t-shirt, traditionally manly items like the blazer, and odd embellishments like the patches. I'm not super excited about the crap all over her top half, but the leggings with short, voluminous skirt are pretty fantastic, and the color story works for me. I'll accept this.

Emphatic no.

When Theo arrives, he brings with him a great deal of chaos, since he wasn't expected to attend. To embody this, he wears as many colors as he can get in one cardigan. It's offensive. Theo consistently bothers me with his clothes. I'm so very over it.

Better in an apron than others in couture.

Sloppy cooking clothes for Denise, but as always, she's just the greatest.

Better in a sweater than she is in an apron.

BIG PIN BIG PIN LOVE THAT BIG PIN! And the print. And the oversized contrast stitching. And the pants. We're loving Denise, like always.

Perhaps better in a sweater than his wife even.

Hot dad realness. I'd do unholy things to get my hands on that high-collared cardigan.

C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!!!

This sweater, on the other hand, is an abomination. This is the worst example of color blocking I've ever seen. And that turtleneck? Underneath, she's got leggings or tights or something and boots that I actually like, so I guess we're not completely at sea here. But basically ugh all over.

I wish this outfit were... another outfit.

Used car salesman. Elvin tried to make colors work for him, but he is absolutely working for those colors.

Guys, I made an actual observation!

OK, this is my favorite detail of the week. While cooking, Clair wears Cliff's shirt from episode #4.23. Little touches like that are what I use to justify this blog's existence.

I've always loved that chain necklace.

I'm going to get behind this top 100%. It is delicious from cut to pattern to color. Flow, high neck, throw some jewels on there: win. The skirt isn't an ideal match, but I'll give it to her because I just can't hate on Clair.

HOMELESS DERELICT MURDERS BROOKLYN HEIGHTS FAMILY

The reason for the episode's title is that Clair repeatedly sends Cliff to the store even though it is rainy and a holiday, meaning that he has to travel a long way in uncomfortable conditions to get items they don't really, absolutely need. It's a conceit that makes everyone in the house look wildly unsympathetic, but it also gives me one less outfit to look at, which this week is a blessing.

Apologies for yet another late entry. I'm really slacking these days. But hey, at least I'm still doing it. You know that if I dropped this project, no one else would be crazy enough to pick it up.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Season 6, Episode 8: The Day the Spores Landed

I've been waiting forever for this one to come up, because I remembered only one detail: Cliff gets pregnant. As it turns out, my recollection was accurate but incomplete. Cliff has a dream in which all men can become pregnant, causing most of the male cast to experience the joys of carrying and delivering a child. It's a really, really weird half-hour.

He's carrying high. That means it's a boy, right?

The effects aren't limited to the Huxtable clan, either. Brooklyn's only hillbilly couple is also about to gain a new addition. Sweet maternity flannel, dad.

Remember her? No? Yeah, I'm not shocked.

You know you're making a bold leap into the '90s when Elayne Boosler shows up. Sadly, she wears only scrubs and a lab coat, so there's nothing more to say about her.

Childbirth has made him sweatier and squintier than usual.

Wallace Shawn appears again as Cliff's friend Jeff. Like Dr. Boosler, he's exempt from the fashion examination.

She's gonna have to do so much babysitting now.

Anna appears in her episode #3.14 matching teals and #5.4 cardigan. I guess it makes sense that Cliff would dream his mother in clothes she already owns.

Nightmare.

And yet we've never seen Russell in this cardigan, so there goes that logic. This fantasy version of Grandpa Huxtable lacks his real-life counterpart's typical panache. Where are the dynamic color combinations and timeless top layers? What does this bland, slightly ugly ensemble say about Cliff's relationship with his father?

Even the fantasy version of him can't dress right.

The younger children don't feature this week, so Theo is the first Huxtable offspring we'll look at. We'll only look briefly, though: this baby-with-a-baby is in a sweatsuit, and you know how I feel about those. Come on. Original Hipster in the waiting room managed to find paternity clothes. What's your excuse?

Is she ready for motherhood?

Denise returns to her episode #6.4 overalls, but juxtaposes them more simply against a cornflower shirt, giving us a better look at their construction. It's a neat little creation, really, employing some of the styling of a workman's uniform but tweaking the details to make it fashionable. The high waist, close placement of the straps, and even the floppy collar on the blouse take this distinctly out of the functional realm and into the world of androgynous beauty.

There's probably a naval pun here that I'm missing.

Her husband somehow managed to find a uniform sized like this.

That wide shot is so "the hills are alive..."

Sondra's choices return her to that New Romantic image she enjoys. The shape of that cardigan makes it seem like something Napoleon might wear. It's nice, but not enough to be an outfit on its own, and the pieces supporting it aren't my favorites. The dark green tights are particularly troublesome to me; the short black skirt and pale yellow top are merely unremarkable. She's fine; she's got the right idea. I just need a little more from her.

Pretty much always boring.

Other than the fact that he's in a sweater vest rather than a full sweater, Elvin is wearing basically the same thing he always wears.

So clearly not a grandmother.

Now if I were going to dream about Clair, I'd put her in something much more fabulous. But Cliff's vision of his wife is grounded in reality, and this is a good representation of her typical style. That said, this blouse isn't a repeated piece, and I think it would make a good addition to her wardrobe if she can find it in canonical reality. The patterned, gathered neckline is fabulous, and ruby is her color. You can see in some shots that the belt has sagged, or that the hang of the top causes it to seem that way, but if you ignore that, then this is a great presentation.

To be clear: he ends up giving birth to a sandwich and pizza.

Cliff pictures himself in comfortable clothes. I can't fault him, but I also can't review him.

I'll warn you in advance: I'll be out of town next week and might be prevented from posting a new entry as a result. I'll do my best, but if I am several days late in updating, I apologize. I promise it's just a temporary setback. I'm not quitting this thing until it's finished.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Season 6, Episode 7: Shall We Dance?

Nothing puts a speed bump in my week like an episode that occurs over several days and focuses on the children. Could the sitcom writers of the future not have anticipated my need for fabulous outfits about which to write? What am I going to say about a classroom full of kids? Yech. Anyway, Rudy has a crush on a boy in her class, but he's acting like a jerk because society's gender norms encourage young males to be antagonistic rather than tender in their emotional expression. This all occurs while their teacher, Mrs. McGee, holds a series of lessons on manners, culminating in a formal dance.

Everybody rise.

The teacher in question (who should probably focus more on academics, truth be told) is played by the legendary Elaine Stritch. Her outfits stay true to the persona of a schoolmarm, so we won't look at them too closely. I'm pretty pleased with this just-below-the-knee skirt and the ruffle at the hem, though. And that crossover tie. Those things could be brought into a modern outfit capably. The clean black and white work well for her, too.

RISE.

She's serious about her ties. Solid cardigan, but yesterday's skirt was better.

RIIIIIIIIIIIISE!!!

For the dance, she keeps a similar silhouette, but branches out into an actual color and pattern, not to mention adding a little variance in the tie/collar configuration. Honestly, it's probably the weakest of her three looks, and I'm not sure that it's any more formal than the previous two. But she tried.

You can do better, Rudy.

This one episode as Clarence comprises the entirety of Michael A. Moran's acting career. The costumer dresses him rather respectably, in the Cliff/Elvin vein, to let us know that at heart he's a nice boy who is right for Rudy. Even though he treats her like a jerk and never appears in another episode.

He went for, like, extra early acceptance to Yale.

Collegiate chic. He would be a winner if his friends weren't losers, says this outfit.

This little punk.

Speaking of his loser friends, here's one. He's nameless and style-less, but he grew up to be Aaron Schwartz, who is mighty attractive.

This one's no better.

His other no-good companion, who also has no name and also dresses like a schlub, is Shaun Weiss.

Her?

Rudy's rolling with some ladies herself. Avanti Taylor plays Amy, who enjoys formless maroon dresses and shirts with ugly prints.

At least we know her.

Kim Ogawa is also back. I'm all over that first outfit with the leggings and the wild sweater, which is one of those things that you could wear to a friend's place today without any idea that you were copying a nine-year-old from 1989. The red print dress with the ocher vest is pretty irrelevant, though.

Oh look! Someone who worked again!

And look who her third friend is! Tatyana Ali, best known for her work on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She doesn't wow me with that initial getup, but the blazer and tuxedo shirt on day two are both stellar. And that's not even her formal wear.

Wake up.

Kenny also shows up. He wears this.

He knows how to answer a phone. Why is this being taught in school?

And this.

The Usual Suspects.

The boys look like this when they dress up. Props to Kenny for that plaid.

Usually suspicious.

The ladies look like this. Note Amy's continued commitment to the red sack dress. (Technically there's a belt, but it's not doing much.) Poor Tatyana is saddled with some sad Little House on the Prairie confection. Rudy we'll get to later.

She did what she was sent here to do.

Olivia brings the cute, but come on, enough children already.

Her parents are to blame for this.

This is the first of four (four) presentations from Rudy. We'll call it "Tex-Mex Server."

The seeds of bad attitude have been sown in this one.

Day two leans a little more into Von Trapp Family Singers territory.

She should have a nicer Trapper Keeper.

Her third look is what your friend's aunt wore to the first day of her scrapbooking class when she didn't know anybody and wanted to seem like she was fun but not trying too hard.

Oh dear.

For formal day, she tries to use volume and neck ruffles in the same manner as a cat arching its back or a lizard unfurling its fins: to create a size illusion that would intimidate Clarence. Perhaps not fashionable, but certain to stun predators into retreat.

Forever rising to become my favorite child.

Aw. Vanessa is giving me a sort of Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton vibe with this look for a reason I can't quite explain. It's not that her clothes resemble theirs, but more that she has a sort of dapper clown persona for this scene, and her styling is meant to highlight that. The whole thing remains cohesive, though, and is actually rather fetching. I'm a huge fan of the men's blazer paired with a simple jeans-and-tee foundation. It works on her.

She'll always hold a special place in my heart.

No Theo this week (no complaints here!), so on to Denise. This is a subtle, sleek presentation that comes across as assured and unpretentious. As usual, I adore her. The construction of her blouse is particularly compelling, as it seems to have a vest essentially sewn into it: the seams at the sleeve are flush, but then there's an open overlap at the base of the collar. Clever stuff.

Even when this happens.

For her second appearance, she pairs her episode #6.5 pants with another billowing top. Though thematically consistent with her hippie ethos, the outfit is less effective than some of her others in terms of fashion. These prints and colors could complement each other better. Or at all, really.

Simply the best.

Oh Clair. You are a perfect vision.

No sweater?

Cliff opens with a shirt that could almost be cheetah print but reveals itself to be a leafy, grassy sort of thing when you get closer. It doesn't go great with those pants.

Maybe we should go back to no sweater.

His second day brings a sweater I don't really like with pants I don't think I've ever liked.

Fine.

And finally a sort of Mandlebrot sweater that unfurls into tinier and tinier checked patterns as you get closer. It's also fuzzy to the point of shedding. The soothing blues help to combat the maddening flyaway threads and static-like design.

And there you have it, folks. A long, long list of clothes worn by people in an old sitcom. To be fair, what else did you expect when you came here?