London 2012 Parade of Nations: A frantic fashion review


This is what I wrote during last night’s Parade of Nations. Colombia and possibly some other countries were ignored by the US TV coverage. I paused occasionally but couldn’t pause for long because the DVR only saves 30 minutes of HD programming. I don’t know the names of things and didn’t have time to look them up.

Pictures of some of the most interesting outfits are attached at the end.

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Greece: vivacious, relaxed striped shirts, open collar, blazers

Afghanistan: sharp suits, shiny blue ties with crowns

Albania: Ugly red jackets, white open-collar shirts

Algeria: crisp track suits, white top, green pants

American Samoa: Garb from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, tropical shirts, all brown, fang necklaces

Andorra: red polo shirts, black … hoodies? Surprisingly slovenly

Angola: gingham dirndls

Antigua and Barbuda: Very sharp black suits, yellow shirts, some have ties some don’t

Argentina: ugly blue tracksuits with circa-1990 Umbro pattern

Armenia: look like they’re going to perform a Jewish wedding ceremony or something. Shawls? Linen pants?

Aruba: Lou Bega

Australia: hunter green blazers. Women have nice silk neckerchiefs.

Austria: ugly four-button blazer/jackets. ugly patches. face paint another negative

Azerbaijan: Stewardesses

Bahamas: I don’t like the light blue-white combination but it’s their flag colors. More scruffy blazers. Mostly-female team – runners?

Bahrain – everyone’s red/yellow robe looks different. too busy

Bangladesh: Love these ones. Grey blazers, charcoal pants, green ties. Only one woman? Red dress and grey blazer, a bit odd

Barbados: same shirts as Antigua, same blazers as Azerbaijan, Dockers

Belarus, extreme flag-color fixation with red shirt, green tie, but then entirely covered by white suit and pimp hat

In 2011 Denisse van Lamoen was voted “Chile’s Athlete of the Year” after winning at the 2011 World Archery Championships.

Belgium: Women have red blazers, men have red vests and black suits, look very wealthy, great.

Belize: Carnival barkers. Women in … bonnets? Ribbon looks like ribbon candy

Benin: opposite color scheme to Bahamas. Light blue good color for headwraps

Bermuda: red shorts? high black socks? Stewardesses x10

Bhutan: Giant cuffs, multiple silk outfits, not sure what to think

Bolivia: subtle shirt stripes, yellow ties not tied tight enough, Dockers, blah

Bosnia: Navy suits. Random businessmen. Flag waver is a doof

Botswana: I like the Montsho white suit. Men more sharp businessmen. Black suits, blue tie, flag colors good

Brazil: Those scarfs look stupid. Is that Mourinho? Some with green skirts, some yellow

B.V.I. tan suits. I like the green scarfs.

Brunei: Nice hijab and grey ensemble. Men look generic.

Bulgaria: No flag colors at all. Ecru blazers, berets. Can’t tell if solid color or stripes. Cabanawear

Burkina faso: A little on the nose. Red/yellow/green AND too baggy. Sneakers? Nice straw hats

Burundi: Went ALL OUT with robes. And walking sticks. Fabulous

Cambodia: Tan blazers, navy pants? You’re backwards.

Cameroon: Beuatiful embroiderd Robes that make everyone look 250 pounds. Beautiful and complicated hats

Canada: CANADA windbreakers. White shirt, red tie. Pants too thin. Sikh guy

Cape Verde: Windbreakers, seemingly no uniform under windbreakers. Blah Nice flag

Caymans: nice straw hats. green tie. more carnival blazers with huge lapels. green cuffs very nice touch

C.A.R.: ties with woolen jackets? Weird.

Chad: Same shirts and ties as C.A.R., with actual jackets this time. Still not great

Chile: red and blue striped ties? nothing special. Why don’t they all wear the archery lady’s hat?

China: white Dockers, red blazers, gold trim a nice touch

Comors: Those hats are weird. I like the baggy pants because they match the shirt

Congo: Average businesspeople. Nice blue/blue/white ties I guess

Cook Islands: Wow Hawaiian stereotype galore, green color scheme

Costa Rica: hat, jackets, pants three different shades of beige. Interesting look

Cote d’Ivoire: These robes are promising. Didn’t see details.

Croatia: Wow lots of people! Way too relaxed, tracksuits, I see midriff

Cuba: Love the ties. Shirts oddly small collar. Yellow blazers not so nice, look like NFL commentators

Cyprus: By far the nicest windbreakers so far. Is orange a Cyprus color?

Czech: Blazers and shorts? Women look like they’re going from work to Zumba class. What are those, umbrellas? Galoshes? Covered with sparkles? WTF

DPRK: Look like poor but studious boarding-schoolers. ties and scarves askew

Dr. Congo: Yellow polo shirts. First polo shirts of the day.

Denmark: Women wearing 1940s-era blouses? Women look great. Men need to tuck in shirts, blazers too shiny,Dockers too baggy

Djibouti – I love the flag bearer. What is this other women have over her eyes?

Dominica: Men with matching ties and vests, TARTAN. Woman has green poncho reminischent of parrot on flag. GREAT

Dom. Republic : Ribbon on cowboy hat exactly lik eBelize. Men in guayaberas with strange stripes.

Ecuador: Tracksuits, saggy but nice colors, yellow yellow, but look bad next to people in suits

Egypt: Love the grey shirts with same-color-grey-but-black-striped ties. Nice grey hijab. Red scarfs getting too common

El Salvador: Wow. Gradients from white to navy. Certainly ambiious but … They look a bit embarrassed. Who’s the fat guy?

Equatorial Guinea: generic dark suits, red ties

Eritrea: gray suits, nice I guess. Look like something Larry Sanders would wear

Estonia: those shirts are shiny. How is the name attached? ARE those shirts?

Ethiopia: white. no time

Fiji: look like senior citizens, blue bocce ball wear

Finland: Umbro-pattern greyscale shirts – sweatsuit tops? white bottoms. Sneakers, not good

FYROMacedonia, very lightweight garb but long sleeved. Red pants snappy

France: I guess the ties are the shade of blue on the flag but I was surprised somehow. Not interesting. Designed for looking OK in groups?

Gabon – grene scarves look familiar. white cowboy hats nice ribbons

“The wily Bongo”

Gambia: Robes look like rain slickers. Great cuffs / collar

Georgia: Look like Canada but chic. Lot of old guys

Germany: This is a huge mess. Pastels? Same hats as Gabon? Bright blue? PINK? Scarves, blah blah

Ghana – Understated black things with ridiculous gold-lettered scarves ostentatious

Grenada – Good outfits – yellow-green shirts, dark green suits, ties striped, rhythm

Guam – not quite as stereotyped as other Pacific islands

Guatemala – I just don’t like this light blue color. espeically for blazers

Guinea: robes look like somthing someone would actually wear, nice mixed greys

Guinea-Bissau: Like Eq. Guinea but … women are wearing dark gray suits like men, only difference is white pants? Odd decision

Guyana: Red shirts, yellow suits. Yellow is the right shade but This is a bit much. Women inverted.

Haiti: Tracksuits.

Honduras – look sharp, navy jackets and lighter pants. Nothing between HA and HO?

Hong Kong: very pale tan blazers and blue pants. Again, this is backwards. nice straw hats

Hungary: Women unflattering red dresses. Men unflattering rodeo waiter outfits.

Iceland: Flagbearer looks like model. Oh, so does she. So do all the men. monotone blue windbreakers, good I guess. Crisp. team of androids from PROMETHEUS

India: Yellow turbans look like radish sculptures. Nothing else is clear

Indonesia: Nehru jackets are red. Women wearing three layers of leg covering? Like the black fezzers

Iran striped shirts, open collars, grey suits, Ahmadinjad look but striped

Iraq: tracksuits. Surprising! In national colors but look like the’re from Foot Locker

Ireland: that shade of green is always good but the zippered jackets are not.

Israel: What is that guy’s hair – nice shade of blue. More cabanawear. Pants PURE WHITE

Italy: These women’s scarves are the nicest? blue and white stripes. Men TINY ties. Understated

Jamaica – Yellow is too bright. Green is not good for tight pants. Uncordinated. Is that terrycloth? Wow, only team with apantyhose

Japan: same as China? Without the gold trim. I like the big collar points on the women

Jordan: women lovely flowers and/or stripes on robes. No men?

Kazakhstan: They look bizarre. Baseball caps? Blonde women? Jackets like Mubarak with name KAZAKHSTAN repeated. Scarves look actually warm

Kenya – Long red shirts, love the black buttons

Kiribati – outfit is flag. Nice wreaths. VERY nice wreaths.

South korea – whtite fedoras. lanyards obscure details. more white pants, sailor jackets

Kuwait: some in full dishdasha, some in jeans: Do not understand

Kyrgyzstan: Main guy’s hat even worse than Kazakh hat. I want to see fur hats not these polygons

Laos: Most generic-businessmen yet. Few even wearing techy glasses.

Latvia: Can’t go wrong with those colors. Well you can, but they used cream instead of pure white.

Levanon: Red is too orangey. Men and women have NOTHINg in common.

Lesotho: More gradient, this time not all the way to navy. gThey mock the Chinese with their conical hats

Liberia: Hideous

Libya: One guy in a nice suit.

Liechtenstein: are those jeans? Idle rich, blech

Lithuania – birght shirts, big collars, white jackets. Doesn’t quite work. Kevin Kline looks proud to be there.

Luxembourg: more idle rich.

Madagascar: Mulberry colord pants. Sleeves longuitudinal stripes. Straw Hats biggest brims yet. chaos but good

Malawi – like the combo of red and VERY DARK BLUE-GREEN and black suits

Malaysia – Oh god. Tiger-striped hammer pants? Red and white sneakers? Tiger-striped papal miters?

Mali – nice uniform white robe look. Keita great earrings

Malta – open shirts boring

Marshall islands – those wreaths and weird shawls all look like they were bought at Marshall’s

Mauritania – rival Mali in nice robes, this time blue.

Mauritius – those shirts should NOT be tucked in but they are. They should ALL have the four-color scarfs

Mexico – these outfits were all designed by Jorge Campos and made by Oaxacan woodcarvers. Everyone is different MY EYES

Micronesia – tropical shirts but don’t look stupid.

Moldova – exactly my low expectations. Grey shirts look too tight for men, men in dressup clothes and WOMEN ONLY in tracksuits?  How does that make sense

Monaco – Classy rich, not idle, up thwere with Gelbium

Mongolia – only sawflagbearer. He’s a time traveler

Montenegro – HOW ARE THIS MANY? Montegro like 400,000 people, 4,000 are Olympianms. Handball and water polo teams? Look like suede suits. Many buttoned only top button of 3 and look sleepy.

Mozambique – I like these shirts – burgundy. Black pants. Tan jackets. Nice actually.

Myanmar – nice grey suits.

Namibia – nice loose brown outfits. First to be BROWN rather than tan or beige

Nauru –  All I see is 1 big sumo guy

Nepal – women in fake-looking dresses. Men in cool black hats.

Netherlands – Michael Phelps carries the flag. Again these people have too many outfits. Orange is limited but still too much.

New Zealand – those shirts are fabulous. Black with small patterns AND fern thing

Nicaragua:  standard blue suits

Niger: white robes not as big as mali’s, like the orange hats and the green things

Nigeria: These robes are too big. The hats are too big. Like the Celtic knot

Norway: Idle rich. “N” logo looks like baseball team from the 40s

Oman – I LOVE these guys’ headwraps. They look worn! Except the idiot in the baseball cap

Pakistan – second people in vests without jackets. Vests oddly cut straight across the bottom

Still not the most flamboyant Rodman

Palau – these look like corduroys. Flag bearer is wearing Patrick Henry-style wig.

Palestine – nice scarf. Silvery. Peace signs

Papua New Guinea – ED HARDY

Paraguay – more straw hats with ribbons. More white pants. Woman in stewardess red dres

Peru – too baggy

Philippines – Nice shirt pleats

Poland – white blazers and white shirts, women have short blazers, skirts are great. Stirped shirts stereotype red-white obsession

Portugal – SOCCER SCARVES. Light blue shirts, white collars, navy jackets, dockers .. but GREEN BERETS tres schic

Puerto Rico – Lou Bega. Tourist insignia on fedoras

Qatar – dishdashas – women all in black  – oh, that woman is in a Qatar-colored tracksuits

Romania – mustard-yellow balzer? White shirt and white scarf? Something’s missing

Russia – straw hats? Of all the countries to have straw hats. Men have great scarves. Sharapova seems to be the only woman, oh there’s some more. Look like real clothes, except the silly hats

Rwanda – White Shirt buttoned up but no tie or jacket. ASCETIC

St. Lucia – black sneakers?

St. Vincent and Grenadines – same ugly green pants as Jamaica. Tops are unique and go well with flag .

Samoa – flowers in hair.

San Marino – Rich rich rich Blueblue blue

Sao Tome and Principe – Men like Rwarnda, women in nice muumuus

Saudi Arabia – as you’d expect

Senegal – Love the yellow robes. Men’s are loose, women’s are tight. Hmmmm. Woman is waving like The Queen

Serbia – jackets with rounded lapels on women, look bad. Men in sweaters? Or is that just Djovokic. All red and white. Men much better than women

Seychelles – nice cream colors and striped ties

Sierra Leone – not robes! Flowing white crinkly shirts, nice green yokes.

Singapore – terrible except the pastel scarves

Slovakia – Hats of scenesters. Women have striped tracsuit tops, men have non-striped tracksuit tops. Terrible

Slovenia – men in grey suits over blue zip-ups? Women same but green zip-ups? Better than it sounds. no wasted fabric

Satanic Manic Panic in the Pacific Tropics

Solomon Islands – they look embarrassed by those getups. What’s that guy done to his beard?

Somalia – Sky blue looks good for hijabs. Men’s scarves with stars look chintzy.

South Africa – Colors all over the place. Would look good on one person, not a crowd.

Spain – Gasol looks like MCConaughey in that hat. Scarves look great. Women too much yellow, men not enough but great paisley? ties

Sri Lanka – great outfits, stripes on one side but not the other. Muted colors but many colors

Sudan – robes too big. Women in giant napkins, sorry to say it

Suriname – maybe best tracksuits yet. Mostly green. Nice flag crets too

Swaziland – Nothing to say here, suit and tie

Sweden – Back to 1978 for these. Kristy McNichol and Charlene Tilton

Switzerland – red sweatervests, grey suits, men and women are the same but men’s is pullover and women’s is zipper? looks sharp

Syria – Ties too shiny. Ties too big. Suits too polyester. I see a wealthy fatcat

Taiwan – Striped jackets are hard on the eyes en masse, but also look bad with the non-striped pants. Lack of effort, D-minus

Tajikistan – That woman is in a nice silk pattern – Men in crazy blue-green shiny blazers. I just saw that guy for Syria, now he’s Tajik

Tanzania – women have nice flag-based scarves. Men look like elderly businessmen

Thailand – understated and attractive suits. Women in same suits as men but without ties.

Timor-leste – again nice flag scarves. Not much else.

Togo – Those shirts are too much clashing. Baseball cap never good either. THEY ALL HAVE BASEBALL CAPS. White guy in neck brace, what:

Tonga- – Plaid-ish ties are good. Everyone has a DIFFERENT grass-skirt thing. Ties are very good.

Trinidad / Tobago – nice combo of red and black. Women have what look like sashes but are part of the dress, great idea. Men should have ties but don’t, just black shirts

Tunisia – no ties. All unbuttoned in exact Same way. Hijab looks elastic, not great

Turkey – Nice shade of beige, same shade for both jacket and tie – circular badge slapped on  lazily

Turkmenistan – WOW. Velvet jackets. Satin? I forget which is which. Great hats but just for women!8-pointed stars! Blue! Green!

Tuvalu – face paint. Dumb tracksuits. Unique color scheme, blue and orange but not bright.

Uganda – men have off-white shirt things with great collars. Women have matronly robes.

Ukraine – Finally, A Furry Hat! only on flag bearer. Everyone else, barf

UAE – I see no theme here at all. Negative points and more negative points for baseball cap

USA – Nice flag scarves. Berets look good. All have badge right at front of hat, kind of unnerving. Look like prep school ties. Rounded collar points, brass buttons. Nice white skirts

Uruguay – light blue is nice. Hey where are they? USA again, USA USA

Uzbekistan – brown! All wearing same brown outfit. Businessmen

Vanuatu – red, yellow, green, black, blurry

Venezuela – all white. Never good.

Vietnam – cream jackets, dark tan pants. Snappy.

Virgin Islands – US ones? Most rustic straw hats yet. Nice blue summer shirts.

Yemen – that guy looks really wealthy. Jackets too shiny for black jackets.

Zambia – hunter green jackets, light green ties. I guess I always like that.

Zimbabwe – prep school outfits,

Team GB – crinkly gold trim on white outfits? Look like Sgt. Pepper’s Abba band. Pretty ostentatious. Who are those girls in the peasant petticoats? Anticlimax for real

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There are not many photos out there of the costumes. I couldn’t find Madagascar or Malawi or Niger, some of the best African ones.

Anyway, some of the good:






Trinidad and Tobago

Costa Rica

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the bad:




Czech Republic




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and the weird:


El Salvador



Cook Islands


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Your thoughts?

Ringer Episode Ten: Recap liveblog liverecapblog

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Episode Ten: “That’s What You Get For Trying To Kill Me”

In honor of our probably not watching Ringer beyond this week, the recap of Episode Ten will be done in the form of the “liveblog”, which is was so popular nowadays before the invention of Twitter. Here at the Ascetic Guy Mansion we’re fully stocked up on the “Fruit & Seed Crunch” Ryvita that’s only available from the supermarket near home, not the supermarket near work, and we’re drinking egg nog from an Apollo Theater mug.

2 – Opening credits, she says something to Agent Machado, then says something to the audience, not breaking stride.

3 – Ah, that was Charlie’s cell phone Malcolm picked up in the kitchen. I thought it might have just been his own.

Candles! Petals! He looks so silly. Suspenders? Blue shirt with white collar? Is this a Kevin Spacey character? Even in a seduction scene the person talking to Bridget/Siobhan has to tell her something about herself. “I know white roses are your favorite.”

5- Who is this bleating voice? I can’t even search for the lyrics. All the vowels sound like eeee’s. One good thing about network TV shows is that the nudity is always going to be brief.

6 – “Big sister’s watching you.” – Good line from Juliet about the big white face. Yet another split second of suspense, instantly resolved. Juliet is now entirely a good girl w.r.t. her new stepmother.

9 – I refer to Jill as the woman with the great gums. This kid in the ad for … Powerpoint?… is quite charismatic – I like how he shrugs embarrassedly at the more animated moments of his presentation.

10 – Siobhan’s sunglasses are expanding to immense dimensions. Oh, we didn’t need to SEE her faking the black eye. Hey, Tyler realizes that she’s been manipulating him. “I did … at first. But then something happened. I started to have feelings for you. The other stuff doesn’t matter anymore.” Did I write that before or after she said it?

13 – Charlie had GEMMA’s phone. And why would you lock your basement if you didn’t have Gemma in it? Oh, she’s there.

14 – Detective Towers and Detective Saldano show up at John’s place. Apparently John has been using the name Charlie. Of course, it’s Narcotics Anonymous! And he has a secret identity. Of course, he leaves Malcolm at his new place and often goes back to his mother’s old place! Oh, and John is ex-NYPD. And Malcolm was spotted in reality, not in John’s accurate imagination, breaking into his house.

17 – “If Gemma wasn’t in the basement [when they searched his pad], he must have moved her.” Or killed her! Couldn’t she finally be dead? Wow, look at Bridget’s shoes [as the doors close].

18 – John is very upset on the phone with Siobhan right now. He calls Malcolm a “dip”. They have a testy negotiation and she puts up halfhearted resistance to the idea of killing her only friend.

19 – Pantene captures the potential of kasha. Not even the power of kasha, just the potential. And the bottle is made of up to 59% plant-based material. Wow, that could be as much as 59%! Or 0.059%! Might as well say “up to 59% or more”.

21 – Owls dream of Britney Spears in a forest on a ballet stage.

24 – She’s dead! Gemma’s finally dead! But how are all these cops here so fast? Oh, this is another flashback. To the death of the last stripper-informant Agent Carbonell employed. Containing its own flashbacks to when she was alive. She has a much more old-west-hooker look. Big face, Tousled hair the same color as Gemma’s.

26 – Bridget/Siobhan tells Henry she made a mistake by trusting Charlie. Henry points out that the suspects in Gemma’s disappearance are Bridget, whom “Siobhan” brought into their lives, and Charlie, whom “Siobhan” brought into their lives. She tells him she’s also brought a mysterious drug addict named Malcolm into their lives. He points out that none of her detective work is helping. And he has not slept in weeks. Weeks? No sleep? Polaha’s reading of “My kids miss their mom like crazy” somehow makes me believe the kids DON’T miss their mom. Why is he all dressed up?

28 – Mr. C is so hot. He wears ties, and he’s like a thousand. Ties are sexy, and he’s only 30. Anyway, Juliet seems to have found a friend at the public school. Very glamorous African-American girl, great hair.

29 – Charlie came over to visit! Andrew really likes him. Andrew leaves. “Trust me. You’re gonna want me to run these errands.” What are the anniversary presents? The non-negotiable world-class beaches mentioned last week? He starts ordering her around before Andrew’s elevator descends one floor. No messing around, that’s nice. His line now is that this is a ransom situation. And just leaves. Ball in the air loses some of its tension.

32 – Andrew catches her counting up the ransom. She breaks down. Wow that’s a big ring! Looks like a pie crust!

33 – Hart of Dixie looks like fun. Who is this guy with the horrible hair giving all the bald children wigs? I had to mute it.

36 – Suddenly the kidnapping idea seems like what they should have presumed all along. How long has she been missing with no message from the kidnappers? Why did the kidnapper go to Siobhan and Andrew for ransom, and not Tim Arbogast?

37 – Oh, just go away, high school seduction plot. Thank goodness it turns into a confrontation quickly. No, don’t shut the door! Why did you tell Andrea to leave you alone? so you can have a private conversation? Never shut the door when alone with a student! Whose friend just saw her flirting with you! Oh, this isn’t going away.

41 – Charlie uses an excuse [there are cops near the money-handing-over spot, and he warned her not to call the cops – obviously you would expect there to be zero cops in Grand Central Station] to kill Gemma. There’s that pie-crust ring again.

44 – Nexxus Salon Hair Care sure makes Pantene look like a pile of puke. Infinitely gorgeous hair! High concentrations of premium ingredients. Can’t get too many of those!

47 – Henry: “I didn’t know what to do. So I freaked out, and I called the cops.” He sounds like he’s justifying his simple down-to-earth reasoning skills.

48 – Agent Machado and his friend, some other cop, are in Wyoming investigating “the Matador”, the cop who’s on Bodaway’s payroll. The other cop keeps walking behind him. I think he’s going to hit Machado over the head. They keep talking. Oh, instead the other cop points a gun at him. Good thing two other agents appear to neutralize the threat. Scene ends as Machado asks him what really happened when Bridget Kelly ran away.

50 – Juliet is lounging in the middle of her bed like Montgomery Burns when Homer calls him to hang out. Video chat with Andrea. OK, I don’t like that look on her face. She moves her face back and forth preparing to deliver her story. “He forced himself on me.” Instead of Juliet being conniving, I want to see Siobhan being conniving. Please!

52 – Gemma is alive in the trunk. Hits him with a shovel. “You’ve got bad aim.” Oh, now he shoots her again for real. Just after telling her that Siobhan is still alive. Bridget shows up! He thinks she’s Siobhan. He keeps thinking that. She takes his gun. She acts very hard. “You’re not a killer, Siobhan.” Interestingly he says this despite basically being afraid of her. Bridget, meanwhile, may not be scary but she has in fact used a gun before. She finds herself shooting him. Good dynamics of this scene. And now she has to keep a DIFFERENT secret. And Charlie reminds “Siobhan” of yet another thing she should already know – that she is trying to frame Bridget. Could have just gotten rid of her by shooting her! Charlie doesn’t understand the machiavellian scheme either.

56 – On the balcony. Andrew gets a call, Charlie has been found dead, suspected suicide. Gemma also found dead. I thought maybe Bridget was trying to frame the mythical still-on-the-lam Bridget for killing Charlie, much as she framed herself for Gemma’s murder that ended up having not happened, by touching that vase. Whte happened to that?

60 – Over in Paris, Siobhan leaves Tyler, for who knows how long, and with the impression that he’s impregnated her. Bridget now starts believing Siobhan is alive, so that’s the focus of clue-gathering for now. Ends with split-screen on both their faces and Adele’s “Rumour Has It”. One of the most upbeat songs the show has used so far, something of an odd choice.

Conclusion: Many things happened in this episode! Many things! Some strands of plot have finally been resolved! Some people have moved from trying to do one thing, to trying to do something else! Great episode. Still won’t d0 any more recaps, though. If I’m going to watch the rest of the season, or at least watch to see what Siobhan is going to do without Charlie, I need the freedom to totally ignore Juliet. Thank you for your time, everyone. Jalen Rose’s suit.

Ringer Episode Nine: Why all the masterminding? What’s the point?

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Episode Nine: “Shut Up and Eat Your Bologna”

This week we have three developments. One is the introduction of another new character who knew Siobhan well and helpfully tells Bridget-as-Siobhan how she should be behaving. [That hasn’t happened in a few weeks.] The second is the welcome appearance of a suspenseful sequence that lasts more than five seconds. The third is OH MY GOD GEMMA IS TIED UP IN CHARLIE’S BASEMENT.

* * *

Bridget finds out that Siobhan was visiting a therapist, so she makes an appointment. Dr. Anabel Morris [Merle Dandridge] kicks it off by saying “Now, before we begin, I just have to ask – why are you calling yourself Siobhan Martin?” Commercial break! It turns out that Siobhan normally uses the same pseudonym here that she’s using with her boy-toy in Paris. Over the course of their hour, Dr. Anabel Morris tells her “You usually sit in the armchair,” “You never use your real name,” “Discretion has always been very important to you,” and “Siobhan. You know I didn’t prescribe those anti-depressants for depression.” All this while showing no curiosity about her patient’s apparent amnesia.

Later she catches Bridget sneaking back into the office to look for clues to who might be trying to kill Siobhan. REMEMBER THAT? The guy who tried to shoot Bridget early in her impersonating career? And the tall blond guy who followed her around menacingly for a bit? What happened to him? Bridget reminds Malcolm, and us, that the real reason she’s kept up living Siobhan’s life is to figure out what these assassination attempts are all about.

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"Wouldn't be rehab without an 8-cup-a-day habit."

Malcolm’s been busy thinking. There are clues that Charlie and his apartment are not what they seem. The fact that he has alcohol-containing Listerine in the house means it’s probably a Potemkin house and/or he’s not a real recovering alcoholic. Malcolm presumably thinks Charlie is in with Bodaway because otherwise these suspicions would be quite paranoid. [Paranoia is what Siobhan was getting the medicine for, BTW.] Apparently Charlie gets mail at this address [9600 Colonial Road, Brooklyn] addressed to a John Delario, who also lives at 8440 Louise Terrace, Brooklyn. Bridget goes to The Rectory, a bar where Charlie might be, and he’s there.

Charlie: I haven’t had a drink in 5 days. Stop judging, and start pouring.
Barmaid: Anything you say, John.

Zounds! She asks another employee “Have you ever seen him here with … me?” I like that line. “No. He’s always drinking whiskey, he’s always on his cell.” Charlie gets back in touch with Siobhan to say that Malcolm’s under control for now and doesn’t have to be TIED UP IN THE BASEMENT LIKE GEMMA HOLY CRAP.

It would be hard to hit us faster than this with these Charlie/John discoveries. But what does take a little while to develop is Malcolm poking around Charlie’s other place to try to retrieve Bridget’s gun. Gemma is in the basement and detects that someone other than C/J might be upstairs. She thrashes around. Malcolm walks through the kitchen at five inches per minute, almost unlocks the basement, and leaves with nothing in particular. But Bridget didn’t warn him soon enough. Charlie knows he was there.

* * *

Finally, the marriage and family.

Marriage: Andrew is becoming an old softy [“I guess I want to be the man she thinks I am”], and Olivia doesn’t like it. She doesn’t believe now is the wrong time to hit up Gemma’s old man Arbogast for his millions of investable monies. She rips up Henry’s dividend reinvestment thing and goes to his house to have a chat and make him sign some other thing. This might be Ringer‘s first scene in which two of Siobhan’s longtime associates talk ABOUT Bridget/Siobhan. Henry ducks out to check on the kids, and Olivia snoops into his cell phone. I assumed she was looking for Arbogast’s contact info, and maybe she is, but she gets distracted by a photo of Henry and Siobhan in love. She hadn’t suspected that. And just when Andrew is losing his edge and screwing up Olivia’s business by falling for Siobhan’s womanly distractions. This is valuable knowledge.

Family: We see Henry and Gemma’s kids! They exist! Two adorable redheaded boys. Does this mean we’re to believe Gemma’s hair is naturally that color? Dear lord. We don’t see Juliet or her hot English teacher at all this week.

Let’s take a step back and assess Ringer in general. Frankly I don’t look forward to the episodes, despite the fine musical selections [this week The Raveonettes, “Apparitions” and Adeline, “Stereo”] and the show’s ability to keep multiple balls in the air without seeming frantic. And I don’t think I’ll stick with it in the new year. Why is this?

Maybe it’s that the show isn’t melodramatic enough. The characters spend very little time arguing. And there’s a heavy emphasis on presenting a realistic and nuanced portrait of drug addiction, which intersects with everything else, meaning everything else has to be somewhat grounded and reflective.  The ridiculousness of the Gemma disappearance has now been resolved. The ridiculous fun-ness of the body-switch plot is made un-ridiculous by the fact that Bridget, Siobhan, and Bridget-as-Siobhan look, talk, and act the same. Back in the fall we were looking forward to Ringer and Revenge as equally likely to be trashy, fascinating entertainments. It’s clear now that only Revenge qualifies.

And the characters aren’t plausible enough for us to be satisfied by watching them in these non-ridiculous situations. Major plot elements are ignored for week after week — it’s not just that they don’t figure in the plot, they pass out of the characters’ heads completely. And the biggest one of all – what is Siobhan doing? Why is she manipulating everyone? Who is she TRYING to manipulate, and who just happened to stumble into the web? This is all a mystery. But the thing is, it’s just as much of a mystery now as when we first realized Siobhan was alive. No potential motives have been suggested.  Are we ever going to see her for more than a minute per episode? Is Gellar ever going to get a chance to make Siobhan a separate character from Bridget? I’ll give them one more chance.

Ringer Episode Eight: Everybody Loves Malcolm

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Episode Eight: “Maybe We Can Get a Dog Instead”

Three things happen in this episode.

  • The pregnancy is finally addressed.
  • Malcolm comes face-to-face with Bridget, and then Charlie.
  • Juliet starts trying to seduce her teacher.

How much drama is brought about? It should be an emotional workout, especially with Malcolm’s wrenching descent into addiction [brought about by Bodaway’s thugs injecting him with the pure stuff, remember]. But the lead actors each have a default facial expression that mutes the importance of everything. Sarah Michelle Gellar looks confused as Bridget and knowing as Siobhan. Kristoffer Polaha looks hurt. Zoey Deutch looks hurt. Tara Summers looked hearty and optimistic before she found out about the affair, then she looked miserable. Mike Colter looks grimly determined. There are only two whose face, in my mental image of them, is not frozen into a single expression. Ioan Gruffudd and Billy Miller.

Good for Billy, since he first appeared in Episode Five and already I can imagine him smiling, frowning, frustrated, confident, nervous, determined. He’s my one hope that the show will be saved from a morass of carefully-congealing plot developments forecast hours in advance. As for Ioan Gruffudd, he’s a film actor. Maybe I just don’t like TV drama acting. Maybe it requires different skills, maybe maintaining an immediately recognizable persona, including mood, is essential for the story to maintain coherence from month to month. But it’s making Ringer hard to approach with any prospect of excitement.

* * *

So, Episode Seven ended with Bridget-as-Siobhan about to get a sonogram after her memorial-architectual-exhibition fainting spell. She’ll be revealed as not really pregnant, thus not really Siobhan! Now we see the results … nothing. Oh no. Awk.ward! Actually, all that ensues are outpourings of sympathy for a presumed ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. Everyone is shattered. It’s only been … three weeks since the pregnancy test? Even Juliet offers her some tea. And Bridget makes a real blooper by telling Andrew she doesn’t want to try again for a child soon — “just want to go back to the way things were.”

Andrew starts behaving like a jerk, pointing out that that’s the way things were. She cheers him up by arriving unexpected to his business lunch with … Tyler! Remember Tyler, the sculpted-torsoed youngster Siobhan’s been using for companionship and company secrets, over in Paris? Andrew’s going to promote him to replace the guy Andrew blames for losing the company secrets that Tyler lost. So, Bridget sits next to him. Imagine his confusion, especially since the few neurons in his skull seem entirely occupied by women and classy nightlife. Really, imagine the conversation. Bridget-as-Siobhan talks about the things she’s been doing lately, as Tyler gapes at her apparent skill at lying … Tyler tries to talk about Paris, and Andrew and Olivia are perplexed at why he won’t believe she hasn’t been there. It could be an interesting complication to the familiar switched-identity business. We don’t see that — we just see Tyler whisper to her that he didn’t realize he was sleeping with the boss’s wife. Tension fizzles, yet again.

* * *

Malcolm’s story gathers momentum. Just in this episode Agent Machado finds Malcolm and forces Bridget-as-Siobhan to talk to him; she shrewdly and bravely passes Malcolm a note revealing her true identity; she cleverly gets mad at Machado after the aborted conversation [“What the hell was that? You didn’t tell me Bridget’s friend was a drug addict!”]; she brings Malcolm to meet Andrew; she mentions to Charlie that her old sponsor is in town; she tells Charlie his name [uh-oh]; and she brings Malcolm to meet Charlie. And stay with him. This story is racing forward. Something suspenseful could have happened in the period when Charlie knew her sponsor was in town, but knew nothing else. But that period lasted less than a minute.

Will there be Native American drug lords, George?

Anyway, Malcolm’s now at Charlie’s apartment and mercy. How long is Charlie going to keep doing what Siobhan wants? When will we find out what’s in it for him, with all this crazy criminality and betrayal? And what’s her plan?

* * *

Juliet is very much in the background of Episode Eight, despite uttering the title once again. At the beginning she’s feeling betrayed by Mr. C’s recommendation to have her transferred to another class. She suggests that they should get together and watch “Of Mice and Men, the original with Burgess Meredith”. Which he owns on DVD. Truly, a “smart” character in a TV show can’t be smarter than the writers, and a character who supposedly owns old movies on DVD can’t have a better notion than the writers do of what old movies people watch. Then at the end she barges in on his “Young Samaritans Club” meeting. It would be really nice if we saw any other teachers at this school so we’d have some context for this obsession of hers. Is he a diamond in the rough, a gem in an ocean of slugs, a flower in a pot of dirt?

* * *

Ancillary note: No noticeable songs until right at the end, when this quite nice High Highs song plays over the Malcolm-being-welcomed-by-all montage. Any other music was overshadowed by the Miss Dior ads featuring “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus”. That song may be important and unique but it’s almost impossible to actually sit there and listen to. And to listen to thirty seconds of it five times in five unskippable commercial breaks? Please, bring back Audrina Patridge and her porkpie hat.

Ringerblogging 5: The Conspirator

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Episode Seven: “Oh Gawd, There’s Two of Them?”

Best episode so far. Despite the third straight title taken from something Juliet says, there’s no school scenes. There’s one shocking twist that ISN’T a complete cheat, and one that is but is timed perfectly. That occurs when Henry and Andrew are called in for routine questioning about the Gemma Butler murder that’s filling all the front pages. They’re given a picture of Bridget and asked to identify this woman. In separate rooms. Cuts back and forth. They look untroubled. Cuts back and forth. They aren’t staring at the interrogator as if it’s obvious. What’s he thinking? Then in unison they say “Bridget Kelly”. Immediate cut to a day ago. Apparently … she told them she has a sister. Phew! Back to normal.

Continuing to cut between conversations, “Siobhan” shows Agent Machado the evidence of the clever fake phone call she made to Bridget, or Bridget made to her, or any way, it was a message pretending that Bridget was leaving town, earlier that morning. Agent Machado cleverly notes that this call was made a minute or two after the local detectives showed up to bring her and Andrew to Precinct 15, and thus it just might have been made AFTER the detectives showed up, rather than proving that the detectives just missed her. This isn’t mentioned again.

Back up a couple more days, to see how Malcolm escapes his captors, by cleverly waking up after they’ve left the truck unattended and unlocked. Back up 9 more months, to see Malcolm and Bridget celebrate 3 months of sober Bridget. That means right now it’s exactly 12 months sober. Did she mention that at her NYC NA meeting? I forget. They have intimate relations, immediately before and after which Malcolm sternly emphasizes the importance of them not having intimate relations. If we didn’t know they’d had intimate relations, we wouldn’t know that anything’s going through their heads when their eyes meet!

Back to the present. Andrew is understandably concerned, given what he’s found out about Bridget, that Siobhan and he could possibly be contacted by the vicious mobsters who are desperate to find her. Is there any chance of, maybe, the vicious mobsters threatening her family, especially since Siobhan obviously knows where Bridget is? Bridget/Siobhan tells him not to worry. This isn’t mentioned again.

* * *

Bridget needs a detective. As her new sponsor, Charlie’s duty bound to do whatever she wants, though he seems a little threatening now that he’s been given agency. Also she can withhold any information she wants, under the “Too many questions, right?” rule, leaving him risking mprisonment to bring  a woman he’s just met information of unknown relevance. What a guy. Or is he?

Parallel parties commence. Juliet demonstrates her newfound maturity by driving slightly drunk, to save her extremely drunk friend Monica, with whom she’s been allowed to spend the weekend after being banned from seeing Erica. Erica out, Monica in. Meanwhile, a teary festschrift is in progress at the new Hamilton Park Pavilion. Should they cancel this exhibition of Gemma’s architectural might? Should everyone not show up? Malcolm Ward shows up and Bridget/Siobhan faints. Andrew gets a call from Juliet’s teacher. Juliet’s been in a car crash. And worse, she called her teacher instead of her father. He finally says the sentence we knew knew he’d say someday: “You’re cut off.”

He also says this to Bridget/Siobhan, explaining why he wasn’t happy to find out she was pregnant. “We weren’t in a good place. We weren’t speaking, barely having sex anymore … [intake of breath] … getting pregnant seemed like a compliation.” Now, the phrasing of this statement would be ludicrous if they were still not having sex. But … are they … there’s no way. She could … not pull off that impersonation? It’s been … three weeks since Bridget replaced Siobhan. They have to address this soon. We could be in a world where pregnant sex is taboo, that’s fine, but they haven’t made that clear.

And speaking of pregnancy, she’s about to get a sonogram when the episode ends! What what?!

And speaking of the episode ending, this is the good part. Charlie is creeping around the airport long-term lot and breaking into Gemma’s car. Why did he ask Bridget where the car was anyway? This is doomed. Any minute a security guard is going to lay a hand on his shoulder. He wipes up a blood drop in the trunk, and makes a phone call. He reports that there’s no clues except his own blood. Gemma hit him with her bag when he abducted her. What what?!? He’s reporting to Siobhan. Oh man!! So that’s why he approached Bridget at the NA meeting back in episode whatever that was. Oh wow!! So that’s why he seemed to be reciting the addict script by rote. So that’s why they got legendary soap badboy Billy Miller to be what appeared to be Siobhan’s hanger-on and hopeless suitor. He hangs up and the interesting thing, for a viewer, is that we go from being sure he’s going to get picked up by security, to being positive that he isn’t. This paragraph is entirely sincere.

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