Published September 01, 2009
Tonight’s episode of “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” was another one in which the now separated parents divided up the care of their children.
Titled “Dude Ranch & Dress Up,” it was the first episode in which it seemed that both parents were moving ahead more than looking back.
That’s not to say that their troubles were completely behind them when the episode was shot. Kate took the three 5-year-old boys to a dude ranch in Wyoming, where one of the advantages was that they could avoid the media.
“We managed to survive the trip completely 100 percent paparazzi free,” she told the camera.
Jon was at their home in Pennsylvania, watching the five girls. He briefly described his new life: “I’m living in New York, you know. I love being home with my kids. But I also like being in New York, where it’s quiet and I can get things done.
“I think the kids are starting to understand it more,” he added. “What’s going on and how Mommy and Daddy are working things out.”
Things worked out well this episode. At the ranch, Kate dressed the boys in little cowboy hats, jeans and boots. As if that weren’t cute enough, they rode horses, chased around farm animals and played with kittens. One little kitty wound up in one of the boys’ hats.
In case anyone was worried, Kate told the camera, “No animals were injured in the making of this ‘Jon & Kate Plus Eight’ episode.” (Kate probably didn’t win any new fans by doing a lot of her interview back home in a pink cowboy hat.)
As usual, Kate spent much of her family time trying to direct witticisms to the cameras. As she and the boys hiked through the hills, she put on a cowboy accent and said, “It’s gettin’ a little dangerous now.” When she and the boys drove all-terrain vehicles, she said, “Sometimes I have a need for speed.” (Later, the boys bragged about scaring Mommy by turning the handlebars too fast.)
When Kate was about to take a shooting lesson, she said, “Today is the day I get to take out a lot of my frustration,” and then laughed a little creepily.
Firing away, she asked her instructor, “Do you have any covers of the tabloids we can hang as targets?” She was probably thinking about possible tabloid stories later, when music was played at their farewell dinner. “One ranch guy asked me to dance,” she told the camera. “I was exhausted.”
Kate was very impressed with the way the boys got right on their horses. They also hiked out to a mountain lion’s den and came back without asking to be carried.
“They grew up and turned into cowboys right in front of my very eyes,” she told the camera, adding, “It was completely life changing. I will never forget it.”
Judging by their post-trip interviews, the boys will probably most remember how much their horses pooped.
Meanwhile, Jon took care of the five girls back home, holding a scavenger hunt, taking the three 5-year-olds to the dentist and playing dress-up for a concert given by the 8-year-olds.
As has been the case in recent episodes, Jon got the less interesting activities and less screen time. He decided to make a tin-can phone with string, saying that it was something he’d always wanted to do. Although many viewers may miss Kate and Jon’s dysfunctional byplay, he was probably relieved she wasn’t there to roll her eyes if the phone didn’t work.
The pre-commercial teasers kept showing Jon refusing to wear women’s clothing for the concert, then giving in. “I’m not putting a dress on,” he told the little girls. “Not on TV, not ever.”
But he eventually gave in, donning a dress and a big floppy hat, carrying a purse and occasionally sticking his stomach out to show that he was pregnant. “He had a baby,” the girls told the camera.
Maybe Jon figured that since Kate wasn’t there to emasculate him, he would have to do it himself.
On week 2 of “Project Runway,” the contestants were told to design a look for the actress and model Rebecca Romijn, who was pregnant with twins. After tying belly pillows to their mannequins, the designers panicked because few of them had ever designed maternity clothes. While many seemed to be playing it safe, Malvin came up with an egg-shaped bodice meant to evoke a mother hen. “I’m not bored,” said Tim Gunn ambivalently. Tim also told Althea that her dress for luncheon was definitely an evening look. Ra’mon was proud that he was taking risks, but Mitchell told him his garishly patterned dress made his model’s belly look like a bowling ball. During judging, the designer Monique Lhuillier sat in for Michael Kors; Heidi Klum pointed out that all of the judges present had been pregnant and thus knew about maternity clothes. The top three in the judging were Louise, who designed a chic but perhaps too sexy little dress; Althea, who wisely talked as if her dress had been meant for evening all along; and Shirin, the winner for the week, who was praised for creating an evening dress that was both wearable and well constructed. The bottom three were Ra’mon, Mitchell (whose casual outfit was sloppily sewn) and Malvin, who was sent home; he might have survived if he hadn’t told the judges about his poultry theme.
The second episode of “Top Chef” worked the Las Vegas angle hard, while also highlighting the rivalry between the two brothers in the competition, Michael and Bryan. In the quickfire challenge, which was hosted by Padma and the restaurateur Todd English, the contestants had to roll dice at a craps table and then create something with the number of ingredients they had rolled. Michael, who got an eight, won the challenge—and $15,000—with a gazpacho chilled with liquid nitrogen; Bryan, meanwhile, landed in the bottom three with his poached cod. For the main challenge, the contestants split into male and female teams and created hors d’oeuvres to go along with three different shots for a couple’s concurrent poolside bachelor and bachelorette parties. (Ashley, who is a lesbian, kept complaining about having to work at an event celebrating a wedding while she and her partner still can’t get married.) The men’s team won, with Michael, Bryan and Hector chosen as the best three. This time, Bryan came in first. On the women’s side, Eve’s underseasoned shrimp and avocado ceviche was judged the worst, and she was sent off to pack her knives. Speaking of unappetizing, some of the chunkiest guy chefs decided to take off their shirts and jump into the pool.
It was the last week of eliminations leading to the final 20 on “America’s Got Talent.” Seven acts failed to make the cut: the young Bollywood dance troupe Ishaara (although they were extravagantly praised by the judges); the Pee-wee Herman-style sideshow performer Coney Island Chris; the tap-guitar act Matt and Anthony; Pam Martin’s Top Dogs; the African High Flier tumbling troupe; the returning-from-last-year teen singer-pianist Mia Boostrom; and the Lollipop Girls burlesque dancers. The five who went on were the singer-guitarist Drew Stevyns (the only “wild card” act to pass this stage); the classical singer and cancer-survivor mom Barbara Padilla; the rock group Recycled Percussion; the family pop group the EriAm Sisters; and the preteen ballroom-dancing team of Erik and Rickie, who edged out Mia Boostrom in the judges’ choice between the fifth and sixth highest vote getters.
The week of “Big Brother” began with the two nominees for eviction, Natalie and Kevin, looking like sitting ducks. But Kevin managed to persuade Jeff, who was head of household, that Russell was a bigger threat. When Jeff won the power of veto, in a quiz about who got evicted when, he replaced Kevin with Russell, who proceeded to go ballistic, becoming verbally abusive to Jeff and his house girlfriend, Jordan. Perhaps because of that, even Russell’s last ally, Michele, voted for him to be evicted. Creepily, he was all smiles and hugs when he left. The next head-of-household competition was based on making s’mores: While racing back and forth on a slippery “graham cracker,” the contestants tried to fill a bowl with enough hot chocolate to raise a marshmallow to the top. Kevin said that his light, delicate way of walking was a plus in this competiton, and he won. Although he had reassured Jeff that he wouldn’t nominate him for eviction if he won HOH, Kevin nominated Jeff and Michele. Meanwhile, in the jury house, Lydia tried to act angry with Jessie for voting her out and for two-timing her with Natalie, but you could tell she wanted to kiss and make up.
Once again, the girls went wild on “The Real World: Cancun.” First, however, Jasmine and Jonna worked out their differences over Pat, the guy who Jasmine thought Jonna had stolen from her. Fortunately, Jasmine was hooking up with J.R., Pat’s cousin. Unfortunately, both boys were leaving Mexico soon. Meanwhile, Jonna’s hometown boyfriend, Matt, said he was going to walk into traffic because she had left him. Ayiiia took this opportunity to develop a crush on Jonna. On Pat’s last night in town, Ayiiia threw herself at Jonna; Pat, grinning like an idiot, encouraged the two to dance; and we faded to black as they all got into bed and Ayiiia pulled a sheet over the three of them. The morning after, Ayiiia suddenly remembered that there were cameras in the house and fretted that her family would find out about her “experimenting.” Then Jonna made a long-distance call to Pat, who was busy partying and couldn’t talk. She decided maybe he wasn’t worth it.