Toy House

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Singed Bangs

This week on Roswell: Apparently, someone down at Continuity Headquarters has been a bit sleepy on the job and chosen to neglect the unwritten truism that we, the audience, at least have to meet a so-called "major" character before investing emotionally when suddenly faced with the prospect of watching said character, oh, I don’t know, spontaneously burst into flames. For instance. So, in a vague and slightly patronizing attempt to hoodwink the viewer into believing that we know Max and Isabel’s mother so intimately that she might as well have borne all of us herself, we begin the week with a poorly edited and emotionally vacuous "previously on Roswell" that prominently features the nine cumulative seconds Mrs. Evans has spent on screen thus far in the series, as if this "Greatest Hits Of This Total Stranger" package is in some way synonymous with the lost art known in old-fashioned circles as "character development." Hmmm. Those were the two longest sentences -- ever. With a really, really tiny one in between.

Fade in on a distractingly non-sequitur hand-held shot from the upcoming UPN reality special World’s Most Sinister Footage Of Non-Threatening Birds in Flight, which inexplicably gives way to a close-up of vegetables being tossed into a frying pan. Um, what’s going on? I feel suddenly as if I have stumbled upon some experimental German short film, whereby juxtaposed shots of birds and frying food make total sense in some really artistic, non-linear way. I half-expect said German art film to go full tilt "Deiter’s Dream" and the next shot to be an extreme close-up of an old man lying in a baby carriage, wearing a bonnet and yelling "Schnell! Schnell!" for some reason only understood to the German film making community, like a joke shared by the Eastern-Bloc power elite whose laughter we can’t hear, muffled as it is behind the Iron Curtain. But before I have a chance to corroborate these hypotheses by running out to my local video store and renting anything with the word "Das" in the title, the Frying-Pan Cam ends its artistic reign and we cut upwards to reveal the kitchen at Chez Evans, where Mrs. "I Hope These Bangs Aren’t Genetic" Evans is sharing some bonding time with Max "These Bangs Are Definitely Genetic, Even Though I’m Adopted" Evans. She’s slaving over a hot frying pan while Max sits at the kitchen table, deep in pretending he’s not an alien. Good luck keeping that charade up till the end of this scene. Max looks over at his mom and chides her, "Hey, mom, why don’t you put a little more garlic in there," to which I want her to shoot back, "Why don’t you cook the goddamn meal yourself, Mr. Frugal Goddamn Gourmet?" But she doesn’t, and I realize with incredulous horror that I’m already bored. Bangs responds with some comment about how uncorked she gets when Max’s father is out of town, and then quickly turns the subject to Max’s biology homework in a pathetic attempt to distract him from her own admission that she gets around when Mr. Evans goes away on business. They bond over how bad they both are at science, and Max tells his mom not to worry because "I have a good lab partner. She’s really good in science." Bangs allows herself to become diverted from cooking long enough to motion curiously in a manner I might colloquially refer to as "raising an eyebrow," should said eyebrow not be obscured beneath such an egregiously maintained shelf of hair. "She?" she inquires. Yeah, she. Jeez, Mom, it’s a lab partner, not a concubine. "She’s a really good lab partner" should ring the same alarm as "she’s a really good accountant" or "she’s a really good OB/GYN." It just shouldn’t automatically equate to all things sexy. I’m just sayin’. But then I remember that "science class" is practically the same thing as "hotbed of burgeoning sexual passion" as far as this thrill ride of a show is concerned, and, well, I guess I can’t fault Bangs for trying.

Still grilling Max on the topic of "Sexiest Lab Partners And The Lab Partners Who Love Them," Bangs loses her concentration and knocks over a full bottle of cooking oil. So much chaos in that kitchen, what with one person cooking, immaculate and copious counter space, quiet music playing in the background, and a lone pan frying two pieces of broccoli on the stove. No wonder she lost track of an entire bottle of the one cooking agent in the entire place. I mean, it’s a maaaaadhouse in there. But no matter. The convo continues, but just as Max is about to tell Bangs that he and Liz are "just friends" (sniff, sniff -- oh wait, I just remembered that I don’t care), the oil meets the gas stove and the whole thing goes up in flames. Max, shocked by this ludicrous display of tacky and non-believable special effects, leaps up and pushes her out of the way. And really, an offstage Production Assistant rubbing together two pieces of cellophane and a guy ambling around on camera wearing an orange and yellow t-shirt reading "House On Fire" would make a more credible blaze than this hack job. While Bangs recoils on the floor, Max works his mad voodoo shit on the big bad flames, extinguishing them in a hurry. But coming to his senses immediately after, he reaches for a pot filled with water and throws it on the charred remains of what was once their incredibly meager dinner. Way to create a, well, er, a smokescreen, Max. First of all, difficult as it was to fight through the visibility-impairing bangs, Bangs watched you do the whole thing. And second, and perhaps more importantly, water doesn’t put out a grease fire. I know that, you know that, Smokey the Bear knows that, everyone knows that. Except them. So we fade to credits with Max hugging his tearful but relieved mother, and I realize when I yell, "Hey, Bangs! You’re FIRED!" that cheesy jokes about fire are going to be an endless source of personal satisfaction to me this week. And I also came to another deeper level of understanding during my four week Roswell vacation that I think it is important to share with anyone who has a vested interest in the world in which we live: Get Real is just a horrible, horrible show.

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