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The Brain Game

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Gustave: B- | Grade It Now!
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Some Heads Are Bigger Than Others

Carmen's adventure in Latina-cliché-land. Her first salsa lesson. Fortyish female salsa teacher, who is kind of working this Rita Moreno-on-Oz world-weariness coupled with a Joanne Wurley-meets-Carmen Maura sense of personal style, tells Carmen that she sucks as a dancer. "I watch you dance and I relive my birth trauma," says Fortyish Female Salsa Teacher. Oh, can we have this woman on every week? Please? Oh but wait, it's not that Carmen is a bad dancer per se, explains the salsa teacher. It's that she's "thinking so hard about the steps," she doesn't "feel them." Gee, I wonder where this is going. Do you suppose that maybe Carmen will be able to "feel" the magic of salsa dancing if -- say -- Fortyish Female Salsa Teacher has a hunky non-English-speaking nephew, played by someone like Mario Lopez from Saved By the Bell, who will awaken Carmen's sensuality by dancing with her? No way! Popular would never resort to such a clichéd story line full of trite concepts about rhythm and ethnicity. Oh wait. They are. Salsa Teacher calls her nephew Pablo and makes her dance with Carmen. "He doesn't speak any English," she explains. "But he has music in his blood." Pablo enters. Carmen's eyes light up as she melts and sizzles just like a thick layer of cheese on top of a pan full of enchiladas.

Empty classroom. Harrison fruitlessly attempts to coach Josh on some math questions. Josh fails to grasp even the simplest concepts of geometry. Um, if Josh is really this ignorant, why isn't he in special ed or something? And what is Harrison getting out of this arrangement? They cut to Pablo teaching Carmen in the dance studio. At first it's awkward and messy. Like biting into a stale taco shell and getting the filling in your lap. But soon Carmen and Pablo are mixing it up like beans and rice. Okay, no one actually said something that excruciatingly clichéd out loud, but I'm sure someone was thinking it. Back in the empty classroom, Harrison attempts to teach Josh some more. Josh asks why Harrison isn't doing the Big Head challenge himself. "I don't think Sam and I should be playing on the same team right now," says Harrison. Carmen and Pablo flirt some more…and dance badly. He tries to schedule another lesson. She thinks he's asking her out. 'Cause it's not an episode until Carmen makes a fool of herself over someone thinner than she is. Finally she gets it, though, and schedules a lesson for the following Saturday. I'm having a bit of trouble with this whole thing because Pablo doesn't seem terribly heterosexual to me. But then I guess it would make sense that Carmen would throw herself at a gay man. It's about the only pathetic thing that hasn't happened to her this season.

Kennedy hallway. Harrison has finally had enough of failing to coach Josh for the Big Head team. A delivery person from Mr. Cluck's arrives with two chicken dinners for Josh -- something to eat while he studies solo. Somehow this leads to Josh demonstrating his Rain Man-like knowledge of chicken facts. This heartens Harrison, who changes his mind and decides to stick around and get Josh ready for tryouts the next day.

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