Six Feet Under
An Open Book

Episode Report Card
Aaron: B+ | Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
Deft, where ith thy thting?

See? I knew I could count on you. In the seven days since posting my various pleas for assistance in last week's recap, I've received (among others) the following e-mails:

1. Detailed instructions on a number of nifty little TiVo tricks, one of which will display the seconds for counting StC.
2. 4,376 French translations of the word "week." It's semaine. I. Get. It. Thanks, though.
3. Lots of other fun foreign words: Die Einbalsamierung! Das Sargzimmer!
4. One marriage proposal.
5. Six death threats.
6. Yet another "I can't believe I found you through MBTV!" e-mail from someone I haven't seen since high school.

So I guess this means the recent media frenzy over our forums is justified: We really do have the most intelligent, literate, and well-rounded readers on the Internet. Aww. I love you guys, and all the more so for the surprisingly large contingent of you who apparently knew me when I had hair. At this rate, you should expect my high-school yearbook to be showing up on eBay at any minute. And not just because Kurt Angle is in there with me.

Now that I've kissed your asses a bit, here's the bad news: I actually liked this week's episode. Yeah, I know. It went a little over the top in places, but after barely registering a pulse in the first four shows, a little flamboyance was a welcome addition. Anyway, this week opens with a nearly naked and newly mellifluously monikered La Femme Morte de la Semaine (tm sorkinhead, maryng, and the entire population of France and certain Canadian provinces), taking a bath and chatting with an off-screen companion. As she talks (and waves her breasts in the mirror), the camera lingers on a number of naked photos of her that are displayed around the room. La Femme Morte prattles on, referring to herself as a "fucking hot-shit bitch," before mentioning that she's looking forward to an evening with her new boyfriend, because he's "got a big fat dick, and he fucks like a jackhammer." Knowing Alan Ball's work history as I do, and noting the obvious resemblance to the actress he's chosen here, I can only assume this is Al's fever dream version of bath-time at Cybill Shepherd's house. Incidentally, I debated whether or not it was strictly necessary to include those two quotes in the recap, but I've come to the conclusion that if Alan Ball gets to be a potty-mouth, so do I. And while our profanity policy here is kind of scary, it's not naked-Cybill-Shepherd scary, so it's okay. Anyway, the off-screen companion not surprisingly turns out to be a cat, and the little furball jumps up on the counter while Cybill continues to ramble. After two weeks on the bench, The Ironic Musical Detachment Fairy finally gets back in the game, warbling, "Don't let me down. Your momma's gonna help you move uptown," as the cat knocks the electric curlers right into the tub. After a shot of some twitching toes and some sizzling on the soundtrack, The Ironically White Title Card of Death informs us of the passing of "Jean Louise 'Viveca St. John' McArthur." Sometimes I think they spend more time writing these names than they do on the rest of the script.

I, on the other hand, spend no time at all on the names. Fade up on Mommie Drearest (tm Sher), sitting in church with David beside her. As the choir sings, I lament the fact that Christians always seem to have better choirs than Jews, while David takes the time to ogle one of the sopranos singing in the front row. Not one of the actual Sopranos, mind you, but what with all the AOL Time Warner cross-promotion going on in this week's episode, I don't blame you for being confused. Incidentally, despite the debate in the forum, I'd say the soprano definitely ogles him right back. Cut to later, as David and Ruth greet one of the priests outside. He welcomes David "back to the fold," which causes David to confess that he's simply been attending a different church. Upon hearing that it was "St. Stephen's" in West Hollywood, Father Jack forms a knowing smile, and imparts that he hopes David "always feels as welcome here as [he] does there." Then he suggests that David succeed his father as a deacon of the church, because the congregation would benefit from listening to "a younger voice." David is delighted by the idea, and Ruth gushes as well. With that conversation out of the way, Dave strolls off to be accosted by The Annoying Funeral Stalker Girl. She launches straight into a hyper-speed rant about how she just joined the church and likes the "whole ritual part of it," before concluding with, "Ooh, you smell nice. What is that?" David: "Uh, who are you?" She introduces herself as "Tracy Montrose-Blair," and reminds David that her uncle was buried at his funeral home. It’s not until she mentions that he had a tattoo of a roulette wheel on his back, however, that David remembers who he was. Tracy also admits to having a tattoo of her own, and at this point, who wants to give me odds that Alan Ball has a huge "Oscar 2000!" tattoo on his own backside? David gently tries to put her off, saying that he's got a girlfriend, and they're engaged. Tracy responds with a well-delivered, if predictable, "Good for you. Most men your age are so commitment-phobic it's pathetic...or they're gay. I'm certainly glad to find out you're not gay." David: "Yes, men are pigs." Again, it's all in the delivery, but heh. I so want these two to get married all Object Of My Affection-style and adopt Lauren Ambrose. Now that would be a cool show. Instead, David walks back over to Mom, who says, "She looks nice." David: "She looks nuts." As alliteration is an object of my affection, I can admit this was a pretty funny scene, even for this show.

The Ironic Segue Fairy cuts us straight from, "She looks nuts," to a shot of Brenda in the pool at her parents' palatial hillside home. Nate wanders out onto the patio, admiring the house and wondering how often her parents go away. She invites him to join her in the pool, but he's afraid it might be too cold. "Mommy and Daddy keep it hot all the time," she deadpans. "They're very wasteful." Never one to pass up the opportunity for public fornication, Nate quickly disrobes and dives in with her. There's a few minutes of psychobabble, punctuated by the director's oh-so-obtrusive handheld cinema verité shot selection, and then Foreshadowing dons a wetsuit and swims out to hand Brenda some new script pages. "I'm an open book," she tells Nate, thus setting up her eventual big revelation and scoring points for the Sopranos-style title vocalization while doing it. Eventually they're interrupted by the arrival of Brenda's parents, and really, who didn't see that one coming? Yeah, that's what I thought. The parents have names, of course, but their respective resemblances to Bo Derek and Harvey Fierstein leave me no choice but to call them, well, Bo and Harvey. I'm just not as good with the nicknames as you people. Brenda does a poor job of pretending like she didn't know they would be coming home, and then introduces Nate as "the man [she's] having sex with." Harvey and Bo remain indulgently unappalled, and she goes on to mention that Nate is studying for his funeral director's license. Bo invites him to stay for lunch, causing Brenda to sulk out of the pool in disgust, but Nate remains submerged and demurs, claiming that he has to study. Bo and Harvey both sport semi-evil grins as they realize he's naked, and they calmly sit down to watch him emerge from the pool.

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