the hills season 3, episode 8, “for better or worse”
September 25, 2007
[splashcast MRDJ5167JJ TRCU7740GR]
- god that was bad. what happened?
- the looping was just ridiculous. i caught the tail end of an episode of “newport beach” the other day and there was this climactic scene where a teenage girl was in the jacuzzi with her new boyfriend at night. and they’re doing the kind of awkward glancing that this form does so well and then the camera cuts to a wide shot so we can’t see her eyes or her mouth or the expression on her face and she tells him, “i’m a virgin” and the line is looped. and it’s not like the producers are trying to redirect what the scene’s about; the next shot is the natural reaction of the cool manly surfer dude to her letting him know she’s still pocketing the v-card. i guess there was just obviously something about the way the girl said she was a virgin that just wasn’t an acceptable reading and what it really makes you wonder is how she said it, what words she used, what tone, what the look in her eyes was, how she was breathing, what she did with her hands. and i thought that was some pretty bold looping, but after this shit tonight…
- because really, I have no problem with looping as it’s usually done on “the hills.” i usually mention it here because noticing it is part of a thorough analysis of “the hills” and also because it raises interesting questions about televisual reality.
- and one question it really raises is, why not just reshoot the scenes? if there’s eventually going to be looping in every episode anyway, why not just do another take or two on location? maybe that’s interfering with the reality of these girls’ lives too much (maybe it’s in their contracts), but god, how is it really that different than them looping the lines later? i don’t think the authenticity division of the LAPD is going to show up at Teen Vogue and shut down the shoot.
- and so many dropped-in lines that aren’t necessary, that don’t make any sense, like the editor all of a sudden developed tourettes. like in the scene where heidi and jen bunny are looking for bridesmaid dresses, they enter the dress shop and as the door closes, they drop in heidi saying “oh, i can’t wait to show you this dress.” this is necessary for…continuity, context? she wants to show her a dress? no shit, that’s why they’re at the dress shop! the audience can make this connection, kuleshov figured all this out like 90 years ago and he didn’t even have final cut pro. and then as she stands trying on the dress in front of a mirror, they drop in another line, heidi saying “my heart is beating so fast.” stop with the cliché placeholder dialogue! please, give me some odd framings of her face and her eyes and a short cut to her hand gripping the tulle and play under the whole thing an anxious but marketable emo-ballad and i will feel that her heart is beating.
- john gardner describes the goal of fiction as creating “a vivid and continuous dream’. i think john gardner was a conservative jerk who would’ve hated meta-tv like “the hills” and i don’t agree with him on principle, but, still, there’s something to that line that describes why dubbing fucked up tonight’s show so royally. the dubbing was so obvious that i have to believe that even a viewer who has the least possible knowledge of the mechanics of television production was going “what the hell is going on?” and when that happens, all dramatic tension dissipates.
- any good things about the episode? the first scene was great. there was this excellent push pull editing between jason’s bullshit and lauren’s reactions. her eye moves and head bobs were all perfectly pitched. really all the stuff between lauren and jason was good (i never thought i would say jason was the best part of an episode). the “we’re taking shots” montage was really well done, there was a great shot of audrina holding her nose. the speidi shopping spree was okay and what a fantastic line out of left field when spencer says “i think we need to go to tibet” (is tibet still in? it seems so woodstock ’99). what if they had this total brangelina moment and went all granola and spencer grew out one of those monk beard/pony tail combos! the lauren and whitney scene at the end was decent, although the last smile is way too big to come so abruptly, it’s a little scary.
- i have made clear my feelings that whitney is the best performer on the show and this is obviously “the whitney episode” of this season, in the same way as that episode in the second season where whitney is picked to be a model on “good morning america” and walks and falls and recovers and its adorable and it’s touching, etc. and that episode was great. this episode sucked, not because of whitney, but because she had nothing to work with. wooden lisa love (hasn’t she seen ‘the devil wears prada’, doesn’t she know how she’s suppposed to act)? bland “artist you oughta know” pop-punk band (i’m just guessing) where the only one who talks seems like a less interesting clone of mr. fall out boy? predictable plot arc where she is set up to gently fail and then (shock!) does? please. give her something where she can actually express emotion. there was a scene in the trailer where she was breaking up with her boyfriend. when she said “i hope i don’t get wasted” and then the show went into that great liquor montage i allowed myself to believe for a second that the episode was saved because whitney was going to get trashed and then do something incredible. but no.
- i don’t even want to talk about this anymore. it makes me want to stop watching and write about that tila tequila show instead.
- yet i think there are only two episodes left and that is gut-wrenching.
in the player is a song called “phoning it in.” i really wasn’t feeling it today and i kind of phoned it in, so that is what the song is about. i recorded this before the episode of the hills tonight, so it’s kind of funny how coincidentally we both phoned it in. i almost went all laser floyd and put in some echoey telephone rings, but i think it’s enough as is. sorry. maybe i’ll do another song later in the week to make up for it. you know that stupid hypothetical question about which beatle you would rather be and everyone always says john or paul or george? it’s such bullshit, any sane person would be ringo in a heartbeat. if you’re john you get addicted to heroin and get shot. if you’re paul, your wife dies of cancer. if you’re george, you get stabbed, then you die of cancer. ringo just coasts along, free and easy.