Ken Tucker
June 16, 2009 AT 06:19 AM EDT

It’s come to this: the only way to get Jon and Kate Gosselin to share a TV scene is to get them involved with other adults they can talk to, because they sure ain’t talking to each other. Thus this week’s TLC cross-promotion with American Chopper. Let’s hear Kate squeal, “You’re sweaty!” when she takes a ride with Paul Senior! Let’s see Jon help build his own boss hog, while Paul Senior yells at him! “Are you paying attention?” Paul hectored Jon. “Are you learning anything?” If you closed your eyes, you’d swear it was the good old days, with Kate badgering Jon.

Ah, but the good old days of Jon and Kate Plus 8 are long gone, as this half hour proved. The kids, needing a male figure in their lives more than ever, were entertained by Chopper-boy Mikey, who brought along his Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist dummy to “talk” to the tykes. A bit later, Jon spoke of “enjoying something on my own, and hanging out with guys and doing guy things.” This man is now virtually begging for a divorce right on camera.

Kate took Mikey to a spa for some hair-washing and a pedicure. Why? Because they had a half hour of television to kill. No other reason than that. It was all perfectly pleasant, affable, and kinda dull. The Chopper guys were good sports. Kate donated her pink bike to the Ronald McDonald House charity, and we were reminded by Jon that, soon after the sextuplets were born, Jon and Kate stayed at a Ronald McDonald House, because they were overwhelmed, not wealthy, and needed some help. But that was back when this series was truly fascinating, and such personal details weren’t the stuff of tabloid scandal, but the kinds of facts that illuminated their simpler lives.

Oh, well. What’s next, to keep the show going on TLC? A very special crossover episode with 18 Kids and Counting, in which the Duggars adopt Jon because his name, like all their other children’s, begins with a “J”?

Did you watch Jon and Kate this week? What did you think?

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