The Glutton

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Do those ''Previously on...'' recaps at the start of TV shows really get a new viewer up to speed? Plus: a ''Heroes'' obsession, the five most embarrassing projects to star a former cast member of ''Saved By the Bell,'' and your mail

WHAT THE 'L'? What happened to Helena, Shane, and Alice previously on Word ? So much, apparently, that it feels like there's barely enough time…
Image credit: Paul Michaud
WHAT THE 'L'? What happened to Helena, Shane, and Alice previously on Word? So much, apparently, that it feels like there's barely enough time for this week's episode, says the Glutton

Dalton's new obsession: ''Heroes''' future

Previously on...The Glutton, Dalton campaigns for a 19-time Oscar loser, reveals himself to be a sci-fi dork, and admits to going to rock concerts all by himself. And now, this week on...The Glutton.

I became fascinated by the ''Previously on...'' montages that precede episodes as part of my love-to-hate relationship with The L Word. Now, I don't have a stopwatch, but I'd venture to guess that approximately half of each hour-long L Word episode is a rehash. When you keep up on a show, these things are a colossal waste of time, but how good are these recaps at drawing in new fans? To find out, I decided to test-drive a few on programs that I had always purposely avoided.

Previously on...Ghost Whisperer
The ''Previously on...'' for Ghost Whisperer begins exactly how one would expect: with an unapologetic shot of Jennifer Love Hewitt's mind-numbing cleavage. (Unfortunately, gratuitous cleavage shot No. 2 is covered by a poorly timed ''available in HD'' banner, although I have no doubt whatsoever that HD and Jennifer Love Hewitt's ample bosoms go beautifully together.) There's something about a rival ghost whisperer, but in between J. Love's twins and the appearance of Jay Mohr (he still works?), I am far too distracted to follow it. I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter. B+

Previously on...America's Next Top Model
Last time I checked in on this show a few years back, some crazy woman was yelling, ''Bitch poured beer on my weave!'' so I had high hopes for this ''Previously on...'' Instead, all I got were fashionistas slinging slogans like ''That's easy, breezy, beautiful'' on the streets of Sydney. Where are all the divas? The catfights? The unfounded accusations of bulimia? These models seem way too adjusted for my taste. C-

Previously on...Grey's Anatomy
I always wrote off this show as a sex-obsessed soap masking itself as a serious medical drama. Let's see if the ''Previously on...'' can prove me wrong. Hmmm...well, here are two doctors (I think one is McDreamy, or McSteamy, or McSomething-Or-Other) ripping off their lab coats while getting it on in a hospital. That's followed by one of the other McStuds half-naked in bed with a woman, which is followed by Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight sucking face in their bed. Finally, we come full circle with McSomething-Or-Other blowing off some chick he just slept with, informing her, ''You're not my girlfriend.'' Obviously, I was mistaken. This is a very serious medical drama. C+

Previously on...The Unit
This recap revolves around a guy giving a bracelet to his married girlfriend. Eventually the bracelet gets back to the husband, who must be a badass because he wears a Triumph T-shirt and beats the snot out of some bikers. Just one question: Isn't this supposed to be, like, a military show? Shouldn't someone be rocking a little camouflage? Can I get a little ''Sir, yes, sir!'' at the very least? Even on Grey's Anatomy they bother to slip on a uniform once in a while. B-

Previously on...One Tree Hill
Oh my God, One Tree Hill is the best show ever! At least judging from this 40-second clip. First, some blond girl tackles a brunette down on the ground while yelling, ''You made fun of my mom's death!'' (I don't really get that, but I don't care.) But wait, she's not done. Then blondie tells her, ''She's dead, and as far as I'm concerned, so are you.'' (Excellent!) And then she goes and punches her in the face at a party. (More excellent!) Chad Michael Murray eventually shows up to do some seriously awesome brooding, and finally, a preppy guy who looks like Chad Michael Murray but is not Chad Michael Murray smiles and punches the blond girl in the face. And...scene. Where has this show been all my life? Utterly spectacular! A+++

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
I'm not saying this because Heroes was just on the cover of EW, but the NBC drama has been nothing short of terrific these past few weeks. So why aren't people watching? The ratings have been steadily dropping since the show came back from a mini-hiatus in April. It's pretty inexplicable, especially since unlike some mythology-based dramas, this one actually gives you answers. Of course, those answers may lead to more questions, but at least if you watch, you'll get a sense of closure from time to time. The show has also taken risks, and those risks have paid off. A recent ''possible future'' episode could have been — in fact, probably should have been — a jump-the-shark moment of epic proportions. But somehow, it worked. I mean, really worked. And it set the table for the final run of episodes. But perhaps even more paramount than how the show ends this season is how it begins the next. Red-hot dramas like Lost and Desperate Housewives have had trouble maintaining both their quality and quantity of viewers after big first seasons. Will Heroes be able to avoid a sophomore slump? Will it be able to regenerate as successfully as its famous cheerleader? Who knows, but for now, let's just enjoy what we have, and hope that the season finale will offer not only a satisfying ending, but a bold new beginning as well. And if you're not watching, well, your loss.

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