Monday, January 08, 2007

The L Word season 4 premieres--Ladies, start your washing machines!

Last week, I wondered whether the season 4 opening episode of The L Word would be as confusing and ridiculous as the season 3 opener was. It wasn't. There was no great, unexplained passage of time, no extreme change of personality, no blatant contradiction between character and behavior.

I did have trouble hearing some of the lines, though, and since my hearing is good, I have to wonder what was going on. I suspect some of the lines were mumbled, especially by Shane, who spent the entire episode loaded and wandering around looking like she was five minutes from death. This is the second time The L Word has given us an episode in which Shane consumes massive amounts of mind-altering substances and wanders the streets. Shane's ex, Cherie (played wonderfully by Rosanna Arquette) is now more or less her keeper, since Shane is presumably heartbroken over her split from Carmen and no longer in love with Cherie.

Meanwhile, we found Helena so delirious over being cut off from the family's millions that she had to stop and think whether she could actually survive very long if she sold her $300,000 car. Jenny told Max it was over; she has taken up with the woman she met at Shane's and Carmen's non-wedding. Max joined a trannie support group, Alice went on the hunt for a woman whose chart (as in "The Chart") constellation was bigger than Shane's, and Kit's decision to have an abortion turned very ugly when the clinic staff ambushed her with anti-choice speeches and literature.

All of these goings-on paled, however, next to the Bette/Tina storyline. It didn't take Tina long to track down Bette, who had run off with their baby because Tina's very new boyfriend decided he might want to marry Tina and adopt Angelica. As I wrote last week, any man (or woman) who would suggest such a thing is 1. extremely immature, and 2. narcissistic and heartless. Any woman with an ounce of sense and a desire for her child's best interests would have shown him the door immediately. But not Tina.

The soapy aspect of The L Word is the show's main aspect, and the stolen baby routine is a new low. Bette, of course, hired the same horrific attorney who represented Tina in the couple's first split, and she talked them into working it out rather than subject themselves to the vast publicity that would follow. Oh, publicite!

It wasn't a bad opener, as these things go. But the writers and producers have given us a strong message: The L Word is all soap now. If one episode delivers kidnapping, extreme substance abuse and abortion, we know what we are dealing with.

On the bright side, Marina returned, if only for one episode (maybe two?), and--compared with the craziness all around her--she actually appeared stable. I missed Marina. A show like The L Word needs at least one overly intense freak show who isn't Tina.

Next week, Bette starts a new job and encounters a character played by Cybil Shepherd, so at least there will be a storyline that doesn't involve drugs and kidnapping. Or at least, I hope so.

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