As we've touted many times on Hollywood.com, thou shalt not judge a new series solely on its pilot, and in the case of GCB, we didn't. Its cartoonish antics can be a bit much at times, but it had to stretch its legs a bit before we can tell what it was really made of. And now that we've seen 10 episodes of ABC's new saucy drama, GCB, judgement day is upon these Good Christian Bs. And it's a good thing ABC's Desperate Housewives is moving on out, because this town ain't big enough for the two of them.
GCB seems to have ripped about 15 pages from the Desperate Housewives playbook. Unfortunately, they took them from the tamer part of that book. Granted, Desperate Housewives has had seasons to work up to its truly ridiculous plotlines, and perhaps the reason GCB's slow trot into the Housewife-y territory isn't shocking us is because we've already been primed to expect it. We know the signs and we see absolutely everything coming from a mile away.
The first season finale finds Amanda, Carlene, and company taking a little "vacation" in Juarez, where Ripp is insisting that Carlene build her shiny palace of a "Christian Living" community. At the last second, Amanda is dragged into the situation because she visits her boyfriend, Luke, in Austin, only to find out he's actually down in good ol' Juarez. And just like that, the gang's all here and Amanda's primed and ready for some bad behavior. It's the perfect (totally expected) setup for a GCB season finale.
Next on the tour of the little town in Mexico is a stop at Ripp's house, where Amanda has tracked Luke. Instead, she finds Ripp putting his arms around a young Mexican beauty. Like clockwork, Amanda assumes Ripp is having an affair, but we know something's up because Ripp's not kissing the little lady and he's speaking with an alarming lack of detail. Plus, Luke's a super swell guy, so we know there's more to the story.
The ladies head out in a limo to Carlene's building site, where all that's been erected so far is a giant picture of Carlene's face. No one is surprised when the ladies are driven away from the site in their limo to find they're being kidnapped (due in great part to the fact that the episode started with a flash-forward to this moment for some reason). We would have been surprised to see that guest star Sandra Bernhard was the ladies' kidnapper, if we hadn't been prepared with that the entire week leading up to the episode. Sandra, queen of the desert, just wants Carlene to sign the land for the Christian complex over, and thanks to the other ladies outing her for not signing the deed yet, it's quickly relinquished to the captor and the ladies roam free into the desert.
To make matters more madcap, the only sustenance on any of their persons is tequila, which is like television liquid gold for this set. It forces Cricket and Sharon to get their rivalry out in the open, Heather to admit how badly she needs a boyfriend (Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Ack!), Amanda to fall off her sober wagon and drink that tequila like mother's milk, and finally, it makes it very easy for Amanda and Gigi to spill the beans about Ripp's little side dish. In a move that would make MacGuyver proud, Gigi throws her giant hairspray canister at Carlene's giant cardboard face, shoots with her tiny hand gun, and sets the sign ablaze so that Zack and Pastor John can find them and rescue them in time for Carlene to go marching into Ripp's little hacienda in Juarez.
Of course, as I mentioned, Ripp wasn't caressing or kissing this hot young thing, so the (ooh, shocker) truth that Lucia isn't Ripp's mistress, but his secret daughter comes to us just as we expected. This leaves Amanda time to tell Luke she's had too many untrustworthy men in her life (this is the part where they steal pages from the Susan/Mike Delfino storybook on Desperate Housewives), keep careening offer that wagon by stumbling to the nearest saloon, wave her troubles around the bar like a white flag, and seek comfort in the nearest good man she can find: Pastor John. She plants a wet one on the holy man and boom: That's our cliffhanger. Really? Really.
It's just a little to reminiscent of the story we followed when we first signed on for DH, minus the intrigue of a murder to lend the story a little weight. The reason DH worked so well is that while Susan was being locked out of her house naked and Gabby was having illicit sex with her teenage gardener, there was a darker, more sinister side to all the ballooning, colorful antics. It helped to keep the ridiculousness from flying up to the stratosphere and out of our range of acceptability. In the case of GCB, however, every dark shadow turns out to be a trick of the light, and suddenly everything's just wacky and sexy again. It's all fun and games, but like a well-inflated balloon, it's far to easy to let go of.
Did you watch the season finale? Will you be back next season?
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