We’ve replaced our regular recapper of High School Musical: Get in the Picture with a stand-in. Let’s see if the people at home notice…

So I’m subbing for Liz who’s on a glorious vacation and I need to be clear up front: I’ve seen exactly 5 minutes of this show before today. But I promise to not let my newbie status be intrusive in any way.

The kids assemble in the classroom after a fairly stressful time last week. Bailey laments being sent to the chorus and Stan is sad to see Shayna go since they "have a connection." She whispers conspiratorially to him that she’s doubly upset with being booted since that’s what Anthony wanted. As the five minutes of HSMGITP I’ve seen included when she was talking smack about Anthony to Isaiah in the previous episode, I’d call that karma.

Nick Lachey rolls in and asks how everyone’s getting along. Anthony says he’s learned to not take things so personally which sits well with Shayna. Now she won’t have to worry about things being awkward in the chorus. This week’s challenge involves making first impressions. Chris Prinzo tells the remaining eligible contestants that they’ll be interviewing for three jobs and utilize what they’ve learned up to this point. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have them do cold reading auditions or something? Anyhoo, they’re introduced to Andy who is a singing telegram dude, Valerie, a professional clown (ARGH!!!), and Randy a preeminent sign-spinner. This is gonna hurt, isn’t it?

The first job interview is with Valerie the Clown at a kids’ party. Nobody does well with those little monsters. On to the next interview with Andy the Singing Telegram Dude. He has them dress in costumes (a gorilla suit, a chicken, a muu muu, a penguin, a pirate and a banana). After being terrorized at the children’s party, all the contestants have a lot of fun with this, and even make Andy laugh. Stan, dressed like a chicken, does some themed quasi-beat boxing. Awesome. Last up, Randy with the sign spinning. It’s way hard and Randy reminds them that there should be no "spinjuries" – he should trademark that. Let it be known that they all kind of sucked at it.

Andy’s winner is Stan the Chicken Man, Valerie chooses Isaiah, and Randy gives the nod to Stan, once again. James, who dressed like a banana, is a little bummed since he feels he embodied "the soul" of the fruit and finds it hard to swallow that he got beat by a chicken. A giant chicken!

Meanwhile in the chorus, Rob Adler has all the kids doing some crazy breathing exercise for 45 minutes. Bailey, who was smushy faced about being there, relaxed since they were having so much fun.

We’ve now come to the most uncomfortable portion of the program, the high school gossip/reality show part. Bailey and Tierney scamper off from the group in the library to have a talk. Tierney finds it fascinating that Shayna’s always hugging up on Stan despite having a boyfriend. Shortly after, the non-romantic duo gets called out by the group. Her repeated claims that Stan the Chicken Man is just being a good friend and that she has a boyfriend really doesn’t fly. Cut to Shayna’s teary phone call to her true love Colin. Oh, I could vomit. They’re all shmoopy and BLEH.

The next day, they reconvene in the classroom and Nick pops up again to pass out song assignments. But first, a surprise guest comes by to wish them luck. It’s Zac Efron. Bailey is freaking out and the boys are a little star struck too. "I felt like a girl," says Stan the Chicken Man. Zac hugs all the girls and Isaiah is in awe. He wants to grow up to be just like him. They pick his brain a bit and he’s surprisingly insightful.

After Zac leaves, Nick announces that the chorus will be performing with them. They’re tasked with singing TV theme songs for shows these kids have pretty much never heard of but I remember watching. Which makes me feel old even though I’m not. Ah, the burden of being a child of the 80’s. The themes are from One Day at A Time, Mary Tyler Moore, The Greatest American Hero, and Cheers. James is the only one who’s vaguely familiar with this stuff, which is good for him since he has a lead part. No one knows the songs. So sad. So very, very sad. The concept is that James is a security guard at a television museum and everyone else is a wax figure who comes to life.

Tiana and Montre give the kids notes on things they can work on. Isaiah needs to work on his control, Christina gets lost vocally sometimes, James has to tap down his over-gesturing, TJ needs to step up and be able to lead, Tierney is advised to come out of her shell, and Stan the Chicken Man must become more comfortable with dancing. Christina is stoked to get feedback but, after Tiana and Motre leave, Tierney voices her frustration with constantly being told to to be more outgoing.

Chorus rehearsal isn’t going so well. The blending and, well, the notes just aren’t coming. Shayna confessionals that she doesn’t think Christie gets the concept of blending and not sticking out. Ironic, no? And I can’t help but wonder how many of those hair flowers Christie has…

It’s performance time! Ether starts it out a la Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone before James comes out singing. All the songs are modified and updated, which is good because it would be awkward otherwise. The Mary Tyler Moore theme is first, with James solo. Next it’s The Greatest American Hero and each of the remaining six sing a line as they "come to life." The One day at A Time has this quasi-Latin/Cumbia beat to it and, after a dancing refrain of Mary Tyler Moore, they end with Cheers. Tierney started out a little low energy but picked it up at the end, Stan the Chicken Man was great vocally, but James really took advantage of his lead role. I’m not sure how I feel about Christina – she was dressed like Wednesday Adams so that would explain her low-key approach to the part. Her singing was solid and she did good "mannequin" work. Just…I could go either way with her.

Nick comes back after some time to announce the results. The performer who most exemplified the First Impression lesson is…Christina. Huh. Fair enough. She gets to read the rest of the list. Isaiah is the first to be relieved, next Tierney, then Stan leaving TJ and James to head to the chorus. But wait! Nick lets them know that only one will be going this week. TJ and James wish each other luck quietly and some tense moments pass before Christina reads off James’ name.

Aw. TJ confessionals that everyone seemed to have taken it harder than him. But he’s okay with it. Just because he didn’t get the lead doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a place in the show. Double aw. I want to give him a squeeze.

Would you have sent someone other than TJ to the chorus? Are you sick of the Shayna/Stan the Chicken Man shenanigans? And other thoughts about tonight’s episode?

Posted by:Tamara Brooks