And so what we've waited for (or haven't at all) has finally come. A new half-season of MTV's The Hills premiered tonight with a glittery, snowy, Parisian... clunk. Yeah. It was pretty boring. Lauren and Whitney, two dim (and lucky) explorers of a wondrous corner of Europe, enjoyed Paris like typical affected Los Angeles youngsters. They were late and unprepared, wooed by strange Frenchmen who took them to unexotic locales like an American-style nightclub and (sacre bleu!) the Eiffel Tower. There was some intrigue about uncollected shoes (they were late because of gowns!), some burnt dresses (because of the iron!), and oddly coiffed French socialites; but nothing thrilled.

The episode was slow and derivative; even having the (sorta fun) nerve to play MC Solaar's French rap (ha) "La Belle et le Bad Boy," which featured prominently in the Paris-set Sex and the City finale. The Hills, which has always attempted to be the West Coast reality version of HBO's definitive ladies' bible (but younger! fresher!), didn't really get any excitement out of Paris the way SATC did. Most of what we saw of the city was seen from the window of a Mercedes or tainted by the presence of annoying French versions of Justin Bobby.

And speaking of annoying, Heidi and Spencer, (in what was essentially the premiere of a second, separate series) found themselves in the scenic, wintry wilds of Crested Butte, CO (Heidi's hometown). Heidi's crested buttes were as waxen as usual (along with her increasingly alien face) while her parents, in a coup de grace of producer indoctrination, seemed just as slyly aware of the cameras as the two crazy kids, who continued to falsely argue over a false relationship. Their story ended with a teary, frigid sort-of break up, with Heidi asking Spence to move out of the condo. Heidi said she just wasn't ready for the engagement, or for anything really. She just needed time. "Needing 'time' means it's over," my sister (wise and very into this) loudly intoned. Though my sister and the rest of us all know that they get back together anyway. After all, they were photographed not two days ago, happily dragging Heidi's niece through an Easter egg hunt. So what was the point of watching all this?


The whole thing, all carefully constructed Lauren pratfalls and inarticulate Prattag gobbledygook, felt like a foregone conclusion. We can now watch the show and shriek "I knew it!!!!"; not because we augured the future from the vodka-soaked tea leaves of last season, but because the plotlines have been splashed across gossip magazines for months. The Hills has shown its hand way too many times and gotten a bit old in the process. We all knew that Audrina's phone call about Brody having a new girlfriend was coming, and Lauren didn't even really try to seem surprised. I miss the freshness of the first season, when no one was famous enough to think they were above, you know, attempting to entertain us. And when we start pining for the golden days of The Hills, I worry that it's about time they shut it down.