It's a testament to R. Kelly, perhaps the most wonderfully weird global R&B; legend we have working today, that his batshit crazy "Trapped In the Closet" music video project -- a pulpy, soap opera that involves, among other things, cheating, revenge, guns, cigars, little people, double crosses, drugs and pimps -- isn't even the first thing you think about when you hear his name. It's been five years since we've heard from Kelly's Sylvester and an ever-growing cast of deceitful characters, but Kellz and the "Closet" crew are back and ready to unveil the saga's latest chapter on IFC on November 23. Before jumping back in, we've gone ahead and prepared a handy A-Z guide to get you ready for Chapter 23.
An A to Z Guide to "Trapped in the Closet"
A is for Acting: Who knew Kelly had such chops? As Sylvester, he shows just how much mileage an actor can get out of a raised eyebrow, an incredulous double take and a long pull on a stogie. The fact that he wasn't offered a role on the "Dallas" reboot is a missed opportunity for the ages.
B is for Beretta: Always by Sylvester's side, it's the reason for, and the solution to, nearly every argument in the series. Kelly lets one go in the air to break up a fight between gay pastor Rufus and his cheating wife Cathy, because potentially killing someone in the apartment above was a risk that had to be taken.
C is for Cramp: When Sylvester's wife Gwen decides to distract him with some rougher-than-normal carnal knowledge, his leg locks up on him. Call us cynical, but we're pretty sure that the guy who wrote "Feelin' On Yo Booty" doesn't get cramped up after two bouncy minutes of cowgirl.
D is for Dixie's: The name of the club where little person Big Man dances. David Lynch was apparently an uncredited consultant.
E is for En Vogue: "Do I look like En Vogue?" Sylvester's brother-in-law Twan asks his homie on the phone. "Nigga, 'cause the way you got me holding' on!" Priceless!
F is for Flip Phones: Everybody rocks one. Jesus, 2007 was a long time ago.
G is for Greenscreen: It's not enough that any time someone's in a car it looks like an old episode of "Dragnet," but just wait for the helicopter in Chapter 15.
H is for Ho: Everyone gets called a ho at some point, men and women. Equal opportunity ho-callin'.
I is for "Ignition (Remix)": Which has literally nothing to do with this, but it's always good to remind people because it remains astounding.
J is for James: The cheating, quick-tempered cop (though everyone here could be described as "cheating" and "quick-tempered") played by The Wire's great Michael K. Williams. Still, "James comin'!" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
K is Kitschy: Which it is. But if you're only watching this for some ironic chuckles, you're doing yourself a serious disservice.
L is for Lucius: Pimp Lucius, that is. Played by R. Kelly himself, Lucius' story has yet to really take off, but from the couple of minutes he gets in Chapter 19, he's already cemented his status as one of the greatest pimps in screen history.
M is for Midget: Who goes by the name of Big Man, on account of his being "blessed." We should all be so lucky.
N is for Ninety: Which is roughly the number of cigars Kellz has gulped down so far.
O is for Over-The-Top: Which is part of this thing's charm, obviously, but by the time that old man Randolph -- played again by R. Kelly, looking like Fredrick Douglass in a MadTV sketch -- winds up in a closet spying on Rufus (don't ask), you can't help but feel a little exhausted. Maybe five years was long enough to wait for more.
P is for Philandering: No one keeps it in their pants. To which, thank God.
Q is for Quick Draw: It doesn't take much for someone to pull a pistol. For example, the sight of a half-eaten pie. Or a knock at the door. Or an arm-wrestling match.
R is for Rosie the Nosy Neighbor: Bringing a spatula to a gun fight, God bless her.
S if for Southern Accent: As narrator, the one Kelly does for James' wife Bridget is so wonderfully appalling, it should be trademarked.
T is for Twan: Played by the hunky Eric Lane, Twan is Sylvester's hot-headed, weed-loving brother-in-law, fresh out the pen. Just a guess here, but he probably works out.
U is for Under the Sink: Which is a totally fine place to hide, depending on how tall you are.
V is for Vibrate: It's a pretty useful setting on your phone! Had you used it in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess!
W is for Women: Neither Bridget or James seems to understand how their bodies work. She uses the old "It must be that time of the month" to distract James, only for him to reveal that she's three months pregnant a few minutes later.
X is for X-Rated: Sure, there's cursing and some mature situations, but hopefully these new installments take it to that next level. IFC's pretty cool with that stuff.
Y is for "You crazier than a fish with titties": "You crazier than a fish with titties." [Image by Mike Dominic]
Z is for Nothing, because give us a break already and tell us: What's in the package?!