<p>&nbsp;Adrian Pasdar of 'Heroes'</p>

 Adrian Pasdar of 'Heroes'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Heroes' - 'The Fifth Stage'

As Claire explores the carnival for herself, Peter makes a last-ditch effort to separate Nathan from Sylar.

 In viewing “The Fifth Stage,” the last episode of “Heroes” until 2010, I thought of the five stages of grief to which the title alludes. Because let’s be honest here: the majority of this show’s fans are in one of those five stages. If the show we loved died in Kirby Plaza in the Season 1’s “How to Stop an Exploding Man,” then those of us that have soldiered through since must be somewhere on the Kübler-Ross model. 

Now that we’re at the nominal halfway point of “Redemption,” it’s high time to take a look at the volume as a whole, using those five stages of grief as a way to look at the ups and downs of the volume so far. 

[Recap of Monday's (Nov. 30) "Heroes" after the break...]

Denial 

Look, at least we’re not dealing with another omen of future doom and gloom, right? In the past, we’ve had Isaac’s paintings, Hiro’s time travels, and Parkman’s spirit walks to give us a glimpse into a future that needed to be avoided. This time around, we simply have a charismatic madman trying to carve out a niche for an oppressed minority. Sure, he emotionally manipulates people into doing his bidding and occasionally manipulates plate tectonics into doing his bidding, but hey, haven’t we all been there? 

But this volume has presented us with another, more damning form of denial: the denial of a consistent set of characters presented on a weekly basis. The sprawling cast of “Heroes” is so immense that it can’t possibly fit them all into a 40+-minute episode on a regular basis. The montage that played over Samuel’s final speech reminded us all of how many characters were offscreen this week, last week, and maybe even the week before it. The accumulation of characters has bloated the show’s purpose, leaving Samuel and Sylar to essentially dominate screen time with other fight for a chance to be part of the story. 

Anger 

Don Henley once wrote, “The more I know, the less I understand.” And that sort of applies to my view on Samuel: the more we know about his backstory, the less anything he does makes sense. Had he consolidated power over a matter of years in the wake of Joseph’s death, maybe the strength of his position and the sway he holds over the carnival would make sense. But instead, we’ve learned that he’s gone from Johnny Rotten to King of the Hill in roughly eight weeks. Why he would want to be head of the carnival makes sense, given his lust for power. But why the other carnies fall in line so willingly makes less sense. 

All this brings me to the true anger of this week: watching the smart, funny, capable Claire Bennet of “Redemption” get flushed down the toilet as Samuel brings her into the fold. Her friend Gretchen essentially stood in as audience proxy this week, asking all the type of questions we at home were asking ourselves. Of course, she didn’t deliver those lines at the top of her lungs while lacing them with obscenities, so maybe she and I deviated in that respect. But trying to square this Claire with the one that casually distracted Samuel in her dorm room to buy time for Noah’s return just didn’t fly for me. 

Essentially, Claire needed to join the carnival to ramp up the show’s dramatic tension, introduce a new mystery (who is she supposed to lure in?), and give Noah a focus for his investigation into the carnival. But when I describe these elements, I am consciously aware of the plot creaking away onscreen. These are not organic character choices that lead to interesting situations. The tension between Claire and Noah only erupts when the show needs it to do so. Putting her into the carnival serves to increase Samuel’s power, but doesn’t help Claire’s character. In fact, it does her a disservice. Watching her smile at her new savior while the image of the dead ex-minor league ballplayer lingers in our brain puts her on the level of Mohinder in terms of stupidity. 

Bargaining 

Lydia makes a bargain with Samuel this week: while she knows that he committed fratricide, she’s keeping her mouth shut in order to protect her daughter. Granted, you really only know anything about her daughter if you watched those Sprint commercials. Which I don’t. So, all that worry and fear from “Thansksgiving”? Yea, don’t worry about it. Just like you shouldn’t worry about Claire’s personality transplant this week. 

Here’s the bargain “Heroes” wants to make with you: it wants us to all be Haitain’ed. In short, we’re Lauren Gilmore: forget about what went on last week (or at Primatech), let’s forge ahead boldly into the future and maybe good things will happen. But as “Heroes” constantly notes, the truth (and/or memory) will out. Lauren’s can-do attitude is both commendable and actually downright charming upon realizing Noah’s need to find Claire, but it also served as the prelude to the sucker punch. Just like Lauren, we’re unable to ever forget what’s come before, even if we want to do so. 

In Peter’s case, bargaining comes at the price of absorbing the Haitian’s powers, which consist of mind wiping, power dampening, and power tool expertise. (OK, fine, YOU explain the nail gun skillz.) He convinces Sylar to cede control of his body lest the whole situation turn into “The Last Temptation of Gabriel Gray.” Taking the Home Depot approach to family reunions works temporarily. But Nathan’s memories can’t forget his body in the storage unit. 

Depression 

So, Adrian Pasdar’s death: let’s discuss! I separate scene from story. The latter was always covered in a heaping helping of weak sauce, yet another example of the show refusing to truly kill off its main characters. Had Nathan’s initial death stuck, it would have served as an abrupt and shocking moment, and potentially signaled a new direction for the show. Instead, it took the show eleven episodes to undo this terrible decision. 

As such, we as an audience were compelled to take the same point of view as the Petrellis in terms of dealing with Nathan-in-Sylar: should we mourn the loss of what is essentially a biological hard drive? Nathan’s memories seem better equipped to deal with the dissonance better than either of his living relatives, with Angela and Peter anxious to take the facsimile in lieu of the real thing. (So, I’m guessing they are pro-cloning, the Petrellis.) 

The question then becomes: did this story present wish fulfillment within the world of the show? In other words: “Heroes” strives to place extraordinary abilities into everyday people in order to see what might happen. Perhaps this storyline was the “Heroes” version of the Dollhouse episode, “Haunted,” in which a woman downloaded herself after death into Echo’s body in order to solve her own murder. The ability to commune with the dead is undoubtedly powerful, and not one I easily dismiss. What I am trying to work through here is if Nathan’s “death” this week was actually powerful. And I think it was more powerful for Peter, having only come to acceptance at the place the two first used their powers, than for the audience. While Peter cried tears of sorrow as Sylar walked away, finally free from psychological contamination, we at home cried tears of joy, finally free from this storyline. 

Acceptance 

With Sylar finally free to be Sylar, perhaps at last his storyline can intersect with Samuel’s in a meaningful way. Sure, there was the brief dalliance between the two earlier, but that was a muted, impotent version of the character. Samuel’s final speech asserts that it’s time to gather more people with abilities to the camp, which I thought he’d been doing all season anyways. (Was he Haitian’ed as well?) But Sylar won’t stand another superpowered alpha dog on the scene, so look for them to start a collision course come January. 

The show luckily already has a way by which to get every disparate character pointed in the right direction: the compass. In Season 1, they were all pulled by destiny towards New York City, guided by an unseen hand towards a mutual meeting place. While Samuel has dominated screen time, he hasn’t necessarily dominated the minds of the majority of the show’s characters. If Samuel kicks the speed of his plot come 2010, look for a lot more compasses to end up in the hands of familiar faces. Hopefully, in tying the characters more closely to the show’s Big Bad, they will find a more organic way to find screen time for its major players, show them working in unison, and then have the type of epic battle a show full of superheroes should have. 

Oh wait, I’ve circled all the way back around again to denial, haven’t I? Rats. 

“Heroes” comes back January 4, 2010. Will you? 

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<p>&nbsp;Brian and Ericka of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

 Brian and Ericka of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' -- 'It Starts with an 'F,' That's All I'm Saying'

A frustrating Roadblock leads one Top Four team to a difficult decision

On the Sunday Nov. 29th episode of “The Amazing Race,” one team stopped racing and instead started playing the game. 

Before tonight’s episode of “The Amazing Race,” where a team had a Speed Bump that I thought would be erased by bunching within the first ten minutes, I expected to be writing thoughts on how annoying I found the manipulation of the race in terms of controlling competition. 

However, through a strange and unthinkable series of circumstances, I am instead writing about how one of the racers was so convinced of this sort of producer intervention that they risked the entire race on being able to predict their next move. 

They bet zig, the race zagged, and the final three was set in stone after only thirty five minutes of a frustrating, if fascinating, hour of television. 

[Recap of Sunday's "The Amazing Race" after the break...] 

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<p>Quinn in &quot;Glee&quot; episode &quot;Hairography&quot;</p>

Quinn in "Glee" episode "Hairography"

Glee musical recap: McKinley meets its rivals in 'Hairography'

Watch the full episode: Eve special guests on this distraction

The theme of “Glee” last night was “Distraction,” which is an apt term for the kind of episode it was in the larger arc of the show, and in this busy holiday week. Unlike weeks previous, not too terribly much happened, although the cast was taught a valuable lesson in “Hairography” – the title of the episode.

“Hairography” is described as an act of smoke and mirrors, the constant tossing of one’s hair to distract from the fact one’s not that talented. The Glee club was subjected to its first instance of this when a rival singing club from an all-girl urban (read: largely black, and headed by special guest Eve!) high school comes to borrow McKinley’s practice space. The move got the crew thinking about outrageous choreography and provided the tv-watching audience a veritable cornucopia of ideas on how to cut up a t-shirt.

So McKinley adopts wigs and a ridiculous medley as they “scrimmage” against another high school, a school for the deaf, which provided a few early laughs from the hearing impaired. Unimpressed by the hairography, the students from the deaf school put Glee in its place with a sign-language performance.

Due to a lack of Sue last episode, the Cheerios coach comes back in full-force, with Schuester confronting the Suester when he suspects she’s slipping other area schools Glee’s playlist for sectionals.

Meanwhile, in Dateland, Quinn commissions Kurt to distract Finn for some dubious reason – something about nurturing feelings for Puck – and Kurt does a makeover on Rachel. In this exchange, the latter reveals to her gay cohort that she has a crush on Finn, causing Kurt to switch from fashion intern to sabotage mode. He whips Rachel up into a hussy, with a costume change that includes Olivia Newton-John’s getup from the final scene in “Grease,” complete with teased hair and arching her back on various piece of furniture. Finn “really likes” Rachel, but is non-plussed and leaves her house after she had invited him over.

Kurt, in turn, ultimately reveals his crush on Finn to Rachel; the two commiserate, lamenting that Rachel will always play second fiddle to Quinn and Kurt plays a different instrument altogether.

Quinn invites Puck to help her take care of a triplet of ginger-haired demons, sons of Will’s wife’s equally evil sister Kendra, a task that the pair actually tackles, with gusto, impressing Terri and Kendra. Quinn starts falling for Puck again, up until its revealed that the mohawked womanizer was “sexting” with another girl all the while. (Thus, providing another reason to keep that sexting phenom good and fresh in the headlines. Thanks, too, Carrie Prejean.) She flies back into the arms of Finn and overall has one of the most vulnerable, un-Quinn-like episodes. She doesn’t even give her typical death-to-you-smirk!

Quinn also wavers on giving up her baby daughter to Terri, who is still definitely unpregnant. Terri, to distract from this fact, issues another distraction, buying him a muscle car of sentimental value to fix up. There’s a good Bruce Springsteen reference, though no delivery of a song from the Boss (perhaps the line “Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims/And strap your hands across my engines” from “Born to Run” would be a fine theme for the sex-deprived teacher).

Props to Kurt who says Rachel dresses like "Grandmother and a toddler at the same time" and to Puck who admits to standing outside of the 7-11 "looking depressed until somebody buys me beer." Cheerio dimwit Britney gives the hair-tossing 101 -- on projecting "cool epilepsy" -- which might be said of another famous Britney. "Give it up to me," a line by Puck to Quinn, could be a reference to either the new Shakira song or the Sean Paul track. We know which one he more resembles.

Oh, hey! Check out the Glee holiday track "Last Christmas!"

"Bootylicious"

The all-girls school simulates a little sex (Adam Lambert, are you watching?) during this Destiny's Child cover, recorded for 2001's "Survivor." Fun fact: Kelly Rowland led this song, not Beyonce. The song "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks is sampled in this track, enhancing the underage theme that dominated last week's ep.

"Papa Don't Preach"

Hey! Madonna! About time. This sultry number was actually used to sooth the savage beasts (Kendra's children) by Quinn and Puck, and, lyrically, was an appropriate one for the pregnant teen: it contains the perspective of young girl, with-child, debating whether she's keeping her child. 

Madge actually devoted the song to the pop back in the '80s, which was all part of her long series of miffing the Vatican on various sex-related issues.

"Crazy in Love"

Hey! More Beyonce! This medley also boasted bits and pieces of "Hair" (the musical, silly), which naturally had to be incorporated in this ep, considering the "Hairography" theme. This provides little more than a vehicle for Mercedes and Artie to sing together, and for awful, awful wigs to abound; the deaf school was right to mock them.

"Crazy in Love" was a huge hit in 2003, when Jay-Z and B performed together prior to getting married. Artie, for the record, does not make a very good Jay-Z.

"Imagine"

Gonna be honest here: I wasn't looking forward to this Glee remake of the 1971 John Lennon classic, as the original doesn't leave much to be enhanced upon. The anti-war message of its first incarnation given a spotlight, as the school for the deaf presented it as a speaking- and sign-language-only performance. Mercedes, naturally, jumps in and it becomes a general theme for unity.

"True Colors"

After McKinley abandons their hairographic ways, they stay seated for this Cyndi Lauper driver, in stools and dressed in multi-colored shirts. They resemble the Burger King Kids Club. Tina takes lead and caps off the show with a milquetoast performance -- in that it was too perfect. Lauper's voice in the original was a bit wild in the song, the title track for her 1986 album. It was one of the few tracks Lauper didn't write herself -- it was originally penned by Billy Steinberg, about his mother.

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<p>&nbsp;Ellenore of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

 Ellenore of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week 5 - Eliminations

Even killer solos can’t save one dancer from a lousy hip-hop

Ah yes, my dysfunctional relationship with “SYTYCD” continues. I know in my heart that Mollee and Nathan aren’t going home tonight, that two dancers who don’t suck anywhere near as much will, but still I watch. All FOX needs to do to cap this off is take me out to dinner, stick me with the bill and hotwire my car before abandoning me in a rough part of town with twenty-five cents in pennies and some valuable electronics. I’m warning you, FOX, I just may break it off and you will miss me when I’m gone! And don’t think I won’t get a restraining order, you jerk!

[Full recap of Wednesday (Nov. 25) night's "So You Think You Can Dance," complete with results, after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Ashleigh of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

 Ashleigh of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week 5 - Top 12 Performances

The bar is raised with the best dancing of the season -- but what's up with that can-can?

 

I am starting to hate “SYTYCD” a little. The pernicious presence of Mollee and Nathan for reasons that, I think, have everything to do with ratings and not a whole hella lot to do with competence, just depresses the hell out of me. It’s the kind of fix you expect to see in the workplace or in college, but must I now lose faith in merit-based reality television competitions? The next thing you know someone will tell me Andre Agassi’s hair wasn’t real or Adam Lambert is gay. Really, it’s just too much to bear.
 
In any case, let’s just cut right to the dancing. Cat’s dress is perfectly respectable and not the least bit tableclothy, our judges are back with no sign of Paula Abdul and really, we’ve got a lot of dancing to squeeze into two hours, so there’s no time to waste.
 
Ryan and Ellenore
Style: Lindy Hop
Choreographer: Carla Heiney
 
So, this week’s time waster focuses on the dancers, who will be picking partners out of a hat next week, explaining what they’ll miss about their current partners. Ellenore will miss being with Ryan because he’s a perfectionist. Ryan is going to miss her quirky personality. Aww, shucks. I’m really hoping someone says, “Good riddance! Glad to be rid of that talentless dead weight!” but, as Mollee and Nathan are dancing with one another, that isn’t likely to happen.
 
Oh ma God, are they dancing to an old Victrola record or what? This song is hateful. This routine is pretty adorable and so are Ryan and Ellenore, but in a few cases they seem out of step, which may cost them. Still, they’re certainly bringing the fun. Even if they’re dancing to The World’s Worst Dance Song Ever.
 
Lucky for them, the judges don’t seem to mind that they screwed up a little. Adam thought they were cute as all get out, which they were. Apparently Ryan hurt his back this week, so that made it all the more impressive. Mary thought it was tremendous and she’s thrilled the Lindy Hop is back on the show. Nigel thought it was terrible... that this was the first time the Lindy Hop was on this season. He thinks Ryan brought bounce. So, a big thumbs up from the judges.
 
 
Legacy and Kathryn
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Sonya Tayek
 
Legacy is going to miss Kathryn because she apparently taught him how to stretch, which is quite a useful skill to have, really. Especially if you’re a DANCER. Jeez, Legacy, didn’t you take P.E. as a kid or anything? Kathryn will miss Legacy’s insistence on getting into character. Which makes me wonder if he dragged her around by her hair while shouting “I’m an admiral, dammit!” for the paso doble, but I guess not.
 
When this competition started out, I thought Kathryn and Legacy were doomed. But ever since that paso doble, they’ve been one of the teams to beat and they seemingly no longer have money in the budget to give Legacy a shirt. But hey, if his abs keep them in the competition, so be it. Hats off to Sonya for giving Legacy a few hip-hop moments in this, because it only serves to remind us that, oh yeah, he’s not classically trained and yet he’s still kicking ass. And Kathryn showed some fire and personality, so I guess I have to chalk up that one wooden doll performance a few weeks back to nerves.
 
Adam thinks they could go all the way to the end if they keep dancing like this. Mary was blown away by the crab walks, to which I say hell, yeah. Nigel thought Kathryn was super sexy and it might be his favorite routine of the season.
 
 
Karen and Victor
Style: Tango
Choreographers: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
 
Well, these two are working together for the first time, so they can’t exactly reminisce. Victor hopes Karen can drag him onto the hot tamale train, while Karen likes the fact she can speak Spanish to Victor. Hey, they didn’t have a lot to go on.
 
Okay, the black costumes are cool, but it makes it hard to see these guys against a black backdrop. But I will say, this is hot... if you only watch Karen. Victor looks good until you see his expression and for the first half of the routine, I swear he was counting in his head. But I think he’ll benefit from the fact that no one usually looks at whoever Karen’s dancing with anyway.
 
Adam likes this partnership. He thought the chemistry was hot, which says to me he wasn’t watching Victor. Mary thought Victor’s lines were great, but she puts Karen on the hot tamale train by herself. Nigel tells Victor he’s doing a Donald Duck swayback walk, but otherwise he was great. He tells Karen she’s like Shakira and Madonna, in that you can’t take your eyes away from her, not that she sings like a howler monkey.
 
 
Mollee and Nathan
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Jamal Sims
 
Nathan will miss Mollee’s annoying giggle. Mollee is going to miss Nathan’s weird noises, even though they’re annoying. Pot, meet kettle. You’re a perfect couple.
 
Oh my, their dance is about Alexander Graham Bell creating the telephone. That sounds sucky, doesn’t it? And it is! Basically, we have another routine where Mollee and Nathan run around. Not dancing so much, but running around the stage to make us think they’re dancing. Unfortunately, they do start to dance at some point, and, while Nathan is considerably better at hip hop than Mollee, she’s so God awful I’m pretty sure she brings his performance down a peg just by being near her. She’s completely rigid – she doesn’t bust a move so much as bend it gently. Awful is too kind a word, really.
 
Weirdly, the judges saw a performance that didn’t suck half as much as the one I saw. I really think they fear giving them a slam because little tween groupies will find them and kill them in their sleep. Adam says he thought they really sold it, but he could see the stress on Mollee. Mary says it got better as it went along, but enjoyed it. Nigel thinks they’re really good dancers but will be happy to see them partnered with more mature dancers, as he thought it seemed like Dolly Dinkle’s regional hip hop class 101. Adam thinks the shake-up in their partnership will do them good. I agree, because I think it will send them home.
 
 
Russell and Noelle
Style: Samba
Choreographers: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
 
Noelle will miss Russell’s laid back personality. Russell will miss her hugging. They’re so nice and so sweet. Ergo, this samba is going to suck.
 
Noelle looks like she’s having a great time... on a Disney parade float. She looks elegant and refined, and the samba, not so elegant and refined. But jeez, she is wearing a sequined bikini. You can almost feel the waves of embarrassment. I half expected her to stop the show and wave at the camera, mouthing “Sorry, Mom! They made me wear this!” Russell, also being sweet and nice, is unfortunately well behaved as well. Too bad, because, really, they’re good dancers. And, you know, super duper nice.
 
Adam thinks it was, ahem, too nice. Mary agrees, adding that there wasn’t enough bounce and lowering of the knee, but she loved the performance level. Still, she was disappointed. Nigel needed more sex from Noelle and needed a little more forward lean on Russell’s samba roll. He pretty much says hey, you guys are going to be in the bottom three, sorry, and I can’t disagree with him.
 
 
Ashleigh and Jakob
Style: Lyrical jazz
Choreographers: Sonya Tayek
 
Ashleigh will miss her friendship with Jakob. Jakob says he’s going to miss her more than he can say. Okay, not the most interesting comments ever, but you can tell these two really like one another as friends, which is sort of touching.
 
In rehearsals, Ashleigh warns us that she’s fighting ever instinct in her body to be so loose and unstructured, but you know, she pulls it off. There are a few moments where you can see her struggle a little, but you’d never guess this girl is a ballroom dancer.
 
Adam says it was so beautiful he doesn’t know what to say. And Jakob should never wear those purple pants again. Mary is sad thinking they’ll be broken up next week. She tells Jakob he’s technically amazing and Ashleigh has grown so much she now expects great things from her. Nigel says he takes it back that Sonya’s other routine was his favorite, because this one now is. And he’s also really bummed thinking they’re going to be broken up. I’m sure Ashleigh’s husband loves to hear how great she is with another guy, even if he’s probably not on her team.
 
 
Ryan and Ellenore
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
 
Usually Broadway routines just seem odd and out of place on this show – without context, they don’t really wow. But this routine is pretty great and oh ma God, do Ryan and Ellenore sell it. This definitely plays to Ellenore’s inherent quirkiness and Ryan, who usually seems so milquetoast, gives surprisingly good menace. Man, if everyone keeps delivering like this, I have no idea who should go home. Oh, wait, Mollee and Nathan.
 
Anyway, Adam says it was true Broadway vocabulary and they nailed it. He says Ryan was great but Ellenore was a rock star. Mary thinks Ryan really dug in and delivered the lifts and that Mary is the It Girl. Nigel then asks Ellenore to teach Mary her alien language, which is not a good idea. At all. But he loved the routine and he loved them.
 
 
Legacy and Kathryn
Style: Viennese Waltz
Choreographers: Jean-Marc and France Généreux 
 
Okay, first off? This kind of blows most of the waltzes I’ve seen on this show out of the water. Beautiful routine that makes great use of the stage. And, you know, not boring, which is something. Unfortunately, there’s no disguising that Legacy, well, he ain’t no ballroom dancer. He’s kinda clunky and Clydesdale clompy, but Kathryn looks so good you can almost ignore him if you squint.
 
Adam notices Legacy is crying, and Legacy gives a little speech about hope and the little train that could or something like that. And then Adam gets weepy. Adam still gives him a knock for his footwork and his shoulders, but said Kathryn was great and he was impressed with the whole thing. Mary thinks they’ll both be okay, even though Legacy’s feet were smacking around the stage. Nigel says it’s impossible to be mean because he’s stolen the hearts of the judges, so he’s turning a blind eye to all the stuff he screwed up. But Kathryn was gorgeous. Still, he’s not sure they’ll be safe tomorrow night.
 
 
Karen and Viktor
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Laurieann Gibson
 
Okay, Viktor might be going home. This is some stinky hip-hop. Karen, as usual, is pretty fierce and has the right attitude, but Viktor is all floppy arms and pointed toes. Plus, they’re out of synch. This is baaaaaad. Like, Mollee and Nathan bad.
 
Adam says there was a lot of commitment and intensity but it didn’t match the music. But he thought the dancing was great. Uh, okay. Mary thought it was okay, but not memorable. But she loved the tango they did. Nigel wishes they could have ended with the tango, since this didn’t work that well. Karen’s smile looks pasted on, and I think she might smother Viktor with his leather jacket backstage.
 
 
Mollee and Nathan
Style: Can-Can
Choreographer: Toasty Oreo
 
The can-can? What, Russian folk dancing wasn’t available? Toasty says the can-can began as a couples dance. Did it also begin at Disney, because these guys look like they’re supposed to be handing out croissants at the French pavilion of Epcot. I have to admit, this is a good routine for Mollee and Nathan because it’s not so much about dance as it is about endurance and gymnastics. Nathan does do some amazing spins, I will say, but it feels like the kids got thrown a bone on this one – a dance that required no sophistication or nuance, but lots of energy.
 
Yet again, it’s a big goopy lovefest from the judges. Adam thinks Mollee and Nathan were the right couple to get this routine, because they’re Energizer bunnies. He thought it was really good. Mary thought Mollee did great for someone with a bad ankle, and she loved Nathan’s turns. Nigel thought it had great energy. Everyone’s happy. Except me, I guess. Yay.
 
 
Noelle and Russell
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Toasty Oreo
 
What is it tonight with the bad song choices? This is an intense routine, and the music catches the poignancy of this couple but not the passion. But who cares? Noelle and Russell really nail this – I’ve been a little on the fence about these two, in that they haven’t risen to the top as one of my favorite couples, but this is a gorgeous dance and they both bring a range of emotions to it.. a palette of emotions, if you will. Because it’s about painting and, oh, never mind.
 
Adam thinks Toasty used his paints (dancers) beautifully, and thinks Noelle and Russell were gorgeous. He doesn’t think they’re going anywhere after that performance. Mary said it was very special for her and thought it flowed beautifully. Nigel thinks they’ve done something memorable. Then Cat tells them to clean up the mess they’ve made on the stage. Which they don’t have to, because there are always production assistants to torture.
 
 
Ashleigh and Jakob
Style: Cha-Cha
Choreographers: Jean-Marc and France Généreux 
 
Okay, they should have a lock on this, as Ashleigh is a ballroom dancer and Jakob can do anything. And they just breeze through this like the drive-thru at McDonald’s. This is just kick ass good. They have to go to the top ten. I know Ashleigh was weepy thinking about breaking away from Jakob, but honestly, I think I may be, too, because they’re just that good together.
 
Adam says this is Ashleigh’s world and we’re all just visiting, but Jakob made himself appear to be a ballroom dancer. Oh, and they killed it. AND they’re the couple of the night for him. Mary thinks they blew it out of the ballpark, which is a mixed metaphor, but I know what she means. She says Ashleigh shined and Jakob was sharp and really came through for her. Nigel says it was a really good cha-cha and they are waltzing through to the top ten.
 
 
So who will be in the bottom three? My guess is Karen and Viktor (though only Viktor screwed up), Mollee and Nathan and, maybe Noelle and Russell, which makes me a little sad. Even though I have every reason to believe that Mollee and Nathan won’t go home unless one of them snaps a femur, hope springs eternal. But yeah, I’m thinking buy-bye Victor and maybe Noelle. TV, like life, just isn’t fair.
 
Who do you think will be in the bottom three? Are you looking forward to hearing Shakira tomorrow or are you just sick of seeing her everywhere like I am? And do you think they should bring back the can-can? Or is it a can-can’t?
 

 

 

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<p>&nbsp;Morris Chestnut of 'V'</p>

 Morris Chestnut of 'V'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'V' - 'It's Only the Beginning'

The Visitors open their clinics, Tyler meets Lisa's mom and the Fifth Column grows

Paranoia's a common theme in science fiction, particularly government paranoia. There's a weird, hardcore libertarian faith in a lot of science fiction that insists individuals are better than collectives, that you can't trust the government or mega corporations (OK, that's not so libertarian) or charismatic leaders or anything, really. You can't even trust the futuristic technology that drives a lot of these stories. The only thing you can trust is yourself and maybe, occasionally, a few trusted friends and collaborators. Beyond that, they're out to get you, whether they're in league with the aliens or the robot menace or what-have-you. Even a fundamentally liberal treatise about the power of communities before all else like the "Battlestar Galactica" remake has a deeply conservative love for the military and all its traditions. For whatever reason, science fiction seems to have a fundamental conservative, distrustful streak. And despite my own political views, it's one of the things I like about the genre. Healthy skepticism is a good thing to have, and it's nice to have narratives where that skepticism is warranted.

[Full recap of Tuesday's (Nov. 24) "V" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;<span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Lucida Grande'; color: rgb(27, 27, 27); white-space: pre; ">Hayden Panettiere of 'Heroes'</span></p>

 Hayden Panettiere of 'Heroes'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Heroes' - 'Thanksgiving'

As the Bennetts and the Petrellis deal with tense holiday dinners, forces inside the carnival start to question Samuel's leadership.

“Heroes” often gets a bad rap for featuring a roster full of superpowered people that sit around and don’t actually use their incredible abilities. But tonight’s episode, “Thanksgiving,” was almost LITERALLY an hour of superpowered people sitting around doing nothing but talk. If these conversations actually served as a brief pause in the frenetic action of the season, or served to achieve some sort of breakthrough, then perhaps one could excuse this chamber piece of an episode. Alas, the titular holiday did little but grind the already glacial narrative to a halt. 

If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be traveling to multiple places this Thursday. Let’s get some practice in and visit a few tables in the “Heroes” universe, shall we? 

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<p>&nbsp;Larry David of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'</p>

 Larry David of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

Credit: HBO

The 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' finale asks, 'Do you respect wood?'

Would the 'Seinfeld' reunion come together? How about the Larry-Cheryl reunion?
So I'm going to begin this little blogular write-up with two confessions, neither of them embarrassing:
 
1) This is the first "Curb Your Enthusiasm" season that I've watched live from start to finish. "Curb" is a show I've always enjoyed, but one I've usually set aside at different points in previous seasons. This is the first season that's remained appointment viewing from start to finish, so don't be surprised when it makes my Top 10 for the year.
 
2) It's surprising that this should be the season I made it through because, as my friends and loved ones know, I never enjoyed "Seinfeld" and this whole season has been built around a "Seinfeld" reunion. And yeah, I said it. I'm the Jew from Back East who didn't like "Seinfeld." Sorry. Even season-completing difficulties not withstanding, I've always preferred "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to "Seinfeld." Someday I'll write a blog post fully explaining that dislike, but it probably won't be tonight.
 
Anyway, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" wrapped up its seventh and, to my mind, best season on Sunday (Nov. 22) night with an episode fittingly titled "Seinfeld." It wasn't as excruciatingly, uncomfortably funny as the climax of last week's "The Table Read" or as spectacularly crafted as "The Bare Midriff," but it tied the season together in a way that felt pretty perfect.
 
[More on the "Curb" finale after the break... With spoilers...]
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<p>&nbsp;Sam and Dan of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

 Sam and Dan of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' -- 'We're Not Working with Anybody, Ever, Anymore!'

Delay tactics and stolen cabs have several teams up-in-arms in Prague
Sunday (Nov. 22) night's "The Amazing Race" included a difficult Detour, a ridiculous Roadblock and yet another opportunity to delve into "Amazing Race" ethics. There may well be yet another lecture on "Amazing Race" karma to come, but we'll probably have to wait until next week to see how the fates conspire against several offending teams.
 
We're down to the Final Four on "The Amazing Race" and on Sunday's episode, three teams in that quartet exhibited behavior that was marginally questionable and, in at least one case, possibly shady. As a result, I may not know which time I'm actively rooting for as the finale approaches -- that's a lie, I'm Team Globetrotter all the way -- but I can tell you which team I'm rooting against.
 
[Recap of Sunday's "The Amazing Race" after the break...]
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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt brought some unexpected upbeat energy to this week's show, but he's not necessarily the funniest guy out there.</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt brought some unexpected upbeat energy to this week's show, but he's not necessarily the funniest guy out there.

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday NIght Live' - Joseph Gordon Levitt sings, Al Gore and a sweet 'Reba' digital short

Watch: Andy Samberg and Keenan Thompson give 'SNL" a much needed boost

 

After a disastrous show with January Jones last week, "SNL" has to turn it around right?  With next week off you'd hope the writer's would save too many of their better bits.  Surprise, surprise the show wasn't that bad tonight (OK, in comparison to previous years or even last year's stellar season), but that's mostly because of the energy of host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the triumphant return of Andy Samberg and Keenan Thompson.  You were missed gents.  Glad to have you back.


Opening - C-Span Press Conference

We find President Obama (Fred Armisen) and the Chinese Prime Minister (Will Forte) in the middle of a press conference.  After beginning to lecture his host country on human rights, the Prime Minister starts to eat away at Obama by bringing up that $800 billion they loaned us.  He brings up everything from all the money we are spending in the bailout without creating any new jobs, cash for clunkers ("You're not gonna pay us back in clunkers are you?") and whether health care can really save people.

Bizarrely he asks, "Will you kiss me?  I like to be kissed when someone is doing sex to me!"  

He then walks close to Obama and bends over and, well, you get the idea.

Obama, "There is no need for that."

This goes on for quite a bit with the Chinese PM bending over at least three times for the same point.

Grade:  C+.  Great idea, but boy was it long and really not as funny as it should have been.  Perhaps it hit too close to home?  And anyone notice someone at "SNL" really has it out for Obama? It's becoming a continuing theme.

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