Pre-credit sequence. Welcome to Week Two of "Survivor: Samoa" or, as it's pretty much already been renamed, "The Psycho Russell Variety Hour." Rarely if ever has a single castmate so immediately and completely dominated the conversation. It's only Day Four in Foa Foa and Psycho Russell is gloating, warning that Marisa played with fire and, thus, got burned. He's pretty solid with his causal logic, at least. He's relieved to no longer have to worry about her strong mind. Officer Betsy, sensing Psycho Russell's wrath, approaches him and attempts to reconcile. They agree that they don't trust each other, but they'll still talk. "It is what it is," they both agree. She tells the camera that she has no faith in Psycho Russell, having gotten to know him.
Psycho Russell makes a discovery, Yasmin makes a stir and Foa Foa makes a mess on 'Survivor'
The models have their shortness exploited on the runway and in a photo shoot
No, Bianca, you don’t need to work on your face. You need to work on your ALL OF YOU. Starting with your hag-like personality. You are a black hole where a sunny little model should be. Oh, Tyra, we’re into only the third episode of "America’s Next Top Model" Cycle 13, and I already have a girl I hate. And not a girl I love to hate. Just hate.
[Full recap of Wednesday (Sept. 23) night's "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]
As the heroes try to reestablish normal lives, a new figure seeks revenge against a familiar foe
Admit it: you read the words "two-hour 'Heroes' premiere" and wondered why your just and merciful God had chosen to spite thee so. Two hours of what might be the last gasp of a once mighty franchise, fallen from such great heights down to such lows? Two hours of fleeting glimpses of greatness pummeled by insensible plotlines and shocking tonal shifts? The horror. The horror.
Tonight’s reality? A two-hour premiere that essentially cancelled itself out, with an hour full of promise weighed down an hour of the same problems that have plagued the last three volumes of the series. This volume’s title, “Redemption,” is a conscious one, a meta name meant to ensure the faithful (if dwindling) viewer that they too recognize the show’s shortcomings. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that show has a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t in this universe, and as such, I fear any positive developments are almost accidental.
[Full recap of Monday's (Sept. 21) "Heroes" after the break...]
As the office scrambles to prepare for surprise visitors, Don receives an unexpected business opportunity.
First of all, congratulations are in order to “Mad Men” for winning a well-deserved Emmy for Best Drama for the second year in a row. The show itself did not take a break from its schedule tonight to enjoy its success, however. Throughout this season, it has teased The British Invasion since the end of its second season. And tonight, the morbidly funny and incredibly bloody episode got a fitting title in “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency.” Because Lord knows Guy sure didn’t walk OUT of one.
[Full recap of Sunday (Sept. 20) night's "Mad Men' after the break...]
Stefan and Damon continue to bicker over their dining habits and Elena continues to pine
About three things I was absolutely positive. First, the CW's new series "The Vampire Diaries" was not to be missed. Second, there was a part of me, and I was pretty certain how potent that part would be, that was super excited to recap the show for HitFix. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with the idea of two smoldering vampire hotties fighting over the same girl, week after week after week!
Episode 2 opens on a tent in the woods, where we catch up with a pair of teens making out. A familiar fog rolls through the trees around them, which can only mean one thing. "Is it going to rain?" the girl asks. Yes…blood, that is! He dies, her cleavage bounces its way through the forest, a figure jumps her from above, and we arrive at the title sequence for Episode 2 of "The Vampire Diaries," which we remind you is NOT a rip-off of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight," thank you very much.
[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 17) "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]
Elena (Nina Dobrev) has pretty eyelashes. So does Stefan (Paul Wesley). Director Marcos Siega thinks so too, because he gives us close-ups of them waking up this morning. "Dear diary," they begin in a shared voice-over. "This morning is different, I can feel it."
Downstairs, Elena says a chipper good morning to her delightfully quirky Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning). Elena feels good today, didn't you know? She's planning on walking on sunshine today! Her deadbeat little brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is also up early, but it's not to go to woodshop class. He's gone to visit his summer fling, Vicki (Kayla Ewell), who had a minor accident last episode when her neck ran into a pair of vampire teeth.
Elena and Stefan are giving each other moony eyes in history class while Mr. Tanner (Benjamin Ayres) lectures about a comet due to pass over the town that hasn't come for 145 years. The comet will be visible right around dusk during some town celebration, which is good because I hear dusk is also a great time to catch some creepy fog in Mystic Falls. I predict some mayhem.
Stefan and Elena walk down the hall. From afar, they really do look like Edward and Bella, only with better make-up and H&M wardrobes. Stefan's got an old-ass copy of "Wuthering Heights," and tells Elena that all the Bronte sisters wrote under pseudonyms because of the times. Oh Stefan. You were there, weren't you!
Meanwhile, Elena's BFF Bonnie (Katerina Graham) is walking the halls with her frenemy, Caroline (Candace Accola), and Bonnie's prattling on about her family's history of being witches. Bonnie's crazy grandma swears she's psychic, and that she's descended from Salem witches! Which she's totally not, because that would be, like, so uncool. Except that she is, and she totally predicted stuff. And saw scary birds when she touched Elena that one time.
Caroline reminds us that A) she met a mysterious hottie last week, who we know is the uber-dangerous Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), and B) that she was drunk when she met him, and therefore we're dealing with a bunch of naughty teenagers on this show. Is this a good message to be sending tweens, CW? Or will they all get the fangs in the end for their sins?
Jeremy stalks across the quad to the sounds of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to confront Tyler for not going to visit his own girlfriend in the hospital. They have what the kids these days call "words," and Jeremy tells Tyler he'll kill him if he hurts Vicki again.
Elena checks in with her ex-who-she-wants-to-be-friends-with-but-who-wants-her-back-bad, Matt (Zach Roerig). Twenty feet away, Stefan uses his Patented Vampire Hearing to ear hustle on their conversation. There have been missing campers and animal attacks recently in Forks Mystic Falls? And Vicki told Matt she'd been attacked by a vampire? How WEIRD! Vicki was drunk too, Matt notes. We've got a town of alchies here. Matt asks Elena what's up between her and Stefan, who sits facing away from them even though we know he's listening in. If only he could read her mind! Matt bounces before Elena can confess how much her heart and loins ache for Stefan. Matt's taking this pretty well, considering. Almost too well. I can't wait until the writers turn him into a villain.
Meanwhile back in Mr. Tanner's history class, Aunt Jenna's having a parent-teacher conference about Jeremy. He's been missing a lot of class, and she tries to have his back. "Did you know their parents died?" she asks Mr. Tanner. "Yeah, four months ago," he replies. He points out that maybe Jenna's parenting skills aren't that sharp, and he's right.
Shadowy figures walk through the hospital. One is Stefan, the other Matt. Matt enters his sister's room, but she's nowhere to be found. All of a sudden, she appears at his side, then freaks out (unconvincingly, I might add). Matt runs for help, allowing Stefan to slip in and work some vampire hypno-magic on her. Actually, he doesn't slip in – he speed-walks in, "Twilight" style. Hypno-Vicki forgets the V-word and will now say she was attacked by an animal. By the time Matt returns with a nurse, Vicki's back to normal.
I've got to take a moment to address the "Twilight" similarities, because let's face it. There are a LOT. The character types are similar, from the dark and brooding Stefan/Edward Cullen to the introspective, brunette Elena/Bella, to Elena's BFF, frenemy, and the harmless guy who wants to date her. Vampirekind is divided between those who feed on humans and those who, for conscientious reasons, choose to only eat animals. Vampires can walk so fast they're a blur, have super-duper hearing and strength, and when they fight, there's some definite wire work going on. Even the background music sounds familiar. The makers of "The Vampire Diaries" seem to have taken all of their cues from the aesthetics of Catherine Hardwicke's "Twilight," for better and for worse.
Ok, back to VD. ("Vampire Diaries" – as infectious as venereal disease!) Matt catches a glimpse of Stefan leaving Vicki's room, and follows him through the hospital into…a room where patients are having blood taken! Stefan pauses for a second to show us his Vampire Blue Steel, which requires Paul Wesley to pose and flex his jaw muscles to show how hard it is for his character to smell the forbidden elixir of human blood, while CG experts dilate his pupils. Stefan manages to escape through an open window two stories up. Matt is left perplexed.
It's girl time, and Elena is out with Bonnie and Caroline gabbing about girl stuff. Like the comet and the doom and gloom it rained on Mystic Falls a hundred years ago. Caroline grills Elena about that night she and Stefan spent talking until the wee hours. "There was no sloppy first kiss, or touchy-feely of any kind?" she asks. Nope, Elena answers. Well, this series is young yet. There's plenty of time to let Elena get her freak on with one or the other vampire brother. Caroline suggests Elena jump Stefan's bones, and I wonder what sort of message this show is trying to send kids. Elena decides to take Caroline's advice and go for it after all – not vampire sex, but the walking on sunshine she woke up babbling about this morning.
Back home, Aunt Jenna's wearing her mom hat. She tells Jeremy about all that doobie smoking she used to do during freshman year and blabs about how much weight she gained because of all the munchies she used to get, in hopes that he'll confess about being a suburban street pharmacist. The ruse doesn't work, and now I just feel sad for Jenna and her self-image issues.
A chipper Vicki can't remember a thing about all that freaking out she did ten minutes ago, and recites Stefan's line about being attacked by an animal. Jeremy comes by. Vicki still wants him to keep their summer hook-up a secret, because all the kids in school will totally think she's a freak. She's totally like a year older than him, after all. How embarrassing! Jeremy reminds her that he's the one who saved her in the woods, and Vicki begins to reconsider.
At Casa de los Vampiros, Elena's come by to seize the day and look for Stefan. But something's wrong: the door's open, and it seems like nobody's home. Also, the cameraman has switched to a shaky handheld camera, which indicates that something spooky is about to go down. A door creaks open and a crow flies in, startling Elena into coming practically mouth-to-mouth with Boone! I mean, Damon. He looks at her like he wants to eat her. Ian Somerhalder is what Megan Fox in "Jennifer's Body" would call "extra salty."
Damon gives Elena a mini tour of the house, which is impressive in a "filled with old things" kind of way. Damon's version of small talk is to tell Elena how much Stefan likes her, then totally cock block him by mentioning the last girl Stefan was in love with – Catherine, who happens to be Elena's Civil War era doppelganger. Stefan arrives, alarmed to see his sneaky brother with his future girlfriend, and semi-rudely tells Elena it's time for her to leave before Damon has a chance to break out the family album and show Elena that old photograph of Catherine that Stefan still sighs over.
Vicki is having some bad dreams, all about Vampire Damon. Guess Stefan's hypnotherapy's not working so well. Also not working? Elena's efforts to "put herself out there," which Bonnie calls her on since all she's done so far is show up at Stefan's house, meet his brother, and leave awkwardly.
Stefan explains to his "uncle," who's really his nephew, why Damon came home. "Because I came home," he says. Uncle Zach is worried that Vicki could blow the lid off of the Salvatore family's secret. I'm worried that Chris Martin can't figure out how to play a middle aged man pretending to be the uncle of a teenager who's really his own uncle.
Vicki's out of the hospital and back in action at the Mystic Grill, where she's trying to get more time off and, more importantly, score some grown-up meds from pill pusher Jeremy. Amazingly, she pops these illicitly-obtained drugs right then and there, standing in the middle of a public eating establishment! They talk about the comet, because remember the comet? Yeah, there's gonna be a comet.
Outside, the town has gathered for the comet celebration, and everyone is to hold a candle for some reason. Elena runs into Matt, who very gladly lights her candle, then watches as she turns and lights Stefan's candle. It's a metaphor.
Stefan points out the comet to Elena and tells her that it's not a harbinger of evil, but just a lonely little space ball trapped on its course, who gets to come home once every 145 years. That's a metaphor, too, but she totally doesn't get it. In fact, Elena mistakenly thinks that Stefan's not interested in dating her, and she gets all teary eyed. Dummy, he came back to Mystic Falls just for you! (Because you look like his ex, but whatever.) Stefan IS the comet! Stefan stands there blinking his eyes while Elena walks off defeated, unaware that she just played herself.
Damon allows Vicki to run into him at the restaurant, which is just mean. She can't quite place him as the one who snacked on her in the forest, but she's plenty upset. So naturally, she heads for the ladies' room to go get high. There's one problem: Vampire Damon is right behind her, and he's wearing his vampire face!
Elsewhere at the Peach Pit, all the cool kids are hanging when Jeremy comes looking for Vicki. When Tyler reveals to Elena that Jeremy sells drugs, Jeremy tells the whole world that he and Vicki hooked up. Poor Matt has to also hear that Tyler may or may not have forced himself on his sister in the past. It's a lot to process in the span of 15 seconds. A truce is called so the gang can go find Vicki.
Matt runs into Stefan outside and tells him about Lost Vicki. He also adds, off topic, that he saw Stefan at the hospital and that he has Elena's back. Stefan excuses himself, because with his vampire hearing he has caught Vicki's cry for help.
Up on a roof, Damon's playing "I'm gonna drop you/I'm not gonna drop you" with a terrified Vicki. Stefan speed-walks his way up, where Damon's playing a new game. Damon's diet of people blood gives his vampire powers more strength than Stefan's puny animal blood powers, so he overrides Vicki's mind with the lie that Stefan attacked her. Damon rips off Vicki's neck bandage, revealing her wound, to tempt Stefan with her blood. Stefan's pain is so great that he looks like he got kicked in the junk, but even so he tells Damon to shove it, because he'd rather be staked in the heart then to return to his evil vampire ways.
It would appear, however, that this was only a test; Damon whispers some mojo into Vicki's ear, and she forgets everything that she was just witness to and leaves. What's Damon's game plan, Stefan wonders?
Back at the restaurant, Matt thanks Stefan for finding his sister. (Side thought: do vampires have to be invited into restaurants?) Stefan asks Caroline and Bonnie where Elena is, but Elena's gone home; thankfully, Bonnie's an excellent wing woman and gives him Elena's digits on a piece of paper. Passing the note to Stefan, Bonnie brushes his hand and gets her witchy tingle of doom, but all she can figure out is that something horrible happened to him.
Elena and Aunt Jenna have a heart to heart while Jenna rummages through Jeremy's stash. Jenna doesn't know how to be a good parent, like Elena's mother was.
At the Mystic Grill, Jeremy spies Slutty Vicki swapping spit with Tyler and looks like he's about to cry. Outside, Caroline is being vampire-stalked by Damon, who's been appearing to her all over town. She drops her keys in the parking lot, and all of a sudden, there he is! They flirt.
Elena finally balls up and goes to Stefan's mansion. She explains to him that every day, she writes in her journal about how scared she is of the world. He tells her that real life is happening right now, or something. I just caught the gist of his speech, because right then, Stefan and Elena have their first kiss! It's a nice, chaste little make-out sesh. Unlike the full-on sex party that Caroline is having with Damon, which gets really hot and heavy…that is, until he throws on his vampire face and takes a giant bite of Caroline!
Next week: Vampire football! This show's not like "Twilight" at all!
How did Week Two of "The Vampire Diaries" measure up to Week One?
Johnny and Nicolas get their claws out, but only one will survive
So, another day, another challenge on "Project Runway." And even though last week seemed a little blah with everyone hugging their incredibly sane and normal models in what seemed like a 60-minute Zoloft ad, I think this week will be a whole lot bloodier and, thus, more fun. First, we have Meth Head Johnny moaning about the emptiness of being in the bottom three, which makes me think he might start filling up that hole with a hole not of non-prescription drugs procured from the helpful entrepreneurs on Skid Row. Then, Irina has to take some shots at last week's winner, Althea, as she thought that little black suit of hers looked like ass. Finally, Nicolas declares that Johnny doesn't deserve to be on the show. So, claws out before we're even five minutes in. Tonight is gonna be gooooooood.
[Full recap of Thursday (Sept. 17) night's "Project Runway" after the break...]
Jeff Probst and a new crop of castaways hit the beaches of Samoa and Russell H tells a big lie
Off to sea once more. After spending last season somewhere in the Brazilian Highlands, we're back to the islands for the Sept. 17 premiere of "Survivor: Samoa," which promises to be the survivoriest season ever. What? Nobody's called it that? Let me be the first. Let the survivorosity begin. I can almost taste the survivorishness already.
Pre-Credits. We're deep in the heart of the South Pacific and waves are crashing around Jeff Probst. He knows no fear, for he is Jeff Probst, the most survivoresque man any of us know. But he may have competition from Shannon, with her flowing mullet and her healthy sense of self-confidence. People think she rocks, she tells us. Fearsome Russell H is already scaring the intriguingly hippy-hot Marisa. And Betsy, the hardened police officer with a thick New England accent, vows not to trust anyone.
[Full recap after the break...]
Models pose topless with horses and Tyra's superhero alter ego teaches them to Smize
Now that what’s-her-name from the clown baby shoot has gone, we can start getting down to bidness. It’s the NEKKID SHOOT episode of "America’s Next Top Model," Cycle 13. Everything’s all sped up this season: makeovers, sob stories, nekkid shoots. I love living in the instant gratification era.
[Recap of Wednesday (Sept. 16) night's "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]
In which either Jordan, Kevin or Natalie won $500,000 after two hours of filler
Alright, cards on the table. I'll tell you what I told my BB co-blogger Daniel Fienberg, which is that I am approaching tonight's show with an unpleasant, queasy-making mix of excitement and dread in my heart, which is probably how I approached my first day of junior high but, thank God, I blocked out that particular painful memory years ago. Still, as much as I want Jordan to win that big payday (even if she does run the risk of blowing it all on chewing gum or giving it to a nice e-mail buddy in Nigeria), I fear the final two might be slacker extraordinaire Kevin and lunatic loser Natalie, which will make me just so mad I might throw something. Something small and possibly squishy because I don't want to break anything in my house, but throw nonetheless.
[Who was the willing of "Big Brother 11"? Results from Tuesday's (Sept 15) finale after the break...]
In the season finale, Maryann's orgy reaches its climax, Eric and the Vampire Queen bond and Sookie faces a choice
What do you MEAN this is the season finale? Finale means end, as in to finish, as in to die. And that's just silly because vampires can't die unless there's the sun, and UNLESS I am MISTAKEN, it is currently 9 p.m. in the EVENING. That's called airtight logic. BOOYAH. For the next hour I shall be in high denial. Join me, will you?
[Recap of Sunday (Sept. 13) night's "True Blood" finale after the break...]