<p>Eliza Dushku (and Dichen Lachman's back) of 'Dollhouse'</p>

Eliza Dushku (and Dichen Lachman's back) of 'Dollhouse'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' - 'Instinct'

An engagement showcases Echo's maternal instincts, the Senator digs deeper and a familiar face visits the Dollhouse

"Instinct" is one of those episodes of "Dollhouse" that crams the weaker things about the show right up against the stronger things and then hopes against hope that the stronger things win out in the end.

They did, for the most part, in "Instinct," but there was some pretty dumb stuff on the way there. That said, the central storyline ended up being so nifty that all of the improbabilities needed to get there were probably worth it. Still, the episode inches the ball forward on a number of important plotlines, so the 2.5 million of us still sticking with this thing in live broadcast can feel like we got our money's worth.

[Full recap of Friday (Oct. 2) night's "Dollhouse" after the break...]

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<p>Nina Dobrev of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

Nina Dobrev of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'Family Ties'

A big town party offers Damon the chance to teach Elena a history lesson, while Stefan has to take action

Finally! An episode of “The Vampire Diaries” in which we learn things. Like how vampire biology works. Why they don’t sparkle in the sunlight. How Catherine died. What fashion designers Damon likes to wear. You know, the essentials.

[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 1) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]

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<p>Gordana of 'Project Runway'</p>

Gordana of 'Project Runway'

Credit: Lifetime

Recap: 'Project Runway' - 'The Sky is the Limit'

Michael Kors reduces Christopher to tears over his disco pumpkin

Oh, crap. If you've seen the promo for this week, you know that Michael Kors, who has never come across as more than a little bitchy if you ask me, makes Christopher cry. So either MK came back from his TV vacation wearing underwear that's two sizes too tight or Christopher is so stressed out from making insanely beautiful period gowns he's melting down like the Wicked Witch of the West. All I can say is, bring on the waterworks, because the curiosity is killing me.  

[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 1) night's "Project Runaway" after the break...]

But first, let me say how much I hate Nicolas. Not only was it completely stupidly unfair that his crappy white ice queen a la K-mart Halloween costume won over Epperson's Western look and Christopher's, again, insanely beautiful period gown, but he's just a big bitch with bad hair whose resemblance to that killer doll Chucky is starting to become unnerving. This week, his bitchy opening statement is that it's time to start getting rid of the girls, adding, “Shirin, you're out.”  Which makes me hope she wipes the floor with him even more than I did before. And before, I wanted her to wipe the floor with him a lot. Because I just want anyone to wipe the floor with him, even batcrap crazy Chatty Cathy.  

But he won't be going home this week, because that ugly ass K-mart gown got him, yes, immunity. Like I needed further proof that life is unfair. 

Heidi pops in to show off her rockin' leather skirt and tell everyone they have to go meet Tim Gunn. Poor Tim. It's time for his Shameless Plug, and today he introduces Martin Reardon, EVP of Macy's INC International Concepts. Which is the private label brand for Macy's, FYI. Martine learned public speaking at the “How to sell crap on infomercials” school, because she's just that annoying. But she does very clearly and carefully enunciate the day's challenge, which is to create two looks appropriate for the INC brand in the hue of blue (which is totally different than the key of life). Because blue is this fall's purple. Which was last season's black. Anyway, the winner gets a holiday dress in select Macy's stores and online. Which is Macy's out to make, like, ten dresses if they think the winner kind of sucks.  

But Christopher ignores the fine print and gets all hella excited because he hopes he'll be able to walk into his neighborhood Macy's and point to his gown. Oh, Christopher. 

Then, Tim points out that they'll be working in teams of two, which depresses Carol Hannah so much she makes the Peanuts schoolteacher wah-wah noise, which she's surprisingly good at doing. Tim then explains that everyone gets fifteen minutes to sketch, then will have to pitch to Martine, who will pick the five team leaders. Pressure! 

Unfortunately, no one pitches anything too crazypants, so Martine's glazed, frozen smile never breaks into “hell, no!” mode, which would have been kind of great to see. She makes her picks, and guess who knows the Macy's shopper? Irina, Althea, Carol Hannah, Christopher and Louise. The girls dominated four to one, which hopefully made bitchy little Chucky/Nicolas crap his pants with jealousy.   

Althea picks Logan to work with her, which I'm sure pissed off Carol Hannah to no end. Christopher picks Epperson, to which I say, good idea. Louise picks Nicolas, to which I say, good luck. Irina lets Gordana pick herself, and Carol Hannah's stuck with She Who Can't Shut Up, Shirin. 

Off to Mood! This is more fun than usual, because you get to see the cracks forming in the teams right away. And who does not play well with others right off the bat? Irina! I love Irina, but she's clearly a solo act and I fear she's going to beat Gordana over the head with a bolt of fabric, and let me tell  you, those things can be heavy so we're at least talking a concussion if not traumatic brain injury. But I'd hit Gordana over the head, too, because she seems to be a little all over the place. And if there's no way to drug her into a stupor, hey, a good whack on the head should slow her down.  

So, back to FIDM. Carol Hannah doesn't know how to delegate. Irina feels she has to do everything herself. Excuse me, I think I'm having a bad bosses flashback. Nicolas takes the role of disgruntled employee, because he hates ruffles and thinks Louise is stupid, basically, and has to gossip about his horrible lot in life to Althea, who most likely has better things to do.

Epperson, because he's Epperson, tells Christopher he's friggin' awesome because, having survived Qristyl and her psychedelic Spandex passive-aggressive craziness, he probably thinks being partnered with a houseplant or that YouTube cat that plays piano would be an improvement. And Christopher loves him back. And I love them both, because I thought they're designs were so much better than Nicolas' last week I just want them both to beat his ass. Maybe in the promo Christopher's crying with happiness? Okay, fine, whatever. 

Oh, boy. Did you know Louise makes bird noises while she designs? This calms her. Xanax is also calming, Louise. I'm just saying, think about it. You're on national television. Even if it is Lifetime

Oh yay! It's Tim Gunn Holding His Chin and Nodding Time! He tells Carol Hannah and Shirin that they're 80 percent there, which is a good thing. He tells Louise and Nicolas that he doesn't love the ruffle contrast but he's excited by the potential. He tells Althea and Nicolas he loves their modern, non-stereotypical suit.  

Then, it's time for Gordana and Irina. He has some questions about the top. Irina thinks the waistband will be separate from the top, Gordana disagrees. Gordana doesn't want it to tie, Irina does. Tim says they have a lot to discuss. I think Irina is going to rip Gordana's face off, so if that's what he means by discussing, then yes, they will be discussing very, very soon.

Tim tells Christopher and Epperson he loves shirtdresses, but the textiles aren't rocking his world together.

The models come in. Priceless comment #1: “Is the theme blue?” What gave it away? All the BLUE?

Priceless comment #2 “Look at my booty!” Only a skinny ass model would be excited when a skirt is way too tight. Carol Hannah and Shirin overrule the model, thank God. 

Priceless comment #3 “I hate ruffles. Ruffles make me sick.” Oh, stuff it, Nicolas. Back at the apartment, he has to tell his suite mates that he thinks Louise doesn't have a clue who she's designing for. I think Nicolas just can't stand not being the team leader. Have I mentioned that I hate Nicolas?

Time for the runway! Louise doesn't think she's sending finished work down the runway. Gordana manages to pull out a top that makes Irina happy. Christopher feels confident. Oh, Christopher. I'm not sure I can watch.  

Off to the runway to meet the judges! We've got Michael Kors, Marie Claire senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts (does every editor there have a Z name?) and Martine.


Irina and Gordana

First look: Flowy, striped tent dress with spaghetti straps. Nice job.

Second look: The Problem Outfit. Not sure about this one. The fabric kind of bags over the model's boobs, which I would consider not exactly flattering. 


Althea and Logan

First look: I like the suit, but perhaps a skirt that covers her lady parts would be a good thing.

Second look: The crotch of the pants seems to be saggy. The top is too fussy. Don't love this. 


Louise and Nicolas

First look: It looks like a black-haired poodle exploded on this dress.

Second look: Nicolas can suck it. I like the contrasting ruffles. Is that enough to make up for the first look? Not so sure. 


Carol Hannah and Shirin

First look: A perfectly acceptable tank dress.

Second look: A flouncy top with a wide belt and leggings. Not bad.


Christopher and Epperson

First look: I know this is supposed to be a reinvention of the shirtdress. But I don't see the reinvention. It just looks like a shirtdress. Actually, I think I may have owned this exact shirtdress. Damn, now I have to go check my closet. And make sure I threw it out.

Second look: Lovely top, if you think the average American woman wants to look like a blue satin eggplant. 


Judging time! Althea and Logan get a pass into next week. Time for winners and losers. Heidi announces that the lowest scores go to Louise and Nicolas and Christopher and Epperson. So, they get to go back stage and tear their fingernails out with their teeth, because it's time to give love to the four designers who didn't suck. 


Carol Hannah and Shirin

So CH was right about knowing the Macy's consumer! Martine thinks CH did a good job of interpreting INC. Michael likes the tunic and thinks it could also be a dress. Heidi says it doesn't look cheap.  


Irina and Gordana

Oh, boy. Heidi, of course, asks them how well they worked together, so Irina starts complaining about Gordana. Girl, you're in the top four, shut up! Everyone loves the dress. Heidi loves the top. Michael was excited to get a pattern on the dress.  


Onto the losers. As Carol Hannah would say, wah-wah. 


Louise and Nicolas

Martine thinks the ruffles are too overstated. Zanna thinks the dress is pukey. Michael Kors thinks it looks like a shower loofah. Heidi thinks Nicolas is an ass for not saying he hated ruffles. I agree with Heidi. 


Christopher and Epperson.

Heidi thinks the eggplant top looks like a lobster bib. Michael Kors thinks the dress looks like a librarian tablecloth. He thinks the top is a disco pumpkin. He says pumpkin, I say eggplant. He asks Christopher if he thinks the colors go together, then answers his own question, because Christopher is flat out bawling now, and says no, they don't. Martine says she doesn't like the fabric of the shirtdress. Christopher has found a Kleenex, which is a good thing.  

Time for the judges to talk. Michael hates Louise and Nicolas' ruffles. He hates Epperson and Christopher's nightshirt Americana and disco bubble. Martine thinks it wasn't fun, and Zanna thinks it was badly made.  

As for the winners, they loved Irina and Gordana's flowy dress. They gave props to Carol Hannah and Shirin designing multiple pieces, all of them wearable. Martine said they would sell. I smell a winner! 

Time for Heidi to auf someone! Shirin is... in. Irina is... the winner! Shocking. Even with the boob saggage on the top and her throwing Gordana under the bus. Go figure.  

Epperson is... in. Nicolas is, of course, in. Heidi has to remind him he's lucky in an acid tone I really love.  

Heidi calls Louise's designs bad bridesmaid dresses. She tells Christopher his designs were badly made and horribly styled. This time, he just looks sad and slightly pink-eyed, like an unhappy Easter rabbit. 

Louise is... out. Christopher is... in. So,  he starts crying again. Louise leaves. Bye, Louise. I hate to say it, but she had started to lose steam in the last two weeks. It's very, very clear that this season the level of talent is pretty damn high. It wasn't that she was so bad, she just wasn't mind-blowing. And this year, you've got to be close to perfect to survive. Unless you're Nicolas, and you can float by on a pocket of spite and good luck. 

Ooh, a look at next week! New models. Nicolas makes something hideous. Shirin cries. Gordana cries. Something looks like a garbage bag. And Michael says something is double ugly. So, thinks are getting nasty next week. Can't wait! 

Do you think Louise should have gone home? Do you think Michael was too rough on Christopher? Who do you think is going to Bryant Park?  


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<p>Jaison of 'Survivor Samoa'</p>

Jaison of 'Survivor Samoa'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Samoa' - 'It's Called a Russell Seed'

One Russell plants his seed, the other Russell does a solid for the ladies and Jaison takes a stand


Pre-credit sequence. For the second straight week, Foa Foa is returning to camp after Tribal Council. Jaison has been thinking. He thinks Crazy Ben needs to go home. And MickDreamy agrees. Jaison was OK with most of what Ben said to Yasmin last week -- calling her "ghetto trash" and whatnot -- but only up to a point. Boy. Jaison is slow to anger. He calls Ben "a mental plague." And speaking of Mental Plagues, Psycho Russell is chattering with the anonymous blonde who may be Natalie. Almost as a joke, Psycho Russell asks Natalie for ideas about who should go home next. Ideas? Natalie doesn't have inklings. Or intimations. Or thoughts. She certainly doesn't have ideas. This plays perfectly into Russell's thesis:  "This might be the worst group in history and I might be the best." Will Psycho Russell's words continue to be true, or will this be what the dramatists call "hubris"?

[Full recap of Sunday (Oct. 1) night's "Survivor: Samoa" after the break...]

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<p>Ashley of 'America's Next Top Model'</p>

Ashley of 'America's Next Top Model'

Credit: Jerry Mettellus/The CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Take My Photo, Tyra!'

One girl gets aggressive in a challenge, Tyra shows her genius behind the camera and the judges cut another tiny model


Ten girls remain! But they're all like two feet tall! That's like only 20 feet of girl total! Can any of them manage to look tall enough to get a Cover Girl contract and a non-existent bunch o' commercials on CW? Well, it's an all-new episode of "America's Next Top Model," Cycle 13, so let's find out.

[Recap of Wednesday (Sept. 30) night's "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]

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<p>Greg Grunberg of 'Heroes'</p>

Greg Grunberg of 'Heroes'

Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Recap: 'Heroes' - 'Ink'

While Samuel seeks to recruit an important member to his cause, Parkman continues to battle his inner demons.


Not very much "Redemption" in tonight's episode of "Heroes," ladies and gentlemen. What we got instead were three very disparate storylines that really had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Season 1 started off similarly, gradually drawing all the major players inexorably to Kirby Plaza. But since then, the show has struggled more to keep major players onscreen versus focusing on a tight narrative. Hold onto your hats: this ride's bumpy. 

[Full recap of Monday (Sept. 28) night's "Heroes" after the break...]

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<p>January Jones from "Mad Men."</p>

January Jones from "Mad Men."

Credit: AMC

Recap: 'Mad Men' -- 'Seven Twenty Three'

With a solar eclipse looming, Don lands a new account, Betty makes over her living room, and Peggy weighs her options

We all know we’re not supposed to look directly at an eclipse. Even in 1963, before they realized that things like smoking while pregnant was an unwise medicinal move, they knew better than to start directly at the sun during an eclipse. And yet, human DNA is intrinsically embedded with the desire to look at what we are not supposed to look at, say what we are not supposed to say, or do what we are not supposed to do. Sometimes we are punished for these transgressions. But sometimes, life just keeps on moving on, seemingly apathetic towards your egregious actions.

Tonight’s episode of “Mad Men,” entitled “Seven Twenty Three,” started with Don, Betty, and Peggy all lying prone. Something has happened to them, although it’s unclear exactly what. Without feeling the need to overtly show a title card proclaiming “One Week Earlier,” the show the retraced the steps of all three characters, showing how they ended up off their feet. Let’s look at them one by one.

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<p>Eric and Lisa of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

Eric and Lisa of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 15 Premiere

Over two hours, Phil Keoghan sends two teams packing as the Emmy-winning juggernaut returns

I've been a long-time advocate of the two-hour "Amazing Race" premiere. Unlike "Survivor," where some castaways can just coast along for many weeks at a time, relieving the editors of the responsibility of cutting every contestant into every episode, contestants on "The Amazing Race" are always involved and they're all doing the same thing. So while every "Amazing Race" team isn't going to be equally interesting and thus their screentime won't be identical, you can't just forget that three or four teams are around. 

That's why one-hour "Amazing Race" premieres are usually chaotic messes and why I was so pleased to have the show's 15th season launch with a two-hour premiere on Sunday (Sept. 27) night. That meant I (and fans like me) got to know all of the competing teams and to develop opinions on them.

Since an intrepid recapper faces the same challenges as an editor, with 24 competitors doing numerous challenges simultaneously, I prefer not to do "Amazing Race" recaps with a straight-forward this-happened-then-this-then-this-then-this format.

This week, for example, my recap will be my initial reactions to all 12 teams and hopefully, by the times I've gone through the teams I love and hate, I'll have given you a pretty solid sense of what happened in the episode and how things went down. It's a bit unorthodox, but hopefully you won't mind...

Recap... With spoilers... After the break...

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<p>Megan Fox didn't do herself any favors with her forgettable performance on this season's premeire of "SNL."</p>

Megan Fox didn't do herself any favors with her forgettable performance on this season's premeire of "SNL."

Credit: NBC

Recap: Megan Fox overshadowed by new cast member's 'F-bomb' on 'Saturday Night Live's' premiere

Jenny Slate makes a name for herself, for east coast viewers at least


"Saturday Night Live" returned for its 35th season with "Transformers" and "Jennifer's Body" star Megan Fox as host and U2 as the musical guests tonight.  After a politically charged summer with President Obama in the middle of a health care crisis, Bill Clinton saving journalists in Korea, Glenn Beck making a, um, name for himself on Fox News, the writers on "SNL" should have had tons to lampoon in their first new hour since May, right? 

Oh, they've done that already on the first two episodes of "Weekend Update Thursday."   Well, quite honestly we're more interested in seeing if Ms. Fox, who has been battling former "Transformers" director Michael Bay in the press, can show some of the comedic range she displayed in "Body" (not that many of you went to see it).  So, without further ado...

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<p>Eliza Dushku of 'Dollhouse'</p>

Eliza Dushku of 'Dollhouse'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' Premiere - 'Vows'

With Joss Whedon writing and directing, Echo returns and marries a not-so-nice Jamie Bamber


At some point this summer, Joss Whedon obviously realized he's got his 3 million and change fans and just decided to go for broke in pleasing them. His show is apparently cheap enough now that doing that is going to be enough to keep it running for a while, and that's all he really cares about anyway. Whedon can occasionally let things down on the micro level, but he's always playing a huge game on the macro level, one where little tiny bits of information hook together into larger story arcs that hook together into giant, world-shattering stories that legitimately Change Everything. Whedon occasionally spends a lot of time messing around, but that time messing around almost always adds up to something bigger, which explains the fierce loyalty his fans and many critics have toward his work. Would anyone have stuck with "Dollhouse" through its rough patches if it were from anyone else? (Well, if David Chase or David Simon wanted to make "Dollhouse," perhaps.)

To that end, Whedon doesn't even bother to do a previously on segment in tonight's season premiere, "Vows." He assumes you've seen all of "Dollhouse "season one (though maybe not the unaired episode "Epitaph One," which, more on that later), and he assumes you can keep up. His confidence in the viewer is exemplary, especially on network TV, but it also proves slightly disorienting. For a guy who traditionally starts his stories a little too early and lets them simmer very slowly, it's odd to see him getting so in medias res so immediately.

[Recap of Friday (Sept. 25) night's "Dollhouse" after the break...]

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