<p>James Franco was back for his second stint as a host on &quot;Saturday&nbsp;NIght Live.&quot;</p>

James Franco was back for his second stint as a host on "Saturday NIght Live."

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - James Franco does James Dean and kisses a dude

Plus: Muse and Mike Tyson makes an appearance

It's been a strangely inconsistent "SNL" season so far and it appears the show's writing staff is suffering from major burnout.  Could the promise of a two-week break and the return of previous host James Franco end things on a positive note for 2009?  We'll see...

The Lawrence Welk show - Christmas Edition

Fred Armisen returns as Lawrence Welk and gets ready to introduce a famous Latin singing sensation (Franco) joining that familiar quartet, The Merryll Sisters.

Welk: "You know what they say, 'You can take the girl out of the finger lakes, but not the finger out of the girl"
"There was supposed to be a 'lakes' in there."

Can you imagine what transpires?  Oh yes you can! It's the same old formula: Franco's seducer sings with each of the pretty sisters until he gets to Junice (Wiig) who freaks him out and he keeps trying to get away from her.

Lawrence, 'Is it me or does one of them have a forehead that looks like the side of a cave?  Oh, and one more thing.  Live from New York...it's Saturday night!"

Grade: B.  Well, this is getting old, but extra points for not doing yet another political sketch as the opening.

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<p>&nbsp;Eliza Dushku and Reed Diamond of 'Dollhouse'</p>

 Eliza Dushku and Reed Diamond of 'Dollhouse'

Credit: Carin Baer/FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' - 'The Attic'

'Dollhouse' accelerates even more in one of its best episodes yet.


"The Attic" is like "Dollhouse" played on 78 rpm or something. It takes the contours of a normal episode, layers on one of Joss Whedon's favorite conceits (the dream episode), spices the whole thing with a liberal dose of mythology and then speeds it all up until head-spinning revelations are whirling by so fast that it seems hardly possible this is the same show that once spent an entire episode on Echo infiltrating a girl pop group. There's big, Earth-shattering stuff at work in "The Attic," and that brings it up to the level of the show's best episodes. And it's entirely possible that all "Dollhouse" had to do to get to this point was get canceled.

[Full recap of "The Attic," Friday (Dec. 18) night's second "Dollhouse" episode, 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; ">Enver Gjokaj and Dichen Lachman of 'Dollhouse'</span></p>

 Enver Gjokaj and Dichen Lachman of 'Dollhouse'

Credit: Carin Baer/FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' - 'Stop-Loss'

'Dollhouse' gets more political as Victor finally gets to leave the house.

Let's talk a little about Olivia Williams as Adelle DeWitt.

In recent weeks, I've been a little surprised with two things. I've been surprised with just how complex Adelle's motivations have become and how little hand-holding "Dollhouse" has done to explain this to us (indeed, sometimes TOO LITTLE hand-holding, which almost never happens on network TV). And I've been surprised with how little buzz there is around the character among the few people still buzzing about "Dollhouse." When it was announced that Joss Whedon's latest series had landed Williams to play the mysterious head of the Dollhouse, this was seen as a great coup. And yet, even though Williams is turning in work this season that should land her on Emmy's short list, she almost never gets the big praise from critics or fans. Perhaps that's because the writing of the character is so cagey, playing to the actress' strengths at only letting out raw emotion after just too much of it gets pent-up. Perhaps it's because Adelle does some bad, bad things. Or perhaps it's because it's just easier to empathize with the Dolls. But make no mistake: DeWitt is an evil woman, doing evil things, but for complicated and understandable reasons. And that's hard to do well (much less play) on a weekly TV series.

[Full recap of the "Stop Loss" hour of Friday's (Dec. 18) "Dollhouse" double-bill after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Mick of 'Survivor: Samoa'</p>

 Mick of 'Survivor: Samoa'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Samoa' - 'Two Brains Are Better Than One'

God takes a side in the Reward Challenge and Immunity forces a difficult choice for Russell

Pre-credit sequence. Welcome to the season's penultimate episode of "Survivor: Russell," featuring Russell, Shambo and a group of other people. Oh and some guy named Brett, who suddenly became really important last week after not opening his mouth for the first 31 days in Samoa. Monica has just been eliminated. It's night 33. And for some reason, Brett is doing the grossest thing I can imagine, massaging Shambo's mullet. She keeps moaning. It's really unfortunate. Meanwhile, Brett is celebrating being the Last True Galu. Russell knows that Brett still has to go, since there are too many Galus on the jury. 

Proper Mullet Maintenance. Brett is quoting from Ephesians. I don't know why. But Natalie's digging on his scripture. I can't tell if he's thinking he wants to sleep with Natalie, ally with Natalie or go door-to-door selling Bibles with her after this is over. It appears that he's hopping to do a little of each. But back to Shambo's hair, which she insists needs to be cut. "She should shave that ho-head," Russell cracks. "Mullet went out in the '70s." He accuses Shambo of hiding large quantities of food in her hair, including peanuts and coconuts and banana. Ick.
God is deeply invested in "Survivor." In two teams of three, the players have to do some task involving pulling ropes and keeping coconuts from falling. Want to know what they're playing for? It's time for the season's anthropological reward, specifically the feast with villagers. Russell and Natalie are captains. Natalie selects Brett first, while Russell takes Jaison. Natalie adds MickDreamy, meaning that Shambo's last and joins Russell. At Jeff Probst's prodding, Shambo admits that her hair is "Shambolicious" and she's had it since 1986. Nothing Shambo says anymore makes any sense. It's all a combination of Marine cheers and '70s pop songs. As Brett, Natalie and Mick bond as Prayer Warriors, Russell's beginning to be concerned. Something is working for the Prayer Warriors, as Natalie's team gets out to a huge early lead. Mick, apparently not a Prayer Warrior brings things closer, but the Island Gods love Mick compared to Jaison, who single-handedly drops 47 coconuts. Natalie posits that God has supported her, at least until she drops 58 coconuts in one pull. God actually appears to favor Russell, who in a key moment pulls a rope without dropping a single coconut. Can Prayer Warrior Brett keep his team in the game? No. He cannot. God chooses Russell's team. 
Jaison gets jiggy. Jaison hasn't been on a reward all season, so he's initially reserved about this opportunity. Or he's reserved until he sees the shellfish, the pig and the noble natives, drumming and juggling flames just for their entertainment. Russell tears into the food with the appetite of a dozen natives. He's especially pleased that Brett and Mick will be hungry and dehydrated for the next challenge. A seemingly hammered Shambo proposes a toast to the people of Samoa and then falls on her back. As the music swells, Jaison rises and announces, "I've been fortified by the power of food and I'm about to get jiggy with it." Sadly, Jaison's getting jiggy is every bit as pathetic as you might guess.
Look at that S Car Go. Back at camp, Brett proposes that they should go get snails and chill on the beach, eat snails and watch the sunset. My boy Brett knows how to party. "I don't play this game overly aggressively," admits Brett. We know, man. Suddenly, though, Brett is something of a Chatty Cathy, going on and on about the Foa Foa infiltrators. Natalie is happy with Brett, but she's been tied to Russell since Day One. "It's the hardest thing to balance your heart and your head," she observes. 
Pillow talk with Shambo. Back at the Reward, Shambo and Russell and Jaison have pillows, sheets and a mattress and Shambo is pretending to be a seven-year-old. They're having childlike fun until Jaison asks about Natalie's quick selection of Brett before the Reward. Russell is planning to spend two hours taking to Natalie when they get back to camp, or that's what he tells them. In truth, he says he's certain that Natalie is secure. Russell makes it clear that the next person out has to be either Brett... or MickDreamy.
Security exchange. The next morning, the tribe is reunited and Russell tries to make sure that Natalie is secure. He also throws out Mick as a secondary option for elimination. "I'm in control of it all," Russell gloats. Natalie is confident that Russell's being truthful with her and that she's been truthful with him. Their goal is still to get Brett out first. "There's gonna be no argument..." Russell says of Brett.  He's a little punk. He's 110 pounds. He's not faster than me. He's not stronger than me." He says several other things, but who can really keep up? Russell talks a lot.
Counting on Immunity. It's a fun challenge for Immunity. There are a number of objects, including pigs, crabs, octopi and fish. Contestants have to remember the number of each object and then combine the numbers to open a lock. There are six stations. Each lock has a different combination. In the pouring rain, Mick begins work on his combination first, followed quickly by Jaison and Russell. "We got a race," Jeff yells. Several contestants get their combinations wrong as the challenge goes from interesting to monotonous almost instantly. Brett's combination is correct. Again, Immunity goes to Brett. Jaison knows that Russell wants Mick out, but he's turned on Shambo. Meanwhile, I'm confused: Why would God want Brett to win Immunity, but not Reward? How fickle!
Suspicious minds. There's a rainbow. And a red bird. And a coconut with a knife stuck in it. I'm not sure what that means. Jaison pulls Russell aside and says that his vote is Shambo. At just that moment, Shambo walks up and Jaison turns away, raising Shambo's suspicions. Russell is caught off guard and has to scramble and scrambling Russell makes Shambo nervous. She's sure that she's contributed enough to be safe, but she doesn't think anybody is beyond the chopping block. It turns out that Shambo also has bad breath, something Russell brings up with MickDreamy. "We ain't buddy-buddy," Russell says of Shambo, which surprises MickDreamy. We've now reached the point at which everybody is suspicious of everything said by everybody else. Russell explains that if he keeps Shambo, she won't write his name down, she sucks at challenges and she won't get any votes for the million bucks. Russell's wearing his Immunity Necklace to Tribal Council, just for fun. Because he's cocky like that.
Tribal Council. The jury enters, looking clean and content and Galuvian. Jeff brings up Shambo's betrayals almost immediately. Russell explains that we've moved into the End Phase of the game, which comes down to who will get the most votes for the million bucks. Jaison raises the possibility of Brett sweeping the jury. "My strategy is just win the next few Immunity challenges like I've won the last two," Brett says. MickDreamy insists he's played as aggressively strategic a game as Russell and that he'll be pissed off if he's voted out. Russell pretends that his vote tonight will be "pretty tough."
The vote. Mick writes Shambo's name down. Shambo writes Mick's name down. Shocking. It's the last night for Russell to play his Idol and he says, "You know what, Jeff? I think I'm going to keep it for a souvenir." The first two votes are split between Shambo and Mick. The next three go against Shambo. I will not miss Shambo. On the jury, Danger Dave rolls his eyes. In the end, Jeff and Brett share a moment. It's a dimple thing. In her exit interview, Shambo is almost hilariously gracious, saying that Foa Foa just stuck together, as they should.
Don't forget, kids. Sunday (Dec. 20) is finale night. I'll be there. Unless I forget.
Did the Foa Foa alliance make the right vote? Should they have turned on MickDreamy? And what do you think of Jaison steering the vote?
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<p>&nbsp;Jakob Karr of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

 Jakob Karr of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' Season Six Finale: The winner is...

FOX plugs 'Avatar,' America chooses its favorite dancer and Russell is injured

Yes, Russell. The competition is over. And yet, we’re going to drag out the agony for two friggin’ hours. Welcome to the agony that is the finale of “SYTYCD”! Somebody prod me awake when it counts, thanks.

[Full recap of Wednesday's (Dec. 16) "So You Think You Can Dance" finale after the break...]

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

 Ryan of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' Season Six Finale: Performances

The marrieds dance, but is it enough to take them to the top?

Tonight’s show is moving reallyreallyreally fast, because six performances (the final six!) have to be squeezed into an hour to make room for friggin’ Gordon Ramsay’s cooking show. I’m not going to complain too much, because I’m more than happy to miss the interviews with the dancers about their favorite toenails and why they love puppies, plus it gives Cat an excuse to tell the judges to shut their traps when they’re blabbering on about a dance to hear the sounds of their own voices. But speaking of blabbering on, let’s cut to the chase, because with everyone couple dancing with everyone else, there’s a whole lotta dancing to cover tonight! As Mary might say, whoooooo!

[Recap of Tuesday's "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break..]

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<p>Taylor Lautner as Marianne in a soon to be infamous &quot;Team Edward/Team Jacob&quot; skit.</p>

Taylor Lautner as Marianne in a soon to be infamous "Team Edward/Team Jacob" skit.

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Taylor Lautner goes Team Edward and Tiger Woods dominates

Plus: Lautner shows off some mad sword and karate skills (really)

Taylor Lautner's hosting of "Saturday Night Live" has all the "Twilight" fans in a flutter and may foster one of the highest rated shows of the year.  Who knew Lorne Michaels could be so timely?  Will Lautner be able to show some acting and comedy skills that have been missing from his big screen work so far?  Does it really matter for his legion of fans out there? Let's find out...


A trio of scandal plagued politicians; South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (Sudeikis) Nevada Senator John Ensign (Bill Hader), former Presidential candidate John Edwards (Will Forte ) hold a press conference to criticize the "orgy of media attention" to the Tiger Woods mess. Here are some choice bits:

Sanford: "This is excessive and lurid and it has completely overshadowed of our own extramarital affairs."
Edwards: "I had a love child!"
Sanford: "When I went to visit my mistress I had a really preposterous story about the Appalachian trail."
Ensign: "My girlfriend was married."
Edwards: "Again, I had a love child!"
Sanford: "My wife just filed for divorce, but you'd never know it by the media's coverage."
Ensign: "I played hush money."
Edwards: "Maybe I wasn't clear, I had a love child. An illegitimate bastard love child. Don't you people care?"
Sanford: "But Tiger had a huge number of girlfriends."
"Why this clear double standard. Perhaps racial?"

(After Ensign lists Tiger's ethnic heritage Sanford Edwards corrects him.)
Edwards: "No, he's not Puerto Rican, you're thinking about A-Rod." (Huge laugh from the mostly New York crowd.)

The skit basically ends with the trio saying their own scandals would have had to been astronomically worse to hit the Tiger level.

Grade: B-.  Good idea, but where was the punch line?  Was missing something to knock it out of the park.

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<p>&nbsp;Alan Tudyk of 'Dollhouse'</p>

 Alan Tudyk of 'Dollhouse'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' - 'A Love Supreme'

Alpha returns in Dollhouse's riff on zombie movies

If nothing else, "A Love Supreme" seems decidedly intent on getting Alan Tudyk cast in Quentin Tarantino's next movie. It's got the weird musical choices on the soundtrack, the use of odd locations and the decidedly atypical manner of Alpha's speech patterns. As Tudyk drops back in to the series, now bent on killing off as many of Echo's prior romantic engagements as possible, he seems to be coming in from some other show about serial killers who wear snappy suits and offer up droll patter as they dispatch their victims. I realize that sounds a lot like "Dexter," but it's a little less concerned with its hero's sociopathy and more with him being wicked cool.

[Full recap of "A Love Supreme," the second of Friday's (Dec. 11) two "Dollhouse" episodes after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;A scene from the 'Meet Jane Doe' episode of FOX's 'Dollhouse'</p>

 A scene from the 'Meet Jane Doe' episode of FOX's 'Dollhouse'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' - 'Meet Jane Doe'

'Dollhouse' offers up an episode that might have made a great pilot in an alternate universe.

One of the hardest things to determine when coming up with a serialized TV series is figuring out where to start the story. Some stories suggest, automatically, where to begin. There was pretty much nowhere else to start the story of "Lost" than on that beach immediately after that plane crash, and "Battlestar Galactica" needed the horror of the nuclear holocaust of the miniseries to kick off its story. But most series end up caught up in trying to decide what is the perfect point to balance having just enough backstory (but not too much!) and just enough room to move forward (but not too much!). This, honestly, is kind of an underrated component of the whole serialized TV machine, since it's hard to judge these things from just the pilot and the first few episodes. But it often seems like the serialized shows that suck viewers and critics into the world of the show straight off are the ones that manage this balance, and the ones that don't suck us in are the ones that never quite figured out the best place to begin.

[Full recap of Friday's (Dec. 11) first "Dollhouse" episode after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Brett of 'Survivor: Samoa'</p>

 Brett of 'Survivor: Samoa'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Samoa' - 'Damage Control'

After waiting in the wings all season, Brett comes to play in a double-elimination episode
Pre-credit sequence. When last we left the castaways, they had just blindsided John, leaving Shambo confused and doubting the validity of her nocturnal visions. It's Night 30 and Shambo is pretending to be impressed at John ouster, even after Russell approaches her and attempts to calm her down. "I'll do whatever it takes to win this game," says Russell, who reminds us that he's been lying to everybody all game. We're well-aware, Russell. Shambo, slightly placated, tells Russell that Dave has to go next. Russell mostly ignores her.
[Full recap of Thursday's (Dec. 10) "Survivor: Samoa" after the break...]
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