<p>&nbsp;Mika and Canaan of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

 Mika and Canaan of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' -- 'I'm Like Ricky Bobby'

A Fast-Forward races one team into the lead, while poor choices and general idiocy sends another team packing in Dubai
Unlike "American Idol," "The Amazing Race" isn't a show that I consider myself to be a scholar off. I've watched regularly for 10 seasons (and done recaps for nearly as long), but I often forget teams and challenges and historical precedent. The longer I watch, though, I become more and more convinced by the idea of "Amazing Race" karma and its centrality to the game. 
 
No, I don't believe that you're every going to win "The Amazing Race" by helping the other teams and tipping cab drivers above and beyond the custom of the land or patting small children from impoverished villages on the head. Nor do I think you're likely to lose simply because you complained about the way a foreign country smelled, got into a fight with an airline travel representative or gave a bum clue to a rival team. 
 
But it probably can't hurt to put positive vibes out there into the universe. At least in the first four or five legs. Then you can move into, "This is a race and I'm not here to make friends" mode. Also, I'm probably going to like you more if you do the former things and I'm probably going to hate you more if you do the latter things. 
 
That's why, one week after losing the only team I was actively able to root for -- Poor Zev and Justin! -- I at least found another team to tacitly support. I never would have guessed I'd say this, but "Go Team Miss AmEricka!" OK. That's an overstatement, but if they win? Karma!
 
[Sigh. Yes. I had a hard time coming up with an intro for this recap that wasn't just me gloating with excitement about the lame team that got sent home... It happens sometimes.]
 
Full recap of Sunday (Oct. 18) night's "The Amazing Race" after the break...
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<p>&nbsp;Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'</p>

 Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'

Credit: AMC

Recap: 'Mad Men' -- 'The Color Blue'

With Sterling Cooper's anniversary on the horizon, Betty Draper learns more about Don's past

 As "Mad Men" nears the end of Season 3, the start of the rest of the century beckons. The dramatic irony lies in the contrast of the characters' expectations versus audience's knowledge of events to come. Whereas Roger Sterling sees the rest of the century playing out in a similar fashion to the first forty years of Sterling Cooper's existence, we know all too well that a few bullets in a few weeks time will end one era and start another. 

[Full recap of Sunday (Oct. 18) night's "Mad Men" after the break...]

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<p>Gerard Butler showed off his comedy and musical skills on this weekend's &quot;Saturday&nbsp;Night Live.&quot;</p>

Gerard Butler showed off his comedy and musical skills on this weekend's "Saturday Night Live."

Credit: NBC

Recap: Gerard Butler sings, Shakira howls and the return of 'The Rock Obama' on 'SNL'

Plus: James Franco appears out of nowhere and asses and gays rule the night

 

Having unfortunately missed Drew Barrymore's hosting stint last week, we're back in the game as Gerard Butler makes his debut as the host of tonight's NBC's legendary skit show.  Having interviewed Butler a number of times, he's always displayed a great sense of humor and it's strange he hasn't landed this gig before.  Thankfully, his work in this summer's dreadful "The Ugly Truth" didn't disqualify him (someone told Lorne Michaels "Gamer" wasn't a comedy, right?).  In any event, on with the show.  Butler's got "Law Abiding Citizen" to hype!

Opening

Yet another Obama opening.  This week, the president (Armisen) is setting up a meeting with his health care foes: Senators Snow, McConnell and Baucus. But as he promises his assistant, he won't get angry.

When one of the Senators tells him, "We don't want healthcare to fail, we just want you to fail," the president undergoes a dramatic transformation.  Yep, it's the return of 'The Rock Obama'!

Johnson seems to do Obama better than Armisen, even it he's ripped to the hilt.  He first throws one senator out the oval office window, rips another's arm off saying "You better call your insurance, say you need new arm."  (Applause from the audience.)  With only Maine's Snow left he says, "Put head in hand, smash it now." (Oops, laughter goes cold. Perhaps a bit too dark for "SNL"?)  Luckily, Joe Biden comes in to save Snow before finding his blooper-loving self thrown out the window as well. Cue Johnson yelling the famous intro...

Grade: B.  Great site gag with Johnson, but felt like something went wrong.

Monologue

Gerard Butler starts off by announcing he's officially hosted "SNL" more than any other Scotsman in history. He then segues from joking about how he stars in movies either wearing his shirt or not and how he is more "sensitive" on screen when he has his shirt on to singing a song from his favorite shirt-wearing musical.  Wait, is he gonna go there? Is Butler going to sing "Music of the Night" from his highly criticized performance in the big screen "Phantom of the Opera"?  You bet he does and somehow he sounds better than he actually did in the movie. While he's mid-verse he's randomly attacked by a crusader.  He tries to sing again, but keeps getting interrupted by warriors and ninjas. Surprisingly, not only can Butler sing, but he can sing and kick ass!  Impressive.  Then Kristen Wiig comes out to hit the high notes at the end of "Night," except -- she's ready to attack him with a knife too yelling, "Take your shirt off." Not tonight Ms. Wiig. Not tonight.

[For those wondering why there is no clip, chances are NBC couldn't clear the Andrew Lloyd Webber song for onine in time.]

Grade: B.  Rough at the beginning, but the man completely mocked himself and pulled it off. Good show.

Commercial: Grand Hoochie Skank Rose

Kenan Thompson appears as the proprietor of a slew of ghetto Champagnes including Maison du Satin, Ghetto Imperial and MInneapolis Mystery.  Now, he's introducing a new champagne specifically designed to pour down women's asses.  Yep, it's Grand Hoochie Skank Rose.  (Do your really want me to continue?)

Grade: C.  Can we get one slam dunk commercial this season?  Just one?

[We then interrupt the show to find out Bud Light Golden Wheat is sponsoring most of tonight's commercial breaks and will be showing highlights from rehearsals over the years with former stars Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon,  Darrell Hammond, etc.  Let's not spend any energy recapping these clips because they were 10x funnier than anything original on the show tonight and it just gets depressing. Moving on...]

Gametime with Randy and Greg

Thompson and Bill Hader appear as sports show hosts Randy Dukes and "Greg" to talk about this weekend's Major League Baseball playoffs.  They start to take calls from their viewing audience, but all anyone wants to ask is if Greg is really an alien (duh).  And yes, that's the entire joke of this skit -- Randy's co-host is an alien.  For some reason Butler shows up as a former baseball player who is must more interested in Greg being an alien than making postseason picks, but it only serves to extend an excruciatingly lame bit.

Grade: D. This must have been funny in the writer's room, because it certainly wasn't on the air.

Beauty and the Beast

Singing the title song from the Disney classic, Wiig and Butler appear in costume as Belle and the Beast (Butler singing again!).  Is it true love for the fairy tale couple?  "Oh, darling I can't wait for your transformation," the Beast says. Belle stops mid-dance and replies, "What do you mean mine?" "The curse will be broken and you can stop being a beast," the Beast says. "You think Im' the beast?"  "Yeah, we were just singing about it.  Oh, this is awkward."  It seems the Beast was hoping the curse would end and Belle would transform from what he considers only a "6" to a beauty with a big ass. Honestly, funny stuff, but again with the big asses.

Grade: B+.  One note, but somewhat inspired.  Who knew this would be Butler's "musical" return?

Shakira, "She Wolf"

No nude colored underwear for Shakira tonight, but she can definitely pull off those moves from the video. More impressively, she can sing live, shake her ass and show how limber she is by doing a sexy split.  Not only that, but she does it all in stiletto heels! Wowzers.

Grade: A.  Shakira howled on national television and did a full frontal split.  'Nuff said.

Weekend Update with Seth Meyers

Let's skip Seth's lame jokes and get on with the guests:

Hader and Armisen return as the two gay guys from New Jersey, but this time we discover they are in military service. Some choice one-liners:
"I identify him by his first class privates." "We are just gonna go about our army business -- shining our helmets."  (Funny, but not sure the audience was into it though.)

Next up the actual Ballon from Colorado shows up and Seth argues that he's not news. Ballon cries, Seth makes him feel better telling him nobody is blaming him. Oh yeah, it was all a hoax.



Update's third guest is Butler who appears explaining he wants to talk to his family who are watching live by satellite in his native Scottish tongue.  Seth agrees to interpret but gets some of the translation wrong such as noting "300" wasn't "great," but "gay" and his "New York moment" was "sleeping with a prostitute."



Last, but not least, Wiig appears as a woman who suffers chronic orgasms having had to deal with 200 screaming moments a day.  "Not as fun as you'd think," she insists. Then she starts to have one on the air and Wiig, who is probably the best physical comedian left on the cast, um, nails it out o the park.  Seth finishes with, 'Thank you for coming' getting an evil eye from his guest.



Grade: B - The guests were great, Seth's jokes were not.

Sparta's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy

Butler's back in familiar territory as King Leonidas of his blockbuster hit "300," but this time his army is wondering when he's going to live up to his campaign promise of allowing gays in the Sparta military (has there ever been such a gay episode without Andy Samberg somehow involved?). Leonidas can't believe there would be that many gay soldiers and finally bows to the pressure.  "If you're gay, feel free to raise your hand," Leonidas says. Almost all of them raise their hands. "OK, but seriously, who here is actually gay?"  Duh, it's "300," they all are.

Grade: B.  Funnier than it should have been, but died way too soon.

What's Up With That?

It's a new BET show with Deandre Cole (Thompson) where he tackles today's issues with soul.  Tonight's guests: environmental activist Leslie Ferer, James Franco (the real James Franco!) and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham.  The joke of the skit is that every time Cole wants to start a new topic he breaks into the show's catchy theme song 'What Up With That?" What makes it work is that Thompson can actually sing and the song is actually good. Gerard Butler appears as White Pete (I can't make this up) and then tries to seduce Ms. Ferer who is wondering what is going on. Honestly, impossible to do it justice.  I mean, Peekaboo Street randomly comes on stage as the scene descends into a funk inspired number. And no, Franco doesn't say one word during the entire sketch.

Grade: A- Only Thompson could make this rock, because he can actually sing. Kristen Wiig has her fans, but Thompson consistently saves the show week in and out.

Cottage Cheese Ad Pitch


Butler is Thomas, an advertising exec whose new assistant Trena (Wiig) interrupts his pitch to a cottage cheese company representative.  Trena appears numerous times and can't stop bugging "Thomas." Another one of those kooky Wiig characters that some love and others, um, don't.

Grade: C. Probably a reason it was at the end of the show.  And it's not good.

Shakira, "Did it Again"

She's back! And Shakira displays even more of her new pop sound which mixes a little bit of Lady Gaga dance with her established latin inspired percussion beats.  Not sure if the Asian drummers behind her were actually drumming, but it was an impressive spectacle. The end of the number finds her once more showing off her amazing flexibility as she bends over to bang some drums.

Grade: B+ No "She Wolf," but she proves she's now Gaga or Gwen Stefani copy cat.

Daveheart

The tale of "Braveheart," but from the perspective of William Wallace's younger brother Dave.  And, yep, he's history's biggest coward.

Grade: C+ Old recycled coward jokes, but worth a giggle or two.

Overall, the show was funnier than the Megan Fox premiere, but not by much.   At least Reynold's turn had some great guest stars and Gaga (not that Shakira didn't impress tonight).

Is it me or does the show seems as though it's paper thin when Samberg is missing (shooting a new movie maybe?) and without the always reliable Darryl Hammond who retired?  It's unclear if this is the result of a new economical "SNL," but Wiig, Thompson and Armisten haven't proved they can carry the franchise on their own.  We'll take a few weeks off to ponder and return to catch Taylor Swift host on Nov. 7.  Let's hope Kanye West doesn't try to crash this moment either.

What did you think of tonight's "SNL"?  Share your thoughts below.

<p>&nbsp;Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

 Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'Lost Girls'

Stefan takes Elena back to 1864 and Damon makes a new friend out of Vicki

 

Finally, it's Flashback Week on "Vampire Diaries!" Last week Elena figured out that her honey has fangs, but this week, shizz gets real. So, so real. In the best episode yet, truths are told, vampires are made, people die AND Ian Somerhalder dances around the living room with his shirt unbuttoned – what more can you ask for

[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 15) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Irina of 'Project Runway'</p>

 Irina of 'Project Runway'

Credit: Lifetime

Recap: 'Sequins, Feathers and Fur, Oh My!'

Bob Mackie and a special guest inspire the tackiest designs of the season

Let me just say that this week's "Project Runway" challenge should have been a home run (or at least a lot easier than dyeing crappy 1980s wedding dresses) for our intrepid designers, but instead it only results in some of the worst Stevie Nicks/Britney Spears bedazzled, craptastic leftovers you could ever imagine. But with a guest judge/sequinholic like Bob Mackie at the judges' table, you couldn't exactly expect subtlety and sophistication. I swear I'm crossing my fingers waiting for Tim to announce, in his sober and avuncular way, that one week's challenge will be dressing pre-op drag queens or street hookers, because that will not only be super fun, but really, a natural progression.

[Recap of Thursday (Oct. 15) night's "Project Runway" after the break...]

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

 Shambo of 'Survivor: Samoa'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Samoa' - 'Walking on Thin Ice'

A downpour, an eating challenge, flying coconuts and a strategy-free Tribal Council
Pre-credit Sequence. Seriously, after a full day of Balloon Boy, how can you just switch gears to "Survivor: Samoa"? If I figure out, I'll let you know.  It's Night 11 in Galu and they're returning from their first Tribal Council, one Yasmin down. Shambo didn't expect Yasmin's ouster and she's irked she was kept in the dark. She goes to sleep, hoping to regroup the next day. With her napping, the "90210" girls sit around the fire and reflect on how nice things are in her absence. Monica, annoyed that Shambo wrote her name down, wants to take Shambo out next. But what would Balloon Boy think?
 
[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 15) night's "Survivor: Samoa" after the break...]
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<p>&nbsp;Sundai of 'America's Next Top Model'</p>

 Sundai of 'America's Next Top Model'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Petite Ninja Warriors'

Tyra Banks sends her tiny models on go-sees and then strings them up on wires

Cue the faux hard rap music! "Top Model" is SO ON, b****es! Last week, someone-I-dunno got eliminated -- that's how scintillating and unforgettable she was -- and this week, the girls all get to do their obligatory wirework shoot. Now taking bets on who can't deal with heights.

And who will rise up as the next queen of cattiness, now that Bianca has been toppled.

"She has the social graces of a fetus," Kara hisses about Nicole.

Well, there's that, then.

[Full recap of Wednesday (Oct. 14) night's "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Hayden Panettiere of 'Heroes'</p>

 Hayden Panettiere of 'Heroes'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Heroes' - 'Hysterical Blindness'

As Claire desperately seeks normalcy, Sylar desperately seeks to remember his past

 

If tonight's episode of "Heroes" had its own super power, it would be the ability to put its audience to sleep before it was even over. Slow even by the show's own low standards, "Hysterical Blindness" didn't want me want to blind myself, but it certainly had me looking at the clock quite often. Wonder if Sylar could tell it was running a few seconds fast.

Let's break things down story by story. 

[Full recap of Monday's (Oct. 12) "Heroes" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Bryan Batt of 'Mad Men'</p>

 Bryan Batt of 'Mad Men'

Credit: AMC

Recap: 'Mad Men' -- 'Wee Small Hours'

Sterling Cooper deals with two angry clients, and Betty hosts a fundraiser to protect a secret

 

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. In the world of “Mad Men,” however, no one seems able to sleep, much less dream. The week featured haunted, exhausted, bloodshot eyes gazing at the world around them and trying to make sense of what they are seeing. And, as we all know, without proper rest we tend to not be our best. Maybe we do things before thinking. Maybe we make mistakes. Maybe we fall into old habits. 

[Full recap of Sunday night's "Mad Men" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Phil Keoghan of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

 Phil Keoghan of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' -- 'Sean Penn Cambodia Here We Come'

You can identify scarves and walk like a monkey, but without a passport, you can't race around the world
If tragedy is good television drama -- and "Brothers & Sisters" keeps trying to pretend it is -- then Sunday's (Oct. 11) episode of "The Amazing Race" was a very fine hour of TV.
 
If, however, you watch "The Amazing Race" for the teams you want to root for, or if you think that "tragedy" is much, much too strong a word for what transpired on Sunday's episode, then it was just a slightly sad and disappointing episode. 
 
Sunday's episode was the second consecutive week in which both the Roadblock and the Detour were easy enough that neither task actually impacted placement for the leg, which means that in the absence of the final twist, it might have been one of the show's dullest episodes to date, so the producers are probably relieved at The Really Bad Thing That Happened, because at least it gave them something to promote.
 
[Thoughts on Sunday's "Amazing Race" episode, with spoilers, after the break...]
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