Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
Another long day ended for Jack Bauer, but what went down in the last two hours of Day Seven?
For a show so frequently mocked, criticized and/or praised for being ideologically right-leaning, how surprising to discover that the seventh season finale for FOX's "24" would be all about the freedom of choice.
It sure wasn't about excitement or twists or action-based cliffhangers, or even about justice, or at least not justice for all. It was a very peculiar season-ender for a show like "24," but maybe not so peculiar if you consider that several seasons have now ended with Jack in full existential crisis. Those finales have always been somewhat less embraced than the show's more conclusive endings, though, so I'm guessing there will be some rather great disapproval from some segment of the fanbase.
Me? I was amused, because Monday's (May 18) finale was almost "Grey's Anatomy"-esque in terms of how hard the writers worked to make sure that the thematic points hit home. I almost expected the producers to whip out some over-expressive Imogen Heap or Shins song over the closing credits to seal the deal.
[Thoughts on the season's last two episodes after the break...]
Who will shine for the final round?
Kelly Monaco. Brooke Burke. Kristi Yamaguchi. Helio Castronevers. Drew Lachey. Emmit Smith. Apolo Anton Ohno.
Tonight, the artists formerly known as an Olympic gymnast, a scorned reality TV star, and that guy who showered outside Samantha's house in the "Sex and the City" movie, now known as finalists on the second most popular reality television series in the U.S., will fight to join the forgettable ranks of those seven people, as the eighth winner of "Dancing With The Stars."
Tom tells us that if you add up all the scores from the season, Gilles has a 17 point lead over Melissa and Shawn (the gymnast) . But tonight, Tom affirms, we start at zero. And this is how it goes down... Because "The Bachelorette" is premiering at 9, the episode will be condensed into an hour, with one "faceoff" performance, and one freestyle performance.
Would JT and Stephen stick together til the end, or would strategy get in the way?
Pre-credit sequence. It's Night 36 in Forza, as the Final Four returns to camp, celebrating their 1-in-4 chance at a million bucks (a statistical proposition which is, as always, totally specious). JT is feeling good that he kept his word to Coach and voted for Erinn, as he admits that he's been thinking about jury votes. Stephen is also aware that JT now looks like the loyal ally, while he'll look like a villain, like the man who betrayed Coach (which kinda ought to be a plus, if you ask me). Stephen acknowledges that loyalty is one thing, but a bigger thing is who he can beat in the Final Two to win a million dollars. Is this the first crack in the JT/Stephen bromance? Say it ain't so! If Stephen and JT break up, it'll be the most miserable reality TV breakup since tensions rose between Dustin and Kandace on "The Amazing Race."
[Results and an endless recap of Sunday (May 17) night's "Survivor: Tocanatins" finale...]
Erinn and Coach compete to see which of them will be the Last of Timbira
Pre-credit sequence. Debbie is gone. Will anybody notice? Coach is a little bit relieved, after seeing his name written down at Tribal Council. JT and Stephen cleverly lead Coach to believe, somewhat correctly, that Debbie had been orchestrating his demise and that they protected him. "I'm like the lamb led to the slaughterhouse," Coach sighs, interpreting the action of the other players as a counter-attack to save Coach. "This is the first time in this game where I'm almost speechless. Almost." Coach is grateful, but he's also smart enough to realize that he's no longer in control in the game and that his actual elimination could be coming at any moment.The clip ends with Coach seemingly crying on JT's shoulder in gratitude, relief or general dementia.
[Full recap of Thursday (May 14) night's "Survivor: Tocantins" after the break...]
In which the game changes, we finally meet Jacob, and everyone speaks a little destiny
Next season starts when? January? Okay, all I need is enough Ambien to keep me knocked out from now until "Avatar" comes out. A month of that will keep me busy until "Lost" returns, smack dab in the middle of Sundance next year. And frankly, after the enormous punch in the groin that was the last minute of this year's season finale, that might be the only way I am able to handle the wait until the show's final run of episodes finally begins.
This week started huge and then just got bigger with each scene. The first thing we see is the distant past. Is that the Black Rock we see out there on the ocean? I think it is. But more importantly, we see the entire statue, complete with Osiris head, and we meet Jacob, who apears to be locked in a war of the wills with another "person" like him.
And I say "person" because I have a strong feeling that Jacob and his not-remotely-a-friend can't really be called people in any conventional sense. And while I think Richard Alpert was human at one point, he's not anymore. He's whatever they are, or he's closer to them at least. They've obviously done something to him that has permanently altered him, and it appears to be something they can do to anyone. And what's all this talk of "a loophole"? Are we hearing that there are indeed ways to break the rules? And if so... which rules are we talking about again?
We're getting ahead of the show, though. And in an episode that is as jammed full of information as this one was, it doesn't pay to skip around. We should discuss what happened, and in some sort of order, or we're never going to get through this one. There are things that run through the entire episode, like Jacob appearing in the lives of many of the 815 survivors when they were younger. The first one with Kate is intriguing, and it sets up some major implications. The idea that Jacob had picked these people in their youth suggests that there are no accidents, that nothing was random about those people being involved in filght 815. Or maybe it just means that Jacob, who is unstuck in time, used his knowledge of the future to pick out the people who would play such a large role in the life of the Island, just to see who they were.
[more after the jump]
Allison, Aminat and Teyona faced off for Tyra's love. America's Next Top Model is...
Alas, your regular "America's Next Top Model" recap, the inestimable Leslie Gornstein, is unable to be here tonight due to the fact that no matter what "Fringe" or "Lost" may have led you to believe, it's currently only possible to exist on a single plane of reality at one time and Leslie's currently plane of reality is, fittingly (but inconveniently), an airplane.
That leaves me to break the news of which model was dubbed most fierce by Tyra Banks, Noted Photographer Nigel Barker, Ms. Jay and The Reportedly Fired Paulina Porizkova.
Let's just say that while I was completely satisfied with the way the "American Idol" voting went down this evening, my favorite model was not vindicated in Wednesday (May 13) night's finale.
Results, with spoilers obviously, after the break...
Everybody loves Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey and Kris Allen, but somebody had to go home
9:00 p.m. We begin Wednesday (May 13) night's "American Idol" with an extended and mostly unfunny commercial for "Night at the Museum 2," reminding viewers, once again, that Ben Stiller is never good on "American Idol." And yet they keep bringing him back. Bill Hader, though, is a bit funnier. And Hank Azaria's Simon Cowell impression is dismal. And Jonah Hill? Sigh. But it's better than Stiller and Hill's interstitial appearances on NBC last Thursday. "Night at the Museum" was a huge hit. Should the studio really be seeming so desperate?
9:01 p.m. At this time last year, we were just twiddling our thumbs waiting for Syesha Mercado to be sacrificed, setting up the David vs. David Finale we'd been promised for months. Tonight? I don't have a clue who's going home.
[Find out who came up just short of the Finals, after the break...]
Is this Ty and Chelsie's final night?
Here we go. Ten couples are gone. Four couples are left, one of which - Gilles & Cheryl - are coming off a double perfect 30 performance last night, and another - Ty & Chelsie - coming in the serious rear with just a 48 point combined. It seems clear what's going to happen, but I'm fearful of ever being confident again after Lil' Kim's elimination last week (things truly aren't the same without her).
After Raphael Saadiq and the Raphael Saadiq dancers open the show (it ain't Tony! Toni! Tone!), Shawn & Mark recreate their perfect 30 quickstep with the same energy and complexity they showed last night (too bad for their not-so-perfect 26 on their second dance last night).
And then, we head down pointless montage lane: former "Stars" (ha) Helio Castroneves, Drew Lachey and Brooke Burke give us words of wisdom from their experiences on the show, and critique this year's dancers. There's nothing revelatory about anything any of them say, and it mostly falls in the vein of lame quotes from the F-list trio: "It's not just the best dancer than wins," Burke advises. "It's who America loves!"
Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey are consistent, but Kris delivers the night's best and worst
We're down to the Top Three -- or "The Three Amigos" -- on "American Idol," a round which has always seen three performances apiece from the remaining contestants. Not this season. Not this "American Idol" production team. Instead, we're being treated to only two songs, one chosen by the judges and one chosen by the guys themselves. And even with only six performances, the episode is already scheduled to run at least four minutes into the next hour.
How did Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert do? Click through...
Can anybody keep up with Gilles and his perfect 60?
A bunch of non-celebrity dancers usher in the semi-finals of this, the eighth season of "Dancing With The Stars," with a wink-wink-nudge performance to The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Stay Or Should I Go?"
Though as the four remaining "stars" come down the stairs with their prof, its remarkably evident: Ty should go. He should have gone last week instead of Lil' Kim, and it would be ridiculous if he stays here past Gilles, Shawn or Melissa.
Tom lets us know there's once again two dances this week - a ballroom round and a latin round - and then shows us how an episode with just 8 dances can turn into a 2-hour program. We'll now have 4 minute videos in which the dancers each reminisce via voiceover upon a few of their "breakthrough ballroom and latin dances." It plays like a poor man's DVD extra, and it's going to be 8:45 before we even see anyone dance live (though I'll admit it's fun to see what turns into a "best of" Gilles' shirtless moments).
I wasn't that far off with 8:45. Finally, at 8:31, we get to the dances:
[Recap after the break...]