<p>Russell of 'Big Brother 11'</p>

Russell of 'Big Brother 11'

Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother 11' Tuesday Premiere: The guinea pigs pop zits

In which 'technotronics' isn't a word, squeezing whiteheads is good and begging is rewarded

I'm sure there was a lesson to Tuesday (July 14) night's Very Special Bastille Day episode of "Big Brother," but I'm struggling to find it. Yes, there's something about how if you grub and flirt and whine, you'll get your way and you can think of it as strategy. Or maybe there's something about how the worst thing that can possibly happen on "Hermano Grande" is to be considered likable and easy going. Or maybe the most important lesson is that it's better to spell a stupid word correctly than to invent a big word and spell it wrong?

Really, though, I got one thing and one thing only out of "Big Brother" on Thursday: WASH YOUR FACE. For the love of all that's holy, use soap and water, use Noxema, use Stridex medicated pads. Don't be a slave to greasy build-up, kids, or CBS is going to have reality contestants dig through your pores for fun and profit. 


[A recap of Tuesday's "Big Brother," at least the important details, after the break...]

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<p>Alexander Skarsg&aring;rd of 'True Blood'</p>

Alexander Skarsgård of 'True Blood'

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'True Blood' - 'Shake and Fingerpop'

Bill and Sookie head to Dallas on a mission and meet, among other people, Barry the Bellhop

Plunk on that git-tar, long may she twang! It's the opening theme music that signals yet another new episode of "True Blood"! For our theme singer, not much has changed; he still wants to do bad thangs with yoooooo. But for our main characters, including Jason Stackhouse, the world is rapidly becoming very different. Last season Jason was feckless, just feckless. But now he's becoming not just a big-time vampire hater but a leader among big-time vampire haters. You know, the vampire haters? The ones what love Jesus but want to flatten the unnatural bloodsuckers amongst us? Right. Those. When a few of them try to prank Jason in the beginning of the episode, he socks a dude in the nose.

[Full recap of Sunday (July 12) night's "True Blood" after the break...]

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<p>Chima of 'Big Brother 11'</p>

Chima of 'Big Brother 11'

Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother 11' Sunday Premiere: Two guinea pigs go up for eviction

In which Jessie teases the Nerds, one team faces The Worst Week Ever and Laura wonders why nobody likes her

Just want to state this up front – when Laura the trashy bikini model says everyone hates her because of the way she looks, I'd like to say that's only half true. Personally, I do hate her, but I hate her because she had the unmitigated gall to say something like that, not because of the way she looks. Any bimbo can buy plastic boobs, crazypants.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's get down to business. After all, that's exactly what they're doing in the Big Brother house. Once previous contestant Jessie walks in the door as HOH and the Brains and the Off-Beat commence quietly freaking out, it's clearly game on, and our little guinea pigs are running around in a state of smiley-faced panic.

Off-Beat Kevin, of course, can't even fake that he's okay with Jessie, though his teammate Lydia goes into suck-up hysteria mode almost immediately, giggling and mooning over him like a starving P.O.W. desperate for a crust of bread from a sadistic guard. If Jessie is snowed by a woman who clearly seems to be fighting her own gag reflex to tell him he's "epic" and a potential stand-in for Zeus, well... actually, he really is dumb and egotistical, so it might work fine. You go, Lydia. Just try not to throw up on his shoes.

Brain Ronnie, like Lydia, is desperately trying to kiss Jessie's ass, going so far as to tell Jessie he's excited he's in the house because no one else has expressed interest in doing "a workout thing." I'm not sure what Ronnie means by that, except maybe he's thinking of a workout including stuffing your face with Twinkies or exercising your thumb muscles for longer XBox 360 play. The guy literally looks like he's one step away from his muscles and skeleton dissolving from lack of use and becoming a human version of a boneless chicken breast. Nice try, Ronnie.

But Ronnie doesn't get a no from Jessie when he makes a daring proposal for the athletes and the brains to join forces, which actually makes a certain amount of sense. And, while Jessie seems quietly disgusted by Ronnie's oozing geekiness, he does appear to seriously mull this over. Thank God Ronnie left his natterings on about rebel alliances and other Star Wars nonsense for the interview room though, because Jessie probably would not have been able to contain his natural bullying instinct and would have given Ronnie a brain-damaging noogie.

After this fleeting moment of strategic gameplay, we get to eavesdrop on the housemates whining about their high school years. Ronnie hated high school – surprise! Popular Jordan, who seems to be either a chronic stoner or possibly not the brightest bulb, liked everybody and everybody liked her, which really suggests she wasn't paying attention.

Lydia and Kevin didn't like high school either, but Lydia is full of helpful ideas on how Kevin can bond with Jessie. She suggests Kevin tell Jessie he can clearly see he's a man of substance (which he's NOT) and he isn't the musclehead egotist he seems to be (although he IS) and they really have so much in common (which they DON'T). Kevin, not surprisingly, doesn't seem all that convinced by Lydia's pitch, but the poor girl actually seems to have tried so hard to convince herself Jessie is something other than a complete tool she's taken a mind-altering slug from the crazy Kool-Aid. Oh, yeah.

But I will say Jessie has moments of surprising lucidity, when he isn't ripping off his shirt and hooting like a mental patient and kissing his own muscles. He points out that being HOH is like kissing your best friend's girlfriend, which is initially hot and exciting but can have serious repercussions. Which he probably learned the hard way.

When Jessie can't get Jeff to pick a sucker for him to evict, he finds his soul mate in Russell, who is just as determined to win at any cost as he is. Surprisingly, Russell thinks the biggest threat is... Lydia. So, all that kissing up may be pretty useless for her, which is a shame, because I think she's brainwashed herself into believing she's in love with the lunkhead.

Following in Lydia's footsteps, Laura also tries to kiss Jessie's ass by saying he's the best looking guy in the house, which causes him to immediately distrust her. Which is a bit of a shock, since I would have assumed he'd just grunt, grab her by the hair and drag her off to his HOH room, but go figure.

It's only when Jessie and Natalie play chess and Natalie emerges as an incredibly childish sore loser that we discover the true way to win Jessie's heart, which is by refusing to shake his hand and threatening to take him out. He even says she's a "baller" and he sees many of the same (disgusting) qualities in her that he sees in himself. Oh, love.

Later, Natalie tells Jessie she's down with the Ronnie alliance, but things only get interesting when Jessie, Ronnie, Natalie and Chima have a powwow. Natalie suggests that the best way to cover up their alliance is for one of the brains to be a pawn. Ronnie eagerly throws Michele under the bridge, then suggests that Chima, who's none too thrilled with the idea, take the fall. It's a dangerous negotiation, but hey, this game just got interesting!

Then, it's time for a competition. Jessie, wearing ridiculous hot pink wrestling leggings, explains that the losers of the first-even Have And Have Not competition will have to endure a "grueling" week of the worst conditions ever, which sounds scary enough. But not nearly as scary as everyone being dressed in neon war paint, which gave me bad ‘80s flashbacks.

The contest is to make "your psychedelic wheel spin" by piping juice to it, which seemed like a lock for the Brains. Especially when Popular Jordan explained that describing a joint as being at 180 degrees wasn't "speaking English" while Braden said that the task required "a lot of physics." Sigh. Of course, a Brains win would be assuming the Brains weren't totally clumsy and incapable of communicating, and they, of course, lose miserably.

For this shameful act of loser dorkiness, they were told they have to eat gruel for a week, suffer through cold showers and sleep in a crappy bedroom, which sent Princess Chima off on a pouty baby fit, although it was hard to blame her once we saw the "insane asylum" bedroom. But she really didn't need to prattle on about her diva self. I'm guessing at this point, Jessie is really rethinking the whole Brains alliance if he was ever serious about it in the first place.

Then, we have an unnecessary bikini contest, which only gives Jessie an opportunity to tell us whatever Laura is selling he isn't buying, which may have something to do with the fact she looks a little like Seabiscuit. Jessie instead invites Lydia to give him a back massage, and is actually resistant to putting her up for elimination when Russell and Natalie urge him to name her, which makes me think... he kinda likes her? OMG, this is SO "Pretty in Pink"!

Oh... well, actually, no. Chima doesn't get a key, and neither does Lydia, who promptly bursts into tears. Jessie, of course, shrugs off the whole debacle, saying something about backstabbing being part of the game and outrunning bears. Alright, that's more like high school!

Do you think Lydia should have been put up for elimination? Do you think Princess Chima will be the first to go? And do you think Jessie plans to betray the Brains?


<p>Jordan of 'Big Brother 11'</p>

Jordan of 'Big Brother 11'

Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother 11' Premiere - Meet the Guinea Pigs

In which the shut-ins are divided into cliques and a familiar face reenters the game

Thursday (July 9) was Get To Know Your Guinea Pigs Night, as the 11th installment of "Big Brother" began on CBS. It's a new season of "Hermano Grande," and as with every new season of "Hermano Grande," it promises to be the season where the rules have all changed, where the strategy is brand new, where anything can happen.

But beloved host Julie Chen left no doubt from the beginning why this season of "Big Brother" is different from all other seasons, teasing, "Whether you're expecting the unexpected or just... expecting...." Then she coyly glanced down at her own midsection. 

Get it? 

That's right, America. No matter who actually wins "Big Brother 11," Julie Chen is going to make sure that we remember this as the season she expanded before our very eyes and she wanted to make clear that if we notice her clothes becoming increasingly ill-fitting, she isn't letting herself go. No, she's expecting a child and as befits her newfound status, the Julie Chen we saw tonight was more modest and, dare we say it, "maternal," wearing an outfit that covered one of her shoulders, shattering her previous record for "Most Unexposed Shoulders," which had stood at "zero" since the show's inception.

These recaps will take more structure once the season actually begins and episodes establish a common pattern. Thursdays, with results and Head of Household competitions, will probably go with a minute-by-minute format, allowing me to get the recaps and results into the ether in record time. That was too difficult for this week, both because nobody was eliminated and because I had to keep going back to the CBS website to see how many l's are in "Michele" (one), the correct spelling of "Chima" (C-H-I-M-A) and which of the otherwise unremarkable slabs of beefcake are Braden (Spicoli-esque surfer-dude), Jeff (Chicago accent) and Russell (would probably beat me to a pulp if we ever met).

[Recap/reflections on the "Big Brother 11" premiere after the break...]

As has already circulated the Internet, this year's "Big Brother" theme has something to do with high school cliques, but just in case the contestants weren't avid viewers of "Mean Girls," "10 Things I Hate About You" or "Gossip Girl," the casting directors eyed stars whose memorials of secondary education were still fresh. While "Big Brother" has been known to occasionally cast the odd crotchety grandpa or wacky great-aunt, this season's most geriatric shut-in is Casey Turner, a teacher from Florida. Almost before anybody had learned his name and certainly before the contestants had been regaled with his stories of being a trailblazer in the early days of hip-hop, Casey was begging his comrades not to target him because of his advanced age. 

Casey is 41. 

The only other shut-in over the age of 30 is the aforementioned Chima, who has found the perfect venue for her freelance journalism skills, especially in this economy.

As if it weren't bad enough that most of the houseguests missed the Carter Administration, 24-year-old Natalie Martinez decided her best strategy would be to pretend to be 18, fresh out of high school.

The gimmick for the season goes like this: The players were divided into four traditional high school cliques, the Athletes, the Brains, the Popular Crowd and the Off-Beat kids. Personally, I went to a high school where the popular kids *were* the athletes, but this tautology was lost on the "Big Brother" producers. The teams will still be completing overall as individuals and Head of Household will still be and individual read as well. The catch is that the Head of Household's entire clique is immune from elimination.

It might have been interesting for the players, with only minimal information at their disposals, to vote each other into different cliques, make a statement about the way people respond to first impressions. Instead, the producers assigned the players themselves. Since the producers decided nearly identically how how the players doubtfully would have divided themselves, it was an opportunity missed. Almost none of the splitting was surprising.

Your teams:

Athletes: Russell, the MMA fighter, Jeff, the former college football player, and Natalie, who had hoped to avoid admitting to being a martial arts powerhouse, were probably the only choices for this group and they swiftly fulfilled all manner of stereotype. Beefy Russell sneered at nerdy gamer Ronnie and seemed only able to relate to guys on a biceps-to-biceps level. Jeff had all of the gals swooning and fanning themselves like sweaty Southern belles in a John Grisham potboiler. And Natalie, who tried so hard to be unassuming in her early introduction, proceeded to get a hormonal rush in the night's challenge, taunting all of her rivals, causing even Russell to shy away and call her "wild."

Popular: Not-so-bright waitress Jordan, easy-going Braden and silicon implant display model Laura were all the easiest bets for the popular group. Bubbly and blonde, Jordan fits a mold that the producers have used to guarantee a showmance in recent years, even though she insisted that there would be no hanky-panky, or "booger," saying "No booger, cuz people are watching." I liked how Braden explained his name as "Braden, like Braid-in-your hair," as if he had the world's most exotic appellation. I'd expect when he first wins Head of Household, his luxury basket will include his favorite bong, a glass contraption he called Conchita. And Laura? She's going to be one of those contestants who sees the show as an excuse to sprawl, bikini-clad, in front of every available camera in the house so that, at the very least, Hustler might come calling (she isn't pretty enough for Playboy).

Brains: Michele, the neuroscientist, and Ronnie, the gamer, have dark hair and glasses. What other clique were they going to be in? Chima is the third brain and she was one of only two contestants to display an iota of confusion or disappointment at her categorization. Seeing her place in the "Hermano Grande" hierarchy, she pouted, "I'll have you know that I was also popular. I wasn't a dork."

Off-Beat: Hmmm... Kevin's flamboyantly gay and loves scarves. Lydia's a makeup artist willing to hook up with men or women to get ahead in the game. They bonded immediately, with Lydia crowing "He's kinda like my Ducky and I'd be his Molly." It's no wonder that after one episode, they're the only two contestants I like. Yes, Kevin's a walking stereotype, but he also   managed to simultaneously mock Laura for her fake boobs and Christina for lying about her age without seeming unlikeable. They're joined by The Old Guy, Casey. He's off-beat because he's old, though he also acknowledged being a clown. Nothing he said in the premiere was funny, but that doesn't mean he won't get funny, especially if we get to see him rap.

But there was one last twist. The original CBS announcement had 12 contestants and one blank space. As the four cliques began their challenge,  The Wedgie, they were told that the winning team would get immunity, but nobody would get HoH. Instead, one of four new players would enter the game. 

As we were told, the four players were "favorites" from past seasons representing each of the archetypes. Muscle-bound Jessie, even huger than last season, represented the Athletes. Brian, first out last season after basically masterminding his own demise, represented Brains. Jessica, who fell for America's Player in "Big Brother 8" was Popular. And Michael "Cowboy" Ellis from "Big Brother 5" was the Outsider. 

The Athletes won the challenge, which was about endurance and strength, and Jessie's back in the game. For reasons I don't quite get, everybody made a good show of being enthusiastic at his return. Me? Meh. I'd have preferred Brian's hubris, Cowbody's eccentricities or Jessica's willingness to hook up.

So that's the report form the "Hermano Grande" premiere. 


Which guinea pig is your favorite? Which clique are you rooting for? And how long do you think before Jordan and Jeff are boogering up a storm?


<p>Melissa Sandvig of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

Melissa Sandvig of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Five Results

From Jeanine to Phillip to Melissa to Ade to Caitlin to Jason, some favorites dance for their lives

Okay, Cat fooled me. I was wondering if maybe she'd pinned up her hair yesterday, but then it looked like she'd really hacked it off when she did the 180 spin, so, unless tonight she's rocking a blonde wig, she fooled me. Which may account for why it looked like crap. Cat looks great with long, glossy locks, so why screw with that? But in happier news, her little blue mini dress with the Indian bodice detail has a fun, summery vibe and I'm desperately hoping the costume designer for the show just lets her keep hitting the knits, which look relaxed, instead of trying to pimp her out like a Wal-Mart Barbie.

But I digress. Cat gave a shout-out to Nigel because it's his b-day, then Nigel had the unhappy task of telling all the Michael Jackson fans in the audience that either Sony or the family wouldn't give the show clearance on the MJ songs they wanted to use for a tribute show, so that was scratched. Although honestly, if I see one more Michael Jackson related anything I may actually gouge out my eyes with a spoon. No offense.

Next, Cat gets to the really serious business of the night, which is taking the dreams of two dancers and stomping on them like overripe grapes. Mary tells the audience they'd better be voting or she'll come to their homes and scream in their ears like a rabid jaybird, or something like that, and Toasty Oreo  tells the dancers they need to be warriors, which they all probably already knew.

Finally, it's time to get to the nitty gritty. Who's safe and who's potentially screwed?

[Full recap of Thursday (July 9) night's "So You Think You Can Dance," including results, after the break...]

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Brandon Bryant

Brandon Bryant of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Five Performances

Would Jeanine survive her last week with Phillip? Could anyone compete with Jeanette and Brandon?

So Cat cut her hair... which, apparently, the audience needed to applaud for ten minutes. Really? Because it doesn't look that good. Sure, it works with a period dress and dark lipstick, but I suspect it just looks like a frizzy mess without the retro hair clip. Seriously, it looks like one of those "This a-hole I was dating dumped me and you know what? I need to do something DRASTIC" moves that every woman ends up regretting. Hang in there, Cat.

Tyce DiOrio is on the judges' panel, which is exciting, because it means I can call him Toasty Oreo again and again and again. It's the little things that make me happy.

Of course, I didn't have much time to enjoy that, because everyone's cramming in two dances tonight, so the show pretty much threw the kids on the dance floor, pumped up the music, and got going, pronto.

[Recap of Wednesday (July 8) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" performances after the break...]

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<p>Phillip Chbeeb of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

Phillip Chbeeb of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Four Results

We've been waiting for Phillip to go home for weeks now... Would somebody else pop ahead of him again?

Okay, let’s all say it together: “I hate Thursday!” Or maybe we should try Cat’s new twist, a jolly-but-sarcastic, “Thursdays, don’t you just love ‘em?” Either way, it’s elimination day.

First off, kinda loved the opening number, which gave us a topical Michael Jackson reference (“Brand New Day” from “The Wiz”), a taste of Toasty Oreo and some very “Cats”-like choreography. Whoo hoo!

Before we get to the good and bad news, can I just ask one question? Did Cat really say PAZ de deux? Really? But the good news is that the girl actually looked relaxed and sexy instead of like a Wal-Mart Barbie, which has to count for something, even if she was in a tin foil toga. But girlfriend, totally the wrong shoes. Take one of those inappropriate black pumps and drive the heel into the costume designer’s eyeball. Seriously, why is Fox incapable of dressing a gorgeous woman?

[Results for Thursday (July 2) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]

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<p>Melissa Sandvig of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

Melissa Sandvig of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Four Performances

Melissa and Ade shine again, while Kayla and Kupono tap into a 'Twilight' vein

So hey, July 23rd, Katie Holmes hoofing it up to Judy Garland! And tomorrow night, Kelly Clarkson! Whoo hoo! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind.

Alright, I know this little dance contest is all about building the tension and the drama. I know they whipped out the Wagner because Cailtin and Jason danced to it the week before. But it’s a little crazy melodramatic to start off the show prattling on about the many lives lost, the epic battle to achieve and how it’s all come down to this, the final... 14. Um, that’s still a lot of people. Note to Fox: don’t blow your wad this early. When it’s down to, say, 8, what are you going to do? You’re actually going to have to shoot someone at the beginning of the show, because that’s about the only thing that’s going to impress us after you wear us down with the Most Important Show Ever crap. Just saying.

[Full recap of Wednesday (July 1) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]

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<p>Deborah Ann Woll of 'True Blood'</p>

Deborah Ann Woll of 'True Blood'

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'True Blood' - 'Scratch My Back'

In which we learn you can't trust a vampire, there's something creepy in the woods and Mary-Ann throws the best parties

When a human becomes a vampire, several terrible things happen at once: The person becomes undead, develops a craving for blood and discovers a profound enjoyment for glaring and staring off into the middle distance. This episode has plenty of all of that.

[Recap of Sunday (June 28) night's "True Blood" after the break...]

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<p>Caitlin Kinney of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

Caitlin Kinney of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Three Results

How long would repeat offenders like Caitlin, Asuka, Jonathan and Karla stave off elimination?


Nice dead palm tree halter pantsuit, Cat. Seriously, who dresses this woman? Are they visually impaired, and do they have an under-the-table deal with Wal-Mart? I've seen better quality fabric on napkins at Dennys. But I guess it takes a special talent to make a tall, glamorous Englishwoman look like a low-rent drag queen, so hey, hats off to them.

[Recap of Thursday (June 25) night's "So You Think You Can Dance," complete with results, after the break.

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