Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
NBC's hit turns in a less-than-thrilling hour
We’re slightly more than halfway through the Battle Rounds on “The Voice”. With only three steals remaining, there isn’t much in the way of strategy left for the four coaches. Then again, “strategy” hasn’t been the name of the game thus far in this phase of the competition. Still, there have been a surprisingly high number of good pairings thus far, with the lesser ones shunted off into montage-form for our benefit. Tonight’s one-hour installment will take us that much closer to The Knockout Rounds. Early favorites in that round already include Trevin Hunte, Amanda Brown, and Nicholas Davis. Will anyone join that upper tier tonight? Only one way to find out. As always, I’ll be recapping the show in real time.
It takes a while, but Monday's episode features some standouts
After one week of Battle Rounds, “The Voice” now has slightly over a quarter of the forty contestants that will participate in the next phase in the competition. So we have about three weeks left of people scream-singing at each other or working together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. So far, the judges haven’t exactly grasped the concept of this season’s twist, with both CeeLo Green and Adam Levine leaving themselves wide open to having one of their strongest team members swiped by a competing coach via The Steal. Let’s see if the superstars get any smarter about their pairings as the Battle Rounds continue. And let’s see who will be the first contestant indignant about his or her partner.
It’s another 2-hour installment tonight, so we should see quite a few pairings before the night is through. Let’s see what Green, Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton have up their sleeves tonight. Spoiler alert: I’m guessing the final battle of the night will be the most dramatic. I just…have…a hunch. As always, I’ll be jotting down my thoughts in real time.
Could 'SNL' bounce back after a weak episode?
Christina Applegate prepares to host "Saturday Night Live"
The good news? There’s little place for “Saturday Night Live
” to go but up after last week’s Daniel Craig-hosted debacle. The fault lay not with Craig but the way the show used him. Rather than using his stoic persona to comic ends, the show bent over backwards to portray him as a wacky guy. It didn’t work, and the show (as well as its audience) suffered as a result. Hopefully, “SNL” has more of an idea what to do with tonight’s host, Christina Applegate
. A gifted comic actress, Applegate last hosted the show in 1993 during the middle of her run on “Married…With Children”. Since then, she’s dealt with a dead babysitter, Ron Burgundy’s jazz flute, and countless other fictional conundrums. Along for the ride with her tonight is musical guest Passion Pit
As always, I’ll be grading each sketch in real time. As always, you shouldn’t worry too much about the grades. As always, most of you will violently overreact. It’s just a thing that happens round these parts each Saturday night. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The show takes a step back as the rebels seek to take a step forward
After a strong second outing, this week’s “Fringe
” faltered as it set out on the first of what promises to be several outings dedicated to the scavenger hunt established in “In Absentia”. Well, if all outings are as poorly executed as this one, I think we might be second-guessing the show’s decision to go down this route. It’s more likely that “The Recordist
” will be an outlier rather than standard operating procedure over the final ten episodes of the series. But who knows? I didn’t expect last week to knock my socks off, and I didn’t expect this episode to bore me to near tears. Surprises are fun. Until they aren’t.
Tonight’s episode opens on Astrid lasering the wall of amber in Walter’s former laboratory. Inside they find the third of a still-unknown number of tapes, since Walter went so far as to leave the video evidence of his plan against The Observers out-of-sequence. The tape reveals coordinates in a wooded area of Northern Pennsylvania. What do our heroes have to do there? No one knows, but the Bishop Boys, Olivia, and Etta head out anyways and leave Astrid behind to slowly piece together the rest of the damaged message. Had the episode been stronger overall, I wouldn’t have constantly wondered, “Why didn’t they simply wait until they had the tape deciphered before leaving in the first place?” I understand that time is nominally of the essence, but it certainly seemed like the five of them had full run of the place without fear of Observer detection.
From a very special guest star to a violent attack, just another week in Charming
Theo Rossi, Charlie Hunnam, David Labrava and Tommy Flanagan in 'Sons of Anarchy'
Gemma: "Not a lot of grey in this life sweetheart. Extremes become average."
Tara: "I'm not sure I find that comforting."
Gemma: "You're not supposed to."
"Sons of Anarchy" certainly went to extremes this week. From a jaw-dropping bit of stunt casting so ridiculous you had to love it, to a tragic burst of violence too predictable by half, "Orca Shrugged" wasn't lacking in big events. But the problem of making a show that lives on extremes is that those extremes can become average. And while this episode was an improvement over last week, it still wasn't anything special.
Several showcase Battles mark the second night of singing conflict
The calm before the Battle for Melanie and Caitlin on Tuesday's "The Voice"
Last night saw the first series of Battle Rounds that involved “The Steal,” and it certainly made this phase of “The Voice” more enjoyable than in past seasons. If that twist does nothing except set up a potential finale involving Trevin Hunte and Amanda Brown, then this addition has done its job. Without that twist, we’d have a sour taste in our mouths after CeeLo Green chose Hunte. Instead? We have a ready-made storyline that can potentially carry into the final moments of the season. If you think producers won’t do everything humanly possible to keep those two around, you’re crazy. That’s not to say the show will be rigged. But keeping these two as far apart as long as possible will only create buzz around the possible rematch down the line.
But for now, we must continue through the Battle Rounds themselves. We have only seen six of the thirty-two battles that will unfold over the next few weeks, and six steals are still in play. Let’s see what Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine have planned for their teams in tonight’s one-hour installment. Let’s get tonight’s live blog going. As always, I’ll be jotting down my thoughts in real time.
How would the Steal impact the revamped Battle Round?
Was this the best "Voice" Battle EVER?
With blind auditions finally over, it’s time to move onto the next phase of “The Voice”: the Battle Rounds. This phase of the time will see this season’s big twist in the form of “The Steal.” (No, I don’t know if the show will have some anonymous woman croon “This is The Steal!” after each commercial break.) Each coach will get two steals, which should theoretically alter how each coach will pair up his or her team members during this phase of the game. I say “theoretically” because it’s just as likely that Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, CeeLo Green, and Adam Levine will inadvertently screw themselves over during this part of “The Voice” as help themselves. Another new feature, “Knockout Rounds”, will eventually shrink this current field of 64 down before the start of the live broadcasts. When will those broadcasts start? Sometime before the next Olympics, ostensibly.
Would James Bond and the recent debate give 'SNL' good material?
Daniel Craig, Muse and Bill Hader of "Saturday Night Live"
The brief, two-week run of “Saturday Night Live
” Thursday specials ended rather ignominiously last week, with the second and finale installment lacking any apparent need to exist outside NBC’s desire to push back the return of “30 Rock”. If NBC wanted to air those “Weekend Update” specials as a way to capitalize on the current election season, surely they would have opted to air one on the night immediately after the first debate. It wasn’t a bad half-hour, but it was incredibly unnecessary. And given how necessary “SNL” has historically been during the peak of the presidential races, that seems like a shame.
In any case, we’re back tonight with host Daniel Craig and musical guest Muse
. James Bond-inspired humor will undoubtedly be on the plate, but I hope I’m not alone in yearning for some sort of “Layer Cake” parody tonight. Because that movie is AWESOME. It’s a long shot, but still not as long as all of you completely agreeing with my grades for tonight’s sketches. As always, I’ll be assessing them in real time. Let’s get down to (British) business, shall we?
The show finds its future stride by slowing things down
A funny thing happened on the way to the “Fringe
” forum: the show turned in one of its strongest episodes in recent memory.
Last week, I worried about the way the show was exchanging its internal focus for an external one. “Fight The Future” just doesn’t have quite the same personal ring as “Fight For Loved Ones”, which was the show’s previous standard MO. But if last week’s premiere saw our heroes lost in the shuffle of a new world order and an avalanche of exposition, “In Absentia
” brought things down to a far more human-scaled affair. When “Fringe” gets small, the rewards are often big.
The question isn't who broke up, it's who didn't?
Jayma Mays and Matthew Morrison on "Glee"
"Glee" has pushed all sorts of emotional buttons for me in the past, so why did "The Break-Up" leave me dry-eyed and irritated? Am I grumpy? Heartless? Horrible?
I'm also frustrated by the feeling that we've seen this all before, that it won't mean much in the long run, that the powers that be are only messing with fans who have invested a lot of time in and developed affection for relationships that didn't need to be simultaneously blown apart in an hour long episode of break-up porn.
Sometimes break-ups are necessary, and that hurts. But "The Break-Up" wasn't necessary, it was nonsensical.