Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
Thanks to the election and the desire to crush 'X Factor,' 'The Voice' hits Wednesday
Once more unto the Live Playoffs breach, fans of the “The Voice”. Monday’s two-hour show featured singers from Team Adam and Team Blake, so it’s time for the remaining ten contestants to perform an awkward group number then show their stuff on the solo front. Tomorrow, a live one-hour results show will narrow the field down from 20 to 12.
Let’s see what Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, and Blake Shelton have to say about tonight’s participants. Also, let’s see what Green is wearing. It can’t be any weirder than what he wore on Monday.
Onto the recap!
Kurt Sutter shines behind and in front of the camera in one of the season's most consistent episodes
Episodes like this are why I can't give up on "Sons of Anarchy."
"Andare Pescare" (translated from Italian it's "to go fishing") is as consistent, satisfying, and simply well done an episode of "Sons" as we've seen in a long time. If the balance of tough guy action and emotional character interactions was always this finely tuned, "Sons" would be a threat to the best dramas on TV.
The three-day Election Week run of 'The Voice' begins
Our long, national, pre-taped nightmare is over, America. “The Voice” has finally moved onto the live episodes, which they are dubbing “Playoffs” for reasons that probably made sense at once point in a marketing meeting. Each team now has 5 contestants, with only 12 of the current 20 making it through this week. I assume that means each team will be reduced to three participants through a combination of coaches’ picks, audience votes, iTunes downloads, and some calculations Nate Silver dreamed up the other night after listening to some Maroon 5.
With the Knockout Rounds over, I’m returning to a running diary for the three (yes, three) episodes this week. Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, and Blake Shelton will no longer have the power of post-production editing at their disposal to come off sane in their analysis tonight. Then again, in some cases, not even careful film splicing could help their decisions make any sense at all. But the thing that concerns me the most? The overblown production values that usually start creeping in around this time of the season. The show is called “The Voice”, and not “Lots of Cirque du Soleil Dudes Running Around In Dry Ice”, for a reason.
Onto the recap!
Would comedy's reigning king be able to wring laughs on 'SNL'?
I’ll be honest: I’m equally excited and terrified by the prospect of Louis C.K. hosting “Saturday Night Live” tonight. On one hand, “Louie” is one of the best, if not the flat-out best, series on television right now. But how much of that can possibly translate into the “SNL” format? Maybe if tonight’s episode is a 90-minute take on “Sad Mouse”, the short from the Bruno Mars episode, maybe “SNL” will achieve the tonality, visual flair, and emotion of a typical episode of “Louie”. Still, it’s best to treat both shows as separate beasts and see how Louis C.K. the actor/comedian, not Louis C.K. the auteur, does as host. Along for the ride is musical fun., a band designed to make my word processing Spelling And Grammar auto-correct commit suicide.
Onto the recap! As always, I’ll be grading each sketch as they air. As always, you’ll express disbelief that these grades somehow vary from your own. It’s how we roll around these parts.
Peter and Olivia grieve in different ways in tonight's pivotal episode.
“You don’t even know what you don’t know.”
Thus sayeth a captured Observer to Peter Bishop in tonight’s episode of “Fringe”. But it also sounds like a showrunner talking to his or her audience, as well. Part of the fun in reviewing a show on a weekly basis is the opportunity to capture immediate reactions in real time. The downside, of course, is that you’re always operating with only part of the overall puzzle revealed at any given time. Just as Peter tries to assemble a cube that might deal a crippling blow to The Observers, those following along with the show on a weekly basis are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating how to fit the pieces of the show together in order to produce a coherent image. “An Origin Story” doesn’t fill in all the gaps, but certainly provides some sense of where things might go over the last eight hours of the program.
Jax's proposition for Gemma could make or break the season
Jax vs. Clay. Tara vs. Gemma. Gemma vs. Clay. Jax vs. Gemma.
The repetitive nature of the conflicts on "Sons of Anarchy," and the way they always seem to resolve themselves through time or plot contrivances, have led to a frustrating state of inertia. It feels like the more these characters argue, the less there actually is at stake. Nothing ever really changes.
But what if something actually does change? Maybe, after last season's cop out finale, Clay actually could die. Or SAMCRO could splinter. Or Jax could, finally, leave. We know that "Sons" has at least two seasons left in Kurt Sutter's master plan, but we don't know what those seasons will look like. And right now, halfway through Season 5, it's a tantalizing prospect to imagine.
NBC packs in another two hours of high-pressure Knockouts
Last night’s Knockout Rounds represented a TKO for “The Voice”. This new phase of competition emphasized performance over backstories, yielding ten total head-to-head battles over the course of a two-hour installment. That’s a lot of performances for a show that dragged out the auditions and Battle Rounds right up to the point of human endurance. Tonight, we do it all over again, this time carving Team Christina and Team Blake in half before heading into the live episodes next week. Adam Levine and CeeLo Green already have their teams, so they can sit back and make bland critiques tonight without the responsibility of anyone’s future directly in their hands.
Our East Coast recapper braves Sandy to bring you this report
Welcome to our coverage of the two-night Knockout Round event for “The Voice”. I describe it as an “event” rather than “a quick and dirty way for the show to shrink the still enormous number of contestants left on the show” because I’m a nice guy. As this is the first iteration of this phase in the history of the show, we’ll have to feel things out as we go tonight and tomorrow. From what it seemed in last week’s preview, each coach will pick two singers from his or her respective teams to face off in head-to-head competition. Each contestant will choose a song to perform individually, and the coach will pick a winner.
We have twenty of these knockouts to get through over four hours, which means either a series of no-frills, lean-and-mean contests or a combination of lengthy rounds coupled with quick montages. Either way, there are a lot of decisions for Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and CeeLo Green to make over the next two nights. I’ll try to make this recap as clean as possible, covering each pairing as a whole rather than maintaining a minute-by-minute running diary. I’m sure those will return once we get to the live shows starting next week, but even if this experiment fails, it’ll all be over in 24 hours anyways. Tonight, “The Voice” is focusing on Team Adam and Team CeeLo.
(I’ll note up front that I’m covering this from Boston, where Hurricane Sandy is currently pounding down. There might be times in which local coverage trumps the show itself. I’ll do my best.)
The episode that truly kicks off the final leg of this show's journey
Even for an already divisive series of “Fringe”, tonight’s episode is one for the books in terms of splitting an audience right down the middle. The show’s last outing, “The Recordist”, was a middling but ultimately inoffensive hour. No one was going to get particularly worked up about it either way. But “The Bullet That Saved The World”? Here’s an hour designed to evoke a response. And not just any response, mind you: It’s meant to evoke a visceral response. There are times in which the show exists in order to get from Point A to Point B. And there are times in which the show blows up the caravan on the way to Point B with an antimatter baton.
Joel McHale guest stars on another eventful episode
Jax: "She's a goddamn trainwreck."
Nero: "She's still your mother ... Women like your mom, they don't do so good without family."
It's been a very Jax-centric season of "Sons of Anarchy" so far, but Clay and Gemma took the reins tonight while Jax was mostly just trying to keep up.