Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
The second week of 'The Voice' begins with more spinning chairs
Thanks to "The Voice," a woman who looks like this finally has a chance to make it in entertainment!
Today, “The Voice” announced that Usher and Shakira will be taking the temporary place of CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera during the show’s next cycle. It’s a smart choice on the show’s part. Whereas the comings and goings of hosts on “American Idol” and “The X Factor” tend to overwhelm the show itself, building a deep roster of judges that can be mixed and matched each cycle seems like a smart way to not only keep the show fresh but also keep the coaches happy. If artists know they can drop in and out depending on their album/tour/celebrity status, wouldn’t they be more willing to sign on? Why buy a chair when you can rent one? With this move, “The Voice” turns into the X-Men of reality singing competitions, able to consistently change its lineup while keeping the core identity intact.
With that in mind, let’s kick off tonight’s running diary. As always, all times are EST. And no, I won’t make X-Men references all night. (Oh wait. I probably will.) As always, if the prepackaged sob story that accompanies a contestant is too dull, I reserve the right to come up with my own instead. Comic book writers re-con stuff all the time. Why can’t I?
Things are getting tougher now that the Quack Pack's smaller
Can you believe Shane, totally suckered by Dan's Personal Sock Puppet (Danielle), is gone? Or that resident dork Ian, who seemed destined to be heading home on his tippy-toes in week one, is in the final three? Actually, the same could be said about both Dan (otherwise known as the biggest threat in the house to anyone thinking clearly) as well as Danielle (see sock puppet reference above). This isn't the final three I ever would have predicted, but that's the thing about "Big Brother." Hard to predict. And this season, that doesn't even take into consideration predicting the Hamster Most Likely to Wear a Pink Tank Top category. I mean, come on! It was a guy!
'SNL' launches its 38th season by giving new exposure to familiar stars
Frank Ocean and Seth MacFarlane of "Saturday Night Live"
Every season of “Saturday Night Live” is a beast unto itself. But in my short time recapping episodes for HitFix, the time between seasons has seen the most change. Stalwarts Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg are gone. Jason Sudeikis will join them in a few months. Three new cast members (Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong) have been added as featured players. Lorne Michaels finally decided to let Jay Pharoah play President Obama. These aren’t seismic changes, to be certain. The show has handled more turnover in its past. And no one expects the overall quality of the show to take a sudden downhill turn even with the aforementioned changes.
But maybe people should expect more from the show this season. At the very least, they should expect something different. I wrote up ten suggestions last week for “SNL,” and while I don’t expect the powers that be to stop production and have every member of the writer’s room read that gallery (although let’s be frank, that would be the smart thing to do!), I do expect the change in the show’s onscreen talent to inevitable change the overall makeup of the show. Such change is built into the program’s DNA, and has kept it a part of the pop culture landscape for nearly thirty years. How successful the writing of the show adapts to the new cast composition will go a long way to determining the show’s success this season.
So I’ll keep a keen eye on which cast members break out, which ones recede, and how the new combinations possible given the absence of Wiig and Samberg affect the in-sketch dynamics. The lucky first host to be part of this ongoing comedic experiment? Seth MacFarlane
, who took time to leap off his big pile of money AMASSED from his FOX animated comedies and this past summer’s surprise box-office smash “Ted” to come down and host the show for us little people. Along for the ride is musical act Frank Ocean, a writer/producer who entered the public consciousness over this past year through both his music (the album “Channel Orange”) and his personal life (announcing publicly that his first love was a man).
Will Ocean stay on stage, or join so many previous musical guests in appearing in sketches as well? Will he help pen an opening monologue song for MacFarlane? What is the future of pre-produced comedic content on the show? Will Pharaoh’s chance to shine be a mere imitation of Obama or a unique impersonation? Will the women of the cast have a chance to form their own version of the female-led ensembles that represent some of the show’s finest seasons? So many questions, and only one way to answer them: by grading each segment of the show as they happen in real time. After that, you tell me how wrong I was, how I have no business covering a show that hasn’t been funny in years, and then we do the whole thing again next week. We cool? Cool. Onto the recap!
New students, a new setting and all new problems
Yep, Matthew Morrison is still on "Glee." And now, so is Melissa Benoist.
Being brand new to the cutthroat world of "Glee" recaps, I was really hoping to write something about why I like the show, why I've stuck with it over the years and why I've often been annoyed with its status as a designated punching bag in some corners of the web. An episode like the season four premiere, "The New Rachel," makes that hard to do.
In many ways it was a fresh start for the show. We've been hearing for several months that season four will take on the ambitious challenge of splitting screen time between New York -- where Rachel Berry is newly enrolled at NYADA -- and the usual setting of McKinley High, where a handful of returning cast members will be joined by new recruits. There's a lot of potential in this approach for both success and failure, and after watching the first hour I'm more concerned than optimistic.
That's because "Glee" has a whole new problem. For the first time they've introduced a slew of characters who are one thing the show almost never is: boring.
How many times will Danielle cry during her Head of Household reign?
This picture of Danielle isn't from Thursday's episode, but we bet she makes this face.
I'm still reeling from Wednesday night's bizarre interactions between Danielle & Shane and The Fierce Five.
Nobody had a clue who anybody was, but they were all so darned pleased to be meeting.
And I'm also reeling from Danielle's Head of Household win, as she continues to Forrest Gump her way deeper and deeper into the game.
On the assumption that Danielle's going to protect her in-game boyfriend Shane, we're about to lose one of the two people who actually deserve to win "Big Brother" this season.
Click through to see how the drama -- Julie Chen's been tweeting big promises -- unfolds...
NBC's hit stares down FOX's 'X Factor' premiere with more auditions
Allison and Krystal of "The Voice"
It’s starting to feel a little bit like the film “Groundhog Day,” no? Another evening, another episode of “The Voice
”. If any contestant tonight sings “I Got You, Babe,” I will be seriously freaked out. While there have been several strong participants thus far, the show really hasn’t had a breakout performance yet. And given that its two-day head start on “The X Factor” is now over, that might be a problem for the show over the long haul.
But with sixty-four total team members to select, we’ve only just begun to see the talent on display this season. And hopefully, we’ve only just begun to see the way the coaches will woo participants to their team. So far, those wooings have been one-note affairs, with each judge essentially sticking to the same script no matter the contestant. A little variety wouldn’t hurt on both sides of the equation.
With that in mind, let’s kick off tonight’s running diary. As always, all times are EST. As always, if the prepackaged sob story that accompanies a contestant is too dull, I reserve the right to completely make up a new one. Much like NBC, I’m all about the ratings. What can I say?
8:00 p.m. I love that shot of the four judges standing in the bright white light during these introductions. It’s like they are trapped in The Phantom Zone.
Two lucky houseguests get to hobnob with gold medalists
So, it's down to the final five, or what I like to call the Quack Pack and Jenn. Not that the Quack Pack is much of an alliance, as everyone except Shane seems to have a final two deal with Dan (and that may have happened and I just missed it), and Dan is eagerly rubbing his hands together in anticipation of stomping on their broken bodies on the way to the finish line. The crazy part is, of course, that every remaining hamster seems likely to smile up at him as he does it. "Gee, Dan, you're really good at cracking ribs! That barely hurt! And not nearly as much as when you stepped on my nose!"
Say hello to Jimmy Smits and Harold Perrineau, and goodbye to a few others
Harold Perrineau joins the cast of "Sons of Anarchy" for season five
The power dynamic between Jax and Clay isn't the only thing that's changed as we begin season five in Charming. This year's action-packed, fast-moving premiere introduces new players, reestablishes burgeoning rivalries and alliances, and contains one of the most brutal and disturbing scenes the show has ever seen (that is not a low bar to cross).
We can only speculate where any of this is heading, but as set-up, it worked. Mostly.
How many performers would we see in the second hour of Season 3?
” premiered to solid ratings
, albeit ratings well off its previous two season openers. Cause for concern for NBC? Probably not, although the real ratings excitement will come tomorrow when the third episode of this opening week episode gauntlet goes head to head with the premiere of “The X Factor” over on FOX. But we’re not here to speculate about Thursday morning Nielsen ratings. We’re here to recap the second blind auditions. Given the ratio of episode time versus contestant selected last night (one per fifteen minutes of air time) and the total number of contestants that will ultimately be placed on one of four teams (sixty-four), we’re going to be going blind well into 2013.
OK, it won’t be that bad. But we are looking at a 5-6 week process, unless things speed up. And given the dearth of programming in NBC’s lineup that gets even half as many viewers as “The Voice,” look for a leisurely pace as we approach the Battle Rounds at the approximate speed of continental drift. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives ample time for each contestant to make an impression. Be warned: if the backstory for a certain participant is boring, I might just make one up. It shouldn’t be too hard to tell fact from fiction.
Let’s start the running diary for tonight’s episode. This one, like tomorrow night’s installment, will run only a single hour. Will “The Voice” try to pack in the auditions or stick to last night’s leisurely pace? Will any other formerly rejected contestants re-emerge to try and make it big again? Will producers send out a parade of former Mouseketeers in an effort to confuse Christina Aguilera? Only one way to find out. All times below are EST.
NBC's crown jewel does a quick turnaround for its third season
Moving “The Voice
” into the Fall will either be a smart move on the part of NBC or a disaster that keeps it in the ratings’ basement for a potential half-decade. On one hand, who can blame the struggling network for producing another season of one of the only programs it can truly call a hit? On the other hand, how can we miss the show if it never goes away? The best-case scenario creates a beachhead for the network to develop other shows into hits. The worst case? “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Part 2: Electric Swivel Chair Boogaloo”.
A few notes before starting the first of many, many, many running diaries throughout this season…