Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
How would the Steal impact the revamped Battle Round?
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?
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?
"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.
Keep your grief to a minimum, we've got things to do here
After last week's stunning, brutal and divisive installment, it would've been a surprise to see "Sons of Anarchy" deliver a follow-up quite as memorable. But I wasn't expecting an episode that felt so... hollow.
There were two major things that needed to be achieved in "Stolen Huffy": send off Opie in a fitting way and keep the story moving forward. While the hour attempted both, the results were merely OK.
Is this really the end of Blind Auditions? Yes!!!
We’re here at the end of the blind auditions for “The Voice”, ladies and gentleman. Tomorrow night’s one-hour slot will be a recap of the entire audition process, so expect a 60-minute mega-mix of “The Cupid Shuffle”. In the meantime, all four teams have fourteen members, leaving eight remaining slots in total.
Still, after tonight we’ll get Battle Rounds, which will feature a twist in which each coach can steal two contestants from other teams should they be eliminated in that round. Ostensibly, this should produce some chess-like strategy between the coaches. But I’m not sure we’ll get even “Connect Four” levels of gamesmanship between the four of them. But who knows? Maybe Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and CeeLo Green worship at the altar of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov when not offering up sacrifices to the musical muses to produce a hit single. We’ll just have to see. For now? We need eight more contestants. Eight more sob stories. And eight more chances for me to rewrite those stories should I see fit. Let’s do this.
'Fringe' starts its final season via a time jump that is alternately thrilling yet perplexing.
It’s only fitting that Yaz’s “Only You” closes out the final season premiere of “Fringe”. Written by Vince Clarke, who many will know from his work in Depeche Mode and Erasure, “Only You” is a synthesizer-based ballad. In other words, it creates beauty from inside the cold confines of technology. That’s always been the greatest strength of “Fringe” as well. It has taken the sometimes-cold world of science fiction and imbued the genre with enough heart and emotion to fill a half-dozen other television programs. Even if the fourth season never quite generated those some emotional highs as previous years, it has still aimed to tell very personal stories within a vast universe. This makes tonight’s episode, “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11", so perplexing.
Before you jump to the comments and chew me out, let me explain. I’m not convinced tonight’s episode is bad by any stretch (especially since this season’s narrative gamble needs to play out in full before final judgment is rendered), but it certainly demands some adjustments from the viewer. Even with Season Four’s “Letter Of Transit” serving as out introduction to the “Fringe” future world of 2036, it’s still difficult to properly process everything that’s going on through a first pass. What makes this difficult? Glad you asked!
High school elections and New York fashionistas combine for a light, fun hour
I love Ian Brennan's vision for "Glee."
"Makeover," which "Glee" co-creator Brennan wrote and Eric Stoltz directed, wasn't a Very Special episode like last week's "Britney 2.0." There was no musical icon to celebrate or serious social issue to tackle. There was a special guest star in Sarah Jessica Parker, but Brennan knows how to write to that having previously penned Gwyneth Paltrow's debut episode "The Substitute" and Ricky Martin's "The Spanish Teacher."
More importantly, Brennan knows how to keep "Glee" light on its feet. "Makeover" was both the most relaxed and best episode we've seen so far in Season 4. We're still making progress.
Opie, Tig, Chibs and Jax go to prison, but do they all make it out alive?
Kurt Sutter, you clever bastard.
Right when the networks are in the midst of launching and returning their big guns, "Sons of Anarchy" unleashes an episode designed to dominate TV chatter. Whether you loved, hated or were simply heartbroken by "Laying Pipe," it's not an episode you're going to forget. Or stop talking about for weeks to come.
If the amount of times someone says "Did you see 'Sons of Anarchy' last night?! Holy crap!" is one valid way to judge a showrunner's success, Sutter should be feeling pretty damn accomplished tomorrow.
Guess what tonight's episode is? More Blind Auditions!
I remember a time when “The Voice” wasn’t holding blind auditions for its third season. The skies were blue. The fields were green. Dinosaurs roamed the earth. Good times.
OK, it hasn’t been that long, but you’ll be forgiven if it seems that way. Still, you really can’t blame NBC for stretching these auditions out as long as possible. Thus far, it seems like the ratings gamble for the network has paid off, with the show siphoning off viewers from other networks and helping The Peacock win the first official night of the Fall TV season. You read that correctly: NBC won the night. Look for cats and dogs living together anytime soon now. Mass chaos, is what I’m saying.
Let’s get into tonight’s one-hour episode. There are only twelve spots still open on the four teams combined at this point, so the competition will get fierce. Chairs will spin EXTRA hard, I’m telling you. They’ll spin so hard that Christina Aguilera’s fan will fly out and cut the head of CeeLo Green’s bird clean off. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton may or may stop flirting with each other long enough to actually notice.
As always, I’ll be keeping a running diary. As always, the times below are EST. As always, if the sob stories these contestants roll out raise my eyebrows, I reserve the right to make up new ones. In honor of “The Avengers” coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray today, I’ll have The Hulk have a stab at their backstory.