Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'The House Guest'

The Martins are determined to revive Elijah, but the plan comes with a cost

<p>Nina Dobrev of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

Nina Dobrev of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

Time for more fun with vampires! And witches! Not so much with werewolves, because they’re in Florida or something, but they’ll come back eventually, I’m sure. So, we begin with suggestive frolicking. Elena tells Stefan they should go to school at some point. That Elena, always so conscientious! Stefan thinks this is cute because after a couple hundred years you realize higher education is a big waste of time. Actually, some people realize that a lot sooner. But I digress.

[Full recap of Thursday's (Feb. 24) "Vampire Diaries" after the break...]

Recap: 'American Idol' - Presenting the rest of the Top 24

Will Jennifer Lopez return to hug the remaining Semifinalists?

<p>Haley Reinhart made the 'American Idol' Top 24 on Wednesday. Who joined her on Thursday?</p>

Haley Reinhart made the 'American Idol' Top 24 on Wednesday. Who joined her on Thursday?

Credit: FOX

When we left Paula Abdul... errr... Jennifer Lopez, the emotionally unstable "American Idol" judge was bawling and questioning her ability to handle the remainder of the judging process. 

Wednesday's episode ended with a big ol' "To Be Continued..." leaving as many as two viewers nationwide wondering if J-Lo would be able to return.

Click through for a full reveal of the rest of the Top 24 and to discover if J-Lo mustered up the guts to deliver both good and bad news...

Recap: 'Survivor: Redemption Island' - 'You Own My Vote'

Phillip remains eccentric, but Rob's tribe may have a bigger threat

<p>Andrea of 'Survivor: Redemption Island'</p>

Andrea of 'Survivor: Redemption Island'

Credit: CBS
Pre-credit sequence. Francesca is gone, but she's not forgotten. Well, maybe the pronunciation of her name is forgotten by Phillip, but he's a former federal agent, so he can't sweat the details. But actually, we're starting with Francesca, who's alone on Redemption Island, mind racing. A sign promises a ration of rice and ample water and eventually the arrival of a potential competitor. Her provisions include flint, so her mind-set is strong. In fact, she figures that because she didn't make any enemies, she's in good position to eventually win the game. Plus, she doesn't have to spend time with Phillip.
 
[Full recap of Wednesday's (Feb. 23) "Survivor: Redemption Island" after the break...]

Recap: 'Top Chef All-Stars' - 'For the Gulf'

One chef breaks an unwritten law by stealing a recipe

<p>Paula Deen and Padma Lakshmi of 'Top Chef: All-Stars'</p>

Paula Deen and Padma Lakshmi of 'Top Chef: All-Stars'

Credit: Bravo

We are down to the final six and it seems our beloved chefs are getting a little freaked out. Take Tiffany, for instance. She’s wearing make-up in the hopes it will improve her performance. Oooookay. Either CoverGirl has come out with some magical eye shadow (and you’d think they’d be selling the crap out of it), or Tiffany’s putting too much faith in make-up.

We get to see the chefs noodling around the condo, and Richard is showing Mike his sketchbook. He’s filled up two little books with recipes he’s dreamed up. He even makes little sketches, which is just adorable or kind of compulsive, though you can’t argue with the results. Mike looks over Richard’s shoulder and admires Richard’s attention to detail. This does not seem like a significant detail, but it is. Remember this moment, my friends.
 
[Full recap of Wednesday's (Feb. 23) "Top Chef" after the break...]

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 16 premiere - 'Erin Wasson'

Tyra Banks begins with a twist and stages 'Wipeout' with models

<p>Hannah of 'America's Next Top Model'</p>

Hannah of 'America's Next Top Model'

Credit: The CW

In the past, America’s Next Top Model has experimented with themes -- say, short girls, or high-fashion contenders. It may seem that Cycle 16 of America’s Next Top Model has no common thread. Not so. Wise observers have taken a long, lingering look at this cycle’s contenders and declared the theme to be Skanks; however, to be fair, the fault may lie with the powerful cake eyeliner lobby that has apparently bought and paid for the show’s stylists.

Or maybe it’s the It’s Really All About Me Me Me Me TYRA Season, because for the first two minutes, that’s what we’re seeing: Tyra dressing up and saying stuff and channeling an Ashton Kutcher show from 2003.
 
Thankfully, the rest of this cycle’s format isn’t so agonizing. Before we can even get to the season’s initial shriekfest, we learn that Tya already has chosen the 14 finalists, including several token girls. (You know: Petite. Fat. Freckly.) 
 
Now we get the shriekfest as the 14 are fake rejected by Tyra and then allowed into the next Top Model house. 
 
Oh mah god,” a self-described babyfaced model named Jaclyn declares. “They tricked us.”
 
Welcome to reality television the modeling industry!
 
[Full recap of Wednesday's (Feb. 23) "America's Next Top Model" premiere after the break...]

Recap: 'American Idol' - Las Vegas and The Green Mile begins

After a sojourn in Las Vegas, 'Idol' begins announcing its Top 24

<p>Julie Zorrilla and Tim Halperin of 'American Idol'</p>

Julie Zorrilla and Tim Halperin of 'American Idol'

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

It's nearly time for the American People to take over on "American Idol." But "nearly" means "not quite yet" and "not quite yet" means we still have four hours of "Idol" ahead of us this week.

Up first? A trip to Las Vegas, as Wednesday's (February 23) "American Idol" recap kicks off after the break...

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Blame It On The Alcohol'

A booze-fueled week spells trouble for New Directions as well as Will

<p>Heather Morris and the 'Glee' girls dance</p>

Heather Morris and the 'Glee' girls dance

Credit: FOX

 Well, after last week’s “Glee” debacle, I wanted to drink as much as the characters did in this week’s installment, “Blame It on the Alcohol.” This episode sent me back to more tried and true reactions, which left half of me wanting to toast the episode and the other hand feverishly looking for booze to numb the pain. There are times in which I’ve not liked an episode of “Glee” because it was either dull or offensive. Tonight’s episode falls under another category of disappointment, but it’s the best of my personal three. “Alcohol” left me underwhelmed due to the show’s chronic inability to edit itself.

[Recap of Tuesday's (Feb. 22) "Glee" after the break...]

Recap: 'The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business' Premiere

With an Express Pass and an U-Turn up for grabs, 11 favorites return

<p>These two people are Amanda &amp; Kris of 'The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business.' What? You don't recognize them?</p>

These two people are Amanda & Kris of 'The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business.' What? You don't recognize them?

Credit: CBS
I really don't know why this is so hard to understand: "Amazing Race" premieres need to be two-hours. Or, at the very least, they need to be 90 minutes.
 
And I say this every premiere cycle. Or at least I say it in every premiere cycle that doesn't begin with a two-hour "Amazing Race" premiere.
 
Of course, the reason I say it is because "Amazing Race," unlike "Survivor" or "America's Next Top Model" or most of the shows in the competitive reality universe, has the responsibility to at least vaguely introduce every single competitor in the initial episode. With "Survivor," you can have a castaway pull a Kelly Purple and go the duration of the game doing nothing. But on "Amazing Race" every team is doing the same thing at the same time and while some teams might perform tasks in less interesting ways, they're invariably going to be temporarily spotted in action. So in a premiere, you have to find a way to introduce people and let Your Friendly Neighborhood Bloggers figure out names and quirky nicknames.
 
"Amazing Race" has found a couple ways to circumvent this issue. The show has periodically cast J-list celebrities, people who are vaguely or plausibly familiar to some portion of the audience, but who aren't distracting enough to dominate the game (for the most part). There have been former Miss Americas, ex-reality show contestants aplenty, YouTube staples, poker stars and writer-actor Mike White, plus a couple other folks who were recognizable for certain viewers with certain points of reference.  The other occasional solution utilized by "Amazing Race" and pretty much every other reality show these days: All-Stars!
 
Maybe that's why Sunday (February 20) night's "Amazing Race: Redemption Island" -- Ooops... "Amazing Race: Unfinished Business" -- premiere was so disappointing. Despite providing me with 11 teams I could easily identify, including at least eight or nine teams I was genuinely pleased to see return, Sunday's premiere *still* left me muttering about the annoyance of not getting a two-hour or 90-minute premiere.
 
More thoughts on the "Amazing Race: Unfinished Business" premiere after the break...

NBA All Star Saturday Night Live Blog: Dunk Contest, 3-Pt Shootout

Will Carmelo Anthony still be a Nugget by the end of the night?

<p>Blake Griffin dunks over a car with an assist from Baron Davis in the 2011 NBA&nbsp;All&nbsp;Star Saturday Night dunk contest.</p>

Blake Griffin dunks over a car with an assist from Baron Davis in the 2011 NBA All Star Saturday Night dunk contest.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

It's pouring rain in Los Angeles, but the NBA is hoping to heat up Staples Center with tonight's NBA All Star festivities.  The NFL may be America's game, but at HifFix NBA talk dominates so we thought we'd give some love to the Dunk Contest, the 3-Pt shoot out, the Skills Challenge and, um, the Shoot Out (although we love those WNBA players).  Plus, chances are Charles Barkley is gonna say something that will make Commissioner David Stern wince.  Let's get started...

Recap: 'Fringe' - '6B'

Sensing an impending rift between universes, Walter confronts an impossible choice

<p>Joshua Jackson of 'Fringe'</p>

Joshua Jackson of 'Fringe'

Credit: FOX

“Fringe” is all about an impending universal collapse, in which Over Here is locked in a war with Over There that neither truly understand. Problem is, “Fringe” is threatening to collapse under a different type of struggle: the struggle between the show’s sci-fi strains and its increasingly melodramatic ones. It’s not as if the show has been devoid of emotional elements: indeed, the core family at the heart of the show (The Bishops, Olivia, Astrid) have given it a special place in the post-“Lost” pantheon of genre shows. But there’s a difference between having a beating heart at the center of a fantastical story and explaining away intergalactic vortexes away through the power of THE HUMAN HEART, as evidenced tonight in “6B.” One makes me happy. The other makes me slightly queasy.

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