<p>Brook looks on in concern after Claire takes a watermelon to the face on The Amazing Race</p>

Brook looks on in concern after Claire takes a watermelon to the face on The Amazing Race

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Premiere - 'They Don't Call it the Amazing Race for Nothin!'

One team gets an all-powerful Express pass and other gets a watermelon in the face
I'm ready to give Season 17 of "The Amazing Race" my blessing to be a dismal disappointment from here on out. We can now be treated to a dozen episodes of misread directions, shrieky couples who call each other "babe,"  Ugly American ignorance, easily foreseeable phobias and tension-deflating equalizers.
 
Because Season 17 has already given us The Watermelon Incident.
 
Heck, Sunday (Sept. 26) night's "Amazing Race" premiere was a padded 90 minute episode with only one actual challenge and a final result that hinged on teams that got lost in a country where English is the native language, but I still found myself loving the episode.
 
Because the premiere of Season 17 gave us The Watermelon Incident.
 
Nothing, it turns out, covers a multitude of "Amazing Race" sins like a watermelon in the face.  Or perhaps I just have a low-brow sense of humor. I would also have settled for a key task involving helper monkeys. But that's just me. 
 
Full recap of the launch of this "Amazing Race" season after the break...
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<p>Amy Poehler</p>

Amy Poehler

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Amy Poehler and Katy Perry launch Season 36

Justin Timberlake, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon and David Paterson drop in to visit

Welcome to the 36th season of “Saturday Night Live,” ladies and gentlemen. Time for another round of “SNL hasn’t been funny since [whatever timeframe feels applicable]” comments to proliferate through the interwebs. This season premiere finds one old cast member hosting, two former castmates gone, and four new players emerging. Look for a cavalcade of classic Amy Poehler characters to return onscreen. In addition, given the show’s penchant for guest stars and old cast members popping by during the first episode of the season, look for more surprises as well. As if THAT wasn’t enough, fresh off ElmoGate will be musical guest Katy Perry. 

As is the standing tradition here at HitFix, I’ll be judging each part of the show individually, assigning grades that will be subjective (one person’s Gilly is another person’s Laser Cats, after all) and meant to provoke discussion, not outright anger, in the comments below. Try to keep things civil, or I’ll be forced to ask “What’s Up With That?” in my big boy voice. 

We good? Good. Onto the premiere after the break…

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<p>Michael C of 'Project Runway'</p>

Michael C of 'Project Runway'

Credit: Lifetime

Recap: 'Project Runway' - 'Race to the Finish'

It’s time for a high fashion design – but more than one designer goes bad bridesmaid

So, I miss one week of “PR” and that is, of course, the week when my man Mondo wins. Figures. I’m also a little sad to see Michael D. go, though that Amish ice skating skirt was definitely not a fashion yes. What I don’t understand is when designers on this show look at a woman’s body and say to themselves, “You know, let’s put layers and layers and layers of fabric around that really wide part,” and think that’s a good idea. I know, they’re working with tall, willowy models, but even they have hips, sort of. But enough grousing, let’s get to it!

[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 23) "Project Runway" after the break...]

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<p>Anna Torv and Andre Royo of 'Fringe'</p>

Anna Torv and Andre Royo of 'Fringe'

Credit: Liane Hentscher/FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' Premiere - 'Olivia'

Olivia tries to break free from Walternate's grasp, but finds leaving may be more difficult than she imagined.

Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello wrote a famous play in the early part of the 20th century called “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” Post-modern before such a thing really took hold in pop culture, it involves an acting company rehearsing a play (also written by Pirandello) but interrupted by six strangers, who claim to be characters from an unfinished story. The acting troupe at first scoffs at this tale, but their Director agrees to stage the characters’ stories all the same. Eventually, the line between what is real and what is unreal becomes utterly unclear, leaving both the Director and the audience unnerved by what transpires before the curtain drops.

I bring all this up not simply to justify the amount of money that my parents sank into my college education, but also because “Fringe” for a while felt like “Three Characters in Search of a Story.” Since the show couldn’t seem to settle upon what it wanted to be, it stranded Olivia, Walter, and Peter amidst a sea of “Patterns of the Week” and half-hearted, contradictory attempts at mythology. Even mentioning the word “Pattern” at this point feels hopelessly anachronistic, as if I was talking about riding one of those old-timey bikes with the enormous front wheel and small rear one.

But now? Well, a penny-farthing appears onscreen, and I cackle mercilessly.

[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 23) "Fringe" after the break...]

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<p>Michael Trevino of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

Michael Trevino of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'Bad Moon Rising'

Werewolves have arrived in Mystic Falls, just in time for the full moon

“The Vampire Diaries” twists its second season story knives a little bit deeper, as the true nature of Mystic Falls’ werewolf problem is discovered. Also: Caroline continues to have baby vamp growing pains, and Alaric returns to help with the werewolves and generally look hot. Oh, and Damon is snarky. Surprise!

 

Elena, Stefan and Damon summon the long-lost Alaric to learn more about the Lockwood family, seeing as the Gilbert device caused them to go all wonky last season. Alaric, we missed you. OK, I missed you. I don’t know about anyone else. More than Alaric, the gang is after Isobel’s research on the town. Alaric mentions her study of the lycanthrope (a.k.a. werewolves), but Damon scoffs at the mere thought of their existence. The only way they can find out more of what Isobel suspected is to go to her offices at Duke University and look through her research. Oh, and did I mention that Elena and Damon are going? Together? Without Stefan? Because that makes sense. (I know, I know…Stefan has to take care of Caroline. Still: contrivance!)

 

[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 23) "Vampire Diaries" after the break...]

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

Ann of 'America's Next Top Model'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Patricia Field'

It's makeover week for the models, who then get photographed as fallen angels

Anamaria has been sent home, where, one would hope, several cheeseburgers are waiting for her in one big stack. Meantime, we’ve moved on -- already! -- to the makeover show for this cycle. (Scissors. Scissors! Runnnnn!)

[Full recap of Wednesday's (Sept. 22) "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]

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<p>Brenda of 'Survivor: Nicaragua'</p>

Brenda of 'Survivor: Nicaragua'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Nicaragua' - 'Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us All'

Missing shoes and missing socks are upstaged by a crazy Tribal Council
Welcome, friends, to a new episode of "Survivor: Nicaragua" or, as the premiere threatened to become, "The Jimmy Johnson Starvation Hour."
 
Would a new personality stand out during Wednesday's (Sept. 22) episode? Click through to find out...
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<p>Dot Jones and Jane Lynch of 'Glee'</p>

Dot Jones and Jane Lynch of 'Glee'

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX

Recap: 'Glee' Season 2 Premiere - 'Audition'

It's a new school year, But New Directions quickly encounter some familiar challenges.

Sometimes shows return after the summer hiatus with heavy anticipation due to audience withdrawal. “Glee,” on the other hand, only increased in the public’s overall consciousness. It barreled down the pop culture landscape like The Prince in the videogame “Katamari Damacy,” growing larger and larger as it absorbed an ever-increasing amount of attention in the aftermath of its inaugural season. I wrote last spring that I felt the show was about as critic-proof as they come: well, the introductory meta-commentary that opened Season 2 pretty much validated that. Kurt, playing the part of show creator Ryan Murphy, essentially told me I should make like Lady Gaga and just dance instead of write about the episode. I might not be Boobs McGee (that would be Santana), but I am for the time being Blogger McGee, and writing about this show is all I can do for the time being.

[Full recap of Tuesday's (Sept. 21) "Glee" premiere after the break...]

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<p>Bristol Palin gets a 'Dancing with the Stars' hug</p>

Bristol Palin gets a 'Dancing with the Stars' hug

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Season 11 Premiere

The 'star' of the show delivers, but a surprise dark horse emerges, too

Bristol, Bristol, Bristol. “Dancing with the Stars” hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already pretty sick of hearing about the younger, less interesting Palin. This is not about politics, mind you. Regardless of whether you love or hate her mom, if you’ve seen Bristol on television, you know she always looks a little shell shocked, as if she’d like to say “You know, I’m not really a public figure, if you could just get that camera out of my face,” and would gladly hand off her fifteen minutes of fame to any mouth breathing reality TV show idiot in a heartbeat. Which is normal behavior, yes, but makes for pretty awkward TV. And while this show has always played fast and loose with the definition of celebrity (I mean, Audrina Patridge? The friggin’ Situation? Can we have a snuff round of “DWTS”?), isn’t just being the spawn of a well-known person a little faster and looser than necessary? All I’m saying is, if Amy Carter shows up next season, I’m boycotting.

Oh wait, my bad. Bristol isn’t just famous spawn, she’s a “teen activist.” Well, that changes everything, because that’s why people are tuning in – an appetite for teen activism, not the hope of seeing a car wreck of anything. And can I just say Florence Henderson looks shockingly good? How old is that woman, anyway? But it’s time for dancing, so let’s get to it.
 
[Full recap of Monday's "Dancing with the Stars" premiere after the break...]
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January Jones of "Mad Men" is the guest judge on this week's episode of "Project Runway"

January Jones of "Mad Men" is the guest judge on this week's episode of "Project Runway."

Credit: Lifetime

Recap: 'Project Runway' - 'A Rough Day on the Runway'

January Jones is the guest judge, but can the designers channel Jackie O?

And then there were nine.

It's quiet in the Atlas apartments as we begin this weeks' episode.  Why?  Because "does she think I'm retarded?" Casanova is gone. Boo (not really, that was one joke that went on way too long ).  Michael talks about last weeks' dramatic moment with Ivy.  She, on the other hand, says, "If I listened to those idiots I wouldn't be here today." Michael C. says Ivy has to use other colors besides green and pink.  Agreed.  Something suggests this week she will.

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