<p>'So You Think You Can Dance' judge Adam Shankman</p>

'So You Think You Can Dance' judge Adam Shankman

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' Auditions - Dallas, Nashville and Las Vegas

The South doesn’t rise again, and some early contenders get cut in Vegas

It’s time for the “SYTYCD” auditions to move on to Dallas and Nashville, and given how things have been going thus far, I’m bracing myself for a tough two hours. The truth is, as much as I love “SYTYCD,” these audition episodes tend to focus on what I find to be the weakest part of the whole show.  

On the one hand, there’s a behind-the-scenes, “A Chorus Line” vibe to these shows that I love. We see the hopeful faces in line, the agony of learning choreography in just a few hours and, yes, the disappointed also-rans shuffling back onto the street outside. On the other hand, this is when the producers set up their most maudlin and manipulative reality TV tropes. First, there are the sob stories, then the feel good stories, and finally, the pathetic losers. While “SYTYCD” is, to its credit, less in love with nightmare auditions than, say, “American Idol,” it also drives home the fact that, when all is said and done, this show, like almost every other reality competition out there, is essentially a popularity contest.
 
Yeah, I know. This is a contest to find America’s favorite dancer, not the best. But I’d feel better about it if the producers weren’t constantly whacking me over the head with video segments about how Dancer A grew up in a cardboard box and Dancer B broke both legs in a horrible kickball accident, especially when we never see these dancers again. I mean, sometimes it’s interesting and sometimes you feel like you’re being forced to huff Hallmark cards. Why can’t we just pick, oh, I don’t know, the best dancer? Instead of watching these lame “This Is Your Life” segments, we could watch more dancers who are making it to through to Vegas and we have half a shot of seeing again. Because let’s face it, when these guys go to Broadway, no director is going to say, “Yo, Dancer B, you completely blew that grand jete when you landed in the orchestra pit and we’re out a trombonist now, but props for being able to move the lower half of your body, all things considered!”
 
But hey, Fox has to fill two hours and heartwarming segments are marginally better than commercials, so there you go.  So let’s head to Texas!
 
[Full recap of Thursday's (June 3) "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]
Read Full Post
<p>Cat Deeley of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

Cat Deeley of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' Auditions - Los Angeles and Chicago

It’s ladies’ night in L.A., but Chicago’s a bust – except for a new dance craze

“So You Think You Can Dance” is back, and, as is the wont of every reality competition, it’s time to see dancers who don’t suck along with a smattering of people who really, really do so we can all feel superior and self-satisfied. The good news is that the show is going to Los Angeles and Chicago, and as every waitress in L.A. is taking acting/dancing/guitar lessons instead of learning how to bring you the sugar when you ask for it, there’s always plenty of talent. And, because L.A. is full of lunatics, there’s usually some good comic relief, too. So let’s dive in!

[Full recap of Wednesday's (June 2) "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]

Read Full Post
<p>Amber Riley of 'Glee'</p>

Amber Riley of 'Glee'

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Funk'

Tension mounts between the glee club and Vocal Adrenaline just before regionals

There are times when I wish Las Vegas had a section devoted to all things pop culture. You could place bets on things like “The ‘Lost’ finale will drive half of audience completely bananas.” Or “The next ‘American Idol’ judge will be Joss Whedon.” Or my personal favorite example: the over/under on how many times an episode of “Glee” will figure out a way to insert the title of its episode into the show’s dialogue. I think Pop Vegas should set that number around 40, because it feels like that’s as many times as a character issued the word “Funk” from their lips in tonight’s Season 1 penultimate episode. 

It’s always darkest just before the dawn (or, in this show’s case, Regionals), so it makes sense that most of the show’s characters were deep in their own personal hells just in time to potentially throw a year’s worth of hard work down the drain. Did they pull out of their tailspin in time for the big performance? Does George Clinton own an Atomic Dog? Exactly. Let’s break down this week’s action. 

[Full recap of Tuesday's (June 1) "Glee" after the break...]

Read Full Post
<p>Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad'</p>

Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad'

Credit: AMC

Recap: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Abiquiu'

'Albiquiu' has its moments but is hurt by some sudden, unmotivated character behavior

I guess if I were to make a single criticism of "Breaking Bad," one that I thought most held the show back from being theoretically "perfect" (which, of course, is unattainable), it would be that the show does a fairly bad job of truly portraying the cost of Walt's actions on the community around him, other than in the abstract. We've seen the junkies that trapped Jesse in their house last season and their barely cared for kid. We've seen some of the shambling wrecks of people Walt's dealers sold to in the first season. And we've seen a handful of junkies here and there, but mostly, the costs of Walt's chosen endeavors have been felt in over-the-top action setpieces, like when the Cousins took down Hank or when Walt's actions indirectly led to a mid-air collision. The consequences of Walt's actions are almost always writ large, not expressed on an intimate human scale like the best moments of this series usually are.

Read Full Post
<p>Lee DeWyze, Ryan Seacrest and Crystal Bowersox of 'American Idol'</p>

Lee DeWyze, Ryan Seacrest and Crystal Bowersox of 'American Idol'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Finale Live-Blog: And the Season 9 winner is...

Will it be Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze? It'll take more than two hours to find out

Wednesday (May 26) night's "American Idol" finale is scheduled to run for 127 minutes, from 8 p.m. til 10:07 p.m. I know it's running long. You know it's running long. Simon Fuller, Ryan Seacrest, Bruce Gowers and FOX's programmers all know it's running long.

And why wouldn't it? We're going to have musical performances galore, lengthy tributes to Simon Cowell and his storied legacy, more integrated cross-promotional plugs than you could shake a stick at and, if we've been very bad indeed, the time-wasting travesty known as The Golden Idols. All the while, tension will build... Is your next American Idol going to be Lee DeWyze or Crystal Bowersox?

Join me for all of the fun (and the not-fun) over the next two-plus hours. Jump in and comment, or just share my pain. It's your choice.

Click through for the recap and the results...

Read Full Post
<p>'Glee' meets KISS in the 'Theatricality' episode</p>

'Glee' meets KISS in the 'Theatricality' episode

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Theatricality'

KISS, Lady GaGa and more get the 'Glee' treatment

The costumes may have been gleefully ridiculous, but "Glee's" Lady Gaga episode didn't exactly capture the same kind of magic that Madonna night did a few weeks back. Blame it on the limited catalogue Gaga's unleashed upon the world in her brief reign over pop culture. (What else is there besides "Bad Romance" and "Poker Face?" Not much, according to this episode.) Or blame it on the crippling lack of Sue Sylvester, sorely missed this week.

In what promised to be the most outrageous episode of the season we got a lot of the same old stuff, starting with Rachel and her mommy issues, represented via Idina Menzel's sweet but snooze-worthy rendition of "Funny Girl" and later with a Rachel-Shelby duet of Gaga's "Poker Face." Also familiar was the "Kurt and Finn as stepbrothers" subplot, which brought their family drama -- and Finn's latent homophobia -- to an unexpected breaking point. If anyone's previously overlooked Mike O'Malley's contributions as Kurt's dad Burt, you won't forget him after watching him lay into Finn in one of the tensest, most emotional scenes of the series so far.

But the question remains: was this the episode that Lady Gaga fans deserved, or the episode "Glee" needed to move its characters' arcs along?

[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 25) "Glee" after the break…]

Read Full Post
<p>Nicole and Derek of 'Dancing with the Stars'</p>

Nicole and Derek of 'Dancing with the Stars'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Finale -- The Mirror Ball goes to...

Nicole, Evan and Erin were the favorites for most of the season and the winner was...

If you had asked me whether or not I was looking forward to tonight’s show on, say, Monday afternoon, I would have said, unequivocally, yes, yes yes! But after seeing last night’s debacle, I’m approaching this big finale with dread in my heart. I’m not sure if I’ll be happy regardless of who wins. Do you give the mirror ball to Erin, as her performances were the strongest last night, despite her not being the strongest dancer overall? Do you give it to Nicole because, even though Derek screwed up her routines left and right last night, she’s been the best dancer of the season? Or do you give it to Evan for simply tolerating Anna’s crap choreography? How no one was able to knock it out of the park last night, largely due to the missteps of the pros, still baffles me, and any victory feels as if it’s going to come with an asterisk. Okay, I’m just being sulky at this point, so let’s get on with the dancing!

 
[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 25) "Dancing with the Stars" finale after the break...]
Read Full Post
<p>Crystal Bowersox of 'American Idol'</p>

Crystal Bowersox of 'American Idol'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Finale Performances: Crystal vs. Lee

Crystal Bowersox dominated Lee DeWyze in the finale, but can Lee still win? Sure!

Wow, kids. We're reached the "American Idol" finale. Or at least we've reached the first-night performance component of "American Idol." Then, after two hours tomorrow night, we'll actually know whether our next Idol is Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze.

But on Tuesday (May 25) night? We're singing. How did Crystal and Lee acquit themselves with their trio of performances? They're singing one song of their choosing, one song selected by Simon Fuller and their first sing (not to be confused with the traditional coronation dud).

Click through for the full recap...

Read Full Post
<p>Evan Lysacek on last week's 'Dancing with the Stars'</p>

Evan Lysacek on last week's 'Dancing with the Stars'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Finale Performances

In a disappointing finale, more than one pair botches their routines
Eeeek, it’s down to the final three and I don’t know about you, but for me choosing just one team to root for is like “Sophie’s Choice” if Sophie had three sets of strangely talented conjoined twins and that unfortunate Holocaust theme wasn’t involved. But if I was placing a money bet, that would be easier. I’m putting my money on Evan, unless he throws up on the dance floor or spends his dance time quota making longwinded political statements. From my in-depth and scientific surveying (I talked to my friends), it seems everyone is kind of leaning toward Evan because he’s a little better than Erin but didn’t start from the same high water mark as Nicole. And, if you’re me, you give him a pity vote because his partner seems to secretly loathe him and he’s just so nice and so dull you just want to pat him on the head and give him a cookie. But enough about Evan, it’s time for dancing!

[Full recap of Monday's (May 24) "Dancing with the Stars" after the break...]
 
Erin and Maks
Make that almost time for dancing. Before Erin and Maks can get to their redemption dance, we have to see footage of Bruno crashing their rehearsal and shrieking “Look at your ass! Look at YOUR ASS!” Which strikes me as being particularly difficult to do, but then I remembered they have mirrors. Anyway, Bruno gives Erin tips on how to make her samba sexier. Erin somehow accomplishes this, which is impressive, given that Bruno usually just sounds a whole hella lotta incomprehensible crazy.
 
The Dance: Okay, the whole ending a dance by kissing Len thing is pretty cliché at this point. But Erin actually seems to be enjoying herself this time around. Her moves are more fluid, there’s no deer caught in the headlights looks, and there’s some of the fire we see between her and Maks in rehearsal actually showing up on the dance floor. Girlfriend’s much more confident this time around, and it makes a big difference. Big enough to beat Evan and Nicole, I don’t know, but she’s definitely up there.
 
Judges Say: Len thanks Maks for keeping his clothes on, then gives Erin props for improving. Bruno, of course, has a fit and tells Erin she’s hotter than noon in the tropics, then begins jerking around like a crazed bobblehead. Carrie Ann thought Erin moved up by three notches. Why three notches, I have no idea. But suffice it to say, everyone thought she did pretty well.
 
Score: 29. I’m a little surprised. Erin danced well, but when Nicole has yet to hit the floor, it’s a little risky to be throwing tens at pretty good.
 
 
Evan and Anna
Len visits Evan and Anna to coach them on the Viennese waltz. Len seems like a very good coach. Maybe Anna needs to spend some time with Len. Or Evan needs to dance with Len. C’mon, it’s the 21st century, it’s time ballroom got with it.
 
The Dance: Oh crap, did I just see skater feet? Obviously, Evan is miles better than he was in week one, but I’m a little worried. At the beginning of the dance, he looked stressed, but loosened up and started smiling in a groom on top of the wedding cake kinda way halfway through. I feel bad for Evan and Anna that they had to dance a friggin’ waltz, which isn’t as fun and sexy as a samba and tends to look forced unless it’s between two professionals. Truth told, this is a little on the dull side, and when you combine a dull dance with a dull guy (sorry, Evan), it’s like television Tylenol PM.
 
Judges Say: Bruno said he liked the connection between the two of them. Carrie Ann says it was an emotional, enchanting dream. Len said Evan collapsed a little bit in his standing at times, but overall did a very good job.

Score: 28. This seems about right, unfortunately. It’s comparing apples and oranges, but for pure confidence and comfort on the dance floor, Erin definitely outshone Evan. Fingers crossed Evan and Anna bring it in the freestyle.
 
 
Nicole and Derek
 
Carrie Ann comes in to coach Derek and Nicole on the rumba. Carrie Ann wants Nicole to connect to Derek and stop worrying about the steps. Nicole is determined to live the dance. Do we even need to see this? Nicole always wants to bring it, Derek always wants to challenge her, yada yada yada.
 
The Dance: Boy, this is a bad cover of “Lady in Red.” Holy crap, Nicole ends the song by propping herself up sideways, holding on to Derek with one leg. How is that even possible? Really, Nicole is in a league of her own in this competition. But the thing is, she’s been in a league of her own since the beginning of the show. She’s improved, yes, but as I recall, her first rumba was pretty good, too. If you listen to Erin and Maks, the point of “DWTS” is to show improvement. And, if that’s really the barometer, Nicole has only been able to add a plus to her existing A grade.
 
Judges Say: Carrie Ann thought it was mesmerizing. Except for the lift at the end. WTF? Okay, yes, technically, Derek picked Nicole up as the music was fading out. But come on! I can’t decide if I’m pissed at Derek for screwing up or Carrie Ann for being such a stickler. Dammit! Len loved the subtlety, but does think she lacked confidence at times. Bruno starts rolling Rs and says it was superlative.
 
Score: 28. Nicole looks like she’s ready to haul off and slug Derek, and I can’t blame her. This would have been, at worst, a 29 if not for the lift. Derek tells Brooke Burns he feels a lot of responsibility, which he should. I mean, they’re just dancing for a stupid mirror ball trophy, not even big wads of money or a trip to Tahiti, but it would blow to lose the whole thing on a technicality.
 
 
Erin and Maks
 
Maks wants to do a contemporary/lyrical freestyle to tell the story of Erin and Maks. Um, this could either be a disaster or R-rated or, perhaps, an R-rated disaster. He asks choreographer Mandy Moore, who has done great things on “So You Think You Can Dance,” to help out. This should be interesting. And you may want to ask young children to leave the room for this one, unless you like explaining the birds and the bees during prime time.
 
The Dance:  The minute I saw that the dance of Erin and Maks had a big bed right in the middle of it, I could not stop laughing. Wow, this isn’t on the nose or anything. There’s lots of rolling around on the bed, which doesn’t look so much like dancing as rolling around on the bed. I’m not sure if this risk pays off, although I think Erin committed to portraying herself as kind of a mattress back admirably. Still, this dance just seems out of place on this show, to say nothing to whole “hey, look, we’re screwing! A lot!” subtext, which is pretty tacky, honestly. Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion Len is rolling his eyes on the sidelines, but that’s just me.  
 
Judges Say: Len says they took an enormous risk, then admits he liked it but didn’t love it. Why am I not surprised? Bruno agrees it was a risk, and thinks some of the moves were incredibly well done. Carrie Ann loved it, but thought there was one stumble during the bed tossing. Maks explains it wasn’t the bed they rehearsed on. Which, I’m assuming, was in his apartment. Just saying.
 
Brooke asks Erin what the hell they were thinking by doing a contemporary freestyle, and Erin admits they just wanted to be different than Nicole and Evan. I think they may have been just different enough to get knocked out of the competition, honestly.
 
Score: 26. Not a great score for the finals, I’m afraid.
 
 
Evan and Anna
 
Uh-oh. In rehearsals, Evan wants to take risks. Anna wants to pout and cry and freak out. Anna is having choreography block, which is like writer’s block but involves wearing yoga pants. So, she calls choreographer Bobby Newberry, who has a Mohawk, so he should be all about the risks. Now, Anna and Evan are excited about their freestyle, problem solved, cue the Disney music. Gee, it’s always such a nail biter in these walk-ups, isn’t it?
 
The Dance: Oh no, Evan has that Ed Grimley hairstyle again. Nooooo! And crapballs, what’s with the highwaters and white socks? And the bowtie! Oh ma god, what, is this supposed to be “Footloose” meets “Revenge of the Nerds”? Whatever.

The good news is, this is an upbeat, high energy number, and Evan really comes alive once you pick up the beat. The basic truth is, he usually seems a little miserable doing the pretty dances, but you let him rock out and he’s a happy boy. And, while Evan seems to be having a ball, this is not a great routine. Bobby Newberry and his Mohawk did not deliver. Evan’s moves start to get loosey-goosey halfway through, as if they didn’t have enough rehearsal time, and it’s just kind of a mess that doesn’t seem to have enough structure or, specifically, connection between Evan and Anna. Evan’s just flapping his arms around like he’s being electrocuted, and I think he’d have really benefited from being able to, I don’t know, dance with Anna instead of dance alongside her. I know Anna doesn’t really like the guy, but come on. 
 
Judges Say: Bruno says it looked like Evan had a screw loose, but he went for it. Carrie Ann tells them it was odd, but great energy. Len thought it was the path of least resistance and it wasn’t what he wanted to see. I think Evan and Anna are in big, big trouble.
 
Score: 24. Evan says it feels good to get this rotten score, but he’s got to be kidding, right? This is hugely disappointing. I was sure Evan was going to blow us away in the finale. And now, well, I’m doubting he’s going to make it to the final two.
 
 
Nicole and Derek
 
In rehearsal, Derek is doing lifts he’s never done before. I’m guessing he means lifts he’s never done in this competition, because really, I know Nicole is good, but I wouldn’t use her as a crash test dummy.
 
The Dance: I know it’s supposed to be cute that they’re wearing matching black suits, but Derek, you dumbass, I can’t see what either of you are doing! As ugly as the yellow shoes are, they at least make their feet stand out. Oh, now they’ve stripped down, good move. Still, even though this wasn’t my favorite dance of theirs, it’s pretty great… until the ending, when Derek almost dumps Nicole on the ground in a horribly botched lift. This is nightmarish. Derek, in trying to push Nicole and himself to do more than any other couple in “DWTS” history, has pushed too far. Literally, Derek, not Nicole, is screwing up their chances for a mirror ball left and right. Nicole, you are cordially invited to kick his little blond ass.
 
Judges Say: Carrie Ann says it was the freestyle they’d all been waiting for, but that it killed her when they slipped on the last lift. Len saw the salsa, the jive, the samba and fun. Bruno thinks it was amazing, and said the slip at the end was only because they tried to do what has never been done. True dat.
 
Brooke asks Nicole why the hell she didn’t try hip-hop. Nicole wanted to push herself, duh. Then, Derek begs for votes. Which he should, because he’s the one who messed everything up.
 
Score: 27. Wow, this is one of Nicole’s worst showings, and it’s the damn FINALS. They’re still at the top of the leader board, but only because Evan and Anna blew it and poor Erin thought it was a good idea to roll around on a mattress for her last dance.
 
 
Have to say, I had high expectations for this episode, and I’m sorely disappointed. The worst part of it is, the fault really lies with the pros, not the celebrities, who did their level bests but were either pushed too far, given crappy routines or encouraged to take risks that didn’t pay off. At this point, it seems like Erin might come from behind and win the whole thing, which would be fine if I didn’t feel like her competitors got tripped by their partners on the way to the finish line.
 
Do you think Nicole should have been docked for Derek’s mistakes? Do you think Anna’s bad choreography cost Evan the mirror ball? Who do you think should win – and has your opinion changed?
Read Full Post
<p>Kiefer Sutherland in the finale of FOX's '24'</p>

Kiefer Sutherland in the finale of FOX's '24'

Credit: FOX

Recap: '24' Series Finale - '2 p.m. to 4 p.m.'

Having learned the true depth of the conspiracy, Chloe stops Jack from starting an international war.

 “24” rode off into the sunset tonight, although the plan is for it to ride right into your cineplex in the not-too-distant future. So our mourning may be muted: yes, we’ll never see another failed perimeter grace our television screens, but the possibilities for Parisian, Peruvian, or Pakistani perimeters being breached on the silver screen are endless! Since it was a two-hour finale, I will waste as few words as possible mulling over the impact of the show now, and will hold off grander thoughts for the end. For now, let’s dive into what went down during the series finale of the show. 

 

[Full recap of Monday's (May 24) series finale of "24" after the break...]

Read Full Post