<p>Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv of 'Fringe'</p>

Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv of 'Fringe'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'The Box'

Fauxlivia integrates herself to her new environment, in which a familiar artifact lies in wait.

In last week’s season premiere of “Fringe,” the show spent much of its time in the alternate universe. But, as I tried to stress last week, the word “alternate” should be used as little as possible when discussing the show at this point, because so much of Season 3 concerns two sets of people that views the other as the alternate to their own “correct” universe. The person we call the Walternate appears from our perspective a hideous, evil monster, perhaps even the Big Bad of the show. Over there, more than one person considers him to be the hero of this particular tale. History is written by the victors, to be sure. But currently, both sides look more like victims.

[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 30) "Fringe" after the break...]

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<p>Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'Memory Lane'

Elena and Katherine's showdown is, frankly, a bit of a letdown

The promos for this week’s episode of “The Vampire Diaries” featured a big, saliva-inducing tease: the much anticipated first meeting of human Elena and her vampire doppelganger Katherine. The image alone raised expectations for a classic showdown akin to the fight between Olivia and alt-universe Bolivia on the last season of “Fringe,” or all of the highly entertaining shenanigans featured between Willow and Vamp Willow in the fun “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode “Dopplegangland.” Instead of the knock-down drag-out girlfights of our dreams, however, this episode delivered a conversation. A short one. Perhaps my own externally raised expectations are at fault, but color me disappointed.

[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 30) "The 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' - 'Matthew Rolston'

All models pose riding roller coasters and draped with dead sea creatures, right?

Confession: I haven’t seen an episode of “ANTM” since Jaslene took the crown in Cycle 8, so I was sort of shocked to get caught up with this season and learn it was already in Cycle 15. That’s six whole winners who have posed their way into modeling obscurity since I last laid eyes on Ms. Tyra and the gang. Lucky for me, it appears absolutely nothing about the show has changed: the girls still bring the drama while competing for a somewhat irrelevant prize, the producers still give them ridiculously ugly makeovers, and Tyra still thinks she’s Oprah. It may sound like I am putting down the show, but honestly there is something comforting about how little things have evolved over the years. I mean, there needs to be somewhere in this vast wasteland of reality television where a girl can catwalk her way to $100,000, right?

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

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

Marty of 'Survivor: Nicaragua'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Nicaragua' - 'Glitter in Their Eyes'

Jimmy Johnson talks to monkeys, but can he coach his team to Immunity?
Man-Shannon is gone. Jimmy Johnson remains. And the Younger Tribe holds the Medallion of Power. That's just about all you need to know as Wednesday (Sept. 29) night's "Survivor: Nicaragua" begins. 
 
Click through for a full recap.
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<p>Heather Morris of 'Glee' channels Britney Spears</p>

Heather Morris of 'Glee' channels Britney Spears

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Britney/Brittany'

A trip to the dentist unleashes Brittany's inner pop diva.

I finally figured out the perfect way to describe the maddening inconsistency that is “Glee”. Basically, it’s like the weather in New England: wait a few minutes, and whatever is onscreen will inevitably change. Notice that I don’t assign a value, good or bad, to what’s onscreen at the time. Just know that whatever it currently is, it will soon morph into something completely unrecognizable before long. Many found last week’s season premiere a refreshingly restrained effort (by the show’s standards, at least). As for me, I watched, I “meh”ed, and I closed up the storm windows for the Britney Spears Storm on the horizon.

That storm hit tonight in the form of “Britney/Brittany,” an episode that no doubt sent a certain segment of the show into a state of bliss. It also undoubtedly sent another segment of the show’s fan base into a complete rage. Now: if you loved this episode, don’t think I don’t respect ya. I just completely and utterly disagree. “Britney/Brittany” wasn’t so much aired as inflicted, making last season’s Madonna episode seem like “The Constant” from “Lost” or “Shut the Door, Have a Seat” from “Mad Men.” It indulged in every type of excess possible, transforming what should have been an episode of television into something with as much dramatic heft, emotional weight, and narrative thrust of an episode of “Solid Gold.” 

[Full recap of Tuesday's (Sept. 28) "Glee" after the break...]

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<p>Željko Ivanek and Ian Anthony Dale of 'The Event'</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>

Željko Ivanek and Ian Anthony Dale of 'The Event'

 

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Event' - 'To Keep Us Safe'

NBC's time-skipping thriller travels back in time to give a few answers

This past week it’s felt like the actual show “The Event” is merely a necessary byproduct of NBC’s hype-building advertising campaign for the series. That’s not a statement on the ubiquity of the ads, but rather on how effectively they boil down everything the show itself seems to want to express; so far the episodes have felt largely superfluous. For last week’s pilot the ads let us know that some terribly mysterious people were involved in some sort of terribly mysterious “event,” while for this week’s episode, “To Keep Us Safe,” they let us know that a plane disappeared, and now we’re going to find out what happened to it. When the ads for week three inevitably reveal that answer (“aliens did it”), you’ll be more-or-less caught up.

[Full recap of Monday's (Sept 28) "The Event" after the break...]

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<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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