Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics

Recap: 'The Amazing Race - 'I Feel Like I'm in, Like, Sicily'

Teams make noodles and puzzles and face confused cabbies in Shanghai

<p>Louie and Michael of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

Louie and Michael of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS
Sometimes, knowing the upcoming TV schedule can take a lot of the fun out of watching TV.
Because I was making plans for "Lost" finale day on May 23, I had to make sure that the "Survivor" finale was the week before, which led me to ascertain that the "Amazing Race" finale had to be May 9. And knowing that there were three episodes of "The Amazing Race" left and knowing that four teams remained and three teams compete in the finale, I didn't have much doubt that this Sunday's (April 25) episode was either a non-elimination leg or a "You're the first to arrive, unfortunately, this isn't the end of the leg..." leg. Stupid math and logic.
So as great as much of this week's episode was -- lots of good character moments, funny one-liners and potentially devilish tasks -- I never figured for a second that anybody was going home, so there was never all that much tension.
Oh well.
Full recap of Sunday's "Amazing Race," titled "I Feel Like I'm in, Like, Sicily," after the break...

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Host Gabourey Sidibe sings and MGMT performs

The 'Precious' star brings a winning personality to lazy 'SNL' writing

<p><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small; ">Gabourey Sidibe</span></p>

Gabourey Sidibe

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

When “Precious” (I refused to type out the rest of the title) debuted at Sundance, all of the hype was surrounding Mo’Nique’s breakthrough performance: it was showy, it was horrifying, and it eventually won her an Academy Award. However, Gabourey Sidibe was sort of an unsung hero at that point, a talented young discovery who manages to bring to life a character who needs to be something more than an emotional punching bag for that film to truly succeed. But as the Awards season wore on, her winning performance and her winning demeanor unsurprising won over pretty much the entire world: she seems uncorrupted by her stardom, always smiling and always excited to be able to do the things that her success have afforded her. However, this means that her appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” could go in two directions: either her enthusiasm will make for a winning experience, or else her enthusiasm will finally find itself horribly misplaced as she is stuck hosting a lifeless comedy show in the midst of a fairly substantial creative black hole. 

Ultimately, I’d say that it leans more towards the former, although Sidibe succeeds at winning us over in spite of some pretty terrible material overall. 

[Full recap of the April 24 "Saturday Night Live" after the break...

Recap: 'Vampire Diaries' - 'Miss Mystic Falls'

Stefan rages, pushing Elena into the arms of the other Salvatore

From 'Miss Mystic Falls'

Are you ready to dance?

Credit: the CW

This week in Mystic Falls, Stefan's nasty blood habit has gotten so out of control that maybe it's time for an intervention. But first, it's time for the Founder's Ball, the annual bash where the town's teenage hotties get their hair did and compete for the Miss Mystic Falls crown! More importantly, we all love Stefan and Elena's mushy romance -- but are the seeds of a love triangle being sewn as "Delena" (that's Damon + Elena, duh) heats up?

[Full recap of Thursday (April 22) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]

Recap: 'Project Runway' Season 7 Finale - And the winner is...

It’s time for Bryant Park, as Mila, Seth Aaron and Emilio face off

<p>Heidi Klum of 'Project Runway'</p>

Heidi Klum of 'Project Runway'

Credit: Lifetime

Can you believe it’s time for the finale of “Project Runway”? Even though this has been one of the dullest seasons of “PR” in recent memory, I’m already feeling a little nostalgic. Remember all the brighty, shiny talents who have been strewn by the side of the runway like so much excess polyester? Anthony? Mya? Jonathan? That crazy Ping chick who didn’t know how to sew? That guy who never said anything and made ugly metal dresses? And… that other guy? And there were some girls, I’m pretty sure. Okay, maybe I won’t miss this season that much. But I am definitely excited about tonight. Admittedly, for me it’s more about rooting against one designer (Mila) rather than for Seth Aaron or Emilio (hey, they’re both good), but either way, Bryant Park is always exciting.


[Click through for a recap of Thursday's (April 22) "Project Runway" finale...]

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'The Man From the Other Side'

With the shapeshifters once again raising havoc, Peter gets ever closer to learning the truth about his origins.

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

Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson of 'Fringe'

Credit: FOX

Tonight’s episode of “Fringe” featured the moment most fans feared. With shapeshifting Thomas Jerome Newton back on the scene, and the creation of another portal between worlds imminent, it was time for Peter Bishop to learn his true nature. And, as you might have guessed, he didn’t take the news particularly well. The Bishop Boys are no more. At least for now. But then again, as the show constantly reminds us, there’s more than one of everything. And a man on a bridge possibly connecting them all. 

[Full recap of Thursday's (April 22) "Fringe" after the break...]

That’s right: rather than try to bring an entire building over from the other side, Newton simply wanted to bring a man. Or, rather, a Secretary. A Secretary of what, you ask? Good questions. I’m going with “Secretary of Whupping Interdimensional Butt” for now, or SWIB. He sent for three more of his kind to come over, assuming specific identities, and triangulate a harmonic signal using the exact coordinates in the other dimension. In theory, rather than expending tons of energy trying to cross over to the other side, whatever was inside those respective triangles would simply swap. 

Shapeshifters come through time and space in much the same way Terminators do, except instead of being naked, they are essentially embryos, albeit ones filled with inordinate amounts of mercury to facilitate the travel. Two of three shapeshifting miracles of life pop over, but the third one didn’t eat his Wheaties, and died in utero, albeit outside. (“Fringe” is delicious gross about such things.) Using a great deal of electricity (and a recently deceased man), Walter managed to speak to the third shapeshifter, who not only gave the team valuable intel, but also grabbed Walter’s hand and issued a simple, “I’m sorry,” before dying. 

All this gets us back to the man on the bridge, the aforementioned “Secretary.” In apologizing to Walter, the shapeshifter revealed that he’s familiar with the Walternate on the other side. I’m not sure if that confirms that the Walternate=Secretary, but it’s certainly a compelling idea. The only other possible candidate? William Bell himself, isolated and potentially exiled in the alternate universe for reasons we still don’t understand, and perhaps trying to get back. We only have his brief encounter with Olivia to go on, and Bell isn’t exactly the more reliable of sources. 

Peter saw this man on the bridge while trying to fix Walter’s device to disrupt the harmonics bringing over the middle part of an abandoned bridge. He saw something else, too: a police officer disintegrate right next to him. In the aftermath of his successful disruption of the energy field, he finally realized why Walter and Olivia have been acting so strangely lately. Another fact also came to light tonight: the two men only spoke once while Walter was in St. Claire’s, and the call centered around the suicide of Peter’s mother. Looks like she couldn’t handle the guilt over the decision she helped foster in “Peter,” either. One parent killed herself; another went mad. Peter? He got lost in the world, only to emerge for a brief time starting last year. 

And now? He’s lost and gone again, with potentially two Walters now looking for him. As a crucial part of the impending war (according to the Observers), whomever recruits Peter to his side will have a distinct advantage in that battle. In that sense, if it was the Walternate that crossed over, he didn’t need Peter to see him. Peter had already seen plenty that day to shake him loose from his preconceptions. After all, before destroying the world of the man that stole his son, the Walternate is undoubtedly interested in destroying the man himself. 


Some more points about tonight’s episode… 

*** As a lover of all things J.J. Abrams, I knew that Peter would find out about his true nature the moment he called Walter “Dad.” I mean, talk about the kiss of the death, right? 

*** I didn’t even know of ONE way to roast a reindeer, nevermind multiple options. I am clearly behind on my culinary skills. 

*** With the use of Rush at the beginning of the episode, I got the strong urge to play “Missile Command.” Thanks a lot, “Chuck.” 

*** The awakening of the shapeshifting embryo? Pure and utter “Frankenstein.” Loved it, especially the genuine scare when the shapeshifter’s hand grabbed Walter’s. 

*** Joshua Jackson’s understated nature during his final scene with John Noble really paid off. Had he blown into straight histrionics, the scene wouldn’t have worked nearly as well. But but playing it with controlled, eloquent, understated fury, he conveyed betrayal more than anger, which cut Walter even deeper than rage ever could. 

What did you make of Peter’s revelation? Did it pay off the season-long tension, or fall flat? And who do you think is the Secretary? Sound off below! 


Recap: 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' - 'Going Down in Flames'

After the Merge, both sides are unsure of who to trust, leading to a wacky Tribal Council

<p>Parvati of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'</p>

Parvati of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS
Pre-credit sequence. Poor Courtney, voted out last week and barely mentioned in the pre-credit recap. Will anybody even notice she's gone? Heck, the episode doesn't even start with the Villains. Instead, the Heroes are sitting around the fire on Day 25 praying for a Merge. With all the momentum they've gained in recent weeks, you'd think they'd be confident, but all five Heroes are miserable. Amanda and Rupert go out for Tree-Mail and receive a locked chest warning them that company will be arriving soon with a key. Meanwhile, over at their camp, the Villains have discovered a key and a note. I wonder what the key is to! Sandra does a crazy little Merge Dance. Russell knows that he has to begin by going to JT to explain what happened at the previous Tribal Council. They concoct some elaborate story about multiple Idols being played and a strategy to get JT out. Weighted down with Idols, Russell and his alliance march off to Heroes camp vowing to send the Good Guys down in flames. But did Sandra overhear their nefarious plan? We'll see!
Full recap of Thursday's (April 22) Merge-tastic "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" after the break...

Live Blogging the 2010 NFL Draft

For the first time, ESPN is broadcasting the NFL Draft first round in primetime, so HitFix is following the action

<p>&nbsp;Oklahoma Sooners QB Sam Bradford</p>

 Oklahoma Sooners QB Sam Bradford

Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP

Welcome to HitFix's first live blog of the NFL Draft...and the Draft's first primetime treatment (and we're not talking about Deion).

7:30 PM Remember when everyone was upset that the NFL and Madison Square Garden got into a fight that sent the Draft to Radio City Music Hall? Now, I can't imagine it anywhere else.

7:35 PM How much does Mel Kiper hate his soon-to-be replacement, Todd McShay? Despite being ESPN's No. 2 NFL Draft guy, McShay isn't at the main table.

7:36PM Sam Bradford is on the phone smiling. He must be the No. 1 pick. And he is. Rams take Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford with the top pick.

7:38 PM The Rams have had four months to figure out this pick. No need to take these extra minutes. They have been successful with an undrafted QB (Kurt Warner) and a 6th-round draftee (Marc Bulger). Taking Bradford is a big gamble. They've had a Top-2 pick in the last three drafts; They may be back there again next year.

7:39 PM Bradford looks great. Love the light suit. And what a big smile. Even if he stinks at QB for the Rams, he's a good "face of the franchise."

7:44 PM It's kind of crappy that ESPN cuts to the college players on the phone before the pick is announced. Ndamukong Suh is taken No. 2 and might be the best player in the draft, and his addition to the Lions will be a huge help. Watch out for the Lions this year. I know you hear this every year, but you don't hear it from me. Until now. I think 9-7 is very reachable for this team, and Suh will contribute immediately.

7:46 PM Leave it to New Yorkers to boo every single pick. Oy.

7:50 PM I can't stand the insistence of ESPN to talk to draft picks after they get selected. What insight are they going to share when asked questions like, "How do you feel?" Ugh. How about asking them, "Gonna get laid tonight?" Or "What are you going to do with your first million?" If all Suzy Kolber can come up with is, "How does it feel," it's time to find another 5-foot-2 beauty queen to ask questions.

7:52 PM Again, we now know Gerald McCoy is picked by the Bucs at No. 3 before it's announced. ESPN needs to stop showing these players before their name is announced. It's like telling you what's going to happen in a movie 10 minutes before you see it. And two Oklahoma players selected in the top three? No chance they both pan out.

7:57 PM This is probably the only desirable city in the Top 10 to get drafted to: Washington DC. I mean, would you really want to be shipped to Detroit, St. Louis, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland...? I guess Oakland wouldn't be so bad, maybe Seattle. These guys drafted in the Top 10 get great paydays, but I'd rather get half the money and live in Miami.

8:00 PM Three of the top four picks from Oklahoma? Washington picks Trent Williams at No. 4. This guy might be the one who really breaks out. He's got some strong players lining up behind him: Donovan McNabb, Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker...and now Mike Shanahan running the show? If I had to pick one guy drafted today who could end up in the Hall of Fame, this is the guy. Great pick by Washington.

8:03 PM I can't believe Todd McShay is nowhere to be found tonight. This has to be all about Mel Kiper's ego. McShay's the better analyst, but Kiper has the bigger hair name. And yes, the bigger ego. ESPN should tell Kiper to go jump in a lake and make the switch to McShay.

8:06 PM What will today be remembered as? The Huggy Draft? Seems every guy gives Roger Goodell a bear hug. So we finally have our drinking game: Every time Goodell gets a hug, take a shot!

8:07 PM Wow, major screw-up by ESPN. They played the audio of Chiefs selection Eric Berry (picked No. 5) saying, "I'm going to the Chiefs, baby" before it was announced. I know they've been showing the guys on the phone, but at least there was some question. To show the player announcing it before he's selected? Wow. Major screw-up. BTW, safety's a great spot for the Chiefs to fill. In the AFC West you have to chase the Chargers with Philip Rivers and those big receivers. If this kid delivers, with no top CBs in the draft (and I'm not sure Haden is), this will be a very smart pick.

8:18 PM Not a big surprise that Seattle would take Russell Okung at No. 6. Most didn't think he'd fall to the No. 6 spot. If the Seahawks want to work that left side the way they did with Shaun Alexander, this guy's the man. Also not surprising that Pete Carroll would go offense in his first draft.

8:20 PM Fifty minutes in, Todd McShay shows up and he's in the ESPN studio. Crazy.

8:22 PM Odd that the color palette of ESPN's on-site studio and lighting is lavender. I get that the NFL has embraced pink with the breast cancer fight, but lavender? 

8:24 PM And the first bust of the draft is, shockingly, headed to Cleveland. Florida CB Joe Haden goes with the No. 7 pick. What in heck is Gruden talking about? Ignore his 40 time and he's somehow faster when he puts on his uniform? BTW, anyone else think Joe Haden looks like Nien Nunb?

8:28 PM I don't know what ESPN is doing, but their telecast is delayed way behind, who has already announced Oakland drafted Rolando McClain from Alabama as the No. 8 pick. Odd.

8:30 PM Just to show you how "outside the box" the Raiders are: McClain isn't even at the Draft. They could have easily traded down and still gotten this guy. The Patriots have the Raiders' No. 1 pick next year; Looks like it'll be a Top 10 pick again.

8:31 PM Buffalo Bills takes Clemson RB C.J. Spiller at No. 9. So odd. They already have Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. The Bills have so many needs, why take a running back? Gruden says he's happy for Spiller - really? Because he's now stuck on a bad team in Buffalo? Yeah he might be the best player on the board, but with the defenses in the AFC East the Bills need to stop somebody. Odd.

8:39 PM Jaguars take DT Tyson Alualu with the No. 10 pick. Not sure about this one. The Jags have a lot of needs and are dropping quickly. With their running game, a strong defensive line is key to rebuilding.

8:41 PM 49ers who had the No. 13 pick trade up to No. 11 (from Denver). Interesting that they're chasing somebody here. They jumped over the Dolphins. Interesting to see who they wanted...

8:48 PM Great pick by the 49ers: OT Anthony Davis goes at 11. They obviously want to invest in QB Alex Smith; Instead of grabbing a QB they're shoring up the line. And with Frank Gore behind this line, the Niners could take another leap. Remember, Ray Rice ran behind this guy.

8:52 PM Seems like a reach for the Chargers. A running back from the WAC? Taking Ryan Matthews at No. 12, they're obviously thinking they need a big bruiser to work opposite Darren Sproles.

8:54 PM Broncos coach Josh McDaniels obviously learned the Patriots' draft method and is implementing it: Trade down a few times, collect later draft picks, and maximize your draft. Love what the Broncos are doing.

9:00 PM The Eagles wanted this guy bad, taking Brandon Graham at No. 13. Don't know much about this guy, but 26 tackles for loss in a season is pretty good. With McNabb gone, they're going to need defensive help.

9:07 PM Seahawks pick Earl Thomas, a Safety from Texas, at No. 14. Good for Pete Carroll. He grabs someone to lock up the offensive line and now a strong safety with good field vision and hands. Seahawks will get an A in a lot of draft grades.

9:12 PM We're getting to the point where Toby Gerhardt would be a bit of a reach, but I'll make a big prediction here: Whoever grabs him will be in the playoffs next year, and he will be Top 3 for offensive rookie of the year, as long as he has 250+ carries.

9:17 PM Jerk agent Drew Rosenhaus lands his client, Jason Pierre-Paul, in New York with the No. 15 pick. He's a big guy with speed who can fill some holes on that defensive line. He's a project, but that coaching staff can bring him along. I'm not sure he'll produce next year, but the draft isn't about producing next year. Could be a strong pick.

9:24 PM Seven defensive linemen taken in the first 16 picks as the Titans go with Georgie Tech DE Derrick Morgan at 16.

9:26 PM Wow, the 49ers are rocking. Mike Singletary knows what he's doing. They've clearly decided that Alex Smith is their QB of the future (or he really likes David Carr), passing up Jimmy Clausen for OG Mike Iupati at NO. 17. They've now taken two rookie offensive linemen with their two first-round picks, and this guy is a stud run blocker. Singletary isn't being flashy, and his game isn't flashy, but they are building a playoff team. Niners get an A+.

9:29 PM Okay, it's great that the NFL allowed a Make-A-Wish kid to announce the Steelers' pick. Maurkice Pouncey, Tim Tebow's center at Florida, can run block and pass block and is a great pick at 18. All of the talk about them trading Roethlisberger was obviously a bunch of malarky. They're committed to him and he now has a center to play with him through retirement.

9:35 PM The Falcons take LB Sean Witherspoon at 19. I was thinking about how many non-high-profile players are being picked, but that reflects how few superstars are in this draft. The draft is deep, but the guy they pick here probably won't contribute much more than their 2nd-round pick.

9:38 PM Houston Texans are obviously aware that they went 9-7 but still 0-2 against the Colts. They've taken CB Kareen Jackson at No. 20. Nice pick. They play Indy in Week 1; Jackson will get a special welcome to the league from Mr. Manning and Mr. Wayne.

9:42 PM Prediction: Pats traded their pick to the Broncos and the Broncos will take Dez Bryant. And the Patriots will take their now-No. 24 pick to trade right out of the first round.

9:43 PM Cincinnati nabs TE Jermaine Gresham at No. 21. This is the guy Michael Irvin thought they'd take a few days ago. With the weapons on this team now, Carson Palmer has no excuse to not be a Top-5 QB again.

9:47 PM Right position, wrong guy. I can't believe the Broncos passed up Dez Bryant for WR Demaryius Thomas at the No. 22 pick. I guess the Broncos were tired of dealing with a headcase in Brandon Marshall so passed up Bryant, who allegedly has "character issues."

9:53 PM It's possible no team drafted for need more than the Green Bay Packers this year, picking Bryan Bulaga at No. 23. The only thing that kept them from the NFC Championship was their offensive line. But man, is it a law that offensive linemen are unattractive? Jeez.

10:02 PM Patriots are racking up draft picks. The Dallas Cowboys have traded up to grab the best player on the board, Dez Bryant, at No. 24. He gets to stay in Texas with his lesbian mom. I'm not sure this is what the Cowboys needed, but he'll add to the team. This pick could have huge consequences for someone. He had been suspended for working out with former Cowboy Deion Sanders. This pick could result in some serious repercussions and discussions regarding tampering.

10:03 PM These military guys are the only people the New York crowd hasn't booed all night.

10:07 PM And the second bust of the draft, after all of the wheeling and dealing, Tim Tebow gets picked at No. 25 by the Broncos. They traded down for this? Huh? This isn't a project, this is doomed to fail. Bi-zarre. They now have three guys in Tebow, Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton who are all crappy QBs. Bi-zarre. Worst pick of the draft.

10:11 PM More on the Broncos picking Tim Tebow. Idiots. Kiper and Gruden and  Young are talking about Tebow's leadership. You don't draft "leadership" in the FIRST ROUND! You groom it or draft it later. It's no wonder 41% of the ESPN viewers give this pick an F. Well look at it this way, Broncos fans: You'll have a Top-10 pick next year.

10:17 PM My buddy Juan Gibbons, former CB from Washington State, is with me and is really happy with Arizona's pick of Dan Williams, DT, at No. 26. Juan says he's physical and a gamer. That's exactly what Whisenhunt and the Cardinals need. There is nothing you want more from a DT than someone who can be physical (OK, speed is good too).

10:26 PM No boos are louder from the New York crowd than for the Patriots' pick. CB Devin McCourtey taken No. 27 by the Pats. One INT last year? Really? A cornerback with one pick drafted in the first round? Ten passes defended? Belichick must see something in this kid, but the chances of him being a starter this year are slim to none. A head-scratcher.

10: 35 PM Eight defensive linemen taken in the first round, with the Dolphins picking Jared Odrick at No. 28. Locking up that line in the AFC East is huge, with Brady and Sanchez (and whoever is in Buffalo).

10:39 PM What is the basement the Jets' pick at No. 29, CB Kyle Wilson, is in during the draft? Odd. Anyhow, with Revis and Antonio-Cromartie, if this guy pans out they will have 3 top-level CBs with a coach who wants to blitz, blitz, blitz. Scary. BTW, how nuts are the New York fans? They even boo their own team's picks.

10:47 PM The prototype of smash-mouth football is a strong defensive line and a game-carrying running back. That's what the Lions are banking on with the pick of Jahvid Best at No. 30, trading up to get him. I said earlier the Lions could be 9-7 this year; I'll say it again. Lions will be in the playoff hunt in November. You heard it here first.

10: 56 PM The five-man crew actually called something right. But then again, everyone knew the Colts needed a pass rusher. With the No. 31 pick, DE Jerry Hughes goes to the Colts. ESPN is showing some crap video of this guy. I don't believe for a second he's going to be a strong bookend with Dwight Freeney, or even a decent backup for him. Not sure about this one.

10:57 PM If I was being considered for the Madden game cover, I'd refuse it. But Drew Brees is going to try to buck a 10-year tradition of the coverboy sucking or getting injured. Make that 11 years.

11:04 PM Saints pick Patrick Robinson, a DB, at No. 32. Just about the least ceremonious first-round pick ever. With just the first round tonight, it was pretty anti-climactic.

Thanks for joining us tonight! For more sports info, head to Now I gotta go give someone a hug...

Cyd Zeigler is the co-founder of, dubbed "ESPN for homos." His NFL expertise has appeared on ESPN and Fox Sports Radio.

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Big Hair Day'

The models meet Whitney Port, hobnob with drag queens and get big hair

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

Krista of 'America's Next Top Model'

Credit: The CW

It’s time to capitulate: Angelea has a personality that makes the saints cry, and she has the shoulders of a 400-year-old banshee who lives in a cairn, and she has a weave that belongs in the backup wig closet at the House of Xtravaganza, but she can model.

At the opening of this episode of Cycle 14 of "America's Next Top Model," Angelea makes no bones about how happy she is that she got the No. 1 picture last week and saw the elimination of archenemy Brenda. Raina is bummed at Brenda’s departure; the two were buddies. Alexandra is sad too, but for a different reason: Her photos ain’t great.

[Full recap of Thursday's (April 21) "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]

Recap: 'American Idol' Results - 'Idol' gives back and sends one singer home

Follow all of the performances, or just check in to find out when somebody's being eliminated

<p>Ryan Seacrest of 'American Idol'</p>

Ryan Seacrest of 'American Idol'

Credit: FOX

Two hours of "Idol Gives Back" loom ahead of us, two hours of performances, guilt-tripping and inspiration, all leading up to a really awkward and possibly inappropriate elimination.

Click through and follow along after the break...

Recap: 'Glee' gets busy to 'The Power of Madonna'

Jumping the shark with shark-jumpers

<p>Rachel in &quot;Glee&quot; episode &quot;The Power of Madonna&quot;</p>

Rachel in "Glee" episode "The Power of Madonna"


This is the episode that Madonna made, thus, this episode is largely about sex.
To be fairer, “The Power of Madonna” was more like the Church of Madonna, with the pop prowess of Madge shoved into every nook and cranny, interstitial and improbably plot device of “Glee.” And sex has been waiting to rear its bald head ever since the episode last year where the gang tackled “Push It.”
But all Madonna all the time? A show of high school outcasts, musical lovers, gays and fanatics made for outcasts, musical lovers, gays and fanatics, this show jumps the shark by design – consciously so – with branding crossovers like this as a continuance of shark jumpage. It does not surprise me, though, “The Power of Madonna” didn’t exactly delight me.
Onto the show! Seemingly from out of nowhere, all in one day, Sue Sylvester reveals her love of Madonna to her diary, and to everybody in the school, with magnum force, using her blackmail toward Principal Figgins to “pipe in” Material Girl songs all day to every room of the school. We’d ask for money, or a nicer office, but to each their own. Sue likes Madge’s “take-no-prisoners demeanor” which, natch, means she starts encouraging her Cheerios to, like Madonna, start dating younger men. It’s a long way to go to make the joke, but at least it gives us the opportunity to see Becky the Retarded Girl in the squad again.
Shoot over to Rachel, who is making girl talk with the other Gleeks, about “making out” and “doing the deed.” Without mentioning him by name – because they’re not supposed to be dating remember – she recalls Jesse St. James trying to encourage her to have sex after they were fooling around post-Wiggles concert. After she refused, he got crappy and left. Each girl went one by one to talk about their experience with sex: Mercedes “can’t wait for a guy to get mad at me for saying no”; Santana says “I never say no,” Tina recalls how Artie was dissing on her vampire look, the ilk. Mr. Schue overhears, concludes this is a problem with guys giving girls poor self-esteem about their bodies and control over their bodies, enter proselytizing.
Before we get there, we see Rachel trying to talk to guidance counselor Emma – sweet “panda-like” Emma who has never gotten busy herself – for some advice when it comes to knowing when one’s ready. This sets Emma off on an inner-tizzy (and leaves room for a good follow-up, wacky right-wing lady joke to last week’s Sarah Palin dig, this time Ann Coulter taking heat) but then again, what doesn’t?
Anyway, so Schue is trying to show the boys how awesome Madonna songs are, after seeing a stilt-enhanced Cheerios performance to “Ray of Light” and has informed the class their next theme is Madonna. The dudes are non-plussed, though conclude that Pantera is like the guy version of Madonna, which is somewhat astute. Something or other is said about the musical message of equality, the girls put on a show of “Express Yourself,” showing only flickerings of skin, thus dudes remain uninterested.
In an effort to date an “inferior man” (younger) and to mess with the Glee club/Rachel, Santana propositions Finn to “lose the big V,” a somewhat antiquated phrase I personally wouldn’t have written. “You’re as sexy as a Cabbage Patch Kid. It’s exhausting to look at you,” she tells him. Woman knows how to woo. He’s like, no thanks, but after some heart-racing, library-lovin’, hallway-dancin’ action with Rachel on a “Borderline”/”Open Your Heart” mash-up (after she tells Finn that she’s secretly dating Jesse St. James), Finn is revved up and tells Santana he’s game.
Emma is told by Sue that she doesn’t deserve Madonna in her office (the wires were cut) for some ridiculous reason, which makes Emma throw herself at Schue (her words, not mine). They make a date to do the dirty that night, Schue is secretly excited because it turns out he’s a red-blooded male like all the other guys.
After an assault on Schue for stealing her idea of Madonna songs (“You can have Cher, Barbra, Christina…” but please note, kiddos, Madonna is NOT public domain, as Schue retorts) Schue makes a dig back at Sue, at her hair. This hits her like a ton of pom-poms. Kurt and Mercedes notice this, and approach Sue. Sure reveals that she’s had damaged hair since a Madonna-induced incident in her younger years, and that she’s just always been jealous of Schue’s wavy locks.
“Mercedes is black, I’m gay. We make culture.” Kurt astounds me with his wisdom. They decide to rope Sue into their little A/V project, a remake of “Vogue,” which we have posted for you here. If we were Kurt, and owned that white scarf, we’d wear it to bed. We’d wear it to the shower, to the gym. That is all.
Anyway, Jesse St. James (oh, that name) tries to make it up to Rachel, says he’s willing to wait, while Rachel spits out that she thinks she’s ready. As they hug, JSJ all but has horns growing from his head.
Split to three scenes: Finn about to get busy with Santana, Rachel with Jesse, Ms. Pillsbury with Mr. Schuester. Poor sweet Rachel “prepares” by wearing one of those nightgowns like she’s in “West Side Frikkin’ Story” and Finn/Santana have a hotel room that resembles a bordello. They all sing “Like a Virgin” all razzle-dazzlin’, but it ends up a mystery – for a bit – who actually ends up having sex. It is a fine opportunity for hair tossing.
All is revealed next, as Rachel and Finn catch up Monday on each other’s dates. Rachel lies and says it was “no big deal”: but she and Jesse didn’t “go there” because she feels like she’d be sleeping with the enemy. She also uses the phrase “give myself to you” which gives me the heebies. Finn says that he’s decided to wait: this is a lie. Cut to a scene of him and Santana sitting upright in bed, clothed (?) both of them feeling nothing. Santana says one shouldn’t expect to feel anything after the first “20 or 30 times.” It’s actually really sad, the way she says this.
And Emma and Schue, it ends up, didn’t have sex. Schue feels bad for letting her throw herself at him, they decide not to date until the divorce is final (but, hey, he filed that day!), he gives her the number to a psychologist to work out her self-esteem issues and sex and stuff. Also pretty bright.
All’s not right with Glee, though, because Jesse Saint James has transferred to McKinley. Schue’s down, because it gives them the leg up in competition for regionals, Rachel’s down so that she may feel more comfortable giving leg up on Jesse, Jesse says something about true love and how he’d rather be with Rachel than win another national title (remember: horns). The rest of the cast is unhappy because they think he’s a spy (true), he’ll take all the solos (also true) and he’s kind of a douche that nobody else seems to like (sure, he’s hunky, but true).
Fast forward to a pep rally, the marching band marches, cheerleaders cheer, and Mercedes and Kurt are singing – “4 Minutes” the lyrics to which I will now change to “We’ve only got 44 minutes to hear Kurt sing.” Schue is hurt, but the two students say they wanted more opportunity to shine, so they’re going to do both. Sue is satisfied. She also uses the term “brassy hag,” which is very loveable.
Ah, a spoken word-sound intro for the boys into the soothing sounds of “What It Feels Like
For a Girl.” I instantly forget it. After an over-the-top feminazi screed from Tina, Artie gets the whole “respect women” thing down, which soothes his gal. “I was really rude to you, and you’re awesome.” Then he jokes/propositions that “if you wanna get up on it, just let me know.” Haha.
Jesse St. James notices Finn talking to Rachel after school, gets all puffy-chested (a sing off! In the parking lot! 5pm!), Finn refuses, gets all sweet and let’s Jesse and Rachel have all the room they want. Which makes Rachel dreamy-eyed. They head off to “practice” which features the most overblown, ridiculously cheesy number the Gleeks have done yet: “Like a Prayer.” I for one don’t believe groups can take a 40-person gospel choir to regionals, but let’s just suspend that reality, shall we? There’s candles and stuff, break dancing dude makes another show. Kurt sings in falsetto and Rachel sighs. End scene.
Highlights this week include a pamphlet in Emma’s office entitled “Help! I’m in love with my Step-Dad” and the hallway of Madonna look-alikes from different eras, as Rachel and Finn sing past. Not a lot of action, not a lot of hot-and-heavy action, but there’s always next week’s not-Madonna ep.


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