Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
Whispers explained, eyes opened, and a Scotsman down a well make for a big week
What is the nature of the Flash Sideways?
It has become the sole question that matters at this point in the home stretch of "Lost," and how they stick the landing all depends on the reveal and the execution of the wrap-up. There have been clues trickling in for weeks now, starting with episode 6.06, "Sundown," where Sayid's Flash Sideways had the distinct feeling of a deal with the devil gone subtly wrong. There have been complaints from fans this year that the way characters keep crossing paths in the Flash Sideways/Timeline A stuff is "too convenient," but I think it all makes sense if you accept that we are seeing a construct, a Timeline in which people have been given a second chance at things that is supposed to keep them distracted by "solving" their imperfect lives. The question remains... how could that be happening, and who did it to them? And with only a few hours left in the season, at what point will we see the mechanism that kicked Timeline A into existence?
There's an amazing, ambitious video game called "Fallout 3" that is set in a post-apocalyptic American landscape dotted with underground bunkers known as Vaults. Most of the game plays out in a fairly linear fashion, but there's one Vault in particular that you walk into, and when you hook up to the life-support machines you find there, you are suddenly launched into a radically different game, set in an idyllic black-and-white "Leave It To Beaver" version of the 1950s. Why and how and what you have to do to make it back to the real game is one of the most deliciously weird and creepy left-turns I've ever encountered in a game, and I walked away impressed by the ambition of that choice. The safe thing to do for the producers of "Lost" would have been to make this final season a single linear storyline that just answered questions set up by the first five seasons, running down them like a checklist. That would have been safe and satisfying and completely predictable. Which is why I'm glad and surprised that they chose instead to layer in a whole new element to the show's mythology, using one of the most outrageous storytelling choices in the entire six years of the show.
From the Beatles to All-American Rejects, battles to rejection
In typical “Glee” fashion, the show’s creators waste no time back into action, as “Hell-O” kicks off the new season. Within an hour, Rachel loses Finn, finds new “love,” is forced to break up with that guy, then enters back into the relationship secretly and Finn tries wooing her back. And that’s just one storyline.
In an instrumental allusion to Rachel's best number from last season, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from triumphant “Sectionals,” the Gleeks walk down the hall like rock stars (“I feel like Lady Gaga,” says Kurt), that is until the inevitable slushies meet face. And we’re off!
[Full recap of Tuesday's (April 13) "Glee" after the break...]
The Resistance's past, Tyler's past and V torture techniques and secrets galore fill a busy episode
Like "FlashForward" before it, "V" is starting to reveal that there's a show inside of it that could work, if only the show as it actually exists would just eschew everything but one or two of its characters. On "FlashForward," the only stuff that's ever worked is everything that's had to do with the conspiracy dudes who are trying to bring the world down, but the series remains committed to its cop show center, the least interesting part of the show. On "V," increasingly, I'm getting into the story of renegade V Ryan and his attempts to bring down his own species in honor of the woman he's come to love and the entire human race, whose "emotions" he has come to crave. "John May," then, is another good Ryan hour grafted onto an episode that has literally no idea what to do with anything else.
[Full recap of Tuesday's (April 13)
Risque mentor aside, most of the 'Idol' singers play it safe with double-elimination looming
Welcome to Tuesday (April 13) night's "American Idol," or as I like to call it "FOX's lead-in to the return of 'Glee.'"
With Adam Lambert mentoring the contestants in fabulousness, "American Idol" is tackling Elvis tonight (not literally tackling him, cuz he's dead and that would be disrespectful) which may be... Eclectic.
Thanks to the Judges' Save last week, we've got 9 performances in 88 minutes, which means that, if nothing else, Tuesday's show will be our least-padded "Idol" in weeks.
Click through for the full recap...
Chloe receives an unusual offer, and President Taylor enlists an unlikely ally
Two weeks, two silent countdowns to end an episode of “24.” You could take that to mean the show’s going out with a bang, literally. Or, you could take that to mean that we could quickly get desensitized to all the death about to come our way in the final few hours of the series’ run. I’m all for ramping things up to go out in a blaze of glory, but there’s a chance that we might be too numb to care by that point. As numb as Jack at episode’s end.
But we’ll get there eventually. Onto the rest of the recap! Let’s take a look at what happened in three major locations this week.
Walt's still not cooking, but 'Breaking Bad' is as riveting as ever.
It's tough to say much about "Green Light" without saying anything about next week's episode of "Breaking Bad." I normally try to avoid watching additional episodes unless I've been able to write up the ones I've already seen, but these two hours of "Breaking Bad" work so well together, almost as one, big, two-hour "Breaking Bad" movie, that it's hard to avoid the cause and effect the two episodes set up and pay off. This week is all cause (for the most part), while next week is all effect. "Breaking Bad" has never been a series that has had a lot of non-serialized elements, but these two hours tie tightly together in the mind, even after I've rewatched this hour, and they work well as a suggestion of how the series sets up storylines to come.
[Full recap of Sunday's (April 11) "Breaking Bad" after the break...]
The teams head to Singapore for ice cream sandwiches, drumming and dumbing
Unlike "Survivor" or "Big Brother," "The Amazing Race" isn't really a social game. Yes, teamwork is essential to strong performance within each team, but alliances and friendships between different teams tend to be largely irrelevant as a determining factor.
We all know that reality TV contestants only rarely go on shows to make friends, so the motto on a show like "The Amazing Race" probably should be the same as that Latin phrase often misattributed to the Hippocratic Oath: Primum non nocere, or "first do no harm."
That is to say that nobody is requiring you to become Facebook buddies or to exchange e-mail addresses and stay in touch with your rivals for a million bucks, but you probably shouldn't go out of your way to make enemies. Because having allies rarely helps you on "The Amazing Race," but having enemies can sometimes bite you in the rump.
That was the lesson learned by Brandy & Carol on Sunday (April 11) night's episode of "The Amazing Race."
[Full recap after the break...]
Watch: 'Date Night' star has a welcome return and Steve Martin has a cameo
In a season that has been fairly low on high-profile hosts and musical guests, “Saturday Night Live” decided to kick off April with quite the combination. Tina Fey is a former cast member (great for drawing in jaded fans who insist that “SNL” has gone downhill), the star of a “hip” television show (NBC’s own “30 Rock,” so bonus points for network synergy), and currently starring in a hit movie (“Date Night,” which will open strong at the box office this weekend according to early estimates). Combine with the fact that she intends on bringing her Sarah Palin impression (which brought huge ratings in the leadup to the 2008 election) out of retirement, and the fact that Fey is actually very funny and likeable, and you have a host that manages to be good for NBC’s bottom line while being great for the show as well.
Of course, NBC had to go and ruin it all by bringing in some teenage singer no one’s ever heard of to be the musical guest; has anyone even heard of “Justin Bieber?” I mean, it’s not like he’s been consistently trending on Twitter for what seems like years or anything, right? And I’m sure he doesn’t currently have the #1 album in the country - that just seems crazy. If he was that successful, though, he’d be quite the coup for the show, and they’d truly have a hit episode on their hands.
And by hit episode, I mean one of the most humorously incongruous pairings in the show’s history, which is at least good for a laugh.
[A recap of the Tina Fey-Justin Bieber "Saturday Night Live" showdown after the break...]
Stefan's in danger as a storm brings drama to Mystic Fallsâ€¦
The "Vampire Diaries" folks aren't messing around this week, getting things going with the quickness as Stefan is attacked the morning after fending off the new vampire Frederick in last week's episode. As Stefan finds himself in mortal danger, Damon, Elena, Alaric, and Caroline find themselves headed to Pearl's house in the woods. The heat, as they say, is on!
[Full recap of Thursday's (April 8) "The Vampire Diaries," titled "Let the Right One In," after the break…]
Itâ€™s the last challenge before Bryant Park â€“ and one designer chokes
Eeeek! It’s the last challenge before Bryant Park! Can you stand it? Best of all, Anthony is not only back but riding a win, so part of me is thinking this might be his Cinderfella moment and he’s going to prove to those judges they screwed the pooch giving him the boot because he is back, bitches! I love storybook endings, don’t you? I will say I am a little sad that there’s only one girl left, and it happens to be Mila, which hardly counts. But this is exciting, isn’t it?
[Full recap of Thursday's (April 8) "Project Runway" after the break...]