<p>'V'</p>

'V'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'V' - 'Fruition'

This episode just moved pieces into place, so let's talk about what could improve the show overall.

Tonight's episode of "V" concludes with a scene where one guy we don't care about cuts a deal with an alien we don't care about. And that deal is one we're pretty much just finding out is in the works. And we don't really care about the deal either, even though it's supposed to be setting up the big season finale next week, the episode that's supposed to make us want to see the show come back from the brink of cancellation. Now, theoretically, this is all interesting, since it should have some big implications for both sides of this war, but in actuality, it's really kind of pointless. Why should we care? "V" doesn't know. It just wants to do some things that it knows serialized dramas are supposed to do.

[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 11) "V" and things the show might want to try in the future, after the break...]

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<p>Chad Ochocinco during his Monday performance on 'Dancing with the Stars'</p>

Chad Ochocinco during his Monday performance on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Results - Chad and Niecy face off

The final four are chosen – and one couple gets the boot

Boo, hiss, it’s elimination Tuesday. It’s time for yet another celebrity to set aside his or her bedazzled spandex costumes and slink out the door. Elimination Tuesdays are generally just a bad scene. Sometimes there’s crying and it’s always uncomfortable and a little sad, like seeing your parents doing it on the sofa or breaking your ankle on the first day of a two week ski trip. Of course, if a reality dance show really bums you out, that’s depressing in and of itself, so let’s just move on, shall we?

[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 11) "Dancing with the Stars" results after the break...]

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<p>The 'American Idol' Top Four plus the star of 'Stealth'</p>

The 'American Idol' Top Four plus the star of 'Stealth'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Duets, Jamie Foxx and Movie Songs for the Final 4

Crystal Bowersox shines in the solos, but Mike and Casey have a surprising duet

Tuesday (May 11) night's "American Idol" featured a troublesome theme (Songs from The Movies) and a troublesome mentor (Jamie Foxx). With the Finals only two weeks away, would anybody from the Top Four step up and make a case that they're deserving of becoming America's Next Top Model? Or whatever it is that they're here for?

Full recap of Tuesday's performances after the break...

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<p>Niecy Nash of 'Dancing with the Stars'</p>

Niecy Nash of 'Dancing with the Stars'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Performances - Nicole and Erin are tops

One couple gets a perfect score, but another could be on the way out

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! It’s the week before the semi-finals! Which would be much more exciting if Nicole wasn’t walking away with the competition and ABC didn’t plump what should be a one hour show into a two hour epic like it’s one of those saline-injected roasted chickens at Costco.

This week, every couple must stumble through not one but two dances. Horrors! For the second routine, the dancers must hoof it Latin-style in either the style of the '50s, '60s, '80s, '90s or the future. Tom quickly points out that the '70s aren’t included, which just strikes me as weird. Is there not a single '70s song that has a Latin beat? Or are the producers just hating on hippies and groovy music? Of course, the fear is the costume designers will break out the halter tops and bell bottoms, and if we can avoid that, well, that’s really for the best.

Yay, it’s time for a filler segment! God forbid we actually get to the dancing right away or anything! This time, the pros must criticize their competition. Erin gets slammed for not trusting Maks enough. Evan’s total lack of chemistry with Anna is noted without anyone pointing out that Evan is simply chemistry deficient in general. Chad is encouraged to move his ass. Nicole is perfect. Duh. Niecy needs to work on her technique. Double duh. I have learned exactly nothing from this segment. Except that the pros are too smart to be honest. Anyway, it’s time to dance, so let’s get this show going!

[Full recap of Monday's (May 10) "Dancing with the Stars" after the break...]

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<p>Zachary Levi and Christopher Lloyd of 'Chuck'</p>

Zachary Levi and Christopher Lloyd of 'Chuck'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Tooth'

After two zippy episodes, Chuck experiences bad dreams
This recap is superfluous. 
 
HitFix has Alan Sepinwall now. He doesn't just recap "Chuck." He *saved* "Chuck." It says so in the flash banners that still swaddle our site. 
 
It's not like I'm incapable of disagreeing with Alan, but in this case, I happen to share his general sentiment on "Chuck vs. the Tooth," which was a worthy if not completely successful attempt to expand on the show's tonal tapestry. 
 
I'm almost writing this recap entirely because so many of Alan's readers are taking him to task for not loving the episode, since it's unclear how many of my observations are going to be new (I only skimmed Alan's recap). 
 
So why didn't I love "Chuck vs. the Tooth"? I guess that's after the break...
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<p>Gregory Itzin of '24'</p>

Gregory Itzin of '24'

Credit: FOX

Recap: '24' Day 8 - '12 p.m. to 1 p.m.'

With Jack in possession of damaging evidence, Chloe starts to understand the scope of the conspiracy.

Confession time: I might go see the “24” movie that’s apparently in the works. It’s not because I’m enjoying the final season of the show, but quite frankly I’m interested in the idea of it far more than the current execution. The show has become a slave to its own conventions, and those conventions would necessarily have to be thrown off once a major motion picture. For now, the show’s simply moving through familiar beats, uninterested in making things new as opposed to simply trying to one-up previous iterations of the same plot points. A little more creativity and a little less gore would be a welcome change. Maybe even worth my admission ticket at the local cineplex. But we’re not here to talk about the upcoming film: merely tonight’s lackluster episode, which featured far too few twists, except when said twists damaged human tissue. 

[Full recap of Monday's (May 10) "24" after the break...]

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<p>Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad'</p>

Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad'

Credit: AMC

Recap: 'Breaking Bad' - 'I See You'

'Breaking Bad' tones it down after several episodes of high tension.

In pretty much every way, "I See You" is a deliberate ramping down of the tension that's been building up throughout the last few episodes of "Breaking Bad." This makes sense, in a way. The episodes of "Breaking Bad" that often have the least tension in them are the season premieres, and after last week's episode, most of the show's big storylines had come to a close. After a full season of having the screws turned more and more tightly on him, Walt was almost completely in the clear. The Cousins had been removed from the picture, Dean was going to be at least temporarily off Jesse's trail, and no one was going to be getting in his way. Walter White has been weaseling his way out of impossible situations for so long, that I was worried the drama would disappear from the show as the suspense did.

So did it? Well, this episode was a bit of a step back from the previous two, but it was also a nicely paced hour, with at least a couple of jolts to the system.

 

[Full recap of Sunday's (May 9) "Breaking Bad" after the break...]

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<p>Jet &amp; Cord of 'The Amazing Race'</p>

Jet & Cord of 'The Amazing Race'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' 16 Finale - 'Huger than Huge'

The Final Three race through San Francisco, where one loser sours the finale
Wow. 
 
Sunday (May 9) was the finale of "The Amazing Race" and one team won a million dollars and two other teams managed to make it to the final pit stop, running through the gauntlet of their eliminated comrades, enjoying respect and admiration.
 
I should be wanting to congratulate the winners, who ran a generally decent Race and weren't to be blamed for a lamely designed final leg. I should be a little disappointed, but not outraged, that the only team I really liked finished second, never losing their composure or their sense of humor. And I should be generally ambivalent about the team that finished third, since they didn't have an especially admirable "Amazing Race" departure. 
 
Instead all I want to do is make fun of one of the show's many losers, the biggest loser of all: Pathetic, bitter, ignorant, conceited Brandy. Yech. 
 
I'm not sure if Brandy is at fault for being the awful person that she clearly is (or has been showcased to be), or if the show's producers and editors are at fault for not only giving her a soapbox, but for letting her ugliness be the final and lingering thought from the season. I'm almost inclined to believe the latter, since there was no reason at all why the season couldn't have ended happily and triumphantly for the Top Three. Nobody cared what Brandy had to say and nobody had to see it. 
 
Thus, this season of "Amazing Race" ended sourly and that was the choice the "Amazing Race" producers made. 
 
[Full recap, with results, from Sunday's "Amazing Race" finale after the break...]
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<p>Betty White</p>

Betty White

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Betty White and Jay-Z deliver a season highlight

Facebook got this one right. The 'Golden Girls' star helps to elevate the 'SNL' writing
Betty White is an extremely funny lady, Jay-Z is a darn engaging performer, and when you start listing off "Saturday Night Live" alumni like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch you can't help but think back to some pretty darn memorable sketches and characters. In other words, on paper, this has the potential to be one of the strongest episodes of the series in a very long time.
 
However, the big question I had going into tonight's episode is whether it will actually be able to properly do justice to this potential: White seems too old to be able to carry a full host's load, and while bringing in a wheelbarrow full of past cast members allows her to take on fewer sketches it may also crowd out her contribution to the episode. The balance between the internet-appointed host and the likes of Fey and Poehler is not going to be easy, and I don't know how Betty White fans will respond to Jay-Z as the musical guest.
 
Ultimately, the most-hyped "SNL" since the 2008 election delivers what it promises: with an absolutely journeywoman-esque performance from White and some energy from the returning cast members, the show turns in one of its most enjoyable episodes in recent memory even if the material never quite feels like it earns the talent who bring it to life.
 
[Full recap of Saturday's (May 8) "SNL" after the break...]
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<p>Mia Kirshner and Ian Somerhalder of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

Mia Kirshner and Ian Somerhalder of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'Isobel'

Elena's vampire mama set all of Mystic Falls aflutter, with only one episode remaining!
A secret alliance, a broken marriage, a deadly agenda, and the daughter she never knew -- vampire mama Isobel was at the epicenter of practically ALL of the drama this week, which saw quite possibly the most amazing guest performance in the entire series thus far, courtesy of Mia Kirshner. The woman should win an award for general bad-assery from this episode alone. Because as much as she convinces you to love to hate her for much of "Isobel," Kirshner pulls out some revelatory material in the ep's final moments that instantly makes her one of this show's most intriguing and compelling characters. (Now, if the writers could just give some of that mojo to poor, suffering Caroline...)
 
With only one more episode to go before the May 13 season finale -- and the months of agonizing withdrawal that will surely follow -- Episode 21 also brought the focus back to the drama in almost every relationship in Mystic Falls: beefing besties Tyler and Matt, awkward ex-BFFs Bonnie and Elena, even the budding bromance between Damon and Alaric. And finally, FINALLY, someone in the show acknowledged that of which Elena is in complete and total denial: the growing love triangle between her, Stefan, and Damon! But first, Elena must discover the true nature of her undead birth mother. Alaric must also get his chance to confront Isobel for leaving him high and dry (and then turning into a vampire). And you thought running into your ex was bad. 
 
Keep some tissue on hand just in case. I'm just saying.  
 
[Full recap of Thursday's (May 6) "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]
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