<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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<p>Joshua Jackson of 'Fringe'</p>

Joshua Jackson of 'Fringe'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Northwest Passage'

With Walter and Olivia searching for Peter, he stumbles across a threat possibly connected to his past.

 

The final two episodes of “Fringe” should be incredible. Flat out awesome. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the final two episodes of “Fringe,” but rather its antepenultimate episode. That allows me to use big words like “antepenultimate,” which is fun and all. But the episode itself was less so. For those that thought “Brown Betty” was the show spinning its wheels, they must have found tonight’s episode even more infuriating. In essence, the episode was one long fake-out designed to give Peter food for thought before the cliffhanger turned his world upside down. 

[Full recap of Thursday's (May 6) "Fringe" after the break...]

Tonight’s episode played out like a combination of “The X-Files” and “The Fugitive,” with a now nomadic Peter winding his way through America. Running away from his past without any particular place to go, he finds himself in a diner in Noyo County, Washington. He still has Boston on his mind, as evidenced by his selection of pecan pie (the last thing he offered to make with Walter). Krista Manning works in this diner: the kind of impossibly adorable waitress that makes mix CD’s for customers based on their aura. Reminds me of every trip to IHOP, personally: a bottomless cup of coffee and the latest Kings of Leon to listen to on the way home. 

A mysterious call to his hotel room (sounding like the static heard in “The Man from The Other Side”) pricks up Peter’s Spidey senses. And when Krista ends up missing (with Newton mysteriously appearing on the scene), Peter decides to stop running and start hunting. He pairs up with two local law enforcement officials, one of whom is played by Martha Plimpton and one of whom is not. Plimpton plays Officer Mathis, who more than likely watches “The X-Files” when not on-duty. She wants to believe…except when it’s staring her straight in the face.  

Peter’s convinced that Krista’s disappearance (and the subsequent disappearance of Mathis’ partner Ferguson) is tied into Newton’s phonecalls to Peter, a way to triangulate his location for…some unknown purpose. In Newton, Peter sees answers. So rather than allow Mathis to call the FBI and help, he suggests they work together to trap Newton. Peter’s reasons are both plausible (if the FBI descend, Newton could split) and personal (he doesn’t exactly want to be found, and makes Broyles promise to keep his location private from Walter.) When Ferguson goes missing, Mathis sees Peter as her only hope for finding her partner in crime and in bed. 

But his attempts to be the Mulder to Mathis’ Scully don’t quite have the effects he intended. Talk of temporal lobe removal and shapeshifting call Peter’s sanity into question, and his lack of sleep doesn’t help things, either. Further complicating things are Newton’s newfound ability to seemingly appear and disappear as he chooses, thanks to his unnamed associate who has a cellphone that can apparently phase them in and out of sight. (Does the iPhone have an app for that?) Furthermore, a third victim appears, seemingly having no connection to Peter at all. Like The Beastie Boys, he thinks he’s losing his mind this time. This time? He’s losing his mind. And you can’t front on that. 

Meanwhile, in Boston, Walter’s losing his mind completely: the house is unkempt, there’s no food in the fridge, and he’s shouting to the high heavens about, “Delicious, strawberry-flavored death!” in supermarkets. The man who was labeling everything in his lab last week is now a frumpled mess, worried that Peter’s absence will mean an inevitable trip back to the mental hospital. (His fear isn’t entirely unjustified: Broyles’ non-answer to Olivia on this matter is an answer in and of itself.)  

Walter eventually realizes that he could find Peter by creating a device to measure the “shimmer” emanating objects from the other side, in essence creating a Peter radar. But at the last minute, he subverts the experiment, which Astrid immediately recognizes. (She is all sorts of awesome, taking care of Walter and intuitively knowing him better than he knows himself at this point.) For Walter, finding Peter and still not being forgiven is worse than never finding him at all. But after Olivia arrives with knowledge of Peter’s whereabouts, Walter steels up to visit him anyways. 

Too bad he’s too late. The case in Washington wasn’t the work of Newton, but merely a deranged owner of an abandoned dairy farm. He just wanted to be “close to them,” which is pretty much Psycho Killer 101, along with the jars full of organs from past victims as well. Before departing, Mathis offers Peter advice that might come in handy in a few episodes in the form of an anecdote: she became a cop to avenge the murder of her family, but found a home instead of revenge in the police force. Interesting advice, in that immediately after Newton gets the drop on Peter and introduces him to “The Secretary.” That man? The Walternate, of course: the man that walked across the bridge, the man from the other side, now here to take his son home. And, in the process, possibly end all life in this universe. 

A few bullets from tonight’s episode: 

I sort of scoffed at this line by Mathis: “You’re looking for meaning in things that have no meaning.” How very meta. Am I watching “Lost” again? Isn’t this Thursday, not Tuesday? 

I would definitely watch a show in which Peter Bishop went from town to town, solving bizarre mysteries with the background of an impending apocalypse hanging over each week. But I’m pretty sure that “Supernatural” already is running with this idea. Still, I like the idea of “Droppin’ Mad Science,” which is the title I just gave this Peter Bishop anthology-series. Make it so, FOX. Make it so. 

That Bazooka Joe comic (with its “You Can’t Get There From Here!” punchline) was a little too anvilicious for my tastes, but then again, this entire episode was an exercise in reteaching Peter Bishop the value of unusual families in unusual times. 

I can’t wait to find out what the Walternate is Secretary of, exactly. Defense? Science? Interdimensional Buttkicking? Does “Secretary” even mean the same thing over there as it does here? Can’t wait to find out. 

Another shout-out from “The Man From The Other Side,” in addition to the pecan pie: Peter’s cartography skills getting another workout in triangulating the possible location for the medical facility used to extract body parts from his victims. With the tendencies in shows to rely on Magical Technology to solve problems (both literally magical and the type of magic employed by “24” where people can whip up programs on the fly with ease), it’s nice to see a low-tech solution to problems employed. 

I realize that these shows have budgets, but they couldn’t have picked a better song for that mix CD? I would have put The Doors’ “Break on Through” as Track 1. Guess the rights to that were too expensive.  

After the masterful build-up after its long hiatus, culminating with Peter’s realization of his true origin, “Fringe” has largely stood in place over the last two weeks. Last week’s noir-themed mindscape was a fun (albeit late in the game) diversion, but this week’s episode really felt like padding before the final push. The misdirections involving Newton didn’t feel clever so much as manipulative, with the entire point simply to bounce him around until the final, “shocking” reveal. Given that the identity of The Secretary wasn’t that hard to guess, I suppose only that he appeared tonight could be classified as a surprise. Charles Dickens once wrote a tale about two cities. “Fringe” is writing a tale about two fathers. I’m on board for what’s to come, but it’s taken us a little longer than I expected to actually get there.  

What did you make of Peter’s Pacific detour: necessary to set the stage or simply a waste of time? Is Peter’s importance defined by his two fathers, or by something intrinsic within himself? What songs would you have put on Peter’s CD? Leave your thoughts below! 

 

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

Rupert of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' - 'Sinking Ship'

Double-elimination and a bulge in Rupert's pocket turn the season upside down
Pre-credit sequence. I miss you, Amanda! I'm not sure if anybody else does, but still... Are the Heroes on the verge of a total Pagong-ing? It sure looks as if things are heading that way. It's Night 30 as the remaining castaways return to the Yin Yang camp. Jerri's grateful to Candice for joining their alliance at Tribal Council that evening, but she's distrustful of anybody who would switch that easily. Rupert is even more unhappy with the flip-flopping Candice. He calls her a "pitiful player" and says that Candice belonged on the Villains tribe, declaring, "Colby and I are standing on a sinking ship now. There are no other Heroes."
 
[After Thursday's (May 6) "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" would there be any true Heroes left? Click through...]
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<p>Alexandra of 'America's Next Top Model'</p>

Alexandra of 'America's Next Top Model'

Credit: Tyra Banks/The CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Hobbits vs. Models'

Tyra Banks goes behind the camera to get fierceness from the Top 5

Final five, bitches! Alexandra is ready to flatten some skinny competition! Jessica is ready to use her face to fierce it up! Krista is on a “high high” after being picked first last week! Octomom, I mean Angelea, is starting to show her jealous stripes with onetime friend Krista. 

Oh, more intelligence on Jessica: She’s a stay at home mom who doesn’t know how to use a toaster without setting stuff on fire and then screaming until someone else puts it out.
 
[Full recap of Wednesday's (May 5) "America's Next Top Model" after the break...]
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<p>Michael Lynche of 'American Idol'</p>

Michael Lynche of 'American Idol'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Results - 'Idol' reaches its Final Four

Harry Connick Jr. and Lady Gaga perform before before the latest elimination

9:01 p.m. Wait. Did Ryan Seacrest just sign up for FourSquare one minute before the start of a Wednesday (May 5) "American Idol" results show? That's what his Twitter account seems to be indicating. [Note: I follow Seacrest on Twitter because every once in a while he tells me important things like when he saved the season by heroically rescuing Crystal Bowersox from her insecurities. He, however, does not follow me. You suck, Seacrest! No, I kid. A little. Maybe.]

9:02 p.m. Yes, Feliz Cinco de Mayo to you as well, Ryan.

9:02 p.m. Ryan says that 32 million votes were cast last night. That number isn't going up, Ryan. You may wanna stop mentioning it. It only exposes the show's overall decline, since it isn't hard to go back and check out voting totals from past seasons.

[Full recap of Wednesday's "American Idol" results after the break...]

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<p>Has John Locke been a ticking time bomb since his earliest moments on the Island in the first episode of &quot;Lost&quot;?</p>

Has John Locke been a ticking time bomb since his earliest moments on the Island in the first episode of "Lost"?

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Lost' 6.14 'The Candidate' racks up a body count

Alterna-Locke's endgame kicks into a bloody high gear

You know it's going to be a packed episode when there's no time for a "previously on" montage at the start of the show.

My entire Twitter reaction to tonight's episode:  "Oh, my.  OH, MY.  You hear me, 'Lost'?  I SAID OH, MY."

The show started cold this week with Locke in TIMELINE A waking up in recovery after being operated on to repair the damage done when Desmond ran him down.  The first thing Locke sees after waking up is Jack, who wants to discuss the emergency surgery with him and to inform him that there's a good chance another surgery might restore his ability to walk. "You're a candidate," he tells him, and Jack's excited to share the news, which makes it more confusing when Locke tells him that he doesn't want any more help from Jack.

Helen shows up, emotional about Locke's close call, and she starts to profusely thank Jack for saving Locke.  As she does, we jump to TIMELINE B, where Jack wakes up on Hydra Island, having been saved in this timeline by AlternaLocke and Sayid.

Meanwhile, in Widmore's camp, the rest of the Lostaways are being herded into the polar bear cages, and Sawyer decides he's not getting back in one of those cages, no matter what.  He snatches the gun away from Babyface and tells him he's not doing it.  Widmore walks out and puts a gun to Kate's head.  When Sawyer tries to call Widmore's bluff, Widmore explains, "I have a list of four names.  Kate Austin is not on it."  That does it.  Sawyer backs down.  As they're all being locked into the polar bear cages, Widmore asks his people about the fence and when it will be ready.  They tell him it'll be about an hour.  "We haven't got an hour," Widmore responds.  "He's coming."

Indeed he is.

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