Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics
Michael Emerson does some of his best work of the series in an excellent episode
Richard and Jack had a rather tense talk in just one of the many memorable scenes from 'Dr. Linus,' this week's episode of the final season of 'Lost'
Holy cow. As a friend of mine just commented on Twitter, "I haven't cried during a 'Lost' episode in forever. Who knew it would be Ben that broke that streak?"
The arc that Michael Emerson has followed over the course of this series is one of the great happy accidents in TV history, and I find him endlessly watchable. As most 'Lost' fans know, when he was hired to play his role, it was not designed to be as central to the show as it's become, but the producers and the writers watched what he was doing and how audiences were reacting to him, and they shifted things, making Ben Linus a key part of the larger mythology of the Island. And the show is definitely better for it. Ben is one of those characters that they must love writing for, both funny and menacing, sad and scary, all of it depending on the context of the particular episode.
So should it be a surprise that probably the best episode of this final season so far is the one where Ben is the focus? Probably not.
The "previously on" clips this week were short. We saw the death of Jacob, then Jack and Hurley in the lighthouse as Jack's brain melted, then Jacob's warning to Hurley and the rampage where Smokey kicked everyone's ass at the Temple. And then finally, the one beat from last week that I really didn't mention in my recap, when Ben found Sayid sitting over the bodies of Dogen and Lennon and said, "There's still time."
With a big elimination coming, the ladies play it safe and only Siobhan and Crystal truly shine
Siobhan Magnus of 'American Idol'
For the past two weeks on "American Idol," we've done 12 performances and then 10 performances spread over two hours. That has allowed for quality informational tidbits on the contestants. Yes, "quality" and "informational" can both be put in ironic quotes, if you like.
On Tuesday (March 9), though... It's eight performances in an hour. So let's go!
Fully recap after the break...
As Jack deals with a tricky situation, Cole and Dana try and cover their tracks at CTU.
Mary Lynn Rajskub of '24'
After a season of mediocre episodes punctured by the occasional exciting action scene or a particular vigorous line reading of “DAMNIT!” by Kiefer Sutherland, “24” delivered it’s most polished hour of the season. While no means perfect, it slipped in some solid drama, good tension, the introduction of a potentially great new character, and a twist that I didn’t see coming a mile away. Did it salvage the season? No. But as an hour of entertainment, it acquitted itself quite admirably. Onto the recap!
[Full recap of Monday's (March 8) "24" after the break...]
So much big stuff! Fans are gonna love Monday's 'Chuck.' Why didn't we?
Zachary Levi and Josh Gomez of 'Chuck'
I'm a TV critic, but I'm also a TV fan. I'm a "Chuck" fan, but I'm also a TV critic. And if you're looking for me tonight, you may find me off on an island, all by myself.
As the Olympics were beginning and "Chuck" went off the air for a couple weeks, critics and "Chuck"-friendly bloggers were sent the next four "Chuck" episodes. I watched the episodes, greatly enjoyed them in the balance and felt pretty solid in my feelings.
Then I started reading reactions to Monday's (March 8) episode, titled "Chuck vs. the Beard" via twitter. From the people whose opinions I respect the most (The Sepinwalls and Ryans and a few others) to the people whose opinions I respect the least (You're seriously expecting specific examples?), the reactions were unanimously positive. And they weren't just positive. My Twitter feed has been full of "Best episode ever!" and "I laughed, I cried, I was cured of my chronic halitosis"-style tweets.
And the "Chuck" fan in me understands where they're coming from. There are things that happen in Monday's "Chuck" that have been long overdue and things that happen that promise to change the foundation of the show, presumably permanently. And the "Chuck" fan in me hopes that other "Chuck" fans are happy, because I know from message boards and comment fields that there has been some up-and-down reactions to recent episodes and not just from Chuck/Sarah 'shippers, who unfairly get painted as the only viewers capable of dissatisfaction. So just as I want to be pleased in my own fandom, I want "Chuck" fans to be pleased. I think that after "Chuck vs. the Beard," there will be happiness.
If I'm going to rave about the "Chuck" episodes that I love, I can't be tacit about the episodes I don't like, because that's not true to either the critic hat I wear, nor to the "Chuck" t-shirt I sometimes wear to bed.
Like I said, I'm on an island, because I'm the guy who didn't really like "Chuck vs. the Beard."
I'll try to explain myself after the break, while also recapping the episode. Then, I welcome any appreciation for the episode that others might have... I'll also include a small, leaky dinghy in case anybody wants to join me off-shore...
The teams head from Argentina to Germany for plates of sauerkraut and boots of beer
Jordan & Jeff of 'The Amazing Race'
More than a few fans -- or at least recappers without the leeway to time shift by several days -- wondered why CBS
was bothering to air a new episode of "The Amazing Race
" up against ABC's telecast of the Academy Awards on Sunday (March 7) night.
This installment of "The Amazing Race" has had a remarkably hard time of it. Two episodes airing versus the Olympics on NBC and now one facing the Oscars? Well that hardly seems fair. If CBS hadn't already ordered a new "Amazing Race" season for next fall, I might worry a bit about it.
Presumably Sunday's new "Amazing Race" will get crushed by the "Hurt Locker" Oscar coronation in the ratings, but at least viewers who tuned in for Phil Keoghan and company got a sense of why the network didn't make alternate programming plans.
'Big Love' closes out an uneven season with a dark, foreboding final chapter.
Sissy Spacek of 'Big Love'
"Big Love" ends a frustrating, flawed season with what might be its best season finale yet. There will likely be a hue and cry from people who just don't buy that Bill would ever get so far as to out his family as a polygamist one on the steps of the state capitol, and I suppose I can see the point of view that Bill's wives, who are clearly uneasy about this whole turn of events, should have struck back harder, should have killed this idea dead. But I'm still on board. I think that the path the show was on of the family keeping its secrets secret was always going to be somewhat untenable. This has always been a show about a very different family trying to take control of its destiny and the slow realization by some of its members that that destiny isn't what they want after all.
[Full recap of Sunday's (March 7) finale after the break...]
The 'Hangover' star is a force, but he only occasionally overcomes the 'SNL' writing
Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP
Zack Gala…Gale…Galifinikia…Galif…*looks on Google*…Zach Galifianakis is unquestionably a comic force – his role in The Hangover has been highly regarded and is expected to be his breakthrough role, while his role in HBO’s Bored to Death was similarly enjoyable. But when it comes to why Galifianakis makes such an interesting “Saturday Night Live” host, the reason is quite simple: he is a comedian.
It’s a simple fact that, combined with the rather great Vampire Weekend, makes this an episode of “SNL” that I’m actively execited about, which is both extremely rare and extremely dangerous. On the one hand, it means there is plenty of potential; on the other hand, it means that the show has that much further to fall.
Full details on just how far “SNL” managed to fall from those expectations after the jump…
As Joseph restarts his search for Tamara, Daniel's main rival comes to Caprica to claim a debt
Paula Malcomson and Eric Stoltz of 'Caprica'
“Caprica” set the stage for the next phase of its narrative in tonight’s episode, entitled “Know Thy Enemy.” In some ways, the episode looked back to the pilot, revisiting key moments and shedding new light upon them. But it also clearly demarcated new arcs, as Sister Clarice and Daniel Graystone both had old rivals reintroduced into their lives. One came back on the scene brandishing bombs, the other came back brandishing smiles. Both proved equally charismatic and formidable. While the over-aching storyline of “Caprica” can only end one way, it’s nice to see these smaller arcs show such promise. Onto the recap!
[Full recap of Friday's (March 5) "Caprica" after the break...]
Coach recovers his mojo, Idol searching runs amuck and a new alliance is floated
Colby of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'
Pre-credit sequence. Poor Randy. You just know that life isn't going to suddenly become unlivable for the Villains in his absence. He was just one of those things that happened and then ceased to happen. It's Night Eight for the Villains and they return to camp laughing. Well, everybody's laughing except for Coach, whose feelings are still hurt from Sandra's semi-stinging words a Tribal Council. We think Coach is tough, but hath not a Coach hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? "I'm human. I'm sensitive. I'm probably more sensitive than most people. I just hide it behind a lot of things that I've done and accomplished and a lot of machismo," Coach laments, before approaching Tyson to find out why he's unloved. "There's never been somebody like me out here and there's never gonna be anybody like me again," Coach tells Tyson. He's The Man and he doesn't need anybody to tell him he's The Man, but he'd kinda like for somebody to acknowledge that he's the man. Tyson nods patiently, as Coach begins to cry because nobody every says anything good about him. The words and feelings pour out of Coach and the snot pours down his nose. Tyson volunteers to play Henry Higgins to Coach's Eliza Doolittle, tutoring him on how to be more loved. But Coach doesn't want to hear that. He may leave tonight, Coach says. Tyson knows his tribe needs strength and doesn't want Coach to quit.
Full recap of Thursday's "Survivor
: Heroes vs. Villains" after the break...
Itâ€™s a hard(ware) challenge, but the designer with the biggest disaster doesnâ€™t go home
Whoo hoo, it’s the final ten designers! Everyone’s super excited, although I would think any week you don’t get sent home is probably super exciting, but people like nice, round numbers for some reason. Mila’s sad so many women have eaten it, but she’s empowered that she hasn’t, which pretty much kills off any of the warm fuzziness I built up for Mila in the last episode.
[Full recap of Thursday's (March 4) "Project Runway" after the break...]