Tonight’s show is moving reallyreallyreally fast, because six performances (the final six!) have to be squeezed into an hour to make room for friggin’ Gordon Ramsay’s cooking show. I’m not going to complain too much, because I’m more than happy to miss the interviews with the dancers about their favorite toenails and why they love puppies, plus it gives Cat an excuse to tell the judges to shut their traps when they’re blabbering on about a dance to hear the sounds of their own voices. But speaking of blabbering on, let’s cut to the chase, because with everyone couple dancing with everyone else, there’s a whole lotta dancing to cover tonight! As Mary might say, whoooooo!
[Recap of Tuesday's "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break..]
Taylor Lautner as Marianne in a soon to be infamous "Team Edward/Team Jacob" skit.
Taylor Lautner's hosting of "Saturday Night Live" has all the "Twilight" fans in a flutter and may foster one of the highest rated shows of the year. Who knew Lorne Michaels could be so timely? Will Lautner be able to show some acting and comedy skills that have been missing from his big screen work so far? Does it really matter for his legion of fans out there? Let's find out...
A trio of scandal plagued politicians; South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (Sudeikis) Nevada Senator John Ensign (Bill Hader), former Presidential candidate John Edwards (Will Forte ) hold a press conference to criticize the "orgy of media attention" to the Tiger Woods mess. Here are some choice bits:
Sanford: "This is excessive and lurid and it has completely overshadowed of our own extramarital affairs."
Edwards: "I had a love child!"
Sanford: "When I went to visit my mistress I had a really preposterous story about the Appalachian trail."
Ensign: "My girlfriend was married."
Edwards: "Again, I had a love child!"
Sanford: "My wife just filed for divorce, but you'd never know it by the media's coverage."
Ensign: "I played hush money."
Edwards: "Maybe I wasn't clear, I had a love child. An illegitimate bastard love child. Don't you people care?"
Sanford: "But Tiger had a huge number of girlfriends."
"Why this clear double standard. Perhaps racial?"
(After Ensign lists Tiger's ethnic heritage Sanford Edwards corrects him.)
Edwards: "No, he's not Puerto Rican, you're thinking about A-Rod." (Huge laugh from the mostly New York crowd.)
The skit basically ends with the trio saying their own scandals would have had to been astronomically worse to hit the Tiger level.
Grade: B-. Good idea, but where was the punch line? Was missing something to knock it out of the park.
If nothing else, "A Love Supreme" seems decidedly intent on getting Alan Tudyk cast in Quentin Tarantino's next movie. It's got the weird musical choices on the soundtrack, the use of odd locations and the decidedly atypical manner of Alpha's speech patterns. As Tudyk drops back in to the series, now bent on killing off as many of Echo's prior romantic engagements as possible, he seems to be coming in from some other show about serial killers who wear snappy suits and offer up droll patter as they dispatch their victims. I realize that sounds a lot like "Dexter," but it's a little less concerned with its hero's sociopathy and more with him being wicked cool.
[Full recap of "A Love Supreme," the second of Friday's (Dec. 11) two "Dollhouse" episodes after the break...]
A scene from the 'Meet Jane Doe' episode of FOX's 'Dollhouse'
One of the hardest things to determine when coming up with a serialized TV series is figuring out where to start the story. Some stories suggest, automatically, where to begin. There was pretty much nowhere else to start the story of "Lost" than on that beach immediately after that plane crash, and "Battlestar Galactica" needed the horror of the nuclear holocaust of the miniseries to kick off its story. But most series end up caught up in trying to decide what is the perfect point to balance having just enough backstory (but not too much!) and just enough room to move forward (but not too much!). This, honestly, is kind of an underrated component of the whole serialized TV machine, since it's hard to judge these things from just the pilot and the first few episodes. But it often seems like the serialized shows that suck viewers and critics into the world of the show straight off are the ones that manage this balance, and the ones that don't suck us in are the ones that never quite figured out the best place to begin.
[Full recap of Friday's (Dec. 11) first "Dollhouse" episode after the break...]
Pre-credit sequence. When last we left the castaways, they had just blindsided John, leaving Shambo confused and doubting the validity of her nocturnal visions. It's Night 30 and Shambo is pretending to be impressed at John ouster, even after Russell approaches her and attempts to calm her down. "I'll do whatever it takes to win this game," says Russell, who reminds us that he's been lying to everybody all game. We're well-aware, Russell. Shambo, slightly placated, tells Russell that Dave has to go next. Russell mostly ignores her.
[Full recap of Thursday's (Dec. 10) "Survivor: Samoa" after the break...]
Emma in her wedding dress in "Glee" episode "Sectionals"
None of this two-week, multi-hour finale stuff for “Glee”: The show managed to tie up loads of loose strings – from Emma and Schue, to the competition, to Quinn’s dishonesty – in the one tidy hour of “Sectionals.”
It kicks off with Rachel suspecting that Puck is the father of Quinn’s baby because she noticed Puck moving to the aid of the pregnant cheerleader after a fall. And because she thinks she’s “a little psychic.” She stirs the pot by telling Quinn that she should have the baby checked for Tay-Sachs disease if the father is at all Jewish (this checks out, by the way), and ultimately tells Finn of psychic suspicion, because she’s still got mad hots for him.
Meanwhile, the rest of Glee knows Quinn’s secret anyway – Mercedes told ‘em – but want to suppress Rachel from spilling the beans because they’re pawing their way to sectionals and can’t bear a shake-up. Schuester, who can’t go to the competition because of Sue’s previous blackmailing attempt, has recruited Emma to travel with the group as advisor, and departs mentioning “I don’t know what the future holds for me or for us.” (Hey, FOX, are you listening?)
Too bad, all for naught. Finn soon gets punchy with Puck, dumps Quinn, quits Glee. Quinn, who’s strong suit was never crying, cries. Rachel feels bad, tells Quinn she’s sorry for her loose lips, and reveals her feelings for Finn. Quinn tells Puck she’s raising the baby on her own. And off to sectionals we go!
The songlist that Sue Sylvester leaked to the rival high school took effect, and the urban all-girls school rips off Mercedes’ solo moment, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls,” and the group’s “Proud Mary” (with wheelchairs!), while the deaf school provides the evergreen Deaf People Can’t Sing joke on “Don’t Stop Believing.”
McKinley is crushed, near defeat, until Finn arrives an hour before their performance, with sheet music to his new personal anthem “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. He was inspired after Schue’s anti-pep talk to him that being a leader, being special and “the bigger man,” sometimes “sucks.”
Rachel, naturally, was ready with a new showstopping solo, Barbra Streisand’s classic “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl.” Even as it’s lip-synched, here’s a lesson in breathing, folks.
As the judges of sectionals debate the winner, the kids confront/are confronted by Jane Addams Academy for Girls coach (Eve! Again!), who has good intentions of coming clean about cheating and ripping off the crew’s songlist. That doesn’t happen, but what does happen is that the coaches from both rival high schools tell Principal Figgins that Sue Sylvester was the one who leaked the songlists to them. Figgins apparently grows a pair in about five seconds, dismisses Sue as the Cheerios coach and reinstates Schue as the leader of Glee. Sue vows revenge in a storm of many mixed metaphors.
All this, and the group wins the competition, on their own merit, too.
What of Emma’s wedding, then? She had pushed off her wedding for a few hours so that she could play advisor to the team, the last straw for Ken, who finally sees the light that, one, she’s just settling for him and, two, she’s always had eyes for Will. Schue arrives in the ultra-tacky-decorated VFW hall for the nuptials, only to find Emma, beautiful bride Emma, alone, after being dumped. She reveals that she’s resigned from McKinley because of the shame she has about the whole Ken thing and because every time she sees Schue, she’s heartbroken. Will tells her he’s “just left my wife.” She gives it pause, but at that moment, is having none of it, since this all “just” happened. In the reference to Mercedes' song, "I'm going."
And Schue has left Terri, true, though in clashing with him at home, she tries to make her case, mentioning she’s started going to therapy. She asks if his love is gone forever and Schue, leaving that door open, says he doesn’t know.
Later, Glee presents Schuester with the trophy and a very special performance of one of Kelly Clarkson’s newer singles “Life Would Suck Without You,” which then inspires him to run down the hall (in slow-motion, no less) to find Emma before she departs. He finds her with her packed box, sets it on the floor, and sets a kiss on her lips. She smiles, just as we all did, since we’ve waited for this thing to happen all season. and end scene.
We are promised the next big hurdle for the group, Regionals, when the season starts back up on April 13.
Props to the show’s writers for continuing its development on cheerleader Britney, this show’s Ralph Wiggum: she said she wasn’t keen on Emma being Glee’s advisor because of a certain “keeping that bird in my locker” incident. Puck keeps bringing the pain with a “Fight Club” mention and, in a moment of songless panic, Artie delivers by offering to “improvise some of my def poetry jams.” And no one, not even the show’s creators, don’t know what a city comptroller does.
It’s the show before the finals! OMG! I am exhausted before the show even starts. Maybe watching elimination Wednesdays could count as a workout, because they have become pretty nerve wracking. The truth is, at this point you don’t really want anyone to go because the bar has, truly, been set so high. Not even Mollee. No joke.
[Full recap of Wednesday (Dec. 9) night's "So You Think You Can Dance," including the results and your Final Six after the break...]
Final eight. Or, um, seven. One of the girls is missing. And it’s (racking my brain, racking my brain) Ashleigh! No! This can’t be happening! Or maybe it isn’t, because Cat, who is dressed like a 1980s pirate who chooses to wear her ill-gotten gold as ugly shorts instead of burying it (though really, I’d suggest burying those shorts or at least melting them down for cash or a nice necklace), isn’t mentioning it. At all. She yacks about next week, and then this week, and I have just about decided that Ashleigh is dead and everyone’s too broken up about it to say anything or I just imagined she wasn’t in the intro and I’m having early onset dementia, when she finally tells Ashleigh to come onto the stage. So, at least I know she’s not dead. That’s a good thing.
Ashleigh, it turns out, has injured herself. In rehearsal, she accidentally popped her shoulder out of its socket and then got all war commando and popped it back in. Go, Ashleigh! I knew the girl was tough. Anyway, she’s not dancing tonight and seems pretty broken up about it, but we can still vote for her. I hope she gets the pity vote. She looks so sad when she’s not wearing high heels and a ridiculous sequined dress. Poor Ashleigh.
Anyway, everyone else can dance, so let’s get to it!
[Full recap of Tuesday's (Dec. 8) "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]
I lost my favorites in this season's "Amazing Race" relatively early on when Justin & Zev mislaid their travel documents during a leg they actually won. I lost my guilty pleasure favorites a couple weeks later with the Poker Girls ran up against a task that required more physical strength than they collectively possessed. And my other favorite went out just last week, when Team Globetrotter (or Big Easy, to be specific) hit a mental block on a Roadblock.
So I entered Sunday (Dec. 6) night's "Amazing Race" with only a minor vested interest. Given the choice, I'd have said I was rooting for Meghan and Cheyne, Team Tetherball. Probably Team Miss AmeEricka, Brian & Ericka, would have been my second pick. But I wouldn't say I was invested in any real way.
Fortunately, Sunday's finale was a really compelling episode, generating ample tension even without a rooting interest. The finale made good use of its final destination, Las Vegas. All three teams had advantages and seemed to have captured momentum. And even if the tasks weren't necessarily exciting or creative, they were shot in a way that had me perched on the edge of my couch, tapping my knee nervously. And when the winning team reached Phil Keoghan, I found a way to be happy for them, which I might not have been with a weaker finale.
[Recap of the "Amazing Race" finale, with spoilers, after the break...]
After taking two weeks off following the disastrous January Jones and disappointing Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosted shows in mid-November, it was a relief that the "SNL" crew came back with a much better effort. "Gossip Girl's" Blake Lively made her debut as a host and in what might be a surprise to some, showed some great comedic skills. For many, the show was just a pit stop before "New Moon's" Taylor Lautner hosts next week, but there was a bunch that really worked tonight. And, as always, a good chuck that didn't.
The Salahis Just Can't Stay Away
Obama (Fred Armisen) appears at a Pennsylvania event while the infamous Salahis (Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Wiig) show up behind him, crashing the event. Taking photos, posing, while Obama has no idea. Best moment is when the secret service agent asks them what they are doing and they shoo him away like "It's all good" and he believes them. Then, a second agent appears behind him and they all start taking photos of each other. Meanwhile, of course, Obama has no idea what's going on. Finally, an agent comes on board to take them all off. One beat later, they return with fake mustaches. The agents come back AGAIN ready to carry them away, only to have Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) come on and just OK the whole thing. And yes, they start taking photos again.
The punch line? The Salahis, Biden and the agents ask Obama to stop during his speech and take a group photo. He complies as though it's no big deal and then returns to his speech. Oh, wait, he got it wrong. Can they try that again? And, the nice guy Obama is, he takes it one more time. Cue "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night..."
Grade: B -. Great idea, but went on way too long. Love that "SNL" is non-partisan (remember that Fox News) but do we seriously need to see them mock Obama every single show? Really?