<p>&nbsp;Kiefer Sutherland of '24'</p>

 Kiefer Sutherland of '24'

Credit: FOX

Recap: '24' Day 8 Premiere - '4 p.m. to 6 p.m'

Content to live a life free of CTU, Jack Bauer finds himself drawn back in when news of an assassination plot reaches his doorstep.

Ready for another season of the Jack Bauer Power Hour, people? “24” kicked off Season 8 in much the way it kicked off every season. It’s sort of like violent comfort food: you know that no matter the specific plot there will be explosions, betrayals, cellphones that never lose their battery, subplots that defy all reasonable logic, perimeters that won’t contain the threat, and endless ways to create drinking games that will send you to the ground faster than a bullet wound to the shoulder.

You know the drill. So let’s get onto the recap of Sunday's (Jan. 17) "24" premiere after the break...

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Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley in James Cameron's Laser Cats 5

Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley in James Cameron's "Laser Cats 5." Sort of.

Credit: SNL

Watch - Recap: 'Saturday NIght Live' - Sigourney Weaver stars in James Cameron's 'Laser Cats 5'

Plus: 'SNL' blows ripping the Leno/O'Brien fiasco

It's Golden Globes weekend, which means this recaper has been running around LA like a chicken with its head cut off, so Sigourney Weaver's return to "SNL" is going to be a bit abbreviated in this space.  Instead of the traditional rundown, we're gonna highlight the best and the worst of the latest installment of the 90-minute institution.

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<p>&nbsp;Harry Lennix of 'Dollhouse'</p>

 Harry Lennix of 'Dollhouse'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Dollhouse' - 'The Hollow Men'

'Dollhouse' begins the end of its run as a full-throttle Shakespearean tragedy.

Heading into its grand finale, I've been rather impressed with how little it feels like "Dollhouse" is telescoping five or six seasons worth of television into 13 episodes (actually, more like 10 episodes, since the season's first three have had basically nothing to do with anything else). It's always been obvious that this story is moving much, much faster than anyone involved might have wanted it to, especially once you could see the series realize it would never get any episodes beyond the 13 ordered for this second season. But at the same time, the story has mostly played out in a fairly logical (for "Dollhouse" and science fiction in general) and intriguing fashion, even as its infodumping its sci-fi bona fides and hitting us over the head with its themes. But "The Hollow Men," the penultimate episode for the whole series, is somehow both really great and just a little rushed.

[Full recap of Friday (Jan. 15) night's "Dollhouse" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Ping of 'Project Runaway'</p>

 Ping of 'Project Runaway'

Credit: Lifetime

Recap: 'Project Runway' Premiere - 'Back to New York'

'Runways' is back, and so are the designer disasters

Don’t you love how they make “Project Runway” seem like a superhero movie in the promos? TIM. HEIDI. NINA. And MICHAEL. Duh-DUM. I want each of them to wear capes with contrasting leotards while demonstrating some freakish power, like the ability to turn into ice or make squirrels burst into flame with an evil glance. Actually, I think Heidi would have that one nailed. Maybe Michael could wear a sports jacket instead of a cape, though. I don’t think I’d recognize him without one.

 

[Full recap of Thursday's (Jan. 14) "Project Runway" premiere after the break...]
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<p>&nbsp;Lamar Royal of 'American Idol'</p>

 Lamar Royal of 'American Idol'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Atlanta Auditions

Mary J. Blige joins Simon, Randy and Kara in the Peach State

This is the fifth "American Idol" trip to Atlanta, a city that gave the show Fantasia, Clay Aiken and Jennifer Hudson. It also gave us Ryan Seacrest, but we can't hold that against the Dirty South, can we? Oh, we can? Well, it's back to the Peach State for Wednesday (Jan. 13) night's "American Idol."

We're going to play a game tonight. It's called Spot the Filler. Until late last week, this episode was only supposed to be 75 minutes, but when Mark Burnett yanked "Our Little Genius" for reasons that still haven't been adequately explained, FOX had to expand the show by 15 additional minutes, 15 minutes which, originally, we're going to be seen in primetime. So if some bad audition tonight doesn't feel quite bad enough, or if some good audition doesn't feel heart-tugging enough, you know why.

Click through...

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<p>&nbsp;Norberto Guerrero of 'American Idol'</p>

 Norberto Guerrero of 'American Idol'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Premiere - Boston Auditions

Simon, Randy, Kara and a guest kick off the ninth season of FOX's juggernaut

Welcome, kids, to the final season of "American Idol," or at least the final season of "American Idol" as we know it, the final season of "American Idol with Simon Cowell."

Or maybe Tuesday (Jan. 12) night's "American Idol" is like a series premiere, or at least the series premiere of "American Idol without Paula Abdul." Yeah, that's probably the spin FOX would prefer. Tuesday night marked the beginning of a new era and, after a full day of ABC news and Conan O'Brien updates, I'm going to blog the "Idol" premiere in minute-by-minute format, because otherwise, I'll be up all night recapping this. And as you already know, if you know me, I'm not a big fan of recapping audition episodes anyway. There isn't enough structure. A live-blog counts as structure.

So let's get going...

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<p>&nbsp;Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi of 'Chuck'</p>

 Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi of 'Chuck'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Angel de la Muerte'

It's a Devon-Casey episode, as saving a despot requires Awesome intervention
First off, good for "Chuck" delivering a 3.0 demo rating for Sunday night's two-hour premiere. By NBC standards, with five free hours of primetime opening up in a few weeks, that's verging on tremendous and it's the sort of success that could lead to an easy renewal if those numbers stay intact for Monday's (Jan. 11) show. 
 
So I hope people who tuned in on Sunday come back on Monday, because as much as I like Subway occasionally, I'd also enjoy a "Chuck" renewal that wasn't contingent on sandwich eating.
 
Anyway...
 
When I wrote my review of the third season of "Chuck," one of the things I mentioned was a growing maturity in the action-comedy's storytelling. One of the episodes I'd point to, illustrating that point, is "Chuck vs. The Angel de la Muerte," the kind of episode that a show can only do when it's reached a certain age and when it can count on its fans being willing to go along for the ride on new and unexpected territory.
 
"Chuck vs. The Angel de la Muerte"" was, oddly enough, a Devon/Casey episode, combining two pieces of the ensemble who rarely get to be narrative centerpieces. 
 
[More on "Angel de la Muerta" after the break...]
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<p>'Heroes'</p>

'Heroes'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Heroes' - 'Close to You'

As Peter reponds to a mysterious summons, Noah recruits an unwilling friend to trap Samuel.

Halfway through Monday's (Jan. 11) lackluster episode of “Heroes,” Samuel throws up a literal roadblock in order to stop Noah Bennett’s pursuit of him. It’s a fitting visual metaphor for the episode, in which most characters stood stubbornly in place, unable to move on to where they were should be going. And unfortunately, we the audience stood mired as well, wondering when (or even if) someone on this show might obtain the power of narrative propulsion to pick up the pace of this flailing volume. 

Let’s break down the various threads in “Close To You,” even if said threads seem to be unwilling to overlap in any meaningful manner. 

[Full recap of Monday's "Heroes" after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;'Big Love'</p>

 'Big Love'

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'Big Love' Premiere - 'Free At Last'

'Big Love' almost bites off more than it can chew in the season four opener.

The opening five minutes or so of the fourth season premiere of "Big Love" encompass so thoroughly everything I like about the show that it's kind of a disappointment that the rest of the episode has so much messiness to it. Granted, "Big Love" almost always has messy premieres and finales, as the show attempts to either set a million plot threads in motion or tie all of them off neatly enough to proceed into yet another hiatus. The show is almost always better in its middle episodes (as in next week's sterling second episode of this season), when the series takes the time to breathe and give its characters room to just be themselves and interact. Episodes like this one, where the show makes an attempt to incorporate every single one of its far-flung characters, can end up feeling exhausting, no matter how well-executed they are.

[Full recap of Sunday's (Jan. 10) "Big Love" premiere after the break...]

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<p>&nbsp;Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi of 'Chuck'</p>

 Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi of 'Chuck'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Chuck' -- 'Chuck Versus The Pink Slip' and 'Chuck Versus the Three Words'

As Chuck struggles to control his newfound abilities in the Season Three premiere, a new threat looms in the shadows.
In anticipation of recapping the first two episodes of the new season of "Chuck," I made sure to read Dan Fienberg's review in advance. After all, I didn't want to accidentally repeat everything he already said. But I was glad to see that Dan, like myself, likes this show in a way that bypasses critical faculty and directly hits emotional buttons. And to me, that's not the only way to enjoy the show, but it's perhaps the best. After all, Season 3 seems to be all about the best way for Chuck to become a spy: via the head or via the heart. So far, Team Heart is winning big time. 
 
[Full recap of Sunday (Jan. 10) night's "Chuck" premiere after the break...]
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