Inside TV and Pop Culture with Liane Bonin Starr
Bypass drippy rom-coms and take a more serious turn
"The 9/11 Tapes: Chaos in the Sky"
Credit: Discovery Channel
Not everyone wants to celebrate Valentine's Day weekend, and especially not with fluffy rom-coms. Instead, consider something completely different -- a closer look at a tragic chapter in recent history. "The 9/11 Tapes: Chaos in the Sky" (Sun. Feb. 12 at 9 pm. on Discovery). The show pulls from hundreds of hours of audio recordings to tell the story of 9/11 through the voices of air traffic controllers, military commanders and even those on the hijacked planes.
No, it won't be as cute and cuddly as some lightweight romance, but singletons might just feel a little less sorry for themselves about not getting a box of chocolates from a special someone after watching this.
It seems like a lovely evening - until Esther reveals her secret plan to Elena
Initially, this episode seems like it could be a light, frothy fantasy, a welcome respite from some of the dark drama of previous episodes. With pretty much everyone in town invited to Esther's elegant ball, it seems that life in Mystic Falls is finally going to become downright civilized. Klaus and his siblings are now defanged, the Salvatores don't have to worry about getting killed, and it seems pretty certain that Klaus isn't going to be creating any more hybrids from Elena's blood supply as long as his mom is on watch. But this is "The Vampire Diaries," so we'd best not get too attached to this happy scenario. With every promising twist we can always predict one thing -- more trouble ahead.
The designers are up against one another - and one feels really ripped off
Credit: Lifetime Television
Anthony has been auf'ed, so I suspect the workroom is going to be a little less fun this week. I guess it could be argued that another goofy challenge could be good for some laughs, but mostly those are just worthy of an eye roll (pick a muse! And make them strip in Central Park!). But even if the runway lacks for fun, I do foresee tension, backbiting and cattiness. How fashion-forward!
Angela addresses the designers with a bunch of bags. Yes, this is about the most useful Angela will ever be -- as a decorative coathook. Each designer picks a bag, and inside they find a season printed on a luggage tag. Their challenge? To create a sportswear look for a weekend getaway. But wait, it's four seasons and eight designers. It's a fashion face-off!
The latest weight loss show looks beyond the kitchen
Credit: Food Network
When I heard the title "Fat Chef" (Thurs. 10 p.m. ET, Food Network) at first I thought it might be the latest addition to Adult Swim's programming block or something new from Seth MacFarlane. When I realized it was a reality show, I assumed it was going to involve the usual weight loss TV tropes -- humiliating Spandex workout gear, teary-eyed confessions, weird challenges and possibly an angry trainer who screams a lot. "Fat Chef" hits some of those marks (you can only color so far outside of the lines with a reality TV show), but to its credit, it doesn't live up to its cheesy title.
Another chef is added to the mix and the finalists must cook for their mentors
Well, our final four is... not the final four. As we know, the winner of Last Chance Kitchen will be joining the challenges ahead, and then we'll have a final four. After the remaining chefs get the good/bad news about another chef rejoining the show, Ed has a pack of cigarettes saying it's Bev. Sarah is willing to put money on Grayson and will raise him a banana. I'm with Ed. Although I don't want the cigarettes.
The girls get back together for a surprisingly tame season debut
"The Real Housewives of Orange County"
After last season's acrimonious reunion show, you'd think the ladies of the O.C. would have plenty of pent-up hostility to vent for this season's debut. Instead, we get nicey-nice meetings, tediously staged coffees and a brand new housewife -- whose main attribute, according to the other girls, is that she's classy. Classy? Who wants classy? We want a spitfire who knows how to throw red wine, hurl insults and work an unconvincing hair extension! Really, this could not be a more stultifyingly dull season debut if it was on NPR.
Channing's talks about stripping for his next project
Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum of "The Vow"
In "The Vow," Paige (Rachel McAdams) forgets the last five years of her life after a car accident -- including her husband Leo (Channing Tatum). I asked McAdams and Tatum about what they'd most like to forget, and asked Tatum about his new movie, "Magic Mike," and how he feels about returning to stripping (on the big screen, at least).
The star has his own dark ideas about what Ben would be like
Scott Speedman of "The Vow"
In "The Vow," Scott Speedman plays the unlucky Jeremy, whom Paige (Rachel McAdams) was engaged to before finding a new life with Leo (Channing Tatum). But when a car accident wipes out her memory of the last five years, Jeremy has another shot at love -- and gets into his share of trouble when Leo is unwilling to let go. I talked to Speedman about playing the other man, getting socked by Tatum in a key scene, and, of course, whether or not he'd do a "Felicity" reunion. It turns out he's not only thought about it, but has his own ideas of where Ben Covington would be twenty years after senior year.
One girl is in love with an ex - and Ben isn't amused
Things are getting serious on "The Bachelor." But they couldn't be too serious, because Courtney is still here, sucking on her overbite, ripping off her clothes and generally not being the kind of classy dame Ben claims to consider marriage material. But then again, I'm not sure Ben's using his head at all (at least not the one on his shoulders) as he seems to devolve into a stuttering 13-year-old dork whenever Courtney comes around. Actually, Ben seems pretty dorky in a general sense, but given that all these women are willing to overlook that glaring character flaw, it does make good television. And I'm sure at least one of them will get a cask of questionably good booze if she plays her cards right.
Anyway, they're off to Panama City, Panama! Oh, look, a little map with an animated plane graphic so we can see where they've been! Courtney sucks on her overbite and thinks about skinny dipping again! Yay!
The girls get nasty about curse words, sluttiness and suicide
"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"
It's part two of our reunion show, and things are finally getting REALLY nasty, as Brandi's joined the gang and, well, if anyone's going to get into some verbal fisticuffs, it's going to be the chick that slit Eddie Cibrian's tires and texted that Kyle was a C-U-Next Tuesday to a friend of hers (and accidentally sent said text to Kyle herself). But more on that in a moment. But seriously, I wish I'd realized how much fun Brandi is a lot earlier in the season!