<p>&quot;A Home For The Holidays&quot;</p>

"A Home For The Holidays"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Amazing Race' finale rises, but 2-hour 'Dateline' leads NBC Friday

CBS' 'A Home For The Holidays' special tanks

Fast National ratings for Friday, December 19, 2014.

While NBC's "Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon" was unimpressive, a two-hour installment of "Dateline" did well enough to push the network to Friday night victory in most measures. 

Over on CBS, the season finale for "The Amazing Race" rose against reduced competition, but a dismal performance from the "A Home For The Holidays" special took the network out of the running for any Friday wins. 

And even in a repeat, ABC's "Shark Tank" tied for Friday's best numbers among young viewers.

On to the ratings...

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<p>Baylor Wilson of &quot;Survivor: San Juan del Sur&quot;</p>

Baylor Wilson of "Survivor: San Juan del Sur"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Baylor Wilson talks 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur'

The season's 5th place finisher explains whether Missy really deserved her vote

"Survivor: San Juan del Sur" finished its season on Wednesday (December 17) night with a terrific finale that trimmed the field down from the episode-opening Top 5 of Baylor, Missy, Keith, Jaclyn and Natalie down to four and then three and then a very deserving winner.

Over the next five nights, I'll be posting the five exit interviews I did all before 10:15 on Thursday morning, counting down from fifth place.

It happens that the fifth place elimination was one of the season's most shocking, as Natalie bucked with a long-established plan to go to the finals with Baylor and Missy by playing an Immunity Idol for Jaclyn, turning a shocking vote against the totally blindsided Baylor. 

The season's youngest player at 20, Baylor got a bit of a negative rap through the season for being wishy-washy, for being a brat, for being carried along by her mother Missy. But if you look at certain moments in isolation, Baylor was largely responsible for turning the season's first vote against Nadiya. That ended up being huge for several reasons. Then later, Baylor was integral in convincing her mother to flip on Jon, leading to probably the game's most pivotal move. 

In her exit interview, Baylor talked about those big moves and also about Reed's Final Tribal hostility. She discusses the challenges of playing with her mother.

And at Final Tribal, Baylor voted for her mother and said she felt that Missy played the best game. Does she still feel that way?

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>The Season 25 &quot;Amazing Race&quot; cast</p>

The Season 25 "Amazing Race" cast

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 25 Finale - The Winners Are...

Four teams head to Los Angeles will a million bucks on the line

There are several things that have to be discussed in this recap of Friday (December 19) night's "Amazing Race" finale, but I want to get this out of the way:

I don't think Brooke was wrong to be pissed off to see The Candy Girls arrive at the Manila airport after the last Leg and I don't think Adam was wrong to say that he was frustrated.

When I talked to Phil Keoghan about the rash of episodes in which teams didn't go home this season -- Four out of 11 episodes -- he said that people were universally excited by the ending of the last Leg, because it was something they had never seen before. 

True. What they hadn't seen before was a team get spared from elimination at the end of what was, for all intents and purposes, a Leg despite finishing last, only to be immediately rewarded with an Equalizer at the airport, heading into what was, for all intents and purposes, a Leg in which they faced no penalty.

So when Brooke complained that everything they'd done in the previous day was for nothing? Well... She's not wrong. It was a pretty good Leg, with some tough challenges. It asked a lot of the teams. And there was nothing that was gained from it. Brooke & Robbie only got to Phil in first one time in the Race and they got nothing for it, neither a prize nor a single second of time advantage. Everything they did in last week's episode amounted to nothing. And everything Amy & Maya did to struggle, coming in last, amounted to nothing. 

I saw a couple people say that Brooke & Robbie were being sore losers, because hadn't they just survived a Non-Elimination Leg themselves? Sure they had. But that was a real Leg, one that earned Jim & Misti a trip to Vietnam and one that caused Brooke & Robbie to face a Speed-Bump penalty. Was the penalty hard? No. But it was a thing they faced. And since both Legs were in Manila, a time difference remained in place from the previous Leg. 

To me, this was a bad structural decision from the "Amazing Race" producers and I don't buy its value or necessity at all. 

But...

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<p>&quot;Arrow&quot;</p>

"Arrow"

Credit: The CW

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 261 - 'Serial,' Superheroes and More

Dan and Alan talk 'Mozart in the Jungle,' 'The Newsroom,' 'Jane the Virgin' and more

The

Happy Friday, Boys & Girls.

We wanted to push back this week's installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast because we suspected we'd have things to say about the finale for the Serial podcast. And we did!

Delaying a couple days also allowed us watch seven episodes apiece of Amazon's "Mozart in the Jungle."

In this podcast, we also talked about The Year in Superhero TV Shows, a segment that includes spoilers for "Arrow," "Gotham," "Constantine," "The Flash" and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." We also did our first check-in on The CW's "Jane the Virgin' since the pilot and we discussed the series finale for "The Newsroom."

So it may seem like this is a slow-ish time for new TV, but we managed to fill over 100 minutes, our longest podcast in a while. 

Today's breakdown:
"Mozart in the Jungle" (00:00:55 - 00:12:00)
The Year in Superheroes (00:12:00 - 00:55:15)
Listener Mail: The "Sons of Anarchy" Finale (00:55:20 - 00:58:55)
"Jane the Virgin" (00:59:00 - 01:08:00)
"Newroom" finale (01:08:10 - 01:24:25)
"Serial" finale (01:24:25 - 01:42:35)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 

 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

<p>&quot;Mom&quot;</p>

"Mom"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Mom' helps CBS top slow Thursday as NBC's People Magazine Awards tanks

The CW gets decent numbers from an IHeartRadio special

Fast National ratings for Thursday, December 18, 2014.

With a "Big Bang Theory" repeat and a new episode of "Mom" leading the way, CBS dominated Thursday night in all measures. 

And yes, CBS had the NFL preemption in Jacksonville and FOX had the preemption in Nashville on Thursday, but given that the game was between the Jaguars and Titans, it's unlikely that it caused a huge amount of ratings inflation.

Meanwhile, NBC's "People Magazine Awards" became the latest failed attempt to start a new primetime awards tradition, following in the footsteps of FOX's latest country music thing and the movie awards that failed on CBS last month.

The night was slow enough that The CW even got an OK audience for another of its normally lackluster IHeartRadio specials, in this case the Jingle Ball.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Phil Keoghan and friend</p>

Phil Keoghan and friend

Credit: CBS

Interview: Phil Keoghan teases the 'Amazing Race' Season 25 finale

Host and puffin cohort discusses the remaining four teams and this season's twists

"The Amazing Race" concludes its 25th installment on Friday (December 19) night with its first four-team finale, pitting Wrestlers Brooke & Robbie, Food Scientists Amy & Maya, Dentists Jim & Misti and Surfers Bethany & Adam.

The field is extra packed because in last week's episode, Amy & Maya reached the Pit Stop in last, only to be told that it was a "Keep on racing..." Leg, which isn't the same as a Non-Elimination Leg, because we already had three of those this season, making four out of 11 weeks in which the "Amazing Race" episode ended without a team heading home.

Earlier this week, I got on the phone to chat with "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan about the season so far and the upcoming finale. 

As usual, Phil and I don't always agree on everything. He, for example, insists audiences loved last year's Las Vegas finale. I'm reasonably sure that was not universal the universal opinion.

Phil also saw only positive reactions to last week's result for Amy & Maya, which hasn't entirely been my read on fan response.

And he's sure that audiences started out hating Brooke & Robbie, but have grown to love them. You can decide for yourself!

However, even when we disagree, Phil is always an "Amazing Race" enthusiast, so I enjoy chatting with him about these developments and more, including his appearances within challenges this season and the time crunch that has caused.

Check out the full interview below and check back on Friday night for my full "Amazing Race" finale recap...

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<p>Sadie Calvano of &quot;Mom&quot;</p>

Sadie Calvano of "Mom"

Credit: CBS

Interview: 'Mom' star Sadie Calvano discusses CBS' dramatic comedy

Therapy brings up some dark secrets in Thursday's episode

It's time for your weekly reminder: CBS' "Mom" is taking creative risks that no other comedy on TV, especially no other multi-cam comedy on network TV, is even considering.

After tackling drug addiction, teen pregnancy, cancer and an assortment of other maladies and discomforts last season and delving into depression and economic hardship so far in Season 2, "Mom" delves into some of its darkest terrain with Monday's episode, "Free Therapy and a Dead Lady's Yard Sale," in which, as the title suggests, a group therapy session leads Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) to tell an acting-out Violet (Sadie Calvano) some distressing truths about her father. Long stretches of the episode play out in almost purely dramatic mode with nary a punchline.

But, as always seems to be the case on "Mom," if ever things get too somber, there's a corpse that "looked like a bean-bag chair in a nightgown," or an acerbic cut-down from the deservingly Emmy-toasted Janney. 

That Janney and Faris have been able to sell the tonal rainbow that is "Mom" hasn't been a surprise. They were always the anchors for this Chuck Lorre show. The big surprise, especially since midseason last year and into this fall, has been Calvano, a 17-year-old actress whose most prominent credit before this was apparently "Melissa & Joey."

Last season, Calvano's Violet had to deal with comedic subplots -- Flatulence at prom is an issue if you're pregnant, apparently -- but also with the tough to decision to give up her baby to an adoptive couple. This season, things have gotten far murkier and I've been pretty reliably impressed by how effective Calvano has been in the raw, emotional moments.

Ahead of this week's admirable episode, I got on the phone with Calvano to discuss the challenges of "Mom," including how much she was prepared for when she signed on. We discussed the different on-set atmospheres for dramatic scenes versus comedy, as well as the influence of her two co-stars.

Check out the full Q&A below and check out "Mom" on Thursdays at 8:30 on CBS.

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<p>The &quot;Survivor: San Juan Del Sur&quot; Top 4</p>

The "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" Top 4

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur' finale leads CBS to easy Wednesday wins

'Hell's Kitchen' finale, 'The Sing-Off' can't compete

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

The two-hour finale and hour-long reunion show for "Survivor: San Juan del Sur" led CBS to an easy Wednesday sweet in all measures.

FOX's "Hell's Kitchen" finale and NBC's Michael Buble special and "The Sing-Off" were no competition for "Survivor," nor were The CW's "The 100" and a "Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown" special, though both did OK numbers for The CW.

On to Wednesday's ratings...

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<p>The &quot;Survivor: San Juan Del Sur&quot; Final 5</p>

The "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" Final 5

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: San Juan Del Sur' Finale - The Winner Is...

Baylor, Missy, Natalie, Keith and Jaclyn gun for the million bucks

Pre-credit sequence. Poor Jaclyn is all alone and there's a scary creature in the trees. "You've gotta do what you've gotta do," Natalie tells Jaclyn, who also praises her fellow castaways for their acting and being fake. "I'm loyal to a fault in my life," Missy replies. Natalie and Jaclyn get into a shouting match about who does or doesn't know Jon. Jaclyn is particularly angry, which I guess makes sense. This, of course, is exactly what Natalie wanted, because she wants people to be wary about aligning with Jaclyn. She knows it'll take effort to maintain her ties to Missy and Baylor in the short term. "You've gotta put in work if you want to win this," Natalie says.

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<p>&quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

"The Voice"

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Voice' finale, 'NCIS' dominate Tuesday

FOX's 'MasterChef Junior' finale rises a little

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, December 16, 2014.

The latest season finale was, predictably, far below last December's finale and a hair below last May's finale among young viewers, but still helped NBC rule Tuesday in the key demo. "NCIS," however, dominated its hour overall and helped CBS comfortably win in total viewers.

CBS' overall win was boosted by a weak performance from NBC's "Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas" special, but hindered by relatively low numbers for "NCIS: New Orleans" an "Person of Interest."

The season finale for "MasterChef Junior" was up a bit week-to-week.

On to the numbers...

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