Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
The Season 20 winners discuss their dominant and bickering run
Husband-and-wife Rachel and Dave Brown didn't just win the 20th installment of "The Amazing Race." They dominated from wire-to-wire.
Rachel & Dave won the season's first two Legs and its last four Legs and posted two additional Leg victories in the middle (along with two second places) for a record-breaking total of eight.
They were so good at winning that they actually got to run through the final gauntlet to host Phil Keoghan twice. The first time, they accidentally skipping a climactic Roadblock, earning awkward stares from their fellow competitors and Phil alike. Only briefly deterred, Dave & Rachel went back to the Roadblock, whizzed past a frustrated Art & JJ and returned to the deserving adulation of all and sundry at the mat.
When they weren't toppling the competition, Dave & Rachel were bickering their way around the world, getting into heated shouting matches on several continents.
In their exit interview, Rachel & Dave stake their claim as the best team in "Amazing Race" history, offer their take on the high-volume bickering and clarify whether or not they let Mark & Bopper win the 8th Leg.
Would Phillip, Hollie, Jessica or Joshua be going home next?
It's time for another pulse-racing installment of "American Idol," kids!
Or at least it's time to twiddle our thumbs for 50 minutes and then wonder if a shocker is in store. Click through and follow the twiddling as it progresses.
The second place border agents discuss their Race journey
Art Velez and J.J. Carrell won three Legs on this season of "The Amazing Race," coming in second behind Dave & Rachel's record-breaking eight Leg wins. Fittingly, Art & J.J. also found themselves coming in second for the season.
However, when it came to stirring up trouble, nobody could top the two Border Patrol Agents.
They fought with Rachel & Brendon over Team Big Brother's tendency to follow, rather than figuring things out for themselves.
They fought with Nary & Jamie, after the federal agents attempted to pass themselves off as teachers.
And they fought with Dave & Rachel about a fairly trivial promise involving U-Turns.
In the end, none of those confrontations had any bearing on the Race, which came down to Art's difficulties making it down a hill on a traditional Hawaiian tribal sled, a Roadblock that saw the border agents go through the emotional roller coaster of thinking they were done, realizing they were in first and watching their newly-discovered lead vanish in a matter of seconds.
Art & J.J. discussed that roller coaster, their fighting spirit and more in their exit interview earlier this week.
Click through for the full conversation...
Kim plots and everybody talks about Kim for an hour
Pre-credit sequence. Poor Kat. So sad. So absent. Tikiano returns to camp under a full moon. Everybody's still shaking their heads at how blindsided Kat was. Muscular Mark Twain, however, has other things on his mind. "If I were the girls, I would have voted me out before Kat. That would have been the smartest thing they could do," MMT says, hinting that he has a subplot that would allow him to sneak into the Top Three. He begins the plotting by going and asking Kim if she's OK with taking him to the Top Four, suggesting that she should plan on going with Alicia and Christina to the end and that he'll get the jury to vote for her. "The biggest threat is Chelsea," MMT says. "And she's my friend," Kim says. "If I have to send Chelsea home, that'll be my worst night here," she says. Alicia wanders over and Muscular Mark Twain tells her that if she makes the Top Three, he'll hype the Jury up for HER. "I've been doing this in segments," MMT explains.
Jessica, Joshua, Hollie and Phillip take on another two themes
Final 4 madness, baby!
It's another multi-theme episode, with Jessica, Joshua, Hollie and Phillip singing songs from the meaningless themes of California Dreamin' and Songs You Wish You Wrote. Please note that I got the specific phrasing of the second theme from the song spoilers bandleader Ray Chew tweets each week. You don't need to explain to me that it's a faulty use of the conditional tense and that it should probably be Songs You Wish You'd Written. Or something. [Seacrest did a better job of articulating the second theme than Ray Chew's list did.]
Anyway, let's not spend too much time worrying about grammar. Instead, can't we ponder what strange things are happening in the official "Idol" Top 4 photo? Why is it all about Hollie Cavanagh? And why is she holding Jessica Sanchez's hand? These are things that keep me up at night...
Anyway, let's get down to recapping...
'Big Brother' veterans discuss fighting and crying around the world
If the producers of "The Amazing Race" tuned in during the past two seasons of "Big Brother," they knew exactly what they were getting when they chose to cast Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas.
Drama. Viewer-polarizing drama.
And the "Big Brother" lovebirds delivered in spades. There were tear-filled exchanges across Europe, a shouting match at an airport in Kenya and multiple threats, from each side, to quit.
Rachel & Brendon may reliably bring the high drama, but they've managed to achieve at a reasonably high level in all three of their reality TV seasons. Although they were middle-of-the-pack in "Big Brother 12," they came back one season later and despite a huge target from Day 1, Rachel managed to win "Big Brother 13."
And although they didn't win a Leg on "The Amazing Race" this spring, they were consistently competitive and if not for a major clue-reading gaffe in Hawaii, they might have been in position to win in Sunday's (May 6) finale.
In their exit interview, Rachel & Brendon talk about crying, drama and about how their three reality TV experiences have proven that they're together for the long haul.
The 4th place finishers discuss Japanese game shows and on-air fights
Wisecracking, occasional Mean Girl Vanessa and her affable, but occasionally pugnacious boyfriend Ralph were one of the more polarizing teams on the recently completed season of "The Amazing Race."
For some fans, Vanessa's loopy and occasionally biting wit, plus Ralph's solid physicality made them an easy team to root for.
But for other viewers, it felt like Vanessa was picking on "Big Brother" veterans Brendon & Rachel, which would only be a negative if you happen to believe that Brendon & Rachel didn't deserve to be picked on.
Ralph & Vanessa had a steady, but unremarkable "Amazing Race" run, always competitive, but never rising above third on any Leg.
At least they had a memorable departure as Vanessa, nursing an injured ankle from an earlier fall, was forced to complete in a Japanese game show Roadblock that asked contestants to sprint against the tide of a treadmill, periodically leaping to grab rubber chickens. It was an exhausting challenge under any circumstances, but with a sprained ankle, it seemed to be untenable. While Ralph urged Vanessa to quit and take the penalty, Vanessa battled through, refusing to quit. They still finished in fourth and were eliminated, but at least they left with their heads up.
In their exit interview on Monday, Vanessa & Ralph discussed that last Roadblock, their battles with each other and with Rachel & Brendon and why fighting may have been the secret to Dave & Rachel's winning success.
Click through for the full interview.
Dan and Alan talk 'Common Law,' Upfronts and more
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
Due to a paucity of new show premieres this week -- USA's "Common Law" is our only review -- most of this podcast is dedicated to premiering next week's upfronts. Oh and we talked about Rory Gilmore and Mr. Belding guesting on "Mad Men."
As we mention in podcast, due to upfronts we have no clue when we'll be able to podcast next week or how many times. Smart money says there'll be a podcast on Monday or Tuesday and then a second podcast on Thursday or Friday.
Here's today's breakdown:
"Common Law" (00:01:00 - 00:11:10)
"Desperate Housewives" reflections (00:11:10 - 00:18:20)
Upfronts Preview (00:18:20 - 01:01:50)
"Mad Men" (01:02:00 - 01:26:20)
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.]
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
The remaining teams head to Japan and then Hawaii to wrap up the season
Shortly before Sunday (May 6) night's "The Amazing Race" began, I tweeted, "Is anybody actually *rooting* for a team in tonight's "Amazing Race" finale? Yeah. Didn't think so."
Over the next three-plus hours, I got many, many responses. Most people asked if rooting against teams counted on some level. No. No it did not. A couple folks suggested they were rooting for Mark & Bopper to somehow re-enter the game and win. That also does not count. A few tweeps proposed that they were rooting for single players on teams, with Vanessa earning votes for hotness and Rachel (of Rachel & Dave) earning mentions. One person and only one person said that he liked all of this season's teams and would be happy for any winner, but didn't mention a single specific team her was rooting for.
I'm not going to say that my brief Twitter survey was a snapshot of the entirety of the "Amazing Race" viewership, but in an industry that makes million dollar decisions based on the imperfect non-paragon of representative statistical sampling that is the Nielsen system, I'm OK with feeling that I got a sense of a broad problem with "The Amazing Race 20": Sometimes this is the best-cast show on TV. That was not the case this season.
"The Amazing Race" dedicated two hours on Sunday night to crowning a champion who most viewers probably didn't like very much. That, plus the obligatory crummy "Race" architecture, took much of the fun out of Sunday's finale.
But at least Sunday's finale wrapped up with the most deserving available team coming out victorious. I'd rather root for a team that's both likable *and* deserving, but by the end of the finale, I was rooting rather loudly to get at least one of the two, but for a brief window, it seemed reasonable that we might somehow end up with a team that was both unappealing and unworthy.
More after the break...
'Life,' 'Deadwood' veteran promises building Season 2 momentum
We're still a couple months from discovering if Stan Larsen was in any way responsible for the death of Rosie Larsen.
For now, Stan is just one of a slew of viable suspects on "The Killing" and nowhere near the top of the list at this point, but we keep learning new disturbing facts about the moving company owner and grieving father.
There's his past as a mob enforcer. That's pretty dark, especially when it has led to violence against other suspects in the case. Then there's Stan's increasing estrangement with wife Mitch (Michelle Forbes) and his increased closeness with Mitch's sister. Oh and then there's the pesky recent discovery things may not be so clear with Rosie's paternity.
I got on the phone with Brent Sexton last week to discuss the changes in Stan Larsen in Season 2 of "The Killing." The "Life" and "Deadwood" veteran also discusses the season's upcoming momentum and how close he came to solving the show's central mystery.