<p>Phil Keoghan of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Phil Keoghan of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 21 Finale - 'Take Down That Million'

Which team made it to Phil first and won the big prize?
There's something to be said for dominance.
 
The 20th installment of "The Amazing Race," which aired last spring, culminated in bickering married couple Rachel & Dave winning the million dollars and finishing first in an astounding eight of 12 competitive Legs on the Race.
 
They were the New York Yankees of "The Amazing Race." They dominated from start to finish and there was almost no suspense. In fact, they were such an obscenely strong team that they screwed up the final task of the season, ran through the finish line, were corrected, went back and completed the task and ran through the finish line a second time, as if to mock the other teams. 
 
You looked back on Season 20 of "The Amazing Race" and you said, "Well duh. No other team possibly could have won and it was really cute that Rachel & Dave let the other teams travel with them around the world."
 
But the Yankees don't win the World Series every year, no matter how high their payroll happens to be.
 
Some years, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals or the 1987 Minnesota Twins win the World Series. Sometimes, a team does exactly enough to make the playoffs and then exactly enough to win a series or two and then, on the biggest available stage, that team does exactly enough to come out on top. If you look at the 2006 baseball season, the Cardinals were only the best team in baseball on October 27, but that was the last day of the season, so that's the only day that counts. 
 
There probably wasn't a New York Yankees for the 21st installment of "The Amazing Race." Abbie & Ryan thought they were going to be, but multiple travel gaffes in Germany sent them packing. Several teams won a couple Legs. One team won three Legs. But if you want to talk about the importance of finishing strong, the teams in this season's "Amazing Race" Top 3 finished 10th, 9th and 7th in the season-opening Leg. So maybe the final results on Sunday (December 9) night were appropriate. If no team was going to be able to win "The Amazing Race" and claim unquestioned supremacy, maybe this was exactly the correct result for this season.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>Carter's torch is snuffed on &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Carter's torch is snuffed on "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Carter Williams talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

The latest booted contestant discusses playing with heart versus head
We've reached a "Survivor" Final 5 full of big personalities, including likable perpetual target Malcolm, analytical Denise, conscience-driven former child star Lisa, accident-prone returning favorite Skupin and hissable villain Abi.
 
And then there was Carter Williams. To be polite, we'll call Carter "enigmatic." On one hand virtually incapable of stringing together enough sentences for talking head segments and rarely at the center of strategic negotiations, Carter began to emerge as a threat in recent weeks due to his strong challenge play and his apparent friendship with all remaining contestants.
 
On Wednesday (December 5) night's "Survivor: Philippines," the rest of the Top 5 decided that Carter was such a threat that getting rid of him was worth spending additional days in the wilderness with Abi. This came despite Carter's attempts to convince his competition that they should want to go to the end against the best players, not Abi.
 
In his exit interview, Carter discusses his regrets in the game, his decision to lay back and not take a leadership role and his hypothetical path to victory had he remained in the game.
 
Click through...
 
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<p>Carly Rose Sonenclar of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

Carly Rose Sonenclar of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Top 6 Results - Two eliminations plus Ke$ha performs

Last year's winner, Melanie Amaro, also drops by

We're getting closer to the end on "The X Factor." Tonight? We eliminate two more singers and cut down to what the show is calling The Semifinals. 

We'll also enjoy performances by Melanie Amaro and Ke$ha. Or we'll try to enjoy them. 

Click through for the full results live-blog!

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<p>The &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot; Top 6</p>

The "Survivor: Philippines" Top 6

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'Shot Into Smithereens'

Family members come to visit and God is invoked for assistance
Pre-credit sequence. I miss Penner. Dangrayne -- Now we know the origin of that name -- returns to camp in the aftermath. Abi says it's clear to her now that Skupin, Blair Warner, Malcolm and Denise have a Top 4 alliance. Yes, Abi. It's "clear" to you because Jonathan Penner told you EXACTLY THAT. You're not Sherlock Holmes. Abi does, however, begin feeding Carter's insecurities about not being part of that alliance and reminds him of the Imaginary Immunity Idol she "found" last week. Blair Warner thinks Penner is correct about the quality of Malcolm's game, so she knows that going to the end with Malcolm and Denise might be a mistake. However, if we know anything about Blair Warner, it's that she likes to be true to her word. Also, she's not good at this game.
 
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<p>&nbsp;Fifth Harmony of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

 Fifth Harmony of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Top 6 - Unplugged Performances

The contestants sing a second song affiliated with a soft drink

"The X Factor" lost a bit of talent last week with the eliminations of Vino Alan and Paige Thomas. I doubt that either singer is going to become an international superstar, but until Cece Frey goes home, every "X Factor" elimination will be a minor injustice. 

That means we're down to the Top 5 + Cece Frey.

Click through for the full recap of Wednesday's (December 5) telecast...

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 159

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 159

Dan and Alan talk 'Walking Dead,' 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Boy Meets World'

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
Not much is new this week, but it's still a busy week on The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. In addition to reviewing a new 30 For 30 doc, talking about the finales of "The Walking Dead" and "Boardwalk Empire" and unpacking a frustrating episode of "Homeland," we also answered four pieces of Listener Mail, including our much-anticipated discussion of "Girl Meets World." You're welcome!
 
Oh and as we mentioned in the podcast, this week's opening music is "Tell Me," the first song on the new album by Numbers and Letters, fronted by HitFix's Katie Hasty. Woot! Download the song here.
 
And here's today's breakdown:
"You Don't Know Bo" (00:01:15 - 00:10:10)
Listener Mail - Young performers and the Emmys (00:10:30 - 00:21:15)
Listener Mail - "Girl Meets World" (00:21:15 - 00:32:30)
Listener Mail - "Under the Dome" (00:32:40 - 00:37:10)
Listener Mail - Slow-playing cancellations (00:37:15 - 00:44:15)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:44:30 - 00:59:20)
"The Walking Dead" (00:59:20 - 01:09:58)
"Homeland" (01:10:00 - 00:1:24:15)
 

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.

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<p>The Beekman Boys</p>

The Beekman Boys

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Not a Well-Rounded Athlete'

The teams take the long way to Spain as the finale looms
We all did the math on this one, didn't we?
 
There was one Non-Elimination Leg that saved The Beekmans.
 
There was a second Non-Elimination Leg that [briefly] saved the Rockers.
 
And the "Amazing Race" season had only two episodes remaining. 
 
Yes, I suppose it's *possible* that next Sunday's two-hour finale could have included a Non-Elimination Leg, but we've already had one in-episode NEL this season, plus you need to have some achievement/milestone to keep people watching a two-hour finale -- Heck, "Survivor" seems to save a half-dozen eliminations for the finale each season.
 
So... Yeah. That was inevitable and mostly not worth discussing.
 
A truly uninspired recap of a truly uninspired "Amazing Race" episode after the break.
 
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<p>Jeff Probst snuffs Jonathan Penner's torch on &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Jeff Probst snuffs Jonathan Penner's torch on "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Jonathan Penner talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

The third time wasn't the charm for this returning favorite
As "Survivor" contestants go, Jonathan Penner is one of a kind. 
 
Yes, there have been other three-time "Survivor" players and of the three-time players, Penner presumably goes down as one of the least accomplished within the game itself, right? He finished seventh in "Survivor: Cook Islands," was medically evacuated from "Survivor: Micronesia" and just earned a repeat seventh place finish for "Survivor: Philippines."
 
But how many of those three-time players can also say that they were nominated for an Oscar (for the short "Down on the Waterfront") and part of the inciting event that launched the sitcom classic "The Nanny"? 
 
Only Penner.
 
In addition, Penner has gained a reputation as a "Survivor" strategist and quotable talking head that goes well beyond whether or not he ever won the million bucks.
 
That Penner made it to seventh place on "Survivor: Philippines" is a minor miracle, since he was on a tribe with former MLB star Jeff Kent, who immediately announced it was his mission in the game to send all of the returning players home. But thanks to an Immunity Idol and some savvy dealing, Penner outlasted Kent, at least by a few days. 
 
And he could have lasted even longer except for two things: First, much maligned Abi chose Wednesday's episode to put forth her first effort of the season, winning Immunity when her elimination was a foregone conclusion otherwise. And second, Penner refused to make any Final 4 deals within his Top 6 alliance and by failing to lock down the vote of former "Facts of Life" character Blair Warner, he allowed her to become part of a different foursome, leaving him on the outside and heading home.
 
In a lively exit interview, Penner discusses his colorful Tribal Council exit, his simultaneous understanding and misreading of Blair Warner and handicaps Abi's chances as a "Survivor" villain. He also talks about the possibility of a fourth run on "Survivor" in the future.
 
It's a good interview. Click through...
 
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<p>Abbie and Ryan of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Abbie and Ryan of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Abbie & Ryan talk 'The Amazing Race'

Frankfurt and U-Turn talk with the latest eliminated team
In order to make it home for Sunday night's installment of "The Amazing Race," I had to make a tight flight connection at a German airport, sweating it out through international customs and racing across terminals to catch my Lufthansa plane. 
 
In that respect, I understand what "Amazing Race" contestants Abbie Ginsberg and Ryan Danz were going through.
 
The key difference: I made it to my gate and my plane departed successfully, which allowed me to watch Abbie & Ryan struggle in a German airport for the second time in three weeks, as travel inconveniences and a U-Turn by chums James & Jaymes led to their elimination.
 
Two other differences: I was making my connection in Munich and Abbie & Ryan were in Frankfurt, while I was returning from a vacation and they were racing for $2 million.
 
By virtue of winning the season's opening "Amazing Race" Leg, the competitive dating duo had a chance to be the first "Amazing Race" team to double the show's standard $1 million prize. And, for several Legs, it looked like they might dominate the course, finishing first or second in five of the first six Legs before the two travel disasters eventually did them in.
 
In their "Amazing Race" exit interview, Abbie & Ryan talk about the free coffee at the Frankfurt airport, the reason for their frustration at Jaymes & James' U-Turn decision and their ongoing confidence that they were dominating the controllable elements of the Race.
 
Click through for the full conversation
 
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<p>Diamond White of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

Diamond White of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Top 8 - Two eliminations and Alicia Keys performs

But mostly? Burrito Josh returns to the 'X Factor' stage!

It's nearly time for Burrito Josh!

That's why we're all watching Thursday (November 29) night's "The X Factor," right? Burrito Josh!

He was like Vino Alan, only instead of tattoos everywhere, he had a huge beard! And instead of entertaining the troops for a living, he MADE BURRITOS!

Oh right. Alicia Keys is gonna perform also.

Oh right. We're sending home two musical acts.

OK, fine. Let's get down to business...

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