Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 162 - Best of 2012

Dan and Alan discuss their favorite TV shows of the year

The

Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
 
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it's time for The Firewall & Iceberg's Best of 2012 Podcast.
 
You may already know our respective Top 10s either from HitFix's TV Critics' Poll or from Sepinwall's Top 10 and Top 20 lists, but you haven't heard us chatter about them.
 
And yes, we're planning on doing a Worst of 2012 Podcast. It'll probably record this week and then post on Monday as a pre-Christmas treat for those who like that sort of thing!
 
Please note that I'm not doing a time breakdown for this podcast because it's more than 20 back-and-forth segments on various shows and I'm not eager to go insane. However, we were both fairly conscious of not spoiling plotpoints, particularly when discussing our favorite dramas (we spoil some comedy stuff, but that's probably OK...). I can't guarantee that you can listen to this podcast and remain 100% pure on spoilers on shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" and "Homeland," but I think we're close to 98 percent pure. Maybe 99 percent?

 

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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Naomi Watts discusses the real life inspiration for 'The Impossible'

Naomi Watts discusses the real life inspiration for 'The Impossible'

SAG and Golden Globe nominee has praise for co-star Tom Holland
Naomi Watts has played her share of real people.
 
In addition to appearing in biopics like "Ned Kelly" and "J. Edgar," Watts starred as Valerie Plame in "Fair Game" and she'll be playing Princess Diana in a 2013 film. 
 
J.A. Bayona's new disaster film "The Impossible" tells the true story of a family of tourists who are separated from each other in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, with Watts' Maria and son Lucas (Tom Holland) split off from husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their younger sons (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast). 
 
The real-life Maria Belon worked hand-in-hand with screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez to bring the story to the big screen and took an active role in guaranteeing the story was told properly, making her perhaps the most invested and available of the actual people Watts has played over the years.
 
I sat down with Watts a couple weeks ago to talk about the role Maria Belon played in shaping her character, as well as the preparation that went into the harrowing film. [Check out the behind-the-scenes footage that plays with the interview. It's insane.]
 
Watts, who has subsequently been nominated for a SAG Award and a Golden Globe for her performance, also talked about her confidence in sharing most of her scenes with movie-acting neophyte Holland and with the challenges of crafting a character like this when working out-of-sequence.
 
Check it out...
 
"The Impossible" opens Friday (December 21) in limited release and goes nationwide on January 4.

 

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<p>Mike Skupin of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Mike Skupin of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Mike Skupin talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

Returning player avoided falling into the fire and made the Top 3
More than any of the returning players on "Survivor: Philippines," Mike Skupin was an enigma. 
 
Jonathan Penner had played twice and we knew what to expect from him.
 
Russell Swan was a mystery, because barely anybody remembered him, but saying he was an enigma implies people had given him thought.
 
But Mike Skupin? He killed a pig. He fell into the fire. But for the full decade after his departure from "Survivor: The Australian Outback," he was always the show's great "What if?"
 
After seeing Skupin make it to the end of a "Survivor" season, some of the uncertainty has been cleared up. Even 11 years older, Skupin remains a formidable challenge force and a strong, uncompromising personality. And he made a strong alliance with Lisa Whelchel and knew when to break up his old alliance, which took him all the way to the finale. 
 
Something was still missing from Skupin's game. He and Lisa only got one Jury vote apiece, losing to Denise, who Skupin was determined to take to the end because he was sure she was more beatable than Malcolm. He misjudged the Final 3 strategy and based on some of the less-than-complimentary reactions from his fellow castaways, he misjudged several of parts of the social game.
 
In our exit interview, Skupin mostly filibustered. He didn't answer several of my questions and dodged a couple others. He was, however, very happy to discuss whether or not he's accident-prone in his everyday life [a question I rushed to when it became clear I wasn't getting anything on my original approaches]. So there's that.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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<p>Malcolm Freberg of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Malcolm Freberg of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Malcolm Freberg talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

Popular fourth place finisher discusses his relationship with Denise and more
Malcolm Freberg may not have won "Survivor: Philippines." That crown went to his alliance-mate Denise.
 
He also may not have won the audience-voted Player of the Game prize with its cash award. That went to Lisa Whelchel, the former child star who flipped on Malcolm at the Final 4, knowing she couldn't beat him.
 
Malcolm did, however, win something far less valuable, at least in the short term: The 25-year-old bartender from Hermosa Beach ended the "Survivor: Philippines" season as probably the installment's most respected and best liked player. 
 
In his "Survivor" run, Malcolm proved to be physically capable, strategically adroit and excelled at puzzles. All the ladies wanted to flirt with him, all of the alpha males wanted to hang out with him and the "Survivor" producers knew that Malcolm was good for a quotable confessional whenever the camera was pointed in his direction. This is the sort of winning-but-not-winning combination that has led to extended open contracts in the "Survivor" family, as one could easily compare Malcolm to such three-time players as Colby or Ozzy.
 
The Colby comparisons came up in my recaps this season as Malcolm made an early bond with Denise, who seemed destined to become his Tina as they went deeper and deeper into the game. It's a concern that Malcolm admits that he felt as well.
 
In his exit interview, Malcolm talks about overcoming his horrible original tribe, his frustrations on the jury and his certainty that regardless of what people said at the Reunion show, he'd have beaten Denise if they'd been in the finals together. Oh and, like me, Malcolm remains unhappy with the ball-balancing final Immunity.
 
Click through for the full conversation...
 
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<p>The &quot;Gossip Girl&quot; finale</p>

The "Gossip Girl" finale

Credit: The CW

'Gossip Girl' finale reveals Gossip Girl and the Upper East Side future

Did you enjoy the big surprise? And all of the cameos?
"Gossip Girl," which concluded its six-season run on The CW on Monday (December 17) night, was never a great show. I'm not sure if it ever was a particularly good show. But for much of its 121 episode run, it was a stylish, entertaining guilty pleasure that offered enough moments of cleverness to compensate for (but never excuse) some astonishingly icky sexual politics.
 
Titled "New York, I Love You XOXO," Monday's finale mostly steered away from the key plotlines in what has been a largely dismal concluding season.  
 
Dreadful relationships were discarded or severed or ignored. Twisty revenge schemes were deemed irrelevant or accelerated or ignored. And romantic stumbling blocks were removed with characteristic gracelessness or ignored.
 
The result? An mostly amusing finale that answered a few questions, tied up arcs in neat bows and featured enough cameos and guest stars to please and distract and placate most fans. 
 
Did they finally give Chuck Bass a monkey? 
 
No. 
 
But other than that, I guess I got what I wanted out of the "Gossip Girl" finale, namely a free Monday hour on my DVR and the identity of the enigmatic Gossip Girl.
 
Click through for some brief thoughts on the "Gossip Girl" finale. I don't write about this show very often, but I've never missed an episode, so I might as well say farewell... With spoilers, duh.
 
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 161

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 161

Dan and Alan talk 'Dexter' and 'Homeland' finales and the Baseball Hall of Fame

The

 
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. It's time for the first of this week's two installments of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Somehow this ended up being a long podcast. I'm not sure how that happened. But it should have many easily skippable segments. For example, you may not care about my thoughts on a slew of CW shows Alan doesn't watch. Skip that segment! Or you may not have seen last night's finales for "Homeland" & "Dexter." Skip that segment! And odds are REALLY good that you don't care about our journey through the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, or why Alan's love affair with the Knicks has been rekindled! Skip that!
 
If you don't skip anything, this podcast is a robust 1:43, but I'm sure you can trim a lot from that.
 
And stay tuned later this week for our Best of 2012 Podcast.
 
Here's today's breakdown:
"1600 Penn" (00:01:10 - 00:14:20)
Dan's CW Roundup (00:14:25 - 00:30:35)
"Dexter" (00:30:55 - 00:45:10)
"Homeland" (00:45:10 - 01:17:00)
Sports Talk - Baseball Hall of Fame (01:17:30 - 01:36:15)
Sports Talk - Alan Loves the Knicks (01:36:20 - 01:43:10)

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 &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot; Final 4</p>

The "Survivor: Philippines" Final 4

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' Finale - The Winner Is...

Skupin, Denise, Malcolm and Lisa battled for the million dollars
A bientot, Abi. No pre-credit sequence for finale week. Too much "Previously on..." recapping to do. It's Night 36 and it's a silent night, indeed. "That's like having a tumor removed," Skupin quips, calling the ousting of Abi "the best feeling" since he's been out there. "She was just full of fire," Denise says, euphemistically. "The bad news is that she went out with a bang," Malcolm laments, concerned that people keep blowing up at Tribal Council and praising him. Skupin reaffirms to Malcolm that they're still aligned, but Skupin calls this 'a 'Survivor' alliance." Skupin, however, isn't sure that Malcolm's such a slam-dunk and he suggests he has a better story than the presumptive winner. The next morning, Tree-Mail promises something about a dragon, but doesn't say whether it's Immunity or Reward. Denise fears she may be the next target, so she's ready for whatever comes next.
 
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<p>Abi-Maria of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Abi-Maria of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Abi-Maria Gomes talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

The season's villain doesn't blame culture or editing
"I do not want to blame it on culture and I do not want to blame it on editing."
 
With those words, uttered late in her exit interview, I found myself coming very close to liking Abi-Maria Gomes, the primary villain of "Survivor: Philippines."
 
Yes, Abi-Maria still makes excuses for the actions that led to her becoming pariah on "Survivor" this season, actions like helping to cause the implosion of her tribe thanks to a fabricated feud with RC or tormenting a vulnerable Lisa or gloating after a Reward. But those excuses include a torn ACL that threw her out of synch from the start of the game, rather than criticizing teammates or Jeff Probst or her Brazilian heritage.
 
In fact, Abi-Maria sounds pretty honest about the way she behaved in the Philippines, or at least about the way it looked like she behaved, since she describes much of the experience as "foggy."
 
In the conversation, Abi-Maria talks about her thwarted desire to be "a Brazilian delight" and how she and RC probably would have butted heads even if Pete hadn't created chaos. She also discusses her aggressive confrontation with Mike Skupin on Wednesday's episode, including the strategy behind calling him an "idiot" and a "moron" at Tribal Council.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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<p>Josh and Brent deliver pizzas on &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Josh and Brent deliver pizzas on "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Beekman Boys Josh & Brent discuss their 'The Amazing Race' win

Million dollar winners discuss their unlikely Race triump
Over the past three nights, HitFix's "Amazing Race" exit interviews have covered the 4th Place Twinies, the 3rd Place Longhorns and the 2nd Place Chippendales, but we've finally reached the winners of this season's million dollar prize.
 
And, to hear many fans discuss it, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell were the most surprising winners in the show's history. The goat farmers and stars of Planet Green's "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" (now airing in repeats on Cooking Channel) were saved by at least one Non-Elimination Leg and by near-countless examples of the fickle finger of "Amazing Race" fate. They won exactly one Leg during the entire season.
 
Of course, the Leg they won was the only Leg that counted and even that didn't come easy as Josh's confusion with pizza toppings nearly doomed The Beekmans early in the finale, only to open the door for Josh's redemption on the season-closing Roadblock.
 
In their exit interview, Josh & Brent discuss their capacity to overcome adversity both in life and on "The Amazing Race," particular as it relates to pizza delivery. They discuss their relationships with Natalie & Nadiya and also with unlikely airport allies Abbie & Ryan. And while Cooking Channel has yet to formally order a third season of "The Fabulous Beekman Boys," they make their pitch for what that season would include.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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<p>&quot;X Factor&quot; guest performer Bruno Mars</p>

"X Factor" guest performer Bruno Mars

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Final 4 - Results and Bruno Mars performs

Would news of L.A. Reid's departure be mentioned on-air?

We're eliminating one "X Factor" contestant tonight, but all of the news on the Interwebs is surrounding the loss of one of the "X Factor" judges.

Per media reports, L.A. Reid won't be back next season

All together now: So what?!?

Will the other judges be wearing black tonight?

Will Tate Stevens be wracked with guilt wondering if he caused L.A. Reid to give up on "X Factor"? 

Will Mario and Khloe follow him out the door? 

Will this all set up another "X Factor" overhaul in an attempt to lower ratings for next season?

And who's going home tonight? 

Click through for the full recap...

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