<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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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 160

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 160

Dan and Alan talk Golden Globe nominations, 'Sons of Anarchy' and more

Happy Thursday, Boys & Girls!

Have you been up since 4:45 awaiting Golden Globe nominations only to find out that "Mad Men" isn't one of the five best dramas on TV? We have! And that's why it's time for an occasionally grumpy installment of The Firewall & Iceberg postcast.
 
In this week's podcast, we chatter about SAG Awards and Golden Globe nominations. We also discuss the finale and full season of "Sons of Anarchy" and then our ongoing disillusion with "Homeland" reaches its penultimate week.
 
And get ready for a multi-podcast week next week. Because we love you!
 
Here's today's breakdown:
Golden Globes/SAG blather (00:01:30 - 23:00)
Listener Mail - Toupee Fallacy and Bad Actors or Bad Writing? (00:23:40 -
Listener Mail - The future of "Parks & Recreation" (00:30:45 - 35:45)
Listener Mail - "The Shield" and "Sons of Anarchy" into finale discussion (00:36:20 - 00:53:55)
"Homeland" - (00:53:55 - 01:12:10)
 
 

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>Jaymes and James of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Jaymes and James of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Jaymes & James talk 'The Amazing Race'

The Chippendales discuss their run from near-elimination to second place
It wasn't a direct path that Jaymes Vaughan and James Davis took to "Amazing Race" success to into the hearts of fans.
 
In the first Leg, the two Chippendales performers seemed to embody every himbo stereotype we wanted to pre-judge them with. Mental gaffes caused them to very nearly get eliminated in that initial episode, as they survived only by virtue of being marginally faster than a middle-aged couple.
 
But then, a funny thing happened. Jaymes & James began to grow on viewers. Their high spirits were infectious and Jaymes was good for two or three quotable lines per week, sometimes more. And as we got to know them, it became even easier to like them. Jaymes was competing to assist his father, currently battling cancer -- head over to ForgetCancerNow.com -- while James just wanted to win a car for his mother. All together now: Awww.
 
By the time James overcame a seemingly excruciating ankle injury to limp through a Russian dancing challenge, the Chippendales were the team most fans seemed to be rooting for. 
 
Jaymes & James came up just short on their "Amazing Race" journey, finishing second, but I'm assuming we haven't seen the last of them and I'm guessing we probably haven't seen the last of them on "The Amazing Race."
 
In their exit interview, Jaymes & James talked about changing viewer attitudes towards their current profession, how nearly leaving after one Leg reshaped their attitudes and their goals going forward. Oh and Jaymes says his new single, not a direct follow-up to "Vampire," is coming out before the end of the year.
 
Click through for the full interview.
 
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<p>Michael Skupin of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Michael Skupin of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'Gouge My Eyes Out'

In the season's penultimate episode alliances are shifting
Pre-Credit sequence. Anybody remember who went home last week? Anybody? OK. Fine. It was Carter. Man-Dana? That other guy who was out there who isn't there anymore? Nevermind. It's back to DangRayne for the Final 5. "Thanks for keeping me, guys," Abi tells everybody, as if an active choice had been made to validate her very existence. "I am over the moon," she tells us, before the editors cut to the moon to show what Abi is not, in fact, over. Abi's unsure if anybody buys her Fantasy Immunity Idol, but she's planning to keep fantasizing. "This game isn't fair," says Blair Warner, who has now fully embraced her "I'd rather go to the end with somebody I can beat" revised ethos. This ethos is concerning Malcolm, who knows that if Blair Warner's head is in the game, she's dangerous going forward. Foreshadowing?
 
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<p>Emblem 3 of &quot;X Factor&quot;</p>

Emblem 3 of "X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Final 4 - Performances

Emblem 3, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony perform

It's Final 4 time on "The X Factor."

But really, if we're being honest, it's time for the Top 2 -- Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens haven't let anybody else in since voting began -- and then Emblem 3 and then, somewhere in the distance, Fifth Harmony. The stratification in this "X Factor" season was established early and other than the occasional minor blip -- Vino Alan's elimination was no more or less random than how high he'd be polling previously -- nothing has changed. It was a fantastic idea for "X Factor" to reveal vote ranking, but it was also a horrible idea. Everybody wants to believe that voting on these shows is fluid and that one great performance can turn somebody from an underdog to a star, but that probably isn't the case at all. 

So what difference could Wednesday's show possibly make? Do we really think that Tate and Carly Rose can be displaced in the finale? 

Let's see how the performances go...

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