Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'This Isn't a We Game'

Would Team Russell come together to reverse its slide?
Pre-credit sequence. Team Russell returns to camp after another Tribal Council. Castaways describe the experience as "fun" and "interesting." Angie's not happy with Roxy throwing her under the bus, but she thinks that everybody remaining in their tribe trusts her and knows that nothing is happening with her and Malcolm. Well, that would be everybody other than Russell, who worries about Angie and Malcolm as a couple and is determined to sway Denise to his way of thinking.
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<p>The &quot;X Factor&quot; judges welcome contestants to Boot Camp</p>

The "X Factor" judges welcome contestants to Boot Camp

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Wednesday - Boot Camp #1

We're done with auditions... On to the madness of boot camp

Farewell, "X Factor" auditions. We had some fun with you, but it's finally time to move on to something else. Anything else.

It's time for Boot Camp, which would be a lot like Hollywood Week on "American Idol," except that it's in Miami and, therefore, is completely different.

Wednesday's (October 3) episode is only an hour because of the debate, so let's get down to the business of singing!

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<p>Rob and Sheila of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Rob and Sheila of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Rob & Sheila talk 'The Amazing Race'

It was so close, yet so far for the lumberjack and his bride-to-be
Fifteen seconds.
Fans of "The Amazing Race" never got much of a chance to know competitive lumberjack champion Rob Scheer and bride-to-be Sheila Castle.
Fifteen seconds. 
That was all that separated Rob & Sheila from a potentially longer tenure on the Race. 
Rob & Sheila successfully weathered a pair of Roadblocks, but the task of finding a lady with an abacus on Shanghai's Bund proved frustrating. Still, they had the clue and nearly made it to Phil Keoghan in next-to-last position, only to get run down from behind by Chippendales Dancers Jaymes & James. 
Fifteen seconds. 
In the season's first "Amazing Race" exit interview, Rob and Sheila discuss the disappointment of their brief time on the show, why finding a lady with  an abacus was so hard and what frog fallopian tubes taste like.
Click through...
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Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Shannon Woodward talks fake orgasms and arachnophobia

Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Shannon Woodward talks fake orgasms and arachnophobia

FOX comedy returns on Tuesday with more Sabrina quirkiness
It isn't often that we discover a love interest on a TV show sleeps with a stocking over her head out of fear of nesting spiders, but in the world of FOX's "Raising Hope," Shannon Woodward's Sabrina is only beginning to rise to the level of eccentricity around her. 
Sabrina's growing quirkiness was one of the pleasures of "Raising Hope" both for fans and for Woodward, who tells me that she requested the opportunity to engage in some wackiness of her own. And things are only getting crazier in the third season, which introduces Oscar nominee Melanie Griffith as Sabrina's mother and threatens to take the Jimmy-Sabrina romance to the next level.
In our recent sit-down, Woodward and I discussed the very logical reasons why even a normal person would start donning hose before bed, her off-camera relationship with the twins who play Hope and her very enthusiastic "When Harry Met Sally" homage in the premiere.
Check out the full interview above...
Watch: Echo Kellum and Lucy Punch talk 'Ben and Kate'

Watch: Echo Kellum and Lucy Punch talk 'Ben and Kate'

FOX comedy airs its second episode on Wednesday
Now, it's on to Lucy Punch and Echo Kellum, who play BJ and Tommy on the FOX Tuesday comedy.
While Faxon and Johnson can tap creator Dana Fox for information about the real-life inspirations for their characters, Punch and Kellum have been able to stray from Fox's own family history and in this interview, they discuss the development of BJ and Tommy.
The two actors also tease upcoming details about their characters and explain the secret to not being upstaged by Jones.
Check out the interview... 
"Ben and Kate" airs on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX.
Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Lucas Neff celebrates keeping Hope alive

Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Lucas Neff celebrates keeping Hope alive

FOX comedy star discusses Jimmy and Goth Jimmy
Lucas Neff is a good company man. 
When I sat down with the "Raising Hope" star, he was wearing a "Raising Hope" hat, a "Raising Hope" jacket and he was drinking from a "Raising Hope" mug. He's also wearing a "Raising Hope" t-shirt underneath the jacket, not that you can see it.
"Raising Hope" is returning for its third season on Tuesday (October 2) night and much of my conversation with Neff focuses on the way that the show has grown and changed, including the progression of his character and the evolution of the twins who play Baby Hope. 
He also, in moments of variable jest, discusses a fatalistic potential ending for "Raising Hope" and picks his favorite twin. 
It's a funny interview and I think you'll always keep in mind what show Neff is promoting, which is truly what counts.
"Raising Hope" returns on Tuesday, October 2 at 8 p.m. Stay tuned for my interviews with Garret Dillahunt & Martha Plimpton and with Shannon Woodward.
Watch: 'New Girl' star Hannah Simone discusses Cece's evolution

Watch: 'New Girl' star Hannah Simone discusses Cece's evolution

Why do Cece and Schmidt make sense?
My first mistake: Insinuating to Hannah Simone that her "New Girl" character, Cece, may have started out last season as just The Hot Friend, before very quickly becoming a valuable part of the show's comedic ensemble. 
In my mind, this was a double compliment. Lesson learned, though. Hannah Simone is sure that Cece was funny from the beginning and since she was a tremendously good sport and, I'd like to believe, only feigned offense, I'll take her word for it. 
That was probably my only real mistake in the conversation I had with Simone a couple weeks back, discussing Cece's evolution and her increasingly pivotal relationship with Max Greenfield's Schmidt. 
Simone was battling laryngitis, but she did a terrific job of perking up for the conversation, especially when discussing her awe at getting to play opposite legendary Indian actress (and cookbook maven!) Madhur Jaffrey, who played Cece's grandmother last season.
Check out the full interview above.
After its two-episode premiere last week, "New Girl" settles exclusively into its regular Tuesday 9 p.m. slot on October 2.
Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 152

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 152

Dan and Alan talk '30 for 30,' ratings, 'Homeland' and much, much, much more


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
It's a Kitchen Sink installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
In this week's installment, we talk about Tuesday's return of "Raising Hope" and review the first two new "30 For 30" films. We also talk about a ton of TV from last week, including weighing in on "Sons of Anarchy," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Office" and "Homeland." We also discuss the idea of Seth MacFarlane as Oscars host and Week 1 ratings. 
Seriously. Lots of stuff. 
And pay close attention to the outline if you don't want things spoiled. I take a long pause before we get into The Big Thing That Happened on "Sons of Anarchy," but beyond that... It's on you!
Today's breakdown:
"Raising Hope" (00:01:15 - 00:10:55)
"30 for 30" (00:10:55 - 00:23:45)
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane (00:23:45 - 00:31:40)
Early Ratings (00:31:40 - 00:40:30)
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:40:40 - 00:50:15)
"The Office" (00:50:15 - 00:54:05)
"How I Met Your Mother" (00:54:10 - 01:00:45)
Listener mail - Guest Appearances (01:01:10 - 01:04:15)
Listener mail - "Life" (01:04:15 - 01:07:15)
"Homeland" (01:07:15 - 01:14:00)

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.

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

Jaymes and James of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Premiere - 'Double Your Money'

Which team earned the chance to hypothetically win $2 million?
If you're a regular reader of my "Amazing Race" recaps, I bet you think you can predict the first thing I'm going to say about Sunday (September 30) night's premiere.
I want to talk about the fact that Team Monster Truck -- Rob & Kelley -- seems to be using rollaboard luggage rather than traditional backpacks. My knowledge of "Amazing Race" isn't as encyclopedic as for some of the shows I recap, but I can't remember this ever being done previously. Was there a rule change? Or do Rob and/or Kelley have back problems of some sort that require a luggage alternative? It's not like backpacks with wheels are a new invention. Is the theory that rollies are actually slower than backpacks? They obviously are slower when you're in a crowded area and you have to navigate quickly. But they're easier if you happen to be weaker. 
These are the questions I pondered as I saw Team Monster Truck navigating around the Bund in Shanghai. It struck me as weird. And so I wanted to bring it up.
[Buddy Andy from RealityBlurred notes that flight attendants Jodi & Christie from S. 14 had rollaboards.]
Bet you didn't expect that to be the first thing discussed in my recap tonight.
I bet you expected me to go on my traditional jeremiad about how it's absolutely asinine to premiere seasons of "The Amazing Race" or "Survivor" with hour-long episodes. 
And guess what? It's true, darnit!
Normally, I just use my premiere week recaps to go through each of the teams, listing the teams that I'm liking and the teams I'm disliking, which tends to be a good way for me to keep the teams straight in my head and break down the initial impressions they left. 
Guess what? After one hour? I'm really not liking or disliking anybody. I'm impressed by Monster Truck Rob and his eating prowess (more on that in a bit). It's absolutely impossible not to be impressed by Amy with her two artificial legs. I've decided that Nadiya is The Annoy Twin. I find Beekman Boys Josh and Brent to be amusing, but they're professional reality show stars, so of course they are. But, in the balance after one hour, I have no rooting interest, positive or negative, towards any team. And that's the kind of thing you avoid by doing an extended premiere for competition series that have to introduce 22 new people. Look at "Survivor," which premiered its Philippines season with a 90-minute episode. After 90 minutes, I had vague awareness of all 18 contestants (albeit a group that included three returning players and two pseudo-stars). 
After 60 minutes tonight? Whatever. 
And what's worse: Of the 11 "Amazing Race" teams this season, at least four of the teams are same-gender pairings in which I will NEVER be able to properly distinguish between players, at least not on my tiny Slingbox screen. Team White Lion and Team Sri Lankan Twins were always going to be a struggle. If Natalie wears her hair down and Naiya always wears a scrunchie, I might occasionally make a correct ID. Ditto if James (he of White Lion and Megadeath) always wears dark shades and Abba (formerly "Mark") wears clear glasses. James and Abba aren't brothers and they don't look that much alike, but in the "Amazing Race" chaos (and, again, on my Slingbox), there're close enough. 
I have the same issue with Team Chippendale. Jaymes (blonde and scruffy) and James (brunette and scruffy) have similar stature and different features, but recognizing those differences while also retaining which is "James" and which is "Jaymes" is a lost cause.
And finally, Caitlin and Brittany? One played soccer and one played volleyball, but otherwise? they're both tall, slender blondes with REALLY white teeth. Staring at headshots for a couple seconds, I think Brittany is the one I find cuter, but that's not useful on the fly.
[More after the break...
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Watch: 'The Simpsons' producer Al Jean talks Season 24

Watch: 'The Simpsons' producer Al Jean talks Season 24

Longtime showrunner teases guest voices and more
"The Simpsons" kicks off its 24th season on Sunday (September 30) night.
Long-time showrunner and writer and executive producer Al Jean hasn't been there for all 24 seasons, but it certainly seems like he has been. One of the original "Simpsons" writers and in the midst of a showrunning tenure that has dated back to 2001, Jean has been one of the show's key media presences, responding to every milestone, development and controversy, every innovation or wrinkle in the show's venerable formula, every guest star and every programming stunt. 
That means that I've chatted with Al Jean with a regularity that's almost like clockwork. Here, for example, are our conversations before the start of Season 21, Season 22 and Season 23. If you look at the publication dates for those interviews, you'll see that it's almost eerie.
That means that this year's Al Jean interview is a few days late, but I think it's the best we've done together. In the conversation, we talk about  Sunday's premieres, about Season 24 guest stars and about the show's ongoing ability to stir up controversy for the oddest of reasons. 
It's kinda long, so the first part is above and the second part is embedded below.