<p>Connie Britton of &quot;American Horror Story&quot;</p>
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Connie Britton of "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 97

Dan and Alan review 'American Horror Story,' ' The League' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. It's Firewall & Iceberg Podcasting time.
 
In this week's installment, Sepinwall and I say mean things about "American Horror Story," lament Martin Scorsese's failure to recognize George Harrison's true masterpiece, answer a bunch of listener mail and then I talk about "Breaking Bad" and Alan cringes because he's already seen the finale and doesn't want to admit what he knows.
 
Here's the breakdown:
"American Horror Story" - 00:40 - 17:25
"The League" -- 28:45 - 36:00
Listener Mail - "Arrested Development" movie -- 36:15 - 42:00
Listener Mail - Future "Louie"s -- 42:00 - 49:45
Listener Mail - Crippling implausibilities -- 49:45 - 54:35
"Breaking Bad" - 54:40 - 01:08:00

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 here's the podcast...
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<p>A scene from Sunday's &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

A scene from Sunday's "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'The Sprint of Our Life'

The teams hit Indonesia and reading proves to be a struggle
Sunday (October 2) night was apparently a big deal on "The Amazing Race," as the episode marked the first double-elimination in the show's history.
 
In honor of the occasion, you'd figure "Amazing Race" would whip out some devilish challenges to task the players mentally and physically, truly weeding out the two weakest pairings.
 
If you'd figure that, you'd be wrong, of course. Then again, if you're an "Amazing Race" fan, you never would have figured such a silly thing in the first place.
 
No, Sunday night's "Amazing Race" episode hinged on only one thing and taught only one meaningful lesson: 
 
Do *not* screw around with Phil Keoghan where Indonesian orphans are concerned. 
 
That's how Sunday's episode came down to simple literacy and cost the show the season's highest profile team.
 
Click through for a full recap...
 
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<p>&nbsp;Damian Lewis and Claire Danes of &quot;Homeland&quot;</p>
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 Damian Lewis and Claire Danes of "Homeland"

Credit: Showtime

TV Review: Showtime's 'Homeland'

HitFix
A-
Readers
A
Damian Lewis and Claire Danes make this new thriller hum
For eight years, Jack Bauer fought terrorism in a fictional world in which the real world still resonated.
 
On FOX's "24," the terrorists were fake, the politicians were fake and the adversarial nations were frequently fake, but from its premiere to its finale, 9/11 and an actual War on Terror provided an off-screen backdrop for viewers. In an era of actual paranoia and uncertainty, Jack Bauer couldn't truly keep us safe, but every Monday night, he was the living, breathing, decapitating, gun-toting embodiment of the Patriot Act.
 
In contrast, Showtime's new drama "Homeland" is set in a version of the real world, but one in which the fictional world is constantly resonating.
 
Although nobody is mentioning "Barack Obama" or "George W. Bush," the "Homeland" backdrop includes 9/11, includes the dead of Osama Bin Ladin and doesn't feature a single country called Arabistan or Freedonia. And yet, for all of the tangible horrors "Homeland" is able to evoke, what it evokes most successfully is two versions of "The Manchurian Candidate," Showtime's "Sleeper Cell," a dozen edgy conspiracy dramas from the '70s and, of course, "24."
 
Premiering on Sunday (October 2) night on Showtime, "Homeland" is a taut, marvelously acted thriller that will make you think fondly of classics in the genre, even if it doesn't necessarily make you think that hard about anything of contemporary substance.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>Michael C. Hall of &quot;Dexter&quot;</p>
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Michael C. Hall of "Dexter"

Credit: Showtime

TV Review: Showtime's 'Dexter' Season 6

HitFix
C+
Readers
C+
After a promising premiere, 'Dexter' gets bogged down in religion
Quick: Without going through episode-by-episode in your mind, tell me the overarching theme that unified Season 5 of "Dexter."
 
If you ponder long enough, you'll see ideas of forgiveness and reinvention and finding new ways to see yourself, often through the eyes of others, but you'd never be able to respond to my challenge with an instant one-word answer.
 
Now that you're in the mood, quick: Without going through episode-by-episode in your mind, tell me the overarching theme that unified Season 4 of "Dexter."
 
Again, there's no way you're going to shoot off an instant answer, but if you ponder the whole John Lithgow arc, I'm sure you'd notice musings on assimilation, on how successfully or unsuccessfully any of us can cover our inner monsters with a facade of civility. Or something. [I would accept "Fatherhood" as the season's theme.]
 
I could go on, but these weren't meant as Zen koans or as trick questions. Some TV shows do brazen season-long thematic arcs quite well. I'd point to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a fine example of a show that, if you waited long enough, would always find a way to unify the Big Bad, Buffy's journey and many of the supporting journeys. But most shows, even highly serialized shows, either bury seasonal thematic arcs deep under the surface -- it's something that's on the board in the writers' room, but maybe not a literally articulated piece of every episode -- or they just don't bother at all. I'd generously say that "Dexter" fits into the latter category, especially since "identity" has always been the show's uber-theme, writ so large nothing else would even be necessary.
 
Well, somebody in the "Dexter" production team decided that this season would be a little different. They decided that the sixth season of "Dexter" was going to be about religion and not just in a casual way. "Religion" is at the heart of the core "Dexter" plotline for this season, but also at the center of the B-story and the C-story this season. It's been the center of the art/poster campaign and it's been the center of most on-air promotions.    
 
It's everywhere. 
 
And it's excruciating. 
 
"Dexter," as a series, does so many things so consistently well, but it turns out that bludgeoning viewers with issues of faith and spirituality isn't one of them. After a lively and appealingly hilarious premiere (airing on Sunday, October 2), "Dexter" goes entirely off the rails with two episodes hobbled by clumsy victims-of-the-week and then crushed with endless repetition of the core theme: Yes, "Dexter." We get it. This season is about religion, but if it's not going to be an intelligent or thoughtful treatise on religion, I'd kinda prefer the series return to just being gristly and entertaining, rather than ponderous and dogmatic.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>Semhar of &quot;Survivor: South Pacific&quot;</p>
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Semhar of "Survivor: South Pacific"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Semhar Tadesse of 'Survivor: South Pacific'

The season's first 'Survivor' castoff discusses what did her in
No matter how you feel about the overall impact of Redemption Island on the past two "Survivor" seasons, one thing you can't deny is that it has taken some of the anonymity away from being the first contestant eliminated from the game. 
 
It used to be that the person voted out initially would have only part of one episode to make an impression, but "Survivor: South Pacific" viewers got to spent three episodes seeing 24-year-old Semhar Tadesse, whose only mistake in the game was volunteering for a key role in the season's initial challenge and tiring out too soon. 
 
The spoken word artist may have failed at that task, but at least she got to perform three of her poems on national TV before being knocked out in a totem-balancing Duel during Wednesday (September 28) night's episode. 
 
Plus, she got to be immortalized in impressively sexist terms by fellow castaway Jim, who led the charge against Semhar, declaring, "Her body is mesmerizing, but it's not hypnotizing."
 
In our post-elimination exit interview, Semhar shared her thoughts on her elimination, her on-screen poetry and being mesmerizing, but not hypnotizing. 
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
 
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<p>Nicole Scherzinger of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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Nicole Scherzinger of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - 'Auditions #4' Live-Blog

The auditions come to an end for Simon, L.A., Nicole and Paula

I have to acknowledge that that thing where I suggested that last Thursday's really awful episode of "The X Factor" might kill the show? I was wrong. I assumed that as a new show, its ratings might be vulnerable, but it turns out that just because "X Factor" had fewer initial viewers than "Idol" didn't necessarily mean that they were just dropping in to sample the show and might just as easily bail. Apparently not.

Anyway... Let's get down to business on the final Audition Night of the season...

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<p>Mikayla of 'Survivor: South Pacific'</p>
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Mikayla of 'Survivor: South Pacific'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: South Pacific' - 'Reap What You Sow'

Brandon remains the center of attention, but at least there's a Duel
Sorry for the late recap. Rosh Hashanah, y'all!
 
Click through for the usual recap and a little day-late chatter...
 
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<p>Cheryl Cole of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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Cheryl Cole of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - 'Auditions #3' Live-Blog

Cheryl Cole makes a triumphant return in Chicago. Nothing else matters.
It's Erev Rosh Hashanah tonight and I'm live-blogging Wednesday's (September 28) night "The X Factor" for two reasons:
 
1) I want to be able to get dressed and head off to temple immediately after the episode ends... and...
 
2) If I give 100 percent of my attention to the Red Sox-Orioles game, I'm going to end up pulling my hair out. I need distractions...
 
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<p>Jane Levy of &quot;Suburgatory&quot;</p>
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Jane Levy of "Suburgatory"

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'Suburgatory'

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto lead the cast of the fall's best new comedy
If you've been reading my reviews of new fall shows, you're aware that pilots often change between when critics (and advertisers) first see them in May and June and when they air in September or October.
 
Sometimes you start off with a pilot about empowered women in bunny suits and you end up with a boring political drama starring Eddie Cibrian.
 
Sometimes you start off with a main character working as a top-tier publicist and you end up with the main character working as a producer for an Oprah-esque talk show.
 
Sometimes even after three different attempts to make a compelling family adventure, you end up with an expensive series that's really just about dinosaurs.
 
That's just part of the process and it's why I end up watching the first episode of every single new show at least two times and sometimes more. What you see in premiere week can often feel like a whole different show from what you saw immediately after upfronts.
 
Something that's less common, though, is watching an episode two different times, a couple months apart, and coming away with an entirely different read on the theme and impact of the pilot despite the absence of any meaningful changes.
 
There were a couple cosmetic changes to ABC's "Suburgatory" between my two viewings, but nothing that would explain how what I first saw as a familiar-yet-clever satire on the suburbs became a funny, but also sweetly sad, story about a teenage girl without a female role model moving into a world of synthetic women with very different values. Viewed through either prism, I really enjoyed "Suburgatory" and the idea of a new network comedy with actual layers made me even happier. "Suburgatory" is the best new comedy of the fall, a fine pairing with the show Emmy voters believe to be the best comedy on TV.
 
Full review after the break...
 
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Watch: Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris talk 'New Girl'

Meet the New Guy who isn't playing the same character as Damon Wayans Jr.
The comedy airing on FOX tonight at 9 p.m. is still called "New Girl," but more than a few viewers are likely to spend tonight's episode being just a bit distracted by the New Guy.
 
The story is pretty well repeated by this point, but here it goes again: Damon Wayans Jr. did the "New Girl" pilot in second position to ABC's "Happy Endings," which was considered on the bubble for renewal. But when ABC picked up "Happy Endings," the "New Girl" producers had a choice: Recast and reshoot the pilot or get rid of Wayans' Coach after the pilot and bring in a new character.
 
That's why tonight, there's a new roommate on "New Girl" and it isn't Zooey Deschanel anymore, it's Lamorne Morris.
 
Before watching tonight's episode, learn a bit about the New Guy from Morris and learn a little bit about one of the Old Guys from "Veronica Mars" (and "Happy Endings") veteran Greenfield.
 
Check it out...
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