<p>Andy and Tommy of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Andy and Tommy of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Release The Brake!'

Teams drive Ford Mustangs, make waffles and follow pigeons
Much has been written -- some of it even true -- about the myriad attempts on the life of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin in 1916.
 
He was stabbed and poisoned and shot and beaten and drowned. Even after he was confirmed dead, observers swore that Rasputin sat up in the middle of his own cremation. 
 
Now you may say that Rasputin had a power that was magical or malevolent or possibly divine. Or you may say that the people entrusted with assassinating the crazed mystic were really awful at their jobs. Or you could suggest that superstitious people spun a web of folk tales around the death of a man they hated and feared and that those legends have only grown with passing years.
 
Me? I just figure that each time Rasputin was killed and went to the gates of either Heaven or Hell (presumably the latter, but I don't want to rule anything out), he was greeted by St. Peter or Charon or the gatekeeping figure of your choice and he was told, "Grigori Rasputin... You're in luck. This was a Non-Elimination Assassination Attempt." So Rasputin returned to Earth, dealt with some pathetic Speed Bump in life and continued. 
 
Eventually, though, Rasputin was eliminated from the Human Race and other than periodic returns in "Hellboy" and whatnot, he's stayed gone.
 
In most ways, Bill & Cathi are absolutely nothing like Grigori Rasputin. In fact, they're pretty admirable folks. They completed for 10 legs on "The Amazing Race" and mostly kept pace with contestants half their ages. They didn't fight. They didn't complain. They just kept going. As parents or grandparents or just general role models for how to get the most out of life, they're top-notch.
 
But...
 
[Full recap of Sunday (November 27) night's "The Amazing Race" after the break...]
 
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<p>Bradley Whitford in &quot;Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith&quot;</p>
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Bradley Whitford in "Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith"

Credit: ABC

HitFix Interview: Bradley Whitford talks ABC's 'Have a Little Faith'

Mitch Albom adaptation brings out a new side from the Aaron Sorkin veteran
The resilient Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise premieres its first installment of the season on Sunday (November 27) night, but after years as destination viewing on CBS, Hallmark is moving to ABC for "Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith."
 
The movie also marks a change of pace for leading man Bradley Whitford, who has to set aside the ace sarcastic delivery that he's brought to "The West Wing" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "The Good Guys," to play the mostly-earnest small screen proxy for Albom, who also served as writer and executive producer.
 
Based on Albom's book, "Have a Little Faith" finds the less-than-religious sportswriter learning life lessons from a pair of clergymen: His childhood rabbi (Martin Landau) and the ex-con preacher (Laurence Fishburne) at a cash-strapped Detroit church. 
 
I got on the phone with Whitford earlier this week to discuss his schmaltz radar, his impressive "Faith" co-stars and whether he'd be interested in working on Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series.
 
Click through for the full Q&A.
 
 
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<p>Ah, the old Savaii Tribe. Good times...</p>
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Ah, the old Savaii Tribe. Good times...

Credit: CBS

Not-a-Recap: Things learned from the 'Survivor: South Pacific' clip show

Guess what? Whitney and Keith were an island couple. Shocking, right?
I'm suggestible. 
 
So when CBS spent seven days relentlessly promoting this week's "new" episode of of "Survivor: Pearl Island," eventually it infiltrated my brain. 
 
Even though I knew that the pre-Thanksgiving episode of "Survivor" (or the Thanksgiving episode before the shift to Wednesday) is always a clip show, I somehow convinced myself that I would glean copious insights from everything "new" in the episode and that I would be able to use those insights in future recaps and "Survivor" exit interviews. It would be just like that season I watched all of the Ponderosa videos on the "Survivor" website, when surely all of those post-eviction weigh-ins and grotesque peanut butter pig-outs left me with ample wisdom. Right?
 
Honestly, I watched the Ponderosa episodes in the "Heroes vs. Villains" season because I couldn't bring myself to say farewell to Amanda Kimmel. 
 
I haven't watched since.  
 
And I won't watch another "Survivor" clip show ever again. It turns out that for the most part, "Survivor" editors put great effort into attempting to craft the season's storylines and if material didn't make the final cut, it was left out for a reason. 
 
"For the most part."
 
There were still some precious kernels to be gleaned from the clip show. 
 
Yes, that's an overstatement of the word "precious." It's possibly even an overstatement of the word "kernel."
 
Click through for the bullet-point highlights... It'll be just like you wasted the hour, too!
 
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<p>Melanie Amaro on Tuesday's &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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Melanie Amaro on Tuesday's "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Results Live-Blog - Double Elimination

Which two acts weren't thankful on Thanksgiving Eve?

It's not just Elimination Wednesday on "The X Factor."

It's DOUBLE Elimination Wednesday.

Time to let the craziness ensue after the break...

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<p>Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell of &quot;Suburgatory&quot;</p>
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Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell of "Suburgatory"

Credit: ABC

HitFix Interview: Ana Gasteyer talks 'Suburgatory'

Wednesday's Thanksgiving episode showcases the 'SNL' veteran's Sheila
Ana Gasteyer called me on Tuesday afternoon after ducking into a New York City Starbucks to escape the rain. She'd just placed her order when we began our conversation and as we ended the interview 15 minutes later, she was still waiting for her beverage.
 
That's exactly the sort inconvenience that would annoy so many of Gasteyer's marvelously high-strung characters over the years, vivid creations like her "SNL" Martha Stewart or her "In your opinion..." judge on "The Good Wife."
 
To her credit, Gasteyer doesn't seem at all flustered by her delayed order, as we discuss her newest character, "Suburgatory" neighborhood autocrat Sheila Shay. The actress has been newly elevated to cast regular status on the hit ABC freshman comedy and Wednesday (Nov. 23) night's Thanksgiving episode is the biggest showcase yet for Sheila and her family. Rest assured that Sheila isn't the kind of woman to take kindly to a Starbucks slight.
 
While she was waiting for that elusive beverage, Gasteyer and I discussed what makes Sheila tick, why George (Jeremy Sisto) and Tessa (Jane Levy) are threats to her sense of order, working with long-time collaborator Chris Parnell and her own Thanksgiving favorites.
 
Click through for the full Q&A.
 
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<p>Howie Mandel</p>
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Howie Mandel

Watch: Howie Mandel talks FOX's 'Mobbed'

Does the germ-phobic host have a favorite fist-bump?
What better way to celebrate a holiday eve than with a special about people celebrating major life moments with the help of flash mob performances?
 
That's the way FOX is thinking, scheduling Howie Mandel's "Mobbed" for Wednesday (November 23) night, airing after a double-elimination episode of "The X Factor."
 
"Mobbed" has a solid history following FOX musical talent shows, premiering as a one-off last March after an "American Idol" hour. That special retained the "Idol" audience so solidly that FOX ordered more "Mobbed" just days later.
 
In September, I sat down with Mandel, "Mobbed" host and executive producer, to talk about the flash mob phenomenon, what sort of announcements work best in this format and whether or not the famously germ-averse star has any favorite styles of fist-bump.
 
Check out the interview. 
 
 
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<p>Astro of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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Astro of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - Top 9 Performances Live-Blog

It's a Giving Thanks theme week, whatever the heck that means

If you love stuffing and you love apologies, Tuesday (November) night's Very Special "The X Factor" is a two-hour block made just for you.

The "stuffing" is going to come from the show's Pre-Thanksgiving theme of "Giving Thanks," which is sure to be as efficiently adhered to as last week's Rock-n-Roll debacle. But "stuffing" is also relevant because Tuesday's show will cram nine performances into two hours, as the field keeps dwindling, but the programming block remains the same. 

And as for "apologies"? Well, if self-flagellation involving teenagers doesn't make you uncomfortable, you're gonna love watching Poor Li'l' Astro throw himself at the mercy of Simon Cowell and company begging their forgiveness for last week's lapse of positive mental attitude. With a double elimination pending on Wednesday, how many times will Astro have to say "I'm sorry" in order to avoid packing his bags? 

Let's find out!

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<p>Zooey Deschanel</p>
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Zooey Deschanel

Credit: FOX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 103

Dan and Alan play catch-up on a slew of TV comedies

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
 
How did a week in which we had nothing new to discuss end up being our longest podcast ever?
 
I have no idea.
 
But last week, we caught up with many of our favorite TV dramas and this week we caught up with many of our favorite TV comedies and that somehow resulted in an epic 100-minute-plus podcast.
 
I can't really explain it, but Justin Verlander is probably to blame.
 
This week's exhausting breakdown:
 
"How I Met Your Mother" (01:35 - 10:50)
"2 Broke Girls" (10:50 - 19:05)
"New Girl" (19:05 - 25:00)
"Suburgatory" (25:00 - 30:05)
"Modern Family" (30:05 - 34:50)
Justin Verlander winning AL MVP (34:50 - 37:50)
"Happy Endings" (38:05 - 42:50)
The shelving of "Cougar Town" and "Community" (42:50 - 52:00)
"Community" (52:00 - 01:01:25)
"Parks and Rec" (01:01:30 - 01:08:50)
"The Office" (01:08:50 - 01:19:14)
"Always Sunny" (01:19:20 - 01:23:55)
Listener Mail: Miscasting vs. Bad acting (01:23:55 - 01:28:45)
"Homeland" (01:28:50 - 01:38:00)
 
 

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>Marcus and Amani of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Marcus and Amani of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'It's Speedo Time'

In honor of Jean-Claude Van Damme, teams get greased up in Belgium
Whatever.
 
I dunno what to say about Sunday (November 20) night's "Amazing Race."
 
Every week I sit down to recap this show and every week, I write a full recap. Sometimes the recaps are poorly edited. Sorry. Some weeks the recaps are less inspired. Sorry for that as well. But a full recap gets posted every week, complete with a beginning -- intro and lead-up to the break -- a middle -- description of various challenges and whatnot -- and an end -- a few random observations and a bolded question asking what you thought of the episode.
 
Somehow, this season of "The Amazing Race" has lost all grasp on the beginning-middle-and-end narrative. After delivering the season's best episode last week, "The Amazing Race" limped back into its season-average form with the fourth time in nine episodes that the credits have rolled without a team going home. This week's episode -- not a Non-Elimination Leg, but one of the equally frustrating "Welcome to the Pit Stop, now continue with the Race" non-results -- ended the season's longest streak of episodes featuring an elimination at TWO.
 
That's just stupid and it has prevented me from getting any sort of emotional momentum in watching the Race. You should be watching every episode going "I hope my favorite teams don't get eliminated this week!" rather than "I wonder if anybody's going to be eliminated at all."
 
And Sunday's episode felt like an elimination-free Leg from very early on when it quickly became clear that too much time was being spent on too many things that weren't really placement factors, as the hour-mark got closer and closer and closer. I knew with 15 or 20 minutes left that there was no way the teams were all going to reach the Pit Stop by the end of the hour, so I had lots of time to marinate in frustrated anticipation. 
 
[I'll say this again: In isolation, an elimination-free Leg or two might tick me off a little, but my increased ire at this season has been the distribution of such legs. There has to be a better way to do it, because this season's structure has been the worst way to do it. So there's no need to tell me "But they have to do elimination-free episodes to stretch out the season." I know this. Previous seasons have had different scatter patterns for NELs and whatnot. All have been better than this season in that particular respect.]
 
Click through for my recap of Sunday's "The Amazing Race"...
 
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<p>Keith and Jim of &quot;Survivor: South Pacific&quot;</p>
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Keith and Jim of "Survivor: South Pacific"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Jim Rice and Keith Tollefson talk 'Survivor: South Pacific'

Did they bully Cochran? Would Coach have made the Merge on their Tribe? And more...
We're now two weeks past John Cochran's big "Survivor" flip, a strategic maneuver that some fans have celebrated as a brilliant game play and some fans are hailing as an act of betrayal. 
 
Not surprisingly, the players impacted negatively by Cochran's move are also still irked by what went down in the South Pacific and although they're maybe not as harshly critical as they were on the night the alliance shift went down, they're also not happy.
 
In a double-elimination Duel that aired this past week, Jim Rice and Keith Tollefson were defeated on Redemption Island and it's no surprise that much of their paired exit interview involved questions relating to Cochran.
 
Was Cochran bullied?
 
Does his flip make any more sense six months and a season of episodes later? 
 
Would they really have rather gone to drawing rocks at that first post-Merge Tribal council?
 
And what's up with Coach?
 
Click through for all of their answers, some fairly reasonable and some still fueled by a sense of ongoing frustration... 
 
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