<p>Winnie and Pam make a new friend on &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Winnie and Pam make a new friend on "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Scorpion King Hunter'

After an apology, the teams head to Africa
I guess we might as well get this out of the way up-front, since there's virtually nothing worth discussing from Sunday's (March 24) installment of "The Amazing Race":
Sunday's hour began with a rather lengthy narrated apology for last week's Leg, directed specifically at veterans and anybody else offended by the episode, which took place in Hanoi and included both an extended challenge built around a Communist anthem, as well as a key route marker at a monument built around a downed B-52. The apology referred to the show at "insensitive" and was probably sufficiently self-flaggelatory to placate some of the outraged viewers (though not the commenters who posted on my recap and ratings posts last week vowing never to watch again).
Here's the thing: I understand completely why certain people were disturbed and pissed off about the scenes. Totally. I think that a lot of the vitriol that was spewed on Fox News was over-the-top, but that's par for the course. If you want to say that last week's episode was insensitive? I wouldn't dare quibble. If you want to say that CBS and the show are un-American and deserve punishment? Well, yeah. I can't go that far with you.
Because I watch the show, I know this is what "The Amazing Race" does. If the show is in a country that has a particular relationship with the United States, that relationship is acknowledged, even if it's not pretty. The most obvious examples have involved African countries, where the slave trade has been specifically addressed. But it's really not uncommon. So I wasn't surprised that "The Amazing Race" didn't shy from the Vietnam War when the teams went through Vietnam. Pretending that racing through Vietnam is identical to racing through Bali would be disingenuous and not the way "The Amazing Race" operates. The show is about world citizenship and the Vietnam War is a fair part of the discussion to a group of Americans racing around Vietnam. It just is. But could it have been addressed in a different way? Well, yes. Absolutely.
My question: The "Amazing Race" producers planned, shot and edited those sequences. CBS must have known where the show was going and somebody at some point must have watched the episode. Could the "Amazing Race" producers and CBS *seriously* have been taken by surprise that some people were uncomfortable? Were they relieved when it took Fox News two or three days to get pissed off? Or were they shocked that anybody got pissed off at all? So either they were oblivious that anybody could be offended or else they were too spineless to either stand by the show's choices or to attempt to explain the show's reasoning and intellectual strategy. To my mind, an apology-with-explanation would have been justified and educational, rather than just a blanket kowtow. "Here's why we did what we did. Here's why we understand we could have done it better." If the intent wasn't malicious -- and I don't believe the intent was malicious -- own the intent.
I just suspect that "The Amazing Race" is so acclaimed and over-honored that either it's immune to CBS oversight or there's a commonly held assumption that whatever "The Amazing Race" does will be worshipped, even when the show picks at one of the rawest wounds in semi-recent American history.
Anyway... they apologized. And that was the most interesting part of Sunday's episode. And the apology was over with 59 minutes to go.
A few more words after the break...
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<p>Matt of &quot;Survivor: Caramoan&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Matt of "Survivor: Caramoan" 

Credit: CBS

Interview: Matt Bischoff talks 'Survivor: Caramoan'

Latest bootee talks alliances, tribal swaps and his beard
As Wednesday (March 20) night's "Survivor: Caramoan" episode began, Matt Bischoff may not have been in a position of power, but he was in a position of relative comfort. 
Part of the numbers majority on the Fans tribe, but also accepted by Pretty Kids Reynold and Eddie, the Cincinnati-based bearded BMX fan looked ready to weather any voting storm.
Then a tribal shuffle left Matt and his alliance-mate Michael on an absurdly weak new tribe composed of oddballs and misfits, forced to wage war against an apparently random assemblage of every challenge powerhouse in the game this season.
After an inevitable defeat, the new Gota tribe seemed prepared to vote out weak-link Julia, until they decided to consider the threat posed by a Matt-Michael voting block. That suddenly made Matt a target, because all of the Favorites were convinced he wasn't lying when he said he didn't have an Immunity Idol.
And that's how Matt, a likable and reasonably strong player seemingly playing an admirably balanced game, came to be this week's exit interview.
In the conversation, we talked about the ill-fated tribe-swap, his ability to make alliances with everybody and, of course, his beard. Click through for the full Q&A.
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<p>Janelle Arthur of &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Janelle Arthur of "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Top 9: Results

Who will follow Curtis out the 'Idol' door? Or is another surprise in store?

Welcome to "American Idol" Thursday, also known as "That thing you can watch the last five minutes of after surfing through the four NCAA Tournament Games currently on TV."

After Wednesday night's show, I'm curious who America will have rejected, but I'm also curious about what's happening in the NCAA Tournament games, so click through and witness the glories of my split attention span!

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<p>Fans vs. Favorites no more</p>

Fans vs. Favorites no more

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' - 'Operation Thunder Dome'

A shift changes the course of the game, but Phillip is still annoying
Pre-credit sequence. The Favorites return and it's daytime and they're united in their relief at having jettisoned Brandon. However, there's some question of whether Brandon's departure might have buoyed the Fans. "I don't see how anybody could respect one ounce of what he did," Phillip maintains. Andrea and Phillip still worry that he did damage to their images. "Correct me if I'm wrong. I don't think I ever had any cross words with him," Phillip maintains. Nobody corrects him, nor does anybody agree. Corinne hopes Brandon never gets to play again, because he's a quitter and a crazy person. As she puts it, he's "up there with Mel Gibson and any other crazy person." "It's comforting to know that Brandon was successfully able to fly out of the cuckoo's nest and now we're just left with Phillip," Cochran says. Phillip is ready to return to action and Corinne is his next target.
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<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Top 9</p>

The "American Idol" Top 9

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Top 9: Lennon & McCartney Night

The singers try their voices on some Beatles favorites

Curtis Finch Jr. is gone. I'm not hugely shocked. Most veteran "American Idol" observers aren't hugely shocked. But I'm guessing we're going to start Wednesday (March 20) night's episode being hugely shocked.

Then we're gonna sing Lennon & McCartney songs. Jimmy Iovine says it's a theme that requires no gimmicks.


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'Game of Thrones' mastermind George R.R. Martin talks Blackwater, TV changes and playing favorites

'Game of Thrones' mastermind George R.R. Martin talks Blackwater, TV changes and playing favorites

'Song of Ice and Fire' scribe discusses his annual HBO episode
On Monday's (March 18) "Game of Thrones" premiere red carpet in Hollywood, I had short conversations with many of the show's stars.
You've already seen my interviews with Rose Leslie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, which only ran around two minutes apiece.
Somehow, I ended up getting a meatier seven minutes with franchise author George R.R. Martin, which was good because the "Song of Ice and Fire" scribe was in a thoughtful mood, starting right off the top with a simple-silly question asking him to play favorites with the books in his series. 
In this conversation, Martin discusses the changing nature of TV from the more procedural-driven format he had to work in back in the '80s to its more serialized permutations now. He also talks about the pleasure of writing last season's "Blackwater" episode and seeing that epic battle brought to the screen. He also talks about what drew him to the episode he wrote in Season 3. 
It's a good chat.
"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday, March 31.
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<p>Dave and Connor of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Dave and Connor of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Dave & Connor talk 'The Amazing Race'

How soon will the cancer survivors be ready to race again?
Dave and Connor O'Leary's "Amazing Race" journey reached a painful end when Dave tore his Achilles heading for the mat at the end of the season's second Leg. But then a funny thing happened.
First, the father-son pairing capitalized on an early alliance to receive an Express Pass from John & Jessica and used that advantage to win the third Leg. 
Then the cancer survivors used an advantageous flight and a couple strong task performances to reach another Pit Stop in first. 
On Sunday's (March 17) episode, though, Dave & Connor's run came to an end. With doctors telling Dave he needed surgery within the week, they elected to fly from Bali to Hanoi before bowing out gracefully.
In this week's "Amazing Race" exit interview, Dave & Connor discuss the medical odyssey, their brief triumphs over adversity and how soon they'll be ready for another shot at the million.
Click through...
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'Game of Thrones' star Rose Leslie explains the art of 'You know nothing'

'Game of Thrones' star Rose Leslie explains the art of 'You know nothing'

'Downton Abbey' star also speculates on the fate of Gwen
"Winter is coming" aside, HBO's "Game of Thrones" hasn't become a catchphrase machine, but if the TV series follows the path of the books, that may be about to change, thanks to spunky wildling Ygritte.
The character's condescending-yet-affectionate "You know nothing, Jon Snow" is one of the most frequent utterances in George R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords," but it's only begun to be heard on the HBO series. 
On the red carpet at Monday (March 18) night's "Game of Thrones" season premiere event in Hollywood, I caught up with Rose Leslie, TV's Ygritte, to talk about the fine art of "You know nothing." Leslie also discusses her newly discovered gift for archery and speculates on what her long-absent "Downton Abbey" character has been up to.
You can also check out my premiere red carpet interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. More interviews from the red carpet still to come!
"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday, March 31.
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'Game of Thrones' star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau discusses the Jaime-Brienne bond

'Game of Thrones' star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau discusses the Jaime-Brienne bond

How did Jaime's incarceration last season impact the actor's performance?
HOLLYWOOD - On Monday (March 18) night in Hollywood, HBO threw a gala premiere for the third season of "Game of Thrones," rounding up the largest assemblage of cast members for any event that I can remember.
There were dozens of "Game of Thrones" stars ranging from all manner of Starks and Lannisters to a dragon-free Emilia Clarke, somehow whisked in from Broadway for the a quick turnaround, to the very nice young man who plays Hot Pie.
At HitFix's corner of the long and winding red carpet, many of the stars missed us or had to rush in for the start of the screening of the March 31 season-opener, but I think we got some fine interviews that will be going up over next few days.
Highlight conversations include Rose Leslie discussing the nuanced art of telling somebody they know nothing, George R.R. Martin talking about why it's hard to pick his favorite book and John Bradley explaining why he doesn't want to read ahead to find out how Samwell evolves.
We'll start the "Game of Thrones" interview rotation with this quick chat with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who discusses about Jaime Lannister's developing relationship with Gwendoline Christie's Brienne of Tarth, as well as what he learned from playing last season's incarcerated version of Jaime.
Check out the interview above [Rose Leslie will be the next to post... Tomorrow morning, I suspect]...
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 173

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 173

Dan and Alan talk 'Bates Motel,' 'Veronica Mars,' 'Top of the Lake' and more


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls
Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
We went a little short last week, due to a total absence of new programming to review. But this week? Lots of new stuff. We've got reviews of "Top of the Lake" and "Bates Motel," which both premiere tonight. We also review HBO's upcoming Phil Spector movie.
We talk for a while about the "Veronica Mars" Kickstarter triumph.
And we also discussed the finale of HBO's "Girls."
Next week? Lots more new stuff!
Here's the breakdown:
"Top of the Lake" (00:00:50 - 00:13:40)
"Bates Motel" (00:13:40 - 00:27:20)
"Phil Spector" (00:27:20 - 00:39:50)
"Veronica Mars" Kickstarter (00:39:50 - 01:04:20)

"Girls" finale (01:04:55 - 01:24:00) 

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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