<p>&nbsp;Vanessa faces her mortality, while Ralph faces Vanessa's cleavage on &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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 Vanessa faces her mortality, while Ralph faces Vanessa's cleavage on "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'I Need Hair To Be Pretty'

Mark & Bopper faces a deficit, but would vanity help them catch up?
All hair vanity and strategic stupidity!
[Yes, that intro started off as a typo and became a pun and I'm sticking to it.]
Without vanity and strategic stupidity, Sunday (April 29) night's episode of "The Amazing Race" would have been possibly the least competitive in "Amazing Race" history. 
And even with vanity and strategic stupidity, the illusion that Sunday's Leg was competitive was generated largely by editing, so it wasn't an especially good episode.
But at least the episode featured lots of blood. I wouldn't necessarily think that'd be enough to redeem yet another dismal Leg for most viewers, but on the off chance that "Amazing Race" is huge in the hematolagnia fetish community... Winner!
Full recap after the break...
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<p>Amrita Acharia of &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;</p>
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Amrita Acharia of "Game of Thrones"

Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

HitFix Interview: Amrita Acharia talks 'Game of Thrones'

Daenerys' handmaiden Irri talks Dothraki, off-screen romance and more
Amrita Acharia's Twitter profile describes her as a "Ukrainian-Nepalese actress with a dash of Norwegian-ness sprinkled on top," while her IMDB profile boasts of her aptitude with a slew of languages.
Of course, TV audiences know Acharia primarily for a fictional nationality and for her proficiency in a language that never existed.
On HBO's "Game of Thrones," Acharia plays Irri, Dothraki handmaiden to Emilia Clarke's Daenerys Targaryen. Irri has generally been paired with Roxanne McKee's Doreah. While Doreah has been largely entrusted with coaching Dany on carnal arts, Irri has taught Dany about Dothraki culture and the Dothraki language.
In scenes that we weren't privy to, Irri also was apparently carrying on a love affair with a Dothraki bloodrider named Rakharo, which left her mighty unhappy a couple weeks back when Rakharo's horse returned from a scouting mission with his head, but without the rest of his body.
As Acharia's Twitter followers know, she was in Los Angeles last week and I sat down with the young actress to discuss her language skills, her appreciation of the Dothraki mentality and her early dreams of being a vampire.
Click through for the full interview [No real spoilers, unless you're way behind and even then, nothing really.]...

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<p>Troy of &quot;Survivor: One World&quot;</p>
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Troy of "Survivor: One World"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Troy Robertson talks 'Survivor: One World'

Will Troyzan give credit to the women who voted him out?
At least Troy Robertson didn't exit "Survivor: One World" without a fight.
This week, the man they called "Troyzan" was finally taken out by the female cabal led by Kim & Chelsea, but only after he survived one Tribal Council with a Hidden Immunity Idol (leading to Jay's departure) and captured a must-in Immunity Challenge the following episode (leading to Leif's dismissal).
And before being sent on his way on Wednesday's (April 25) episode, Troy made one last desperate plea to upset the Tikiano apple cart, working aggressively to stoke insecurity with Alicia, Kat and Christina, the three weak links in the dominant alliance. 
It didn't work.
In our exit interview, I worked hard to try to get Troy to give Kim & Chelsea a little credit for running the game (we got there eventually) and to discuss several of the key decisions that left him with insufficient numbers after the Merge. We also discussed why he'd return to play the game for free.
Click through for the full interview...
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<p>Skylar Laine of &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>
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Skylar Laine of "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Top 6 Results - Down to 5, plus Katy Perry

Stefano Langone also drops by to remind people he's alive

Much excitement in FOX-dom already this afternoon with the announcement that "Fringe" has been renewed for a fifth and final season.

But now it's time to take a deep breath and move on to "American Idol," which will feature another elimination, as well as performances by Katy Perry and Stefano Langone.

Whee! Click through for all the excitement.

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<p>Kim of &quot;Survivor: One World&quot;</p>
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Kim of "Survivor: One World"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: One World' - 'Never Say Die'

Troyzan battles, Kat pouts and every goes after a pig
Pre-credit sequence. The Tribe returns. "Now we're in a hopeless situation unless the boys win Immunity," says Muscular Mark Twain, who's prepared to go with the women, rather than being seen to be on Troyzan's side. Kim's a bit surprised that her name has been discussed in a leadership role, sooner than she might have hoped. Troyzan, for his part, feels alone and he repeats, once again, that it's one man against all of the women (and Muscular Mark Twain) and he has to keep winning Immunity. Isn't that exactly where we left the pre-credit sequence last week?
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<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Top 6</p>
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The "American Idol" Top 6

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Top 6 Performances - The Music of Queen

The 'Idol' singers tackle Queen and songs of their choosing

It isn't easy to sing the music of Queen. It's not enough to be a talented singer. Remember when the mentors from "The Voice" did that awful Queen medley last season? Exactly. All four of them could sing, but being able to sing isn't the same as being able to sing a song specifically tailored for the voice of Freddie Mercury.

I'd say that all six of our remaining "American Idol" contestants can sing. But none of them have a Freddie Mercury-style voice. In fact, the guy who seemed most likely to be able to sing a Queen song, albeit with Coldplay-style affectations, was Colton Dixon and America sent him home last Thursday.

Sorry about that, Colton. But what you did to "September" wasn't kind. 

Anyway, Wednesday's (April 25) "Idol" will feature one Queen song apiece, plus one seemingly random selection from the bottomless "Idol" catalogue. 

Let's see how things go...

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<p>Jewel Staite of &quot;L.A. Complex&quot;</p>
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Jewel Staite of "L.A. Complex"

Credit: The CW

HitFix Interview: Jewel Staite talks 'L.A. Complex'

'Firefly' vet explains why her new character is ruthless, not evil
In the new Canadian-transplanted CW drama "L.A. Complex," Jewel Staite plays actress Raquel Westbrook.
A decade earlier, Raquel was the star of "Teenage Wasteland," a cult drama that she has to keep telling adoring fans "had a bad time slot." Now, she's living in an apartment complex populated by fresh-faced Hollywood wannabes doing anything in her power to prove that her best days aren't behind her.
It was only nearly a decade ago that Staite was the star of a cult drama that "had a bad time slot" and that still has fans eagerly approaching her to express their support. 
In real life, "Teenage Wasteland" is no "Firefly" and Raquel Westbrook is no Jewel Staite, whose pre-Whedon resume included shows like "Higher Ground" and "Da Vinci's Inquest" and who has been seen guest-starring on FOX's "Wonderfalls," as a regular on "Stargate: Atlantis" and in the recent Sundance Midnight Movie, "The Pact." Yes, Staite is Kaylee Frye, but she's many other characters as well.
Perhaps that's why Raquel is scheming, manipulative and occasionally desperate, while Staite is entirely grounded, good-humored and comfortable with her professional life. Staite's also a really good interview. I'd be scared to interview Raquel.
I chatted with Staite last week about "L.A. Complex," playing an "aging" actress and about why Raquel absolutely, positively isn't evil.
Click through for the full interview...
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 125

Dan and Alan talk 'L.A. Complex,' reality TV, 'Game of Thrones,' 'Girls' and more


Happy Monday, Boys and Girls!
In this week's installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, we've got a correction, a review of The CW's "L.A. Complex," Dan's Reality Roundup, discussion of "Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones" and a pile of Listener Mail, including two questions about "Girls" and the controversy therein. 
That seems probably like enough for a full podcast, eh?
Here's Monday's podcast breakdown:
NFL on FOX (00:00:50 - 00:04:20)
"L.A. Complex" (00:04:15 - 00:13:05)
Dan's Reality Roundup (00:13:00 - 00:26:20)
Listener Mail - Two "Girls" Queries (00:26:35 - 00:39:10)
Listener Mail - Twitter Etiquette (00:39:20 - 00:43:15)
Listener Mail - "Arrested Development" on Netflix (00:43:20 - 00:50:10)
"Game of Thrones" (00:50:20 - 00:59:55)
Sunday's "Mad Men" (01:00:00 - 01:15:20)

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>Dave teaches Rachel to drive by yelling at her on &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Dave teaches Rachel to drive by yelling at her on "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Bollywood Travolta'

On Sunday's episode, we learned Men and Women are different
It was an amusing coincidence that Sunday's "Amazing Race" aired on the same night as a Battle of the Sexes episode of "Mythbusters."
The "Amazing Race" episode, titled "Bollywood Travolta," spent 40 minutes on very vocally establishing a slew of gender-based stereotypes (and at least one oft-repeated cultural stereotype). Then, in the last 20 minutes, several of those stereotypes were seemingly debunked, but only somewhat. 
That left me with really mixed emotions at the end of the episode. I'd prepared myself for a rant-filled recap focusing on said stereotypes and then I was left conflicted on at least some of what was put on display. 
Also... Well... You know how the episode ended.
So let's talk about Sunday's India-set episode and gender stereotypes, after the break...
GENDER STEREOTYPE: Women can dance. Men cannot dance. 
ILLUSTRATION: This week's Roadblock asked one player from each team to learn a Bollywood dance number and perform it for a demanding choreographer. Three teams had female contestants available to participate in the Roadblock and, in all three cases (Vanessa, Rachel and Rachel), they did. Art & JJ and Mark & Bopper, however, were stuck. JJ did the challenge because Art previously did the bottle-dancing. Mark did the challenge because Bopper's knee prevented him from that kind of activity.
POINT: Tiny Blonde Rachel was a dancer all through school. She arrived at the Roadblock, studied diligently and completed the routine her first time through. Vanessa and "Big Brother" Rachel had a little more trouble, but even at their worst, they looked semi-competent. The men, however, flailed, particularly Mark, who suffered from his ongoing motion sickness and then struggled to breathe in the thick Cochin air. As Art put it, "Dudes can't dance like chicks." As Brendon put it, "This is a great day to have a female partner on your team." 
COUNTERPOINT: None, really. Then again it took JJ the same number of attempts as it took "Big Brother." We'll leave aside that JJ got an insanely generous bit of judging on his fourth attempt, which didn't appear to be even close to synchronized or properly executed. Mark didn't get that generous of a judging until his 12th attempt, by which time Bopper had begged him to quit, he had decided to quit and then Bopper had begged him not to quit.
"AMAZING RACE" VERDICT: Women can, in fact, dance. Men cannot, in fact, dance. [I am a man. I cannot dance. I feel guilty, but I would have confirmed the heck out of this stereotype.]
GENDER STEREOTYPE: Women are emotional. This is bad.
ILLUSTRATION: No specific illustration required. Brendon, a PhD student, just explained it as an article of faith: "It's good to have a girl on your team because they can do things like this, but it's bad, because they get emotional."
POINT: "Big Brother" Rachel finished her second or third dancing failure and jumped off the stage in Rachel-esque misery, face red and blubbering. On the Rachel-Tantrum-O-Meter, this barely registered a "2." But again, if PhD Student Brendon says it, it's got to be true.
COUNTERPOINT: The last 15 minutes of the episode were spent largely on Bopper crying for the pain he was putting Mark through in making him dance.  And crying about how he wants a million dollars, but he wants his friend more. Then Bopper and Mark both cried about the importance of proving to their children that they didn't quit. And then they got to Phil at the mat and the cried more about how much they'd proven to themselves and their family. Phil's beautiful co-greeter seemed to be on the verge of crying with them. 
"AMAZING RACE" VERDICT: Women are emotional and this is a bad thing. It causes them to throw temper tantrums. They require their husbands-to-be to coach them through the importance of trying. Blue Collar Dudes from Kentucky are emotional, but this is a good thing. Their emotion is based on adversity that they've overcome and the desire to do right by their families. If a man cries, it's nearly heroic, darnit. 
GENDER STEREOTYPE: Women cannot drive. They can, however, be badgered into something that somewhat resembles driving through shouting from male counterparts.
ILLUSTRATION: The Detour was a choice between Cricket and Clutch It. In Clutch It, teams had to learn to drive Indian rickshaw cabs and navigate around a small course.
POINT: Rachel could not maneuver the cab. She found this funny. Dave did not find it funny. He yelled at her and eventually did the course first, completing it on his second attempt. Rachel got back in the drivers' seat and Dave yelled at her on every turn and she successfully finished the course, allowing them to win their fifth Leg. The lesson, as Dave bellowed it? "Listen to your frickin' husband!" Ralph & Vanessa also did Clutch It and we learned that not only did Vanessa fail Drivers Ed, but she also allegedly hit The Alamo. However, with Ralph yelling at her from the backseat, Vanessa succeeded in driving. 
COUNTERPOINT: None, really. But I'll give Rachel credit for how relentlessly she was teasing Dave along the way. I can't tell if she's started being amused by Dave's belligerent attitude or if she's stopped caring and this is all preparatory for a divorce.
"AMAZING RACE" VERDICT: Men drive well. Women should not drive at all. If Women *must* drive, yelling at them improves performance.
GENDER STEREOTYPE: Men are better at sports than women are.
ILLUSTRATION: In Cricket, teams had to bat against a cricket bowler and successfully whack the ball past a fielder. Art & JJ and Brendon & Rachel opted to do the Cricket Detour. Art & JJ were convinced they could do it faster because there was no way Rachel would ever finish the task.
POINT: JJ and Brendon finished first. They're both totally dudes.
COUNTERPOINT: But Rachel finished THIRD! And she doesn't have a penis! That we know of! "It was a good feeling to know that they both got beat by a girl," Rachel gloated, forgetting that she didn't, in fact, beat JJ. 
"AMAZING RACE" VERDICT: Stereotype Debunked! Or maybe Art just stinks at baseball.
So that's what I learned from this week's episode of "The Amazing Race." I also learned that India is a frantic, loud and smelly country, but "The Amazing Race" teaches us that literally every time they go there. 
Oh, and guess what?
Non-Elimination Leg!
So even though Mark & Bopper finished presumably hours behind the other teams, they'll live to fight another day. This is the second time this season they've fallen hours behind at the end and been rescued by an NEL. Last time they were rescued by a travel equalizer. We'll see if they get as lucky this time. 
On one hand, I got really emotional for Mark & Bopper during this episode and I was absolutely impressed with their never-say-die attitude in a challenge that was tailor-made to mess them up. I get that these two guys probably need the money more than the other teams and they're the only team I'm rooting for without reservations.
On the other hand, Bopper can't run and he can barely walk. He's basically passing all of the Roadblocks along to Mark, which will blow up on them eventually. Also, Mark isn't doing especially well. He's puking any time they drive anywhere and he has some sort of respiratory problem. That respiratory problem may just be "Being out of shape and no spring chicken," but it could be something more serious. So anything strenuous has to be done by Mark and Mark can't really do anything strenuous. So that's not a good combination. 
Some other thoughts from this week's episode:
*** "Bollywood" really doesn't refer to the Indian film industry. It refers to the industry located in and around Bombay/Mumbai. Cochin (or Kochi) is a solid 825 miles from Mumbai. I'll let you decide if you feel like that counts.
*** I loved the sitar-ized versions of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "Charge" that played during the cricket scenes. 
*** I look forward to asking Vanessa about the time she hit The Alamo with her car when their inevitable exit interview comes around. Speaking of Ralph and Vanessa, how were they they only team that was offered that alternative flight through Kenya that was supposed to have gotten into Cochin over an hour earlier? It didn't end up mattering, because their flight got in only seconds ahead of the other flight. But that still would have been a weird turn of events.
*** I like that even Team Kentucky, possibly the nicest and least judgmental guys ever, called Art & JJ babies for their ongoing kerfuffle with Rachel and Dave.
Anyway, what'd you think of Sunday's episode?
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<p>Richard Madden of &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;</p>
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Richard Madden of "Game of Thrones"

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

HitFix Interview: Richard Madden talks 'Game of Thrones'

HBO's King in the North discusses the evolution of the TV Robb Stark
When I chatted with him last week in a Santa Monica conference room, The King in the North was satisfied.
No, Robb Stark hadn't avenged his father's death, nor reunited with his sisters. He hadn't consolidated power in Westeros and taken his place on the Iron Throne.
He'd simply found out that the cookie he thought contained marshmallows, actually contained white chocolate chips. And that was satisfactory. 
In truth, it's very easy to tell Scottish actor Richard Madden apart from his character on HBO's "Game of Thrones." His hair is shorter. His wardrobe goes beyond furs and armor. Oh, and Madden's also prone to laughing and joking, which hasn't been a part of Robb Stark's emotional range lately. Who has time to smile when, as you may have heard, winter is coming.
As "Game of Thrones" moves deeper into its second season, things are getting darker and darker in war-torn Westeros and Robb Stark is moving into uncharted territory. Robb's exploits are largely discussed second-hand in George R.R. Martin's "A Clash of Kings," but to keep Madden in the fold, series showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss chose to depict moments that were only referred to in passing before.
In our conversation -- the cookies only came into play at the end -- Madden discusses Robb's evolution, the honor of having scenes added to keep him around and his season-by-season approach to reading Martin's novels.
[Note: There are some minor spoilers in this interview. They're very minor, but if you want to remain pristine, tread with caution.]
Click through for the full interview...
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