<p>The coaches and host of &quot;The Voice&quot; met with reporters on Friday.</p>
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The coaches and host of "The Voice" met with reporters on Friday.

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

More Blind Auditions, bigger teams for Season 2 of 'The Voice'

Christina, Blake, Adam and Cee-Lo met the press on Friday

The four judges for NBC's "The Voice" met with a small group of reporters on Friday (October 28) looking every bit as chummy as they did through the show's first hit season.

"Coaches," whispered Adam Levine loudly. 
"They tell us 'COACHES.'"
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<p>Cochran of &quot;Survivor: South Pacific&quot;</p>
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Cochran of "Survivor: South Pacific"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: South Pacific' - 'Trojan Horse'

In which God loves Coach, Adam Sandler and hot dogs
Pre-credit sequence. We begin with Team Coach, returning to camp after evicting Mikayla. Edna's feeling a big grumbly at seeing her name at every Tribal Council, but she thinks that Brandon's unpredictability might help her in the future. Rick warns Coach that another Brandon Blowup, especially after the Merge, could be damaging. Coach nods sagely, as if he hadn't been carrying a lunatic as his key alliance partner for weeks and references "Of Mice and Men" in suggesting that sometimes, people just have to be put down. He adds, "In this game, it's kill or be killed." Settle in, kids, for a homicidal episode of "Survivor: South Pacific."
Planks, but no planks. We're going straight into this week's Duel, in a somewhat odd and uncomfortable piece of editing. We also don't spend any time with Mikayla and Christine making pronouncements or finding out who got to come to the Duel. It's actually a complicated Duel that starts with players taking planks from a crate. Then they have to make a bridge with the planks. And then they have to solve a puzzle also with the planks. This is certainly the most difficult and challenging Duel of the season. Christine gets out to a big lead, despite Albert's coaching of Mikayala. Christine gets to the final puzzle first, but with only a small advantage. Mikayla thinks she has it, but she made a tiny mistake. Mikayla is stymied by her failure and Christine sneaks in and wins another Duel. Mikayla says this whole experience has taught her how much stronger and better she wants to be and she tosses her buff on the fire, crying. When Jeff suggests that Christine has become a threat, she shoots back, "I've always been a legitimate force." Even Ozzy is impressed with Christine, forcing him into a peculiar new strategy. He suspects that with the Merge looming, if his tribe loses Immunity, they might be better served sending a strong player to Redemption Island so that they can take Christine out and retain numbers. Hmmm.
Ozzy contemplates Survivicide. Before returning to camp, Ozzy is chatting with his Duel partner Cochran and sharing his Redemption theory. "I don't want to go to Redemption, but if it comes down to it, if it's like a Do or Die situation, I would go," Ozzy says. Cochran is taken aback by Ozzy's willingness to sacrifice himself and to pass his Immunity Idol to somebody else on the tribe to hold in the interim. "It might be one of those big moves that I might have to make," Ozzy takes Cochran, who sees Ozzy as "a new man" and is perfectly happy to send somebody to Redemption Island who isn't him.
The Great God/Coach Immunity Idol Cover-Up. Is this the first time this season we've seen Coach doing his water praying? He's having a lengthy conversation with his Father. He -- Coach, not God -- knows his tribe needs a shot in the arm and boosted spirits. He thinks telling the entire tribe about his Immunity Idol is the way to help the tribe recover its... RAINBOW! Wait. Coach's strategy is to have the tribe FIND the Immunity Idol, an Idol that he's going to have to re-hide. Coach and Brandon lead a prayer circle to find the Idol (that Coach already has) and win the next Challenge. Sophie says that Coach's words give her "a little bit of an icky feeling." But in their quest, Sophie and Coach find Tree-Mail that talks about "family" and "twins." They have to begin by painting themselves as warriors, dividing themselves into perfectly matched pairs. They return to camp and announce not only that they have Tree-Mail, but also that they've found the Idol. Brandon is giddy and thinks that God gave them the Idol. "It's definitely an advantage having the Big Guy Upstairs on your tribe," the deluded Brandon says.
Kneel before Coach. Challenge time. Everybody looks hilarious. They had a lot of blue at Team Coach, so they look like they're all Na'avi. Meanwhile, they had a lot of red and yellow at Team Ozzy, so they resemble "Amazing Race" clues. In addition to Immunity, the winning tribe will go to see a sneak peek of... "JACK & JILL." Wow. Yes. The WINNING tribe. And now Jeff Probst is going to whore himself out to an Adam Sandler cross-dressing comedy. See, they're all in made-up pairs and they're twins. And it's about trust and Katie Holmes... Just like in the awful looking Adam Sandler movie. Oy. Given the importance of Ozzy's Redemption Island plan -- and given that no sane human being wants to see "Jack & Jill" (which I'm WELL aware is going to be a huge hit) -- I'm surprised there hasn't been any conversation about throwing a challenge. The challenge involves blindfolded players and a lot of yelling and bumping into things. And yes, I'm laughing at all of the castaways bumping into things, which only proves that I'm the target demo for "Jack & Jill." There's also a lot of pixelation happening and somehow when Probst refers to "a big malfunction" and he's referring to a Team Ozzy  gaffe and not to Sophie's boob. Probst is not a big fan of Cochran's failures, which he keeps announcing. Meanwhile, Coach starts praying right in the middle of the challenge. Team Coach wins and he demands they all stop their celebration to pray. Coach is actively pulling people by the arm to enforce. [Ugh. How did I miss that several members of Team Coach have crosses painted on their face? This is as blatant a misunderstanding of religion as I've ever seen on reality TV. And that's saying something.] Ozzy is PISSED. "Pure frustration and anger," Ozzy says, describing his feelings. He's really unhappy. Cochran feels like he blew the challenge and he doesn't think Ozzy will want to remain true to his word. And now... "Jack & Jill" commercial!
At least it's not "Grown Ups." "What an adventure, guys," Coach says as the castaways arrive at Survivor Cinema. They have hot dogs and pretty much unlimited candy. Pity about the movie. As the castways watch "Jack & Jill" (in a fully lit screening room), they laugh like maniacs. "It was good, but at the same time it had a message," Coach insists. Darnit! If "Jack & Jill" is really such a great movie and it was ready to be seen back this summer, what kind of merciful God would make paying audiences wait until November for it?
Redemption Island is our gift to you. "It was a disaster," Ozzy rages as his team returns to camp. Cochran, head bowed, asks everybody to vent at him. "This was a new level of ostracism and it felt awful," Cochran says. Around the fire, they agree that they have to decide as a group who will be going out next. "It was a huge error and it ended up costing us the win," Ozzy, who doesn't want to blame Cochran, tells Cochran, blaming him. They all put a positive spin on things by telling Cochran that going to Redemption Island will be his chance for redemption. "Everybody was on-board with voting me out and what made it worse was that they had this weird kumbaya rationale for voting me out," Cochran grumps. "I don't want to shine right now. I'm willing to shine later," he adds. 
I am become Death. There's still a lot of time left in this episode. Is it possible the losing tribe is going to have to watch "Little Nicky" on VHS? No. Instead, we're spending more time with Team Ozzy. It was a restless night for Ozzy and an embarrassing night for Cochran. Dawn can't stop talking about Cochran redeeming himself, but Ozzy is wondering if he made an actual vow to Cochran about sending himself to Redemption Island. So Ozzy puts the Idol around his neck and then comes to camp and lets everybody trust it. Wow. Team Coach prayed to Jesus, but Ozzy has become Jesus. But Whitney and Keith aren't impressed with Ozzy's sacrifice. Keith's a fan of personal responsibility and he worries that the Merge won't come the way they think it will. Jim agrees with Keith. What will happen at Tribal Council?
Tribal Council. At Probst's light prodding, Ozzy admits that they returned to camp and pointed their fingers at Cochran. A humbled Cochran admits that he blanked during the challenge. "I'm usually pretty calm, cool and collected," Cochran swears. The conversation then steers over to Redemption Island and the hopes of knocking off Christine. "I'm a little confused," Probst admits, hearing the bare bones of the scheme. Here, Ozzy says that he's putting his life on the line. "You can basically say that I had a dream," Ozzy says, expressing his desire for redemption for his past "Survivor" failings. Ozzy calls his potential move ballsy and big and crazy. Ozzy's plan now also includes an elaborate story about Cochran playing the Idol and booting him, positioning him as a double-agent. "What if we don't Merge tomorrow?" Probst asks, before pointing out that if Ozzy loses the Merge, he'd actually look like an even bigger fool than in his last season. "It's definitely a risky move. Let's see if you have the courage to go through with it," Probst tells them.
The Vote. Cochran votes for Ozzy. That's the vote we see before Probst goes to tally the votes. After a quick fake-out, Ozzy hands Cochran the Idol and announces "Let's do this." The votes: Ozzy. Ozzy. Ozzy. Ozzy. Two of the votes contained frowny faces. With a big smile, Ozzy skips off to Redemption. "You just made one of the biggest moves in the history of this game, based on one big assumption: That the Merge is next," Probst tells them. Ozzy arrives on Redemption Island knowing that he either made an iconic move or an idiotic movie. Christine is confused to see him, but she correctly guesses Ozzy's lie that Cochran was involved.
Bottom Line. Well, you can't say that wasn't amusing. Here's the thing: You can make smart moves in "Survivor" by out-thinking your fellow castaways. They're as hungry and tired and bug-bitten and weary as you are. Trying to out-think the competition won't *always* work, but I think Boston Rob has effectively proven that it'll work around 25 percent of the time. But I don't believe that you can make smart moves in "Survivor" based on out-thinking Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst. That thing they say about what happens when you make assumptions is true and Ozzy has made a couple massive assumptions. Those assumptions include: A) The immediate arrival of a Merge B) A Duel challenge that will reward his particular gifts -- strength, possibly endurance -- and rather than his potential weaknesses. C) That Christine wouldn't have immediately flipped after a Merge anyway, what with only spending three days with her Tribe and then being voted out without explanation. Ozzy's sacrifice makes sense as Grand Theater, but there's absolutely no way to justify it otherwise. As we saw last season, just because Redemption Island looks like it's done doesn't mean it's done, so sending yourself there as a brilliant endgame is only brilliant insofar as it made for the season's most interesting episode. 
Bottom Line, Part II. Coach is ridiculous. Brandon is ridiculous. That entire tribe is ridiculous. Yes, God punished them for their hubris by sending them to see "Jack & Jill," but they thought it was a blessing. Coach thinks he's Moses, but he's really Job. I think there are evangelical Christians who were probably embarrassed to watch Coach and Brandon tonight. And as for Coach using God as a cover for a "Survivor" lie? That's just... predictable.
What'd you think of this week's episode? Where do you stand on Ozzy's Big Move and on Coach's connection to The Big Guy?


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<p>Marie and Liz of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Marie and Liz of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Liz & Marie talk 'The Amazing Race'

Wonder Twin powers activate for the latest 'Race' exit interview
Often, Non-Elimination Legs can offer a welcome reprieve, allowing teams to race through the inevitably easy Speed Bump penalties, catch up to a straggling rival and remain in the game.
That was not the case this week for twins Liz and Marie Canavan. After struggling with wind-blown umbrellas in a Detour only to be spared by host Phil Keoghan and the producers, Liz & Marie struggled through a leg that found them alone for alone for nearly the entire time, often hours behind all of the other teams.
In a circumstance that might have led to panic or frustration for more than a few pairings, Liz & Marie had a surprisingly positive leg. The Twins were jubilant when their Speed Bump required them to clean up after Thai elephants. They were optimistic and refused to beg for money when they found themselves in Bangkok without any currency. And they were properly grateful when they caught a few lucky breaks with generous cabbies. Even though they reached the Pit Stop knowing they'd almost certainly been eliminated, they were upbeat when they arrived at the mat.
In our exit interview, Liz & Marie discussed keeping the proper attitude, even in the face of defeat, their favorite Race moments and why they don't want people to think they're clones.
Click through for the transcript, in which I'm pretty sure I correctly distinguished between Liz and Marie at least 95% of the time...
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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 17 Performances Live-Blog

How did the Top 17 do on the Big Stage and which five singers went home?

Normally for performance episodes of "American Idol," I don't use the live-blog format and the recaps don't go up until after the telecast, but Tuesday (October 25) night's episode of "The X Factor" is attempting to do something that "American Idol" has never tried: We're going to get a whopping 17 performances and the judges are going to send five contestants home and it's all going to be stretched out over a soul-crushing 150+ minutes. 

So I'm gonna live-blog, because just in case this mammoth episode kills me, I want the investigators to know exactly how far I made it before passing out. 

Let the insanity begin...

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 100

Dan and Alan celebrate their 100th episode by doing the same thing they do every week


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
It's the 100th Episode of The Firewall & Iceberg podcast, in which Dan gets married and Alan helps deliver a baby in an elevator with the help of Special Guest Star Abe Vigoda. 
Sigh. That's a lie. 
Sorry. We didn't stunt our 100th episode. Heck, we didn't even schedule it for November sweeps.
Instead, we just did a podcast. And a busy podcast, with reviews of "Chuck," "Grimm," the return of "Beavis & Butt-head," the premiere of "Allen Gregory" and an eclectic assortment of Listener Mail.
So... WOO!!! 100 episodes! SYNDICATION, BABY!
This week's breakdown:
"Beavis & Bull-head" and "Good Vibes" -- 03:20 - 20:40
"Chuck" -- 20:35 - 28:00
"Grimm" -- 28:05 - 35:40
"Allen Gregory" -- 35:45 - 46:46
Listener Mail - "Reed Between the Lines" -- 46:50 - 56:15
Listener Mail - NBC football promotion -- 56:15 - 01:03:30
Listener Mail - Remakes of "Misfits" etc -- 01:03:30 - 01:07:30

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>Ernie and Cindy of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Ernie and Cindy of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'I Feel Like I'm in the Circus'

Baby elephants, confusing bus schedules and dishonest cabbies alter the Race
This entire recap is being written with Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" playing in the background on repeat. Initially I'm finding this accompaniment to be jazzy and cute.
I expect to be thoroughly annoyed by the time I reach my second paragraph and to be slightly insane by the time I get to the page break.
Meanwhile, the only "Baby Elephant Walk" clip I can find from "Hatari!" is dubbed into Italian, which is only making me crazier.
This is all appropriate, because Sunday (October 23) night's episode of "The Amazing Race" was at least partially dominated by baby elephants and it ended up being one of the most confounding legs in recent memory, a mixture of travel confusion, rules confusion, challenge confusion and currency confusion. 
It was one of those episodes that proves how fun "The Amazing Race" can be even without any mystery associated with the results.
More after the break...
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<p>ABC's &quot;Once Upon a Time&quot;</p>
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ABC's "Once Upon a Time"

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'

Fairy tale whimsy makes ABC's new drama interesting, but not instantly compelling
Like many pieces of oral tradition, fairy tales are built heavily upon both structure and repetition. 
Stories begin with "Once upon a time" or "In the beginning." They end with "And they all lived happily ever after" or a moral of some sort. In between, they trade upon familiar character types -- Wicked queens, charming princes, trolls and dwarves, seemingly unbreakable curses and true love everlasting. 
Similar versions of the same fairy tales pop up across dozens of cultures without a clear common source binding them all together.
So really, it's amusingly appropriate that ABC and NBC are both premiering "Fairy Tales in the Modern World" TV dramas in the same week, that both dramas practically force pop culture-aware critics and viewers to compare them to Bill Willingham's comic series "Fables," and yet neither drama has any literal connection to "Fables" at all (or even a non-literal connection, since the "What if fairy tales were real?" hypothetical isn't a copyrightable premise). 
As I'll eventually get around to writing later this week, NBC's "Grimm" is too beholden to its structure, with an excruciatingly dull procedural format sucking all of the magic from its premise. 
ABC's "Once Upon a Time," in contrast, suffers from insufficient structure and from excessive repetition. Having "Once Upon a Time" air on the same network and "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" makes the show's banal romantic platitudes seem less magical than they would in a different context. Once an elementary school teacher believes that an evening making out with a douche-y pilot in a hot tub can be categorized as "a fairy tale," seeing the "real" ("fantastical") thing is an inevitable disappointment. 
In the head-to-head new series battle, "Once Upon a Time" is a clear winner over "Grimm," which is both dismal and doomed to swift failure on Friday nights on NBC. 
My biggest problem with "Once Upon a Time" is that I've seen two episodes and I don't quite know what the week-to-week series is and while that isn't always a problem on a new show, it's a problem on a show where I'm not instantly hooked and instantly prepared to commit to the journey without some reassurances.
More after the break...
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Watch: Nat Faxon and French Stewart discuss FOX's 'Allen Gregory'

Get to know Allen Gregory's two dads
Due to the World Series, the premiere of FOX's new animated comedy "Allen Gregory" is still a week away, with the Jonah Hill creation finally hitting the small screen on Sunday, October 30.
In "Allen Gregory," series co-creator Hill voices the title character, who could be most simply described as the world's most pretentious, over-enabled seven-year-old boy. When Allen, long home schooled, finds himself forced to face the indignities of public schooling, hilarity ensues.
I did a slew of video interviews with many of the "Allen Gregory" voices and I'll be posting them over the next week, starting with my conversation with Nat Faxon and French Stewart, who play the main character's two dads. 
You already know Stewart from "3rd Rock From The Sun" and animated work including "God, the Devil and Bob," while Faxon's FOX credits include the live-action "Happy Hour" and vocal turns on "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show."
Check out the interview. 
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<p>Elyse of &quot;Survivor&quot;</p>
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Elyse of "Survivor"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Elyse Umemoto of 'Survivor: South Pacific'

Latest castoff talks pork, pageants and her Ozzy mistake
Elyse Umemoto came closer to winning Miss America than she did to taking home the million dollar prize on "Survivor: South Pacific."
The former Miss Washington and Miss American second runner-up became the fourth person to head home on this latest "Survivor" season after dropping a shuffleboard Redemption Island Duel to the oddly unstoppable Christine on Wednesday's (Oct. 19) 
Elyse didn't really do anything wrong on "Survivor." She wasn't a physical liability and she situated herself in a strong alliance from the very beginning. Unfortunately, she aligned herself most closely with two-time "Survivor" loser Ozzy Lusth, which could have been an advantage, but became a mistake.
With their tribe unable or unwilling to vote Ozzy out -- he provides fish and coconuts, after all -- a reasonable alternative was to unexpectedly excise his best chum from the game. Farewell, Elyse.
To her credit, Elyse understands what motivated Jim and Cochran and Dawn to orchestrate her elimination. In fact, she probably has the best perspective on the game of any of this season's early bootees, a perspective that seems particularly impressive given that she claims not to be watching this season.
Click through for my full exit interview with Elyse...
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<p>Kelsey Grammer of &quot;Boss&quot;</p>
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Kelsey Grammer of "Boss"

Credit: Starz

TV Review: Starz' 'Boss'

Kelsey Grammer is the hook, but the new Starz drama may have more to offer
Episodes of the new Starz drama "Boss" open with Robert Plant's version of the traditional gospel standard "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down."
In all of its incarnations (I'm partial to the Uncle Tupelo cover), "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" is a pretty simple song and the core lyrics boil down to basically what you see in the title. 
I'm suspecting that it's no coincidence that whenever I hear "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down," my mind immediately goes to Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole," which has a similar message about the allure and power of Beelzebub and the saving capacity of [Christian] faith.
The magnetic power of our baser instincts and the way those baser instincts run through the broader institutions of the American City were central to David Simon's exquisitely woven "Wire" tapestry and they're not far removed from what Farhad Safinia is tackling in "Boss."
In "The Wire," The Devil was in the institutions, the forces the prevented even the best of individual instincts and aspirations from breaking through the complacency of the system. While Simon had pockets of hope -- sometimes wide swathes of hope -- he was ultimately profoundly pessimistic. Good cops. Good teachers. Good union organizers. Good politicians. Good journalists. They all fought to keep The Devil way down in the hole, but Old Scratch kept getting out a wreaking havoc. "The Wire" was about the way an American city functions, but doesn't work.
Having seen two episodes of "Boss," I can't instantly tell you Safinia's world-view. I know he's nowhere near as overtly political as Simon and, in turn, I also suspect he's nowhere near as pessimistic as Simon. The series may be about the fall of a Great Man, but I don't know if Safinia wants us to view Kelsey Grammer's Tom Kane, longtime mayor of Chicago, as the symbolic "Satan" referred to in the opening song. It's entirely plausible that the political system in Chicago, long entrenched and long variably corrupt, is meant as Satan. But through two episodes, I don't know if Safinia is wanting viewers to root for Kane and/or the system to collapse, or if he's showing a landscape in which the evil that men do is capable of leading to a collective good for the community.
I sense that the opening songs are meant to tie "Boss" and "The Wire" together in some sort of collective meditation on the evil inherent in the urban space. Although I don't feel like "Boss" is anywhere near that "Wire" level of discourse -- literally nothing else in the history of the small screen is -- I admire its willingness to dive into the sort of terrain that TV ought to be well-suited to explore, but so rarely does. I can't even say that "Boss" is on the same level as Shawn Ryan's "The Chicago Code," which used the police as a pivot for delving into all aspects of the Windy City, but "Boss" is what's on TV right now and if it lives up to even some of its ample potential, it could become a series of some substance. That's a rare thing and one worthy of investing in.
More after the break...
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