<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: Billboard Music Awards 2015 dominate Sunday for ABC

Ugly numbers for 'American Odyssey,' 'A.D.' and 'Battle Creek'

Fast National ratings for Sunday, May 17, 2015.

ABC's coverage of the Billboard Music Awards dominated Sunday night in all measures, crushing an impressive amount of original competition on the other networks.

With the Billboard Music Awards, "Game of Thrones" and the series finale for AMC's "Mad Men," it isn't surprising that late evening dramas "Battle Creek," "A.D. the Bible Continues" and particularly "American Odyssey" hit rather impressive lows.

Let's get straight to the numbers...

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<p>Peggy and Joan of &quot;Mad Men&quot;</p>

Peggy and Joan of "Mad Men"

Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' series finale offers happyish endings from 'Person to Person'

Matthew Weiner's Emmy winning classic leaves us with plant to chew on

History repeats itself, first as a bad Disney inspirational underdog sports movie and then as the series finale for one of the greatest TV dramas ever made.

In 2014's "Million Dollar Arm," Jon Hamm plays a soulless sports agent who has lost his way and become a dead-eyed automaton, joylessly banging interchangeable bimbettes, but losing the true joy he once had. Only through importing two Indian baseball players and adopting a few key pieces of their approach to life is Hamm's character able to get his groove back, rediscover enlightenment. Thanks, Disney!

In Sunday (May 17) night's "Mad Men" finale, Donald Draper also had lost himself. But through appropriating a different kind of Indian culture, he's able to find enlightenment or cynically rediscover his mojo. No, the transcendental meditation that helps Don Draper realign after a nightmarish few weeks wandering in the desert, isn't really Indian culture, but if we're being completely honest the plot of "Million Dollar Arm" isn't actually all that inspirational either. A sports agent stages a reality show to find two Indian youngsters who are ultimately incapable of being major league pitchers, but they get to have a little fun and the agent gets to get his groove back, so everybody kinda wins.

I understand that this is probably a glib or cynical way of looking at the finale for a TV show that I've loved more than anything since "The Wire" went off the air and possibly, as I give it more thought, more than anything other than "The Wire" in the medium's history. But the primary reading that most people are getting from the "Mad Men" finale is one of cynicism, which isn't at all out of keeping with the show. [I also know that Esalen was kinda a pupu platter platter of philosophical approaches, but I wanted to make the "Million Dollar Arm" reference, so I Indianized it. Apologies.]

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<p>Dan Foley of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Dan Foley of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Dan Foley talks 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

Dan tries to give context to kerfuffles with Sierra, Shirin and Rodney

To say that Dan Foley has been one of the polarizing players in this "Survivor" season would probably be a misnomer, because the "positive" side of the pole hasn't been over-represented as far as fans are concerned.

From condescending chatter about how to talk to and apologize to women, to bullying behavior towards Sierra, to the particularly odd Tribal Council moment in which Dan compared being adopted to being a victim of abuse, the editors have had fun creating an unappealing carousel of moments with Dan, but also Rodney and Will.

Dan hasn't done so well with the men either, launching a feud with former ally Mike over a misunderstanding, and seemingly randomly calling Rodney's mother a whore.

Several months after an ouster in which Dan's two-vote Tribal Council advantage was negated by a surprising Idol play by Carolyn, Dan's got explanations or context for a lot of the things that made him look bad on "Survivor: Worlds Apart." Dan is capable of talking a blue streak and some of the Maine resident's justifications and whatnot seem reasonable.

And, to his credit, he doesn't claim that if he'd made it through this vote he was going to sweep through to the end to win the million, but he's given it some thought, just like he's given thought to why the editors have given him such a one-sided depiction this season. Dan is forthright and earnest, but not eager to play the hindsight 20/20 game that is a normal pastime for "Survivor" veterans.

[An apology: I did this interview on an upfronts morning with a 4:30 schedule announcement. I fully meant to ask about the abuse/adoption Tribal Council, but things were just slipping through my mind left and right. Sorry.]

We talked about regrets and how he'd play if he got a second chance. Hint: He and Popeye share a philosophy.

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>Friday&#39;s &quot;Grimm&quot; finale</p>

Friday's "Grimm" finale

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Grimm' finale rises, 'Amazing Race' finale flat, ABC wins Friday

CBS' 'Superstar Duets' special doesn't sing, ratings-wise

Fast National ratings for Friday, May 15, 2016.

"Shark Tank" has reliably been able to help ABC win Friday nights this season among young viewers, but with CBS' two dramas off this week in favor of a low-rated "AMC Presents: Superstar Duets" special, ABC also won Friday overall.

The only regular part of CBS' Friday lineup to air this week was "The Amazing Race" and even the season finale for the long-running favorite failed to give  it a bump.

With reduced competition, "Beyond the Tank" was able to retain all of its lead-in in the key demo and also win its hour overall.

[NOTE: This is the last Friday of the 2014-15 season. I'll return to regular Friday Fast National reporting come September. Sunday-Thursday reporting will remain unchanged.]

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>&quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

"The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Finale - 'Monster Truck Heroes' - The Winners Are...

The teams head to Dallas and all of those Selfies finally pay off

Man, I feel sorry for Phil Keoghan. 

All he wanted to do was help two nice people find love and CBS forced him to conduct an "Amazing Race" season around it and then nobody found love and he's stuck giving away a million bucks to two people who probably will never speak again.

I kid. Phil Keoghan loves "The Amazing Race" and I have no doubt that given a choice between traveling around the world twice per year as "Race" host and hosting a dating show, he'd never host the dating show in a million years.

But either he really, really, really wanted to validate the premise of this "Amazing Race" Blind-Dating season or some of the producers really, really, really wanted him to validate the premise of this "Amazing Race" Blind-Dating season.

That mean that in Friday (May 15) night's "Amazing Race" finale, Phil was stuck saying things like, "Any regrets for coming on the Race and not finding love?"

Part of me wanted somebody to say, "Yes" so that Phil could rip off his Chris Harrison mask and yell, "HOW DARE YOU?!?" 

But nobody did.

So it was just Phil lamenting into the void things like, "I know you wanted to win the million dollars, but you were also looking for love."

Nobody felt regret. 

"Amazing Race" tried to do something that "Amazing Race" wasn't equipped to do this season and the experiment was an utter failure, but it speaks to the resiliency of the format that it didn't destroy the season entirely. I don't think this was a great season of "The Amazing Race," but whatever problems I had with the season were entirely about weakly integrated product placement, redundant challenges and problematic Race architecture that left too many Legs stagnant and unchanged from start to finish. Other than the occasional awkwardness of Phil trying to play yenta, the dating twist was hardly a distraction at all. Those Date Rewards? I don't think they were even mentioned half of the time. And the blind-dating contestants themselves never volunteered information on whether they were experiencing stirrings in their hearts or loins, because nearly all of them knew immediately that "The Amazing Race" is a pretty dumb way to find love, nearly as dumb as doing your speed dating on a bus unable to drive below 50 mph. 

[The end of the episode suggested in the vaguely possible terms that Jeff and Jackie are in some sort of cahoots, be it emotional or physical nobody wanted to prod too hard. If they get married, hopefully they'll ask Phil to officiate, because he seemed really disappointed not to be doing that and even Matt & Ashley asking him to do their wedding didn't seem to make Phil happy.]

So maybe nobody really found love this season.

But at least two people won a million bucks, right?

So how did that go down?

Recap of the finale after the break...

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<p>&quot;Blindspot&quot;</p>

"Blindspot"

Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 283 - Upfronts 2015

Dan and Alan go through all of the TV news from Upfronts Week 2015

The

Happy Friday, Boys & Girls!

It's time for an All-Upfronts Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

Our first podcast this week was a Skype nightmare, but this was much smoother other than both of us being a bit under the weather at the end of a long week of programming insanity. 

Still, we spent a long time talking about this week's various bits and pieces of upfronts-related TV news, talking about the new schedules and new programming on, in order, NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS and The CW.

Next week we'll do our "Mad Men" Finale podcast and we'll also probably do a finale roundup podcast talking at a handful of other network finales that we happen to have watched. 

That makes today's breakdown pretty simple:
Upfronts 2015 (00:00:00 - 01:24:50)

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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 

 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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'Amazing Race' Finale Exclusive: Soaring through Cowboy Stadium for a million bucks

'Amazing Race' Finale Exclusive: Soaring through Cowboy Stadium for a million bucks

Four teams are heading to Dallas for tonight's 'Amazing Race' finale

Season 26 of "The Amazing Race" wraps up on Friday (May 15) night with an episode that takes the four remaining teams from Peru to Dallas for that climactic rush to Phil Keoghan at the mat.

Yes, for the second straight season, it's a Top 4 in the "Amazing Race" finale, as Mike & Rochelle were saved from elimination at the end of last week's episode, but they've been told that one team will be sent home during this closing Leg.

This season's twist has been the introduction of a quintet of pairs featuring strangers on a hypothetical blind date around the world. 

Has that twist worked? Well, it depends on how you look at things.

Of the four remaining teams, only Mike & Rochelle were dating previously and they've been quantifiably the weakest of the last quartet. They're going up against Laura & Tyler, Jelani & Jenny and Hayley & Blair, all "blind-dating" couples, though there have been no demonstrable indications of romance from any of those pairs.

So do we think that the 75 percent Top 4 representation of blind daters is a validation of the idea that strangers can concentrate only on The Race and not on established dynamics and that that's a good way of racing? Or is it a validation of the idea that all three groups of blind daters are composed of young, in-shape competitors with solid intellectual backgrounds, including two layers and a doctor-nurse duo?

We'll see who comes out on top in tonight's "Amazing Race" finale in a few hours, but first, check out this exclusive clip from tonight's episode featuring what appears to be a genuinely nutty Roadblock hoisting competitors to the top of Dallas Cowboys stadium (AT&T Stadium, if you happen to prefer branding). It looks both nauseating and kinda awesome.

Watch the clip above. And check back later for HitFix's recap of the finale.

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<p>&quot;The Mindy Project&quot;</p>

"The Mindy Project"

Credit: FOX

Hulu rescues 'The Mindy Project' for Season 4

Deal is for 26 more episodes, plus the possibility of additional seasons

Cancelled by FOX over a week ago, "The Mindy Project" has been scooped up by Hulu for Season 4.

While initial reports had Universal TV and Hulu negotiating for a multi-season renewal, the actual deal announced on Friday (May 15) is somewhere in-between. 

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<p>&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot; S6 finale</p>

"The Vampire Diaries" S6 finale

Credit: The CW

TV Ratings: 'Vampire Diaries' among finale risers as ABC, CBS split Thursday

'Wayward Pines' premieres below the fall 'Gracepoint' launch

Fast National ratings for Thursday, May 14, 2015.

A trio of "Big Bang Theory" repeats kept CBS atop the Thursday ratings race overall, while finales for "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" didn't get much of a boost for ABC, but still led the network to victory in the key demo. 

The "Scandal" finale rose 0.1 in the key demo, the same bump for finales of "The Blacklist," "Elementary" and "Reign."

Trying to carve out a niche against those ABC and NBC finales, FOX's "Wayward Pines" had a premiere that came in below the fall numbers for the launch of "Gracepoint," though a truer test on this one will come with less competition next week. "Wayward Pines" did equal its "Bones" lead-in in the key demo, something "Gracepoint" couldn't say with a much stronger "Bones" lead-in performance.

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>Rachel McAdams of &quot;True Detective&quot; Season 2</p>

Rachel McAdams of "True Detective" Season 2

Credit: HBO

New 'True Detective' Season 2 trailer finally gives us Nic Pizzolatto dialogue

That first trailer for "True Detective" gave us all of the scowling, urban mood poetry and Colin Farrell mustache we could ever want, but it was still somewhat disappointing to try to reimmerse ourselves in Nic Pizzolatto's world without being properly reminded of what sort of circle time was.

Fortunately, the second "True Detective" trailer features dialogue and it's as Pizzolattoish -- Pizzolatto-esque? Pizzolatto-y? -- as you could possibly hope for.

Not only have we been granted more of Vince Vaughn's furrowed brow more of Farrell's mustache and graying temples and more of Taylor Kitsch's cheekbones, which could be used as a handy tool for breaking and entering, but we also get pearls of wisdom like:

"Sometimes your worst self is your best self."

And also:

"My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve."

Interestingly, Rachel McAdams' Ani Bezzerides doesn't get to muse on the nature of the world or self. She actually has the first trailered hints of the Season 2 plot as she gets stabby and sad about a missing girl and general apathy.

Check out the trailer:

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