The Afghanimals discuss energy, Race ethics and more
This week's string of "Amazing Race" exit interviews begins with my chat with the freshly completed run's most polarizing team, Leo & Jamal.
The self-described Afghanimals were the season's most reliably energetic and enthusiastic team and they made the season's most consistent alliance, working alongside Ice Queens Ally & Ashley from the very first Leg.
Of course, while some fans loved that Afghanimal energy, certain rival teams criticized Leo & Jamal for excessive gamesmanship and occasional white lies. Travis & Nicole took particular exception to Leo & Jamal's ethics and it's obvious that months after filming wrapped, the Afghanimals are still irked by certain things that Nicole in particular did in those last few Legs.
It's also obvious that Leo is frustrated by the way their "Amazing Race" run ended, specifically the inverted torso on a robot puzzle in Tokyo, a task he was doing himself while Nicole and Amy teamed up, a task that cost them a place in the final Leg and left them in fourth place.
In their exit interview, Leo & Jamal talk about why they were viewed by other teams as a threat, how they kept their energy up and their version of "Amazing Race" ethics.
Click through for the full Q&A and stay tuned for the three finalists over the next few nights.
Jerry Sandusky and Whitey Bulger docs, Alex Gibney's latest head for Park City
If you looked at last week's Sundance Film Festival documentary slate and thought, "Sure, some of these look like fantastic and powerful documentaries, but are they seriously going to hold a Sundance without Alex Gibney?" we're relieved to tell you that The Hardest Working Man in Documentary Filmmaking will be back for Sundance 2014.
Sundance announced its full list of Documentary Premieres on Monday (December 9) and if you were missing the big names either in front of the camera or behind it from the competition slate, this is where they're lurking.
NFL overrun gives 'The Simpsons' a bump
Fast National ratings for Sunday, December 8, 2013.
After last week's Sunday Night Football dud, NBC got a matchup of playoff-bound teams and rode the Panthers-Saints matchup to easy Sunday wins in all key measures.
FOX got a boost from its own NFL overrun and took second for the night among young viewers, while "60 Minutes" and the "Amazing Race" finale helped CBS claim second overall. [Note that CBS had a slew of football delays and started 27 minutes late in a number of markets, though the network's placement is unlikely to change.]
ABC saw "Once Upon a Time" rise over last week's airing, while "Revenge" was steady in its return after several weeks away. "Betrayal," however, sunk.
On to the numbers...
Should dropping flour from a plane be worth a million bucks?
It's odd that an "Amazing Race" season that began with some people, myself included, suggesting this could be the most blandly likable assortment of contestants in Race history ended with a two-hour finale that left me, and a few other people if Twitter is any barometer, searching desperately for anybody to root for.
It was a deserving Final 4, but it was also a Final 4 that people seemed to approach in the conditional tense.
"I could like Jason & Amy *if* Jason were a bit more memorable and a bit less macho."
"I could like Travis & Nicole *if* Travis weren't so sanctimonious and condescending when Nicole struggles."
"I could like Tim & Marie *if* Marie were somebody else."
"I often like teams like Leo & Jamal and I think I could like them *if* they were completely different."
I've seen desires for a Tim & Amy super-team pop up in comment sections and on Twitter and I think I would agree that that would be a more appealing matchup, but even before Sunday's (December 8) finale made it explicit, I already had a hunch that without Marie, Tim's chances of having any interest in doing "The Amazing Race" would be nil. Without Marie, there is no Tim on this show and it's possible that a goodly portion of what we all liked about Tim was his attitude in the face of Marie anyway.
I'm not sure that I've ever gone into an "Amazing Race" finale with so little rooting interest, so in lieu of wanting any one team to win, I quickly found myself just wanting the team that won to be deserving, to perform in such a way that I could go, "OK. I can buy that after 12 Legs, this was the pair that earned the million bucks.
Full recap after the break...
Latest bootee discusses the Brad Culpepper blindside and more
As the "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" season started, most viewers eyed Caleb Bankston suspiciously and thought, "What kind of man could be engaged to Colton Cumbie?"
But rather than emulating his verbally glib, camera attentive significant other, Caleb proved to be an amiable background performer. Unlike Colton, Caleb never said anything controversial. Unlike Colton, Caleb never complained about the harsh conditions. In fact, how many Caleb talking head segments do you remember from his 30-ish days in the game?
And unlike Colton, Caleb made it past the Merge and even though he was eliminated from the game and became the third member of the Jury, Caleb's run on "Survivor" is almost certain to be remembered mostly for one positive moment of gameplay. It was Caleb who single-handedly brought down Brad Culpepper, the dominant figure in the game's first half, pulling the sort of anti-blindside rarely seen on "Survivor." Sensing Tribal Council unrest and fearing his head might be on the block, Caleb announced that he was flipping on his former alliance-mate and urged others to come along, getting the necessary votes to oust Brad after an initial tie.
It was a good moment.
Caleb had a different vantage point for the season's other big Tribal Council moment when, in his first night on the Jury, he got to witness only the second tie-breaking rock-drawing in "Survivor" history.
In this week's exit interview, Caleb talks about those exciting Tribals and also about the tile-stacking Duel that sent him home. He also discusses why he was never prepared to write Colton's name down in the game and how frequently "Survivor" Colton surfaces in Real-World Colton.
Click through for the full Q&A...
Grammy special is low, but wins its hour for CBS
Fast National ratings for Friday, December 6, 2013.
The combination of a series high in viewers for "Shark Tank," plus a typically weak "Grammy Nominations Concert Live" special on CBS helped ABC win Friday night overall and tie for the lead among young viewers with "Grimm"-boosted NBC.
Also delivering week-to-week growth on Friday were ABC's "Last Man Standing" and "The Neighbors," plus NBC's "Dracula." But perhaps no show is getting more encouraging returns than FOX's "Bones," which had a soft Friday start three weeks ago, but has settled into exactly the sort of steady performer the network hoped for, winning its hour among young viewers.
Finally, The CW's "The Carrie Diaries" and "Nikita" were up a hair from its last airings.
On to the numbers...
More ratings discussion, analysis and a video!
Once upon a time, NBC's Thursday was the envy of all of the networks, a steadily churning assortment of comedy and drama hits. Then, gradually, NBC's Thursday became an embarrassment, an assortment of critical darlings and turkeys united only in what seemed to be a strange quest to fall behind The CW among young viewers.
Frequently this fall, NBC has succeeded in that unintended goal, with "Parks and Recreation" and "Welcome to the Family" often looking up at "The Vampire Diaries" in several key demos.
This Thursday (December 5), however, NBC found a way back to the top of the heap and the network did so without relying on "The Voice" or the Olympics.
The Final National ratings are in for NBC's "The Sound of Music" and they are fairly massive. The Carrie Underwood-fronted musical rose slightly from Fast Nationals with a whopping 18.62 million viewers and stayed steady with a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49.
It's the third January switcheroo in six weeks for FOX
In the third revision of its January schedule in less than six weeks, FOX has fiddled a little with the first season finale of "Sleepy Hollow" and the second season premiere of "The Following."
Try to contain your surprise.
FOX announced on Friday (December 6) afternoon that "Sleepy Hollow" will now have a two-hour finale airing from 8 to 10 p.m. on Monday, January 20. To make that possible, an encore of "Sleepy Hollow" will now air on January 6 after a new "Almost Human."
It's NBC's best non-sports Thursday since several huge finale nights
Fast National ratings for Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Get ready for Kat McPhee in "Cabaret" and and Phillip Phillips in "Sweeney Todd," because NBC has a new hit franchise on its hands.
Thursday night's live broadcast of "The Sound of Music," starring "American Idol" veteran Carrie Underwood," delivered massive numbers for NBC across the board, even crushing CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" (overall, not in the key demo) as it won the night in all age ranges.
[At the request of Alan Sepinwall, this ratings story will include no puns, so don't look for any jokes based on this being "'Music' to NBC's ears," "Solving a problem like NBC" or "A few of viewers' favorite things" or "'Music' offers a ray of golden sun."]
This was NBC's best non-sports Thursday in total viewers since May 13, 2004 (the night of the "Frasier" finale) and NBC's best non-sports Thursday among adults 18-49 since 2009 (the night of the "ER" finale).
Among the shows that took the brunt of the "Sound of Music" juggernaut were "X Factor," "Glee," "Big Bang Theory," "Grey's Anatomy," "Elementary" and "The Vampire Diaries," which all lost either overall audience, young viewers or both.
Oddly, "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" was up slightly in young viewers, but that may be related to ABC having the NFL preemption in Houston.
On to the actual numbers...
'Orange,' 'Orphan,' 'Cards' and 'Candelabra' will be hoping for nods
As anybody attempting to cull a Top 10 list knows, this has been a rather spectacular year for scripted TV, both in terms of the upper echelon -- "Breaking Bad" delivered one of the best send-off seasons ever -- but also in terms of depth, as I could substitute a Top 10 list of *new* shows for my overall Top 10 and still be very happy.
That means that next Thursday (December 12) morning's Golden Globes nomination announcement will be especially unpredictable, given the Hollywood Foreign Press' penchant for shiny and new things.
Many of the big questions surround Netflix, which scored fairly big at the Emmys with "House of Cards" and now will look to make "Orange Is The New Black" into a player. But will the HFPA warm to the darkly funny, but deeply humanistic prison show? And will they warm to it as a drama? We'll see.
After being snubbed by Emmy voters, will this be a breakthrough for Tatiana Maslany and "Orphan Black"?
And who will be this year's Callie Thorne or Piper Perabo, a bizarro nominee that nobody saw coming?
In this gallery, I've broken down the contenders in each TV category under Probable Nominees (basically the sure-things), Strong Contenders (the shows I'd expect to fill out each roster) and Dark Horses (worthy contenders and other oddballs). Unlike my epic Emmy previews, these aren't formal predictions.
Check out the candidates in the gallery below (and note that "30 Rock" and "Broadchurch" are among the random shows not eligible).