Monday, May 23, 2011

LOST Series Finale: One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I was getting ready for the Series Finale of LOST, settling in for a nice dinner and preparation for three hours of answers and closure, in The End. I'm not going to wax poetic on the meaning or relevance of the show, if you're interested in my thoughts from that time, you can always read (or re-read) my Ode to Lost or my Season Finale Recap.

I was orginally going to post the closing scene from 'The End", but then I thought that a suitable way to commemorate May 23rd would be to instead have my favourite clip from my favourite episode. Regular readers of my recap should already know of my affinity for this moment, but I hope you'll enjoy the closing moments of "The Constant."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Talkin' It Up...On The Barry Gibb Talk Show."

This may actually be my favourite sketch from when Justin Timberlake hosts SNL: The Barry Gibb Talk Show with Jimmy Fallon. Enjoy it before NBC removes it from YouTube.

"Just Bring It On Down To Liquorville!"

Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga following up the hilarious Plasticville sketch from 2010.
Watch it before it gets taken down by NBC.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Survivor Redemption Island: Season Finale Recap

I came in to this season quite skeptical, but after a strong start in the first three episodes, I became optimistic about how this season would go. However, after that drag race of a start, we settled into a marathon of mediocrity with an incredibly sub-par season. I won’t repeat all of the problems I had with this season, primarily the entire Redemption Island Twist, but let’s once again be thankful for Rob and Phillip for providing us with some entertainment for the past 14 weeks.

One quick note in advance of tonight’s Season Finale, and it’s a personal apology to regular reader Choirchick22, for whom I inadvertently spoiled the result of last week’s episode. In posting the link to my recap, I gave the result, which is something that I always try not to do. If you’ve read my previous post on Spoilers (and the eerie similarities to what I did last week), you’ll understand why I feel so bad about that.

On to the Season Finale...
My Random Thoughts:

- Previously on…Survivor. Rob found an Idol, Russell cried, Matt owned Redemption Island, Zapatera had no shot at camp, David is a puzzle master (ok, I added that part to remind you in case you forgot), Phillip is crazy, and Rob is trying to complete a decade-long journey to win this game. 6 minutes of crap we already knew. I hate this part only slightly less than the Fallen Comrades montage.

- Are you kidding me? After a full season of having to watch that god damn spider almost every single week, you lull me into a false sense of security by not showing it for a couple of episodes, and then you bring it back this week to open up the Season Finale??? And with FOUR different camera shots in the first two minutes? Pure evil.

- At Redemption (Non) Island, Grant talks about being ok with getting voted out, and understanding that it’s just a part of the game (how come more people don’t get this?) Andrea talks about having to compete against the three big, beefy men and how she’s the “under-underdog”…and apparently she still has to sleep on the floor, even though the angry hairy guy is gone.
As the four of them learned that their final (Non) Duel was on the horizon, they decided that they would have an Eat’N’Pray Party, which involved them cooking the remainder of the rice, and praying before the competition. I was really put off by this scene, but only because I had to listen to phrases like “Thank you for Redemption Island” and “Who knew what a treasure awaited on Redemption Island?” Give me a break! This scene was nothing but a way to try and tell all of the fans who HATED the Redemption Island twist (which was almost everyone) how awesome it was. What a joke.

- The Final Redemption (Non) Island (Non) Duel was a fantastic challenge where the players had to balance a vase on the end of a beam, and the first one we’ve seen at the Redemption Island Arena that isn’t a callback from a previous season’s challenge. I have to ask, why wasn’t this the Final Immunity challenge within the game itself? I noticed that Matt was the only one using his left leg, which made me wonder if he was left handed, and if so, does being left-handed make you “left-legged”? I’m serious, would that be true? And even if you were, what’s the strategy here, would you choose to have your stronger leg on the beam to balance the vase, or on the ground to absorb your weight? I’m not sure. Also, I don’t understand why anyone was looking at the other competitors in this challenge.
Grant was out first, followed by Matt who appeared shell-shocked to finally be eliminated from the game. He had a look on his face as if he wanted to look up to the heavens and say “Hey! Where were you on THAT one, big guy?!” Then Mike’s vase dropped, and despite her “underdog” status, Andrea was back in the game.

I loved Mike’s parting comment after he was relegated to Jury Duty: “Today’s outcome was not what I wanted.” Really? You didn’t go into this final challenge hoping that Andrea won, and you went to the Jury? You know a season is boring when these are the best sound bites you can muster.

- So the Final Five of Rob, the 3 girls, and the crazy guy headed back to camp and tried to deal with the new Tribe dynamic. I have to say, as much as I’ve hated the Redemption Island concept since it was announced, this was an interesting turn of events that I hadn’t considered: having to deal with the awkwardness of the returning player being at camp. How do you make small talk? “So…what have you been up to these last few days?” “Oh you mean since you lied to me and tried to take my shot at a million dollars away, not much…praying, sleeping, balancing a vase on a piece of wood for an hour and a half.”

Andrea lied by telling the girls that the Jury said that they would be voting for Phillip, and while I appreciate her efforts to try and stir things up, could you not have come up with a better story than “Phillip is going to win” ? Ashley started strategizing right away, trying to figure out if it was a good idea to join up with Andrea to try and oust Rob, while Natalie's response to a possible game-changing move was to say ”Let’s just focus on relaxing today and figuring it all out tomorrow.” If you read my Finale Preview post that handicapped the Final Eight players, now you'll understand why I had Ashley at 8-to-1 and Natalie at 5,000-to-1.
- At the Immunity Challenge, I immediately realized that I was wrong last week when I assumed that they had used the last of the tiles this season, since there were FIVE HUNDRED of them in this challenge. Seriously, I would love for someone to go back on these last two seasons in Nicaragua and count all of the tiles.

I initially thought the concept of the challenge was good until I saw that each bag had the numbers in numerical order. How much better would it have been to have the numbers randomly in each bag and make for a real challenge instead of just "who can count the fastest and not fall off a beam." Rob looked like a penguin hustling sidefoot along his beam, but it wasn't enough as Ashley went back-to-back in Immunity challenges and won the necklace. Must have been the bedazzled jean shorts (where the hell did those come from??), or the skills she learned in both balance and counting by being a Beauty Queen and University Basketball Player.
For the record, I don't believe for a second that challenge was as close as we were led to believe. Ashley was way out in front, and even though we saw a tight shot of an orange Tile#98 being put in place, I think that was for dramatic effect. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure we would have seen a shot of a despondent Rob and his board with 98 of 100 tiles filled in.

- Back at camp, Rob brazenly said “Sorry Andrea, you’re next” which concerned me, because up until this point he hadn't really angered the Jury. Come on Rob! Natalie and Ashley promised promises to each other, and even went so far as to pinky swear, and say "love you" to each assure the other that they wouldn't vote for each other. (Survivor Rules Clarification: Pinky Swears are not, nor have they even been, binding. This is under review for Season #23.)
Phillip snitched to Rob that the girls were talking. Rob shrugged and said “Yeah thanks Phillip, welcome to Day 37”, before going off on camera about how he was considering not using the Idol at Tribal Council, the last time he would be able to use it. My girlfriend's jaw dropped when he said that, and I clarified that there was NO WAY he would ever "keep it as a souvenir", as he suggested. He's just not that stupid. Yes, he said he likes to gamble...but not with this. Not by a long shot. I didn't believe for a second that he wouldn't use it under any circumstances.

- Tribal Council #1 was once again very predictable: Philip made the Jury laugh by reminding them that he is "The Undercover Specialist", Probst tried to encourage a boys vs. girls rumble, Andrea spoke the truth and tried to influence the jury, Rob shot back that Andrea is a threat to sit beside at the end, and then used the Idol based on advice from his mother that it's "better safe than sorry." Andrea was booted, and validated what a waste Redemption Island has been. Two returnees...two immediate eliminations.

Seriously, the most entertaining thing about this Tribal Council was the new Jury Members and their Stoplight-Themed shirts. Did you catch that? On their first Tribal Council on the Jury, Mike, Matt, and Grant had on solid coloured red, yellow, and green shirts...and sat in that order! Who's the CBS costume consultant who planned that one?
I can understand why Ashley and Natalie stayed loyal to Rob at this point. The reason they were describing flipping as "risky" was because they obviously suspected he had the Idol, and was going to use it...and by voting for him or Phillip, that kills the alliance that had promised to take them to the Final Three. Made complete sense to me.

- Back at camp, Rob called his shot at winning the Final Immunity and then I braced myself for the worst part of any Survivor Season (even worse than the Loved Ones episode), the Fallen Comrades montage. But did you notice? Did you?


I know I've been making fun of it all season, but this was my first indication that God actually cares about Survivor!

- Earlier in this post, I was wondering why the vase balancing wasn't the Final Immunity Challenge, and once I saw the overhead shot of the course, I understood. Wow, what a set-up. Very impressive. Rob and Ashley separated themselves from the pack, but never from each other, and sort of worked together on the final puzzle portion, which didn't make much sense to me. Probst, meanwhile, continued his weekly habit of making fun of Natalie at challenges, yelling down “Natalie being a good sport and still running around.”

Rob won the Final Immunity, as he said he would, and guaranteed himself a seat in front of the Jury. I appreciated his display of emotion, and thought it was completely genuine, and to those haters out there who will undoubtedly say it was fake and contrived (as they accused in his near passing-out at the top of the stairs two weeks ago), I say to you: "Have a heart."
Rob after winning the Final Immunity: “Whatever happens now, I’m ok. even if I don’t win, Which is ironic because the only reason I ever wanted to come back to play again was to win. But, I feel like I did my best.”

- Before the last Tribal Council, Ashley thought it was Phil, Phil thought it was Ashley, Ashley talked to Natalie, Natalie made her another promise, Rob told Natalie to vote for Ashley, and Natalie wasn't sure if she wanted to. Did you catch all that?

It was at this point that I said to myself: "Holy shit, this is a carbon copy of the very first season!" I know I've already made comparisons with Ometepe and Pagong in that sense but think about this: in season #1, you had Richard, Rudy, Sue, and Kelly as the Final Four, and Kelly promising Sue she wouldn't vote her out, before actually doing it. In Season #22, you had Rob, Phillip, Ashley, and Natalie, and the exact same thing happened. I was fully expecting a rat/snake/dying of thirst speech from Ashley at the Final Tribal Council.

- Tribal Council #2 was the 10th predictable Tribal in a row, and Ashley joined the jury. That is honestly all I'm going to say about it.
- Now that the Final Three was set in stone, Phillip reflected once again on his great-grandfather, his place in the game, and then "celebrated" with Rob and Natalie in some sort of awkward three-person handshake that Rob and Natalie looked completely disinterested in. He then went on to explain that his strategy was to explain to the Jury why they are over there, and he is still in the game, and to rub salt in their wounds. Wow...there goes my "Phillip was acting the whole time" theory.

- The traditional breakfast feast of sausage and burnt pancakes was replaced by mimosas and sandwiches, before we got one final blurred crotch shot of Phillip in the river (my eyes!). Then, Phillip made his best move of the game, approaching the other two in front of the fire with those horrible pink briefs in his hand.
"I knew my manhood was not reflected in the briefs that I wear", he told them. For the LOVE OF GOD, Phillip...did you really have to use the word "manhood" there? You couldn't have said "dignity" or "character" had to be "manhood"???? Regular readers will know that I've never been a fan of the tradition of burning things (like the entire camp) before the Final Tribal Council, but I heartily appreciated those tighty pinkies making their way into the fire.

- I was originally going to break down the Final Tribal Council, but it was so repetitive and largely uneventful, that I'm just going to give an overview with some highlights.  Essentially, Natalie rode Rob's coat-tails the whole way, Phillip was antagonistic, and Rob smoothly answered every question. Natalie's opening statement and overall responses were so bad, even Amanda Kimmel was watching and saying "Wow, she's doing BAD!)

Andrea thinks Phillip is weird, and Natalie is creepy, Ashley was less venomous than I expected, but doesn't like Rob, Grant was thought-provoking, Ralph looked like a hairy Jason Mraz in that panama hat, and questioned Phillip's number of feathers (???)

Matt called Rob a duplicitous, deceiving, liar, which Rob astutely pointed out is a huge part of the game. I credit Rob for not following it up with "That's why I'm here and you had to compete in TWELVE Redemption Island Duels." Matt then said that the Jury has a tough time understanding who Rob is, which leads me to believe none of them have ever watched Survivor before...or The Amazing Race...or the half-dozen other reality shows Rob has been a part of. Seriously, he's the John Lithgow of Reality TV. (You watch how many times you encounter John Lithgow this week now that I've mentioned that.)

Julie tried to take jabs from a parenting point of view, and Steve called Phillip shameful and sorry before commending Natalie for being 19 years old. I nearly fell asleep typing that sentence, so let's move on.
Mike said that he felt closer to God, made some friends, and found some inner peace. That's cool, but I'll take the million if I'm still in the running. No offense to Mike, and I truly appreciated that sentiment from a player that I genuinely liked all season, but if that's what he took out of Survivor, then maybe a church retreat would have been a better idea.

Then, my good friend Puzzle Master Dave spoke directly to the Jury, emploring them to do the only logical thing and vote for Rob. He "controlled your minds, controlled your thoughts", and was "ruthless but brilliant." Did you catch the music as he was speaking? Like we were all walking through a haunted house together, huh? He was right in his assessment that Rob's game was the best strategic game ever played.

David Murphy, you are my hero.

I'm not even joking. If you're reading this, I make this promise to you: I will buy you any puzzle or game you want, based on that speech. I'm totally serious. Email me and we'll set it up. Jenga, Puzz 3-D, Rubik's name it.

Was there any doubt Rob was going to win after watching that Jury questioning? And let's be honest, with the way that Phillip and Natalie responded to the Jury's questions, Rob probably could have taken his Buff off and gagged himself and still won the million. If he hadn't wrapped it up before, they certainly sealed the deal for him. Yes, "Phile" got a single vote, but the best player ever finally did it...and took home the million.
Congratulations "Boston" Rob Mariano. Never has a Survivor winner been more deserving.

Random Thoughts on the Reunion Show

- Probst looks wrong in a black shirt, Ralph looks like he's auditioning for ZZ Top, Grant looked like he was auditioning for Fiddler on the Roof, Ashley appeared to be wearing dreamcatchers for earrings, and Matt continued to follow the path of Fabio by chopping off all of his hair for the Finale. Missed opportunity, Matt...with Thor killing at the box office right now, think of the money you could have made on the streets of NYC taking pictures with tourists.

- I told you they knew Rob had the Idol! I knew it! That's why the non-flip made sense.

- "What you’re thinking right now is “What is Phillip really thinking?” " Well done, Phillip. Glad to hear that your Former Special Agent status is now confirmed. I give Phillip a lot of credit for being the bigger man and apologizing to Steve, despite Steve's pathetic speech at the Final Tribal Council.

- “That’s as close to a perfect game as anyone has ever played on Survivor.” Truer words were never spoken by the King of the Blue Shirts.

- Matt: “I started the game deciding that I was going to blindly follow my heart.” Perhaps the worst Survivor strategy ever.

- I was surprised to see how stung Grant was by Rob's actions. Hopefully that can be repaired.

- Russell got a total of 2:57 on the show (yes, I timed it). How awesome was that? And about two minutes of it was bitterly complaining about Steve.

- Sprint Player of the season: Boston Rob. Very easy choice. It could only be him or Matt...there shouldn't have even been other options.

- I love how Probst missed the entire back row except for Russell. How pissed do you think Francesca, Krista, Kristina, Sarita, and Stephanie are?

- David is now doing puzzles with Carolina from Tocantins. How many of you thought she was going to say no when she said "Shut it Down"? I love how Amber was right in between them on the proposal shot, and I kept waiting for Rob to yell down from the Stage. "Hey David, I did that better, too!"

- I can't even begin to tell you how disheartened and disappointed I am that Survivor South Pacific (Season 23) will see the return of Redemption Island. So disappointing. But I'm going to give you my predictions now on who I think the two returning players will be...

Phillip and Coach.

Throughout the summer I will be recapping Big Brother, as well as writing a number of non-TV related posts. With almost 600 posts here, I’m sure you can find something you want to read. Please feel free to bookmark the site or add your name as a Follower on the sidebar to the left. I’m glad you found me, I hope you’ll stick around.

Remember that you can also add me on Facebook or on Twitter, where I post all new posts as soon as they go up. Don’t forget to mouse over the pictures for captions, and please leave a Comment in the Comments section if you’re so inclined. I’d love to have your thoughts on the Finale.

Thanks for reading this season. See you in the Fall for Season 23!

Survivor Redemption Island: Season Finale Recap, May 15, 2011

What I’m planning to do for tonight's Season Finale of Survivor Redemption Island is to watch the 2-hour Finale as it happens, and then once the winner is announced, work on my recap so that it is up within an hour of the show ending, as it usually is. So, if it all works out, it will be up right around the time the Reunion Show is ending.

Make sure you bookmark and come back then, because I’m hoping it will be up…and if it’s not, it will be posted shortly after. Then, after it’s posted, I’m going to go back and watch the Reunion Show, and write an addendum on the end of the recap afterwards.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Survivor Finale Preview: Handicapping The Final 8 Players

Survivor Redemption Island comes to a close this weekend with Sunday Night's Season Finale, so let's take a look at the eight remaining players that have a shot at the million (I still can't believe there are 8! Please let Redemption Island be a one-season occurance).

Below you will find my thoughts on each of the remaining players, and their odds of winning. (in no particular order)
Mike Chiesl

Mike has been a pretty solid competitor this season, especially after his arrival at Redemption Island. I have to wonder what he could have done in this game had he not been one of the Zapatera tribe members who orchestrated the thrown challenge to get rid of Russell. While I agree with the logic of getting rid of Russell, that could have been done at any time, and this season proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that throwing a challenge in Survivor is never a good idea.

Mike has been very strong in the Redemption Island Duels, and I can see him coming out of Redemption Island to re-enter the game. Making it to the Final Tribal Council, however, is another story. If he can be sitting in front of the Jury at the Final Tribal Council, then regardless of who he's sitting beside, he will win hands down.

Odds of winning: 4 to 1
Andrea Boehlke

After Matt was voted out early to break up the Matt/Andrea alliance, I didn't see her lasting much further in the game, but here we are at the Finale with her still in the running at Redemption Island. I thought the blindside of Matt would affect her loyalty to Rob and her Ometepe alliance, but they all stayed strong until the Final 6, when she was the first to go. If she's on the jury, will she vote for Rob, or will she vote for anyone BUT Rob because of that? Even though I jokingly compared her to a Na'vi from Avatar earlier this season, I liked Andrea...but I don't think there's any way she can win.

Odds of winning: 25 to 1
Grant Mattos

All season long I've been comparing Grant to Ozzy Lusth from Survivor Cook Islands (and Fans vs. Favorites), in terms of his physical ability, demeanor, and overall social game. If he can win his way back from Redemption Island, you can surely bet he won't be aligning with Rob again after being voted out last week. Even though I've had trouble getting past the pink slippers, if he's sitting in the Final Tribal Council with anyone other than Rob, he can win. If he's there with Rob, it's still possible, but his biggest hurdle is winning his way back in. Also, can someone please explain the pink slippers to me? All season long, and I've never understood why he has been wearing them?

Odds of winning: 4 to 1
Phillip Sheppard

The Former Special Agent. A charter member of 'Stealth R Us'. 'Shep.' Whatever you want to call him, you need to call him the saviour of this season. Without Phillip on your TV for the past 13 weeks, this may have been the worst season in Survivor history (and I say that as a HUGE fan of Boston Rob). The king of the tighty-pinkies has hinted to us that his crazy act is all a ruse. Personally, I don't buy it...but I also can't rule it out either. If he can be sitting on the Final Tribal Council and reveal to everyone that he's a businessman or something, and the crazy act was all for show, and that he is a well-spoken individual who had a plan to get to the end all along, then he will singlehandedly vault this season into one of the BEST ones of all time. That...and you can give him the million. Otherwise, I don't think he has a shot.

Odds of winning:  (Phillip is Phillip)     100 to 1
                                   (Phillip was acting)  Even Money
Natalie Tenerelli

Natalie was, without a doubt, the Purple Kelly of this season...barely saying anything of significance (or anything at all) until the last few episodes. With the edit that she's been given on this season, I can't see her sitting on the Final Tribal Council at all, much less having a shot to win. Remember last season when nobody could believe we were watching Mafia Dan in the Finale...this is pretty much the same thing. A likable girl who I don't really have anything bad to say about, but she has no shot of winning.

Odds of winning: 5,000 to 1
Ashley Underwood

Ashley wasn't strong, and wasn't weak. She was smart to align herself with Rob because she knew it could get her to the end. She's not there yet, but she could be. I don't see a jury giving her the million dollars unless she's sitting there beside Natalie and Phillip, at which point she could be seen as the most deserving. For the record, if that ends up being the Final Three, God help us all.

Odds of winning: 8 to 1
Matt Elrod

Isn't it crazy that a guy that was eliminated on Day 5 is still in the running? Actually, make that "a guy who was eliminated on Day 5, returned to the game, and was eliminated AGAIN" is still in the running? Don't get me wrong, I really like Matt, and I think the run he went on at Redemption Island was damn impressive, but I still maintain that it was a ridiculous element of the game that allowed him to survive so long. I don't think it was divine inspiration, I think Matt is just one hell of a competitor.

Part of me wants Matt to win, if only for the reason that the first time they tried Redemption Island, if someone runs the table wire-to-wire, then you can never really trump that, and there would be no reason for it to ever make a return. Also, if Matt makes it to the end and can be sitting at the Final Tribal Council, how can you not give him the money? Even if he's sitting beside Rob, who had arguably the best season any Survivor Contestant has ever had? The question is whether Matt can actually return from Redemption Island...he's been taking a back seat to Mike since he got there, and now with Grant in the mix, it won't be easy.

Odds of Winning:         7 to 2
(if God is on the Jury) 1 to 3
"Boston Rob" Mariano

Yes, I'm a Rob fan, and yes, I think he deserves to win this season. No one has come close to him in terms of strategy and performance. If it's Outwit, Outlast, Outplay...he's done that in every way possible. Plus, he still has an Immunity Idol that he can presumably use for at least one more Tribal Council, and he's pretty much always the favourite going into any Immunity challenge, so how can you not pencil him in for the Final Three?

The only question is whether we will see a bitter jury that votes on their anger over being eliminated over truly assessing who played the best game. Rob was screwed in All-Stars by a bitter jury, just as Russell was in both of his seasons. Will this jury be as bitter?

I don't think so.

The beauty of Rob's game this time was that he got everyone out without being a total douchebag, which is what he and Russell both failed to accomplish in the past. I think he'll be able to convince the jury he (rightfully) deserves the million dollars and the title that he's been working a decade to try and win.

Odds of winning: 2 to 1

One note about this Sunday’s Season Finale. What I’m planning to do is to watch the 2-hour Finale as it happens, and then once the winner is announced, work on my recap so that it is up within an hour of the show ending, as it usually is. So, if it all works out, it will be up right around the time the Reunion Show is ending.

Make sure you bookmark and come back then, because I’m hoping it will be up…and if it’s not, it will be posted shortly after. Then, after it’s posted, I’m going to go back and watch the Reunion Show, and write an addendum on the end of the recap afterwards.

Survivor Fans, feel free to bookmark the site or add your name as a Follower on the sidebar to the left. You can also add me on Facebook or on Twitter, where I post all of the recaps as soon as they go up. Don’t forget to mouse over the pictures for captions, and please leave a Comment in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.

Survivor Recap: "One Man Should Not Have This Much Power In This Game"

I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about how bad this season is, either because of the dominance of Boston Rob, or the predictability of pretty much everything after the first three episodes, or Redemption Island as a whole. I’ll agree that this definitely hasn’t been the best season, but let me ask you this: without Rob or Phillip on your screen this season, how boring would it have been then?

On to tonight’s episode, the final show before Sunday’s Season Finale…

My Random Thoughts:

- Previously on..Survivor. Ometepe was forced to turn on each other after Zapatera was completely eliminated, Phillip claims to be faking his crazy ways to portray "the villain" (yeah, right!), and Andrea was blindsided at the last Tribal Council.

Meanwhile, the Night Vision recap told us that Ashley just loves blindsides, and that she thinks that she and Natalie are BFF. Natalie is weary of her and that perception, and runs to tell Rob. Rob says that he has control (which he does), but that now he needs to make sure that he keeps control.

- At Redemption (Non) Island, Andrea snubs Matt upon arrival to go hug Ralph (???), which brings up a conversation between her and Matt about angry looks and puppy-dog eyes, and who is wishy-washy, and who is throwing each other under the bus. Andrea gave off one of those time-tested tells that someone is incredibly awkward or flustered, by talking extremely fast. So fast that I could barely understand her. I thought I was watching a Micro Machines commercial.

Ralph then decided that it was time for payback for Andrea for the Ometepe/Zapatera division at camp, and made her sleep on the floor instead of sharing part of the shelter with her. His revenge on her came with a side description of what happened to her at camp: “Rob was using you like toilet paper.” I bet she wasn't so happy now that she went to him for that first hug.

- At the Redemption (Non) Island (Non) Duel, Jeff asked Andrea how it felt to be blindsided, and she got all weepy answering his question. Rob looked directly at her as he faced the music listening to what she said, while Ashley sat in the back row looking down and cleaning her nails. Perhaps a sign of things to come if those two were to both make it to the Final Tribal Council?

The challenge itself was a two-part puzzle, complete with a tile to smash in between stages. (Burnett must have had 4 tiles left) I enjoyed the challenge mostly because Probst's commentary included him hollering “Don’t panic. Just lift it. Let it hover in there!”, which is a perfect "That's what she said!" set-up. Thanks Johnny Blue Shirt.
Ralph finished the first part of the (Non) Duel first, but when it came down to the second part, a big jigsaw puzzle, how many of you thought he had a shot? It was embarrassing how far behind he was at the end after being so far ahead. I have to think that he got confused because the puzzle had words, and he was confused by the correct spelling of words like Redemption and Island. "Wait a minute, that's not how you spell 'Daisies'...why won't this gosh darn piece fit here!?"

Ralph lost, of course, and headed off to join the jury. As Jeff so eloquently put it, "That blows.”

On the way out of the (Non) Duel, Rob said what I've been feeling all along, and even more so this past week: "I want Redemption Island to be over and done with so it’s not a factor anymore." How on Earth are we going to the Finale with 4 people still on Redemption Island? It's absurd to me that we now have equal people in the game and on Redemption Island...and one episode left.

- I don't recall seeing that crocodile in the animal shots this season, do you? Crocodiles are cool, and sometimes they're pretty funny too.
- Back at camp, everyone was talking about how hungry they were and how much rice they should ration for the last few days. Since they couldn't come to an agreement on it, they apparently just decided to build a giant fire. Seriously...did you see that? The flames were huge, and the camp was filled with smoke!

Phillip then put on his dietician/nutritionist hat and explained to the girls that because they only need 1700 calories vs the 3600 that Grant and the men would need, they should consider smaller portions. This led to a big argument between the "well-read" Phillip and the girls, which included him saying “I don’t give a f’what you are.” Phillip, if you want to swear, just swear...stop sounding like an idiot. Ashley, meanwhile only fanned the flames (of the argument, not the giant fire) by being sarcastic and antagonistic, going so far as to tell Phillip that they don't argue with Grant and Rob "because they’re normal”, before she and Natalie ran off, calling Phillip a Psycho.
Rob approached Natalie after the blow-up with Phillip, telling her “Don’t be scared, all you have to do is just what I say” before laying out his plan to vote out Ashley, which he attributed to Grant. That was an interesting comment by Rob, don't you think? Because it didn't just describe this scenario, it described his entire game play so far this season.

Natalie was understandably skeptical, but Rob layed the onus of the idea on Grant. Ashley then decided that it was time for her to try and broker a big move by ousting Grant and went to tell Rob. Her logic was that Grant need to go to Redemption (Non) Island so that only one of Grant, Mike, and Matt came back instead of two physical threats. Not a bad logical argument, but in essence, wasn't she saying "we girls are weak. Don't let the big strong men come back and beat us"? That's what it sounded like to me, which seemed pretty lame after you just blasted Phillip for his calorie comments.
The beautiful thing coming out of this situation was that Rob now had Ashley and Grant both trying to get the other one out, and in each situation, the other one was the supposed "mastermind" behind the plan. Rob is safe, and Rob's hands are clean.Classic Divide and Conquer strategy. Brilliant.

- Two quick thoughts on this episode: 1) Is it just me or did this week's episode have a real "high-school" feel to it? First Ashley and Natalie are BFF, then Ralph makes Andrea sleep on the floor, then Phillip and the girls get into a ridiculous all seemed so juvenile, and 2) If everybody is constantly telling everybody else that they are safe, can't you do the math and realize that someone isn't? Is Rob the only one that understands this?

- As the three men are walking for this week's tree-mail, we hear "Stealth R Us in effect", which seems like it should be the title of a breakdancing movie from the early 80s, not an End-Game plan on Survivor.

- As Natalie and Rob were discussing their voting options alone, there was a distinct difference in their respective demeanor and body language. Did you notice that Natalie was sitting nervously by the fire (which again was out of control), and Rob was swinging carelessly on a swing laying it all out for her? And when Ashley came up, he just seamlessly transitioned into a conversation about brownies and caramel sauce. Man, he's smooth. Of course he scored another golden sound bite for this episode, talking about potentially voting Ashley out at Tribal Council: “After 35 days of having this pain in my ass, I think I’m gonna have some relief tonight.”
- The Immunity Challenge was an interesting task where teams had to use hooks to gather bags of puzzle pieces, before assembling a fish-skeleton puzzle...all while portraying the drummer from Def Leppard. (click it if you don't get the joke.)

Before anyone gets their buns in a knot asking "Why didn't they just pick up the bag with the first hook?", I'm sure it was explained to them that they had to use all the hooks at each stage, but we didn't see Probst explain that on the episode. The challenge itself was pretty close, with everyone in it at some point, except for Natalie, who Probst was visibly disappointed in, going so far as to scold her repeatedly and say “might as well sit down and watch.” Is there anything worse than being brow-beaten by a well-fed, well-rested Blue Shirt Probst in a situation like this when you're starving and cranky?
Ashley won the challenge, and the accompanying reward, which was a Room Service Feast at camp. She got to choose one other person to share the reward with, and even though Jeff said it was a HUGE decision, it was obvious she would pick Natalie. Quick question though, why did Probst tell them to "be kind to your waiter?"  Was it because they had no cash to tip him? Maybe he thought they would be rude for some reason? Seemed odd.

After the Room Service arrived and the girls were chowing down on their feast, Natalie declared "I'm speechless." Look, saying that you're speechless negates the...speechless-ness of the whole thing. Kind of like asking for the Heimlich manoeuver. If you can ask for it, you're not really choking.

The aftermath of the feast reminded me of that scene in Survivor Africa when Ethan and Lex got sick after eating a giant plate of French Fries. The girls were in extreme discomfort...and Natalie decided to get on her hands and knees with her ass in the air. Last week, she was cupping her own ass with her mom, and now this? What is going on with this girl?

- After Ashley won Immunity, it was a whirlwind of activity as everyone scrambled for position before Tribal Council. Rob spoke directly to post-Survivor Grant in his confessional, declaring that he didn't want to vote him out this way. He agreed to "play the bad guy” because, as he put it, everyone else was too stupid.

Grant and Rob's chat on the beach ended with high-fives and handshakes and Grant muttering "blindside" over and over again. Even though he playfully shadow-boxed with Rob while Ashley smelled Natalie's armpits (Yes, you read that right...I still don't get it), things weren't looking good for Grant.

- Tribal Council was uneventful. Rob and Grant both love their wives (and you can understand why, check out Grant's wife Christina Cox), and the girls are becoming closer. Rob decided to once again keep the Idol, which I think is a great move, because once the Redemption (Non) Island winner returns to the game, that's someone who can be allied against him, and if he is able to save it until then, it'll likely be necessary at that point.

Grant didn't seem that shocked to be voted out. Either that or he just held it in very well. He simply made a beeline for the exit and said “see you guys shortly”, which seemed to indicate he was confident he would be returning from Redemption (Non) Island.

This Sunday: Three Tribal Councils, One Duel, and the Winner is crowned

One note about this Sunday’s Season Finale. What I’m planning to do is to watch the 2-hour Finale as it happens, and then once the winner is announced, work on my recap so that it is up within an hour of the show ending, as it usually is. So, if it all works out, it will be up right around the time the Reunion Show is ending.

Make sure you bookmark and come back then, because I’m hoping it will be up…and if it’s not, it will be posted shortly after. Then, after it’s posted, I’m going to go back and watch the Reunion Show, and write an addendum on the end of the recap afterwards.

Survivor Fans, feel free to bookmark the site or add your name as a Follower on the sidebar to the left. You can also add me on Facebook or on Twitter, where I post all of the recaps as soon as they go up. Don’t forget to mouse over the pictures for captions, and please leave a Comment in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Knew Michael Bolton Could Be (Intentionally) Funny?

An absolutely epic Digital Short from SNL this past weekend. I challenge you not to break out laughing at the 1:37 mark.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Amazing Race Recap: Unfinished Business Season Finale

The Season Finale of the Amazing Race Unfinished Business is in the books, and which of the four remaning second-chance teams took home the million dollar prize? Let's find out...

My Random Thoughts:

- Previously on The Amazing Race, a reminder of the demise of each of the remaining four teams in their original seasons, and a recap of the 7 teams eliminated so far this season, who will all be relegated to lining the finish line and applauding as if they care who wins. But, at least I got to see the footage of Luke melting down at the tea challenge once again, and that makes me happy. I wonder what he got Margie for Mother’s Day, clearly the most important day of the year for these two…I picture it as kind of like “Date Night” in their house.

- Back to the Matterhorn where Flight Time and Big Easy are cuddling up with the Travelocity Gnome and shooting the requisite commercial for the episode as they excitedly checked out their trip options online.

- Was it just me, or was the exit point about 10 feet from the ticket booth where they had to buy their train tickets? Didn’t they check in on the mountain in a Swiss cabin? Whatever happened to them leaving from the same spot where they checked in at the Pit Stop? The 4 teams were only 19 minutes apart on their exit times, and even though the last team left at 7:31 and the train left at 7:39, they were all on the same train? That seemed pretty fishy to me.

- Jen reminded us that what happened on the Finale of their previous season will not happen again, as she told us “I WILL pee my pants to win The Amazing Race.” Which is pretty much what everyone was saying after they lost in Season 14.

- When the teams found out that they were going to Brazil, Mallory screamed in delight (shocking, I know…), and the Globetrotters decided to give the other teams a reminder that in Brazil, some of the ladies are men. So they gave some advice on how to play Spot the Tranny (which is my favourite game to play when I walk around the West End of Vancouver) by looking for Adam’s apples and man-type hands and feet. Personally, I think these Globetrotters were thinking of Thailand.

- After all of the teams being on the same train, they found themselves all on same flight as well, but it was almost a situation where The Globetrotters and Zev and Justin would have landed a whopping TEN HOURS earlier…until Big Easy gave it all away with the worst cover-up lie I’ve ever seen on this show. I’m making a note to invite Big Easy to my next poker game.

- The Globetrotters fell behind on their arrival to Brazil, and as Justin put it best, “being last off the plane really hurt them” this time. The last ones off the plane ended up being the last ones to get a cab, which brought them to the train they needed to take after the rest of the teams had already departed. And even though the train was still in sight…Flight Time and Big Easy were unable to get them to stop so they could get on, putting them a full 30 minutes behind having to wait for the next train.
- I’m glad the drama that was teased before the commercial break was real and not the typical Amazing Race trick of teasing drama before the break that never actually happens. And did you see the track that the train had to travel on? My God that thing was narrow! It looked like an Olympic gymnastics balance beam.

- At the Road Block, teams had to learn the Samba in the streets of Brazil amid a Carnival atmosphere. First of all, when Phil was explaining the Road Block among the dancing Brazilians, why wasn’t he dancing along with them? There have been times on the Amazing Race where his explanation clip includes him partaking in what the Racers are about to do. Even later in this episode, he was down in the water using one of the personal submarines explaining that Road Block, so does Captain Eyebrow only choose the fun ones to take part in?

- I’m never a fan of challenges where a judge tells you whether you did it right or not, because including subjectivity into the equation as to whether a task is “completed” or not always seems fishy to me. And it invites the accusation that the competition is fixed or favoured to protect or punish certain teams. I don’t believe that is the case, and it wasn’t an issue in this episode, but judging challenges, especially at this point of the Race, seems odd to me.

- The Samba Road Block itself was fun to watch, even if the contestants all looked like the birds from the new animated movie Rio…if they were re-imagined as WWE wrestlers. Zev had an incredible amount of trouble with it, while Mallory looked like she could have actually been the one teaching the lessons instead of learning. Plus, she looked like she was having the most fun in her entire life (but to be fair, she looks that way a have to admire her enthusiasm, don't you?)

I had to laugh at Justin's instructions to Zev, because I can't really think of a more unachievable goal than when Justin yelled at Zev to "be like Jay-Z. Come on, be smooth."

- After this week's episode of So You Think You Can Samba, all of the team members had to head of for a "Brazilian waxing session." Yes, you heard that right...bring on the obvious joke...but instead of it being what all of you dirty-minded readers are thinking, this waxing session was confined to only TV-friendly areas of the body. (I'm surprised the next clue didn't direct them to a "landing strip.")
Flight time decided this would be a good time to flirt with the woman ripping the hair out of his body, Mallory was incredibly NOT shrieking for the first time in the Race (and this would have been the time we all understood), and watching Zev and Justin's session was actually painful to watch. I mean, when you're getting hair ripped out that way, the strip is supposed to be torn away in one fluid motion, but did you see how many times it didn't come all the way off and they had to grab it and yank again? That would have been so painful. I could completely understand when Justin asked“What’s the penalty for knocking her out cold?”

- The Detour was a choice between On the Rocks and On The Beach, the second of which was what I described as an impossible task. The description stated that the teams had to walk around a beach and try to sell bikinis to people who would then model them, but let's look at what it actually was: two people walking around a beach with bikinis who are trying to convince women to come into their little cloth cylinder, which they are holding for them, get partially naked in there, WHILE A TV CREW IS FILMING IT...and pay for the bikinis!

You could have offered to pay them, and I still think that it's impossible. And keep in mind that this is on a beach in Brazil where apparently it was necessary to blur out almost all of the asses that appeared on camera. If this can't even work on a beach in Brazil, then where could it work? Add in the fact that you're trying to sell to a bunch of people who already have bikinis on, and that the only two people who tried it were half waxed/half hairy, with all of their exposed skin beet red from the waxing, and it's justifiable that people on the beach wanted nothing to do with this. I'm surprised the police didn't get called! It would have been more achievable if the Detour instructions had said "Grow a pair of wings and learn to fly,"

Although one of the reasons I love this show, is where else on TV (or anywhere for that matter) could you hear the sentence “When they do, a bikini seller will give them their next clue.”

– All the teams ended up choosing On The Rocks, which involved making 100 drinks in a beachside bar stand. It was very straightforward, but what is with this season insisting that every task has to be accompanied by a group of local musicians?
- Zev and Justin found themselves too far behind after trying the bikini portion of the Detour, and drowned their sorrows in a couple of drinks in the cab on the way to the Pit Stop, which they thought "would be romantic if we were a couple.” While they didn't lose their passports, they wouldn't be heading off to the Final Leg and racing for the million dollars.

- The Final Leg of the Race saw the 3 remaining teams heading from Brazil to Miami, or as I'd like to say, "taking their talents to South Beach." At the airport, Gary pushed Mallory around in a cart, and the Globetrotters kissed their bags goodbye, by checking them and not keeping them for the Final Leg of the Race. Wouldn't there be some sort of legal ramification for just leaving your bags behind unclaimed at an aiport?

-As the teams departed the airport in their cabs, there was a great overhead shot which was reminiscent of a CSI: Miami opening sequence. I was waiting for Phil to show up and do his best Horatio Caine impression, taking off his sunglasses and stating: "Well, Frank. It looks like these three teams have some (pause)...Unfinished Business."


- Gary and Mallory got into their cab and declared that 'you just gotta have faith and a feeling.” Well, that and a cab driver other than Sterling who knows where he’s going. I hate when a team runs a great Race and gets screwed in the Final Leg by having a crappy cab driver. I wish that they would have had cars waiting for them. If they get lost on their own, then it's much easier to accept. Sterling put them too far behind to be competetive in the Final was now a two-team Race.
- I enjoyed the Dry Dock Roadblock, but I was hoping at least one team would have dropped the boat. It actually looked pretty easy for both Flight Time and Jen, and if you're telling me that Gary has to do a challenge on a forklift, I'll take him over anyone else in the Race. It's unfortunate that they were too far behind to be in it at this point.

- Off to Key Largo and Jules' Undersea Lodge. Back to back Roadblocks? I like it. Seriously, how cool was this Roadblock, and how badly do you now want to ride in one of those personal submarines? Two quick thoughts from this challenge, both of which involve teams learning from their previous experiences on the Race: 1) I was impressed to hear that Jen took swimming lessons specifically to run the Race again, which was incredibly smart on her part (I get so frustrated when people don't make the effort to learn how to do something they know that they will have to do on the Race, like driving a stick shift.) and 2) I was also impressed at the Globetrotters' instructions to their cab driver to go get gas and then come back and wait for us. Smart thinking.

- The next sequences were a frenetic mix of Route Info gathering: head to mile marker 29, walk  across the water to Horseshoe Island and get a clue, walk back across the water, take a boat, walk again, and end up at a Mobile Home park. As they were walking back in the water, this was obviously the time that Jen would have been able to take that final bathroom break instead of looking for a bathroom on the Final stretch
- 67...that's the number of basketball analogies that Flight Time and Big Easy used in this episode. "Fourth Quarter", "Overtime", "Sudden Death"...yes, we get it, you're basketball players...give it a rest. And for the record, basketball overtime ISN'T SUDDEN DEATH! Not like they would know since their games are fixed. (BOOM! There is is again.)  

- At the Mobile Home park, the teams needed to set up their own “trailerhood” according to a picture they got in a brochure. What? No complex memory challenge like we usually see at the end? Just a big model to build? As they were building their "trailerhoods", the wind picked up in a big way, and let's be honest, one of the last places I want to be when a storm is rolling in, is a Trailer Park, or as I call them, Tornado Magnets.

I did, however, enjoy the crowd at the Trailer Park who were watching the teams. From the sign that said "Pirate's Pub: Hot Women and Cold Beer" to the guy in the John Deere camouflage ballcap and the T-shirt that said (this is not a joke, go back and look) "So Many Cats: So Few Good Recipes" and looked remarkably like Piers Morgan, it was an entertaining slice of Americana.

Miss Rose was a creation all her own, with her insane hair and rat-like teeth. Standing beside Big Easy, this little woman resembled an Oompa Loompa, but she broke into a big grin as she handed Jen and Kisha the clue that would lead them to the Final Pit Stop.

- After biking across the Seven Mile Bridge, and keeping their lead on the Globetrotters (remember that Jen and Kisha were both NCAA Varsity Athletes), they crossed the finish line first and won the million dollars, as I predicted last week.
As they approached the end, we saw shots of all of the eliminated teams waiting and clapping: there's the Cowbros, and Zev in his silver pyjamas, and Luke wearing a T-Shirt reading "The Sinister Deaf Kid", and...wait...who the hell is that? Oh yeah, Amanda and Kris. Forgot you were here...maybe if they give them a third shot on the Race, we'll remember who they are. But probably not.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good season. Congratulations to Jen and Kisha on a great Race, they are indeed very deserving winners, and as they stated, never won a leg until the end when it really mattered. I was moved by their closing comments on what they plan to do with the money to help their mother, who raised them as a single mom. As a son of single mom, that was a wonderful message to hear, and it was timed perfectly on Mother's Day.

That's going to do it for another season of the Amazing Race, but I hope you'll bookmark the site or add your name as a Follower on the sidebar to the left for when it returns in the fall.  If you're a fan of Survivor, make sure to check for my Finale recap next Sunday, and if you watch Big Brother, keep in mind that I will be recapping the entire season this summer. I hope to see you back.

Remember that you can also add me on Facebook or Twitter, where I post all of my recaps (and other Random Thoughts) as soon as they go up. Don’t forget to mouse over the pictures for captions, and please leave a Comment in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.

Thanks for reading this season.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Survivor Recap: "The Dreaded Loved Ones Episode"

With only 3 episodes remaining, I knew that the Dreaded Loved Ones extravaganza was just around the corner, so I had my puke bucket nearby for tonight’s episode, while my girlfriend had a box of Kleenex on her lap. Talk about juxtaposition, huh?

Will Boston Rob get to see Amber? What’s the new phone that Jeff will be pimping? And is tonight the night that this horrible Redemption Island twist ends for good?

My Random Thoughts:

- Previously on…Survivor. A reminder that Ometepe has been winning everything, and a stern proclamation from Voice-Over Jeff that they were able to “stick together from the beginning and decimate an entire tribe.” This was described in a way as if it was a totally foreign concept instead of something that Pagong did in the very first season. I’ve been saying for years that this is the way to win the game, and the template was set out in perfect order 22 seasons ago. I’m still amazed that it’s taken this long for another tribe to actually stick with it instead of turning on each other early.

- At Redemption (Non) Island, Ralph joined Mike and Matt and talked about what had been happening at camp. Right after he talked about Steve losing 40 pounds, in a perfect City Slickers “He’s Behind Me Isn’t He?” moment, Steve arrived after last week’s impromptu vote-out, and the Zapatera reunion (with a side of Matt) was complete.
- When Natalie started crying “hormone tears” (???) back at camp after Tribal Council, if you hadn’t already been tipped off by this week’s previews that this was going to be the Loved Ones episode, you better have figured it out at this point when she started talking about how much she missed her family.

- With only Ometepe members left (aside from the Redemption (Non) Island candidates), Rob analyzed the overall picture perfectly when he said “as long as they don’t start talking to each other and realize that I’m the one that should be going…I’ll be all set.” Considering he still has an Idol in his possession, I think it’s a pretty accurate statement.

- Tree Mail! A Sprint Phone! What could this possibly mean??? Yes, of course it was the videos of the loved ones giving all of the same sentiments we've seen for 22 seasons, like "I miss you", "We're proud of you", and “I can’t wait to see you.”

Listen, if you're one of the contestants and you're watching these videos and you don't know that the people you're watching are going to be at the next challenge, I submit that you're missing a chromosome or two. I have to think at this point, it's so obvious, that the CBS editors are essentially just cutting out footage of all of them jumping up and down, yelling "They're here! They're here!" in the interest of keeping up the fake surprise.

A couple of thoughts: 1) Is Grant's "loved one" really his brother-in-law? I can buy that, but the fact that he didn't say "brother-in-law", and instead said "my sister's husband" led me to believe that no one wanted to come to Nicaragua to see Grant. 2) Ralph's loved one was a "buddy", who  gave him the apparently crucial news that "the cows are great. A couple of the chickens got killed, though.” 3) At the point Matt was ready to see his video, my girlfriend turned to me and said "It's going to be God"...and I was laughing so hard I had to pause the show.
- The Redemption (Non) Island Duel guessed it...a tile-breaking challenge. Picture it, Mark Burnett off in a trailer somewhere: "We're leaving Nicaragua in 7 days, use the rest of those damn tiles. I'm not paying to ship them back to the U.S!"

I liked that the prize of winning time with your loved one was only awarded AFTER the challenge, but I hated that this wasn't the end of the Redemption (Non) Island twist. On the 3rd last episode of the season, you're telling me that someone who was voted out can finish THIRD in this challenge and still be in the game? I will once again re-iterate that this is the Worst Twist Ever...even worse than the Castaways.
Mike won the challenge and was given the choice of time with his mom, awarding Matt and Ralph time with their Loved Ones, or giving it up for all 6 Ometepe members. Somewhere, Monty Hall was yelling at his TV, "Take curtain #3!" He made the selfless choice to give it up for Ometepe, which I believed was a genuine decision and not wholly strategic, even if Ralph was later furious not to be able to spend time with his buddy. And if your Loved One is categorized as your "buddy", maybe you should be giving it up for someone else anyways.

I thought that for making the selfless choice, Mike was going to be able to get to spend time with his mother anyways, but I was wrong. And to those of you wondering why AMBUH wasn't there for Boston Rob, I think that this was filmed while she was pregnant with the latest Baby Mariano. I'm pretty sure flying to Nicaragua in your third trimester is frowned upon.

And Steve got sent to the Jury. I know you don't care. Just sayin'...

- God took a break from giving Matt guidance and telling Mike the right decision to make, and took a side trip to visit Natalie's mom, who asked him to look over Natalie. Someone get the Big Guy a Survivor T-Shirt or something, he has been busy this season! Natalie responded by showing her mom how firm her ass was. Did you see that, while Rob was talking to his sister, we saw Natalie grab a handful of her own ass? Why was that?
Boston Rob waxed poetic about how he was working so hard to win so that he could make a better life for his wife and children. He was emotional, but let's call a spade a spade here. I love Boston Rob, and I'm 100% rooting for him to win this season, but he and Amber already have 1.1 Million Dollars from this show, along with the 37 other Reality shows he's been on (and he's hosting a new show on the Travel Channel!)...just be honest. You want to win Survivor. Don't quote the money.

- The Loved Ones got off easy in this episode: they didn't have to compete in a challenge, they didn't have to do any work around camp, they didn't have to endure a sleepover. Just a quick little afternoon visit.
- The Immunity Challenge was imposing and impressive...and as much as I hate the rainbows and unicorns of the Loved Ones episode, I thought it was great that they did the visit from home right before what was clearly the most difficult challenge. I can't imagine how that could have been any more exhausting, especially considering how many times you had to go up and down the stairs (18 times, if you didn't make any mistakes!). Jeff made the comment of the night, referring to Rob's new T-shirt, "he is literally carrying his family on his back."

Watching Rob struggle up those stairs at the end, and summon enough energy and strength to win Immunity...well, to me, that was more emotional than watching the Loved Ones arrive. Especially after watching him nearly pass out after winning (remember that similar moment in Heroes vs. Villains when he passed out?)

With the Immunity win, Rob guarantees that you'll see him in the Finale on Sunday night, May 15th. He can use the Idol at the next Tribal Council and be sitting in the Final Five (which is where the Finale will start).

- The Giant Hairy Spider is back, and now it's crawling into a SHOE??? I'll have to turn all of my shoes upside down and shake them for the next month.
- Phillip had a mini-meltdown over tangled nets and wasps, and then tried to tell us that he had to ramp up the crazy, because his whole persona has been an act so far? Do you think he's telling the truth? I don't...but I can't rule it out. It sure would make a fantastic Final Tribal Council though. Is Rob really suspicious of this, or was it just a good sound bite? Also, if you're going to kill a wasp at camp, why are you using one of your only pillows?

- Tribal Council was relatively uneventful with no one for Phillip to argue with now that they are all over on the Jury Bench...or as I'm not calling it, Zapatera Row (why don't they just paint it purple?)  Natalie finally talked enough for me to know what her voice sounds like, Phillip argued with Jeff while Jeff was trying to make a case for him to stay longer, and then we got another nugget of wisdom from the Former Special Agent's grandfather, which boiled down to 'Hold The Faith'. Wasn't that in Field of Dreams?

Jeff gave the speech about the Hidden Immunity Idol, and Rob obviously didn't use it since he had won the Immunity necklace, but I have to think that the rest of Ometepe knows that Rob has the Idol. Think about it...they know that there was one, and it hasn't been used, so it's still in someone's pocket. It only makes sense that once it was down to the 6 of them, it would be used at the next Tribal Council since it probably is only good for one more TC, and who knows what could happen in this one? Since it wasn't used by any of the other 5...then Rob must have it.

After Andrea got voted out, Dave told Steve and Julie "she got blindsided", proving once again, that aside from being the greatest puzzle solver EVER, he is also a master of reporting the blatantly obvious.

- OK, here's what's pissing me off the most about Redemption Island. There are now 5 players left in the game, and 4 on Redemption Island. They have to insert the Final player back into the game in the next episode, I would think. What that means, is that on the second last episode, 4 out of the remaining 9 players will be eliminated in one episode. How can you tell me that this is anything but a horrible twist? Man, I hope that Redemption Island never returns.

Next week: The Penultimate episode before the May 15th Finale.

Survivor Fans, feel free to bookmark the site or add your name as a Follower on the sidebar to the left. You can also add me on Facebook or on Twitter, where I post all of the recaps as soon as they go up. Don’t forget to mouse over the pictures for captions, and please leave a Comment in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Amazing Race Recap: "I Want To Eat That Gnome"

There was a lot written and talked about last week about the other teams “cheating” by sharing information on the last leg of the Race, causing the beloved Cowboys to be eliminated. Cries of  “I’m never watching this show again” echoed around the Amazing Race Universe in the days following the airing of the episode.

Look, there was nothing in the rules (or in the Detour instructions) that said that the answer had to be calculated/gathered/figured out "on your own."

What about if two of the teams decided at the beginning of the Detour to ride together, and figure it out together? Is that cheating? There have been numerous instances where teams have worked together on a task...this is, and should be, an accepted form of an alliance in TAR.

What about when Racers involve the locals who help them find where they are going, or help them push a cart through town or something? Is that cheating?

When Mallory helped Luke on the charm challenge in China, was that cheating? Or was she just helping a friend?

A HUGE amount of what happens on this show isn't done on the Racers "own merit" : Cab drivers, locals, alliances, lucky breaks, and so much more...

I agree that the teams should have to be responsible for their own challenges, but that's a flaw in the show that should likely be changed. It needs to be specified that you can't just give another team the answer.

Blame the show, not the Racers. They acted within the parameters of the rules. Nobody cheated.

On to this week’s episode:

My Random Thoughts:

- Mallory went back to her customary shriek upon opening the envelope, but Gary was all business, working on tracking Kent and Vyxsin’s shoe treads to find their way to the cab that they needed to track down.
Gary and Mallory found a cab pretty quickly, but Kent and Vyxsin had a lot of trouble getting one to stop for them. This aggravated Kent to no end, even though they had only moments earlier said that they are starting the legs off happier than normal, and he declared that he wanted to “beat someone up today”, and that the whole situation “makes me want to kick some ass even more.”

I was confused by the “even more” in that sentence, because up until this point, when has Kent declared that he wanted to kick any ass whatsoever? And could there be a less intimidating threat than finding out that Kent wants to throw down with you?

And be honest, if you were a cab driver in this Swiss town, and early one morning, you saw Kent and Vyxsin running around trying to flag you down, and even tapping on your window as you drove by...would you stop? Kent went back to using that creepy whisper voice again too, which only would have made me drive away faster if I was the cab driver.

- The Globetrotters reflected on their last-place finish in the last leg, using a basketball analogy to point out that even if you've had 3 bad quarters, you can always score 45 points in the 4th quarter to win the game. Good point, although I think it's significantly easier to score 45 points in the 4th quarter WHEN YOUR GAMES ARE FIXED!

Sorry if I burst anyone's bubble on that one, but the Washington Generals are not really an "opponent", if you know what I mean. Email me if you want the real scoop on Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and the WWE.
 - The Detour was a choice between Search and Rescue, both of which involved spectacular rides in a helicopter up the Matterhorn...sickeningly beautiful. I was sorry to not be watching this week's episode in HD.

The Search portion of the Detour had the teams using a beeping beacon to find a dummy that was buried somewhere in the snow on the mountainside. Two teams (Zev and Justin and Gary and Mallory) chose this part, and while finding the dummy proved to be quite easy, the digging was the tough part, especially when you could see how windy it was. (I never would have chosen this one to begin with, but the second I saw that wind, I would have been instructing the helicopter pilot to head to the other one.)

Both teams struggled with the digging, with Justin telling Zev to alternately get out of his way and then to get in the hole and dig. Mallory kept flinging snow into her dad's face as she flailed wildly while apparently facing away from the hole, and both teams completed what I would have to consider to be the Worst Rescue Ever. That is, unless you consider ripping the survivor in half as a successful rescue. There's no way either of them should have been able to consider this task "completed" without recovering a full, intact dummy.

Zev and Justin left the Detour in last place, and ruminated on back-to-back Detours that each took them an exceptionally long time to complete. Justin said "I'm not sure what we could have done differently." I know...Pick the other Detour!

The Rescue portion of the Detour had teams rappelling down a crevasse to save a "live" (translation: "not eligible to be ripped in half") survivor. I saw a commercial this week that was teasing this episode, and when they showed the scene of one of the teams descending into the crevasse, the giant graphic on the screen read “Repel” (see image below), which made the English Major in me cringe.
You see, defines the word ‘Rappel’ as “a method of moving down a steep incline or past an overhang by means of a double rope secured above and placed around the body, usually under the left thigh and over the right shoulder, and paid out gradually in the descent.” Whereas the word ‘Repel’ is defined as “to drive or force back.”

So, unless the producers were trying to tell us in this picture that Flight Time was "forcing everybody back", this is a pretty embarrassing mistake on the part of CBS. Shame on you.

But back to the Detour itself. I was surprised that Jen jumped at the chance to go in the helicopter and down the crevasse. She's scared of water, but not heights, depths, or enclosed spaces? Interesting. As Kisha lifted Jen out of the hole, she complained about how much Jen weighed, and I braced myself for the inevitable "She ain't heavy, she's my sister" line that thankfully never came.

Vyxsin had seemingly had enough of Kent's whining, and after putting his hood up for him and wiping his nose (is she his mother or his girlfriend?), she "accidentally" just kept lowering him down the crevasse past the rescue victim. Kent meanwhile, was content to just repeatedly holler the most obvious instructions possible at Vyxsin, including "Down!" "Up!" and "Grab His Hand!" And I had to laugh when they made a joke about the rescue victim and the look on his face seeing them come to save the day...but you wondered why the cab didn't stop for you?
- The Road Block was the return of the Travelocity Gnome, but instead of just carrying a Gnome for no reason other than a Travelocity commercial, this time the teams actually had to make one out of chocolate. Much better than just having to take it to the Pit Stop for absolutely no reason. Remember when they used to have prizes on the bottom of some of the Gnomes? At least then there was a it's just a safety hazard. Think about it, someone is running to the mat at the end of a leg in a footrace, and trips and impales themself on the Gnome. They say all publicity is good publicity, but I have to think that a bloody Gnome hat poking out of someone's chest like a scene from Alien would be bad for business.
- There was some manufactured drama at the Road Block where one team may have taken another's mold. I didn't see that anything like that happened, and didn't feel the need to go back and check. But I have to say that if that would have happened, I'm sure that there would have been a penalty. I mean, if the Globetrotters can accidentally take Ron and Christina's fannypack and incur a penalty, then I'm sure one of the cameras caught Flight Time's mold getting stolen. The fact that there was no penalty shows that there was no theft, despite Big Easy's angry rant.

In the completely unnecessary category, was Kent's trash talking to the camera about Big Easy. 3 thoughts on this: 1) That of course he was saying this to the camera instead of to Big Easy, 2) That Kent's "Word!" and faux gang symbol at the end of his rant was less thug than his threats of violence were intimidating, and 3) That bragging about beating them in the last leg and beating them again was pretty much a guarantee that the Globetrotters would win the leg.

- Kent and Vyxsin left the Road Block in first place, but their inability to read the instructions on the clue (New Viewer Note: when they flash the words "on foot" in red when they show the clue, someone is about to get a penalty) put them in last. The Globetrotters were the first of the teams to reach the mat and be accosted by what appeared to be a drunk St. Bernard (oh come on, you know those dogs get into those neck casks.)
I was shocked to see the way Kent treated Vyxsin at the end of this leg, and while (once again) I appreciate the role that editing plays in this show, there's only so much that can be manufactured. Extra Glitter for this leg or not, Kent was definitely not a Shiny Happy Person, as he claimed to be. Not a good way to go out.

With only 4 teams left and one double-sized episode, Who's your pick to win?I'm going with Kisha and Jen.

Next Week: The Season Finale is a race to the finish in the Florida Keys. 

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