Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter TV Preview

Now that we are approaching the new year we can start to think about the upcoming TV schedule for January and beyond.

One thing I'd like to discuss first is that I get annoyed that the networks have turned TV into a big mess with the scheduling of shows.  I used to be able to count on about 22 episodes of a good show that started in September, took a break in December, and resumed in January.  Now I have to do intense research to figure out when the shows I enjoy will be on and how long they will be on for.  Please just pick the good shows and show them for 22 episodes.

Onto the shows I will be watching in the new year and some recommendations (in order of appearance):

January 8th - Friday - Numb3rs
   This series will be over after this season so if you haven't ever watched this show then now is probably not the time to start.  I'm not a diehard fan but this show has interesting plots and pretty good characters.  If you like crime dramas that wrap up each episode then you'd probably enjoy this.  I like it better than the CSI series because they use math to solve crimes instead of all the forensic stuff.  Just more interesting to me.

January 10th - Sunday - Chuck (normally on Mondays beginning on 1/11)
   Some of the best news TV news i've gotten in the past year was the news that Chuck was being renewed.  Chuck is an incredibly smart and funny hour long comedy.  It premiered on the strength of Heroes (when Heroes was good) and quickly became my preference of the two.  The new season will explore Chuck's life after the intersect.  Hopefully they don't mess up the story lines and do something that will screw up the series.  Stick to what has worked:  a warm hearted and comical Chuck being saved by his two government friends.  This is a must watch.

January 11th - Monday - Heroes
   Ahhh, Heroes.  What do I say?  You've had a good run.  Unfortunately, nothing will ever top your first season.  I think having an ending point (a la Lost) would help the writers keep on a focused path.  I still enjoy the show because I have become attached to the story line and characters.  I always have trouble dropping shows that take a nose dive and I'll probably continue that trend.  But Heroes has definitely moved into the "record and get to it later" group.  I usually wait and watch two weeks of Heroes in a row.  

January 14th - Thursday - Fringe, Grey's Anatomy
   Fringe:  One of my favorite shows.  JJ Abrams has another hit on his hands with Fringe.  The only thing holding it back now is its 9pm Thursday time slot.  Up against strong competition in CSI, Grey's, and The Office/30Rock, Fringe has still been able to pull a good share of the viewers.  I'm assuming that Fox put Fringe here because it wanted to put a great show up against the other heavy hitters.  In the second half of the season, we will see more of the other world, where Peter came from, and we will meet Olivia's stepdad.  Another must watch for anyone who enjoys Lost or X-Files.

   Grey's Anatomy:  Thursday at 9pm does a number on my DVR.  I have to watch The Office and 30 Rock live while I tape Grey's and Fringe.  If I had to drop one, it would be Grey's.  This show falls into the Heroes category with me, but a little higher because it doesn't reach as much as Heroes.  Grey's is like Chinese food.  I feel full so quickly and a half hour later I'm hungry again.  Not a good feeling.  I prefer that a show be engaging enough to keep me interested until next week.  Again, I mostly watch Grey's because I'm a blindly (somewhat stupidly) committed viewer.

January 17th - Sunday - 24 (two day four hour event, normally on Mondays beginning 1/18)
   Jack Bauer just locked me in a basement and tortured me for not putting 24 at the top of the list.  After he finally let me talk, I told him it was just in chronological order.  FOX decided when 24 premiered.  He told me he was going straight to FOX headquarters and to call Chloe because he needed satellite imagery.  24 made a good comeback last year after a disappointing 6th season.  All I know about this season is that it begins at some sort of international conference.  Oh wait.  I also know Jack will do the following in no particular order:  Stab someone with a pen, break out of custody, have a pained emotional look on his face while he thinks about Kim, yell at someone then apologize, and save more than 100,000 lives.  Have fun Jack.

January 21st - Thursday - Burn Notice
   Ok.  This is one you may have not heard of.  Burn Notice is a funnier, smarter, modern MacGuyver.  Jeffrey Donovan is great as Michael Westen, a former CIA agent who has been burned by someone and is trying to get his old job back.  The show mixes a serialized plot with smaller plot that end each episode.  They are half way through the third season but you can jump in right now because of the simple story lines and exciting episodes.  Give it at least three episode if you are going to try.  I started by watching the whole first season on vacation.  Only eight or so episodes - so it wasn't that bad.

February 2nd - Tuesday - Lost
   We will finally close the book on one of the best shows in television history.  Some people lost (no pun intended) interest as the show waded through a messy 3rd and 4th season.  For those who stuck with it, the 5th season was well worth it and we can look forward to more answers in this, the 6th and final season.  If you haven't watched Lost, don't start now.  Wait until summer, get Netflix, and be prepared to be immersed into a world of endless mystery and excitement.  If you already watch Lost, you don't need me to go through all the unanswered questions we have.  We can only hope to get as many answers as possible this season.  Otherwise, there might be a dramatic increase in the number of flights from Sydney to LA.

February 4th - Thursday - Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
   I will have a more in depth preview of this on an upcoming post, but until then you can read the suspected list of contestants here.

March 4th - Thursday - Flash Forward
   I can't believe the show is taking this long off.  They are coming back just before the point in time that everybody "flash forwarded" to.  They will only have so many episodes to wrap up some kind of resolution to the story.  I am starting to grow on this show, but the long break gives me some pause to ABC's commitment.  I don't like to watch a show I know is going to be cancelled.  How good the show is from March to April will determine if it will last or get the axe.  As far as what new seasons would entail, the speculation is that since everybody's consciousness went forward that their future consciousness had to go somewhere else - perhaps to the future again.  If this confuses you, join the club.

April 13th - Tuesday - Glee
   Too bad we have to wait so long for this show to come back.  Thanks a lot American Idol.  Glee left us with a win for New Directions and a major firing at the school.  We also had a love connection.  I won't say everything that happened, because if you haven't seen Glee, now is the time to catch up.  Find full episodes on line and you'll be set by April.  Glee is smart and musical.  Is that possible?  While I assumed that I would not like Glee, as the only musical I've ever been to was an amateur production of Beauty and the Beast (I do have a wife after all) I was actually pleasantly surprised and now look forward to the show each week.

That's it.  What shows will you be watching this winter?  Let me know if there's anything I'm missing.  Maybe I can squeeze in some more shows.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Survivor: This Game Ain't Over Yet

Quote of the Week – “Natalie, all I want is the title of sole survivor.  I will pay you $10,000 for the title.  If Jeff says Russell, you are the sole survivor.  And get it in paper, written down…I’m asking her to ask you” – The Russell to Natalie asking her to ask Jeff to call him the sole survivor.  C’mon The Russell, you make serious cash.  Offer her more.
I’ll start by talking about the final outcome, then continue on to my usual observations.  This one will be bit longer than usual.  Stick with me.
We have finally arrived.  The final episode of a great season of Survivor.  And the winner is…..well you already know.  You watch Survivor.  Natalie won.  The Mighty Russell has fallen.  I will just come out and say it, because I’ve already seen heated debate about it on Dalton Ross’s blog, The Russell really DESERVED to win.  Yes, many will argue that Natalie deserved to win because, guess what, she won.  I respectfully spit in your general direction and call this final tribal council one of the saddest in Survivor history.  Let me explain.
1. Natalie is the first person to be awarded for riding someone else’s coat tails.  All the others in the final who have gotten there “under the radar” were soundly defeated.  This is one rule that wasn’t meant to be broken.
2. Some would argue that Natalie swayed the jury.  The only person who swayed the jury was The Russell.  Of course it was against him.  I really have never seen a more angry jury.  You could see it in their faces every time they walk in for tribal council.  They couldn’t believe that Foa Foa came back from behind and they blamed it all on The Russell.  Instead of respecting him for it, they punished him.
3. Most of the jury continually talked about how the game should be played to win and that they were making moves to win and then did not recognize that in The Russell.
I guess this proves that it doesn’t pay to come from behind if the jury is just going to be pissed about it.  I think everyone is just frustrated that The Russell out smarted and outplayed most of them and they refused to reward him for it.  Some will say that The Russell has planted a “Russell” seed in my head.  Well, maybe he has, but I love it.  The only other person I thought really deserve to win, but didn’t was Ozzy.  But Yul also deserved it, so I was okay with that.  Here’s hoping The Russell will make it far again on Heroes vs. Villians.
Let me know what you thought about the final vote.  Would you give Natalie $1 million?  Would you even give The Russell $1.
Okay, I’m over it.  It’s not like I lost out on $1 million.  Onto to other observations.
I knew that Brett’s luck (or skill, whatever) would run out before he made it to the final, but I expected him to lose the first challenge tonight.  (Which would have changed the game, since The Russell could have brought Jaison and Mic to the final)  He proved me wrong and almost walked away with the million.  I’m sure he was wishing the final challenge would be a race to design the hippest t-shirt after solving a puzzle.
It was funny how Brett went from part of the the power group at the merge to needing to win consecutive immunity challenges to even have a shot to stay in the game.  Looking back, it was quite amazing that Foa Foa was able to come back from that far down.  (Cough, cough.  The Russell should have won)  Good job on their part.
As previously addressed, I’ve never seen a more upset jury across the board.  I think since for the most part, they were all from the same tribe, they all just sat around Ponderosa and talked about how mad they were that they let Foa Foa come back.  And they pinned all their hostility on The Russell.  It was just funny to watch Laura and Erik’s faces whenever they walked into tribal.  The just hated that they weren’t still in the game.  Speaking of being arrogant and prideful.  Brett should design a t-shirt with the different faces of Erik and Laura.  They could at least fill the back of one.
The finale always leaves us with a bit less humor wise because the crazy characters tend to go early.  I want to thank Shambo for sticking around so long and providing us with endless entertainment and confusion.
To keep things from getting too long, I’ll rattle off some one liners.
- Jaison is the most disappointing physical threat ever.  Water polo is obviously not a sport.
- Natalie looked liked an anorexic mosquito before the last breakfast.  Not so much anymore.
- The Russell helped produce the most awkward final victory breakfast ever.  Mick was disappointed in his bedside manner.  Will Coach want to slay The Russell next season?  The answer is yes.
- Shambo never got the memo that you only need a bathing suit while you’re still playing.  You don’t need to wear it to tribal council when you’re on the jury.
- I’ve never liked the burning ritual or whatver they call it, but I think Ben liked it less.  Even Mick couldn’t say anything nice.
- Brett’s question to Mick was weird.  Mick’s answer was even weirder.  What is a bro-date?
- Erik is not cool.  If you want to be an actor, try out for a local play.  Don’t stand up and talk like you vying for an Oscar to the jury and the finalists.  If you know who you’re going to vote for just stay seated please.  Excellent performance at the reunion as well.  Somebody call his agent.
Speaking of the reunion, there was plenty of controversy surrounding The Russell’s game play and not much else.  No love affairs (except for Betsy and Jeff) or violent feuds.  So we’ll move onto a few awards.
The “Have We Met Before?” Award goes to…Kelly.  She actually made it to the jury without talking.  Her long winded speech to Natalie equaled her previous word count.
The “Why Is Nobody Paying Attention to My Hair” Award goes to…Dave Ball.  Yes, Shambo’s mullet is legendary, but Dave sports his own kind of mullet.  Nothing in the front and a hell of a party in the back.
The “I Think I’m Good, But Got the Biggest Blindside” Award goes to…Erik.  I think Erik is more like The Russell than he wants to admit.  He just wasn’t as good.
The “How the Hell Are You a Grandma” Award goes to…Laura.  Laura has either been under the knife or missed home ec class for baby doctor appointments.  I’d like to see her genealogy.
Finally, I’d say congratulations to Natalie, but as you may have guessed, I don’t really want to.
Thanks for sticking through this extended post.  Looking forward to February and enjoying another season of Survivor.
Comment away.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Survivor: Two Brains Are Better Than One

Day: 37
Survivors Remaining: 5
Reward Challenge Winner:  The Russell, Jaison, Shambo
Immunity Challenge Winner: Brett
Survivor Voted Off:  Shambo
My Picks Remaining:  Brett
Jury:  Erik, Kelly, Laura, John, Dave Ball, Monica, Shambo

Quote of the Week:  ”She should shave that whole head.  Mullet went out in the 70’s.  It looks terrible. Her hair is funky.  That’s the way she sneaks food.  She puts it in her hair.  Nobody knows.  Nobody can see it.  She puts bananas in there and pieces of coconuts.  It’s nasty.”  - The Russell describing his distaste for Shambo’s hair amongst other things.
May we please observe a moment of silence after the loss of one of the greatest characters in Survivor history:  Shambo’s mullet.  Although the mullet started out playing the game by flying under the radar, it really tried to make a bold play to stay in the game last night.  First, trying to foster a relationship with Brett by allowing him to run his fingers through its thick locks. Which, by the way, made me throw up in my mouth a little.  Then it turned to The Russell and pleaded for a shower.  The Russell would have none of it though.  His mind was made up to eliminate (shave) the mullet once and for all.  So as we bid adieu to Shambo’s mullet, we still look forward to its triumphant return on the jury.
In hindsight, I should have seen the Shambo elimination coming after the most of the show was Shambo (and her mullett) centric.  How much did the staff pay Probst to directly inquire about her mullet.  1986 Shambo…wow…that is a real commitment.  I wonder what else she has kept since 1986.  I can’t believe she flipped on Galu after being loyal to that hair for twenty some years.
This is probably The Russell’s first emotional decision in awhile.  I think he would have been better off in the long term voting Mick out, but he really just couldn’t stand Shambo.  He actually laid out the positives and negatives of voting either one out fairly well.  The only reason to keep Mick around is in hopes that he beats Brett in the immunity challenge.  This season is another when there hasn’t been one dominant or a couple dominant survivors in the challenges.  Brett has won a few in a row, but he has hardly been the dominant player ala Ozzy or Terry.  All that to say I don’t think Brett has what it takes to win out the immunity challenges.  Although he has been one of my picks since the beginning, he is probably gone this week.
Speaking of Brett going home,  I think we all know who is going to miss him most.  Natalie was swooning over Brett most of the episode.  From their Bible memory verse session to their prayer vigil at the reward challenge.  (Don’t pray to God to win a game.  I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care if you win.  He cares how you play the game, right?)  What happens at Ponderosa (the camp where the jury members stay) if Natalie and Brett are there at the same time?  Better question:  Which is the better Survivor couple – The Russell and Shambo or Brett and Natalie.
A few last thoughts:
- A very hard immunity challenge.  I hate counting things.  I thought Natalie had the advantage counting pigs.  Guess not.
- Do you think the Samoan chief had any idea what Shambo was saying.  At least her hair matched theirs.
- The Russell keeps his hidden immunity idol.  I wonder how that will play with jury.  How bad would that have been if he went home?
The finale is Sunday for those who live under a rock.  Next recap will be a little longer with some season long awards given to various survivors.  Any guesses what the topics will be at the reunion?  Probst always asks the penetrating questions – at least to the ones we remember.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Survivor: Damage Control

Day: 31,33
Survivors Remaining: 6
Reward Challenge Winner: No one.  Double elimination night
Immunity Challenge Winner: Jaison, Brett
Voted Off: Dave Ball, Monica
My Picks Still Remaining: Brett
Jury: Erik, Kelly, Laura, John, Dave Ball, Monica
Quote of the Week:  "I'm the Sham with the plan.  It's hard to compete with me." - Shambo, which is hilarious considering she has no idea what goes on in the game outside of the visions in her head.
Once again Galu got bitch slapped around by the former members of Foa Foa last night.  It was a modified double elimination episode in which they basically jammed two episodes into one hour.  It turned out to be an unsurprising outcome with Dave Ball and Monica being shipped off to the jury, but they seem to manage to find a way to draw suspense out.  The move of the night was clearly The Russell holding onto the immunity idol.  The Russell has got to have the largest set of brass balls on the island to hold onto that idol.  Of course we all would have called him an idiot if he pulled an Ozzy and didn't play it and got voted off.  But regardless of the outcome, The Russell really had to sack up to to keep the idol around his neck and risk going home.  I wasn't really that surprised that he took it out and put it around his neck.  Everybody else knew he had the idol except Shambo and no one has ever accused her of over analyzing anything.  She might be surprised if she walked past a mirror.  

Aside from The Russell keeping his immunity idol, I think he had a poor episode strategically.  It is funny to watch Survivor when it gets down to 6-7 people.  Everyone starts to get major paranoia.  In some cases it might protect you, in other cases it might cause others to distrust you.  The Russell could have just played it smooth and voted out Dave Ball and Monica the easy way by just assuming they would vote them out, confirm it with the others, and vote.  Instead, first, he teases Dave Ball by leading him to believe they might vote for Shambo, and then turns it around.  Then, before the second vote, he goes on a witch hunt to find out who spilled the beans that he (allegedly) make 2 million a year.  That just made him look super paranoid and made it seem like he is being more underhanded than even The Russell is being.  And teasing Dave Ball was just not smart.  Now, as far as Dave Ball is concerned, the decision to vote him off was all The Russell's decision.  Not a great way to garner jury support.  

Brett finally got more camera time than 2 minutes an episode.  He is a bit late to the strategy game and he will most likely be the next voted out.  He would undoubtedly gain the most support from the jury at this point - especially if he made it to the finals against the remaining Foa Foa.  I picked him to win from the beginning and I'm sure he would put the million to good use in his T-shirt design business, but I doubt he will make it far enough to find out.  

The Shambonator continued to distinguish herself as the most clueless Survivor to make it past the merge.  She just really has no idea how to strategize in the game.  Unless her strategy is to work really hard, act crazy, and vote for whoever the hell the she feels like.  Maybe she is an undercover genius and I will be proven wrong, but she is clearly being kept around because she just is not a threat to flip for strategic reasons.  Just don't accuse hr of losing your canteen.   

Natalie was caught literally airing out her dirty (or possibly freshly washed) out to dry.  She must have any extra pair of spankies out there.  The Russell seemed unusually excited to talk with her.

The rest of the bunch is just trying to figure out how to make sure The Russell does not make it to the finals, although I honestly wouldn't mind going against him in front of the jury.  I don't think they will succeed though.  After the power swung to Foa Foa I predicted the final three would be Natalie, Shambo, and The Russell and I think that will still hold true despite the previews suggesting that The Russell and Jaison form a mini-alliance.  The Russell probably doesn't see Jaison, Natalie, or Shambo as a threat in front of the jury.  

Only two episodes left in this epic season.  So we will just sit back, relax, and sew his Survivor love into all of our hearts.  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Survivor: Off With Their Heads!

Day: 30
Survivors Remaining: 8
Reward Challenge Winner: No one – Survivor auction.  Natalie, Mick, and Jaison made the most of their money
Immunity Challenge Winner: Jaison
Voted Off: John
My Picks Still Remaining: Brett
Jury: Erik, Kelly, Laura, John

Quote of the Week: “We’re gonna have to have you guys for lunch today.  I just wanted to let you know okay.  Well, I’ll talk to you in Heaven when I go to Heaven.  Okay.  Bye chickens.” – Shambo to her beloved chickens before she boiled them thus leading to an emotional downward spiral for Shambo.
Blindside after blindside after blindside.  Everyone on the jury so far went into tribal council thinking they’d be walking back to camp that night.  John really never saw it coming and looked as if he had just been told that rocket scientists only get paid as much as a janitor.  As I was watching the tribal council unfold I was trying to count votes for a potential jury. All I could come up with is that everyone on the jury is pissed that they are sitting there and are angry at most people still in the game.  It is really truly amazing that four weeks ago there were 8 Galu tribe members and 4 Foa Foa members.  Now there are still 4 Foa Foa members and only 4 Galu still left.  That is truly an amzing turn around for a tribe so far down.
This show was a Shambo-centric episode and featured several occurrences of crazy Shambo ramblings.  From “lets call it a bad case of PMS” to I have “clairvoyant dreams” she really stole the show tonight.  Before we get to that, we should take a step back and appreciate how far she has made it.  She played the role of the elder women this season which typically means you get voted off first unless somebody else is extremely annoying.  She is now in the top eight and looks to be safe for at least a few more votes as most would probably love to take her to the final.
Despite this accomplishment, she is a total loose cannon.  Again, editing does play a role, but she seems to find the smallest infraction by somebody and turn it into a personal vendetta.  I mean, if somebody told me how to boil my dead chicken, I’d slap their face, right?  No, not really.  First Laura accuses her of moving a canteen and then Dave has the nerve to question Shambo’s cooking skills.  I really do believe she had a weird, complicated relationship with those damn chickens.  I loved her little heart to heart with the chickens before Mick chopped their heads off.  One lesson we learn from this, if we didn’t already know, is you do not cross Shambo or that day might be your last.
Strategically, I probably would have sided with Jaison when it came to keeping Shambo in the dark.  I believe The Russell (side note: it took me until the 4th paragraph to get to The Russell, which tells you what the episode was like) could have talked her down from the ledge and gotten her to vote for John, or at least know that she could vote symbolically for Dave, but that John was going to go.  The Russell better hope that her angry eyes do not fall on him next or he will have more scrambling to do.
The Russell needs to slow his roll or he is going to lose the jury votes.  This was really his first direct betrayal, although he has had his hand in all the votes.  He really lied straight to john’s face and knew he was lying the whole time.  John’s after show interview seemed to suggest he thought that Galu members wanted him out, but after he thinks about it for awhile, he will figure out that The Russell put him on the chopping block.  He is a rocket scientist after all.
Only eight left and I think my prediction of the final three is looking pretty good, but I am prepared to expect the unexpected from this season.  Feel free to comment and express your humble opinion.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Survivor 20 News

This season of Survivor has been one of the best in quite a while, (immunity idol galore, multiple blind sides, crazy characters, etc.) but we can still look forward to what is to come in the beloved Survivor series.
This has been rumored and reported by several sources over the past few months and I think it is time we address the news.
The next season of Survivor will be another all-star season and will consist of former survivors from as far back as season 2 (Australia).  The tribes will most likely be split into heroes and villains – which should make for an interesting merge.
According to various sources the cast of a former survivors will prove to provide plenty of drama and should be good follow up from the other all-star seasons.
Here is a list of probable cast members:
Rob Mariano (Boston Rob) – Marquesas/All-Stars 1
Rupert Boneham – Pearl Islands
Tom Westman – Palau
James Clement – China/Fans v. Favorites
“Coach” Wade – Tocatins
Tyson Apostol – Tocantins
Russell Hantz – Samoa
Randy Bailey – Gabon
Colby Donaldson – Australia/All-Stars 1
JT Thomas – Tocantins
Jerri Manthery – Australia/All-Stars 1
Danielle DiLorenzo – Exile Island
Parvati Shallow – Cook Islands/Fans v. Favorites
Candice Woodcock – Cook Islands
Amanada Kimmel – China/Fans v. Favorites
Courtney Yates – China
Sandra Diaz-Twine – Palau
Jessica “Sugar” Kiper – Gabon

Stephanie Lagrossa – Palau/Guatemala
Cirie Fields – Exile Island/Fans v. Favorites
A pretty interesting list, especially considering several of the survivors will be on their third season.
Others are rumored and I believe this news initally began to leak when Richard Hatch (yes – big, gay, naked Richard Hatch) petitioned a judge to release him from house arrest to compete on this season.  He apparently got denied.
I will preview the upcoming season at some point later on and hopefully the cast will be completely confirmed by then.  I think we learned this season tat new faces can be extremely entertaining, but it’s always nice to some familiar faces up to their old tricks.