Monthly Archives: December 2007

TAR 12: Episode 8

It was a dark day for The Amazing Race’s resident goths, as Kynt & Vyxsin were eliminated — thanks largely to a poor execution of the right strategy.

The couple entered this leg with a disadvantage looming. At some point, they’d have to complete an additional task (called a Speed Bump), as a penalty for finishing last on the previous, non-elimination episode.

But things started off well, as Kynt & Vyxsin wound up alone on the first flight to arrive in Mumbai, India from Florence, Italy. However, all five of the remaining teams bunched up when they had to wait overnight to retrieve the next clue from a newsstand.

The newsstand clue directed most of the teams to their Detour clue. But when Kynt & Vyxsin arrived there, they had an additional cluebox waiting: the Speed Bump. The goths had to learn and execute a number of progressively more difficult yoga moves before they could move on.

They finished that task quickly, so quickly in fact that they reached the a flower-stringing Detour to find Nate & Jen bickering their way through the task.

By that time, TK & Rachel (but mostly Rachel) had already finished stringing flowers and had moved on to find their next clue. And elsewhere, Nick & Don beat Ronald & Christina at the other Detour task: properly pasting a large, 6-panel movie poster onto a wall. The detail oriented task brought out the worst in Ron — who whined at his daughter and the task’s judge — and it was up to Christina to finish the task by herself.

Nate & Jen finished stringing flowers moments before Kynt & Vyxsin, but the goths were able to reach the next clue box first. There they found an unused U-Turn, which was their best chance to make sure they stayed in the game. The U-Turn allows one couple to force another couple (who must be behind them at this point) to go back and complete the Detour they chose not to do.

At this point, Kynt & Vyxsin correctly deduced that using the U-Turn could be essential to keeping them in the race. Standing on the U-Turn mat, Vyxsin said, "Well, we don’t know who’s behind us, except maybe Nate & Jen are behind us. We could try to U-Turn them in case they’re behind us."

It was the right plan. Even if they couldn’t be sure that Nate & Jen were behind them (and they were), that was the only other team the goths had seen since their Speed Bump.

But then Kynt made a fatal, faulty assumption: "But we could U-Turn somebody and make sure we sink ’em. Someone we know is behind us, like Gramps [Don] & Nick."

Unfortunately, Don & Nick were well ahead of the goths by this point. In fact TK & Rachel, Nick & Don, and Ron & Christina were all at (or on their way to) the Pit Stop by this time.

But Vyxsin didn’t fight Kynt as he stuck Nick & Don’s picture to the U-Turn sign, effectively sealing their doom. Nate and Jen soon arrived at the U-Turn clue, and were then off to the Roadblock.

It was neck and neck as Kynt and Jen completed the Roadblock for their respective teams. And it seemed as though the goths might have a chance when Jen delivered propane tanks to her second apartment, only to realize that she hadn’t gotten a receipt from her first delivery.

But then Kynt left receipts behind at both delivery locations, and, despite Jen’s near hysterics in the taxi on the way to the Pit Stop, there was no doubt that the goths were out.

At the Pit Stop, Phil Keoghan paid Kynt & Vyxsin a compliment that appeared to soften their elimination somewhat: "I would have to give you the award for the most fashionable couple ever on The Amazing Race." Kynt looked overjoyed as he high-fived Vyxsin and said, "See, we won something!"

With my favorite team now gone, I’m getting a bad feeling about the rest of the season. It’s sad to see Ronald revert back to demeaning his daughter, Christina, and it makes them hard to watch. And, in the preview for next week’s episode, Don looks like he’s having trouble coping with the physical demands of the race, making the other underdog team a longshot to win.

TK & Rachel’s strong performance this week makes me fear that they could be this season’s ultimate winners, and I would hate that. TK’s laid back hippie exterior masks an intense and totally un-fun core, and I’d rather not hear him give a b.s. victory speech about how they won by keeping things mellow and staying relaxed.

My last, best hope for a satisfying conclusion to the season lies on the unstable shoulders of Nate & Jen. Their hyperbolic expressions of hatred for one another are things of beauty, especially since the negative feelings seem to disappear as soon as the couple has a chance to calm down.

I like Nate & Jen because I don’t believe they mean what they say when they get stressed and become bickering idiots, so it’s easy to laugh them off. TK has been mean and condescending to Rachel on a few occasions, and I believe that he’s meant every word of it. For that reason alone, I’d rather see Nate & Jen take home the $1 million.

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TAR 12: Episode 7

Just about everything went wrong for TK & Rachel on this leg of The Amazing Race, but they still managed to avoid finishing last. It may not have mattered much, anyway, since this week’s episode was a non-elimination leg.

Teams left Croatia for Ancona, Italy, where they had two choices as to how to drive to the town of Empoli: via Rome or through Firenze.

Nick & Don, Ron & Christina, and Kynt & Vyxsin took the latter route. When the three teams reached the highway exit for Firenze, they found the road blocked for construction, forcing them to either take a circuitous detour or wait for the road to open in the morning.

Jen & Nate had taken the alternate route through Rome, and they got to the next clue several hours before 7am, when the next location opened up for the day. TK & Rachel would’ve been right behind them, had they not had to double back after leaving their clue at a cafe.

But the hippies made it to Empoli just before the grounds opened up. The two lead teams ignored the Fast Forward (the only one on the race) and set out to complete the Roadblock: flying in an ultralight to look for the location of their next clue, which was written somewhere in a field.

Nick & Don just as Nate and TK were taking to the air. The grandfather & grandson decided to complete the Fast Forward, and they drove to a nearby town to get tattooed with the initials FF on their arms, before heading to the leg’s Pit Stop.

Nick & Don showed their inked guns to Phil Keoghan at the Boboli Gardens Pit Stop in Florence. For finishing in first place, they won a vacation to a spa in Cancun. Romantic!

Meanwhile, Nate soon succeeded in finding the name of the town where their next clue was: Vinci. TK returned after 30 minutes to refuel, then headed back up into the air as Ron & Christina arrived. Christina found the clue quickly, as TK failed and had to refuel again.

Even Vyxsin, who’d gotten herself and Kynt lost for hours before arriving at the airfield, was able to find the word "Vinci" in the field before TK did — but only by a few minutes.

In Vinci, teams had the Detour options of recreating a crane designed by Leonardo da Vinci or learning a traditional flag waving/tossing routine. Jen & Nate went for the flags, and they were able to complete it relatively easily. The dating duo finished in second place, followed by Ron & Christina, who’d also chosen the flags.

In Vinci, Kynt & Vyxsin got lost again. Kynt tried to take control of the situation by taking over driving duties, even though Vyxsin had more experience driving a manual transmission car. Consequently, Kynt wore out the clutch, and the goths had to run to the site of the flag Detour, while a new car was brought to replace their broken one.

This gave TK & Rachel enough time to catch up. The hippies chose to build the crane, and they finished before the goths had even arrived at the flag Detour. Despite getting a flat tire on the way to the Pit Stop, TK & Rachel finished in fourth.

Kynt & Vyxsin reached the Pit Stop and learned that this was one of two non-elimination legs on the race — meaning Nick & Don tattoos gave them a temporary lead and a trip to Cancun, but little else (like, say, another team getting eliminated) in the grand scheme of the Race.

At some point during the next leg of the race, Kynt & Vyxsin will encounter a Speed Bump, which is a task only they will have to complete, in addition to any Detours and Roadblocks. The Speed Bump could cost them enough time to knock them out of the race permanently.

Next week, it looks like Ron reverts to his old ways and starts yelling at Christina again.

Ox Notes: December 21, 2007

As strike activities wind down for the holidays, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they will begin producing new episodes for Comedy Central on January 7. Working without writers should be especially challenging for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, given that each show typically devotes only one segment of each episode to interviews.

ABC shifted the air date of its final original episode of Grey’s Anatomy to January 10, and NBC almost immediately moved the premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice back to January 3.

USA Today talked with Dancing with the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy about the show he’s choreographing in Las Vegas.

On the topic of DwtS, I think NBC White House correspondent and occasional Today Show host David Gregory would make a fine contestant for Season 6.

Yahoo! has a slide show of the Top 10 DVR’d TV Shows of 2007. Number 4 on the list is Heroes, and Cracked.com examined the 10 Worst Powers to Have on Heroes. Here’s their take on Super Hearing: "Who wouldn’t want to hear everything so sensitively that the sound of a pin dropping is the aural equivalent of the International Space Station falling out of orbit and crash landing 2 feet away from your ear drum?"

I’ll be posting sporadically for the rest of 2007, as Greg and I use our vacation time for some marathon video gaming sessions (First up is Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 on the PS2, if you were wondering).

To get you in a holiday mood, here’s a link to 30 Years of LucasFilm Christmas Cards. Merry Christmas!

Ox Notes: December 20, 2007

Yesterday, one of Cheryl Burke’s pals let us know that the two-time champ will rejoin the Dancing with the Stars Tour on Friday. And TV Guide checked in with Marie Osmond, who brought all eight of her kids with her on the tour.

On the DwtS 6 rumor front, Katie Holmes is reportedly desperate to be on the show — enlisting Melanie Brown’s help in meeting the show’s producers and hiring her own dance coach — and Tom Cruise is pissed about it. Break free, Katie! You can do it!

For those of you living in the San Ramon, California area, you can meet DwtS pros Derek Hough and Mark Ballas at a Toys for Tots drive on Saturday.

And fans of So You Think You Can Dance who live near Stamford, Connecticut, might want to check out a special ballroom show called "Rhythm of Love" on Friday or Saturday night. Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis will be dancing, along with a number of other well-known professional ballroom couples.

The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were announced today, with the winners to be revealed on January 27.

The People’s Choice Awards scrapped its plans for a red carpet presentation ceremony, but CBS will go ahead with its broadcast of the show on January 8, featuring pre-taped clips of winners receiving their awards.

After the truth about her job situation came out, Survivor: China’s ex-lunchlady, Denise Martin, has asked that Mark Burnett donate the $50,000 he was going to give to her to the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation instead.

USA network has given the axe to The 4400 and The Dead Zone, while AMC has green lit several new original series, hoping to capitalize on the success of Mad Men.

NBC has given Cashmere Mafia and Celebrity Apprentice new premiere dates.

The January 2 episode of Gossip Girl will feature a couple of songs by The Filthy Youth, a band fronted by Ed Westwick, who plays Chuck Bass on the show. People.com posted one of the songs from the episode, and the tune just didn’t grab me. The American accent Westwick puts on for Gossip Girl sounds more believable than his actual British accent.

*Thanks for the information about Tony & Elena’s workshop and lecture, Deb. Since the full web address didn’t fit in the comment box, here’s the link to info about the NDCA 60th Gala Show for anyone who may be interested.

 

Ox Notes: December 19, 2007

The Dancing with the Stars Tour has lost yet another dancer, although perhaps only temporarily. Cheryl Burke flew home today to meet with doctors about a possible case of appendicitis.

Karina Smirnoff, who’s filling in as Drew Lachey’s partner on the tour while Cheryl recovers, gave an entire interview to E! about boyfriend Mario Lopez’s butt. (The linked article includes a picture that may not be safe for work).

In news of other DwtS vets, Apolo Anton Ohno returns to the speed skating track this weekend in an attempt to make the U.S. World Cup team. And Cameron Mathison let OK! tag along as he distributed Toys for Tots.

If you think your steps are up to snuff, Fox has announced the six cities that will host tryouts for the next season of So You Think You Can Dance: Dallas, TX; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; and Salt Lake City, UT.

Jimmy Kimmel has announced that his show will return with new episodes on January 2, the same night that Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien make their returns.

In March, NBC is planning on bringing over Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Monk, and Psych from the USA network.

Hollywood studios seem to be under the impression that, if the strike lasts a long time, TV viewers will flee their couches, preferring instead to sit at a desk in front of a small screen and watch Internet-based programs. I think the studios are undervaluing DVDs, video games, and books, not to mention comfy sofas.

Ahead of tonight’s new episode of Project Runway, here’s an interview with Jack and two with Steven, from People and TV Guide.

In the TV Guide interview, Steven references his current place of employment: the Museum of Science and Industry. If you’re ever looking for someplace in Chicago to entertain kids between the ages of 6 and 12, this is it. And their annual "Christmas Around the World" display is always pretty.

Finally, I confess to finding the sequence of headlines at People’s website particularly funny today. Near the top of the page: "Britney’s Teen Sister Jamie Lynn Spears Pregnant." Further down the page: "Lynne Spears’s Parenting Book ‘Delayed Indefinitely’."

Ox Notes: December 18, 2007

Survivor: China’s resident lunchlady, Denise Martin, got herself into a pickle when she said during Sunday night’s Reunion Show that the school where she works forced her to take a job as a janitor, lest she prove distracting to the students behind the lunch counter. MOIB reader Mandy posted a link to an excerpt of a statement from the school district’s superintendent, claiming that Denise had asked for the janitor position before she went on the show.

Julie Chen interviewed both Denise and the superintendent for CBS News, and the superintendent clarified that Denise applied for the higher paying janitorial position in January. Denise said that, when she returned from filming Survivor, she asked for her old job back but didn’t get it. The superintendent said that this was news to her, and that the lunchlady position had already been filled, anyway.

Near the end of the interview, Julie Chen asked Denise if she was still going to take the $50,000 Mark Burnett offered her. Denise didn’t say no: "I did not do this for myself. I’ve done this for my family. I’ve done this for my town."

Reality News Online has interviews with the three Survivor: China finalists. Todd seems bitter toward Amanda, now that he’s seen the show and realized that she may have outplayed him prior to the final Tribal Council. And Amanda still sounds exhausted.

Courtney gave the best interview of the three, showing a savvy understanding of the game, for someone who’d never watched Survivor before appearing on it. She said that the events that transpired at the Reunion Show validated the concerns she had about going up against Denise at the end: "She didn’t even have to make it to the final three. She still won the jury of Mark Burnett."

MOIB reader Sande emailed me the good news that BBC America will rebroadcast Dancing with the Stars Season 2 starting on January 6. I’ll need to upgrade my cable package if I want to see Tia Carrere & Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s smoldering Tango again.

In strike news, the WGA announced that its members won’t be writing for any of the upcoming awards shows. And Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien announced that they will be returning to the air without writers on January 2. Since they’re both WGA members, Leno and O’Brien won’t even be able to write material for themselves. O’Brien warns fans of his show: "In moments it may very well be terrible."

The LAist interviewed Joel McHale, host of The Soup. McHale says he doesn’t see much of his "half-deity" E! coworker, Ryan Seacrest: "The only way I can communicate with him is by praying." But McHale says they are trying to get cute little "Dancing Nathaniel" to appear in person on an episode of The Soup:

Ox Notes: December 17, 2007

NBC and ABC announced their winter schedules on Friday. ABC has moved Lost into Grey’s Anatomy’s Thursday night time slot, where it will face off against The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. The sixth season of Dancing with the Stars premieres on March 17.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check TV Guide’s Strike Chart to see how many episodes your favorite shows have left, if any.

Fans of DwtS will want to tune in to the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade on December 25 at 10 a.m. ET on ABC. The opening act will be a Tony Dovolani-choreographed dance number starring Helio Castroneves, Julianne Hough, Sabrina Bryan, Mark Ballas, Joey Fatone, Kym Johnson, Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke.

In other Lachey family news, Nick Lachey’s new show, Clash of the Choirs, debuts on NBC tonight. Nick seems pleased with his group of singers in this interview, but I’m skeptical since the most qualified celebrity choir director decided to name her group "The Rainbow Boom-Boom Patti LaBelle Choir."

Survivor: China’s Peih-Gee told People that she lost approximately 30 pounds while on the show. The next season — Survivor: Micronesia — will feature a team of All-Stars competing against a team of new cast members.

This summer could bring a whole new set of problems for the TV industry if the members of the Screen Actors Guild decide to stage their own strike.

There may be one sign of progress in the writers strike: the WGA has agreed to negotiate directly with David Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, meaning that Letterman’s show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson might be back on the air sooner than expected.