Whatever doesn't deafen you makes you stronger: Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang, Mark Lisanti, and Emily Yoshida have returned, bowed but not broken, to tackle another season of American Idol. They don't think they can make it, and with the judging panel in crisis, they may never have that recipe again.
Is there any way Angie doesn't win this? She got not one but two "In It to Win It"s from Randy Jackson last night.
Yoshida: Hey, Mark. While I won’t say that getting an “In It to Win It” from Randy is NOT a meaningful thing, I’d like to also point out that Randy whipped out a new catchphrase last night, and Angie was not at the receiving end of it. “Ten out of 10 out of 10.” Think about that for a second. No, really. Try to picture it in your mind.
Before settling in for a weekend spent watching Hemlock Grove, I read the New York Times's lukewarm review, which called it “a hybrid of Twin Peaks ... and CW teenage gothic” before going on to refer to its pace as pokey. This did not bode well, and I wandered into the Grove with adjusted expectations. Prior to reading the review, which was actually one of the more generous accounts of Hemlock Grove, I was psyching myself up for a highly enjoyable experience: how much would I have loved to permanently disfigure my sofa with my body’s imprint after a zillion hours spent consuming American Horror Story all at once? So much! How good was that teaser of the werewolf transformation? Pretty good! How long ago did Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II come out? Long enough that we’re over it now!
"If your limbs begin dissolving in the water that you tread, all surroundings are evolving in the stream that clears your head" —The 13th Floor Elevators ("Slip Inside This House," winter of 1967)
The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was a resort town famed for its natural hot springs and thermal spas. Doctors prescribed trips to the Hierapolis baths for their sick patients, and the geothermal waters were believed to have sacred healing powers. The city's great Roman baths were a series of giant hot tubs in a warm setting, which also made it a popular retirement destination. Earlier this month a team of archaeologists announced that they had found the legendary Greco-Roman "gate to hell" in Turkey known as "Pluto's Gate" at the former site of Hierapolis. It was a shrine to Pluto, the god of the underworld, built on top of a cave belching toxic fumes. Plutonian priests once provided birds for visitors to toss into the cave's opening and watch as they died in flight. The cave itself was only big enough for one person to descend the stairs, leading them into an alcove with suffocating carbon dioxide streaming out from a crevice. Death set in as the lungs filled up.
Ava chose to shoot Delroy and, in the moment, it seemed the right thing to do. But over time, that decision has caught up with her, and she’s run out of options. She’s hauled off to jail shortly before the end of “Ghosts,” and it seems unlikely she’ll be getting out anytime soon. Similarly, Raylan chooses to go after Nicky Augustine, though he at least follows the letter, if not the spirit, of the law when it comes to what Art told him to do. To catch up to Augustine, he needs Boyd, and because he takes Boyd, Boyd’s not present when Ava’s arrested, meaning the prospect of Boyd behind bars — one Raylan has toyed with from time to time — won’t come to fruition just yet. For Boyd’s part, he chose to make a play to expand his business, only to be beaten down at every turn, finally reduced to playing lapdog to Wynn Duffy, just as he hoped not to do. And Augustine chose to disregard Raylan’s offer as a bluff, then got himself killed for it because he didn’t understand just what the marshal was up to.
The fourth season of Worst Cooks in America was only seven episodes long, but it felt much longer. Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-off, at six episodes, is a bite-size mushroom quiche at a cocktail party compared to this show, which feels like you're being made at gunpoint to try to finish every dish on the Cheesecake Factory's 30-page menu. And the person forcing you to do it puts the barrel of the gun in your mouth, which is frightening but also makes it extremely difficult to chew, so you keep hitting your teeth on the metal of the gun and you kind of have to just gum the food into mush with your left molars and sometimes food falls out of your mouth, because you can't close your lips, but the person doesn't let you off the hook and you also have to eat the food that falls. Last night's finale was the food that falls.
With only four contestants left, Worst Cooks in America is a different show. Last week the judges eliminated Carla and Michael, cooks with two of the clearest gimmicks: Wanna-Lay-Bobby-Flay and Bow-Tie-Accounting-Dork. With their dismissal, all that's left is to watch the most capable cooks compete, though that distinction is profoundly relative. On other cooking reality shows, there is a drama inherent to having a whole pickup truck full of contestants running around your kitchen: Some people don't get along, some people get along too well, a few have no business competing but look interesting on television while doing it. Then, as the field narrows, that particular drama flakes away and is replaced by the drama of watching only the most skilled cooks competing. These are people at the top of their field crafting works of art. That is not the case here. Now that the ballerina and the frat guy and the chiropractor with the sex dungeon are gone, all that's left is to watch four miserable home cooks struggle and get things wrong. I expected to be let down. Instead, the increased screen time exploded these remaining four contestants from sound bites and punchlines into real people, people with families and human struggles who want to be better providers, and I also cried twice. I'm an old softie.
This is the last episode of the third season of Pretty Little Liars, the season that sent the show from popular fad to mini–cultural phenomenon. During this season, real-life Aria graced the cover of Cosmopolitan, real-life Hanna starred in the future cult classic Spring Breakers, and The Atlantic wrote a piece about how the show "reinvented the slasher." Great strides for something that once wasn't even the most popular show on ABC Family.
But this episode also represents the end of something else. These recaps.
It's finally here. The ABC show of the late-winter/early-spring/St. Patrick's Day–to–Memorial Day corridor we've all been waiting on.
Rumored by some as a last-minute addition to President Obama's American Jobs Act, Splash is an elimination reality show featuring 10 people of varying levels of celebrity and employment that centers on mastering the art of the high dive.
If, like me, you’ve watched your share of traffic-accident-bad Lifetime movies, then I bet you too have longed for a wandering zombie to spice up those hackneyed SWF plots and excessive use of Aaron Spelling children. Well, this week’s Walking Dead episode "Prey," a.k.a. Mother, Why Did I Sleep With Danger?" was the answer to those childhood prayers. But be careful what you wish for because the TWD writing staff threw my last recap’s final words back at me. I asked for Andrea, and boy, I got her.
The show was pretty much All About Andrea, the show’s hardy ex-ACLU lawyer who gets as much love from Walking Dead fans as a real ACLU lawyer does at a Southern Sheriff’s conference. No character since Dale has seemed a choicer morsel of corpse kibble, with that golden hair the waxen color of zombie floss, and credulous eyes shooting skyward whenever a hunky psychopath tells her gullible is written in the clouds. It’s not just that her taste in men is worse than a small town beauty queen’s, from her suicide pact with Jenner in Season 1 to bedding Shane the instant he went Lord of the Flies to sticking it out with the world’s worst OkCupid match, the Governor. It’s that Andrea, in all her eye-rolling, zombie-filleting, needy-sarcasm glory, is the most frustrating character on TWD. She has such potential: She’s exactly the smug yuppie anyone would love to watch get fire-baptized by the Libertarian wet dream that is post-zombie Georgia. She’s become a card-carrying NRA member, made besties with everyone’s favorite katana artist, Michonne. And yet somehow, time after time, that exasperating eyebrow arch of hers makes me cringe.
With The Bachelor finale this week, you would assume Sean The Boring Bachelor’s big decision would be the lead of this column. I mean, it has to be, right? What could possibly have happened in reality TV that would top Sean The Boring Bachelor finally choosing his partner for life/three more Us Weekly covers? What human act could be more significant than pure ForeverLove? Only one human act can trump ForeverLove, and that act is ... a back rub.
Kim goes to get something called a "blood facial" from, I don't know, the vampire doctor, I guess? "I like anything that makes you look and feel youthful," she says, and while she doesn't add "especially if it also seems like something a witch would do," it's sort of implied. Shit gets real Cronenbergian real fast. The doctor draws Kim's blood, centrifuges out the platelets, and then re-injects them into her face with a device that we're told has nine tiny electric needles in it. BLOOD FACIAL, America. Celebrities: They're just like us! Kim's face is a mask of tiny blood drops and also agony. She vows never to get a face-lift if it hurts like this. I would like that in writing. Nothing about this sequence is surprising except the fact that Kim's using her own blood and not poor people's.
After I finished taking my SNL notes but before I sat down to write this recap, I decided to take the temperature on Justin Timberlake’s fifth ride on the host pony and check in with some of the other media responses to last weekend’s show. Despite theglowingtweets and my own enjoyment of this episode, some of the reviews were lukewarmat best.
Maybe people have reached the JT hype-saturation point? That’s understandable. I think that one of the reasons I loved this episode was the fact that Timberlake is the kind of performer you don’t have to worry about. As is the case with many vets, but particularly one who’s still in the golden career bubble of relevancy, you’re able to put aside any concerns about sweat stains, stutter fumbles, and any kind of projected post-one-a.m. anxiety attack that you imagine he or she will experience when thinking back on a particularly bad sketch. You can relax.
This week, it was just me and Grandma. No friends. No wife. Just us. Grandma was fired up — taking her position on the couch around 7:15 p.m. Around 8:15, she grabbed her cane and scrambled to the back of the house in a panic, thinking that we had missed the first 15 minutes. When I explained to her that we were recording the show, she gave me a look that said, “I don’t care if you are recording it, The Bachelor is on, and we’re watching it now.”
Well, Grandma was right. Women Tell All shows are always kind of a drag — the only real joy is in evaluating exactly what type of “I just got dumped on national TV so I need to change up my look” adjustments the women made to their hair. But this season’s show had a moment — a transcendent accusation that severely damaged Sean’s reputation as Mr. Perfect-Bring-Home-to-Mom and totally cemented one bachelorette's reputation as that of a hot, obsessive, uber-organized alien cyborg. It was so fucking good.
Every week, television documentaries present us with so many unusual people, with so many strange and/or disturbing problems, you might find it hard to keep up with all of them. That's where I come in! Here's an unflinching look back at TV's Week in Freak Shows.
Doomsday Preppers (NatGeo)
Who Is This Now? David Lakota.
Why Are We Watching Him? He is showing us how he intends to survive if a tsunami should strike Kauai, where he lives.
How Did He Get Here? Knowing that most of Hawaii's food supply is imported, so that a tsunami destroying the coastline (and airports) would cause mass panic due to supply disruption, he's testing his ability to live off the land with absolutely no gear. But don't worry, David will know when a tsunami is coming. "He believes his mystical connections will alert him if a tsunami is poised to strike," the narrator tells us dryly.
What's the Grossest Thing We See? Oh, easy: David pees into a bottle and drinks it.