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Beyond Reality – American Idol – Season 14 Episode 15 Recap – 2/25/15

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Amazing Race – Season 26 – Episode 1 Recap – 2/25/15

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Survivor – Worlds Apart – Episode 1 Recap – 2/25/15

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Dancing With the Stars Season 20 Cast Discussion

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments

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The Voice: Season 8, 2nd Night of Auditions, 2/24/15

February 25th, 2015 · No Comments

The judges kept picking singers on the second night of season 8 Voice auditions, with Blake rubbing it in every time he beat out Adam, and Adam finally getting to return the favor:

1.  In a season of throwback singers, Anthony Riley does a fine job of channeling James Brown’s vocals on one of Brown’s great R&B standards, “I Got You.” In a moment hyped as the fastest four-chair turn ever, all the judges whip around when they hear that first Brown-like note. Riley tells the judges he loves all genres including country but he’s basically a soul singer.  (That makes sense.) He picks Pharrell, who’s probably his best match. Pharrell says after, “His showmanship was different.  I’ve never seen anything like it on this show.”

2.   Gabriel Wolfchild, an indy folk singer raised by alternate-lifestyle hippie parents, sings Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” in a dramatic heartfelt voice.  (Folk’s enjoying a resurgence, and as a result TV talent shows are getting folksier than ever.) Adam’s in on the first line. Blake’s in halfway.  Then Christina has to join in and ruin what promised to be a Blake-and-Adam quarrel. “You don’t sing into their ear, you sing into their heart,” Blake observes about the way the singer connects with his audience. Pharrell says he sat out the audition because he figured Wolfchild wouldn’t pick him–only to have the singer say he would have. Since Pharrell isn’t an option, Wolfchild picks the pop-friendly Christina over the country and rock guys.  Maybe she’ll coach him to make his style more mainstream, or maybe one of the guys will get a chance to steal.

3.  Brook Adee, a 16-year-old girl from the South, sings a power ballad. This time Adam and Blake are the only judges interested, so they fight over her while everybody else watches. “You guys remind me of Tom and Jerry [the cartoon characters]!” she tells them.  Blake points out a distinctive pitch–a little break–in her voice. Of course this Southern girl picks Blake.  He’s been egging the crowd to chant his name, and now he gets a chance to gloat some more, at Adam’s expense.

4.  Tonya Boyd-Cannon, a big black middle-aged woman with a shaved head, has an especially compelling backstory.  She’s a Hurricane Katrina survivor, and she coaches a prison choir. She also has a degree in music ed. and a very pretty voice.  She auditions with Pharrell’s “Happy.”  Adam turns on the first verse, Pharrell and Christina join in 58 sec. later (Adam times it). Blake sits this one out.  Christina praises the singer’s vocal versatility.  Adam employs some reverse psychology, saying, “No sense to go for me, so I think you should.” Blake gloats that makes no sense, but it must to Boyd-Cannon, because she picks Adam.  At long last he has a singer to coach. How long she stays with him, that’s another question.

5.  Somehow Joe Tolo seems familiar to me.  There’s nothing about him returning to The Voice, but maybe he got a few seconds of face time on Idol or another TV talent show?  He’s a big Samoan-American guy who flashes back to the sixties with a BeeGees’ power ballad, “Love Somebody” (from long before they went disco). Christina turns her chair very quickly, Blake, near the end. Christina appears to be completely enthralled with his very high notes–although I’m not.  Blake appears to be completely taken by his “amazing” voice, too. Tolo says he prefers soul music, so that may be why he picks the pop-friendly  Christina over Blake.

6.  Mia Z (short for Zanini, I think she said) is 15, is part of a family band, and starts singing B. B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone” in a tiny low voice.  That gets Blake interested. Then she hits big showy high notes, and Pharrell gets interested.  Blake critiques her, “Your lower register has sizzle and then you go into that tone.”  All the judges like her high notes. (Adam says something about, “Dogs around the world going, what?”) I’m not sure how isolated high notes are going to win The Voice, but she says she wants to sing more blues. She picks Pharrell, who can certainly coach her in the blues, and who can’t stop talking about her “bottle rocket” notes. “I’ve never heard that tone!” he raves.

7.  Blaze Johnson, a big black man from the Bahamas, lives with his pastor in Columbus, Ohio, and leads his church choir. Adam turns on the first notes (something he does often), then shorty afterwards Blake pushes his button, making for another much-anticipated Blake-Adam showdown. Blake describes Johnson as, “a big ole Teddy bear.” (He’s indeed a big velvet Teddy like Idol 2 champ Ruben Studdard.) Adam says, “You don’t fit the mold.  That’s why I want you on my team.” Johnson picks Adam, giving him two R&B singers who have similar qualities.

8.  Last audition of the night is Deanna Johnson, now 18, who auditioned for The Voice unsuccessfully in season 5. She’s a rodeo queen and church singer, who sings a country-flavored song in her husky alto. Blake, Christina, and Pharrell push their buttons quickly but Adam waits until almost the end. Then he joins in. Pharrell says he would’ve picked her if he’d been on the show on season 5.  Blake praises her, “There’s nobody in the world to compare you to!” Adam’s pitch is, “My goal is to make you better.”  She must agree because she picks Adam, one of the few times in the show’s history a country singer hasn’t picked Blake. Now it’s Adam’s turn to gloat, and that’s where we leave it until next week.

This evening’s tally:

Adam finally gets not one, not two, but three singers:  country-flavored Deanna Johnson and two big velvet-voiced R&B vocalists, Blaze Johnson and Tonya Boyd-Cannon.

Pharrell:  bluesy teenager Mia Z and James Brown sound-alike Anthony Riley

Christina:  Samoan-American Joe Tolo and folksinger Gabriel Wolfchild

Blake:  Southern girl Brook Adee

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The Voice: Season 8, Premiere, 2/23/15

February 24th, 2015 · No Comments

Judges just wanna have fun!  Season 8 of The Voice began last night, so we once again tuned in for the TV singing contest where the judges push their buttons (in more ways than one) and turn their chairs when they hear a voice they want to coach.  Unlike its great rival American Idol, here there’s no bickering about whether a mediocre voice is only part of a total package. A total package always begins with a voice that gets the judges’ attention.

This season’s panel consists of Adam Levine, Blake Sheldon, Pharrell Williams, and Christina Aguilera (“The Real X-tina”). As always we start with the auditions, which contestants have to sign up online for and be invited to:

1.  Sarah Potenza is from Nashville but she’s a big bluesy metal biker-chick type. She shouts out a gender-inappropriate seventies rocker, Rod Stewart’s “Stay With Me.” Pharrell likes her but so do Blake and Adam–and then the Real X-tina pulls a buzzer-beater. The first audition of Season 8 is the first four-chair turn.  “You gave this generation something they’ve never seen before!” Pharrell raves.  Adam tells Potenza, “You can be a rock star!”  Then this Nashville vet picks Blake to be her coach, explaining afterward that country music’s got stories to tell, and she wants stories to tell.  Blake comments that his strategy this season is to go with different genres.

2.  There’s a trend in music for many young singers with throwback styles, and one such singer is Lowell Oakley, a cocktail lounge crooner even though, at 19, he’s too young to drink in many states. Adam turns his chair almost immediately, but Pharrell comes in towards the end.  The judges make comparisons to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and Oakley picks Pharrell.

3.  Rod Taylor, a young black man, has a bigger and more mature voice than his youthful appearance may indicate.  His range is broad enough he’s got more like three voices–deep, high, and an unpleasantly high falsetto. Christina likes him, and so do Adam and Pharrell, but Blake sits this one out. After listening to the bickering about which judge is the best match for the singer, Christina speaks up, “Do you want these clowns or do you want something serious?” Taylor does pick Christina.

4.  Cody Wickline, a country singer with a guitar, long hair, and a hat, sings the George Jones standard, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Adam bites on the first note.  It takes country judge Blake almost the entire song to turn his chair–and then Pharrell and Christina join in. Blake comments after, that although Cody did a George Jones song, a better comparison would be Merle Haggard. All four judges want the country singer, but country singers almost always pick the country judge. Adam tries the pitch, “I’m not Blake but truly brilliant voices transcend genre…Wouldn’t it be great if we could win and Blake lose?” Blake wants to know, “What are you even talking to all these people for?” The audience is so into it, they’re even screaming different judges’ names. The country singer picks Blake the country judge. Adam’s still without a singer, and he thinks he’s lost “the most incredible artist we’ve seen so far.”

5.  This evening’s seen a throwback male vocalist, and now we see a female equivalent, Trina Gibson, who may inspire comparisons to Judy Garland–or a jazzier version of Stevie Nicks. She gets all four judges to turn their chairs, and Pharrell thinks the cracking in her voice invites comparisons to Nicks. Gibson picks Christina because, “I’ve been a fan of Christina since I was little.”

6.  Meghan Linsey was half of country duo Steel Magnolias until they broke up in 2011.  That duo even toured with Blake Sheldon for a while.  Now she’s attempting to rebuild her career but she says she’d rather do white soul than country. She turns “Love Hurts” into a combination of rock and soul–this girl’s a closer comparison to Nicks than Gibson was (see 5. above).  Adam, Pharrell, and Christina all turn their chairs but Blake holds out, even though he’d appear to be her natural match. Of course when the song ends and Blake sees Meghan, he exclaims, “I know this girl!”  Pharrell compares this singer to Joplin, not Nicks. Adam comments, “There doesn’t seem to be a box for you,” regarding her genre-crossing vocals. Christina wants to work with a woman, and I believe she could help Linsey find success with the women’s music genre.  Then the singer goes with what may be the least likely option when she picks Pharrell. Blake explains afterwards that he didn’t push his button because, “The girl I was hearing was more suited to the other coaches.”  Watch to see if he targets her for a steal or if he comes to regret not taking her.

7.  Jewish folk singer Joshua Davis (another throwback artist) prefers old blues and folk music like “I Shall be Released,” the song he auditions with. Adam and Blake jump at the first note. When the song ends, we get what Voice viewers love:  an Adam-Blake showdown. (Maybe one day Pharrell and Christina will get out popcorn while watching the bro-mantic bickering.)  Davis was in a band, and Adam hypes his band experience, but Blake counters with “Adam wants you to help him!  I want to help you!” When Davis picks Blake, Adam’s all dejected and Blake yelps, “You just made my season!” Blake just keeps right on rubbing it in for a while. Adam sulks, “I feel like I lost my mojo!” Pharrell observes, “It’s like two Vince Vaughns!”

8.  Sawyer Fredericks is a slight-built 15-year-old farm boy from rural New York, with long blond hair, a guitar, and a hat that somewhat resembles Pharrell’s. His favorite band?  The great sixties rock group Creedence Clearwater!  Yet another rep of the throwback trend, he sings the traditional folk song, “Man of Constant Sorrow” but gives it a bright arrangement. He says his voice is changing.  Actually he sounds much more mature than what might be expected of a 15-year-old (and more mature than some of this season’s Idol contestants).  He hooks everybody but Blake on the first note.  Blake joins in after several lines. All four judges are practically begging for this kid. Adam flatly declares, “I need someone to crush Blake with!”  Then–Sawyer picks Pharrell.  (Maybe the similar hats had something to do with it?  Or maybe Pharrell’s so popular even a country boy with sixties-era tastes knows him?)  Sawyer explains his choice afterwards with, “He talks about originality.”  Christina announces she wants to steal this guy.  So if Blake or Adam wants another chance at Fredericks, they’ll have to get past Pharrell and X-tina.

Pharrell’s ecstatic, Gwen’s vowing to steal, and Adam still doesn’t have anybody. He goes off-stage to sulk.  Blake yells after him, “You want us to call Usher?”

Tonight’s tally:

Blake:  folksinger Joshua Davis, Nashville metal shouter Sarah Potenza, country singer Cody Wickline

Christina:  female crooner Trina Gibson, R&B vocalist Rob Taylor

Pharrell:  the highly coveted folksinger Sawyer Fredericks, teen lounge crooner Lowell Oakley, Nashville vet Meghan Linsey

Adam:  nobody! Auditions continue tonight, so maybe Adam can come back from his sulk.


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Beyond Reality – The Bachelor – Chris Soules – Episode 9 Recap 2/23/15

February 24th, 2015 · No Comments

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American Idol: Season 14, Finalizing the Semi-Final Field of 24, 2/19/15

February 20th, 2015 · No Comments

Numbers got fuzzy on American Idol last night. There were twelve slots left but we didn’t see all or hear about all the singers left to compete for them. The night before last, by my count the judges put 12 people in the semi-finals and sent seven people home, some under dubious circumstances. Contestants at the beginning of the previous round numbered 48, so 7 remain unaccounted for. (See “Unfinished Stories” below.)

First let’s look at how the Season 14 semi-final field was filled:

1.  Hollywood Anderson:  He gets a no.  Running cut tally, 8, tonight’s cut tally, 1

2.  Joey Cook:  During her showcase she shows a cocktail jazz side we haven’t seen before.  The judges talk about comparing apples and oranges and Harry tells her she’s a kiwi.  She’s quirky and different–a novelty–but I don’t know how she’s going to gather a sufficient number of fans to win Idol. Harry tells her they don’t have any kiwis, so they’re picking her for the top 24.  Running keep tally, 13, tonight’s keep tally, 1

3.  Katherine Winston:  This country singer shows a rock side with “Rhiannon” in her showcase. J-Lo gushes about how “everytime you got on the stage, something magical happened,” so the judges are giving her a slot in the semi-finals.  Running keep tally, 14, tonight’s keep tally, 2

4.  Maddie Hudson:  First we see a flashback of the judges practically climbing over furniture to get her in the competition, with J-Lo raving, “She could win!”  She does have one of the prettiest voices we’ve heard this season, even if she’s had her shaky moments.  (Some of the other featured female vocalists have been worse than shaky.) Now the judges tell her she needs more experience and send her home.  Funny, they didn’t say that to Daniel Seavey or Shannon Beth-what’s-her-name or Jax. Running cut tally, 9, tonight’s cut tally, 2

5.  Alexis Gomez;  She reps the Hispanic community during her showcase, singing “Better Dig Two” partly in Spanish.  J-Lo speaks for the judges, telling her, “You’re in the top 24.”  That means there are three female country vocalists in the semi-finals. Running keep tally, 15, tonight’s keep tally, 3

6.  Quentin Alexander:  For once we have an R&B singer who’s got some power and range instead of being just loud and pitchy. Keith, speaking for the judges, tells him, “We want you in the top 24.” Running keep tally, 16, tonight’s keep tally, 4

7.  Savion Wright:  The judges partly redeem themselves after last season (and last night)–although maybe last year’s unkind cut did make some sense, as Wright’s improved since then.  He tells the judges he wanted to show them more artistry this time. When Harry tells Wright he’s through to the semi-finals, the singer leaps up, whoops, and races back to the holding room with the good news.  Running keep tally, 17, tonight’s keep tally, 5

8.  Jac Mackenzie:  She gets a “no,” although I would have kept her over Jax.  Running cut tally, 10, tonight’s cut tally, 3

9.  Hunter Lawson:  She gets a “no,” and I never would have put her in the competiton to begin with.  Running cut tally, 11, tonight’s cut tally, 4

10.  Mark Andrew:  The 29-year-old Voice vet gets a “yes.” He’s rep’ing the WGWG genre this season. Running keep tally, 18, tonight’s keep tally, 6

11.  Trevor Douglas:  Another WGWG but this one is a 16-year-old science/math geek.  (Maybe he’ll get along with the geeky Adam who made top 24 last night.) For his showcase he does a furiously rocking (but acoustic) “Burning Love.”  The judges tell him, “You’re unpredictable, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”  They must think that’s good TV (if not good judgment) so he’s through to the final 24.  Running keep tally, 19, tonight’s keep taly, 7

12.  Emily Brooke:  The 16-year-old country singer has got considerable face time this season but the judges tell her no. Running cut tally, 12, tonight’s cut tally, 5

13.  Nick Faradini:  Like Mark Andrew, he’s a music vet of 29.  For his showcase, he performs “Drops of Jupiter,” and sounds like a much better rock rep than Adam Ezeg-what’s-his-name. The judges select him for the semi-finals. Running keep tally, 20, tonight’s keep tally, 8

14.  Serina Joi Crowe:  She’s loud, pitchy, and has auditioned unsuccessfully at least three times already.  Maybe the judges are just tired of seeing her around, because they put her in the semi-finals.  Harry says, “There are a lot of people in your genre” but the judges want her to rep that genre.  Running keep tally, 21, tonight’s keep tally, 9

15.  Quaseem Middleton:  In his showcase round, he shows himself to be a showman of the James Brown or Michael Jackson genre. J-Lo tells him, “You’re in the top 24!” Running keep tally, 22, tonight’s keep tally, 10

16. and 17.  Riley Bria and Ricky Dale Hendrix:  Last year was a Southern-fried season, but this one’s not shaping up that way.  The judges feel they need to choose between two teenage male country vocalists, filling the last slot for the male side. Ricky Dale’s 17 and J-Lo singled him out as one of the more outstanding New Orleans auditions. Riley’s also 17, he’s a Keith Urban fanboy (he won a contest to jam with him), and was the first featured audition of the season.  The judges call them in together and tell them that Riley gets the twelfth slot for the guys.  If the judges had more sense, they’d have cut Daniel Seavey or Clark Beckham or Adam Egad-what’s-his-name, and had room for both.

At this point the running keep tally is 23 and tonight’s keep tally is 11. The running cut tally is 13 and tonight’s cut tally is 6.

18. and 19.  Angelica “Jelly” Joseph and Shana “Shi” Scott, two R&B vocalists with colorful nicknames, are called in together, and the judges tell them the 24th semi-final slot is for one of them. Instead of hearing the verdict, we simply see the women leaving the room.  Shi’s crying and Jelly’s happy, so that means Shi’s cut, right?

Wrong!  Jelly tells Ryan she’s just happy to have made top 48 and Shi’s bawling away because she made top 24.  Based on what I saw, at least half of the selected female vocalists won’t gather much enthusiasm. The judges could have easily made room for Joseph if they’d really wanted to–and a couple of others.  (Jess Lamb, cut just before the showcase round, is the most obvious.) Total keep tally from this episode and the last one:  24

Total cut tally from this episode and the last one:  14, and we know there were 24 people cut, so even with two nights, we didn’t see the final 48. There’s got to be a better way to give some air time to all final 48.

When Idol fields 24 semi-finalists, usually there are two or three rounds of “Girls’ Night” and “Boys’ Night” performances, with viewers’ votes narrowing the field down to twelve male and twelve female semi-finalists.  First let’s look at the girls’ top twelve:

  1. Shana “Shi” Scott
  2. Alexis Gomez
  3. Joey Cook
  4. Katherine Winston
  5. Serina Joi Crowe
  6. Jax
  7. Loren Lott
  8. Adanna Duru
  9. Maddie Walker
  10. Tyanna Jones
  11. Lovey James
  12. Shannon She’ll-be-out-before-learn-her-last-name

Now for the boys:

  1. Savion Wright
  2. Riley Bria
  3. Mark Andrew
  4. Quaseem Middleton
  5. Nick Faradini
  6. Trevor Douglas
  7. Quentin Alexander
  8. Ray Von Owens
  9. Michael Simeon
  10. Clark Beckham
  11. Daniel Seavey
  12. Adam He’ll-be-out-before-I-learn-his-last-name

Now here’s my guess as to who the top 12 will be:

  1. Savion Wright
  2. Riley Bria
  3. Mark Andrew
  4. Katherine Winston
  5. Tyanna Jones
  6. Maddie Walker
  7. Quentin Alexander
  8. Ray Von Owens
  9. Quaseem Middleton (or Trevor Douglas)
  10. Alexis Gomez
  11. Shana “Shi” Scott
  12. Jax

Unfinished stories:  This season had fewer continuity fails than the last one but we never did learn what happened to Casey Thrasher, Erica Washington, Travis Finley (hearing someone named Travis is cut doesn’t count), subway singer Naja Lewis, vagabond Kolton Pasquall, Gina (or Jena) Venere, and Kari Lyn Roach. I’m also going to kick the judges and the production team one more time for what they did to Jason Tolliver, Jess Lamb, Garrett Miles, Cody Fry, and Rachel from the New Orleans auditions. 

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American Idol: Season 14, Selecting 24 Semi-finalists (Pt. I), 2/18/15

February 19th, 2015 · No Comments

This week on American Idol, forty-eight contestants are being pared down to 12 male and 12 female semi-finalists, although the hype was about a showcase round. Just about every season American Idol finds a way to waste hrs. of airtime on announcing the semi-finalists. Some seasons watching each remaining contestant make the trek from a holding room to hear the judges’ verdict is good TV, but Season 14 is not one of those seasons.  It’s especially infuriating because the judges–Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jennifer Lopez–demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it’s time for their contracts to be up.

First we present the names that have made it so far (read them and scream):

The guys (five so far):

  • Michael Simeon (J-Lo’s got to cool it with encouraging those fanboys of hers)
  • Adam Ezegelian (learning to spell his name will probably take more time than he’ll remain on the show)
  • Clark Beckham
  • Daniel Seavey
  • Ray Von Owens

The girls (seven so far):

  • Loren Lott (R&B female vocalist no. 1)
  • Lovey James (Sorry, sorry, I thought/hoped she was gone)
  • Adanna Duru (R&B female vocalist no. 2)
  • Maddie Walker (see below)
  • Tyanna Jones (R&B female vocalist no. 3)
  • Shannon Berthalmune (learning to spell her name will probably take more time than she’ll remain on the show)
  • Jax  

I was going to follow with a list of the cuts so far but I’ll just proceed to the gory details (read them and scream) as the judges give their verdicts:

1.  Michael Simeon: Yeah, he can slow-dance with J-Lo, and she likes his voice, but can he really sing?  He sounds tired and strained and part of his showcase is a rap, which he admits is a “huge risk.” J-Lo says, yes, he’s through to the semi-finals, and I guess that’s all that matters. Keep tally: 1

2.  Loren Lott:  She’s loud and pitchy but J-Lo really, really likes her, too.  Harry admits she “wasn’t one of the best” so why does he put her in the top 24 anyway?  (Note:  she must be the black girl with the ringlets glimpsed in the season-opening tease.) Keep tally:  2

3.  Adam Ezegelian:  BTW J-Lo really gets into him, too. Yeah, he can shout heavy metal and the judges are probably looking for the next Caleb Johnson. However, I seriously doubt this geek’s the next Caleb Johnson.  Idol often makes good TV about advancing very inexperienced singers into the voting rounds but it may be time to rethink that. (Don’t tell me, let me guess–this is the curly-haired gravel-voiced guy in the season-opening tease.) The judges’ batting average just went down.  Keep tally:  3

4.  Cody Fry:  This season’s heartthrob, right? Wrong! J-Lo likes him but she cuts him anyway, giving female viewers one less reason to watch the remainder of the season. The judges’ batting average just went down some more.  Cut tally: 1

5.  Lovey James:  I thought she got cut last week, and I blame my confusion on the editing. She’s loud, pitchy, and shows too much similarity to the judges’ darling Jax (see below) and Harry criticizes her consistency.  Then he says, “We’ll have to see how you do in the top 24,” like the judges and everybody else haven’t had enough opportunities to see how she does already.  The judges just keep accumulating strikes. Keep tally: 4

6. through 10.  A montage of people being told no, including Hector Montenegro, J None (and his Teddy), Reno the Hawaiian (he got this far?), Zach Kaltenbach (he compares better to David Cook than Ezeglian does to Johnson), and Hannah Mrozek (who we haven’t seen since her audition). Cut tally:  6

11.  Adanna Duru:  She’s loud and pitchy on “It’s a Man’s World” and I’ve heard the song done better–but it’s good enough for Harry (and J-Lo and Keith). Keep tally:  5

12.  Maddie Walker:  She sounds tired and strained and is suddenly being presented as this season’s country rep.  Except J-Lo tells her no. Wait for the cut tally, see below.

13.  With the cut tally standing at 6 and the keep tally at 5, the judges call in a country singer we’ve never seen before, Rachel “who auditioned in New Orleans.”  Her showcase selection is an overdone “Gunpower and Lead.” When the judges sit her down, they confess they can’t make up their minds and call Maddie Walker back into the room. Yes, you read that right.  Whether this is a scripted ploy or not, the judges have just amply demonstrated they don’t even have the conviction to stand by their own decisions.  Contract renewal time can’t come fast enough.

They have the country girls do a sing-off and of course, if they weren’t going to pick the slightly sweeter-voiced Maddie Walker, they wouldn’t have bothered.  So the two women’s time on Idol comes down to flakey judging and a few bars. It’s like these Hollywood judges are living in a movie–a Martin Scorsese movie.  This is the most unacceptable thing I’ve ever seen on Idol, and I’m now 95% certain I won’t watch the voting rounds.

After this little soap opera:  Keep tally, 6, cut tally, 7.

14.  Clark Beckham:  Doesn’t anybody besides me hear that he’s just screaming, not singing, through songs that shouldn’t be screamed through?  The man has no subtlety at all. All the judges really like him, though, and he’s in the semi-finals. Keep tally:  7

15.  Daniel Seavey:  America, what’s wrong with this picture?  A 15-year-old prepubescent-looking boy can’t stop hitting on 45-year-old J-Lo and she encourages it.  She keeps swooning about how cute he is, and how impressed she is, and how she (and the other two) want him in the top 24.  No comment!  Except to say, the judges’ batting average just dropped below minor-league level.  How many strikes do they get before their own contracts get cut?  Keep tally:  8

16.  Tyanna Jones:  J-Lo really, really likes her and wants her to be in the top 24.  Keep tally:  9

17.  Ray Von Owen:  Finally a black male R&B vocalist joins the semi-finalists. Keep tally:  10

18.  Shannon Berthiamune:   We’ve been teased this rank amateur is in the final 24, and she shows she’s a rank amateur–she’s not loud and pitchy, she’s much worse than that. Call a moratorium, please, on people just off the street getting to the semi-finals.  And post at least three more strikes against the judges.  Honestly, the only time Idol judges have looked worse was during season 12.  Keep tally:  11

19.  Jax:  The judges have been fawning over her all season, and I suspect it’s not about her frightfully amateurish so-called singing.  I suspect it’s more about her father was a 9/11 responder, making her a sentimental favorite. She’s slaughtered “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and looked bad in group round, so she now sings a religious song. J-Lo criticizes her (imagine that) with, “a little bit of greenness” but gives her the green light to the semi-finals anyway.  She’s more than “a little” green, J-Lo!  Keep tally:  12

Last night’s episode ended when Hollywood Anderson entered the judges’ room, and we’re supposed to tune in tonight to learn the remainder of the 24 semi-finalists. Even with Savion Wright–about the only reason I have left to watch–waiting, I’m finding it increasingly hard to care.






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The Amazing Race: Flashback, Season 14, Thailand, Air Date 3/29/09

February 17th, 2015 · No Comments

Season 14 of The Amazing Race introduced several All-Star teams, and on the eighth leg in Thailand, several teams made errors big and small. One team even made two big mistakes and had to serve two penalties. Another team never was able to make up for one mistake.

As the episode begins, six teams get clues to fly from Jaipur, India to Phuket, Thailand:

  • Margie and her deaf son Luke (they later made two All-Star appearances)
  • African-American sisters Kisha/Jen (they won All-Star season 18)
  • Mark/Mel, father and son, both writers, and both ID as gay (returned as All-Stars, season 18)
  •  Mark/Michael, brothers who are Hollywood stuntmen, and they’re also less than 5 ft. tall and only about 100 lb.
  • Jamie/Cara, NFL cheerleaders (returned in season 18)
  • Tammy/Victor, Chinese-American brother-sister team (they won season 14)

Teams have a picture of a statue of a gorilla for their clue as to their destination in Phuket.  It’s up to them to find out the statute is at the city zoo. All six teams are on the same flight to Phuket but Mark/Mel are the last to get a taxi at the airport.  The leading teams collectively get out of their taxis and start asking people on the street about the picture.

Mark/Mel and their taxi just keep going.  Their driver–for some reason known only to him–takes them to the beach, where there’s no gorilla statute. The team at first doesn’t believe people who tell them the statute is at the zoo.  This mistake puts Mark/Mel far in the back of the pack.

The five front teams get to the zoo.  Here teams have to perform two tasks. First they have to pose for a picture with a tiger. While the picture’s being developed, each team must take part in a trained elephant show. The two team members lie still while an elephant steps and squats over them.  Once the show’s over, the teams can pick up their tiger pictures. The next clue is presented along with the tiger picture.

Mark/Michael are the first to finish at the zoo. Jamie/Cara are 2nd, Kisha/Jen, 3rd, Tammy/Victor, 4th, and Margie/Luke, 5th. Their next clue says to make their way to a shop that sells herbs.

When teams get to the shop, they find their next clue envelope will be found in one of 99 drawers behind the shop’s counter. The shopkeeper apparently speaks little or no English, and teams have to communicate to him about which drawer they want him to open.  A team may find a clue in the first drawer–or they may have to search dozens. Jamie/Cara and Mark/Mike are the first to arrive and start searching drawers.

About this time Mark/Mel are getting to the zoo, getting their picture taken with the tiger, and becoming human props in the elephant show.

Kisha/Jen are the third team to get to the shop, and teams have to take turns pointing to what drawer they want the shopkeeper to open. Mark/Mike are first to find an envelope. It contains information about this leg’s detour.  The choice involves two different kinds of transportation:

  • 100 Barrels–fill 47 barrels of freshwater for a seagoing fishing boat, and load the boat with 53 empty barrels to store fish.
  • 2 Miles–one team member pulls the other in a rickshaw over a two-mile road course.  Team members may take turns pulling and riding.

Mark/Mike choose the rickshaw detour.  By now Tammy/Victor and Luke/Margie arrive at the herb shop. Kisha/Jen are 2nd to find a detour clue envelope. They choose the fishing boat.

Margie/Luke are 3rd to find a detour clue. Tammy/Victor, who’ve been keeping notes about which drawers are being opened, are 4th. Jamie/Cara were first to get to the shop, but four teams have passed them.  They finally get a detour clue before Mark/Mel get to the shop.

When Mark/Mike get to the beginning of the rickshaw course, there are tire pumps scattered around, in case teams need to pump up their rickshaw tires. They pump up their tires, then collect all the tire pumps and throw them in a box.  Then they ask their taxi to lead them over the road course. (One says, “We were going to have to pay that cab, whether he followed us, led us, or met us there.”)

Meanwhile Mark/Mel get to the herb shop but it takes them a while to find their clue. Jamie/Cara and Margie/Luke choose the fishing boat detour, but their taxis are mistaken about the location.  Their taxis do know where the temple is that has the rickshaws, so those two teams switch detours. Kisha/Jen also have a confused taxi driver but they eventually find the fishing boats.

Tammy/Victor start the rickshaw course. They ask their cabbie to draw a map, specifically telling him that he can’t lead them–so we know Mark/Mike are in trouble.

Mark/Mel find their detour clue at the herb shop, and choose to go to the fishing boats. Around this time Jamie/Cara are starting the rickshaw course, with Margie/Luke close behind them. Kisha/Jen find the fishing boat and start loading the 53 empty barrels.

Mark/Mike finish the 2-mile rickshaw course and find the next clue box in a park. The clue says “walk, run, or hire” to the pit stop at a temple. (Phil explains it’s a temple “known for housing a piece of the Buddha’s remains.”) Since the guys’ taxi driver led them over the course, they can just jump in and ride to the pit stop.

When the very short stuntmen arrive at the pit stop, Phil tells them they’re first to arrive–however, they’ve incurred two 30-min. penalties. First they tampered with the tire pumps. (That may seem petty to some viewers but it did break a rule.) Second, they had their taxi lead them over the rickshaw course. Two big mistakes! They’ve got to sit for an hr. when other teams are close behind.

Mark/Mel find the fishing boats. They start loading the empty barrels and filling the water barrels at the same time. The women didn’t start filling their water barrels until they finished loading the empty barrels. (“I didn’t see the hose running!” one of the women exclaims.)

Tammy/Victor find the park at the end of the rickshaw course, with Jamie/Cara close behind. Tammy/Victor soon find they didn’t completely finish the course–they find a station to park their rickshaws, and have to go back and retrieve their rickshaw. That enables Jamie/Cara to get their clue for the pit stop first. Once Tammy/Victor park their rickshaw and get their pit stop clue, they meet up with their taxi driver. They instructed him not to lead them, but meet them at the park at the end of the course.

Luke is trying to pull Margie in their rickshaw but she can’t give him directions because he can’t hear, or see her hand signs either. They switch. She appears to be nearing a state of panic as she completes the course.

When Mark/Mike have four min. left to sit, Tammy/Victor get to the pit stop mat. That means the brother and sister win first place, and a trip to Hawaii.  Three minutes later, Jamie/Cara arrive and claim second place. Phil tells the brothers he can check them in, making them the third-place team.

Margie/Luke find the clue box for the pit stop and take a taxi to the temple. They claim fourth place, but Margie faints from the heat and over-exerting herself. Phil calls for assistance. Fortunately it’s just a fainting spell and nothing serious.

Kisha/Jen finish filling their water barrels while Mark/Mel still have ten to go. The sisters get their pit stop clue but their taxi drops them off at the wrong temple. (How many mistakes have taxis made on this leg?) The sisters ask directions at what looks like another temple or church–and ask the people there to drive them. They’re the fifth team to check in at the pit stop.

That means Mark/Mel are last, and are eliminated.  They never recovered from that mistake with the taxi that couldn’t find the zoo.




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