November 26th, 2014 · No Comments
November 26th, 2014 · No Comments
The Amazing Race Season 25 is down to six teams: pro surfers Adam/Bethany (she has only one arm), pro wrestlers Brooke/Robbie, young male-male couple Tim and Te Jay (T/T or TNT), female scientists Amy/Maya, female bicycle racers Kym/Alli, and Jim/Misti, the married couple who are both dentists. As the eighth leg begins they all travel together from Sicily to Malta by ferry. (This marks a change from the usual routine of going to an airport and flying somewhere.)
When teams get off the ferry, their first task is to serve wine to a tableful of the legendary knights of Malta. This isn’t a roadblock or detour, just an extra task. Everyone has to carry a tray, one-handed, balancing a wine bottle and two glasses, from a bar, up 500 steps to the knights’ table. If anyone drops and breaks their bottle or glasses, the team has to clean up, then go back, replace what they broke, and start again. Once the two team members serve their wines, the knights hand over the next clue. Only Kym/Alli and Brooke/Robbie make it on the 1st try.
Next clue instructs teams to make their way (by taxi) to a boathouse. Brooke/Robbie have trouble finding a taxi and slip to last place. It’s the middle of the night and the boathouse is closed. Teams find six Maltese crosses marked with two different starting times for the next morning. The front three teams grab the 7:30 start time, the other three, the 7:45 start time.
Teams don’t want to get too far away from the boathouse, even though there isn’t any comfortable or convenient place to sleep. People sleep on benches or the concrete, complaining about rats and bugs. (If you want to be on TAR, think about this part carefully.)
The next morning, Jim/Misti, Kym/Alli, and T/T start at 7:30. Brooke/Robbie, Amy/Maya, and Bethany/Adam start at 7:45. Everyone has clues for a roadblock. Motorboats take the teams to a grotto–the Blue Grotto–along the coast of Malta. One team member must rappel down a cliff and into the water. (How the team members get up the cliff isn’t shown.) Then the team member has to swim into the Blue Grotto and retrieve their next clue from a small boat hidden there. Then they can swim back and join their teammates, who are waiting in the motorboats.
Misti, Alli, and Tim are the first racers to complete the rappel. The second group consists of Robbie, Amy, and Bethany–who has no problem rappelling or swimming with only one arm. I’d like to see more detail about how she handled it–maybe that’ll be in a DVD extra.
Teams finish the RB in the following order: Kym/Alli, Misti/Jim, T/T, Bethany/Adam, Amy/Maya, and finally Brooke/Robbie (he’s a slow swimmer). The clue hidden in the grotto directs them to go to a church.
Kym/Alli are 1st to get to the church. They find a clue box that gives a choice of detours. However, there’s no explanation of what the options are–only their names, “Flag” or “Shine.” Teams have to go to the locations to find out more.
Kym/Alli choose “Flag.” This proves to be a task that would work very well as an immunity challenge on Survivor. Phil makes a brief appearance to explain this detour is an old Maltese game. Someone has to run up a greased pole (like a telephone pole) that slants out over the ocean, and grab a flag on the top.
Five teams try this task, and none succeed. It appears to be a test of speed, balance, and strength. One slight misstep or hesitation, and you fall in the water. One teammate has to grab a yellow flag about two-thirds of the way up, which most teams manage. The other teammate has to grab a red flag at the top, which no one does.
While Alli’s trying to get a flag, T/T and Misti/Jim see her and forget about trying to find the church first. The run down to the waterfront, start trying to perform the task–then realize, this is a detour and they passed up the clue where they get the options for a detour.
T/T were spared elimination on the seventh leg and now need to perform a speed bump. They find the church, and find directions for the detour and their speed bump. They have to paint the Maltese cross on two shields.
Jim/Misti find the church and don’t want to go back to the “Flag” challenge, so they pick the “Shine” detour. Brooke/Robbie pick the “Shine” detour, too.
For the “Shine” detour, teams have to go to a nearby courtyard and put on helmets and breastplates like what Spanish conquistadors wear in history textbooks. The armor is rusty and dirty and teammates need to shine up each others’ armor. It’s drudgery but, unlike the “Flag” challenge, teams can put a clock on it.
When Bethany/Adam reach the detour, they turn in the express pass they won on the second leg. That makes them the first team to get this leg’s pit stop clue. They’re first to reach the pit stop, Ft. Manuel, built in the 18th century. They win the leg and $10,000 each. The greeter at the mat shows them a Maltese hunting falcon.
T/T finish painting their shields and head back to the “Flag” detour. Amy/Maya arrive and try the “Flag” detour, but Amy can’t sprint up the pole. She injured her leg in a workout just before she went on TAR. The sweet scientists switch detours.
Brooke complains so much about polishing the armor, she and Robbie switch tasks. She gets the yellow flag but he tries and tries and can’t get the red one. They switch back. “We gave it a try. We wasted about 30 minutes,” Robbie says.
T/T don’t want to switch because they realize they must be in last place by now. Te Jay got the yellow flag. Tim’s trying and trying to get the red one but can’t.
Jim/Misti finish polishing their armor, and get their work approved. They reach the pit stop in 2nd place. Kym/Alli finish the armor. They place 3rd. Amy/Maya finish the armor and place 4th.
Two teams are left on course. Tim gets to the point where he just can’t run up the pole anymore–he’s shaking. The gay couple give up on the “Flag” detour and switch to “Shine.” When T/T arrive at the other location, Brooke/Robbie are finishing shining the armor they half-finished before. The one thing left that may affect the outcome appears to be if Brooke/Robbie have bad taxi luck.
Brooke/Robbie finish their armor and get it approved. They find a taxi is waiting for T/T. They try and talk the driver into taking them instead but he refuses. There’s a bar nearby, and they ask the bartender to call a cab. One arrives before T/T are finished.
The show tries to create some suspense, but Brooke/Robbie arrive at the pit stop in 5th place. T/T are 6th and this time there’s no reprieve. They’re eliminated.
On the next leg, a double U-turn is coming up. Several teams have agreed to U-turn Kym/Alli if they get a chance. Then again we saw what happened in Season 24 when several teams agreed to U-turn Brenchel.
November 25th, 2014 · No Comments
Last night The Voice featured some very high-powered mentors, including Diana Ross, record executive Clive Davis, and sometime Voice judge Christina Aguilera. The final ten were singing for votes this evening, and this field proved to be very closely bunched:
1. Team Adam starts the show off with one of the biggest breakouts of this season, Matt McAndrew. He was the only Voice contestant last week who placed in the top ten of iTunes. This week coach Adam Levine gives his alt-rocker a Coldplay song that’s not “Yellow” and not “Clocks.” It’s “Fix You,” I think, and it’s a little more rocking. After the performance, Pharrell raves (as he did last week) about how KROQ and Z-100 (apparently the NY version of KROQ) should be calling about adding the track. Gwen raves, too, about, “Shows what kind of artist you could be.” Adam talks about how McAndrew’s voice is able to combine big notes with a “supersweet” mellow side.
2. Anita Antoinette of Team Gwen gives “Let Her Go” (Passengers) a reggae makeover. There are only three women left in the field this season and the competition from the seven male vocalists is formidable.
3. Speaking of formidable, Damian of Team Adam takes on Stevie Wonder’s “You and I,” gives it a serious soulful classic delivery, and successfully updates the original. “Damian can really touch people,” Adam raves, and later adds, “I felt the entire audience get on board.”
4. Reagan James, the teenage pop princess of Team Blake, gives the current hip-hop hit “I’m so Fancy” a different arrangement. During rehearsal she says she wants something stripped down–but with electric guitar. She plays up the teen appeal but unfortunately some of her inexperience may be starting to show. The judges are impressed, however. “That was hard to do,” her coach Blake comments. “You were doing two people’s job–easily your best performance.”
5. Luke Wade of Team Pharrell sings his version of the classic Otis Redding hit, “Try a Little Tenderness.” He offers a mix of soul, blues, and jazz, and shows some personality as well. Gwen praises how he’s learned to work the stage. Adam comments the performance “had Pharrell all over it,” like Pharrell singing Otis Redding.
6. Craig Wayne Boyd began this season doing Southern-fried rock, but lately he’s been showing his softer, more romantic side. He sings Johnny Cash’s classic, “I Walk the Line” with a completely different arrangement, turning it into a contemporary country power ballad. His coach Blake talks about how Boyd’s an outlaw Southern rocker–but he’s also a heartthrob. In judges’ comments afterward, Gwen notes she’s glad she saved him, because that’s why he’s still in the competition. Pharrell says, “Nothing like coming across like you know who you are.” Blake sums up, “That was magic!”
7. Ryan Sill, the teen heartthrob of Team Gwen, looks to be going home sooner rather than later–it’s not him, it’s simply a numbers game. He was Gwen’s save during the semi-finals, and he was in the bottom three last week. His song this week is Muse’s “Starlight.” After his performance, Adam says, “I was shocked you were in the bottom three last week. I didn’t think you deserved it.” He advises the singer, “Continue to try to figure out who you are.” Blake concurs, saying, “You continue to figure this thing out.” So does Pharrell, “You’re seriously most improved,” noting how the young singer’s been guided into the alternative scene. Gwen says she had trouble getting rights to the song until she sent Sills’ audition tape to Muse, showing them he was capable of doing the song. She adds, “You’re blossoming into an artist!” Even if Ryan goes out this week, he can at least say he got sandwiched between Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera during rehearsal.
8. DaNica Shirey of Team Pharrell sings “I Have Nothing” originally by Whitney Houston–who she idolized–before Clive Davis, the man who made Houston. During an all-hands coaching session, he tells her that she’s caught the song’s vulnerability. After Shirey’s performance, Blake declares, “This is the best live show I have ever seen! The performances are unbelievable!”
9. Taylor John Williams has an idea for an alternative take on the Beatles’ classic, “Come Together.” He says he’d like to give each verse its own character. His coach Gwen is reluctant because the song is “so classic” but she advises, “Get into character–weirdo lyrics…push into your signature bluesy thing. Make it contemporary.” All the judges love the result. “See the beastly dude come out!” says Adam. “Having fun…keep doing it!” Blake adds, “To see you smile and have fun, that was really important.” Pharrell says, “One of the craziest performances we’ve ever seen!” Gwen caps the praise with, “If I were fifteen and in high school now, you’d be all over my locker!”
10. Chris Jamison selects a current Bruno Mars song, “Uptown Funk,” explaining how it will be able to show he’s an entertainer as well as a singer. He is a good match for the Mars vibe. However, he’s still here only because his coach Adam saved him in the semi-finals, and he may be unable to compete with the field, especially with someone similar like Luke Wade. Adam comments, “The team I have are guys that aren’t afraid to do something different.”
Next week comes the final eight. Based on what we’ve seen of voting patterns, Ryan and Chris are in trouble, but all the women are looking vulnerable, too.
November 25th, 2014 · No Comments
November 20th, 2014 · No Comments
November 18th, 2014 · No Comments
Already the final rounds–when the audience votes for favorites–have started on The Voice Season 7. “The top twelve are fighting to stay in!” announces host Carson Daly. This final field may be the strongest The Voice has ever seen because there are at least six potential winners. Even American Idol hasn’t seen a final twelve like this in several seasons.
1. Sugar Joans of Team Pharrell starts the evening with “Take Me to the River.” Pharrell calls her an Italian girl singing soul. In judges’ comments afterward, Gwen complains she may be too retro.
2. Ryan Sill of Team Gwen is the last of several teen idol types who made a splash early this season. He picks a nineties Duran Duran song, “Ordinary World” and pours emotion into it. Gwen advises him to look like James Dean. After the performance, Adam and Pharrell praise how well rock fits the singer. “The way you gotta go!” Adam says. Gwen adds, “So perfect, I hope everyone understands now why I saved you.” She picked him over her other teen type, Ricky Manning, but will he be able to overcome needing her save last week?
3. Jessie Pitts of Team Blake sings “Don’t You Worry, Child.” Blake says, “Jessie brings something to The Voice that really needs to be here, that indy artist sound.” Of course there are a few other indy artists this season but Jessie is Blake’s artist in that style. He also says her artistry reminds him of his wife Miranda Lambert.
4. Damian is the only black male vocalist left in the field. Adam, in coaching mode, advises him to “do passion” this week. His assignment for the one-time TSA agent: sing “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother.” Adam appears to have a habit of dusting off half-forgotten seventies’ hits, and this one proves to be a great song choice. The performance has a gospel flavor, leading Pharrell to declare, “I don’t know which’ll be prouder, the church or Donny Hathaway!”
5. DaNica Shirey (her name’s more like “Da-nica” than Dan-ica) sings a sultry soulful version of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Pharrell, her team coach, says she has to juxtaposition alt and soul, that she needs to sing it like Al Green. (“Give that record to Al Green!” he admonishes.) Adam in particular loves the result, “Every song ever written, you can sing every one!” he gushes.
6. Carson Daly calls Taylor John Williams pop-folk. Like Pitts, he’s one of this season’s alt reps Adam isn’t the only coach that apparently likes to go back to half-forgotten seventies-era hits. Gwen, as team coach, assigns Williams the haunting rock ballad “If” by Bread. She says it shows his dark side, but she wants him to stay away from his bluesy side. This performance proves one of his best, and one of the best of anyone this season. He conjures up an intimacy that reaches clear out of the TV–like he’s breaking the PA, but in a good way. Afterwards Adam gets technical and says, “A song in a major key!” then adds, “delicate, different, the purity in your voice came through!” Pharrell praises how Williams brought out the tenderness in the song. Gwen sums up, “He’s a great singer and he’s cute!”
7. Reagan James of Team Blake is this season’s teen-appeal girl. She turned 16 last week and Blake brought her some flowers to celebrate. She’s one of several soulful singers–black, white, male, female–this season. Blake assigns her some contemporary R&B, “It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz. Afterwards Adam notes, “Totally different from the original!” Blake adds, “The way you navigate a melody just blows my mind. You don’t copy anything.”
8. Luke Wade of Team Pharrell takes on “Thinking out Loud,” modern R&B with a classic sound. Pharrell advises him to make it like a contemporary record. Wade chooses to play guitar and make it a singer-songwriter type of performance, more alt than he’s previously done. After the performance, the judges spend much time discussing how he came in a few beats early but recovered. Pharrell raves, “Hashtag Luke-ified again!”
9. When Matt McAndrew meets with his team coach Adam, they spend time comparing tattoos. The song choice is very contemporary, the goth-flavored alt-rock “Take me to Church” by Hozier. The geeky-looking rocker turns in a performance that mixes up Elvis Costello and Jim Morrison–but it works. Pharrell and Gwen both rave about how they want to buy the record. Pharrell exclaims, “If I was KROQ [the world-famous alt radio station] I’d be callin’ right now!” Adam proclaims that’s a guy that can win the show. He’s probably not going anywhere for a few rounds at least.
10. This season’s other really-rocks rocker is Craig Wayne Boyd of Team Blake, but tonight he shows his softer, more tender country side, singing George Strait’s “You Look so Good in Love.” Blake coaches that he wants a “full-on heartthrob moment.” Afterward Blake proclaims a “breakout moment, two in a row–every time you get on stage you show a different side, you take it to a new level.”
11. Last singer for Team Adam is Chris Jamison. Adam gives him “Jealous” by Nick Jonas, saying it’s a song the girls will like. Jamison gives it a soulful, bluesy feel, and even wears a suit for a little bit of a cocktail jazz effect. Afterwards Pharrell proclaims, “100% your best performance!” He also notes the singer’s effortless falsetto. (Jamison does sound a little like his coach, so maybe we’ll hear him do a Maroon 5 song.) Gwen calls the song perfect and notes the screaming girls in the audience.
12. Last singer of the night is Anita Antoinette of Team Gwen. I’d picked her to be one of the weaker contestants but tonight she shows some similarity to former Voice winner Tessanne Chin. She takes on the great Bob Marley classic, “Redemption Song” and evokes her memories of life in Jamaica. Gwen says it’s Anita’s chance to share her story with America.
There were so many great performances, I voted for half the field–McAndrew, Jamison, Pitts, Sill, James, and Williams. It’s likely who’s cut tonight is someone who didn’t establish a large voting base last week, but the public could prove fickle. The field will be down to ten next week.
November 18th, 2014 · No Comments
November 18th, 2014 · No Comments
November 13th, 2014 · No Comments
Teams have so far got through Season 25 of The Amazing Race without forming alliances, but now they’re starting to work together, if only temporarily. As this leg begins in Marrakesh, Morocco, six teams get their first clues in the middle of the night. They’re instructed to fly to Palermo, on the west coast of Sicily, but everyone finds no flights are available until the next night.
Everyone has to spend a night and day in the airport, then take a flight to Rome. Teams are then split between two connecting flights. The dentists (Misti/Jim) and the extreme cyclists (Kym/Alli) are on a flight that arrives in Palermo about 8 p.m. The four trailing teams (wrestlers Brooke/Robbie, surfers Bethany/Adam, gay couple T/T, and scientists Maya/Amy) are on a flight that arrives about 40 min. later.
When teams get to Palermo, their clues say to go to a theater. They take taxis there–where they find clues that say they have to return next morning. The clues are written on tambourines, and a traditional Italian dance troupe is having a party for the racers. Everyone’s encouraged to join the dancing. These kind of group activities usually happen earlier in the season, when teams are just starting to know each other. Here it gives the dentists an opportunity to show the cyclists they’re not “Team No Fun” all the time.
The tambourines have different times written on them, so teams are split into three groups the next morning. The dentists and cyclists leave the theater at 6:30, the wrestlers and scientists at 6:40, and the surfers and the gay couple at 6:50. Everyone has to find a taxi in early morning city traffic. Brooke/Robbie take 40 min. to catch a taxi, putting them in last place.
Teams taxi to Mt. Pellegrino, site of a famous auto race. Jim/Misty and Kym/Alli arrive first and find the roadblock for this leg. One team member has to put on racing gear and then run the race course in a go-cart, in less than 4 min. 7 seconds. (The episode doesn’t explain the reason for specifying such an exact time.) Jim and Kym race the go-carts, while their teammates take taxis to a rendezvous point along the beach.
Jim and Kym complete their go-cart runs on the first try. A famous Italian race car driver gives them the next clue envelopes, but they’re supposed to open and read them when they meet their teammates. Pro drivers with beautiful classic/vintage cars take the racers to the rendezvous point along the beach.
Maya/Amy get to the RB. Maya drives the go-cart but she doesn’t make the time. She has to follow the pace car back down the mtn. and take a second run. The go-cart heats run about every 20 min. So by the time she’s back to the starting line, the three trailing teams have caught up. Maya, Te Jay, Adam, and Brooke literally race back up the mtn. This time everybody makes their time, and everybody gets driven back down the mtn. to join their teammates along the beach.
When the reunited teams read their clues, they find instructions for this leg’s detour. The choices are Italian painting or Italian opera.
Only four teams may choose the painting. Four cherubs painted on the ceiling of a local church need restoration. Teams who choose this detour have to re-paint the cherubs the way Michaelangelo is supposed to have painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel–while lying on his back on a scaffold. Once teams think they’ve properly restored their cherub, they have to ask a judge. If she approves, the church priest will hand over the next clue envelope.
For the opera, teams have to travel to a local opera house. Ten costumed opera singers sing excerpts of ten arias. Each is singing a bit of their character’s part but it would take a serious opera fan to recognize them all. Once teams have seen the performance, they have to go upstairs to the costume shop, where costumes labeled with the character’s name and opera’s title are on display. Teams have to write down the characters and operas in order. If they’re correct, they get the next clue from the opera’s costume mistress.
Front-runners Misti/Jim and Kym/Alli pick the painting. When the four trailing teams get their detour clues perhaps 40 min. later, three teams dash to the church. Brooke/Robbie decide to try the opera in the first place. The couple understand it’s a memory challenge, but they’re confused when they see the performance. They’re not getting any names, just singing. They consider switching detours but realize the four available painting slots must be filled by now. They check upstairs at the costume shop and are relieved to see here’s where they can find the names.
Maya/Amy get squeezed out at the church, so they soon join the wrestler couple at the opera. At first the teams don’t work together but eventually they agree to. Amy/Maya, however, get the next clue and get out the door ahead of the wrestlers, who aren’t happy about that.
At the church, it must be a hot day with no A/C, because everyone’s complaining about the heat. People are getting the paint in their hair and their hair in the paint. One of the girl cyclists says, “I’m using a muscle in my arm I didn’t know existed.” Jim/Misti (the dentists) and Kym/Alli (the cyclists) are 1st to finish their cherubs. They get the next clue and find it’s for this leg’s pit stop, at an eighteenth-century villa.
The dentists win the leg and a trip to Jamaica. The cyclists place 2nd. Phil comments they’ve been battling for a few legs now. He also tells them this is the 300th leg of TAR.
Maya/Amy, arriving from the opera, take 3rd place. Right behind them are Brooke/Robbie, who place 4th.
Surfers Adam/Bethany finish re-painting the cherub on the church ceiling, and arrive at the pit stop in 5th place. Maybe T/T shouldn’t have been so determined to grab the fourth spot at the church because obviously the painting took longer than the opera. They finish their painting right after the surfers do, but they’re also right behind the surfers in getting to the check-in mat.
Phil tells the male couple they’re last and then, “However, this is a non-elimination leg. Some time during the next leg of the race, you’ll encounter a speed bump.”
One of the guys replies, “If the dentists can do it, we can do it.” Previews of next week show the teams travelling to Malta.