Reality TV Fans header image 1

A site for fans of reality tv shows

The Amazing Race: Season 29, 3rd Leg, 4/13/17

April 18th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Warning:  double blind U-turn ahead!  On the third leg of The Amazing Race, Season 29, the first opportunity for teams to U-turn other teams comes into play. It’s usually used by one team who’s unhappy with another, or else by a team that needs to avoid being in last place. Sometimes the team that gets U-turned stays out of last place, sometimes not.

Viewers get a lesson in world geography thanks to the complicated route this leg follows:  the nine teams receive clues in Sao Paulo, Brazil, instructing them to fly to Dar Es Salaam, a coastal city in the east African nation of Tanzania. Everyone gets the same flight. When teams arrive in Africa, they take taxis to a war memorial, and pick up a newspaper from a nearby stand. The newspaper contains an ad that will provide the next clue. The ad says to take a ferry to Zanzibar, an island some distance off the coast.

As the nine teams get to the ferry, no running order has transpired yet:  Vanck/Ashton, Tara/Joey, Olive/Seth, Matt/Redmond, Floyd/Becca, Sara/Shamir, Liz/Michael, Scott/Brooke, and London/Logan are all bunched up.

Matt/Redmond cut in the ferry ticket line. Vanck/Ashton are already considering U-turning the male team because they reneged on an agreement during the previous leg. Now the other teams aren’t happy with them, either.

Everyone gets the same ferry, but once teams disembark, they catch taxis to a marketplace, and everyone knows a double blind U-turn board is waiting. Ashton/Vanck already want to U-turn Matt/Redmond. Tara/Joey and Liz/Michael discuss U-turning someone, too.

As teams reach the U-turn board they pick up the clues for the detour:  after taking a traditional African sailboat to another location, they can weave two baskets from palm fronds, or they can build two desks and deliver them to a school. Tara/Joey reach the U-turn board first. They U-turn Seth/Olive, the policeman-firefighter team. Joey says he wants to give them a taste of what it’s like to be at the back of the pack for a change.

Ashton/Vanck are 2nd and take their chance to U-turn Matt/Redmond. U-turned teams must perform both detours.

The front-running teams are running to the sailboats as several more teams arrive. Matt/Redmond–in 6th place–discover they’ve been U-turned. The U-turn is blind but Matt/Redmond easily guess who U-turned them. Redmond yells some unsportsmanlike trash-talk at Vanck/Ashton.

Since Matt/Redmond have to do both detours, they decide to weave the baskets first. London/Logan (in 7th place) are the only other team that initially tries the basket-weaving. London reasons since she’s a crochet artist, she should be able to weave the baskets quickly. She quickly gets frustrated–too quickly, I think–and persuades her teammate to switch to the desks.

Everyone else starts the desks immediately, including Seth/Olive, who were at the back of the pack–ahead of only Sara/Shamir–when they discovered they were U-turned. Teams have to put together the type of school desks that have benches attached, using pegs and dowels instead of nails or screws, and then carry them into a nearby classroom.

Seth/Olive beat Liz/Michael by a peg. However, that makes Liz/Michael first, since Olive/Seth still have to go weave baskets. At the classroom teams try out the desks and learn a few words of Swahili, then get the next clue, which directs them to a marketplace, the site of this leg’s roadblock.

Tara/Joey are 2nd to finish the detour and move on to the RB. Brooke/Scott are 3rd, Ashton/Vanck are 4th. By this time Matt/Redmond have finished their baskets and joined the remaining teams building desks.

Tara/Joey are 1st to reach the RB, Liz/Michael, 2nd, Vanck/Ashton, 3rd. Each team gets a shopping basket and a shopping list that’s in both English and Swahili. Once they’ve done the shopping for one of the local women, she gives them the next clue, which is for this leg’s pit stop. Racers must use the money they’ve got–what they’re given at the start of each leg–for the shopping.

Mike has an advantage for this RB. He’s a butcher, and he recognizes that the word “halah” on his list means he has to get a live chicken and have it slaughtered. Joey, on the other hand, takes a while to understand. That enables Liz/Mike to move into 1st place. They get the clue for this leg’s pit stop.

Four more teams finish building the desks and start for the RB:  Becca/Floyd, Brooke/Scott, London/Logan, and Matt/Redmond. That leaves Sara/Shamir building desks and Olive/Seth weaving baskets.

Liz/Michael take a taxi to the pit stop, which is at the rooftop plaza of a local hotel. Teams have to run up several flights of stairs to reach the mat and host Phil Keoghan. Liz/Michael are 1st and they win a trip to Amsterdam. Joey/Tara are 2nd.

Vanck was able to get most of his shopping list in one place, so he completes the RB quickly. He and Ashton come to the mat, and Phil tells them they’re in 3rd place.

Although Matt/Redmond were 7th to arrive at the RB, Matt’s able to get most of his list in one place, too. The male team jumps into 4th place and head for the pit stop. Scott, who’s waiting for Brooke, comments to some of the other racers, “They did two detours and a roadblock before all of us did one each.”

Matt/Redmond come up the stairs to the mat within two minutes of Vanck/Ashton. Redmond and Ashton (two of this season’s more aggressive personalities) talk more smack until they agree they’re even. Becca/Floyd, who’ve also finished the RB, join the other two teams on the mat. That puts them in 5th place–for now.

About this time Sara/Shamir finish their desks, putting them in 8th place, and Olive/Seth finish their baskets.  When they reach the RB most of the other teams are gone. London/Logan and Brooke/Scott finish the RB, and arrive at the mat almost at the same time.

Wait!  Floyd can’t find his passport and a team can’t be checked in without their passports. That moves London/Logan into 5th place and Brooke/Scott into 6th place.

Phil tells Becca/Floyd they need to find Floyd’s passport or they can’t continue. They go downstairs and ask at the front desk if it was turned in. It wasn’t, so they use a hotel phone to call their cabbie. (He gave them his phone number.) He has the passport and returns it–but did he bring it in time?

Sara/Shamir and Seth/Olive are struggling at the RB. Sara has run out of money–several teams were complaining they thought they were being overcharged. She has the nerve to go back to some vendors and argue with them about how she wants some money back. She finally persuades them to give her a few dollars back, and that covers the remainder of her list.

Olive has money problems, too. She runs out of US dollars, so she pays with some Brazilian money left from the Sao Paulo leg. The vendors don’t know if it’s the correct amount or not. They follow her and argue with her and Seth, but he’s finally able to persuade them to accept it.

Sara/Shamir get a taxi to the pit stop but it looks like it didn’t take them very far because they still have to run a long way. Seth/Olive run the entire distance to the pit stop.

Sara/Shamir climb the stairs to the pit stop, and Phil checks them in, putting them in 7th place. Another team’s coming up the stairs–it’s Becca/Floyd, with Floyd’s passport. They take 8th place.

So a missing passport almost saved Olive/Seth, but not quite. When they come to the mat, Phil tells them they’re eliminated and says, “The U-turn took you down.” Now one of this season’s more dominant teams is out, and two teams can’t use a U-turn when the next one happens. How will this affect the rest of the race?





→ No CommentsTags: Amazing Race

The Voice: Season 12, Final Knockouts, 4/10/17

April 11th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Sometimes on The Voice, how popular a contestant may be could be as much of a factor as their voice. So when we’re wondering about why the judges (coaches) make some of the decisions they do, maybe that’s why. The final seven knockouts were performed Monday, and Alicia was the only judge who could make a steal from another judge. Of course she used it on the final knockout, at least as the edit showed.

Results–who’s in:  Lauren Judd, Vanessa Ferguson, Jesse Larson, Mark Isaiah, J Chosen, Aliyah Moulden, Troy Ramey.

Eliminated:  Andrea Thomas, Jack Cassidy, Davina Leone, Brandon Royal, Malik Devage, Caroline Sky.

Who Alicia stole:  Stephanie Rice.

Now for a knockout-by-knockout description:

1.  Team Blake, Andrea Thomas vs. Lauren Judd:  Blake’s got more country girls than he knows what to do with. Thomas sings Faith Hill’s “Cry” but she gives it what Blake calls “that Mariah Carey thing.” Judd goes for a more subtle emotional delivery with Alison Krause’s “When You Say Nothing at all.” Adam says Judd doesn’t fit the mold very well, and maybe that’s what Blake’s looking for, because he keeps Lauren Judd.

2.  Team Alicia, Jack Cassidy vs. Vanessa Ferguson:  This knockout features dueling pianists. Cassidy is from the musical Cassidy family, and originally looked like a front-runner, but Ferguson shows how much she’s influenced by her coach Alicia Keys. Cassidy’s “Unsteady” is lackluster while Ferguson sings “If I Were Your Woman,” a better and more difficult song. Viewers who remember Tessanne Chin’s challenging rendition in Season 5 probably agree Ferguson was worthy of the challenge. Alicia may may have revealed her thinking when she rooted for Ferguson even before the song started–and she keeps Vanessa Ferguson.

3.  Team Adam, Davina Leone vs. Jesse Larson:  We’ve seen the pianists, now it’s time for this season’ rock-shredding guitarist. Adam’s mismatching of his own team continues. He may be thinking that Davina Leone, being a You Tube star, has an x-factor–but Larson’s still plainly the voice. Leone can go from a bird-like chirp to a big crazy range, but Larson has a big crazy range, too. Leone sings a slow and sultry version of Britany Spears’ “Toxic.” Larson blues-shouts through some classic blues-rock, “The Letter” (the one about “my baby just wrote me a letter”). Adam calls him a wizard. Gwen says she’s never seen anyone with such command of their voice and guitar. Adam keeps Jesse Larson.

4.  Team Adam, Malik Devage vs. Mark Isaiah:  Not quite a montage, since only one knockout is covered, but we don’t see more than a few soundbytes, either. Adam keeps Mark Isaiah. Devage was probably Adam’s weakest link in these knockout rounds.

5.  Team Gwen, J Chosen vs. Brandon Royal:  Gwen probably could’ve found a way to keep both her R&B male vocalists if she wanted to, but apparently she doesn’t (or else she’s targeting one for a wildcard callback). J Chosen sings a more urban style, selecting “Without You” (not the seventies’ Nilsson hit, something else). Royal takes everyone on a trip to the Caribbean with “Redemption Song.” (Once again, longtime viewers may have fondly remembered Tessanne Chin’s performance.) Somebody probably should have used a steal here, but Gwen keeps J Chosen.

6.  Team Blake, Caroline Sky vs. Aliyah Moulden:  Sky shows off a Disney princess voice on Etta James’ “At Last” while Moulden’s still trying to find her genre:  she blues-shouted Elvis at her audition, soul’ed out during her battle, and now tries out Carrie Underwood’s hardcore country with “Before He Cheats.” (To be fair all three performances showed some rock ‘n’ roll heart.) Adam declares Moulden can sing anything. Blake keeps Aliyah Moulden.

7.  Team Gwen, Stephanie Rice vs. Troy Ramey:  Gwen’s mismatches continue, because Ramey and Rice are two of the best voices this season. We know one of these people is going to Team Alicia, though. Rice sings Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound” in a Kelly Clarkson style. Ramey sings Sia’s “Chandelier” in a classic rock style. Although Rice may be a better choice from a coaching perspective, Gwen keeps Troy Ramey.

Blake and Adam probably would’ve liked to recruit either Ramey or Rice, but Alicia is who gets the leftovers here. Stephanie Rice moves to Team Alicia.

Heading into the live performances are:

Team Adam:  Hollywood cocktail-jazz vocalist Lilly Passero, classic rocker Jesse Larson, contemporary rocker Josh West, teen idol type Mark Isaiah, and ingenue Hanna Erye.

Team Alicia: R&B vocalists Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson, ingenue powerhouse Anatalia Villaranda, alternative Stephanie Rice, and country singer Ashley Levin who may be a defense against Team Blake.

Team Blake:  R&B vocalist TSoul, country vocalists Casi Joy and Lauren Duski, versatile Aliyah Moulden and teenage Aataliyah Rose whom Harry Connick, Jr. might call a kiwi among oranges and apples.

Team Gwen:  R&B vocalists J Chosen and Quizz Swanigan, classic rocker Troy Ramey, country singer Brennley Brown, and church singer Hunter Plake. 




→ No CommentsTags: The Voice

The Amazing Race: Season 29, 2nd Leg, 4/6/17

April 9th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Leg two of The Amazing Race almost always means one team down, ten to go, and that’s the situation on Season 29. The ten remaining teams leave the pit stop in Panama City with their next clue telling them to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The teams are scattered between six flights:

  • 1st–Vanck/Ashton, Matt/Redmond
  • 2nd–Brooke/Scott, Seth/Olive, Sara/Shamir
  • 3rd–Liz/Mike
  • 4th–London/Logan (Team LoLo)
  • 5th–Tara/Joey, Becca/Floyd (Team Fun)
  • 6th–Jessie/Francesca

Once teams get to Sao Paulo, teams are to take taxis to a heliport and sign up for helicopter rides to (theoretically) avoid traffic congestion. Front-runners Matt/Redmond and Vanck/Ashton make a deal–when they get to the heliport, they’ll flip a coin to see who gets the first helicopter ride. Matt/Redmond are the 1st to arrive by a considerable margin, however, so they go ahead and sign up. When Ashton/Vanck show up, they’re not happy to find the guys didn’t wait. (Watch and see if this’ll be a factor when a U-turn comes up.)

When teams take their helicopter ride, they’re dropped off at a rooftop helipad near the plaza where the next clue box is. The top nine teams take the ride in the following order:  Matt/Redmond, Vanck/Ashton, Shamir/Sara, Seth/Olive, Brooke/Scott, Liz/Mike, Team LoLo, Becca/Floyd, and Tara/Joey. The final team, Jessie/Francesca, are stuck in traffic trying to get to the heliport.

Matt/Redmond are first to the plaza, and find the clue is for this leg’s detour. The choices are “Keep the Beat” or “Work Your Feet.” Despite Redmond’s one leg, they choose “Work Your Feet.”

Since “Keep the Beat” is about playing samba music, it would make sense if “Work Your Feet” were about dancing, but it’s not. Teams that choose this detour must go to a street gym and assemble gym equipment out of junk.

Sara/Shamir are 2nd to arrive at the detour clue box, and choose to play the samba. One person plays a drum for a street band, the other plays some other kind of percussion instrument.

Ashton/Vanck, in 3rd place, and Olive/Seth, in 4th place, choose to go to the gym. Matt/Redmond are delayed because they didn’t get everything right on the 1st try, but they’re still first to finish either detour. Their next clue instructs them to make their way to Avenida Paulista to where a bike path intersects with a plaza (Plaza de Bicyclista, I think), and find a woman who’s wearing red and yellow race colors and riding a bicycle.

Back at the clue box for the detour, Liz/Mike are 5th and, since they’re both former band geeks, choose to play the samba. Brooke/Scott, in 6th place, go to the gym. On the way Brooke falls and injures her elbow. It’s not serious but it’s painful enough to affect what happens on the rest of the leg.

Matt/Redmond have trouble finding the bike path and plaza, so Vanck/Ashton, who finished 2nd at the gym, get there 1st. The clue they get from the bicyclist is for this leg’s roadblock. It’s window washing. One team member must strap into a harness, rappel down the side of a skyscraper, and clean a window that’s been marked with yellow-and-red race colors. Once the window is clean, someone (who looks like a maintenance worker) will hand over the next clue envelope. However, if the window isn’t properly cleaned, the racer has to rappel clear down the building and then take the elevator back to the roof and start again. Ashton starts.

Several trailing teams are starting or finishing the detour. Team Lolo is the seventh team to start the detour, and they chose the music. Becca/Floyd are eighth, and they pick the music, too. Floyd played drums in high school and is now his college’s drum major.

Four teams finish playing the samba:  Sara/Shamir (4th), Liz/Mike (5th), Team LoLo (6th), and Becca/Floyd (7th). Brooke/Scott complete the gym detour, making them eighth.

Liz/Mike must’ve had a fast taxi, because they were 5th to complete the detour but are 2nd to get to the RB. Liz starts the window-washing. Matt/Redmond finally find the plaza, so they’re third to pick up their RB clue. Redmond’s one leg isn’t a problem on this task, so he starts the RB. Olive/Seth are 4th, and Seth has experience rappelling, so he does the window-washing.

Shamir/Sara are 5th to reach the RB. Shamir starts the task but he’s having a very, very bad day. First he bloodied his hands playing the drum for the samba band. Then he finds the window-washing is busting–something else. He complains his harness is too tight, and the crew adjusts it, but he’s still in so much pain he breaks a window trying to get down and see a medic. The medical crew examines him behind closed ambulance doors and ensure him there’s nothing wrong and he can continue the task.

“Every male that had to get into a harness was gonna hurt,” says one of other guys. Shamir can’t get a window washed properly, either. He has to start over several times, prolonging his agony.

Brooke/Scott reach the RB in 6th place. Her arm still hurts, so he does the RB even though he’s afraid of heights. He’s never rappelled either, not even when he was in the Boy Scouts. Becca/Floyd, arriving in 7th place, have no such problems. She’s a rock climber, after all, so she does the RB.

About the time Tara/Joey are completing the gym detour (in 9th place), Jessie/Francesca finally reach the clue box for the detour. They pick the music.

Liz is 1st to finish the RB. She and Mike get their pit stop clue, to Trianon Park, an eleven-acre urban rainforest. It’s close enough to the RB that teams may either take a taxi or travel on foot. Liz/Mike take a taxi. Ashton/Vanck are right behind but make their way on foot. Liz/Mike, who barely got tenth place last leg, win leg two. They win a trip to Barbados. They’re still on the pit stop mat when Ashton/Vanck arrive and take 2nd place. Vanck says he’s with his teammate 120% even though that’s a mathematical impossibility.

Redmond had to start over, but he and Matt still finish the RB and reach the mat in 3rd place. Seth/Olive are 4th, and Seth notes they’ve been 4th since the helicopter ride that started the visit to Sao Paulo.

Tara/Joey are 8th to start the RB, Team LoLo, 9th. Four teams finish the RB in a cluster and reach the pit stop in the following order:  Brooke/Scott, 5th, Becca/Floyd 6th, Tara/Joey, 7th, and LoLo 8th. (Lolo gained a slot on Tara/Joey at the RB but lost it on the way to the pit stop.)

Last-place Jessie/Francesca finally reach the RB where Shamir is still having problems and Sara isn’t offering much sympathy. The female team complains they can’t find the bicyclist. We can see they keep missing her as she’s riding by–they’re just not seeing her, their backs are turned or they’re looking elsewhere. Sara misdirects them down the block (“she’s around and around”) and yells at Shamir to hurry up.

The women finally do find the bicyclist, and Francesca starts the RB. Shamir finally catches a break when he’s able to finish a window ahead of her.

Shamir/Sara arrive at the pit stop, and Phil’s so busy offering sympathy for Shamir, we never do hear, “You are team number nine!” (He probably said it but this episode’s editing is confusing.) He does explain that even men who have much experience with a window-washing harness can have –problems.

Francesca finishes the RB, and she and Jessie are the tenth and last team to reach the pit stop. This season’s only female team was promising, but they’re eliminated.







→ No CommentsTags: Amazing Race

The Voice: Season 12, 2 Nights of Knockouts, 4/3/17 and 4/4/17

April 5th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

What are the coaches (judges) thinking? Season 12 of The Voice has now seen two nights featuring nine knockout rounds between singers, and on Monday night alone we saw at least five bad decisions, starting with the very first pairing:

1.  Team Alicia, Chris Blue vs. Quizz Swanigan:  Alicia says she’s pairing big bro against little bro, but I say pitting Swanigan, her 13-year-old Michael Jackson type, against 27-year-old Blue, is like sending a boy to do a man’s job. She’d have been wiser to pit Swanigan against another teen–Dawson Coyle or Anatalia Villaranda. Blue should’ve been matched against Vanessa Ferguson, Jack Cassidy, or even Coyle. Now for the performance: Blue sings Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Swanigan sings Nick Jonas’ “Chains.” Alicia keeps Chris Blue.

In the second bad coaching decision of the night, Gwen uses (wastes) her one and only steal on Quizz Swanigan, giving her three R&B vocalists. Now she can’t steal anybody else, no matter who becomes available.

2.  Team Adam, Autumn Turner vs. Hannah Erye:  In the third bad coaching decision of the night, Adam Levine matches powerful R&B singer Autumn Turner against the sparrow-like Hannah Erye, who appears to be the disposable person here. Turner’s big soulful voice adeptly handles the R&B classic, “Respect,” giving it a contemporary vibe. Eyre chirps out “Bleeding Love,” which is mostly meaningless to the over-30 portion of the audience. In perhaps the most bizarre decision of a night filled with them, Adam keeps Hannah Erye and nobody steals Autumn Turner. Maybe–it’s because Erye better fits the young ingenue type that’s popular on this show?

Hey, Gwen, if you hadn’t been so determined to steal Quizz Swanigan, you could’ve had Autumn Turner, who would’ve given your team more balance come the live rounds.  

3.  Team Gwen, Hunter Plake vs. Johnny Gates:  “They’re both alt,” says Gwen Stefani, although she could just as easily say they both wear skinny jeans. Gates has a classic blues-rock voice and knows who he is musically. Plake has a soft voice and is still finding his genre–country, pop, rock, he’s in there somewhere. Both contestants pick songs with spiritual overtones:  Plake sings “I Want to Know What Love is” and Gates sings Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons.” Plake appears to be the disposable person here–but all the judges prefer him, for inexplicable reasons. Gwen keeps Hunter Plake, maybe because she thinks he needs coaching. He is the kind of artist American Idol tends to favor but this isn’t American Idol.

Adam, Blake, and Alicia all decline to steal Johnny Gates.

4.  Team Blake, Casi Joy vs. Felicia Temple:  Blake Sheldon isn’t going to let his front-running country vocalist go, is he? It’s a strange pairing but–pairing two strong female vocalists of different genres is one of the least bizarre events of this evening. Casi sings “My Church,” a recent country hit for Maren Morris, and sounds typical country, nothing more or less. Felicia shows the bigness of her voice on the theme song from The Titanic. After Alicia hears the women sing, (even) she asks Blake, what in the world made him pair them? He comes back with, “All my pairings are that dynamic!” As expected Blake keeps his front-runner Casi Joy, who could win the season. Blake babbles about how he’s looking forward to the “old school” country Casi could do.

Nobody steals Felicia Temple, although she might have won a different pairing–say, against Aliyah Moulden or Caroline Sky.

5.  Team Adam, Johnny Hayes vs. Josh West:  Two of Adam’s best rockers enter this knockout, and one will be cut. Gates shows off his classic blues-shoutin’ voice on the Allman Brothers’ “Statesboro Blues.” West represents a more contemporary “rock nerd” type, as Adam puts it. However, West goes back to a classic rock sound, too, showing off a pure but biting tone on “Carry on, my Wayward Son,” the hit song for Kansas back in the seventies. Blake says he prefers West. So does Gwen, who calls his voice operatic. Adam keeps West, who in the past he’s compared to himself.

Nobody steals Johnny Hayes. Gwen had an interest in him originally, and if she hadn’t been so hot on Quizz Swanigan, maybe she could’ve grabbed up Hayes here. But she can’t, and neither Blake nor Alicia are interested.

6.  Team Alicia, Lilly Passero vs. Ashley Levin:  Bad coaching decisions just keep on comin’ when Alicia pairs Passero, who may be her best female vocalist, against Levin, a country singer Blake rejected. There’s some good TV storyline here–Passero’s chasing her Hollywood dream and Levin’s chasing her Nashville one–but the voice is what we’re supposed to focus on. It’s country vs. cocktail, with a twist both ways, but Passero’s plainly the better voice. Alicia wants Ashley to do some country soul (there is such a genre) so the country singer performs “Fancy,” copying Bobbie Gentry’s pop-country instead of Reba McEntire’s hardcore. Passero sings Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry on Their Own,” bringing out the song’s boozy (“drunk” sez Alicia) cocktail-jazz side, and appears ready to host a one-woman show. Alicia keeps–Ashley Levin! Good grief, that’s enough to make Passero fans kick the TV!

Alicia babbles on about how much she wants continue to coach Levin and do more country soul but–thankfully Blake and Adam swoop in like superheros to save Lilly Passero. They have one of their most passionate arguments ever, but Lilly Passero chooses to go to Team Adam, where she gives him an advantage in the live rounds. Alicia perhaps figured her team was deep enough she didn’t need Passero–but she doesn’t need Levin either.

So that was Monday. How many missteps did the coaches/judges make Tuesday?  Let’s find out! See below:

A.  Team Alicia, Anatalia Villaranda vs. Dawson Coyle:  One bad pairing can screw up a whole team, and Alicia’s now made three of them. She pairs two of her teens–but one is plainly the stronger vocalist. Villaranda is a tiny powerhouse whose vocals belie her years. Coyle hasn’t shown us much yet, and he’s still here only because Alicia–perhaps unwisely–put him on her team early in the battle rounds. Both singers make bizarre song choices–Villaranda goes Southern-Gothic with Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs,” a song that would appear to make more sense for Coyle. He rocks out with the Imagine Dragons hit, “Demons,” showing a bigger voice than he’s ever shown before, along with a Southern-Gothic side. (Think Nine Inch Nails or REM.) Blake suggests this may be the best performance of “Demons” The Voice has ever heard. Suddenly the outcome doesn’t look so obvious. Alicia keeps Anatalia Villaranda, though, despite Coyle finally showing us what he’s capable of.

Nobody steals Dawson Coyle, and Gwen’s hasty use of her steal looms larger.

B.  Team Blake, TSoul vs. Enid Ortiz: If Blake doesn’t keep TSoul he’s crazy, but Ortiz is an intriguing singer who could go far if a bracket opened up. The match-up is basically Adele vs. Otis Redding: Ortiz sings Adele’s “When we were Young” and TSoul sings a half-forgotten Redding song, “These Arms of Mine.” Alicia comments afterward that she likes TSoul’s vibratto–but she prefers Ortiz. Adam offers rare criticism: TSoul sounded like Otis, Ortiz sounded like Adele but “I would’ve liked to hear you.” TSoul was a four-chair turn but only Blake was interested in Ortiz to begin with. Blake does the most sensible thing and keeps TSoul. 

Nobody steals Enid Ortiz. Gwen and Adam have used their steals, Adam wisely, Gwen not so much. Blake can’t steal his own singer. That leaves Alicia, who passes.

C.  Team Gwen, Aaliyah Rose vs. Brennley Brown:  Gwen says she’s matching up two of her teens, two ingenues. Brennley’s 15 and country, but Blake cut her from his deep bench of female country vocalists. Aaliyah’s 14 and quirky, with Broadway/jazz/R&B flavors. (She reminds me of quirky Joey Cook, American Idol, season 14.) Pitting these two against each other might make more sense if Gwen hadn’t let Johnny Gates walk already. Aaliyah sings the contemporary hit, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” Gwen compares her to Rihanna (even though the song isn’t a Rihanna song). Brennley sings “Up the Mountain,” a Kelly Clarkson song, as a spiritual, and shows her youth, her purity, and her promise. Adam suggests, despite Brennley’s youth and inexperience, the year she holds over Aaliyah should be the deciding factor here. Gwen says, based only on what she heard in this knockout round, she’s keeping Brennley Brown.

Blake steals Aaliayah Rose. He didn’t use his steal for Johnny Gates, Dawson Coyle, Autumn Turner, or Johnny Hayes, but he’ll use it for this junior high kid.

So now Alicia’s the only coach left who can steal anybody, and there are by my count seven knockout rounds to go. We know she’ll steal from the last featured pairing, so we can tune in next week and watch six singers leave the competition, no matter what. This may be why recent years have included callbacks–but they should be handled differently. Perhaps a rule can be instigated that callbacks have to come from a pool where the judges have placed one (or two) discarded singers when the steals are almost exhausted, or something like that.


→ No CommentsTags: The Voice

The Amazing Race: Season 29 Premiere, 3/30/17

April 1st, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Let’s enjoy Season 29 of The Amazing Race while we can, since we’re not likely to see Season 30 for another year or more. I don’t know if I can post recaps of every episode, but I’m posting my recap of the premiere and then I’ll see how the rest of the season unfolds.

As has been heavily publicized, this season is not being raced by teams that applied to be on the show together. Instead 22 individual contestants–eleven men, eleven women–are assembled at the starting line and host Phil Keogh tells them they’re going to be paired up into eleven teams.

Season 29 starts at a gated park in downtown Los Angeles, where Phil assigns the 22 contestants their first task. He gives them verbal directions about walking (or running) to a luggage store several blocks away. At the luggage store are at least 22 bags tagged with small Panama flags. Each racer is to bring one bag back to the park. The order in which the racers return with a proper bag will determine what order they get to choose a teammate.

Some racers introduce themselves on the way to the store, two women bicker about the directions. It’s up to the racers to recognize the Panamanian flag tags at the store, because some bags are tagged with different flags. Policeman Joey is the only racer that picks the wrong flag, however, and has to return to the store. That puts him last in line.

Once the racers are all back at the park, lined up in the order they returned from the store, Phil instructs policeman Seth, first in line, to pick his partner. As the teams form, it appears most people are picking an attractive member of the opposite sex. (Why not?) There are a few exceptions:

  • 1st–Policeman Seth picks firefighter Olive, the top-finishing woman.
  • 2nd–Pro snowboarder Matt picks one-legged vet Redmond. (Their team handle is “the boys” as they turn out to be this season’s only male team.)
  • 3rd–Black wall street banker Shamir (who admits he wants to be teamed with a “hot chick”) picks pretty brunette real estate agent Sara.
  • 4th–Redheaded Harvard grad Scott picks young lawyer Brooke. (He later tells her he’s gay, and she suggests they be “Team Will and Grace.” Interestingly, Seth also tells Olive he’s gay.)
  • 5th–Rock climber Becca, with braided hair, and a “fun meter” pinned on her shirt, picks black CU student Floyd.
  • 6th–Vanck, a brainy, nerdy Asian-American stock analyst, picks pretty blonde real estate agent Brooke. (They’re candidates for this season’s oddest couple–she notes he’s a math person and she’s a people person, so they constantly struggle to communicate smoothly, as we see.)
  • 7th–US army officer Tara picks policeman Joey, despite his last-place finish.
  • 8th–Team LoLo results when pretty blonde artist London picks handsome salesman Logan.
  • 9th–Jenn, a swimsuit model, picks long-haired surfer Kevin. (She earlier remarked how they’re both Asians.)
  • 10th–Red-bearded butcher Mike picks farm girl Liz.
  • 11th–Six-foot-three policewoman Jesse and army sgt. Francesca are left. They’re the ones that had an argument on the way to the store. They’re the only female team this season.

Phil next tells them their first clue is in the bags they just fetched from the store, and the only express pass of the season is in one. He continues, “When I say go, run out of the park, grab a taxi to Los Angeles International Airport. There are two flights to your destination. The first flight gets there sooner.” Except he’ll drive Jesse/Francesca to the airport, as compensation for them being the last team to be paired up. (On the way to the airport, he tells them that at least they’ve had their first fight already.)

Phil’s got the signal to “Go!” down to a fine art after 29 seasons. Ten teams run out of the park, hail taxis, and search their bags.  They find their destination is the Mira Flores locks on the Panama canal in Panama City. Floyd/Becca find the express pass.

(Side note:  typically racers pick up their backpacks as they leave the starting line, and the first clue is with those. This time racers start out carrying the pushcart-style luggage they picked up at the store. Racers must have switched to their backpacks off-camera, because some are shown with backpacks at LAX and when teams check in at the first pit stop.)

First flight to Panama, which arrives at 7 a.m.:  Becca/Floyd, Seth/Olive, Matt/Redmond, Team LoLo, Brooke/Scott.

In Panama everyone picks up rental cars but promptly gets stuck in traffic for hours. Teams try to get directions and encounter a language barrier. One racer complains, “No one knows where the Panama canal is!”

Seth/Olive are the 1st team to get to the canal locks. The clue they get here directs them to drive to a nature resort and climb to the top of an observation tower, where they’ll find the next clue.

Becca/Floyd arrive in 2nd place. They encounter Scott/Brooke, arriving in 3rd place, and Brooke practically becomes hysterical, asking if they’re in last place, because they’ve been lost for three hours (an indication of the time teams have spent driving in Panama). Becca/Floyd assure them they’re not because there are still plenty of clue envelopes left. Team LoLo is the 4th team, and Matt/Redmond the 5th team, to find the locks.

About the time Olive/Seth, still in 1st place, are climbing the observation tower, the second flight arrives at about 9:35 a.m. Now it’s the six trailing teams’ turn to spend hours navigating Panama City traffic.

At the observation tower, Seth/Olive find the next clue is for a detour. Both choices involve dugout canoes. One (“shoot”) requires archery. The other (“scoot”) requires competitive-level rowing.

Seth/Olive pick “scoot.” The challenge is to win a 400-meter rowing race against a competition-level team. For the first attempt, the canoes start at the same line. For the second attempt, TAR teams get a 50-meter head start. For the third attempt, they get a 100-meter head start. They need three attempts, but as Seth notes, each time their rowing and teamwork improve. They’re the first team to finish either detour. They get the clue for this leg’s pit stop.

Becca/Floyd reach the detour in 2nd place, pick “shoot.” They must, from a dugout canoe, shoot two targets with a bow and arrow. The targets are shaped like fish (some silver, some gold, but only silver targets count). After much trying, they hit two silver fish, putting them in 2nd place. They’re the only team that completes this challenge.

Scott/Brooke are 3rd to reach the detour, and pick “shoot” but they soon give up and switch. Team LoLo, in 4th place, do the same thing. Matt/Redmond are 5th to reach the detour, but they muscle through the canoe race on their first try, enabling them to jump to 3rd place.

Via pre-taped clip Phil explains the location of this leg’s pit stop. A big bridge wraps around Panama City from one end to the other. (Seeing it reminded me of the Coronado Bridge in San Diego.) Near one end is a park with a large flagpole. If teams can find the flag, they can find Phil and the pit stop mat.

Olive/Seth reach the pit stop 1st and win the leg, but there’s no extra prize. Becca/Floyd are 2nd, Matt/Redmond, 3rd. Scott/Brooke finish the canoe-race detour and arrive at the mat in 4th place.

Front-running teams from the 2nd flight are by now attempting the detour. Several of them get dunked trying to row the canoes. Sara/Shamir finish the canoe race and arrive at the pit stop in 5th place. Ashton/Vanck try rowing, switch to shooting, switch back to the canoe race. Four teams finish the canoe race in a cluster–Team LoLo, Tara/Joey, Ashton/Vanck, and Jesse/Francesca.

At the back of the pack, Jenn/Kevin are having trouble finding the observation tower at the nature resort. Liz/Mike are having trouble completing the canoe race.

By now the sun is setting. Four middle-of-the-pack teams check in at the pit stop:  Tara/Joey in 6th place, Ashton/Vanck, 7th, LoLo are 8th (they lost several slots), and the female team is 9th.

When Jenn/Kevin arrive at the detour, they and Liz/Mike are both heartened to see another team is still on course. Liz/Mike finish the canoe race and get their pit stop clue, putting them in 10th place. Jenn/Kevin attempt the canoe race, only to be told that the detour is being called off on account of darkness. They’re given their pit stop clue, but they’re in 11th place.

Liz/Mike get lost trying to find the bridge and the flagpole. At the mat, Jenn/Kevin arrive and Phil informs them they’re the 10th team to arrive, “However, for not completing the detour, you have incurred a two-hour penalty.”

Before the two hours are up, Liz/Mike arrive at the pit stop. (The show doesn’t indicate just how much time elapses here.) Phil checks them in, putting them in 10th place. Jenn/Kevin slip to 11th place and are eliminated. If this season continues to feature twists like this, it’ll be an amazing race.







→ No CommentsTags: Amazing Race

The Voice: Three Last Battles, 3/28/17

March 29th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Three last battles, and then season 12 of The Voice moves to the next bracket–the knockout rounds. Team Blake is set, but Team Alicia, Team Adam, and Team Gwen each need one more battle. We know Adam is the only coach/judge left who can steal from another team, so we know only one singer is advancing from his pairing, and his steal will come on the last battle of the night.

1. Team Alicia, Lilli Passero vs. Lauren Judd:  Alicia assigns her final two female vocalists “Every Little Bit Hurts,” a song she’s recorded herself. Passero, a struggling Hollywood actress and singer with obvious potential, is one of the favorites of this season. Judd is a thin-voiced teenager, with a character voice that might make her a better match for Team Gwen. I detect a few off-notes in both singers’ performances, but Gwen, Adam, and Blake are unanimous–Lilly is the more experienced singer, and the more mesmerizing singer. Alicia declares the winner is Lilli Passero. Adam agrees, Lilli can win the season.

Since it’s not the last battle, we know Adam’s steal isn’t going to happen. Goodbye, Lauren Judd.

2.  Team Adam, Taylor Alexander vs. Jesse Larson:  Adam, what were you thinking? We’re about to see the most bizarre pairing of the season (so far). Alexander is this season’s only genuine country male vocalist–an alt-country vocalist, but country just the same. Larson is a rockin’ bluesy singer-guitarist similar to Adam’s very popular Season 10 rocker, Laith Al-Saadi. Adam admits the pairing makes no sense but “they’re both such oddballs,” it just might work. He assigns them “Shameless,” a song associated with both Garth Brooks and Billy Joel. I’m beginning to wonder if he picked the song and then picked a pairing to go with it. The problem here isn’t the simply the difference in styles–it’s that Larson’s definitely the stronger, more powerful vocalist, and against Alexander’s coffeehouse type, it’s like a heavyweight vs. a middleweight. After the performance, Blake says he’s impressed with Taylor–but considering Blake passed on Taylor to begin with, you’ve got to wonder if he wasn’t all that impressed. Gwen likes Jesse, and Alicia is non-committal–except she does admit Jesse’s one of the strongest singers in the competition. Adam keeps Jesse Larson. 

Since the other three teams are full, this season’s only male country vocalist, Taylor Alexander, says goodbye. I’m beginning to think that to be a country singer on Team Adam is to disappear.

3. The last battle–Team Gwen, Brandon Royal vs. Davina Leone: We know that one of these vocalists is going to Team Adam. We finally get to see and hear more than a soundbyte of You Tube star Leone–she was previously seen only in a brief montage. Gwen assigns them the Weeknd’s “In the Night,” explaining she wants them to sing something modern, something pop. Celebrity guest adviser Celine Dion really gets into this one, critiquing not just the singing, but the choreography. She particularly gets after Leone to be less shy. After the performance, Blake spends so much time gushing over Royal, the other judges make wisecracks about it. Gwen declares Brandon Royal the winner. She admits afterward she didn’t want Blake to get him. (I’m guessing she didn’t want Adam to get him, either–and if she let him go to Team Adam, he just might end up on Team Blake.)

Adam moves Davina Leone to his team, giving him three female vocalists to five male vocalists.

Next week the knockout rounds begin, with tournament-like brackets that will force the judges to cut their teams in half again, plus whomever they steal. Here’s how the teams stand now:

Team Adam:  Rockers Jesse Larson, Josh West and Johnny Hayes, teen idol type Mark Isaiah, R&B vocalists Malik Davage and Autumn Turner, You Tube star Davina Leone, and pop vocalist Hannah Erye.

Team Blake:  You Tube star TSoul, country singers Andrea Thomas, Casi Joy, and Lauren Duski, Alicia Keys fans Caroline Skye and Felicia “Keys” Temple, Southern Gothic Enid Ortiz and bluesy young Aliyah Moulden.

Team Alicia:  R&B vocalists Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson, along with boy R&B vocalist Quizz Swanigan, female pop vocalists Lilli Passero and Anatalia Villaranda, country singer Ashley Levin, country-flavored Dawson Coyle, and Jack Cassidy of the Cassidy family.

Team Gwen:  R&B vocalists JChosen and Brandon Royal, country-flavored Hunter Plake, rockers Johnny Gates and Troy Ramey, country female vocalist Brennley Brown, and quirky female vocalists Stephanie Rice and Aaliyah Rose. 



→ No CommentsTags: The Voice

The Voice: The–Almost–Final Battles, 3/27/17

March 28th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Musical March madness continues on The Voice as Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, and Alicia Keys are putting their vocalists through tournament-style brackets. Who advanced and who went home in last night’s battle rounds?

1.  Team Blake, TSoul vs. Josh Hoyer:  Blake says these two male vocalists are cut from the same cloth musically. I say, You Tube star TSoul is contemporary R&B with a touch of Alicia Keys, Hoyer’s more straight-up barroom blues. The song assignment is the sixties’ R&B hit, “The Midnight Hour.” Blake says, the battle is “literally two peas in a pod.” I say, not literally, Blake, but it’s a tough battle to call. If Blake cuts TSoul, he’ll probably get stolen, but the same could be said for Hoyer. Blake says, “The winner is TSoul.”

Nobody steals Hoyer. In a post-battle interview, Adam explains he’s short on female vocalists and he’s holding a slot open for one.

2.  Team Alicia, Autumn Turner vs. Vanessa Ferguson: These two female vocalists have some vocal resemblance to Keys. They sing the plaintive seventies’ ballad, “Killing me Softly with his Song.” Blake says the battle is about as equal as it can be. Alicia keeps Ferguson.

Adam and Gwen both talked about a steal during their comments, so it’s not a surprise when both hit their buttons for Turner. Despite Blake taking Gwen’s side, Autumn Turner moves to Team Adam. So Levine’s added the female vocalist he wanted.

3.  Team Adam, Johnny Hayes vs. Julien Martinez: The lady judges appear to be enjoying two of Adam’s rockers battling on “So Hard to Handle” (a hit in different genres and decades for Otis Redding and the Black Crowes). Hayes appears to be the hardcore rocker here, Martinez–he’s admittedly more theatrical. Adam admits, “There’s no good decision here” but keeps Hayes. 

Nobody steals Martinez, even though Blake and Gwen appear to still have slots open.

4. Team Gwen, Caroline Skye vs. Stephanie Rice: The song assignment is “The First Cut is the Deepest.” Skye shows she’s young and pure and pretty, but Rice sounds older and wiser, with more color and grit. She’d appear to be the clear favorite here.  Gwen says, “The winner is Stephanie,” and explains later, “She’s all heart.”

Blake uses the steal for Skye that he didn’t use for Martinez. He’s now out of steals.

5.  Team Adam, Kawan DeBose vs. Malik Devage: Adam’s R&B vocalists are assigned John Legend’s “Love Me Now.” BTW Legend is acting as Team Adam’s celebrity guest adviser, so he knows the song well. Legend and Levine get after both singers for not being adequately prepared during rehearsal. The shakiness continues into the performance, but DeBose is the more experienced singer. So Adam’s choice of Devage as the winner is unexpected. 

Nobody steals DeBose.

6. through 8. Montage time! 

6. Team Blake, Enid Ortiz defeats Valerie Ponzio, and nobody steals Valerie.

7.  Team Adam, Hannah Erye defeats Sheena Brook, and nobody steals Sheena. (I thought either vocalist was a prime candidate for a steal.)

8.  Team Gwen, Troy Ramey defeats–check it online–Jozy Bernadette. Nobody steals Jozy.

9.  Back to featured duets–Team Alicia, Jack Cassidy vs. Hunter Plake:  Alicia says Cassidy has the stronger vocals, but Hunter puts more emotion into his singing. As they duet “Dancing on my Own,” they both sound shaky to me. The judges are divided. Gwen thinks Jack has some “beautiful spots.” Adam thinks Hunter should be the winner. Blake has mixed feelings, “Jack’s gonna win–then I’m back on Hunter’s train!” Alicia pronounces Cassidy the winner. She says, “I want to un-tame you!”

Adam very much wanted Cassidy during the auditions but now he wants to steal Plake. The problem is, so does Gwen. Despite Plake admitting he’s an Adam Levine fan, he picks Gwen.   

That means, though, Adam is the only judge/coach left with a slot to fill. He’ll get his chance tonight, and it will have to come from Team Gwen or Team Alicia.

→ No CommentsTags: The Voice

The Amazing Race: Throwback, Season 16, Argentina, Original Air Date 2/28/10

March 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Throwback Thursday is today, and a week from today Season 29 of The Amazing Race premieres March 30. While we wait let’s take a look back at Season 16, when cowboys Jet/Cord dominated in South American cow country. “They’ve got tricks up their sleeves and then their tricks have tricks,” one of the other teams (lesbian couple Carol/Brandy) complained.

As teams leave the pit stop in Puerto Vallas, Chile, they get clues to start the third leg by taking a bus over the Andes to Bariloche, Argentina. They’re also given a classic photo of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch, on which a Travelocity gnome has been photoshopped. Their destination is a saloon (El Boliche Viejo) that Butch and the Kid frequented while they were in Argentina.

The first three teams are to leave on an 8:30 a.m. bus:

  • Cowboys (and brothers) Jet/Cord
  • Married couple Heidi/Joe
  • Lesbian couple Carol/Brandy

The remaining six teams are on an 8:50 a.m. bus:

  • African-American women lawyers Monique/Shawne
  • Policemen Louie/Michael
  • Big Brother couple Jordan/Jeff
  • Brothers Dan/Jordan
  • Pro baseball coach Steve Smith and his daughter Allie
  • Dating models Brent/Caite

Caite/Brent were supposed to leave in fourth place, but came down with symptoms of food poisoning and had to go to the ER just before their start time. They recover in time to catch the 8:50 bus with the other trailing teams.

The first three teams reach Bariloche and pick up waiting rental cars. Before getting on the bus, Jet/Cord found a woman who spoke English and could give them driving directions, so they’re first out of the parking lot and know where they’re going. They notice Heidi/Joe and Carol/Brandy are following them. They pull over and pretend to read their map while the other teams drive by.

Heidi/Joe are first to reach the saloon (“The Old Joint” in English), but Carol/Brandy and the cowboys are right behind. The task at the saloon is to win a hand of five-card stud against a Travelocity gnome. Once a team wins, the dealer gives them the gnome, which has the next clue on the bottom. The cowboys get several bad hands, so Joe/Heidi are first to get the next clue. Carol/Brandy are second.

A gaucho festival is going on next to the saloon, and that’s where this leg’s Roadblock is. Teams must rope an artificial steer–a bullhead on a hay bale. The envelopes with the next clue are attached to the hay bales. Heidi and Carol start roping, or trying to.

Although the cowboys are third to start the RB, Jet’s the first contestant to rope a bullhead. Cord says afterward, “Brandy thought it wasn’t fair, that this roadblock was too much like our way of life. We didn’t throw a fit because they knew Spanish and we didn’t!”

Carol is the 2nd to rope a bullhead, Heidi third. By now teams from the second bus are starting to reach the saloon. Jeff/Jordan are the 4th team to arrive (1st from the 2nd bus). When Jeff gets a winning hand, he jumps up and knocks a chair over in his excitement. He exclaims, “I’m bustin’ up the joint!”

The clue on the hay bale at the RB instructs teams to drive their rental cars to an area where cliffs overlook a river–Puente Nirihuau–and search along the cliffs. When the cowboys reach the site, they’re still in first place. They find a clue box that contains choices for this leg’s detour: “Horse Power” or “Horse Sense.”

“Horse Power” involves scoring a goal at a nearby polo field. The cowboys go to pick themselves out a polo horse, only to find that they’ll have to use a wooden practice horse. Teams must take turns hitting the ball, and move the wooden horse to the ball each time. If they score a goal in less than ten swings, they’ll get the next clue. If they don’t score a goal in less than ten swings, they have to carry the wooden horse back down the field and start over.

The cowboys score a polo goal before any other teams get to the field. They’re awarded a trophy that has the name of the pit stop–a ranch called Estancia Fortin Chacabuco–on it. They drive to the pit stop, take first place, and win a trip to Argentina (so they can return to South American cow country someday).

The other detour, “Horse Sense,” involves bandits and hidden loot. Teams first visit a gunslinger waiting by the railroad (like he’s about to hold up the train) who gives them coordinates to pace off, leading to a spot where a bag of “money” is buried with the ropes poking up. When the team finds a bag that matches their coordinates, they’re to take it to the train station, hand it over to the lead bandit, and he’ll give them a gold coin in return. That coin bears the name of the pit stop.

Several teams try “Horse Sense” but few of them show much horse sense. Carol/Brandy are the 2nd team to get to the detour. They get their coordinates and start pacing them off, but one sees a shovel in the ground, and she’s certain they’ve found the buried loot. That’s not the spot, and they’ve gone off their line for nothing. They argue about it for a long time, give up, and switch to the polo field.

Back at the RB, Jeff ropes his bullhead, making him and his girlfriend Jordan 4th. Steve/Allie arrive and complete the task, putting them in 5th place. The policemen and the black women arrive, 6th and 7th in a virtual tie. Brothers Dan/Jordan arrive in 8th place (they had bad driving luck) but they get the RB done quickly and jump two slots. Louie/Michael are the 7th team to get a bullhead roped. Monique/Shawne are still trying, and Caite/Brent haven’t arrived yet.

Jeff/Jordan arrive at the detour and try pacing off the coordinates. They don’t get them right, and when they find a bag, they’re confused about who to give it to. They think the head bandit is the guy that gave them the directions, and they’re missing the part about a train station. They make several tries and can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong.

Heidi/Joe get to the detour, and Joe insists he doesn’t need to pace off coordinates because he can just use his own compass. (Insert joke about men not following directions here.) They find a bag and take it to the train station, but the bandit doesn’t accept it because the team’s directions don’t match the numbers on the bag. The couple give up and switch to “Horse Power.”

Brent/Caite, who had very bad driving luck, are the ninth team to get to the RB, but Brent gets his bullhead roped on his second try. Monique/Shawne are left trying, and trying, and trying to rope a bullhead. They pray, and maybe that works, because they finally do get the bullhead roped.

Steve/Allie arrive at the detour in fifth place, and immediately pick the polo field. They finish quickly, becoming the second team to finish either detour. Carol/Brandy score their polo goal and that puts them in third place. Joe/Heidi finish the polo, too, so they’re fourth. The three teams reach the pit stop in the same order.

Louie/Michael get to the detour and choose “Horse Sense.” They decide they don’t have to pace off coordinates, just do a grid search of the field. (Again we have a case of, men can’t follow directions.) They search, and find some bags, but the bags don’t match their coordinates, and some are decoys (nothing but ropes). Jeff/Jordan, still searching for their bag, hear the policemen reading the numbers on a bag.

“That’s our bag!” the Big Brother couple exclaim. They take it from the policemen, and find the right man at the train station to give it to. He summons an accomplice to ride away with it, and gives them a gold coin with the name of the pit stop on it. They place fifth.

By this time Dan/Jordan have arrived at the detour. They, too, try “Horse Sense” but fail to find a bag that matches their coordinates. They give up and switch to the polo field.

Louie/Michael switch to the polo field. Brent/Caite arrive at the detour and immediately choose polo. So do Monique/Shawn.

Dan/Jordan need three attempts to score a polo goal in less than ten swings, but they do. They get to the pit stop in sixth place. Caite/Brent score a polo goal and they place seventh.

Louie/Michael score their polo goal and get to the pit stop–putting them in eighth place. Monique/Shawn are left struggling with the wooden horse and the mallet on the polo field. They become concerned they may injure themselves, so they switch to pacing off the coordinates in search of the bandit gang’s loot. They’re the one team of the day that actually completes the “Horse Sense” detour according to instructions. They’re the last team to arrive at the pit stop, and are eliminated.










→ No CommentsTags: Amazing Race · Reality TV

The Voice: Season 12, More Battles, 3/21/17

March 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

When The Voice is in battle rounds, who duets with whom and who gets stolen determines who gets through to the next round. That means some people are going to go home who shouldn’t have, and some people are going to stay despite not appearing to be a front-runner. Here’s what we saw and (thanks to three battles being condensed into sound-bytes) didn’t see Tuesday night:

1.  Team Gwen, Johnny Gates vs. Sammie Zonana:  Gwen says she paired these two because they’re both alternative (or in Adam’s words, “leather-clad bad *sses”). She–and celeb guest mentor Celine Dion–make much of the song assignment, “I Drove all Night.” It was recorded by Celine Dion, but also by Roy Orbison and Cyndi Lauper, and the latter two singers are more likely models for Gates’ and Zonana’s vocals. Gwen likes Gates’ “character” voice and, despite this show being The Voice she says she thinks the deciding factor will be stage presence. All three of Gwen’s fellow judges think this battle’s winner is Johnny Gates, and Gwen must agree because she keeps him. 

Nobody steals Sammie Zonana.

2.  Team Alicia, RJ Collins vs. Chris Blue:  Alicia says both male vocalists have beautiful, soulful voices but in different ways. She compares Collins to Usher, Blue to Marvin Gaye. She gives them “Adorn,” a contemporary hit, but one she thinks has a classic R&B style. Her celeb guest advisor, DJ Khaled, suggests the result sounds like nineties’ R&B, like New Edition. Gwen provides the most memorable moment of this battle, however, because after the performance she starts babbling to Blue about, “I was mesmerized by your body” and to Collins about, “distracting me.” Adam thinks the voices were super-even, while Blake says, “RJ, your stage presence is incredible but, Chris, I think you could be in the finals.” Alicia keeps Chris Blue, explaining that he has a versatility that she has yet to scratch the surface of.

Nobody steals RJ Collins. I supposed the other judges would be hot to bid for him, but they aren’t, maybe preferring to work with the R&B vocalists they already have.

3. through 5. Montage:  NBC and Voice producers, please don’t reduce any battle rounds to sound-byte caricature anymore. I know we can go online to watch, but we shouldn’t have to. Next season, jiggle the airtime or the number of contestants or whatever, but let us see why people were kept or not, instead of sending the message that some contestants don’t matter. Now for the results, which we’re not even sure we really saw–except a check of the NBC site reveals the current teams and no additional steals:

3.  Team Adam, Nala Price vs. Josh West, Adam keeps West. Nobody steals Price.

4.  Team Gwen, Aaliyah Rose vs. Savannah Leighton, Gwen keeps Rose. Nobody steals Leighton.

5.  Team Blake, Andrea Thomas vs. Micah Tryba, Blake keeps Thomas. Nobody steals Tryba.

6.  Team Blake, Dawson Coyle vs. Aliyah Moulden:  Blake takes two of his young pop singers who could be country, and assigns them the eighties’ pop hit, “Walkin’ on Sunshine.” During the performance, Moulden sounds less like the blues-shouter that she was at her audition, and more soulful (like the Aaliyah, maybe). By comparison Coyle’s more like a back-up singer who has a featured part with the star. Gwen likes Moulden–but Adam and Alicia like Coyle. Blake keeps Moulden, which makes sense.

Alicia uses the only steal she’s got left on Coyle, which doesn’t make much sense. She says he fills a certain slot on her team, but I don’t think he’s going to win the season, and there are more intriguing possibilities left on the board.

So RJ Collins is out, Dawson Coyle is still in. Tune in next week to see who else stays and goes.



→ No CommentsTags: The Voice

The Voice: Season 12, Let the Battles Begin, 3/20/17

March 21st, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Time for the battle rounds to begin, when the Voice judges discard contestants like so many playing cards. The contestants get the honor of being coached by the judges and their celebrity guest advisers:  Celine Dion (Team Gwen), John Legend (Team Adam), Luke Bryant (Team Blake) and DJ Khaled (Team Alicia).

Predicting who’ll get to the next round is difficult because much depends on the pairings for duets. Each judge gets two steals, so I will predict some possibilities:

Alicia Keyes  really wanted one guy she didn’t get, You Tube star TSoul. She may want him if Blake cuts him, but Adam and/or Gwen may want him, too.

Gwen Stephani may be interested in Johnny Hayes and/or Hanna Erye.

Adam Levine may want to broaden his rock bench with Troy Ramey, Jack Cassidy, or even the soulful RJ Collins.

Blake Sheldon may want Troy Ramey, too, or Adam’s country singers Taylor Alexander or Sheena Brook should Adam be foolish enough to cut them. Blake also really wanted Gabby Borromeo, Stephanie Rice and Julien Martinez.

Now for what actually happened Monday night:

1.  Team Blake,  Brennley Brown vs. Lauren Duski: Blake’s putting two of his most charming country girls together because, he says, they’re both country-pop, so “the lane has to be clear.” He assigns them “Better Man,” composed by Taylor Swift, as sung by Little Big Town. I call the performance for Lauren, because she shows about ten years of experience on the teenage Brennley. Gwen lets it be known she prefers Brennley’s “innocence.” Blake admits, “This one hurts,” but he picks Lauren. 

Gwen signals to steal Brennley. Adam does, too, but he needn’t have bothered, because Brennley picks Gwen as her next coach.

2.  Team Gwen, J Chosen vs. Kenny P. If emerging season favorite J Chosen were to be come available, Adam, Blake, and Alicia would all likely signal for a steal, but Kenny P didn’t get the same level of enthusiasm when he auditioned. Gwen assigns the two male vocalists Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her.” Kenny comments about the pairing, “I’ve got a lot of power, he’s got a lot of control.” Gwen decides to keep J Chosen.

Nobody steals Kenny P.

3.  Team Alicia, Anatalia Villaranda vs. Missy Robertson:  Tiny Anatalia is only 16, but she out-performs Missy, even though Missy’s much more experienced. Alicia calls the tiny young Filipino-American a “a female Bruno Mars.” Alicia keeps Anatalia.

Nobody steals Missy.

4.  Team Adam, Gaby Borromeo vs. Mark Isaiah:  Adam pairs two of his mainstream pop youth-appeal types–Borromeo with her anime-character look and Isaiah with his resemblance to Justin Bieber. They make an edgy sweetheart duet out of a Zayn hit, “Pillow Talk.” Blake comments he’s leaning to Mark who “really had a grasp on the song.” Alicia says the choice is between a powerhouse female vocalist or a male vocalist who’s a little smoother. Gwen says she’s leaning to Mark, too. Adam keeps Mark.

Blake doesn’t steal Gaby, maybe because of his feeling Mark was the winner here, and nobody else steals Gaby, either.

5.  Team Alicia, Felicia “Keys” Temple vs. Quizz Swanigan:  Alicia pairs two of her soul singers. Does she want the person with a vocal resemblance to her, or the very young male vocalist whose voice is beginning to change–but still resembles a very young Michael Jackson? Alicia assigns them the very popular hit, “Titanium.” Felicia’s more experienced–but Quizz gives the impression something unique is developing here. Adam and Blake both advise keeping Temple, but Alicia keeps Swanigan. 

Blake steals Felicia Temple, boasting she can win this thing. He apparently saw something in her that he didn’t see in Borromeo.

6. Team Blake, Casi Joy vs. Ashley Levin, with Blake explaining he’s matching his two classic country types–he sees these female vocalists as similar to Tammy Wynette or Reba McEntire. He assigns them McEntire’s “How Blue.” He says it’s his toughest battle and predicts neither singer will go home. After the duet, Gwen comments that Casi is more experienced, but Adam says Ashley may have taken it. Blake keeps Casi.

Everybody else wants to steal Ashley, just as Blake predicted. Adam and Gwen give good pitches but Levin joins Team Alicia. That’s going to make for some interesting coaching during the next round.

Battle rounds continue tonight. Who’ll be kept, discarded, stolen, next?

→ No CommentsTags: The Voice