Couchtime WIth Jill

Sharp & snarky TV recaps with Jill Mader. (@jillemader on Twitter)

American Idol – It’s Still Rock and Roll To Them

Seven contestants and the show is STILL two hours long? Shut up, American Idol. That’s ridiculous.

Anyway, the theme for the evening was rock and roll – no ballads allowed -, and there aren’t any rockers on this season of the show. So some singers figured out how to make it work, and some were total disasters. I was just happy to have a week free of sappy ballads.

Burnell Taylor – “You Give Love a Bad Name”
This was one of the disasters. That awkward kick he did at the end pretty much summed it up. This was a terrible song choice for Burnell. Not a great performance.

Kree Harrison – “Piece of my Heart”
OK, that intro piece on how Kree knows everyone’s names was kind of adorable. This song was so perfect for her that I knew she’d kill it. It was a tad predictable – nothing about the performance was that different from any other cover of this song. But it was solid.

Janelle Arthur – “You May Be Right”
Another bad song choice. Even if Janelle was going to go with Billy Joel – I love Billy Joel! – another song would have been better. Her tempo was off, and it just didn’t sound great. Her worst performance so far.

Lazaro Arbos – “We Are The Champions”
Lazaro doesn’t have a big enough voice to pull off a Queen song, and this wasn’t fantastic. But it wasn’t the worst thing he’s ever done, either.

Candice Glover – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
Great performance, and a great song choice. This song has tons of attitude, it’s a good tempo, and it lets you show off your voice. Everyone should’ve done a Stones song. I knew Candice would rock it, and she didn’t disappoint.

Amber Holcomb – “What About Love”
Performance of the night. Amber came out looking and sounding like a star. I can see Amber being in music right now, and I’d be happy if she won this season. I think she’s grown and improved more than most people on this show. I think this girl is ready to be a pop star.

Angie Miller – “Bring Me To Life”
I’m not a big fan of this song, but it was a good fit for Angie’s voice and I appreciated that she chose something more contemporary than everyone else. This was a very good performance.

There is a clear top four here, displayed every week – Candice, Amber, Angie and Kree are consistently the best. I’ve been waiting for Lazaro and Burnell to be eliminated, and this week I think Janelle showed that she’s the weakest among the ladies. Here’s my rankings for this week, which had its ups and downs but was overall stronger than I expected.

  1. Amber Holcomb
  2. Candice Glover
  3. Kree Harrison
  4. Angie Miller
  5. Lazaro Arbos
  6. Janelle Arthur
  7. Burnell Taylor

Indeed, Burnell Taylor was eliminated. I think he’s overall more talented than Lazaro, but his performance this week was the weakest. I was SHOCKED that Lazaro was included in the top three this week (along with Kree and Angie), and I’m worried that pity and tween girls who think he’s cute will carry him further into this competition than he deserves to go. Why wasn’t Amber in the top three? Is she not likable? I think she’s fantastic!

What did you guys think of Idol this week?


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Funny Friday – A Sitcom Roundup

funny friday This week:

  • The Mindy Project
  • Modern Family
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Community
  • Parks and Recreation
  • The Office
  • New Girl

The Mindy Project – “My Cool Christian Boyfriend”
I really liked this episode. Mindy’s romance with a hot, hip minister brought out some of her funniest traits, and even Morgan made me laugh this week. Yeah, the episode was wacky and the prison riot was over-the-top. But I still thought it was hilarious. I like jokes, and Mindy just has a lot of moments that make me laugh.
Best moment: “women’s prison you guys? Come on, if I wanted to get shanked, I’d just shave my legs drunk again.”
Runner up: Danny’s jokes about becoming more Catholic.

Modern Family – “The Future Dunphys”
I’ve got to say, I really liked this episode. It was a little darker than the show usually goes, with Claire’s heart issue. Meanwhile, Lily announcing that she’s gay threw Gloria, Mitch and Cam into a hilarious, uncomfortable panic. She’s only four! Usually I hate Lily storylines, but I liked this, how it tied into Lily’s Vietnamese heritage, and her parents’ lack of knowledge about her culture. I loved the Jay and Manny storyline as well. Manny’s quest to get into a fancy prep school not only played into Jay’s old childhood insecurities, but Manny’s privileged, white upbringing.
Best moment: The entire restaurant scene was my favorite.
Runner up: “You might want to wheel her past the burn unit, she just got scorched.”

The Big Bang Theory – “The Tenure Turbulence”
This episode felt kind of slow to me – all that and we didn’t find out who got tenure? Only that Sheldon, Raj and Leonard all made the short list? The race jokes didn’t work for me, and Raj as a spoiled rich kid rubbed me the wrong way. The funniest moments were Leonard on the elliptical because, of course and Penny and Amy getting involved in the competition.
Best moment: “Did she do it yet?”

Community - “Herstory of Dance”
This season of Community has felt like the writers have been reaching into a hat filled with episode ideas they pulled off of Reddit. Jeff dealing with his daddy issues, Pierce being weird, Britta being a feminist, etc. This episode was OK, and kind of sweet. But my issue with this season of Community remains that it has yet to make me laugh.

Parks and Recreation – “Partridge”
This wasn’t the funniest episode of Parks, but it was insanely sweet. As a big fan of Ben and Leslie, I loved seeing her stick up for him at his mean home town. Meanwhile, Councilman Jamm’s lawsuit against Ron provided enough laughs, as did Ann and Chris’s concern about their compatibility as parents – even though the latter storyline feels a little rough around the edges.
Best moment: Skim milk is water that’s lying about being milk. Couldn’t agree more!

The Office – “Promos”
The documentary is airing on a local Scranton PBS channel, which I thought felt very appropriate for the show. And the gang just realized that there were times they didn’t know the crew were filming – like Angela’s 3pm sex romps with Dwight. I liked seeing everyone panic, but I didn’t love that it tied back into Brian the boom mic guy. The other two storylines – Jim’s work and Dwight’s girlfriend – didn’t hold my attention at all.

New Girl – “First Date”
Guys! The return of Nick’s old, Asian, man friend! I adored that conversation. “Settle down!” “Of course you would, you dirty dog!” I really like how New Girl has handled the Nick and Jess romance, and their awkward, drunk first date was hilarious.
Best moment: “If he even looks at my pomade caddy, I will turn every homeless person in this city against him! I will poison every pie on every windowsill!”

The Mindy Project – “Pretty Man”
This episode of Mindy was better than Tuesday’s, and I liked both. But the combination of Mindy accidentally almost hooking up with a prostitute and Danny accidentally throwing a huge party was killer. The party was also a great reason for the storylines to merge – a positive, since I think some episodes have suffered from weak B or C plots.
Best moment: “I’m not paying ten bucks to check a five dollar coat.”
Runner up: “I believe there was a human bone in your hallway.”


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Survivor – “This is exactly what my love life needs.”

merge

The tribes merge to become “Enil Edam”.

The tribes have merged on Survivor: Caramoan, and the result was the best episode yet in a season that has already been pretty solid. Pre-merge, the season was okay. The favorites dominated the fans, the challenges were exciting, but crazy personalities (Shamar, Phillip, Brandon) dominated over strategy. This episode changed all that. It was all strategy, shifting alliances, betrayals and last minute moves. It was glorious.

Following Tribal Council, Phillip pulled Dawn and Corinne aside to say he’d thrown the challenge “in the moment”. “At the challenge. That’s convenient! That’s around the same time you blew the challenge,” Corrine scoffed. Oh, Phillip. Why bother with this silly delusion?

dawn

It’s a new day, it’s a new Dawn

The next day, Dawn was feeling a little emotional – no surprise there. They’re around the same point in the game that she was last time when everything went to hell in a handbasket. Cochran had told her he was going to flip, she did nothing about it, and her entire game fell apart. Knowing the outcome of the episode, this was blatant foreshadowing. But I also think it’s pretty revealing about where Dawn’s head is at.

Dawn seems ready to play a more aggressive game, make moves and be in control. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Dawn make the finals this season. (I hope she does, as she’s my pick in my mom’s Survivor office pool.)

The tribes merged with little fanfare – the orange tribe left their beach to join the purple tribe, and Malcolm named the tribe for his mom – Madeline, spelled backwards as “Elin Edam”. Why do people keep falling for this? It’s a little funny, though.

Eat It, Eat It, No One Wants To Be Defeated

The first individual Immunity Challenge was a gross eating contest, which is both one of my most and least favorite challenges. On the one hand, it is kind of fun to watch people freak out and root for unlikely winners. On the other hand, it has all the qualities that made me hate Fear Factor. I can only watch so much of people eating (and spitting out) disgusting things, and now I have had my fill for the next three years.

Going into the challenge, Eddie – ever the voice of shallow vanity – voiced concern that participating would turn women off of him when the game was over. No one will sleep with a cute fireman who ate cow testicles on national TV! Or that was his fear, anyway. Cochran, however, had no worries – he thought the challenge would give him a “wild streak” and make him seem dangerous to women. “I think this is exactly what my love life needs,” he told the camera. Cochran needs to make the finals this season because I can’t live without his hilarious commentary.

cochran 2

Cochran

Not only did Cochran participate in the challenge, but he won it! It was a nail-biter. And a stomach-churner. For the first round, everyone ate live larvae. Kudos to Andrea for being the only gal to make it through to the next round. Those six people chowed down on slimy, grey disgusting “ship worms” and Malcolm, Eddie and Cochran were the unfortunate victors. Eddie was knocked out next, when the three dudes had to eat a bird embryo. (That was the one that grossed me out the most.) Rob’s favorite quote of the night was Eddie saying “I bit into the beak first”, but it mostly just made me want to barf. For the grand finale, Cochran and Malcolm ate brains and Cochran JUST beat out Malcolm.

This challenge wouldn’t have been nearly as good had Cochran not won. But his dancing and humble-bragging made my day. “Me, this little pipsqueak, and Malcolm the golden god of the tribe – and I win?” he incredulously told the camera. He apologized to the tribe for his excessive celebration, justifying it by admitting there are so few challenges he has a chance at winning. Even Malcolm had to be happy for the guy.

Movin’ and Shakin’

The best part of the episode, though, was everything that happened after the challenge. THIS is why I watch Survivor. I love watching people strategize, screw up, make moves that are the best for them, betray people and all the rest of it. Particularly this season, it’s fascinating to see what a huge role personal relationships played in the moves. Phillip and Corinne’s personal differences have everything to do with these moves, as do Andrea’s dislike of Corinne and Erik and Brenda’s original alienation from the rest of the Favorites. But then you have someone like Dawn, who’s making her moves right now purely based on getting herself further in the game.

First, Phillip told Corinne that he wanted to split the votes between Reynold and Eddie. It’s the obvious, Survivor 101 move for the Favorites alliance – pick off the minority opposition, beginning with the big physical threats. However, Corinne secretly wanted to betray Phillip. But she made a big mistake right here. Corinne suggested voting out Sherri instead – let’s talk about why that was a mistake.

corinne

Corinne

Corinne and Malcolm’s plan to break off from the Favorite’s alliance meant that they’d have a new alliance of them, Reynold, Eddie, Michael and, hopefully, Erik. That’s a best case scenario alliance of six in a tribe of twelve. Not good enough. Corinne tried to convince Phillip to vote out Sherri so that suspicions wouldn’t be raised, but there was no good reason to make that move. Instead, Corinne should have agreed to Phillip’s plan. Then she and Malcolm should have made their big play and targeted Phillip. They easily could have gotten Sherri on board with that plan, and that would have given them a majority. Later, when Dawn approached Sherri about an alliance, she said “The problem is, I can’t stand Phillip. He’s so arrogant.”

Instead, Corinne made another huge mistake – she told Dawn that they were targeting Sherri as the vote, that they had a backup alliance, and that Phillip would likely be voted out next. Why did Corinne think Dawn would be OK with this plan?

If I’m Dawn, I look at that pre-formed alliance of young, strong players and think “They’re only asking me as a last resort. Corinne and Malcolm are running the show, and I’m on the bottom of that alliance.” Dawn wasn’t going to repeat the mistake she made in the first season, but this time instead of tattling on Cochran she was plotting with him. They agreed that Sherri and Phillip getting voted out would leave the two of them in a very shaky position, and it would put Corinne in a position of power.

Cochran and Dawn had Phillip, Andrea, Brenda and Sherri on their side – six players out of twelve. Suddenly, Erik was the swing vote at a crucial stage in the game, and as Andrea said, “He never talks strategy with anyone.”

erik

Erik

I’m unsure about why Erik has returned to Survivor. The money, I suppose. The kid was a huge fan of Survivor, went on the show, got real close, and blew it. He became infamous for a stupid move, it soured the show for him and according to Rob Cesternino’s podcast, he hasn’t watched since. But he once loved this game, so how interested is he in strategy this time around? “I have no idea what’s going on,” Erik told the camera, “But I have a feeling that I’m the swing vote.”

Erik had to choose between voting out Corinne and voting out Sherri, and I think his decision shows that there’s more strategy going on there than meets the eye. I believe the smart choice for Erik was to go with the (physically) weaker alliance. Is he close to Brenda? I’m not sure, but they were sort of on the outs together in the early days of the season. He has no reason to believe that he’s anything more than #6 in an alliance of 6 with Malcolm and co. However, I think he can go further with the other group, whether by bonding with the right people (I mean, he’d at least outlast Phillip) or just winning his way father into the game. He’s great in challenges, but is more likely to win when he’s not competing against Malcolm and Reynold.

So Erik voted for Corinne, and she was blindsided. Remember earlier in the episode when she said “I’ve never been a part of a blindside, I think it’s time”? That was foreshadowing! I’m bummed that she’s gone because a) My mom had her in the office pool and thus, goes yet another year without winning and b) I can’t stand Phillip. But I like Dawn and Cochran, I want to see them go far, and I’m happy to see Dawn really playing the game. Malcolm may think he has some tricks up his sleeves, and Eddie might try and flirt with Andrea, but I still think the Dawn and Cochran power couple can make it far in this thing.

What did you guys think? Did you love the episode as much as I did? Were you hoping Corinne would pull off her plan? Do you think she screwed up?


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Game of Thrones – Is it winter yet?

Well, it’s that time of year again! The ten weeks when I write “What did <insert confusing storyline here> mean?” or “What’s <insert major character name here>’s deal?” and you guys answer. It’s time for Game of Thrones season three! And all I have to say is, thank god for that fifteen minute season two recap show.

We opened with that poor fat kid running in the snow. What’s his name? Is he the one who fell in love with the girl whose father marries his own daughters? (Yes, he is. Rob confirmed this as I typed.) Yikes. I’m already doing GREAT keeping these characters straight. Within minutes, we saw a decapitated head and body. Welcome back, GoT!

King’s Landing

Tyrion doesn’t trust Cersei, because of course. And he had some issues with Tywin, because no one had told him “Hey, thanks for defending King’s Landing and saving the day for our wealthy, awful family!” He wanted Casterly Rock, which the Interwebs tells me is a large fortress (Haarenhal is biggest) on a stone hill.

Littlefinger told Sansa that he might be able to get her home, but he is the least trustworthy person. Even his ladyfriend said so.

Dragonstone

Stannis Baratheon’s right-hand dude, Davos, was found on a rock in the ocean (that’s where he ended up after the big battle), and once he was saved he swore to go stop Melisandre – even if it means his own death. Melisandre blamed Davos for losing the battle, because he’d convinced Stannis to leave her behind, and he was thrown in the dungeon after yelling at her.

Winterfell

Robb Stark put his mother in jail because she freed Jaime Lannister (remember, she thought it was in exchange for her two daughters). That was basically all we saw.

Dragons!

The dragons are big and fly around now! Cool. Very cool. Daenerys and Jorah are on a ship now. She has to put together an army, and met with a guy who looked like Ben Kingsley and his translator. He said rude things, and she responded with appropriate information. So I guess they can’t be trusted either. Then he cut off a soldier’s nipple, which was simply disgusting.

Also gross? That weird, creepy kid with the black lips and the bug. A warlock, apparently. A man in a black cloak saved Daeny, and called her “my queen”. He served Robert Baratheon but had been part of Daeny’s father’s King’s Guard. The episode ended with him offering to serve her and saying that he wouldn’t let her down again.

So that was the episode. I’m bummed we didn’t see Arya, because she’s my favorite, but overall it was OK. GoT always starts incredibly slow, setting up the pieces all season for a great last couple episodes.

As always, this recap is spotty at best, so feel free to fill in the gaps in the comments and tell me what you thought of the show.


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The Amazing Race – Crying Is For Bitches

the-amazing-race-4-4 I love when The Amazing Race is in Africa. This show is 200% better when elephants are sauntering by. The episode kicked off with teams leaving the reserve and heading to a village called Boro.

There was some drama early on when the blondies were pulled over for speeding. What happens when you get a ticket on The Amazing Race? Well, if you can’t sweet talk your way out of it then you have to go to the police station and pay up. Bummer! I guess a team had to get caught for speeding eventually on this show. Kudos to the Botswana po-po for sticking to their guns and being the sterotype police who are sweet-talked by some pretty girls.

The girls ran into more trouble when they discovered that they couldn’t pay the ticket with US Dollars. They relied on the kindness of a stranger to help them out, and it actually worked. Karma!

Max and Katie also got stuck with a speeding ticket, and they had a TAR Speed Bump to contend with as well. Then, leaving the police station, Max backed into a pole. Rough leg for those two. Meanwhile, Team YouTube got so lost that they ended up tied in last place with Max and Katie.

Water Ski

The Amazing Race – Crying Is For Bitches The hockey bros, who were in first place, went for the Fast Forward this week. They had to water ski down a river, and did it successfully despite some concerns. (One bro had tried it before and failed.) They came in first place again. These dudes might win the whole race.

I laughed when Pam and Winnie arrived at the clue box, excitedly gasped “Fast Forward!” and then immediately said “No, we can’t do it”, knowing that whatever team had already arrived would have gone for it. Smart, though excitable, girls. I liked how they really soaked up the pretty scenery and appreciated it – I think Pam and Winnie are my favorite team this season.

Road Block

amazing-race-pam-winnie-boat-455x255 For the Road Block, the teams had to paddle a boat through a sort of swampy river, with two goats on board. They were kind of adorable. I would have tried to get them to sing a Taylor Swift song with me. (If you haven’t seen the goat remix of Taylor Swift’s song “Trouble” before, it’s worth clicking that link.)

Some teams struggled with the paddling, and I was kind of hoping Chuck and Winona would fall in. They’re so negative and snide, I really dislike them. I find them (specifically, Winona) snarky, but never in a funny or clever way. Just in a sour way.

Speed Bump

Once Max and Katie had their traffic violation sorted, they had to do a quick dance as their Speed Bump. It didn’t take very long, but they were in last place.

Detour – Brains vs. Brawn

In Brains, teams had to go on a horseback safari and then correctly choose pictures of animal cutouts they’d seen, In Brawn, teams had to stack firewood on a sleigh and use a carrot on a stick (seriously!) to get the donkey to deliver it. I would have gone Brains, because I think horses are easier to control than donkeys. A lot of the teams chose Brawn, and some had trouble getting the donkeys to move. Pam and Winnie bailed pretty quickly, while the country girls and roller derby moms actually didn’t do too badly. Beth and Mona finished second, and Caroline and Jennifer finished third – pretty surprising considering their dramatic start to the leg.

It was funny that Chuck and Winona, of all people, went for Brains. Chuck identified one of the animals as a kudu, which I’d never heard of but is indeed a type of antelope that lives in Africa. They actually kind of rocked the challenge, but it took longer than the donkey option. They finished fourth. I don’t like them, but they did well this leg.

Pam and Winnie messed up Brains twice, and decided to switch back to Brawn. By the time they made that decision, the two last-place teams had finished up the Detour. They’d been neck-and-neck in the challenge, and it was a close footrace to the mat. Megan and Joey got there a little faster, but because Pam and Winnie had screwed up, both teams were still in the race.

It’s too bad, because I really liked Pam and Winnie. I don’t know who I’ll root for now. The hockey bros? The roller derby moms? We haven’t seen much from them, personality-wise. They were eliminated with happy faces.

I probably liked this episode most of any so far. The location can’t be beat, the challenges were decent, and the results were surprising. Glad that the season finally delivered! What did you guys think?


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American Idol – Hello, Detroit (Performances and Results)

This week on American Idol, the top eight chose songs based on the theme “The Music of Motor City”. So, lots of Motown. The thing is, at this point a lot of these classic songs have been done to death on singing competition shows. What keeps The Voice fresh is how often the singers perform contemporary hits. American Idol feels tired now.

Candice Glover – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”
This was a technically good performance, but kind of epitomized what I said above about the show feeling tired. Sure, it’s a great song. But it tells us nothing about what kind of artist Candice would be in today’s music scene. That said, she’s a vocal dream.

Lazaro Arbos – “For Once In My Life”
Come on guys, it is time to put this kid out of his misery. His performances are lovely for karaoke, but not for a competition of this scale.

Janelle Arthur – “You Keep Me Hanging On”
Janelle was the first to really impress me, because she took a song and “made it her own”, to use the cliche. The slowed down tempo, guitar, and even the lights, it very much suited her. It was emotional and moving – a great performance.

Devin Valez – “The Tracks of My Tears”
Devin is another singer that I’ve never been a big fan of, and this performance felt cheesy the way Lazaro’s did as well. There’s nothing creative or special about Devin – that’s the difference between someone like Janelle and him.

Burnell Taylor – “My Cherie Amour”
This theme is kind of Burnell’s wheelhouse, and I expected his performance to be stronger. I mean, of all the Stevie Wonder songs… this one? Really? It sounded like there were some major pitch issues. And again, it felt so cheesy. Like a cruise ship performance. And for the record, I love music of this era!

Angie Miller – “Shop Around”
The thing is… I now associate this song solely with a local mall commercial. It’s unavoidable. However, I did think Angie’s performance was fun, full of personality, and still showed off her voice. Not my favorite performance, but I thought it was good enough.

Amber Holcomb – “Lately”
This is a very pretty song, and Amber sang beautifully. This was a great example of singing a classic ballad without allowing it to seem cheesy. It was just great, and I think Amber has the potential to go very far this season.

Kree Harrison – “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”
Kree got the pimp spot this week, and for good reason. It was a vocally superb and very charismatic performance, definitely the best of the night.

There were also a few duets and trios this week – personally, I think it’s too early to introduce that into the mix. It forces the show to be two hours long when it could have been 90 minutes. I mean, you guys, there were six hours of music competition reality shows on this week! Thank god for DVR and fast-forwarding. I mean, did we really need to see two country girls do an awkward Madonna duet? The boys’ trio was not great (though Nicki, what the hell?), and the girls’ trio was very good, but unnecessary. Can’t this stuff be saved for the results show?

Rankings

  1. Kree Harrison
  2. Janelle Arthur
  3. Amber Holcomb
  4. Candice Glover
  5. Angie Miller
  6. Burnell Taylor
  7. Devin Valez
  8. Lazaro Arbos

Really, I thought all three guys were pretty bad and I’d be happy losing any of them – particularly Lazaro and Devin. And, funny enough, they ended up in the Bottom Three. I guess America pretty much agreed with me.

Devin Valez was eliminated, which means that we’ll have to endure at least one more performance from poor Lazaro.


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