Friday, April 28, 2006

'Survivor: Panama - Exile Island' - Ep. 11 -or- 'Cirie Stars in Strategical Circles'

6 are left. Who will be voted off tonight?

The show opened on Day 28. We're really moving along with the season. Before you know it, we'll know the Final Four. Will the seemingly unstoppable Terry keep winning Immunity? Will he choose the best time to bring out that found bonus Immunity Idol? Or will the sheer numbers and probability that some ex-Casaya will knock him out come to fruition?

Terry, but of course, is happy that Bruce's medical exit spared him an Immunity Challenge. He's concerned about Bruce, but the fewer challenges he has to face, the better the prospects of making it to the end. Although he seems to be a Superman, each challenge is a risk. He loses just one and he has to play the not-such-a-secret found Idol. Once he's played that, he's out of aces up the sleeve.

This episode's Weird Shane bit had to do with him using a piece of wood he found as a Blackberry device to send and receive messages. I personally think he's trying to emulate Greg Buis (Season 1) and his coconut phone. Sorry, Shane. Greg was a bit off-kilter at times, but at least he was intriguing to watch. You just tend to creep me out in many ways, the Blackberry being the latest. Knock it off and get voted off, please!

The Reward Challenge once again split the tribe into teams. This time it was Terry, Danielle and Courtney against Shane, Aras and Cirie. In an athletic endeavor which included being team members tied to a long rope, an obstacle course above the water, diving to retrieve a bag and so on, the winners were Terry, Danielle and Courtney. I felt so bad that the other team got hopelessly tangled in their rope and had no chance at all to win. Heh. The Reward itself was a trip to a private island where they'd chow down on a barbeque, something these castaways always crave. They chose to send the biggest threat and strongest player, Aras, to Exile Island.

This challenge had more to it, too. The 3 winners competed in a secondary rather done-before bow shooting at tiles challenge where Terry won a spanking new spiffy 2007 GMC Yukon. Uh-oh. Will the curse of the Survivor Car Winner haunt him? Not once in the history of the show has anyone who won a vehicle ended up winning the show. Eep!

The next day, Aras was hanging around being bored on Exile Island -- he knows Terry has the hidden Idol -- and the winners were eating barbeque foods while quaffing flavored sodas. (What? No product placement? I didn't recognize the brand of the bottles they had.) Terry, once again, was trying to work his mojo to have Danielle and Courtney flip. It seemed to be working better than his last efforts. They finally decided that the Final Two should be the top two competitors in the game, not someone carried in because the jury wouldn't think worthy of the win. Can we say Courtney? I knew you could! She realized it, too. She's miffed, to say the least.

Back at the Gitanos campsite, Cirie caught a fish. Now, I'm really enjoying watching her on the show. She's so not outdoorsy that it's hilarious to watch her reaction to things like the fish. She's excited, scared of it and thrilled that she did it all at the same time. That makes her voice go higher and higher until she sounds like Minnie Mouse on speed. I love it! She scored more brownie points with Shane by declaring the fish a birthday gift to him. This woman is good, very good. We know from confessionals that she thinks Shane's a nutcase, yet she's not showing it at all to anybody but us. Shrewd, indeed.

Cirie knows that everyone wants Courtney against them in the Final Two as she won't get the jury vote. She knows Shane wants her, so lets him think she'll go along with his plan to off Danielle (off the show, not literally "off her"). Of course, a lot will hinge on who wins Immunity.

And, guess who? For the fourth straight time, Terry won individual immunity in a physical challenge which had the castaways holding up increasing weight amounts with ropes held in their hands. Shane was the first out; it didn't look like he started with a decent grip on the ropes. At the end, it was Courtney against Terry. She made a tremendous effort, almost going into a trancelike state, but he held out longer. Terry's third win was unprecedented, so now he's unprecedented his own record or something to that effect.

So the scheming starts. Shane thinks he has a deal with others while Terry thinks he may have finally broken the numbers game. But neither had anything on Cirie. She convinced Danielle and Courtney that Terry brainwashed them, while not giving a clue to Shane that her own personal target was Courtney. Not only that, but she convinced Danielle and Aras to vote Courtney and not mention it, too. She's really emerging as a top schemer in the many seasons of the show, I think. She's more likeable than past schemers. She may just make it.

The final vote at Tribal Council was scattered -- Terry and Aras voted for each other (naturally); Courtney voted for Aras as per the agreement with Terry; Shane voted for Danielle as he thought the ex-Casaya plan (sans Danielle) was to do so and Danielle, Cirie and Aras voted to off Courtney. Bruce, sent off to the hospital on last week's show, was in the jury and looking a lot healthier.

"Courtney, your torch has been extinguished. You must leave the Tribal Council area immediately."

All she could say was, "That's a shocker!" She never saw it coming. Although she balked at the thought that people might take her to the Final Two for the obvious win, I think she might have depending on just that sort of thinking to get her to that point. I'm finding this season more entertaining to watch than the past few. Although Terry's basically against so many such as Stephenie was, he's a stronger and smarter player than she was -- plus, he has the hidden Immunity Idol yet to play. Aras is Casaya's strongest physical player, but doesn't have great scheming abilities. Cirie schemes so well, but hasn't the athletic edge at all. Danielle is an okay player, but she's faltering against all the stronger ones. And, Shane's just weird.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

'Survivor: Exile Island' - East Coast Update - Voted Out

One vote for Danielle (Shane), two votes for Aras (Terry, Courtney), three votes for Courtney (Cirie, Aras, Danielle)

Buh-bye, Courtney

A full recap/review will be posted in the morning - check back!

'Survivor: Exile Island' - East Coast Update 4/27 - Immunity

Terry has won his fourth straight individual Immunity Challenge.

'Survivor: Exile Island' - East Coast Update 4/27 - Rewards, Exile

The tribe split into two teams of three. The team of Terry, Danielle and Courtney won Reward - a barbeque feast on a private island. They sent Aras to Exile Island. In an individual Reward Challenge between the three winners, Terry won a 2007 GMC Yukon.

Updates on Immunity and the boot will be posted as they air here on the East Coast. A full recap/review will be posted tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

'The Amazing Race 9' - Ep. 9 -or- "BJ and Tyler Rise Up Down Under"

We last left the teams in Oman where my personal favorites Tyler and BJ managed to squeak through to the next leg only because it was a non-elimination. They lost their money and all of their possessions except for the clothes they were wearing at the arrival (TTOW shirts!) and their passports. Will they recover? Can they get back in the running? Tonight would make or break them. And, if it doesn't break them, it will be the end of another team.

Five teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?

Fran and Barry, the team who arrived first at the Pit Stop, were the first to leave at 5:35 pm. The clue directed them to fly to Perth, Australia. Before getting on their way, they stopped at BJ and Tyler's car to drop off $20. What sweeties! Not as sweet at all, actually rather evil, were Monica and Joe. They pretended to leave money in the car, said that BJ/Tyler shouldn't have asked and shouldn't have threatened to yield them. Huh? Something happened betwixt those teams which wasn't shown. There was one Yield so far in the race - BJ and Tyler didn't use it. That one was Lake/Michelle yielding Danielle/Dani. Some kind of bad blood is going on, though. And I'm not quite sure why. Oh, gives me yet another reason not to like MoJo. They're my least favorite team since Lake and Michelle were eliminated. The Frat Junior Boys (Jeremy and Eric) left an I.O.U. for $100 to be paid after the race. A big help they are, huh? BJ and Tyler, the last team to leave, left for the airport at 8:21 pm.

All of the leading teams before BJ/Tyler ended up stuck in traffic because the King was in town. I know what that's like. Have you ever tried to get across Manhattan when the President is in town? About the only cool thing about the delay is that the teams got to see fireworks and it gave my boys a chance to try to catch up a bit. Would they?

BJ and Tyler even had an adventure on the way to the airport as they decided they'd pick up a hitchhiker. They picked up a man who said he was from the desert and he was fantastic! They told him about the race and their plight (no money) and he bought them gas when they were on empty, candy bars and snacks, too! I think this sort of thing is why I'm enjoying the team so much - their spirit of adventure and they way they embrace life in general is contagious. Even strangers are picking up on it!

Much to the dismay of MoJo, in particular, BJ and Tyler just made it boarding the plane by the hair on their chinny-chin-chins. Take that, you evil MoJo team! The Frats weren't too thrilled about their arrival either, but at least they didn't have hate in their eyes. I swear Joe was trying to send death rays at them. Fran/Barry and Ray/Yolanda seemed happy to see them. To make MoJo even more upset, BJ/Tyler collected $300 from passengers on the plane and, with the exception of wardrobe issues, they're in the money once again.

The teams all started out on even footing once they landed in Perth to head to the next clue. They had to take taxis to the State War Memorial in King's Park. The race was on! And we have...a bunching point. The first ferry wouldn't leave until 7:30 am. The teams headed to hostels and hotels for the night. Fran and Barry's room at the hostel was named the Pleasure Dome, but the pleasure is only there if you like onlookers. It was a shared hostel room, not very romantic at all.

After their ferry ride to Rottnest Island, the teams had to ride tandem bikes 3 miles to a lighthouse where they'd find their next clue. MoJo had trouble with the bike, so did Ray and Yolanda. Meanwhile, the Oldsters (Fran and Barry) are avid bicyclists. They passed both teams with ease.

The clue in the lighthouse was a Detour - a task to be performed by both members of the team. They had a choice of Sea or Sand. In Sea, teams had to don Speedos (yes, the Frat Juniors looked good) and snorkel gear, then dive to find two crayfish (one each) in a lot of 50 mostly empty traps, then swim to shore and hike to turn them in for the next clue. In Sand, teams had to drag forty branches across the beach to a sand dune, something that's called "brushing the beach." Monica and Joe really messed up the task as only Joe brought back a crayfish. They had to go all the way back, then Monica was scared and had a hissy fit screaming, "I can't do this! It's the worst thing I've ever done!" I thought carrying the swordfish was the worst thing she had ever done. I believe she should live inland. She seems to have issues with the sea and its creatures.

Argh! No! No! Jeremy/Eric were the only team catching the first ferry back to Freemantle to head for the next clue! Another big lead for them! Grr. BJ and Tyler decided to take a ferry elsewhere and then catch a cab while the other teams gathered on the next Freemantle ferry and made arrangements from the ferry for cabs. The increasingly annoying Monica and Joe stole the cab reserved for Fran and Barry.

Where were they headed? Straight to prison! Okay, it was the Freemantle Prison, built by prisoners and shut down in 1991. And, it was a Roadblock - a task only one member of the team can complete. In a blatant product placement, the team member had to find a flashlight and Duracell batteries in a certain block of the prison, then go down through the tunnels beneath the prison in a canoe searching for the clue which would lead them to the Pit Stop. Jeremy and Eric blew their huge lead when Jeremy took forever on the task, but the other teams never were able to catch up.

The Pit Stop was at the Freemantle Sailing Club and the teams arrived in this order:

1. Jeremy/Eric - won a trip to Hong Kong
2. Monica and Joe (Grr.)
3. BJ and Tyler (Yay!)
4. Ray and Yolanda
5. Eliminated -- Fran and Barry

I'd rather Fran/Barry stay in and Monica/Joe go! Although I was tired of Fran saying she couldn't do this or couldn't do that, Monica is much worse. And I think Jeremy and Eric are getting way too smug about themselves. I'd love to see them barely make it to the mat for the next Pit Stop. Out of the teams left I would like to see Ray/Yolanda (despite their bickering with each other - they're nice to others) and BJ/Tyler as the final two teams. With a BJ/Tyler win, of course!

'American Idol' East Coast Update - 4/26

Chris and Katharine got the highest number of votes.

Bottom two are Paris and Kellie.


'The Amazing Race 9' - 4/26 East Coast Update - Order and Elimination

A full recap/review will be posted late this evening and, if you're a West Coast American Idol fan - an AI boot update will be posted here as it happens on the East Coast.

Here's the arrival order at the Pit Stop:
1. Eric and Jeremy - won a trip to Hong Kong
2. Monica and Joe
3. BJ and Tyler
4. Ray and Yolanda
5. Fran and Barry - Philiminated

Monday, April 24, 2006

'The Apprentice 5' - Episode 9 -or- "Ding Dong, Give a Deep Sigh, She's Gone!"

All right, after a week with no show, it's now the 9th week of the most famous (and most likely only) 15 week long interview! Even though two episodes aired in one night two weeks ago, I felt a bit bereft last week with no Apprentice.

After the recap of the last episode's firing (Leslie), Lee made a huge faux pas upon his return to the candidates' suite. Instead of saying that Leslie fought the hardest of any of the folks with whom he's been in the Boardroom, he said: "She fought the hardest of any of those I've fired." Delusions of grandeur there, Lee? While I think he has lots of great ideas, especially when it comes to marketing and focus, he's the youngest candidate there and has been brought into the Boardroom more than any of those remaining on the show. Methinks he's gotten a bit cocky.

The candidates met up with Donald Trump, his son (Donald, Jr.) and daughter Ivanka in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Representatives from Ameriquest, the sponsor of the task ahead, were also there. This week's task had the candidates designing a souvenir tourist program for Ellis Island which would include historical bits, photos and such. Ellis Island, of course, is where 12 million immigrants arriving in the United States would enter the country from 1892 through until 1954. The main building was reopened as a museum in 1990 and is a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Proceeds from the sales of the brochures made by the teams will go to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

Teams had to take a Circle Line boat to the island. Those run on a fairly regular schedule around Manhattan daily. Lee decided he had to be the Project Manager for Gold Rush and, if they lose, he knows he's history. Allie stepped up to the plate as the Project Manager for Synergy. Again, Lee's ability isn't necessarily that of a true leader. He delegated Tarek and Michael to go to the island and take the photos needed for the task while he and Charmaine stayed in Manhattan trying to cold call hotels in attempt to sell bulk copies. That wasn't all that fruitful and I personally think he left Tarek too much in charge. Perhaps it was the right path with the final outcome, but if they lost would he blame Tarek? He made a few excellent decisions otherwise, though.

The whole Synergy team went to Ellis Island and, not surprisingly, Andrea balked at Allie's leadership. Allie wanted them to explore around and take notes. Andrea thought they should just get the pictures and snag all the brochures already offered to use for content ideas. Uh-oh! Tammy was the note-taker and left her notes behind as they were leaving the island. So, half the team took off, the rest remained until they could catch the next boat. Andrea decided, since she's a graphics expert, she'd create the brochure cover layout. (May I roll my eyes here, please?) It was bad. It was so bad. Thankfully, Allie stuck to her guns about how bad it was despite Andrea's nastiness about things. "I heard you deep sigh me! Don't deep sigh me," ranted Andrea. Heehee!

The weekly after commercial break quote and lecture didn't seem to have much to do with the candidates at all this week/ Trump lectured about priorities and balancing family and business. The only connection I could see with this one was the fact that Donald, Jr. and Ivanka were there instead of George and Carolyn.

Okay, here's where Lee stepped up to play with the big boys. While he once again delegated a bit too much to Tarek by letting him create the brochure (he's a graphic expert just like Andrea!), he did some things very right. First, he got the team up before dawn to head out to sell the brochures. Second, he snagged the best location for selling them -- Battery Park where the tourists often wait in line for at least and hour or two to take the ferry to Ellis Island. It wasn't only a captive audience; it was a captive audience with an interest in Ellis Island. It was win-win. Plus, Tarek actually seemed to create an attractive cover shot for the brochure. In addition to getting up early and snagging the best location for selling, a $100 bulk sale came through from one of the calls made by Charmaine.

By the time Synergy arrived at the same location, Gold Rush already had the crowd of tourists in their hands. Foolishly, Synergy decided to go to the museum itself to sell their brochures. Now, that just doesn't make sense to me. If you can't sell to the folks waiting on line to go to the island, what would make you think you can sell them the brochures once they get to the island? Huh? I think, if I were leading the team, I might split them up and send each one to various tourist hot spots in town rather than try to sell to a crowd which already has bought a more attractive brochure. Folks visiting the Tenement Museum may also be interested in Ellis Island ... places like that. The Empire State Building crowd. Anywhere but trying to sell to people who already bought Gold Rush's brochure!

The initial Boardroom with both teams didn't really hold any surprises for me. Gold Rush sold $1548 in brochures while Synergy sold only $843. Ameriquest donated an additional $10,000 to the foundation. Allie wasn't confident even before the results were announced. When Trump asked her, she was already blaming Andrea. It turns out that Andrea also claimed to be a bulk sales expert, but didn't use her expertise to help the team. I couldn't believe that Trump actually acted like it's the first time he's heard of any problems with Andrea. How could he miss her attitude, the problems she has with others, her lack of ability to lead or follow? Maybe his hair has affected his mind or something. I say, as far as Andrea goes - lead, follow or get out of the way, preferably the last. I couldn't work with or for her.

Trump accompanied the winning team on the prize, a golfing trip to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Giving pointers was pro VJ Singh. I couldn't get excited about that. I think I'd rather swim with sharks.

While Gold Rush was out there on the green swinging and putting, Synergy was at the suite conspiring against Andrea. "I will go after her!," vows Andrea. "This will be the worst boardroom ever. There will be blood on the walls," claims Allie. Tammy, Allie and Roxanne try to convince Sean that Andrea's brainwashed him. Although he's not convinced, it puts him in some sort of stupor where pretty much all he can say is "I'm in an awkward position" over and over again. Andrea eavesdropped on the others, got caught and the circus went on.

Back in the Boardroom with Trump, he once again played his "I'm so surprised that Andrea isn't a star" act, praised Roxanne a lot for how well she puts forth her thoughts in a rational manner and didn't even ask Allie to select anyone to go into the firing Boardroom segment. In her defense, Andrea claimed to be an expert at hiring experts. I thought Ivanka actually seemed a bit on Andrea's side. What was up with that?

"Andrea, you're fired."

In the cab heading home, Andrea told the truth. "There's a reason I work for myself." There sure is!

Dollar bills, y'all...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

'Survivor: Exile Island' - Ep. 10 -or- "Survivor Down!'

Argh, my apologies ... I know this isn't Friday evening. I've had mouse issues. Computer mouse, not furry living mice issues. Enough of that.

Onto the really, really late review/recap of the show which aired on April 20:

Seven are left. Who will be voted off tonight?

Of course, after the time-consuming recap of last week, we see Terry is all alone although he's supposedly a part of the tribe. The ex-Casaya tribe members alliance is still solid even though soon they'll have to turn on one another. If Terry wins Immunity again, it'll force their hand. Bruce is clutching his stomach and complaining of severe pain. He's constipated, perhaps a bit too much information, but very necessary in the light of this episode.

I always enjoy the challenges which have the castaways attempt to be creative. So, I was pleased to see that the tree mail told them to decorate huge straw voodoo dolls in their own likeness, then head off to the Rewards Challenge with them. Cirie was a hoot building up the chest on her doll, but Shane should have made the pants on his doll droop more and somehow reflect that odd little malnourished boy figure of his.

The Rewards Challenge itself was one of those which reveal the pecking order of the tribe. Jeff posed questions about the tribe members; the tribe members then had to answer what tribe member was the most popular answer. Folks who got the answer right got to chop a rope leading to the voodoo doll of their choice. Three chops would set fire to the doll and knock that player out of the running.

This challenge was a bit of a two-fold whammy for some -- it showed the order the majority wanted out of the game by whose ropes were chopped the quickest, plus the questions themselves revealed rather controversial impressions for some. For example, Courtney was the one most chose as Most Annoying. You would think she freaked right then and there, but Shane wins the Freaking Award. He took every cut of his rope as a personal affront, was upset that folks thought he thought he was in charge of the game and went down-out whacko when Cirie (the winner) didn't choose him to accompany her on the reward. Heck, Terry knew he'd be first out and just accepted it. He also figured that Cirie would send him to Exile Island, which she did.

The reward was a helicopter trip to a spa, feast and overnight rest. Cirie chose Aras and Danielle to go with her. I'd imagine to this day Shane is still resenting her choice. Oh, the Drama Mama Shane! I think if I had been there, I would have chopped his voodoo doll rope just to watch him go crazy!

While the three were off to the spa, it left only Shane, Courtney and Bruce back at the camp. Bruce crawled off to writhe in pain while Courtney and Shane fussed at each other. Sheesh, just call it a tie -- they're both the Most Annoying! And, another thing that I find annoying about Shane is that his front is usually blurred because he wears his pants too low under that little boy belly physique of his! I don't think I've ever seen any of the men on the show constantly blurred there. Eww.

Bruce's pain eventually necessitated calling in the medics. (Good-looking male medics with cool British accents, I might add.) He was hauled on out of there as the medic couldn't rule out appendix issues. Oh. And Shane was naked through all of that. Poor Courtney.

So, like when Mike Skupin was removed from a show for severe burns, Bruce is gone and there was no Tribal Council. After the reward winners and Terry returned, Jeff informed them that Bruce had a severe intestinal blockage. If the doctors permit, he might be able to be on the jury. But, he's out of the running for the million. The spoiler sites pre-season had this one right. They knew Bruce was carted off, but I don't recall any claiming illness. I had the impression it would be an injury.

Out of the castaways left, I have a few I'd like to see make it to the Final Four. I'd like to see Terry there because he's really kicking butt on the show despite the Casaya-LaMina numbers game. I'd like to see Cirie make it just because she seemed like the least likely person to make it anywhere near the end, but she's a smart player. She's very observant of others and stronger in the natural setting than I thought she ever would be. Although he's not my favorite player, I have a pre-season online cyber-bet that Aras will be there. Hmmm ... now I have to pick a fourth, eh? Let me think about it!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

'Survivor' Recap/Review Will Be Posted Tomorrow Evening

My apologies to those who may be looking for it. Due to odd circumstance, I'll get the review up tomorrow night.

'Survivor: Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/20 - Gone

Bruce's entire digestive system was blocked up. He will not be returning to the game although if cleared, he might be a jury member. No Immunity Challenge and no vote tonight as Bruce is out of the running for the million.

'Aurvivor: Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/20 - Medical Emergency

Bruce has been removed by medics for severe stomach pain. Medics say they can't rule out appendix problems and must take him for treatment.

The other emergency was that Shane was naked through this.
Ewww. Poor Courtney.

'Survivor: Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/20 - Reward

Cirie won the Reward Challenge - a helicopter ride, spa, feast overnight. She could choose two to go with her - Aras and Danielle. She chose Terry for Exile Island.

Immunity and boot updates will be posted as they happen. A full recap/review will be posted late this evening.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

'The Amazing Race 9' - Ep. 8 -or- "TTOW! Dig It, Hippies, Dig!"

Perhaps the desert sun was beating down, but I was shivering; shivering in fear that my favorite team would hear the words, "I'm sorry to tell you, but you've been eliminated." Yes, we're due for a non-Philimination leg, maybe even overdue for one. Usually the non-elims save teams I want to go away. So, what happens on this week's The Amazing Race?

Five teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?

The show opened on the southern tip of Greece where the teams spent 12 hours in a mandatory rest period at the last Pit Stop. The "Frat Boys" Eric and Jeremy (also known as HornDogz and Surfer Jerks) were the first to depart as they had arrived first in the last leg of the race. The clue directed them to take one of two charter buses to the airport where they would head to Muskat, Oman. That's near Saudi Arabia. The hitch was that there were two buses, one leaving an hour after the other. All the teams except one got aboard the first bus, set to go at 9 AM. Oh, no! The team running an hour behind? Fan favorites and my personal favorite team of BJ and Tyler! Waaaah!

They took it in stride, though. They pretended the empty bus carried not only them, but the teams eliminated thus far during the race. BJ did a spot on impersonation of Lake and I smiled despite the fact that my team was already starting behind all the others.

Once the teams arrived at the airport, it happened all over again. All the teams except for BJ/Tyler ended up on one flight. BJ and Tyler took a flight which landed in Oman an hour later as the first one was full. Life just ain't fair, I tell ya! Oh, wait. Maybe it is fair. Maybe it's a bunching point which will even up all leads once again. They were supposed to find this huge incense burner building and sure enough, its opening time allowed all the teams to run for the clue at approximately the same time. Phew!

The Incense Clue directed the teams to the town of Sur, about 135 miles away. They had to find the ferry crossing which held their next clue. All of the teams were impressed by the country, as was I. Stunning architecture, interesting people. But we didn't have time to dawdle - there's a race to be run! In a bit of Revenge of the Nerds, Fran and Barry passed Jeremy and Eric. I loved it! Monica/Joe and Ray/Yolanda both got quite lost. Ray and Yolanda fought from the start of the leg, too. Too bad, so sad. The teams had to drive their 4-wheel drive vehicles through sands and floods. In the latter, a native of the area on foot led them through the water. BJ/Tyler knew how to say "thank you" in Arabic. Cool. The phonetic pronunciation is SUE-cah-ron. I learned something new.

The clue received at the ferry was for a Detour - a choice of two tasks, each usually having a cultural glimpse into the area. The choice this time was Camel or Watchtower. After I stopped humming "All Along the Watchtower," I noted that most of the teams chose Watchtower where teams had to find a cluebox located in one of three watchtowers. Not all the watchtowers held clues, some held multiple clues and it was first find, first get clue. Once the clue was found, they had to deliver it. It was a very ornate silver doohickey containing the clue. I want one! BJ/Tyler and Fran/Barry teamed up and got the first clues! Woohoo for the Hippies and the Oldsters!

The Frat Juniors chose Camel as their task. They had to use a block and tackle to raise a camel into the back of a pickup truck, then deliver the camel to receive their clue. They had been first, but got incredibly lost driving what should have been a few minutes to deliver the camel. Joe and Monica, who changed tasks, beat them. Ray and Yolanda, running last, took only a few minutes for the delivery if you can believe the editing.

The clue after the Detour led to a village 80 miles away towards sand dunes and desert territory. (Not to be confused with dessert territory, in which I have a personal expertise!) Uh-oh, it's a Roadblock - a task only one member of a team can complete. This one looked miserable. There were 117 sand mounds. The chosen team member had to dig for what was actually food cooking in a sand oven ... in the heat. BJ and Tyler got there first, but it was the second arrivals Fran and Barry who actually found the food first.

Here's where my boys ran into trouble. All of the teams arrived after them and BJ was still digging long after all the other teams left. And, they knew the clue they'd receive directed teams to the next Pit Stop (Jabreen Castle) where one team may be eliminated. Oh, no! Horrors! BJ looked like he was going to pass out! The bickering Ray and Yolanda beat them! Jeremy and Eric got hopelessly lost once again and beat them! Everyone beat them! I was about to have a panic attack for my favorite team, yes I was! I knew deep down that a non-elimination leg was overdue. Please, please, Phil! As the boys said, "The Eliminator will not eliminate us!" They never lost their spirit even though BJ was visibly exhausted. I was on the edge of my seat.

The arrival order at the Pit Stop was:

1. Fran/Barry. Oh, my. Who woulda thunk it? They also won a Rome vacations. Good for them.

2. Monica/Joe

3. Ray/Yolanda

4. Eric/Jeremy

5. SNIFFLE - BJ/Tyler arrived clicking their heels and happy even though they knew they were last.

But ... yay! It is indeed a non-Philimination leg. They're still in the race! TTOW!

I'm so happy that for once a non-elimination leg saved a team I wanted to remain in the race. These two guys are upbeat, intelligent and just plain fun. I love how they've known at least some of each language in each country though which they've traveled. I love how they root on Fran and Barry. I love that, while they're definitely competitive, they're not mean to anyone. I want them to win.

What team's your favorite? Did you think Fran and Barry would ever make a first place finish?

'American Idol' East Coast Update 4/19 Boot

Bottom Three -

Paris, Ace and Chris.

Ace going home.

'Amazing Race 9' 4/19 East Coast Update Arrival Order and ...

The teams arrived to the Pit Stop in this order:

1. Fran and Barry. Yes, I said Fran and Barry. They won a trip for two to Rome.
2. Monica and Joe
3. Ray and Yolanda
4. Eric and Jeremy
5. Last ... BJ and Tyler... BUT, it's a non-Philimination leg! They're still in it! Phew! We were due for a non-elim. I'm glad it's now.

A full review/recap will be posted later tonight. An East Coast Update for the American Idol boot will be posted when it's announced here.

WCBS-TV (NYC), Darn You!

My early mornings just aren't the same. Y'see, I'm usually up by 5:30 AM to get ready for my workday. I'm out the door before 6:30. And, more importantly, I'm not really a morning person. Oh, yeah ... I like to see the sunrise at times. But, more often than not, I like to see my bed.

The past three years or so, I've been an addict of the local CBS affiliate's early early morning news show. I've mentioned it before on the blog. The CBS 2 News Crew in its prime featured Dave Price (weather and craziness), Shon Gables, Mario Bosquez, Vanessa Alfano (traffic reports) and Duke Castiglione (sports and the infamous Stump Duke t-shirt giveaways). They made me smile; sometimes I even guffawed early in the morning. Yes, they delivered the news, but it was more than that. The chemistry between the folks on the show, the zaniness of Price Gone Amok, the music choices from Scooter and Dave, the Dance Fridays ... all gone. One by one, the cast has been vanishing.

First I noticed Duke was mysteriously gone. Of course, I miss a bit of the show. Perhaps there was an announcement, but I didn't hear one. Duke, the NYC transplant, whose father was the voice of the Red Sox radio reporting, was always fun to watch in the "Stump Duke" segments where folks would e-mail or call in sports questions. Quite often, he got stumped and the caller would receive a t-shirt. Sometimes celebrities called in. I never did. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy watching the segment, though.

Then, one day, I heard Vanessa Alfano say something about not being there next week in regard to something going on with Dave Price. I assumed she would be on vacation. She and Dave had a flirting fun thing going on -- Dave acted like it was a case of unrequited love, while in reality it looked like just a good friendship hammed up for the cameras. Alas, she never got her Muppet and poof ... gone. I know anyone can do traffic; it doesn't require a lot of personality or anything. But I enjoyed her.

I've had my secret crush (okay, not so secret I guess) on Mario Bosquez for a while. He just seems like such a nice guy. He has a pleasant announcer's voice and comes across as an intriguing intelligent man. Although he's off the early morning show, he's apparently staying in some capacity at the station. In the past, he's often filled in on anchor slots when folks are away. I'll be looking for him! Well, not literally stalking or anything. I'll be looking for his appearances on newscasts.

Then there's Shon Gables. I like her. She's quick-witted, personable, attractive and intelligent. She's involved with so many community things as a representative of the station that I hope she'll be around in some capacity somehow. I'd rather see her than Roz Abrams who seems to be intent on posing cute or something to that effect. She, Mario and Dave all had their 2 Crew Muppets. Sigh.

Of course, I feel the heart of the show was Dave Price. He was the magic which inspired the rest. Recently, his mentor in the business, the retired Jim Ryan joined the Crew. I saw his announcement last week that it would be his last day as a regular anchor but that he would be a contributing reporter or such. But, when Price went, I figured Jim would go. I think he came aboard due to Price. And, Dave Price ... the last year or so I was wondering how he could keep up such a hectic pace traveling here and there for The Early Show, yet always getting up even earlier on location to transmit the local NYC stuff via satellite. He's cut back his duties to just the national show. While I understand on a human exhausting point of view kind of way, his departure made my early morning routine less happy and more ... well, routine.

Oh, why couldn't they have at least kept Mario and Shon in the early morning slot? Instead, WCBS 2 changed absolutely every little thing about the show so many of us dedicated viewers loved. Nothing against Maurice DuBois - he's professional, attractive, well-spoken and all. But his strictly news, no fun, no bits of personality shining through just doesn't cut it in the morning. I'm still not sure of the imported from the Midwest co-anchor's name. I just know it isn't Shon. Of course, I wish her luck in her new endeavor. I know that getting aboard the NYC viewing market is a big thing for a TV news person. The set has changed; the attitude and fun is gone out of the show. What the heck is WCBS doing? Trying to culture shock us by going from one extreme to the other? Heck, if I want just straightlaced news in the morning, I can turn to any station.

Maybe I'll just go back to listening to New Jersey 101.5 in the mornings as I did before discovering the the ultimate morning news show which is now history. Sigh...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

'Survivor: Exile Island' - Ep. 9 -or- "Chafing Shane, Insane in the Brain and Not So Privates Pain"

Something has to change on the show or Terry will have to be Superman. Although he's such a strong player, I get irked when one tribe is picked off one by one in a numbers game after the merge. Yes, he has the hidden Immunity Idol from Exile Island, but is he going to conquer the odds against him? I guess we'll just have to keep watching, right?

Eight are left. Who will be voted out tonight?

After the predictable and inevitable recap of last week's show, we opened on Day 22 at the Gitanos campsite. Super Terry was going on about his jet fighter pilot career, something which may not endear him to others who already are worried because he keeps winning immunity. Courtney, Cirie and Danielle were giggling as he talked to Shane and Aras about his past. We got a hint of what Danielle wants for the ousted order when she said in a confessional Terry, then Sally, then Aras. That really didn't surprise me much - go after the remaining LaMina folks, then hit the strongest Casaya one. She searched through Terry's stuff a bit looking for the hidden Immunity Idol to no avail while telling the girls it was a "furry thing." Many are doubtful Terry has the Idol. Aras actually wants to be sent to Exile Island so he can look for it or traces that it's gone.

In the Rewards Challenge, they all got to see a tidbit of videos from loved ones. Shane went hysterical while watching his son and, again not a surprise, was the most emotional. His child looks like a normal little boy. That was the surprise! The tribe was randomly split into two teams. The winning team would see their videos in their entirety while chowing down on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and guzzling cold milk. The challenge itself was a new one for the show. One team member was harnessed in a cradle suspended by bungee cords and the other three had to steer her (both teams went for women) with ropes to collect 15 numbered flags in order. Once the last flag was placed in its holder, the team would win. Along with the videos and treat, the winning team would choose someone to send to Exile Island. The team of Terry, Courtney, Bruce and Sally won. Aras got his wish; he was sent to Exile Island.

We didn't see the videos as the show focused on those folks who headed back to camp. Shane was fussing and fretting. What now? He called Cirie over to him and told her, "I have an issue with my penis." Of course, she cracked up. He insisted she look at it (poor woman) as she's a nurse. She explained to him that he's been wearing wet underwear for more than 20 days and he's chafing. He didn't understand. "But it's all red! LOOK!" Finally she told him it's like diaper rash and he understood that. He made his shirt into a skirt. What an odd, odd little man.

Aras had troubles with the clues over on Exile Island. He spent some time digging and finally gave up to relax. He couldn't determine whether someone has the Idol or not, but he thinks it's probably been found. He's probably right, I'd say. Heh.

Shane, Cirie and Danielle were already not too thrilled that Bruce, Terry, Courtney and Sally saw their videos and ate. They were outright disgusted that the four returned with their luxury items, too. Now, this is weird. We haven't seen the luxury items for the last few seasons. Apparently, although they haven't had them on the show, contestants are still selecting them. Bruce had a sketchbook, Terry had the flag from his father-in-law's funeral, Sally had her journal and Courtney had fire toys - basically two ropes, each with an attached ball. Remember, she has an act she does with fire. She's a performance artist, oh-la-la-la.

The Immunity Challenge wasn't in itself all that thrilling. Castaways had to swim out and dive down to a huge bar with 7 symbols, memorize the order, swim to shore and recreate the bar in the proper order in a puzzle box. The twist was that each person was handed a nut and a shell. (I don't know why that had to be done, all Jeff would have to do is ask...!) One meant they wanted to go for Immunity, the other meant they felt secure and would gorge themselves on hamburgers, fries and sodas rather than compete. As I said, the shell/nut bit wasn't necessary at all. Just ask! It ended up that the only three competing in the challenge were Aras, Sally and Terry. Terry won. He's immune once again, plus has the Exile Island Hidden Idol. You go, Terry!

So, back at camp, the campaigning and trying to flip some Casaya members over started anew. The results were the same as last week, not a flip in the bunch. At Tribal Council, the vote went right by LaMina and Casaya lines -- six votes for Sally and two for Aras. Terry wisely, for his own game, didn't use the hidden idol to save Sally. After all, once that hand is played, it's over. Right now, although outnumbered, his only chance is to keep winning immunity until at least the Final Four and keep the find a secret. In Sally's good-bye confessional, she said she totally understands why he didn't use it to save her and hopes he wins it all.

My opinion? I'm getting a bit perplexed with this season. Yes, I understand why Casaya members aren't flipping. I don't think I would, either. I like Terry. I think he's pretty ethical in how he's playing the game. He seems like a good guy and he's definitely one of the strongest competitors ever on the show. While he has the figurative ace up his sleeve, is that going to be enough to go against the Sinister Six?

What do you think?

'Survivor: Panama - Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/13 - Voted Off

Sally was voted off. Voting went along Casaya/La Mina lines - 2 votes for Aras, 6 for Sally.

A full review/recap will be posted late this evening.

'Survivpr: Panama - Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/13 - Immunity

Terry won Immunity once again!

'Survivor: Panama - Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/13 - Reward and Exile

The tribe was split into two random teams for the Rewards Challenge. The team of Terry, Bruce, Courtney and Sally won. Reward was watching videos from home while eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with cold milk. They chose to send Aras to Exile Island.

I will enter East Coast Updates for Immunity and Tribal Council as they happen here in the East. A full recap/review will be posted late tonight.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

'The Amazing Race 9' - Ep. 7 -or- "Fast Forwards, Penalties and a Hippie Scare, Oh My!"

I still have to get used to this new day and time. The 8 PM hour is better than 9 PM as it would then be against Lost. I don't want that to happen! Yipes! But, remember folks ... it's now on at 8 PM ET/PT on Wednesdays in most viewing areas. I know a few folks got caught off guard with the change last week and this season's too good to miss!

Six teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?

We picked up with the teams at their Sicily Pit Stop from last week. Here's one of the things I love about the show -- the history of some of the places where they travel. Their location is Sicily was founded in 734 B.C. Wow! That right there is amazing, isn't it? Jeremy/Eric were the first team to leave at 10:33 PM while the last team to depart was Ray/Yolanda at 1:02 AM. That's not an incredibly huge time difference. Well, if I were racing for a million dollars, I may think otherwise. But, in the end, it didn't matter. The clue received directed the teams to travel by train to Rome where they then must find the Trevi Fountain, locate a man on a red and yellow scooter and get the next clue from him. It turns out that the train station didn't open until 4 AM and the first train to Rome would be at 8 AM. So, two and a half hours between first and last meant nothing -- we hit another infamous TAR bunching point.

However, it was at the train station that either Jeremy or Eric said of Lake: "I think he's bipolar." They could be right!

I noticed a few teams taking a taxi. Ray/Yolanda and BJ/Tyler. Uh-oh! Didn't the clue specify train? All the other teams took the train. Hmm...

Continuing to set the pace, Jeremy/Eric got to the clue first. That clue directed them a mile away, but more importantly it gave them the first piece of a DaVinci Code graphic. The instructions told them to put the pieces together and crack the code. The first team to bring the correct solution to the Pit Stop would win ... something. Okay. When BJ/Tyler found their piece, the conversation went like this -
"What's that?"
"It's a naked man, that's what it is!"

That clue led them to the airport where there was yet another bunching point. All the teams ended up on the same flight to Athens, Greece. They're bunching teams a lot this season. While I understand that the teams can't get spread too far apart or the outcome won't have any kick to it, twice in a leg? If that bunching point with the flight didn't get them, their destination in Greece would. It didn't open until 8 AM. What was amazing at that time is that Fran/Barry got to the clue first! The clue indicated a Fast Forward was available, one of two on the race. More than a few teams made a go at it. Mo/Jo got there first, then Jeremy/Eric. Since it was a one mile hike on foot, Fran and Barry lost their lead. Much to the dismay of MoJo who had been at it for a while, Jeremy/Eric found the clue breaking plates to reveal a TAR flag. A small one, of course. Supposedly, the breaking of plates wards off mischievous spirits. Who am I to argue? Excuse me while I go to the kitchen to break a plate or two...

There. I'm back. Where was I? Oh. Greece.

Jeremy and Eric went onto the Pit Stop at the Fortress of Dorion where they not only arrived first, but had their DaVinci Code bit figured out. I'll talk about that later, but the other teams still had a race going on. The remaining teams had a Roadblock (a task only one team member can perform) ahead. Bungee jumping, woohoo! Of course, we had to watch Monica cry and Fran/Barry whine a lot trying to get there. Once at the Roadblock, Fran would have something to whine about. It was either her turn to do the Roadblock or she just committed to doing it before reading the entire clue. It turns out bungee jumping scares her to death. Not quite. She lived through it. Just barely, though. It was 240 feet into a canal. I'd love to give that one a try!

The clue after the bungee jump led teams directly into a Detour, a choice of two tasks tied in with Greek Mythology or culture. The choices were Herculean Effort which had the teams perform three Olympic sports - discus, javelin and wrestling or It's All Greek to Me where teams had to select nine pottery chunks marked with Greek letters, translate the letters to English, then solve the clue as the word would be a location on a map they received. Most of the teams chose the sports event and the wrestling was a hoot! Fran and Barry knew that the physical task wouldn't be a wise choice and went for the cerebral challenge. Lake and Michelle ended up at that task only because they got lost.

The show then got very scary. Y'see, BJ and Tyler are my favorite team this season. They got lost! Oh, no! They got to Herculean Effort after all the other teams departed! Nononononono! For a while, it looked like they would be the last team to arrive. Thankfully, Lake and Michelle got more lost after leaving All Greek to Me. Phew!

The finish order was:
1. Jeremy/Eric - Since they also presented the finished DaVinci Code Product Placement Propaganda puzzle, they will attend the Hollywood premiere of the movie on May 19 and get the red "cappet" (as Phil pronounces it) treatment.
2. Monica/Joe - Originally Ray/Yolanda, but they got a 15 minute penalty for taking a taxi to the station and MoJo arrived before the 15 minutes were up.
3. Ray/Yolanda
4. Fran/Barry - Who should have gotten some sort of penalty for Barry smashing the whole back end of the car into a tree. "I didn't see it."
5. Arriving piggyback, BJ/Tyler. They also got a 15 minute penalty, but no teams arrived during it.
6. Lake/Michelle. Last and Philiminated. Bye, bye Lake ... I won't miss you!

To be honest, I didn't think it would be Lake and Michelle gone this week. I actually figured it to be a non-elimination leg. We're overdue for one of them. I thought Barry and Fran would be last to the mat, elimination or not. It's a good thing I'm not a gambler, eh?

What did you think of tonight's episode?

'American Idol' 4/12 East Coast Update - Bottom 3 and Boot

The bottom three are Elliott, Ace and Bucky.

Bucky is gone.


'The Amazing Race 9' East Coast Update 4/12

Here's the order at the mat -

1. Jeremy and Eric used the Fast Forward. Won a trip to the Hollywood premiere of The DaVinci Code
2. Monica and Joe replacing Ray and Yolanda who received a 15 minute penalty
3. Ray and Yolanda
4. Fran/Barry
5. BJ/Tyler - who got lost and received a 15 minute penalty
6. Lake/Michelle, indeed Philiminated.

A full report will be posted later. I must watch Lost! I have American Idol taping in the background and will get the boot up when I know.

'Big Brother 7' News

From this article - Entertainment Weekly's Feature: All-star ''Big Brother'': It's on! - it appears that this summer's Big Brother 7 will indeed be the wanted-by-many-but-not-by-me All Stars show. I'm just personally not too keen on watching folks I've already watched before on reality shows. That said, I'll be watching because I'm a BB addict and I'm pretty sure I'll have the feeds once again. I don't think I could get into the show without the feeds accompanying it. I'm also pretty sure I'll be blogging about the show, whether on this blog or another or perhaps even a team set up with other bloggers. Unless I have knee surgery again this summer (which is unlikely, but there are knee issues) and have the summer off from work again, I won't be able to devote the kind of time I did with last year's blog. But, with the help of other fans, maybe we can get something fun going once again to while away the summer days while watching the House Hamsters!

Here's a quote from the article:

...for the first time ever fans will get to choose who participates in the game from a pool of 20 former houseguests (BB6's Kaysar Ridha, stay by your phone!). CBS has yet to announce how or when voting will occur.

So... who do you want to see return on the show?

Monday, April 10, 2006

'The Apprentice 5' - Ep. 8 -or- "P'eatzza Party'

All right, it's onto the second episode aired tonight. Or, last night by the time most will read this. (Grr.)

Trump had the candidates meet him at the fountain in Cherry Hill in Central Park. No, don't ask me. I know where a lot of things are in the park, but that's not one with which I'm familiar. It's a big park, y'know.

He came driving a fancy-schmancy souped up car with doors like the old Pantera or DeLorean cars. I'm thinking the term is gull-wing doors, but what do I know? Why they met there makes no sense to me other that he could drive up in the cool car. He made the offer for anyone from Synergy who thinks they can help Gold Rush win to make the switch. Michael was feeling very alienated by his team as they all told him that they won the last task in spite of his poor leadership. (Yes, I agree with them. He's a nice guy, but doesn't trust his own judgment.) So, he went over to Gold Rush.

The task this episode was to promote 7-11's new P'eatzza sandwich -- a combination of pizza and sandwich. Each team was assigned to a store and the goal was to increase sales through promotion of said sandwich. Eh. Andrea decided she wanted to be the Project Manager for Synergy and Leslie took the reins for Gold Rush. Andrea abruptly decided caps would be the promotional giveaway. "It is HATS." Um, okay, Ma'am.

The foreshadow quote was "Know Your Customer." Of course, Donald Trump gave a mini-lecture about it. So far this season, the phrase has indicated something wayward with the team which inevitably loses. This time, not so much. I think this time it referred to the final two in the Boardroom. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Synergy picked a decent price for their promo -- $4 for one or $6 for two. And, they had the caps. Over at Gold Rush, Lee kept saying he knew the area and he knew the customer as it was a college clientele. Leslie really didn't listen to him on the price. He kept saying it was too high. They were giving a rather neat six-pack cooler with the sandwich, but the price was $7.99 for one, $8.99 for two. Yikes! I know 7-11 prices. For eight bucks a sandwich, cooler or not, I want a table! Lee was right. Leslie also came up with odd trivia doings. I still don't see her reasoning on that one. She obviously doesn't know the 7-11 customer. Except for drunks in the wee hours, most people go to 7-11 planning to get in and out quickly with their purchase and trivia isn't going to attract them. Lee, meanwhile, asked the manager to pull all the sandwiches except the P'eatzza. That was a good move.

On the day of the event, the trivia failed and Lee vanished, irking Leslie even more at him. It turns out he was trying to make a deal to sell a thousand sandwiches to a corporate customer. He would be the hero or the goat. In the end, the deal fell through. But I was impressed with his actions with management and his deal attempt. He's not just political -- he tried to get it done.

When it came time for the Boardroom, both teams did better than I thought either would. Gold Rush increased sales by 608% at their location. Alas for them, Synergy increased by 997%. Unbelievable!

As a reward for Synergy, the team took a private jet plane to Washington, D.C. where they met New York Senator Chuck Schumer. After a nice time with him, it was off to the White House where Sean got all choked up. He only had his green card for six months and loves America. He thinks he's living the American Dream. Aw.

Back at the Boardroom, Michael feels that he fit in better on the losing team than the winning one, so he has no regrets. Leslie was intent on blaming Lee when the main mistake the team made was the high price point. That was her decision and he was very vocal more than a few times about it being too high. She chose to only bring Lee in the Boardroom with her. Of the two, in my opinion, Lee really tried harder and was innovative. Plus, he wanted the lower price.

"You're fired, Leslie. Oh. And, happy birthday!"

She really didn't give Trump much choice on this one. What was she thinking with that price? What do you think?

Dollar bills, y'all...

'The Apprentice 5' - Ep. 7 -or- "Russian Through the Ice"

I hate when they do this. I really hate it. The Apprentice aired two episodes back to back and there will be no new show next Monday night. Oh, whatever happened to one new show a week at the same time (as in same Bat Channel and same Bat Time) each week for an entire season? The next new show will air two weeks from now on April 24.

This episode opened with Leslie crying over losing Bryce, someone she considered a friend. We all know she wants Lenny gone. Will she get her wish? Lenny decided since he was on thin ice, he'd be Project Manager to prove himself ... or not.

The candidates, wearing silly hardhats, met Donald Trump, wearing a silly hairdo (apparently it doubles as a hardhat) atop of the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street. There were two executives from Ace Hardware there, as well as an executive from the Boys and Girls Clubs. The task? Well, based on creativity, originality and judge's approval, teams had to renovate a Boys and Girls club with a theme in mind. Woohoo! Fingerpaints! Oh. Okay, no finger paints. Sigh...

Lenny started right off on a bad foot with the project. He decided music or dance, which were okay. But he didn't make a real decision although he finally focused on music. More than one time I heard him say "I don't care." What kind of attitude is that? Even if he was having problems dealing with Charmaine, that's not the phrase he should use. Eek! When they had the meeting with the executives, Lenny just went tongue-tied. If not for the rest of the team, no questions would be asked. That was their chance to find out what the execs wanted which, in the end, would win the task.

The commercial break return foreshadowing quote and lecture from Trump this episode was "Be Decisive." D'oh! Why didn't he say, "You're fired, Lenny" and get it done and over with right then and there?

Over at Synergy, Michael was the Project Manager and was pretty much the polar opposite of Lenny. He didn't stop asking questions of the executives to the point of repeating himself and becoming a bit annoying. But, at least he asked good questions for the most part. They decided on a variety of activities which would be interactive and children could gather in groups. They went for a big screen TV, video games, music, a comfy girls' gathering corner and board games.

In my opinion, both teams blew it with time management. It's a wonder either team got things done. Michael dawdled and was indecisive. Lenny was dismissive of others and indecisive. Everyone fussed at each other. Lenny and Lee like each other, but Charmaine and Tarek don't like either. Synergy on the whole was frustrated with Michael's lack of leadership. Both teams were a mess. Bill Rancic actually asked Andrea what she thought of Michael's leadership qualities in front of Michael! Ack! She fumbled through it rather politely for her.

However, when the execs arrived, both clubs were finished. They seemed more impressed with Synergy's multiple interactive activities than with Gold Rush's simply music. The children brought in actually seemed more excited by the music only one, but they weren't the ultimate judge. In the end, the judges went for a Synergy win. As their reward, they took a young girl with cancer to a Make a Wish Foundation sponsored toy buying spree at Toys 'R Us. It was touching.

Gold Rush got to visit the Boardroom once again. Lee, in a show of loyalty to his buddy Lenny, coached Lenny on what he should and shouldn't say to Trump. Now, of course, I'm wondering how even Loyal Lee could think that Lenny could indeed actually work for Trump if he won the show. Yes, Lenny has drive, but he has few people skills at all. Lenny asked Lee if he could bring him in the Boardroom and it was given that he'd bring Charmaine as those two are like oil and water.

Lenny pleaded conspiracy. Lenny tried his best to make Charmaine look bad, but it didn't work. She really did nothing wrong in the task. A "no-brainer" as Bill said.

"Lenny, you're fired."

Trump did think highly of Lee's loyalty. I personally think it was misplaced unless Lee planned to have a poor candidate against himself at the end. Friendship is one thing, but defending someone like Lenny ... I don't know.

Welp, there's another episode yet to be written up before I hit the sack. What did you think of the show?

Dollar bills, y'all...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

'Survivor: Exile Island' - Ep. 8 -or- "Bonding Ain't What It Used To Be"

Nine are left. Who will be voted out tonight?

Tonight's episode opened on Day 19 at the Gitanos camp. Ah, Austin explained his behavior at Tribal Council. He was so certain he was going to be voted out that he felt he had to explain how he tried to look weak. Of course, that backfired on him. Now he's got the biggest target in Panama plastered on his back. That target would be Terry's, but he keeps winning everything and we know he has the hidden Immunity Idol from Exile Island. If he keeps this up, he's going to make Tom Westman look like a wimp! Courtney and others feel they made the wrong choice in voting Nick off instead of Austin. Aw, too bad. Too late. Aras keeps pushing the Casaya Agenda and no one trusts Austin. It's not a happy place, not at all.

But the Rewards Challenge comes around and temporary happiness will be had by a few castaways while two others will be in for the most miserable two days of their lives. Jeff splits the tribe into three teams of three -- Shane, Austin, Terry; Bruce, Aras and Sally and Cirie, Courtney and Danielle. The teams had to run coconuts from up on the beach and put them in the boats of their opponents, the objective being to weigh the boats down and slow the other team(s) as they row out to retrieve their flag and a net. After arriving back at shore, they had to load the coconuts in the net and haul them up the beach loading them into a coconut corral. Aras kept pushing for the girls to target the mens' boat. It didn't really work too well. The Women Only team ended up having to put coconuts in their own boat after the other teams finished loading their nuts. Had the Men Only team not decided to take two trips with their coconuts, they might have won. Instead, it was Aras, Sally and Bruce winning Reward.

They won a bed and breakfast feast and the opportunity to name a person from each of the other teams to go to Exile Island. Aras took over and decided Austin and Danielle would go. The B&B initially started out bad. It was pouring rain and the canopied bed was on a sandbar, soaked clear through. But once the food arrived, all was peachy keen. According to Sally, "I can't believe I'm cold and wet and in a bed with two strange men." Well, it happens. Meanwhile, over on Exile Island, Austin and Danielle are really suffering. No fire, no shelter and they're cold miserable. A perfect situation for bonding. But will the bond be enough to break tribal ties?

While the Lucky Three chowed down in their damp bed and the Exiled Two shivered, back at camp Terry was once again campaigning. He was prying information out of Shane who admitted he wants the final four to be himself, Aras, Cirie and Courtney. Of course, that gave Terry the idea of who to pursue for a flip -- Danielle and Bruce. Will it work? Once Sally and the Breakfast Club returned, Terry told her he had the hidden Immunity Idol and was planning on using it to barter votes. Now, I'm not sure that was such a good move. I think Terry has got to be one of the strongest contestants ever on the show. He has the ace in the hole and it's not a game of tribal lines anymore. I personally think he should have kept things mum and remember it's his ticket to $1,000,000 if he plays it right.

The Immunity Challenge was a huge contrived affair. There was running, digging, crawling, jumping, brainteasers, a Lincoln Log type obstacle course and more. Eventually it was down to the three ex-La Mina members pitted against each other, then down to Sally and Terry. Terry won, not surprisingly. However, it was pretty surprising that Sally was only a smidgen behind him. She almost snagged Immunity. I'm suitably impressed, aren't you?

Then the scheming starts. Danielle claims she's bonded with Austin. She also is angry with Aras for sending her to Exile Island. All the women get ticked off at Aras. Shane, for once, stayed out of the fracas. Terry is going around telling Danielle and Bruce that they're the next targets of their own tribe. He offered Danielle the Immunity Idol to flip her vote. Bruce claimed he respects Terry more than members of his own tribe. So, what happens?

They voted along previous tribal lines at Tribal Council. Five votes for Austin and three for Aras. So much for bonding. So much for Terry's secret find.

"Austin, the tribe has spoken. You must leave the Tribal Council area immediately."

Argh. Terry should have kept his mouth shut about the Idol. Obviously, Bruce and Danielle didn't flip and now everyone will know he has it. What is going on with him? He's a great player and it's honorable that he doesn't lie or cheat. But he should know that's not Survivor.

I found this episode very frustrating. What did you think?

'Survivor: Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/06 - Voted Off

By a vote of 5-3, Austin was voted off. Aras received the 3 votes. The hidden Immunity Idol didn't come into play.

A full recap/review will be posted later tonight. Please stop back! :-)

'Survivor: Exile Island' East Coast Update 4/06 - Immunity

Terry won Immunity. Again!

'Survivor: Panama - Exile Island' East Coast Update - Reward/Exile

The tribe was split into teams of three for the Reward Challenge. At stake was bed and breakfast and the choice of who to send to Exile Island.

The teams were chosen by Jeff (or producers, or someone not a castaway) -
Shane, Terry, Austin
Bruce, Aras, Sally
Cirie, Courtney, Danielle

Winning team - Bruce, Aras, Sally
Sent to Exile Island - Austin, Danielle

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

'The Amazing Race 9' - Ep. 6 -or- "He's Not Heavy; He's My Swordfish"

So, I had some nice grilled swordfish for dinner around 7 PM, then tuned into The Amazing Race at its new day and time - 8 PM ET/PT on Wednesday. I like the time, but prefer my TAR on Tuesdays. 9 PM on Tuesdays is good. Someone fix that, please. Huh. For some reason, I don't think the network cares what I think. Darn them to heck. There. I told them!

Apparently the new day and time necessitated a recap of the whole season thus far. Yikes! I sat through each team's trials and tribulations wondering when tonight's episode would really start. I'm not too thrilled with reality shows showing a five, sometimes ten, minute recap of the previous week. I've been watching. I don't need it. Oh. I forgot. The network didn't listen to me on time slot and day; they don't care what I think of weekly recaps. To the show ...

Seven teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?

The show opened where we left the teams in Sicily at the last Pit Stop. I learned that the word vandal is historically connected to a group of people from that area. Cool. I love learning trivia stuff! As the show progressed, it seemed fitting with the amount of graffiti on the walls of the cities there. It could almost rival the Lower East Side of Manhattan or along the NJ Transit train lines. I kept looking for an Uncle Sex tag to no avail.

After pausing to skritch-scratch a puppy's tummy, the first team to leave was BJ and Tyler. The clue directed teams to drive approximately 135 miles to the city of Catania where they had to find an historic amphitheatre. They referred to Jeremy and Eric as the Frat Brats while Eric/Jeremy mentioned pixie dust while talking about them. Of course, neither comment was actually made to the teams. The race is on!

The destination was supposed to be yet another bunching point for the teams, something which usually gives the teams departing later a chance to catch up -- it didn't open until 8:30 AM. BJ and Tyler arrived first and decided to make an "official" sign up sheet for arriving team order and entrance once the site opened. Jeremy and Eric came along next, noticed BJ/Tyler napping in their car and almost fell for the "official" notice until it dawned on them that it was the other team's handiwork. Both teams were the only teams there at 8:30 when the gates opened as all the other teams got stuck in rush hour traffic and/or got a bit lost. The teams had to first find a clue, then count the number of heads on fenceposts around the structure. No, not real human heads, silly! Then they had to find the groundskeeper to tell him the count and receive the next clue. Jeremy/Eric edged out my favorite team of BJ/Tyler by moments, but it was enough to hand over the lead. I found this task very simple and, while the location was indeed historical, it wasn't too challenging at all.

That clue led to my dinner. Well, not directly to my dinner. At least, I don't think so. Teams were faced with a Detour -- Big Fish or Little Fish. In Big Fish, teams had to travel by foot to a street vendor, then each had to carry a 32 pound swordfish for a third of a mile to a street market. Once there, they had to find a particular vendor and swap the fish for the next clue. In Little Fish, teams traveled by foot directly to the market where they had to sell 2 kilos of a small fish whose name escapes me. Both groups of guys carried the Big Fish the best way, over their shoulders. Other teams had some issues. Monica had a breakdown over her fish, cried and fussed. In tears she declared it "the worst thing I've ever done!" Get a grip, girl! Even Ray was trying to carry his in one hand so as to not get his clothes fishy. Fran and Barry made the wise decision not to attempt Big Fish and were the only ones doing Little Fish. Amazingly, it didn't take them all that long to sell 2 kilos worth of fish. Little fish, that is. They thought it was fun.

Teams then had to drive to the town of Siracusa (not to be confused with Syracuse) where they encountered a Roadblock. Now, of course, a Roadblock is a task only one member of the team can undertake. This one was kayak water polo, which actually looked like fun. The racer had to join an existing game as part of a team, then score a goal. Most teams didn't have too much trouble with this. Barry had some rowing issues while Ray managed to capsize his kayak, but all got through it.

The clue after the Roadblock directed them to travel on foot to the Pit Stop where one team may be eliminated. Jeremy and Eric hung onto their lead and made it to the Pit Stop first passing a band playing some nice music. We got to see Phil dance. Um ... that brought back my nightmares of Donald Trump dancing. Make him stop!

The order of arrival was:
1. Jeremy and Eric -- won a Caribbean cruise
2. BJ and Tyler, frolicked their way in
3. Joe and Monica
4. Fran and Barry
5. Lake and Michelle
6. Ray and Yolanda
7. Dave and Lori - last team to arrive and Philiminated

Sigh. I liked Dave and Lori. I would like to see Lake and Michelle outta there. Or, even Monica and Joe. Ah, well. I guess the Force just wasn't with them. Watch ... next week one of the teams I want gone will be last and it will be a non-elimination leg. I'm still liking BJ and Tyler the best out of the bunch. They're smart, funny and entertaining. I'd love to see them win!

How about you?

'American Idol' East Coast Update - Bottom Three and Boot

Bottom three --

Elliott. Mandisa and Paris.
Paris is safe.
Mandisa is going home.

'Amazing Race 9' East Coast Update 04/05

Arrival order to Pit Stop:

1. Eric/Jeremy - won a Caribbean cruise
2. BJ/Tyler
3. Monica/Joe
4. Fran/Barry
5. Lake/Michelle
6. Ray/Yolanda
7. Dave/Lori -- last and indeed Philiminated. So long, Nerds. I really enjoyed you on the show!

In an unrelated matter, I had grilled swordfish for dinner.

A full review/recap will be posted late this evening. An American Idol East Coast boot entry will be made as soon as it happens here. Meanwhile, I must watch Lost.

Tonight's Blogging Plan (and a bit of whining)

Well. This is the week with the new day and time for The Amazing Race. While I didn't care for the 10 PM (ET) slot for the show, I liked the day. I just wanted it at 9 PM. I just got into watching Bones in its Wednesday at 8 PM time slot instead of taping. Now it's back to taping. Grr. For me TAR was best on Tuesday night for another reason -- my regular day off from work is Wednesday, so I could watch the Philiminated on The Early Show. Now no more. I can't watch the eliminated Survivor, nor Amazing Race folks now,either. Grr!

Tonight's TV plan is as follows:
I will watch The Amazing Race, taking notes for a later tonight (before midnight ET) blog entry while I tape Bones for my Sunday afternoon viewing. As Amazing Race ends here on the East Coast, I will post a blog entry with the finishing order and who was eliminated or whether it's a non-elim leg. Then, at 9 PM, I'll watch Lost with American Idol taping, but on with no sound just a glance away on a second TV. I'll post the bottom three and the voted off American Idol as soon as it airs on the East Coast. Then it'll be a toss up of watching or taping C.S.I. NY or Law and Order. While I watch one, I'll write up the recap/review/blog entry for The Amazing Race and get that posted to the blog. Yes, I multi-task. ;-)

So, stop by later for East Coast updates!

Monday, April 03, 2006

'The Apprentice 5' - Ep. 6 -or- "What's a Jingle? A Bell?"

Well, here we are at the sixth week of the fifteen week interview. Gee, that's longer than some people I know have ever held a job! No, I'm not referring to me. I've been gainfully employed for a number of years. Um ... decades. Okay, more than a score. Eek. At least Donald Trump is older than I am!

Back to the show - As Gold Rush awaits the non-fired, they want it to be Tarek gone. Alas, no go. Even though Charmaine and some of the others think Tarek holds the team back, he's not the one fired. Bryce decides to take Tarek under his wing and help him. He calls a team meeting to discuss how they should get off to a fresh start and forget past problems. Yes, it's a great idea, but it doesn't seem to go over too well. He's volunteered to the the Project Manager, but will his team listen to him? Will they respect him?

Of course, Tarek blew the play nice party when he decided he was oh-so-great-and-powerful and told them that's why they target him. After all, they're the coyotes chasing after the buffalo (him). Yes. I'm rolling my eyes. Aren't you?

All the rain they kept showing looked very familiar to me. It rained for a good part of September here. Sure enough, it was filmed during Yom Kippur - another holiday that Lee took off to observe. I don't fault him for doing so. Religion is a personal issue and most businesses allow folks the time off for such purposes. I will say it's a shame that the show was filmed when it was as Lee has had to miss part of the "interview." Even though he definitely had a valid reason to go, it can create problems on the team to have a member missing for a task. Or, it can if the Project Manager delegates responsibility properly.

Trump summoned the teams downstairs to the lobby area of Trump Tower where he showed the display cases with the Trump branded merchandise. I took the photo above in the same area of Trump Tower the last time I was in there. (No, I wasn't there for an interview, but I do recommend the public restrooms there!) He then introduced two Arby's corporate bigwigs to the teams and told them their task this week is to create a jingle touting Arby's new all natural chicken line, the only fast food chain offering such. The rest are unnatural, I guess. Aren't nuggets a body part?

They had to write the lyrics and the melody or tune with the aid of a professional band to perform the finished jingle. Lenny wanted to know what a jingle is. Even after it was explained, he played Russian about it all. I know he's smarter than that. It's something I feel just wasn't a strength of his and he fell back to acting like he just stepped foot into modern society. I don't buy the act.

Sean decided to be the Project Manager for Synergy and, for the first time, I personally thought both teams worked well on the task. No one really fought; no catfights. Andrea was almost nonexistent except for working along. Gold Rush made a horrible error which cast a shadow on anything they'd do in the task, though. They showed up 25 minutes late for the meeting with the CEO and other bigwig. Yikes! Dumb move!

This week's Donald Trump lecture and quote was about needing the respect of your employees. I think he was pulling straws with this one. In other weeks, it was evident who would lose the task by the lecture point. This time, I found it a bit murky. Neither Project Manager was really not respected. Out of the two, perhaps Bryce was a bit disrespected as his smile on your brother meeting didn't work. But Gold Rush did pull together as the task went on. I think Trump could have gone with a "Nice Guys Finish Last" quote and lecture, but it wouldn't put him in a great light, would it?

The jingles were played for the bigwig folks, Trump and a bunch of Arby's customers. Donald danced to the Synergy one. I think I'll probably have nightmares tonight. Unfortunately, Gold Rush left out the vital "Arby's is the only natural chicken" and, combined with a bit catchier tune from Synergy, they lost. They will have to go to the Boardroom.

Synergy won a fancy-schmancy meal which included $4,000 a pound white truffles. The girls fawned all over Shawn while poor Michael (who is an attractive young man) was left out. Shallow, shallow. Thankfully, Andrea was a bit quiet. Me? I'd prefer a meal at Arby's, probably going for the roast beef and not the chicken.

As Gold Rush prepared to go to the Boardroom, they were all getting along and really wanted no one fired. Heck, they even forgot how much they disliked Tarek! Bryce did something very right in leading this team in the task. While they lost, they had worked as a team. Bryce also held his head high and refused to backstab or place blame. I think his actions were pretty admirable, but it was a bit like Dead Man Walking to me. Unless he blames others, it will be him gone as he was ultimately responsible for the entire team as the Project Manager.

In the Boardroom, we didn't see fighting as in previous weeks. Lenny knew he didn't contribute much to the task and was resigned to his fate of being chosen to be a fired possibility. I think Bryce took the easy way out by choosing Lee to go with them. He knew Lee wouldn't be fired and that had he brought Charmaine or Tarek, one of them might be. I believe he figured he was a goner. He didn't want Lenny fired either. But, someone had to be fired. He was the Project Manager. He was responsible. Plus, he argued with Trump which sealed the deal.

"Bryce, you're fired!"

When he rode off in the taxi, he was a bit arrogant. But I think he may be right. Watching him bring Gold Rush together on the task this week, he worked miracles. I think Bryce may be the best candidate not hired yet. He wasn't perfect, but he got that team working as a team. I understand the firing - he was the logical candidate in this case. He'll do well in life without winning the show.

Your thoughts?

Dollar bills, y'all...