America’s Got Talent, Season 11 – Simon’s Back

1464848115_IMG_6639 (1)That’s right Simon’s back. Well, was he ever really gone? In truth he’s always been a creator and producer of America’s Got Talent, but for the first time ever he’ll be judging this season. Well, this show. He’s been a judge of Britain’s Got Talent. So he’s not back as a judge on this show, but he’s back on our TV screens, last seen in this country as a judge on The X Factor which limped to its death after just a few seasons. So with the departure of Howard Stern, our judging panel with now be Simon, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel, with Nick Cannon again as host.

Nathan Bockstahler is six years old and has never performed on a big stage before, but he feels he’s ready because he has practiced a lot. Simon affirms that he is not married. He is doing comedy for his audition. If he wins he wants a million Legos instead of a million dollars. He is really charming. Mel says she couldn’t stop laughing. Howie affirms that he comes up with his material himself. Heidi thinks that’s fantastic. Simon sees a real character. He gets through with four yeses.

José talks about his partner, his dog Carrie. They are going to do a dance together. His ex-wife didn’t dance with him, so he started dancing with his dog. She dances on her hind feet to a Latin dance with him. Simon reaffirms how they started dancing together, and it seems to just kind of have happened. Howie wants to know why his wife wouldn’t do that, and Mel says she wasn’t expecting that. Heidi thought it was entertaining and fun only for the first fifteen seconds. He gets three yeses to move on.

The Clairvoyants are mind readers. She says they noticed from the very beginning there was a very special connection between them.Their minds crossed, and they began to be able to read minds. They involve Heidi in the act, having her bring her purse up on stage. With the woman in this team blindfolded, Heidi hands the man her lipstick, and she is able to figure out that it’s lipstick, as well as the color code. They do that with people in the audience and the judges as well. Howie says this is the most amazing thing he’s ever seen. Mel feels like she’s stuck in some crazy twilight zone. Heidi calls it absolutely incredible. Simon figures she must be a witch and wants to take her to Vegas. They obviously make it through.

Lincoln Bridge are four men who grew up in the hip-hop era and promise the crowd they won’t know what hit them when they take the stage. They look like they’ll be a tough hip-hop group but instead sing an a capella version of “Somehwere Over the Rainbow.” They get a standing O save for Simon. Mel is speechless. Howie loved it. Simon thought the first half of the song was okay, but it was sensational after that. One of the members in the group gets very emotional. They get four yeses.

The Slackers are also a group. They are inspired by boy bands and also the Spice Girls. They feel they were born to do this. By the time they take the stage they are dressed up like the Spice Girls. They only lip synch to a Spice Girls song and get buzzed by Howie and Simon. Howie jokes he didn’t like the track. Simon asks them to sing a capella, and it’s not good, but Simon jokes it was better than the original. He says yes, as does Mel, but Howie and Heidi say no.

They next act starts out in the dark, and somehow the lights that we see change into birds and disappear and multiply, etc. It’s truly mesmerizing. He even turns himself into a bird and flies away. His name is Hara, and he’s from Japan. Howie says it was just gorgeous and not until he saw his act can he say he now believes in magic. Mel feels like she is already at his show in Vegas. Heidi loved the creativity of it all. Simon says he either needs to come back or come home and live with him as it puts him in the happiest place. He gets four yeses.

Charles and Rose love to entertain. They’ve been married for four years and met at grief counseling. This is what it would be like if Liberace had a wife. She go go dances while he sings Viva Las Vegas. Heidi buzzes them, but the others let them continue. She starts stripping during the performance, and Nick comes and joins her onstage for a bit. The producers or whoever keep stopping the track upsetting the judges. Simon tells them they’re one of the worst acts he’s seen and heard, but he can’t take his eyes off Rose. Howie gives them a yes and says he’s seen the show. Mel knows it’s crazy, but she says yes. Heidi wants them to keep doing it but says no. Simon wonders whether he should think with his head who says they’re nuts or his heart who wants to see it again but bigger than ever. Yeah they get three yeses.

Tape Face is a contestant with black tape over his mouth. He won’t answer any of their questions  onstage. He begins his act and puts oven mitts on and they are puppets who sing “Endless Love” while he makes faces behind them. He then puts half a dress on and slow dances and caresses himself to “Lady in Red.” Simon likes that they didn’t know who he was or what he was going to do. Heidi thought he was creepy then truly loved it. Mel asks who is going to go home tonight and try the Lady in Red thing. Howie believes this is life-changing for him and that everyone …. no one … will know his name by tomorrow.

Ryan Stock and AmberLynn are a couple who met at a festival. He was working as an entertainer and found her dressed as a fairy sitting on a bench and crying and then hired her as his assistant. He shoves a pair of scissors up his nose. then licks them when he pulls them out. He then pulls out a meat hook and jams it right in there until it comes out his mouth. He hangs from the ceiling and no one can watch, and Heidi even buzzes him. Mel loved it but can’t watch it. Howie wonders what was happening in AmberLynn’s life that made this better. Heidi couldn’t watch. Simon says it’s probably the most disgusting thing he’s ever seen, but he loved it. They get through with three yeses.

Laura Bretan is 13 years old and is a singer. She’s nervous about singing in front of Simon knowing he will tell her the truth. She sings because her mom always liked to sing. She’s a really talented opera singer. Even Simon has to stand up for this standing O. Heidi says she was born with such a gift it is unbelievable. Simon has never heard anything like that in all his years of doing this show. She made all of Mel’s hair on her arms stand on end. She changed Mel’s life, so Mel changes hers and hits the golden buzzer sending her straight through to the live shows.

Greg has a passion for danger. They were taught to work hard and get a career, but he had this passion for danger and risk. A small pool is brought out, and he dives in. It’s full of shaving cream. Simon confirms it’s the worst thing they’ve seen, and he announces he’s going home. Heidi goads Nick into jumping  into the pool. She goes up to push him in, and he pulls her in with him. They spread the bubbles all over and chase Howie, Mel, and Simon around finally getting them.

If tonight is any indication, this will be a great season of America’s Got Talent. I had really grown to love Howard Stern on the show, but I have to admit I love seeing Simon Cowell back in action again.

Image Credit: YouTube

The Voice, Season 10 – Alisan ‘Curly Sue’ Porter Wins It for Christina Aguilera

imageIt’s a really exciting finale for this season of The Voice. It will probably be either Adam Wakefield or Alisan Porter taking home the win, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if it was won instead by Hannah Huston or Laith Al-Saadi. It’s going to be an interesting one.

After starting off with a performance by Little Big Town and a look through Hannah’s entire season, she sings a duet with CeeLo Green as they take on “Crazy.” She actually seems to combine much better with him on this than she did last night with her coach, Pharrell Williams. 

Alisan Porter gets ready for her Bring Back performance and brings back Kata Hay, Paxton Ingram, and Ryan Quinn. They’re singing “Straight On” which she promises to be a killer rock show. They deliver, although Ryan needs to loosen up a little more.

Laith gets to check something off his bucket listen when he performs “Rocky Mountain Way” with Joe Walsh. The two guitarists are amazing together. This is a great matchup. 

With a look through Adam”s entire season, Sia sings “Cheap Thrills.” She’s apparently making the rounds of reality shows this week after gifting Tai Trang with a secondary prize last week on the Survivor finale. 

Alison Krauss and Adam Wakefield perform a duet of “Willin’.” He’s been at this so long it seems as if he’s already a star. Hannah then gets ready for her bring back performance along with Bryan Bautista, Caity Peters, and Brian Nhira. They sing “When We Were Young.” It’s a song that matches with Hannah’s style really well.

Zayn performs “Like I Would,” and Blake Shelton follows this with a performance of “She’s Got a Way with Words.” For Laith’s bring back performance he’s calling on Katie Basden, Owen Danoff, and Shalyah Fearing to help him sing “Georgia on My Mind.” Shalyah shows just why she nearly made it to the finals.. Owen  isn’t seen at all, however, and it’s explained at the end that he wasn’t feeling well so didn’t make it.

After a look at Laith’s journey in the competition, Alisan sings a duet with Jennifer Nettles of “Unlove You.” Their voices blend together really well.

Adam Wakefield gets his shot with a bring back performance, and he’s relying on Nick Hagelin, Justin Whisnant, and Mary Sarah. They sing “Gimme Some Lovin’.”  This could be the first time we’ve seen Adam sing without playing either the guitar or the piano. 

Ariana Grande performs onstage before Christina Aguilera joins her for a duet. This must be what they replaced the Whitney Houston duet with. Her family backed out once they saw a leaked copy of it feeling the technology used wasn’t as perfect as it could be.  Following this is a look back on Allison’s time on the show.

With the finalists on the stage, the third and fourth place finishers are named. In fourth place is Laith Al-Saadi of Team Adam. In third place is Hannah Huston of Team Pharrell. It’s between Adam and Alisan, and the winner of season 10 of The Voice is Alisan Porter, leaving Adam Wakefield in second place. Christna is the first female coach to win the show. 

It’s been a great season, and it was wonderful to watch Alisan on this journey. Next season will be an interesting one as well with Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys taking a seat in the coaches’ chairs with Adam and Blake. Watch for it in the fall!

Image Credit: YouTube

Dancing with the Stars, Season 22 – Nyle DiMarco and Pregnant Peta Murgatroyd Take the Win

imageIt’s a really tight race tonight. Going into this week there was only three percentage points separating the top three – Nyle DiMarco, Ginger Zee, and Paige VanZant. Then they only had two points separating them after two dances last night. Depending on the votes, it could be a really tight finale. It’s certainly too tight to call at this point.

Kim Fields and Sasha Farber dance to the music of a new artist. She proves she was gone much too soon. This moves into a reenactment of Paige and Mark Ballas’ dance that was similar to a live cage match. It’s just as powerful as it was before. 

Nyle and Peta Murgatroyd bring back one of their dances as well, and frankly no one cares about the dancing after he opens his shirt. But it happens to be my ear worm of the last few days – “Cake by the Ocean.” Former champions Bindi Irwin, Shawn Johnson, and Emmitt Smith come back  to say a few words, and not nearly enough time is spent with them as we move into a performance by Fifth Harmony.

The female pro dancers get their own dance, then Ginger and Val Chmerkovskiy perform one of their greatest hits, the Argentine tango. It’s very crisp and sharp and hard to imagine she’s working with an injured back. Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess return to do an Aladdin dance. He has so much charisma it’s a shame he didn’t make it to the finale.

Val and brother Maksim Chmerkovskiy combine for a great  dance together promoting their new tour. Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe take on the jive, and she’s another one it’s surprising never made it any further. 

After music by Dan + Shay, Wanya Morris and LIndsay Arnold do an encore performance of their jive. And certainly this was a guy who many expected in the beginning of the season to make it her to the finale. The male pro dancers get their turn to perform their own dance as well. 

Pitbull joins the show to sing “Messin’ Around.” All the stars from this season and their professional partners then come back to dance together for a dance to “A Summer Thing.” 

Ginger and Val are up first tonight for their last dance together. It’s a fusion dance of the Argentine tango and the foxtrot. They do a superb job of blending these two dance styles. There’s a weird point where she waves at the audience. Len Goodman notes that she lost the routine a little bit at one point, which explains her weird waving. Bruno likes that she attacked it like a hurricane. Carrie Ann notes that she came right back after her mistake. She gets scores of three 9s.

Nyle and Peta are doing a cha cha/tango fusion. He has just passed through some of his earlier problems. He’s always had trouble keeping time with the faster dances but amazingly doesn’t have a hard time with it tonight. Bruno calls it glorious and says he has exceeded expectations every time. Carrie Ann stands up and signs something to him as he cries. Len says the only boundaries are the ones we put on ourselves, and he deserves to be in the finale. Their scores are three 10s. 

Paige and Mark are doing a fusion of jive and salsa for their final dance. It’s hard to believe watching her that this was a little girl who was so bullied her family had to move. She has the ultimate in confidence and should, as she’s terrific. Carrie Ann says she has set the standard throughout the competition and did again tonight. Len says if it was judged purely on dance, she’s the one to beat. Bruno tells her she plays him completely. It’s three more perfect 10s.

Aloe Blacc performs as the finalists look back on their entire season being played out in front of them. The couple in third place is named, and it’s Ginger and Val. She talks about being a science nerd and being happy to find out she can be a science nerd who can dance. 

It’s now between Nyle and Peta and Paige and Mark. The couple taking home the mirror ball trophy is Nyle and Peta. This is fantastic for people with disabilities of some type to learn they don’t need to be limited by anything. Just like Bindi Irwin’s win last season, it was well-deserved. I’ve been a little hard on him this season, but it’s still really well-deserved.

And in late-breaking news, it’s announced that Peta is pregnant with Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s baby. She’s been hiding a baby bump the past few weeks. Congratulations to them!

Image Credit: YouTube

The Voice, Season 10 – Performance Finale Night

imageThis finale seems like it’s nearly decided. While there are four finalists, it seems like the competition is probably between Alisan Porter and Adam Wakefield, though I’m not counting Hannah Huston and Laith Al-Saadi out of it. What’s most interesting about the finale is that each coach has one artist and one artist only competing. Everyone is representing.  They will each sing a cover song, a duet with their coach, and a new original song that they wrote themselves.

Laith of Team Adam is up first. They talk about his original audition, and he says Adam Levine was the coach he was hoping for. Tonight he is singing “White Room,” and Adam feels he’s stayed true to himself. Of course, there’s no other way to do this but to have him accompanying himself with his electric guitar with one of his tremendous solos. I’ll be downloading it when the show is over. Blake Shelton notes he made it here doing it his way. Christina Aguilera is just so excited to see him tear this thing up. Pharrell Williams asks who doesn’t want to play guitar after watching this guy? Adam has no game here and is just enjoying his guy.

Coach Christina brings Alisan some gorgeous shoes as a present. They are working on her original song, and Alisan says it’s about her story and what she’s been through to give others hope. Christina loves the words “Nothing comes easy when you’re fighting for the top.” It’s called “Down That Road.” It’s a very beautiful, moving song, both the song itself and the performance, and yeah, I’ll be downloading it if the originals are available in that capacity. Adam notes the show is called The Voice, but all these other factors start to creep in. If he would be super critical he’d say hers is “The Voice” that deserves to win. Blake says it’s a cool song coming from what he knows of her story. Christina loved being there with her recording that song as she is the epitome of “The Voice.”

For the first duet of the night, it’s Blake and Adam singing “The Conversation.” They are both singing and playing the guitar. He shows that he can move from southern rock to country music very effortlessly. 

Hannah of Team Pharrell admits she didn’t think she’d make it when she auditioned. She says her students have been super important throughout this whole journey. She’s singing a dark, moody version of “Every Breath You Take,” and he says it seems to speak to her spirit in such an amazing way. It sounds like a torch song, completely flipping it, but does seem a little ominous, like it’s coming from a stalker. Adam is very protective of the song, but he thinks it ended up really cool. Blake says it was risky, but he thinks it’ll be a huge reward for her. Pharrell gives credit to the bandleader for taking the song to that place.

It’s another duet, this time with Laith and Adam singing a Bealtes medley with coach on the drums and student on his guitar of course. Adam switches partway through and joins Laith on guitar as the two of them completely rock it out. 

It’s another duet – this time it’s Christina and Alisan singing “You’ve Got a Friend.” The two of them harmonize really well. Like Adam said, if it’s truly about “the voice,” it needs to be Alisan under the confetti tomorrow night.

Blake and Adam meet up in the studio to work on Adam’s original song. The coach says he tells everyone that Adam has worked on this for so long. He admits he wrote this song by himself when he was laying on a beach with a margarita. It’s called “Lonesome Broken and Blue.” Even though he’s on guitar tonight, like every time he sings from behind the piano, this song just packs in the emotion. It’s a download for sure. Pharrell likes all the different sides of him and feels like it’s another slice. Adam says it must be the coolest feeling in the world to play his song for the whole world. Blake see the wriiting in this song as brilliant.

Hannah and Blake are the last duet of the night as they take on Justin Timberlake’s “Brand New.” It’s definitely a great song for Pharrell to do, but somehow it just doesn’t seem like it’s in Hannah’s wheelhouse.

Laith meets up with Adam in the studio to work on his original song. Laith feels he’s the Brie cheese of The Voice, or even the Steely Dan. He feels the song is kind of in that Georgia on My MInd vain and leads to some great guitar solos. It reminds Adam of a really nice, charming Clapton moment. It’s called “Morning Light.” Adam might hear Clapton, but I kind of hear Van Morrison, too, which is never a bad thing, and yeah, of course I’ll download it. Christina says it is really cool to see them do their own songs, and she enjoyed it. Pharrell wants everyone to go buy that song now, so I guess the originals will be available. Adam notes he makes everyone feel so good and plays music for the right reason and fills the room with joy.

Adam says he was living in Nashville before the show, and here he is now part of the final four. He spent a lot of time playing music but not a lot of time out in front. For his last song he’s singing “When I Call Your Name.”Blake knows this is the type of artist they made the show for. He’s back at the piano again with another really country song, which is interesting as much of the season he’s been doing southern rock, but tonight it’s all country, albeit a hint of gospel in this one. He pours it on thick at the end. Christina notes his adlibs on his runs are always impressive to her. Adam says he has amazing taste in the decisions he makes. Blake admits he’ll be downloading this song for himself as well.

Hannah meets up with Pharrell in the studio to work on her original song that she co-wrote with him. He feels the song should talk about her growth and calling her own shots. She calls it crazy to work with the producer of the music of our generation after he notes he worked with Justin and Beyoncé in that very studio. The name of this song is “I Call the Shots.” She’s back to that torch singer feel, although there’s some bluesy soul added in for good measure. She wasn’t owning that thought as much as she should for the title of the song. Adam calls it an amazing process to watch Pharrell  work. Pharrell is honored to be part of the process.

Last up tonight is Alisan who explains she picked Christna as a coach because of course she’s going to pick the person who’s doing everything she wanted to do. She recognizes the pressure on her tonight to bring Christina her first win. Tonight she’s singing “Somewhere” with her coach saying she’s had a tough journey, but now she’s living her dream. Her voice is flawless. Rather than be repetitive, Adam simply says congratulations. Christina is moved to tears, which seems like it could be a first for her on the show. She says she’s an inspiration for everyone who’s ever had a dream  and wants a second chance.

Image Credit: YouTube

Dancing with the Stars, Season 22 – Finale Night, Part One

imageThis could be an unusual finale on Dancing with the  Stars. Normally there’s a clear leader who everyone assumes will win, or maybe it’s a tossup between two. But this time it’s really a tossup between all three finalists: Ginger Zee, Paige VanZant, and Nyle DiMarco. Host Tom Bergeron confirms that there is only three percent separating the vote totals for the final three. If any of them don’t perform well tonight, the first of a two-night finale, it could spell doom for them.

Ginger and Val Chmerkovskiy are first tonight with their “Redemption Dance.” They’ll be doing contemporary. The first time they performed contemporary it fell a little flat. She’s hurts her back during rehearsals and chooses to still carry on and knows her spasm could act up in the middle of a performance. There is no sign of an injured back in tonight’s dance, and it’s truly a redemption for them. Len Goodman says the improvement is amazing. Bruno Tonioli believes it really showed how much she has blossomed. Carrie Ann Inaba is impressed with the strategy and saw improved core strength. Their scores are 9, 10, 9.

Nyle and Peta Murrgatroyd are doing a repeat of the quickstep because they had a lot of negative feedback from the judges the last time. He finds it a lot more difficult than the first time. He’s not liking it, but she encourages him through it. It looks good but is lacking something, perhaps  because he just seems really tense. Bruno compares it to a wild ride on the Pony Express but felt he lost a little bit of precision. Carrie Ann agrees that they got out of synch a little bit. Len felt it was a little hectic in places which made them lose a little bit of control. He gets scores of all 9s.

Paige and Mark Ballas are doing the salsa to redeem her first try at it when he was injured and another dancer filled in. He is putting the move into the dance that injured him last time. She feels they can do it this time. Watching her tonight, she’s a completely different dancer than she was when this thing started. Carrie Ann says a lot of people don’t improve, but she loves that she gave them an A+ performance tonight. Len wants to get it right for the finale, but he doesn’t feel like there was enough hip action for salsa. Bruno notes she’s really learned how to use her impetuous energy for maximum effect. We know at this point it won’t be three 10s, but they get close with 10, 9, 10 to put them at the top of the leaderboard. 

Ginger and Val are up first in the Freestyle Round. They are paying tribute to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. She notes it’s simple and just bout two people dancing and the chemistry they have between them. It’s a really fun routine to “Orange-Colored Sky,” and they do Astaire and Rogers proud. Len tells her she has shown her versatility tonight. Bruno thinks they really brought back the legacy of Ginger and Fred. Carrie Ann says this is where Ginger shines the brightest. Their scores are perfect 10s all around.

Nyle and Peta are going to be doing a contemporary routine, so she brought in another choreographer who is trained in this style. She wants to push them in the dance and wants to tell a message so will be doing one about giving deaf people hope. I kind of disagree with bringing in another choreographer, as that’s not what this competition is about. Nevertheless it’s a really powerful dance, breathtaking in fact. Bruno notes they brought him to tears with this “work of art.” Carrie Ann says it’s the best dance she has ever seen in twenty-two seasons. Len says it’s not a dance for deaf people but a dance for everyone. Their scores are of course all 10s.

Last up tonight are Paige and Mark with their freestyle. He took inspiration for it from her story last week about being bullied. She plans to go back to that town her family left for the first time and speak at a school about bullying. They dance to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and work in the Dirty Dancing move. It’s very moving. Even Mark is crying at the end. Carrie Ann says what’s incredible about Paige is that she has grown in a beautiful way and shown us how dance feels. Len says it’s an honor to see three fantastic dances. Bruno calls it a triumph in a night of creative and artistic excellence. Straight to the scores: it’s three more perfect 10s.

They’re running out time, so they end the show quickly, but Paige is at the top of the leaderboard, and Nyle is on the bottom. While they only had three percent separating them, the point totals they just added on only differ by two points. It’s still anybody’s game.

Image Credit: YouTube

Survivor Kaôh Rōng, Season 32 – Tai Trang Interviewed by Joe Anglim

Every year of Survivor gives us a contestant that we just can’t help but root for. Good players and sometimes even bad players, occasionally a ruthless person, but usually someone with a good heart. But always they’re very unique and stand out among the others on their tribe.

This season that award undeniably goes to Tai Trang. He made the season enjoyable to watch. Every week we all just fell in love with him a little bit more. From trying to steal a kiss from Caleb Reynolds to tearfully saying goodbye to him when he was medically evacuated and from giving Mark the Chicken a stay of execution to pulling off the best blindside ever when he refused to give Scot Pollard his idol. We rooted for him every week and cheered Sia when she gave him her own fan favorite prize.

In two earlier seasons that player was Joe Anglim. He was a nice-looking guy who had a big heart and was very spiritual. And on top of that he was a beast at challenges, but that’s what made everyone want to vote him out. They knew he was a surefire winner if he made it to final  three.

So it was very fitting when it was Joe who interviewed Tai after the season finale and live reunion. They discussed Tai’s game play, Mark the chicken, why he was placed in the Beauty tribe, the hope we all have that he will get to play this game again, and his struggle to find the right animal charity for Sia’s award to him. And you just can’t help but imagine what a great pair they’d be in this game should they ever play together.

Image Credit: YouTube

Survivor: Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn II – Stupid Juries and Mark the Chicken

Hi guys. Miss me?

Life and Survivor. You never know what twists each one are going to deliver in your direction. Super Idols. New marriage. Voting out jury members. Fun new jobs. Chickens outlasting all but three Survivors. New careers. Hopefully, one day I can be back being your regular Survivor writer – but life keeps throwing me twists. And unlike the ones I kept getting in 2012-14…these are really frigging good ones.

One thing that is not a Survivor twist…Stupid Bitter Jury Syndrome. Honestly. I watched this season – and can anyone really tell me how Michele won this season as opposed to Aubry? Michele played a blander version of Sandra’s Anyone But Me strategy. How did this happen? I honestly think that Aubry played one of the best games in years. Michele explained her victory as having to prove she was smart. Really? If you have to prove to the jury that you aren’t an idiot…well, how can you be the winner?

How did she lose? She lost 5-2 because all of Beauty and Brawn voted for Michele. Aubry kicked their ass, and they didn’t like getting their ass kicked by the geek who started the season crying from the heat. I was especially stunned by Cydney’s vote for Michele – I can only guess that came from Aubry choosing to vote out the bigger threat. I some seasons the jury would see that as a badge of respect. Some years…they don’t. I thought Aubry rocked this season and really nailed the jury questions. But they had no interest in rewarding her – egos are a crazy thing.

I mean – tell me one thing that Michele did this season? We have 31 winners in Survivor history – and the one person who is probably the most thrilled about this result is Natalie White. She is no longer on the bottom of the list.

So, Aubry didn’t win Survivor – but she won this Survivor writer’s respect. And I really hope that she gets a Second Chance someday.

A few thoughts about this season and the Reunion Show.
• Strangest thing ever – the weird Oreo Cookie woman with the money for Tai and the animals. And then Drew Carey for some reason. These reunions keep getting weirder and weirder.
• Really. The hungry overheated people didn’t eat the chicken. That’s one thing I didn’t see coming.
• It should surprise no one who watched this season to learn that this one was in the can prior to the fan vote season. It may have been one of the more blah seasons of Survivor. It didn’t suck, but it wasn’t amazing. It was kind of there. It delivered the right points. It had some crazy. But…will you remember it? I have a feeling it will forever land right in the middle of all season rankings. It’s the Fulcrum Season.
• As much as I loved Aubry’s game, and weirdness of Tai’s game, and the damn chicken, the true star of this season was the brutality of Cambodia’s weather. THAT’s what fans will remember of this season. The weather, the injuries, the bug in the ear. Not the people and gameplay – and that’s not a good thing. However, this season should be the one that is shown to anyone who is considering applying for the show. It’s real. It’s brutal. It’s Survivor. And it’s awesome.
• Hmm…how do I put this so it clears the censors? How about some rhyming codes. The words rhyme with Flooshbag and Massholes. Got it? I’m tired of seeing flooshbags and massholes on Survivor. Mansplaining and bullying sucks in actual reality, so why are we getting helping doses of it in fake reality? I think there is reason I’ve wound up rooting for women and nerds on the show, because the other options have too often been terrible.
• Dog the Bounty Hunter and Scrub NBA Player are unwatchable. So horrible. I hated them from the beginning with the way they treated Alecia. That’s her name. Don’t be a masshole, use her damn name. One of the best parts of the season was seeing the little guy take them down.
• I assume Tai gets the first shot at returning. And I want Aubry back, of course. I’m also a big fan of Crazy Debbie. Sorry, Eccentric Debbie. The Swiss Army Knife lady. She did everything. I was kind of hoping she’d go far – but, oh well. Probst called her Rupert and Coach. She’s more Coach than Rupert – but that’s not fair to Debbie. I think it’s fair to say that there is no other Debbie out there.
• GI Joe. He didn’t do much as far as compelling TV goes, but honestly, I loved GI Joe. He’s 71 and he is effing ripped. Come on! This dude. I doubt I could last a day on this show and he had to be pulled because he ate too much beef after a month. I can honestly say he could probably kick my ass, and yours, but he wouldn’t unless he had to.
• For the record, Cydney was my Survivor girlfriend this season. Hoo boy – that lady has quite the body. Wow. Wow. Wow. She could kick our ass too.
• One regret – I didn’t write this season’s early episodes so I could continually say “Thanks, Obama” whenever Peter did something.
• Next season? Fiji again. 20 people. Generational battle as Gen X takes on the Millennials. And it is KILLING me that Gen X is now the old guys. We used to be the slackers and the cool ones. Why can’t the Baby Boomers get in there too? I don’t want to be the old guys – even if I am. Crap. I hope I can write next season – but it’s going to be tough.
• Another for the record, I am happy Namesake won the Fan Vote season, because I doubt I’ll ever win. Even if I would have voted for Spencer. That season was so good. I want to see another group of Survivors who’ve only had one shot and never won. Oh? You want my casting? Sure. 10 dudes – Tai, Josh, Troyzan, Rice, Marty, Ian, Frosti, Edgardo, Shane, Hogeboom 10 ladies – Aubry, Debbie, Carolyn, Jaclyn, Katie C, Lisa, RC, Chelsea, Christina, Natalie T. I would love to also see Vanuatu Chris get another shot – but that may have to wait until a winners season.
• Maybe one day both Laura and I will be writing for the Shack at the same time again. One can dream.
• Ok – so that’s my short respite from work and chores. To quote the immortal former Governor of California and new, not crazy host of Celebrity Apprentice…”I’ll be back.”

Survivor Kaôh Rōng, Season 32 – Bitter Jury Weighs In

Survivor051816This season of Survivor had some of the best episodes ever. The blindsides were fantastic, and the first medical evacuation was so emotional. But the past two weeks the show seemed to putter along. They couldn’t do anything about last week’s penultimate episode; Joe had to be evacuated. But this week? What was with that jury decision?

The Reward Challenge

Aubry completely rocked this challenge. She was not going to lose it. It was all her. The final four had to go through an obstacle course, slide blocks into a goal, then pair up the blocks to leave three unmatched blocks that would bear numbers to a combination that would unlock the winning flag.

Aubry was out in front the whole time. She got caught up at the end by pairing up the wrong tiles, but finally got it right and won a meal for herself and one other Survivor. She chose the right person to go with. She knew she was solid with Tai, and she needed to make sure she was as well with Cydney, so chose to take her.

Meanwhile Michelle approached Tai about an alliance to get to final two. She pitched the two of them as the odd men out and wanted him to keep her and vote out one of the other two.

The Immunity Challenge

Without Joe bringing up the end in challenges, that was left to Michelle today. Except she was bringing up the end until she inexplicably won somehow. They had to untie keys out in the ocean to unlock ladders taking them to bags of puzzle pieces. Somehow she came from behind to win.

This put the other three In a pickle. She was the easy out. Now what? As expected, it broke down into two against two. Michele and Cydney worked Tai to vote out Aubry. They wanted her instead of Tai because they rudely said he couldn’t even talk so would be no good in front of the jury. But Aubry was pushing him on forcing a tie vote to end in a fire-starting challenge.

Tai did the right thing and stuck with his alliance with Aubry. They both voted for Cydney, and Cydney and Michele voted for Aubry. In the fire challenge, Cydney was never in it. It was Aubry all the way. Interestingly enough, the jury was cheering on Aubry. I thought right then it was good news for her, as it seemed as if they were on her side.

The Extra Challenge

Jeff Probst threw in a new twist. The final three gathered for a challenge, worried that there would only be a final two. Instead it was a challenge for a reward. That reward was being able to vote out a jury member. If there was someone you knew wouldn’t vote for you to win, here was your chance to get them out.

This stacking challenge could have seen any of them winning. But it went Michele’s way … again. Obviously Joe and Neal were going to vote for Aubry, and while Michele considered getting rid of Joe’s vote, Tai told her his choice would be Neal. Aubry tried to save him saying her vote would be for Scot as he could convince others to vote with him. In the end she chose Neal who had some choice words for her on the way out, telling her she had no chance of winning.

The Last Tribal Council

Unfortunately I accidentally deleted tonight’s show from my DVR, so I don’t have it to go back to to help me write this up, so I’m relying on my memory. But the jury was slamming Michele for not being intelligent enough, not playing the game until the very end, etc. She also took credit for some moves in the game that had tai shaking his head.

Tai’s big mistake here was that he kept going back to his big move in the game of voting out Scot. He needed to point to other good things he did. The jury thought he started out strong and got weaker and still gave him flak for flip-flopping.

It really wasn’t one of those last Tribal Councils where the jury really gives it to the final three. There were no jaw-dropping comments or questions. Just apparently a group of bitter players who couldn’t get over the fact that these Aubry and Tai conspired to vote all of them out.


After the jury voted and Mark the chicken was freed, we made it back to the studio live for the live vote count. In a truly shocking result, Michele won five votes to two. She received five votes, Aubry two, and Tai zero. Zero? C’mon.

How bitter was this jury? Michele did not have a game. She road the coat tails of whoever she could and at the end after winning a few challenges to get there pretended this was all her strategy. But Nick, Scot, Julia, Jason, and Cydney all voted for her, while Deb and Joe voted for Aubry.

Clearly Tai and Aubry were in control of the entire game after the merge. They controlled it all the way. And sure, Michelle had the votes of Julia, her partner, and Cydney, her partner later in the game. But the other three voting for her? They couldn’t get over being blindsided so chose the person who limped along through the game not blindsiding them because she was never in control. Such sore losers and so bitter.

Tai Gets the Last Laugh

But Survivor must have known that this wasn’t the ending we were hoping for. They spent barely a minute talking to Michele about her win. Barely. That is unprecedented. But they couldn’t spend a whole section talking about her strategy as she had none. She really had nothing.

Instead, they moved on to Aubry and spent some time talking about her game, as she did have a strategy, and she went from being completely overwhelmed in the game to catching her stride and aligning and controlling people to get to the final three.

Then Jeff moved on to talking to Tai. But he was interrupted by someone in the audience. It was singer Sia. Or at least we think it was her underneath that wig she always wears. But she saved this whole season and reunion show.

Sia interrupted Jeff and came up and announced being a fan of the show. She talked about being upset that they don’t reward a anyone with a fan vote and secondary prize anymore. So she offered a reward. She gave Tai $50,000 and she gave him another $50,000 to give to his favorite animal charity. He was clearly stunned, as was Jeff.

And after that, time was spent talking about the Scot/Jason/Tai alliance, Cody being evacuated, Julia being the youngest, Deb being odd, and Joe being 71. No more time was spent on the undeserving winner. Her fifteen minutes is apparently done.

Season Summary

A few weeks ago I was saying this was the best season ever. After this result, I don’t think I can say that anymore. We had some of the best blindsides ever, and by that I mean the most deserving. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Survivor episode as much as when Scot was voted out.

But that’s why they were so deserving of being voted out. They were too bitter. They didn’t have the capability of recognizing that someone else Outplayed, Outwitted, and Outlasted. They were just too bitter, so gave the prize to the person who didn’t hurt them because she was barely playing the game and who was in the final three because she won the last immunity, but was in the final four because the others dragged her there.

They should have listened to Tai when he wanted to get her out. He was right. Instead they said it was a wasted advantage because he used his extra vote on someone who was still there. Instead they should have been looking at it that he was deserving of the win because he knew she didn’t deserve to be there and was in danger of getting dragged to the end and messing up his alliance.

And really that’s the only time Aubry messed up. I think she played a fabulous game. But … she didn’t get rid of Michele when she should have. But I think we’ll see her again. Tai too. If they are willing to do this thing again, I think Survivor producers will be begging to put them into some type of “Favorites” or All-Stars season.

Image Credit: YouTube

The Voice, Season 10 – Pink Mentors and Final 4 Are Chosen

Voice051716Before the semi-finalists take the stage tonight they’ll get some tutelage from Pink. She’ll act as mentor for the teams of Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton. Each artist will sing twice: a solo and a song with one ot the other semi-finalists.

First up tonight is Shalyah Fearing of Team Adam. Pink tells her she is so amazing she wants to punch her. She’s singing “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” explaining it’s her way of telling America she doesn’t want to go home. Pink says she has the most beautiful voice she’s ever heard. This is another song that’s been overdone on reality TV, and while she doesn’t have the power Jennifer Hudson does unless she’s yelling, she puts great emotion into it. After a standing ovation, Christina tells her she was singing for her life. Pharrell recognizes it’s a lot for a 16-year-old to connect and communicate like that. Adam is so overjoyed they got to have this moment they’ve been wanting to have for weeks.

For the first duet of the night we have Alisan Porter and Adam Wakefield singing “Angel from Montgomery.” He accompanies the two of them on the guitar, and the two of their voices blend really well on this song. 

Paxton Ingram of Team Blake, fresh of his Instant Save, tells Pink he has her first album. He’s singing “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Pink notes she doesn’t get good until she starting yelling, but he starts good, and she thinks it’s ballsy to even attempt a Meatloaf song. He brings some great energy into this performance when the tempo steps up. Christina never would have expected Meatloaf from him but notes he pulled it off. Pharrell thinks he’d be good on Broadway. Blake doesn’t know if he’s ever been more proud of an artist he’s worked with on the show. 

Team Adam’s Laith Al-Saadi mentions hitting number 10 on iTunes last week and Bob Seger mentioning him on Facebook. He’s singing “One and Only” because he wants to show he can take anything and make it his own. When he thinks he can’t hit a note, Pink tells him to clench his butt cheeks to hit it. He has his electric guitar out again tonight for this, and he does hit that high note. Blake says it was beaitufl singing, and his guitar solo worked. Pharrell urges everyone to keep supporting Latih. Adam says he would be the most proud if he were to make it through because he represents somethng that’s near and dear to him.

Bryan Bautista and Mary Sarah combine for a duet of “Break Free.” It’s a different side of her as it’s very contemporary, and we’re used to seeing classic country from her. It’s more Bryan’s style. 

Alisan Porter of Team Christina is up, and Pink wants to geek out over meeting Miss Curly Sue. Alisan returns the favor explaining that for her very first audition she sang “Try.” Alisan is singing “Desperado” tonight, and Pink tells her that her interpretation of it is “the bees knees.” Yeah, I’ll agree with Pink’s assessment. It is the bees knees – so much so that I just set a reminder to download this after I’m done watching the show. Adam says someone who wins the show can do everything and do it in a way that connects you emotionally, and she really does have it all. Blake always looks forward to whatever she’s going to do, and that’s one of his all-time favorite songs. Christina is speechless, yet has so much to say as she’s bursting with pride and admiration.

Hannah Huston and Laith Al-Saadi bring a duet of “Knock on Wood.” You wouldn’t ever expect him to sing this song, but somehow he makes it work. He’s right that he can sing anything and make it his own.

Next up is Adam Wakefield of Team Adam who notes how amazing Pink is. He says he used to teach vocal lessons and every girl wanted to sing Pink. He’s singing Blake’s “I’m Sorry.” Blake thinks it  sounds too easy for him to sing, so he suggests he sing it at the piano, and Pink agrees as it’s something no one else can do. Blake and Pink were dead on with this one. When I’m downloading Alisan’s song, I’ll download this as well. He brings me to tears by the end. Pharrell doesn’t even feel like Adam is competing anymore. Adam says when the audience gets quiet it can be bad, but with him it’s good because they were so moved by what he did. Blake is embarrassed that he ever sang the song after hearing him do it.

Bryan Bautista of Team Christina was actually an usher for one of Pink’s performances. He’s doing Christna’s “Hurt” becaxuse he hasn’t heard from his dad since this whole thing started. Pink notes he can sing his butt off and can even sing higher than she can. And for his performance, he, too, takes a seat at the piano. I just can’t get past the fact his dad isn’t contacting him. Adam says it takes a lot of courage to be that in touch with his emotions. Christina says every time he performs he shows a different element of himself.

Shalyah Fearing and Paxton Ingram get together for a duet of “Masterpiece.”  They’re another pair that combine very well together. However, there isn’t much difficulty in the song for them to impress people with, yet she tries her best to pump it up.

Coach Blake’s Mary Sarah is singing “I Told You So.” Pink thinks she’s adorable and misses people singing traditional country. When she watches a performer she wants to think they have no other choice but to sing that song, and that’s what she wants to hear out of her with this. They have her completely covered up with long scarves coming down, so it’s hard to tell if she’s reaching that emotion or not. Christina feels like she’s seen her become a  woman on the show. Blake wants people to YouTube what she just did when people ask what’s good in country music.

Hannah Huston, Coach Pharrell’s only artist, is singing “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and Pink notes if she’s been in love like that beofre we should know that when she sings. Hannah doesn’t like to share but notes she tends to let all that go when she sings. She starts the song a capella, and it helps to bring out that emotion in the song. Adam thinks they take her for granted because she’s been the most consistent. Blake says she hasn’t had anything like that the entire season. Pharrell agrees that it’s been a slow build for her.

Skipping ahead to elimination night, I’m hoping that Alisan, Laith, and Adam make it to the finals. It doesn’t matter to me who the fourth person is. They seem like they might be on track for that having strong performances all season long as well as this week.

The first artist to be called safe tonight is Adam Wakefield of Team Blake. There’s one-third of my dream team. 

Before we get more results Alicia Keys, who will be sitting in one of the coaches’ chairs next season, sings “In Common.” 

The next artist to be called safe is Alisan Porter of Team Christina. There’s two-thirds of my dream team. 

It’s yet another musical interruption with OneRepublic singing “Wherever I Go.” 

The third finalist called safe is Hannah Huston of Team Pharrell. He makes it to the finals despite only having one artist for the past few weeks. 

Three of the five remaining artists will sing for the last remaining Instant Save. It’s between Paxton Ingram, Mary Sarah, Bryan Bautista, Shalyah Fearing, and Laith Al-Saadi. The three singing tonight for that save are Mary Sarah, Bryan, and Laith. This sends Paxton and Shalyah home.

Mary Sarah of Team Blake sings “Something in the Water” for her Instant Save chance. She seems incredibly nervous and isn’t her normal bubbly self and is really pitchy. Pharrell talks about her intensity and thinks she showed people she wanted to be there. It blows Blake away that she’s in this position.

Bryan Bautista of Team Christina sings “Adorn.” He’s much more calm, cool, and collected and hits a great note while his coach dances in her seat. Pharrell says someone should be signing this guy right now. Christina says everyone who has seen this guy in the competition representing and showing something new should vote him through.

Laith Al-Saadi of Team Adam sings “All Along the Watchtower” for his chance to stay. And, of course, he’s shredding with his guitar as usual. He works in some vocals and two guitar solos in his quick time slot. Adam notes he’s not a pop star or pop singer and knows it’s crazy he made it this far, but he’s a tremendous singer and just did two guitar solos that were bad ass 

At the beginning of the commercial break the vote totals are Bryan with 22%, Laith with 50%, and Mary Sarah with 28%. Once the final Save votes are totaled, the last finalist is Laith Al-Saadi. My dream team is complete.

Tune in next week to see these finalists compete. I’d be okay with Adam, Alisan, or Laith winning, but I’m really hoping Alisan wins it. But there’s no doubt that all of them deserve recording contracts.

Image Credit: YouTube

Dancing with the Stars, Season 22 – Semi-Final Double Elimination

DWTS051616We’re down to the semi-finals, and making it an even more difficult night is that it’s also a double elimination. Two of five couples will be eliminated tonight. At this point it would seem a shock for Nyle DiMarco, Paige VanZant, and Ginger Zee to not make it to next week, but that all depends on how their votes came in last week. Each couple will dance two times, as they are also working trios in this week.

First up is Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas for their trio dance. They’re adding Alan Bersten into their dance tonight since she had great chemistry with him when she did the salsa when Mark was out. They’re doing the samba, and Alan says she’s like the sexy bird who knows it. In true Mark  fashion, it’s great conceptually, and Paige really is the sexy bird. Len Goodman says you can file it under B for brilliant. Bruno Tonioli notes she really became the star attraction. Carrie Ann Inaba thinks Paige is unstoppable. Their scores are perfect 10s.

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess are working with Hayley Erbert for their trio. Sharna picked her because she’s super fierce on the dance floor. They’re doing the Argentine tango, and Sharna wants him to be in the commanding male role. He starts the dance with some great ”tude. Bruno says he was in command. Carrie Ann believes that he has made the longest journey of all the semi-finalists. Lens agrees with her belief that his lines should be longer. The scores are all 9s.

Wanya Morris and Lindsay Graham of course pull in her buddy Witney Carson for their trio. They’ll be doing the paso doble, but first they have to shake off their slipup from last week. Lindsay wants to take him back to the beginning of the competition when he was just happy to be there. He  is so strong tonight and shows he is back with a vengeance. Carrie Ann hugs Wanya and tells him to stay there the rest of the night. Len gives him a standing ovation. Bruno agrees it was the comeback they were all waiting for.  His scores are three 10s.

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd bring Jenna Johnson into their trio. She’s a step ahead here as she knows a little sign language. They’ll be doing a jive with the theme of him being on a date with one girl when he’s supposed to be with another girl. It’s a really cute dance, but his lack of hearing shows up when he’s a little off. Len notes that Nyle lost sync but was in it 100%. Bruno thought it had the innocent charm of child’s play and also notes him being out of sync. Carrie Ann agrees and believes it’s just because it”ss hard to stay in step during the jive when you can’t hear. This trios scores are three 9s.

Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy bring Artem Chigvintsev into their trio  because he’s an incredible performer, teacher, choreographer, and partner. They’ll be doing the paso doble, and she knows she has to dance better than ever before to keep up with the two professionals. It’s an interesting paso in light neutral colors instead of the dark red and black colors we usually see. Bruno thinks it was one of the most tense and surreal paso doubles he’s ever seen but notes she lost some shaping. Carrie Ann says she was living the drama but agrees with Bruno. Len found plenty of action.. Her scores are all 9s.

Before Paige and Mark’s second dance we go back to her childhood years. She took dance up until high school, then became a cheerleader and put up with bullying. Her family moved to Reno to get her out of that, and she then started to get into MMA through her dad’s love for it. They take on the Argentine tango, and she seems sexy and athletic at the same time. Len thinks the choreography and dancing was brilliant but a bit too hot and spicy. Bruno compares it to Basic Instinct with a sprinkle of Fatal Attrraction and Fifty Shades of Paige. Carrie Ann loves the layers of powerful, athletic, erotic, sensual, sophisticated, and dynamic. Her scores represent this praise as she gets 10, 9, 10.

Antonio grew up in a rough area and says he had to become a man quick. Life changed even more for him once his parents split up. He was an underdog in football going into college, but he was going to do whatever it takes and he went from underdog to top dog in the NFL. He and Sharna’s second dance is contemporary, and it is undeniably his best dance ever. Bruno notes his strength and connection with Sharna was off the charts. Carrie Ann says although he’s not the best dancer, he’s so dedicated and determined and lights up the room. Len says that dance will go down in the DWTS hall of fame for the most spectacular lifts he’s ever seen on the show. The scores are 9, 9, 10, but the crowd clearly feels it should be all 10s.

Next up is Wanya, and his mom notes he was only three or four months old when she realized he could sing. They used to call him Little Luther. He grew up in the projects so had fun but a lot of tribulation. His wife thinks it made him want to become something better. They put the Boyz II Men group together while they were in high school, and the rest was history once they signed with Motown. He and Lindsay are doing the Charleston, and that spirit he has in the beginning of the season comes out once again. Carrie Ann tells him he is her hero, making that comeback on top. Len says if natural dance talent were in the dictionary, there would be a photo of him. What Bruno liked was how they infused so many styles together, and that credit goes out to Lindsay. His scores are again perfect 10s.

Nyle chose to go to school at a university that is the only one for deaf people. He majored in math with a goal to be a math teacher, but then he ended up in America’s Next Top Model. He notes that his life has completely flipped, yet he still wants to inspire kids. We see his twin brother who looks nothing like him. For this Argentine tango with Peta tonight he’s going to do it blindfolded. So now he can’t hear or see, but it only lasts for a few seconds. Regardless, it’s a very powerful performance from him. Len says he never ceases to amaze him. Bruno was mesmerized with it all. Carrie Ann says he reminded us tonight to always push the boundaries. His scores are all 10s.

Ginger is another child of divorce. She was anorexic in her teen years in an effort to try to control things. After the divorce they spent a whole summer on Lake Michigan, and watching the storms is when she first became interested in meteorology. They do the quickstep  tonight, and she has just the right perk to take on this style of dance. Bruno can only talk about how hard it will be to see any of the final five leave tonight. Carrie Ann cays it was all going well, but there was a little catch in her dress. Len says there’s no I in team, but there is in Ginger, and there is in fantastic. Her scores are 9, 10, 10.

Two couples now need to be eliminated. The finalists moving on to next week are Ginger and Val, Nyle and Peta, and Paige and Mark. This sends Antonio and Sharna and Wanya and Lindsay home. Everyone hugs so much they only have seventeen seconds to say goodbye. We don’t get final words from them. 

So this one ended up exactly as I thought it would.  However, I’m not sure who will take home that mirrorball trophy next week. It could easily be any of the finalists. 

Image Credit: YouTube

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