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Paranormal Witness, October 5 – UFOs and Ouija Boards

Do you ever wonder if we are really the only beings here? Tonight’s episode of Syfy’s series Paranormal Witness introduces Trumbull County in Ohio. In 1994, Officer Toby Meloro and former dispatcher Roy Anne Randolph relive their frightening experience as Roy Anne began receiving dispatch calls from concerned citizens who were seeing lights. They described multiple colors but the main description of an object with multi-colored lights hovering was the same. Officer Toby thought maybe it was people who were intoxicated or just an airplane.

They always brush things like this under the rug. It is easier to explain when someone can just say it was an aircraft. Toby said he was used to strange calls with the weather being warmer, but he never expected a UFO. During the show, as Roy Anne and Toby gave interviews, they played the real life dispatcher calls. The first call Roy Anne received was from a calm caller. He said something was coming down on an angle and Roy Anne immediately thought of the air base that is close by.

The caller stated it looked as if there were flames coming out of it, but it was extremely bright. It was hovering, but there was no noise at all. Roy Anne thought it could be anything from an airplane to a weather balloon. She laughed it off until another call came in. This time the next caller stated it had iridescent lights and was not an airplane. Could it be a UFO or maybe a Stealth plane?

Roy Anne said there were not many crackpots in the area of the calls. She finally decided that to clear her conscience, she wanted an officer to check it out. She called Toby, and he was in a donut shop having what else, donuts and coffee. A rather cliché scene, but Toby said it was the only place open; the man needed to eat.

Roy Anne informed Toby that several people were calling in about a bright, hovering object in the sky, or straight to the point, a UFO. Toby grabbed his coffee and headed out to his police car. He thought the calls were from jokesters or drunks, or that people were seeing things. Roy Anne gave him the description over the radio, and he turned onto Sampson Drive where the majority of people were seeing it. He spotted a light in the distance.

Toby continued driving until a panicked man with his dog in tow flagged him down and described an object hovering with blue and green lights. The man said it was huge and that the light covered his entire home. Toby tried to smell his breath as he spoke to the man, but he was neither intoxicated nor acting crazy. He told the man he was on his way to check it out.

Toby spotted it about 100 feet away and caught a glimpse of it. He finally caught up to it, and believed it was a “flying saucer.” The atmosphere is huge and no one really knows what else is out there. When someone does see something, right away they are considered crazy.

Now, Toby is an officer of the law saw this object personally. He approached, and his vehicle shut off completely as the object hovered. He got out of police car and reached for his revolver, then looked up and had to shield his eyes from the bright light. He stood in awe watching this object.

Roy Anne tried to reach Toby on his radio and could not get through; now it was a crisis. When an officer does not answer his radio, there are problems. Toby got on his phone and called Roy Anne on the phone because he could not call in over the radio due to losing power. He told her it was a “flying saucer” hovering over a large wooded area. Roy Anne decided to call the air base. You would think this would be the first thing they would do. She called, but they couldn’t back up these strange claims. (Do they ever see anything?)

Toby said the light covered the entire street plus the wooded area. It was unreal and not an airplane or a helicopter. Toby stared at the object for awhile. When it took off, his car came back on. The siren went off, and he heard Roy Anne on the radio trying to reach him. Toby snapped himself out of it and jumped in his car to try and follow this unidentified flying object.

Toby was overwhelmed, but he wanted to know what this hovering object was. Roy Anne felt it was farfetched and way out of left field. Her station and the dispatch were buzzing with calls. There were officers calling in stating they saw an unidentified flying object with multiple colored lights, which substantiated the claim. Without them, the calls from the general public would have still been considered crazy. Roy Anne called the air base back to verify that the man in the tower did not see anything, and he confirmed he did not.

The Amazing Race, Oct. 9 – Not Over Until It's Over

It’s still hard for me to believe that Jenna and Ethan are out of The Amazing Race already. It should be another feather in Boston Rob’s cap, though, as I don’t think there’s anything that those other two winners of Survivor can do that he hasn’t. He lasted longer in both his stints on The Amazing Race. But for CBS, they must be kicking themselves, saying, “Not again!” after watching Evel Dick leave in the first week of Big Brother over the summer. That season managed to persevere, and I think this Amazing Race season will do the same.

The first team to leave Jakarta, Indonesia, are Andy and Tommy at 7:38 AM. Their clue has them joining a group that reenacts the bicycle patrols of the 1940s. When they arrive at Fort Vredeburg, they’ll get the next clue. Andy and Tommy do their best to joke around with the bicycle patrol, but they don’t seem to be biting at all. The snowboarders then just do what they know, and do wheelies and other tricks while riding the bikes.

Next to leave are Laurence and Zac, at 7:57 AM. Zach thinks his dad is one of the best traveling partners, and explains when he sailed around the world, his dad was there in each port. Laurence thinks that experience on the seas will only bring out the best of them. Kaylani and Lisa leave just five minutes later, and Kaylani mentions that as a single mom, her daughter is her motivation for the Race, to show her what the possibilities are in challenging yourself.

Ernie and Cindy leave at 8:14 AM, and she admits freely that she’s a bit of a control freak. She made a packing list three months before leaving for the Race, studied lost of geography books, taken intensive language courses, and did a lot of exercising. This means Ernie was on her schedule for the past six months. I just want to say I don’t see anything wrong with making a packing list three months beforehand and beginning to pack two to three weeks beforehand. It may seem overboard to some, but I also have everything I need. Ernie’s dad is a cop, so she thinks he’s feeling at home right now on the bike patrol. 

Liz and Marie leave at 8:18 AM, and make a crack about twins riding bicycles side by side. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Jeremy and Sandy leave three minutes later, and Bill and Cathi are one minute behind them. They went through all the other teams, and realized they are forty years older than the youngest team. Everyone looks like they could be their children. Yet they’re fearless, and at their age, they know they’re going to die soon anyway, so it’s okay. Hey, she said that, not me. 

Andy and Tommy complete their patrol and get a clue telling them to travel by taxi to Salakmalang Village to a get their next clue. Laurence and Zach complete this first task as well. Tommy is figuring there are still teams that haven’t even left the pit stop yet.

Tommy would be right. Justine and Jennifer leave at 8:31 AM. He mentions that the others have all gotten a chance to see how volatile their relationship is. They’re just trying to focus as much as they can on the positives and stay as far away as possible on the negatives. She has a problem riding the bike and even runs square into some shrubs. Amani and Marcus leave at 8:32 AM, and he’s feeling the heat being at the back of the pack, yet was once in a game being down twenty-one points with four minutes left, and came back and won. It’s definitely not over until it’s over. 

Cindy’s pedal falls off her bike. That’s one of the things meticulous planning doesn’t help you with. Ernie asks if they can just continue on without the pedal, but the rest of the bike patrol wants to fix it, telling them, “No worries. No Worries. No worries.” Liz and Marie pass them up, and soon everyone else does as well, save for Amani and Marcus. Cindy’s pedal finally gets fixed. It just doesn’t seem like it should have taken nearly that long, as all they appeared to do was tie it back on.

Kaylani/Lisa, Liz/Marie, Jeremy/Sandy, Bill/Cathi, and Justin/Jennifer reach the end of the bike patrol and take off for the restaurant. Sandy doesn’t even want to take the time for Jeremy to read the clue, telling him, “We can’t pronounce it. Let’s go.” They all board taxis, with Cathi saying they are team number one when clearly they aren’t. Ernie and Cindy finally reach the end of their bike patrol, and Amani and Marcus finish behind them. 

Andy and Tommy reach the restaurant and find a Detour – Rice Fields or Grass Fed. In Rice Fields, teams ill deliver a midday meal to workers in the field, and while the workers eat, the teams must plant 300 rice seedlings. When the farmers are satisfied the planting is done, the racers will get their next clue. In Grass Fed, teams will need to fill two bags with freshly cut grass, pick up two sheep, and bring them to a shed. They’ll then gather six buckets of water from a well, and pour them in a trough. When all is complete, they’ll get the next clue.

Andy and Tommy decide to do Grass Fed. They start throwing grass into a bag and run back right away. Bill and Cathi are still on their way there, insisting they are team number one. Somehow Ernie and Cindy catch up to this group of taxis. Jeremy and Sandy pass Kaylani and Lisa, and their driver can only laugh. Amani and Marcus have a driver who is also laughing, and they think he’s lost.

Top Chef: Just Desserts – Ep 7 – Death By Chocolate…and Donuts

What’s with the shows I watch this week doing random, nonsensical double eliminations? First, the Amazing Race breaks with form and eliminates a team for not finishing in last. Now, Top Chef takes out a chef near the end of the competition during a Quickfire. Not that there isn’t precedent for a Quickfire elimination, but to have to take place near the end is unfair. This is not how the show is built. Sure, it is dramatic, and unexpected, but that doesn’t make it good.

If I were Megan, I would not be too pleased that I went home on a Quickfire. These sudden challenges, with very limited time, are loads of fun and a great test for the chefs when immunity and other prizes are on the line. Not their show life. Unexpected twists are fun, and they add to the show’s difficulty and appeal, but they should not subtract from the core formula of the show. The person with the least votes should leave the tribe, or stop singing. The last team to the mat stops racing. The designer with the worst clothes stops designing. The chef, who after cooking for several hours, with the worst dish stops cooking.

That’s fair, and that’s what works. It’s just not very fair and I’m disappointed for Megan. Would I have been disappointed if it were Orlando? Well, maybe not as much, but I still think it would have been a BS twist.

Just Desserts added four chefs to the mix this season, up from the 10 last season. They did so without adding episodes, so double eliminations were needed. The first one was during the Real Housewife challenge, and the second this week. As much as I don’t really love the concept of the double elimination, I can live with it early in the season. Plus, the first one had the chefs leaving based on the longer Elimination Challenge. I say, stick with 10 chefs, add episodes, or figure out a better way of axing your chefs.

The second elimination came off of the head-to-head, three-on-three chocolate battle. Randomly, buddies Hammer and Matt got teamed with Katzie, while Mean Girl Macho and Mean Boy Orlando added Carlos. Hammer and Orlando were tasked with making the chocolate showpiece – isolated from view of the other team. Each chef had to make their own dish as well. Hammer decided to do it all himself, while Orlando wrote out his recipe for the other two to make for him. I thought Orlando was in trouble for that, but as it turned out it was his plan that was more effective.

As a result, Team Hammer wound up on the bottom. The judging twist was that old Top Chef standby- each team would cook for the judges and the opposing team. This gave chefs the option of – a) being honest, b) being respectful, or c) being super bitchy. Of course, almost all of them seemed to take choice c. Except Matt, who wanted to keep his mouth shut. Orlando was the biggest offender of choice c – to the surprise of no one.

Katzie took the brunt of the criticism from the other team, but based on the editing of previous episodes, it was hard to discern if it was legitimate critique or Katzie bashing. I hope it was the first, but I felt it was the second. Based on Judges Table, the criticism for Katzie seemed less severe than the boys, and yet she was the one who went home – seemingly for making the cake too big. I’ll miss the goofy giant – she had a great midseason run, but seemed to slow down the last couple of weeks. The youngest competitor held her own, but leaves just a few steps from the end.

And once again, Top Chef is in danger of continuing its sausage problem. Eight regular Top Chef seasons, three Masters and one previous Just Desserts has produced just one female champion. I am starting to wonder if the judges have a gender bias, or if the nature of high-class kitchens simply lends itself to male domination. I don’t want to think that the judges have this innate bias, I just think the industry in general is extra hard on women. Many people, me included, didn’t know how nutty these chefs were until these shows started to feature them. The really unexpected thing was the amount of unbridled testosterone which seems to permeate these kitchens. It has translated into the Top Chef results over time. It is up to Macho – someone I have a hard time rooting for – to join Steph as the only ones to break the glass ceiling.

Down to five chefs, there are two episodes left before the finale and the kickoff of Top Chef: Texas. I can really see any of the five winning at this point – unlike last year when Danielle and Zac just seemed outclassed by Yigit and Morgan. I am rooting for Matt – mainly because he is based in my region and I can taste his desserts if I wanted to.

Selfish, I know. But I do what I do.

Q and A with Scott Hallock and Tracy Morgan of Syfy’s “Scare Tactics”

It is that time of year to frighten, watch scary movies and scare the ever living crap out of people. Are you scared? “You shouldn’t be. You’re on Scare Tactics. It is the line many dread and some people get a kick out of, as hilarious actor and comedian Tracy Morgan (30 Rock” and Saturday Night Live) hosts and executive produces this outlandish Syfy version of Candid Camera. People are set up by their so-called loved ones with elaborate pranks and scary situations that involve everything from special effects to makeup.

These elaborate horror hoaxes are designed to tap into the fears of the unsuspected victims. In the season premiere there is a mist, a lab experiment and something with cryonics. A big mix-up happens, and a fellow lab member winds up trapping his colleague in the room with a “mist.”

What these people do not know is there is in an entire viewing audience watching at home as the hilarious Tracy Morgan does the introductions and hosts the show. During a recent conference call Tracy and Executive Producer Scott Hallock discussed what goes into scaring someone into oblivion and then wailing with laughter, Syfy style.

Scott Hallock discussed the serious process of “pranking” a family member or friend. The crew must first meet with the friend or family member to find out why they would want to do something so horrifying to their loved one. With Halloween just around the corner, and Syfy promoting the 31 Days of Halloween, it makes you wonder if people look for cameras to make certain the Scare Tactics crew isn’t preparing a prank.

Hallock maintains it is all about the back story of the person. When friends and family set someone up for a prank, they inform the crew of their fears, and their workplace is in on the surprise as well. The show usually starts out with people who are in on the scare doing something random at a job or outdoors. They never start out with a jump-off-the-sofa moment. That is saved for when you are very comfy and believe you are watching a great comedy show play out before the chaos ensues. Hallock assures that these people are not showing up blindly, but in fact going through the process of getting to know the crew and what is and is not appropriate for the show.

Much of the focus of the “scare” depends on what the person is into. If someone worships vampires, their episode will revolve around vampires. If they have a thing for aliens, they will land the mother ship and begin looking for members. If you fear spiders or snakes, the crew backs off a bit. They will not place anyone into a dangerous situation.

Hallock said he is frightened by Bigfoot, mainly because he grew up in the Northwest and heard a lot of noises in the woods. He is not fond of the unseen; it’s creepy to him. He brings his own fears to the show, but in a way that the audience can relate to. He offered the example of having a bad day at work and discovering that you will become the test subject for strange medication, with discomfort setting in then minutes later. Or, you could be at work and some type of strange reptile slithers across the office floor. That is what Scare Tactics is all about.

Tracy added that he is mainly afraid of the IRS. You can see where the perfect comic timing comes in and why he is the host. He makes the show even more believable by putting people at ease with his comic relief. No one would ever suspect so many things could go wrong having him involved with the project.

Scare Tactics is going full force and bringing everything and anything the mind may imagine. There are several new tactics that involve everything from “exploding heads to the rarest of them all, alien spores from outer space.”

There is a lot of extensive planning that goes into the show but the comedic aspect of it is what draws viewers in. Everyone is always looking for something different to watch, and Syfy provides it. The show takes on the unknown and adds comic relief.

Morgan said he could not think of a favorite prank off the top of his head. It is true shock value being provided, but “I don’t think I could pick just one.” He did decide that having a “devil baby” make an appearance was a rather interesting prank.

Hallock’s favorite prank involved Tracy’s premiere episode in which the mummy in the museum exhibit comes to life. He believes that Syfy assists with making us believe the unbelievable. He also referenced an episode in which they are shooting a horror film, and they began to kill off the people in the film.

The pranks may push the envelope, but not to the extent of hurting anyone or scaring the life out of someone. Hallock is not looking to scare the person to death but just provide them with a bit of a reminder that life is filled with adventures, Sometimes we are so busy living, we need to have some fun in life.

Morgan believes the show gives viewers something to laugh about. We live in such a serious world with so much going on, to be able to laugh is a relief for many of us. There will be a lot of great things happening on the show. A lot of comedy, some amazing scares, and some great tactics in which he gets to take part in this season.

Scare Tactics has had great ratings, and Morgan adds that extra kick to the show. There are so many levels for this show, but in reality it is all in good fun. At the end of the day, no one gets hurt, and that Bigfoot you thought you saw lurking around is probably an actor trying to find his trailer. So beware, Scare Tactics may be heading your way with all new pranks.

Don’t miss the season premiere of Scare Tactics on Monday, October 10 at 9/8c, on Syfy.

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Amazing Race 19 Commentary – Ep 2 – Don’t Dude Me, Dude.

Well, don’t let anyone ever tell you that The Amazing Race is fixed. Because if it were, there would be no chance that this week’s results would have been allowed. If Romber’s early departure from All-Stars didn’t prove the legitimacy of the Race, then the Episode 2 axing of the latest Survivor crossover should do the trick.

My only complaint this week was the randomness of the way it was done. As I said last week, I would have preferred for this week to be a traditional single elimination, with the surprise Week One non-elimination counting as a regular non-elim. Instead, the producers chose to make this week a double elimination, which I can now say after this episode of AR19, and the opener of AR10, doesn’t work. It really isn’t fair to eliminate a team who did not finish in last place. That’s the whole gimmick of the show – last to the Pit Stop, out of the Race. Ethan and Jenna become the first team in Race history to be eliminated despite having another team still on the course.

The other thing that was disappointing – not in concept, but in execution – was the twist that nailed eight of the 11 teams. I am not saying the twist eliminated the Survivors or Guido 2, in fact, based on the editing, without the twist both would have been the last two to arrive. I am saying that the twist definitely harmed the early teams, and perhaps if it was executed better, it could have saved the Survivors or Guido 2.

The twist was a mystery sign placed upon a table. As simple as that. The Detour led the Racers to basically solicit money – either as dancers or parking attendants – and after reaching a certain goal, head to an orphanage. They are told in the clue to give their money to the orphanage. However, there is a sign – with no Race colors or any way of them knowing it applied to them – telling them to give the orphanage all of their money.

I don’t think this is a bad idea – make them have to pay attention to detail not only on the clue but on the course. However, they need something to go on. At least make it Race colors to attract some attention. Instead it just appeared to be an innocuous sign which three teams randomly noticed. I think this was a missed chance for a good twist, and instead the Race wound up with chaos.

Ironically, the only ones to notice were the Dudes and Showgirls – a stoner team and the team that lost their passport in the first minutes of the Race – and Team Magellan. At least the explorers are not expected to get lost, because that never happens to explorers. In other news, happy early Columbus Day everyone!

Despite these faults, the crazy task led to one of the wilder episodes of the Amazing Race in memory. The one that comes to mind as a fair example was in AR3 when half of the teams failed to notice that they were supposed to use diesel fuel. Teams that thought they were behind wound up ahead and teams that thought they were screwed discovered that at least one other team screwed up worse than they did.

The early Roadblock was a perfect example of how the show tends to be awesome. In the challenge, one member had to descend into a cave, retrieve some crap and then scale a giant ladder. The images were breathtaking, and a piece of the world – a cave in Indonesia – that none of us will ever see in person, was right there in high def in our living rooms.

At that challenge, I officially began rooting for the Peytons. When Marcus started having a discussion with the tree in his way, he became a favorite of mine. I think I am also starting to warm to the Dudes and the Twins – for very, very different reasons. In addition, I cannot see how anyone watching could avoid being impressed by Geritol.

Granted, they were aided by an airport bunching – thus eliminating their 4 ½ hour deficit to the 10th place team from last week! They were also helped by a rather lame Speed Bump. It was more of a Speed Pebble. All they had to do was untangle a knotted rope, a la many a Survivor challenge. And the rope was right at the Roadblock. What impressed me about Geritol was how Bill put the younger contestants to shame on that giant ladder. The man has some serious upper body strength. Perhaps there’s more to them than meets the eye.

There will be a real challenge going forward for the show in making up for the loss of its high profile contestants – especially from casual fans of the show, many of who tuned in to see the Survivor winners compete. However, the Race survived the non-Rombering of All-Stars and the travesty of Danielle winning that season with her non-boyfriend. It can survive an early exit for Jenna and Ethan. Heck, they don’t even have a cool Romber sounding nickname. Jethan? Ethanna? Not so much.

X-Factor, Oct. 6 – From Skid Row to Here

So far, the X-Factor is seeming like a mix of American Idol and The Voice. They’re being put in ensembles to narrow down the finalists, yet after that, the judges will act as mentors to them. My only complaint is that some of the “chosen ones” don’t have “it,” and just have a good voice. Tonight we’ll see the last of the ensembles and find out who the final thirty-two are, and who their mentors will be.

The first ensemble up tonight is comprised of Brennin Hunt, Equality, Marcus Canty, Matthew Johnson, Ma’at Bingham Shango, Chris Rene, and Gina Rene. They’ll be singing What’s Going On to Marcus’ delight. Chris has now been sober for forty-nine days. Gina is also talented, but lacking confidence. They’re excited to perform together.

In front of the judges – Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A. Reid – the ensemble starts it off on the risers. Ma’at sings first, and Gina takes it over from there. This group is well-choreographed, and each sounds great. Paula mentions to Simon afterward how amazing it was. L.A. thinks Marcus was amazing, but Simon thinks he needs a lot of work. And he feels one of the girls just lost it, so it’s either Ma’at or Gina. 

The next ensemble includes Matthew Slovacek, Tim Cifers, Hannah Bethel, Thomas Wells, Jeremy Easley, and Kingston. They’re singing I Won’t Let Go, which Matthew figures is perfect. They work with the vocal coach who tells them not to wail just to wail, but to make him believe it. Tim has a 4-year-old son and 3-moth-old daughter and misses them like crazy, but it’s the biggest opportunity for him. Kingston just wants to hear they have what it takes. 

Onstage tonight, this ensemble brings out each act one by one instead of collectively. They sound great, with Thomas possibly being he weakest in the group. Either way, all of them know how to deliver a song emotionally. Simon sees Tim as the star of the bunch, even though he didn’t get him before. L.A. isn’t sure if he’s a star, but he knows he’s a great singer.

The last ensemble to perform includes The Brewer Boys, Henri Bredouw, James Douglas, Emma Henry, Hannah Jackson, Ryan Sims, Kyle Corr, and Christa Collins. The Brewer Boys don’t usually get nervous, but note this is pretty intense. They hope their unique sound takes them somewhere. Hannah and Emma both want the same part of the song and have to duke it out. Hannah thinks the part needs a more mature person, and in a coin flip, she gets it. 

The ensemble takes the stage, with Henri as leadoff man. Emma struggles to keep the tune. The Brewer Boys sound the best of the bunch, but Ryan truly belts this song out. Christa does admirably as well. 

The judges need to send a third of the acts home at this point. They start by discussing Tiah, who Simon wants to keep, but who Paula and Nicole disagree about. The Brewer Boys know most of their ensemble is probably going home, but they’re hoping for the best. Simon calls Siameze a no, and Paula disagrees. He explains they have to lose people. Nick Voss calls it heartbreaking if he goes home. Simon likes Chelsea Frederick’s energy, but L.A. says she can’t sing.

The contestants are broken down into three more groups, between yes or no. The first group called up is sent home. Nicole fights back tears watching them leave. Tatiana “Reina” Williams can’t believe it and starts loudly shouting about needing to talk to someone. Also going home is Emma Henry. 

The next group up to hear their fate has to be a “yes” group. There are too many talented people in the group, such as Chris Rene, Gina Rene, Siameze Floyd, and Tiah Olliver. Nicole addresses them and tells them they have made it to the next round. 

X-Factor, Oct. 5 – Looking for an All-Arounder

One of the best things about watching the X-Factor is that it’s all new. That’s the problem with watching American Idol, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, etc. We’ve seen it all before and know exactly what’s going to happen, save for a twist here and there. However, X-Factor is all new. We’re done with the auditions, Tonight is Boot Camp, and we have no idea what that entails. That’s exciting.

The contestants are split into four categories – the Boys, the Girls, the Over 30s, and the Groups. The judges then will be told which category they will be mentoring. All we see in the previews out of Los Angeles is everyone being choreographed, Simon Cowell getting pissed off, and Paula Abdul breaking down in tears. That looks interesting! Simon and Paula are joined on the judging panel by L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger. 

Marcus Canty, 20, a high school graduate from Bowie, Missouri, is getting jittery. 4Shore, ages 20-23, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, admit to being nervous, excited, and scared. Chris Rene, 28, a trash collector from Santa Cruz, California, calls it critical that he do better than anyone else there. Something that we didn’t know about him, is that his sister Gina Rene, 36, a stay-at-home mom, and also from Santa Cruz, auditioned and made it as well. She doesn’t know what’s coming, and that puts her on the edge. 

The judges face contestants with an appropriate pep talk, with Simon telling them it’s called Boot Camp for a reason. There are more professionals here to help the contestants – vocal coaches Claude Kelly and Savan Kotecha, stylist June Ambrose, and choreographer Brian Friedman, who many of us remember from the early years of So You Think You Can Dance

Brian leads everyone through a choreography session. Simon believes this could be everything, as the biggest star in the world was Michael Jackson. It wasn’t just about being a singer. If Beyonce was there, she’d be pushing her way to the front, trying to prove that she’s an “all-arounder.” Chris calls it frustrating, and it’s making him scared. Brian Bradley, 14, a student from Brooklyn, refuses to even participate. It’s not what he’s here for. 

Before the Boot Camp, each act was asked to prepare a song that showed they were worthy of this $5 million contract. They will be called to the front in groups of ten, and asked to perform individually. Only 162 will make it through. 

Up first is Siameze Floyd, 30, a hotel performer from Las Vegas. He sings More than a Feeling,. Also up is The Answer, ages 20-27, from Salt Lake City. They have great harmony, but Simon calls them very forgettable. Tiger Budbill, 42, a wedding DJ from Buthell, Washington, proves to Nicole he has some lungs. Caitlin Koch, 21, a rugby coach from Buffalo, takes it down a notch, Paula remarks that she has chills and loves her voice. Drew Ryniewicz, 14, a student from Chino Valley, Arizona, wows the judges like she did in her audition. 

Gina draws a smile from Paula, and Simon says without Rachel Crow, 13, a student from Boulder, Colorado, it would have been very boring, and asks Tora Woloshin, 22, a college student from Tucson, if she knows how frustrating it is that she chose to sing Soulmate when she could have chosen any song she wanted for $5 million. Marcus brings a smile from Paula as he dances, as does Brennin Hunt, 26, a graphic designer from Nashville, J Mark Inman, 31, a graduate student from Westboro, Massachusetts, sings Bennie and the Jets … badly. 

The Brewer Boys, 13 and 17 year old students from Temecula, California, have great harmony, and Brendan O’Hara, 30, a music instructor from Hollywood, Florida, seems to forget his lyrics. Chris gets Nicole rocking singing Sexual Healing, as she says the girls are going to love him. Melanie Amaro, 19, a college student from Sunrise, Florida, is just as impressive as her original audition. Stacy Francis, 42, a stay-at-home mom from L.A., has perhaps he longest note in the world, as Simon tells her less is more, and it was way over the top. 

It’s judgement time. They’re split into three groups like they do on American Idol, yet onstage, and not in separate rooms. Group one is told they should be proud of themselves. They make it through. It’s good news for Stacy. Group two are sent home, with one contestant begging for another shot. He’s rebuffed by Simon, only to have him track down the young guy afterwards to tell him to come back and try again. J Mark proves to be very unhinged as he jumps up and down screaming “I don’t have a life,” then falls to his knees in apparent sobs.  Group three is through. This includes Chris, Caitlin, and Tora. Groups one and three celebrate together. Simon and Paula watch as Gina and Chris search for each other, then hug, realizing they both made it. 

They all have a wild party, with some going to bed early, and others partying all night. It feels like a full show, but we’re only eighteen minutes into this 90-minute show. The next morning of Boot Camp, many of the partiers have overslept. They’re woken up and told they only have five minutes to get moving. 

What's Hot on TV Tonight – X-Factor Boot Camp Winds Up

20110928-054405.jpgWe’re moving ahead with X-Factor at full speed. After finishing up the auditions in two weeks, we’re finishing up Boot Camp tonight. Next week the contestants visit the judges’ homes, for a completely interesting twist. Catch up with other favorite shows you may have missed at TV-Links.

1. The View. Jon Huntsman and Mary Kaye, Scott and Joan Bolzan, and Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas from Dancing with the Stars are the guests today. 10:00 AM CT ABC

2. The Talk. The guests today include John Lithgow and Brandy, and Molly Shannon and Sheryl Underwood guest cohost. 1:00 PM CT CBS

3. The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Zooey Deschanel, Jacob Langdon, and Ricki Lake and Derek Hough are among the guests today. Syndicated, check local listings.

4. The Big Bang Theory. Penny introduces Raj to a woman, thinking they can communicate. 7:00 PM CT CBS

5. Community. The study group has difficulties figuring out how to pair off for a big biology assignment, and Chang daydreams of being in a noir detective mystery while he patrols the campus. 7:00 PM CT NBC

6. Charlie’s Angels. The Angels investigate the cruise ship disappearance of an investigative journalist, and Kate finds connections to her past. 7:00 PM CT ABC

7. The Vampire Diaries. Klaus looks for help from a with to find out why his plan isn’t working, Damon is pushed over the edge, and Caroline attempts to help Elena confront her feelings. 7:00 PM CT CW

8. The X-Factor. Night Two of Boot Camp. 7:00 PM CT Fox

9. MLB Playoffs. Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees. 7:00 PM CT TBS

10. How to Be a Gentleman. Andrew gets casual fling lessons from Bert, but struggles to follow through, and Diane helps Mike get ready for an interview to get his green card. 7:30 PM CT CBS

11. Parks and Recreation. Leslie goes on a book promotion tour, and Ann tries to get tighter with Ron and April. 7:30 PM CT NBC

12. Person of Interest. Reese goes undercover in a gang to get closer to a former Marine the machine tagged. 8:00 PM CT CBS

13. The Office The warehouse employees win big in the lottery, causing the office to fantasize about doing the same thing. Darryl and Andy look for new warehouse employees, after the other crew quits to enjoy their winnings. 8:00 PM CT NBC

14. Grey’s Anatomy. A comic book convention stampede elands to a slew of interesting characters in the ER, Mark keeps making life difficult for Jackson, and Ben comes back and comes to the realization that Bailey has moved on. 8:00 PM CT ABC

15. The Secret Circle. Cassie search out one of her mother’s old friends, Faye offers to come up with a spell to help Cassie, but wants something in return. 8:00 PM CT CW

16. The Millionaire Matchmaker. Patti looks to match up Ayinde Alakoye for the second time. 8:00 PM CT Bravo

17. Project Runway. The designers are challenged to create looks inspired by exotic birds. 8:00 PM CT Lifetime

18. America’s Ten Worst DIYers. Ten people, who should never again be allowed to hold a hammer, vie for the not-so-coveted title of “America’s Worst DIYer.” 8:00 PM CT DIY

19. College Football. California at Oregon. 8:00 PM CT ESPN

20. George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Part 2. Director Martin Scorsese traces Harrison’s life from his musical beginnings in Liverpool through his life as a musician, a seeker, a philanthropist and a filmmaker, weaving together interviews with Harrison and his closest friends, performances, home movies and photographs. Much of the material in the film has never been seen or heard before. The result is a rare glimpse into the mind and soul of one of the most talented artists of his generation and a profoundly intimate and affecting work of cinema. 8:00 PM CT HBO

21. Whitney Whitney notices Alex looking at an attractive woman, but he won’t admit it, and Roxanne works on making her ex jealous. 8:30 PM CT NBC

22. The Mentalist. A former client off Jane’s wants his help when her son is kidnapped, but he doesn’t get along with his friend’s new spiritual adviser 9:00 PM CT CBS

23. Prime Suspect. Jane is without her gun at her dad’s bar, but confronted by a robber. A dead woman turns up in a dumpster, and Caroline tries to make friends with Jane, but is rebuffed. 9:00 PM CT NBC

24. Private Practice. The Oceanside Wellness doctors don’t understand why Addison is reluctant to hire Jake Reilly to replace Naomi, and cooper ignores the law trying to help a young patient. 9:00 PM CT ABC

25. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Sweet Dee tries to find a way out of an IRS audit, and the gang begins a new democratic voting system. 9:00 PM CT FX

26. The Joy Behar Show. Jane Pratt, Christian Finnegan, and Jackie Glass are the guests tonight. 9:00 PM CT HLN

27. Jersey Shore. The guys head to Sicily to vista Vinny’s family, the ladies on a wine tour in Tuscany, and Snooki finds out the truth. 9:00 PM CT MTV

28. The League. Ruxin’s reign continues while the guys create a plan with Rafi and Dirty Randy for the final Sacko punishment for Andre. 9:30 PM CT FX

29. After the Runway. An interview with this week’s eliminated contestant. 9:30 PM CT Lifetime

30. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The guests tonight include Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Aubrey Plaza, and Blondie. 10:35 PM CT NBC

What's Hot on TV Tonight – X-Factor Boot Camp

20110928-054405.jpgUnlike American Idol, the auditions for X-Factor aren’t going to roll out forever. After tonight, we’re done with them, after just four nights and eight cities. Next week starts what they call “Boot Camp.” I’m assuming it’s comparable to Hollywood week. Catch up with other favorite shows you may have missed at TV-Links.

1. The View. Benjamin Bratt and Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy from Dancing with the Stars are the guests today. 10:00 AM CT ABC

2. The Talk. The guests today include Amy Brenneman, Ricky Paull Golden, and Kris Jenner, Aisha Tyler, and Sheryl Underwood guest cohost. 1:00 PM CT CBS

3. The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Heidi Klum, Nancy Pelosi, and LeAnn Rimes are among the guests today. Syndicated, check local listings.

4. The Big Bang Theory. Amy and Leonard try to get to know each other better, and Bernadette, Howard, and Mrs. Wolowitz share their weekend. 7:00 PM CT CBS

5. Community. Chang adjusts to his new job, Britta’s friend is taken hostage in a foreign country, Annie wants the group to help her take down a new friend, and Professor Cligoris has difficulties behaving properly. 7:00 PM CT NBC

6. Charlie’s Angels. The Angels look into a model’s disappearance by infiltrating the fashion world, and Kate’s ex gets involved. 7:00 PM CT ABC

7. The Vampire Diaries. Klaus and Stefan meet up with someone from their past in Chicago, Damon and Elena look into Klaus and Stefans’ whereabouts, and Tyler discusses Caroline with Sheriff Forbes 7:00 PM CT CW

8. The X-Factor. Night Four of the audition process. 7:00 PM CT Fox

9. College Football. South Florida at Pittsburgh. 7:00 PM CT ESPN

11. Crude. A documentary showing a look at one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet – the $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case – as it led to the subpoena of Joe Berlinger’s footage, despite support from the International Documentary Association and other notable filmmakers. 7:00 PM CT Sundance Channel

10. How to Be a Gentleman. Series Premiere. A fussy columnist is ordered to adapt to the the new modern, sexy style that the magazine is going in, and he looks for help from his former high school bully. 7:30 PM CT CBS

11. Parks and Recreation. Ron’s first wife comes back into his life and starts with the controlling, causing Leslie to get involved. Ben gets help from Tom with the new company, and Ann and Chris make a PSA. 7:30 PM CT NBC

12. Person of Interest. Reese and Fince get asked to investigate a teen killing from years ago, causing them to question the machine’s reliability, and Finch remembers the machine’s origin. 8:00 PM CT CBS

13. The Office Robert gives the office a challenge, to double their sales. Pam makes friends with a pregnant woman. 8:00 PM CT NBC

14. Grey’s Anatomy. Everyone at Seattle Grace is shocked by the chief’s decision, Owen and Cristina try to find normalcy, April struggles with her new position, and the five-year residents get their first assignments for first solo surgery. 8:00 PM CT ABC

15. The Secret Circle. A cute jock asks Cassie to the dance, Melissa works on getting closer to Nick, Faye tries to control her powers, and a man from Dawn’s past arrives in town asking about the Circle. 8:00 PM CT CW

16. The Millionaire Matchmaker. Patti looks to match up self-help gurus. 8:00 PM CT Bravo

17. Truck Stop Missouri. The weather has turned cooler in Missouri, and some strange events have the Midway staff spooked. Joe and Ben make a chilling discovery when they unlock an abandoned storage unit and find a stash of black magic supplies. Julie and Joe are caught off guard when a group of civil war re-enactors begin firing muskets in the parking lot. Zombies get blown away with paintball guns. And Joe meets with a group of ghost hunters to discuss the paranormal activity, taking place in one of his motel rooms. 8:00 PM CT Travel Channel

18. Home Takeover with Simon and Tomas. In the first hour, Western living room is transformed into something more sophisticated. In the second hour, a firefighter wants to get rid of the childish decor in his wife’s. 8:00 PM CT OWN

19. Project Runway. The designers are challenged with making designs inspired by the ’70s. 8:00 PM CT Lifetime

20. Whitney Whitney and Alex recreate the first day they never had. 8:30 PM CT NBC

21. The Mentalist. A reinstated JAne works with a new team investigating a personal trainer’s murder, but tries to reunite with his former team. 9:00 PM CT CBS

22. Prime Suspect. Jane joins Duffy’s investigation on a homicide/kidnapping, and also meets Matt’s son. 9:00 PM CT NBC

23. Private Practice. Cooper, Sam, Amelia, and Charlotte work on Pete following his heart attack, Addison’s desire to be a mom brings her to a surprising encounter, and Sheldon wants to help Amelia with her alcoholism. 9:00 PM CT ABC

24. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Frank winds up in the child pageantry business, Dee wants revenge on stage moms, and Mac, Dennis, and Charlie believe they found a dark horse. 9:00 PM CT FX

25. Jersey Shore. Deena is worried she’s pregnant, and after a fight with Jionni, Snooki is devastated. 9:00 PM CT MTV

26. Archer. Archer and others try a prison escape, and Malory plays hardball for Archer’s ransom. 9:30 PM CT FX

27. Conan. Patton Oswalt, Ruth England and Mykel Hawke, and The Man are tonight’s guests. 10:00 PM CT TBS

29. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The guests tonight include Albert Brooks, Chaz Bono, and TV on the Radio. 10:35 PM CT NBC

What's Hot on TV Tonight – NFL Week on Biggest Loser

It’s Tuesday, but football isn’t done for the week until Sunday. The Biggest Loser gets help this week from the NFL. Drew Brees pays a visit to the Ranch and is joined by other football greats as well. Catch up with all the TV you may have missed at TV-Links.

1. Live with Regis and Kelly. The guests today are Hugh Jackman, Kaley Cuoco, and Scotty McCreery. Syndicated, check local listings.

2. The Time Traveler’s Wife. A man who travel’s through time not of his own free will starts a relationship with a young woman, but it proves difficult. Stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. 10:15 AM CT HBO2

3. MLB Playoffs American League Divisional playoff between Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. 1:00 PM CT TBS

4. About Schmidt This movie is both sad and funny at the same time. Jack Nicholson plays an elderly man who is devastated when his wife dies suddenly just as he is retiring and getting ready to spend the rest of his life with the love of his life. 2:10 PM CT Starz

5. The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The guests today include Kellie Pickler and Joel McHale. Syndicated, check local listings.

6. MLB Playoffs National League Divisional playoff between St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. 4:00 PM CT TBS

7. Disaster DIY. Do-it-yourselfers who have failed at their own home renovations and are in desperate need of some on-the-job training! Host and contractor Bryan Baeumler arrives to save a family from a renovation disaster and teach the DIY-er the safe and proper way to fix his or her mistakes. 4:00 PM CT DIY

8. NCIS. NCIS finds a connection between McGee’s grandma and a murdered Navy lieutenant. 7:00 PM CT CBS

9. The Biggest Loser. The contestants are joined on the Ranch by Drew Brees and other football stars for NFL week. 7:00 PM CT NBC

10. Dancing with the Stars. In the first hour, it’s an encore performance, and in the second hour, another couple heads home. 7:00 PM CT ABC

11. 90210. Navid surprises Dixon with studio time, as he fees pressure to create a hit. Naomi gets forced to look to Austin for scheming help, and Silver attempts directing a commercial for Liam’s bar. 7:00 PM CT CW

12. Glee. Emma’s parents visit, while Mike Chang’s parents get involved in his school when his grades don’t meed up with their expectations. 7:00 PM CT Fox

13. MLB Playoffs American League Divisional playoff between New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers. 7:30 PM CT TBS

14. Made in America. Hosted by George Motz, the 13-episode series investigates all the wonderful and wacky things that are made within our borders. 7:00 PM CT Travel Channel

15. 10 Best Kitchen Projects. DIY Network experts are counting down the 10 all-time best kitchen projects that add luxury, value and storage. From the latest in technology to the smartest single-day projects, from countertops to cabinets, we’ll show you the absolute best ways to update your kitchens. 7:30 PM CT DIY

16. NCIS: Los Angeles. Sam works undercover as a bomb specialist to help find stolen explosives, and team dynamics change because of Hunter. 8:00 PM CT CBS

17. Ringer. As Siobhan, Bridget travels to the Hamptons with Andrew, Henry, and Gemma. Henry has plans to rekindle his romance with Siobhan, and Gemma gets unsettling news. 8:00 PM CT CW

18. New Girl. Nick has worries of running into his ex at a wedding, so asks Jess to be his date. Winston becomes competitive on the dance floor, and a beautiful woman and a frenemy take interest in Schmidt. 8:00 PM CT Fox

19. Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Gene gets an answer from Shannon regarding his marriage proposal. 8:00 PM CT A&E

20. The Rachel Zoe Project. As Rachel’s pregnancy moves further along, she still won’t slow down to keep herself healthy. Roger and Rachel’s sister are concerned when Rachel comes down with a bad cold, yet is still rushing around prepping for the upcoming Oscars. 8:00 PM CT Bravo

21. Viking Wilderness. In the first hour, animals fight the elements and each other in Scandinavia. In the second hours, a look at the long winters in Scandanavia. 8:00 PM CT Animal Planet

22. Mysteries at the Museum. Featuring Chang and Eng – the original Siamese twins, a deadly umbrella used by a Russian spy, and the haunted jail cell of mobster Al Capone. 8:00 PM CT Travel Channel

13. Downsized. To ease her stress about the expenses incurred from braces, car repairs and driving to school for the kids, Laura decides to talk to Todd about selling her wedding ring and Todd immediately shuts her down. But when he gets swindled by a transmission company, Todd makes a rash decision that leaves Laura shocked and their emergency fund depleted. Meanwhile, Bailey’s first date with a new-guy leaves a bad taste in Todd’s mouth. 8:00 PM CT WE

24. Raising Hope. A man wo once kidnapped Burt visits, as perspective of the 20-year-old incident changes. Jimmy makes Sabrina uncomfortable. 8:30 PM CT Fox

25. MLB Playoffs National League Divisional playoff between Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks. 8:30 PM CT TNT

26. Unforgettable. A hotel maid is accused of murder, but says it was rape defense; Carrie tries to get to the bottom of it. 9:00 PM CT CBS

27. Parenthood. Zeek gets an acting gig, Sarah and Mark take their friendship further, Haddie and Alex grow distant with each ot
her, Crosby and Adam don’t agree, and Drew’s first date doesn’t go so well. 9:00 PM CT NBC

28. Body of Proof. After a nanny is killed by a hit-and-run, her 5-year-old charged is kidnapped, and an interrogation gets out of hand. 9:00 PM CT ABC

29. Sons of Anarchy. SAMCRO looks for help from an ex-nemesis in stopping the Charming Heights advancement, and the Sheriff wants info from Juice. 9:00 PM CT FX

30. Mad Fashion. Series Premiere. Chris March knows fashion, and he knows how to make it MAD! With a wild and dedicated team, Chris puts together the wackiest and most out-of-this-world costumes for special clients. March’s first client, Ruthie is a shoe designer in need of an outfit for an upcoming party. 9:00 PM CT Bravo

31. The Joy Behar Show. The guests tonight Lewis Black and Cameron Mathison. 9:00 PM CT HLN

32. The Little Couple. In the first half hour, Bill and Jen travel to Florida to meet a new member of the family, which reinforces their desire to have a baby of their own. In the second half hour, Jen’s mom helps pack up the rental house, and an interior designer shows Bill and Jen his designs for the new home. 9:00 PM CT TLC

33. Off Limits. Host Don Wildman explores the lesser-known islands off Manhattan, the forgotten staging grounds for the city’s strange and hidden past. 9:00 PM CT Travel Channel

34. Top Shot. One contestant struggles to complete a challenge and has a meltdown, and two others fancy a WWII handgun duel. 9:00 PM CT History

35. I Hate My Kitchen. Love your house without the kitchen? Join the club. This series gives homeowners hope with economical yet clever kitchen design ideas using amazing new products and cool tools. Forget about it costing a huge chunk of an annual salary to renovate your kitchen. They tear up real homeowners’ lives and their kitchens, showcasing along the way impactful alternatives that don’t require loans, demolition or divorce. 9:00 PM CT DIY

36. Teen Mom. The cast members have a reunion. 9:00 PM CT MTV

37. Fashion Hunters. Series Premiere. Everybody loves a bargain, especially when it is for high end fashion items, and that is exactly what the fashionistas at the NYC-based consignment shop Second Time Around are after! Whether it is a beautiful designer gown, or a frock straight from J. Lo’s closet, the experts at Second Time Around know how to find a new home for it. There is no telling who is going to come through the door, or what they will be looking to buy or sell—don’t miss out, as the team tries to sort through what is real, and what is fake! 9:30 PM CT Bravo

38. I Hate My Bath. Love your house, but not the bathroom? Join the club. This series gives homeowners hope with economical yet clever bathroom design ideas using amazing new products and cool tools. Forget about it costing a huge chunk of an annual salary to renovate your bathroom. They tear up real homeowners’ lives and their bathrooms, showcasing along the way impactful alternatives that don’t require loans, demolition or divorce. 9:30 PM CT DIY

39. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Tonight’s guests include Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, Kenny Wormald, and Leann Rimes. 10:35 PM CT NBC