What’s Hot on TV Friday and Saturday – Matchmaker Santa

The Hallmark Channel is going to make sure we're aware that Christmas is coming whether we like it or not. Tonight is Matchmaker Santa costarring Lacey Chabert, Florence Henderson, and John Ratzenberger. Catch up with your favorite shows you may have missed at TV-Links.

Friday

1. NBA Basketball. Utah Jazz at Philadelphia 76ers. 6:00 PM CT ESPN

2. Undercover Boss. The president of Cinnabon INc. goes undercover in her own company. 7:00 PM CT CBS

3. Last Man Standing. A neighborhood car is egged, and Mike and Vanessa won't let Eva quit soccer, so she gets drunk at a party. 7:00 PM CT ABC

4. America's Next Top Model. Season finale. In the first hour, Kelly mentors the aspiring models, the eliminated finalists make an appearance, and the winner is chosen. In the second hour, behind the scenes. 7:00 PM CT CW

5. Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsey tries to help the owners of Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine in Pennsylvania turn the restaurant around. 7:00 PM CT Fox

6. Monsters Inside Me. An expectant young mom in a coma gets a sudden infection, and a Texas woman finds out her lungs are filled with parasitic worms. 7:00 PM CT Animal Planet

7. Malibu Country. Reba is insulter that Mr. Bata wants a rapper to record one of her songs, Lillie Mae finds she has a secret admirer, and Cash attempts to hide his accent. 7:30 PM CT ABC

8. CSI: NY. An elite prep school student is murdered, and Lindsay visits her dad in Montana to face past issues. 8:00 PM CT CBS

9. Grimm. Adalind avenges her mom's death and wreaks havoc, Capt. Renard's obsession escalates, and Monroe gets a surprise visit. 8:00 PM CT NBC

10. Shark Tank. Business ideas include an energy and nutritional supplement designed and tested by the military, a new way to shop for bridal wear, and a wine-tasting cruise. 8:00 PM CT ABC

11. Fringe. The teach orchestrates its own event. 8:00 PM CT Fox

12. Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. In the first half hour, a competition for the Maid of Honor duties, a bride has a groomsmaid, and a bride considers changing the color of the dresses during fittings. In the second half hour, the bride's bossy older sister and her fiancé team up against her choosing college colors she hates, and another bride has a huge wish list for her second wedding. 8:00 PM CT TLC

13. Raised Wild. An anthropologist investigates a rumor of a boy being raised by monkeys in Africa. 8:00 PM CT Animal Planet

14. Ghost Adventures. Zak, Nick & Aaron travel to the Tor House, former home to American poet, Robinson Jeffers, who predicted he would talk to the living 50 years after his death. The guys watch in awe as they glimpse a misty figure by the tower. 8:00 PM CT Travel Channel

15. NBA Basketball. New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies. 8:300 PM CT ESPN

16. We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston. Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Yolanda Adams, and CeCe Winans perform during this tribute. 9:00 PM CT CBS

17. Dateline NBC. Christina Aguilera, Lauren Scruggs, and Kelly Rutherford are interviewed. 9:00 PM CT NBC

18. 20/20. Stories tonight include misleading foods, restaurant kitchen secrets, airplane food, testing for germs in restaurants, and comparing pricey foods to less expensive options. 9:00 PM CT ABC

19. Haven After Duke sets out to investigate a name he found in his grandfather’s journal, he’s transported back in time to 1955. 9:00 PM CT Syfy

20. Brides of Beverly Hills. In the first half hour, Rachel Reilly comes back to help her sister find a wedding dress, and it's a stressful situation when a bride and her mom get engaged at the same time. In the second half hour, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator gets the perfect dress, a devout Pentecostal virgin bride, and Renee is thrown for a loop by her final bride appointment. 9:00 PM CT TLC

21. Real Time with Bill Maher. Panelists include David Frum, Michael Moore, Ana Navarro, and Eric Idle. 9:00 PM CT HBO

22. Hunted. Sam wakes up in the hospital to see someone familiar who promises to be an ally. 9:00 PM CT Cinemax

23. Late Show with David Letterman. The guests tonight are Dr. Phil McGraw, Carmen Lynch, and Divine Fits. 10:35 PM CT CBS

Saturday

1. College Football. Kent State at Bowling Green. 11:00 AM CT ABC

2. College Football. Iowa at Michicgan. 11:00 AM CT ESPN

3. College Football. Northwestern at Michigan State. 11:00 AM CT ESPN 2

4. College Football. Washington at Colorado. 12:30 PM CT FX

5. College Football. USC at UCLA. 2:00 PM CT Fox

6. College Football. Mississippi at LSU. 2:30 PM CT CBS

7. College Football. Wake Forest at Notre Dame. 2:30 PM CT NBC

8. College Football. Ohio State at Wisconsin. 2:30 PM CT ABC

9. NASCAR Racing: Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, FL. 3:30 PM CT ESPN

10. College Football. Oklahoma at West Virginia. 6:00 PM CT Fox

11. College Football. Tennessee at Vanderbilt. 6:00 PM CT ESPN 2

12. College Football. Stanford at Oregon. 7:00 PM CT ABC

13. Matchmaker Santa. Melanie, a young baker with a long-standing childhood Christmas wish of finding her true love, is excited about visiting her boyfriend’s lake house over the holidays. But when a mysterious mall Santa interferes and her travel plans get mixed up, she finds herself stranded in a charming town with her boyfriend’s handsome assistant and a quirky cast of locals. 7:00 PM CT Hallmark

14. College Football. Kansas State at Baylor. 7:00 PM CT ESPN

15. 48 Hours. In the first hour, mothers working as private investigators. In the second hour, a look at twenty women over the past forty years who have gone missing or been murdered on a highway. 8:00 PM CT CBS

16. Welcome to Sweetie Pie's. Upper Crust gets ready for crowds, Ike, Pops, and the others beg for their jobs, Jenae makes the decision to move without Tim, and Charles tries to be a fisherman. 8:00 PM CT OWN

17. 48 Hours: Hard Evidence. In the first hour, police get a top in the case of a young mother who was fatally beat while she slept at home. In the second hour, the case of a woman who shot and killed her husband and claim self defense finds ends after two trials 8:00 PM CT TLC

18. Tanked. A treasure-chest tank for a Detroit children's hospital, new roles for Heath and Agnes, and a homey tank for a leasing company. 8:00 PM CT TLC

19. My Fair Wedding: Unveiled. In a special look-back episode, David takes us back to his most memorable brides and most mismatched couples. 8:00 PM CT WE

20. John Carter. A war-weary human captain gets transported to Mars and stuck in an epic conflict with the native beings of the planet. 8:00 PM CT Starz

21. Wedding Band. The band draws the attention of a popular sci-fi actress when they play ComiCon. 9:00 PM CT TBS

22. Iyanla, Fix My Life. The guys is an actress struggled with addiction and was publicly humiliated 9:00 PM CT OWN

23. College Football. BYU at Washington State. 9:30 PM CT ESPN 2

24. Saturday Night Live. Jeremy Renner hosts, and Maroon 5 are the musical guest. 9:30 PM CT NBC

 

Survivor: Philippines – Episode 9 – I’m Like A Storyteller

Clap. Clap. Clap.

This season just keeps on delivering. It is not going out on a limb to call this the best Survivor season in the last few cycles – probably the best since Heroes vs. Villains, and perhaps better that that season. I am close to saying that barring a fizzled out ending, this season is well on its way to Top 5 overall and perhaps better.

Why is it so good? Just like every season it comes down to casting – and this season has hit a home run. The stunt casting has been stellar – Penner, Scoopin’, Kent and Blair all have been solid to great players. Even Swan provided entertainment, albeit unintentionally. The new players have brought some character and good game play – think Malcolm, Denise, RC, Abinormal, PBP. And don’t forget Angie’s…um…contributions to our TV viewing. Even dudes who have advanced far, like Carter and Artis, cannot bring the show down.

I would like very much for more three tribe seasons. This dynamic is a good one and Survivor has a reputation over the years of tinkering with the formula and keeping what works (hidden idols), and discarding the mistakes (Medallion of Power). The wild card of Denise/Malcolm on the merge has added some spice this season. However, the better ingredient is one that is hard to factor in – the willingness for tribal allegiances to shift.
Think about where we are after the seismic shift in power this week. We have a Final 8 with no real power alliance which can safely run the table. None. The PBP alliance is shattered – it is now only a duo of PBP/Abinormal. And I am positive that is not sealed – both of them would bolt on the other in a heartbeat. The only truly solid one is Malcolm/Denise. Scoopin’/Blair is another decent bond – but the vote split from the two of them this week needs some explanation. And then there are the Kalabaw survivors – Penner and Carter. Are either bound to each other? Not that we have seen before – Carter was more Kent’s guy.

In theory, we could have four duos vying for power. There could be mad scrambles for combinations before each remaining Tribal Council. Truly incredible to see how after 25 seasons, the dynamic can be unique. The closest season to this full-on free-for-all that I can think of was the Amazon way back in Season 6. Alliances rose and fell that season seemingly each week. The next five cuts this season could be similar.

Survivor has never won the Emmy for Best Reality Series – heck, the Amazing Race has won almost all of them (one for Top Chef) – and in fact, has not even been nominated in recent years. This season deserves consideration – specifically this episode, or last week’s episode. There is one scene this week which I think should go down in the archives of classic Survivor scenes. The beach therapy session between Blair and Penner.

After the insane Tribal Council, Blair seems to be getting push back from her Tandang allies. This is weird, because if memory serves, she basically scrambled together votes at the last minute to save the Tandang alliance. She tried to flush Malcolm’s idol, and her tribe failed to believe her or go along with her. She suggested Plan B out in the open – cobbling together the vote victory and confusing Penner in the process. She has been nothing but a loyal vote despite being treated like crap by her alliance. Penner being the Survivor vet that he is – and having played a very intriguing season back on Cook Islands – knows that the Tandang alliance was ready to crumble. He just needed to find the right bricks to pull – ironically, he pulled them, but a different section collapsed.

He and Blair came to the beach and he began to work on her like a master. He read her because he understood show business. Blair was a child star – she’s been an actress her whole life, even if she wasn’t working as one. Part of the actress persona is one where you seek to entertain, to gain approval from smiles, applause and attention. As a child star, you are put into the strange position of potentially out-earning your parents and becoming a professional at the same age most kids are just being kids. Penner is an actor/writer – and he knows that. He tells her he knows she has always been a pleaser, and been worried her whole life about whether she is pretty enough, or gained too much weight. She stares at him with tears going down her cheeks and just mutters, “How do you know this?” Penner smiles and says, “Because it’s my business too.”

Seriously, it’s like dialogue from a Kate Hudson movie. Well played, Penner. Is he manipulating her? Yes. Is it game play? Absolutely. Does he mean every word he said to her? I think so.