What’s Hot on TV Tonight – The Amazing Race Final 4

The final four teams on The Amazing Race travel through Spain tonight leading up to the season finale next week. I could handle just about any team winning save for the twins. They're due for some bad karma to catch up to them after taking the money of the rockers a few weeks back. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Catch up on your other favorite shows at TV-Links.

1. NFL Football. Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears. 12:00 PM CT Fox

2. Golf. FinalRound of World Challenge from Thousand Oaks, CA. 12:00 PM CT NBC

3. NFL Football. Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens. 3:00 PM CT CBS

4. America's Funniest Home Videos. Videos include wet willies, names that sound like, a bear breaking into a parked car, and “too far, too short, just right.” 6:00 PM CT ABC

5. 60 Minutes. The covered stories include a hospital chain pressuring doctors to admit patients, an interview with Shin Dong Hyuk, and an interview with Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. 6:30 PM CT CBS

6. The Cleveland Show. Cleveland realizes he has to keep his vasectomy a secret when Donna declares she wants another baby, and Rallo gets the lead in a community production of Annie. 6:30 PM CT Fox

7. Once Upon a Time. Hook and Cora are up against Emma and Mary Margaret as they race for the compass, and Mr. Gold and Regina plan to eliminate anyone entering the portal. 7:00 PM CT ABC

8. The Christmas Heart. The neighbors on Arthur Avenue have proudly lit Christmas luminaries for 40 years, but that long-standing tradition is cancelled this year when Matt, a teenage boy in the neighborhood is hospitalized in desperate need of a heart transplant. As his parents anxiously pray by his bedside, a donor is found, while a Detroit mother is in anguish at her own son’s bedside. The neighborhood lights the luminaries in honor of Matt and his family and are surprised to find it to be the miracle that save’s Matt’s life. 7:00 PM CT Hallmark Channel

9. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It's the live version of the story with Jim Carrey, which is no doubt really good, it doesn't quite have the same magic as the original cartoon. 7:00 PM CT ABC

10. Big Rich Texas. When the ladies arrive in New Orleans for Leslie's bachelorette party, she's missing, and Booger wants Bonnie and Jason's blessing 7:00 PM CT Style

11. NFL Football. Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys. 7:15 PM CT NBC

12. The Amazing Race. The teams travel to Spain and video the practice courts of Rafael Nadal, and one team has a bloody Detour. 7:30 PM CT CBS

13. Bob's Burgers. Tina wrecks the car and gets the family involved with a questionable insurance agent, then worries she's a jinx. 7:30 PM CT Fox

14. Revenge. Nolan has to deal with a skeleton in his closet, Daniel's role is challenged, and Carl's christening gives Jack and Declan new concerns. 8:00 PM CT ABC

15. Oprah's Next Chapter. Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field are the guests. 8:00 PM CT OWN

16. The Real Housewives of Atlanta. The ladies meet for brunch to plan their trip to Anguilla, but Kim’s friendship is questioned when she backs out to spend time with Kroy. NeNe is tired of her excuses and things get ugly when Kim asks them to change their travel plans. Later on, jealousy in in the air when Kenya and Phaedra go on a double date with their men, but the only problem is… Kenya has the hots for Phaedra’s new boy toy! 8:00 PM CT Bravo

17. Sister Wives. The Brown family plans a beach vacation with their polygamist friends. 8:00 PM CT TLC

18. Finding Bigfoot: Further Evidence. The team heads to Indiana to look at daylight footage of an alleged sighting. 8:00 PM CT Animal Planet

19. Sturgis. The world’s biggest biker rally is back – the 72nd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota with a three-episode special. 8:00 PM Travel Channel

20. Snapped. A tragedy results from a clash between a college basketball player and her roommate. 8:00 PM CT Oxygen

21. Glam Fairy. Sharie is upset when Jessica is named the new salon manager, Victoria confronts Lisa, and Alexa gets grilled by her in-laws. 8:00 PM CT Style

22. The Walking Dead. The people of Woodbury get thrown into uncharted territory and Andrea steps up. A new threat comes up at the prison. 8:00 PM CT AMC

23. Boardwalk Empire. Season finale. Nucky and Rothstein make a deal, Harrow makes a return to Gillian's brothel, after being arrested, Luciano has to take on a new partner, Chalky and Capone go up against Masseria's men, and Margaret makes a decision to end on relationship and start back up with another . 8:00 PM CT HBO

24. Dexter. Hannah's dad visits, the Phantom Arsonist comes even more gruesome crimes, and LaGuerta helps help from Matthews with the Bay Harbor Butcher case. 8:00 PM CT Showtime

25. The Good Wife. Will defends an accused murderer, as Alicia tries to help out assisting a prosecutor in another county is trying a different man for the same crime, the Justice Department leans on Eli, and Nick forces Kalinda's hand. 8:30 PM CT CBS

26. American Dad. Stand doesn't think Snot is cool enough to be Steve's best friend and tries to keep them separated by staging a shooting at an ice cream parlor. 8:30 PM CT Fox

27. 666 Park Avenue. Jane is hypnotized by Maris Elder and sent back in time, Henry thinks about a city council run, and Sasha's identity is revealed. Whoopi Goldberg guest stars. 9:00 PM CT ABC

28. Ice Loves Coco. At ComiCon, Coco dresses up like a superhero, and Ice tires a scared straight approach with Little Ice. 9:00 PM CT E!

29. Shahs of Sunset. Season Premiere. It's the return of everyone’s favorite Persians as they hit the streets of Los Angeles in lavish form. This season, Reza finds himself in a full blown “gaylife crisis” and reevaluates everything from his affection for his boyfriend to his lifelong resentment towards his grandmother. Joining the already flavorful cast is Lilly, a successful and beautiful business women seems to have it all. 9:00 PM CT Bravo

30. Finding Bigfoot. Reports from the Sierras bring multiple sightings, and the team hopes the Bigfoots will be attracted to a past relic. 9:00 PM CT Animal Planet

31. Homeland. Saul and an old friend catch up, and Brody and Walden can't agree. 9:00 PM CT Showtime

Survivor: Philippines – Episode 11 – Hell Hath Frozen Over

I will start with an apology to Abinormal. Well, a partial one. My theme last week was speculating if she was the worst Survivor ever – essentially arguing that not only has she alienated everyone, had zero sense of reality on how she was being perceived, but through her actions she actually made her position of power worse and worse as the game progressed. Well, this week, Abinormal had a good episode. Not perfect, but she did well.

First thing she did well – she saved her auction money. Abinormal had passed the point of being attractive to the others in an I’ll-beat-her-in-the-Finals way. She knew that her survival would come with an immunity win – and she’s been awful in challenges this season. Last week, she couldn’t even figure out how to compete in the challenge. So, as they filed into the Auction, she decided to hold her money and wait for the advantage (now, I must add, I am not entirely sure she knew the advantage was coming and just lucked out, but let’s assume she knew about it). And she got it. Shame on the other Survivors – especially the returning players – for not knowing or caring about the advantage.

I present the example of one Danni Boatwright. Way back in Survivor 11, Danni was a lone wolf, a woman without an alliance when she purchased the first immunity advantage clue in the Survivor Auction. That group had an excuse for failing to stop her – it had never happened before. She won the hint, it enabled her to win immunity and avoid elimination. She managed to drive a wedge into the power alliance, and lo and behold…she walked away a millionaire. THAT’s why you always prepare to block that hint from getting in the hands of the lone wolf.
But this group failed to do this and as a result, they had to eat one of their own. And man, why did it have to be Penner? Well, actually, I know why. It’s because he forgot for a moment to play Survivor. That moment last week was huge. When Blair and Scoopin’ decided they’d rather be in a Final Four with Penner and Carter, instead of Malcolm and Denise, they brought the idea to Jonathan. For some reason he failed to say yes, thrusting them into the arms of the former Matsing duo. We talked about it last week, but it sure begs repeating now. Penner was looking ahead at the Final Six and at jury votes. He forgot there was still a couple of stages left to play.

As a result, when Abinormal won immunity, it was time for the Final Four alliance to kick in. Malcolm and Denise called in that chip with Scoopin’ and Blair, and it became official. Penner was doomed. Blair actually gave him warning, and called him out on the failure to take the deal. He was stunned that he was going home, but he had a few hours to make something happen. Malcolm and Denise just outplayed the vet.

Penner had a good plan but he needed either Scoopin’ or Blair to flip his way. That was not going to be easy. He did give them a fantastic and accurate reason to go his way – They have locked themselves into an alliance that provides them little to no chance of winning the big prize. As Penner said, by voting him out they are handing the cash to either an out of work bartender or a Midwestern sex therapist. Think about it – would any of the old Tandang vote for them? Would Penner or the now doomed Carter go for them now? If Denise or Malcolm it the Finals solo, it could be another Earl or JT kind of blowout. If together, we could see a Cook Islands kind of close vote. Either way, Penner was right. Vote me out, and you win now, but lose later.

One last thing about Jonathan Penner, as his whistling into the darkness will be the last we hear of him on Survivor apart from his jury question and the reunion. Where does he rank in the lexicon? This ouster gives him two seventh place finishes and the injury removal. His two jury finishes were marked by a moment of bad decision making each time – the mutiny and the failure with Blair and Scoopin. A better finish and he would have moved up substantially, a la Coach in South Pacific. Instead, he’s more like James – an interesting character who got three shots and never really came close. I love Penner, he will always be on my short list of Survivors. When Mark Burnett calls me and asks me to cast Survivor: JNT’s Choice, Penner is one the first men I mention. But sadly, he won’t ever get a chance to make his case for the million and earn some Boston Rob style redemption.

Top Chef: Seattle – Episode 4 – So Much Salt In My Mouth

Nothing against this episode – but it was pretty dull. I mean, that Elimination Challenge was creative. I liked the concept of putting the chefs in the position of cooking meals they served at Arnold’s. No Fonz though. But in execution…well, not so much.

I can say that the Tesar Show is going to get very tiring. We pick up this episode with the Stew Room argument between Tesar, CJ and OTV. It is nasty. Tesar uses a heinous insult against OTV – he compares him to a blogger. Hey now! That’s a low blow – not only to OTV, but well, to me! He also insults the entire state of Oklahoma. Tesar claims to hate being called the Most Hated Chef in Dallas, but boy, he sure brings it up a lot. The man is just irritating from his attitude to those damn glasses on his friggin’ forehead. He’s also very talented and is likely going to be with us for a long, long time.

I also need to make a correction to my column from last week. I was wrong – there is a Last Chance Kitchen again this season. They just delayed starting it for a couple of weeks. However, it is even worse than last year. The winner of the LCK not only returns to the competition, but does so for the Finals. The Finals!!! Even Survivor didn’t go that far with Redemption Island. How fair is that to the chefs who actually cooked well enough all season long to NOT get eliminated? Top Chef not only bulked up LCK, they also added Save a Chef – where fans vote each week among the defeated chefs. The one with the most fan support competes in the last LCK challenge. So, the Last Chance Kitchen is really the Second To Last Chance Kitchen.

Bad ideas, Top Chef. There is a reason Survivor ditched the idea after two seasons. Just watch the backlash that would happen should a chef who got ousted from the show, then LOST the LCK challenge, managed to come back because enough Bravo viewers liked them, and then won the championship. Way to seriously diminish your brand, Top Chef.

But that’s not where we are right now. We are doing Quickfire Challenges with slabs of beef, and Elimination Challenges with retro menus. We are joined by Naomi Pomeroy – who we affectionately remember from Top Chef: Masters. And we call her Beast – because that’s her restaurant, and a super cool name to have.

Quickfire Challenge – Beast tells them to cut some meat off of a slab of beef hidden behind Curtain #2. For safety sake, only two at a time will hack away at this carcass. As Tesar said, beef is beef and steak is steak. Not really sure what that means, but it feels profound. And delicious. CJ is making tartare and is actually chomping away on pieces of raw meat as he finds his cut. Less delicious. Brooke and The Wiz want to avoid failure again – good plan. Lizzie is trying to use the pressure cooker and failing, and we are serving our meats.

Eliza – Grilled Flank Steak with Cherry Cognac Reduction, Asparagus, and Potato Cake – Padma found the pairing of asparagus and cherry to be interesting. And it doesn’t appear to be in a good way.

Tesar – Braised Oxtail, Potato Gnocchi and Roasted Vegetables and Celery – Beast said the meat was very tender.

OTV – Beef Shoulder Meatballs with Creamy Polenta and Pickled Shallots – Beast likes the acidity.

Papa Smurf – Kalbi Round Steak with Tomato Cardamom Broth and Fennel Salad – Beast wanted more cardamom, but it had good flavors.

Brooke – Grilled Hanger Steak with Smoked Onion Figs and Cauliflower Puree – Beast said this is a hard cut, and it was a bit too rare.

The Wiz – Hispanic Crudo with Charred Tomato Sauce and Cilantro Radish Slaw. – Padma is not pleased with prep method.

Kish – Top Sirloin Tartare with Mustard Sabayon and Carpaccio Salad – She grabbed the first piece she found so she could start cooking.

Micah – Oxtail Polenta with Truffled Romanesco Cauliflower – Beast complements the butchering.

Real Housewife – Sirloin Medallion Wrapped in Bacon, Asiago Risotto with Marsala Sauce – Beast likes the flavor and the sauce.

The Thumb – Braised Top Round Ravioli with Marjoram and Aged Parmesan – Beast likes the flavors.

CJ – Top Round Tartare, Raw Juniper and Kohlrabi – Padma found it to be very nice.

Camba – Grilled Hanger Steak with Brown Butter, Parsley and Radish Salad – No comments.

Lizzie – Braised Foreshank with Turnips and Dill – Beast noticed the pressure cooker issues.

The bottom trio is Lizzie, Eliza and The Wiz. Tough meat, bad pairing, and under-seasoning take care of it. On the top – CJ, Tesar and OTV…the battling trio. CJ’s got perfect knife cuts, Tesar gets praised sauce and OTV had a perfect meatball. However, Tesar’s early success continues and his immune again.