Thursday, September 29, 2011

Biggest Loser Week 2

What do you get when you tempt a bunch of people attempting to lose weight with donuts and the prize is to determine when people exercise? A competition, thats what, and that is exactly what this episode began with this week.

Each contestant was invited in, 3 at a time (one from each team) and a plate of mini donuts were set in front of them. They were told that, this week, the gym would only be open at 3 times of the day for use; two hours in the early morning, at noon, and 2 hours at night. And teams could only pick one slot in which to exercise. The winner of the temptation would get to pick the exercise time for all 3 teams, and could only confer with their team about the order.

In the first group was "Coach", also known to me as Mr. Danley. I watched in horror as he ate 11 donuts, so that his team of blue could win the right to exercise at their optimal time. However, Coach would not win the game today. Many of the players, in lieu of actually participating, chose to instead make it SOUND like they were participating, which was actually quite hilarious as it really just made it sound like they were dying or making lots of noise. John, from the black team, was the one who actually clinched the win, after eating 37 donuts (this was in 3 minutes). The black team took the morning slot, gave the noon slot to the blue team, and the unattractive evening slot to the red, young team.

The actual challenge this week looked like a lot of fun, to be honest. Teams were put on a floating maze in the middle of a pool, and had to move a ball from one end of the maze to another. The team to get this done in the fastest time would get a 2 pound advantage (black) and the team to do it the second fastest a 1 pound advantage (red). Blue team struggled, but in the end they were able to finish the maze, which is always important on this show. 

This episode had some drama, especially in regards to the meet and greets with Dr. H. This is always an interesting, yet sad part of the show, because contestants realize just how sick they are in many cases. One such instance was with Ramon, who is 27 years old with an inner age of 50. It is so upsetting to see these contestants, especially so close to me in age, with these issues, because it should be hitting home that this can happen at any age.

The best part of this episode, for me anyway, came when Mr. Danley was talking about his family and most especially, his wife. Mrs. Danley was my science teacher in elementary school, and it was just amazing to see someone I knew on that television screen. The show did a special tribute to the two of them for their 38th anniversary, and it was so touching.

Overall, despite this being week 2, the contestants did ok as far as their numbers. In the end, Johnny from the blue team was sent home, and he looks absolutely amazing.

"Red and yellow seem to be the national colors here!"

So, this Sunday marked the start of my all time favorite show, The Amazing Race. I can honestly say that there have been a few seasons that haven't rocked my boat, but for the most part I love it, and the Emmys seem to agree with me!!

I love Amazing Race for a number of reasons. The first, and foremost, is that it gives me the chance to travel throughout the world vicariously, and also relive places that I have already visited. Not to mention, it has been a driving force in my adding a few (or more than) locations to the list of places I want to go. The second is that they seem to try to really get REAL people, unlike other "reality" shows, although it is always exciting to see returning faces or faces from other shows (I'm lookin at you, Jenna and Ethan!). Finally, I love the challenges because I think about doing the things that happen on the show...but I don't know if I would ever do them.

This season is super exciting because two of my all time favorite "reality" stars are racing. They are Jenna Morasca and Ethan Zohn. I love them. I have loved them since Survivor All Stars, when I first caught wind of their relationship. When Ethan gave that hug to Jenna as she left the show to be with her mom...UGH! It gets to me every time. They had started their relationship at that point, but kept it a secret while on the show. Since then, and especially since Ethan had Hodgkin's, I have followed their every cyber move, and jumped for joy when they were announced to be on TAR.

Ok. Enough hero worship. The rest of the teams are nothing short of amazing also, and other than Ethan and Jenna, I definitely have a few I want to see go through to the end.

Amani and Marcus-A married couple, Marcus is a former NFL player. They are, so far, so humble and really seem to love one another. I really like seeing that on the Race

Andy and Tommy-The "Hippies" of a new generation of racers. They are so fun, and are former Olympic athletes. It will be interesting to see their seriousness come out as the series progresses

Bill and Cathi-A couple married 41 years. I can only hope to make it that long with my husband.They were barely saved by the skin of their teeth this week too!!

Ernie and Cindy-I love Cindy. So smart, and so willing to do new things. Ernie is hilarious, and so far they seem to be strong front runners.

Jeremy and Sandy-Didn't get to know them very well in the first will be interesting to see how their season goes since they came in 2nd on this first leg!

Justin and Jennifer-Siblings who seem to both be spitfires. I really hope the Race brings them closer to one another...they seem close now, but it looks like some fireworks start happening next week!

Kaylani and Lisa-Oh, Kaylani and Lisa, Vegas Showgirls. They seem so likeable, but made so many mistakes this first episode. After leaving the first challenge last, and thereby getting an extra challenge once they reached their destination, Kaylani lost her passport. Well, not so much lost as it fell out of their car...but this should be a lesson to all future racers-PROTECT YOUR PASSPORT! I have seen so many passport mishaps happen on the show that it generally drives me crazy. However, Kaylani's race (and potentially life, considering how mad Lisa was) was saved by Twitter. The young man who found it tweeted about it, and was told to race the passport to LAX, and HE DID! Kaylani...I hope you got that boy's contact info, because he is a total sweetheart!

They also got to participate in a pretty cool, but something I probably wouldn't do, hazard challenge where one of them (Kaylani) had to bungee jump in a mall in Taiwan. I dont think I would be bothered by bungee jumping near a body of water...but in a mall with a concrete floor at the bottom...that would freak me out. Kaylani did it successfully, and they were able to save themselves from what, at the beginning of the episode, looked like would be the end for them.

Laurence and Zac-Zac was the first person to ever sail around the world. At age 16. Wow. I imagine this team to be a bit of a dark horse, considering their first leg. They made it in at a respectable 6th place out of 11...but I would watch out for them during water challenges for sure.

Liz and Marie-Recently graduated from college, twins, and racers close to my age. They certainly seemed like they were going to implode during this leg, especially during the "Confucius" challenge. Hopefully they can pick it back up, because like they said, twins communicate differently than normal people :)

Finally, Ron and Bill-Domestic partners who fly for a living. Again, like Jeremy and Sandy, they weren't really featured much in this episode.

The episode began with a "needle in a haystack" type challenge, where each contestant had to find a parasol that read "tai" on it. They then had to figure out that their destination was Taipei, Taiwan, and head to LAX. They had to choose from 2 flights, 8 teams on one, and 3 on the other. Upon arriving in Taipei, they had to find a flashing board with yellow and red balloons on it, and determine that the clue was located there. None of the teams found this board on the first pass, and it took some longer, some much much longer, to find the clue. The clue was in Chinese, so they had to ask a local for help.

The clue sent them to the Confucius temple in Taipei, where they had their first Roadblock. One team member had to listen to a Confucius saying, then repeat it back to a monk verbatim. I think this is something we would all like to think we could easily accomplish, but when I think back to my flight over to Japan, and how I felt afterwards, I can only imagine what these contestants brains' feel like. And mine was just for a vacation!

After correctly stating the phrase, they had to move to a dragon racing boat area, and race a boat around the river. The contestants ended in the following order:

Ernie and Cindy-who won the Express pass
Jeremy and Sandy
Justin and Jennifer
Ethan and Jenna
Amani and Marcus
Laurence and Zac
Andy and Tommy
Ron and Bill
Kaylani and Lisa
Liz and Marie
and finally, Bill and Cathi. They will return to us in next weeks episode, in which there will be a double elimination

I cannot wait for this AMAZING season!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Survivor Week 2-Whiny Pansy Hantz is not greater than jerk Hantz

 Survivor this week was so full of different things that it’s difficult to know where to start. We come into the episode with the recently voted out Semhar reciting what I assume were poems to herself. Then there were the obligatory check ins at camp, with the most notable being Ozzy searching for the immunity idol. It was so exciting watching him monkeying around in trees again J. At the other tribe, Christine chose to search for the clue to the idol, and found the one that she missed last week.

The real excitement, though, came in this week’s sole reward/immunity challenge. I have to say, I truly miss having a reward and an immunity challenge, rather than having duels, but I digress. The challenge this week started with 4 contestants from each tribe having to dance around a pole and unravel ribbons, and then 4 other members figure out a puzzle. Between the two parts, the contestants doing the puzzle had to be “unlocked” from a corral of sorts, using the keys from the pole. At the end of the puzzle, the tribe had to move the biggest part to a platform.

Upolu came into this challenge strong. They finished the part with the ribbons very, very quickly, and then moved on to the puzzle. However, they got cocky during the puzzle, and decided they could just take their time. However, once the Savaii contestants were unlocked, they (under Ozzy’s leadership) jumped right in, and I am pretty sure they were breaking physics and literally flying around the puzzle. They made up a significant amount of time, and Savaii ending up taking home the idol for the next 3 days.

Not surprisingly, Christine became the main target of Coach for tribal council. However, Brandon, with that good ole Hantz blood, couldn’t resist attempting to sway the votes in another direction, towards Mikayla. However, unlike his uncle, this seemed like a decision completely separated from logic and strategy, and more about his being tempted by her as a “married man”. Quit your whining about it and grow up kid, you HAD to know that there were going to be women on this show wearing bikinis or lingerie (since I don’t think they have been given their suits yet), so if this was going to be a problem you never should have applied. Its sad but…I think I prefer his uncle to him (and I really did not want to).

At tribal, there was the usual bickering that happened, and then Brandon spilled his beans about Mikayla. Seriously, dude, this just makes you seem like a whiny pansy. Cut it out. In the end, though, Christine was targeted by the majority of the tribe, and has been sent to Redemption Island.

They're back!!

So this week was the "official" start of the 2011-2012 television season, with most of my (our) favorites returning to us from hiatus. This was the 2nd week for Survivor, and the first for Biggest Loser, Big Bang Theory, and Fringe. Amazing Race (YAY!) will start this evening. 

Let’s start with a brief recap of Biggest Loser. This season is especially exciting, because there is a cast member from my neck of the woods on the show. In fact, he was my sister's teacher at her high school! He is a great guy who has spent the majority of his life working with teenagers, and running a lawn care business on the side. Mike Danley, we are all rooting for you here!

This season, for the time being, Biggest Loser has placed the cast members into teams by age. They are the "under 30" team, the "under 50" team, and the 50 and up team. There are also two new trainers, including the esteemed tennis player Anna Kournikova! She is the trainer for Mr. Danley's team, which makes her addition all the more exciting. We are also getting to know Dolvett Quince, and the ever popular Bob Harper is returning to us for his 12th season. 

It’s important to note here that it is the first time in a very long time that we are not starting out the season with teams of two wearing several different colors. Many times, these teams of two were comprised of people in a previous relationship. This adds an interesting dynamic back into the show that I cannot wait to see play out. 

Now, moving on to Big Bang Theory (I'll go back to Survivor later). At the end of last season on Big Bang, we discovered that Penny and Raj, two of the main characters, had slept together. Or, was it "slept together"? This opening dealt a lot with this question, as well as the fall out associated with it. The second episode went back to the wacky and zany approach that we so love about Big Bang, putting the characters into silly situations. We also saw mostly separate scenes between the girls and the guys' groups. 

One of the biggest revelations on Big Bang this week involved Raj finally being outed for his crush on Bernadette, Howard's girlfriend. This led to us seeing Bernadette angry for one of the first times ever, and losing it on the unsuspecting Raj. While this was one of her only scenes in Thursday’s episodes, it was definitely one for the books. I was disappointed not to see more Bernadette though!

On Fringe this week, the main characters are dealing with a world that no longer includes Peter, but at the same time both universes are still aware of one another’s’ existence and are working together, to a point. For this episode, while the show runners went back to the “Monster of the week” format we so love about Fringe, there were definite references to Peter’s character, or lack thereof, and the fallout associated with that. I very much missed Joshua Jackson in this episode, but was excited to see that Agent Lee, who was important in the alternate universe, is now taking a place in our Fringe division. It will definitely be interesting to see him grow into his position there.

I also found it interesting that we have, yet again, been introduced to another color during the credits and throughout the episode. They are using amber this season, very much the same color as the actual amber used to stop events in the alternate universe. I cannot wait to find out what this really means as the season progresses. 

Thats all about these shows for this week, I hope to keep up with each of them a little better than I did this week, and give them all their own recaps!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Survivor South Pacific Week 1-Ozzy, Coach and the new Cesternino?!

Today marked the beginning of the fall 2011 television season. While other shows may have started already, one of the biggest shows on CBS started this evening, officially marking the beginning of the season in my mind. This was Survivor: South Pacific, the second iteration of the Redemption Island series of Survivor.

The episode began very much like others have...with the two tribe rowing in, Sir Jeff Probst already on the beach, and our "secret players" coming in my helicopter. I have to admit, I really miss the epic entrances and exits at the beginning and end of this show...but this helped to whet my appetite. I also found it interesting that on both tribes, the players were wearing similar colors to their team flag. The blue team, Upolu, had a team of people who arrived wearing fairly cool colors...blues, purples, etc; whereas the red team Savaii had players in warm colors...reds and yellows. Don't know if this was mere accident or planned by the producers..but it would certainly be interesting to find out.

Next, Ozzy and Coach had to be put into their tribes. I really loved the way this was done this year, that is, giving them eggs that they had to break. I liked this because it was very difficult for Coach or Ozzy to pick a tribe on purpose, whereas when players had to choose a buff, there was more room for error. I also think it will be interesting to see how things play out on Coach's tribe, since their is obviously one person (Christine) who really has no use for the former players...but at the same time Coach has already begun to cultivate a bond with the other members of his tribe.

The first challenge was our first "duel" of the season of sorts...Coach and Ozzy were pitted against one another to get reward for their tribes. I loved how both the tribes pitched in during the pyramid puzzle (called a Towers of Hanoi challenge by my husband the engineer), and this one on one challenge ultimately turned into a team challenge. While I love the competition once it gets to an individual game, I always love how the teams come together early on. Ultimately, Ozzy won the challenge for his team.

Here would probably be a good place to mention the other members of each tribe

Coach, Albert, Brandon, Christine, Edna, Mikayla, Rick, Sophie, and Stacey

Brandon is Russell's nephew (just in case you didn't hear it the 50 times it was stated on the show today) will be interesting to see how long he can keep that information under wraps. Although...I do prefer the younger Hantz to the elder thus far.

Ozzy, Dawn, Elyse, Jim, John (Cochran), Keith, Mark, Semhar, and Whitney

After the reward challenge, the Survivors went to their respective beaches and started to get to know one another...the only really important thing that occurred during this time was that Christine decided to start searching for the immunity idol early will definitely be interesting to see how that play affects the rest of her game.

Fast forwarding past the typical first episode stuff, we come to the immunity challenge. This is an actual team challenge, with several of our favorite obstacles to over come. My personal favorite part of this whole episode was when they showed the teams strategizing..I am not convinced they have ever shown that before!

My second favorite part was, after showing the strategizing and Semhar boldly stating that she would be fine to throw coconuts, her fairly foreshadowed breakdown when it actually came time to do so. In a rare Survivor moment, you weren't allowed to switch out your members, so she was stuck trying to make coconut baskets despite her pleading. An important Survivor lesson can be learned here...keep your mouth shut especially if there are others on your team who can perform the tasks as well as you can!

At Tribal, it came down to between Semhar and Cochran. Thankfully (just because I love Cochran so far...), Semhar was sent to Redemption Island.

My early favorites to win are:
Cochran-He IS the new Cesternino. He, like me, has obviously studied the show for academic reasons, and personal reasons too. If he can get past his feelings of weakness and show that growth to the tribe, I think he could be a serious sleeper, especially if he lays off on the "I know everything Survivor" talk.

Ozzy-I just love Ozzy. I have since he stepped on the beach in the Cook Islands.
Coach-I think Coach was much more polarizing in Tocantins, and therefore that led to people not taking him as seriously (or being annoyed with him) and kicking him out. I think he definitely feels like he was mis-labeled in Heroes vs Villains, so he probably wants redemption for that if nothing else.

Sophie (I definitely think, if nothing else, she will help keep Coach under control!)-She's smart. She told people she majored in Russian Economics, and she is listed as a medical student. Plus she was able to converse in Russian at the drop of a hat. Keep an eye on this one!

Edna-She's an anesthesiologist, which has to mean something. At least one anesthesiologist has done well in the past on Survivor (Mick from Samoa), and I just have a feeling about her...

Thanks for reading!