Category Archives: Analysis

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ Look Back: A Case For Kass; Plus Look-Alikes!

First, an apology: I was derelict in my responsibilities during this last season of Survivor, posting only a single recap in spite of yet another strong entry into the series. I can offer neither excuses nor reparations, just the promise that I will try not to be so negligent again. Trust me, I missed the recaps more than you, so it’s something I really hope to get back to. I can’t promise that this won’t happen again. But I promise I’ll try.

Now that my mea culpa is out-of-the-way, let us go ahead and – despite the season ending weeks ago – discuss the Survivor: Cagayan finale, as I finally got to the last few episodes this week and it’s still fresh in my mind. Cagayan continued what has been a string terrific, engaging, surprising Survivor seasons, a red-hot streak that has been the show’s renaissance, proving the series to be just as entertaining and relevant in its 28th season as it was in its first. And this season featured, if not one of its best players, one of its boldest, not-cop cop Tony, the Sole Survivor and winner of the million. To use a phrase that I really don’t care for, Tony played balls-out from day one, making alliances, immediately breaking them, swearing on his dead father’s grave like it had the weight of a Facebook RVSP, digging up Immunity Idols, lying about Immunity Idols, creating paranoia, letting his own paranoia persuade him to blindside players in his alliance, building #SpyShacks, and totally vexing his fellow Survivors and, often, himself in the process. It wasn’t the cleanest Survivor game ever, quite the opposite, but it was effective. Tony played big, was never out of the spotlight, but always managed to hang onto control of the game, partly because of his “bag of tricks,” but partly because no one else wanted to sport his bullseye. But being so omnipresent, so visible, often seemed to take Tony out of the discussion for elimination. Like the purloined letter, he was hidden in plain sight, deftly (sometimes) keeping his alliance committed and loyal and keeping himself safe. In the end, especially in a final two against Woo(!), Tony deserved to win the million. However, while Tony did the most to earn the victory, I was surprised at the lack of respect for Kass’s game, who likewise played a bold, unpredictable, cutthroat and successful (but just not successful enough) game.

Read on: Goats and Llamas

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Filed under Analysis, Better Late Than Never, Century 21 Reality, Look-Alikes, MS Paint, Tribal Council, Winterfallen

‘Suvivor: Cagayan’ Premiere – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Open Forum

J'tiaSurvivor is back! And, from the looks of it, Jeff Probst is in no mood. It’s been quite some time since we were offered an all-rookie season of Survivor, and after three great seasons back-to-back-to-back, it would not have been surprising to see the show go to the returning player-well once again (indeed, ever since the fireworks of Russell vs. Boston Rob: Round 1 in Heroes vs. Villains, it seemed like  all-newbie seasons might be few and far between). But, perhaps in an effort not to exhaust Survivor of its most precious Cochran and Reynolds and Aras natural resources, the show is going au naturale in its twenty-eighth(!) season.

Which isn’t to say that there are no unique wrinkles this time around. As the show has been teasing since the Blood vs. Water reunion, Survivor: Cagayanandonandon separates the players into the three tribes: Beauty, Brawn, and Brians (a group which, surprisingly, features not a single Brian). And Jeff gets things going right away, asking each tribe to quickly and essentially without deliberation pick a team leader, and then Jeff directs that specified leader to immediately identify his or her tribe’s weakest link. So, for the newly anointed team captains, this is (seemingly) a big opportunity to shed either the tribe’s weakest player or the group’s biggest threat. Sarah, on the Lloyd Braun tribe decides to single out Skeletor Trish, reasoning by her emaciated looks that she’s just finished up playing at least two Survivor games back-to-back and probably is just a tad fatigued from 78 straight days without proper nourishment. Over on the We’re Also Beautiful on the Inside Tribe, LL Cool LJ tabs human floatation device former NFL Cheerleader Morgan, labeling her as “hot,” which makes her more dangerous than her “cute” tribemates. Dude’s got a good system. Watch out for that guy. Not-Brian leader of the Brians David wastes no time in selecting Garrett, the marble statue to his left. David clearly saw some muscles on Garrett that he didn’t know even existed, and deduced that he’s too serious of a threat to help the tribe win a challenge and must go. These three players, YOU ARE THE WEAKEST LINK, GOODBYE!

More: David & Goliath, Samson & J’Tia

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Tonight is Just a State of Mind – On the First Week of Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’

It was just over four years ago that much digital ink was spilled on this blog over the Game of Thrones-like* maneuvering in the kingdom of late night. We talked about the principled, heroic path that Conan O’Brien chose, or, arguably, forged. We also suggested that, perhaps, Jay Leno wasn’t the malevolent Machiavelli we all assumed him to be. We also stressed that David Letterman, his house untouched, remained the King of Late Night, the walls of his castle fortified and impenetrable, and he was likely watching, with glee, as his competitors warred around him.** Like with many blogs and media outlets at the time, the post-11:30pm drama dominated the conversation on this site. And now, nearly half a decade later, Leno has been dethroned*** once again, but this is first we’ve written about it. Why? Because this time Leno was replaced in a bloodless coup, a gracious transfer of power, with the young, affable Jimmy Fallon ascending to The Tonight Show desk in grand, but still humble and respectful fashion. 

In fact, four episodes into Fallon’s Tonight Show and the only real notable shift from Late Night is that the former program has returned to New York, where it began so many years ago. And that geographical stasis might explain why Fallon’s Tonight does not stray very far at all from his Late Night, save for a new, gorgeous coliseum-like theater, more space for the thirty-four members of The Roots and an opening sequence directed by Spike Lee (whatever that entails). Nearly through his first week as the guy, Fallon has already trotted out Late Night favorites like “The Evolution of_____,” the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet, the #Hashtag sketch, and charades (a segment that, no doubt, inspired NBC to develop my parent’s new favorite show, Celebrity Game Night). What is actually most interesting and telling to us, even if it is a fluke of the schedule, a footnote due to the Olympic programming, is that Fallon’s Tonight Show actually debuted at midnight, a concept that Conan O’Brien found so sacrilege that it became the keystone of his argument for parting ways with NBC.

But with Fallon, so attuned to the world of DVRs and YouTube, time slots are meaningless, just some listing in TV guide, historical minutiae. His show would not be measured by the number of viewers during a certain hour. It wouldn’t even be measured with +7 ratings or YouTube. It would be measured by laughs, it would be judged by the barometer of fun. What Fallon’s Tonight Show has demonstrated thus far, and supported by his temporarily delayed time slot, is that it’s the “Show” part that matters, not the “Tonight” part. If he can make people laugh, especially an A-list celebrity or legendary music group, or Steve Higgins or his own parents, or you at home or your own parents, then he’s happy. Then he’s doing the show that he wants. Unlike Conan, Fallon cedes the floor to his guests. And, unlike Conan, Fallon is willing to cede his time slot to network partners, just happy to be a part of the team. Which, again, is less of a magnanimous, unselfish gesture and more the necessities of prime-time Olympic programming. Still, it feels fitting that even when nice guy Jimmy Fallon got the call to the big show, he was bumped thirty minute to accommodate replays of Ice Dancing. And, we feel safe in saying, he couldn’t be happier about it. 

*Fascinating that four years ago, when we wrote all those posts, we didn’t know that Game of Thrones was a thing that existed. 
**Get it? It’s a whole Game of Thrones motif. 
***Okay, we’ll stop. 

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Filed under Analysis, Count Bleh, Good Humor, Talkies

Under-Seasoned: Belated Musing on the ‘Top Chef: New Orleans’ Finale

We thought we’d take a few moments to discuss the recent competition final that has legions of fans around the world crying foul. No, not the Ice Dancing Gold in Sochi, although that outcome has not surprisingly raised some eyebrows (to the novice judges viewing from our living room, we had the Canadians at least even with the Americans). No, we’re not talking about the world of sports here, but the culinary world, and, more specifically, the results of the Top Chef:New Orleans travesty finale.

More: Culinary a-salt?

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Filed under Analysis, Better Late Than Never, Century 21 Reality, The Sixth Taste, Top Scallop

“Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ Premiere – The Bitch is Back

After a long, Probst-free summer, Survivor is finally back, and the man in denim is ready to preside over the case of Blood v. Water. With only a few hours until court is back in session, let’s get right to it.

The burning question for this season, as we noted in our pseudo-primer/preview, is “has Gervase, after thirteen years, learned to swim?”

Well, from the looks of his very tentative entry into the water, it seems unlikely.

Gervase Survivor

But it was more of an encouraging start than that of Tyson’s girlfriend Rachel, who apparently agreed to sleep in the jungle for 39 days on the one condition that she can never get wet.

Tyson & Rachel

When the Survivors and their loved ones arrive on dry land (including Kat and her boyfriend/big brother Hayden), they learn that they’ll be spending their first night alone, and while the game is afoot, the formation of the tribes will wait. Colton, of course, is back, because no ruptured appendix can deter a monster that terrible. He’s returned with his boyfriend Caleb, which serves to make him more sympathetic terrible. And even though he has his southern boytoy to take care of him, he’s still livid about having to spend a night in the elements.

More: Take Your Daughters to School Day…

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Filed under Analysis, Century 21 Reality, The Worst, Tribal Council

Don’t Drink the Water, There’s Blood vs. Water – New ‘Survivor’ Cast Revealed

Survivor Blood vs. Water

Well, folks, with less than month to go until Survivor: Blood vs. Water premieres (assuming that CBS and Time Warner resolve their who-is-more-horrible-and-greedy-and-out-of-touch-and-only-serving-to-destroy-their-own industry-off), the much-anticipated cast list, featuring returning favorites with their loved ones, has been revealed! And we have to say, as opposed to last season’s casting missteps (The Devil’s Brandon Hantz, Shamar, Sandra Bullock), this is a pretty solid roster with only a few complaints. If Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit was successful despite its bevy of either unbearable or barely there players, then we have high hopes for Blood vs. Water: No Matter Who Wins, We Also Win. Let’s dig a little deeper (in bullet form!)

Read on: Who’s back! Who’s missing? (

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Goodbye Ann Perkins, We Hardly Knew Ye AKA What Do You Do With a Problem Like Rashida?

Three weeks ago sources revealed that Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe would be leaving Parks and Recreation midway through its upcoming sixth season. News about the impending departure of unlucky in love Ann Perkins and perfectionist City Manager Chris Traeger was expectedly met with some sadness and disappointment by devoted Parks and Rec fans. The cast of the NBC comedy has developed into one of the strongest ensembles on television, and, with the exit of The Office and 30 Rock last season, Parks and Rec is poised to be NBC’s number one workplace comedy, with the citizens of Pawnee providing the most colorful and entertaining array of recurring characters and bit parts this side of Greendale Community College. Losing two main cast members is a bit of surprise, a curious altering of a formula that seemed to be working so well. But here’s the thing: we actual welcome the change, as it will solve the show’s most glaring problem, a significant flaw that has existed since episode one: what do you do with a problem like Rashida?

More: On not keeping up with the Jones

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Better Late Than Never, Count Bleh, Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam, Must Flee TV, Must See TV, Yasmine Bleeth