The Thursday Report – What a Wicked Web We Weave(r)

So last Saturday the wife and I were walking through Fairview Mall in North York and we came across the mall tour for MuchMusic’s “new and improved” VJ Search, which seems to combine the low budget-yet-entertaining parts of the old VJ Search with low budget-and-not entertaining ‘The Lofters’. And based on what I saw, the “audition” portion of the VJ Search will be excruciatingly bad.

Today, I was walking in my local mall – Markville – to grab a Tim Horton’s coffee (Star-what?) and it turns out that Ashlee Simpson is doing a meet-and-greet there. And of course people were already lined up (at 1pm) for a 6pm session. It didn’t bother me too much, except most of the people lined up were parents with their kids. Call me conservative or traditional, but shouldn’t you make sure your kids are in school instead of lining up for some lip-syncing singer who is even probably ridiculed in BritPop circles? Also scary, there were quite a few 20-something guys in line. Brendan, I hope you weren’t one of them.

A good reason to hope that this goes through
“If I can’t make movies for theatres, I don’t want to make movies” – One trick pony director M. Night Shyamalan on a proposal that would see movies released in theatres and DVDs at the same time. I can see where the movie studios are coming from with this. At Pacific Mall here in the Toronto area, there’s about 10 stores selling DVDs of “just released” movies, at roughly $2-3 a pop. So why not try and make a buck with a barebones release right away, and double dip it later?

Bits and Pieces
– OK, I only watch ‘The Apprentice: The Donald’ in between ‘CSI’ breaks, but last week’s firings? Damn.
– Speaking of CSI, yeah it was a repeat but I was trying to remember why Heather McComb sounded so familiar. Then I remembered – she was on ‘Party of Five’ AND she starred in that awful ‘Generation X’ telemovie a while back.
– ‘Rachel Ray’s Tasty Treats’… why don’t we get this show up here in Canada (or as my Detroit friends say, down there in Canadia)? And why does it sound like porn?
– Great episode of ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ this week. They played the racist card well, using intellectual white supremacists instead of generic white trash racists. And the twist at the end was, well, pretty awesome. If you can catch a repeat or find a torrent of this episode, I highly recommend it.
– One more ‘SVU’ note: my wife noticed that the neo-Nazi teen was played by the same guy who plays Zach Young on ‘Desparate Housewives’. From psycho kid to racist kid… this guy’s kinda typecast now, isn’t he?
– Good episode of ‘The Office’ this week, as we see Dwight reach another level of weird. Also, we get Lance Krall (Kip the Gay Guy from Joe Schmo) appearing as the Sensei. Shame that his Spike TV show sucked.
– Didn’t really like ‘My Name is Earl’. Jaime Pressley is great in her role as Joy, but too much Joy isn’t a good thing on this show.
– Sports: Is it me, or does Raptors rookie Charlie Villanueva look like WWE wrestler Kane?

“Hey, she’s not as stupid as she looks”
Another comment from my wife, this time with regards to Veronica on ‘Prison Break’, which had another good episode, albeit one designed to stretch the show to a full season. The only real question now is – was LJ smart enough to erase his call log? I’m thinking… no. But since there are apparently no CSI-type people in the ‘Prison Break’ universe, he’s probably safe for now.

Meanwhile, inside prison, I’m very surprised that Homeboy didn’t get shanked and/or raped. Although I’d think that if he’s featured for a few more episodes, he will be. Things are gathering steam towards the November “fall finale”, after which we’ll be waiting 5 fricking months for the final nine episodes. Sometimes I really hate the Fox Network.

Anyways, for more analysis, Scott Keith has his ‘Prison Break’ Smark Rant available for you to read, if you haven’t already done so.

Fighting to reach The Ultimate Finale
Last week on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, we saw Luke Cummo advance to Saturday’s finals. Monday, Rashad Evans beat Keith Jardine by unanimous decision to advance. Tuesday, we saw Joe Stevenson beat Jason von Flue (tapout, armbar) and “Cowboy” Brad Imes beat Seth Petruzelli (split decision) to advance. So Saturday’s fights will be:

Welterweights: “The Silent Assassin” Luke Cummo vs. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson
Luke is scary with his standup ability, but he’s still a bit sloppy at times. Joe’s got a great ground game, and he’ll have to avoid Luke’s killer strikes to get there. I see Joe winning this thing, but I think both guys will get contracts.

Heavyweights: Rashad Evans vs. Brad “Hillbilly Heartthrob” Imes
Rashad won three fights to get to the finals, but one thing we haven’t seen from him is an ability to finish a match. He definitely had a chance against Keith on Monday, and it didn’t happen. However, given Brad’s inexperience Rashad should win this fight easily.

Over on ‘UFC Unleashed’, we got a showcase of Nick Diaz and Diego Sanchez, who will also be fighting on Saturday in the main event. Diaz has a lot of experience over Sanchez, and most people are expecting him to roll over the “Nightmare”. Me, I really don’t know if it’ll be a whitewash, but I do expect Diaz to win in an entertaining fight.

The Ultimate Finale 2 is LIVE on Saturday. I encourage everyone to watch. Especially to hear enlightening Joe Rogan commentary like “Ohhhhh!” and “Nice!”

The Race is becoming less and less Amazing
OK, before I get into my weekly commentary, I need to rant. You can scroll down a bit if you want to skip this.

Every season of ‘The Amazing Race’ seems to give us a team that I absolutely cannot stand. Last season, you could probably tell that I wasn’t a big fan of Lynn and Alex due to their hypocritical attitudes towards Romber. This year, I’ve got the Weaver family.

This week, we find that they feel that they’ve been raised to not trust anyone else but themselves and God and that’s why they haven’t helped any of the other teams. Although, really, they’ve barely acknowledged the other teams during the Race. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that they have a strong faith in God. Now obviously, asking God for help during a competition is ludicrous, because why would God help you and not everyone else? But what irks me is that Christianity tells you to help your fellow man, whether you think they deserve it or not.

And then there was the Yield. Like ‘My Name is Earl’, karma can play huge factor in this game. The Weavers have felt that they don’t need any help during this Race (except a Kurt Warner-like boost from God, of course) so it was inevitable that they were going to get hit with this when the time came. You’re not willing to help others, so the others are very likely to not help you. And in fact they’re more likely to hinder you. Hence the Yield.

And during that Yield, we got to see just what type of people they really are. I can understand your annoyance at getting Yielded, but making fun of Tony Paolo’s profession is pretty f*cking low. Doing it in jest is one thing, but the entire family was poking fun at him in a very mean-spirited fashion.

And then, they justify things by saying that they answer to a Higher Power. Which is nice, but in the context of a game show, is bullshit. I’m sorry, but did God tell you to apply for the show, get screened by casting agents and the producers, and win a million dollars? I’m guessing… no. Believing in God is one thing, expecting him to help you with everything you encounter is selfish.

OK, rant over. Back to my regularly scheduled ‘Amazing Race’ segment.

Yield – A Yield unused is an opportunity to advance wasted, so it’s good to see that teams were willing to use it at the first opportunity. The Yield should be used to try and eliminate another team (like Chip and Kim should’ve done with the Twins during season 5) or to increase your lead over all the other remaining teams (like Rob and Amber did last season). So good on the Paolos for using the Yield wisely.

Roadblock – On this leg, the Roadblock proved to be the Gaghan’s undoing. It’s your standard “needle in a haystack” Roadblock, and while luck plays a role here. everyone starts with their own 800 pound pile of beans, so it’s more fair than, say, the hay bale Roadblock in season 6.

Detour – On this Detour, I think that Ripe was a better choice for every team except the Gaghans. Yes, it requires a lot of strength, but with four people things would go quicker than you’d think. The Relic task looked like there was quite a bit of walking involved, and while it’s the more enjoyable task, it was probablye a bit slower because of the walking.

10. Black
9. Rogers
8. Aiello
7. Schroeder
6. Gaghan – I really wish you had gone further in the Race. I had originally thought that your kids would be annoying and a detriment to the team, but Carissa and Billy held their own, and held up a lot better than you’d expect preteens to hold up in a competition like this. As I mentioned above, the Roadblock did them in, and that’s all I got to say about that.

Sequesterville:

Paolo (FF, Y) – Slowly growing on me, now that they’re not focusing as much on Marion’s whining and D.J.’s whining about Marion’s whining.

Weaver – What little respect for you was gone after you made fun of Tony Paolo’s profession.

Reaching the Finish Line:
Bransen – Try to stay focused on the race and not the Weavers, and you’ll do fine.

Godlewski – Clean race, but you have to start hustling more.

Linz – You keep doing the “fun” Detours as opposed to doing the ones that play to your strengths. Your athleticism and driving/navigation skills have helped you do well so far, but you need to put it all together if you’re going to win this Race.

Winners of The Amazing Race:
Linz

Survivor
Alliances – We knew that Danni and Gary have an alliance going, but it seems that Danni also seems to have one with Brandon only, and Brandon, of course, has a “southern boy” alliance with Bobby Jon. Now the question is whether the former New Yuxha will try and swing Cindy to their side in the new (as yet unnamed) Red Tribe?

Reward Challenge – I thought both teams were a bit sloppy in their winding strategy, but it seemed that Nakum wound themselves up a little too haphazardly, as Yuxha was a little slower, but steadier during the unwinding. If I had to fault anyone for losing this challenge, it would be Rafe, as his height difference caused some entanglements that could’ve otherwise been avoided.

Immunity Challenge – As usual, strength played a large role in the game, but the challenges have slowly increased the mental aspect of things, and this time it manifested itself in how the teams divided themselves into diggers and assemblers. With Amy unable to run, it would’ve been smarter to put Gary in as a digger and let Danni put the pieces together, as she seemed to gas pretty quickly from the digging. On the other side, Cindy was great as a

This led to Rafe getting to watch a Tribal Council and, similar to last year, the chance to grant someone immunity. So he had a chance to screw with Yuxha or stay out of the way. And by giving Gary immunity, he chose to stay out of the way, and maybe Rafe gets a vote from Gary should he make final two.

OK, to the rankings!!

18. Jim Lynch
17. Morgan McDevitt
16. Brianna Varela
15. Brooke Struck
14. Blake Towsley
13. Margaret Bobnich
12. Brian Corridan
11. Amy O’Hara – Well, you had the bad luck to be on the losing tribe, and be on the outside of Gary’s plans. Trying to oust Bobby Jon was an admirable last ditch effort, but it was all for naught as you got outvoted four to one.

Merge Boot:
Judd Sergeant – Unless Jamie gets his way, you’re screwed.

Jury:
Bobby Jon Drinkard
Brandon Bellinger
Cindy Hall – You’re in the enviable position of being a swing vote in the merged tribe. Don’t f*ck it up (like Christy and Dottie did)
Jamie Newton
Lydia Morales
Rafe Judkins
Stephanie La Grossa

Final Two
Gary ‘Hawkins’ Hogeboom
Danni Boatwright – If you’re a Chiefs fan, she might be the only bright spot right now.

Sole Survivor
Danni Boatwright

And that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll cover ‘Ultimate Finale 2’ along with my usual ‘Amazing Race’ and ‘Survivor’ breakdown. I may even stay under 2000 words!! See you then!!