Friday, August 21, 2009

Recap 6/29 - 7/3 2009

Next Food Network Star:

Well, it's about time. Seriously.

Anyway, this week the first challenge was to make the "ultimate burger" that represented a region of the US, and then present it on camera in a 30 second spot. Most of the contestants did about the same on camera as they have in the past with Melissa setting the bar high when she went first, and Jeffrey and Debbie also doing well while Michael and Teddy weren't so hot. Katie was somewhere in the middle as usual, but Jameka was the surprise by crashing and burning when she's done well on camera before. While Michael wasn't that great on camera, Bobby loved his burger and will feature it on the menu at his new Bobby's Burger Palace in Connecticut. Katie made a Turkey burger and as it takes longer to cook than the time that they were given, she served it not completely cooked. This is the 2nd time that she's served undercooked food.

The second challenge also was about regional cuisine, and the contestants had to make a dish using all of the ingredients that they were given that represented a specific area. They then had to present their food to service people who had just returned from the Middle East, along with their families...and Guy Fieri who won NFNS in Season 2, and is one of FN's biggest stars.

I think the NFN PTB decided to make the show stop being a runaway by sabotaging Jeffrey. They NEVER showed how each contestant was assigned their region, and Jeffrey ended up with Lobster, Cheese and Blueberries to represent Maine. Now, WTF could you do with all three of those ingredients in one dish? So, not surprisingly, his dish sucked. He knew it sucked, and his presentation also suffered because of it. However, Jameka made glue. She at least went out and tried to sell herself, to try to cover her food with smoke and mirrors. It didn't work, but she survived. Michael clocked Debbie with a sheet pan and it threw her off. Both her food and her presentation were bland, but she also survived. Melissa won the challenge, easily, but I still didn't get her presentation. She mentioned that her Mom had been in the service, and then said that she had died when Melissa was 20. It seemed unnecessary to add that. She didn't say that she died while serving, so it just seemed kinda gratuitous. The bottom turned out to be Katie (shocker,) Teddy (shocker,) Jameka, and the only real shocker was that Jeffrey also was in the bottom. But, there was NFW that Jeffrey or Jameka were gonna go home ahead of Teddy and Katie who are ALWAYS in the bottom. And finally, after should have gotten booted last week, Teddy went bye bye. Please NEVER show up on my tv again.

BET Awards:

They did a pretty impressive job of turning the awards into a Michael Jackson tribute. Jamie Foxx did a pretty decent job as host, and did a decent job doing the Beat It dance and then Moonwalking. He came out and did one of his songs in Auto-Tune...which is funny because Jay-Z came out and performed his new song called Death of Auto-Tune.

New Edition started the show by performing as The Jacksons, complete with outfits, dance routines, and sang a medley of their songs. They weren't announced, but EVERYONE knew who they were.

Ciara sang "Heal the World," and Ne-Yo proved that he got his sound right from Michael with a very good version of "Lady In My Life."

But the biggest shock was right at the end, without any introduction, Jamie Foxx escorted Janet Jackson onto the stage. You could see her trying to get the words out before finally giving a very short speech. They cut to the crowd and there were LOTS of tears...but that was ONLY the start as Jamie Foxx (without auto-tune) and Ne-Yo performed a very good version of "I'll Be There" which pretty much got all the women crying...and looked to have choked up many of the men.

It really wasn't that great of a show on the whole. They chose not to announce the nominees (except in Best Female R&B) in order to allow for all of the MJ stuff, and it seemed to make much of the show out of context. Also, it was odd when performers sang non-MJ songs as you know that they ALL could have done SOMETHING. But the beginning and the ending made it worth watching.

Kathy Griffin:

In this episode, the first part dealt with KG trying to appeal to "Young Hollywood" and younger fans. She tried to get a part on "Gossip Girl," but failed. She did get a small part on "Privileged" as a wedding planner for a wedding between 2 gay characters. She had trouble with her lines and her acting as she hasn't done much acting over the last several years, but she ended up getting it together.

The second part dealt with her hanging out with Paris Hilton, going shopping, dealing with the Paps, and then hanging out at a pool. KG showed off her newly fabulous 48 year old body in a bikini. Earlier, she kept embarrassing Tom who was in her walk-in closet while she was trying on some of Paris' clothes, and she kept practicing showing her crotch (with panties) and Tom had to keep turning away.

The storyline that ran through the whole episode dealt with Kathy putting her Mom in charge of her Facebook and MySpace pages (created also to attract younger fans) and her Mom having a hard time posting what Kathy wanted (as Mom was supposed to post things as though SHE were Kathy) and not post things like "2 buck chuck on sale at Trader Joe's." Kathy fired her at the end of the episode.

Spectacular Spiderman:

This wasn't one of the better episodes as though not much "really" happened, although it did mark the return of the Sinister Six which replaced 2 members. Doc Oc has had a mental breakdown and is in an insane asylum, and was there along with Shocker. The Master Planner broke Shocker out of prison, but Doc Oc wouldn't go.

A very wiped out Spidey ended up defeating the revised SS, but the police were only able to hang onto Mysterio as the Master Planner was able to extract the other 5 from where Spidey had left them. This left an opening in the SS, so MP sent Doc Oc's robot tentacles to kidnap him from the insane asylum.

The other storyline dealt with Peter's girl Issues. Liz Allen still seems to be crushing on him, but drops him whenever the QB (now on crutches) shows up. So, Peter tried to talk with Gwen who said that it's obvious that she isn't his first choice...and WON'T be his 2nd. Peter then went to get Mary Jane a Hot Chocolate when the Sinister Six showed up. He explained his absence by saying that the vendor was out, so he went down the street to get the drinks. This lead to the gals thinking that Peter just can't stay focused.


Last week, TO and his model teammate were screwed over and got booted. Jennifer Capriati, who sucked in all of the challenges last week, ended up reaggravating an old injury and had to drop out. This meant that her teammate, David Charvet, also was gone. This allowed TO's team back into the competition.

So, what was the first task? A relay race in sand. And TO, a NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver was now going to be running in it. Hoo boy. There were to be 6 heats, with the slowest team cut after each heat. This meant that the winning pair had to run 6 times. They could only run either the 1st or 2nd leg 3 times each.

Bode Miller's team devised a strategy to false start each race, because the rules stated that once any team false started in a heat, if it happened again (even if the 2nd time wasn't the same team as the first time) the team that false started would be eliminated. This meant that each race had added pressure to not jump the gun.

TO's team won the event easily. Bode Miller's team wound up in the second to last race, and when the gun went off, they both sat down. They did this to pretend that whoever left first (TO) jumped the gun. The other racer, NBA player Robert Horry, got confused and at first didn't run, but then took off when he found out that TO didn't false start. Bode's team decided that they couldn't win anyway, so they wanted to rest up for the next event. Probably a good idea as Dan Cortese pulled his hamstring during on of the later heats. Dan had to leave the competition, so they brought David Charvet back to replace him on Lisa Leslie's team. They wrote DAN on their arms (but not Jen.)

The 2nd event was a running long jump over a styrofoam bar in the water. Each person got to practice jump once, and TO cleared 20' for the longest jump of the day. They had the "celebs" jump first, so by the time it was the athlete's turn to jump, the tide had come in which raised the bar 3' up, making it harder to clear. Sure enough, the athletes kept hitting the bar. TO tried 20' again, but should have gone with 17' or 18' as he would have made it. Instead, he hit the bar. Estella Warren and the NBA guy finished last in both the relay race and the long jump, as BOTH of them hit the bar.

Once again, they screwed a team in order to have the "rubber match." While not as bad as last week's, there were 4 bottom teams, and the team in third had 10 more points than the team in 4th. It didn't matter, so Bode Miller's team had to compete against Julio Iglesias's team. Julio stumbled at the end of the runway and faceplanted onto the styrofoam bar, sending his team into the obstacle course, which is how it should have been anyway. Estella Warren and Robert Horry sucked the entire day, finishing last in all three events and they got the boot. Estella had once been an Olympic level synchronized swimmer, but she had a belly and looked much more "doughy" and out of shape compared to the other contestants, and Robert wasn't much better. They deserved to go.

Top Gear:

I actually watched 2 episodes this week.
The first aired Monday or Tuesday and involved the guys driving American Muscle Cars from San Francisco to the Salt Flats in Utah.
They joked that their Visas allowed for them to make "factual" tv, not "entertainment" as that was a different type of Visa. They said that they didn't realize the difference and didn't have time to change their Visas. The last time they were here, Jeremy apparently put a cow on the roof of his car or somesuch, so that didn't qualify as "factual" and the State Department gave them some lip when they came over this time. They allegedly were told that they could film here as long as it "wasn't entertaining."

The guys started by saying that American Muscle cars just don't make sense as they use too much gas, and can't be driven in Europe because the roads there aren't designed for them, and they're just not practical.

Jeremy drove a Corvette ZR-1, and at first didn't think he'd like it but ended up LOVING it. He said that Ferrari should take a drive in it and learn something from it. He said that it had a LOT of power, making it fun, but it also road well, and when taking it though a road that had a lot of turns, it handled even better. One segment that cracked me up was while they were in Reno, James went to a casino while Jeremy and Richard dragged raced and then both pulled alongside several parked cars and revved their engines so loudly that they set off the car alarms on all the cars that had them. Fun!

James started out by hating his Cadillac CTS-V. He actually owns a Cadillac, but a luxury one, not a muscle car. He hated that it had all this "needless" power when a Cadillac "should" be all about luxury. Once they hit the curvy roadway, though, he fell in love with how it handled the road with agility, power, and surprising grace.

Richard was supposed to drive a Dodge Challenger, but Chrysler wouldn't lend them one to drive because they claimed that Top Gear has "trashed" their cars in the past. So, "The Hamster" (who LOVES muscle cars and actually owns a "Bullitt" Mustang) allegedly bought a Challenger. He said that they normally cost about $45K, but because they were rare and in demand that he had to pay about $55K for his. He loved driving it on the open road, and loved the sound of the engine. On the curvy road, though, it didn't handle as well as the others. In the end though, Jeremy showed footage of all 3 of them smiling while driving and said that "American failed to make a practical muscle made 3."

The second episode was on Thursday, I believe, and was the sequel to an earlier episode where the guys were supposed to make "aquatic" cars and sail them across a river. In that episode, Jeremy took a pickup truck and slapped an outboard motor on it. He was doing well until it took in water due to not being water proof, and it rolled over in the water. Richard tried to make a "cabin cruiser" but his also failed. James actually made it across in one of those cars that were designed to be driven in the water, but Jeremy claimed that he didn't quite make it since he wasn't able to drive it out of the river.

So this time, they modified their earlier ideas. Jeremy used foam and other stuff to seal up the insides of the truck, the wheel wells, and the engine. Richard did much the same, but his vehicle this time was pretty much a boat placed on a truck frame. James used the same car, but added a mast. This time, however, they were told to cross the English Channel into France. 22 miles!

On the first attempt, James couldn't steer correctly and he nearly crashed into a breaker wall, but was saved by the Coast Guard. Jeremy did ok, but the rough waters caused his truck to sink. Richard also couldn't survive the rough waters and turned around. On the second attempt, the waters were calmer but James' car sank and he ended up with Richard. Jeremy tried to make it out in the calmer waters, but also failed. Finally, they all piled into Jeremy's truck and tried to break Richard Branson's record of driving a car across the Channel in 100 minutes. They failed. But, they actually did make it across the Channel and drove out onto the the applause of dumbfounded French folks.


I've never seen this before, but it followed Billy Mays and his partner Anthony "Sully" Sullivan and how people would pitch them ideas and then if Billy and "Sully" believed in the product, Billy would do an infomercial about it.

The episode I saw was the "season finale" (which may now be the series finale) and it gave a recap of some of the products that didn't pass muster, and gave an update on some that had. A fireman invented a "dual saw" that cuts through just about anything and has sold $5 million worth! WOW! Another guy invented a magnetic tool belt that you wear on your arm, and he's sold millions as well. They also showed the Awesome Auger which has sold over $9 Million worth! Holy schnikes!

The first part of the episode dealt with them upset over the Sham-wow and the Slap-chop as both are similar to products that Billy has supported in the past...the Zorbeez and the Quick-Chop. It didn't help that both products Billy pitched were several years ago, while the 2 new ones were within that last 2 years. It also didn't help that some writer for Popular Mechanics compared the Zorbeez to the Sham-wow and said that the Sham-wow won "by a mile." Billy spent his own money (the product makers weren't initially behind a new infomercial) and made new spots for both products. At the shoot, Billy's dad and his son were all there, and all are named Billy Mays (Sr, Jr, and III.) The product infomercials were successful and led to a lot of new sales of both products.

The next part dealt with a contest between Billy and Sully who each had an hour at the Philadelphia Trade Show to pitch old products to the people there and see who could make the most money. Sully doesn't do much pitching, so he decided to cheat. He gave money to people walking around the show to act as "marks" to come up and buy the product (a shammy type mop that Sully had pitched on tv 15 years ago) to draw a crowd. He also sent 2 friends (a man and a woman) both disguised as bearded vagrant types to try to throw Billy off his game. None of it mattered as Sully sold just over $600 worth (including the "Marks") while Billy sold over $900 worth of a salsa maker that he also hasn't pitched in over 15 years.

The end of the show offered a tribute to Billy. So that was impressive to have the episode re-edited added onto to deal with Billy's death earlier this week. They'll also have a special tribute episode about him next Thursday.

I really didn't even know the name Billy Mays until last year. I'd seen the guy, but didn't pay attention to his name. I wasn't a big fan of his "shouting" style either, but it was effective. I will say that I give both of these guys a LOT of credit. They weren't just shills out there pushing anything. They cared about their reputations, and wouldn't pitch anything if it didn't work as advertised and wouldn't have a market. For instance, the magnetic arm toolbelt is one of those, "Why didn't I think of that" type of products, but OxyClean is what put Billy on the map and that was one of those "does it really work" things. I've read reviews of it, and yep, I guess it does. Anyway, Billy came across as intense, passionate, but a decent guy. In a week where the iconic "side man," "beauty," and "superstar" all died, Billy was the iconic "salesman" and his death at 50 also was much too soon. I don't know if this series will return, unless maybe "Sully" steps out from behind the camera, or Billy's son takes over for him...or they hire "Vince" who pitched the Sham-wow and the Slap-chop. Although that recent run in with the law probably wouldn't put Vince high on the list to succeed Billy.

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