Category: Shows

Yes! Tomorrow night TVD returns, and I’m not sure I can wait until Saturday to read Jules’ and Thomas Galvin’s blogs. PLUS we get a special sneak preview of spin-off The Originals. But wait, you may be thinking, didn’t we kinda have a backdoor pilot last season? Yes, yes we did, and according to this week’s EW, many of the scenes we’ll see tomorrow night will be lifted straight out of that episode. But we’re promised a doozy of an ending that will be sure to tide us over ( and have us chomping at the bit?) until the time-slot premiere Tuesday.


First the new ones. Sleepy Hollow premieres Monday, September 16, yes, you read that right: *this* Monday on Fox. I’m planning on watching it online.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesday 9/24 on ABC. IDK if I’ll be watching this one live or taped. Either way, I probably won’t be blogging about it. Since I’m not the one in control of the remote, it’s not fair to the other viewers to ask them to pause it while I type. And I watch so many shows online, it’s unfortunately too time consuming to rewatch any.

The Goldbergs 9/24 on ABC. I haven’t yet found a good way to recap comedies.

The Michael J. Fox Show, Thursday 9/26 on NBC. I’ll be watching this online.

MasterChef Junior, Friday 9/27 on Fox. Online.

Super Fun Night. Maybe, and if so, online. Premieres Wednesday, October 2 on ABC.

The Originals. Online. Tuesday 10/8 on the CW.

OUAT Wonderland Thursday 10/10 on ABC. Same as for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Reign Thursday 10/17 on the CW. Ditto.

Enlisted on Fox has been pushed back to January 10, 2014.

Now for the returning shows.

X-Factor returned on Wednesday, but I haven’t watched it yet. Admittedly, this year I only want to watch about 28 shows, but I dropped The Voice last year because it ate up so much of my time. I haven’t decided for sure if I’m going to watch either or both yet. The Voice doesn’t premiere until the 23rd.

DWTS. I’ll be watching this live. I probably won’t be live-blogging it until after Bill Nye is voted off, since the only reason I’ll be watching it live is that the lady who owns the TV will be watching it for him. I will, however, be voting for anyone and everyone other than Snooki.

Castle returns to ABC 9/23. Same as DWTS.

HIMYM Final season returns on CBS 9/23. Online.

CSI Original Recipe. CBS, 9/25. Probably live under the same caveats.

Modern Family, ABC. 9/25. Online.

Grey’s. 9/26 on ABC. Online.

The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) 9/26 on CBS. No clue. I know my friend wants to watch both OUAT Wonderland and Reign, but DirectTV is charging more than she can afford for a multi-channel DVR. I don’t think this will be one to bite the dust, though.

Glee returns to Fox on 9/26. We know why they had to push the return date. Expect the memorium for the third episode, from what I’ve heard. I’ll be watching online.

Hawaii 5-0 moves to Fridays opposite Grimm (I might note that in November Bones also moves to this timeslot, and will thereafter be dropped from our viewing list) on CBS. 9/27. I don’t know which we’ll tape and which we’ll watch live, but I probably won’t be able to blog either.

TAR returns to CBS on Sunday 9/29. I’ll be watching online.

OUAT Original Recipe also returns to ABC that night and will be watched live. It’ll again be followed by Revenge, which I’ll watch online.

TVD stealth-Salvatores its way back to the CW on 10/3.

The Biggest Loser has Jillian back and Ruben Studdard, and has finally reduced it’s bloated programming to one concise hour Tuesday nights on NBC. I may be watching this online starting 10/9, since it premiers 10/8.

Last but by no means least, Grimm returns to eat our brains (what? Too soon?) on October 25.

Please feel free to weigh in with which shows you plan to watch and whether or not you really wish I *would* blog about any of the above. I should note that anything I watch online I may not always be able to get to the next day. Currently the users of aren’t as quick about uploading decent links as they are at

At least the former seems to have less spam and viruses (not to mention pop up ads) than the latter.

Happy Watching!

Nina Lisa

It’s no secret, if you’ve been following this blog, that I’m rooting for Luca tonight. So I’m extra hyped to see they flew in his father and sister from Italy.

They have ten minutes in the pantry to get all the ingredients for a three-course dinner that they’ll serve to the judges in the MC restaurant.

They have an hour for their appetizers, which I’m not going to name without the assistance of the chryon. But the announcer reiterates that Natasha’s involves seared scallops, seaweed salad, and couscous, while Luca’s searing duck liver. Gordon talks to Natasha about her dish; Graham talks to Luca. Joe is concerned about sweetness, but Luca corrects him that one of the components has lemon and ginger for acidity. Oh, and while I’m thinking of it, I want to say right now I’m not going to be covering any talking heads, especially Jordan and Krissi.

The two bring their dishes to the usual table, and the judges ask Natasha what she thinks of Luca’s dish. She thinks it looks heavy. The judges head into the restaurant.

Natasha gets to go first, although I have my doubts about Gordon referring to her as a lady. Seared scallops with couscous and seaweed salad. Joe likes it. Gordon says it’s delicious and the scallops are cooked perfectly. Graham really likes the couscous.

Luca sets his dish on the table and then we break for commercial, which gives me time to pose a question I’ve been wondering for some time now: How do the cheftestants keep their dishes warm while they’re waiting for the judges to sample the other dishes ahead of them?

Luca’s plate is seared duck liver with brioche and peaches.  There’s also what he calls an Asian pear chutney. Gordon says it needed another 90 seconds. Graham says it was very rich and if the entrée’s heavy, it could be a mistake. Joe thinks it’s a masterpiece. The cheftestants head back to clear their stations while the judges confer. Graham reminds them they want all three courses to be cohesive. They head out to watch the next hour.

Natasha’s preparing monkfish, Luca’s making beef short ribs and using a pressure cooker to get them done in time. This time, Graham talks to Natasha about how she’s wrapping her fish in tripe. With ten minutes left, Luca has to open the pressure cooker. Everyone counts down as the cheftestants finish plating. They ask Natasha’s opinion of Luca’s dish again, and again she picks at it.

She’s serving five-spice monkfish with rice and coconut curry. Now, that’s an interesting combo. The only five-spice I’m aware of is Chinese five spice, which would not go well with the spices in curry. Perhaps she threw five spices on the monkfish and so that’s why she’s calling it that?

Gordon thinks it looks divine. Graham says the cook on the monkfish is awesome, but the spice is a little hot. Joe says the complexity is amazing, and Gordon says she’s elevated curry. Evidently the monkfish is also the hardest fish to get right.

Luca presents his braised beef short ribs with chanterelle mushrooms. Gordon says it looks fantastic, and the judges start to pull the ribs apart with their forks. I will note that Luca said the ribs would be tender if they fell off the fork. I can’t tell from the shot before the commercial break if they were tough or tender, although I’m leaning toward the latter.

Gordon says he barely has to touch his knife to it before it comes apart, and they’re brilliant. He’s afraid he’s going to die, but he’s glad this was his last supper. Joe wants to make a reservation at his restaurant already. Graham is also complimentary. The chefs return to the station while the judges discuss, and this time, I can see there’s definitely an audience there. I’ll have to check into getting tickets next season.

When the judges come out, Gordon tells them their dishes are better than any finale to date, and they’re basically tied. They have an hour for dessert, and it turns out they’re both making panna cotta. Natasha’s making two, so I hope that doesn’t work. I’m a bit more worried about Luca, who’s putting a salad into his. There’s some kerfuffle about his forgetting to strain something green before the commercial break.

Evidently it’s the whole panna cotta, and he has to start over. He claims there’s enough time for it to set. Natasha’s already set her base in the fridge, but later has to toss one because it didn’t set. She’s actually cut them, whereas his looks like soup in his bowl.

What Natasha didn’t toss is a coconut yogurt panna cotta with passion fruit coulis and edible flower arrangements. Gordon scrapes his plate clean and reaches for Graham’s.  He says it’s the perfect ending to her meal, and Joe agrees that the yogurt helps clear the palate after the spicy monkfish. He does wonder if it’s a little too simple, though.

Luca has a basil panna cotta with tomato jam and honey mascarpone. He says there’s also granulate basil. Gordon thinks it looks like an appetizer and not a dessert. Gordon says the texture is sublime, and seems savory but not sweet unless you add the tomato jam, which makes it explode. Graham knows it’s Luca on a plate. Joe thinks he should’ve structured the dish differently and layered it so they were sure to get all the flavors in every bite.

Well, I think there’ve been a couple technical difficulties with Luca’s dishes, and I suspect that those minor quibbles may cost him the title. We go to break with the judges pretending they’re going to have a draw for the first time.

When we come back, Gordon repeats that question, and Joe says they can’t. Graham says one person has the slightest of edges, and they head back out. I’m going to stop typing and cross my fingers. And Luca wins! Yay! The moment is only spoiled by my friend’s undying cynicism, but I don’t want to get into that right now. I’m just counting myself lucky I could actually live blog this instead of having to watch it tomorrow, especially since I have yet to see the SYTYCD finale.

I’m starting a bit late with this. Luca just picked Natasha as his teammate for tonight’s first ever team mystery box challenge. Three dishes from 50 ingredients; one from each state, and 60 minutes to do it in.

It doesn’t sound like either member of either team is listening to the other one, especially when Krissi comes up with an ingredient Jessie wasn’t aware of. Luca’s idea doesn’t sound like it’s going over well with the judges, either.

Krissi continues screwing up everything she touches, which pisses Jessie off. She gave up on the lobster salad, so Jessie takes over and asks her to do the lamb and dessert. But the crust Jessie gives her hasn’t been chilled or anything, so she asks about making a crepe. Except she doesn’t know how to make crepes, so while Jessie tries to talk her through it, she says she’s not comfortable. Which makes Jessie retort, “Babe, you abandoned me on the lobster, so you gotta pick something you can cook.” Best line of the night! Of course, it sets Krissi off in her usual threats of physical harm, and she stomps off in a huff. Oh, please, eliminate her for that! Especially because she left the lamb too rare, and Jessie has to sear them to finish them with two minutes left. About then, Krissi grabs a mixer and whips up a dessert. It’s not a bad idea: Chantilly cream, toasted macadamia nuts, and chopped, cooked apples.

Blue team presents a seafood trio for their appetizer. It’s a lobster tail, a scanty piece of trout, and a fried oyster, with avocado puree and mango sauce. It looks like crap, and Joe calls them on it. He says it tastes good, but could’ve been great. The entrée is rack of lamb with parsnip puree and roasted beets. Gordon says the lamb is delicious and the puree is also good. Presentation and the beets, not so much. Their dessert is a deconstructed strawberry tart with vanilla pastry cream. As Graham says, it looks interesting. Since their crust wasn’t working and they were running short on time, that’s what they wound up with. Like their appetizer, it didn’t really work, though.

Red team brings up a cold lobster salad with citrus vinaigrette. There are no green beans on the plate. Krissi tells Joe what it is, but it turns out that Jessie redid the vinaigrette. Joe thinks it’s good, but could use something like a bit of mango or some more citrus. Their main dish is also rack of lamb, with Swiss chard, a red wine jus, and roasted beets. Jessie didn’t have time to cook the lamb, and when Gordon asks about it, she admits it. Krissi butts in with, “The lamb was not cooked properly, in my opinion.” FINALLY, Gordon calls her on it. “Krissi, why do you always let other members in your team take over and then say nothing, but then throw them under the bus when it comes to taking responsibility?” Yes! She claims it reflects on her, and that she had to go take five minutes to calm down. Jessie says she had to finish the lamb. Krissi claims she thought it was in the oven. I wish the losing team didn’t have to do a pressure test to determine who gets to go home, because it needs to be Krissi. She shouldn’t have even gotten this far.

Luckily, Jessie saved the lamb. Graham asks Krissi to walk him through her dessert. The chryon says it’s an apple tart with Chantilly cream, but we know there’s no crust. It’s not the restaurant quality dessert the judges were looking for, but he says it’s a good effort. They like how the blue team worked together, but Jessie almost saved the red team entirely on her own. But the blue team won, and Gordon compliments them on working well together and not giving up at any point. As usual, Krissi doesn’t take the blame for contributing to her team’s loss. Jessie goes upstairs to vent to Luca and Natasha, and Krissi comes up to confront them. We cut to commercial after plenty of producer pushed posturing.

The pressure test is a chocolate mousse, according to Graham, which puts a smile on Krissi’s face, and Jessie also feels quite confident. Until Joe steps forward, and reveals he wants a chocolate molten lava cake. Krissi still looks happy. Jessie still looks confident. Gordon’s dessert is a chocolate soufflé. The girls still look happy. They have 75 minutes to make all three desserts, which must be presented at the same time. The ingredients are at their stations, and after some minor insults, the girls get to work. Jessie even takes her shoes off to run around better. Natasha knows Krissi’s a baker, and can probably do this, but she notes Krissi’s mousse is a bit thick as the ladies put them in the fridge.

The judges think it’s going to be too close to call, but it looks like Krissi’s falling behind in time for the soufflés. Or at least, that’s what we’re supposed to think, as we cut to commercial with less than 15 minutes left as she puts them in the oven. Soon after we come back, it’s less than 5, and then there’s about two and she takes them out. The judges don’t think it’s done, but she’s confident. I’m pretty sure soufflés take longer than ten minutes, but they’ve got to do the lava cakes, and with one second left, she gets the lava cake down, which upsets me, Natasha, and Jessie.

Graham tries both soufflés, and says nothing. He tells the other judges Krissi’s was raw, then turns around and gives it to Jessie. Graham’s chocolate mousse is up next. I misunderstood the earlier comments; Jessie has the denser mousse, so it goes to Krissi. Now it’s up to Joe, and if I wasn’t eating, I’d hold my breath. Both lava cakes have fallen, but Jessie’s looks worse, and Joe calls it more raw than molten. We hear Joe tell the others that Jessie’s crust was just a bit better. He comes back out and says the decision was based on the most minute details, so I’d cross my fingers if I a) wasn’t busy typing and b) know a commercial break is coming up. Of course I fast forward, but have to stop and watch the trailer for MasterChef Junior. I’ll be watching that online.

When Joe talks about one having the crispiness and chewiness they were looking for, I’m very happy. After he says the person going to the semi-finals is Jessie, he claims it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his life. Gordon tells Krissi she has the right to her attitude, and Joe invites her and her son to dinner with him and his mother. She thinks Luca’s going to win. Ding dong!

I fast forward through the three remaining chefs’ journeys, and manage to catch up with the show. The judges show off the prizes under mystery boxes. Tonight’s final mystery box is interesting: they each have to make an elevated version of the dish that got them their apron. Of course, the winner gets, as Gordon calls it, “a life-changing” advantage.

Jessie says she’s elevating her plating. Luca thinks Graham will finally say yes to his dish. Natasha’s trying to enhance her flavors. Gordon tells Luca his sauce is off, and he has to start over. Luca’s panicking, as there’s less than ten minutes to go, and his freakish inability to make his national food under pressure is kicking in yet again. Natasha’s up first. Her audition dish was empanadas with skirt steak and what I can now recognize as a chimichurri sauce. The presentation on her final is gorgeous, and she also has a roasted corn puree. Gordon’s very happy with it. She tells Graham she put a little lard in the crust this time for flakiness, but it’s still a little thick. Joe tells her it was a smart dish, and he thinks she can win.

Graham calls Luca up. His broccoli rabe ravioli presentation also looks better, and Graham really likes it, but the sauce didn’t quite make it. Gordon asks him why cheese sauce? He says with the toasted pine nuts a brown butter sauce would’ve been better, but he knows Luca comes back from every knock he’s given. Jessie’s presentation of her sea bass en croute is also incredible, and she did a great job as well, according to Joe. Graham has a minor criticism on her presentation.

They’re ranking the dishes, and I’m not surprised to find Luca’s third. As usual, we have a commercial break before we find out who wins. It’s Jessie, but all three get to go into the pantry. Jessie will get to pick from three ingredients and Natasha gets to pick from the remaining two, which means she also picks for Luca. The three ingredients are a wheel of Grana Padano cheese, Kobe beef, and King crab. Crab is not a good ingredient for Luca, and both Jessie and Natasha know that. Jessie picks the beef, even tho she’s never worked with it. Gordon tells her it *is* similar to filet mignon, but more unforgiving. Joe asks Luca which of the two he’s most afraid of, and Luca asks Brer Fox not to throw him in that briar patch.

Natasha claims she knows what Jessie wants her to do but she’s got her own strategy. We have the obligatory commercial break before she reveals it, of course, and she hands Luca what he wanted, the Italian cheese. They have five minutes to pick out additional ingredients. I have no clue what I’d do with cheese. The judges tell us it’s very salty. Luca’s stuffing a veal cutlet with the cheese, and he’s also making a cheese and onion tart that Joe’s quite familiar with. That sounds good. Turns out Jessie’s forgotten to get butter. I know Luca would give it to her, but Gordon suggests Natasha, and she asks Natasha for a tablespoon. Natasha looks at her three sticks and back at Jessie before we cut to commercial. After, Natasha smirks and shakes her head. As Jessie heads back to her station, Luca throws her a stick. The judges make the obligatory comments about maybe he just threw away a quarter of a million dollars, but my respect for his chivalry has not diminished.

He’s up first. He presents Joe with pancetta wrapped veal with Grana Padano and sage and Frico (the cheese and onion dish). Joe tells him the Frico is exactly what it should be, but it’s very rich, and he should’ve added some acidity to cut through the fat. Gordon asks him if he seasoned the veal, but Luca knows the cheese was enough. Gordon says he bounced back after being knocked down. Graham commends him on showing a technique that he hasn’t done before, but isn’t thrilled with the presentation.

Gordon calls Natasha up with her King crab cold yakisoba salad with vegetables. She even has pickled radishes on the side. As she lists the ingredients, I wonder if she’s overpowered the crab meat, but Gordon says it’s incredible and bursts with flavor. He thinks it tastes even better than it looks, and if it weren’t for Joe and Graham having to have a taste, he’d just keep eating. Joe tells her she showcased the crab in a very, very smart way. Graham loves that she used Serrano peppers.

Jessie brings Joe her dish. He takes us out to commercial by asking her if she’s insane for picking an ingredient she’s never used before. When we come back, she describes her seared Kobe beef with ponzu butter and noodles. A quick Google search shows me ponzu sauce is a Japanese citrus sauce. And then Graham asks her to explain it to him, and she says she melted the butter with the ponzu in it, so I Google ponzu. Soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, and fish flakes. Yeah, I wouldn’t put that on beef, and Graham agrees with me. She also made a papaya salad with those flavors, but chose to leave it off the plate. Gordon persuades her to let them try it, and tell her that choice was not a good one. I think it might be Luca and Natasha.  Gordon names Natasha first, and now I’m more certain than ever that Luca’s going through, and I’m right. The judges praise Jessie, and Joe offers her a job.

The nice thing about Bollywood as an opening number is Nigel can’t trot out his “I’m sure you’ve just insulted a lot of people with your hand movements” comment. We get it, Nigel. The hand movements have to be precise, and they seldom are. Move on.

Cat looks fab, but has to prod the audience to express more disappointment when she says she has bad news for the second week in a row. Why don’t you just tell us, Cat, and then we’ll know how disappointed to be? Yeah, I’m in a mood today.

The bad news is Tucker has a knee infection, so he wasn’t able to rehearse a lot. Does that mean he won’t be dancing tonight? Cat tells us it does mean he’s automatically in the bottom three next week. Not good; isn’t Top 10 when the judges’ save goes away? I don’t know.

Speaking of judges, Kenny Ortega is the guest judge tonight, and I have to pause here to ask why is it only the guest judges seem to remember to congratulate the choreographers? Although at least they never seem to blame the dancers for a poorly-choreographed routine. Anyway, yay, Kenny! I notice he’s not on Twitter. Smart man. My account is only active when I publish these blog entries these days. I always thought that if you joined Twitter, you’d get to follow your favorite celebs and they’d follow you back and you’d get to kinda tweet with them. But none of mine are following me back. C’est la vie.

Bottom three guys: Alan, Nico, Tucker. Oh, dear. I’m going to be losing a favorite if Tucker or Alan goes. Bottom three girls: Jenna, Malece, Amy. What? America, are you on drugs? Amy and Tucker are NOT who I thought I’d see there. Nigel confirms Tucker can dance tonight, then sends Nico and Jenna to the top ten. Why not Amy? The top ten separates the couples anyway.

Solos. I think Tucker truly is dancing for his life. So does Amy. Malece seems to be, too, but I liked Amy’s routine better. Alan’s certainly giving it his all, but I think if he doesn’t enter into whatever character he has later in the show, he’s gone.

Hayley and Nico – Broadway – Sean Cheeseman. It looks contemporary to me, so I don’t pay a lot of attention, which means when Nigel starts talking about the great lifts, I have to rewind, and holy crap! That one leg over the shoulder is incredible. Mary commends Nico’s passion and power. Kenny is equally effusive.

Malece and Alan – Jazz – Mandy Moore. I’m glad they drew this style; I think Alan’s comfortable in it, but I’m really not getting any chemistry from them. Kenny tells Malece she sparkled, but agrees with me about the lack of chemistry. Nigel does as well, and calls them on their technique. Mary feels like she’s on the hot seat, but agrees about the technique. She claims she saw chemistry, but I think these two are gone.

Jenna and Tucker – Paso Doble – Jean Marc. Evidently either Tucker’s solo screwed him up so he couldn’t dance this number, or he just missed too much rehearsal time, because Alex Wong is dancing in his place. I’m delighted to see Alex, but worried what this might mean for Tucker. I think I’d rather keep him than Alan. Jenna’s not doing too badly, but I can’t take my eyes off Alex, who’s busy proving why he’s an All Star. Our ballroom expert Mary loved it. Kenny says something in Spanish to Jenna which I think translates to “Jenna, Jenna, Jenna, I’ve never loved you more” except he says cara, which means heart. Then he says she’s at the top of his heart, so I guess that’s what it meant. Nigel makes a bad pirate joke (the theme of the routine) and reminds us Alex never had a chance to dance ballroom in his own season.

Makenzie and Paul – Contemporary – Mandy Moore. Gah. Can I just fast-forward through this? I’m watching it on Thursday afternoon, after all. OK, thanks! Well, everyone’s on their feet, so I guess it was good. I fast forward through him, too, when he starts complimenting them on their breathing, of all things (yeah, I know, breath control’s important). Mary’s full of praise for both of them and she calls out something that makes me rewind to try to catch it, but I can’t figure out what she’s seeing, if I got the right moment. I just couldn’t deal with it. Kenny makes them very happy when he tells them they’re two of his favorite dancers.

Amy and Fik-Shun – Viennese Waltz – Jean-Marc. JM has a very interesting concept for this piece. Since it’s their last dance together as a couple (the Top ten dance with All Stars from now on, in case you’ve never seen this show before), he tells them to dance it as themselves having a victory lap over how well they’ve done to get this far. And it’s simply beautiful. I think Fik-Shun’s shoulders might be a little high at times, but he is, as they say, there for her and has no trouble at all with some lifts that I’ve seen more powerfully built men struggle through. I’m looking forward to Mary’s critique, if she can get it out through her tears. She says there were some technique problems, but that Fik-Shun took the note about the shoulders. Kenny thinks Fik-Shun could figure out a way to fly if a choreographer asked him to. Nigel says he was transported to the Viennese palace with them and remarks on Fik-Shun’s improvement. He refrains from flat out telling Amy she’s safe, but I’m not too worried now.

Jasmine and Aaron – Hip hop – Tabitha and Napoleon. I love it. Hope the judges do, too. And America. Well, the judges are on their feet, along with the audience, so . . .

Kenny praises Nappy Tabs. Nigel tells Jasmine that he didn’t know the pelvic girdle could move like that anatomically. He’s always got something like that to say. Mary calls the routine money.

Boys Men – Hip Hop – Nappy Tabs. Tucker’s sitting this one out, too. It’s pretty fab, tho. Nigel calls Alan out, so I’m pretty sure he’s gone. Nigel just seems to have been against him from Day one. Mary and Kenny liked it, and Kenny commends Alan. I admit it; I don’t want any of the guys to go home.

Girls – Contemporary – Stacey Tookey. I’m sure it was fine. The judges are standing again, and Mary’s crying. No one says anything that makes me want to go back and actually watch the routine. Mary says they’re the top six girls out of all ten seasons. Kenny calls them divas in the making, which is a compliment when you know the original meaning. Nigel agrees with Mary and says they all looked like professional contemporary dancers. In this case, I wouldn’t mind if Malece went home.

Nigel agrees with what I saw during the solos: All four really fought to remain. Nigel says he doesn’t have a lot to do with the tour, but will recommend the two going home as alternates for it. He adds that it’s unanimous before he sends Malece and Alan home. I agree.

So many stories intertwine on this show that it’s easier to recount them story by story rather than the show from beginning to end.

Bay and Ty: Bay goes to visit Ty on base. While he looks damn good in that tank top, I’m not sure they’re allowed under the uniform shirt. I think they have to be T-shirts, and I don’t know if you can still wear black with desert cammys. At any rate, she has some lame ideas and one possible to get him out of his redeployment. He explains that it’s a commitment he made, and that’s part of dating someone in the military. He asks her to go camping the next day, and she plans to use the old “play one parent off against the other” ploy. I think that’s only going to work until Regina figures out she’s being used, but she surprises me by telling Bay to tell her she’s going camping with Mac and MaryBeth as well so she’s not lying when she tells John Bay said she was going camping with friends. Except she is, because she knows Bay’s only going camping with Ty. It’s similar to the Lie of Omission, Regina.

Of course, the camping trip goes about as well as I expected it would, but not in the way I expected it to. Turns out Ty’s still pissed over seeing Bay and Emmett’s onscreen kiss, so he takes her to a jump tower to find out what she’s made of. She jumps, but starts freaking out and waving her arms and legs, which makes him unable to hold the rope steady enough to belay her down safely. She lands hard and, when he admits he’s still jealous, limps off in a huff. I think she’ll wind up lost or something, but instead after about two hours (and well after dark), she limps back to camp. When Ty tells her he thought she was dead, she points out that was how she felt when she heard his chopper had gone down and she didn’t know if he was on it. And it’s how she’s going to feel every day while he’s redeployed. In a surprisingly mature move, she admits that despite this, it was stupid of her to make him worry like that and apologizes. It’s a straight out “I screwed up and I’m sorry” apology, too, none of this wishy washy “I’m sorry you feel that way” non-apologies that seem to be floating around these days.

She adds that her ankle is hurt more than she thought it was (that’s what comes of walking around for two hours on a sprained ankle without doing anything for it), and Ty decides to leave all their expensive camping equipment out so he can get her to an ER right away. After she’s gotten a boot on her foot and a pair of crutches, he says they can talk to her dad about getting him out of the redeployment.

Daphne/Jace/Senator Coto: Unexpectedly, Jace seems to be more into having a relationship with Daphne than I thought he would be. He views their fight as a milestone, not as the difference in values coming out as it truly is. Daphne tells him she still needs time to process it. At work, the intern who was having an affair with Senator Coto asks her if she told anyone, because Senator Coto knows it’s out there now. Then one of Senator Coto’s aides tells her she’s up for Intern of the Year, and Coto wants to interview her the next day. She fakes being sick, but Katherine’s not fooled by her fake cough. But instead of making Daphne go to work, she decides they should both play hooky at the club spa, instead. Wish I had a rich friend who’d take me there.

Unfortunately, they run into Senator Coto’s wife at the spa. While Daphne excuses herself to call Jace and freak out over the texts they sent him, Diana quizzes Katherine about anything Daphne might’ve said about her husband’s affair. Katherine freaks out, and practically accuses Daphne of having the affair. Daphne is horrified, and decides to go into work, since Jace persuaded her she needs to act like nothing’s wrong. Regrettably, Senator Coto makes it clear, without coming right out and saying so, that he knows Daphne’s behind the blackmail text she and Jace sent. Maybe they shouldn’t have used Jace’s phone? Jace is still power tripping over the fact they got him to change his vote on a sex education vs. abstinence bill, and while Daphne’s been scared straight, he wants to keep going. Daphne breaks up with him, so he decides to proceed on his own. This still won’t end well for her.

Toby and Nikki: While having lunch with her mother, Nikki asks if her father was a drug dealer. Her mother acknowledges this fact, and after Nikki runs off, tells Toby she couldn’t think of a way to tell her without getting that same reaction. Later, Nikki almost literally throws herself at Toby, telling him she doesn’t want to wait for marriage before they have sex. But since the Kennishes raised him right, Toby holds her off and talks to her about what she’s going through. They have a brief dispute about whether or not they should have the wedding in the church. Katherine, on her way to the spa with Toby, overhears him telling Nikki he doesn’t want to marry her when she’s like this. So it’s quite a letdown when he approaches her later with a request to hold the wedding at the house, instead of calling it off as I’m sure she’d hoped he would.

With all the downer storylines this episode, it was nice to have one that was quite positive. Emmett and Melody accompany Cameron and his girlfriend when Cameron gets his cochlear implant turned on. Sean Berdy does a wonderful job of portraying Emmett’s conflict over his feeling betrayed by his father’s step into the hearing world and perhaps a bit of envy, as Cameron hears himself talking for the first time. Later, at the house, as he’s getting ready to play the drums for his father, he asks him what the implant is like. He finds it hard to believe that just overnight, one can hear. Later, there’s a moment between Melody and Cam that he watches, and I’m afraid he thinks they might be getting back together, even as Cam hands over his audiologist’s phone number to Melody. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Anthony Natale (Cameron) has a CI in real life, but I was surprised to find out that most insurance companies consider it an elective surgery. Yes, it is in the sense that some deaf people are quite happy without it (as is Marlee Matlin herself, from what I understand), and yes, there are even others in the deaf community whose sense of self is threatened by all these advances to bring them into the hearing world, and I can understand that. But for those that want it, it can improve their quality of life, so I think it should be covered under any health insurance policy.

So, last week I was sick, and Bri went home. Put those two words together and you get homesick, which is probably what the contestants are right now. So it’s kinda cool that we know they’ll get to see their families tonight.

Unfortunately, Krissi’s family, her son, is the only one who can’t make it, but he made a video for her, and Gordon puts his arm around her as they watch it. She’s in tears and so is pretty much everyone else.  The families go up to the gallery, and the contestants have 60 minutes to run into the pantry and grab up to 15 items to cook a dish that is inspired by their families.

Luca’s making risotto, which is his wife’s favorite dish. I’m a bit concerned, as are the judges, given his track record. Jessie’s happiness over seeing her parents is a bit dampened when they turn the mezzanine into a peanut gallery and start critiquing her. Natasha forgot to grab chicken stock, but she’s got a lot of veggies and is making her own vegetable stock, which will probably add more flavor to her curry (and less salt) than the prepared stuff.

Natasha is the first called up. She presents a green curry with coconut, corn, and rice. The corn is roasted. Joe says it’s judiciously spiced and while the corn is not traditional, it works. Graham says it’s beautifully balanced and thinks she might win. Gordon says it’s delicious.

Graham calls forward Jessie. It’s seared duck breast with Brussels sprouts and blackberry reduction. That sounds good. She roasted them with a bit of pancetta and pecans. I’ll have to try that. I’ve done Brussels sprouts with butter, brown sugar and toasted pecans, but I haven’t gone savory with them that way.

And amazingly enough, Luca is called up. Traditional Italian dishes have been his downfall, but the judges were talking about his main component all night. He made pan seared halibut with white asparagus risotto. That sounds really yummy. White asparagus has a slightly more delicate flavor than green, so I can see it pairing well with white fish. (Green asparagus pairs well with salmon).

Gordon tells him he’s starting to think like a chef, and tells him well done. Joe, the fellow Italian, is up next. He says Luca delivered what they asked for. I have no idea who’s won, but as Gordon talks about amazing restraint, which I think he also said to Luca, I hold out hope. Of course, we have to have a commercial break before he says the name.

And my surmise is correct. The families have to say good-bye before Luca gets to see the ingredients. As the judges congratulate him and take him into the back, Jordon, Jessie and Natasha group up while Natasha whines about how he’s going to target her. She’s not wrong. Jordan, of course, is pissed Luca won instead of anyone else.

The judges tell Luca they’ve already picked what everyone else will be cooking, but he still has plenty of advantages. This will be the tag-team sushi challenge. Luca doesn’t have to compete, and will pick the teams. There’ll be three teams of two. This should be interesting.

I see some tempura, as well. Krissi’s not happy. And when Gordon tells them the good news is they won’t be working alone, none of them look happy. James will be working with Jordan. I’m surprised because I think they’ll do well together. Neither are sure what he’s thinking.

Luca confirms he’s got a target on Natasha, and he puts Krissi with her. But Natasha’s planning on using her for prep work, and Krissi’s just fine with that. This leaves Jessie with Eddie. And now Gordon reveals the tag-team twist. James, Eddie, and Krissi are all starting. They need to rinse the rice and get it started, then start on the tempura batter.

Jessie appears to also be using Eddie as a prep cook. The judges seem to think that the pairings are good; James and Jordan both have big egos (although James is quieter about it, which is why I like him and not Jordan), and the judges see that clashing. Eddie, it appears, doesn’t know what he’s doing, and they’re not sure Jessie’s strong enough to pull him through. The teams switch, and they’ve got sea urchins to deal with. Gordon has to come over and tell Jordan not to use his fingers, and not to rinse the umi. Commercials.

Natasha and Krissi review their plan before the next switch. Jessie claims she’s confident in Krissi’s ability to slice the tuna; the judges aren’t so sure. They’re switching every five minutes. Krissi is being amazingly subservient, so it’s working. Jordan and James appear to be falling apart, and Jessie and Eddie are also lagging. Another switch and it’s time to do the tempura. One switch left. Joe says he sees platters not even half done.

Natasha’s working super-fast, Jordan appears to be lost, and so does Jessie. 30 seconds left, and people, including Graham, are jumping up and down with the excitement. Even I’m typing faster. Time runs out. I’m not sure, from the grunt Jordan lets out, if they got the last piece on the plate or not, but I know we’ll rehash it after the break.

James tells him, “We did it.” so I guess so. Krissi and Natasha are up first.  Gordon tells them he’s impressed, because at 2:50, they had nothing on the plate. Graham asked if they’re taking 50-50 credit, and Natasha says yes. Joe asks Luca if he thinks his plan worked. Luca admits it didn’t. Natasha says he’s her next target.

Jordan and James are next. Evidently, they forgot salt a couple times, and their shrimp rolls look like crap as Joe shows it to them. They laugh, although I think it’s nervously (because I’ve done that), and Gordon gets upset at them for doing so. Then he gets to tear the plate apart himself. I can only hope that Jordan will be the one to go home if they’re the worst.

Eddie and Jessie bring up their tray, and it looks horrible. Graham confirms that Jessie has sushi experience, but the fish isn’t butchered well and that’s on Jessie. The rice, which Eddie did, is overpowered by vinegar. Eddie insists it was 50-50, and so does Jessie. Joe confirms their sentiments, but disagrees. He asks Eddie if he’d eat the umi roll, and as Eddie looks very uncomfortable, we head to commercial. I wouldn’t eat it, but I don’t eat a lot of sushi. I don’t particularly care for it. The closest I want to come to raw fish is ceviche. I don’t know if they’ll send Eddie home for incompetence, or Jessie for not being strong enough to pull him through. The latter choice doesn’t seem all that fair, but I’m not sure they won’t. As I suspected, Eddie refuses to eat it.

I’m also not surprised when Natasha and Krissi win. Gordon compliments Krissi on being humble and dedicated. James and Jordan are also safe, due to the technical ability on fileting the fish. And Eddie is gone. I don’t like it, but it’s fair.  Gordon tells him to open the gastro pub because he’s an amazing cook.

Next week:  Lynn, Bri, and Bemi, whose name I’ve forgotten how to spell, return for a second chance. I’d be happy to see any of them back. Jordan, of course, is pissed, and I’m sure Krissi and Natasha feel the same way, especially given how much they hate Bri. See you then. NT

Anna Kendrick is tonight’s guest judge, and she’s not much better than last week’s Carly Rae Jepson in that she knows nothing about dance except what she likes. I guess nowadays you just have to be a celebrity fan of the show to be a guest judge. At least some of them have *some* dance background, like Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Christina Applegate.

Cat is all dolled up and looks gorg. Opening number seems like Sonya, and it is. Plus Dmitri Chapin, who’s getting more work here than on DWTS. I don’t know why America hates Alan and Jasmine. They’re both incredible dancers. Hey, Cyrus is the one who dumped her, remember? Be nice if they just send Curtis home, since he’s injured this week and has been in the bottom three forever. None of the guys have to solo, but Alexis and for some reason, Jasmine do. I have no clue why the judges saved Makenzie. I hope Jasmine and Alan kill it in their respective routines.

And now it’s time for the routines, including a couple of “mini-group” ones. I have 10.5 hours of TV to catch up on, and still hope to blog some of it, so I’m just gonna get right to it and make this quick and dirty.

Tucker & Jenna. Luther Brown, Hip hop. I’m not feeling it. Nigel agrees with me.

Alexis and Nico. Sonya. Contemporary. Alexis is doing her best to kill it emotionally. I’m still not feeling the routine, but I’m blaming Sonya for that, because I was turned off by how she described it. Mary loved it.

Hayley and Curtis. Miriam and Leonard, Argentine Tango. No wonder Curtis hurt his shoulder – those lifts are crazy. Leonardo steps in for him, and Haley does a beautiful job of keeping up with him and keeping the attitude required for this dance. The judges all agree with me.

Makenzie and Paul. Sonya, Jazz. Normally I have a hard time distinguishing contemporary from jazz, but I can see how this seems to be harder hitting. I like it.

Jasmine and Aaron. Justin Giles, Contemporary. I love these two second only to Amy and Fik-Shun. I even enjoy this routine, and y’all know I’m not a fan of contemporary.

Amy and Fik-Shun. They have a Christopher Scott hip hop routine, and isn’t he the one that gave them their bell-boy routine a couple of weeks ago? I think Fik-Shun’s doing well to keep drawing his own style. They’re adorable as always, but perhaps a bit twee. I want to see them do Latin or something completely out of both their worlds. Amy slips and falls at one point, but makes it look like part of the routine, and Fik-Shun is able to wait for her to get to her place so they can synch up without it looking odd. Of course, the judges all have to call it out, but otherwise make positive comments.

Malece and Alan. Johnathan Platero, Salsa. I had to Google Johnathan to remember he was on Season 5 with Jeannine Mason. As a fan, I get so involved in these shows that I feel positive I’d recognize the kids if I saw them again, but not only did I not recognize Johnathan, Jeannine actually won and was in a class with me last year and I didn’t recognize her until one of the girls came out into the hall and said she’d spotted the credit on her resume.

It’s so good to see Alan in something close to his own style. He partners Malece quite well, but after seeing how well Haley did earlier, I can’t help but wish he was paired with her instead. I just can’t like Malece. Mary disagrees with me.

Spencer Liff – Broadway. Spencer steps in for Curtis in an incredible routine, and Nigel unfavorably compares Nico and Alan to him. Mary agrees.

Bonnie Story – Contemporary. It’s a beautiful routine, and I see Jasmine giving it her all as one of the bullies. The judges are on their feet, and I expect first-time SYTYCD choreographer Bonnie will get an Emmy nod for this. Mary calls Fik-Shun on his lack of technical skills but compliments him on his emotion (he was one of the ones being bullied). Nigel tells him to take the opportunity to add technique to his dance and he’ll be unstoppable.

Without any dilly-dallying, Nigel cuts Curtis and Alexis loose. That was the right call.

Nina Lisa

The chefestants open their mystery boxes to reveal meat grinders. The judges reveal a huge array of meat. It’s time to make sausages!

Krissi and James are excited. Good for him. Natasha also looks happy. Bleah. And of course, vegan Bri freaks, until she sees they’ve included vegetarian options such as tofu and tempeh. Eddie is beyond happy. I even see alligator. We hop right into it; the judges discussing what they’d use and how, then get to going around and tasting while a producer interviews the cheftestants. Both Joe and Graham check in with Bri, who decided to use the saitan instead of the tempeh. Krissi claims she has a go to Italian sausage recipe, while the full-blooded Italian appears to be having some problems. I really hope someone can take her down. Gordon points out that she’s never won a mystery box challenge; so I expect this to be the first. Damn. James is probably gone if she has as much control over the elimination challenge as previous winners.

Top 3. Natasha is called up first. She brings up a chicken sausage with fried egg and potato hash. Gordon questions her closely about it. He thinks it’s delicious. Graham thinks she did a great job. Joe tells her it’s really well seasoned and complex. As Graham monologues about the next dish, I cross my fingers because it sure sounds like he’s talking about Eddie. And he is. Eddie made pork sausage with purple cabbage and apple chutney. Yum. Graham says it’s a stellar dish. Gordon tells him he could see it in his gastro-pub.

When Joe monologues about Krissi, he says he could put her dish on his menu. She made Italian sausage with peppers and polenta. He also mentioned she’s never won a mystery box challenge. Foreshadowing. He calls her formidable. Gordon tells her he thinks she’s taking the competition more seriously than anyone else behind her, and tells her it’s her best performance so far. Gordon says the advantage is pivotal, so I’m just cringing. Actually, now that I think about it, I think Bri is in more danger than James.

I breathe a sigh of relief when Gordon says it’s the second mystery box win. Now it’s 50-50 to be Eddie, and I’m thankful when Gordon says his name. They reveal the following ingredients to him: Ham, wild mushrooms, and shrimp. He doesn’t have to cook, and he chooses the mushrooms. I’m a bit surprised, because usually we don’t see what the competitors choose for everyone else to cook with. And Gordon explains that not everyone is going to cook with them. Turns out that half of the remaining cooks will be using canned mushrooms, and Eddie gets to dictate who.

His target is on Jessie, James, and Jordan. Well, I wish he’d added Krissi to that list, but if he can get rid of Jordan, I’ll be happy. Jordon suspects Eddie gave him canned mushrooms, and so does Jessie. Surprisingly enough, James, Jordan, Bethy, and Bri all get the fresh mushrooms. Jordan says it’s an advantage. But Eddie’s plan is to make them forget it has to be the star of the dish. Jessie got canned mushrooms because, as a chef on a yacht, she’s probably used to working with expensive ingredients, and he thinks she’s never even seen them. Was she born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Eddie?

I just hope Krissi screws up her canned ones enough to get sent home. Joe picks up on the mind game Eddie’s playing with Jordan. Bethy forgot to get any form of sugar, so she has no recourse but to ask the others if they have any. Jordan gives her some. He doesn’t regard her as competition, so he wants to beat her at the top of her game, he explains.

I’m trying to figure out why Eddie gave the vegetarian fresh mushrooms, but as she explains her dish to Joe and Graham I don’t hear her mention mushroom anything. Sounds like the mind game Eddie was planning for Jordan is trapping her, instead. And Gordon even reminds Jordan to keep the mushroom the star of the dish. He tells everyone this when he tells them to plate. Bit late, there, Chef.

Bethy’s up first. She did Szechuan noodles with wild mushrooms. Graham asks her what she’d give it on a scale of 1-10. She says an 8. He says there seems to be a lot of noodle to mushroom. It’s overpoweringly sesame oil and ginger. Joe tells her she should’ve gone with something Euro-centric and refined. He also can only taste the sesame oil. She used too much, and Gordon tells her it looks like she’s got one foot out the door.

Natasha’s next. She presents a mushroom ravioli made with canned mushrooms, and crispy pancetta. She also made a mushroom cream sauce. Joe tells her it’s a good job. Gordon tells her she elevated a $1 can into a $10 dish. James is third. He has a wild mushroom chowder with crème fraiche and arugula. And because this sparked a discussion, chowder does not have to have seafood. Graham tells him it’s too heavy and rich. Joe tells him it is way too salty and he needed to edit himself

Jessie brings up a (canned) mushroom risotto with pancetta and leeks. Gordon tells her she managed to hide the processed food flavor. Luca, who also had canned mushrooms, has a cream of mushroom soup with vegetables and croutons. There’s a lot of veggies and croutons on the soup, so I hope it doesn’t overpower the soup. Although that’s the only way it could not be the star. Especially if he didn’t season it well. Then I see that they’re in the dish and he pours an extremely thick something on there. Graham says it’s a little thick to be soup, but the only thing he would’ve eliminated is the black truffle oil.

Krissi made a (canned) mushroom cassoulet with eggplant and pancetta. I saw her take the tray of eggplant slices out of the oven, and wondered if she was really making the mushroom the star of the dish. I guess we’ll see. Joe says it’s an impressive effort. Bri calls her dish “A Walk Through the Forest”, which is what appears on the chryon, so I guess I have to actually listen to what she says as she describes it. But first I’ll note the chryon also says “with Sage, beet, and goat cheese”.  She says the dish has grilled wild mushrooms with a beet and goat cheese salad, and Krissi goes off on her for being a vegan hippie. Graham says she did make the mushroom the star and it’s one of the best things she’s done. Joe tells her it’s cooked perfectly and he’d expect to get it at a vegetarian restaurant. He says he’s impressed.

Jordan presents a mushroom ravioli with beet cream sauce and fried wild mushrooms. So much for Eddie’s plan. Bethy’s still the only one that really screwed up. Thankfully, Gordon tells him he can’t tell the mushrooms apart. Joe tells him it looks like he had canned mushrooms. Turns out that Eddie just thought he’d overdo it, and he did. Joe says he brought two front runners to their knees. Wonder if that means he’ll go home? I can hope. But I’m going to guess it’ll be Bethy.

Eddie assures Natasha he thought she’d do well either way; he was after Jordan or James.  Natasha is announced first, and Bri wins dish of the night. They’ll be team captains next week. I want to note here that there seems to be an emphasis on the judges saying “at least one person” will be leaving. Gordon says that the first of the worst took fresh mushrooms and obliterated them. That could be Bethy, Jordan, or James. I’m hoping it’s Jordan, even though I know Bethy’ll be up there, too. In fact, I realize that all three of them will be up there. So there’s a greater chance that someone I like will be going home. Ugh. When he says it’s almost an embarrassment, I’m not surprised he calls forward Jordan. Joe calls forward James, and Graham calls Bethy. Gordon says Eddie put three of the strongest cooks on the bottom. James steps forward first. I think Jordan did worse. In fact, I think Jordan did worse than Bethy, but I also think Bethy did worse than James and I think he’s safe. Gordon thinks so, too. However, he disagrees that Bethy’s dish was better than Jordan’s, and she’s gone. She says Jessie’s going to win, and then we see her exit interview.

Next week, they’ll be camping out and cooking whatever nature provides. It looks like the pressure test is biscotti. Should be fun!

Nina Lisa

Here’re the fall premiere dates of the ABC shows I’ll be watching, as published by TVMI:

-“Dancing With the Stars” – Monday, Sept. 16: 8 p.m. ET (season premiere)
-“Castle” – Monday, Sept. 23: 10 p.m. ET (season premiere)
-“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – Tuesday, Sept. 24: 8 p.m. ET (series premiere)
-“Modern Family” – Wednesday, Sept. 25: 9 p.m. ET (season premiere, one hour)
-“Greys’ Anatomy” – Thursday, Sept. 26: 9 p.m. ET (season premiere, two hours)
-“Once Upon a Time” – Sunday, Sept. 29: 8 p.m. ET (season premiere)
-“Revenge” – Sunday, Sept. 29: 9 p.m. ET (season premiere)
-“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” – Thursday, Oct. 10: 8 p.m. ET (series premiere)

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