Above, a holiday tune I have been playing quite a bit lately. Notes on stuff I have been watching, after the jump, all to the tune of "Bernadette" ...
The performance finale of "Dancing With the Stars" is supposed to be the most exciting telecast of the season, especially when it gets to the free-style routines. Last night, not so much. Mediocrity was getting high scores from the judges; Mya and Donny Osmond for the most part played it safe, Kelly Osbourne fell. There was no Drew Lachey moment.
And that's all besides the usual problem at this stage, which is that the judges' scores seem all too clearly designed to keep things close enough that voting viewers feel they can affect the outcome. So in the group dance, finishing first gave you only four points more than finishing third, which is even less significant when you look at the percentage system used for calculating winners. A more reasonable scoring would have been 30-20-10 but that would, again, reduce the likelihood of the voters feeling they can affect the outcome. Similarly, Donny's getting triple 10's on his last (not great) dance seemed designed purely to put him within shouting distance of Mya so people would be more encouraged to vote. I think it's pretty obvious that Mya should still win it all, with Donny second and Kelly third, but viewers could vote otherwise. I am still irked that Gilles did not win last season.
Good "How I Met Your Mother" last night, especially the way they dragged out the slap with one cliched heart-warming decision after another. The show does love to play with our assumptions about how a TV episode is structured; I was momentarily taken in by Ted's declaration that he still loved Robin, and they played the beats perfectly. Not my favorite "HIMYM," but still satisfying. "Big Bang Theory" was not as strong, because Sheldon's story was much less interesting than Howard's. That said, Howard's musical performance at the end pretty much saved the day. "Two and a Half Men" was at its best when Charlie and Berta talked; the rest was just so-so.
Moving back in time, I was quite ready for Miss America to go home on "The Amazing Race" (has there been a challenge where she didn't complain and look as if she wasn't even trying?) and disappointed that it was a non-elimination leg. On the other hand, Sam and Dan have gotten pretty slimy, and the Two Blondies just don't interest me even though they are very good players. So right now I am leaning toward a Globetrotters win.
Moving back still more, loved "The Office's" corporate-meeting episode, especially because it gave Michael one of his redemptive moments (not the cheerleading but the "I'm not a moron"). However weird his management style, it does work -- an even more important issue considering that the company is crashing around him. (These are, after all, the guys who moved Ryan up the ladder.) In addition, the Jim-vs.-Ryan story worked nicely, and plastered Phyllis was very funny.
More fun with "Community," and a nice showcase for Yvette Nicole Brown, and an amusing "30 Rock," although I have to wonder what is going on with Al Gore's face. "Parks and Recreation" did not send me after the pretty good piggyback bit; in fact, I have stopped about halfway through and am not feeling an urge to go back. I will eventually, but mainly out of a sense of obligation.
"Survivor." Russell. Man. I would say that someone should put a stake through this guy's heart but he's not getting by all on his own. He's part of a smart alliance which has managed to turn other players around, and the group that seemed to dominate has no clue at this point. Very interesting viewing, and I have no idea where it might go; am waiting mainly for either a crumbling of Russell's crew or a blindside so good that he picks the exact wrong moment not to play his immunity idol.