TV Watch: 15 Highlights from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, 2010
Lost recap: Staying Connected
Kate's Sideways and Island lives keep her chasing/following Sawyer and Claire, while Sayid returns just a little... off
The stuff I loved: Josh Holloway's wrenching acting as he revealed the heartbreaking disclosure that he intended to propose to Juliet; the intrigue of ''infected'' and ''claimed'' Sayid; the hilarious irony of Dr. Ethan Goodspeed; the notable camaraderie of the Temple-stuck castaways, determined to survive their latest ordeal with ''live together, die alone'' idealism and great, knowing humor. (Hurley: ''You're not a zombie, right?'' Sayid: ''No, I am not a zombie.'') And don't look now, kids, but is Jack Shephard actually getting really likable again? I loved his sincere concern for Kate and Sayid, his willingness to accept Sawyer's seething anger, and his humbled self-awareness. When he told Dogen, ''I don't even trust myself,'' Jack may have uttered the most heroic statement of his wannabe hero life, because it was so painfully honest. Superman of Science? No. Superman of Faith? No. Just Jack. And in the end, one wonders if that's exactly what he needs to be to save the day for himself and his friends.—Jeff Jensen
American Idol recap: Group therapy
As the show works overtime to whip up Hollywood Week drama, talented performers get left on the cutting-room floor
Let's take the case of Mary Powers. Admittedly, it can't be easy when you're working with someone like Margo May, whose attempts at ''harmonizing'' sounded more like the shrilling brakes of a rapidly decelerating subway car. (I loved how Simon asked if someone could switch off the poor girl's mic.) But hasn't Mary ever watched Idol, or any other reality TV show in the history of ever? I mean, if you're going to leave your young daughter at home and make a bid for music stardom, do you really want to kick things off by making diva-like demands of the show's music director, Michael Orland? And if you're envious because a rival team looks like they're having a ball in rehearsals, do you really think that bursting into hysterical tears is the best way to up the fun quotient for your own group?—Michael Slezak
Modern Family recap: Caught in the act
Love was in the air last night, and each Family member had a different way of celebrating Cupid?s favorite holiday — all awkward and funny in their own right, but none as painfully hilarious as Phil and Claire?s. Their role-playing attempt at the hotel bar may have been their best exchange yet. When Phil showed up in his navy blue turtleneck and Clive Bixby name tag, claiming he was ?pretty smooth all over,? I nearly died. I mean, he has to be one of the least sexy characters on TV (sorry, Ty Burrell, you know we love you). The highlight of Phil (Clive Bixby) and Claire?s (Juliana) ?romantic? role-playing for me was this interchange: ?I?m in town for a trade show I design high-end electro-acoustic transducers? ?Phil as Clive (and yes, transducers are a real thing) ?Wow, that is very specific.? ?an unimpressed Claire as Juliana ?It?s a fancy way of saying, ?I get things to make noise.?? ? Phil —Lesley Savage
American Idol Recap: Ell(en) Yeah!
On her debut episode, Ellen DeGeneres provides rock-solid feedback, and leaves room for a number of potential front-runners to shine
But let's get back to Ellen for a second. Because on a night — and to be honest, in a season — where her addition to the judges' panel was The Story, the comedian/talk-show host seemed to take a deliberate back seat to the contestants. Eyes forward, focusing on the performances. Expression serious, reviewing her notes. Demeanor firm, sending contestants home with constructive advice that could serve them well if they return for season 10. And never once stirring up contrived drama/chumminess/ hijinks with Simon, Kara, and Randy in an effort to make sure all cameras were on her.
Oh sure, Ellen made me chuckle playing mind games with a row of contestants — sending them through an elaborate ritual of stepping forward, stepping back, and then back again, before announcing they'd all made it through to the next round; ''Sadist!'' howled Simon — but it was clear from her overall performance that she understands the importance (yes, I said importance) of the task she's been hired to do.—Michael Slezak
The Biggest Loser recap: Going After the Dream
The contestants hit the Olympic training center and get inspired by some real athletes
The best thing about working out at the Olympic training center? The contestants got the opportunity to work out with two Olympians, alpine racer Julia Mancuso, and aerialist Jeret ''Speedy'' Peterson. (After watching this episode, I'm beginning to think I need a cool nickname. Kate ''Writer-y'' Ward. Kate ''Loser-y'' Ward. Kate ''Craz-y'' Ward. I'm still working on it.) The two Olympians showed the contestants all sorts of new exercises, like punch-the-bag-with-your-forearm, jump-around-the-traffic-cones, and hop-over-a-paper-ladder. These exercises might have looked simple, but keep in mind the contestants were working out at a different altitude level than they had been at the ranch. And considering the fact that they made Speedy feel ''like a wuss,'' you know they did pretty well.—Kate Ward
The Bachelor recap: Premature Evacuation
Ali must choose between her career and a shot at the final rose. After much anguish, she chooses... wisely
Back in L.A., a familiar sound: Knock knock knock! Accent Table of Doom, is that you? No, it's Ali, and before she sits down on the couch in Jake's hotel room she's already weeping. ''I have, like, the most impossible decision to make right now,'' she wails to the Bachelor. ''I just found out that I have to choose between staying here and going back to work.'' Before she can make the decision, though, she wants an answer from Jake as to whether she's going to be the last ''lady'' standing. No such luck: ''Ali, life is about minimizing your regrets. And you just have to weigh which one is going to be a bigger regret.... So, selfishly, you know, I would say, you know, stay here and take a chance on me, but I can't right now guarantee you that I'm going to put a ring on your finger, but I can't look you in the eye and tell you that I'm not going to.'' Uh-oh, Ali, looks like you're going to have to make this decision all by your lonesome. ''I guess at the rose ceremony I'll let you know,'' she whimpers before collapsing in the hallway in tears. (Is it a bad sign that I found myself distracted by the cute polka-dot pillows on the couch during this conversation?)—Kristen Baldwin
Heroes recap: The best season never
The fourth season of Heroes ended not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a collective synchronized shrug. You could see everyone involved with the show — the actors, the writers, the cameraman who?s developed a nasty shoulder tilt after a season of those nauseating carnival camera angles — join all together, raise their shoulders, and mumble ?Meh? under their breath. Until the very last scene, I thought this might be the first episode of Heroes with truly no redeeming value whatsoever. Even the worst show about superpowers is bound to be interesting, even if it just accidentally trips over ?interesting? on the long road to ?awful.?—Darren Franich
Big Bang Theory recap: Leonard and Sheldon (almost) break up over the Large Hadron Collider
It?s been so long since Leonard had a halfway decent story line that it was kind of a shock for me to see the dude so happy, and to see Penny and him behaving like an actual, relatable couple. (This may be due to the fact that yours truly is intolerant of all things lactose, but I laughed so hard I snorted after Penny deduced that Leonard?s platter of milk chocolate, Swiss cheese, and fondue meant ?my lactose-intolerant boyfriend is going to eat all this, and I?m going to climb on his back and rocket to the moon.?) Of course, Leonard?s happiness was but fleeting, as Sheldon?s dogged persistence at snagging Penny?s Swiss invite drove the roommates to the brink of ending their friendship. —Adam B. Vary
Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains recap: The Scariest Showmance Ever?
Coach goes from slaying dragons to slaying hearts as he and Jerri get their flirt on. Cringing ensues.
So, of course, Boston Rob then went and made fire. Make no mistake: That is pretty damn impressive. I watched Rob try the same method unsuccessfully in All-Stars, but he had his mojo working here, so much so that Coach started rocking a man-crush on the Beantowner. ''I'm a little in awe of Rob,'' Coach informed us, before letting Rob know that, ''When you talk, I'm literally hanging on your every word.'' Okay, that would be really, really creepy if we weren't too distracted by Coach's other budding showmance with Jerri. Seriously, what the hell? Am I the only one freaked out by this potential union? The Black Widow and the Dragon Slayer? And just imagine if they had a kid? That child would have the craziest hair ever! —Dalton Ross
Project Runway recap: Cover Story
The designers get a shot a Marie Claire cover featuring Heidi and colors rule the day
While most of the group chugged along, fueled by a-okay feelings of self-assurance about where their designs were headed, Anna and Janeane stalled out before they even made contact with the presser foot. Anna fretted about taking on three pieces — i.e. instead of yet another girly-girl dress. Janeane was even more of a wreck. (ABC foreshadowing!) By mid-episode she had managed to totally psyche herself out. ''I should have a point of view. And I just feel like I don't. I'm probably going to screw myself.'' Yikes. This here gal sure is prone to doomsday scenarios. Remember how last week she grumbled something along the lines of ''I'm Janeane! Bad things happen to me!'' after her dress fell in a bucket of water? Somebody get her a Wellbutrin patch, stat.—Missy Schwartz
Grey's Anatomy recap: Making Choices
A roof collapse kills the Seattle Gracers' Valentine's Day plans but leads to some pairing up
I liked the idea of, as the episode title put it, a ''Valentine's Day Massacre'' on Grey's — if anyone should know how to wring the angst from the holiday of the heart, it's our little overwrought Seattle Gracers. And soon enough, they were doing just that: making me love that smooth anesthesiologist whose dinner invite Bailey quickly shot down, making me hate hate hate the idea of Sloan playing Mr. Mom as he blathered on about buying a crib for his newly discovered daughter's in-utero kid. Oh, and surprising me by making me totally dig Lexie's new blond hair. ''Blondes are either badass or fun,'' Sloan protested. ''And you're... you're brunette.'' I disagree. (Like Dr. Hotness Monster said: ''Wow, Trauma Room Barbie.'') The new hair somehow made me, inexplicably, like her more, which immediately made me feel like a traitor to my gender/hair color. Watching Grey's Anatomy brings up complicated feelings.—Jennifer Armstrong
The Office recap: For the dogs
Jim decided to give Michael back sole management responsibilities because, as Oscar later pointed out to Michael, Sabre doesn?t have a cap on commissions — so a sales job is potentially much more lucrative than a management one. Michael flipped out, said he wanted it, but in an incredibly obvious twist at the end, Michael changed his mind about being among the little people, and he and Jim go back to the way things were, with Jim reassuming his desk spot next to Dwight and Pam. I?m not sure how much more I can care about who has the manager job if nothing ever really comes from the role. It?s changed hands way more times than any of us could possibly be interested in. Even Dwight doesn?t care about the position this much. The official management roles within the office are nowhere near as interesting as the actual lived roles; Michael may be the boss, but people actually fear Angela, not him. Toby might be the guy who has to lecture you, but the Dunder-Mifflinites actually respect Pam more. Titles matter so much less than the de facto roles; give me Phyllis and Angela working on the party-planning committee any day over Michael and Jim jockeying for a title and an office.—Margaret Lyons
The Vampire Diaries recap: Tomb Raiders
Back to Damon: As Stefan and Elena tended to Jeremy, he stood off to the side silent, distraught, and yes, sexy. Elena went to him, hugged him, and said ?I?m sorry.? He didn?t raise his arms to hug her back, but he didn?t push her away either. I didn?t see jealousy in Stefan?s eyes, which was extremely cool of him. Maybe he understands that Elena can respect the lengths Damon is willing to go for love without falling in love with him?.—Mandi Bierly
House recap: The Cuddy System
Wilson suggested Cuddy turn to House for advice about negotiating, which she lamely resisted only to discover House, duh, sitting in her office, giving her advice whether she wanted it or not. Lucas brought her lunch, admitted to bragging about their sex life (kill me) to House, and helped her track down the CEO of Obnoxious Insurance Company at a fancy lunch. Boy, was he ever obnoxious! She threatened Obnoxious Insurance Company with bad press, which has to be the most idiotic, least effective way to hold that company?s feet to the fire: Oh no, a smear story about an insurance company that was only looking out for the bottom line, not its patients. Pick up a newspaper, Cuddy: Isn?t that how most stories read?—Margaret Lyons
NEXT PAGE: SPOILER ALERT! Highlight of the Friday Night Lights season finale — if you're waiting for the NBC season to start and don't want to know anything in advance, skip the next screen!
Friday Night Lights season finale: Happy 'Thanksgiving,' sad ending
As for the climactic Panthers-Lions showdown, I was happy it turned into a fairy tale win for the Lions. I know it strained credulity, I know it was all too obvious that Coach would let poor ol? wounded Luke play at a key moment, and I know that Landry?s kick was well-neigh impossible for a kid of his abilities. Bottom line: the Lions and the show needed a rousing, enthusiastic ending, and it worked. —Ken Tucker