TV Watch: 16 Highlights from Jan. 22 to Jan. 28, 2010
24 recap: Kevin wants some money from Dana!
Jack Bauer said a lot of dammits, Fantastic Sam rounded up the hometown traitors, and Farhad got busy with a couple Russian hotties while we finally — finally! — learned what that nasty Kevin has on Dana: CTU's tow-headed data analyst is really an ex-con who was an accessory to murder! I repeat what I said last week — I don't quite understand how she snagged a job at the mother of all get-the-bad-guy government agencies and yet still managed to hide her true identity — but I'm starting to warm to this C-story if only for the acting talents of TV actor Clayne Clawford (CSI, Criminal Minds, Cold Case — you name it) as Kevin. Man, but he plays one frightening ex-partner-in-crime!—Lynette Rice
The Bachelor recap: Highway to Hell
It's a road trip gone wrong as Jake tosses Ella, Kathryn, Jessie, and Ashleigh out the window like so much litter
Because I never learn, I was completely buying the Kathryn-gets-the-rose-in-a-surprise-twist! narrative set up by producers, especially when Jake took Ella out on the porch for the big kiss-off. ''I'm looking for the next 60 years,'' he explains, ''and I just feel that I am developing feelings that are just a little bit stronger for some of the other women.'' (Am I the only one who thought he was going to follow ''I'm looking for the next 60 years'' with ''and since you're already 45 and unlikely to live until 105, I think it's best that we part ways now''?) Ella seems to be taking it graciously, but wait a minute... why aren't they showing us her Reject Limo exit interview? Oh my God, it's because there are going to be TWO reject limo exit interviews!!! As soon as Jake's done giving Ella the boot, he returns to the dinner table and launches into his second send-off speech of the night. ''You're going to meet a guy that's gonna absolutely sweep you off your feet,'' he tells Kathryn, ''and I wanna be that guy — but my heart is just telling me I'm not that guy.'' —Kristen Baldwin
American Idol recap: California Screamin'
Bad attitudes! Bum notes! Squabbling! And that just describes the scene at the judges' table as the Audition Express arrives in Los Angeles
Shall we start with that sour-patch kid in the ''hip'' black hoodie with ''amusing'' devil horns? To be fair, I don't think there was a person on the planet (with the possible exception of Cecile Frot-Coutaz) who anticipated that Avril Lavigne would provide witty and/or insightful commentary during her trial run in the Paula Abdul Commemorative Swivel-Chair. But low expectations aside, I'm still having difficulty grasping how and why Avril implied that bearded ''worship pastor'' Jim Ranger shouldn't get a Golden Ticket because he was (gasp!) married, and (oh-em-gee!) said marriage had produced three (how do we say this politely?) child-type creatures! Okay, so that's not exactly how Avril put it, but her weirdly dismissive questions about Jim's brood, and her condescending newsflash that ''to be a pop-star you have to travel'' seriously rubbed me the wrong way. —Michael Slezak
The Biggest Loser recap: Play Responsibly
Melissa and Lance battle it out with the trainers, while one challenge gives the winners power over the others
While Bob was busy doing that, Jillian decided to try to make nice with Lance. And by ''make nice,'' I mean ''accuse his wife of being a lying witch.'' ''I'm all for manipulating the situation to stay here longer, but just tell us.? It's as if you're trying to tell me the world is flat,'' she told the red team member. The statement set Lance off — perhaps he learned geography in ancient Mesopotamia? — and he refused to work out with Jillian, telling her, ''I have absolutely no respect for you whatsoever.'' Because that worked so well, Bob decided to send Melissa to go see Jillian — for a boxing training session. (I'm pretty sure the best way to get people to make up is not to throw them into a situation where throwing punches is acceptable.) Jillian told Melissa: ''Listen to me: I don't give a crap about how you play the game. I don't judge any decisions that you make. With that said, don't treat me like I'm stupid.'' Melissa instead decided to treat Jillian like she was evil incarnate (much better!), crying that, ''My credibility, my integrity, and my ethics is my entire life.'' —Kate Ward
NCIS: Tiva tension + dirty talk with Gibbs + a plane plot = episode we'll enjoy watching in USA marathons
Tony and Ziva went to Paris to escort a whistleblower in a major defense fraud case back to the States. They said there was a problem at the hotel, and they had to share a room. Ziva told the witness, who was even more interested in ''Tiva'' than your diehard 'shipper, that she slept on the couch. Tony later told McGee that he took the couch — then he and Ziva called each other out for lying. Do you think they slept together or upheld Gibbs' Rule #12? Would you like a definitive answer now, or, like me, or you content to let the show tease us and then one day, have an episode in which all is revealed? —Mandi Bierly
American Idol recap: Whips, Smarts
Neil Patrick Harris' legendary guest-judging stint makes the so-so talent in Dallas a little less hard to swallow
Tonight, however, the standard operating sameness got a needed twist of lemon in the form of guest judge Neil Patrick Harris. No, he didn't reinvent the audition-episode wheel (he was only filling Paula Abdul's chair, after all, not Ken Warwick's). But the How I Met Your Mother star's presence added biting wit and insight to even the most tiresome moments. Take, for example, this evening's opening act, starring repeat audition offender Julie Kerelighan, who brought the same brand of delusional desperation to the show this year as she did in season 1. For her second trip to the rodeo, Julie also carried a homemade sign declaring ''This Is My (Last) Year (to Get on National Television Before I Age Out of Idol Eligibility).'' (For the record, those are my parentheticals, not hers.) The brilliance of NPH, though, was the way he immediately honed in on the fact that Julie's poorly planned and executed poster — with her surname scrunched uncomfortably in the bottom corner — was more offensive than her butchery of Alannah Miles' ''Black Velvet.'' —Michael Slezak
Friday Night Lights recap: 'Injury List' with lots of pain all around
Luke's dependence on painkillers reached a crisis point, reducing him to visiting a neighborhood where he assumed he'd find drug dealers — it just happens to be the park where his teammates Vince and Tinker hang out — and I kept wondering yet again, Why is he not telling either his parents or Coach about this injury again? I get it that he doesn't want to be sidelined for a long period, but, well, that's what ended up happening anyway, right? —Ken Tucker
Project Runway recap: Finding Inspiration
The designers were paired up and had to do two looks (high fashion and low end) but with a twist
Of course Jesse was going to get stuck with Ping. At the top of the hour, he expressed dismay that the Kooky Ones survived the last challenge. And of course the two of them were going to get along about as well as my cat Miko did with the mouse that appeared in our kitchen while I was on vacation. (Sorry, Aly.) All Ping had to do to bring out Jesse's inner scary man, it seemed, was lay out some fabric at Mood while asking about pattern-cutting, and before you could say ''anger management,'' he punched the palm of his own hand with startling force. And this was before we saw Ping flitting about the store like a lost toddler, calling out ''Jesse! Jesse!'', searching for her sketch pad, and almost losing the $500 in cash. I don't doubt that working with someone as bonkers as Ping would be frustrating, but next time, Jesse, let's take a deep breath and count to 10, shall we? Serenity now! —Missy Schwartz
Caprica recap: Rebooting the reboot
Esai Morales, for my money, makes the whole show. Unlike the Graystones, he doesn't wear his sadness on his sleeve; he represses it. You get the sense that Joe Adams has repressed a whole lot of things in his life: from his Tauron upbringing to his shady dealings to his own last name. The fact that he wears his Don Draper hat very well doesn't hide the fact that he feels deeply uncomfortable wearing it, and all the trappings of Caprican existence.
Despite his lineage, I'm wondering if Joe isn't going to be this series' Kara Thrace — someone who cuts through both the lofty galactic melodrama and the heavier philosophical notions at work.—Darren Franich
House recap: Psychodrama
Wilson acted surprised that House was vaguely making amends with his former classmate. Why not apologize to him? To Cuddy? Wilson's incredulity seemed incredibly false to me: Why would he expect for a second that House would really give Cuddy a meaningful apology? Does he not watch the same show we do?
''House, she was in love with you, and all she got in return was abuse,'' he chides his BFF. Two things strike me about this statement: One, look in the damn mirror, Wilson, and heal thyself. Two, for a statement that was supposed to make House look bad, all it really did was emphasize the black hole where Cuddy's self-worth is supposed to go. ''For years you toyed with her emotions,'' Wilson scolded, but he didn't quite get it right: It should have been ''for years she let you toy with her emotions.'' I'm usually on-board with the House/Cuddy love — Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein might as well be setting things on fire when they're in scenes together. But something about Cuddy's chronic emotional victimhood makes the pairing so wrong on some levels. —Margaret Lyons
Heroes recap: Sylar hates Sylar, and you can, too!
There were two interesting things about the Carnival plot tonight:
1. The fascinating POV shot through Noah Bennet's sniper rifle. Now, some of you will say that this was unrealistic, because no way could Noah hold a sniper rifle so smoothly. But you probably didn't notice that he was lying prone, which allows you to hold a sniper rifle perfectly still. (It's in Metal Gear Solid; look it up!)
Anyways, he found Samuel, but then he saw Claire. His crosshairs settled on her face, as she raised her cell phone to her ear. And then his cell phone started ringing. And he picked it up and said, ''Hello, Claire.'' He heard her over the phone and watched her in the crosshairs. This visual was deeply unsettling and totally awesome. If Heroes could be this smart approximately 1000 times more often, this show could actually be passably mediocre. —Darren Franich
Greek premiere: Coming out at the Fairytale Ball and burning down the house
Sure, all kinds of secrets were revealed on Greek's season premiere... though, my real favorite revelation had to be Calvin and Grant coming out at the Fairytale Ball. Does it get any better than two hot princes starting the slow dancing among the twinkly lights and wishing wells? Makes that whole roommate situation easier, too, even with frat brothers now leaving pairs of tiaras at their door. — Jennifer Armstrong
The Vampire Diaries recap: The episode that knocked our bobby socks off
I've been a fan of The Vampire Diaries from the start, but last night was the first time I ended an episode saying ''Buffy it out!'' aloud and thinking that I should really email the friends I went to a Buffy convention with (the series had just ended!) to make sure they were watching. I don't bring up the ''B word'' to start a debate — they've got totally different plots and writing styles. But just to say that we've officially gotten past the love triangle arc, more characters are aware of what's going on in the town, new vampires/enemies have been introduced, people who don't actually like each other are or will be forced to work together (always fun), and everyone (even Aunt Jenna!) has a worthy storyline. — Mandi Bierly
Fringe recap: Walter, who's your daddy?
This week's Fringe was one of the series' most satisfying stand-alone episodes. It had a good threat — an airborne toxin (smells like cinnamon: yum) that causes people to die ''suffocated from the inside-out,'' in Walter Bishop's phrase. And it gave us a chunk of the Bishop family backstory in a manner that complemented — enhanced — the main plot.— Ken Tucker
The Real Housewives of Orange County Recap: Lynne melts down
Lynne tried convincing her daughter that she was always there for her, except for when she wasn't, and it's really the girl's own fault she's gone so much because Lynne has to work hard so she can afford Alexa's expensive makeup. The conversation had clearly gone off the rails but then Alexa really crossed a line by hurling her mother's cuff bracelet at her. ''All you want me to do is a frigging commercial for your cuffs!'' Alexa accused. Lynne looked stricken, cradling her tossed cuff like a baby chick. ''Oh, that's really nice that you treat my cuff that way,'' she said, angling it towards the camera like a hostess on the Home Shopping Network.—Karen Valby
Bones recap: To love!
It's nice that Jared has matured and wanted both Padme and Brennan to be there when he and Booth sat down to talk about his situation rationally. We got to see how much Booth and Brennan value each other's opinions. He was ready to accept Padme because Bones made him realize that what Jared was doing — forgiving someone their past and loving them for who they are today — is what he'd told her to do with her father. Bones thought he was abandoning that belief system — love is all that matters — and it was the sole reason she'd given her father another chance. Of course, she conveniently forgot about Booth?s other belief system — that sex is best when it's between people who are in love. I can totally see why he would have a problem with Padme being a prostitute. A lot of what Max did, he did to protect his children. I wish we would have found out why Padme had worked as an escort. That would actually matter in real life, but for the cut-and-dry premise of Bones? argument, it did not. Booth thought about what Bones said and realized she was right: All that mattered was Jared?s happiness.—Mandi Bierly