April 1, 2011

Reality Rundown: I Want The Crispy

The Amazing Race: Unfinished BusinessThe Biggest Loser
Survivor: Redemption IslandFinale! Top Chef All-Stars

The Amazing Race - The teams make their way to a tea shop for a tea tasting (papaya mango tea, to be specific), which will prove to be significant later in the leg. My first reaction is: "yum, tea!" and "another leg in China- really??" The racers have the same sentiments but are happy to see their post-tea clue to get on a flight to Kolkata, India. The India airport is crowded upon arrival and everyone rushes to get cabs, but the Town Hall isn't open until 10AM. Outdoor slumber party! It's just like when you wait outside of a newly opening Chick-Fil-A and the first 50 people get a year's worth of chicken sandwiches. Except this a race for a million dollars, which I guess trumps chicken sandwiches. Or does it?

At 10AM the gates open, so the racers push through it like a mob of course. The clue is a Roadblock to taste tea and then find papaya mango tea on a table with hundreds of tea cups. That has gotta be so cold, nasty, stale tea. Ron finishes so quickly I didn't even realize the task had started. The next clue is on the lid of an iced tea bottle sending them to the Tiwari Tea Stall. Based on it's design and obvious Snapple Fact top; Jen and Kisha misinterpret this to mean go to the Snapple factory, which is all sorts of hilarious. What I don't get is if Snapple is a sponsor of the episode, why would they rip the label off all the bottles? Most teams decide to not taste the tea and instead grab random cups or, if you're the Cowboys, shove your nose in every cup. Mallory is gagging, Luke is crying and stressed, and Zev breaks cups. It's amusing, until Luke turns into a complete mess when he can't complete the task- it takes ages and a breakdown for him to move on.

Kent and Vyxsin arrive at the tea stall first to start their Detour: paint, dress and adorn a statue of Ganesha or deliver stacks of children's books via a school bus rickshaw to a school. Kent and Vyxsin, who were on my shitlist for a terrible leg last week, win my affections again with the sheer glee they have as they decorate their statue. "Time to Accessorize!" Afterwards, the teams have to go to the Fountain of Joy, this leg's Pit Stop. Gary and Mallory, who delivered the books, complete the Detour first and head to the Pit Stop. They check in as team #1 and win a prize of tasting two new Snapple flavors. Um, thanks? They also win an Indian feast, a Bollywood feast, and a million rupees (which is like $20,000)- awesome prize. As Mallory tastes the tea it's the greatest face ever and by that I mean, maaaaybe this might not be the tastiest?

The other teams make their way to the Pit Stop, with the Cowboys, Ron/Christina and Zev/Justin checking in simultaneously. Kent and Vyxsin check in just as they are cracking open their product placement samples. The only teams remaining are the Globetrotters and Margie/Luke, both of which are painting the statue. The Globetrotters finish before them, but stop to hug Luke knowing what shit he went through with the tea- sweet guys. Margie and Luke are the last team to check in and are eliminated from the race, sending Luke into tears on the ground. He felt like he let his mom down again, but she's proud.

The Biggest Loser - Kaylee apologizes for getting Justin sent home by trying to throw the weigh-in. Moses defends his daughter, explaining that she was over the bullshit of the game. So just quit then. Jeez.

The next morning Samantha Gene Brady is in the gym with a big ol' scale and regales them with their journey via video recap. Fast forward! Alison asks the losers to remember the 12th team, the teams that were close and didn't make it. Twist alert: a new pair is brought onto the ranch, a mother/son team. God forbid this show just use the losers normal and let it play out. This new team, rocking white shirts and pretty fat (which seems pretty unfair because they'll be able to drop huge numbers, while many losers are at their end goal), are Vance and Leann. But apparently they were told they had to work out at home to get onto the ranch and they have to beat Kaylee's weight-loss percentage to make it. Vance loses 30lbs, far away from the 95 he needs, so yup twist out the door, Vance doesn't get on the ranch. Leann has to drop more than 79lbs to stay and she loses 45. So while it's sad to see some people not get the chance at being on the show, part of me is relieved because enough teams already.

The white team are a blip in the radar, as it's time for a pop challenge: 2 members of each team will balance balls on a board and drop them into baskets. So thrilling! The interesting part is that the last place team will spend the week off campus, while the first place team will win a 1 minute advantage at this week's challenge. The green team wins the pop challenge and the red team loses. Courtney and Jen received $1,000 and a menu which lets them select what they'll have off campus. They choose to from things like gym membership, training, private chefs, food, etc. The girls decide to shop for their own groceries and cook, a gym membership, phone calls home, massages, and a night out at a restaurant. They have chosen to not see their trainer Brett this week, though it's Jen saying that they need to survive without a trainer at some point while Courtney actually wanted Brett's help. Brett comes to see the girls in their room and gets the news that they'd rather get strangers hands on them and eat at TGIFriday's or whatever instead of him. Brett thinks it's a bad decision, probably humiliated. At least their home-away-from-ranch is a sweet ass house. As Courtney and Jen get pampered in their new home and stay on their weight plan (no thank you, free bread!), Rulon does a handstand. Hey, I can't do it and I took 2 years of gymnastics so good for him.

Courtney and Jen return for the challenge which is an obnoxious product placement for the movie Hop. It's a massive easter egg hunt all over a hillside and they must collect their team-colored eggs- all 600 of them (400 for red since there's only 2 people). And the prize is soooo awesome: the winning team gets to attend the world premiere. But don't cry everyone else: as long as you complete the challenge, you get to see a sneak preview and then fake tell us how much you love it! Doesn't that sound awesome?! Ok, it is when James Marsden is there to greet them- swooooooooon! The green team wins again, but Olivia finds the golden egg and "wins" the only vote this week.

Weigh-in. The blue teams loses 14lbs, thanks to Moses' 7lbs; as long as they don't lose the weigh in, Olivia will cast the only vote this week. The green team beats blue with 18lbs. The black team weighs in, and the pressure is on since Olivia would never vote for her sister Hannah. Jay loses 6lbs and Rulon loses just 5lbs. But it seems Jillian has some knowledge that might provide insight: hidden cameras caught him eating a bag of chips late at night (where did the chips come from?). Playing the game, since she knew she'd be safe, Hannah loses no weight this week. Olivia will have the only vote now unless red loses the weigh-in. Since there's only 2 players, one would be safe, the other would go home- no voting necessary. Courtney, who regrets letting Jen talk her out of a trainer this week, loses only 2lbs. Jen loses no weight, making red the losing team, and automatically eliminating Jen for having the lowest weight loss of the week. I hope that was the best massage she's ever had.

Survivor: Redemption Island - Zapatera has the 6 they wanted, but the tribe is a little shaken by Dave's actions. Dave has no regrets voting for Sarita and accepts that this could seal his fate, but he doesn't care.

Remember when Matt and Krista bonded at Redemption Island about their faith? Well Stephanie won't stop talking about all the food she's going to eat, which I have to admit, sounds delicious. Phillip and Rob attend the duel for Ometepe, mainly because Rob knows Phillip needs a chaperone and a shirt; Ralph and Dave attend from Zapatera. This week's duel is memory. It's just like my vintage Sweet Valley High boardgame but instead of prom items and spring break trip supplies, it's skulls and stuff. And yes, please be jealous that I own a vintage SVH boardgame. Matt takes an early lead as Stephanie begins to catch up. It's just so exciting to watch- you know, people flipping tiles over to make matches. Matt yet again wins the duel- 5 ALIVE! CINQ ALIVE! Stephanie cries a little, but then tells Ralph that he has to take out Sarita if he wants to stay around and that Rob should watch out as he's Zapatera's merge target. Phillip comes Matt to a samurai warrior, which is tame considering what he usually rambles, but Rob isn't amused and knows that he's a target in Phillip's mind now.

Phillip doesn't want to tell the tribe what happened at Redemption Island, so Rob decides to use this as ammunition to throw Phillip under the bus. Rob airs it all immediately and informs his tribe that next loss, they send Phillip to Redemption Island. Phillip gets pissed because the girls won't let him have any of the crispy rice, which they are saving for Rob. "It's Rob, Rob, Rob, Rob!" Phillip is such a Jan Brady. At least we finally know who burned Lisa's rice all those years ago on Top Chef: Boston Rob. He loves crispy rice. Phillip says he's sick of being the red headed child and they are the ones who put him on the outskirts.

Ralph and Dave decide to not tell Zapatera that Stephanie pointed Sarita out as a target, though Ralph does tell them he sees Dave as a floater who would flip. Zapatera is over Dave's 'tude, so he's their target.

The immunity challenge is an obstacle course to collect balls and sink them into a basket. Besides immunity, the winning tribe will leave via helicopter (!!!) and get tons of goodies, like cookie and booze. The obstacle course is pure muddy chaos and we get to hear Probst say "Rob still struggling with those balls!" so I get a good laugh there. So many ball puns I can't keep up. Thanks to Grant's hot bod and basketball skillz, Ometepe wins immunity and reward. The helicopter lands at the challenge site to take Ometepe on the most amazing date of all time. Sorry, wrong show. They land on an active volcano (wait, so this is a Bachelor date?), shout Ometepe into the big crater, and dive into their picnic basket. Rob is on hidden immunity clue lookout, which he finds in a jar of those yummy spiral cookies. He then throws the clue into the volcano. AWESOME.

Zapatera gets back to camp and Sarita starts gaming. While Dave is on the social outs, she also knows she's the weakest link physically and Dave rocked at the challenge. The guys finally notice Sarita is weak as hell as that it might be time to boot her, despite her loyalty. At Tribal Council, Jef of course brings up the tribe losing since throwing a challenge to vote off his man crush Russell. It's Sarita vs. David, and obviously minds are made up from before so the tribal Q&A is useless to recap. Finally the tribe makes a wise decision and votes off Sarita, though I still don't know if Ralph voted for "SIRITA" or "DAVIE." This will go down as the all-time greatest mystery of Survivor.

Finale! Top Chef All-Stars - So it's kinda fan-favorite Richard vs. no one ever's favorite Mike Isabella in the finale. Wow, this is going to be an hour I can't wait to watch. Womp womp. Team Carla forever! This finale is the biggest asshole egofest ever.

They meet Tom and Padma for their final challenge: create the restaurant of your dreams. They have to create a 4 course tasting menu to show that they deserve to win Top Chef All-Stars. They get a staff made up of the rejected cheftestants and I truly hope everyone there wants to ruin any of Mike Isabella's chances. The cheftestants have to make an amuse bouche for the a-holes to taste and judge them by. The catch is it's a BLIND taste test, so they won't know who made the dish; they'll get chefs based on taste. Please tell me Jamie made scallop soup. Richard's tasting ends up selecting Spike(who had jet skiing reservations that now have to be cancelled), Angelo, and Antonia (who might still be dejected). Mike selects the dishes of Tiffani, Jamie, and Carla, who he calls his angels (or as I recall, he called all the women weak chefs in prior weeks). Everyone else gets to go jet ski and enjoy crunkfest in the Bahamas.

Richard's restaurant is called Tongue & Cheek. Richard starts by serving an oyster. The first course is raw hamachi with crispy sweet bread (isn't that stomach?). Second course is pork belly, black cod and bone marrow, because dogs are eating it? I hear bone marrow is allegedly good, but I decline anything my dog gnaws on. Third course is a braised beef short rib, which is executed well but not considered too creative. Richard's dessert is swapped from Cap'n Crunch ice cream to fois gras ice cream served with corn bread, which sounds crappy and pretentious- like Richard's faux hawk. Padma and a bunch of foodies whose names I can't spell dine their first and enjoy their meal, but also found some flaws, especially with that dumb ice cream. Richard's well aware of this, especially since Spike snoops around the dining room to hear what diners are saying. The second judges enjoy Richard's meal as well and he's able to fix his shitty pretentious ice cream.

Mike Isabella's restaurant is Restaurant IZ. What a name? Cause his nickname is Izzy, I guess. The first course is a spiced beet salad with a chocolate vinaigrette. Second course is a steamed halibut with kumquat marmalade and the fish is cooked perfectly. Third course is braised pork shoulder with pepperoni sauce. His final dish, dessert, is a rosemary caramel custard. The first set of judges (Tom, Gale, Curtis Stone, Art Smith) love their meal. The second set of judges (Padma et al) enjoy the finesse of the food.

One last judges' table. Mike felt his fish dish was his best, and even though it was steamed, it was perfect. The pepperoni sauce was risky, but paid off big time. Though the custard was cooked too high, too fast. Richard is praised for extraordinary flavor course after course, but also clean. Padma thought the black cod was flawless, though Tom said the beef dish was safe. Both Richard and Mike ramble about why they deserve to win, none of which is interesting, though Richard calls it the biggest professional moment of his career and gets verklempt. While waiting on deliberations, the two finalists banter about who will win and then their families come out to greet them. Richard wins first 2 courses, Mike wins second 2 courses- so who wins?

Richard and Mike return to the judges' table, surrounded by their families and cheftestant peers for the verdict. One of these former losers will now be able to call themselves a Top Chef. Richard is named Top Chef and if you hear that sound, it's everyone in America breathing a huge sigh of relief.



Photo Credits: BravoTV.com, CBS.com, NBC.com, and a HUGE shout to Heck Yeah Survivor for the GIF which definitely tops my screenshot

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