Critic's Guide to Wednesday TV: Nearing the End of Survivor and X Factor
Ozzy Lusth, Edna Ma
Some thoughts about what's on tonight, starting with the reality contests. Was CBS' Survivor just teasing us with that trailer that showed Edna the Meek possibly upsetting Ozzy the Cocky in the next Redemption Island challenge? We'll believe it when we see it, but it would be nice for something unexpected to happen. The final Upolu 5 have stayed boringly, rigidly loyal to their game plan the last few weeks, but now that it's down to the next-to-last episode (8/7c) — the finale airs as the usual multi-hour extravaganza on Sunday — all bets presumably are off. Could anything keep Coach from making the finals? And if Ozzy somehow is bounced as well, that would make the climactic tribal council more interesting — which isn't the same as memorable.
As Fox's The X Factor (8/7c) tries to recover from last week's debacle, the final 4 — improbably still including Marcus Canty — will sing songs chosen by fans. If viewers really had the power, don't you think they'd rather vote for a chance to kick the useless Nicole Scherzinger off that judging panel? Too spineless to concede that little Rachel Crow blew Marcus away in last week's sing-off, or maybe too unwilling to throw a vote Simon Cowell's way, she's responsible for last week's train-wreck meltdown, as usual poorly stage-managed by the hapless Steve Jones. Can they all top themselves this week?
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If you ask me, I'd rather watch what's happening on Bravo. On the addictive Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (9/8c), the contestants get out of the city, heading to a small burg in the Hudson Valley for inspiration from the locals. ... And there's a double elimination on Top Chef: Texas (10/9c), as the chef-testants pair up to cook wild game for a group of famous chefs. This season is turning out to be a nightmare for any vegans in the home audience.
Barbara Walters says she's taken some flack for including the Kardashians among her 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011 (ABC, 9:31/8:31c) in this year's special that throws yet another spotlight on the famous and, in this case, infamous. Also on her list: Simon Cowell, Modern Family "couple" Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, Derek Jeter, Katy Perry, Pippa Middleton and (my deal-breaker) Donald Trump. Who's No. 1? I'll probably find out on Twitter.
Earlier in the night, ABC repeats one of the funniest episodes all season of the underappreciated The Middle (8/7c), in which Frankie (award-worthy Patricia Heaton) has a complete — and understandable — meltdown after being put in one of the most disgustingly humiliating domestic situations you can imagine, and which would keep anyone in their right mind from ever blindly finishing off a bag of chips again. Mama's so traumatized she runs back to her own mom (Marsha Mason), but eventually, family will win out. What choice does she have?
In CBS crime land, Criminal Minds (9/8c) takes a potentially romantic turn when Hotch runs into a fetching art curator (Bellamy Young of Dirty Sexy Money) while training for a triathlon. Guest stars in the murder-of-the-week storyline, set against Philly's boxing scene, include Charles S. Dutton and Southland's Shawn Hatosy. ... And here's a question I never expected to be asking regarding CSI (10/9c): Who's that naked dead guy in crusty old Dr. Robbins' bed? The coroner (Robert David Hall) takes a rare turn at center stage when his wife finds a naked man in their master bedroom. But who'll do the icky autopsy?
So what else is on? ... Vivien (poor, poor Connie Britton) gives birth on FX's execrable American Horror Story (10/9c), while Tate and Violet try to rid the Murder House of some of its laughable overabundance of ghosts. ... Jason Priestley and Jennifer Finnigan play grifters, and Arrested Development's Tony Hale is among their victims, on the winter finale of USA Network's Psych (10/9c). The episode is titled "Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat," which indicates that Shawn and Juliet's romantic getaway to a posh resort will be played for laughs — until they're robbed and a dead body is found at a nearby winery. ... If you're the sort who fast-forwards through shows to get to the ads, then treat yourself to TBS' annual Funniest Commercials of the Year special (10/9c), hosted by Old Spice front-stud Isaiah Mustafa. One of 10 finalists in an online contest, including Volkswagen's memorable "The Force," will be named the winner. ... Chelsea Clinton's media blitz continues this week, as she hosts George Balanchine's production of The Nutcracker in a PBS Live From Lincoln Center special (check local listings). It competes with yet another entry in Ovation's weeklong Battle of the Nutcrackers (8/7c), this one from the Berlin State Opera Ballet.
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