The return of old school 'Top Chef'
November 10th, 2011
01:31 PM ET

The return of old school 'Top Chef'

If you read last week's recap, then you'll know I was disappointed that the producers expanded the pool of cheftestants and extended the trimming-the-fat phase into two episodes.

I would love to tell you which chefs looked like the real deal and which should go back to flipping burgers (and which had the best tats or dumbest mohawk), but I honestly can’t yet because we had enough cheftestants to fill Kitchen Stadium. Wait, wrong competitive cooking show. See, too much going on! I’m so confused!

Thankfully, though, last night gave us the conclusion of Chefsplosion 2011, wherein the last of the 29 chefs were sorted out.

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'Top Chef': Too many cooks in the kitchen
November 3rd, 2011
11:00 AM ET

'Top Chef': Too many cooks in the kitchen

The ads promoting “Top Chef: Texas” featured head judge Tom Colicchio wearing a sheriff's star, so I was hoping he'd have that baby fastened to his lapel all season. No such luck - during Wednesday's season 9 premiere, the star was nowhere in sight.

That was the first of a few disappointments in the episode, but even a subpar offering of “Top Chef” is enjoyable. Wednesday’s premiere had its moments, particularly the elimination that came before the first commercial break, which was legendary and wonderful. We’ll get to that.

The problem was that the show crammed in double the contestants and two new judges, presumably because everything’s bigger in Texas and you go big or go home, etc., etc. As a result, the episode overwhelming, and it watered down the series’ best traits.

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Friday's Top Five: Animated misfits
October 21st, 2011
11:10 AM ET

Friday's Top Five: Animated misfits

From the moment Disney’s Steamboat Willie short enthralled audiences back in 1928, cartoons have been an indelible part of American culture. We couldn’t get enough of these whimsical animations, many of which reflected uplifting cartoon escapades.

Not today, however. In honor of Charlie Brown's annual return to TV next week with "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," we're celebrating the top five animated anomalies who weren't made of rainbows and cheer.

Whether you find them depressing, grumpy, melancholy or simply misunderstood (as we like to call them), tell us which characters we missed with your own list in the comments.

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'Breaking Bad' season ends with finesse
October 10th, 2011
11:36 AM ET

'Breaking Bad' season ends with finesse

Wow. Season 4 of “Breaking Bad” is in the books.

This run, more than the others, favored finesse over fireworks. The meticulous structure led to a gradual swell of tension that crept up like flood waters. By the end of last night’s episode, the water was up to chin level. And in a matter of minutes, it all receded. Sweet relief.

In fact, I began typing “for once, they didn’t end the season on a bleak note.” Of course I typed too soon, for after flood waters recede, there’s always a path of destruction left behind. Last night was no different, as the final shot revealed the utter obliteration of Walt’s moral compass.

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'Breaking Bad': Smoking kills
October 3rd, 2011
10:35 AM ET

'Breaking Bad': Smoking kills

Sunday night’s installment of “Breaking Bad” had its moments of tightly wound drama and superb acting, but the episode still felt like the writers were suffering from a hangover after last week’s tour de force.

Not that we blame them - it’s tough to follow up a gem like “Crawl Space.” And as we know, the “Breaking Bad” crew always saves its best hand for season finales, meaning “End Times” was more of a setup episode.

It started with some tearful goodbyes as Walt’s family went into D.E.A. protective custody. Walt hung back at the house with his .38 snub, by the pool where season 2 ended, where the all-seeing teddy bear eye first emerged.

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'Breaking Bad': How low can Walt go?
September 26th, 2011
12:07 PM ET

'Breaking Bad': How low can Walt go?

The final act of last night’s episode of “Breaking Bad” gave us dramatic television perfected, as multiple plot points converged in an 11-minute cyclone of goosebump-inducing dread and tension (and superb acting and cinematography).

Recapping it won’t do it justice, but I have a duty to you loyal readers. So let’s start at the beginning, where various storylines both moved forward and served as fodder for the episode’s concluding spectacle.

First, after Gus turned the Cartel’s pool party into a mass murder scene, Jesse rushed the semi-poisoned kingpin and his bullet-riddled sidekick to a personalized port-a-hospital in the middle of the Mexican desert.

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