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"The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

 "The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' reunion goes off the rails

There are tears, threats, secrets revealed and nasty comments a-plenty

Um, wow. That's really about all I can muster after watching the first part of the three part "The Real Housewives of Jersey Shore" reunion, which is so far beyond crazy that I almost expected it to end in a spray of bullets or a cult suicide. With everyone so completely past sane, the unfortunate side effect is that there's almost no one to side with without feeling a little crazy yourself. Let's face it -- when Teresa seems relatively balanced, you know the situation is dire.

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"Revenge"

 "Revenge"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Revenge' has new couples, new betrayals and one wild twist

It's time for summer vacation in the Hamptons, and Emily is on the warpath
It may be autumn in the real world, but it's summer in the Hamptons -- at least, the "Revenge" version of the Hamptons, where the weather's wonderful and the people are all manner of messed up. And what have our delightful schemers been up to? Well, there was some grieving for Grayson matriarch Victoria (Madeleine Stowe), of course, whose plane blew up as she was on her way to rat our her ex-husband, Conrad. Our vengeful protagonist Emily (Emily VanCamp) ran off to Japan to brush up on her secret scary ninja training in case the white-haired man pops up again, which is more likely than not. Nolan (Gabriel Mann) learned to box, Charlotte kicked drugs and her brother Daniel became a drunk. Really, it was all very relaxing season of self-improvement, despair and decadence. It's important to rest up for all the scheming ahead.
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<p>Steve Zahn and John Boutte in &quot;Trem&eacute;.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Steve Zahn and John Boutte in "Tremé." 

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Tremé' - 'Saints'

What's life for if you have to do without the thing you love most?

A few quick thoughts on tonight's "Tremé" coming up just as soon as I set a date to set a date...

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<p>Claire Danes in the &quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Claire Danes in the "Homeland" season premiere.

Credit: Showtime

Season premiere review: 'Homeland' - 'The Smile'

The Emmy-winning drama returns with Carrie and Brody in very different places

"Homeland" is back for a new season, and I have a review of the premiere — plus a few thoughts from producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon — coming up just as soon as I love Julia Roberts...

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<p>Rachael Taylor in &quot;666 Park Avenue.&quot;</p>

Rachael Taylor in "666 Park Avenue."

Credit: ABC

Series premiere review: '666 Park Avenue'

What did everybody think of the new ABC drama?

"666 Park Avenue" is one of this week's new shows I didn't write a review of. As I said on Thursday's podcast, campy gothic horror/soap opera isn't generally my kind of show, and this one's not so well-done to transcend my disinterest. Of course, I'm also not a fan of either "Once Upon a Time" or "Revenge," the two ABC shows this one is kind of mashing up, but I know many of you are. (And FWIW, Fienberg liked "666 Park," while Liane was mixed.)

So for those of you who tuned into "666 Park," what did you think? Were Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams chewing up enough scenery for you? Did you like Rachael Taylor and Dave Annable, or find them too naive to care about?  Did you find the show creepy or just goofy? And will you watch again?

Have at it.

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<p>Jaymes and James of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Jaymes and James of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Premiere - 'Double Your Money'

Which team earned the chance to hypothetically win $2 million?
If you're a regular reader of my "Amazing Race" recaps, I bet you think you can predict the first thing I'm going to say about Sunday (September 30) night's premiere.
 
Wrong!
 
I want to talk about the fact that Team Monster Truck -- Rob & Kelley -- seems to be using rollaboard luggage rather than traditional backpacks. My knowledge of "Amazing Race" isn't as encyclopedic as for some of the shows I recap, but I can't remember this ever being done previously. Was there a rule change? Or do Rob and/or Kelley have back problems of some sort that require a luggage alternative? It's not like backpacks with wheels are a new invention. Is the theory that rollies are actually slower than backpacks? They obviously are slower when you're in a crowded area and you have to navigate quickly. But they're easier if you happen to be weaker. 
 
These are the questions I pondered as I saw Team Monster Truck navigating around the Bund in Shanghai. It struck me as weird. And so I wanted to bring it up.
 
[Buddy Andy from RealityBlurred notes that flight attendants Jodi & Christie from S. 14 had rollaboards.]
 
Bet you didn't expect that to be the first thing discussed in my recap tonight.
 
I bet you expected me to go on my traditional jeremiad about how it's absolutely asinine to premiere seasons of "The Amazing Race" or "Survivor" with hour-long episodes. 
 
And guess what? It's true, darnit!
 
Normally, I just use my premiere week recaps to go through each of the teams, listing the teams that I'm liking and the teams I'm disliking, which tends to be a good way for me to keep the teams straight in my head and break down the initial impressions they left. 
 
Guess what? After one hour? I'm really not liking or disliking anybody. I'm impressed by Monster Truck Rob and his eating prowess (more on that in a bit). It's absolutely impossible not to be impressed by Amy with her two artificial legs. I've decided that Nadiya is The Annoy Twin. I find Beekman Boys Josh and Brent to be amusing, but they're professional reality show stars, so of course they are. But, in the balance after one hour, I have no rooting interest, positive or negative, towards any team. And that's the kind of thing you avoid by doing an extended premiere for competition series that have to introduce 22 new people. Look at "Survivor," which premiered its Philippines season with a 90-minute episode. After 90 minutes, I had vague awareness of all 18 contestants (albeit a group that included three returning players and two pseudo-stars). 
 
After 60 minutes tonight? Whatever. 
 
And what's worse: Of the 11 "Amazing Race" teams this season, at least four of the teams are same-gender pairings in which I will NEVER be able to properly distinguish between players, at least not on my tiny Slingbox screen. Team White Lion and Team Sri Lankan Twins were always going to be a struggle. If Natalie wears her hair down and Naiya always wears a scrunchie, I might occasionally make a correct ID. Ditto if James (he of White Lion and Megadeath) always wears dark shades and Abba (formerly "Mark") wears clear glasses. James and Abba aren't brothers and they don't look that much alike, but in the "Amazing Race" chaos (and, again, on my Slingbox), there're close enough. 
 
I have the same issue with Team Chippendale. Jaymes (blonde and scruffy) and James (brunette and scruffy) have similar stature and different features, but recognizing those differences while also retaining which is "James" and which is "Jaymes" is a lost cause.
 
And finally, Caitlin and Brittany? One played soccer and one played volleyball, but otherwise? they're both tall, slender blondes with REALLY white teeth. Staring at headshots for a couple seconds, I think Brittany is the one I find cuter, but that's not useful on the fly.
 
[More after the break...
 
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<p>Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall in &quot;Dexter.&quot;</p>

Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall in "Dexter."

Credit: Showtime

Season premiere review: 'Dexter' - 'Are You?'

What did everybody think of the Showtime drama's return?

I posted my review of the new season of "Dexteryesterday. Now it's your turn. Given the unhappiness so many "Dexter" fans had with the last season (if not the last two, or even three of the last four), were you satisfied enough with how the show dealt with the Deb/Dexter cliffhanger to put those bad feelings aside? Or are you always going to feel skeptical about the show from here until the end? Is anyone done with the show now, and/or has anyone been roped back in after giving up, like I was? Have at it.

My Sunday plate's too full to put "Dexter" back into the rotation, but I'll definitely be back to discuss the season after the finale, and possibly once or twice in between if something notable happens.

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<p>Charlie Cox and Bobby Cannavale in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Charlie Cox and Bobby Cannavale in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Bone For Tuna'

Nucky tries to make peace with Gyp, Margaret hatches a plan and Richard takes offense

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I can find an insult in a bed of roses...

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"Once Upon A Time"

 "Once Upon A Time"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Once Upon A Time' delivers justice to the evil queen - or does it?

The curse is broken on Storybrooke, but will there be consequences?

So, after waiting all summer for "Once Upon A Time" to return to the air, fans of the show were rubbing their hands together in glee at what seemed like an inevitable plot payoff on tonight's season premiere. When we left the show, the curse over Storybrooke had been lifted, and all our fairy tale favorites were no longer blinded to their true selves -- or evil queen Regina (Lana Parrilla)'s role in that unpleasantness. So yeah, she's gonna get her what for and how, right? Well, kind of. 

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"666 Park Avenue"

 "666 Park Avenue"

Credit: ABC

Review: '666 Park Avenue' looks posh but might be a fixer-upper

Though 2 stars are villainous fun, the promise of future plotlines is unclear

Given that “666 Park Avenue” is centered on such a fundamentally monochrome battle of good versus evil (The demon’s sneaky emissaries! Pitiful, weak-willed humans!), it seems downright wrong to feel wishy-washy about the show. In the pilot, it doesn’t seem as if our main foursome has much tolerance for shades of grey, and I’m not talking about the book.

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Watch: 'The Simpsons' producer Al Jean talks Season 24

Watch: 'The Simpsons' producer Al Jean talks Season 24

Longtime showrunner teases guest voices and more
"The Simpsons" kicks off its 24th season on Sunday (September 30) night.
 
Long-time showrunner and writer and executive producer Al Jean hasn't been there for all 24 seasons, but it certainly seems like he has been. One of the original "Simpsons" writers and in the midst of a showrunning tenure that has dated back to 2001, Jean has been one of the show's key media presences, responding to every milestone, development and controversy, every innovation or wrinkle in the show's venerable formula, every guest star and every programming stunt. 
 
That means that I've chatted with Al Jean with a regularity that's almost like clockwork. Here, for example, are our conversations before the start of Season 21, Season 22 and Season 23. If you look at the publication dates for those interviews, you'll see that it's almost eerie.
 
That means that this year's Al Jean interview is a few days late, but I think it's the best we've done together. In the conversation, we talk about  Sunday's premieres, about Season 24 guest stars and about the show's ongoing ability to stir up controversy for the oddest of reasons. 
 
It's kinda long, so the first part is above and the second part is embedded below.
 
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<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP

Music Power Rankings: Lil Wayne leads Mumford and Katy Perry

Country royalty George Strait and Reba McEntire make the list too


1.  Lil Wayne:
Weezy surpasses Elvis Presley for the most appearances by any artist on the Billboard Hot 100 (there are caveats galore here). We can’t wait to hear Lil Wayne’s version of “Love Me Tender.” 

2. Mumford & Sons: The British folk rock group will take “Babel” to the top of the Billboard 200 next week with the highest first-week sales of the year. If you stacked up 600,000 CDs, would they be as high as the Tower of Babel?

3. Katy Perry: Billboard names the California Gurl its Woman of the Year.

4. George Strait:  Country’s King George announces that he will retire from touring in 2014. He’ll always be king of our hearts, just no longer king of the road.

5. Reba McEntire: After hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards consecutively since 1999 (and for the last two with Blake Shelton), the legendary country artist hangs up her hosting shingle.

6. Sony /ATV:  Apple may seem unstoppable, but it would appear that’s not the case: According to several published reports, the world’s largest music publisher, Sony/ATV, halted Apple in its tracks from introducing its streaming service via the iPhone 5 after they couldn’t agree on a rate schedule.

7. Lyor Cohen:
Warner Music Group’s gruff and tough chairman/CEO steps down to reportedly start his own talent management firm. Good luck to the labels who will now deal with him on the opposite side of the negotiations table.

8. Universal Music Group:
  UMG completes its $1.9 billion purchase of EMI after more than a year vetting by various territory’s regulatory commissions.  Wait... we’re still haven’t heard from Lichtenstein.

9. The Beatles:  The newly remastered Beatles albums will come out on vinyl for their first time in November. Let the magical mystery tour begin anew.

10. Jay-Z:
He kicked off the first of his 8-night residency at Brooklyn’s brand new Barclays Center on Friday night. SInce he’s a minority investor in the arena, it’s the same thing as a house gig, right?

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