I’m finally recapping the last two episodes of last season of Amazing Race. Watch the teams play in a Japanese game show, swim in a phone booth fish tank, build a giant robot and throw flour from a prop plane in the 11th episode “Amazing Crazy Race” and the 12th episode, “The Winning Team is Declared.” Come read what Amy, Steve and I had to say about these final two episodes of the last season.
Set in 1865-1866 in New Zealand during the gold rush, 13 men try to solve a bunch of local mysteries, involving an opium-addicted whore, a missing prospector, a recently deceased man with a wife that no one knew about and a scarred man that no one likes. This is a long book, but it is necessary to cover all the story taking place between those men and all those other people.
Yes, I’m still catching up from the end of last season. This is the second to last episode, “Cobra in my Teeth,” where the final four teams run around Indonesia eating cobras, hard-boiling eggs in a volcano crater and putting makeup on each other. Come join the commentary from Amy, Steve and me.
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe
Christian Bale is a rancher who is apparently in debt and who’s land is in the way of building the railroad. During a little cattle drive thingy with his sons, they stumble on Russell Crowe and his gang holding up a stagecoach. Crowe lets them live, but steals their horses. They find their horses a little ways away and make their way back into town with the lone survivor of the robbery.
Crowe gets arrested shortly after they get back into town by the sheriff. They set up a little team of lawmen and railroad people to transport the criminal to a nearby town with a railroad station so they can send him to prison to be hanged. Evidently he’s robbed and killed lots of people. They need extra help since Crowe’s gang is trying to free him, so they recruit Bale, who desperately needs the money.
As they head for the town with the train station, Crowe’s gang pursues and attacks them, Apaches try to kill them, and Crowe escapes once and gets recaptured by some railroad building people who want to kill him since he killed some of their family members previously. He’s an awesome guy. Christian Bale and the original captors eventually find and take him back though from the railroad builders
Once they get into the town, they barricade themselves into a hotel waiting for the 3:10 to Yuma train and recruit reinforcements of local deputies. Unfortuantely, for them, Crowe’s gang offers anyone in the town money to kill any of Crowe’s captors and so people start lining up to free him. It’s the wild west, apparently it’s okay to do stuff like this. Anyway, eventually the only people left guarding Crowe are Christian Bale, one of his sons, and a railroad official who bails on them. Before that, Bale makes a deal that if he can get Crowe on the train, the railroad official will go give a ton of money to Bale’s wife. I wasn’t paying enough attention at the beginning to know if it’s enough money to save their ranch and get them out of debt, but it was a lot. Bale and Crowe then make a run for the train and a huge shootout ensues with what’s left of Crowe’s gang and the townpeople looking to cash in. Through the course of the last act, Crowe starts to respect Bale for what he’s doing for this family and actually helps him along the way. This is partially because people are shooting everywhere and there’s a good chance Crowe will die in the fight and partially because he tells Bale he’s been to Yuma prison twice before and escaped, so it’s really not that big of a deal for him to get on the train. There is also a lot of cattle in this movie if you’re into that sort of thing.
I’m not a huge fan of Westerns, but this movie really is excellent. There are lots of recognizable people in this movie playing small parts like Peter Fonda as the guy who survives the stagecoach robbery, fat Luke Wilson as some random cowboy, and Gretchen Mol as as Christian Bale’s wife. She’s only in the movie for like 10 minutes, but she manages to look all constipated and unhappy, just like every other movie she’s in. Also, Ben Foster plays Crowe’s right-hand man and leads his gang to try and rescue him. He’s awesome and just shoots people randomly. Yet another piece of evidence in why you should not trust gingers. My favorite random part of this movie is a little spoilerish, but basically, Russell Crowe is trying to escape and has taken Peter Fonda hostage, then he just throws him off of a cliff. Awesome!
I’m not sure this movie is really suitable for repeated viewing, but it’s definitely worth watching one time.
Rating: Four stars out of five
It is not the book’s fault that it took me almost a year to read it. It is long but I did start reading it when I started watching the third season of Game of Thrones. I wanted to be surprised in the show so I stopped reading the book until it was over. Then I struggled since I knew overall what happened for half of it. I do enjoy the book as much as the show. It is different in a good way. I love knowing the back story more in the books. I feel like I know the motivations for some of the characters better.
The holidays and travel caught up with me, so I am finally going back to finish up my recaps of the last season of Amazing Race. In this ninth episode, teams traveled to Indonesia to feed elephants and have nervous breakdowns trying to make music. Click through to read the commentary from Amy, Steve and me in this episode titled, “Part Like the Red Sea.”
I know there is a lot worse television out there than what is on my list, but what I picked here were shows that I watched or continue to watch and wonder why I do. They made me angry more than giving me any enjoyment. Did you watch something more horrible than what I listed? Please let me know so I can avoid it!
1. True Blood
This show has been going downhill for a while now. I barely made it through the first season, but loved the second and third season. As I have discussed with Amy many times, they made a mistake when they killed Franklin. He was the best over-the-top character. They could have made him turn Tara into a vampire way back when and they could have been the “Spike and Drucilla” of True Blood, tormenting everyone (vampire or not). Instead, we had to wait until season five for Tara to turn into a boring vampire. The show was always a campy, silly show, but it seems to have forgotten what made people like it. There were so many boring story lines the past few years. They brought werewolves into the show, but then they kept doing the same boring story about pack masters. The books the show is based are not well-written, but they did better stuff with the werewolves than the writers of this show. Does anyone care about Sam on this show? Has he ever been given anything useful to do besides own the bar and moon over Sookie? Everytime the story switched to him, I wanted to close my eyes and wait for the next scene. I was thrilled when I heard next season is the last one but I think they should have just wrapped it up this past season. I don’t think I even care to watch it beyond this one. Eric and Alcide running around naked is not enough to make me want to continue watching. At least we did get to see Eric naked before I finally gave up.
When I was creating this list, I had closer to 20 shows that I whittled down to 15. Then I finally got it down to 10. Please post what you think is missing and I can let you know if it was just outside this list.
1. Breaking Bad
I have loved this show since it first aired. I actually found a review I wrote about it back in 2008. I also had it on my Best of TV lists in 2008 and 2010. I haven’t been very consistent in my year-end lists or else it would have been on all of them since it aired. I think the best seasons of this show were the third and fourth seasons. The first half of the fifth season were last year. Some of those episodes weren’t my favorite since there was so much plot trying to be crammed in all at once that it lost some of what I love about the show. It did end on a huge cliffhanger. The second half of the fifth season was this year and it was impressive. I’m still not sure if I loved how it ultimately ended, but I did like so many things that happened in that last episode. One of the final episodes with the huge shootout in the desert and everything surrounding it was so tense and crazy that it made me physically sick watching it. That’s what I love about this show. It was fantastic.
I read the book trilogy in about a week while the first movie was being filmed. I really enjoyed the first book, found the second one to be decent and thought the third book to drag on endlessly with a happy ending randomly tacked on as an epilogue. I still plan on seeing all the movies since I am curious about what will be done with them and I love Jennifer Lawrence. Even though I liked the first book more than the second one, I found myself enjoying watching the second movie more than the first one.
I have never seen an episode of Jackass or any of the previous Jackass movies. I know what they are about, but I have just missed out on that part of society. I found that concept of Bad Grandpa hilarious though. Johnny Knoxville is dressed up like an 80-something old man who ends up having to watch his grandson for a few days and try to get away with horrible things while hidden cameras are nearby catching people’s reactions. It was like Borat, but with an old guy and a kid. I had to check it out.