New and notable in the week ahead…
- Teen Choice Awards (Fox, 8pm) – Miley Cyrus is hosting this year and as I understand it is having a dance off with her crew but has rejected the offer of a girl kiss.
- I Want to Work for Diddy (VH1, 9pm) Series Premiere – Diddy is adding to his television empire.
- Nashville Star (NBC, 10pm) Season Finale – I’m torn between the hispanic country guy with a great twang and the big voiced mom though overall better talent than AI, not that I actually listen to country music, oh and that Billy Ray Cyrus is maybe the stiffest host I’ve seen in my life.
- New York Goes to Hollywood (VH1, 10pm) Series Premiere – I Love New York didn’t make her a big enough celebrity so now she’s conquering Hollywood, or not.
- Luke’s Parental Advisory (VH1, 10:30pm) Series Premiere – Luke Campbell is family man and rowdy rap mogul.
- Million Dollar Listing (Bravo, 11pm) Series Premiere – Follow a sale from listing to close with undoubtedly some personalities.
- Hard Knocks (HBO, 10pm) Season Premiere – Training camp with the Dallas Cowboys returns.
- Man vs. Wild (Dsc, 10pm) Season Premiere – Bear hits the Mexican desert and faces off with the elements, and bees.
- Last Comic Standing (NBC, 8pm) Season Finale – Let’s hope this one’s funny.
- So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, 8pm) Season Finale – The final dancer is picked, and the Jonas Brothers perform.
- Bill Engvall Show/My Boys (TBS, 9/9:30/10pm) Season Finales – Hijinks and humor as the seasons wrap.
- Hopkins (ABC, 10pm) Season Finale – And the folks at the hospital keep doing what they do.
- Summer Olympics (NBC, 8pm 7:30pm) – The opening ceremony kicks off the NBC coverage though soccer starts the previous Wed on MSNBC, additional coverage on CNBC, USA and some Oxygen and goes for three weeks of the world’s finest in sports.
- Damages (Fx, 7am) Marathon – In case you missed out on all or part of this first season you can catch the full 13 episode season marathon.
- Primeval (BBC, 9pm) Series Premiere – Rips in the fabric of time seem to let prehistoric critters loose so evolutionary zoologist and his team are on it.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, 9pm) – Catch up on last season’s show that grew on me with a different ep Sunday through Wed at 9, starting with the pilot.
New and notable in the week ahead…
- The Recruiter (HBO, 9pm) – This week’s special focuses on an army recruiter in a time where recruiting is probably not the easiest thing.
- Eureka (Scifi, 9pm) Season Premiere – Another season of the wacky weird science geniuses getting out of control accidentally or on purpose and the sheriff who tries to keep it all together.
- Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil (Com, 10:30) Season Premiere – Who is more evil, ultimate fighters or bloggers?
- Hopkins (ABC, 10pm) Season Finale – I guess it’s more on the patients and staff of Johns Hopkins, but really I don’t believe the commercials that this is what the cast of Grey’s is watching now.
- Dr Who (Scifi, 8:30pm) Season Finale – The fourth season wraps up featuring characters from spinoff shows The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood.
- X Games (ABC, sa/su 12pm and ESPN/ESPN2 various times starting Thurs) – Skateboard, bmx, moto x, and rally car this year in LA, but will Jake Brown try the mega ramp again, it should happen on Thursday.
- Girl on the Loose/Sunset Tan (E!, 10pm) Series Debut/Season Premiere – And another reality show where we learn more… this time it’s Pam Anderson, then apparently a show I’ve somehow missed where celebrities go get tan, I sense a crossover episode on the way.
- The Factory (Spike, 10pm) Season Finale – You can catch up, if you want, with a mini marathon starting at 7:30 to see what these guys have been up to.
So a few years after getting cable and stumbling on the Lance channel (now Vs-Versus previously OLN-Outdoor Living Network) where they seemed to show Lance Armstrong riding his bike 24 hours a day for weeks, I have become a bit hooked on the Tour de France. It’s actually quite interesting once you learn some of the basics and once you figure out what parts of the tour you can fast forward through (no one should watch 3-6 hours of cycling a day). I’m still figuring it out but here’s where I’m at.
The tour typically takes 23 days with two rest days. The route changes each year but circles the country popping in and out of other countries at times along the way with a finish in Paris. There are about 20 teams invited to the tour with 9 riders each. Each stage covers roads that range from flat to mountainous, with usually a few days in each of the Alps and the Pyrenees. All of the riders start together on these stages except for the couple stages that are time trials where the riders have staggered starts and must ride against the clock. Some tours include a team trial where the team as a whole rides together for time. Unfortunately at the end of the day, not all the riders finish due to injury on crashes, not finishing within the appropriate time (usually a percentage of the winner’s time), abandoning the race, and of course being kicked out for drug use. Though a few riders are still caught doping we’re hoping the fact that they’re caught means that the system is working.
More Than One Way to Win
So we all learned that yellow was good as we watched Lance roll into Paris wearing the yellow jersey (a record number seven times) which is awarded for the overall cumulative fastest time, the competitors for this are often referred to as the GC (General Classification). But that’s not the only jersey awarded, there’s the white for the best young rider (under the age of 25) with the best cumulative time, green jersey for sprinters who win points for their place in overall finishes and various points in the stages, and the polka dot jersey awarded for winning points on the mountains. And of course the winner of each stage. There are also a few other claims to fame including the overall leading team and most aggressive rider awarded for a day’s performance.
Really a Team Sport
So though individuals often receive the glory it really is a strong team that can make the difference in the race. There is a tremendous amount of strategy used within a team to make sure that their individual contenders have the best shot at their win. Cyclists draft off one another but they also may do things like move to the front of the peloton (the main pack of cyclists) and set the pace, chase down breakaways (those trying to go faster than the peloton), lead out sprint stages to set up for the win, and go back for water to bring to the front riders. Phil and Paul, two of the best sports commentators there are, try to explain all this and more during the many hours of coverage. Vs usually has a a live show at the crack of dawn and replays throughout the day in edited formats with a primetime show hosted by Craig and Bob (Al used to hold Craig’s spot but we think he’s too busy in an Olympic year).
Who’s On Top
So we’ve wrapped up the major mountain stages where the ride is so hard that it’s usually where the GC guys win or lose the stage, but the last men standing are still surprisingly close together. The next couple of stages aren’t thought to allow a break by anyone competitive overall and it’s thought that the final time trial on Saturday might be what determines who will finish up first. The final stage into Paris is almost never challenged by the GC guys and left for the sprinters to make their push for the line. The top four riders, Sastre, Schleck, Kohl and Evans, are all separated by less than two minutes which is potentially enough for things to change. All eyes are on Evans who is great in the time trial and is theoretically able to beat current leader Sastre by one to two minutes, but will he have the legs this Saturday? Time will tell.
New and notable in the week ahead…
- Wanna Bet (ABC, 9pm) Series Debut – Celebs earn money for charities by betting on the outcome of random people’s random stunts.
- Heidi Fleiss (HBO, 9pm) – This special takes a look at the would-be madam of crystal.
- Date My Ex (Bravo, 10pm) – I’ve never caught the Real Housewives of OC but apparently alum Jo De La Rosa is looking for love with her ex Slade Smiley.
- Legally Blonde the Musical (MTV, 10pm) Season Finale – And a new elle woods is crowned.
- Breaking Bad (AMC, 12am) – If you missed this series last season they are replaying the pilot episode.
- Deadliest Catch (Disc, 9/10pm) Season Finale – The finale is followed by a behind the scenes look.
- How to Look Good Naked (Life, 10pm) Season Premiere – I hope Carson is helping these women with their self esteem issues though I wasn’t all that entertained by the one show I caught.
- General Hospital: Night Shift (Soap, 11pm) Season Premiere – I’m just including this because we couldn’t figure out what Antonio Sabato Jr had acted in, and apparently this is it.
- Buzzin’ (MTV, 10:30) Series Debut – Who was saying more reality of nobodies? If you raised your hand, check out Cisco Adler (of dated Mischa Barton fame) doing something somewhat music related.
- Criss Angel: Mindfreak (A&E, 10/10:30pm) Season Premiere – I don’t really understand this guy but apparently he does ‘magic, mentalism, and dazzling pyrotechnic effects’.
- Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader (Fox, 8pm) Season Finale – I think the answer to that is usually no.
- Dale Jr (ESPN, 7pm) Season Finale – Apparently Dale is switching racing teams and we’ve been following right along.
- Beach Volleyball (NBC, sa/su 11:30am) – The Crocs tour stops in Long Beach.
- Tour de France (Vs, 4:30am, and all week leading up to this – also CBS, 10am) – Well they’ve been riding for three weeks and as they ride into Paris who will be wearing yellow? Earlier stages throughout the week on vs. and several times each day but CBS is doing what will probably be a recap and final on Sunday.
- Shark Week (Disc, 9pm – shows throughout the week) – Mythbusters kicks on shark week doing what they do best, busting myths and these are of course shark related.
- Mad Men (AMC, 10pm) Season Premiere – Folks do seem to like this period show about ad guys.
- The Next Food Network Star (Food, 10pm) Season Finale – And a food network star is chosen.
New and notable for the week ahead… live times are noted as pst, always check your local listings.
- The Bachelor (ABC, 8pm) – Where are they now? Or you can look it up on tvguide.
- The Closer (TNT, 9pm) Season Premiere – I have been watching reruns of this on TNT and just realized that they are skipping episodes and not showing the whole seasons, now I’m debating whether trying to netflix just the episodes I missed which is kind of a pain, they are doing a marathon throughout the day.
- Saving Grace (TNT, 10pm) Season Premieres – I’ve been looking forward to season two of Holly Hunter drinking and sleeping with inappropriate men and dealing with her angel Earl.
- China’s Stolen Children (HBO, 9pm) – The latest special…
- The Cleaner (A&E, 10pm) Series Premiere – Benjamin Bratt is a now clean but not problem free addict who helps others get clean, and for some reason has a crew of folks to help him out.
- From G’s to Gents (MTV, 10pm) Series Premiere – Can they make these bad boys go good, a new reality competition was definitely needed to answer that.
- Project Runway (Bravo, 9pm) Season Premiere – I think the whole gang is back for the new crew of competition.
- Dog the Bounty Hunter (A&E, 9pm) Season Premiere – This guy is apparently back with a vengeance.
- Celebrity Circus (NBC, 10pm) Season Finale – Wee man, Stacey Dash, and Antonio ‘actor” Sabato Jr. compete for… circus bragging rights.
- Family Foreman (TV Land, 10pm) Series Premiere – Apparently we need to see more of George Foreman in this reality series.
- The Gong Show (Comedy, 10pm) Series Premiere – Dave Attell (?) hosts the new version of this classic hit of wacky acts.
- Reality Bites Back (Comedy, 10:30pm) Series Premiere – What could follow the Gong Show better than comedians competing in classic game show feats from gladiators to smarter than a 5th grader.
- Monk (USA, 9pm) Season Premiere – Tony Shaloub plays a nutso phobic private detective.
- Psych (USA, 10pm) Season Premiere – A particularly observant guy pretends to be psychic and solves crimes with a buddy.
- Action Sports Tour (NBC, sa/su 1pm – also on USA sa/su 12am) – The Right Guard Open is the Cleveland stop of the Dew Tour.
- Beach Volleyball (NBC, sa/su 11:30am) – The AVP Crocs Tour shows us the finals from Brooklyn.
- Skateboarding (CBS, 12pm) – The Maloof Money Cup Championships from Costa Mesa, Ca.
- And of course you could catch up on more of the tour de france, moving right along…
- High School Musical: Get in the Picture (ABC, 8pm) Series Debut – Nick Lachey hosts this competition for kids to get into the action of the High School Musical franchise, and I think the winner gets shown in the closing credits.
- ESPYs (ESPN, 9pm) – Justin Timberlake hosts as they recognize sports achievements throughout the year.
Now he’s also a great athlete and apparently his feet are so big they act as flippers but… In catching some of the US Olympic Trials getting all geared up for the Olympics I couldn’t help but think he has somehow beat the system by picking the right sport.
First there is the injury factor, of course a swimmer could get injured, but not like these other sports. After watching those little gymnasts’ limbs snap like twigs I wondered if it was all worth it. Picking the team wasn’t just about picking the best gymnasts it was about predicting the future of kids held together with tacks and tape. How long will it take them to heal, how long will it take them to get back into shape? At the end of the day will they be the best?
And then of course there are the sports where you have to depend on someone else? Team sports like soccer and even the pairs of beach volleyball. Counting on someone else can bring an incredible camaraderie. But what happens when they have shoulder surgery and may or may not be ready for the event that comes once every four years. (#1 beach volleyball team member Carrie Walsh looks great with or without a 100% shoulder by the way)
Then there is the nice calm race factor where everyone stays in their own lanes and the competition is completely about how well you race your race. No one is getting in your way, like those track people where they all smush together in the same lane, this one guy in track literally elbowed his way out of the pack to move forward, or cycling where people can actually crash and take you down with them (brings to mind speed skating of the winter Olympics).
And, I can barely imagine competing at world class level under any circumstances, but if you add random weather into the equation I might melt. Why Phelps he just dives into the water that is kept at whatever the appropriate world record setting temperature is. What could be easier?
Now I look at all of these things and already think he’s made the right call. Now add on to that the fact that he’s competing in a sport where it is possible to compete in a bunch of different events and win a bunch of different medals. This six time gold medalist (plus two bronze) has the possibility to get eight more at the 2008 games. He’s competing in five individual events, four that he holds the world record in and one that he beat the world record holder at trials, and then three relays.
Makes you almost feel sorry for those people who only win one gold medal…. Though who I won’t feel sorry for is a woman who is putting me to shame, can I no longer use my age as my reason for not being in great shape? 41 year old Dara Torres won the 100 and 50 free in the trials. Though she already has nine Olympic medals from her four previous Olympics, four of them gold. See what I mean. It’s almost like they’re cheating.
New and notable this week, live events are typically noted as pst, check your local listings.
- Bachelorette (ABC, 810pm) Season Finale – Will DeAnne leave without love once again, or will she join what I think is one other successful Bachelorette in beating the odds? And of course the After the Final Rose following.
- The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale (HBO, 9pm) – Artist paints and talks and drinks.
- Hell’s Kitchen (Fox, 8pm) Season Finale – Gordon Ramsay hasn’t chased all the contestants away?
- Celebrity Family Feud (NBC, 8pm) – The Hickies and the Camden County Allstars from My Name is Earl compete.
- Baldwin Hills (BET, 10pm) Season Premiere – Rumor has it this show is like The Hills, which I don’t watch, but apparently the people aren’t quite so vapid.
- Click & Clack’s As the Wrench Turns (PBS, 8pm) Season Premiere – Car Talk in animation…
- Scare Tactics (SciFi, 10pm) Season Premiere – Tracy Morgan hosts as they trick folks in a scary and mean way.
- Greatest American Dog (CBS, 8pm) Series Premiere – Well I know a few dog owners who think they know the answer to who is the greatest, not sure what the dogs/owners need to do to prove otherwise.
- Burn Notice (USA, 10pm) Season Premiere – As our ex spy tries to figure out why and by whom he was burned he gets forced to help the folks who did it, with help of sidekicks I’m sure.
- Joan of Arcadia (SciFi, 8pm) – Missed this show the first time around or just miss this show, catch the pilot and fall for it again.
- Flashpoint (CBS, 10pm – replays on Sun) Series Premiere – This elite police unit might not have much going for it but with Mr. Veronica Mars in the cast I’ll at least check it out.
- Stargate Atlantis (SciFi, 10pm) Season Premiere – Space or water and a portal or stargate, I think.
- Tour de France (VS) – Perhaps today should be a catch up day for the previous week’s nearly 24 hour coverage of the tour, with Stage 8 today.
- Beach Volleyball (NBC, Sa/Su 11:30/10:30am) – Men and then women compete in the final in the Chicago stop of the AVP Crocs tour.
- Big Brother (CBS, 8pm) Season Premiere – As we head into season 10 I can vaguely recall tuning into the first season and wondering how they could possibly get people to watch this terribly dull and cheesy show three nights a week, I can be wrong.
- Foyle’s War (PBS, 10pm) – Masterpiece brings us the fifth round of this series.
- Miss Universe (NBC, 9pm) – Now the prettiest in the Universe must be prettier than the prettiest in America, either that or they’re now screening super heroes.
- Generation Kill (HBO, 9pm) – This miniseries kicks off about a Marine Unit heading to Iraq, and though the Entertainment Weekly review notes the initial difficulty in telling the troops apart they warm up to it and give it an A-.
Well after a few early round upsets the grass courts of the Championships at Wimbledon are clocking in as many expected. Men’s have a round on Friday for one last chance at upset. Roger Federer (1) is playing Safin and Nadal (2) is taking on Schuettler in the semis. The two are scheduled to meet Sunday morning in a much anticipated rematch.
Roger wasn’t able to step it up in their last meeting at French, Nadal’s best surface. Nadal has improved his game on grass and he came close in last year’s finals. Questions of Roger’s fade could be countered by noting his mono early in the year, though his poor performace in the French final wasn’t a good sign. He hasn’t dropped a set yet here on his favorite surface and we’ve seen moments of his greatness yet again. Is it enough to stop Nadal’s rise or will Nadal stop Roger from taking his sixth Wimbledon title? I should note that even if he is able to take this one, his track record at the upcoming US Open isn’t quite as optimistic.
On the women’s side we’re all set for the final on Saturday. There are some groans as Serena (6) and Venus (7) Williams are set to go. The top seeds have all fallen but Venus and Serena are no strangers to the top spots, they just haven’t played enough or consistently enough to get their rankings up. It seems they’re rededicated and in shape, and their performance shows it.
As for the groans, when the Williams sisters first made their way to the tops their play against each other was always quite lackluster. Though this is their first final meeting in five years so we’re hoping they’ve matured to give us a good show. And who will win? Anyone’s guess as Venus has had more success here at 4 to 2 but Serena’s had a stronger path in. The gals are also doubles partners heading into the semis tomorrow for that as well.
I always forget how much more coverage of this slam there is than any other, they say it’s because it’s more popular, chicken/egg I say. Regardless, tune in to see who will end up triumphant. NBC network coverage (times noted are PST) and full coverage at: http://www.wimbledon.org
- Friday noon – Men’s Semis
- Saturday 6am – Women’s Final
- Sunday 6am – Men’s Final
So we are at the second of the four annual Grand Slams, the major tennis tournaments throughout the year, Australian, Wimbledon, and US Open being the other three. The surfaces vary somewhat in the four slams, and the French is the only major on clay. The clay courts are slower making it harder to hit a winning shot and typically favor those who move well with the signature slide.
The men’s field is lining up as expected. Three time French winner Nadal (ranked 2) trying to make it four. He’s got to knock out Djokovic (3) in the semis, and Djokovic won the Australian and has been proving himself a worthy opponent throughout the year. But Nadal is a master on clay and he’s expected to face Federer (1) who just has to take out Frenchman Monfils on his side for them to repeat last year’s final.
But will it be a true repeat or does Federer have a chance to take his one unclaimed slam? I have to admit that I think Federer is such a great player overall that he deserves to get this under his belt. But this might not be the year, he had a slow start due to of all things mono, but he seems to be back where he needs to be.
The women’s field started pretty wide open this year with former French winner and overall number one Justine Henin retiring prior to the start of the whole shebang (no one is quite sure why she retired, no more oomph?). Sharapova won the Australian and inherited the first rank but clay isn’t her surface and she just never got in the zone. And the still potentially great but sporadic Williams sisters got knocked out as well.
So who do we turn to? Up and comer Ivanovic (2) defeated Jankovic (3) in what turned out to be a Serb semi and will face Safina (13), the winner over Kuznetsova (4) in the Russian semi. We didn’t have a previous French winner in the bunch and Kuznetsova was the only one to have previously won a slam with the US Open, but her play is just too sporadic. I have to admit I like the favorite Ivanovic, she’s just sort of adorable, not only quite pretty but she always seems perky and happy and has been proving herself with a steady rise. Ivanovic also takes over the number 1 rank by reaching the finals over the rest of the lot.
NBC network coverage (times noted are PST) and full coverage at http://www.rolandgarros.com/
- Friday 10am -Men’s Semis
- Saturday 6am – Women’s Final
- Sunday 6am – Men’s Final