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We'll be snarking our way through Sunday's Oscars - join us!

Like any good pop culture bloggers, we'll be tweeting/Instagramming/generally snarking our way through Sunday night's Oscars ceremony. Want to join the fun? Here's how. See you Sunday night!

 

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'Scandal' is back, and crazy as ever

Kerry Washington, brazenly not trying to hide her baby bump behind a desk or large purse.

ABC

Kerry Washington, brazenly not trying to hide her baby bump behind a desk or large purse.

Pull on your snappy blazer and get ready to deceive someone close to you - Scandal’s back! I’m not going to lie, after a two-month hiatus, it took me 5 or 10 minutes to get used to this show’s speedy walk-and-talks, zillions of plot threads and frantic editing again. But, after last night’s solidly bonkers episode, I’m fully on board to ride out the final 7 episodes of this season with Olivia and the gang. More thoughts:

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Links: Stuff you need to know before Sunday's Academy Awards

Ellen DeGeneres is hosting the Oscars this year.

Ellen DeGeneres is hosting the Oscars this year.

One of the biggest TV broadcasts of the year airs on ABC this Sunday: the 86th annual Oscars ceremony, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. And we in the Tampa Bay Times entertainment department are all over it. Here are some things you need to know before Sunday's Academy Awards:

What do this year's nine Best Picture nominees have in common? Well, most of them are based on things that actually happened.

And even the ones that aren't have a kernel of truth.

Yeah, but who's going to take home the gold? Times movie critic Steve Persall weighs in with his predictions.

If you're only tuning in Sunday to see glam celebs walk the red carpet, we've got a treat for you: Fierce Olympians/fashionistas Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski will report on fashion from NBC's red carpet.

Or, get your own red carpet fashion on at the Tampa Theatre during its big annual Oscar party Sunday. Say hi to our very own Sean Daly if you're out there.

Oh, and about those Oscar nominees that don't take the big prize? Yeah, they still get $80,000 worth of rich celebrity stuff in this consolation bag. That's an eight with FOUR zeroes.

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ABC's new show 'Mixology' isn't just bad, it's offensive

Yeah, we'd be cringing too if we have to be in the show.

ABC

Yeah, we'd be cringing too if we have to be in the show.

I’ve been having a blast this week reading the avalanche of negative reviews for ABC’s new show Mixology, which premiered Wednesday at 9:30 after Modern Family.

The show has an interesting concept: It follows 10 characters at the same bar on one night, focusing on different people in different episodes. It seems they’ll all cross paths eventually, and shenanigans will ensue. Sounds promising, so how bad could it be?

Um, guys, it’s really bad.

On the surface, it’s hateful and bro-tastic, which isn’t too surprising given who wrote it: The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.

But the bad vibes go much deeper.

The sitcom (de-emphasis on the “com” part) has an astonishingly hateful view of female-male relationships, and its depiction of women is nothing short of abhorrent. (Actually, it doesn’t seem to think very highly of men, either.) …

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Fake or Florida? Seth Meyers uses Sunshine State nuttiness for game-show hijinks

NBC

On Wednesday's Late Night With Seth Meyers, the former fake SNL newsman set up an old-school game-show set to tweak our glorious state via "Fake or Florida," in which two dull contestants from Up North, plus a cool lady from right here in Vacation Wonderland, had to guess whether an outlandish news item was bogus or actually went down in the F-L-A. Pageant moms, manatees, geriatric bingo players, zealots and "raccoons pushing a satellite dish off a carport" all get tweaked. The pacing's not quite right, Meyers' deadpan pauses don't play with the same fun as Letterman and, at this point, actually defending the Sunshine State would be more daring. But there are a few chuckles in there regardless. That said, I think the folks at Politifact or Punditfact should get on these news items right away. We can't be THAT messed up, can we?

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Your guide to watching the Oscars on Sunday

Sure, some people will just pop some popcorn and turn on the TV Sunday night to watch the Oscar telecast. Amateurs. True fans of the best award show know that things start much earlier and on multiple platforms. Here's your roadmap to keeping up with the fashion police and the snark patrol on Oscar night: …

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Agreeable, crowd-pleasing Kanye West (really?!) slays with hits medley on Seth Meyers

NBC

It seems for the past, oh, forever Kanye West has gone out of his way to be difficult, obtuse, headstrong, headcased when delivering his music in a live setting. His gigs, on TV or at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, combine the chaos that swirls in his skull like a brain in a blender. A jukebox he's not. That's why his Tuesday appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers was so kinda shocking and awesome. In the interview chair, he was chill, pleasant, funny, insightful, which you'll see below. Behind the mike, however, he was pure and fun and lovable, delivering a barrage of hits (relatively) straight -- AND WITHOUT A MASK!!! Alas, I couldn't find an embeddable video for the music, but you can watch the good stuff here. Oh, and Jesus Walks is still his best -- no debate.

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A (Sort Of) Jaws Reunion: Richard Dreyfuss meets Robert Shaw's granddaughter on Irish TV

All credit to Aint It Cool News for tracking this one down: Sixty-six-year-old Richard Dreyfuss,  appearing on RTE, Ireland's National Television and Radio Broadcaster, was surprised, and absolutely floored, by a meet-and-greet with the 14-year-old granddaughter of the late Robert Shaw. The two men were in Steven Spielberg's 1975 game-changer Jaws, of course: Dreyfuss as heavy-breathing oceanographer Matt Hooper, the crusty Shaw as ill-fated shark-hunter Quint. Jaws is in my Top 5 (it should be in EVERYONE's Top 5), so this short, sweet clip left me blubbering. If they had trotted out any of Roy Scheider's kids, I would have had to call off work.

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VIDEO: Josh Groban "helps" Jimmy Kimmel celebrate 2,000 shows

ABC

When you think of classic comedy teams -- Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Turner & Hooch -- rarely do you also think of Groban & Kimmel. And yet, poperatic hunk Josh Groban and late-night specialist Jimmy Kimmel have done a lot of genuinely funny things together, including THIS and, of course, THIS. On Monday's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the bromance was in full bloom yet again, celebrating the host's 2,000th show. Check it out, boys and girls.

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What to watch this week: 'Scandal', 'Late Night with Seth Meyers', 'The Voice'

NBC

The Olympics are over (boo!) so that means A LOT of our favorite shows are back from hiatus (yay!). The return of Scandal, The Voice and Hannibal top our list, plus tonight's premiere of Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Click here for our full list of this week's top TV.

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'Walking Dead' Recap: Crazy Cheese! (or: I Heart Rosita)

Rosita = awesome.

AMC

Rosita = awesome.

Although still not exactly a hardy-har knee-slapper, The Walking Dead is undergoing a funny change these days, embracing both a comic, and comedic, surrealness that totally works for me. Sure, Sunday's episode, titled "Claimed," had some fiendishly tense moments (no more so than a trapped Rick surprising a thug on the toilet -- which was actually kinda funny, come to think of it). And yet, for all the zombie slaying, in its 4th season, AMC's hit is displaying a relative light-heartedness, perhaps out of necessity. Who wants to watch a show that makes you feel lousy all the time? Whether that thread of levity continues as more and more of the Post-Prison Gang trudge toward Terminus (salvation...or not), who knows? But for now, there are altogether crowd-pleasing parts in place, more than ever before. Herewith, a rundown of undead smiles:

ROSITA Has there ever been a character as fanboy-titillating as this twin-pistol-packing pinup, who speaks softly and flashes midriff and shorty-shorts? For a show that revels in grit and realism, the new Rosita is straight out of glossy fantasy, like something a nerd would draw in his Trapper Keeper while daydreaming in high-school algebra. Played by va-voomish actress Christian Serratos (Twilight, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide), Rosita is presumably benevolent, an amorous sidekick for Sgt. Abraham Ford, a loopy toughie intent on saving the the world. All apologies to pretties Maggie, Daryl and Michonne: The Walking Dead has NEVER had eye-candy like Rosita.

CRAZY CHEESE A running gag in Sunday's ep, Crazy Cheese (aka sprayable Cheez Whiz) is yet another thing, along with candy bars and comic books, bonding Michonne and Carl. Our katana-wielding dreadlocked samurai tries to cheer up the Kid in the Hat by unloading a mondo glob of Crazy Cheese in her maw. He does't smile; she has to swallow the stuff. Ha! Where did that goofy gag come from? Perhaps it was BYOB Day in the writer's room? Regardless, it was a likable undercurrent for their otherwise heavy side-story about babies: Carl's sis Judith (he named her -- heartbreaking) and Michonne's boy Andre Anthony ("I had a 3-year-old son," she says, "and he happened to find me extremely funny"). Carl's kicker that the infants are "together somewhere" was genuinely sob-worthy. Thankfully, there was one final Crazy Cheese joke to come. …

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Review: 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' has a familar (but funny) first week

NBC

How was the first week of Jimmy Fallon's new Tonight Show?

Well, it was a lot like his old show. Fallon and Co. brought over plenty of the elements that made Late Night such a charmer, with barely a new segment in sight. That's not necessarily bad, but watch out Jimmy, because it could get boring for your most avid fans. That said, the eager host still got to play charades with Bradley Cooper, star in a sketch with Michelle Obama and do a fifth History of Rap with Justin Timerblake. Not too shabby.

Read our review of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon's first week here.

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Review: 'The Americans' season 2 starts Wednesday

FX

Dust off your Russian accent and break out the wigs, The Americans returns for its second season on Wednesday. The FX drama about KGB spies posing as Americans broke out last year with one of the strongest debut seasons of the past decade. And from the looks of the four episodes of season 2 sent to critics, it hasn't lost any steam.

Read our review here.

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Preview: 'Downton Abbey' finale is Sunday

The best part of Sunday's finale: the return of  Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, the blunt American mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), who will show up at the Abbey with her son, Harold, played by Paul Giamatti.

The best part of Sunday's finale: the return of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, the blunt American mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), who will show up at the Abbey with her son, Harold, played by Paul Giamatti.

Downtown Abbey’s short eight-episode season is already coming to an end Sunday and we have some questions that still need answering, and I’m hoping for more depth than I’ve seen this season. 

Fans are hanging with the show. The Season 4 premiere set a PBS record with 10.2 million viewers, and it even stood its ground against the Super Bowl, with ratings up 3 percent compared to last year and clocking in as the No. 2 program at 9 p.m. that Sunday.

The two-hour finale Sunday will need some serious oomph to overcome this lackluster season that has made us miss Matthew and Sybil even more. Thankfully, there have been no painful deaths so far this season, but there have been some painful story lines. (Warning, spoilers ahead if you haven’t caught up yet this season).

The rape of Anna was a disturbing one that was handled pretty shallowly, in my opinion. The plight of women in the early 20th century can be a great thread on this show, like in Season 3 when poor housemaid Ethel Parks couldn’t find work because of the scandal of having a child out of wedlock and was left with only prostitution as an option. …

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Jimmy Fallon had a kid from Clearwater on the 'Tonight Show' last night

Fallon with Marissa and her dog Mojo, from Clearwater!

NBC

Fallon with Marissa and her dog Mojo, from Clearwater!

Last night on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon introduced a new segment called Tonight Show Fallonventions ("I love inventions, and I'm fine with kids"). It's a GE-sponsored thing in which Fallon asks some kids to come on and demonstrate their clever inventions. One of those kids, the third of the bunch, was a young girl named Marissa Streng from Clearwater.

Streng’s invention began as a third grade project for the Invention Convention at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater. The Invention Convention is an annual regional and statewide invention competition for students in kindergarten through 8th grade; Streng's Puff-N-Fluff dog dryer won not only the school-wide competition, but also the state competition. She brought her adorable dog Mojo along to demonstrate the Puff-and-Fluff System and, well, just watch.

Oh, and Jimmy? Next time you're visiting your Aunt Barbara and Uncle Mickey in Clearwater, how about paying us a visit? We've got a grouper sandwich with your name on it.

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