Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lost Episode Review

Through the Looking Glass aired May 23rd, 2007

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DIDN'T WATCH THE SEASON FINALE OF LOST THAN I IMPLORE YOU NOT TO READ THIS. YOU DON'T WANT THAT EPISODE SPOILED FOR YOU, I PROMISE!!

First let me start by saying that my lovely girlfriend, Julie, was 100% right about this episode right from the very beginning. When the episode started with bearded Jack on the plane, she asked me if this was the future, and I said something that amounted to, that’s ridiculous, there’s no way that’s in the future. She didn’t agree with me and continued to profess her belief that the “flashbacks” were actually “flash-forwards” and I didn’t agree with her until right before Jack and Kate met at the airport when I saw Jack looking at a map that looked like the island on the show and then I knew she was a genius. So everyone should listen to her from now on. Julie is apparently much wiser than myself.

But back to the episode, which I would say is one of the most amazing, startling TV episodes of all-time. To give proof of that, here’s what I wrote at the very end of my piece previewing the season finale:

“And lastly, I’m going to say that they will not get off the island tonight. Which I know, is really going out on a limb.”

The idea that the survivors would actually get off the island was so hard for me to fathom that I laughed it off. I was sure I knew enough about this show to know that since the island was such a major character in the program, there was no way our heroes would leave it until the very end of the show, if ever. I was so incredibly wrong here. I’m not sure I could have been more wrong actually. And that’s why they said that this episode was going to change everything. I thought that was just hyperbole, but it was completely right.

Last night’s episode though wasn’t just a great bit of television, it was proof that Lost is the best show on TV right now, and possibly ever. Yesterday, I watched three season finales: 24, Heroes, and Lost. In the first two, there was never any suspense at all for me because I knew that the horrible consequences of failure in those episodes would never be realized because those shows simply wouldn’t have the guts to do that. But I was on the edge of my seat the entire two hours I watched Lost last night because I didn’t know what they might do and who would survive. Lost had proven to me that they were willing to do a lot of things most shows would never do, and then last night they even trumped themselves.

TV has become so boring for me in recent years, because it seems as if having watched a fair amount of TV and movies in the past, I know what the writers and producers are thinking way before it happens; it’s almost impossible to shock me. And usually when a show does shock me, its because they did something so preposterous and so outlandish and so contrived that it simply couldn’t have happened and that’s why I didn’t expect it. But that’s where Lost is different. They’re playing with you, knowing that you know what TV writers think and then they turn it upside-down on you. All of the flash-forwards last night followed the same style as the flashbacks had. Everything about them suggested just another tragic part of Jack’s past as he battled demons caused by his failed marriage and his alcoholic, but immensely talented father. They knew what we were expecting out of that, and so they fooled us. The survivors leaving the island was the last thing we expected, so that’s what they did. It was brilliant.

It was actions like that that sucked me into watching 24 this year, when they started off (SPOILER ALERT FOR 24) the season by having a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles, something that I was sure they wouldn’t let happen. But as the rest of the season unfolded, I started to realize that they would never do something like that again, which left us with a season finale where I knew things would work out, and they did. Heroes didn’t have a moment like 24’s at any point during the year, so that’s why that season finale was even less enjoyable, because they were definitely not going to have anything different than what you expected happen.

So what does this twist do to Lost? Well first, it bring up a whole new series of questions, to pile onto the already large heap of questions we had before this. Second, it’s obviously going to change the structure of the show. I had read that there plan was to change the flashback structure for next season, so my guess is now that we’ll be moved up to the future and we’ll flashback to the survivors remaining time on the island to see how they actually leave and what happens with The Others.

Alright, the last thing I want to do is start guessing at answers to some of the questions that last night’s finale presented to us. The first thing is, who was the person who died that caused Jack to be so upset? This one is wide open, because we only know for sure that Jack and Kate made it off the island, which leaves a lot of people available to be the dead person. We do know this about the dead person though, no one liked him or her, Kate especially. We can also maybe guess that the person was African-American because the neighborhood in which the funeral parlor existed is certainly made to appear as if it is a black neighborhood. There were several black men on the street next to Jack’s car and the funeral director was black. So that leads me to guess that the dead man is Michael. Michael obviously wouldn’t be popular with Kate, since it was Michael who led Kate, Jack, and Sawyer to be captured by The Others and then abandoned them to take care of himself and his son. Also, if Michael returned home, he probably didn’t tell anyone about the island and his fellow survivors and that’s why everyone thought they were dead and that no one was looking for them.

The only problem with the Michael guess is I don’t see why that would have made Jack so upset. In this future were Jack wishes he was back on the island, the deaths that would probably make him the most upset would be the deaths of Ben and Locke, the two people who told Jack over and over again that they shouldn’t leave the island. So don’t rule those two out. Kate would obviously not like either one of them, for the same reason that Jack didn’t when they were on the island, and none of the other survivors would like those two either.

Then there’s the question of who is the person that will notice if Kate is missing? The obvious choice here would be Sawyer. We know that she has a thing for him and he for her, and we are pretty sure that he knocked her up. Also, with Jack’s proclamation of love for Kate in the season finale, it would have likely caused some tension between Sawyer and Jack after that. So she obviously wouldn’t want Sawyer to know that she’s meeting Jack.

But here’s the other possibility; the person that will notice is Kate’s son. It seems that some time has passed since they returned home from the island, since Jack has been flying a lot with his free pass on Oceanic, so Kate could have given birth by this point. And obviously, she wouldn’t want to leave her son home alone for too long. She also might not want to be gone for a while because then she’d need to explain to her son who she was meeting, which would lead to questions about how she knew Jack, which would lead to questions about the plane crash and the island and maybe Sawyer, if he’s no longer in the picture, which are questions that she never wants to answer for her son.

Also, quickly on the topic of Kate, how did she have her record wiped clean? She was a fugitive from the law and as far as I know, the statute of limitations on murder never runs out and they don’t pardon criminals for being on plane crashes. So think about that.

Next question that I’m wondering about is, why does Jack want to go back to the island and why did he grow that crazy playoff beard? (Playoff beard by the way refers to the fact that NHL players don’t shave during the playoffs and thus look like insane lumberjacks by the Stanley Cup finals). What has he learned that shows him that Ben and Locke were right? Is he just realizing that Ben was right and that Jack has nothing back in the real world now that his father is dead and that he’s divorced and all?

And is Jack’s father really dead? People didn’t seem nearly fazed enough by Jack’s drunken, drug induced rambling about how they should go get his Dad and that if Jack was drunker than his Dad, then the guy could fire him. Is it because Jack’s Dad really was upstairs? Just a thought. We know there was no body in the coffin when Jack found it on the island, so there’s a chance this isn’t as bizarre a question as you might think.

The last major question to answer is, what is the importance of the fact that it isn’t Penelope’s ship just off the island? Ben told Jack that the now deceased Naomi isn’t who she says she is, and before Charlie drowned, he passed along to Desmond that it wasn’t Penny’s boat, because he had just spoken to her. So who are these people that Naomi worked for? And are they the ones who actually rescue the survivors even?

Lost promised things would change completely and they came through for us. Sadly though, now we’ve got to wait until February, 2008 to find out completely how it’s going to change.

- BEN

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lost Episode Review

Greatest Hits aired May 16th, 2007

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND

In typical Lost fashion, the last episode for the season finale was pretty much just a way to set the stage for what we already knew was coming. There was nothing in this episode that we didn’t know already from the previews for it, except that The Others had moved up their attack on the survivors camp on Ben’s orders. So I’m not really going to spend too much time with this episode, but rather, I want to spend most of my time looking ahead to tonight’s season finale.

As cheesy as most of this episode was, I still liked it. The greatest hits flashbacks of Charlie’s life was simultaneously lame and touching. As much as it was kind of silly to watch as Charlie wrote down his greatest moments in life, there was also something very nice about it as he said his goodbyes knowing that he was about to give his life for Claire and the rest of his fellow survivors.

There was one completely new thing in this episode though, and that was the revelation of the underwater station, known as the Looking Glass, which was according to Juliet through Ben, abandoned. However, as we found out as the episode closed, this was not the case at all, a fact that Charlie found out in kind of a bad way.

I guess that’s really all I need to say about this past episode. It was okay, but not great, hopefully though it will give us something wonderful tonight.

Tonight on Lost: Well this is the so-called game changing episode. The one where things get answered and where things get turned upside down. So what does that mean exactly? Well first I’d say it means death. Nothing changes things quite like the passing of some major characters. So who’s at risk of not returning for next season? Here’s my list (I’m only going to talk about major characters dying, none of those boring people who’s names we barely know):

Ben – I think it would be a damn shame for this show to eliminate Ben, but you’ve got to think there’s a strong possibility that Locke will come up out of that pit and get his revenge on the man who put him there. I’m hoping he lives, but I’m not really betting on it.

Charlie – Perhaps a bit to obvious of a choice, but still, they’ve been talking about his death for too long for him not to at least be at risk.

Desmond – He already tried to take Charlie’s place in last week’s episode, and from the preview for tonight’s season finale, we know that Desmond will go down into the underwater station, so I’d say that means he’s got a chance to die as well. I really don’t want this to happen though, because I like Desmond a lot.

Jack – If tonight’s episode is a game changer, then I would say nothing would change the game quite like the death of Jack. I’d say his chances of dying are slim, but they certainly aren’t impossible.
Locke – He was shot two weeks ago, so he’s probably not perfectly healthy. Plus, if he gets out of that pit in time to meet up with Ben, one of them will probably need to go because that island simply isn’t big enough for the two of them.

Sayid – Someone suggested this possibility to me, and as much as I don’t want him to die (of all the characters on the show, I’d say I want him to die the least), when they said it, I thought they could be very right. The preview for this episode shows Sayid having been captured by The Others, so he’s certainly vulnerable.

Juliet – There’s no better way to prove your loyalty to Jack and the survivors by throwing yourself under the bus and letting all of them live. Of course, she could also be killed because she reveals herself to be a true Other and Jack and Co. won’t like that very much.

So what other radical predictions am I willing to make here? Well, I’ve said it for weeks, so I’ll say it again, Walt and Michael will return. I’ve suddenly had a brilliant stroke of genius, and I’m going to say that we will find those two in the underwater hatch. Ben couldn’t really let them get back to the real world, but he also couldn’t let them come back to the island, so the underwater hatch, which was thought to be abandoned would be a good place for them to be stowed away.

My next prediction is that the helicopter pilot isn’t quite who she says she is. I don’t know why I think that. I just do. And lastly, I’m going to say that they will not get off the island tonight. Which I know, is really going out on a limb.

Alright, I hope you’re ready for this, because it’s only a few hours away. I’m pumped and I’m sure you are too for tonight’s season finale. I'm so pumped that I even requested off of work tonight just so I could watch it live.

- BEN

P.S. Check back Thursday or Friday for my recap of the finale and of the season as a whole

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lost Episode Review

The Man Behind The Curtain aired May 9th, 2007

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND

So I’m not quite sure what to say about last week’s episode, except that that was some fucked up shit. I know that’s not the most eloquent thing I’ve ever written, but I think it’s really the only accurate thing I can say. Last week’s episode was so weird and baffling; it felt like an episode from early in the run of this show where you got way more questions than answers. Well I guess we’ll start with the big thing first and work our way down to the more benign material.

In this episode we met the supposed “man behind the curtain;” the invisible and possibly fake, Jacob. I guess the first question we have to ask is, is Jacob real? I suppose my answer is yes. I wonder if it is a bit like the Wizard of Oz and there was just some Disney special effects guy who set all that up for the real Jacob so that he could scare people away from the hut. I think its possible that Jacob doesn’t actually live in that hut, but rather he lives off the island. I just don’t believe he’s invisible. That’s just too stupid to be real. At least I hope it is.

So the next question to ask is, is Locke dead or about to be? My answer is an emphatic no. First, there’s no way Locke would be killed off, not like that at least. If he’s going out, he’s going to go out kicking ass and saving lives. I just don’t believe they’d play him like that.

The other reason relates to the biblical story of Jacob. According to a website I read, and stop me if I’m wrong here and you know the Old Testament much better than I, Jacob was a man whom God loved and had direct contact with. Jacob had twelve sons who made up the twelve tribes of Israel. One of those sons, Joseph, was thought by the other sons to be special because he could interpret dreams and it was thought that he was more loved by Jacob, so they sold him into slavery, but Joseph was able to rise up from this and become an advisor to the Pharaoh in Egypt. One of the other sons of Jacob by the way was named, Benjamin.

So while this isn’t an exact replica of that story, in part because Benjamin wasn’t really involved in selling Joseph into slavery, and in part because the “favored son” on Lost is named John Locke, but there is definitely some similarities here which make you think that Locke will not die. It is pretty well known that the producers of Lost have incorporated a lot of biblical stories into their show, so it seems only natural that this is another one of those times.

The next thing I want to talk about is Ben’s flashback, not so much in that it was particularly interesting, but that I feel there is something more to it that we just don’t get yet. First, why did Ben lie about being born on the island? Was it because he didn’t want people to know he was part of Dharma beforehand? Second, what happened to his BFF Annie? Is she still alive? A friend told me that a friend of his said that the teacher called Anna, Rousseau in the school scene. I just watched it again, and that definitely didn’t happen, although Annie being Rousseau would explain why Rousseau’s daughter is also Ben’s daughter a fact that hasn’t made much sense to me at all. But then it would completely destroy everything that we thought we knew about Rousseau, so maybe that isn’t the case. Just a thought.

The third thing I want to know about is, is that guy young Ben met in the jungle who looked exactly like Richard, just scruffier, actually Richard (Richard by the way is the guy who recruited Juliet to the island and also the guy who played the photographer on Suddenly Susan (don’t ask me how I know that))? They never confirmed or denied it, but it does seem quite weird that this person would look exactly the same and yet not be Richard. Although, in Back to the Future Part II the children of Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker did look exactly the same as their parents and in Part III, Marty’s relative, Seamus McFly and Biff’s relative, Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen look just like their 1985 counterparts, so I guess it’s possible that Richard’s dad or grandfather would look exactly like Richard. But in the event that that was actually Richard, one has to wonder then, if Ben aged from his young self to the Ben we see today, why is Richard still the same age or at least why does he appear not to have aged?

Quickly, I want to mention that I’m very upset that we found out the Patches didn’t die and then come back it was just that the pylons were set to stun not to kill. Very lame.

The last thing I want to talk about is what to do about Jack. First of all, I don’t know what to think about him anymore. At the end of last season I thought he was a jerk. Then I liked him when he was kidnapped by The Others, and now that he’s back with the survivors, I think he’s a jerk again. I just don’t trust him really. When he told his fellow survivors that he already knew about the planned raid and yet just hadn’t told anyone yet, I was pissed. Since when does he get to make the decisions again? Sayid should go beat his ass and take over. Everyone knows Sayid is the smartest person in the group, so its only fair that he be in charge. I hope that Jack just steps down in time to let Sayid plan the perfect defense against The Others, because he’s the only one who will be able to.

Tonight on Lost: Desmond delivers some shocking news to Charlie: This time he can’t save his life. So apparently this time saving Charlie will interfere with something very important. Hopefully we’ll find out what that is. Also, tonight the raid by The Others begins, which only means one thing: these last two episodes are going to be JAWESOME!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Lost Episode Review

ENTER THE 2007 SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER CONTEST!

The Brig
aired May 2nd, 2007

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND

In case you didn’t know it, ABC and the producers of Lost officially announced an end date for the show earlier this week. After this season there will only be three more seasons, for a total of six, and including tonight’s episode, there are only 51 episodes left. It’s kind of an odd number to be starting a countdown at, but I figure we need to be aware of just how little there is remaining. Three years and 51 episodes may seem like a lot, but it probably won’t be nearly long enough to sustain our craving for quality TV. Especially because by the time Lost ends its run on TV there will probably be four more CSI shows, two more Grey’s Anatomy spin-offs (one is already in the works), and every decent sitcom will be long gone. TV’s future isn’t looking good and now that Lost is definitely not going to air forever, it’s looking even bleaker. But enough with the downer talk, let’s get excited about the final three episodes of season three.

Last week’s episode was enjoyable, if a bit stagnant, but I thought the most surprising thing about it was that it was one of the few times where I’ve ever been able to predict what was going to happen very accurately. Normally with this show I’ve been kept guessing a lot and that’s one of the big reasons I love the show. So many TV shows are highly predictable, so Lost’s unpredictability gave it something that made it stand out. So what was it that I was able to predict, you ask? Well before the show aired (but sadly after I wrote my piece on Lost that went up that day), I decided that the person with the bag over their head was Locke’s Dad. I knew it couldn’t be Ben because if it were, they would have shown his face in the promos. They went out of their way to not show the person with the bag over their head, so it just couldn’t have been Ben. And so I went to the most logical conclusion following that; I chose Locke’s Dad, the person Locke would definitely want dead the most.

Then before it was revealed that Locke’s Dad was the original Sawyer, the one that caused the events that led to the death’s of Sawyer’s parents, I realized that that was who Locke’s Dad was. I’m not saying this just to toot my own horn (but mostly that’s why I’m saying it), I’m mentioning it because it was a bit too easy to discover. I’m not worried that the show is slipping at all, because I still have no idea how things will play out for this week’s episode or the two after that or for the rest of the series.

But none of the above begins to explain why The Others like Locke so much. They seem oddly keen that he be one of them and one certainly has to wonder why. Let me put forth a theory here, developed by my lovely girlfriend, Julie. She believes that they are interested in Locke because he was able to harness the healing power of the island and The Others are going to try and extract that from him. She pointed out that Ben has been getting much better since Locke came around and that maybe Ben is able to somehow steal Locke’s ability and that by the end of the season if Locke doesn’t leave The Others, he’ll become paralyzed again. Personally, I like this theory a lot, and not just because if I said I didn’t I’d have an angry woman on my hands. This seems to make sense with what has happened between Locke and The Others so far and it also gives a very good explanation as to why they want him around. Since it seems that The Others aren’t at peace with the island anymore (which is why they get cancer now and why they can’t have kids), it only makes sense that they would want a person who is at complete peace with the island to be amongst them.

Locke however isn’t truly one of The Others, or at least we think so, because he has tipped off our heroes about an impending raid on the survivors camp where The Others plan to steal the survivors’ women. First off let me just say, that’s not cool. But then I have to wonder if this is legit. The last time a survivor went with The Others for a while and then came back and told the survivors they were in danger, it was when Michael came back and shot Libby and Ana-Lucia, freed Ben from his prison cell, and then led Kate, Jack, Sawyer, and Hurley into a trap. And even though when Michael did all of that we were aware that he was doing it (after a while at least), doesn’t mean that this time is different. Is this raid on the survivors the truth, or is it another distraction meant to allow The Others to execute a different, more sinister plan, kind of like how the White House would raise the terror alert every time there was a bad story out about the President or someone in his administration? (Question for debate: Who’s more evil: Ben or Karl Rove? Discuss)

Lastly I’d like to discuss the theory presented by Locke’s Dad that the island is Hell. I don’t believe this idea for a second and here’s why. First of all, Hell isn’t a beautiful tropical island; that’s just not the case. Second, the people in Hell are way too hot and I imagine that people are made to look ugly in Hell even if they were hot in real life thus amplifying the suckiness of Hell. Third, the Devil isn’t named Ben. That’s just too good of a name to be associated with the Prince of Darkness. And fourth, wounds don’t heal fast in Hell, they fester and get worse, but don’t kill you. Now I realize that one might believe that the irony of having a horrible time on an island that could seem like paradise might make it seem like Hell, because I imagine Hell is all about irony, but really only Locke’s Dad and some of The Others seem worthy of Hell based on what I know about the place. All the survivors screwed up in their lives and did some things that they shouldn’t have, but few of them were horrible people. I know that religion has been a big thing on this show, but I just don’t believe that they’ve taken it to this level.

Tonight on Lost: In tonight’s episode, Sawyer’s going to bring it to the attention of his fellow survivors that not only is their a raid planned to take their women, but also that Juliet’s in on it. Not a good thing for her or Jack who were both already on thin ice. I imagine she’ll have some explaining to do. On a different part of the island, Locke is asking Ben to tell him everything there is to know about the island, and it all starts behind a door. And once someone’s gone through that door there’s no going back. I don’t know what that’s all about, but it sounds awesome.

-BEN




Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Lost Episode Review


SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND


All this time I had believed that there were only three episodes left, including tonight’s episode, and then I paid a little more attention to the ad for tonight’s episode and noticed that they said that there are only three episodes left, until the season finale. Which means there are four episodes left. Really five when you consider that the season finale is two hours long. So now I feel really stupid. At least I was smart enough to look up when the finale would be before requesting the wrong day off from work. And yes, you did read that right. I requested to have the day of the season finale off of work. Does that make me a weirdo? Absolutely. But it also makes me a well-prepared weirdo.

I’m going to completely ignore the flashbacks in this episode, since they were once again a total waste of time, and instead I’m going right to the Sun-Juliet plot. In this episode it was revealed to us that Jin was in fact the baby-daddy (and it didn’t even require a special guest appearance from Maury Povich) and according to Juliet, women who conceive on the island are doomed, which explains why Claire survived her giving birth. However, I find this whole thing to be a bit hard to swallow. First of all, how can we trust Juliet at all based on the fact that we know she’s lying to Jack and the rest of the survivors? I can’t really take anything she says as fact anymore until I have proof. And since its taken nearly three years of the show to get through three months of life on the island, it seems that it could be a very long time before Sun actually might die and we’d know that Juilet was right (they said she probably has about two months to live, which could mean about two more years of the show, which oddly enough is about the number of years the producers have claimed they want the show to keep running for. What an interesting coincidence, don’t you think?).

Another problem with this claim is that I firmly believe that just because The Others are dying when they are pregnant doesn’t mean that the crash survivors will. As I’ve pointed out before, the survivors have thrived in terms of their health while on the island, except for those who died, but we’ll get to that later. I believe that the island has decided to hurt The Others now, but that it still has healing powers. How are we to believe that Sun should follow the same path as the other pregnant women based on the track record of her fellow survivors? Heck, she wouldn’t even be pregnant if it weren’t for the island making Jin fertile.

The other big problem with this whole storyline was that it was so obvious that Jin was the baby-daddy, and not just because it would have been pointless to have it be otherwise. I’m no expert on child birth or on the female reproductive system, but I did well enough in health class to know that a woman would have probably realized before three months had passed that she was pregnant. I believe that a woman no longer goes through menstruation after becoming pregnant and so I find it hard to believe that Sun could have thought that she was pregnant with the other guy’s baby. Don’t you think she might have noticed something like that a while ago? I know that probably wasn’t first and foremost on her mind after a traumatic event like the plane crash, but still. Come on now. Give us a little credit here.

One last thing to say about the pregnancy storyline that was pointed out by my lovely girlfriend, Julie. Juliet said into the tape recorder that she had gotten a sample from Sun and soon she’d have one from Kate as well. Does this mean that Kate’s pregers or is going to be soon thanks to her rendezvous with Sawyer? It didn’t strike me that way when I first heard it, but as soon as Julie pointed it out to me, I thought she was on to something. Just keep that in mind.

Now let me turn our attention over to the helicopter pilot. Well sadly, we still don’t know much about this person or why she’s even there. We know she can speak several different languages, but that’s about it. What’s interesting with her is how her life was saved by the thought to be dead Other, Mikhail aka Patches. So what’s up with that, huh? Did he really die when he was thrown through the fences or was that all just an act? And if he did die, how is it that he’s not still dead? And if he did die, why are all the people who died on the island still dead? Should we expect to see Shannon, Boone, Libby, Ana-Lucia, Nikki, Paulo, and Ethan all come back soon or are they definitely gone for good? And if they’re gone for good and Patches did die, but is now back, why can he come back from the dead and they can’t? My head is completely spinning as a result of this twist. There is just way too much that needs to be explained regarding the return of Patches and they better get to it soon because I need answers. And I need them now.

The helicopter pilot did provide us with one other incredible detail in this episode. She claims that Oceanic Flight 815 was found and that everyone on it died, which kind of goes against everything we thought we knew, since our heroes all apparently survived that crash. Some people might think that this is some kind of signal that the popular purgatory theory is true, but I think what this is all about is a cover-up. It is my belief that someone off the island has staged this other Flight 815 crash site so that no one will continue looking for the real Flight 815 thus keeping the island a secret. If people kept looking, which they would be apt to do, even if they didn’t expect to find survivors, they might happen upon the island and that would be a major problem for The Others and whomever is in charge off the island. They need to keep this place secret for some reason, so that’s why they told people they found the plane and everyone was dead.

Lastly, I wanted to throw out something that has nothing to do with this episode or anything I’ve seen happen this season. I think it’s interesting that we haven’t seen Michael and Walt this year at all. I fully expected they’d be back by now, even with their boat and the knowledge of how to leave the island. So that’s why I’m predicting that they’ll be back before season’s end. You heard it here first, just remember that.

Next time on Lost: Tonight is that next time and in this episode Locke is supposed to have kidnapped Ben and now he seems to want Sawyer to kill him. This all sounds well and good, but since The Others have things so meticulously planned, I really feel like this is all part of their evil-doings and not Locke surprising them and ruining things for them. Call me crazy, but I just don’t think The Others have been outsmarted this time. Also in this episode, Jack’s going to find out that no one trusts him anymore. I bet that will be a blow to his ego. Remember, only three episodes remain, AFTER tonight’s episode, so plan your lives accordingly.

-BEN

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lost Episode Review

Catch-22 aired April 18th, 2007

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND


I think deep down, each of us knew this was coming. We each knew that the episode following the one where it was revealed that Juliet was playing the survivors and pretending to be abandoned by The Others was going to be a bit of a disappointment. I mean, obviously last week’s episode couldn’t have matched what came before it unless they had revealed a major Lost secret. But they didn’t. And that left us with one of those Lost episodes where basically there isn’t a whole lot that’s different at the end of the hour when compared with the beginning of the hour. We do have a new visitor to the island, a helicopter pilot who we think might have been sent by Desmond’s girlfriend, Penny, but otherwise, nothing is new.

Now maybe I’m underselling this a bit, because there certainly is something interesting about the development of the helicopter pilot, because it brings up a couple of questions. First, how did Penny know where to find Desmond? Even if she was able to track the explosion at the end of season two, from what we know, finding the island is still rather difficult. This lends credibility to my theory that the boat race that caused Desmond to end up on the island was staged as a way of sending people to work on Penny’s father’s island project. She knew exactly how to get to the island because she had inside information. Once she knew where to look, she knew how to find Desmond.

The other big question that pops up with the arrival of the helicopter pilot is why did the helicopter crash in the first place? We know that Oceanic Flight 815 crashed because Desmond forgot to press the button in time, but that likely wasn’t what happened here, since the hatch has been destroyed. Maybe the helicopter crashed by pure coincidence, but that doesn’t seem like a reasonable answer considering that we know nothing happens on this island by chance; everything happens for a reason. All we know is, lots of people have crashed on this island, the survivors of the plane crash, Rousseau and her shipmates, the guy whom Hurley met in the mental hospital that gave him the cursed numbers, Mr. Eko’s drug smuggling friends and his brother, that slave ship, the Black Rock where they found the dynamite, and now this helicopter. So there is clearly something more than just the failure to press the button causing these things to happen.

I’m not really going to waste much time talking about the Kate-Sawyer-Jack-Juliet love square, only to say to that basically they should all do it together. That’s really the only solution.

Lastly I want to talk about Charlie. At this point it seems basically a given that Charlie is going to bite the big one by the end of the season. That’s definitely what they want you to think at least. But I’m not 100% sure of this anymore after they brought in the biblical story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son in last week’s episode. Like Desmond said, maybe God (or the island) is testing his faith by giving him visions of Charlie’s deadly future and that Charlie won’t actually die if Desmond doesn’t save him, but they can’t find out because Desmond can’t stop himself from trying to save Charlie. My guess is this, in the season finale Desmond will have a vision of Charlie’s death but he won’t be in a position where he’ll be able to save Charlie. For some reason he’ll be too far away or he’ll be indisposed for some reason and he won’t be able to get to Charlie in time to save him and then we’ll find out whether Desmond’s visions of Charlie’s death are really true or not. We know that Desmond isn’t willing to sacrifice Charlie, even for his own gain, so things will have to be preventing Desmond from saving Charlie to test this.

Next Week on Lost: And by next week, I mean tonight. Well tonight Juliet is going to have a nice heart-to-heart talk with Sun about pregnancy. I’m guessing it will be a lot like an after school special about teenage pregnancy, only they’ll add in the fact that giving birth on the island has been rather precarious in the past. It seems they’ll also be revealing the fate of Sun, but I’m not quite sure what that means. I do know this. (Cue that awesome, Requiem for a Tower song) Only four episodes remain and you can’t miss a single one.

- BEN

P.S. The Summer Blockbuster Contest will happen this year and likely will be up this week. So stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lost Episode Reviews

Expose, Left Behind, and One of Us aired March 28th, April 4th, and April 11th, 2007, respectively

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND

That’s it. This is the last time I’m doing this. Not watching episodes for a few weeks and then cramming them all together at once, that is. Sure its way more enjoyable of a viewing experience, but there are too many potential pitfalls in doing this. I had key elements of each of the last three episodes spoiled for me before I ended up watching them and there really isn’t anything more frustrating than that. And its not like I put myself in danger of having spoilers revealed to me by reading blogs or going on to ABC.com or something. The death of Nikki and Paulo was spoiled for me while I read Chuck Klosterman’s NCAA Men’s Final Four blog on ESPN.com, which I would have thought would be a safe place to go. And the other event I had spoiled from an advertisement during one of the hundreds of ESPN shows I watch during my work week. So basically I suppose I should chalk all this up to the dreaded synergy that flows through our humongous corporate structures. But I won’t have that problem anymore. I’m going to watch Lost as soon as I possibly can after it airs (I work from 6pm-3am every Wednesday, and while I could watch it at work, I don’t want anyone to distract me while I watch it and work, sadly, isn’t a place free of distractions). Especially now that were heading into the final stretch for season three, which is shaping up to be incredible. So to take us up to that final five, let’s recap the last three. And by “let’s” I mean me.

The Nikki and Paulo episode was clearly a response to the outcry by the fans that those two sucked ass. And while I couldn’t have really cared less about them, I found their departure to be a very weak episode. It was clear that they didn’t really spend as much time writing this episode as they do for most episodes simply because they were just trying to cram in all of the things they wanted to do with those two in one show and get it done in time to kill them off before the end of the season. I did however enjoy all of the guest spots in the episode. First we got Billy Dee Williams, which made me do my Eddie Murphy impersonation from The Nutty Professor with a slight variation from Hercules to Billy Dee. It was funny to me and I think that my cats might have enjoyed it, although I have no confirmation of that and I doubt I ever will. Then we had the return of the dead with Shannon, Boone, Arzt, and Ethan, all of which were fun.

But what I really disliked about this episode was how they kept trying to stick Nikki and Paulo into scenes from earlier in the show to make it seem as if they had been there all the time. That was incredibly lame. That and having them discover every major discovery of the show before everyone else in these flashbacks (the plane, the middle hatch, etc.). Oh yeah and I also didn’t really understand why they would kill off that old guy (who was clearly the Australian Aaron Spelling) for $8 million in diamonds, as if he wasn’t worth a hell of a lot more than that. Just stupid all around. Every gold-digging woman (or man) in America scoffed at that episode, and so do I. But let’s put that behind us, just like the producers clearly would want us to do.

The April 4th episode had me worried from the opening moments because it was evident that we were about to embark on a Kate episode. And if you’ve been reading my Lost reviews for a while now, you should know that the Kate episodes have always been my least favorite, mostly because Kate is one of my least favorite characters on the show. I have to say though, this episode ended up being pretty good and in fact, I even kind of enjoyed the Kate flashbacks for a change. Sure they added up to a whole lot of nothing, as the flashbacks have tended to do this season, but I was okay with it. I do wish though we had spent some more time in this episode with Locke and figuring out why he was going with The Others. I suppose they’ll cover that soon, but really, I need to know now. Okay, fine, I’ll wait.

Now if I had written this review before last week’s episode I would have spent some time here talking about the fact that Juliet was left by her fellow Others and the fact that Juliet claimed she and The Others didn’t know what the hell the fog monster is, but all of that became moot thanks to the last two minutes of last week’s episode, which by the way, made last week’s episodes one of the all-time best.

I was totally under the opinion that Juliet wasn’t a true Other, and it didn’t take the flashbacks in last week’s episode to convince me of that. Sure I admit I was apprehensive about her because Sayid didn’t trust her, and basically I have found that whatever Sayid says and thinks tends to be right (which is why he should be in charge and not old think with his heart Jack), but I didn’t think she was going to have played them all so nasty like she did. When that scene with Juliet and Ben came on it seriously blew my mind. It got me so incredibly pumped for the last few episodes of this season. That moment right there was proof of why Lost is simply the best show on TV.

Before I wrap this up I want to throw out a theory that I developed after last week’s episode. In that particular episode we learn that Juliet was brought to the island because the women there were incapable of giving birth, which was basically destroying their civilization, kind of like in the movie Children of Men, except less depressing because no one likes The Others. So my theory is that the Dharma people and then later The Others came to this island because it has healing properties, something we learned when Locke was able to walk and when Rose had her cancer cured. And for a time, these properties worked for The Others because as Ben stated in last week’s episode, no one had cancer on that island until Ben himself got it right before the plane crash. And also we know that there was a time when The Others could give birth on the island because Ben claims to have spent his entire life there. So it seems to me that The Others have somehow become corrupt and now the island won’t help them anymore and that’s why they need the crash survivors. Those people are being healed and they can give birth and it’s all because the island respects them. So all of the things The Others have done to them and will do to them in the future after Juliet’s crafty plan finishes is a result of The Others trying to regain the island’s help. That’s why they need Locke and that’s why they have that list of the people who are worthy. But now I wonder if maybe there is someone on the island who controls the powers of the island and comes up with the lists of who is worthy and who isn’t. My guesses right now on who that person is are (in order of probability): 1. John Calvin, 2. Joseph Smith, 3. Jim Jones, 4. David Koresh, and. 5. Brandon Tartikoff, the now deceased former head of programming at NBC who tortures Mario Lopez in the online TV show, 28 Days Slater (which by the way is fucking amazing). (I’d just like to point out my amazing religious history knowledge on display in that last sentence, with the exception of Brandon Tartikoff of course.)

Next Week on Lost: I am so incredibly psyched for this week’s episode and the episodes coming up after it. And its not just because they included that awesome song in the ad for these episodes (by the way, if you’ve been obsessed with that song as I have since I first heard it in the trailer for the new Danny Boyle movie, Sunshine, I’m glad to inform you that the name of the song is Requiem For A Tower and it can be purchased on iTunes!!). These last few episodes look to be spectacular and look like they could make me love this show even more than I already do, if that’s even possible. The ad for this week doesn’t seem to reveal anything too specific, but I don’t care, I’m still ready to rock.

- BEN

Friday, April 13, 2007

300 vs. Shooter

I just realized as I typed that title that you might be expecting now that this piece will be about who I would think would win in a fight, the 300 men of the Spartan army or Marky Mark Walhberg’s titular hero, Shooter. That isn’t what this is going to be at all though. Sorry. In fact, even I’m a little disappointed now. Well I hope you’ll keep reading anyways.

What I really wanted to do was do a different kind of review of these two male oriented films, comparing why one of them works and is enjoyable and why the other one is horribly bad and enjoyable for reasons that were completely unintended by the film’s creators.

Obviously if you follow films at all, you’ll know that 300 and Shooter are different kinds of movies, even though they are both geared towards male audiences. 300 is much more stylized with its green-screen heavy CG effects whereas Shooter is more interested in the type of special effects that involve large explosions. Also 300 is an historically-themed film (I say that, because while it is based on a real event, the film doesn’t really stick to the facts to say the least), while Shooter is set in the present. But their goal is definitely the same; get males into the seats. 300 has been immensely successful in this task, having pulled in almost $200 million already, where Shooter has only achieved a rather paltry $36.7 million (as of the April 6th box office reports). So why is one movie much more successful than the other one?

Well there are a few reasons that one could point to. One is that 300 is based on a graphic novel by acclaimed artist, Frank Miller, which gives it a built in fan base not only from the people who read that particular work, but also from those who saw the film Miller co-directed with Robert Rodriguez in 2005, Sin City, which was also based on one of his graphic novels. Of course though Shooter has an actual star in it, in the form of one Marky Mark Wahlberg, while 300 had only one actor I’d ever heard of before in it, and that was only because he was on Lost. So I’d say these two things pretty much cancel each other out.

Another reason for 300’s greater box office take might have to do with its substantially higher promotional budget, or at least what I must assume was a larger promotional budget. 300 was all over the place for at least a month leading up to its release. You could see it on websites and on TV all the time. Shooter however seemed to have less of a presence in those areas. I saw the ads for it, but they weren’t quite as omnipresent as the ads for 300 seemed to be. It didn’t hurt that 300 had amazing trailers while Shooter had a rather lackluster one, but certainly it seemed that the studio execs at Warner Brothers predicted better things for 300 than the studio execs at Paramount did for Shooter. (I just want to mention that I found it rather surprising that they never mentioned that Shooter was directed by Antoine Fuqua, the director of Training Day. It seems to me that one would want to mention that the film you could go and see was directed by the same guy who directed a film lots of people went to see and lots of people enjoyed. In comparison, they always mentioned that Zach Snyder directed 300 and he had only directed one film before, the disappointing remake of Dawn of the Dead (another note within this note: Snyder's Dawn of the Dead has a rating of 7.3 on imdb whereas Training Day has a 7.4. Just thought you might want to know that.).)

My hope deep down though is that the difference in the box office totals of these films can be traced to the simple fact that 300 is a much better film than Shooter. I know that quality of the film doesn’t always matter when counting up the box office receipts (the boring screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s excellent novel, The DaVinci Code made more than $217 million in the US alone), but sometimes that can actually matter, and I think that it certainly could have here. 300 was a rather original tale that was surprising (to those of us who hadn’t read the graphic novel or studied ancient Greek history), sometimes funny, and intensely violent. Shooter, however, was about as derivative as they come. Nothing about that movie surprised me except that it took too long to end it and that I’ve never seen or heard such blatant product placement in my life (apparently evil government agencies use Google Maps rather than their vast satellite array or massive illegal human tracking databases to determine where people live, a product placement that I partially believe was actually paid for by Mapquest as a way of smearing Google Maps. Also government agencies can easily hack the customer databases of FTP, which my friends and I all agreed was definitely a product placement paid for by FTP’s rivals in the flower delivery business, 1-800-Flowers and KaBloom.). And since a lot of the immensely large box office totals of the past are made up of repeat business (I believe that every single girl between the ages of 13-20 saw Titanic fifteen times), it makes sense that 300 would pull in bigger totals because wouldn’t you want to see a movie that’s more fresh and original rather than the film about a man framed for a crime he didn’t commit, a storyline that is easily one of the top Hollywood clich├ęs of all-time?

300 isn’t a great movie really, but it does at least make sense, something that definitely can’t be said of Shooter, which gets tangled in its own tale worse than Alberto Gonzalez did trying to talk his way out of the US Attorney scandal. And I’d like to think that its that reason that helped propel it to such box office success, rather than the fact that it has a lot of bloody violence and some nudity.

Rating: 30068%
Shooter20%

P.S. Alright, since you wasted your time and actually read all of this even though I teased you with the possibility of a piece determining who would win in a fight, the 300 soldiers of the Spartan army or Marky Mark and his assault weapons, I think its only fair to give you what you were hoping for, so here it goes.

This is a tough battle to predict because obviously Marky Mark has the superior weaponry. And he’s also quite stealthy, which I can’t really say about the Spartans, who made no attempt to hide their presence from the enemy. So I think early on the Spartans would suffer a great deal of casualties, simply because they would be completely surprised not only by Marky Mark, but by his weapons of choice which would be to the Spartans what a flying car would be to us; a complete shock. After a bit of regrouping, I think the Spartans might actually be able to hang with Marky Mark for a while, because I’m not giving him the benefit of a partner this time, like he had in most of the movie, so I think he wouldn’t be successful in as many of his attacks this time. In the end I think the sheer size of the Spartan army would overwhelm Marky Mark and his excellent shooting ability would fail him in the close combat in which the Spartan army thrives. I would completely change my opinion here though if Marky Mark created a catchphrase to utter after slaying his enemies like, “you’ve just been SHOT!” or “Shooter got you!” In that case, he’d dominate them in both the comedy scale and on the battlefield.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lost Episode Reviews

Enter 77, Par Avion, and The Man From Tallahassee aired March 7th, March 14th, and March 21st, 2007, respectively

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON'T REALIZE BY NOW THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE PIECES, THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NEW TO THE SITE, IN WHICH CASE, WELCOME MY NEW FRIEND

Oh boy, I have a lot to cover here. I guess this is why it doesn’t pay to fall behind in your writing. I had watched the first two episodes of the show together like I have been doing for most of this “Spring Season,” but then I never got around to writing about them and all of a sudden this week’s episode was about to air and it seemed like a waste to try and crank out a piece that would become kind of dated so quickly. Unfortunately though for me, now I have to try and talk about three episodes that had a lot happening in them in a short enough piece that you won’t be like, “man this is really long, let me see whether anyone has updated their MySpace page recently instead.” That’s a tall order and I’ll most likely fail, but the good news is, if you want a lot of Lost material, you’ll get it here.

Let’s start with the episode from March 7th where we first were introduced to Mikhail, whom I will from here on out be referring to as Patches (not to be confused with the titular character of the Clarence Carter song, although they both did have a farm). What was funny about this episode was that it started out by answering all kinds of questions about the Dharma Initiative and their relationship with The Others and then we found out Patches was actually one of The Others and thus everything we heard could pretty much be thrown out the window. Some of it was probably true, although I wasn’t exactly clear on which parts, so basically it didn’t help me at all. However, I found the episode to be compelling and quite interesting, go figure. I guess fake answers are better than none, a bit of advice that they should keep in mind for the future of this show (however, after a while they really will have to start answering questions, because I and others will get tired of having to weed through the fake answers).

The subplot of this episode though was considerably less interesting. I’m not sure why they decided to have that ping-pong storyline especially since we’ve already had a couple of golf storylines in previous episodes which were pretty similar. Also, didn’t it seem a bit off to have a goofy storyline involving Sawyer since he just got back to the main island after having been kidnapped by The Others? Shouldn’t they have cut him a little slack for like a week or two? Just doesn’t work for me.

However, the biggest reason this storyline didn’t work was that they have taken away one of the funniest parts of the show; Sawyer’s nicknames for his fellow survivors. Every drama needs a bit of humor, and the nicknames were this show’s humor. I understand that he’s only supposed to stop the nicknaming for a week, but on a show where we just passed the 80-day mark for the survivors after only 61 episodes, one week could be a long time. I’m sure they’ll fudge that week for the sake of the viewers, but, my fair Lost writers, let’s remember for the future not to take away anything of Sawyer’s because Sawyer is awesome.

On to the second episode of three (this is already long, I’m definitely going to lose most of you before this piece is done), which, for the first time since the last episode of the “Fall Season” I actually watched live. So how did that experience compare to the previous experiences of watching the show days sometimes weeks later during this “Spring Season?” Well it turns out I really don’t like commercials, so it was definitely not as good as it would have been had I watched it the next day instead. I kept trying to pick up my Tivo remote and fast-forward and all I got was that annoying Tivo beep signifying that you can’t do whatever you’re trying to do.

But watching the commercials wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as the dancing couple that would spawn on the bottom right corner of my screen during every block of the show. I assume that these tiny dancing people were there to inform me about the impending return of Dancing With The Stars, but since they didn’t actually confirm that whenever they danced off the screen, I found myself a bit befuddled. And I don’t like being befuddled because that word seems fake to me, and I hate fake words, unless I made them up.

Enough time wasting, let’s get on to bigger things, like a backstory that was actually interesting for a change. Well kind of at least. The story once again had nothing to do with what was going on on the island, a common feature amongst all of the backstories this season, but at least this one had something happen, the revelation that Jack and Claire are half-siblings, even if the fanboys online had already predicted this. However, right before it happened I told Julie that I knew what was going to happen, and wrote it down so that I could show it to her after it was revealed. It was kind of like my David Copperfield moment and led her to ask me if I could see into the future like Desmond, which she said without any smartassedness (see a fake word I just made up ended up in this piece) in it. Either she really wondered that or she’s a lot nicer to me than most people would have been in that situation. Whatever the case, I appreciated the comment.

This episode also saw the all too early demise of my man, Patches, as he was sent through the Jurassic Park-type pylons outside The Others camp which featured a type of technology that I’m pretty sure is fake (fake technology is great in my book), despite its sheer awesomeness (kind of a fake word). Before he left though he shared with us some details about “the list” that The Others have regarding who is worthy of hanging with their crew. The list seemed a bit Calvinist to me, so I can’t say I’m a big proponent of it, unless of course I was deemed worthy to be on “the list.” If I was on it, then “the list” would rock.

The only other thing I wanted to talk about in regards to this episode is that there is no way in hell that Claire could have given birth to that child she’s carrying around. Not only did she completely lose the weight faster than any woman in history (and this includes those celebrity women who hire personal trainers to help them get back into shape), but she’s also much too petite around the hips to have pushed that baby out naturally. I understand that she obviously didn’t really give birth to the child, but I think they should have made it a little more plausible that she could have.

Alright, so I flew through episode two as much as possible so that I could hurry up and get to the most recent episode only to find that I’ve already written more than 1200 words. At this point I’m pretty sure you’ve either stopped reading or you just skipped ahead and missed all the cleverness that I wrote in the preceding paragraphs. I’d recap the best of them here, but even I’d like to finish at some point, so I’ll just tell you to go back and read the last things when you can and I’ll promise to be amusing in discussing this week’s episode so that you don’t completely miss out on my brilliance.

This week’s episode marked the second straight episode in which the backstory was actually compelling, a feat which hadn’t been accomplished since season one. Even more surprising was that this one kind of tied in to what actually happened on the island. Not as well as the backstories did when the show first came on the air, but at least somewhat. In all honesty though I wouldn’t have cared if it did because the only thing I cared about since we first found out that Locke had been paralyzed before coming to the island was how he ended up paralyzed. And this episode answered that question, quite sadly in fact.

This led to a discussion with my beautiful and intelligent girlfriend, Julie (I forgot to mention those things about her when I talked about her earlier), about which Lost character had the worst life prior to the island. Basically I think we narrowed it down Locke and Sayid, with Locke getting the edge because he was paralyzed after his Dad pushed him out of an 8th story window, which is fucked up for so many reasons. Sayid has had it rough, but at least his life wasn’t ruined by a guy who was not only a recipient of one of his internal organs, but also happened to be his DAD! I mean really, that’s horrible. I would rather have Ben the Creepy Other be my Dad then Locke’s Dad. That guy very well may be the worst person who ever existed.

The rest of the episode was pretty good, because I definitely enjoyed the renewed interactions between Locke and Ben, something we’ll get to see more of in the near future I hope. The blowing up of the sub was kind of lame since we knew it would have to happen otherwise Jack would have left, something that we know can’t happen unless its in a body bag.

But topping that in bizarreness was the magical box. Ordinarily I have been okay with some of the more outrageous aspects of this show and as I stated earlier, I love fake technology, but this isn’t fake technology, its magic. And while I’m not opposed to magic (I did see David Copperfield twice, although it was the same show both times, a fact that we only learned when we got there, much to our dismay), it seems out of place here. I guess its interesting that Locke’s Dad is on the island now, but couldn’t they just have said that after he nearly killed his own son he decided to join the Dharma Initiative or something. That would have been more reasonable and wouldn’t have involved a magic box.

Oh yeah, and by the way, who is the man from Tallahassee?

Alright, that’s all I’ve got to say for now and it only took me like 1700+ words to say it, so that’s great for everyone.

Next Week on Lost: I think someone’s going to die or something. I wasn’t completely clear on that, but I think that’s the case. I’m not with my Tivo right now so I can’t check, so I apologize in advance if that’s wrong. My guess is that is one of those annoying new people, Paulo or Nikki.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Andy Barker P.I. Review

Thursday night is the premiere of the new NBC show starring Conan O’Brien’s former sidekick, Andy Richter, and because I’m an important guy I got to see an advanced copy of the pilot episode. Okay, that’s not quite true. I did see it, but I saw it online at NBC.com and anyone can go and see it right now too. I just wanted to sound important. Back to the point though, I figured I’d give you an advance review of it so you could check it out for yourself when the show debuts tomorrow.

What It’s About: The show centers around a simple, boring, accountant (is that redundant?) who opens up a new office in a strip mall in his town. He words directly above a video store operated by the hilarious Tony Hale from Arrested Development, and above a falafel restaurant owned by the ultra-patriotic, yet non-American, (Wally) Marshall Manesh. Things don’t seem like they’ll get interesting at all until a women wonders into Andy’s new office thinking that he’s the man who had the place before Andy moved in, a man named Lew Staziak, a private investigator. Andy doesn’t seem interested at first, but once he gets into it, he develops a taste for it.

Why I’m Going To Watch: I loved Andy Richter’s first Fox show, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, not just because it was quirky and well-written, but also because it had an outstanding cast of characters. And this show seems to have been built with the same recipe. The pilot featured several clever sight-gags and some very funny performances, so I must say, I’m interested. It wasn’t the best pilot ever, but pilots can be very hard to make amazing simply because you have to spend so much time introducing characters, unless you’re Lost and you simply choose to introduce the characters over time. I’m hooked for now at least.

Why You Should Watch: Andy Richter is hilarious. Tony Hale is hilarious. The show is executive-produced by Conan O’Brien. Conan is hilarious. Nick Cannon is also hilarious, although he isn’t associated with this show. You should watch this show because it’s funny and because I said so otherwise poor Andy Richter may be doomed to walk the earth alone and without much work, kind of like the Incredible Hulk or Norm MacDonald.

So all this talk about Andy Richter and his new show and that brief mention of his old show made me start to get nervous about a potential quick cancellation. I’m not saying this show won’t last, but I have to say, based not only on Andy’s history and on my history of finding shows that I like that get cancelled, I’m a little worried. So I figured why not spend this time giving you a list of my all-time favorite quickly cancelled shows. Now only shows that lasted less than 2 seasons can qualify so shows like Futurama and Arrested Development, which both deserved to be given more time, cannot make this list.

1. Undeclared – Of all the ones on this list, the cancellation of this show is by far the most confounding. Not only was it absolutely amazing, it also seemed that it could have had a very broad appeal. This show wasn’t just for college kids and high school kids, it was also for people who are under 30. Okay I realize that that isn’t the broadest audience ever, but still, this should have been way more popular than it was. (Available on DVD)

2. Clone High USA – Probably the only show I’ve ever seen on MTV that I absolutely loved. It was a cartoon about clones of famous people like JFK, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, etc. who all went to the same high school together. It was a great satire of the “teen drama” which was really picking up steam around that time. Turns out though, people don’t really like satire that much I guess. (Available on DVD, kind of)

3. Andy Richter Controls The Universe – Andy Richter’s first attempt at a TV show got two half seasons to work with, the first one was good, the second one was amazing. Probably a bit too amazing in fact. I imagine there weren’t a whole lot of people out there who could handle the brilliance that is the following exchange (I’m paraphrasing here, but you’ll still get it)

- This is like that time you thought Hitler was running the coffee cart.
- Well when Hitler comes back he’s not just going to goose-step in.
- When Hitler comes back?

Okay, perhaps you needed to see it happen rather than just read it. Sorry. Well trust me, it was a great show. (Not available on DVD)

4. The Critic – I don’t simply enjoy this show because the Simpsons crossover episode is one of my favorite Simpsons episodes ever, I enjoy it because the Hollywood and television satire is dead-on. And also I really liked that episode where Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a fake movie where he was a rabbi. That was priceless. (Available on DVD)

5. The John Larroquette Show – Now you may be saying that this show lasted four seasons and thus doesn’t qualify for this list, and technically you’d be right. However, anyone who actually watched the show knows that the retooling for season two effectively killed this show, so therefore it’s really like it was only on one season. It may be the most depressing show ever to air, but it was expertly done and it was funny when it needed to be (when it needed to be was whenever you were on the verge of hanging yourself or drinking a whole bottle of Jack Daniels and passing out on your couch loathing your very existence. By the way, I was 12 when this show first aired.) (Not available on DVD)

6. Eyes – I actually wrote a piece a few years back about this show’s cancellation and how much it upset me. Perhaps we didn’t need another show about a wacky team of investigators, and that’s why most people didn’t watch it, but I did and I found it very enjoyable. It was intriguing and well plotted and simply good. ABC disagreed however. They also did think though that a show about a blind police officer was a good idea, so my opinion of this show gains a bit more weight. (Not available on DVD, which is why all five episodes of the show are still on my Tivo to this day)

7. Invasion – Another ABC show that didn’t last (I’m not mad at you ABC, just a bit frustrated. You cancel shows like this one and yet Grey’s Anatomy lives on and now I hear you’re talking about a Grey’s spin-off show and that just makes me want to hurt myself). I found the mystery and the intrigue very interesting and I thought the acting and production values were quite impressive for TV. People probably got scared away though by the fact that it was a bit too X-Files like. I do wish though that they would have at least had some kind of ending rather than the cliffhanger that ended season one. (Available on DVD)

8. Stella
– This Comedy Central show about three guys who always wore suits was headed for cancellation practically from its first second of air-time. The show was way too weird to ever last, even on a cable channel like Comedy Central. I found it enjoyable, but I’m really not surprised that I was one of the few who did. (Available on DVD)

9. ReunionReunion wasn’t actually that great, especially towards the end, but I’ll always have this terrible empty feeling because I never actually found out which friend killed the other friend. That kind of thing happens after you watch 12 episodes of a show, even if it isn’t that great. Someone please just tell me what happened so I can get on with my life. (Not available on DVD)

10. Love Cruise – This show was actually borderline unwatchable, but I don’t care. Sure it was basically a rip-off of every single dating reality show ever made (but it was on a boat, a love boat! Not to be confused with the other Love Boat show, that’s why they called it Love Cruise. Quite clever, don’t you think?), and sure it was only filler between seasons of the hilarious, yet extremely unfortunate, Temptation Island, but that doesn’t bother me. If it came back on today, I’d watch it. Just keep that in mind, studio execs. (Not available on DVD)

- BEN

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Lost Episode Reviews

Stranger in a Strange Land and Tricia Tanaka is Dead aired on February 21 and February 28, 2007, respecitvely.

SPOILER ALERT: I WILL DISCUSS PLOT POINTS HERE, SO IF YOU DON'T WANT THINGS RUINED, THEN AVERT YOUR EYES FROM THE SCREEN

I’m not trying to make this a pattern where I cover two episodes at once, its just sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow me to see an episode in a timely fashion, so I just wait until the next one comes up and then I watch them both together, which by the way is a lot of fun, if you can stand the wait. TV shows like this one are just better when you can watch a few episodes all at once, like for instance if you just bought them on DVD. However, I can’t wait that long simply out of fear that Angeler might spoil it all for me if I did.

Unfortunately for me though, this time the two episodes in a row thing didn’t work out that well, and that was all because the second episode, the one that aired on February 28th, just wasn’t that good. But let me start by talking about the better one, and not just because it aired first.

When I say better though, it is a bit of a relative term. This episode was good, but not as good as promised and not as good as the first two that aired in this “Spring Season” of the show. They really shouldn’t have declared in the promos that there would be three major revelations in this episode, because not only does it distract you by practically forcing you to try and guess what they are, much like how one is distracted by the “twist” ending that we all know is coming in an M. Night Shyamalan movie, but also, big claims like that can end up disappointing you when they are revealed, much like I was at the end of this episode.

I have no official confirmation of this, but as far as I can tell, the three revelations in this episode were as follows: 1. The meaning of Jack’s tattoos, 2. What happened to the kidnapped people, and 3. That the Others work on Island 2, and live on Island 1. These might have been interesting if they hadn’t promised beforehand that the revelations were going to be major, because really, other than the second revelation, none of these were that big of a deal (and also they just showed us that the kidnapped people weren’t dead, they didn’t really explain why they were kidnapped or anything). In fact, I joked in my last piece that I assumed that even though they mentioned the tattoos in the promo for this episode that there was no way that the meaning of those tattoos could be one of the three major revelations. Shows what I know. The lesson, as always, aim low and people are rarely every disappointed.

What I did like about this episode though was how much it again strengthened my newfound love of Jack. The guy used to be the most annoying person on the island, but now he kicks ass on a regular basis. I loved how at the beginning part of the episode he wouldn’t help Juliet, even though she was nice to him and even though she helped Kate and Sawyer escape. And then I loved how he fucked with the Others by telling that creepy “sheriff” woman that Juliet hadn’t wanted Ben killed. And then I loved that Jack got Ben to stop Juliet from being killed. He keeps playing everyone, almost as well as Ben played people back when he was a prisoner in the hatch. Maybe it’s the “us versus them” mentality of the show making me like Jack more, but for whatever reason, right now, Jack is creeping toward the top of my favorite Lost character list. (Okay, you twisted my arm, here’s my list: Sayid, Desmond, Sawyer, Jack, Locke, Ben, Juliet. And by the way, the fact that there’s only one woman on that list doesn’t mean I’m gay.)

Last but not least for this episode, why was the woman with tattoo powers (a power by the way that was clearly a reject from Heroes) not allowed to give a tattoo to Jack? Was this like how Solitaire lost her powers of seeing the future once she lost her virginity in the James Bond film, Live and Let Die? Because otherwise, the reaction that Jack got from her brothers was uncalled for. And once again, let me say, her power was stupid.

I’m barely going to even talk about the second episode here because this one was just a bore. Kate and Sawyer return to the main camp and instead of an interesting episode revolving around that story, we were treated to a tale about Hurley wanting to start up a VW van he found in the jungle. Um, all I can say is, what the fuck? Seriously, that was a waste of my time. Sometimes they should just provide a pre-episode warning that the following hour will be one you’ll want back at the end of the show so you should probably just read an episode synopsis online, unless you have nothing better to do. I didn’t really have anything better to do I suppose, but I’d like to think that I do.

Next Week on Lost: Well this is tonight actually, so you don’t have much time to get ready, but here’s what we can expect. We’ll finally get to meet up with the guy with the patch over his eye that we briefly saw on a TV screen in that other hatch Locke found and apparently he has a big secret to hide, one that he probably won’t give up too easily though (i.e. he won’t say it in this episode). And apparently a bad game of chess between Locke and a computer will create mass hysteria or something like that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I might have to wait longer than most though since I work tonight.

- BEN

Thursday, March 1, 2007

There’s an Empty Time Slot in the TV Lineup in My Heart

Tonight at 9pm on Fox they will be airing another episode of their new game show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, which once again asks the question, are you stupid enough to watch? But what this program really signals is that last week’s series finale of The O.C. was real and not just some horrible dream I thought I was having. And this is extremely unfortunate because The O.C. was definitely one of my favorite shows on TV and I am once again forced to lament over the loss of one of my shows while other much worse shows live on, seemingly forever. So please enjoy my two-part tribute to why I’ll miss The O.C.

Part One: Why I’ll Miss The O.C. (Show Specific Reasons)

When The O.C. first came on the air I paid no attention to it whatsoever, despite its popularity. I figured it was another in a long line of crappy Fox shows that was full of melodrama and I simply didn’t have the patience to deal with that. But then for some reason, I decided in late 2005 to give the show a try, first by renting the first season on DVD and then by watching the new episodes, and I was hooked immediately. It turned out that The O.C. wasn’t what I thought it would be at all, but rather more like a show I would create. The show did feature outlandish, preposterous, and sometimes even laughably unreal situations, but instead of over-the-top melodramatic acting done by a cast of attractive, but untalented actors and actresses, it was instead performed by generally talented people, thus making what could have been a horribly bad show, a much better one.

But what really made the show work was its wit and careful self-awareness. The show’s dialogue would often times revel in the absurdity of the constant drama that the characters faced and it did so with such skill that it worked out very well. Few characters in TV shows or movies that are graced with the knowledge of self-awareness end up working out, as they normally mock the show or film so much that you the viewer can’t even respect the work any more (just take a look at the Scooby-Doo movie or really any other movie based on an old property), but The O.C was different. For instance, in a recent episode, Seth joked that after an accident left Ryan needing blood from Seth that if his blood had made Ryan more Seth-like that they could have kept “this” going another few years thanks to the comedic potential of that situation (and by “this” he was referring to the fact that his TV show was almost over, even though its not a TV show to him). The subtly of that line was perfect and that’s why it wasn’t annoying to me. The show did this many other times in other ways (such as the fake TV show that Summer loved which was a fake O.C. or when they made fun of the real-life O.C. show that MTV created by having that happen in their fake world too) and that definitely made it special.

And of course, there was the music. The show became well known, and poorly copied by crap shows like Grey’s Anatomy, for its use of music from smaller, indie bands looking to make a break. But where other shows have used music to just let them write a few less pages of dialogue, by simply having a montage with music to end a show, The O.C. managed to take the music and work it into the show well. Also, the music they chose was a whole lot better than the music that many other shows use. And while I was sad that the final episode of The O.C. didn’t feature any music from Death Cab for Cutie, Seth’s favorite band, I figured it had more to do with the fact that the group is much bigger now, thanks in part to the show, than a bad decision by the show.

The O.C. wasn’t a life-changing show and it wasn’t a revolutionary one for the TV world, but it was good and that’s while I’ll miss it.

Part Two: Why I’ll Miss The O.C. (General Reasons)

As much as I’ll miss The O.C. because it was a quality show, I’ll miss it even more because my TV options are slowly dwindling away, thanks to shows like this one leaving the air and thanks to an influx of new crap, I’m starting to get more and more frustrated by the medium I was in love with only a year or two ago. Today, TV simply just isn’t that good. I figured that after the last few years which launched such shows as Lost, House, Veronica Mars, The Office, and My Name is Earl that we were headed for a renaissance in the TV world. And then Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds became popular shows and things took an immediate nosedive. Right now I’m not even that in love with the shows that I do watch on a regular basis and I figure it will probably only get worse.

Here is how I would have ranked my favorite shows at the beginning of this TV season:

The Office
Lost
Veronica Mars
House
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Prison Break
My Name is Earl
The O.C.
Friday Night Lights
Heroes
Jericho

And now, after a very disappointing TV season so far, here’s how I would rank them:

Lost
My Name is Earl
24
Prison Break
Friday Night Lights
Heroes
The Office
Veronica Mars
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
House
Jericho

So why all the changes, you ask? Well The Office moves way down because this season has been a complete disappointment. After last season, which I figure has to be one of the best seasons of a TV show ever, the show has become a huge disappointment, in large part due to the fact that Michael and Dwight have become caricatures of themselves and thus the whole realistic aspect of the show has disappeared. I suppose I should have seen this coming after fans voted that the Season 2 episode featuring Michael burning his foot on a George Foreman grill and then Dwight getting a concussion was their favorite, because that episode was completely absurd, unlike most of the other episodes of the show which seemed somewhat believable. But now that episode seems to pale in comparison to the ridiculousness we see these days.

Veronica Mars has slipped on the list because instead of being a cool, smart, and clever mystery, it has turned in to a rather predictable and often plot hole filled program with less edge and more melodrama. Perhaps this is because they paired the show with The Gilmore Girls or perhaps its because the show’s producers realized that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they were going to need to make the show more mainstream (i.e. stupider). Either way, I’m kind of glad that the show won’t be on for a few weeks now, especially after the lame way the last “big” mystery ended.

As for the new shows that I have started watching this TV season, I often times catch myself wondering why I watch them. Jericho is a show I can’t decide whether to stop watching or keep watching all the time and that’s because they can’t decide whether they want the show to be awesome or a melodramatic piece of garbage. But I can tell you, on a regular basis I say to myself, “if next week’s episode isn’t better, I’m done with this show.”

Heroes is somewhat enjoyable at times and it manages to be okay even when its not because it seems to do things the Max Power way (the wrong way, but faster). Honestly though, its not that great, even though it could have been.

And while I do find myself liking Friday Night Lights more and more these days, thanks to the excellent camera work and editing and the brilliant performances by many of its actors, I do get irritated by its constant pushing of the hot issues buttons (teenage sex, underage drinking, steroids, racism, etc.) and then only having those issues be important for 1-2 episodes, as if a problem with racism or steroid use by high school athletes goes away that quickly and has no lingering effects.

So now you can see why the loss of The O.C. stings just a bit more than the loss of one of my lower ranked favorite shows. It isn’t simply that I’m losing something that I liked to watch, its also that I’m feeling like my tastes are so much different than the rest of the population at large and because of that I’m doomed to be disappointed every single TV season while fans of CSI and all its various incarnations only get more and more to enjoy. I guess what I’m saying is, sometimes I wish I were stupid.

- BEN

Monday, February 26, 2007

3rd Annual Post-Oscar Oscars

It’s that time again. Time for another piece where I hand out the Oscars for the most memorable moments of the Oscars show. Are you ready? Well too bad, here I go anyway.

(The awards are handed out in relative order of where they happened during the broadcast)

The Oscar For Most Interesting Turnabout Goes To… Ellen’s Al Gore joke during her opening monologue. In the joke, she talked about how the people voted for Al Gore but he didn’t win and the audience went crazy for it. Now you’re saying, how is this a turnabout? Hollywood folks are crazy liberal and they always were. Well let me take you back to the awards show of 2003 when Michael Moore received the Oscar for Best Documentary for Bowling For Columbine and then got booed by the audience for suggesting that George W. Bush didn’t really win the election (an event which spurned his decision to make Fahrenheit 9/11.) Now do you understand why this joke got this award? I thought so.

The Oscar For The Most Awkward Standing Goes To… All the people who stood up when Ellen marched around the room with the gospel choir at the end of her opening monologue. All ten or fifteen of them. Boy, they must have felt awkward during that moment.

The Oscar For The Best Act of Sympathy Goes To… Jack Nicholson who shaved his head, for what I can only assume was an act of sympathy with Britney Spears. Or at least I sure hope it was. (Turns out he did it for an upcoming role. What a dissapointment.)

The Oscar For The Biggest Surprise of The Night Goes To… Alan Arkin, for winning the Best Supporting Actor award that everyone knew was going to go to Eddie Murphy. I notice that I never saw Eddie again during the broadcast which leads me to two thoughts: 1. Eddie left after not winning, or 2. Every time they tried to put him on camera after that, he flicked off the camera. (Sadly it turned out that the first thought was true, and not the second one, which is almost as disappointing as finding out that Jack didn't shave his head for Britney.)

The Oscar For The Best Original Screenplay Goes To… Nope, not the real winner for Best Original Screenplay, which went to Little Miss Sunshine’s, Michael Arndt. This one goes to Ellen’s screenplay which she handed to Martin Scorsese during the broadcast. She claimed the movie was “Goodfellas meets Big Momma’s House.” I really wish I had thought of it. And I hope she also thought to get some kind of copyright on that idea, because I’m sure some poor scribe is out there working on that movie right now thinking Martin Scorsese might actually be interested in it. Or at least that Ewe Boll might be.

The Oscar For The Worst Tribute of The Night Goes To... The tribute to writers. This was one of the closest battles of the night, with the tribute to America finishing a close second, simply because it aired when the show was already ten minutes longer than originally scheduled. The reason the writers tribute grabbed the prize over the tribute to America wasn't simply due to its cliches, but rather because it was put together by Nancy Meyers, who managed to find a place for a clip from her own movie about a writer, the awful Something's Gotta Give (by the way, what gave was my patience). What a ridiculous self-promoter.

The Oscar For The Most Awkward Acceptance Speech Goes To... Best Adapted Screenplay winner, William Monahan. For some reason, the first thing that Monahan said when he got on stage was "valium does work!" Uhh. What the hell does that mean? Scratch that. I don't want to know.

The Oscar For The Best Performance By An Austin Powers Character Goes To... Best Costume Design winner, Frau Farbissina!

I thought you needed to see this to believe it. And now you have.

The Best Self Depricating Joke of The Night Goes To... Robert Downey Jr. for his joke about how the special effects in movies were like his drug induced hazes. You know, I really like Robert Downey Jr. and this joke only made me like him more. I'm really glad he's gotten cleaned up. See Britney, there is still some hope. If he can turn his life around, so can you.

The Best Live Edit of The Night Goes To... The cut to Borat star, Sacha Baron Cohen, while talking about foreign films. Just brilliant. They do know he isn't actually from Kazakhstan, right? (Yes, I know that he is British, but that still doesn't explain the cut to him.)

The Best Moment of Rubbing it in Goes To... Best Foreign Film Winning Director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (and yes, that really is his name). FHvD managed to rub his ass against the back of the head of fellow nominee, Guillermo del Toro, after it was announced that he had won. I'm all for rubbing it in, but honestly, this may have gone too far.

The Best Performance by a Drunk Goes To... My roommate, Crayzie Chris, who's sing-along with the Best Song nominees from Dreamgirls put him over the top. (He believes now that possibly there was something wrong with the wine he had that night, and I tend to agree with him. I think it had alcohol in it.)

The Best Reference to a Movie That Is The Farthest Thing Possible From Being Oscar Worthy Goes To... It looked all night like this was going to go to Snakes on a Plane, which was referenced by the bendy dancers during one of their weird, but strangely awesome performances throughout the night. However, during the previously mentioned America montage we got to see a clip of Rocky IV, which while being one of my favorite movies ever, really is horrible. Probably not as stupid as Snakes, but since I like it more, it takes this much coveted award.

The Best "Finally" Moment of the Night Goes To... Tough call between the show ending after about 4 hours or when Scorsese took home the Best Director trophy. I'm going to go with Scorsese for two reasons though: 1. I Tivo'd the final moments of the show because it was going way too long, even for me, so I wasn't there for when it "finally" ended, and 2. If they had brought Steven Spielberg up there to present the Best Director award and then not given it to Martin Scorsese, that would probably have been worse than when that German director rubbed his ass on Guillermo del Toro's head, because you really can't rub it in any more than by having it pointed out that Steven Spielberg has won a Best Director award and the infinitely more talented Scorsese has none. (Unfortunately this win for Scorsese does end a funny joke where you could point out surprising winners and compare them to the previously shut-out, Scorsese, such as Three 6 Mafia 1, Scorsese 0, or Eminem 1, Scorsese 0, or for a brief time, Jennifer Hudson 1, Scorsese 0. However you still can do Spielberg 2, Scorsese 1.)

- Ben

More posts coming up later this week, including Lost recaps and a special tribute to a special show