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


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 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)


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.


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.


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

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

My Name is Earl
Prison Break
Friday Night Lights
The Office
Veronica Mars
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

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.