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To be clear, this is not another entry into the CBS Photoshop Pun War. If you’re looking for those entires, click here. Spoiler alert - I won. (Sorry Trehern.)
I just thought this was funny and threw it together in five minutes.

To be clear, this is not another entry into the CBS Photoshop Pun War. If you’re looking for those entires, click here. Spoiler alert - I won. (Sorry Trehern.)

I just thought this was funny and threw it together in five minutes.

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Season 2 is Here! Media Consumed: 09/22/10

In the past two weeks, I’ve seen a bunch of movies: Never Let Me Go, Catfish, The Town, The Social Network, Buried, and I’m getting ready to head out now to see Let Me In. All this is to say that I’m ridiculously busy, and pondered the notion of not even returning to this blog this season. But I know my schedule will ease up in the coming weeks, and I’d rather keep a log of my thoughts (however brief) than jump into discussing episode 4 of a show without having thrown out thoughts about the first three episodes.

So let’s get to it.

Hawaii Five-O, Season 1, Ep. 1 “Pilot”

I dig what I’m seeing so far. There’s an astonishing number of film directors moving to TV to tackle pilots of these new shows, and H50 is no different: Live Free or Die Hard director Len Wiseman directed the first episode of this resuscitated program. Daniel Dae Kim played a smaller role than I would have liked, but this is just the pilot and there was a lot of set-up to complete before we start getting into the meat of the season. Alex O’Loughlin was pretty average in my opinion, but Scott Caan (who excelled on Entourage this past season) will provide some solid comic relief. It may sound childish, but I like shows with “twists” - and even something as setting this procedural against the gorgeous Hawaii background is enough for me to keep watching, at least for the time being. Great guest spots here, too, from Norman Reedus (The Boondock Saints), James Marsters (“Smallville”), and William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption).

Terriers, Season 1, Ep. 3 “Change Partners”

Here’s another one I like. In a recent episode of the Not Just New Movies Podcast, we called “Terriers” something like a “Justified” with an ocean beach breezy twist (there’s that twist again). I really enjoy Donal Logue’s performance, and the sun-drenched filters and haphazard nature of the characters add to a sense of California dreaminess that I appreciate even more since moving out here. Olivia Williams (“Dollhouse”) guest starred on this episode, and I’m hoping she becomes a recurring character. I like the dynamic between Hank and his ex-partner Gustafson, and the writing in the show - while highlighting some ludicrous plots sometimes - generates some fantastic scenes of television, like Hank’s absolute destruction of Williams’ character’s husband in this episode; he verbally abuses the dude straight to his face to the point where I was nearly physically uncomfortable. Good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 6, Ep. 1 “Mac Fights Gay Marriage”

This was a somewhat disappointing start to what has quickly become one of my favorite shows on TV after binging through the first five seasons to catch up. I laughed really hard at Charlie’s walnut comment, but aside from that I was a bit thrown off by the excessive product placement (Subway and Coors Light, anyone?). I’m still going to watch, and I’m still going to like it - I just hope they can bounce back from a lackluster premiere and this isn’t the beginning of the end.

Lone Star, Season 1, Ep. 1 “Pilot”

It’s a shame this one is in danger of early cancellation, since I thought it was really entertaining and had a whole lot of promise and potential. The lead actor did a great job pulling off the duality of living a double life, and there was a cameo by “24” hottie Nazneen Contractor. It was good to see David Keith (“If Tomorrow Comes”) as the father figure, since that guy definitely doesn’t get enough work in Hollywood these days, and Jon Voight always brings an air of class to whatever he does. I’m holding out hope for this one, but it’s not looking good. Marc Webb of (500) Days of Summer directed this one.

Running Wilde, Season 1, Ep. 1 “Pilot”

I don’t know about this one. I’m a big “Arrested Development” fan, but this re-pairing of Will Arnett, Mitch Hurwitz, and David Cross left me kind of unimpressed. Maybe if the kid wasn’t in the picture, I wouldn’t be so “meh” about it - but you know my feelings about kids on screen. (Spoiler alert - they’re useless.) Plus, Keri Russell is just not my cup of tea. Perhaps I’ll give this one a few more episodes to hook me, but they better turn this ship around ASAP.

Boardwalk Empire, Season 1, Ep. 1 “Boardwalk Empire”

This is a big one for the internet community. Everyone’s talking about BE being the savior of modern television, but I’m not quite convinced yet. I dug the first episode, and Steve Buscemi and Michael Shannon were fantastic, but I’ll reserve judgement until I get one or two more episodes in before I start really singing its praises.

Undercovers, Season 1, Ep. 1 “Pilot”

J.J. Abrams shepherds yet another TV project to the small screen, directing the pilot for “Undercovers,” my favorite of the new shows so far. In theory, it sounds like something I might hate - a married couple gets back into the spy game to spice up their love life - but every level of this production was solid. The casting is really great; I’ve never heard of the two stars Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, but I’m already smitten. They’re both phenomenal, and local UCB favorite Ben Schwartz was excellent as the ass-kissing supporting player. As expected from Abrams, the writing and the action were both top-notch as well. I’ve got a good feeling about this.

Glee, Season 2, Ep. 1 “Audition”

Looks like more of the same from this show. As long as we know what we’re getting into (insane storylines, quick pace, a mix of great and terrible musical numbers and heavyhanded messages), then we’re good to go. That opening scene was perhaps the most meta intro I’ve ever seen to a TV show. More on this show later.

(I have to leave now, but I also saw and enjoyed the premiere of “How I Met Your Mother.”) Keep it tuned here for more as the season progresses.

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Site Update

I’m taking a break from this blog. I’ve got too much going on right now to give it the attention it deserves, so when shows like “Community” come back, I’ll be back to write about them. In the meantime, listen to the new podcast I started; we have a “Media Consumed” section where we talk about what we’ve been watching on TV lately, so that’s like a verbal spinoff version of this site until the fall lineup returns.

Man, I miss “Parks and Recreation” already.

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Media Consumed, Day 35: 07/12/10

Yes, yes, I know - I apologize for my absence. I’ve been busy bouncing back and forth between job interviews, and eventually landed a part time gig at Paramount Pictures. So I’ve been working there on and off for a week or so and will be doing so for at least the next six months. In the meantime, let’s get on with what I’ve been watching.

Lie to Me, Season 2, Episode 15 “Teacher and Pupils”

I skipped writing about last week’s episode (which was pretty good, coincidentally), but I’m back on board for this one. Melissa George returned, and I’m kind of digging her character. She’s setting herself up as a love interest AND business partner of Lightman’s, and add to the mix the fact that she wants to learn his techniques. A brilliant writing move would be to have her learn the tactics from Lightman over the course of the season and then doublecross him at the end, using his own moves against him and pushing him back into Foster’s open arms.

I dug the use of Emily in this episode (partially because I saw Hayley McFarland, the actress who plays her, recently), mostly due to Cal’s overprotection of his daughter. He got so pissed when that dirty cop made a snide remark about Emily and slid up in that dude’s face like he was about to wreck him right there in the police station. Loved it.

I also surprisingly didn’t miss the Loker/Torres subplot. The episode did a good job of filling enough time with other stories that we didn’t need anything from them, and I’m glad they decided to (basically) cut them out of this one completely rather than waste a potentially fuller story that they can now explore down the road in greater detail.

Lightman’s powers of perception never cease to amaze me, and even though this episode had “gimmick” written all over it - “Lightman can read…uh…a paralyzed guy!” - it didn’t feel trashy and still kept the characters grounded in a believable reality.

Entourage, Season 7, Episode 2 “Buzzed”

It’s easy to say that Entourage has gotten pretty bad over the years, transforming from a once-interesting “pull back the curtain” look at Hollywood to a show where none of the main characters ever really mature, develop, or grow. That being said, I’m still watching it - mainly because the episodes are only 22 minutes, and I’m hoping for them to turn it around this season.

"Buzzed" was actually a solid episode of the show, featuring Ari Gold in a nervous state for the first time since I can remember and keeping the Lloyd/Drama/Turtle stuff to a minimum. Surprisingly, I felt that this particular episode struck a really great balance between the main characters; more often than not, the plot will rely too heavily on just one storyline. "Buzzed" built nicely on Vince’s adrenaline junkie kick, Drama’s career (or lack thereof), Turtle’s company and the relationships involved, and a nice look inside Hollywood with the press junket, the paparazzi, and the fallout from Cassavetes with the reshoots.

This is not one of my favorite shows on television by any means, but I almost feel pot-committed (Smallville style): I’ve seen every episode and might as well finish it out and cap it off by seeing the eventual Entourage movie that they’ve been planning for a while. I’m glad to see that Vincent Chase is actually getting some vaguely interesting stories so far this time around, because too often he becomes a wandering character with no personality even though the show is ostensibly based around him and his career choices. Here’s hoping Season 7 is better than the last few. Good luck snagging that football team, Ari.

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Media Consumed, Day 34: 06/23/10

Lie to Me, Season 2, Episode 13 “The Whole Truth”

Even though I didn’t write anything about last week’s episode of Lie to Me, I WOULD have written about how this season (or half of the season, however the hell FOX is splitting up this series) has been chock full of great guest stars. In the first episode back from the break, we had Veronica Mars alum Jason Dohring; last week, we watched Angus MacFayden (Braveheart, the Saw films) as a troubled Irish ex-soldier; this week, we saw Melissa George (Alias, the little-seen-but-worth-checking-out movie Triangle) as a gorgeous would-be murderer set to benefit from her husband’s death AND another Veronica Mars alum Max Greenfield, who played Neptune cop Leo D’Amato and here appears as the miffed son of the deceased. And from the trailer for next week’s episode, we have a performance from Dollhouse’s Enver Gjokaj as a soldier with a screw loose. Somebody give Lie to Me’s casting department a bonus.

In “The Whole Truth,” Lightman’s banter with ex-wife Zoe comes to Boston Legal levels of ridiculousness in the courtroom: I half-expected to see Alan Shore standing in the shadows, smirking at their exchange. I’m still not sure how I feel about Zoe; it looks like the audience is being groomed for an eventual hookup between Lightman and Foster, but, as Lightman mentions in this episode, his feelings for her may be more platonic than romantic. Zoe is an interesting element in that equation, and she definitely has the stature to hold her own against Lightman, so there’s reason for her to stick around.

I’m generally a fan of the Loker/Torres subplot, but this week’s was embarrassingly stupid. Torres hooking up with a woman? An older woman? Come on. I’m not a script writer (or screenplay writer, or screenwriter, etc.), but that’s just a bad idea. Is that supposed to round out the character? Give us something that moves the plot forward a bit. The only good thing to come out of it was Loker’s playful suggestion that his competition for Torres’ affections might have doubled - an interesting addition since Karl (Sean Patrick Thomas) hasn’t been mentioned yet since the break.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode just like I’ll enjoy every episode of this show that ever airs. There wasn’t anything here that really jumped out at me, but any situation where I get to watch Tim Roth play Cal Lightman will be a pleasant one in my book.

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Finally. Those treesluts at the Solar Sentinel have fallen off their high horse and all but admitted that they’ve been nothing but hype for this entire competition. Their latest effort, “Sting of the Dill,” might be their worst entry of the contest (and that’s saying something). I can’t read your red text, and when I zoomed in on it, I actually wish I hadn’t. It takes him 8 weeks to learn about one type of food? Embarrassing. That’s all the effort you’re putting into your final entry? Put a pickle in Sting’s hand, and call it a day? Tsk, tsk. (insert Mutumbo finger wag)
Here’s my final entry of this series, “Camel-y Guy.”
These FOX shows have proven to be pretty terrible fodder for a Pun War, and I for one am glad that we’ve kicked this network into submission. See me in the judges’ hall, Trehern? Not if I see you first. And my name is Ben, you asshat, not Ben P.

Finally. Those treesluts at the Solar Sentinel have fallen off their high horse and all but admitted that they’ve been nothing but hype for this entire competition. Their latest effort, “Sting of the Dill,” might be their worst entry of the contest (and that’s saying something). I can’t read your red text, and when I zoomed in on it, I actually wish I hadn’t. It takes him 8 weeks to learn about one type of food? Embarrassing. That’s all the effort you’re putting into your final entry? Put a pickle in Sting’s hand, and call it a day? Tsk, tsk. (insert Mutumbo finger wag)

Here’s my final entry of this series, “Camel-y Guy.”

These FOX shows have proven to be pretty terrible fodder for a Pun War, and I for one am glad that we’ve kicked this network into submission. See me in the judges’ hall, Trehern? Not if I see you first. And my name is Ben, you asshat, not Ben P.

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The Solar Sentinel (and a few commenters across the web) seem to think they have the FOX Photoshop Pun War on lock down. But this battle is far from over.
In response to “The Chimpsons" (nice yellow ear, Marge), I present "House M.C." So you haters go ahead and hate all you want - but throw your hands in the air if you’s a true playa (and you dig this entry).

The Solar Sentinel (and a few commenters across the web) seem to think they have the FOX Photoshop Pun War on lock down. But this battle is far from over.

In response to “The Chimpsons" (nice yellow ear, Marge), I present "House M.C." So you haters go ahead and hate all you want - but throw your hands in the air if you’s a true playa (and you dig this entry).

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Media Consumed, Day 33: 06/11/10

Lie to Me, Season 2, Episode 11 “Beat the Devil”

Cal Lightman’s return to prime time encapsulated most of the aspects I love about this show. I’m a huge fan of the series, and as I’ve said before, Tim Roth’s Dr. Lightman is my favorite superhero. The show is in constant flux with showing Cal’s mastery of his craft and his fallability - occasionally he makes a mistake, but most of the time he’s vindicated with his decisions. Roth’s insistent confidence and brash tactics are really fun to watch, and even though most people could care less about this show I’m really looking forward to seeing how it develops over time.

This episode featured a great guest performance from Veronica Mars’ Logan Echolls, actor Jason Dohring. Dohring was genuinely creepy as a psychotic killer with a penchant for waterboarding his victims, and added a vivid reality to the most uncomfortable scene of television since Jack Bauer left the airwaves. Effective direction from Vahan Moosekian made the scene unforgettable for me, especially with the POV shot with Dohring pouring water on the camera lens.

The Torres/Loker subplot was a bit underwhelming, but typical of the series’ history so far. It’s interesting that I can’t stand shows like CSI and other procedural cop shows, but I’m totally hooked with shows that feature a twist on generic material (see: Lie to Me and Justified). There’s only so many of these types of stories you can tell, and when they double up on them in episodes like this, I feel like it’s going to be rare that both stories are equally entertaining. Even though this story felt like we’ve treaded that ground before, I was still glad to see Torres and Loker since it was like seeing old friends again.

It’s been a while since the last aired episode of the show, so I don’t recall exactly how the series left the Lightman/Foster romance (I think she left her husband), but I liked that they didn’t just jump straight into that subplot right out of the gates. The final seconds of the show was just the right amount of time to devote to that relationship; re-establish it, remind us that there’s sexual tension there, and move on to next week.

[I was disappointed that we didn’t see Emily Lightman in this episode, since I saw her a few nights ago (in person) at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles.]

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Media Consumed, Day 32: 06/08/10

Glee, Season 1, Episode 22 “Journey”

Fact: I’m one of the biggest Journey fans you know, so it’s easy to see why I appreciate Glee’s love affair with Steve Perry and Co. The pilot’s use of multiple Journey hits (among them the criminally underused “Separate Ways”) hooked me early, and the season one finale had me nearly frothing at the mouth by using the band’s name as the title of the episode. But I must say - even with the medley during Regionals, I was slightly disappointed with the lack of Journey songs. [Note - my disappointment stems from a selfish wish to see the group tackle a 45 minute Journey concert with no regard for standard storytelling practices, so take this mini-review with a grain of salt.]

While the series has taken a bit of a dive recently with the Gaga-infused “Theatricality” and the uninspired “Funk” airing last week (one of the season’s low points, in my opinion), “Journey” returned the series to its soaring highs and reminded us - and capitalizing on every opportunity to go over the top - how much fun this show can be when it loses all inhibitions and just goes for it.

I was as surprised as anyone when the Regionals performance came 12 minutes into the episode, as I naturally expected it to come near the end. “Faithfully” was great - boy, that Lea Michele has got some freakin’ pipes - but the rest of the mashup (“Any Way You Want It,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” “Don’t Stop Believin’”) didn’t match the intensity of the initial performance and left me a little unaffected. It was fun to rock out to some Journey, but I think they wasted an opportunity to explore some stuff that we haven’t heard yet (“Be Good to Yourself” seemed like the obvious choice). Finn and Rachel’s reconciliation was fitting with the finale nature of the show. Of course we all expected something like that to happen (ditto with Will and Emma), so I don’t feel the need to discuss those aspects further.

But the structure of this episode was well-conceived, allowing for the borderline brilliant piece of television that featured the birth of Quinn’s child edited against Vocal Adrenaline’s rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I call it “borderline” because I think it walked that line a bit too tightly and tipped over into some iffy territory at some parts, which - naturally - I’ll spell out for you now.

[Quick note: during the Journey medley, I told my friend that if I were a judge, I would preemptively award New Directions first prize based on song choice alone, and tell everyone else to go home without performing. I quickly amended that statement with, “unless, of course, one of the groups did a Queen medley, in which case I’d listen to it, and then award New Directions first prize anyway.” As you’re well aware by now, this exact situation almost came to pass, so I just thought it was funny and semi-prophetic.]

My problems with the “Bohemian Rhapsody” piece are with more than the drawn-out and uninteresting choreography of Vocal Adrenaline: I feel like the introduction of Quinn’s mom (who we haven’t seen in FOREVER) was included exclusively so the cutting back and forth would make sense with Quinn shouting “Mama!” along with the song lyrics. These types of touches are typically kind of cute in this show, but this one was a bit overkill for me. The editing was pretty great for the first half of this performance/birth, but at some point near the halfway mark, it lost its mojo and became too cliche for its own good. This is the balance that the show itself strikes on a weekly basis - it’s so cheesy that sometimes it heads into after-school special territory, but can occasionally turn out a great episode that feels confident and coherent.

Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester’s one liners were a thing of beauty this week, comprising some of the best writing for the character in the series so far. Her confidence in New Directions has been hinted at for a long time now, and for those who claim the first place vote for the Glee club was out of character, the writers came up with a creative way to answer those cries: have Sue be mistreated by the other “celebrity” judges, and play on her self-esteem and spitefulness. Personally, these were my least favorite sequences in the episode; I assume this is partly because of my utter indifference toward Josh Groban and my disgust with Olivia Newton-John and her general demeanor. Also: how is the news anchor any more of a celebrity than Sue Sylvester? At least Sue has won multiple national titles and is a known personality in her niche; Newton-John neglected to mention the anchor would also “stay in Ohio” after the performance was over, undercutting the entire point of her argument.

I’ve also decided that Principal Figgins is one of the most inept characters in the history of television. Blackmail or not, the guy never does anything but sit and listen to Will and Sue argue week after week. Get him out of the picture - he’s useless.

And considering this show’s propensity for breakneck pacing, I’m surprised and pleased that the writers chose to show a bit of restraint in this season finale. I worried that the epic nature of a finale meant they might amp it up and “out-Glee” themselves, but the showrunners wisely took the opposite approach: relationships were left unfixed (or at least, un-finalized; see: Will & Emma, Finn & Rachel), and they didn’t bother going through every character in depth to get a sense of resolve from each of them. Instead, they focused on the major character relationships that have been brewing all season and relegated the others to a series of small montage moments, a move that I found discouraging at first (since I generally like the secondary characters more than the main ones) but have since realized was probably a smart move. Artie, Mercedes, Kurt, and Tina have all had their moments throughout the season, so there’s no need to hurriedly revisit them and marginalize their characters even further.

And, gay as it may be, I enjoyed Will and Puck’s acoustic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to close the episode. I can see many worse situations - most of them literal - in which the show could have chosen to employ that song, but this one was unoffensive and fit well with the quietly triumphant tone that wrapped up an interesting first season of television.

At least, that’s the way I “C” it.

Justified, Season 1, Episode 13 “Bulletville”

If you somehow missed Justified this season, I implore you to go back and catch up on all thirteen episodes this summer. After worrying me in the beginning with some one-off episodes that didn’t matter to the overarching storyline, the serialized nature of the show returned in full force in the form of Boyd Crowder, one of the most interesting characters on any TV show that I currently watch. Walton Goggins does tremendous work playing that character, and tonight was a coming out party for him.

We finally got to see Boyd singled out in the woods, away from other characters and completely on his own in his element. Up until this point, the audience has been unsure as to Boyd’s true motivations: since Raylan is suspicious of Boyd’s conversion, the audience mirrors those concerns. We haven’t seen Boyd alone with himself since his conversion, so there was always the chance that he was putting on a show for people to hide some underlying scheme. But tonight we see that wasn’t the case - barring some epic “old Chinese guy with the fishbowl from The Prestige” reveal, it appears that Boyd truly practiced what he preached after he emerged from prison a changed man.

This was an excellent finale - Olyphant was phenomenal as usual, the episode was action packed, and everyone stayed true to their characters. The shootout in the woods was more tense than it would have been in other episodes since major characters were dying off left and right, so the threat of danger and consequence felt very real. It also raises some interesting questions about next season: what happens with the cartel comes to collect on their investment? Will Raylan hook back up with Winona, or Ava? (For the record, I prefer Winona - both personally and for Raylan.) Is Bo Crowder really dead? Consider me hyped for next season.

[They can’t kill Bo, right? He’s such a great character, and M.C. Gainey does a fantastic job portraying him. It’d be a shame to only have him for one season.]

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The Solar Sentinel has been trying to come across as cocky lately, but it looks like they mixed up “Robbie’s World" with a stale batch of weak sauce. Hate to tell ya, bro - nobody wants to ask you any questions about that disaster except "what demon vomited all over your background?"
If you’re looking for a perfect score, Jack Bauer’s gotcha covered right here with “Denty Door.”

The Solar Sentinel has been trying to come across as cocky lately, but it looks like they mixed up “Robbie’s World" with a stale batch of weak sauce. Hate to tell ya, bro - nobody wants to ask you any questions about that disaster except "what demon vomited all over your background?"

If you’re looking for a perfect score, Jack Bauer’s gotcha covered right here with “Denty Door.”

Comments

Looks like the Solar Sentinel has run out of ideas. Seeing the brilliant Photoshop work on display in Infested Development, they decided to essentially copy our idea and use the same “window trick” in their latest debacle, “Suturama.” Too lazy to cut out that human being on the right side of the image, huh? Pity.
But enough mediocrity. My newest entry brings us all the way back to a time when Jessica Alba wasn’t adorning certain apartment walls on Sin City posters. You may recall she used to be on a show created by James Cameron called “Dark Angel” - I never watched it, but Kovar was a big fan. Here’s my latest, “Shark Angel.”

Looks like the Solar Sentinel has run out of ideas. Seeing the brilliant Photoshop work on display in Infested Development, they decided to essentially copy our idea and use the same “window trick” in their latest debacle, “Suturama.” Too lazy to cut out that human being on the right side of the image, huh? Pity.

But enough mediocrity. My newest entry brings us all the way back to a time when Jessica Alba wasn’t adorning certain apartment walls on Sin City posters. You may recall she used to be on a show created by James Cameron called “Dark Angel” - I never watched it, but Kovar was a big fan. Here’s my latest, “Shark Angel.”

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Media Consumed, Day 31: 05/23/10

LOST, Season Six, Episode 17 “The End”

"I hope that someone does for you what you just did for me." - John Locke

This is going to sound weird, but screw it - I wish LOST was a physical being just so I could repeat Locke’s quote to it. I have no qualms about sharing some love for this series, but let’s save that for the end and get to what the eff actually happened in (sniff) the series finale of LOST.

I’m going to put it like this: in the few minutes that I scanned Twitter and Facebook since the finale ended, I’ve seen a lot of hate out there for this show. These people (not all, but most) were setting themselves up for disappointment, setting expectations that even a two-and-a-half hour episode of television couldn’t meet. But those people missed the point of the show: this episode was not about cramming in answers to the thousands of questions posed by the show in its six year run. Instead, in typical LOST fashion, it presented us with just enough information to wrap up major storylines for our favorite characters, bringing the show to a stunning end and leaving us talking about what, exactly, we just witnessed.

So - what DID we see? I have a feeling people are going to be talking about this for a while. I’m sure there are countless theories flowing forth from the internet as I type, but I know I’ve come to one of my own. Here’s my stab at it.

(Take a deep breath, and stay with me here.)

You know all about the Flash Sideways by now. Imagine that only one of those parallel universes actually exists in the “real” world. I believe that the Island Timeline that we’ve seen all season (the one where Jack and Faraday’s plan doesn’t work and Oceanic 815 crashes on the Island) is the “real” version of what happened to our castaways. Jin and Sun drown in each other’s arms, Charlie drowns warning Desmond that the freighter isn’t Penny’s boat, etc. I think all of that actually happened. I think when the bomb goes off in the Season Five finale, triggering the Flash Sideways which presents a world where 815 lands safely at LAX, I think all of that didn’t happen in the same “real” universe that the Island stories occupied. I think this entire season’s worth of Flash Sideways storylines - Faraday the musician, Sawyer the cop, etc. - essentially depicts a purgatory for our characters to meet up with each other before they move on to their higher plane of existence: heaven, Nirvana, you name it.

This hypothesis makes sense (to me, at least) for a few reasons. When Charlie triggers Desmond to remember the “not Penny’s boat” scene in the Flash Sideways after veering his car into the water, it means that both Charlie and Desmond (and later, everyone else who remembers their Island lives) actually did live through those events on the Island. They have full memories of their time there: this is an inarguable point considering Sun and Jin’s instant recall of the English language. If they didn’t spend any time on the Island in “real” life, they wouldn’t know how to speak English.

All of the castaways are drawn to each other in the Sideways because that isn’t the “real” world - it’s a place, as Christian Shephard says in the finale, where they all decided to meet up before they moved on. The Sideways ends with a blinding flash of light in a church. I find it hard to believe that particular event is meant to be taken literally, as if it actually happens in the rest of the world the show has operated in since the pilot. So, if it’s not meant to be taken literally, then that means it’s a metaphoric gathering place for all of our favorite characters as they die and move on to heaven (or whatever your particular religion calls it).

There’s no body in the casket - Jack talks with Christian, who confirms that Jack is dead too. He says everyone waiting outside are all dead as well, but some have died already and others have yet to die. This church is a bus stop on the way to heaven, and the riders only get there when they die. This place isn’t “real,” but instead this meeting happens after everyone died - follow me so far?

So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things? It means that Jacob brought the candidates to the Island to protect the notion of heaven from the Man in Black, who wants to destroy it. This is on a global scale - I think if the MiB had succeeded in the end, it would have meant that no one on Earth would ever be able to get to heaven (or whatever you want to call it) again. It means that on the Island, in the “real” world, Jack accepts his destiny, sacrifices himself to protect the light, and dies watching his friends Frank, Miles, Richard, Sawyer, Kate, and Claire fly away overhead on Ajira 316. Rose and Bernard are left chillin’ on the Island, but it’s cool because Hurley and Ben are still there to protect it from any other threat that might arise. Their first task? Get Desmond reunited with Penny and their son Charlie. I’m sure they’ll be able to accomplish their mission - as Ben says, Jacob ran things a certain way, perhaps Hurley can find a better way. Claire and Kate are off to raise Aaron, and who knows what kind of crazy misadventures Frank, Sawyer, Miles, and Richard will get into once they touch down in Los Angeles. But it doesn’t matter, because this is where our show ends.

I like my theory because it validates the first five seasons of the show. Implying that they were dead the whole time (or something similarly dismissive) doesn’t sit well with me, because I like thinking that the characters I’ve spent all this time with were actually evolving and growing as time went on. If they were dead, none of that character development would really matter. So I dig my idea because it means that everything actually happened - from the first moment of the pilot to the final scene on the Island with Jack’s eye closing - and everything in the Sideways happened in some sort of other realm, a purgatory place where everyone lives happily ever after in constant slow motion montages.

It took me a few minutes to sift through, but I’ve decided that I loved this ending to the series. It’s such a crowd-pleasing conclusion, and though the Sideways story isn’t presented in a cut-and-dry manner, one thing is for certain: love conquers all. Even those of us who hated Shannon back in Season One had to smile when she reunited with Sayid. If nothing else, the show went romance-by-romance and tied up loose ends so everyone could be happy together in the end, even if it meant that everyone was together only so they could move on to heaven (or whatever you want to call it).

LOST has cemented itself as my favorite show of all time, and I don’t see anything knocking it from that perch in the near future. The way the show handled such complex philosophical, moral, and spiritual issues combined with phenomenal storytelling, exceptional production value, and - most importantly - great character work has elevated this series to an almost mythical level for me and changed the landscape of American television. That’s all I’ve got for now; I’ll see you in another life, brotha.

Random Thoughts:

  • Michael Giacchino absolutely knocked it out of the park tonight. He hit every emotional beat and carried the entire final five minutes of the show. Unquestionably one of the best composers working today.
  • I knew Frank Lapidus would make it back alive! I guess his character was essential after all - if he had died, nobody would have been able to fly our castaways out of there.
  • My only disappointment with the finale: no rendition of “You All Everybody” at the concert.
  • Did it seem odd to anyone else that Ben Linus’s “anyone else we need to kill?” line from last week wasn’t really followed through on tonight? That line seemed like a huge character shift after he killed Widmore, but then this week it was as if that shift never happened and he was back to normal, chatting it up on the radio with Miles. Did I miss something?
  • Jack vs. Locke - jump punch toward the camera. Coolest cut to black ever? Yep.
  • I really enjoyed seeing Juliet and Sawyer reunited. I’m sure some people never bought their love story back in Season Five, but I was always down with it. I was shocked at Juliet’s infidelity in the Sideways, but my shock was shortlived when someone pointed out to me that she and Jack were actually divorced.
  • Good to see Kate saving Jack and killing the MiB. There’s been some talk in recent weeks about how the women on this show have devolved into lovers and mother figures, and even though Kate technically fits into both of those molds, at least she stepped up and did some relevant work here. But I will also take this opportunity to say that she looked absolutely stunning in that black dress at the concert. Whew.
  • What does the cut on Jack’s neck mean about the connectivity of the Island Timeline and the Flash Sideways? I feel like that’s the only factor that has the potential to blow my theory out of the water.
  • If my theory is correct about the light on the Island representing the notion of heaven - and I think I’m right, considering Jacob’s analogy with the Island and the wine bottle - then it’s fitting that Jack sacrifices himself to save everyone on Earth. With his propensity (some might say obsession) for wanting to save people, it was great to see that come full circle and for his final act to be both heroic and personally fulfilling.
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While The Solar Sentinel had a decent idea for a pun in “Cuban Target,” the execution was childish at best. Really, Trehern? MS Paint? Step up your game. Or just go ahead and give up now, because I’m pretty sure “Infested Development” is going to be the haymaker in this boxing match.

While The Solar Sentinel had a decent idea for a pun in “Cuban Target,” the execution was childish at best. Really, Trehern? MS Paint? Step up your game. Or just go ahead and give up now, because I’m pretty sure “Infested Development” is going to be the haymaker in this boxing match.

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Media Consumed, Day 30: 05/18/10

LOST, Season Six, Episode 16 “What They Died For”

Listen, I’m obviously the first one to admit that I hated last week’s episode. You can read all about it right here. I’m not going to apologize for those thoughts because I still think most of my criticisms hold true; but with that said, I will admit that last week’s episode works as a great piece of setup for this week’s episode. Hearing Jacob reference events from “Across the Sea,” even going as far as to repeat lines of dialogue (“Now you’re like me”), made me appreciate the foresight of the writers and had me regretting my lambasting of last week’s episode.

But enough about last week. Let’s talk about how amazing this episode was. I was lucky enough to see it five days early at the LOST Live event last Thursday night. Thanks to my friend Amy Barker, I got to see composer/conductor Michael Giacchino conduct a 47-piece orchestra at UCLA, playing music from the show with the occasional appearance by one of the 20 (!) cast members that also attended the event. After the concert, a theater-sized screen was lowered and the surround sound was kicked on because the powers-that-be decided to show us “What They Died For” early. Watching the show on a huge screen in a crowd of 1800 die-hard LOST fans was a really fantastic experience.

The writing here was some of the best of this season. Desmond was at forefront of the Flash Sideways, but that story connected seamlessly between Jack, Ben, Desmond, and Sawyer. I couldn’t stop smiling at seeing Desmond’s plan in action - everything from beating the crap out of Ben in the school parking lot to ending up in jail with Sayid and Kate to the breakout with Ana Lucia and Hurley. There is obviously going to be a huge charity concert event in the finale, in which I’m guessing David (Jack’s Sideways son) will play a concert with Drive Shaft and Faraday (I’m psyched already). The Dr. Linus/Rousseau storyline did nothing for me, but, not surprisingly, Desmond delivered my favorite line tonight in his exchange with Sayid in the back of the police van. I don’t remember it specifically, but it had something to do with running over a handicapped guy in a parking lot.

Back on the Island, Jack finally crosses the threshold from Man of Science to Man of Faith, taking Jacob’s job as protector of the Island. And what was up with Ben? Amy and I discussed this after seeing the episode on Thursday: I thought Ben had kind of redeemed himself and given up his killin’ ways; when he broke down for Ilana and essentially said all he wanted was for somebody to want him, I thought he had officially crossed over to the good side. Clearly, the show doesn’t want things to be that simple, so Ben finally kills Charles Widmore and asks SmokeLocke if there’s anyone else that needs to be killed. Is this all part of some bigger plan from Ben, or has he really reverted to his old self?

Anyway, this was freaking great and I’m going to stop talking about it now. I can’t wait for the season finale on Sunday, so in the meantime, read Myles’ 4000 word review of this episode over at Cultural Learnings; I haven’t read it yet, but if you love TV analysis (and LOST) I guarantee it’s worth your time.

Glee, Season One, Episode 19 “Dream On”

Getting the obvious out of the way early: I thought the NPH/Matthew Morrison duets were awesome - both “Piano Man” and “Dream On,” the latter of which I promptly bought on iTunes. Plus, you have to admit that Bryan Ryan is a pretty perfect name for NPH’s character.

As for the actual content of the episode, I’m not the first person to say “I saw that coming” to the notion of Idina Menzel playing Lea Michele’s mother considering the striking physical resemblance. Since both women are incredibly talented, I’m down for whatever ridiculous shenanigans will arise from that subplot as long as the two keep singing together.

While following your dreams was clearly the theme for tonight’s episode, the show seemed to handle Artie’s storyline in a particularly strange way. It glorified his pipe dream of being able to walk again with that ridiculous boy band mall dance (shot in a cool YouTube-y way by director Joss Whedon, though), but then used Emma as the dealer of harsh reality, timidly letting Artie know that there was no way he’d walk again for many years. That’d be fine if they left it at that, but the longing way Artie sang the final song left me a bit confused as to the show’s allegiances to its own theme: his evident sadness at the lack of realization of his dream seemed out of place with the speech he only minutes earlier gave Tina about being OK with his situation. I’m not too terribly concerned with the messages this show is presenting on a micro level, considering their macro message of “be yourself” is stamped heavily into the very fabric of the series, but this back-and-forth in tonight’s episode struck me as a little strange.

I also really appreciated the lack of Emma and Will drama, and hope that this streak is continued for at least a few more episodes. Although, I will say that the preview for next week made me ashamed to watch the show. I guess I’d call myself a supporter of Lady Gaga, but seeing the garish way that the show abuses her novelty in next week’s episode made me not even want to watch it. Granted, it’s just a trailer, so perhaps it will handle the content with a bit more maturity than initially indicated. With no new LOST to watch next Tuesday, I suppose I’ll be tuning in to find out.

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