Category Archives: Entertainment

LOST Recap

I was mixed after the LOST finale.  Then I saw the Flashforward finale.  Flashforward is a show that did a *lot* of things wrong, but with only two weeks notice they would be canceled, they rearranged a few scenes, solved the largest mystery, and gave us an interesting, hopeful, cliffhanger-y ending.   Yes, they ignored or let die the majority of the ancillary mysteries, but overall, it was great, given the circumstances.  Lost, on the other hand, was a joke.

The gave us a “resolution” to the characters ignoring the fact that they sucked us in with the Island.  Dharma.  Jacob.  The hatch.  Hanso.  The DeGroots. The intertwining lives.  The numbers.  Hurley at the institution with Libby.  Walt being special.  The Egyptian stuff.  The statue. The constant.  The pregnancy thing. The others.  The purge.  The pylons.  The “files” on the castaways.

And they f*$%ed us.  They broke our contract – we watched and pieced it together, they were supposed to reveal what happened. And they didn’t. They didn’t just leave one or two things up to us, they just flat out abandoned the mysteries altogether. I’d say more, but I can’t do it better than Eugenia already did.  I urge you to read this piece on why LOST worked, and this piece on why Lost sucked first. Ultimately, for me, Lost was the best ride ever that had no real payoff.

LOST: What to Make of the Finale

Many people will be disappointed by last night’s series finale of LOST. Many will be incredibly satisfied. Count me among both camps.

If you were a fan of the show because it was enthralling, as I was, you’ll love the finale. It had action, romance, drama, comedy, and a generally happy ending. If you were a fan for the mystery and mythology, as I also was, you will be very disappointed as virtually every core mystery was completely abandoned.

Emotionally, I was completely satiated. I was rooting for Sawyer and Juliet to find each other, I was so happy for Claire and Charlie, I thought Jin and Sun played their awakening scene perfectly, Hurley and Libby shared an awakening kiss, and we’d already had our Desmond/Penny reunion. All that was missing was Daniel and Charlotte pairing off. I wish we had seen a happy ending for poor ol’ Miles, but I guess he had his dad.

Intellectually, I was a little stumped. First, by the solution: um… what? So the entire alternate timeline was post-death, or just the church scene? They joined the alternate timeline when they died in the real timeline? Wait… was the real timeline even real at all? I don’t know.

Mythologically, I was downright pissed. Is it okay for the writers to give us 121 hours of programming spurred on by completely mind-bending mystery and then completely and totally abandon virtually every one of those storylines with no explanation?

The central mystery of the show was “What is the island?” It was the center so much so that the pilot ended by dropping its first titlecard after Charlie’s now infamous “Guys… where are we?” That was not only not answered, it was flat out made more complicated in the finale.  In protecting “the source,” we saw Desmond and Jack descend into the light.  First off, going in certainly did not mean a fate “worse than death”; second, it seemed the bottom of the well was man-made! WHA…? There’s another entire story at the bottom of the light source.

Let’s not forget about all the little nagging ones… How does Hurley see dead people? How can Miles talk to them? What is the smoke? Who built the frozen wheel? How does the island “move” when the wheel is turned?  How did Jacob make Richard ageless? What was up with Hanso and the DeGroots? What was the Hanso connection with the Black Rock captain and the blast door map? The questions are limitless, and they go largely unanswered.

So, today, I’m not sure how I feel about the entire thing.  On one hand, I feel betrayed for having invested so much time in the mysteries to be completely ignored.  On the other, though, it was the best 121 hours of TV I’ve ever watched.  Even the less-exciting episodes were still the highlight of the TV week.  I doubt I’ll ever have as much fun with a TV show as I have on the journey of LOST.

Deadliest Warrior, Season 2

This week, SpikeTV unleashed the new season of Deadliest Warrior, a show that pits two historical warriors head-to-head in an attempt to test their skills and weapons to declare one deadliest.  Last season, I was turned on to the show and immediately was in love with the concept.  Even the two hosts, even more likable once you get to know them a little better by following their Twitter streams[1], have become familiar and part of the fun.

Last year,  we got some very interesting, if fairly uneven, matchups.  When we investigated battles like Viking vs Samurai, Pirate vs Knight, and Spartan vs Ninja, we learned about how the advent of steel affected strength and effectiveness of weaponry.   When we watched Shaolin Monk vs Māori Warrior, we got not only to learn about warriors that were a little lesser known, but also got to see some brutal weaponry.

The Season 2 premiere pitted SWAT against the German counter-terrorism group GSG9. Unfortunately, this episode was a letdown for me. The problem is not the show or the hosts, but rather, the premise. How can you suggest that one warrior is better than the other based on weapons, when clearly, the same weapons are available to both?

Case in point: the GSG9 carried the H&K G36 mid-range weapon and noted its carbon fiber body made it light. They also noted the pump action Remington 870 was a pump acton gun used for its reliability, even in extreme cold. Both of those were strategic decisions. But the show gave the edge to SWAT both times, first for the fraction-of-a-second speed difference and higher caliber bullet (entirely discounting the additional kickback) and second for the few-seconds speed difference, ignoring the reliability.   If the GSG9 felt the other guns were better guns, they’d have simply used the same guns as SWAT.  So the DW gang ignored all of the worthwhile comparison in favor of examining the weapons under very specific circumstances.  The GSG9 may very likely have prevailed, and completely so, given some of the extreme circumstances for which they were prepared where SWAT might have been simply stranded.

Also, as far as I could tell, the GSG9′s training was never factored in. SWAT is an awesome infantry, and I’m sure many of them are very skilled. But the missions the GSG9 face in Germany would never be relegated to SWAT in the US, it would probably be an FBI special task force or even something more like military special forces.   Boiling these two forces down to just their weapon choices was a massive over-distillation of the facts: it didn’t test the deadliest warrior at all, it just tested the weapons.  I feel the the DW gang just plain old got this one wrong.

But usually, I’m pretty satisfied.  Sure, the “edge” awarded is totally unscientific (e.g. “this one is 1/8″ closer, so this weapon has the edge”), but the number of simulations and the tests themselves are generally enthralling enough and the attack methods and damage done is so interesting, it’s easy to overlook the gaps in the process.  Anyone who really studies a show like Mythbusters is going to be able to spot 100 issues with the conclusions too, so I’m apt to give DW a pass at some of the smaller leaps.  The outcome is less important than the tests anyway, and the tests are almost always great on high speed.

The less modern, non-team comparisons are much more fun. There is really is about the ingenuity of the weapons and the fighting tactics. Knights, for example, had to contend with the weight of their armor but carried heavy swords. Compare that, say, to ninjas who had no armor but a dramatically different set of weapons and training.   Pirates we know had scary-deadly weapons, but they were by-and-large notoriously unreliable. That type of comparison makes for a much more interesting head-to-head.

Fortunately, this season’s match ups are much more historical in nature and less modern-day-warrior toe-to-toe.  I’m especially looking forward to Vlad The Impaler vs. Sun Tzu and Persian Immortal vs. Celt. These matches will pit warriors who had the benefits of centuries of weapon advancement, but not modern technology or mass availability. I’m really looking forward to seeing how things pan out. If you get a chance, Deadliest Warrior is on Spike and SpikeHD on Tuesdays.

[1] Max Geiger and Geoff Desmoulin are the hosts, and both are down-to-earth and fan-responsive on Twitter.

Update: Show host @geoffdesmoulin tweets: “Just read it! Its solid BUT ive 2 disagree w/ U. Look up the World SWAT Challenge & U’ll C GSG-9 only won once vs US SWAT!!” and points us to his follow up blog entry here: http://bit.ly/aw90XG

Lost: Directions for a Friend

For those of you who haven’t seen tonight’s Lost yet, fair warning: spoilers ahead.

We heard Jacob tell Hurley that a friend was trying to find the Island.  And who found the Island? Widmore.

The natural question to ask is: is Widmore really a good guy, or is Jacob really a bad guy?

Rethinking Robocop

Yesterday, during commercial breaks of the Saints/Vikings NFC championship game, I was flipping over to watch bits of Robocop 2. When I was younger, I remember my friends would gather to watch Robocop and were very excited when the sequel was announced. Watching it now, however, I see how bad that movie was. Or was it?

It struck me how old the entire thing felt, and how silly the technology was. It got me thinking about a franchise reboot, and then it got me thinking about what Robocop would be today, if he were re-envisioned.

The first thing I noticed is that Robocop is slow and deliberate, and when his “joints” move, they produce a hydraulic buzzing sound. So we’ll need him to be smoother in movement, and without announcing his presence. He’ll need to be significantly lighter on his feet than the slow and heavy-stepping original.

The original sported an eye plate, that stretched only a centimeter or so in height and a few inches in wrap. That will need to change to be supplemented by smaller cameras that can give Robocop a 360 degree view of his surroundings.

Since Robocop was severely damaged after being caught in a magnet, we’ll need a better metal. I propose new Robocop be constructed of a smarter, so-called “space age” metal such as titanium, vanadium, tungsten, or magnesium.

The original Robocop recorded interaction on an in-body video camera, presumably storing it digitally, which was pretty pretty commonplace for the 1987. New Robocop will not only record interaction to a bank of flash memory or some sort of SSD array, but he will be equipped with Wifi and some sort of cellular connection like LTE or WiMax (he’ll be in a big city, so we can presume coverage). He will transmit all of his data periodically, so he won’t need to store terabytes of memory in-body.

New Robocop will not have exposed skin (or internal mechanics). Period. That’s weakness.

Original Robocop stored his gun in his leg. This is an outdated concept based on a concept that looked cool in the 80′s. Today’s Robocop will store multiple weapons throughout his body, small rubber-bullet-like projectiles perhaps in his forearm. We can equip his chest or fingers with mace or tear gas. If he requires an actual gun, it will be not be trigger deployed. It will be activated only when connected to Robocop, and very likely controlled via WifiDirect or Bluetooth. There’s simply no good reason to rely on old fashion triggers that can be exploited. In the event of system malfunction, a manual weapon will be present, but since Robocop shouldn’t be relying on his gun most of the time, he will have a nightstick of some sort.

New Robocop should not have an over-synthesized voice.

One of the constant flaws we saw in Robocop 2, as they attempted to build a second Robocop, was the lack of control they had over the machine. We fix this by running the Robocop program on a Linux-based system and jailing/chrooting it. New Robocop can do what he wants, but if he gets out of hand, we still have control. We allow remote SSH logins from authorized IPs, and sudo up to root guaranteeing ourselves a remote shutdown option. No sloppy infrared remote control here, just pure IP access.

Once Robocop is a computer, we’ll need a few more accommodations, because that becomes the chief point of vulnerability. We’ll need pretty sophisticated software here to prevent someone from hacking into Robocop, but that’s of course the plot of the movie, I’d suggest: someone hacks into Robocop remotely and alters the programming, and despite Robocop’s knowledge that he’s been compromised, he’s unable to prevent his own actions since he’s jailed into a subdirectory. The twist at the end, I’d suppose, is that some hot-shot teenage hacker finds an exploit and jailbreaks Robocop remotely, thereby giving Robocop the ability to control himself, at which point, he pretends to be following orders, but instead, tracks down the guy controlling him.  Right before his death, the guy should shout something cliche like “But… I’m your masterrrrrrrrrrrrrr….!

One of the unaddressed issues I saw with the robotic cops in the movie was the perpetual need for a lubricant like oil. It seems submersion in water would simply short out all of these solutions. So I’ll reiterate the lack of exposed skin and mechanics, and we’ll spend some time making our Robocop water resistant and reuse some sort of internally stored WD-40-like fluid, which is also “green.”   It would be a shame to build a billion dollar robocop only to have him quashed by a bucket of water.

I’d like to see Robocop be a little less terrifying to the average citizen.  Robocop ought to represent something, and cops are supposed to be there to protect and serve the average citizen, not just to get the bad guys.   So Robocop ought not be stomping around the police station and calling people “punk,” nor should he be be marching into an arcade, smarmily offering “Isn’t today a school day?” Nein, Robocop should be there for citizens, first and foremost.  We’ll disable his sarcasm and “witty quip” programs.   Robocop should offer an air of protection, not a fear he’ll malfunction.

Lastly, if I’m going to invest a billion into a Robocop, I think I might put him in something a touch nicer than an old, banged up Ford Taurus.

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What will eventually be revealed on Lost? Kristin from E! Online reveals quite a bit without getting spoiler-y.  But this gem should satisfy the mythology geeks:

Damon said, “Here’s the story with numbers. The Hanso Foundation that started the Dharma Initiative hired this guy Valenzetti to basically work on this equation to determine what was the probability of the world ending in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Valenzetti basically deduced that it was 100 percent within the next 27 years, so the Hanso Foundation started the Dharma Initiative in an effort to try to change the variables in the equation so that mankind wouldn’t wipe it itself out.” This information, in more convoluted form, was leaked out via the online games rather than explained on the show itself, says Damon, because, “That would be the worst thing ever. We have to make the show for the hardcore fans who care about the numbers, but we also have to make it for my mom, who just wants Sawyer to take his shirt off.”

Has Lost Lost You?

Many people are complaining about Lost’s wacky twists this season, many with good reason.  In order to prepare for their big reveals, it’s time for them to start telling the real story, and much of it deals with time travel, which is always a sticky subject, given that its entirely science fiction.  But it’s tough, because we have all envisioned a perfect mystery, and it’s likely that some things won’t make sense.   I’m still on board, I’m still hooked.

Here are some things I feel I can predict in the storyline of Lost, and some things that are standing out.

  1. I think the “Incident,” we all can guess, has to do with the bomb called Jughead.  I suspect it has some sort of detonation or radiation leak.
  2. I think that Pierre Chang will instruct his wife and child to leave the island because he knows that the Incident is coming, possibly because Daniel tells him so.  I think it would even cooler if Miles told Chang to clear them out, for obvious reasons.  Then Miles would have spent his whole life hating his father for doing what he would eventually tell him to do.
  3. I think it’s possible that Miles’ mother’s cancer is directory related to Jughead and the Incident.
  4. I  use to think that the Swan’s layers of concrete were to encase Jughead.  Sayid said the only time he’d seen that much concrete was at Chernobyl.  But the construction of the Swan in 1977 reveals that the bomb has found another home for at least 20-something years.  Now I think that again, because I think there’s a trick here: the “Hostiles” were the ones who had the bomb in the 50′s.  Perhaps Horace and Chang know the bomb is out there and intend to steal it and encase it at the Swan, evacuating the radiation every 108 minutes.  I’m still foggy on this, but obviously, whatever the Swan’s original purpose is must be explained shortly.
  5. I am a little disappointed at how underwhelming the Dharma Initiative is turning out to be.  They were initially described as a team of elite scientists.  Instead, we’re treated to a slew of janitors, cooks, blue collar workers.  Is it possible that only Dr. Chang and Horace know what the heck is going on? Even the Dharma people themselves are unaware? That makes the DI no better than any old cult, which is a letdown.  They were doing high level experiments.  Who is conducting all the research? If the hatches aren’t all constructed yet, when will those experiments begin, because we all know that the Purge is coming, and it has to be before that.
  6. It seems unreasonable and irresponsible for the Dharma Initiative to brand everything.  That seems like a colossal waste of both time and money.  And why jumpsuits? Who is going to see them? Why not just t-shirts?
  7. We had better see a connection with the DeGroots and Alvar Hanso or I will be one pissed off dude.
  8. I think we will see the following things and events explained, and in the following order: the Hatch, the Incident, the Purge, the Statue, the Dharma Initiative, Jacob, the Island.  The numbers have been revealed to be the Valenzetti Equasion variables.  We will never  get an answer to some minor things, but I suspect all major plot points will be explained.  Included in eventual reveals, I predict: Annie, Ellie == Eloise?, Adam and Eve, the smoke monster, the blast door map, Alvar and Magnus Hanso, and where the eff Bernard and Rose have been.  I think it’s possible they may never explain why Walt is “special,” but I bet we learn why Desmond is.
  9. I believe in artistic license.  So unlike some friends of mine (wink wink, E) I don’t mind minor mess ups that don’t really affect the greater plot.  There are some weird Rousseau things: in one season, she said the others were nothing but whispers, but certainly, she saw and spoke to Ben.  Okay, so they hadn’t fleshed it all out in season 1.  But I suspect they know where they are going with the big reveals.

Just a few thoughts.  If you’ve got some, feel free to chime in.

Lost exclusive: War erupts over Charlotte’s real age!

According to EW: ‘Lost’ exclusive: War erupts over Charlotte’s real age!

Holy cow! So Charlotte’s age has been a big mystery, since she was born in 1979, but clearly, Faraday saw her in 1974.  You know how big of a deal this is!?

It’s not! Holy shit, people, has it come to this? This is a big deal?  This is the first continuity mistake of note on Lost (yes, there are some other very minor ones that I generally attribute to poetic license, like traveling distances over the island in short periods).  That said, it’s just not a big deal.  It doesn’t ruin the plot, it doesn’t change any of the mystery, it’s just a simple mistake that really isn’t that big of a deal.  So Charlotte is a little older than we thought.  Or she got her own birth year wrong.  Whatever.

Can we get to talking about the important things, like where is Faraday in 1977? Where are Bernard and Rose? Why didn’t Sun go back to 1977? Why can’t Widmore come back to the island? And… ahem… four toed statue?!