Category Archives: TV

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?

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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?!

Lost Theory: I See Dead People

This is my first stab at a basic Lost theory.  I’ve had some other ideas before (such as the Jughead bomb being buried beneath the Swan, the code is there to exhaust the radiation, the concrete it insolation), but I think this one, though far-fetched today, has some basic ideas that could explain a lot.  

I think Locke is dead.  He died back in LA, and his body was transported back to the island.  Due to the “unique electromagnetic properties” of the island, his consciousness is able to manifest as “real” on the island, but make no mistake: he’s dead, and can never leave.

So is Christian.  It was fortunate that his body was taken to the island, because there, he has re-manifested.  

So is Juliet.  She can’t leave.  Ben wouldn’t let her leave for years.  She naively believes she’s being held prisoner, but ultimately, she cannot leave the island, because outside of the island, she is dead.  How did she die? I’m not sure, but one possibility is that she was poisoned. She did drink something before the Mittlos Bioscience team – the ‘Others’ – took her to the island.  They explained it made the journey easier, but it certainly didn’t look like they needed it. Perhaps they killed her and then she ‘woke up’ when she was within reach of the island.  

So is Rose.  She had terminal cancer.  But here on the island, she’s just fine.  Leads me to believe that her body has been reanimated.

So is Jin.  He was killed in the freighter explosion.  But when his body washed ashore, he was brought back to life by the island.  

Four Toed Statue…And so is Penny.  Ben killed her before he took the O6 back, as he promised Widmore he would.  How else will Desmond ever be coaxed to return to the island? Why, the promise of resurrecting Penny, of course!  Mrs. Hawking told him the island wasn’t done with him, he was just too short-sighted to see why.

The above does pose a few questions: 

Firstly, who else is dead? Surely, if we can spot some of the dead, other people are also dead.

How is Jacob connected to this? Is Jacob dead? Is Jacob the spirit inhabiting those bodies? Is Jacob merely the first one to die and “come back to life?” 

How come only some people “come back to life?” My first though was that one can only come back if he dies OFF of the island.  But then I considered that Mikhail might also be one of the dead ones, and he died in the sonic fence.  But then he appeared again later, very much alive.  He died on the island.  

Why would the Others have to poison Juliet at all?  Perhaps there’s some benefit to being dead and reanimated on the island? 

A few other dead people have appeared on or around the island: Hurley’s friend Dave, Yemi, Ana Lucia, Libby, Horace, etc – all appeared after their “death.”  Were they actually there in consciousness? Or was that just the the smoke monster playing tricks, as many have theorized?  

Shows That Should Be Canceled

I watch a few TV shows that are in desperate need of a kick in the ass.  Let’s review:

Heroes has, for some time now, sucked.  Long ago, the writers decided to give up on character consistency, and they decided that they would have the characters stop on a dime and act completely contrary to their previous actions.  Case in point: Nathan, who quickly turned on his fellow mutants and now wants Peter dead, apparently.  I can’t even get into Heroes other than to say it’s such a mess it really should be canceled altogether.

Kyle XY is a show I started watching when I was a sick a few years ago, and I kept on for the mystery.  The problem is: the writers revealed too much too soon, and when the basic mysteries were solved, the second season introduced a worthless character, Jesse XX, as a plot device.  Then the plot become bigger as they introduced “Adam Baylin”, and explained a backstory to Zzyzx.  When that concluded, we learned that Madacorp was behind it all.  When that was done, we learned that it was actually “Latnok” was behind it all.  In other words, the lazy writers just keep making up more complex backstory as they go.  I hate to be a broken record, but compare this to LOST, where a clear vision in the first place prevented sloppy cut-and-go storytelling that leaves everyone confused. The good news is, this show was canceled, so hopefully they can conclude it nicely and wrap everything up cleanly.

Grey’s Anatomy, an interesting show in season 1, has gotten worse with age.  Each season has been less intriguing and more annoying.  Every single character sounds like Shonda Rhymes now, they all have the same affectational pitter-patter sing-song intonation.  I hate Izzie, who was once interesting.  I hate George, who has become an extra.  I hate Bailey, who vascillates between a professional and over-attached.  I hate Meredith, who is whiny.  I hate Cristina, who is a cold bitch.  I hate Callie, who whines and made the fastest jump to Lesbianism ever.  I hate the Chief, who is a total pushover.  Actually, I like little Grey, Shephard, and Sloan, and I’m learning to like Dr Arizona, but mostly because she’s kinda hot.   Either way, this show jumped the shark long ago, and I wish they’d put it to sleep.

Prison Break has introduced more plot twists than any show ever in history, but once you get used to it, it’s kinda fun.  However, it’s carried on for 4 seasons now, far longer than the concept of a “prison break” should have permitted.  I am glad they pulled the plug on this, not because it’s not fun, but because some premises simply can’t sustain forever.

On a lighter note, I originally had called “Fringe” a disappointment, but I must say, I’m feeling good about it lately.  It’s interesting, the characters are getting to be consistent and interesting, and the overall storyline is shaping up like the X Files: small mystery solved each week, large mystery gets more complex.  I hope this show gets even more time to bloom.