Tag Archives: Television

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.

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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

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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?  

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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.

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Recap of Heroes “Villians”

Well, the third major arc of Heroes, entitled “Villians,” has come to a close.   I’ve discussed Heroes before, and, except in Volume 1, been pretty disappointed.  So now that we’re begun Volume 4, “Fugitives,” how do I feel? To put it bluntly, Heroes sucks worse than ever, and yet, I’m still watching it. 

Heroes is a brilliant concept executed as poorly as possible.  It’s of of the worst written, poorest plot-bearing, illest planned, silliest scripted series ever to grace Sci Fi.  Everything about Heroes stinks except the actors and the core concept.  The rest blows.  Let’s examine:

1. Firstly, we’ve got a science problem  

The science of Heroes is always screwy.  Some might argue that there must be a certain suspension of disbelief with science fiction, and I’d agree.  We suspend disbelief about the fact that there, for example, is space travel in Star Trek, but we expect the writers to follow the known laws of physics in space.  We expect the ship to be sound.  And we expect that when the rules are bent, there’s a reasonable and semi-believable explanation.   With Heroes, we have a day long eclipse that occurs everywhere at once.  We have someone who can run REALLY fast who can apparently bring anyone with her at the same speed.  If you can fly, you can apparently lift anything through flight.  

2. Second, we’ve got a motivation problem

A “volume,” which runs about half a season, takes 13-16 weeks to unfold.  But it occurs in much less time for the characters.  And yet, they go through major emotional changes in a short span.  Just look at Sylar.  He went from villian to man seearching for redemption to soon-to-be loving father to angry to ruthless villian in the span of this story.   Why would he change so quickly? His actions make no sense.  Going from “No, Sylar, I *am* your mother” to ‘I’m working for Dad’ to ‘I’m going to kill Angela’ was too rocky and didn’t give the character time to understand his own actions or emotions.   Let’s not even get started on Mohinder, who makes no sense at all, or Angela, or worst of all, Arthur, who could have avoided this entire series by simply making Nathan not investigate Linderman in the first place, which means no need for Angela to kill him, which means no revenge, which means no Pinehurst, which means no Nathan vs. Peter.  Which leads me to…

3. We’ve got a logic problem

Aside from things like “Why is Sylar changing his motivations so quickly?” there are much bigger logic flaws, like for example, “Why does Clair hate her father one minute but then love him the next ALL SEASON LONG?” Sorry, but this is central to the show.  The Bennetts – Clair and Noah- are core characters.  So making their emotions so whimsy is not just a character motivation problem, but rather a major logic flaw.  These characters are inconsistent.  Is Clair a cheerleader, a kid, or a company warrior? How can someone work for this elite “Company” with no real training other than smacking a stick around for a few minutes? Why does Clair – and Noah – think  that regeneration abilities makes someone a natural for fighting this huge “war”? 

4. We’ve got plot problems

What was the point of the eclipse? Why did they make a big deal about the catalyst if it was resolved so readily? Where would the catalyst gone had Hiro not shown up to take it?  Why did Parkman have to have the spirit walk? What about HIro? These things were required for nothing other than killing time.  There was barely anything happening this arc.  When you introduce information and plot points that have no real value to the story, it’s your first clue that your writers are in over their heads.  Suckage. 

5. Lastly, we’ve got a concept problem

This concept is so brilliant, the idea of following “specials” around.  But the implementation is flawed, because you’ve decided to commit to your cast.  This concept would have been awesome if, as we followed each volume, we moved to new, interesting characters.  A built in reboot every half season.  But unfortunately, now this show is like any other serialized drama, and I don’t trust it.  I don’t believe Sylar is dead.   I don’t believe Arthur is dead.  I didn’t believe Hiro was stuck in the past, I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Hiro’s dad.  I don’t know if I believe Meredith is dead.  Elle might be dead, but she was always peripheral.   So nothing is believable, and I’m not ready to be burned again.  

Yeah, I’ll end up watching volume 4, but not because it’s a good show.  Because no one can turn away from a good train wreck.

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Dr House: Is A Change is a’Comin?

Last night’s episode of House, M.D. made little sense.  Why would Dr. House, near the end of the show, give the patient back his gun? Why not just diagnose him but say he has the gun? Then something interesting happened.  The guy almost killed Thirteen, and for a moment, House looked stunned.  And I thought, “Oh God, please let this be it.”  

What is it? It is the moment I’ve been waiting for.  The moment when House realizes his inane behavior is getting unrealistic and unbearable.  The House character is getting boring to me because he shows no growth whatsoever, never learns any lessons.  He’s just a miserable old sack. And the show was losing steam, until last night, because it’s become so formulaic that Cracked magazine took a well-deserved swing at it.  

So, I’m hoping that last night, as the SWAT team blew away the walls of the CAT scan room and House, for a moment, was unsure whether or not his plan had backfired; as House began to understand that his silly actions may have led to Thirteen’s unnecessary death; as House suddenly understood (I think) that he had behaved like an idiot, that maybe we have the catalyst for the first real growth of the character.  I wish – I wish so much – that perhaps the character would show some emotional reaction to the fact that he endangered not just others’ lives, but others’ lives quite recklessly.  

House shouldn’t suddenly become a softie, and he shouldn’t suddenly be a new character, but the same way you drive a little slower for awhile after you think you might be getting a ticket when you pass a cop, he ought to have a little bit of extra thought about his actions, a pause before acting like the cold moron he normally is.  Because any human would, after an event like that.     

Unfortunately, I don’t expect it.  I think next Tuesday will open credits on the same old House.  Too bad.

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First Impressions: Fringe

Last night was episode 2 of the highly anticipated new series, “Fringe.” I had been looking forward to Fringe for some time with only one reservation: I was hesitant to get into another serialized marathon like Lost or Heroes. But it was so compelling in its ads that I decided to give it a shot.

Last week’s pilot episode set up a great premise.  The “translucent” body effect and the mystical “Pattern,” complemented by stone cold Matthew Abadon Agent Broyles left me wanting more.  I suspect the second episode was much more indicative, however, of what this show will actually be.   Read more after the break.

Continue reading

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The Tuba Polka

Having a young baby means you are lucky enough to get to watch have to endure kid programs. Some are better than others, but nearly all of them are painfully repetitive. Shows like Dora the Explorer are, at first glance, mind-bendingly boring. But after a while, you start to appreciate the little nuances and differences, such as when a bad guys gets away with something they usually don’t (like that bastard Swiper Fox).  I’ve grown to appreciate The Wonder Pets and even Pinky Dinky Doo. But my new favorite kids show is The Backyardigans.

Your backyard friends

Your backyard friends

This is the basic premise: in each episode, some subsection of five talking, dancing, young animals meet in their backyard(s) for a pretend adventure. They “imagine” the adventure, and along the way, they sing songs – not just kids songs, the show is a musical.  Each episode also features a new genre of music, some as simple as “Rock N Roll,” but others are as specific as “zydeco.” Along the way, they dance, and the dances are actual animations of real kids dancing fed through some process to make a computer representation.

The thing is, the songs are pretty catchy. And what’s worse, some of them are really catchy. I’ve googled it, and scores of people are searching for the lyrics to some of these songs.  The theme song is one of the most annoying and most popular out there, but my kid loves it.  And then there’s this little number called either “The Tuba Polka” or “The Worman Polka.” Although the closed captions read “Dance little worman polka,” I’m convinced that the below lyrics are correct.

I love to play the tuba and do the polka dance
Makes me feel so happy in my cowboy polka pants
Do the tuba polka! Do the tuba polka!

We’re heading west to play a polka party for our friends
All the way to Cheyenne where the dancing never ends

Dance to the worman polka! Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip! Dance to the worman polka!

When Sherman’s brother gets there, we’ll yell “Surprise!” real loud
And all those western Wormans will dance the polka proud

Dance to the worman polka! Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip! Dance to the worman polka!

If you get a chance and you either have a young chil who will appreciate this or you’re just a music fan looking for a genre that most of your behind-the-curve friends won’t yet have discovered, check out The Backyardigans.

My recommendation for best song: “He’s Green” from “The Swamp Creature” episode, “Boinga,” from the “Mission to Mars” episode, and “The Tuba Polka” from the “Polka Palace” episode.

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Damn, Dustin Diamond is a Douche

Somehow, I’m embarassed to admit, I got sucked into watching VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club this weekend. Normally, I find the show to be an uninteresting train wreck. Over Christmas break, a few of us were sitting around in front of the TV and I caught several episodes in a row where Dustin Diamond, the guy who played Screech on Saved By the Bell, mouthed off to the drill seargant and got himself the title of “bad boy.” To make a long story short, he became a pain the ass by continuing to eat cheeseburgers and generally annoy everyone throughout the “season.” He also made a very loud and obnovious point to pimp his sex tape – yes, seriously – at every opportunity.

Fast forward to this weekend, when they are airing “Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp.” In some weird twist, they have “brought back” some previous contestants (read: cheap Omarosa-style publicity stunt) to revisit the Fit Club. Now, unlike a show like The Biggest Loser, where contestants work out, eat healthy, live on set, and lose up to 12 to 15 lbs or more each week, these celebutards are given fluff goals like 1 or 2 lbs to lose each week, and they routinely fail because it’s a joke: they show up for a day or two each week, they eat whatever the hell they want, regularly talking about how they fell short, and admit to working out a day or two each week. It’s not a “fit club,” it’s a few attention-starved chunky idiots who can’t stick to a diet.

Anyway, leave it to worthless Dustin Diamond to start his princess behavior again. After carrying on, he let the “drill seargant” get to him when he quit…again. He quit one challenge before it started. He quit another when he claimed to be “out of lung capacity.” Then he skimped on a third the WWE “Divas” hosted. He claims they pushed him too hard and then, when the drill seargant said he wanted the WWE Divas to kick his butt, he suggested he couldn’t be a party to an illegal threat of violence.

But the part that kills me is how Diamond is suggesting that he’s being targetted because he’s Jewish and not because he’s en effing pansy. He’s a whiny, arrogant, big fat baby and he acts like a spoiled child who needs to be shipped off to military school. Every insult – for which these shows are known! – prompts a phone call to his lawyer or to his “manager” (aka his wife). It has nothing to do with being Jewish, Dustin, it has to do with being a grade A douche bag.

Dustin Diamond is effing worthless. He, much like the previously mentioned Omarosa, should never be allowed on TV again. Reality TV may be the crack of programming, but there are some people who are best left completely ignored. Dustin Diamond is one of them.

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Heroes’ Sophomore Slump

I’m not the only one wondering where the heck the excitement is with the TV show Heroes. Entertainment Weekly‘s TV Watch has been tearing it up lately. They directed me towards a “Heroes” feature article that was recently posted. Last season, I was vocal about where “Heroes” succeeded and failed. This year, of course, is no different.

Heroes, where it was cool last year, is just dull this year. We have several storylines, but none are advancing with any meaningful devices. Let’s examine:

* Mohinder is working with HRG to infiltrate the company. He gives them Molly, and they… uh… lie her down in a bed.

* Nicki is working with the company because… uh… I have no idea. They want to help her, or something, but I don’t know what they’ve done other than make her a bit of a bodyguard.

* The “twins” are the most hated new characters – the Paulo and Nicky of “Heroes,” I think – but I find the whole power between them kind of interesting. Too bad their “coming to America” plotline has gone on about 4 weeks too long.

* Sylar lost his power for unknown reasons we’ll likely never be told, but is still so ridiculously and obviously evil its comical.

* Micah is still a complete tool who is way too positive for a 12 year old and is still using his powers for… nothing in particular — hacking pay-per-view and stuff.

* Monica has a “photographic muscle memory ,” and one of the first things she does is pick up from supporting her family and go to New York to “train,” no doubt leaving her family hungry.

* Peter is the least convincing of all. I know if I had amnesia and woke up and found my entire life in a box, I’d probably ditch my whole life for a 50% cute chick and not bother Googling my name. That way I would never have to find out that my brother is a New York state senator. Also, I wouldn’t suspect there’s an interesting back story with the FIRE THAT SHOOTS FROM MY HANDS.

* Matt Parkman is professionally annoying and is creepily attached to a little girl he’s known for 36 seconds.

* Nathan Petrelli is a drunkard; apparently, senators don’t do publicity and no one recognizes him.

* Claire is kinda hot and actually has the most convincing storyline, along with her a-hole friend West, who behaves more like a real person than anuone else in the entire show.

* HRG has suddenly decided the best way to hide is to trek around the world and murder his ex-mentor in order to find the paintings that show his demise. When he finds them, he can’t make heads or tails of them.

* Someone sent Veronica Mars after Peter, but she didn’t find him in the first 10 seconds, so they recalled her. Haven’t seen her since.

* Who can forget Hiro, who has the silliest story of all. He goes back in time and finds a nasty drunkard theif, who, despite the fact that he’s known a Japanese girl for about a day, goes to the enemy when Hiro kisses her. Lame, get Hiro back to present day. Anyway, if I could bend time, even though I went back to ancient Japan, wouldn’t you just return to the present when you finally do come back so there is no “gap” when you’re missing??

Heroes had better coalesce quickly, because it’s currently just wandering aimlessly. Once your story is just filling time, which I think this one is, you’ve losing people’s interests. The fact is that this story is creeping along at a snail’s pace in order to fill a season. Viewers don’t appreciate that.

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