Lost – Season 3, Episode 22 – Through the Looking Glass

May 25, 2007

All I have to say is WOW.  All the hype about this episode being game changing for the show was true.  The last two season finales that were as memorable in terms of changing the show’s status quo were the finale of season 2.5 of Battlestar Galactica when the show jumped a year ahead with the fleet settled on New Caprica and even closer another JJ Abrams special in season 2 of Alias when Sydney woke up in Tokyo with Vaughn married and 3 years gone by.  I felt the same excitement and anticipation last night for the next season of Lost.

I happily avoided all spoilers but part way through I realized that Jack’s story was a flash forward (despite the confusing reference to Jack’s father being alive).  I also wasn’t surprised that the person he called was Kate.  Regardless, this does not mean that I didn’t love the twist.  The possibilities that the episode open up are just way too numerous and exciting.  Will the show start on the island and flash forward with the characters.  Will the show move to the future and flash back to how they got there.  Are the characters still on the island and the flash forward only a possible future?  Who was in the coffin?  Is time travel key to the show?  Why did Jack want to get back to the island?  How many flashbacks that we’ve seen are actually flash forwards?  I’m not dedicated enough to track down all the clues but I look forward to reading the speculations over the next 9 months.

I assumed last week that even though he didn’t die last week that Charlie’s story would end tonight.  Still, put the episodes together and they gave him a great send off.  It reminded us why we liked Charlie so much during that first season and put up with him even when he was annoying last year.  Great death scene.

Other great moments with Hurley and the Magic Bus saving the day, Jack’s great performance from letting Jin, Bernard and Sayid “die” to his future breakdown, the return of bad ass Sawyer killing Mr. Friendly, the rebirth of Locke (and my pick for future death), Ben’s warning to Jack about Naomi, Jack flying hoping the plane will crash and many, many more.

After a mediocre first 6 episodes, the show slowly redeemed itself and did what I thought was impossible given where the show was 9 months ago.  It’s given me hope that the writers not only know where the show is going but really may have had it planned out from the beginning.  It’s a long way to February but I’m excited.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A+

Lost Ending in 2010 and Season 3, Episodes 17 & 18 – Catch 22 and D.O.C.

May 9, 2007

The announcement I’ve been hoping for has finally been made.  Lost will officially have an ending.  No more worrying about whether the show will drag on indefinitely with no real planning or closure on the horizon.  Instead we get 3 shortened 16 episode seasons that will run without interruption starting February 2008.

What makes me even more excited about this announcement is that I care what happens again.  How great have the last couple of episodes been!  The show is once again stirring the same excitement it did when it first hit the air.

Sun’s joy at finding out the baby was Jin’s despite what it means for her hit all the right emotional buttons as did her backstory.  The discovery of the new addition to the island and the revelation that flight 815 was found and that all the passengers had been killed may not give us a clear answer (although it does give credence to the purgatory explanation) but it sure is moving the story forward.  No real shock that Juliet is a mole and that Jack is likely one too but I sure want to know what secret she wanted to tell Kate.  Sawyer killing the con man who caused the death of his parents and also happens to be Locke’s father was neat especially when combined with his explanation for how he got to the island.  And finally we still have Ben in the background pulling strings as some of the Others factions conspire against him.

Can’t wait for tomorrow night’s episode.

Avi’s episode ratings: A

Lost – Season 3, Episode 11

March 14, 2007

I haven’t written about Lost since its return from hiatus. Like many I was disappointed by the first 6 episodes of the season but the past 5 episodes have been much better. I liked the focus on Juliet and Desmond, both of whom had great back stories (or possibly a time traveling story in Desmond’s case). I liked the revelation that Charlie is supposed to die. I liked Kate and Sawyer’s escape from the Others and even more important their reunion with the rest of the castaways. I didn’t love the Jack-centric episode but it was still far better than most of the first half of the season. Last week’s Hurley episode was a good change of pace and I wasn’t bothered by the lack of plot momentum in that episode because it was nice for a change just to be entertained by Lost.

This brings us to this Sayid focused episode but before we jump into that part I have to say that the Sawyer-Hurley ping pong grudge match was lots of fun and provided a good balance to the heavy content of the rest of the episode.

I have to say that it was good to see Sayid in action both in the current action and in the backstory. For at least a year now he’s been a non-entity so much that I almost forgot that he was still on the show. This week reminded us why we liked him so much in that first season. Great back story that may not be core to the main plot but gives us that great character insight that the show was famous for in its first season or 2.

From the moment they went into the house kicking off the quote “I am the last living member of the Dharma Initiative” I said the only thing that made sense – “cool”. As we find out that he isn’t in fact that but rather an “other” my opinion didn’t change. It still was pretty cool as the show sets us up for the next few episodes, Mission: Rescue Jack.

This brings me to Locke and his incomprehensible focus on computer games (why not play chess) and tendency to blow things up in a very Homer Simsonesque way. I’ve heard two schools of thought on him this past week and I think both have merit. On the one hand there’s the opinion that he’s been acting completely out of character from the “hunter” and “man of faith” we saw in the first season and a half of the show who believed the island cured him. On the other hand this his lack of faith and focus on pushing buttons is consistent with his character since the discovery of the hatch and its computer last season. As you can tell I agree with both in that I wish we still had the Locke I liked but it looks like that character is now dead and this is the fool we are left with. All we can do is hope the castaway’s IT guy keeps him away from computers for the rest of the series.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B+

You’ve got to be kidding me: Lost may go 7 Seasons

January 16, 2007

It’s the TV Critics Association press tour and the team from Lost laid out some of their plans for the show.  The news is good, not so bad, bad and really bad.

Let me start with the good.  Next season the show will likely run uninterrupted starting in January.

Now the “may not be so bad” – they really don’t know how long the show will last but it may end at 5 seasons – which I think is totally reasonable for an end point.

Now the bad news.  It’s more likely the show will last 7 years when the creators’ contracts are up.  That means 4 1/2 more years without resolution which is way beyond the point when I’m going to care anymore.

Now the really bad news.  Here’s the quote from the article:

“It’s time for us to find an endpoint to the show,” said Cuse, speaking Sunday at ABC’s portion of the TV Critics Assn. press tour. “It’s a struggle for us, because we don’t know if we have three years, four years or more to go. If we had an endpoint, then we could figure out where everything goes.”

Read it again.  They don’t have an endpoint in mind and they don’t know “where everything goes”.  So much for thinking they have a master plan.   This isn’t going to stop me from watching this season but if I was skeptical before that this show was going to drag on I’m even more concerned now.

What do you think?  Does this make you more concerned?

Top 10 TV Shows of 2006

January 1, 2007

 It’s been a great TV year.  I’ve spent the last few days making my list, watching the episodes twice all in preparation to give you my top 10 TV shows of 2006.  So without further ado…

1. The Wire – When this show completes its 5 year run after the next season, it will likely be the best show to ever air on television.  This doesn’t mean it will be my favourite – after all it’s not an easy or even particular entertaining show to watch compared to the typical TV fare.  It is, however, the most fascinating, compelling, best acted show ever and this season exceeded even the high bar set by past seasons with its examination of the Baltimore school system, the rise of the next generation corner boys and their leaders and a study of the politics of being mayor.  The thing I find most amazing about this show is its ability to juggle multiple storylines, a cast of 30+ actors – all leads and supporting at the same time – and the way it doesn’t force feed the viewer with simple, pat resolutions to complex situations.  This show is frequently compared to a great book in terms of its pace and complexity but for me The Wire would not be as brilliant in any other medium where the quick cut scenes and the power of the actors transcend any printed page.  I have to give a special shout out to the 4 actors playing Michael, Naymond, Duquan and Randy.  Their performances gave their stories the gravity and heart that made this season one of the best.  It’s going to be a long wait to find out what happens next.

2. The Shield – I’m shocked that I haven’t seen this show on that many best of lists from this year.  In its fifth season, The Shield was at its best, using the unbelievable Forrest Whitaker to paint our Strike Team into a corner from which they did not emerge unscathed.  Bringing to a head all of the storylines from the previous 4 seasons, including the amazing pilot episode, the season concluded with a moment that I saw coming and couldn’t believe was happening at the same time, changing the show forever and setting the groundwork for the new season.  What more could a viewer ask for!

3. The Office – It’s blasphamy to say this in many TV circles but the US version of The Office has now surpassed the original in my books.  I could mention the obvious moment of the past year – the season ending kiss between Jim and Pam which was the best season finale of last year.  I could mention the amazing Steve Carell who brilliantly can be an incompetent buffoon one minute and an effective regional manager who has the loyalty of his staff the next.  I could talk about all of the great episodes from the past year balancing laughs, cringe-worthy moments and emotional scenes simultaneously.  Instead I’m going to focus on what truly has made this show unique from its British counterpart – the amazing work that has been done to make the supporting characters integral parts of the show.  This show would not be as great as it is without Stanley, Kevin, Angela, Creed, Phyllis, Kelly, Oscar, Toby, Roy and new additions Ed Helms and Rashida Jones.  Every week this is my favourite show to watch and I’m sure this won’t change in 2007.

4. Battlestar Galactica – I watched the entire series since the summer and all I have to say is wow!!!  It’s hard not to agree with the mainstream critics who say that this isn’t just great sci-fi but great drama that should appeal to everyone.  2006 saw some brilliant moments for this show including the introduction of Pegasus, the birth of the first Cylon-Human baby and the truly game changing season 2.5 finale which jumped ahead a year in the settlement and Cylon occupation of New Caprica.  I love how the show is able to paint its characters into difficult situations that seem to have no solution and no easy answers, often forcing them to make hard decisions.   Unfortunately this means sometimes the show has to take an easy way out sometimes (Roslin’s cancer, death of Admiral Cain for example).  Still week after week the show is excellent, character driven, action packed TV.

5. Heroes – Although we’re only 11 episodes in, I have high hopes for this show.  As I’ve written before I’m a comic fan so I was somewhat predisposed to either love the show or hate it with nothing in between.  I’m glad it turned out to be the former with great characters, fun mysteries with forward momentum every single week, great villains and cliffhangers galore.  It’s still a little early to know if this show will have the staying power to be great in its 2nd and 3rd seasons but for now I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

6.  Everwood – An unfortunate casualty of the WB-UPN merger (One Tree Hill and 7th Heaven, don’t make me laugh), Everwood was able to wrap up its storylines in a way that not only pleased fans of the show but was consistent with the way we expect the characters we’ve come to love over the show’s 5 seasons to behave.  It also served as an amazing bookend to the first season with Andy talking to his wife, Amy’s grand gesture to win back Ephram, Nina and Andy getting together, Ephram finding his calling in Everwood and the Brown family at peace with their past and future.  Here’s hoping the rest of the series makes its way to DVD very soon.

7.  Friday Night Lights – It’s appropriate that this show follows my previous favourite family drama on this list.  Friday Night Lights has a richness in its stories of the people who make up the Dillon Panthers and the community that worships them, that doesn’t exist on any other show today.  The characters are 3 dimensional with the actors who play them transcending their archetypes of the dumb jock, the arrogant jock, the tough coach, the newbie quarterback and the hot cheerleader.  Like Everwood, this is a show about a town and the families in it.  Jason Street is a definite standout in the cast and I also have to acknowledge the show’s matter of fact integration of religion into its fabric which contrasts with the heavy handed portrayal in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. 

8. The Sopranos – After starting with a bang, the show kind of meandered a bit as it ended the first 1/2 of the 6th season.  Still, The Sopranos remains event television and Edie Falco truly did the work of her career this season as her character finally acknowledged the life she’s led with Tony.  Gandolfini also had amazing moments especially his interactions with AJ.  Those who thought it wasn’t violent enough or moved a little too slow don’t hold much weight with me.  I have high hopes that Chase and company will bring this show to the conclusion it justly deserves.

9. Veronica Mars – I’m not sure if I’m crazy yet about the new format of shorter story arcs but Veronica Mars continues to uniquely mix teenage angst with family drama and film noir each and every week.  Last May’s finale was one of the best edge of your seat episodes ever wrapping up old storylines and showing why the characters on this show have us tuning in. 

10. Lost – I worry about Lost and season 3 to date hasn’t made me feel more confident that the show knows where its going or will be brought to any form of resolution.  However, as long as Abrams, Cuse et al continue to include jaw dropping moments like Michael shooting Ana Lucia and Libby, the destruction of the hatch and the introduction of the Others I can forgive some of the weaker moments and the limited story momentum.  Concept wise I still love the show including the formula that mixes flashbacks with life on the island and I’m glad ABC decided to run it uninterrupted for the duration of the season since the frequent reruns last year didn’t help with momentum issues.  It remains true escapist TV entertainment and I hope the remainder of season 3 is as good as the fantastic back half of season 2.

Honourable Mentions: I’m going to give an honourable mention to Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs and Dexter.  All were great this year but making a list is about drawing lines and this is where drew it.

Has ABC Cancelled Day Break?

December 9, 2006

ABC recently announced that when Lost returns February 7th it will air at 10:00. In the same announcement ABC said that its new comedies The Knights of Prosperity and In Case of Emergency would be premiering January 3rd at 9:00 and 9:30 respectively. That’s the time slot when Day Break currently airs and if you do the math it’s about 4 weeks and 4 episodes before its scheduled to end.

Personally, I’m still a few weeks behind but I hear good things about the show and in an era of serial shows that run without an end in sight it’s good to support serialized shows that have a clear beginning, middle and end.

ABC hasn’t made an official statement that the show has been cancelled but all signs are pointing to yes.  Hopefully the network can find at least some time to air the remaining episodes and give viewers closure.

Lost Has Way too Many Loose Ends – A Top 50 List

November 18, 2006

IGN is posting a list of the top 50 loose ends on Lost.  The fact that they’ve identified 50 top unresolved issues and that there are likely numerous more is one of the things that worries me about Lost.  It’s clear that many of these will never be resolved and I’m not sure I care about them hitting all of them.  I’m more concerned that as the show continues to build they’re going to keep adding more new loose ends than they do tie up old ones.  As I’ve said before, I still like this show a lot and am hopeful that when the show hits the end of its run I will be satisfied with the overall series.  However, I would feel much better if the creators announced that this is a finite show that will end in 2 more years.  It would stop me from worrying the show will drag out mysteries and add new loose ends far longer than it should and instead let me better enjoy the ride.

New York Magazine’s Dead On Advice on “How to Fix Lost”

November 14, 2006

Adam Sternbergh wrote a great article in New York Magazine highlighting how innovative shows that succeed with audiences like Lost are doomed by TV’s business model which forces these shows to stretch their premises out way too long.  He writes:

There is, however, a simple solution: Change the format, or at least reimagine it. When it so-called arc shows, we need something between a mini-series and an open-ended run. We need the TV equivalent of a novella: the limited-run show. Series driven by a central mystery (Twin Peaks, The X-Files) peter out precisely because they have indefinite life spans. The writers are forced to serve up red herrings until the shows choke on their own plot twists.

He’s right.  Rather than use Lost as an example, I want to use Prison Break which I’m watching as I write this.  Talk about a show with a limited life span, the title alone defines the limitation of the show’s central premise.  I’m still watching and generally enjoying the way the story unfolds but I would be much more satisfied if the creators would actually stand up and say it’s a finite show (say 3 years).  The fact that the show could potentially go on forever does affect my interest in sticking around to see the show “choke on its plot twist”.

Here’s a couple of examples of shows that did it right.  Babylon 5 was always intended to be a 5 year story and that’s how long it lasted.  It changed direction as circumstances dictated but it stuck to the basic 5 year plan that its creator had for it.  Sleeper Cell and Wiseguy built their shows around multi-episode arcs which gave the viewers closure if they wanted to stop at any point but definitely didn’t play it safe with their storylines.  I’m sure there are others but I’m stuck on the numerous shows that have done it wrong and disappointed us.  I’m not holding out hope that a chance is imminent but I like Mr. Sternbergh’s thinking.

Lost – Season 3, Episode 6

November 9, 2006

Before I get into my review of this week’s Lost, let me start by saying that I miss Firefly and Serenity kicked ass. Seeing Nathan Fillion tonight and Morena Baccarin on How I Met Your Mother earlier this week how great these characters were. But enough about shows gone by.

I liked this week’s episode but really not much happened. Kate’s back story was interesting with her getting married to a cop but taking off before she settled too much into a new life that could end at any time. We also saw Kate finally make her choice, choosing Sawyer over Jack, with Jack finding out in a pretty unfortunate way. This manipulates him into agreeing to perform surgery on Ben to get off the island. This sets up the cliffhanger where Jack gives Kate (and Sawyer???) time to run or Ben dies. That’s it, unfortunately. I’m not complaining about not getting any answers to the larger mysteries of the show. However, the narrative is just getting reduced every week and I think the audience needs some forward motion to stay interested.

There have been a bunch of articles this week slamming Lost for going on hiatus for 13 weeks. Personally, I think it’s a great move. Last season’s schedule with episodes spread out infrequently over a 9 month period really interrupted the flow and momentum of the show. It made me understand why people would rather wait for the DVD. Having the show air every week was better for 24 and it will be better for Lost too.

Now all they have to do is turn it back up to 11 between now and February 7th and I’ll be back. Reading this interview today with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse makes me hopeful that the show will fix some of the things that have been broken so far this season.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B

Lost Season 3, Episode 5 – TV Review

November 3, 2006

It’s hard to express the increasing level of disappointment I feel with this show which once was my favourite on the air.   As a baseline I need to admit that I hold this show to a higher standard than  shows that I consider pure fluff, say The OC or Boston Legal.  Last night’s Lost episode fell far short of that standard.

If you haven’t seen the episode, stop reading now because I’m going to feature spoilers.

So, they killed off one of my favourite characters on the show, Mr. Eko or Adibizi as I still call him.  For those of you keeping track, outside of Bernard, all the castaways from the tail are now dead.  A year ago when they introduced the characters I liked the concept and thought it had all kinds of possibilities.  Now they’re all dead, they had no impact on the core story, they had almost no impact on the other characters and bottom line – the writers have just wasted time that would have been better spent developing the core story.  I’m not sure if this is the reality for a successful show that needs to drag out its premise to last a few extra seasons or not but I’m frustrated by this turn of events.  The death was not shocking but seemed a little too matter of course for this show.  I would rather have had them keep Eko, Libby and maybe even Ana Lucia than to add 2 new no-name characters who appeared out of nowhere as if we’ve known them all along.  I defended the show last season to those who thought it slowed down but with these deaths most of last season’s developments have been erased from the show.

If Lost was a soap opera that had multiple episodes a week rather than 24 a year there would be room for greater character development and an extended story.  But it’s not!  The show needs to stop meandering and start showing some cards.  I’m not someone who needs it all revealed but more focus would be good.

On the other hand I did like the Jack story.  So Ben needs surgery and Juliet wants Jack to kill him on the table.  How much do you want to bet that Juliet is really the bad guy of the story?  I don’t need the answer next week but I need the “fall finale” to start to bring us some focus on the main plot and at least a few answers.  It’s not the end of my love affair with the show but the honeymoon is definitely over.

Avi’s Episode Review: B-