Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oh, Look... It's My Favourite TV Reviewer Again...
Ah yes. Robert Cushman of the National Post is at it again. Reviewing television as if he actually knew anything about it (thanks for the link, K!) I mentioned him a few weeks ago when he reviewed The Wire and referred to it as a show where the plot overshadows the character development, meaning we don't really care about the characters. Anyone who knows The Wire AT ALL knows that's akin to saying, "The Simpsons is a great show, but if it were animated they'd be able to do SO much more with it!" Cushman is the Post's theatre critic, and occasionally he descends from on high, leaving his grey poupon behind, to dabble with the unwashed masses of television viewers and our mediocre entertainment.

In today's column, he bitches about Lost, which he pretentiously refers to as "decadent." He calls Naomi a "chick," then mentions offhandedly that he used to say "bird," in his old British days... Thanks, dude. Thank you for establishing at the beginning of your column that you're British, and therefore seemingly above all this American claptrap. Cushman states unequivocally, "I don't like Lost." His column should end there, but it doesn't. Check out some of these awesome statements:

[The flashforward is] meant, obviously, to add depth to [Jack's] character. But it doesn't work, just as the flashbacks don't work for him or any of the others. In their marooned state, the characters are as miserable a bunch as have ever threatened to go into indefinite syndication, but at least they have some action to sustain them. In their previous lives, they sit around feeling sorry for themselves. And they do it in the same glossy, airless television-land inhabited by the characters of all television soaps with aspirations to seriousness.

Huh? I'm sorry... is he watching the same show I am? Apparently someone lent him a couple of episodes and he watched them disconnected from the rest of the series, unaware of the real depths of these flashbacks.

Another gem:

Well, all right, there are some people I like. I cheered when Hugo a.k.a.
Hurley, the fat fellow whose help is spurned by the tough guys, came to their
rescue by driving his van right through the ranks of the opposition.

I'm sorry... "the fat fellow"?? Nice. His help was not spurned by the "tough guys," by the way: Charlie knew he was going to die and wanted to spare Hurley seeing it, and Sawyer didn't want Hurley to get hurt, so he talked him out of following him. But you'd have to understand what subtlety is to understand that.

Then there's Desmond, the ex-monk who was also a designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company. You have to love the details; I suspect that one was dreamed up by some studio-bound American scribe with fantasies about the British classical theatre. (I've met some RSC designers, and none of them struck me as possible action-heroes. Still, you never know till you're tested.) Desmond has also read all of Dickens except Our Mutual Friend: Shame he missed that one, it's almost the best, but at least he has something to look forward to.

Ha! The "detail" was dreamed up because Henry Ian Cusick used to be in the RSC. You can just hear the feigned British accent saying, "Ah! Look at the funny little people pretending to know something about thee-ah-tah." Oh, and I've read Our Mutual Friend, along with a lot of Dickens' works... it is NOT the best one. Only a pretentious wank who knows most of the human race has not read that book would suggest that, just to say HE has read it.

You can read the entire column here, where he says it'll probably turn out to all be a dream, and calls up The Prisoner as one of the inspirations for the show as if he's the first person to have come up with it. I think Mr. Cushman should stick to writing about theatre, where subtlety usually isn't its strong suit, and most of life's problems can be solved through a song.
Me in the Media, Parti Deux
Today's the big Lost media frenzy, so many of the print interviews I did have run today. I was interviewed by Newsday, and it was picked up by 8 other news outlets so far. I'll give you the link to the Baltimore Sun one, just because it's the paper that's featured in The Wire, and I'm just excited to be only one degree of separation from the show now. :)

I was also interviewed for the London Free Press. And I made a joke about Peter Mansbridge, not knowing it would be printed. Had I known, I would have said Stephen Harper instead, for THAT would be pure evil.

Here's an article about speculations spawned by the season 3 finale.
Lost: Where We’re At
It’s been eight very long months, almost as long as a pregnancy, and we’ve been on the edges of our seats ever since the show ended. The season 3 finale was fantastic (you can read a 20-page analysis of it in my book... I had lots to say), and ended with such a “WHA?!” moment, jaws collectively dropped throughout the Lostverse. So... where are we at? OK, I could be here all day typing up again where we’re at, so instead I’ll just do some point forms, and if you watched the episode, you’ll remember what happened. If you didn’t watch it, you should check out season 3 before attempting season 4 (and watch seasons 1 and 2 before 3 if you didn’t... this show is REALLY complicated).

The characters have divided into 5 camps right now:
Jack, Kate, and most of them are at Rousseau’s tower to turn off the signal she’s been broadcasting for 16 years. Rousseau and her daughter Alex have just been reunited, and Daddy Ben has had the snot beaten out of him. Naomi’s been killed by Locke, and Jack has grabbed the sat phone to complete the rescue call, which they’ve been told has been sent from Penny Widmore, Desmond’s girlfriend. Ben is yelling that if he completes that call, it will be the beginning of the end, but Jack stubbornly makes it, and gets a response that help is on its way. The survivors are over the moon, thinking they’re about to be rescued.
Season 4 prediction: They won’t be rescued right away, and things are probably about to go all Lord of the Flies. The premiere is called “The Beginning of the End,” suggesting that Ben was right. However, given the nature of the flashforward – showing that in April 2007 Jack and Kate will have been rescued and Jack will want to return to the island – we know there WILL be a rescue, it’s just a matter of when.

Sayid, Bernard, Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, and Hurley are all on the beach right now. The first three were left behind to ambush the Others who were coming to kidnap the women, but considering they had the combined military experience of, well, SAYID, it didn’t go as planned. Juliet and Sawyer had doubled back to find out how things were going. But just as they were lined up by the Others to be killed, Hurley appeared in the VW van, mowing down one of them, while the others helped kill the rest, including Sawyer shooting Tom point blank.
Season 4 prediction: They’ll continue to be separated from the rest of the survivors, but could be a big help by being separated.

Desmond and Charlie are in the underground hatch to stop the jamming frequency. Mikhail set off a grenade in the room Charlie was in, causing it to implode and Charlie drowned, but right before he died he received a transmission from Penny, who knew nothing of the impending rescue mission. He wrote “Not Penny’s Boat” on his hand, giving Desmond a new mission.
Season 4 prediction: Desmond will have to make his way to the beach to let the gang know that it’s not Penny’s boat, and then the whole gang will have to try to get to the rest to let them know, but it’ll be too late. Desmond’s fortune-telling will probably come in handy.

Locke has broken away from the rest of the group, and is on a spiritual journey at this point. He’s been shot in the gut by Ben, who left him for dead, but prompted by a vision of Walt, he’s risen from the grave and shown up to Rousseau’s tower just in time to throw a knife into Naomi’s back, warn Jack about picking up the phone, hold a gun to Jack’s head, and then lumber back into the jungle. When Ben sees Locke come out of the jungle in the first place, his jaw drops. He never thought Locke would rise up, and now probably sees him as some sort of Messiah, which he’d heretofore thought was his position.
Season 4 prediction: Locke will find out more about Jacob, that mysterious invisible man in the woods, and might join forces with Ben somehow, with Ben being his inferior.

The rest of the Others are in the jungle on their way to some old ruins, which is where Ben’s sent them. Their numbers are depleted, with Mikhail, Greta, Bonnie, Tom, Ivan, Diane, Juliet, Karl, Alex, Danny, Jason, and two others gone, and they’re currently being led by Richard Alpert. Problem is, Nestor Carbonell, who plays Richard, left the show for NBC’s Cane, which prevented him from appearing on Lost, word has it. So it’s not clear how they’ll be led, or what will happen to Richard’s character.
Season 4 Prediction: The old ruins will include the four-toed statue, and we’ll FINALLY find out something more about that.

This season will also include several flashforwards as well as flashbacks, so the time spectrum will be even wider. I’m looking forward to guessing if we’re in the past, present, or future with each episode. It’s going to be a wild ride! See y’all tomorrow to discuss.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Lost Recaps Have a New Home!

Say hello to Wizard Universe's new Lost columnist! I've been working out a deal with the site where I'll be writing my usual Lost recap and analysis, but rather than posting it here, I'll be posting it over on their site. The recap will appear on their site Fridays at noon. I'll provide a link from my blog over to theirs, and you can post your comments here and we can discuss the episode as always. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you follow me every Friday over to their site to read what I have to say. And, as with last season, I look forward to hearing what you have to say, too. :)

Tomorrow I'll be post a quick summary of the end of season 3, as a bit of a guide as to where we are in the show and what we can expect in season 4.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Friday Night Lights: January Episodes
If you're not watching Friday Night Lights yet, I urge you to start. The writer's strike is turning the television schedule into mush, season 1 of FNL is out on DVD... it's the perfect time to pick up the show. And despite what some people said at the outset of the season, season 2 is brilliant. I LOVE this show. It's one of those shows where, whenever it ends, I drop my head and yell, "NOOOO!" I wish each episode were 3 hours long.

Poor Tim Riggins. The show's hottie has been through hell and back this season. A couple of weeks ago he was living at Coach's house (much to the delight of Tami's sister) and when he accompanied Julie to a party and got her away from a leering teenager and carried her home, putting her drunken body to bed so her parents might not find out, he was caught by Coach, who immediately assumed the worst, and forced him out of the house, to a barrage of insults. When Eric realized what had really happened, it took every ounce of strength he had to go to the Riggins house and apologize, and he had to swallow a hell of a lot of pride to do it (if anyone could, it's the coach). Then Riggins realized that he loved Lyla and showed up at the Christian radio station, only to see her snogging her co-host. My heart went out to him. And then, this week, he finally invites her over and declares his love for her. Rather than let him down gently, she storms out, tells him she doesn't love him and that he needs to move on. As Bart said on an episode of The Simpsons, if you slow the scene right down, you can actually see the moment where his heart breaks. Uh, Lyla? Do you reallly consider THAT to be Christian behaviour? The sad thing about Tim is, he's hot as hell, but he's a disaster. Anyone who would be with him also has to be with all of his problems. And they are many. Poor Tim. I just want him to be happy. Hmm.... Julie maybe? ;)

In last week's episode, Tami had to put Gracie into daycare. The baby must be three months old, if that. It was one of the hardest things I've watched on television. I seriously felt like something heavy was sitting on my chest. I don't know how you American women do it, with 6 weeks' maternity leave, but my heart goes out to all of you. In Canada, we get a year, and they're currently reviewing the option, considering an extension to 18 months (of course, women can choose not to take the full year). Part of me really wanted Tami to decide not to keep her job, but that wouldn't be like her. This week, she began coaching the women's volleyball team (the scene where Tyra learns to spike the ball by picturing it as Tim Riggins' head was pretty funny) and it would appear Julie's getting a little jealous. This will probably blow up by next week.

In the past few weeks I've gained a new respect for Buddy. Sure, he was a sleazebag to his wife, and for that he'll always remain kinda scuzzy, but I think he has a big heart. He's been amazing to Santiago. I loved last week when he thought of removing his prized possessions, then thought better of it, and when he saw a bruised a bloody Santiago and knew the watch was missing, all he cared about was Santiago, not that gold watch. This week he hires Jason, and Jason finds out what it's like when the rest of the staff looks at you like some charity case. He was great selling that car to the looky-loo, and Buddy's face when Jason announces he has a buyer was priceless.

Landry's met a new gal this week, and I LOVE her. She's cute, hip, and when she had the nerve to just walk up to him surrounded by his fellow footballers (by the way, does anyone REALLY buy that he would have made it onto the football team? I liked him better as a mathlete) and hand him a mixed CD and then cheerfully walk away. Tyra's giving him some 'tude, but she's the one who dumped HIM, so she's not really in a position to do so.

Smash is in trouble because he sneaked out of Momma's house last week and met Noelle at a movie theatre while pretending to take his little sister to the film. By sticking his sister in a row where she could be heckled by a group of redneck jocks, he ended up punching one of them before ushering the women out and racing back home, and now he lives with the guilt of what he put his sister through. Now that Momma knows (as I've said before, I LOVE Momma), she ain't happy, and she's going to do what she can to ensure that Smash doesn't screw up his future as a football player. Unfortunately, the school feels differently, and after Smash shoots his mouth off because he can no longer stand to be painted as the bad guy in this scenario, he's forced to sit out the rest of the season. I'm thinking the Dillon Panthers won't be going to State this year.

Someone emailed me a couple of weeks asking me if I could comment on Christianity and the church being portrayed on television, but she needed my comment immediately, and I didn't check my email until it was too late. But if I'd checked it in time, I would have talked about Friday Night Lights. I love that this show inserts the church in there, without any judgement or comment. It's just there. We saw Gracie getting baptized. But even bigger, we see Lyla in an evangelist born again setting, and it doesn't matter if you think the emergence of this particular sect is a positive direction for society, especially young people, or if you ultimately think it's a negative thing that creates judgmentalism and intolerance.... you can simply watch the scenes, and know that it's important to Lyla, and that's all that matters. The other characters don't say much of anything about it, and it's just there. It's the little things like this that make the show worth watching.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hmm... Spangel??
TVGuide Online has a cool interview with James Marsters, talking about his oversexed character on Torchwood who has a "thing" with Captain Jack. Makes the mind wander to Buffy...

In the interview he talks about the relationship between Willow and Tara on Buffy (sniffle), what he loved about the show, his music, and... his son. Yep. It's Part 1, so there will be more to come soon.

And continuing in my Buffy blogging today, here's an interview with Julie Benz. She talks about her new role in Rambo XXVI, Rita on Dexter, and (yay!) her fave moments as Darla!!
Am I Dreaming?!
Zap2it has just posted a story announcing a live Buffy Reunion!! Yep, you read that right. The Paley Center for the Arts (better known as the Museum of Television & Radio... maybe they thought that nasty "museum" word wasn't sexy enough) is announcing its annual televison extravaganza, and among the events is listed a live reunion of the cast of Buffy. Which begs the obvious question: Will Sarah actually show?!

The press release for PaleyFest08 states:

The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) today announced details of five more events scheduled for the twenty-fifth annual William S. Paley Television Festival (PaleyFest08). They are: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reunion, Chuck, Dancing with the Stars, Dirty Sexy Money, and Mad Men. Four other Festival events were announced previously: An Evening with Judd Apatow; Gossip Girl; Pushing Daisies; and a Fortieth Anniversary Salute to Elvis Presley’s’68 Comeback Special with Priscilla Presley. The complete Festival schedule with confirmed panelists and additional details will be announced on Monday, February 4, 2008.

Hmm... I'm not sure if this post will publish properly, since my crazy fangirl drool just shorted out my laptop. Man... if I didn't have a newborn with me, I'd be there. If I had to construct my fantasy TV weekend, it would pretty much read what I just typed above (if only the cast of Lost were there, it would be complete). Would someone out there graciously offer to go and film the ENTIRE thing and then let me live vicariously through them??

Tickets go on sale February 4. You can read the rest of the press release here.
Lost (and Me!) in the Media
The Globe and Mail ran a feature on Lost in today's paper, and writer Andrew Ryan interviewed me for it. You can read it here, or pick up a print copy, because the cast picture runs off the front of the arts section, and it's super cool.

I'm going to be on HypaSpace, which airs on Space this Saturday at 5:30pm in Canada, and repeats again on Sunday at 4:30.

If you live in Vancouver, I'll be interviewed live on CFun on Wednesday the 30th at 1pm, and if you live in Montreal, I'll be on CJAD on the 31st at 7:40am. I've done a bunch of interviews over the past week, and those articles will probably be running closer to the show's premiere.

By the way, there's been some question about whether the premiere is one or two hours. It's one, much to my chagrin. ABC and CTV will be airing a clip show from 8-9pm that promises to reveal some clues (read: IT WON'T REVEAL ANYTHING; THE CLIP SHOWS NEVER DO), and the premiere will run from 9-10pm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Or... Maybe Not
My brother (pictured at left) just sent me an email with the rest of the Lost season 4 titles that have been announced. I can't say for sure whether or not they're correct, but they certainly sound legit. ;)

4.8 GILLIGAN?!?!
4.9 More Questions, No Answers
4.10 No Writers, No Answers, No Problems!
4.11 CloverISLAND?!
4.12 The Return of the King

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lost Mobisode 4: The Deal
The previous 3 episodes have had the feeling of possibly being deleted scenes, filmed at the same time as earlier episodes and just being shown now. This episode proves they weren't, since it involves Michael, who leaves at the end of season 2, and Juliet, who doesn't appear until the beginning of season 3.

The episode takes place after the events of the flashback in "Three Minutes," after Michael has just seen Walt, and before he returns to the camp at the end of "S.O.S." Juliet comes into the hut where Michael is being held, and she tells him that the boat he demanded is his. She says she's seen Walt, and that he's special, that he's not an ordinary boy. Then, like Ben at the end of season 2, she says to Michael that she's not his enemy. She tells him that the man he has to rescue from the hatch is named Ben, and that he will help him get off the island. She also says that she's made a deal with him, too, and he saved her sister's life, which is why she's still here. Michael asks why it would matter, why worry about saving her sister's life when she's had to stay on the island? Juliet asks, "Wouldn't you do anything to save Walt's life?" She reminds him of his list of names, and gets up to leave.

I liked this one, but the dialogue at the very end seemed a little odd. Of course Michael would do anything to save Walt, and he's gone half-crazy throughout season 2 to do so, so why would he react to Juliet's story about her sister by asking why she'd care about saving a sister she'll never see? It's an odd line in an otherwise nice little webisode.
Lost Mobisode 3: King of the Castle
One of the best of the mobisodes, this one makes a direct reference to the season 3 finale. Ben and Jack are playing chess while Jack is being held at the compound. Ben says it would be nice if Jack would stay at the island, then laughs and says he fully intends to honour their deal for Jack to leave. Jack looks up and says "intend to, or will?" Ben explains that maybe the island will try to keep him here. Jack counters by asking if the island will sink the sub (an ironic question, considering what Locke does in The Man from Tallahassee). Ben laughs, then says ominously that if Jack gets away from the island, there may come a day when he wants to return. (A collective "oooooh" rises up from the sea of fans watching it.) Jack says that will never happen, and Ben says he's learned to never say never. He says that should that day come, he hopes Jack remembers this conversation. He then takes Jack's king with his castle.

If this weren't a mobisode, I would have thought this was a pivotal moment in the series, but as such, it's probably just a juicy little tidbit for us to savour. We know that Jack will leave the island, and he will want to return... will he remember the conversation he had with Ben? The episode appears to fall somewhere in the Enter 77/Par Avion/The Man from Tallahassee section of season 3, after Jack has healed Ben and they've struck their deal, but before Kate and company have shown up to "rescue" him. I loved this one, but then again, it's hard not to love any scene with Michael Emerson in it.
Lost Mobisode 2: Hurley and Frogurt
This is an amusing episode that seems to take place in "Two for the Road," when Hurley returns to camp to grab some things so he and Libby can have their ill-fated picnic. As he comes out of Rose and Bernard's tent with a bottle of wine, he's stopped by "Frogurt," as Hurley calls him (who corrects him that his name is Neil), who asks him where he's going. When Hurley tells him he's meeting up with Libby, Neil tells him that he'll never get past doing his laundry with her, and maybe he should step aside and let a "real man" cuddle up to her. Hurley tells him with some amusement that actually, he's moved way beyond doing laundry. Neil tells him that's "well played," but if he can't "close the deal," it'll be Neil time. Sadly, we know no one will be closing any deal with Libby.

In "S.O.S.," Bernard mentions someone who used to run a frozen yogurt place had been helping him with the sign, but gave up pretty quickly (we never actually see him in the episode). Since Hurley refers to him as "Frogurt," it's probably safe to say this is the guy, especially since they're talking outside of Bernard's tent.
Lost Mobisode 1: The Watch
I've had several people ask me to post on the Lost mobisodes, which are available for viewing at, so I decided to do it the week before the season 4 premiere.

The first episode, "The Watch," is a conversation between Jack and his father Christian, the day of Jack's wedding. The mobisode would take place during the episode "Do No Harm," which features the flashback of Jack marrying Sarah. Since Christian arrives at the hotel in that flashback the night before Jack's wedding, this would appear to be the following morning. In that episode, Jack had a poolside chat with Christian where he expressed his doubts about his impending marriage, and Christian told him to follow his heart.

In the mobisode, Christian comes over to talk to Jack, who is throwing rocks into the water. He gives him a gold watch that had been given to him by his father (I was kinda hoping he'd say that his father had kept it up his ass while being in the army, but that was probably too Tarantinoesque for these little webisodes). Jack says he's never seen Christian wearing it, and Christian says that's because when his father gave it to him, he accompanied it by saying he was making a mistake in marrying his wife, Jack's mom. But in this case, he reassures Jack that he's making the absolute right decision (which turns out to be wrong). Jack slips the watch onto his wrist, and then Christian tells him that if he ever has a kid, to treat him better than Christian ever treated Jack.

Christian's gift of a watch is an interesting one, since one of the show's major motifs is time, and there's a lot of speculation in the fan community that there is time travel involved, and that the characters are existing on more than one time plane at the same time.

It's an intriguing moment to share with viewers, since it almost comes across as more of a dream sequence than a reality. Christian and Jack never really had any touchy-feely moments, which is why Jack seems to lost all the time, and continues searching for his father, even though he's dead (or seemingly dead, depending on which fan you talk to). All of this, of course, precedes Jack accusing his father of sleeping with Sarah, of Jack turning his dad in to the board of directors at the hospital, and of Christian drinking himself to death. Ah, good times.
Heath Ledger Found Dead
I don't usually post on stuff like this, but I was absolutely shocked to hear that minutes ago, the NYT has posted an article that Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment a few hours ago. It appears to be a suicide, but there's no real information. I won't make any speculations here, but this is really sad news. Read the brief bulletin here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Writers Strike
UH has made a post at their blog about a possible deal upcoming in the writer's strike. Interestingly, Joss Whedon has responded in a comment below, telling people not to jump too quickly into thinking it's the end, and to let the studios know they are still willing to remain on strike. He writes it in the way only he can (this has been confirmed as a post by Joss Whedon, and not just someone signing his name).

The best appeal on behalf of the writers that I've read yet was in this morning's Globe and Mail, by Joanna Schneller. In it she argues that writers should be given their due -- which is at the top of the food chain in Hollywood. "A tremendous number of people make their livings off the backs of writers," she writes. "Go to the taping of any TV sitcom, and 10 network suits are lined up, monitoring the laughs they didn't write. Meet a star for an interview in a restaurant, but first greet her phalanx of publicists and agents - none of whom would have anything to do had someone not written the movie she's in. Attend an awards show, and try to count the number of people employed - from caterers, red-carpet manufacturers and makeup artists to limo drivers and cleaning staff - because someone wrote a good movie or TV series, and someone else wrote copy to honour it. Then try to estimate their salaries: The New York Times figured that the revenue lost by the cancellation of the Golden Globes alone - one awards show, one time - was $80-million (U.S.). That's real money, even in L.A."

Schneller is correct; from the beginning, writers have been the butt of Hollywood jokes, and earlier this week, NBC entertainment co-chairman made a hideous comment about the writers when the Golden Globe awards were cancelled, saying, "Sadly, it feels like the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom. But NBC wants to try to keep that prom alive."

No, I didn't make that quote up. He actually said that.

When the Globes were cancelled, I remember looking at some online forums and seeing comments directed at the writers by viewers, saying, essentially, "HOW DARE YOU?!" They called the writers greedy, whiny, losers, assholes... you name it. A few quiet voices rang through on the forums, piping up to type, "Um... but don't you think what the writers are asking for is fair?" only to be shot down again by the boobs who were all upset that their widdle awards show was cancelled. Boo. Hoo.

Hollywood has come to a standstill. Doesn't this highlight for the studios just how important these writers are? At this point, the writers are holding their ground, and the studios are furiously holding theirs. When a deal is reached, whenever that may be, the blood between these two won't be bad -- it'll be festering. It'll take years for that relationship to build back up again.

I started watching The Daily Show again this week, and it's appalling. It's had its moments, but the whole show appears to be one big ad lib by Jon Stewart, and some of it is TERRIBLE. On Wednesday night he actually looked around at the non-laughing audience and said, "Sometimes it feels incredibly alone up here... at home, you're looking at a guy getting no laughs, while I'm staring into a sea of faces who are just staring right back at me. Not laughing." Uh huh. Too bad those hacks out on the picket lines weren't valued enough by the studios. On another night, he and John Oliver did an extended ad lib just showing old clips of Stewart in bad hair and worse suits, and it was clearly something sprung on Stewart. The two of them sat there giggling their arses off, and it was funny for a bit, and after a while you just wished the biting humour was back.

As Joanna Schneller says in her column this morning, "The writers are asking for the equivalent of a freaking cup of coffee. Give them this fraction of their due."


Friday, January 18, 2008

Lost Returns January 31
In a two-hour premiere (yes, folks, TWO HOURS!) on January 31st, Lost will finally be returning to the airwaves. Unfortunately, it looks like it'll only be for 8 episodes, and then it'll be gone again, but we can keep our fingers crossed that ABC will figure out a way to slot in the other 8 episodes some time before 2009.

In the season 3 finale, Jack picked up Naomi's sat phone and began making the call to the ship, and Ben, tied to a tree, shouted, "If you make that phone call, it'll be the beginning of the end."

So, appropriately, the premiere is titled, "The Beginning of The End." Could this mean Ben was right?

Tentatively, here are the titles of the first seven episodes (stop reading now if you consider ep titles to be spoilers):

4.1 The Beginning of the End
4.2 Confirmed Dead
4.3 The Economist
4.4 Eggtown
4.5 The Constant
4.6 The Other Woman
4.7 Ji Yeon

I haven't seen any titles beyond these, but I'm sure the eighth will be available soon... and the others will be proven wrong. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why Janes Writes
As part of the ongoing "Why We Write" series (I linked to Damon's essay the other day), today's installment comes from Jane Espenson, former writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and current writer on Battlestar Galactica.

I had a lot of Barbie dolls when I was a kid. Close to a dozen, I think. I remember that I loved them, but looking back, I’m not sure why. I knew at the time, vaguely, that I was supposed to make up stories and act them out with the dolls, and I actually remember trying to do that, and failing. The problem was that I didn’t know these girls. I didn’t know their backgrounds, their quirks, what distinguished one from the other. I didn’t get the premise of how eleven identical ludicrously-shaped teenagers had met. But most of all, I didn’t know their voices.
Without that, I was uninspired.

The dolls I REALLY played with were the characters from M*A*S*H and Welcome Back Kotter and Barney Miller and The Odd Couple and The Love Boat and Starsky and Hutch. I would fall asleep making up stories for those shows in my head. But I was a brutal audience. I couldn’t enjoy the made-up stories if I couldn’t make myself believe them. And I couldn’t believe them if the voices weren’t right.

For the rest of her essay, go here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bite Me Mention!
TVSquad has listed my new Buffy book as one of the things to spend your holiday money on. Thanks to everyone who sent me the link! :) (And if you want to follow their advice, go here. Yes, I'm shameless.)

In other news, a lot of people have noted that when the Lost commercials air on ABC, and it goes to that last part with the title logo and the palm trees, if you look closely you can see a city skyline reflected in the water, not the trees, which is definitely a nod to the flashforward idea that was introduced at the end of last season. The new season poster has a very clear look at that skyline in the water, which you can see here (thanks to DarkUFO's site):

Ah Desmond. You are so far away in that picture, yet my heart goes a-flutter.

And you know, I just have to say this. One of the biggest personal losses of the writer's strike was that my baby couldn't be on Lost. You may remember me posting back in August that Lost was looking for male babies to play Aaron. They were looking for babies with round faces, between 8 and 15 pounds, presumably easygoing. Mine is now 13.5 pounds, has a perfect moon face, and is the most laid-back baby you could imagine. Damn you, studios, for not letting the writers get back to work so they could write MY child into the part. Could you imagine the stories I would have had for you then?! Sigh. They would have TOTALLY taken him.

Yeah, I'm kinda living in my own world today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The First Three Seasons of Lost
In 8 Minutes, 15 Seconds

Someone's taken a lot of time to put this together, but it's pretty hilarious. If you want a quick catch-up on where we're at as Season 4 of Lost looms (January 31), check out the video below, where you can watch the fastest recap of the first three seasons of Lost you're gonna find. This isn't for people who've never watched the show, obviously (I mean, they don't even mention the deaths of Ana Lucia, Libby, or Mr Eko), but it's a fun rehash of things for us, complete with a completely monotone, deadpan delivery. My favourite part is what she says about Jack and Mr. Friendly playing football. Go here if the video below doesn't work.

Why Damon Writes
Sorry it's been a few days since I posted. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many comments I got to my John Hughes post; it's great to see he affects so many of us, 20 years after those movies came out. And why do his movies affect us? Because of the writing. (Ok, and the music, and the acting, blah blah blah... but mostly the writing.)

In the midst of the ongoing writer's strike, several sites are popping up to give the writers a voice. They're not allowed to write for TV or film, but they can write to us. As part of an ongoing "Why We Write" series, Damon Lindelof has stepped up to explain why HE writes. And, no surprise here, it's brill:

I was listening to the news on NPR the other day and two things occurred to me. First, only assholes feel the constant need to tell you they listen to NPR (does anyone ever say, “So I was watching the CW last night…”?) and I guess that makes me an asshole. The second was that in the midst of listening to the story in question, I had finally figured out how to succinctly sum up why I write. It goes a little something like this --There’s this ninety-year old woman named Rose who, after honking her horn repeatedly at the school bus idling in front of her, decides she has much more important things to do and guns her Honda Civic around the bus. Before she realizes that the bus was stopped for a very good reason indeed, Rose finds herself watching a freight train bear down on her and almost instantly, it smashes into the passenger side of the Civic and pushes it a good hundred feet before screeching to a stop. Forgoing all the gory details, Rose is pronounced dead at the local hospital and the attending doctor in the ER is tasked with notifying next of kin. Turns out Rose’s husband has been dead for decades, but she has a couple sons and a daughter. The doctor calls one of her sons and his wife answers the phone. The son isn’t home, but the wife offers to take a message. The notification ethics, however, forbid the hospital from telling anyone but next of kin about Rose’s death and so they ask when the son will be home so they can call back.And the wife responds “He won’t be back for two months.” And the hospital says, “Well… do you have a number where we could reach him?” And the wife says no, she doesn’t. And why not?–

If you want to find out why not, click here to read the rest. This little missive is just another example of why the studios are a bunch of morons who don't see the talent that's most important to them, because they're too busy giving all their money to the onscreen talent. The writer's strike is going on, and the latest word in the pipeline is, if it doesn't end by January 31 (the date of Lost's season 4 premiere) then ABC will run season 4 as 8 episodes only, and they won't be giving Bad Robot those other 8 episodes. Which means just when Damon and Carlton knew they had 48 episodes left, and filmed the first 8 thinking there would be 40 more to follow, now they only have 32 to finish the story. So some storylines are going to have to be dropped to accomodate it. Yikes.

Update: Oops, since writing that post I've gotten a few emails from people asking if I knew for sure that 8 episodes have been dropped, and I just wanted to clarify that's just me speculating (as well as getting a bunch of emails over the past week from people saying the same thing, but they also didn't give me anything to back it up). I'm suggesting they could drop the 8 episodes for a couple of reasons: 1, if the network has assigned 16 episodes per season, and has scheduled Lost to begin each January/February and run until May, then they would have been working on other shows covering that fall slot, so they'd have to do some shuffling in order to give Darlton 24 episodes in season 5. Secondly, if you think of the logistics of it from the writerly angle, each season follows a certain arc, and presumably Darlton have sat down and worked out the basics of what the next 3 seasons will be, and they've broken it down in arcs. The first 3 seasons all had themes specific to that season, and if you imagine taking the last 10 episodes of season 1 and tacking them onto the beginning of season 2, it wouldn't have worked.

So that's just me speculating, and not saying anything definitive. Sorry if I misled.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Book Review: Don't You Forget About Me
If you were born in the 70s, and became a teenager in the 80s, then you're a fan of John Hughes teen films. End of story. (Or, if you happen to be a big sister to a little sister born in the 80s, you perhaps introduced her to the John Hughes oeuvre, as my best friend S. did.) There's just something about these movies that instantly transports us back to the pain, ache, and joy of high school. It's like watching an early season of Buffy.

Now, I'm referring to the main trilogy here: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. We could also discuss Weird Science (briefly), Some Kind of Wonderful, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but it's the Molly Ringwald entries that truly count.

So when my pal F. suggested that I should read this collection of essays by writers writing about the passion these movies stir within them, I couldn't resist. She lent me her copy, and it's one of the best reads I had all year.

Interestingly, The Breakfast Club -- John Hughes' masterpiece -- isn't actually talked about all that much. There seems to be far more to say about Ferris Bueller and Sixteen Candles. However, considering I've seen both of those movies about a dozen times each, since TBS plays them constantly, I didn't mind. There's an essay about why Cameron in Ferris Bueller is the greatest supporting character ever ("When Cameron was in Egypt's Land.... Let my Cameron gooooooo") and another about why he's the whiniest, most annoying character in the Hughes canon. There is a ton of ink spilled in the name of Molly Ringwald -- whether we liked her as the rich girl, the poor girl, or the forgotten girl... whether we were in love with her... whether we WERE her -- and those essays range from the hilarious to the vaguely disturbing, but they're always entertaining. There's an essay about how Hughes portrays the outcast "best buddy" as a homosexual who somehow longs for the opposite sex. Mary Stuart Masterson is pretty butch in Some Kind of Wonderful, while Duckie is pretty obviously gay in Pretty in Pink. And Cameron's just kind of asexual.

As I read through these, I kept thinking that Pretty in Pink was a movie that never resonated with me much, and it turns out most of the writers think of it in a negative fashion as well (it probably has something to do with the fact that Hughes wrote it, but didn't direct it). At least four of the writers mention that the movie was supposed to end with Andie ending up with Duckie, and when they showed that ending to audiences, they hated it, wanting her to end up with Blaine instead. So... the ending was reshot, with her ending up with the richie, and some pretty girl making eyes at Duckie, which was supposed to make us think all was well with the world. I'm pretty sure that's why that movie disturbed me. (Or it could have been that James Spader's character is SO loathsome, yet so hot, causing some major confusion when I was watching it.)

If you're a fan of these films, definitely check out this book, edited by Jaime Clarke. And thanks, F., for lending it to me!
Lost Article in Wizard Magazine
I was interviewed back in November by Wizard Magazine for a preview of season 4 of Lost, and the article is out now. You can read it online here. I feel bad for the poor writer. He'd ask a question and I'd blather on for 5 minutes answering it, and then he had to pull two sentences out of that. There's just so much to say!!

Also, I got the EW issue yesterday with Matthew Fox on the cover, and EW has posted the interview here. His comment on Nikki and Paulo made me laugh out loud. Thank you, Jack! :)

I'm also happy to say that Doc Jensen has returned, and he's got a new article making his wild speculations about season 4.

In completely unrelated news, the Golden Globes have been cancelled, since the actors are refusing to cross the WGA picket lines (yay!) I'm a little sad, because the Globes are always WAY more interesting than the Oscars. Maybe the Oscars will be cancelled, too. It's too bad for those actors and shows recognized this year, who will be instantly forgotten. But it will prove that it's not the awards that make you a memorable person (think Mira Sorvino) but how good you are, even if you've never won a major award (think Joss Whedon).

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reminder: The Wire Starts Tomorrow
I previewed season 5 on my blog a few days ago, and just wanted to remind people it will be starting up tomorrow night. This season has gotten FAR more hype than any season previous, and that's probably because it's the only new thing on these days, thanks to the writer's strike. If you're new to the series, I urge you to watch seasons 1-4 before tackling season 5, but if you want to try to watch it on its own, TV Guide suggests you could try, and probably won't be disappointed.

I'm typically not a fan of John Doyle's reviews at the Globe and Mail, but his review of season 5 is right on the money, and has earned my respect. This guy is a true fan. The Toronto Star had a huge 2-page spread on it, and Rob Salem, like so many other critics (myself included) heralds it as the best thing on television.

There will be some controversy in the reviews this season, since the camera is focused on The Baltimore Sun. AP ran a story about David Simon's personal vendetta as the paper, and how it might have coloured his negative portrayal of the paper's administration. The Sun's arts reviewer, David Zurawik, has been a champion of the show since it began, but he gives a different review of the final season. That said, I thought he could have torn a strip off Simon if he wanted to, and still talks about how much he loves the show and what he liked about it this season.

E Online has an article about how they were sick and tired of critics lauding The Wire as the best thing on television -- until they got around to watching it and realized hey, they were right. (Apparently if the show isn't about Britney Spears, it'll take E a few years to get around to watching it.)

I could go on and on, but just google "HBO's The Wire" and click news, and you'll see dozens of reviews.

And there's always an exception. The National Post in Canada lets their theatre critic occasionally dabble in television criticism, and when you read his review of The Wire, you see why that's a problem. I'd link to it, but The Post doesn't put up all of their reviews. Basically, Cushman compared it unfavourably to The Sopranos, and stated that the sad thing about The Wire is that it sacrifices character development to plot (??!!) He says there are no characters on The Wire that inspire the onscreen awe of Paulie Walnuts. Apparently he's never heard of Omar. The best thing about The Wire is the way Simon takes an issue that's a headline-grabber, and makes it personal. We care about everyone on the show, from the corrupt politicians to the drugrunners on the corners to the children of the cops pulling overtime. That statement alone betrays the fact Cushman doesn't watch the show. It was a review clearly written by someone who watched only the first 2 episodes of the screeners (he actually says at one point that at the end of the second episode he couldn't see where they were going with the newsroom plot and wondered if it would get better... maybe he should pop in the next disk to find out??) and hadn't actually seen the first four seasons. He mentions some of the plot from the past seasons, but it's all rewritten from the press package.

Actually, I'm glad I can't link to it, because it's a waste of your time.

Watching The Wire, however, isn't, and I urge everyone to check it out. In Canada, The Wire airs Sundays at 8 p.m. PT on Movie Central and 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network, beginning January 6th. The Wire airs on HBO in the U.S.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Matthew Fox on EW Cover... Again!
Man, how many covers would this make for Lost now? I've lost count... probably 5 or 6 at this point, which must be some record for a show with only three seasons under its belt. In any case, Fox will apparently dish on the upcoming season, the flashforwards, etc. You can go here to watch a video of him shooting the cover, and he drops a few tidbits that will be in the article. I can't wait for my issue!
Drunk History
I know I don't need another reason to love Michael Cera, but I just found it. Check out the link here, or click Play below. Cera and friends got a pal who is a history buff to drink a bottle of scotch and then describe the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Then they acted it out. I almost cried I was laughing so hard, when Cera pulls out the cellphone. This is so brilliant.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Nikki’s 2007 Year in Review
Happy New Year! I hope y’all are having a safe and happy one so far.

So, I’ve been kinda absent as of late. My computer went kablooey on December 18, I took it in to a retailer to have them look at it and they said they’d send it out for a “diagnostic” to tell me what’s wrong with it. They said it would take a few days. After two weeks I started getting the shakes, so I finally called the store yesterday, and the guy said they’d gotten it back over a week earlier (thanks for calling, loser) and he said it would cost over $700 to get it fixed. So right now I’m praying he can recover all the data, while I look around for a new laptop.

I’ve been meaning to write up a fall roundup of all of my fave shows, discussing which ones I liked and why I liked them, but instead, I’ll just follow tradition and do a list of top 10’s and what 2007 meant to me, pop culture-wise.

So first, the inevitable Top 10.

Top 10 TV Moments
10. On Friday Night Lights, the conversation between Eric and Tami when Eric has to go back to work out of town, and Tami’s just had their baby, in “Last Days of Summer.” Connie Britton does her best work yet, without saying a single word.

9. Dexter headbutting Doakes right after leaning in close and hissing, “I own you.”

8. Christopher’s death on The Sopranos. It happens at the beginning of the episode, so it was a complete shock, and it made Tony a darker character than ever before. The thought of that moment STILL sends chills down my spine.

7. The deaths of Nikki and Paolo on Lost. I said it many times, and I’ll say it again: BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

6. The showdown between Peter Petrelli and Sylar in season 1 of Heroes, complete with shards of glass flying around the room and Mohinder dangling precariously from the ceiling, appearing to be dead. If the series had ended there, it would have gone down as being one of the most brilliant shows in history. Unfortunately, the season finale happened, followed by season 2. Sigh.

5. The outtakes of Jack Donaghy’s GE product integration speech on 30 Rock. Jack wastes take after take flubbing lines, worrying about where to put his hands, trying to turn off his cell phone, and knocking over the props. Comedy genius.

4. A Pushing Daisies tie between the Darling Mermaid Darlings doing their underwater dance to “Morning Has Broken” (which made me cry) and Emerson having his Vertigo dream (which made me howl with laughter). The best word I’ve been able to come up with for this show is sublime.

3. The “Business School” episode of The Office. Michael’s speech before Ryan’s class reached a new level of awkwardness, while Dwight chased a bat around the office and Jim pretended to be turning into a vampire. I wish Joss Whedon could direct every episode.

2. Season 4 of The Wire. Yeah, I can’t pick a moment, so I choose the entire season. Heartbreaking and groundbreaking. I know I’m repeating myself endlessly, so I won’t tell you to watch this show.

I can’t help it: WATCH THIS SHOW.

1. The season finale of Lost. The drama. The deaths. The possible rescue. The freakin’ flash forward. And that beard. It was television perfection (well, maybe except for the beard).

Most upsetting cancellation of the year: Veronica Mars. The show ended in such a way that I thought the following week was the finale, and when I discovered the episode I’d just seen was actually the finale, I was floored. What a huge disappointment for fans of the show. Shame on you, CW! (Wow, the worst cancellation of the year wasn’t by Fox!)

Biggest disappointment of the year: Heroes. Twenty-two episodes of brilliance, just to end on the thunk that was episode 23. And then THAT was followed by a lacklustre season 2. Ugh. The shine of season 1 has been tarnished, and I’ve removed it from my list of favourite shows. Wah.

Biggest fall 2007 disappointment: Bionic Woman. I had huge hopes for this show, and it was boring and awful. Is it even still on the air? I have no idea.

Saddest TV moment for me: Charlie’s death on Lost. I cry every time I watch it.

Funniest TV deaths for me: Hmm… let me see… NIKKI AND PAOLO. BAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

TV Show that changed my views more than any other: Big Love. I discovered it this year, devoured both seasons, and came away thinking hey, maybe polygamy isn’t all bad.

Most physically painful TV moment for me (in a good way): I was watching Eddie Izzard’s Dress to Kill DVD, and was alone in the house and about 7 months pregnant. When he got to his bit about various sections of Christianity, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, and was silently begging him to stop while vainly trying to reach for the remote, which was on the other side of the coffee table. Get this DVD if you haven’t seen it. Unfortunately, while his series The Riches started out great, I lost interest about halfway through and stopped watching.

TV “Phenomenon” I just didn’t get this year: Life. My husband and every TV critic loves it, but I watch it and think it’s trying too hard to be kooky. It just annoys me.

Best Guilty Pleasure: The Next Great American Band. LOVED this show. No one else seemed to be watching it, but I loved it anyway. When it came down to my two favourite bands in the end, I would have been happy for it to go either way, but when The Clark Brothers took it, I realized that ending made me happier. Sixwire is guaranteed a record deal, and the Clark Brothers are more niche, so by winning, both of them will get signed. Yay! The only good thing about the show ending: No more Light of Doom.

Most Sadly Ironic TV Character: I just watched season 3 of Slings & Arrows, one of the finest TV series ever produced in Canada, that somehow aired in the U.S. first. This final season starred the late, great William Hutt as a cancer-ridden Shakespearian actor who wants one final shot at Lear, and who slowly and painfully dies during the production. The show was filmed over a year ago, and Hutt died – of leukemia – in June of this year. Watching him perform Lear in the final episode of this six-episode season made me weep, and I wept even harder at his soliloquies where he talks about his fear of dying a painful death, which Hutt eventually did. Please check out Slings & Arrows if you haven’t – it’s available in a 3-season DVD set at (yet not in Canada… WTF?)

Most Realistic TV Portrayal of Having a Baby: I’ve been meaning to post on this for ages, but the depiction of Tami having a baby on Friday Night Lights has been astounding. She “had” her baby on the show only a week after I had mine, so trust me: all was fresh in my mind. Her labour was longer than 20 minutes, she’s talked about how frustrated she is trying to lose the weight (unlike Claire on Lost, who was in skinny pants the next day), she’s hormonal, she’s feeling pressured by an older daughter who is acting out because Mom’s spending too much time with the new kid. I especially love how the show portrays her breastfeeding. We see her in nursing tops, the breastfeeding pillow is usually slung over one end of the couch in the background of scenes, she comes home from being out with friends and is clutching her breasts saying she desperately needs to pump, and in one scene in her guidance counsellor office, Tim Riggins is sitting with his brother, who finds the breast pump sitting on a shelf and tells Tim that she pumps the milk out with this, “like a cow.” Considering how many women I’ve heard tell stories of breastfeeding in malls and having men walk by and say, “moo” to them, I thought this was awesome, especially since the Riggins boys are typically a couple of yahoos. When Tami walks in and yanks it out of his hands and tells him it’s not a toy, I wanted to reach through the screen and kiss her. (Week after week, she always seems to be doing exactly the same things I am with my child at the same time, and her baby actually LOOKS like a newborn, unlike most TV babies… yes, I’m looking at you, Aaron.)

Funniest impersonation: Jim pretending to be Dwight on The Office. “Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.”

Best Marc line on Ugly Betty: Betty slips in late to a board meeting, trips over the bagel cart, sends it flying, knocks all the drinks on the floor, and lands on her butt. Marc cups one hand to his mouth and whisper-yells, “Don’t worry! I don’t think anybody noticed!”

Most Disappointing Reality Show Winner: Biddell on Project Runway Canada. The guy vomits on some fabric, creates a hideous garment out of it, and Iman praises him as some unique genius. Come ON.

Best SNL Digital Short: This one. I still love it.

Favourite TV Geek: Chuck Bartowski. I heart him. HE would have called me back to tell me what was up with my computer.

Most Exciting Return of the Year: Buffy. The Joss Whedon-helmed comics are brilliant, and I feel like the show’s back again.

So... what are some of your faves/least faves of 2007?