Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I'm Breaking Up With You... Maybe?

You know, when Lost is on, it's like other channels and other shows don't exist. At least on my blog. But trust me, I'm watching other shows. LOTS of other shows. In fact, I've been having quite the TV trials and tribulations lately, and have decided to share.

In December, there was barely anything new on, so I decided to see how much of the saved shows (100 hours' worth) on my PVR I could plow through. (I originally spelled that plough, but worried it might look strange to American readers. Especially next to the word "through." People not familiar with British spelling might think it said ploo... or pluff.) ANYWAY, in the fall, I was working on my Finding Lost Season 4 book, and didn't have time to watch any TV. So it piled up. And now it was time to watch through everything and decide what was staying on my list and what was going.

Before I continue, I was on the CBC last week on Jian Ghomeshi's show. To anyone who followed quirky college novelty bands in the 90s, Jian was in a band called Moxy Fruvous, and I actually went to see them play (I interviewed them, too... I remember Jian being taken with some paisley shirt I was wearing and talking about shirts the whole time... yes, PAISLEY. It was the 90s.) My husband wanted me to go onto the show and say with absolute seriousness, "Well, in Lost this season we'll find out that once Jack was the King of Spain, but now he eats humble pie." He triple dog dared me on that one. Anyone who knows Fruvous will get that one. No one else will. I didn't do it. Ghomeshi was a really nice guy... and super smart. He doesn't need to be reminded of that band.

The subject of the show was, "Breaking up with television shows." As many of you are aware, this is actually a phrase I use often with my TV. I love my TV. Television series and I develop very complicated relationships, we have our arguments, we put work into it, and we find it a mutually fulfilling arrangement. When a show lets me down, I'm extremely upset and uncomfortable about it. Other viewers just shrug and change the channel. I go through a very bad breakup situation, holding on, stalking the show, and refusing to believe it's over. (I had lots to say on the subject, but if you listened to the broadcast, or the podcast that's now up on the CBC site, it doesn't sound like it... the script went haywire and too much time was spent on shows we weren't prepared to talk about, and we'd been prepped in the back to talk about a bunch of things and then it just went in a completely different direction, so I had to make it up quickly and it moved far away from the wicked analogies I'd been prepared to make. So I shall make them here.)

Take Fringe. I watched the first 2 eps of Fringe and left the rest to watch in December. JJ Abrams, Alias writers, how could it go wrong?? But... see, I don't know, maybe it's just the science side of it that's just not doing it for me. But it's just not doing it for me. Granted, I didn't get far -- I got to the one where that woman walks into the restaurant at the beginning and then everyone dies -- and there were moments that made me laugh out loud, but mostly dialogue that was completely wooden. The crazy scientist dad is WAY too over-the-top for me (that wavering voice, that weird not-British accent, the eccentricities that make me want to throw a shoe at him), and I didn't understand why exactly Joshua Jackson's character was still hanging around... other than to just whine about how he has no purpose and shouldn't be hanging around. I love Joshua Jackson, but not so much in this. And Anna Torv didn't have a lot of charisma either. I don't know what happened... the first two eps were awesome. Maybe I wasn't focused enough. I really want to give it a second shot on DVD, but so far, it's not working. And I'm really sad about that, actually. Now apparently the first episode of this year was pretty awesome, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I was told it had a pretty extensive "previously on" and I ask Fringe fans out there: was it extensive enough that if I skipped the rest of the season and just watched it, would I be caught up?

Man, this is SO unlike me to ever want to miss a single episode of a show. Does that signal the end?

And then -- oh man -- there's Heroes. Oh, the torrid, passionate affair I've had with Heroes. I almost left Lost for it. (Never, Lost. NEVER.) Season 1 of Heroes was so mindfrakkingly awesome it made me look at Lost -- my long-term partner -- and think, "you know... I remember when it was like this between us." And then... the season 1 finale. OH that season 1 finale. I came onto this blog moments after it had ended and ripped into it with a vitriol unlike any I'd ever displayed on this site before. A book came out by David Lavery, Lynnette Porter and Hilary Robson on Heroes (Saving the World) and they asked to use that blog in the book as the ANTI finale, with Lavery responding to me as the PRO finale (he was WRONG. Ahem).

That horrible finale, following that incredible season... it was like our love had been so strong, and I was beginning to see a future with it, and then... I walked in and it was having sex with According to Jim on our kitchen floor.


But I forgave. I believed season 2 would make up for it. We'd get our love back. But oh no. Hiro went to Japan for WAY too long, the Dunder Twins showed up from Mexico or Argentina or wherever, and some chick's power was fashioning roses out of tomatoes. "Don't you come near me or I will be FORCED to make a daisy!!!" UGH. I hated it. But then Tim Kring came out and made a mea culpa in EW. He said yeah, it sucked, yeah, we had every right to be upset, please don't leave, it'll get better. I had my bags packed and was standing at the front door and Heroes was there on bended knee promising to stop drinking. Sigh. I put the suitcases down.

And then season 3 began. I thought there was hope. It wasn't... awful. It wasn't awesome, either, but it had the potential to come back to where it used to be. And wherever it just wasn't satisfying me anymore, or where my suspicions started to surface that maybe it was going to cheat on me again, I'd think back to that wondrous honeymoon of a first year we had together, and I just couldn't leave.

But then I let the rest of the season build up on the PVR. My readers started emailing me either telling me to watch it because they really wanted to see if I'd like it, or telling me not to bother because it was terrible. Then Jeph Loeb left. And there was that EW cover story. It was a disaster. So, I started watching it.

Now, I feel like I'm in a bit of an abusive relationship with Heroes. One week it's good, really good, and the next week it's so awful I'm reading a magazine and watching another show using the picture-in-picture button. Sylar was emasculated (they took one of the great TV villains of all time and NEUTERED him) and Claire was a brunette and there were two Peters and there was this episode with Weevil from Veronica Mars where he actually looked like Weevil but Peter was in his body so the producers assumed we were too stupid to realize Peter was in his head so they had Milo play the character even though all the OTHER characters could see Weevil and I was So. Confused. But then there was the episode with Bubbles from The Wire (BUBS!!) and he played this guy who sent people into a vortex and it was beautiful. He was amazing. I loved it. I felt like, okay, I'm still in the abusive relationship with Heroes but... gosh, he's just so nice when he's not drinking!!

I watched up to the second half of The Eclipse episode.

And then it was the week of Lost. What I didn't tell y'all that happened to me that week was I upgraded my PVR. I've had an HD TV for over a year now, but had a regular digital box. But for Lost, I really wanted the new PVR (it holds 200 hours!!!) So these two dumbasses came in, sat on our couch and drunk-dialled friends on their cellphone while complaining to us occasionally that our satellite wasn't right or something, called Bell on our phone (while still talking to friends on their cells) and said "On the screen it's showing the satellite is at 90%, so is that OK?" and my husband's staring at the screen and it said 65%... of course Bell said it was OK and so these two yobs left, and I spent the rest of the night getting the damn thing to work properly while this lovely man in India sat with me and talked me through installing the thing myself.

ANYWAY... with my old PVR they took all my programming, and that included the rest of Fringe, the last two episodes of Heroes, and a bunch of other things. Sigh. So I have to catch up on those and watch them in streaming video on the network sites or something.

But to be honest, after Pushing Daisies was cancelled (:::SOB!!!:::) the news went out that Bryan Fuller was coming back to Heroes, and if he is, then there's still hope that it might return to its former glory. Think of it as going into rehab and coming back out the man he used to be.

But if he doesn't, then maybe I really will have to pack those bags and move out. Will I become a stalker ex? Checking in to see what's going on every once in a while, reading spoilers to keep posted on everything? Or will I make a clean break? Or will I let some time pass and then, like an ex who just wants to be friends, watch an episode just to make sure it's OK?

I don't know. Time will tell.

GOD, breaking up really IS hard to do. Thank god I don't have to do this with Lost. So many people left in season 3, and I like to think it's like some idiot who leaves her boyfriend because he put on weight or lost his job and then she finds out a year later that he's won the lottery and is the lead singer of a suddenly successful band and is totally awesome. Huh. Too bad she left so soon! ;)

I don't want to be her. So I shall hold on, Heroes. But really, there's only so long I can be the only one giving in this relationship. I need something back. Soon.


Jeremy Barker said...

Well Nik, if Fringe isn't working for you, drop it. Now I say this as a fan who has watched every episode and loved them. But if the character quirks aren't doing, well, they don't change.

Now there is a larger mythology being created, but I don't think you're missing much of it by skipping an episode here or there. They are more like stand alone X-Files episodes right now, but it may congeal more later.

As for Heroes, I'm starting to not care what happens to anyone - it's meaningless. I spent last night reading blogs during the episode. I just couldn't focus on the yap yap yaping about fate and whatever and I can't bear to hear another Mohinder voice over. When a hole opened up on that plane, I was wishing a few more heroes would be sucked out into the void. But I'll still keep watching. Sigh.

And if you're in an abusive relationship with anyone, it's Bell.

Now let's stop communicating through our blogs and meet up.

Benny said...

I agree with Jeremy with regards to Fringe. I enjoy it and the science stuff actually does it for me. Every few episodes they bring in something that you just know they'll use in the greater picture being built. Kinda like the X-Files and Alias used to do sometimes. But you also have stand alones (like last week's with 'Frank Sobotka').

As avid viewers, we'll let you know if it gets better and builds onto something worth catching up to!

As for Heroes, I'll just say it here: Never liked it. I read about it and kinda like the mythology, and that's the only thing keeping my mind mildly interested in it. Then I learned that David Anders was in it and thought 'I have to check it out', but then realized he had been killed off and didn't care anymore.

That's kinda my story here. I can usually dump sitcoms easily because there is no linearity to them (usually), which was certainly not the case for Arrested Development!

And get your fingers in good shape for tomorrow, I have a hunch there will be a lot to discuss!

Justin Mohareb said...

I can't say I still like Heroes. It's been teetering ever since the end of season one, and the abbreviated season two did it no favours.

Leverage is proving to be a lot of fun, only partially due to Christian Caine. You watching it yet?

batcabbage said...

I'm not sure how Fringe goes from the episode you saw up to, Nik, because here, in Australia, the free-to-air tv stations only air shows about cops/lawyers/doctors/people who want to sing/dance/not be fat/fix up other people's backyards/people willing to humiliate themselves for money - that sort of thing. Fringe was taken off the air inexplicably after about 6 episodes. Same with the Mentalist. Man, I was pissed about that.

Anyway, I'm kind of in the same boat with you on Heroes. Season 2 disappointed me, despite having a healthy interest in feudal Japanese history. I've just watched the latest episode ('A Clear and Present Danger') and I have to agree with one of the other posters here - who cares? There's nothing left to invest in with these characters. Nathan is turning into Tony Stark in Marvel's 'Civil War' arc. I'm just waiting for him to unleash his new piece of legislation 'The Superhero Registration Act' and be appointed Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I'm also experiencing the same kind of disappointment (but to a lessor degree) with BSG. Specifically, the revelation of the fifth Cylon (apparently. I'm still not sold it's really who they say it is, yet). I won't go any further for people who haven't seen it, but when it was revealed, my reaction was a little disappointed. It felt like an anti-climax to something that had been built up WAY too much. Have you seen the new eps yet? I'm interested on your thoughts (it was your entry before the premiere a couple of weeks ago that got me to check the whole series out).

batcabbage said...

By the way, I just wanted to say I loved the first 3 seasons and the first 10 S4 eps of BSG (hence why I watched them all in a week). Balthar is the luckiest man in the universe. Sleeping with Six AND Xena?! Good God, man!

Benny said...

To be honest, I'm not buying the whole fifth they've been claiming. As you said, the reveal was completely anticlimactic. I had to ponder at the commercial if they had actually meant it.

I have a bigger idea of the whole fifth as a concept, and it comes from another reveal in the premiere. Suffice to say that what I have in mind does not infer their reveal as wrong.

And btw, had it not been for self restraint, I would have done the one week BSG catch up as well. But dince I started in October, I was able to hold back!

@NIKKI, I just finished listening to the podcast and that was a nice discussion. Although I couldn't agree with parting with 24. That is just weak on his part! Well, it's all a matter of taste.

batcabbage said...

@ Benny - "I had to ponder at the commercial if they had actually meant it."

I was exactly the same! My gf had actually pointed to the suspect in earlier seasons saying 'I bet they're a cylon'. I was in total denial after the reveal. Still am, actually. I hope you're right, and they didn't really mean it!

redeem147 said...

Once Castle comes in, Heroes was in danger of being bumped from my schedule so I can watch Being Erica. But Being Erica is moving to Wednesday (I can timeshift it away from Lost) and I'll stick with Heroes. Maybe.

If I can stand to watch Civil War meets Prison Break. At least Mohinder is pretty again.

I hope you're watching Being Erica.

Why no, I don't have a PVR.

BSG is still new to me since I only started watching it in December, so I'm enjoying the new episodes. Personally, I think we're all the fifth cylon.

Benny said...

ARGH! Redeem! that was part of my theory (as a tried to hint at it without revealing it)!

redeem147 said...

Doesn't mean it's right. :)

And I don't know that it fits with the vision that Three had of the five.

Benny said...

Well, any theory is just that: a theory. Until it is proven one way or another.

I think that the show will direct us towards different ideas with different "claims". 3 had a vision of the five, and notice that in Revelations she only called for four of them. That could fit with the reveal we've had or the fifth was something/someone else that couldn't be identified.

We might be meant to believe different individuals are the fifth but that in fact they are all the fifth, from a philosophical POV.

I'm with you in that I'm in sort of denial when it comes to their claim.

Roland said...

I watched the beginning of Fugitives and wish that they did this episode right after the season 1 finale. The acting and storylines for me have never been up to the quality of Lost, but they separated the Heroes too much and storylines were too repetitive (how many times can you save the world from exploding?) and for me the most important flaw of Heroes was that there was no feeling of risk for the Heroes, they kept bringing them back from the dead. We cannot care about someone dying either good or evil because you know that they will just be resurrected the following week.

My advice to Heroes, kill off most of the characters, REALLY start fresh and get more of an Xmen kind of storyline going where they are working together. And you kill someone, leave them in peace!

I've only caught a few episodes of Fringe...very monotonous acting I agree, I think I will have to see it again on DVD to make a final decision.

Nikki Stafford said...

Urgh... I've been planning to write something on BSG. Looks like I should have done it instead! :) I'll get something up soon, promise. Then we can all complain/praise to our hearts' delights. :)

Nikki Stafford said...

redeem: Also watching Being Erica, also loving it, and planning on blogging on it soon. Man, where does the time go??

Nikki Stafford said...

Benny: Ugh, the fingers are in shape, but I'll warn you: my toddler was up at 5, and I'm beat already (and it's 1:15). Be prepared for some incoherent remarks in tonight's rundown!

But maybe, with Lost, they'll still make total sense. :)

Benny said...

Sounds good!

joshua said...

You know, I've watched every episode of 'Fringe,' and up or down, it just doesn't do much for me, either. The writing is universally weak, the plots are always thin, and the characters are stock archetypes at best. The lead in particular reminds me of several women I dated -- cute, but so boring that it totally negates the appeal. Most importantly, however, I think the overarching storyline is leaking out in the tiniest possible drips and dribbles, and it's simply not enough to keep me interested, much less watching.

The quality of the pilot was enough to carry me this far (and there have been other good episodes, to be sure), but if the season doesn't radically improve by its finale, I don't see myself committing to another.

That said, let me pause for a moment to praise what I think is far and away the most wonderful thing about 'Fringe,' and quite possibly my favorite modern television gimmick -- the 60-second commercial break!

Jeremy Barker said...

Hear, hear on people on TV shows who die staying that way. Heros is a grand offender, but it happens everywhere these days.

A.G.Wooding said...

You shouldn't have to watch a TV show that you don't like, life's too short, but I quite like Fringe.

I have the same feelings for Heroes on the otherhand. You try to defend it with the pessemists than you tune in one week and think, oh god you're not helping yourself. But it will have to be a lot worse for me to stop watching it, I need something to take my mind off Lost.

Eric said...

I remember Moxy Fruvous. I saw them when I was in college in the 90s as well.

I didn't start watching Fringe at first. I haven't been too impressed with JJ since Alias, despite all the hype about anything he touches. I did start watching it later on and then caught up on the old episodes. It's OK, not great. I do like Anna Torv though.

I never liked Heroes.

Benny said...

Nikki, I was reading Le Petit Prince and noticed a nice line. I'll give you the straight up French version, I'm sure you'll understand it. When the prince meets the businessman counting stars and claims they're his, he explains:

"Quand tu trouve une ile qui n'est a personne, elle est a toi."

Blam said...

I have some time to post now and I think I'll get to watch Lost. Yay!

I've stuck with Fringe, and I like it -- the taste of its cherry ChapStick (sorry). John Noble's quavering baritone works for me, somehow, as does Anna Torv's near lack of expression as Olivia, though I understand why people have taken issue with her; she looks so much like Without a Trace's Poppy Montgomery, I've probably transferred some good will over by association, even though I fall behind on WAT periodically and I darn CBS for not having it available via the web or even on DVD. The line readings that actually strike me as oddest are Joshua Jackson's, because even when he's saying something off the cuff it has a quality of "I'm reading a line" about it; I don't know if this is just his voice or his method, having never seen Dawson's Creek, or if he's trying to intimate an echo of Peter's father's voice, but sometimes he sounds distractingly like Fringe's version of Vincent Kartheiser on Mad Men.

Last week's return from hiatus should catch you up fine even if you've only seen the very first couple of episodes from last year. There was some obvious expository get-folks-up-to-speed dialogue, but it wasn't too bad. And this week's episode surprisingly wrapped up the whole John Scott subplot -- where his loyalties lie, what he was into or onto, how much longer his lingering memories may stay in Olivia Dunham's mind -- although of course they can revisit this and twist any of it further. One episode from the past that you might want to track down is the one featuring the bald dude called The Observer, since I'm sure without saying too much he'll be important to the mythology down the line.

I figured the writers brought in Olivia's sister and niece to visit last week for a grander plotline that has yet to take shape, but even if it was just to show her happy and relaxed around family that may go a long way towards proving that Torv has range and Olivia's Plain Jane matter-of-factness is a character choice (heck, maybe Broyles brought her into the fold to make himself look cheery).

I haven't listened to the podcast yet due to time and wifi issues here, but I'm itching to reply more in this thread regarding Heroes and Battlestar Galactica. I'm finally almost caught up to watching in real time, having finished off the last of the DVDs the other night and watched the first episode of this season, and I would love for you to start a thread on it.

Jazzygirl said...

Well I can only weigh in on Fringe since I have never watched Heroes. I just couldn't get involved with ONE more show! LOL And from what I've heard/read, I'm glad I didn't.
Fringe...I agree with what everyone has said. Sometimes it's been hard to hold on. There were definitely some eps last fall that made it hard to stay committed. And yes, Joshua Jackson's character is starting to really fade in my opinion. His lines seem forced, not funny anymore. It's like he really doesn't have a purpose. I like his dad, although it's become predictable. Like, okay let's see which mystery he's going to be able to solve because it seems EVERY case has something to do with his past research!
I think Olivia's character is getting better...or her acting is. She did show a softer side last week with her family.
And yes, I LOVE the 60 second commercials...why can't they do that with Lost?!??!!
Speaking of which...just saw tonight's and anxiously awaiting Nikki's blog about it. Though I have to get to bed so it will have to wait until tomorrow. :(
Some good, long awaited answers and characters though!!!

Beej said...

I don't know; I really enjoy Fringe. It took me a few episodes, and I still really don't like Torv's character, but the show itself has gotten more interesting. It's really the backstory and the X-Files-esque mytholog--sorry, the Pattern that's got me hooked. I'm legitimately interested in the story now, and Jackson's character as well as the now-toned-slightly-down eccentricity in Walter make the show interesting.

Some of the acting is still stiff and somewhat forced, but the writing has gotten a bit better. I couldn't get into Fringe for a while myself, but by the 4th or 5th episode, I was hooked, and I've not regretted its DVR slot once.

AverageMom said...

I'd say more, but I have to go listen to Moxy now. I've got the Gulf War Song stuck in my head, thanks!!

KeepingAwake said...

I gave up on Heroes long ago and on Fringe after the second episode (which recycled far too many elements of the first episode).

I hope you'll write about Big Love again! Almost no one is recapping that show and it's having an incredible season!

MC said...

I didn't know he was in Moxy Fruvous. Wow, you learn something every day.

elrambo said...

Condolences on the PVR disaster. But never mind about Fringe. I said "Feh!" after episode 1 and haven't missed it a bit. Heroes, on the other hand, is a habit I can't seem to kick, even when they're driving me crazy. And maybe I'm crazy to hope that Bryan Fuller will bring a little heart to the rest of the current season? Still got some room on my PVR, so...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on Heroes!Why does Parkman have to keep telling his girlfriend that she's "one of the good guys"? Why does Claire always talk like she's biting her lower lip and being a petulant teenager? and W-H-Y is Ali Larter still there? Why? Why does she have multiple personalities + another clone/sister in standby, just in case Tracy Strauss dies?Just keep the characters coming, cause she's not going anywhere!

And why do the season enders have to be so anti-climactic?At some point it was like Buffy, where Armageddon was like an annual event.

At least Hiro is there to provide whimsical comic relief...


Benny said...


I don't know if you've caught up in Fringe, but in case you haven't, I'll just let you know that the show has opened up its arc and you might want to check out tonight's episode.

They had a nice recap at the beginning but it restarts the story from "In Which We Meet Mr. Johnson" and the last 10ish minutes of "Safe"

I just thought you might want to know, and it introduces major plot points that WILL be addressed throughout the show, or else they'll lost most of their viewers.

Countdown to "This Place is Death"

Blam said...

I just popped in to see if anyone had mentioned tonight's Fringe. (Hi, Benny!)

The consensus here was that it was quite good, with an interisting twist in the very last scene and a MAJOR piece of the series' premise/future presented in the final act -- with Olivia herself nicely voicing viewers' possible skepticism after the fact.

If anyone's thinking of starting up or getting back in, even if you don't go back and see the past couple weeks' episodes, you must see this one. And the good news there is that the show is back on hiatus until April, apparently.

Blam said...

PS to Benny: An interesting typo in "or else they'll lost most of their viewers"... You meant lose, I presume, but you could probably use Lost the show as a verb to describe what happens to a series' audience when mythology gets expansive and answers rolled out slowly: "I'm afraid that Dollhouse might totally Lost its viewership -- if it doesn't get Firefly'd first!"

Benny said...

You're absolutely right! I forgot to capitalize it. Silly me!

As for the hiatus, I'm certainly hoping that they will use the opportunity to re-air and maybe increase viewership. After tonight's episode, I think word will spread that something is up with the show (not unlike on what is happening on this post) and people may want to catch up!

We can only hope so. We have to remember that most shows do in fact take time to build their mythos and arcs. Their first seasons are often stand-alones mixed in with a few arc episodes.