Monday, November 30, 2009

Spanish Lost Promo

This new promo from Spain has been circulating since yesterday, and this is my first chance I've had to post it. While there's no new footage from S6, someone who understands Lost completely has put it together, placing each of the characters on a chessboard and moving them through the game. It's brilliant. Now why can't we get promos like these here?!

Lost S5 Deleted Scene?

I was just sent this clip from Buena Vista Home Entertainment ©ABC Studios saying this is one of the deleted scenes featured on the season 5 Lost DVD box set... but it's one I remember watching. Is it possible this aired only in Canada? Does this clip look familiar to anyone else? I think it's just a different take, because I remember Juliet nonchalantly sipping her coffee throughout the scene, and this take is a little more frantic.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

DVD Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest this week! To win one of two copies of the Lost Season 5 Limited Edition Orientation Kit DVD (or, if you live outside of North America, a copy of my book, "Finding Lost: Season 5"), you had to answer up to five trivia questions, and the answers to them were:

1. Tunisia
2. Besixdouze (some people answered "Ajira," but I specified it had to be from Rousseau's boat. Also, others mentioned they couldn't get the accent to work, but I don't think the accent actually appeared on the canister, despite being correct. I accepted answers with or without the accent. However, I didn't accept "B612")
3. Agostini & Norton
4. "Shotgun Willie"
5. "Ille qui nos omnes servabit" (Unfortunately, I couldn't accept the entries that simply wrote the English translation, "He who will save us all," because I specifically said I needed the Latin that Richard spoke)

So those are the answers! And now... the winners. I've decided to draw them live (in a prerecorded segment... how's THAT for time travel) and here is my first and last attempt at a video podcast. If you're looking for a mystery that will be drawn out longer than the answers on Lost, check out me and my "assistant" drawing the names... and re-enacting a famous scene from Lost. Terribly. Prepare for rambling me. (If it's any consolation, I promise to never do this again. I mean, check out the still that was randomly chosen for it! Ugh.) I apologize for the TERRIBLE microphone on my computer and the weird random buzzing. It was built by the Dharma Initiative in 1980. Be sure to crank up your volume.

Congratulations to my three winners!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Contest Is Now Closed

Wow, what a flurry of last-minute entries! Thank you so much to everyone who entered... watch this space for the announcement of the winners, coming this weekend!


The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

And it all comes down to this. After a week of answering my trivia questions, we're down to the fifth and final one, giving all of you a total of five chances to enter the contest to win one of two copies of the Lost Season 5 Limited Edition Orientation Kit DVD Box Set (if you live in the U.S. or Canada) or a copy of my Finding Lost — Season 5 book (if you live outside of those countries).

Since Monday, I've been posing a question a day, and you can answer once for each question (when you get a correct answer, I'm writing your name down onto a slip of paper and throwing it into the pot). To review, here are the first four questions (if you haven't yet entered, you can still do so):

Question #1: When Locke turned the Frozen Donkey Wheel, what country did he end up in?

Question #2: In one of the island’s many time jumps, the survivors find a canister on the beach that belonged to Rousseau’s crew. What was written on the side of it?

Question #3: What is the name of the law firm Ben hires to attempt to extract blood samples from Kate and Aaron? (I'm not looking for the name of the lawyer, but the firm.)

Question #4: As season 5 opens, we see a man who turns out to be Pierre Chang get out of bed and put on a record. What's the name of the song that plays?

If you haven't yet entered your answers for these, simply send me an email with the name of the question in the subject line (i.e. "Question 2") and your answer, and full name and country you live in. Please send a separate email for each entry.

And now, without any further ado, the fifth, final, and toughest question of the bunch. Drumroll...

In the season 5 finale, "The Incident," Ilana and the Shadow Seekers emerge from the jungle with a crate carrying their "cargo." Ilana approaches Richard Alpert and asks him, "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" What is the exact phrase — in Latin — that he gives as his response?

If you know the answer (hint: if you have my book, it's in there), send an email to me with "Question 5" in the subject line, and your full name and country you live in. Please send me your FULL name. I'm getting the occasional "John S." type of response, and if there's more than one "John S.", then it will create confusion. So please send real names, and not pseudonyms.

The contest closes tonight (Friday) at 10pm EST. Please get all entries in before then, and then I'll be drawing the names and announcing them here on the blog on Saturday. Good luck to everyone, and thank you so much for playing along all week. Man, I wish we could do this all the time! We need to come up with trivia games more often on here.

And after you've entered the contest, check out this awesome new sneak peek of a season 5 DVD extra, featuring the making of the Shoot-out at the Dharmaville Corral scene from "The Variable." This clip comes courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. ©ABC Studios.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!

Welcome to Day Four of our contest to win a copy of the Lost Season 5 Limited Edition Orientation Kit DVD. I've been asking questions all week long, and with each question readers have had a chance to enter the contest. If this is the first time you're checking in, you can still go back and answer the first three questions:

Question One
Question Two
Question Three

For each question, please put the number of the question in your subject line (i.e. "Question 2") and then your answer, your full name, and what country you live in. If you live in North America, you'll qualify to win one of two copies of the DVD set. If you live outside the U.S. and Canada, you will qualify to win a FABULOUS copy of my Finding Lost — Season 5 book... an awesome prize if ever there was one. Like you really want a DVD set. Pfft.

But I think I've been letting you guys off a little easy. Let's go for a slightly harder one, and we'll return to the very beginning of the season for it. Here we go!

As season 5 opens, we see a man who turns out to be Pierre Chang get out of bed and put on a record. What's the name of the song that plays?

Think you know the answer? Send me an email with "Question 4" in the subject line, and include your full name and country. Please enter only once per question; you have a chance to get five entries into the pot (which is literally a pot of little slips of paper with your names on them).

I will be posting Question 5 early on Friday, which will give you more time to enter. The contest will close at 10pm EST on Friday night, and any entries after that will be discarded. I will choose the winners and post them on Saturday... and I'm thinking of actually doing this in a unique way I haven't tried yet on Nik at Nite, so be sure to tune in on Saturday to see what I've got in store for you! Good luck!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Darlton and Jorge Talk About Season 5

Here's another new clip from the Season 5 DVD box set of Lost, Courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. ©ABC Studios.


The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Day three already? Where is this week going? For anyone just coming onto the site now, I've been running a contest all week to win one of two copies of the new Season 5 Lost DVD Limited Edition Orientation Kit version, courtesy of Buena Vista Television. Every day I've been asking one trivia question, and you can enter the contest once with EACH question (so if you answer all five of them, you'll get five entries into the contest). I'm literally writing your names on slips of paper and dropping them into a hat, and there are already many people with two entries in there! Let's go for three.

If you live outside of the U.S. or Canada, you have a chance to instead win a copy of my Finding Lost Season 5 guide. And I mean, given the choice between this fantastic book and some lousy DVD box set, which one would you honestly rather have? (Don't answer that.)

If you haven't answered the first two questions yet, go here to find them:
Question One
Question Two

If you know the answers to the questions, send me an email with the question number in the subject line (i.e. "Question 1") and your answer, and your full name and the country you live in.

So without any further ado, it's time for Question #3!!

What is the name of the law firm Ben hires to attempt to extract blood samples from Kate and Aaron? (I'm not looking for the name of the lawyer, but the firm.)

Think you know it? Put "Question 3" in your subject line and email me along with your full name and country. And then tune in again tomorrow for chance #4!! (Friday will be the last day for entries; contest closes at 10pm Friday night, and the winner will be chosen after.) Good luck!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody

I've had SO many people forward this to me today it's crazy. Which warms my heart, because it shows me you guys really, really understand me. :) This is truly awesome, made for any Muppets fan. And what is it about Animal these days that makes me laugh hysterically? He's brilliant in this. Enjoy! (And don't forget to scroll down for the Lost contest!)


The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Welcome to Day Two of the contest to win a copy of the Lost Season 5 DVD box set from Buena Vista television (the deluxe, limited edition Orientation Kit version) which will be available on December 8. Yesterday I asked the first of five questions (you can still go back and email me with the answer to that question if you haven't entered on that one yet) and today I'm going to ask the second. As before, please email me your response and include your full name and what country you live in. If you live in North America you will be eligible to win one of two of the box sets; if you live outside of Canada or the U.S. you will be eligible to win a copy of my Finding Lost Season 5 book. You can enter once per question, which means you'll have a chance to get five entries into the hat by the end of the week, giving you more chances to win.

So without any further ado, here is the question:

In one of the island’s many time jumps, the survivors
find a canister on the beach that belonged to Rousseau’s crew.
What was written on the side of it?

If you know the answer, email it to me along with your name and country, with "QUESTION 2" in the subject line . Tune in tomorrow for Question 3! The winners will be announced on the weekend.

Yes, Joss, You DO Deserve It

Thanks to fb for the heads-up on this story. The Producers Guild of America will be honouring Joss Whedon with the Vanguard Award at the PGA Awards in January 2010, saying “Joss Whedon has mastered the art of melding the newest technology with inspired storytelling, truly exemplifying the spirit of the Vanguard Award.”

In a typically hilarious response, Joss said, “This is an honor I didn’t expect and probably don’t deserve. The truth is, I’ve never actually guarded a van. But I am a super-total visionary, so that fits. I’m ready to take my place next to the guys who made ‘THX 1138’ and ‘Tin Toy’ (Did they ever do anything else, btw? They showed such promise.). This is a time of radical change in media delivery and content, and I’m honestly proud the PGA has singled me out as someone who sort of knows what’s going on.”

Goodnight Keith Moon

For all the parents out there who have read "Goodnight Moon" so many times they find it lulls THEM to sleep, you MUST check out this hilariously in-bad-taste-but-I-LOVE-it version, where instead of a little bunny on the bed in the great green room, there's a dead Keith Moon surrounded by empty cans and sick.

Go here to read the entire book.

Thanks to Popped Culture for this link. It was just too good not to repost here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lost S5 Deleted Scene!

Here's a deleted scene that will be appearing on the Lost S5 DVD (this comes courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. ©ABC Studios). It's taken from "Namaste," when Christian takes Sun into the rec room to show her the Dharma photo. Watch when the axe first hits the wood... could that be smoke coming out of the room? ;)

Go here to win a copy of the S5 DVD!

Lost S5 DVD Trivia Contest: QUESTION ONE

The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

UPDATE: I changed my mind: I'll allow entries to begin immediately, and you can answer each question once, which means each person gets a maximum of five entries.

As I mentioned on my blog the other day, I have two copies of the limited edition Lost S5 deluxe edition DVDs with the Orientation kit, and one copy of my new Finding Lost book, to give away. To win one of them, you have to answer a S5 Lost trivia question, and I'll be unveiling them once a day until Friday. I was hoping to do this every morning, but unfortunately this is the first chance I've had to be on here today. Here's hoping I'll be able to get them out earlier in the days to come.

As I said before, once I've asked each question (the answers to which, by the way, can all be found in my new Finding Lost Season Five book), you can email me off the blog here, and I'll collect the answers and choose a winner on the weekend (if that link doesn't work for you for some reason, my email address is listed to the left of this under my contact info). So, here goes. Drumroll, please (I'll start you off with an easy one):

When Locke turned the Frozen Donkey Wheel,
what country did he end up in?

Think you know the answer? Email me here with "QUESTION 1" in the subject line, and let the games begin!!

UPDATE: I completely forgot to ask this last night, but when sending in your entry, could you include your full name and what country you're in? (Please don't resend entries... if you enter again later in the week I'll note it for earlier entries.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This is my new favourite thing. Christopher Walken, appearing on Jonathan Ross's show on the BBC, was asked to read the lyrics of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," not knowing the song at all. This is the result:

Then, one brilliant fan put together this mash-up of the Walken bit over the actual song, and it's genius:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's the Nik at Nite Lost S5 Contest!!

As we've already discussed on here, Lost Season 5 will be released this December on Blu-ray and DVD, and Buena Vista is offering a limited edition Dharma Initiative Orientation box set. Season 5, in my mind, was the best of the series so far (here's hoping Season 6 tops it!) and I can't wait for the box set, just as many of you can't wait for it either.

Well, I have some good news for two of you. Starting on Monday I'll be posting special preview material from the extras that will be available on the season 5 box set, and I'll be putting up a new clip every three days or so, depending on how often I'll be getting them from Buena Vista. Next week, however, along with Monday's clip I'm going to post a question. Another one will be posted on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. When all of the questions are there, you have to email me your answers to all five questions by midnight EST on Friday. I'll go through all of the entries and choose two winners on Saturday who will be the proud recipients of a copy of the limited edition Season 5 Orientation Kit DVD set!! I need to get the names and addresses of the winners to Buena Vista by December 1 (so keep an eye on your email on the weekend) and they will ship the winners' copies out December 7 to arrive at your house the next day, with any luck.

The only catch, sadly, is that these are region 1 DVDs, and therefore the DVD portion of the contest is open only to entrants from Canada and the U.S. I apologize to my other readers, but what we'll do to level that playing field is, if you'd like to enter from outside the U.S., I'll open the contest to you and your prize will be a signed edition of my book. Not exactly the glamour of a DVD box set, but at least this way we all get to play!!

So come back tomorrow and every day after that until the DVD's release, for a chance to win one of two copies of the season 5 DVDs and preview clips from the extras on the DVDs, which I'll post until the DVD's release on December 8! (And just in time for our S5 rewatch, which begins the following week!) Good luck to all of you! Spread the word and send people over here throughout the following week.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lost Premiere Date Announced!

Season 6 will officially begin on February 2, 2010 with the two-hour premiere, in the 9pm time slot (thank goodness, since last week 10pm was being touted as the possible time), following a recap episode that will kick off the season an hour earlier at 8. This means Lost has officially moved to Tuesday nights, meaning our discussions will be held on Wednesday mornings here (does that seem wrong to anyone else? I always enjoyed our Thursday morning, and it'll just seem weird to be discussing it a day early... oh well, I'm not complaining!) You can read the full press release here.

Now this comes a week later than we'd originally thought it was going to air, and if Lost is also going to be taking off two weeks in February for the Olympics, as Carlton Cuse announced recently, how will that work? The Olympics begin on February 12. Does that mean they're airing the premiere plus one extra episode and then taking two weeks off? Or has ABC scrapped that earlier idea?

What we know is that season 6 will be 18 hours long. If the premiere is 2 hours, then that puts us at May 25 for the finale, but that's ONLY if there's no recap episodes in between, no weeks being taken off, and no break for the Olympics. However, I'm thinking the finale will be 2 hours long, which will give ABC one free week to run a recap episode. OR... if they take two weeks off for the Olympics, then they might double up episodes on another night. But considering the timing of the premiere, I don't think they'd run two episodes and then stop there, and maybe they've changed their mind about the Olympics (here's hoping the ratings for Lost will be able to hold up against them) and it'll end nicely on May 25. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Ready for Season 6: Second Chances

I don't know if anyone's seen the new lame commercial for Lost, where we see Jack about to drop the bomb, and then he does, and then it says, "Lost... coming in 2010." Wow. Thanks for telling me WHAT I ALREADY KNOW. Ugh. Anyway, I think THIS should be the commercial. Yes, it's got stuff we've all seen, but it's still wicked, and suggests things could be rewound and tried again. The clock ticking at the end sent chills down my spine.

The Lost Conference

A few months ago I mentioned a pending international Lost academic conference, organized by David Lavery and Lynnette Porter, the authors of Lost's Buried Treasures, 2E: The Unofficial Guide to Everything Lost Fans Need to Know. Now the date and location have been announced: it will be held from January 12-15, 2011 in... Oahu!!

Just think: academic papers, tours of the Lost locations on the island... this was a gathering made for nuts like us. I'm planning to be there, and here's hoping some of you might make it as well! I'll keep y'all posted. The basic information can be found here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Glee: Wheels

Two weeks without Glee is TOO LONG. I've missed this show so much, I was thrilled to have it back again. From giving us a new perspective of Sue Sylvester to solving one of the big nitpicks I've had with the show, it was a triumphant return. I was glad there was finally an episode devoted to Artie, who used to actually be part of a boy band (NLT). Here's a pic of him in those younger days.

• Artie telling Tina that his penis still works. Hahaha!
• Sue's comment to the newest Cheerio: "You think this is hard? Try auditioning for Baywatch and being told they're going in another direction, THAT'S hard."
• The revelation that Sue's not actually up to anything, but has a sister with Down's Syndrome. Sue has a heart?! I love it.
• Tina admitting she doesn't actually have a stutter. Thank goodness!! I thought that actress put on the worst stutter in the universe, so I'm glad that's resolved.
• Kurt and his dad. Sweet. So sweet. I knew he was going to blow that high note. (Though for as much as I adore Kurt, I thought Rachel actually was the better singer... you could actually hear the autotuner on his voice.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before...

As you've probably heard already, Variety has reported that Dollhouse has been officially cancelled. As if to offer us a lollipop at the funeral, Fox has added that they will be incredibly generous and air all 13 episodes. Aw. How generous of them.

I know that back when Dollhouse was first announced, I blogged right here that I thought Joss should be riding a short bus to school for agreeing to go back to Fox, and said there's no way the show would last through a second season. But this is the one time I wanted to be SO wrong. Sigh.

The show got off to a bit of a shaky start, and had its ups and downs, but by the end of the season it was showing off some pretty stellar stuff. This season has been amazing, and the last episode -- where we got "Sierra's" backstory, was incredible.

There was no love lost between Joss and the WB by Buffy's fifth season, but that network at least gave his little show a chance. They gave both Buffy and Angel five seasons and a total of over 100 episodes each, which is about seven times the number of episodes Firefly got, and five times the number of Dollhouse eps.

Joss has already commented on the cancellation, in his weary yet comic style. I don't care how many times you get cancelled, Joss... I will always love you for things like this:

Hmm. Apparently my news is not news.

I don't have a lot to say. I'm extremely proud of the people I've worked with: my star, my staff, my cast, my crew. I feel the show is getting better pretty much every week, and I think you'll agree in the coming months. I'm grateful that we got to put it on, and then come back and put it on again.

I'm off to pursue internet ventures/binge drinking. Possibly that relaxation thing I've read so much about. By the time the last episode airs, you'll know what my next project is. But for now there's a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear.

Thank you all for your support, your patience, your excellent adverts. See you again. -j.

This will probably just give people one more reason to say they're going to stop watching TV and will only watch TV series on DVD from now on. I'm starting to be with them on that.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Like Lost

40 Years of Sunny Days Sweeping the Clouds Away

It's hard to believe, but today Sesame Street officially celebrates its 40th anniversary. That's right... 40 years of shows brought to you by the letter A and the number 8. My brother and I watched Sesame Street all the time as kids, had the little stuffed Bert and Ernie that came with the soft car where the wheels didn't really turn... the little Sesame Street playhouse that opened up into the apartment building with Hooper's shop in the bottom and the little plastic nest where Big Bird sat (and the chalkboard in the middle). We could sing all the songs, we probably learned how to read by watching it, and I think back on it with immense fondness. It was a show that used muppets and real people to tell its stories and teach concepts to children, and it was set on an inner-city street, not some swish middle-class neighbourhood. There were all sorts of languages and ethnicities and worlds that Sesame Street opened up to little kids, and is one of those shows that probably creates universal recognition among anyone in their 30s or younger. I mean, what kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s doesn't occasionally find THIS song in their heads:

Ah, 70s grooves and the Pointer Sisters. You can't beat it.

Today Sesame Street is still on the cutting edge of issues, music, and parodies, every celebrity seems to be clamouring to get on it, and it can still be enjoyed by the parents as much as the children. For example, as much as I like Feist, when I find myself singing her music to myself I usually sing the Sesame Street version, "Whoa-ah-oh, we're counting to four!"

Their parodies are timely and charming, and seem to get it in a way that most sketch comedy shows don't. Check out the recent Mad Men sketch:

Happy birthday, Sesame Street. Here's to 40 more wonderful years. Please don't ever change.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Flashforward 1.07: The Gift

I apologize that I didn't get a chance to blog on last week's Flashforward. By the time I'd actually watched it, I figured most of the chatter was probably over. And it was more of the same for me -- it had crazy cheesy moments (when Mark was racing after the guy he'd seen in the mask and they were blaring a BAD version of Bowie's "Scary Monsters," it just seemed odd... it's like the music supervisor knows how to pick good music, but the editor just doesn't know how to use it subtly. The music is always turned WAY up and then it cuts off immediately, rather than having it slowly play throughout the scene); it had some good moments, like the looks on the faces of everyone when Simcoe and his kid both showed up at the Benford house; it had rare moments of humour, like when Simcoe ran to the nurse's station and had to describe his son as dressed like "a... uh... um, well... pimp." It had another good moment when Mark and Olivia fought in the kitchen and he blamed her for an affair she hadn't yet had, and then when she tried to blame him for a drinking problem he hadn't started up again, he told her she couldn't imcriminate him for a crime he hadn't yet committed. RICH. To which she basically said, "Oh, RICH." That made me happy. And it had one moment in it that I adored: Simon talking about Shrodinger's Cat. It still presented numerous questions for me: if Charlie is actually talking to Dylan during his flashforward, then why was her response to her own flashforward that nothing would ever be good again and that "D. Gibbons is a bad man"? Where did that name even feature in the flash we just saw? So the episode still fell a little flat. Better than the previous week, but nothing stellar.

A few of you sent me an article that stated that David S. Goyer, the creator of the show (who is known for writing Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Blade) was paired up with another guy who was trying to show him how to draw out the story, and that guy was recently booted off, leaving Goyer to his own devices. This week's episode, "The Gift," was the first one that would be a Goyer episode only.

To which I say, "HALLELUJAH!!!" This episode was GREAT. (Oh thank you thank you thank you... our patience has paid off!) It wasn't an hour of semi-boredom with a shocker of a cliffhanger. It was DARK, really dark, with sudden movement in tone, many backstories getting filled in, NO REPEAT OF OLIVIA'S FLASHFORWARD (bless 'im), the fabulous Alex Kingston joining the group (which is interesting to me... she used to be married to Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Fiennes' brother, and I remember at the time it wasn't an amicable split, so... awkward? Probably not, since it was over a decade ago...)

The whole story of the Blue Hand club was amazing and creepy and made me think, What DO you do if you didn't see anything in your flashforward? If you knew you were going to be dead in 6 months, would you just drink and do drugs and commit crimes and have a lot of sex and just go crazy? Is there a segment of the population that could soon create utter chaos? (But then I also think, what if you were JUST SLEEPING in six months? Or drunk and passed out? Or having surgery and were unconscious? I mean, you can't tell me that on April 29, 2010, at 10:02pm PST, NO ONE is asleep on the planet. Come on.)

But finally... FINALLY... we had our first step forward in the puzzle when Al stepped off that building, effectively cancelling out his flashforward and changing Celia's, Fiona's (who won't be reading a report with him now), and anyone who knows Celia. Her boys might have had sad flashforwards, but now they'll be happy ones. Is that the end of it? Maybe not necessarily... maybe "Celia" will still come forward and be killed in another way, but who knows. What I love is that there's now hope that you can change your destiny. Olivia doesn't have to have that affair; Mark doesn't have to be a lonely alcoholic; and maybe Demetri doesn't have to die.

Callum Keith Rennie is here! SO excited to see his name in the opening credits. Leoben from Battlestar, Billy Tallent from Hard Core Logo (PLEASE see that movie if you haven't... and yes, the band took their name from his character)... the guy is freakin' amazing. And he's a Canuck (therefore = evil).

The writing was better, the storytelling devices were used effectively, and even though we saw that bird hit the window a few times, it never felt like we were being bashed over the heads. It actually worked structurally, as if we see that bird flying into the window over and over, the same way Fiona and Al have it flashing through their heads over and over. We moved into new characters, with Bryce telling Nicole about his Japanese dream (and please assure me that I wasn't the only person on the planet who did NOT know that Nicole is played by the same woman who plays Jane, Roger Sterling's young wife, on Mad Men?! Someone told me that this week and I just stared at them... then watched this episode with an "Oh. My. GOD." reaction... talk about a versatile actress; I didn't even RECOGNIZE her!!)

And then there's Aaron. We finally see more of his story, the scene of Tracy by the road, and then.... AAAAAHHH!! Now THAT was an ending. How it aligns with her lying in the desert in Iraq isn't clear and won't be for several more months, but I'm more than intrigued.

And who is Annabelle? Simon was fingering a bracelet with her name on it.

Last night's episode saved Flashforward, in my mind. It had all the elements I've been looking for, and intrigued me enough to actually make me look forward to the next ep, rather than feel like I'll be begrudgingly tuning in waiting for it to get better. Everything about this ep raised it up. No, I still don't know anyone's names (I've been relying 100% on IMDB to get the names right for this write-up) but that will come in time.

So... was anyone else similarly cheered by last night's ep?

Modern Family

A bunch of people have been emailing me or posting in the comments asking if I've been watching ABC's "Modern Family." And I'm happy to say yes, yes, I am. And I LOVE it. I think it's one of the funniest things on TV and it's only because I haven't had time yet that I haven't posted on it.

It's the story of wealthy Jay (Al Bundy) and the much-younger Gloria, his new gorgeous Colombian wife who he married after 35 years married to Shelley Long (remember Diane from Cheers?) He's rich and sarcastic but loves his family very much, she's fiery and sassy and has a precocious and wide-eyed optimist for a son (who provides some of the show's biggest laughs). Jay's two kids -- Claire and Mitchell -- are fully grown. Claire, who we know best as Jack Shephard's ex-wife Sarah, is married to Phil, a dopey real estate agent who thinks he's a barrel of laughs but is just plain annoying. They have three kids -- a very smart little girl, a slightly stupid boy in the middle, and a teenager whose hormones are running wild and who brings home guys they just don't approve of. Mitchell, Claire's brother, is gay and married to Cameron. Mitchell is the more timid and sensitive of the two, always assuming that people are mocking him for his sexuality, while Cameron rolls his eyes, makes a quick excuse for Mitchell, and gets them both out of the situation. They have just adopted a new baby daughter from China and are learning all about parenting, whether it involves sleepless nights or dressing her up in ghetto fabulous costumes and taking her portraits.

Together they form a family that is at once at war while also loving each other very much. The result is absolute hilarity. The show is told through the documentary style that Parks & Recreation and The Office both use (in this case it's not clear why they're talking to the camera and on a purely structural level comes off as a cop-out, but on the other hand it TOTALLY works and that's where most of the humour comes from). I only tuned in the week Shelley Long made her appearance as dear old crazy mom, and we got a flashback of Jay's wedding to Gloria, which was HILARIOUS, and I was instantly hooked. I'm looking forward to catching up on the earlier episodes I missed, but I'm so happy to have found it.

If you haven't watched it yet, check it out. And if you're a fan of Arrested Development, you'll find this show is very similar in tone and humour. Here's a quick preview clip ABC sent out before its premiere:

What Makes a Good Pilot?

I wrote a version of this in the comments postings on my latest blog post on the V pilot, but I can't stop thinking about it, so I thought I'd expand it into a full column: What makes a good pilot? Many people are chattering about the pilot for V, saying based on it they'll watch it to the very end (if they loved it) or will never watch another episode (if they hated it) or will give it another shot (if they thought it was somewhere in the middle). But can we really tell from a pilot if a show is going to be any good?

The only way to really know if a pilot was any good is by looking at it in hindsight. But after much, MUCH experience with pilots, I'm not sure if they can be reliable indicators of how good a show is going to be. I've seen great pilots that basically used up all the writers' best ideas in one go, only to leave us with a limping series to follow. I've seen meh pilots that turned into amazing shows. I've seen good pilots for good shows, and good pilots for great shows, and good pilots for awful shows.

So let's look at some pilots that have (in hindsight) left a big impression on me. And for the most part, luckily, I can remember how I felt after watching them:

Lost: Possibly the best pilot episode I've ever seen. It introduced us to many characters, but didn't expect us to remember all of them, and instead focused on Jack and his relationship with the other characters. The special effects were extraordinary, and by creating utter confusion and fear in us by introducing a mysterious monster from the get-go, the show managed to make us as baffled and scared as the people on the island. What better way to align us with these characters. It was an extraordinary pilot that turned into an extraordinary show.

Buffy: It felt like a one-off episode, because it was the one that was meant to pull us in. It had great moments, like Giles plopping the Vampyr book on the library counter and Buffy backing away slowly, or like Xander overhearing the conversation, or Cordy almost being staked. It established the characters and we actually remembered their names by the end of it. But was it mindblowing when you put it in the context of what was to come? No. I don't remember being blown away by this episode, but it gave me just enough to want to keep watching, and by the middle of season 2, I was so in love with this show it hurt.

Angel: We'd just seen the end of season 3 of Buffy, and many fans were still hurting over the painful breakup between Buffy and Angel, so to see him in L.A., and to realize this was going to be less teenage angst and more adult loneliness was jarring. Cordy wasn't quite meshing, Angel was a little too broody, and the side plot of the evil vampire lawyers was boring. Most of season 1 turned into a monster-of-the-week show, but by the end of the season, the series had been lifted into a new stratosphere. By season 3, it was rivalling Buffy for my affections. I LOVE this show.

Heroes: WICKED pilot. Cheerleaders jumping off 10-storey buildings and healing. Bad guys. Good guys. Dreaming guys. Flying guys. The names were printed right on the screen so I knew who was who. The relationships were foggy, but I knew they'd be important. There were so many questions raised I couldn't wait for week 2. This show went on to prove itself again and again... until the finale. And after that it never, ever mustered the strength of its opening episodes, and instead fizzled into nothingness. What a waste.

The Sopranos: Mafia presence established. Check. Tony goes to the psychiatrist. Check. Tony has anger-management issues in front of an HMO building. Check. He's a family man, and a "family" man. But did it grab me? No. I moved onto the second episode hoping it would be better, and it was. Thus began my love-hate relationship with HBO pilots -- for the most part they're slow, and refuse to throw everything they've got into it. And for that, I now love them because I realize they're saving their best stuff for after the pilot.

Six Feet Under: One of my all-time favourite series. But the pilot? Great opening scene of a bus running into the funeral hearse. But then it dragged. Family established, quirkiness is there, but beyond that... kinda boring. I put it away and didn't watch the second episode for months. And WOW was I happy I did. Again, HBO used the opening to just introduce things. It was in the second and third episode that they pulled us in entirely.

The Wire: Another HBO outing, another opening with a LOT of information, characters who just didn't have my sympathy, humour that wasn't funny yet (because the inside jokeyness was yet to be established), and SO complicated it hurt my head... yet there was something there that really intrigued me and made me go straight to the second episode. There was no waiting this time. And it turned out to be the smartest show on television EVER, and one of the most compelling, heartbreaking, beautiful pieces of television of all time. (Anyone who's watched it knows I'm not exaggerating here.)

Glee: Fun, funny, and joyous, this show just seemed to completely nail it on the pilot and hasn't stopped. Unlike every other show on television -- possibly ever -- they rolled out the pilot on its own like a one-off movie and then sat back to see how everyone would handle it. And it proved to be the way to go. The characters have remained largely consistent, funny, and heartbreaking, and this show hasn't made a misstep yet, in my mind.

Flashforward: I really enjoyed the pilot of this one, but I wasn't head-over-heels in love with it. The second episode, on the other hand, was awesome, and then by the third episode it was dreary and hasn't picked up yet (here's hoping tonight's episode, the first one helmed completely by Goyer without anyone slowing him down, will prove to be the turning point). Too much was thrown at us in the pilot, and the rest of the series has just felt like a retread of everything we saw there.

Entourage: I hated hated hated that pilot. Hated it. I watched it, couldn't BELIEVE the hype about the show, and thought it was just a stupid stupid show for little boys who want to compare penis sizes and then brag about it. But a friend of mine whose opinion I really respect begged me to give it another chance and just get to the second episode, so I finally did (very begrudgingly) and was pleasantly surprised to see those same little boys being brought down, being made fools of, and then having to laugh at themselves, which they did. The show's had its ups and downs -- this season, sadly was a huge down -- but it's been a pretty good show, overall. And you just can't beat Ari Gold.

The Office: I was a big fan of the UK version of The Office, and I'll never forget interviewing David Denham for my Angel book (he played Skip the Wonder Demon on Angel) and we were chatting casually at the end of the interview and I asked him what else he was working on, and he said he was in a pilot of an American version of The Office. You can actually HEAR me lose interest on the tape. "Oh. Isn't that nice." (My hostility of US shows trying to adapt UK shows knew no bounds at the time.) And instead, he was featured in one of my favourite series of all time. (He played Pam's lug-headed fiancé.) But when I tuned in to the pilot, it was almost shot-for-shot the UK pilot, which apparently had been the idea, and then after that first episode they went off on their own. A REALLY stupid idea, in my opinion, because of how popular the UK one was here, and how many people -- like me -- who watched it and went, "Really? They're even doing the stapler in the Jell-O mold?!" and turned the channel. I didn't turn it back until the show was in season 2. And then I realized what I was missing...

Friends: I remember years and years ago tuning into this show for the first time, the night it first aired, and found it unfunny, staged, and ridiculous. The jokes fell flat, and there was only one moment where I smiled (Phoebe started going on and on about her mother committing suicide and mental illness running in the family or something and everyone sat there silent before Ross said, "The word you're looking for is, 'Anyway...'" and I remember thinking that was hilarious) but otherwise, I thought there was no way that show would survive. Boy, was I wrong there.

So... what does all of this tell us about V? Well, there are probably indicators in a show of whether it will be good or not. In every instance where I ended up liking the show a lot, you could tell it had a great cast and there was usually some moment in there that I liked so much I tuned in the following week. But then again, the same could be said of the shows that fell flat.

Do you think you can honestly tell if a show's going to be good on its first episode? Should shows be judged by their pilots? Or should the pilots only be judged in hindsight, in relation to what the show later became? While I loved the pilot of Lost, there's NO WAY I could have seen the topsy-turvy universe that was going to unfold later. There was no DI, no Ben, none of that juicy stuff in that pilot. But it had all the makings of that, and smartly, the writers didn't decide to throw everything at us from the outset.

What pilots do you remember being good or bad indicators of what the show would later become?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

V: The Pilot

Tonight was the premiere of V, the much-anticipated new ABC show starring Elizabeth Mitchell, or, as EW refers to her, the "recently departed Juliet." (Which irks me every time... we didn't see her die, and technically, if she died when hitting the bomb, then EVERYONE is dead. But I digress...) The show was off to a bit of a slow, methodical start, but I'll take it. After all, I find most HBO pilots are show and take some getting used to, and 90% of the time, they pay off. So I'm willing to let this show take its time to get going, as long as the momentum is up by the third episode or so (though someone just posted on one of my other posts that the show is going to air 4 episodes and then take a hiatus until March... true?)

Like Flashforward, V has a stellar cast, and one that I know from other shows. Aside from Juliet on Lost, it stars Inara from Firefly, Alpha from Dollhouse (or Wash from Firefly), Owen from Taken (or Tom from The 4400, whichever other alien drama you want to refer to), Carrie from 24, Kara from Smallville, Bailey from Party of Five... another eclectic cast that represent blasts from my past.

Now, unlike many viewers, I didn't actually watch the mid-80s miniseries (I was too young at the time and my parents wouldn't let me... I remember walking into the room when they were watching it -- and I was probably supposed to be in bed -- and this baby was born with lizard eyes, and then this creepy thing crawled out of the mom right after... it sorta stayed with me and traumatized me throughout my adolescence). So I didn't know much about the premise going into it. I enjoyed the tension, the mistrust, the questioning. And because, unlike with Flashforward, they've never touted the show as "the Next Lost," I'll refrain from trying to make comparisons to the show... Though it would be kinda funny to see Hurley tagging trees with "DI." (Dammit. I just can't help it.)

• The Christ statue falling, as if to suggest that religion no longer has a place in the world.
• The ubergeeks arguing about the alien ships being like Independence Day.
• Alan Tudyk.
• The idea that people would just get on a shuttle and fly up into the spaceship without questioning it at all. I totally buy that, actually.

Other stuff:
• So we see Anna speaking in different languages in different countries, but what if you were in NY and didn't speak English? Maybe we're to take that scene as suggesting that whatever language you speak, she was speaking to you in it?
• I guess people in Moscow were probably asleep. How many of them missed the fact there was an alien ship above their city?
• I asked my husband at one point (who had seen the miniseries when he was younger), "So... is the purpose of this that they want to breed with the humans?" And then we couldn't stop quoting Kit Ramsey from Bowfinger: "Alien love? ALIEN LOVE?! Who said anything about alien love?!"

The death of Alan Tudyk's character. FRAK. The moment they suggested there was an inside source telling people what was happening, I said out loud, "Please don't let it be Dale... please don't let it be Dale." I really liked the Flirty McFlirt scenes between him and Erica, and I was SO upset when he ate it. Will he be back? Do aliens regenerate or something? Even if they do, I just kinda wanted him to be the good guy for a bit. Wah.

Verdict: I'm definitely tuning in next week. What did you think of the pilot ep?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hannigan & Denisof: Today's Cute Overload

I just saw these pictures this morning and they made me howl with laughter... laugh out loud... chuckle heartily... smirk sardonically. (Whew... that works. I wouldn't want to come off as a complete loser for laughing at something I thought was funny!)

This is Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof taking their new baby daughter, Satyana, out for her first Halloween:

And just in case you're thinking Wesley didn't quite embrace the outfit the way Willow did, check out the shot from the back: