Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Heroics

Here's today's laugh. To all my British readers, I just want to say I am immensely jealous you have this series on your blessed isle. I first heard about this series from Denis McGrath, and want to thank him for finding it for me. So far, there's no network in Canada that has picked up the 6 episodes of season 1. So until I find it, I have to make myself happy with this unbelievably funny trailer. (Yes, I've watched it half a dozen times now.) I cannot WAIT to see this show!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Locke: The Chosen One?

There's been a lot of talk about Widmore and Ellie and Mrs. Hawking and Daniel (see my DocArzt post for my wacky attempt at speculation... and for the record, YES I was joking...) but there's also been talk about Locke and the compass. He declares to Richard that he's already their leader, which is an odd way of putting it. But the way Richard visits Locke when Locke is five years old actually mirrors another way a leader is chosen: The Dalai Lama.

I'm going to post an excerpt from my episode guide for "Cabin Fever" (from my Finding Lost: Season 4 book) where I go into detail about Richard putting the artifacts in front of Locke (oh, and for the record, some people have been commenting that clearly Locke should have chosen the compass, but he did. He picked the compass, the vial of sand, and the knife; that last object was the one that got Richard's disapproval).

The “test” that Locke undergoes with Alpert is also similar to the ritual used to find the Dalai Lama. When a Dalai Lama dies, the High Lamas search for the reincarnated Dalai Lama, which can take up to a few years. Once the boy has been located, the High Lamas visit his home and lay several artifacts before him, some of which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama (and therefore, if the boy really is the reincarnated one, already belong to him). If the boy chooses the correct items, the High Lamas take that as a sign, and they confirm the boy’s authenticity with the Living Buddhas and the Government of Tibet. Richard, acting as a sort of High Lama, comes to Locke’s house thinking he’s found the Chosen One, and is clearly disappointed to discover he was wrong, though deep down he knows Locke is still special.

At the time I wrote this, of course, I had no idea HOW Richard thought Locke was special. Now we know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lost 5.03: Jughead

Richard: “I said... Put the gun down, Widmore.”
Me: “WHAAAAAAAT???!!!”

And here I thought this week’s episode was going to be featuring Archie, Betty, and Veronica.

So get a load of my viewing experience. Locke leans in and tells Richard he’ll be born in two years... and a LOWE’S commercial cuts into the ABC feed, followed by a Stouffer’s ad, then three seconds of Wheel of Fortune, and then it suddenly cuts back to Charlotte and Daniel at the end. Like, what the FRAK?! I was SO angry. A huge thank-you to Benny, who emailed me and filled me in on everything I’d missed. From now on I’ll record two feeds at once.

Theresa Falls Up the Stairs...
Remember Boone’s story about his nanny? That he was a snot of a kid whose nanny would come every time he rang a bell, so he rang it constantly, forcing her to run up and down the stairs, until she tripped, fell and broke her neck? Then we had Ana Lucia’s mother, whose name was Teresa Cortez. And now... Daniel Faraday apparently destroyed the life of a woman named Theresa by giving her the Eloise experiment and not telling her to grab a constant along the way. But why is she comatose and not bleeding from the nose? Somehow she’s jumping through time, but not to the extent others are. Which brings us to...

Who the HELL is Daniel??!!
I mentioned last week that Daniel seemed a lot more lucid and confident and less jittery. Someone chalked it up to just being on the island longer, but I think it’s a lot more than that. His memory is so much better. Could his mind be de-aging as he jumps around in time? Is it possible that if he goes back to a time before the experiments, the effects of the radiation from those experiments and his time jumping are lessened? He was FAR more in control this week than we’ve ever seen him. But who is he?? Is it possible Desmond gave him the coordinates for his experiment in 1996, and Daniel took it even further, beyond consciousness time travel to actual physical time travel, and has been bouncing all over? Desmond did tell him in 1996 that he would end up on an island in the future. Could Dan have decided that must be a key and began searching for this island, going back in time and finding a much earlier version of it? Ellie recognizes him as “that guy with the bomb.” Presumably Dr. Chang knew who he was in the previous episode, which was why Daniel hid his face from him as he went by. Could Daniel be behind the original Dharma Initiative? Alpert thinks he and Charlotte and Miles are a group of scientists who have invaded this peaceful island and are trying to destroy it through their work, which is kind of how the Others perceived the DI when we saw Ben’s flashback in “The Man Behind the Curtain.” The land mines are attributed to him, he seemed to know something about the bomb and played along a little too easily... I watched the last few minutes of “The Lie” in enhanced mode (ugh) and they said Mrs. Hawking’s first name was Eloise, so apparently Daniel named his rat after his mother. Um... nice? So maybe if Desmond goes back in time and once again says, “I know about Eloise...” it’ll still work?

Locke’s Specialness
WOW. I loved the Locke stuff. Now I understand what Alpert meant when he said next time he met Locke he wouldn’t know who he was. Duh... I can’t believe I didn’t figure that one out. Of course it meant Locke would go back to a time before he was born. Now we know why Alpert visited Locke at such an early age, and why he was SO frustrated when Locke didn’t pass his Dalai Lama test. Now we know how Richard knew to go to the hospital when Locke was born. He was Richard’s leader, before he was born. FREAKY!!

Ye Olde Otherton
Before there were little camp bunkers in New Otherton, they had little tents. Richard was always there. They spoke Latin. And Juliet apparently knows a lot about the Others that she still hasn’t spilled. What is she waiting for? Why hasn’t someone debriefed that woman on EVERYTHING she knows? Why Latin? Is this a clue as to just how old the Others really are? Could Alpert go back centuries? Millennia?

Okay, “Jones” actually being Charles Widmore was the biggest squee moment of the episode for me. I love that he’s just sort of thrown on the clothes of some other guy he’s found, and it has a name patch that’s wrong. Widmore was a nasty sonofabitch from the beginning, breaking a colleague’s neck just for the hell of it. The way he says to Alpert that there’s no way Locke could possibly know the island better than he does suggests Widmore already had a very territorial hold over the island, and already saw it as his more than anyone else’s. In the present day, when Desmond walked into Widmore’s office I gasped loudly, yelled out loud, “NO!!! Don’t go there, what are you DOING??!!” A chill went down my spine as Widmore looked up and saw him. So, first, he knows that this guy was willing to blow up EVERYONE to find the island, probably figured out he was capable of crashing a plane and killing most of the people on board, was responsible for digging up 324 bodies and faking a plane crash site at the bottom of the ocean... and he walks into his office looking for Daniel’s mom? I think I would have found another way... I loved that he refused to answer Widmore’s question about Penny, but I don’t know why Widmore wasn’t even more direct about her safety, and simply said, “Ben Linus has vowed to kill her if he finds her. Don’t let him find her.” Widmore doesn’t know that Ben is WITH Faraday’s mom right now, and he’s just walked Penny right into the trap. Something doesn’t feel right about this. I think Widmore is more omniscient than that. Hmm...

Desmond’s a daddy! Apparently he and Penny got busy the moment they reunited, and she had a kid 9 months later (which should come as a surprise to NO ONE) so he’s a little over 2 right now. We find out at the end of the episode that Desmond has named him Charlie, as an homage to the man whose fate was in Desmond’s hands, who spoke to Penny and led her to the island, and who tried to save the rest of the survivors from contacting “Not Penny’s Boat.” What are the chances the kid time travels and actually IS Charlie Pace? Okay, I’m being facetious, but on Lost, you never know.

• Pretty much every moment I mentioned above.
• Juliet explaining Other 101.
• The look on Sawyer’s face when he sees the bomb.
• The look on Richard’s face when Locke says Jacob sent him.

Biggest “GASP!” Moments:
• Ellie recognizing Daniel at the beginning.
• Land mines and hydrogen bombs?! Suddenly the smoke monster seems like a cute puppy.
• Widmore has been funding Daniel’s research? It makes sense when you think about it... but it was still a shock.
• Charlotte bleeding from every orifice.

Hurley’s Numbers:
Department of Physics is Claredon 142-08.

Did You Notice?:
• It seemed a little strange that the doctor jumped right to the forceps at the beginning. They’re usually a last-ditch effort, since many babies have been seriously hurt by using them. And... how long exactly did Desmond let Penny labour before actually getting a doctor? Except on TV, babies don’t usually arrive seconds after a woman goes into labour.
• Ellie’s English accent is more fake than Widmore’s.
• Desmond in tinted sunglasses = HOT. Okay, also a little Barry Gibb, but I’m willing to overlook that.
• Richard Alpert tells Dan that they didn’t start this, they simply retaliated when they fired on them first. (“Listen, Dan... WE didn’t start the fire. It was ALWAYS burning since the world’s been turning.”) This would back up Ben’s contention that the Others are the good guys.
• Daniel admits his love for Charlotte, but I think that was a stupid thing to do. These people are potentially hostile, and so Daniel lets them know the only thing that means anything to him is sitting right there.
• The present time is 1954, exactly 50 years before the plane crash. I wonder if it’s 50 years to the day?
• Locke says he was born in Tustin, California. When we see his flashback, he’s working at the box company in Tustin. Looks like he always stayed in one spot.

So Many Questions...
• See above for many of them.
• What happened to Faraday’s lab? Was it destroyed out of anger by Faraday or another scientist, or did Oxford dismantle everything? Why is everything still there? Did someone get wind that his experiments actually had some merit and they don’t want to destroy it?
• When Locke acts at the beginning like he’s the only one who’s been time travelling, why doesn’t Sawyer set him straight?
• The secretary asks Daniel what year it was when he visited and he doesn’t know. But at the time he kept insisting it was 1996. How did he forget?
• The caretaker at Oxford says Des isn’t the first one poking around looking for Daniel. Who are the others? Widmore? Ben? Locke?
• Why doesn't Desmond mention the whole constant thing to Theresa's sister?
• What is that bomb? Daniel says they need to bury it... do they eventually bury it beneath the Swan station and that’s what causes that immense electromagnetic energy? Personally, I would think that would cause an immense amount of radiation, not electromagnetic energy... But I’m wondering if the bomb is still on the island somewhere, buried. A couple of seasons ago someone said that anything that is buried on the island has a way of resurfacing (which is something fans keep quoting with horror when talking about Nikki and Paulo... :::shudder:::), and I wonder if that bomb will be found again. Could it be hidden beneath The Tempest station and it’s what could be blowing up?
• Juliet tells Locke that Richard has “always” been here. From the very beginning of the island?
• Daniel tells Ellie that she looks so much like someone he used to know. Who? Theresa? His mom? Think about it: Ellie... Eloise?

UPDATE: I had added this last night to this post before publishing it, but I don't know if it didn't save or what... anyway, here is the trailer for next week's episode.

UPDATE #2: My DocArzt column just went live here. I was a little less serious than last week. ;)

UPDATE #3: Someone asked in the comments section what actually happened in the section I missed, since ABC cut away on them, too. (Also, someone suggested I record the A-Channel... last week I was recording both of them concurrently, and will go back to doing that in the future; the reason I had it on ABC is because I was watching it in HD, and the A-Channel doesn't offer an HD alternative.) Here's what happened (since I watched it this morning on the midnight feed I recorded last night):

Locke says he's going to be born in 1956, in Tustin, and tells Richard to come and see if he doesn't believe him. He stands up, and the sky begins to turn white, and he says, "Oh no, it's about to happen again!" Richard says, "What's about to happen?" Locke says he's going to be taken away, and tell him how to get off the island. Richard steps forward, and Locke says, "How do I get off the island?!" and suddenly everything flashes white, and the tents are gone and Locke is just standing in a clearing. Daniel, Charlotte, Miles, Sawyer, and Juliet are all standing there with him, and they all smile and look relieved that the baddies are gone. Daniel begins to untie Charlotte's rope, and then you probably saw the rest. ;)

Cute Overload

Oh, how I love Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof. Check out this adorable picture of the two of them last night at a HIMYM screening.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

Hey all: Just a quick note that I'm going to be on CBC Radio One Wednesday morning between 9:30 and 10 (somewhere between there for about 15 minutes). I'm on a panel discussion with Denis McGrath about breaking up with your favourite television shows, and how difficult that can be. It's on Jian Ghomeshi's show, Q.

Check out Radio One on 99.1FM in Toronto, and 93.5FM in the London area, and 88.1FM in Vancouver (outside of Canada you can also listen to it online here).

Lost Parody: Heroes

I posted the trailer for the Fine Bros. new season of Lost parodies, and I watched it a few times and saw the cheerleader pop up, and I said it was Buffy, even though I knew I'd never seen an action figure of Buffy dressed like that. And, sure enough, I was wrong. It was Claire, from Heroes. The first episode of season 2 has been posted, and Lost meets Heroes!

The Wrestler

There's been a lot of back and forth discussion about the Best Picture nominees in this year's Oscar race (usually I post something about the nominees, but they were announced the morning after Lost's premiere... I was a little busy!) Critics and bloggers alike are asking: Is Benjamin Button worthy of 13 nominations or is it a rehash of Forrest Gump? (I plan to blog on that point separately soon.) Why was The Reader nominated over Revolutionary Road? Why did The Dark Knight get the shaft? Is Slumdog Millionaire worth all the buzz about it? Where was Doubt? Milk and Frost/Nixon were both brilliant movies, but... Best Picture?

I've seen it all. But rarely has anyone mentioned the oversight of what I now think is the year's best film: The Wrestler. I saw it last night when my husband and I went out to see it, and... wow.

First, some background. Growing up, my brother and I were huge wrestling fans. The year of the big Wrestlemania match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant was the year I was the perfect age to come into it. I saw the British Bulldogs live and fell in love with them instantly; I saw Randy "Macho Man" Savage and wanted to be Miss Elizabeth. My love of wrestling was deep. All of my (younger, male) cousins were into it, too. I remember one weekend at Grandma's where we were all playing an innocent game of Charades, and my brother and I took the stage and he immediately threw me up into a piledriver move (thankfully, without finishing it). My grandma gasped in horror while my cousins cheered and screamed, "PILEDRIVER!!" One of the youngest cousins had a ton of the action figures (my brother had them, too, and I borrowed them and put them in my Barbie mansion as security guards) and said, at the age of 4, that he was going to grow up to become a professional wrestler. And he did. He's appeared on WWE a few times and does various circuits as a really convincing heel. I LOVE that he set what appeared to be a fantasy goal and actually went for it.

The publishing house where I work as an editor is the publisher of the largest line of wrestling books in the world. If you own a book on wrestling, there's an 80% chance we published it. I've met a lot of wrestlers as a result, and I've proofread and edited so many of these books — memoirs of wrestlers telling behind the scenes stories of the good old days and how their lives were ruined by wrestling; announcers talking about the business and politics behind everything; fans writing about their favourite moments in wrestling — that the wrestling lingo is second nature to me. I went down to a sales conference in NY where I presented our titles to our sales reps (who then sell them into the bookstores) and I was presenting a wrestling title and talking about the ways the wrestlers hurt themselves. One rep finally blurted out, "But it's fake!" I looked at him and said yeah, but these guys REALLY hurt themselves. The chair whacks are real. Thunking your head off the mat after jumping off the ropes is real. Hiding a razorblade in your wrist tape so you can slice your forehead and make it look like the other guy hit you is real (that last bit came as news to everyone in the room... I thought it was common knowledge). The fact that so many of them are arthritic or in wheelchairs or dead by the time they're 50 is real.

And then we come to The Wrestler. The hype behind this movie, directed by Darren Aronofsky, is all due to Mickey Rourke. In the 80s, Rourke was beautiful. He was touted as the next big thing. He looked like James Dean, he acted like De Niro. With roles in movies like Rumble Fish (oh how I love my SE Hinton movies and books), Diner, Body Heat, and The Pope of Greenwich Village, he caught the attention of critics and fans alike. He was perfect: he had a look that directors would die for, and was a serious tour de force onscreen. He had an adorable smile that would have teenage girls crushing on him, but a brooding side that attracted older demographics.

And then... he threw it all away. He didn't want the attention. He didn't like people talking about his looks, which he saw as a curse. He started getting arrested and becoming difficult on sets. He refused to learn lines and wanted to do more of a method style. He showed up late (if he showed up at all). He began turning down career-changing roles in films (Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop and Tom Cruise's part in Rain Man, to name a couple). Directors referred to him as a nightmare and a disaster. Suddenly the A-list parts were gone, and he started taking second-rate movies. But he screwed up on those, too. When he finally had an argument with a director saying he wanted his beloved dog to appear in the scene with him and was thrown off the set, that was pretty much it. He was essentially blacklisted in Hollywood.

So... he took up professional boxing, and apparently got quite good at it. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the reporter asked him if it was a subconscious way of destroying the good looks he hated so much, and Rourke pauses for a moment and slyly smiles and says maybe. His face became bloated from drinking, drugs, and being hit so many times in the head. His facial bones were broken. Reports came out saying he'd had botched plastic surgery (he denies having any). His lips appeared very swollen, as if he'd had a collagen injection that didn't quite work. He started to appear in small roles, and anyone who did bother to mention him just referred to what a waste he'd become. Tarantino loved him and offered him Bruce Willis's role in Pulp Fiction. Rourke turned it down.

The comeback finally happened when he starred in 2005's Sin City, an amazing adaptation of a comic book that retained the comic-book feel, where Rourke's face was heavily made up. By hiding his face, it allowed him to show the world that the acting chops were still there, and man, did he ever come through. But again, following that film he turned down anything he saw as a blatant sell-out, until Darren Aronofsky stepped forward.

Aronofsky had this idea for a film about a wrestler, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, who had been huge in the 80s, and now, 20 years later, lives the life of most wrestling stars from that era -- broke, washed-up, and in a lot of pain, playing tiny wrestling circuits to make a few bucks on weekends. The studio wanted Nicolas Cage in the lead role, and originally he was attached to the film, but Aronofsky insisted that Rourke should play it. Studios laughed at him, he decided to fund it separately, and Cage graciously stepped aside. Enter Rourke. This wasn't an Oscar-type movie. This wasn't going to be a blockbuster, and it wasn't going to change his life. But he saw in the script his own story, in a way, and he went for it. Aronofsky told him in no uncertain terms that he'd better not eff this one up or he'd be gone. Rourke respected that, and the result is this movie.

And what a movie it is. For the first few minutes of the film, the camera is firmly planted behind Ram, and we never see his face. This could be a young wrestler in the ring (Rourke's body is amazing), but when he steps out of the ring, the persistent cough would suggest otherwise. After the show a couple of young men ask for his autograph, saying they'd been big fans of his years ago, and we finally see the lined, bloated, mangled face of Robinson. In the following scenes, by barely saying a word, Rourke projects the physical pain this man lives with, his isolation, and the fact that he's still living off accomplishments he had years earlier.

In the 80s, many wrestlers ascended to full-scale stardom, but few were paid their worth. They didn't see residuals for action figures or video games (the scene where Robinson asks a neighbour kid to play the Nintendo game with The Ram vs. Ayatollah is a wonderful example of that... and a really heartbreaking scene). If you've seen this movie (or want to... and you should) and haven't seen the documentary "Beyond the Mat," I'd encourage you to see it. In that movie we see Jake The Snake Roberts, who at one point was a huge star in the WWF. Fifteen years later, he's washed up, has no money, and is searching for his daughter whom he'd abandoned when he was a star. I think that documentary might have been the idea behind this film, since Robinson also tries to reconnect with a daughter he'd left so many years earlier. Roberts was very unhappy with his portrayal in the documentary, but the scenes speak for themselves. Those independent circuits can be very depressing places, with young go-getters on their way up, wide-eyed and thrilled to be fighting with their heroes, who happen to be has-beens who have hit rock bottom, living from one cash appearance to the next.

The movie is about how fleeting youth can be. Robinson tries to cheat death throughout the movie, pushing his body to do things it's no longer meant to do (and was never meant to do, even when he was young -- there's one scene with a weapons match that is horrific). The woman he connects with, played by Marisa Tomei, works at a strip bar, and now in her early 40s, is finding her g-string isn't filled with as many dollar bills as it used to. Society loves the young, and whether it's a one-time wrestling god now shuffling around behind a deli counter serving customers, or a one-time sought-after stripper now practically begging for someone to pay attention to her, these people are living in those past memories while trying to eke out an existence in the present. They both made mistakes in their past, and when Robinson tries to make his right, by visiting the daughter he'd abandoned years earlier (Rachel Evan Wood) to see if he can start a new relationship, what he finds is both devastating and touching.

This is not a happy film, I'll warn you (if you've seen anything by Aronofsky -- Pi, Requiem for a Dream -- you won't expect it to be). But it's a beautiful, amazing film, and the acting is like nothing I've seen all year. I thought Heath Ledger was absolutely brilliant in The Dark Knight, and it's one of those performances that is NOT overrated: it deserves every kudo it got, and had nothing to do with the fact it was a posthumous performance. Mickey Rourke's performance in this is similarly groundbreaking. I thought Sean Penn was amazing in Milk, but while I thought Penn breathed life into an incredible man, I still think his best performance was in Dead Man Walking. Rourke's showing in The Wrestler is the performance of a lifetime. And the movie is a sadly accurate portrayal of the forgotten members of our society... those who continue to hear the cheers in their head that are long gone, those who dwell in the could've-been, those who sit at little tables at the legion hall on weekends wondering if someone will walk in and pay eight bucks for their autograph, those who put their bodies through such a rigorous beating that it gives up on them. And those who are so filled with regrets they'll do anything to make things right.

I hope Rourke wins the Oscar for this one -- for the performance, and not for the story behind it (I told it simply because it's fascinating to me). We probably won't see him in A-list movies even if he does, because I believe his story has been as much about his own choices as other people choosing not to work with him. But I hope there are a lot of indie parts lined up for him, and that his potential comes to fruition. Let's hope Rourke gets that second chance The Ram spends the film desperately searching for.

Is Nothing Sacred?!

Michael Ausiello at EW is reporting that Ugly Betty is suddenly and surprisingly on the bubble for cancellation.


Now, I don't blog about Ugly Betty nearly enough, but I really love this show. It's fun, I THOUGHT it had good ratings, and some of the dialogue is sharp as a tack (mostly Mark's hysterically funny lines). This season has been the year of the assistant, where both Mark and Betty seem to prove themselves again and again to be the true backbones of the company. Mark has saved Wilhelmina's ass repeatedly, just as Betty's always done with Daniel. This past week's episode was possibly a season high -- in the wake of her father's heart attack the previous week, Betty is away from the office for two weeks, and when she returns realizes she cannot juggle a job and deal with what's happening at home. Meanwhile Wilhelmina has begun a relationship with Connor that finds them doing the nasty at quite inopportune times, and when Wilhelmina once again blames Mark for her screwup and hands him an expensive bauble for his humiliation, he fights back, and it was a great scene (even if he ends up giving in and slinking away).

But the real standout scene was the one between Hilda and Betty. Hilda finally confronts Betty for being at a party and turning off her cellphone when Hilda was frantically trying to reach her to tell her that Papi was in the ambulance. Betty tells her she wasn't around when their mother got really sick. Hilda says she's lived with the guilt of that for many years, and is trying to make a go of it, taking care of Papi, working out of the home, etc. For several weeks I've been thinking Hilda is being unnecessarily mean to Betty over Betty's demanding job and the way it's pulled her away from the family, but in this episode you finally see the sacrifices BOTH women have made, and it was a showdown between two incredible actresses. As much as I've appreciated how much time Betty's had to give to her job, I was very happy that family won out over career. It was a beautiful moment.

Of course, the show's also had its share of long-dead brothers suddenly coming back to life as transsexual sisters, but hey, it's what keeps us guessing!

According to Ausiello (thanks to fb for the link), Betty is being benched as of March 26 and they're putting another show in its time slot to see how it plays instead. Then they'll run the remainder of Betty's season in the summer. This always spells disaster.

What happened? I thought Betty was doing OK in the ratings. I realize it's not exactly the same successful show it was in season 1, but it still has a very devoted following, and after an amazing article I just read in EW about the massive, massive success of the telenovellas in Mexico, I thought Ugly Betty might have an even bigger audience. Maybe not.

Here's hoping Mark's barbs live to pierce another day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Joss Coming to NYC

In anticipation of Dollhouse beginning on February 13 (squeeeeeee!!), Joss Whedon is going to be appearing at the New York Comic Con. According to this article, he will be screening the pilot of Dollhouse, and will then sign autographs immediately following the show.

Drat. Just another reason why I need to move to NYC. Sigh...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lost 5.01/5.02 Revisited

Well, just about 100 comments later, there are lots of things to discuss about Wednesday night's episode! I posted my immediate episode guide after a couple of viewings here (and then a later post here), but now we've had time to mull it over and it seems there are a few things people want to talk about more than others.

A couple of people have mentioned Sayid's leg. During the dishwasher fight, the guy kicks Sayid's leg, and his leg flies directly out behind him, straight, and the pant leg comes up slightly and some heard a ping sound and thought his ankle looked like an aluminum leg. I've slowed it right down, as have a couple of other viewers, but it's really fuzzy and hard to see, even in HD. My thinking was that it was just a weird move he made, that the ping was actually the clink of the dishwasher, and that his ankle really does happen to be skinny. He doesn't walk with a limp, and if he had a prosthetic leg I'm sure there would be a difference in the way he walked.

When does Daniel talk to Desmond? Lefty pointed out that Desmond never actually left the hatch for any reason, and it would have been Inman who answered the door. How did Daniel know it would be Desmond behind the door? It could have been any time from the moment the bunker was built to the point where it im/ex-ploded. I'm thinking Daniel sees something in his journal reminding him that he talked to Desmond at some point, how could he have been sure that this was the time? Crissy then asked why Desmond only had the memory now, rather than having it all along? After all, if Daniel was always destined to talk to Desmond, didn't that mean that the incident always would have happened? Is that just ease of storytelling, or is it something more? Did Daniel just change history despite saying no one else could? Or does the memory get triggered after the event in the past changed?

Widmore appearing at the airport. Humanebean points out that if the security check on Sun's passport triggered an alarm and Widmore was called in, it would suggest he's the man behind Oceanic Airlines. A few people have agreed with this notion, and, like Joshua posted, I, too, have assumed for some time that Widmore is the man behind Oceanic. Oceanic KNOWS that plane at the bottom of the ocean is fake, but they're going along with it. Because you wouldn't want to show up the CEO. Widmore purchased the plane through a shell company (though, as I pointed out in my book, a close look at the invoice shows the shell company is Widmore Industries, which isn't exactly stealthy) so it technically wouldn't be traced back to him. Did he found Oceanic Airlines, as joshua suggests, as an airline that flies planes near the coordinates of the island, hoping one of them would get sucked into the island's electromagnetic field?

Why does Sun show Kate a baby picture of Ji Yeon and not a toddler pic? I joked that the actor who'd played Ji Yeon in that episode was perhaps contracted for 2 appearances on the show. But in all seriousness, as a mom, if I meet someone I haven't seen in 5 years, the first thing I do is tell them I'm a mom, and then I show a baby picture, and then I show a pic of my 4-year-old now. But I think it's something more than that. As I responded to the poster, it seems to be deliberate that we haven't seen Ji Yeon. We heard her on the phone to Mommy in the finale last year, and then she appears only as a baby here. Are they trying to hide what she'll look like?

Is Mrs. Hawking Daniel Faraday's mom? All signs point to yes. :) And I think that Foucault's Pendulum thingie would say so, too. (I still love watching that final scene for the big whooshing sound the pendulum makes... I wonder if that's where they got the whooshing sound to indicate the time change?)

The whispers in the jungle: one anonymous poster asked if it could be time travellers talking and somehow two time periods are overlapping, where we can't see them, we can just hear them. I thought that last season when the time travelling became a bigger deal (and I suggested it in my book) and it is sort of suggested in Philip K. Dick's "Valis," the book that John Locke gives to Ben last season when he's got him locked in the basement. In that book, a man living in present-day Los Angeles begins seeing an ancient civilization faintly superimposed over the LA landscape, and it's because one time period is breaking into another in a way. (That's a very watered-down description of what is really happening... I recommend you read it.)

Who are the guys with the flaming arrows? I suggested maybe the Arrow station is called that because they defend it with... arrows. Was it the Others? But the guys in the jumpsuits? I took them to be Dharma because they have the same nametags, but Benny suggested it's a group older than Dharma who had been on the island first. Who do you think they were? I was thinking that it's interesting in retrospect that they're British... like Widmore. Any connection? Or could there be any connection to Charlotte? Could the soldiers have been shooting the arrows, or maybe it was an early incarnation of the Others shooting the arrows, and the British soldiers were there.

Lauren suggested that Locke is not, in fact, dead, but has simply been paralyzed by the same spider that attacked Nikki and Paulo. They appeared to be dead, but weren't, and if Locke had been given a higher dosage, he could stay asleep for much longer. It would explain why there were two references to the DunderTwins in that episode. It's a very valid theory!

And I laughed and laughed and laughed at Richard's blunt line to Locke when he made his comment about the compass to John (It... points north, John), and then somehow forgot to add it into my highlights. I'm glad so many people mentioned it as their highlight, though. I think I'll purposely leave funny lines out every week now just so everyone else will recite them!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lost 5.01: Because You Left/5.02: The Lie

And... welcome to season 5! Sorry to take so long to get this post up. Two hours (which I have to watch twice to write these) makes for a lot more work. I hope you're still out there. Hello? Hello? In case you missed my previous posts, my season 4 guide is now available (I have copies to send out if you want an early one; it should be in stores in about another month).

So, as always, I will be posting my early thoughts on the episodes following each week's new installment. I encourage all posts except spoilers. If I occasionally speculate on something that I think might happen, whether I'm right or wrong please don't post any spoilers. People expect a spoiler-free forum to discuss, and I hate them myself. Your discussion of the episodes is my highlight of the week (after the episode itself, of course) and I can't wait to start it all up again! I'll be on here frequently on Thursdays following the evening's new ep, and look for my weekly columns on DocArzt's site.

Lost: 5.01 “Because You Left”

I have to write up two episodes tonight, so I’ll leave the lead-ins very short and focus on the points in the episodes. Next week I’ll have a much longer opening to each episode. “Because You Left” touches on every character and what happened to them after we last saw them (with the exception of poor Lapidus, who apparently isn’t deemed important anymore).

• Written by Darlton.
• Hurley to Sayid: “You know, maybe if you ate more comfort food, you wouldn’t have to go around shooting people.”
• Hurley: “I need a cool code name.”
• Sayid flipping the guy onto his back into the dishwasher. SO awesome. I’m totally going to use that if anyone breaks into my home.
• “Son of a....[white light, blinding noise, time travel]...bitch.”
• Sawyer saying he’s the ghost of Christmas Future.
• Miles: “That chick likes me.”
• Faraday and Desmond together again. I loved it!

Biggest “GASP!” Moments:
• Widmore giving Sun the verbal smackdown about not giving him enough respect.
• The dude getting flipped into the dishwasher! That elicited the biggest gasp outta me.
• “You’re gonna have to die, John.” Um... I’m sorry, WHAT?!

Hurley’s Numbers:
The clock at the beginning said 8:15. When the construction worker hands Chang a sonogram of the cave, the frozen donkey wheel is located between 15 and 16 feet in.

Did You Notice?:
• This is the second season premiere in a row that is titled after a line Ben says.
• The opening of the episode was the same as the opening of seasons 2 and 3 – record playing a song from a few decades ago, in a place with people we don’t recognize immediately.
• The opening sequence was hinted at by the video that Darlton showed at the Comic-Con this past summer. We saw Marvin Candle filming a movie saying they were going to die and talking about his baby, and you could clearly hear Daniel behind the camera. I believe he’s gone back in time to find exactly this energy that Candle is coveting. If he goes back in time to procure it, it allows him to be time travelling in the present. Perhaps the energy gave him the idea for the coordinates that he told Desmond to give him in the 90s... so confusing, but so fun.
• The song Candle puts on is Shotgun Willie by Willie Nelson. Lyrics are:

Shotgun Willie sits around in his underwear
Bitin' a bullet, pullin' out all of his hair
Shotgun Willie has got all of his family there

You can't make a record if you ain't got nothin' to say
You can't make a record if you ain't got nothin' to say
You can't play music if you don't know nothin' to play

Well, John T. (Fours) was workin' with the Klu Klux Klan
The six foot five John T was a hell of a man
Made a lot of money sellin' sheets on the family plan

• The record skips before Nelson sings “you ain’t got nothing to say.”
• Marvin Candle is a complete dick all the time on the sets of these orientation films. What’s his problem?
• Marvin Candle is not his real name (as we discovered in the video at ComicCon); one of the workers calls him Dr. Chang.
• Originally the top of the Orchid station looked like it was going to be rather state-of-the-art. Compared to the decrepit wooden shell of a place we saw at the end of last season, this building looked like it was the beginning of something big on the island.
• Time really has no meaning on the show anymore. The only time we have a true flashback is the beginning, and we hear that sound of air rushing that signals we’re moving to a flashforward or flashback. The Oceanic 6 story is told in the future, the island is told in the past (and further past, and future), and the show treats the stories like they’re all happening simultaneously.
• Frogurt is on the raft with Daniel. (We saw him being a jerk to Hurley in one of the mobisodes that appeared before season 4.) Here’s hoping we have a snark showdown between him and Miles.
• In case you’re wondering why Sawyer doesn’t know Daniel, he was in New Otherton when Daniel was around, and didn’t actually meet him in season 4.
• The ceiling of Kate’s bedroom has the crossbeams like the ceiling in Walt’s stepfather’s house and the ceiling of Paik’s house when Sun was a child and broke the glass ballerina.
• Sawyer asks Daniel for his shirt, even though Daniel is probably 40 pounds lighter than he is, as if this is his way of asserting his superiority over Daniel.
• Daniel mentions the island is skipping like a record, just like the record begins skipping at the beginning of the episode.
• When the Beechcraft is coming down on the island, it’s being trailed by black smoke, which is obviously the engine conking out, but it also looked a little bit like Old Smokey.
• When Widmore and Sun are in the holding cell, the clock reads 9:22. That’s the date of the original Oceanic crash.
• Daniel seemed far less jittery and more lucid in this episode than ever before. It’s like the island became unstuck in time like he’s been, and now he feels more confident and at home. Suddenly he’s talking about the Dharma Initiative and what he knows and he remembers everything. This is the guy who couldn’t remember three playing cards moments after seeing them.
• Richard Alpert seemed to take Daniel’s place, knowing exactly how things were moving, talking really quickly but not making much sense, handing John a “constant” in the form of the compass and telling him he won’t recognize him in the past, the same way Daniel told Desmond to mention “Eloise.”
• Richard hands Locke the same compass that he put in front of him when Locke was 5 years old in “Cabin Fever.”
• Daniel insists to Sawyer that there are rules to time travel, just as Chang insisted at the beginning of the episode that there are strict rules that cannot be broken when it comes to harnessing time. Daniel’s clearly learned from him.
• Charlotte’s nose is bleeding like Minkowski’s and Desmond’s did before Minkowski died and Desmond almost did.
• Desmond asks, “Are you him?” which is the first thing he asks Locke in “Man of Science, Man of Faith.”
• We didn’t see Lapidus in this episode. He’s pretty much the only character we don’t see.

So Many Questions...
• What is Chang’s backstory? How did he know about the energy on the island? Why does everyone show him so much respect?
• Did Daniel travel back in time to the island? He looks like present-day Daniel, not younger Daniel like the one we saw in “The Constant.”
• How does the island move and the camp not exist? Why doesn’t the island exist in the present? (i.e. when Ben moved the island, it disappeared physically, yet Daniel suggests it’s moving temporally... if it’s moving through time, wouldn’t it still also exist in all the other times?)
• Why did the Others disappear and leave Locke alone? When Sawyer and company travel through time, they travel together and don’t break apart, but the Others don’t stay with Locke. Are they living in a different time than regular people? Is that why Richard never ages?
• Why were Rose and Bernard separated, but Juliet and Sawyer stayed together? Did it have anything to do with Rose’s cancer? Notice both she and Locke were separated from others when it happened, and both had been healed by the island.
• Where do all the people in the raft disappear to when Daniel joins the others on the island? Did he just ditch them in the jungle?
• Who are the people from Agostini and Norton? Who sent them and wanted blood samples from Kate and Aaron? Widmore? Jack? Ben?
• Why did Locke go back to the time where the Beechcraft crashed onto the island? Is there a reason?
• Daniel says you’re not supposed to meet people in the past you didn’t meet before. So did Locke break the rules by meeting Ethan? Was the gunshot wound retribution for him breaking those rules?
• Does Sun want Ben dead because he’s the other person she blames for Jin’s death?
• Why is Sayid no longer working for Ben? He warns Hurley against him.
• Who were the men waiting for Sayid in his safe house? Why was he able to keep fighting so hard despite all the tranquilizer darts in him?
• Does the island jump way into the future at one point? Locke enters their camp and there were heavy cobwebs all over everything.
• How did Richard Alpert know what was going to happen next? Is he actually some sort of manifestation of the island and not a person at all?
• Is Locke going to kill himself??
• Did the people in the Swan station hear Sawyer banging on the door even if they didn’t open it?
• Why is Charlotte’s nose bleeding and no one else’s is? Will they all start having these effects and she’s the first to get it?
• What did Daniel see in his journal? That Desmond was his constant?
• Will the island jumping in time be a way for us to see some deceased characters? Will Rousseau’s story, for example, be told when the characters encounter her in the past?

Lost: 5.02 “The Lie”

It’s the Creepy Clock Lady!
The moment we flashed to that room with the giant pendulum swinging I said to my husband, “That’s Mrs. Hawking!” But I didn’t realize she was going to be in cahoots with Ben. I thought she was going to be Daniel Faraday’s mother, and that this was the woman Desmond was on his way to Oxford to meet up with (wouldn’t THAT be an interesting meeting!) But now the comment she made in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” echoes again, when she tells Desmond that “we” will all die. Does she mean the Others? There’s this network of people Ben is working with to get back to the island, and she’s heading up the team, it appears. I can’t wait to see more of her.

• Hurley saying the island disappeared with a “bloop.”
• “Welcome back, Dr. Wizard.” “I think it’s MISTER Wizard.” “Shut up.”
• The t-shirt Hurley picks out at the variety store.
• Watching Neil writhe in pain. Does that make me a bad person? It was just so bleedin’ funny.
• Mrs Reyes: “Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?!”
• Sun sweetly telling Kate that she doesn’t blame her. And then saying, “So... how’s Jack?”
• Hurley telling his mom that Sayid is a good man, but also has a double life where he does crazy ninja moves and spy stuff.
• Hurley’s truth being WAY crazier than the lie, and the look on his mom’s face as he told it. It’s the look I get from non-Lost fans when I start talking about the show. (I feel your pain, Hurley.) But the best part of this scene was that Hurley loves his ma so much he can’t lie to her, and she loves him so much she believes him.
• Hurley throwing the Hot Pocket at Ben. HAHAHA!!
• “I’m a murderer, I killed 4 people. Three people. However many people are dead, I killed them all!”
• The way Locke slumps out of the jungle and then formally says hello to Sawyer and Juliet. “James. Juliet. Nice to see ya.”

Biggest “GASP!” Moments:
• Hurley telling Sayid that someday he’ll need his help and won’t get it. Whoa, dude.
• Ana Lucia... the weird thing is, the moment we saw her torso as it got out of the car, I totally thought it was going to be her.
• “Libby says hi.” Ouch. That was SUCH a painful thing to say.
• Sun was the person Kate was going to see. I was so convinced it was going to be Cassidy (but maybe she’s too busy being Matt Saracen’s mom right now).
• Frogurt getting a fire dart in the chest. Not only did it literally make me gasp, but it was like an homage to Nikki and Paulo: they were super annoying and it took 13 episodes to get rid of them. Frogurt? Just a few scenes. AWESOME.
• Hurley being the only person strong enough to stand up to Ben and finding a quick way to get away from him.
• Ben is in cahoots with the creepy clock lady, Mrs. Hawking.

Hurley’s Numbers:
Ben pulls number 342 at the butcher shop.

Did You Notice?:
• I ended the previous episode by saying we don’t see Lapidus and then, voila, Lapidus. And his entire role is to carry a couple of beers up to the cabin where they’re chatting and to say he’ll go along with anything. Is he being written off the show? You’d think he’d be an important link to the island and an easy target for Widmore.
• The beer he was carrying had a skull and crossbones on it and was called Jekyll Island Red Ale.
• In this episode that whooshing sound returns between scenes, maybe because the island is definitely in the past and the Oceanic 6 are definitely in the future.
• Hurley’s face changes subtly when Jack says people will think he’s crazy. Jack seemed to know the exact button to push, and pushed it.
• Wouldn’t Bernard know how to start fire without any matches? He was part of the tail section, who had nothing and somehow survived for 48 days without it.
• Ben storing things in the vent of the hotel room was very No Country for Old Men of him.
• Ben doesn’t answer Jack when he asks if Locke is really dead.
• Papa Reyes is watching Expose, that show Nikki starred in.
• Casa Reyes has the tackiest decor ever. I LOVE it.
• When Ben tells Jill to cut Jack some slack, it just might be the first time we’ve ever seen him defend Jack in any way.
• Charlotte is forgetting things the same way Daniel was.
• Miles doesn’t just talk to human ghosts, but animal ones, since he found the boar probably by sensing him, and the boar somehow “told” him that he had been dead 3 hours.
• Hurley looks like he’s lost a LOT of weight. When he was looking out the window and asking his dad if the cops were on a stakeout, he looked considerably smaller in that polo shirt. They’re going to have to put padding on the guy soon if he keeps this up.
• Hurley manages to sum up the entire series in about 30 seconds... THAT is a feat in itself.
• The woman Ben meets with is the woman who lectures Desmond on course correction in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” explaining that you can’t go back to change the past, something that echoed in the previous episode with Dr. Chang and Daniel both insisting on the same rule.

So Many Questions...
• This flashforward would take place in December 2007/January 2008. Was gas 3.22 in the US at that time?
• Why isn’t Aaron sitting in a car seat? He’s too little for just a booster.
• What exactly was Ben storing in that vent? He handles it very carefully when putting it into his suitcase. Is it a travel-sized Frozen Donkey Wheel?
• Okay, “Ana Lucia” tells Hurley to take Sayid to someone he trusts, and he takes him to... his DAD? The man who abandoned him when he was a child and only came back when he thought he was a millionaire? The guy who was happily living high on the hog while his son was missing and presumed dead, and is now living happily high on the hog while his son is wasting away in a mental institution? THAT guy? Sigh...
• Who is the woman working in the butcher shop? An Other that is off-island? Why is Ben working with her? Why would she know about Locke?
• Why isn’t the island jumping around in time anymore?
• Why has Sun come to see Kate? Was it really just to tell her she didn’t blame her, or is this part of her quest to find Ben? Find Kate first, then find Jack, and he’ll be with Ben.
• What did Sawyer step on? He’s run around in that jungle barefoot countless times, and now he steps on something? Is it so his character can go into septic shock in the next few episodes and Juliet will valiantly save him and that will be a new ship? Hmm...
• What is Mrs. Hawking doing to try to find the island? Was that Time’s Pendulum swinging in the room?
• Why does she give Ben 70 hours? What will happen if they don’t make it back?

Oops: Ben blows out the match twice at the end of the episode.

UPDATE: My DocArzt column just went live here.

A Momentous Occasion

Today is an historic day... no, not for the reasons you're thinking. Yes, today is Obama's first day in office and his inauguration was amazing and his speech was inspiring and I felt like a witness to history and it's a new day.

Yadda yadda yadda. ;)

Now on to the IMPORTANT stuff (oh, KIDDING, you know I love him. But I don't want to alienate those 47% of readers I keep pissing off, according to one statistician anonymous commenter). Yes, folks, LOST begins again tonight!! I was going to use this space to type up a lengthy recap of season 4 for anyone who hasn't watched it seven times through in the fall (slackers). But thanks to two of my readers, Lauren and Becky, I don't have to! This is season 4 in about four and a half minutes, and it's really well done and I had to share (if the embedded video doesn't work, go here):

Also, I wanted to use this space to announce I'm officially a columnist on DocArzt's site, and will be posting a column over there every Thursday (based on our discussion, people, so chime in and help me out on this!!) which Doc wanted to call What Nikki Noticed (har). His announcement is here, and I'll be posting a link here every week to send you over to read it. There will also be columns by Marc Oromaner, who wrote "The Myth of Lost," and J. Wood, whose Lost column at Powell's is a favourite of many. I'm so thrilled to be part of this group of guys. I hope to do my part as the lone gal.

Tune in tonight after tonight's episode for an episode guide to the season's first two episodes! WHEEEEEEE!!

Dirk Benedict Has Lost His Frakkin' Mind

So... last week I was having dinner with a dear, dear friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in ages, and asked her if she was going to be watching BSG on Friday. "Oh, I don't watch it," she said. "I can't fathom a female Starbuck." As I pleaded with her to watch this show, insisting that regardless of whether Starbuck was a man, woman, or unicorn, this show was LEAGUES above the original, she emphatically shook her head and said her heart lay with the 1970s version of the show.

Her comments immediately brought to mind a quote in the book I worked on once, called Frak You (a companion guide to BSG) where the author quoted Dirk Benedict as saying there was something seriously wrong with a female Starbuck, and it would never work. Despite looking happy in this picture here -- with Katee Sackhoff, at a *cough* Starbucks... ba dum bum bum -- he's very very VERY bitter about the reimagined BSG (probably because he wasn't offered a part in it) and isn't afraid of saying so.

My friend Chris just sent me a link to Dirk's latest rant about "Stardoe," as he calls her, explaining that in HIS day, men were men and women were women and everyone knew his/her place. Apparently women belong on TV shows to be the conquests of the womanizing male characters, and this new version of BSG — which forces us to look at the world today and see the various shades of grey in it — is depressing and stupid. Black is black and white is white and there is good and there is evil and THE END, in Dirk's world. Starbuck was a cigar-chomping womanizing sex machine and he had a LOT of ladies sending him underwear and the Suits (his capital, not mine) hated him, and cancelled the show because of him, he implies.

But enough of me talking, let's listen to Dirk:

In the bleak and miserable “re-imagined” world of “Battlestar Galactica,” things are never that simple. Maybe the Cylons are not evil and alien but in fact enlightened and evolved? Let us not judge them so harshly. Maybe it is they who deserve to live and Adama and his human ilk who deserve to die? And what a way to go! For the re-imagined terrorists (Cylons) are not mechanical robots void of soul, of sexuality, but rather humanoid six foot tall former lingerie models who f**k you to death. (Poor old Starbuck, you were imagined too early. Think of the fun you could have had ‘fighting’ with these thong-clad aliens!) In the spirit of such soft-core, sci-fi porn I think a more re-imaginative title would have been “F**cked by A Cylon.” (Apologies to “Touched by an Angel.”)

Personally, I love the TWO asterisks he's added to his bad word at the end. How exactly does he think that word is spelled?

This was my personal favourite part:

Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Hans Solo as Hans Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women “hand out” babies. And thus the world for thousands of years has gone’ round.

Seriously, does it get more awesome than that? If he were writing Lost, Kate would simply be repopulating the island while Sawyer marked off his female conquests with notches on a coconut tree. And Jack and Locke would be handing out cigars.

You can read the entire thing here. And scroll down for the comments. Some of them are what you'd expect, "Oh my god, STARBUCK! You are THE MAN, and you are totally right and the new BSG sucks!" But there are some really good ones in there pointing him out for what he really is. Like these two:

Randy - January 19th, 2009 at 10:22 amWow, a washed up actor bitter that his brief shine in the spotlight has been totally eclipsed by a far superior version of that 70s joke. Whereas Dirk glorifies and even sanctifies the cheap Star Wars ripoff that he so beloves, Ron Moore’s version takes the genre to a whole new level of intrigue and sophistication.

It’s not the Big Suit’s fault that they’re better than you, Dirk. Grow up.

Stav - January 19th, 2009 at 10:29 amDude, Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck has a much bigger pair than your femme, hairbrushing, mirror-loving pipsqueek ever did. When I was 14 or so your old show was a great Sunday night diversion. The new BSG is like a great novel, with three-dimensional characters, a taut storyline and complex thought-provoking writing.

Don’t be an old has-been grump. Lesser storytellers provided the seeds that gave us Shakespeare. Your little romp is the seed that gave us an extraordinary five years of drama.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The United States of Tara

You know, I really should be sitting around rewatching all of season 4 of Lost (AGAIN) or blogging endlessly about that mindblowing premiere of BSG, but The Movie Network and HBO Canada have been keeping me far too busy by having a LOT of good shows premiering this weekend. The latest begins tonight.

A new series from Showtime (who brought us the excellence of Dexter), The United States of Tara is about a housewife (Toni Collette) who has suffered from a severe multiple personality disorder her entire life. Her husband (John Corbett, of Northern Exposure and Sex and the City fame) has dealt with it for 17 years, and their two children have just learned to live with it. The episode opens with Tara having a fit into a camcorder because she's just found evidence of her daughter's sexual activities in her daughter's backpack, and we later discover that moments of high stress bring out the other personalities. And with that, she turns into T, the teenager who everyone in the family actually really likes, even if she's crass and has a tendency to fly into fits. But hey, she's got mom's credit card and none of her moral centre, so the daughter is happy.

In fact, everyone is happy, except Tara, who has to deal with whatever her "alters" did while she was trapped inside, unable to emerge. She knows T will say and do terrible things that will humiliate her, and even though her family doesn't look at the alters as being Tara in any way, she is upset by the lack of control. Just when she has it together again, she sees something that stresses her out once again, and boom, here comes Buck, the rude, racist, sexist, horrible, chain-smokin', truck-drivin' son of a bitch who calls the son gay and grabs the asses of her daughter's female friends. But Buck has his advantages, and by the end of this character my husband and I were howling with laughter. By the second episode, however, you start to see the effect the alters are having on the children. Especially when prim, proper Alice shows up, a 1950s take-no-shit housewife.

I think Toni Collette is genius, and she shines in this show. Once she moves into one of the alters, you really don't see Tara anymore, but the other personality that has invaded. I didn't see Buck as a man trapped in a woman's body, or as Toni Collette playing him, but as the beer-swilling asshole that he really was. That's talent. John Corbett is great as the husband who has learned to live with the personalities and the rules that come with them, and his problem is trying to fend off the other people outside of the family who haven't come to grips with her condition. The show is created and written by Diablo Cody, who wrote Juno (and writes a monthly column in Entertainment Weekly that is always entertaining) and the dialogue is crisp and fresh, just like in Juno. The music is all by the Eels, which is awesome, so fans of E should be tuning in.

One thing that's always irritated me with HBO series is they're always so brilliant, but the pilots are usually terrible (the exception is Big Love, which was awesome from the get-go). But Showtime always manages to pull us in right from the beginning, the The United States of Tara (get it?) is a show that will become a weekly must-see in our house. The show premieres tonight on The Movie Network at 9pm EST.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flight of the Conchords: Season 2

One of my favourite series returns tonight for its second season on HBO Canada (10pm ET). Flight of the Conchords was one of the quirkiest series HBO has taken a chance on yet. Starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, this novelty act first found success in New Zealand before their HBO special, One Night Stand, which was critically acclaimed. HBO then signed up this series of two struggling artists in a novelty band trying to land gigs (never happens), managed by the guy who is the head of the New Zealand consulate (whose NZ tourism posters in his office are usually worth the entire episode), and constantly trying to dodge their number one fan, the super-obsessed Mel.

In tonight's premiere, the duo finally leaves Murray because he's spending too much time with another band, and surprisingly, find success managing themselves. But, as with anything these two do, the success doesn't last for long. Constantly down on their luck, this season will find the two on the brink of financial ruin because Bret dared to buy a new tea cup; starting their own gang; impersonating Simon and Garfunkel in a lookalike contest, and turning to prostitution as a way out of everything.

I can't wait!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Me in the Media

With Lost upcoming (FOUR DAYS AND FIVE HOURS AWAY!!!), there are people who actually want to talk to me again! :) The London Free Press published an interview with me today. You can read it here. (I always have fun with these interviews because he asks goofy questions, so I give him goofy answers.)

For any readers from Alberta, I'll be on KIX 106FM at 11am EST (which I think is 9am local?) on Monday morning.

On Wednesday (DAY OF!) I'll be on the Kevin and Trudie show on CJAD 800AM in Montreal at 3pm EST. For anyone outside of the broadcast area, you can listen here.

And waaaay in the future, I'll be on A Channel (which broadcasts Lost to southern Ontario) on March 9. But that's a ways off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Big Love: God Only Knows What He'd Be Without Them...

I totally just put that Beach Boys song in your head, didn't I? Every time Big Love starts up, with the women skating around Bill, and that song chiming, I know I'll have that song in my head for days. But I love it, so it's OK.

Big Love begins this Sunday on HBO in the U.S., and on HBO Canada in Canada at 9pm. It's been off our TVs for 18 months, a REALLY long time in the television world, and the Writers' Strike delayed it by a year. And... Big Love doesn't believe in "previously on." So, consider me your reminder.

In season 2, Margene began a friendship with Ana, a waitress at the local pie shop, and she orchestrated a way for Bill to meet her, wanting her to be the fourth wife. Bill did meet her, and was smitten. Meanwhile, the compound is raided, and 15-year-old Rhonda takes her whiny self off the compound and into the media spotlight as the molested wife of Roman Grant, showing the seedy side of polygamy that makes something like Bill's arrangement look foul and horrid. Nicki decides to make a play for first wife, but loses, and admits her massive credit card debt. Barb finds out about Ana, and puts her foot down and says NO MORE WIVES, and in order to make it known that she and she alone is first wife, she outs them all as polygamists to the looky-loo neighbours who live across the street. Meanwhile, Sarah, their daughter, is hanging out with Max from Veronica Mars and it becoming sensitive about her family arrangement, and loses her virginity to her boyfriend, while her brother wants to give this whole polygamy thing a chance, much to Barb's chagrin.

And over at the disastrous Juniper Creek, Roman has waged war against the Greens, who shoot him and then he's arrested because of Rhonda's statements to the media. Alby takes over as leader, and sends his mother off the reservation because she'd been scheming behind his back. Meanwhile, Wanda and Lois become wackier and wackier.

Season 3 begins with a bang, and is a lot of fun. Bill is still trying to secure Weber Gaming, the company that he had to get Roman's hands out of, and the Ana situation comes back when Barb has a change of heart. Through Ana, we actually get to see what it's like for a new wife to be courted by a polygamist... and it's really funny. The kids continue to have their problems, and if you thought Nicki's credit card bills were a massive secret, wait'll you see what she's got up her sleeve in season 3. WOW.

So... if Ana becomes a fourth wife, will they have to reshoot that opening skating scene?

It's Here!

I made a joke to my publisher this morning that maybe Ben could turn the frozen donkey wheel and move the printing company that is printing my book closer to the office so I'll have books today (and since he doesn't watch the show, he probably thought I was high) and lo and behold, Ben has turned the wheel! My editor just emailed me to say the books are in! So if you've ordered a copy as per my offer, I'll be signing and shipping them out this weekend. If you live in Canada, you might actually have them before the season 5 premiere. How awesome would that be?

TOTALLY awesome. That's how awesome.

To those of you who are thinking about it but aren't sure if I have any left, I do still have some left, so email me to order one and I'll get yours out immediately, too. I can't wait to see it!

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts... It's BACK!

Oh, how I love this show. I cannot stress enough how much you NEED to be watching Friday Night Lights. First, there was the book, based on a Sports Illustrated writer's experience in a small Texas town and their unhealthy obsession with football. The town has decried the book, claimed he made a lot of it up, several of the players have moved away and confirmed that yes, the stuff he claimed actually happened, and the guy won the Pulitzer for it. Then it was made into a movie. The movie was OK, but it lacked a lot of the oomph of the book. And then along came the television series. The first season was one of those critical darlings that had an audience of three. Then the first season DVD came out, priced at around $25 (it's still that cheap... BUY IT) and new viewers like me came on board. I watched all of season 1 in the week leading up to giving birth, and during labour -- I'm seriously not lying -- my husband would yell, "Clear eyes, full hearts..." and I'd respond, "Can't lose!" Well... until the contractions got to a breaking point. Then I responded by pouring the pail of ice chips over his head.

Season 2 was a difficult one. The show had fought for salvation, with NBC having it on the bubble for cancellation. The thing working in the show's favour: the NBC executives LOVE this show. So it ran for a second season, until the Writers' Strike stopped that one. The season was put off until season 3, which we weren't sure would happen. We were left with Smash breaking down in the locker room after being off the Panthers and having very little chance of ever finding a college team after he was charged with assault because a guy made racist remarks against his little sister. Tami and Coach were dealing with him returning from the university where he was about to become a star, and coming to Dillon to rejoin the Panthers and focus on his family. Jason Street was with a girl for one night and makes her pregnant. He believes this is a miracle, and begs her not to have an abortion. Tim is kicked off the team, ends up living on couches because he doesn't have a place to stay, but manages to get back on the team by the end of the season. Landry and Tyra accidentally kill a man who was trying to rape her, and cover it up, but they're found out by the end of the season and let off. The season had its ups and downs, but something seemed to have been lost between seasons 1 and 2.

But fear not: season 3 is KILLER. To save the season, NBC shared broadcasting rights (and cost) with DirecTV, allowing the small network to broadcast season 3 through the fall, and NBC would begin airing episodes tonight (tune in to NBC at 9pm). I adore this season. Street is a father, Tami is the principal of the school (which causes a lot of fun moments between her and the school's head coach, nudge nudge), Tyra is a disaster who is trying not to be one, Saracen's grandmother is becoming more difficult for him to handle on his own, his mother comes back into the picture (and it's Cassidy from Lost... she keeps Clementine a secret from Saracen somehow), Lilah and Riggins make a go of things, and the story of Smash takes an unexpected turn. There's a new character who comes in partway through the season, and at first I wasn't sure how to take the guy, but his story becomes immensely fascinating really fast (as if the writers knew this might be the last season and they had to round out this storyline). There are laugh-out-loud moments and times when I was weeping like a baby. Each week.

You will not be disappointed by this season. Here's praying they can find it in their hearts to give us one more.

Holy Frakkin' Hell: Battlestar Galactica

Tonight begins the return of stellar television to our world -- five new shows return between tonight and Monday (tune in to my blog throughout the day today for writeups on three of them, with the other two on the weekend). And, of course, the sixth, and most important, starts next Wednesday! Battlestar Galactica airs the first of the final ten episodes of the series tonight at 10pm (on Space in Canada, Sci-Fi Channel in the US) and WHOA, these last eps are going to be doozies. As I've said in a few of the comments sections recently, I discovered about a month ago that I had missed the end of the season. I thought I'd missed one episode (my PVR is allergic to Space, for some reason, and will tape a single minute of a program and then shut off. This is the only channel where this weirdness occurs). I couldn't find it anywhere, and was stuck. I recently discovered I'd missed THREE episodes, and had a lot of catching up to do. So, last weekend, my husband and I rented the final disk of the DVD and caught up. And... well... WOW.

First of all, Deanna is back, and I cannot be happier. Lucy Lawless pulled a classic Xena move (how I miss Xena) when she was first reborn, grabbed one of the Cylons and knocked him out, all with that jaw-jut she did so well on Xena. I was in heaven.

Then, while the Hybrid was jumping the ship continuously, Deanna confronted Roslin, who was sitting over Gaius's dying body, and Roslin told her she needed to know the final five, who would lead them all back to Earth. Deanna said, "You mean you don't know you're one of them?" and the music swelled, the camera did that BSG patented quick-zoom, Roslin's eyes widened... and then the music abruptly stopped and Deanna sat in her chair cackling. It was AWESOME. Best fake revelation of the year. It's definitely one of my favourite moments of the series.

After four of the five were outed (William Adama's reaction to Tigh being a Cylon was brilliant) and Tigh was almost sent out the airlock, Anders and Tyrrol realized Starbuck's ship was offering the coordinates to Earth. Deanna made a pact to work together with the humans and all go back to Earth (she was kinda in the same boat as the humans anyway, since the Resurrection ship had gone kablammo and there would be no more risings in the Cylon world).

I thought the series would end with the discovery of Earth. But then again, I thought Lost would end with a rescue. Looks like today's television is all about thwarting expectations. Survivors are rescued on Lost two seasons from the end, and at the end of the 2008 BSG finale, they all arrived on Earth. It was a beautiful moment as they jumped into Earth's range, and we saw that globe for the first time on the series. And then... they arrived and all had their awful Charlton Heston moment:

Yup. It's New York City, and apparently Hiro didn't save the world. The big question about BSG has always been, does this show happen in the future, or in the distant past, before recorded history? Since they're all on spaceships, one would tend to believe that they were in the future, but there was always that fascinating potential that they might actually be our ancestors, not our descendents. Well, now that has been answered: you can see a remnant of the Brooklyn Bridge in one of the scenes, and there also appeared to be a giant cross lying on the ground. Earth has been obliterated, and the humans apparently left in spaceships to escape. So now the question is, will Wall-E come rolling out to greet them?

Tune in tonight and find out!