Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fringe 3.02: The Box

Another JJ Abrams episode called The Box. Alias fans will remember the two-part episode, “The Box,” where Quentin Tarantino was this crazed torturer who would taunt his victims by telling them not to push him to the point where he’d have to open The Box. Like Thomas says in this episode, it got to the point where the imagination conjured up much worse things than were actually in it.

In this episode, Bolivia continues to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, even though as fans we can see Anna Torv is playing the character very differently. She’s a lot more light-hearted than Olivia, smiles more, seems to have a lot more fun, and you’d think they’d see through her a little more easily, but she simply uses the excuse that she sees the world differently now that she’s been on the other side, which is a good one. But when she realizes that the guy who retrieved the box is deaf, and he’s seen too much, she coldly shoots him in the back of the head the way George does Lenny in Of Mice and Men… actually, even differently than that, because George had a conscience about it.

The scene in the subway tunnel was filled with suspense, and the idea of rendering Peter momentarily deaf by shooting off a gun near his ears was brilliant, if rather risky – he could have permanently damaged his hearing that way. But knowing that putting the machine in Peter’s hands was Bolivia’s plan all along was eerie… it’s going to be an interesting season! Will this be like Sydney Bristow collecting the Rambaldi artifacts all over again?

The end of the episode, where we see that Walter has made a new acquisition, promises a new direction for the show. Here’s hoping Walter keeps that lab at Harvard.

• “Who’s Bow-no?” LOL!!! And yes, Bolivia, he IS easy on the eyes. And he’s mine.
• Walter trying to get the cow to make chocolate milk. HAHA!!
• Walter suggesting the buried treasure had legs of its own. “Wouldn’t that be delightful?”
• “Lookit my brain waves on the monitor-o!” I don’t know what was funnier: Walter singing different words to Mozart, or switching it to the Miami Vice theme!
• “Silent but deadly… speaking of which, you might want to take a step away.”
• The little man’s head exploding made both my husband and I jump at the same time, and it’s got to be one of the most disgusting and shocking things they’ve done on the show.
• Peter: “At this point would anything surprise you?” Walter: “Bacon-flavored pudding. Now THAT would surprise me.”
• Walter outside the subway station: “I frequented a massage parlor just around the corner. I used to get off right here!” Peter: “Sure hope you’re talking about the station, Walter.”
• My husband totally called what Bell left Walter… I just had to say that. The moment he opened his envelope my husband said, “He left him Massive Dynamic, didn’t he?”

Where’s Baldo?: I missed the Observer AGAIN. That’s it: next week I’m recording this in high def. Last week it turns out he was just on the edge of the screen when Olivia was in the park.
Update: Just saw a screencap on another site that had the Observer walking down to the stairs into the station just as Thomas was leaving it. He's way off to the one side, which makes me think my non-high def recording of it cut him off.

Glyph (before each commercial break, there's a glyph that appears, and it corresponds with a letter of the alphabet, spelling out a five-letter word): This week's glyphs spelled out ALERT.

Did You Notice?:
• When Patsy Cline started playing in the bar, was anyone else wondering if Kate would suddenly appear?
• At the reading of the will, the executor reads the quote, “Life is joy, death is peace. It’s the transition that is difficult.” This is a paraphrasing of the famous quote by Isaac Asimov. Bell refers to “Isaac” as his “great friend,” and in an episode last season Walter referred to Asimov as a friend of his as well.
• Interesting that Bell says that Nina was his right hand and she was his, when it’s actually her left hand that’s missing.
• When Bolivia went into the alleyway, there was graffiti on the wall that said, “The Pen Is Mightier.”
• When Thomas Jerome Newton (I still LOVE that he’s named after David Bowie’s character in The Man Who Fell to Earth) asks the guy if he can watch his box for him, the guy says, “Will there be renumeration?” instead of “remuneration.”

• So what did Bell leave to Nina? She opens the envelope and looks in, and looks surprised. Did he tell her that he was leaving Massive Dynamic to Walter? Were there instructions on how she was supposed to continue to oversee his activities? Was it an invitation for her to come to the other side to meet him?

Mad Men Sadness

I didn't post on this right away, simply because I was too broken up about it. If you're behind on Season 4 of Mad Men, then I suggest you turn away now and don't look below to avoid a major spoiler of the season. But without saying too much more, I think season 4 has been the best season to date. It's taken all of the threads of the previous seasons and weaved them together beautifully. (Seeing Don have a full-on panic attack this week was frightening and amazing.)

But all that aside, what happened last week was shocking, just as I was starting to realize who my favourite character on TV of the moment was. I was literally sitting on the couch with a pad of paper on my desk, thinking, "I'm gonna write a haiku as a tribute to her." And then... she was gone.

RIP, Miss Blankenship.

Your time on the show was too short, and your loud voice rattling into Don's office delighted me every time. You died as you lived... surrounded by the people you answered phones for.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lostaholics Anonymous: Happy Moments

Hello everyone and welcome to Week 2 of Lostaholics Anonymous. There seemed to be an overwhelming group of people out there who excitedly raised their hands and still want to talk about Lost, to which I say, "Yay!" followed by "Whew," since if you weren't still interested my upcoming season 6 Lost book would probably die a quick and painful death (available in fine bookstores near you in about another month!)

Last week I suggested that we'd ease into our routine with a discussion about our favourite moments. But once I started making a list of my own, I realized that they represented a cross-section -- happy, sad, moments that just made me love the show even more -- and so I thought maybe to keep things simpler we'd talk about the happy moments.

Lost could become a very serious show at times, often bogged down in the mystery, in impending death, suspense, and large philosophical issues, so the comic moments were always met with much relief, because it kept the show from becoming WAY too serious. I think my problem with a lot of other shows out there is their lack of a sense of humour -- FlashForward took itself far too seriously; The Event ain't funny at all; V was all overblown and big... whereas Hawaii Five-O knows how to laugh, and No Ordinary Family, which debuted last night, was as funny as it was fun to watch. You could argue that Buffy was a comedy as much as it was a drama (and as many of you know, I've been involved in that very argument in a very public setting) and I think the best shows are a perfect mix of the two.

So without further ado, let's talk about some of our favourite funny or happy moments.

Hurley sharing an Apollo bar with Ben. One of the reasons I loved this moment so much is that it wasn't outwardly funny -- a non-fan wouldn't have seen the humour in that scene at all. But here was the show's favourite funny guy sitting down with the island's arch-villain, and handing him a piece of chocolate. Ben looks at him strangely, stares at it for a second, and then takes it without a word, chewing on the candy and its caramel fitting as if this was the most natural thing in the world. This amazing scene was the precursor to Ben and Hurley eventually becoming the guardians of the island together.

Hurley trying to maintain his ruse of NOT being a time traveler as he’s grilled by Pierre Chang. Now this scene WAS played for laughs, and big ones. What makes it even funnier for fans is the fact that earlier, Hurley had asked Sawyer who the President was in 1977 and Sawyer laughed and didn’t answer, reassuring Hurley he’d never be asked something like that. When Chang asks him that very question, Hurley’s face is like Ralph Kramden’s on The Honeymooners when he was on Name That Tune, and “Swanee River” starts playing (come on, someone out there must remember that ep… if not, it was parodied when Brain went on Jeopardy on Pinky and the Brain…) Hurley makes a valiant effort to try to keep on top of Chang’s questioning, but quickly falls apart. Brilliant moment.

Sawyer teaching Jin how to compliment his wife in English. “Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” is one of the funniest episodes of the series; at the time it seemed like some one-off throwaway episode, but watch it again and see just how many zingers are in this one. Sawyer’s just shown up again after being on the other side of the island (well, actually, on Hydra Island) for ages, and he discovers the beer and will drink it, no matter how old it is. As he clinks his can to dead Roger Workman, he begins to teach Jin the only English he’ll need to know. Both he and Jin are hilarious in this scene.

The Shambala scene: In that same episode might be one of the single happiest moments in the series, when Hurley defies fate and the VW van roars to life as he and Charlie are hurtling down a hill. The happy, fun-loving music, paired with Sawyer, Charlie, Jin, and Hurley riding around in the van laughing, made all of us forget they were trapped on a mysterious island. It was a moment of pure joy.

Of course, there were several laugh-out-loud lines, and I’m sure many of you will be able to quote those for our delight.

And now I’ll just mention two of my absolute favourite scenes in the entire series, which I love because they straddle the dramatic/comedic sides of the show.

Hurley’s cannonball: This moment is glorious in its happiness, devastating in its sadness. On the one hand, Hurley jumps in the water assuming his curse is gone and he and his friends are about to be rescued. He’ll go home, see his Ma, and introduce her to his new friend Charlie. It’s probably the single happiest moment in the series. But the moment he surfaces – about 3 seconds after he was happiest – he realizes Charlie is dead, they’re not being rescued, and he’s probably still cursed. It’s a gorgeous combination of all of the show’s best elements.

Hurley (I see an onrunning theme here) and his Ma, when he tells her what really happened on the island in “The Lie.” I’ve talked about this scene before, but it’s still one of my favourites. First, he looks like he’s going to cry. Then he manages to sum up the first four seasons of Lost in about a minute and a half, while the loopy Hurley music plays and his Ma looks confused. But at the end, he suddenly breaks down again, telling her they left people behind and he needs to go get them. His ma leans forward, touches his hand, and tells him she believes him. It’s such a lovely moment in the series, where she tells him what he needs to hear, and Jorge Garcia displays a tremendous range of emotions.

So those are some of my favourite moments. Of course, now that I think about it, maybe this one trumps them all:

So, let’s discuss our fave moments in Lost. What made you happy at the time? What makes you smile or laugh now that might have seemed different at the time? Did you think the comic moments were a good blend with the dramatic ones?

Next week: The moments that made us cry.

While You Wait for L.A...

I think I might have said Lostaholics Anonymous would start at 8, but since Lost started at 9, we'll stay consistent with that, so meet me here in about 45 minutes.

Until then, check out this awesome news story from today. Turns out, UFOs are real... I probably should have paid more attention to V.

Ex-Air Force Personnel: UFOs Deactivated Nukes

Whatever the mysterious lights in the sky were, they seemed to have an interest in our nukes.

One of the more out-of-the-ordinary press conferences held in Washington this week consisted of former Air Force personnel testifying to the existence of UFOs and their ability to neutralize American and Russian nuclear missiles.

UFO researcher Robert Hastings of Albuquerque, N.M., who organized the National Press Club briefing, said more than 120 former service members had told him they'd seen unidentified flying objects near nuclear weapon storage and testing grounds.

Star & Stripes quoted former Air Force Capt. Robert Salas, who was at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana in 1967 when 10 ICMs he was overseeing suddenly became inoperative - at the same time base security informed him of a mysterious red glowing object in the sky.

Robert Jamison, a retired USAF nuclear missile targeting officer, told of several occasions having to go out and "re-start" missiles that had been deactivated, after UFOs were sighted nearby.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Glee: Make Way for Brit-Brit!

Depending on your thoughts on Britney Spears, tonight's episode of Glee will be the one you've been either dying for, or will avoid at all costs. Personally, I don't feel very strongly about her either way, other than to say I think the media has been very unkind to her, that she's probably a better mom than any tabloid would like you to think, and that "Baby One More Time" and "Oops I Did It Again" are two of the catchiest pop songs of the past decade.

But let's focus on Glee. The second half of season 1, after the hiatus, was a mixed bag of goods that was largely disappointing. Until the hiatus, the show had been entirely filmed before the stars knew just how huge it would be. But then they realized Glee was the golden child of television, and in the second half of the season, in every scene it was clear they knew it. Suddenly the innocence was gone, the jokes were too self-aware, and Rachel went from delightfully annoying to unbearable.

Thankfully, the season 1 premiere last week was a wonderful return to form. Sue was at her bitter best, Brittany was loopy as ever ("People thought I went on vacation but I really spent the summer lost in the sewers"), and the show decided rather than pretend it was still TV's golden child, it would address all of the criticisms that had been lobbed against it during the summer in a very tongue-and-cheek manner. In the show's opening, our favourite Jew-fro wearin' nerd, interviewed each of the main characters for his angry blog, voicing many of the same things that the show's detractors had said about it. He asked Mr. Schue if he would stop rapping and if he was the spokesperson for Land's End. Or, in my favourite line of questioning, "How do you respond to a recent post on my blog that your song selection sounds like it comes from a drag queen's iPod?"

Kurt's response, of course, had me cheering, considering how many times I've said this myself: "Next time, instead of posting an anonymous comment on a blog why don't you just come out and say it to my face!" And then he was slushied.

The introduction of Ms. Bieste (pronounced Beast... it's French...) is a brilliant bit of casting. Throughout the episode I couldn't decide if it really was a woman in the role or if it was a man in drag. Turns out it is a woman, Dot Jones, who has a career of playing tough chicks and is a 15-time national arm-wrestling champion (??!!) Amazing. However, I was a little worried by the quick comment about Ken Tanaka leaving... is he actually gone from the show? I hope not; that's an easy way out of the Emma Pilsbury situation if so.

Ms. Bieste is the first person we've seen who REALLY unnerves Sue, just because when she leans in and hisses, "You're all coffee and no almond," all Sue can retort is a quiet, "That... makes no sense." As she leaves the room and mutters that Sue's nothing but a steer with 6 teats and no oink, Sue again just glances down and whispers, "that makes NO SENSE." I was killing myself laughing.

The episode wasn't perfect. I thought the performance of Jay-Z's New York was brilliant, but do not, for one second, believe that no one would have been watching them... seriously, the reason those impromptu choreographed dances in malls and train stations work is because when something like that happens, everyone stops and stares. There is simply no way that the rest of the school would have just sat there. Also, the auto-tuning was in full swing for the entire episode. Many songs were so auto-tuned it sounded like Cher's Believe... I think these kids have extraordinary voices, and considering it's a high school and not the top 5 of American Idol, if they're not perfect, that's pretty realistic. Let's not auto-tune them all to sound like Christina Aguilera. And I could have done without the boring Rachel number (complete with her "I'm gonna cry and I'm in pain can't you tell from my dramatic eyebrow furrow" trademark look).

But those are minor nitpicks. Sue Sylvester was probably still the highlight for me, especially when she went after Santana, who she'd just found out had had a boob job: “Oh, and Boobs McGee – you’re demoted to the bottom of the pyramid so when it collapses your exploding sandbags will protect the squad from injury. Now take your juicy, vine-ripened chest fruit and get the hell out of my office.”

But my favourite quote of the episode? After the new kid sings, Puck tells him, "Dude, your mouth is huge. How many tennis balls can you fit in there?" Sam replies, "I don't know... I've never had any balls in my mouth. Have you?"

And last week I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for "Don't Stop Believin': The Official Guide to Glee," which is a terrific guide to the first season of the show written by Suzie Gardner and Erin Balser, complete with bios of the show's stars. When I was working on the book, there seemed to be a surprise on every page; it's certainly enriched the way I watch the show. You can order it here.

And until then, happy gleeking!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding Humanebean

And here is our beloved humanebean, who has been keeping his hobby -- as a strongman in a travelling carnival -- a secret from us!! Extra points for getting the new book in there!! :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding Question Mark!

So, Question Mark was going about his day, minding his own business, when he began seeing notices about something called Lost. He had this weird nagging sense that that should mean something to him, but it didn't. He got home and logged onto the internet, and began chatting with someone named "humanebean." Again there was this weird sense of deja vu, but he didn't know why he was feeling that way. And then, when he walked into his bedroom to go to bed, he found this. And was utterly confused:

Where did these books come from? Was there a theme? And how the hell would he go to bed now?? He picked up a copy of Finding Lost, and suddenly saw images of his real life flash before him, and he remembered everything -- Lost, our conversations here, how it changed his life. Was he in the sideways world, and was about to be reunited with all of us so we could finally let go and move on??

No. He'd just eaten a bad burrito that afternoon and it had made him a temporary amnesiac. But hey, we'll SAY he was in his sideways world. Way cooler. ;)

Thanks for the picture, Question Mark! I loved it!! (And I loved the cover of your copy of The Third Policeman... it's completely different from mine.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fringe 3.01: Olivia

Tonight's season 3 premiere of Fringe was an exciting return to the show. Set almost entirely in the alternate world, our Olivia is trapped in a place where people believe she is mad because she's insisting she's not the person they think she is, but is in fact from another universe and just happens to look EXACTLY like the woman they're mistaking her for.

Walternate is pumping her with No-Livia's memories, however, in an attempt to try to make her second-guess her beliefs and start to fall in line with everyone else. However, there's a sinister reticence about his true reasons for doing it -- I think it's clear he's just using Olivia as a guinea pig so he can once again kidnap Peter but infuse some other memories into him and make him believe he belonged to Walternate all along, forgetting his life with Walter.

Anna Torv shows what a great actress she is by not only carrying the episode, but in the final scene, we see the subtle differences between No-Livia and our Olivia just in her gestures.

• That red Fringe opening they used in S2 to indicate what the Fringe intro would look like in the alternate world. Brilliant.
• Bubbles!!! Andre Royo, who played Henry the cabbie, was the drug-addicted Bubbles on The Wire, and put in one of the most heartwrenching performances of that show.
• The ad for Glatterflug, the company that offers daily flights to the moon.
• I love the mix of old and new -- they have flights to the moon, but they still have ancient bicycles and zeppelins.

Glyph (before each commercial break, there's a glyph that appears, and it corresponds with a letter of the alphabet, spelling out a five-letter word): This week's glyphs spelled out AMBER.

Did You Notice?:
• On top of Henry's cab there's an ad for DOGS; in this world the big musical isn't CATS. Ha!
• That amber quarantine reminds me of that first season episode where the guy on the bus put people in amber. I haven't watched that episode in ages, but I wonder if there was a suggestion in retrospect that he was from the alternate universe?
• When Alt-Astrid stands in front of that panel of numbers, she reminds me of a Cylon.
• Jedi mind tricks still exist in the alt-universe.
• The gas station was called Shexxon.

• How does Walternate plan to get Peter back? Is he planning to infuse memories into him? What memories? Since the other Peter died before Peter was kidnapped, there's no other Peter to give memories to... would they be manufactured?
• How will our Olivia ever return to herself? Could No-Livia's memories only be temporary?
• Did Bell only put Massive Dynamic in our universe?
• Where was the Observer? I looked everywhere for him and couldn't find him. I thought he passed Henry's cab at the very beginning but when I paused it, it wasn't him.
• Why... Glatterflug??

So what did you think? Did the episode live up to your expectations?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lostaholics Anonymous

Date: September 22, 2010

[INT: Meeting hall. Several people are gathered inside, some huddled against one another, whispering. Some sniffling is heard, while others quietly weep in the corner. A few people are wearing tan-coloured jumpsuits with strange patches on the chest.]

Nikki: Hello everyone, and welcome to the first meeting of the Nik at Nite chapter of Lostaholics Anonymous, LA for short.

[A brunette in the back corner suddenly wails loudly.]

Sonshine Music: You said ‘LA’!! The plane never even MADE it to LA... waaaaaah....

Nikki: Sorry, Sonshine. It’s been a long summer, and I know we’ve all been through a lot, but this is a place we’ve made together, where we can all talk about what we’ve been through. We are gathered here today, on the sixth anniversary of the plane crash, to discuss, OK, bear with me as I say it: Lost.

[A few people erupt in extreme sobbing. A couple in the corner leans on each other for support, and the man is mysteriously wearing cabbage leaves on his head.]

Nikki: Many of us know each other already, having spent the last three or four years discussing the ins and outs of Lost on my blog, Nik at Nite. We’ve anticipated the beginning of many seasons together, we’ve discussed the minutiae of each episode long into the night, we’ve had disagreements, and we’ve expressed joy at just being together and getting to know one another. We followed the show right to “The End,” and some of us liked it, others didn’t. We chatted about the show for a week or so after it ended, and then I sadly had to disappear to go and write a book. Some of us were forced to let it go quicker than others, and for me, that moment came when I watched the book go to the printer. And then I suddenly felt as empty and bereft as so many of you did.

[The sobs quiet, while the noises of nose-blowing can be heard throughout the hall.]

Nikki: And so we’re here now, and we’re going to ease each other through this withdrawal process. We will follow a few of the normal therapy steps, but Lostaholics Anonymous isn’t like other programs. We’re not here to cut Lost out of our lives. We are here to continue the discussion and come to terms with the fact that we’re not weird for wanting to talk about it. We need to accept that Lost will always be a part of us, even if we move on and watch other shows. We’re not betraying Darlton by watching other television shows; we’re just moving on in a way. We’ve all dealt with our withdrawal in different ways, some of us… um… [Nikki spots a few Jearded folks throughout the audience] in more, uh, unique ways. But now we can do it together.

[Nikki puts up a large poster on the wall behind her.]

Nikki: So now, if you’ll all say it along with me, it’s time for our serenity prayer.

All: “Jacob grant me the Serenity to accept that Lost is over, the Courage to continue to talk about it without feeling sad, and the Wisdom to let it go.”

Nikki: Now, does anyone want to start?

[One of the crazily bearded men stands up in the middle of the room.]


Nikki: OK, OK, I understand, but… wait… Blam, is that you? Where the hell did that beard come from?

Blam: I, uh... oh... this? Um... well, see, I haven’t had time to shave because I’ve been rewatching the episodes, and for some reason on a rewatch Jack’s beard didn’t look so disgusting, and the next thing you know, uh... You know what? A diagram would explain it better. Does anyone here have a napkin and a pen??

Nikki: You know what, it’s OK. Listen, guys, what I want to do each Wednesday (because Wednesday nights still feel like Lost nights, regardless of what night season 6 appeared on) is discuss an aspect of the show. You can contribute as little or as much as you’d like, and this will just be a place to get our Lost fix as we slowly let go of our obsession. So far this new fall season of TV, despite half of them touting themselves as the new Lost, just hasn’t given us anything that feels remotely Lost-like. So for now, we’ll grieve the end of our show, discuss some of the finer points now that we’ve had more time to think about all of them, and talk about new shows that we should be watching.

So, this week I’m just looking for a show of hands. Who’s interested in being a part of this group? And let me know if you have any particular topics you want to discuss. Let’s start our group discussion below.

Next week: Our favourite moments.

Finding Batcabbage

So, a couple of weeks ago I announced a contest where I was looking for people to take pictures of themselves with one or more of the Finding Lost books, or to photoshop a picture of the books somehow, but one thing I asked is that the picture make me laugh. Batcabbage has been a regular on here for a while and he has YET to give me a picture of him holding the book... the Dark Leafy Knight is apparently too mysterious to show us his face. So when he emailed me last week and said, "Hey, attached are the pics of me holding the books" I opened the attachments with MUCH excitement!! We were finally going to see Batty!

And then... I saw this.

And this...

Smartass. Looks like Batcabbage has a little bit of the Joker in him... That said, he achieved the prerequisite: I laughed out loud when I opened them! And hey, I can now say I've seen Batkitty's arms. ;)

One of these days, I shall GET you, Batcabbage!

So, who can do better?

Happy Anniversary, Plane Crash!

It was six years ago today
Jacob brought down a plane to play
They've been running in and out of the jungle
Many plans they've managed to bungle
So let me introduce to you
The people we've loved for six years....
The passengers, of Flight eight-fifteeeeen

[horn solo]

Six years ago today I sat on the couch with my newborn daughter, still mourning the loss of Angel a few months earlier, and Buffy over a year earlier, and wondering how many more years it would take before I'd find another show I would love the way I loved my Whedonverse.

And then... Lost began. And I can honestly say my life's never been the same since.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall 2010: The Event, Hawaii Five-0, Boardwalk Empire

Monday night, 8:45 p.m.

I was standing in my kitchen finishing up the dishes as my husband walked into the living room (the kitchen is open concept looking into it). Suddenly, an ominous beep sounded from the other room. My husband turned, perplexed, and looked at me. I smiled knowingly.


I’m sitting at my desk at work, editing a manuscript. I think, Hey, my iPhone is almost out of juice. I should sync it with my computer and charge it at the same time. So… I do.


I’m scanning Zap2It for all of the fall premiere dates while putting together my blog post on what I plan to watch this fall. As I’m doing it, I think I should probably put the times into my Outlook calendar just so I don’t forget them.

Monday night, 8:46 p.m.

“What was that?” asked my husband.
“Just my phone telling me The Event is going to start in 15 minutes.”


Last night saw the series premiere of The Event and Hawaii Five-0, two shows that I was excited about… but still a little wary. At this point, many of my friends have given up on new shows and wait for the summer DVDs, figuring it’s better to watch it that way (I agree) and they also won’t get hooked on anything that will be prematurely cancelled. But when you write about TV, you’re kind of stuck with watching them as they happen. I’ve decided to watch the first episodes of a lot of stuff (including things I didn’t have on my list, like Lone Star, Blue Bloods, and Undercovers) and then dump them unless they really grabbed me.

While I might not get a chance to write up each one individually, I’m hoping to write up something at the end of the week that talks about each ep and just gives it a thumbs up or down. But because three big ones were starting on two consecutive nights, I wanted to talk about them here.

The Event was always at risk of being the next FlashForward. Big flashy trailer, lots of build-up, everyone talking about it, huge opening… and then, wah wah wah…. Of course, I can’t tell after the first ep if it will have the blah factor after a few episodes, but I can say what I thought of last night’s. To do so, I’ll just tell you the conversation my husband and I had afterwards … after which he said, “You know, we should do a TV podcast together!” Since he’s SUCH a TV snob, I think that would be awesome. I can be a snob, too, but I’m also open to shows like Big Bang Theory, whereas he has a strict “NO LAUGH TRACK” policy in his life right now. He also believes that after The Wire and The Shield there should never be another cop show, so he watched Hawaii Five-0 with some trepidation.

I’ve always been bothered by the overuse of the trope of showing the end, and then going back several hours to show where it began so you can lead up to what you saw at the beginning, knowing where it’s going to end up. It’s like reading a mystery novel: someone dies at the beginning, and the detective has to go back in time to lead up to what happened and why. But in the case of TV, usually the answer to the mystery is about as banal as the situation I recreated above. Alias used it too many times, and The West Wing got to the point of ridiculous in its second and third seasons with it. But The Event seemed to take the idea of non-linear and just said, “Hey, if people are OK with TV shows jumping around in time a lot, then let’s make it SO INCREDIBLY BIZARRE that they will need to write out a graph just to keep track of everything!”

Thankfully, I have been well trained by Lost not to need said graph, but it still got to be a little ridiculous. At one point I said to my husband, “Wait… are we still 8 hours ago or is it 13 days?” “I have NO IDEA.” “Maybe we’re in Before Christ times.” “Possibly.” (After the show there was much, “two hours ago!” joking around.) My favourite was the first – 23 minutes ago… coincidence that they chose a Lost number? I THINK NOT!

But the time wonk aside, I thought the show was rather compelling. Who is Sophia? Why is she being held captive at some compound in Alaska? Who are the “they” she referred to at the end of the episode? How the HELL did a Cuban guy ever become President?? (See, in Canada, Cuba doesn’t have the same resonance of pure evil that it seems to have in the U.S.; I went to Cuba in 2006 for my brother’s wedding and when I mentioned it off-hand to a couple of American friends, they reacted like I’d gone to North Korea, for god’s sakes.) How did the girlfriend disappear, and how did the hotel computer system get changed so they never existed on the cruise ship? How did Sean find out about Mike’s directive to fly that plane into the President? Did the surfer dude with the cast and his crazy girlfriend have anything to do with everything happening? (I think it’s obvious they did, so how do they fit in?)

There were also touches of a LOT of other shows I’ve seen before. The font used on-screen to show us the time seemed very similar to the one used on 24. The way they mention they’re in Alaska again and again on-screen like we can’t actually figure that out for ourselves even though they mention it in the dialogue and have already told us once that that is Alaska reminded me of how many times on FlashForward they had to show the future visions (speaking of which, I ended up deleting all of FF that happened after the hiatus due to a lack of caring, but I’m still curious to find out what happened and why…). There was also the FF element of jumping around in time and showing various stories of people all coming together. There’s a wormhole at the end, which made me think of Lost and Faraday’s bearing and it even made the whoosh sound that we’ve heard over and over on Lost to signal a flash of some kind.

The acting was good. The dad flying the plane was on Aliens in America, and was really REALLY funny on that show (I still miss that show). Jason Ritter was great. And I’ll watch Blair Underwood in pretty much anything. So I did enjoy it, even though it didn’t feel particularly original or unique.

Hawaii Five-0 was more fun, that’s for sure. From the opening theme song, which is barely changed (if at all) from the original version, which brought me to my feet dancing all over the room doing cheesy 60s dance moves (LOVE THAT SONG) to the immediate chemistry between Danno and Steve to James Marsters as the villain (YES!!!!!) to Jin and Sharon (YES YES!!) to the intrigue of the opening, this was more than your average cop show. We get a bit of background for each of the two main characters, and even the secondary characters get a backstory that makes us immediately sympathetic to them. I think I enjoyed this show a lot more than The Event, even though The Event intrigued me enough to check out a second episode. And since we didn't see Marsters' body in the water, could I please assume geekily that he might be back?? I hope so!

But here’s a question for y’all: Was anyone else playing “Name that Lost Location” throughout the episode?? I love having another show set in Hawaii.

So, after these eps, I was happy to say it was two for two on some solid new premieres. I was happy with both of them. But then I ask myself, “Enough to watch them every week?” … and I’m not so sure. I’m not dying for next week’s episodes yet. I don’t care enough about them to mourn their loss if they were cancelled tomorrow, but then again, not many shows can grab you from episode 1 to actually care about the characters that much.

Well, except maybe for Boardwalk Empire. Sunday night saw the premiere of HBO’s new series, and it was FANTASTIC. Steve Buscemi is long overdue to helm his own show, and he does a brilliant job playing Nucky Thompson. From the introduction of Al Capone (why did I not see that line coming??) to the recreation of 1920s Atlantic City, which makes me want to go back in time and become a Flapper, to the depiction of the slum area of the poor pregnant woman and her abusive husband… this show made me care about everyone. I thought Michael Pitt put in a great performance, and Kelly MacDonald was similarly mesmerizing. It was reminiscent of The Sopranos, mostly because of the setting (Tony would often have his meetings on that same boardwalk in Atlantic City, and I think it was the S3 premiere where he thought he saw the dead fish talking in Pussy’s voice, and he was standing on that same boardwalk) but also because of this tortured main character. He runs the show, but he has his vulnerable moments. But he’s merely not a retread of Tony Soprano; his problems are entirely different. There are two moments where we see him stop in front of store windows and look in, once into a shop where babies are in incubators, and another where a psychic is doing a palm-reading and she looks up and glares at him. He seems to be the ultimate insider, and yet in these scenes he’s on the outside looking in, as if these shops hold something that he lost. Interestingly, we see a glimpse of Nucky’s dead wife in a photograph of none other than Molly Parker, dressed in period costume much like she wore when she played Alma on Deadwood. I’m not sure why they would use a well known actress to appear in a photograph, other than to suggest we’ll see a flashback of how she died or their life together at some point, and Parker will be playing that role.

The direction was magnificent in this episode as well; Martin Scorsese, the executive producer of the show, directed it, and it looks like it… the episode took on the look of a movie, and it felt like one, too. By the end of the episode, I wanted to know what’s going to happen to Jimmy and Margaret… that scene where her husband beat her while her little girl cried and cried broke my heart. How will Nucky help her now that he’s done what he did?

Most importantly… this show had OMAR LITTLE in it. Does it get any better than that??? No.

Of the three episodes, Boardwalk Empire was hands-down the winner. I can’t wait to see next week’s episode, and if I never see another ep of The Event or Hawaii Five-0 I won’t be disappointed. That said, I think H50 is a fun show, and one worth tuning in to see when I can, and if The Event can live up to the largeness of its lead-in, it might be a better show than I’m giving it credit for here. But once again, the cable network won out.

Did you watch last night’s new shows? If so, what did you think?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Lost Days!

Thanks to redeem for this link!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Roger Waters: The Wall Live

Last weekend my husband and I were chatting and he mentioned something about Roger Waters doing a live version of The Wall. I said, "That sounds amazing, could you imagine?" and he looked at me with some surprise and said, "Why, do you want to go? I have 4 tickets and haven't figured out who the fourth person will be. You should come!" I then thought sure, before thinking no, I had a lot of work to do and I should really update the blog and I'm behind on TV and I'd really like to read a book... and then thought it would still be really cool to see The Wall. The next day he kept bugging me and I said nah, I'm sure someone else would like it more than I would. So he gave the ticket to my brother. I posted on Facebook that I'd turned down a ticket to The Wall and it might have been a mistake, and several people responded that it was historic and I HAD to get that ticket back. So I emailed my brother, who happily handed it back and even offered to babysit (best brother ever).

And boy, am I glad I changed my mind.

I've never been a huge fan of Pink Floyd. I've listened to a lot of their stuff, my husband is a Syd Barrett fan so he typically plays the early stuff a lot, but of their albums, The Wall is probably my favourite. In the late 80s, MuchMusic (the Canadian equivalent of MTV) used to play a lot of amazing music movies -- Tom Waits' Big Time seemed to air all the time, and The Wall was another one they showed on an endless loop. I think I saw it for the first time when I was 15, and thought it was absolutely insane, and I've seen it once since. I knew the gist of the album -- Waters had been fed up with the audiences at the Pink Floyd shows, going so far as to spit on an audience member at one show. After the incident he apologized, but said sometimes he was just so frustrated by the way the audience acted that he wished he could construct a wall between himself and them.

The Wall is about Pink (who is basically Waters himself), and through 4 sides of the record (in the olden days when it was on vinyl and cassette) you go through Pink's childhood and then teenage years, through to his marriage and the dissolution of that. Throughout his life he constructs a mental wall that separates himself from the rest of society, and at the end of side 2 the wall is complete. Side 3 is about how isolated he feels and how he realizes that he actually needs the people that he's just shut out, and through the end of the album he imagines himself a pseudo-dictator before putting himself on trial, demanding over and over, "Tear down the wall!!" before it comes crashing down and he begins to see a possible new life for himself.

The tour for The Wall was incredibly expensive, and the band only did a few shows to support it. It was revived in 1990 when the Berlin Wall fell, and that's the last anyone saw of it. On Wednesday night Roger Waters kicked off the new tour of The Wall, and the show was unbelievable.

When you walked into the stadium, the sides of the wall were constructed on the stage. Through the first couple of songs, Waters was on a riser behind the wall and the audience went nuts to see him. When the band moved into "Another Brick in the Wall," everyone in the audience was singing along. Suddenly an enormous puppet of the Teacher from the crazed movie, all bug-eyed and menacing, appeared on the side of the stage and began looming over the audience. The song switched to Part 2, and the now-familiar, "We don't need no education" rang out throughout the auditorium before a group of children from the Regent Park Children's Choir ran onto the stage and began singing the children's chorus part of the song. It was glorious (they even sang it in the British accents!!) Roger came around to the front to join them, and they all pointed at the teacher and yelled, "Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!" Awesome. Here's a pretty good video of the song (this only picks up with Part 2):

You'll notice in the background of the video that as the song progressed, roadies came onto the stage and started building up the wall. This continued throughout the show, with various bricks being moved around and used in interesting ways, projecting images on it (some of fallen soldiers as he sang the song about losing his father in the war) and for "Mother," a huge inflatable puppet of the overprotective mom much like the Teacher came out of the side and again loomed over the proceedings.

By the end of the second side, the wall was almost complete except for one final block, and Waters stepped up to that block and sang "Goodbye Cruel World" through it before the wall was complete:

It was gorgeous. At that point there was an intermission, and then the band returned and did "Hey You" entirely behind the wall, before singing "Is Anybody Out There," which was poignant and effective when we were the people on the other side of the wall. They were hidden behind it and you could see nothing but this wall separating you and this desperate man hidden behind. It was very effective. There was darkness, before a square opened up on the one side of the wall and you could see Waters sitting in a lounge chair watching the television, and he sang "Nobody Home" before coming to the front of the stage and performing a few songs on his own with the band still behind the wall. One of those was Comfortably Numb, which was possibly my favourite song of the night (another singer came to the top of the wall to sing Gilmour's parts). It blew my mind. This video's a little bumpy, but it has great sound and you can hear how beautiful the song was:

From there we moved into Pink's bigger crisis, where he's the dictator, and at this point Waters and the band came out all wearing black hoodies and you couldn't see any of them. A friend of mine with me who is a huge Pink Floyd fan told me that the idea behind that number was to show that the audience would clap for anyone, and who's to say that's actually Roger Waters wearing that hoodie? (It was.) During this segment of the show there was a remote controlled giant inflated pig flying above the audience's heads with capitalist slogans all over it.

The most spectacular number was at the end, "The Trial." The band once again moved behind the stage (it could have been pre-recorded for all I know) and Waters sat on a riser on the edge of the stage singing while we watched the long section from the movie projected onto the front of the wall. By the end of it the audience was all on its feet, fists pumping in the air and shouting, "Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall!" and then... it came down. It was incredible.

In the midst of the rubble, Waters came out with his band and quietly sang "Outside the Wall," as one spotlight shone on him to show the hope of his future. He then thanked everyone for coming and left.

The show was epic; if you have a chance to see it, I can't recommend it enough. The only thing that no longer works in the context of this massive production (if it ever did, to be honest) is the anti-capitalist message throughout. It's hard to come down hard on capitalism when you're charging $250 a ticket. But that's a pretty small nitpick against an otherwise awesome show.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Look at Ben's Journal!!

I'm sitting at the ACC waiting to see Roger Waters perform "The Wall" and I just got a note from Justin L. on Facebook directing me to the first look at Ben's journal. What a generous thing for these Lost fans to share it with all of us after buying it at auction. Thank you!! Go here to see the first few pages.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Fall TV Schedule

Every year I complain that Entertainment Weekly gets their Fall TV Preview issue out later and later, usually after many of the shows have already premiered. And here I am leaving it to the second week of September to get mine out. Ah well... most haven't premiered yet, so here we go! This is what I'll be watching this fall:

The Event: This is the one that had all of the buzz at Comic-Con. The trailer is slick, it's intriguing, but then again, so was the trailer and the buzz for Flashforward. I have the same feeling about this trailer: I'm looking forward to seeing the show, but I also worried that the show already seems pretty full of itself based on the bombastic preview. That said, I'm tuning in on September 20 for the premiere. Here's the trailer to see for yourself:

No Ordinary Family: The Incredibles meets Lost meets Heroes. An ordinary family crashes onto an island and realizes, after rescue, that the island had mysterious properties (electromagnetism, perhaps??) and it's given them all superpowers. The cast is stellar -- Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis are the parents -- and while at first I scoffed at the premise, after seeing the trailer I'm totally there. It premieres September 28.

Hawaii Five-0: Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. Need I say more? Unlike Nikita, which is attempting a remake only about 10 years after the original TV series went off the air (I blogged about the premiere here), this one is old enough that a remake isn't off-the-wall. And by the looks of the trailer, it's pretty different from the original. OK, fine. I'm totally watching to spot Hawaiian locations from Lost. And Daniel Dae Kim. It premieres September 20 at 10pm.

Boardwalk Empire: Frankly, I've been pretty disappointed with network TV lately... while I'm about to list a LOT of shows that I'll be tuning into this fall, very few of them will become must-see viewing on my PVR. But HBO and Showtime are the ones that have me the most excited. And the trailer for Boardwalk Empire makes me drool. I cannot WAIT for this show. It premieres next Sunday, September 19 at 9pm.

Raising Hope: While flipping through trailers for all of the fall shows, I stumbled upon this one. Martha Plimpton stars (love her...) and this trailer made me laugh so hard at one point I couldn't breathe (while our family didn't have a hole in the bottom of the car, we had one back door that wouldn't stay shut and my parents looped a seatbelt through it; one day we were driving and Mom turned a corner and my brother literally flew out the car and into a snowbank. I remember laughing so hard it hurt, although now I look back on it and think how HORRIBLY that could have ended up! But it didn't, so... it's still hilarious.) This trailer is awesome, and it premieres September 21 at 9pm.

I think that's it for new shows. And what else will I be tuning in to see?

Nikita: I'm skeptical still, but like I mentioned in my blog post, I'll watch for a few more episodes and see if it can hold my interest.

Being Human S2: I'm currently OBSESSED with series 1 of Being Human, which aired on Space in August. I'm almost finished the season, and series 2 will begin October 28 on Space. I cannot wait.

Fringe: Love love love this show, probably the one I'm most excited about returning on September 23 at 9pm.

Dexter: OK, no, it's tied with Dexter, one of my all-time favourite shows, which returns September 26 at 10pm on The Movie Network in Canada. Apparently it picks up immediately where S4 left off. I won't say anything more to avoid spoiling people currently catching up.

Friday Night Lights: No wait, there are THREE shows that are tied (this is turning into the Spanish Inquisition sketch). Friday Night Lights' fourth season was stellar, and the fifth will, officially, be the last. It airs on DirecTV starting October 27 (which is when I'll be watching) and then on NBC at some point in 2011, probably in June again, which totally sucks for the majority of viewers who are watching it that way. I'll be tuning in in October, and will unfortunately have to keep my mouth shut about it. Argh.

The Big Bang Theory: I got completely caught up on this show last year, and I'm truly in love. (Yes, you're right; it's now a four-way tie.) I hope this show stays on the air eternally. It premieres September 23 at 8pm.

30 Rock and The Office: Both of these slipped last year... to be honest, I've yet to watch the last two episodes of the Office! And now that Steve Carell is leaving the show at the end of this season, I'm losing interest in it already. But I'll stick it out for another season on both. They premiere on September 23.

Glee: I'm a total gleek, but the second half of the show's first season -- i.e. the part they filmed after they knew the world adored them -- was overblown and somewhat boring. They now seem to choose the songs and then build an episode around them, rather than the other way around. Here's hoping Glee doesn't get so full of itself that it's unbearable in S2. Because I love Kurt and Sue Sylvester and don't want their show to suck. It premieres September 21 (and I've already talked about this on Facebook, but the ultimate guide to Glee -- a book I signed up and worked on -- is hitting stores right about now, and you need to pick it up! Order a copy here or pick up a signed copy direct from the publisher here).

Modern Family: Another show that I adore. Can't wait for the return of this wacky family, especially Cameron and Gloria. Returns September 22 at 9pm.

OK, what else! Well, everyone's been telling me since, like, FOREVER, that I should be watching How I Met Your Mother. And Omni, this odd network in Canada, is putting it in syndication starting tomorrow, so I've already set the PVR and will be watching it. You guys had better be right!

The Vampire Diaries: I've still got about 14 episodes on my PVR from season 1... for me, it was a tough go to get into it (I originally watched it as it premiered and then gave up after 3 eps) because it just seemed like Buffy-lite to me. Oh look, there's a broody vampire who's in love with the main chick who's independent but not as tough or vulnerable or likable as Buffy. He's trying to be good, almost like he has a soul or something. But oh look, there's a badass vampire who's all evil and won't give it up and such... kind of like this peroxided vampire on Buffy... or Angelus himself. But then again, that could be said for most vampire shows, and it's not like... oh. Her best friend is a witch. Um... will she be dating a werewolf any time soon? But then a friend of mine convinced me I HAD to give it a chance and she swears it's the second coming of Buffy, and so I'm giving it another chance. I'm about 8 or 9 episodes in and I'm enjoying it, but still skeptical. But I trust her opinion... in fact, I'm not the only one who trusts it! She's written a brilliant companion guide to the show called Love You to Death (which I would LOVE to link to but the html code that Amazon keeps giving me is super-wonky and I can't get it to work) and if you are a TVD fan, you MUST HAVE THIS BOOK. So wish me luck as I continue to try to catch up! (Season 2 premiered last week on September 9.)

Supernatural: Watched some of season 1, loved it so much and wondered where it had been all my life (when I saw it, it was the first show I'd seen since 2003 that reminded me of Buffy in a really good way, as in this could help fill the Buffy-less void in my life) but then the Finding Lost series got in the way and I stopped. I'm determined to get through all of the seasons before the end of the year. (Which means I'll probably be dropping many of the shows previously listed!) The new season premieres September 24.

Doctor Who: I posted on the first two episodes, and am still watching it and enjoying it. This is another show I'm catching up on through the magic of DVD, and frankly starting to wonder if watching anything live as it happens is worth it anymore.

And... I think that's it? Oh, and I'm also reading non-Lost books for the first time in a long time, and loving it. Which, at times, makes me think I'll just sell my TV and go back to reading full-time. But then... this blog would become a book club, and that's not really what it's about. So I watch TV for all of you. Not for myself AT ALL. *cough*

So what are all of you watching? Will you be tuning in to some of the same shows I am?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

True Blood Season 3

So, I promised many posts on True Blood's third season, and tonight is the season finale and here I am posting on it for the first time. Sigh. Sorry... (I'll be MUCH better with Fringe's season 3, I promise.)

This season started off with a bang, and there was SO much to love in the beginning of it. Jason Stackhouse reached a new level of idiocy that was absolutely hilarious (my favourite Stackhouse quote is now "There are two kinds of people in the world: people who got no dreams, people who got dreams and don’t do nothing about it and people who go out and fulfill their dreams"); Lafayette was AWESOME in every scene, whether it was taking care of Tara or going to visit his crazy mom or just being an all-around bitch to everyone; Eric was.... Eric (he doesn't have to be much more for me to be happy); Pam stepped up into a bigger role ("Just lie back and think of Estonia"); Terry Bellefleur was as sweet as ever, especially when he read his "10 reasons why you can trust me with your kids" list and it included the fact that he'd found a hurt baby armadillo by the road and nursed it back to health and now it sleeps under his bed (HAHA!); oh, and Sookie? You need to dye that hair black and become a goth... the scene where she was disguised as a werewolf biker chick was amazing... it was like seeing Claire Littleton with black hair.

But then as the season went on, I became less and less enamoured of it. Lafayette, who can cut a person down with a single look, turned into a little puppy when he was with Jesus. It was sweet, in a way, but it also rendered his character less interesting, and it seemed as if Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, was uncomfortable with the scenes.

Bill, once again, was separated from Sookie, and frankly, I liked her with Werewolf Boy a lot more. He was a great character, and so much could have been mined from him, but he seems to have returned to the shadows. So much was made of the werewolf pack in the beginning, and that seems to have been tossed aside in the recent episodes. Bill almost killed Sookie because of his bloodlust, and then they just moved on from that, too, like it wasn't important.

The Sookie as Fairy development was strange, but intriguing. I'm not sure exactly where they're going with it, but it's not clear why this is coming up all of a sudden and just seems inserted into everything. Why didn't Bill mention anything about this earlier if he's known all along?

I was at a sci-fi con in July and I sat in on a True Blood panel about the books vs. the TV series. It was a fun panel, even though I've never read a single one of the books (I was there to find out if doing so would be worth my time) and someone said, "I cannot WAIT for Crystal to show up!" and someone on the panel said, "Guess what? She's on tonight's episode!" I was intrigued... what sort of character would be so great that people were buzzing about her arrival? Um... the daughter of some meth dealer. Who happens to shape-shift into a panther. And... that's about it so far. She's annoying, she switches sides when it's convenient for her, it's clear she's afraid of her family and she's looking for Jason to save her, but every time he tries she turns on him again. So far I don't like her, but presumably she's going to play a bigger role if the fans of the book series are excited about her.

Tara is just plain annoying. I haven't been able to stand her for much of this season (nor most of last season, for that matter). She's the same angry person who judges everyone around her -- yelling at Sookie that Bill is dangerous while probably still healing from the beatings that Eggs laid on her -- while having sex to dull her pain, only for that -- once again -- to go terribly. I love Tara's caustic mouth, but this season the strength of Rutina Wesley is to be wide-eyed and shaking uncontrollably while bitching through every scene.

There are many things to love about this season, though: Eric's past, when we went back and saw how Russell had destroyed his entire family before his eyes, and Eric's centuries'-long vengeance against him; Edgington himself, and his loopy craziness after Talbot was killed (including carrying his disgusting bloody innards around in a crystal vase)... the scene of him appearing on the news broadcast and declaring war on humanity was brilliant; the Arlene pregnancy story and the agony she's going through, worrying that the baby might be Rene's, and her desperate attempts to end the pregnancy.

I wasn't so sure about Sam's shape-shifting family at first, but I think it's an interesting new plot point this season. Sam's always been so upset about the bad upbringing he had, only to find out that if his mother HADN'T given him away, his past would have been far more painful. That said, while I'm intrigued by what his family did to make money and how they threw their own son to the wolves -- quite literally -- I'm not impressed by this sudden past of Sam's that's come from out of nowhere? Seriously? He was like Sawyer only a couple of years ago, taking women for their money only for the con to be turned on him? He's skeezy and slimy, nothing like the Same we know. I just can't even fathom that, and it seemed like a convenient and ludicrous addition to a beloved character's past.

I also love the tenderness that has been shown this season with the other vampires. Eric shows a love to Pam that we hadn't seen before, leaving everything he has to her. Pam, similarly, can't take her eyes off the CCTV as she watches her Maker smoldering in the sunlight, knowing he's ready to sacrifice himself to kill Edgington. Bill was going to abandon Jessica but changed his mind when she appealed to him (I've loved just about every scene she's been in this season, by the way), and the only thing holding Jessica back from reuniting with Hoyt is that she believes she's not good enough for him. I'm intrigued by what Hoyt's horrible mother is cooking up with the little chiquita she set up to take her son away from Jessica.

So, I'm still a huge fan of True Blood, and the cliffhanger this season's penultimate episode was breathtaking. I can't wait to see how that resolves, and how this season will wrap up.

In the meantime, I want to mention once again Becca Wilcott's brilliant companion guide to True Blood, Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion, a book that had me incredibly prepared for the ins and outs of this season. It's funny and insightful, and one of the best companion guides I've ever edited.

Happy viewing tonight!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nikita . . . Mark IV

I didn't actually have Nikita on my list of shows to watch for this fall. Because I already have far too many shows that I watch, and I have about 4 or 5 that I want to check out (I'll post on those this weekend), I didn't want to add a show I feel like I've already watched... three other times. First there was the French film, La Femme Nikita, which was awesome. Then the U.S. remake starring Bridget Fonda, which was pretty good, but it was basically a retread of the first. Then the TV version, shot here in Toronto and starring Peta Wilson. I LOVED that show. Loved it. Watched it, cursed them only when they were filming in the neighbourhood of my workplace in the Beach area of Toronto (their film trucks would take up several streets and I could never find parking), and even edited a brilliant episode guide to the show written by Dawn Connolly, called La Femme Peta. I knew that show inside and out.

So why would I watch a remake of a show that's not only recent (seriously? You're remaking a show a decade after the previous version ended?) but one that I knew so well? To be honest, I was tired, it was on. That's... pretty much it.

The thing is, 2010 Nikita is not a retread of the previous one. There's a lot that's the same, many things that I liked much better the first time around, and things I liked more in the second one, but it's a very interesting take on the show. First, it's almost like we're expected to know the first one. Peta Nikita was a street kid, she was tough but vulnerable, she was in love with Michael, and she managed to get out, but then got back in. New Nikita is less vulnerable, there was something between her and Michael, but when the show begins, she's already out. All of that first season of Peta Nikita was showing us what it was like for her to learn how to be an agent with them, whereas in the new version, we see that same process through a different kid, Alex. So while wizened, older Nikita has managed to escape and is trying to take down Division from the outside, this younger kid is being recruited on the inside. You get the early days of Peta Nikita, and the later ones, all wrapped up into one show.

I loved Peta Wilson as Nikita, so it's going to take a lot to get me on board with Maggie Q. And while she's good, she lacks that vulnerability I loved about Peta's take on it. And Roy Dupuis as Michael simply isn't even touched by Shane West, that dude from ER. I LOOOOOOOVED Roy Dupuis. He was hot hot hot, he had that low, myserious way of talking, his face never changed expression, and yet you could tell he wanted to be more than the person he was in the agency. Shane West doesn't have any of those qualities yet, but we'll see how he does.

It's interesting that they kept the same names for many of them. There are two Nikitas and two Michaels, and also two Birkhoffs, the nerdy guy who did the computer stuff (think of Topher on Dollhouse). The man named Operations is now Percy, and Madeline is now Amanda. I'm a big fan of Xander Berkeley (when he left 24 was pretty much when I stopped watching) and Melinda Clarke, who played an Amazon on Xena, and then ended up on Vampire Diaries last season. But I'm also partial to Eugene Robert Glazer and Alberta Watson on Peta Nikita, so it'll be interesting to see how they measure up.

Once again the show is filmed in Toronto, but while the earlier version didn't make it clear where it was set, this one clearly states it's in Manhattan. (They screw up, though: watch the scene closely where they locate Nikita in a cemetery and then refer to the GPS map to find her -- it's a map of Toronto! You can see Eglinton Ave and Mount Pleasant and Yonge Street pretty clearly on it.)

Right up to the end, I thought it was an interesting retelling of the same story, but I wasn't sure it was enough to keep it on my PVR. And then there was a twist I didn't see coming at the very end that made it a lot more interesting to me. More interesting than the compelling relationship between Nikita and Michael in the first version? I'm not sure... I thought the chemistry between Wilson and Dupuis was remarkable, and there was nothing between West and Q in the alleyway scene. But it was definitely something that will bring me back for a second episode.

If you missed the premiere and live in Canada, it will re-air on Space on Sunday night.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bookstore Surprise

I walked into a bookstore in downtown Toronto last weekend, and saw this!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Finding Lost Contest!

Hey all: Just a quick note that the first five people who got FLS6 orders in were Brooke Hall, Ian Malinski, Neil and Susan Andrews, Barb Weatherbee, and Lauren Seiler. I'll be contacting each of you shortly to arrange payment, and yours will be under the cheaper shipping regardless of what happens. Now, for everyone else, I'll be entering your names into a draw and while we wait to see if the books for the first 5 make it through the post office, one of you will get a book for free. :) I'm still taking preorders: just email me using the click-through, or email me at

And to make this more interesting, I'll send ANOTHER free book to anyone who can send me a unique photo featuring any or all of the Finding Lost series of books. (Go here to see previous pics of my readers holding them up!) I'm looking for photos that make me laugh out loud, or unique takes on it. Perhaps you want to dress up as a character and pretend you're hanging out in the jungle, preparing to defend yourself against polar bears by using my books. Or if you don't want to be in it, try your photoshop skills to put the books in very strange locations. Whatever you want to do is up to you. Deadline for entries is September 30 (I was going to put it on the 22nd and make it the anniversary of the plane crash, but the more time we can have fun with this, the better)! I'm looking forward to posting your entries!

And for everyone out there who's been missing our Lost discussions, I've come up with an idea to keep the discussion going. Yes, folks, perhaps we can work together to get past our Lost withdrawal. Watch this space for a new segment I'll be introducing where we can chat about Lost... for all of you who (like me) refuse to let it go. ;)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Mad Men: The Suitcase

I apologize that I haven't had a chance to blog on much of this season of Mad Men. But last night's episode was extraordinary, and I simply had to say something about it.

"The Suitcase" is basically a set piece, almost like a play featuring Don Draper and Peggy Olsen, with all of the other characters just playing the chorus, moving in and out of the action while never being a focus. The way Weiner played with these two, moving them like chess pieces back and forth across the board throughout the episode, was incredible.

At the beginning, Peggy and the three dunderheads she now has to tolerate in the copy writing room put on a ridiculous (but hilarious) performance of the Samsonite commercial they want to do. Peggy never really seems to have her heart in it, and Don can tell. Half-drunk and generally falling apart, he bites her head off and tells her to go back to the drawing board. Most of his actions in the ep are driven by the fact that he's received a phone call from Stephanie, Anne Draper's niece, and he knows what the call is about -- Anne has cancer, and she's probably just died. He can't bring himself to make the call, because he can't handle actually hearing the words that this woman -- the only woman who truly knows him, as he'll later say -- could be gone. He's been hanging by a thread for most of the season, and the only time he seemed like himself was when he was with her and being, well, himself: Dick Whitman.

And so he takes out his frustrations on Peggy. It's Peggy's birthday, and she has a date with her wiener of a boyfriend (who played Karl on Lost, he of the Room 23 brainwashing scene), who, unbeknownst to her, has arranged the dinner with all of her loathsome family. Don keeps her after work, and in between dealing with Don's drunken rages, Peggy continually calls her boyfriend at the restaurant to keep telling him she'll be a bit later. To every viewer's relief, he eventually blows up at her and breaks up with her over the phone (he's the Joe Jonas of his time!!) and Peggy wanders back to Don's office, where he finally shuts up for once when he sees her misery. Though... that doesn't stop him from telling her off for being a big suck on her birthday. Don hits a new low in this episode -- the difference is, this time he KNOWS it.

There are many parallels drawn between the Peggy and Don relationship: Don giggles hysterically as he listens to Roger's tapes of his autobiography, where Roger talks about playing second fiddle to Bert Cooper and worrying that Bert won't think he's good enough. Just as Roger had to pander to Bert, Don had to suck up to Roger, and now Peggy finds herself in the same position, trying to win Don's praise. But unlike all of the men, Peggy won't compromise who she is, and never changes: She stands before Don in this episode and finally tells him what she thinks of him taking the glory for the Glo-Coat commercial that she'd come up with. She reminds him of the many good ideas she's had along the way. She knows that she owes Don -- he took a chance on her, and on a personal level, he was the guy who came to her in the hospital right after she'd had a baby and suffered a mental breakdown -- but she's done owing him. When he finally shapes up and takes her to a Greek restaurant, where they sit under a painting and talk about travel, they sit across the table as equals, not one person battling the other. There's no hierarchy or rivalry in this scene.

From there they go to a bar, where Peggy -- unlike all of the guys at Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce -- does NOT get drunk, and they listen to the Liston-Clay fight that ended less than 2 minutes after it began. Cassius Clay would become Muhammad Ali, and he trounced Sonny Liston. He was the one no one saw coming (even Don bet $100 on Liston). Similarly, throughout this season we've watched the great, unstoppable Don Draper fall time after time, and he's becoming as useless as Roger on the job. How can this be the same guy who did the monologue about the Kodak carousel at the end of season 1?

Broken by his failed marriage, his wife and kids, his stressful job, and younger people who are doing their jobs better than he can, Don has found solace at the bottom of a bottle (well, and between the legs of just about every woman he sees). He's destroying himself, and just as Peggy was picked up at her lowest point by Don, here she sits and talks to him, and finally tells him what he's doing to himself. He tells her about the dreaded phone call, and falls apart. She holds his hat while he vomits into the toilet, and she strokes his hair as he falls crying into her lap. Don couldn't be alone on this difficult evening, and it's important that Peggy is the one he's with.

When Duck Phillips stumbles into the offices to leave a "gift" for Don, Peggy's fling with him is now apparent to Don, but considering many of his past transgressions, he can't judge Peggy for what she did, and he doesn't. He waves it off, she gets rid of Duck, and we know that Peggy won't go with Duck to the new firm -- she's smarter than that.

The next morning, Don gets up and finally finds the nerve to make that fateful phone call, only to find out it's worse than we thought -- Stephanie wasn't calling to say Anne was dead, but that she was at death's door, and wanted to talk to Don. He missed his opportunity, and now she's gone. His fear and self-destruction kept him from his last conversation with Anne (which probably wouldn't have been a good one, but it would have been something). The moment she died, however, he had awakened in his office with a vision of her, holding that Samsonite suitcase and waving goodbye as she left on her exciting new journey. Peggy had pitched an idea of Samsonite being the ultimate case you take with you wherever you go, but Don didn't like it.

The next day, disheveled and tired, Don and Peggy awake in the office. He shows her the ad that he'd come up with that mirrors the Liston/Clay fight, and Peggy begins to question his work the same way he does hers. He takes offense in much the same way, and she waves it off, saying she's just tired and tells him it's very, very good. Just before she leaves to go home and get cleaned up, Don takes her hand and holds it. They gaze at each other for a long time, and Peggy leaves. She'll return a couple of hours later, and it'll be business as usual at the firm as far as everyone else is concerned. But what happened that night was monumental. Don was K.O.'d, but Peggy helped him back up. The relationship between the two has changed, and perhaps they can move forward more as equals, rather than the traditional ageing boozehound and the young upstart who's out to push him to the side.

"The Suitcase" was a phenomenal episode, and one of my favourite hours of television of the year.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Finding Lost S6: Now Taking Pre-Orders for Autographed Copies!

Hey y'all: So, my book officially went to the printer on September 1, and I took one last look at it and had to "let it go." Sigh. No more semicolons to fix. No more chasing dangling participles through the jungles of my grammar. And I think somewhere along the way I cut the book's dural sac and had to piece that together, too. But don't worry: I only let the fear in for 5 seconds.

I finally saw the full cover the other day, and here it is in all its glory!

(Click to see enlarged version.) See that? The jungle that was originally behind the chessboard has been moved to the back and made all dark and creepy. Love it. ;)

So, as I've been saying over on my Facebook page, the book ended up being a bit longer than my other book, I think by 40 pages or something. Which means that where the previous book teetered precariously at 504g at the post office, the new one will set those scales ablaze, and they'll push it into the higher-priced shipping territory. Unfortunately this could take a $7 shipping price and put it into double digits (and I can't even imagine what would happen in the UK).

So here's what I propose. At this stage, what I'll do is collect addresses from anyone interested in buying a copy (signed!!) from me. The price is $14.95 US, and $16.95 CDN (if you live outside of North America, it's up to you which amount you want to pay; I think it's pretty much the same?). Now, I'm not asking for any money at this time, just who is interested so I can make up a list. Then, the first 5 people on that list, I'll send the book out to them at cheaper rates and we'll see if we can manage to sneak them through the post office. And if we do, then it's a free-for-all (well, less-cost-for-all) and at that time, I'll email you back individually, let you know the final full price of the book, and we'll arrange for payment and shipping. If not, I'll pay the extra shipping on those first 5 books for those people, and email everyone else to tell you what the new price will be. And if you're still open to picking up a copy from me (I won't be offended if you're not!), then we'll arrange for payment and I'll send it off.

Now, this information is for the future, where we shall time travel and discover that (yay!) it managed to get past the post office peeps. Paypal is the easiest way to pay, and I can give you the details when I email you, but if it is the lower rate, then in Canada it'll probably cost about $3.50 to ship out, $7 to ship to the U.S., and $14 to ship it overseas (I know... gak). If it doesn't make it past the officials, those prices could double (and if you're living overseas, I doubt you'll want to do it that way!)

If you order now, I'll also throw in my new nifty, shiny bookmark that I'll also sign, with all of the covers of my books on it, which retails for, um... *cough* but can be yours for FREE! Act now, quantities are limited!

OK, they're not limited, I can always order more. But act now!

So if you're interested (again, at this point don't send any money), just email me here and let me know if you want a copy, and send me your full address with postal code or zip (I'll need that to calculate the costs should it become higher). And again, the first 5 people who send me their name and address will automatically get the cheaper shipping rate and their books will be sent out the day I receive them from the printer. :) If that link above doesn't work, just look at the top lefthand side of the blog, under my picture, and click on the option to email me.

I hope you guys like it! When I did my final flip through the book, I was really really happy with it. Sigh... NOW Lost is over for me. Sadness.