Sunday, November 28, 2010

Buffy Rewatch Schedule

Hello everyone! Since I posted on the Great Buffy Rewatch, there's been a ton of interest in it, which warms my heart and proves to me what I already knew: People still love Buffy! And I think in the face of the dreaded Jossless reboot, they want to do a rewatch even more to remember the way Buffy's story was SUPPOSED to be told. It was posted to Whedonesque here, and then that story was immediately tweeted everywhere, and my site visits tripled in one day. So I think we're going to get a lot of newcomers with this one, and I say welcome!

In the past week I've been chatting with the contributors a lot (and have gotten a few more on board) and they're all very excited. Many of them are tweeting and facebooking that they're going to be involved, so in a day or so I'll make a new post where I'll introduce you to the fine folks who are going to be rewatching Buffy with you. But first, I wanted to let you know what our schedule is going to be.

As mentioned, there are 144 episodes of Buffy to cover. I want to cover all of them on the Tuesdays of 2011, from January 4 to December 27, and if you do the math, that comes out to about three episodes a week. I chose a few weeks where I'll just do one episode if I think that particular episode deserves a bit more weight.

Before I post the full schedule, I wanted to clarify a couple of things. One, if this is the first time you're watching Buffy, you won't get spoiled by us. I'm a complete spoilerphobe, as my regular readers can tell you, and I've structured all of my books so that you can watch an episode and read the corresponding guide to it without being spoiled about any upcoming episodes. And the same goes for our rewatch. Each week I'll write up some intro about my own brief thoughts before turning things over to the guest columnist that week. I've told them if they'd like to keep the non-spoilery commentary at the top of their post, where they just talk about the episode itself, then we'll make a break, after which the people rewatching can keep reading the thoughts about how the episode relates to future episodes (or those watching it the first time who don't mind spoilers could keep reading, too). If the contributor makes their entire post about future episodes, not to worry, I'll just make a longer intro about the episode itself for those first-time watchers at home. We'll do our best not to spoil you, and I'm very careful about such things.

Secondly, there are a few episodes, mostly in season 1, that led to crossover episodes on Angel. While those Angel episodes won't officially be part of the rewatch, I'll be mentioning them (and telling you where you need to watch them) in case you're interested in it. The crossovers were offered mostly in the first season to bring Buffy viewers over to the new Angel spinoff, but they were written in such a way where if you didn't watch Angel, you didn't miss a thing on Buffy. However, if you did watch them, you were given a much richer story than if you just watched BtVS.

So I think I've got everything covered. I'm already getting giddy about watching Buffy again, and I can't wait to begin. But without any further ado, here is the schedule for the year, so you can start watching and pencilling in your Buffy time!! ;)

January 4
1.1 Welcome to the Hellmouth
1.2 The Harvest
1.3 The Witch

January 11
1.4 Teacher’s Pet
1.5 Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
1.6 The Pack

January 18
1.7 Angel
1.8 I Robot, You Jane
1.9 The Puppet Show

January 25
1.10 Nightmares
1.11 Out of Mind, Out of Sight
1.12 Prophecy Girl

February 1
2.1 When She Was Bad
2.2 Some Assembly Required
2.3 School Hard

February 8
2.4 Inca Mummy Girl
2.5 Reptile Boy
2.6 Halloween

February 15
2.7 Lie to Me
2.8 The Dark Age

February 22
2.9 What’s My Line? Part One
2.10 What’s My Line? Part Two
2.11 Ted

March 1
2.12 Bad Eggs
2.13 Surprise
2.14 Innocence

March 8
2.15 Phases
2.16 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
2.17 Passion

March 15
2.18 Killed By Death
2.19 I Only Have Eyes for You
2.20 Go Fish

March 22
2.21 Becoming, Part One
2.22 Becoming, Part Two

March 29
3.1 Anne
3.2 Dead Man’s Party
3.3 Faith, Hope and Trick

April 5
3.4 Beauty and the Beasts
3.5 Homecoming
3.6 Band Candy

April 12
3.7 Revelations
3.8 Lover’s Walk
3.9 The Wish

April 19
3.10 Amends
3.11 Gingerbread
3.12 Helpless

April 26
3.13 The Zeppo
3.14 Bad Girls
3.15 Consequences

May 3
3.16 Doppelgängland
3.17 Enemies
3.18 Earshot

May 10
3.19 Choices
3.20 The Prom

May 17
3.21 Graduation Day, Part One
3.22 Graduation Day, Part Two

May 24
4.1 The Freshman
4.2 Living Conditions
4.3 The Harsh Light of Day

May 31
4.4 Fear, Itself
4.5 Beer Bad
4.6 Wild at Heart

June 7
4.7 The Initiative
4.8 Pangs
4.9 Something Blue

June 14
4.10 Hush
4.11 Doomed
4.12 A New Man

June 21
4.13 The I in Team
4.14 Goodbye Iowa
4.15 This Year’s Girl

June 28
4.16 Who Are You?
4.17 Superstar
4.18 Where the Wild Things Are

July 5
4.19 New Moon Rising
4.20 The Yoko Factor
4.21 Primeval

July 12
4.22 Restless

July 19
5.1 Buffy vs. Dracula
5.2 Real Me
5.3 The Replacement

July 26
5.4 Out of My Mind
5.5 No Place Like Home
5.6 Family

August 2
5.7 Fool for Love
5.8 Shadow
5.9 Listening to Fear

August 9
5.10 Into the Woods
5.11 Triangle
5.12 Checkpoint

August 16
5.13 Blood Ties
5.14 Crush
5.15 I Was Made to Love You

August 23
5.16 The Body

August 30
5.17 Forever
5.18 Intervention
5.19 Tough Love

September 6
5.20 Spiral
5.21 The Weight of the World
5.22 The Gift

September 13
6.1 Bargaining, Part One
6.2 Bargaining, Part Two
6.3 After Life

September 20
6.4 Flooded
6.5 Life Serial
6.6 All the Way

September 27
6.7 Once More, With Feeling

October 4
6.8 Tabula Rasa
6.9 Smashed
6.10 Wrecked

October 11
6.11 Gone
6.12 Doublemeat Palace
6.13 Dead Things

October 18
6.14 Older and Far Away
6.15 As You Were
6.16 Hell’s Bells

October 25
6.17 Normal Again
6.18 Entropy
6.19 Seeing Red

November 1
6.20 Villains
6.21 Two to Go
6.22 Grave

November 8
7.1 Lessons
7.2 Beneath You
7.3 Same Time, Same Place

November 15
7.4 Help
7.5 Selfless
7.6 Him

November 22
7.7 Conversations with Dead People
7.8 Sleeper
7.9 Never Leave Me

November 29
7.10 Bring on the Night
7.11 Showtime
7.12 Potential

December 6
7.13 The Killer in Me
7.14 First Date
7.15 Get It Done

December 13
7.16 Storyteller
7.17 Lies My Parents Told Me
7.18 Dirty Girls

December 20
7.19 Empty Places
7.20 Touched
7.21 End of Days

December 27
7.22 Chosen

Friday, November 26, 2010

Space Podcast!

I was down at Space yesterday to record a podcast with Mark Askwith, talking about our Buffy rewatch, my new season 6 Finding Lost book, Lost actors, Fringe, and the DarkLit Fest, which is where I'll be tomorrow all day (Oshawa Library from 10 to 4, come down and see me!) Listen to it here. (I appear around 15:45, but listen to Natasha's part at the beginning, which was really entertaining for me to listen to while they were recording it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Buffy Rewatch

So as I mentioned earlier today on my blog, Warner has announced they are definitely going ahead with their idea of a movie based on Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer... that will not be set in a high school, nor will it have any of the original cast, nor will it have Joss Whedon attached. I'm really hoping it's a ill-timed April Fool's joke. And so today, with all of the Buffaholics walking around in sad stupors and bemoaning how in an age of Twilight and neutered vampires, people are forgetting the show that started it all, I'm here to announce that... WE HAVE TO GO BAAAACK!!!

No, not to the island, but... to Sunnydale! Yes, folks, I'm announcing the Great Buffy Rewatch!!

[Cue fireworks, the brass band, and the Buffy theme.]

OMG, look at young Willow with the long hair! And chubby-cheeked Buffy! And young Giles! And and and... Oh man, I'm giddy already. ;)

While many of you have been bugging me to do a Lost Rewatch in light of the series finale, I think Matt and Justin have been doing an excellent one already (by the way, I'm going to be joining them in a couple of weeks to recap the season 1 finale in light of the end of the series, so keep checking them out!)

In the summer, when people were asking me to do another one, I was thinking I'd rather focus on something else, and I made an off-the-cuff remark about a Buffy rewatch. And then a bunch of people jumped on that idea. "Oh no," I thought. "One hundred and forty-four episodes? Could I do it??"

No. No, I couldn't. But... with a little help from my friends I could! So a few weeks ago I was trying to figure out a way out of my conundrum, and a tiny, dim lightbulb went on over my head and I thought... "Oh my god, I could make spaghetti for dinner! That will solve the problem of us not having any chicken in the house!" And then as I was making spaghetti, a second, brighter lightbulb went on over my head and I thought, "Wait, what if I recruited guests to help me out with the Buffy rewatch?"

And luckily, I know a TON of people who are Buffy fans. So I began sending out notes to the academics and scholars I'd met through Slayage, many of whom have written Buffy books of their own. But, in keeping with the paper I presented at Slayage where I was basically arguing that anything that academics could do, bloggers could do... um... their own way, I decided I needed some other people. So now I've recruited some novelists, poets, pop culture bloggers, other writers of TV companion guides, and even a sports writer to join in the fun.

So here's the sitch: if you're a fan of Buffy, this is for you. If you've ever wanted to watch Buffy, this is for you. I'm giving you lots of time to get that box set (hint: buying the individual seasons is actually cheaper than the entire box set... go figure), go out and get a companion episode guide to all of the seasons (I would HIGHLY recommend this one, or this one, or this one), and start watching, and the Buffy watch fun will continue for the entire calendar year of 2011.

Now, if you watched Buffy live, like I did, then you remember Tuesday nights were Buffy nights (I still think of them that way) so every Tuesday a post will go up that will cover off that week's episodes. It will either be written by me or one of the many guests that I've recruited to join me on this venture (there are just over 20 on board so far). If it's a guest, I'll introduce them at the top of their column, and then let them go. They'll discuss Buffy in their own way, and I might jump in with a few words of my own at the beginning or the end. And many of them have written books, so I hope you check out their work if you like what they've written.

I'm very excited about this, and I hope you are, too!! We'll be starting on the first Tuesday of the year, January 4, and I'll be covering those episodes. I'll be posting a full schedule soon, and please join us.

If you have never watched Buffy, now's the time to do so. You all know how much work, time, and effort I've put into Lost, and yet Buffy still holds the place closest to my heart, even after all these years (and all those Lost books!) So come and find out why with a fantastic group of people who will keep you entertained all year.

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention this when I posted this last night, but I've been discussing with the contributors the idea of spoiling vs. not spoiling. My thinking is that people will keep the top part of their posts spoiler-free, just focusing on the episode at hand, and if they're going to pull in future episodes, they'll do so at a certain point with a warning in advance. However, I also didn't want to limit the way they approached the episode (for anyone who's seen Restless, for example, it's prescient of many things to come). So if their entire post pulls in things from future episodes, then I'll write my own piece at the top that is spoiler-free so the n00bs will have something to read that won't spoil them. That way if this is a first watch for you, rather than a rewatch, you'll have the option of reading ahead to see what's to come, or holding back and not spoiling yourself. Don't worry... I'll take care of ya. ;)

I'll be posting the full schedule shortly.

Joss Responds to the Buffy Reboot

As you've probably heard, as of yesterday Warner announced they are officially going forward with their idea of a Buffy reboot, using none of the cast... no Joss Whedon... and hell, let's not put her in high school, either. I mean, it's not like the high school actually played into the metaphor or anything, right? We'll call it "Resident Evil: Sunnydale Edition."

As you can probably tell, I won't exactly be the first person in line.

Anyway, Joss responded to the news late yesterday:

This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can't think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself.

Obviously I have strong, mixed emotions about something like this. My first reaction upon hearing who was writing it was, "Whit Stillman AND Wes Anderson? This is gonna be the most sardonically adorable movie EVER." Apparently I was misinformed. Then I thought, "I'll make a mint! This is worth more than all my Toy Story residuals combined!" Apparently I am seldom informed of anything. And possibly a little slow. But seriously, are vampires even popular any more?

I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I'm also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can't wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I'm making a Batman movie. Because there's a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you.

Leave me to my pain! Sincerely, Joss Whedon.

Thanks to Sagacious Penguin for the link!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jorge Garcia on a New Island

OMG... I'm so excited right now. Jorge Garcia will be starring in JJ Abrams' new pilot about... Alcatraz!!!!

I'm looking forward to him pairing up with a communications officer and trying to triangulate a signal to get off the island in the first episode. Before he builds a golf course in the courtyard where they do their daily walks. ;)

Go here to read all about it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lostaholics Anonymous: The Finale

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Lostaholics Anonymous (LA). As I mentioned, I wrote most of this earlier this week, but this is an important entry for me, so I wanted to make sure it was OK, and this week has been a busy one. My book continues to sell well on Amazon (yay!) so please go here to check it out or to leave a review if you’ve already got a copy. I apologize for the EXTREMELY slow mail service... I sent one out on Wednesday this week and was told there’s some “delay” going on at the border, where the border police are searching all packages... ugh. (That, of course, doesn’t explain why the Canadian copies are taking so long to get there!)

Anyway, I do hope you’re enjoying the book if you have one already. I also want to mention that I’ve decided to undertake another initiative on this blog, and I’ll be announcing it next week. I hope some of you are interested in taking part! LA will continue, but I’m going to start focusing on another show, and I hope you’ll like my choice! I owe you guys SO many blog posts it’s ridiculous. I swear every day I’m cooking up blog posts in my head, but never find the time to actually get them onto the blog itself.

OK! And now... it’s time for the finale! Now, I could talk about this endlessly (ask anyone who’s spoken to me since May 23) but I’d like to direct you to the 50-page analysis I have included in my season 6 book.... I wrote 22,000 words (and have to write a much shorter piece for an upcoming book on TV finales I’ll be telling you about soon), and yet I still feel like it’s only the beginning of everything I want to say about it.

I know the finale was polarizing. In the days following the finale, I excitedly took to this blog, talking about various aspects of it and why I loved it, I began to notice certain regular posters had gone silent. And that’s when I realized that while I love the fact that we don’t tend to break out into hostile fights, or people aren’t dismissive or rude to others (which is typical of most other commenting forums), the people who didn’t like the finale had decided to go silent rather than cast a pall over the blog. I felt uncomfortable about that, and welcomed varying opinions. But even when those people began weighing in, they did so with some hesitancy, again worried about offending people.

When I was working on the book, I was concerned about writing the finale. It hung over the writing of the entire book (because, yes, I wrote almost the entire thing after the finale aired... I’m apparently a masochist) and I was at once excitedly anticipating getting there (making notes the entire time I was working on the other episodes) and intimidated about taking on such a huge task. When I’d finished a first draft of it, I sent it to one of the regulars who hadn’t been thrilled by the finale, and asked if he might read it for me to make sure I hadn’t been dismissive of those who didn’t like it, and on the second draft, I infused some of his comments back into it to make sure I was giving weight to both sides of the argument. I was helped, too, by the fact that my editor was among those who didn’t like it, so she was able to challenge me on some of my comments. But in the end, I loved the finale, and wanted to let people know why.

Since the book has come out, many people have sent me personal emails and messages telling me that they didn’t like the finale, and after reading my analysis of it they’ve come around to liking it, or to at least understanding it. One woman told me she went back and rewatched it after reading my analysis, liked it, and watched it again, and loved it. I was absolutely delighted to read this.

But it’s not for everyone. The reasons I loved it are many, and listed in my book. Yes, it had Christian overtones, and I do understand why many people were turned off by that. But I saw it as being in keeping with everything that had come before it: I will admit up front that I’m a Christian (I’ve never denied it) but Charlie and Rose prayed to God, we saw Charlie as a practising Catholic in Manchester, and his heroin was hidden in Virgin Mary statues; Eko had biblical verses on his stick, built a Christian church, was a priest, said the 23rd Psalm after burning his brother’s corpse, wore Yemi’s cross; the missing Orientation reel was found in a bible; Ben analyzed the painting of Doubting Thomas; Richard Alpert was a religious man who wears his wife’s cross to remind him of her; Desmond was a monk who made “Moriah Vineyards” wine, named after the mountain where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac; biblical references abound in every season of the show... for it all to come down to some sort of Christian-seeming reference shouldn’t have come out of left field for anyone.

However, Christian references throughout are things that any fan can handle, Christian or not... using Christian iconography in the finale was less palatable for people. I said at a fan convention in the summer that perhaps if Christian had said to Jack, “Let’s go find out” and they opened the door and walked out onto the beach, where everyone else would be standing, that might have worked better. There were some gasps, and “Aahhhhhs” from the audience, until one woman raised her hand and said, “But if they did that, wouldn’t a lot of fans immediately assume that if the afterlife is the beach, then that means they’d all died in the plane crash after all?” Oh. Right.

So there goes that idea.

But, church aside, I felt like the message being sent out at the end is that the purpose of life is to know who your friends are, who is with you in the end, who was most important to you, who affected your life, and only then will you discover who you were. It wasn’t about being at one with a higher power, but about finding that higher power in friendships and the connections we make in life. It all came down to love... loving each other, loving ourselves, loving our parents and children.

That’s what I took from the show. It’s OK if you didn’t. Because the important thing about Lost was how personal it was. What I took from it and what you did are probably two very different things – it spoke to each of us, and that’s why the reaction to it has been so wide and varied.

The other major criticism of the show: It didn’t answer all of the questions. I’d like to hold off on this one for another post, and instead focus on the aspects of the finale that I’ve talked about here (unless, for you, it was the lack of answers that made you dislike it).

So here’s my questions for you: did you like or love the finale? If so, why? If you didn’t like it, why didn’t you? And now that it’s almost 6 months after the finale aired (Tuesday will mark half a year!), have your feelings about the finale changed at all?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Here's an interview I did with the I Screen, You Screen blog (which regularly puts me to shame in the way she keeps reviewing shows week after week and I... do not). ;) Sorry for the lack of Lostaholics coverage yesterday. I wrote 95% of it last night but wanted to go over it again and haven't had a chance to, so I'll post-date it for tonight. Finale talk!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breaking Bad: What a Meth!!

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I picked up the first season of Breaking Bad on DVD. It's one of those shows that I'd wanted to see from the beginning, but our cable provider didn't offer AMC as a channel and it wasn't picked up by any other broadcaster in Canada, so we were stuck. We watched the first two episodes, adored it... and then I had to write the season 5 Lost book, followed by the Lost rewatch, and then cover season 6, followed by the season 6 book. (Breaking Bad one of many shows I have on DVD where I've watched the first couple of episodes, loved it, and then Lost got in the way: see also: "Supernatural" and "Anarchy, Sons of").

So about two weeks ago, we decided to pick it up again, and since then it's been a marathon in our house (where all our other TV viewing has sadly fallen by the wayside, but I'm hoping to pick that up again soon). We're now a couple of episodes shy of the end of season 2 and I am completely hooked. Since several trusted friends and colleagues of mine have told me that season 3 is among the best seasons of television, period, I'm dying to get to that one.

The premise is lighthearted and fun: a high school chemistry teacher, Walter, is happily married with a 15-year-old son who has cerebral palsy, and his wife, who is about a decade younger than he is, is unexpectedly pregnant with their second child. And then Walt discovers he has inoperable lung cancer. Desperate not to leave his family penniless, Walter crosses paths with Jesse, a former student of his who is now a meth cook and drug dealer, and Walter becomes his cook, creating the purest form of meth the streets of Albuquerque have ever seen. Hijinks ensue.

The show would be depressing as hell if it weren't so damn funny. In the first season, Walter keeps the cancer news from his family in the beginning, sneaking around behind their backs and making up excuses for why he's not around, and why he has such a persistent cough. But when he finally has to fess up that he's dying, we are treated to one of the most incredible scenes I've seen on TV: Walt's wife, Skyler, her loopy sister and brother-in-law Hank, and Walter's son Walt Junior all confront Walter in the living room, using a "talking pillow" the same way Piggy used a conch shell in "Lord of the Flies" to stage an intervention to force him to go on chemo and radiation in an attempt to beat the cancer. (Walter has made it clear he's going to forego all treatment.) What follows is devastating yet hilarious, as they vie for the talking pillow and present arguments for and against treatment. This isn't just a one-off moment created to stage a scene involving some rare disease, it's a conversation people have every day. As we watched that scene I was thinking there was probably someone in our neighbourhood at that very moment having the same dilemma. We all know someone who's had cancer, we've probably all lost someone who's had cancer. It's what makes this show so gritty and real.

But by season 2 things begin to get out of hand, and Walter's need to give his family a nest egg gives way to his excessive greed. Jesse, his failed chemistry student, brilliantly played by Aaron Paul (whose overuse of the word "BITCH" is one of my favourite things about him), begins to put together a street team of thugs who will sling the meth for them on the corners, and among those is Badger, probably the most entertaining dumbass on television right now. And the more people you involve, the greater your chances for failure.

Bryan Cranston has won the Emmy for his performance as Walter for every year the show has been running, which is unheard of (if you don't watch Breaking Bad, you may remember him as the befuddled dad on Malcolm in the Middle). His acting is superb -- you watch this actor acting the part of the tough guy on the streets (who goes by the mysterious name "Heisenberg"), the teacher in the classroom who wishes he'd amounted to something else, and the innocent daddy at home. In every scene it's like he's playing a different person, and when he walks up to one of the street toughs and stares him down, you get chills down your spine. Yet that same man walks into his house and turns into a stuttering idiot in front of his wife as he tries to come up with a reason for why he didn't come home on time.

Meanwhile in the background are several other storylines, and we know there was a mysterious past that Walter had with two other people who run a multimillion dollar company, and that Skyler had her own secrets, which become a little clearer in season 2.

This show is stunning, and there are nights where it's painful to turn off the DVD player (and then we reminisce about those pre-children days where it would be 3 a.m. and we'd say, "Just one more episode of The Sopranos! We'll catch up on sleep on the weekend...")

If you haven't checked out this show, please do. And if you have, please leave a comment telling people why they need to see this (and try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Never Forget...

The more important day of remembering was yesterday (I was actually in tears at my daughter's school assembly) but today is one we should remember, too.

(via Geekosystem)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lostaholics Anonymous: Ben Linus

Hello and welcome to this week’s Lostaholics Anonymous. The book is out now, I’ve done a couple of interviews, and it’s up to NINE reviews on Amazon! I’m so excited!! Every time I check in and see another one I have another little squeal of excitement. I just discovered this week that the first week of the book’s sales were higher than any other first week of any of the series, so that was also a very happy moment for me. I guess all that media I did way back in May paid off after all! ;) (In case you’re wondering, I also have a copy of the gigantic Lost Encyclopedia and I hope to get a review up soon on that one.) Once again, if you’ve bought the book on Amazon and liked it, please head on over and leave a review on there. It helps with the book’s visibility, especially around Christmas when it will get overshadowed by all the Justin Bieber memoirs. ;)

I’m so sorry to be so late on this week’s L.A. post. My day job is bleeding into my evenings lately because I’m too busy, but this was a week I’ve been looking forward to for a while (even though Fringe is on RIGHT NOW I’m writing this up... because that’s how much I care about you guys!). We’ve covered off the main dude, the main gal, the third corner of that love triangle, and John Locke, and now it’s time for... the villain.

Oh yes, it’s Ben Linus night!! Where do I start with Ben??

Last year when we were doing the Lost rewatch of seasons one through five, there was a lot of excitement in the first half of season 2. It wasn’t because it was where Desmond first showed up (OK, maybe a little over here) or because of the science vs. faith arguments happening in the Swan, but because of one refrain... “Two more episodes until Henry Gale! One more episode until Henry Gale!” Oh Henry Gale... you showed up on my TV and my favourite show was never the same.

From the moment he Keyser Soze’d the entire group of survivors and walked down the dock in those rags, Ben Linus was the fave character among many fans. I’m sure there are people out there who didn’t like him (and if you’re out there, I’m dying to know what you thought if you didn’t like him) but many of us loved him. LOATHED him, but loved loathing him. Michael Emerson played him with such aplomb, it was an absolute joy watching week to week and wondering just what this guy was going to do next.

In season 2 he pretended to be Henry Gale, almost got himself killed, but ended up getting two other people killed instead. He appeared to be the head guy, no matter what he’d told Sayid, and by the end of season 2 we just assumed they were all following his lead. In season 3 we immediately saw his vulnerability – he had a tumour on his spine and needed Jack to perform surgery – but he continued to be deliciously evil, while apparently following (begrudgingly, it seemed) some guy named Jacob. At the end of that season we finally got the Linus flashback, and saw there was once a time when this cold, heartless villain had been a sad, sweet, scared little boy who just wanted his mother back.

In season 4 he saw his power slip away, he lost the respect of his followers, and he was forced to follow John Locke, who appeared to have taken his place. It added more of a comic element to Ben (even though he’d always been hilarious before then, IMO), while flashforwards revealed the return of cold, heartless Ben as he turned Sayid into a hitman and then just left him there. Losing Alex was the thing that changed him utterly when he went off the island, and meant he had nothing more to lose, so he could play the game even more wildly than he’d done before. In season 5 we saw him kill John Locke and return his body to the island, but at the end of the season there was a turning point in Ben. Just as he’d resigned himself to having lost all his power, he suddenly came face to face with Jacob and realized his life had all been a sham. He killed Jacob out of feeling underappreciated, but quickly knew that he’d been a pawn of the Man in Black all along, and had never been one of the good guys, even though he’d thought he was.

Season 6, sadly, left us a little bereft of our Ben. He had some great moments in “Mr. Linus” and his sideways world self was a wonderful display of what could have happened to Ben had his life turned out differently (and had he made different choices along the way) but evil Ben wasn’t really there in the way we usually liked. By the end of the series he’d been redeemed, and became Hurley’s Number Two, where he actually became (finally) a useful and important follower of the island.

There are some great Ben moments that cannot be overlooked. The first great Ben moment happens at the end of “The Whole Truth” in season 2, when Locke and John finally let Ben out of the armoury to give him something to eat.

GALE: This must be my reward for good behavior, huh? I guess I earned myself some good will for finally drawing that map for Ana.
LOCKE: What map?
GALE: To my balloon.
JACK: [to Locke] Did you...
GALE: Wow, you guys have some real trust issues, don't you? Guess it makes sense she didn't tell you. I mean, with the two of you fighting all the time. Of course, if I was one of them -- these people that you seem to think are your enemies -- what would I do? Well, there'd be no balloon, so I'd draw a map to a real secluded place like a cave or some underbrush -- good place for a trap -- an ambush. [Gales pours himself some cereal.] And when your friends got there a bunch of my people would be waiting for them. Then they'd use them to trade for me. I guess it's a good thing I'm not one of them, huh? [Pause.] You guys got any milk?

I still remember the glorious shivers that ran through me after that scene. BRILLIANT.

My other fave Ben line:

LOCKE: Can I ask you a question?
BEN: I’m a Pisces.

Ha!! Not only is that the best Ben comeback ever, but considering we know his birthday was on December 19, he’s even lying about THAT!

No, wait... that wasn’t the best Ben comeback ever. This was:

JACK: How can you read?
BEN: My mother taught me.

Again, brilliant because not only is it filled with snark, but if his mother died giving birth to him, then she couldn’t have taught him to read.

Oh Ben. How I miss you.

What are your favourite Ben Linus moments?

Next week: Sharpen your pens (or... um... typing fingers?) and load those chef’s knives in the dishwasher pointy-end up! After five weeks of talking about the characters, I’ve decided to pause on them for a bit and jump right into the finale. We’re going to start with why we loved or hated it, and whether our thoughts of have changed between our initial reaction and how we feel now, then that discussion will probably go on for a bit (I might even have a couple of biweekly LA posts to deal with it) before we move to some specifics. This is the discussion I’ve wanted to have from the beginning, but figured it might be better to ease us in by talking about our favourite moments, and then characters. But now it’s time to talk about the meat of this thing: the finale. Looking forward to it!

Motivational Posters

Sorry to make you wait on the Lostaholics Anonymous meeting, which will be up shortly. In the meantime, I've been distracted by this site that allows you to make your own fake motivational posters. Here was my first attempt, and I suspect I'll be wasting loads of time making many more.

Go here to make your own, and please send them to me so I can post them below in this post. ;)


Thanks to Rochard Scott for sending me this one! :)

I LOVE this one that Lisa just sent to me (I want it in an actual poster!!) ;)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Importance of Buffy

So I was reading a post on the National's Post Afterword blog this morning about the situation with a small press publisher winning the Giller last night (yay! by the way) and saw at the bottom a link to one of Robert J. Wiersema's columns that caught my interest. He's the guest columnist for the week, and when I saw the title, I was excited. In his column, he talks about rediscovering Buffy the Vampire Slayer with his son, Xander (not named after the character, he states) and what a joy it's been. I can't wait to do this with my own daughter in a few years.

A little side note about Wiersema, whose new novel will be released shortly by Random House: he actually wrote the first published review of a book of mine, when he reviewed my Xena book for -- gasp! -- Quill and Quire, the trade paper for the Canadian publishing industry. It was the first and last time one of my books was reviewed there (they don't even list my books in the upcoming title listings anymore... I don't fall under any major book category they list, so I'm left out). I've always been grateful for Wiersema doing the review -- it wasn't glowing, but he liked the book, and that's all I cared about at the time.

You can read his column on Buffy here.

"Fellas, it's been good to know ya..."

I heard on the radio this morning that today is the 35th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I lived for a short period on that big lake they call Gitche Gumee, and I have very fond memories of my dad playing Gordon Lightfoot's song for me over and over when I was a toddler. As I got older, I was haunted by the lyrics. It's still one of my favourite songs. RIP to the men who died in the crash.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Damon's Fave Flicks

Here's a 5-minute clip from where Damon Lindelof talks about the 6 films that really influenced him, and in many ways, influenced Lost. I LOVE his choices, and it makes me admire him even more than I already do. Thanks to joshua for the link!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rock, Paper, Scissors...

I haven't talked about my kids on here recently, but last night my 6-year-old daughter had me laughing so hard I had to share it with you. Last night at the dinner table, she was asking to leave before finishing dinner. My husband said she had to finish. Finally she says, "Let's do rock, paper, scissors, Daddy, and if I win, I get to leave." He agreed to it (nice parenting there, papa). They punched their fists three times in the air, she was rock, he was scissors. Kid one, dad zero. "Best two out of three," says my husband.

Three fists pumps, and my daughter stops, appearing to do a thumbs-up. "What's THAT?!" my husband asked.


"There's no dynamite in rock paper scissors!"

"But you used it last week!"

He sheepishly admitted that yes, he had. Dynamite blasted rock. Kid two, Dad zero. My husband says, "Best three out of five."

Three fist pumps later, my husband is doing the thumbs-up dynamite, and my daughter looked like she was going to do paper but at the last minute flipped her hand vertically, waving it in the air slowly back and forth.

"Fire!" she shouts triumphantly.

"Wait, what?!"

"Fire. I win."

"You don't win! Dynamite would destroy fire."

"No, because if dynamite touched fire, then they'd BOTH blow up. So, I call it a tie."

And she got up and left the table.

Now I have to teach her Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Lostaholics Anonymous: John Locke

I'm getting more and more emails from people this week saying they've finally gotten a copy of my book (I can't believe how slow the mail is sometimes, yeesh!) And my first two reviews of the book are up at Amazon, and I was thrilled!! OMG, it's actually four! (I just went there to grab the link for y'all, and found two more! I'm not doing my authorly duty of checking the page every 42 minutes.) If there's anyone out there reading this who left one of them, thank you thank you!! And here's another plea from me that if you've bought the book through amazon, please post a review (if you liked it, obviously) and if you bought it from me, you can still post a review on Amazon if you've bought anything from them recently. Now I'm all giddy.

OK, but the giddiness must STOP because tonight we're going to tackle what might be my favourite topic on Lost: John Locke. Tonight rather than going through John Locke's life, I'm going to make this a more personal account of him. If you've read any of my books (all now available at Amazon at a reasonable price!) you'll know how much I love to write about this character. I could write an entire book on just him... In each of the books, when I got to the first Locke episode of the season, I'd write a mini-essay on my thoughts on Locke thus far and why that character was so important to me. If you want my full analysis of the character, his backstory, and what made him tick throughout the full series, check out my new book, pages 38-45, 214-221, and page 239. There you'll find everything from talking about his life to the long conflict between him and Jack that informed much of the series' direction. But I want to make this a more personal "what John Locke meant to me" entry. Because he meant a lot.

I remember back in season 1 when I was a casual fan of the show (no, really, I was once a person who just watched it once and turned the channel and never thought about discussing it... to quote Ben, "hhhhhwaaaat??") that even then, I assumed John Locke was the key. It wasn't Jack or Kate, but Locke. There was something mysterious about him. And besides, he'd seen into the eye of that island, and what he saw... was beautiful.

Many people talk about being impressed from the show right from the beginning of the pilot episode, and I remember at the end of that episode knowing I'd found a great new show to watch. But it was when I saw the end of "Walkabout" that I knew I was watching a tour de force show. This show wouldn't just be a favourite, but would become an obsession, and it was the idea that John Locke had experienced some sort of miracle -- a plot twist that is kept from us throughout that episode until the final scene -- that suddenly made him more important.

John Locke lived a sad life. He was a successful hunter on the island in season 1, and seemed to appear from out of nowhere all the time, offering sage advice and being the wizened Gandalf to everyone on the island. He told Jack that he needed to figure out how to lead before he could be a leader. He emerged from the jungle suddenly to talk to Kate and Sawyer and tell them the story of his sister dying when he was a kid. He was confident and brave and intelligent. But then he found the Hatch. And then Boone died. And Jack hated him. And then he looked into the eye of the island... and saw a monster.

His backstories right from season 1 onwards were always the cause of much anticipation and celebration. Walkabout was amazing. Deus Ex Machina was heartbreaking. Remember that scene where John is sitting in the car drinking the coffee and casing Cooper's house when Cooper gets into the car and tells him to go away? Cooper is cold and ruthless and has no heart, and he leaves the car, slams the door, and John sits there. For a moment he looks like he's fine. He takes a sip of his coffee. Purses his lips. Glances at the house. And then crumples and bursts into tears. It's an extraordinary moment, and if I wasn't already convinced Terry O'Quinn was one of the best actors going, that scene clinched it.

I always wanted to hug John. I wanted him to be OK. He seemed like the sort of kid who was bullied, whose parents didn't want him. That scene in "Cabin Fever" where Alpert leaves John behind and tells him he's wrong and the little boy looks after him, looking sad that he didn't get to go with the nice man, breaks my heart every time. He was just a kid. Or that scene earlier in that same episode of the little baby in the incubator looking out at his Mommy, who just turns and abandons him because she's a selfish, unstable brat.

Locke never gives up. And that's part of the reason why he was so wonderful and pathetic and sad and inspirational to us. In "Deus Ex Machina" when he sees his mother in the parking lot at the store and he gets knocked over by a car, then jumps up and begins running after her again, it was the perfect metaphor for who this guy is. He ALWAYS gets back up. His mom abandons him, he lives with a foster family. Alpert abandons him, he just keeps going. He finds his long-lost father and is abandoned and cheated by him, but he finds Helen and keeps going. Helen leaves him, he finds a commune and hangs out with them. They abandon him, he goes home and goes into a depression but pulls himself together long enough to try to convince Cooper to leave the woman he's conning. Cooper pushes him out a window, and it would seem that in that moment, he gives up everything. (Again, O'Quinn astonishes with that tremendous scene where he's trapped in the wheelchair for the first time.) But when Abaddon tells him to go on the walkabout, he pulls himself up, trains, and goes. And then the walkabout says no. He gathers his wits and gets back on a plane. It crashes. And then he gets up and walks. And for the first time, John REALLY, truly believes that the universe is on his side.

On the island he goes through one thing after another, and again, always bounces back. He never gives up, except one brief moment where he puts a gun to his head, but then he's stopped, and keeps going.

And that's why it's so heartbreaking, devastating, and shocking that after EVERYTHING this man has gone through, he's ultimately killed by Ben Linus before fulfilling his life's mission.

But, as I argue in my book, I believe that the Man in Black looks like Locke for a reason, and I outline it there. I don't believe his life was for nothing, because it was his belief, his faith, that drove Jack to become the person he did by the end of the season, and to save the island.

I adore John Locke, and the thought of him fills me with sadness and pain. I think I actually miss his character more than just about anyone, and yet he wasn't even there for the final season. But his life was incredible. When Smokey looks at Ben and says that Locke's final thought was, "I don't understand," he adds, "Isn't that just about the saddest thing you've ever heard?"

Yes. Yes it is.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Walking Dead

Last night I watched the premiere episode of AMC’s new show, “The Walking Dead,” (which I keep calling the Waking Dead... which totally still fits, right?) which had been advertised for the past few weeks through super-creepy trailers that aired during episodes of Mad Men. After seeing a few trailers – one that had a man in a hospital gown walking down the abandoned and destroyed hospital halls and seeing locked doors at the end with DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE written on them, I wasn’t sure I could watch this show. Horror movies and I don’t mix. I saw Carrie when I was far too young (a babysitter showed my brother and I the movie when he was 6 and I was 8) and when I was 12 I watched a ridiculous movie called Sleepaway Camp at a sleepover that gave me nightmares for a year. I mostly stayed away from horror movies (save anything by Stephen King, because those weren’t about gore but were about the psychological horror that fascinates me much more) until I saw The Ring a few years ago and was traumatized by it.

So yeah. I don’t like scary stuff that much. I think my husband likes it even less. But it was AMC... I was at least going to check it out. And WOW, am I glad I did.

This past season Mad Men has been firing on all cylinders and was my favourite thing to watch in the second half of the year. With The Walking Dead, AMC has officially surpassed Showtime to rival HBO in my opinion. And, now that I think about it, is rivalling HBO.

Now, first, I’ll just say I haven’t actually read the graphic novels it’s based on, so I can’t speak to its success as an adaptation. There were moments in there that reminded me of other literature – the graphic novel of 28 Days Later (obvs), Day of the Triffids, and Stephen King’s The Stand (that scene where Rick is going down the stairwell in utter darkness reminded me of the Lincoln Tunnel scene. I was CONVINCED he was going to step on something, or someone). But it still felt remarkably original to me.

Yes, this is a zombie show, and yes, there’s a lot of gore, but it’s not really about the zombies or escaping them as much as what something like that does to a person. There’s a lot of humanity in this show that I wasn’t expecting. I won’t go into details, so if you’ve seen it, you already know what happened, and if you haven’t seen it, PLEASE stop reading now, go watch it, and then come back.

There were two scenes that stuck with me in particular. The first is where the protagonist, Rick, is holed up in a house with a father and his son. Just when you begin to wonder, “Hey, where is the boy’s moth—” a woman with hollowed-out eyes, a dragging shuffle, and a dead stare slowly lumbers up the porch steps. The boy screams, and you know there’s an immense amount of pain in him – his mother didn’t just die: she’s still walking around, but would kill him in a heartbeat if she saw him. That rotting corpse once housed his mother’s soul, and now it’s brain-dead but deadly. Rick goes to the door, and she seems to see him through the eyehole in the door. He stares at her, and she stares right back at him, and begins to jiggle the door handle. It’s frightening, but sad on such a deep level, as the little boy buries his sobs into a pillow while his father rubs his son’s back and looks like he’s experiencing his own emotional agony. This scene found its sequel later in the episode when the father perches himself in an upstairs window, shooting the zombies in an effort to bring his wife to the street (the zombies will follow noises) and when he sees her, he sets her up in the rifle’s crosshairs, and she stops and stares at him with an utter lack of familiarity. He’s taped a picture of her – alive and beautiful – to the window frame in an effort to remind himself that that creature down below is not the vivacious mother of his child, but he still can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. He stops shooting and breaks down in tears, and she, bewildered, turns and slowly lumbers back to wherever she came from. It’s a heartbreaking moment.

And yet, there was another moment that moved me even more, and took me by surprise by just how much it moved me. When Rick first leaves the hospital after waking up to a zombie apocalypse, he finds a bicycle and a body of a person that had been ripped in half suddenly rolls over with a disgusting cracking noise (presumably her lower half had been devoured by zombies, who then abandoned the corpse but she came back to “life” as a zombie and now is only half a creature). The face is mostly gone and it appears to be a black and yellowing skull with some long, wispy blonde hair, and with a long, bony arm, it reaches out to him and growls as he grabs the bike. He jumps on the bike, horrified (this is the first zombie he’s seen) and races to his house. When he gets his wits back about him and cleans up and heads out of town, he first remembers that thing in the park that growled at him, so he returns to the scene and walks out into the park. Sure enough, a few hundred feet away, the half-creature is dragging itself along the ground with its arms, and he walks up behind it, not scared because it’s not like this thing can actually jump up and attack him in any way. He stands beside it, and the creature, sensing living flesh, stops and looks up at him in all its horrific goriness. Echoing the words of Jacob to Locke, Rick squats and looks at the creature that is now peering up at him and says, “I’m sorry this happened to you.” He cocks the gun, but hesitates for a moment, and in that moment the creature pathetically extends an arm to him. There’s this half-second where the viewer can’t help but feel immense sympathy for this thing. She was human once, she was perhaps quite beautiful, had a family and friends, and has been reduced to half a body, dragging itself through a field and slowly starving to death while rotting. Perhaps there is still a consciousness in there of some kind, and the extension of the arm was as much a plea as a menacing gesture. Either way, when he pulls the trigger, you feel relief – not for him and his safety, but that he put that poor creature out of its misery. I couldn’t believe the director had taken this disgusting thing and made me feel sorry for it. It was an absolutely brilliant television moment.

A friend of mine was excitedly telling me about the episode on Monday and saying he couldn’t wait for me to see it, and he said the only way a show like this will survive is if it’s not about zombies but transcends that. And I think that if Mad Men is a show that isn’t about advertising as much as it’s about the people who are trying to survive in a dog-eat-dog world, and The Sopranos wasn’t about the mafia but about a man’s personal demons, then this show can easily transcend the zombie genre if it keeps up this level of storytelling.

I’m interested to keep watching and learn some answers. When the protagonist, Rick, first woke up, I was actually thinking it was all a figment of his imagination, that what we were seeing were the fever-dreams of a man drifting in and out of consciousness. But the moment we saw the other group – Rick’s wife and son with his partner and some others – it moved the action away from Rick’s point of view and to a new one, so I don’t think that can be the case. So I can focus on the other questions raised in the episode: Will that man ever shoot his wife? (Will we ever see him again or was that a one-off appearance of the father and son?) Was Rick’s wife having an affair with his partner before the zombie apocalypse or did it happen after when they were thrown together in the midst of all of this? (Since it’s pretty damn harsh to leave your husband behind in all of that, I would think it was already happening when the two cops were chatting in the car.) What caused the zombie apocalypse in the first place? And how was Rick’s life spared when he was in the hospital? Who’s the guy on the other end of the radio at the end of the episode? How the hell is Rick gonna get out of THIS one?

Needless to say, I can’t wait for next week’s episode.