Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 Fall TV Preview!

I’m cutting it close this year – new TV shows start this week! Read quickly!

This year’s Fall TV Preview is unlike those of most past years – for the first time in as long as I can remember, I haven’t been successful in locating the pilot episodes of this year’s crop of new TV shows online. That means I can’t really fully vouch for any of them being fantastic, or steer you away from any that are terrible. But what I can do is tell you which shows I’m going to give a chance – and why – along with the returning favorites that have already earned the much coveted Brian Seal of Approval.

The good news is, this might offer me a good excuse to Blog a bit more often over the course of the next few weeks as we test out these new shows. I don’t know that any of them will actually be Blog-worthy (but here’s hoping!), but if nothing else, determining which shows earn a spot on my busy DVR schedule and which fall by the wayside might make for some entertaining posts.

So stay tuned, I might actually be blogging semi-frequently for the next few weeks!

For now, here are the shows that I’ll be watching at the start of the season…


8:00 pm – How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – September 19

After a pretty lackluster fifth season, the only sitcom I’ve ever liked on CBS came back with a strong sixth season last year featuring a number of great storylines – the Ted / Zoey / Arcadian storyline, Barney meeting his Trinity Killer Father, Lilly finally getting pregnant, a flash-forward to Barney’s wedding day (!), and one of those “damn you for making me feel emotions, alleged comedy” storylines where Marshall’s dad died… which was powerful and touching, but still found a way to be hilarious thanks to its frequent references to Crocodile Dundee 3.

Even though the show continues to move forward at a snail’s pace in its titular (wait – is that a dirty word?) promise to show us how Ted meets the mother of his children, as long as the storylines with the characters remain strong, I really don’t care. With Lilly’s pregnancy and Barney’s wedding, the show potentially dropped two bombs big enough to destroy the show that we all know and love… (everyone knows that writing babies onto a show is generally accepted as meaning the writers are out of ideas) but also gives us two guaranteed overarching storylines for the next year to move the story forward.

In an ironic way, HIMYM is kinda like Lost - it’s one of those situations where you want to know the outcome of the story, but once you do, it’s over… so maybe we should stop worrying about the ending and just enjoy the ride. Plus, how disappointing is it going to be when it turns out that Ted is dead all along and the show is a place he created for he and his friends to meet up in the afterlife?

8:00 pm - Terra Nova (Fox) – September 16

True story – I love me some dinosaurs. As a little kid, they adorned my clothes and birthday cakes. As a medium sized kid, Jurassic Park was the first movie I ever saw in a theater multiple times. So it’s no wonder that this show intrigues me. The premise is that it’s the year 2149 and all life on earth is about to go extinct. Thankfully, scientists develop a time machine to send the people of 2149 back a few million years back in time when the earth was full of lush vegetation, clean water, and life-threatening dinosaurs (why not just send them back to the 1980s?). The show follows a family as they join “Terra Nova” – the first human colony in the prehistoric world.

Oh, and the show is produced by Steven Spielberg, who knows a thing or two about making dinosaur-centric entertainment.

There’s a lot of potential ways for this show to fail miserably. Terrible special effects (although the show’s budget is absolutely huge – something like $4 million per episode - so I’m hopeful), cheesy dialogue, the feeling like it’s some type of Avatar-rip-off, etc. But the dinosaur-loving-kid in me wants it to be great, so I’m going to give it a chance.

Stay tuned…


8:00 – 90210 (CW) – September 13

Yes 90210 is still appointment viewing in our household. This is how you know although I use a lot of big words and talk all intellectually about TV shows, I’m not actually a TV snob. I like entertainment, and 90210 gives it to me in huge, ridiculous portions. What do you need to know? Teenage drama, pretty people, generally likeable characters, and one of the rare shows that actually graduated its high school cast at the end of last season. Last year featured the typical teen drama storylines of a character realizing he’s gay, a character overcoming her fears of surfing by smoking pot, assisted suicide, and the risks of stealing song ideas from your dead boyfriend to become a temporary superstar. You know, the usual.

What next?

I don’t really care. Kate thinks the show bordered on the absurd last year, but I absolutely ate it up and loved it. All I know is that my high school years would have been a lot easier if 90 was around back then for me, warning me of the potential dangers of a monkey attack in Mexico (again, dead serious about the storylines).

9:00 – Ringer (CW) – September 13

True story #2 – I loved me some Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day. You might say this was the show that got me obsessed with TV. It certainly was the first show where I paid attention to things like episode titles, writers, season long story arcs, and used the Internet as a place to discuss and debate episodes. So I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic that Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar is coming back to TV. Watching the previews for Ringer on TV, it looked fairly terrible – but after reading the plot synopsis and critic reviews on Wikipedia, I’m intrigued enough to give it a shot… plus I’ll already be on the CW watching 90, so it just makes life easier this way. Also, it’s got Richard Alpert in it.

Here’s the plot:

Twin sisters Bridget and Siobhan (both played by Gellar) have been at odds for the last eight years and find that their lives are both unraveling at the same rate. Bridget, a recovering alcoholic, is on the run from the mob after witnessing a murder. She flees to her twin sister Siobhan's home. The sisters seem to be repairing their broken relationship until Siobhan mysteriously disappears overboard during a boat trip the sisters take together. Bridget soon discovers her sister's seemingly perfect life is full of secrets after she is attacked in Siobhan's home.

The critic reviews promise a lot of “twists and turns” and actually praised the intelligence of the story-telling, which is pretty surprising given that it sounds like a bad soap opera. But more than a few critics called it the best new show of the year – so I’ll give it a chance.


8:00 – The Middle (ABC) – September 21

For as much as people talk about Modern Family, I’m shocked that The Middle doesn’t get more love. It’s nothing life-changing, or quite at the same level as Modern Family, but it serves up its fair share of laughs with a few heartfelt moments sprinkled in. Plus it seems more like that “more traditional family” show that the average American could relate to. Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t some “Everybody Loves Raymond” show – although it does star Patricia Heaton – it’s much more edgy and sarcastic… but not on a depressing “Roseanne” level. It just works. On more than one occasion last year, it was funnier than Modern Family. If you’re not watching it, you should probably give it a chance. You’ll probably like it.

8:00 – Up All Night (NBC) – September 14

I feel like a broken record here, but I’ll say it again – if GOB is going to be on a show, I’m going to give it a chance. Seriously, when is a network just going to start re-airing “Arrested Development” reruns in primetime rather than developing new shows that we all just hope are half as good? This is probably as good of an excuse as any to put another Arrested Development video on the Blog:

Up All Night has the added benefit of potentially being a sneak preview glimpse into my future six months from now, so it’ll either be absolutely terrifying and drive me to drinking whiskey every Wednesday night, or it’ll teach me important life lessons that I will jot down and will help make me into the greatest parent of all-time. I don’t think there’s any potential middle ground here.

9:00 – Modern Family (ABC) – September 21

Not much to say here – Modern Family is the gold standard for TV sitcoms right now. But I think we can all admit that the first season was far superior to the second season. This is somewhat normal for TV shows, since writers tend to use up all their good storylines in their first season in an effort to build a fan base, but what normally happens – and what happened with Modern Family last year – was that to “kick things up a notch”, they end up turning the characters into outrageous caricatures of themselves as they escalate the ridiculousness of the storylines more and more. Here’s hoping that the show overcomes their sophomore slump, tones it down a bit, and returns to the laugh-out-loud storylines from its first season.

9:30 – Happy Endings (ABC) – September 21

This show actually burned through 13 episodes over the course of April and May of last year, but I know very few people who actually watched it. Those who did absolutely loved it. Now it’s got the prime slot of airing right after Modern Family where it is guaranteed to have a big audience for at least the first few weeks – and I can’t think of a more deserving show to have the slot (unless we can go back in time and give it to Arrested Development). Having seen most, if not all, of the first 13 episodes I would compare the show to a hybrid between Friends and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s about a group of friends who drink and have ridiculous things happen to them, but it never quite gets as over the top ridiculous as some of the Sunny storylines. The basic premise of the show centers around what happens after two of the friends break off their wedding at the last moment, but still remain friends with everyone – so at least it’s something a little different than the run of the mill “pretty people hanging out and drinking in the city” sitcoms of the past ten years.

Also, the cast features both Kim Bauer (hot in a hot way) and Jo from the final season of Scrubs (hot in a “she could probably beat me up” way).

Give it a shot. You’ll like it.


8:00 – Community (NBC) – September 22

A year ago, in my mind this was the funniest show on TV. This year, it’s still a strong candidate for that title. The show continues to operate on a meta-creative level so beyond anything else that I’ve ever seen on TV that it’s ridiculous – even escalating to the point where they branch out beyond the show itself (see the “Cougar Town” / “Community” crossover videos below as a perfect example. The shows are on different networks for crying out loud!):

On the other hand, Community still manages to deliver surprisingly normal – and dare I say even “moving”? – storylines as well (see Troy’s 21st Birthday Party as an example). Aside from perhaps Pierce, who verged on the ridiculous last year, every character is both hilarious and believable. Sometimes the show is too weird for some people, but that’s usually when it takes its homage storylines a little too far (such as the Dungeons and Dragons episode last year). Still, I find myself laughing out loud at Community more than any other show on TV – and if that’s the best criteria to determine the “funniest show on TV”, then Community retains the crown.

8:30 – Parks and Recreation (NBC) – September 22

Over the course of the past year, Parks and Recreation has gone from a fringe show that only a few people watched, to a quotable show that the majority of people I know watch and love – that’s a good sign. Ron Swanson has become the most iconic character on TV, with his meat-loving, government-hating, down-to-earth-common-sense-ness serving as a beacon of hope for the world in a land full of political correctness and dirty hippies.

The supporting cast of Parks – even the minor characters like Jean-Ralphio provide more laughs top to bottom than most shows on TV. The show is currently operating at a pretty high level – I honestly can’t remember thinking a single episode of last season was “bad” – so here’s hoping it can keep it going through the fourth season and finally (along with Community) become the massively popular shows that NBC needs to replace the fading Office and 30 Rock (which you notice are no longer on my list).

9:00 – Person of Interest (CBS) – September 22

On the surface, Person of Interest sounds like a typical CBS show that I would hate – a CSI-esque show that offers “mission of the week” crime drama without anything deep or overarching over the course of a season. But then when you read the details, it sounds much more interesting:

Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) is a mysterious billionaire who has developed a computer program that predicts the identity of a person connected to a violent crime that will take place sometime in the future. However, the program has its limitations: for example, it cannot predict whether the person will be a victim, perpetrator, or witness, nor can it predict when or where the crime will take place. Unable to stop the crimes on his own, Finch hires John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former CIA agent who is presumed to be dead, to help stop the crimes from taking place.

Also interesting? In addition to starring Benjamin Linus and Jesus Christ, the show is Executive Produced by JJ Abrams (Lost), Bryan Burk (Lost), and Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight). I’m still afraid the show is going to be typical CBS-terrible, but I’ll give it a few shots to prove me wrong. It’s got a strong enough pedigree to deserve it.

10:00 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) – September 15

Sunny has always been absolutely ridiculous, but this season they are taking things to new heights – with one the main characters on the show intentionally gaining 50 pounds in real life for the sake of being able to make fat jokes this season. When serious actors do stuff like this for movies, they are praised for their “dedication to the art”. What is it called when comedic actors do it for the sake of making jokes? Unhealthy? Or hilarious?

10:30 – The League (FX) – October 6

Not a whole lot to say here. If you watch Sunny, you’ll probably stick around for the League afterwards. If you play Fantasy Football, you can relate. If you don’t fall into either of those two categories, this show isn’t for you. Far from my favorite show on TV, it’s entertaining enough… although the 10:30 timeslot is dangerously close to being past my bed time.


8:00 – Chuck (NBC) – September 23

Confession – I’m a horrible fan. I think I saw maybe the first three or four episodes of last season of Chuck, but the rest are all still sitting on my computer, waiting to be watched. I love Chuck! But it’s previous Monday night at 8:00 pm timeslot was impossible to deal with, since there were like 10 DVR conflicts at the same time. Since no one else I know really watches the show, it was the show that fell by the wayside that I would “catch up on” over the summer. It’s now September and I haven’t gotten to it yet.

Because of this, I can’t help but feel 100% responsible for this being Chuck’s final season. 13 episodes, airing on Friday nights, when all cool people are out on dates. Still – how impressive is it that Chuck has basically survived cancellation for the past three years, each year with ratings lower than the previous, and is going to get the chance to have a proper ending that the series deserves?

Someday I will catch up on you, Chuck. Someday…

For now, here is your token Yvonne Strahovski photo:



8:00 – Once Upon a Time (ABC) – September 25

This show has the strongest potential to be the “Lost” of the 2011 TV pilot crop. It’s from Lost writers, including Damon Lindelof, who is a “consulting producer” – how do I get that job? I’ll read your scripts and tell you what works and what doesn’t work. Heck, I’ll do it for free just to make the shows I like better! The previews even have Lost references in them (like a clock freezing at 8:15). But what is the show actually about? Per Wikipedia…

The series is loosely inspired by the classic fairy tale stories except set in the present day, hence the series name. The stories hold a key to the mystery that will draw a bail bonds collector and the son that she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier to a New England town called Storybrooke, Maine. This town is actually a parallel world in which fairy tale characters look like normal people and don't remember their true identities or anything about their true lives.

I really have no idea what any of that means, but hey – if nothing else, that sounds unique and unlike anything else on TV right now (except maybe that “Grimm” show on NBC, which seems pretty similar, actually).

I’ll give it a shot!

9:00 – Dexter (SHOW) – October 2

After a fourth season which rivaled the best of the series (John Lithgow still terrifies me to this day), last season was uneven. It seemed like the writers didn’t know where they wanted to go with the season, and would introduce and drop plot lines without any explanation on a fairly regular basis. By the time they got to something that seemed like it could carry a full season (the Jordan Chase plot), there were only a few episodes left, and that story ended up feeling rushed. I attribute a lot of this to the show’s creator, Clyde Phillips, leaving after the end of season four – and a new writing staff finding their feet. Still – I have high expectations for the upcoming season, which looks like it will revolve around the concepts of faith, religion, and how they apply to our favorite serial killer.

Really, all you need to know about Dexter is that it makes me subscribe to Showtime for three months of the year. We sign up right before the season premiere, and cancel right after the season finale. I don’t think I even watched a single other show or movie on it over the course of the three months last year. Which means, I basically paid $60 to watch last season of Dexter.

It’s that good.

So there you have it! The 11.5 hours of TV I’m going to attempt to watch this year. That admittedly seems a little high (I do have a job after all), but I’m sure we’ll start cutting the losers out of this mix in short time. For now, you have my initial recommendations, so you are well equipped to watch the best of the best on TV and be the envy of your friends and coworkers.

Happy TV-ing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living the Dream

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a Blog – so hopefully I remember how this works.

When I last wrote, I lamented that I was desperately searching for something worthwhile to write about - something important enough for me to sit down and spend a few hours each week thinking about and dissecting. Foolishly, I was looking for this in the world of television – assuming that only a TV show could provide me with enough source material to spend hours thinking about something, over-analyzing something, and eventually putting those thoughts down as words for the world to see.

I was wrong.

At some point in history, people decided that there were three critical components to fulfillment in life – three things that equate to “living the American dream”. In order, they are getting married, buying a house, and having kids. Since this Blog started, I knocked out the first two. Now it’s time to work on the third. That’s right Internet friends… Kate and I are expecting a baby!

Note: back in 2007, when I proposed to Kate on the Blog (wait, you all know that wasn’t for real, right?), FOB heliopath requested “please add a clause in the marriage contract that there shall be no baby making till after May 2010 so parenting shall not be an excuse for sloppy blog posting.” You are welcome heliopath, you are welcome.

I don’t want to be one of those annoying people who do nothing but talk about their baby – because let’s face it, life (TV) goes on – so I’m not going to cannibalize this Blog with my thoughts about becoming a parent, babies, and life. Instead, this Blog will remain dedicated to TV (although it’s admittedly been pretty lame lately thanks to the lack of Blogworthy TV on the air), with sporadic posts as I feel necessary. I’ve created a new Blog – that will be used to track the baby endeavor. If you’re interested in reading along – awesome. If not, no big deal either. I’m the guy who fakes interests when friends and family show me pictures of their babies. My feelings will not be hurt. But if you know nothing else about me, you should know that the Blog will not be the typical touchy-feely baby blog full of pictures of exposed stomachs and ultrasound pictures. It’s going to be a blog from a man’s perspective. A logical man’s perspective. We’ll see how it goes.

For everyone else, stay tuned. I'm sure the Fall TV Preview is only a few weeks away!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hilarious... and Sad

Saw this today:

and a few things struck me:

  1. The conversation between Locke and Jack from Season One is absolutely awesome - and showed how much promise the big picture story line on Lost had. It gave me chills listening to it again, so many years later.
  2. Listening to Jacob and Anti-Jacob talk through the "answers" was hilarious - but just drove home how badly the writers failed to see the story line through to completion. It was so so so good for five seasons - and then so so so bad in its final sixth. It's just a damn shame, because it left such a bad taste in my mouth.

But in other news, here's something to get you excited for Fall TV!

Last season wasn't the best, but I'd be lying if this promo trailer for Season Six of Dexter doesn't make me giddy.

(Oh yeah, also - hello world, I've missed you over the past year of non-Blogging!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall TV Preview!

Hello again. It’s been too long.

Not sure if anyone is still out there or not. Since I’ve only posted once on the Blog in the past three months, I’m guessing most people have moved on with their post-Lost lives, or are just morbidly waiting for the Blog to die a slow and painful death. That’s my fault. I need to get back on the horse and bring this thing back to life. But it’s been a weird few months. I’m still waiting for that spark, for something to come along and inspire me to start writing again, something that speaks to me enough to be worthy of writing volumes and volumes about – but it just hasn’t happened.

Actually, the closest thing to inspire me was a recent trip to California where I had to go to four liquor stores before I could find a place that sold Miller Lite. Are you kidding me? The second most popular beer in the country and I went to three places who had hundreds of types of alcohol but no Miller Lite? I was furious and ready to tell the world about it… but then we eventually found Miller Lite, I drank it, and forgot about the whole ordeal. Spark ignited… and then extinguished by delicious hoppy goodness.

Which brings us to this Blog post. It’s the fall – and with the fall comes the promise of a new season of TV, a bunch of new chances for something to come along that creates that spark to drive me into an obsessive place where the words fly from my fingers and before you know it I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about something important like the availability of Miller Lite in California.

This year, I’m grouping the shows into three categories:

  1. Must See TV – if you are only going to watch a few hours of TV each week, these are the shows you should be watching. No excuses.
  2. Promising Newcomer – if you are looking to give a new show a chance to join your uber-valuable DVR space, these are the shows that you should look into. At the very least, these are the shows that I am looking forward to this year.
  3. Fading Veterans – shows that are past their prime, but still worth tuning into because they display occasional flashes of the brilliance that attracted us in the first place – and because they’re familiar old friends who I can’t bear to let go of… yet.

With that, here’s my day-by-day breakdown of how you should be spending your valuable evenings this fall!


8:00 – Amazing Race (CBS) – Fading Veteran

You know, it’s not as though “Amazing Race” has gotten worse over the years, so perhaps the “Fading Veteran” label doesn’t truly apply. It’s more that if NFL games run long and my DVR misses the Amazing Race, no big deal. I don’t actively seek out the episodes I miss. But if I’m at home and the NFL Sunday Night Football game is lame, I’ll absolutely tune in. It’s a great show, showing you the world and proving that reality TV doesn’t have to be trashy. Even though it finally relinquished its death grip of the “Best Reality TV Show” Emmy this year (rightfully being awarded to “Top Chef”), at the very least it’s one of the two best reality shows on television.

Also - Phil Keoghan has the greatest job in the world. Go to exotic places and hang out there all day, then tell people what order they arrive to meet you. What’s not to like?

9:00 – Dexter (Showtime) – Must See TV

At this year’s Emmys, many probably thought I was rooting for “Lost” to win “Best Drama”. I was not. Dexter was head and shoulders above Lost in every conceivable way last year, and just might be the best show on TV. In my head, I always rationalize this claim by thinking about what one show I would watch if that was all I could watch each week. Although I love a lot of other shows, I think Dexter would win out in the end.

This year, the show builds on what was perhaps the second most shocking season finale of all-time (behind Lost’s “Through the Looking Glass”) and I can’t even begin to imagine where the show goes from here. But watching this preview of the season makes me giddy with excitement. It’s without a doubt the most exciting and powerful show on television.


8:00 – How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – Fading Veteran

Oh, “How I Met Your Mother”, the timing for us was never right. I failed to watch the show “live” for its first few seasons, but instead caught up via DVD over the past year or two. The first few seasons of this show were hilarious and heartwarming, like a worthy successor to “Scrubs” – but last year, the first one I watched “live”, was pretty weak. It’s getting the point where the characters are becoming caricatures of themselves rather than seeming like real people – and the situations are going from relatable to absurd (kinda like the late seasons of “Friends”, before it returned to form in its final season).

Here’s hoping that the show can find its way and return to “classic” How I Met Your Mother, but if not, I’m still going to stay tuned, if for no other reason than the fact that I’ve invested over 50 hours of my life in the show and still don’t know who the title character is going to end up being.

Dear writers – stop being afraid of delaying the inevitable. Introduce the mother!

8:00 – 90210 (CW) – Must See TV

“90210” has undergone quite the transformation over the past two seasons. What started out as a pretty tame teenage drama has kicked things up a notch with increasingly intense / outrageous storylines for each character on the show. It’s walking the fine line between being ridiculous and being awesome, and right now I come down on the side of it being awesome. In last season’s finale, serious stuff happened to nearly every major character on the show (rape, divorce, and admission of murder, to name a few). In this season’s premiere, even MORE serious stuff happened to these same characters, setting the stage for what could be a ridiculously awesome season.

Is it going to make you a better, smarter person? No.

Is it going to challenge your way of thinking? No.

Is it going to be trashy entertainment with pretty people? Yes.

It’s important to have a balanced diet of television shows each season. 90210 is the dessert portion of the schedule.

8:00 – Chuck (NBC) – Must See TV

At this point, you see how crazy Monday nights are going to be. This marks the THIRD show in the 8:00 timeslot that is DVR-worthy, meaning that you have two options:

1. DVR two shows on one TV while watching the third on a different TV, live (what Brian will be doing).

2. Watching one of these three shows online after the fact.

If you are a Nielsen household, I’m going to beg you to watch the fan-favorite but ratings-challenged “Chuck”. It needs you more than the other two shows.

After barely surviving the past two rounds of network upfronts thanks to obsessive fans and corporate tie-ins, Chuck put together a pretty nice third season that ended with shades of “Alias” as we discover that Chuck isn’t the first Bartowski to become a secret agent. Here’s hoping the fourth season can do what Alias couldn’t – and strike the balance between drama and mythology and fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Chuck is a happy show. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still has some meat to its storylines. The characters are likeable, the writing is solid, and it features the smoldering hot Yvonne Strahovski. What more do you want to start watching this show?


9:00 – The Event (NBC) – Promising Newcomer

I have no idea what this show is about, but I want to like it. The ads tell us “An abduction won’t prevent it”, a prison can’t contain it, the president can’t stop it, and a desperate act will start it” – so what is “The Event”?

The story of the creation of “The Event” gives us a hint: In 2006, a young untested writer decided to write his dream TV show – like the shows he liked, 24, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica – a nonstop action thriller with character development and mythology.

Sounds good to me.

Of all the shows that I screened this summer, this was the one I was never able to find, so I can’t really speak to if the show will be any good or not – but let’s leave it like this: I really hope it is good, and more than any other show this fall, this one has the chance to to Blog-worthy. It’s reason to be excited and give it a chance.

10:00 – Hawaii Five-0 (CBS) – Promising Newcomer

I watched the screener to this show for two simple reasons – Daniel Dae Kim and Hawaii – thinking it would give me a little of the “Lost fix” that I would be missing this fall. Imagine my surprise when this turned out to be the best new show I saw this fall.

There are a thousand reasons why this show shouldn’t work – mostly because it’s a remake of a cheesy 1970’s show - but in the end, it feels like a Hawaiian version of the movie “Bad Boys”. Scott Caan (Tweeter from “Varsity Blues”) and Alex O’Loughlin make for pretty entertaining partners, with lots of back and forth banter interspersed with some decent action scenes set against the beautiful background of Hawaii.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I was smiling the whole hour I was watching it and very entertained. Without a doubt, this is going to be the “ratings hit” of the new shows this fall.


9:30 – Running Wilde (Fox) – Promising Newcomer

I’m not going to lie, the original pilot that I saw wasn’t very good. But the re-shoot of the pilot, which I haven’t seen, is allegedly better. The reason why this show makes the list? It features Will Arnett playing a GOB-like character, and it’s created by Arrested Devleopment creator Mitchell Hurwitz. The re-shoot also added David Cross (Tobias!), meaning that it’s about three guest star appearances away from becoming Arrested Development Part 2, right?

I want this show to be good and Arrested Development-y. It’s not there yet, but I’m willing to give it a chance to see if it can get there.



8:00 – The Middle (ABC) – Must See TV

What started out as a show that I would accidentally watch while waiting for “Modern Family” to come on became a show that became Must See TV by the end of the season. In my mind, this is what The Janitor from Scrubs went home to each night when he wrapped up his shift as Sacred Heart - wacky family with three equally entertaining kids and a crazy wife trying to hold it all together.

Much like Modern Family, the reason that this show works is that each character is funny in their own right. I love Brick. I love Axl. I love Sue. I love Dr. Jan E. Tor. In fact, the weakest character on the show is probably the “main character” of Patricia Heaton… but even she is tolerable and has her moments. It’s a blue collar middle class show without being depressing (like Roseanne was), and usually features a few laugh out loud moments and quotable lines each episode – which is exactly what a half hour sitcom should do.

9:00 – Modern Family (ABC) – Must See TV

Never has a more deserving show won an Emmy. “Modern Family” burst onto the scene and was somehow instantly, classically hilarious right from the start. It was a show that literally EVERYONE, but managed to keep up its high level of quality and hilarity all season long. It makes you laugh – a lot. It warms your heart – a lot. It makes you hopeful for the future of American and its non-traditional families.


What more can I say? You all watch this already, and should continue to watch it. It’s the funniest show on TV since Arrested Development.


8:00 – Community (NBC) – Must See TV

If I had to pick the funniest NBC show on Thursday night, it would be “Community”. While “30 Rock” might be slightly past its prime, and “The Office” certainly is, Community feels fresh, is hilarious, and has a great balance of cynicism and sweet to make it all work. There were a number of episodes that were pure genius last season (the paintball and Halloween episodes to name two), that took the show beyond the traditional half hour comedy into something closer to full-on parody of pop-culture while still remaining true to the overall feel of the show.

Top to bottom, the cast is great, and each character servers their own hilarious purpose in different ways. I can’t wait to see what the creators come up with for the second season, but can only assume it will continue to innovate and entertain like nothing else on NBC’s Thursday night lineup.

8:30 – 30 Rock (NBC) – Must See TV

“30 Rock” is probably on the border between Must See TV and Fading Veteran. More often than not last year, I feel like episodes ended with me being pretty “meh” about them. But when it is firing on all cylinders (read: dealing with the main cast of characters and not the guest star of the week), it’s as funny as ever. It’s almost as if 30 Rock is becoming too “cool” for its own good and needs to return to its more simple roots.

Love Tina Fey. Love Alec Baldwin. Love Tracy Morgan. Therefore, I’ll keep watching and hope for a return to greatness.

9:00 – The Office (NBC) – Fading Veteran

It’s the show that people still talk about at work, even though it’s not really funny anymore. It boggles my mind that the Office has such higher ratings than every other show on NBC’s Thursday nights. It’s almost as if America decided it could only handle one “different” comedy (read: not something formulaic on CBS), and latched onto the Office – and is unwilling to let go, even as shows like 30 Rock and Community have matched and surpassed the Office in terms of entertainment value.

Still – this season is worth tuning in for one simple reason. It’s the last one with Michael Scott. The door is wide open for the writers to do some unique storylines that fundamentally change the dynamic of the show (perhaps for the better?) One of the hard truths that no one talks about is how Michael Scott is probably the least funny character on the show, especially in the later seasons where his shtick has lost its luster. Perhaps getting rid of him is just the jolt that this show needs to let some of the minor (but more hilarious) characters – I’m looking at you, Creed – move into the forefront and get this show back to being worthy of the water cooler talk on Friday morning.

10:00 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) – Fading Veteran

My friend Blair put it best – Sunny is funniest when it’s just the core group of characters hanging out in Paddy’s Pub, talking about random things and doing stupid stuff. Last year, the show branched out more (in terms of characters and storylines), and had its moments – but the farther they strayed from the core formula, the less successful the show seemed to be.

The first episode of the new season didn’t give me much hope that this season will be much different – and once it ended, I was pretty indifferent to the previous 30 minutes of television I had just watched.

Still, it’s the embodiment of the Fading Veteran. It’s got moments of true hilarity and I love the characters. There’s no way I’ll stop watching it, even if it doesn’t entertain as consistently quite like it used to.

10:30 – The League (FX) – Must See TV

The good news is, the introduction of “The League” seemed to coincide with the fading of Sunny. Having been a part of a pretty serious Fantasy Football league for nearly a decade, I can say with some authority that the show is generally spot-on with its take on Fantasy Football and those who participate in it. Solid characters, good writing, and friends being jerks to each other for the sake of winning an imaginary game - it’s almost like me and my friends looking into the mirror.


So there you have it, ten and a half hours of worthwhile TV for you to watch each week. Like I said, we’ll stay tuned and hope for some breakout show to become Blog-worthy, but if not, hopefully something else in life will inspire me to get writing with more frequency.

Until then, happy TVing!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If I Wrote Lost...

Here’s how this evening started:

Kate: “What are you going to do tonight?”

Brian: “I think I might finally Blog again.”

Kate: “About what?”

Brian: “Lost.”

Kate: “Isn’t it too late for that? Does anyone even care?”

The answer is probably “no”, and in all honesty, I’ve actually thought very little about Lost since my last post over a month ago… which when you think about it, is absolutely insane. Here’s a show that created thousands of online communities dedicated to discussing and dissecting every minute detail over the past six years – and even though we all hoped that it would eventually end in a way that tied up all the loose ends and prevented the need for us to over-analyze the finale, I don’t think that anyone thought it actually would. Heck, even the actors and writers told us that it would end in a “very Lost way” – which to me, means somewhat ambiguous, open to interpretation, and with a dash of unanswered questions – questions that the fans would debate for the rest of time.

Yet somehow Lost did the impossible – it created an ending that, aside from some initial debate on when characters died, seemed to squash the questioning nature of its rabid fan base. Maybe we realized that once you see the very ending of the story (the death of all the characters), the unanswered questions along the way don’t seem to matter as much. Or maybe we were all so exhausted from six years of heavy thinking that it was a sigh of relief to finally have Lost complete, allowing us to return to mindless television and reality shows.

But I also think part of the reason, one that almost seems like blasphemy, is that Lost actually started to lose itself in the final season. There was something missing for a lot of the last season – like the writers knew where they had to take us, but didn’t enjoy the ride in getting us there… and that they weren’t sure how long it would take to get there. Think about how many episodes from Lost’s final season would make your “Top 10 List of the Best Lost Episodes Ever”.

My answer? Zero.

For those wondering, in no particular order my Top 10 list would include:

  • Pilot
  • Walkabout
  • Man of Science, Man of Faith
  • Orientation
  • Lockdown
  • Live Together, Die Alone
  • Greatest Hits
  • Through the Looking Glass
  • The Constant
  • The Shape of Things to Come

(Note: you’ll also notice that there are no episodes from Season Five in there either. Weird.)

Why do I bring this up? Because for as great as Lost was – and don’t get me wrong, it’s without a doubt one of the greatest television series of all time – I feel like a few minor changes along the way – in particular in its final two seasons – would have taken it to another level, the kind of level that would put Lost head and shoulders above all others… at least for me. And in the end, isn’t that what matters the most?

Disclaimer: it is super easy to criticize someone else’s work, especially in hindsight. It’s even easier to come up with storylines without the limitations of real life actors, budgets, and network brass. I’m just saying – in a perfect world, had Damon and Carlton called me up, here’s what I would have told them.

The Easy Fix.

In my mind, the biggest problem with Lost’s final season was the Flash Sideways – not the concept behind them, but the way in which they were carried out. In the end, all the weird differences between reality and the Flash Sideways were all part of a “long con” of the audience into thinking that things were different because our Survivors had changed the past during the Incident. The writers basically wasted half of Lost’s final season building what amounted to a dream world that didn’t really matter.

What would I have changed? It’s quite simple – I would have had the Flash Sideways actually represent the lives of our Survivors had Oceanic 815 landed in LAX. Jack wouldn’t have a son, Locke wouldn’t be engaged to Helen, Sawyer wouldn’t be a cop. They would be the exact same people they were when they boarded Oceanic 815 in the first episode. It’s still the “after life” – but instead of representing some weird dream sequence where the characters came up with their own back stories, it would truly be a purgatory of sorts, where our characters proved to God if they would have turned their troubled lives around on their own had Oceanic 815 not crashed on the Island.

It’s kinda like “The Bachelor”. How hard is it to fall in love with someone when you’re going on crazy vacations and living a glamorous lifestyle without the day-to-day grind of work, chores, and paying the bills? It’s not. Likewise, how easy is it to turn your life around when a mystical being (Jacob) brings you to an Island that removes you from the majority of negative temptations and influences in your life – putting you on a literal and spiritual Island to “find yourself” and turn your life around. It’s still hard (as there were still temptations), but it was a lot easier than it would have been back in the real world.

The storyline on the Island plays out exactly as we saw. Jack and Desmond save the world, defeat Locke, and some characters fly away to live happy ever after. In reality, we know who found redemption and how – but in the Flash Sideways, we would see who would have found redemption and how… or who wouldn’t – were it not for Jacob. Knowing as much as we do about the characters, wouldn’t it have been fascinating to see Jack struggling with drug addition, Sawyer learning to live an honest life, and Desmond trying to win over Charles Widmore?

I feel like that’s what purgatory would actually be like – proving that you learned lessons in life that you would carry over to the afterlife. Learning how to be good and do good, and passing a final test to show that if you had to do life all over again, you’d do it better.

The ending remains the same – Jack gets over his daddy issues and reconciles with his father in church, where he (and the audience) comes to the realization that they are in the afterlife. Those who “remain behind” like Ben are the characters that didn’t learn their lessons quite yet – and are doomed to stick around, or repeat the process until they get it right.


The Flash Sideways would be much more “real”, build on the characters that we got to know in the past five seasons, and actually mean something in the grand scheme of things – rather than being a waiting room for people to realize that they are dead but once had some crazy times together on an Island.

That’s my easy fix.

Want to get more complicated? That requires going back a bit further and making a few fundamental changes to what ended up being the overall end game of Lost.

The Complicated Fix.

In a nutshell, I would have kept Lost’s focus on a concept that was introduced early on, always lingered in the background, and seemed like the “point” of Lost all along:

Science vs. Faith

It’s a pretty heady concept, one without a clear answer, and something that anyone can relate to – just the kind of thing that you would expect Lost to build its overall foundation upon… and it did, until the end. In my mind, we had two characters to full represent this battle, a “good guy” and a “big bad” – although it’s debatable about which was which (just the way Lost likes it):

Benjamin Linus and Charles Widmore


It’s a storyline that was slowly introduced over the course of the first five seasons, but then relegated to the background and hastily resolved in season six as Jacob and Anti-Jacob took over the roles of “good guy” and “big bad” (again, both ambiguous). But the problem was that the writers basically introduced a new storyline about escaping the Island and ending the world (maybe) which didn’t truly build on the foundation of the first five seasons.

So here’s what you do – keep Jacob the same way he was for the first five seasons of the show – as a mysterious being that may or may not have a physical manifestation that the Others believe in and follow… a “god”. Benjamin Linus represents faith. You can still keep the storylines of Ben faking his relationship with Jacob, as it shows how deep his faith in the Island truly is – he’s believing without ever seeing.

As for Widmore, although the fifth season established the start of the rivalry between him and Ben, you would take it a step further to have the rift start over a fundamental difference of opinion. Widmore wants to research the unique properties of the Island, use them to make the world a better place, and if he makes a few bucks in the process, great. Widmore becomes the one that reached out to Hanso and Dharma to start their research on the Island – which brings me to another point.

The fifth season of Lost basically ruined the Dharma Initiative. They went from what we thought was a group of the best and brightest scientists in the world attempting to save the world from its own destruction to a group of no good hippies who just wanted to party in paradise. While I’m fixing things on Lost, I’d make Dharma full of people like Pierre Chang – believers that the Island had the properties to save the world, as long as they could figure out how to use them.

Widmore bringing Dharma to the Island also would allow Lost to fulfill another of my long-standing theories for the show – the “cowboys and Indians” theory. The Others join Dharma, they move into their fancy Barracks, they enjoy electricity and beer, and they start to lose their faith – lose their connection with the Island. This is the cause of the sudden pregnancy issues on the Island, and one that Ben hopes he can remedy by creating a faction of true believers, who eventually wipe out Dharma on the Island. These are all the storylines that we should have been getting in season five – ones that would prove to be immensely important to understanding the overall story of Lost. Because when you think about it, the net result of season five was basically setting up the audience to trick them into thinking the Flash Sideways of season six might be the result of our Survivors changing the past. But since we changed those Flash Sideways with my first “fix”, this is no longer required. Instead, we can build the relationship between Ben and Widmore, learn more about the unique Island properties we’d been wanting all along, and have our Survivors get a front row seat in this “faith vs. science” debate that was playing out between Ben and Widmore.

Which would nicely setup season six – with our Survivors having to pick a side in the debate. Charles Widmore returns to the Island, and the “battle for the Island” that we talked about for years actually comes to fruition. Who is right and who is wrong? Who do our Survivors side with? Battle lines are drawn, you split up the characters in the love triangle on different sides of the debate, and you have some great tension and storylines that focus 100% on the core characters of the series for the final season of Lost.

Why would our Survivors care about the “battle for the Island” in the first place? Well, tying in with the other major theme of Lost (destiny vs. fate), they are told by Ben that they were all brought to the Island by Jacob for the critical roles that each would play in the battle – but keep in mind that no one knows if Jacob even exists, if Ben is lying, or if any of this is true. But they also find out that in the wrong hands, the Island could be destroyed – and if destroyed, it very well might bring about the end of the world. The Island truly is some type of electromagnetic lynchpin that holds the world together – and there’s the risk that if Widmore wins, and starts digging up the Island (like we saw at the Swan Station Incident) to harness its power, it might bring about the end of the world. Again, at least that’s what the “faith” side believes. Widmore would counter with “that’s ridiculous, and we could save a lot of people by curing cancer, etc.” through his Island experiments.

So there’s your heavy drama. Like we discussed during the middle of the sixth season, with everything that transpired over the first five seasons of Lost, all suffering, all the death, and all the importance of everything – the only possible justification for it all is that it was all required to save the world.

How does it end? The logical answer to the science vs. faith debate is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – and I think that’s the answer that our Survivors will realize. Ben and Widmore both probably die in the battle, leaving our Survivors as the de facto “leaders” of the suddenly leaderless Others on the Island – and they impart this knowledge to them. Thus, we see that our Survivors truly did grow up, overcome their own issues, and serve a higher purpose thanks to all the time they spent on the Island.

In one of the final scenes that take place on the Island, Jack wonders aloud if they would have all achieved the same sort of enlightenment and personal growth were it not for the plane crash on the Island… cut to the Flash Sideways scene in the church with Jack and Christian Shephard. The audience now understands that the Flash Sideways represented exactly that – a purgatory type place after the death of our Survivors that takes place after they all die, where they prove to themselves that it would have been possible to turn their lives around even if it weren’t for Jacob and the Island – and for those who didn’t, that they can keep working at it in the Flash Sideways until they get it right.

I swear in my head it’s not as cheesy as it probably sounds when I write it out.

Sure, there are some other details that would need to be worked out with this ending – most notably an explanation for what Smokey is and how he was created – but heck, you could even piece together a pretty easy explanation that similar to what happened to Anti-Jacob falling into the “heart of the Island” and becoming Island Protector without much effort and it would still nicely tie into the new storyline I proposed.

So there you have it – was it worth the wait? Absolutely not. Again, I’m sorry for the huge delay on this – but come on, you know the Blog always sucks in the summertime, right? Once summer is over, life should get a little less busy and the posts will once again be more frequent. Now we just have to figure out what those posts will be about.

(Note: this will not be my last post about Lost, obviously. We’ll still have to discuss the additional scenes on the DVD once it is released, at the very least).

But for now, if anyone still cares to think about or discuss Lost, the Comments section is yours!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"The End" Analysis (That No One Probably Cares About)

I feel like this is a day late and a dollar short, since everyone has had massive discussions about Lost over the past week - but whatever. Here it is, in case anyone cares!

One week ago, I said the following:

“Part of me thinks that we shouldn't jump right into our normal over-analyzing of the episode, nit-picking details and trying to reconcile what we just saw with the previous 119 hours of the show. On a strictly emotional level, the Lost finale was fully satisfying, emotional, epic, sweeping, and felt more important than any television finale I've ever seen. The wife was in tears. I was confused as I tried to work it all out in my mind. In short, it was everything you would want from the final episode of Lost. If you didn't tear up a little when Vincent laid down next to Jack, you do not have a heart. The final ten minutes were about as perfect as anything I could have imagined for the last Lost - and the episode as a whole had everything I wanted - action, closure, callbacks to the major moments from the previous five seasons, and plenty of perfect "character moments" that are really going to make us all miss these characters.”

I still stand by that statement 100%.

However, the time has come to turn our critical eye to “The End” and do a full-blown traditional analysis. Let’s leave our emotions at the door and get down to business. What really happened in “The End”?

The End. One of my biggest complaints about the final season of Lost is the writers’ inability to frame the real “danger” on the Island. We were often told that it was a very bad thing if SmokeLocke left the Island – going so far as telling us that it would mean the end of existence – but never told why. They left it ambiguous, and because of that, the motives and actions of the final two episodes took a dramatic shift from what we were anticipating all season long. Let me explain:

  • Anti-Jacob just wanted to leave the Island. However, as long as Jacob was alive, he could not do so.
  • Even once Anti-Jacob found his loophole and killed Jacob (something that took him thousands of years to accomplish), he still couldn’t leave the Island as long as Jacob’s candidates were alive.
  • One Anti-Jacob found out about Desmond last episode, suddenly he decided that destroying the Island was a crucial part of his plan… or perhaps just an added bonus.
  • However, once Desmond removed the Cork from the Heart of the Island, Anti-Jacob immediately left for his boat to escape before the Island sank, even though a number of Jacob’s candidates were still alive and well.

It seems a little illogical that after spending thousands of years working towards one goal, Anti-Jacob would abandon it and focus on something else… and that magically, the rules surrounding the candidates tying him to the Island would no longer apply.

Yes, it’s possible to come up with some explanations for this – which we’ll touch on in a moment – but the audience shouldn’t have to make these logical stretches to understand the major conflict of the season. In the end, the battle between SmokeLocke and Jack was important to us because SmokeLocke killed Jack’s friends – but it lacked any sort of additional stakes where we cared if SmokeLocke left the Island or not… which, even though the fight was pretty badass, left it pretty hollow. Heck, part of the audience was probably still rooting for SmokeLocke, feeling sorry for him being trapped on the Island all these years. All he wanted was to go home… something he never got to do.

Jack. The best explanation for SmokeLocke’s actions is that once Jacob “knighted” Jack as the new Protector of the Island, he no longer had to kill the remaining candidates. He only had to worry about killing Jack – and when he left Jack knocked out with the Island collapsing around him, SmokeLocke assumed that Jack would eventually die as the Island sunk to the bottom of the ocean. (Again, for a guy that forged the most complex plan in human history to find his loophole, this seems like an outrageously unrealistic action on his part – there were no “rules” forbidding him from killing Jack. Even if this was the case, why not stab him in the heart before running off to the boat? Illogical.)

As for Jack himself, he finally fulfilled the destiny that brought him back to the Island in the first place. In Jack’s eyes, he’s screwed up everything else in his life (failed marriage to Sarah, failed engagement to Kate, failed career, drug addition, horrible beard), the Island is his one chance to right all those wrongs by doing something good, something important, and make his life all worthwhile. What Jack doesn’t realize – or doesn’t utilize – is that from the moment that Jacob makes him the new Protector of the Island, Jacob’s “rules” no longer apply. The new “rules” are Jack’s to make, but he doesn’t realize it (another example of the poor transition on Jacob’s part. He would never make it in upper management).

The only thing that Jack knows is that he’s confident in his plan, even if he doesn’t know exactly what it is. He knows that he is somehow going to use Desmond to stop and kill SmokeLocke, and that he, and John Locke, were right about the Island all along. It turns out that they were right.

Desmond. From Desmond’s perspective, ever since he was blasted by Widmore’s electromagnetic experiment on the Island, he apparently saw his afterlife – and it was a happy one. Widmore loved him, he was just starting a new relationship with Penny (free of all the drama and mistakes he made the first time), and he didn’t have some pesky kid running around forcing him to be responsible. What’s not to like?

That’s exactly why Desmond basically “gave up” on life at this point. He was back on the Island, he wasn’t confident that he would ever get off and be with Penny again in life, so he just wanted to die so that he could be with her in the afterlife.

It brings up an interesting, super deep philosophical question – if you knew that you had a perfect, happy afterlife waiting for you after you died, what’s the point in living through all the crap in life? Would you just look for the quickest and easiest way to kill yourself to get to that “happily ever after”, or would you continue to soldier on through the trials and hardships of life?

For Desmond, he picks the first option. He adopts the opinion that “none of this matters” on the Island, and thinks that he needs to carry out one final mission to “save the world” (again), and once he’s done, he will die and return to his “happily ever after life”.

He was wrong.

As for Widmore and Jacob, Desmond was basically another “failsafe” switch – a last ditch effort. Their original intention was to use Desmond to pull the Cork in case SmokeLocke was successful in killing all the candidates. This would render SmokeLocke mortal – but destroy the Island in the process. As a mortal, I suppose SmokeLocke leaving the Island wouldn’t be such a bad thing (since he couldn’t go all Smokey on the world and rule the human race with an iron-smokey fist)… but this also means that it really wasn’t that important that the Island exist in the first place, right? If the destruction of the Island meant that the light at the heart of it would go out, obviously it wouldn’t bring about the end of the world / hope / existence – otherwise, Jacob wouldn’t have sent Desmond back to the Island as a safety precaution that all the candidates died.


Remember my original complaint about the writers not framing the danger of this season very well? This is exhibit B in support of that argument. The spent a season telling us how important it was to protect the Island, or else “all hell will break loose”, but then we find out that Jacob’s backup plan is to allow the Island to crumble as long as it renders SmokeLocke mortal.

Disappointing. But I digress.

Two weeks ago, I settled on “power” as being the thing at the heart of the Island – the thing that is inside each of us a little, the thing that everyone wants more of, but if someone had total control of, it would be a very bad thing. After watching “The End”, I still think that analysis is spot on.

The existence of the Cork in the Heart of the Island indicates that there was a time on the Island, pre-Cork. Once the Cork was in place, it somehow harnessed the power that was emanating from the Heart of the Island, which in turn gave the Island all its magical powers and “unique electromagnetic properties”. The essence of Smokey – the heart of his power – was tied to the Island. The area immediately around the Cork was so close to this power, that it would kill anyone who came close – a nice defense mechanism from preventing anyone from removing it… except Desmond. Once Desmond removed the Cork, that power was released, and SmokeLocke became mortal. Unfortunately, with all that pent up power suddenly being released, the Island began to fall apart under the impact of this surge of power. Even more unfortunate for Desmond, he survived the whole incident. Although logic would tell you that he would have eventually died as the Island collapsed, were it not for Jack, in his mind, this was the worst case scenario.

He was back trapped on the Island.

Smokey. After the epic battle with SmokeLocke (where Jack gains not only the bleeding cut on his neck that we saw throughout his Flash Sideways, but also the fatal cut in his side that we all interpreted to be a scar from his appendectomy – but now I guess it could be either), Jack realizes that his rule as king of the Island will be short-lived, since it’s up to him to replace the Cork and restore balance to the Island now that SmokeLocke had been killed. He passes the torch to Hurley (fittingly using the Oceanic 815 water bottle), re-corks the Island, but somehow is not killed by the exposure to the electromagnetic power that again begins flowing from the Heart of the Island. Instead Jack is “spit out” from the Heart of the Island just like Anti-Jacob was – where he stumbles to his death in the bamboo forest with Vincent by his side.


All of this brings up one big question – what happened to Smokey with all these transitions?

My best theory from “Across the Sea” was that The Woman was both Protector and Smokey rolled into one, and she split those powers among Jacob and Anti-Jacob to create a balance and limit the chance for man to abuse those powers. Jack became the new Jacob, but SmokeLocke still had the Smokey powers (since Kate’s bullets this episode had no effect on him). Once SmokeLocke died, what happened to those Smokey powers? Did they return to the Heart of the Island? If so, why didn’t Jack become Smokey when he was exposed to the Heart of the Island? Or is it that since Jack (and later Hurley) were “pure of heart”, that there was no Smokey anymore?

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not losing any sleep over these questions – but based on the Egyptian hieroglyphics we’ve seen over the years, as long as the Island has existed, there has been a Smokey on it as well. For Smokey to suddenly cease to exist because Jack and Hurley are “good people” seems a little silly to me. On the other hand, the image of Hurley “hulking out” and becoming Smokey in a moment of rage seems super awesome to me, so that’s how I’ll pretend things ended up.

I think that wraps up the “main storyline” on the Island, but there are a few side items worth noting before we move on to the Flash Sideways…

Rose and Bernard and Vincent. It turns out that Sayid didn’t save Desmond from the Well, but Rose or Bernard or Vincent did. So even though Sayid did end up saving our Survivors from the bomb on the Sub, he wasn’t suddenly “100% good” again after his encounter with Desmond. As for Rose, Bernard, and Vincent, their existence on the Island was finally explained (they time traveled along with our Survivors). They remained uninvolved in all the silly drama that our Survivors found themselves entangled in, and as a result, had a pretty happy little life on the Island. In my head, I picture Hurley, Ben, Desmond, Rose, Bernard, and Vincent having picnics on the Island and talking about the good old days for years to come until each of them meet their natural deaths.

Of course, Vincent never dies. The Island has a thing for dogs.

Benjamin Linus. The flip-flopping of Benjamin Linus was a little far-fetched during the final few episodes of the series. I suppose we can justify it as being a “long con” that he was trying to pull on SmokeLocke – one that conveniently allowed him to kill Widmore in the process (talk about two birds with one stone), but even at the beginning of “The End” he was putting a gun in Sawyer’s back and leading him to SmokeLocke. Then at the end, he was helping our Survivors kill SmokeLocke. But the most confusing thing of all is the way that he magically escaped from being pinned underneath that tree. I was sure that was going to be Ben’s redemption. He saves Hurley from being crushed, but ends up dying in the process. Instead, he gets what he wanted all along – a true role of importance on the Island, as Hurley’s #2.

Richard Alpert and Frank. Thank God that both of these characters ended up being alive and well on the Island, saving them from unceremonious off-screen deaths that neither deserved. Alpert is finally aging, and Frank fulfilled his destiny of flying Ajira 316 after all (yeah, still super unrealistic to me).


Claire. I’m sorry, but Claire really didn’t add anything to this season. The scenes with her were always awkward, the storyline with her being “claimed” by SmokeLocke never really panned out to anything, and she did little besides throw out empty threats to our Survivors and provide a purpose for Kate being back on the Island. They probably should have just let her die in Season Four.

Okay – I think that wraps up my thought about the Island. Let’s move on to the Flash Sideways.

Flash Sideways. First of all, should we continue to call them the Flash Sideways? Per Christian Shephard, there is no such thing as linear time in the Flash Sideways, but they are all taking place after each character dies in life – making them Flash Forwards, right? Oh well, we’ve called them Flash Sideways for this long, might as well stick with it for “The End”.

After a season of waiting, we finally got our explanation for what the Flash Sideways represented – a place created by the Survivors so that they could meet up before moving on to the next stage of their afterlife (heaven?). I loved this explanation because it made everything that happened on the Island over the past six seasons “count”. Dead characters weren’t magically alive again. People didn’t get a second chance to correct their mistakes. Everyone died, like I was hoping for – but by having the Flash Sideways, it wasn’t the most depressing finale in television history. It had a happy, hopeful ending.

Having said that, I definitely have some problems with how these Flash Sideways were handled this season.

The biggest complaint that I have is that for the first time in Lost history, the writers were intentionally trying to trick the audience with red herrings that make no sense now that we know the truth. Why would Jack be married to Juliet, instead of Kate – who was much more of his “true love” in life? Why would characters like Charlie and Faraday say things like “we aren’t supposed to be here” and “none of this is real” – when in fact, even if it wasn’t the final stop in the afterlife, it was apparently a necessary stop along the way? I understand that the Flash Sideways could be viewed as a sort of “dream world”, where things are based in reality, but slightly different – but some of it still feels cheap. We’re going to tackle some explanations for these differences in a moment, but it still doesn’t seem right that we’re making these stretches to explain something that should make total sense at face value.

In short, I think we could have spent a lot less time in the Flash Sideways and achieved the same end result.

The other thing that was weird was the collection of characters who “created” this reality. With the exception of Boone and Locke, who were kinda BFFs on the Island back in the day, it seems like unless you had a significant romance with another character on the show, you weren’t invited to the “moving on” party at the end. This meant that there was no unifying factor between all the characters who had their epiphanies and “moved on”, which seems a little weird. But I can’t deny that it made for a great, emotional final scene for Lost.

Let’s look at each character who “let go”, and what caused each to do so:

Boone – we never learned what led to Boone’s epiphany, but I’m guessing it had something to do with getting over Shannon, again.

Rose and Bernard – not shown, but it seems like both of them understood what the Flash Sideways were from the start. Rose made a comment to Jack about “letting go” on Oceanic 815, Bernard was weird and cryptic when Jack talked to him, and both seemed to have found a peace in life that might have carried over into the after-life.

Claire – giving birth to Aaron, causing her to “let go” of the guilt she felt for abandoning him in the first place?

Kate – helping Claire give birth to Aaron, which only happened because she stopped running and helped a very pregnant Claire in the Flash Sideways world… so I guess it was really about no longer running away? It’s a stretch…

Charlie – touching Claire, which showed him that he could be a good person and loving pseudo-father, instead of a junkie rock and roller? This makes no sense either, since Flash Sideways Charlie didn’t really do anything to prove that he could make the right decision and sober up – he was just in the right place at the right time… thanks to Hurley’s intervention.

Sun and Jin – seeing Ji-Yeon’s ultrasound, which helped them “let go” of abandoning their child in life so that they could die together? That doesn’t make much sense either, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Sayid and Shannon – touching each other, which apparently means that even though Sayid spent his entire life searching for Nadia, two weeks on the Island with a hot blonde made her his soul mate. Likewise for Shannon, two weeks on the Island with an Iraqi torturer was the best time of her life? It makes no sense, unless you play the “Sayid realized that he couldn’t be with Nadia because he didn’t deserve her after all the bad things he did” card – but it’s the afterlife! Isn’t that your chance to “let go” of the wrongs of your past?

Locke – regaining his ability to walk reminded him of all his time on the Island, which definitely was the best part of his life. Noticeably absent from his after life epiphany? His fiancĂ©, Helen – so I guess he was “moving on” from her and didn’t really love her after all? Weird.

Libby and Hurley – kissing, which let them finally have the relationship that they were robbed from on the Island?

Desmond and Penny – touching, which might have helped Desmond get over his abandonment of Penny twice in life thanks to that damned Island (who knows if he ever returned back a second time or not). But Penny? She’s definitely the oddball inclusion in the final scene, having never set foot on the Island or even met the majority of the characters in the final church scene. But it made for good TV, I suppose.

Sawyer and Juliet – perhaps the best part of any Flash Sideways epiphany, we finally realize that there was no greater meeting in Juliet’s “it worked” comment from “LA X” – she was simply experiencing the moment in the Flash Sideways where Sawyer got his candy bar. Although if you think about it, this means that she must have been living through the Flash Sideways for quite some time before she actually died – and in dying, she jumped to the place in the Flash Sideways where she had her moment with Sawyer… unless I’m thinking too linearly about the Flash Sideways and time doesn’t really work the same way there. I also loved that she summed up all the weird stuff with the Island and the Cork with her “you an unplug it and plug it back in and that’s technically legal” line. Love Juliet.

But again, what did either of them actually “let go” to earn this epiphany? They just touched. Neither did anything to overcome the issues they had in life or prove that they learned some lesson, did they?

Jack – finally we have Jack. You could make the argument that Jack was the one who created the Flash Sideways, and it would make a lot of sense. In it, he learned to get over his daddy issues by being a good father to David (PS – sucks to be you David, you don’t actually exist or get to “move on” with your parents), accepted his own father’s death, and performed the ultimate “fix” of John Locke. If it was all about Jack, the Flash Sideways would have made perfect sense.

You can see the issues, right? Aside from a few characters, the Flash Sideways weren’t really about “letting go”, they were about connecting with your loved ones in the afterlife so that you didn’t have to go on alone. It’s like “live together or die alone” taken to the extreme. I’m fine with this explanation – but again, if this is the case, then a lot of the stuff that we saw in the Flash Sideways was unnecessary filler… it really didn’t matter what fake lives these characters were living in the Flash Sideways because they were all fake – all that mattered is that they found their loved ones, regardless of what it took to find them.


Wrap Up. Originally, I was going to post my “what I would have done differently” thoughts here – but I think I’ll wait and do that for my next post. For now, let’s just focus on what actually happened in “The End”. In the end, I think that “The End” was a great episode – and I think that most of my issues with the episode actually had nothing to do with the episode, but rather the ones that led up to it. As you can see, looking back on the final season as a whole, there was a lot that didn’t make a lot of sense and seemed a little sloppy. But we’ll get to that later as well.

I feel like everyone is all burned out on discussion of “The End”, but if there are any outstanding items you’d like my take on, feel free to post them in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll be back in the next few days with my overall thoughts on the series and what I would have done differently.