Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lost - Moment 7


  • Juliet is noticeably absent from the Operating Room. She sure got out of there quick... is she off helping Kate and Sawyer, as hinted at in the previous Lost Moment?
  • There seems to be some existing tension between Juliet and Tom, much like there seemed to be tension between Juliet and Ben.
  • Jack continues to be pretty sweet and badass.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lost - Moment 6

Wow - two good "Lost Moments" in a row! Maybe this spring season is going to be way more kickasserific than we thought!


  • Unlike some of the other "Lost Moments", this one is clearly from the first episode back after the break, still showing Jack in the Operating Room with Ben.
  • It doesn't look like Sawyer and Kate's escape is going to be as easy as some thought... and it doesn't look like they hijack the alleged submarine to get back to the mainland - at least not right away.
  • Juliet seems to be missing from the Operating Room. Could she be the one who knocks out Picket at the end to save Sawyer and Kate? Or could it be Alex? Either way, it looks like that'll be the key to Kate and Sawyer finding freedom, leaving Jack behind to hang out in a cage.

(Thanks to Dru for reminding me to update the Blog. You'll have to forgive me, as I'm still in a state of mourning after the Bengals debacle on Christmas Eve.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lost - Moment 5

Ummmm - this "Lost Moment" is actually insanely good!

  • Cindy and Jack reunite!
  • Jack apparently gets out of the Operating Room, but ends up in a cage like Sawyer and Kate - so clearly he doesn't escape with them.
  • Cindy seems totally cool with "The Others" - is she brainwashed into their hippie cult? Was she part of it all along, before Flight 815 crashed? Was she "a mole" on the outside?
  • Apparently The Others are "here to watch". Does this mean that their wacky science experiments are continuing? Or are they just all just watching our Survivors to see who proves themselves "worthy" of joining The Others' wacky cult? Or is she just literally referring to all those people there just to watch Jack, to make sure he doesn't escape?

I'm officially excited about the Lost spring season.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Marvin's Reindeer

Wow. Once again Ryan Parker proves to be the greatest (only?) Bengals singer-songwriter of the modern era. It's hilarious. It's topical. It's kinda sad.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

TV Mid-Term Report Cards

(Quick, hide them before your parents see them and ground you!)

Now that most TV shows are on their annual Winter Hiatus, it’s a good time to look back at the body of work that each show delivered during the fall. To be completely honest, I’ve been underwhelmed by most of the shows that I considered “must see” going into the fall. There have been a few noticeable standouts, but for the most part, I would say that the shows I watch were better last year than they have been so far this year. So let’s dish out the marks of each show that I hyped up back in September ( to see where I was right and where I led you astray…


Prison Break

Grade: B

What Brian Predicted: "While it may not achieve the same level of excitement as its first season, there is little doubt it will be an entertaining ride. Prison Break has become a modern-day “The Fugitive”, which isn’t a bad thing.”

What Happened: I was pretty much dead on with my prediction of this one. The season started by killing off a number of “main characters” from Season One, and in the process tightened up the storyline considerably. Unfortunately, we then fell into a pretty boring cross-country chase where the characters miraculously kept crossing paths in small-town America in their search for Westmoreland’s buried treasure. Luckily, the last few episodes of the season got Prison Break right back to where it needed to be and set the stage for a great second half of the season as Michael and Lincoln work to take down the President of the United States (“24” Season 5, anyone?). I’d also say this was the “most satifsying and surprising” of all the “fall finales”. Good work, Prison Break – keep it up!


Grade: A-

What Brian Predicted: "My chief concern for “Heroes” is how (if ever) these characters interact with each other… they’re scattered all over the world, speaking different languages, living unique lives. Will some “big bad” appear, forcing them to work together to defeat them? Will the show focus more around the people coming to grips with being “different”? I have no idea, but this show is different enough to keep me watching for the first few episodes.”

What Happened: Luckily, all my concerns were addressed all these concerns in the best way possible – getting the characters interacting in somewhat reasonable ways, giving us a “big bad” (in addition to some potential “smaller bads”), and keeping the focus on the drama in the heroes lives rather than being a small-screen version of the X-Men.

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If I had to give out a “Best New TV Show of 2006” Award (and I do, contractually), it would go to Heroes without question. A lot of people have called this show the “anti-Lost” because the storylines are quickly moving, action-packed, and the a good deal of the questions raised are answered in an episode or two instead of dragging out over the entire season. For the most part, the characters are varied and quite interesting – we care about them and are curious where they are going to end up. The storyline moves at a great clip, and I haven’t ever felt like an episode was a “filler”.

Having said that, this show isn’t perfect. A lot of the time, the dialogue can be pretty clunky, sounding more like cheesy lines from a comic book than a network drama. It’s also pretty interesting that the show involving “superheroes” has actually been very light on the action thus far. I’m looking forward to some straightforward “action” sequences (although “Homecoming” was pretty intense) where we get to see the heroes actually put their powers to the test. That could ratchet up my opinion of the show to the next level.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Grade: C-

What Brian Predicted: "It’s just a well-made show about a subject matter that isn’t overly interesting to me."

What Happened: It worries me that the rest of America agreed with me on this one, because I generally curse the masses who watch their “American Idol” and “CSI” – but it seems that my chief concern for this show was the same as theirs – the backstage world of Saturday Night Live and network TV just really isn’t that interesting.

It didn’t help that this show isn’t really funny, isn’t really exciting, and isn’t really dramatic – it just is. You can nitpick about the show’s faults, but in general it doesn’t do anything bad. It just doesn’t do anything good either. There’s no passion and no reason for the audience to connect with the show.

After three weeks, I quit watching. I’m shocked that NBC is standing by this show because I really don’t see its ratings ever improving. I’ve actually read reports that some of the actors on the show were hoping it would be cancelled, because they’re ready to move on as well. Look for this show to slowly fade away…



Grade: C+

What Brian Predicted: "To me, this is a fascinating storyline. In this day and age of being constantly connected to everyone in the world via TV, Internet, and Telephone, what would happen if we were suddenly all alone?"

What Happened: It turns out, it really isn’t that interesting. The overall storyline of the show is still plenty grippy – what’s going on? Are we under attack by aliens? A foreign country? Ourselves? – it’s just that the other storylines are pretty lame. Getting supplies from hospitals in other cities, powerlines falling in playgrounds, and restoring power to the hospital don’t really interest me. It also kinda bothers me that the characters on the show seem to have everything a bit too easy given that they are completely isolated from the rest of the country.

This show needed to be much more like “24” – instead, it feels more like a family drama with an action story looming in the background. I’m still curious to find out what actually happened… but not curious enough to actually tune into the show each week.


Grade: C+

What Brian Predicted: "I think I’m more excited for the third season of “Lost” than I was for either of the previous two, if that’s possible. Coming off a season finale that had more action than the entire first season, I feel like we’re at the edge of a number of huge reveals about the show that has been teasing us with mysteries from the start. The writers seem determined to “wrap up” the lingering storylines of the first two seasons in order to open up a set of brand new ones with the third.When the show returns in October, we’re looking at a six episode, self-contained story arc dealing with the capture of Kate, Jack, and Sawyer. We’ll finally get a glimpse of the Others’ camp, begin to learn about their experiences on the Island, and determine who the good guys and bad guys really are. Even better, two of the more dynamic characters from last season, HGI and Desmond, are back as series regulars. What more can you want?"

What Happened: The answer is: a lot more. Ironically, all the things I wanted to have happen (wrapping up lingering storylines from Seasons 1 and 2, learning the true nature of the Others, lots of Desmond action) didn’t. Instead, we got a lot of storylines I was somewhat indifferent about (Kate hooking up with Sawyer, Locke saving Eko from a polar bear, Paulo and Nikki action).

Before you grab your pitchforks and start hurling profanites at me, I should clarify that I hold “Lost” to higher standards than other shows. Although it got a C+, it’s still the number one show I watch on TV without fail. There’s no other show I would rather watch just because the show is so rich, well-made, and addicting. While I respect the writers and their storytelling decisions, I think we viewers would all be much happier if they would actually throw us a bone once in a while and give us an answer or two. They don’t even have to be big answers. Just something.

Why? Because we’re actually at a very interesting place as Lost-viewers. I think a lot of people have “jumped ship” this season, finally giving up on the show actually giving us any answers, unwilling to invest their time in the show without getting any payoff. Granted, this is probably weeding out the “casual viewers”, and we “die-hard viewers” could care less, it should be a concern of the show’s creators. After all, what good is a storyline if there’s no one there to see it?

As I said, I’m hopeful that the 16 nonstop episodes in the spring will make us forget about the more forgetful parts of Season Three: Part 1. Looking back, there was one great episode (“The Cost of Living”), two good episodes (“Every Man for Himself” and “I Do”), and three mediocre ones (“A Tale of Two Cities”, “The Glass Ballerina”, and “Further Instructions”). That sounds like a C+ to me.


Grade: Incomplete

What Brian Predicted: "The characters on this show are fantastic… even better, there are hints of a huge conspiracy lying just beneath the surface – which should develop as the season progresses. Why does the family speak French to each other and English to everyone else? Why do they only need a bodyguard for their son?I can’t wait to find out."

What Happened: I never found out.

In reality, there are a number of shows on this list that would probably should be “Incomplete” due to mid-season cancellation (“The Nine” and “Six Degrees”, I’m looking at you) – but I feel like “Kidnapped” was the only show that was killed before I got a chance to fairly judge it. What I saw, I liked – a lot. But just as the story was starting to gain traction, it was banished to Friday nights and then taken off the schedule altogether, leaving us to wonder where the show’s fascinating storylines were headed.

NBC – bad move in picking “Studio 60” as the show to “stick with”. This was your chance to have a kickass show in your lineup that the “Sunday Night Football” crowd would actually watch. “24” didn’t get good ratings until its third season either, and now it’s consistently in the Top 10. Frustrating.

The Nine

Grade: C

What Brian Predicted: "It sounds interesting enough, with each episode beginning with a flashback of another 10 minutes of the hostage situation – but here’s what I want to know – what is the point / storyline of the show in the present tense?It’s got a solid cast (Kim Raver – aka Audrey from “24”, Scott Wolf – aka Dreamy Boy from “Party of Five”) so I’m going to give it a try. Once I figure out what this show is actually about (is it just a regular drama about how a situation like this changes your life? Or is there something more to it?)"

What Happened: Unfortunately, my fears were correct. The “interesting” part of the show (the bank robbery / hostage situation) was relegated to the first ten minutes each week, and then we were left with typical TV-drama about unwanted pregnancies, love affairs, blah blah blah. The show hinted that there was something more intriguing lurking beneath the surface, but it would only touch on this mystery for a few moments each episode. What it needed was for this mystery to be far more integrated in the show – because this is what made the show different, unique, and interesting.ABC, here’s your lesson – it doesn’t matter how many great actors you have in a TV show. If the story is dull, no one is going to care (unless all the actors are hot and scantily clad, of course). This show has been pulled and the network promises it will be back as a “mid-season replacement”, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Actors on the show are currently looking for other work, which isn’t a good sign.

Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County

Grade: B+

What Brian Predicted: "Although the new cast pales in comparison to the old cast (I can’t say that I really like any of them, although I do hate Cami with the burning passion of 1000 suns), the show is still beautifully shot and a great guilty pleasure to voyeuristically look into the lives of the rich kids of Laguna."

What Happened: You know what, those crazy kids kinda grew on me! While I can’t really say that I loved any of them, I was indifferent to most of them. Luckily, what this season had going for it was more teenage drama per episode than any of the previous seasons, so you didn’t really care that the characters were for the most part uninteresting and incapabale of expressing real feelings or logic.

The Kyndra / Jessica / Cameron storyline was fantastic, especially because Cameron ended up being a normal dude in the end and being like “I don’t need this drama” and walking away from both of them. Equally great was watching Rocky express her “love” for Alex way too quick and him responding with a quick break up, or the overall idiocrity of anything related to Tyler.

In the end, Laguna proved that it doesn’t matter if your “lead character” (Tessa) is as interesting as a piece of plywood, or if you don’t have a token “hot girl” (like Kristen / LC), as long as there is ridiculous teenage drama involving spoiled rich kids, it’ll be good!

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Top Chef

Grade: A

What Brian Predicted: "What sets this one apart is that the challenges are damn fun (create a gormet meal out of ingredients bought from a gas station, candy bar and snack food taste tests, etc.) It’s a breath of fresh air."

What Happened: The show continued to impress. This season, there have been more topical challenges (like the Thanksgiving-related), fun challenges (make a meal without using heat), and just flat out more interesting ones (make a meal for kids at fat camp that is less than 500 calories). One thing I’m noticing this season that sets this show apart from other reality shows is that the challenges are the stars of the show. There’s maybe two minutes of “confessionals” each week, then you jump into the Quickfire Challenge, immediately followed by the Elimination Challenge – as opposed to a show like Real World / Road Rules challenge where the drama between the characters is the star of the show.

It’s funny, but a sign of how much I like this show was the week after Thanksgiving, when I got back in town and had a ton of shows backed up on the DVR. First I watched “Heroes”, then I watched “Top Chef”. It’s that good.


My Name is Earl

Grade: A

What Brian Predicted: "Deep down inside, I have a fear that the show will start to feel stale since it’s pretty much the same story every week – but thus far they’ve done a great job in introducing new characters and having enough laugh-out loud moments to the show work.Now on Thursdays at 8:00, I kinda feel like “Earl” is the new “Friends” and “The Office” is the new “Seinfeld” – I can only hope NBC is smart enough to place “Scrubs” on Thursday nights this spring to complete a great comedic “Must See TV” night like the glory days of yore."

What Happened: It turns out my fears were all for naught. “My Name is Earl” wins the award for “Most Improved Show of 2006.” On more than one occasion this fall, I’ve found Earl to be funnier than “The Office”, even though my head was telling me that The Office has to be funnier by default because I like it better. But it was no use – laughs (much like my hips) don’t lie.

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Earl’s imrpovement can be directly linked to the storylines, which have been much more outrageous than last season, and a bit more racier (pretending to be God, stealing from a stoner, being addicted to gambling) – but I just feel like these are the much more natural things for Earl (who was a lowdown criminal) to be involved in. I’ve also loved the show incorporating some story arcs that last longer than an episode, like Joy’s criminal case (chock full of hilariously inappropriate deaf jokes) or their recent escapade to Mexico to retrieve Catalina.

I’m also happy to report that my dream came true, and Scrubs is sitting smack in the middle of NBC’s Thursday night comedy block. I’m even happier to report that ratings for all shows involved have been great for the past two weeks – keep up the good work, people!

The Office

Grade: A

What Brian Predicted: "The Office has created one of the best ensemble comedy casts in recent memory – and there really isn’t enough time in each episode to give them all enough screen time. I mean, we all love Jim, Pam, Dwight, and Michael – but even characters like Ryan, Stanley, and Kevin are hilarious, even though they sometimes get one or two lines a week."

What Happened: The Office added even MORE characters, kept our lovebirds apart for most of the season thus far, and yet still is as great as ever.

I had no idea how the cliffhanger from Season Two would be resolved, but I’m happy to report that in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have thought up a better storyline and resolution. Somehow, it was logical, progressed the storyline, and yet ended up putting us right back where we were before the cliffhanger (with Jim and Pam working in the same office) without seeming like a total “reset”.

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It was pure genius to have the first part of the season simulataneously focus on Jim in the Stamford branch and everyone else in the Scranton branch. While it kept the core characters apart, the writers came up with enough ways for them to interact to keep fans happy, while allowing enough time to get to know new characters like Karen and Andy. Now that the branches have merged (again, smart) we have a true “love triangle” between Karen, Pam, and Jim; a new nemesis for Dwight in Andy; and a fresh batch of characters for Michael to be totally inappropriate to.

Once again, The Office is at its best when it’s heavy on inappropriate humor involving minorities, homosexuals, and criminals. Mix in some heavy doses of Pam and Jim giving hilarious looks to one another and the camera, and you have the best comedy on TV.

Grey’s Anatomy

Grade: B

What Brian Predicted: "Here’s hoping for more crazy medical situations that offer symbolism into the characters’ personal lives, hot doc-on-doc action, and a fantastic soundtrack. It might not be the meatiest show on TV, but it sure is fun."

What Happened: I can’t put my finger on this one. Grey’s seems to be using the same formula (described above) as last year, but a lot of the episodes have lacked the emotional punch of Season One. Instead of episodes leaving me with a smile on my face or a tear in my eye, most have left me just sitting there.

I feel like some of the storylines have been dragging on a bit too long (for God’s sake, just let Izzie come back full time! She’s learned her lesson!) and a few of the patients’ problems are bordering on bad-soap-opera (lady impreganted by two different guys, lady having an affair with a pair of siamese twins).

I’m hopeful that the show will pick things up (I’m smelling some hot doc-on-doc action between Addison and Alex), wrap up the “Derek has the shakes” storyline, and will be back to top form by the time sweeps rolls around – but thus far this season, it’s been good – not great.

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Six Degrees

Grade: C-

What Brian Predicted: "In what seems to have spun out of the flashbacks from “Lost”, where we see how interconnected we all are, even if we don’t realize it – “Six Degrees” takes this theme to the forefront, and spins an entire show out of it. It’s a great idea for a “feel good” show, but I fear it will become a standard TV romantic drama pretty quickly. Here’s hoping it can build interesting characters and themes to keep me interested."

What Happened: See: The Nine; under “Brian’s worst fears realized”. The show quickly dissolved into a standard TV-drama, not effectively using its “hook” of “we’re all connected”, losing focus and lacking much in the way of interesting storylines. Another show on mid-season “hiatus”, another show likely to never air another episode on ABC. Next!


The Amazing Race

Grade: C

What Brian Predicted: "The least trashy and exploitive of all reality shows, here’s hoping for another group of contestants that are likable, following in the footsteps of the Linz Family of two years ago and the Hippies of last season. While the star of the show for me might be seeing exotic locales, it’s always nice to have a team you can get behind."

What Happened: Honestly, due to the rigorous demands of Bengals Tailgating (drinking from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm), I’m usually in no condition to watch “Amazing Race” on Sunday nights. There are a ton backed up on DVR, and I’ve seen a number – which I’m happy to report seem as good as ever – but not enough to bump any other shows off my plate so that I can watch the rest.

You know exactly what you’re getting with “Amazing Race”, and that’s a good thing – because it’s a good show – but it’s the kind of show that you don’t need to watch every week or every season.

So there you have it. When the Fall started, I was planning on watching twelve and a half hours of TV a week. By the end of the fall, my TV watching schedule consisted of a mere five (Prison Break, Lost, My Name is Earl, The Office, Top Chef, and Grey’s Anatomy) – who says I watch too much TV? I just watch TV with a passion, that’s all. Granted, with the addition of “Scrubs” and “24” lurking right around the corner, that number will rise by an hour and a half, but if you follow my lead, you should still be well within the USDA Recommended Weekly Allowance of Television.

Lost - Moment 4

Well, finally an interesting "Lost Moment"!

Two questions:

  1. What is Claire doing in the water? Trying to kill herself? Under some sort of spell? Sucked out to sea by wicked undertow?
  2. Are my dreams coming true, that the writers may finally kill off Claire? Probably not - but a guy can dream!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lost - "I Do" Analysis (Aged for One Month, So You Know It's Good!)

Hello again, it’s been too long.

How long has it been? Well, “I Do” aired on November 8th, almost a full month ago – so long ago, that I had forgotten a lot of the details of this episode and needed to re-watch it completely to spark my thoughts for this Blog Post. The good news is that for the past month, I also totally forgot that Paulo and Nikki even existed in the Lostiverse. But now I remember them all too well, along with all the wackiness that went down in the Season Three: Part One Finale, “I Do”.

So what happened?

Kate. Well, besides keeping with the writers’ central theme of Season Three thus far, we were once again treated to multiple scenes of Kate in various stages of nakedness. Both her flashback and the action on the Island featured her getting down and dirty with the current men in her life. However, we also got another snippet of Kate’s shady past – this time learning that (against all logic and reason), she actually married a Florida Cop named Kevin in her pre-Island life. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re a fugitive, isn’t marrying a police officer a terrible, terrible idea? Was Kate hoping she would get caught or what? Wouldn’t you think at some point during their courtship, Kevin might have found some holes in Kate’s story about her past? Or was he blinded by her beauty, leaving logic at the door and marrying her anyways (a la Nick Lachey)?

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Either way, the central theme of the flashback was a recurring one with Kate – that of always running. Pre-Island, whenever Kate got close to someone, she had to run in order to keep her freedom. It contrasts nicely to on-Island Kate, who refuses to leave Sawyer, even though by doing so, she could escape her cell and potentially find freedom. Heck, it takes Jack screaming at her for a good minute at the episode’s ending before she would even leave him.

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To what do we attribute this newfound behavior of Kate? Is it a sign of Kate standing by her man (proving she is actually in love with Sawyer, and wasn’t just in it for dirty cage hookup action) - or just a sign of her finally being a team player, finding belonging with a group of people in Jack and Sawyer, and refusing to run away anymore?

I’m thinking a little of both.

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Geometry. This episode finally brought the long-promised “resolution” to the Kate-Sawyer-Jack love triangle (although in my opinion, this was already resolved during last season’s “What Kate Did”). The writers clearly wanted us to think that she has “chosen” Sawyer as her McDreamy and the two are madly in love – but should we buy it? The whole cage match action seemed a little bit forced to me. I suppose you could argue that the two of them bonded during their time in captivity together, but short of Sawyer gawking at Kate in various stages of undress and picking fights on her behalf, I didn’t see a lot of character development that would lead to the two of them to professing their love for each other.

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But at the end of the day, we’re back where we should have been mid-season two, so I’m okay with it. Smart money is on this “relationship” quickly dissolving because, let’s face it, love triangles make for more interesting TV than love lines do (Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew = boring!). The real reason we should care about Kate and Sawyer finally getting to know each other in the Biblical sense is because of what it did to the third point in the triangle, Jack Shephard.

Jack. Jack is crushed. Although you could argue that he finally decided to perform the surgery on Ben as part of a masterplan that would allow Kate and Sawyer to escape, I think it’s far more reasonable to think that he agreed to do the surgery because he quit. There was a look in his eyes when he saw those video screens – a look of defeat. Although he never really came out and said it, and definitely missed a number of opportunities to put the moves on Kate, seeing her with Sawyer – who you could argue is the anti-Jack isn’t just her picking another guy over him, it’s Kate choosing the anti-Jack. Jack quits – he’s ready to leave the Island.

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Didn’t he always want to get off the Island? Maybe a little – but look at the life he left behind. Dad just died (his fault). Wife left him (his fault). It wasn’t exactly all rainbows and puppy dogs. While he doesn’t have the same sort of compelling reason as a Rose / Bernard / Locke to stay on the Island, I think you could argue that he was happy there. He was a respected leader, he seemed destined to end up with the resident Island hottie, and was getting a great tan. On the Island he had something new to focus his energies on instead of tormenting himself about the mistakes he made in his pre-Island life.

But now, he’s got a whole new set of issues. Once again the woman in his life left him and he’s trapped in an underwater prison, unable to lead, help them, or work on getting off the Island – unless he agrees to do the surgery. Doing so gives him a purpose, and I’m not talking about saving Ben. Agreeing to the surgery gives him the opportunity to have some power again – and the chance to get off the Island. But more importantly, it gives him the chance to sacrifice himself for the sake of Kate and go out like a hero.

I know a lot of people have been wondering how in the world Jack is going to get out of this situation. It’s not hard to imagine how Kate and Sawyer are going to escape (the preview showed them running through the jungle, Sawyer with gun in tow, and we know there’s a submarine / underwater tunnel somewhere), but Jack? He’s in bad shape.

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Right now, he’s got Ben as his bargaining chip. The problem is, Jack has too much of a conscience to actually let Ben die. He’s not a killer. But as soon as he saves Ben, his bargaining chip is gone and he’s trapped. While I can’t see the Others flat out killing Jack, I could very easily see them keeping him captive or turning the tables and using him as a bargaining chip to get something from the Survivors. If you want to get crazy, I could even see Ben coming out of surgery and offering Jack that chance to get off the Island (he kept his promise to Michael, after all). Anyways, while I expect Kate and Sawyer to quickly be rejoining the other Survivors after one or two episodes this spring, I don’t see Jack getting back to the beach for quite some time.

Plan. From a storytelling standpoint, keeping Jack with the Others actually makes a lot of sense. Before Season Three started, I expected that after the first six episodes, we would have an idea of who the Others are and what their intentions were – but we’re still a long way from there, having only received hints and small nuggets of information about them. Keeping Jack with them gives the us, the viewers, eyes and ears inside the Others camp – where these answers can be revealed without needing a large “The Other 48 Days”-esque expository of their story.

For instance, one the most intriguing lines of “I Do” was the one Pickett uttered immediately after Ben went under surgery, as he was storming out of the operating room to find Sawyer: “Ben just put his life in the hands of ‘one of them’. Shephard was never even on Jacob’s list’.”

What “list” was Pickett talking about? If Tom had Jack, Kate, Sawyer (and Locke) surrounded during “The Hunting Party” last season, why didn’t he just kidnap them at that point? Why did Ben let himself get kidnapped? What was the Others’ plan in all this? In trying to answer these questions, I realized that I needed a timeline. Here’s the best I could come up with:

  • Day 1 – Oceanic Flight 815 crashes, Ben sends Ethan and Goodwin to spy on each camp.
  • Day 2 – The three strongest Tailers are “taken”. (Presumably to ensure the Others maintain strength in numbers over the new inhabitants).
  • Days 2-12 – Goodwin and Ethan gather information about each of the Survivors, reporting back to the other Others. It is decided which are “good ones” and the “bad ones” based on their reconnaissance and research done via computers / magic / telepathy.
  • Day 12 – Nine “good ones” from the Tail Section are “taken”. Curiously, no “good ones” from the Fuselage? (Are the Others unable to carry out kidnappings there due to Smokey being in the way? Were none of them “good”? Puzzling…)
  • Day 45 - Walt is kidnapped
  • Day 51 – The events of “The Hunting Party”. Kate is kidnapped by the Others and Jack, Locke, and Sawyer are warned to turn back.
  • Day 58 – Ben is captured.
  • Day 61 – Mrs. Klugh makes agreement with Michael to get Ben back and capture Jack, Kate, and Sawyer.
  • Day 64 – Ben is freed by Michael
  • Day 67 – Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are captured
  • Day 73 – The events of “I Do”, with Jack doing the surgery on Ben.

Trying to make sense of this sequence is tough. A lot of the events don’t seem to add up, and I’m tempted to chalk them up to storylines that were changed mid-season - such as the fact that Michael Emerson (Ben) was only supposed to be on the show for a few episodes, but was so great that they kept him around for the better part of the last year and expanded his role – but I’ll do my best to fit them into a logical sequence of events.

The real key to my theory is that Ben is not the leader of the Others, and is a man who was sent on a mission for the true leader of the Others (who I can only assume is “Jacob”).

If you start with that, you can piece together a storyline that almost makes sense. The standard protocol that exists among the Others is whenever someone new stumbles upon the Island, they try and blend in with them, learn as much as they can about them, and determine if they are “good” or “bad”. Why? Not important right now. They take the “good ones” as soon as they can, and later steal Walt away when they find out about his power (their affinity for children is still puzzling – but again, not important for this discussion). When any of the “bad” Survivors get “too close” to the Others’ territory on the Island, they are warned to stay away.

Everything up until this point (Day 51) makes pretty logical sense… everything up until Ben getting captured. What was the purpose of this? Perhaps the Others are worried about the Survivors finding and living in the Hatch and what they might have discovered within (full of weapons, communications equipment, and a big honkin’ magnet!). It is agreed upon that someone needs to go on a dangerous mission – to get “caught” by them in order to see what they actually know, even though it will likely mean lots of torture and possible death. Our boy Ben volunteers because he is promised that if he can complete his mission, they’ll bring Jack back to their camp where he can perform the surgery needed to save his life.

After one week, the Others send Michael back to release Ben and give him the list. The all-knowing Others realize that it’ll be hard to get Jack to actually perform the surgery on someone who is viewed as “the enemy”, so they wisely bring along Kate and Sawyer as bargaining chips. Knowing that Jack loves Kate and Kate loves Sawyer (see, the Others picked up that Kate choose Sawyer with the black horse during “What Kate Did” too!), they realize that by threatening Sawyer, they can affect Kate – and by affecting Kate they can affect Jack.

They’re smart.

Thus, Kate and Sawyer are doing menial tasks that potentially have no purpose other than keeping them busy while Juliet tries to break down Jack. Once Jack sees the X-Rays, it’s determined that there isn’t enough time to see the plan to fruition and the beating of torture begins, setting the whole Sawyer affecting Kate affecting Jack wheel in motion. Little do they know that Jack would go all “hero” on them and sacrifice himself for Kate and Sawyer.

Phew. Lots of holes in there, but that’s the best I can do.

Pickett. So why is Pickett in such a rage? Well, if it weren’t for Ben getting this arrangement with Jacob, they would have never kidnapped Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. If that never happened, Sayid, Sun, and Jin wouldn’t have sailed around the Island to meet up with them. If that never happened, the Others wouldn’t have tried to steal their boat, and Colleen would have never been shot or died. Not only is Pickett full of rage against Sawyer (who embodies the Survivors), but also for Ben – who is putting them all at risk by trusting these “bad ones” who weren’t on “Jacob’s List” (the original list of “good ones” from Day 12). Pickett’s all about following the rules and his leader – and all of this bending of the rules for Ben’s benefit eats him up inside.

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Jacob. With all this talk about Jacob, I think it’s time we give him a little analysis too. The name Jacob is Hebrew for “he who supplants or takes the place of another, by force or scheming.” In the Bible, Jacob was the “father of Israel”. If we apply this to the Island (“Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess” alert!), I’m picturing Jacob as someone who overthrew Alvar Hanso and the Dharma Initiative on the Island, and decided to form a cult-like utopia there instead. It would make sense, wouldn’t it? He “supplants” Hanso and becomes the “father” to all the Others on the Island.

So where is he? Why haven’t we seen him? I’m guessing the leader of the Others is hanging out at their headquarters, and after this episode it’s clear that “Alcatraz” is not the normal home base of the Others…

Breach. How? Well, during Alex’s compound breach this episode, Pickett asks “How the hell did she get over here?” – as if she should be “over there”, along with all of the other Others, Cindy, the “good ones”, etc. I’m guessing Alcatraz is only used for “dirty matters” of imprisonment, torture, and weekend getaways. From a storytelling perspective, it’s also tough to have the Others and the Survivors interact when they’re on totally separate Island – which is why I’m thinking we’ll be done with Alcatraz after an episode of two of the spring season.

But what are we to make of Alex’s impassioned cries to Kate and Sawyer about “whatever they say, don’t believe them – they’re going to kill your boyfriend just like they killed mine”? At first I was tempted to chalk it up to part of the Others’ tricks to get Kate to think they would actually kill Sawyer, but on second viewing it all seemed legit – and I like the idea of Alex being an emotional teenager who is rebelling against the Others’ (aka – “The Man’s”) way of life. It seems that her boyfriend rebelled a bit too hard and paid the ultimate price for it. Capitol Punishment is alive and well on the Island!

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The other interesting thing is that the last thing Ben asked before going under for surgery was if Alex asked about him. It seems pretty obvious that after Alex was taken from CFL, Ben had some influence as raising her, perhaps as an adoptive father of sorts. Given this connection, think back to how Ben got “captured” by CFL which allowed him to do his reconnaissance of the Survivors. I wonder if there was some bargaining between Ben and CFL to have her arrange this “capture” in exchange for information about / seeing Alex…

Eko. Switching gears a bit, back on the main Island, Eko was buried – and with his burial came some intriguing conversation between Sayid and Locke, where they have some candid conversation about “the monster” (Sayid knows that Locke has seen it, but doesn’t believe in it until he sees it with his own eyes). Locke also remarks “Eko died for a reason – I just don’t know what it is yet”, indicating that he hasn’t lost faith in the Island, Smokey, or his purpose there (amazingly). He then looks down at Eko’s staff and sees the following:

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Now I know a lot of people were perplexed by this because the verse “Lift up your eyes and look north” is NOT John 3:05. What they’re failing to realize is that there is all sorts of jumbled Biblical phrases and verses running into each other on Eko’s staff, and they’re not intended to be related.

The phrase “lift up your eyes and look north” is actually from Genesis 13:14…

The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.

Time for more Biblical analysis! So the SAT analogy here is Locke:Abram::Eko:Lot.

In the Bible, Abram and Lot were both highly spiritual men who decided to divide and conquer the lands of Isreael. Unfortunately, Lot headed down to Sodom and Gomorrah (sin city!). Eventually, Abram rescues Lot from this life of gambling and strippers and receives the favor of God.

That’s some pretty obvious symbolism there, don’t you think? Locke and Eko were both spiritual, but went about different ways of proving their faith to God (the Island). Locke quite literally saved Eko three episodes ago, not from a life of sin, but from a polar bear – but in the end the Island smited him for refusing to repent for his sins, leaving Locke as the only one left in the favor of the Island.

The fact that the staff said “John” right below the verse just served as another “sign” to Locke that the message was meant for him. In fact, I’m guessing Locke isn’t a Biblical scholar and all this meaning is lost on him. So what is his new purpose? Well, it’s quite literal – head north. I don’t believe there have ever been any maps of the Island that had a clear indication of North, South, East, and West – but I’m betting that “north” will lead him to the Flame Hatch, and with it, “Patchy” the mysterious one-eyed man from the video screen in the Pearl two episodes ago.

Numbers. One last thought: something I noticed this season is that the Numbers have been surprisingly absent this season. There have been countless opportunities for them to appear, but instead random, stupid, non-4815162342 have been used in their place. Is this something intentional, the writers signifying that the Numbers “died” with the Hatch, where they were so integral? Or is this a product of the “Lost Experience” finally explaining what the Numbers meant, giving the writers an “out” from the Numbers that had grown far more important to viewers of the show than they had ever intended? Either way, it’s something I thought I should bring up.

So there you have it, the last of my analysis of the mini-arc of Season Three. Looking back, I give it a C+. Perhaps my expectations were too high – but like a lot of you, I wasn’t blown away by these six episodes. There were some definite high points (“The Cost of Living” in particular), but I think we all expected a self-contained six episode storyline and that wasn’t really what we got. Instead, we got more of “Act One” of a three act play that might have ended with some action, but didn’t end with some resolution.

Having said that, the writers have planted enough seeds to have some great stories coming up in the spring (Desmond’s new “power”, Kate and Sawyer’s escape, Jack’s imprisonment with the Others, Locke finding Patchy). Here’s hoping that by the time I’m writing my review of Season Three as a whole, I’ll realize that these episodes were necessary for a later payoff, and weren’t just a product of a show losing steam.

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to get working on my mid-season report cards for the TV shows of the fall. Coming soon!

Lost Moves Past Your Bedtime!

(Looks like we're going to need to start taking naps on Wednesday evenings. Per Variety today - Lost is moving to 10:00 pm EST when it comes back in February!)

In February, ABC will move 'Lost' to Wednesdays at 10 to avoid direct competition with Fox's 'American Idol.'ABC is moving "Lost" out of the way of the "American Idol" juggernaut.

ABC on Tuesday unveiled a January sked that has the spooky Wednesday drama moving back an hour to 10 p.m. when it returns Feb. 7. Shift -- the third timeslot for the show in as many years -- ensures the skein won't have to battle the Fox behemoth.

A year ago, "Lost" scored boffo numbers at 9 p.m. during the fall but took a notable ratings hit once "Idol" returned in January. Skein has since held steady in the ratings, but ABC execs clearly don't want to risk further slippage.

Net's affils should be happy with the shift. With "Lost" at 10 p.m., ABC will likely deliver local stations their best new lead-in numbers for the slot in years.

In addition to shielding "Lost" from "Idol," ABC is also protecting it from rising CBS drama "Criminal Minds" and NBC's "Deal or No Deal," which moves into the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot next month.

As for what will compete against "Idol," ABC has decided that laughter -- and games -- are the best medicine. Net has slotted its laffer "Knights of Prosperity" Wednesdays at 9 p.m., directly against the "Idol" results show. It'll be paired at 9:30 with another new comedy, "In Case of Emergency."

Laffer hour is set to debut Jan. 3, a month before "Day Break" was set to end its run. ABC News programming will fill the 10 p.m. Wednesday slot in January before "Lost" returns.

"Day Break" will either be yanked after its Dec. 27 broadcast or moved to another night. No word on what will happen with the remaining five episodes of the skein, if ABC doesn't move the show to a new night.

ABC will round out its Wednesday lineup with new episodes of "George Lopez" and "According to Jim" from 8-9 p.m. Net will double-pump "Jim" for a few weeks starting Jan. 3, with "George" bowing Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.

Lost used to be on at 8:00 pm. Then 9:00 pm. Now 10:00 pm. I understand the move, but yikes, it's going to be hard to get any sort of "Instant Review" up immediately following episodes come the spring! Stupid American Idol, stop ruining TV!

(Footnote: the phrase "stupid American Idol" does not include Kelly Clarkson, who is awesome even though she has some past affiliation with the show.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lost - Moment 3

(Posted for the sake of consistency, since I posted the first two - but I agree with you all - these things are pretty worthless...)

The good news is I've taken your suggestions and finally gotten motivated to get the "I Do" and Season Three Part One analysis up! With TV shows finally going into their winter hiatus, it should be up within the week! Better late than never.