Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorable TV Onomatopoeia. Kind of.

Okay, technically, this isn't about "buzz" or "ping-pong" or "beep" or other somewhat "legitimate" onomatopoeia words. But I was trying to think of how to describe what I'm talking about.

The point I'm making is that there are certain, very distinct sounds associated with various TV shows. Sounds, that if you heard them, not even looking at a screen or visual, you would know exactly what show was on. Not dialogue. Not theme music. Not even abbreviated musical "notes" (like the opening of Lost, for example, when the logo spins up and "at" us). Just a sound. Got it?

  1. The most obvious example is the "chung-chung" from Law and Order. Everyone knows that, right?
  2. The ticking digital clock from 24. Also from 24, the "bleep-bloop" of the phone ring in CTU. (Even if they follow my plan from a previous post about revamping 24, I hope the new organization buys their phones from the same telecom provider. I just love that damned "bleep-bloop").
  3. The "whooosh" of a wormhole forming in the stargate on Stargate SG-1.
  4. From Star Trek: TNG, the sound of the Enterprise jumping to warp. And from all the Treks, but primarily in The Original Series (where it seemed the sound mix was louder), the sound of someone using the transporter to beam up.
  5. The sound of the Tardis firing up its engine on Doctor Who.
  6. The chain-dragging, clanking sound of the "smoke monster" on Lost.
  7. The low, pulsating humm of the cylon "eye" on both versions of Battlestar Galactica's centurions. (On a side note, I'm continuing through my The Office DVD watch, just finishing Season 2, and watched some outtakes last night. In one, Michael was trying to put together a Dunder-Mifflin "mad-libs" game, and asked for a place. Dwight replied "Caprica." Priceless).
  8. The sound of a vampire being staked and going "poof" on Angel and Buffy.
  9. The sound of "bionics" when Jamie Sommers or Steve Austin would jump, bend steel or do something spectacular.
  10. The "wiffleball in a wind tunnel" sound made when Johnny experiences a vision on The Dead Zone.

Anyone want to take a crack at actually "spelling" these? Are there "words" for these things that I just don't know about? What other "signature sounds" am I forgetting?

Jack Bauer needs saving. I'm here to help.

Even the most devoted fans of 24, like myself, have to admit that Day 6 was a colossal disappointment. After all, Day 5 was almost universally acclaimed by critics, awards and fans as the "best ever." It had a solid mix of intrigue, multiple storylines, charismatic and interesting characters (besides Jack) and believable threats. But Day 6 collapsed under the weight of early promise, boring supporting characters, forgotten story threads and rehashed scenarios. Before we look at what went wrong with Day 6, and suggestions for improving Day 7, let's quickly look at some of the good from Day 6:
  • Jack Bauer/Kiefer Sutherland. There's hardly a more compelling protagonist on TV than Jack Bauer. He's heroic, extraordinarily competent, conflicted, tortured and driven, and acted superbly. The stories -- as wacky and high concept as they can be -- only work if we believe in Jack, and Jack/Kiefer gets the benefit of the doubt every time.
  • Bill Buchanan. Bill has been around a while now, and adds a gravitas to the proceedings usually being a glorified traffic cop and exposition provider. But he does it well.
  • A try at something kinda different. You've got to give the producers credit for at least trying something different. Yes, we had lots of reheated terrorist shenanigans and tired scenarios, but the producers wanted to give us, and Jack, something a little out of the ordinary to play here and they offered us "The Bauer Family Reunion." In the end, it was a jumbled debacle (despite being cast with top notch actors) but at least they tried, right? Also, once they realized the plot was flagging and the audience carping, they wrapped up the initial threat early and changed gears, albeit not that compellingly. Give the producers and writers credit: they realized the problems just as we the viewers did and responded honestly and forthrightly.
  • Action. 24 never fails to disappoint in the action category. And Jack killed more people than last year, (and beat Day 4's record of 44, too), at least according to this wonderful site. Plus, we had the "vampire bite" and "hanging Fayed by a chain" kills, and Doyle's "damn, Jack" response to the one man carnage. The shoot outs were solid, the "fake van terrorist rescue" was a nice twist, and the final explosions on the oil rig were feature film quality.
  • Tom Lennox/Peter MacNicol. MacNicol's jittery presidential aide switched positions more times than Mitt Romney, but his self preservation and continued belief in "doing the right thing" made him one of the few compelling characters recently added.
Okay, so there a few things to keep us watching. But the problems were far greater:
  • Recycled plot points. I know when you're doing a story about CTU, presidential intrigue and terrorists, there are only so many clubs in the bag. But the recycling and rehashing hit new lows this year, and it was just tough to care or be interested. We don't want to see anymore of: CTU invasions. CTU moles. Presidential pardons faxed at the last minute. Machiavellian White House power grabs. Presidential "bunkers." Assassination attempts.
  • I loved DB Woodside on Buffy. But Wayne Palmer was no "RFK" to David Palmer's "JFK." I appreciate the fact that they tried to show his fallibility and living in his brother's shadow, but the in and out of coma stuff was just too over the top and silly.
  • Wolverine-like healing power. I know 24 takes liberties with their hour to hour concept, but having folks recover from gunshot wounds and drill bits to the shoulder over the course of a couple of hours? Jesus.
  • CTU has become predictable and boring. Everything that could possibly happen there has already happened. Coups. Moles. Tech shutdown. "Holes" in the satellite coverage. Tech omnipotence one minute, tech incompetence the next.
  • Dumb escapes. How many times in 6 days has it looked like they have "the perimeter" set up, only to find the villain miraculously escape? They've even stopped giving excuses for how it happens. Enough.
  • Dropped plot points and no follow through. What the fuck happened with former President Logan? And Martha? And Agent Aaron? We get one scene (with a fruit knife, for god's sake!) and then nothing? Not even a throwaway line?
  • Dumb "love" triangles. Chloe, Milo and Morris? Doyle, Nadia and Milo? Jack, Graem and Marilyn? Lisa Miller, VP/President Daniels and "Daniel Jackson?" You're kidding, right?
  • No interesting new characters (outside of Tom Lennox). Nadia, who was hot, but utterly boring. Doyle, who was okay, but not enough to latch onto. Palmer's shrieking sister and Wallid? Ugh. Papa Bauer, with ridiculous motivations? (All he wants is the grandson he threatened to shoot a couple of hours earlier?) And don't even get me started on the world's worst guest star, Eric Balfour, as Milo. About the only time I cheered all season was when he took one to the forehead.
  • Complete misuse of Chloe. Other than Jack, Chloe is definitely the most interesting 24 character. And this year they stuck her in the torpid melodrama with Morris and Milo, and gave her virtually NO snark. Chloe with no snark is like Jack without a 9mm. And then the fucking "pregnancy" thing? Dear lord, don't they realize that kids kill shows? Hopefully, this will all be a "false alarm" for next year or something, but I don't want any fucking babies on 24.
  • Charmless and inconsistent villains. The only one who seemed to have any depth or fun was ST:DS9/Kingdom of Heaven's Alexander Siddig, and he turned out to be a good guy. And dead.

The thing is, there's an immense reservoir of goodwill built up for the character of Jack and the show as a whole. And the producers of 24 face a completely different challenge than most shows. On a typical show, if you have a bad episode or bad series of episodes or even a bad "arc," you can recalibrate and get on to the next thing later in the season. However, locked into the "one bad day" format, if 24 starts to go off the rails, then it's almost impossible to get it "righted" in the same season. Being a forgiving TV nation, we're willing to give 24 a "mulligan" on this season, and the fact that they've owned up to this season's shortcomings (just one short year after snagging Emmy gold) says a lot about the courage of the producers and their unwritten "contract" with their audience (unlike, say, Sorkin, who continued to shove the same crap down our throats -- with pseudo intellectual contempt, no less -- when it was abundantly clear audiences and critics weren't responding). They promise a different and more entertaining Day 7, and given their track record, I'm definitely going to give them, and Jack Bauer, of course, another chance to stay on my TiVo.

One fan's humble suggestions for Day 7:
  1. Move out of LA. It's hard to believe so much has happened there. The setting is tired. Go someplace else.
  2. Lose CTU as the primary "nerve center." It's played out. The dichotomy between their skill and incompetence has strained belief. We've done all we can there.
  3. Have Jack work for a new, shadowy organization. Really, after all Jack has been through, having him work for the government is too much. Why would it not be plausible to have some extraordinarily wealthy, connected right wing patriot assemble his own team to "right wrongs" and combat terrorism? You could still have all the technological spy toys, except that they would be privately funded. It would make for interesting political debate, too, with all the action taking place "outside the law" but for the "right" reasons. And give us a perfectly good excuse to introduce new, interesting characters not constrained by the politics and precedents previously set up. Plus, with somewhat limited manpower resources, we wouldn't have to suffer though all the bullshit about the "perimeter being secure" with armed forces and FBI and local police, only to have the bad guy miraculously sneak through. In addition, it would "up the ante" with regard to conflict. Not only would Bauer and company have to be facing nefarious terrorist threats, they would also have to work around the government.
  4. Bring Chloe into this new organization. But WITHOUT A CHILD. Give her her backbone and wit back. Have her still run point for Jack, and talk about "satellites" and "traces" and "sockets" and whatnot, but without worrying about a long and boring chain of command.
  5. Here's one of the biggest things for me. Inject some humor. I'm not talking about making 24 into The Office. But plenty of shows (most notably, Angel, Firefly and Lost) take dark, grim circumstances and leaven them with occasional doses of well-placed wit, fun and smart-assery. Plenty of writers on the 24 staff have shown their skill in this area.
  6. Limit the White House stuff. We've done pretty much all we can here. If things follow my lead, then there's no need for endless "bunker" or "Oval Office" discussions. Yes, you can still have some "palace intrigue" if you choose to, with the government wondering what the hell to do about Jack's effective new organization and the political fallout of it. But we wouldn't be tied intrinsically to it.
  7. Add interesting new characters and actors. If we get out of the trappings of government service, the opportunities for charming rogues and misfits expand exponentially. They could come from any variety of backgrounds and countries, and have colorful backstories. You're telling me that Eric Fucking Balfour is the best 24 can do? There are a number of charismatic actors out there with a good following (that would generate some nice blog/geek/web buzz and discussion, too) that would make excellent additions. Just off the top of my head: Nathan Fillion. Alexis Denisoff. Connor Trinneer. Carla Gugino. Christian Kane. Adam Baldwin. Caroline Dhavernas. Amy Acker. David Anders. Ben Browder. Johnathon Woodward. Jolene Blaylock. Scott Patterson. Peta Wilson. Nicole Sullivan. Michael Imperioli. Victor Garber. Steven Weber. Billie Piper. Claudia Black. Kristen Bell. They could be analysts. Former government agents. Ex military. Spies. All part of a "rogue team" of anti-terrorists, brought together because of their bitterness and disillusionment with always going through the "proper channels." Or because they go to the highest bidder. Or because of personal vengeance. Getting out of the "government proper" creates a broader sandbox in which to play. Also, this season anytime we took the story away from Jack (which was far too often) no one cared -- especially with Chloe neutered. But who wouldn't mind taking time away from Jack to watch Veronica Mars and Captain Tightpants kick a little ass?
  8. Also, don't be afraid to introduce a great character and threaten them. We all KNOW Jack isn't going to die. But if we introduce SEVERAL good, well written and well acted characters, and threaten and/or kill them, we're invested.
  9. Set up multiple "threats" in the beginning. Don't just make it about "stop the nukes." If you have a singularity of purpose, and that storyline falters or doesn't capture the imagination of the viewers, then you can't move on to others without shoehorning it in at the last moment. There's no need to keep "upping the ante" with the significance of the threat, either (we've done nukes. Where to do from there? It's not the "size" of the threat that keeps us watching). It's compelling stories, action and characters.
  10. Use "string theory" to plan most of the season. We're all familiar with the genre trope of "string theory" and the idea that there are multiple universes with multiple outcomes, each hinging on a potential action or reaction. Get a huge frakkin' whiteboard and plot out all the possible options for what could happen in the beginning. The producers admittedly went "by the seat of their pants" too much this year writing stories and plotting. Give some thought to it in the beginning, and plan for several interesting outcomes.
  11. Give us fascinating villains. If we take things out of the realm of "state vs. state," they don't have do be either boring politicians or single minded unnamed middle eastern country zealots. Hell, this could even open the door for Charles Logan to return, if he survived his sporking.

Whatcha think? Who else has ideas for breathing some life into this great show?

"I'm here to shoot a pilot"

I saw this story picked up on various newswires, and couldn't believe it. Director Mike Figgis (helmer of TNRLM of all-time favorite and Life Plan 3.2 Leaving Las Vegas) was detained by LAX security officials for over 5 hours, because he told them his reason for being in the city was "I'm here to shoot a pilot."

Surely this is misreported or some kind of urban legend. I mean, it's LA. And it's a director talking. (the first comment in the linked article is priceless -- a classic bit from Pulp Fiction). And would a "terrorist" really answer that straightforwardly to a simple "why are you here" question at a security checkpoint? Without vicious attack dogs? Without waterboarding? Without Jack Bauer using the components of a table lamp or a dry cleaning bag to get more information?

Do they assume there is no other context for that phrase? Do they expect someone to respond: "Oh, you got me. I was going to use a match to light a shoe bomb. Damn you and your harsh interrogation!" Or "I was going to assault the flight crew using a spork." Good thing LAX officials didn't question Jack Shepherd during the "flash forward" of last week's magnificent Lost. "Actually, I was praying that the plane would break into two pieces and crash on a mystical, wacky island to hopefully never be found." Or "I'm here to ensure that most of the passengers on this plane die in a fiery crash, and that the barely surviving pilot gets torn apart by a 'smoke monster.' By the way, there are plenty of tarps and water bottles on this plane, right?"

I feel much safer boarding an airplane now that I know English directors will not be nefariously threatening our skies with their new TV shows.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What the hell is an "aluminum falcon?"

I think I mentioned in a previous blog that Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network, Adult Swim) is doing a Star Wars tribute later in June. Above is a trailer. If you've never checked out the show, you should. Each ep is 15 minutes of smaller vignettes created by stop motion photography and use of action figures and other toys. You can check out other Star Wars related stuff here. Plus, here's a classic "Palpatine" scene. One of my all time Robot Chicken favorites is "Supervillain Carpool." If you have 3 spare minutes, you need to watch this one.

On a Star Wars related note, I came across this clip this weekend. I'm not sure what to say, except that I don't seem to recall Darth uttering the line "Daddy is da breadwinner - you dig what I'm saying?" Too bad there was never a James Earl Jones movie with the quote "You kissed your muthafuckin' sista, boy? Wassup wit dat?"

May the force be with you.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Making it rain: Entertainment Style

Whereby we throw up a bunch of $1 entertainment nuggets onto the stage and see which STDs take them home.

Here's a great Kevin Smith interview. Wide variety of topics covered, and definitely worth reading if you're a fan.

Some critics and fans are all aflutter about "fixing" American Idol. Personally, I didn't see that much wrong with this year. Sure, the Sanjaya thing threatened to hijack the season, but he was gone soon enough after the joke wore off. And the performances from a couple of the guest mentors were lackluster, at best. The hour results show has to go though. For those that don't have Tivo, this must have been the equivalent of waterboarding. Here's one article I read that seems to be representative of the complaints. To that, I say PLEASE FRAK NO! Idol is the ONE "reality" series I watch, simply because there doesn't seem to be very much of the "getting to know" the contestants. I don't care that Phil is a dad or in the armed forces. I don't give a shit about Lakisha not having a "baby daddy." All I want is the performance, the judging and the results. That's why I stopped investing in watching the Olympics long ago. I simply can't stand all the "packages" about everyone's background and personalities. I just want the competition. As for Idol fixes, I would shorten the results show back to 30 minutes, and give more consideration to the talent chosen for the final 12. If they wanted to replace a judge, I'd be okay with Randy hitting the bricks. He doesn't add much (other than his "credibility" at having worked with an admittedly respectable array of talent, which of course he reminds you about every 10 minutes), and his "dawg-isms" get old, quick.

I'm officially onboard with The Office. I caught the last few eps of this season, and have spent the last week devouring Season 2 on DVD. The commentaries on the discs are great, and often feature 6 or 7 people at a time (for a 22 minute show!). I don't even know why I didn't get on the bandwagon earlier, but this is a classic, right up there with Arrested Development.

Not sure why they held the House season finale until after sweeps, but it airs tomorrow night.

Good list from Premiere of the 100 greatest movie lines of all time.

Some of the folks over on TWOP are starting a Farscape "rewatch" from the beginning. If you've never seen this magnificent show, check it out. You'll thank me later.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Movie Channel of the Damned

Funny how things you put in your Outlook calendar way back when pop up when you've forgotten them and least expect them. It turns out today is a weird double anniversary of sorts. In honor of the "holiday," I think I'll break open a new bottle of whiskey and have a thematic and titular movie marathon, featuring the following flicks:

Liar, Liar
Ruthless People
From Hell
The Money Pit
Fatal Attraction
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Reefer Madness
The Man Who Knew Too Much
The Last Seduction
Requiem for a Dream
Leaving Las Vegas
In the Company of Men
The Long Kiss Goodnight
The Blair Witch Project
Children of the Corn
Used People
The Hypocrite
Rosemary's Baby
Demon Seed
Big, Bad Love
Sex, Lies and Videotape
The Lady Vanishes
Basic Instinct
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
The Bastard
Pretty Woman
Mommie Dearest
Touch of Evil
Shallow Grave
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Intolerable Cruelty
National Lampoon's Gold Diggers
Take the Money and Run
True Lies
Chasing Amy
Shotgun Wedding
Dangerous Liasons
Dead Again
Pretty Baby
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Sting
The Exorcist

Suggestions are also welcome.

From marrying Carlo to therapy with cavemen

Did anyone else realize that Oscar-nominated actress Talia Shire is the therapist in the Geico caveman commercials? Wow. I didn't know this until yesterday. Of course, being "married" to Rocky Balboa was probably good preparation.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"I'm sick of lying. We made a mistake."

Spoiler Warning: if you haven't seen Wednesday's mind-blowing season finale of Lost, then A. read no further, and B. what the fuck is wrong with you?

With that out of the way, Lost producers Cuse and Lindelof just executed not only the best season-ender of the television season (BSG is a close #2), but quite possibly, one of the best of all time. Everything was there. Almost all our Lostaways had a moment, some more than others (or Others). We got drama, we got laughs, we got tension, we got emotional release, and as is the case with any good episode of Lost, we got some answers but yet more questions.

I know some fans have a low tolerance for Jack and his tortured leadership. I've never been that down on Jack's story (tattoo ep aside) and nobody on the cast does bottled up angst better than Matthew Fox. And this storyline certainly gave him a broad canvas on which to paint. Before we get to the questions, let's look at what was delivered:

A "flash forward" in time, unique (as far as we know) to the show, that indicates that at least Kate and Jack got off the island. My non-spoiler policy played out in spades as this came as a total, mind-blowing "what the fuck" surprise when Kate stepped out of the car. Sure there were a few hints along the way that this wasn't your typical flash back, most notably Jack's use of a Motorola KRZR cellphone, which wasn't released until October 2006. Also, the funeral parlor where Jack was the sole visitor to a mysterious decedent, was called "Hoffs/Drawlar" -- an anagram of "flash forward." (also, if you want to get even wackier about it, "funeral parlor" could be an anagram of "plan for real").

Sayid getting all Jack Bauer on an Other, breaking his freakin' neck with his legs while still tied up. If Saddam and the Republican Guard ever did one decent thing, then it could be considered giving us Sayid.

Hurley wanting to contribute, and finally saving the day with the VW Microbus of Death barreling through the jungle and taking out one of the beach gunmen.

Sawyer continuing to feel the impact of his actions on the pirate ship with his namesake, offering up a dish best served cold, and gunning down Tom as payback for kidnapping Walt. Even though Tom had surrendered, Saywer breaks off "I didn't believe him."

Though the love "quadrangle" can annoy at times, there were some curious moments. Jack kisses Juliet goodbye, then later admits to Kate that he loves her. Sawyer, still troubled by killing Anthony Cooper, pushes Kate further away and even calls her by her name (no "freckles?"). Which lead to Sawyer and Juliet heading back to the beach alone, and giving us this priceless exchange: "So, you screwin' Jack yet?" Juliet answering Sawyer back with "No... are you?"

Rousseau and Alex finally recognizing the familial bond between them. And her first words to her daughter? "Would you help me tie him up?"

Desmond's prophecy regarding Charlie finally paying off, and Charlie getting a great send off and goodbye. Figuring out the "Good Vibrations" key code, laughing in the face of death with the two gun-toting babes in the underwater station, sacrificing himself to save Des (and presumably the rest of the 815ers) and even letting Des know that Naomi may not be all she claimed, using his sharpie to write "not Penny's boat" on his hand. The little hobbit went out in touching fashion; Desmond's view of his demise echoing the title of the episode "Through the Looking Glass."

Mikhail being the freaking Terminator yet again, getting up from a speargun to the chest wound to uncork a grenade just outside the window. Surely this killed him. I think. Glad the "cold war" is over, as the Soviet army obviously had some serious survival training.

Ben's exchange, wryly delivered (as always) by Michael Emerson, with Alex about her boyfriend Karl, who alerted the 815ers to the Others' early attack:
ALEX: "You put Karl in a cage! You tried to brainwash him!"
BEN: "I didn't want you to get pregnant! ... I guess I overreacted."

Walt's return! Locke gets out of the mass grave and finds his way to the radio station, and knifes Naomi in the back. A quick nitpick about this: Walt's return would have had far more impact if I hadn't seen the actor's name in the opening credits. This happens frequently on TV (two exceptions I can think of off the top of my head: Darla's return in the cage in a season ender of Angel, and Lindsay's return in bed with Eve on the same show). Can't the actors or the union make an agreement with the producers to NOT show "surprise" characters during the opening credits? Have a "special guest appearance" title at the END of the ep, at least for the first run airings?

All of Ben's manipulations, and his urging to Jack that the Others aren't quite as bad as they seem. Plus, Jack's vicious and long time coming beat down of Ben. Was Ben telling the truth?

Penelope still looking for Des, and appearing as the first signal received to the island seen by Charlie.

Other cool things:

The press clipping for the person who died, getting Jack visibly upset and pushing him over the edge toward suicide, appeared to show a name beginning with a J and having "ntham" in the last name. Could this be "Jeremy Bentham?" Another philosopher, who was influenced by, among others, John Locke and David Hume.

There are 16 numbers on the key pad in the Looking Glass.

Kate's "future" cellphone number ends in 48.

The song Jack was listening to in the car, before he decides to off himself, was Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" from the "In Utero" album. A nod to the mysterious and complicated pregnancies on the island, perhaps?

Maybe it was just watching the Beatles homage on Idol, but "A Day in the Life" references "I read the news today" and "blew his mind out in a car." Sound like Jack?

The person who Jack reached on Naomi's phone was named "Minkowski." Not an ordinary name, chosen at random. Could it be Hermann Minkowski? Who developed theories about time and space? Or, there are other (many related) Minkowskis in the fields of astronomy, psychiatry and medicine. Google it and enjoy.

Another car wreck (the one that caused Jack to not jump off the bridge, and save the victim). There have been several for our Losties, including: the one with Kate and the guy who turned her in (she saved him, and got caught); Kate was also with her childhood sweetheart in a wreck, which killed him; Shannon's dad and Jack's future (past) wife Sarah were in a car wreck that hurt her spine; Kate escapes from the Marshall after they have a car wreck; Claire and her mom were in a car wreck; and Anthony Cooper referenced being in a car wreck in Tallahassee before "waking up" on the island.

Jack is told in the "flash forward" that a Dr. Nadler will be performing the surgery on the woman he saved from the car wreck on the bridge. "Nadler" is also Bernard's last name.

Then, of course, we have the questions.

Who else gets off the island in the future? And was it a rescue from Minkowski, or much later?

What truth is in what Ben says?

Whose funeral did Jack go to? He says it's neither "friend" nor "family." Ben? Someone else? Could it be this "Bentham?" And was it just the film angles, or did the coffin look small? And why was the funeral in such a bad part of town?

''I'm sick of lying. We made a mistake!'' What is Jack lying about? What is the mistake? We're lead to believe getting off the island is the mistake in question, but is there something else?

Kate: ''He's going to be wondering where I am.'' Who is he? Sawyer?

Why did Jack reference his dad twice in the flash forward? (once about "get him down here and we'll see who is drunker" and another when his dad was on the forged RX). Is Jack's dad alive somehow in the future? Or is Jack just strung out and drunk?

Why isn't Kate arrested in the future? Or why doesn't she appear concerned about being arrested?

What did Ben know about Naomi, other than she's not who she appeared to be and that her people were "bad?"

If Naomi wasn't working for or known to Penny, then how did Naomi get the picture of Des and Penny? (And exactly how many copies of this thing are there? I thought there was, or should be, only one, that Desmond keeps with him).

Why did the first transmission received to the Looking Glass come from Penny?

Who else did Jack call in the future? After all, it appeared he reached Kate (or left messages for her) and she responded. But one of the calls he made in the car came back with a recording about a disconnected number?

Does Sarah being pregnant have anything to do with the story, or was it simply a case of actress Julie Bowen expecting?

Was it really Walt who appeared to Locke? Or a vision? Or the "smoke monster?"

Why were the Looking Glass babes supposed to be "in Canada?"

Did Charlie "have to" die in his situation? I found some references to the "moon pool" on the Looking Glass, and it appears they maintain their stability via air pressure. If Charlie had not closed the door to the communications room from the inside once Mikhail broke the glass, the whole station would have flooded and Des most surely would have perished also. Did Charlie know this? Or did he simply think, according to Desmond's vision, that he HAD to die in order for the 815ers to get rescued?

Why did Ben lie to his people about the jamming device, and the Looking Glass being "flooded?"

When Jack is on the bridge, who is he asking forgiveness from? And for what?

Did the outside world really know anything about 815, as Naomi claimed? If so, why didn't anyone mention this to Jack? Obviously, Oceanic knows something about the crash, as he has "earned" a Golden Pass to fly free.

Why didn't Kate want Jack to contact her?

Hell, those are just the ones off the top of my head. Those are "legitimate" questions, that make you ponder the mythology and events of the show, as opposed to the questions arising from the Heroes finale, which make you question the internal logic of the show and strain credulity.

We'll have to wait until February of 2008 to find out more, unfortunately, but THAT is how you rock a season finale.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"You look badass."

Note: I was told by some pals last week that sometimes I post plot details about a show that's already aired, but hasn't yet been viewed off the Tivo, thereby resulting in the "Post-Air-Spoiler." Ironically enough, the example mentioned was in a post I did about my decision to NOT read advance spoilers! (I think I gave away that "Future President Petrelli" was in fact Sylar on Heroes. Ooops.) We made a "gentleman's agreement" over several pitchers of margaritas that one week was the appropriate amount of time to post without a warning at the top. So, I'm about to discuss last Monday's season finale of Heroes -- read at your own peril. And BTW, my decision to go spoiler-free was one of the best I've ever made. It was like kicking crack (or so I've heard), but GREATLY enhanced my enjoyment of the greatest mind-fuck in recent memory, Lost's kickass season ender. More on that later this weekend.

I've been a fan of Heroes all year. Generally, you cut first year shows more slack than you do established shows as they try to sort out their characterizations, storytelling conceits, pacing and tone. Some shows come right of the box perfect (BSG, Dexter, Firefly, Gilmores, Veronica) and others struggle to find the right balance (Buffy, TNG, Eureka, Big Love). Heroes was somewhere in the middle. There was many, many entertaining episodes, and two that were just about perfect ("Company Man" and "String Theory"). But they also had some that missed the mark, and I was pretty disappointed by the season finale, "How to Stop an Exploding Man." Especially when you compare it to Wednesday's Lost finale, "Through the Looking Glass." There's a great post over on about the difference between the two. (Note: don't read that until you've seen the season enders for both series). I'm not as down on Heroes as that writer, but it should be noted that I while I enjoy Heroes, I don't put it in the same "class" as Lost (or BSG, for that matter). Where Heroes is a burger, Lost is steak. Where Heroes is a light beer, Lost is a fine wine. Not that I don't enjoy my burgers and beer, but you just have to recognize it for what it is.

There were a few things to enjoy about "Exploding Man." "Pound for pound," Hayden Panetierre is right there with Kristen Bell as one of the best actresses on TV. Some (though not nearly enough) plotlines were resolved. Jack Coleman brings fantastic depth and pathos to the role of HRG (Noah!). Greg Grunberg delivers wonderfully droll line readings. I normally hate kids, especially on TV, but Molly was interesting and compelling in small doses. Claire jumping out the window. And of course, there's the line from the title of this post: "You look badass." "Really?"

But there were a larger number of nitpicks.

The showdown we've been waiting for all year: Peter vs. Sylar. An epic throwdown between two characters with a VAST ARRAY of powers. Strength. TK. Mind reading. Invisibility. Teleportation. Time travel and control (yes, Peter had to have this from Hiro). Super strength. Radioactivity. Flight. Super Hearing. Brain slicing. So what do we get in this colossal fight? A couple of punches and one stick with a sword. That's it. LAME. So many questions. Why didn't Sylar TK everything in sight at Peter, like the Emperor in the Star Wars movies? Why didn't Peter know what was coming from Sylar, given that he had absorbed Matt's power of mind reading? Why didn't Peter stop time to dispatch Sylar? Why didn't Hiro, for that matter? Why didn't Sylar know Niki and/or Hiro was coming, given his super hearing? Why didn't Peter go invisible and beat the shit out of Sylar from directions he wouldn't see? Why didn't Peter pick up Sylar, fly high above the city and drop his ass on the pavement, or fly him full speed into a building? Why did Hiro learn to be a master swordsman (all in two hours, mind you) when all he did was one, highly telegraphed thrust (that he didn't even stop time for)? Why didn't they chop Sylar's head off after he was felled? The fight was just so anti-climactic that I wanted to throw things at my TV. Horrible payoff for something that's been building for months.

How to actually stop the exploding man. Okay, I get the emotional aspect of having Nathan fly Peter up, up and away. But the narrative and dramatic impact should be rooted in some kind of internal show logic. Since Hiro has apparently gained greater control of his powers, why not have him grab Peter, and teleport him someplace else to explode, where there will be no loss of life or no one will care, like the middle of the desert or Columbus, Georgia? Why not time travel him back to one gazillion BC to explode? Why not use the damned sword to stab him in in the back of the head and "kill him" (a la Peter and the shard of glass earlier, or Claire and the stick), only to "revive" him after they've developed a more cohesive plan to deal with the radioactive power? And why didn't Peter just fly on his own? Unless, of course, during this moment of radioactive overheating, he could only manifest one power at a time (which wasn't set up previously). If HRG is as smart as we've seen all season, why wouldn't he think of these things? Having characters' IQs and powers fluctuate to serve the drama of the script is just bad storytelling.

So the visions Isaac and Peter had all along were wrong. Every time we saw Peter explode, it was during the day. This was at night. Bad continuity, or poorly explained "rules" of the visions?

I liked Hiro plummeting into another time, back in the samurai days (and was that his dad behind one of those masks?). But you couldn't spring for a few more riders, or at least some CGI troops to give it an "epic" feel, rather than just looking like 10 guys out on the weekend doing a civil war reenactment?

What the fuck was with Peter's visit to the "past" and "meeting" with Shaft (Mr. Deveaux)? And the "inner strength" and "peace and love" dialogue there was laughable.

If Candace really doesn't look like the hot catholic schoolgirl (as she's suggested several times), then why did she look that way once she was knocked out and the rest of her "illusions" fell?

Look, I like thought provoking questions as much as the next guy (see: season finales of Lost or BSG). But when the questions don't hold up under the logic you've established for 20+ episodes, then the whole thing crumbles under the scrutiny. I think part of the problem was that as cool as it was to have both Peter and Sylar gain more and more powers each episode, they became TOO powerful at the end. And if you know as showrunners and writers that you're building to this climax, then you simply MUST think through how those powers are going to manifest themselves in the epic confrontation you've been teasing ALL SEASON LONG.

Heroes was fun, entertaining and contained many moments of pure pop culture exhilaration. But this was a very disappointing payoff to an uneven season. It will stay on the season pass list, and I'm looking forward to the next chapters, but this gets a solid C in my book. Hopefully, now that the producers know they have a hit on their hands, they'll put a little more thought into where it goes from here and how the details pay off in the long run.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Busy this week, but I'll share some abbreviated thoughts as the days pass.

American Idol
No long recap here. Jordin wins.
She did Xtina's "Fighter" well enough, went back to the well with "Broken Wing" and sang the hell out the sappy "coronation" song.
Blake reprised his showstopping Bon Jovi tune, but it lacked suspense the second time around (but was still surprisingly entertaining). Then he did the Maroon 5 song I was so thankful he ignored last week (lame) and had no chance on the sappy coronation song -- it just wasn't designed for him. Question: why didn't they let him completely re-arrange it? Put down an uptempo synth beat and do something different? The producers, judges and everyone knows that head to head on pablum like that, Jordin will mop the floor with Blake 100 times out of 100. It might have been a huge trainwreck (and a slap in the face to the songwriters who won the contest -- but no more than the slap in the face this song in its utter insipid sameness did to viewers) but at least it would have been different and daring.
Daughtry rocked, but needs to lay off the eyeliner.

Veronica Mars
Two solid eps for the swan song, filled with snark, great performances and not a lot of closure. Even this year, where the storytelling and quality was more hit and miss than the first two seasons, Veronica remained one of the best shows on TV and it's a downright pitiful shame that it was cast aside for whoring sea donkeys.

I can't even convey how excited I am for the finale tonight, the first Lost finale I've approached spoiler free.

Finally, it's over. Despite Kiefer's heroic efforts and fantastic performance, this was the worst season of 24 ever. In the next week or so, I'll post a list of problems with this year and potential "fixes."

Again, more coming later when I'm not swamped, but the finale was a huge letdown in terms of squandered comic book potential.

NBA Lottery
Only the Hawks could screw the pooch like this. They had to get in the top 3 to keep their pick and not give it to Phoenix. And this is a draft with TWO transcendent, franchise-making talents. So where do they wind up? Third. Par for the fucking course.

CSI Finale
Loved the insight into the Miniature Killer, and the creepy performance from the actress who portrayed her. I can't stand Jorja Fox nor her character Sara Sidle, so I hope she stays trapped and dead beneath a car while she tries once again unsuccessfully (and undeservedly) to renegotiate her contract.

The Office
I just started watching the last few weeks of this season. I can't believe I missed this the first go 'round, but this show is incredible (if a wee bit uncomfortable). Catching up on DVDs now.

New TV Season
I'll have my usual "new show picks" later this summer in a full season preview, but the leaders in the clubhouse now appear to be Reaper, Pushing Daisies and Bionic Woman. For those who read my old myspace blog, my picks for this year were Dexter, Shark, Heroes, Studio 60, Smith and The Nine. Guess I hit .500 in terms of them sticking around. Of those remaining, Heroes is great pulp entertainment with occasionally stellar acting and vision, Shark is scenery-chewing entertainment and a decent way to pass an hour, and Dexter approaches Battlestar Galactica for the title of Best Show on TV.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More embarrassing to Georgia than the Hawks

Another on-point, brilliant evisceration from TNRLM's go-to pundit, Christopher Hitchens, can be found here.

As long as they don't bring back Nora Lewin

Apparently, big changes are afoot for Law and Order: Mothership. While "on the bubble" for NBC, TNT stepped up to the plate and made an offer to pony up serious cash to air first run Law and Order originals. In the end, NBC/Universal struck a deal which allows the mothership to continue on NBC (moving to Sundays, I think), and first runs of Law and Order: Criminal Intent to air on corporate cousin USA, with re-airs on NBC. Law and Orders (all three of 'em) are like "comfort food" to me, so I'm happy to see them all continue in some various form.

The mothership will see some serious change, though:
  • Rene Balcer, who worked on the original before heading off to create CI, will return to the mothership as showrunner.
  • Fred Dalton Thompson may step down as DA Arthur Branch, in order to contemplate a real-life presidential bid. Or, simply to cuts costs. Either way, it appears that Jack McCoy will no longer be the world's oldest Assistant DA, and will step up as DA. Since Jack doesn't have a taste for politics, I imagine the plot will see him "appointed" to the job in the wake of Branch's departure.
  • Rumors abound about other cast changes, with no one save Lt. Van Buren safe.

If it was up to me, here's what I'd do:
  • McCoy moves to DA.
  • Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) returns to fill Jack's role as Senior ADA.
  • Rubirosa (my favorite ADA since Angie Harmon's Abby "Hang 'em High" Carmichael) stays as Cabot's #1.
  • Ed Green stays as lead detective.
  • As much as I like Milena Govich, I've never quite forgiven her for playing the manipulative skank on Rescue Me who bilked Kenny out of his money and broke his heart (hits too close to home, apparently). And I don't think she ever really caught on with viewers as Nina Cassidy. So why not bring over John Munch from SVU? They're adding Adam Beach to the SVU cast, and Munch had less and less to do even before that move. That would keep a nice XX and XY balance to the cast, though the police side would be all boys and the legal side all girls.

Also, it's supremely annoying that Blogger won't take "ampersand" characters, especially when you're writing about Law and Order.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


On Wednesday's season finale of Bones, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top was (obviously) reprising his role as Angela's dad. Also, the mom of the victim was Roxanne Hart, who I remember many moons ago as the love interest in the first Highlander movie.

24's Karen Hayes (Jayne Atkinson) was the FBI boss on the season finale of Criminal Minds.

I mentioned it previously in my Lost post, but Tracy Middendorf was one of the mysterious inhabitants of the Looking Glass.

Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter from the dear, departed Deadwood) reprised his role as Miniature Killer (foster) dad Ernie Dell on Thursday's CSI: Original Recipe finale. The MK's "real" dad, a fucked up Vegas ventriloquist, was played by Jay Johnson. Sitcom savants know Johnson as "both" Chuck and Bob from the seminal sitcom SOAP.

Sorkin good luck charm Josh Malina unexpectedly showed up on Friday's fun Stargate SG-1 as the only one of the "hostages" to believe in aliens.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Questions and Rabbits

Yet another great Lost last night. And oddly unsettling, too. The usual pattern is that when you get a flashback, and your character is rumored to be dying (long time rumors -- I'm still spoiler free!), you'll kick the bucket in that ep. Not to mention when you have a drunken, possibly time traveling, maybe prescient Scotsman following you around constantly tell you that you are indeed going to soon take the dirt nap. But our little hobbit made it through the episode unexpectedly, although his situation at the end didn't appear too enviable.

We were completely Locke-free and Sawyer-lite (usually, two harbingers of an ep I won't enjoy as much) but it was a fast moving and melancholy visit to the island. I won't do a full recap/review, but the bottom line: 815ers anticipate an attack from the Others, Jack's an ass and "back in charge, Juliet is still enigmatically hot and quirkily funny, Rose and Bernard still exist and he's a good shot, Sayid as always is a badass, Desmond has visions, Charlie thinks he's gonna die, Naomi's phone might work if Charlie flips a jamming device off in the newly discovered underground bunker called "The Looking Glass" but will probably drown doing it, Ben's possible daughter Alex doesn't really like him, her boyfriend Karl runs/paddles to warn the 815ers about the Others arriving early, and now we know why Rousseau was getting dynamite.

Wow. That's a long bottom line.

Questions and comments:

  • The chick Charlie saved from being mugged? Nadia, Sayid's long lost love.
  • Charlie made a list of the 5 best moments of his life ("greatest hits") to give to Claire. I grabbed a post-it and started to do that myself, but couldn't fill up the space.
  • I'm no expert in childcare (my only real exposure to parenting indicated that you should get drunk and ignore them and then ship 'em off to live with criminals while you fucked half the county) but it seems that leaving a small, metal ring with sharp edges in a crib is not a good idea.
  • So what was up with Charlie being a good swimmer all of sudden? In the ep "White Rabbit" (ironic, that) he said he couldn't swim -- even to save Boone. Now, he's a "junior swim champ?" So, what was it? He didn't really care for Boone? Didn't want to stick his neck out for anyone, until Claire made him realize some things were worth sacrifice? Was he lying then? Bad continuity from the writers?
  • The sticker on Charlie's guitar case in the flashback (presumably just around the time he saw Desmond) was "I was here moments ago."
  • Juliet's droll snark after Karl "outed" her as an Other was priceless.
  • Was Ben lying to Juliet about the Looking Glass being flooded? Does he know for sure?
  • Who are the gun toting babes in the Looking Glass? Original Dharma? Others? Something else entirely?
  • What's the rabbit in the logo for the station?
  • It appears someone had a good dad. How many people were expecting Charlie's dad to be a typical "island dad" and let Charlie almost drown in the pool?
  • A Whodat: Tracy Middendorf played one of the gun toting babes. I recently spotted her on Shark, and remember her from the pilot of Angel. Even wackier? She was also on House as a divorced mom with a sick kid. Know who played her ex-husband on House? Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell), the apparently never aging Richard Alpert on Lost. Cool.
  • Speaking of rabbits, was Alex butchering a rabbit? Was that a sly dig at her presumed dad, who we saw last week, was fond of the hippity hops?
  • How could having a groupie three way not make Charlie's "greatest hits?"
  • And who else read something dirty into the fact that Rose told Bernard "let's get you into something dark?" Just me?

Spoiler free, and waiting to have my mind completely fucked next week in the two hour season finale.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'll leave when I'm good and ready

A strange confluence of events last night resulted in two sly mentions of the "c-word" on TV.

First, there was the inspired fan in the outfield of the Nationals/Braves game. For more details, check out this post at Deadspin. Clever of him to start with the latter part of the word, making folks think he was going for the nice gesture of a "VT" for Virginia Tech.

Then, on House, after being pestered yet again about their "relationship" by Chase, Cameron told Chase "see you next Tuesday." This, of course, is meta on so many levels. First, in the plot of the show, Chase has been bringing up his longing for their former nookie sessions (and his "feelings for her") once a week, on Tuesdays. Second, the show actually airs on Tuesday. And finally, well, there's the "coded" meaning.

Which made me laugh and go find this beauty, which is perfectly applicable:

Hasta La Vista, Moron

Yesterday, bigot, blowhard and intellectual dwarf Jerry Fallwell passed away. Slate magazine assembled a quick list of some of his more idiotic, offensive and nonsensical statements in one handy article. Of course, to list every contemptuous, ill-advised and profoundly stupid thing he's ever said might take up all the memory on the internet. Buh-bye, asshat.

The show where The Big Unit loves Whitney Houston

Okay, not technically. But when the governor of Tennessee read a fax from Randy Jackson, he mistakenly said it was from Randy Johnson, and that amused me to no end. I can just imagine the ornery, 6' 10", rodent-looking white dude pitcher sitting on the judges panel every week. He was famously surly with the NY media during his time with the Yankees, so it's entirely possible that he would have used his prodigious wingspan to backhand Paula into last November the next time she wandered off onto one of her "puppies and unicorns and rainbows" tangents. Plus, hearing The Big Unit throw down some "yo, dawg, check it out" would be the height of absurdity.

Okay, on with the show. Where was Clive Davis? Instead of the legendary record exec, we get choices from the "producers." Not that I'm complaining, as Clive's choices are often less than awe inspiring, and I think this time around, they made sound decisions. But first up, we have Judges choice.

Round 1: Judges
Jordin starts us off with Simon's pick, "Wishing on a Star" from Rose Royce. I'm not that familiar with this song, though I do have an unnatural love for her song "Car Wash." And after her performance and later ones, Jordin shows some uncharacteristic "petulance" with the judges, and I wonder if that will hurt her? As for the song, she performs it well, though she does have a tendency to get a wee bit "breathy." I agree with Simon (of course) that the arrangement is too jazzy and not R&B enough. But a very good start to the evening.

Paula picks The Police classic "Roxanne" for Blake. Paula is often very astute in her choices and is here again. This is great for Blake on so many levels. First, everyone knows this song, and saves Blake from venturing into the "I'm so hip and I love obscure songs the audience never listens to" territory. It's also difficult to "twist up" or "beatbox" this song, which at this point, I think Blake needs. Finally, it gives him a chance to sing and showcase his voice without any tics or tricks. Blake delivers a wonderful performance.

Randy chooses Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me" for Melinda, in the aforementioned fax. Even in a fax, Randy has to lay down some "check it out" and shamelessly plug his work with the Bobby Brown's ex-wife. Not a fan of these soaring, insipid, sound alike ballads, but except for a mildly flat falsetto note, Melinda delivers perfectly.

This "round" is close. Jordin has been my favorite for most of the show thus far, I enjoy Blake's performance the most, and Melinda performs a more difficult choice with the greatest degree of proficiency. Close to a tie, with perhaps a slight edge to Mindy Doo.

Round 2: Producers
While Clive Davis is kept alive in a secret underground bunker full of copper tubes, bunsen burners, erlenmeyer flasks of brightly colored liquids and various ascots, the "producers" choose for the Idols.

Jordin gets Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money." (note: before she performed, she was asked about her "favorite song." She said it was Hanson's "Mmm-Bop." Don't know if I'd told that, as the saying goes. Of course, when I was stuck on a plane for 6 hours last Friday, the only viable entertainment choices were a repeat of 30 Rock, which was excellent but only shown once, and the various music channels. The only one worth listening to was an 80s channel, which suited me fine. However, that Hanson song was among the selections and I heard it probably 15 times. Strangely, I began to appreciate the pure pop confection of that little ditty. Or maybe it was the abundance of mini-bottles of Crown). Once again, Jordin delivers a solid version of this tune, but I'm wondering if something is "off" with her tonight. (Could it be having a 17 year old sing about being a hooker? Of course, I know someone who would have fit that song just fine, but she's too old for the competition in terms of both age and "mileage.") It also makes me realize just how spectacular Donna Summer, long one of my favorites, is. Jordin hits all the notes and is fine.

Blake gets Maroon 5's "This Love." This is so much better than "She Will be Loved" as a choice, and Maroon 5 fits his voice wonderfully. He even adds a bit of the dreaded beatboxing in the middle, but it's small, and I don't mind. Really pleasing pop performance.

Then the producers reach into the heavens and give Melinda a gift: Ike and Tina Turner's awesome "Nutbush City Limits." When I hear the announcement of the song choice, my notes read "OMFG!!! Nutbush!!!" Yeah, I'm excited about this. Needless to say, Melinda rocks this bitch out. A great choice, a great performance and I really like the sassy, scowling and prowling Melinda.

Round 2 is another installment of upping the ante, but Melinda delivers the goods and takes this one. On the cards thus far, I have Melinda ahead, with Blake a c-hair ahead of Jordin.

Round 3: Performers' Choice
I don't recall previous Idols going back to the well for a song they've already done here. I thought that was reserved for next week. But Jordin chooses the song that made her a front runner, "I Who Have Nothing." If possible, she does an even better job here than she did previously. I get chillbumps hearing this song, and she knocks it out of the park. A real showstopping moment, flawlessly delivered.

When I hear Blake's choice, Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone," my heart sinks. It's obscure, not widely known, and Thicke certainly didn't do himself any favors with a lackluster performance on the show a couple of weeks ago. Did Blake learn nothing about picking out of the mainstream tunes last week? Then the music kicks in, and it's obviously a sample of the disco favorite "Fifth of Beethoven." Uh-oh, I might like this. And even though I don't know the song, Blake puts down a fantastic performance. It's almost kinda awesome. Wow. Surprising.

Melinda does "I'm a Woman." This is also a reach-back to a previous tune, although I didn't realize that until later, since I only start watching at the Top 12. She has sass, attitude and gives some props to the background singers, a nice nod to her career up to this point. She stumbles over some of the early riffing, but still imbues it with big notes and fun.

Round 3 is interesting. How much will Jordin and Melinda be penalized for grabbing previous songs and not taking on something new? How much will Blake be penalized for choosing something the vast majority of viewers haven't heard, despite the awesome Walter Murphy backing? I score this one for Blake solidly with Jordin close behind and Melinda 3rd.

That makes the overall night very, very interesting. Based on tonight alone, cumulatively over the hours I would score it 1. Blake, 2. Melinda, 3. Jordin, with not much separating them. And I know this season has gotten a lot of criticism, but personally, I think the top three is the best ever. Think about it. S1 had that whore Nikki McKibbin. S2 was close to this one, with Kimberly Locke as the 3rd runner up. S3 had Jasmine Trias 3rd, not too mention Diana Degarmo as 2nd runner up (the worst season, I think). s4 was great with Carrie and Bo, but had Vonzell in 3rd. Last year was solid, with Elliot Yamin in the 3rd spot, but Chris Daughtry should have at least been there, if not won the damned thing. All 9 performances Tuesday were very, very good, with a few that were transcendent.

TNRLM's Rankings
Okay, I'm going to do something a bit different here.

  • As I said before, if it's solely based on Tuesday performances, I would put Blake and Melinda into the finals, with Jordin going home.
  • If I had to rank them according to who has the greatest "technical proficiency," I would put them 1. Melinda, 2. Jordin and 3. Blake.
  • If I had to rank them according to who might sell the most records, I would put them 1. Jordin, Blake, 3. Melinda.
  • If I had to rank them according to what I think their individual fan bases are, I would say 1. Blake, 2. Jordin, 3. Melinda.

Wow. Hard to choose here, and tonight will be interesting no matter which way it goes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I guess he had it coming for killing James T. Kirk

So Linderman is dead? "Phase punched" to the head by DL, who scrambled Linderman's brains? Wow. Didn't see that one coming. And another bad turn for guest stars, as Eric Roberts' Thompson gets two in the brain from HRG, who I'm happy see is trending back towards his "grey area" morality. Not only plugging Thompson, with the classic one liner "your last thought," but also knowing all along that the tracking system was a cute wittle girl that he had to off as well.

Another great thrill ride from Heroes last night, full of fantastic moments:
  • Pretty much anything Sylar did. Getting Magneto on the armored truck. Turning Geico caveman Ted into upside down brain cake. Lurking around a corner eating ice cream. "Boom" at the end.
  • Sulu rocking the ninja swordplay!
  • Parkman mindreading his way past security.
  • One of the very few times I liked the skank Niki/Jessica: "didn't I throw you out a window?"
  • An ancient samurai sword repair shop. In the yellow pages.

Not much to complain about, other than the fact that the normally gorgeous Rena Sofer is about the ugliest "cry-er" I've ever seen. (as evidenced both here and on 24).

  • So Molly was the girl Parkman saved from Sylar? Holy shit, I had forgotten that. I was perplexed about how she knew him, but found out, thanks to the interwebs.
  • Does Sulu have some power of "super teaching?" Or did Hiro freeze or accelerate time? Otherwise, how did all the swordplay lessons get imparted so quickly?
  • So how fucked up is Candace in real life? It was hinted that her hot chick in plaid miniskirt look is also an illusion. Just overweight (implied by her eating comments) or acid in the face screwed up?

Monday, May 14, 2007

TV's Best Cliffhangers

AOL TV recently posted a listing of TV's best cliffhangers. Some I agree with, some I don't. As I stated in a previous post, while I realize the "nation gripped in a frenzy" impact of "Who Shot JR?," being a complete geek, number one in my book (and 3 in theirs, I think) was the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Best of Both Worlds" (part 1).

Most of their choices are from more recent times as older shows didn't trend toward serialized stories, but I'm glad they did reach back to one of the great, underrated sitcoms of all time, SOAP. Incredibly daring for its time, especially for a sitcom.

Also, I was shocked as hell about Boomer shooting Adama, but personally I was mind-frakked much more over the "one year later" ending of "Lay Down Your Burdens." And this year's BSG season ender was similarly, and spectacularly, crafted.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


On Thursday's CSI: Original Recipe, the delicious Melinda Clarke returned as Lady Heather. Also present, JR Bourne (Martouf from Stargate SG-1) as onetime Heather paramour, and Joe Penny (Jake and the Fatman) as the old west park owner with a strange fascination with roughing up and killing chicks.

Laura Harris
showed up on Friday's Stargate Atlantis as the leader of one of the "game's" real life leaders. I remember her as bad-sister Marie Warner on 24. And I always confuse her with Laura Allen, who was on Criminal Minds a couple of weeks ago as one of the humans hunted in the woods by a couple of redneck brothers. She was the annoying Lily on The 4400, and the super-annoying Julia on Dirt. Anyone else always mix these two up?

On Tuesday's "ripped from the headlines" Law and Order: CI, David Cross (analrapist Tobias Funke) was the "almost lawyer" and "maybe husband" of the faux Anna Nicole Smith "starlet" played by movie Buffy, Kristy Swanson.

Speaking of Buffy, there's a good podcast interview with Joss Whedon about the Season 8 comics here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'm expecting locusts any second now.

Wow. What a shitty couple of days. Discover Thursday afternoon that my car has a flat. Have to drive it hobbled to the NTB for a new one. Find that the annual spring ritual of tiny ants making their way into the laundry room to dine on the kids' food has started again this year. Great. My 1 hour and 20 minute flight back to Atlanta last night winds up taking 6 hours, when we're late taking off, encounter "weather" in Atlanta, go into holding pattern, but run out of gas, land in Greenville to refuel (on the tarmac), but then wait 1 hour to get "our paperwork" and fly back to Atlanta. And of course, the return trip home is where I got stuck with a fucking window seat sitting beside someone very large. At least I had time to work 20 TV Guide crossword puzzles. And finally, come home at 2 AM last night to find that the AC on the main floor has stopped working.

I feel like a MasterCard Commercial:

New left rear tire? $175.
Pest control visit? $150.
AC service call? $180.
Six hours smashed up against a little window so I can see the spot on the ground where the flying cylindrical tube of death with wings will imminently crash, not able to find the left armrest under the sweaty tidal wave of flesh from Jabba the Hutt and her bottomless bag of Cheeto's? Priceless.

Still, there were interesting moments sandwiched in there yesterday. Plus, it's cocktail hour now. Hoo-Fucking-Ha.

What's my desktop?

Apropos of nothing, I thought I'd share what my PC desktop looks like. Here's the one that I've had for the past couple of years, and which really never goes out of style (especially since there's something to add past 1982):

And here's the one I've been using lately, taken from the cover of the Buffy Season 8 comics (and if you're a Buffy fan and missing out on these, shame on you).

HRG In Da House

If you don't know who "HRG" is, then turn in your nerd card and move along. However, if you realize that "HRG" is "Horn Rimmed Glasses," the marvelously complex villain (or is it hero?) on Heroes, then proceed.

HRG is played by Jack Coleman, who first came to TV viewers attention as the second Steven Carrington on Dynasty, one of TV's first openly gay characters. (And amusing how Dynasty took the tactic of old school soap operas -- "the character of Steven Carrington is now being played by..."). Jack bopped around H'wood for a while, doing guest shots and movies before finding the role of a lifetime on Heroes, which he simply knocks out of the park every single Monday.

I love it when actors from shows you adore in interviews and commentaries come across as real people -- funny, self-deprecating and actually grateful for the work they get, rather than arrogant prima donnas that actually turn you off from the show. (Examples of people who "get it" and you could see yourself having a beer with include Nathan Fillion, Ben Browder, Jason Bateman or Amanda Tapping. Just seek out a few of their interviews or listen to their DVD commentaries).

TWOPers have probably already listened to this, but if you haven't and you're a fan of Heroes, check out the podcast interviews with Coleman here:

Part One
Part Two

Also, there's a nifty feature at where you can watch an episode of Heroes in one "pane," and see/hear episode commentary from the cast in the other. Any of the ones with Coleman would be worth your while, as are ones with Parkman (Greg Grunbery) and Sylar (Zach Quinto).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mind Blown.

Then put back together, then blown again. This whole "spoiler free" thing I'm doing freaked my shit out for the first major time last night watching the "The Man Behind the Curtain" episode of Lost.

So let me get this straight:

  • John Locke got shot by Ben and may or may not be on his way to dying? (Say it ain't so!)
  • Ben was lying (not too shocking) and not born on the island, but instead in a forest 32 miles outside of Portland? Isn't this were Mittelos Bioscience was founded?
  • Batmanuel apparently doesn't age. And he can obviously go from the island to Portland and back again?
  • Another island person has father issues.
  • The Dharma folks were on the island to figure out peace, love and understanding, only to be "purged" by other folks ("hostiles") who were already there?
  • Ben's dead pop was the corpse in the VW microbus, who was gassed by Ben himself?
  • The mysterious Jacob could be a figment of Ben's imagination, a real "ghost, some type of ethereal person with psychic abilities who hates flashlights and dresses in older period costumes, that Locke can hear too? And he's asking Locke for help? And in his funky, Blair Witch cabin he keeps bizarre paintings of dogs and jars of ooky red fluid?
  • It appeared some (or at least one) of the bodies in the Dharma open grave had a bullethole in its head?
  • The sonic fence can be adjusted so that instead of killing you and keeping out the smoke monster, it just leaves you "mostly dead?"
  • Naomi recovered quickly, didn't she?
  • Juliet really is trying to help the Losties?
  • And Jack is taking his own sweet time, on his own, to formulate his strategy to combat the Others? And he knew about Juliet's tape recorder all along?
  • Now everybody knows that Jin's boys couldn't swim previously? And now everybody knows that Jin's boys do swim on the island? Including Jin, who didn't know that previously?
  • As a child, Ben saw his dead mother on the island, wearing the same thing as the little wooden doll that his friend Annie gave him for his birthday?
  • Ben's grip on the Others may be loosening, as Batmanuel and Tom watched Locke put a beat down on Mikhail? And why was Ben in charge after all this time, if Batmanuel doesn't age and has been involved someway since "the beginning" when Ben was but a visiting child?
  • Does the fact that Ben's mom died during childbirth (at 7 months) have anything to do with all the pregnancy shenanigans on the island?
  • Ben apparently likes white rabbits.
  • The island's volcano has erupted at some point, and does the gray powder all around Jacob's cabin have anything to do with that?
  • And again -- they couldn't really fucking kill Locke, could they?
  • If the Dharma Initiative is dead, how come they kept dropping supplies?
  • And if Dharma was "purged," then who "employed" Inman and Desmond to man the station/hatch?

Whew. As Jacob said, "Help Me!"


On Monday's Heroes, Ellen Greene was Sylar's mom. She's a Broadway vet, and probably most recognized as Audrey from the big screen Little Shop of Horrors. John Badham, of Wargames and Saturday Night Fever fame, was the director of the episode.

Michael Shanks, Dr. Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1, has been the spy collaborating with the Russians and banging the VP's girlfriend on recent eps of 24.

On last Tuesday's House, Shonda Farr played the chick in for a breast exam when Wilson was hysterically freaked out on uppers House had dosed his coffee with. I recognize her most as April, the fuckbot Warren built in Buffy's "I Was Made to Love You." Coyote Ugly's Piper Perabo was the vegan House is attempting to get jiggy with.

On last week's wacky CSI (and really, hasn't this been the best season of this show?) about alien conspiracy nuts, Ally Sheedy (Breakfast Club!) was "true believer" who bit Greg and beheaded the "serpent queen." Enrico Colantoni (Papa Mars, Galaxy Quest and Just Shoot Me) was the sleazy perp. Julie Hagerty (Airplane!) was his con victim who really, really wanted to believe the serpentine aliens were here on earth, who needed to be beheaded (Paris Hilton's head is still attached, so no "mission accomplished").

On Tuesday's superb return to form for Veronica Mars (why didn't they come back from hiatus with this ep, instead of the PSA about tolerance?), Paul Rudd was the snarkalicious former rock star, Desmond Fellows. Paul, of course, you would recognize from Clueless, Friends and all the Apatow comedies. Also on VM that night was Suzanne Cryer as the Chinese teacher who had a thing for Desmond. I've had a crush on her since she was Ashley on Two Guys and a Girl, and most recently she popped up on Desperate Housewives.

On last night's Bones, Emily Deschanel's father, noted cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, was the ep's director.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

American Idol Final Four: How Can You Mend a Broken Ear?

First things first: I love the Bee Gees, okay? I love disco. Yes, I appreciate artsy, acoustic singer-songwriters and "challenging" songs about world peace and political issues. And sure, virtually every other genre of music, from punk and electronica to country and rap basks in the glow of critical adoration, while disco is a form of music banished to the kids' table during Thanksgiving dinner like the strange cousin who eats paste. But ya know what? Disco is virtually the only type of music that actually makes me "feel good." Brings back memories of happier times in my life, doesn't try to teach me a ham-handed "lesson" and just makes makes me want to move.

So you can imagine how happy I was to see Idol get around to "disco night," or more appropriately, Bee Gees/Barry Gibb night. Little did I know that once it was over, I would have probably would have enjoyed "Idols sing Thom Yorke" or "50 Cent Night" more.

No one said anything about it, but what the hell was up with Barry Gibb's face? I don't think it was the typical case of overbotoxed/face-lifted aging star. Something was going on with his jaw, like he had just gotten it reset and couldn't enunciate more clearly than Logan Echolls or Sylvester the cat. In fact, he sounded like the Sean Connery caricature on "Celebrity Jeopardy." Still, he could bring the falsetto and gave the Idol wannabees solid advice (which Lakisha would ignore, as usual) and had a vast songbook from which the final four could choose.

Melinda, the "resident pro," led us off with "Love You Inside and Out," and did her usual resident pro thing. Solid vocals, great technique, but nothing spectacular. Later, for her second song, she performed "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." Once again, solid, but unspectacular. And I'm not a doctor or anything (but I do watch House), but every time Melinda ran across a lyric about "heart," she grabbed her tummy. Does she need to play "Operation" and learn where these parts are? Did anyone else notice this? Not great, but compared to some of what was to follow, it was stellar.

Blake was up next, to bring us the high energy romp that is "You Should Be Dancing." Except that it wasn't a high energy romp. As much as I loved the god-forsaken beatboxing last week against my better judgment, he overdid it tonight. Maybe it was like when someone thought it was funny when Jack Tripper fell over the couch, and then he spent the next five years falling over the couch on every episode of Three's Company. I think Blake was reading his press clippings all week, about 90% positive, on taking Bon Jovi to beatboxland, and decided that no song, no matter the context, would be complete without it. Or maybe he realized that his falsetto lacked any projection or power, and was determined to distract us all from it. Whatever the reason, this song was a mess. Ironically, it did not convince me I should be dancing. Maybe "You Should Be Drinking More Heavily and Listening to Your Saturday Night Fever CD" would have been more apt. For his second tune, Blake came back with "This is Where I Came In." Of all the songs in the catalog, he chose this? That's like saying "Spock's Brain" is your favorite episode of Star Trek. Or "Black Market" is your favorite Battlestar Galactica. Or "Beer Bad" is your favorite Buffy. Okay, you get the point. Even Barry Gibb, who wrote the fucking thing, was surprised. Again, the beatboxing distracted from the poor song choice, and Blake actually hit more notes with power this time, but his inexplicable decision to choose a tuneless tune might just kill him, unless the "Blaker Girls" come out in force. Wow. There's "taking chances," and then there's just pissing all over the litterbox of goodwill. I can't believe Blake didn't pick "Jive Talking" or "Nights on Broadway" or something that would combine fun and energy with a recognizable song.

Last week's fortunate survivor, Lakisha, comes out to belt "Stayin' Alive." Should be a slam dunk, right? Except....not. Typically, she shouts all over it, and bizarrely slows down the tempo to an anthemic and touchstone up tempo song from the era. After scowling her way through what should have been a fun hoot, she comes back for her second at bat with "Run to Me" and hits a few more notes this time amidst the hollering, but cracks a note at the end and puts a fitting capper on a disastrous week for her. And of course, she ignored all the advice given her, despite nodding enthusiastically when hearing it. Is her hubris greater than Blake's?

Jordin bats clean up, and should be happy to have survived Bon Jovi week. She plays it relatively safe, and chooses (both times) more "diva-appropriate" songs. Barry Gibb touches himself during the coaching session, and while I love Jordin and she's my "hope" to win, I think the gushing is a little much. Still, she does "To Love Somebody" and it kicks a little ass and is even a bit soulful. She comes back for her second tune with a song made famous by Barbra Striesand, "Woman in Love." Say what you want about her narcissism and hysterical political rantings, but Babs has one of the finest vocal instruments ever recorded. Jordin suffers in comparison to James Brolin's wife, but hell, who wouldn't? I enjoyed it, the judges didn't, but Jordin comes out of tonight's clusterfuck at least a solid number two, if not tied with Melinda.

This hour was almost as painful to get through as a results show, yet I couldn't fast forward through the bad parts. It was even more crushing since I had high hopes for the theme and most of the Idols had performed strongly with Jon Bon Jovi. I'm simply aghast.

TNRLM's Top 2: Jordin and Melinda, by a mile.
TNRLM's Bottom 2: Blake and Lakisha.

Lakisha should go home tonight, unless haters of beatboxing rise up with torches and pitchforks and storm the castle.

Monday, May 7, 2007

EW's Sci-Fi 25

Okay, if you haven't read Entertainment Weekly's "Sci-Fi 25" article in the latest issue, then you should. Or, just click here and read it online.

All caught up? Good.

A fun premise and one that lends itself to debate. And except for a few minor quibbles, I won't argue with the editors' choices. Starting at 25, I'll add my comments on a few of the entries, and then tell you the two painful omissions from the list.

25: V: The Miniseries. I recall being riveted to the television as a teenager when this came out. Between the rodent snacking and the reptilian baby, it was the high point of the miniseries craze on network TV for those of us not fascinated with Richard Chamberlain, and long drawn out weepy love stories.

24: Galaxy Quest. An unbelievably pitch perfect straddling of the fence between gentle mocking of sci-fi geeks (of which I am one) and honoring their devotion and the "conventions" (in every sense of the word) of Trekkian lore. Terrifically cast, sharply written and spot on.

23: Doctor Who. I must admit, I never watched the old BBC versions, but after great critical buzz, I tuned into Skiffy for the updated revival, and was glad I did. A show with cheek, heart and wit.

22: Quantum Leap. As surprisingly awful as Scott Bakula was as Captain Archer on Enterprise (and I was a Trek fan initially thrilled with his casting), he was fantastic as time traveling scientist Sam Beckett. The show had a nice mixture of Sam leaping into "everyday" situations in various timelines along with encounters (and inhabitations) of more famous people in history (Elvis, Lee Harvey Oswald, Marilyn Monroe to name a few). One of the shows on this list (along with V, X-Files, Blade Runner, Khan) that I recall watching with my father, who showed me you could be "cool" and also embrace your inner geek. Intelligently written, sincerely acted and usually compassionate, it also frequently sent me running to the World Book (before the days of the Interwebs) to read up on the time periods represented in its humanistic storylines.

19: Starship Troopers. Really, one of the great misunderstood sci-fi spectacles of all time. I read the books as a kid, and even played the wargames complete with alien bug "counters." People who just didn't "get it" complained that the acting (from noted thespians Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards) was as cardboard as the counters used in the games just referenced, and took the fascist slant as straight on propaganda rather than the brilliant satire it was. Besides, where else can you see Doogie Howser (and Barney Stinson) dressed in Nazi regalia talking telepathically to giant insects?

18: Heroes. As close as we'll ever see to a straight up comic book on TV, without the spandex. It's too soon to say whether or not it will collapse under its own weight and mythic intentions, or if it will engender too much ill will from hewing too closely to previous comic iconography (cough*Watchmen*cough), but right now it's a thrilling and "page turning" must see every Monday.

17: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Yes, you can loosely classify this as "sci-fi" because of the premise, but at its heart it's a fascinating, moving and heartbreaking meditation on love and the questions all of us ponder in our minds and souls while trying (and ultimately failing) to make a connection. While I wouldn't put this on a classic, "critical" list of the top 10 movies ever made, it would certainly deserve consideration for inclusion on my "personal favorite" and "most thought provoking" lists. And what I wouldn't fucking pay to be able to use that technology for real.

15: Firefly/Serenity. If you're not already a "Browncoat," you should be. If you value characters, dialogue and entertainment at its best, you owe it to yourself to sit down and watch this killed before its time series (and follow up movie). I guarantee you'll watch the first couple of episodes and suddenly find yourself in a weekend DVD marathon, and then feel indescribably sad that there are no more stories being told in this beautiful, dramatic, funny and richly drawn 'verse. But forever grateful that we got what we did.

14: Children of Men. I recently saw this, and was astounded that it wasn't even nominated for Best Picture. Everything is perfectly realized and executed; the performances, the characters, the writing, the concept, the direction. Dark and hopeful at the same time, this is sci-fi storytelling at its best, and accessible enough for folks who don't want to see bumpy-headed aliens and spaceships.

13: The Terminator/Terminator 2. Sci-fi is one of those rare genres where going back to the well for a sequel or reconceptualization often produces superlative work (Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: TNG, Aliens, Empire Strikes Back, BSG) and T2 is no exception. Strangely, there's one moment that has always bugged me about the amped up sequel, and it has nothing to do with time loop causality, paradoxes or the "rules" of the "mimetic alloy." When the T-1000 (one of the best villains ever created) corners Sarah Conner at the climax in the factory, and pierces her shoulder and needs her to "call out" to her son John in order to lure him closer -- why does it do this? After all, it has been well demonstrated that it can take any form and mimic any voice. Why not kill her there, assume her voice and identity, and lure John that way? Does this bug anyone else?

11: Lost. While I passionately love this show, I question whether or not it belongs on a list of "sci-fi." If you do, how far do you open up the definition? Still, this is breathtaking storytelling which doesn't diminish -- and in fact, greatly enhances -- characterization.

10: The Thing. If Kurt Russell wasn't already a geek god for his portrayals of Jack Burton and Snake Plissken, then R.J. MacReady would have put him on the throne anyway. Cutting edge effects for the time and unrelenting tension in a setting of absolute isolation made this sci-fi horror at its best. I defy anyone to relax (or hell, breathe) during the petrie dish testing scene.

9: Aliens. There was no way to improve on the "haunted house" perfection of the original Alien, so James Cameron didn't even try. Instead, he wisely took the story in a completely different direction and produced one of the most quotable, thrilling, empowering yet still creepy epics ever to grace the screen. Of all the DVD movies in my collection, I may have watched this one the most. Not a false moment in two plus hours of thrills, chills and gasps.

8: Star Trek: The Next Generation. Despite an awkward and at times clunky first season, TNG quickly found its voice and continued the Trekkian legacy of compelling allegories and thought-provoking metaphors, told from a perspective that was as hopeful as it was "human," and anchored by the stellar work of Patrick Stewart. "The Best of Both Worlds" was the best season ending cliffhanger in television history (and this geek was actually around to wonder who shot JR, too).

5: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Delivers on every aspect of the original Trek that the moody and slower first big screen adventure just missed. Kirk and Khan's game of "Ahab" is a thing to behold, and it's a wonder there was a set left in which to film, given all the scenery being (delightfully and entertainingly) chewed. Also, one of the few times I can recall my father and I weeping openly during the same movie (geeks know when), while my mom rolled her eyes, but secretly choked up a little too.

4: The X-Files. I love this show (hell, one of my cats is named "Mulder") and frequently find myself rewatching episodes. Though the whole "mythology" never quite paid off as coherently as fans hoped, the classic "funny," "drama" and "horror" standalone episodes (like "Bad Blood," "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Home" respectively, for example) still rank as some of the best single hours of television ever produced.

3: Blade Runner. A perfectly realized vision of a dystopian future that set the standard for sci-fi on screen, and like many, based on a work by Phillip K. Dick. Unjustly ignored upon its release and now considered a classic, it poses the ultimate question of what exactly does it mean to be "human?" And a movie that still leaves fans with the nagging question: Rick Deckard, yes or no?

2: Battlestar Galactica (new). Quite simply, the BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION. A fascinating, dark and morally complex tale that draws deep, grey and rich characters and tells stories that always keep you coming back for more. If you're not watching this, you're missing television history.

1: The Matrix. Another movie, that if DVDs actually showed wear and tear, would be in tatters. The number of times I've seen this borders on the embarrassing, yet each and every time I find it breathtaking and addictive. A perfect blend of superhero action, Gibsonian cyberpunk, epic storytelling, unrelenting violence, iconic imagery and cutting edge film making techniques.

As I said, I didn't have many arguments with their list. However, there are two titles I would add:

Stargate SG-1. Yep, the movie, despite the presence of Kurt Russell and James Spader, was pretty bad. And for the longest time, I avoided the series, thinking it was just a hokey action adventure show. But I started catching repeats on Skiffy, and found myself drawn to it at first for tight plots and interesting explorations of earth mythology (actually created long ago by visiting aliens). But the heart of the show has always been about the "teamy goodness" of the central characters, and the humanistic and passionate attributes they bring to their weekly exploits. At the end of the day, you continue to watch because you care about these folks as well defined and well acted characters, and even though SG-1 will soon end after establishing itself as the longest running sci-fi series ever, I'll miss them.

Farscape. On its surface, the concept is ludicrous. A modern day astronaut gets sent through a wormhole into a distant universe populated by bizarre aliens (typically realized by Henson Company puppets and extravagant make up) and borderline fascist humanoids called "Peacekeepers." But the show, which was canceled way before its time, was unbelievably nimble in its storytelling, psychotically bouncing through long story arcs with heartbreaking drama, laugh out loud wit, pop-culture references galore, edge of your seat action, sheer popcorn entertainment, darkly fascinating characters, and the most compelling love story I've ever seen on TV. Yes, that last part is true. If you don't care about the romance and relationship travails of John Crichton and Aeryn Sun, then you just don't have a soul or a heart. The spectacle of the show was always there, but as with all great stories in any genre, it's the characters that keep you coming back for more.