April 20, 2005

Habemus Plotam!

I feel like my patience with Alias is slowly starting to be rewarded. Three moments from tonight's show worth mentioning:

I'm willing to forgive them for not making Arvin Clone Sloane's brother. I've got my suspicions about how this particular subplot will unfold, but for the moment, I'm just willing to ride out the fact that we have a villain now who is as villainous as Sloane himself was in Seasons 1 & 2 (and literally so).

The scene where they all spill their codenames for the dopplesloaner was a hoot. Arvin Clone. Marvin Sloane. Etc. High. Larious.

Finally, in what was for me maybe the best scene of the entire season, Ron Rifkin was capital-b Brilliant tonight at the tail end of the episode. They telegraphed the ending of the episode way too much--and in that sense, they're still dumbing it down too much for my tastes--but Rifkin carried off Sloane's transformation really well. He just goes bonkers. And I don't know that there's been a more chilling moment this season than watching Sloane speak calmly to Nadia with blood all over his face. Creepy. Gruesome. Genius.

Ok. Amidst all of this goodness, we have:

The colossal xanthium-powered dodgeball, which Syd wants to blow up, and Sloane clearly covets.
Jack, slowly dying from radiation poisoning.

Maybe they'll fool me here, but it did seem pretty obvious which way the plot will turn next week. And that's why they gave Carter (couldn't they have given Paul Ben-Victor a couple of episodes before knocking him off?) the lines that they did.

What we don't know, though, is exactly where Arvin Clone fits into things. And that's where I'll hang my hope for the next few eps. Oh, and Jacquelyn. That's the Alias I know and love, where they just keep dropping clues, all of which eventually make sense, but do so really unpredictably.

Oh, and ABC? Don't you dare run one of those damn fake, montage episodes where you "explain" the show for a week. Please please please please. How utterly sad is it that we've gotten to the point where shows with plots that last longer than one or two shows now have to be explained? At least when they did montage episodes on sitcoms, they were montaging funny moments. This is just dumb, and it's an insult to those of us who actually watch your shows. I mean, really. How many people have trouble following Desperate Housewives? Really.

That is all.

May 25, 2005

Oh. My.

1 mystery solved, 1 plot foiled, 1 open hatch, 1 bizarre kidnapping, 1 horde of Rimbaldi zombies, and, um, "My name isn't really Michael Vaughn"?!?!?!


That's all.

September 22, 2005

Make your own kind of music...

Desmond, who exactly are you? And what's up with those damn numbers (which were on the canister of stuff that he injected himself with, and which were also what he inputs into his computer before hitting the "execute" button)?

Ahhh, this is how I know that it's a "new year": the new season of Lost began last night, and not a moment too soon. I've been turning people on to it left and right, as if winning the Best Drama Emmy weren't enough to do so. I also picked up the Season 1 DVD last week, and have been basking in the mystery ever since. For the most part, I've avoided the spoiler sites as much as possible--no sense in being too hermenuetically greedy.

And honestly, I can't do much here but express appreciation that the show seems poised to continue as my overall favorite. The hatch is now open, and last night's episode intensified some of last season's mysteries (the numbers) and offered some new ones (Desmond, Walt, a big ass magnet, and a circa-1950s fallout shelter). Wednesday is definitely going to be the axis around which my entertainment week rotates this year.

(p.s. I'm getting a fair bit of traffic, thanks to the title of this post. FYI, "Make Your Own Kind of Music" is an old tune from The Mamas and the Papas. Don't know if that's the version that played in the episode, though. It's been covered by Streisand, among others...)

Invasion was not quite the blockbuster that the (admittedly biased) previews promised, but I'll probably hold out for a couple of weeks before I decide on it. One of the problems that occurs to me right away is that the very title of the show basically gives away the opening plot twist, and rather than starting in media res, the way that Lost did, the pilot for Invasion plods along, introducing the characters in what was a pretty slow fashion. Ranger Russ and Dave are basically Scully and Mulder respectively, but unlike X-Files, there's no ambiguity to tease us with. The truth is out there, in the form of shiny lights, and we know that in the very first scene. There's a little tension with Rose, I guess, but otherwise, the characters are all lagging behind the viewers in terms of what they know.

Contrasted with Lost, where we know as little as the characters themselves, the vibe is a lot less mysterious, and minus the tension. In spots, like the one where Russ asks the sheriff how he still had cell service, there's plot convenience rather than character consistency, which is another major difference between the two shows.

But we'll see, I suppose. Compared to at least a couple of other recent "alien" shows (I'm thinking of The 4400 and Battlestar Galactica), Invasion seems pretty weak, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

October 5, 2005

A clue?

Tonight's episode of Lost offers plenty more names and references for the conspiracy theorists to cut their teeth on, so rather than attempting a catalog of them, I thought I'd mention the one that jumped out at me the most, and that's the appearance of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, which is the partially obscured book past which Desmond runs as he packs up his stuff and leaves the station.

Why this book? Well, once upon a time I thought I might write a dissertation in Irish Literature, and I would have almost certainly taken O'Brien as my subject. Third Policeman is one of his best books, unappreciated at the time he wrote it, and probably doesn't cross the radar even of most literature students. Of 3P, Bookslut offers the following in her plot synopsis:

In The Third Policeman, our hero and narrator, a nameless young man with a wooden leg, assists in a money-motivated killing, and, after trying to retrieve the stashed goods some time later, passes into a strange otherness -- a place that superficially resembles the Irish countryside, but which casually disobeys the normal laws of How Things Work. He encounters a small building of impermanent and shifting geometry which turns out to be the local barracks -- it is here that he meets the policemen. The novel has that special quality -- the fantastic made believable, yet retaining its power to amaze -- that is the hallmark of authors like Borges, Kafka, or Barthelme. The events are alternately frightening, baffling, and hilarious, and are brought into three dimensions by perfect, musical prose.

Some of this should sound more than familiar to us who watch Lost, yes? It's been a long time since I've read 3P, but I'll have to see if I can't dig out of whatever box I've laid it in, and see if there's anything else worth mentioning. It's been a long time, too, since Turn of the Screw--perhaps someone else can offer a connection/hint?

October 13, 2005

Have a Cluckety Cluck Cluck Day

I have to admit that the tease from last week, which showed Jin speaking English, was a huge disappointment. Lost has been doing well enough without resorting to "...and then he woke up!" sorts of trickery.

Last night's episode was one that didn't perhaps excite as much as the first few have. Other than Bernard being alive, there weren't a lot of answers to our ongoing questions. But I think that it was necessary from the perspective of the overall narrative--not every episode should promise to answer! all! your! questions!

And I really liked Hurley's backstory this time round. He and Locke continue to be the most interesting characters for me. Maybe it's because both of them believe, but from such different points of view.


Anyhow, I won't be blogging for a few days. I'll be in NYC giving a talk at the Humanities Roundtable event sponsored by the National Federation of Archiving and Indexing Services, and my guess is that free wifi will be hard to find.

That is all.

November 9, 2005

But now are found?

Thank goodness, Lost is back. And not a week too soon. Although one of these days, I need to talk about this season's telefetish, Prison Break. Still, Lost returned tonight, and we hung out mostly with the folks from the tail and some of the secondary characters. Not a lot of breaking plot news, except for Shannon taking a bullet. And I'd already caught that news on the spoiler boards (bad bad bad).

We also got another sighting of Walt, speaking backwards. What does he say? Someone recorded it and reversed it (thank you internets!): "They're coming and they're close."

In terms of the overall story, I was a little surprised that they dropped Shannon, but then, I'm not sure that she was going to contribute much beyond what she had. Now, there's instant friction between Ana Lucia and Sayid, which is hinted at at the very end of the episode. Flashing back for a character about to leave us, though, felt a little unnecessary, I guess. Shannon's character never really acquired the depth for me that others did. I felt bad for her, sure, but really, she didn't seem to grow much between being cut off by the wicked stepmom and landing on the island. Unlike some of our other flashbacks, instead of complicating Shannon, hers seemed more like rationalizations. Maybe there'll be more to her--she's not technically dead yet, and the "one of them will be lost forever" tease could refer to the Tail woman (Cindy) who disappeared. Actually, that makes more sense to me, given how incomplete Shannon feels.

All in all, pretty solid episode, moving us along in a few different ways.

One other quick note: Wendy's has been running these commercials where kids use some new Wendy's burger to hypnotize--the first one I saw was one where a kid Wendies his dad into letting him have the car and come home late. But they ran another one tonight where a kid first uses a burger to convince his friend to let him date his sister, and then he goes to the kitchen and uses a burger to get her to go out with him. Is there anyone else who finds the parallel here with date rape drugs a little creepy, tasteless, disquieting, etc.?

I probably shouldn't say anything--every time I complain about a commercial, I get the grammatically challenged blogtrolls a visiting, but oh well. I can always close comments.

That is all.

February 6, 2006

Addicted to Dumb

I don't typically give a rat's ass about Super Bowl commercials. I don't care for the hype, which is inevitably overdone, I don't believe that they're about anything other than conspicuous consumption on the part of our megacorporations, and I generally find them to be a lot less clever than they seem to think they are.

Let me state unequivocally, though: the commercial for Lost where they superimposed Robert Palmer's largely forgettable "Addicted to Love" into clips from Lost and did music video cuts on it was HORRIBLE. Horrible.

First of all, it's not that kind of show. The commercial was misleading at best, and made Lost out to be an action-thriller, which it's not.

Second, if you want to attract new viewers, and I assume that this was at least partly the point, then how about this? Advertise the fact that you can get episodes on the cheap via iTunes--it's an innovative practice, and it makes it a lot easier for people to catch up. My experience may not be representative, but over and over, the biggest reason that I hear for people not watching Lost is that they don't want to try and hop in mid-stream. So why not market the solutions that you've developed for that? Why in the world would you do a dopey music video commercial for a show that's popular precisely because it's not a fast food kind of show?

The odd thing about this is that ABC has had huge success in the past two years with ensemble, character-driven drama, and instead of promoting these shows as such, they run the same old marketing ploys. People watch Lost not because of this kind of crap, but despite it.

That's all.

Update: Consider this fair warning. I'm going to start editing out spam comments and trackbacks--if you trackback my page and don't put up a corresponding link to this page on yours, I take that as (a) a violation of the spirit of the trackback, (b) a personal affront, (c) an invitation to be added to my blacklist. Seriously. It's lame.

April 6, 2006

I knew it

This week's closing moment on Lost? I called it.

Several eps ago, when Hurley and Libby were in the hatch doing laundry, and Hurley asked her if he'd seen her before somewhere, Libby told him that he stepped on her foot as he was getting onto the plane.

Problem was, if he had, then Libby would have been in the front section, not the tail.

Of course, my theory was that Libby was one of the Others, so I didn't quite get it right. But still.

(I know, I know, I should write more about the last couple of episodes.)

May 4, 2006

Quadruple Take

Which I suppose is what two double-takes add up to:

DT#1: It wasn't until after tonight's episode that I discovered that I should have been watching the Hanso Foundation commercial for their "call center" number. And then, it was too late. It was only luck that I saw the commercial itself in the first place, since I was flipping to TNT during the commercials to catch the score. I'm assuming that the number will be on the boards pretty soon. (Visit the Hanso Foundation site, and sign up for the newsletter, and you'll see what I mean.)

DT#2, of course, was Michael getting all Manchurian on their asses. Now that I know that I have at least a couple of laggers reading, I don't want to spoil Season #1 stuff that I know they haven't gotten to yet. So I won't. Except to say that (a) it's starting to feel like some things are sliding into place, and (b) that didn't stop tonight's ending from causing my jaw to drop.

That is all. Good ep.

October 4, 2006

Please pass the fish biscuit

Mostly plot maintenance going on in tonight's episode of Lost--not a lot of answers, and not so much with the Shocking Answers!!!OMG!1! that the boardies seem to want with every episode. I can afford to be a little more patient. One of the things that turned Alias for me was that the constant pressure to keep delivering bigger better faster more eventually put the show over the top, to the point where the show became a parody of itself.

So, there were some obvious parallels tween this and the opener for Season 2, with Petula Clark's "Downtown" instead of "Make your own kind of music," the omnipresent opening eyeball, and another incremental expansion of the outer boundaries of the show's space, adding the villa to the crash site and hatch. Their ability at the villa to get copmrehensive files on Jack is an obvious question, as is the point of the cornucopia of psychological techniques they're using to break down our core characters. Oh, and where'd Hurley go?

So yeah, kind of a slow episode, but some nice moments, some more mysteries, even if they didn't make a big deal of them, and now my Wednesday nights are spoken for.

(I must admit that only the fact that USA is rerunning Kidnapped allowed me to tune in to the Nin9 tonight. I must also admit that I didn't leave that show feeling especially inclined to watch it again.)

Snip, snap, snout.

February 23, 2007

Chains of love

It's one of those weeks where my waking moments are filled with thoughts best left unblogged, for any number of reasons. But I've been meaning for the past couple of days to link to an entry over at Tim's joint. He's speaking mostly about the whole Edwards campaign kerfuffle, but for a paragraph, he references a conversation over at Laura's about whether or not she planned to continue blogging. It motivates some reflection on the double standard operating in some folks' conceptions of blogging. On the one hand, they want what happens in blogspace to matter in the larger world; on the other, they don't always seem to want to be held accountable by that larger world. But I was especially interested in the finally paragraph (gently pruned for your consumption):

This is not just about blogging: it’s about history. The more you write, the more your writing is both burden and expectation, a second self whose permission is required before you do something new–or whose betrayal is necessary should you wish to be free of your shadow....When I write it–even in a blog–it has, and ought to have, some greater weight. If that weight becomes like Marley’s chains, forged in life, it’s up to me to do the hard and complicated work of unlocking, not to complain that what I wrote was read.

I mentioned in the comments thread at Laura's that she'd articulated something that I've been experiencing lately as well. And I think that it's that notion of what I write here as a second self. When I'm feeling especially transparent, the blog doesn't feel all that separate from what I do. I don't feel like I have to police it for polysemy, worrying about whether or not what I say will be taken up in unintended ways. Which isn't to say that it's weightless--I hope that there is some weight to what I write, at least on occasion. But when it becomes a second or a third self--if my private and public meat/selves are the first two--it takes me that much more energy to tend to it. And that much self-maintenance can wear me out after a while. Right now, I'm feeling that fatigue. Part of it's the weather, part of it's the time of the year, and part of it's just the junk that happens.

What prompted this entry tonight was a conversation with D about last night's ep of Lost, which didn't jazz me quite as much as the week before. I'm worried that the writers of that show have decided not to "do the hard and complicated work of unlocking" their narrative, opting instead for more plot, more characters, and more distractions (assuming that Jack's tattoo was one of the "big mysteries" solved last night), and hoping that those of us who loved the show through the first two seasons will simply let it slide. Lost is no longer the must-see it was for me those first two seasons, and while I'm willing to ride it out a while longer, I'm beginning to feel a bit betrayed by the fact that I've watched regularly, closely, and with interest. I wonder how much the writers are longing to be free of the shadows of those first two seasons.

That's not to compare my humble blog to a show like Lost. But I had a much more concrete sense after that conversation of how even a labor of love can begin to feel like a unshakeable shadow. That's all.

And that's really all I have to say tonight.