Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Wig Stands Alone

So. Alias is over. I have so many fond memories of Alias, I think I spent an entire month of weekends working my way through the first four season’s DVDs. And I love the wigs and the outfits, that was clearly the reason to watch this show. That and David Anders. And Michael Vartan. Rowr!

The thing about Alias is, you have to take it for what it is. The premise is probably the most ridiculous thing ever, what with the fifteenth century inventory/philosopher/prophet who spent his life creating these cryptic puzzles about a super spy Chosen One and inventions that did things like print the word “peace” and create giant floating red balls that if they get you wet you turn into a zombie.

See what I mean?

But it was still awesome. And it was one of the few shows that never really got off the ground ratings wise, but the network respected its audience and its creator enough to give the show a great run and a truly great finale. Plus, ABC worships at the altar of J.J. Abrams. And last night was the last episode ever of the show that made Jennifer Garner a star and made us realize how incredibly awesome an actor Victor Garber is.

The finale covered all the bases. Flashbacks to Sydney’s past? Check. Explosions/near death experiences? Check. Return of old characters such as Sark and NotEvilFrancie? Check. Lean Olin? Check. Wigs? Ummm…not so much, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

And I have to say I am totally content with the way the show ended and where the characters ended up. I knew Jack was going to bite it, but having him take out Sloane and trap him for all eternity in the prison of his own making was perfect. I love that Syd and Vaughn got their happy ending (on the beach no less) and I was pleasantly surprised that Dixon survived, and is apparently now a Deputy Director of the CIA. Yay! Tom died but (yawn) I never really cared about him except to note how cool it was the actor playing him was named Balthazar. And Sark survived! Best part of the finale I think. And although I saw coming that Rambaldi’s endgame was the elixir that would provide ever-lasting life (they’ve pretty much been broadcasting that since the second season, and can we please never use the word “endgame” again?), it was still dramatic to see Sloane come back from the dead like that. And it was enough of a big deal that I would believe Irina would be willing to sacrifice everything for it. At the end of the day, I do believe that she loved Syd and Jack, but not enough to give up her quest for ultimate power for them.

End of Series Quiz

Favorite Episode(s): The Telling; second season finale. Best tv fight ever. In this corner Sydney, in the other corner Evil Francie. Oh and Syd wakes up in Hong Kong like two years later and Vaughn is married. ACK!

Favorite Character(s): Sark yo. I cannot believe David Anders is really American.

Favorite Quote:
Sydney (in Eurotrash disguise): “Don't. Touch. The fur. OK, you may touch it... Once”

Gone Before It’s Time? GOD no. I cannot believe this show hung around as long as it did. And it was always ridiculous. And awesome.

At Least We’ll Always Have…Arista’s DVDs. I’m not shelling out cash for my own.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hide Your Babies and Your Bead-work! Here are the Upfronts!

The networks have (finally) unveiled their fall line-ups for the 2006-07 season, and I am here with your handy guide on what you should be on the look out for next year.

NBC: Believe it or not, NBC has the show I am most rabidly anticipating. Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip reunited Sorkin with The West Wing's Bradley Whitford and tosses in Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet for some flavoring. While the pilot episode received a lukewarm reception from the critics in New York, I am betting on Sorkin to deliver the goods. Tina Fey's similar 30 Rock has been getting rave reviews, so I might also give this one a try.

Studio 60 will air Thursday from 9-10, meaning it will compete with Grey's Anatomy, CSI, and Supernatural. If NBC has any brains at all, they will rework the schedule to give this show a real shot at making an audience. 30 Rock will air Wednesdays at 9:30, pitting it against Lost and possibly American Idol.

ABC: The big news at the alphabet network is the move of Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays at 9 when it will compete against CSI. Since I am happy to watch Grey's on DVD (and haven't actually seen an episode of it yet) this doesn't bother me too much. New shows to keep on your radar are Six Degrees (a drama about how all people in the world are connected, from J.J. Abrams, natch), and Betty the Ugly which is kind of like a tv version of The Devil Wears Prada.

Six Degrees will air Thursdays at 10 and Betty will air Fridays at 8, practically guaranteeing that its target audience of girly twenty-somethings will never see it, being out on the town boozing it up. That's just me, you say? Fair enough.

It is worth noting that all the shows ABC has green-lighted this year look somewhat entertaining, and I don't really see a stinker in the bunch. Although the one where Taye Diggs is stuck in a dramatized Groundhog Day-esque set-up doesn't really do anything for me. But how can you not love Taye? He was the original Benny!

CBS: Zzzzzzzzz...oops, sorry! Remember when CBS was the land of Touched by an Angel and Murder, She Wrote, and everyone talked about how it was a network for old people? And then it launched the CSI franchise and got all sexy, but not really, because not much is sexy about women getting raped and chopped up every week. Except Lady Heather, she's totally sexy. Anyway, CBS seems to have returned to its old ways with procedurals and yadda yadda. ALTHOUGH, I will say, that I love Numb3rs, but mostly because its two lead characters are hot Jewish guys. Come on, you knew I was shallow.

I am, however, going to give Jericho a try. CBS described is thusly: a drama about what happens when a nuclear mushroom cloud suddenly appears on the horizon, plunging the residents of a small, peaceful Kansas town into chaos, leaving them completely isolated and wondering if they're the only Americans left alive.

Sounds good to me! Reminds me of this Christopher Pike book I read back in the day. But that one had this weird abortion subplot that was just icky. Jericho will air Wednesdays at 8, which means it will conflict with Top Model, but that is why God invented my cheap-ass VCR. No, I do not have DVR, get over it.

FOX: Yeah, there's pretty much nothing on FOX I want to watch. Maybe things will change come August, but right now, that's a dry well.

The CW: The new network makes the two single most brilliant decisions EVER (by returning Veronica Mars and Supernatural) and then also does perhaps one of the dumbest things EVER (bringing back 7th Heaven and cancelling Everwood). I know there are a bunch of Everwood fans, and although I have never seen it, I have heard really good things about it. And 7th Heaven is just crap.

There does seem to be some possibilities for the new show Runaway which will air Mondays at 9 and will star Donnie Wahlberg. Yes, that Donnie. Woot! Something about being accused of a crime, and going on the lam with his family and angsty teenage son...whatever. Could be good, could suck. Probably the later. But who cares? Because we get Veronica and the Brothers Dean, yay!

So there you have it. Looks like the big race is going to come down to Thursdays at 9. I am constantly at a loss to figure out why networks would put all their heavy hitters on the same night at the same time. I think the likely result is that American Idol and House end up being the most watched shows next year, and Thursday night will just split the audience. Does that mean FOX might become the most watched network? Awww, remember when FOX was just a fledgling and only had shows like The Simpsons, Married with Children, and The Rock? Good times.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What's Next?

Last night’s West Wing series finale has left me in knots. Not because it wasn’t emotional and well-executed (and it was both), but because I couldn’t help but feel…underwhelmed (tm Michael Kors).

I really wanted to love this episode, like, REALLY wanted to be able to rave about it. But I can’t. Which is sad. But first, I’ll talk about the good parts of the episode:

--Jed giving Charlie his copy of the Constitution. Ok, I teared up there. Despite the fact I can’t remember Charlie ever mentioning that he wanted to go to law school, it was poignant and Dule Hill’s reaction is what got me all misty. I am now willing to forgive his participation in “She’s All That.”

--CJ’s last visit to the press room, very sweet.

--Donna seeing her office, which is way bigger than Josh’s. Take THAT Josh!

--Oh, and Donna and Josh being together in bed the morning of the inauguration, I think they will be together a long time.

--Anything having to do with Jed and Abby. The best part of Abby is I can totally picture Rizzo growing up to become Abby Bartlett. You go, Stockard Channing!

See, lots of great stuff happened this episode, including Toby getting pardoned so he won’t have to go to jail and talk to his kids from the other side of a plexiglass divider. But there were things that I thought were bungled, most involving characterization.


--NBC makes this huge deal about Rob Lowe being back for two episodes, and he has what, two lines this episode? How about we get a conversation between him and Josh about the future, or heck how about a conversation about the past? Come on, throw us fans a freaking bone here.

--I think Santos and his wife are totally adorable, but it seemed like half the episode was them bantering about their new life. I realize the election was a large part of the past two seasons, but I was more concerned about the characters we have spent the past seven years getting to know. I never though I would say this, but less Jimmy Smits please.

--No Will/Kate resolution. Is she going to Oregon with him? Hello? Bueller?

--Did I mention Toby was not in this episode AT ALL? I appreciate them wrapping up his storyline, but to not put Richard Schiff in this episode was criminal. And unfair to the fans.

Overall, this was a solid post-Sorkin episode of the West Wing. But for the first time since Aaron Sorkin left, I find myself wondering what he would have done differently. I appreciate him appearing for a cameo (he was in the crowd at the inauguration), but come on dude. This show put you on the map. If he had written the finale, I have no doubt it would have been nothing short of brilliant, and so I find myself wondering what might have been.

End of Series Quiz

Favorite Episode(s): Two Cathedrals and Noel

Favorite Character(s): Josh all the way. He’s so cute!

Favorite Quote:
Sam: About a week ago I accidentally slept with a prostitute.
Toby: [pause] Really?
Sam: Yes.
Toby: A prostitute?
Sam: A call girl.
Toby: Accidentally?
Sam: Yes.
Toby: I don't understand. Did you *trip* over something?

Gone Before It’s Time? No. It was time.

At Least We’ll Always Have…: Repeats on Bravo baby!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

my newest obsession

Y'all, Doctor Who is freaking awesome. I have watched only about four episodes of the 2005 season, which is currently airing on Friday nights at 9pm on SciFi, and i am entirely hooked. I realize that a lot of my love is due to the fact that Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston are both gorgeous and have fantastic chemistry onscreen, but even beyond that, the show as a concept is ... intruiging.

I love that the show aired for 25 years in the UK and NEVER got below 3 million viewers for a first-run episode. I love that it went on hiatus for 16 years and returned without dropping the plot arc or the backstory. I love the complexity of the backstory, and i am absolutely fascinated by the makeup of The Doctor's character. Time Lord, can regenerate when near death, but only 12 times, has done so to date 9 of those times ... what happens next to The Doctor? How long will the show continue before he's run out of chances? How many Companions will he find and discard? (Billie Piper, by the way, is an awesome Companion. She's brave and headstrong and foolish and adorable and i have a huge girl crush on Rose. Just so you know.)

My obsession is such that i am currently sitting on my sofa at 1am on a saturday night, in clear view of my bed and with a brand new book on my coffee table, watching old eps on public television. Just so i can get a better sense of the tremendous arc of the show's history. I remember catching it randomly when i was a child, on the rolling rabbit-eared set in my grandma's kitchen. I remember there was a scarf. Apparently a generation of British children were so frightened by the show, and yet so wanted to watch it, that the phrase "behind the sofa" entered the pop-culture lexicon, indicating something you really want to see but are too afraid to watch head-on. (See also Fear, Pillow of.)


Jacob (who is my all-time favorite TWoP recapper and whose judgment i trust nearly without question ... except for his inexplicable love of Ryan Seacrest, but that's another post) raised an interesting point in recapping last week's episode, The Empty Boy. He noted that all the good zombie movies for the past twenty years have come out of Britain, linking that fact with both the ep's undead army and the second World War. He also pointed out that the specifically American nightmare is of "strangers in the house," which is a different deep-seated cultural fear. He didn't speculate as to its origin, and i'm not sure i'm up to the task at this time of morning, but regardless, the point stands. My most closely-held and uneradicable fear is of someone invading my apartment, my space, hurting me here. More than any place else, that's what -- and where -- i fear. It's interesting, and i don't know how far back it stretches into the collective unconscious, but i'm fascinated by the idea that it's not just because i'm a silly weak girl but also because i've been programmed to be most afraid of that particular situation.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Trouble With Lost Is...

Now don’t get my wrong. I enjoy Lost. I watch it every week, but I have to admit, sometimes I find myself fast-forwarding through certain scenes *cough flash-backs cough* because they tend to drag. I realize to some of you Lostphiles this is a betrayal, but let’s face it, the show moves at a glacial pace. We’ve been watching for two years and yet only, what, 50 days have passed on the island?

Certainly Lost has secured itself a position in our cultural lexicon as one of the most original, complicated, and surprising shows in the history of television. I think the pilot episode is probably the most brilliant single episode of television that has ever been. And the deftness at which the writers juggle a cast of characters that now includes about 15 series regulars is nothing short of staggering. HOWEVER…at the beginning of this television season, when Veronica Mars and Lost were scheduled at the same time, I was finally able to put my finger on what bothered me about Lost and has simultaneously kept me from becoming obsessed with it.

With other serial shows (such as Veronica Mars, Buffy, etc.) there is always an end in sight. I don’t mean the eventual end to the series, but the events of a season lead up to a resolution of some kind in the finale. Questions will be answered and the “Big Bad” will be dispatched. Lost has a much more amorphous pattern, and I am sure that is what attracts some people to it. Instead of one over-arching villain, characters are faced with battling themes or their own personal demons. Example: on Buffy, there would be a theme to a season, such as season four’s “oh, grow up!” and the characters would work through it in tandem with conquering the Big Bad (and while I’m on that topic: shut up, The Initiative).

On Lost, however, the only thing sustaining the second season has been the emotional theme. I think it has been clear that his season is about faith and what moves people to place their faith in different things. The best example of this is probably the Jack vs. Locke vs. Ecko triumvirate that has emerged. I think Lost deserved a lot of recognition and praise for breaking the serial mold of television and trying something different. After seven seasons of Buffy, I was the first person to admit the Big Bad formula had become a bit trying. But now, after seeing Lost and its reliance on characterization to sustain momentum, I can say that in my opinion, it doesn’t work enough to hold all my interest.

The best parts of Lost are, for me, the current action on the Island, as the characters struggle to make sense of their surroundings and each other. Who are the Others? What is the point of that dumb button? Will Kate and Jack ever get it on (I’m not aboard the Sawyer train y’all)? Where the HELL is Walt and/or my chiffon? The parts I find infinitely skipable are the questions involving the castaways backstories. Sorry, I don’t really care about Michael and his ex-wife, even if she was in Serenty. I don’t care why Sawyer is such an asshole. And I REALLY don’t care about Kate. When the show backs off from the forward-moving portion of the story, I lose interest.

Now, maybe five years down the road when Lost is over and all questions have been answered, I will slap myself on the forehead and think, “why didn’t I pay more attention to that flashback in the third episode! It had all the answers!” But I doubt it. If Lost’s writers would resolve themselves to answer at least one specific plot thread a season, I would find it a lot more enjoyable and a lot more engaging. For example, if I knew without a doubt that going into this season’s finale I would know what the hell is up with that hatch, I would be much more excited. But since there is no guarantee we will get any answers (despite the producers claiming the opposite, methinks they doth protest too much) I find it difficult to anticipate episodes of Lost as much as I do other shows.

So, what’s my point? My point is that while I enjoy Lost, and count it among my top 5 shows, I’m not able to become actively involved in it’s fandom or mysteries. Perhaps I am someone who needs to see a light at the end of a tunnel or have instant gratification. So while I tape Lost every Wednesday night, I might not get around to watching it until Saturday. And that’s ok. It’s a great show with a great cast (hellooooooo Matthew Fox, rowr!) but it lacks the momentum I need to become fully engaged.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

His Name was Cassidy, He Was A Showgirl...

Showgirl, sociopath, they all mean the same thing right? So we have come to the end of an era. The second season of Veronica Mars is offically done. Now we have to wait until May 18 and the CW network upfront to learn the fate of our beloved show. But the second season went out with a bang, pardon the pun.

What do we know? We know Cassidy (aka Beaver) was responsible for the bus crash.

Motive: to silence Peter and Marcos from coming forward with the revelation that the three of them were molested by the Mayor, Steve Buttenberg.

Means: Cassidy's Dad's mechanic, Curly Moran, was a Hollywood stunt coordinator who was in charge of blowing shit up in the movies. Cassidy learned from him, and perfected his craft creating explosions for his friend Hart's at-home movies (the same Hart who recorded Lynn Echols jumping to her death last year).

Outcome: Veronica figures it all out and a rooftop confrontation with Cassidy (where he also blows up the plane carrying Steve Buttenberg) ends with him stepping off the roof to his death. See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!

Why: Umm...because he was fuckin crazy y'all.

The Real Reason Why: Cassidy had been molested by Buttenberg and had been emotionally abused by his father and brother his entire life. Dude had some serious baggage. However, I'm not quite sure why he was so desperate to keep the knowledge of his molestation a secret, I guess he didn't want to face the humiliation? In fact, he was so desperate to keep it a secret that he blew up an entire bus of people. So, I'm gonna go with my original theory of "fuckin crazy."

Best "HOLY CRAP" moment: Panning back from the muzzle of the gun to see it was Clarence Weidman who shot Aaron Echols. So! Awesome!

Second best "HOLY CRAP" moment: Logan smooches. Duh.

But there are some lingering questions. Who was the Sally person Cassidy referred to earlier this season that caused Dick to not punch him? What was in the briefcase Kendall presented to Keith? Will Weevil go to jail for Thumper's murder? Will Lamb ever get the smackdown he so richly deserves? Is Logan going to college (methinks there might be an Echols Hall being built at Hearst next year)?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

those top model bitches

I done told y'all that Sarah was going home tonight. For one thing, she's too goddamn skinny. She's also got some funky-ass lips.

Jade, on the other hand, takes some hella good pictures but looks from behind like an albino dwarf. Or maybe Tyra is really a seven-foot-tall alien, like everybody already thinks. Also, elephants are not actually in "the dinosaur family," although i kind of wish they were now.

Poor Danielle. She's a trooper, and i didn't think her photo was nearly as porny as the judges seemed to. I guess one doesn't necessarily want to spread one's legs for Elle Girl?

Should win: Joanie. She's come a long way from the Snaggle.

Will win: Joanie. Jade's got the edge when it comes to taking actual pictures, but her attitude is for shit, she is forever making excuses for herself, and see above re: the dinosaur family. She's one pee-filled diaper away from being Lisa. Danielle is so, so beautiful, but they've made a season out of criticizing her accent (and btw, shut up, judges, accents are sexy). To flip it now and give it to Danielle would be a weird reversal over an issue that's sort of not one.

Finale next week woo!