Friday, February 27, 2009

Thoughts on Lost - The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

First of all, I was reading the transcripts of the Darlton podcast from a couple of weeks ago, and I came across some good news: Rose, Bernard, and Vincent are OK. In fact, Damon said they know that if they are going to keep ONE character alive through the end of next season, it will be Vincent. Obviously, they have been reading my blog.

OK, on with the episode:

- Wow, Caesar fits right in here, doesn't he? He's been on the Island for roughly one day, and he's already lying and hiding things from his fellow castaways.

- Nice job by Frank landing the plane, huh? Looks like somebody just set it down on the beach...reminds me of how offended he was when Miles suggested that he may have crashed the helicopter last season: "What kind of pilot do you think I am?" Heh.

- That would have been a nice reveal with Locke pulling back the hood a la Ben Kenobi, if the stupid ABC promo monkeys hadn't shown us the scene in last week's "Next Week on Lost" spot. I guess I'm going to have to go back to not watching the preview scenes.

Also, it has been reported that this set of scenes was originally planned to be the opening segment of the season. I actually think that would have been even better than what we got, as much as I enjoyed the "Faraday is part of Dharma" reveal. Think about it...we meet these two characters in an office that obviously has something to do with Dharma and the Island, based on the files that Caesar found (a map of the Island and a complex diagram that included references to "Space-Time"), then they walk outside and we realize that they are on the Island, and they got there via plane crash, just like our Losties. Then, Locke does his Gandalf act and introduces himself, when the last time we saw him he was in a coffin. Then later, when Jack and the group show up at the airport, both Caesar and Ilana show up and we realize that the flight that crashed was actually the one that our group is on. That scenario has multiple goosebump moments, and I'm not sure why they decided to change their mind.

- OK, so they are not actually on OUR Island...they are on the Hydra Island, where Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were held captive. And, apparently, Frank and Sun decided to take one of the canoes and head on over to the Island, probably to see if they could find Jin. Unfortunately for them, they missed him by roughly 25 years, I would say.

- I loved the little knowing smile that Locke gave when Ilana told him he would have to talk to Caesar if he wanted a passenger list...Locke knows how this works. Plane crashes, people are stranded, confused and scared, and inevitably leaders emerge. Looks like Caesar is this group's Jack.

- And just like the 815 post-crash scene, Locke is the crazy fruit-eating man. "I believe these are the clothes they were going to bury me in...I remember dying." Yeah, OK old man...enjoy your mango.

- So Locke shows up in Tunisia, in the same spot Ben did, roughly 2 years later. This time, somebody was expecting him, apparently, considering the camera that is set up. Later, Widmore will tell Locke that he set the camera up there because that's the "exit." So why didn't he have it set up when Ben showed up there in 2005? Maybe he didn't think anybody else was going to leave the Island the same way he did, until Ben showed up in his hotel room and threatened his daughter. After that, he knew to be watching...probably waiting for Ben.

- NEVER a good sign when your doctor gives you a block of wood to bite down on. And then straps it onto your head.

- The conversation between Locke and Widmore was Lost at its best: extremely informative, and maddeningly mysterious. Let's look at the information he revealed, and then some ramifications/theories...
  • Widmore was the leader of the Others until Ben somehow forced him out...on one hand, he said Ben "fooled" him into leaving, but then he also said that Ben "exiled" him. To me, "exiled" leads you to believe that Widmore was somehow being punished for something, and that his punishment was banishment from the Island. (Also liked the little aside from Widmore that they were not "Others" to him, they were his people. Locke seemed a little embarrassed at that point, probably because he believes that he should feel the same way).
  • Widmore said they protected the Island "peacefully" for more than three decades.
  • Widmore is going to help Locke bring everybody back, because Locke needs to be on the Island when the coming "war" starts, or the wrong side will win.
So what to make of all of that? I have a couple of theories.
  • We know that Richard was the leader in 1954...if Widmore took over for some reason (more on that in a minute) in the late 50's/early 60's, then his "peaceful reign" of more than three decades would have taken him right up to the early 90's. The Purge of the Dharma Initiative happened in December 1992, according to Lostpedia's timeline. Remember back when Locke, Hurley, and Ben were all at the burial pit? Ben told Hurley that it was not his decision to kill off Dharma. Hurley responded that he thought Ben was the leader, and Ben replied, "...not always." Now, Widmore is saying that Ben fooled him somehow, and it lead to his being exiled from the Island. What if Ben somehow manipulated Widmore into killing off Dharma, only to then condemn him for it and "punish" him by banishing him from the Island? We found out earlier this season that Widmore started funding Daniel's research in 1994, and in 1996 he was winning the Black Rock first mate's journal at an auction. To me, that fits right in with my theory...Widmore left the Island in late '92/early '93, and immediately started trying to find his way back to the Island, ultimately culminating in holding a boat race around the world that Desmond enters and ends up on the Island, turning the fail-safe key that makes the Island visible, saving Charlie so that he can make contact with Penny, etc, etc...
Just a theory.
  • So...what is this "war," and how does John being on the Island affect the outcome? And why and how does Widmore seem to have foreknowledge of it? No clue, but I wonder if this is not the "violent purge" that Pierre Chang refers to in the video that was released at this year's Comic-Con?

- One more thing...Richard was the leader of the Others in 1954, and we know he's still around. Why was there even a need for another leader? Why couldn't Richard just continue as the leader, since he obviously doesn't have to worry about getting too old for the position? Maybe, as a friend of mine has proposed (hi, Amanda!), Richard is still the one who is really in charge, and he only puts others in his place when he needs them to do something "unsavory?" You know, like kill a bunch of people, or turn the Frozen Donkey Wheel? I don't know, but I think I believe like my brother said...if we ever figure out what's up with RICHARD, we've probably come close to figuring out what's really up with the ISLAND.

Also, Richard told Locke he would have to die, but Widmore didn't seem to know anything about that. Maybe these who have some knowledge of the future (Widmore, Alpert, Ms. Hawking, etc) only have access to certain "pieces" of the timeline? That would make sense, to me...they aren't supposed to be omniscient beings, anyway.

- Ugh, my heart sank when Abaddon broke out the wheelchair. Poor John.

- "The whole world thinks you're dead. There must be somebody who'd be happy to see you."
"Please don't talk to me."

Yeah, in other words, please don't remind me that I have NOBODY on this planet who would be happy to hear from me, even though I haven't been heard from in three years. Poor John.

- OK, so we have some more unanswered questions when it comes to Sayid. Since he came back from the Island he was married to Nadia for 9 months, worked as an assassin for 2 years, and now is acting as the Dominican Jimmy Carter. And seems very content doing so. The next time we see him, he is putting a bullet through a guy's brain outside of Santa Rosa Mental Institution and busting Hurley out. So what happens to change his mind? It certainly wasn't his visit from "Bentham," as we assumed before.

Oh and thanks, Sayid, for reminding Locke that he has nowhere else to go, if he can't go back to the Island. Poor John.

- But the talk from Sayid of marrying the woman he loves triggers Locke to start looking for Helen. The one person off the Island who MIGHT be happy to hear from him. Maybe.

- Loved the scene with Locke and Walt...they had such a great relationship on the Island, so this is a nice little reunion, complete with the "Boy got big" crack from Abaddon which is now required for every scene involving off-Island Walt. And, ultimately, Locke still has a soft spot for Walt, as he can't bring himself to tell him that the freighter that his Dad was on was blown to smithereens.

Couple of things here...Walt seems to have no recollection of "visiting" Locke after he was shot by Ben...maybe on Walt's timeline it hasn't happened yet, or maybe it wasn't actually Walt at all?

And Walt is obviously still a "special" boy...dreaming of Locke's future on the Island in a suit. But interesting that John is surrounded by people who want to "hurt" him in Walt's dream.

- Next up on the Locke's Magical Mystery Tour is Hurley. Funny bit when Hurley thinks Locke is dead, since all of the other people he has been seeing is dead. And maybe Locke could have convinced him, until he looks up and sees Abaddon, the guy who scared the crap out of him last time he was there. So, once again, whatever reason Hurley decided to go back to the Island, it was NOT because of his visit from Bentham.

- Wonder who else Abaddon directed on to Flight 815? Jack? If so, he would have to be responsible for Christian's death. Kate? If so, he would have to have some control over the US Marshalls.

Claire? Maybe the psychic (Richard Malkin) has a similar position as Abaddon, since he was involved in both Claire and Eko's travels? He put Claire on the plane to go to the potential adoptive parents for Aaron, and Eko was traveling back from Malkin's home after investigating the miracle of his daughter's resurrection.

I wonder if we go back and look at why all of these people were on this flight, we may find that most if not all were somehow "directed" by someone working for Widmore?

- Next up for Locke...Kate. Remember, this has to be not long after she and Jack have split up, which may explain why she's ready to just put the whole thing behind her and move on.

And not only does he strike out again, but he gets a verbal smackdown from Kate regarding his relationship with Helen and why it didn't work out. Poor John.

- Good grief, more tragedy for John...Helen is dead. And Abaddon may be right, she may have died anyway, regardless of whether Locke had never gone to the Island, but Locke knows he could have been happy with her while it lasted, just like Sayid was with Nadia. But now she's dead. The one person off-Island who he wanted to see, and who he thought might actually want to see him. Poor John.

- WOAH! The back windshield has Abaddon all over it! Did NOT see that coming. Bummer.

- And Locke wakes up to see drug-addled, fugly beard-growing, boozy Jack staring at him. Jack is in a pretty weird place right now, remember...he's seeing his dead Dad all over the place, Hurley is telling him that maybe they should go back to the Island, he just broke up with Kate over Sawyer, and now Locke, who he last saw at the Orchid, is now in his hospital trying to convince him (once again) of destiny and faith and fate and Locke's overall unique snowflakeness. not to mention that he's referencing his father, who Jack just can't seem to get away from. So, no wonder he's having none of it. And, he puts the final nail in Locke's self-confidence on his way were never important, you're just a lonely old man seeking for meaning where there is none. Ouch. Poor John.

One thing that bothers me about this scene...Jack told Ben back in the season premiere that Locke told him that everybody back on the Island would die if they didn't go back. However, Locke did not say that in this conversation. If you have a theory regarding that, please let me know, because otherwise it was sloppy writing.

- And, that does it for Locke. I really think that his suicide attempt was 25% attempt to fulfill what Richard said about his death being the only way to get everybody back, 75% legitimate defeat and depression. There is seriously NOTHING left for him off-Island, and if dying is the only way to get back, then dying is his only hope. Now THAT is depressing. And Terry O'Quinn knocked it out of the park in this scene. His whole demeanor portrayed defeat, anger, desperation, the tiniest tinge of hope, but underneath it all a definite sense of purpose. Painful to watch, especially for somebody who loves this character as much as I do, but mesmerizing at the same time.

And I honestly don't know what to make of Ben in this scene, so my thoughts may be a little disjointed...he bursts in at PRECISELY the right moment, proclaiming that he has been watching the O6 to help keep them "safe," and ultimately stopping Locke from going through with it by informing him of Jack's Death Wish Flights. Blames Widmore for "using" John (wow...pot/kettle). He certainly knows which button to push: "You have no idea how important you are."

I think he was legitimately surprised that Jin is alive, but you can almost SEE the wheels turning when he finds out...this is a way to get Sun to go BACK to the Island, not a way to keep her away, and his cunning little mind decides that immediately. "A promise is a promise" ....whatever.

Looks like he has Locke as his sidekick again, until Locke says the magic words "Eloise Hawking." At which point, in my opinion, he just snaps and kill him. But why?
  • Maybe he thinks that if John can get to Eloise, she'll give him the answers he needs and then he won't be so easily manipulated anymore?
  • Maybe because he thinks that the only way Locke could know that name is if Christian/Jacob told him? Remember, the last time he tried to kill John it was after he found out that Locke could hear Jacob, so he seems to have a little jealous streak when it comes to his relationship with Jacob.
Gotta admit, this one has thrown me, especially considering that Ben KNOWS that Locke has to go back with him (he's the one who told Jack when they were in the funeral home, after all). Maybe he was planning on involving Hawking without letting Locke know, but once he discovered that Locke knew about Hawking that became too tricky? I don't's hard to shake my impression that the decision to kill Locke was NOT premeditated, and that once that was done Ben had to adjust his plans. After all...he ALWAYS has a plan.

Maybe he was planning on using Locke to get back to the Island until he snapped and killed him, so than he adjusted and started using JACK instead?

That was basically the end, except for the reveal that Ben is in fact back on the Island, on the same timeline as Locke, Sun, and Lapidus. Any theories as to what caused the difference? Why are Kate, Jack, and Hurley in Dharma days, while everybody else stayed on the "current" timeline?

Overall, yet another fantastic episode...but is it just me, or are we back to piling question upon question? I am as confused now as I was back in Season 1. Not that this is a bad thing, as I trust the writers to answer the questions in their typical mind-blowing fashion.

- What happened to change Sayid's mind?
- What happened to change Hurley's mind?
- What is the coming war, and why is Locke so important to the outcome?
- Are Widmore and Ben really on opposite sides of this war, or are they fighting some other entity, and they are just in disagreement as to methods?
- What is going on with Walt's dreams, and is he supposed to go back to the Island as well?
- What is going on with the separate timelines of the flight 316 survivors?
- WHAT IS BEN UP TO?!?!?!?
- Whose side is Christian/Jacob on?

Seriously, I could keep going....but it's getting late. Feel free to post any theories...I'm starting to feel like my brain is turning to mush. Am I missing some obvious answers to some of these questions I have?

Oh my nose bleeding?


I heart Kara Thrace...

Full LOST write-up still to come (probably tonight, maybe tomorrow morning), but for the BSG fans in the house, here is a quick study on everything that is teh awesomez about Starbuck.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Idol thoughts

OK, I'm going to go ahead and get this out of the way before we start, so that I don't have to keep going over it over and over again. For these first weeks when the top 36 are all performing, the producers allowed them to pick any song that has charted on the top 100 since Billboard started charting songs. There was a reason they left it this wide open. With the new format this year (only the top 3 survive the prelims), more than ever, you have ONE shot to make America vote for you. So there are no "themes"(no 70's, 80's, disco, Motown, whatever), because it's not fair to make someone sing a song that doesn't fit their style when this could be their only chance to make an impression. So there is NO excuse for some of the choices we saw last week, and many other choices we saw this week.

I think too many of the contestants are actually out-smarting themselves, trying to find a "song" that's going to make an impact rather than trying to find a "performance" that's going to make an impact. If you have been singing for any length of time, you know that song that comes on the radio that you sing along to and think, "Dang, I sound GOOD on that song." THAT IS THE SONG THAT YOU SHOULD BE SINGING ON AMERICAN IDOL. Now is not the time to be stepping out of your comfort zone and showing different sides...we haven't really even seen the FIRST side yet.

I can tell the judges are really frustrated (except for Paula, who is just stoned). They know these people can do better than this, they are just shooting themselves in the foot with stupid choices over and over, and it's making the judges look like they were smoking crack when they chose these people for their top 36 (which in some cases, maybe they were...more on that shortly).

OK, on with the show...

1) Jasmine Murray - "Love Song": Here is kind of what I'm talking about...I really LIKE this song, and it could be a fun little performance, but it does nothing for you as a vocalist. So what Jasmine did is try to oversing it, especially in the beginning, to turn it INTO a song that will show off what she can do, and subsequently went completely off pitch. She got it back in the chorus, but from there it just went from off-pitch to boring. I have no idea whether she can sing or not, based on that performance, and that's her fault for picking the wrong song. She's cute, though.

2) Matt Giraud - "Viva La Vida": On my bad side immediately for picking a Coldplay song, but let's see how he does with it. Ummm...not good. He seemed EXTREMELY nervous, which I don't know is just a product of the enormity of the moment or the fact that he is used to his piano. Either way, he sounds very shaky. And now he just went into falsetto, and it was worse. Ending was painful. Wow...this is one of the early frontrunners ( had him #1 in their "Power Poll" for some reason), and he just took himself right out of the running, in my opinion. Judges may bring him back for the Top 12 on the strength of his performance in Hollywood, especially since they will be able to go back to their instruments at that point.

3) Jeanine Vailes - "This Love": You know why Blake Lewis always picked songs like this? Because he knew he wasn't that great a singer, and songs like this don't expose that lack of vocal ability. So if you CAN sing, why would you pick a song like this? Again, Jeanine fell into the same trap as Jasmine...she's taking a song that is NOT a singer's song and trying to overcompensate by oversinging, and it's causing her pitch to end up all over the place. At one point, it sounded like her mic was turned up WAY too loud, and she was overpowering EVERYTHING, but it was not the mic's fault...she was just screaming her way through her vocal runs, and it was not good.

Wow, we are off to a terrible start...maybe there is someone coming up that can turn it ar-....

Ugh. Never mind.

4) Nick/Normund Mitchell/Gentle - "And I am Telling You": First the good...maybe the best song choice of the night. This blustery melodramatic song is perfect for his vaudeville act.

You know the drill...he hits the stage, hams it up all over the place, falls on the floor in front of the judges. I admit, I did laugh when he addressed "Doogie," but that was more about my love for NPH than anything else. And then it's over. Oh, and the judges spend the whole time fake laughing like it's the funniest thing they've ever seen.

OK...this is one of those times where I have no idea what the judges/producers are thinking. We've seen this exact same act from this guy, what, like 3 times now? I admittedly thought it was pretty funny the first time, and I didn't mind them sending him to Hollywood, actually. But what exactly are we trying to accomplish at this point? To me, if you put somebody in the top 36, then you must feel they have some shot at going farther than that. At least, you BETTER, otherwise you are giving someone else's slot away who actually deserves it based on ability. And, based on some of the judge's comments last night (other than Simon, of course), it sounds like they actually WANT people to call and vote for this clown*. If that's the case, I have no clue what the judges and/or producers actually want this show to be. The Gong Show, maybe?

The early audition rounds are when we expect to see this crap...there is no reason for it to still be on my TV screen at this point. If he makes it to the Top 12, then this whole season is a joke, and the Powers That Be will have nobody to blame but themselves.

*I'm not denigrating him by calling him a clown...that's what he is. I actually don't blame him for ANY of this, as I'm sure he never actually expected the judges to take him seriously, and they just keep passing him on through.

5) Alison Iraheta - "Alone": (PLEASE, PLEASE be good...this show is beginning to suck my will to live)

OK, let's address the pre-performance "interview" first...they really didn't have to mention the fact that this girl goes to public school. Her utter inability to carry on a conversation demonstrates that fact completely. I have looked for the video for this catastrophe, but I can't find it yet...I'll post it once it's up, because I can't really find the words to describe it. Other than "vacant."

THEN she informs us that she will be singing "Alone." She says it's by Heart, but let's get real...Carrie Underwood took full ownership of this song back in Season 4, and every time somebody else sings it they will be compared to her. Unfavorably.

After this performance, it's still Carrie's song, but Allison rented it, and did a pretty kick-butt job with it.

So I was fully expecting this to be a disaster. Then she started singing. LOVED her. Great raspy quality to her voice (not like a 16 year old at all). A little shouty in the chorus, but this is kind of a shouty song. Looks kind of like a red headed Alicia Silverstone (including the whole talk-out-of-the-side-of-your-mouth-like-Drew-Barrymore thing). By the end, I'm thinking, "GREAT song choice." Come right out of the box, don't play it safe...if you can sing THAT song, then this is the week you sing it. Good grief, out of all of these people this was the LAST one I was expecting to be labeling the "smart" one, but there you go.

6) Kris Allen - "Man in the Mirror": Never seen this person before in my life. Much like....umm...(Ricky? I think?)...last week, he has now passed through my subconcious, never to be remembered fully again.

I will say this, just as an aside...Michael Jackson is a better vocalist than he gets credit for, in my opinion. His songs are much more difficult to sing than you might think, to the point where I would almost put him in that "untouchable" category where you only sing one of his songs if you know you can NAIL it.

Kris sang it OK, and seems like a nice guy and all, but I don't see him gaining enough of an audience with that performance.

7) Megan Corkey - "Put Your Records On": OK, confession almost every season, I develop a massive crush on one of the female contestants. This season, I think it's Megan Corkey. So, I am going to be making no effort to be unbiased and balanced in my critique of her. I LOVED THIS. Yeah, yeah, she was "pitchy" in parts...but she has a great tone to her voice, very unique, and this was just a really FUN performance. And she's HOTTTTTT.

8) Matt Breitzke - "If You Could Only See": Bad, bad song choice. I'm with you, Matt...I love the song, too, and it IS in fact a great love song. But this isn't about singing your favorite songs. Save that for Karaoke Night at Ethel's Bar and Grill. This is about proving you belong here, and that song did you no favors. Neither did your "performance" thing I can say about that is that you dance like a welder.

Also, like I said last week, now is NOT the time to be going after Simon. You haven't proven anything yet, and that just makes you come off as petulant and unable to accept criticism.

Bottom line...he's a nice guy, but he's not ready for this. And he KNOWS it, which is why the claws came out at Simon so quickly.

9) Jessie Langseth - "Bette Davis Eyes": OK, she should be glad I'm not a judge, because to me all future performances of this song will be judged as to how they stack up against Buckwheat.

Not sure how I felt about this one, honestly...I like the tone of her voice, and I liked the spunk she showed in her pre-performance package when she talked about using the criticism as fuel. But there were many times that she was only AROUND the pitch here, especially in the upper register. She is one that will be hurt by the new format...I'd love to see her stick around for a week or two and see what she is capable of, but she didn't do enough to make top 3, I don't think, so I guess we'll never know.

10) Kai Kalama - "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted": Nice guy, nice voice, creepy facial expressions, NO chance of going any farther.

Sorry, Kai, it's getting late and I gotta wrap this thing up and take it to the house...

11) Mishavonna Henson - "Drops of Jupiter": The BEST part of this whole segment was her voice. Here are my complaints about the rest of it:

- The gender switching in the song was unnecessary - it's not a love song, you would have been perfectly OK singing "her" and "she." I know it's not a big deal, but when performers do that to a song it always takes me out of the performance a little bit...partially because I'm trying to figure out why it was necessary, and partially because I keep waiting for them to forget to switch out the words so I can laugh at them.

- Again, this is NOT a singer's song. Just because you LIKE a song doesn't mean you should be singing it at this point in the competition.

- The echo effect was very distracting.

- The judge's criticism was NOT helpful. I hate it when they say things like "Be younger" and make no suggestions as to how to do that. She should just be HERSELF, because if she starts trying to fake "young," she'll end up like Stevie Wright, and nobody wants that.

All of that combined to take away from what was actually a very good vocal performance. Stinks for her.

12) Adam Lambert - "Satisfaction": This is the guy that I really wanted to see. His voice is RI-DIC-U-LOUS. I actually am suspicious that he sold his soul or something in exchange for that voice, because to be able to do what he does, go off into the stratosphere without even CONSIDERING falsetto, just powering it out, is...not natural in any way. An amazing vocal instrument.

What I've been worried about is EXACTLY what he talked about in the pre-performance video package...he's very experienced in musical theater, and it's going to be a huge adjustment for him to get used to performing to a camera right in front of him rather than performing for the back row. Good to hear him acknowledge that he needs to tone down the facial dramatics and dial back the over-performing a bit.

So then he starts singing, and I start to wonder if that was actually his twin we saw in the video package (or maybe he's a CYLON!!...there are MANY copies!!!) because he does NOT seem to be following his own advice. Seriously, he's having eye-sex with the camera that would make freakin' CONSTANTINE blush. The vocal performance is of course amazing, if a tad "indulgent" as Simon likes to say, but he HAS to learn to turn the dial to about a 6 if he doesn't want to start turning people off.

Simon nails it in his criticism, as usual...people will either love that or hate it. I loved it, because I love him, but I am nervous about his staying power if he keeps that up.

Dude is also VERY cocky...he KNOWS how good he is. I actually prefer that to the Melinda Doolittle "Who, little ole ME?" thing, but he has to be careful of that, too.

OK, let's wrap this thing up with a couple of random notes...

- Paula was in rare form tonight. And she was really exposed when it was her turn to go first in the Judge's Round Table thing they had going tonight (which I liked)...without hearing somebody else go first, she really struggles to formulate opinions.

- Why IS Neil Patrick Harris there? I don't mind it, obviously, but it just seems strange considering his show airs on a rival network.

- Brooke White gave an interview to TV Guide this week where she made the very good point that she probably would have only been on the show for one week if they used this format last year. And that would have been a shame, because I really enjoyed her progression on the show, stumbles and all. The new format is a trade-off to hopefully keep somebody like Sanjaya (or NORMUND FREAKING GENTLE) from making the top 12 due to the Vote For the Worst crowd, and it's a trade-off I'm willing to make. But if Normund makes it into the Top 12, then that whole format change has been for nothing, and all it's done is short change a bunch of young performers who could benefit from the extended exposure that the old format gave.

Who I voted for: Adam, Allison, and Megan.

Who will make it: Adam, Allison, and...Normund. Serves the idiots right.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Initial reaction to Lost

I'll have my full recap up in a couple of days...lots to process here. But holy crap...Terry O'Quinn acted his butt off in that episode. Just an amazing, heart-wrenching, mesmerizing performance.

And can there be any doubt anymore as to who the good guys are in the whole Widmore/Ben battle?

OK, be back later...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blogs I need to stay away from at work..

I've discovered that, if I want to a) keep my job, and b) maintain any level of productivity, I have to stay away from these sites at all times while at the office. These can easily knock out 2-3 hours of my day.

Dispatches From the Island, a blog by Jorge Garcia (Hurley). Just discovered this one the other day (h/t to Shan), and immediately killed about three straight hours going through the archives. This is mainly just a bunch of random stuff that he comes across or thinks of, but every once in a while you'll get some pretty cool behind-the-scenes Lost stuff as well. Mainly, he's just a funny, self-deprecating guy. And he likes fart jokes. Bonus.

The Fug Girls. I know absolutely NOTHING about fashion. In fact, my fashion sense seems to be stuck somewhere around 1997...lots of plaids and Dockers in my closet. And yet, this site never stops cracking me up, plus there's a fair amount of eye candy, as well.

Ugly Baseball Cards. This one isn't updated as often, but every time it is, it's Gold, Jerry! Gold!.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dollhouse kicks it up a notch

Warning - Don't read this if you haven't watched last night's episode and you intend to:

Well, THAT was an improvement. A highly entertaining hour of television. Last week, I felt like I was kind of grading on the curve...if it hadn't been a Joss Whedon creation, I probably would have been a lot harder on it, but because I WANT it to be good I gave it a pass.

No need for a curve on this week's episode...that was an intense, tightly written episode. The two main concerns I had last week were Eliza Dushku's acting and the lack of a compelling reason for the client to engage the Dollhouse. I had neither of those concerns after this episode.

This week, I was very impressed with would expect her to do well in the kick-butt outdoorsy persona, and she did. But she was also more believable in the other aspects of the character as well, like when she was terrified in the cabin and, especially, as she went through the internal struggle when Boyd was trying to get here to "come in." Her facial expressions started to go "soft" as the "Everything is going to be all right" conversation started, but then you saw her imprinted persona (maybe...or maybe it's Caroline's persona?) take over and she flipped the script, literally, on both Boyd and the client. Nuanced and effective performance.

As for the client, makes perfect sense for him to go to the Dollhouse for this particular little "adventure." He needed somebody that wouldn't be missed if she didn't get away, and somebody who wouldn't/couldn't go to the authorities if she did manage to escape. Also, he's obviously done this many times before, and was looking for more of a challenge, so the idea of having the "perfect" prey would have certainly appealed to him. Psycho.

Also, got a good bit of background on Boyd and Echo's relationship, and the active/handler relationship in general, as well as the Alpha story (think he's the creepy naked guy who is helping out Ballard?).

Wish this one would have been the pilot...hopefully, enough of the "casual" fans who tuned in last week decided to give the show another chance, because this one would have hooked me even if I wasn't predisposed to enjoy it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thoughts on Lost - 316

Whew...these posts are getting intimidating, as the writers find new ways to somehow cram about 2-3 hours of material into hour long episodes. Let's get to it...

First of all, the title "316" obviously refers to the flight that our O5+1 choose as their vessel back to the Island, but I think we can also infer some deeper meaning, especially in light of Ben's Bible lesson that we will get to shortly (or...not so shortly, depending on the length of this post). This could definitely be a reference to John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." In this episode, we have one who has sacrificed himself for the good of his friends, and if they will simply believe in him, trust that his sacrifice has meaning, then they too might not "perish." And, of course, the sacrifice in our story is named John...obviously, John 3:16 refers to Jesus Christ the Son, but I think the writers were obviously going for symbolism in this reference, and the fact that the verse is found in the Book of John certainly helps that symbolism.

On to the show...

- OK, I'll admit that for a brief second I thought that we were back to the crash of 815 with the opening shot of Jack's eye that mirrors the opening shot of the Pilot episode. But only for a could tell by Jack's reaction that this time was very different. In the Pilot, he was confused, disoriented, frightened...but this time he looks positively EXCITED to be back.

In the Chronicles of Narnia, even when characters have seemingly forgotten all about Narnia and have no desire to go back there, when they actually do get back they always feel a rush of excitement, rebirth, and the feeling that they are back HOME. Even though Narnia is not their birthplace, it somehow becomes their homeland. There are lots of C.S. Lewis references the last couple of weeks, and Jack's reaction reminded me of those children who have made it back to Narnia.

- And immediately, through this mini "flash forward," the stage is set for the episode: OK, they made it...but last time we saw the group trying to get back it consisted of Jack, Sun, Ben, and (maybe) did that group morph into this one? And how did they actually get back? Great storytelling technique.

- OK, more C.S. Lewis...the Dharma Station (and I definitely gave a little fist-pump when I realized that's what the lab was...our first off-Island Dharma station) is called The Lamp Post. In "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", the gateway back and forth from Narnia to the "real world" was marked by...a lamp post.

- I could barely pay attention to what was being said (much like Jack, who was reprimanded by the suddenly very school-marmish Eloise) because I was trying to absorb all that was in that station. Even after looking at the screen captures, the most interesting thing I could come up with was that the 1954 Army photograph that Jack was looking at was taken almost 50 years to the day before the crash of 815 (9/23/54 vs. 9/22/04). Other than that, the only conclusion I could come to was that the place looked REALLY cool.

- JACK: Is he telling the truth?
ELOISE: (smirking) Probably not.

Heh. Yeah, is his mouth moving? Then he is almost definitely not telling the truth.

- Wow. That was a LOT of information we got from Eloise. Between this and the data dump we received on Battlestar Galactica last week, I feel like my brain is swelling.

OK, so we got some confirmation of a couple of things that have been theorized about quite a bit on the interwebs. Although she never actually said the words vile vortices, her explanation was certainly along those lines...that there are certain areas on the Earth that have a unique energy that causes "windows" between those places and others. This has been a theory used by many in the Lost community to explain how all of these vessels coming from vastly different places and heading to vastly different destinations (Flight 815, The Black Rock, the Nigerian drug plane, Desmond's boat) have all ended up on the Island, as well as both Ben and the Dharma polar bears somehow popping up in Tunisia. I'm not going to get into all of the pseudo-science here, but you can follow the above link the Lostpedia page dedicated to the theory and get all you want and more.

- Other info received: the Island is always moving. So if it's always been moving, why is it only now becoming a problem for our nose-bleeding Strandaways? Here's my theory: yes, the Island has always been moving in both time and space; remember Daniel's little experiment with the payload last year when we discovered that there was a 31-minute discrepancy in time between the boat and the freighter (that's moving in time), as well as the fact that only by staying on a SPECIFIC bearing could you make it on and off the Island (that's moving in space). However, whatever the Frozen Donkey Wheel is attached to was keeping those movements somewhat controlled. Now that Ben has knocked the Donkey Wheel off its axis, the movements are becoming more erratic, frequent, and seismic in nature, which is what is causing the problems.

- A "very clever fellow" realized the way to find the Island was to track it both through space AND time, rather than just space. Any theories as to who that "clever fellow" may be? Daniel? Pierre Chang? One of the infamous Hanso clan? Gerald de Groot (one of the founders of the Dharma Initiative)? Don't know yet, but I will bet we find out.

- Desmond's little rant is pretty much EXACTLY what I would have said if I was in his place, but I would have said it as soon as I walked in the door and saw Ms. Hawking. I never even would have followed her downstairs after what happened the LAST time he listened to her. Guess his curiosity level is higher than mine.

- "The Island isn't done with you yet." "Well, I'm done with the Island"
Oh, yeah? So was Michael...ask him how that turned out.

- OK, so I understand (sort of) the pseudo-science behind having to fly through a specific "window" in order to get back to the Island, but I don't understand the necessity of recreating the 815 crash. Obviously, there are powers other than science that must be appeased Daniel said last week: empirically, it makes sense, but once you start talking about bringing those people back you leave science behind.

Or, as Eloise puts it later...stop thinking about how ridiculous it is, and just decide whether you believe enough to take a leap of faith. Once again, just like in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" when she described the anti-parodoxical "course correction" version of time travel that we were going to be seeing in the Lost universe, Ms. Hawking is tasked with being the voice of Darlton. In a nutshell: stop trying to figure it out, trust us, and come along for the ride.

I'm down with that.

- OK, how is it that Ben is sitting in a church, either praying or pretending to pray, and NOT being struck by lightning?

- Loved the Bible lesson on Thomas, especially his conclusion that "We're all convinced, sooner or later." This is another in the many indications that we have been receiving this season that Jack is going to have to make the transformation from the Man of Science that he was in the first four seasons into the Man of Faith in order to fulfill what the Island has dictated as his Purpose.

The creepy part for me, personally, was that I used this same example for my Sunday School class a few weeks ago, making the point that you never know which of your decisions is going to be the one that makes your reputation (in Thomas's case, he is not known as Brave Thomas or Loyal Thomas, but instead Doubting Thomas). So Ben and I are on the same page, when it comes to Biblical doctrine. ::shudder::

- Put me FIRMLY in the camp that believes that Ben left with the intention of killing Penny. A "promise to an old friend" about a "loose end that needs tying up?" Yep, that reeks of the conversation we saw him have with Widmore last season, where he promised Widmore that he would kill Penny in retaliation for the murder of Alex.

- OK...that whole scene with Jack's grandfather was just really weird, even after viewing a second time. I can't put my finger on it yet, but I think his "grandfather" is going to end up playing some sort of role in this whole thing. First of all, I'm not convinced he is his "granddad," as he seemed awfully young. Second, what is he even doing in a home? Seems to be the picture of health, both mentally and physically? And then those shoes just "happened" to get mixed in with some of his own things? The shoes of his dead son? Not buying it, sorry.

On top of all that, it just seemed an awfully long way to go in order to get to some shoes. It would have been MUCH easier, and made more sense, to just say that Jack's mom sent JACK a box of his dad's things, and the shoes were in there. No, this character and this scene are here for some other reason, we just don't know what it is yet.

I think the magic show portion of that scene was there as some sort of clue, I just don't know what it means yet...we even saw another white rabbit. Remember, the episode where Jack first sees his father and tracks him through the jungle is called White Rabbit, and of course we've seen white rabbits show up in other crucial moments in the show (Ben's little trick on Sawyer, the Orchid video where Chang sends a white rabbit forward in time).

- "Don't ask me any more questions about Aaron." "OK."
WHAT???? Kate shows up at his house virtually catatonic, obviously upset, without Aaron (Jack's nephew), and he accepts her insistence that he just not ask about him anymore? Really?

Well, Jack may not be allowed to ask, but I sure as heck am: WHERE IS AARON? Did she give him to Claire's mother, or maybe Cassidy? Did Claire show up to claim him? Did she throw him over a bridge? And if so, did he somehow levitate back to safe ground, since the Island is not "through with him"? (I just made that up, but how cool would THAT scene be?)

I think that the first possibility is the most likely, especially since Claire's mother is in LA oh so conveniently. I just thought it was awkward writing that Jack simply accepted that request at face value. But...we're not done with Aaron, obviously. He may not be going back to the Island with them at this point, but I still think he is going to be of some major significance to the storyline later.

- And we finally find out why Christian was traipsing around the Island in a suit and tennis shoes, rather than dress shoes. Now we just need to figure out where the Club Med casual wear he is currently sporting came from. Maybe he and Jacob both wear the same size, and he just borrowed something out of Jacob's closet.

- "Why hold on to something that makes you feel sad?" Umm...I think maybe Kate's not just talking about the shoes?

- BEN: "I've been, uh....sidetracked." Yeah, looks like it. Looks like you have been sidetracked by a woodchipper, and then tossed in the water.

Speaking of water, he's calling from a marina. Where you park boats. Like what Penny would be on.

So, who beat the crap out of him? Desmond? Sayid? Widmore, or (more likely) somebody Widmore sent to protect Penny? Penny herself? (Hee)

Maybe it was Little Charlie: "Stay away from my Mum!!" as he beats him about the face with a Transformer and tosses him over the side.

- And, as we see Jack putting his dead father's shoes on to dead Locke's feet, we see that Jack has indeed come full circle. He is now a Man of Faith. Couldn't help but think of all of those great debates that Jack and Locke have had, in which Locke has always been trying to convince Jack that he was indeed a believer, he just didn't know it yet. I agree with Jack...if Locke IS seeing this somehow, he is thoroughly enjoying himself.

"You wanted me to go back...I'm going back." (Cue huge lump in Scott's throat, not to mention ginormous goosebumps)

- Both the man behind Jack in line and the officer escorting Sayid in the airport are going to be recurring characters. They are actually listed on the cast list as "Caesar" and "Ilana", rather than "Wee Little Middle Eastern Looking Fella" and "Lady Cop Who Looks Enough Like Ana Lucia To Make Everybody Look Twice". The few mini-spoilers I read before the season started included that these would be recurring idea what part they will play, but look for them to show up again somewhere.

- Speaking of Lady Cop, why was Sayid arrested? And why were they transporting him to Guam? Well, there are any number of reasons that Sayid could have been arrested...he IS an assassin, after all. Maybe one of the people on Ben's People Who Must Die list were killed in Guam and Sayid is being extradited there? Just a thought...

- Just like Hurley to buy up all of the remaining seats to put as few people in jeopardy as possible.

- OK, so...who did Hurley talk to that told him a) which flight to be on, and b) to bring a guitar. To me, the guitar obviously is a "proxy" for Charlie (as they are trying to recreate the original flight), so did Charlie pay him a visit? If so, that blows my earlier theory about Hurley out of the water (that Hurley is in fact delusional, and the hallucinations he is having are simply hallucinations born out of his own delusion, not instruments of the Island or some other force). But it would be really cool, so I would be glad to be wrong.

- So, the Hurley with the guitar represents Charlie. Sayid has taken Kate's place as the "prisoner." Ben takes Hurley's place as the late arrival. Locke is Christian. Can any of you think of any others that I'm missing?

- Wait, one more...maybe Kate is pregnant after her roll in the hay with Jack, and she is now representing Claire?

- I love how every time you start to think Ben may be a little bit sympathetic or (gasp) human, we're reminded of just what a psycopath he really is. "What's going to happen to all of these other people?" "Who CARES?" Nice.

- "We're on the same plane, Jack. Doesn't make us together." OUCH. That was harsh.

- "This is your Captain, Frank J. Lapidus."



OK, this would be cool enough just on its face...but remember, Frank was SUPPOSED to be the Captain on 815, but he called in "sick" (Heinekenitis, probably...same thing that used to inflict Bob Horner when the Braves had day games). So now, as they go back, he takes his "rightful" place as the Captain. Awesome.

- And Frank gets the line of the night: "Wait a second. We're not going to Guam, are we?" HA!!

- "How can you read?"
"My mother taught me."

Another great line, perfectly delivered by Michael Emerson, and yet another lie by Ben, since we know his mother died during childbirth.


Remember, in "Man Behind the Curtain," Ben saw his mother out past the Smokey fence and told her he wanted to be with her, and her answer was "Not yet." So maybe on some other timeline, maybe the one Ben is trying to correct somehow, Ben's mother really DID teach him to read.

Yeah, I know, far-fetched...but too far-fetched for this show? Who knows?

- So Jack's fear is that Locke blames him somehow, and Ben assures him that it is not his fault. So, what does the letter say? "I wish you would have believed me." Yeah, that ought to soothe his conscience.

- Wow, that flight attendant took quite a shot when she was thrown into the plane wall.

There has been some question in what little I've read (I try to stay away from recaps until I've written mine, so as not to start mixing up my thoughts with someone else's and forget to give credit) as to whether the plane did in fact crash or whether our folks simply flashed out of there. Based on the violence of what was going on in that scene, along with the previously mentioned new characters who were on the plane, I think the plane did in fact crash SOMEWHERE. But, like Ms. Hawking said, the fact that the 815 crash could not be replicated perfectly has led to "unpredictable" results. So now, Jack, Kate, and Hurley are in one place (and one time, apparently), and who knows where Sun, Sayid, Ben, Lapidus, and the rest are?

- By the way, the shot on Jack's eye that we saw again here reminded me of when he looked over and saw Vincent in the Pilot episode, which reminded me to ask again: WHERE IN THE &!%*$ IS VINCENT??? I swear, if anything happened to that dog, Darlton and I are going to have harsh words.

- Another classic "LOST" goosebump moment, when the Dharma man is revealed to be Jin.

So, here's my theory on that...when Locke turned the Donkey Wheel the last time, we saw another flash. I think at that point Jin, Daniel, Sawyer, Miles (as well as hopefully Rose, Bernard, VINCENT, etc) flashed into late-1970's Dharma world. We have already seen Daniel working in the Orchid station, and Charlotte already told Daniel that she saw him back in her Dharma days as a young girl. Now Jack, Kate, and Hurley have flashed into that same time. I have no idea, however, where or when the rest of the passengers on the plane are right now, or how they are all going to meet up.

I can't wait to find out.

Tune in next week as we see what my favorite TV character of all time has been up to.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

LOST continues to bring the awesome

OK, I will have my full recap up in a day or so, after I get a chance to re-watch and fully process, but I wanted to go ahead and profess my undying love and devotion to the Lost braintrust after yet another episode chock full of teh awesomez...

This is the first episode of the season that we have ended an episode with more questions than answers, in my opinion. This was, of course, a regular occurrence for the first 3+ seasons. Off the top of my head:

- Why did Locke have to kill himself?
- Did Ben go after Penny (I think the answer to that is YES)
- What happened to Ben that he looks like he put his face through a cheese grater? And does it have anything to do with Sayid being in custody?
- Why was Sayid being transported by the authorities to GUAM, of all places?
- How did Hurley know which flight to get on, and why was he bringing a guitar?
- What happened to Aaron? (or am I not supposed to ask that, Kate?)
- Where did everybody else go (Ben, Sayid, Sun, Lapidus)?

I'm sure there are more, but it's getting late and my brain is fried...I'll be back later with my theories as to the possible answers to these questions, as well as any other I lay awake in bed tonight and think of.


Idol thoughts

DISCLAIMER: American Idol is my brain candy. I know all of the reasons it's a horrible show, a pox on America, etc. But I grew up as a Performing Arts geek, and these people...well, they're my people, warts and all. On with the show...

Well, we finally made it out of the auditions and into the actual performances. I am very interested in how the new voting structure will work. I think it will ensure a better Top 12 by hopefully weeding out the "Vote For The Worst" crowd, but I am also concerned that if one of the weeks was a little "top heavy" in talent there may be too many good ones sent home in a week, with limited opportunity to bring them back as Wild Cards. (Un)fortunately, being top heavy in talent was NOT an issue this week:

1) Jackie Tohn - "A Little Less Conversation": Started out OK...I like the quality of her voice, kind of a smokey bar-band sound. But as the song went on, the performance became more and more over the top...too much face-pulling, cutesy, "come-on-everybody" for me. I think she wasn't really getting the crowd reaction she was hoping for, so she really overdid it with the theatrics. It's a shame, too, because I thought her style could have made the top 12 more interesting, less generic, but her ride ends here.

2) Ricky Braddy - "A Song For You": Have I ever seen this person before? Maybe I have, and he was just so boring that I immediately forgot him. Wow...fantastic voice, one of the best if not THE best vocal of the night, and I like this song, and....and....ZZZZZZZZZZ.

Sorry, I must have drifted off there...where was I? Was somebody singing? What was his name again?

Simon is right, as usual. Great voice, zero star quality, and no matter how many times Randy tries to tell me otherwise, this is NOT a singing competition. They are looking for stars, and this guy is not that.

3) Alexis Grace - "I Never Loved a Man": See, and here is what I mean...she is not even CLOSE to the last guy (good ole whats-his-name) as far as vocal talent, but she's a good performer, she has a great look, a good story, a decent voice, and (most importantly) an IDENTITY as to who she is as a performer. This is the same type stuff we've seen her do all along, and she does it very well. She took an Aretha song, modernized it just a smidge, but still left enough of the old soul in it that it fits her style, which is a bluesy kind of soul thing. Love her.

4) Brent Keith - "Hicktown": This is the guy who was already on Nashville Star before this one, so he has experience in this sort of thing...but you couldn't tell it. He looks very uncomfortable on stage, with his eyes betraying his nerves. This was the WRONG song for him. He should have have gone country ballad, which wouldn't have required him to move around so much, because that "dancing" contributed a lot to the awkwardness. Plus, the song did not show off his voice at all. I just think he would have been much better served doing the "sit on a stool with a guitar (whether he can play one or not - you can fake it), stare into the camera and make all the female country fans go weak in the knees" type song and that would have been playing to his strengths.

Then, he made what is usually a fatal mistake...he smarted off to Simon. Bad idea, dude. You can do that later in the season, but you haven't earned enough points to get away with that yet.

He was still pretty ticked when he got to the Coke room, too, and made no real effort to hide it. I don't think that did him any favors, and neither did his comment that "This is the type of album I am gonna make." Well, then, that settles it...I ain't voting for you, 'cause that would be a crappy album.

5) Stevie Wright - "Some Crappy Taylor Swift Song That I Didn't Bother to Learn the Title To About Cheerleaders and Other Chicks Who Aren't Cheerleaders and Good Lord This is AWFUL": WOW. That was...ugh. This one was literally painful to watch. I'm sure it was 90% nerves, which you could tell because she was gasping for air by about halfway through. She is only 16, after all. But....yeah. Bad song choice, sung badly, with an absolutely MANIC performance. Seriously, her eyes were crazy like WHOA. Nice knowing ya, Stevie...hopefully, there is no therapy in your future resulting from this experience.

6) Anoop Desai - "Angel of Mine": SAVE US, ANOOP!! I love this kid. Great personality, great voice. I was not a big fan of this song choice for him, but I thought he did a nice job with it. The fear I have with him is that he may be pigeon-holing himself as a one-trick pony (all R&B, all the time), and it's always a dangerous idea on this show to let the judges put you in a box ("You need to get out of your comfort zone and step out of the R&B box....hey, what are you doing out of that box? Get back to what you are comfortable with!"). I did think the judges were especially hard on him for some reason. I have a feeling he may go home tonight, and be brought back as a wild card.

7) Casey Carlson - "Every Little Thing He (She) Does is Magic": First of all, I hate it when people pick songs where they are going to have to change the gender, especially when it means you're going to have to change a word in virtually every line, due to the repetitiveness of every song written by Sting. Which, by the way...what was up with Kara saying that everybody avoids trying to sing Police songs? When was freaking Sting elevated to the Whitney-Stevie-Mariah-Chaka "You Should Never Try to Duplicate These Vocal Masters" level? Did I miss a meeting?

Anyway...this was not good. Bad song choice, sung at a Bowling Alley Karaoke level, with a bunch of stupid faces thrown in for good measure. Casey is actually one who is really going to be hurt by the new rules. In years past, she would have skated through the first few weeks just based on her looks, but there is no way she is going to be top 3 (nor should she be after that performance), and the judges certainly aren't bringing her back, so this was it for her. There's always the lucrative bikini calendar market.

8) Michael Sarver - "Don't Wanna Be": Good grief, I'm tired of this song. Seriously, Gavin Degraw? Given the choice to be ANYBODY else, you would still choose to be Gavin Degraw? I have a hard time believing that.

Anyway...Michael Sarver. Nice guy, nice voice, HORRIBLE song choice. Seriously, what is up with the song choice tonight? They left it wide open...any song on the Billboard 100 chart since the chart started, which is another way of saying "any freaking song that has ever been recorded that anybody has ever heard of ever." So, Michael picks this god-awful annoying song that only Bo Bice could get away with, that doesn't show off his talent at ALL. Just like Brent Keith, he would have been so much better off doing a ballad, looking lovingly into the camera and trying to take advantage of his good looks and soulful voice. Instead, we have to see more white guy "dancing" and listen to him start to run out of breath due to all of the bouncing around.

He won't be in the top 3...depending on who else goes through (Anoop), he might make it through on a wild card.

9) Ann Marie Boskovich - "Natural Woman": I think she has the voice to sing this song well, but she was another one who just does not look comfortable on stage. I'm not sure what "you make me feel like a natural woman" means, what with me not being a woman, but I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to mean "you make me VERY ANGRY," which was the vibe that Ann Marie was giving off last night. As far as the vocal performance, it was pretty bad to start, but she brought it together pretty well at the end.

You know, the more we hear from the women, the better I feel about Anoop's chances to make the top 3. ANOOP!!!! (sorry, I just like saying his name)

10) Stephen Fowler - "Rock With You": This one really irritated me. Seriously? You forget the words TWICE during Hollywood week, including the last one where you WALKED OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF AN AUDITION, they STILL bring you back for some weird reason, and THIS is the best you can come up with? Next.

11) Tatiana Del Toro (aka The Bane of Scott's Existence) - "Saving All My Love For You": Oh, Tatiana. Performance critique first: Good voice, maybe the best female vocal of the night, but no real stage presence.

Now, on to what Tatiana is really about, which is her mental state. This is when I got really angry at the judges...number 1, they all voiced SURPRISE that she sang really well. If you did not expect her to sing well, why in the name of all that is holy is she STILL ON MY TELEVISION SCREEN? Oh, that's right...because she's crazy. You could see the disappointment in the judges when they didn't get the full scale freakout they were hoping for. The problem is that, like all crazy people, she is also unpredictable, so while you wanted The Crazy (it is in fact the ONLY reason you kept her...because she's crazy) what you got instead was...whatever that persona was last night. See, this is why you know the crazy is not an act...because when she goes for "subdued" she misses "subdued" completely and ends up at "severely medicated, and possibly homicidal."

The only judge who thinks she is worthwhile in the least is, of course, Paula. Those two are soulmates. Watch Paula when she tries to act get the same result. Dead, expressionless face, but you can look in the eyes and just SEE the crazy trying to come out.

And...she almost made it. But, then as Ryan is giving the phone numbers, a little crazy finally leaked out. Ryan jumped about 18 inches in the air after her inappropriate touching started, and then she let loose that crap about how this is Her Dream, and that America somehow owes it to her to vote for her. GAH, that ticks me off. Listen, moron, there are 35 other people there who want this just as badly as you do...this show is not called Tatiana's Crazy Dream About Being Famous. Why does the fact that this is Your Dream cancel out everybody else?

Moving on.

12) Danny Gokey - "Hero": OK, maybe I'm still just in a bad mood after having to sit through the Tatiana Show, but this whole thing is really starting to irritate me. Let me count the ways:

1) Stop talking about your dead wife. I let it slide at the initial audition, since it had just happened 4 weeks ago, but we all know the story now, and the more you talk about it, the closer it gets to exploitation. Trying to get us to vote for you. Using your dead wife. Stop it.

2) The puppy dog and rainbow routine. Yes, I know...he's a church music director, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. But he is RAPIDLY approaching The Archuletta territory with this crap. I mean, of freaking COURSE he sang Hero. Next time he'll sing that Whitney song about how the children are our future (which has turned into a really scary song for me...I mean, have you even NOTICED what kids these days are up to?), and then he'll sing You Raise Me Up, followed by a From A Distance/Wind Beneath My Wings medley, followed by me hanging myself with a rope of crystallized saccharine. And after every song, he'll talk about how he hopes it was an inspiration to everybody, and he just wants everybody to gather strength and hope from his performances, and....ugh. I know, I know, I'm a horrible person. I can't help it. It's just too much.

3) The RIDICULOUS amount of praise lavished on him by the judges. He has a good voice, and he is a pretty good performer (if you can get past the earnestness), but he is not NEARLY as good as the judges (other than Simon, of course) make him out to be. As a matter of fact, I agree completely with Simon last night (as usual) was good, not great.

He will obviously be in the top 3, and he is obviously going to stick around long enough to cause me to despise him in an unhealthy way, unless he changes things up a bit.

Other random thoughts:
- The production of the show was really off last night...the sound was never really right in the Coke room, they had the wrong tape miscue, they kept going to some random camera that looked like it was set up in some kind of hall, the background singers mics weren't mixed correctly (one of the singers overpowered all of the other ones, and they were all too loud in comparison with the contestant's mic). I understand that it was the first live show of the season, but haven't they been doing this for a while now?

- Nice to see Dr. Horrible and Arthur Frobisher in the audience, although they didn't really look like they wanted to be there.

- How hard must have last night been for Friend of Dead Wife Guy (sorry, don't remember his name, but really this is the only identity he was ever allowed to have on the show anyway)? It had to have made him physically ill to sit through those trainwreck performances last night knowing that (were it not for the producers desire to have "characters" like Norman, Tatiana, and Nathaniel) for all intents and purposes, he should still be alive in this competition.

- The judges are already ticking me off by how rude they are to Simon. He sits there patiently while they ramble on and on spewing nonsense and gibberish (Randy and Paula), and then as soon as he opens his mouth they all fall all over themselves to interrupt him and tell him how wrong he is. Even Kara, who I had high hopes for, is threatening to turn this into Simon and The Useless 3, rather than The Useless 2 like it has been previously.

WHO I VOTED FOR: Anoop and Alexis. I actually tried to vote for Danny, believe it or not, but I couldn't get through and figured he probably has enough votes without mine.

My predictions for top 3: Barring some sort of voting disaster, it will be those three (Anoop, Alexis, and Danny). I seriously don't see anybody else worthy of a top 3 vote, did you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Token football post

- I haven't really posted anything about the non-stop thrill ride that is the Lane Kiffen administration, but that doesn't mean I haven't been enjoying it thoroughly...if you want to catch up on all that has been going on, there is no better place to start than right here. I would say the good Senator has done as good a job as anybody keeping up with the almost daily shenanigans.

However, probably my favorite quote regarding the whole situation to date was David Hale's:
My guess is that by Thursday of this week we'll have a story of Kiffin standing
atop Neyland Stadium, stoned to bejeezus on acid, screaming, "I am a golden
god!" while Ed Orgeron tries to talk him back down. That'll be fun.

Almost Famous reference, FTW!

- And, in Bulldawg news...Groo makes a good point regarding all of the "we're so much more motivated, we're working harder than ever" talk we are hearing out of the team the last few weeks. Can anybody remember an offseason where players were ever quoted saying "You know, I think we as a team have just decided to take it easy this year, and we'll just let the chips fall where they may"? Not that I don't think the players are being honest, but the true test of all of this will come in a few months, both in the offseason (no more stupid arrests, please), and of course the 1st weekend in September in Stillwater.

- I will finish up the series I started a few weeks ago on the Dawgs signees, I promise. As for why I stopped it, well, the next position on the list is WR/TE, and we're still waiting on Orson Charles, and I wanted the list to be complete. It's certainly not that the whole thing got dropped due to my writing volumes and volumes about GeekTV, no way.

- And to wrap up...Rennie Curran is a BEAST.

Essential reading for BSG fans

Not sure how many of my readers are also Battlestar Galactica fans (I know of a couple), but if you are then this Mo Ryan piece is absolutely essential reading. A lot to say in there from Ryan Mottesheard (who wrote the last episode "No Exit," an amazing feat for a first-time BSG writer!) and the inimitable Jane Espenson.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dollhouse premiere

Well, last night was the long awaited premiere of Joss Whedon's new creation, Dollhouse. I am a late addition to the Whedonverse, as I have embraced my inner geek late in life. I never really watched Buffy or Angel. My first real introduction to Whedon was Dr. Horrible, which I loved enough to go back and watch Firefly on Hulu. Firefly was fantastic, and my summer viewing project is to go back and watch Buffy. So, I was excited to be able to get in on the ground floor of a Whedon project for once.

On to the show...I thought it was pretty good as pilots go, but it's always tough to gauge how good a show is going to be just based on the pilot. In a pilot, there is always so much more to "do" than just tell a story, and that can lead to some clunkiness. You have to introduce all of the characters and give them a voice and a personality that can later be delivered in a much more nuanced way, you have to lay the groundwork for the overarching story, etc...

Overall, I think this pilot served its purpose...we know what the Dollhouse is (an illegal service that employees "actives," who have their own memories and personalities wiped and replaced with whatever the client wants, only to be wiped clean again once that job is over), we're introduced to the FBI agent who is trying to bring them down, we are introduced to the main characters. So, as a pilot, the job was done.

What I really didn't like about the plot of this one is that I never really bought the motivations of the client. If all he wanted to do was pay the ransom and get his daughter back without police involvement, why couldn't he just do it himself? In fact, if not for the amazing (and reality-stretching) fact that Echo was implanted with memories of a person who was kidnapped by these SAME kidnappers, then he would have in fact turned out worse by employing the Dollhouse...he still wouldn't have his daughter back, he would be out an additional $3M thanks to Echo's "negotiations," plus he would be out whatever ridiculous sum that he paid for Echo's services. I actually like the Dollhouse concept, and I think there are many different situations they could have portrayed that made more sense.

And...I'm not a big fan of Eliza Dushku as an actress, so I'm concerned as to whether she can pull this off. She's hot, no doubt...but she has always come off as wooden to me. And in a show like this she has to have the range to play essentially a different character every week. But, Joss has a good track record, so hopefully she'll prove me wrong. And, like Shan pointed out on his recap, it could be that the "characters" that Echo is portraying may be filtered through her original personality, so that would make it more feasible.

Despite what this post is starting to sound like, I actually thought it was an entertaining and engaging hour of television, and I will certainly be back next week. Some of the interviews and reviews I read said that due to network pressure, the first few episodes were written almost as stand-alone episodes, and the story will really start to pick up around 4-5 episodes in...hopefully, Fox will give the show time to build an audience, and I actually think the dreaded Friday night timeslot may actually take some of the pressure off when it comes to that.

I would probably give the pilot a B-, with definite potential for improvement.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thoughts on LOST - This Place is DEATH

Wow...that was a fantastic hour of television. There was so much going on the ENTIRE time that it almost felt like a two hour episode.

Let's get to it...this might be a long one.

- Well, right off the bat they discounted pretty much every theory I've had about Sun: JiYeon is not only perfectly fine, but also perfectly adorable. The anger that has seemed to consume Sun is in fact directed at Ben, not Jack.

And, in retrospect, that's probably what it was that made Sun seem so "suspicious" in the earlier episodes...she is in fact CONSUMED by anger. She came to the States specifically to murder Ben, and seemed almost nonchalant about it as she told her mother she was "just finishing up what she came to do." Like she just came over to look at some real estate or something.

OK, let's do the Island stuff first, and then come back to the O6:

- Like I said in my earlier post about Little Prince, Jin has to be flipping out. Last time he saw Danielle, she was 16 years older and a freaking WARRIOR, not this sweet naive young mother he sees now. But after taking a minute to try and get his bearings as to what is going on ("No, what YEAR?"), he was like, "Know what? Screw it...where's Sun?"

- "First a boat, now a helicopter. Next thing you know he'll be talking about a submarine." Well, now that you mention it...we DID have one of those, till Locke blew it up.

- Jeez, Montand is a TOOL. Hopefully, something bad will happen to him soon that will shut him up...

- In an episode full of sad moments, one of the saddest to me was seeing how happy Danielle and Robert were together, and how excited they were about their coming child. Think about what was to come for this little family...soon, Danielle would be putting a bullet in Robert's head. Their baby would be kidnapped within the first couple of weeks of her life and raised by a psychopath, not to be reunited with her mother until 16 years which point Keamy will put a bullet in her brain just as she is hearing the only father she has ever known basically disown her and claim to have no interest whether she lives or dies. Knowing the end of the story made the image of the happy couple with the baby on the way bitterly ironic.

- SMOKEY!!!! It was great to have the monster back, and it was cool to see it from the perspective of the Frenchies. The whole scene was very reminiscent of the early days on the Island, up to and including the dead body dropping out of the sky (like the pilot in the..ummm...Pilot) and Smokey trying to pull somebody down the hole like it did with Locke. It was nice to be reminded of those early days when we were just being introduced to the craziness of this Island, and we saw that in the reaction of Danielle's crew.

- Way back in season 1, Danielle mentioned that "Montand lost his arm," and ever since it had almost become an inside joke among many in the online community...when were we going to find out how Montand lost his arm? Well, now we know. Holy crap. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, but that was still pretty brutal.

- And, obviously, that was Smokey doing a Montand impersonation, just like he impersonated Yemi and (possibly) others. No way Montand recovered from having his arm ripped off quickly enough to be fairly calmly asking that they come down in the hole with him.

Unfortunately, I sort of ruined the suspense of that scene for myself, because all I could think of was the first "Austin Powers" when Dr. Evil sent Will Ferrell's character down the trap door:"Hello? I'm still alive, but I'm very badly burned!" Maybe that was just me...

- So, Jin saves Danielle from the "sickness" by stopping her from going down the Smokey hole. I know it was probably just part of his broken English, but I thought it was interesting that he told her, "You DON'T go" rather than "You CAN'T go." Sort of like Ms. Hawking told Desmond, "You DON'T buy this ring." It was obviously very important to the future timeline that Danielle not succumb to the sickness, give birth to Alex, survive for the next 16 years, and help the Losties. So, if Jin wasn't there, would something else have happened to "course correct" Danielle? I have no freaking clue at this point, but it's interesting to think about...

- So was this temple the same one that Richard and the Others hung out at last season while Ben was running around the Island with Locke? I would say yes...he did say it was the only safe place on the Island, and you certainly can't have a better security system than the Temple does.

Darlton has said that from now on every time we see Smokey, we will learn something more about him. I think what we learned this time was that Smokey is NOT an invention of the Dharma Initiative that somehow went rogue, or anything else that recent. That temple has been there a while (note the hieroglyphics), and Smokey was designed to protect it. I would say Smokey dates back to at least the 4 toed statue days.

- The pillar of smoke that marked Danielle's camp was also reminiscent of so many scenes from earlier seasons...I think that at this point the writers are intentionally dropping these images into the story. It's happening too often to be a coincidence. Another one we got tonight was that one of the French castaways was a musician, just like one of the Losties, which I wouldn't think was necessarily important if they hadn't made it so obvious that we were supposed to notice it. I think there is going to be some kind of "time loop" element to what the overall story turns out to be (for you BSG fans, kind of a "All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again" thing).

- One of the things I'm enjoying about this season is that we are seeing so many things that make up the backstory that we have heard about earlier. All of the stuff with Danielle's crew (the numbers being broadcast over the radio, the "sickness" and Danielle's killing spree, Montand's arm) have been part of the mythology for so long that it was really cool and rewarding to actually watch it happening.

- It was nice to see Sawyer's reaction to seeing his old friend alive and well. Genuine happiness is not something we get to see a lot on this show, and that was a good example of it.

- "Where's Sun?"
(awkward silence)....
And when we DO see genuine happiness, it usually doesn't last long...

- "You heard the man, translate!"
"He's Korean. I'm from Encino."

HEE. I heart Miles. Sawyer has finally met his match.

- Yeah, Charlotte looked CREEPY as she delivered the episode title after falling out again. Those eyes freak me out.

- Locke continues to morph into another version of Ben (again, all of this has happened before...). He looked right into Jin's eyes and flat-out lied to him. He had no intention of trying to prevent Sun from coming back.

Absolutely heartbreaking to watch Jin basically make the decision that he will never see Sun again (not to mention his at this point unborn child) in order to keep them safe. When he took that ring off he was in essence ending their marriage, a huge sacrifice in an episode that was full of them.

- Locke is still my favorite character on TV: "What would be the fun in that, James?" Followed by an almost boyish grin that he seemed to try and hide, considering the seriousness of the moment.

- And, in another rare nice moment, someone finally thanks John for doing what he can to protect his friends and the Island.

- OK, so this last flash took them to a time where neither the Orchid nor the well long ago must that be? Think we might see a little 4-toed statue action?

- Let's look at the last conversation Charlotte has with Daniel. First of all, FANTASTIC scene. So sad to realize that this Island has been her Moby Dick, and now that she finds it, it kills her. Somebody call Alanis...THAT is irony.

We received quite a chunk of backstory on Charlotte (backstory that I think we may have received in a more drawn out flashback if the writers had time last season, cut short by the WGA strike). She did in fact grow up on the Island. Her parents were part of the Dharma Initiative, but at some point she and her mother left, leaving her father behind. She was obviously pretty young when they left, otherwise her mother couldn't have gotten away with telling her she made up the Island.

By the way....Charlotte is of course Charlotte Staples Lewis, an obvious reference to Clive Staples Lewis, the author of Chronicles of Narnia, a series of books where children somehow travel to a magical place where time seems to move at a different pace, only to be told by the adults when they return that no such place exists and they must be imagining it. Just thought I'd point that out.

OK, so Daniel shows up in Charlotte's memories telling her that she can't come back to the Island or she will die. This is part of an ongoing conversation I am having with Shan, both at his blog and mine regarding linear memories, and what happens when one of the characters has a conversation in the "past" that they don't remember until it actually happens in the "present," as another character is skipping around in time and encounters them. It's enough to make your head explode (or at least give you a nosebleed, right, Shan?), and this is already long enough, so I'll just say this. Charlotte tells Daniel she "just" remembered the confrontation with the scary crazy man. My theory is because that encounter had not occurred until that point in time, and a future version of Daniel has gone back and tried to warn Charlotte away, despite his own insistence (and obvious truth, since she's dead) that future events can't be changed. Maybe it's even during the time that we have already seen him hanging around the Dharma Initiative, back in the season premiere.

And although I think Charlotte really is dead (they did, after all, play the "Charlie's Dead" music as they panned away from the scene), I don't think we have seen/heard the last of her. We still have to learn who her parents are, and I am particularly interested in her father that she and her mother left behind on the Island. Also, we have to find out the significance of her fluency in Korean, since it seems to be important somehow.

- On to Locke, once again losing the use of his legs. Again, all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again...

I can't even begin to hypothesize on what all his conversation with Christian means:
  • Is Christian truly working for Jacob? If so, why the disdain for Ben...I thought they used to be friends?
  • Does this mean that Locke was actually NOT destined to be a leader of the Others? If Locke had been the one to turn the Wheel, Ben would still be leading the Others, and Locke would be the one off the Island.
  • Christian never mentioned the fact that whomever turned the wheel could never come back...was Ben telling the truth when he told Locke that? I'm starting to think he was not, since Ben is obviously trying to get back now...
  • I had actually forgotten that Locke doesn't know Christian as Jack's dad...he only knows him as the old dude who was hanging out with Claire in Jacob's cabin and acting as Jacob's mouthpiece.
  • Which reminds me...where the heck is Claire?
  • Isn't Locke still not following the instructions properly? HE is supposed to bring back all the people who LEFT. Instead, BEN is bringing back (some) of the people who left, along with himself.
Woah...that was a TON of material, and we haven't even gotten to the O6 yet...

- OK, Kate is convinced that Jack has lost it...she's taking Aaron and skedaddling. Sayid is DONE with this crap. Hurley is still in prison (although that should be remedied tomorrow morning). Seems like the whole scheme to keep all of the O6 together is falling apart rapidly, no?

- Loved the scene with Ben yelling at Jack and Sun. As several people have mentioned, this reminded me of many many road trips with me and my brother in the back seat of the car squabbling... "Knock it off! I WILL stop this car!"

As for the content of his lecture...I'm still not sure of where Ben/Christian/Widmore/Jacob/Hawking fall on the whole good guy-bad guy spectrum, so I don't know what to make of his complaints. Either he really is trying to protect these people, as well as trying to maneuver them all into correct positions while not being able to fully communicate to them what his motivations are...or he is the psychopath that we have all come to know and love, and this is just more of Ben being manipulative by trying to make himself seem sympathetic to those who he is manipulating.

- Speaking of Ben, I think he did NOT know that Hawking is Faraday's mother. You could tell by the look on his face when Des showed up looking for Daniel's mum. That's interesting.

- Think Desmond was surprised to see his old friend Ms. Hawking? That would have been enough to send me screaming into the night, running all the way back Penny, considering the last run-in he had with her.

- OK, I'm confused...roughly two days ago Hawking told Ben that they ALL had to come back or, QUOTE, "God help us all." Now he shows up with exactly TWO of the O6, plus Desmond (who I'm not even sure counts), and she's like, "Cool, let's get started."


Well, only 5 more days, and maybe we'll find out!

I'm off to enjoy a geektastic night of TV...Terminator, Dollhouse, and BSG. Check out Dollhouse if you get a chance...the next brainchild of Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and of course Dr. Horrible himself).