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Lost’s elegant elegiac ending

As it begins, so it must end.  After six strong seasons, one of television’s most profound and baffling dramas has come to a close.  Lost – what was it about?  What do we know?  And did it really matter?  Let’s discuss.

First I’ll say the usual blah-blah SPOILER ALERT, because I’m about to talk about last night’s finale.  And if you still haven’t seen it and you’re reading the internet, what are you thinking?

All photos below courtesy ABC.com

Gut reaction – I really liked the ending.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, but then again I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Maybe I thought it was going to be focused on free will and the Losties would end up deciding whether to live in one world or another.  But of course what we learned was that this new world wasn’t so much a world at all.  It was what I’d call a collective unconscious meeting place.  And what a great place – hey, Juliet!  Missed you!  Oh look, it’s Shannon!  Ah…the joy of reunion.  Because really that’s what the finale came down to – a way to reunite the characters we have loved and lost over the years in a place of peace.  As they said goodbye to each other, we were also able to say goodbye with a smile and a tear.  What we needed was closure with our friends, and that’s what we got.

Now, let me tackle some of those burning questions and choice moments from last night’s marathon episode.

So the sideways world isn’t real?

I’d say this is one area left up to interpretation and will be debated for years to come.  On the one hand you might say that it wasn’t, as the description from Christian Shephard implied that Jack had created it in his mind.  But it wouldn’t make sense that it just sprung from Jack’s mind – take Ben, for instance.  Jack’s mind would have no idea or perception about Ben’s storyline involving Alex and a certain woman with a French accent.  That’s why I favor this idea that it’s a place of shared experience, and some will be there for some time “working things out” while others will move on when they are ready.  I’m still a little unclear as to why Eloise didn’t want Desmond to “take Daniel away,” however.

And the mystery of the island is what exactly?

Clearly the metaphor of the island is mythical.  I think of it as Pandora’s box in reverse.  In the classic Greek myth, Pandora opens the box and releases all manner of evils into the world – envy, anger, pride, etc.  But she closes the lid just before hope escapes.  On our island, I think those evils are contained (corked, if you will) and what’s holding them in place is a powerful wellspring of faith and positive energy.  By replacing the stone, Jack ensured that evil wouldn’t spill out and extinguish the good.

Which leaves Hurley as the new Cork Protector.

Yes – clearly Jack wasn’t meant to truly replace Jacob.  He did what he always needed to do – fix things.  His whole life was this constant attempt to perform a heroic act that would be selfless, but somehow it never worked out just right.  Finally he was able to do that, and let go.  Which leaves Hurley as the true man of faith and protector of the island.  Which is what I’d been hoping for last week, anyway.  Now he gets to star in his own island sitcom with Ben, in which they get into wacky adventures, occasionally encountering Rose, Bernard and Vincent!

So why was Desmond in the church, but Michael wasn’t?

Christian made it clear that these were the people that had a powerful effect on Jack’s experience at this point in his life, which explains why some non-Oceanic 815 people came to the party – Juliet, Desmond, Penny.  But I think this place in space/time/mind might have its own set of rules.  And I’m guessing murdering someone in cold blood for personal gain doesn’t go over very well.  Sorry, Michael.  Looks like an eternity of the whispers for you.

Any other thoughts?

I have to give props to Evangeline Lilly for this episode – I’ve found Kate such a difficult character to get behind for so long.  But in the finale she was amazing – I just loved her.  Easily her best performance since the pilot.  I also loved all the reunion moments and flashbacks, which reminded us how far we’ve come – like bringing Boone back – hello!  Sun and Jin made me cry for the umpteenth time.  The grins on their faces when they walked out of the hospital room looking at Sawyer – priceless!  It was all just well-executed – often you saw what was coming and didn’t care.  Then again, I predicted Eko would somehow officiate a service in the church, but I guess that would have been one step too far!  Ooh – and I loved that the stained glass window in the church showed many denominations to make it clear this wasn’t a church of a single faith – it’s just a place of spirituality.  Nice touch.

Jin Sun Lost finale

And before I leave you, let me offer some parting thoughts on the six seasons of one of my favorite shows.  I’m going to borrow from my pal Mr. Robleto (a.k.a. BabyDaddy) and answer his fun questions.

  • Most heartfelt moment: Well you know I’m a sucker for my girl Sun.  And her scene at Jin’s grave in “Ji Yeon” just about killed me.  Runner-up – Rose being reunited with Bernard in season 2.  That’s faith!
  • Best turnaround: Benjamin Linus, who turned from evil to good so often he’d give Dr. Jekyll a run for his money.
  • Most shocking twist: I still remember shouting out loud near the end of season 1 when Locke pounded on the hatch, and the light came on.  Whoa!
  • Most confusing Islander: I’m going to have to go with Walt.  Due to his premature exit from the show we never really closed the loop on what it was he could (or couldn’t) do, and why the Others wanted to capture him.
  • Most frustrating writing slip-up: Introducing Nikki and Paulo at all.   And giving them a full episode to star in.  Boo!  Heck, I’d take another Ana Lucia episode over “Exposé.”
  • Best of a bad situation: Sex in the bear cage.  Pretty much the only redeeming quality of that time on Hydra Island.
  • Worst of a bad situation: Fish biscuits.
  • Worst episode to date: “Stranger in a Strange Land” in which we learn that the origin of Jack’s tattoos is boring, and Bai Ling is a terrible actress.  I give this a slight edge over “Exposé” which at least featured a cool scene of Sun slapping Sawyer.
  • Best episode to date: Not a cop-out – it’s the pilot episode.  It was a cinematic tumult of characters and action that left me reeling and hungry for more.  And I came back every week for 6 seasons!

That’s it for now, folks.  Please feel free to add your questions and comments below.  I could talk about this for days, seriously.

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Je suis désolé

Do not read a word further, and do not even look at the pictures below until you have seen Lost‘s latest episode, ‘The Candidate!’

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Farewell my Lost friends.  You shall be so very missed.

Photos courtesy ABC.com

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Dixie Carter was a wonderful actress of the stage and screen, who passed away this week at the age of 70.  Although I’d mostly seen her on television, I did once get to see her on stage at The Shakespeare Theatre, performing in Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windemere’s Fan.  She was delightful to see.  (I heard some less flattering stories from backstage, but for today I’m focusing on the positive.)

Dixie had many roles, but none so memorable as her larger-than-life portrayal of Julia Sugarbaker in seven seasons on Designing Women.  It was a show that celebrated the power and humor of women and often took on controversial issues like pornography, the Anita Hill hearings and AIDS.  This combination of brutal honesty and brassy broads is why I think it has been such a favorite of gay men for many years.

Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Walk into any gay bar where the average age is over 30, and start saying this line at the top of your lungs.  “Excuse me, aren’t you Marjorie Leigh Winnick, the current Miss Georgia World?”  If you don’t hear at least half a dozen men quote this scene in full, then it’s not a gay bar.

So with fond memories of a favorite Georgia peach, I present a few more choice moments of Dixie as Julia.  She left a searing feminist mark on television that will never be forgotten.

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10 ways to make Glee the best it can be

As you know by now, I’m a tad obsessed with Glee, as is much of America (it’s the highest rated new comedy of the season).  When you are this fond of something, it’s natural to get picky and critical – you want it to be the best it can be!  And with Glee I worry about its long-term prospects; after all, in television it’s a marathon to get yourself to syndication.

So I’ve been working on this list.  In particular I was inspired by the episode “Wheels,” which I think was the best of the season so far.

 

10 ways to make Glee the best it can be


1.  Limit the amount of musical numbers, and make sure they serve the story.

One of the complaints the average person has with musicals is that they don’t believe people would just break out into song.  Occasionally that’s happened on this show, so…stop it.  If people burst into song it should be because they are, in fact, singing at that moment in the plot.  As far as the number of songs, I think three is a good limit.  In “Wheels” we had just the three numbers, each of which were well integrated into the plot.

2.  Always end with a big musical number!

A key facet of this show is that it ends on a high nearly every week, no more perfect than in the pilot episode.  Leave us with a knock-out every time, please!

3.  Focus on just two or three plot lines per episode.

The problem with some past episodes has been that they get too muddled as we follow a bunch of plot threads which are barely interwoven.  “Vitamin D” was a case where there was just too much going on, which left some of the plot dangling a bit.

4.  Tone down those love quadrangles.

Almost every great comedy has had some kind of major love connection that’s dragged out for a long time to add some tension.  The danger in that is that if you rely on it too much, when the connection finally happens the show starts to falter (see also: Moonlighting, Cheers).  So the writers would be wise to not make these groups of lovers (Will/Terri/Ken/Emma and Finn/Quinn/Puck/Rachel) such a heavy focus.

5.  Focus on more characters.

On all of the posters, advertisements and such there is a rather large cast shown.  Yet since then we’ve been spending so much time on the likes of Finn and Rachel that other characters are getting the short shrift.  What’s the story on Mercedes, other than a lack of gaydar?  Is there more to Tina than her supposed lisp?  What I loved about “Wheels” was that we got some good insight into what Artie is like, and even a bit more on Tina.  The second best episode of the season, “Preggers,” was focused on Kurt.  Keep that up!

6.  Make the characters three-dimensional.

In “Wheels” it took just one brief scene to turn Sue Sylvester from a two-dimensional caricature into a complex woman with hidden motivations.  Brilliant!  We need more of that.

7.  Deepen the bench.

Another challenge for this show is that the kids will “grow up” and eventually have to move on.  Let’s not fall into the same trap as Beverly Hills 90210 or Saved by the Bell!  To prepare for that, the writers need to start slowly introducing us to some of the second-stringers like Santana and “other Asian.”  An amazing new development has been moving Brittany to the forefront as the classic blond ditz who also has heart.  LOVE!

8.  Bring an end to the baby drama.

No offense to Quinn Fabray (love that name), but this whole baby subplot is getting tired.  In particular it’s ridiculous, because we’re led to believe that Will is so dense he can’t tell his own wife isn’t pregnant, and Finn is such an idiot that he doesn’t know how babies are made.  Let’s get to spring break as soon as possible to get this over with.  Remember that most sitcoms start to die when the leads get married or have a baby.

9.  The adults can’t overshadow the kids.

Yes, this show is meant to be a blend between what’s happening with the teachers and what’s happening with the students.  But the show is called Glee, which means it’s about the glee club first and foremost.  I’d rather not see another episode like “Acafellas” where it was all about Will, Ken and the like.  (Although I don’t mind some more of those cheesy 80’s boy band songs!)  The one exception to this rule – Sue Sylvester.  Please give us as much of her as possible.

10. Up the competition.

One thing that was so refreshing in some episodes has been the scouting of the competition.  We love our kids at McKinley, but it’s fun to see a completely different bunch performing in their own style (see also: Bring It On).  I wasn’t totally in love with this week’s episode (“Hairography”), but seeing some of the competition was fun.  Can’t wait for sectionals!

That’s my list – let me know what you think, and if you have ideas to add.

 

All images courtesy Fox Television.

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Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

And here, appropriately, is my favorite Thanksgiving moment from Friends.

If you’re not in the U.S. – happy Thursday instead!

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I just haven’t been gabbing about TV much lately.  Perhaps you’ve noticed?  No blog posts in weeks?  What could be causing this situation?

Hard to say – chalk it up to the mid-season doldrums.  I’m floating in a sea of “meh.”  Let’s do a quick run-down of my TV schedule and get at the problem areas.

Mondays are around strictly for comedy – The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.  Even though these are still highly reliable shows for good laughs (“Cat funeral…”), I think I’m craving a little more.  Maybe I was hoping there would be more laughs to be mined from the unlikely pairing of Robin and Barney.  And is the relationship between Penny and Leonard taking the edge off of Sheldon’s disdain?  No worries – these shows are still funny and I’ll keep watching.

Tuesdays just suck, honestly.  Can someone tell me what we should be watching?  Right now it’s Netflix night.

Wednesdays, on the other hand, are far too packed with stuff to watch!  5 different shows, at least 3 of which I watch live.  And they range from just OK to awesome.  First up there’s America’s Next Top Model, which is fast becoming the show I need to let go.  The novelty of short models wore off real quick, and most of these girls just aren’t good – Nicole’s the only one worth watching.  But it’s hard to watch her, because at every opportunity Tyra has made this show all about her.  I mean, come on – “smize?”  Unless the show gets awesome again fast, I think this is my last cycle.

Photo courtesy CWTV.com

Photo courtesy CWTV.com

The good show is definitely Glee!  Yes some of the episodes have had some not-as-great parts, and sometimes we’re concentrating on too many plotlines.  But you have to admit that when it’s good it rocks!  Jane Lynch is blowing the lid off this show time and again, and those musical numbers are just so much fun.  Long live this show!

Photo courtesy FoxTV.com

Photo courtesy FoxTV.com

Conversely I’ve been real disappointed in Top Chef.  It has just felt like the wheat (Jen, Kevin, the brothers) and the chaff (everyone else) are really obvious.  Can we just cut all the way to the finals, please?  I don’t know how many more weeks I can watch Robin skate by while waiting for the inevitable Jen vs. Kevin showdown.

So You Think You Can Dance is certainly gearing up to be a good season, but it’s felt like forever for us to get there!  How many audition shows must we suffer through?  I know that this week we finally get our top 20, but I’m afraid to believe it for fear that Cat will say, “But first – auditions from Omaha!”  On a side note – word on the street is Mia could be leaving the show.  Noooo!!!

There is one other new show this fall which has garnered a season pass on our TiVo, and that’s Modern Family.  It’s smart without being too smart, and silly without being stupid.   Great acting, and oddly relatable.  I’m hoping this one will be around for the long haul!  (But do me a favor, ABC – move it to a less busy night for my sanity.)

Photo courtesy ABC.com

Photo courtesy ABC.com

Thursdays are for more SYTYCD, and from time to time we might catch a little 30 Rock.  But we gave up on The Office long ago.  And then there’s Project Runway.  Let’s face it – this season went from fab to drab.  And I think it can all be traced back to inconsistency in the judging, which Nina has pointed to herself.  She swears things will be better next season when they are back in New York, to which I say – I hope so!  We don’t deserve to keep watching Logan making crap and skating by week to week.  (My early pick to take it all – Althea.  I think she’s been the most consistent.)

And that’s basically it for our TV week.  I don’t even watch The Amazing Race any more, so our weekends are wide open.

So what do you think – is this season living up to your expectations?  What’s failing and what’s flying?  And what really great shows am I not watching?

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And all the people sing Tomorrow

Glee premieres tomorrow

Don’t stop believing – that Glee premieres tomorrow!

Photo courtesy Fox TV

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