Tuesday, February 9, 2010

simply sliding between realities

it's taken a week for my thoughts on "lost" to settle. that's how mind-blowing the premiere was. as last season came to a close, i was adamantly against a reset. for one thing, i felt it would eliminate the five seasons that came before. i should have realized that there didn't need to be an either/or situation for the producers. because lost has excelled at training it's audience to follow two completely disparate storylines, showing us a reset of flight 815 and the continued story from the island is simply brilliant.

the new flash sideways structure allows us to explore both possible outcomes to the hydrogen bomb's detonation, and ultimately i think that was the absolute right decision for the show. lost will struggle to find the absolute right ending, or rather it will struggle to find the absolute right ending that will satisfy one and all. but these first two hours of the final season proved that the writers know what they're doing. and that the best thing to do is go along for the ride.

it's so nice to see sawyer again. i missed him on my screen. and it will be interesting to watch his arc this season, dealing with his intense grief brings him closer to the angry, uncaring guy he was in the first season. but we know he has changed, and it will be fascinating to watch his journey this season. meanwhile the person sawyer is on the plane is more lighthearted and flirtatious than the person he was in the pilot.

it will actually be interesting to see who emerges as leader this season. because jack is as lost as sawyer on the island, crippled by his apparent failure to reset their lives and the deaths of juliet and sayid that weigh on his conscience. jack is a fixer, and unfortunately he hasn't been able to fix the situation on the island, seemingly he's only made things worse. and this season will be about him coming back from that. hopefully, it will be interesting for once. [sorry, he's still my least favorite character.] on the plane jack is less assured, more scattered than the jack we met that first episode. in some ways it's as if the experience on the island already weighs on him, but it hasn't happened and it never will. the parallel journey will be just as fascinating to watch, because i think we will see what it is about this group of people that keeps them in each other's orbit.

ultimately that is the central conceit of the show. that is the ultimate question i would like to see answered, what is it about this group of people that caused their paths to intersect in so many ways both on and off the island, in the future, in a parallel reality, and in the past.

in the parallel reality it was nice to see a couple of familiar faces. boone. artz. frogurt. charlie.

how the lives of those who died or were left behind will be reflected in the parallel reality will be good television.

in the meantime, the show has already started getting us some answers. for one thing locke isn't locke anymore. he's dead.

the locke that has been walking around. that locke is probably the same man in black we saw talking with jacob in the fifth season finale. that locke, that man in black is also the smoke monster. yes, we FINALLY found out what the smoke monster is. and it's awesome to finally have an answer.

how notlocke will affect the passengers of flight 815 will be another thread to watch this season.

images courtesy of abc.com.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

simply all about chuck

after last season's surprising turn of events and unexpected renewal, there were, at least in my mind, a lot of questions about what would happen next on "chuck". how would this show manage to evolve without losing what made it so charming in the first place? i have a well-documented love of spy shows, see "alias", and it's also no secret that when i was little, in the height of the cold war, i thought that being a spy would be a cool career. which all feeds into why i love "chuck" so much. the premise that a regular guy gets involved with a spy world that is over his head is an excellent fodder for both drama and comedy.

but when chuck downloaded the intersect 2.0 into his brain, giving himself a whole new set of abilities that make him an even more powerful asset for the u.s. government, you had to wonder where it was all going to go. what is great about the writing staff on this show is that they recognized that their characters needed to evolve in order to further the story, but they didn't force change on them that wasn't natural or organic to who their characters were. and having watch so many hours of television in my life, and seen many a writer force a character into acting completely out of character for a simple plot point, this was a wonderful turn of events.

the first six hours of the third season have been phenomenal. chuck still has to prove himself as a spy, but is clearly growing into his role and getting better at it all the time. but he still needs casey and sarah, it is interesting to watch his former handlers manage chuck's transition into the full-time spy world. casey is both protective and ready to throw chuck out into the world, willing to give him a chance to prove himself, but always ready to be there as back-up should he fail. and because chuck's emotions often get in his way, he is certainly lucky that he has casey there as back-up. sarah's role as handler is even more complicated. in many ways she is like a mother hen, refusing to let her chick leave the nest. but both sarah and casey's superiors, the general and the mysterious shaw, believe that it is past time for chuck to step up to the spy world he wants to be a part of.

this provides some interesting conflict. from the first two episodes we learn that sarah tried to escape with chuck. she commits the ultimate no-no in the spy business, falling in love with her asset, and she wants to protect and preserve the things that make chuck, chuck. she knows that the more time he spends in the spy world, he will lose something of himself, and she knows this because she has lost so much of herself in this life that she's chosen. but chuck isn't ready to give up on the spy world, not because he thinks it's cool and badass after so many years of being a lovable loser at the buy more, but rather because he understands that what he can do, can serve the greater good, he can't turn his back on his responsibilities, not for his own personal gain. because he does love sarah. and she loves him in spite of herself. but because everything has changed, they can't go back to where they were.

and so they forge on ahead. but the conflict between them, and between their emotions, lies just beneath the surface. and it has been fascinating to watch. it has also been endlessly satisfying to see chuck grow into his own as a spy. yes, he isn't ever going to be the best. chuck is no james bond. but he gets things done in his own offbeat way and his ingenuity and ability to complete missions are things that the cia should be happy with.

but the more involved he gets with the spy world, the more his personal relationships suffer. by necessity he must lie to everyone, needs to keep his nearest and dearest in the dark. the sole exception, awesome, who found out about chuck's double life in the finale. watching devon deal with his knowledge of chuck's second career has been great, because we learn that there is one thing that devon is not good at. he is a terrible liar. and as chuck gets him through some sticky situations, awesome comes to appreciate chuck's abilities.

devon's initial reaction to chuck's spy life was to see it as something cool and exciting. but then when he's accidentally involved in a mission, and he begins to see the downsides and the complications that this spy life brings into his own life, and realizes that there are a lot of reasons not to envy chuck for it.

chuck as spy versus chuck as regular guy. chuck's spy life versus chuck's personal life. and how the people around him react to these conflicts will chart the course of the season. what a wonderful season it has been so far.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

simply the year in review: extremely overdue

the start of the year is always so hectic, you both want to start things fresh, but you have so many things hanging over your head from the previous year. that's why it's always nice to reflect on things. 2009 was a strange year. a lot of celebrities died unexpectedly. life itself has been insanely busy. i traveled so much, that now as i face a year with less travel, i'm not exactly sure what i should do with myself.

the nice thing about a new year is that you get to figure it all out. but before i get to that, here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2009:

the good

grey's anatomy's creative resurgence
at the end of 2008, grey's had sunk pretty low. izzie was having sex with visions of denny. the show had ceased to be compelling. but then, a turn-around marked by the new year, izzie's cancer storyline went full steam ahead, the character's suddenly grew up, with meredith and derek finally committing to each other in a meaningful way, alex and izzie took the plunge into marriage and adulthood, all of this leading to an amazing season finale that ended it's final moments in a cliffhanger that put two main characters in peril. the reveal that george was the john doe whose body was so inured and mangled that he was rendered unrecognizable, was shocking and was a twist worthy of some of the show's better moments. the fall 2009 season has continued the excellent balance of medical and personal story, as well as the personal growth of the characters. things aren't all rosy in grey's land, but that's actually a good thing, and it seems like we'll have some juicy story to go along for the rest of the season.

chuck gets a third season
chuck is really the little show that could. in the closing moments of the 2009 season finale, chuck managed to both resolve all of it's storylines and set up the series for even more amazing storylines. (i've got a post pending on how that's turned out.) when nbc surprisingly renewed it for a third season, it was the best news of the summer.

90210 becomes a guilty pleasure
the first season of the 90210 reboot was hit and miss. it spent a lot of time trying to build on nostalgia for the original, without playing to the strengths of the characters and actors it was developing. with a new showrunner in by the end of the first season, you could start to feel the difference. focusing on the characters that really clicked with the audience, bringing in some new blood, the show is actually firing on all cylinders. yes, it is preposterous and ridiculous. but it is also so completely fun to watch.

was so amazing it blew my mind. i pretty much covered every episode on this blog, and it was great. it was the year of sawyer in my mind. and that made it even better. what a great season. what amazing things does the final season hold for us? i can't wait to find out.

vampires rule the world
true blood and vampire diaries take over the television airwaves and all is good. there are pretty people, juicy storylines (both appropriate to the medium they are broadcasting in), and vampires. if anything 2009 was the year of vampires. surprisingly, the only vampire thing i didn't participate in, was the one thing everyone else did. twilight. i still haven't read you. and i'm not sure i'm going to. it's also unlikely that i will watch the movies. for now, both true blood and vampire diaries are enought to whet my bloodlust.

the bad

how i met your mother stops being awesome
when the fourth season finale hinted at a barney-robin romance, i was thrilled. here were two characters with incredible chemistry, who were both emotionally stunted, who could have a fantastic opportunity to grow together. unfortunately, the writing staff didn't see it that way. instead of having an unconventional romance develop between two characters who don't do conventional romance, they forced them into a completely traditional relationship. even worse, they lumped them in with lily and marshall in ways that were just not funny. what's amazing about the whole thing is that it's proved that ted really is the glue that holds the whole series together. the show needs to move something forward this coming year, introduce us to the mother, something needs to happen that will actually let these characters grow without them losing their personalities. because they will become caricatures of themselves if they don't grow. and the show will really stop being funny. and that is the opposite of awesome.

gossip girl neuters chuck
suddenly the show is a lot less interesting. there are several issues in play here. 1) the fact that most of the core cast have graduated high school is a problem. 2) chuck should have more to do week on week than being the voice of reason. the fact that chuck is the voice of reason is a major problem. 3) they need to figure out better ways to bring the whole cast together. right now the cast exists in these different story bubbles, but the show works so much better when the bubbles intersect with each other not when they float along each in their own merry way. 4) the show should spice things up in ways that are organic to the story and not just to make media headlines. the threesome storyline was actually a snooze. maybe the problem was the fact that both vanessa and hilary duff weren't the more interesting characters to be involved with it. nonetheless, the show needs to be better about adding the right blend of spice to the story.

the ugly

general hospital
so this was the year i broke up with gh again. nothing good is happening in port charles, at least from what i can tell. i wish sonny wasn't billed as the hero of the show, especially considering his blatant hatred and mistreatment of women. you would think that the writers would consider the audience, but they don't. i read a bunch of vintage romance novels this year, and what is amazing about this is that often times the novels from the 60s and 70s i've read have more advanced views on women than gh does. that is a terrible thing to realize. and having to make the effort to watch became too much. i can only hope that it doesn't win yet another daytime emmy for best writing. because, seriously, it's not okay.