Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Posts Tagged ‘lost’

108 Remaining Questions on LOST

Posted by CJ Cregg on May 21, 2010

Dr. Candle returns with questions about this Sunday's finale

Dr. Marvin Candle returns with another guest post as we gear up for the 2.5 hour LOST series finale on Sunday.  In this post, he lays out the 108 questions remaining to be answered.

4 8 15 16 23 42

Dr. Candle writes:

On Sunday night, Lost has two and a half hours to clear up 108 mysteries. And then the show will be gone, just like that. Bloop.

The list of remaining mysteries compiled below is not for the faint of heart—heck, it might even give supreme list-maker Jacob a run for his money—but come Sunday night night, those of us who have caught the lost sickness and forfeited our souls can start pulling out our chalk and crossing out mysteries like candidates. Good luck!

Four Mysteries We Will Almost Certainly Get Answers to On Sunday Night:

  1. Is Richard dead? My guess is no.
  2. Where are Rose, Bernard, and Vincent?
  3. What did the dying Juliet mean by “it worked?”
  4. Who is David Shepherd’s mother? Hint: it probably has something to do with question 3.

Eight Major Mysteries That The Show Really Needs to Address:

  1. Why do pregnant women on the island die after 1977?  The answer likely has something to do with the Jughead explosion, but it’s still rather unclear if that bomb went off at all—and, hey, if people watching can’t tell whether or not a nuclear bomb exploded, the writers probably could clarify things just a little bit.
  2. How did the flash-sideways world come to be, and why is everything so different? Sub-mysteries involved in this one include: why doesn’t Miles seem to have his power in the flash-sideways? What is the blood spotting on Jack’s neck? Why was Desmond on the plane? Why wasn’t Shannon on the plane? Why did Claire go into early labor? Why are the lostaways’ lives so different in the flash-sideways world, even before the flight? Why is the island sunken? Why is Ilana an American lawyer—it implies that not only did the island sink, but that Jacob, perhaps, never existed.
  3. What exactly is the “sickness?” Does the monster control it, or does he merely take advantage of its mind-addled victims? And how did Dogen’s test detect it?
  4. Why did Jack, Kate, Hugo, and Sayid flash through time to 1977 when returning to the island (and not Sun or Ben, for instance?)
  5. What was the deal with Walt? What powers did he have and why (considering his apparently summoning the bird and having premonitions about the hatch)? How did he appear to Shannon, Sayid, and Locke when he wasn’t there? How did he contact Michael through the Swan computer? And what exactly happened during his time with the Others? The show has implied that dead mystics, like Jacob, can appear across the island at various ages. This explains “tall ghost Walt” IF Walt were a dead mystic. Maybe Walt had some Jacob-type power. Or maybe he died and got the sickness, like Sayid, but was immune to its soul-devouring influences as a child. Not sure. It leaves a big hole if left unaddressed in the finale.
  6. How did Miles gain his power?
  7. What prompted the Purge of the Dharma Initiative? Who ordered it and why?
  8. Are the numbers really anything more than a divine coincidence?

Fifteen Other Big Mysteries That Still Bother Us After Six Years:

  1. Why did the Smoke Monster kill Mr. Eko? Disagreements between writers and actors is not a legitimate excuse. The smoke monster judged him and deemed him unworthy. However, with what we know the the smoke monster now, here’s my theory (though it is a stretch): Eko was not a candidate, meaning Smokey could kill him. Since Smokey can take the form of those dead on the island, Smokey’s plan was to kill Eko, then infiltrate the survivors camp in Eko’s form, much as he did with Locke. Eko’s rising status in the camp as a kind of leader/prophet would have allowed Smokey to manipulate the lostaways. However, Locke and company found Eko’s dying body before Smokey’s plan could go into effect, meaning no one would be fooled by his disguising himself as Eko, so the plan never went any further. Not really expecting an answer on this one.
  2. Where did the Dharma food drop at the end of season 2 come from? Why? What is the state of the Dharma Initiative today?
  3. How did the Man in Black, as a boy, see his dead mother? It seems like all the other island ghosts were manifestations of the Man in Black, or visible only to Hurley, who has documented mental issues, allowing him to commune with the dead.
  4. How did Smokey appear at the donkey wheel to Locke while he was flashing through time? A few possible explanations: 1) the donkey wheel chamber is free from time shifts, allowing anyone who enters it to enter it in “real time,” regardless of time shifts, 2) the smoke monster can break into sentient pieces, leaving one to flash through time with Sawyer, Juliet, and the gang, and another to stick around in present time to talk to Sun and Frank in Dharmaville, 2007. Again, I’m giving the writers a lot of slack on what, really, is probably just a continuity error.
  5. Why do our heroes’ memories of their island lives only begin to set in AFTER the landing of flight 815?
  6. Why did the hatch doors say “quarantine?” Was it simply a scare tactic to keep hatch workers inside?
  7. When Locke saw the monster at the beginning of season 1, he saw a “bright light?” What exactly was he looking at?
  8. When Locke and Ben visited the cabin in season 3, what exactly was going on? It seems that “Jacob” was actually the Man in Black, taking advantage of Ben’s ruse of an “invisible” Jacob to manipulate both Ben and Locke into thinking they’d experienced a real Jacob where, in fact, Ben had never expected one. Was the Man in Black somehow restrained in the cabin? Not entirely, as smoke monsters and apparitions flitted about freely. The incident remains a mystery.
  9. Why did Ilana’s crew burn the cabin? Just out of spite? And with faith that the fire wouldn’t spread?
  10. If Jacob claims he doesn’t like to directly interfere with visitors to the island (to Richard, in “Ab Aeterno”), why does he bend this rule so clearly when off the island?
  11. How does Jacob get off the island and back again so easily, while the smoke monster is left there?
  12. How did young Ben get back to Dharma after being saved by Richard at the Temple?
  13. Who was shooting at Sawyer, Locke, Juliet, and the gang from the outrigger during the season 5 time flashes?
  14. Why did the Others (including former 815 passengers, like Cindy and the kids) not jump through time with the lostaways? There is maybe some sort of initiation ceremony conducted in the Temple than protects them from such effects—though this doesn’t explain why Juliet, a former Other, flashed through time.
  15. What is Ilana’s backstory?
    Sixteen Mysteries That Seem to Have Been Forgotten/Overlooked in Other End of Lost Mystery Countdown Lists:
  1. What was the deal with Malkin, the psychic? His own words imply somebody paid him off to get Claire on flight 815. It could have been Jacob, or Widmore, or Hawking.
  2. Why did the Others masquerade in rags? Maybe simply to hide their identity from outsiders, and to keep with Jacob’s simple lifestyle preference.
  3. Why did Desmond’s vision of Claire getting on a helicopter never happen? Charlie prevented Desmond’s other visions from happening exactly as Desmond had seen them. Maybe his “Not Penny’s Boat” warning changed fate in this situation also.
  4. Where does all of Ben’s money come from?
  5. Why did it seem like the cabin could move?
  6. Who was the real Henry Gale? How did he die? My guess/hope is he was working for Widmore.
  7. Why were the snippet of the Swan Orientation film and the glass eye in the Arrow station?
  8. In season one, Locke’s legs stopped working as he and Boone approached the Beechcraft. Why? It may have had something to do with the time flashes, as the last chronological moment that Locke has been to the place, he’d been shot in the leg (by Ethan), though he himself had not experienced this moment yet.
  9. In season 4, Jack saw a vision of his father and smoke alarm went off. Was this Smokey? If so, how was he off island? The easy—and somewhat cheap answer—is that Jack was merely low on sleep and half-dreaming/having a premonition about the smoke monster. The same explains Kate’s vision of Claire in a dream around the same time.
  10. Did a young John Locke somehow see the future, as demonstrated by his drawing of the bald man and the smoke?
  11. How did Charlotte Malkin see Yemi in a dream? Maybe this was just foreshadowing that an afterlife really DOES exist in LOST’s universe.
  12. Who exactly was Naomi? Why did she know so many languages? Why would Widmore hire her with knowledge of Desmond (and his picture, for some reason) but not inform her about the survivors of Flight 815?
  13. Did Richard really see Kate, Jack, and company die in 1977? He told Sun he did. So what happened when Jughead went off?
  14. When did the flash-sideways Ben and Dr. Chang get off the island? They were both on it when the Incident happened, but clearly both got off before it sunk. When and how and why did they leave?
  15. How did Smokey appear as Christian on the freighter if he can’t cross water in smoke form? Maybe he could before killing Jacob.
  16. What happened to Christian’s coffin in the flash-sideways world?

Twenty-Three  Mysteries That We’ll Just Have to Accept as Part of the Mystical Island Mumbo-Jumbo Explained Away With The Fairytale-Like Episode, “Across the Sea:”

  1. What is the island and the light? A locus of incredible energies. That’s all we’ll get. Deal with it.
  2. What is the monster, exactly, and why do ash circles apparently keep it at bay? And how did Dogen keep Smokey out of the Temple prior to his death?
  3. How does Jacob give life/immortality to those he touches?
  4. Why does the island heal? The healing energies are linked to the Temple spring, which is likely linked to the “light.” In fact, the Temple may be built over the “light.”
  5. What exactly happened at the hatch implosion? Likely a time-flash a la season 5, but on a miniature scale, flashing Locke, Eko, and Desmond out of the implosion crater and only a few hours into the future.
  6. What is the exact nature of the time anamoly and all it entails (Desmond’s premonitions, Desmond’s reception of a message from Dan through time, the freighter doctor washing ashore before his own death, Faraday’s rocket experiment, the time-jumps, etc.)?
  7. Why did Jacob’s mother kill his birth mother?
  8. Why had no one seen Jacob’s lighthouse before? Besides that, what is the whole deal with the lighthouse? Who made it? How does it work?
  9. Why can the candidates see dead Jacob?
  10. What was up with the message in the ankh? Dogen said it was a warning to protect Sayid, but why go through all that trouble, especially in transporting it through time?
  11. Where did the giant statue of Tawaret, the temple, the tunnels and the ruins come from? A documented long history of peoples come to and settling on the island is likely the only answer we’ll get.
  12. How did the Beechcraft transport to the Island?
  13. Why did the Ajira flight need to recreate the circumstances of the 815 crash?
  14. What are the “rules?”
  15. Why is Smokey stuck in Locke’s form after killing Jacob?
  16. How did Jacob find/select the candidates?
  17. Why did the freighter crew suffer from such strong “cabin fever?”
  18. What was the exact nature of Richard Alpert’s test for the young John Locke?
  19. Why couldn’t Michael kill himself? And why, later, was it okay for him to die?
  20. What caused Ben’s tumor and Jack’s appendicitis?
  21. How does flash-sideways Hawking seem to know about the other universe?
  22. How was the camp of the Man in Black’s people destroyed in 43 AD? Allison Janney may be awesome, but come on.
  23. How did a dying Charlotte know the donkey wheel was beneath a well?

Forty-Two Minor Yet Totally Legitimate Mysteries That You Won’t See On Other End of Lost Mystery Countdowns:

  1. Why was the iteration radio signal being broadcast when the Ajira plane went down? Hadn’t Jack changed the transmission at the end of season 3?
  2. When Kate woke up in 2007 after the Incident, why was she in a tree?
  3. Why did Charlotte know Korean? She had no good reason to know it. A fun explanation would be that Jin taught it to her as a child. It’s possible.
  4. Who were Karl’s parents? He could not have been conceived on island, so why was child brought there?
  5. Did the Others start with Richard’s arrival on the island? Sure. Why not. Makes sense.
  6. In season 5, Hurley and Miles carted the body of a man named Alvarez to Dr. Chang. Why did the body need to go to Chang, and what happened to it?
  7. Why would Widmore rig the Ajira plane with C4? Just as a last resort to keep Smokey on the island? Explain the logic to me.
  8. Who was chasing Sayid at the beginning of season 5? Probably Ben’s agents, prodding him towards a return to the island.
  9. What happened to all the other 815 survivors after the time flashes? Probably killed off by Others, or assimilated into them.
  10. Who was the “her” that Juliet resembles for Ben (alluded to in season 3)? Probably Juliet herself, who saved Ben when he was a child.
  11. Why was Nadia killed? Ben claims Widmore did it, to get Sayid back to the island. I guess that makes enough sense.
  12. In season 2, we learned that Penny was engaged while Desmond was in prison. Who was her fiance?
  13. Why was Desmond in prison? Probably for deserting during one of his time flashes.
  14. How did Miles know Charlotte had been on the island before by the end of season 4? He likely put it together after being on the island. He’s a clever guy.
  15. How did Ben’s mom appear to him on the island? Usually, Smokey needs the body to be on island to take its form. The only good explanation is that Roger packed Emily’s ashes, or maybe had donated her body to Dharma.
  16. Why was Kate in Australia? And how did she get there, if she was a fugitive in the States? She is a clever girl. And maybe used her honeymoon tickets.
  17. What was the point of the Pearl Station observation tubes? I think the answer is nothing. The pearl station workers were subjects of a behavioral experiment. This was never entirely clear, though.
  18. How did Ben get caught in Rousseau’s net? On purpose?
  19. Why didn’t flash-sideways Jack remember his appendectamy scar?
  20. What is the back story of the Other’s off-island recruits, like Tom or Mikhail?
  21. Why did Locke kill Naomi? It was so out of character. Maybe Tall Ghost Walt was somehow Smokey manipulating a desperate Locke. But still—why?
  22. Why does the flash-sideways Desmond not appear to have any brothers? Widmore notes that he has no family to worry about, though, in past episodes, we’ve learned he had to raise his own brothers.
  23. Who built the lamppost station?
  24. Where was Dan born? On island or off?
  25. In season 4, if Widmore sought to capture Ben, why did he send the first team of scientists to the island before sending mercenaries? Probably because the first team’s crew all had previous links to the island, acting as a way to forge a portal of contact/conduit onto the island for Keamy and the goons to follow.
  26. Charlotte had a sister. Where was she during the Dharma days?
  27. Did Ethan recall meeting Locke in the past when Flight 815 landed?
  28. How was the Dharma-Hostiles truce established?
  29. Did Rousseau recognize Jin in 2004? Probably not. They had only fleeting contact, plus she’d gone a bit crazy. Memories aren’t so strong that she’d instantly recognize his face 16 years later after really only spending one day together, especially if she encountered him out of context.
  30. When did Ethan officially defect from Dharma? Not until the purge? Or before that?
  31. Who killed the Ajira crash survivors on Hydra island? Probably the smoke monster. It could have been Widmore, but there’d really be no reason to do that, for him.
  32. It’s been implied that Ben has been off island at times (like in Tunisia, before, for instance). When, and why?
  33. If the Others knew of Desmond being in the hatch, why did they permit him to stay there? Perhaps because they saw the button as important and would rather have someone else take care of it than to have to do it themselves.
  34. What exactly is the nature of Ben and Hawking’s relationship in 2007?
  35. What happened to Kate’s husband, Kevin? He seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. You’d think he would show up and confront her, especially when she returned as part of the Oceanic Six. It’s possible he did and that it happened off screen. It’s possible that he was too embarrassed by what happened that he never spoke of it. It’s possible he died and Kate never learned of it, or only did off screen.
  36. Why was Richard so hairy in 1973?  Maybe that was just his style that year.
  37. Why did Radzinsky kill himself? Sick of the button, probably.
  38. In the pilot, why did Jack wake up so far away from the crash site?
  39. Who was Caesar? Just a red herring?
  40. Is flash-sideways Kate really innocent?
  41. What was Sawyer’s “Tampa job,” referenced in season 1?
  42. Okay, Lost is over. What do we do with ourselves now?
[My answer to the last question is ‘rejoice.’]
Thanks, Dr. Candle!
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Posted in CJ Cregg, Previews | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

The Beginning of the End

Posted by CJ Cregg on May 21, 2010

I have more to say about the end of LOST.  We’ll also have another guest post from Dr. Marvin Candle with more ruminations on the series finale.

Right now, however, I just wanted to share with you this article I found in the New York Times this morning.  It summarizes popular opinion on the end of LOST quite nicely.  Give it a read.  Also, the author is none too impressed with this last season, so perhaps Mr. Feeny shouldn’t read it.  But I agree with everything in here.

As the author notes, come Sunday, one way or another, we’re getting off the island.

And I, for one, can’t wait.

Posted in CJ Cregg, News | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Lost and 24: A Guide to Last Seasons

Posted by Mr. Feeny on April 6, 2010

Let’s just avoid the big apology for not posting. I could come up with a bunch of BS excuses. I’ve done it before, and sadly will probably do it again. So, I’ll just profusely thank CJ for keeping this thing going. She’s been more than diligent and pretty much fantastic. Mad props to her.

What finally got me off my butt in the arm chair and back onto my butt in the desk chair was last night’s double episode of 24. Of course, as you’ve no doubt heard, this is its last season. It still posts respectable numbers for Fox, but was too expensive to make. And frankly, an 8 year run is pretty darn good (many of my favorite shows went 7 seasons at the most). I even said in previous posts that 24 should have just packed it in after last season. It was huge bounce-back year, with one of the best they’ve ever done. They should have gone out on top, I said. Even seasons are always bad, I said. They could have left Jack’s fate open-ended, I said.

Well, I admit it…I was dead wrong. Season 8 isn’t the best season of 24. It’s not even better than last year. But as even seasons go, it’s definitely my favorite. I only have a few gripes (Dana. Walsh.), but even those are overshadowed by some tremendous acting and some new plot devices.

SPOILER ALERT! This is where I start talking about last night’s episode.

The best acting of the whole season has been by Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire). He played the leader of a Middle Eastern country, trying to broker a peace accord. Kapoor’s portrayal of a resolute but flawed leader was tremendous. You knew he was a good guy, but not a saint. He took away civil liberties because he got paranoid when his brother betrayed him (wouldn’t you be a little suspicious of everyone after that, too?). He had an affair (but he admitted it rather than let someone take the fall).  He had some shady dealings in the past. But he was a good man. An honorable man. And a deeply layered character, perfectly acted by Kapoor. And for once, the writers had us get to know and love a foreign leader, much more so then our own (Cherry Jones has been tragically underused, until last night).

You may have noticed I used all past tense there. That’s because last night, in a shocking move, the writers killed him off. Why so shocking? Aren’t characters killed on 24 more frequently than dreams on American Idol? Yes, but not this way. Jack was assigned to protect Hassan. That was his mission. And they set it up to look like once again, as always, Jack would succeed. But he failed. He was too late. That doesn’t happen to Jack. Innocents have died before on 24, but I can’t remember Jack being unable to stop someone this prominent from dying. Way to up the ante in the 11th hour, 24. (Actually, I think it was the 17th hour, but you get what I mean).

I'd take acting lessons from Dr. Linus

And that’s exactly what LOST has done, as well. They’ve upped their game in the last round. Disappointed with seasons 4 and 5? Not to worry. LOST has returned to its roots. Moving, emotional, deep storylines based solely on characters. No more hodgepodge of plots. Everyone working toward one end, but each person’s struggle isolated every week. Oh, and just for fun, how about a ton of answers to your burning questions every episode. This is the best season of LOST since the first.

Some time in the future (fingers crossed) I’ll go into more detail on why, both for LOST and 24. I think it can be summed up with this. Kapoor, Keifer Sutherland, Annie Wersching, Michael Emerson, Nestor Carbonell, Terry O’Quinn. They all deserve Emmy nominations. Performances like that combined with excellent storylines makes for quality television.

Part of me is sad that in two months, both these shows will be gone. No new episodes. The stories done (except for a possible 24 movie). These are my two absolute favorite shows on television. The only things I rush home to watch. I don’t know where do I go from here (homage to the last show I was depressed to see end). But, I can’t be more excited to finish these exciting rides.

Posted in Mr. Feeny, Reviews | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Need more LOST?

Posted by CJ Cregg on February 4, 2010

Never fear, loyal reader.  I want to draw your attention to two things I found while perusing the New York Times today.

The first is the TV critic’s take on the episode.  Mike Hale writes about why he loves LOST, where he thinks its going, and how the writers may try to please everyone.  Read this review here.

The second is the New York Times Arts Beat blog’s recap of the episode.  If you want to make sure you really caught everything that is going on, read their recap.

And of course keep checking back here, as we’ll have more on LOST every week.  Turns out LOST is the one show that all three of us actually agree on.

Posted in CJ Cregg | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Still Lost

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on February 2, 2010

I’m probably going to get some heat from Feeny, the resident Lost-defender, but I’m a little miffed after spending two hours on an episode that (a) could have been a one-hour episode, with time to spare and (b) gave us NOTHING in terms of plot progression, resolution or logic.

And before you say that I’m just a simpleton desperate for easy answers, I’m not. I just want some conceivable explanation for what’s happening. I’m happy to find it on my own, but you can’t keep killing and bringing people back to life, blowing up bombs (or not?) and creating alternate realities.

I was hoping the writers would go back to the character-focused show that made it so powerful in its first few seasons. But, no, instead of taking the chance to “reset,” we get a meandering continuation of last season. It’s a complete circus, and it shows yet again that the writers had no overarching vision for the show. So, we’ll get a season full of meaningless action (because, how can we be invested in what’s happening when no one really dies and everyone is living in two different realities at once?), convoluted plots and, finally, a makeshift ending that tries to wow us with…wait for it…more mystery!

Posted in Moltisanti | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

Following a long hiatus…some random musings…

Posted by Mr. Feeny on February 1, 2010

Wow, I’ve been gone so long that I’ve been replaced by a mysterious Asian doctor. From the 1970s no less. Wait a minute…have I flashed forward or backward on this blog?

I apologize to all those many (read: three) followers of my posts. I just underwent a major relocation and have been getting used to a new job. Plus, no internet or TV for a span there. As such, I’m woefully behind on several of my second tier shows: House, Brothers & Sisters, Amazing Race (I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to finish that one). But my top tier is still alive and kicking (until my satellite started giving me choppy reception [first week I’ve had it] and forced me to stop watching HIMYM and 24 and turn instead to the blog).

To get back into the flow of things, I just thought I’d put a few thoughts that have been swimming in my head down on paper. A little something for everyone.

  • Easy prediction for this year in television: 24 will have  a poor season. I thought this before the premiere two weeks ago, and nothing has convinced me otherwise. My rationale is purely unscientific. 24‘s even-numbered seasons are always a disappointment. Season 2 was the best of them, but compared to any of the odd-numbered ones, it was cluttered, dull and lacked story. Season 4 was convoluted and required more leaps in logic than normal. Season 6 was a disaster. So clearly Season 8 will be bad. So far, it’s been lackluster. Some good things, but nothing that wows me. I wouldn’t be terribly sad if this were its last year. I feel like 24 has run its course and deserves an ending now. As long as Logan and Tony make a return.
  • Dana Delany deserves an Emmy nomination. She has been fantastic as Katherine on Desperate Housewives. She has perfectly hit every note in her jilted lover/delusional/psychopath/depressed character arc. Her last two episodes were especially sensational, as her lies became public knowledge, and then weeks later, when she opened up to a psychologist. Felicity Huffman is always the Emmy voters’ default Housewife nomination. But her time has past. It’s Delany’s turn to be recognized (though Huffman’s scene in “If…” while dealing with her would-be disabled child in the future was simply astounding. Her best performance yet).
  • Another not-so-bold prediction: NO ONE will be satisfied when LOST ends. There is simply no way. They have opened up too many questions for someone after the finale to say “hmm, now it all makes sense.” Doors will be left hanging open. And all those viewers who aren’t as obsessed with the mythology will still not be happy because of whatever explanation is provided. They’ll find it too preposterous, or a cop-out. The talk the next day will be nothing but “Really!?! That’s it!?!” That’s not to say it won’t be received well. It will have the most split fan reaction since The Sopranos ended. But still, no one will be completely O.K with it.
  • ShamIdol. Only about 5% probably got to the judges.

    American Idol‘s sham production just continues to infuriate me. Yet I still watch. Because I want to see what the next big thing will be. What millions of Americans will be talking about. But I can not express to you in words how infuriated my logical persona gets when Ryan Seacrest and the editors/producers just straight up lie to the “stupid” audience at home. Take the Chicago auditions. They say that 12,000 people tried out. And they show them at the United Center. So tell me, why is it the judges are all in front of a window looking out on Michigan Avenue??? No where near the UC. Do they ever mention that? No. They imply that all 12,000 get to see the judges. When in fact, the producers screen the masses, then pick who they want to go to the actual auditions. If that’s the way they do it, fine. I understand. It’s a huge amount of people. But don’t lie about it.

  • HOWEVER, American Idol, there are tons of great singers in that line. And only a limited number of people can see the judges in two days. So, since you saw everyone, why waste half of the audition slots with people who don’t stand a chance? That’s not fair. It’s just not fair!! For a few weeks of entertainment, you trot out these jokes, instead of giving great singers a chance. You pick the best and the worst and let the judges see them. But what if the second-best would have been well-received by the judges. Kris Allen might not have made the cut. How many Kris Allens and Jordin Sparks are out in that crowd that you turn away because you have to give William Hung his 15 minutes?
  • GRRRRRRR
  • Rant over.
  • Survivor‘s twentieth season is going to be fantastic. Heroes vs. Villains from past seasons. Going all the way back to Colby and Jerri from Season 2: Outback. Don’t miss it!
  • Better Off Ted has quickly risen to be one of my favorite comedies on the air right now. So witty and casual with jokes, that you might almost miss them. Love it. Watch it on Hulu.
  • I had a great insightful column that I half-wrote about the Conan-Leno debate. But…..it’s kind of old news now. So no need. The general point: I love Conan, but he was wrong to refuse a slightly later timeslot. He’ll never be as big as he could have been in the Tonight Show chair for decades. But NBC is the one to blame for everything.
  • I finished Season 1 of The Wire. My friends were right. Fantastic show. Not ready to call it one of the best ever, but it was incredibly entertaining after a mercilessly slow beginning. Moltisanti is correct: the character investment is superb. Not in terms of where people came from, but what they’re about. We don’t know their history, but we know their emotions.
  • I’m hoping Damages has a good rebound season. I’ll do a review on it after a few more episodes. But Martin Short, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Len Cariou (of Broadway fame)…all fantastic supporting characters this season. And I’m very intrigued by this year’s flash forward scenario……..SPOILER………..death becomes Tom Shays.
  • I just want to mention how good a year I had in reality predictions. My Dancing with the Stars selection won it. My Top Chef pick finished in the Top 3. My Survivor pick finished in the Top 4. And my three picks to be the last three standing in The Amazing Race finished 1, 2, and 4. Not too shabby.

That should tide you over for now…I wonder if my satellite’s back. I could watch Damages

By the way, thanks to CJ for keeping this thing going. It would have died had it not been for her. I’d compare her to a TV character or actor who did that with a show…but I can’t think of one. Suggestions?

Posted in Mr. Feeny | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Getting Ready to Get LOST

Posted by CJ Cregg on February 1, 2010

Enjoy this guest column from Dr. Marvin Candle

The final season of LOST returns to ABC starting tomorrow at 7 PM.  If you’re anything like me, you spent much of last season being a bit confused and wondering how the writers are going to wrap this all up in a handful of episodes.  I asked my friend, Dr. Marvin Candle, to write up something to both jog our memories about what happened last season and to take some guesses at what’s going to happen this season.  Here’s what Dr. Candle had to say:

“Come on, you son of a bitch!” – Juliet Burke, The Incident

In “Exodus, Part 2,” the raft-blasting finale to LOST’s monumental first season, Dr. Leslie Arzt got a chance to trek into the jungle with the “cool kids,” and, in the hopes of playing the hero, took into his hands a temperamental stick of dynamite. Things did not go well. LOST Lesson #42: Explosives can be dangerous, and are best handled with more than a mere mud-soaked t-shirt.

Since then, the stakes have gotten significantly higher.

2009’s penultimate season of television’s most endearingly baffling and excruciatingly addictive program ended with a our ragtag band of geographically and chronologically misplaced adventurers taking a gamble yet again–this time not with dynamite, but with a pressure-triggered nuclear bomb, set to explode on impact (with a little last-minute modifications on the part of everyone’s favorite mortally wounded genuine Iraqi). Some combination of Faraday’s high-falutin’ physics lesson, John Locke’s dead-legged desperation, and a case of the pretty-fugitive-girl-doesn’t-do-Taco-Night blues had turned Dr. Jack—the show’s resident pragmatist—into a full-fledged convert to the cause of Benthamanian destiny.  The pitch? If the Lostaways trigger the bomb on the island in the past, nothing after 1977 ever happens. Time resets. Oceanic 815 never crashes. No Swan Hatch, no French lady, and no Nigerian drug runners. No not-Penny’s-boat, no Medusa spiders, and no invisible peanut butter. That is, if it works. The bomb could merely make Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and the gang go all Arzt on us loyal fans without changing a single thing. As Miles—increasingly becoming the show’s clearest voice of reason, despite talking to corpses and demonstrating, at one point, a questionable penchant for pop punk piercings—noted in last season’s closing moments, it’s entirely possible that the bomb had always exploded, and that Jack and Co. were merely recreating the event that forced flight 815 down in the first place.

Oh, and some dude in a smokey black tunic done pulled off the world’s greatest John Locke impression and peer-pressured Ben into killing some other guy (you may have heard of him) named Jacob. Claire, Desmond, and Frank’s wicked awesome season 4 beard are still at large.

Confused? Good. With LOST, that’s kind of the point.

Flash-forward (or backwards, or maybe sideways) to Juliet, bloody and broken at the bottom of a drilling shaft, beating the nuke with a rock in desperation. The screen turns white. And LOST addicts everywhere hold their breath. The writers, it seems, have taken a similar gamble. This is no cliffhanger pop rocks or even pyrotechnics. Resetting everything is a narrative hydrogen bomb. If it works, the improbable will come to be. But if it doesn’t work, there’ll be nothing but rubble and, maybe, the lingering threat of radiation poisoning through the end of the series.

All signs point to a narrative reset of sorts. So what does that mean for us, as viewers, invested in five seasons of character development, only to see it wiped away in a flash of white light? The mere thought makes my nose bleed—and not in a cool, hopping-through-the-1950s kind of way.

Most avid LOST fans—the ones who’ve stuck with the show this far—are willing to believe that the writers will keep the final season on course, but, in our hearts, we’re probably all holding our breath a bit, like Juliet, cringing as she pummels that bloody-rocked bomb. In a way, it’s amazing the writers have managed to make the show work as long as they have, through all shades of twists and turns and dumbfounding revelations, and, if any show has proven it can make these kinds of things work, it’s LOST…BUT this is the final season, people! Time to make it count. There are two sides—one is light, and one is dark. All we can do is hope that LOST, as a series, chooses the right one. This season has the potential to be fantastic, capping off a six-year run for one of the most original programs in television history. Then again, it could turn to the dark side, and we could wind up watching Hurley and Ben trading quips with the Ewoks. And let’s face it: The Ewoks sucked, dude.

In the meantime, we can turn our thoughts to the questions. The biggies have always been out there–What is the island? Why does it heal people? What is the monster? Who were the Adam and Eve skeletons? And what’s up with the numbers?–while others have hopped a Dharma van to the front of the line only in recent seasons–Like why doesn’t Richard age? Who exactly is Jacob? What’s in the guitar case? And who are Ilana and her gang supposed to be, other than guerrilla-tactic pallbearers? We’re sure to finally get the answers (or at least some substantial explanations) in the show’s final 18 episodes.

Also, we’re supposed to see the return of some old friends–whether alive, dead, or somewhere in between.

In eager anticipation of Tuesday night’s two-hour premiere, we offer a pair of lists (not from Jacob, maybe, but just as good):

Twelve Lesser Mysteries of Lost That We’d Love to See Answered In the Final Season (in no particular order):

12) Why do pregnant women die? – A key question from season 3 has faded into the background.

11) What are the whispers? – We haven’t heard them for a while, but in season one, before we had ghost cabins and undead bald dudes, the whispers were the go-to creep factor on Lostaway Island.

10) What really went down with Cindy and the kids? – Kidnapped by the Others in season 2, the alcoholic-enabling stewardess and her tail section charges remain something of a mystery.

9) Who was Henry Gale and what happened to him on the island? – Okay, we know he was from Minnesota. We know he wasn’t the bug-eyed bastard eating the Dharma-brand Cheerios. How cool would it be to see what happened when his balloon blew off course?

8 ) Towards the end of season 2, a palette of Dharma food appeared out of nowhere. What? – Never got an answer on this one. We’ve seen plenty of the 70s now, but what exactly is going on with the Dharma initiative in this day and age?

7) Who was shooting at Locke, Juliet, Sawyer, and the gang from the outrigger full of Ajira water bottles in season 5? – This “flash” probably took place in the future, set some time in season 6. It will be fun to see it resurface after over a year.

What's up with Miles?

6) How is it Miles does what he does? – His dying mother couldn’t give him an answer. Maybe somebody else finally will. Even on LOST, you can’t just drop a dude who talks to dead people into the mix and not address it. Oh, wait. I guess that’s two dudes…

5) How do Nigerian planes and English slave vessels wind up in the middle of a Pacific island? – It’s a good question, don’t you think? I don’t remember learning the answer to this one in high school.

4) What exactly is the “sickness”? – Danielle saw it. Jin saw it. The others seem to believe in it. And the Hatch had a quarantine sign painted on the back. Don’t tell me it’s just the swine flu.

3) What’s up with Claire? – Hey, girl, what’s going on? Haven’t seen you in a while. Was that psychic in Australia working for higher powers? Did you mentally project yourself into Kate’s dreams? Are you dead, or just hanging out with your ghost daddy? I’d love to catch up some time.

2) What is the Temple – We’ve heard about it in passing for years. It’s time we finally see it up close. After five seasons on one island, you’d think somebody would have seen such a place…

1) Where did the four-toed statue and all the ruins come from? – Your guess is as good as mine. And how was the statue destroyed? Are we supposed to believe Ben when he says he doesn’t know? Probably not.


The Top Twelve Departed Characters We’d Love to See Come Back (in Some Form):

12) Boone and Shannon – An appearance in the final season would make for some great semi-incestuous bookends to the series

11) Mikhail – Oh, Patchy. We thought you’d never die. Now that you’re gone, we miss you.
10) Nikki and/or Paulo – What? This could be really fun!

9) Michael – Did he do the right thing? No. But did he deserve the fan backlash he ultimately wound up with? Not at all. Michael was always a more interesting character than most viewers were willing to admit. He was just a normal man–no super powers, no neck-snapping skills, and no perfectly chiseled swimsuit body–trying to do right. When things went wrong, he went through more internal anguish than just about anyone on the show. That scene in the hatch was downright Shakespearean.

8 ) Keamy – As opposed to Michael, Keamy deserved every ounce of hate he got. and it was soooo good.

A Keamy Comeback?

7) Tom – A big, burly, child-napping teddy bear. LOST’s token homosexual deserves his place in the curtain call.
6) Faraday – Even if we’d been radiated like a lab rat, we would never forget ol’ Twitchy. Bringing him back may not be a primary objective, but most of us viewers would sure appreciate it.
5) Desmond and Claire – What? They’re not dead? Oh. Well, with the amount of screen time they each received last season, you could have fooled us.
4) Charlie – F.A.T.E. You all everybody can agree on that.
3) Libby – For years, we were told, “Don’t hold your breath.” Some of us still did, and it sounds like it may actually pay off later this year…
2) Eko – Unlikely? Perhaps. But awesome? Amen to that.
1) Walt – Okay, so we KNOW the writers have repeatedly noted that since Malcom David Kelley is now seven feet tall and speaks in a deeper baritone than James Earl Jones, a Walt return is unlikely, BUT the kid was a major–if not THE major–plot element at the end of the first and beginning of the second seasons. Between the birds and the polar bears and the creepy backwards whispers, we never got a clear resolution on flight 815’s resident wunderkind. A Walt return, in any form, would be a great payoff to six seasons of investment.

That’s a lot to take in, but probably not nearly as mind-bending as LOST’s final season is shaping up to be. One last crazy theory? Hmmm…maybe Aaron is Jacob? That’s all I’ve got. It’s going to be a wild ride on Tuesday night. I’d advise the captain to turn on the Fasten Seatbelts sign.

Thanks, Dr. Candle.  Tune in tomorrow for the season premiere.

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The Top Ten TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by Mr. Feeny on January 6, 2010

The best television shows of the decade. Of the 2000s. Of the aughts. Of the Ks. The best TV shows from 2000-2009.

I’m just trying to cover everything for google searches. As you can see, I wrote a ton. And I want the world to read it.

Before Moltisanti jumps on me, I just want to clarify my rationales. As I have with all my lists, I created this one not solely based on my personal feelings. If it were just up to me, The West Wing would be the best show of the decade. But it’s not the “top” show. Not the one that had the biggest impact and will be the most remembered. That’s the decider for me. These aren’t the best shows. They’re the decade’s shows. If the decade were a person, the shows he/she would pick. I recognize there are some very well written and acted shows out there that lasted only a short time, or were off network TV. But that limited reach affects their standing in the decade.  Also, some shows suffer from just having begun. Modern Family might end up being one of the top shows of the 2010s. But it’s not one of the best this decade.

My list was a lot more clever and insightful before CJ posted hers. Now it just looks tired and repetitive. But I already had my list made when she put hers up, so it’s a testament to how sure-fire these picks are. If I were rating on quality, though, like Moltisanti, The West Wing, The Sopranos, and Arrested Development would be my top three.

He redefined disdain.

1) American Idol (FOX) – No television show garnered more attention all decade than FOX’s hit singing competition. Consistently the highest-rated program on television, American Idol became a cultural pillar. You can’t help but know something about it. Whether it’s the theme song, Simon Cowell, or one of the successful winners, everyone has an understanding of what this show is. If not Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (which is how most people would know the show without watching it), they’re at least familiar with the premise. Why? Because it’s been repeated now over and over in other shows and live events. Local idol competitions sprung up like wildfires (including one that my sister won). The show has countless problems and can be very frustrating. And its popularity will certainly drop without Paula or Simon next year. But for the 2000s, nothing holds a bigger place in the pop culture landscape.

CSI makes science fun.

2) CSI (CBS) – Why when you flip on one of the four main networks at night are you more than likely going too see a crime procedural? And why will you see reruns of all those shows on the big cable networks, like USA, TNT and TBS? Why were there 3 million crime procedurals that aired — and lasted — in this decade? Because CSI worked. It did more than work; it kicked butt. Year after year, what was basically a modern Quincy, M.E. dominated the ratings. But even though the mystery format was similar to a new show every season, the details were not. What were Crime Scene Investigators? The general public didn’t know. They watch cops, doctors and lawyers. Never the scientists. Before CSI, detectives just handed baggies to nerds and 15 minutes later we had a fingerprint match. The public was (and still is) intrigued by the process. And seeing as half of network programming can be attributed to this genre, I think its trailblazer deserves a high spot on this list.

3) The Sopranos* (HBO) – As I mentioned in my characters list, The Sopranos really ushered in a new type of drama (much like CSI…but a very different genre). It’s characteristics: non-network, dark themes and filming, gritty language and situations, and a central anti-hero. Try to count all the programs that have basically been made only because of the success of The Sopranos. The Shield, Rescue Me, Saving Grace, Deadwood, The Wire, Damages…etc, etc, etc. I know there were other shows that were like this first, for instance Oz, also on HBO. But The Sopranos made it to the mainstream. They entered into pop culture. Even people who didn’t watch knew who Tony Soprano was. Of course, it was successful because of its entertaining and exciting plots and excellent acting. But again, that’s secondary on this list.

Great Flashback

4) LOST* (ABC) – This show created the most ravenous fan base I’ve ever seen, other than Star Trek. Spoilers and theories flooded the internet. Every little piece of the canon was perfectly (or accidentally) created, ripe for analysis. But unlike other shows that have tried to copy it, you cared about the characters. The brilliant concept of a different set of flashbacks each episode forced viewers to invest in the show. That’s part of the reason its ratings declined in the later seasons; rarely were there true flashbacks (or flashforwards). Just a hodgepodge, mixed in with too much science fiction. It became more than many viewers bargained for, but it will still be on the best shows of the decade…until they completely screw up the finale.

5) 24* (FOX) – I read an interesting comment from a critic recently. He said that before 24, killing off a main character, especially in the first season, was taboo. Now, it’s old-hat. I’m not sure if that first part is true, but the second certainly is. It doesn’t seem like a show can last without some character getting written out permanently. And you have to credit 24 for that. A show that continues to reinvent itself to avoid getting tired. With the exception of Jack and Aaron Pierce, no character has appeared in every season. And other than Tony and Chloe, no one else has been a starring character for more than 4 of 7 seasons. That is risky. Imagine if the bar patrons at Cheers kept changing. Yet each season was riveting because you knew no one was safe. Anyone could die at any moment, except for Jack. It keeps you guessing and keeps viewers coming back.

6) The West Wing* (NBC) – It says a lot about the quality of The West Wing that they routinely dove into complex political theories and dilemmas, used big words, talked a mile a minute and still garnered high viewership from the American public. As CJ put it, this show was about more than politics. It was about relationships: between the president and his wife, him and his best friend, a boss and his assistant, the press secretary and a reporter, friends and coworkers in the office, a speechwriter and a call girl…well, maybe that one didn’t matter as much. Don’t get me wrong. The politics were superb. I disagreed with most of their conclusions, but I never felt like Aaron Sorkin wasn’t presenting both sides. Liberals and conservatives could appreciate it all the same. But, the point is, even if you’re not all that into politics, the character studies that exist in this masterpiece of a show make it a must-watch for any serious television fan.

Not just a clown

7) The Daily Show (COM) – I’m going to cheat a little here,  but I’ll explain why. The Daily Show technically premiered in 1996, giving it four years in the other decade. BUT, I still say it was one of the biggest shows of this decade. If The Simpsons or ER were as big a player in the 2000s as they were in the 1990s, I’d include them here too. (FYI, that list would go Seinfeld, The Simpsons, ER). Consider these facts. Every award The Daily Show has won came in the past ten years. The show really jumped into the spotlight during “Indecision 2000.” And its insanely popular spin-off, The Colbert Report (2005), might be one of the best shows of the decade just on its own merits. So, I rest my case. As to why the show belongs on this list (instead of just why it qualifies), Jon Stewart has become this generation’s Walter Cronkite…as terrifying as that is. The youth of America turn to him for their news. And although it’s incredibly biased, I can’t argue with the fact that kids and young adults are at least learning something about current events and deeper thought…hidden in humor and gags. The Daily Show’s interviews all decade made more news than anyone appearing on a network show or even late night TV. This really was a blend of both genres, and beat them both in the ratings and public attention.

8 ) The Office* (BBC/NBC) – I’ll include the British one here, although I haven’t seen it. But you can’t give credit to the cleverness of the American version without the original. So many comedies these days seem to miss the boat when it comes to characters. They either focus on one or two and leave the rest as decorations, or they flood the set with stereotypes. I’ll mention Cheers again. There was an ensemble show. You, the viewer, felt like you really knew each character. Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show (with all his patients), Taxi. Just other examples of how this used to be done. The Office brought that back, with a huge cast, yet each character has a unique personality. Everyone can be counted on for a laugh. The fact that a show like that was able to become so popular, and with their sometime dizzying filming style, shows a new wave of sitcoms on the way.

Survivor Outback: The Best Season

9) Survivor (CBS) – This basically completes the list of “Decade Trendsetters.” You had CSI for crime procedurals, The Sopranos for gritty dramas, and Survivor for reality TV. None of them were the first, but they all got the most attention and made future endeavors acceptable. And when you consider those three categories, that pretty much defined the decade (that and the apparent death of comedy). In Survivor’s case, it was an instant hit. It seemed scripted, the way alliances formed and disputes unraveled. But because they weren’t actors, it also had that real quality perfect for summer entertainment. The name Richard Hatch is still universally known, long after his million dollars have been spent. I personally preferred the next two seasons, in the Outback and African deserts (remember, Outback launched the career of Elisabeth Hasslebeck…hmm, The View is probably one of the Top 20 shows of the decade). Survivor continued to pull big ratings, and still is one of CBS’s top ten shows, now in its 19th season. Despite its formulaic nature, the characters constantly change, adding new excitement. And without Mark Burnett’s creation, there might have been far less reality TV for the past ten years. Since 90% of those shows were horrible, I kind of wish Survivor had failed.

10) Family Guy (FOX) – Easily the best cartoon of the decade, Family Guy still can’t compare with The Simpsons in its heyday. There, that’s my disclaimer. So Simpsons fans won’t jump on me like they usually do when I praise Family Guy. But the fact of the matter is that Family Guy will be remembered as being one of the best shows of this decade. Not as much for quality as for pure entertainment. I enjoy the show for its witty references. Most people just like the crass humor. But either way, decades from now, middle-aged men (let’s face it, girls just don’t like the show as much) will fondly watch reruns on their cereal box TVs and laugh like they did as twenty-somethings. As for its place in the decade, the show definitely helped branch into more risque and raunchy comedy on television…which I’m not sure I like.

*As an addendum, shows with astericks would be on my “Favorite TV Shows of the Decade” list, which would also include Monk, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development, and Dexter.

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CJ’s Best TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on January 5, 2010

OK, friends.  Time for the big one.  Which TV shows will we remember many years from now as some of the best of the decade?  Which ones truly captured the American public?  Here are my humble musings.  This is, of course, not the same as my personal list of favorite shows, but unsurprisingly, colored by the shows I like the best.

The very first American Idol

1) American Idol-I don’t know if anyone really watches American Idol anymore, but chats with some of my family members suggest that they do.  I clearly remember the beginning of my college career, though, when it was all anyone talked about.  Much like Survivor is to the “extreme reality TV” genre, American Idol is the decade trendsetter of the “reality competition” genre.  A mix of drama, talent, and kicking people off of things are the trademarks of this genre, and American Idol started it all with Kelly Clarkson.

2) Survivor-I readily admit to never having actually watched this show (and I call myself a TV blogger), but Survivor kicked off the “extreme reality TV” craze with a bang.  And what could be more 2000s than extreme reality TV?  (I say extreme because MTV’s the Real World premiered in the early 1990s as what is undoubtedly reality TV, but I think Survivor is a different genre.)  Survivor inspired numerous spinoffs (like I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here or the Amazing Race), and I distinctly remember it being the most talked-about show in the beginning of my high school career.

3) CSI-I must have bad taste, because my top three shows of the decade are all shows I never really watch, but CSI in all of its various iterations are constantly at the top of the ratings charts.  This is THE crime procedural.  Mr. Feeny explains it more eloquently than I can, perhaps because he’s actually watched the show, but people love this stuff.  And this is the trendsetter.

4) Lost-Few shows have taken the American public on such a thrill ride as Lost.  Moreover, no one I know just casually watches the show.  The people that do watch are hooked.  And the show is designed so that you can’t watch just one episode.  In fact, Lost may be the winner in the contest of ‘shows I picked up on DVD and watched all the seasons in a ridiculously short time.’  You can’t do it otherwise.  And though I could whine about how the show has gotten too confusing, and what the heck is the smoke monster anyway, I’m anxiously awaiting the final season to see how the writers will wrap it up.

5) The West Wing-I think people will remember this show.  I really do.  It was (for the most part) fantastically well done, and a balance of relationships and politics gave it a wider appeal than it otherwise might have.  It’s also my favorite show ever.  I’ve raved about it other places, so I’ll spare you, loyal readers, here.

6) Desperate Housewives-This is one of the most watched TV shows in the world, according to economist Charles

Desperate AND juicy

Kenney.  Premiering in 2004 and currently airing season 6, Desperate Housewives was a real crowd pleaser.  I remember the race to the TV room on Sunday nights my freshman year of college to watch the first season.  Kind of like a modern-day “Feminine Mystique,” shows that explore the secret lives of housewives are now commonplace.  Do you think Bravo’s multi-locale and extremely popular The Real Housewives of… would even exist if not for ABC’s Desperate Housewives?

7) The Sopranos-Yah.  Never watched this show.  But lots of people did.  And talked about it a lot.  And loved it.

8 ) Sex and the City-I have to admit, this show kind of uncomfortably straddles the decade divide.  But I think the SATC movie will help this show be remembered in this decade.  What else can we say about SATC other than it made 30 the new 20?

9) The Office-A show that is still going strong and shows no signs of quitting.  It has a very loyal fanbase and the dialogue and shot style has taken hold in other shows as well (see The Modern Family).

10) 24-Everyone knows who Jack Bauer is.  Even if you never watch the show.

Honorable Mention

Scrubs

House

How I Met your Mother

Friday Night Lights

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Moltisanti’s Best TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on December 31, 2009

1. The Sopranos

The best. Ever.

David Chase’s deeply perceptive realist drama attracted audiences with the promise of mafia intrigue. In reality, however, the mob was a supporting character in this study of modern American family life. It covered immense thematic ground—everything from generational conflict to the power of parents to our inability to cope with death to, well, the elusive meaning of life. Though set in a specific time period, this is a show that makes universal commentary on human nature. Its ideas and characters can be placed in any context at any time throughout history and still be valid. That’s the mark of great art, and that’s why it’s the best show I’ve ever seen.

2. Mad Men

Heavily influenced by The Sopranos, both stylistically and thematically, Mad Men has slightly less ambitious goals. And when I say slightly, I mean it attempts to capture the changing social fabric of America in the 1960s. So, yes, it’s still an ambitious show, and so far, a near-perfect one. Novelistic in its emphasis on specific themes, stylish beyond anything on TV and, like The Sopranos, touched with dark humor, Mad Men is the finest entertainment on television today. It’s already established itself in the pantheon of great television. Depending on how the next few years turn out, it could move even higher.

3. Arrested Development

Arrested Development is the funniest show I’ve ever seen. Its smart rapid-fire comedy was too, well, smart, for a mainstream TV audience, but its style makes it one of the most re-watchable shows I’ve ever seen. Will Arnett made my best actors list, but all the major players here (and the many guest stars) are brilliant. There are too many wonderful plotlines to mention here, but, if you haven’t seen it, go get in on DVD now. You won’t be disappointed.

LD

4. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is a close second to Arrested for “best comedy of the decade” honors. Its dissection of every day annoyances as seen through the eyes of the perceptive (some might say tiresome) David retreads ground from Seinfeld (albeit with edgier plotlines and more vulgarity). The show’s loose, improvised style lets its talented cast shine. Let’s hope David keeps it on the air for at least a few more seasons.

5. Deadwood

David Milch’s Deadwood is about the creation of a civilization—and the compromises, the odd alliances, the brutality, and, sometimes, the human decency that accompany it. Written in a unique, almost Shakespearian style and anchored by several strong performances, Deadwood is a powerful, gritty Western with a lot to say about human motivation.

6. 24

Save for a disastrous sixth season, 24 has been one of the most consistent shows on TV this decade. Season one is arguably the most compelling season of television of all time, and it’s ending proved that the writers were willing to push the envelope of network TV conventions. Six seasons later, the show is still going strong, coming off a series-saving seventh season that proved that it is still the most compelling hour on TV. He may not be the absolute best character, but Jack Bauer will be the defining character of a troubled decade marked by terrorist threats and muddied rules of engagement.

7. Friday Night Lights

FNL is a powerful portrait of middling, average people weighed down by expectations and visions of grandeur. Its plot is the stuff of classic literature — characters with lofty ambitions and dreams operating in an imperfect world muddled by personal flaws, social divisions and tragedy. It’s a show that captures the redemptive power of sports — for both fans and players. So, next time you wonder why people get so invested in athletics, watch this show, and you’ll understand.

8. The Office

The British version is great too, but I’ve only seen a few episodes, so I’m sticking with the one I’m familiar with. Steve Carrell is the reason this show makes the list. Michael Scott does mind-blowing things, but, as Feeney noted, we’re still sympathetic to him. The supporting cast is great as well, and, the show brilliantly captures the drudgery, personal conflicts and politics of office life.

9. Lost

Great characters make Lost a top 10 show

After a scintillating first season, this show went downhill. Not quickly, but steadily. Based on what the writers have been saying about their commitment to getting back to character development in the final season, I’m optimistic about the end of the series. Still, Lost offers lessons to writers and TV execs everywhere. It’s the characters, stupid. Sure, the mysteries of the island made the show that much more addicting, but the series’ ability to craft a handful of deep, compelling and conflicted characters made it a success.

10. The West Wing

Maybe I’m just bitter that it beat The Sopranos at the Emmy’s multiple times, or maybe it’s because I don’t love Aaron Sorkin’s writing style, but I was never enamored with this show. Still, this was a strong series for a long time that gave us a unique inside look into the workings of the White House. It’s a fascinating premise, especially for political observers, and, for the most part, it was a solid show.

P.S. I know, I know. The Wire is missing. Before any of you David Simon acolytes lose your heads, rest assured that I have the DVDs and have started watching it. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it will easily make this list. Once I finish the series, I’ll amend the list and give the show it’s rightful due. So, sorry West Wing, you’ll soon be a goner.

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