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Summer Finale Fall Premiere Calendar – First Draft

I’m in the midst of determining what fall shows I’m going to check out, so there will definitely be updates to come, but here is the first draft of the summer finale and fall premiere calendar. As always, it only includes the shows I’m going to be watching and is therefore not comprehensive. I recommend futoncritic.com’s guide for a listing of everything, including all the crap I’m not watching.

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July 12, 2009 Posted by | Premiere, Season Finale, Television | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Summer Finale Fall Premiere Calendar – First Draft

30 Rock Season 3 Episode 22: Kidney Now!

30 Rock has had an outstanding season, and tonight’s season finale was pretty great as well. Liz Lemon’s havok-wreaking streak of “Dealbreaker” pronouncements throughout the episode kept increasing in both hilarity and absurdity. As good as this was, it was totally topped by the Jack’s celebrity music ensemble to try to get a kidney for his long last father, played by Alan Alda. Here’s a link to the music number at E Online if you missed the episode.

Here’s the full list of musicians who were part of the ensemble:

Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper, Michael McDonald, Clay Aiken, Mary J. Blige, Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Adam Levine, Sara Bareilles, Steve Earle, Norah Jones, Talib Kweli, Wyclef Jean, Moby, Robert Randolph, Rachael Yamagata, and Rhett Miller.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Season Finale, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 30 Rock Season 3 Episode 22: Kidney Now!

Hell’s Kitchen Season 5 Finale

Well, I could have been more wrong about the outcome of Hell’s Kitchen, but not by much. My dark horse Colleen cracked under pressure and got axed just a handful of episodes in, and neither of my frontrunner picks even made the final three. On the bright side, Colleen’s cooking classes are booked solid.

Oh well, there’s always next season, which starts on Tuesday, July 21st.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Game Shows, Reality, Renewed, Season Finale, Television | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hell’s Kitchen Season 5 Finale

Lost Season 5 Episodes 16 and 17: The Incident Pt 1 and 2

Maybe Lost has melted my brain so many times that I’m now immune. Maybe I over-theorized about the finale. Whatever the reason, the finale didn’t totally blow my mind. Let’s break it down.

The episode opens in a poorly lit shelter, where a faceless man is working at a spinning wheel and then a loom. We then see the man retrieving fish from a trap in shallow water, which he cooks up over a fire on the beach. The man is joined on the beach by another man and they both look out at the ship that is approaching the shore. It appears to be the Black Rock, and Man #2 says they will come fight, destroy, corrupt, it always ends the same way. Man #1 says it only ends once and that anything that happens before that is progress, which seems to piss Man #2 off. Man #2 says he wants to kill Man #1 and threatens that one day he will find a loophole. Man #1 says he’ll be waiting. Man #2 gets up to leave and says, “It’s always nice talking to you Jacob.” Jacob says, “It’s always nice talking to you too,” but doesn’t say Man #2’s name. The camera then backs out to reveal they are at the base of the statue, and it appears to have a sort of crocodile mouth–that doesn’t sound like any Egyptian god I’ve ever seen.

So we finally know what Jacob looks like–and this sets up a series of great flashback reveals throughout both the entire two-hour finale. The first involves a Young Kate who tries to shoplift a New Kids on the Block lunchbox, only to get busted. Jacob arrives just in time to pay the shopkeeper and keep Kate out of trouble. He makes Kate promise not to steal anymore–yeah that worked.

Back to the sub in ’77 and Sawyer basically tells Kate to get over it and come back to the real world with him and Juliet. Back on the island, Jack and Sayid layout their plan to remove the plutonium from Jughead and transport it to The Swan site. According to Sayid, they only have two hours to make it happen. Over at The Swan, Chang tries to explain to Radzinski why they have to stop drilling, and Radzinski bitches him out, explaining he has been working on the plans for The Swan for six years.

In ’07, Locke gives his people a quick five, which gives Sun enough time to ask Ben who Jacob is. Ben explains that everyone answers to someone, and the Leader answers to Jacob. She probes further, causing Ben to begrudgingly reveal to her that he has never actually seen Jacob. Meanwhile, Locke and Richard are talking and Richard explains the reason he’s been starting at John is because he’s never seen someone come back to life before. Before pressing on, Locke let’s Richard know that after they are done visiting Jacob, they will have to ‘deal’ with the Ajira survivors. For whatever reason, Locke doesn’t even find it necessary to pretend that ‘deal’ means anything other than kill. Speaking of the Ajira folks, they are arriving on the main island and Lapidus regains consciousness just as they are discussing what to do with him. He asks what’s in the box, and surprisingly they decide to show him. We don’t get to see what it is, but the look on Frank’s face is priceless.  All he can say is, “Terrific.”

Another flashback shows us Young James after his parents’ funeral. He is sitting down to write the letter to Mr. Sawyer and Jacob shows up to give him a nice pen to write it with. After Jacob leaves, Uncle Doug shows up and tells little Jimmy that he needs to move on. He tells him that what’s done is done. This obviously frames grown-up James’ opinion about whether or not to execute Faraday’s plan.

Back on the sub, after some debate which Sawyer thinks he’s won, Juliet surprises him by knocking out the guard and freeing herself. They disable the radio and make the captain surface so they can get back to shore to stop Jack from carrying out Daniel’s plan. Beneath Dharmaville, Richard approaches Jack and wants to know a little more about this Locke dude. He tells Jack he has left the island on three occasions to visit John and that he has never seemed particularly special. Jack tells Richard not to give up on him just yet.

On the road to Jacob, Locke quizzes Ben in an attempt to figure out why Ben hasn’t tried to screw him over yet. Ben explains what went on in the cave below the temple, then begrudgingly confirms when Locke realizes Ben has to follow his orders. Locke instructs Ben to kill Jacob. 

Off-island in ’04, we see Sayid and Nadia walking down the sidewalk, approaching a crosswalk. They start across when Jacob appears and get’s Sayid’s attention. This separates them just enough for Nadia to get plowed by the SUV while Sayid is totally unharmed.

In the tunnel in ’77, Richard opens up a wall to reveal a passage into a Dharma house, then knocks out Eloise so she can’t lead the group any further. He tells Jack and Sayid to go on alone, and turns back with Eloise. Once topside, Jack and Sayid quickly find themselves in a firefight with Dharma, resulting in a serious gunshot wound for Sayid, and Jack killing several Dharma guys. Hurley, Miles, and Jin pull up just in time to drive the boys to safety. 

We got a nice break at this point, and some long overdue fan service. Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate arrived back to the beach, only to be greeted by Vincent–followed by a disappointed Rose and Bernard. Apparently they have been enjoying ‘retirement’ on the island and have absolutely no interest in rejoining the fight. They say they don’t care what happens with the bomb as long as they’re together. This offers an important insight for Juliet, who at that moment see Sawyer look not in her direction, but instead toward Kate. Elsewhere on the island, Lapidus is wishing he hadn’t seen the contents of the box when he is assured these people are ‘the good guys’. Then the group comes upon the cabin, and after Ilyana retrieves a piece of cloth with a picture of the statue on it, the burn the place to the ground. In the middle of this, we get a flashback to an injured Ilyana who is visited by Jacob in the hospital. He explains he needs her help.

Another flashback shows us Jacob on a bench reading Flannery O’Conner’s ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’, which seems very tongue-in-cheek once we see John Locke’s paralysis-causing fall take place over Jacob’s shoulder. Jacob goes to the injured Locke and rouses him long enough to assure him everything will be fine.

On the island in ’07, Locke lets his people rest at the old Oceanic campsite while he shares a few moments with Ben. Ben admits he is a liar, and Lock proceeds to explain that with everything that has happened to Ben, he fails to see why he wouldn’t want to kill Jacob. This seems to ring true to Ben, and I think we just witnessed the first time Locke has ever tried to manipulate Ben and been successful. On the other side of camp, Sun finds Charlie’s old ring and flashes back to her wedding with Jin, remembering a visit they received from Jacob, who Jin noted spoke excellent Korean.

Hurley hits the brakes on the Dharma van in ’77 and when Jack asks why, we see that Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate are standing in the road with their guns drawn.

’07 – Locke asks Richard why they’re stopping and Richard just says, “You’ll see.” Pan over to the statue’s foot.

Sawyer tells Jack he needs five minutes to talk to him before they let him go on. Jack flashes back to his first big surgery, during which Christian made him look like a fool. Afterward, Jack runs into Jacob at the candy machine when Jacob gets two candy bars after Jack’s gets stuck. As Jack walks away with his candy, we hear Jacob say, “I guess it just needed a little push.” This seemed to me like a reference to what it took to make Jack into a true believer instead of a cynical man of science. Back with Sawyer, Jack listens to the theory of ‘what’s done is done’ and denies it. A fistfight ensues, and is only broken up when Juliet arrives to tell Sawyer she has changed her mind about helping Jack. Flash to Young Juliet and sister Rachel getting told by their parents that they’re getting divorced. This leads to Juliet confronting Sawyer about his feelings for Kate, and her final argument, “If I never meet you, then I don’t have to lose you.” I really don’t like this reasoning, because I think that regardless of the love triangle and its outcome, Sawyer is a better man now than he was when the plane crashed. Reverting everything back would mean turning him back into the asshole he originally was.

Over near the Swan, Jack and Kate share a moment and Jack gets her to agree to help him after all. He says, “Nothing in my life has ever felt so right.” It seems to me that includes all the time he spent with Kate–hmm slap in the face much?

Off-island Hurley is getting out of jail, and naturally Jacob is waiting to share a cab back to town. Jacob explains to Hurley that maybe he’s not really cursed, and might even be blessed. He tells Hurley the Ajira flight information and says the choice is his. Jacob leaves the guitar case behind in the cab when he gets out.

’07 on the beach, and Richard is lighting torches to lead the way to Jacob. Richard is pissed when he sees Ben coming along, but Locke puts Richard in his place. Richard opens the door then leaves. Locke then hands Ben a knife and reminds him that things will change once Jacob is gone. For some reason I really felt like for once, Ben was going to follow through and not screw Locke over.

Near The Swan in ’77, Miles takes a moment to ask the group if anyone ever thought maybe the bomb was actually the cause of the incident, and that the best thing they could do was actually nothing. Once again, I have to thank the writers for making Miles the voice of the fans. I have been considering all along that the incident was really caused by the actions of the gang, rather than prevented by them. At the construction site, Jack is spotted and the big climactic firefight begins. Several Dharma folks are killed, and eventually Phil calls everyone off since there’s a gun to his head. Sayid has rigged the bomb to detonate on impact, and Jack drops it into the drill shaft since Faraday’s notes called for it to be close to the energy source. Everyone braces for the explosion and then nothing happens. Instead, the electromagnetism kicks into overdrive and metal stuff starts flying everywhere. Dr. Chang gets pinned under some scaffold and Jack gets busted upside the head by a toolbox, knocking him out. Sweetest of all, Phil gets pinned by scaffolding, then run through with some other metal parts. The culmination of the scene comes when Juliet gets tangled in a thick metal chain, which causes her to get dragged into the mouth of the shaft. Sawyer grabs her arm, but she cannot free herself from the chains. She professes her love for James while he shouts at her not to let go. Ultimately the magnetic force is to strong and she is pulled down the shaft, leaving a screaming, sobbing Sawyer on the surface with Kate.

The Ajira group approaches the Statue beach in ’07 and says they are looking for Ricardos. Richard steps forward and correctly answers the secret question with a Latin phrase. Ilyana then opens the crate and reveals that what they found in the cargo hold of the plane was the body of John Locke. So we quickly realize that this new forceful Locke is none other than some form of Man #2 from the opening sequence of this episode. This explains his strong desire to see Jacob and get Ben to do the dirty work for him. Inside the statue base, Jacob greets “Locke” and says, “I see you found your loophole.” to which he replies, “You have no idea what I’ve gone through to be here.” Jacob explains to Ben that he has a choice to make, which only serves to make Ben angrier than he already was. Ben is extremely bitter about the way he was treated, especially after he blindly followed orders and sacrificed so much for the island. Ben asks, “What was it that was so wrong with me?” and then wants to know what’s in it for him.

Ben: “What about me?”

Jacob: “What about you?”

That’s all the justification Ben needed to plunge the knife into Jacob’s chest. And while Ben seems somewhat horrified at what he has done, Man #2/Locke just kicks Jacob’s body into the fire to ensure the job is finished. The look on Ben’s face reminded me of two things at once: 1) Brutus after stabbing Ceasar, and 2) Judas after kissing Jesus on the cheek. I’m sure this similarity is not accidental.

Back at The Swan site, the camera takes us into the shaft, and to Juliet who’s eyes slowly open. She seems upset to still be alive, then happy to see that the un-detonated bomb is just a few feet away. She grabs a large rock and begins to strike the casing of the bomb. It doesn’t work at first, so she tries again and again and then a white flash fills the screen. LOST.

Let’s be clear. While the episode didn’t completely melt my brain, I still thought it was EXCELLENT. Just like we have all season, we got a lot of answers tonight–answers to questions we have been asking for years in some cases. Of course, in true Lost fashion, we got a bunch of questions too. But that’s okay. 

I told my wife last week that I thought the season would end with a white flash and LOST. I’m actually not thrilled to be right about it though. I would have loved to have been wrong and actually seen what happened to our heroes, instead of being forced to wait until January to find out. That’s okay though, because I know in a year when the series is over, I will be sad that there is no more suspense left. That is my advice for now–enjoy the suspense while we have it, because it is finite.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Scifi, Season Finale, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lost Season 5 Episodes 16 and 17: The Incident Pt 1 and 2

House Season 5 Episode 24: Both Sides Now

I am a colossal fool.

I actually bought into last week’s episode and the House-Cuddy hookup that wrapped it up. I can’t believe I didn’t even see this coming.

I’ve said it about a million times–we know that the patients on House always parallel what’s going on outside the exam room. Tonight the patient had ‘alien hand syndrome’ as a result of a procedure to split his brain in two. Oddly, I wasn’t even tipped off to the outcome of the episode when Thirteen made a totally obvious comment about the question of identity raised by their patient. My suspended disbelief even stayed intact as the episode got more and more ridiculous–with House announcing his Cuddy hookup to the entire staff after being encouraged by Wilson to be a bigger asshole than normal! Ultimately, the big reveal showed us that House quitting vicodin cold turkey was just a bunch of shit and that everything since his conversation with Cuddy last week was just a vision.

Despite my disappointment with the reveal, I enjoyed a couple parts of the episode immensely. House treating Cuddy’s potential feelings like an illness to be diagnosed was both funny and true to his character, although ultimately this led to the climax and my disappointment. Better still was the appearance of Carl Reiner as clinic patient Eugene Schwartz. At first I thought this was just an excuse for Reiner to cut up and give House/Cuddy something to fight about. I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreaking revelation that Eugene really had pancreatic cancer all along.

The good lines were spread around tonight:

  • House – “It’s like locking the barn door after the horse got out and it’s had its face between your breasts for an hour and a half.”
  • Wilson, responding to House’s update about getting busy with Cuddy – “Wow. You were sober AND SHE was sober?”
  • Thirteen to Taub about Chase/Cameron – “It’s always a sad thing when sperm comes between people.”
  • House – “Great advice, you pretend I’m gonna do that.”
  • Cuddy to House about his announcement to the staff – “What you did is beyond asshood!”

Another thing sticks with me about this episode. When House retrieved Wilson to assist with the patient in the MRI lab, he told Wilson he needed his special skills. Wilson came and talked the patient in a way that kept him preoccupied while the team could look for the underlying problem. I was left with the impression that even House realizes that Wilson has a talent for interacting with people who have mental problems.

The following are the three notes I wrote, in the order I wrote them, during the big climax scene in Cuddy’s office.

  1. What is going on with House?
  2. Is this whole thing a hallucination?
  3. Are you fucking kidding me?

As I watched the closing montage, I found myself unfulfilled by the Chase/Cameron wedding, even though I wanted them to be together. More importantly, I was shocked to see House actually allowing himself to be taken to rehab. At least I thought it was rehab until I saw the sign over the door that said Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. Was House actually committing himself? I guess we’ll find out for sure in a few months, but he made it pretty clear last week that vicodin-induced hallucinations would be easier to overcome than being a wacko–at least from a career perspective. This makes me think it really is rehab, and that it just happens to be a very serious program that actually takes place at a mental institution.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments