Category Archives: Television

MSNBC Is the New FOX News?

According to The Daily Show

Oh well — I guess I’m glad to say I support it…

R.I.P. Dirty, Sexy, Money

The cast of Dirty, Sexy, Money
My friend Jennifer broke the news (via Ausiello) that Dirty, Sexy, Money is over… or will be, at the end of this season.

Although this show wasn’t quite as dirty or sexy or money as the title makes it sound, it was good. I loved the cast and the overarching mystery (“Who killed Nick’s dad?”) is the kind of stuff I love (a la the mysteries that encompass each season of Desperate Housewives). The show was also groundbreaking in that one of the major characters was an MTF.

I won’t miss Eli Stone — I watched two or so episodes of it and hated it. I hear from everyone that Pushing Daises is awesome but I never watched.

Let’s just hope they don’t cancel my other hanging-on-by-a-thread shows like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or Friday Night Lights.

The Final Cylon? A Gay Cylon?

io9 has a (part 1?) feature about who the final cylon on Battlestar Galactica is. I honestly have no idea who I want it to be. I’m worried that I’ve been waiting to find out for so long that no matter who the final cylon is, I won’t be satisfied… I’m also worried that it will be someone so minor/out-of-nowhere that it’s like, eh, really? I’m also worried that once we find out who the final cylon is, I won’t care as much about what happens from there on after.

In other cylon news, io9 also has a spoiler about the fact that Gaeta is indeed gay!!

I was sort of hoping that Gaeta would be a cylon (and I read somewhere that he almost was — but they ended up going with Anders instead…).

Oh January cannot come soon enough!!

Pretending To Be Blind

Strange that in season 2 of both Dynasty and Smallville someone is blinded by some traumatic event only to have their sight return but keeps it secret and continues pretending to be blind to see the true intentions of those around them. Both Lionel Luther and Blake Carrington fake their blindness.

I’m not saying that the trope of a using a blind person for literary/storyline purposes is strange… going way back to Oedipus, for example, the “blind” Oedipus often “sees” (in a metaphysical sense) the truth of a situation better than the sighted people around him.

What is interesting, I think, is that in both of these shows I love and am watching/recently watched, a person who loses their sight continues to pretend to be blind in order to “see” the world around him better. Lionel is able to see the truth behind various plans that Lex develops and Blake is able to figure out what exactly is going on in the Krystle-Nick Toscanni-Falon love triangle.

Basically what I’m trying to get at is that this is an interesting technique since it basically gives the characters get the advantages that frequently come with blindness in literature (i.e. “seeing” better/more in-depth) as well as a sort of double-vision where they see people’s true nature since those people assume the character is blind.

Wait, Worry: The Time Is Near: Part Two

During October 2005 I was writing reviews of every episode in the third season of one of my favorite TV shows, Millennium. Of course, I didn’t finish…

Alas, I finished watching Millennium a couple of weeks ago. The ending of the series is so unrewarding, that summarizing the second half of the season (see my review of the first half of Millennium season three) has been rather difficult. While there are some great episodes, I definitely felt empty at the end.

My feelings at the end were rather contradictory. Part of me was like, “Oh god, what happened to the show! Why has it turned into such a mess now!” But at the same time, I was also like, “No! Why does this have to be the final season… I wish the show could keep going.” There is lots of speculation (including a virtual fourth season of fan fiction) about where the show would have gone. I, of course, thought that season two was the perfect and would have brought Glen Morgan and James Wong back on the series.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my comments on the episodes in the last half of season two:

Matryoshka — I felt like this episode perhaps had the potential to be really cool — how was the Millennium Group involved with the FBI back in the 1940s? But then turning the story into something about the atomic bomb and having one of the scientists involved pulling a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde really makes it so unrealistic that the story loses something. Granted, Millennium (and pretty much every other television show I love) is “sci-fi” or whatever, but since it tried to incorporate itself in a historical event, it just felt lame.

Forcing the End — I loved that this episode brought Juliet Landau, who plays one of my favorite characters, Drusilla, on Buffy, to Millennium. Unfortunately, her character her wasn’t quite as interesting as Dru — I wish she would stick to playing crazy vampires, but oh well. The episode itself is about a Jewish cult that believes that Landau’s baby is a messiah who will re-build the Third Temple in Jerusalem. Of course, the semi-apocalyptic and religious overtunes make this a more “classic” Millennium episode, but the story just isn’t very engaging.

Saturn Dreaming of Mercury — This episode revolves around Frank’s daughter, Jordan, and her budding psychic abilities. I’ve been meaning to note that the actress who plays Jordan, Brittany Tiplady, is phenomonal as far as “children actors” go, but was waiting until this post to really highlight that fact. Ever since the first episode of Millennium, I’ve been in somewhat of awe of her. Watching her, you really cannot tell that she is “acting,” unlike most child actors. She is so convincing and natural. Sometimes I think that the crew fools her into thinking that everything is real and rather than telling her she’s an actress, they just make her think that Millennium is her real life and they are recording her or something — she is that good! As for “Saturn Dreaming of Mercury,” though, the episode itself is so-so. Jordan has trouble at school because she basically sees the devil in one of her neighbours/the father of a classmate. The episode ends very open-endedy (and even gives us a glimpse of Lucy Butler!!), but in a bad way. Nonetheless, I love the episode since it gives the character of Jordan a chance to shine.

Darwin’s Eye — The best part of this episode is the song “Trimm Trabb” by the band Blur. The episode is about a young woman who has some sort of psychological issues. She is also super smart, or something. At the begining of the show, she escapes from prison and gets picked up by a cop who she ultimately wins over. The two of them seem to fall in love, but then she kills him after he “sees the palm tree” (literally: the shadow of a palm tree in the motel room she brings him too). The episode is rather confusing and I’m not sure what everything means at the end. There is definitely something going on with the palm trees and nuclear bomb testing, but I think the episode does a poor job of tying everything together.

Bardo Thodol — Another weird and confusing episode that gets a little too sci-fi-ish for me. Frank Black investigates a crate of hands that, he later finds out, were artificially created and that the lab that created them also deals with stem cells, etc. etc. creating human clones. Hmm… sounds a little X-Files-like, eh? Added to that, though, is some sort of Buddhist/dying/spiritual reflection thing and Millennium Group evilness.

Seven and One — What does “seven and one” refer to? Eight. Jordan turns eight in this episode. I love the Jordan-centric episodes, but really this one is about Frank Black and his past. Apparently when he was a kid he was being teased by some bullies and when his brother tried to stick up for him, his brother accidently caused a kid to drown. Ever since, Frank has been afraid of drowning. At the end of the episode, of course, Frank confronts a sort of ghost or something and has a freaky drowning hallucination. But it was just a hallucination. But it wasn’t shot like one, so we are lead to believe that something actually happened. Another so-so episode…

Nostalgia — After a string of pretty lame episodes, “Nostalgia” lifted me up. Though, I must admit, this episode is totally a Twin Peaks rip-off. Through a recent murder, Frank and Emma end up investigating a young, blonde, flirtatious, self-destructive woman who died years ago. Hmm… Laura Palmer anyone?? This episode was pretty good, though. I loved how the “good cops” turned out to be sleezy womanizers.

Thirsty for Buffy?

Adding to my theory that Smallville is awesomely postmodern, I just watched the season five episode “Thirst.”

The episode is about a vampire sorority headed by a girl named Buffy Sanders. Hmm… sounds a bit like my favorite vampire hunter Buffy Summers!

To make things more fun and postmodern, there is a scene where Clark tells Professor Fine (played by James Marsters) that he thinks Lana was bit by a vampire. Professor Fine responds, “There’s no such thing as vampires.” … Except that in Buffy Marsters played the evil-turned-good vampire Spike.

Oh will the references never end! Let’s hope not!!

Best Postmodern Show Ever

Clark Kent and Lois Lane meet
Well, maybe Arrested Development is the best postmodern show ever (and Boston Legal would be up there, too), but Smallville, my latest television obsession, is probably the second.

I’ve been plowing through the show for about two months now, and have reached the season four premier. I’ve been meaning to post about the postmodern, self-reflexive greatness for a while, but nothing has compelled me more than this episode.

For those not aware, Smallville basically goes back to the origins of Superman and follows Clark Kent growing up in Smallville, Kansas. The show is set in contemporary times so it’s not like some ’50s or ’70s version of Superman-as-a-kid.

I myself am not a huge Superman fan (when it comes to comic heroes/stories, I prefer Batman and X-Men), so I was reluctant to start the show… but after the urging of a couple of friends, I took the plunge. And now, obviously, I’m quite hooked.

From a television entertainment standpoint, I like the way the show is serialized (like Lost) and not many weekly stand-alone episodes. The first season was “monster of the week” (a la old X-Files episodes), but once season two came around the show did a great job of incorporating those MOTW stories with the overarching mythology of the show.

What I really love about the show, though, is all the little references and allusions it makes to other pop culture incarnations of Superman. Some of my favorites (in a quick, incomplete list):

  • Lex Luthor telling Clark, “Our friendship is going to be the stuff of legend.”
  • Casting Annette O’Toole to play Clark’s mom. She played Lana Lang in Superman 3
  • Casting Christopher Reeve to play the mysterious Dr. Swann. He, of course, is the most well-known actor of Superman.
  • In “Crusade” (the season four premier) the pilots of a plane notice the approaching and now-flying Superman and one says, “Is it a bird?” while the other says, “Is it a plane?” in reference to “It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s Superman!”

There are tons others and I probably should’ve kept a list, but oh well… you get the idea.

One of my favorites, however, is the fact that in “Crusade” (the aforementioned season four premier), Margot Kidder (the most well-known actress to play Lois Lane) appears in the same episode that we are introduced to the Smallville version of Lois Lane. So basically the episode is an all-around Lois Lane fest.

Another thing I love about Smallville is the tension that I felt when I started watching the show and saw that Clark was friends with Lex Luthor and Clark’s main romantic interest is Lana Lang. I say “tension” because ever since I started watching, I’ve been waiting to see when Lex and Clark have their falling-out and when we’d meet Lois Lane, who we all know becomes Clark’s primary love interest for most of the Superman mythology. It’s an interesting way to do the show, since we all know what happens in the end, but it’s all the details in the beginning and the middle that are murky, and I think the creators/people who make the show do an awesome job teasing that tension out.

So all-in-all, I’m delightedly surprised at how much I am loving Smallville. My only concern now is that I’m almost on season five, and that’s the last season available on DVD now, which means I’m almost all caught-up. I’m gonna have to start thinking of new sci-fi television shows to fill the void that I’m still trying to fill that was left by X-Files and Buffy.

Lost and Done

Locke sitting at a computer playing chess
I’m very excited that an end date has been set for Lost.

I think all of us who watch it have been worried that it would either drag on for season after season and become overly complex and irrelevant (a la The X-Files) or get canceled before things could get wrapped up neatly (a la Twin Peaks). Or that it would wrap everything up in season 4 then have a stupid season 5 (a la Angel).

But now we know that Lost will have 3 more seasons left with 18 episodes each.

Unlike many other mythology/arch-based shows, I think Lost‘s “big question” is much more existential than others. Unlike Twin Peaks where the mysteries revolve around a certain event (“Who killed Laura Palmer?” “Why is Windom Earle back in Twin Peaks?”) or a Big Question like The X-Files (“What is the conspiracy?”), on Lost we want to know about the nature of the lostaways existence.

It’s not just “What is the deal with the polar bears?” or “What is the black smoke?” or “Who are the others?,” what we really want to know about is the reality of the island — is it real? is it a dream? are they dead? etc.

I think this type of story structure, more than others, really needs to have a planned-out ending and cannot go on too long. Yay for giving Lost an end date!