Category Archives: television

What I’ve learned from watching ‘Lost’

I have watched “Lost” faithfully since the very first episode. But for the past couple of seasons, I felt like I was just watching it because I had to, not because I wanted to. And that’s how I felt when the sixth and final season premiered… until the two-hour episode was up and I didn’t want it to end.

Maybe it’s because I know that this is the final season, and, that for better or worse, whether questions are answered or not, it will finally be over. And I want to know what happens.

In the six years I’ve been watching “Lost,” I’ve learned several valuable things about life along the way.

1. Expect the unexpected.

Granted, I’ve learned this from watching way too many seasons of “Big Brother,” too. But the lesson was driven home when the polar bear showed up. The dead don’t stay dead. The infirm can walk. Time travel without a DeLorean is possible. Men can wear eyeliner and manage to somehow pull it off. I know I shouldn’t be surprised when the show manages to surprise me, but I am. Constantly. Because I have no idea what’s going on.

2. The Devil is in the details.

Don't worry, Hurley. We're just as lost as you.

I used to think I was an observant person. I mean, I got the connection between Walt’s comic book and the polar bear. But more serious “Lost” fans notice what I never would have, even if I’d seen an episode more than once. For example, the season 6 premiere was titled “LA X.” I never even noticed that there was a space between “LA” and “X” until I read it on a blog. Is this significant? How could it not be? The Internet is teeming with sites devoted to these little clues in each episode, some of which are significant, some of which are red herrings. Most of which, I missed.

3. Don’t get attached.

Actually, I’ve learned this lesson from many of my favorite shows over the years. My favorite characters have a bad habit of dying on me. And “Lost” doesn’t pull any punches. Take the death of Charlie. Arguably one of the show’s most popular characters. One of mine, too. And then, he was killed in the third season finale. Though it wasn’t the last we saw of him, the show was a little less fun without him. Other characters I liked, Boone, Daniel, Charlotte, Claire… though, technically, I guess Claire isn’t dead… have met their end in one form or another. Which is why I’m very worried about Hurley, Jin and Sun during this final season.

4. Don’t go into the woods.

Seriously. There’s crazy stuff in the woods. Giant birds. Spiders that can make you only mostly dead. Polar bears. Smoke-monsters. ‘Nuff said.

5. Don’t mess with time travel.

Never a good idea to begin with, but even attempting to keep the timeline on “Lost” straight without extensive charts and graphs would give me an aneurysm faster than a time-hopping Charlotte. I have given up trying to remember who did what to whom and when they did it. I have learned to just go with the flow and hope that the writers will remind those of us with minds like Swiss cheese will explain some of this stuff.

6. Questions will not be answered.

Remember a few years ago when we were told we would finally learn about the numbers and the smoke monster. And… we didn’t? Yeah, totally not holding my breath for any real answers from this series. I have a feeling that when the final episode airs, “Lost” fans everywhere will turn to each other and go, “…What the fuck was that all about.” And the die-hards will get online to scrutinize frame by frame to come up with their own theories. And I’ll just shrug and go with it.

Perhaps we’re not meant to ever learn all the answers because the writers are totally making this crap up as they go along. Maybe detonating a nuclear device over a mysterious and powerful energy pocket can create alternate realities. Maybe it’s just one big, vague allegory on good and evil, life and death. Maybe it’s all a dream. And maybe a polar bear is just a polar bear.

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Finding refuge in “Dollhouse”

Even though it was announced a few weeks ago that “Dollhouse” was being canceled, I am still eagerly looking forward to the remain episodes, which begin tonight.

I’ve been a loyal viewer from the beginning, though at first I wasn’t sure I was going to like, as the series did have a bit of a slow start. But towards the middle of the season, it really started picking up. And then I bought the DVDs and watched the DVD-only episode “Epitaph One” and it really blew my mind.

It is a scary, scary future to think about… personality replacement being used as a weapon. But despite the apocalyptic future depicted in “Epitaph One,” I can’t help being fascinated by the concept of the Dollhouse. I’m about to lose some feminism points, I think, when I say that the idea of being a doll is somewhat… appealing to me.

I read a lot. I watch way too much TV for my own good. And I do these things as a form of escapism. “Dollhouse” plays fast and loose with the ideas of morality and ethics, but in a way that makes you think about them. And still, I find part of myself wishing I could be one of them. To escape my life, which I find hard to deal with at times, and to be something more exciting… even if I can’t remember any of it at the end of the day.

And I realize that makes me sound a bit crazy, because if you’ve seen the show, you’d know it’s not just about the exploitation of a body, but of the mind and soul.

And now, to make myself sound incredibly more emo (I’m totally blaming my recent foray into the insanity that is Twilight), I sometimes feel like an active awaiting assignment. I go through the motions of my day. Get up. Go to work. Come home. Watch TV. Go to bed. It’s like I’m waiting for my life to happen. What I wouldn’t give to be someone else, if only for a little while.

Of course, I could never be a doll, because I’m not smokin’ hot like Eliza Dushku, but I can understand why some of the characters chose to put themselves in that situation. Even if it is only fictional.

As I sit here at work, watching the clock tick ever more slowly towards quittin’ time, I eagerly await my two hours of escapism tonight, courtesy of the “Dollhouse.”

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It started a few weeks ago with a desire to watch “Once More With Feeling,” from “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” season 6 (otherwise known as the Buffy musical). I’d had my “Whedon Soundtrack” (consisting of my favorite songs from the Buffy musical and Dr. Horrible) playing in my car all that week, and I just wanted to see the episode again. That led to a desire to see evil!Willow again, which in turn made me want to see the beginnings of evil!Willow in season five, when Glory sucks Tara’s mind. And thus, I have embarked upon the Great Buffy Re-watch. Though I’m watching them all out of order. Season five, season six, season seven, season four and I’m now in the middle of season one.

Watching them out of order really hits home on how cheesily bad season one really is. No wonder I didn’t start watching until season three. I’m amazed it even got a second season after that. (It probably wouldn’t have if it had been on Fox.) Thankfully, Buffy eventually grew out of its awkward beginning stage into the brilliant show it became by season five. I’m looking forward to seeing seasons two and three again, too. Spike and Faith are two of my favorite Buffy-verse characters.

I love Joss Whedon’s work. The stories are compelling and the writing is excellent. I wish I could be more eloquent than that, but I have a hard time waxing poetic or even being witty. I think that’s why I like “Buffy,” “Angel,” “Firefly” and “Dollhouse” so much. Because I wish I could be that funny. There are moments in each series where I am struck by how brilliant the writing really is. And I get hit by writers-envy. But it doesn’t stop me from enjoying it.

I really love the new series, “Dollhouse.” (New episode tonight! Yay! No more until December! Boo!) But of the four series, I think “Firefly” was the most brilliant. Or maybe I just love Nathan Fillion that much. But it’s definitely my favorite.

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Breaking up is hard to do.

Breaking up is hard to do.

There are many emotions involved. Sadness over the loss of something you’ve cultivated for years. Guilt over making such a tough decision, even though it had to be done. Regret, because even though the relationship is over, you still care.

Decisions such as these are never easy to make. But… there’s only so many channels I can record at once.

With the new fall season upon us, and with the crazy reshuffling of my favorite shows this year, I’ve had to make some cuts.

So, I’m sorry, “Ugly Betty.” I’m breaking up with you.

It’s not you, it’s me. No, wait… I take that back. It’s ABC, for moving you from your Thursday evening time slot to Friday nights at 8, where you conflict with “Medium” and “Dollhouse.” And since I’m forced to choose between the three of you, well, “Dollhouse” wins, with “Medium” a close second, earning a spot on the DVR. And “Ugly Betty” gets kicked to the curb.

That may sound a little harsh for a show I’ve been (mostly) faithful to for three seasons. But I’ve been with “Medium” for five seasons, and “Dollhouse” and I are still in the early, exciting days of our relationship (plus, I’d been involved with “Dollhouse’s” older siblings, “Buffy,” “Angel” and “Firefly,” for many, many years). Something had to give. And wannabe fashionistas with braces just can’t compete with psychics and Eliza Dushku.

“Ugly Betty” isn’t the only program I’m giving the “Dear John” treatment this season. “The Mentalist” has been given the boot as well. This time, though, it’s not so much of a scheduling conflict, as it is a lack of interest on my part. It was fun in the beginning, but the magic quickly evaporated for me. Pity. Simon Baker does make for some nice eye candy. But I guess we were just destined for a one-season stand.

“Survivor” is also on the chopping block. After 18 seasons, I guess I’ve finally had enough of the lying, the scheming, and the lack of clothing and general hygiene from my first reality show love. Plus, the locations don’t seem so exotic anymore. If you’ve seen one South Pacific beach, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Perhaps a change of venue is needed to breathe a little new life into the show. Drop the contestants somewhere really dangerous… like the streets of Miami, or better yet, the mountains of Appalachia. When “Survivor: Deliverance Country” premiers, give me a call.

Some shows and I are on dangerous footing. If this weren’t the last season of “Lost,” I’d probably have to look at how seriously I take that relationship. But, I’ve stuck it out this long — might as well see how it ends.

“Heroes,” Zachary Quinto and Masi Oka are your only saving graces right now.

I also fear my love affair with “Grey’s Anatomy” is coming to an end as well. I can’t understand what I ever saw in it, really. If I ever found myself needing medical treatment in Seattle, I would NOT want any of those self-involved doctors treating me.

But from the ashes of these doomed relationships, new ones are formed. I’ve been flirting with the promos for “Flash Forward” all summer, and two episodes into the season, I think there might be something there between us.

I’ve also embarked upon some experimentation with a new form of programming, the Webisode. “The Guild” is a weekly sitcom, streamed free on MSN. Written and starring one of my favorite up-and-coming actresses, Felicia Day, the show follows a motley crew of online gamers who one day decide to meet in person. (Gasp!) It also doesn’t hurt that each episode is between three and eight minutes long, perfect for those of us who have the attention span of a fruit fly when it comes to surfing the ‘Net.

Although… now that many programs are available online, perhaps my breakup with “Ugly Betty” won’t be as, well, ugly as I thought it might. There may be some wiggle room in the relationship after all.

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“Take a look, it’s in a book…”

After 26 years on the air, “Reading Rainbow” has reached its final chapter.

“Reading Rainbow” was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. I think it help turn me into the voracious reader I am today. And without “Reading Rainbow,” I never would have discovered “Star Trek: TNG,” which was and still is one of my favorite shows of all time.

But my favorite episode of all had to be “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.” The story was read by James Earl Jones, and he really brought it to lif e for me.
Being young and fascinated with television, I remember being awed that our little school library had some of the books that were on “Reading Rainbow.” I would check them out and feel amazed that I was reading the same book I had seen on TV.

It saddens me that this much-loved show has come to an end. And it frustrates me that funding was cut because it was felt that emphasis needed to be placed on teaching kids to read, not why they should read. To me, why would kids want to apply themselves to reading if they don’t have a reason for doing so?

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,
Take a look, it’s in a book — Reading Rainbow …

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