All Ben, all the time: A one-on-one with Michael Emerson
Hot on the heels of last week's amazing, Ben-centric "Lost" epsiode, Ain't It Cool News blogger Quint scored a major interview with the man himself, Michael Emerson. It's hard to read anything about Emerson with coming across the phrase "nicest guy you'll ever meet." Co-stars and show crew alike sing his praises, and remark on the sharp contrast between the actor and the character he plays: Shifty, scheming, sneaky Benjamin Linus.
In the spoiler-lite interview, which you can read right here, Emerson has to dance a little, careful not to reveal any big island secrets. And for the most part, he couldn't even if he wanted to, telling Quint that he sometimes gets scripts the day of shooting -- scripts that were only finished the night before. But hidden within his evasive, murky answers, a few tantalizing, pearls pop out.
POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT. For example, when asked about Ben summoning the smoke monster last week, Emerson makes a seemingly casual comment about "balance" on the island, and how "for Ben to make a thing happen like that, there is also a price, I think, that he had to pay." He goes on to let this bomb drop: "Everyone who has power also pays a price. John Locke is going to pay a price."
I'm sorry, what's that? Locke's going to pay a price? How so? When? C'mon, Emerson, don't leave me hanging!
Overall it's a great interview with an actor who has become the standout in a ever-expanding ensemble cast. And we'll have to tune in tomorrow night to see if Ben or Locke start paying any prices...
Prepping for its fall season, to begin Sept. 8, NBC has announced its fall line-up of crappy, semi-crappy and "we'll have to see if it's as crappy as it sounds" TV shows. Since the line-up, including upcoming new shows, is packed full of way-too-muchery for just one blogger, I've enlisted help from fellow Channel Surfer Malavika Jagannathan to help jab the peacock. Yes, that's what she said.
Sara: Thirsty for comedy Thursday
I think it's best to start with Thursday, because let's be honest, it's NBC's only hope at ratings survival.
Sure, you have your classic shows you knew wouldn't die off -- quite yet anyway. "The Office" appears to be keeping its more recent 8 p.m. time slot, following "My Name is Earl" at 7 p.m. and "30 Rock" at 7:30 p.m. The "Scrubs" time spot, which is rumored to be heading from the peacock to the alphabet (ABC), will be replaced with hour-long episodes of "The Office" until October.
After that, "Saturday Night Live" will go live on Thursday night for prime time election coverage -- I'm thinking a la "Daily Show" or "Colbert Report." Yes, it's confusing, "Saturday Night Live" will be "Saturday Night Live," live on Thursday. Don't think about it too hard, and try to keep up.
Hour-long episodes of "The Office" may not be the best news -- considering the shambled attempt at comedy the show is currently in -- but potential good news is on the way.
NBC has confirmed it will begin an "Office" spin-off -- for now, titled just that "The Office Spin-Off." The premiere will have a lot of pressure on its shoulders as NBC plans to air the new show right after the Super Bowl. Yikes. Based on the rumors floating around, the show will 1. not have any of the current cast members (though rumors continue that Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) may start up his own hilar office -- to which I say, hell yes!), 2. it will most likely follow the annoying footsteps of "Grey's Anatomy"/"Private Practice" by introducing the spin-off characters during an episode of "The Office" and 3. the spin-off is currently casting for its "big name" to head up the show. Any ideas for who you'd like to see run this office?
"The Office Spin-Off" will air after "The Office" at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays in 2009.
Also, this comment about the spin-off was made on TVGuide.com, where the announcement of #2 came: DON'T DO THIS TO A FABULOUS SHOW THAT HAS NOT HAD A BAD EPISODE YET!!" To which I must say, uh, what show are you watching?!
Sara: Too phat Tuesday
But enough about NBC squashing any hopes and dreams of fresh comedies. Er, wait ... hold that thought. NBC's Tuesday line-up includes a new show called, "Kath and Kim" starring funny gal Molly Shannon and annoying Selma Blair. The pair is coined to be the "dysfunctional duo in suburbia." Kath (Shannon) and her daughter Kim (Blair) are two "brassy women" who must deal with city life and their reunion as housemates, after Kim left and has now returned back home.
Yes, that sentence had way too many issues. Hold up the gravy train ... Shannon, born in 1964, is supposed to be the mother of Blair, born in 1972? Are you kidding me? That would make Shannon, um, eight when Blair was born. Even Jamie Lynn Spears would frown at that.
The show is based on a popular Australian version of the same name, but it's unclear whether or not it will truly translate to crass, egotistical, shallow American television.
"Kath and Kim" airs at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
Malavika: Second time around
Ever wondered how horrible shows get picked up for a second season? I have unearthed the formula: terrible TV show + bad actors multiplied by the square root of some executive's stupidity.
That explains how "Lipstick Jungle" is back on Wednesdays for more fun and games. Carrie and Co. are crying into their cosmopolitans at this less-than-satisfying ripoff of HBO's epic "Sex and the City." Of the two knockoffs that plagued the airwaves this season, ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" had more spunk and a little less maudlin. Which naturally explains why "Lipstick Jungle" will continue to annoy "SATC" fans for yet another season.
But it's not all bad news. "Life" with the talented (and scrumptious) Damian Lewis of "Band of Brothers" fame is getting another shot on Fridays. Let's hope that NBC does a little better marketing for this understated and sublime show this season. Pitching it as a show "about a cop who was imprisoned wrongly for a crime" doesn't even begin to get at it. With its first season cut short by the writers strike, I'm happy to see "Life" return for a hopefully full season.
Check out the full NBC schedule to check out the complete line-up plus the ridiculous upcoming new shows (that really, there's just not enough time in the world to rip apart completely and sufficiently).
Commercial Interruption: Smokey and the "Lost" Time Bandits
Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle.
That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). With a few days to process ALL the information thrown at them, bloggers Thomas Rozwadowski and Adam Reinhard discuss "Lost's" triumphant return Thursday night and whether Iraq truly is lovely this time of year.
Thomas: Well, I'm fairly certain we can make some amendments to our Top Ten "Holy Crap!" list following "The Shape of Things to Come." The Ben-Charles Widmore confrontation at the end. The glyph door and Smokey being "dispatched" to take care of the freighter fighter squad. "He changed the rules." Sawyer having a god damned heart after all.
Please tell me you walked away satisfied from this episode, because after a five-week hiatus, I can't imagine a better push forward than "Lost" made Thursday night. It's Ben and Chaz Widmore's show from here on out, and there's a real sense of clarity that comes with "Lost's" end date, knowing that everything is finally, FINALLY going to fit this real life game of chess they're playing.
Now, I don't know exactly what Ben is alluding to when he says he can't kill Charles or if Smokey was summoned from the underground/is actually part of Ben's little teleportation (?) experiment and serves as the manifestation of course correction per whatever timeline the island is working on -- I mean, c'mon, Doc Freighter's body washing ashore couldn't be more clear. We're dealing with split timelines here. And while we might not get answers regarding everything that happened in past seasons, whatever Ben knows about Charles, Charles knows about Ben, and the subsequent manipulation of those on the island to fit their H.G. Wells-ish reshaping of humanity, well, it gives me goosebumps. And if Michael Emerson doesn't win an Emmy this year ...
Adam: I agree, this episode was a Top Ten "Holy Crap!" Moments list unto itself, and I think a real turning point for the series. Years from now, when the show is over, we'll be able to look back at Alex's death as a pivotal moment, because, as Ben himself said, the rules have been changed. Now we have Charles Bronson "Death Wish" Ben, driven over the edge by anger and grief, focusing his vengeance on killing Widmore's daughter. Would they actually kill off Penny before reuniting her with Desmond? If so, will Desmond then die without his "constant?" And oh, hey, ALEX IS DEAD NOW. Can we talk about that please? That was probably "Lost" at its most hardcore, not only killing off a likeable, innocent character, but a KID. Also, as long as Alex stayed alive, I figured Rousseau would come back, because by God there was no way the producers were going to deny me a Rousseau flashback. But Ben just had to stay in the house, and now we'll never get to see how that crazy French chick got her music box. Alas.
Overall, fantastic episode that propelled the storyline nicely while offering new and intriguing mysteries. For example, when Hurley apologized to Jack in the season premiere for going with Locke, could he maybe have meant going to Jacob's cabin? And does Ben really control Smokey, and does that mean he's responsible for every appearance the monster has made? And why did Widmore tell Ben, "Looks like you're getting more sun," when Ben lives on a frickin' tropical island? So many questions ...
Thomas: "He changed the rules." How did you interpret that comment? Ben's absolute assurance that he was in control of the entire hostage situation makes me think there's more to it than just, "I was going to play the fake daughter card and they'd walk away without calling the bluff." I don't know why. I don't know how. But changing the rules seemed to go beyond some iron-clad pact between Widmore and Ben to not harm their loved ones during this little island takeover business. It was about knowing that certain outcomes affect other outcomes -- and all of humanity potentially rests on it -- which is a time-bending construct I firmly believe in when it comes to future "Lost" storylines. Killing Alex was not supposed to be part of that bargain. Smokey made good on that. Of course, I also now picture a human chess game between two immortals, Ben and Charles, being played for all of eternity and I'm not sure if that's just my imagination running away with me or I'm reading way too much into Chaz's, "I know who you are, boy. WHAT you are," statement.
Here, here on Alex. And I thought Sawyer shooting Mr. Friendly was hardcore. So what's up with Hurley being the key to the Jacob puzzle? Do you see a potential Assassin Sayid-Desmond showdown coming when it's time to take out precious Penny? That could be nosebleedin' brilliant. Oh, and were you laughing when all those island "extras" were getting blasted during the Sawyer "Die Hard" shoot-out that led to Claire's house going kablooie? Sorry, but I had to chuckle when bandana lady was all, "I just came out to hang some clothes on the line ... akkkkkkkkk!"
Adam: The best part was how whenever Sawyer would try to warn a red-shirt to "Get inside!" or "Get down!", BLAM! they'd get one through the chest. Maybe just shut up next time, James. (Is that officially the end of the extras, by the way? Are we down to just the main characters now?)
Here's my problem with the "immortals" theory: If everyone who lives on the island -- the "hostiles," "Others," what-have-you -- are immortal, they obviously can by shot to death, since our heroes have dispatched a fair number of them now. So why did Ben tell Widmore he couldn't kill him? If Mr. Friendly could be shot dead, why couldn't Widmore? I think there's more to Ben's statement that an admission of inability.
Which brings us back to "the rules." Something about the killing of Alex completely altered the way Ben handled the armed intrusion. Once "the rules" were changed, it was perfectly OK for him to unleash freight-train Smokey. If he had done that to begin with, would he have been the rule-breaker? I don't know if I'm sold on your theory of determinism and future constructs ... but then again, I don't have a better theory, so I'll just shut up.
Thomas: I don't believe in an immortals theory, per se. It's just what I pictured in my head, particularly after the Risk reference and how Hurley said, "Australia was the key to the whole game." And even if there was some justification for Ben and Widmore not being able to die because of the island -- like Michael -- it'd have something to do with all this teleportation madness going on, being alive in one place, dead in another, that kinda thing. Geez, the look on the hotel clerk's face when Ben said he was Dean Moriarty, a preferred guest, AND THEN ASKED WHAT YEAR IT WAS. Crazy. It's all going to make sense, right?
I mean, I've read it all by this point. That Desmond and Penny are the island's Adam and Eve. That Ben rolled around in some crazy ash and balled up his rage into the Smokey killing machine. No one has pinned any reasonable explanation down -- but all roads go through Ben and Charles trying to wrestle control of the island. I don't think in Season Two when the Tallies were introduced that the writers knew that's where the show was heading. That's why I'm really digging the clarity of this plot line -- as opposed to say, Jack coming down with appendicitis this week. Yawn.
What if Ben and Charles can't pull the trigger because they're each other's constants?
Adam: Dude, Jack's appendicitis is the key to the whole series! Don't you see!? Juliet's gonna tear that appendix out, toss it into the ocean like a live grenade, and when it explodes it's gonna rip a new hole in the space/time continuum and the whole island's gonna fall into a spinning, shimmering vortex and end up in, you guessed it, the "Land of the Lost." It will be Hurley and Sleestak, together at last.
Yes, the Kerouac/"On the Road" reference was a nice touch, coming from a couple of producers who love tossing in literary allusions. And the fact that Ben didn't know what year it is would seem to be a nice hint as to the nature of his teleportation/time travel. No flux capacitor possesses he -- it's likely a more random, ballpark-figure type deal.
I'm a little bothered at the thought of the rest of the show focusing on Ben and Widmore battle-royaling it for control of the island. I haven't spent four seasons getting to know and love billionaire tycoon Chuck Widmore. And Ben was never intended to be a regular character, until the producers realized the awesomeness of Michael Emerson. I want the rest of the show to be about Jack, Locke, Kate, Sawyer, and Hugo motherflippin' Reyes, dammit!
If there's one thing from that episode we can agree on, it's this: Eating crackers makes you feel better when you're sick.
I don't know where to begin. I was literally stunned by how bad last night's episode of "The Office" was. Physically pained. Nauseated. I'm sure watching it is what made those U.S. contractors fire on those Iranian boats today. Yes, last night's episode was bad enough to start a war over.
Let's just list all the excruciatingly unfunny things that happened in "Night Out," shall we? Michael getting gum in his hair after chasing something shiny under Stanley's car. Dwight attempting to dislodge the gum by giving his boss a peanut-butter scalp massage. Ryan visiting the office and spouting platitudes like "Stay real, Scranton!" Michael's continual horndog antics, announcing to his employees that he was heading out to a New York nightclub to "get laid," and Dwight tagging on "With sex!" Dwight going ON AND ON AND ON about the guy who looked like a hobbit. (WE GET IT. THE DUDE WAS SHORT.) The security guard locking everyone in, because obviously he didn't see all their cars parked there. Ryan's obvious coke addiction. (Because cocaine addiction is hi-larry-us!)
Oh god, I can't even go on. Just typing this I can feel my soul seeping out my fingers, and, hey, what's that noise? Why, it's the sound of ten thousand babies crying. Nice job, "The Office." You made TEN THOUSAND BABIES CRY.
"Night Out," written by "Office" regular Mindy "Kelly Kapoor" Kaling, seemed to retread a lot of popular and oh-so-worn-out themes. Michael's hopelessness with women. Dwight's obsession with fantasy. Ryan's douchebaggery. Jim's ineptitude as a leader. It was stuff we have seen ad nauseum from this show, and simply stank of creative bankruptcy.
And to add insult to injury, it also appears that Toby, long my favorite character, will soon be exiting the show. Maybe. After a rather awkward (geez, does this show know how to do anything else?) moment involving his hand and Pam's thigh, Toby announces to the group that he's moving to Costa Rica, then jumps the parking lot gate and hoofs it home. Whether or not that's the last we'll ever see of our puppy-faced PR rep remains to be seen. But wow, he couldn't have picked a worse episode to go out on.
It began when a certain Channel Surfing blogger decided to take matters into his own hands and mock the pure love that we (MalavikaJagannathan and Sara Boyd) hold for Jim Halpert of "The Office."
The mockery could not go unanswered, but we figured we'd take the high road. Instead of responding with a vitriolic blog post dissecting Tom's unnatural affection for, say, Kristin Chenoweth on "Pushing Daisies," we let Jim's genius do the work for us. In three seasons of "The Office," Jim has plagued fellow co-worker Dwight with pranks that stand the test of time. They range from the simple - suspending Dwight's possessions in Jello - to the complex - convincing Dwight that he is being courted by the C.I.A.
But the success of Jim's pranks all hinge on one factor - a factor we believe Tom shares with Dwight - and that's just plain old underestimation. Plus, he clearly deserves it.
10:25 a.m. Tom discovers that his Press-Gazette ID badge has been suspended in cherry Jello. His name has been replaced by the word "fart" in an obvious homage to two separate pranks that Jim plays on Dwight (putting his stapler in Jello and changing his security ID badge* to say that Dwight's middle name is "fart"). His response? "Well played" then later "Want some Jello? There's plenty to go around." Thanks for the compliment, but this is only the beginning ...
(*It should also be noted that once Mr. Rozwadowski removes his ID badge, he will notice he has been labeled a security threat.)
11 a.m. People have begun referring to Tom as Tim. It's a subtle reference to the time Jim paid $5 to his coworkers to call Dwight "Dwayne." We didn't pay anyone. So far, three co-workers have referenced him as Tim. His response? "I'm wise to your Tim experiment as well...Good effort, though." Pshaw. Good effort? Just you wait, Tim. Just you wait.
12 :27 p.m. Tom has been delivered a fax from the receptionist from none other than Future Tom. It reads: Tom,
At 9 a.m. today, someone poisons the Mountain Dew. Do NOT drink the Mountain Dew. More instructions to follow.
Cordially, Future Tom
We can only hope that in similar fashion from the show, Tom will rush down to the break room and slap a bottle of MD out of the hands of a co-worker, much like Dwight "heroically saved" Stanley from a comparable fate from poisoned coffee.
Alas, his response is vague and lame: "I got your poisonous Mountain Dew memo." Thanks, Captain Obvious.
12:40 p.m.Malavika begins conversing with Tim - er - Tom about the fact that today is Friday, not Thursday, channeling the time Jim and Pam made Dwight think that. Here's the transcript of our actual conversation:
Malavika: I thought you were off today btw Tom: Nope, tomorrow Malavika: Oh weird. But we switched days remember? I'm off tomorrow Tom: Yep. I thought you took off Monday. Do you think today is Friday? Tom: Quit confusing me, jack---* Malavika : No dude, I'm off tomorrow bc we switched days Malavika : I'm working Sunday, right?
*comment has been edited for content
12:52 p.m. Continued efforts to make Tim, er, Fart, er, Tom think today is in fact Friday, not Thursday, seem to have upset our victim. Perhaps someone needs some Andy Bernard anger management. Read as follows:
---------------- From: Boyd, Sara Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:49 PM To: Rozwadowski, Tom Subject: RE: blogger ...
Is blogger working yet? I was kind of hoping to post reactions from 30 Rock and The Office last night, but looks like it might have to be a day late? Or should we just post it sans pictures for now?
Let me know if you notice it comes back in action.
From: Rozwadowski, Tom Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:52 PM To: Boyd, Sara Subject: RE: blogger ...
I hate you. ----------------
1:10 p.m. Being the subject of pranks is not going over well with Tim - er - Tom. He's refusing to leave his desk ("if you're gonna do something to me, it's going to have to be at my desk... i will not stand for it!"). Very Dwight-like response. We almost expect him to start cancelling his credit cards any second now.
1:22 p.m. Paranoia has set in. Efforts to get Mr. Rozwadowski away from his desk are met with a "um, considering I don't trust you anymore today, I'll have to pass ... that and I don't have all of Jim's pranks memorized." For shame.
****UPDATE**** 5:40 p.m. The day is complete. All of Tom's pens have been replaced with crayons.
Thank you to all our coworkers who lent a hand. We couldn't have done it without you. A special thank you to Jim Halpert from "The Office" who inspired us to go beyond pettiness and aim for greatness. P.S. -- we're here for you, if you ever break it off with Pam.
Don't forget to watch "The Office" on NBC at 8 p.m.
Blogger felt the need to try and sabotage our collaboration ala John Locke blowing up Ben's submarine, but like a determined Jack trying to find the island again, Thomas Rozwadowski and Adam Reinhard can't be deterred from posting their all-time favorite "Lost" moments.
While not quite as dramatic as feeling your spine shatter after getting shoved out an eight-story window, both have watched with mouths wide open on more than one occasion. With Season Four's re-launch set for 9 p.m. tonight, it felt appropriate to mark the show's return with a countdown of favorite chair-grabbing moments -- some you'd probably expect, others that may surprise you.
So grab some warm Dharma beer, spin some Mama Cass in the background and by all means, feel free to rank your own in the Comments section. C'mon, you know you want to give Jack's tattoo episode some love.
10. The Economist: Sayid is working for Ben off the island
The table was set with Sayid unexpectedly blasting some poor schmuck on a golf course. The rest of the episode methodically played out as one giant double-cross, but it was the revelation that Ben is playing puppet master off the island that created a whole new web of intrigue for the Oceanic Six. Is Ben (gasp) really one of the good guys? Say it ain't so, Sayid ...
9. Flashes Before Your Eyes: Desmond travels back in time, tells Charlie he's going to die
A Desmond-centric episode that had SO much confusing new information -- who the hell is the lady with the wedding ring? -- your head was spinning by the time Future Man finally revealed how and why he saved a drowning Claire. Yep, Charlie's days were numbered, and Desmond's time-traveling shenanigans were only just beginning.
8. Not in Portland: Edmund is killed by a bus after Juliet tells Richard Alpert what she'd like to see happen to him
It's a moment that came out of nowhere, one that if you walked to the fridge to get a drink or looked down to pick a piece of lint off your shirt would have simply happened and then ... poof ... that moment could've never returned with the same dramatic impact. And it might seem minor. After all, who is Edmund Burke? But that it was set up by Juliet's wishful thinking in front of the enigmatic Richard Alpert trying to recruit her to the island, well, it's the rare non-cliffhanger that made the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Man, those creepy "Others" are gooooood.
7. Live Together, Die Alone: Desmond discovers what happened when he didn't push the button
"I think I crashed your plane." Classic. And then the sky turned purple ...
6. The Man Behind the Curtain: RichardAlpert appears to Ben in the jungle having never aged
Ben's arrival on the island is pretty non-descript -- at least until he starts to see his dead mother roaming in the woods. In his child-like haste, he tries to track her down -- only to bump into another familiar face -- a familiar face that's too familiar when you consider Ben's age at the time. Richard Alpert as Ponce de Leon? Believe it.
5. The Man Behind the Curtain: Jacob to Locke, "Hellllpppp meeeeeee."
Locke turns into a doubting Thomas as Ben puts on a "show" in front of an empty chair. And then the fireworks really begin.
4. The Man From Tallahassee: Locke's father is shown tied up in a closet via Ben's "magic box"
Locke getting shoved out an eight-story window by his old man may have helped solve one of the show's longstanding mysteries. But that was only the opening act. How did Ben conjure up the real Sawyer/Locke's father via the "magic box?" It's a question that should be near the top of every "Lost" fan's list. No one saw it coming.
3. Through the Looking Glass: Charlie drowns, but not before warning Desmond of the freighter
Perhaps the most poignant death in the show's history. A heart-crushing slo-mo scene for Driveshaft fans everywhere -- Charlie accepting his fate and making one last sign of the cross.
2. The Constant: "I know about Eloise" -- Desmond meets Faraday in the past to discuss his future, er past, er what?
Desmond episodes have always been fascinating, but "The Constant" bent the concept of time beyond recognition. Daniel Faraday's Eloise experiment added dramatic depth to the island's warped properties. But while Jack, Kate, Locke and Ben have consistently taken on starring roles, Desmond's the one who really gives the show its spark of intrigue. Allowing viewers to flash in and out, well, it was (nose) bloody brilliant.
1. Through the Looking Glass: "We have to go back, Kate!"
I'm most angry at how Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" pulled me out of the entire episode -- how the subtle touch of adding a semi-obscure grunge-era tune off "In Utero" allowed me to automatically assume it was Jack's past we were looking at. "Through the Looking Glass" has it all: the shout-out to a drunken Christian Shephard, the tension between Jack and his ex-wife, the damned mystery coffin. But that ending. That completely twisted, out-of-left-field, HOLY CRAP ending. Past, present, future -- it changed how everyone would forever watch "Lost." And most important of all, the slow, maddening decline of Boy Scout Jack was officially put into motion.
This highly divisive episode -- most fans hated the new characters of Nikki and Paulo, while the rest hated them even more -- was brilliant for a few reasons. It painted these castaway interlopers as truly despicable people, but also served as a summary of the series so far, seen through new eyes. But the ending ... that Twilight Zone ending, where a paralyzed Nikki snaps open her eyes just in time to see a shovelful of dirt hit her face as she and her lover are buried alive ... holy crap.
9. The Whole Truth: "I guess it's a good thing I'm not one of them, huh?" For a few episodes in Season 2, we weren't sure whether or not to believe the tale told by "Henry Gale." Was he really a stranded balloonist who buried his wife on the island, or was he an Other? But this line, delivered as a chilling aside by the man we now know as Ben, put our suspicions to rest.
8. Deus Ex Machina: A light comes on in the hatch
When Locke and Boone discovered a mysterious door in the ground, that was crazy enough. But it was this episode where, after Boone's accident, Locke pounds on the hatch in a fit of despair and doubt, only to be answered by a glowing, humming light, coming from inside.
7. Exodus Part 2: Arzt gets careless with the dynamite
This moment has no bearing on island mysteries, offered no development of major characters, nor added to show canon in any way. But the sudden, explosive death of Dr. Arzt served as a reminder that anything can happen on "Lost" at any time ... which is why it rocks.
6. Raised By Another: Ethan wasn't on the manifest This episode marked the first appearance of an Other -- even though we had already been introduced to him as a castaway. But Hurley's discovery that Ethan wasn't on the plane, followed by the immediate kidnapping of Claire and Charlie, began our ongoing adventure with these mysterious island-dwellers.
5. Two For the Road: Michael shoots Ana Lucia
We knew Michael, distraught over the loss of his son, would do anything to get Walt back from the Others. But his shooting of Ana Lucia -- in order to frame Ben -- was still shocking and brutal. If that wasn't enough, he also shoots Libby, who was just looking for some blankets.
4. Catch-22: "They found the plane ... there were no survivors."
There were always rumors swirling around the intertubes that the castaways never survived the plane crash, and that the island was actually purgatory, and blah blah blah. But when parachuter Naomi reveals to Hurley that Flight 815 was found and that everyone on board was dead ... well, holy crap.
3. Walkabout: Locke was in the wheelchair
The show's first true "Holy crap" moment, and still one of its best. Established knife-enthusiast and man of action John Locke is revealed to have been kind of a loser pre-island. But it was all a distraction from the real surprise, that Locke couldn't even walk before Flight 815 crashed. Just a brilliant revelation that established the series as one deserving total fan obsession. (As you can tell by this rather lengthy list of ours.)
2. The Man Behind the Curtain: Jacob's cabin freak-out
This moment, where Ben introduces Locke to Jacob, takes my No. 2 spot not merely for how freaking scary it is, but because it actually increased our interest in Jacob, the enigmatic island honcho whose "lists" determine the actions of the Others. Our brief glimpse of his profile, his wide, wild eye, and his plaintive cry of "Help me," are only the start of what promises to be a long, fascinating relationship with this ghostly presence.
1. Through the Looking Glass: "We have to go back!"
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the game changer. Until this, the third season finale, we only saw glimpses of the castaways' pasts, and the struggles that led them to the island. But when Kate stepped out of the shadows and into what we had presumed was another Jack flashback, not only was it clear that they made it off the island, but in Jack's case -- "We have to go back, Kate! We have to go back!" -- that wasn't necessarily a good thing. This moment sets up the rest of the series, as we presumably discover not only how they get off, but why Jack needs to return so badly. Only one thing is for certain: There are a lot more "Holy crap!" moments to come.
The six remaining "American Idol" contestants tackled Andrew Lloyd Webber hits last night and while it was a good episode, I couldn't help but have the same thought cross my mind the entire show ... why does Andrew Lloyd Webber look so freaking creepy?
The man is a genius, clearly, but yikes. Between his plum-colored corduroy's and Uncle Leo-like eyebrows that always seem to either be pissed or really confused, Mr. Webber could be a good candidate for a Phantom mask of his own. Everytime the camera cut to his reactions in the audience last night, I couldn't help but gasp. It didn't help that the man was clearly clueless to being filmed throughout the show and wasn't making the best expressions.
But enough about "Freakshow." There was plenty to cover from last night's episode. First of all, Brooke White. Ah, train wreck! Don't you just love live TV? I always doubted "American Idol" for truly being live, because I'm sure if Ryan Seacrest noticed he had a hair out of place he would demand the show be stopped until it was fixed. But Miss White's a bit shocking, "I'm sorry, can we start again?" last night was proof enough FOX truly believes in the magic of live television. Sure, we've seen it before -- everyone remembers the night seemingly unstoppable 17-year-old David Archuleta messed up his words and kept on truckin' -- but this time, I think even Simon was taken aback. Simon said he would've stopped and done the same thing if it was him, but Paula said she never should've hit the brakes. Randy said a lot of "listen" and "dawgs" so I tuned him out. With it being so close to the finals, this will probably mean Miss White is "Seacrest out."
The other contestants seemed to do well with the Broadway hits. Archuleta turned a classic into a pop hit -- which he really should've been punished for, but this is "American Idol" and that means Teen Beat gold -- and David Cook again was told "he the man, bro." Jason Castro had mixed reviews but let's be honest, once this competition is over he'll strike it rich either way since all the ladies can't get enough of him. (Sidenote: I really can't stand the fact that whenever there's a slow song, the front row of braces-toting minors continues to sway their arms back and forth like they're listening to a rendition of Kum-Ba-Ya. Annoying.) Syesha showed some 'tude and got flirty with the bassist. You go girl. Yeah, I can't pull that off.
Speaking of braces, anyone check out the Sanjaya-fan look alike that came up on stage to give David Archuleta a very awkward and uncomfortable hug? Eeee. Poor kid.
Carly Smithson and her lovable Irish accent wowed the crowd with her version of "Jesus Christ Superstar" -- even getting a "well done" by Simon. It was at this time that she rushed to the side of the stage, and grabbed a light blue T-shirt with the words "Simon Loves Me (this week)" splashed across the front. The moment that thing entered the shot you could almost hear the sewing machines fire up across the country, just waiting to make a buck off someone Googling "shirt that Carly Smithson held up, Simon Loves Me." I received a link from a reader, who was also shocked to discover these shirts not only already exist, but are full-time business Web sites. I'd post the link here, but I believe that there's some kind of conspiracy theory between Carly's gratuitous plug and perhaps her relative's Internet T-shirt business.
Anyway, the important thing to remember is last night's episode means it will be down to five tonight. I'm totally not going to watch -- not only because I will be covering a board meeting in Bellevue -- but also because the results show could be the most painful thing to watch in TV history. How they can stretch two minutes of announcements into an hour-long show, I'll never know. If you do watch, however, feel free to come back and post your thoughts on the results. And any nightmares you have after a second-viewing of Andrew Lloyd Webber's horrifying jowls.
Catch "American Idol," 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 8 p.m. on Wednesdays on FOX.
Last episode for Jesse Martin on "Law and Order" airs tonight
The exits of major characters on "Law and Order" happen in one of two ways: they die or they quit.
It doesn't look like the former is true for Jesse Martin's Det. Ed Green on his final episode tonight, but let's hope they give the man a decent farewell. For whatever reason, L&O -- so understated when it comes to most other dramatic elements -- tends to heap it on when characters leave. Jill Hennessy's Asst. District Attorney Claire Kincaid died in a fiery car crash caused by a drunken driver. Elizabeth Rohm's A.D.A Serena Southerlyn made a bizarre confession of her homosexuality in her final seconds in the L&O universe. More recently, another A.D.A ended up dead in the trunk of a car. If it turns out Green was on the Grassy Knoll, shame on you, Dick Wolf.
But I've got hope.
Since its 18th season debuted in January with a few new faces in A.D.A. Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) and Jeremy Sisto'sDet. Cyrus Lupo, the show feels invigorated. Martin will be replaced by Anthony Anderson (of the short-lived "K-Ville") as Det. Kevin Bernard, an ex-Internal Affairs detective.
"Law and Order" airs on NBC on Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Remote Controlled: Q&A with "Lost" blogger Doc Arzt
Hurley: "Let me ask you something, Arnzt ..." Arzt: "Arzt." Hurley: "Arnzt." Arzt: "No, not Arnzt. Arzt. A-R-Z-T. Arzt." Hurley: "Sorry, man. Your name's hard to pronounce." Arzt: "Oh, yeah? Well, I know a bunch of ninth graders who pronounce it just fine." Hurley: "How about I just call you by your first name?" Arzt: "How about you don't?" Hurley: "Why not? I remember it from the plane's manifest. I think Leslie's a bitchin' name." Arzt: "Arnzt is fine."
You don't name yourself after a secondary "Lost" character who blew himself up with a stick of dynamite and stay on the sidelines of the blogosphere.
Doc Arzt -- a.k.a. Jon Lachonis -- founded "Lost" fan Web site, the Tailsection.com, before moving on to his latest project, the DocArzt and Friends' blog. He's also a regular source of information for Lostpedia and UGO's TV blog, and is working on a book about "Lost" fandom with a senior moderator from the Fuselage, another killer "Lost" site dotted with theories and inside info.
The Good Doc was kind enough to answer a few questions for us leading up to Thursday's Season Four re-launch.
Anything you can share regarding potential scoops or rumors about the remaining set of Season Four episodes? You recently were in on a teleconference with ("Lost" creators) Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
The big thing that people are speculating about is this sort of chronologically center-less format that Damon and Carlton are hinting. The feeling is that there won't be any flashbacks or flashforwards anymore. Rather, characters will be functioning in different times themselves. Should be pretty confusing.
Where are you at regarding "Lost" theories? Anything sticking as a potential road map to the "real" truth behind this island mystery?
I honestly think the island itself is some sort of fountain of youth symbol. It's the cure for everything, the ultimate boon for mankind. The real story, though, isn't in this boon, but how the evils of man corrupt it. The base of the story has always been the redemption of the characters for anything from simple vanity to cold blooded murder. In the end, I'd guess the island will be 'taken back,' and the real story is going to be about these people.
What's excited you about Season Four so far? What's disappointed you?
I'm excited by the pace of the season. It's very clear that they are out to tell the story, and I think fans are beginning to feel less like they are being strung along. The biggest disappointment is the length of the seasons relative to the hiatus between them. I would have rather seen Damon and Carlton get their 'best case' scenario of two 24 episode seasons to finish it off.
Interviews with Team Darlton have indicated that certain characters will have their fates decided by the end of this season. This could be something as open-ended as Jin's "death," or something concrete regarding Claire getting on the chopper, Sayid "thinking with his heart" and Sawyer not being part of the Oceanic Six. Any thoughts at this point on where certain favorites might end up?
Absolutely. I think they have some leverage with characters that were not Oceanic passengers. In a way, I think they resolved that quickly as sort of a warm up for the rest. What about Juliet or Desmond? They could still escape, but would have to live under very different circumstances. I also think that just because you're not Oceanic Six doesn't mean your stuck on the island. I would not be surprised to see some of the characters left behind pop up off the island in the fifth or sixth season. I think Claire is definitely going to get on the chopper as Desmond said -- he's never wrong -- but what happens from there is anybody's guess. Having her die would almost seem passe.
"The Constant" was a standout for me during the first batch of Season Four episodes. Did that episode offer any clarity for you on where Desmond fits in the overall picture?
Yes, I think it really reinforced the epic nature of the Desmond and Penny relationship. That has to be as close to a finely honed Shakespearean romance, or Greek tragedy, as you can possibly get in modern times.
I think all "Lost" fans will agree that the Season Three "We have to go back!" game changer is going to stick for a long time. What was your reaction?
I was exhilarated. They needed to open a new playing field for the story that would head off 'island fatigue,' and letting us know that part of the journey took place in the future and off the island was a bold move that just worked.
Any thoughts on who might be in that darn coffin?
Seriously. It has to be Michael, right? It seems too easy, but I don't think they write this stuff for the people who spend hundreds of hours obsessing over it. It would still be a surprise to someone.
I know you've been on the "Lost" set before. Any stories or interesting tidbits you can share about the experience?
There is tremendous Red Sox pride on that set. I'm not a baseball fan, but I bought a Boston hat to keep the sun out of my eyes and, hey, I am a New Englander... so it had to be either Sox or Patriots. When I got to the set people were coming up and giving me high fives and I had no idea why. It was a bit frightening. Finally, I'm watching Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet) rehearsing and she starts staring at me with this crazy smile, the same look all these back slappers and high fivers have had all day long, and I'm like, 'Oh no ... not again. Not Elizabeth Mitchell.' I feel like I'm not in on the punchline or something. She cups her hands together and yells at me as hard as she can 'HEY! Another Red Sox fan! Hey, Oakland, 11-7 ... I'm just saying.' Turned out the Sox had sealed their place at the World Series or something the night before.
Hey, everyone! You'll notice that our friendly mugs aren't smiling back at you on the right rail, and within the posts there are some weird hieroglyphics showing up, not to mention the dreaded non-picture with an "X" in it.
Yep, we're sorta in that Web site launch phase where the shuttle majestically takes off in the sky but then a giant hunk of metal rips off the side and comes crashing down to earth, almost impaling all of spectator row.
So while the people who get paid to tackle this technical stuff work out the kinks, we'll continue to post entries. It just won't be as pretty as we want it to be.
Please keep reading. And thanks for understanding.
-- The Channel Surfing staff
UPDATE! UPDATE! Thanks to the diligent work of Thomas and Malavika, the main page has been manually restored to a respectable level. Future posts should be fine photo and text-wise, but don't be alarmed by our archive. It's still a work-in-progress, and may be that way for a long time.
"Lost" creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have already made it clear that some characters will have their fates mapped out by the end of Season Four, while others will continue to coast along the fringes of mystery island.
It's one thing you can't help but notice about a show with an ever-expanding cast -- how certain characters become more important than others over time, and how rampant speculation over someone's death (ahem, Claire, ahem) is largely the result of inactivity.
With those parameters in mind, I thought it'd be fun to rank the Top Ten "Lost" characters currently on the show, not necessarily according to their face time, but rather, according to the level of intrigue, excitement and importance they'll provide as layer after layer slowly peels away in upcoming seasons.
Feel free to disagree -- in fact, I encourage you to do so and leave a comment -- but ultimately, my Top Ten reveals a heavy bias towards a few morally ambiguous characters and a rather obvious boredom with love triangles (or squares? rhombi?) of the Jack-Sawyer-Kate-Juliet variety.
1. Desmond Hume: When Desmond arrived in Season Two as a paranoid hatch dweller listening to Mama Cass, few fans could have imagined his rollercoaster storyline from shipwreck victim to naked island savior to confused Royal Scot to nose-bleeding time traveler to ... man, who knows where he'll end up next? Either way, if it's a Desmond episode, be prepared to buckle up and enjoy the wild ride.
2. Ben Linus: If brutal beatings were the only criteria, Ben would be a shoo-in for the top spot. But as his face continues to heal, Mr. Linus has also transformed himself into a sympathetic, often hilarious figure -- the rare misunderstood villain who never seems to lose power even when he's at his most vulnerable. Or maybe some fans continue to see him as pure evil -- he's a master manipulator of Locke, after all -- but there also seems to be real fear of impending doom beyond those bulging eyes.
3. John Locke: You're either a Jack fan or a Locke fan. And it's still unclear even in the wake of the coffin reveal and Jack's island withdrawal if "Lost" fans can have it both ways. But even Locke has his doubts -- remember what happened when he kept Eko from pushing the button -- and he's still allowing Ben to pull the strings despite his Moses-like attempt to save his crew from the Freighter Four. Still, his communion with the island is riveting. You can't help but love what Baldy brings to the table.
4. Charles Widmore: Does Widmore really want to keep Desmond away from Penny? Or does he know that Desmond is ultimately the one who brings him to the island in some capacity? A Widmore-Ben showdown is being teased, but since so many questions have yet to be answered, his seemingly sinister role on the show should only continue to evolve. This dude has some serious layers.
5. Jacob: "We all answer to someone, John." So far, it's all in the eyes for the enigmatic Jacob. But if Ben is getting his cues from ol' Cabin Boy, then he'll definitely hold some pretty important cards in the future. Either way, it's masterful seed planting by Team Darlton.
6. SayidJarrah: Having been dragged down by puppy love during Shannon's redemptive arc, Sayid appears close to getting his torturer edge back. He's also at the "heart" of some catastrophic episode that was briefly teased in "The Economist." Oh, and he's killing for Ben in the future. Go figure.
7. Daniel Faraday: Like Desmond, a rare new addition that fans have immediately embraced. Too twitchy and naive to be a hardcore "bad guy," Faraday also remains a huge mystery -- particularly his dejavu-like experience when he's seen crying at footage of the Oceanic 815 wreck. A fellow time-traveler? Likely. Just keep giving us more crazy physics experiments and we'll be happy.
8.Jack Shephard: The good Doc has "lost" some thunder in Season Four. Still, his "We have to go back!" exclamation at the end of Season Three will continue to reverberate throughout every episode until his desperation is adequately explained. Truthfully, as the heart and soul of the series so far, it's about time he took a bit of a backseat. But he'll be at the forefront again ... grizzly beard and all.
9. Michael Dawson: His return was a bit anti-climactic, but the revelation that Michael can't kill himself "because of the island" is bigger than anyone probably realizes. Plus, it's always good to throw in some more tension -- Sayid turned him in to the freighter Captain at the end of "Meet Kevin Johnson" -- though we'd like to see his son, Walt, get some more airtime now that "Kev" is back.
10. Hugo 'Hurley' Reyes: No longer a comic relief character, Hurley even pulled a devious bait and switch on Sayid and Kate in Season Four. Finally, his character has some teeth -- and not just for munching on Apollo candy bars. Some type of disastrous Oceanic Six split occurs, and Hurley is at the center of it. An intriguing place to be for the show's lighthearted moral conscience.
It's been nearly three months without our beloved gossip queen, but finally, the backstabbing and scandals are back! "Gossip Girl" -- which last aired on Jan. 9 -- returns tonight at 7 p.m. on the CW. After last season's rocky end, it's anyone's guess as to what will happen next.
I should preface all of this with a bit of an explanation. "Gossip Girl," while aimed at an audience of 18 and younger, is relentlessly addictive. I, too, was once a nay-sayer ... questioning anyone 23 and older as to why they would waste their time (and seemingly knowledgeable brain) on such a cheap-thrilled show.
Then I saw one episode. As much as I would've liked to deny it, the show is just too damn good. I wouldn't go as far as quoting New York Magazine, which labeled the show, "Best. Show. Ever." But it is devilishly good and would definitely lure anyone who loves a good sex-filled drama with incredibly good looking 25-year-olds playing teenagers.
Now that we've clarified that, let's move on with the show. The last time we got our latest text message from "Gossip Girl," all hell was seemingly breaking loose. First it was a Serena pregnancy scare that turned into a Blair pregnancy scare matched with a love triangle unveiled to the entire high school -- OMG. Blair, dubbed the Queen B, has been dethroned after the scandal broke of her fling with Chuck, right before doing the deed with Nate. With everyone hating on Blair, what's a girl to do but flee the country? Before boarding her private jet, Serena stops Blair and convinces her to stay. Awwww. Blair realizes that maybe there is life beyond high school gossip -- phew, that was a close one.
Meanwhile, Serena gets ready for life with her new bro, in the form of Satan himself, Chuck. But this is no "Step-by-Step" family blending -- it's rich plus status equals happiness, right? Not exactly. After Serena's way-too-young-to-really-be-mom breaks Rufus' heart to save her daughter from playing with the lines of incest, it's unhappiness and appearance-only love all around. Life with Chuck will not be easy, but for our sake, it should be pretty entertaining. Also, rumors of a character coming out of the closet this season, I think, still point to Chuck. So really, Serena may be gaining more of a sister instead!
Other updates to know coming into the big return? Dan loves Serena, Serena loves Dan. Nate hates Chuck, Chuck hates everyone but Blair. Jenny moves up in the popularity quest and Nate is done-skees with Blair. Although, let's be honest, all of this will most likely change by the first 20 minutes of tonight's episode.
Tune in tonight to see what happens next as the gang regroups and gears up for five more episodes of drama-rama, richie-rich high school life.
"Spaced" invaders: Hollywood gets its filthy, dirty hands on a classic
There was once this sitcom back around the turn of the century called "Spaced" that you've probably never seen, and maybe never even heard of. This isn't your fault, really -- for one thing, it's British, and to my knowledge has never aired on so much as BBC America here in the States. It's also failed to make it to DVD over here, due to 30-seconds worth of the "Star Wars" theme being used in one episode. So it's not your fault -- it's George Lucas's lawyers.
But at the risk of sounding like a limey, "Spaced" is bleedin' brilliant. And now there's a group of Hollywood wankers trying to ruin it.
The brainchild of stars Simon Pegg (recently of "Run Fatboy Run,") and Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson), "Spaced" was the story of two slackers who pretend to be dating to get into a couples-only apartment. That by-the-numbers plot was merely the frame on which was hung fast and furious pop-culture references, bizarre characters, sardonic relationship humor and spot-on movie parodies. (What other show, for example, could seamlessly cram spoofs of "Robocop," "Grease," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and "Fight Club" into one episode?) In fact, each episode was shot to look like a film, thanks to director Edgar Wright, who went on to make "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" with Pegg and co-star Nick Frost. If you've seen either of those slices of cinema gold, you'll already have a feel for how "Spaced" looks. In the annals of sitcomdom, there's never been anything else like it.
But if there's one thing in the entertainment business more reliable than an annual Kenny G holiday album, it's the creative bankruptcy of Hollywood. (Motto: "If something's done well, it's worth redoing poorly.") The fact that someone wants to remake "Spaced" for American audiences isn't so galling, nor surprising. I mean, Greg Daniels' successful "Office" remake was able to take the original's concept and expand on it without totally destroying it. (Well, at least until it jumped the shark in season 3.) But whereas original creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant were along for the ride in "The Office"'s trip overseas, the producers of the American "Spaced" never so much as asked for permission from Pegg or Hynes to rebirth their baby, and that is what really chafes my bum.
Oh, and Simon and Jessica are a bit miffed, too.
"My main problem with the notion of a 'Spaced' remake," Pegg wrote at his official website, "is the sheer lack of respect that Granada/Wonderland/Warner Bros have displayed in respectively selling out and appropriating our ideas without even letting us know. A decision I can only presume was made as a way of avoiding having to give us any money, whilst at the same time using mine and Edgar (Wright)'s name in their press release, in order to trade on the success of 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz'..."
It should come as no surprise that the man behind the remake is hack "Charlies Angels" director and silly-name-haverMcG. To his credit, McG has said publicly that he would very much like to include the show's original creators in the remake's production. That says maybe -- blimey, I'm sounding so British today -- but the fact remains that they're not involved, and fans of "Spaced" are a bit bothered. Multiple online petitions have sprung up in protest of "McSpaced" -- as the rabid faithful have deemed the U.S. version -- urging producers to rethink the remake. They have likely failed, because A) online petitions always fail, what were they thinking?; and B) it's been reported that the "McSpaced" pilot has already started production in L.A.
I'm not the first to suggest that an American "Spaced" simply won't work. The original's humor was so specific to its writer/stars, Pegg and Hynes, the look so tailored to Wright's unique style, that any attempt to recreate its magic is doomed to go tits up (again with the Britishisms!). In fact, Matt Goldberg over at Collider.com got his hot little hands on "McSpaced"'s pilot script, and reports that some bits are quite simply lifted word-for-word from the original, even down to camera moves and sound effects. His conclusion is that, while the script is a fairly decent imitation, it's still merely an imitation, and that truly there's only one "Spaced." The idea of the show -- strangers posing as a couple in order to score an apartment -- isn't so original that Hollywood couldn't simply steal it and call it something else, so why go through all this hassle in the first place?
Whether or not the remake will be any good and actually land a spot on Fox's (of course) fall lineup is anybody's guess, but here's a sure bet: If it makes it on the air, this is one fan who won't be watching. And if you've actually read this far, then I have a favor to ask: Don't watch it either. Because it's one thing to remake a brilliant, cult British comedy for mass American consumption. But to literally steal it from its creators without so much as a phone call asking for an OK ... well, that's just bollocks.
Luckily, there are a couple of ways you can actually witness the jolly-goodness of "Spaced" for yourself. A DVD set of both seasons is expected to finally be released stateside sometime in July. (Take that, Lucas!) Or you can sign up at ad-supported website Veoh.com, which has all 14 episodes available in so-so video quality for free. I leave you now with but a taste, courtesy of YouTube:
Break out the McCutcheon whiskey! The blog is officially celebrating "Lost" week starting Monday, which yes, might be a bit of overkill considering the show hasn't been on hiatus THAT long.
But for "Lost" obsessives, five weeks is an eternity. I mean, since Rousseau and Karl got capped in the last pre-strike episode, I've been holed up in a dank room, maps strewn everywhere, trying to find my way back to the show. And the shaggy Jack beard ... well, I can't actually grow a beard, but folks, I guarantee it's a desperate scene. Also, it's probably no coincidence that since "Meet Kevin Johnson" last aired, I've been getting some messy nosebleeds. Where is my constant? WHERE?
Anyway, next week we have a planned interview with Jon Lachonis, a.k.a. Doc Arzt, a rabid "Lost" blogger who recently teleconferenced with show creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Adam Reinhard and I will also be talking about potential future developments via our "Commercial Interruption" breakdown and counting down our favorite "Lost: Holy Crap!" moments. I'm sure a few more wrinkles will be tossed in for good measure, as both of us have been dissecting older episodes during this little respite. Either way, feel free to get the ball rolling on any of these ideas by leaving a comment or two.
But I won't leave you empty-handed through the weekend. That aforementioned teleconference is making the Internet rounds, and you can find some detailed scoopage at TV Guide, the Chicago Tribune and Doc Arzt's blog, among other places.
Some of the more interesting revelations from Lindelof and Cuse (slight spoilers may be involved):
On the last line of dialogue: "We need a little bit of wiggle room, but the last scene has definitely been determined. There would have to be some major shift in both our mindsets to back off that. That's what we've been working toward for a couple years, even before the  end date was announced."
On any regret about the show's end date: "We've been lobbying for the end of the show since the first season of the show. And it has not at all been [a case of,] 'Be careful what you wish for.' Our mindset at the beginning of Season 3 as the characters were all locked in cages, versus the end of Season 3 where we began to answer questions, was so radically different. The feeling we have is one of lightness as we work toward the inevitable end point ... Anything is possible, but if Carlton and I ever say to you, 'We're starting to regret an end date,' it means we've been replaced by cyborgs or zombies or something."
On what books "Lost" fans should be reading: "Continue reading the Bible."
On potential deaths: "There are definitely some very large and seismic events that will happen to our castaways between now and the end of the season. By the end of the season some people's fates will be clear and others will not be so clear."
On what to expect for future episodes: The smoke monster "will be in the first episode back," and there will also be "a healthy dose of Jacob" before the end of the season. Also expect more of Penny, Charles Widmore, "compelling events" involving Claire, Rousseau possibly not being dead (?) and the origins of the four-toed statue.
And finally, there's this wonderfully convoluted stream of thought from Lindelof:
"There might come a time in the show where the word 'flash' becomes irrelevant. If you think about what we've done this year, there is the story on the island, which we perceive to be the present, then the story of the Oceanic Six, which is happening off the island in the future. But if we were to switch perspective ... and suddenly we were off the island, focusing on the Oceanic Six trying to get back [to the island], that would be the present. And what was happening back on the island would be either a parallel present, possibly a future, possibly a past, who knows. So when you hear that 'whoosh' noise [that indicates a time change], the question becomes, where does it take you? And so hopefully, if we do our jobs right in the finale, in the eight months in between the season finale and the season premiere next year, the audience will once again be asking, 'What the hell are they going to do in the season premiere?'"
That should whet the ol' island appetite. "Lost" is back Thursday at 9 p.m. CST.
Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle.
That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). Today, bloggers Thomas Rozwadowski and Sara Boyd follow-up on last week's disappointing "Office" return while giving the show every opportunity to convince us that all mistakes can be remedied with a parking lot victory dance from lovable rage-aholic Andy Bernard.
Thomas: Of the three who participated in last week's breakdown, it seemed like you were the most upset about "The Office's" flat return. That's kind of a shock, because, well, it's hard to get more bitter about TV than Malavika or myself, but hey, kudos to you for taking your return to Dunder Mifflin so seriously.
Anyway, I applaud this episode on multiple fronts. One, it had three funny, clever storylines all working in unison within the confines of the DM office. Two, it utilized most of the cast, particularly Andy and Kevin with added significance. Three, Jan appears to be out of the picture. At least for the time being. Maybe she'll come back as a born-again Christian or something. I don't know. But desperate Michael is a nice, playful twist, as long as they keep the stupidity to a believable level -- which they did during the unfortunate "coffee date." We'll get to Jim-Pam and where the be-on-your-toes engagement could potentially lead. But I was just pleased that the half-hour went quickly, the laughs kept coming, and nothing felt forced.
Sara: The return of "The Office" was as serious as a heart attack -- wait, no, I'm going to go with a stroke that left you in a coma. And I eat bitter for breakfast. Or something. But yes, moving on and thankfully looking forward, it seems the good 'ol Dunder Mifflin-ites are back. I was a little hesitant that the funny wouldn't be back when it started, but thank the lord, Allah, Jeebus or whoever, it hath returned. And it is good. The interoffice dialogue -- in my opinion -- is what makes the show, and with the combination of Michael's questioning of Phyllis' fat friend (the possibilities of her solo-capsizing a rowboat) to Andy discussing the recapture of parking spaces like it was "Saving Private Ryan," I think we can be rest assured that the show is back in biz-nass. And um, hello?! Pam and Jim?? Jim toting diamond ring?? Thoughts please?
Thomas: Malavika already predicted a Pam shootdown in the season finale, but I don't know. "The Office" certainly boasted some dark moments last week -- and I don't expect that to change even though you and I might prefer simple interoffice banter -- but they really aren't going to create major tension between Jim and Pam again, are they? I mean, they already drove Jim away the first time, and that worked because they were able to bring in new characters like Andy. Then the Pam-Roy engagement fell apart. Jim swallowed his pride. So on and so forth. And while there has been an underlying tease that Jim might not be good enough for Pam, the "I'm tying my shoe trick" and Pam's cutesy reaction to it means they "get" each other on a humor level. Pam, having been with buffoon Roy, knows Jim is a pretty good catch. I can't imagine anything short of Jim getting wasted and giving Angela a spin on the office copier is going to break off this relationship. The wedding episode will be huge for ratings, and they'll just be a normal office couple from that point forward. Nothing wrong with that, right? Right?
Sara: First of all, if this scenario turns into a McDreamy/Meredith situation I will lose it. I know they need to keep things exciting and people love the so-called "will they or won't they" game, but I do not. They're finally together after nearly three seasons of "OMG, Jam needs to be together!!!" so I say, let them and don't throw in a Ross-Rachel break-up until their relationship is more than three-episodes in. Also a sidenote, if you will: I want more Andy Bernard! Ed Helms is clearly genius and every episode I yearn for more hilarity to come from his character. "Hey, I lost my penny in my loafer, OK?" Pure genius. Also was it just me, or did the chair model's face look a lot like a certain crazy candle-maker's?
Thomas: First, I don't get your McDreamy-Meredith comparison. I only watch good shows. Second, I refuse to call them "Jam." I think "The Office" has a real opportunity to just make Jim and Pam a normal couple who don't have to be the center of the Dunder Mifflin universe. I refused to watch "Friends" for that simple reason -- Ross, Rachel, Rachel, Ross. Yawn. I would applaud the writers if they go through with a wedding and then they're just together -- no drama required. Can't these kids just be happy? And normal?
I agree with you about Andy. His parking lot dance was priceless. He's become much more than Dwight's foil, which was a great role, too. I always knew Ed Helms had it in him. Creed's line about the third chair was brilliant and creepy -- as usual -- but Kevin kinda owned last night's episode for me. His sense of desperation at trying to get a win, the way he talked about the Five Families and "cool" Paul. Just random and funny. Old "Office," for sure. The less we talk about Jan, the better.
So here's my question for you: clearly this was a light and fluffy episode compared to the last two. Is that good enough? Do you appreciate the mix of dark and light humor, or is this experiment in "Office" evolution outside the walls only going make for heavy criticism one week, glowing reviews the next depending on what the viewer wants to see more of?
Sara: I know you used to watch "Grey's Anatomy" and cry yourself to sleep at night while screaming, "Why can't Meredith and Derek just make it work already?!" Don't lie. You're not good at it. And you refused to watch "Friends?" Who are you? I will shun you just for that comment.
I agree though that JAM (yes, eat it) should just be happy. "The Office" is not a soap opera and are supposedly portraying normal people -- with the exception of Dwight -- so the writers shouldn't get all drama-rama with them. And I don't know why, but Kevin bugs me. Maybe it's because when he takes his shoes off at the office or speaks with his chin-dwaddle, it just grosses me out. Kudos to Stacy for wising up in that relationship. Sick. Oscar, or "Oscar Meyer Wiener Lover," is another character I would like to see more from. Remember when he said he was getting annoyed with Gill and might try women again? What happened with that?! For me, this is what "The Office"should be. I hated the "dark" humor and awkwardness that goes above and beyond to the point of making you physically squirm. This is, as you put it,"Old Office" and that's the formula that made them a hit. Unless the writers are trying to be on top one week, on the bottom the next (yes, that's what she said) they should stick to what works, a.k.a: "American Pie" grave karaoke.
(Editor's note: Thomas' DVR cut off before a final scene where Michael and Dwight sing to the chair model's grave Don McLean-style, which is why the above reference made little sense to our long-winded writer. This makes him angry. He will now try to find it online.)
Thomas: Did you just use the phrase "drama-rama?" No, I did not watch "Grey's." I used to watch "Days of Our Lives" reruns on SoapNET, though. Not sure why I would admit that here. And our "Friends" debate can be saved for another day, because once the Ross-Rachel dynamic started to dominate, that was it for me.
Wow, no love for "Scrantonicity" Kevin and his jiggly neck (or chin-dwaddle, as you put it)? Tsk, tsk. You've revealed your true colors, Boyd. Let me toss out this game changer before we wrap up -- and since we agree that this was a nice comeback and what "The Office" should be about. Don't know why it came to me, but what if Pam gets some kind of art-related opportunity and that creates relationship tension before the engagement? Do you think they'd pull the ol' career-versus-boyfriend routine with our seemingly-happy couple? For the record, I'd stop watching if that were the case.
Sara: Again, hate for "Friends?" Shun.
If they dare pull a "Pam, the artist," instead of "Jam together in bliss" storyline, I'd be out for shizz. I don't think that would happen though, because largely Jim has always told Pam she should pursue her artistic talents and desires, and if a situation would arise for her to paint mugs and office buildings full time, I think Jim would be more than thrilled to leave with her. Gosh, what a guy. Now, one plotline I think could work beautifully and create a Jim-Pam split, if the writers' so chose, would be the addition of an intelligent, witty Asian journalist character that interviews Jim on being a paper salesman for a mid-range, failing paper company and the two fall madly in love and live happily ever after. Cue the sunset and doves.
First, news that NBC is courting George "The Total Package'' Clooney to return for at least a couple of episodes of what will be the 15th and final (good call) season of ''ER'' next fall.
And now this: Jennie Garth could be headed back to her old ''90210'' zip.
Dr. Doug Ross and Kelly Taylor possibly both back on our TV screens in the same season? Pinch me. Or let me pinch George. Or somebody pinch somebody!
There's speculation that Garth, who rocked our wardrobe as Kelly Taylor on the original "Beverly Hills, 90210,'' could be on board for the "90210" spin-off currently in development for the CW. Buzz spiked this week with reports that Garth abruptly bowed out of the pilot of "My Best Friend's Girl,'' a CBS comedy in which she had been cast.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Garth left after the table read Monday, in what was described as "a mutual decision between her and the producers.'' Earlier reports have hinted that the new "90210'' creators want Garth to reprise her role as Kelly Taylor, who would return to her alma mater as a fashion design teacher.
Hey, somebody play some Ray Pruit or Color Me Badd on the jukebox at the Peach Pit and let's prematurely celebrate!
Spin-offs are dicey business. "90210'' already gave us one great spin-off in "Melrose Place.'' (Honestly, can you ever watch Marcia Cross as Bree on "Desperate Housewives'' and not think of the great "MP'' moment when her deranged Kimberly Shaw ripped off the wig?) So going back to the beautiful, rich kids well for seconds might be pushing it.
Rob Thomas -- the "Veronica Mars'' Rob Thomas, not the Matchbox Twenty Rob Thomas -- wrote the script for the pilot and is executive producer. There's no Darren Star and (obviously) no Aaron Spelling involvement this time around.
The setup is rumored to be similar to the original: Parents move to Bev Hills from the Midwest (St. Louis) with their two teens -- a biological daughter and an adopted son -- to be closer to Grandma, who's a drunk. Wait a minute ...
Dad's apparently an alum of West Beverly, and mom's a former Olympic medalist. What? That sounds very un-Cindy Walsh-ish.
There are reportedly five other main characters, including four who are 16-year-old students at the same school. Two of them have the last name Silver. Hmmm ... let's not forget David Silver's night in the limo, you know, before he and Donna finally "did it.''
EW.com reports this week that AnnaLynne McCord ("Nip/Tuck'') has already been cast to play a hot, rich kid (shocking!) and Dustin Milligan ("The Messengers'') as a star athlete (again, shocking!). Word is the '00s cast will also be more diverse than the '90s cast.
No doubt "90210'' junkies like um, myself, will tune in to check out the next generation of Brendas, Brandons and Dylans ... and then gripe about how they can't hold a candle to the originals. But if the show, which has a shot at making the fall schedule, is gonna keep us old-schoolers interested, it will have to give us some of that vintage "90210'' nostalgia.
Snagging Garth for a role would be a good place to start, but we want more. Surely Gabrielle Carteris' Andrea Zuckerman, who already seemed like she was 40 in the original, could come back in some annoying matronly/scholarly role. Maybe the new Mrs. Teasley?
And, of course, don't even bother doing a spin-off if Nat's not back.