Since we were all treated to a lame recap show for last night’s Lost, I’ll take the usual Lost analysis space to cover a few other shows I watch on a regular basis. None of them offer the same intellectual stimulation Lost does, but I think they’re just as enjoyable in far different ways.
- There were few TV shows better than Sopranos in its first two or three seasons, but around the mid-point of season 3, the show began to focus on more family-oriented (not that familia) and out-there topics. I don’t really want to watch a show about a mob boss fighting with his wife about their son’s grades; and I definitely don’t wanna see anything about a mob capo and his psycho girlfriend placing solicited objects where the sun don’t shine (figure that one out). Seasons four and five emphasized domestic squabbles over mob hits, much to my dismay, and while it was certainly well-written and acted, my preferences are much more base when it comes to what I want out of my Mafia shows (and it doesn’t include a group of mob wives getting together to watch movies on Tuesday nights). After season 5 ended, I wasn’t optimistic about the show’s future as a mob drama.
Much to my delight, season 6 has delivered thus far. Plenty of shootings, plenty of whackings, plenty of crime, plenty of insane former mob bosses, plenty of naked strippers; what more could you want? This season has focused on the ultimate consequences of the life Tony Soprano has chosen, and has offered a glimpse, vis a vis dream sequences, of what he may be facing when he dies (there ain’t no pearly gates there). The focus has shifted from Tony’s immediate family back to his “real” family, back to Christopher Moltisanti, Silvio Dante, and Paulie Walnuts. Paulie, in particular, has been his crazy, psychotic self this season, beating a guy with a baseball bat because of the guilt he felt over disowning his mother (yep, that’s right), getting into hand-to-hand combat with two Colombians over laundered money, and raging over a colleague’s newly-discovered sexual preference (yes, there’s a gay captain in the Soprano crime family). If none of the above interests you, I don’t know what to tell you. One of the best shows ever on television.
- This show has at times been exciting, at times dramatic, at times frenetic, at times frustrating, and at times so over-the-top, mind-numbingly ridiculous that the only two reactions a sane person could have is to throw their TV out a fifth story window or cackle. That’s right: cackle. I cackled the other night when the U.S. Secretary of Defense drove his car right off a cliff into a lake below…on purpose. Yes, the Secretary of Defense of the United States. Season one of the show was one of the best ever for a TV series, perhaps because of its concept of the entire season taking place over 24 hours. The excitement from that uniqueness has since worn off, and right about the time Jack Bauer’s daughter was attacked by a cougar in season 2, the show jumped the proverbial shark and went from “exciting action drama” to “incredibly hilarious parody of itself.”
The thing is, I spent the last three seasons being frustrated and incredulous over how far-fetched and unrealistic the show’s become, when I should’ve just embraced the insanity all along. I figured that out this week, and enjoyed the show more than I have in three years. Before I get to this season’s coup-de-grace, I should point out that 24 has become the RoboCop Reunion Tour 2006, featuring no less than 3 actors from the hit 1987 classic, including RoboCop himself, Peter Weller. If Clarence Boddicker shows up, all bets are off.
Again, the Secretary of Defense of the United States drove his car off a cliff willingly because a recording of the President collaborating with terrorists fell into the hands of said terrorist when Jack Bauer’s girlfriend was stabbed in the brachial artery in front of Bauer, forcing Jack to hand over the recording to the terrorists and cover the President’s ass; meantime, said girlfriend’s father (the Secretary of Defense) lands in a plane at the airport where Jack has the recording and gives him a wicked throat punch–yes, a throat punch–and takes the recording in an effort to “protect the country.” The SecDef goes to confront the President but while he’s doing so, the artery-stabbing takes place, the President is notified, and the SecDef is shit outta luck when the terrorists buzz his car in a helicopter while Jack holds the head terrorist hostage. The aformentioned cliff diving takes place and all is right with the universe of 24.
And no, reading that last paragraph eight more times won’t make any more sense than it did the first time. Mondays at 9pm!
- Initally aired as a show about building a custom-built chopper (that’s a motorcycle, for all you n00bs), American Chopper quickly shifted in focus from the intricacies of bike-building to the near-constant turmoil inherent in the dysfunctional relationships of Orange County Choppers’ employees, its founders in particular: Paul Teutul Sr. and Jr. The bike-building still is prominent, and they’ve turned out some really great machines, but the blow-out arguments and practical jokes that take up much of the show are just as good. There’s always a fight about not working hard enough, getting things done on time, powder coat mess-ups, and just as many great moments with the other Teutul, Mikey, either making everyone laugh or sleeping on a couch in one of the back rooms.
- This is the section of the post where I don’t admit that I watch American Idol.
This is the TV night to end all TV nights (when Lost is new, anyway).
- This is perhaps the most-disappointing evolution of a show since Phil Hartman left NewsRadio (well, he didn’t really leave so much as he died). Season 1 of Alias was one of the finest in TV history, with great production values, solid acting, great pacing, and an interesting mythology involving a 15th century inventor named Rambaldi. I don’t have the energy to write too much of value about this here, so I’ll simply paste posts I’ve made about it in the past:
Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:40 pm
Boring and predictable episode. The only good thing was, as mentioned, the beginning of Sloane’s inevitable turn back to the dark side.
You’d think they could increase their budget slightly so they didn’t have to shoot nightclub scenes in the stairwell of an office building. They’ve been pretty creative in the way they’ve used various locations in LA to represent places around the world, but I think they need to start expanding their horizons a bit (as should 24….GET OUT OF LOS ANGELES!!!).
Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:45 am
Another pretty boring episode, but they’re at least building some possible arcs (Vaughn’s father), which is good.
They need to get Rambaldi back into the picture ASAP.
And that helicopter–that “ultimate biometric wizbang electronic assassin” helicopter? That might be the lamest thing I’ve ever seen. It keys in on DNA and then thinks the target is dead based on bullet holes and blood on someone else?
Thu May 05, 2005 5:18 am
Tonight’s ep definitely made last week’s better, now that we know all that trite garbage with the doc was a hallucination.
HOWEVER, a possible 8/10 episode was turned into a 3/10 becuase of the RIDICULOUS subplot of a laptop containing incredibly sensitive material being allowed outside of APO and used to transfer a highly dangerous substance to a low security facility (i.e. a safe). And of course, all the “hacker” had to do was enter a password.
I think we all have to accept that this show will never, ever approach the greatness of its first two seasons. As good as that moment with Sloane was two weeks ago, it was just that–a moment–amid a season full of dreck.
Enjoy how great Lost is while it lasts. In three or four years, you can expect the same thing out of it.
Thu May 05, 2005 6:04 am
The best episodes of this season wouldn’t fit in with one and two. That’s why it’s been so painful to watch. Even when it’s good, it’s not great.
There have been good moments this season, but no really good, complete episodes. Sloane beating the shit out of the DILLETANTE! was good, the Rambaldi device was good, the moment with Sydney watching Jack with “her” at the piano was good, Marshall saving Sydney from suffocating in the coffin was good. All good/great moments, but no great episodes.
The biggest mistake JJ Abrams ever made–and at the time, you couldn’t really fault him–was the Super Bowl episode where SD-6 is taken down. That eliminated the biggest thing that made the show so great–the tension in each and every episode. There was Sloane vs. Syndey vs. Jack vs. Sydney’s public life vs. Sydney’s SD6 life vs. Sydney’s CIA life. Each week you were holding your breath to see if she’d slip and reveal too much and finally blow her cover or have her friends find out. And they’ve completely dropped another of those threads in her education. I guess she finally got her degree but so what?
Now, there’s no tension, there’s no one–perhaps other than Sloane–who’s hiding something. Everyone is on the same page, there’s no conflicting agendas at all. It’s just boring. Attempts have been made to reestablish this–but come on–do we really need a third Derevko?
In summary, awful.
Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:01 pm
Season 4 was FAR AND AWAY the worst season. There was an episode about a “deadly” remote control helicopter for god’s sake! Season 3 was tolerable, but nowhere near the standards of 1 and 2. 4 was horrific. I bailed on season 5 the instant Sloane was released from prison and granted his 865th pardon. Wow, that plot device has never been used.
The handling of Vaughn’s death was pathetic. Compare it to the pilot when Syd’s fiance was killed. Not exactly a good match in terms of emotion and intensity.
And as much as I’d like to see some hot lesbo action between that blonde and Syd, I don’t give a rat’s ass about their relationship in her apartment while listening to some faggy folk rocker singing in the background.
The biggest mistake they ever made was making Sloane a good guy. They ripped the balls off the show’s best character, regardless of his “shady” dealings at this point.
ABC’s network executives squeezed the life out of this show, insisting it meander away from the Rambaldi-centric storylines to focus on crap you’d find on a “very special episode of Felicity.” Its’ recently-announced cancellation should come as no surprise after the crap-filled seasons 4 and 5. Another wreck for the junkyard of television’s past.
- You all know about Lost.
- Reality show about 11 teams of 2 gallavanting across the globe, stopping to obtain clues and complete challenges along the way. First one to the finish line gets a million bucks. The most important part of any show, reality or otherwise, are the characters, and The Amazing Race typically delivers. There’s always the “goofy” pair (a pair of San Francisco hippies this time), the “old” pair, the “massive tool” pair (two frat guys from Miami), the “hot but incredibly dumb girls” pair, the “I think he probably beats his wife” pair, the token African-American pair, and the gay pair. That’s entertainment. You get all the human drama inherent in people being together for extended periods of time, along with some amazing but all-too-brief looks at countries and cities around the world.
- I’ve written about this show before, so I’ll be brief. Still as deliberately paced as ever, this first season (and potentially last, from what I’m hearing) succeeds because of its solid acting and writing, rather than the plot driving it along. That doesn’t mean the story’s not interesting, though, it’s just a strange capper to a show (Lost) that takes a lot of extended thought and deciphering to fully appreciate. Everything is pretty cut and dried with Invasion. There’s an overarching mythology and mystery behind the show, but you’re given plenty of information about it and just what is going on. Like I said, this may be its first and last season, so check it out while you still can. Though, it’ll probably make next to no sense if you haven’t seen every episode, so forget that and wait for DVD.
- The granddaddy of reality shows, the show is still going strong in its 12th season. Again, the strength of any good show is its characters, and Survivor is the model for casting that all other reality shows strive for. This year is no exception, with an art teacher who practices kung fu at all hours of the night, a marketing executive suffering nicotine withdrawal who tweaks out eight times a day and appears to be mentally insane, a fighter pilot singlehandedly winning challenges to save his ass each week, a firedancer with self-esteem problems, a Boston chick with a wicked accent and wicked fake yabbos, and a guy who, instead of going along with what everyone else wanted and storing food and wood inside a newly-won outhouse, decided to drop a duke while reading the paper there. So, yeah, vastly entertaining.
This post is likely the final nail in the coffin of the theory that I have entirely too much time on my hands.