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2010 Year End TV Review: Scott Malchus

2010 was another great year of television, despite the fact that most of the new fall network shows were forgettable. While the big four seem to have a handle on coming up with new comedies, they still can’t develop innovative dramas to compete with the cable channels. Fox made an attempt with their excellent “Lone Star,” but viewers stayed away and the series was quickly cancelled (despite support from the network president). With Lost leaving the airwaves, it seems that if you want to watch something other than a procedural, you’ll have to tune to AMC, FX or HBO. That’s not to say that there aren’t some great cop, lawyer or medical shows (“The Good Wife” immediately jumps to mind), but the TV landscape is wide open enough that stories about all walks of life should be able to survive.

Best Drama: Friday Night Lights (Direct TV/NBC)

There was a lot of great drama on television this year (“Southland” was exceptional, “Lost” went out in glorious fashion, “Men of a Certain Age” was moving and effective), but I would be remiss if I didn’t place “FNL” at the top of my list, just where it has been since the show premiered in 2006. It’s hard to believe that this will be its last season. No other show has me cheering and laughing and crying week in and week out. Even during the cringe worthy moments (Julie’s affair with the TA) I can’t bring myself to raise the remote and fast forward through them. I’ve stated time and again on Popdose that this show is the most realistic portrayal of small town life I’ve ever seen on television, with beautifully written and acted characters, smart direction, and perfect music selections to create the mood of each scene (not to mention W.G. Snuffy’s poignant score). I love the Taylors; I love the community of Dillon, Texas; and I love Friday Night Lights.

Best Comedy: Modern Family (ABC)

A tough category. There are so many strong comedies on television right now, including NBC’s Thursday night lineup and ABC’s Wednesday shows. Of all of them, “Modern Family” makes me laugh the hardest; so hard that my wife and I have to rewind to hear the second and third jokes of each scene. With a great cast and insightful writing, “Modern Family” is a modern classic.

Best Reality: The Biggest Loser (NBC)

I generally hate reality shows on network television, however there is something truly inspiring about “The Biggest Loser” that grabs me every week. Here is a series about people seriously having to take back their lives otherwise they could die. The money at the end never seems to be as important as the health benefits they receive. Unlike most of the reality competitions shows, the inspiration that comes from watching “The Biggest Loser” occurs from watching every contestant, not just a select few. Obesity has overtaken our country and the men and women of “The Biggest Loser” prove that you can take back your life and that you are in control of it.

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Mubarak ho, Mr. “Robot”-o

Though there’s been some bombshell television news today, it’s been a blissfully slow news 48 hours regarding the movie world. True, Mike Fleming had a couple of scoops yesterday. His short list of possible “Superman” directors is fun — I’ll take Duncan Jones please, though Matt Reeves would be okay, too.  Also, though I remain impressed by her work, having just seen another terrific performance by Chloe Moretz at a screening last night of “Let Me In,” the fact that she’s got another nice gig as “Emily the Strange” is interesting but not exactly earth shattering. So, I’ll forgo the end-of-week movie news dump.

Instead, we’ll spotlight what have to be the trailers of the day, if not the week. According to Anne Thompson, it apparently started from a tweet by the very busy former “Lost” showrunner Damon Lindelof, who’s heading to India and will be checking out what has to be one of the most lavish Bollywood films ever in terms of effects. It’s a superheroic science fiction tale involving, well, a robot, a giant snake thing, an enormous number of guns, and, of course, big time musical numbers! Here’s the short trailer and some brief TV spots Thompson ran.

Also, just about the time Thompson put up her post, I was alerted by friend-of-the-blog-and-blogger Randy R. to a another, slightly more musical comedy oriented trailer that was running on the site of Ms. Thompson’s comics counterpart, Heidi MacDonald.

Gotta love Bollywood: something for everyone.

Just for the record, “Robot” is directed by Shankar (though it’s such a common name I’m not 100% sure if this is the same Shankar who crafted the hugely popular  “3 Idiots,” though it seems like a reasonable bet) and stars Aishwarya Rai and Rajnikanth who I gather is known as simply Rajni and is a superstar. The music is by A.R. Rahman who is easily the best known composer of Bollywood music here in the West for his terrific work on “Lagaan” and also as the double-Oscar winning composer of the music for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

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TCA Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 5

Mercifully, there were no panels to attend on Day 5 of the TCA Press Tour, thereby allowing me a brief chance to breathe…and, more importantly, to spend some time with my lovely wife Jenn, who arrived from Virginia in the wee hours of Day 4. Although I ducked out to attend the TCA business meeting that morning, I passed on a chance to visit the set of “Big Brother” in order for Jenn and I to have lunch at the South Beverly Grill with my friend Dileep Rao, who I knew way back when he was just a member of the Trashcan Sinatras mailing list. Now, of course, he’s a big shot movie actor who can’t even finish his lunch without having someone come up and say, “I loved you in ‘Inception.’” Either way, it was still good to see him again.

After that, it was back to the hotel to get ready for the TCA Awards, an evening which always proves to be one of the most enjoyable evenings of the tour. It’s the opportunity for the members of the organization to pay tribute to our favorite programs and performances of the previous year, and it’s also a chance for us to interact with the individuals responsible, but we do so with our tape recorders put away for the evening. There’s no red carpet. There’s no video document of the proceedings. It’s just us, the stars, and the night…or does that sound too pretentious? Yeah, it probably does, especially when you’re talking about a night that’s hosted by Dax Shepherd.

Given that the first two TCA Awards ceremonies that I attended were hosted by John Oliver (“The Daily Show”) and the Smothers Brothers, respectively, you’d think that Dax Shepherd would feel like a step down…but then you factor in how awful Chelsea Handler was as last year’s host, and darned if Dax doesn’t seem like a decent choice. Indeed, he proved to be extremely funny, much funnier than I think a lot of us were expecting him to be. He kicked things off by pretending he was addressing a group of HerbalLife salespeople, claimed that he was only hosting because Dog the Bounty Hunter dropped out, then acknowledged he was a little hurt by the fact that just about every review of “Parenthood” that mentioned his performance invariably began with some semblance of the phrase, “You’re never going to believe this, but he’s actually pretty good.” There was also a funny story about how he’s a god at CostCo, thanks to having co-starred in “Employee of the Month” with Dane Cook, and he did a spot-on impression of Owen Wilson calling his brother Luke and mocking him for his telephone commercials. Really, the only disappointing thing about Dax’s appearance was that I didn’t realize he’d brought his fiancee, Kristen Bell, until after she’d already gone. DAMN!

From there, we entered the awards portion of the evening.

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: “Glee” (FOX)
OUTSTANDING NEW PROGRAM: “Glee” (FOX).
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: Jane Lynch, “Glee” (FOX).

Alas, Jane Lynch was suffering from laryngitis and was unable to attend, but Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan accepted the award in her stead, offering as solace a list of four things we’ll hear Sue Sylvester say in Season 2.

4. “A female football coach is like a male nurse, Will: it’s a sin against nature.”
3. “I secretly hope you’re in the middle of a midlife crisis, William, as that means you’re halfway to an early death, affording me a blissful demented convalescence spent peeing on your grave.”
2. “Don’t go soft on me, Will. I realize you’re mourning the loss of that bony little redhead you’re in love with, and I understand. It’s not just a loss for you. As she appears to be the link between early hominids and man, it’s also a loss for science.”
1. “Should’ve taken the poop cookies, Will.”

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The Island is on the toenail of a giant…

Okay, so Fred Armisen was just a bit off, but while everyone continues to digest and debate the “Lost” series finale, it’s fun to look back on this old “Saturday Night Live” bit where several “Lost” fans share their early theories about the show while they share an elevator with Matthew Fox.

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“Lost” finale leaves a lot to be desired

There’s an old adage in show business — leave ‘em wanting more. With last night’s finale, “Lost” showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof took that line a little too far, offering up one big, metaphysical argument while leaving many questions unanswered.

Slate’s Laura Miller argues that the show’s fans might be to blame:

Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)?

If so, “Lost” may be the quintessential example of a pop masterpiece ruined by its own fans. The comic-book paraphernalia and texture of the island — its secret bunkers with their code names, Jacob’s migrating cabin with its creepy paintings, the ersatz normality of the Others’ compound ringed by those sonic pylons and the fantastically mechanical grinding and dragging sounds that used to accompany the appearance of the smoke monster — were not peripheral to the heart of “Lost.” They were the very essence of its appeal, what that show did better than any other. If I want to contemplate the nature of good and evil, I’ll turn to Nietzsche or Hannah Arendt (or, for that matter, Joss Whedon), and if I want ruminations on love, give me Emily Brontë or John Updike (or “Big Love”). From “Lost” I wanted less profundity and more fun. And I still want to know what the deal was with those numbers.

Ree Hines of MSNBC had a problem with the actual ending:

Sometime after his “Hey, kiddo!” and Jack’s understandable “What-the-what?” reaction, the silver fox explained precisely what the alternate reality was — a place Jack and his past pals created to have one giant, post-mortem meet up.

That’s right. It wasn’t a different thread of reality created by the time-changing blast Daniel Faraday suggested. That makes too much sense. Instead, it was all just some oddly plotted excuse for everyone (minus Michael, Walt and loads of other characters) to get together after their respective deaths but before they moved on to whatever follows.

What was the point of everything before that? What about all that alt-action? The alt-escapes? The alt-killings? The alt-family members who don’t really exist? (Sorry, David! And sorry anyone else who paid attention to your now meaningless story.) There weren’t any.

The end.

Really this time.

Those who spent the better part of the last six seasons wondering where in the heck the sometimes frustrating, almost always entertaining mystery could possibly go finally got their answer. If they can make sense of it, that is.

In the end, the electromagnetically charged mystery island gave way to a hug-filled waiting room leading to a pan-spiritual afterlife, led by the aptly named Christian Shephard. Whew!

It’s a daring way to end “Lost” — leaving plenty of questions unanswered and winking out on what has to be its least satisfying twist to date.

At least no one can say they saw that coming.

In other words, the ending was a surprise, and not a good one.

In terms of opinion, I fall more in line with Hines than Miller. While I see Miller’s point, the time to answer many of the questions that plagued her — the meaning of the numbers, why children were being abducted, how the island came to be, etc. — was not the finale. Those should have somehow been answered earlier. Within the context of the finale, it didn’t make sense for Jack to stop Ben and say, “Hey, why did you kidnap Walt anyway?” or “What’s the deal with the numbers?”

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LIVE BLOG: Lost 6.17 / 6.18 – The End

Welcome one and all to tonight’s live blog of the “Lost” series finale. As you can tell from the episode’s title, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof aren’t messing around when they say that this is the last we’ll see of our beloved Losties. No silly spin-offs, or God help us, feature films, but I guess you can never say never when money is involved. With that said, however, I’m not going to pretend like I’m a seasoned pro at this whole live blogging thing (in fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever tried it), so bear with me as my updates will likely be subject to a slight delay as I gather my thoughts and update the post, all while keeping track of the action onscreen. Continue to refresh this page for all updates and feel free to comment below. Enjoy the show, and don’t forget to check back after it’s over for my final thoughts.

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Nicknames are just one of his talents

In keeping with this weekend’s festivities, here’s another “Lost”-themed video for you starring everyone’s favorite conman, Sawyer. Although his knack for coming up with funny nicknames has been a long-running gag during the show’s six seasons, I’m a little more partial to this catchphrase. It doesn’t quite rival Jack Bauer’s “Damn it,” but it’s pretty close.

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Countdown to the “Lost” finale

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It all started with a plane crash, but in the six years since “Lost” premiered, ABC’s hit drama has become about a lot more than just a group of castaways trying to get off an island. From polar bears and smoke monsters, mysteries and revelations, and enough jumping back and forth in time to give audiences their own nosebleeds, it’s been one helluva ride. With the series finale only a few days away, however, it’s time we finally come to grips with the fact that our favorite show is ending for good.

At least it’s going out with a bang, as last Tuesday’s lead-in to the finale appears to have set the stage for what is sure to be an incredible farewell. On Earth-1, Jack has agreed to remain on the island as its new protector (while Kate, Sawyer and Hurley celebrate the fact that it isn’t them), and Smokey has devised a new plan to exploit Desmond’s superhuman resistance to electromagnetism by blowing up the whole damn island, hopefully breaking his centuries-long imprisonment in the process. And over in Earth-2 (a mirror universe that’s like some kind of “Matrix”-esque simulated reality where the Losties aren’t cognizant of their Earth-1 lives), a recently awakened Desmond has begun to dole out his own version of the red pill by jogging their memories and assembling them all together at a concert in Los Angeles. How this will tie into the lives of the surviving Losties on the island remains the biggest question of all, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s one the writers plan to answer before it’s over.

And don’t forget, I’ll be live blogging the series finale this Sunday starting at 9PM EST right here on Premium Hollywood. ABC will also be airing the original two-hour pilot Saturday night, a two-hour preview show Sunday before the finale, and a special edition of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” directly after. If that’s still not enough, be sure to check out Bullz-Eye’s brand new
Lost Fan Hub for interviews, DVD reviews, and much more.

To help get you in the mood, I leave you with this, a somewhat upbeat look back at the many deaths that have occurred throughout the course of the show. Enjoy.

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Lost 6.16 – What They Died For

I’ve been cautiously managing my expectations for the series finale since the beginning of the season, but after tonight’s incredible episode, it’s hard to imagine being disappointed anymore. Just looking back at last week, it’s funny to think how critical a lot of fans were about that episode. Now, one week later, it all suddenly makes much more sense. Granted, we may not have needed an entire hour dedicated to the history of Jacob and the Man in Black, but without that episode, there’s no way they could’ve progressed the story any farther.

There are only four Losties remaining (the same four, mind you, that Ben had Michael bring to him at the end of Season Two), and Kate is out for blood. She wants to exact revenge on Smokey for killing Sun and Jin, and with no other options left, they decide that the only way to get off the island is to kill him. But first, they have to save Desmond from the well. On the way there, however, Hurley is approached by the mysterious Other kid, who steals Jacob’s ashes and runs off with them into the jungle. When he finally chases the kid down, he discovers an adult Jacob sitting by a fire, who tells Hurley that once it burns out, he will be gone forever. That means getting down to business ASAP, so when Kate starts asking questions, Jacob seems more than happy to answer them. Ah, if only he were this cooperative from the start.

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Still, it’s nice to get some answers for once, including a confession from Jacob that the reason he brought them to the island is because he made a mistake a long time ago – namely, in the accidental creation of the Smoke Monster. He didn’t take all the blame, though, suggesting that they needed the island just as much as it needed them. Perhaps the biggest revelation, however, was the fact that Jacob only crossed Kate’s name off the cave wall because she became a mother to Aaron, and if she wanted the job of island protector, she could have it. In the end, though, it was always going to be Jack who volunteered to stay. The fate of the island is now in Jack’s hands, although if they manage to kill Smokey, who knows, maybe he won’t have to serve as protector for very long.

Elsewhere on the island, Ben, Richard and Miles finally arrive at the barracks to pick up the C4 when Widmore and Zoe show up looking to call a truce. Ben’s not interested, and when Smokey arrived minutes later, you pretty much knew that things weren’t going to end well. Richard had the audacity to try and talk to him, but Smokey just plowed right through him, seemingly killing him in the process. Ben, meanwhile, made a deal with Smokey to kill the rest of the Losties in trade for having the island to himself when Smokey leaves, and his first order of business is to give up Widmore’s hiding spot in his old house. Smokey doesn’t waste any time in slitting Zoe’s throat, and Ben shoots Widmore in the back – but not before Widmore tells Smokey that he brought Desmond back to the island as his fail safe in case all of the candidates were killed. Now, Smokey is looking to exploit Desmond’s resistance to the electromagnetism on the island by blowing it up, but if there’s no island (or cork) left to contain him, does that mean Smokey is just free to go as he pleases? And if so, why didn’t he try this earlier? On a related note, it was great to see Ben back to his old self again. It’s hard to imagine Smokey holding up his end of the deal, though, so I would either count on Ben being killed by Smokey or stabbing him in the back to help the Losties.

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Lost 6.15 – Across the Sea

Ever since we were introduced to Jacob and the Man in Black at the end of Season Five, fans have been foaming at the mouth for more answers about their past. And with only two episodes until the series finale, it seems the writers have finally deemed us worthy of exactly that. Though it wasn’t as great as everyone was probably expecting it to be, tonight’s episode did fill in some of the gaps. In fact, along with shedding some light on the early lives of Jacob and MIB, it also explained why the latter is so damned obsessed with leaving the island… or did it?

Here’s what we do know. A pregnant woman named Claudia washed onto the island after surviving a shipwreck many years ago, and upon meeting another woman in the jungle, she gives birth to a pair of twin boys. The first is named Jacob, but because she wasn’t expecting to have more than one, the other is never given a name – and it remains without one after the woman kills Claudia and raises the two boys as her own. Flashforward to their teenage years and the unnamed child (who we now know as the Man in Black) finds a box on the beach containing white and black rocks that he fashions into a game to play with his brother, Jacob.

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When the boys come across some other people on the island, however, they run back to tell Mother, who tells them that the visitors are evil. She later explains that the two of them are on the island for a reason, and that she’s made it impossible for either of them to hurt the other. She then takes them to a glowing waterfall in the jungle to show them just what they’re supposed to be protecting, and though she refuses to say exactly what it is, she warns them that the visitors will try to take the light, and if it goes out, it will go out everywhere. Of course, if MIB had been paying attention, he would have caught this slip-up, as Mother had previously told him that there was nothing else in the world beyond the island. Of course, that’s quickly remedied when the ghost of MIB’s real mother visits him in the jungle and leads him the other side of the island where the survivors of the shipwreck live. She also tells him about her murder at the hands of Mother, and although MIB tries to convince Jacob to come with him until he can figure out a way to leave the island, Jacob stays behind.

Flashforward again to their adulthood, and though they now live on separate sides of the island, Jacob and MIB still get together to play their childhood game. MIB even admits that Mother was right about the other men being evil, but he needs their help in order to find a way off the island. And as it happens, he’s done just that by digging into areas of the island radiating electromagnetic energy (or as he calls it, places “where the metal acts weird”), in order to locate the source of the glowing waterfall. But when Mother finds out about his dig site – one that includes the yet-to-be-frozen Donkey Wheel that will allow him to leave the island – she throws him against the wall knocking him out. And you wonder why the guy has been holding a grudge against her for all these years.

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