Saturday, May 10, 2008

Outwit, Outplay Out-Entertain

I The past few episodes of Survivor have been so entertaining, I think this season has become my favorite. I am not sure what it is surpassing, at this point even the good ones run together. I am thinking either Amazon or Cook Islands was somewhere near the top. But now? Fans versus Favorites is so far above either, I can't imaging what would have to happen for a season to be any better.

Early on, the season was just okay. I could barely keep track of who the fans were, and all the favorites I actually cared about kept getting voted out, or losing any likability. By the time the merge happened, the only person I cared about was Eliza. Who of course, was being targeted. But, this is when things got.....good.

A few episodes back, Jason had found the fake immunity idol that Ozzy had hid earlier in the season. He tries to give it to Eliza to save her, which led to a brilliant exchange where she told him the stick could not be the idol was just a stick. It was a great scene, and at the time, seemed like the highlight of the season. Unfortunately, it led to Eliza's departure. I assumed I wouldn't care about anything that happened after that. But, this is when things got....even better.

When Eliza saw Jason's "stick idol" she also outed the fact that Ozzy had the real idol to the rest of the tribe. At this point, Cirie started (and others) started wondering about when they could get rid of him. Meanwhile, the rest of the tribe is targeting Jason, and even convince him to quit an endurance immunity challenge, by saying they won't vote for him. When he TOTALLY needed immunity. It was almost painful to watch him make such a mistake. But, Ozzy had gotten pretty arrogant at this point and was convinced everyone was still going to vote for him. Which, Cirie decided was a perfect time to blindside him. She got together everyone who didn't seem to be in love with him (including Parvati, Ozzy's friend) and voted him out....despite him having the hidden immunity idol and not playing it. Ozzy was completely shocked, and it was a great tribal council.

After a really good blindside, you expect a boring episode. But in this case....things kept getting better.

This time Jason was sent to exile island and found a new real hidden immunity idol. This was bad, because everyone wanted to vote him out. So, this time Natalie worked some magic and convinced him that she sent him to Exile to help him and that they are working together. Then, she voted with everyone else to get rid of him....despite him having the hidden immunity idol and not playing it. Jason was completely shocked.

So, of course, I thought there couldn't be three blindsides relating to the hidden idol in a row, right? But then, next week James was medivaced off and Erik won immunity. This meant, the 5 remaining women had to turn on their own alliance. Everyone but Parvati and Amanda planned to vote for Amanda. Afterall, Amanda had come back from Exile and emptied her bag, showing them she didn't have the hidden immunity idol. So, she couldn't play it. But what they didn't know, was that the idol was hidden at camp. So after Amanda proved to them she didn't have it, she dug it up, and then spent the rest of the day putting on an Oscar-worthy performance. The woman was practically in tears. At tribal council she went on and on about how awful it went to be going home. Then once the votes were cast, she whipped out the idol. Alexis and Natalie both knew it was one of them, and both looked sick. It ended up being Alexis, and it was a great tribal council. got even better this past week. Erik won much needed immunity and guaranteed his spot in the final four. The remaining women, who had been in a final four alliance were bummed that they had to start eating each other. That is when Cirie casually throws out, the idea of Erik giving up his necklace. Natalie thought it was the stupidest idea she ever heard, because who the hell gives up immunity? But, since she was out if that didn't happen, she gave it a shot. I was sitting at home, wondering why they were spending so much time showing Cirie and Natalie try to convince him when it obviously wasn't going to work. And did. Erik hands over the necklace. Then they immediately vote him out. I don't think anyone at the tribal council had a straight face. I almost felt bad for Erik, because I hate seeing people embarrassed. But it was highly entertaining.

At this point we are going into the last episode with four women I don't necessarily like, but who have all played a good game. I don't think I have ever said at final four I would be happy with any winner. The fact that they are all women makes it even better - I have been a little disappointed by the string of male winners lately.

I hope the finale lives up to the last few episodes. I am not sure how, but, hey. I have been saying that for weeks.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Unstuck in Time

Last week’s Lost was a slight let down compared to the previous week’s mind-blowing Sayid centered episode. However, last night’s awesome Desmond episode more than made up for it. Desmond’s last episode was one of the best of last season, if for no other reason than the introduction of time travel possibilities on/from the island. Last night’s episode went even further.

While flying on the helicopter, Desmond suddenly flashed to eight years ago, when he was in the army. Unlike most “flashbacks,” however, Desmond seemed to actually travel from 2004 in the helicopter to 1996. When he returned, he had no memory of anything that happened in the last eight years, or the island. This led to a lot of confusion, twists, and time travel philosophy – all of which resulted in a great episode. There was little focus on the actual island, but it didn’t really matter.

Something is clearly up with this guy. We already know he is a little “off” and have seen hints of his memory problems. Now, we learned that this is probably the result of time travel himself. After the current Faraday instructed Desmond to find him in the past, we learned that his past self has a perfectly working memory and seems quite smart. He even wondered why his future self wouldn’t remember Desmond. I am guessing that Desmond’s visit led him to start experimenting with time himself, resulting in the memory gaps.

The Black Rock
In 1996, we saw that Charles Windmore was buying a journal from the first mate of the Black Rock. Since this is the boat sitting on the middle of the island, we know it probably contains secrets about all the weirdness of the island. More interestingly, the previous owner was the Hanso family. This explains why Hanso founded Dharma to experiment on the island. It also suggests that Windmore had started looking for the island as well, and is probably responsible for the team on the boat. I don’t know if this explains who Ben is working for exactly, but it certainly answers a lot of questions.

Happy Ending
The last three episodes of Lost have ended with some type of “twist” at the end, along with reveals about the future. This episode had a simple happy ending. After past Desmond begged past Penny to give him her phone number, future Desmond was able to call her. Since we know Penny has been looking for Desmond for the last three years, and we know that Desmond has considered her his “constant” even before he was told that term. So, the fact that they connected at the end was really a beautiful moment.

The Time Thing
Two weeks ago, we were given hints that time moves differently off the island than on. Yesterday, it was revealed that off the island is December 24, 2004, the same time as on the island. However, it took a day and a half for the helicopter to get to the boat, even though the flight didn’t take that long. Also, Faraday pointed out that the Losties perception of time might not match reality. My new theory is that TIME is the same on and off the island, but some type of force field around the island causes it to take awhile to get there.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Turn for the Better

Tuesday’s Jerricho finally sucked me back into the show. It took a few episodes, but it felt like the show was really getting back to its core idea; a show about a town struggling to make its own way when disaster strikes. The first few episodes of the second season seemed like a completely different show – the new government was running the town, the electricity was back on, and the citizens of Jerricho were no longer struggling just to find food. There were storylines introduced about various government conspiracies, but they did not involve most members of the cast, and I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Tuesday, made me care again. The plot focused on the Hudson Virus, the deadly virus spreading west towards Jerricho. Jennings and Rall, who is running things, did not want this information out and tried to destroy the supply of the vaccine that Dale had tracked down. This is when the show felt real to me, because it is when Jake and the other main characters bonded together to steal the vaccine back and administer it secretly.

I also really enjoyed the emotional scenes with Bonnie and Stanley. It was so sweet to see him tell her how he just wanted her to be happy, and to see Bonnie excited, and yet ambivalent about leaving home. The follow up scene, where Mimi promised Bonnie she would take care of Stanley almost made me tear up. Of course, this means that Bonnie is probably leaving for a while and I’ll miss seeing one of the best characters. But, it is almost worth it to see those scenes. It is rare to see families that just honestly care about each in a real way, and not overly sappy/corny.

The conspiracy side of the story, finally started getting interesting, since Robert Hawkins started interacting with Jennings and Rall. It seemed to raise the stakes a little, by letting that happen, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. However, that probably won’t be too far – ratings this season have been terrible, which means there is no way CBS is going to renew it for more than seven episodes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Back From the Apocalypse

When Jericho premiered a year and a half ago, I was a huge fan. But by the middle of the season, it seemed like the most interesting events had already happened. Judging by the ratings, I was not alone in losing interest in the show. Yes, some episodes had good moments, but as a whole I stopped caring. By the time it was cancelled last spring, I was almost relieved. It gave me an excuse to stop watching. Even though the cliffhanger had intrigued me, it was still not enough to really want a new season.

But, as everyone knows by now, the cancellation didn’t stick. Fans sent in nuts, and the show came back from the dead. Since those campaigns never work, I feel like the show has to succeed now, or any future save our show campaigns will be laughed at even more. So, I watch the new season opener the other night. I wanted to get back into it, but I just could not bring myself to care. A conclusion to the cliffhanger was rushed out and some new exposition set up a new storyline. The explanation to what I thought was most interesting - the new version of an American flag hanging – was the most rushed of all, and explained with a few sentences about how a new government was formed after the attacks. After that, I just couldn’t bring myself to care anymore.

A government contractor all over the town is rebuilding things. This total overrides the original idea of the show about a small town closed off out of nuclear attacks. Some general-type commanding everyone is much less interesting than an isolated town deciding what laws to follow and how to enforce them on their own.

The few highlights included the scenes with Mimi and Stanley. Those two had the subplot, mostly made up of pure character scenes. They were as entertaining as ever. I did miss Bonnie, and hope she is not totally erased. I also enjoyed Heather’s scenes, and was glad she was back. Her character was always one of the most likable, and I hope if Jericho continues, she ends up with Jake (instead of Emily who makes me crazy). The last highlight – a character eating peanuts. Of course.

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Questions

I can’t quite decide what I thought of last night’s Lost. I definitely enjoyed it, but it was a little bit of a let down after last week’s incredible premiere. The show didn’t reveal another member of the Oceanic Six, instead focusing on who I guess are four new cast members – the people from the freighter who are there to “rescue” everyone. The show took a slightly different approach, showing four flashback scenes of each person. It felt a little odd, but in the end I think it worked. There is probably not much else we need to know about any of them. Plus, they were able to work in some new strange details about the flight/island.

  • The “rescuers” revealed that their primary goal is to find Ben - presumably, to hurt him. This is fine by me, and I am sure most of the characters on the show. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t just hand him over and then ask for a ride. Ben tried to save himself by showing that he knows all about the team who landed on the island. I almost expected him to reveal he knew everything because Jacob told him or some other mystical reason. However, the real answer was much more interesting – he has a man on their boat. I wonder just how much contact Ben has with the outside world. The new characters had a picture of him. Was it from on the island, or has he left it at some point?
  • Abaddon, who we were introduced to last week is revealed to be “in charge” of the rescue mission. However, last week Hurley didn’t recognize him, so obviously he does not reveal himself to the passengers, and does not get what he is looking for. Otherwise, he would not need to bug Hurley in the future. So what happened?
  • Naomi was supposed to be in charge of getting the rest of the team in and out. What exactly did she know that the others didn’t? And how is her death going to affect the “mission?”
  • In the past, Charlotte found a polar bear skeleton with a Dharma collar – in Tunisia. Does this mean Dharma had other locations where they were testing? Does she work for whatever Dharma is now? They could be their to get revenge on Ben. The gas mask that Dan had in his bag was very similar to the one Ben wore when he helped kill the original Dharma. But how would anyone off the island know that?
  • The remains of Oceanic 815 were found in the Indian Ocean? That seems like the wrong place for a plane flying from Australia to L.A. So, how did whatever the plane is get there. And how did the rescuers know that Flight 815 was connected to the island they were looking for?

Hopefully, I will get some of the answers revealed in the remaining episodes. If
not, I hope each episode is still exciting enough to simply enjoy the die.

Well, that was anti-climactic

That was my reaction to the first episode of Survivor: Fans v. Favorites. For weeks CBS has been promoting how Johnny Fairplay is going to be back, and how is the guy who told “the biggest lie in Survivor history,” etc, etc, etc. Then last night, not only is he the first person voted off, but he asked to be voted off? I didn’t quite believe him when he started talking about wanted to be near his pregnant girlfriend. It seemed very fake. For awhile I thought he was going along with Parvati’s scheme to fake out the other half of the team. But in the end he was voted off and he didn’t seem upset about it. The whole thing felt very staged, actually.

Other than that, not much happened. We barely saw the “fans” team. I don’t think I even know any of their names yet. I just picked up on the one woman who has been called “the crazy lady” by her teammates. I can already tell she is going to be annoying, but I literally did not see enough of that team to get an impression on anyone else.

The focus, was really on the favorites, which was a little annoying. I thought it was funny when they all were introduced and only half of them got real welcomes. The rest were polite applause as the fans tried to remember who they were and why they were there. Again, I’ll ask, Eliza? Amanda? Really? I liked both of them, but they seem like odd choices.

All the time spent on the favorites, showed how their tribe is already split. There is an alliance of Ami, Eliza, Jonathon, and Yau Man (who I am already rooting for), and an alliance of James, Parvati, Ozzy, and Amanda (who I am already annoyed by). I didn’t mind Amanda and Ozzy so much last time but the fact that they are already coupling and are so buddy-buddy with James and Parvati (who are also coupling) troubles me. We didn’t see much of Cirie, which I thought was weird. I hope it is not a bad sign, since I think she is a great contestant. Next week, I am sure she will become the swing vote and whatever alliance she chooses will point the game in one direction or another.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In a prison of boredom

I feel like an awful fan, because I have completely lost track of everything that is going on on Prison Break. I was already a little lost in November when the show went on hiatus. Now, that it is back, I have not been able to get back on track. This is probably a sign that I don’t really care that much about the show. But while watching, all I could think about was how I have seen everything before and never gotten pay off. It makes it difficult to stay focused.

Two weeks ago the show had a cliffhanger where Sofia found a suitcase in Whistler’s closet. I don’t think we ever found out what was in it, but she seems a little doubtful about trusting him. I guess that was supposed to be building tension to the cliffhanger? But, it really just confused me.

The rest of the story is just more of the same. Michael is digging a tunnel and there are now enough people breaking out of Sona with him to form a baseball team. I did laugh when Michael reported to Lincoln how many people have to come with him. But it all just reminds me of season one, when the same thing happened. I am sure this will result the same way – way too many characters on the run in different places.

I also realized at the end, I have no idea what the full plan is. Did they reveal it and I just missed it? All I know is they are digging halfway out and then need something else to happen. But I can’t quite figure out what, and I can’t quite bring myself to care. I am sure something will happen to get some people out, and something else will happen to stop others, and it will continue on and on forever. After so many set backs and so many new plans it is hard to keep caring.