Friday, November 14, 2008

Michael Crichton, You Will Be Missed

My junior year of high school I was very into the work of Michael Crichton.  I had read everything that he had written, including Travels, his memoir.  I was very into the paranormal, and a large part of Travels had to do with Crichton's thoughts and experiences dealing with some paranormal occurrences (or Fringe science as JJ Abrams might put it).  I would often bring up these experiences of Crichton's as well as other paranormal articles and such that I had found in my Chemistry II class.  Our teacher in Chem II was not fond of the idea of paranormal "pseudo science" and would often tell me how wrong both myself and Crichton were.  "But he was a Doctor, Mrs. Diehl," I would say.  "That's a lot like a scientist."  She would smirk and say, "He's also a writer," knowing full well that a writer is what I wanted to be, implying that we writers were gullible enough to believe anything in service of a good story.

When I heard last week that Michael Crichton had died, I was stunned.  I hadn't even known that he was sick.  As the years have gone by, I'm no longer the huge fan of Crichton's that I once was, but I still appreciated him and remember fondly how much I loved reading Jurassic Park, Sphere, and The Andromeda Strain for the first time.

In that junior year of high school, two new medical dramas started.  Due to my love for Michael Crichton (and Mrs. Diehl's disdain for him) it wasn't surprising that we would be on separate sides of the great Medical Show Debate war.  I was all about ER (created by Michael Crichton) and Mrs. Diehl believed in Chicago Hope.  The entire class took sides.  I was thrilled by ER, as it was very reminiscent of the early part of Travels when Crichton talked about his time as an intern for a hospital.  I loved the characters and how real it all seemed, much more so then any other medical drama before it and certainly more so then the David E. Kelley show Chicago Hope which was less a medical drama and more a Kelley-esque character drama.

For years I watched ER faithfully, sure that this was the best television had to offer, and for a long time it was.  Slowly, however, the show became less a ground breaking medical show and became more of a standard television medical drama dealing more with the home lives of some of the characters then the interesting and realistic cases that came through the ER doors.  It started to become much more soapy then it had been originally, and I didn't like that, but I cared enough about the characters that I stuck with it.

That finally changed 6 years ago, however, eight seasons into the television show when Dr. Greene, the heart and soul of the show, was killed off.  I hadn't watched an episode since.

Then last week, Michael Crichton died, and I began to remember all the works that he had a part in that I had enjoyed so much, and ER was definitely part of that legacy that he had left behind.

It was fitting in my mind that so soon after he died, Dr. Greene was scheduled to return to Cook County General in honor of ER's final (finally) season.

I watched it, and for the small part of the episode that was set 6 years in the past I remembered how good this show used to be (as well as remembering why I stopped watching with all the new characters none of whom I recognized or cared about).  It was short, but it was good to see Dr. Greene, Dr. Weaver, Dr. Romano (still an ass), and Jerry (still awesome).  I was upset it took so long to get to the characters I knew and missed, and upset that it was such a small part of the episode, but it was still nice to spend even a little time with the show that I remembered in honor of the author who helped make Cook County a place to visit every Thursday for eight years.

Thank you for ER, for Jurassic Park, for Sphere, for Andromeda Strain, for Twister, and for all the other works that fired up my imagination.  Although I'm not the fan I once was, I want you to know that you will be missed.  And thanks to the short visit from beyond the grave last night by Dr. Greene, we're reminded that we can always have a little visit with you by revisiting one of the many works you've given us to remember you by.

Until Next Time,

Rest in peace Michael Crichton and thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TV Fall Watch Continues and some thoughts on Heroes

So, I've decided to add a new category.

Back and Still Golden.

Some of the shows that I placed in Back on Track fit better in Back and Still Golden.  Back on Track included My Name Is Earl, The Office, Chuck, Life, Friday Night Lights, and How I Met Your Mother.  I'm moving The Office, Chuck, and Life into the new category Back and Still Golden, as none of them have suffered a bit of a downturn, whereas Earl, Friday Night Lights, and How I Met Your Mother suffered a little bit last season when compared to their overall greatness.

We've also had two other shows return since that post, Eli Stone and 30 Rock.

Eli Stone is unquestionably in Back and Still Golden (and the closest show towards Triumphant Return, but I can't say that this season is far and above last season, merely just as freaking amazing, so only Sarah Connor is far and above it's previous heights and therefore the only show given a spot in Triumphant Return).

If I'd written this after the premiere of 30 Rock, I would have likely been a little negative, as the season premiere really wasn't that good, but last week's episode (the Oprah episode) was fantastic, so it will get placed in Back on Track after the poor premiere.


Now, I want to talk a little about Heroes as it is greatly disappointing me.  If you aren't caught up and you still want to be, you probably shouldn't read on.

We can all agree that Season 2 of Heroes sucked.  It just wasn't very interesting and that was near criminal based on the greatness that Season 1 had to offer.  The total crap that was Season 2, however, took a lot of the attention away from the problems that Season 1 did have, mainly its gaping plot holes.  In trying to return the show to its Season 1 roots and keep Season 3 from the problems that faced Season 2, the producers have ignored the flaws that Season 1 did have, and ultimately have doomed this show in my opinion.


Season 3 had Future Peter coming to get Present Peter to help him save the world.  However, in the future, Future Peter is killed by Claire.  This, of course, would be impossible as we know that Peter has Claire's healing ability and his body would heal itself and spit out the bullets (just like Sylar's body did after stealing Claire's power earlier in this very season).  He could be killed momentarily, since the Haitian was there, but the second that the Haitian wasn't around Future Peter, his body would have healed itself.

The sad thing is, this is an easy fix.  They should have beheaded Future Peter (or removed his brain, whichever) while the Haitian was still there and then he could have been killed.  In fact, that's the only sure way to kill him, if his brain is incapacitated, his body can't heal itself.  Shots to his chest would do nothing, however.


The show really pulled out all the stops last night in going for big plot holes.  Last night we are told that after Gabriel Gray killed his first victim, he tried to kill himself and certainly didn't harm anyone else until HRG and Elle forced him back into it.  This would have been fine if it had happened further back in the story line, but last night's episode told us it happened in between the pilot and the six months preceding with the ultimate end to the story line happening after Mohinder was in America (since HRG gets in the cab).  The problem is, Sylar had killed Mohinder's father, plus enough people throughout the country at this point to have the FBI on him, and would have actually been in LA, not New York, because he had just killed Molly Walker's family.  The timing completely disrupts acts that we already know have taken place.


Nathan tells his brother and soon after everyone that their father hadn't died of a heart attack as Peter thought, but actually had committed suicide.  Then, this episode shows us that Nathan should have been under the impression that their father did have a heart attack.  There was no way to conclude that Arthur Petrelli tried to commit suicide.

The show has been full of these types of mistakes from the beginning and they are only getting more and more blatant.  Recently they fired some of the producers and new people have been brought in to run the show's second half this season, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep watching to see if it gets any better.  The show has such amazing potential, and yet it infuriates me by not sticking to its own rules.  I wish that it would at least try to remain true to itself, but there is no indication that it will.

Until Next Time, LOST's start date has been announced for the new season, Jan 21st.  It can't come soon enough.