Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why I Love Genre Shows

This is ostensibly my review of the fantastic new television show based on the graphic series The Walking Dead

and I promise that the review will be in here, but I also wanted to talk about the reason shows such as this,

Star Trek,

 and Battlestar Galactica

are so amazing on more than just a "they're so cool and exciting" level.

I think that a lot of people view genre shows in that vein.  Science Fiction and Fantasy based television shows aren't always given the credit that many of them deserve, credit for being about real issues and taking a hard look at those issues.  They take a hard look at issues that we often have a hard time looking at objectively, either because we disagree so vehemently on them as a society or because they are issues that are just uncomfortable to talk about.

Battlestar Galactica is still the best show ever on television in my opinion.  It is a show that might have taken place in space, far away from our world in both space and time, but that isn't really the point of the show at all.

The show was about what it means to be human, about religion and what religion has the power to make us do and believe, about war and the lengths that we will go if we believe we are faced with our own end, and about all of the social issues that we are dealing with in this place and this time.

Sure, it was a Science Fiction television show, but if you really look at what they were saying, there are deep issues being discussed.

For instance, the show was aired during the Bush era, while we were embroiled in a war that many felt was unjust in Iraq.  The show had a President who got the job through questionable means, who was a religious fundamentalist, who believed that personal liberties could and should be put aside for the "greater good", and yet the President was portrayed as a very likable character, and is generally considered good.

On the other hand, the show has the human characters acting against an occupying force that has a different religion, an occupying force that is ostensibly there for the benefit of those being occupied.  The humans rise up in insurgency and terrorism against the occupiers, and the viewers root for them.  Remember, this show was on the air during the time of the Iraqi war.  The show actually has the viewers rooting for the Iraqi insurgents against the American occupiers!

So the show basically has you sympathizing with Iraqi insurgents as well as sympathizing and rooting for President Bush.  It allows you to look at the other side and perhaps understand where others are coming from regardless of where you stand politically.

Sure, Star Trek is pretty cheesy in a lot of aspects if you go back and watch it now, but look at what the show was saying in the time in which it was on the air.

The show made a real effort to show people from different cultures all working together on the crew of the Enterprise, and the First Officer wasn't even from the same planet!

War and money were outdated concepts for the people of Earth and the other cultures that were a part of the Federation of Planets.

The show featured the first interracial kiss on television!

Meanwhile, in the world at large at the time, we were engaged in the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

Sure, Star Trek was a cheesy sci-fi western/adventure show, but it was also very much in response to these issues that the world was dealing with at the time.  As great as The Andy Griffith Show was, they weren't dealing with these issues, and wouldn't have been allowed to if they wanted to.

Sci-Fi and fantasy get to side-step the fact that television that is supposedly for entertainment shouldn't be dealing with those types of troubling issues because genre shows are so otherworldly (for lack of a better term) that there is enough distance from the issues being examined, that it isn't as uncomfortable.

And that brings me to AMC's new television show, The Walking Dead.

There have been three episodes so far, and there are three more until the first season is over.

AMC has already picked up the show for a second season.

Sure, it is a show about Zombies, and if you're into that, you will not be disappointed, but I would argue that it is also about much more.

Obviously it is about survival, but also about what we (as a species) are capable of doing to each other in order to survive.  What horrible, monstrous things are we humans capable of when pushed?

Ultimately, are we really any better than the zombies?

These are some of the issues that the show has posited thus far.

Add to these interesting questions and issues, the fact that the show is exquisitely shot (the pilot was directed by Frank Darabont, he of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), superbly acted, and the writing is pitch perfect.

I can't think of another time when I was so emotionally invested in a television show, that a moment in the first act of the third episode had me crying.

If you haven't checked out The Walking Dead yet, I hope that you'll consider it.

If you weren't going to watch it because you don't like genre shows, I hope you'll reconsider that as well.  Genre shows might be the only shows that really get to examine the issues, situations, and realities that we need to examine and we discuss, and they do it in a way that allows there to be unbiased and rational discussion, which seems to be impossible in the world as it is stands right now.

Until Next Time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One in 36 hours as of this writing!

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Always Funny in Philadelphia

Last night's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" was, without question, one of the series's finest.

The story-telling was probably the best that the show has ever had, and yet the wacky comedy didn't suffer from story at all.

(From this point on there will be spoilers)

The big question from the episode is: Who is Sweet Dee's Baby Daddy?

Talking about this with my good friend Justin (from the outstanding Cavemen Go), he brought up an idea he has for an upcoming blog of his own where he would think of awesome stunt castings for some of his favorite shows.  This is a great idea, and I am greatly looking forward to his blog on that very subject, but I thought, while we wait, we should come up with the top 5 stunt casting choices for Sweet Dee's Baby Daddy.

5. Ben Stiller
The episode began with the gang talking about spending the night at the museum (which would also be a hilarious episode, I kind of hope that we get that one some day), so, of course, I thought about Ben Stiller.  His comedic timing would fit in nicely with this crowd, and that would have been an awesome easter egg if the guys knew they were bringing in Ben Stiller to be Sweet Dee's Baby Daddy.

4. Jonathan Lajoie (Taco from The League)
Taco is the greatest character on the greatest show about Fantasy Football ever.  (Seriously, it is scary how much this show often matches a league that I am in [GO WILD OLIVES!]).  Jonathan Lajoie (pronounced Lajwa) steals every single scene that he is in, and not only would he do the same on Sunny, he would also bring more attention to the hilarious show that follows it.

3. Ricky Gervais
Mainly because I love him, and want him to be on every comedy, because he can only make it funnier.  (He's also my choice to replace Michael Scott on NBC's The Office, but to do so as David Brent, the character that Michael Scott is based on.)  Just imagining Ricky Gervais's expressions when listening to Dennis, Mac, Charlie, and Frank already have me cracking up.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Justin's choice for some great stunt casting.  This would be hilarious on numerous levels.  A: It's the Govenator, so that would be awesome, B: The comedic stylings of Schwarzenegger and Sunny star Danny DeVito are well documented.  And this wouldn't be the first time that Schwarzenegger and DeVito have had to deal with an impending birth.  I can see it now, AH-nold could play Frank's (twin?) brother, the uncle that Sweet Dee had always had a huge crush on, and since 7th Heaven turned out to be Dennis and Sweet Dee's real dad, there wouldn't be anything too wrong with it (at least not to these depraved people).

And my number one choice would be the man of whom there is a statue in Philadelphia....

1. Sylvester Stalone (better known as Rocky Balboa)

Mainly, because I want to see a boxing match between Sly and Dennis.

Until Next Time, what do you think?  Who should play Sweet Dee's Baby Daddy?  Or should it be someone on the show already?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Facebook Me

I remember when I first heard that there was going to be a movie about Facebook, (And I love that spell check still doesn't think that facebook is a word.  There is actually a bit about that in the movie if you watch closely) I thought that a movie about facebook would be a ridiculous idea.  I mean you might as well have Zach Snyder (director of 300 and Watchmen) direct a kids' movie!  (Oh, wait.)

Then I began to hear a little bit more about it.  I heard that David Fincher's name was attached.  He is one of five directors working today that I will go see anything that he does.  (Another future post?)  Then I heard that Aaron Sorkin would be writing.  (He's got a nice cameo by the way.  And the script is clearly his.  You West Wing fans, and Sports Night [What What!], will really enjoy it.)  At that point I was incredibly intrigued.

Then I began to hear what the movie would be about, and I realized that this wasn't so much a movie based on facebook the website as it was a movie about what went into the making of facebook, which honestly, is a movie about our society today, our obsessions, who we are, what we want from the internet, and the type of person you have to be to recognize those needs, obsessions, and wants, and then deliver them to us.

This movie is fascinating.  It is a character study first and foremost.  Mark Zuckerberg, in the film, is an intriguing character.  He is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg with great results.  I have heard Eisenberg referred to as a Michael Cera type actor, but the depth that Eisenberg brings to this role outweighs anything that Cera has done to date (which, as much as I enjoyed Arrested Development, is really just varying versions of George Michael.)  The film seems to make a case (although not in an obvious or heavy handed way, but the signs are there if you care to look for them) that Zuckerberg has Asperger's.  I have no idea if he actually does, but I don't doubt at all the film meant for those signs to be there, despite not coming right out and saying it.  While Zuckerberg definitely doesn't come off as a hero in the film, and is definitely portrayed somewhat as an asshole, he is also the protagonist of the film, and you can't help but root for him and find him likable (at the same time you think, "wow, what an asshole.")  This is due, in large part, to the outstanding job that Eisenberg does in portraying him.

Speaking of great acting performances, Justin Timberlake steals every single scene that he is in.  He is phenomenal as creator Sean Parker.  I would be shocked if he doesn't recieve at least a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and I wouldn't be shocked at all if he somehow manages to win.  After all, Mo'Nique is an Oscar winner now, why not Justin Timberlake?  But seriously, he is unbelievable.  I had been impressed with him in small roles prior to this (most notably in Black Snake Moan) but he blew me away with this performance.

David Fincher was as incredible as you would expect.  His work is flawless and phenomenal, and the texture, presence, and depth that he is able to add with his visuals is beyond reproach.  He is simply one of the best directors working today.

And, as I mentioned earlier, the screenplay is vintage Sorkin.  No one writes dialogue like Aaron, and no one makes talking sound as good.  If only the real world sounded like it does in Sorkin's mind.  Alas, we will have to settle for the complete series of Sports Night and West Wing, and movies such as this.

In a year where Hot Tub Time Machine has a legitimate shot to make my Top Ten (seriously, this year has been terrible for film so far), I am glad that there is finally an actual outstanding movie to recommend (along with Toy Story 3 and Inception, everything else this year has been, at best, okay).

Until Next Time, Go see this film, and then I'll see you on Facebook.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Kristen Bell is SOOOOO Awesome

Have you watched Veronica Mars?  Because you absolutely should.  One of the best television shows of all time, and the first season is, in my opinion, one of the best seasons of a television show of all time, probably in the top five (a future post, perhaps?).

Clearly it is time for you catch up on this fantastic show, and thankfully, Netflix is here to help you with that, as all three seasons are now on Instant Viewing.

That isn't the reason that I am writing today, however.  Since the series was canceled a few years ago, there has been a persistent rumor that there will be a Veronica Mars movie at some point.  The actors are all on board, as is the creator of the show Rob Thomas (not the same as the one from Matchbox Twenty, but the one who also created the fantastic show Cupid... twice).

The problem is that Warner Bros. who owns the property isn't sure that the movie would make money (although I'm sure I'd see it numerous times) and therefore isn't worth making.

Kristen Bell, who rocketed to stardom last year in Forgetting Sarah Marshall but to those of us who watched Veronica Mars was a star far earlier, disagrees with Warner Bros. and has gone to Twitter to ask that Warner Bros. either acknowledge that there is an audience for this film or let the project go so that it can be made independently.

From her Twitter @IMKristenBell

  1. #veronicamars fans send petitions & any obsessive behaior u have 2 @wbpictures & demand the film. they c no audience 4 it? i beg 2 differ.
  2. mars fans-can we bug @wbpictures & tell em the must do a VM film?? new tactic. bombard em w/tweets, theres evidence of fans they cant ignore
Kristen Bell doesn't need Veronica Mars, she is turning into a chick flick star and could easily do those types of films for the next fifteen to twenty years, but she knows what a great character Veronica is and how strongly the fans of the show want more from the smart and sassy (and Battlestar Galactica quoting) Veronica Mars.

If you want to get in on this, and really why wouldn't you, send @wbpictures telling them so with the hashtag #veronicamarsmovie

And join this Facebook group while you're at it!

Until Next Time, So glad that Kristen Bell is as on board as we are with this dream.. Let's make it happen!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Josh Man Vs. the World

The title of this post is because I am apparently the only one that didn't like Scott Pilgrim.

Now, let me tell you why....

First, I am probably the prime audience for this movie, although I have not read (and now don't plan to read) the graphic novel on which it is based.  I am, however, a fan of Edgar Wright (the director), a fan of comic books and the movies that are made from them, and, most importantly for this film, a fan of video games, because this film is really just a film version of a video game.

Despite all of that going for me, I really disliked this movie.

The story is horrendous.  The plot, beyond just being pretty sexist, is not that engaging and doesn't make a ton of sense.  I've been told that if I had read the graphic novel it would make a lot more sense, but in order to make a decent adaptation, one needs to understand the movie without having read the source material, and that isn't really possible here.  (Slight *Spoilers* here) Why does Scott Pilgrim see Romona in his dreams, how is able to fight off all of the first exes without any explanation when we see where his ability to defeat the last one comes from, why is the world and specifically Scott Pilgrim's life being akin to a video game not a surprise to anyone?  Because it is clear from the scenes in the film that all video game like action is not just in Scott's head.

Overall, the film tries WAAAAAY too hard.  It wants to be visually stunning, but in my opinion is more often than not annoying.  Some (my girlfriend) have tried to convince me that this movie is an attack on hipsters, and while I agree that might be a theme in this movie (even the most important one) that doesn't forgive the film for how hard it works to say "I'm cool, if you're cool you will like me!"  I'm sorry, when you work that hard to seem cool, you don't appear cool, I just pity you.

As I said earlier, I love video games, but the video games that I like generally have a good story, I don't like them because there are boss fights or because of experience points or because of any of the video game type things that happen in this film, I like them because of good gameplay, sure, but primarily because of story, and this film does not have a strong story at all.

It seems to me (and again, I haven't read the graphic novel) that the story was an after thought, and that the writers mainly wanted to focus the project around the idea of using the language and structure of video games.  I think using that structure and the language of video games that all of us who game a lot would know and immediately recognize is a good idea, but that in doing so it should be because it serves and accentuates the story, not try and fit the story (such as it is) around it.

This has been a down year for movies thus far, and I had high hopes for this one (I don't even hate Michael Cera as much as some people do, although I admit that he has only ever played George Micheal Bluth), but it did not live up to those hopes, at least for me.

Until Next Time, If you liked it, I'm glad that you did, but it isn't a film that worked for me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big News on the Doctor Who Front

I haven't done as much on this blog thus far on talking about television news, but it is part of what I occasionally want to cover, especially when it has a big effect on television shows that I absolutely love, in this case, the longest running Sci-Fi show in all of history, Doctor Who...

Before I get to the news on this fantastic (and fantastical) show, I want to talk a little bit about the last season, the first since the Doctor came back without Russell T. Davies in charge, the first under Stephen Moffat.

While some people I know didn't enjoy the Moffat run series as much as they did the Davies run seasons prior to it (featuring Christopher Eccleston for a year, and David Tennant for four, three series and a series of specials), most critics praised this last season, and I agree.  While I (and I'm sure most fans of the Doctor would agree) am a huge fan of Tennant's incarnation, and despite my enjoyment of Matt Smith, he's no David Tennant, the overall story of the series was the best of the new run, in my opinion.  I am a fan of a series (or season as we say in the good ol' U S of A) that is truly serial, where each episode works with each other and towards a specific end.  There are no throw-away episodes, no "time-wasters".

I thought the last season's story was incredibly imaginative, and the finale was fantastic, one of the best in quite some time.

So, the big news of the last couple of days for Doctor Who is that next season will be split into two stories with a break in the middle allowing for a cliff-hanger episode.  An interview with Moffat from The Guardian broke this news.  The Doctor will return to the air for seven episodes, concluding with "an earth shattering climax", a "game-changing cliffhanger", then going on hiatus until the autumn when the show will return with six more episodes (ostensibly telling a different story coming out of the game-changer that occurred in the mid-season finale) culminating in the season finale.  The Doctor will then return on Christmas with the Christmas special.

The departure of the fantastic David Tennant also meant that ratings weren't as strong as they were in the final Tennant year, so the hope is that with double the "event" episodes, the premiere, a mid-season finale, the autumn premiere, and the season finale (instead of just one premiere and finale we now have two of each), the ratings overall will be stronger.

Personally, I am not a fan of splitting a season in two, with a hiatus in the middle, and this is what Heroes attempted to do in its last couple of seasons, and that didn't work out so well at all.  However, I think that we can all agree that the stories on Doctor Who under Moffat are much better than anything on Heroes after season one.  Doctor Who is a much better show, and so the failure of Heroes shouldn't really have anything to do with this decision in regards to Doctor Who.

A major plus, of course, is that while the number of episodes doesn't change, there will be new Doctor Who throughout the year.  We "are never going to be more than [a] few months from the new series of Doctor Who."  And as an impatient person, that is an exciting thing.

The other thing to talk about with this news is, of course, what the "earth shattering climax", the "game-changing cliffhanger" will be.  Will it result in the actual, unchangeable death of a companion?  Something that is very rare in the world of Doctor Who, and hasn't occurred in quite some time.  Really only one major companion has died (although a few others who haven't traveled as long with the Time Lord have also died), Aldric who was a companion of the fourth and fifth Doctor throughout seasons 18, 19, and 21.  So if Amy Pond is killed off, that would be a game-changer.

A bigger game-changer, of course, would be the Doctor regenerating into a woman, but that probably won't happen anytime soon.

Until Next Time, Whatever happens, Moffat won me over last season, and I look forward to what he does next with the series.

Friday, August 27, 2010

LOST The New Man in Charge, first thoughts


No, seriously... SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, if you are still here, then I will assume that you have watched the entirity of LOST and perhaps watched this special as well.

On the LOST Season 6 Blu Ray, there is a special feature from after Dr. Jack's death (What? I told you there were spoilers!) entitled The New Man in Charge. It looks at the time on the Island with Ben working for Hurley.

If you are one of the people who complained about the number of answers neglected in the finale, this less than fifteen minutes will probably be exactly what you wanted. Tons of "questions" are answered in the special, and there are also a lot of good little LOST in jokes.

While most people will focus on the answers provided, I want to talk a little bit about the jokes, because the sense of humor in LOST is a part of the show that I loved, but never really spent much time talking about.

First, the special makes fun of its own purpose, the fact that there are questions that people want answers to that the show itself didn't have enough time to divulge. When the DHARMA workers ask who Ben is and what he is doing there, Ben replies, "I'm tying up a few loose ends."

While watching the Hydra Orientation video, Dr. Chang actually uses his real name, but he asks that those watching not give it out as he would hate to have to use an alias in the future, which, of course, we know that he does. The reveal is handled in a very amusing aside, which I really liked. If you really had to know why Chang always uses a different name in the videos, now you know, otherwise, it was an amusing joke.

The next reveal also made me laugh, as we got the reappearance of the Hurley Bird, which is called a Hy-Bird by the DHARMA folk.

And by the way, how awesome was the Polar Bear worker who apparently got a little too close to the Bears referenced by the loss of his arm. A nice little foreshadowing for Chang himself.

Just after the video ends, Hector references one of my all time favorite LOST moments, saying, "I think we're gonna need to see that again." That was of course the first thing that Locke said after watching the first orientation video we saw way back in season 2.

Finally, Ben goes to our favorite mental institution and we find our favorite kidnappee, which leads to the great moment of Walt asking Ben if he is there to kidnap him again.

Tons of questions were answered, and it was great to have some new LOST if only for 12 minutes, the only problem is that it raised another huge question that apparently we will never get an answer to...

Until Next Time, how in the world did they get a DHARMA Van to present day Los Angeles?

Josh Man

Sunday, July 18, 2010

6th Annual Josh's Choice For Best New Show of the Season

Wow, I'm getting really bad about getting these things in on time.  I'll do a better job with it next year, sometime in June.  I promise.

(really shouldn't be making promises I probably can't keep)

Anyway, to recap, this is the 6th year (holy crap!) that I've been giving this award.  The rest are all on this blog, and you can find them by using the JCFBNSOTS label at the bottom of this post.  So that's cool.

But, if you'd rather, I can just recap the winners real quick right here.

5th Annual- Dollhouse

4th Annual- Journeyman

3rd Annual-Friday Night Lights

2nd Annual- Invasion

1st Annual- LOST

What does it say about the state of television that only one of those (Friday Night Lights) will be on the air next season?

I don't know.  You tell me.

At any rate, let's see if this years winner will return, or if like Invasion and Journeyman it will be one and done.

First, the honorable mention


If it had only had 13 episodes this would have made the final five without a doubt.  However, do to the popularity that the show had in its initial run, the producers (or the network) got a little crazy and turned the show into a spectacle, instead of the character driven show that it started out as.  The characters, in fact, would often act completely out of character if it would serve the spectacle or some outrageous moment to fit in the episodes theme of the week.  On top of that, most of the musical numbers were still overproduced, and Mr. Schuester was still unwatchable (the only problems I had with the show during its initial run).  It is a shame.  I have no doubt that many of you who love the show will continue to watch it, despite its departure from the show that it began as, and that is fine.  I am done, and probably won't miss it, although I will always miss the show that it started as and the show that it could have been if they had left well enough alone.

Okay, onto the shows that placed in this years competition...

As always, counting down because it is so much more fun that way!

5. Community

This show finished very strong, with some fantastic episodes towards the end (Paintball for instance).  This show probably has a very bright future, and I can't wait to see where it goes next.  It would have finished higher if it didn't spend a little too much time finding its way early in the season.

4.  Modern Family

Which this show did not.  This show was fully formed right out of the gates.  Such a great comedy with such amazing characters.  The writing is spectacular, and the comedy comes out of the well written characters, making the situations that they find themselves in completely believable.  Other television shows could learn a lot from Modern Family, you don't have to sacrifice character for spectacle.

3.  Mercy

Such a good show, I really hope it returns, although I'm doubting it.  I don't know why more people didn't give this show a better chance.  Some people complained that it was a little too reliant on the emotional stuff, but it did the emotional really well, and unlike another super soapy medical drama (looking at you Grey's) the characters are smart and believable and so are the situations that they find themselves in.  I'm much more willing to buy into the dramatic and emotional stuff when I can believe and connect to the characters, and I definitely can with Mercy.  I never could with Grey's and that is why this, in my opinion, is the far superior show.  Sadly, the ratings follow Grey's Anatomy.

2.  FlashForward

This show was really hurt by the huge hiatus that it went through.  It was still a smart sci-fi show, and worth watching, but the way the break was handled probably killed any chance it could've had at being renewed.  It is probably going to be hard for a few years for any show cast in the LOST mode (even though because of the success of LOST there will probably be quite a few of them) because it will be such a hard label to live up to and because there quite honestly is probably some LOST fatigue.  (Not from me.  I could have watched another ten or twenty years of LOST, but then I also kept watching this, so, what are you going to do).

And the winner of Josh's Choice for Best New Show of the Season is...

For the first time ever from CBS (although Jericho almost won one year)....

1.  The Good Wife

Such a terrific show.  Much like Eli Stone the last couple of years, this is a court room drama that sets itself apart from all of the other court room dramas, and all of the court room dramas of the past.  This one does it because of the fact that it is also an outstanding family drama and has an outstanding season long mystery/case as well as the good weekly cases.  The cast is spectacular, and taking its cue from family dramas like the lone remaining JCFBNSOTS winner other than this one, FNL, it has a very believable and realistic family dynamic.  That really is, for some reason, very rare for television these days.

Well, there you have it.  TV will be a lot different next year, without LOST and 24, but this years winner will be getting a season 2, so at least there is that.

Until Next Time, I'm still really, really, really missing LOST.

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST The End, first thoughts

Perfect. Just perfect.

All questions that needed to be answered were answered, I was completely at ease with where everyone (including those who have died throughout the series) ended up, and the message of the show was so beautiful.

I honestly wouldn't change a thing.

Jack finally knew what it was that he was supposed to do, why he was on the Island in the first place, and he did it because he wanted to, not because he felt like he had to or was destined to, but because he made the choice.

Desmond was a true hero in both realities, allowing the Smoke Monster to be defeated so that the Island would finally be safe again, making the faith that Jacob had in humanity a reality and allowing his mistake to finally be made up for, much as Jacob gave all of the LOSTies the opportunities to make up for their mistakes.

I actually think that the Smoke Monster could have been redeemed as well, since we saw both Sayid and Claire redeemed, but he made the decision to work against humanity and actually against life itself.

Had the light gone out permanately, then I doubt life could have continued at all, we were told that there is a little of that light in everyone, and so I think that we can infer what the Island actually is. The Island is the source of whatever it is that makes us human, makes us special, because each of us are special, and can make choices to accentuate that light inside of us (or make choices that dim that light, perhaps allowing there to be the Darkness that was spoken of, and that was so literally shown in the Smoke Monster). Some people have gifts that make them even more special, and I think that is why Hurley was such a perfect choice to ultimately replace Jacob. He had the special ability to see and speak to the dead, and while it isn't necessary to have such a special gift in order to protect the Island, I think that it helps.

Walt would have been a perfect choice to replace Jacob, but he was allowed to leave the Island, and moved on beyond it. I buy that explanation completely and fully, even though I know that the real reason he wasn't brought back into the show is because he went through his growth spurt and pretty much grew out of the character. I'm okay with how it all turned out though concerning Walt, by giving us other characters that were special, and by making it clear that there were many people eligible to become Jacob's replacement, the importance of Walt overall is lessened and the show was able to move on without him.

And by getting the back story of the Locke-less Monster, we learned that merely being special isn't enough to make you right for the leadership of the Island. The Locke-less Monster was able to commune with the dead just like Hurley, and yet he made choices that kept him from being able to protect the Island, meaning that it was up to Jacob instead.

I really loved the explanation of the Sideways World.

The moment that Jack entered into the room in the church that was decorated with every religious symbol imaginable (far beyond Christianity) I realized that the Sideways world was the afterlife.

Not necessarily a purgatory, although it could certainly be viewed as such, but I think that it was a place that the LOSTies created together in order to make sure that they could reconnect in another world (brotha), so not everyone in that world was truly there, for instance, David Shephard isn't real, but part of the creation of this world. Locke says to Jack after being awoken, "You don't have a son, Jack."

So this world, the LA X reality, isn't purgatory insofar as that is the reality that everyone goes to before "moving on", but it is the place that the LOSTies created for themselves to be able to move on.

The ending itself was so very fitting, coming full circle. A plane crash that gave us an opening eye amidst bamboo, ended with a plane traveling away safely and an eye closing amidst bamboo. Such a perfect close to the series.

The many themes of this television show were highlighted in this finale as well. The matter of choice verse free will was played out so beautifully throughout the episode both on the Island and in the sideways reality. Jack made the choice to take on the role of Jacob and sacrifice himself to save the Island. Hurley offers Sayid a choice before he is awakened by Shannon. While so much of the show seemed to hinge on destiny or on things that were meant to be, ultimately, the show was about the characters making choices that proved Jacob's view of humanity correct.

The show has also always been about the connections that these characters had, connections that were so strong that they literally created a world, a reality, in order to reconnect before moving on to whatever is next. The love that these characters had for each other was so plain as they reconnected in the church, ready to move on.

I loved the moments throughout the finale when various characters were awakened, especially the reconnection of Jin and Sun and their ability to speak English, and the moment of Claire giving birth to Aaron, awakening herself, Charlie, and Kate. Knowing now what the sideways world is will probably give those moments (as well as the ones from previous episodes) even more heft upon rewatching.

Ultimately, this entire show is going to be amazing upon rewatch. I will post my thoughts on the events that catch my imagination as I begin my epic LOST-Re-Watch this summer.

Thank you all for your desire to read my thoughts on this show over the last few years, and I look forward to continuing the conversation as the episode continues to sink in with us.

And thank you to all who worked on this incredible and amazing show, thank you for giving us something that allows such deep viewing and for keeping us challenged as well as entertained.

It could not have ended more perfectly.

Josh Man

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LOST What They Died For, first thoughts

The Penultimate episode of LOST.

Sunday will bring us the finale of one of network television's greatest shows appropriately titled, The End.

The question, of course, is what The End will entail.

Last night's episode told us what the series has been about all along.

Jacob has been trying to atone for his mistake of creating the Smoke Monster, for what he did to his brother.

He's known that his brother would at some point succeed in killing him, the same way that Esau ultimately killed their "mother".

So it hasn't been about trying to prove to Esau that humanity is ultimately good (although I still think that Jacob does believe in the good of humanity) but trying to find the person to replace him when his brother ultimately succeeded.

Every person that Jacob has brought to the Island has been someone whose life is lacking. Jacob offered the LOSTies the second chance that he wanted himself.

Ultimately, one of the main themes is that of destiny verse free will. While much of what the LOSTies have been through have felt like it was destined, Jacob has done what he has done to try and better the lives of our LOSTies (as well as trying to make up for his mistake).

While it might have been easier to find someone who was perfectly ready and able to protect the Island, Jacob found damaged people that could be given the choice to protect the Island as well as try and better their situations. "You needed the Island as much as it needed you."

The title of the episode, What They Died For, refers to all of those that have lost their lives on the Island, implying that what is happening on the Island is truly important.

So, what do we make of the Sideways universe? After all, if there is importance in the deaths that our LOSTies have suffered, what does it mean that they are still alive in the other reality?

And is Desmond trying to do anything other than destroy the Island?

The Locke-less Monster plans on using Desmond for that very purpose, but I can't imagine that Desmond can be conned by Locke.

Speaking of cons, Ben is, of course, the best at cons (with the possible exception of Sawyer) and I don't for a moment believe that Ben is falling for Locke's plan.

Ben had reason to hate Widmore, especially coming right after Miles heard from Alex, so Ben shooting Widmore doesn't necessarily mean he is evil again, rather I think that Ben is playing Locke, and still working for our LOSTies.

Ultimately I think that Desmond is after more than just destroying the Island. He might be a fail safe, but he is also able to be more than that. I think that Desmond is setting up the only way to kill the Locke-less Monster and still keep the Island, and it's precious light, safe.

Until Next Time, I will see you Sunday night.

Josh Man

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LOST Across the Sea, first thoughts

Well, the mystery of Adam and Eve has been solved, and I think that all of us were probably thrown by the red herrings that the show had thrown our way regarding this issue, including earlier this season when Hugo brought up the popular theory that Adam and Eve would be two of the main characters on the show that have been with us since season one.

Instead, it is Jacob's "mother" and his twin brother, who apparently has no name, and I will continue to call Esau because of the fact that they are twins just like Jacob and Esau in the Bible.

Whereas the last episode showed that Esau isn't the hero for this show, since it placed him directly in opposition to our LOSTies, this episode gives us the motivation for why he is acting against our main characters, and, I felt anyway, made him much more sympathetic. However, I still feel that it is Jacob who had the best intentions for our characters, and that it is still Jacob's side that we should be on.

I think that we should be on Jacob's side even over and above the side of the Island.

With the woman who stole Jacob and Esau away from their mother (killing her in the process), we see many of the qualities that we have also seen in Ben, Widmore, and Esau himself. In fact, she makes the point to Esau himself. Esau asks if Jacob told her about the game and she answers that of course he did, Jacob isn't like Esau and herself, Jacob cannot lie.

We soon see another difference between Jacob and his brother and supposed mother. Jacob, for some reason, wants to see the good in people, to believe in their ability to be good, like he himself is. Neither Jacob's "mother", nor Esau, shares this optimistic view of humanity.

Jacob goes out of his way to bring people to the Island, ostensibly to prove to Esau that there is good in humanity, which actually endangers his job and responsibility as the protector of the Source (described by the "Mother" as being the source of "life, death, and rebirth" and that there is a little of it in each of us, making it perhaps the source of humanity itself). But by trying to get more of it (which is supposedly impossible despite our unstoppable desire to try anyway) the light can go out. "And if it goes out here... it goes out everywhere."

By actively bring humanity to the Island, Jacob is risking his job and really, risking life everywhere. It reminded me of the incident that caused the button to be pushed every 108 minutes, there is a risk to life everywhere and a job held by someone (not necessarily an envious job, perhaps one that is completely unappealing and with no reward whatsoever). Jacob, like Desmond towards the end of his time as the pusher of the button, is risking everything in order to satisfy some personal curiosity.

Does this make Jacob evil, or does this make human?

I want to say that it makes Jacob human, because I cannot characterize Jacob as evil. As innocent, yes. As, perhaps, the wrong person for the job, yes. But not as evil. So, it seems prudent to simply describe Jacob as human.

And yet, we cannot actually characterize Jacob as human, regardless of the fact that he began his life as a human. He lived his life separate from humanity, with beings different from normal humans, and has continued to live separate from humanity throughout his unnaturally long life.

We know that this wasn't the case for Esau, who it seems clear to me was the better choice for Island protector, and we can probably believe that this wasn't the case for the "mother" as well, and both of them have a very negative and pessimistic view of humanity.

So, is Jacob's view of humanity so positive and optimistic simply because he has not lived among humans. Would his view of humanity be different if he had lived among humanity?

It seems that LOST is making an argument for a view of a very Transcendental view of God. If we want to believe that God has a positive view of us as humanity, LOST seems to be saying, God must not be immanent, must not be an active part of human life. Although Jacob is still very active, at least in the lives of our LOSTies, I think we can safely say that he remains remote from the lives of humanity, while remaining active in humanity.

I definitely think that the "mother" felt that Esau was the better choice for guarding the Source and the Island. It seems that the Island would rather have someone like Esau or the "mother" not someone who is innocent and good like Jacob. It is Esau that the Island gave the gift of communing with the dead, and the secrets of the Island, allowing him to construct the Donkey wheel (or have others construct it for him after he goes all Smokey).

That makes me wonder what Jacob intends from his chosen candidates. Is he looking for someone like himself, different from his "mother" and the person she would have chosen to replace her if she could have, or is the Island looking to replace Jacob with someone of the type that will once again focus on the task at hand and not worry about the possible goodness of humanity?

Personally, I think that in becoming Jacob's replacement, Jacob's faith in humanity will finally be rewarded. Somehow, in replacing Jacob, and reconciling the two realities, the belief that Jacob has in the inherit goodness of humanity will be proven.

How that will happen, I have no idea, but we are under 3 and a half hours away from finding out.

Until next time, thanks for the patience that most of you showed in waiting for this post. Being in class from 9-5 every day this week takes away from the free time a little bit. Next week, the post should be on time! See you then!

Josh Man

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LOST The Candidate, first thoughts

Happy Star Wars Day!

As I'm sure that you're aware, Star Wars is a major influence on LOST, including tons of references throughout the series (Some Like it Hoth for instance).

Since it is May the Fourth (be with you), I'll sprinkle some Star Wars references throughout the post...


I'm starting to think that Desmond isn't attempting to wake the LOSTies up to the original timeline as I originally thought. Like Esau was attempting to do on the Island, I think Desmond in the LA X timeline is attempting to get everyone together. That is what he accomplished with running over Locke in the car. As a bonus, he also opened Jack's eyes (whoa, flash back to the opening shot of the series, creepy) to the weird interconnectedness of Flight 815. Had Jack just met Locke on the plane and then operated on him, not a huge coincidence, but meeting Locke and having to operate on him led him to Bernard who was also on the plane. Then he discovers the sister, that he didn't even know he had.... (at least they never kissed, even for luck), was also on that plane. Jack is suddenly much more willing to listen to something crazy, which I'm sure he will hear when he meets Desmond, than he would have been otherwise, whether he has been woken up to the other reality or not.

And as we all know, it is hard to see other realities, it is like looking into the future. "Difficult to see. Always in motion the future is."

So I don't think that it is as important that the LA X timeline LOSTies are fully awakened to the other reality. It is more important that they are together and awakened to the connections that they share.

Speaking of Jack, it was a great moment when he released his friends from the cage, although it would have been awesome if Kate had said, "Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper?"


Anthony Cooper.

Whereas in the original timeline it is Anthony Cooper that causes Locke to be paralyzed, in the LA X timeline, it is Locke's fault and his father is brain dead because of it.

I really think Locke will play an important role in finishing off whatever needs to happen in the LA X timeline and save everyone in the Island timeline.

The understanding of who Anthony Cooper was and what he did to him in the original timeline will probably give Locke the courage he needs to allow Jack to help him. Or for Locke to help Jack do whatever Desmond needs him to do.

Despite the fact that Locke and his father appear to have a healthier relationship in the LA X timeline, remember that Sawyer is still looking for the man who caused his father to kill his mother and himself and as in the original timeline, that person was Anthony Cooper.


Jin and Sun stole the show with their emotional Island ending. I knew that there was no way that Jin would leave Sun again, and I am completely okay with how their story ended on Island, and anyway, we saw Jin taking Sun flowers in the Sideways timeline, so we haven't seen the end of them yet, I suppose.

I knew, however, that when the show reunited them before the finale, that we were going to be losing them soon. Wish I wasn't right, but damn, the show did their death well. Very emotional.


All those that wanted to argue against Jacob being the good guy and the Locke-less Monster being the bad guy, I will now accept the admission that you were wrong. Esau couldn't kill them himself, it would have been against the rules, but like he did with Jacob, he could manipulate others into doing his dirty work for him, in this case, the LOSTies themselves.

However, Sayid sacrificed himself to save the others...


So, apparently there is hope for Creepy Claire yet, since Sayid had his Vader redemption moment (Luke: I've got to save you! Anakin: You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister, you were right.) I'm sure that Jack will realize that this means he can tell his sister and save her as well.


The show was entitled The Candidate, and I think that it is now pretty clear that Jack is the one that is meant to take Jacob's place. At least it seems that that is what Desmond told Sayid, which led Sayid to this redemptive situation. And I think that Desmond somehow is aware of exactly what is going on and what needs to be done to fix the situation created when Esau killed Jacob.

Of course, when the above bold quote was told to Yoda, Yoda replied "No. There is another." So, I suppose there could still be a twist to come there.

Until Next Time, you can tell we're getting to the end with the very emotional deaths of Jin and Sun and Sayid. I think that somehow Frank is going to make it to shore safely. After all, if Jack decides to stay and become the new Jacob, everyone else who survives the next few weeks will be able to fly away safely, and they'll need a pilot to get them there. The Island isn't done with you yet, Frank Lapidus. The Force is strong with this one. May the 4th be with you... always...

Josh Man

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LOST The Last Recruit, first thoughts

We'll start with the title, which I think refers to the last moments of the episode, and it just seems LOSTian to start at the end, especially in an episode with so much going on, which I have to guess is how the rest of the season will be from here on out, so I hope you can handle the suspense...

(that's a shout out to you, Emily!)

My friend Justin has said for weeks that he believed the title referred to Locke trying to get the last possible recruit (Jin), and it seemed like a fine theory especially when last week all of the other recruits found their way to the Locke-less Monster.

But it turns out that the last recruit seems to refer to the only one that is still with the Man in Black. Jack is the last recruit.

Jack is the only one that doesn't want to leave the Island, and therefore is probably the one currently best suited to replace Jacob. He and (pseudo)Locke seem to have switched spots, no longer is Jack the Man of Science, he is the Man of Faith and vice versa.

And Jack was so awesome when he jumped off of Sawyer's boat. It has been years since I felt good about Jack as a character, but I loved him in that moment.

So, did you believe Locke when he said that he pretended to be Christian? Because I didn't. Like Sayid and Claire, Christian's body was gone. Locke's body was not gone. I don't think that Locke was Christian. Of course I could be wrong, but it felt like a lie to me.

Speaking about Esau's lies, he offered Sayid Nadia back which is impossible, but Nadia is still alive in the alternate timeline, so if Locke is offering that life, Sayid probably doesn't want that life. What Esau offers are lies.

I still wonder what is going on with Sayid, Claire, and possibly Christian... It struck me as strange that Jack didn't try to bring Claire along on Sawyer's boat. I guess he truly believed Dogen when he tried to tell Jack about the darkness.

I also am surprised that Claire didn't wake up in the alternate timeline, since she had an encounter with Desmond. But he did put her in contact with Jack. Is it possible that whatever Christian left her in the will is going to make her aware of the real reality?

Things in the LA X reality certainly seem to be collapsing quickly. Is there any question that Sawyer and Miles will be the ones that question both Sun and Jin about Sayid's role in the murders and Ben about the hit and run? Plus Locke is now with Jack and Sun is just down the hall.

Justin also theorized that Jack would have to choose on who to save between Sun and Locke, but this actually makes more sense. Locke's injury is spinal related, Sun's was not, it was however baby related, which makes me think that a different doctor we know might have been involved. Perhaps Juliet, who Sawyer can meet when questioning Sun and Jin. Another fun guess... Juliet is also David Shephard's mother and Jack's ex-wife in the LA X timeline.

Speaking of Sun and Jin, I was really not expecting them to be united with four episodes left. I really thought it would be in the finale. I have a bad feeling about their being reunited so early, I'm worried one of them won't survive.

I hope I'm wrong.

Until Next Time, pretty sure that Desmond is still alive, and I hate worrying about Sawyer and his crew until next week. On the plus side, I can watch it live next week and through the finale!

Josh Man

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LOST Everyone Loves Hugo, first thoughts

Really only a few of things I feel like we have to talk about this week.

Don't get me wrong, a lot took place in the episode, there was a lot going on, but I feel like there are only a few things that really stand out as taking some time to look at.

First off...


It was so, so, so great to see Libby again.

Something that I found interesting was that while Charlie required a near death experience, Desmond had the deja vu moment underwater and the touch of his constant (as well as having his original timeline self blasted with electromagnatism), but Libby seems to have recognized the truth based on just a commercial.

It makes you wonder.

It was her realization of another timeline that caused her to put herself into Santa Rosa in the LA X timeline, what do you think caused her to be there in the original timeline? Did she have a similar experience in the original timeline? Was she aware of something that made her seem crazy? Does she have some sort of natural ability to pierce through to other realities, making it easier for her to connect herself to the Island timeline?

It would make sense, and be an awesome answer to the question of why she was in the mental institution in the original timeline.

Speaking of answers, what did you think of the answer for the whispers?

I kind of like it, the souls that are unable to escape the Island, those that die on the Island still burdened with the guilt of their actions are unable to leave the Island even in death. Redemption is definitely a main theme of the show and perhaps the redemption of those who died unable to find it is still possible. I certainly find the possibility intriguing.

The question I still have is why the whispers seem to focus on the Others. Perhaps because the Others have been on the Island the longest, the spirits that make up the whispers are most closely connected to them.

The other main thing that I wanted to discuss was the fate of Ilana (you got a little Ilana on you), not so much the way she died, which was very reminiscent to the death of Artz, but what Ben said afterwords. The Island no longer needed her.

I can't help but admit that there is a possibility that we have been deceived all along and Jacob isn't the good guy. It definitely doesn't seem fair that Ilana did so much for Jacob, gathered most of the candidates together, then blew up like a minor character from season one.

I'm honestly not sure what to make of Ilana's death.

I would like to point out the similarity not only to Artz's death, but also to Frogurt's death, he of the flaming arrow end. It was in the midst of indecision and argument and it was followed immediately by action.

In this case, the action of Hurley to destroy the rest of the dynamite.

I'm not sure that Hurley is doing the right thing, but I definitely enjoy him taking a leadership role. I think that leadership fits him nicely.

The final point I want to make is the interesting dichotomy of Island Locke throwing Island Desmond down a hole matched with LA X Desmond hitting LA X Locke with a car.

Is it petty revenge for Desmond (assuming as I do that he is aware of what is happening on the Island as well as what is happening in the sideways timeline) or is it a necessary action in order to wake Locke up?

How does Desmond know what will wake up the LOSTies? How did he know that Hurley just needed to kiss Libby whereas Locke apparently needed to get hit by a car? Guess we'll have to keep watching in order to find out.

Desmond off Island seems to have a lot of Jacob like qualities though, doesn't he? It is very much like Jacob's bit going around to each of the LOSTies in last season's finale.

Just wanted to point that out.

Until Next Time, things are clearly leading to an end. I'm trying not to think too much about that fact.

Josh Man

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LOST Happily Ever After, first thoughts

After watching this phenomenal episode, only one sentence comes into my head.

Only one thing that I want to shout about in exultation, one thing that I want to say excitedly to my friends in the know about this phenomenal show...

I want to go up to people, look them in the eye, and smile when I say...

Desmond knows! Desmond knows everything! In both realities!

Of course, did you really expect anything else?

Faraday sets him up to learn what he needs to know. Daniel puts in motion (after seeing Charlotte) the events that will lead his Constant back to him ("If anything goes wrong, Desmond is your constant") and then sends Desmond to his Constant, Penny, setting up the first true connection between the realities, between the Sideways Dimension aka the LA X Dimension and the Original timeline on the Island.

Sure, Daniel knows that they shouldn't be where they are that something he did forced this change, and Charlie knows that there is another reality, a woman he loved (Claire) that he has memories of and that makes this reality where his dream of rock stardom is realized completely pointless.

And really, that's the point for everyone. This reality seems to offer them what they want, but truly, what people want and what people need are rarely the same thing.

I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post this season, speaking about Jacob and Esau/The Man in Black, Esau offers whatever he thinks the person that he is speaking to wants, regardless of whether it is good for the person or not, regardless of whether it will ultimately be harmful for the person or not, all that matters for Esau is that Esau gets what he wants and needs, and the other persons well being doesn't really seem to be that important at all.

Jacob, on the other hand, seems to want what is best for people. I know there are some people out there who have been under the belief that Jacob isn't really the good guy, but I think that what we've been told regarding Jacob and Esau is true, and so I think that my theory from a couple of weeks ago is true as well...

The LA X Timeline is Hell, not as in the stereotypical flames and eternal punishment sense, but in the way that Jacob described it to Richard a couple of weeks ago, "There are many other names for it, too. Malevolence. Evil. Darkness." It is the sin of being given what you want instead of working towards what you need. So far in the Sideways Universe, we know that Faraday, Charlie, and now Desmond are aware of what they are supposed to have (what they worked for in the original timeline) and are working towards it again.

But it brings up a bit of a question... In Dr. Linus, Ben worked towards redemption on the Island, finally facing the mistakes he has made, the poor decisions he has made because of his thirst for power. In the sideways universe, he made a different decision, didn't sacrifice Alex for power, so the question is, did that occur because it was what he wanted, what he wished he could have done and so he achieved it in the LA X timeline without sacrificing for it, without truly learning what he needed to be able to take that step like he did in the Island timeline, or was he able to make that choice in the Sideways Universe because of what he had learned in the Island universe? That's one of the few questions I still have after this episode.

I think that it is clear now that the LA X Timeline is a timeline where Smokey is out in the world and that it is a bad thing and a reality that needs to not exist, but it is in this sideways world that we get Ben's redemption, Ben's making the right choice instead of a choice for power, and it is in this sideways world that we get a Jack that is finally able to overcome his daddy issues and become a great dad himself.

This brings me to a bit of theorizing. It will be necessary for some sacrifices to be made to bring to a close the LA X timeline, Widmore said as much tonight, and I think that it will be Jack and Ben who have to make the hardest sacrifices.

Another question is Eloise.

She clearly knows what is going on (she always has), did she somehow manipulate Faraday into his Jughead plan in order to break herself and her son out of the cycle they had been trapped in, mother killing son. finding out it was her son, then being forced to set into motion the actions that would send her son back in time so that she would kill him. This would, of course, be full of irony, something that LOST loves, considering she told Desmond in Flashes Before Your Eyes that he couldn't change things, even if he wanted to, because it was his destiny to push that button, it was his destiny to be on the Island. Now that she's found a way to change her destiny, change the fact that she killed her son unknowingly then knowingly sent him on a crash course with the Island to be killed by her in the past, she is trying to keep that past changed, regardless of what that might mean. (And according to Jacob it means malevolence, evil, darkness, in short "Hell") What LOST has done is turn Widmore into one of the good guys and Eloise into one of the bad guys, and yet it is completely believable and makes perfect and total sense. That is why I love this show.

So, as to what is going on overall, it seems to me that with the death of Jacob and the explosion of Jughead (and I think now that both were necessary to create the LA X timeline), this possible reality of Esau's fashioning has been created. Currently it exists in concert with the Island timeline, but ultimately only one of them can survive (back to Donnie Darko). If Locke-less Monster is able to succeed and get all of the candidates to attempt to leave the Island with him and escape his prison, then the LA X timeline becomes reality and the Island sinks under the ocean and the Island timeline ceases to exist. Therefore, in order to make the candidates want to escape, Esau is promising them what they want (but not what they need).

So Desmond's task is to show the LOSTies the reality that they were supposed to live, show them that what they need, that which the Island provided them, is better than what they think they want, so that when Esau tempts them with the LA X reality, they will be able to turn it down with the knowledge that it really is too good to be true.

And that brings me to the title of the episode tonight, Happily Ever After.

What Esau promises is "Happily Ever After", except we know that that saying is related to fairy tales, fantasy, and ultimately, that is what Esau is really offering, a fairy tale, a fantasy. There is no such thing as an easy fix, no such thing as a blanket Happily Ever After. Any redemption earned by our LOSTies has been earned the hard way, and therefore has been truly rewarding, not fleeting as so many quick fixes often are.

I'm reminded of the ending of The Graduate. One of my favorite movies of all time. With the fairy tale ending of Dustin Hoffman's character running into the wedding of the woman he loves, stopping her from marrying the man she's about to marry, and they run out together, breathless with laughter, getting on a bus to start their happily ever after, and that is where a fairy tale would end, but The Graduate keeps the camera on the two of them. Slowly, the implications of what they've done dawns on them. Their faces grow more and more somber as they try and decide what comes next for them in their strange and disturbing relationship. It is a powerful ending and completely destroys the image of happily ever after that they so strongly felt just moments before.

LOST has always been about a number of interesting topics, one of the main ones being the idea of destiny verses free will, and while it seems that there is a lot of destiny for these characters, the connections that they have to each other throughout time and alternate dimensions, seem to make you believe they don't have much choice in the matter, but ultimately I think that the characters do have free will, and while they have been manipulated into place (by Jacob, Esau, Widmore, Hawking, Richard, Ben, and many others, no pun intended) ultimately they have been put in place to exercise their free will, exercise their ability to choose. Their ability to choose the hard road, which doesn't always seem as rewarding, but which strengthens who they are and ultimately makes them better people and arguably the world a better place, and the easy road where they seemingly will have whatever they think they want, but will have lost (again, no pun intended) all that makes them who they are, all that they have accomplished over the past five years, all that they have learned about themselves and each other.

And that is what I believe the show boils down to. And I love it.

Until Next Time, I'm glad tonight's episode was the game changer that we anticipated, we finally seem to have direction for the end of the show. Should be a hell of a ride.

Josh Man

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LOST The Package, first thoughts

Only 6 episodes left. Can you believe it? I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when this show is over. It has been an awesome ride, and I really don't want it to end, but I suppose I had better start preparing myself.

Anyway, on to last night's episode...

Although it wasn't a surprise, as I was pretty certain ever since we saw that locked room two episodes ago, it is always nice to see familiar faces again.

The reveal of an injured and drugged Desmond brought up an interesting dichotomy. If we decide that the Man in Black/Smokey/Locke-less Monster is the bad guy (and a lot of people are not too sure of that, thinking that perhaps Jacob is actually the bad guy, I disagree, but admit it is a possibility), than Widmore wants the same thing that we do... Locke left on the Island.

I find it hard to root for Widmore, especially when he drugged my favorite LOSTie and brought him back to the Island that he swore he would never come to again. It definitely makes me wonder if Penny knows where her husband has gone.

But I did love that he gave Jin the camera with the pictures of Sun and Ji Yeon, although I have no doubt that there was ulterior motive to being that "generous" to Jin.

We talked a couple of weeks ago about the theory making the rounds that the Flash Sideways were an epilogue world where our LOSTies would live happily ever after after finishing whatever they were supposed to do on the Island. I have always thought that that theory was bull, and I hope that after this episode it finally goes away. It certainly has to at least lose some traction considering that Sun is shot in the abdomen where she is carrying Sideways Ji Yeon. Doesn't seem like an epilogue Jin and Sun would hope for.

Some things that were interesting in the Sideways world where the fact that Krazy Keamy is apparently as hard to kill in the Sideways timeline as he is on the Island, and it wouldn't surprise me if Mikhail isn't dead either, took him forever to die on the Island to. You know, I totally didn't recognize him until Jin shot his eye out (You'll shoot your eye out, You'll shoot your eye out!), then I was all, "Mikhail!"

Over on the main Island, Sayid reveals he feels absolutely nothing, and Locke-less Monster doesn't seem all that surprised. Just something to keep an eye on as we learn more about the dead inhabited by darkness.

Also, we learn from the Locke-less Monster that he can only escape the Island if all of the candidates go with him, so any thoughts that Richard and Ilana have about destroying planes and subs aren't necessary, they just need one of the candidates to remain.

My theory, that candidate will be Jack, who stays along with Kate, and as I have said since we met them in season 1, they will become the Adam and Eve skeletons.

Until Next Time, Looks like next week might be Desmond centric, which should be outstanding!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LOST Ab Aerterno, first thoughts

Looks like my thoughts from last week gained some traction this week.

We'll start there after this epic, epic episode.

Perhaps Jughead does play a role in the split, but I maintain that the split doesn't happen unless Jacob is dead. Remember, Jughead didn't go off until after Jacob was killed.

Jacob tells Richard that the Island is a cork keeping evil inside. When Jacob gives the bottle to Esau/The Man in Black, Esau doesn't remove the cork to free the wine that represents himself (and interesting that wine is used to represent him, considering that wine in Christianity represents the blood of Christ), but instead breaks the bottle. Making Jacob the bottle in this analogy.

The Island is the cork, but Jacob is the bottle, and Esau frees himself by destroying the bottle, by killing Jacob.

The implications of this is rather huge.

At the end of the episode, Hurley tells Richard that his wife said one more thing. "You have to stop the Man in Black. Stop him from leaving the Island. Cause if you don't... We all go to Hell."

My friend Kristen tweeted a few things during the episode that I found interesting, especially since I was in class and had no idea what she was referencing. Well, I felt pretty good about the last thing she tweeted as the show was ending and as I was on my way home to watch it...


But what interested me was this tweet...

"I'm gonna be REALLY ticked off if #LOST is going where it seems to be going...."

As soon as the episode ended, I called her to see if what I assumed she meant from that tweet (not knowing exactly where it occurred within the episode) was what she meant from that tweet.

It was.

She sent it after Esau told Richard that they were in Hell and that he was dead, confirming what Richard believed he had been told by his deceased wife.

Of course, the episode continued, presumably moving on from this explanation (which at this point would seem unfair), and Kristen would be able to send her OMGOMG tweet.

Now, here's the thing.

I think that this explanation is actually a true one.

I think that the show with this line actually gave us an answer.


Just not for the Island.

I think that the answer provided is for the LA X Timeline, for the Flash Sideways world.

If LA X is of a world without Jacob, a world where the cork is at the bottom of the ocean, then it is a world where the evil has escaped into the real world. It is, as Hurley described it, Hell.

So, while many people have been theorizing that Sideways World, LA X Timeline, is an epilogue post-Island, I now say to them that I believe it is the exact opposite. It is Hell, that which our LOSTies must try to avoid, try to keep from becoming the true reality. That is what the show is now about, keeping the cork in the bottle, keeping the monster trapped on the Island.


There is more to get to from this episode.

We got some answers,specifically how and why Richard was brought to the Island, how the Statue was destroyed, and how the Black Rock got to the middle of the Island (which by the way was waaaaaay simpler than I think anyone theorized, and while some people might be disappointed by that, I think it is pretty funny, good job LOST).

There was some interesting Smokey stuff in this episode as well, and even though we know a whole hell of a lot more about Ol' Smokey than we did prior to this season, it seems to me that Darlton are holding to their promise that we will learn something new each and every time Smokey makes an appearance. I now think that it is safe to say that dead people appearing to their loved ones on the Island when they aren't really on the Island are definitively courtesy of Smokey.

When Smokey does his whole Photography Flash thing, he is somehow getting into the mind of the person he's flashing so that he is able to project back to them someone from their past.

I will reference Eko and Smokey presenting him with his brother Yemi after Eko confronted the Smoke Monster earlier without getting killed.

Pretty much the exact same thing happens in this episode to Richard.

There are more similarities as well. Eko felt guilt for Yemi's death, Richard felt guilt for Isabella's. I think that that is important for a few reasons.

One, the show is clearly on some level about redemption. I don't think anyone would argue that redemption is not an important theme in the show.

Jacob and Richard have a talk about redemption. When Richard is offered the job, Jacob asks what he wants, he says he wants his wife back, Jacob says he can't do that, then he asks if he can be forgiven of his sins so that when he dies he doesn't go to hell, Jacob says he can't do that either.

But just before this part of the conversation, Jacob has something else to say about redemption. He says that he brings people here because Esau "believes that everyone is corruptible because it is in their very nature to sin. I bring people here to prove him wrong. And when I bring them here... their past doesn't matter."

Although Richard doesn't hear it, Jacob is saying that regardless of what sin occurs, or has occurred in the past, he believes that people are capable and ready to do what is right, "to help themselves, to know the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them". Why should Jacob have to step in? In other words, Jacob is saying that he has given humanity the access to free will, in order for them to prove Esau wrong, he believes that they should do it without his interference.

Later, of course, we see Jacob taking a slightly different path. He still is big on free will, but he definitely does some stepping in.

However, he never does so with coercive power.

I'm not sure how many of my readers are familiar with Alfred North Whitehead and Process Theology, and it might just be because we spent a majority of my Kazantzakis class tonight discussing Whitehead and Process Thought, but it seems to me that Jacob is definitely in the mold of the Process view of God. There is also a lot of other stuff going on, including a very Dualistic thing happening, that whole Good and Evil aspect which doesn't really fit with Process Theology or most modern Christian theology at all, but as for the core of who Jacob is and how he acts, I think that Process Theology might have some interesting things to say.

Process thought in a nutshell is responding to and arguing against the idea of God as the Unmoved Mover, the idea put forth famously by Aristotle, the idea that God causes motion and change, but is unmoved and unchanged by anything.

In Process thought, God is very present with us, God changes with us, God is active with us.

However, God is not the omnipotent God of classical theism. Alfred North Whitehead says in his book Process and Reality that God does not have coercive power, but instead has persuasive power.

Whitehead explains the issue of our understanding of God’s power as being related to the power of Caesar. “When the Western world accepted Christianity, Caesar conquered; and the received text of Western theology was edited by his lawyers.” Whitehead argues, “The Church gave unto God the attributes which belonged exclusively to Caesar.” Because Caesar’s unlimited power was of a coercive nature, the belief became that God’s power must also be coercive, and unlimitedly so. However, Whitehead argues that this is incongruent with God. Instead, God's power is persuasive.

So, we've seen Jacob change, like the God of Process thought, and we've seen Jacob persuade those he has chosen as opposed to forcing them to follow through with his plans, and he has repeatedly talked about his belief in the free will of those that he has chosen.

What I guess I'm saying is that I am now fully on board with Jacob being the God-type character of the show. What his having been killed says about that... well, in this post I've already quoted Whitehead, I suppose we'll leave Nietzsche for another time.

What is interesting, however, is how Richard falls into this. Jacob and Richard in their talk discuss how Jacob doesn't want to step in to which Richard replies that Esau therefore will. Jacob asks Richard to do that for him, be his representative to Jacob's chosen people. If Jacob in this scenario is God, does that make Richard the Jesus-type?

I certainly think that that argument can be made.

After all, Jacob literally baptizes Richard just before this discussion, he says that he is unable to redeem people of their sins perhaps intimating that Richard will be able to do that in Jacob's place, and then he gifts Jacob with everlasting life.

Seems like a fit to me.

I don't think that LOST is strictly, however, a Christian show. I think that there are a lot of Christian themes throughout the show, but there are also a lot of Hindu, Buddhist, and classic mythic themes being played out as well (including a lot of the Egyptian myth, such as the statue, the hieroglyphics, and Richard's home, the Canary Islands, named after the original inhabitants who worshiped dogs and mummified them, something that has distinct ties to the Egyptian god with a dog's head, Anubis, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, who was replaced by Osiris, and if power struggles between leaders of a place that is often tied to the afterlife isn't LOSTian, I don't know what is). The point is that there is a lot more than just Christian themes going on here, so I don't think that we can take the Jacob is God and Richard is Jesus comparison too far, but I definitely think that the show wants to make the case that those archetypes work for Jacob and Richard at least to some extent.

Another thing that really struck me about this episode is the fact that it greatly resembles the Darren Aronofsky film The Fountain. You probably know Darren Aronofsky from the films The Wrestler or Requiem for a Dream or maybe even Pi (which also has a lot of themes in common with LOST), but chances are good you haven't seen or even heard of The Fountain which is a shame, because it is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Without giving too much away, The Fountain is about a character named Thomas (played by Hugh Jackman) and his wife Isabel (yes, Isabel, played in the movie by Rachel Weisz who bears a bit of a resemblance to Mirelle Taylor who plays Isabella in this episode). In the movie, the two characters are together in three distinct time periods, the year 1500, the year 2000, and the year 2500. In 1500, the characters are (like Richard and Isabella) in Spain. In the year 2000, Isabel is dying and Thomas is trying with all his might to cure her (like Richard and Isabella). And in 2500, Thomas is attempting to reunite himself with Isabel and has found a way to have everlasting life (like Richard, still searching for Isabella). It is too big a coincidence to ignore, so I will share with you the themes of the film and let you make of that what you will.

The idea of the movie is that death is an important part of life. That ultimately it is death that makes us as humans special. Jackman said of the movie, "The moment Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge, of good and evil, humans started to experience life as we all experience it now, which is life and death, poor and wealthy, pain and pleasure, good and evil. We live in a world of duality. Husband, wife, we relate everything. And much of our lives are spent not wanting to die, be poor, experience pain. It's what the movie's about." The same could be argued about LOST.

Aronofsky says of the film, "If [Adam and Eve] had drank from the tree of life [instead of the tree of knowledge] what would have separated them from their maker? So what makes us human is actually death. It's what makes us special."

Pretty interesting stuff when you compare it LOST. And anyway, it is a fantastic film and very worth seeing if you haven't seen it before.

One last point that I'd like to make, although you probably noticed it yourself, when Esau sent Richard to kill Jacob, he did so with the exact words and actions that Dogen used when he sent Sayid to kill Esau. Interesting.

Until Next Time, thanks for sticking with me through this massive post. I wonder what we're all going to do when LOST ends? Probably better not to think about it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Top Ten Films of 2009

Of course, this year, the Oscars themselves made a Top Ten list, as this year, there were 10 Best Picture nominees instead of the usual five (Thank you Batman).

Since the Oscars usually only name five best picture nominees, and therefore my list doubles that amount, this year I might go ahead and give you a Top Twenty.

If they can double their faves, I suppose that I can also.

If I wrote a review for the film, it is linked through the title!

So, here you go...


20.  The Hurt Locker

This movie won best picture, but it finds itself on my list at number 20.

Sure, I enjoyed it, and Jeremy Renner is masterful, but I don't really think it was worthy of being named Best Picture, and probably didn't deserve to be nominated.  For the most part, the movie is amazing, and everything you would want out of a best picture winner, but there is an entire section of the film that bothers me.  Renner's character goes off of the base to avenge the death of a local kid he believes that he knew.  It turns the film into something different, something that this movie wasn't really about; it almost completely derails the feel that the film had spent so long building up.  I suppose it was meant to give you a little more insight into Renner's character, but it actually made me like him less.  Everything else he does in the film makes me sympathize with him in the way that the movie wanted me too, but that portion did just the opposite.  It didn't fit, and moved this film all the way down to number 20 on my list.

So, hopefully that'll teach 'em.

19. District 9

Another movie that I really did enjoy, but that didn't quite win me totally over as it wasn't quite sure what type of film that it wanted to be.

It starts out as a very smart sci-fi film that has some interesting things to say on how we treat each other, and it becomes an exciting shoot-em-up action flick.  The mock-umentary feel at the beginning of the film and the more basic action flick in the second half don't really fit together in my opinion, and detracts from what is otherwise a very good film.  Seeing as this was the first film from the director, perhaps some of the pacing issues and uneven feel of the film can be forgiven.  However, since there is another first time director on this very list much, much higher, we can't cut Mr.Blomkamp too much slack.  Instead, he will have to be satisfied with number 19 on my Top 20.

18. The Blind Side

Without question a great feel good story.  Even the freaking previews get me choked up.  As did the first time that I heard Michael Oher's story as he was being drafted. The film does a great job telling that story, and as much as I am not a huge fan of Sandra Bullock, she is fantastic as the woman who went out of her way for a young man who really needed someone to believe in him.

17. The Hangover

An outstanding comedy that doesn't pull any punches.  Bradley Cooper is amazing, but then, I've known that from way back.  I loved him as Will Tippen on Alias.  Zach Galifianakis steals every scene that he is in.  This film is highly quotable, which is part of what makes a great comedy.  You can't help but laugh again when you are talking with your friends about it long after the movie has ended.

16. (500) Days of Summer

I've had a bit of a thing for Zooey Deschanel for quite some time.  She really blew me away in the recent Sci-Fi channel miniseries Tin-Man, an update of The Wizard of Oz.  So it is no surprise that she is so easy to fall in love with in this movie.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great as well in this unconventional love story told out of order after it has already ended.

15. Julie & Julia

Any movie that is about a person who found fame blogging already has a head start in winning me over.  The strange story of a woman who cooked her way through Julia Child's cookbook coupled with the story of how the cookbook came to be published is a fun and intriguing way to intertwine two stories that aren't as unconnected as they might at first seem.  Amy Adams is clearly an actress to keep an eye on as she continues to perform very well in interesting roles, and, of course, Meryl Streep is, as always, amazing.

14. Fantastic Mr. Fox

I might not have thought to combine the story telling visuals of Wes Anderson with the dark yet whimsical tales of children's author Roald Dahl, but after seeing this movie, let me assure you, they fit together perfectly.  The film is without question a Wes Anderson film, and as true to his sensibilities as Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, but it is also quite true to Roald Dahl, and as true to his sensibilities as any reading you have ever done of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  It is a perfect marriage.  Also the music is unbelievable.  It is worth seeing the movie for the soundtrack alone!

13. Fanboys

There was actually quite a while where I thought that I might have to put this movie first on any best of list that I did.  I absolutely loved it and felt that it was made with me in mind.  It is a story that is unabashed in its love for Star Wars, uncompromising in its comedy, and unashamedly emotional as well.  I don't want to give away too much, but suffice it to say that if you grew up loving the original Star Wars films, you will love this movie too.

12. A Serious Man

A bit different from the usual Coen Brother fare (if you can call anything that these eclectic filmmakers do usual).  A Serious Man is the Coen Brothers modern day take on the book of Job and the theology contained therein.  This is not a happy movie, but then, life itself is often not so happy go lucky either, and any contemplation on the injustices of being unfairly targeted to the point to where it seems even God must be against you despite your assurances that you have always been a faithful (or serious in Jewish parlance) man is worth digesting.  When it is contemplated by Joel and Ethan Coen, you quite simply can't go wrong.

11.  Funny People

Another film that spent quite a lot of time in my top spot, Judd Apatow abandoned his usual comedy for a dramatic piece about life and the lengths we go to to avoid facing its realities.  I think that had this film been marketed for the drama that it was instead of the comedic piece that it was advertised as, it would have gotten some series Oscar buzz.  Adam Sandler gives what I believe is his absolutely best performance.  Seth Rogen also impressed me greatly with his performance.  It is a sign of what a great year 2009 has been for film that a movie that spent a long time as my number one movie of the year ends it at number 11.

10. Zombieland

Stylistically, this movie is perfect.  Told from the perspective of the least likely Zombie apocalypse survivor ever, Zombieland succeeds as a hilarious comedy as well as a fun zombie romp (much like Shawn of the Dead, I wonder what it is that makes Zombie movies work so well in satirical films?).  Woody Harrelson reminds me why I like him so much, as he steals every second of the movie that he is in.  Abigail Breslin proves that she will have a career beyond just being that cute little girl from Little Miss Sunshine, and Emma Stone joins Amy Adams as actresses to keep a serious eye on.  Both character driven and zombie-filled, Zombieland was way better than it probably had any right to be.  It also has the best comedic cameo of all time.

9. Sherlock Holmes

Though Guy Ritchie has been slacking some from the promise that he showed early with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, he does an excellent job bringing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's incredible creation to life on the big screen.  The story feels like a Sherlock Holmes story, Robert Downey Jr. continues his unbelievable hot streak of bringing iconic characters to life, and Ritchie 's somewhat frenetic pace is kept enough in check to fit the film perfectly.  I, for one, can't wait for the next installment from Baker's Street.

8. Up

A movie that I have seen numerous times, and that I love more each and every time that I watch it.  The almost silent-film-esque opening is worth the price of admission by itself.  A story that is so incredibly emotional and yet at the same time filled with such a child-like sense of wonder, it is amazing to me sometimes when most movies are just cookie cutter retellings of old stories that something so original can still be made.  It helps when you are PIXAR and have never made a bad movie.  You get a little bit more leeway to be original when you can't do any wrong.  That trend certainly didn't stop here.

7. Star Trek

A movie that filled me with trepidation all the way up until the moment that I saw it.  Other than a few moments that were a little more cheesy than I would have liked (such as Kirk's puffed up hands), this movie was completely true to Star Trek.  It doesn't lesson my desire for a new Star Trek series on TV following the TNG, DS9, Voyager timeline, but I also can't wait for the next film in this universe with this cast.  I'm sold and ready to Boldly Go once again.

6. Watchmen

While many considered the graphic novel to be unfilmable, Zach Snyder actually did an amazing job in capturing everything that the comic was about in a way that applies to our more modern sensibilities and in relation to the current craze in making comic book movies.  It so easily could have gone wrong in so many ways, and yet I have a love for the film that might outstrip the love that I have for the graphic novel on which it was based.  Rarely can you even begin to think that the movie is better than the book, but this film certainly has a  case to make, although you can't take away anything from the book since each and every scene is lovingly recreated from the template that is Alan Moore's masterpiece.

5. Coraline

Each year, I notice some trend in the really great movies of the year, and this year it might have to be adaptations.  Literary works are notoriously hard to translate well to the screen, and yet so many have been successfully made this year.  Dahl's work is put perfectly to screen by Wes Anderson, Doyle's troubled genius gets a fantastic reboot thanks to Downey and Ritchie, Alan Moore's "unfilmable" book becomes a breathtaking movie thanks to Zach Snyder, and now, Neil Gaiman's work is once again brought to spectacular life (the last time was two years ago with the very underrated Stardust), this time by Henry Selick and the stop motion animation that he perfected with A Nightmare Before Christmas.  Coraline is a hauntingly beautiful story that is full of thrills, chills, and just the right amount of emotion.

4. Where the Wild Things Are

Continuing the amazing adaptation theme, a short picture book is an unlikely source to turn into a fully engaging feature film, and yet Spike Jonze (director of Being John Malcovich) and Dave Eggers (best known for his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) do just that with this film.  The performances are unbelievable, the Wild Things are brought to perfect life, and the work of Max Records as Max is unbelievable.  It is literally one of the best acting performances that I've ever seen.  The movie itself is not what I would call a kid's movie, but rather a movie that is exactly about what it is to be a kid, and that can be a scary thing.  But also hauntingly beautiful when it is survived.

3. The Road

I haven't read the Cormac McCarthy novel that the movie is based on, but the movie blew me away.  Incredible cinematography that really captures the mood right off the bat, performances that are so very raw and intense, and a story that cuts right to the bone, this movie hits on every cylinder.  It certainly isn't a "feel good" film, but it definitely does a perfect job in capturing the love between a father and a son, and giving a realistic portrayal to a world that has "moved on" as Stephen King might say.

2. Moon

Like District 9, this is a sci-fi feature film from a first time director, yet Duncan Jones doesn't make any mistakes in his tale about loneliness and humanity.  Set on a base on the moon in the near future manned for three months by one individual and a robotic assistant, the film doesn't get old or tiresome at all, and instead is perfectly paced and completely gripping.  This is in large part due to the amazing skill of Sam Rockwell as Sam, the laborer finishing up his stay at the moon base.  His performance is without question the finest of the year, and one of the best acting jobs I've ever seen.  Duncan Jones's superb film also places him instantly in amongst the young directors whose films I will see immediately upon release, joining Alfonso Cuaron, David Fincher, Darron Aronofsky, and Christopher Nolan.

And the number one film....

1. Avatar

James Cameron's incredibly imaginative and immersive world changed film forever.  It proves that with modern cinema is now capable of anything.  While some are critical of the somewhat unoriginal story, the imagination of everything else in the film makes up for any stale story elements.  And personally I didn't see the story as stale, I saw the story as a classic tale that added to the realism of what easily could have been an unrealistic world but instead thanks to the imagination and technology of James Cameron was utterly believable and that made Pandora a place that I almost felt like I could step through the screen to join.  Movies will never be the same again, and that is what cinema is all about.

Until Next Time, this was a fantastic year for cinema, and if the Oscars are going to force ten best picture nominees on us, the least that Hollywood can do is make sure that there are enough good films to fill them out with enough left over for discussion!