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Showing posts from May, 2008

Return to Oz: Home is Where the Heart Is on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Wow. I don't even know where to begin. I'm talking of course about last night's amazing season finale to Lost ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts Two & Three"), which fulfilled the promise of last season's ender by showing just how the Oceanic Six managed to escape the island (along with Desmond and Frank Lapidus) and gave us an oh-no-he-didn't moment when Ben manages to move the island in time and space... before being exiled from the place he's sworn to protect for the rest of his life. Sawyer. Before we get into the crux of the episode, I do feel extremely vindicated that my theory about what would happen to Sawyer played out EXACTLY as I had predicted two weeks ago. When faced with the helicopter losing fuel and none of them making it off the island, Sawyer whispers in Kate's ear (a promise about, oh, tracking down his daughter on the mainland), kisses her passionately, and then sacrifices his freedom for his fellow castaways by jum

Who's In the Coffin And Other Thoughts About Tonight's Season Finale of "Lost"

While Lost has been positively overflowing with mysteries since Day One, when the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 first arrived on that cursed island, one question has seized upon the imagination of the audience and not let go: just who is in that coffin? It's a question that I've asked myself time and time again when watching the fourth season of Lost , which concludes tonight with a two-hour season ender that will likely once again rewrite the rules of the serialized drama and leave those of us obsessed with the series reeling from its implications for the next seven months. (I offered up a theory about one element of tonight's episode involving the notion of sacrifice and, er, fuel loss during my post about Part One of "There's No Place Like Home" two weeks ago. Very curious to see if I am right.) So who do I think is in the coffin? Let's take a look at the likely--and unlikely--possibilities. Benjamin Linus. We now know that Ben managed to get off

High Steaks (and Frozen Scallops) for Final Five Contestants on "Top Chef"

I was literally on the edge of my couch last night, terrified that somehow one of my favorite three contestants wouldn't make it into the final four. After all, there was no way that there would be some divine intervention, some culinary equivalent of a deus ex machina, and the much loathed Spike and Lisa would both somehow get cut from the competition. A boy can dream, can't he? Last night's episode of Top Chef ("High Steaks") definitely raised the bar for Challenges this season, creating a pressure-cooker environment where the five remaining chefs had to butcher some lovely Tomahawk steaks and cook them for guest judge Rick Tramonto and then work on the line in his new restaurant, creating and serving an appetizer and an entree to a fully booked restaurant and the judges, who this week included previous winners Harold, Ilan, and Hung. It was pretty hilarious to see those three former winners back on the series, especially as I think any of the current crop o

Where Pilots Go to Die: FOX's "Spaced"

Ah, schadenfreude . There is something innately satisfying about watching a terrible pilot project go down the tubes when it was doomed from the very start. And there were few more misguided and foolhardy attempts this past pilot season than that of the US adaptation of UK cult series Spaced . Created by Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson), and Edgar Wright, the original Spaced was a brilliant and hyperkinetic pastiche: at once a tongue-in-cheek satire of sitcoms, an inversion of social stereotypes, and a collection of astounding sight gags, blink-and-you'll-miss-'em pop culture references, and endearingly quirky characters. It was most definitely a product of its time as well, fused into the fabric of 1990s Gen-X slackers and offering a commentary on both American and British cultural sensibilities of the time. In a word, it was brilliant. Cut to 2008, following a rough development year, in which the stars/creators of Spaced spoke out against the US version of the s

Weekend Wrap-Up: HBO's "Recount," Peacock's New Sched Ruffles My Feathers

I always hate it when a three-day weekend comes to an end. I spent mine catching up on some much needed R&R, putting the finishing touches on some last minute wedding plans, and watching some truly horrific pilots. (Seriously, the pilot for the US adaptation of Spaced may very well go down as one of the worst things I've ever screened, but more on that tomorrow.) Due to some overall insanity here the past two weeks or so, I hadn't gotten around to watching the screener that HBO had sent over for their two-hour telepic Recount , written by former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls co-star Danny Strong, and finally sat down this weekend to take a look. I'm curious to know how many of you tuned in to this intelligent and haunting look at the 2000 US presidential elections; the performances--from as varied a lot as Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Derek Cecil (a.k.a. That Guy from Push, Nevada and Pasadena ), Denis Leary, Mitch Pileggi, an

Link Tank: TV Blog Coalition Roundup for May 24-26

Televisionary is proud to be a member of the TV Blog Coalition. At the end of each week, we'll feature a roundup of content from our sister sites for your delectation. This week, I put on my Pilot Inspektor cap and reviewed the pilot episodes for several new series, including FOX's new J.J. Abrams drama Fringe ("spellbinding television"), ABC's misguided US adaptation of UK series Life on Mars , and HBO's lackluster True Blood . I also shared my sadness that Russell T. Davies would be leaving Doctor Who (and my excitement that he'd be replaced at the helm by Steven Moffat ), my excitement that Arrested Development 's Judy Greer had been cast in the US adaptation of Suburban Shootout for HBO, my confusion over sourpuss Lisa still being on Top Chef , and my complete and utter boredom over the second season finale of Ugly Betty . Elsewhere in the sophisticated TV-obsessed section of the blogosphere, members of the TV Blog Coalition were discussing

Bored to Tears By the "Ugly Betty" Season Finale? You're Not Alone.

You know when the highlight of an episode is a super-saturated flashback to Betty getting selected as a "human shield" in a high school game of dodgeball that you're in for a snoozer of an episode. Such was the case last night with the season finale of Ugly Betty ("Jump"), which didn't so much as advance the plots as it did end the series' sophomore season with some rather unbelievable "twists" and forced Betty to once again choose between former true love Henry--who, as we all know impregnated his ex-girlfriend and moved to Tucson--or new love interest/sandwich maker Gio, who apparently can afford to pay his rent on his apartment and his prime midtown location-based sandwich shop AND jet off to Rome for a month. (Apparently he keeps down his costs by being the sole employee.) Personally, I wish she'd ditch both Gio and Henry and move in with Christina (Ashley Jensen), who sadly didn't even appear in the season finale. I understand t

The Nasty Bits When the Chefs Face Off in Restaurant Wars on "Top Chef"

You know you have a fantastic reality series on your hands when even an episode with a foregone conclusion still makes the action absolutely riveting. Last night's episode of Top Chef ("Restaurant Wars") was no exception to the above. Given that it was painfully bloody obvious from the start which team would end up praised by the judges (including incomparable guest head judge Anthony Bourdain), I wondered if I'd find myself slightly deflated watching the gang over at Mi Buddha struggle their way through service, burdened with a series of foolhardy culinary choices and botched execution. Ouch. Antonia won this week's Quickfire Challenge, which had the cheftestants working the egg station at a popular Chicago breakfast haunt. Antonia kept her cool and, above all, kept calm the entire time, turning out a series of dishes quickly and efficiently. While immunity is no longer on the table, as it were, A. does win a very valuable advantage going into the Elimination C

Pilot Inspektor: HBO's "True Blood"

It's funny how your expectations can completely derail your perceptions of a series' strengths or weaknesses. As longtime readers of this site know, I have been beyond excited to watch the pilot for HBO's upcoming series True Blood since I first read the pilot script during the winter/spring of 2007. (Yes, it's really been that long since I first started blathering on about it.) So imagine my shock and chagrin when I sat down to watch the pilot for True Blood --written and directed by Alan Ball ( Six Feet Under ) and based on the novel series by Charlaine Harris --last week and was royally disappointed. Consider me a vampire faced with the prospect of feasting on an anorexic: all of the pieces were there but it was just flat, empty, and remarkably tasteless. Sure, Anna Paquin ( X-Men ) is absolutely cute as a button as telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse; she's a blonde, perky barmaid at Merlotte's, a backwoods bar in post-Katrina Louisiana, and a social pa

Davies to Depart "Doctor Who," Beeb Names Moffat as Replacement

I woke up this morning to learn that Russell T. Davies would be leaving Doctor Who , the brilliant and imaginative series that he relaunched and watched over for the past four seasons. Davies will stick around to oversee the four feature-length specials slated to air on the BBC next year but will then depart prior to the start of Season Five. I'm really sad to be losing Davies as the man with his hand on the Who tiller. He's done a remarkable job at keeping things running smoothly, through not one but two major cast changes (as the incomparable David Tennant replaced original star Christopher Eccleston and Freema Agyeman replaced Billie Piper... and then was recently replaced herself with Catherine Tate). But I am pleased as punch that it will be Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat (who also created comedy Coupling and BBC limited series Jekyll ) who will be taking over as the lead writer and executive producer on Doctor Who . If anyone should be the one to take over as Keepe

Drive By: Judy Greer Lands Lead in HBO's "Suburban Shootout"

Holy Judy Greer, Batman! The former Miss/Guided star has been cast in HBO's comedy pilot Suburban Shootout , the US adaptation of the darkly comic UK series about warring gangs of, um, homicidal suburban housewives in a seemingly idyllic and picturesque town. In a fantastic twist of fate, Greer has been cast as the lead in Suburban Shootout , where she will play the wife of a police chief who moves from urban sprawl for quieter pastures, only to learn that the 'burbs are just as every bit dangerous as the city. The script, from writer Michelle Ashford and executive producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld, was absolutely fantastic and pitch perfect (they did have amazing underlying material to work with, after all) and I am glad that rather than cast some faceless ingenue for the lead, they went with the quirky and adorable Greer, who will bring a distinct edge to the role. Casting on the pilot for Suburban Shootout has become a hotbed for solid female actors, with Kelly Presto

Pilot Inspektor: FOX's "Fringe"

Every once in a while a pilot comes along that is so perfect, such a shining indication of what the final series will be, so perfectly cast and directed, that it's impossible to look away. That pilot, ladies and gentlemen, is definitely FOX's phenomenal science-tinged drama Fringe . In a nutshell, Fringe is The X-Files for the new millennium: eerie, gripping, and still haunting even after the final credits have rolled, albeit containing an overt (rather than subtle) humor that never existed in that series. In this case, the aliens aren't from outer space: they're the mega-corporations that dot the American landscape, pushing science and technology past their limits and exploiting that for their own gain. It poses several ethical questions: when does the pursuit of scientific discovery go too far? Who is monitoring the rapid advances in technology in today's day and age? And what happens when a scientist--or a group of scientists--decides that the world is their

Pilot Inspektor: ABC's "Life on Mars"

ABC had very little to announce for next season at this year's upfronts ; most of its pilots have yet to have been shot and won't film a single frame until later this summer. And the few things that ABC did end up ordering were either picked up from another network ( Scrubs ) or had been shot last year ( Life on Mars ). What's my point? I finally sat down last night to watch the pilot for Life on Mars with bated breath. After all, longtime readers know how bloody much I love the UK original series of Life on Mars --starring John Simm, Liz White, and Philip Glenister--and I had pretty low expectations for this David E. Kelley-created US remake, which keeps the basic plot intact (detective Sam Tyler gets hit by a car whilst investigating a serial killer and wakes up in 1972... or does he?), along with much of the dialogue, shot compositions, and graphics. (Kelley, for his part, won't be involved with the series; ABC has hired Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenb