Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The influence of pop culture on our daily lives

Exerpt from an online conversation between my friend Baril and myself*:

Baril (2:14): lol
Baril (2:15): Shit I wanted to type "lol" and I typed "lost" instead
Benjh (2:15): lost
Baril (2:15): lol

By the way, you can read the amazing "blug", by Baril, by clicking right here!

* The following has been translated from the french for your reading convenience.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lost goes local

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read this if you haven't watched the second episode of the third season of Lost.

Hi, I'm Ben, the other one, the not-other.
Confused? Read on...


Let me say right off the bat: The beginning of this new season of Lost is absolutely fantastic. Not only do we learn a lot about the others, the episodes are also masterfully written and directed. I feel like the overall "quality" of the show has improved.
Talking about "direction", we have a lot less handheld camera shots, and a lot more creativeness (the aerial shot of Othersville, and this opening shot of the ballerina falling down - which was stunning). It seems obvious to me there's a lot more money going into the making of every episode, as it should considering the ratings...


I'd like to talk some more about the ending to this second episode, because it combined so many good elements.

One: Jack (and ourselves) realizes the others have access to the outside world. To see a baseball game play in the world of Lost was just staggering!

Two: the acting was just amazing, with Michael Emerson bringing to Ben (Henry's real name) an edginess and crazyness that are compelling. And Matthew Fox is always perfect.

Three: the producers managed to include in the story a historic event we all remember, and that absolutely defines this time of Fall 2004: the Boston Red Sox victory at the world series. Not only was it funny, but it also places the series in our world, with references we all know (that also includes Bush re-election).

In a time where most series take place in an other reality (in 24 or Prison Break, the presidents have different names etc.), Lost, maybe the most "fantastic" of real series, decided to tell us: this happening somewhere in YOUR world. And it's great.

The only complaint I have has to do with the Red Sox. I said we all remember their victory, but actually, it's every American (and possibly Canadian) who remembers. To the rest of the world, the world of Baseball, not to mention the Red Sox's curses of the Bambino, is totally unknown.

When I watch american TV, I always wonder how an international audience will appreciate it. Until now, one of Lost's strength was how international, how not American it was: with its Iraqi, British and Australian characters. With its south-pacific location.

For sure, this episode will be greatly appreciated all over the world, for its quality, but the whole exchange between Jack and Ben about the red sox will go totally undercover.
If Jack ever has the chance to share this with Charlie, expect him to answer: "The Boston who have won what?".


Finally, here's my theory about the others. Scratch that, here's the truth about the other! It looks crystal clear to me.

There are two questions: "where do they come from?" and "what do they want?".
Honestly, where they come from has no importance. I expect it to be revealed sometime this season. Another crash, Dharma people or subject revolting, whatever.

What's really interesting is "what do they want?". Well, like Ben said, I'm convinced they're good guys. They choose to live on this island for reasons that are their own and are extremely happy about how perfect and suburban their life is (in a kind of Shyamalan's The Village -like scenario).
When the plane crashed, Ben immediately realized that adding 40 people to their little thing would screw everything up, so he decided they should be integrated over time. And so the whole thing is a process to integrate, few by few, our heroes into their world. - starting with Jack, Sawyer and Kate. They never kill unless their own life is in danger (and never asked Michael to kill anyone), and even captured all kids early so they don't have to go through the hardships of survival. I'm sure they're somewhere in Othersville, happy and being cared for. They even tried to make sure Claire would deliver her baby in all safety! Seriously, this is so obvious, you're all really dumb!

Why else would they let Walt (and its special powers) go, realizing he'd be happier with his dad? Of course, not everything went according to plan (Rousseau's daughter and her teen angst, Ethan going crazy), and not everything will (Jack is too stuborn - Juliette and others are obviously not that happy about Ben's leadership). But this is why we watch.


We know now the show is not in-temporal. It take place (or at least starts) in 2004. For now, it's not a big deal. Let's just hope it will be the same 5 years from now, if the show is still running. Imagine them hearing about Katrina for the first time in a 2011 episode!

Anyone else noticed all big important characters have extremely simple names?
Jack, Kate, John, James (sawyer's real name), Micheal and now Ben. Wonder where this is going...

The other Ben, the not-other, out!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Shows - Follow up

Let's start today with a few new shows I hadn't had time to blog about last time.
First and foremost:

Heroes (Monday, NBC, 9PM).

Let's get this straight: this new show can be awesome. The pilot WAS awesome.
For those of you who haven't watched, the concept is the same as X-men. Due to some genetic crap, some people find themselves with super powers. A blond and busty cheerleader can't be harmed. A cop (Greg Greenberg, from Alias) hears voices. A young New Yorker can fly. But the best character is Hiro, a young japanese worker who can stop time and teletransport anywhere he wants.
What's great about this show is that most of these "Heroes" are loosers, people who wouldn't accomplish great things in normal circomstances. It's also absolutely hilarious, and ethnicaly incredibly diverse. The plot, or what I understand of it after two episodes, seems good enough, with a drug-addict painter whose work describes the future, and everyone gathering in NY. It's a little like "The stand", by Stephen King, with the artist in place of the old woman, and a pre-disaster world instead of a post-one.
In any case, a show super original with its form, and the way it treats content, if not in the basic idea. Personally, I'm hooked!
Grade: 9/10

Ugly Betty(CBS, Thursday, 8PM):

America Ferrara stars in this adaptation from a mexican Telenovela, about a young and ugly girl trying to make it in the fashion industry. Kind of "the devil wears prada" as a TV-Series, except it's hard to picture a pretty Betty Suarez, when Anne Attaway was so obviously gorgeous since the beggining.
The series is very well written, smart and witty in its description of the fashion world (which I know nothing about), and the characters are lovable enough.
It's very well directed, which can not be said of most of the new series. No stupid VO is already a change. But it's in its very realistic depiction of the Queens family, and of an ordinary girl's struggle, that the show excels.
It builds a plot around its character, instead of doing the opposite (Grey's Anatomy comes to mind). It asks: "what's a poor girl from Queen's problems, and how can we work around it?" Instead of: "What episode could we write so that we can end with a Coldplay or James Blunt song?"

Let's wait a little for a final appreciation, but for now, 8/10


Jericho seems to be on the dreaded Roswell slope. In each of the two episodes so far, they managed to build some stupid life-or-death situation drama that has nothing to do with the story. It reminded me of poor Kim BauerIf you can't manage an hour show during the first season with the character you already have, you're as good as canceled.
Give it another few months, then poof! Gone.

On the other hand, Studio 60 is on its way up. The ratings are fantastic, and so is the show. I'm amazed at how good are Matthew Perry and Brad Whhhithhhford, far from Chandler and Josh. The writing is great, of course, the world it takes place in very well defined. After only 3 episodes, I know and remember the names of maybe 10 characters, and that's a sure sign. How long can they keep it up is my only worry. Exciting! Looks like Aaron Spelling can't fail!

I stoped watching 6 degrees, Justice and Smith. I expect I'm not the only one.

Men in Trees keep being what it promised. A simple, not pretentious show. I'm not hooked - but then, I don't think I'm in the demographic target audience. Nice to put in the background while I work on something else.

Finally, The Class, is not as good as it promised. As I feared, too many easy jokes, not enough built-up situation comedy. A few genial moments, but a few (very) low-downs. The story line where ? (see, I haven't got their names here) is presenting the weather forecast was as lame as it gets. Like Jericho, if they need a feeler that early, it's no good sign. The difference is that the sitcom genre is dying, so quality doesn't matter any more. Expect it to stay, expect me to be watching something else.

That's it for now.
Friday Night Lights premieres tonight, and I can't wait! Stay tune for more!