Tag: ABC

Anticipating Lostalgia: A Therapeutic Series Retrospect by Season

Well gentlereaders, the day has finally arrived. D-day, or LF-day – Lost Finale Day. Since May 2007 when showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse announced the popular mind- (and eventually time-) bending show would come to an end in 2010 it never occured to me that the date three years into the future would come so quickly. Life moves pretty fast, as someone once said, and while I’m excited to see how our favorite band of castaways since Gilligan’s Island will fare in the show’s final hours and close the chapter on this crazy ride, I still look at this event as if I’m losing an old friend. Now a fond look back at each monumental season in hopes that it will be a kind of therapy for this fan to prepare for many days of Lostalgia.


From the moment the amazing, and still-exhilirating, pilot hit the airwaves in 2004 I knew something special was happening. This was a groundbreaking show. In a time when the numerous CSIs and Law & Orders were dominating the airwaves and a plethora of reality shows were hanging out at the top of the ratings, this serialized show with its questions and cliffhangers at the end of almost every hour practically dared people not to come back every week. It also helped that this was all coming from a band of creatives brought together by J.J. Abrams, the man responsible for another ABC hit, and personal favorite, that melded action and character development so deftly – Alias.

Locke discovers the hatch.

Like following Sydney Bristow et. al. on the spy drama, Lost viewers were not only given present day storylines full of action and intrigue for our castaways, but also multi-faceted backstories courtesy off-island flashbacks fully fleshing out these characters to more than just stereotypes. To top it all off the Lostverse gave us layers upon layers of material to dissect that included philosophical and religious allegories in names, places and situations. Not to mention the multitude of mysteries that continually unfolded on the strange island and the eventual embrace of science fiction with the introduction of time travel that solidifed this show as a wonderfully complex creation.


I’ve never claimed that Lost was perfectly perfect in every way; any show with more than one or two seasons under its belt is going to have some missteps. Even in season 1 there were some less-than-compelling episodes, but overall it was a solid start to the series, with the first of many great season finales – “Exodus” – which involved an epic and beautiful scene that still brings tears to my eyes thanks to the genius score from Michael Giacchino. It was somewhere in season 2 that I started to notice things faltering in the story throughline. It might have been the first few boring episodes post season premiere (“Adrift” and “…And Found” I’m talking to you), or maybe it was when my favorite reformed-heroin addict Charlie goes dark for no reason with the one-two punch of attacking Sun in her garden and stealing Claire’s baby.

While there were more than enough bright spots in its sophomore year there were so many times the Bad Robot team was treading water, struggling with where they were taking our intrepid band of plane crash survivors. However, ending year two with a huge bang (literally!) in the amazing two-part finale “Live Together, Die Alone” my faith in the show was fully restored and I never questioned coming back for season 3. And for a show that preached alot about faith mine was about to be tested again in the early goings of that third year.


Oh, fellow Losties you know what I’m talking about. Those handful episodes opening season 3 with bear cages and the Hydra station. Wow, were those some trying times of “Get our heroes back to the real story already!” Although I will hand it to the show that these were also episodes that began to fully flesh out the evilly goodness of Benjamin Linus and finally introduced us to a strong female character with Juliet (sorry Kate, you didn’t earn that badge until much later in this fan’s opinion), the soft-spoken blonde doctor of The Others camp that proved to be an excellent foil in the ever-tiring Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle.

“Kate, dammit, RUN!”

It wasn’t until the last moments of the sixth episode “I Do” where Lost finally did something, as I’ve often found myself repeating at critical points. In a classic cliffhanger moment (and they did leave us hanging for 3 months!) Jack has Others’ leader Ben held hostage bleeding out on an operating table and bargains for the release of his kidnapped castaway comrades Kate and Sawyer, but sacrifices his own freedom, before agreeing to save the manipulative man’s life. This propelled the rest of the season into a breakneck pace – okay, so there were the handful of speedbumps along the way with throwaway episodes, I was never curious about the origins of Jack’s tattoos nor did I care about anything having to do with tagalongs Nikki and Paulo, those two “existing” survivors that until year 3 hadn’t even been seen as background characters – why?

Pitfalls aside you could tell that Darlton had finally found the show’s ultimate direction and knew where it would all end up creatively which was confirmed when they made the announcement, as the third year ended, that the landmark series would end with its sixth season. This declaration then gave way to the best season finale to date with  “Through the Looking Glass.” On a side note, this episode premiered three years ago today on May 23, 2007 – fitting.

Charlie’s parting words.

Bringing thrills, chills and a mess-load of tears, this has always been the definitive episode for me. There’s a sense of danger on at least three fronts – The Others bearing down on the castaways with intent to kidnap all the women, Charlie’s daring plunge into the underwater and titular Looking Glass station and a mysterious freighter offshore that may or may not be the harbinger of salvation. Plus you have one of the all-time most heart-breaking deaths in Charlie, bravely sacrificing his life to make sure the rest of the group can contact said freighter but finding out in the last moments that those on the boat were not telling the whole truth about why they were there. And don’t even get me started on the big reveal in the last moments that all the glimpses of Jack’s story off island were actually flashforwards instead of the flashbacks we had all come to expect – mind-blower and game-changer all-in-one.


While it was the final line of season three – “We have to go back Kate! – that left us wondering what was to come, this opening line from Hurley threw us headlong into the big “what the what?” of season 4. We all knew that Jack and Kate had found their way off the island, but who else was a part of this Oceanic Six, and why only six? There were at least a dozen more characters we’d come to know and love (and hate) so who was a part of this select number and what happened to the rest? This brought us a full year of the flashforward device, playing out who had made it back to the mainland, and showing the paths each had taken to lead them to their place either on or off the island. We also got new character additions in the form of the freighter folk, including physicist Daniel Faraday, the character behind the show’s full-tilt turn into science fiction with the introduction of time travel, and realized for the first time in what is now considered Lost‘s benchmark episode, “The Constant.”

A beautiful piece focusing on island button-pusher Desmond trying to reconnect with his true love Penny so he doesn’t die from time-traveling aneurysms, I’ve come to realize that this might be the one hour that is more divisive than any other in the series. While the complaints had previously been all about unimportant details and slow-moving stories, the choice to embrace the idea of time travel turned off many viewers who believed the show was diverting terribly from its initial focus of being a character study, a grown-up Lord of the Flies.

I, for one, always supported Darlton & Co’s decision to fly their geek flag high; never feeling it took away from the true heart of the show – our characters. It provided more peril and most importantly provoked more questions. It might’ve made the series a bit more inaccessible to non-regular viewers, but as a fan of Twin Peaks I love that it became more complex. To cap off this newly-minted sci-fi-filled season we were treated to the sight of the biggest time travel moment of all – as the Oceanic Six are flying away they realize that the island they left behind has disappeared.


Now that we had all learned how the Oceanic Sixers and the Left Behinders got separated, season 5 was like watching a game of time Twister, and a dangerous one at that as we came to find out that because of this schism both groups were meant to suffer – those still on the island would eventually die because of the continual time jumps created from moving the island and the Six would always wallow and wonder what happened because they left. And so the crux of this fifth season was to bring these two camps back together, but all is not so easy in the Lostverse.

The time travel element really took center stage this year and really wreaked havoc with my own comprehension of this very dense subject and of the Lost timeline in general. Regardless of my spinning head being able to see the island’s goings on prior to the 815 survivors’ arrival (from primitive days even!) was an amazing addition to the already brimming-with-goodness show mythology. The pièce de résistance being the big reunion moment for our two camps during the heyday of Dharmaville – 1977. Yes, they achieved the goal of getting back to the island by, how else, traveling through time.

Although it didn’t end up quiet that simple, as nothing in the Lostverse does, since not all of our original castaways joined in the Dharma grooviness of the past. The plane transporting those back in time ended up landing safely – in then-present day 2007. Here was a story arc that created a whole new mess of questions in the shady folk who didn’t trust you until you correctly answered, “what lies in the shadow of the statue?” as well as a miraculously resurrected-from-the-dead John Locke. It wasn’t until the finale “The Incident” where we started to see the turn the series would take back to where it all started, the basic story of human nature, fate, free will and the ultimate battle between the light and dark within which we have seen play out in its final season.

As the series went through its last year the biggest compliment I can give is that it never lost (heh) sight of its core – the characters (I’m repeating myself, for a reason) – and has done a tremdendous job in honoring everyone that has inhabited this world. To add to that at almost every turn I never quite knew where it was going, in a good way. Consistently surprised, always left wanting more this was the year that I realized there were so many questions in the mythology yet to be answered that I resigned myself to just sitting back and taking it all in rather than become outraged or dissatisfied by overlooked and abandoned story elements. Will we ever know why Walt had special powers? What did happen to Vincent the dog? Will it all come down to a heated game of backgammon over the fate of the world? Most of these things don’t matter in the grand scheme, but I have faith that ultimately we’ll all have closure but with a side of mystery that will continue to spark theories, speculation and spirited debates for a long time after the final moments, which was what Lost always did best.

Some of us at this point in the evening already know the outcome (East Coasters!) but this viewer has just a few minutes to prepare for the beginning of the end and knows one thing for sure, I’m grabbing my box of tissues ’cause there’s a tearfest to come.



20 Years Later – Still One Damn Fine Series

In a town like Twin Peaks, no one is innocent.

Belated anniversary premiere date wishes to what still ranks as this TV addict’s number one favorite series of all time – Twin Peaks. On April 8th, 1990 I was introduced to the quirky, creepy and always off-kilter world of Twin Peaks, Washington its diverse denizens and the stranger in a strange land G-man sent in to investigate the tragic death of the sleepy little hamlet’s prom queen. And as the haunting music over the opening credits suggests, not to mention having David Lynch as the mastermind creator, the layers of mystery that were about to unfold promised a beautifully, mesmerizing trip. 

Perhaps a little too adult for a still-developing youngster to be exposed to, looking back I can’t even remember why I was drawn to Lynch’s small screen masterpiece. Up until then I couldn’t think of anything better than ABC’s TGIF family comedy line-up – who could compete with the TannersWinslows, Balki and the hijinks in a family of 10 – so how did this one-hour drama filled to the brim with allegory and allusion that could keep not only film but art, history and social science classes talking for years beguile such an innocent mind? I’d like to attribute it to an unconscious knowledge that at any age someone can recognize and appreciate, even if they can’t fully understand, well-made television.

While I’ll never deny my indulgence in guilty TV pleasures both past (oh the sweet, original 90210 days of Brenda and Dylan) and present (those Desperate Housewives on Wisteria Lane, coincidentally the current residence of former Twin Peaks FBI agent Kyle MacLachlan) there’s also no denying that even 20 years later the cult series that spawned the whole cult series craze (you’re welcome X-Files and Buffy) and one that barely lasted two years remains the epitome for any serialized show that crosses my viewing path, particularly those of the mystery genre (another great but always placing silver, Lost), and frankly the hour-long television format altogether.

Happy 20th Anniversary Twin Peaks, now off to celebrate with a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie.

The entire series, including the hard-to-find original pilot, is now available to own or  watch online.

Concerning Happy Town

As the fall television season progresses there are shows that have been flourishing (huzzah Modern Family!) and some that are floundering (yikes, who green-lit Hank?). We’re quickly approaching the ever-important November sweeps which is a time when networks will begin to unveil promos for their mid-season replacements poised in the wings to take over for these latter-categorized series which won’t see new episodes past the holidays. One such show ABC has on deck puts me at odds on where to place a yay or nay vote of support – Happy Town.

Happy Town soon to be on ABC

Now, being an avid proponent of shows in the mystery genre I whole-heartedly endorse bringing stories of intrigue to the television viewing audience – I’ve been fully engrossed in the on-going trials of Lost since its inaugural year and the new Flash Forward has also hooked my interest. So it seems Happy Town should be right up my alley if what is presented in the synopsis suggests is true. However after viewing the trailer/promo I found myself turned off, and frankly appalled, by the tactics and slant used to entice a potential audience.

Where to begin with this critique? First, “From the network that brought you Twin Peaks.” Wow. If you’re going to lead with that you better have the huevos to back up those convictions. Just because a show is set in a small, seemingly idyllic northern town that gets rocked by a murder it does not mean you can evoke the name of a series as complex, riveting, quirky and twisted as Twin Peaks in order to sell it. And sell the hell out of it you could, if the rest of the promo delivered on such promises. This one fails spectacularly in several areas.

The editing and music choices are equal parts mediocre, unimaginative and misguided in setting the tone. The odd choice to use a charming tune at the top with close-ups of a wide-eyed ingenue basking in the feeling of new beginnings makes me think of scenes from the defunct, dramatic series October Road – which makes sense as that short-lived show features  prominently on the resumes of Happy Town creators Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg. I’m confused, did they purposefully choose to mimic their last endeavor or did some leftover material accidentally get pulled into the cut?

On the topic of show runners, with the less-than-stellar October in their past I’m not feeling a huge sense of security that this team will be able to successfully head up a series in the vein of top-notch mystery man J.J. Abrams. While this group is counted amongst the players of Team Abrams their credits with him include the fourth and fifth seasons of Alias, widely considered the weakest of the ABC spy drama.

I will hold my final opinion for Happy Town the series until after a viewing of at least an episode or two, but I was not impressed by dialogue nor the uninteresting (creepy?) scenes contained within the promo. The one aspect that carries any clout is the cast (hello Frances Conroy and Amy Acker), I just hope that these talents won’t be completely wasted with what appears to be lackluster writing.

My opinion on this promo, however, is most assuredly concrete and nothing but disappointed. This is the initial venue to highlight the best of your series and set the appropriate tone. Don’t just give me a by-the-numbers intro if the very first image you use involves the words Twin Peaks, which are sacred ones. Thou shalt not take the Lynch name in vain. Deliver the goods, or find another angle to hawk your wares. Granted promos can only be as compelling as the material they have to work with, so perhaps this is by all accounts a good indication of what we should expect for this series: bland masking as bold.

I remain,

Highly Chagrined.

David Lynch

Yes sir, Captain Tightpants!

Nathan Fillion as Mal Reynolds on Joss Whedon's FireflyThank you, Nathan Fillion, for always keeping the Firefly/Serenity love alive. And you can still rock those tight captain’s pants.

Last night’s episode of Castle no doubt provided a massive squeal-inducing moment for Browncoats (that’s in-the-know speak meaning those with endless love for Joss Whedon’s defunct show Firefly and its feature film sequel Serenity) that tune in to the ABC series with the express interest in getting a weekly dose of Fillion. Even just a single scene of him in Captain Malcolm Reynold’s signature snug britches and duster certainly made this girl swoon and wistful for the spectacular space western that was taken from us far too soon.

Review: Flash Forward Series Premiere – An Open Letter to ABC

To The Powers That Be:

After 5 months of building the suspense, teasing us with glimpses during Lost commercial breaks during Spring Sweeps weeks, you finally unveiled the first full Flash Forward hour on Thursday night with resounding success as seen in the ratings: handily winning the timeslot shared with a new Survivor. A rarity for scripted TV going up against the reality powerhouse – to that, well played. Intrigued by the show’s premise from those ads and extended promo, now having an hour of story to go on I feel it necessary to craft this slight critical commentary of the premiere episode with the only pretense that this should be taken as both applause for success out of the gate and as an appeal to nurture FF toward forging its own creative road and not forcing on it a Lost series template all in the hopes of creating a new cash cow.

Mass Chaos Around the World: Film at 11

During the opening minutes of FF I found myself unintentionally (okay, maybe somewhat intentionally) counting the similarities to the Lost pilot. So many beats of the confusing post-plane crash chaos seemed to be there: open on hero waking up and groggily assessing the situation (thank you for keeping it a full-face first shot rather than a tight close-up on the eye); said hero, naturally one to take control, jumping in immediately to start saving the day; hero reassuring all surrounding victims that there’s no need to panic help is on the way! At least he didn’t drop a phrase (“live together, die alone”) to be used ad nauseum in later eps. While this didn’t completely take me out of the well-paced action scene it was a slight distraction in getting me invested in the gravity of the situation right away.

Easter Egg! Geeks love that stuff.As the episode progressed other bits of the story held touches of Lost-like “hey remember this later it’ll be important” moments: oddly-placed kangaroo bouncing around a downtown street (polar bear charging through the jungle on a tropical island); a group formed to study the mysteries (Dharma Initiative); the significance of numbers – why were people unconscious for 2 minutes and 17 seconds (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42). Perhaps the above are all minor aspects that were never meant to be modeled directly from Lost (I’ll forget the totally unnecessary, blatant placement of an Oceanic Airlines billboard) and as a scrutinizing television viewer I’m looking at it too closely.

I did see some glaringly obvious attempts at grooming a show to be the refuge for fans upon your tentpole series’ finale in May, and having a couple of Lost actors on board almost pushes it too far (but thank you for bringing Dominic Monaghan back into my living room). However a lot of what was there showed massive amounts of creativity and potential – excellent cast, strong characters, well-paced story – and the one thing you took, and should keep taking, from the Lost playbook is slipping in a good amount of intrigue. The bit with a lone(?) conscious man walking around during the blackout was an excellent seed for massive water-cooler talk Friday morning. If there’s one thing Lost does well it’s light up the post-show speculation chatter.

To sum up I, and many others out there, love the twisty tales of island mystery, but please don’t be so deluded to think that we’re all in search of cookie-cutter versions to comfort us upon our favorite show’s departure next year. Keeping this in mind, I look forward to what’s in store for our Flashers in episodes to come, remain hopeful that it will find an individual voice, and will keep it on the Must Watch list until such time I find it following too closely in Lost‘s firmly-placed footsteps rather than exploring new roads of storytelling.


Avid TV Viewer Trish the Dish

Flash Forward, Thursdays on ABC 8/7c