Friday, June 25, 2010

Lost Sucks, Part 2.

Coming this August, Lost Season Six DVD. According to it will feature an epilogue about Hurley's rule of the Island. It will answer a few lingering questions. Remember the joke alternate endings on Jimmy Kimmel Live's how "Aloha to Lost?" I wonder if this one will be serious. Oh, joy. (deadpan)

Before you urge me to buy it to see if there any answers in it, I will make the argument that the producers should have put the answers in the broadcast version. You didn't see Peter Jackson skip important parts from the theatrical version of "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" and put them in the extended DVD. That would be unfair to the intended audience.

I'm sure Rabid Losties will love seeing the Emperor without clothes. But being a former fan, I refuse to see a naked man.

Reds Win the Ohio Cup!

Reds retain the Ohio Cup by beating the Cleveland Indians, 10-3. They would win it by defeating the Indians 6-4 on Saturday. We are the champions my friend. We'll keep on fighting till the end. We are the champions, we are the champions... no time for losers... Cause we are the champions of the Ohio Cup!

Lost Sucks

Okay, I've spent a week fighting Rabid Losties in the comments section of Choke On Funny's review of the Lost series finale. It's on YouTube. After that, it's time for a new segment in unleashing my rage for having wasted six years of my life watching Lost.

"You can let go now." Rose to Jack on the plane in Sideways World.

No, I'm not going to let go until I get invited to the church by Evangeline Lilly. : ) After fighting with Rabid Losties under the name Basementblooger, I have discovered their favorite defense of this terrible last season. It's interesting because Rabid Losties like Doc Jensen and Dan Snierson of Entertainment Weekly and others furiously defending Lost all bend themselves like pretzels to explain the last season and the finale. Yet, they all have different theories to the show. Anyway the defense you see the most and in the past I've discussed it, is...

"You bring your own interpretation to the show or interpret it any way you want."

Here's what's wrong with that defense. Scripted television and film are not interactive mediums. You cannot control the characters or paramaters because the writers do. I can't make Kate go with Sawyer. I don't have control over them. However, you can write any piece of junk and leave it open for interpretation and run around and call it art. That's not responsible and just plain lazy.

When you read all the different interpretations for the last season of Lost, it becomes clear that mysteries were never going to be answered or maybe the writers didn't know how to resolve them. For example, Terry O' Quinn on Jimmy Kimmel's show says he didn't know he was the Smoke Monster in season five. Alan Dale who plays Charles Widmore said on Kimmel's show didn't know whether he was bad or a good character. First, I feel for the actors who most be able to channel motivation from the script. They had none. Second, it lends proof that the writing was haphazard. So, now writers can just create incomplete junk and offer the "intrepret it your own way" defense.

Of course, Rabid Losties have multiple theories on season six. And by using the "bring your own interpretation" can make season six look like Shakespeare. Let me demonstrate how speecious this is. I was challenged by a Rabid Lostie on the net to use some imagination. Okay, you asked for it, here it is. I'm going to take on the mystery surrounding what happens when the Man in Black (aka Smokey, Fake Locke) leaves the Island and why it would be detrimental.

"Invisible magic fairies live in Jacobs' butt. They would come out and do magical things like heal Locke's paralysis. When Jacob died, the magic fairies went to live in Fake Locke's butt. Should Fake Locke leave the Island, he would take the magic fairies to the world off the Island. The fairies are anti-matter and if they touched real matter, they would cause massive explosion."

See the problem? Nothing prevents my silly story from becoming Lost's story. The writers of the show have avoided all responsibility. Everyone is happy because you have no conclusion or the conclusion is up to the viewer. Let's face it. Every creative artist must face his audience and hope that they like her piece of work. That's par for the course. But in Lost, there is absolutely no artistic courage.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Go For It, Reds!

Okay, the Reds just got swept by the last place Seattle Mariners. And adding salt to the wound, they couldn't score a run against a guy who was 0-6 with and ERA over six before the start of the game. (Ryan Rowland-Smith) Yes, the Reds faced two tough pitchers in Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez in the previous two games. But the Reds were once ten games over and in first place. Now they are a game and a half out.

So, why am I saying the Reds should go for it now? There's an adage in baseball, that if you can win it all now, you must go for it. That means you make trades and moves for the short term. You give up valued prospects for guys to put you over the top. Can the Reds win it all this year? Yes. As I have said, the Reds were ten games over and in first place. If this team plays to its potential, they can beat anybody.

That begs the question, what does this team need or could use? Well, Cliff Lee is rumored to be available. He's a former Cy Young winner and a great teammate. And if you watch him silence the Reds bats, he would be a number one guy in a Reds rotation. The Reds do have talent to get him. For example, prospect Yonder Alonso can't get on the field because Joey Votto is entrenched at first. Getting Cliff Lee would send a jolt through the team that the Reds will do what it takes to win. I would also find a solution to getting Drew Stubbs to hit. I want to see less strikeouts and more contact from him. If he can't hit on this level, the Reds should look elsewhere for help. But Reds Nation, don't give up on this season.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toy Story 3 (3-D) Review

I'm going to commit a some film blasphemy here. I never thought Pixar's Toy Story (1995), and Toy Story 2 (1999) were all that great. I mean they were good but these were movies geared towards children and maybe that's why I had trouble enjoying them as much as other critics. I will agree that Toy Story was revolutionary in introducing computer animation for a full length film. It probably spelled the death of 2-D animation, though it was good to see Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" (2009) go old school 2-D. So, when other critics were glowing with praise for Toy Story 3 (99% Fresh with Rotten Tomatoes), I decided to see it.

Toy Story 3 opens with a wild western fantasy that a young Andy is staging with his toys. We're reintroduced to cowboy Woody (voice by Tom Hanks), cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) and others. The scene is a flashback and serves to tell the audience how things have changed. You see in the ten years since the last movie, Andy has grown up and stops playing with his toys, leading the toys to feel lonely. On the cusp of college, he decides to store his old toys in the attic, with the exception of Woody, who he wants to take with him to school.

Unfortunately, they are mistaken for trash when Andy puts them in a garbage bag. The toys escape but crawl into a box slated for donation for a day care center. When they arrive at the day care center, the toys think they are in heaven since they will be played with. The older toys at the center are supervised by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a big furry bear and he assigns new toys to the playroom where the very young kids play. It turns out that our heroes are not age appropriate for these children as the kids abuse them in violent ways. Hey, let's face it, young children usually like the box that a new toy comes in rather than the toy. We discover that Lotso is kind of a dictator, and is enslaving our heroes. The toys decide to escape with the help by a Chatter Telephone. (Teddy Newton) Their goal is to get back to Andy even if that means exile to the attic.

It's been ten years since we last saw these characters, and frankly I wasn't very interested in their lives since the last movie. The early scenes of the toys escaping the garbage bag, and being tortured by little kids were small in scale. I missed any sense of adventure. And don't bother with the 3-D version of this film. The filmmakers seemed to have a snobby view of 3-D and refuse to emphasize it. There are virtually no money shots, i.e., where objects come at you. You don't notice it. If Pixar doesn't use 3-D then they should lose it. Now, that may sound like I hated this film, however, it takes flight during the escape sequence. The action and especially the comedy during the escape were entertaining, and funny. And I have always loved the themes that Pixar puts in their films. I saw compassion, generosity, courage, loyalty and love in this movie. That is enough to melt my heart.

Toy Story 3 looks like the final part of a trilogy. As such, it is a satisfying conclusion. The grade is B.

Brent Spiner Crashes the Q & A with Patrick Stewart

At this year's Philadelphia Comic Con 2010, Patrick Stewart (Capt. Picard, Star Trek, TNG) was asked about one of his most embarrassing roles. Patrick Stewart responds with the 1985 film, "Wild Geese 2" in which he plays a Russian general. Brent Spiner (Data in ST: TNG) then crashes the Q & A session with some funny questions. Check it out.

By the way, the Trekkers in the Q & A, ask better questions than James Lipton of the Actor's Studio. There was interesting stuff about Shakespeare. And here's his good advice on getting your foot in the door if you're an actor.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Star Trek: Enterprise To Be Available Online

I wrote that Paramount should bring Star Trek back on television. My argument was to bring back Star Trek: Enterprise. The reason I want Star Trek back on TV is that the next film may not come out till 2012. That's too long. Well, good news my fellow Trekkers. CBS will make available online and without cost, Star Trek: Enterprise. Hopefully, that will keep the interest in the franchise until 2012.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Conservative Republicans Defend BP

A number of Republicans have attacked President Obama for getting 20 billion dollars in restitution from BP. Rep. Joe Barton (Texas) apologized to BP and called the fund a shakedown. He wasn't the only Republican to defend BP. Tom Price (R-Ga), former GOP chairman and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and of course Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) all were critical of Obama getting the 20 billion dollars. If I can paraphrase Keith Olbermann on Bachmann last night on Countdown, "THE REPUBLICANS ARE DEFENDING BP!" (Of course, Bachmann is the Worst Person in the World.)


That's like apologizing to Japan for declaring war on them after they attacked Pearl Harbor.

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I bet Keith is going to talk about the conservative Republicans defending BP in a future episode. :) Update: Barton has apologized for his apology. Look, it's not like he blurted something out. It was conscious effort to attack Obama for doing something good.

Sarah Palin Suggests Dutch With Dyke Expertise Can Help With Oil Leak

This is why I love right-wing Republicans like Sarah Palin. She said during an interview with Fox News' Bill O' Reilly that the Dutch with their expertise with dykes and the Norwegians can help stop the oil leak in the gulf. Wait a minute. Did Sarah Palin request assistance from a couple of socialist nations? And is she serious about the dyke stuff? She's not thinking about the boy with his finger in the dyke, is she? Here's the story from Keith Olbermann's Countdown.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What the Hell Is Going On in South Carolina?

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show likes to say South Carolina is a state that gives us comedy gold. Let's face it. We all have to agree with Jon. South Carolina is America's comic relief in these distressing times. So, with the help of Jon Stewart, and Jimmy Kimmel let's go over some of the recent moments of insanity coming from that state, in a "WTF" review.

5. Miss Teen South Carolina, (2007) When asked why some Americans couldn't find the United States on a map, Miss Teen South Carolina was absolutely in bubble headed blond mode in her answer. Then Jimmy Kimmel had great fun analyzing the answer on the blackboard before Glenn Beck started using one in his paranoid commentaries.

4. Governor Mark Sanford. (2009) Once considered a 2012 presidential candidate, social conservative Governor Mark Sanford disappeared for a few days, leading to a search for his whereabouts. Where was he? He was in Argentina, with his mistress. Here's Jon's take.

3. Man has sex with a horse twice. (2009) In South Carolina, there was this guy who had sex with the same horse twice. Here's Jon's take.

2. Attacks on Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. (2010) First there was fellow Republican, Jake Knotts, who called Republican candidate Nikki Haley who is a Sikh, a raghead comparing her to President Obama who's from Hawaii. Then two guys made claims that they had affairs with her. One of them sets Jon Stewart's gaydar off.

1. Alvin Greene. (2010) This guy won the Democratic nomination for Senate while being charged with showing pornography to a college student. Oh, he had no campaign, and being unemployed he had no visible means of raising the ten thousand dollars for the filing fee. Some have theorized that Greene won because his name appeared above his opponent, Vic Rawl or that African Americans voted for him because Greene is a popular name among blacks, or people confused him with Al Green, the soul singer! Here's what Jon has to say about it and he makes fun of Democrats who think Greene is a Republican plant.

I agree with Jon Stewart. Thank you, South Carolina. And double thanks for giving us Stephen Colbert.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jonny Gomes Carries the Team

I was at the game between the Reds and the Kansas City Royals last night. In the first inning, Jonny Gomes blasted a three run homer to give the Reds a four run lead. It looked like it was going to be a laugher. But Johnny Cueto gave up five runs in the second and let's face it Reds' fans, you thought here we go again, another heartbreaking Reds loss. But Jonny Gomes wouldn't let that happen. He carried the team and the fans. He blasted another three run homer and his six RBIs led the team to victory, 11-5. He's our David Ortiz. Here's the story and video.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The A-Team Movie Review

I'll admit that I was not a fan of the TV show "The A-Team." Too cheesy. I did like the catchy theme song and singing it for the cashier got me in the movie theater for free. Hey, it was a contest. But I wasn't expecting much with the big screen remake. Well, The A-Team movie kicks ass. I pity the fool who doesn't like this movie. Okay, enough with the catchphrases.

By the way, Mr. T, you complained that this movie is too violent and had sex, but maybe that's why the TV show was kind of lame. Firing guns can kill people. Also, Mr. T, what sex are you talking about? It's rated PG-13. Because if you consider sexy women and kissing too hot, well I pity you. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Or maybe it's because Mr. T. is jealous of Bradley Cooper (Face) who's got the body of a comic book superhero. Ladies, Cooper is the eye candy for you to go to this movie. He's shirtless more times than William Shatner was in one season of Star Trek. Translation to you non-Trekkers, it's a lot.

The A-Team opens up with a furious escape by Col. "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson) in Mexico from a corrupt general. We're introduced to each member of this American special ops team as they make their escape, Face (Bradley Cooper), "B. A." Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) and "Howling Mad" Murdock. (Sharlto Copley) The helicopter chase scene is a wow. So the team crashes in Arizona, where the police demand to see their papers. B.A. tells them, "Do we look like a bunch of Mexicans?" Unfortunately, that's not good enough and they're arrested under Arizona's immigration law. Okay, that immigration stuff didn't happen.

We flash forward to the ending days of the Iraq war. The team is asked to take on a risky mission by CIA agent Lynch. (Patrick Wilson) The mission is to intercept the transfer of treasury plates and cash from Saddam loyalists. Hannibal's friend, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney) warns him not to take the mission. Of course, that's not going to happen. At same time, a shadowy security group know as Black Forest, (Get it? It's like Black Water) led by Pike (Brian Bloom) also go after the shipment.

The team succeeds in getting the shipment but it is blown up by Pike and Morrison is allegedly killed. The A-team is court martialed and sentenced to prison. Lynch helps the team to break out of prison. They are chased by the lovely Captain Sosa, (Jessica Biel) a former lover of Face. The team's mission for Lynch is to recover the plates and in the process, clear their names.

Writers Brian Bloom (plays Pike in the movie), Skip Woods, and director Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces) strike the right balance of action, and comedy in their screenplay. I also like the fact that they didn't make the movie into a camp fest. We've already seen the stinker MacGruber. The actors all have great chemistry. This is a hell of a team. The action scenes are well filmed. They're ridiculously entertaining and are clear with the exception of my pet peeve, filming the climax at night. Additionally, for the next movie, and I hope there is another, stop intercutting Hannibal's mission briefing with the actual execution of the plan. And the use of a Gandhi quote to justify violence is sure to have him spinning in his grave. But these are minor quibbles to a great action flick. Director Carnahan boldly told Entertainment Weekly (4-23, pg. 66) "There's an action sequence in the film and if you don't like it, you don't like movies." I'm going to assume that's the scene where the team escapes in a C-130 transport plane and are hunted by Predator drones. They are shot down by the drones only to bail out in a tank! You want to know something? He's right.

The A-Team is the first live action summer movie that's fun. It's a wild ride that you'll want to go on again and again. And yes, I did see it twice. The critics may be split. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 52 % rating but this is a movie that is a true guilty pleasure. The grade for the movie is A, of course.

Geek Alert! First, if you pay close attention during the scene where the team breaks out Murdock from a mental hospital, watch the 3-D movie used to distract the patients. It's a take off of the A-Team show but look at the credits of who is starring in it. One credit says Reginald Barclay. That's a Star Trek: The Next Generation character portrayed by Dwight Schultz, the original Murdock in the TV series. Ha, ha. And stay past the end credits for some funny cameos.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Lost Series Finale Causes the Show to Stink

First, let me just say that I've been a fan of Lost for six years until they wrapped it up with one of the worst series finales in the history of television. It's so bad that it drags what was an excellent show down in any evaluation. So, my opinion is one of massive disappointment and not out of any desire to deny my inner geek. Second, for the last two weeks, I've been examining the web for various interpretations of the series finale, "The End" and the consensus for the meaning of the show is 1) Sideways World is kind of a purgatory; and 2) the Island was real. I'm going to talk about why the series finale, "The End" was absolutely terrible, then defend the critics of the show against the zealots, people I call Rabid Losties. The Rabid Losties have arguments that you will see on the web over and over. But let's talk about the problems with the show in this segment called,

1. The Emperor Has No Clothes. If you remember the tale of the emperor's new clothes, it was a tale of a snobby emperor who hires a tailor to make him a new set of clothes. Unknown to the emperor, the tailor is a con man who devises the new suit with nothing. He convinces the emperor that only enlightened people can see the clothes. The emperor puts on the new suit and walks around in the public only to be embarrassed by a child who says, "The Emperor isn't wearing anything at all." "The End" is the suit of nothing, a con job.

a. No Questions Were Answered. Okay, they answered some minor questions but these were before the series finale. You found out that real Locke was dead and fake Locke was the Smoke Monster. But the big questions were not answered. What was the Dharma Initiative looking for? Why did pressing the buttons keep the electromagnetism in check? Why was the Man in Black transformed into the Smoke Monster and why wasn't Jack transformed? How did Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley survive the nuclear blast? And on and on....

But the biggest question was never answered. Charlie in the pilot asks, "Guys, where are we?" That question should be rephrased to, "What is the Island? If show creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had answered this question even in broad terms, the series finale may have been great. But no. This question was cast aside so we could waste time in Sideways World. In fact they had plenty of time to answer this question in season six.

Why is this question so important to the show? It's similar to the Star Trek Original Series episode, "Shore Leave." In that show bizarre things happen to the crew on a planet, like appearances out of nowhere of old girlfriends, giant rabbits, knights in armor etc. Now if that show ended without telling you why that stuff was happening you would have disaster in story telling. No conclusion. Fortunately, we're told the planet is an amusement park. The big hook in Lost is that our castaways have crashed on mysterious island. Weird things happen. And they don't explain it to you at anytime. That's not a resolution. It's just lazy writing because you could throw anything at the audience and have no responsibility to explain it. For example, on Jimmy Kimmel's wrap up show, Terry O'Quinn reveals that during season five, he did not know he was the Smoke Monster. Significant, because you must give the actor the motivation to play the part even if his motivation is supposed to be hidden. Watch his comment.

Now, I know in the sixth season episode, "Ab Aeterno" Jacob says the Island is like a cork in a bottle holding evil from the world. And we know the Man in Black aka Smoke Monster is evil and wants to leave the Island. But there's no explanation why his departure is so detrimental to the world. No explanation how Man in Black became Smoke Monster by entering the cave with the light or why Jack doesn't become a Smoke Monster when he entered the cave. There's no explanation how the castaways survive a nuclear blast, how Locke is cured of his paralysis, etc. Now, if the Island were a different plane of existence in Hindu terms, then I can accept all the bizarre stuff without explanation but according to Michael Emerson on G4's "Attack of the Show" he says the Island was real.

If they don't give you much of any answers, why should we care? The answer to this question is that you shouldn't. There's no purpose. I know I don't care anymore.

b. The "Sideways" World. This was the biggest con job of all of television. And it actually goes back further with all the science fiction ideas hinted through seasons one through six. Electromagnetism. Wormholes. Time travel. You see at the end of season five, Juliet detonates the nuclear bomb in 1977 to blow up the Island so the castaways never crash on it in 2004, that's assuming you can change the future rather than create an alternate timeline. But all that cool science fiction stuff were just a bunch of red herrings.

We flash to 2007? Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Juliet are still alive though Juliet is clinging to life. After Juliet dies, her ghost tells Miles that the plan to reboot the future worked. There is a flash sideways where the castaways are on the plane and it safely lands in Los Angeles. This Sideways World is actually a better place for some of the castaways. Jack reconciles with his son and is content. Ben finds redemption as a history teacher. John seems is happy and engaged to Helen. (Katey Sagal)

Is this like the film Star Trek (2009), where they've created an alternate timeline? Will our castaways remember the other timeline on the Island like Guinan in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Yesterday's Enterprise?" Nope. IT'S A BIG CON JOB. THE WRITERS HAVE PSYCHED YOU OUT. Sideways World is kind of a purgatory.

It's really a bad idea to introduce this concept in the last season of this show. Why? The writers should be answering many of the questions that they've heaped on the audience for the last freaking five years. Instead, they heap more questions in Sideways World. Why is Clare pregnant, if this is purgatory? For that matter why does it matter that Sun is pregnant? What makes Desmond the link between Sideways World and the Island? Why can't the castaways remember their Island life? After all, it's purgatory.

c. The Contrived Ending. Sideways World is just one big excuse to get all the characters together for one big saccharine happy ending. At the church, Jack's father explains the rules of Sideways World. Time has no meaning. So Hurley who will die after Jack can meet Jack in Sideways World. How convenient. Sideways World is a place that the castaways made together so they could find one another. Again, convenient so the writers could get everyone together in the church for the big saccharine ending. Oh by the way, where was Helen? I guess they couldn't afford Katey Sagal for this scene. It all reminds me of that scene in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) where Robert Downey Jr.'s character looks at the camera and states he's going to bring back dead characters from the movie to create a Hollywood happy ending. The writers are so afraid of a downer of an ending that when Jack dies on the Island, he can't even die alone. Vincent, the yellow lab, must lie down next to Jack and comfort him before he passes on.

Another problem with Sideways World is that it is now a complete departure from the science fiction elements of the show. Now, we are being hammered with New Age religious crap. it' a part of the huge jolt of plot direction from "Across the Sea" to "The End." It comes out of nowhere and is forced.

Before you say that I am just being a killjoy, I love a happy ending just as much as anyone else. But this episode was forced and illogical. It would have been better if the show was about the Island being a purgatory where the castaways must complete certain tasks to move on. The next step would be Sideways World. And after they completed tasks there, they move onto another plane of existence. This Hinduesque view of the afterlife would be in harmony with the Hindu stuff of Dharma, Namaste, etc. But no. The Island is supposed to be real. So now, Sideways World is grafted clumsily on.

2. The Emperor Strikes Back. Let's talk about the Rabid Losties attack of the critics of the show. First, let me just say that I believe that Rabid Losties are so in love with the show that they refuse to look at season six with any objectivity for the fear of realizing that they've wasted six years of their lives watchingLost. By the way, I won't insult the Rabid Losties unlike many of them on the web who insult critics of the show as being stupid. I don't think you're dumb at all, just smitten. With that, let's go over the Rabid Losties' defenses.

1. "Lost is about the characters and the Island is irrelevant." This defense is used to deflect criticism that the writers refused to answer questions about the Island. Rabid Losties will not bother answering the mysteries because they can't and won't. That's because they are so in enraptured with the show, they don't care.

Okay, I love the characters too. But the hook of the show was that the castaways crashed on the Island. This was a scary place with a monster, electromagnetic energy, polar bears, etc. Any fan of the show was interested in the Island. The characters wondered where they were. The Island was part of their lives where as Michael Emerson says they had adventures.

If it was just about the characters and the Island was irrelevant then why have an Island? You could made this into a standard drama, have the characters talk about their past lives and flashback that way. The reason there was an Island is that the Island presented the characters with the chance of redemption since many of their lives were deeply flawed. By the way, I'm not going to theorize why it's important to the Island that the castaways be redeemed since the writers didn't explain it.

2. "There's no need for answers since you bring your own interpretation to Lost". I have never seen this defense uttered until I saw Jimmy Kimmel's wrap up special. It came from actor Matthew Fox as Kimmel tries to make sense of show and the series. By the way, Kimmel's theory is very plausible. Here's the clip.

As I have said, I've been a fan of the show. So, I read what writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof say in interviews. I have never heard them say to the audience you must bring your own interpretation to the show. For example, one of the last articles to address the mysteries was the Feb. 5, 2010 issue of Entertainment Weekly. The writers did not hint that you should bring your own interpretation. I mean if that's the case, then they should have announced this concept way before the finale.

But what is really the problem? Film and scripted television are not interactive mediums. We're not talking about a video game. Say you're playing Grand Theft Auto IV. If you date a girl in the game, you can use your imagination in determining the depth of the relationship. There are some parameters but it's open enough for that personal fantasy. Scripted drama does not allow that freedom. That's because you as viewer cannot affect the events in the show. The writers have total control of the parameters. They control the events. Telling an audience that they should bring their own interpretation to the drama is a total cop out. By doing so, the writer can do anything lame, leave mysteries with no resolution all under the guise that the audience should interpret it in their own way. That's just plain lazy.

3. Conclusion. Bad finales don't stop me from watching a series over. I still enjoy the X-Files seasons one through five. In film, I love Alien and Aliens but hate the other Alien movies. I can't say that I will enjoy Lost in any capacity. The way the writers treated the Island and the castaways makes it meaningless to me. If the Island is not relevant to the characters then it's not relevant to me.

One last thing. I fear for Star Trek 2. Damon Lindelof is listed as a producer. Star Trek (2009) was a fun but shallow movie. Memo to Bad Robot. Please turn the project to legitimate science fiction writers. Star Trek is not Star Wars. Star Trek has stood for great science fiction for over forty years. Respect the franchise.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Get Him to the Greek Review

What would summer be without a Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin) movie? Well, fear not, Judd Apatow has produced "Get Him to the Greek" and it's a blast. Credit must be given to director-writer Nicholas Stoller and writer Jason Segel but it's another funny movie that Apatow has had a hand in developing. I just saw Apatow on Bill Maher's Real Time and he was a riot. So feel confident with any Apatow project you're going to get something funny.

Get Him to the Greek is a spin-off from the 2008 movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Russell Brand reprises his role as aging English rocker Aldous Snow. Snow has just released the song and video for "African Child." In the video, he plays a white Jesus type character from outer space who is going to deliver Africans from their current poverty. If that doesn't sound bad enough, the song is piece of junk pop. The song tanks and critics call it the worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid. This also causes his relationship with his girlfriend and mother of his son, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) to deteriorate. Snow hits the skids hard with drugs.

Back in Los Angeles, Pinnacle Records head Sergio Roma (Sean "Diddy" Combs) is grilling his staff for ideas to increase record sales. Aaron Green, (Jonah Hill) a young executive, suggest that they bring Snow to the Greek Theater where he triumphed ten years earlier. Sergio thinks it's a great idea and dispatches Green to London to get him. Unfortunately for Green, Snow wants to party all the way back to Los Angeles.

The script features some very funny lines and hilarious songs. There are some very funny set pieces also. Jonah Hill as Green lacks the innocence to keep the story as interesting as I would like but he's good enough to play straight man to Brand's manic rocker. And what can I say about Sean Combs? Marry his bad boy rapper with some really crazy dialogue and you get a hilarious performance. The only problem I had with the film is the caution it had with all that debauchery. There's a scene where Green has "sex" with a hooker that could have been ratcheted up for more laughs. Eventually the filmmakers give a drugs are bad message which really saps the comic energy.

Get Him to the Greek doesn't disappoint. It's a funny movie. The grade is B.

Jon Stewart on South Carolina Racism

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show takes on Helen Thomas, Rush Limbaugh's wedding and those crazy racist Republicans in South Carolina. Here it is. It's a riot.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Splice Film Review

When I was a kid I remember seeing a movie called "The Collector." (1965) It was about a butterfly collector who kidnaps a young woman with tragic results. It unnerved me. I felt the same way after seeing "Splice" a film about genetic engineering. It's pertinent since scientists have now found a way to create a synthetic cell.

Splice starts out with genetic engineers Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrian Brody) creating new life for a pharmaceutical company. The creatures they create are protein blobs, the size of hamsters. The goal for their experiments is to create lifeforms that can produce hormones and cures. The company pressures them due to economic concerns and are about to close down their lab. That's when Elsa and Clive decide to forgo any thought of morality and inject human DNA into a created lifeform.

The creature named Dren (from nerd) starts out like a cute baby-eagle cross. It has wide large eyes and the filmmakers decided to compare its development to other babies across the world in a really cute documentary that's sure to get you to say, "Aaaaw." Okay, that's "Babies." Sorry. Baby Dren is a cute piece of CGI effects. As Dren rapidly ages, she is played by two female actresses. Dren begins to exhibit other animal traits. She has amphibian lungs. Later we see she has wings. She also has a nasty tail with a stinger that can inject venom. Don't' ask me how she gets these traits because the the film doesn't really explain it.

Dren (Delphine Chaneac) exhibits intelligence by matching objects, and spelling with Scrabble pieces. She also draws pictures. Unfortunately, her "parents" Clive and Elsa, are poor role models. That's rather obvious when they totally disregard any sense of scientific ethics to create a human hybrid. And Dren learns affection and cruelty from them.

Actress-director Sarah Polley (John Adams, The Weight of Water) is great as the ambitious and flawed Elsa. Adrian Brody gives a strong performance as a scientist in over his head. Delpine Chaneac conveys a tragic Dren who cannot overcome her animal instincts. Director Vincenzo Natali's direction and writing are tense, and melodramatic.

There are some intense, sick and disturbing scenes in Splice. But one can't walk away from it without thinking about the ethics of creating artificial life. I commend Dark Castle and Warner for releasing such a dark science fiction movie in the summer. I can't say that I had fun in the theater watching it but I can admire the skill and intelligence in making it. The grade is B+.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to End a TV Series

Today, I'm going to discuss how to end a TV series the right way. But one more last dig at Lost before I, um, let go. DabramahBull of YouTube had it right when he said you don't need the Island if the show was about Jack's life and move into Sideways World. Smoke monsters, curing paralysis and surviving a nuclear blast cannot happen in the real world unless there's something magical happening. By saying you can bring your interpretation into the drama is lazy writing. Did the creators really want us to do that? When did they hint at this? You watched the show because of the mystery the writers were throwing at you. At some point the audience must be told that the show is about anything you want. For example, if you play Grand Theft Auto and are dating a girl in the game, that's interactive and where it goes is left up to your imagination. There are no parameters set up by a writer. Six years of watching Lost, and what I got was a contrived and corny ending. SCREAM! (Add your favorite scream here.)

So, what's the best way to end a TV series? Well, that depends on the series. Some closure is needed if questions remain. And even if none remain, it's good to tell the audience that it's over. I don't appreciate big gigantic changes. That's not because of the possibility of reviving the show in another format. But if you make big changes, then rest of the series becomes irrelevant. I appreciate St. Elsewhere's avant garde ending but now the show is useless since it was all in a child's snow globe. You can also make the argument for film sequels. Alien 3's premise killed the great Aliens which I believe the film series should end on. Finally, keep within the themes of the series for the final show.

Here are two great series finales. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Cheers. In ST:TNG, the final episode is symmetrical to the pilot. Q, a superbeing alien, tests Captain Picard in the past, present and the future. Picard must repair a rip in space time continuum or else man will cease to exist. Seven years before, Q in the pilot also tested Picard because he was human and didn't trust humans to explore space. Of course, Picard succeeds in fixing the rip in the space time coninuum because I'm here blogging! After succeeding Q and Picard have a thought provoking discussion. The final scenes are of Picard playing poker with the crew. Cut to the Enterprise heading towards a dazzling nebula. Check it out.

Cheers ended with Sam in the bar with the one thing he loves. It's not the bar. It's the community formed within the bar. Funny. Profound. Great last line for the series. "Sorry, we're closed", he says to a customer. Someone posted it on YouTube.

If you want great television go buy Star Trek (all series) pre-Abrams or Cheers.