Thursday, May 27, 2010


... and the livin' is easy...

With last night's Idol finale (and whatever other programming was on), the regular 2009-'10 season is a thing of the past.

I have little to no interest in the ratings of summer repeats and the schedule is full of them. I will continue to post final ratings for broadcast series in originals (i.e. So You Think You Can Dance), and for cable, but will not be posting final ratings for reruns.

In the meantime, continue to check here for pilot script reviewlets (I only have CBS's busted pilots to get through), for full pilot screener reviews throughout the summer, and for other TV thoughts (planning a little season in review post, mostly focused on the new series and the canceled/ended series). I also have some thoughts on Idol (I truly believe the reports of its demise to be unfounded, but I'm open to being proved wrong) to get to.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen: The Lost Finale

Yeah, yeah, I'm not the first - or last - person to reference the M*A*S*H finale title with regards to the Lost finale. Funny how much it fits though, now having seen the finale. There are more thoughts than I can adequately express in a single post without rambling on, but first...

Lost, it turns out, was a great television show. It wasn't perfect. Far from it. But it was something magical. And we're not likely to see anything remotely like it, that's allowed to come to completion (if not with full explanation) on its own terms ever, ever again in a visual medium. And, unlike certain other finales for science-fiction character dramas that ended with a rumination on faith... this finale, for all the series' failings, was eminently satisfying and one that, in time, will be more and more cherished, and the flaws that were more inherent to the rest of the series than to the finale itself will matter less. My opinion has already improved drastically overnight.

So, WTF am I talking about re flaws? I still have a lot of issues with the "sideways" universe. I think that we spent too much time there in season six for what it wound up being - a love letter, way to remind us of (many of, not all of) the characters we loved throughout the series, and to give each and every one of them a happy ending in one way or anything. We could have spent time on the Island getting more "satisfying" or detailed answers to things that, it seemed at the time, mattered. Or at the very least dealing with that infuriating Temple plotline in a different way.

Granted, it would've been way too quick/sloppy/convenient for the "sideways" universe to be tied into the Island universe in just the finale, but didn't it seem throughout the season that's what was supposed to happen? Expect the unexpected... as it was the Island lives and memories - and deaths - that tied back into the "sideways" universe. Until the very end with Christian Shephard's explanation, I had thought, maybe, the "sideways" universe was based on Hurley's new "rules" as Island protector, but all the mythology stuff kind of fell by the wayside (something I really don't know if I want to tackle here).

But this was a show, ultimately, about faith. Not about an H-bomb creating a parallel timeline with odd little differences that made all the difference. Funny how the premiere and finale of the season season kind of say it all about Lost, as a whole: "Man of Science, Man of Faith" and "Live Together, Die Alone." The show asked us to believe and, even if the characters did die alone as some/many certainly did, they lived together... and they found a way to continue to exist together.

Yeah, it's a little saccharine/schmaltz, but you'll forget that in a year and you'll just be happy for the characters.

You'll wonder about the lives of Lapidus, Miles, Richard (who was not in the church or any sideways flash, so is he still immortal?), Kate, Sawyer, and Claire off the Island. You'll think about Desmond returning home to Penny. You'll think of all the years Hurley and Ben, a most unwitting duo, will spend as Island protectors. That's plenty to hold onto in the "real" world of the Island universe.

So, more about the finale. I was kind of shocked at how funny it was. Hurley, of course, got some jokes in. The laughability of the name "Christian Shephard" was, at long last, mentioned. Sun and Jin had a great laugh at an unawakened Juliet's... not expense, but at her something. Also Ben getting hit in the face one last time was brilliant (especially after the montage in the recap... ROFLMAO).

And, good lord, but there was emotion, even putting aside the "sideways" universe machinations.

And the final final moments, Jack in the bamboo forest closing his eyes after seeing the plane fly away overhead... poetry. Symmetry. Perhaps on the nose / the obvious choice, but whatever.

Okay. I can't resist. I can't talk about the finale without talking about the failing of the mythology. Which, in ways, wasn't a failing intrinsically, but in how it was built up for our characters and in our minds as viewers. All of which, in a cruel way, is appropriate in a show about the human condition, fate and coincidence, faith and believe and free will and... anyway. Themes. We all know Lost had them.

Jacob was kind of a douche, wasn't he? And, yes, it was Mother's fault. And, no, the discovery of all / any of this doesn't improve "Across the Sea" for me (I have not come around on that episode, don't think I ever will... it introduces the magic glowy cave, which was necessary for The End to happen, but... ugh, bile). The reason no one could leave the Island? Jacob said so, and it's because, though immortal-ish (somehow, even though we didn't really get a full sense of why unless that, too, was one of his "rules") he was human. And he was brought up to hate and fear humanity. He was flawed, while we, for seasons, were led to believe he was something more than human. He wasn't.

So, with Jacob dead, this whole season... his rules were still in place until the next protector was chosen (unless all his candidates died). So Smokey still couldn't leave. Then Jack became the Protector at the end of "What They Died For." But things don't really seem to change. Smokey is still invulnerable to bullets (even if he doesn't become Smokey in this episode) until Desmond turns the light out in the glowy cave / catacomb / drain / whatever (seriously, could've used some more detail / build up on that, since there's clearly much more info to get, what with the construction inside and the skeletons and the... UGH, DAMN YOU LOST). I thought we might get to see Jack's "rules" for the Island and what difference they made, but that doesn't play a part.

I still don't understand why Smokey was "locked" in Locke's body this whole season. We were told that. But there is no explanation. And then, once the light goes out, he doesn't transform into the monster. And he's vulnerable to, y'know, everything. From punches to bullets to cliff-falls. Don't fully understand that. But, like many things in Lost dealing with mythology... that's the way it is. It's confusing. It's not explained. But if we see it... we are asked to believe it. It is always better to show rather than tell. And by showing that Smokey was vulnerable after the lights go out... we understand it. We don't NEED to be told it. Which is what pisses me off about him being trapped in Locke's body. We were TOLD that and it was just confusing.

But it also wasn't part of the finale.

Neither, really, were Lost's most infuriatingly open-ended questions... which in my mind revolve entirely around the Dharma Initiative and the Others. Around season two and season three, before the endgame was really in place, when the writers came up with cool shit without any knowledge of when they'd have to explain themselves. Sure there's mythology stuff from later seasons that went unresolved, too. And that's annoying. But it's not a problem in and of the finale itself. So while I have residual feelings about the series' mysteries... I don't fault the finale for it.

Because y'know what got resolved in the finale?

The character stuff. It did. It really did.

And Lost was a show about people trapped on a really fucking weird island. It was a show about people. And it ended as a show about people.

I went into the finale dreading it. For all those things it didn't answer... I woke today and didn't care as much as I had when I went to sleep. And I'm not saying that's how you have to feel or how you are supposed to feel. But it's how I feel. It was time to let Lost go.

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Posting to Resume Soon

I've finished the FOX drama scripts, so will be posting a review laundry list of those. Not, in fact, sure that I'll be doing full reviews for anything at this point, since screeners are coming in and I'd prefer to do full reviews of those. Speaking of, I received a bunch of ABC screeners (some picked up comedies, some picked up dramas, some busted dramas) and will be posting reviews for those soon... in the meantime, check out my Twitter feed for brief thoughts.

I'll also be posting some thoughts on the announced line-ups for fall at some point, though may wait until TCAs (when schedules change) and to have seen more screeners to really weigh in with my two cents.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pilot Script Review - ABC Pilots

As I tweeted, I've been trying to speed through the reading of the remaining pilot scripts and, while fuller reviews are coming, I'm going to try and go, net by net (as I finish each net's scripts - thankfully I've already done CW!), and say what I liked, what I'm neutral about for any number of reasons, and what I didn't like. I'll give some brief explanation, but, again, a fuller review is forthcoming (likely over the summer when I'm not so pressed for time). I've tried as hard as I can to not let any casting knowledge bleed into my head while reading or forming an opinion, though in ABC's case there was definitely one piece of casting I was unable to block out (and it definitely helped my read because I could hear the actress's voice loud and clear in the dialogue). Groups will be listed in alphabetical order, not by preference.

Also. With one exception (Boston's Finest) the scripts I read were earlier drafts (I read the final shooting draft of Boston's Finest). Things are subject to change even before filming began so nothing said here in my script reviewlets necessarily means anything when it comes to what gets picked up to series. Because, y'know, what really matters is what shows up and what plays on screen.

One overall positive thing: ABC is returning to a 5 act structure after years in the land of 6 act. As a writer, it makes me thrilled because it means one less major twist / act break to deal with and more time to play out character moments instead of burning through story and a breakneck speed to get to the next climactic act break. For the viewer... one less commercial pod (though the commercial pods will likely be longer now). I say it's a win.

- Body of Proof (fka Body of Evidence) - Here's the one I couldn't block out the casting. I heard Dana Delany in my head as Dr. Megan Hunt. And, in my head, SHE NAILED IT. Body of Proof exists somewhere between House, as Delany's character is brilliant and quite the ball buster (and there's a spit-take inducing joke about ball cutters in the script that I pray plays), and Bones, as Delany's character works with dead bodies to identify the how/why of murder victims.
- Cutthroat - Great pilot script. The lead character, Nina, goes through quite an awakening. But it's a pilot that does A LOT. And you know how wary I get about those kinds of pilots when it comes to a series. I suspect this will be a really good pilot that won't make it to series in lieu of something crappier and more mundane and will leave all who see the screener scratching their heads.
- No Ordinary Family - I heart superheroes. I heart genre material. And while this pilot is going to be heavily rewritten from the version I read (which was Greg Berlanti & Jon Feldman) as Marc Guggenheim took over for Feldman and, certainly, did a ton of rewriting when ABC had Feldman focus on True Blue... I enjoyed it. It's a light, 8pm, family show. Is it The Incredibles but live action? Not even close (I REALLY heart The Incredibles). But it's definitely a show that I would tune into every week, regardless of the sillier / campier moments. The pervasive voiceover throughout from both Jim and Stephanie (the recently empowered married couple) has GOT to be cut down, though.

- 187 Detroit - It's a good cop show set in a town I think hasn't seen a cop show in recent TV memory. But the faux documentary thing? So played. Such a gimmick and nothing really interesting is done with it except having a character get pissed at the existence of the documentary camera crew. But... good, gritty cop show. A bit like Southland.
- Edgar Floats - This is the kind of show ABC loves to pick up and critics heap praise on and then audiences ignore. So I'm steeling myself with a neutral opinion of the script because... it fits into the Eli Stone / Pushing Daisies-ish template with its incredibly quirky and silly tone. Honestly, I was surprised that Bryan Fuller hadn't written it. We'll see how it comes out on screen. Could be awesome. Could be a disaster. And even if it's awesome, again, history shows that it's the kind of thing audiences won't stomach for long.
- Generation Y - Another faux documentary, this time along the lines of "Seven Up" following a set of high schoolers in 2000 and then again, seeing what's changed, in 2010. At least it's doing something different with the faux documentary thing (though I'm not sure how I feel about the voice of the filmmaker pushing characters along). This is a multi-character serial show and, as such, I am more lenient on it than on a pure procedural simply because it takes time to build this number of characters into unique individuals and fully flesh people out. Often it takes a number of episodes (both Brothers & Sisters and Parenthood took a few to really sort their characters out). Already I'm worried about a Parenthood-ish plot (woman a guy slept with 10 years ago wants to introduce him to his son that he never knew she gave birth to). But I'm already really on board with the Kenneth character, one of the most instantly pitiable and likable characters I've read this season.
- Matadors - Easily ABC's better legal show, from a script POV. Romeo & Juliet in the world of two big Chicago lawyer families (one the State's Attorney, the other a high profile defense attorney). Which could play REALLY arch and campy on screen. Just saying. Also the title, while explained in the pilot, doesn't reach out and grab you and say "lawyer show," does it?
- True Blue - Very dark and dreary in tone, but it fully delivers on what it promises: a primetime soap opera set around a group of friends in the San Francisco PD (and one who used to be and then became the DA). And, oh my, is there a ton of soap going on. The police / procedural side isn't horrible, but the pilot is saddled with solving the murder of one of the members of this group of friends (and thus bringing them all back together after years of drifting... yeah, can you see how it might get dreary?)

- Boston's Finest - At times misogynistic (how many times does the mysterious man really have to save our imperiled female detective in one pilot), but most of the time awash in a sea of cliché. Pass.
- Off the Map - A medical show from Shonda Rhimes' production company. How shocking. I *loved* the pilot for Inside the Box last year, so it's not like without Shonda actually doing the writing, I'd write it off, but this... oh, wow, it's kind of a mess. It's too similar to early Grey's Anatomy in the archetypal set-ups of the main characters with the selling point / hook / key difference being the location of the doctors and hospital - miles from civilization in a South American jungle. It's just not enough to grab me, as the characters never really got beyond shades of early Meredith (and at times Lexie) Grey, Cristina Yang, Alex Karev, and Derek Shepherd. Also, if I ever read the verb "medicals" (as in "he medicals the patient") or the gerund "medicalling" again it'll be too soon.
- The Whole Truth - The weaker (by far) of ABC's lawyer shows. Teaser: the crime has happened! And our defense attorney is one the case! But so is the DA! Which side will win? Act one follows the DA. Act two the defense team (skipping back a little in time and playing it all out, rather than running both POVs concurrently). Then everything else plays out. I couldn't tell you if there was a single character in this pilot, because none made any impression on me. If I cared for only one of the leads (either the defense or the DA), that would be a problem because I'd be actively rooting for them. But I didn't care for either. They had no personal investment and there were no stakes... except the curiosity of whether the person accused of a murder was guilty. I'd prefer to care for both sides (the attorneys, as well as accused and victim), but I cared for no one and nothing. And for a show called "The Whole Truth," it certainly didn't get at even a half truth. The case may be over, but for whatever reason, neither side of the aisle actually figured out what happened, as we are shown the true culprit in the final moments.