Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost - This isn't who it would be if it wasn't who it is


Fantastic episode (and i mean really fantastic) that began to tie a great deal of this season together. Faraday's return to the island triggers a series of events that well.. it's Lost, with every answer comes more questions. HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD!

The key theme in this season has been motives. Specifically, what has driven the characters to/ back to the island? Tonight we get both with background on the enigmatic Daniel Faraday, or as Sawyer calls him "twitchy" or "HG Wells." When Faraday sees a picture of the Oceanic crew also in the past as part of the Dharma folks he subs it back to the island to save them all. Faraday's mother has been the driving force in his quest to discover time travel and the island has been her motivation for him the whole time.

Daniel's motivation is to stop basically the entire history of Lost's storyline. Stop energy release, stop hatch from being built, stop the pushing of the button, stop Desmond from failing, stop the plane crash and stop his crew from finding the island. Big task changing the future. Not for me of course. I do it all the time. But for regular folks like yourself I can imagine it seems daunting.

We also find out that Daniel's demise came from his in-the-past-mother's itchy trigger finger. Her motivation for sending him back to the island now, on the surface, appears a bit selfish. But I would argue that she sent Daniel back to the island as the one person in the world with the brains and know-how to actually alter her original bad decision and save the group from ever having to leave the island. I would like to believe that she sent him back, not to die at the hands of fate, but rather to literally change the world. She miscalculated and time chugs along with deadly results. The island is just too damn powerful. Oh and by the way, Farraday is Whitmore's son. WHAAAA???!!!!

Mrs. Channelup moaned that Lost will probably end with the whole crew stepping on to the original Oceanic flight and having it land safely in LA. This would make Lost just one long dream sequence. Please don't let this happen! It would be like the Newhart finale but 1 trillion times worse.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sit Down , Shut Up - Fox already f%&@ing with a good thing


I do not understand Fox. No station is quicker to move, mis-promote, not promote or f$%@ with. After one episode the powers that be already moved Sit Down, Shut Up's timeslot. Much in the same way Fox ruined Arrested Development (one of the funniest shows of the last decade)by rearranging its broadcast time, they seem intent on doing the same thing here. Arrgghh.

Okay I got that out of my system and Hulu'ed the latest episode. Miracle feeds the entire teaching staff hemlock. Not a great move from the science teacher. The staffs medical bills force the school to hold its ill-fated Fair.

I get the sense that the writers of this show (many the same from Arrested Development) are having fun with the animated medium. They take advantage of things like dream sequences, thought bubbles and quick movements. Things they probably wish they could have done on Arrested Development. The character banter is almost exactly the same as AD but the visuals offer something totally new. I particularly liked the censoring of Miracle's animated jugs. Just cracked me up for whatever reason. (second favorite was the prison clown singing telegram).
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American Idol - Jamie helps the Top 5 drag 5 songs out over one hour


I have to be honest. My attention was not totally in the Top 5 at the onset. Mrs. Channelup was out for dinner with her sister. I had the Red Sox game going on the computer, the Yankees and Mets games just a click away and was monitoring my fantasy baseball team. Notice a theme here? My focus was drifting until Jamie Foxx came out as the celebrity mentor. Nice job Idol. Nice job.

I got legit excited. Jamie Foxx is one of the few entertainers that, to me, can seemingly do no wrong. On In Living Color he was awesome, great in action movies, transcending as Ray Charles, and even though I don't particularly care for his music, I can't deny he has crazy talent. He also came across as a great mentor. Unlike other celebrities (Tarantino) Foxx appeared to be as excited as the contestants in coming up with strategies for quality performances.

That being said. This was an hour long show with 5 songs. From a programming standpoint that is simply not acceptable. This episode featured unending commercial breaks and I wish I had been watching it on DVR. I know the top 5 is an awkward number but they had to have figured some other way to get more songs or less commercials in this broadcast. What a shame. A shame because the performances tonight were amazing one right after the next.

If I had to give out grades they would look something like this

Kris - A
Alison - A
Matt - B
Kara - F (this hipster ghetto thing she does for certain contestants is nauseating)
Danny - A
Adam - A (I cant write anymore about this guy than I already have but I will say one more thing here. Either he is trying way harder than all the other contestants or the band is, or the producers are. Whatever way you slice it, his performances are a notch above)

Performance-wise this was a stellar night. One great performance after another. The rat pack theme seemed less awkward than things like Disco Night and all the contestants seemed to thrive. Jamie Foxx gave excellent insight into each performer and the judges even contained in their caddiness. All in all a great talent night of Idol dampened only by the general programming issues.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

24 - Jack misses President Palmer. So do I


I'd be lying if I said I had my full attention on 24 tonight. I had the Red Sox game on simultaneously. The reason I'm not afraid to say that is because President Taylor runs such a wishy-washy Presidency that no one could ever be scared of anything under her administration. Her lack of leadership has led to a domestic terrorist group run amok.

Jack lets Bad News Tim and President Incompetent know that Tony has the canister of nastiness. She can't believe it. How can she be surprised about anything anymore? If I were her, Jack could tell me Bigfoot just attacked the White House working under the direction of the Loch Ness monster and I wouldn't be shocked. President Taylor has been legitimately surprised with every single development throughout the day. This lack of forward thinking makes her a terrible President. That and she has cried multiple times in the last 24 hours. Would President David Palmer, God rest his soul, ever have cried in the face of distress? Never. And that is why State Farm uses him as a figurehead. He is still so presidential.

We also learn a little more about the group running this whole terror fiasco. The group is a bunch of people sitting around mohageny desks talking through an encrypted chat room. The group is lead by the coach from Remember the Titans. They are planning on using the canister to create civil unrest in order to seize control on the government. Sidenote here: If you were planning on taking over the government, how would you start? I don't know either. I wouldn't know the first thing to do. Who would I call? Would I start like an internet group or something? Maybe find a message board? These guys and gals all got together anonymously and hatched a multi-dimensional plot with hundreds of players. Kudos.

The Geek Squad is hard at work in FBI headquarters with Janeane Garofalo bitching and moaning about government protocols when Jack, hearing my own inner monologue I guess, references President Palmer twice. He is either really losing it or just pining for the good old days. We all are Jack. We all are.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Some really late, really quick Office thoughts

You knew the great Michael Scott could never be fired. You knew that right? We all knew that. He is too radical. His rag-tag group of over/under-achieving salespeople managed to parlay a shit business into a literal Scranton goldmine.

A legitimately great episode playing on all of our expectations by making Charles the zero and Jim the hero. It is about time. The "Jim as the slacker bad guy" bullshit was getting a bit old for me. When he literally showed Charles the door Mrs. Channelup and I gave a little cheer for all the good guys out there.

The negotiation scene symbolized everything I think is great about Michael's character. He is a master salesman: that is for sure. What he usually lacks are the subtleties. Tonight he lacked nothing. He did every single thing right. One thing The Office has been consistent with is when Michael's back is against the wall: he steps up in big ways. And we finally understood everything about the wiki entry on negotiations Michael had memorized in the past. I was feeling a bit of pride for him. .
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

A New Channelup member

Mr. Channelup's sister had a baby tonight. No tv watching allowed in the hospital. I agree, totally unfair. Kid is awesome though. Will return this weekend with some Office, Parks and Recreation and Southland highlights and insight. And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

American Idol - Why I don't watch the vote-off (and my longest post yet)


Thanks to Lost airing some sort of recap (ratings grab) the Channelup house was forced to watch the Idol vote-off. I have successfully avoided these all year. Tonight confirmed that I haven't been missing much. What a disaster. (Spoilers ahead)

Many many many many awkward moments in this. The disco-dance/ medley-Paula Abdul-choreographed mess was tough to watch. The contestants looked like idiots, the dancing was terrible, the music worse but I grinned and bared it. Highlight of this whole thing was Matt Giraud "being surprised" to find out he could download his own songs as a ringtone on his Blackberry. WHHAAA?!! Is this the future or something? Phones can play songs?! I suppose next you'll be telling me they can take videos or something crazy like that? Idol is always ahead of the technological curve.

Then Lil Rounds gets voted off and sings fantastically. I kind of wonder if the nerves just never left her all season. She always seemed to under perform for no apparent reason. Then she comes on tonight, when the pressure is off and crushes it. No one in the competition had more to gain from a huge record contract than Lil. She is the only one with a family. I hope she lands somewhere.

Then Idol brings out some random awful singer no has ever heard of to sing a song no one has ever heard. Not to be out done the producers decided to then double down on the first ill advised bet by bringing out another no name to sing another crappy song. Paula looked like she superglued her face into a smile just in case the camera focused on her (which it did). I wonder how much coaching the crowd needed before these performances. I have been to a couple of television tapings and at each one a low level producer comes out to basically beg the crowd for enthusiasm. They must have threatened lives or taken loved ones hostage tonight in order to get the kind of reaction elicited from the group.

I need to stop here for a second and let you know a little bit about how I write. I watch the show and sort of take notes, free write and then clean it up when the show is over. The paragraph above I wrote during the live disco performances. By the time KC and the Sunshine Band hit the stage I was out of ways to write the words "awkward" or "terrible." At this point it doesn't even pay to try and keep up with the inexplicable decisions made by Idol producers in terms of this show. I will sum it up by saying that Mrs. Channelup buried herself in a blanket so she didn't need to watch anymore.

But then my knight in shining armor David Archuleta (requisite screams and squeals!!!!) performed. Archuleta is one of my all-time favorite contestants. He just seemed genuine. I didn't love the song he sang tonight, but who cares. Archuleta is awesome. He may be the most unlikely famous singer ever. Not from talent but he just looks like a little excited kid just happy to be on stage.

The final two tonight were Anoop and Alison. Anoop goes home and also sounds great as he leaves. Disappointed for Anoop but it was probably the right decision as I cannot see him winning. If anything, he stuck around way longer than expected.

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Lost - The Cop Out Retrospective


Last week Mrs. Channelup and I cursed when the scenes for this week's Lost told us tonight's episode would be a "Lost Special." We hate these recap episodes. Everyone does right?

We immediately turned it off although if any show could benefit from a look back like this, it's Lost. With so many characters, plot lines, twists, turns and history I can see how the less intelligent would have a problem following the action. Not me, I'm a genius. I understand everything and basically have the ending figured out already. I don't want to ruin it, but when the series is over I will tell you if I was right. For those with lower IQs I hope you enjoyed tonight's "episode."
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol - After the Save (The Adam Show)


Matt got saved last week which had all the suspense of reading the dictionary. Tonight the producers chose everyone's favorite genre of music: disco! I wish we could vote off the idea people for Idol.

As stated last week: there is Adam Lambert and everyone else trails by a pretty wide margin. That isn't necessarily a knock against the other performers. Some of them are really, really good and in another season would be front runners. Unfortunately they got lumped in with an actual juggernaut of talent. Adam slayed it again tonight and proved that he could hit the big time very very soon after the ridiculous cash grab called "The Idol Tour."

Most of the performances were above par tonight. Fairly predictable (isn't all disco?), but really good. Besides Adam, I think two performers stood out tonight. Kris Allen was clearly out in front of the rest of the crew with his song choice and arrangement. His version of "She Works Hard for the Money" sounded like a song off a Jason Mraz album. From me, that is an enormous compliment. I also thought Matt Giraud did himself a great service with his performance tonight. Songs like he did tonight are right in his wheelhouse.

My judge of the night goes to (and I may get struck down by lightening for saying this) Paula. She was absolutely on point tonight. I don't know if she had her comments prewritten, but her department store analogy and bowling comparison to Kris and Matt respectively were witty and applicable. Man I can't believe I just wrote that last paragraph. I must be really tired or something.

I think it is the end of the line for Lil Rounds and Anoop tomorrow night. America has gotten the vote offs right this year and I think these two are goners.
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24 - The move to the Big Apple


With the word that next year 24 heads to New York City I can’t help but think a few things. One, this is probably the best setting for a format like 24. Being in such close proximity to so many major landmarks and places of cultural reference should make the season visually impressive. 24 incorporated a number of different Washington, DC landmarks this season and worked them seamlessly into the story. But what really strikes me about this location announcement is what it means to us as Americans.
Continue reading this story at cinemablend television.
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Sit Down, Shut Up - A cartoon I can get behind


Jason Bateman, Will Arnet, Cheri Oteri, Will Forte and Kenan Thompson in cartoon form? Sign me the f$%@ up. This animated series combines my three favorite things: the brain trust behind Arrested Development, pissed off/loser teachers and envelope-pushing comedy. In other words - Hilarious.

Sit Down, Shut Up
is adapted by Michael Hurwitz (Arrested Development) from the Australian series of the same name. It follows a group of neurotic, self-absorbed, incompetent teachers and administrators through their lives in a high school (mascot: the Baiters). The group includes a pornography obsessed German teacher, a God loving- Evolution hating science teacher, a bisexual technology teacher, a grim reaper- like librarian, and an ego maniacal english teacher, among others.

The faculty want to do everything except teach. They take steroids, start hunger strikes, dig for money, and hide in the locker rooms to spy on the cute boys. Sounds like my high school.

What I loved about this show was the Arrested Development type humor in animated form. The jokes are often so obvious you miss them or are so in your face you think, "man I could have written that." Only you couldn't have and therein lies the genius. It is not easy to write an obvious joke and make it laugh out loud funny. Hurwitz and crew can and do. Mrs. Channelup put it great when she said, "I want this show to do well just because Arrested Development got screwed." Agreed.

Animated series are hit or miss. (This is half animated as the characters are cartoons but the backdrops are still photos). Cartoons need to bring it comedically because they can't rely on an actor or actress to carry them through sheer charisma. Sit Down, Shut Up hits the bullseye. I haven't watched the Simpsons in years and I catch Family Guy when I can, but I will make a point to keep this show in the queue as I can only see it getting funnier and funnier.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

24 - Get that canister!


This episode comes fresh off the news that next year Jack will spend a day in the Big Apple. Frankly I am amazed it took until this season to just get Jack out of LA. I wonder how much of not bringing Jack to NYC until now was spurred by September 11th and the images it conjures. At the same time, 24's popularity is aided by the terrorist alert level we have been on since 9/11.

I think we are sufficiently removed from September 11th that having a terrorist plot to further destroy New York is something 24 can explore well. This season has benefited from being in a new city and I suspect next year the plot will use the city that never sleeps in new and creative ways. I am looking forward to it and will write a more detailed piece on this before the end of the week.

Well Jonas Hodges is in jail. Jack has the boogey woogey flu (from a bio-terrorist weapon). Agent Moss is dead. And Tony is a bad guy again.

Jonas Hodges was a man with a plan. Now he is just a man who is asked to kill himself in order to protect the secret, mysterious and powerful group he represents. This group promises to protect the Hodges family if Jonas agrees to an easily little suicide. Jonas happily obliges, thus almost killing off one of the great, all time (he's still alive) 24 characters.

Tony has been playing the FBI like fiddles this whole season. He has an operative in possession of the canister of nastiness and is trying to get him to safety. See Tony works for the same group as Hodges. He tries to take down the FBI strike team, but Jack figures out the plan a split second ahead of time. Jack's arms and legs might not be working right, but the poison hasn't effected the terrorist fighting part of his brain. Jack's sickness is getting worse, but the man is nothing if not dedicated. I would have checked out a long time ago.

Jack finds Renee. Tony finds the canister. And then it dawns on Jack. It's Tony! But damn that nasty little toxin. It incapacitates him and Tony has the cure. This scene was a great one of one-upmanship where Tony takes the cake (and the weapon). Its not looking good for Jack but I am sure bleached blond Kim will come to the rescue here.

I am most intrigued by the secret group running this day of terror. My buddy Mike who covers 24 for CinemaBlend thinks it is run by ex-President Daniels. I am 100% on board with this theory and will now use it as my own. Not many hours left!

Sidenote: I love the 24 characters coming on during commercial breaks and warning us about climate change. Maybe that is who Jack is fighting next season. The Earth is warming! Only Jack Bauer can stop it!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Southland - A precinct without names


Do I get Southland? Yes. Am I impressed with the amount of story the writers have taken on? Yes. Do I enjoy the characters? Yes. Do I like the show? I think so.

Recapping or summing up this show would be tedious, boring and nearly impossible as the show's manic nature jumps from character to character and story to story with alarming speed. Even when they keep with the same plot line the scene changes happen frequently. I like this because the show does not get boring, but alternately makes the action difficult to follow.

Additionally, the characters all seem deep, troubled and real. But I don't know any of their names. Is that a bad thing? I am not sure especially considering Southland appears as much a documentary as it does a drama. The shaky screen and odd camera angles give it a real feel. Having the cops act more like law enforcement and less like scripted characters contribute to this effect. Giving the officers real problems like punk kids, affairs and crazy exes without stressing "who they are" makes me feel like I am watching a real precinct and not a network drama. This is no small feat. Makes it near impossible to talk about the show with others, but easily relatable.

Benjamin McKenzie plays the part of the wide-eyed rookie cop with decent results. His time on the force has probably been overly interesting in the name of drama, but I like the undertones of his well-to-do upbringing. Sort of a rich kid just wants to be one of the guys idea. He pulls it off.

That being said, the show is not without its faults. I find Michael Cuditz's character, Officer John Cooper (I had to look his name up), to be unbearable. I haven't determined if his sanctimonious, fortune cookie sage advice is a goal of the writers to make him kind of douchy but it does. And I don't like it. I don't find his character believable in any way.

Mrs. Channelup and I discussed the use of bleeping curse words in the dialogue. Is it better to have the curses censored or just use fairly accurate dialogue without the potty mouth? I would tend toward the latter because I find the bleeping distracting. I'm no prude. I curse as much as the next guy. But every time they do it I get distracted and think for a second about what word was censored without concentrating on the rest of the conversation. For that reason alone I could do without it.

I will continue to watch Southland because it shows promise. The acting is well above grade and the action moves swiftly. This show is just different enough to move to great things. Let's hope it gets there.
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The Office - Race for clients


Michael and Dwight have had such a tumultuous relationship, but in their latest argument the stakes have gotten pretty high. I mean a fish in the vent system? That's just cruel.

I have always felt bad for Dwight when it came to his devotion for Michael. He always put so much work in for so little payoff. When a guy's notes about you include "tall" and "beets" the relationship is probably pretty one-sided (though Dwight has schemed against Michael in the past). Tonight the feud reached new heights as they completed for Dwight's clients. In another scene reminiscent of Jerry Maguire, the two duke it out for the account of a book publisher. Michael, as expected comes out on top. The Michael Scott Paper Company needed a big win, and as Michael has said, when his back is against the wall he performs his best. He lands the account with style, giving new life to his terrible business plan (like having cheese ball related office contests).

The side story in this episode, Jim using Andy as a literal shoulder to cry on, fell a little flat for me. I was kind of enjoying the Jim as the screw up roll building over the last few weeks. I am sure we will revisit it but I was not in love with this side story.

Highlight quotes:

Andy to Jim - "So what your body's a 10."

Michael - "I'm going to steal all of your clients and kill them in front of you."

and "I understand nothing." (We know you don't Michael. We know you don't)

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Parks and Recreation - Canvassing

The subcommittee is out canvassing to replace the pit with a beautiful new park. .

I expected Tom Haverford to be very much the Jim Halpert character in his slacker mentality, aloofness and disrespect for authority. He hits the mark on all of them, but has a geeky salesman aspect to his persona that makes me think, that unlike Jim, he wants to be respected and high powered. He just doesn't have the drive or work ethic to be anything else but a parks assistance. Also, unlike Jim, he has a very very low IQ. Great character though.

Leslie Nope is a parks manager only a mother could love. Unfortunately her mother thinks she is a loser too. That is until she filabusters her own park meaning. This was probably the only smart thing Leslie did as it delayed the vote against the park. I think her mother felt a little pride, not because Leslie is accoomplished or successful, but because she stood and took the abuse with a smile on her face. Mothers can be proud of that kind of thing. Resiliency is key in the business world.

Overall, the show hasn't picked up steam the way I thought it would tonight. Entertaining episode, but my expectations are high for this show. I need a bit more out of the other characters.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lost - The Miles Run


We finally get the background on why the Asian version of the kid from The Sixth Sense initially came to the island. We also get plenty of Miles and Hurley moments. What we didn't get was that intriguing an episode. (Spoilers ahead)

Miles is one of the better characters on Lost. I suspect he is a favorite of the writers because of the comedic effect he brings. And ever since Sawyer got all security professional on us, Miles has filled the sarcastic asshole void nicely. Bottom line: I love Miles. That being said, I thought I would love this episode. I didn't.

My main man Miles gets info from dead people. That we knew. What we didn't know was the Asian doctor from all the Dharma training videos is his dad. Nice touch, but I am skeptical about how this information will play into the plot. We already know the island connects everyone. I hope this addition of Chang as Miles' father, and him being born on the island has a purpose. Otherwise it is just one of those cool Lost connections that ends up going nowhere. I do have faith that this plays an integral role later in the series. It just has to right?

We don't get a ton of questions answered tonight except possibly where Speilberg got his idea for Empire Strikes Back. One of the parts I am most waiting to learn about is the faction working against Charles Whitmore. Their code is, "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" because Ilana said the same thing to Frank last week. The group that abducts Miles before he gets on the ship asks him the same thing. There are so many groups working for, against and with the island that I get lost. Get it?

Highlights:
- Hurley's devotion to the Star Wars franchise is admirable and Jedi-like
- Sawyer laying out poor, stupid Phil when all Phil wanted to do was help. If there is one thing everyone should learn it is to never trust Sawyer
- Hatch building
- A Daniel Farraday sighting! Where have you been all your life?
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

American Idol - Mr. Brown coaches the talent


The judges came on tonight and admitted their errors in timing from last week. Then the producers go out and make the decision to make Quentin Tarantino a centerpiece for the hour. Replace one error with another. Sigh.

There is a possibility that Idol producers felt their weird, creepy factor had gone after Scott McIntyre got the boot last week. Seeing a gaping whole in uncomfortability, they decided to remedy by bringing in Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino was misplaced as a judge a few years ago, and he is even more strange as a celebrity talent coordinator/ advice giver. I just do not get it at all. The movie night theme was fine, but of all the people to bring in, his presence just felt odd all over.

Oddest moments of the night
- Tarantino staring at Alison Iraheta like he either wanted to kiss her or cut her ears off.
- Tarantino looking like a crazier, dorkier version of Frankenstein when he is growling at Anoop.
- Silvio Dante in the crowd. Idol must have tried to get the next weirdest famous person in Hollywood to make Tarantino look normal. I kept waiting for Gary Busey to make an appearance.
- Tarantino saying he only "got a taste of Adam's song."
- Tarantino leaning on the piano staring at Matt.
- Tarantino's haircut.
- Tarantino telling Danny to stick his hands in his pockets while he sings, and Danny promptly ignoring him
- Tarantino hugging Kris.
- Tarantino saying "Lil Rounds."

An abbreviated rundown of tonight's performances with a fairly lengthy discussion of the obvious:

Alison was decent. Anoop was far better than usual and his vocal was pretty flawless. Matt called a Bryan Adams song "one of the most beautiful ever," and then sang it okay. Danny Gokey, who I want desperately to win, sounded great during a dreadfully boring song. (btw I wrote that before Simon's critique) Kris, who I want to win if Danny doesn't, sounded great but picked a weird song that not many people know. (and again I wrote that before stupid Kara said the same thing) And Lil Rounds is so hit or miss that I don't even know if she sounds good or bad or now, but tonight she was pretty good I guess.

But honestly at this point is there anything more to discuss beyond Adam Lambert? He sang a song that I really hate and was so far head and shoulders above the competition that he should probably just walk away from the show and in to a studio now. What is the point (Idol's huge ratings aside)of trotting him out there on a week-to-week basis? Not since Chris Daughtry a few years ago has a contestant been so ready to make the leap into stardom. Daughtry was actually saved, from a credibility standpoint, by not making it to the finals. Lambert would surely benefit from going a week or two more, getting voted off, gathering a band and putting out an album. I think he will retain credibility beyond the Idol format because he has chosen a path through the show that stands out starkly from the other singers. From a selfish standpoint I hope he sticks around, but this guy is bound for much bigger and brighter things.
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Monday, April 13, 2009

24 - uhh what?


I'll get to the hot tamale pictured above a little later. This has nothing to do with tonight's episode, but I started thinking about something. If there is one constant of all the days in the 24 series, the terrorists and agents alike have been blessed with beautiful weather. (Spoilers ahead)

I could be wrong but I don't remember the elements ever playing a role in 24. Having a majority of the series taking place in sunny Cali eased the part weather had to play, but I wouldn't mind seeing some wintertime 24. Even a little rain could put a new twist on the show. If nothing else it would just give the writers more excuses why strike teams couldn't get to strategic locations quicker. Just a thought.

Even Bad News Tim (White House liaison)thinks the President has lost her mind. Presidents on 24 have been stripped of their power before and have been much much much more competent than Taylor. Tim questions her decisions. Jack calls her a liar. Her own daughter pretty much hates her. Everyone thinks she is an idiot. Then she gives a weird semi-non order to blow up Starkwood.

Jonas Hodges and Taylor have a face to face meeting that ends after Tony blows up the Starkwood missiles in such a comical fighting scene that I don't think I could watch it again without laughing. With Hodges' trump card gone; he and Taylor engage in a scene ripped almost directly from A Few Good Men with Hodges playing a much wussier Colonel Nathan Jessup. He tells the President that the conspiracy doesn't end with Starkwood (of course). Maybe it is Jessup running the whole thing.

AND THEN...... DA DA DADADAAAAAAAAAA
Kim Bauer is back. After Jack rips off some double entendres about "not feeling whole," and "is there anything you can give me?" we find out Kim is waiting for Jack. She has been in DC all day wanting to see him. We see the little minx for the first time. Never before have I wished for a terrorist strike on a single target than I did for this scene. She drops a couple of "Daddy's" on him and her hair looks terrible. I hated this scene but for some reason Mrs. Channelup had the waterworks flowing. Maybe it was good after all. I don't know.

And blah blah blah the threat isn't over. Some random Tracy Morgan look-alike has a canister of the bio-weapon in the same thing I use to hold Co2 for my kegerator. But then, a twist none of the Channelup family saw coming! Tony bad again! He kills Moss. He has the weapon! I am screaming through the computer! 24 is sprinting to the finish now!
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Night Lights - 5 months later


Mrs. Channelup's sister came by tonight so we rewatched last week's penultimate episode. What a great decision because it just reinforced to me how FNL is light years ahead of any other show in story, production and writing.
Tonight's episode comes to us five months after the heartbreaking state final loss. It was interesting to see how Dillon functions in non-football times. (there were 4 fans at the baseball game).

Coach Taylor's job is in trouble. Matt doesn't want grandma in a nursing home. Lyla is having San Antonio St. remorse and the Riggins boys just bought a steer. I love the football off season.

Thoughts:

- I understand the effective firing of Coach Taylor from a writers' standpoint. It opens up a new avenue of drama into a show that doesn't need it now but may need it in the future to maintain interest. It doesn't mean I was happy about it. I hate Wade Aikman and Joe McCoy and everything they represent. At the same time this kind of storyline holds true to the book. I read the original about five years ago but still remember a stark plot point. The coach's job is never safe. Win state or away you go. So to those thinking this is comes out of nowhere I would advise you to read Buzz Bissinger's book. Texas football is serious shit.

- Matt's decision to stay in Dillon is troubling. I am troubled by how happy I am about it and also about his decision for the future. If anyone needed to leave Dillon it is Matt Saracen, but at the same time he is such a cog in this show itis tough to picture him leaving.

- Billy Riggins as the sole voice of reason for his brother is incredible. The way Billy looks up to Tim yet is still able to put him in his place makes him an older brother extraordinaire. I loved the scene of him talking Tim out the mechanic-for-life decision.

Season four of Friday Night Lights is a literal miracle made possible by the generosity of DirectTv. I can't wait. We should them thank you letters.
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Southland - I Had a Dream I...


A hallmark of a good drama is making the viewer feel anxious and uncomfortable even when they know what is about to happen. Southland pulls few punches for a network cop drama and comes off as a decent attempt at censored police work.

To try and recap the first hour of this show would prove folly. Some criticism I read centered around their being too much going on in this first episode. Like we were introduced to every character and forced to identify with them right away. I disagree. The manic nature of the premiere only let on to the idea that there is just a ton of shit going on in these lives and this police force.

Sure the drama is a bit heavy handed and the lines a little melodramatic but expecting more from this format is wrong. Instead we focus on the positives. A cop show about the cops without getting to know them by name. Intrigue in the form of random violence rather than who-dun-its. This makes for good watching.

I believe in Southland (which doesn't mean much because I believe in a lot of shows that get canceled) because it focuses on the act rather than the characters. The act is what makes police work interesting. Cops aren't necessarily interesting characters, but by god their work is. The investment in characters will come in time I'm sure, but the beauty here is in the emotion. Every character, even nameless, is easy to associate with because they are regular people doing an irregular job. And according to Officer John Cooper, "It's God's work."
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Parks and Recreation - It's a Pinky promise


It is easy to be skeptical of a show with the same format as, what I consider to be one of the funniest shows ever, The Office. At the same time, how can a show go wrong with this same format considering it's made by the same people! It's a layup! And guess what? Parks and Recreation delivers.

Following the group of folks running the parks department in Pawnee, Indiana, Parks and Recreation represents all of the government jobs you could imagine never having. Working to make the park system work is like working to ensure the library runs efficiently (which is probably the next premise on the mundanely-comedic horizon).

Parks and Recreation goes right in all the same ways The Office does which is no easy feat with spinoffs/ remakes. Too often a spinoff wants to take side characters and put them in almost the same situations they had in the original but with some little twist. Where those spinoffs go wrong is the side characters weren't funny to begin with or the writing never stood a chance. But Parks and Recreation, unapologetically uses the same format as The Office and equally unapologetically uses the same kind of characters. What ensues is the same awkward hilarity.

The Office
works because, using the docu-comedy format, we know that some characters understand the joke they are taking part in while others think they are making the world laugh. Parks and Recreation uses the same formula. Jim Halpert knows his roll in the office and Tom Haverford also understands his place in the parks world. Amy Poehlers protrayal of Leslie Knope is so Michael Scott-ish to be embarrassing, but guess what: we need a female "World's Best Boss" in our lives and she hits it out of the park.

In a world of substandard comedies, we need more shows like these. Or maybe we just need the same writers making more of the same show. Parks and Recreation is our answer.
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The Office - Its Never Boring


An amazing aspect of The Office is its ability to take the same dull characters in the same dull place and continue to come up with story lines that don't stray too far out of the ordinary.

When a show has been on this long it is easy for writers to get caught in the trap of the spectacular and unbelievable. It happens. Its easy. Make the plot twists or comedic hi jinx so ridiculous as to not create boredom among the fan base. The Office avoids this because they make the mundane seem ridiculous in such a believable fashion that we rarely every feel the idea of "this could never happen!"

Tonight's double episode brought this into light when Jim played the fool with Dwight as the antagonist. Making Jim play soccer against Charles (Stringer Bell) Miner won major points for Dwight in their on going battle (where Dwight is the clear loser). Watching Jim squirm was tough for everyone in the room. (my living room)

It's tough to not feel bad for Pam but is also , at the same time, tough to totally sympathize with her. She recognizes her rash decision as a mistake (hammered home with stark clarity by a bleach blond Ryan doing his best Generation-X Spicoli impersonation. A pseudo-stoner for the information age without all the likability.) I don't know if I feel bad for Pam because her decision was made by a feeling of inadequacy and boredom but at the same time I understand it. It couldn't be worse than what she was already doing. I do want her to succeed though! That makes me feel better to say that.

Finally, the Dwight and Andy friendship is something I could get very used to (blood to the penis references aside). A girl could have come between them but their reconciliation in the form of a John Denver duet brought home what I I know is so great about The Office. Even when it seems ridiculous it isn't. This could happen right? I believe it..
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Kings get cancelled - I curse another show

I am starting to think that I am a television death knell. The Nine, Journeyman, Terminator, and now Kings. Whenever I start liking it, the network starts canceling it.

The problem with the shows I just mentioned (besides them all getting canceled) is that they develop originally with the idea that people will watch from the beginning. When those people don't see the first episode, they rarely tune in at all. I get that. I have not watched a number of shows because I missed the beginning and feel like I won't understand everything by jumping in mid-season. Examples include Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Tudors, Big Love, Rescue Me and Chuck. This is just a short list. I feel fairly confident through just friend reviews that I would enjoy all of these programs. I just haven't taken the plunge because I either A: need to start from the beginning or B: need to try and figure it all out part of the way in. Neither option seems appealing.

But when I actually get on shows from the beginning, like the ones mentioned above, they just get canceled. What the hell is a guy to do? Now Kings is headed out the door. NBC will air the remaining eight episodes on Saturday nights (awesome) and then that is it. Is there a point in watching the end? Probably not. It just opens the door for more disappointment. I am upset. Kings was a pretty great concept show with high drama and intriguing characters. Now its been dethroned.
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American Idol - Scott goes

I didn't watch the vote off but I need to comment on something.

Reading some reviews of the night (I never watch the vote off) I saw that 2 judges voted to save Scott. To SAVE SCOTT?!!!!! How? Why? For what reason? I am beside myself. Maybe I am missing something here or maybe they just didn't want the guy to feel bad, but what a joke. To think a judge wanted to use the save rule on Scott is an atrocity. Just needed to get that off my chest.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lost - Ben gets his


Nothing better than a Ben Linus-centered episode. This episode had great interplay between Locke and Ben. Locke is the first person on this show to repeatedly, consistently, and accurately call Ben's bullshit what it is: bullshit. Ben had numerous faces of incredulity when Locke would just offer some alternative to Ben's schemes. And finally when Locke just gets in his face about Ben having to be a follower rather than leader was one of the only times Ben has been put in his place.

Ben is, by far, the most interesting character on Lost and this episode went a great way to provide us with some needed background of his time on the island. We saw how exactly Alex became his daughter, the seeds of his feud with Charles Whitmore, and how he accesses the monster. (Which by the way was one of the craziest scenes ever in Lost. The way he basically "rang the monster's doorbell and asked it to come out and play" was beyond bizarre).

We saw from Ben tonight sadness and fear. Very unLinus-like emotions. Ben's motives are the great plot points which drive Lost. Because he remains such an enigma, he is as almost as mysterious as the island itself. Unlike the rest of the characters whose motives and story lines reveal their personal issues and struggles, Ben's personal issues and struggles reveal things about the island. That in itself makes his character among the best ever.

Finally when he is judged we actually see real remorse. The monster (island) in the form of Alex was haunting and more than a little scary (for Ben not me). Ben is Locke's bitch now. I like it.


Favorite scenes of the night:

- Locke sheepishly waving to a stunned Sun who is literally seeing a ghost.
- Locke coming out of the woods when we thought it was the monster.
- Basically every scene with Locke.
- The monster emerging from the holes in the temple. I am fine with the idea that we will never find out all the secrets of the island. It makes it easier because this season has revealed so much island history. Makes me feel better.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

American Idol - Baby night

The top 8 sings songs from their birth years. They should have called this late 80s early 90s night. Nice disguise Idol, but I'm on to you. What a boring night.

This may have been the most boring night of American Idol which is totally unacceptable considering how late it is in the competition. The top 8 had to pick songs from their birth years. That meant mostly songs from the mid-80s except for Allison whose song came from 2002 or something like that. (She is young. Get it?)

Because of iTunes, the internet and the plethora of crappy bands remaking good songs the contestants aren't wont for alternate renditions of songs technically released in a certain year. Even with the numerous choices, this week just fell so flat. There were a couple of clear winners and a bunch of pretty goods.

Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert and Matt Giraud clearly crushed it tonight but because of Idol's mismanagement of time, Adam and Matt were left with only seconds of judge's praise. What a shame, because the judges (and producers) just can't seem to reign in the mindless banter that occurs constantly among the judges. This leads to actual, legitimate praise being skipped so Fox can get its viewers over to Fringe (or me over to Season 3 of Dexter onDemand).

I really think Scott Mcintyre goes home tomorrow night. It has to be him as he is clearly overmatched here. Nothing is working and it is time to go. Even Anoop looked like a polished performer tonight Scott is out of his league. I think the judges did the voting sheep a favor this week by basically crushing him in their criticism.

All in all a forgettable night of boring singing.
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Too much time, too many choices

My television watching schedule is about to take a fairly major hit. 24 is winding to a close. But Friday is an especially harsh day as Terminator ends(possibly for good)and Friday Night Lights calls it an excellent season.

All is not lost though. Three new, promising looking shows are coming on the horizon. On Wednesday The Unusuals premieres. After seeing a number of different teasers for this show, I can't decide if it is a comedy, drama, dramady, comma, or something else entirely. It looks interesting though, so we give it a try after switching away from Lost.

On Thursday NBC premieres Parks and Recreation, the new faux docu-comedy from the creators of the Office (but more importantly from Michael Schur of FJM fame:). I watched some clips here and am really looking forward to this. As a huge Office fan, I love this kind of format and am one of the few people who actually thinks Amy Poehler is funny. (Mostly because she is married to Gob Bluth)

Finally, NBC has chosen Southland to replace ER. It is never easy to follow up something like ER, but NBC is doing the show the largest solid ever by throwing it into the Thursday 10PM slot. The program looks pretty great, if for nothing else than they have "Orange Sky" by Alexi Murdoch playing throughout the promotional pieces. I am most excited for this program.

All is not lost. Mrs. Channelup will continue finding ways to avoid talking to each other at night and these three new shows seem like the best candidates for distraction.
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Monday, April 6, 2009

24 - Decision-Making 101


Are you ready for the worst decision-making ever in the history of 24? That is no small feat. It's coming and it's made by an unlikely source.

I want to focus on something that was possibly the most disturbing sequence of decision-making ever in 24. It involves the annoying, First Daughter Taylor story arc. She is leaking information to the press about her mother's administration. That's bad because she's been warned not to. But wait, there's more. The reporter she has been leaking info to, Creepy Ken I will call him, wants more information. After having an entire, personally-implicating conversation over the phone while at the White House, First Daughter says, "I can't talk here," and agrees to meet him. But wait, there's more. She goes to Creepy Ken and tells him the whole story about the WMD and how the FBI is working to intercept it. But wait there's more. To protect the story (THAT SHE JUST TOLD HIM!) she agrees to sleep with him! But wait there's more. She videotapes the whole thing! To blackmail him! WHAAAAAAA??!!!! My god. She is using this warped logic to advise the President of the United States. Her next advice to her mom will probably involve the President sleeping with Jonas Hodges so he can think about maybe giving the chemical weapons back.

Some other highlights from a fairly interesting hour of espionage, intrigue and VOIGHT!

- Voight has been the best 24 villain to date. He would probably win just on acting skills alone, but he brings so much to the table in his role as Jonas Hodges. He is calm, creepy, violent, pathological, manipulative and cunning. Basically he is perfect.

- I wonder how much easier my life would be if I had a PALM hand held with real time satellite support. I am not exactly sure what I would do with it, but I can imagine it coming in super handy in places like the supermarket self-checkout line. Tony used it to break in to a high level quasi-government facility. I would use it confirm produce codes without calling for customer assistance. Life would be sweet.

- When Agent Renee Something or Other was communicating to Special Agent Moss about how to handle the Starkwood villains it was literally the blind leading the dumb and blind.

- The set up for Kim Bauer to return is nauseating. Jack refused to contact Kim after the doctor said she could help save his life. Renee tries to convince him to call Kim prompting Mrs. Channelup to scream, "Shut up Renee, no one wants Kim back!"

- I wonder if they would ever kill off Jack? I know they won't but it would at least be interesting.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kings - Silas is pissed


Trouble's brewing in beautiful Gilboa. (Is that not the worst name of all time for a country?) Silas's decision to hand over Port Prosperity isn't exactly a hit on the countryside and Prince Jack is a news czar. What is this poorly-named country coming to?

Quick recap and then some thoughts:

Silas is being a testy little bastard. He sends David to Port Prosperity to make them see the light and reason behind handing the land back over the Gath. Nobody really likes the idea, but the Shepperd family really hates it. David's brother starts a protest that turns into the princess being taken hostage. This is an especially bad idea considering Silas's pissy temperament.

Meanwhile Prince Jack uses his uncle to gain control of the media. This is basically what Bush did with Fox News right? Jack is going to leverage his new media power to gain favor with his father. This plan also seems flawed and basically Prince Jack is a spoiled, fuck up.

But King Silas is nothing if he isn't efficient. One doesn't become king without solving problems in a timely and deadly manner. He sends strike forces to take down the hostage takers as well as a group Uncle William has been forming to supplant Silas.

Thoughts:
- MacCauley Culkin joins the cast next week as the King's nephew?! Rumor is he will be head of estate security employing protection methods like hot door knobs, bb guns, tarantulas, and ice steps to deter robberies.
- William McShane should probably be up for an Emmy as King Silas.
- The worst aspect of this show is David Shepperd's character. Everything else fires on all cylinders but, to me, he slows down every scene.
- Prince Jack, on the other hand, is played perfectly as a kid who wants all the power and has literally no clue how to get it.
- Nice twist at the end with the military leader turning away from Silas as it keeps alive the plot to supplant the king.
- I love the two dorky castle security guards who add a little comic relief to a pretty heavy show. They seems to have no useful security skills but make me laugh every time.

This show is gaining steady steam in terms of plot twist, treachery and intrigue. Let's hope it sticks around.
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Time to close the door on the Dollhouse


I missed the first half of Friday's episode as I wrote for Blend Television.. Mrs. Channelup caught me up and I got the second half. I saw enough to know it is time to turn out the lights, lock the door, and not look back

I wrote extensively about why I thought Dollhouse was not living up to potential. I decided to give it a couple of more weeks to iron out the kinks. Mission not accomplished. The problems with the show are many, but I feel these are the major ones:

Bad acting - Eliza Dushku is a bad actress plain and simple. I can't root for her. I don't care about her character. She looks like a deer in headlights at all times.

Bad stories - The last episode was such a cop out of an ending that I might break my keyboard out of frustration if try to sum it up. Let's just say that it was a waste.

Bad characters - Each is more boring than the next.

I'm not a production expert but it stands to reason that if the acting, stories and characters are subpar, you have some issues. I wanted it to work out because the premise is top notch. Everything else is a disaster.
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Friday Night Lights - The Genius is in the Moments


I don't think I could ever write enough praise for Friday Night Lights. Lords knows I would like to try. Friday's episode "Underdogs," illustrated that what FNL does best is take pride in the little moments.

Look I could recap the whole episode, but I won't. Instead, I just want to go through the moments that made this one the best of the season.

The look on JD's face as he answers questions from Child Protective Services. For a boy that is the answer to Dillon's football prayers, he is just a scared and immature kid with too much pressure placed on him.

Grandma Saracen and Julie talking about Matt's future. Matt is kind of like the glue for so many people's lives (and the show as well). He represents something that he probably doesn't even see in himself. His grandma relies on him and loves him so much that she can't imagine him leaving. For Julie, he is the hope that life exists outside of Panther football. She is scared to see him go but knows that a big world awaits a talented Matt.

Tyra's essay. She summed up beautifully what it means to want something more, and wrote perfectly about what it means to be scared, young and vulnerable. As she read, we got a snapshot of each character's feelings about moving on with life after the game. The look on Landry's face when she finished was priceless in its pride. Not many dry eyes in the Channelup house when it was all said and done.

The field goal. I have always thought the one thing FNL did poorly was the football. Just too many last second victories and miracle comebacks. Having Dillon lose in heartbreaking fashion was the sign of a show not afraid to have its characters fail. That's part of life. Dillon lost. To quote Tami Taylor, "The sun will still come up tomorrow."

Riggins' shoes. His walking away from them after the game was symbolic, meaningful and touching in its simplicity.

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Missed me?

After some family stuff and some back ups I will be back tomorrow with some Friday FNL and Dollhouse updates. Doug. Read more!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

ER - the end


It's not easy to say goodbye. My cousin Chris actually never says it, instead choosing, "See you later," because he doesn't want to jinx anything. It's especially not easy to do it after fifteen years. But tonight ER said goodbye.
The remainder of this article appears at Cinema Blend Television
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lost - thereeeeeee's Kate!


Unfortunately I read the television guide before watching this episode of Lost so I got an idea about Young Ben still being alive. What a quasi cop out. I thought it somewhat landmark (and morbid) that the writers would kill off a kid in a television show. I couldn’t think of any other shows having done in before. But Ben miraculously survives a bullet to the chest. Booooo!

(For the record I wrote the following paragraph before tonight’s show as a little tune up. Was trying to bang out some words so I could go to bed earlier. Then Hurley and Miles had the same, but much more hilarious, conversation thereby stealing some unoriginal thunder) I mean from a time travel / Daniel Farraday-ist standpoint this makes sense. Ben has intimate knowledge of Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the group because he has already met them as kids back in the day. Assuming the strandees cannot change the future, Future Ben already knows he is shot by Sayid when he was a kid and survives. Sayid has no chance of killing off a young Ben, even if the scar on his forehead gives him strange powers. If anything Ben must realize that the bullet he sustained as a kid from Sayid eventually precipitated some kind of future gain. Who the hell knows, this show is impossible to keep track of anyway.

I would consider myself of above average intelligence and I find there are a thousand things about Lost I don’t understand. What does it do to all the dummies out there watching? It must be a complete and utter mindfuck. Dumb people don’t understand how CSI works. How could they ever dream of following Lost?

It’s a Kate-centric episode. She isn’t in my top five list of characters, but I can give the writers a pass as this season has been spot on from episode to episode. They aren’t taking a minute off. This is a good thing obviously, and has made the show a tour-de-force of sorts.

Baby Ben Potter Linus is suffering from his bullet wound and the Oceanic/Dharma folks can’t seem to do anything about it. He is going to die and Juliette thinks she needs Jack’s expertise to save Ben. Jack refuses, thereby reneging on every aspect of the Hippocratic Oath. I am contacting the AMA in the morning and filing a grievance.

Kate and Juliette (and eventually Sawyer) agree to take Ben to the Others for help. I find the Kate and Sawyer relationship very forced. It just doesn’t play out for me on screen. I could never imagine them being together so I find their little love-thingy a little tough to swallow. Kate calls him out for his lack of commitment to her, Cassidey and his daughter Clementine. Sawyer still retains his badassness in spite of his lack of paternal skills and a dozen Others pointing guns at him. Damn I respect this guy.

Finally, Kate’s motivation for returning to the island is revealed. She came back to find Claire and bring her home to Aaron. She left Aaron with Claire’s, Darryl Hannah look-alike, mother. A bit anticlimactic as I thought she sold the baby to Charles Whitmore or something like that.

Once Baby Ben is delivered to the Others, Richard Alpert informs Kate and Locke that this transfer seals Ben’s fate. He will always be an Other. You can’t change the past folks.

Great quote at the end as future Ben wakes up to a very much alive John Locke when Locke says, “Welcome back to the land of the living.”

Some questions from this episode:

Under what scientific rock has Daniel Faraday been hiding?
What happened to Ben in the tomb?
How many bricks did Ben lay in his pants when he saw Locke?
.
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Osbournes Reloaded Airs - Civilization Ends


I thought the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 would spell the end of the world. I was wrong, for the Osbournes are back. Civilization as we know it begins to crumble.

Because I forgot to change the channel last night after American Idol ended I was forced to watch Osbournes Reloaded. Technically no one strapped me down and held a gun to my head, but once I started I could literally not avert my attention from this nuclear meltdown of a program.

Up until now I considered Hole in the Wall to be the nadir of our society. Osbournes Reloaded makes Hole in the Wall look like a PBS special. Here are some highlights:
- Whole clan comes out cursing for unknown reasons at the audience
- Two blindfolded people make out for money. One blindfolded person is substituted with elderly woman. Making out continues.
- Guy comes out of audience only to have his girlfriend give him an ultimatum: Marry me tonight on this show or we break up. Exactly how me and Mrs. Channelup tied the knot
- Ozzy does a very disturbing reenactment of the movie Fame where it was CGI'ed with farting sound effects
- A little piece of me dies inside
- A bigger piece of me dies also
- Kelly deftly rhymes Nick with "Dick," (its poetry, you wouldn't get it)
- Jack mentions roofies
- Guy marries girl on camera looking like he would rather murder her than spend the rest of his life with her
- Show ends, antiChrist appears

All in all a rousing half hour of my life I will never get back. Its not like I expected much but this pandered so low, and was such an obvious cash grab that I think network television is going the way of the Roman Empire (and the Mayan one for that matter)
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