Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Super-mega jumbo catch-up

(In this post, in order: "Prison Break," "24," "Scrubs," both parts of "House," "Gilmore Girls" "American Idol" results and "Lost." Sort of chronological, and also, if you didn't see "Lost" and all the Big Things that happened, it's way at the end so you can avoid being spoiled. No "Veronica Mars" until tonight at the earliest, and I'll spoiler-protect it again, given the local pre-emption.)

"Prison Break" has me, then it loses me, then it has me again, over and over. Has me: Westmoreland and Bellick in a fight to the death over discovery of the hatch. Lost me: Westmoreland wins and leaves Bellick alive in the escape tunnel to cause trouble in future episodes. Has me: Michael truthfully asking the doc for help. Lost me: any scene out in the real world. Has me: Michael being cold-blooded enough to betray his buddy Warden Pope to make the escape work. Lost me: Michael being squishy and naive enough to bring Tweener into the escape. Etc, etc., etc. I laughed for a very long time when I realized they were using the "House" theme song for their opening montage, which some Fox rep tried to spin to my friend Joe was simply a case of the "Prison Break" music supervisor having never seen "House." Because, of course, no one at the actual network would have noticed, either. (The original pilot for "Bones" used the same Massive Attack song over a montage, just in case we didn't understand what they were trying to imitate, but I'm pretty sure they changed it before the thing aired.)

Because I'm coming so late to "24," I don't feel there's much more I can say about the eerie/awkward timing of this episode airing three days after the release of "United 93." But when one of the passengers started to make a move towards Jack, I cringed, deeply. (Fienberg has some fun with Jack's harsh treatment of the air marshall and the innocent passenger.) For me, the most entertaining part of the episode was Chloe repeatedly tasering the drunk asshole in the bar, especially since I had been afraid that she was going to become the latest victim of his misogynist rage and be too distracted to help Jack at a critical moment. From a character I didn't like at all when she first appeared in season three, she's now someone I can't imagine how the show did without for the first couple of years. Mary-Lyn rules.

It's probably not a good thing that I spent so much of "Scrubs" fixated on the presence of Paul Adelstein, who's not only Evil Kellerman on "Prison Break," but who was supposed to play Dr. Burke on "Grey's Anatomy" until a last-minute scheduling conflict cost him the sweetest job of his life. (Shonda Rhimes has said, not surprisingly, that Adelstein's Burke was more of a pent-up dweeb than Isaiah Washington's version.) I had feared that Cox's shame-spiral was going to make it hard to be funny, and the only real joke that worked was "Knife-Wrench!" (the song sounded to me like a Neil Flynn improv), but I don't think it was because the A-story was heavy; I just think the jokes weren't very good. (Elliot's walk in the woods in particular seemed like a missed opportunity; couldn't she have been attacked by a bear again?) Still, McGinley is awesome, and the last scene where Cox showed J.D. as much affection as he probably ever will was nice. (It's too bad the writers let him call J.D. by his given name a few times in the early seasons, or else I might have gotten actual chills when he did it here.)

I didn't want to commenton "House" yesterday because I had watched both parts on a review screener and they had all blended into one big, cool experience. This, ladies and germs, is how you do a Very Special Episode (or Episodes) of a procedural drama. Foreman becoming so desperate that he pulls a House-ian stunt on Cameron (the needle stick) to save his ass, Wilson realizing exactly why House never wants to meet his patients (and yet not giving House a pass on anything), the awful timing of the discover/biopsy... I don't know that this is going to win Omar Epps the Emmy, if only because he may have trouble getting into the category with the obligatory nominations for Terry O'Quinn, the late John Spencer and half the "Sopranos" cast, but the man was really on his game on both nights. (As was Roc Dutton, one of those actors like Gene Hackman who's always playing the same person and yet not.)

"Gilmore Girls" was actually the last thing I watched last night, and I was so tired he quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs... Sorry 'bout that, folks. I typed a bunch of placeholder paragraphs so I could insert the photos easily last night, and I was still so zonked this morning that I forgot to finish this one. Anyway... I was so tired that my opinion of the show might as well involve quick brown foxes and lazy dogs. There was a lot going on (Luke and Michael DeLuise, Michel doing calisthenics, Sookie and Jackson running around with Kumar's wet dream, Rory getting irked at the Mitchum quote, Paris and Doyle penguin-sitting Logan, and Lorelai as chauffeur), and yet it all felt inconsequential. Again, I can pin some of this on physical and emotional fatigue, and some of it on my knowledge of The Ausiello Spoiler depressing me about where all of this is going, but the only stuff I really dug was Michel bouncing around and that last scene between Lorelai and Emily. (Even though I hate where the story is going, Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop are awesome together.) Oh, and the opening debate about Ashlee Simpson's hair color was pretty good, too. I have a DVD of the finale, and I'm dreading watching it.

Whenever a talented "American Idol" contestant gets an early boot, I always read or hear someone say that they're better off, because it leaves them free of the clutches of the 19 Entertainment hack songwriters. This ignores the fact that Josh Gracin is the only non-winner or runner-up to have a significant post-show singing career, and he has extenuating circumstances on his side. But Paris may actually be the first contestant to go home this early whom I believe could have a career in the music biz. It's not that she's so young and has such a great voice, but that her entire family has connections in the biz, so when she gets a little older and settles on a persona instead of constantly changing her wig and vocal style, she could actually make it. Not really a shock to see her go: DialIdol had her as the bootee (though they also had Katharine in the bottom two, when it was Elliot), and it had been clear for weeks that her versatility was costing her traction with voters who prefer their ponies to do one trick and only one trick. Since I don't think Katharine has the talent to beat out any of the guys (has any winner had a performance as uniformly awful as her "Against All Odds"?), the only question left is whether she goes home next week and creates a sausage-fest final three, or if she can sex it up one more time to carry herself past Elliot.

And, finally, "Lost." If you didn't see the episode yet, you really want to stop reading. I'm cereal! I'm totally cereal! Okay? Do we all understand each other? Very well then.

I have to quote Fienberg, who e-mailed me shortly after it was over to say, "Was pretty much the best anti-Drunk Driving PSA I've ever seen." Amen, brother. Take that, you booze-guzzling newbies! (Lindelof and Cuse insist to Ausiello that this was their plan all along, but I believe that as much as I believe that everything on this show is plotted out far in advance and that it'll all make perfect sense in the end.)

At least Michelle Rodriguez got to spend an entire season annoying the crap out of America. Unless those blankets somehow slowed the two bullets enough to spare Libby (because, of course, there's a fully-equipped trauma center hidden somewhere in the hatch that would allow Jack to save a person who was gutshot twice), then Cynthia Watros had an entire year of her life wasted, and what the hell was the point of the Libby-is-crazy flashback button to "Dave"? You could interpret the previews to think that one of the two survives, but then, you could also interpret the previews to think that Mr. Eko dies next week (Noooooo!!!!), in which case Bernard might want to watch his back. We'll have to wait and see.

A very cool shock ending to what had been an uneven episode for the first 55 minutes. I spent a lot of the Ana-Lucia flashback picturing a slightly different "Lost" where the more annoying regular characters were replaced by people we knew off the island. Imagine that instead of mopey, self-righteous Jack, the castaways' doctor/leader was alcoholic with a God complex Christian Shepherd. Imagine that season two's gullible Locke were replaced by his con man dad, who I'm still convinced is the real Sawyer, and who would see through Henry's latest line of bullshit in a half-second. The constant off-island intersection of the characters' lives -- Ana-Lucia knows Jack's dad! A-L and Christian listen to the same Patsy Cline song from one of the Kate episodes! Jack's dad has an illegitimate daughter whose mom looks and sounds an awful lot like Claire! Sawyer! -- ceased being a novelty for me a while back.

I probably should have seen one or both of the shootings happen, both because Michael's story was full of so many holes considering what we know about the Others (unless, as I've speculated in the past, there's more than one group of Others), and because A-L had sex and Libby was probably about to (loved Jin giving Hurley a reciprocal sex thumbs-up), and women on this island who get laid out of wedlock tend to catch bullets. But they faked me out -- thanks in part to no stupid advance publicity by Cuse and Lindelof about how someone was going to die in this exact episode, and in part because I thought the shock would be Michael opening the vault door and being killed by Henry -- and for a second there, I thought Michael had pulled a Raymond Shaw and killed himself after carrying out his mission. (This was a really bad episode to include a fully-detailed previews; much like the "Sopranos" season premiere, they should have followed it with either no previews at all or one of those "Survivor" finale previews where you see no new footage of any kind.)

So what did everybody else think, about any or all of this?


jim treacher said...

I'm not convinced Scofield actually trusts Tweener. He's got something up that tatted sleeve, I think.

The only way Lost would have been a bigger F-U to Watros and Rodriguez is if they called it "Beat It, Drunkies." Plus, Locke can't be my favorite character anymore because he put off Anna-Lucia's good riddance for another half-hour.

Anonymous said...

Dear Readers: Alan has asked me to tell you that the gibberish about ''Gilmore Girls'' was a technical error and he has not gone insane. It will be fixed later today.

Louis said...

Chloe has really moved up the CTU ladder, hasn't she? In season three, she was an administrative assistant, looking after someone's baby on the sly, and now she's a super-ultra computer genius who can hack into Department of Defense computers using only her cell phone, and download the stolen info to Jack Bauer's wristwatch while he's stowed away on the space shuttle up in the stratosphere. God, she's hot.

Daniel said...

I think Tweener has now been written into the position of requiring a redemptive death for himself. He betrayed Jesus... er Schofield ... but Schofield kept faith in him. Yes, Tweener gave Schofield a little bit of dap this week by backtracking on when he'd seen Ravens coach Brian Billick, but he needs more. He's been both repeatedly raped, plus evil. There's no way he's getting out of the prison alive. He must sacrifice himself that all might live. Or so I figure.

Oh and good point about the over-informative "scenes-from-next-week" on "Lost." Another example would be tonight's "House." The episode ends with that weird "Dear Lord, does Omar Epps have all of his wires crossed?" beat. Then the preview shows Dr. Foreman running around and taking patients. What's up with that?

KristenKP said...

I assumed with the amount of time-lag between taping and airing shows that the double-murder on Lost was probably the *reason* both actresses went out and got sloshed the same night. :)

Marsha said...

I agree that I think Tweener is all part of the plan. Michael could be fooled once, but not twice. The writers wouldn't allow that.

I DID tear up when Cox called him JD. I truly did. Knife-wrench was fun. I didn't mind this show being less-than-funny - it worked beautifully for me. Especially McGinley's facial expressions as different people take care of him. Especially, of course, Ted's quarter. Hee.

My comments about Lost and Alias are over at ALOTT5MA, and I'll look forward to your real opinions on Gilmore Girls.

Louis said...

Would the Lost guys really have canned Rodriguez and Watros because of their DUIs? I'm not advocating drunk driving, but that seems a tad harsh.

But that's a good point about the Hurley flashback -- why include Libby if she's not going to be around?

Laura Ingalls Wilder said...

Alan: So, what's it going to take to get you to comment on our blog?

BTW, I agree that Chloe has become the best 24 character and that Paris will be OK post-Idol. (Josh Gracin really has a career? Um . . .) Lastly, I'm hoping for a three-guy finale on Idol, in case you were wondering.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Marsha, I don't mind an episode being less-funny. A Very Special Episode about Cox climbing into a bottle could have been very cool. But it felt like they were trying to be funny and weren't succeeding.

And you all may be right about Michael and Tweener, but there's a point at which my brain starts to hurt when I try to figure out whether the writers of this show are double or triple-faking me out.

Devin McCullen said...

You know, I could actually see Michelle Rodriguez wanting a one-year deal. I've always got the idea she thinks she's a lot more famous than she actually is. I don't know how far in advance the production schedule is, but the DWI was quite awhile back, so why put the shot of Libby in the Hurley episode if they'd already decided to kill her off? (Heck, even if I'm wrong on the timing, they could have edited it out before airing if it wasn't going anywhere.) And at least Cynthia Watros only wasted one year this time, unlike her last show.

You know, I have enough trouble with Sawyer (remember, the con artist) falling for Ana-Lucia's trick to get the gun, so why make it worse by having him not even realize it's gone for an hour or two?

Tosy And Cosh said...

devin - I don't konw that we have to conclude that Sawyer didn't know the gun was gone until Jack confronted him. He could have known, but still reached for it instinctively when threatened. That look could have been "crap, that's right, the bitch took my gun" as opposed to "crap, she stole my gun and I didn't even realize it!"

jim treacher said...

"You know, I could actually see Michelle Rodriguez wanting a one-year deal. I've always got the idea she thinks she's a lot more famous than she actually is."

I've always got the idea she thinks she's a lot more everything than she actually is.

jim treacher said...

BTW, last night's Lost episode was titled "Two for the Road." You make the call.

dez said...

Ana-Lucia wasn't killed because of the drunk driving--she was killed because she had sex outside of marriage, just like Shannon did! C'mon, you guys, you're harshing my "TV is misogynistic!" buzz ;-D The last two minutes of the show really did throw me for a loop. Ana *and* Libby? Jeez, Michael, brainwashed much? Also, Henry is definitely the leader of The Others. That guy is pure evil. Unless they super-sized Walt's abilities, in which case, he's the new leader and everyone else is getting wished into the cornfield soon.

I was pretty queasy watching "24" this week after having seen "United 93" on Saturday. But at least Chloe was there to bring a smile to my face, not to mention Buchanan ripping on Miles.

On "Prison Break," I also think Michael has something more planned for Tweener, who I feel sorry for, despite his gangsta posing. The poor guy got screwed by Bellick and Avocado, after all. Yuck.

Oh, and if they really do kill off Eko on "Lost" next week, I will be freaking pissed. He's such a great character and they are wasting him enough as it is without actually, you know, wasting him altogether. Bleah.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I dunno. . .the earliest, EARLIEST rumors about Rodriguez (and at least one press release) said she would join the show for the second season. If they had said she was joining the show IN its second season, it would have been different, but the FOR (*copyeditor*) seemed to indicate to me she would die. I was waiting for her to be written off all season.

And I think Watros will survive somehow (perhaps the Others take her to their medical facilities) so she can be a recurring player next year. The production cycle means they almost certainly knew she was going to be shot when they did Dave, so why insert that shot of her at all?

Marsha said...

Why does Libby need to live for the Dave episode to work? This is Lost, after all. Perhaps Hurley will figure it out and it'll trigger something... or perhaps Libby is an Other... who knows.

Alan, I guess Scrubs worked better for me than it did for you. I didn't think they were trying to be funny (other than the Kinfe-wrench thing) but more wry, which I thought they succeeded at.

As for Gilmore Girls, I am trying hard to stay unspoiled, but I've also been disappointed lately, so it's not just that for you, I suspect. I also agree tha tthere were many fun little touches in this episode (although i really disliked the pot subplot (sub-pot?)). Graham and Bishop are amazing together, and AS=P has created the most interesting, yet realistic mother-daughter relationship on TV.