Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hurley, Hamlin, Hogeboom and hating

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, but I've caught up on most of my Wednesday and Thursday shows.

"Lost": Hey, an episode that gave every castmember (except Malcolm David Kelley) something to do! Is that allowed? They've only done a few of these ensemble pieces, but I liked it; it's refreshing to take an occasional break from the various Big Mysteries to just spend time with the people of the island. (And we did get a fair amount of development in the story of the other Flight 815 survivors, including the touching and surprising introduction of Rose's husband.)

Also, I can never complain about an episode where the main character is Hurley. On the other hand, I don't think any of this season's flashback stories have been especially illuminating. We already knew that Jack had married a woman whose paralysis he'd miraculously cured, that Michael was upset about losing Walt, that Locke was bitter about losing his kidney, and that the lottery money was the worst thing to ever happen to Hurley. Admittedly, this was a slightly different angle on that than the cursed numbers, but I'm starting to wonder if we just need to stop seeing flashbacks of anyone but Sayid, Sawyer and Kate, all of whom still have some secrets in their past.

(By the way, I downloaded an earlier "Lost" episode from iTunes to get a sense of the quality, and about the most I could enlarge it was to 3" x 3", which isn't good enough for a widescreen show like this.)

"Veronica Mars": Well, that didn't take long. Veronica appears to have solved the big mystery by the end of episode three: Logan's dad hired his old stunt driver to crash the bus he thought Veronica was on. Except that nothing on "Veronica Mars" is ever that simple, and I'm sure that by the time the season is over, we'll discover that Aaron had absolutely nothing to do with the crash.

I've heard complaints about the season so far, and I suppose it's human nature to decide instantly that the new stuff isn't as good as the old stuff ("I loved Dave Pirner until he sold out and started dating Winona Ryder, man!"), but I'm not seeing it. Was the season premiere a little heavy on exposition? Yeah, but so was the pilot. I'm really enjoying all the new storylines and characters -- Dick Casablancas Sr.'s "Shred everything!" exodus was like something out of "Arrested Development," only he got away with it -- and the writers haven't lost their touch with the older ones like Sheriff Lamb, whose staredown with Veronica was hysterical. With a lot of my cable favorites on hiatus, I'd say this is the best show airing on television right now.

"Survivor": This is around the point where I've dropped previous seasons like Thailand and Vanuatu, but this episode may keep me around a while. For the first time all season, it didn't feel like "The Stephenie Show" (and the more I see of her, the less I'm liking her; it's like Rupert on All-Stars, where knowledge of her celebrity has ruined what made her so appealing in the first place), as we got decent glimpses of Brian, Amy, Blake, Danni and others. The environment still seems too brutal for decent scheming and plotting, but I'll give it a few more weeks, if only to see whether Danni creates a spin-off of "Bait Blake" called "Goad Gary." ("So, Gary, didn't you play quarterback for the Cowboys?" "No, but I worked for the Cowboys, in a helmet-wearing capacity." "Oh, okay.")

(And speaking of Danni, I haven't been this concerned about the well-being of a TV character since Christopher tried to strangle Adriana. Lots of people make the mistake of going on the show without fat they can afford to lose, but she may be the first contestant who went into the game with a negative body fat percentage. When we got a sideways look at her in the pool, Marian gasped and said, "She needs to be in a hospital right now!" I mean, at this point, she makes Calista Flockhart look like a Picasso model. Check out how far her hip bone is jutting out here.)

"Everybody Hates Chris": Last week's two-laugh episode had me worried, but this one was at least as good as the pilot, if not funnier. The sausage, the detention lady, the montage of Rochelle quitting her jobs for no reason -- everything was clicking. And after two weeks of ratings dips, the numbers actually went up last night. Die, "Joey," die!

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