A Case of the Mondays

Well, I’m pretty well rested after a week of relative relaxation following my road trip to New Orleans, so I anticipate that this edition of A Case of the Mondays will be back to its usual state. I guess “usual state” is a bit misleading, since I’ve only done two other columns, each with radically different content. I guess what I’m trying to say is that most columns will be more like the first edition than the second one. Of course, suggestions and comments are always welcome, so send me an e-mail if you have anything to say.

Finding Lost, Two For the Price of One….

Because of my trip, I was unable to see the June 29th episode of Lost, but I’ve since caught up, and I found it to be an extremely strong episode. I’ve enjoyed Matthew Fox since his tenure on Party of Five, so it was nice to see an episode centered on his character Jack. It was nice to see the frustration and pressure of being perceived as the leader finally reach a boiling point, between everybody either coming to him for guidance, or people resenting him for the role he never asked for in the first place.

It was also nice learning more about Jack’s past. So far, he’s always been so calm and collected, and seems like a natural leader. However, we learn through his flashbacks that his father frequently berated and belittled him, constantly making Jack feel like he has to prove his worth. Beneath the confident exterior, Jack has many insecurities, and this episode he was forced to come face to face with them. I really liked the fact that Jack seeing his father’s spirit didn’t come out of left field, as (if memory serves) he’s been having visions of a man in a suit in the distance for the past week or so. At first, Jack discovering that the man in the suit seemed obvious (we did, after all, just see Jack have a flashback concerning his father), but after we learned the entire back story (namely, that his father was actually on the plane in his coffin), I felt everything came together very nicely.

In some ways, the show actually reminds me of Joan of Arcadia. On Joan of Arcadia, characters (usually Joan) take seemingly minor action, and later see the bigger picture of what they were actually doing. For example, Joan volunteering to baby sit for a total stranger ultimately results in Joan finding out that Adam’s mom had passed away around that time, in turn allowing Adam to open up to her in a way he never had, both making their relationship stronger and relieving Adam of the heartache he is feeling. In this episode, Jack having visions of his father allowed him to not only come to terms with his insecurities and take the role everybody already turns to him as, but also discover an endless water supply, essentially saving the lives of everybody on the island. If Jack was never forced to confront the spirit of his father, not only would he not have survived mentally, but the others would not have survived physically either.

I also really enjoyed this past week’s episode of Lost, however it was slightly tarnished by the fact that I already knew the Asian woman could speak English, as I have already seen the season finale. However, I must commend the actress’ work, since until this point much of her acting is through facial expressions. You can just feel her unhappiness by looking at her face, and the utter exhaustion through her tone, body language, and expressions are purely emotionally, not physical. Until now I had always assumed her depression was due to the circumstances. After all, they are stranded on a deserted island, and she’s forced to hide the fact that she can communicate with everybody from her husband. However, we now know that she was in fact planning on leaving her husband before boarding the flight, because she had changed so much since she had married him.

In a lot of ways, I actually like going through the season, already knowing how it ends. Yes, it would have made a lot more impact learning that Sun could speak English if I had not yet known that, but it’s also fun watching the progression of characters and their relationships, knowing where they ultimately end up (like on Smallville). Particularly, I enjoy the fact that Jin and Michael were coming to blows this episode, yet by the end of the season they’re close friends. In the season finale, Jin gives Michael his watch, and I didn’t understand why. This episode I found out why, as it was the reason they were fighting in the first place. It’s much like how I enjoy finding out how Clark and Lex go from best friends to bitter enemies, and how Clark goes from loving Lana to loving Lois. Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the final destination.

I also continue to enjoy the dynamic between Jack and Kate, and I like that this episode had characters acknowledging their undeniable chemistry. What I particularly like about it is the fact that it seems real. The truth is, sometimes you just connect with a total stranger, and in a situation such as the one they’re in, you would want to stick close to that person as much as possible. I don’t know what, if anything, happens between them between now and the end of the season (and contrary to what I said in the last paragraph, I don’t really want to know beforehand), but at this point I don’t think they’ve necessarily come to terms with how they feel about each other. Because of that, it was powerful watching them after they were separated (with Jack camping in the caves, and Kate deciding to stay on the beach), because you could tell they really longed to be with each other. Again, not necessarily due to any sexual attraction they may feel toward one another, but because emotionally they help bring completeness to each other.

Two Gripes Regarding Old, Enjoyable Entertainment Websites…

I’ve noticed in the past couple months two of my favorite entertainment information websites have undergone seemingly minor changes, which have in turn hindered my enjoyment of each site significantly. The first was IMDB.com, which went from an almost entirely expense-free website, to a “you’ve gotta register to enjoy the fun!” site. What is this, Pro Wrestling Torch (zing!)? Seriously, though. I used to really like going on the site and checking out the message board forums to get information about an actor/actress or any TV show or movie. Now, in order to even VIEW the forums, you need to register. Sure, they say it’s free, yet you have to give them your credit card number (if I remember correctly, the first month or whatever is free, then they begin charging you if you don’t end your account). Whenever I was bored checking the forums used to be a fun and informative way to kill time, now you can’t even do that. Sucks.

The other website is TVTome.com, which is now TV.com. Essentially they’re the same site, but TV.com is aesthetically far superior. My gripe with the site now, though, is that I find it much harder to find information. They used to have episode guides with “Notes” underneath each episode description. That way, you could check out an entire season just by scrolling down. Now, you have to click the episode title in order to get any notes (which were my favorite part, since they had a bunch of fun fact tidbits), making it highly inconvenient to check them out. Goes to show you that sometimes making a website prettier in order to “improve” it can come at the expense of the quality of the content.

Oh, and About the Teaser….

Normally I loathe it when commercials use “regular” characters, whether they be fictional or actual celebrities. Ed O’Neal and Damon Wayans for 1-800-Call-ATT (or whatever it was they were shilling) and Teri Hatcher and Howie Long for RadioShak immediately come to mind. However, I have been loving the Geico Cavemen commercials. The first one was hilarious (“Not cool!”), as was the addition (“that’s really condescending”). I think that the newest one, with the guy doing the commercial and the two cavemen in the classy restaurant, is the best one of them of them all. The caveman’s facial expression after he says “I have no appetite” is priceless. I hope they don’t overexpose it by doing 10 more commercials (like the Burger King office people), but right now I find them hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious commercials, the “Characters Welcome” ones on the USA network (for its primetime original series) were great. The “Clairvoyant Child” one for The 4400, where Maia was walking through a hospital waiting room saying “Girl, girl, boy, girl, boy” as she passed by each pregnant woman, and the “Reliable” and “Reluctant Psychic” ones for Johnny Smith, where he touches things in every day situations and gets visions based on them were all really funny. It’s up there with the Dead Zone/Monk cross-over commercial they did last year.

Speaking of The Dead Zone, expect the recap/review to be posted either later today or tomorrow. It was an enjoyable episode, as I’m noticing that this season seems to be a lot more episodic than last season. I’m sure they’ll have longer-term story arcs as the season nears its end, but right now I’m liking the simplicity of being able to just sit back and enjoy the show without necessarily feeling like you have to remember every little detail.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the column this week, as always feel free to send me an e-mail. Also be sure to check out the rest of the Flagships, as they’re all really well done and highly entertaining.