Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big Dance News

The powers-that-be are seriously toying with So You Think You Can Dance this year, and we think it may actually be a good thing this time. The beloved summer (yes FOX, you heard me, SUMMER) show is changing people, get on board... because we certainly are.

Executive producer, creator, head judge, general pooh bah Nigel Lithgow just announced the new format the show will be taking on, the biggest change since season 2 saw the dancers in consistent pairings and eliminated by judges' choice.

This year there won't be a top 20, it will be a top 10, and only 1 dancer will go home each week. What? You ask, how is that possible, the numbers won't match up?!

Well, according to Nigel, they have a plan, a pretty good one. The top 10 will come out of Vegas week in usual fashion, just fewer of them. Then when they make it to the big stage they'll be paired up with an All-Star. Yup, an All-Star. Past contestants will be back to dance alongside this year's competitors in their specialty style. The first dancer in the All-Star pool, and the most obvious choice, was announced today and it's season 4's fan favourite Twitch who'll be representing hip hop, popping, krump and all things Twitch-y.

Otherwise, the format will stay pretty much the same: only the competing dancers will face the judges, viewers will still vote and the judges will still have the final say in who goes home after incredibly boring and pointless results-show solos. 

This sounds like a great idea to me. I love the old contestants (fingers crossed for my favourites Danny Tidwell and Katee Shean to return). But will their presence take away from the competing dancers? If I have old favourites to invest in am I going to care about the new kids? The new format might crash and burn but I like the idea behind it and am psyched to see where it takes the constantly re-invented series.

In related and happy SYTYCD news, Mia Michaels is back on board both choreographing and in the rotating judge's chair (apparently with the guest judges they may sometimes have a fourth member of the panel this season- hello Canada rip-off!). Thank God Mia's back though, the show needs her woo woo artistry and razor sharp critiques to keep them out of saccharine territory. And Mary Murphy will apparently be taking some time out of her permanent judge's chair to choreograph for the show as well.

Big changes, all of them good? Get psyched for the summer when time will tell.

The My TV Honorary Award

This year we are introducing a new feature as part of our annual My TV Awards: The Honorary Award. This distinction, announced separately from the rest of the winners, is awarded to one person each year to celebrate standout achievement in any given category.

This year's winner was an unparalleled presence on television in 2009, breaking new ground in the category of Best Supporting Actor in a Drama.

Congratulations Enver Gjokaj, 
this year's My TV Honorary Award Winner. 

As Victor, one of the key programmable blank slates in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, Gjokaj lifted the series to new heights with every personality he took on. Over the course of the short-lived series, he tackled a multitude of foreign accents and varied demeanors, perfectly mimicked established characters, developed two full heroes in original personality Anthony and doll-state Victor and even played a serial killer and a promiscuous school girl in a single episode all the while perfectly balancing superb comic timing with standout dramatic abilities. Gjokaj, in many ways, saved the severely flawed series by elevating Victor and his many ramifications to the point where he transcended the series to take his place among the Whedon elite.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The 2009 My TV Award Winners

Congratulations to all this year's winners. 
CLICK HERE for the full list of 2009 My TV Award recipients

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Words To Live By from 'Modern Family'

"This is the funny thing about growing up. For years and years, everybody's desperately afraid to be different in any way. And then, suddenly, almost over night, everybody wants to be different. And that is where we win"

- Mitchell (Modern Family)

Beautiful = Bitchy?

In the incredibly artificial world of Ugly Betty it makes total sense that her holier-than-thou, do-gooder thing would completely disappear to be replaced by ruthless ambition and general heartlessness if she'd been born with perfect teeth. Not because pretty people are evil (though the Betty powers-that-be beg to differ), but because Betty's always been a bit of a villain simply hiding behind her outsider status.

That personality 180 was pretty much the premise of this week's episode: an It's A Wonderful Life-esque adventure of predictable and angering proportions. It was also a bit of an excuse to get the stunning America Ferrera out of her horrible Betty trappings to show her off for a day. But that's beside the point.

and so I write:

Dear Betty People (oh, and CC the Glee people while we're at it),

Being pretty does NOT make you mean. It doesn't make you selfish or vain or ambitious or callous. It just means you're pretty. Sure, sometimes the less-than-beautiful people are forced to grow thicker skin, they may run from the mainstream or fashion world to protect themselves. They may make a big stink about individuality and down-to-earth inner beauty. But that doesn't make them better people. Pretty people suffer too. Kids are mean, they'll find something to pick on in everybody. At least with the ugly kids it's their hair or their teeth, not their intelligence, their values, their family or their abilities. Of course some of the pretty people are mean. But some of them aren't. Appearance is not a symbol for anything. Villains aren't all scarred and weathered, victims aren't always blonds; glasses don't make you smarter; muscles don't mean you're dumb; perfect hair is not a pre-requisite for menace, but neither is frizzy hair, ugly extensions, terrible bangs or a bald head. It only means something if television manages to convince the public that it does. Betty's entire personality couldn't, wouldn't change because of teeth. Teeth just aren't that important.


PS: why are we doing entire episodes about teeth when Justin's going through a life-changing issue? Instead of traveling to London next week, how 'bout we stay at the Suarez household and spend some much-needed air time with Ugly Betty's most sympathetic character.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Everybody Loves Seth Aaron

From week one of Project Runway's 7th season I've had a standout favourite. However, this is the first time ever that my favourite seems to be everyone else's too. Seth Aaron is not only a front runner (a Bryant Park shoe-in, not to mention my forecasted winner) but a fan favourite and the designer most in demand by the models. He's won 2 challenges and been in the top 3 almost every week. His model consistently likes their look. The judges rave about him. The other designers all love working with and around him. The models all confess in their interviews to wanting him to chose them. His muse model (Valeria, whom he's chosen almost every week) even turned down a high-paying, high-profile print job this week in order to stay and work with him, she barely even considered leaving. If Valeria was working with any other designer in the competition, I'd bet money that she'd have taken that job. But Seth Aaron's different. The man's got it all: superb construction skills, a unique voice, an artistic eye, stylish taste, a sense of tradition, a definite edge, a sense of self, outstanding teamwork, a good workroom manner, a sense of humour, a serious side, natural charisma and a Paul Gross meets Johnny Depp thing going on. He's the star of the show, but never shows any signs of knowing that. The only designer in a position to come close to rivaling him is Emilio, and even he's a bit of a second fiddle to Seth Aaron's awesomosity if Tim's reaction to Emilio's print this week was any indication. This is Seth Aaron's game to lose but even if he does,  he's already won me over forever. Me and everyone else.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two Villains Torched

The main difference between scripted series and reality television is that true reality television is seldom influenced by the audience (with the exception of those shows which require America to vote in certain categories). For this reason, the fan favorites on shows like The Amazing Race hardly ever win and the most enjoyable roommates on The Real World barely get air time. So the best episodes of these reality shows occur when the viewer feels as though the episode was written for them (with the exception of those clearly scripted shows like The Hills or The Kardashians).

What I'm getting at here, is tonight's Survivor felt scripted...in the amazing that's-exactly-what-I-wanted-to-happen way. The episode began on a dreary note with Jeff announcing that the players would be competing for individual immunity because each tribe would be voting someone off. This has been a clear ploy at causing drama on both tribes for a few years now, and for the most part it's always seemed incredibly unfair. It's one thing to get rid of two players during the merger but the tribes should be all about forming a strong tribe to win. Essentially, the Villains deserved another chance at completely clobbering the Heroes, but instead one of them was fairly sent packing for viewer reasons.

After getting past my initial frustrations, I settled in for the most exciting tribal councils this season. Candace out performed all the men on her tribe to win immunity (even beating the self proclaimed niece out-doer James and his roid rage). Colby quickly settled in for his eviction and even honorably told the tribe not to scheme and to just enjoy their last day with him. Apparently reverse psychology works best you aren't even trying to use it, because within minutes J.T., Rupert, and Amanda were arguing over whether or not James' injury really would be a detriment to the tribe. Amanda, playing the worst game of Survivor to date, once again showed her emotions routing for James and convinced him to demonstrate his racing abilities....which he did but failed at.

Over in the Villians' camp, it was automatically decided that Parvati would leave but everyone would make Russell think it was his turn so they could flush out the idol.If Rob were playing a chess game against Russell, this would be the point where he puts Russell's king in check. Unfortunately, for the first time this season, Russell flexed his brain muscles and quickly caught wind of their plan. He pulled aside Parvati and Danielle and threw out a plan to give Parvati the idol thus ensuring both of them stay in. Looks like Russell escaped that check and planted one of his own on Rob's queen. Unfortunately for Russell, Rob is proving to be quite the enemy as he realizes Russell could potentially give away the idol and thus the best decision would be to split the votes 3 to 3 (with Rob, Coach, Jerry, Courtney, Tyson, and Sandra splitting their votes between Parvati and Russell). And check to Russell's queen...again. But wait! Russell retaliates by attempting to convince Tyson of his desire to give in and vote out Parvati, hoping that Tyson would change his vote to Parvati and leaving 2 votes for Russell instead of the necessary three.

Regardless of all the back and forth between the tribes, the expectation was the Russell's plan would inevitably fail and he would be sent home, while the idiotic Heroes would continue their poor moves and vote out Colby. The Villains arrive at tribal to vote someone out first and then they have the opportunity to watch the Heroes' tribal (a reward from their challenge win when Rob outperformed Candace for some hot dogs). The suspense builds as Jeff asks for any hidden immunity idols and then...commercial break! ARGH! After commercial, Russell stands up and walks over to Jeff with the idol (my initial reaction: I knew this guy lost his game this season, he may be saving himself but there goes his last chance for survival due to his own pride). Russell shocks the world, and re-fosters some much needed love on my part, when he makes a speech to Coach about keeping his word and demonstrates his integrity by giving the immunity to Parvatie. As Jeff reads the votes, Parvati's 4 votes are voided and Tyson receives 3 votes to Russells 2.

Next, the Heroes walk in as the Villains begin their hot dog feast. The Heroes' resident villain, James, shows his classless nature again by insulting Colby and comparing him to someone in a fat suit (if Colby is fat than I am obese) and showing his poor sportsmanship by complaining about the hot dog eating opponents. In the end, the Heroes shocked the world by making the first smart decision and getting rid of James. HALLELUJAH THE VILLAIN IS GONE! What's that? Two of my least favorite contestants gone in one night? FANTASTIC.

Further Thoughts:
*Candace is lucky she won that immunity. The girl worked hard for it and deserved some extra time on the island. Had she lost, however, James would still be in and you can bet Candace would have been gone without a second thought.
*Russell finally shows his strategy but a huge amount of luck helped him out. More than luck, actually, what cemented Russell's plan was Tyson's stupidity. When you have a solid alliance of 6 people, you stick to that regardless. Tyson's instructions were to vote out Russell and had he done that he would still be in the game.
*Thus, I predict if the Villains lose again Russell will leave.
*I'm beginning to think this is going to be a season where the strong winning alliance will definitely not be from one tribe. None of the Heroes have strong ties left (possibly Amanda, J.T., and Rupert but the first two definitely have friends on the other tribe who are more important to them) and the Villains will likely team up with some Heroes to get rid of the outsiders on their team (notable Parvati and Danielle if they make it to the merger, assuming Russell doesn't).
*Rob won his tribe yet another victory with the reward of hot dogs. His physical strength will surely keep him around for a while but he may need to calm it down a bit or else everyone will see him as the indisputable threat.
*Watch for Amanda to actually start playing the game well. Her emotional connection to James has been severely holding her back and this is a girl who has made the finals twice. Now all she needs to do is hide her already apparent alliance with Parvati if the two make it to the merge.

Izzie Checks Out

It's official. After weeks of rumors, Katherine Heigl has announced her departure from Grey's Anatomy. Katherine is the third original cast member to leave the series thus far and her departure is receiving mixed reviews. The biggest downside is the inevitable divorce between Heigl's Izzy and the heartbroken Alex (Justin Chambers). Alex and Izzie have proven to be on the most cheered for couples in the history of the show, and unfortunately due to either Heigl or the ABC execs this relationship will not be receiving a satisfactory ending.

Add Alex and Izzie to the slowly building list of horrible relationship endings. The first occurred when Burke left Christina at the altar and was never seen again. Grey's needs to learn a valuable lesson here: don't let your actors out of the contracts until after you wrap up their stories. It's beginning to look like the drama offstage is just as much because of the execs as it is because of the actors.

While others will disagree, for me Heigl's exit will be detrimental to the series. She is an amazing actress who clearly valued her personal life over the series, but there will be an obvious void in the series; however, in many ways the addition of Arizona has brought a new found liveliness to an otherwise flat-lined series. The down-side? Izzy's exit may pave the way for Teddy to stick around a bit longer (especially if Kim Raver is bumped to series regular). If Rhimes and company think for a moment that Teddy can fill the Izzy void, they are severely mistaken.

An Ode to an Amazing Team

It's no secret that Big Brother is a huge guilty pleasure of My TV. Thus, it's no surprise that this writer was ecstatic to see last season's winner Jordan and her showmance/alliance-mate Jeff take on a new reality competitions: The Amazing Race.

After coming in last two weeks ago and barely escaping elimination last week, Jeff and Jordan once again found themselves in the back of the pack. Sadly, this time Phil informed them that they were eliminated from the race.

The main reason I'll miss Jeff and Jordan is not because they are Big Brother hamsters from the past, but rather because they are the most casual, carefree team I have ever seen on The Amazing Race. Jeff and Jordan were almost the perfect duo because they never argued. This would come as a surprise to most who have seen them bicker throughout their last series, but regardless of Jordan's stupidity or Jeff's for that matter, the two never fought once. Instead, they laughed throughout the world as they crossed each finish line (even until the end when Jeff feigned surprise at being the final team to arrive). The duo played this game hoping to have fun and it looks like they did. Jordan explained in her exit speech that she was happy to have the chance to travel the world. What most of these racers don't realize is that they have an amazing opportunity to race around the world (hmmm so that's where the title comes from) and by doing so they get to see the world. It may take a simpleton like Jordan to remind us what a privilege she was given, but this is what makes The Amazing Race a continuously Emmy Award winning series. It isn't the arguments, drama, road blocks, or foot races but rather the sites, the passion, and the experience. Jeff and Jordan will go down in history as one of the best teams to play this game simply because they knew to enjoy it. It was never about the win for them, it was always about the experience. And they sure had some fun while doing it.

Girl, I Don't Care

Gossip Girl is one of the few scripted shows I actually look forward to week after week. After a few month hiatus, the show returned a three weeks ago to some less than stellar episodes.

The main problem with Gossip Girl is it's focusing on story lines and characters I don't care about, and the don't care category is way out-weighing the care category.

Things I Don't Care About
1/ Chuck's Mom- Each episode has been primarily focused on two plots and the one involving Chuck, for once, bores the heck out of me. For three episodes, we've been asked to reexamine whether or not this mysterious woman with the annoying accent is in fact the bad boy's biological mama. Can we all just agree that in a year it won't matter who it is, and chances are Chuck will not be effected by her presence in the long run? Furthermore, if she is the mother, why hire such a boring and horrible actress? She may look like Chuck but she sure as hell is not as charismatic on screen. The only way this story can improve is if mom becomes a raging she-devil and wrecks havoc on Chuck and company.

2/ Jenny and Damien- I mean, let's be honest, I don't care about Jenny period; however, the introduction of Damien (Kevin Zegers) was an exciting addition mainly due to the actor's previous credits. All went to hell, once again, when Damien proved to be a one note character whose only role is to cause more rifts between the adolescent rebel Jenny and her amazing father (who would ever argue with such a good father?). Jenny has always been a thorn in the show and she continues to prick at the decent drama which is left...hopefully.

3/ Nate and Serena's constant sex- These two start every episode enthralled in passion. It's nice to see both of them happy for once but the constant sex is clearly hinting toward an entirely physical relationship void of any real emotion. Nate's love for Serena has been clear since the whole Tripp scandal, and even further back since the premiere episode, so his side is acceptable. Serena, on the other hand, is back to her meaningless self and she is with Nate for all the wrong reasons. As much as I hate to admit it, Serena was the least annoying with Dan and hopefully these two will resurface again soon.

4/ Serena's Dad- Until Mr. Baldwin actually surfaces as the father, all talk of him needs to cease. I'm sure with an entertaining actor as the character, Mr. van der Woodsen will prove to be a welcoming addition to the show, but for now he's causing too many dumb arguments. Lily and Rufus have a wonderful love story and to ruin it by some dead-beat dad is ridiculous. Furthermore, Lily's confession about the kiss just seemed like a lie. Chances are it was based on her recent conversation with her mother in which she was told that Dr. van der Woodsen was the best man to administer the tests. Is Lily sick? I hope so, or else once again we have a disappointing plot.

5/ Dan and Vanessa- Sometimes they're cute. Most times they aren't. Bringing Dan and Vanessa together further demonstrates my lifelong assertion that straight men and women cannot be friends without some sexual attraction. Sadly, the audience knows Dan and Vanessa won't stick so the relationship is often painfully awkward to watch.

6/ Eric- I just miss him. I still think he is an incredibly underrated character who should be bumped to series regular status.

Things I Like
Okay, I admit, I was writing this post while watching the latest episode and in the end it turns out Mama Chuck is actually heinous bitch...I'm kind of excited.

Obsessions of March 23, 2010

My Theatre: My TV's new sister site, My Theatre premiered recently with reviews of Toronto's new hit My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, a Conneticut Repertory Theatre Comedy of Errors and the national touring production of The Lion King. You'll also find a link to Jude Law's wonderful Hamlet-themed SNL monologue and a first-hand account of life as an actor charged with villainy from contributing author Jim Melo. Check in regularly for more from the world of theatre as the "My Entertainment World" family grows. www.mytheatreblog.ca

The return of United States of Tara: my second favourite Showtime show is back on the air (second only to the incomparable Dexter). Emmy winner Toni Collette returns in her powerhouse title role with all the wonderful supporting cast that made season one of Diablo Cody's heartfelt dramedy so memorable. This week's premiere episode has already started the season off in a promising direction.

Boston Rob: he was my favourite going in and has only risen in my estimation since the premiere of Heroes vs. Villains. Clearly the leader of his tribe, this Survivor veteran is too in control too early in the game to likely make it to the end but every week that he stays will be another week I love this season of Survivor (a show I have not watched faithfully since Rob's last appearance in the original All-Stars season).

Rowley: I'm not saying you should actually go see Diary of a Wimpy Kid, it's really just an ok movie at best. But if you do and come out of it not loving a kid named Rowley, something's wrong with you. Also, it needs to be said, Greg Heffley might be the worst role model I have ever seen on screen (then again, I've never seen a Miley Cyrus movie). 

The Amazing Race Cowboys: these charismatic sweethearts have proven themselves to be front-runners in an excellent season of the race. Surprisingly smart, daring as hell, cooperative, competitive and determined, Jet and Cord have everything they need to win the race (including the always helpful sibling relationship, a common race-winner).

Drop Dead Diva season one: I've been re-watching the show on my wonderful screener DVDs from Lifetime and am loving it now as much as (if not more than) I did the first time around.  It's even greater when you know the story of the show's creation. Read my interview with creator Josh Berman for the full scoop on the size 16 who carries herself like a supermodel. Season two premieres in June on Lifetime.

The Liam Triangle: Naomi is hands down the most interesting character on the new 90210 (though both Adrianna and Silver are plenty entertaining) and I'm usually rooting for her, but I think I may be on team Ivy in this one. Sure before the whole Jen thing Naomi and the incredibly hot Liam were perfect for one another but lately I really think that what the broody boy needs is a nice low-key surfer chick who just gets him.

The Actor's Shakespeare Project's Othello: Boston's premiere Shakespeare troupe conquered one of the bard's toughest tragedies with ease and artistry. Though Othello was outmatched by his cast mates (though cursed with an unsympathetically stupid character from the get go), Desdemona was breathtaking, Emilia heartrending and Iago thrilling.

Michael Imperioli: as I make my way through my Sopranos box set I find myself liking his character of Christopher more every episode. He quickly became the highlight of the series for me.

Bradley Whitford on The Sarah Silverman Program: I love to see my beloved Josh Lyman anywhere but the absurdity of him as a guest star on one of TV's oddest programs made me giggle delightedly.

Season 4 of Big Love: I know I never actually wrote about it (the fact that I missed the finale playing a definite part there) but I just want you to know that I loved this season every bit as much as its predecessors. Amy Acker is right, Big Love is the best thing out there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All Mass No Class

Who would have thought that the most evil villain of all the Survivors would be the hero James?

This week marked my abandonment of the the Heroes tribe once and for all. After weeks and weeks of bad mouthing his fellow contestants and essentially acting like a high school bully, the once noble James finally got what appeared to be a delicious taste of karma. James took a not-so-hard fall during the reward challenged and messed up his knee causing him to sit out of the challenge. When the Heroes once again lost the reward challenge due to their inept puzzle skills (and Rob's amazing leadership skills), the vote came down to either Tom or James. Once again J.T. proved to be the decided vote. Would he stick with his original alliance of Amanda, James, and Rupert despite James' threatening injury or would he stay true to his new found alliance with Tom and Colby? Either way Candace was bound to listen to J.T. since she was clearly on the fence but pushing for a James exit. A dramatic tribal council ensued in which James once again placed all the blame on the two people he wanted out the most: Tom and Candace (anyone else having flashbacks of his speech to Stephenie about how she lost the challenge for the team? Someone is clearly trying to save his own ass by placing a target on his enemies'). And in the most disappointing tribal ever, J.T. for some idiotic reason got rid of Tom.

Now that this season is a quarter of the way through (and we don't have a new episode next week....grrrrrr!!!!), I shall re-rank the remaining contestants...take a look back at the previous Survivor posts to see how the ranks have changed after the first few episodes:

15/ James- Need I say more? As the most evil player this season, James has surpassed the title of villain; that distinction goes to someone who uses their deceitfulness to advance in the game, but James hides behind his muscles and bullies the other contestants. It doesn't help that he is solely in charge of voting out two of the most beloved heroes ever: Tom and Stephenie. As the biggest fan of Survivor ever, I promise to never watch this show again if James wins. Seriously.

14/ Amanda- As one of the returning favorites I was most looking forward to, Amanda has greatly disappointed fans by hiding behind James. The sister-brother relationship is understandable, but this is a girl who kicked some serious ass with her own strategic game play and all-female alliance (the glory days of Fans vs. Favorites). Unless Amanda starts playing for herself she is sure to stay at the bottom of this list and lose out on the million dollars...again.

13/ Rupert- If my hatred for James and Amanda wasn't so elevated due to this weeks episode, Rupert would have been last on the list. He is still loved by fans and considered one of the most heroic contestants but I don't see it. Case in point: throwing Jerry into the pole during tonight's reward challenge and then pretending it was an accident. Argue me on this point and I will replay the scene until you clearly see what happened: Rupert literally lifting her up and throwing her face-first into the pole. Someone horribly mislabeled the so called Heroes.

12/ Tyson- Still the only villain who has the title simply for being a jerk. Tyson has little air time this season and his only quips come during confessionals. All in all, another boring and undeserving contestant. He will sadly slide through the radar and I predict a final four finish unless a strong alliance takes him out.

11/ Candace- I want to love Candace but she made a dumb move tonight. The girl was smart enough to fight for James' termination but unfortunately it was J.T.'s call in the end. She had a momentary alliance with Colby during day one and it should have lasted much longer. Candace is next on the chopping block which James' made apparent tonight when he bashed her performance during tribal. If I were Candace, I would start the last minute scrambling immediately. Don't expect to see her make the merge.

10/ J.T.- I hate that J.T. beats out most of the villains on my list, but strategically I cannot bash his game. He got rid of the most strategic player last week but managed to stick with his original alliance and regain their trust...which is a rarity in this game. The main reason I have faith in J.T. is that I truly believe he has an alliance already secured on the opposite team. By teaming back up with James and Amanda, J.T. has assured himself a spot in the merge and I wouldn't be shocked if he joined forces with ex-allies Tyson and Coach.

9/ Russell- This guy was my number one pick for Villains prior the the premiere but he clearly is way out of his league. Russell thinks the immunity idol will save him but what he doesn't realize is he's no longer playing with idiots. Case in point: instructing Parvati to ride his coattails. Her response, "I don't ride coattails baby." She may need his help at this point, but she will cut him long before he cuts her. Also, Russell will only go far in this game if he aligns with Rob instead of targeting him. Sure, his immunity may work once to eliminate an enemy but I see Russell being one of the next two villains to leave, and deservedly so.

8/ Danielle- Danielle who? I'm still not entirely sure what she's doing on this season, and what she's done to deserve a spot. That being said, I can easily see her in the final four with Tyson...in a season of such strong players, the quiet ones often slide in to the end and sometimes even win (oh hey Amber).

7/ Colby- Notice Colby beat out three villains on my list? That's because Colby is the only semi-heroic hero left in the game. Sadly, unless his team starts winning this cowboy's days are numbered. I strongly believe the Heroes won't change their strategy and that Candace will be next followed by Colby (unless they want to just get rid of the major outcast first and kindly give Candace another week). Colby's position on this list would have been much higher had he not showed his cocky nature during the reward challenge...which he then lost. Come on Colby, in a tribe full of villains we need one actual hero.

6/ Coach- Really?!? Number six? I hated Coach prior to this season, although apparently only ranked him as 5 out of 10 on the Villains tribe. To give him a spot in the top half of my overall list really demonstrates my love for the Villains. Maybe it's his random showmance for Jerri, or maybe it's his bro-love for Rob, either way Coach is actually entertaining (in a good way) this season. More importantly, I look forward to the day when he must choose between Rob and Russell...it's going to be good.

5/ Sandra- This lady is not afraid to hold back. We've seen little of her this season but every time she's on screen I tend to be captivated. It's the semi-carefree attitude that won Sandra the million last time and I predict she will last longer than any other previous winner (J.T. and Parvati being the only other ones remaining). I might if wager a final four finish for her as well.

4/ Jerri- I like her. Again, this is a new feeling and I'm not sure how to really go about expressing it but Jerri just rubs me the right way for once. She seems lighthearted and fun this go around. Sure Jerri might not have a solid alliance but if the Villains stick together (and I suspect they mostly will) she will go far in this game.

3/ Parvati- This girl is doomed. I still love her but she's doomed. The best/worst thing to happen to Parvati is Russell. Best because he will be targeted before she is, but worst because she will be targeted next (or first if the immunity idol threatens the others). At this point, Parvati's only real chance is to hope that the Villain's keep winning immunity challenges. Sadly, Parvati's days are numbered.

2/ Courtney- Okay so I've already said that Tyson and Danielle will probably make the final four but Courtney is another name to add to the list, and the first I actually want to have make it. Once again, because of the awesome winning streak of her team, Courtney has been given little airtime this season; however, she seems to be having a lot more fun this time around. As a decent strategist, I look forward to seeing Courtney being the game (but don't expect that to happen until post-merger).

1/ Boston Rob- I have no words. He single-handedly is responsible for most of the Villains' wins and it's about time this all-star got what he deserved: one-million. Oddly enough, Rob's biggest threat this time around is that he is the most likable tribe mate and he would not be the best guy to bring to the finals because of that (there's also Russell's pesky idol which may bring about his demise unless he's smart...stay tuned).

Interestingly, Courtney and Parvati are the only ones who remain at the top of my list. Stayed tuned for Survivor's return in two weeks and look forward to my new rankings once five more castaways leave and we're left with the final 10.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comic Drama? Of Course!

It's not often that How I Met Your Mother impresses with it's dramatic performances. Typically, it's the comic chops of the actors that stand out and add to the overall entertainment of the show. In this weeks "Of Course" Colbie Smulders went above and beyond her usually captivating (and often underrated) performance by adding some drama to her list of accomplishes.

The episode centered around Barney's attempts to bed Anita, a strong-willed author whose novel tells women how to just say "no" and find the right man. Anita was played by Jennifer Lopez in a not-so-surprisingly fitting role (recall a few years back when J.Lo poked fun of herself on Will and Grace). Partially through the episode, Robin admits that Anita and Barney's meeting was not a coincidence, but rather she met Anita on her news show and the author offered to teach Barney a lesson. Thus, Anita's seductive ways and subsequent abandonment of Barney makes sense. The queen of "no" refuses to have sex with Barney until date number seventeen.

While Barney's storyline drove the comedy of the episode (thanks entirely to NPH and J. Lo), it was Robin who had the standout arc. For the first time since her break up with Barney, the audience is given insight into Robin's mourning. Lily admits to Marshall that she had previously seen Robin cry over Barney. Later, Marshall spreads the news to Ted and when the three catch Robin crying in the bathroom they finally confront Barney. What follows is one of the most heart-breaking and realistic portrayals of a break-up aftermath. Barney, being the genuinely nice guy he is, checks on Robin and apologizes for flaunting his many post-relationship conquests. Smulders delivers an emotionally charged performance as she tells Barney that his actions makes her feel as though she's "just another number" to him. In the end, Barney gives his planned super date (the most romantic night which would have resulted in conquering Anita) to Robin after she shows her distress over him never showing her special treatment. To further his awesomeness (or maybe his guilt?) but does an even more noble thing by letting Don be the escort of the date.

While some fans loved the Barney-Robin relationship, others were still left with a sour taste in their mouth when it just didn't feel right. Personally, the biggest problem with their relationship was the end. It was unbelievable to just assume that two people could immediately go back to being friends after having such a significant relationship (and this was significant since Barney actually settled down). For the first time, my anger for the writers of this show overpowered any entertainment derived from watching. It's one thing to shift the plot in order to focus on comedy but it's another thing to disregard drama for the sake of humor. This week's episode restored my faith in HIMYM. Using their token flashback sequences, the writer's once again proved that there was a path all along. Several clips from previous episodes were seen again and extended to showcase Robin's emotional mourning period. Relationships, no matter how good or bad, always result in mourning on one person's part at least and it was a refreshing taste of real life to see Robin's break down post break-up.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A Snoozer of a Show

It needs to be said: the Oscars were bad.

I have yet to read any reviews or criticisms about the show but I have never been more bored with an award show in ages.

First, the hosts were painfully boring. The entire opening act went far too long and left me confused rather than entertained. Both Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were clearly attempting some sort of monotone comedy which fell completely flat. There was not a single joke in the opening that actually brought about laughter. Even the actors who were poked fun at seemed unamused and those who didn't were obviously...well, acting. Furthermore, the vast majority of presenter speeches were just as horrid (with the exception of a few). Whoever wrote this show needs to be banned from future writing. I partially blame the writers and hugely blame the hosts. Steve Martin is not funny anymore. Alec Baldwin is at times. The two together were one hot mess. What about Tina Fey? She was in the audience. She could have done a much better job. Steve Carrell? He was there too. Both of them? Perfect! And it would have promoted their movie.

The real sad point came when the person I was watching with turned to me and said, "isn't The Real World on or something?". And to be honest, I would have much rather watched The Real World at least they have a housemate who makes me laugh constantly. Get him to host for Christ's sake!

But I digress.

The show did have a few redeeming qualities...and by a few, I mean four:

1/ NPH! Okay fine, Neil Patrick Harris' song and dance was actually horribly underwhelming. He can do better and has done better, but I'm going to blame whoever wrote that horrible song. That being said, just seeing him as the opening number made me have some high expectations for the night...which quickly were destroyed.

2/ Ben Stiller. His costume as one of the Avatar's was absolutely perfect. His was the only presenting speech deserving laughter. Maybe he should have been the host...

3/ The dancers. Whoever had that idea needs to be promoted. It's not often that any care is given to original score and these amazing dancers did justice to the songs unlike anything I've ever seen in the past. It helps that their moves were astonishing and it was difficult to look away. Props to the dancers for their beautiful choreography.

4/ Sandra Bullock. First of all, when three of your friends text you saying various forms of "yay!" you know that someone deserving finally one (or maybe you know that they appreciate your obsession for a certain amazing actress...but that's neither here nor there). I admit to not actually having seen The Blind Side but I've nothing but good things to say about Sandra's acting since Miss Congeniality (which really should have earned her an Oscar if silly comedies were ever recognized...and yes I really do believe that). It wasn't just Sandra's win that made the night worth watching but her acceptance speech. She made us laugh...she made us cry...and more importantly she wasn't cut off! Sandra's speech was one of the best I've ever seen if not the best and this is coming right off of last year's incredibly adorable speech by Kate Winslet. Her speech didn't surprise me and if anyone caught Barbara Walter's final Oscar interview with Sandra, you wouldn't have been surprised either. That girl has a great sense of humor and knows how to work the crowd. Special shot out to Maryl, her lover. Best moment ever.

Strategy Queen Dethrowned

Week after week the one show I look forward to consistently is Survivor. Usually, after watching an episode on Thursday night, I'm filled with observations, frustrations, and strategy-talk which I'm desperate to discuss. This week something different happened...this week I was at a loss of words...this week a part of my Survivor soul died.

Don't get me wrong, last Thursday's episode was the epitome of why Survivor kicks some serious ass, but the outcome left me simultaneously sour and impressed. There's nothing worse than watching you top favorites take each other out and unfortunately no matter what the outcome on Thursday, that was bound to happen.

The episode began with some very entertaining (albeit annoying) words of sorrow from Coach who felt left out from the tribe. In typical middle-school fashion, the dragon slayer began to cry over the fact that nobody likes him. Frankly, I would sympathize with the man had he not added the bit about how he is the only moral person playing the game. It's one thing to feel left out but it's another thing entirely to gloat about yourself in the process. In typical Tyson fashion, he supported Coach throughout the breakdown and then made fun of him to his entire tribe the next day. Someone please get rid of Tyson.

Okay, back to the problem with this episode/what made it really entertaining. Once again the Heroes fell victim to poor team work. And by "poor team work" I mean they fell victim to Rob who has single-handedly won every immunity challenge for the Villains. Immediately, it looked like Tom or Colby was heading home since they are still on the outs after their alliance with Stephenie (R.I.P.). Luckily, this week they also found a clue to the hidden immunity idol and Tom easily found it. I truly believe Tom may have pulled a fast one on them had his acting skills been a bit better and his stealth a bit sneakier. Sadly, Amanda saw that Tom was acting strange and noticed him place the idol in his socks. But if you are a fan of Survivor you know that the threat of the idol effects the game much more often than the actual idol does. Tom wisely uses the idol as a bargaining tool when he promises to help Amanda and J.T. with it in the future if they will merely let him and Colby join the popular gang (you can just here Coach in the background whining about not fitting in....find an idol and you will!). Amanda and J.T. easily are persuaded to let the men in and it's quickly decided that Candace will get the boot.

Then the fatal flaw happened. Cirie, in her infinite strategic ways, realized that Candace leaving would mean she was next. Here's the thing about Cirie: she is the most strategic player to ever join Survivor. Unless you've seen every single season, you can't even begin to challenge that statement. Cirie made it to the final four twice because she knows how to manipulate others into doing things that really only benefit her in the long run. Getting rid of Candace would help the tribe because not only is she sort of on the outs but she also is not a superb competitor. Keeping Tom and Colby would only strengthen the team during challenges. I've said it before and I'll say it again: on a season with all-stars the most important thing to do is keep a strong team initially and then get rid of the physically strong players after the merge. Cirie however is not a physically strong player. Sure she can easily destroy the girls during one-on-one combat but she has never been great at the running, swimming, climbing aspect of the challenges. Cirie therefore immediately realized the impending threat against herself and tried to convince Amanda to change her vote. Surprise: it worked! Cirie knows how to manipulate. So why was she sent home last Thursday?

Two reasons:
1/ Fear. Cirie is perfect at manipulating players when she talks to them alone but unfortunately she heard about the plan change in front of three players. She quickly let fear get the best of her and started spewing out strategy without remembering her strong suite: personal, intimate relationships and conversations. Sadly for Cirie, J.T. also overheard from afar and observers of Cirie can easily see through her manipulation if they pay attention carefully.

2/ Fear. Okay fine, that's one reason but trust me it's used in two different ways. Cirie may have been in trouble because of her own fears but she was destroyed because of J.T.'s. Even before the game begin, during the entrance interviews J.T. said he would be targeting the most strategic players such as Cirie. He specifically stated his desire to see Cirie leave first and he found the opportunity to send her packing. J.T. won this game because of his own strength and strategy yet he fears Cirie because she is the greatest strategist to ever play this game.

So why am I so upset? Cirie deserved to make it much longer this year. I'm so used to seeing her in the final four that it just became a presumed outcome. She also is the one of the most lovable players to ever join the game, and sadly newcomers to Survivor won't notice that because she was given little air time this season. On the flip side, seeing Tom take out the idol and seeing J.T. shock the entire tribe by switching his vote will go down in history as one of the best tribal councils ever. Also, on the plus side Tom and Colby are back in the game and deservingly so. If they can grab Candance on board with their alliance then they just might make it to the merge; however, I predict if the heroes lose again they all will unanimously vote out Candance simply because it's an easier bet. Only time will tell.

Side note: Rob I love you but the macho speech to Coach about his need to stop crying and "be a f***ing man" was a little too much, even for you. I realize you are the epitome of a "man's man" but I like to pretend you can also have a soft-side and I really hope you wouldn't say things like that to your son.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Exclusive Interview: showrunner Josh Berman

The My TV Nominee series is back, this time for a conversation with the man behind the 4x My TV Award nominated series Drop Dead Diva. Read on to find out what the charismatic writer has to say about the best comedy series/best new show nominee, getting the series off the ground, life in the writers' room and his 2x nominated leading lady, Brooke Elliott. The sweet and delightfully generous Josh also drops an exclusive tidbit of news about a big guest star in the season premiere, officially announced here before anywhere else.

Take it away, Josh...

Can you describe the process of writing a typical episode?
Generally the other executive producer and I brainstorm an emotional arena for Jane to deal with then look for a legal case that will represent that well. We then take it to the writers room and weeks, sometimes months later we’ll have the story fully broken.

Wasn’t Drop Dead Diva originally conceived for FOX?
It was actually bought by FOX but before I had even finished writing it the writers went on strike. During the strike FOX dropped all their development so it became what’s called a “freeball” script. So we took it to Lifetime and they fell in love with it immediately so it was a no-brainer for them. They’ve been really supportive ever since.

Where did the idea for
Drop Dead Diva come from?
It actually came from a low concept idea. It came from my grandmother, who’s name was actually Deb. She was a Holocaust survivor. She was overweight and only 4’11’’ but she acted like a supermodel after what she went through. So I just started thinking about how to represent my grandmother. So I thought of someone who looks like Jane but carries herself like Deb.

How involved are you in the day to day production of the series?
I work in LA and the show is produced in Georgia but I travel back and forth a lot. I’m actually heading there this week. So I’d say I’m very involved.

Perhaps my favourite thing about Drop Dead Diva is how you treat all your characters equally, holding them to the same standards as human beings with no special treatment or prejudice based on physical appearance or intellect. Is that something that’s important to you?
Absolutely. Stacey is just as insecure about her persona as Jane is, it just comes from a different place. In my experience, no one is without insecurity, so we try to represent that.

Fred was an early favourite among my writing staff, is there any chance we’ll be seeing him again in season 2? What was the reason for his sudden disappearance from season 1?
He’s a series regular now, he’ll be in every episode from now on. Viewers adore him and we love writing him. The only reason he left the show was that he had a deal to be in an ABC show. When it fell through I was on the phone with him right away, arranging for him to come back.

We at My TV were also really big fans of Jane’s boyfriend Tony. Will he be returning for season 2?
He’s definitely coming back. That relationship becomes crucial for Jane really early on in the season.

Is the man at the end of season 1 really Jane’s husband? Was that a twist you had planned all along or did it come to you mid-season?
Jane has a lot of secrets from Deb, and we’re constantly mining them. We always knew there’d be people from Jane’s life coming back, her husband just seemed like a natural choice. It’s definitely her real husband.

The finale also brought lots of ambiguity to Jane’s career. How will her decision to report the evidence last season affect her career?
We start the season with her having left her law firm. I don’t want to give anything away. There’s a big twist that you won’t see coming.

Season 1 featured a ton of great guest stars, is there anyone interesting signed on for season 2 already and are any old favourites returning?
There are lots of great things coming, we haven’t announced them yet. I can announce here for the first time that Paula Abdul will be in the season opener.

What are some things you think audiences would be surprised to learn about your cast?
How close they are. On a lot of shows actors are cordial but just do their own thing, but on Drop Dead Diva they really are close. Some of them live together. They’re all happy to be at work. I’ve never worked on a show before where actors will call me directly with ideas for their characters and the show. They are all very supportive.

If you could hire any anyone to come appear on your show who would it be?
Bette Midler or Cher.

Do you ever have time to watch TV? If so, what are your favourite shows of all time?
A lot in the legal genre: 'The Practice', 'Boston Legal'. I really liked 'Six Feet Under', when it was on. And 'The Office' is still funniest thing on TV.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring showrunner?
Learn all you can, work 7 days a week and learn everything you can about production.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
This show is on Lifetime and doesn’t always get very much attention. I’m just so grateful to sites like this that are really supportive of our show.

Winners of the 2009 My TV Awards will be announced and notified in March. Drop Dead Diva is nominated for Best New Show, Best Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy (Brooke Elliott) and The Be-My-Best-Friend Award (Brooke Elliott).

The new season of Drop Dead Diva premieres in June on Lifetime.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Lovely Day at The Office

Tonight's Office episode was really pretty wonderful. Though Jim and Pam's journey into parenthood started slow with them putting off going to the hospital, her cute food dates with Kevin helped the episode along until it started to pick up.

Once the ball was rolling on Pam finally having the baby, the episode turned into one of the best of the season.

Jim and Pam, in top form, were good for laughs and smiles as they navigated the waters of early parenthood and encountered some wonderfully awkward hijinks along the way.

Dwight and Angela devised a parent contract so they could procreate, drudging up some really poignant character detail that hasn't been visited all season.

and (my favourite)

Andy finally asked Erin out. The tired series has been impressively revived since the arrival of the naively sweet and quirky receptionist and her pairing with golden-hearted Andy had me at the word "go". The pairing's final scene of the episode made for some wonderful television and I can't wait to see more from them.

It truly was a lovely hour spent in The Office this week.

Things I Love Right Now

Seth Aaron- If the most recent episode proved anything, it was that I was right about how awesome he is. Here's hoping tomorrow's episode keeps him at the top of the Project Runway pack.

Christa Miller on Cougartown- I adore the character of Ellie, she's my current TV doppelganger and it makes me happy every single episode.

The Lion King National Tour- the cast is a little shaky (except Nala, she's exceptional) but man that show is good!

Why I'm Okay With It

I'm okay with the fact that Jake picked Vienna because they seem really happy.

I'm okay with it because she brings out a fun side of him that he doesn't otherwise seem to have.

I'm okay with it because other than Gia, all his other options were completely crazypants.

I'm okay with it because I think she really may be better than she was edited to seem and I'm on board with her honesty not meshing with other women.

I'm okay with it because they're about equal amounts of awesome and annoying as each other so they fit well.

I'm okay with it because he did what he wanted to, without caring what everyone else said or thought, he made up his own mind.

and I'm okay with it because I really don't care that much.

I am not, however, okay with Allie for the new Bachelorette. She was super crazy, really very bitchy, and she quit the show part way through! I don't care how many misguided fans the girl has, she was the wrong choice. And because she was such a wrong choice, this season I am going to skip nominating my brother as a bachelor. He can do it next year when they chose a more deserving girl.

Top of the Class

Tonight was the finale of one of my guiltiest TV obsessions: High School Reunion on TV Land. Now that prom is over, there are just a few classmates who really left an impression:

Charming ladies man Marcel, who could have gone to prom with any girl in the house, chose to invite Eric as his date so the former closet case could finally have his dream prom. In absence of Eric's husband, Marcel proved himself the chillest straight man in the world by fulfilling Eric's dream of going to prom with a man. He was charming, fun and inclusive throughout the whole season and, despite being from a rival highschool, earned a spot as my favourite Chaperelle HS classmate.

Antanus' "arc" on the show may have been to say goodbye to his ladies' man days and finally propose to his girlfriend but what the thoughtful golden boy proved was that sometimes the most popular kid in school can also be the sweetest, the football star can also be top of the class and that the star of the show can be the lowest key in the place.

"Teacher's Pet" Tracey wasn't a favourite of mine for the most part but her low maintenance/high spirits combination was an incredibly positive force in the house. Despite her penultimate episode blowup, the reunion's prom queen was a rare stable presence on the show. She was also a rare character in that she wasn't the popular girl or the pretty one, she was an outsider but she found a way to enjoy high school anyway, and it's just that sort of attitude that I liked in her.

Tracey's golden hearted prom date Justin came to the reunion as a rival to ruin it but ended up as the school saviour. He stood up to bullies, he rescued those in distress, he talked sense into the crazy and kept the house at peace, all the while playing Marcel's wingman and giving Tracey the opportunity to go to prom with the hottest guy in the house.

and finally, "the hot girl" Lisette transcended her label. Coming in as one of 2 "summer girls" to be framed as the cliquey villains of the season, Lisette only once seemed to fill her snobbish role (during the clearly producer-driven party invite distribution). The rest of the time she included everyone, tried to connect with new people and generally seemed kind and sympathetic. Pretty? Yes. Polished? Yes. But snobby? I don't think so.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

First Taste of Parenthood

Boredom. Uncertainty. Annoyance. Confusion. These are all emotions which are usually felt when watching a series premiere. Not that all premieres are bad (a few notable exceptions are Lost and Six Feet Under) but some of the best shows on television had mediocre, or even terrible, premieres at best (BTVS and Angel). It generally takes a few episodes to get into the series and to decide whether or not it's worth the watch. If a show every makes a significance impression it generally will continue to be a show I watch, but if not it gets a few more episodes to win me over.

After watching last night's premiere of Parenthood, it's classification among the grand scale of good and bad premieres falls somewhere in between. The story beings with Sarah (Lauren Graham) moving home to live with her parents after she can't afford her current home while raising her two angst-ridden children. Sarah is one of four siblings and the family is filled with a star-studded cast: Peter Krause plays the older go-to sibling Adam, Erika Christensen is cast as the typical career-focused and business savvy lawyer Julia, and Dex Shepard tries a semi-serious role as the immature younger brother Crosby. Right off the bat it becomes clear that the title of this show is the focus: all four of these characters deal with being parents and the ramifications that the title brings with it. Sarah has two teenagers. One immediately suggests his desire to move in with his father, a dead-beat singer, and throughout the episode realizes that said father is always going to be non-existant in his life. The second child is a the bad-ass, all in black, yet extremely watchable Amber (played to perfection by Mae Whitman of In Treatmant and that adorable movie One Fine Day). Meanwhile, Adam and his wife (played by Monica Potter) deal with the newf ound discovery that their son is suffering from asperger's disease. They also have a daughter who does little more in the episode other than get arrested alongside Amber for smoking pot (which may or may not be hers to begin with). Julia only has one child who seems to hugely prefer her father over her career-preoccupied mom. Lastly, Crosby is seemingly childless as he tries to put off impregnating his girlfriend, only to learn by the end of the episode that his ex-girlfriend had his child years ago.

Overall, the episode was enjoyable and, as with most premiere's, hard to judge. There were a few notable pros and cons:
1/ Monica Potter and Peter Krause stole the show with their emotional reactions to their son's disease. At first, Potter was the clear star as she break down while delivering the news to her husband. Shortly thereafter, Adam tearfully pleas for his father's help and wins the heart of this reader (and presumably the entire audience).

2/ The relationship between Sarah and Amber will likely be the best parent-child pairing in the show. Lauren Graham, while not the best actress on the show, was extremely believable as the out of place mother who still held her children up to a certain standard. Her disapproval of rebellious daughter Amber was both fitting and heartbreaking once Amber showed her softer side. Nothing was more enjoyable than watching these two fight and immediately after having Amber help her mother with her date wardrobe.

3/ Casting. All of these characters were cast perfectly based on the premiere. Other than Potter and Krause who stole the show, props go to Mae Whitman for quickly making Amber the only intriguing child (with the exception of Max who does a surprisingly good job portraying a child with asperger's).


1/ The entire first half of the episode moved fairly slowly. It wasn't until Potter's emotional scene that the interest began to build.

2/ Lauren Graham really is an amazing actress but I'm not crazy about her character yet. Less of a focus on her would have been preferred. Then again I bet this show will fall into Brothers and Sisters mode (ie. the new female sibling in town is the main character initially but as the season continues they all share equal time).

3/ The surprise love-child at the end is in poor taste. I would rather watch Crosby deal with the ramifications of becoming a new parent and raising a child, and less with him discovering that he has a new child (also, people learn a lesson: if a girl claims to have given birth to your child but said nothing for three years you must immediately ask for a paternity test....hmm surprise babies are very Brothers and Sisters.

4/ Brothers and Sisters!!! Seriously, this show can be called Parenthood and it can semi-focus on the children but with only two out of six interesting children it's bound to focus primarily on the siblings and their relationship (as most of the premiere did anyways). Unfortunately for Parenthood, it's star sibling is Krause who can easily hold his own among the Walker clan but I can't say the same for the other three...yet.

So did Parenthood pass the test? Well, it definitely didn't fail since I will be watching a few more episodes at least. We'll have to judge again after those next few are done...but I have a feeling it might just stay on my DVR after all.

When the Sun Goes Down, the Smoke Comes Out

Because of all the fanatics and theorists out there, it's hard to do justice to a review of Lost. Sadly, there aren't enough hours in the day to focus on every single scene and analyze every single reference (especially when one is not getting paid to do so). Thus, instead of thoroughly reviewing what I believe to be the most exciting episode this season I present you with some thoughts about "Sundown":

1/ Good and Evil: Throughout the series, the simple struggle between good and evil has always been apparent. Recently Smokie (aka Locke as the Man in Black) chucked a white stone off of the scale in the cave and let the black stone remain. Colors are clearly representative of good and evil. This isn't the first time we've seen color references in Lost (the backgammon pieces, a black and white stone are found in the bodies of the so-called Adam and Eve, the colors of Dharma's logo, the ticker on the button timer is black and white, the color of the panda bear Jin buys, the color of the killer whale Aaron owns, Jacob's clothing colors versus the Man in Blacks, Jack previously references the black and white kittens from Alice in Wonderland....the list goes on!). If there's one thing for certain it's that the nature of good and evil is a huge theme and chances are Jacob and Smokie are on different sides of the battle. I personally refuse to assume Jacob is good simple because of his association with white, and we should never assume as much until it's made clear. My prediction: we will never actually know. Like most of the character's own morals, there is no clear distinction between good and evil and I think assuming that one is right and one is wrong is a faulty way of thinking.

2/ Is Sideways World Really Real?- There's been lots of speculation about whether or not this sideways world is an alternate reality or if it's actually the real world. My guess is it's the future...yea, yea, I know we already saw the future...but this is the real future of the show/end of it! In tonight's episode Smokie promised Sayid that he would get the one thing he wanted. Sayid says that the one thing he wants died in his arms, and Smokie says "wouldn't you like to see that thing again?" This could be interpreted two ways. First, Nadia is the girl he's talking about. If this is the case then we already know he sees her in his sideways world and this would explain why they aren't together. Smokie promised he would see her, not that he would be with her. The second interpretation is that perhaps (though I doubt it) Shannon is the girl he's talking about. Multiple sources have already confirmed that Maggie Grace will return for an episode so we can assume she too will appear in the sideways world (and possibly in Sayid's life). If this happens, then once again it could support the idea that sideways world is the future. Maybe Smokie rewards the castaways by recreating the plane ride and sideways world is really their lives with some necessary additions.

3/ The Army is Building- The castaways are finally creating a rift among the group. Smokie has managed to get both Claire and Sawyer on his side. After tonight's dramatic ending, he somehow convinced Sayid to join him and killed everyone who was not willing save a few important cast members. The episode ends with Kate looking on as the new group follows Smokie out and the audience left wondering if Kate is the newest addition to team Smokie.

4/ The Resistance?- Opposing the army of Smokie's we have Illana, Ben, Sun, and now Miles who luckily were saved by Illana's secret passage. Expect to see Richard join them soon and discover his connection to Illana (cause there has to be something important going on there). Jin might be part of team Smokie since he was last seen with Claire, which would certainly make is reconciliation with Sun entertaining and a bit awkward. Hurley and Jack have yet to jump on any one's camp, but Hurley will likely be sticking with ghost Jacob for a while. My bet is Jack is the last of the castaways to pick a side after Hurley is manipulated by Smokie (interestingly enough episode 11 is "Everybody Loves Hugo" and episode 12 is "The Last Recruit"...translation: 11 finds Hurley latching on to team Smokie and 12 finds Jack at the center as their last needed recruit).

5/The Infection- Every one's been waiting for the moment when Sayid's infection finally brings out the evil in him. In typical Lost fashion, it's hard to tell if the infection drove him to kill Dogen and Lennon or if it was Smokie's persuasion. Hopefully we'll find out. Either way I'm happy to see those two annoying additions bite the dust...can Illana be next please?

6/ Will Ben Die?- The trailer for next week teases that Ben will face his own demise. While this is clearly a ploy to make us watch, part of me truly believes it's Ben's time. This was a character who has been with us since season two and is clearly of some importance but has not played center stage in a while. When Illana and company jumped into their secret passage Ben was no where in sight. I predict a very lonely Ben fighting for his life next week....and losing it.