Monday, March 26, 2007

Babies on Television: The X-Chromosome Factor

"Fifteen years ago we took a trip to Egypt. All five of us. Saw the Pyramids and Luxor and then headed up into the Sinai. We had a guide, a Bedouin man, who called me 'Abu el Banat'. And whenever we'd meet another Bedouin, he'd introduce me as Abu el Banat. And the Bedouin would laugh and laugh and offer me a cup of tea. And I'd go to pay them for the tea and they wouldn't let me. 'Abu el Banat' means 'Father of daughters.' They thought the tea was the least they could do." – President Bartlet

Maybe it's just us, but when a character from one of our favorite shows is pregnant, we know what color onesies to buy them. In fact, we've pretty much gotten television baby sexes down to a science:

Girls are forever, boys just fill quotas.

Believe us, this isn't simply the mantra of two fangirls without boyfriends, who happened to grow up in the Ally McBeal era.

It's the truth.

When a favorite couple decides to procreate (or, as is so often the case, have drunken unprotected sex), they almost always have girls. When we don't care so much about the couple or the family, they almost always have boys.

We'll use the show we hate to love (the ex-beloved ER) as a starting example: the Y-chromosomes belong to Reese Benton, Cosmo Brown (son of Susan Lewis), Kerry Weaver's son Henry, Deb's biological child, and even the once-mentioned son of Dr. Dave Malucci. Though it's slightly non-PC, we'll also include the stillborn son of Carter and Kem.

You may follow these characters stories, but they aren't the driving force of the show. Much as we loved Susan during season nine, we were tuning in for Carter and Abby.

OTPs, meanwhile, have girls. Girls were born on ER to Mark and Elizabeth (Ella) and doubly to the show's ultimate OTP, Doug and Carol, in the form of twins Kate and Tess. The multitude of boy babies on ER compared with the dearth of daughters can be attributed pretty much to the show’s lack of follow-through when it comes to romantic storylines.

(Now is as good a time as any to say that we won't discuss Joe Kovac, because then we'd have to get into defining ER OTPs, and this is pretty much the reason why we don't even watch the show anymore.)

Moving away from ER, we give you the following contrasts:

Emma Geller (Ross and Rachel) and her brother, Ben Geller (Ross and Lesbian Ex-Wife Carol).

Isabelle Vaughn (Sydney and Vaughn) and future colleague Mitchell Flinkman (Marshall and Carrie). In the final episode's flash-forward, it is revealed that the Flinkmans have three more sons, and that Isabelle has a little brother, appropriately named Jack. Though they've told us about six children, the only one we were actually supposed to care about and love was Isabelle. Not that we might not have fallen in love with Baby Jack had we spent more than forty-five seconds with him, but all we know is...that his name is Jack. They spent more time in that little vignette telling us that Isabelle doesn't do her chores and can put together the Indicator puzzle.

Hopefully, with all of these examples so brilliantly pointed out to you in a way you had never considered before, you are asking the following question:

Why?

Caroline posed this same question to Mae last night: "But why do TPTB look at pregnant women and go 'girl.' I totally believe that they look at, say, Derek/Meredith and look around the room at each other and say.... 'It has to be a girl. it just has to.' But why? They're not saying 'because that's what history says we do,' it's because of something about the characters.....and what is that?"

For the next hour, we discussed. (Like we said, we're fangirls without boyfriends.) There are actually several reasons why we believe this phenomenon exists.

I: A High-Class Hostage: The Daddy/Daughter Relationship

"The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage. A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, 'Daddy, I need to ask you something,' he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan." - Garrison Keillor

We think the most important factor is the notion of a Daddy's Girl. We go for the romantic guys on TV: the Jack Shephards and Michael Vaughns and Derek Shepherds of the small screen. These guys need little girls with whom they can do adorable things. They're already pretty freakin' adorable, but you add a cute little girl and it's enough to send you into a diabetic coma.

Vaughn needed a daughter he could coo over and protect and eventually teach how to ice skate. (Okay, maybe not protect—he is Michael Vaughn, after all.) We have a deep love for the scene in "No Hard Feelings" where Vaughn, Sydney, and Isabelle share a quiet afternoon in bed. Vaughn holds Isabelle's precious little hands and audibly gasps at the sweetness that is his daughter's snore. It's so precious we could die. No, we didn't get to spend a lot of time with Vaughn and Isabelle, which makes the cuteness of Daddy-Daughter that much more important. The writers knew when Isabelle was born that the show was nearing its final weeks. Cute matters a lot more than content when you're dealing in episodes rather than seasons. (Which isn't to say that we didn't think Isabelle was a perfect fit content-wise, too. We did. And we'll discuss it later.)

Over at Lost, though Jack was surprisingly stoic after the birth of (Nephew!) Aaron, you know he'd just scoop little girl babies up in his arms and baby talk and sing to her. Because he's a Girl Daddy, a father of daughters.

I'm sorry, but I squee just thinking about Jack Shepard singing to his baby daughter. And it is JJ Abrams's personal responsibility to make me squee.

Mae: "Jack, Vaughn, McDreamy... guys who like to lean on things, shed some tears and believe in romance. Girl daddies."

We mean, who doesn't absolutely die of the cuteness that is Patrick Dempsey with his daughter, Talula? When Matthew Fox's wife Margherita has their baby this summer, they really effing better do a People spread with the fam. We would, um, what's the word, melt.

Being a father of daughters is also vengeance for womanizers. Remember, Doug Ross was one of those guys who slept with epileptics before he even knew their name. Kate and Tess will show him the error of his ways. (Mae: "I don't know how many parents I've heard say that when you have a boy you have to worry about one penis, but if you have a girl you have to worry about every single penis in the entire world.")

Even more poignant here would be God gracing Josh Lyman with a daughter. Foreshadowed by President Bartlet on more than one occasion ("Josh, I think if you ever have a daughter..."), Josh's narcissism and cockiness would crumble in the face of a feisty Donna-esque little girl.

Fathers of daughters have proven to be the same guys that know how to make a girl swoon. Fathers of sons are traditionally rougher around the edges and rarely ever romantic (Sawyer is a perfect example of your future "father of a son"). The romantic guys are the guys that get the girl – the guys that land themselves in an everlasting OTP. Caroline and Mae both have fathers of daughters, and Mae will readily attest to the fact that her father is openly emotional sometimes to the level of being a sissy. But if you look at the aforementioned "romantic guys," you will notice that a sissy is the perfect description for all of them, too.

And you know what? Sissies make fabulous fathers of daughters.

II: As Though Experiencing an Earthquake: Moms and Daughters

"Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future....as though experiencing an earthquake." - Elizabeth Debold

Having girls isn't just for daddies, though. Girl babies are often redemption for their mommies whose own mothers weren't so great. Take Sydney Bristow, for example. Not only is every single one of her family members a frickin' superspy, they're all totally messed up. Having a mom who abandoned you when you were a little kid to go betray your dad and your country to the KGB had to give Sydney some pretty serious mommy doubts (as much as she denied them to Irina as she pushed Isabelle into the world). And yet, we saw her as a loving, devoted mom who put her daughter before everything else, and truly saw her dangerous work as a means to an end—a safe world for Isabelle to live in.

So when we look at, say, Derek and Meredith, it's obvious to us that their eventual offspring will be female. Because Derek needs a daughter he can cuddle and love and sit on the porch swing and rock with, and Meredith needs a daughter with whom she can break the bad-Grey-mama-drama streak.

Ditto Jack and Kate. Kate’s own mother ratted her out to the police after Kate killed her stepfather-really-her-biological-father. Attempts to reconcile in Mom’s final days were thwarted by Mom shouting out for help when she realized she was alone with her murderous daughter, who really only blew up the house to protect Mom. Sigh.

And nobody—nobody—needs a daughter more than Abby Lockhart. We were heartbroken when Abby had a hysterectomy, not only because we'd never get the biological Carbita that Jack Orman basically promised us, but because she might never have a daughter. A sweet little girl who could take her first steps in the Carter manse while Mommy and Daddy look on in pride. Sigh. Yes, I suppose we should resign ourselves to the fact that we're not going to get that, but we're not quite ready yet.

III: The Cuteness Factor

“A toddling little girl is a center of common feeling which makes the most dissimilar people understand each other.” – George Eliot

There's also decidedly a cuteness factor. At the risk of making ourselves seem extremely sexist, girl babies are just cuter than boy babies. When the characters we love go home from work, we want to see them doing adorable things with their babies, and there's just more possibility for adorableness with baby girls.

An example that can be brought to light is that of Sophie Rose Cohen, daughter of Sandy and Kirsten on The O.C. As soon as we found out that Kirsten was pregnant, there was no question at all that she would be having a baby girl.

Sandy and Kirsten are an everlasting OTP. Sandy and Kirsten were the backbone of that show, and the one couple whose adorableness was never argued by any viewer at any time. There was never any question that they would be together forever. They are the type of couple that demands a baby daughter.

So the characters we follow home get girls. The characters who we know and love but don't see outside of the ensemble (Dr. Bailey is the perfect example) get boys. They can be cute moms and dads, but we don't often see them with baby in tow.

IV: Exceptional Children (And Not Just the Ones Who Can Move Stuff With Their Minds)

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” – Pablo Casals

Now, we probably know what you're going to say next. Basically the world's biggest OTP (and dare we say, the first) have—well, had, thanks to somebody's stupid choice—a son: Baby William, miracle child and defunct supersoldier.

Mulder and Scully didn't have these factors. Neither had nearly enough family drama with their parents, at least the ones who raised them. Scully didn't need a daughter to redeem her bad relationship with her mom, and any girl necessity you could argue was filled by her short-lived relationship with Emily in season five. And Mulder spent ninety seconds with his son in "Existence," making any push for that Daddy cuteness negated by David Duchovny's exodus.

You also don't want babies to be "replacements." If/when Carter and Abby have a baby, it would be a girl not only for these aforementioned factors, but also because it would be kind of mean to give Carter a second son as if the first one never happened. For Scully and Mulder, this means no girls who can be replacement Melissas or, most strikingly, replacement Samanthas.

On The O.C., Julie’s baby was meant to be a boy, because a little girl would have been a replacement Marissa, a move that would have seemed trite and slightly disturbing.

V: The Math and the Destiny: Where Babies Come From

"There are two kinds of fathers in traditional households: the fathers of sons and the fathers of daughters. These two kinds of fathers sometimes co-exist in one and the same man. For instance, Daughter's Father kisses his little girl goodnight, strokes her hair, hugs her warmly, then goes into the next room where he becomes Son's Father, who says in a hearty voice, perhaps with a light punch on the boy's shoulder: 'Goodnight, Son, see ya in the morning.'" - Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Not only does William still fit into the theory, he also paves the way for discussion on the idea of "The Exception To Every Rule." Everything outlined so far should (at least in our opinions) prove that baby genders have everlasting influence on the relationship of their parents. However, William's being a boy doesn't exactly mean that Mulder and Scully ran off into the sunset only to get into a huge argument a few months later and go their separate ways.

There are just some situations in which the gender rule must be broken in order to match the predestined needs of a certain OTP. William is the perfect (and surely the biggest) example of this type of situation.

See, most OTPs are girl-baby couples - pure and simple, no arguments about it. But every once in a great while you come across an OTP that is screaming for a son – screaming it so loudly, season after season, that if they actually did follow the gender rule of bring a baby girl into the world it would just feel, well, wrong. Mulder and Scully was a couple destined to have a son.

I mean, it was flat out predicted during "The Sixth Extinction" and "TSE: Amor Fati" when Mulder kept living in his hallucinations where he played on the beach building alien spaceship sand castles with a little boy that was clearly meant to be his future son. It was so obvious that the anvil falling from the sky was practically the size of a Mack truck. Mulder was destined to have a son. No tried and true baby gender rules could have even tried to change that fact. Premonitions of future children make all previous rules null and void.

But even if William hadn't been predicted seasons before his birth, Mulder and Scully would have still been due a son. They're completely different than any other OTP we've ever loved. Mulder and Scully weren't lovey-dovey or romantic on any levels whatsoever. They were rough and tough FBI ass kickers and (even though I can imagine them both being cute with a daughter) their personalities just fit better with the parents of a son.

Isabelle Vaughn was destined to be a girl not only because of pre-stated reasoning, but also because of the Derevko bloodline. Elena, Irina, Katya, Sydney, Nadia… no boys anywhere in this Spy Family bloodline, thus Sydney was destined to carry on the tradition and bring yet another super-smart, spy-riffic Derevko woman into the world.

VI: Sibling Rivalry: Why Already-Grown Children Don’t Matter

“Everybody assumes that the second child is a piece of cake. After all, you’ve done it before. Yet studies show that the second is often much more difficult and life changing than the first.” – Jennifer Bingham Hull

It's important to remember that every rule stated in this post only applies to children we travel through pregnancy and birth with, otherwise it doesn't matter what gender they are at all. If grown children actually affected the relationship status of a couple, Jack and Irina would never have split up. Irina and Sloane would have stayed together, too, for that
matter. Julie and Jimmy would be together twice as long as eternity with the two daughters they had together. You see where this is going? It doesn't count.

But new babies count like hell. And the fact that Sandy and Kirsten already had Seth and Ryan only doubled the rules in their favor of a girl. (We didn’t see her pregnant with Seth. We weren’t there for either of the boys’ births. They were just...there.) Previous children of one gender often justify and demand the birth of the opposite. Sometimes you get Ella Greene, so perhaps it's more accurate to say that OTPs with previous male children automatically justify the birth of the opposite. OTPs will pretty much always have girls, regardless of whether or not a pre-grown daughter already exists.

We can only imagine how many of you are too young to remember this, but travel back in time with us for a moment whilst we wax nostalgic about Growing Pains and how it helps to prove this point. Jason and Maggie Seaver came into our TV world with three pre-grown children: two boys (Mike and Ben) and a girl (Carol). When Maggie got pregnant on the show, it could have been potentially difficult to predict the sex of the baby considering they had pre-grown kids of both genders. Yet one fact remained: Jason and Maggie were an 80s OTP, so it was inevitable that little Chrissy Seaver would be the new addition.

Is this starting to make eye-opening sense to you now? Let's continue on to the next point...

There's a reason Julie Cooper didn't choose to marry either Bullit or Frank. Had we known of her pregnancy before the finale aired, it never would have been predicted that she would stay with either of them. Julie being pregnant meant that a baby boy was inarguably in her future; therefore long-lasting OTPish love was - well - not.

Plus, had Julie given birth to a girl it would have been nothing more than a new little Marissa replacement. She already had two daughters, one of whom was still alive and well, so there was no other option for her than to have a son.

In the grand scheme of things, Julie's relationships were never going to be anywhere near OTP status and so the gender of her baby wouldn't have mattered in any sense other than filling the baby boy quota. But her previous children (Marissa and Kaitlin) and the need to not bring a replacement daughter into the world after Marissa's death pretty much sealed the deal that Baby Cooper would be a boy.

---

We’re pretty sure that TPTB aren’t sitting around analyzing these six factors. In fact, we’re not entirely sure what makes them continue with this pattern. We’ve watched enough television throughout the years to be confident in our theory and to accurately predict baby sexes—and even baby names, on more than one frightening occasion. As pregnancies continue to occur on our favorite shows, keep checking Chaos in General for your very own virtual sonogram.

Until then, we’ll be out looking for Daughter Daddies of our very own. Preferably ones with green eyes. And dimples.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's Deep and It's Real: The Love-to-Hate Relationship

I now give you permission to hate anyone who threatens your OTP.

You’re allowed to hate Early Addison. You’re allowed to hate Juliet the Other. You’re allowed to hate em-effing Karen Fillipelli.

The problem is...besides being interested in/involved with half of your OTP, these three women haven’t really done anything wrong.

Addison might have been a bitch with her Manolo entrance, pointing fingers in Meredith Grey’s face, but I probably would have put on my best suit and my best red lipstick if I was going to meet my husband’s mistress.

Juliet hasn’t done anything at all. She brought Jack sandwiches. I want my lovey to be fed! I still hate her.

And Karen Fillipelli? All she’s done is capitalized on the most eligible man in Scranton.

It’s so much more fun to watch when the producers—not just me—allow us to hate that threatening bitch. When somebody’s getting in the way of your favorite couple, you don’t want that person to be sweet.

You want that person to be Lauren Reed. You want that person to be Diana Fowley.

These Bitches-With-a-Capital-C are my favorite characters to hate. They’re there not only to provide an obligatory OTP angst-fest, but also to ultimately further the storyline of the couple you love and care about.

Diana Fowley was never going to end up with Mulder. We just had to suffer through episodes like “The Sixth Extinction” because it provided the necessary contrast to Scully’s entrance into Mulder’s little hallucination. Diana left, but Scully—and the Cigarette Smoking Man—stayed the same. Without Diana, there would be no path to Mulder’s sweet speech to Scully: “You were my constant. My touchstone.”

In a more light-hearted way, she created tension between the agents when Gibson Praise intuited that Mulder was thinking about “one of the girls [he] brought.” Later, he tells Scully, “I know you’re wondering about that other girl. She’s wondering about you, too.” It was moments like that which created the MSR. Without those little scenes, there would have been no reason to hope for an eventual union between the two.

Those horrible scenes between Diana and Fox (including that piece-of-shit scene in “Biogenesis” where she says goodbye to whatever evil person she's telephoning and then disrobes) were important because we got to see—finally!—that Scully was jealous. In her mind, in whatever way, he belonged to her.

Plus, how freakin’ amazing is the reveal in “Two Fathers” that she works for the Cigarette Smoking Man? I remember sitting there hoping it would be her—I was twelve years old. That moment was like the official go-ahead to despise that traitorous whore. Yeah, maybe she saved Mulder from certain death, but who hasn’t?

I much prefer the reveal of the duplicity of Lauren Reed, who I believe, incidentally, is a direct descendant of Diana Fowley (but that’s a story for another blog). Sydney Bristow’s taking a patient to the emergency room when all of a sudden shots are fired and the patient—Adrian Lazarey, somebody who knows too much about Rambaldi for his own good—is murdered. The camera slowly pans to the roof, then to the gun, then to a very-eyelined Lauren making a victorious phone call.

In a subsequent episode, “Taken,” her evilness is revealed to Jack, who overhears Sark tell someone “Not if I see you first, love,” on the telephone, only to catch Lauren say it to Vaughn later in the episode.

I have never loathed someone as much as I loathe Lauren Reed.

Nope. I take that back. Billy Crudup. My high school journalism teacher. Luka.

Anyway, I loathe her a lot. (My sister does a hilarious Lauren Reed Face. It involves shoving grapes in her mouth.)

However, even though she stole a lot from Sydney and Vaughn—including an entire season of fluff possibilities—the angst she created was brilliant. Some of my all-time favorite Sydney/Vaughn moments come from Season Three.

There’s Vaughn’s little speech to her at the airport that, “I’m not going to lose you twice.”

There’s Sydney’s subconscious attempting to compensate for her loneliness by recreating the night of her Covenant abduction, turning it instead into a sweet moment for the couple in an ambulance.

And, of course, there’s "Crossings," where Sydney and Vaughn, fearing death, cling to each other and share a kiss and what they think will be their final words: “We’ll find each other. We always find each other.” Gets me every time.

The absolute angst of Season Three paved the way for Seasons Four and Five, which, in my opinion, were much more interesting for my Alias OTP than was Season Two. Season Two was pretty much smooth sailing once they finally hooked up. Even their first date gone majorly awry was pretty fluffy. Vaughn and Sydney’s do-over was so much more sweet and meaningful because of the time they spent apart.

What I’m saying is that I’d rather Karen Fillipelli turn out to be a mole for Staples than to continue to make no contribution to the story whatsoever. To be a proper obstacle, you need to either let me despise you or make me fall in love with you. So far, Addison’s the only one who’s ever led me toward the latter. The rest of you? I’m gonna despise you whether you’re one of Kim Jong-Il’s lackeys or just that mindless drone who sits next to Phyllis. At least give me a reason.

Monday, March 19, 2007

ABC Promo Department Goes from Hate to Jate

There’s a new Lost promo out for this Wednesday’s episode, and it’s a doozy.

Skaters beware, ‘cause it looks like “The Man From Tallahassee” is gonna be the Jate Fest we’ve been waiting for.

This promo, complete with a voiceover from someone I’ll lovingly call a non-monkey, is all about the Jack and Kate. In it, they recap previous Jate highlights—the net, the kiss, the glass hands—as well as give a sneak peek at this week’s episode, which gives us a tearful Kate (and of course a tearful Jack) meeting up in his little island house. He plays the piano (Gasp! The hot!) and tells her “I told you not to come back here for me, and I really wish that you hadn’t.” Then, in a move full of angst, sweetness, sorrow, sexiness, and another thirty emotions that mean Matthew Fox, Jack whispers raspily into Kate's ear: “I will come back here for you.”

It’s like they kicked me in the chest. Major sigh.

I gather, then, that Jack is getting ready to receive on the Others’s promise to him. It also looks like Jack IS just playing along with the Others in order to get the escape he’s been promised.

What I also gather is that Jack really thinks he can escape. Given what little we know about the island, it seems like it’s been pretty difficult to get out of what Desmond called this “bloody snowglobe.” Sure, maybe Michael and Walt did it, but I’d rather believe that those traitors died at sea. Also, it’s been revealed that the Others lost communication with the outside world via Patchy’s house, right? Unless the two are connected (say, they have communication with the outside world because they can’t otherwise leave), I don’t see how Jack’s actually going to get out.

Secondly, can we reflect for a moment on what a horrible leader Jack has proven to be?

I understand that you’d want to get off the island—especially if your one chance for island sex was spotted fornicating in a cage with somebody else—but does that justify unabashedly leaving behind the rest of the group? This goes against everything about the Jack we've known since he protected little Marc Silverman in a childhood flashback. He’s been the most necessary member of the group since he took control of the situation in the pilot! We’ve seen him treat patient after patient out of a deep feeling of responsibility toward his fellow castaways, and now he’s just going to leave them all behind?

I feel quite certain that Jack has something else in mind. That, as he hints at in this promo, he plans to make his escape and then return with a boat big enough to take all of the Losties back to civilization.

Fat chance. It’s taken Penny Widmore years to even maybe find an electromagnetic anomaly that could maybe lead to Desmond—maybe.

Perhaps Jack does make a connection to the outside world, then immediately turns back for Kate and—Oops!—gets stuck again.

All I know is that he’s not going to die. It seems pretty obvious at this point that they’re going to kill Charlie, and it would be downright cruel to kill two characters from the front of the Season One DVD box in the span of eight episodes. I would stop watching. I also know that people are getting tired of having his stories be separate from everyone else’s. It’s the same reason The Office has been so irritating this season—Jim spent half the season away from the group. Nobody wants that. There’s a reason you guys win awards as an ensemble.

I’d place money on Jack being back with the group by the season finale. (Which would mean that, yes, Foxy and the Losties wouldn’t have acted together in an entire calendar year. That is ridiculous.) And there better be a damn good reunion for Jack and Kate. There better be freakin’ fireworks, is all I’m saying.

Watch the promo, feel the love, repeat.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Night Lights: The Best Show You're Not Watching

Every year you'll find hundreds of articles from TV critics and bloggers alike spouting about what they believe is the most underrated show on the tube. Ususally they'll have differing opinions or be speaking out of loyalty because they've been watching it since the Pilot back in August or September - whatever the case may be.

This year, however, I've noticed a major change from the norm. This year everyone - every single article I Google with the search keywords "2007 best show you're not watching" - is rallying around one specific little primetime drama that could. That show is NBC's Friday Night Lights, and I can't remember the last time when I agreed with the critical acclaim of any show more.

The one thing I adore about all of this acclaim is that it's *not* coming from devoted fans who've been sticking by it from day one. Many of the blogs and articles I've read have been written by people who randomly tuned in mid-season because they had nothing better to do or had been saving it on the TiVo all year just in case they ever felt like giving it a shot. I love this fact about the FNL fans that openly sing its praises, because I am one and the same. I haven't been watching this show all season. I haven't even been watching this show for a month. I just started watching a couple of weeks ago, and I've yet to see a new episode "live" on NBC. My viewing habits of this show are currently restricted to the Season Pass that I purchased on iTunes and the weekend re-runs you can catch on Bravo.

Hearing such strong love and support for a show from people who have hardly had any time to genuinely know anything about it... well, to me that's really saying something. And I will tell you right now that if you're NOT watching this diamond in the rough, you're missing out and you're going to regret it. NBC is currently in talks about whether or not they're even going to renew the show for a 2nd season - the time to tune in and show your support is now. FNL can't afford to wait any longer for people to realize the brilliance of what it offers. And brilliance is exactly what this show brings week after week.

If you're not already watching this show, I can guess it's probably because you heard just enough about it to know that it's "a show about high school football." That fact may be true, but the show is so very much more. This is a show about relationships; about strength of heart and the power of simply making an effort. It's about learning as you go and realizing just how good it feels to pick yourself up once you've been beaten down.

Football is simply the backdrop of their weekly stories. The real heart of this show is the relationships that exist, the relationships that are being created anew, and the relationships that are falling apart before our eyes. The chemistry between Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton make them one of the most realistic couples (and by far the best parents!) that I have ever seen on the small screen. The relationship that their characters, Coach Taylor and "Mrs. Coach," have with their teenage daughter Julie is something to be admired and learned from. Even more, the way Coach Taylor interacts with the boys on his team is incredibly moving and realistic; if you ever played on a sports team for a coach worth looking up to, you can automatically connect with this coach and his team.

Two of the other dynamics worth paying attention to are the ones between Julie Taylor & newly appointed QB 1 Matt Saracen, and the slowly-but-surely changing relationship of Lyla Garrity & Jason Street. First of all, I'm not sure there is anyone more adorable in terms of personality than the constantly nervous and awkward Saracen. You gotta give the boy props, though, for actually having enough balls to start dating the daughter of the very same coach he's terrified of disappointing. His inability to form complete sentences around anyone other than best friend Landry is something that consistently makes me adore him more, and the cuteness between him and Julie is indescribable. As for Jason and Lyla, my main intrigue there lies in Jason's battle to find himself again now that he's been paralyzed. He's becoming a different person, and it's honestly a person that I truly like; but becoming that different person is making Lyla very frustrated, and therefore she's becoming very annoying to me. Nonetheless, the drama is real and I'm so grateful that it's believable on so many levels.

To jump away from the relationship dynamics for a moment, there is one thing about this show that makes my heart go pitter-patter even though I'm sure most viewers don't even realize the effect it's having on them during every episode: this show is filmed almost entirely with two or three steadycams. For those of you unfamiliar with the film industry speak, a steadycam is one that is not... well, it's not steady. The name of the camera is a bit misleading, but basically what it means is that the camera is being hand-held and it's the responsibility of the cameraman to keep the shot steady. Except that usually the whole point of using one is to get shots that, ya know, aren't steady at all. And pretty much everything outside of the game shots are done using this technique. The shot is always shaky and moving around. It gives every scene a very intimate and realistic feel, because if you were standing right there with them you would see it through your own eyes in very much the same way.

What's more, they never script any blocking and they hardly ever rehearse. The actors begin the scene and the steadycam operator *finds them* wherever they choose to be during that scene. A good deal of the conversations are semi-improvised as they talk with a basic scripted topic and make it sound much more in-the-moment and realistic through simply talking to one another. Just like the use of the steadycam itself, this technique of zero blocking and half-scripting works magnificent wonders on the realistic feel of the series. No matter how many times I watch an episode or how aware I am of these techniques being used, I still find myself drooling over how brilliant it is and how in love I am with it all.

So here's the deal - tune in on Wednesday nights and watch this show. I promise you (no, seriously.) that if you simply watch one episode, you will be unable to stop ever again. Kyle Chandler may be a bit bias (obviously.), but he made a very valid point when he said, "there are two types of people: those who have never seen the show, and those who are addicted to it." There is no inbetween, and once you give it a chance you will realize exactly what he means and how undeniably true that statement is.

Please, I beg of you, don't let this beautiful gem die out just because the stingy Peacock is too impatient to give it a fighting chance. Tune in, and then get everyone else you know to tune in. And DO NOT just set your TiVo to record it while you watch American Idol instead. You know why? Because TiVo recording ratings do absolutely nothing at all to help a show in the overall ratings battle, therefore will do nothing at all to help in the fight to save this show.

You love your American Idol and I suppose that I can respect that if I have to. But seriously? It's like the number one show on television. It will be just fine if you take your ratings away from it and give them to FNL instead. TiVo the Idol - it's better that way anyway; you can fast forward the commercials and speed through all the boring singers.

If you ever loved shows like Dawson's Creek, My So-Called Life, The O.C. or 90210, you owe it to yourself to tune in on Wednesdays and check out Friday Night Lights. And don't worry - this isn't just a repeat of all of those previous show concepts. There's a little bit of something special from each of those aforementioned shows, but FNL does it even better than they ever did. And it does it without all of the annoying, whiney melodrama that eventually had you rolling your eyes.

I am one of the pickiest people I have ever known when it comes to what I deem worthy enough to stream into my living room on a nightly basis. I can understand and appreciate the skepticism toward a show that you hardly ever hear anything about - especially if you actually hated all the shows I just semi-compared it to. But here's the thing: Friday Night Lights is unlike anything you've ever seen. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you would just give it one chance, you will not be disappointed.

The entire season so far is available for download on iTunes, and most of it can be seen over at NBC.com. The Bravo Network repeats an episode every Friday night at 7ET/6CT as well as having a marathon every Saturday afternoon at 2ET/1CT. You can also catch up with the recaps over at TWoP - I don't really care *how* you start to catch up with and get interested in this show. I only care that you do, in fact, do it.

If you don't believe me that it's as good as I say it is, you can Google "Friday Night Lights The Best Show You're Not Watching" for yourselves and read about it everywhere else.

We lost Freaks & Geeks and My So-Called Life simply because they were killed off before they were given a chance to prove their brilliance to the masses. And those are two shows I still mourn over to this very day.

Screw American Idol. Watch Friday Night Lights.

Or, if you'd prefer: Damn the man. Save the Empire!

THE O.C.: Welcome to Syndication, Bitch

I saw an ad on SoapNet last night that One Tree Hill and The O.C. are about to join the lineup of syndicated soaps, both daytime and primetime, that air on that network. I could sit here and deny watching SoapNet out of my own free will, but who am I kidding? They were showing re-runs of 90210 when it was still in the glory days of the David/Valerie relationship - I couldn't have resisted no matter how hard I tried.

Anyway, it made me laugh because these two new shows being added to the network still seem too... new. Seems odd to me that they would be on there. When I think of the primetime soaps that get picked up by SoapNet, I imagine the aforementioned 90210 or Melrose Place or even the classically old Dynasty and Dallas. But hell, I'm not going to complain. I may already own every episode of The O.C. on DVD so far, but there's something inescapable about the chance to watch it again on television. I don't know why it is, but I always feel this pull to sit and watch if my favorite show is re-running somewhere on TV even if I do have every episode at my fingertips on the other side of my bedroom in their box sets.

So I find it very exciting that I can re-watch Seth and Summer fall in love from the very beginning. I can sit and enjoy the early days before Marissa ever truly, utterly got on my last ever loving nerve. Season One is something to be treasured, and I'm all about the happy dance now that I know I can catch it randomly on SoapNet from now on. I may have just watched several episodes on DVD last night, but that's kind of beside the point.

Oh and I also have to say, regarding the series finale, that sometimes I scare myself. I never mean to gloat and it's not like I flat out expect my "predictions" to be correct on a regular basis, but there are times when I'm simply frightened of my own brain. I took a shot at naming Baby Girl Cohen ahead of time (mainly because I had scared myself in the past by freakishly guessing correctly the name of Baby Girl Vaughn before we ever even knew Syd was pregnant.), but I still choked on my martini when Sandy and Kirsten actually did name her Sophie. Seriously, sometimes I really scare myself shitless.

One of my friends was bitching all throughout the finale about how it seemed really rushed. She felt like we were being ripped off not seeing the actual birth of Sophie and how many other moments seemed to get passed over rather quickly. However, when we reached the end of the episode and that final montage she came to realize that it was worth having everything else get time crunched earlier on in the show. I mean really, when you think about what Josh managed to pull off in a one-hour episode, it's really a beautiful thing. I had been worried and a bit skeptical about whether or not the "rules of a series finale" would be followed - there just didn't seem like there was nearly enough time to wrap things up properly - but in saving time here and there (like in brushing past Sophie's actual birth), he managed to save up a few extra minutes to show us the future of our beloved Newport friends.

Sure, the episode felt rushed at times. But I wouldn't trade seeing three seconds of Seth & Summer's wedding for anything else in the world. It was more than worth it. And everything that happened with Julie was such a pleasant surprise - I was so off base and wrong about what would happen with her character, but once it happened and I sat back to analyze it all... well, then it all made perfect sense and was the perfect ending for her and her family. As for Ryan and Taylor, their ending was very vague to me and I still can't figure out what that look at the wedding was all about. Are they together? Are they apart? Are they apart but still in love? No idea. It's up to our own imaginations, I suppose. Although I'm believing in the "apart but still in love" choice, because that's what it felt like to me. It seemed right for Ryan, to move on with his own life and build a world for himself that didn't involve a woman or drama.

The beauty of that final moment was so fabulous, too; to come full circle like that with Ryan deciding to take in a kid and help him in the same way that he himself was rescued. The show may have waxed and waned from brilliant to cheesy over the years - and it may be classified as a "soap opera" that most people roll their eyes at - but in the end it was beautifully put together and perfectly executed.

I can't wait to experience it again even more than usual when it finds it's place between the kids of Beverly and the jocks of Tree Hill. DVD owner or not, syndication is a beautiful thing!

HOUSE: I Think We Should Have Sex

What is the big fascination with the House/Cameron 'ship?

Seriously, I do not understand it. I've tried, I really have, but I don't see it and I definitely don't feel it. I had thought that perhaps we were getting past that phase or at least the strong effort to shove that phase down our throats, but it appears that I was wrong. When Cameron stood in front of him with that worried face of hers because she was convinced he had cancer, I saw the kiss coming from a mile away. I also could tell that it was all a trick to distract him so that she could give him the injection, but nevertheless it was obvious that a kiss was coming.

And even after it became clear that she had only done it to distract him, we still had to put up with the whole "You kissed me/you kissed me back" banter, which I just found annoying because - well, because I don't see any chemistry there and it just annoys the hell out of me that they won't let it go. The writers, I mean, not Cameron and House. They *can't* let it go, they don't even actually exist. Whatever.

The one bright spot for me in the past two episodes was when Cameron and Chase were walking out of the hospital and she suggested they become "no strings attached" sex buddies. You can now all imagine me doing the happy dance, because this is so much more interesting to me than trying to help Cameron figure out why House is so closed-off and skeered of teh love. Honestly, I miss Sela Ward but that's another argument altogether.

As far as Cameron/Chase is concerned, this is a potential 'ship that makes me excited. You just know that the "no strings attached" deal isn't going to work out. Situations like these always go one of two ways: either they call it off altogether and never hook up again, or one (if not both) of the individuals involved will end up falling hard and fast in love with the other. Thus this whole "no strings attached" deal just opens the door nice and wide for some angst and good times as they try to fight their true feelings and pretend like the "falling hard and fast" part is absolutely not happening.

Sounds like an incredible amount of 'shipper fun, if you ask me. That's the kind of shit I thrive on. That's the kind of stuff that makes me fall for a 'ship. It's that "we really want to but we really shouldn't" aspect of it all, or the whole realization that you got into this situation because it was supposed to be safe and simple... yet it's only made things more complicated because now you actually feel things for your sex slave. Damn those feelings.

I love it! And I will be incredibly happy if the writers can actually pull this off, because I've been having a serious problem with my inability to 'ship anyone on this show. If I can finally have one to hold on to that makes my heart go all aflutter from week to week, perhaps my interest in it and my ability to find my muse about it won't go through such an ebb and flow all of the time.

That would be nice, don't you think? I officially pick up my "Cameron/Chase" banner and wave it around like a crazy person in desperate need of a couple to love. Join me, won't you?

Friday Night Lights: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can't Lose

I've been debating whether or not I was going to put this unbelievably wonderful show into my lineup of blog topics. The debate sprang not from my lack of weekly interest or ideas for discussion (because, truly, I think I could talk about this TV gem forever), but more out of my insecurity about whether or not I'll even be given a second season to blog about at all.

Call it a new wave of positive thinking (perhaps because of how much The Secret has been shoved down my throat lately), call it whatever you want - all that matters is that I've decided to stop worrying and waiting, and instead simply believe it will all go right for next season. So here we are, and we can all cross our fingers together.

First and foremost, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I can make magical predictions about this show. I'm sure that I could, but I have an on-set source and therefore I don't need to guess about anything. Still, I'm not going to spit out major spoilers every time I talk about this show (well, at least not without a warning), so don't run scared that I'm going to ruin your hopes of being in the dark for the next four episodes. I gotta say though, if you haven't already pieced it together yet... I don't really know what to tell you. It's a fabulous, riveting, brilliant show about the dynamics of all types of relationships - but the football aspect of it is relatively predictable.

There's an ongoing theme on the Panthers' football field of Dillon tailing behind with only minutes left in the game as we all watch their desperate fight to bring home the W. If it's not that scenario, then it's a case of the Dillon Panthers barely holding down a very slim lead over the opponent as we all sit and watch their desperate fight to hold onto the lead and bring home the W. So, honestly, are you really expecting the next couple of games to differentiate from the norm?

And do you actually believe that the Dillon Panthers *won't* make it to the State Championship? Of course they will.

I probably should have warned everyone, since that was a spoiler. But I'd honestly be amazed if that hadn't leaked out already, considering how blatantly it was plastered around Texas before and during the filming of the season finale. As I sit here in the rain/sleet/snow of this east coast winter storm, I can't help but wish I lived in Texas, too. Must be nice and warm. And also full of all those FNL cuties. Yum.

But anyway, back to the info from my source: We definitely haven't seen the last of Voodoo - he'll be turning up again for some very important moments/games. Dillon High School will have to be evacuated. One of the Panthers (of whom I'm not naming names) will find himself injured after making a beautiful and all-important play on the field. And the outcome of the State Championship game will come down to the final 6 seconds of play time and a 1-point-difference in the final score. Whether or not that one point will be reason to celebrate or reason to drop your heads in shame, I'm not telling. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Which is actually the same mantra I'm taking toward this waiting game of next year's season. Personally, I'm not concerned about Coach Taylor and the offer from TMU - if the show does get it's well-deserved second season, then clearly he's not taking the job and going anywhere. I love everyone in the cast, but the dynamic of the show - in my opinion - is nothing without Kyle Chandler. And if the Peacock doesn't save this show, it will be the biggest mistake in cancellation since Freaks & Geeks.

No matter what happens, it's been a joy to watch and such a refresher from the same-old-same-old scripted TV with which we've become so comfortable. Don't give up on it, and don't stop tuning in. American Idol will do just fine without your help in the ratings - tune in where it counts and where it's worth your time.

There's a handful of episodes before this season ends and we wait to see if another will ever begin. It's going to be a hell of a ride and I promise that it won't disappoint. Do your part and keep believing in Season Two - remember: CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS... what?

... I can't hear you...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

October Road: Monkey Redemption

Two years ago, I was anxiously anticipating the end of high school and the end of the TV season. West Wing was nominating a new Democratic Presidential candidate, Alias was gearing up for some serious prophecy-fulfilling (and the return of Lena Olin!), and Gilmore Girls was promising proposals. Along with everyone else in the country, I was also watching Desperate Housewives. The first season of Desperate Housewives, you might remember, was a force to be reckoned with, as it consistently brought entertainment shock-and-awe to the small screen. It marked the glorious return of Teri Hatcher and ABC. So when March rolled around, ABC experimented with the post-DH slot, and introduced a promising new medical drama to the lineup.

This was, of course, Grey’s Anatomy.

Obviously, Grey’s has become my favorite television drama, but the promos for the premiere made it seem like it was the second coming. They were brilliant. I often complain that most networks promo departments (particularly that of the Peacock) are run by monkeys. (By the way, if anyone can tell me where this “run by monkeys” bit began, please contact me.) But those commercials for the Grey’s premiere were so well-done and so indicative of the show itself that I—and, apparently, most of America—was convinced to tune in.

I was not disappointed. Even now, when I see those promos for Grey’s in syndication on Lifetime (the ones to the tune of “The First Cut Is the Deepest”), I seriously consider tuning in, even though I have the DVDs and I don’t need to “remember the first time they saved a life” because it was only two years ago.

I put the same faith in the promos for tonight’s premiere of October Road, which brings the Alphabet Network full-circle as it premieres this show after, what else, Grey’s Anatomy.

I have not seen anything about this show other than the ABC promos. I haven’t read articles, haven’t heard any chatter about it, haven’t even seen the cast members on Regis and Kelly. All I’ve seen are the commercials with the ever-adorable Laura Prepon saying, “The whole time I was yelling at him, all I wanted to do was just...kiss him!” And I just melt. Because who hasn’t been there, right?

I love this commercial. I’ve seen it from my living room couch in Washington, in Times Square in New York, and in the nail salon here in Atlanta, and every time, I’ve stopped, watched, and made a comment to a person near me (my roommate, my friend Clarissa, the woman who did my manicure) that October Road is going to be the next Grey’s Anatomy.

It looks charming, sweet, funny, and about fifteen other adjectives that mean must-see.

And if it doesn’t live up to my expectations, we’ll just blame it on the monkeys.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Girl Power on the Decline--What Would the Spice Girls Do?

My mother hates Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, really really hates it.

She hates it mostly because she thinks that Meredith Grey is the worst character in the history of television. She thinks Meredith is a horrible role model for the teenagers who watch the show and that the rest of the female characters are just as push-overy. (You can imagine how pleased she is that I want to name her first grandchild Meredith Grey Carter-Whatever. I just really like the name, okay?)

I am a women’s studies major, and I have big plans of becoming a high-powered lobbyist for family issues in Washington. I am really good at manipulating people.

Anyway, if anyone should be lamenting the lack of female role models in primetime, it’s me. And I’ll say this right now—I love Grey’s, but I’m kind of with my mom on this one.

Meredith is kind of pathetic. Aside from being a shitty swimmer, she has serious commitment issues (when she’s not begging a guy to love her). She’s a bad pet owner, makes poor sexual choices, and she likes the tequila a little too much.

Though she may be a realistic representation of the average single twentysomething (perhaps minus the suicide), she’s nobody we should look at and say, “Damn, I wish I were Meredith Grey.”

Except during any scene in which Patrick Dempsey appears shirtless.

Across the airwaves, we find poor examples. I have a t-shirt that says “I Wish Aaron Wrote All the Shows on Television,” but I often find Sorkin to be misogynistic and gender-biased. Donna Moss, a character I followed for seven years on The West Wing, was sort of doomed to be Josh’s Girl Friday for all of her time in the Sorkin-era White House. Even Sports Night’s Dana Whitaker was too flighty for her own good at times, and often seemed to fill the girl quota. And seriously don’t get me started on Studio 60’s Jordan McDeere.

For better examples of feminine role models, we should turn to love-of-my-life JJ Abrams.

His work includes several examples of quality women, especially the epitome of kick-ass: Sydney Anne Bristow.

Sydney Bristow is, well, amazing. The very fact that she survived five seasons of spytastic drama is a testament to her amazingness. She took down The Alliance, the Covenant, Prophet Five, and all three Derevko sisters. I’ll fight you if you say Jack Bauer could beat her. He totally couldn’t. (She totally would have taken down The Syndicate, too, if that mission had been tasked to APO.)

Her superiority to everyone was intensified by the fact that she chose as a partner the most tactically useless man in the history of the CIA. Time after time, it was Sydney who saved Vaughn from certain death.

After her just-handler couldn’t figure out that he should run away from a wall of water, even when Sydney was pointing toward the door and mouthing the word go, it was Sydney who found him in the basement of a Paris nightclub, shot him up with adrenaline, and helped him escape from Khasinau’s lab.

Hell, she stabbed Vaughn ‘cause she knew he’d be better off if she just gave him a little love scrape than if she left him to be tortured by the baddies she was undercover with.

Also, does KESTIMETRUTHTA look like an encoded message to you, or can you plainly see the two words right there in the middle?

What was particularly badass was how Sydney’s pregnancy and motherhood was portrayed. Though I often griped at the fact that Agent Bristow seemed to place her psychotic need to bring down Sloane ahead of her unborn child’s welfare (hello, getting yourself trapped in a car that’s hanging hundreds of feet in the air?), she really did show—even if it was in a caricatured way—that being a mom doesn’t have to be the end of a career. Her pregnancy was peppered with tongue-in-cheek remarks like “I’m not like other moms” and “My job still keeps me pretty active.” Once Isabelle was born, she had to sweetly tell her infant that “Mama’s gotta go to work.”

Anyway, the whole point of this is to say that Sydney Bristow faced a lot of shit in her years as a spy, but she carried it off with the perfect combination of feminine poise and downright ass-kicking, usually without the use of firearms.

Over at Lost, you’ve got Kate, who’s got her issues, to be sure. I’m not insinuating that little girls should be saying “I wanna be a fugitive when I grow up!”

All I’m saying is that people on the lam can be good people, too. I mean, Scully and Mulder are on the run as we speak and nobody’s saying they made bad decisions. (Except for the part about giving up William.)

Kate is probably the character who’s made the most progress since the show started. She’s gone from a fugitive to someone who has genuinely adopted Jack’s “Live Together, Die Alone” theory. Unlike some people, she actually contributes to the welfare of the group. Sure, sometimes it’s making out with creeps in order to get asthma medicine, but sometimes it’s working with Sun in the garden, while other times it’s trekking out into the jungle to search for the doctor. You never know with Kate.

Again, she’s often paired with Jack, who’s...what’s the word...”sensitive.” Jack Shepard cries more than the baby I sat next to on a flight from Newark to Atlanta yesterday afternoon. Kate is an unconventional hero, while Jack is the, well, conventional. There is a truly remarkable courage about her, manifested not only by her crusades into the jungle, but also by the fact that she does stuff like deliver Claire’s baby (her future baby nephew, Aaron) by herself.

There are positive female role models to be found on television, and, no, Meredith Grey is not one of them. (That’s not to say it’s not okay to identify with her “scary and damaged” moments sometimes.) Let’s just make little girls watch Alias and Lost. Not only will they learn an important lesson in girl power, we’ll also scare the crap out of them.

That’s okay, they can watch Felicity afterward.

The Office: Last Dunder-Mifflinite Standing?

In happier news, I love Jim Halpert.

Seriously, though, girls, is Jim not the perfect guy? He’s funny, he has a pretty smile, hair that’s not too long but still oh-so-touchable... He’s sweet and romantic and cries only when emotion is called for... Jack Shepard, I’m looking at you right now... Jim is also just generally a good guy.

Jim, though, has one fatal flaw: he is a man. And, therefore, an idiot.

It’s no surprise he’s gotten himself into a little pickle. The Pam-or-Karen pickle. The only reason Rashida Jones’s kinda-blah character was introduced was so that Jim could find himself in the Pam-or-Karen pickle.

And now, he’s gone and pissed off Roy, the only character on this show who I think could actually do some physical damage. Well, him and Dwight. But only if Dwight brought his spud gun and his cousin Mose.

The Office went on Spring Hiatus as of the last episode, leaving the airwaves for several weeks while cast members are off shooting movies with George Clooney and John C. Reilly and The Rock. I will miss it terribly, of course, not only because I need my weekly John Krasinski fix, but also because it went out with a bang.

Or the threat of a bang, if you will.

Usually, The Office’s last scene, shoved between commercials and credits, is a funny one-off that means very little to the plot. In the last episode, titled “Cocktails” (and directed by my Hunny Bunny Jeffrey Jacob Abrams), the last moment (a “stinger”) was far from meaningless. In it, a disgruntled Roy and his brother lamented the loss of their beloved jet ski money, spent in order to pay for the damage caused by their little rampage. Said rampage came when Pam admitted to Roy that she had kissed Jim at Casino Night.

In this “stinger,” Roy mumbled to his brother that, “I’m gonna kill Jim Halpert.”

It. Was. Shocking.

My desperate desire to make predictions falters in the face of such surprise. The part of me that wants to be Sydney Bristow is just itching for a Jim-Roy fight. A poster at Television Without Pity has an excellent theory that Roy would start a fight, and that Jim would be overwhelmed by Roy’s obvious physical advantage. Jim also, I think, feels bad and a little guilty about the fact that he kissed a very-taken girl. He’ll take the beating until Roy says something insulting about Pam. We all know Jim would defend Pam’s honor in such a situation, and so he’d just start wailing on Roy, overcoming his shortcomings with his deep and abiding love for Pam.

Pam breaks up the fight and pushes Roy aside to lovingly apply a Band-Aid to Jim’s forehead.

Karen realizes she will never measure up, Pam sees Jim as the Knight in Shining Armor that he is, and Roy is arrested for assault and battery and carted off to jail.

This prediction—and my longing to see it come to fruition—is probably the product of a fangirl who wants nothing more than for Pam and Jim to live happily ever after in a Roy-and-Karen-free world.

It’s not a likely outcome. This is The Office, after all, not Desperate Housewives. Roy’s not going to, like, run Jim down with his car and then bury him in the woods.

That said, I think there will be a confrontation. Perhaps in the parking lot after work, perhaps in the office while one of Michael’s morale-boosting events goes on in the background. I think Jim will say something to Roy in his defense that will make it obvious that Jam lives on. Whether this is a comment to defend Pam’s honor or an accusation of Roy’s neglect and disregard for Pam’s artistic ability remains to be seen. I would really like to see Jim stick up for Pam, even if this doesn’t mean bitch-slapping Roy.

(I am on a plane with my iPod on shuffle and, I kid you not, “You Were Meant For Me” just came on. I hate Ram.)

First, it would royally piss off Karen. I think we’re about to see Karen take a turn for the bitchy, a move that has been foreshadowed by a deleted scene that showed her contemplating ripping down flyers for Pam’s art show. It was about this time in Alias’s third season when it was revealed that Lauren was actually Covenant. (Rashida Jones’s mom, Peggy Lipton, ironically played Lauren Reed’s mom Olivia—also Covenant. You know how I feel about Alias connections. Thank you, Jabrams, for ruining me as a TV watcher.)

A Jim-being-noble moment could also give rise to the strange Talking Head that’s being chatted up around Television Without Pity, in which Pam says: "I wish someone had flashed me while I was with Roy. That would have been the ass-kicking of the year. Especially if it had been Jim. He sure wouldn't have wanted me to see Jim's... Whew, I'm saying a lot of things."

It’s also a nice way to get Roy out of the way. There’s really no point for him to stick around, except for awkward moments in the future. I’d like to see him run into a pregnant Pam Halpert in, like, season five. (Remember what I said about delusional fangirls? Yeah, I’m definitely one of them.)

Yeah, I’m pretty much coming up empty-handed when it comes to predictions for the rest of the Office season. I can’t wait to see how the whole thing plays out, and while the crazy person in me hopes that it is revealed that Pam and Jim are actually Sydney and Vaughn in deep cover, blowing Karen’s secret alias as a Covenant operative along with Sloane and Quentin Tarantino, I know that’s unrealistic.

Although it would be worth it for the look on Dwight’s face.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Lost: All I Want For You Is Christmas

Few things are as important to my family as Christmas. When I go home for Thanksgiving, my mother and I decorate our house to the hilt with Christmas regalia. We have something like eight trees, each with its own theme. When my parents remodeled our kitchen five years ago, my mom had the tops of the cabinet specially wired for her ceramic Christmas village. We’re that intense.

I’m absolutely giddy, then, at the prospect of Christmas on Lost.
Lostpedia
keeps a detailed timeline of island events, and it’s currently December 10, which should put a Christmas celebration right around November sweeps of next season. Perfect!

I desperately want to see the Losties make do with what they have to make a really sweet holiday celebration.

I imagine that a group of the castaways, perhaps led by Hurley, will attempt to gather decorations, food, and, yes, presents, in an attempt to create a few rare days of happiness. Of course, Jack’s safe return will coincide with the holiday. Finally the gang will all be together again, and I will squee like a little girl through the entire episode.

I want to see them trek through the jungle to get stuff to make ornaments and tinsel out of, and then see them create a veritable Winter Wonderland in the tropics. Sayid, who we learned last night is a chef, can cook up a big boar, and Rose can ration out Dharma supplies for a few weeks so there’ll be more for Christmas dinner. It’ll be great!

As for presents, I hope Jack and Kate will swap meaningful little somethings. Guava seeds, perhaps? Rousseau’s famous net? An engagement ring fashioned out of twigs? Damon is better at that stuff than me.

Anyway, at this point it’s just a secret little fantasy that I wanted to put to paper.

Feliz Navidad, Losties.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and Potatoes: Why I Despise Kristin Veitch

There are few statements that apply to all fandoms. The Grey’s Anatomy fandom, which seems to be a bunch of oversexed college students (who else could come up with “Addisex”?), is quite different from, say, the Office fandom, whose members seem to be fellow cubicle-dwellers who have a lot of free time at work. (I shouldn’t generalize, as I am a proud member of both fandoms, though I don’t profess to working in a cubicle or being oversexed.) There is, I believe, but one universal truth.

Kristin Veitch sucks ass.

The biggest gripe people generally have with E! Online's TV gossip columnist is that, though she considers herself a “spoiler source,” it’s actually quite rare that she comes up with some original new dish. For the most part, it’s obvious that Kristin spends her workday scouring internet message boards and fan communities for info. After she lifts said info off, say, Television Without Pity, she then shrouds this information in self-importance and faux-authority. Take last week’s spoiler Q-and-A session, in which Sara in Columbia, Missouri, asked: “Do you have any Lost scoop? I loved the Desmond episode and can’t wait for more. Do you have anything to hold us over?” Her reply: “I can tell you that Desmond’s beloved Penny makes another appearance in his next flashback. Yippee! Am I the only one who loves the Pessy action?”

First of all, those shippers prefer “Despenny,” I am told.

More importantly, however, we knew this already. Carlton Cuse told Michael Ausiello in mid-January that Penny would be back. Yet Kristin repeated it in her column as though she had to sleep with Carlton’s assistant to get that scoop for her adoring fans, who rely on her for their fix.

If you are one of these adoring fans, I can point you in the direction of several much better, more reliable, less pretentious sites:

SpoilerFix.com is a one-stop source for daily spoiler updates. SF.com’s Izzie compiles spoilers from across the web into neat pages organized by episode.

She sometimes misses things (and she doesn’t cover my favorite show, The Office), so I find that the most comprehensive source is usually the message boards over at TWOP. Yes, for most shows, you’ll have to sift through pages of commentary to find the spoiler posts interspersed, but it’s usually worth it if you want the good scoop. Some boards have Spoilers Only posts, which sounds like a great idea in theory but which usually results in a lot of what Josh Lyman calls font-policing.

NowCasting.com sometimes has casting sides available for download, which means you get to see script pages weeks before the episode airs. Sometimes helpful, sometimes not. For Grey’s Anatomy, they change the names of the doctors, so it’s quite difficult to tell who’s who. Also, it’s only script pages that include guest stars, so you can pretty much rule out ever reading, say, a Derek/Meredith only scene.

And, of course, there’s Kristin’s sworn “frienemy” (Oh, haha, Kristin, you are SO funny! Seriously, somebody should give you your own Tater Top Award for being the Wittiest Online Commentator in the History of Online Commentary) Michael Ausiello. This guy knows what he’s doing. He often gets exclusives with the Lost EPs, and he cornered the Amy Sherman-Palladino leaving Gilmore Girls story when he announced her departure and then had a lengthy interview with her in the days following her decision.

I have also feel personally slighted by Kristin, due to an incident that occurred last summer. My friend Deborah is an avid poster on the LiveJournal community theoffice_us. I told her that I had seen the casting sides for this episode, which were for several roles in the Stamford office of Dunder-Mifflin. Anyone should have thus deduced that Jim, who had been offered a job in Stamford, indeed transferred. I shared the info with Deborah, who repeated it to her LJ community. And about 100 people replied to the post; it was big news. And in her very next column, Kristin discussed Jim’s departure. She probably read the same casting sides as I did, but it was difficult to think that she hadn’t flat-out stolen my scoop.

She sucks.

One thing that I’m sure is difficult about being a television columnist—or any kind of columnist, for that matter—is that you can’t always write what you want to write. However, Kristin claims to be OBSESSED with just about everything. Which means that one day, she’s lamenting the loss of “beloved fan favorite” Studio 60, and the next she’s heralding in The Black Donnellys, which has taken Studio 60’s place. Then after that, she’s joyfully reporting that Studio 60 is still in production, and The Black Donnellys hasn’t rated as high as NBC would have preferred. Basically, Kristin is full of shit.

Her ignorance was perhaps most obvious, at least to me, when she announced the 2006 nominations for her oh-so-classy Tater Top Awards. (For those of you unfamiliar with these awards, which are basically as coveted as the Emmy, fans vote for their favorite in categories ranging from “Best Drama” to “Moment That Made You Want to Throw Out Your TV.”) For “Best Chemistry,” Kristin included two Lost pairings: Skate and...Kack?

Who the hell is Kack?

Anyone who’s stepped foot into the Lost fandom should know that Jack/Kate is Jate. The Jaters are perhaps the most intense shippers I’ve ever encountered. “Jate is Fate, Jate is sooo Jexxxxy, I want Jate to have Jabies.” (Yes, they really say Jabies, and I fully support that.)

The next week, Crystal made the following point: “I was filling out the Tater Top ballet. The ship name for Jack and Kate from Lost is usually Jate, not Kack!”

Kristin’s reply: “I know. I just think Kack is funnier! Forgive me. Jate just bores me. The name and (just a smidge) the couple. Yes, I'm siding more on the Skate side. (Maybe because I want Jack for myself.)”

No. There is no such thing as Kack.

The next week, Kristin says: "I think you Jate fans will be very pleased by this: After hearing what Evangeline had to say about the Jate-Skate love triangle, I truly believe I have seen the light! Jack and Kate would be pretty fantastic together."

Yes, not only does she correctly use Jate, she PROFESSES TO APPRECIATING JACK/KATE!

See, that’s the thing. I don’t understand Skate. I don’t know why any self-respecting woman would want to get with a guy who has had STDs, beats up people for no reason, is a racist, doesn’t share, and is just generally an asshole. I didn’t go into Baby Gap yesterday because they had a display that said SKATE on it. That’s how much I don’t like those two together. But I hope that any Skater I would come in contact with would have the decency to actually stand up for their opinions. My roommate Melissa and I have had detailed discussions about Jate vs. Skate, and she never backs down. It only took one week for Kristin to swap sides! Pathetic!

While we’re on the subject of that Skate/Jate turnaround, in the same column where she discusses her love of Skate, she also says: “Jorge [Garcia] specifically asked about that Chemistry category of Tater Tops, and who was winning (seems the cast is interested to see whom everyone thinks Kate has better chemistry with).”

I’m sorry, but I really hope that the cast and crew of Lost have better things to do than to worry about the mother-effing Tater Tops. I totally believe that Damon and Carlton hang out around The Fuselage and read what people have to say, but I highly doubt they sit around waiting for results of fake potato awards. Can’t you just picture it, though? There’s Josh Holloway, sitting up late at night hitting refresh so he can keep voting for Skate. No. That didn’t happen.

For a true measure of Kristin’s narcissism, we need only look at last week’s spoiler chat:

Lourdes in Miami: Are they still going to reveal that a character is bisexual on Grey's? It's been forever now since you told us that!

Kristin: I know, and apparently, I really should have kept my big yapper shut, because much like the what-the-dog-saw-in-the-cargo-hold reveal from the first-season finale of Lost, it seems that my reporting (among other factors, I'm sure—I hope!) of this storyline caused it to be changed.

Did she seriously say that? Kristin brazenly suggested that Shonda Rhimes and the Lost showrunners are persuaded by what she writes in her column. I seriously doubt that anyone in Hollywood gives weight to anything this self-obsessed psychopath has to say. Believe me when I say that I think Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, and Shonda Rhimes are masters of their craft. They’ve all told fans that they have ultimate goals and plans for their respective series, and I give not an ounce of credit to this ridiculous person for claiming that she influenced something as major as the Lost season finale.

Claiming that your in-depth reporting (including all those discussions with your top-secret sources, right?) led to a storyline change on a Top-Ten show is so much more vain than just saying, as is almost positively the case, I was wrong.

And, finally, I direct you to her oh-so-embarrassing run-in with Michael Vartan, where she presented him with the Tater Top Award for “Future Husband Kristin Should Just Go Ahead and Marry.”

Kristin: Another category that you won that I was embarrassed to tell you, but I’m going to come out and tell you. One of the categories was ‘Future Husband That Kristin Should Just Go Ahead And Marry’ --That’s me, Kristin-- And you won that, so whenever you want to seal the deal…

Michael: OK, well, I’m single and you’ll have to get past my four-legged girlfriend, but I’m sure something can be worked out. 

Kristin: So in the meantime, while you’re pondering buying the ring, you will have the potato. 

Michael: I don’t know how I feel about that, but it’s alright.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the video clip (please tell me if you can!), which shows just how awkward Michael Vartan felt during this little interview. When Alias fans discussed future Tater Top results, they were pleased when Vartan lost the category to John Stamos.

“Congratulations to Michael Vartan for escaping Future Husband Kristin Should Just Go Ahead and Marry,” reads a post from AllAlias.com.

“Dodged a bullet there,” reads an announcement from VartanHo.com.

Yes, she may be E! Online’s resident “TV Diva,” but she is no source of mine. I would be more inclined to believe TV gossip I hear from the creepy guy who serves me Starbucks with a side of sexual innuendo than Kristin Veitch.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Alias: "He's due a second coming - by way of a child..."

I have a list saved on my harddrive of all of the questions I would ask J.J. Abrams if and when I ever got the chance to meet him. It's not pages and pages long, but it's more than three or four random queries. They range in topic on many levels from, "What in the world made you think we'd ever believe Spy Mommy is evil?" all the way to "If Francinator took the Rambaldi potion that would always heal her, how come it didn't heal her when Will stabbed her in S3?"

My brain doesn't discriminate on question topics, and some are much more unimportant than others. However, there's one in particular that really gets under my skin and makes me long for a lunch date with the JAbrams so that I might pick his brain for a few hours on nothing more than this one subject.

If Sydney was told in S3 that one of the prophecies dealt with her giving birth to the second coming of Rambaldi, why was it not followed through with when Isabelle was conceived and born?

I have watched "Full Disclosure" (the episode in which this prophecy is announced) about 3948657394 times over the past several years, and there has always been a major loophole. Kendall tells Sydney that The Covenant extracted her eggs because *they believe* that the prophecy means Rambaldi's second coming has to be mothered by Syd and fathered directly from Rambaldi's 500-year-old swimmers. Kendall made it clear that this is just the way The Covenant chose to interpret the prophecy - not that it was, in fact, what the prophecy meant.

So, here's the issue I take with this: I always assumed that we'd reach a point where Syd & Vaughn would have a baby, and it would be revealed that Vaughn is a descendent of the ancient Rambaldi bloodline. Thus, him having a baby with Syd fulfills that prophecy because a child will have been created with the blood of The Chosen One and the bloodine/DNA of Rambaldi. And when Season Four ended with him revealing, "My name isn't Michael Vaughn," (and the audience already knowing of Garner's pregnancy) I was so sure it was all going to play out exactly as I had imagined.

Vaughn's father was involved in Rambaldi craziness. He was forced to flee their home and change all of their names. In the premiere of S5, it was revealed that the information Vaughn's father had been working on was some sort of genetic coding. All of this was leading up perfectly to a reveal that Andre Michaux was actually a part of the Rambaldi bloodline. It would have fit in so well with Alias mythology for the prophecy to have come together so "magically" by way of Syd and Vaughn falling in love on their own terms and yet maybe being fated to find one another because it was their destiny to have a child and fulfill that prophecy.

Would that not have been incredibly awesome? I would have preferred all of that over Sloane and the magic life juice in Rambaldi's tomb any day. But the series is over and how it ended can't be undone, so I'm forced to dream another dream.

Now, more than ever, I want an Alias movie. Let it pick up not long after the finale left off - several years in the future with Isabelle and Baby Jack living life on the beach with mom and dad. Isabelle showed us that she's "special" with her puzzle solving abilities, and I still think it's believable that people like Kelly Peyton and Sark would have an interest in her if it were discovered that Vaughn is a carrier of Rambaldi DNA. Suddenly, the Bristow-Vaughn children peak the interest of these Rambaldi enthusiasts because they are living proof of this "second coming" of Rambaldi.

Let's say they get kidnapped. Or at least Isabelle gets kidnapped, say right off the beach or out of her bedroom at night or riding her bike or while she's on the playground at "Deserted Island Beach Elementary School." You could base an entire really kickass movie around the revelation of Vaughn's bloodline and the fight to protect and rescue Isabelle.

Sort of a little bit like how I dream of the next X-Files movie being all about Mulder and Scully's search for William and their fight to get him back home with his real parents.

A girl can dream, right? Even if she can't, she can still put her foot down that everything stated above would make for one of the coolest movies ever. And I wouldn't mind more Garner/Vartan on screen together, either.

Oh, and just to prove that I'm not daydreaming all sorts of craziness, I found proof today that I am not alone in thinking this is a great idea. My friends can testify that I've had this whole storyline in my head for years, and my first Alias blog can prove that I stated it on paper at least a month ago... so it's not like I found what I'm about to show you just today and thought to myself, "What a fabulous idea! I shall claim it as my own!" More like I found what I'm about to show you and it reminded me that I've been meaning to blog about this...

Anyway, check out this awesome video to get an even better picture of what I'm talking about and how kickass it would be if they went through with it. I offer major props to whoever made this pseudo movie trailer - my brain thanks you for proving that I'm not alone in thinking they should have done the whole "Isabelle is the second coming because Vaughn is actually a Rambaldi" storyline in the first place.

I guess now we can hold out hope together that JAbrams and the gang realize like we have what a great idea it is, and then maybe someday soon we'll see a real trailer in theaters not incredibly unlike this fake one that I now drool over with hope and desire.

If all else fails, I suppose I'll have to write the screenplay myself.