Sunday, February 28, 2010


It appears I was wrong about Lost. Stray no further if you are among the unanointed and don’t want to be spoil’t.

Way back in May, I prophesied, falsely, it now seems, that Juliet’s final act would simply have caused “The Incident,” the very thing Jack was aiming to prevent. The show’s insistence on keeping up with the Sideways Universe now pretty much shoots that theory all to hell. I think I shouted “WHAT?” at my laptop screen a half a dozen times through the run of “LAX.”

I find the whole development disappointing, and not just because I was wrong. Alternate realities are a convenient cheat of time travel stories, and in a show that has blathered on incessantly about destiny and fate since day one, having their ultimate fate sidelined by a big ol’ bomb seems counter-intuitive. I’ll wait to see what happens next. “The Substitute” offered us two versions of the John Locke we’ve been following for five years, but neither one was actually him.

The stakes, admittedly, are somewhat different. Take Back to the Future 2 as an example here. Biff Tannen rewrites history by giving himself-in-the-past a sports almanac. Woohoo gambling money. The universe’s rules haven’t changed, only the sequence of events. In “LAX” however, we already get clues that this isn’t the case. We see Desmond on the plane and, in a key line, Hurley tells Sawyer “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” My guess is, Tricia Tanaka ain’t dead, neither. And, as was pointed out to me, in the original pilot it’s Jack who reassures Rose and not the other way around, as in “LAX.”

And, in the big whopper last Tuesday’s “Lighthouse,” we learn that this Jack has a son. A piano prodigy, by the way, the same way as Daniel Faraday was. I don’t know how or if that’s significant, as the parade of Island-dwellers now transplanted to 2004 LA continues, I’m really not sure what the hell is going on. Over at Medialoper, blogger Jim Connelly’s theory is that the two realities are going to start to bleed together, a theory backed up a bit here by Alterna-Jack not knowing where he got his appendix scar, something it turns out he’s had for years.

Bringing the two paths together seems inevitable, especially for making the drama of these “new” characters work. But what does it prove? “Lighthouse” was besprent with mirror imagery, and not just in its eponymous never-before-seen tower. What does seeing how their lives might have been give us? What’s the point? From the beginning the show has been about duality, and this seems to be an outgrowth of that, but, really, does having these two opposites bleeding in to eachother undermine that duality? What are we left with?

PS: The image at the beginning if this post is from a fabulous collection of fan-made Season 6 posters by Mattson Creative
PPS: Alterna-Jack should totally grow a goatee.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And another thing

I've found my Lois Lane. That is all.

Look Up in the Sky

Since my attempts to blog about politics tend to devolve in to rants (seriously, you should have seen the one I planned about cherry-picking the Real America. Completely. Imploded.), I've decided to direct my ranting powers toward something a little more down-to-Earth. I'm talking here about Superman, the Man of Tomorrow.

News has reached me of the rumor that Christopher Nolan will be shepherding, "godfathering," in fact, a new Superman film while at the same time continuing his fine work on Batman.

I like Christopher Nolan. The man does fine work. 'Memento' is a revelation, his work on Batman has been top-notch, I'm even looking forward to 'Inception,' though every trailer seems only to up the "what the HELL?" factor. But I think this is the wrong direction for a prospective Superman sequel.

Nolan's pedigree with superhero movies is he puts 'em back in the grim and gritty category, and that works great for Batman. He's been doing that schtick since '86 and it works fantastic. But Superman...not so much. For evidence, check out the Singer version.

Singer's Superman is loaded down with hopelessly on-the-nose Christ allegories and a talky plot that's all about how Superman--played by an actor who's 25--has been gone for five years, leaving Lois--who's played by an actress who's 23--with an infant son because he schtupped her while still pretending he and Clark were two different guys. The ick factor alone coming off this film was enough to doom the project. Darkness does not equal quality. Grittiness does not equal greatness.

So, for what it's worth, and for anyone reading this who hasn't heard my constant entreaties to check out Grant Morrison's 'All-Star Superman,' let me hold forth the example of how the Superman reboot should be handled--and every Superman project, really.

One of the many, many good things about 'All-Star' is how it captures Superman's origins in four panels. The latest spate of superhero franchise movies all start with the origin story. Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, even (gagh) Daredevil and Ghost Rider, all follow the same beats. The only thing 'Superman Returns' had going for it was ditching his familiar-as-rote origin story. Unfortunately it replaced all this with baggage from a film that was released twenty-six years before.

Superman needs to not be about x-raying through your ex's house walls and listening to her phone conversation. It needs to not be about deadbeat dads and just the terrible, terrible burden it must be to fight giant cube planets full of zombies, here to eat the Earth.

Superman as a character tends to get the short shrift. He's dismissed as dorky and anachronistic and leeched of drama because, really, you have to drop a mountain on the guy to hurt him. These are not elements that can be fixed by making him, well, Batman.

Warner tried this tactic once before, with a TV adaptation of 'The Flash.' Following Bruce Wayne's cinematic success in 1989, Barry Allen followed suit with a dark, set-at-night show where he growls at people a lot. You've never heard of it. There's a reason.

I don't think Warner Brothers understands this. Morrison knows it, though. That you can tell stories with a mythic quality and still make them human. That the crux doesn't have to be "will Superman survive?" but rather "Can he save everyone?" And the answer to this is always going to be "no," even for him, and he's going to keep fighting anyway, and that's what makes him great.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Whatever Happened to Mister Garibaldi?

A number of complicated, trenchant, well-phrased and generally bloggable thoughts came screaming through my head as I glimpsed the inaugural authorial work of one Mr. Gerard T. Doyle.

Who is Jerry Doyle?, I hear you asking. THIS is who Jerry Doyle is.

Or was, rather. For five years, Doyle played Chief of Security Michael Garibaldi on the syndicated TV show ‘Babylon 5’ Garibaldi was an intensely likeable, average-joe type, with a history of drinking and, you know, a raygun. And that was it. That was pretty much his life. He briefly tried to run for Congress in Orange County, quipping when asked why we should take his campaign seriously “I’m the only candidate with my own action figure” but he largely disappeared from the TV landscape. Imdb lists one screen credit between 2004 and 2010. It also tells me he’s good friends with premiere American nutjob asshole Michael Savage.

Three thoughts ran through my head as I considered this, Doyle’s first work of non-fiction. The first was a pointed, “Fuck YOU, JD.” I don’t need fucking actors, even actors whose work I enjoyed when I was eighteen, even actors whose politics I like and respect, weighing in on the current political discourse. I resolved to do up an angry blog post about it.

Which brought me to Thought 2: Since when am I qualified to bitch about Doyle’s qualifications to bitch about the current political discourse?

Thought 3: This is AMERICA. Doyle can say whatever the Hell he wants, no matter how ill-informed, bent, or insane. That somebody gave him a book deal because he knows the right people or because they thought the whole “This is the moment I was born for” fight against the invisible Shadow beasts was, well, let’s face it, pretty bitchin’ means nothing. People of arguably less talent and ability have produced more. See also: Michael Savage.

Thought 4: Hm. Doyle’s been out of circulation since god-knows-when (imdb would later fill in the blanks for me). I smell a PLOT! A plot to resuscitate an image that, frankly, no one cares about.

Thought 5: I’m not even going to bring up ‘Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys.’ I just won’t. You’re welcome.

Thought 6: Well, Largo, if you’re hell-bent on bitching about the thing, least you can do is read it. (See also: Atlas Shrugged.) So I did.
…And I didn’t get that far. Seriously, I can’t even listen to the RADIO half the time before wanting to kick someone. So let me give you the highlights, because I’m not a book reviewer and my father used to tell me if I kept torturing myself, I’d go blind.

Doyle opens his book with the cigarette tax and SCHIP. He explains, with an irony that’s so heavy-handed on-the-nose it could be sued by a personal injury attorney, that he smokes cigarettes “for the children.” He expands on this premise, slyly decrying “sin” taxes and generally coming off as just your average joe who wants to sit back and enjoy a beer and the game without all the damn liberals in Congress getting on his damn case about it.

It was around here that I put the book down. I picked it up at a random spot a little further on where Doyle explains that he left his career in film and television (and what a lucrative career it was, ladies and gentlemen) to run for Congress. I remember reading on the imdb that, when asked why his campaign for California District 24 should be taken seriously, Doyle replied "I'm the only candidate with my own action figure."

In here there's little of that. Doyle says his career as an actor was never brought up because his opponent, incumbent Brad Sherman, knew he had too much of a command on the issues. To be fair, he doesn't spoil the rod when it comes to, say, Tom DeLay and his rigging of the Ethics Committee (p. 203) to protect his own ass. Though, mostly, the book is a tirade against what Doyle perceives as Economic Fascism and the Media Obsession with President Obama, something which already dates the book by several months and it's only been out one.

Turns out Doyle's got his own radio show, which is nationally syndicated, so that shows me, I guess. The book is less of a cynical attempt to reform his career than I thought. Following his electoral defeat in 2000, Doyle declared himself an independent and started 'The Jerry Doyle' show.

The problem with Doyle's (and Bill O'Rielly and Glenn Beck's, really) brand of Independent Conservatism is it comes from a false premise, that the sense of privilege we enjoy in this country is our God-given right, and that if somebody wants you to, say, give a damn that people in your own country are starving to death, for instance, well then you're a goddamn Communist, and if you want to legislate ANYTHING, well, then you're infringing on every American's God-Given Right to Be American, Damn It. Nevermind anybody else. This sense that things are OWED us, simply because they are the things we're used to. It's this myopic sense of entitlement that tells us the Fifties were the best time in history, that the world outside doesn't exist except when it sends us Islamofascist Terrorists and High-Quality Hungarian Porn, and Secret Kenyan Plots to Rule the World. Boo.