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TV Reviews

9.1
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Lost – “Lighthouse”

After the superb episode last week, Lost returns with an equally powerful, although very different episode. One thing I’ve noticed so far is that the action hasn’t been quite at the forefront of the show like previous seasons, although the dialogue among characters and the development of each person has been superb. Not since Season 1 have we had such great interactions between characters. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of action to go around in the upcoming episodes, but for now, I’m really liking this season. Every episode feels as if a twist could occur at any moment.

Although I haven’t been the biggest fan of these sideways universe scenes, this was probably the best one so far. I’ve always thought that Matthew Fox played Jack perfectly and that he was underrated when placed next to Michael Emerson and the other excellent supporting cast. However, he really stole the show in this episode. He had the perfect balance of emotion and anger. And the sideways universe continues to show its odd connections to the stuff going on on the Island, including a surprise appearance by Dogen, and Jack’s appendix scar that he got in the episode “Somewhere Nice Back Home,” back when life was easy in Season 4 and the survivors only had to worry about Widmore’s freighter.  Jack’s mother tells him he got it when he was seven, but something tells me Jack suspects otherwise. And as for Jack’s son in the alternate universe? A very interesting twist, which paid off in terms of acting. This allowed us to see the fatherly side of Jack, which was very different from Jack the Leader from earlier seasons. And as for Jack’s scene in the cave? That just might be one of my favorite scenes from the last few seasons. It’s the first time Jack’s mentioned to anyone that he chased his dad around the island since he kind of told Locke in the fifth episode of the show.

9.0
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Lost – The Substitute

So compared to last week’s episode that infuriated so many fans, “The Substitute” should be a great way to bounce back. Chockful of little tidbits of information, this episode allowed us to get a clear image of what’s going on with the Island and the rest of the survivors. Whether or not it’s something that was worth waiting this long for is up for each viewer to decide themselves, but as for me, I’m intrigued. A little confused, of course, but intrigued nonetheless.

Locke episodes always tend to be some of the better episodes of Lost, if only because Locke is one of the better characters and one of the most mysterious characters on television period. He’s gone through more in his life than most fictional characters, and he’s been killed, reborn via a mysterious plume of black smoke and had his faith shattered more times than one. Watching Locke maneuver his way through life, on and off the Island, is endlessly entertaining. This episode was no exception. We got to see through the eyes of the Man in Black in smoke-form for the first time (and he’s been around for AWHILE, so this is a pretty big deal) and got to see the Man in Black slowly beginning to take shape in terms of motives and what he’s really like. Hearing his speech to Sawyer about he feels all the same human emotions as anybody else and has lost people he’s loved as well was a completely different side of him.  This seems significant, especially because it feels as if we’re being pushed by the writers to believe this Man in Black is the villain, and when we see scenes like this, it’s difficult to know if he’s good or bad. It’s easy to see this Man in Black/Fake-Locke as being a villain, especially with Richard so terrified of him.

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24 – “Day 8: 5:00 A.M. – 6:00 A.M. “

It’s funny what’ll happen when you discover an old friend or family member is passing away: sometimes, you’re more inclined to forgive them for any mistakes they’ve made and make amends with them for their flaws, however fatal they may be. 24 is sort of like that at this point. It’s been announced recently that 24 would not be returning for a 9th season. That’s right, eight years of Jack Bauer killing terrorist after terrorist seems to be about as much as Fox is willing to air. I admit that I take in this news with a heavy heart; 24 was the first serial drama show that I started watching. It was the first show to draw me into the world of television. Hearing that it’s being canceled upsets me, even though it’s clear the show has reached a point when it just needs to end. Thankfully, the writers seem to have constructed this season to end on a strong note, and I’m sure after a few minor edits to the scripts, the finale of the show will be powerful and memorable, something that can’t be forgotten.

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The Office – Happy Hour

One common complaint about The Office now days is how often the show leaves the comforts of Dunder Mifflin (I suppose I should call it Dunder Mifflin/Sabre now..) and focuses on the situations that occur outside of the office.  I have to agree with this since “The Office” was created as a mockumentary about Dunder Mufflin and it should focus primarily on Dunder Mifflin related topics.  However, over the past two seasons, I’ve stopped viewing the show as a documentary on the company and more of a documentary about the employees who work there.  I mean, why else would this crew follow everybody to Jim and Pam’s wedding or visit Dwight at his exclusive beet farm?  It’s a show about mid-level employees doing their best to survive in a strange and somewhat surreal world where they can be attacked at any moment by strange and hyper bosses, maniacal employees and other paper related fiascos.  This episode takes place almost completely outside of the office, but it allows us to be re-introduced to some great supporting characters who sometimes get lost behind Michael’s gigantic ego and Jim and Pam’s cute, but admittedly time-consuming relationship.  This was an episode where the strengths are derived from the supporting cast.

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24 – “Day 8: 3:00 A.M. – 4:00 A.M. “

What 24 needs right now is an hour long episode filled with every element that has made the show successful for the past four years. Unfortunately, previous episodes this season have failed to deliver these elements, and Season 8 has suffered because of it. That said, however, this episode was a breath of fresh air; a reminder that 24’s writers and show runners still know how to keep their fans on their toes.

24 is a show where one must suspend their idea of what is real and what isn’t, or what is possible and what is impossible. The first season of the show was slightly more realistic than any of the seasons that followed, and it appears we’ll never have a season so simple in the way the plot is laid out. Season 8 has undergone at least four different villain changes so far. Just as we grow used to the intricacies that are controlling these bad guys, they’re killed off. The most disappointing death so far was Josef Bazhaev. They introduced him, hinted at his motives and than killed him off as if he were nothing more than a glorified extra. I was disappointed, especially since the villain who took his place, Samir, is so bland and two-dimensional (can a character be one-dimensional? Because Samir is really pushing it..) But Taran has proven to be a clever, sneaky and complex character. When he showed up on CTU’s cameras, I was completely shocked. I expected him to be dead, but 24 is one of those shows where you can never be sure somebody is dead until you see their body being lowered into the ground (and I’m sure it’s questionable even then).

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Lost – Dr. Linus

Remember back in Season 1, when life on Lost was simple? A group of men, women, children and a dog named Vincent crashed on a mysterious island, and they were trying to get off by building a raft and keeping signal fires burning? I’ll admit, and I’m sure I won’t be the first to admit it, I miss the simple days of Lost, when plot development was sometimes passed over in place of character development. It was nice to learn about these characters for the first time, and as the show continued, I feel as if the whole flashback dynamic stopped working, mostly because it was simply reiterating what we already knew about these characters. The introduction of the flash-forward was cool for a while, but it soon became dull.  I still don’t know if it’s because I just grew sick of the whole “jumping back and forth to the past or future” schtick or if I just grew sick of hearing the word “flash-forward” from ABC’s other serial drama. Either way, earlier Lost episodes benefited from being able to take characters we didn’t know much about and using flashbacks to fill in the blank spaces.

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Lost – Ab Aeterno

Some may accuse me of being biased, of not being objective in reviewing episodes of shows I happen to like a lot. And I say to those people.. you’re probably right. However, I like to give shows benefits of the doubt and not be too harsh on them, especially when their worst episodes are better than a lot of the drivel on TV right now. Long story short: tonight’s episode of Lost was incredible, an hour or so of great acting, writing and (dare I say it) explaining. Well, maybe not full-blown explanations, but anybody who’s not happy by the scenes between Jacob and Richard, or Jacob and the Man in Black at the end, are crazy, and you probably won’t be happy with anything Lost has to offer from here on out. I was very happy with the way tonight’s episode played out, and while I think an episode this dense deserves more than a few hours of thought and consideration, I feel I should write it while it’s fresh in my mind.

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The Office – “St. Patrick’s Day”

I am definitely one of the fans of The Office who have found Season 6 to be less than stellar. The show seems to have hit its creative peak in Seasons 2 and 3 and ever since, it’s been more focused on showing the characters delving into ridiculous situations that are far from realistic, yet funny at the same time. However, just because a show is funny doesn’t mean it’s as entertaining as it used to be. I don’t think The Office has reached the point yet where it can be considered bad by any stretch of the imagination. And from what I can see, people are just not feeling the new episodes. However, I thought this episode had some great work by the supporting characters and some increasingly irritating work by Michael Scott, who has turned into a needy little child over the six years on television.  It’s one thing when you have a main character who is notorious for being strange, but when you let the oddities of his personality smother the tolerable parts, it becomes a bit difficult to handle.

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24 – “Day 8: 2:00 A.M. – 3:00 A.M. “

Last week was a breath of fresh air for 24 after losing its way for a little while. We were given plenty of typical 24 moments: action, twists, cliffhangers, political drama and great acting. This week’s episode picks up almost exactly where last week left off. Wait, on second thought, isn’t that every episode of 24? Jack is preparing to bring Marco’s mother into the mix in order to convince Marco to back down, Hassan is still paranoid as hell, although he has calmed down a bit, Dana and Cole are still bickering and the terrorists are in the same place that they’ve been for what feels like hours and hours.

7.5
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Boardwalk Empire – Family Limitations

In the Boardwalk Empire universe, the time has come for the characters to all take a good long look in the mirror.  From Nucky, trying to balance seeing himself as a good man and the debaucherous life he leads, to Margaret imagining herself as Cinderella transforming from commoner to princess; to more minor characters such as Agent Van Alden with his strange obsession with Margaret and Lucky Luciano, who finally realizes it’s not Jimmy’s wife who he’s been sleeping with, but his mother.  All around the show, everyone seems to be being forced to confront the lies they’ve been telling themselves so they can sleep at night.

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