Recapping a show is, for me, a very different process than just watching it as a fan.
For the first four years it was on the air, I don't think I wrote more than 500 words about "Lost." At Ain't It Cool, Hercules the Strong was the TV guy, and "Lost" was a particular favorite of his.
More than anything, I just wrote e-mails to Herc to geek out about the show, which I loved. Right away. The pilot had me on a hook. And I have to say that as I sit here ready to put the show to bed, I love it still. I think I've got a lot to say about the way they stuck this particular landing, but for the most part... they did it. I think "Lost" is a show that will have a shelf life. It's a badass ride. It's a really, really well-told pulp story. It's got style and wit and character and big ideas just spilling out of it. It's overstuffed way past the breaking point. It's so full of good things that many of them are just dead ends.
That's sort of the nature of TV, though. TV, no matter how much you plan out where you're going, is going to be reactive to some degree. And some shows are very, very reactive. Those shows embrace the notion that community is important for a show's lifetime on the air, while longevity is important for an afterlife. I think "Lost" is a show that people will watch as an event in the future. I think it is so much fun as a story when it's cooking along, doing its thing, getting all weird and soapy and throwing SF big idea left hooks and Univision-level shameless soap opera right hooks with the occasional pop culture joke jabs thrown in. That's the "Lost" that I love, and that's the "Lost" that got its groove on tonight with a vengeance at times.
"Fly" belongs to a club of my very favorite types of TV episodes. They're the types of episodes that feel like small plays, the types of episodes where it seems like the writing staff comes up with a challenge to give themselves and then spends its time trying to meet that challenge. Properly speaking, this is a "bottle show," but it's a bottle show unlike any other. The usual way to do a bottle show on a series like this is to trap some portion of the regular cast in a small room and have a threat pacing around just outside. Think of, say, "Lost's" "Lockdown," which featured Ben and Locke trapped in the Hatch together, or that "24" episode where everyone had to spend their time in one small room because of a toxic attack on CTU. That sort of thing.
[Full recap of Sunday's (May 23) "Breaking Bad" after the break...]
For about 90% of tonight’s finale of “Fringe,” I wasn’t really buying what the show was selling. Ideas? Crackling. Character work? Top-notch. But the story wasn’t up to par. Obstacles were overcome too easily, with enough plot holes to threaten an additional crack between the two universes. But then the true endgame was revealed, and everything before that moment clicked into place. And that cliffhanger? Well played, show. Well played indeed.
[Full recap of Thursday's (May 20) "Fringe" finale after the break...]
9:02 p.m. ET Tonight we find out who makes it into the "American Idol" Finale. Or else we're all just waiting around for Justin Bieber. It's all about how you look at it, I suppose.
9:03 p.m. Over 47 million votes came in last night, Ryan tells us. That's the most this season, not that he needs to mention it. We already know. And last year? Same week? 88 million votes.
Wednesday's (May 19) "American Idol" recap and results after the break...
Well, there we go. All that's left at this point is the proverbial fat lady.
I find myself of very mixed emotion as we reach this next-to-last episode of one of the only shows I actually bother to watch while it's airing. There are absolutely other great shows on TV right now. I recently watched the first two seasons of "Breaking Bad" in a day and a half, and I love catching up with "Mad Men" all at once when the Blu-ray sets are released. "Justified" is building a real head of steam as it goes this year, and I try to catch up every few weeks via Hulu, which is the same way I watched pretty much all of "Archer" in one fell swoop. TV continues to offer up all sorts of varied and fascinating entertainment. But as far as actual appointment television, "Lost" was pretty much the last one for me.
There's something special about certain shows, where they become more than just stories you're watching. There have been several shows over the years that have become full-blown social events for me and for my friends. I remember the heyday of "The X-Files," when a group of us would get together each week to watch together, and there was a time when every Saturday night would kick off with a "MST3K" party for me and my roommates. Even though it's harder these days to plan a big group get-together for any show, "Lost" has been a show that I've watched each and every week on the night that it aired for the full six seasons, and tonight was the last regularly scheduled episode ever. It's a strange feeling. I'm excited to see the ending on Sunday night, but I'm already missing this series that has been such a pleasant and rewarding habit for the better part of this decade.
Score another one for the gays! Tonight on "Glee," special guest Neil Patrick Harris showed up as Will Shuester's worst nightmare: his old glee club nemesis, Bryan Ryan, who's now old and bitter and bent on shuttering glee club for good. The good news: Bryan Ryan's thinly veiled anti-glee agenda gave the show a hilarious new way to poke fun at homophobic America, one that doesn't require Kurt to make out with girls and wear flannel just to figure out how much happier he is in his own skin. (Please, let's have no more of that.)
The bad news? Despite being written by show co-creator Brad Fulchuk and directed by the King of Geekery himself, Joss Whedon, Episode 19 felt a little off-balance at times, thanks to an overabundance of Will Shuester-Bryan Ryan frenemy duets and far too fewer scenes of, well, anyone else. Rachel and Miss Corcoran's tear-jerking "I Dreamed a Dream" and Artie's two -- yes, TWO! -- musical numbers were more effective than Will and Ryan's two man-to-man duets, even if Matthew Morrison and NPH did hit those ridiculously high notes during Aerosmith's "Dream On."
And while the main theme (friends helping their friends achieve their dreams) followed NPH's ex-Gleek Bryan Ryan and Rachel Berry's mommy issues, the heart of tonight's episode belonged to Kevin McHale's Artie, whose dream to one day walk and dance again gave us an emotional rollercoaster of a through line. Artie may have risen and fallen a few too many heart wrenching times this episode -- literally -- but we finally delved deeper into the hopes and dreams (and realities) of McKinley High's resident wheelchair-riding Gleek. I can't wait to see how Artie channels Lady Gaga in next week's not-to-be-missed episode.
[Full recap of Tuesday's (May 18) "Glee" after the break…]
Here is the thing.
"V" could have saved itself with a truly great finale. It wouldn't have redeemed 11 episodes of meandering, pointless plotting. It wouldn't have redeemed a show that seems to have a major identity crisis at every turn. It wouldn't have redeemed the misuse of many of the characters. But it could have given the sense that there are things that are going to happen on this show, that it won't just all be things occurring, seemingly at random, and vague portent. The show has tried to coast on just being coolly mysterious for so long now that it often seems like no one involved knows where any of this is headed, even if the questions that have been raised aren't all that compelling. It just assumes that we loved the original and are willing to go along with it because of that love, without really understanding that the original, while entertaining, is also not all that good, really. Good for its time? Maybe. But also pretty non-dramatic and dreary.
[Full recap of the May 18 "V" finale after the break...]
It’s the 100th elimination on “DWTS” and that, combined with Miley Cyrus performing, promises to make this a night of abject misery and possibly crying. Oh, and Rutgers is going up against Utah Valley University in the college dance championship. Which I care about not at all, but hey, they’ve got to fill up the damn hour somehow to prolong the suffering.
We're only one week from this season's "American Idol" finale. Crazy, right? You thought we'd be done two or three weeks ago, right? Me, too.
Tuesday's (May 18) "Idol" episode finds each singer performing twice, once on a song of their choosing and once on a song chosen for them by one of the judges. Once upon a time, this night also included a song chosen by the producers or by Clive Davis, but the days of fitting nine performances into a single "Idol" hour are long gone.
Full recap of Tuesday's performances after the break...