TV Shows I Miss

Have you found yourself, as I have, hesitant to embrace new shows?

When a show you loved gets hacked after one season (or worse, mid-season!) you grumble and curse the network under your breath. “How can you cut _____________, but keep trash like ______________ on the air!?!?!”

And then, when it happens again… and again… and again… you start to guard your media-heart a little more.

Anyways, the other day I was reading about a new series being created by one of my favorite writers: Aaron Sorkin.
Sorkin created shows like The West Wing and Sports Night, and wrote the amazing screenplay for The Social Network. He is currently working on a new show that will be similar to Sports Night but in the context of a News Channel. Sounds awesome!

Another show he created that I loved, but got dropped after only one season, was Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And I found myself ticked off all over again that a brilliant, smart, funny and good show like that was not picked up by for more seasons. Which got me to thinking: what other shows do I wish didn’t die so early?

Which then got me thinking: what shows had a great run, but I still miss because they were just so darn good?

So, here’s a list of some of my favorite television shows that I miss. Some because they were killed too early, and others that had a great run but I still miss them anyways.

SHOWS THAT DIED TOO YOUNG

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – As stated, a smart, funny and well written “behind the scenes” dramedy that took place on a variety-show. Came out at the same time as 30 Rock, and with similar premises but drastically different approaches, 30 Rock (which is great, BTW) came out the clear winner. But if you have Netflix, do yourself a solid and go watch the 22 episodes of this great show that only lasted one season. Perhaps if they would have dropped “on the Sunset Strip,” more would have watched? I wish.

Pushing Daisies – Originality is hard to come by. It’s easy to make another CSI or Law and Order or Real Housewives. But Pushing Daisies stood out for its quirky characters, its original concept, its unique look, and its pure fun-ness. Even with 17 Emmy nods and 7 wins, it still only lasted 2 seasons. I wish Ned could touch this show and bring it back from the dead (although unfortunately it would only last 60 seconds, after which another nearby show would have to die… Wait… that could be perfect! #desperatehousewives)

Better Off Ted – Witty and chalk full of satirical humor, this comedy was a blast! Ted, the protagonist, would narrate each episode by breaking the fourth wall, and trust me, it sounds corny but they made it work. All while also mocking big business and mega conglomerations. Also, brilliant acting by the wonderful Portia de Rossi. This is also on Netflix, so please… go enjoy!

SHOWS THAT HAD A GREAT RUN BUT I STILL MISS

Lost – Really? Was there any doubt this would be on my list? This show may have done more to change TV since CSI. Crazy original, brilliant cast, interesting and engaging story lines, mind-bending plot twists, all covered in a sweet sauce of love. TV, for me, was never better than when LOST was on. 6 seasons of awesomeness, and I still miss it.

The West Wing – After Lost, this probably ranks as my favorite show of all time. I’m a sucker for Sorkin, what can I say. I fell in love with the characters in this show like no other. A fascinating look in to the world of politics, for 7 seasons The West Wing was America’s other (and usually more interesting) White House Staff.

Gilmore Girls – After you stop snickering at me, listen to me say that this was a great show. Created by Amy Sherman Paladino, and written in the style of Sorkin (with the “always moving, always talking characters) Gilmore Girls was an honest look at the life and relationship between a (single) mom and her daughter. Lauren Graham is incredible, and if you like her at all on Parenthood then trust me, she was WAY better on Gilmore Girls. A massive thanks to my wife for getting me hooked on this show. We both mourned when it went off the air after 7 seasons.

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What about you?

Have you had a “favorite show” that died too early?

And what are some of your all-time favorites from the past that you can’t help but miss?

 

Why the LOST Finale Was NOT Awful

As you well know, my wife and I are (and have been… and will continue to be…) die-hard fans of LOST on ABC. And, as you well know, last night was the epic conclusion to a beautiful story told over the course of 6 mind-bending seasons.

The backlash to the wrap-up of the story that is LOST has been pretty straight down the middle: people either loved it, or they hated it… and it seems so far to be about a 50/50 split.

Let me offer you 3 reasons why I believe the finale was brilliant, beautiful and fitting.

1.) The “Characters” Have Always Been More Important Than the “Mysteries”

LOST has thrived on it’s ability to create a cast of characters that the viewers instantly fell in love with. Over the past 6 years, we have invested ourselves emotionally in the lives (backstory, forwardstory, sidestory) of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and others. The writers primary purpose has always seemed to me to create compelling “characters” first, give them a compelling “story” second, and place them in a compelling “context” third. Last night was beautiful because it focused on giving us what was important: the characters. We got to witness the redemption and reunions of our favorite people (How could you NOT enjoy watching Jin and Sun get to see their baby? How could you remain unmoved when Charlie got to touch Claire and hold Aaron? Were you mad at your T.V. when Sawyer and Juliet planned their dutch coffee-date?). Any finale that focused more on the story and the context (the mysteries of the island) instead of the characters would have been infinitely more dissatisfying… I promise you.

2.) It is Better to Have Loved and LOST, then Never to Have Loved at All: The Sideways Reality

Say what you will about the Sideways-reality ending up being some sort of after-life experience (and yes, of course, this is important), but pause and reflect on what we SAW during that reality, and how that story line evolved. You have heard it said, “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” and I think that the Sideways-reality is potentially the best depiction of this maxim. It seems that the Sideways-reality was a picture of what the characters life “would” have been had they not ever gone to the Island (or at least what they “thought” it would have been). And for each character, there seemed a strange tension of this non-island reality being both better and worse than the island-reality. But in the end, as each character had their moment of realization, their epiphanal-moment, it was as though they realized that although the island represented years of struggle, hardship, chaos, and loss, it ALSO represented years of love, beauty, relationships, trust and redemption. Talk to people who have gone through agonizing experiences and often times you’ll find that in the end they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. The highest of highs in our life are often accompanied by, or a direct result of, the lowest of lows. And for our LOST characters, the Sideways-reality gave them a gift of seeing that ultimately the time on the Island was and is a better reality than one without it. They thought they would be better off having never been to the Island, but it turns out the exact opposite is true. Also, can I just say that I don’t think it was a cop-out or a lame excuse for an ending to have the Sideways-reality be some sort of “after-life” experience? Like I’ve said before, the whole story was heading in the direction of some sort of sci-fi/fantasy/suspension-of-belief ending. There was going to be no logical or rationale conclusion. In fact, that is sort of one of the main points of the show: science vs faith, reason vs belief. ANY ending that was to merge the Sideways-reality with the Island-reality was going to force you to suspend belief, to just go-with-it.

3.) Answers are Overrated

For those frustrated that their questions weren’t answered, let me ask you: how many of your questions would have had to been answered for you to feel satisfied? 3? 5? 17? Seriously, at what point would you have been happy? If you entered the finale thinking “they better answer all my questions,” weren’t you already setting yourself up to be disappointed? Besides, I think answers are often less fulfilling anyways than mystery, intrigue, and imagination. Chances are, if “answers” were what you had your hopes set on, I’m willing to wager that whatever “answer” was given wouldn’t have been good enough. (Also, is it possible that you DID actually get an answer to your question, but you just aren’t willing to accept it? Ex. Q) What was that pool of light that supposedly harnessed some strange energy and beauty? A) It was a pool of light, harnessing energy and beauty.) I think we are so used to getting everything figured out for us (i.e. shows like CSI, NCIS, Mentalist, House, etc, give you all the answers you need at the end of 60 minutes) that we forget what it’s like to be left still wondering… to be left in that place of curiosity, intrigue, confusion. This is what the Socratic-method is all about: asking questions. That’s when we learn best. The writers want US to wrestle with these mysteries. They don’t want to just spoon feed us. Sure, we can feel robbed when it feels like major plot points are left untouched, or inconsistencies seem un-resolved. I get it. But it boils down to a our own willingness to be okay with not-knowing. Jesus himself taught in stories that often left his hearers more confused than before. They were forced to wrestle with his coded-sayings, his cryptic stories. He would have been less effective, less compelling, and probably less interesting had he just explained everything in easy to understand ways.

In the end, I feel like the biggest questions, the ones most important to the characters themselves, were answered sufficiently and beautifully. The Finale gave us powerful and meaningful moments with the characters. The Finale gave us memorable quotes (Hurley to Ben: Dude, you were a great #2. Ben to Hurley: And you were a great #1). The Finale gave us proper reunions. The Finale gave us wonderful pictures of sacrifice (Jack resetting the pool of light) and powerful moments of redemption.

I, for one, am proud to have been a part of LOST, and I’m proud of the way Lindelof and Cuse wrapped things up.

What about you?

Were you satisfied? Frustrated? Happy, sad?

Did you love it or loathe it?

Take the Poll and leave your comments below.

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LOST: Which “Jack” Will You Be?

Well, the time has come. As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.”

The epic, groundbreaking, culture changing, TV programming altering show that is LOST will conclude this Sunday with millions of Americans tuning in for probably a variety of reasons. Chief among those reasons? The Hope for Answers.

If you’ve been watching LOST over the past 6 years, you are well aware of the tangle of mysteries and the web of questions the writers have been weaving. How, for every question they answer, another 3 more get asked. If you’ve been following Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and the others (and the Others) then you know well what this Sunday means for them. And as much as we want our favorite characters to find answers, to find redemption, WE ourselves have also become characters in this story who are also looking for redemption, looking for answers.

After the episode a week ago (“Across the Sea“) I couldn’t help but wrestle with the following question regarding the closing of this story that is LOST, and I wonder if you’ve wrestled with it as well…

When all is said and done, when the final credits role, when mysteries have been revealed and questions answered, which “Jack” will I be? Will I be the Jack of Season 1, insistent that the only explanation for things are logical, rational, scientific. Or will I be the Jack of Season 6, open to possibilities that stretch beyond reason, embracing mystery itself as both the means and the end?

Here’s why I think this question is important. I think that in some way the satisfaction of the viewer (maybe not for the entire six-season show, but certainly the finale) hinges on whether or not we demand answers that would satisfy Season-1-Jack, or accept answers that would satisfy Season-6-Jack.

You see, all along, especially since Season 3, the story that is LOST has been pointing at (at times hinting, and at times shouting) a very sci-fi type of reality. This was none more evident than in last weeks episode where mysteries of what the Island is and who it’s keepers are was revealed.

A small creek, going down a shaft of really bright light, in the middle of the Island? THAT is what all this fuss is about? A place where light, energy, and beauty is all stored? And Jacob (and his mom) are just there to protect people from finding it? Huh…

But for me, who has extensive background in the realms of science fiction and fantasy, this was not just sufficient, it was perfect. I’ve been expecting moments like this. I’m okay with things like light and energy, powerful water and elements (magic wands, powerful rings, crystals, potions, wizards, aliens, etc). A pool of light and energy? Yup. Ageless guardians to protect it? Yup. Channeling water and light to create giant wheels to time travel and move the island? Of course.

But for someone who doesn’t have that background, or who doesn’t get excited about those sorts of things, they could still be asking the question, “well, yeah, but what does that MEAN? What “is” that pool of light? How did it get there? Who put it there? Where did it’s keepers come from? What the $@#% does it MEAN!!”

And you can see how Jack of Season 1 would have the latter reaction, whereas the Jack of Season 6 (especially as shown last night, in “What They Died For“) would have the former.

One of the primary themes throughout the 6 seasons, if not THE primary theme, has been the tension between Science and Faith (Jack vs Locke). And if we, the viewers, don’t prepare ourselves to be open to mystery going in to Sundays Finale, I fear we will find ourselves frustrated and disappointed. So I say, which “Jack” will you be? How important are reasonable are logical explanations of the island and it’s mysteries? Does it have to make “sense?”

I fear that if you haven’t made a similar progression or evolution that Jack has made over the past 6 years, then you might be the ones Monday morning posting “LOST… what a waste of six years” on your Facebook.

Here’s to mystery embraced, and the beauty of faith.

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I’m Fine Being LOST

LOST Final Season

Last night, the first episode of the final season of LOST aired on ABC.

Last night, 12 million people tuned in with great excitement and anticpation.

Last night, the brain child of JJ Abrams, and the creative genius of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse began it’s final chapter.

Last night was pure euphoric joy.

Over the past five years, LOST has touched a nerve with many viewers. For some, it’s the richly dense mythology. For some it’s the depth and beauty of the characters. For others it’s the way the story so meticulously plays out. And for the rest, it’s just plain fun.

However, many people after last night’s season 6 premiere found themselves further frustrated by the, quote, “lack of answers to the myriad of questions and puzzles LOST has built up over the past five years.”

If you watched, then you know what I’m talking about:

  • A seeming dual-reality of the characters both “on the island” and “off the island.”
  • A strange temple, with stranger temple people
  • The “Man in Black” doubling as Locke AND Smokey
  • The death and resurrection of Sayid (or is it?)
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc

Rather than begin the process of unwinding the large string of yarn the writers have been weaving, they seemed to make the web even more difficult to untangle. And apparently this has got some people up in arms.

I, for one, am perfectly happy with more puzzle pieces being added to the already uber-complex 5000 piece puzzle, even if it means in the end there are some pieces that never make it in to the puzzle.

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I’m an artist by many accounts, and so my brain is wired a little differently from a non-artist.

One artist friend I have, his name is Steve, writes plays and sketches.

I remember Steve writing a play one time and sharing it with me and some others. We offered some critique after reading through it, mostly centered around the fact that the “main point” wasn’t clear enough. He kept arguing that he didn’t want to “spell it out for everyone, and remove their obligation to have to think.”

Ultimately he DID end up making the script clearer, but not for the sake of “art,” rather for the sake that the play needed to communicate certain truths. In other words, it was more purpose-driven than art-driven.

But his argument has stuck with me.

And artists, for the most part, get this.

We don’t want to have to “explain” everything about our creation. We don’t want to spell it all out, and explain EXACTLY what we were thinking and what it all means.

Great art is open for multiple interpretations, regardless of what the original artist intends. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s good.

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LOST, I believe is a 21st century work of art.

And as such, I feel less inclined to have to KNOW precisely what the writers MEAN about EVERYTHING.

For me, the journey is half (if not more) the fun. The puzzles, the mysteries, the plot twists and turns, are thrilling and addicting. And if, in the end, it doesn’t all work out the way I want it to, or things get left unresolved, I don’t think I’ll consider the past 6 years of watching LOST a “waste.”

Last night’s premiere blew my mind.

And I’m okay with half of it still scattered on my living room floor.

I’ll probably leave most of it there for the next 16 weeks, knowing that it won’t do any good to pick up it because it will be re-blown in seven days.

After the series finale on May 23rd I imagine I’ll need a day to recover. Partly because I’ll be in mourning at the conclusion of my 2nd favorite show of all time, and partly because my mind will be numb from trying to wrap it around all that the writers will ask me to.

So Damon and Carlton, if you read this, please know that at least one person will not cry “foul” if you don’t answer every question and solve every mystery.

Some things, like eating Mexican food and watching LOST, are better during the process than what comes out in the end.