Midseason TV 2008 – part 2

As the WGA strike drags on, and new scripted shows continue to trickle in, it’s finally time for the long-awaited return of Lost. Given the mostly-clear TV landscape, there’s room for new shows such as quirky lawyer series Eli Stone to get a fighting chance (at least until it runs out of new episodes as well). Sci-fi series Torchwood has its own leg-up since it’s produced in the UK, and not subject to the WGA strike. I kind of don’t mind that my TV schedule is now a bit sparser because it gives me time to get to know some overlooked shows such as 30 Rock and Dexter.

Lost

There is so much expectation on this show, but it still does not disappoint. I rewatched season 3 on DVD to reacquaint myself with what happened leading up to the season-ending moment of hope when the castaways could potentially be rescued. There was also the small matter of the flash-forwards. The finale (and by extension the legacy it gives to the beginning of season 4) is great for two reasons. First, I love the fact that just when we were getting a bit tired of the Others, Naomi parachutes on to the island and now there’s a freighter full of new “Others”. We get to ask the same questions we asked two seasons ago: Are they good or bad? What are they really after? By the end of the first episode we meet the second person from the freighter (I wonder what their nicknames will be on the forums. The “Freightees”? — sounds dumb) but we still don’t know for sure if they’re good or bad (hey, we still wonder about the original Others, don’t we?). Second, the flash-forwards have opened up a whole new Pandora’s Box of mysteries. As we gradually get to see who survives to return home, and as we start to wonder why they feel the need to return to the island, those of us who were frustrated by unanswered questions may have to bite our tongues even more this season. I got over that need a long time ago, so I am really looking forward to how the rest of this season turns out (especially if they have to cut the season short — I wonder if they’ll do a Heroes-style mini-season).

Eli Stone

From the creator of Everwood (which I never watched), comes a new show about a lawyer (the eponymous Eli Stone, played by Jonny Lee Miller) who has a change of life when he starts to hear music (“Faith” featuring George Michael in a cameo) and sees visions (the aforementioned musical number, and a San Fran street car, among others). A lawyer seeing visions just screams “Ally McBeal”, but the similarities really seem to end there. As these hallucinations seem to imply a direction for Eli’s choices, the show begins to resemble another show even more. In Joan of Arcadia, the heroine met various incarnations of God each week who directed her to do seemingly irrational things which all made sense in the end. I sense a similar path for Eli Stone. However, it’s hard for me to buy the quasi-spiritual explanation given because (like many avid TV watchers) I’ve grown used to these kinds of plot devices and find it hard to swallow them as a divine plan — it’s the writers/producers who have the plan! In the first episode, the legal stuff was pretty light-weight, but hopefully if this show succeeds, it will do so by focusing more on the characters and the cases rather than the visions. After all, that’s the kind of balance that helped Ally.

Torchwood

In case you didn’t watch this show in its first season, it’s basically about a team of special-agents who deal with aliens and alien artifacts that crop up in Wales (apparently there are a lot of them). Besides the bizarre nature of the storylines, the other thing that made this show stand out has been its pan-sexual characters. At the end of last season, the charismatic, immortal, time-travelling, “omni-sexual” team leader, Capt. Jack Harkness disappeared (he went off to join his parent series Doctor Who for a guest stint). Now he’s suddenly back, and the team seems to have gotten on OK without him. First episode features James Marsters (as if I have to tell you that he played Spike on Buffy/Angel) as a former colleague/lover of Harkness who’s even more of a rogue than ol’ Capt. Jack himself. I enjoyed the second episode even more. The story centred around a woman who may have killed her own husband because she may actually be an alien (but doesn’t know it). Freaky-cool, eh?

As sad as it has been to face the reality that many shows have probably ended their seasons in December, I’m glad there are a few things left to watch and enjoy.

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