Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
The Carrot and the Stick
2006-10-12 06:59
by Jon Weisman

The headline above refers to how Lost treats both its characters and its viewers. It entices them with hope, nourishes them even, then whaps them across the skull with reality, only to leave them coming back for more, fighting for more. It's a fairly exquisite pleasure/pain combo (heavy on the pleasure, in my opinion), and Wednesday's episode was a tremendous example.

As is usually the case with Sun-Jin stories, the flashbacks were filled with poignancy and complexity, filled with characters fighting the good vs. bad fight, outside themselves as well as within. And while the whole smashing and hauling of rocks struck me as somewhat peculiar (somehow Blazing Saddles and Take the Money and Run came to mind), the Sawyer-Kate-Jack predicament at the hands of Ben and friends kept peeling back layer upon layer. And the whole thing with the Red Sox tickled me. The fact that Lost has this much contact with the outside world, that the focus has moved to Ben's mission instead the vague Dharma Initiative, has given the show another gear.

* * *

I'm going to offer a counterpoint to Mark Donahue's review of 30 Rock. The show made me laugh more times than I can count - it has an offbeat sensibility that is working for me, that doesn't seem to be trying too hard. The environment is dry but light. Alec Baldwin, I think everyone agrees, is terrific, but I also like what Tina Fey is providing - she's a little flat, yes, but her performance is almost a metaphor - she works for me as someone barely staying on top of her responsibilities. (The genius of 30 Rock, intentional or not, is that the show within a show, The Girlie Show, can truly suck, without affecting the verisimilitude of 30 Rock.) 30 Rock is completely unpretentious and as a result, has the promise of being quite likeable.

I'll just add that I always found Tracy Morgan over the top on Saturday Night Live, so any humor he brings here is unexpected. But he did get me a couple of times with a real enthusiastic effort. That's another thing about 30 Rock: The people seem to like what they're doing, unlike Studio 60, where so many seem like they're performing under duress.

2006-10-12 07:57:46
1.   DXMachina
My reaction to the Red Sox thing was "Oh, please," but that may come of living amidst those for whom it was the defining moment of their wretched lives.

I've gave up on Lost when Michael turned Judas and became a murderer. I still watch because there's really nothing else on opposite it, but I really don't care much what happens, other than wishing that Sayid gets another extended session with Ben. I do enjoy Sun's and Jin's backstory, though, IMO the most interesting of the group. I was glad to see that Jin had a line he wouldn't cross.

2006-10-12 09:47:23
2.   neal
how about 20 good years? that was awful. just awful. and i like both of them so very much

And Tracy was great, in my opinion.

I'll have an apple juice.
-We don't have apple juice.
Alright, vodka tonic.

2006-10-12 12:49:58
3.   MadMonk
Somehow LOST is good again after the long painful dragged out episodes of last season (except for the final month). I agree with the sentiment that the Sun-Jin's story is the most compelling and complex of all the back stories. Thus, I always look forward to theirs.

Second episode of the Nine is unfortunately not nearly as good as the first. While some part is compelling, others felt usual. However, the final ten minutes or so of revelations were surprising. I think I'll keep watching for now.

2006-10-12 13:05:04
4.   Voxter
I was particularly tickled by the end of "Lost", both because of the Red Sox (just cos it was a defining moment doesn't mean my life is pathetic, ass), and because Ben & I appear to share at least one name (if I heard correctl).
2006-10-12 14:37:47
5.   Benaiah
I thought the 9 was actually a lot better this week. They now have a clearly defined villain (the Police/Government) and an interesting one at that. The show's cast is terrible compared to Lost, at least in the early goings. However and I think that no matter how exciting the goings on in the bank were the premise of a show that constantly looks back at events rather than having new exciting things happen is innately flawed. How exciting could the events in the bank be? It is not like anything can happen in the bank that can retroactively kill one of the main characters. In some respects this flaw is alleviated by the concept of the government as the real enemy, but still I have my doubts about the show.
2006-10-12 14:41:07
6.   the OZ
I haven't seen 30 Rock, but I "get" Tina Fey's style of humor too well to think it's funny. If that makes any sense.

I agree that Tracy Morgan is over the top, but that's why I like him. He was my favorite on SNL because he could make me laugh just by being weird, without any setup or joke.

2006-10-12 16:01:05
7.   ssjames
Jon, excellent use of "verisimilitude." Very impressive stuff.

Also, I agree that Lost is more pain than pleasure, but I still want to know, so I keep coming back. At this point I have invested so deeply it would be very hard to turn back, and I think that the show knows that uses it sometimes to make you stick around even though the showed may be a little more filler than meat.

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