Saturday, December 23, 2006


I ran into this show a while back on BBC America when I was at home, hopped up on Vicodin (I had kidney stones). I thought what I saw was pretty cool, so I tracked it down so I could find out if it really was cool, or if it was just the Vicodin talking.

Unfortunately, it seems it was mostly the Vicodin. I remember when this show first came out on Sky One in the UK, back in 2004, people compared it favorably to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some people even said it was better than Buffy, which I pretty much ignored because that's just crazy talk. Of course there are similarities--blonde girl with lesbian best friend discovers legacy of superpowers, is seduced by demon lover, etc. etc. But the writing and the characterizations just don't compare. There are pretty actors and actresses, and the germ of what should be an intriguing story, but it seems to be to be all over the place. The pilot episode was, for me, dead boring--if I'd started with that one instead of the eisodes I caught on BBCA, I would have given up halfway through the first hour. I found it extremely slow, and what was probably supposed to be edgy, witty banter just struck me as an overabundance of sex jokes. Cassie is an unappealing character--she's a bitch to pretty much everybody, including the long-suffering Thelma (the only character in the show I actually like, though Ella has shown some promise)--and I could see no earthly reason for her hooking back up with Azazeal after his abduction of their demon child. She was possessed when the kid was conceived, then all of a sudden she's claiming she loves the guy, and she's jumping back into bed with him... it just didn't make any sense. And Azazeal, the demon lover trying to conquer the world with his hordes of Nephilim, is kind of a blah character, as well. He's good-looking, certainly, but his evilness seems kind of petty and watered down compared to, say, the Angelus of BtVS Season Two. (I think Azazeal needs "Sending the World to Hell" lessons. Lesson One: Be Scary. Lesson Two: Wear Leather Pants.) Then there's the big plot twist early in Series Two, completely eliminating the person we thought was supposed to be our Plucky Heroine, and a couple of episodes later I'm still wondering where the hell (no pun intended) they're going with this. The characters seem to develop different personalities in every episode, depending on what plot twist they need to serve, and the plot itself doesn't seem to know where it's going.

In any case, I have about nine episodes to go, and I don't know if I'm going to be able to stick it out to the end. If I do, and the show redeems itself, I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


According to this article from BBC News, the BBC is planning to make shows available for download/online viewing outside the UK through a partnership with Azureus, a popular file sharing program that uses BitTorrent technology. Hopefully this means US viewers will get to see shows like Torchwood and Dr. Who shortly after their airing in the UK, rather than having to wait a year to see a hacked-up and censored version on BBC America or the Sci Fi Channel. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing but good here.

More and more movies and TV shows are being made available legally online, via iTunes, MySpace, and various individual network sites, and production companies have made distribution deals now with BitTorrent, Kazaa, and now Azureus. While I will always prefer downloadable files to streaming video, the move toward dispensing content over the Internet is a good move, and I'm glad to see these industries moving in that direction. The music industry could learn something. What's the best way to manage rampant electronic distribution of product? Brutally smash those people doing it, driving them farther underground, while adding protection to your product that can crash people's computers and basically piss off everyone? Or find out what people are doing and figure out how to make money off it by providing a good quality product, easily accessed, for a reasonable amount of money so people will buy rather than download? The answer to that one seems to me to be a no-brainer.

The next step is for production companies to jump onto Internet-only productions targeted to niche audiences. How many people would pay a monthly subscription fee for a show like Firefly or Wonderfalls? Quite probably enough to finance it. Somebody needs to jump right on that bandwagon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Lost Room--The Eye and the Prime Object

The Lost Room winds its way to a conclusion--sort of--showing us a bit more about the Objects, the underground cabals, and just what these people are willing to do to get their hands on these odd mystical items. But in the end, the origin of the Objects is left unexplained, as are several other plot points. I blame Sci Fi for not treating this as a miniseries per se, but as a possible kickstart to a weekly series. The trouble with that is that if the show doesn't get picked up, we're left with a story that has far too many loose ends. I have no idea what the ratings looked like, or if SciFi has any intention of continuing the story. It would have been nice for this to have been self-contained, though, rather than working so hard to build up a lot of intriguing questions, then leaving them unanswered just in case.

Miller and Kreutzfeld gather more information and a collection of objects--the clock, the scissors and the key--which together will open the vault where the Collectors hid several of the Objects forty years ago. The scissors, which cause things to rotate, seem fairly innocuous at first, until Miller gets his ass rotated out a window.

Miller and Kreutzfeld finally track down the vault, using Barbara Stritsky's Polaroids, then use the Objects to make their way inside it. It's here that Entertainment Weekly's comparison of the show to Riven started to really kick in for me. They have to figure out how to use each individual Object to make their way into the vault. I'm terrible at those games. This is about where I would have started Googling walkthroughs.

In the meantime, Jennifer determines Kreutzfeld is trying to duplicate the Conroy experiment, and thus is up to no good. This is, in fact, true. He abandons Miller in the vault. Fortunately Miller has the bus ticket and uses it to escape. Kreutzfeld is, indeed, trying to save his son, but the boy doesn't have leukemia--he's been dead for nine years. The only way to bring him back is by changing reality with the Objects.

While Kreutzfeld prepares his experiment, with the addition of the glass eye, Miller reunites with Wally (the earlier owner of the bus ticket) to track down the Occupant of Room Ten, assuming he's the Prime Object. A beef here--it didn't appear that the glass eye was used in the earlier experiment, so how and why did Kreutzfeld decide to use it here? Also, its powers weren't sufficiently explained. It can heal all damage to the user, but at the same time causes people to disintegrate. And the scene where Kreutzfeld prepares to implant it? Ewww.

In a strange subplot that doesn't seem to tie in elsewhere, Martin is dumped in the desert with the Gallup Polaroid. In it he sees a "vision" of the Occupant (possibly just a hallucination, because the Occupant looks just like Martin). When he is finally rescued, he tells Bridgewater and Margaret that he's now the Prophet of the Objects. It's not clear if something has really happened to him, or if he's just gone off his nut.

Miller finally tracks down the Occupant by finding a spot in the US where none of the Objects have ever been. Somehow the Occupant was ripped out of reality when the Objects came to be, and he himself was also turned into an Object. He tells Miller he can help retrieve Anna, and they head for the Sunshine Motel (actually referred to in this episode as Motel Sunshine), where Kreutzfeld's experiment is already underway. As the time rift comes into existence, the Occupant and Miller walk into the room. The Occupant tells Miller the only way to get Anna back is for Miller to kill him and become an Object himself. Miller is reluctant, but does so, and is reunited with Anna.

Overall, I found this miniseries interesting, though if I hadn't been blogging it I probably would have given up after the first installment. And the conclusion didn't really conclude, which I found disappointing. I understand why they did it that way, but I wish they'd chosen to go a different direction with this particular story. There was enough there to manage a satisfying ending and still leave elements available to spin into a weekly series, without leaving all the loose ends they did.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Lost Room--The Comb and the Box

Somewhere about the thirty or forty-five minute mark of Part Two, The Lost Room finally got interesting.

Framed for the murder of his partner by Martin (Dennis Christoper, Angel), his supposed ally, Miller continues to search for the Objects in order to rescue his daughter. His search leads him to the Sunshine Motel, in Gallup, Texas, where there is no Room 10 (you have to use the Key to get there), and Room 9 is home to mysterious goings on that have literally driven people insane. While Miller forges an uneasy alliance with Kreutzfeld (Kevin Pollak), who's trying to collect the Objects to cure his son's leukemia, Martin makes an even uneasier alliance with the Order, who want to collect the Objects in order to communicate with God.

Miller also hooks back up with Jennifer (Julianna Margulies), who wants to destroy the Objects because they and Room 9 drove her brother insane. But it's Room 9 that brings them the first information about Anna, when they use Objects in tandem to bring back a woman trapped in the room since 1966 as a result of her experimentation. She tells Miller she's seen Anna.

The introduction of a few more characters, most notably the leader of the Order, played by Harriet Sansome Harris (another familiar face--she was Frasier's nutty agent Bebe, and played Dr. Sally Kendrick, aka Eve, back in Season One of The X-Files). The Order seems willing to stop at nothing to acquire the Objects, and have built a religion around them. In addition, there's an Object tracker, Suzie Kang (Margaret Cho), who won't have anything to do with them, but seems to be making a nice income off of telling people where they can be found. We also learn about a few more Objects--a comb that stops time, the watch box, which dampens entropy, and a Polaroid photo which, when taken to the right spot at the Sunshine Motel, shows Room 10 exactly as it was in 1961, just before the objects changed to the Objects. It also shows a man in the room. Miller thinks the man himself is actually the Prime Object, and thus a new quest is begun.

This episode gave a stronger sense of the conspiratorial nature of the Objects and those wanting to collect them, making these groups feel more intrinsic to the plot rather than just the obligatory shadowy cabals. The Objects themselves start to make more sense, as well, as their seemingly random powers start to form pieces of a larger picture. Though the beginning had some painfully trite moments (Martin and Helen sitting at opposite ends of a really, really long table, for example--and please, who has a table like that in real life?), the story finally began to take off. I still see no earthly reason for the sheer weirdness of Harold Strizke (aka the Guy With the Comb), though. Unless they provide a really good explanation for his behavior later, that was just over the top. The only thing I can think of right off is that somehow the comb made him odd, but the Objects don't seem to have that kind of effect on other people.

In any case, I hope Part Three lives up to the promise of the last three quarters or so of Part Two. Back to the DVR...

Tim Minear+Nathan Fillion=Drive

It appears to be official, since it's been reported by Hollywood Reporter. Tim Minear's on again/off again pilot, Drive, about an underground cross-country car race, is definitely on, and none other than Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is now attached.

Is this a match made in heaven, or what?

Back when Drive was still off again, Tim Minear showed the first six minutes of it during his "Breaking the Story" presentation at the Creative Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles, which I attended. Directed by Greg Yaitanes (Bones), who is still attached to the project, what I saw of the pilot was an intense, frenetic, yet very watchable piece of TV. As the camera seemed to swoop and glide from car to car, several characters were introduced at whirlwind pace, with bits and pieces of the backstory woven in with the introductions. The presence of an orange phone in each car, used to communicate with the people running the race, tied all the story elements together. It felt like a roller coaster ride, and I found it very enjoyable.

I was happy when I first heard Drive had gotten the go-ahead after all--I'm even more pleased now that Fillion is involved. This is definitely going to be a show to watch.