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While I missed blogging my immediate impressions of the season premiere of Lost due to a) three frickin’ hours of Lost in one night and b) being a lazy-ass, I’m going to try to keep up throughout the rest of this season.

After acquiring tonight’s episode and tearing through it… woah. While nothing was “answered” tonight, it really feels like endgame; most revelations tonight were much more along the lines of “a-ha!” instead of “wtf?!”

Off the island:

It seems to be a Lost tradition now, since the 2nd season, to do a Desmond episode early in the season. His kid is mad cute, and how sweet that he named him Charlie despite it being the same name as his hated father-in-law. The girl in the bed whom Faraday abandoned – her name escapes me – seems to be going through the same thing Desmond & Fisher Stevens went through last season, except it’s not making her brain explode, just catatonic. Lack of surprise that Widmore was Faraday’s financial backer in the 90s, as his inclusion with the barge crew showed some connection between them; also a lack of surprise that Faraday was erased by the Oxford institution after we saw how popular he was back in the old days. I was slightly confused that Desmond couldn’t remember when he met Faraday; surely the year or two he was in the military must have an associated date range in his mind.¬†Widmore/Des confrontation was unremarkable, other than showing that Widmore does have a soul and is clearly more concerned about Ben’s threat on his daughter’s life than whom she is sleeping with. But then, there was never much question about his affection for his daughter anyways, this just proved it doesn’t have to be a controlling one.

On the island:

The meat of the episode was the stuff on the island. A number of surprising revelations were made; it’s 1954 for the majority of the episode; Juliet and the Others apparently all speak Latin; Richard Alpert is, indeed, one ancient mofo and not just bouncing around in time; and Charles frickin’ Widmore is the loudmouthed punk who likes to snap his buddies’ necks and point guns at people. That Widmore was once an Other was a stunning revelation, one I didn’t see coming from a long way off. As a member of the Cult of Alpert, Ben’s simplistic portrayal of him as a greedy capitalist who wants to exploit the island is shattered. Maybe he still does want to do so, but it’s clearly much, much more complicated than that. And it was interesting that Richard said the American GIs were killed by the forest – presumably by the smoke monster – and that either this decision, or the forest/smoke monster is higher than him in the hierarchy. Jacob IS the smoke monster, maybe? Who frickin’ knows, I suspect the secrets of Jacob and the smoke monster will be revealed only very near the end.

Some answers were given. Why has Locke been someone the Others have long waited for? Because they first met him in 1954 (and I doubt it’s the only time they’ll encounter him in the past). Why did Richard give Locke his “which of these items belong to you” test as a kid? Because Locke told him to, 2 years before he was born. (Wasn’t one of the items Richard laid out during that test the compass, incidentally?) There weren’t really any new questions posed, either, at least any that weren’t answered within the episode itself, though we now know that there is very likely an unstable nuclear weapon (!?) buried somewhere on the island. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Jughead.

Speaking of Jughead, I expected that the mercurial Mrs. Eloise Hawking would turn out to be Faraday’s mother; while her L.A. location still fits, since we met a little blonde chick named Ellie on the island and Faraday hung out at Jughead’s with her quite a bit, it seems hard to believe he wouldn’t recognize his own mother, even at that young age. Still not off the table, though; Faraday may have even recognized her, but was playing the fool.

The questions that particularly came to my mind tonight: Why is Locke now the leader of the Others if he apparently failed Alpert’s childhood test by choosing the knife over the law book? When did Sawyer become so uptight? Why is Charlotte being affected adversely by the time jumps in a way none of the rest of them are? Why do these time jumps not affect the Others, especially if Locke is one of them? Where did all these redshirts come from to get skewered by flaming arrows and blown up by claymores, and are there any 815 survivors left we don’t know? Where’s Bernard and Rose? And, of course, since there was a jump… when are they now?

Lost is delivering this season just as I hoped it would, the breakneck pace, mind-twists are still there, but it really does feel like the beginning of the end, rather than an endless series of unanswered questions. Can’t wait until next week!

In honour of David Tennant’s imminent departure, I thought I’d chronicle the moments he’s most famous for amongst Whovians. Not the funny, quirky, manic Doctor that the girls all fall in love with; his truly shining moments are when his eyes go cold, his jaw tightens, and we see the 900-year old Time Lord who sports nicknames like “The Oncoming Storm” and “The Destroyer of Worlds”. No Doctor has done it better.

A warning to those unfamiliar with the Doctor and who plan to enter his world one day, which of course I endorse wholeheartedly; most of these are major spoilers for the episode involved, since naturally these moments tend to come at the end of episodes. I’ve avoided arc-spoilers, though.

5) The Christmas Invasion

The Setup: The first time we meet our new Doctor after his regeneration from the 9th, he spends most of the episode in a coma before sweeping in to save the day. Generally, he wows us with his charm and veryfastspeaking and cleverness. He spends time talking about how even he doesn’t yet know “what sort of man” he is, as a new regeneration. He engages in an unlikely sword battle with a creature twice his size, and against the odds – thanks to remaining regeneration energy – he defeats him and accepts his surrender at sword point.

The Christmas Invasion screencap

The Payoff: Chatting nonchalantly about the satsuma he’s found in his dressing-robe pocket, the great evil bugger he just defeated rears up and charges forward, going back on his oath and trying to stab the Doctor in the back. The Doctor, without glancing back, fires the satsuma at a wall switch which sends the Sycorax plunging to his doom. The Doctor flatly declares, “No second chances. I’m that sort of man.” Badass, and it set the tone for his entire run.

4) The Satan Pit

The Setup: The Doctor faces down a creature which may be Satan himself; the evil that is behind all the legends, whose existence, trapped on a planet in an impossible orbit around a black hole, causes the Doctor to doubt his own knowledge of the universe. He faces him down, figures out his trap, puts his utter faith in Rose to do what is required, and then the two of them blast the Beast into the black hole and merrily pull the trapped ship to safety with the TARDIS, saving those who remain.

The Satan Pit screencap

The Payoff: In an understated moment of bad-assness, after accomplishing all this, the remaining crew ask him over the radio: “Just who are you?” And with a roguish grin and a wink to Rose, he gives his perfect answer: “The stuff of legend.”

3) The Runaway Bride

The Setup: All of Earth is about to be overrun by the ancient children of a giant space-spider. Her egg sack, some 6 billion years earlier, was the nucleus around which the planet formed, and they’ve hatched. The Doctor has already been sparring with her verbally, but she dismisses him as a weak Martian (thanks to Donna’s insistence on calling him one derisively) physician who can do nothing to stop her. As we know, she couldn’t be more wrong.

The Runaway Bride screencap

The Payoff: The Doctor finally decides he must warn her and give her the choice, and simply and calmly exchanges this dialogue with her: “I can find you a planet, I can find you and your children a place in the universe to co-exist. Take that offer and end this now.” “I’m afraid I have to decline.” “Then what happens next is your own doing.” Some more back-and-forth, then he explains who he is: “My home planet is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on. Gallifrey. I warned you. You did this.” The moment she hears the name “Gallifrey” – the first time it was used on the new series – she begins wailing in despair, already knowing that she has lost. It’s pretty badass when just invoking your home planet’s name causes a 10-billion-year old giant spider to piss itself in fear. Of course, he once again commits genocide to cap it off, drowning them all by draining the entire Thames, which itself is pretty badass.

2) Family of Blood

The Setup: The Doctor has run away from a family who are determined to hunt him down and steal his immortality, allowing them to live forever. He uses a special Gallifreyan device to turn himself into a human and hide from them, as they have a short life span and he just wants to wait it out. Of course, it all goes pear-shaped, animated scarecrows run about killing, many people die, but by the end, the Doctor is restored and he confronts the Family, easily disabling their ship and weapons and leaving them defenceless.

Human Nature screencap

The Payoff: The final monologue, delivered by one of the Family, explains why the Doctor took off and went through so much trouble to run away from a group that don’t seem all that scary, considering what we’ve seen of Daleks and primal Satan-beasts.

He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing – the fury of the Time Lord. Then we discovered why, why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind.

He then proceeds to give them all what they wanted; immortality, trapped frozen in time for all eternity. Scarily badass.

1) Forest of the Dead

The Setup: The Doctor and his party are trapped in a planet-sized library with only one inhabitant; the Vashta Narada, a swarm of tiny creatures that looks like a shadow and may be lurking in any shadow. Like piranha of the air, these creatures of rudimentary swarm intelligence are just very hungry, very effective at de-fleshing their prey, and cannot be hurt, threatened, or reasoned with. At least until the Doctor shows up.

Forest of the Dead screencap

The Payoff: There are other threats in the episode which are more pressing; while trying to deal with them, they consume his remaining friend, and he is rather upset about it. He warns them that you do not want to cross him when he’s angry, if they don’t take off and give them a day to finish their business and get out, they will regret it. They couldn’t be the least bit impressed; he’s just flesh, they’re moving towards him, and there’s absolutely nothing he can do. Never showing a bit of fear, with jaw clenched, he intones the most bad-ass phrase he ever did: “My name is The Doctor. We’re in the universe’s biggest library. Look me up.” They do. They back down. Problem solved, and utterly, completely bad-ass.

So there we have it; my picks for the most bad-ass Tenth Doctor moments. Disagree? Any I missed? Feel free to leave me a comment!

Lost official logoTonight debuts the penultimate season of the best show on network television, Lost. Its writers have promised many times throughout the show’s history that its myriad mysteries will be explained through entirely scientific explanations; after the events of last season, many have questioned whether this will remain so. Here are the reasons I have faith that their promises will be kept; it should go without saying that spoilers abound, but I said it anyways.

5) The smoke monster is clearly mechanical in nature. The most perplexing inhabitant of the island, the “smoke monster”, has been clearly telegraphed since the beginning as mechanical in nature. Behind its hoots and groans, there are clear sounds that indicate its mechanical nature, especially the sounds of cranking machinery and chains whenever it snatches someone. The one time we saw from the smoke monster’s point of view, it couldn’t have more clearly looked like it was searching a database of information on Mr. Eko when deciding what to do with him. If the most frightening and supernatural creature the show contains is mechanical in nature, it stands to reason that the many other things we’ve seen will also have plausible, non-supernatural explanations.

4) The ghosts are a red herring. New resident on the island, Miles, clearly has received information several times that there is nothing but a supernatural explanation for, Christian Shepard is a recurring character despite dying before the show started, Charlie is still talking to the off-island Hurley. It’s the only thing in the whole show that, with some research, can’t be put into the scientific realm. Which just makes it stand out as a red herring, something that the writers are using to make us doubt our assumptions.

3) The portrayal of time travel on the show. One character, Desmond, has (most likely) travelled in time on two occasions. The fact that his time travel, especially the second event, when he is in danger of becoming “unstuck” in time, is clearly modeled on Slaughterhouse Five, shows the writer’s strong sci-fi influences, and plausibly explained time travel is likely going to play a key part in the conclusion, putting it naturally into the sci-fi genre.

2) Hard sci-fi still leaves room for spirituality and philosophy. Obvious, but based on the conversations I’ve read and had, it needs to be said. Biblical names are rampant throughout the show, especially amongst The Others; philosopher’s names even more so, most especially Desmond Hume and John Locke. Philosophical sci-fi novels like Valis are commonly seen on the show. Just because these themes are present, doesn’t remove the show from the sci-fi genre any more than Battlestar Galactica‘s much more prominent religious side makes it fantasy instead of science fiction. This may be part of the explanation behind #4, but I’m still holding out that the “ghosts” of the island will be explained more rationally.

1) The invocation of the Cassimir effect and exotic matter. Many people abandoned the idea of scientific rationality when the entire island disappeared at the climax of last season. But invoking the Cassimir effect – which proves the existence of negative-mass molecules, aka exotic matter – and mentioning exotic matter itself has provided the biggest clue to the island’s nature and how it could move. (If you can’t remember this on the show, it was in the videotape Locke watched in the bunker just before Ben moved the island).

I’m no physicist, but as I understand it, some have proposed that if you had enough exotic matter, the negative mass could produce a bubble of space-time. If you use the common analogy of picturing space-time like a rubber sheet to demonstrate the effect of mass and gravity, this would be something so massive it would be like a full water balloon hanging down from the sheet, with a small neck at the top. If you were walking along the rubber sheet, you’d find a relatively small hole, and when passing through, would encounter a very large space inside.

This may sound familiar to Dr. Who fans – we’re talking about something that’s bigger on the inside. It’s a TARDIS. The space-time distortion this would produce explains why time on the island passes at a different rate than on the rest of the Earth, and the small entrance why the island is so hard to find, and why it can only be reached or left by following a very specific compass heading, as Desmond discovered when he sailed away from the island and reached it again a week later. So they haven’t really moved the island; they just moved the entrance to a different part of the rubber sheet.

So, there we have it – the main 5 reasons why I still have confidence that Lindeloff and Cuse will be able to face a panel at next year’s ComicCon with full confidence that their promises were not broken.

Lyric sites on the internet are killing me. They all suck. They all have what are clearly half-assed lyric interpretations that one jackass has typed in. And logic, apparently, has little to do with it.

Case in point: Joe Strummer and the Mescalero’s “Rockin’ World”. Not super-mainstream, fine, but none of the lyrics people post make since. For instance, we have these two gems:

“On the sidewalk’s earth
A boy is tryin’ to show a girl what he is worth
Poke on the cashflow, but he’s still gonna
Go right up and ask her.”

and

“On the sidewalk’s earth
A boy is tryin’ to show a girl what he is worth
Poke on the plaster, but he’s still gonna
Go right up and ask her.”

Okay, neither one of these lyrics make any sense whatsoever. Careful listening gives me this interpretation, which actually makes sense:

“Oh, a sidewalk surf,
A boy is trying to show a girl what he is worth.
Both arms in plaster, but he’s still gonna
Go right up and ask her.”

Did I mention that this verse is accompanied by skateboard sounds? Yeah, that actually makes sense.

The White Stripes’ “Effect and Cause” is plagued by bad lyric interpretations, shockingly because he sings clearly and is easy to understand. We get,

“And if there’s one of these
On the order for laws,
It’s that you just can’t take the effect and make it the cause.”

Or even worse,

“And if there’s one of these
On her auto applause,
It’s that you just can’t take…”

WTF is auto applause? It’s very clearly

“And if there’s one of these
Unavoidable laws,
It’s that you just can’t…”

or “When you people robbin’ Peter don’t you blame Paul” instead of “Blame me for robbing Peter, don’t you blame Paul.”

Another from the brutally mis-heard “Rockin’ World”:

“Well we go, back to base
Can’t make no error in tale of this place
But home we’re returnin’ back to base, ase

Can only notify when, love comes to phase
Doesn’t sell the bite when the – in the initial phase
Let’s all go to fight in the – DNA stage”

This is a mess of words that makes no sense at all. But try this one that I’ve pieced together, though I still think it isn’t quite right and would never post it to a site as the correct lyrics:

“Well crawl back to base,
Can’t make no head or tail of this place.
But at home we’re returning back to basics.

Can we be notified when love comes of age?
Does a cell divide in the, in the initial phase?
It’s all codified at the DNA stage.”

I’d not post it because I’m not 100% sure it’s not “base, ace”, and I’m pretty sure it’s “codified”, but it could be “coded by”. But regardless, these changes still make sense. The first set of lyrics I just posted is just pure crazytalk.

Back in the early days of Telnet, there were some killer lyrics servers. People were super-anal about them, really wanted to make sure that the lyrics were correct. I recall endless debates over the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” until they released the Shine On box set which printed them, finally confirming the several differing interpretations that were popular. There was some responsibility. Now people post the “official” lyrics which are often half-wrong, totally illogical, and mostly seem interested in linking you to a ringtone based on that song. Frickin’ shame.

10. Transformers 2 – the first film, flaws and quibbles aside, dazzled me with effects while making me feel like I was 10 years old again. Really hoping they can pull that off a second time.

9. Doctor Who holiday specials – well, anytime there’s new Doctor Who, it’s to be anticipated; this year’s Easter and Christmas specials will be all the more special as the number of David Tennant episodes left to look forward to dwindles to only a few.

8. God of War III – The first seventh-generation installment of David Jaffe’s superb God of War series is one of only a few major franchise installments to look forward to this year, and will probably be the first thing since Metal Gear Solid 4 to get me to turn on my PS3 for an extended period of time.

7. Tron 2 – details about the sequel to everyone’s favourite proto-cyberspace movie are scant yet, and it may not make it out until 2010, but what the hell. The first film is at least 20% responsible for turning me into a video game geek beyond redemption at a young age. Now, about Wargames 2…

6. Inglourious Basterds – okay, not exactly keeping with NAPA’s usual theme of the SF/gaming world, but I’m still more excited about this movie than anything else in the past few years. Tarantino doing a WWII film inspired by and homage to movies like The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, Guns of Navarone, and Where Eagles Dare? Yes please!

5. Resident Evil 5 – the return of Chris Redfield and the sequel to one of the arguably best 5 video games ever made. Sure to draw controversy, but if it can even come close to RE4, it’ll probably be my favourite game of the year.

4. Torchwood season 3 – while my excitement is tempered somewhat by the announcement that budgetary concerns have turned this season of TW into a 5-episode mini-series, plus the rumour that Freema Agyeman will be passing on reprising her role as Martha in order to star in Law & Order: London, the return of Captain Jack and Gwen is enough to keep me excited.

3. PAX – arguably the best video game convention of the year since the demise of E3 – and unquestionably the greatest for less mainstream and indie games – plus the greatest comic/geek-out convention this side of ComicCon, run by my favourite geeks on the planet, and only a 3 hour drive from my home.

2. Dollhouse – Joss Whedon returns to the tube, bringing along former Slayer Eliza Dushku and a reasonably interesting Alias-inspired premise. The premise doesn’t matter much with Whedon; what there is to look forward to is the first taste of his sharp wit, robust dialogue and sly social commentary since the sad demise of Firefly. Sadly, the Firefly time slot (Friday nights) and network (FOX) haven’t changed, which may mean that this is another half-season wonder doomed by some FOX suit who has a gripe. Confidence is not high, but hope is.

1. The penultimate season of Lost – over the last several years, Lost has defied prediction and shown that its masterminds, Lindoff and Cuse, cooked this show up with a real long-term arc in mind. It lost a big chunk of viewers with the start of Season 2 when it made its transition from mainstream Survivor-like drama to unabashed sci-fi head-scratcher; it pissed a lot of those fans who remained off when it became the all-Jack/Kate/Sawyer love-triangle show in season 3. Then came a parachutist to the island, Ben started talking, and it provided us with over 20 episodes straight of some of the best drama on television. With 34 episodes to go, this 17-episode season is the crucial one, where we find out if they’re just blowing smoke, or whether they’re setting us up for one of the greatest denouements in network TV history. No matter where the ride ends up, I’m really looking forward to climbing on.

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