Monday, June 16, 2008

Check Out "Tales From Japan"

A friend of mine residing in Japan with his family has a new website called "Tales From Japan". It's a pretty interesting take on living the American Dream ... in Japan. You get interesting insight on how it's like living in the land of the rising sun (food - delicious, commuting - crowded but manageable, day-to-day activities, like shopping or going to the bank or ... you know, buying a home - archaic, frazzled, yet satisfyingly fulfilling enough to make you want to start drinking) as well as good travel tips on where to go and what to see. All in all, a good read.

Make sure to click on one of the advertisements on his website so that he can finance his daughter's college fund.

Lost - Season 4 Finale Review

Warning … Spoilers Ahead.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Season 4 Finale was a very well written, well produced and well executed episode that deftly tied all of the loose threads from previous seasons together into a single knot of concentrated LOST goodness. And boy, was a tight knot. I mean, you had, in no particular order, the following storylines to address:

  • Dealing with those psycho Freighter commandos
  • The Orchid Station
  • The Oceanic 6’s return to civilization
  • Desmond and Penny’s reunion
  • All of the stuff with Michael, including a cameo by Walt
  • Jin’s fate on the freighter (but do we really know what happened?)
  • Lapidus, Faraday, Miles and that annoying chick with the accent.
  • Juliet and Sawyer, Rose and Bernard
  • Ben’s ultimate sacrifice
  • Moving the Island (no surprise, that was done)
  • And lastly, who’s in the coffin and why is HE in the coffin?
But alas, this being LOST and the season finale being a typical episode of LOST, there were certainly more head-scratching questions than answers. Sure, a lot of stuff was answered but most of it was telegraphed from previous episodes (we know that the Oceanic 6 get off the island, just didn’t did know how; we knew that the island was going to be moved, just didn’t know how; we knew the Jack (in the future) wanted to go back, just didn’t know how). So what are the questions?
  • How are the Oceanic 6 plus the late Jeremy Bentham going to get back?
  • What did happen on the island while the Oceanic 6 went away?
  • What is the real fate of Michael and Jin?
  • What did happen to the island?
So, the real problem I had with the episode, while good, was that it served as a bridge between Season 4 and Season 5. It didn’t have the Season 3 game-changer, that took me by surprise and really changed the way I think about storytelling. Have you seen “The Sixth Sense”? Do you recall the “a-ha!” moment at the end of the movie? There was an enlightening moment, once you realized what the twist was. The same thing could be said about the Season 3 finale. The Season 4 finale? It did its job of setting things up for Season 5 but that’s about it. No twist. No “a-ha” moment. No paradigm shift on my expectations of good television. In fact, if you're a fan of another good serialized TV show "24", it's almost like how I felt about Season 6 of “24”: been there, done that. It was a good season but nothing really new.

As critical as I am about the season finale, I still liked it. I had to watch it a second time to really appreciate what the writers and producers are trying to achieve. I’m hoping by setting this up for us now, it will pay TV gold dividends with the remaining last two seasons. That is what I’m hoping for. We didn’t get the big twist ending this time around, but this being LOST, I’m sure that there will still be a lot of good things to look forward to in the coming seasons.