Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost 5.14: Eloise, Daniel, and Obsession Trumping Paradox

Another top-notch, wrenching, conceptually breathtaking time travel story on Lost tonight - 5.14 - which skirts around paradox, but is thoroughly explicable on the basis of obsessed human nature.

Daniel has returned to the island in 1977 - that is, the Daniel we know, who lost his love Charlotte, and understands better than most the possibilities and limitations of time travel. Nonetheless, he has a daring plan - do something that will prevent "the incident" that made the "Hatch" a necessity, which in turn will allow Flight 815 not to fall out of the sky, and instead make it safely to L.A.

Kate and Jack agree to help him - a good thing, too, because Hurley or Miles might have known enough to stop Daniel, if they had had any time to think about it. If Daniel had succeeded in changing the past, that would mean that Kate and Jack and all Losties would never have been on the island in the first place. So Kate and Jack are supporting Daniel in his plan without realizing the consequences.

But of course Daniel's plan can't succeed - because, if it did, then we would suddenly be shifted to a completely different story, off the island, in which Kate would probably be in prison and Jack would be practicing medicine in Los Angles. So the only real question is, what would stop Daniel?

The solution is heartbreaking but elegant. Daniel needs the help of his mother, Eloise, young and on the island with the hostiles in 1977. Eloise, as we know, is Ms. Hawking (and it turns out, as many viewers also have guessed, Charles Widmore is his father). Daniel waves a gun to Richard, who tells him Eloise isn't there, but a shot rings out and Daniel is killed - a shot fired by Eloise.

With his last breath, Daniel asks Eloise how she could have sent him, her son, back to the island, knowing that she as her younger self would kill him in 1977? The younger Eloise of course has no answer, because she could at that point in her life have had no knowledge of what the adult Daniel looked and sounded like.

But from that moment on, she will carry the memory of having killed a man who said he was her son. And she soon enough will realize that that wild man on island was indeed her son. So, why, as Daniel asked, did she get him to go back?

The only answer is that making or keeping things in the island the way she thought those things should be was more important to her than her son's life. Cold, cold, indeed.

By the way, there's nothing paradoxical in this result - as there would have been if, say, Daniel had been the one who killed his mother, before she conceived him. That event would have thrown Lost right into the teeth of the perennial grandfather/grandmother paradox, which can just as effectively occur if the time traveler does something to prevent his mother from being his mother.

But the coming attractions, if I saw them correctly, seem to be showing Jack now trying to do what Daniel Faraday was trying to do - stop the events which led to 815 crashing - and that would lead to paradox about as profound as it gets...

Two other points -

1. Daniel may not be dead, which would make Eloise not as cold as I said above. After all, young Ben survived his wound in healing Hostile hands...

2. I would've have liked to have seen a little more about what Daniel did and learned in Ann Arbor...

==============

PS ... did you see the little flashes in the commercials, with the tag "What did you see?" Keep staying tuned - those are little previews of my friend Rob Sawyer's "Flash Forward," which will likely be following Lost on ABC next season...











10-min podcast review of Lost 5.14

More Lost - see : The Richard-Locke Compass Time Travel Loop ...

and Lost Returns in 5 Dimensions and 5.3: The Loops, The Bomb ... 5.4: A Saving Skip Back in Time ... 5.5 Two Time Loops and Mind Benders ... 5.6 A Lot of Questions ... 5.7 Bentham and Ben ... 5.8 True Love Ways ... 5.9 Two Times and a Baby ... 5.10 The Impossible Cannot Happen ... 5.11 Clockwork Perfect Time Travel ... 5.12: Ben v. Charles, and Locke' Slave ... 5.13: Lost Meets Star Wars and the Sixth Sense ... The Problem with Baby Aaron and the Return of the Oceanic Six






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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Heroes and Villains Across Series in Fringe

A literally hot lethal woman on Fringe tonight, who's infected with something that turns her into a vampire-like predator who picks up men to drink ... not their blood, but their spinal fluid. Not Twilight meets Spinal Tap, but the odds twists on horror and science fiction that is Fringe.

The deeper story, as always, is what is most of interest. Our predator became that way because ZFT - the teleporting and whatnot-producing terrorist organization - punished the woman's husband for not cooperating with them, and turned her into this nerve-wracking stalker.

We've seen ZFT before in this series, and next week we'll find out more about the secret revealed at the end of tonight's episode: William Bell, head of Massive Dynamics, is also a player in ZFT.

And that's not all we'll find out next week, or soon after. Leonard Nimoy, who will be making some sort of appearance in Star Trek (produced, as is Fringe, by J. J. Abrams), will be William Bell. So Zachary Quinto, who plays mostly bad guy Sylar on Heroes, will be playing the main, younger Spock on Star Trek, and Leonard Nimoy, who plays the bad in some way William Bell on Fringe, will reprise his classic Spock in the same new Star Trek. Nice mix of heroes and villains across series.

Meanwhile, back on Fringe, it looks as if the eternal bald observer will be teleporting into Walter's lab next week to collect him to go somewhere. But, don't forget, he has a cow...

See also Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Bad Business from the Supreme Court on the FCC and the First Amendnment

Another grim, outrageous, but not really surprising ruling on the First Amendment from the US Supreme Court today, which held 5-4 that fleeting or single-word expletives on broadcast television and radio shows could be fined millions of dollars.

A lower U.S. Appeals Court in New York had found the FCC fines "arbitrary and capricious," by Justice Scalia, writing for the Supreme Court majority, reasoned that "the F-word's power to insult and offend derives from its sexual meaning."

So? Whatever the psychological wellsprings of its semantic power, what counts is whether any Federal agency has the right to fine any broadcaster or anyone, any amount of money, for saying the word "fuck" one or a dozen times, sotto voce or with trumpets blaring, given that the First Amendment to our Constitution says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech". The linguist Scalia and his four similarly minded colleagues on the bench not only are showing utter contempt for the First Amendment, but are violating their own sacred conservative principle of not "legislating from the bench" with this dangerous ruling.

But it was not unexpected, and indeed has roots in unfortunate Supreme Court rulings throughout the 20th century, including the George Carlin "seven dirty words" case in the late 1970s, in which the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's censure of WBAI Radio for broadcasting Carlin's hilarious routine. Ironically, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion for that benighted ruling. Today, Stevens was in the minority, objecting that the fines for sexual and excretory expressions in broadcasts make no sense given that television is filled with ads about "battling erectile dysfunction" and helping people who "are having trouble going to the bathroom."

Like Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who soon came to regret the use of his "clear and present" danger restriction on the First Amendment to further suppress speech and press, Stevens may now see the error in his support of the FCC attack on WBAI Radio in the 1970s.

But the danger to our freedoms won't go away, whatever the majority and minority views on any Supreme Court, until some Supreme Court rules the FCC itself in obvious violation of the First Amendment. A government agency that keeps track of broadcasting bandwidths to make sure they don't interfere with one another, technically, by being too close on the radio wave spectrum is fine, though decreasingly needed given the unlimited bandwidth of Internet radio. But a government agency that seeks to dictate to us whether we can hear the words "fuck" and "shit" - you'll forgive me if I don't use the ridiculous "F-word" and "S-word" appellations, since everyone knows just what they mean, anyway - but a government agency that seeks to restrict and punish expression of any of that is a gross violation of our Constitution.

Until we as a society recognize and act upon that very obvious and crucial fact, we can expect more bad business and conduct from the FCC and the U.S. Supreme Court.

My 2005 Keynote Address on "The Flouting of the First Amendment" follows, for some historical context ...



Transcript of The Flouting of the First Amendment

Heroes Season 3 Finale: Hopeful Deceptions

Heroes wrapped up Season 3 with a compelling, powerful episode, which tied up some loose ends and opened up some excellent possibilities, all about good but nonetheless dangerous deceptions.

To cut to the chase: Sylar kills Nathan, Peter (shape shifting as the President) knocks out Sylar (shape shifting as Nathan), Angela convinces Matt to implant in Sylar's mind that he really is Nathan. HRG sees and approves this.

So Season 3 ends with some hope, but on shifting sands. HRG and Angela will have to lie to Claire and Peter - a satisfying plot turn, since they were lied to for most of the first season. Matt will have to lie, too, if he's brought into this again.

And will Sylar's conversion to Nathan really hold? In the brief beginning we see of Season 4, Nathan is beginning to take an interest in the workings of clocks...

The other big question mark at the end of Season 3 is what will happen to Hiro and his powers? They're beginning to make his body sick. Mohinder tells Hiro he better not be stopping time any more .... But, of course, Hiro does, at least once, and you know he will be sorely tempted to do it again.

This was an interesting, transitional season for Heroes. It still has not regained the sheer sense of wonder of the first season, but it is pulling itself up, slowly, thoughtfully, not easily, to an older, more contemplative kind of show.

Zachary Quinto may not have as big a role as Sylar looking like Sylar next season. That might well be to the good, since I expect the new Star Trek movie to be an enormous success, which will make Quinto more evocative of Spock than Sylar. And Ali Larter will be back in some sort of role next season, which is all to the good, too.

I'll definitely be watching.

See also Heroes Gets Lost ... Heroes 3 Begins: Best Yet, Riddled with Time Travel and Paradox ... Sylar's Redemption and other Heroes and Villains Mergers ... Costa Nuclear ... Hearts of Gold and the Debased ... Seeing the Future Trumps Time Travel ... Superpowered Chess with Shifting Pieces ... Villains and Backstories ... The Redemption of Sylar ... Thoughts on the Eclipse, Part I ... The Lore of the Comic Book Store ... Hiro's Time Traveling Closure ... Augmented ... Shades of Recalibration ... Baby, Rebel, and Last Fantasy ... All that Shape Changes Remains the Same?




Monday, April 27, 2009

24 Season 7 Hour 20: SPECTRE on a Webinar

Well, Tony continues to look and behave like an unambiguously, at last revealed bad guy in tonight's Hour 20 of 24 Season 7. He kills two FBI guys in cold blood to make his escape, kisses the red-head who gave the poison pill to Hodges last week and convinces her to sell his plan to the league of bad guys to deploy the bio-weapon right away. Even Jack is sure Tony is bad.

But, call me loyal to a fault, I still am not. Neither is Chloe - called back to the FBI to work the CTU computers that the President has ordered back online at Jack's recommendation. At least, Chloe can't quite believe that Tony is bad.

And Jack is not in the greatest mental shape. In the best scene of the evening, Jack opens up verbally on Janis, who is less than thrilled to see CTU computers pulled out of storage. Jack rages at her to stop whining, and says - twice - that President David Palmer ordered the CTU computers back into the breach. Right order, wrong President.

I also admit that I was even glad to see Tony kiss Cara Bowden (played by Amy Price-Francis of Californication) - he's been hurting every since he lost Michelle (who is now on Lost - actress Reiko Aylesworth, that is). And the coming attractions promise a huge twist - so there's still room in that twist for Tony to redeem himself. What does he really want from the new, executive ring of bad guys who meet like SPECTRE in a webinar.

Meanwhile, the dislikable daughter of the President is taking matters into her own hands about Hodges, and involving Aaron, which should be interesting....

And the clock keeps ticking...

See also: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hours 11-12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18 ... Hour 19






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Chronology Protection Case - complete and uncut


Jay Kensinger's 2002 low-budget 38-minute movie of my 1995 science fiction-mystery novelette (published in Analog Magazine), "The Chronology Protection Case". This is the complete, original, uncut movie.

Get the 2013 re-cut version with extended ending here on iTunes

also: The Chronology Protection Case radio play (free audio)

more details about Dr. Phil D'Amato, hero of The Chronology Protection Case

The Consciousness Plague kindle

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Battletar Galactica Caprica: Exquisite, Flawed Copies

Battlestat Galactica Caprica - the prequel movie to the just-completed, superb second version of the series - was released on DVD yesterday. It's on "very long wait" on Netflix, none of the Blockbusters around here in Westchester County had it, so my wife called a local video store yesterday, and they said they would have it in today. Which they did. And, apropriately enough, the store is named "Captain Video"...

As to the movie ... my favorite part was the Adama family, with Bill Adama's father in a central role. He's a lawyer. One of the best sequences in BSG was when Lee did a stint as a trial attorney, and pored over his grandfather's law book. It was good to meet the grandfather, Joseph Adama (well played by Esai Morales, with just right gravelly voice and soft-spoken but tough Bill Adama demeanor). In Caprica we get to see the origin of the Adamas' hatred of artificially intelligent beings - Cylons, eventually - and the story makes sense.

It's about copies - to what extent humans can be copied, their intelligence and talent and interests and life experience codified - and then embodied in robots. Joe Adama's wife and daughter have been killed by a terrorist bomb on a fast-moving train, along with Zoe Graystone, a young computer genius, along the lines of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Byron, in our world history. Zoe has created an advanced avatar of herself, which survives her death. Her father Daniel (good to see Eric Stoltz in the role), pretty good with computer programming himself, figures out a way of getting Zoe's avatar intelligence into a shiny robot ... and we have some sort of precursor to at least part of the Cylons.

But before that happens, Daniel creates an avatar for Joe Adama's slain daughter, and talks Joe into going into virtual reality to talk to "her" (shades of Second Life). Joe finds his daughter's avatar unhappy, confused ... and this gets him to denounce any attempts to copy souls.

So we have the human (Adama) vs. Cylon (Zoe) conflict aborning. The other theme is religious. Polly Walker (who was just great in Rome) plays Sister Clarice Willow, who first talks about the gods (maybe the same line Polly used in Rome), but then reveals herself as a believer in the one, true God...

So the stage is pretty well set for the Caprica prequel series in 2010. Caprica is a thoughtful, literate, philosophically sharp movie. (About whether perfect copies of humans can be created - I guess I should mention Levinson's principle here - creating a perfect copy is, paradoxically, self-defeating, because if you created a perfect duplication, it would take away the uniqueness of the original, and therefore would be destroying that quality rather than copying it. See The Soft Edge, p. 52, for more.) It was also good to see all the futuristic, virtual gadgetry, which had been stripped from Battlestar Galactica (the ship) to protect it from Cylonic infiltration.

But I have one problem with the movie - if the humanoid Cylons existed for thousands of years prior to BSG, where were they in Caprica? It would have been nice to see them tied into the story in some way ... but I can wait for the series in 2010...


10-min podcast review of BSG: Caprica


More Battlestar Galactica - see: Battlestar Galactica, Final 1: Dee, Ellen, and Starbuck ... Final 2: Baby and Mutiny Make Three ... Final 3: Galactica Alamo! ... Final 4: Shout-Outs to Lampkin, Lee, Tyrol ... Final 5: (Almost) All Explained ... Final 6. The Necessity of Hyrbrid ... Final 7. 'Since I Died in Your Arms' ... Final 8. Father of a Million ... Final 9. 'Every Man and Woman Over the Age of 15' ... Finale: Not Goodbye But See You Around











The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Problem with Baby/Toddler Aaron and the Return of the Oceanic Six on Lost

I just saw tonight's Lost special on the Oceanic Six, which more or less explained or at least accounted for all points we might have missed or not understood about the Oceanic Six, and how they got back to the island ... except for one big (or little) thing:

Baby/Toddler Aaron.

Lost challenged us, early on in the story of the Oceanic Six, to figure out who they were. One by one, their identities and stories came into focus ... Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun ... and baby Aaron.

At the time, I thought making baby Aaron one of the Oceanic Six was pushing it, a bit. Baby Aaron was in utero - Claire was pregnant with him when Flight 815 crashed. Aaron was born on the island. Bringing him back as one of the Oceanic Six barely made it ... but ok.

But, seeing the special retrospective tonight brought home what I see as a far more serious flaw in the return of the Oceanic Six. Over and over again, the characters say that everyone who left the island has to go back. And yet, Aaron was not among those who returned.

Perhaps there will be some plausible explanation for this, in a future episode. (I also see Kate leaving Aaron behind in LA as needing more explanation, but this is less of a problem.)

But, as of now, Aaron not on the returning plane is the one part of this otherwise superb story that just doesn't add up for me.

There is one explanation - which I hope is not the case, because it comes from outside of the story. I can understand why the producers/writers of Lost would not want to have the characters bring an innocent toddler on a plane which was going to crash - a three-year old who of course was not capable of making a decision to go on the plane. If this was the case, I can well understand it, and in fact agree with it. But, then, Lost should have provided some plausible explanation for why Aaron did not have to be on the plane.









5-min podcast about Lost and the Problem of Baby Aaron


More Lost - see : The Richard-Locke Compass Time Travel Loop ...

and Lost Returns in 5 Dimensions and 5.3: The Loops, The Bomb ... 5.4: A Saving Skip Back in Time ... 5.5 Two Time Loops and Mind Benders ... 5.6 A Lot of Questions ... 5.7 Bentham and Ben ... 5.8 True Love Ways ... 5.9 Two Times and a Baby ... 5.10 The Impossible Cannot Happen ... 5.11 Clockwork Perfect Time Travel ... 5.12: Ben v. Charles, and Locke' Slave ... 5.13: Lost Meets Star Wars and the Sixth Sense






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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The Deeper Issue in Investigating Bush Administration Policy on Torture

I agree with Obama's decision to leave the door open for investigation, and prosecution, if warranted, of top Bush administration officials who sought to paint torture as legal. And it's not just because of torture as an issue. It's because our country needs, at long last, to confront an abuse of the law, at the highest levels, that goes much deeper.

The last war our country declared, as per our Constitution, was World War II. The wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq (twice), whatever their justification, were and are thus not legal by our Constitution. Neither, for that matter, is the Afghan war. Since the 1950s, our government has been operating in contradiction of the supreme law of the land when it comes to going to war.

Since the 1930s, and the creation of the FCC, our government has been operating in contravention of the First Amendment to our Constitution, and its insistence that Congress make "no law" abridging freedom of speech or press.

There are many other examples, in many other areas. The Supreme Court has ratified some of these actions (such as the FCC, incorrectly, in my view), but has not ruled on others.

In that climate, the Bush administration was only making its own contribution to nearly a century of lawlessness by our own government.

If an investigation of Bush administration policy on torture gets Americans to pay more attention to our government's bending and breaking of the law, that would be a result of the most lasting import, and one which all political philosophies should welcome.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fringe in New York, with Olivia Her Suspect

Fringe had a top notch, thoughtful, mind-tingling episode 1.17 in New York tonight - with Olivia as her own suspect.

The action starts in Grand Central Terminal, a favorite of mine in reality and in my fiction (GTC played a significant role in my 2004 novel, The Pixel Eye). The story is that Olivia is dreaming herself killing people. The science fiction explanation - a nice one - is that, actually, a reverse empath is killing the people (killing them by exporting his feelings to them rather than sensing what they are feeling), and Olivia is for some reason being pulled into this as an observer in her dreams.

Ultimately we find out that Olivia has been given a drug, and has been part of this experiment, since her childhood. And guess who's doing the experimentation - Walter, and a gravelly voiced associate who is no doubt William Bell.

There was some speculation throughout the season that Bell is really Walter - but unless Walter was talking to himself, and putting on a different voice on the tape we heard tonight, Bell is not Walter. Well ... ok, I wouldn't put it past Walter to be talking to himself. But, on the other hand, everyone and their grandparents are saying Leonard Nimoy will play Bell, and Nimoy and John Noble are certainly two different people.

So we should be in for some good revelations, as Fringe moves into the final episodes of what I hope are just the first of many seasons....

In the meantime, here's a nice clip on tv.com about tonight's episode of Fringe.

See also Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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Monday, April 20, 2009

24 Season 7 Hour 19: One Great Spinning Season

Well, once again, my intrepid powers of analysis and prediction have apparently been proven ... wrong.

Last week, I said I couldn't believe that Tony was bad. Truthfully, I still can't believe it this week, but in the Season 7 Hour 19 I just saw, Tony sure looks that way. Jack thinks so, too.

Jack's still veering between functioning and collapsing, and he collapses before he's able to further question or shoot Tony, and Kim's on the way to the airport to fly back home. I predict she'll change her mind (hey, I have to be right about this easy one), though I still like my idea that Jack developed an immunity to the pathogen if/when he was exposed to it in Sangala.

Larry seems definitely dead. Hodges should be - he took the heart attack pill - but he seems to be hanging on. Is that because he had the heart attack in the car rather than in his jail cell? But if so, the knock-out redhead with the blond wig - who gave Hodges the pill - didn't seem too upset that Hodges was being taken out of the cell.

We see her next week - in Tony's arms - which further seems to be telling us that Tony is bad. But I still have my problems with that. One problem - as Dawn commented on this Infinite Regress blog about Hour 18 last week - is how the bad Tony was able to fool Buchanan and Chloe? Jack's reasoning may also have been a little off when he confronted Tony tonight - after all, he's in the throes of the germ. And why did Tony help bring down the Dumbaku attack, the Juma assault on the White House, and the Hodges attack as well? All in the service of some even worse bad guy or force? I suppose so, but doesn't quite add up.

But Tony's doing evil after evil. He killed Larry (assuming Larry really is dead). He could have easily killed Renee when he lured her and the FBI team into the building wired to explode.

If I had to bet, I still think Tony will turn out good. But the odds look long against me....

And that's why I'm really enjoying this great season! And, yeah, it was good to hear that Kim's little daughter is named Teri.







5-min podcast review of 24.7.19





See also: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hours 11-12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


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Sneak Preview Review of Nurse Jackie!

I caught the first episode of Nurse Jackie a few months ago. It's to debut on Showtime on June 8 at 10:30 PM (ET/PT) - right after the season premier of Weeds - and I've been dying to tell you about it, but had to respect the "embargo" (I do enjoy tossing around terms like that - makes me feel like a real inside reviewer), but I can tell you about it, at last, right now, so here goes -

First, the half-hour episodes star Edie Falco, just great of late as Carmela on The Sopranos, and in fact in every TV show or movie in which she appears, and she's feisty, sharp, tough, vulnerable as Nurse Jackie.

There haven't been too many nurse shows on television - the last ones were The Nurses, The Doctors and The Nurses, and The Nurses, three versions of the same show, the first two prime time, the last a daytime soap, back in the 1960s. There have been plenty of excellent, provocative, even powerful nurses on doctor shows ranging from St. Elsewhere to Chicago Hope and ER, but they have usually been in supporting roles - Nurses Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) and Lockhart (Maura Tierney) on ER were exceptions. So, with that as backdrop, it's especially refreshing to see a show that centers completely around a nurse.

The elements of the story are mostly familiar. Jackie stands up to arrogant doctors, is smarter than some of them, and is willing to break the rules to save a life. She's on pain killers (ala House), and of course is sleeping with at least one doctor. She likes sex.

There's a jolting surprise at the end of the first episode - along the lines of our finding Furillo in bed with Joyce at the end of the pilot of Hill Street Blues - but I'm not going to tell you what it is, and it's not specifically like that Hill Street Blues scene, it's reminiscent of the shock value....

You'll have to see the premier of Nurse Jackie to see what I mean - you won't be disappointed.

See also Nurse Jackie at 6

In Treatment 3.1-2: Sleep and Ethics

Two brilliant episodes of In Treatment (third week, Mia and April) tonight (I have a feeling I'm going to be saying that a lot on Sunday nights)...

1. Mia's was one of the best sessions in the one+ years of the series so far, featuring memorably expressive acting by Hope Davis - all with her face - and almost more about Paul's relationship with Laura, last year, than we learned last year.

Mia provides a classic rendition of a woman who desperately wants to be loved, but is so sure that she won't, she pushes all potential lovers away. This includes Paul, whom Mia goads to anger in a variety of ways, and in fact succeeds, though Paul is about to contain it. Paul is a very special case in Mia's life, since she loved him 20 years ago as his patient. She suspects/hopes that he may have loved her. And, indeed, Paul has kept a recording of her piano playing, all of these years.

Mia's obsessed with Laura - having come upon her deposition in the Alex case - because she can't abide that Laura may have succeeded in seducing Paul, whereas Mia did not.

But what lifts all of this beyond tawdry soap opera is Mia's telling Paul that she wants to sleep in her lover's arms after making love. That one statement captures perfectly the vulnerability and fundamental human need that has gone unfulfilled in Mia all these years, for her whole life...

2. Sleep plays a role in April's session, too. She's gotten no sleep, she says, for the past few nights. She comes to Paul's office early, and falls asleep. Paul wakes her up.

We thus get a powerful metaphor for what Paul needs to do with April, and her cancer. She doesn't have the time to undergo conventional psychotherapy - she's needs chemotherapy. Paul is therefore in the difficult position of doing two things - getting April to understand what is troubling her mind, but doing this fast enough so she can get the treatment she needs for her body.

Tonight we learn that part of April's problem (of course) stems from her relationship with her mother. Paul needs to break through what April is telling him - that she doesn't want to burden her mother by telling her about her cancer. That's what's keeping her from getting treatment - she says she has no one else who can support her during this.

But how long can Paul wait for April to see the light? He promised April, last week, that he wouldn't tell anybody else about her condition. This presumably includes April's mother. But the time may be drawing near when he will have to make a choice. Which is the most ethical path: keeping your word to your patient and letting her die, or breaking your word so she can live?

I know which one I would choose, and I wouldn't wait too much longer...

See also: Back in Treatment on HBO ... Back in Treatment: Three More Fine Times ... 2.1-2: Fathers and Daughters ...2.3-5: A Senior, A First Love, A Boy and His Turtle

And Season One reviews: In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes (For Now)






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...


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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thoughts about Susan Boyle

The extraordinary success of Susan Boyle shows two things, seemingly contradictory, but in the end very gratifying about human nature.

People were surprised that someone who looks like Susan Boyle could have such a beautiful voice. This shows the initial shallowness that just about every one of us suffers from in one way or another: we tend to discount people who are not physically attractive. In that sense, we are no older, emotionally, than when we were nine or ten years old.

But the speed with which everyone recognized the beautiful talent of Susan Boyle shows that we also have more depth than meets the eye: we are excited, thrilled, to see that physical beauty is indeed only skin deep, and that you can't judge a book by its cover. What starts out as curiosity, driving more than 30 million people to YouTube, at this count, quickly transforms into a satisfaction, a deep delight, that someone so unexpectedly can have such a wonderful, joyous voice. We are pleased to our core to find that there are far more important things than what we look like, and that in fact visual image can be totally irrelevant to some of the best things in life. We feel good about discovering that, because deep down we already knew it.

Susan Boyle's success speaks to the deepest and best parts of our human natures. It also speaks to the continually growing power of social media and the Internet. There was once was a time, not that long ago, when a extraordinary event such as Susan Boyle's performance would be difficult or impossible to see and hear, if you didn't catch it the first time around on television. Nowadays, far more people are seeing the event on YouTube than saw it in the first place.

Susan Boyle will likely win the talent contest, but even if she doesn't she'll sell millions of records and have a spectacular career, and all of us will have won as well. She looks like the Statue of Liberty on that stage, a figure from another century, and has a voice for the ages that frees something very real and ever resident in the human spirit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Treatment 2.3-5: A Senior, A First Love, A Boy and his Turtle

Catching up with the second week's second three episodes of In Treatment...

The Walter thread - #4 each week - continues to shine. Part of the reason is that Walter is the oldest patient we've seen in the first two years In Treatment, and this shows a slightly different side of Paul. Not quite as on top of his game as Paul is with kids, but Paul is less threatened by someone Walter's age. And, as I mentioned last week, John Mahoney is just perfect for the part.

I'm continuing to like Paul and Gina more this year than last. Paul still offers the same resistance to seeing Gina - starting off just about the every session with protestations that he doesn't really want to see her as a therapist. But this year the presence of Tammy - Paul's first love, and, dangerously, also Gina's patient - makes the scenario more intriguing. (There's no way the two won't wind up in bed together.) Gina is also less maudlin this year, and therefore more enjoyable.

The presentation of the Oliver story is problematic. Paul's at his weakest when he's treating couples - Amy and Jake were the least interesting thread last year. And the story of Oliver's parents, who take up a good part of the episode, is so far not much more compelling than Amy and Jake's. But Oliver - well played by Aaron Grady Shaw - more than holds his own, an articulate kid with a self-image problem, and I'm looking forward to seeing how his story plays. (I also loved the fact the Oliver unintentionally left his turtle in Paul's office - the patient literally helping shape Paul's environment).

And I'll see you here, maybe as soon as Sunday night, with my review of Week 3, episodes 1 and 2...

See also: Back in Treatment on HBO ... Back in Treatment: Three More Fine Times ... 2.1-2: Fathers and Daughters

And Season One reviews: In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes (For Now)






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...


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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lost Meets Star Wars and The Sixth Sense in 5.13

A quiet, emotional Lost 5.13 tonight, as befits a character - Miles - who can listen to the dead, and who is also the abandoned son of Dr. Chang aka Marvin Candle.

On the island in 1977, we see Miles meet his father - someone who left his mother and him, when Miles was just a few months old, and therefore Miles tells Hurley he is not interested in getting to know as an adult back in time.

But this scenario provides another touching time travel vignette, of a boy, now grown, getting a second chance to get to know his lost father.

Hurley encourages Miles, with some talk about Luke and Darth and the Empire Strikes Back. Not only that, we get another wink at the fun of time travel, with Hurley explaining to Miles that Hurley, who has seen the movie umpteen times, and knows every line, plans on writing the script and sending it to George Lucas.... (Hurley's becoming the resident science fiction discussant on Lost.) We also get a rare glimpse of Hurley's numbers - on the hatch, which is being built - and that reminded me how little we know of them. I'm guessing we won't find out more until next year.

Tonight also had some good flashbacks of Miles before he came to the island - including a plea from a group of guys not to go back to the island. Who are they? Ben's men? Maybe...

And in two weeks we'll see the next step in this story ... which features Faraday. There's only one reason he's coming back to the island in 1977 (after having left it, off camera). He's determined to save Charlotte...









5-min podcast review of Lost 5.13

More Lost - see : The Richard-Locke Compass Time Travel Loop ...

and Lost Returns in 5 Dimensions and 5.3: The Loops, The Bomb ... 5.4: A Saving Skip Back in Time ... 5.5 Two Time Loops and Mind Benders ... 5.6 A Lot of Questions ... 5.7 Bentham and Ben ... 5.8 True Love Ways ... 5.9 Two Times and a Baby ... 5.10 The Impossible Cannot Happen ... 5.11 Clockwork Perfect Time Travel ... 5.12: Ben v. Charles, and Locke' Slave






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Monday, April 13, 2009

24 Season 7 Hour 18: Astonishing Surprise - Analysis

24 waited for tonight's Hour 18 to reveal the most astonishing surprise of the Season (7) ....

So astonishing, in fact, that I don't know if I believe it. But I'm not sure...

First, Hodges and his plan to launch missiles with bio weapons against American cities seems foiled. Tony blew up the Starkwood facility.

Jack's getting sicker. Kim comes to see him - and I thought that was a powerful scene. Say what you will about Kim Bauer and her role in the previous seasons of 24 - and I've said that I've been no great fan of that - but her relationship to her father is one of the bedrocks of the story of 24, and Kim and Jack played it just right tonight.

But that's not the astonishing surprise.

If you haven't seen this episode, don't read any further.

If you have - can it be that Tony is bad?

He apparently kills Larry Moss, who was trying to stop a bad guy with a canister of the weaponized prion.

Since I can't believe that Tony is bad, after all of this, I see only two possibilities:

1. Larry is not really dead. Tony just pretended to suffocate Larry - the way Jack did Renee, earlier this year. He needed to do that to get in the bad guy's good graces, so Tony could find any other bio-weapons. (The bad guy already knew Tony from his earlier work.)

2. Tony really did kill Larry, for the reason indicated above.

But I have to admit I'm not too sure about any of this. I would certainly prefer #1 rather than #2, but #2 is certainly better than #3 - Tony really is bad. Hodges did tell the President that she had no idea what greater evil she and the country would be facing ... Can Tony be a part of it?

Nah, I don't believe it...

But I can't wait to see in the weeks ahead.






6-min podcast review of 24 7.18








See also: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hours 11-12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 19






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Treatment 2.1-2: Fathers and Daughters

Two splendid sessions on In Treatment tonight -

1. Mia comes to see Paul - not as his almost-lawyer, but his erstwhile patient. This was an episode which, as a professor (not a therapist) I could thoroughly identify with. There's a profound asymmetry in the way profs remember students, and students remember professors, for the basic reason that students have been taught by far fewer professors than professors have taught students. I've taught thousands of students, and each of my students has been taught by probably not much more than a hundred professors, if that many. The numericals of therapists and patients are no doubt much smaller, but the same asymmetry applies.

So ... Mia remembers Paul far better than he remembers her. And the specialness of their relationship, from her point of view, is apparently not that they had an affair, but that she thinks he talked her out of having a baby - into having an abortion. This is looming larger than ever in Mia's life now, because she realizes that her child-bearing years are concluding. (This must be a concern of every therapist - to be contacted by a patient 20 years later, and find he or she holds you responsible for something they did or didn't do in their lives.)

Mia's relationship with her father (of course) also figures in her current situation. She relays a recollection of how her father made her feel grown-up when she was a little girl, by giving her coffee (mostly milk) in his shop. There's something about fathers and daughters which the writer of this episode keenly understands. I remember taking my daughter to a science fiction convention when she was a little girl, and letting her order an adult cut of steak. She was really happy, not just because she liked steak, but because she loved being treated like an adult.

2. April's session with Paul was even more intrinsically father and daughter. Paul's goal is to get April to an oncologist, so her cancer can be treated. He has to tread very carefully, and make sure his pressure doesn't drive April away. He seems to be navigating these dire straits almost perfectly, but the clock continues to tick...

As I mentioned last week, it's a pleasure to see Paul with teenagers and people in their early 20s - he's a professional completely in control of his emotions and strategies. In contrast, Paul's conversation with Mia is riddled, understandably, with personal responses, and it's often difficult to tell the difference between them and his professional responses. Kudos to Gabriel Byrne for a razor-sharp, satisfying rendition of these different states. He's played some great roles in movies, but his performance in these sessions is in class of its own.

And I'll be back late tomorrow or some time on Tuesday with my review of 2.3-5...

See also: Back in Treatment on HBO ... Back in Treatment: Three More Fine Times

And Season One reviews: In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes (For Now)






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...


Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southland Debuts with Good Storylines, Appealing Characters, and Irritating Beeps

Southland - ER showrunner John Wells' latest creation - debuted on NBC this week. The LA cop show has an appealing ensemble of characters, promising story lines - and distracting beeps.

The good stuff, first ... Rookie Officer Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) and his mentor John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) make a good team. The talk Cooper gives Sherman after Sherman makes a righteous kill - you have a front row seat to the most real action, a chance to make a difference in this world with your every move - was one of the best I've seen of this kind of scene. It's difficult for any cop story to be shocking and original after The Shield, but Southland had some nice twists, and a pace reminiscent of Hill Street Blues. And the dialog was--

Punctured by beeps. In a big step backward from NYPD Blue, it seems you can't even have a cop say "asshole" on network television these days. So we're treated on Southland, instead, to "ass[bleep]" any time an officer wants to voice such an opinion ... and that's the least of lacerations.

Here's a message to NBC: if you're so afraid of the FCC and Congress, get out of the television business. You do a disservice to your viewers, and freedom of expression, when you kowtow to unconstitutional FCC regulations. Southland clearly has a story to tell - let its writers tell it.

As it is, viewers are leaving network television for cable and the Internet in record numbers. People want real emotions, real language, real people in their fiction. If NBC wants to continue to be a significant player in the presentation of cutting edge, important entertainment programming, it needs to get its collective head out of its [beep].








The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Friday, April 10, 2009

The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 Finale


A fabulous Season 2 - I hope not series - finale of The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox just concluded, in which we learn -

1. Catherine is a good Terminator - unless what we saw is some kind of ruse. But Catherine saves John (and Sarah and Ellison) with her liquid polymer powers (in a great scene in which she becomes a shield), and tells them she's working against Skynet, and her John Henry is as important to this cause as Sarah's John Connor.

2. John Henry's circuitry is unique - if a relay is swapped out, it will change him, change a small part of his cyber soul. This makes Terminators even more unique than humans - if a small part of our brain is swapped out, would that change our soul, psyche, or whatever it is that makes us who we are? Well, that probably depends upon what part of our brain.

Meanwhile....

Cameron and John have a fine, intense scene, in which, well, John gets about as close as we've seen to sleeping with her...

But Cameron leaves to break Sarah out of prison, in one of the best scenes in the series. Cameron's not "one hundred percent," as she puts it, after getting one of her eyes and who knows what else blown out. This sets her up, not in the best of shape, for a battle with John Henry, that we do not see. He gets the better of her - or, at least, he leaves her body in the room, and he goes into the future, with her chip. (Possibly this wasn't a battle at all - Cameron may have willingly given John Henry her chip, because she knew she was damaged, and a danger to John.) If Catherine is to be believed, John Henry with Cameron's chip in the future is good. At the very least, it gets John to time travel with Catherine to the future...

Where he meets his father, and Derek (before Derek traveled back to our time), and ... Cameron ... whew... (*Note added April 11, 2009: Lucila Mango commented below that it was it not Cameron but Allison Young - I think this is probably right, and creates possibilities for John having a full-fledged physical relationship with her. They could have children, which would make for all sorts of future scenarios.)

And Sarah and Ellison are back in our time ...

The series had a few missteps in the first two seasons, no doubt. Too much meandering with local stories, and not enough development of the major plot threads. But the series has redeemed itself powerfully in the past few episodes, and especially in this finale. I hope we get to see more.

PS - Excellent, memorable FBI interrogator of Sarah - fine performance by Joshua Malina.


6-min podcast review of Sarah Connor Chronicles





See also 2.1 Cameron's Back ... 2.2 Firing on All Cylinders ... 2.3 Who, Truly, Is Agent Ellison? ... 2.4: Meet Allison ... 2.5: Unpacking the Future ... 2.6: Terminator Mom, Human Daughter ... 2.7: The Saving Robbery and Cromartie ... 2.8 Perspectives and Death ... 2.9: An Idiot's Guide to Time Travel in The Sarah Connor Chronicles ... 2.10: Riley Lashes Out at Facebook ... 2.11: Cameron Meets A. E. Housman and Andre Bazin ... 2.12 Sarah Connor Chronicles in Triple Time ... 2.13: Space, Time, and Blogging in The Sarah Connor Chronicles ... 2.18: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the Life of Riley ... 2.20: Sarah Connor vs. Death in Two Forms ... 2.21: Profound Lessons from a Kidnapping in The Sarah Connor Chronicles






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The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!





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