Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random Reviews - September 18, 2012

Lost, Fringe, Person of Interest

I recently finished watching all six seasons of the television show Lost (2004-2010) - thanks to the wonderful technology of video streaming.   For the sake of those who have not seen show, I have tried to avoid listing specificities that would ruin the plot. In a nut shell, Lost tells the story of a group of survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 marooned on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Lost is clearly one of the top television shows of recent years. The show covers many themes, such as science, religion, and family. But probably the topic given the most attention is the question of fate.  Here, the writers do a great job keeping us wondering if there is a greater purpose for the survivors of flight 815. Lost's puzzle narrative structure helps to underscore this notion.  Some random notes (after all, this is a random review): Michael Giacchino's beautiful score; the diversity of characters and different representations of races; and cinematography, editing, and acting-all work very well.  Lost deservedly won a bunch of Emmys.  But I was surprised that none of the women were nominated for their work.  Lastly, there are some fantastic stand-alone episodes.  I particularly loved "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead," which some critics, apparently, did not like.

I am finding myself drawn more and more to J.J. Abrams' fictional Universe.  I recently started watching Fringe - another great show of Abrams'. Fringe is like the scientific version of the Twilight Zone.  If Rod Serling gave us existential reasoning for the show's strange happenings, Fringe attempts to scientifically solve them!  Topics covered are telekinesis, shapeshifting, spontaneous combustion, and suspended animation, to name but a few.  Walter (John Noble), the eccentric scientist, does a convincing job to prove the scientific validity of these strange happenings.  Noble's humorous antics also help to balance out Fringe's graphic imagery.

 All of these shows strikingly share a commonality: a depiction of a post 9/11 society of paranoia. These shows, in many ways, are a microscope into our culture of rapid technological innovation, speed, and surveillance.  Abrams and Matt Reeves really tune into these features in their frantic, science-fiction, disaster, monster, digital cinema film Cloverfield (2008).  I guess in certain ways these shows can be compared to the paranoia films of 1970s, such as Airport (1970), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).  This is not meant to be a generalization.  But I like that the writers of the show address these issues.  Finally, I recently read that Star Trek 2 is heading into production which begs the question: does J.J. Abrams sleep?

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