Posts Tagged ‘TV
Fringe Executive Producer and Showrunner J.H. Wyman said this about Season 5, “My biggest concern was telling an authentic, honest story that I could stand behind, and that I would feel I was giving the fans the love letter that I think they deserve.”
Well, if the final season was a love letter to the fans, then the final episode was a gigantic fuck you.
After watching the final moments of the show, a show I have invested years in, I couldn’t help but be furious. I wanted to smash something. Seriously. Wyman took a damn good season, a damn good series, and crushed it in a few confusing, contradictory final moments. He did two things: 1) he fucked up because he insisted on using time travel while failing to understand its logistics, and 2) he fucked up because he doesn’t give a shit.
Justified has shown a great amount of depth and progression each year it has been on the air. The first season was largely plot-driven, but managed to utilize interesting characters to its advantage. It could be slow at times, but it was never boring. The second season improved on the first in various ways. The story became more character-driven, and each person affected the plot in their own way. Nothing felt contrived or forced. The third season managed to mesh what worked in the first and second seasons, and create something unique and memorable.
Alias probably should have ended with Season 4. Rewatching it, you can see that just about everything was resolved. “The greatest power”, the evil Elena Derevko, was defeated. Nadia did not survive fighting Syndey, thus fulfilling Rambaldi’s prophecy. Irina more or less got away, but in a suitable manner. Syndney and Vaughn got engaged. And Sloane redeemed himself to become good. Or at least as “good” as he could ever be. The final two episodes looked as if they had been written to be a series finale. It should have just been over at that point. But they got picked up for Season 5, so they ended things on a ridiculous cliffhanger, and kept on going.
Season 5 is strange for a lot of reasons. First, Jennifer Garner is clearly bored with her role at this point. Scene after scene, line after line, she is phoning in her performance. Second, Michael Vartan, who played Vaughn, left the show. Naturally, the best thing to do is kill his character. Yeah, why not? There’s no point in letting a character, whom we’ve enjoyed for four seasons, live. Third, Nadia turns out to have survived but is off the show, anyway. Fourth, Greg Gunberg, who played Weiss, left the show, as well. This leaves us with a cast including Sydney, Jack, Dixon, Sloane, and Marshall. Fifth, Jennifer Garner got pregnant and, while the show already required a lot of suspension of disbelief from the viewers, people were not going to accept a pregnant spy jetsetting around the world and kicking peoples’ asses. So, the series had to bring in some new recruits.
The two new characters are Rachel Gibson and Tom Grace. We are introduced to them through a series of episodes which go on for way too long. They could have each been introduced in 1-2 episodes. But we get so much boring backstory that half the season is wasted getting them up to speed. This makes matters worse when the season is abbreviated at 17 episodes.
Because they took so much time setting them up, I got the sense that Alias was going to make them the main stars of the show. Since Jennifer Garner was so bored at this point she was either going to quit outright, or just become a background character. Or the other possibility was that Alias was meant to conclude at the end of Season 5 and then immediately spin-off into a new series with Rachel and Tom as the leads with Jack, Sloane, Dixon, and Marshall reprising their roles.
Regardless of what the original plan was, about halfway through the season, ABC announced that Alias would be cancelled. This actually worked in the series’ favor because they decided to scrap whatever plans they had, and tried to end the show on a high note. The writing of the second half was a definite improvement. The stories became better. The episodic “getting to the know you” crap of the new people was jettisoned in order to refocus back on resolving the stories of the show’s original characters. The conspiracy stuff and Rambaldi prophecies came front and center once again. The writers had several loose ends they wanted to tie up, and tried their damnedest to make it happen.
Fortunately, they did a pretty good job. The second half moves along at a good clip. Characters who hadn’t made an appearance in a long time (e.g. Anna Espinosa, Sark) returned for a couple of episodes in order to have their stories completed. Bradley Cooper even came back to guest star in one fairly strong episode. After Sydney had her baby, she was able to go out on missions once again, and the old style of show came back. The only thing that didn’t work was the return of Vaughn.
Clearly, Vaughn was supposed to be dead. That much is obvious based on how he got his body turned into Swiss cheese by machine gun fire, and then he died and had a funeral. But then guess what? LOL SURPRISE EVERYONE IT TURNS OUT VAUGHN WAS ALIVE AFTER ALL AND WAS JUST IN HIDING LOL! I suppose this would have been acceptable had Sydney not known about it. But no, it turns out that Jack and Sydney somehow planned for Vaughn to go into hiding until it was safe. They both knew he was alive the whole time. Well, for Jack this could have flown, but for Sydney it makes no fucking sense. She spent many scenes bawling her eyes out, sometimes in the privacy of her own home, and this ruse doesn’t jibe with what happened. If she knew he was alive, she wouldn’t be weeping at home alone. That part was handled so badly, it certainly made it clear that the writers have been shooting from the hip on Alias for a long time. There was definitely never an overarching plan for the story.
In the end, however, they managed to resolve things nicely. Sloane got a fitting end; he got to achieve Rambaldi’s endgame (which he spent 30 years trying to do) but did not get to enjoy it. Jack’s death seemed sort of unnecessary but his ultimate sacrifice worked within the context of the final episodes. Sydney and Vaughn had a nice resolution to their relationship and were finally granted peace. Irina got what was coming to her. Lastly, Sark, who I always enjoyed as a fun villain, got away and continued to be a nuisance. All in all, a decent ending to the series. In fact, the final three episodes were phenomenally good. They were a definite highlight amongst the series as a whole. Too bad they weren’t so good they made up for the extremely weak first half of the season.
When I set out on this rewatch, I figured Alias would not have aged gracefully. On the contrary, it has stood up surprisingly well. It isn’t perfect. The acting is good but not great. The special effects are cheesy. Sometimes the plot makes no sense. But overall, there is a lot to like. The main story is strong and has an actual ending. The characters are likable. The action scenes are fun despite being ridiculous. The spy aesthetic may not be realistic, but at the very least it is entertaining. Overall, this is a TV series worth revisiting.
Season 5 – Average
The Series Overall – Good
Bonus: Alias Drinking Game
Drink every time
- Sydney gets emotional (two drinks if it happens during a mission).
- Sydney beats up a guy twice her size.
- An agent gets caught/seen by a security guard.
- An agent trips the security system.
- The target/bad guy/contact is in a night club.
- The target/bad guy/contact is a Russian.
- Someone gets double-crossed.
- Someone gets kidnapped (two drinks if they are also tortured).
- Somone uses a fake accent.
- The special effects look really cheesy/cheap.
- Jack does something badass.
- Weiss says something sarcastic.
- Marshall gets nervous/stammers (skip this one if you don’t want to black out).
- Someone says, “Your plane leaves in one hour.” (or some variation of that)
- Someone says something mean to Sloane.
- Someone mentions Rambaldi.
- Someone uses the word “endgame.”
- The background music is something slow and soulful.
- A main character is about to get shot by a bad guy, but the bad guy gets shot by someone else who is off-screen.
- The episode ends on a cliffhanger.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe season 4 of Fringe. Season 1 was pretty good, although the early episodes were bland and directionless. Seasons 2 and 3 were totally awesome as they focused on the war between two parallel universes. The third season ended with a powerful episode and a massive cliffhanger. Given that Fringe had been firing on all cylinders for two full years, it was probably an impossible task to keep up that level of writing for a third consecutive year. The writing is still good, the acting top-notch, and the ideas interesting, but it just doesn’t live up to the quality of the material that came before it. Season 4 could have continued to expand upon the series mythology, but instead it was bloated with a lot of needless filler. I suppose if I was hard pressed to use a word to describe this season, that word would be: squandered.
I thought this was going to be a porno. Look at the title. Money-ball. Anyway, this movie was actually pretty good even though it wasn’t a porno. It is based on the idea that you don’t need to waste a lot of money getting the biggest sports stars (usually the biggest assholes, too) in order to have a winning team. You hire the guys who have consistent stats, who aren’t flashy but have good fundamentals, and eventually you win games by sheer statistics. This appeals to me, because it means you don’t need those narcissistic fuckos who think they are King Shit of the sport. I hope those guys will eventually get paid less because of this. But probably not. We’ll continue to throw ourselves at the alter of sports celebrity. “LOL BUT BRIK TEHY ARE SUPAR TALENTED THEY TOTALY NEED TO MAKE $7.5 MILLION A YEAR TO THROW A BALL LOL!” *sigh*
So, the movie told an interesting story, and definitely a unique one in the vast field of derivative sports films. Brad Pitt turned in a strong performance. The directing was good. There was humor in the right places. The only thing that didn’t work was the treacly, forced “heartwarming” relationship between Pitt and his daughter. It was like some producer was yelling: “THERE ISN’T ENOUGH HEART IN THIS MOVIE! WE NEED TO HAVE HEART! SOMEONE GET A TWEEN AND HAVE HER PLAY A GUITAR! THAT WAY PEOPLE WILL KNOW THIS MOVIE HAS HEART!” Aside from that misstep, it was a good movie, and is worth checking out.
Alias season 3
While seasons 1 and 2 delivered fairly consistent entertainment, season 3 took a nosedive into a giant pool of shit. The plot was nonsensical. Sydney goes missing for 2 years and has amnesia of only those two years she was gone. Yeah, cause that’s how amnesia works (not). The initial focus is to figure out where she was and what she was doing. Of course, the CIA unquestioningly welcomes her back (yeah, right), and immediately starts sending her out on dangerous missions (yeah, right). Eventually, the writers got bored/confused by this plotline, and just ended it halfway through the season when an old guest star shows up and says, “LOL SYDNEY I KNOW WHERE YOU’VE BEEN FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS AND NOW LET ME EXPLAIN EVERYTHING TO YOU IN THE MOST BORING WAY IMAGINABLE INSTEAD OF TREATING THE AUDIENCE TO SOMETHING INTERESTING AND THEN WE’LL ALL COMPLETELY FORGET ABOUT THIS STORYLINE LOL!”
The remainder of the season makes no sense. Vaughn’s wife Lauren turns out to be a double agent who isn’t field trained, and then suddenly is a bad-ass on par with James Bond. Lauren and Sark head up the bad guys’ U.S. field office (which apparently has no other members), but then suddenly they are both answering to Lauren’s mom who is also a villain (and kills her senator husband) for no discernible reason. Things get more and more ridiculous: Jack IM-chats with Irina and tells her he loves her even though she is an internationally wanted criminal and up until this point he wanted to kill her, Jack helps Sloane fake his own death, Sloane may be Sydney’s biological father but that plot point is dropped almost immediately, the Rambaldi stuff makes no sense, the Lazare stuff makes no sense, Senator Lindsey is good one moment and then bad the next, all of the Triad stuff from season 2 is never resolved, and worst of all, the primary focus of the season is a love triange between Sydney, Vaughn, and Lauren. Lame. This is one of the worst seasons of any TV series I have ever seen. In the first episode of season 4, Vaughn said, “Last year sucked!” Yes it did, Vaughn, yes it did. Apparently, the writers were well aware of the giant shit they took.