Based on some comments from my friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that, as a science-fiction fan, I’m much more tolerant of time-travel element of LOST that seems to frustrate so many other fans. Thanks to timeline-manipulating shows like DOCTOR WHO and QUANTUM LEAP and movies like 12 Monkeys, I have absolutely no hesitation suspending my disbelief and following the adventures of the island denizens. I think some people forget that LOST is an SF show that boasts complex characters and wonderful drama. Much like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, that drama is so compelling that it’s easy to forget we’re watching shows about spaceships with FTL drives and mysterious tropical islands that rely on smoke monsters and polar bears. If more people would remember this and just accept and even embrace the time jumping rather than merely tolerate it, they won’t feel so personally adrift trying to catch up. As the Doctor himself is fond of saying, Time is made up of “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” stuff, so it’s best not to think about it too much and enjoy the ride.
Having said that, last night’s season premiere of LOST abandoned the usual one-person-specific time-jumping format and followed everyone as they hopscotched back-and-forth and hither-and-yon along the timestream. I don’t have the space to provide a good recap of events, so I’ll simply adopt a bullet format to note some interesting stuff…
•Season five began like Season two, with a wake-up routine and playing a record. But this time it was Dr. Chang/Marvin Candle, instead of Desmond.
•Fans actually got to see what happened to those on the island when Ben moved it. There was another “white event,” and the people became unstuck in time, bouncing forward and back, seemingly at random (Richard seemed to know what time zone Locke was headed to.)
•Hurley’s distillation of the previous four seasons was actually pretty accurate, if goofy, and gave Jorge Garcia a chance to do some real acting, as Hugo showed remorse.
•Faraday did a good job explaining things in layman’s terms. Noting that Time is like a street — You can go forward and back, but you cannot build a new street — was easy to visualize and, comparing the island to a record was also easy to grasp, and played into the recurring theme of seeing people play albums. (Note to the kids out there: Those big, flat, black disks used to be called long-playing albums or “LPs.”) The island is a record on turntable, and the record is skipping because what Ben did dislodged the island in time.
•Faraday recognized that Charlotte’s nosebleed was a sign of the impending brain aneurysm that kills time travelers who lose the ability to differentiate the past from the present from the future. Faraday contacted Desmond, who is his “Constant” – someone who exists in both time zones and serves as a sort of anchor — and tells him to go back to Oxford and find his mother. Sadly, he doesn’t get the chance to give him her name. Could it be…Ms. Hawking?
•Fun cameos: Hugo hallucinated being pulled over by Anna Lucia, who gave a shout-out to Libby, and Locke ran into Ethan.
•Ben pretty much implied to Jack that the island can heal Locke.
•Best lines of the night: Sawyer slapped Faraday, then warned Charlotte: “Shut it, Ginger, or you’re getting one, too!” Later, the ragin’ Cajun demanded Faraday tell him, “So when are we now, whiz kid?” Hurley to Sayid: “Maybe if you ate more comfort food, you wouldn’t go around shooting people.” And, finally, Hurley summed up this season’s thesis: “We never should have left that island!”
Fox debuted an interesting and fun new series opposite the LOST juggernaut: LIE TO ME follows Dr. Cal Lightman (played by frequent big-screen villain Tim Roth), a specialist in human behavior who can decode facial expressions and body language with such precision that it is impossible to lie to him. The show’s tagline is, “The truth is written on all our faces.” That’s because real-world scientific studies have determined that so-called “microexpressions” are universal to every person on Earth, so whether you are a New York socialite or a Australian Aboriginal, you give off the exact same nonverbal cues when telling a lie. It’s not what you say, it’s what you try to hide that betray your true feelings. It was undeniably fun to glean lie-detecting skills from the show, and I cannot wait to try them out for real:
•If you appear to be surprised for more than a single second, you’re faking it.
•Liars don’t always avoid eye contact; sometimes they make more because they want to see if their lies are being accepted.
•Your hands get cold because blood leaves the extremities to go to your legs in preparation to run.
•In male liars, the nose itches, because it contains erectile tissue.
•People break eye contact when recalling legitimate memories; liars maintain their gaze while making it.
•Liars rehearse their stories in order; if you ask them to repeat a sequence of events backward, they will struggle. LIE TO ME deserves an audience, and I hope it can find one opposite LOST.
The most-anticipated new series return for me was FRINGE, which is doing a good job of finding an audience opposite the much-ballyhooed THE MENTALIST. FRINGE picked up with the kidnapped Olivia deftly freeing herself from her not-so-mysterious captors, took evidence, shot a guy, hid the blood vials and paused to sob — all of which showed some personality, some color that has been sorely lacking in her character until now. Liv has been a dull gray while all around her were allowed to blossom into vividly quirky characters. Met her sister Rachel and niece Ella. She cooked for and supported her sis. She showed real passion while interrogating Loeb, delighted in telling him she’d killed his wife. That’s personality, and Liv had been sorely lacking. If she is going to continue as the focal character of the series, she’s going to need this personality transplant. Another important element is the recurring villain, so it was good (if completely expected) to see Mitchell Loeb was the kidnapper. (Olivia recognized his shoes.) Anna Torv and Trini Alvarado staged a pretty intense girlfight (no hair-pulling) before Liv gave Samantha a third eye. We also got to see Sanford Harris, the guy Olivia prosecuted for sexual harassment, but, unfortunately, he was playing the stereotypical role of the officious internal affairs-type with an axe to grind who is suddenly in charge of investigating the person he has a vendetta against. On the plus side, his conversation with Olivia succinctly recapped the series so far. Yes, that was Steven Schnetzer (ex-Cass Winthrop, AS THE WORLD TURNS, GUIDING LIGHT and ANOTHER WORLD) playing Dr. Miles Kinberg, the teacher who died when the huge virus crawled out of his throat. And wasn’t that an ingenious idea for a script: Bad guys who supersize the common cold to kill epidemiologists. I’m glad Olivia got some time in the spotlight, but we need to see more wacky Walter next week!