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Sunday, February 01, 2009


Tim Riggins, I Am Yours! (Unless Starbuck Calls.)

Lost (TV series)via Wikipedia

Is it me, or were the last seven days the best week in television history? If there was any doubt that TV has become the preeminent dramatic form of our age, this week put them to rest with jaw-droppingly brilliant episodes of Damages, Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost.

Lost is as dense and as complex as ever...I pity the poor fool who tries to jump into the series at this point. (Netflix the DVDs first!) But for die-hard fans like me, the dizzying pace of revelations, reversals and surprises feels like a string of earthquakes, rocking our foundations and expanding our sense of the island's potential. Time-travel is the major theme this year, but it's delivered in smart, serious doses that create character tension and dramatic possibility. And the cast continues to be the most underrated ensemble on television, with Emmy-worthy work already from Jorge Garcia.

Lost is flashy and chaotic, demanding attention like a spoiled child in every scene. By contrast, Damages is measured and unassuming...its power comes from lulling you into a rhythmic comfort, and then brutally yanking the dramatic rug out from under you. These plot upturnings are often unforgettable (last season's final scene with Zeljko Ivanek, for instance), but the best-ever happened last Tuesday, with a revelation about plaintiff Daniel Purcell (William Hurt) that now, six days later, I'm STILL not over. It was so bad, I actually felt pity for the dragon lady Patty Hewes (Glenn Close). It's dangerous writing at Damages, precarious and cavalier and slippery and menacing. But boy, when the risk pays off, it does so magnificently.

I'd been concerned that Friday Night Lights was losing its steam after three years, multiple time slots, and an ever-rotating set of writers. But last week my fears were put to rest, as the Dillon Panthers put out their first-string acting talent...Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) panicked about the new freshman nipping at his heels, Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and Principal Taylor (Connie Britton) navigated the internecine educational system, and the new town socialite (Janine Turner) scorched the screen in her first big episode. Oh, and by the way? I've finally drunk the Kool-Aid regarding Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch). He is, unquestionably, the hottest piece of ass on television at the moment.

And saving the best for last: Battlestar Galactica. I'd previously thought the series' best moment was late in season 3, when the four Cylons were finally "switched on" by the classic song "All Along The Watchtower." But no more. Last week's episode (brilliantly written by Mark Verheiden and directed by Rounders' John Dahl) captured, in one bracingly tense hour, the military coup and uprising against Commander Adama and President Roslin. It was heart-pounding, viciously brutal, and perfectly plotted. Will this show ever, ever, ever win a major Emmy Award? If so, it should be for this episode. Perfection.
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