December 23, 2010

Big Fan? As A Matter of Fact...

George Clooney, eat your heart out.

I just finished watching Big Fan, a movie starring Patton Oswalt as a lifelong Giants fan whose love of his team is pretty much all he has in this world. His job sucks, his family doesn't understand him and from the outside looking in, you feel sorry for this pathetic loser who, in his late-30's, still lives at home with his nag of a mother. 

And yet, Oswalt's Paul is perfectly content with his lot. He is happy to spend his Sundays in the parking lot of the Meadowlands with his best friend, in the shadow of his heroes, watching their exploits on the portable television set they bring with them because they are too poor to afford the tickets to the games. 

Paul is also a regular caller on a sports talk show, and it is there where he shines. His daily on-air tirades earn him more than enough admiration and respect to get him through the day. His fandom of the Giants defines who he is, so when fate gives him a chance to meet his favorite player... he embarks on a journey into a world that can only end in disaster...

Therein lies the brilliance of this film. Paul is simultaneously pathetic and heroic, admirable and cowardly -- and in the movie's final confrontation, Oswalt's performance builds the tension to a pitch-perfect point before the character's fatal flaw, his lack of ambition surfaces again. 

The pacing of the movie could use a little tightening up, but other than that I have no complaints, and I look forward to more dramatic work from comedian Oswalt, who in the past has also strutted his serious side in a few episodes of the under-appreciated television show, Dollhouse

I get that some viewers of the film might well be "disappointed" in the ending that writer/director Robert D. Siegel presents, and at first glance, it is a bit disappointing that it didn't go down the much darker path that I was expecting... but upon reflection, that choice is exactly why the film  works, because ultimately that's the point. Paul can't go down that road, because he simply can't. He lacks the ability. 

Are you looking at me? Oh, you are? Sorry, my bad...

Watching Paul's decisions throughout the film, you shake your head in amazement as he goes down what most people would clearly see as the wrong path at each and every crossroad -- but he doesn't really have the choice. He is a broken and flawed man, and yet, Paul ends up in exactly the same place at the end of the film as where he started: happy and hopeful -- and if that's truly the case, then who are we to judge?

December 15, 2010

New Title

Thanks for visiting the blog... we promise that we'll start writing again shortly. The reason we have been gone so long is, of course, because we have been busy finishing up our first book -- and we are happy to report that...

The completed first draft is now off to the fine folks at Skyhorse Publishing!!!

The working title was deemed to not work, so we have a new title to keep in the forefront of your minds...

How Fantasy Sports Explains the World: What Pujols and 
Peyton Can Teach Us About Wookiees and Wall Street

More information as it becomes available... STAY TUNED!!!

October 20, 2010

Coming Along

Thanks for visiting the blog.

You may have noticed a lack of well, blogging, of late. That's because I am busy writing my first book, which is now almost halfway finished. I'll keep you all posted on my progress, but for now --- back to the keyboard.

The Thrill of Vicarious Victory is scheduled to hit the stores in August of 2011.

September 11, 2010

Impossible to Forget

I originally wrote these words in 2006… but felt it only fitting to share them again with you today…

I was not feeling well that morning.

I couldn't quite figure out what was wrong with me, but whatever it was, I decided to call my doctor and see if she could fit me in. Unfortunately, the office was not yet open, and I decided to head into work anyway, and called the office to let them know I might be a few minutes late. I ran out of my apartment and headed for the subway.

Looking at my watch, it was 9:00 on the dot. I was going to be late, but not by too much. I was only two blocks away. The thing about living in New York is that people are always on their cellphones and talking loudly, and nobody really pays too much attention to the people around them, especially when you're in a hurry.

Still, I couldn't help but notice that EVERYONE was on a cellphone and all were looking in the same direction, and pointing, and standing still. I turned around to see what all the commotion was about and saw a large plume of dark smoke pouring out from a ways behind Chase Manhattan Plaza. From where I was standing, only the South Tower was visible, and I merely assumed there was a large fire in a building somewhere. So, I kept walking and reached the corner of Pine Street and ordered my usual morning bagel and coffee from the street vendor.

That's when the world changed for me.

It was 9:03.

First came the sound.

Take a piece of paper and tear it in half. Now magnify that sound by about one hundred thousand and have it increase in volume as it comes closer and closer to you.

My arm fully extended, my hand still held one end of the dollar bill. The vendor held the other end of the bill, as our heads turned in unison and watched the plane fly into the building. The explosion. The bits of paper falling from the sky. I remember standing there for a minute or two trying to wrap my head around what I had just witnessed. And then I walked towards the water, following a little voice in my head that told me that the building was going to fall.

Cellphones were now useless, and I could not get through to my wife, who was working in what was now the tallest building in the area that wasn't already on fire. I circled back towards the subway station and heard President Bush on a car radio saying the country had suffered an "apparent terrorist attack". It was 9:30, although I could have sworn only a few minutes had passed.

The conductor came up out of the subway station to the street and screamed, "Last train to Brooklyn" and I instinctively got on. Standing on that particular street corner was not going to be a safe place to be.

I got home in time to watch the first tower collapse on TV. That video of the giant cloud of smoke and debris surging around the corner of a building… my wife's building… time stood still.

The rest of the day, the week, is a blur. We had to leave the city for a time because the smoke from what was now called Ground Zero was constantly seeping in under our apartment door. Even when we returned to our jobs weeks later, the air was thick with the acrid smell and the twisted charred metal served as a constant reminder of the tragedy.

We were not sleeping. We needed to leave. We put a bid in on a house in South Jersey in December and moved away at the end of February.

These were the lemons we were dealt.

Five years have passed. But today, it feels an awful lot closer. Had it not been for that day, though, my wife and I would probably still be in New York, and most likely would have decided not to raise a child in that environment.

As I look here now at my sleeping son, I can truly say, he is the sweetest lemonade there could ever be.

Hug your kids. Call your parents. Take a moment to reflect. Then make yourself some lemonade.

"A man builds a city with banks and cathedrals. A man melts the sand so he can see the world outside. A man makes a car and builds roads to run them on. A man dreams of leaving, but he always stays behind."

Dedicated to the memory of Craig Staub and Gopal Varadhan, two of the many who died that day.

August 10, 2010

Time it Was and What a Time it Was...

Patti (top) as always, with plenty of support from her friends

(REPOST: Originally posted August 10, 2009)

Back when I was a senior in high school, I reserved the entire inside front cover of my yearbook for my good friend Patti. We had met back in summer camp at the age of 8, and continued to see each other during July and August, year after year. 

Our friendship grew closer still when we both ended up at the Bronx High School of Science and we were able to hang out a little more frequently than just two months a year. Many a night was spent together laughing, as our group of friends would gather for a sleepover at her boyfriend Dave’s apartment in Manhattan. Great memories!

As friends sometimes do, we drifted apart for a time, but always tried to keep each other in the loop about what we were up to as we both found our way back to NYC after our college years. Unfortunately, Patti got very sick with cancer, and as was her personality, didn’t want to burden others with her problems, so I was completely unaware of the seriousness of her illness until a few years ago after she had already been moved into a hospice to wait out the inevitable. 

Her best friend, Debbie (who also was a familiar face from those days at Mid-Queens Summer Camp) told me she had no idea that Patti and I had essentially lost touch, because Patti apparently kept herself in the loop about my life- my marriage, the birth of my son… she simply enjoyed these things from afar, not wanting to burden me with her problems. 

So it was with great sadness that we learned of her passing in October of 2007. I’m far too young to be attending the funerals of dear friends, and the memorial service for Patti was the first (and hopefully, the last for quite some time). From the category of making lemons out of lemonade, I am now much closer with my friends from that time than I was before Patti’s passing, so for that I am thankful, yet each August 10 - Patti’s birthday - will bring with it that sense of loss all over again.

And so I sit here looking at the inside cover of my yearbook – where Patti had listed a whole bunch of memories that we had shared over the years… and the following words that she closed with: 

“When I remember growing up, camp, high school, friends, I’ll think back and smile knowing that you have all the same memories. Keep them forever. Much love, Patricia (Patti)”

And today especially, I take some small solace that I do have these memories… 

“Happy Birthday, Patti. And give my apologies to Mr. Novak…”

Don’t worry if you don’t get that inside joke… that one’s between the two of us.

August 8, 2010

My 2010 Fantasy Football Logo

...continuing in the fine tradition that brought you last season's Rage Against the Muhsin.

August 3, 2010

Whither AJ?

Hard at work on the final two months of the baseball season, as well as the preseason for the NFL. Add to the mix one book that needs be completed, and something had to give. Sadly, for now, it's the blog. Fear not, though, as we'll continue to update our progress as we get closer to finishing our debut.

July 26, 2010

A Very Harried Sequel

 Cast photo from "A Very Potter Sequel"

I admire these guys a lot. After putting together a brilliantly crafted musical based on the Harry Potter novels in 2009, there was nothing left for a sequel, or so it seemed -- a fact playfully pointed out by Lucius Malfoy during the opening number of said sequel.

Although this second go-around is far too talky and there's a lot of unnecessary reliance on potty humor -- literally -- there's a lot to like here. The cast's vocals, when the songs finally arrive, are superior to the originals, specifically, the duet between Sirius Black and Harry Potter in front of the Mirror of Erised. Plus, the choreographed Quidditch match is a real hoot.

It's not ready for Broadway, by any means, but certainly well worth the watch and considering how quickly it all came together... full OWLs to Darren Criss and company.

July 21, 2010

Inception Introspection Sans Spoilers


I was among the many millions of people who ventured out the local multiplex this past weekend to take in Christopher Nolan's latest film, and I was not in the least bit disappointed. 

The acting is top-notch -- not a single weak link in the entire cast -- and the story has as many layers to peel back as the dream state that it uses as its playground.  It does get a little tedious during the  Bond-esque tundra battle, especially since it's nigh on impossible to keep track of which character is which when they're all dressed up like eskimos... but you know a movie has worked when the final scene elicits an audible reaction from the theater. 

The big "unanswered questions" of the film pertain to whether or not the whole story is or is not a dream, if so, who is actually doing the dreaming, and how can any of us tell the difference between what we believe to be reality and something that simply isn't. The fact that watercooler debate and  message boards are still running rampant with "I'm right... No, I'm right" discussion simply proves one thing... Christopher Nolan pulled off his own inception.



He's planted the idea that you could possibly figure out a "correct" interpretation of the film, and doggone if some people aren't going to see the movie over and over and obsess over every little detail until they are sure they have it all figured out. Then they're going to try and convince all of those who simply don't see it that way to see it that way, and will hear no other argument to sway them from their own point of view.

If that doesn't sound like a planted idea growing into a virus, then I don't know what does. Well played, Nolan. You've spun your top well.

July 15, 2010

Remake a Rec



I recently saw the Spanish horror film [REC] directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. It's a movie that follows in the footsteps of Blair Witch and Cloverfield, that of the "found footage" genre where the audience's point of view is that of a video camera.

I must admit I was not expecting much, but it turned out to be an amazing film. The fact it was not in English - though subtitled, I do not habla - added to the aura of confusion for me. The characters, though mostly there to be "monster fodder" each had personalities without feeling like stereotypes. The guy I called "Senor Furley" was a particularly entertaining performance to watch.

Beyond that, the film had an artistic flair to it, and there's one particular shot down a spiral staircase that is both horrifying and at the same time, dare I say, beautiful. It was unlike any horror film I have ever seen, even though the story and plot were nothing too far removed from your standard zombie film.



Of course, Hollywood can't leave a good thing alone and decided to make it's own version of the same exact film. Not exactly shot-for-shot, but certainly beat-for-beat.












Unfortunately, it simply doesn't work. The production value is too slick, removing any of the "realistic feel" of the movie. Not only that, but whereas you're rooting for the young reporter in [REC], in Quarantine, you end up identifying only with the cameraman, played by Steve Harris from The Practice.


That's a testament to his acting ability, as he spends most of the film off-screen, behind the camera. However, it also speaks to a complete misfire on the part of the creative team that simply didn't get it and made a film about a raging contagion far too sterile to be interesting. 

Especially comical to me was near the end of Quarantine, where, as in [REC],  the  remaining survivors discover a tape recorder. In [REC], that allows new information to be imparted that provides context for what we've seen so far in the film. In Quarantine, it doesn't work. Literally. The tape recorder doesn't work, making it's discovery completely pointless, and only there because it existed in the original.

Do yourself a favor, seek out [REC] as well as its innovative sequel and leave the American version where it belongs - isolated from the rest of the world and kept under wraps.

July 7, 2010

Dial 9 For Murder

Won't get fooled again?

Session 9 is actually a pretty decent psychological thriller which may or may not have supernatural overtones - that's a debate you'll be sure to have once the film reaches its conclusion. 

I have to admit, I was not expecting much, especially given the inclusion of the one and only David Caruso in the cast, but he was surprisingly effective in the role of the second-in-command of an asbestos clean-up crew who get more than they bargained for in a job needed to be finished in a hurry at an abandoned mental institution.

Unfair as it may be, though, there is one scene in particular involving Caruso and a pair of sunglasses that took me right out of the movie, waiting for The Who to kick in. Not exactly the feeling of dread the director likely had in mind at that crucial moment in the film, I'm sure...

July 2, 2010

Something Spooky This Way Comes

 Anybody seen the powder?

I love horror movies, and I'm finally getting a chance to catch up on a huge -- read, nearly a decade -- backlog of titles. Thanks to the internet, I was able to check in this week with the low budget hit, "Paranormal Activity" and here's what I think...

Love the conceit of the super-fast time code to speed along the night to the "good parts" and absolutely commend the film-makers on the framing of the bedroom door and hallway, which simply begs the observer to create context out of the shadows.

Totally bought the acting -- it's harder to make "fake" casual dialogue seem real than you think, and the haunted couple totally pulled it off. 

What I hated? The boyfriend was so unlikable that I would sooner believe in demons living in the attic than I would the fact that she stayed with him throughout the entire movie. And, without spoiling the finale, let's just say that not a single one of the three endings that you might have witnessed, depending on the version you watched is really any good.

Still, given the budget and the self-promotion that it took to make this indie effort a hit complete with it's own sequel (trailer below), I have to applaud the effort... if not the entire package.

June 30, 2010

Schedule Unknown

And yet, nobody is watching YOU.

Here's the thing, NBC. I wanted to give this show a chance. A group of strangers wake up in an otherwise deserted town, each of them having been kidnapped and with no idea why they are there, or where "there" actually is.

It's the brainchild of Christopher McQuarrie  of "The Usual Suspects" fame, and promises to be only a summer mini-series of sorts, with a promise to wrap up the story by the time it is over, so there's no long-term commitment, other than tuning in each Monday at 10 pm for a few weeks when there's nothing else on to watch... OK, NBC, I'm in.

Except, this past Monday, even though the listings in my local paper clearly showed "Last Comic Standing" from 8 pm - 10 pm and "Persons Unknown" at 10 pm, for some reason known only to the network, they decided to flip-flop the shows while keeping it pretty hush-hush. 

What makes the decision even more confusing is that after airing two hours of generally generic and unfunny comedians on Monday, NBC opted to rerun half of the same semifinal showcase on Tuesday at 10 pm. 

So basically, anyone who was watching "Persons Unknown" have now missed an hour and are unlikely to return, and anyone who had set their DVRs to record the originally scheduled  two hours of "LCS" missed the second hour, and yet the network chose to rerun the FIRST hour again the following night, only with the "results" tacked on in the last five minutes.

Great job, guys. You should be... well, you know...




 

June 29, 2010

Faith No More


When watching Last Comic Standing, each time they cut to judge Natasha Leggero, I can't help but think to myself... she's like Eliza Dushku, only ten years older and not nearly as good looking.

June 25, 2010

The Shot Heard Round the World

We've been busy of late, but not too busy to feel that swell of patriotism that came with Landon Donovan's goal. As a longtime soccer fan, it's truly rewarding to see how this year's team has managed to get the country behind them...  Go USA!

June 15, 2010

No Agony of Defeat Here!

Good news! Good news! (Now, anyone know how to get on her "list"?)

It's officially official... we're going to be blogging a little less often as we devote our writing energies to our debut book.

Skyhorse will be publishing THE THRILL OF (VICARIOUS) VICTORY - a Freakonomics-style look at fantasy sports and how strategies for winning can come from unlikely sources, from the psychology of performance prediction on Wall Street and casino game theory, to the world of Ghost Hunters and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Right now, the plan is for an August 2011 launch date, but we'll keep you posted on our progress here as we get closer.

In the meantime, thanks for your continued support and please spread the word!

June 9, 2010

The World Will Be Watching - Repeatedly


Friday marks the start of the World Cup, which for a soccer fan like me, is a month of pure nirvana. As a writer for ESPN.com, I have the good fortune of being able to watch each and every game, and not feel guilty, since it is in fact, my work.

Those of you interested in playing a March Madness-style select the winners game can find one here.

I wanted to take a moment to explain one thing I wrote in the introduction to this game, as it has been the source of several e-mails from people with nothing better to do than attempt to find fault with my writing, where frankly, none exists.

I state that the tournament "will be watched by a worldwide audience of more than 26 billion people" and this has resulted in an unexpected bevy of criticism sent my way. Here's a sample:

"There's only about 7 billion people in the world. In your article... you mentioned that the World Cup will have an audience of 26 billion people. This would be impossible... Just thought you should know."

To this I simply respond... If I had said 3,674,495 people attended games at Yankee Stadium last season would you bat an eye? Why would you, since that was the official attendance figure - and yet, wouldn't you assume that many of those who attended games went to more than one? So the number of actual individual people who went to Yankees games was likely far less than the actual attendance.

With 64 games on the World Cup schedule, if the same 1 billion people watched each and every  game, then the total viewing audience for the tournament would be 60 billion people. It's simply adding up the viewing audience for each individual game, which is what the World Cup officials do when releasing the official "total viewing audience" figure for the event - which in 2006 was 26 billion people. 

Mystery solved. Population crisis averted. Please go back to your regularly scheduled activities - all 26 billion of you.

June 8, 2010

What Wormhole Did I Just Go Through?

So, I see this link for a clip of a comedian performing on "Live at the Apollo" and decided to watch it.

Did you ever feel like you've suddenly been transported to an alternate universe? Because, for the love of Steve Harvey, this ain't the Apollo I remember.



I was kind of expecting something more like this...

June 4, 2010

O Blogger Where Art Thou?

I know, I know. Where have I been? What's up with the lack of daily bloggitude of late?

Not AJ

Patience, dear readers. Some very cool news will be forthcoming next week to, like Clarissa, explain it all.







June 2, 2010

WOW! THAT'S ANNOYING!

So, three times in the last few weeks or so I've been lulled into deep REM sleep while listening to a West Coast baseball game on the MLB Network. They should really figure out how to capture the hypnotic essence of Vin Scully and Dick Enberg and put it in pill form.

Unfortunately, I've also been forcibly roused from my slumber on each occasion by this commercial which somehow decided that cranking the volume "to eleven" was a good idea:


Sorry, Staples. All you've managed to do is make me hate you. And Joey Slotnick, although in fairness, that wasn't too much of a journey.

May 27, 2010

Good TV from Glee

With LOST now gone, it's time for me to come up with a new favorite show. Right now, the leader in the clubhouse comes from an unexpected source - Glee.

If the writers of the show, which is more often than not extremely light-hearted and campy, continue to slip in scenes like this one from - of all sources, Mike O'Malley - the Emmy nominations are sure to come flying their way.



Maybe it won't stand the test of time, but that scene did what most good television should do… cause the viewer to have a visceral reaction to what they see and hear. 

It got me thinking, and here are some of the other sequences off the top of my head that made me an active participant in what I was watching, rather than simply a passive observer. I look forward to your comments and suggestions for others to add to the list. (I've limited the list to one scene per show, and not included shows that are strictly comedies.)
1) Twin Peaks - The sequence that starts with the Log Lady appearing at the police station and goes on to show us Maddie being killed is still, to me, the greatest fifteen minutes of television ever filmed. From the innovative use of the camera to the sheer violence of the murder, and a haunting score underneath, I still can't take my eyes off the screen when watching.


2) The Prisoner - The "opening credit" sequence of the very first episode is a master class of how to take what most shows today would use three seasons worth of exposition to get through and get the whole hypnotic and confounding series rolling in about three minutes.

3) My So-Called Life - The final scene of this underrated series has only gotten better with age. After Krakow tells Angela that he, in fact, authored the love note that Jordan Catalano gave her, she still gets in the car and drives off with Jared Leto. Then the show was canceled, leaving viewers forever wondering what was going on in her mind at that moment and what the fallout of this revelation would be.

4) Lost - From the pilot, the aftermath of the plane crash sucks the viewer right into the engine, and sets the standard for how a series can hit the ground running.

5) Buffy the Vampire Slayer - So many brilliant episodes to choose from, but for my money, the episode "Hush" in which there is no dialogue for nearly the entire episode is the best in terms of requiring you to pay complete attention to the screen. And what you saw when you did was not always pretty.

6) NYPD Blue - The episode where Jimmy Smits' character, Bobby Simone dies was one of the most gut-wrenching and real things I've ever seen on television. No gunshot wounds… no explosions… simply a slow and anguishing withering away in a hospital bed as a result of heart disease.


7) Journeyman - This was a show that deserved a better fate, as it was canceled just as it started to find its way. Forget all the mumbo-jumbo of the "time travel" abilities of the main character. 

As a relatively new father to a son myself, I was simply spellbound by a scene where Dan returns home from a "trip" to discover he and his wife no longer had the son he left, but rather a daughter who he has never met. 

Determined to go back to correct the mistake, his wife - who in this "reality" only knows her daughter - is equally adamant he does no such thing. A powerful moment from two parents who are both 100 percent justified in their position.

8) St. Elsewhere - MASH did dream sequences better, but the episode where Howie Mandel's Dr. Wayne Fiscus has a near-death experience and ends up touring both heaven and hell was sheer brilliance, especially when God appears to have a chat with Wayne and looks just like Wayne. "I created you in my own image. How else would you expect me to look?"

9) Star Trek: TNG -  For all of the Borg battles, the most impactful episode to me was called "The Inner Light" where a mysterious probe sends Picard on a journey that, to him, takes decades - he has a family, children, and even grandchildren - but at the end of the episode, when the probe runs out of energy, he is returned to his "real existence" where only a few minutes has passed. 

Yet, for Picard, the loss of this second life, which was very real to him, is one he'll never truly recover from. 



10) Fringe - In the post 9/11 world, use of the image of the Twin Towers needs to be handled delicately. However, there was no better way to symbolize that we had entered an "alternate universe" than to have the camera pull out to reveal that William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) had an office in the World Trade Center, untouched by terrorism. 

Bold? Yes. Powerful? You bet.

May 25, 2010

Flashback to LOST


 Locke, Jack and No Smoky Monsters

Commenting on some of the comments from my LOST finale summary

To Ron, who complained that LOST was "a show that arguably raised the bar for action on network television" and lamented that much of the finale was "two and a half hours with everyone smiling at one another" - 

I respectfully disagree. If you watched LOST for six seasons, you'd know that every season finale had more walking from Point A to Point B than an old Roger Corman sci-fi snooze-fest. Action was limited to small spurts, such as the actual physical confrontation between Jack and Faux-Locke on the cliff (which I would agree looked far more like an old-school Star Trek slugfest between Kirk and the Gorn than anything fresh and exciting.

You're not the boss of me, Jack!

To Bernard, who complained that the finale "proved to me that there was no overarching plan from the start" and cited the fact that Michael Emerson was original only signed for three episodes as proof of this -

The creators themselves have always said they only sat down to hatch a plan after they got picked up for a second season. Having said that, your particular example isn't proof that they didn't. They had already introduced the Others, and presumably they had a "leader." The fact it turned out to be a guy named Ben masquerading as Henry, rather than a guy named Ben we met two episodes later doesn't change the planned finish line, just the details in getting there.

Got milk?

To Ryan, who said "I would've loved anything more on (Widmore) and his involvement, (Dharma), Walt's powers, how Ben moved the island, why (Jacob and Smokey) were different, why the (Smokey) didn't have a name"-

And Ryan added many more unsolved mysteries, as did Bernard who wanted more about why the "numbers were what they were" and why women couldn't have kids on the island.

I think the point is that even if they did answer questions, some people would have been disappointed. For example, they DID answer the question "Where did Jacob and MIB come from?" and people then asked, "Where did their 'Mother' come from?" and if they explained that, we'd probably have twenty more questions. 

I would have been happy with simply having there being a magic glowing force at the heart of the island. Once we actually saw Desmond down there, I agree with Ron that it looked like a rejected Sigmund and the Sea Monsters set. 

Which one of you is the candidate?

Most questions you can make an educated guess at the answers anyway - women were infertile as a result of either the bizarre side-effects of electromagnetism on the island, or the fallout from the bomb going off, or a combination of both. Does it really matter? 

The question posed by the show in the pilot was summed up by Charlie, when he said "Where ARE we?" They answered that - a strange magical island. Then they posed the question of what is in the Hatch? They answered it. Desmond. Then they posed the question, who are the Others and how did they get there? They answered it. We saw the origins of Dharma. 

Most of these major questions were answered along the way, and some of the lesser ones slipped through the cracks, or didn't prove to be as ultimately important as we thought. After all, does anyone really care if Hurley's friend Dave was real or not? 

Remember me? I was on Sex and the City!
 
Some other questions are simply McGuffins. Does it really matter why turning the wheel teleported you to Tunisia, and not, say, Los Angeles? No. Could the writers have come up with a scientific explanation for teleportation that you would have accepted? Probably not. So let's just take some of these as given, and move on. I say better to not have answered these type of questions. 

In the end, LOST was groundbreaking simply because it presented us with a storytelling format we'd never seen before. It also would not have seen nearly as off-track if they had known from the get-go that they had X number of episodes how long they had to tell their tale.

If the networks were truly to learn from this example, they'd go to the BBC model, and give shows a 13-episode order. If they're successful, then maybe they get another order in a year or two. If not, they simply go away. In either case, the writers get to tell a complete story with a beginning, middle and end - the story they want to tell. 

Viewers don't feel cheated in the process. 

Take "Happy Town" which was recently promoted up the wazoo by ABC. This show was being billed as the "next Twin Peaks" and was going to be a season-long mystery. It aired twice, then ABC announced it was canceled. Well, why would a show like this get viewers if experience has taught us that this is how quickly the plug gets pulled? Who wants to put in the emotional commitment to new shows if they might disappear as quickly as they appear? 

Who is the killer? The network.

It's simple. Buy a show. Give it three months of consecutive airings. Let them finish out a complete story arc. If it hits, buy three more months. If not, bring in the next show. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

In the end, we should all simply be thankful that LOST wasn't canceled a few episodes into the run, like say FlashForward. For once, even if you hated the finale, we all ended up winning here.
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