Monday, June 29, 2009

LOST and Comics

If you are fan of LOST you will remember the season 4 episode "Cabin Fever". In this episode Richard Alpert shows up at the child John Locke's foster home to present him with several items to choose from that are "his already". One of the items is the March 1956 Atlas(Marvel)comic Mystery Tales 40. The "Hidden Land" is a four page story with the most obvious similarity to LOST being that Fred Phipps, the story's protagonist, works as a bookkeeper as did Locke.

Comics are one of the major influences on the LOST producers particularly Damon Lindelof who called Watchmen "the greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced". Producer/writer Brian K. Vaughan, who is best known for his works in the field of comics (writing the excellent "Runaways"), cited Watchmen as "definitely" the inspiration for his start as a writer. Javier Grillo-Marxuach, writer/producer in Seasons 1 and 2, has stated that Watchmen "was a topic of much discussion among those of us in the writers’ room who were comics-minded." Quoting Damon: “The Watchman” influenced me by telling a story out of order with flashbacks to explore the universe. And how — to know these four characters — you need to know about these six as well, and how they seem to not come together, but they do. We kept that in mind when creating the “Lost” universe. We learned that people will swallow a tremendous amount of story if it’s fed to them the right way."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What lies in the shadow of the statue?

The answer: "Ille qui nos omnes servabit" ("He who will protect/save us all"). If you have been a faithful fan of the LOST television series you were rewarded with a rather satisfying and mind blowing treat in the season 5 finale: "The Incident". I just re-watched the two hour episode and with it now fresh in my mind I want to explore a few thoughts.

The direction and musical score by Jack Bender and Michael Giacchino are right up at the top of anything ever done on television. The cinematic and epic feel they bring demands that this show be watched in 5.1 HD widescreen format.

In the opening sequence we finally meet the ethereal always present but never seen Jacob. He is joined by the unnamed man in black who asks Jacob if he knows; " much I want to kill you"; to which Jacob replies; "Yes". It implies that they have been adversaries for a long time. The eternal struggle of good versus evil, free will and choice vs predestination or fate, light vs dark. These are the common themes in the book "The Stand" which Darlton have both said they are fans of. The man in black would obviously reference the "Dark Man" from "The Stand" and probably also Darth Vader from Star Wars.

It also rather obviously implies that Jacob's adversary is the malevolent black smoke monster.

The next big reveal is that we get a full side on view of the four toed statue which ABC has claimed is the Egyptian goddess of fertility Tawaret.

We got an earlier view of the back of the statue from the episode "LaFleur". Is it just the different angles or is this a different statue because from the back it looks like the legs are separated with the right leg forward whereas from the side view the legs look together with the left leg and foot slightly forward.

The last and biggest reveal is when we find out that the Locke that has been leading "The Others" on an expedition to find and kill Jacob is his adversary: the man in black. The real Locke's body has still been in his casket which has been dumped out onto the sand for everyone to see.

Carlton Cuse said in the last podcast of the season that there hasn't been enough clues presented for fans to really make a close guess as what the end game for LOST is. He said the final episode of season five would do that. Ummm...I still don't have a clue. I am sticking with my original guess that we are dealing with the Lost City of Atlantis. Season 5 ends with the detonation of a hydrogen bomb and another white out. We will have to wait nine months to find out what happened to our LOST family and what happens next for them. The build up and hype for the 6th and final season is going to be amazing.

In the next post I'm going to get into the movies, TV shows, and Comics which have influenced the LOST executive producers and writers.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The man who was Superman.

My first experience with Superman was via the TV show "Adventures of Superman". George Reeves introduced Superman to me and will always be indelibly inked on my brain as the definitive personification of the character.

Reeves had rugged good looks that were slightly marred when his nose was broken in a bboxing match. He soon gave up pugilism after that. His classic square jaw and athletic frame made him look like he was born to wear the costume even though he would occasionally refer to it as "this monkey suit". Reeves as well as his initial co-stars: Phyllis Coates and Jack Larson; took the roles because they thought "The Adventures of Superman" would never actually be shown on TV much less turn out to be a major hit for the next seven years. Most actors considered televison not to be a worthy medium of their craft in the early 50's. Even so Reeves took the role very seriously and felt that he had to do his best for the all the children who were watching. Reeves performances in the first two years of the series is what has stayed in the minds of all the adults who grew up watching him. Reeves was 37 when he took the role and looked like the Superman that was being drawn in the comics at the time. Reeves is very much a contrast to the younger actors in their 20's who have worn the cape and tights since.

In the time since Reeves death only Christopher Reeve has been able to define Superman for a new generation of kids. Dean Cain in "Lois and Clark" was an abysmal Superman wearing what looked like a cheap halloween super costume. That spandex is completely yeccchhhh. Brandon Routh might have been given a chance were it not for the totally misguided and mishandled direction of Brian Singer. I can only imagine that Singer either never read a superman comic or loathed the character as his dark and morose superman has pretty much wrecked the Superman franchise in cinema. In the end Routh looks much more like Tom Cruise than Superman.

So many things that were familiar to me about Reeves portrayal made me raise an eyebrow when I saw the later movie and TV versions with their better special effects. Because of the crude special effects of the day Reeves had to sell Superman's power's through his acting. He didn't just float off the ground into the air, he ran and jumped into the sky, which was primarily George running off screen or by jumping onto a concealed springboard. In a couple of episodes you can actually see the springboard pop into the bottom of the picture. This would be accompanied by swooshing sound effects to make it seem like Superman was fighting the air currents. When bullets bounced off Reeves chest he stood there with an arrogant smirk just like Superman would do if a crook stupidly thought a gun would hurt him. Disconcertingly after the first two seasons, with few notable exceptions, the production budget became smaller and the scripts increasingly juvenile and often asinine. Reeves was obviously bored and chagrined with the routine of dumb plots and appearing only in an obligatory couple of minutes as Superman at the end of an episode.

Most Superman fans are familiar with Reeves death that was judged to be a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Many believe that foul play was involved. Reeves once remarked to co-star Jack Larson that it would mean the world to him if just one adult fan had approached him and told him that he admired and respected the work he did as Superman. Sadly after Reeves death there would be jokes that he really did think he was Superman and thought that bullets actually would bounce off him. It would not be until the children who watched him faithfully grew up that Reeves would get the respect he so clamored for.

Here is a clip of what I consider to be the best of all the Adventures of Superman episodes and Reeves portrayal of him.