Lost may not be the most popular show on television, but it may the most popular show with the highest percentage of extremely engaged fans. In other words, the product of the size of Lost’s fan base and their intensity has to be the largest for any television show. Dollhouse or Breaking Bad may have a higher percentage of extremely engaged fans, but a smaller audience. American Idol or CSI might have a larger audience, but their fans are less likely to know who the showrunners and producers are.
Is there any other show (aside from perhaps NBC’s promotion of The Marriage Ref from Executive Producer Jerry Seinfeld) where the showrunners would be giving interviews on late night television instead of anyone from the cast?

Or that EW refers to by their first names only? Doc Jensen, EW PopWatch, Confused by the ‘Lost’ premiere? Never fear! Damon and Carlton explain a few things about the start of Season 6 (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Lost may be the most thoroughly analyzed show on TV. Here is an incomplete collection of some of the reviews and analysis of the season 6 premier, LA X, parts 1 and 2: Alan Sepinwall Doc Jensen (EW), jOpinionated, Televisionary Mike Hale (NY Times), Noel Murray (AV Club), Drew McWeeny (HitFix), Mary McNamara (LA Times), Todd VanDerWerff (LA Times), Myles McNutt (Cultural Learnings), Isaac Spaceman (A List of Things Thrown 5 Minutes Ago), Maureen Ryan (Chicago Tribune), James Poniewozik (Time), Linda Holmes (NPR).

Igot invited to see a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater last night. And aside from Dave being more engaged and energized by another situation involving the Tonight Show and Jay Leno over at NBC, this was incredibly worthwhile to attend, because The Heavy were the musical guest and rocked the house. As soon as the show wrapped, I was looking for their tour schedule to see if they were playing a full set later. Unfortunately, the Late Show wrapped up their US tour.

How often does Dave ask the musical guest to keep playing the song for another go round with the CBS Orchestra then vamping on the riff after the band finishes?
According to the Late Show website, it was “unprecedented.” They also have the full and complete encore performance
But sometimes when a band is just setting up, you get a feeling that you’re going to like them. If they’ve set up a four piece Gretsch drum set, Rickenbacker bass, Telecaster guitar through a Fender amp, baritone sax, tenor sax and trumpet, you get a sense of the sound they’re going to have. Combine with a British flag and before the band is even on stage, that’s a pretty solid indicator of the kind of sound they’re going to have. Borrow the Dap Kings horn section and execute well and there you go: a recipe for awesome.
The Heavy [theheavy.co.uk]
WXPN: The Heavy, Recorded Live In Concert (Jan. 15, 2010)
NPR: The Heavy: Dirty Basement Soul “Like the early White Stripes, The Heavy sometimes threatens to cross the line between reviving and archiving. Also like the early White Stripes, it’s good enough to get away with a lot, and smart enough to take full advantage.”
The House That Dirt Built: Vinyl CD MP3

Have I mentioned lately how much I’ve been enjoying television? Inspired by Patton Oswalt’s blog post about Watchmen and the new silver age of television, this is as good a time as any to go through and review what I’m watching these days.
Battlestar Galatica. The bleakest show on TV? While it may not be quite as sad and tragic as The Wire, the level of abstraction that involves space ships, replicants and sexy robots also allows for comments about society in a way that the realistic Baltimore of The Wire couldn’t. Only 3 hours left over 2 weeks (plus another 2 hour film airing sometime around the release of season 4.5 DVD’s, I assume.) In the last couple of seasons, Bear McCreary’s score has become an unexpected highlight.
Lost. Like Battlestar Galactica, Lost was helped tremendously by the producers and network agreeing to a set end date for the series. Since then, the show has moved forward with momentum. While not every episode is brilliant, there’s enough brilliance in the time-skipping adventures of the castaways.
Chuck. In its second season, all of the elements of the show are coming together and clicking. It’s both funny, acknowledges the ridiculousness of its world and adds in actual emotional resonance in a way that evokes the best seasons of Buffy. Plus, one of the best theme songs of any show on TV (Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket”) and Jeffster!
The Daily Show. Media critics who wondered if The Daily Show with Jon Stewart would remain relevant in the Obama administration obviously never quite understood the show. TDS focuses in on the ridiculous in the news. And even if the Obama administration is distinguished from its predecessor by a sad absence of man-sized safes in the Vice President’s office, there is enough fodder for ridicule from the media. See e.g. TDS discussing CNBC and Stewart interviewing Jim Cramer.
The Colbert Report might lose its edge and relevance when there are no longer any cult of personality pundit shows on cable news or talk radio. Considering that Rush (the blowhard, not the awesome prog band) is the leading voice of the conservative movement (or just the loudest), there’s no imminent danger of the show losing its relevance.
Friday Night Lights. All the cool kids watched this season in the fall on DirecTV, but even if it’s not as good as the wonderful first season, this season is much better than the show’s sophomore slump. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!
30 Rock. At its best, fast-moving farcical hilarity. At its worst, mildly amusing. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan get the attention, but the unmentioned highlight of the show is Jeff Richmond’s title theme song and score.
The Office. Perhaps the comedy that best blends in drama in a realistic and natural way. The deep supporting cast makes it possible for Creed to have only one line per week and still be consistently hilarious.
The Amazing Race. While some of the last few seasons have become formulaic, the formula works. This season has featured mostly well-designed legs, distinguishable teams, interesting locations and the usual great editing. I understand the reasoning, given the difficult of production, but still wonder why this is not filmed in HD. No other show on network TV would benefit as much from filming in HD.
How I Met Your Mother rarely rises to a level of greatness. But as a show focusing on the lives of 30 year olds in NYC, I find it relevant and reflective as much as– if not more than– I find it funny.
Important Things with Demetri Martin. Funny and clever comedy.
South Park. There’s always going to be famous or important people doing stupid things for Parker and Stone to make fun of. It works often enough that they’re still relevant, more than ten years in.
American Idol. It would be unwatchable without fast-forwarding through everything but the performances and Cowell’s critiques. Actually, this fragment of the show is barely watchable, but it’s still big enough to talk about. And it’s always nice to see how your own personal taste compares to aggregate taste of the American public. Or the subset of the American public that votes for Idol.
The Simpsons. At this point, the new episodes are doing little except for chipping away at the legacy of the brilliant first 8 seasons. But now it’s doing that in HD and– perhaps surprisingly, The Simpsons look better in HD. While not up to the standard of brilliance, this incarnation of The Simpsons is still a good TV show, even while it tarnishes the goodwill of those earlier seasons.
Burn Notice. Its season just ended, but it’s worth nothing, because for a show that is deliberately not intellectual, it is smart and fun with an emotional core. Other , the Miami scenery, Bruce Campbell and hundreds of ways to turn ordinary everyday objects into bombs, projectiles, or other deadly devices,
Considering: Kings (which would require foregoing the new episodes of The Simpsons), Breaking Bad.
On hiatus: Mad Men, Mythbusters, Top Chef.
Looking forward to: Parks and Recreation.

Lost comes back for its penultimate season tomorrow today. And I’m excited.
The New York Times profiled the show’s script supervisor, who is responsible for maintaining the continuity of the show. , Television – Gregg Nations’s Job – Keeping ‘Lost’ on Track: “With 34 episodes to go in its two final seasons, the stories of nearly 100 characters to wrap up, several Dharma stations to keep track of and a whole lot of time traveling going on, the writers of ‘Lost’ are doing anything but winding down. Yet their task — untangling the seemingly impenetrable mass of plotlines that have become addictive to some viewers of the show and alienating to others — is relatively simple compared with that of Gregg Nations.”
Alan Sepinwall interviewed producer Damon Lindelof, What’s Alan Watching?: ‘Lost’ goes time traveling for season five: “We spoke at length last week about last season, this season, and how the worst episode in ‘Lost’ history may also have been the most important episode in ‘Lost’ history (from a production standpoint, anyway).”
Sepinwall also has a cheat sheet of where all of the characters are at the beginning of season 5
And A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago’s Isaac Spaceman (no relation to 30 Rock’s Dr. Spaceman?) offers the single best summary of Lost to date. Previously on Lost, “JACK: Well, we lived on the beach, mostly, except for the time we lived in the cave with the skeletons and the time we lived in the secret underground bunker with the lending library and the time we lived in the village built by the scientists that the people who don’t age gassed to death with the help of their leader, my third nemesis, the nebbishy con man with spine cancer, which we took over when the freighter people came to kill everybody.”

I haven’t been so excited by a week of television in a while, and it is kind of sad. But to welcome Battlestar Galactica back for its final episodes, well, it’s exciting because the writers, producers, cast and crew have done a wonderful job in creating a show that isn’t afraid to challenge its viewers. Or to fail. And while it is a show that has its bad episodes, the good stuff is powerful.
But Galactica is also a show that’s inspired great commentary, criticism and community. And while I probably won’t blog much about the episodes, I will be reading the commentaries online.
Alan Sepinwall has a usually thorough review along with a critical mass of smart and engaged commenters. Battlestar Galactica, “Sometimes a Great Notion”: I can’t fight this feeling anymore
Todd VanDerWeff’s reviews at The House Next Door are generally very insightful. This one is no exception, BSG Saturdays: Season 4, Episode 11, “Sometimes a Great Notion”: “Battlestar Galactica gets a reputation for being a dark show, and some of that is well-deserved. It’s a show that examines some of the worst things human beings can do to each other, and it’s often unflinching in its gaze.”
VanDerWeff also interviewed BSG director Michael Nankin.
Time’s James Poniewozik tunes in with BSG Watch: Pleased to Meet Me.
But the winner of this week’s online criticism is the Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan, who interviewed Moore, Nankin, and writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle. ‘Battlestar Galactica’s’ Ron Moore addresses the shocking developments of ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’
And here’s Moore’s commentary:

So, during its election coverage last night, CNN debuted its new hologram technology that makes field reporters seem to be in the studio. Here’s the clip:

What’s the point of the hologram technology (which I assume involves the reporter/interviewee standing in front of a green screen)? If you’re sending a reporter into the field, isn’t showing what’s going on in the background around them providing more useful context to the viewer than just showing more of the studio set?
Maureen Ryan does think that there are some benefits to getting the correspondent out of the scrum and into a cordoned off area to give a more coherent report. But why the hologram? Why not have the correspondent do a voice over over footage of the event that she’s reporting?
What I found so aggravating about watching coverage (particularly of the speeches at the end of the night) was the need for the on-air personalities to make sure that there was someone talking at all times (Brian Williams and Katie Couric were the ones I noticed exhibiting this trait, but I just happened to be between NBC and CBS at the time). After Obama’s speech, instead of just showing the crowds and letting the viewers listen to their cheering, both Williams and Couric were talking about “what [Obama] must feel” and such.
This is a symptom of the same hubris that led to CNN’s expensive hologram. Instead of using the TV medium to show us the news and use visuals to provide useful analysis, the networks seem more obsessed with showing the importance their news teams coverage of events rather than the intrinsic importance of those events. Instead of sending more reporters and crews out in the field to get different opinions from the electorate, CNN spent that money on a hologram booth.
None of the channels I watched had much interesting to discuss during the lulls between reporting results. The exit poll demographics are moderately interesting. Some of the analysis can be useful (especially having someone like CNN’s Jeffery Toobin on hand to explain the legal issues of voting that might come up during the night.) But much of it is no more than pundits being in love with their own voices.
Fred Armisen playing with the touchscreen map on SNL’s Weekend Update may be one of the more perceptive media critiques of this campaign.

(The obvious headline shamelessly borrowed from Sepinwall)

All has been quiet on the blog front for me lately, because I’ve been too absorbed in catching up with the 5 seasons of The Wire that I somehow missed. How I managed to ignore the best and most important show on television is surprising, so I’ve been trying to catch up.
At this point, I’m up to the beginning of season 3. The first two seasons are full of brilliant little moments, broad strokes of observation about the global economy, modern urban crime environment, the criminal justice system and humanity with an attention to detail and continuity unmatched by another series on television. More than any other series (particularly because of the “naturalistic” approach to using music cues), The Wire feels immediate and real.
Watching TV on DVD is a fundamentally different experience than watching episodes as they first air. Instead of having a week or so to digest the last episode, you can jump right in and binge on a 3 episode marathon. For a hour-long drama on a commercial-free network, that translates to 3 hour viewing session. Sure, the average American television viewer watches 4 and a half hours of television per day, but 3 consecutive hours in a single evening is a lot.
The participatory aspect of talking about TV in person or on the internet is perhaps the main impetus for watching live– to be part of the community. There aren’t many live discussions going about shows that aired five years ago.
In contrast, for shows that are on now, being able to participate without being spoiled, is a major motivation for watching live or slightly delayed.
One of the leading contenders for title of “Best Show Currently on TV” is certainly Battlestar Galactica. (I’d put Lost, 30 Rock and The Office in the mix, too for different reasons.) Some insightful discussion of episode 4.01, “He That Believeth in Me” at Sepinwall and The House Next Door. Galactica composer Bear McCreary discusses the score on his blog.

Even with three months of the strike behind us, I’m still almost not quite caught up with Friday Night Lights. I started with the season 1 DVD in the fall and am now only two episodes behind with episodes.
But for everything that the series did right in season 1, season 2 just hasn’t clicked in the same way.
The football games have fallen to the background, which seems out of place when season 1 established that the most important thing in Dillon is Dillon HS football.
Or, as usual with most things TV-related, go read Sepinwall:

“I’ve had lots of problems with “FNL” season two, but none moreso than the way the show has completely lost track of the damn team. We’ve seen, what, six games in 13 episodes? (With Smash playing terribly in almost all of them, which makes his big college recruiting story seem doubly baffling.) And now there are only three more before the playoffs start? And we spend an entire episode with zero football action or practice, but with a subplot devoted to the girls’ volleyball team?
I know the company line is that “FNL” isn’t really about football, but that’s just a lie to lure in the people who would otherwise refuse to watch a show about football — and who, based on the ratings for season two, aren’t going to watch anyway. Season one was absolutely about football, and that’s what made it great. It was about how a town defined itself through this team and how the pressure of being that defining element shaped the lives of the coaches, the players and their friends and family. There was plenty of action that took place away from the gridiron, but the season was always there in the background. We were always aware of how the Panthers were doing, how Saracen and Smash and Riggins were playing, how secure Eric’s job was, etc.
Football was the foundation on which everything else was built, and now it’s become this obligatory thing that the writers feel like they have to bring up from time to time, when they’d rather be spending time on another romance or crime plot.”

The pressure on the coach and the team from the talk radio, boosters, and everyone else in Dillon shaped characters and relationships, but we haven’t seen that since Coach returned to Dillon. That’s one reason why the characters seem to be in a vacuum. Foorball is what brings everyone in Dillon together, and without it, the characters are all off in little groups doing their own thing without any other context.
If there’s going to be no attention to the football details that were the basis of the world of Dillon in season 1, why not keep season 2 in the same school year after the championship? This way, there’s no need to fudge that Riggins and Lyla weren’t also originally seniors in the same class as Street.
How does the show reboot for season 3 (assuming that there is one)? First, bring in new characters to fill in for Smash and Riggins on the team and maybe add some more non-QB, non-RB characters into the mix. A lineman, a wideout, a backup. At the same time, don’t lose Smash or Riggins. Wouldn’t The Smash not be quite the big fish in college he is in Dillon? How would Riggins deal with graduating and being stuck in Dillon (besides dating the MILF next door or living with the town Meth dealer)?