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Preview: Boston Phoenix - Television

Boston Phoenix - Television


Let’s get Lost

January 6 - 12, 2006

Let’s get Lost
The cult hit spawns a wanna-be

Television is a funny and unapologetic thing. Every season, there’s a left-field hit, an unexpected cult favorite that’s then ripped off and watered down by rival networks and even by the network of origin, as in the case of the Law & Order franchise. In the early 2000s, it was the reality-show boom; more recently, the alphabet soup of CSI knockoffs permeated the tube. Last season’s surprise supernatural success, Lost (which resumes with new episodes beginning January 11 at 9 pm on ABC), has inspired no fewer than three imitators — two of which will be off the air by the time you read this.

But even as Lost’s knockoffs sputter and fail, the originator is going stronger than ever. Now in its second season, the half-thriller/half-drama has built its reputation and attracted its rabid fan base through a myriad of twists and secrets. To try to summarize the show at this point would be a bit like trying to edit the Bible down to a few paragraphs. Oceanic Flight 815 was boun

Rule, Britannia!

November 4 - 10, 2005

Rule, Britannia!
More comedy from the BBC

David Brent started a revolution. Ever since 2001, when Ricky Gervais made waves as the pudgy, petulant boss in The Office, America’s interest in British comedy has been reinvigorated. Maybe it’s a matter of freshness. The Office and Extras are uncomfortable and contemporary, the British answers to Curb Your Enthusiasm, whereas before we’d been getting Are You Being Served? reruns. Or perhaps it’s just that basic cable has now put BBC America a click away — we’re light years from the old rabbit-ear days of Fawlty Towers on PBS. Or it could be simpler still: Britcoms are now making the leap to Region 1 DVD faster than ever, sometimes mere months after the series finishes airing. Nothing breeds obsession like accessibility.

Of course, there’s no better way to ensure viewers’ future allegiance than showing them what they’ve missed in the past. At least, that seems to be the logic behind releasing the DVD of 1994’s Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge

Life after high school

September 9 - 15, 2005

Life after high school
Rory Gilmore’s early-20s crisis

For the past five seasons, Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) of the WB’s Gilmore Girls (Tuesdays at 8 pm) has been that TV rarity: the realistically drawn smart girl. She’s an indie-rocking reader who wants to be the next Christiane Amanpour, and her plot lines revolve around school, with boys a distant second. There are some chinks in the good-girl armor, however, and as Rory has floundered at Yale, Girls creator Amy Sherman Palladino has shown us a young woman becoming unmoored in the throes of an early-20s crisis.

Girls premiered in 2000 on the fledgling, critically maligned WB and established itself as a reason to watch. Rory and her hot thirtysomething mom, Lorelai (Lauren Graham), are more like best friends, trading quips and coffee in bucolic small-town Connecticut. Runaway Lorelai had Rory at 16, and she’s trying to reconcile with her snobby society parents while her daughter tries to figure out her own relationship with them.

Last season ended with Lorelai proposing to