Talking cult of the presidency with the seconded greatest bearded hero of liberty. Please read all the Sheldon things. We have done other podcasts together, but usually one or both of us had a rotten connection. Still, watch and enjoy insightful commentary (him) and passionate ranting (her).

MV5BMTQ5MTE0MTk3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjczMzk2NTE@._V1_SX214_AL_I don’t remember the first time I watched Jurassic Park. I remember going to see Free Willy (yeah) while my cousin and brother saw it in theaters, and them discussing the t-rex spitting the bloody goat leg on the car on the ride home. I remember the first time I saw part of the film. I was in a department store with Joe, and on the TV screens was the scene where Timmy, Lex, and Dr. Grant are walking up the hill and Timmy is whining “I’m tired, I’m hot.” I asked Joe if that was the first time the t-rex appeared, and he said no. I even remember joyously opening a Christmas present of the VHS copy of the film. I just somehow don’t remember the first time I saw the movie I went on to watch 30 or 50 times over the next 12 years.

I could quote the movie in my sleep.  I could watch it in my head. Jesse Walker’s greatest flaw is his dislike of the movie. (Or you had to have been six in 1993.)

I watched The Lost World and defended it when I was 10, and then didn’t when I realized it sucked some time later. I reluctantly watched Jurassic Park III, and knew it was terrible but enjoyed the drive-in movie setting. I rolled my eyes at talk of still more sequels and had no interest in Jurassic World until — as with the new Star Wars preview — the familiar score in a slightly subtle trailer made me drool like Pavlov’s dog.

Must…watch…dinosaurs…

The derivative nature came through even in trailers. Chris Pratt is Dr. Grant, except he knows the dinosaurs’ nature in real life. Bryce Dallas Howard appears to be the new Hammond until you actually watch. Two generic kids are in peril — and their parents are even divorcing!

Still, the meta nature of this third sequel makes it more interesting suddenly. I knew we weren’t going to get the backstory of how dinosaurs became banal to the public, and how the disaster of the first park was PR-ed away. (The lawsuits alone….) But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want it. I laughed when the guy from New Girl who works as one of the tech guys is wearing a Jurassic Park shirt he got on ebay. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character — who basically is vaguely in charge of the park, without being in charge of the company of Ingen, we have a new Hammond for that — scolds the guy for wearing it because people died.

And that is before we even discuss some of the visual aping of the original film that got a little tiresome for someone who knows that film backwards and forwards. The final shot is like this. And a “sick dinosaurs are just animals” scene with Howard and Pratt does not work like Grant and the triceratops does in the first one. Possibly because the brontosaurus in this film is practically given cartoon eyelashes and a lolling puppy tongue.

But the worst of it comes in the second third of the movie, when the totally not credible 21st century version of the automated cars of the first one turns into “yeah, t-rexes sure love prying open vehicles to get at the delicious child innards.” The part where the brothers find the remains of the old Jurassic Park is kind of fun and pure fan service, except that it invites so many awkward questions. Did they really just leave all that shit there? Junked cars, the banner from that final shot, the merchandise? Why?

Much was made of the fact that Jurassic World has made a fake dinosaur. But within the movie, this works. And it works in a very Michael Crichton way. The man’s books — not just Jurassic Park — are full of descriptions of cold, calculating companies and their biotech plans which should alarm us all. Fish with advertisements in their skin, nanobots running amok, an ape-child, he was worried about this, and he was clearly quite willing to believe (at least in fiction) that these companies would top each other and go farther and farther. So, when Henry Wu (he’s back! and evil this time!) says “But you didn’t ask for reality, you asked for more teeth,  it’s not the only nod to the unreality of all the dinosaurs — not just the new spliced I-Rex.

This works in the Crichton-y world, even if it’s also cloyingly meta. It’s a good step to admit that this is a monster movie, not a dinosaur movie, both in the world and while watching in the audience. The absurd scene where the sea dino jumps and eats an entire Great White shark cements this. (It’s a monster movie, where the monsters are in pens, so forget the awkwardness of the first movie ruining people’s impressions of real dinosaurs perhaps forever. GRANT TOLD YOU THEY TURNED INTO BIRDS, DAMMIT.) And that is an appealing plot point that cries out for better worldbuilding — what does the world in which Jurassic World exists resemble? When these dinosaurs are normal, instead of a hushed up tragedy on a nearly empty island?

The movie won’t tell us. It’s a small world after all. Now, I like the banality of the dinosaurs in some ways. However, Boyfriend and I debated whether people would be sick of regular dinosaurs this quickly. This is still a park that requires a trip to Costa Rica and farther to visit. Meaning, this park “isn’t only for the super rich” but it is still going to cost a lot more than Disneyland does.  It would help with the believability if the audience knew exactly how long the park has been open, and how long dinosaurs as a fact have been around. Still, this strange marriage of a reboot and a sequel might be cynical and self-aware, but it works when we admit the characters want to keep audiences interested. The commies at Jabobin might think this condemns us all, but if they had committed to this, if there were more world-building and more scenes of conversation, it might really work. Instead, we have villains eaten hastily by raptors before too much plot can come out.

What of our characters? Irrfan Khan is the new eccentric, decent, but childish billionaire who owns the place. He’s…sufficiently different. Pratt and Howard are both Dr. Grant in parts. Howard manages the place, and is therefore also rigid John Hammond. But she is also the Dr. Grant because her character — buttoned up woman in heels clashing with wild man, we have seen this before, yes — has no idea how to interact with kids. This time it’s her sister’s sons. And the movie is judging her hard at the start, just because she isn’t maternal. It’s not terribly sexist, though. Her arch is the same as any male character’s who needs to be a hero and step up to save the kids — again, this is just Dr. Grant (arguably, she should care more since they’re relatives, and they’re just Hammond’s nephews in the first one. But also, Grant’s conflict over kids is with his significant other and the kids themselves. Howard’s character basically is told by her sister that she’s going to have kids someday so she will stop being such a bitch. Whatever, Judy Greer.)

And as someone on Twitter noted last week, the movie puts Howard in impossible heels, then mocks her for it. But she’s actually the most likable character in the end, and the one who doesn’t just stand still. Nobody said she’s about to get knocked up because she saves her nephews — much like Grant being heroic doesn’t mean he’s suddenly a goofy suburban dad because he didn’t let two random kids die. Plus, she’s competent and doesn’t really need a lot of rescuing. She’s arguably more competent than Ellie Sattler in the first film, and I have always been fond of her. (“Look, we can discuss sexism in survival situations when I get back” is something I should say more often.)

My favorite plot and visual theft from the original film is when Howard plays Grant/Ian Malcolm and lures the t-rex with a flair — while Chris Pratt’s character is hiding with the kids! It is satisfying that Hollywood has given the ladies a chance to play dinosaur tag. It’s probably the high point of the movie.

(On the other hand, Bustle needs to accept that yes, Howard’s character was dressed for a business meeting, not dinosaur fleeing but it’s not a fucking feminist victory to wear hideous, bad for you shoes while in jungle setting just because it’s harder than wearing hiking boots. Please do not try to brand heels in the worst settings as some kind of victory, because I will laugh in all your faces and at third wave feminism in general. Feminine women can be bad-ass as well is not the same as you can do something epic while wearing ankle-breaking shoes! You’re a real woman of 2015! I punch everything.)

Weirdly, buff Chris Pratt has not won my heart as he has the rest of America’s. He’s not Andy Dwyer anymore, and he hasn’t pulled off the roguish action star thing as much as he thinks. There’s a lingering charmlessness there now. Or a lack of charisma with his onscreen romances. Sorry, America. He’s no Harrison Ford. He’s not even Sam Neill. The romance between Pratt and Howard is tepid to decent. Their first scene together is bad, and the banter completely falls flat, however it improves a bit as things go along. A bit.

What else? The military industrial complex evil plot doesn’t work (weaponized raptors, people).  They should have stuck with Ingen is scary, period. Stuck with Crichton’s strengths with his fears of biotech run wild.

Now, Chris Pratt on a motorcycle leading a pack of raptors is something we need in the internet age. It’s a meme come to life. And it’s not as dumb as it should be, like much of this movie. If these things are supposed to be as smart as an ape and as fast as a cheetah, some tentative training being possible is believable enough. You can train a bear or a lion, but it might eat you at a moment’s notice. Also, Chris Pratt on a motorcycle riding with raptors. That, America, cannot be denied.

The movie looks good. The effects are good, though I swear a brief shot of gallimimus who are “flocking this way” looks less real than in the first one. The final fight between all our favorite predators is excessive, but it doesn’t resemble one big cut scene, or one big Michael Bay wet-dream or any of the worst things action scenes in 2015 are like.

But at the end of the day, the movies is thin.  The characterization is so much weaker than in the first film. Pratt has less heart than minor characters like Robert “clever girl” Muldoon and less prickle that turns around than Grant. He is static, except for his affection for Howard. The kids are devices, not characters, even if they’re borderline ’90s annoying in the original. The billionaire is likable, but he’s sure as hell not Richard Attenborough just killing it through the whole movie. The flea circus scene with the ice cream? Come on, people. It’s fantastic.

And a thousand lawyer jokes notwithstanding — or the, shall we say, toilet humor of his death. Even though it’s still gruesome in a PG-13 way — the man who plays Gennaro in the first movie gives it his all. He is a person, even if he’s a sleazy lawyer person. Jurassic World has a surprisingly low death count, but the cartoon-gratuitous death of Howard’s British assistant who has almost no lines, but loses the kids, is surprisingly mean-feeling. It’s as if it came from another, even worse film.

The trailer’s hints that thousands of people will under dino attack is a bit of a red herring. We have our stock group, and a few faceless soldier types. Strangely, this is almost a small movie. I don’t know why it feels that way, but it does. Perhaps because, though it has some fun moments, and I did flinch during tense dinosaur times, it is just another seasick mixture of a reboot and a sequel. The movie is about as long as Jurassic Park, the cast is much bigger, but Jurassic World doesn’t feel like we evolved into anything at the end. We’ve stalled. We’re just having a little more fun as the wheels spin than we might have.

1x04_0192

Caps via: http://cccc.1121.org/

Episode four:”Walls of Jericho”

“Five days after the bomb” and one day after the fallout, and HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT. Eric and Jake are watching a video at Mary’s bar, and it’s one of the creepiest images the show has ever portrayed. Everything is red and on fire and panic. It’s disturbingly vague, but suggests the worst things. Eric guesses it’s Cincinatti they’re seeing, and Mary marks a question mark on the map. So, here we are in Jericho, and nobody knows anything, but that they do know looks scary as fuck. That’s how you do end of the world stuff, people. Vagueness and nightmares are key.

1x04_0039Stanley and Bonnie roll in and Stanley stares drearily at the video. He says “makes you wonder what happened to whoever shot this.” Hawkins responds as disturbingly as possible, “I think that might have been the last thing they ever saw.” No explanation as to where the video came from, but in its unknown context, and its terrible ted tint, it does its intended job.

Mary and Eric are boring, but then Mary’s generator runs out, and the bar closes. Jake meets Heather outside and walks her home. SHE’S ACTUALLY CUTE, DAMMIT. They are cute together, and I never appreciated this upon watching previously. This fact makes me dislike concerned ex-girlfriend Emily, even if she is arguably the most competent female character. (Well, the most gun-toting.)

Heather and Jake talk about Jake’s old life in town, and they walk past the boarded up cybercafe, and discuss the health code-violating Pizza Garden. It’s nice until a man with horrible burns on his face staggers into view and asks for help. Heather goes to find some, which is Bonnie, the two remaining cops, and Stanley.

Bill the jerkcop won’t touch the radioactive dude. Neither will Jimmy! Copfail. They’re already making lines between Jericho and the outside world, but Stanley and Jake are too farmboy pure for that.

Eric and his wife are fighting at the clinc, because he was chilling with his mistress (not that wife knows that). Radioactive dude is carried in.

Capitalism, Dale, capitalism is man's greatest achievement.

Capitalism, Dale, capitalism is man’s greatest achievement.

DoubtyourcommitmenttoSparkleMotionGracie is creeping around her store in the dark. Dale startles her, but it’s good because holy shit he brought all the food from the crashed train! How did he carry it all? Plot holes? Dale is the best capitalist. The best homesteader of lost food. Gracie taught him well.

April, Eric, Mayor Green, Jake and Gail are staring at RadioactiveMan. Everyone is wondering how close the guy was to the blast. Jake and Stanley are sent to wash off any potential radiation. April and Gail worry about the preemie who needs to keep breathing. Babies.

Hey Hawkins, what are you doing in your creepy basement? Your annoying son wants something.

Jimmy and Bill talk with Mayor Green about how Gray Anderson hasn’t been heard from since last episode, how the tanks seen could be from Iran, North Korea, Al-Qaeda, or China’s invasion.

Damp Skeet Ulrich has a moment with Heather. Somethin’ for the ladies and some of the fellas, I guess. Heather has a good idea about siphoning gas from cars, and pumping gas from the underground storage tanks at the local gas station so that the hospital generators will keep going.

Bonnie is staring at RadioactiveMan, worrying about how Stanley might still be sick, and whether “this is how they die.” She says “take care of him.” Next scene, though, is Eric and Jake arguing about what can be done for the guy. Jake being the hot-head martry says they can’t let him die, but Eric being kind of a douche says they should give the guy drugs and keep him comfortable. But Jake is on it, and he’s going for Heather’s plan to get more gas.

RadioactiveMan is awake! His name is Victor, and he is here to croak out a terrifyingly cryptic message of “they’re coming.”

Jake and Heather have to talk the gas guy into letting them take the gas. “I could be fired” he says — and he pulls it off more than most actors might — and Jake says “With all due respect, who is going to fire you? It’s a different world.” As much as NOBODY on this show is ever as panicked as they should be, this guy is pulling off the “I need to do my job still because denial is better” cluelessness nicely. Heather says they’ll even leave an IOU. “They’re never coming back — the district manager — are they?” Says gas guy. No, sir. I think the gas is yours then, maybe. But whatever.

Oh hey, Hawkins is quizzing his family on their new, fake lives. Creepy. Sam the boy is messing up, and the teen girl (What is her name, God damn it?) is ranting at the bullshit quality of all this. But hey, Jimmy is here and he wants to get Hawkins, since he “was a cop in St. Louis.” (Was he, though?) Hawkins is waffling. Jimmy needs someone to “show people there is still law and order in this town.” Sort of grudgingly, Hawkins accepts.

Gracie is refusing Eric and his request to donate gas to the clinic. She’s terrible, but she’s right. She did give her whole damn store to the town. I do love that this show deals with the push and pull of individual survival versus collective, and it kind of gives credence to concerns over both.

Science problems! They’re siphoning gas, but Heather says metal is going to spark and cause a fire. Jake the martyr pushes Stanley out of the way because he likes his sibling a lot better than Jake likes his. At Gracie’s, Skyler trades a party invite for Hawkins’ teen daughter’s last of the chips. Good capitalist Skyler.

Gail is sitting by RadioactiveMan, but he’s coding because the generator is out of gas. Gail used to be a nurse, though! She’s got this, because nobody else is there. This clinic appears to have only one doctor, and it’s April. And babies are cuter than dudes with radiation burns.

Jake rushes into the clinic with gas. Hawkins’ daughter shows up at Skyler’s. RadioactiveMan is back from being dead for two minutes. Eric rushes in to say he got gas, but oops, April doesn’t care, because Jake got the clinic some gas by risking explosions!, and Eric got it by asking people politely. Boring. So boring. Your husband is boring.

Men not listening to a woman about science.

Men not listening to a woman about science.

Skyler’s horrible, too horrible to be believed friend is mocking Skyler and Dale’s burgeoning romance. Bitchy girl, both their parents are probably dead. Popularity just doesn’t mean what it once did, okay? Skyler still says “just go home” to Dale. Kids, the world got nuked. Stop.

Victor is flailing in bed, and Jakes asks him who is coming. “They…need help” says Victor. “Twenty from Denver.” They’re at a lake with a dock. And “they” have Victor’s daughter.

Skyler defending her property rights in the face of law enforcement oppression.

Skyler defending her property rights in the face of law enforcement oppression.

Jimmy comes to Skyler’s house to shut down her party and to ask how much gas she is using. She says it’s her gas and generator. And…it is. She’s still dumb, though. Hawkins arrives and sends his daughter home.

The cops did something useful and have Victor’s wallet. Hawkins totally recognizes him, but won’t say anything because Mystery.

The cops want to wake up Victor, but April says no way because of his pain. Mary and Emily watch the scary red video again and talk about it. “What if they all come here” Mary asks. They’re not gonna. They’re dead. Scary Hawkins knows this. Mary and Eric talk about something. I fall asleep. Has an end of the world affair ever been less interesting?

Back to the clinic. I forget why the cops think that the missing Shep was killed by Victor, but there is another fight over waking him up when he’s covered in radiation burns. “He’s going to die anyway, but he could save some people’s lives” says Hawkins. He also wants to “do this himself” which isn’t suspicious at all. April is pissed. Eric grabs her arm like an asshole and says “We need information. He could be a murderer” “And that gives you the power to do anything you want?” his wife asks in rage. “Yes” says Eric. And I have never liked April more for hating her husband right now.

1x04_1408Jake is interrogating Victor about the people in trouble. Hawkins sends him away to get morphine, and then he morphs into Mysterious Sinister Hawkins. “We said family only, hmm? Why? Why did you go back to Denver?” He says scarily. “I couldn’t let them die” says Victor. “Now we’re a man down” says Hawkins. “Someone flipped…there’s a traitor.” says Victor. “Do you know who it was?” asks Hawkins. Victor’s heart rate is going up. Oh, his skull is gross and pink. Annnd Victor is dead. And Hawkins is what? A foreign agent? Because Lennie James is secretly (dun dun dun) BRITISH?!

“We had to do it” says Eric. April stares more daggers. You go, girl.

Back at the store, Gracie tells Dale he’s worth ten of Skyler. The implication is it’s a class thing, I think. Dale isn’t just unpopular, but poor. Somehow I missed this before, because I am an idiot.

Oh, Hawkins might be evil, but he’s being nice to his daughter. He’s telling her she can’t just go to parties, because that puts them all in danger.  Being creepy-quiet-nice-but-menacing, Hawkins adds “And if you pull something like this again, girl, you have no idea how scared you’ll be.” And then he kisses her head. Cringe.

Jake the do-gooder has gone to Mary’s bar to ask for volunteers, and turns off the TV which is repeating the scary footage. He’s…excessive. He learned from his Pa. And pragmatically, he might be wrong. But he means well. And nobody really gets how bad things are in their weird bubble. After a silence, Jake starts to give up, then Mary says she’ll donate gas, and Emily will come along! Good. Ladies with the feelings for the people outside of town. And now more people will help. Posers.

A group drives in cop cars, then crosses the hill, and it seems okay, but the people are all lying dead in the grass. They’ve died of radiation poisoning, as Mayor Green notes in scene that switches back and forth between the meadow and church.

1x04_1799

This town cannot do anything without me.

People with missing or dead family stand. And they “stand because we know that every life matters….The battle ahead is not just for our survival, it’s for our humanity.” You’re not wrong, Mayor. But it’s awkward because the town has sort of been in denial until now. Maybe they get it finally.

In his speech, Mayor Green hits the implied Testament/Rod Serling message right on the nose, and it’s also the message of the episode — along with “us versus them” questions which are helpfully voiced out loud by the dumb-ass deputies. Still, following that idealistic path is going to be harder and hard for people as the situation gets more dire, just as it would be in real life.

Outside church, Emily kisses Jake on the cheek and says he’s a good man for trying to help someone he didn’t know. He smiles goofily. Oh, Skeet. Sometimes your acting is weird. And your bug eyes don’t help when that happens.

Hawkins is in his basement writing creepy messages. There’s a traitor. “The rally point is no longer secure.” And then in whiplash mood, he goes talk to his son, and starts to quiz him about his fake background. Sam gets it right. “Who loves you more than anyone else in the world?” Hawkins then asks. “You” says Sam. “And who is always going to take care of you?” “Mommy.” Welp. You’re not wrong, kid. And yet, there is a lot more to discover about dear old dad.

folderiex(Oh. Welp. So much for my attention span. I had other plans for this rewatch, including folks watching with me, and also my thyroid is evil, and such. But never mind. Pardon the delay, and I don’t promise it won’t happen again, but I’ll try to avoid it.

Back to Jericho. Back to our friend Skeet. Back to his whiny, self-righteous family. Back to the myriad characters who are vaguely annoying, and back to the mysteriously awesome whole. And if you forget where we are, go over here and then here.)

Episode 3: “Four Horsemen”

After a “previously” montage, we open with creepy music and rain falling remorselessly down. The mysterious Hawkins is braving the fallout in the air in order to move something to somewhere. He’s got the end of the world aesthetic down, with radiation suit, gloves, and gas mask. It’s 18 hours after the bomb. He’s taking something from a Ryder truck — anyone who has overstudied Oklahoma City is creeped out by those things on principle. There’s never anything good in them.

And then we’re back in Stanley and Bonnie’s basement, where blonde schoolteacher Emily is still a bit catatonic because she was forced to shoot one of the convicts who were holding her and Bonnie hostage in the last episode. Mr. Cop Who Isn’t Jimmy says he’s never killed anyone, and he’s a cop. Jericho is definitely your tiny midwestern town. (Hell, someone like that maybe would never fire their gun on duty.) Bonnie points out that Stanley doesn’t know that the rain is radioactive. Jake calls Eric to say that the people he sealed in the salt mine last minute have been in their too long. They’re dirty and it’s claustrophobic — but only CBS claustrophobic. It would be a lot more nightmarish in real life, but what on this show wouldn’t be?

Mr. Rooney — whose job I forget — is busy terrifying the children with his anxiety attack. Heather tries to console him, but it’s clear that he’s That Guy. The one who snaps. Be it alien invasion, war, or what have you, there’s got to be a manly man who snaps.

Stanley is back and he’s soaked. Uh oh. Jake tells Bonnie not to touch him, then radios his sister in law April the doctor. She tells Stanley to drink iodine and peaches. Stanley saw tanks “hailing ass towards Denver.” Who is out there, and are they friendly? April says if Stanley throws up in the next 20 minutes he’s going to die. Which seems slightly presumptuous, to be sure about that. And the cut to commercial music gets excessive, and we cut to “Jericho” and — according to the closed captioning — “(static hissing and syncopated beeping.)” Apparently there are secret messages, because that’s actual morse code. I don’t know — my knowledge starts and ends with dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot — but I like the simplicity of the caption’s explanation.

Mr. Rooney or Reney? It’s Reney. He’s going nuts, and Gray Anderson and some dude named Shep drag him away from the townspeople. It’s creepy. Mayor Green is still hacking from flu. Jake radios and wants to find out what the tanks are about. Jake says he’s going to Goodland when the rain stops to see what’s up. Emily says she’s coming as well, to find her fiancee who was supposed to fly into Topeka. Jake does his benevolent patriarchal, ex-boyfriend thing, but then gives in.

Back in the shelter, Eric tells IRS lady she can’t smoke in the shelter. I don’t care how citified you are, or how stressed you are, duh. Eric, April, and Gail (I had to Google her name) joke together about how “the mighty Johnston Green [was] felled by the flu.” Eric’s mistress and Mimi the IRS woman stare daggers at them all.

Back in Skyler’s fancy house, there’s overly cute poppy music playing. Skyler gives Dale a stale poptart. Things are looking up. Everyone is dead, but maybe Dale can finally score this hottie. This is very important.

Ooh, finally, a little context to this terrible thing that has happened. Gail is telling Mayor Green about how they used to hide under desks when they were kids. “Yeah, duck and cover” he says sadly. “That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw that mushroom cloud — did they have enough time to hide under their desks? That’s pretty stupid, huh?” “No” Mayor Green says, and then coughs. His wife pets his head. It’s actually a great scene. Duck and cover is in the top three of Cold War cliches, but this scene and the killer acting from Pamela Reed sells itself perfectly. The Cold War tropes and fears have become real, and it makes sense that when there’s finally a moment of quiet, you might start to think about that. I only wish there were more scenes like this, where people seem to almost understand that a 60 year nightmare has finally come to life.

Aaannnd, Eric’s mistress Mary the tavern wench is whining about Eric not leaving his wife. Boring, boring, boring. Go back to cold war terrors, plz.

Back in the root cellar with Stanley. He tells Jake not to let Bonnie see his lips, and that he’s feeling sick and nauseated. But the storm is over!

Eric goes outside with a geiger counter and, like, his sleeve over his face. Very high-tech. But it’s ok! Everyone in the town shelter follows. IRS Mimi touches a column and her hand gets covered in “black stuff.” Mary says “that used to be Denver.” Yeesh. Mimi’s face is a good response.

Jake is being In Charge guy, sending everyone to the medical clinic, while he goes to save the people from the claustrophobia of the salt mine. People are drilling, stand back, you Kansas rubes. Damn. Who else would it be?

Why are Eric and Jake going in first? Are there no miners, or construction workers? Do Greens have to do everything in this town? Hey, look, Jake and Heather still have way better chemistry than he does with Sad Emily.

Oops, Mr. Reney is dead. :( Heather knows this is a bad scene.

The clinic is full of people. Stanley is isolated in the children’s ward. He threw up because he drank a bunch of iodine. He wants to go back to the farm and delivers a terrible line about spider powers. Jake affectionately says “you’re still an idiot, so that’s a good sign” and I am reminded that these two also have good chemistry, and in spite of being old friends in the show, don’t really have enough moments together. (Jake, your family is terrible.)

Mimi is chasing April around being neurotic about having touched the column. She also points out that she can’t go home, because she’s from DC. Heather interrupts to ask about Mr. Reney, who has had a heart attack. Heather still smells bullshit. Gray Anderson lurking in either a sinister or guilty way isn’t helping.

Skyler and Dale are playing cards cutely and eating m&ms. The end of the world memo has not teached these teens. But oops, Skyler’s terrible friends who are even less aware that shit has gotten real in the past day come to the house to scold her for hanging out with undesirables like Dale. Good thing they’re not in this show much!

Mayor Green is trying to run things, but he’s sick, and his wife threatens to take his pants. It’s a cute exchange. Maybe Eric is the only entirely lame member of this family. Jake has a plan. People need to go out in four directions in order to get information. Gray is going one way, the dude who was with Mr. Reney is going another, Jake and Emily are going south. Gray darkly suggests they’re “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” “Let’s hope not” says Jake.

Dudes are at Mary’s bar trying to get her sattelite dish working. But Mary is shunning Eric. It’s boring and I don’t care, until a Chinese or Korean newscaster appears out of the static on the TV. The map of the US behind him has some scary red target marks. Everyone in the bar is wide-eyed — Skeet Ulrich most of all, but that’s nothing new. After one terrifyingly clear shot, the static comes back. There’s a smattering of fearful outcries. Hawkins says that was indeed Chinese,  Mandarin to be precise — he always knows too much — and Jake asks “are they just reporting it, or are they behind it?” Is America being invaded? No one knows. They’ve lost another horseman. There’s an argument about going out and Jake says “if this country is at war, we need to know it!” (Evergreen sentiments, am I right, folks?)

Mary and Heather try to figure out what cities they saw reded out on the TV. Hawkins meets Jake (finally!) and offers to be one of the drivers, but Jake refuses him when he says he has family.

Heather asks the non-Gray Anderson guy why Mr. Rennie (it’s Rennie) is dead. Dude is looking mighty guilty. Gray Anderson interrupts. Heather keeps looking suspicious.

Jake chases down Emily who is freaking out about her fiance. She is sure he’s dead, and Jake reassures her that they don’t know. Maybe Roger’s plane landed in a cornfield. “He’s gone, and I’ve here with you. You were the one who was supposed to be dead, not him.” Emily says bitterly. Jake should go without her.

Dale comes back to the store where DoubtYourCommitmenttoSparkleMotionGracie is staring at her sadly empty shelves. Gail arrives to bring back some of the food that was in the shelters. But Gracie still hardly has any food, and what she has is going bad. Gail says they should cook it.

Stanley find Mimi crying about her radiation poisoning, and is nice because “maybe I’m a nicer person than you.” Everyone is a nicer person than IRS agents, Stanley. “You’re really sweet,” Mimi says, “and you still owe the IRS $180,000.”

Shep is writing a letter before he leaves on his four horsemen mission. Uh oh.

Mayor Green thanks Gray for going, then asks what happened to Mr. Rennie. Gray Anderson says “poor planning” killed Rennie. Gray Anderson is both petty and political and kind of right, because those fallout shelters were NOT maintained. Mayor Green has a point when he throws Gray against a wall in his office, however, and says that the people in town need both of them to not be petty dickheads.

Heather gets Shep’s letter, and it basically says that it was his fault about Rennie, and that he was too scared to call a doctor. This dude is a plot device, but still I feel bad.

The cops and Eric are charting the progress of the men. Shep’s radio is cracking up and he says “tell my family I’m sorry.” Obviously, Gray hears it on his own route, but denies it, which is the worst thing he’s done so far.

Jake pulls over. An entire plane is in the road, but with emergency slides inflated (so that could be worse). In the background, another plane is in worse shape. Those of us afraid of flying now feel slightly sick.

Back in town, everybody is cooking the meat that will soon go bad. But Gail has some corn, which is not going to go bad, so that’s stupid. Jake comes back to town with the black box from the plane. He says the planes are empty. Mayor Green remembers to kick two random little girls out the room, which makes sense. The confused pilot chatter is unsettling, and then it’s clear — one of them sees the mushroom cloud over Denver. Another saw another cloud near Texas. Jake explains to the other people that the pilots are fucked because there’s no air traffic control.  Hawkins offers creepily “there’s ten thousands planes with nowhere to land. That’s about a million people in the air.” Yeesh. And it gets worse with the emergency landing. The room looks freaked out while they listen, and I don’t blame them, but dammit, shit is way worse than this, people. MUSHROOM CLOUDS HAPPENED.

Jake is on the case, though. He rewinds again and again, and calls Emily. Oh hello, her fiance’s plane set down in a field. “He’s alive” he says nicely. Emily is sort of annoying, but I am still happy for her.

Hawkins is doing creepy stuff in the basement. His wife mentions the “cook all the meat before it spoils” town party. “It sounded like Sam Cooke from here, but it could be Kenny Rogers” she says, and they laugh together. “Oh Lord” says Hawkins. Because white people in the midwest, ya’ll. Darcy says “the children would like to go” to the party, but Hawkins puts his foot down, they’re not ready with their fake back stories. Darcy gives in, and the moment is spoiled by TOO MUCH MYSTERY.

And the party to set to another, worse pop song. This show had an addiction. Dale passes by Skyler and her cool friends playing cards. Dale goes to hang by Gracie, who is unpleasant, but his devotion to her is kind of interesting. She says she’s glad there was enough food for everyone, but “a thank you would have been nice.” You’re right, Gracie. Your devotion to property rights is inspiring.

IRS Mimi stares at Stanley and is charmed by his goofiness. Bonnie knows this is bullshit. Mary flirts with some other dude, and Eric ignores his wife who is trying to tell him about the hospital. Heather and Jake sit together, and talk about Emily, who Jake says he owed. When Heather says “I’d say this makes you even” he says “not even close.” SUCH MYSTERY. And yet I still care a lot more about Jake and Heather. Stick with your lost fiancee, Emily.

Mayor Green is watching the party dourly and says “It might be a long time before we see Jericho like this again.” Yerp. And ya’ll shouldn’t be eating stuff like corn that won’t spoil tomorrow.

Bad, generic upbeat pop-rock song plays and plays. Terrible.

HAWKINS IS MOVING SOMETHING HEAVY AND CYLINDRICAL IN HIS BASEMENT. He’s putting up a new wall. Shit. Such a mysterious guy.

Shot of empty town square with tables and grills invites the question, why are those lights still on? Do you people think you have generator gasoline to spare?

Eric wakes up next to Mary and he has to go and I don’t care.

ANOTHER song plays as Dale the burgeoning business-teen FINDS THE SUPPLY TRAIN OUTSIDE TOWN! It crashed. Good job, Dale. I will allow this up-tempo tune because Dale has found all that Dinty Moore stew.

From Life Magazine

From Life Magazine

DJ Stagger Lee returns to WPTS radio this summer. The plan is again to play old time, country, blues, and sprinkles of punk. You can request, and I can do my best to oblige.

Listen over here on Fridays from 5 PM to 7 PM.

The Huffington Post turns ten this week.

It’s seen by lots more eyeballs and it’s much better looking and reading than it was at its birth, when it was nothing but a lot of hype and hope and the political scribblings of celebrities. But the HuffPo is still just a liberal pimple on the big conservative ass of the Drudge Report.

I wasn’t going to celebrate the birthday of Arianna Huffington’s love child, but over the weekend The Today Show, or whatever it’s called by NBC, apparently spoke my name during its celebration.

I didn’t see or hear what Today said about me to the whole nation.

I hear they took a line or two out of context from the critical but fair and balanced magazine column I wrote about HuffPo’s birth to show what a big dummy I was for failing to predict it’d live to see its tenth birthday.

I forgot what I wrote on May 15, 2005,  but I looked it up and here it is:

Huffing & Puffing & Disappointing

Matt Drudge can sleep easy.

Arianna Huffington’s much ballyhooed “Huffington Post” — a new Web site whose chief gimmick is a Malibu Beach party’s worth of celebrity bloggers — is no threat.

If you haven’t heard, huffingtonpost.com features the daily blathering of scores of La-La-Landers — Rob Reiner, Bill Maher, John Cusack, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, et al. — and scores of savvy inner-Beltway politicos such as David Corn, Mike McCurry, Joe Scarborough and Danielle Crittenden.

From the advance hype, you’d have thought that the multiblog site, which debuted Monday, was going to do for the blogosphere what CNN did for TV news. It won’t.

It’s way too early to declare it a flop. But it’s easy to see why the media criticism has run from brutally cruel to “Could this possibly be this dull and uninformative forever?”

Not every celebrity embarrasses himself.

Quincy Jones’ rumination on Michael Jackson’s sordid decline is wise, but contains so much God-talk he may have his star on Hollywood Boulevard removed.

“Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David’s defense of U.N. Ambassador-designate John Bolton as a fellow abuser-of-employees is clever satire.

Rob Reiner’s ranting about the news media being stooges of the Bush administration and voters being misled on Iraq, etc., etc., would make a great sendup of a demented Hollywood liberal, except he’s being serious.

Reiner’s meat-headed rant gives credence to L.A. Weekly Nikki Finke’s conspiratorial suspicion that Arianna is now “a conservative mole.” Finke, a business/political columnist, covering entertainment, wrote in her Huffington Post-trashing column that the Greek-born author-pundit “has served up liberal celebs like red meat on a silver platter for the salivating and Hollywood-hating right wing to chew up and spit out.”

Finke could be right. Maybe Arianna — who has morphed from the right-wing conservative spouse of a multimillionaire Republican congressman to a divorced big-government progressive do-gooder — is a double agent for her mid-’90s pal, Newt.

There’s no doubt celebrities are going to be eaten alive by the pros — the politicians, pundits and journalists — Arianna invited to her 300-ring circus. Byron York has already bitten into sports guy Jim Lampley, who opined in his blog that he still thinks Bush stole Ohio last fall.

And conservative Danielle Crittenden, who knows how to mock Hollywood, blogged a clever parody memo to President Bush that plugs a new movie whose heroine is a brave, pro-life Republican congresswoman who fights for family values.

Assembling scores of celebrity bloggers in one place sounds like a really good idea — until you go there and find it’s mostly just a bunch of people with little to say talking to themselves.

At huffingtonpost.com , more is much less. There’s no strong single point of view, which is what all the best blogs have. There’s virtually no interaction or squabbling between libs and conservatives. Libertarians, as usual, apparently weren’t invited.

Arianna’s got lots of tinkering to do before she provides anything close to “a tantalizing mixture of politics, wit and wisdom.” She has to learn how to be an editor and a better ringmaster.

Maybe she’ll figure it out. Meantime, her Internet Free Hollywood may do America some good by forcing the cloistered Hollywood community to debate some nonliberal arguments and ideas it’s not used to even hearing.

Reads pretty good to me.