Feb 18, 2023

The 9 Worst TV Series Finales in History

If you watch every episode of a 100-episode sitcom, you've spend 2300 minutes or nearly 40 hours, not including reruns.  That's the equivalent of 19 feature-length movies or 11 novels. A suzeable chunk of your life.

If it was a 60-minute dramatic series, make that 38 feature length movies and 22 novels.  

Then comes the series finale.  There will be no more episodes.

You know the characters better than many of your real-life friends.  Saying goodbye is going to be painful.

For years you've set aside a special part of your week for the program.  You rarely missed it, and when you did, you taped it to watch later.  You watched all of the summer reruns.There will be a hole in your life for quite some time.

So you sit down for the series finale, hoping for a warm, funny, memorable sendoff.  But instead, you get garbage.  Mind-destroying, depressing, confusing, WTF garbage.

May 10, 1983: Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983).  A sitcom about two bromantic "girlfriends" sharing an apartment in 1950s Milwaukee, right?  Except by 1983, there was just Laverne, it was Los Angeles, and the heart of the 1960s (Laverne's boyfriend is a Star Trek fan).  Way to destroy your premise.

But the series finale isn't even about that; it's about Laverne's singer/dancer/male prostitute friend Carmine going to New York to audition for Hair.  

We don't find out if he got the role or not. And we don't see his nude scene.

May 21, 1990: Newhart (1982-1990): For eight years, Bob Newhart played the owner of a bed and breakfast in a small New England town full of quirky residents, whom you grew fond of over the years.  Who can forget "I'm Larry, and this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl?"

But on May 21st, 1990, Bob wakes up in bed as Dr. Bob Hartley, the psychologist in his old series, and tells his old wife, Emily, "What a dream I had!"  Way to destroy beloved characters, Bob!

July 20, 1994: Dinosaurs (1991-1994).  A nuclear family spoof starring cute, cuddly dinosaurs in ABC's kid-friendly Friday night lineup.  Remember "I'm the baby, gotta love me"?

How best to end the hearwarming series:  how about with a eco-catastrophe that kills every dinosaur on the planet?  Including the entire Sinclair family?  Including the baby?

May 20, 1997: Roseanne (1988-1997).  The queen of lower-middle class urban blight and her ragtag family spent eight seasons being the anti-Cosbys, not affluent, or educated, or elegant.  It featured Johnny Galecki as a teenager with a terrible hairdo.  Then Roseanne wins the lottery, and spends the last season hob-nobbing with the rich and famous.

That's not the worst of it, though -- in the last episode, we are told that this has all been a story that Roseanne has written.  The real people are all different.  Dan is dead.  Jackie is a lesbian, so her husband and child don't exist.  But Mom isn't a lesbian.  The daughters switch husbands.  Everything we thought we knew about the show is wrong.

May 14, 1998: Seinfeld (1989-1998). In this execrable finale for what critics termed the best series in the history of television, the Fab Four are facing jail time for violating a "good Samaritan" law that, if it existed, would get them a fine, at most.

And everyone they've interacted with comes rushing to town to complain.  Their honest attempts to help are recast as diabolical plots.  Mistakes and accidents are recast as deliberate malice.  Everything we thought we knew about the show is wrong. Oh, and they go to prison.

August 9, 1999: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1985-1999).  For 12 years, Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank tortured the hapless heroes on the Satellite of Love, Joel/Mike and the bots, with "cheesy movies, the worst that we can find."  The only way they could keep their sanity was to riff on the cheesy plots.  In the series finale, Mike and the bots finally escape.

Do they change the world? Reveal the diabolical plot in a tell-all book?  At least find a life far removed from their 12-year imprisonment?  No -- they are shown living in a small apartment, eating pizza and riffing on bad movies.

At least they don't meet girls.

September 8, 2004: The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004).  This program was all about setting: the sprawling Winfred-Lauder Department Store in downtown Cleveland, where Drew worked as a middle-management drudge, Mr. Wick as head of personnel, and Mimi as his secretary.

So how to handle the last season: end the department store, drop some of the characters, and give the others nonsensical new jobs at a new store. Oh, and have Drew and Mimi live together, raising a 10-year old boy who was a baby last season.

May 18, 2006: Will and Grace (1998-2006).  After endless seasons of proclaiming that gay men are really women, that gay men all have sex with women,  that gay people simply do not exist, Will and Grace went out with a bang: Will and his cop beau adopt a daughter, Grace and her husband gave birth to a son, and twenty years later, the son and daughter marry.

Whatever momentary glitch being gay caused in the cosmic order, it has been resolved with a man and a woman gazing into each other's eyes forever.

May 20, 2010: Lost (2004-2010).  For five seasons, we were told that the crash survivors facing paranormal peril on a crazy island weren't in Purgatory.  Well, guess what -- they are.  Well, actually, in an alternate world where they forget that they were ever on the island, until they are reminded.  Then they get back together and go into the light.

And Vincent the Dog dies.

Feb 16, 2023

Can Netflix redeem itself with "Red Rose," About an Evil App Harassing Gay and Straight Teens?

After my last three or four grim reviews, I have to conclude that Netflix, the streaming service that brought us Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Good Place, Bojack Horseman, and Kim's Convenience, has been reduced to dredge.    But maybe Red Rose, a British tv series about a murderous app, will break the heteronormative trend.  I'll watch Episode #1, "It's Grim Up North."

Scene 1: Manchester, Christmastime.  Snow, trees, ecstatic crowds. Teenage Alyssa says goodbye to her friends and stares in horror at carolers. Come on, they're singing "The Carol of the Bells,' not "Have Yourself a..."    Mom calls to back out of picking her up, so Alyssa walks home.  She rushes into the elegant noveau-modern mansion and turns the smart thermostat up to 27 (80 degrees Fahrenheit).  But it turns down to 0!  And the big screen tv is mirroring her!   Lights and vacuum cleaners go off and on at random.  Alyssa yells for the home app Electra to turn everything off, but it doesn't obey  She runs through the house terrified.  Mum finally gets home, but it's too late: Alyssa jumps off the roof!  WTF?  What was she afraid of?  A cranky home app?  Mum?

Scene 2:
Bolton, a quaint, very English town near Manchester, six months later.  Two teenage girls, Wren (blonde) and Roche (brunette), are sitting on a rustic road, discussing the end of exams and summer plans. They sign each other's shirts, frolick, and almost kiss, but they are interrupted by a third girl.  Any boys in this show?   Finally  -- two boys, Noah  and Antony (Ellis Howard, below), catch up to joke and tease the girls. 

Cut to teens in school uniforms dancing on hilltops.  Noah and Antony dance with each other, but pair off with girls to smoke and drink and play patty-cake (teenagers?  Is that a British thing?). 

A Middle Eastern guy,  Taz (Ali Khan), joins them, which upsets one of the girls but delights the others.  They invite him to join their friend group, the Dickheads.  Are organized friend groups a thing?  

All of the Dickheads except for Roche, who is poor, have been invited to Rich Snob Becky's party.  They approach and ask if she can come, too. Becky tries to exclude Roche by making up a 10 quid ($12) door charge, but the friends offer to pay it for her.  "Sigh...ok, but it's 'dress to impress'"

Scene 3:
While the others are dancing, Wren and Noah (Harry Redding) find a deserted phone booth and make out. What is a phone booth doing in the hills, with no buildings or roads around?  Poor girl Roche sees them and is upset.  She wanders off by herself, and gets a text inviting her to download an app, Red Rose: "Welcome to the new you." 

Scene 4: Morning. Roche awakens and goes downstairs to a shabby, mismatched house, two whiney preteen sisters, a dead Mum, and a Dad who is folding laundry (Samuel Anderson, top photo).  She prepares breakfast, but there's not enough cereal to go around.  She complains that she has to look after the twins all summer, so she won't be able to hang out with her friends.  'Why don't you invite them to our shabby hovel?" Dad suggests.  "Um...no, I'm ashamed that we're poor."  

Scene 5: The five Dickheads are leaving a pasty shop in downtown Bolton, when they run into Jaya (a girl).  She quotes from The Goonies (they're fans of a 40-year old movie?).  She's not going to the Rich Snob Party because, um...she's hanging out with her old mates. Realizing that she actually can't afford the cover charge, Roche makes fun of her.  But you're poor, too.  Covering? 

Next, some bully girls accuse Wren of being a slut; Roche defends her.  Then she breaks away from the group to play with her Red Rose app, which asks: "Do you need help?" "No!"

Scene 6:
Wren working in a tea shop.  Her coworkers ask about the mysterious boy she is dating.  Cut to a cemetery, where Wren meets with an older, bearded guy (Adam Nagaitis?).  He asks if they can be more open about their relationship, but she refuses and stomps off: "Don't push me!" 

Scene 7: Night. Roche (the poor one) is entertaining her sibs with hand puppets. Suddenly the lights go out: the electro-card reader is out of money.  

The app asks again "Do you need help?"  "Yes!" 

 "Write three wishes on a mirror, and chant these disturbing words."  Roche goes to her room and writes: "Wealth. Power. Respect."  The lights come back on -- 100 pounds was added to the account!  In the morning, there's a sparkly princess dress and new shoes waiting for her.  So, what about the power and respect?

Scene 8:  The Friend Group is playing a board game.  Does anyone under 60 still do that?   Roche bursts in to show off her new shoes.  Bestie Wren wants to know if Roche is upset about her dating Noah.  Of course she is. 

Scene 9: Roche is taking her younger sisters on a wilderness hike.  The app instructs her to build a fire, so she does.  Then it reveals a ghostly image of her Mum.  Horrified, Roche takes the girls to the store where a girl named Ash works.  She doesn't see anything on the phone.  Roche gets a flapjack (what Americans call a brownie).  

Next, Roche and Wren discuss their relationship and upset each other by referring to their parents: Dead Mum, and...um, something wrong with Dad.   Roche rushes off to a mansion, where a middle-aged woman has been minding the kids, and blurts out: "Wren has been seeing Rick!"  Soap opera, innit?  Then she goes home and looks at videos of her Dead Mum.

Scene 9: The middle-aged woman confronts Wren about dating Rick. Wait, the older, bearded guy from the cemetery is not a boyfriend, he's Wren's Dad, who is not allowed to see her.   He must have done something truly horrifying to not even get structured visitation.  "He's better now," Wren argues.  "He doesn't get better! What he did..."   Keep it a mystery, why don't you?

Scene 10: Roche brings the kids to a food bank, where they also have free breakfasts. She didn't get much wealth, did she?  The priest wants to know why she's upset.   More stuff about the fight with Wren.  

Scene 11; We finally get to the Rich Snob Party advertised in Scene 2.  The app instructs Roche to "kiss Noah" (Wren's boyfriend).  She refuses, so it displays a video of her at the food bank.  To humiliate her for being poor?  It repeats: "Kiss Noah, or everyone will know the real you."  So she does -- and that's displayed on the big tv, too!  Wren is upset.

Scene 12: On the way home, the app shows Roche a picture of the kids -- with Dead Mum behind them!  The end.

Beefcake: None.  The three teenage boys don't even have any shirtless pics online.

Other Sights: Lots of Bolton.

Heterosexism: Wren is dating Noah, but the plot is actually about her relationship with Roche.

Gay Characters:  Wren and Roche have a gay subtext romance.  Antony, the member of the Dickheads with just two lines in this episode, comes out as gay later on, but I don't know how much character development he gets.

Paranormal: The app hasn't done anything yet that couldn't be done with computer hacking, but we'll see...

My Grade: B

Update: In Episode 3,  the evil app lures Antony to a public restroom by pretending to be a hot guy on a Grinder-like app. So there are no gay organizations, and everyone is deeply closeted.  Sounds rather retro.

Feb 15, 2023

"Re/Member": Japanese Bullies and Outcasts Bond, Get Murdered. Repeat Ad Infinitum.


Re/Member, on Netflix, about some teens trapped in a time loop, has an interesting premise (I have always loved time paradox stories).  Besides, where there are teenagers, there are bound to be some hunks.

No movie with this title exists  exist on Wikipedia or IMDB, or else it gets mixed up with a 2022 Korean movie, Remember. I found the star, Kama Hashimoto, on Decider, and followed her to IMDB, but no listing for Re/Member. The listing of the director led me to another title, Remember Member, which makes no sense.

Scene 1: I'm not happy so far.  A cliched little girl clutching a teddy bear (or teddy creepy ragdoll) flees from a hatchet-murderer into a scary house.  She runs into a study -- photo of the nuclear family displayed prominently, of course -- and blocks the door. .But the murderer jumps through the window and hatchets her to death. Blood sprinkles onto the creepy ragdoll.

Scene 2: July 5th, a Tuesday. A teenage girl gets out of bed and goes down to breakfast, where Mom has packed her a lunch of fried shrimp and pumpkin crouquettes: "Share with your friends, ok?" 

Cut to a lot of girls in school costumes giggling and discussing fashion as they walk down a busy urban street.  Our girl hangs back, being distant and depressed.  A boy discusses his interest in having sex with It-Girl Rie; his friend advises that she's out of his league.  He should try for our girl, Asuka, instead.  "No way!  She's an outcast!  I can't even say hello, or I'll be disgraced forever!

Their third male friend joins them: Takahiro (Gordon Maeda, top photo). They accuse him of having sex with It-Girl Rie, but he denies it.  Whoops, he accidently pushes Outcast Asuka into the street!  He starts to help her pick up her books, but his friend pull him away: "Don't interact with her, or you'll be disgraced!"  I dislike the intense bullying displayed in Japanese tv series, but I guess in a communal-based society, anything different is anathema.

Suddenly a cat gets squished by a car.  Everyone glares at Outcast Asuka, believing that she caused the death with her outcast mojo. 

Scene 3: In the shoe-changing room, Outcast Asuka notices that Takahiro has lost his class pin.  How to return it to him without interacting?  Not to worry, a non-outcast girl grabs it and uses it to flirt. 

In the classroom, Outcast Asuka watches as the boys torture outcast boy Shota.  They ask for volunteers to serve on the Class Festival Committee. 

At lunchtime, while the It-Kids are discussing how superior they are, Outcast Asuka takes her lunch outside, to eat next to a scary construction zone. She sees a dozen bloody arms swaying like snakes from a giant pipe.  Then she interrupts an eyeglass-guy while he's trying to bury a squelching bag.  I think eyeglasses are a symbol of evil in Japan.  A dead girl appears behind her and wants to know where her body is. 

Scene 4: Basketball practice.  The male friends praise Takahiro's skill.   Later, the girls laugh at and jeer at Outcast Shota as he meanders down the hall. This is too much.  Every kid at that school can't be a bully.  

Switch to evening. Outcast Asuka is checking her calendar of Takahiro's daily activities, so she can stalk him better, when she gets a lot of mysterious texts about a Red Person (bathed in blood).  She hides under the covers.

She awakens with five other students, including four It-Kids and Outcast Shota, in the deserted chapel.  None of them remember how they got there.  After Outcast Shota says "This is like my video game....", they are killed, in various gruesome ways, by the little girl who was killed in Scene 1!   Usually this would be the whole move, but it's over in about 3 minutes.

Scene 5: July 5th, Tuesday.  Outcast Asuka awakens.  It was just a bad dream!  She can go back to her daily routine of pining over Takahiro and being ignored by the It-Kids.  But as the same events occur as yesterday -- pumpkin croquettes, dead cat, Class Festival Committee -- she realizes that something is wrong.  Instead of torturing Shota, they drag him into the hall and ask what the heck is going on.  

He explains that it's like the plot of a Russian video game, the Body Search: players have to  find the body parts of a dismembered murder victim while avoiding the Red Person.  If they fail, the game will reset.  They figure out the premise very quickly.  

Creepy eyeglass guy, Mr. Yoshiro the Librarian (Shuntaro Yanagi?), is staring at them from afar.

Scene 6:  After two scenes of everyday activities, they end up at the chapel again.  There's an open coffin for depositing the body parts.  They split up to search,Takahiro and Outcast Asuka together. 

They find an arm in an aquarium, but still get squelched by the Little Girl.  Even returning the arm to its coffin doesn't mollify her.  Wait -- if she wants her body parts back, why is she squelching everyone?

Scene 7:
  Morning.  It's still July 5th, This time they rescue the cat, and the outcasts have been admitted to the It-Kid group, to the consternation of bullies everywhere. Shots of them laughing and joking and getting desserts together.  How heartwarming.  That night the three girls are squelched in a swimming pool.

Scene 8: July 5th.  The guys are texting everyone to invite them to a party.  Non-Outcast Shota asks Takahiro if Atsushi (Fuju Kamio, right) is coming. They were friends in middle school, but had a falling out when Atsushi lost a leg and gave up on sports. Could there be a gay subtext coming up?  Or maybe he's behind all of this?

Cut to a group meeting.  Shota has been doing research: the video game is based on a real-life murder near their campus 30 years ago (the Little Girl).  He surmises that the Red Person is drawn to noise, so if they play loud music everywhere, they can search in safety.

Juxtaposed scenes of finding body parts, being killed,  having fun friend-bonding times, and getting glared at by the creepy librarian. Some heart-to-hearts at the beach (only Shota takes his shirt off).  And it just goes on like that, interminably, until Tahakiro and Outcast Asuka kiss, and I give up.

Spoiler Alert:  When they finish rebuilding the corpse, everything resets, including people's memories, so they go back to bullying and exclusion.  Except for Takahiro.  True love, and all that.  Ugh.

Feb 13, 2023

Pufnstuf: The Dragon and the Witch Compete over Jimmy's Flute

 I can’t watch H. R. Pufnstuf anymore. The lightning-quick takes, psychedelic colors, lame wise-cracks, and aggressive laugh-track are annoying. But in 1969, when I was 8 years old, I looked forward to it all week.

In the opening segment, a cute, androgynous sixteen-year old named Jimmy (Jack Wild, fomerly of Oliver), with a Beatles moptop and a cowboy hat, is prancing through a bucolic mountain countryside, playing with his golden flute (it is not really gold in color but dark bronze, thicker and blockier than real flutes, and extremely phallic later, as it peeps out of Jimmy’s pocket).

 A “kooky old witch” named Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes), passing by on her supersonic Vroom-Broom, spies Jimmy and decides that her drafty old castle could use his youthful vitality – and his ten inches of flute. She instructs a sentient boat to lure Jimmy aboard with the promise of a pleasant journey to Living Island. But when the trip commences, the boat develops arms and claws to hold Jimmy securely in place, while the witch laughs maniacally, and:

The sky grew dark
The sea grew rough
And the boat sailed on and on and on and on

In a scene that is still frightening today, Jimmy manages to free himself from the grasping claws, and dives into the dark, choppy sea. He crawls onto a distant, desolate beach and collapses, half-drowned and exhausted. Then – somewhat too late – help arrives. A tall green-and-yellow dragon named H. R. Pufnstuf resuscitates Jimmy, moves him into his cave, and dresses him in a garish Fab Four outfit (one wonders where the dragon got human clothes. Have there been other Jimmies, lost boys washing up on the beach over and over forever?). Then Pufnstuf introduces Jimmy to the citizens of Living Island, various animals, plants, and inanimate objects, all sentient and wise-cracking, almost all male.

Since Jimmy is well protected, Witchiepoo turns her attention to the flute, now sentient and named Freddy. Most episodes involve Witchiepoo’s grandiose, impractical schemes to steal Freddy, or, when she succeeds, Jimmy and company’s equally grandiose, impractical schemes to retrieve him. Jimmy also mounts a few half-hearted escape attempts, but it is obvious that he has no real desire to leave Living Island. Witchiepoo is more cranky than evil, promising excitement more than threat, and Jimmy is having the time of his life, dancing, singing, putting on plays with a group of caring, attentive friends who tolerate all of his many gender transgressions.

The feature film Pufnstuf appeared in July 1970. In a new back story, Jimmy has recently moved from England to a resort town (Big Bear Lake, California), where he plays the flute in the school band (rather a fairy choice of instrument, I thought). During a practice session on the front lawn of a gaudy, baroque junior high school, the other boys insult him, mock his accent, and finally trip him, and he knocks over some music stands. True to junior high form, the teacher concludes that Jimmy is the troublemaker, and kicks him out of the band. Jimmy runs away, through a town of small brown cabins and autumn-orange trees that, for all its beauty, promises nothing but brutality and viciousness. Eventually he stops by the lake to rest. Suddenly his flute grows longer and thicker, changes from gold to brown, and starts to move of its own accord – an awkward moment for Jimmy to enter puberty!

Witchiepoo happens to be flying overhead, and the plot proceeds as in the series. But now she has a homosocial motive for her designs. She believes that Freddy the Flute will be a perfect trinket to impress the other witches, especially Witch Hazel (Mama Cass Eliot of The Mamas and the Papas), with whom she has a sort of Auntie Mame/Vera Charles rivalry.

All of the many witches we meet in the film are female, and all are aggressively heterosexual. Witchiepoo tries to sneak into Pufnstuf’s cave by flirting with him as vampish dance instructor Benita Bugaloo, and when she telephones Witch Hazel, their conversation consists mostly of gossip about which female witch is dating which man. The film makes Living Island, conversely, a veritable Fire Island, inhabited by ten men (or male beings) and only two women, Pufnstuf’s sister and Judy the Frog (a parody of gay icon Judy Garland).

 None of them is married or involved with the other sex, nor do any of the male residents “boing” with lust over Witchiepoo in her bodacious disguise. It was not unusual for children’s films a generation ago to omit heterosexual content, but quite unusual to place it squarely in the laps of evil witches while infusing the hero and his friends with a blatantly gay sensibility.

Certainly Jimmy’s cherubic cuteness and sexy Cockney accent made the show a must-see for me in 1969, but there is more. The crux of the action is a competition between the female Witchiepoo and the male Pufnstuf over control of Jimmy’s phallus ( Freddy the Flute), and it ends unequivocally in the male camp. Witchiepoo lives in a dark, sinister castle dug-through with dungeons and pits, and Pufnstuf in a gaudy psychedelic Arcadia, with living trees and flowers. Witchiepoo barks out orders to cowering servants, Pufnstuf offers advice to dear friends. Who would disagree that the Dragon is far superior to the Witch?

There's a gay hookup story about Jack Wild on Tales of West Hollywood.

Feb 12, 2023

The Male Ladybug and His Biceps

17 episodes of The Bugaloos aired during the 1970-71 season, and were rerun in 1971-72.  That's a little short, even for a Sid and Marty Krofft live action-animatronic series: Sigmund and the Sea Monsters had 29, and Land of the Lost had 43.

But millions of Boomers fondly recall the 17 episodes, and the infinite array of tie-in merchandise: a record album, a lunchbox, a board game, a 4-issue comic book series, costumes for Halloween, 3 novels.

The Bugaloos were a hippie family/rock band composed of  British insect people, all named after virtues.

1. I.Q. (John McIndoe), a gangly blond grasshopper
2. Harmony (Wayne Laryea) a black bumblebee
3. Joy (Caroline Ellis) a female butterfly
4. Courage (John Philpott) a muscular male ladybug.

Very muscular.  Always wearing a tight red shirt that highlighted his pecs and lay bare his arms and shoulders.

And exceptionally tight pants.

Unlike most Krofft shows, they were not trapped far from home: they lived in a hippie commune, the Tranquility Forest, singing, dancing, flying, and displaying no heterosexual interest

But their Eden was threatened by Benita Bizarre (Martha Raye), who hated their youth, their beauty, their freedom, their talent, and. . .well, their tranquility.  She stole Joy's voice and IQ's wings; she kidnapped and branwashed Courage; she tried to drive them out of their forest.

Establishment fear of the youth counterculture,but from the counterculture's point of view.  Clash of innocence and experience, age and. . um, obviously a metaphor for. . .um. . .

Who could think about anything but the male ladybug, with his sleeveless shirt and obvious bulge?

Update: The Bugaloos was John Philpott's only acting gig.   He performed in several bands and as a cabaret singer, and is now retired and living in France.  As far as I can tell, only his family and friends had the opportunity to see his muscles close-up.

See also: Pufnstuf

"From", on MGM Plus: "Lost" in a Small Town, with Real Men Protecting their Wives and Kids


Amazon Prime has been pushing me to watch an episode of a series called From, a one-word title that's impossible to research, but apparently it's about a small town where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." LGBT people who grew up trapped in homophobic small towns can relate. 

 It stars Harold Perrineau, Michael on Lost, so doubtless it has some intriguing mysteries inside mysteries.  And hopefully, 18 years since Lost premiered, more gay characters.

Only problem: this is a drug-dealer "first taste is free" setup.  One free episode to get you hooked, and then you have to pay.  I'm not paying, but I'll take the first taste.

Opening: MGM tells us that this is a MGM production, that MGM has always produced the world's best movies, that this is a MGM production, and that you need to subscribe to watch the other episodes.

Scene 1: A very run-down rural community, rusty cars, unpainted buildings.  Michael from Lost walks down the dirt road, ringing a bell.  People walk toward their houses. A waitress kicks two customers out of the diner -- closing time -- and touches a strange icon handing from the wall.  Michael passes a terribly cliched little girl on a swingset holding a doll. She's obviously a goner, but the background song broadcasts it: "Little girl, so young and pretty, you'll be dead before your time is due."  

In an old person's home, Deputy Kenny (Ricky He) tries to convince his eldery father, who has dementia, to go into the basement.  The nurse pulls him down; Kenny flirts with her and leaves.  

Some hippies are playing with a ball outside an old mansion.  They drop it and go inside.

Deputy Kenny joins Michael from Lost -- I guess the character is named Boyd -- and asks if it is all clear.  Yep.  Sheriff Boyd goes into the post office -- "96 nights without incident."

Scene 2:  A bearded guy tries to rouse the drunken, sleeping Frank.  His boyfriend?  No such luck -- he's the father of the swingset girl.  Bearded guy can't rouse him, so he puts tarps over the window and touches his weird icon.

Meanwhile, Swingset Girl and her Mom are wondering what's keeping Frank -- it's getting dark!  Mom sends Swingset Girl upstairs to say her prayers  -- "If I should die before I wake," hint hint.  Suddenly Grandma calls to her from outside the window: "Let me in!  I'm so lonely!"  The idiotic Swingset Girl opens the window, whereupon Grandma turns into a screaming monster.  

Opening Theme: Ahh!  It's most horribly sad, depressing song ever recorded! End of the world, end of everything, no hope, darkness, despair.  Who in his right mind would use that song for an opening theme? Do they want the audience to commit suicide?  I fast forward past, but still, I heard a few words... Now I'm going to be depressed all day.  

No, I'm not going to tell you what the song is.  That would require me to think about it.  

Scene 3:
Ok, on to the much less disturbing show.  A nuclear family driving down the highway in a huge RV -- the behomoth actually has a hallway!  Teenage daughter is torturing her little brother by claiming that one of his finger puppets is dead, killed by a monster.  Foreshadowing, anyone?  Mom calms him down by pointing out that monsters don't exist, so the puppet must be alive. Foreshadowing, anyone? Dad (Eion Bailey) congratulates her on her parenting skills. 

Scene 4: Morning.  Frank (Bob Mann), who was too drunk to go home, stumbles toward his house.  Everyone is gathered round.  Sheriff Boyd attacks him: "You're a Man!  A Man takes care of his wife and kids!"  How stultifyingly sexist.  "Your wife and daughter were killed last night, and it's your fault!"  How could he have helped?  Swingset Girl let the monster in.  Sheriff  Boyd sentences him to lock-up, which will become a death sentence if he is detained overnight.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Family is stopped by a giant tree blocking the road. Dad, who is a Man, tries to muscle it aside, but is unsuccessful.  They have no choice but to turn around. 

Scene 5: 
 Sheriff Boyd visits the hippie commune.  Head hippie Donna points out that he's not welcome there, but he asks to see his son.  Ok, just this once. Ok, the sheriff is hetero, but maybe the son is gay?

No such luck: Son Ellis (Corteon Moore) is in his art studio, painting a lady's portrait.  He points out how beautiful she is.  At least his shirt is open, so we get some beefcake.

Son Ellis is shocked to find out that they lost "Lauren" to the monsters last night. "Lauren is..." "I know who she is!" Lost-style mystery for its own sake.  Most of them were never resolved. 

Scene 6: The Nuclear Family driving back the way they came.  But it looks all different. Where's the highway?  They end up at the town, where everyone is gathered for the funeral of Swingset Girl and her Mom, with a priest giving the eulogy (tv tropes: all Christians are Catholic).  They all glare at the newcomers and scatter.  Sheriff Boyd gives them directions back to the highway.

They drive, but end up back at the town!  They stop to ask for directions again, and are ignored.   A girl in a 1930s sun dress complains to her overall-wearing brother that it's always bad for the new arrivals, who think that they will be able to leave.   He goes out to the barn to feed the animals.  I was wondering how they eat in this town.

The Nuclear Family ends up back in town a third time!  They argue.  Mom criticizes Dad's ability to follow directions, a major insult for a Man.  They turn around and head out again, while the townsfolk watch.  Deputy Kenny: "You think they're ready?"  Sheriff Boyd: "Go get the strip." Comic strip? No, he means a spike strip, used to stop cars.

Scene 7:
During their fourth try, they hit an oncoming car and crash into a ravine!  They are all ok, except for the preteen boy, who has a table leg through his thigh! (Another inch, and he'd have been castrated, which might have impacted his chances of growing up to be a Man).  

The driver of the other car (Tobey), dazed from a head injury, stumbles toward town.  Deputy Kenny takes him to the clinic, while Sheriff Boyd investigates.  A passenger, Jade (David Alpay, left), is unhurt but obviously high.  "You have an amazing face," he tells the Sheriff, who recoils in homophobic disgust and handcuffs him to the car door.  So Jade is gay?  No such luck: Jade says that all of his rescuers are "so beautiful!"  

The Sheriff then tries to rescue the Nuclear Family. Son Ellis, Town Priest, and an EMT help.

Meanwhile, at the clinic, 1930s Sun Dress girl approaches Tobey, the driver of the other car, and reassures him that the accident wasn't his fault.  She kisses him, then stabs him through the jaw!  

Scene 8:  The Nuclear Family is all rescued, except for the preteen son: it will take two hours to extricate him from the table leg, and the sun will set in one hour!  The Sheriff tries to convince Dad that a Man takes care of his family, so his wife and daughter should go into town, where it's safe.  Ok, but Dad is staying.  So they block the windows and put up the weird icon (gee, even upside-down, that RV is the size of a house!).

Meanwhile, on the way back with  Mom, Daughter, and "You're all so beautiful!" Jade, Son Ellis and the Town Priest accidentally run over the spike strip!  And it's almost dark!  They have to run to the hippie commune: "No matter what you see, no matter what you hear, do not stop!"  So the monsters have to lure you?  They can't just grab anyone outside? 

Scene 9:  Back in the RV,  Preteen Son has a seizure.  While Dad and the EMT try to help, Sheriff Boyd looks out the window.  "They're coming," he says, as the monsters converge.  They look like people: a blond woman in a dress, a guy in a workman's suit, an old-fashioned lady librarian-type.  The end.

Beefcake: Just Son Ellis semi-shirtless.

Heterosexism: Two nuclear families, two boy-girl flirtations.

Sexism: Male-female gender polarization everywhere, with a lot of patriarchy, strong, powerful men protecting weak, passive women.

Drinking Game: Every time someone says one of these phrases, you take a drink.  You'll be drunk by minute 45: each appears about 20 times per episode.

1. Can I ask you something?

2. Are you alright?  Not really. 

3. It's not your fault.

Also closeups of people holding hands.

Gay Characters: The town doctor has a girlfriend back home. Fatima makes out with men and women both.  Daughter Julie has a crush on Fatima.  Lots of lesbian/bi women, no gay men.

My Grade: I might continue watching, just for the mystery, and it might be interesting to see the characters' lives before they were trapped on the Island (um,..I mean, in the small town).  If it weren't for the horrible sexism.  And the paywall.  And that depressing theme song....

Update after three episodes: Jade and Deputy Kenny have a little spark, but they both express heterosexual interest as well.  No beefcake except a guy having sex with a woman, and she's on top.  I think the monsters decide to bring people into the village that they think will be fun to hunt; like when the nuclear family mom and daughter got killed, they immediately brought in a new pair.

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