Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Lightning Round: The Lost Season Finale, Legal Happenings, and Johnnie Morton Gets KO'd

Wow. The Detroit Pistons get themselves into a tough series with Cleveland, the Detroit Tigers bullpen implodes in on itself, and suddenly, that's all I'm really blogging about. So let's get caught up, with lots of good stuff to cover, from the Lost season finale to former Detroit Lions wide receiver Johnnie Morton having a debut in Mixed Martial Arts that he'd like to forget (and, actually, probably has forgotten, and not of his own volition).

** So, the Lost season finale was almost two weeks ago now, so everything that needs to be said has been said already. The Televisionary had a great review, showrunner Carlton Cuse was interviewed by TV Guide and showrunner Damon Lindelof was interviewed by Kristen @ E-Online.

I thought the finale was brilliant. Some of the best television I watched all season, and right up there with some of Lost's finest hours. After a very, very slow start to the season (the season premier was great, but then the rest of the "fall mini season" dragged) the show was on fire in the weeks leading up to the finale, and they really delivered. I loved the ending reveal of Jack's flashbacks being flashforwards was great, and I didn't see it coming. I was watching it with my buddies Ethan and Dave, and while Dave astutely pointed out that Jack's cell phone seemed too modern to be used in a flashback, we chalked it up to an error on the producers part. Ye of too little faith.

So this leads to all sorts of questions for next season, which starts in February of 2008 (man -- so far away). Who was in the coffin? What was Jack "lying" about and why is it so important for him to get back to the island (were people left behind?) and why does he need maps to find it if they were rescued? Is the island still shielded from view and impossible to return to once you leave? And if so, then who really rescued the castaways? And what about the "sickness" people are supposed to get on the island? Has that storyline been dropped completely or will we be getting back to it (it wasn't brought up in the finale, but I'm still waiting). Overall, a great, great finale.

** A few interesting television legal things which broke over the past week or so. Joe over at the great "I Am A TV Junkie" Blog sent me a link to a lawsuit filed by a former producer of Dateline NBC who was fired, she alleges, after she blew the whistle about unethical practices by the team behind "To Catch a Predator." NBC says she was let go in a cost cutting move. It's an interesting claim, but her allegations really don't surprise me. Even though Dateline is a news-magazine, the "To Catch a Predator" segments were turned into their own series, and seemed as much like entertainment programs as anything. As she alleges, some of the people featured in the broadcasts were "led into additional acts of humiliation (such as being encouraged to remove their clothes) in order to enhance the comedic effect of the public exposure of these persons", but I think that the claim has a few pretty obvious defenses. A) From what I saw (which wasn't much, but I would watch some segments while channel surfing) the suspects being asked to remove their clothes was not done so much for comedic effect as it was to show how serious they were about performing illegal acts and B)It's probably not great strategy to try to draw sympathy for alleged child predators. I understand her point that it may violate ethical standards or standards of news reporting, but people are not going to feel bad about it happening.

It will be interesting to see what happens though. If she was "sole producer" of "To Catch A Predator" as she claims, she likely knows quite a bit about what was really happening behind the scenes. On the other hand, Dateline NBC is undergoing a lot of cost cutting (NBC as a network is tightening things, and Dateline in particular let loose Stone Phillips, their standard bearer) and unless the former producer has some real "smoking gun" evidence, it may be hard to prove it wasn't a cost cutting move. "To Catch a Predator" was a series of specials anyway, so if they aren't producing anymore episodes, they probably don't need a producer. We'll see where it goes.

Then, this weekend, in news which probably frightened quite a few people who download television shows off the internet, The FBI filed charges against a man who posted episodes of 24 on YouTube and other filing sharing services.

The FBI filed a criminal complaint Friday against a Chicago man for allegedly uploading four episodes of the hit series "24" to, a video hosting site, before their primetime broadcast. If convicted on a felony count, Jorge Romero, 24, could face up to three years in prison.

The action represents a renewed aggressiveness to crack down on Internet bootleggers, particularly in the television industry, which has not been as vocal about anti-piracy activities as the music and movie businesses.

While the Internet is awash in pirated video content, it is rare for programs to find their way online before airdate. But eight days before the "24" TV premiere, Romero found the original file on a file-sharing service through, a bit torrent tracking site, according to the FBI affidavit.

Romero allegedly downloaded them from an illegal file-sharing service and subsequently uploaded them to LiveDigital, and also posted Web links to the pirated episodes on

It's a pretty aggressive act by the FBI, I am also surprised about how long it took for criminal action to be taken in a case like this. And especially with these 24 episodes, which were leaked before their airdate, which also interfered with a DVD release of the episodes days after the aired for the first time.

The networks, to their credit, have all done a great job in the past year establishing quality online video players for their episodes, which in many ways makes downloading them illegally unnecessary. But, at the same time, if you miss an episode of a show, which is not archived by the network's website, or sold on a system like ITunes, you have very few options other than downloading from BitTorrent if you want to watch the episode. These episodes, obviously though, were leaked before their aired. And I remember that too, because I had to restrain myself from downloading them because I was really looking forward to the 24 premiere.

In many ways, this probably is what the music industry should have been doing years ago. If you want to scare college kids away from downloading music, don't sue them, have them arrested.

** And lastly, former Detroit Lion wide receiver Johnnie Morton made his debut in Mixed Martial Arts fighting, and not as a gimmick, but as a serious new career path. He probably should have stayed with football. He was knocked out in 38 seconds and left on a backboard. Oops.

Ouch. Sort of makes being hit by John Lynch look docile by comparison.

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