September 13, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
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'Lost' still captivates on new DVD
By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor
"Lost" - a
a while an extraordinary
TV to new heights. But
predicted that last season
castaway serial from J.J.
- would be that
show. Throw in
some sci-fi ele-
ments, a huge
and weekly cliff-
son 1 DVD
Salman Rushdie read from "Shalmar the Clown" at Borders on Monday.
IN His WORDS
SALMAN RUSHDIE VISITS ANN ARBOR
hangers, and it seemed like a recipe
for disaster. Yet something compelled
America to tune in. Whether it was the
excellent performances or the engross-
ing mysteries of the island, "Lost"
became the water-cooler sensation that
ABC needed (yes, there was also that
"Desperate" something or other, too).
For those few who missed out the
first time around, or who just need a
refresher to catch Hurley's lotto num-
bers, "Lost" arrives on DVD.
Here's the premise: An Oceanic Air-
lines flight traveling from Sydney to
Los Angeles crashes on a seemingly
deserted tropical island. The survivors
band together and slowly learn to adapt
not only to island life, but to each other.
Using a unique structure that incor-
porates extended flashbacks into each
episode, viewers learn more and more
about the textured pasts of every cast-
away. From heroic M.D. Jack (Matthew
Fox, "Party of Five") to the conniving
con man Sawyer (Josh Holloway). When
it works - as is the case in the stellar
"Walkabout" episode when alpha-male
Locke (Terry O'Quinn, "Alias") is
revealed to have been wheelchair bound
- few series are better. But sometimes
these tangents seem to be filler to round
out otherwise thin plots.
The DVD set contains pristine trans-
fers of the hi-def broadcasts. More
importantly, it is loaded with extras.
Beyond the standard commentary
tracks is an extra disc packed with doc-
umentaries and featurettes. It breaks
the series down from preproduction,
the actual construction of the individ-
ual episodes, to the audience response.
Viewers learn that Jack was supposed
to die in the pilot and that most of the
characters were based on the actors
who auditioned. It even includes hilari-
"Lost" embraces the strengths of its
medium in its serialization and large
scope. Even though the revelations aren't
as shocking the second time around,
every episode is still an enthralling
adventure. Just as you prepare to find
out what's down the hatch in season
two, remember what brought the cast-
aways together in the first place.
Courtesy of Buena Vista
"Gilligan's Island's" castaways weren't this pretty.
By Bernie Nguyen
Daily Books Editor
Last night, celebrated author Salman
Rushdie read from his latest novel
"Shalimar the Clown" at Borders Books and Music
in Ann Arbor. Rushdie, a smallish man with gray-
ing hair, stood at the speaker's podium with the
comfortable air of a master at work. He drew a
crowd of all ages that packed the upstairs room of
the bookstore to its corners as people strained for a
glimpse of him.
The result of many years of work, Rushdie's
new book begins with a violently climactic act of
revenge, then tracks its plot mainly through back-
story. Shalimar, a Muslim tight-rope walker who
marries a Hindu girl, only to have his heart bro-
ken, was mostly inspired by a 1987 visit to Kash-
mir, Rushdie said. There, he met a group of village
performers. "This is'a story about a young boy," he
explained, "a clown in love."
Rushdie read several excerpts from his novel,
including the opening scene. The explosive begin-
ning is the final act of a man whose passion leads
him from marriage, to terrorist training camps and
eventually, to murder.
Rushdie also read the scene where Shalimar
and his future wife first make love. The encounter,
which he offered up without hesitation, establishes
the intense love affair that later becomes a marriage.
Interestingly enough, he used to be embarrassed
while writing sex scenes, Rushdie said he overcame
his bashfulness through years of practice.
Rushdie, a celebrated novelist with a background
of both Indian and English influence, won the
Booker Prize in 2003 for his second novel "Mid-
night's Children." His other works include "Fury,"
"The Ground Beneath Her Feet" and, most famous-
ly, "The Satanic Verses," the novel for which Aya-
tollah Khomeini of Iran condemned him to death
Throughout the reading, Rushdie maintained an
easy sense of humor and a comfortable demeanor,
joking with his audience and answering questions.
When he stumbled onto the subject of other authors,
Rushdie spoke of Dan Brown disparagingly, say-
ing "("The Da Vinci Code") is the worst novel ever
written," provoking startled laughter from his lis-
In response to a question about critics, Rush-
die maintained a realistic position, and said, "I've
learned that you can't please everyone."
Rushdie also spoke about his views on world
affairs with regards to terrorism. "Shalimar's"
themes of terrorism and violence speak directly to
what Rushdie perceives as a new era of human con-
sciousness. Because the Sept. 11 attacks resulted
in the collision of two worlds, in this case Arab
and Western, Rushdie said, it was now necessary to
write with that in mind
After the event, listeners lined up to have their
books signed and talked enthusiastically about
Rushdie. "He was a great speaker," said LSA senior
Stephanie Wang. "It was very entertaining to hear
him read his own works." These sentiments were
echoed by Jessica Dixon, a first-year student at the
School of Public Health. "It was great to hear the
readings in his own voice," Dixon said.
"Shalimar the Clown" was published on Septem-
ber 6, 2005 by Random House.
Attempting to bulk up faffs sitcom
lineup, FOX loses with latest 'War'
By Imran Syed,
Daily Arts Writer
As the season finales wrapped up last spring, the future
looked bleak for comedies. Old shows were losing their
touch (see "Will and Grace"), and most new ventures tanked
miserably ("Listen Up!" or "Joey"). But
the new season, which began Sunday,
seemed promising in light of seemingly
innovative programing. However, if the
first of these shows, Fox's "The War at
Home," is any indication, this year may
be just as abysmal as the last.
"Home" stars Michael Rapaport and
Anita Barone (who have guest-starred
in far better sitcoms, including "Mur-
Even so, they all fail.
Rapaport seems out of place without any tough guys to
punch. Perhaps trying to compensate for this softness, the
producers tried to make this show "edgy." In the midst of
the usual dating argument between father and daughter,
we come unexpectedly upon tasteless and poorly script-
ed racial humor. While immersed in a not-even-remotely
funny conversation about the son's homosexuality, the par-
ents come to borderline homophobic conclusions. Trou-
bling to say the least.
The worst part of "The War at Home," striking viewers
even before the opening credits, is that though it is a situation-
al comedy, it does not depend on situational humor. Where
successful sitcoms depend on good acting and dialogue to
quickly explain the most complicated of situations, "Home"
relies on inane cut-scenes. The characters actually talk to
the audience to explain their situations (reminiscent of Zach
Morris's time-outs). Having to depend on such scenes shows
the lack of depth in both characters and dialogue.
As if all this were not bad enough, "Home" features a
laugh-track that is so overdone that it may itself be the best
joke in the show. With a cast that lacks chemistry, a script
that lacks intelligence and a tired premise that was perhaps
beaten to death by last year's "Listen Up!," "The War at
Home" appears to be the early favorite to be the first cancel-
lation of the season.
phy Brown," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Seinfeld" and
"Friends," respectively), who raise three adolescents, each
of whom is eccentric in his own special way. Rapaport's
aggressive, impatient, regular-Joe nature is supposed to look
cute. Barone tries to be something like the mocking-yet-sup-
1 portive wife on "Everybody Loves Raymond." The children
.attempt to say the darndest things in a manner similar to the
TV children of Patrick Duffy, Steve Harvey or John Ritter.