By Jeff Jensen
April 22, 2009 at 08:07 PM EDT

One week ago, the prospect of taking a short in-season break from Lost actually appealed to me, as my brain was seriously over-heating from a string of thematically rich, time travel-heady episodes. Plus, researching all those Star Wars quotes for my “Some Like It Hoth” recap? Not easy, because despite my Star Wars super-fandom, I have never been one of those pop culture junkies capable of recalling famous and not-so-famous movie lines upon command. (Seriously: I couldn’t even get Luke’s famously whiny “Tosche Station/power converters” line right if you asked me for it off the top of my head.)

But as I yawn and stretch and try to come to life here on this Lost-less Wednesday, I find myself bumming — so much so, that I’m thinking about actually watching tonight’s “story of the Oceanic 6 from a new perspective” clip show that ABC has scheduled for tonight. Yes: I’m that desperate for a Lost fix that I would actually watch a clip show. Of course, this is but a preview of the epic withdrawal that’s quickly approaching: The season finale — and the eight-month hiatus that will begin immediately after the final BONG! — is just three weeks away. Arrghh!

And so I find myself thinking even more about Lost instead oftaking a break from it. For example, this mini-theory came to me whilemaking the cup of coffee that now sits next to me unsipped, becauseI’ve been too busy thinking and typing about Lost to actually do so:

Ever since “LaFleur,”I’ve been wondering why Richard Alpert can get past The Fence butSmokey can’t. (See: the season 3 episode “Left Behind,” in which TheMonster was hunting Juliet and Kate and bounced off the sonic wall.) Inow wonder if Richard got past The Fence because he’s been stuck in atime loop for who-knows-how-long and therefore probably knows the codefor turning it off. As for The Monster: “Dead Is Dead” — the Benepisode from two weeks ago — reminded us that Smokey is psychic. Weknow that The Fence targets the brain; presumably, it interferes withbrain function. Could it be that The Fence not only keeps The Monsterat bay, but also renders the Dharma folk virtually invisible to TheMonster by preventing the combined mental energy of the Dharmacommunity from being detected? Another hypothesis: If you believe, assome of us freaky comic book-weaned Losttheorists do, that mental energy helps shape the reality of The Island,then perhaps The Fence actually wasn’t created to keep Smokey away atall, but rather to prevent the combined Dharma mind from affecting andwarping their supernatural ecosystem.

Yes, those are the kinds of things I think about while making coffee.

Mulling a Lost-liberated life fills me with despair (MUST.NOT. THINK. ABOUT. NEXT. YEAR!), I’ve decided to try my best to fill myfree time with other things. To wit: Things Doc Jensen is doing thisweek because Lost ain’t on.

Fringe. I didn’t watch last night’s episode — I’m saving it to fill the Lostvoid tonight — so don’t spoil anything for me. One of the best thingsabout this TV season has been watching this J.J. Abrams series find itslegs. Right before it went on hiatus in February, I felt the show hadhit a great stride, with Anna Torv’s emotionally pitchy FBI agentblossoming into a warmer, stronger heroine, and the emergence ofpossibly otherworldly mythology, rooted in Walter Bishop’s hazilyrecollected past as a subversive techno-futurist revolutionary, a kindof geeky Che Guevara. And I’m a total sucker for the mystery and Where’s Waldo?gamesmanship of The Observer. However, the past couple episodes havebeen just okay, with the glaring exception of that hybrid monster inthe sewer story from last week, which I thought was a total stinker.What Fringe needs is that one episode or storyline that helpsthe show find a truly distinctive voice and takes the whole enterpriseto the next level — the way, say, the way “Duane Berry”/”Ascension”supercharged the mythology in The X-Files.

Dollhouse. Like Fringe, Joss Whedon’s Dollhousecommitted one of the biggest mistakes a new TV show can make in today’sTV world: Not getting out of the gate well. Our snap-judgment culturetends to lock a show into a singular perception that it can’t quiteshake, even if the show itself evolves and improves, as Dollhousehas. Then again, the show’s Friday night slot hasn’t helped; I rarelywatch the show in its time slot, and am actually now two episodesbehind. I know, I know: What kind of Whedonite am I, right? Inretrospect, I wonder if Fox might have gotten more buzz for the seriesif it had launched it in the summer and courted fans of Lost, Fringe and Supernatural with a marketing campaign that positioned Dollhouseas the perfect tonic for their hiatus withdrawals. Given how few peopleare watching the show, maybe they still can. Here’s hoping Dollhouse can beat the (very long) odds against it and get the second chance it deserves.

The Unusuals. Last night, I wasn’t able to turn on thetelly until 10 p.m., and decided I only had one show in me before theeyelids started to revolt against me. I had American Idol, Fringe and The Unusuals to choose from in my TiVo cue — and to my surprise, I found myself clicking on the latter. ABC’s The Unusuals (pictured) — a quirky cop dramedy, like NYPD Blue with a Scrubs sensibility — has supplanted Chuck(which I still dig, especially lately) as my favorite non-demanding,just-for-fun scripted show (hour-long category). I really enjoy thechemistry between the two sets of cop partners: Amber Tamblyn andJeremy Renner, who are usually tasked with carrying the drama quotient;and especially Harold Perrineau and Adam Goldberg, who so far havegotten the best storylines. Last night saw the pair conducting a stingoperation in an underground “murder store,” a kind of sex shop forpsychopaths, where instead of buying whips for kinky fun, you can buywhips for … well, whipping people to death. It was inspired enough tomake me entertain the prospect of a spin-off show devoted to theconcept. There’s a new episode on tonight, and I encourage you to giveit a shot if you haven’t already. One big quibble: I wish the showwould ditch the police dispatcher who barks not-funny APBs betweenscenes through her static-fuzzed radio. Dumb.

The other thing I’m doing this week: working on a new Doc Jensencolumn, filled with some new thoughts about last week’s episode of Lost,”Some Like It Hoth,” and a big new Theory of Everything that seemsperfectly suited to next week’s episode, “The Variable,” whichexecutive producer Carlton Cuse has gone so far as to call one of hisall-time fave Lost episodes, according to this recent interview. Arrgh! I want to see it NOW!

See your Friday. Meanwhile, check out “What’s In The Box?”

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