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Test Pattern: Secrets of ‘Lost’

Messages from characters, transcripts, more. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Secrets of ‘Lost’

It’s Friday again (and a holiday weekend coming up, too), so it’s time to take a short break from our worst and best commercial discussion. Instead of a regular five-link Friday, though, I’d like to focus on the popular drama “Lost.” After last week’s Five-link Friday spotlighted a supposed page from the script for the “Lost” finale, “Lost” links and comments flew fast and furious.

A NEW WRINKLESays Rick: “I don’t know anything about the show ‘Lost,’ but the script is an obvious hoax. Look at the wrinkles. It is supposed to look like it was balled up and thrown away, but none of the wrinkles are creased tightly. It was very carefully crumpled to make it look real.” [Editor’s Note: Yep, I’m in agreement, this was never a real script page, the comments on it are obviously fake. But I appreciate that ABC is working to keep viewers speculating and talking about the show, even in the summertime.]

SEATING CHART Says Sorcha: “Just another note on ‘Lost’. Below are two official links (you might have already mentioned this). The first link is the fake Web site of Oceanic Airlines -- there’s a bunch of stuff, you just need to look around and click on things. Eventually you’ll find this Web site which has a place to sign up for email updates about the show and a theory board to discuss your thoughts with everyone. I loved the Oceanic Airlines site, especially the seating chart — if you click on the seats eventually certain ones will be highlighted. Click on a highlighted one and the character’s name will flash and then something pertaining to the character will be shown on the screen. Clicking the “cursed” numbers in sequential order will automatically transfer you to the second website.” [Editor’s Note: I mentioned some of this, but not all, so thanks!]

SALLY AND ROBERT?Says Kevin: “In addition to the ‘Lost’ preview and script easter eggs, look at the source code for the Oceanic Air home page and scroll to the bottom for ‘messages’ from Sally and Robert... Sally: ‘If anyone should find this message, please get word I’m alive and stranded on an island somewhere in the South Pacific. Please send help soon. Things are bad. And they’re getting worse...’ Robert: ‘I survived a horrific plane crash and am stranded on an island somewhere Northeast of Australia and Southwest of Hawaii. In the event that I am never found, please forward word of my fate to my parents.’ Cheers!” [Editor’s Note:  Neat find. I take it Sally and Robert are red-shirted ensigns, or extras we have yet to meet.]

‘LOST’ TRANSCRIPTS, MOREThis site proved quite helpful to me last year when I was writing a story about the show and needed to quickly reference dialogue in a past episode. Looks like the transcripts haven’t been updated in a while, but the ones that are up are useful — at least until ABC gets around to making them take it down, if they do. I also found Lost-Media.com to be a veritable treasure trove of "Lost" facts, theories and goodies.

SAWYER SPEAKS
Disappointed in the “Lost” finale? So was the actor who plays Sawyer. His take, and other interesting facts about the show, are here.  (Thanks to Paige for the link!)

Bad ads, bad ads

Bad ads, bad ads, whatcha gonna do? Despite our recent cheerful and sunny roundup of fun ads and animal antics, there are still a lot of bad commercials out there, as any TV watcher knows.

But first, two readers wrote in about the recent animal-ad roundup who are definitely not fans.

Says Sarah: “We do not need more commercials with animals in them! I am completely appalled at some of the comments I have read. I’m sorry, but animals should not be used for our entertainment.”

And Danielle: “Animals are not for entertainment. I would enjoy seeing A LOT less of animals in commercial use.”

I wrote back to both women noting that the elephant in the GE commercial some readers praised is a computer-generated elephant. And though I didn’t note it at the time, it occurs to me now that another of the praised ads, the one with puppies romping and playing, appears to just use video of puppies doing what puppies normally do. So for most of the commercials mentioned, as an animal-lover myself, I don't object.

Sarah wrote back, and clarifies that she "was referring to the comment by Dianne that said "We need more commercials with animals." ... Believe me, I would rather computer-generated animals were used than real animals."

That said, as promised, here’s a roundup of just some of the ads you hate. And keep sending in those nominees!

STOMACH TROUBLES“I might be too late to respond ... but have to mention that I absolutely HATE the commercials for (I dread plugging the company here) the drug Zelnorm to relive various stomach issues. The entire commercial consists of women pulling up their shirts to show us their stomachs with some word written in large black magic marker across their stomach. Absolutely hideous.”    —Anna

OH, BABY“The most annoying commercial out there is one for Pediasure. It starts with a 5-6 year old in a grocery cart and mom pushing. Mom says “we need chicken,” the girl says in the most annoying little voice, “I don’t like chicken”. We repeat the conversation for broccoli. Then mom puts Pediasure in the cart and the girls just eyes it and smiles. As it winds up the mom says “we need waffles” to which the girl replies, “I don’t think I like waffles”. The most annoying part is they show this during the shows my son watches and now every time we go to the grocery store, the minute I get my 2 year old in the cart all I hear from one end of the store to the other is “I don’t like chicken. I don’t like broccoli. I don’t think I like waffles.” Do you think I will ever buy their product — NO!”    —Anonymous

THE KING IS DEAD“Worst Ads -- all the ones with the big headed Burger King! In particular—the one where the guy wakes up to find a sandwich-serving BK dude in his bed. The expression on the face of the guy waking up is as if he is wondering to himself, “What the heck did I do last night to wake up to this?” Then there’s the one where the guy opens his window shades to the Burger King peeping in his window with a sandwich. You know why there are no women leads in these commercials. If I woke up to find the BK dude in my bed or peeking in my window I’d turn my dog loose on him while dialing 911! My dog could eat the sandwich as a reward!”    —Cris

AXE THIS AD
“Worst: The AXE (or any AXE) commercial. You know the one. The cool, suave, lady’s man is taking a shower. As the steam level in the shower increases, a silouette of a woman’s body as if it were pressed against the glass! What kind of ad is this? Have you ever actually smelled the Axe body spray? Surely the ad executives can find a better way to sell their product than implying that it will help you to have a better shower sex life. Come on, please appeal to my intellect not my impulse.”    —Anonymous

TOO MUCH INFORMATION“I’m sick of the E/D med ads, especially the Levitra ads and the one with the disclaimer: “Erections lasting 4 hours should seek immediate medical attention.” Sounds like the old hair growing ointment instructions stating: “Avoid contact with areas you don’t want hair to grow.” Yeah, right. Keep your erectile problems to yourself and your doctor; not while I’m trying to eat my dinner.”    —Keith

MAKING US SICK“My nominee for the worst is the Pepto-Bismol ‘macarena’ dance number. It’s just so tacky and weird. I can’t change the channel fast enough when it comes on. I checked on their website, you can’t watch the actual video, but glory be, you can create your own 5 in-one Pepto-Bismol dance. Why? If you are interested, here you go http://www.pepto-bismol.com/”    —Maureen

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Animal antics a hit in ads

I was set to offer up some of your least-favorite commercials today, but I spotted another trend in your e-mails. Want to make a commercial with a good chance of being beloved by audiences? Cast cute animals, especially baby animals. Again and again, animal-laden spots rose to the top of your lists.

Two commercials were mentioned the most – GE’s “Singing in the Rain” elephant and K9 Advantix’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” puppy at camp ad. Fortunately, both of those commercials are online, so you can watch them now if you haven’t seen them:

K9 Advantix puppy “Camp” commercial is here.

GE “Singin’ in the Rain” commercial is on this page.

Pedigree dog food’s commercials were also mentioned often, and you can watch a variety of their ads here.

And cat lovers also demanded equal time, loving the Whiskas ad in which a housecat stalks backyard prey as if it were a lion or tiger. (Whiskas and Pedigree are owned by the same company, which may explain why both their dog and cat ads are so good.)

Here are some of your comments on animal antics in TV commercials, and keep sending in your thoughts!

PUPPY CAMP
“The best one is the one about the K-9 Advantix where the little dog starts singing from camp about how the package his parents sent him helped him have a good vacation: “hello mother, hello father, fleas ticks mosquitoes, really bother, thanks for the package, that’s why I’m writing, K-9 Advantix quickly stopped all the biting, swimming, hiking, and tent pitching, they’re not biting, I’m not itching, cant wait to show you , all my new tricks, thanks again for sending me K-9 Advantix!” and the funny part is he sings it!”      —Betsy

“I think the best commercial ever is the K-9 Advantix commercial with the little puppy singing. I love how they made the song work with their product. I also love how adorable the puppy is when he is singing. It not only is my favorite commercial it is also the cutest one I’ve ever seen. “Hello Mother. Hello Father. Fleas ticks mosquitoes really bother...”    —Katie

GENE KELLY ELEPHANT“My favorite right now is the GE commercial with the computer-generated elephant tap-dancing to 'Singing in the Rain.' Supposedly if you look closely at it you will see that the elephant is actually doing the exact same steps that the great Gene Kelly danced, including splashing in puddles at the perfect moment etc. I have no good reason for loving so much, just that it makes me smile.”      —Christi

“I think my favorite TV commercial right now is for GE’s new environmentally more aware products, I can’t remember the name of the actual line of products, but this commercial has a baby elephant tap-dancing like Gene Kelly, to “Singing in the Rain” complete with puddle splashing! It’s cute & engaging, entertaining without being too mushy-gushy.”      —Dawn

GONE TO THE DOGS“Best Commercial — I like the Pedigree Dog Food commercials when they’re showing dogs who are “high energy, low energy, dog days, etc...” For us dog people, this commercial reminds you instantly why you have a dog. They’re awesome animals.”  —Robin

DOGS AND CATS“Okay, I’m a sucker for animals, I admit. But even if I weren’t, how could I resist the ‘We’re for Dogs’ commercials (seen almost exclusively on Animal Planet, alas) — separate commercials for mutts, little dogs, puppies. And the Whiskas commercials that show a cat stalking prey (e.g., black and white cat stalking a zebra) with the tagline ‘Your cat has an inner beast. Feed it.— I just love ‘em.”     —Carly

PUPPY LOVE“My favorite ad is for Beneful Puppy Food. It’s the one where the guy is talking to and playing with an adorable little chocolate-brown puppy. I especially enjoy the one part where the guy is down on hands and knees playing tug-of-war with the pup, and another when he chases the pup, again while on hands and knees. Seems like lots of love there.” —Rich

MONKEYING AROUND“I absolutely love the CareerBuilder.com commercials where the one guy works in an office setting with monkey co-workers. In on of the scenes two monkeys are photocopying each others butts. At the end of the commercial the guy answers the phone and says ‘I’m sorry, it’s just that I work with a bunch of monkeys.’ In another of the commercials one of the monkeys puts a whoopie cushion on the guys’ seat, and when he sits on it the monkeys go wild with laughter. I can relate some days and it cracks me up each time I see one of the commercials.”     —Sherri

“We need more commercials with animals, like the 'Got Milk' commercials with the cows. I love all of them. The serious commercials are boring and the corny ones are just plain stupid. I refuse to buy Shedds spread because of the commercials.”    —Dianne

“I love all of the 'Happy Cows Come from California’ commercials. Every commercial has a couple of talking cows, and they are usually picking on other barnyard animals. The newest one has two cows sleeping in a barn and a rooster is walking around cock-a-doodling as in to wake them up. The two cows debate on whether they should get up or not. They decide to hit the snooze button and the next thing you see is the rooster getting punted out the barn door.”    —Jennifer

A few good ads

Our discussion of the best and worst commercials continues. More than one reader has sent in a note to the effect of "What's a commercial? I have TiVo." Well yes, I do too, but shockingly, that does not mean I am immune to all TV commercials. In our TV-happy world, TVs are everywhere, from bars and restaurants to airports to stores, and even though I've been TiVo-ified for some time, I don't always lunge for the remote every time there's a program break. I actually get much of my commercial viewing done at work. Since MSNBC has a cable TV station as well as MSNBC.com, televisions are on in the newsroom all day long, and they're TiVo-free.

Could it be that the commercials are getting better? Last year, I had to hunt to find nominees for good commercials among your e-mails, but this year, you're nominating about as many good commercials as bad ones.

Here are some of the commercials you actually like. And keep sending in more good and bad, we'll sum up some bad ones next.

COOKIE MONSTER“One of my favorite commercials is [for] I believe Verizon Wireless, the new grad who is the first to get a job and his friends call him on the phone to ask: ‘bring toilet paper,’ ‘guess how many cookies I have in my mouth,’ and another instance when they yell ‘Smitty!’ Pretty funny, realistic and honest..”    --Melissa

DANCE FEVER“[One of my favorites commercials is] the where a young couple wildly dance in their apartment to “Molly’s Chamber” by Kings of Leon until their downstairs neighbor complains about the noise. So, they hop in their Jetta, buy a big set of speakers, and take them to their new house, where they play their music loud and wildly dance in peace.”

TIME TO CRASH
“My favorite commercial right now is for the Toyota Sienna. (At least I think that is what they are advertising!) Anyway, two boys are in a booth with Bob, the car safety crash test guy. They hoot and holler “cool!” and “do it again Bob!” each time another vehicle crashes into the wall. The best part about the commercial is the end, when the boys are begging, “Come on, Bob, do another one!” Bob replies that they are out of cars to crash, to which the boys ask, “What about your car?” It cracks me up every time I see it!”    --Dawn

KEEP ON TRUCKIN’“Best commercial: Diet Pepsi. I love the ad featuring P. Diddy getting picked up by the Diet Pepsi truck driver and accidentally starting a trend of owning Diet Pepsi trucks. The Chase ones are great too. They almost make me a bit teary eyed.”    --Karen