Lost: The Complete Third Season
What: Twenty-three episodes plus extras.
Why: Will we ever see TV shows again? As the writers' strike dries up new episodes, there's never been a better time to wallow in an overwritten TV series. Lost last season was Twin Peaks in reverse--a killer climax that overshadowed everything before it. Now that we know where it ends, we can loop back and ask what it all means. Maybe it's a fractured present tense, splitting past and future like a prism. Or maybe it's TV's I'm Not There--different parts of one person's hallucination.
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project
On Demand: HBO
What: Doc about the caustic comedian.
Why: "Don has a little boy in him," says Sidney Poitier about the eightysomething comic, but you'd never know it to look at him. Hunchbacked, shuffling and sweating, he looks like a worn-out turtle. This lively and affecting doc frames him as the survivor of a bygone era, when the mob ruled Vegas, Sinatra was king and entertainers played hotel lounges till sunrise. Short on insight but long on atmosphere, interviews and historical context, it situates Rickles' scalding style as the precursor of no-holds-barred successors like Sarah Silverman, Richard Pryor and Chris Rock.
High School Musical 2
What: Sequel to the massively popular teen romance.
Why: Imagine John Waters repackaged for mainstream 'tweens--not the anemic Hairspray, but this lip-synched, candy-colored, multiracial, gay-friendly extravaganza, channeling Waters' cheerfully vulgar vibe through tuneless songs, retro MGM-style dance numbers, orange-bronzed actors and daytime-drama acting. It's like Mickey and Judy go to the mall, or a Midwestern high school's A Midsummer Night's Dream staged by Andy Warhol--song and dance renewing its ancient role as sexual sublimation, primal as a pagan festival.