Year in Review: Top 5 Ensemble Casts - Featured

I've always believed that very often, characters make a show, and while all the shows on this list have fantastic writing and storylines, an enormous part of what makes these shows work so very well is the amazing way their whole casts work so perfectly together. So, here are our top 5 greatest ensemble casts of the year! What casts would you add to the list?


Modern Family

This is a prime example of a well-oiled hilarious cast machine! As you'll see as a theme on this list, great comedies need a great cast to make them work. Family shows always have their quirky characters to try to make a show unique, but it's rare a show can throw in a bunch of quirky characters and not just have them be over-the-top and clashing with the other characters. In Modern Family's case, they found the magic by mixing all the elements of funny families together - the middle-aged guy remarried to a younger woman way too hot for him, the gay couple including two somehow unique stereotypical yet unique guys, and the "cool dad" and his family - all in one giant ball of family hilarity and, even better, non-cheesy family love.


Glee

This one's a given for one of the best ensemble casts as most of cast is literally an ensemble in the show. But a bit like Modern Family, Glee managed to throw in all the stereotypical characters, this time around for high school kids, and make it unique, outrageous, and relatable. Who would imagine adoring the struggles of high school football players, cheerleaders, glee club geeks, and even teachers who are not just fill-in adult figures? It's done so well that they can throw the whole cast into a situation or throw any characters into a situation in small groups and it all results in fantastic cast dynamics.


Chuck

It's tricky to get a good mix of cast on a show like this starring a lovable geek, his weird sidekick buddies, and two federal agents, plus the geek's family, and have them all be such a well-rounded, solid group. Yet, a little like Glee, you can mix this cast up however you like, aka Sarah and Morgan having dinner with Awesome and Ellie, Chuck, Casey, and the Buy More gang at work, or them all doing some secret spy mission together that half the cast doesn't realize they're helping with, and it's all amazing. Without all these character elements to Chuck, even, dare I say it, Chuck Bartowski the adorable would not be half the endearing, full character we believe him to be.


Mad Men

This is one of those casts that could go terribly wrong because there are so many strong characters and incredibly strong actors and actresses. Yet in a rare stroke of luck, or maybe really excellent cast planning, the strong acting and characters come together to make one big super cast! I was reminded by how much I adored the core Cooper Sterling cast together in the outstanding Season 3 finale as they pulled in each of the main cast members from the agency, including bringing back the much missed Joan. The dynamic of them all working together in that finale was a spark of awesomeness, set perfectly against the craziness of the other important family element to the show and cast, aka Betty leaving Don. This is a cast of super strength that after the end of Season 3, I believe will only move more mountains for seasons to come.


The Office

I've always loved the whole cast of The Office, but this past year reminded me how much the cast together is essential to this show being great. We had Pam going off to art school throwing off the dynamic of the office for a while, Ryan entirely gone working at a bowling alley, and an irrelevant temp receptionist leaving out that fun of that role entirely while Pam was gone. We also then had the weirdness of Michael trying to start his own company with the previously missing Pam and Ryan, which thankfully finally led them all back to working together as they belong! I enjoyed the different plotlines going on, but nothing's ever as hilarious and fun as having the whole gang together!

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Dec 23, 2009 4:22AM EST

Well since they have the largest cast on tv, and all of their individual story-arcs intertwine seemlessly togther, Lost would absolutley have to make the top of this list. I would also put Community on this list too, they cast actors who always play small supporting roles in everything else to fill their main characters, such as Shirley(literally the first choice for every supporting black female character on tv shows and commericals) and it works very well together. Even the just recuring character's like Eric Christopher Olsen, John Oliver, John Micheal Higgens, and Jim Rash are so good in their small roles; the great individual character actors is what really makes this show work. Other shows with great ensemble casts are Smallville, Bones, and Dollhouse

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Dec 24, 2009 6:18PM EST

I think the reason Lost isn't included is b/c it's such a horrible show. The title is "Top 5 Ensemble Casts" not "5 Biggest Casts." The story-arcs intertwine seemlessly together? Really? No show has ever been so forced and ridiculous. When you have to go so far as to include demigods (as it's been explained to me since I stopped watching long ago, when the show began to fall flat on its face) in order to force some continuity into the mix, you've got anything but a seemless intertwining of story-arcs. Lost is a great name for the program, because it truly is.
Anyway, back to the good shows. Chuck and Mad Men I totally agree with. Chuck's cast is what makes the show so entertaining every single episode, no matter the relative strength or weakness of the individual episode based upon its own merits within the story of the show. As for Mad Men, I agree entirely with kendra.
Glee is also very good. I initially didn't give it a chance and only under intense peer pressure did I cave. And I'm glad I did. The whole show is enjoyable, aside from four of the kids so far being nothing more than guys 9-12 on a team that needed four more players. There's nothing wrong with them being nothing more than supporting characters, but we should know them a little better than as "other Asian."

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Dec 24, 2009 10:42PM EST

Uh yeah, the show is about how all of these people are connected in some way and brought to this island for a reason. All of their stories are intertwined seemlessly together. Character's story-lines will be presented then you find out later another cast member was present in their back story or their back stories were going on in the same place or connected via the same people so yeah that is the arcs intertwing seemlessly. Sorry if all you wanted it to be was Gillian's Island 2.0, but they kind of presented this otherworldy environment from the very beginning of the show, nothing was forced, its always been a sci-fi show. Sorry if you got Lost and were not able to follow along with one of the most intelligently written shows to ever be on tv. The simple fact that they are able to juggle 12-15 main charcter showlines connected into one show is absolutely the reason they have one of the best ensemble casts, no other show has as many main characters, whether you like it or not, its kind of the definition of ensemble.

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Dec 25, 2009 1:16AM EST

I would like to start by saying I love Chuck, but I wouldn't consider it an ensemble cast. The show is truly based only on Chuck, whereas the other shows on this list are based on the group as a whole.

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Dec 25, 2009 1:19AM EST

how does one call Lost a horrible show? I can understand not liking it, it isn't everyone's cup of tea or you simply jumped on the bandwagon too late so the show makes no sense to you. That's fine, I accept those, but to say it is horrible is just ridiculous. The story lines do connect seamlessly, the fact that they connect is the backbone of the show. Also your comment about demigods just being a plot device (rewording of your comment) is not smart. If you at least watched the first season, there has always been an element of some higher being at work. It was not just thrown in there, Jacob has always been around. Sorry about venting, I just love Lost.
I would also include Lost in the list for best ensemble cast. I totes agree with Mad Men and Glee. I am a total Gleek, I think the cast does a great job of having you like them, despite their cliched characters. Mad Men is just amazing. Chuck and Modern Family have great casts as well. I love the Office's cast but (don't hate me) the show has not been great recently. And it is always great.
Other shows I would like to add are Community and Parks and Recreation.

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Dec 25, 2009 3:42AM EST

Lost is a forced nightmare of bad acting and worse writing. It's viewership decreased every single episode last year and it's audience has been cut by nearly 50% since 2004. Maybe it started off as a decent show, but Lost has certainly not ended up there.
And just b/c you're mindlessly addicted to the show and buy whatever you're spoon fed does not mean it's done well. They force bad answers down your throat and you accept it b/c you needed something and you're happy to finally have some resolution after being teased and clueless for so long. And they know that most still watching are addicted and they can go where ever they want with the show/story b/c their audience at this point isn't demanding quality, they're just demanding something, anything to advance the story and tie it together. A drug addict isn't concerned about the quality of their drug so much as they are about getting their fix. They'll mix all sorts of garbage together as long as it gets them high.

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Dec 25, 2009 9:49PM EST

Mindless? I think Lost viewers would be the exact opposite of mindless, it a show that forces you to pay attention and get in depth with its mythology. And what exactly has been forced? What has been spoon fed answers? Just take a look at how they are going to explain the whispers which were occuring in season 1, now all of that is coming together is season 6, they obivously knew where they were going to take it, just cause you arn't smart enough to enjoy the depth of the writing doesn't mean its a horrible show. And you are the exact reason why their viewership went down from the early seasons, people started out thinking it was just going to be a show about people on an island but when it turned out to be a show you have to tune into week after week to not be lost with the plot, they are not going to draw in the average viewer who simply wants "mindless" television. Enjoy your reality tv, I'd much rather watch a intelligent show like lost.

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Dec 27, 2009 12:12PM EST

No sci-fi shows on that list. I love Sanctuary. I am surprised that The Big Bang Theory did not come up on the top 10 for 2009. It's one of my favorites. The Community is also a great show. Quite possibly the ratings people only take what people watch on T.V. and not the internet. Internet viewing might change things.

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Dec 27, 2009 1:16PM EST

danumd87 - sorry mate but your SO wrong. Your critique of the show is a just a bland list of generic criticisms that you've obviously read on the back of a milk carton. Did your friend who 'explained all about the demi-god' even understand what was going on? Lost had a couple of ropey episodes in season 3, but apart from that has been consistently the best written show on telly. Its an epic, so the expectation that it'll all be nicely tied up by the end of the episode is a little naive. If you want to be challenged intellectually then watch this show, else head over to the X Factor and enjoy the feeling of your brains dribbling out of your ears.

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Dec 29, 2009 12:35AM EST

Really Loxley33, I should watch Lost if I want to be challenged intellectually? First, I've watched the show and it's quite frankly a horribly written show and there's no intellectual challenge to speak of. It's a tv show pal. There's nothing for you to figure out. And even when you do try to figure things out, it's a show written by individuals who can take it in any direction they choose - not a mathematical equation. So no, I won't watch Lost and certainly won't do so when seeking intellectual stimulation. I'll continue my legal studies and to do this thing so many of you children seem afraid of, called reading. Perhaps Lost is intellectually stimulating to those of you out there flipping burgers for a living, but for the professionals out there, Lost is nothing but bad acting, worse writing, and a constant reminder of how so many of us have to cater to the lowest common denominator on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the idiots of this country far outnumber those who keep it afloat and functional. And even more unsettling, your welfare and unemployment dollars are just as appealing as my dollars. Thus, catering to the foolish masses. But please remember that millions thought the world was flat and millions more that royalty was godly. Common thought does not amount to accurate thought. Simply because you and a few million others believe the same foolish thing to be correct does not make it so. If anything, history has taught us that the masses are almost always wrong.
Apparently the show was aptly named for its fan base.

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Dec 29, 2009 8:15AM EST

Oh dear me Dan....
Where to start?
Firstly: I commend you on your choice of career. However I would not start wearing your legal studies as a badge of honour (or intellectual achievement) yet. US Law schools don't discriminate - they'll take the cash either way (I know, I spent a semester at one of the very best and can vividly remember some of the numpties I met there even now...) You'll find that the hurdles just get higher and as you aim for the top, one by one the chaff will fall away as they are found wanting. As the youngest QC in my Inn in London in over 35 years (you may even be able to work out who I am from that statement, if you are any good at research) I have met a lot of confident young prospects over the years who were proud of their studies - applying it in the battle ground of the court is a completely different prospect. Oh and as your still studying, you’re not a professional yet. Please don't go round claiming to be a lawyer when you’re really a student, it devalues it for all of us people who actually have passed the bar and more importantly have actually worked in court!
On that note, a few tit-bits of advise on some of the more flawed aspects of your argument.
1) In your earlier statement you mentioned your friend had advised you on the latest developments in Lost, yet in your most recent statement that has changed to 'I've watched the show'. Well which is it? Because it can't be both? The fact of the matter is you've only seen the start of the show, didn't get it, and now your passing judgement on it... so your judgement is worthless and it isn't based on all the facts. You've not researched your topic, and instead you have based it on unreliable second hand testimony.
2) Your demographic assessment of Losts viewer-ship is equally flawed. If you look at the Nielsen Media Research website there is a breakdown by profile clearly indicating that 80% of viewer-ship sits in the ABC(1) section (terms indicating the more affluent end of the spectrum) which clearly excludes the burger flipping brigade. Whilst affluence is not a definitive indicator of intelligence it does generally coincide with educational achievement - thus meaning Lost attracts a more well educated viewer-ship - and from that I will extend the point to reason that more educated people are stimulated by Lost (that's why they watch it) - you must be the exception.
3) Quality of the acting/script etc... Lost has so far won 34 awards from the major institutions in the US, dozens of international awards, and quite a few minor ones to boot. Categorises include; Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Drama, oh and best Ensemble Cast (thus disproving your original point). Beyond the awards won, Lost has also been nominated for over 100 award categories covering every aspect of the production.
4) On a non-Lost topic (but as an enthusiastic amateur historian not one I can just let slide): your statement "But please remember that millions thought the world was flat and millions more that royalty was godly" displays a primary school level of knowledge on the topic and underlines the reason why your opinions are suspect. I've seen your type before, you obviously gain a perverse pleasure from remaining aloof from things like this, publicly turning your nose up at them, and trying to convince everyone around you that it represents some kind of modern Sodom and Gomorrah. How individual you are!
If you require any assistance with disproving my points, or in fact with your studies, I charge commercial clients £1000 an hour (no dole hand out for me - oh and I've paid more tax this year than you'll earn in your lifetime - and that's with one of the best accountants around, else it would have been several of your lifetimes). Oh and as a final point, as you’re a student, its most likely fathers money, or a grant, or it’s a company that is paying for your studies, so best not to criticise those others who also accept handouts...

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Dec 29, 2009 8:26AM EST

Oh and as a PS - your subversion of the name of the show (Lost), done in a way that literally dozens of other commentators haven't already thought of over the past 5 years, shows what a unique little flower you really are!
PPS: you've been repeating yourself since the first post (with increasingly childish sub-text), and as I've just schooled you on all of said points, unless you actually have something further to add, please don't bother.

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Dec 29, 2009 10:05AM EST

I would start by saying that I love The Office, Glee and Chuck and I totally agree that tha cast are great!I was however surprised that you didn't mention the cast of Friday Night Lights which is in my opinion the best one on TV right now, as is the show.

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Dec 29, 2009 2:47PM EST

I appreciate your forced arrogance Loxley, it was amusing, though you clearly have no skill or taste for it. Your errors began in the first paragraph...
If you were actually an attorney, you'd know that most law students have done such work before their 3L year. Not to mention the fact that every law school I've heard of begins emphasizing the fact that you are indeed a professional while still in school, given the work you'll do while still being educated. Whether you clerk for a judge or are a summer associate, you are by definition a professional. Whether paid or unpaid, you are becoming an expert in your field and are being compensated in some fashion for your efforts. If you didn't get any in court experience until after you passed the bar (which its relatively evident is a lie) then you were a quite poor example of a law student. Furthermore, acting as if passing the bar is some sort of Herculean task is only more amusing. The vast majority of students pass most bars, with only CA, NY, NJ, and FL posing much difficulty.
1) Really, it's not possible to have both watched a show and have spoken about it with another person? But aren't we doing that right now. Wow, we must be demi-gods or something...
2) Since you conveniently didn't provide a link and I am admittedly not proficient with that site, I'll do you a favor and accept your argument here. Nevertheless, the educated masses can still make poor decisions. And the mere fact that they may watch the show does not mean they find it "intellectually stimulating." If you are the reasonable and intelligent person you insist you are, then surely you can see that was a horrible choice of words on your part. Very few people watch a fictional drama for the purpose of being intellectually stimulated. I would think an equally low number would claim to be so effected by a television show. Perhaps I was effected by Band of Brothers, but that was a program with a grain of truth to it and that brought to life an important part of our world's history. That, I think a reasonable person could call "intellectually stimulating", but Lost, a show about a bunch of fictional characters stuck on an island and the absurd occurrences and histories of their lives is at best "creatively entertaining", not "intellectually stimulating".
3) I think it's clear I don't care what the awards and the committees handing them out say. I thought I was quite frank in my opinion on the thoughts of the masses. An award for Best Ensemble Cast does not in any way "disprove" my point. Again, clearly you are not a lawyer as no lawyer I've ever encountered would make such a foolish, limited statement. Perhaps from your perspective that is evidence to use in an argument against my point, but disprove my point - hardly.
4) I was catering to the lowest common denominator there. I hardly think a forum such as this is one where I would be best served by making obscure references which the common viewer wouldn't (nor should they, for that matter) understand. Again, your point is nothing but a weak attempt at a blanket statement without considering the alternative. A horribly weak attempt at argument and not one any trained lawyer would take. Just further evidence that you are not what you claim to be. However, I won't be so foolish as to say this evidence "disproves" your claim. It simply serves as further evidence to consider. The likelihood is that you're a either a liar or a very poor attorney who shouldn't be lecturing anyone on the merits of the profession, but I can not be sure. Again, it's only evidence to consider, as I don't draw conclusions based upon limited information, unlike yourself.

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Dec 29, 2009 3:01PM EST

Also, you've seen me type before? Perhaps you truly are a demi-god. I can't think of any other way you've entered my room or office and watched me type. Oh...maybe you just mean you've read my posts on other articles. But that isn't possible, given this is the only one I've ever posted in. Hmmm. Your lies continue to unravel.
Please, you do not charge 1,000 anything per hour. You have abundant time to spend on this website, any professional on that level would not have such time and if they did would spend it in a more productive way. I'm only a law student and I don't have that kind of time, unless I'm between semesters as I am at the moment.
Finally, you don't know how much money I have made or will make in my lifetime. Even if you dislike me or find me unintelligent, there are surely many people in this upside down world who have made tremendous amounts of money despite your disapproval. Again, another instance of your outrageous statements and the mounting evidence that you can not be what you claim.
Last, I have been very fortunate in my life to have had no difficulties with money. I began investing when I was 15 and was lucky enough to be forced out of the market to pay for school just before 9/11, so I got out of the tech stocks while they were at an all time high. Also, I've been a semi-professional poker player for years and have paid for law school with a portion of my winnings. I'm not rich by my standards, but I have a good deal of money...enough that unless you are making several million a year, your previous statements are as a matter of fact inaccurate. But you like to speak out of ignorance and make definitive statements w/o an facts. But hey, you're the one who is a millionaire a hundred times over who charges 1,000/hr. Perhaps your psychic abilities can explain this, though they don't explain how you've been caught lying...but hey, I'm just a student, what do I know?
Anyway, thanks for the entertainment. You are a liar and a bad one at that as I caught you within 50 words of your last post, but hey, keep it up if that's how you get your jollies. I always enjoy exchanging words with self proclaimed internet hot shots. It's amazing how many ten fold millionaires troll these forums, ya know...

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Dec 30, 2009 8:09AM EST

Oh dear Dan... Your confusion knows no bounds! Research; QC. It’ll answer some of your financial and professional questions.I don't feel the need to add a huge amount to my previous points, as I have systematically proven my points (sorry old bean but I am the only one creating and sticking to a logical argument here - just saying 'well I don't agree, its excrement' isn't an argument) and you have failed to come up with a sufficient retort (as someone who argues for a living you can take my word for that – and no your opinion as a student of law isn’t as relevant – your still learning).1) - I have uncovered your hypocrisy and you have no counter argument, just a faux-witty response.2) - do your own research; it took me three clicks to find the pdf. As for your argument that anything not based on reality has limited artistic value - you are obviously a philistine. The prism of your mind’s eye is limited if you can only relate to something soaked in a real event. Plato's cave is complete fiction but allows us to understand ourselves and the world around us. As is the Forever War, Enders Game, The Foundation Series, etc, all sci-fi so completely fictional, but all drenched in human and artistic value. Lost is full of relevant themes such as duology, free will v fate, rebirth, redemption, salvation, rivalry and revenge. You and your friend must have missed that...3) Peer review of your work is vital in any profession. You’ll find this out when you actually become one. Ultimately the two most important points of view on your work are your own and your peers. So Lost’s consistent thumbs up from all their peers (not just one or two paid off TV organisations, its universal awards praise) trumps your individual opinion.4) You’re the one who started off highlighting your intellectual credentials – flat earth wasn’t even believed when it was meant to been believed. The ancient Egyptians knew the earth was round. Flat-earthers were a creation of the Victorian era, created as an example of how backwards people used to be. I merely highlighted your mistake to underline your sloppy arguing style.You are also rather easily confused. I did not state I had seen you type i.e. contribute to this or another site, before. I stated I had seen your type of person before (tying in with my point that you’re not the unique little flower you obviously believe you are). You have used your misunderstanding to then try and undermine my honesty. Oh deary deary me. This does not bode well for your career. Lesson 1 - listen (or read) intently. I hope you’re not going to be one of those court litigators who spend the whole time someone else is speaking thinking of what they’re going to say next, because you’re not sharp enough to just listen and react! Another one of your arguments built upon a foundation of sand. To clarify, I have never claimed to have seen you write anything before, however your personality type is stereotypical; similar to a ‘paint by numbers’ drawing - mass produced and of limited artistic value.

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Dec 30, 2009 8:39AM EST

Anyway, I am not a liar. I am merely a motivated antagonist. You were stridently pushing your point across (with no basis for it) and brow beating anyone who disagreed with you by pointing out that you are studying a course towards becoming a professional and weren't a little working class drone (and having come from a working class background I found your arrogant generalisations quite annoying). Aha; so this jumped up little law student peaked my interest. Well I'm a senior member of the international profession you are aspiring to join, most definitely not some consumer-bot and so went about logically pointed out you are wrong. Being publicly slapped down like that must be embarrassing for you - hence your 'toys out of pram' response. For a student wallowing in case studies, refined in the art of research, it won't take long to work out who I am. I'm not a 'troll', you would love it to be that simple, but I'm not. I'm just exactly the right person to be putting you in your place. By hiding behind the lying troll defence you avoid having to contemplate the awkward truth - I am who I say I am.
Your definition of a professional is childish and riddled with holes - you are by your own definition an aspiring professional - you’re not one yet. When I was attending University we were also encouraged to start cultivating a professional demeanour and approach to our studies, we weren't however told to delude ourselves. You are an apprentice, a trainee, a novice. No-one is paying you to do the job. You are not a chartered member of your profession. So you’re not a professional. You are a student.
Finally: One day if your successful you’ll understand that even doctors and lawyers have to blow off steam sometimes as well. With my hourly rates comes a price tag - I am in court on the 4th, my family has been away in Bali since Boxing Day and I have been pulling 18 hour days at the office. So no rest for the wicked this Christmas. I work in a listed building, so you can't install Sky, cable doesn't come this far along the river, so the internet (and sites like this), are one of the few outlets I get. Welcome to the grind: hours and hours of research. However the few minutes I spent putting you in your place have been a delightful distraction.
Happy New Year

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Dec 30, 2009 8:54AM EST

Dan: PS - Technically, your on a site where LOST is one of the most popular shows of the week whenever its on, and you have come on and started bad-mouthing the show. By definition - you are the Troll.

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Dec 30, 2009 2:18PM EST

It would be better for your arguement danumd87 if anything you say negatively about Lost were actually true. There is nothing to figure out in Lost episodes? The writers actually embed clues in every episode that viewers can search for and try to decipher. There are anagrams hidden in books the character's read, signs that show up in the background, even character's names. When Ben first appered and he was captured he gave them the name Henry Gale from Minnestoa, which translated to something like, "Bad Other Cant be Trusted" or something along those lines. In the season finale where Jack meets Kate by the Airport and tells her they need to go back, earlier in the episode a sign for a funeral parlor was an anagram that read "Flashforward." The whispers are recorded backwards audio that people reverse and transcribe. Before we knew what dharma was their symbol would so up on random things, such as the fin of a shark in the ocean. When Echo died and the smoke monster killed him, when him and the cloud came face to face and it started to flash, if you slowed it down you could see faces of people from his life. "There is nothing to figure out in Lost episodes"? Its really the only show ever written where there is everything to figure out, and week to week the plot is written to give you opportunities to do just that. Lost is without a doubt one of the most intricately written plots ever, and if you are to limit to see it or enjoy it then I guess I am just sorry for you.

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Dec 30, 2009 3:17PM EST

enjoying your flame war? or can everyone move on?

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Dec 30, 2009 6:28PM EST

I love Lost, but this is getting ridiculous, chill out everyone. different strokes for different folks.

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Jan 4, 2010 7:55PM EST

why dont these two guys just fight in real life. so you like lost and he doesn.t big fucking deal. i cantThe office is ballin

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Jan 17, 2010 12:17PM EST

ok seriously for all your fancy words and your big arguments i hate to point out that firstly your taking to each other over the internet not real life and secondly your taking about a show which is not real?? in my opinion lost is a terrible show but at the end of the day it will keep goin as long as people watch it to make money so get over it!
yous are basically arguing over who is smarter because of a terrible tv show and in this you are slagging of the 'stupid' people who cant think at least there not wasting there time moaning and sounding stupid as a result so just build a bridge already!!
as for the actual post i love glee and chuck there awesome i would also like to throw in dollhouse i just dont think it gets the appreciation it deserves and also doctor who, psych and how i met your mother all have amazing casts!!

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