The Final Four Filmmakers Fight it Out On the Lot

So, is it just me, or is Sam Friedlander (un)officially the Jim Halpert of On the Lot?

Anybody?

Search your heart. It's true. I leave you to it.

So, before saying anything more, I have an admission that I must ... um ... admit. (Hmm. Ah, well. No time to nitpick over word choice [or, if you like, "cavil over diction"] in this cutthroat blogging game. Nope, not a second to lose. Just go, go, go. Yep. No time for dawdling tangents. Especially dawdling tangents devoted to discussing unfocused, tangential writing. Hoo-ee.) Anyway, I've strayed. Mightily. Last time I sat down, watched, and posted, Marty had just gotten the boot and we were down to 13 or so. I've been checking in occasionally, catching a few of the new films and more or less keeping up on who got tossed. But what with The Next Best Thing and the fact that Lot was pretty habitually cheesing me right off, there are certainly a few installments that slipped by me.

At any rate, I was a bit surprised to flip to Fox yesterday evening and discover that we were already down to five: Sam/Jim, my personal pick to win (I've been on his side since "Replication Theory"); Will, the "silent film" (per Carrie Fisher) "Lucky Penny" guy from Texas; Adam, the quiet but consistently solid guy; Jason, the down south dude who deals in heart and whimsy; and Zach, the crowd favorite FX whiz.

But then, if you'd asked me early on to narrow the field to five based on my own judgments and apparent viewer preferences, it might not have looked all that different. At first glance, I was the tiniest bit surprised to find Will still hanging around, but then, his stuff, in my experience, has always been reliable, and he's both terminally likable and enormously popular with the viewing public. A commendable cocktail of traits, that. I was shocked back when talented young'ns Phil (the Brit with the visual flair) and Trever (whose golf short was unfairly maligned, I thought) were ousted early, but in terms of the writing/directing popularity package, I don't suppose they'd have outlasted any of those five.

Perhaps the least surprising face among the finalists was Zach's. From the first, he's been among the most, if not the most, habitually praised director(s) on the show. He's ridiculously well liked by viewers and judges alike for both his formidable skill and unassuming, humble manner. All of which, of course, made it a doozy of a twist that he got the ax last night.

So, then ... it's gotta be Sam now, right?

For me, yeah. But it's not up to me, and his Saw meets 9-to-5 take on a viewer submitted premise didn't seem to overwhelmingly impress. Nor did anyone else's really, except Adam's, which was a wait for it stroke of unbridled creativity that packed a pee-yourself ending and blew the judges -- and everyone else -- away.

And then there were four.

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Brian Villalobos lives in Austin, Texas (practically), writes on film and TV, and totally cried at Stuart Little.

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