Archives for posts with tag: 24

The clock ticks again.  Four years after going silent and Jack Bauer going on the run… the split screens return.  Except this time it’s in London.  And we’re still WASTING TIME!

1–JACK IS BACK.  Everybody’s favorite CTU agent returns…and even has multiple twitter handles: real_jackbauer, 24_JackBauer_24, and jackbauer.  Makes perfect sense for a man who pulled 8 seriously sick all-nighters.

2–“The only reason you’re still conscious is I don’t feel like carrying you”.  Uttered in Season Five as a throwaway line…proof that Jack is in control.  Even when he’s captured.  Because that’s what he wants all along.  Capture?  He chooses to visit…and when he leaves.

3–Competent underling/incompetent supervisor– Benjamin Bratt’s Steve Navarro never stood a chance.  And doesn’t Kate Morgan remind you of Kate Warner from Season Two?  Minus the sister who shot her fiancee on their wedding day, of course.  I’m debating what’s going to be more annoying:   the fact that she’s going to be right all the time or the fact that the Americans won’t believe her until it’s too late.  Again.

4–Meet the new boss!  Former Defense Secretary James Heller is now President…making him the 10th Chief Executive since 2001’s premiere (we can backdate that season to the year 2000 to keep in line with real-time election cycles).  Are you ready for the list?  David Palmer, James Prescott (acting via the 25th Amendment), John Keeler, Charles Logan, Hal Gardner, Wayne Palmer, Noah Daniels and Allison Taylor and Mitchell Hayworth.  Now Heller.  At least there are no underlying issues.

5–Underlying Issues– so President Heller is confusing Teddy for Franklin Roosevelt.  He’s “forgetting things”.  And his Machiavellian Chief of Staff is married to his daughter (Audrey–or as her first husband said, “Orrdrey”).  No chance of any problems whatsoever.

6–Audrey’s back!– so much for being catatonic.  And she’s happily married!  Except it’s to that Machiavellian Chief of Staff.  As Audrey’s been around and about the federal government in the “24” world for some time, shouldn’t she know that there are usually turncoats in the President’s inner circle?  And they often just happen to be the Chief of Staff?

7–Pity the smug agent who thinks he has Jack under control– Erik?  Instead of saying “You were really something, Bauer, back in the day” why didn’t you just offer up “So you’ll escape my clutches at what point?”.  And after the escape he still thinks he can out-think know-it-all agent Kate Morgan.  Sorry, buddy…but at least you’re still alive.  Because we need to see you underestimate Jack at least once an episode from here on out.

8–Goth Chloe– so this is what London really does to people.  All those beans and who knows what they serve over there nowadays–outside of London Broil, which is always exemplary.  Will she have a dragon tattoo?  Is her ex-husband Miles or the child from season 7 not too far away?

9–Torture Time– of course, dealing with the shoe salesman/computer expert in Seasons Five and Six make whatever torture she’s going through seem like heaven.  Thank goodness Jack was there to re-animate her…

10–Drones…or this season’s first MacGuffin.  The bad guys (and if 24 has taught us anything, it’s that there are quite a few of them) plot is to hijack control of US drones and fire on our own troops while killing a few British officers to muck up the extension of the expiring lease of a US base.  Topical and different–although there’s no guarantee that will be the focus 8 episodes from now.

11–“I don’t have any friends”.  Jack’s end of first episode confession is sad because I’m sure Chloe thinks he’s her friend and the dude driving the fan has to wonder “who the hell am I?”  Sometimes, it’s just better to keep what you’re thinking inside.

12–More topical takes– Chloe apparently works for the Avis version of WikiLeaks.  And even though she’s oh so careful about getting into the remote location that has way too few pizza boxes to be housing computer experts, Jack tails her there.  There’s even a little bit of conflict between her and Jack about leaking classified documents.  Nice filler between chase scenes, for sure.

13–First Bad Guy– there are often multiple villains in any one season of 24…much like clowns coming out of a car.  The first clown in London is “Derek Yates”–the scoundrel who hijacked the drone.  Jack tailed him to the Burger King of WikiLeaks.  Have it your way…

14–First Superior– naturally Derek Yates speaks to his “boss” about the drone strike gone bad.  It’s also nice to see 24 have a female chief antagonist for a change…even if it’s revealed in a few weeks that she’s reporting to somebody else as is the case with most of these villains.

15–Prime Minister Alastair Davies--go figure the British would learn about the Drone misfire during an event with the President.  Just when you thought there would be eternal world peace, the process gets hijacked.

16–The Bad Guy before the Bad Guy– Jack has to go to a drug dealer’s den to find this “Derek Yates”.  Have we mentioned Yates has an annoying girlfriend?  From Eastern Europe?  The drug dealer is having no part of Jack getting to Yates’ room.  That may not have been his first mistake, but it most certainly was his last mistake.

17–“I can tell you think you’re a pretty intimidating group. You probably think I’m at a disadvantage. I promise you I am not.”–the money quote of the night.  I refuse to even commit the drug dealer’s name to memory or this page…Jack disposed of him and his underlings in such ridiculous fashion.

18–Keystone Cops!– So much for pursuing Yates and his really annoying girlfriend.  Jack runs into CIA-London agents. Instead of locking down the area, they focus on chasing Jack into a dark basement.  With nobody posted outside. All we need for these scenes is the Benny Hill theme to play in the background.

19–In Some Cultures, the head-butt is a sign of affection.  Jack after whispering to Kate Morgan (still the smartest agent in the bunch, her inability to realize her husband was selling secrets to the Chinese notwithstanding) what he knew knocked the lady unconscious.  Audrey has a run for her money.

20–Debate Prep!– Audrey and Machiavellian Chief of Staff decide to prepare her “initial stages of dementia father” for an address to Parliament.  Will he have to wear one of those wigs?  As he stumbles on some facts Machiavellian Chief of Staff refuses to let up– and Audrey is not cool with this.  Like this is the first time he’s had to challenge Heller on anything?  Audrey turns into an ice princess–and know it all CIA agent becomes the leader in the clubhouse.

21–Chloe saves the day…again.  And if Kate Morgan doesn’t work out, Chloe’s your girl.  Somehow Jack slides through a tiny crevice in the basement to get back outside…and while the CIA London guys are running around to “Yakety Sax” Ms. O’Brian comes through with a getaway car for Jack.  And of course he has information for her computer.

22–Yates, we hardly knew ye– who would guess the annoying girlfriend would wind up killing Derek Yates?  To top it off…she reveals she’s not even Eastern European!  She was wearing a wig as well– what is this, The Americans?  She’s in cahoots with the woman talking to Derek on the phone earlier–who refers to herself as “mummy”.  Could we be seeing a replay of Dina and Behrooz Araz?  Philip and Graem Bauer?  The Drazen Family Singers/Killers?

23–Uploading the master plan– So Jack and Chloe now have the schematics on this drone thing-great!  Uh-oh…there’s a self-destruct.  The files are being erased!  They’re no closer to the truth than they were two hours ago!  Who would have thought!

24–DAMMIT!– we all knew Jack had to get at least one in before the end of the night.

Just one year ago I lamented one rather underwhelming TV seasonThe Office was put out of its misery– and it was misery, make no mistake about it.  How I Met Your Mother found a way to stretch its eighth season into a ninth by having 24 episodes deal with one weekend (hey, 24 got there first– and did it a whole lot better).  Dallas even tried to soldier on minus the one Four Star General we all tuned in to watch.  Would things get even worse before they got better?

Despite the fact that Two Broke Girls remains a program people watch, 2014 is looking up.  First to clear the air about addition by subtraction:  I watched 41 minutes of Dallas this spring.  I’m over it.  I can’t buy John Ross as somebody who can master his “ABC’s”… let alone scheme on any level.  The “sensitive Christopher storyline” has Bobby’s son growing a beard and dating a single mom.  Kind of like what happened to Steve Sanders on 90120 with the Hillary Swank character, except instead of adding facial hair Ian Ziering simply started to lose hair.  Drunk Sue Ellen was shocking in 1978…not so now.  Even the burning Southfork was 30 years after the fact.  Where’s Ray Krebs when you need him?

 

Mad Men– this is “technically” the final season.  Even though they’re producing 8 this year followed by 8 more next year.  What’s going to stop shows from eventually producing 13 “one episode” seasons down the road?  Don Draper’s in a free-fall this May…with his wife in Hollywood, his work life on heavily measured life support (reporting to rookie of the year Lou) and his children being played by two of the worst actors ever (Kiernan Shipka excepted)  Instead of Bob Benson (from accounts!) cursing in Spanish, we’re cursing any and all Bobby Draper storylines.  I’m glad he traded a sandwich for gumdrops.  I’m thankful they’ve kept Gene on the sidelines for the most part.  And I’m surprised they haven’t turned Glen into the lead singer from the Turtles (they’re dead ringers).  It’s interesting how the firm is divided against itself– California/New York, Roger Sterling/Jim Cutler, Peggy/her underlings, Dawn/Stacy.  With the glacial pace this show proceeds, will there be any resolution of any of these conflicts anytime soon?  Tune in next year…but later this season.

 

The Americans– at least Sterling Cooper & Partners is one office.  Each front here is fractured (FBI, Russian Embassy, the Jennings, Stan’s family, the handlers) and somehow makes progress despite itself.  I credit the wigs.  Philip and Elizabeth are having issues managing their kids (nothing like sneaking into a neighbor’s house to play Intellivision–only to fall asleep), marriages (Martha’s this close to going over the edge in one direction or another) and methods (from Philip changing the bait for Yousaf to Elizabeth having to let her Nicaraguan protégé die).  Thank goodness Stan is being worked over by Nina and Oleg…while the gay Navy SEAL is going rogue.  It’s a credit to the writers and actors that a show with protagonists trying to bring down the U.S. hasn’t turned people off yet.

 

Turn– while the cover for these spies isn’t a travel agency in 1776 (it’s cabbage farming)…intrigue and information gathering while the other side is looking the other way isn’t that different.  Instead of the hero looking to steal stealth weaponry secrets for the USSR, the good guy in AMC’s new show is trying to get one over on the Redcoats.  There’s the unsure of himself lead who winds up being pulled into the greater cause.  There’s the forbidden love of his life he’s now working with to beat the British…along with intergenerational conflict.  There’s even a comically evil British Captain who smacks of the Ski Patrol/Cobra Kai/Alpha Beta type…only with an accent that makes you want to punch him.  The question is much like The Americans– how beholden to specific facts of history will this show be?

 

24– Jack’s back…if only in limited form.  Will the seconds count off twice as quickly?  Is there a metric hour that I didn’t know about?  After a less than awesome Season 8 that wrapped up four years ago…he’s in London this time (mixed reviews for foreign 24’s:  while Songala was cool in the movie 24: Redemption and the Season 5/6 car commercial in China was decent, Season 3’s Mexican storyline was fraught with overacting).  And Benjamin Bratt’s chasing him while his ex (Audrey’s no longer catatonic!) is married to Tate Donovan who works for her father the President (I buy James Heller as our chief executive a lot more than Wayne Palmer).  Chloe’s back with a bit of a gothic look (hopefully her personality remains the same–meaning socially incompetent) while there’s a new crisis (isn’t there always?).  There will be shooting, shouting and ridiculous plot holes.  I’m hoping this is more like Seasons 1, 2, 4 &5 than 3, 6 & 8.  WE’RE WASTING TIME!

Robert Griffin III made headlines this past month when his wedding registry was revealed at Bed, Bath & Beyond and fans bought RG3 and his fiancée a slew of gifts. He then had the nerve to pose in front of empty boxes and put it on his twitter feed, thanking his fans. The nerve! Actually, Robert Griffin III makes headlines just by being RG3.   He could tie his shoe on the corner of M and 20th in DC and that would be the lead (“RG3 uses bunny in the hole shoe-tying method”).  But much was made about the Redskins quarterback accepting gifts from strangers…instead of doing the “right thing” and donating them to charity.

There are other questions in the mix…do you get the QB and his wife to be Burgundy and Gold colors in everything? Or should you give a nod to their Baylor background and throw in some green and gold? Is there anything in “Maroon and Black”? And would he get the reference? (truth be told I once led the league in references not understood). Which unlucky individual saw the registry and said “darn it– they only have ceremonial towels left”. Can you have too many ceremonial towels?  And who stole my thunder getting them a waffle maker?

For the record, I knew about the registry and I learned that Bed, Bath & Beyond sold an impressive fleet of waffle makers. But I chickened out in getting the future Griffins one. How do you maintain your journalistic integrity if you’re buying a player/coach you don’t really deal with much a wedding present?  Exactly.  Now back to my blog on waffle makers.

You see, the waffle maker is more than just a cooking tool. It is a matrimony magnifier. It means Saturday mornings spent together as a newly married couple, working together and sharing the fruits of your labor…often with fruit atop said metaphorical fruits. A waffle maker puts two people from different families (insert West Virginia joke here) with different recipes at the same counter combining nutmeg and cinnamon in just the right way that will be perfect for only them.  A waffle maker can mean breakfast in bed on the first anniversary–and sometimes means drafting your firstborn as a “trusty assistant” down the road.  A waffle maker also means I might get a decent meal after I crash on somebody’s couch.

That’s why I have an impressive 7-year run in getting friends waffle makers as wedding presents.  The exception was a 24 Season 2 DVD.  You be the judge.

Giving up is not the easiest thing to do…even when it is the necessary thing to do.   It means we admit we’ve either made a mistake or it’s time to try something new. And nobody wants to admit they’ve erred or go away from what they’re used to attempting.  Much like Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers” after unveiling two outside the box schemes proved faulty…”Oh, what the hell– let’s just steal a nuclear weapon like we always do!”  We’re like that with TV shows. And that’s one reason I try to limit my viewing–because just as I was on the hook for the final unwatchable two three four seasons of 90120, I don’t do well departing a series I’m invested in (for the record, “9-0” became unwatchable after Dylan left the show following his new bride’s murder).

That said– I began the season with four shows in my rotation with a fifth joining the club this winter…

Dallas– Yes, I was stuck on the Ewing schemes in the 80’s well after the “Dream Season”.  There was no way I could avoid getting sucked in to this Lone Star State sized sinkhole.  And let the record show, if they ever reboot “Happy Days”, “Cheers” and “Tales of the Gold Monkey” at the same time like they’re doing next summer with “24”, I’m going to be worthless.  How could you resist the 21st century update to JR, Bobby, Sue Ellen & Cliff?  By having the kids be annoying as hell.  JR’s kid is the “schemer”, yet seems like he can’t solve short division problems.  Bobby’s son’s answer to everything is shouting…and Cliff’s daughter went from smart scammer to dumb damsel in one season.  At least Bobby married the woman who played Sue Ellen Michke on “Seinfeld” (although there’s no mention of the Mars family fortune).  Sadly, Larry Hagman’s death brought a narrative dampener midseason.  While the show gave JR a proper sendoff and tied up loose ends nicely, I don’t know if a third season is necessary.

Mad Men– Oh, if only JR met Don Draper.  Bourbon and branch meets the Old Fashioned.–they would have had one heck of a time in Big D or the Big Apple.  While season six is still in progress we’ve seen Don careen through his professional and personal life like a bull in a china shop.  Not only did Draper  napalm the Heinz and Jaguar accounts, he started cheating on his Soap Opera actress wife with a married woman–sneaking over when her cardiac surgeon is saving lives.  All the rest is window dressing alongside Don’s descent:  a merger between SCDP and CGC (couldn’t we have just one vowel?), Pete’s retreating hairline, Peggy’s boss-crush (umm, Peg—Preppy McPrepp isn’t leaving his wife for anyone short of Daisy the Stewardess) and Rookie of the Year Bob Benson (“from accounts!  Wharton!  I’ve got two cups of coffee if you want one!”).  Add Harry Hamlin (“Roger Sterling with bad breath’) and Ted McGinley (SHARK ALERT!) to the mix and you’ve got just enough to make me sit through Sally & Bobby Draper’s scenes.  Kids just don’t fare well on this show– even Roger’s adult daughter was irritating in her limited run.

The Office– Bob Benson would be such a good Regional Manager at Dunder-Mifflin.  At its best this was one incredibly nuanced show of equal parts sweet, sour and sublime.  From Jim and Pam to Jim vs. Dwight to “I’M PRISON MIKE!”.  Ringmaster Steve Carell was the crazy glue that kept what seemed like 20 plot points working like coordinated oars in the water.   Nobody said the wrong thing at the right time better or more often.  After Michael Scott’s departure the rudderless ship foundered over the last two years but finally finds port this week.  It’s time to say goodbye… I have the same regard for “New Jim” and “Dwight Jr” as I did for “Coy & Vance Duke” and am just glad there’s not a “Poor Richard’s Pub After Dark” where today’s hottest artists happen to make tour stops.  But I still dream of a “Threat Level Midnight 2–Electric Boogaloo”.

How I Met Your Mother– And of course I’d have to go see “The Wedding Bride III” the next day.  The consistently uneven season ends–and we actually get a payoff for the third straight finale:  two years ago we learned Barney was going to be the groom at “the wedding” (How crazy!  He’s the ultimate bachelor!)…last year we learned Robin would be the bride (How crazy!  She hates marriage and he’s engaged to a stripper!).  This year we actually see “the mother”–Cristin Milioti shows up to buy one ticket to Farhampton with umbrella and bass in tow (How crazy!  We were used to being stringed along!).  Highlights include Billy Zabka at the bachelor party and Ted’s “45 days” speech.  Lowlights include Marshall’s disappearance,  Robin’s descent from confident career woman to Barney-obsessed and “Who Wants to Be a Godparent”.  Now the show’s final season will be devoted to wrapping things up.  But how will they?  I’ve heard everything from them having Ted meet the mother in the first 1 to 3 episodes…get to know her and then marry her in the finale (which they have to do to line things up for a 15 year old daughter in the 2030 flash-forwards) to all 24 episodes covering “Barney and Robin’s Wedding Weekend” with flashbacks of how each in the gang got to meet the mother– which will become exhausting.   Unless Billy Zabka’s there.  And yes, I refuse to call him William. 

The Americans–  what do I call the husband?  Phillip JenningsClark Herbert Westerfield?  Or whatever Russian name he actually goes by?  In honor of Kevin Costner in “No Way Out”, I’m going with Yuri.  Maybe they can use the same shed at Arlington National Cemetary in season two– and even board the Metro at the Georgetown stop.  Word is the show “Alias” was pitched as “Felicity’s a spy” to ABC– so it’s only fitting Keri Russell a decade and a half after playing Felicity becomes a spy.  And even if she cuts her hair (DONT!) she’ll have a wide assortment of wigs.  Perhaps it’s the spy story motif, the protagonists as KGB sleeper cel agents or the early 80’s outfits and music that makes this work (“Games Without Frontiers” the perfect coda to the season finale).  Maybe it’s because everybody is lying about something to another character at some time or another–and they kind of know it (there hasn’t been this much serial dishonesty in a cast since “Casablanca”).  Perhaps it’s the sense of fear because we know and see how good the KGB couple is at undermining our national security–and we see and know how woefully unlucky and occasionally incompetent our people are.  In a world where one of my shows makes it’s necessary departure, another probably should have taken its final bow and a third is behaving like the college student taking 3 courses a semester to reason the 6 year plan, it’s nice to see it’s “morning” for “The Americans”.  Good to see I’m moving forward with one show set in 1968 and another in 1981.  Phillip/Clark/Yuri,  meet Don Draper/Dick Whitman.