Tuesday, February 17, 2009

House “Unfaithful”, 24 “4:00 – 5:00 PM“: Predictable But Passable

All images from Fox
Fox’s Monday night prime time programming is a strong 2 hours for drama. The problem last night was that both hours seemed somewhat predictable.

At the 8:00 hour, the episode of House(Fox) titled “Unfaithful” featured a priest who sees Jesus and then goes to the ER, where House (Hugh Laurie) is trolling for cases. House is intrigued by what appears to Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) as a simple case of a drunken cleric, so he takes the case. Boredom ensues when the case falls into the typical suspicion that the priest may have a shady sexual past. Despite the fact that I am a lapsed Catholic, I still tire of TV continuing to even hint that all priests have to have some sort of “issue” with sex.

Compounding the boredom is the hospitals main head case – I mean Dean of Medicine Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) – inviting, then uninviting, then inviting House to her baby’s Jewish naming ceremony. Things backfire on her when House accepts, and Cuddy chastises Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) for his poor advice on the matter as she didn't want him to come. The problem is, the ever-indecisive Cuddy later seems to want him there, even after she tells him not to come. (?) Can’t this woman make a simple decision? Clearly Cuddy is at the stage where I think she needs psychiatric help with her obsession with House. I think that many viewers are getting tired of a character that used to be a strong woman who now seems to have descended past the lobotomy stage and is now a quivering bowl of jello.

Predictable was the staged friction between Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) and “Thirteen”/Dr. Hadley (Olivia Wilde). They had a faux altercation in front of House to make him believe their relationship is over so that Foreman would get rehired and Thirteen could keep her job. Sadly, the normally astute and always suspicious House seems to buy it, strange since he was probably the only one who did. I again have to say that the Foreman/Thirteen pairing is a lifeless and disinteresting one. I put the blame mostly on Foreman, who seems to be such a cold man. Thirteen, however, doesn't have much depth of emotion to her either, which makes the pairing about as warm as two trays of ice cubes.

Also included in this episode was when House, trying to help explain the symptoms, makes some sort of references to Duran Duran concerts, which I still don’t quite follow. Of course, House gets his weekly epiphany and solves the case, diagnosing the priest with Wiscott-Aldridge Syndrome, which impairs the immune system and gives AIDS-like symptoms without him actually having AIDS. The episode closes with House absent from the naming ceremony, with him deciding to stay home and play his piano, probably the only redeeming part of the show.

As far as ”24” (Fox), the 4:00 – 5:00 PM hour was an interesting hour of television. 24 remains one of my favorite shows, but this episode was filled with trite, overused plot contrivances and what I think was a silly mistake on the part of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). Flub of the season so far was Jack and Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) relying on cell phone tracking only, rather than be ready in their car, in order to keep tabs on Marika (Enuka Okuma), the now-reluctant girlfriend of the evil Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim). As you can’t have “24” without problem employees at the government agency du jour - in this case Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) at the FBI - Gold has a fit of jealousy over Chloe’s presence. She manages to get access from Sean Hillinger (Rhys Coira) to weasel a way to hack into the cell tracking system that Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) was using, during which it seems Gold temporarily disables the system, rendering Chloe, and therefore Jack, temporarily blind to Marika’s location. Of course, this is just a diversion, as FBI mole is exposed to viewers as Sean. Problems for Jack and Renee get much worse as, even though Chloe has reestablished the cell phone tracking, they manage to completely lose Marika as Sean has arranged to fake an FBI order to have them both arrested.

Meanwhile, President Allison Taylor’s (Cherry Jones) husband Henry (Colm Feore) may be out of the picture for a while, since the surgery on his bullet wound will take 5 hours. But, President Taylor is now in good hands as she has entrusted more of her security to Bill Buchanan (James Morrison). Maybe it’s just me, but I found it odd that despite the fact that Bill seems to be working on their side, that she is entrusting so much of her security to him. In the world of 24, though, I suppose that only people like Jack, Bill, and Chloe are the only people that can be trusted.

We are also introduced to the President’s daughter, who is told about her father’s shooting by recurring 24 favorite inactive Agent Aaron Pierce (Glen Morshower). With Chloe and her moodiness returning, we also get a brief scene with her husband, Morris (Carlo Rota). I have to admit, though, that I am finding Chloe’s moodiness and snippiness somewhat tiresome.

It is too much for me to expect that every episode of 24 knock my socks off, but I was hoping that the show wouldn’t be falling into the predictable plot devices and character behaviors so soon. Maybe a catfight will develop between Chloe and Janis, and we can rid ourselves of both of these cranky women soon. I can’t imagine, though, that just casing down Dubaku can last much longer as this show needs a bigger fish to dry for Jack in order to keep things interesting.

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