Friday, January 29, 2010

Fringe “The Bishop Revival” Revives a Family Secret

Photos from Fox

Walter Bishop’s past – actually, his father’s past – comes back to haunt him in Fringe “The Bishop Revival.” It seems that Walter’s father worked in Nazi Germany as a spy for the Allies, and one of the secret experiments he was involved in at the time is resurrected for use in the present. Someone is using a formula that allows him to target people for death by their specific genetic traits, and Walter also finds himself in the crosshairs.

The killer tries his experiment first at a wedding by releasing the toxin targeting the groom’s Jewish family, and before doing so, is recognized by the groom’s grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. But the man in question is young, not someone she should recognize from her days in the camps. The killer later tries the experiment at a coffee shop, targeting people who only have brown eyes.

When the Fringe team is called in on both cases, they realize that the toxin was delivered via heat sources: a candle in the first incident, and hot tea in the second. They are able to get a photo of the man in question from the wedding video. Walter Bishop (John Noble) also recognizes the work as something that his father, Robert Bishop, was involved in long ago when working as a spy scientist in Nazi Germany, even seeing his father’s signature “seahorse” in the pattern of the toxin. Walter is concerned his father’s work has fallen into the wrong hands. While he begins to dig through some of his belongings looking for his father’s books, his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) tells Walter he sold the books 10 years ago because he needed the money. Walter is crushed at this news and angry with Peter, to the point of refusing Peter’s apology. Peter later is able to trace back who bought his books, finding that an “artist” was using them in some of his work, which has never been seen by anyone else. Walter then suspects,maybe hopes, that the formula for the toxin did not come from his father’s work. Walter is also able to get DNA off the fingerprint on the tea cup that the killer used at the coffee shop, Peter later saying it has degraded and appears to belong to someone who would be over 100 years old.

It also seems that the killer is familiar with Walter Bishop, and even gets into Walter’s home. We later find he’s taken a sweater of Walter’s. When the team gets a list of one of the main components of the toxin, they are able to target a residential address, working under the name Hoffman Pharmaceuticals, to where the chemicals were shipped. The killer is working in his hidden basement, and manages to escape before the FBI arrives and Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finds the hidden entrance. When Olivia, Peter, and Walter enter the hidden lab, Walter spots his sweater, and then begins to have trouble breathing. Olivia destroys a beaker which is being heated to release the toxin, apparently targeted for Walter alone, and she gets Walter out of the area and to additional oxygen. Olivia also finds remnant of an ID card; it appears the killer created a fake ID to give him access to the "World Tolerance Initiative” conference, where people of many cultures would be attending.

While Olivia and Peter race to the event and try to get Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) to find a way to evacuate the facility, Walter seems to be hard at work at something in the killer’s basement lab. While Peter and Olivia are at the conference looking for the heat source that will trigger the release of the toxin, Walter enters the facility with Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and heads to an area overlooking the event. When Peter, at the last second, prevents a worker from igniting the sterno-like containers (which the killer replaced with the toxin) under the chafing dishes for the food serving area, they also hear someone choking for air. As Peter and Olivia race to the source, concerned that the toxin had been released, they find the man choking is none other than the killer himself. He is looking above Peter and Olivia to the area high above and yells up to Walter, calling him “Bischoff” and calling him a traitor as he dies. Walter is standing there with a device which is releasing Walter’s own toxic concoction which has only targeted the killer. Later, when Boyles reviews Walter’s actions with him, Walter explains he killed the killer using the killer’s own toxic formula, targeted only for him and he is unapologetic. Broyles somewhat reluctantly lets Walter off the hook, but Olivia looks at Walter with surprise and disappointment.

Later, Peter returns to Walter all the books he could recover that belonged to Walter’s father. Walter leafs through them and finds a group photo which includes Robert Bishop, and Peter notices the name is Robert Bischoff. Walter indicates that his father changed his name when he came to this country in the 1940s. Peter also wonders how the killer could have made the toxin without using Robert Bischoff’s notes, and Walter replies somberly, "Perhaps there are some mysteries that are destined to remain unsolved." But the camera zooms in on other photo of Robert Bischoff and a man standing in the background – it’s the current killed, looking exactly the same then as he did in the present.

There were a few amusing tidbits interspersed in the show, the first being Walter’s suggestion to Peter that he should marry Olivia. Since the two only have a very low-key chemistry on screen right now, I would say that the show has a long way to go before a romance would be truly believable between Peter and Olivia. Peter also seems to have allowed Walter the opportunity to drive, something for which Walter clearly needs additional training, especially in the art of parking the car. Walter also seems to sometimes play games with Astrid’s name – is it on purpose or by accident that he appeared to call her “Ostrich?” But there are serious questions that arise from this episode – how had the killer managed to stay young, and why? Why did he target Walter? And, did the killer have the ability to create a toxin that could target one specific person such as Walter, yet leave his son Peter untouched? I suppose that since the killer had Walter’s DNA from his sweater it would be possible, but I wondered why it never occurred to Peter to ask why he wasn’t affected. Since Peter seems to be from the other time, does that mean his DNA may also not share many of the same traits as Walter? What other secrets does the Bishop/Bischoff family hold? “The Bishop Revival” may have been subtle in its raising of new questions, but that’s what I like about “Fringe.” It always keeps viewers guessing. I suspect, though, that Walter's hopes that some mysteries remain unsolved will not be the case for his secret about Peter.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NCIS “Jet Lag” High Flying Fun

Photos from CBS
The NCIS team had a case that actually centered in the air, not on the water, in “Jet Lag.” This was an excellent episode, maybe the best of the season so far. It featured an interesting crime and was also the first episode where I felt that there was some real chemistry between Tony (Michael Weatherly) and Ziva (Cote de Pablo) that didn’t seemed forced or overdone. The pair had been in Paris (well, it looked like more of a phony backdrop than real Paris but that’s to be expected) to bring a witness, Nora Williams (Lily Rains), back to the US to testify against her employer, Ray Bolinger (Ryan Cutrona), the latter accused of extorting millions from the Navy. It seems, however, that there is a hit out on Nora, and one of the hit men, a naval petty officer, was found dead in his home, and Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon),working at NCIS with his team, comes to realize that there is more than one person out to make the hit on the airborne Nora. It seems that whoever makes the hit gets the big payoff.

My immediate guess for the hit man was the air marshal, but then I realized that was far too obvious, and when the team also zeroed in on the air marshal too quickly I knew I was wrong. It also helped that he was found dead in the bathroom, killed with a knitting needle. (I am left to wonder exactly how did someone get a knitting needle on a plane, especially these days with heightened security?)

Meanwhile, on the ground at home base, Gibbs and the team talk with Nora’s fiancé Daniel (David de Lautour) who is concerned about her safety and who also works for Bolinger. Gibbs also pushes the buttons of Bolinger, who continues to deny everything. Its when Nora goes into an allergic shock that the team realizes that a female flight attendant, who was also connected to the time that the petty officer was killed, is out for Nora. Ziva manages to disable the flight attendant in typical Ziva kick-ass fashion. One error that the agents made was when, at one point, they both left the side of the witness they were supposed to be protecting. Mind you, this wasn’t when Nora was actually first exposed to the allergen that disabled her, the contact began much earlier, but Tony and Ziva still should not have left her side at the same time.

It seems that with Nora alive to testify against Bolinger, her fiancé's underhanded dealings at the same company would also have been exposed, which is why he wanted her dead. Not only will Nora put away an embezzler, she also seems to have lost a fiancé at the same time. But the real mystery of the episode remains – did something happen between Tony and Ziva while in Paris? Before they left town, while at a small outside café, Tony made a comment to Ziva that she seemed to have slept well enough as she looked comfy enough. There seems to be a question of who slept on the couch – if anybody. When, at the end of the show, Tony tells McGee (Sean Murray) that he slept on the couch, Ziva asks why Tony just lied to McGee, and Tony counters by asking her why she lied to Nora about the same issue (Ziva telling Nora that Tony slept in the bed). With all the smiles and knowing glances between the two, we are left to wonder just what were the sleeping arrangements? It’s one of those issues that left viewers intentionally guessing. Tony also said he found his favorite picture, and pulls out a photograph of Ziva, saying it looks very French new wave. When Ziva says she thinks it would look better in black and white, the screen slips into its normal black and white mode as it always does when the segment opens or closes. It was an interesting touch.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable episode, with everyone playing a part in the case. The real mystery remains unsolved – what were Tony and Ziva’s sleeping arrangements in Paris and was a couch involved? I suspect that is likely one question that will continue to tease viewers in episodes to come.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

House “Remorse” A Sorry Episode

The producers and writers of House “Remorse” should feel some remorse for making me sit through an hour of a relatively dull episode. The patient was uninteresting, the medicine was uninteresting, and House’s own problem of the week was uninteresting. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) is not one to be obvious in his remorse for anything, but in this episode he tries to make amends to one person, while he destroys something that Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) cherished. It seems that when House makes one step forward, he is compelled to make two steps back.

In “Remorse,” House is intrigued by a patient, Valerie (Beau Garrett) who turns out to be a psychopath, and it’s possible that House sees in her what others may see in him – a cold heart. He first decides to take her as a patient because she’s described as “hot” and her husband “not” and this combination interests him. While this case is going on, he’s also dodging calls from someone named Wibberly (Ray Abruzzo), who attended med school with House. House switched papers with Wibberly during a seminar, House thinking the professor hated him and was shocked to find he got an A with Wibberly’s paper. Now, as part of House’s therapy, he’s decided to apologize to Wibberly for the switch.

There is the usual wrangling over the patient's diagnosis, but in this case, Thirteen/Dr. Hadley (Olivia Wilde) doesn’t agree with the rest of the team, and on her own, does a brain scan which uncovers Valerie’s psycopathy. Valerie turns out to be as cold and calculating. When Valerie senses that Thirteen is going to blow her cover with her husband, she decides to turn her wrath on Thirteen. Thirteen pushes back by creating a scenario where Valerie’s husband would find out she was cheating on him and lying about it. This incenses Valerie even more, and she fights back by alleging Thirteen sexually harassed her. Thirteen deserved every bit of the trouble from Valerie, as Thirteen was too meddlesome, almost vindictive, regarding the patient’s personal issues. To make a long story short, Thirteen continued to work to diagnose Valerie, discovering that she didn’t always act like a psychopath. This leads her to Valerie’s diet change, where she added lots of nuts, which contain high levels of copper, something that Valerie’s body could not process properly. After they reduce the copper levels in her body Valerie’s physical symptoms improve, but she stills acts like a psychopath to her husband, who walks out on her. But Thirteen realizes that Valerie is actually feeling something, and Valerie had pushed her husband away out of her own guilt.

While all this is going on, House is dealing with Wibberly, finding out that Wibberly is not working as a doctor but instead as a bagger at an organic supermarket. Wibberly tells House he got an F on the paper that House switched. House actually appears to feel some guilt. When he later finds that Wibberly is about to lose his home due to an adjustable mortgage and medical bills from his father’s illness, House’s guilt goes into overdrive and he tries to give Wibberly a check so Wibberly can stay in the house longer. Wibberly refuses the check and confesses and says he really did become a doctor, but screwed things up with a gambling problem and gambling debt. He also really got an A+ on House’s paper.

Of course, it can’t be an episode of House unless he does something hateful or nasty, and in this case, he cuts up one of Cuddy’s only photos of her taken by her father and cuts up one with Cuddy and Lucas and switches Lucas’s head with the head of the monkey that Cuddy was holding when her father snapped the photo. Cuddy is of course hurt, but in this case, House seems not to care. Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) can’t seem to get House to understand why he feels the need to fix the wrong with Wibberly, but doesn’t seem to have any feeling about fixing the wrong with Cuddy.

While this case gave Olivia Wilde an opportunity to show slight expression on her usually deadpan face, her co-workers Drs Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Taub (Peter Jacobson) took a back seat. Unfortunately, we got another dose of Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) and Thirteen in their lifeless, chemistry-less struggle with their relationship. I wish they would just drop it already and move on, as this relationship dragged down the show while it was going on, now it is dragging down the show as they try to mend fences.

At the end of the episode, House forces the check on Wibberly by slipping it in the mail slot of his front door. Even though he knows Wibberly lied about his situation, House still seems to feel some remorse. But, we get no hard evidence that House is sorry about what he did with Cuddy’s photo. Unless House can show remorse for the things he does to the people he really cares about, there will be no personal growth for House. Personally, I am very tired of the whole cat–and-mouse game he is playing with Cuddy, and I wish that he would move on. In fact, I find myself wishing that Dr. Cuddy would just leave the hospital (and the show) so viewers can finally be free of this relationship which gets more painful to watch each week.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Fringe “What Lies Below”: The Usual “Virus On The Loose” Story

Photo from Fox

Fringe (Fox) “What Lies Below” had a simple plot: man comes into offices of Vetros Petrol building with strange virus, man dies and while doing so spreads virus, Fringe team called in, more die, building is quarantined. With a company name liked Vetros Petrol, I expected we would see something like the “black oil” life form that was featured in the X-Files, but not in this case. Instead, we got a different virus, but, like the black oil, it was something that had lay dormant deep in the earth’s crust for thousands of years before being dug up.

This become problematic for the Fringe team when Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) becomes infected. While Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is stuck in quarantine with Peter and the rest of the building’s occupants, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) works on the outside with Astrid (Jasika Nicole) to find a cure. When an infected woman smashes through a window from a high floor in an attempt to get out, Walter realizes that the virus is forcing them to get out so it can spread itself. Complicating matters, the CDC believes that this virus can’t be contained and is poised to take extreme measures to contain the virus, including killing everyone in the building.

As Walter and Astrid rush to find a cure, Walter comments to Astrid "I can't let Peter die again.” Of course, Walter finds the cure, and Olivia manages to get the ventilation system turned back on to allow for the release of the cure, just in time to avoid being killed herself. Peter is saved and appears to be recovering. But Astrid waits until the crisis is over to ask Walter what he meant about not letting Peter die "again." Walter’s face turns somewhat stern and cold and he tells her "Some things are meant to be left alone. " When Walter walks off, it is clear that Astrid is starting to put pieces together, and that Peter may not be the person who we think he is – or maybe better described as the person WHEN we think he is.

This episode didn’t have the usual suspense as most Fringe episodes, maybe because the plot was simple and the outcome obvious – Peter would not die. The big dangling issue is: what will Astrid do now that she suspects that Walter is keeping a secret about Peter? Astrid seems the type of person who would not drop the issue, and I suspect that she will continue to watch for signs or clues before she mentions Walter’s odd comments about Peter to anyone else. Despite the predictability, this was a decent episode that continues to set the stage for a big reveal somewhere down the road about Peter, and that could not only spell trouble for Peter, but for Walter as well. It could harm far more people than the virus unleashed in this episode.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

24 Day 8, 6PM to 8PM: Renee Shocks, Jack in Awe

Monday's 2-hour block of ”24” (Fox) was much more promising than the first two. The ending of this episode was a little more shocking that normal when Renee Walker does something so awful that it even gives Jack Bauer pause, and you know it has to be bad when Jack looks shocked at the event. What started out as an assassination attempt has now turned into obtaining weapons grade uranium.

The only downside to this two hour "24" was the storyline with Dana and what appears to be an ex-boyfriend from her pre-CTU life. I assume that this seemingly unrelated storyline will somehow connect back up in future, but in the meantime, we are stuck with Katee Sackhoff and her stiff posturing for the camera. I enjoyed Katee immensely in her Battlestar Galactica days, but so far in 24, she seems to be more concerned with how she is posing in each shot.

CTU is still rife with incompetence, as it seems Hastings must be beaten on the head with proof before he does anything. How a person would get to head up CTU when he doesn’t know how to look past the obvious is beyond me. I suspect that this won’t change much, despite the fact that he may have some new found respect for both Jack and Chloe as it turns out they were on the right track after all.

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has found himself in the middle of an assassination attempt on Kamistan President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor). Of course, in perfect 24 fashion, no one at CTU - with the exception of Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) - has half a brain. She’s the only one who thinks journalist Meredith Reed (Jennifer Westfeldt) is being set up as a distraction. This is one main theme with all the previous seasons of “24” in that it’s rare that anyone in a position of authority is able to manage a terrorist situtation correctly. In this case, that person is CTU director Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson), who doesn’t want to give Jack the time of day, much less help him in trying to uncover the real terrorist. Hastings would rather continue to interrogate the hot-looking journalist Reed. Of course, this whole interrogation scenario is silly as Reed is hooked up to some biometric device to determine if she is lying, and Hastings hasn’t figured out how to use this device to verify if she is lying about her involvement. A simple, “Are you involved in a plot to assassinate Hassan” should do the trick, but no, that would be too simple.

Meanwhile, Jack has traced the mystery man – Davros (Doug Hutchison) - to a house, paying a kid playing basketball $100 after he points Jack to the right house. But Jack is too late, Davros has already killed the police officer (Jim) and his wife after Jim called in sick and made Davros his replacement for the UN security detail. In the real world, no security detail of this nature would allow the employee to arrange for their replacement, but since this is “24” I’ll pretend this isn’t the real world. Jack gets into trouble after he breaks in the house and finds the couple dead as the police who have arrived on the scene think he is the killer. One of the officers, John, decides to take matters into his own hands – after all, don’t all TV cops do this when confronted with a cop killer? – while the other, Phillip, stands by and watches as Jack is beat up by the rouge officer, despite the fact that Jack explained he is from CTU. Jack Bauer must be a real idiot if he expected they would believe his story anyway. But soon Phillip has seen enough, and when Jack manages to disable John, who is beating him up, Phillip keeps a gun on both of them until he can call it in.

Hastings is questioning Reed about her possession of a double secret extra private key card which gives access to Hassan's private residence, yet when she tells him that “Omar” gave it to her, their fancy biometric device still can’t seem to point out that she is not lying. He calls Hassan, interrupting a conference with President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones). I suppose in the world of 24, CTU trumps the President of the US. Anyway, despite the objections from Hassan’s brother Farhad (Akbar Kurtha), Hassan admits he gave the key card to Reed and they have a relationship. I wonder why it was so important for Hastings to confirm the affair, why wasn’t the president’s word that he gave her the key card enough? Despite the fact that this confirms what Chloe and Jack were working on – that there is another inside person involved – Hastings refuses to allow anyone, including Chloe, to check on Jack, who seems to have dropped off the radar.

Davros, meanwhile, had taken the spot on the UN Security detail and is part of the team that CTU agent Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is briefing. Farhad also has called Davros and tells him his brother admitted his affair and thinks the frame job with Reed will not hold. Davros thinks they should forge ahead and assures Farhad that Hassan will be dead within an hour.

Back at CTU, the soap opera drama with Ortiz’s fiancée and co-worker Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) continues as Kevin Wade, someone Dana knew from her “past life” under her real name, arrives at CTU to harass her in person. She is so terrified Wade will reveal her past life and identity that she gives this crazy man the key to her apartment. Sure, give the crazy guy the key to your house, that makes a lot of sense (note sarcasm).

Also at CTU, Arlo (John Boyd) completed finishes decrypting the files on Reed's computer, and it appears to be the schematics for a construction project which took place at the UN eight months earlier. The plans also show that bombs may have been installed in the UN's main chamber. Hastings calls for an immediate evacuation of the UN, while Chloe presses that these plans might be fake and simply another part of the assassination plot. Hastings, of course, doesn’t listen to her, likely because Chloe is such a whiner.

Meanwhile, more police are at the scene of the murder of the officer Jim and his wife. After Phillip confirms that Jim had called in sick and that a cop named Mike covered the shift, he decides to help Jack. Jack believes this other cop is the assassin and has Phillip drive him to the UN, and while on the way, Jack updates Chloe and has her patch him through to Cole. Jack explains to Cole he must get Hassan's car off the street or the president will die.

Davros is waiting with a bomb already set under a manhole cover in the street, and bomb trigger in hand. As President Taylor and her staff evacuate, Ortiz goes with the Hassan detail, Farhad staying behind to wait for Hassan's wife. We really know it’s so he doesn’t get killed with this brother. After Hassan is tucked into the car, Farhad calls Davros and tells him that Hassan will be in the third car. But, as Jack has tipped off Ortiz, Ortiz cuts off Hassan’s car before it can reach the manhole, and Davros sets off the charge. Ortiz car flips with the huge explosion, but he manages to escape his flaming car. He manages to get Hassan in another car and off to CTU. When he spots Davros, he chases him on foot. Jack tells Phillip to drive to Ortiz’s location.

Davros, on the run, still has time to take a call from Farhad, who is in another car with Hassan’s wife and daughter, and when Davros says it won’t bel ong before they realize Farhad is in on it, Farhad leaps from the car, stabs a CTU agent and flees on foot, with Hassan’s wife and daughter watching in horror.

But Davros manages to ambush Ortiz and gets Ortiz to his knees. When Ortiz refuses Davros’ order to call in to CTU telling them the area is secure, and it looks like Davros is going to kill Ortiz, a shot rings out, as Jack manages to shoot and kill Davros before he can kill Ortiz. Jack rips open Davros’ shirt and sees all kinds of tattoos in his chest, so he takes cell phone pictures of them for CTU.

When Hassan arrives at CTU, Hastings tells him his brother was behind the assassination attempt as Farhad fled and killed a CTU agent. Hastings then gives Chloe much needed praise, which I am sure she well never ever let him forget. CTU also realizes that Davros' tattoos are from a Russian crime syndicate, and the only agent with detailed inside information on the Russian is former FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) and that Walker apparently resigned over an "internal dispute."

Elsewhere, what looks like a Russian mob guy named Bazhaev (Jürgen Prochnow) gets a call from Farhad, and Farhad still wants to buy something from Bazhaev. He wants to meet with Bazhaev face to face.

When Jack makes it back to CTU, he tells them he’s off to LA, but Chloe tells him that Renee Walker is coming in. Jack tells her that Walker never returned his phone calls and asks Chloe not to tell her he is at CTU. Chloe adds that she's heard Walker had a mental breakdown.

While Hassan is thanking Cole for saving his life, alarms begin to ring, and it appears sensors have detected traces of nuclear weapons grade materials on Davros’ body. Hassan thinks he knows what is going on. He later tells Hastings that his country had been looking at nuclear weapons but could never enrich enough uranium. Farhad had recently been approached by someone who had access to Russian stockpiles, and he believes that was still interested in helping Kamistan become nuclear-capable. He says they must prevent him from getting his hands on that uranium.

Renee, looking a little edgy, has arrived at CTU and easily translates the tattoos. She believes Davros is connected to a group called Red Square, a gang she could never complete infiltrate. Hastings asks Renee r if she will go back undercover and help them get close to Red Square and offers her an FBI post in return. The FBI post is not an incentive but she agrees to help for the sake of public safety.

But Jack isn’t off the hook yet – after all, the day is still young – and Chloe stops him as he is leaving to tell him Renee is going back undercover. Jack is concerned and rushes to Hastings’s office to see Renee. He says he doesn't think she is ready for such a mission, and knows she almost killed Wilson during interrogation and it was so bad the FBI let her go. He says she is in a “dark place," grabbing her wrists and we see there is evidence she has attempted suicide. Renee is determined she will go through with the mission, even though she looks a little nutty to me too.
As Reed is getting released from custody, she is briefly reunited with Hassan, and apologize for involving him. She knows he cares for her, but for the sake of his work, he backs away from their relationship.

Renee tells CTU she has a contact , Ziya, that could lead them to a former higher-up in the organization, named Vladimir. But Jack won’t allow Renee to go it alone, telling Hastings he wants to stick with Renee because he does not think she is ready, and will take Ortiz's place as the competing buyer.

Farhad arrives at Bazhaev's place and Farhad wants proof Bazhaev is in possession of the uranium rods. Bazhaev takes him to a back room where his other son is shivering and sick. Bazhaev tells Farhad that his son was transporting the rods "and he was careless” adding, “There, you have your proof." He tells Farhad the rods can be ready for transportation in five hours, not even caring his son is dying. Nice guy.

Chloe works on building a back story for Jack and Renee for their meeting with Ziya, who is working at an auto parts store as part of his parole. Renee is agitated and thinks nobody trusts her. She looks a little unwound so that should be no shock to her.

Meanwhile, we get dragged back into the soap opera life of Dana, who gets another call from wacko Wade, who gets a little nutty when he finds out Dana is engaged and gets even more upset when she won’t run right home to be with him.

Jack and Renee are at Ziya’s (Jon Sklaroff) store, and Renee enters alone and attempts to get information on how she can get in touch with Vladimir. He tells her he won’t call Vladimir and he can’t leave because he has a parole monitoring bracelet. When Renee tells him she can get it off for him, she places his hand in a vice. When she moves to get a saw, he tells he she can’t cut off the bracelet, and she tells him coldly, "I'm not going to cut the bracelet.” She saws through Ziya's wrist and sends blood spraying everywhere. Of course, Ziya's screams alarm Jack and he runs into the store. He is horrified when he sees Ziya on the ground, sans hand, and the blood, and he yells that the mission is over. Renee, oddly calm and collected, just tells Jack to find something to cauterize the wound, leaving Jack standing there, stunned.

And if it means anything, so was I.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

24 Day 8, 4PM to 6PM: Same Old, Same Old

Photos from Fox

It’s Day 8 for Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), but it’s year 8 for viewers of ”24” (Fox). The show is starting to show its age, falling into familiar, and overused patterns in the two hour season premier covering the 4:00 – 6:00 hour period in a day in the life of Jack Bauer. These first two hours are always critical in setting up the rest of Jack’s day. But ”Day 8” seems like the same old routine, with tired scenarios and dialog more fitting to a soap opera. Also like a soap opera, there are lots of sideways glances in an attempt to convey suspicion and drama, instead, it comes off as being campy. The acting leaves something to be desired, with the exception of Cherry Jones, who seems to deliver the perfect presidential persona. Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is literally off the charts at being annoying, her petulant spoiled brat behavior wearing very thin. And of course, Jack leaves dead bodies in his wake, no matter where he goes. The same old, same old. The only difference I see is that the New York offices of CTU look like an old disco club, with too much glass and lights.

In case you missed part of the first two hours, and need to get caught up before the next two hours start tonight, here’s what happened:

Things have changed for Jack, as he’s no longer working for CTU, and he is living in New York City. His ever annoying daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) is also living in the city with her husband and daughter. She is hoping that daddy Jack will move back to Los Angeles with them, and I find myself wishing that Jack wouldn’t do it. Of course, he decides to go back to LA with them, but of course, not until another day from hell for Jack Bauer begins.

It seems that an old informant of Jack Bauer is being targeted for death because he knows about an assassination attempt on the life of Kamistan President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor). Hassan is with his brother Farhad (Akbar Kurtha) at the United Nations, negotiating some sort of disarmament or peace accord with United States President Alison Taylor (Cherry Jones) and her advisor Ethan Kanin (Bob Gunton). They seem to be at odds about the issue of weapons inspectors.

But when Jack’s former informant named Victor Aruz (Benito Martinez ) shows up at his apartment, bleeding from the gunshot wound when someone tried to kill him, Jack finds himself in the middle of trying to stop an assassination attempt. Only about 20 minutes into the episode, and Jack is already screaming in Victor’s face, so Jack clearly has not been able to turn off his CTU persona. Of course, this means that he just HAS to get CTU involved, and he just HAS to tell Kim that he will meet them at the airport.

Meanwhile, we also find that President Hassan seems to he having some sort of relationship with a reporter, Meredith Reed (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Farhad manages to revoke her clearance to enter. Farhad later has to restore them when President Hassan has a hissy fit over it. We also see that things are not so rosy with Hassan and his wife Dalia (Necar Zadegan).

When CTU becomes involved, I find myself laughing over the appearance of CTU headquarters in New York City. With all the glass and glitzy lighting, it looked more like a 1970s disco nightclub. Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is still the same old Chloe – petulant and annoying with a constant pouting face – but for some reason, her behavior grates this time, maybe because after all these years and all she’s been through, Chloe hasn’t grown or matured, and still hasn’t figured out how to get her point across without sounding like a whiner. And - what a surprise – Chloe seems to be getting on the nerves of her boss and coworkers because she doesn’t seem to be acclimating to the computer systems or her coworkers. CTU also has added another tech person Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) who seems to be constantly vamping in a sleek sleeveless dress. After seeing her as the tough-as-nails Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, her persona in this episode is a bit disorienting. Dana is also engaged to marry CTU coworker Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.).

Also now in charge of CTU NY is Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) who jumps to mobilize the forces when Jack Bauer calls in and tells him about the assassination attempt. It’s a good thing for us that Jack’s name alone has credibility, because Hastings may not have done anything otherwise. Meanwhile, Jack is trying to get Victor to CTU and when Victor collapses and someone sees Jack trying to stop the bleeding from Victor’s gunshot wound, that person calls the police. This also alerts the people trying to track Victor as they are monitoring the airwaves. When the police arrive on the scene and confront Jack, gunfire erupts from the men trailing Victor and Jack manages to get them both inside a building to escape. When Jack ambushes one of them on a stairwell using an axe and disables the other, he and Victor flee to the roof to the helicopter. But Davros (Doug Hutchison ) the man behind the attempts to kill Victor is on to them, and, from another building, he fires a small rocket into the helicopter and blows it up. Jack and Ortiz are OK, but Victor is on death’s door, and before he dies, he tells Jack that someone on the inside, close to Hassan, is working to assassinate Hassan.

Meanwhile, back at the UN, President Taylor hears of the assassination plot, but, despite urging from her Chief of Staff Rob Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos) to tell Hassan about it, she keeps mum on the matter, not wishing to tank the press conference that she and Hassan are set to give. Weiss is less than thrilled about her decision. We also learn that Taylor had a messy divorce from Henry and their daughter is in jail, which I suppose is closure for what happened to two character’s from Jack’s last “day.” We also see that Kanin is also taking some sort of medication, it may be nitro but it wasn’t made exactly clear what it was.

Reed is on a phone call telling someone that she is behind schedule "but it'll get done." I smell a large red herring here.

When hour 2 begins. Davros is leaving the area and he is on the phone telling someone that Victor has been taken care of. He doesn’t know how much Victor may have told CTU, so Davros thinks they need to "accelerate the hit."

Ortiz tells Hastings that two of his men are dead, and Ortiz is not happy with how the operation was handled. Jack tells Hastings about Victor’s last words about someone close to Hassan being in on the assassination, and Hastings tells Jack to come in to CTU. Dana tells Hastings they are checking into someone who seems to have accessed the UN's secure server.

At the UN, Weiss gets the update from Hastings. After the speech, Hassan makes a call to Reed. She’s on her way up to see him.

At CTU, they go over the operation and computer analyst Arlo (John Boyd) reminds Hastings he told them the drones weren't ready for an operation like the one to pick up Jack and Victor. Dana, meanwhile, found that the UN hacker was looking for Hassan's security information. Chloe quickly traces the IP address back to none other than Reed, and Hastings quickly calls UN security and who grab Reeds just before she gets to Hassan. I find myself thinking it’s a little to easy and a little too early in the series, so it must be a red herring. Of course, Chloe has the same feeling, telling Hastings she thinks Reed was framed, but she says it in a whiney manner which is a complete turn off, which makes Hastings dismiss her theory. He tells her to just debrief Jack, which essentially takes her off the floor working on the main case.

When Ortiz gets back to CTU with Jack, Hastings takes Ortiz aside and asks him to delay on officially reporting his complaint about the failed mission, seeing that Ortiz wanted more people and Hastings didn’t give them to him. Hastings reminds Ortiz that he helped Ortiz when everyone thought Ortiz wasn’t ready for his job, so he expected Ortiz to help him in kind. During this chat, Jack is going through a security scan and seems to overhear all this. Hastings also tells Jack about them catching Reed, and Jack calls Kim to say he is going to be delayed a bit, and she says they will pick him up at CTU because it’s on the way.

In Jack’s debriefing, Chloe tells Jack her theory that Reed is being framed, adding she found traffic camera footage of a man entering and exiting Reed's building at the exact time of the server intrusion. As Chloe thinks Hastings will blow her off again, she asks Jack to bring it up. Jack takes a “It’s not my problem” attitude, which is quite unlike Jack Bauer. Of course, now he has his daughter and granddaughter to worry about. Funny, that didn’t seem to stop Jack from pulling out all the stops and killing people to get Victor to CTU.

While all this is going on, we go back to soap opera mode with Hassan’s wife Dalia having an argument with Hassan about Reed. Despite Hassan's denials, Dalia knows exactly what he and the reporter were up to, and it wasn’t reporting. Afterwards, Farhad tells Hassan to deny any relationship with Reed. Farhad then makes a phone call to none other than Davros with an update. No surprise here that Farhad may be the real “inside” guy. Davros says they need to discredit Reed so CTU will continues to think she is his contact on the inside, and Davros will be ready to move on Hassan within an hour.

Dana, meanwhile, gets a phone call from a man who suspiciously refers to her as Jenny Scott. She is rattled, and quickly hangs up on him.

When Reed gets to CTU she denies knowing anything about the assassination, but Hastings doesn’t believe her and arranges for "biometric" interrogation. Jack gets in his two cents about what Chloe found, commenting that Chloe is someone to be trusted. But Hastings doesn’t bite. When Jack moves to leave, Chloe makes an impassioned plea to Jack to help her, as she has always been there for him. But he coldly turns her down, saying he can’t help her this time. (I find myself calling Jack a selfish asshole.) But it seems that when Kim called Chloe to find out what was going on with her father, Chloe told her everything about the assassination attempt and that she things Reed is being framed, and Kim tells her father to help. Of course because Kim says so, Jack decides to stay, proving again that Jack only cares for his family and could care less about Chloe.

While Reed is being interrogated in a special very bright room with a very special security door and her hand attached to a very special biometric devise. Meanwhile, President Taylor brings Hassan up to speed on security, and he asks her to keep him up to date on Reed.

Chloe easily hacks into the drone footage, shows it to Jack, who highlights the medallion on a cab carrying the man who was in Reed’s apartment building. He tells her to get the cab’s location and then goes to the CTU armory to get some guns, Chloe having managed to arrange for Jack to get a one time clearance.

Dana calls her sister Ruth, who also calls Dana by the name Jenny. Dana tells Ruth that Kevin Wade has found her and thinks Ruth told Wade how to find her as she's the only one who "knows the truth." Dana is worried that Wade could ruin her career and impending marriage to Ortiz. Clearly Dana has a big secret; I find that I could care less about it. But Arlo then tells Dana someone hacked into his computer station and looked at the drone records, to which Dana states the obvious: to find out who it was.

In interrogation, Reed continues to insist her relationship with Hassan is professional, but the biometric device shows this as a lie, which mean Hastings will now begin to yell at her for the truth. Why they just can’t ask her straight out if she was involved or not and see if that is a lie or not is beyond me. It seems it would be a lot quicker process.

Dana interrupts Hastings interrogation to alert him about Chloe's hacking into the drone records. Jack has managed to get into the armory, but as he is getting some guns, Hastings and Ortiz catch him in the act. Jack avoids being placed in custody by essentially blackmailing Hastings. saying if Hastings lets him look into Chloe's theory he won't mention to President Taylor the mistakes CTU made in attempting to bring Victory into custody. Hastings agrees, but he’s not happy about it. He allows Jack to have Chloe to help him out.

But we find that Davros is not just Davros, he is also posing as “Mike” who is assigned to work the UN security detail with co-worker “Jim”. When Davros comes to Jim’s house as “Mike,” his wife lets him in, and when Jim won’t agree to switch shifts with him, Davros pulls a gun on Jim and his wife. Davros orders Jim to take his wife’s mouth, and shoots her in the leg when Jim balks at calling in sick that day. This will likely not end well, but then does it ever end well for anyone but Jack Bauer?

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Bones Pays Homage to the X-Files in “The X in the File”

Photo from Fox

It’s been quite a while since I enjoyed an episode of ”Bones”. (Fox) Last night’s episode “The X in the File” poked fun at alien conspiracies, but the real humor was in the use of X-File references (the show's intro theme on the dead victim’s ring tone as an example). It featured guest star Dean Haglund, who used to play “Langly”, one of the “Lone Gunmen” from the X-Files. I recognized him immediately, despite the fact that his hair was much shorter than it was in the X-Files. Of course, he turns out to be the murderer. Had it not been for the X-Files references, though, this episode would have been another dud.

In this particular episode, the team worked well together, even though Dr. Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Agent Booth (David Boreanaz) were at almost completely across the country from the Jeffersonian team. When a body is found in the desert area, an alien ”chaser” thought he found an alien body. I seems it is was just another female alien chaser with whom he was having an affair. The woman apparently caught a company dumping toxic chemicals, and had taken video of the dump in progress. She manages to hide the camera memory card in her own body. Brennan finds it in the woman’s stomach tied to dental floss (so the woman could pull it back of her throat or stomach). When the lab first analyzes it, due to damage to the memory card, it does look like aliens were present. But when they magically clear up the video, they see it is not aliens at all, it’s the company dumping the chemicals. The alien café and store owner Blaine (Haglund) overheard Rachel Adams (Penny Johnson Jerald), who was ordering the chemical dump as she was trying to pay off the soon to be dead woman for her silence. As the woman felt she had proof of alien life, she refused the offer, and when Blaine offered her money for that alien proof, he met her in the desert and killed her with a toy gun and some ball bearings from his store.

While all this is going on, Angela (Michaela Conlin ) and Wendell (Michael Terry) continue their secret relationship. When it seems evident that their boss Dr. Saroyan (Tamara Taylor) is on to them, Wendell decides to tell his lab co-worker Hodgins (T.J.Thyne) and Angela’s former fiancé. Hodgins puts on a good face, but later ends up in Dr. Sweets' (John Francis Daley) office, Hodgins sounding like he’d really rather run them both over with a truck. One of the reasons why I enjoyed this episode is we got very little of that annoying Dr. Sweets, a character that I think is a complete waste of time and in the real world, also wouldn’t likely be involved with an organization like the Jeffersonian and/or the FBI as his current capacity, In fact, I think if Dr. Sweets would go away, he would take all the annoying Booth and Bones personal drama away from the show, and that would please me very much. The show seems to spend far too much time on the closeted love that these two have with each other, and I’m a person who likes a more subtle approach to these kinds of things.

All in all, it wasn’t the story that helped me to enjoy the episode, it was just those few X-Files references that made it seem fun. After all, the cases are frequently just an afterthought to some personal issues between Booth and Bones, or with Angela and her lover du jour, or with the annoying Dr. Sweets. Now that I think this though, I wonder why I still watch this show at all?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

House “The Down Low”: They’re Not Gay, It’s A Bromance

Photo from Fox

House “The Down Low” finally brought to the forefront what many fans have joked about for quite some time – the relationship between House (Hugh Laurie) and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) that some believe is an intense “bromance.” While it addressed the heavy fan interest in the relationship between these two, the episode also tried to put to bed the whole “House and Wilson are gay” issue. This was a highly enjoyable episode, maybe the first one I really liked this season, with the right blend of light humor, dark humor, lots of House and Wilson interaction, and only a smattering of the fawning Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). Even the “Patient Of The Week” provided an interesting case, and it was nice to see guest star Sasha Alexander, who I used to enjoy in her role on NCIS.

Here’s what happened:

During a drug deal in a parking garage in which eventual patient Mickey was participating, a scuffle occurs and a gun goes off, causing Mickey (Ethan Embry) to drop to the floor. Some of the participants in the drug deal run off, but Mickey’s friend Eddie (played by the usually creepy Nick Chinlund) sticks by Mickey and gets him to the hospital. House stitches up Mickey’s head cut that he got while falling to the floor, and House lets on to them that he knows that Mickey and Nick were up to no good as Mickey has gunpowder burns on his jacket. When Mickey tries to leave, House, who also noticed that Mickey seemed to have done nothing to stop his fall in the parking garage, let’s Mickey take a few steps to leave and then House bangs his cane against the bed, causing Mickey to drop like a stone again. It seems Mickey has a loud noise induced vertigo.
House talks to his staff about the case – his staff consisting of Drs. Foreman (Omar Epps), Thirteen/Hadley (Olivia Wilde), Taub (Peter Jacobson), and a “cleaned up” Chase (Jesse Spencer). (A side note – Jesse Spencer looked a little different to me and I think it was more than the haircut and the facial hair.) House seems to think that Mickey’s drug use has something to do with his medical problem.

While working on testing Mickey’s hearing, Foreman shows Taub a pay stub of Thirteen’s that shows that Thirteen makes more money than he does. To Foreman’s dismay, Taub tells him that he makes more than Foreman as well.

Meanwhile, Wilson is getting acquainted with another tenant in their building, Nora (Sasha Alexander) and Wilson finds out that she thinks he and House are a gay couple. At the hospital, House is talking to Eddie in order to try to get information about what drugs Mickey may have been exposed to, and they speak in “code” with using the word “culottes” for cocaine. Wilson bursts in and tells House that EVERYONE thinks they’re gay. House tells Wilson they are just two grown men who moved in together, and they are just “two tigers away from an act in Vegas.” House also realizes that both he and Wilson are interested in Nora, and you can see the wheels in his brain turning. He also asks what is a culotte, and Wilson quickly answers him, as if he were the stereotypical gay man who knows everything about fashion. When Eddie interrupts their discussion and tells House that Mickey hates “the stuff” and Mickey the only one that Eddie trusts with it, he also gets concerned that Mickey has been gone for an hour and asks if he is okay. House replies “It’s an ear test. Pretty sure he’ll live.” We are immediately cut over to Mickey in an apparent seizure, with Taub and Foreman trying to stabilize him. House’s comment, coupled with that scene, was a great example of the dark humor that I think this show had been missing for quite some time.

House’s staff don’t think that Mickey’s problems are due to drugs and decide to check his arteries. House still has a feeling that drugs are involved, and manages to bug Mickey’s room to see what he can hear, but he’s having some problem with reception. House thinks of another way to make Mickey talk by having the doctors tell Mickey it will be weeks before they can figure out what is wrong with him. Mickey decides he wants out and when he gets discharged, Thirteen and Chase tail him in Thirteen’s car. She loses him when she crashed a red light while following and gets pulled over by the police and her car impounded.

Meanwhile, Foreman, still upset that people working for him make more money than he, has approached Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and asks for a raise, but Cuddy refuses as Foreman has no competing offer as leverage.

Later, House, seeing Nora in the apartment lobby, unveils a large poster from “The Chorus Line” and starts fawning over it, only making Nora think even more so that House and Wilson are gay.

Then we find that Eddie has returned Mickey to the hospital, this time Mickey is rambling incoherently. House wonders if he has an infection that has moved to his brain. We also discover that the whole paycheck issue is a joke that the rest of the staff is playing on Foreman to bring him down a notch.

Back to Mickey, who had no heart rate spike during a lumbar puncture. He is confronted and admits he beta blockers to control stress. House suspects Mickey had gone through a beta blocker withdrawal when he was first brought into the hospital because he didn’t receive his medication and his body may be producing extra adrenaline.

When Wilson gets home, he finds House and Nora sitting on the floor, eating food and Nora massaging House's shoulders. Wilson decides to ruin House’s chances by plopping himself down on one of their moving boxes and helping them eat the food.

Foreman, still on the pay issue, tells Taub that he made up a job offer to Cuddy and she called his bluff. He now plans to leave the hospital after Mickey’s case is over. This worries Taub, Thirteen, and Chase, as they had no intention of the joke going this far. When they later approach Cuddy and offer some of their own salaries to help give Foreman a raise, she tells them she hadn’t seen Foreman in a few days and doesn’t know what they are talking about. As they leave her office, Foreman is waiting for them and they realize he figured out they were joking with him.

When the adrenaline theory proves wrong, they are left with just vertigo and a fever. When Thirteen also tries unsuccessfully to get House’s bug to work, House realizes it’s because there is already another bug in the room. After House gets Eddie, who has stayed by Mickey’s side, to leave the room, House confronts Mickey with the other bug and realizes Mickey is working undercover. As Mickey has been under for 16 months and has not seen his family in that time, he doesn't want to give up any information as they are only a day a way from a bog drug bust that he has risked his life for. He wants to be kept alive for at least 24 hours and then he will tell them everything about himself. When Eddie returns to the room, Mickey suddenly grabs his stomach in great pain. It turns out to be a GI infarction due to a blood clot in one of his arteries, and a foot of Mickey’s bowel had to be removed. They only have environmental causes left, and Thirteen thinks that Eddie can help. When her attempt to drug him to make him think that he is also suffering from a similar illness fails and he realizes what she is up to, he finally caves and says he will show her where they have been working the drug deal. It turns out to be a dry cleaning facility, full of all kinds of chemicals. While she takes samples, she and Eddie get caught by someone who walked into the facility, and Thirteen makes it seem like she is a hooker and they are just there for some fun as a cover.

But hilarity ensues when House is at dinner with Nora. He implies that he and Wilson are having some issues, saying “I need some time.” She offers House the option to stay at her place. But Wilson walks in and decides to turn the tables on House’s trick, announcing to everyone in the restaurant that “I love this man” and drops on his knee to propose, with ring in hand. House says, with a grin, “Wow. This was unexpected. “ Nora makes a quick exit.

The samples Thirteen brought back from the dry cleaner turned out to be a dead end. As four embolisms appeared in Mickey's lungs over the last 12 hours they think it is a fungus and start him on anti-fungal medication. When Eddie leaves the hospital for the big deal, Mickey sadly tells him he can’t go with him. It seems Mickey almost feels bad that his friend Eddie, who stayed with him this whole time, is going to get arrested.

When Nora shows up at House's office, he admits that he is not gay and was only messing things up for Wilson. When she asks if House was only spending time with her to get back at Wilson, he says “God no. I was spending time with you ‘cause I want to touch your boobs.” Nora moves to make another quick exit, somewhat pissed, and House tells her that Wilson has been divorced three times and slept with a dying patient, adding that Wilson is no boy scout. It’s here where House gets his epiphany. He goes to Mickey's room and tells him, along with Thirteen and Chase, that Mickey has Hughes-Stovin syndrome. Mickey is going to die and there is nothing they can do, Thirteen telling him it wouldn't have mattered if he had been open with them from the beginning. Mickey wants to see his family now.

We then see Eddie and his cohorts being arrested as Mickey dies, with his wife present.

Back at their apartment, House and Wilson are watching TV, sitting on a new couch that reclines. Wilson says he ran into Nora who no longer thinks they are gay, now she thinks they are mendacious dirt bags. House tells him being a mendacious dirt bag comes more naturally to him. House suggests they get rid of the giant “The Chorus Line” poster, but Wilson says he likes it, just like the sofa. As Wilson begins to sing the theme from “The Chorus Line, ” House wants him to stop but Wilson says only if he gets rid of the sofa. When House says no way, Wilson continues to sing the theme as the episode ends.

All in all, this episode kept my attention, kept me involved in the case, and kept me laughing. And while House and Wilson are not gay, it’s nice to know that the bromance still lives!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

“24”: New York Gets “Jacked”

All photos from Fox (click on any image for a larger size)

Kiefer Sutherland – AKA Jack Bauer - and “24” return to Fox with two, two-hour episodes airing on Sunday, January 17 and Monday, January 18. The Sunday episode begins at 9 PM ET and runs until 11 PM, and the Monday episode begins at 8 PM ET and runs to 10 PM.

Fox describes the premiere episode as follows:

“Season Eight of 24, set in New York, premieres on Sunday, January 17 at 9/8c, when Jack Bauer is unwillingly drawn back into terrifying action just as President Allison Taylor negotiates international security with Omar Hassan, a determined Middle Eastern leader visiting the U.S. on a peacemaking mission. As the astonishing day unfolds and the threat escalates, an upgraded CTU operates under the command of razor-sharp honcho Brian Hastings, who supervises quirky Chole O'Brien, expert data analyst Dana Walsh, systems analyst Arlo Glass and field operative Cole Ortiz.”

New to the cast is Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff (as Dana Walsh) Mykelti Williamson (as Brian Hastings), Freddie Prinze Jr. (as Cole Ortiz) Of course, fan favorite Mary Lynn Rajskub returns as Chloe O’Brien, along with Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor, and Annie Wersching as Renee Walker

To get fans pumped for the new season, here are a few promotional photos from Fox featuring Kiefer Sutherland. You can also get some short videos about the new season on the “24” web site.

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My Advice for Conan O’Brien – Go To Fox!

It was just a little over a year ago when I wrote my opinions about NBC moving Jay Leno to the 10 PM time slot in my article titled “Has NBC Cut Off Their Nose to Spite Their Face?? Just to refresh your memory, here’s what I said:

“This also brings up the issue of the local affiliates, who currently have a scripted show leading up to their 11:00 PM local newscasts. If less people tune in for Leno, it may mean less people turning in for the local news afterwards. I’m sure they are less than thrilled with NBC right now, since it seems NBC just threw them under the bus.

I have a tendency to agree with Les Moonves that this move will only mean sunnier days and more viewers for CBS, and likely ABC as well. Think about this: two of NBC popular main stays are Law & Order and Law & Order SVU. Now, those viewers who used to watch those shows at 10:00 will likely still gravitate to another drama on another network. Then, NBC may find that when they pit these two shows up against other shows airing at 8:00 or 9:00 PM that are already well established, that they will draw less viewers for Law & Order and SVU than if they aired at 10:00 PM.”

I think my TV instincts are pretty good, and I knew that this whole mess was going to come back and bite NBC in the butt. It turned out to be true that the affiliates lost significant views after the Leno show. It came true that shows like Law & Order and Law & Order SVU suffered in viewership by being moved to earlier times and different days. It turned out to be true that CBS did see sunnier days as Leno gave CBS bigger ad revenues.

Over the weekend when NBC advised that they were moving Leno back to 11:30 for a half hour show, and Conan to 12:05, I felt vindicated. I also believe that the network has treated Conan O’Brien shabbily by still allowing him to be host of the Tonight Show, yet still having to follow Leno. As of this writing, nothing has been confirmed from Conan as yet whether he will play or take his ball and go home. The New York Times referred to the NBC mess as “In Leno Fiasco, a Window to the Midlife Crisis of NBC” where they write “No one thought the network television business would age gracefully, but NBC has turned two of its biggest stars into the equivalent of Jon and Kate: two wounded parties biding their time until the divorce comes through. By Friday night, Mr. O’Brien had a day to gain some perspective and ticked off a list of rumors, including a last one that sounded just about right: “NBC is going to throw me and Jay into a pit with sharpened sticks. The one who crawls out alive gets to leave NBC.”

My opinion is that Conan should get as far away from NBC as possible, and move over to the Fox TV network, which is in dire need of a late night show. Conan’s style of humor would fit the hip and edgy Fox television, and would provide formidable competition for Leno. It seems clear to me that as long as Jay Leno is breathing, NBC will never move him out. The fact that Leno was unable to draw enough viewers at an earlier time slot when many more people could be watching should be a clue that Leno’s style of humor is stiff and dated, and no longer a draw for viewers. In defense of Leno, it was probably a mistake for NBC to move him out of the Tonight Show in the first place. But NBC wanted to have its cake and eat it too by keeping both Leno and Conan. Now, NBC has egg on their face and possibly a new problem if Conan doesn’t want to play along. The handwriting seems to be on the wall for Conan – NBC likes Jay Leno more. NBC doesn’t deserve Conan, and I think it’s time for him to move on to those greener pastures that likely exist at Fox.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heroes Returns – That’s 2 Hours I Won’t Ever Get Back

RIP Heroes
(photo from NBC)
Back in November, I called NBC’s Heroes “a confused, pointless mess.” My husband and I decided to watch the 2 hours of Heroes that aired yesterday anyway, hoping that the promises made in the "teases" that these 2 episode would really deliver would come to pass. After watching, we came to the conclusion that it was two hours wasted.

Heroes is suffering from adding too many new characters and not providing interesting story lines for the established characters, or even featuring established characters on a regular basis. This is compounded by bad acting (Jack Coleman, Elisabeth Rohm) and a character played by someone who now seems typecast to play the creepy character (Robert Knepper as T-Bag, oops, I mean Samuel). Characters that the fans used to love are becoming tiresome. For example, Sylar (Zachary Quinto) hasn’t really developed much, and Hiro (Masi Oka), while the most enjoyable of the characters, requires too much effort to watch with all the subtitles. I almost went a little nutty when a scene with Emma (Deanne Bray) and T-Bag, oops, I mean Samuel, required subtitles. But those were YELLOW subtitles, not white subtitles like Hiro’s, maybe that was the writer’s idea of excitement.

Claire (Hayden Panettiere) – the subject of the whole “save the cheerleader save the world” campaign early on with this series that turned out to be a massive dud and disappointment – seems to be a confused mess all of her own. She still has issues with daddy – real daddy (now dead) and adopted daddy – and she seems unsure of how to approach her life and her powers. I would have hoped that her character would have developed far more by now, but she still remains the same old Claire who seems to have issues with everybody else in her life, even though she can’t figure out her own self.

These two hours were devoid of any real action or any intensity, and did nothing to make me any more interested in the series than I was before. Considering that I had lost most interest in Heroes in November, I would say that the episode was an epic fail in trying rekindle viewer excitement as promised.

With so much more interesting television to watch, Heroes is just not worth my time and effort any more, so it’s now off my official watch list. If I am bored and can find nothing else to watch, I may catch an episode here and there. After all, Heroes is like watching a soap opera – you can miss it for several months and then tune in and find that everything is still just about the same as you last left it (which is nowhere). I suspect that Heroes will find itself on the “cancel” list at the end of this season as I don’t think NBC can waste valuable prime time on a show that isn’t delivering viewers.

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