Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trust the Institutions You've Sworn To Protect! 24 and Lots More!

Alright, I finally got my Watchmen review / rant out of the way, so now I'm free to talk about other stuff. And I'm sure you've all been breathlessly awaiting my typical takes on any number of topics.

First of all, let me talk a bit about ...


- It's been a sad couple of weeks in the 24-verse. First, last week, a legend of 24 commited the ultimate sacrifice, as Bill Buchanan made a suicide run that enabled Jack and the FBI to take down General Juma and his band of terrorists, who had occupied the White House and held the President and dozens of others hostage. Oh Bill Buchanan - when first we met you, you were but a simple CTU figurehead, barking orders to Jack Bauer that were doomed to be disobeyed. But this year you went from CTU company man to rogue underground freedom fighter, and you dazzled us with your determination to expose a conspiracy within our very government. Rest in peace, Sir, for Bill Buchanan, we hardly knew ye.

And then, even as Bill's untimely if heroic demise was still sinking in, this week we lost a character who was on his way to going from adversary to staunch ally in the war on evil. And oh, just as 24 teased us with the prospect of a potentially unstoppable Kiefer Sutherland-Kurtwood Smith team-up, Kurtwood's Senator Mayer was shockingly gunned down by The Mighty Quinn in his dogged pursuit of Jack by-god Bauer. But before he was taken from us, Mayer was able to espouse some valuable advice to Jack, asking Bauer to put some trust in the very institutions that he has sworn to defend. A line that could very well be one of the most signifigant things ever uttered on the series, you have to wonder if it's a line that drew a line in the sand for Jack - will he learn to play by the rules? Or will he finally become so disillusioned with the country he has saved time and again that he will mirror Tony at the season's open and seek to bring down the whole shebang as only Jack Bauer could? A terrifying thought, indeed. But back to Kurtwood for a sec, it speaks to the badassness of Bauer that he's made an enemy of Robocop and an ally of Clarence Boddiker. Thank you 24 for making the cast of Robocop kick ass once again, and thank you Kurtwood, for adding that extra dose of gravitas to what has been a gravitas-heavy season.

All that plus: Chole! Morris!!! Jack dispatching of Quinn using a front-loader in an intense bout of vehicular carnage!

So, yeah, the last two weeks of 24 have pretty much kicked all sorts of ass. And I think it's official - ever since the 2-hour special a couple weeks back, 24 is back on top as the king of the TV mountain. And next week looks to continue the trend, with Jack and Tony Vs. The World (the world being the bio-weapon-sportin' Blackwater-esque PMC, led by Jon Voight). Business has picked up.

My Grade:

Last Week: A
This week: A-

- Some quick thoughts on TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: Well, a little while ago I all but declared this show DOA, but I have to say that I'm glad I speed-watched my way through some of the ultra-lame episodes of the last month or so and caught myself up, so that I could watch the last two weeks' worth of eps. I say that because there's definitely been a huge improvement recently, as the story has focused in much more on probably the show's most intriguing aspect - John's relationship with Cameron and the issue of whether or not she can be trusted. Plus, the final fate of Reilly was dramatic and pretty shocking, and gave the show a much-needed creative shake-up. I still wish there wasn't so much standing around and brooding on the show, but at the same time I'm now back on board, at least for now. Plus, Summer Glau really is great as Cameron.

- I'm really looking forward to tonight's LOST. I know I never got a chance to review the episode from the week before last - suffice it to say I thought it was a great ep and I enjoyed the focus on Sawyer. I think I am a member of Team Sawyer-Juliette, it just seems like a much more natural relationship than a lot of the others that either of the two have been involved with, and within minutes of the reveal there was an instant chemistry and connection there. I was also just really intrigued by the time-lost characters stuck seemingly in the 70's and all of the plot potential that that new twist might contain. In any case, am psyched for tonight's ep.

- Just a note that this past Sunday's episodes of THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY were both pretty mediocre, although, man, does The Simpsons ever look good now that it's in full HD. But I do have to once again praise good ol' KING OF THE HILL, which offered up a pretty entertaining ep - just another reminder that KOTH remains one of TV's best yet most underrated series.

- So, what happened to GOSSIP GIRL? The show returned from a long hiatus on Monday only to turn in one of the series' weakest overall episodes to date. They need to get Chuck away from this meandering secret society storyline and get him back to his old, evil ways ASAP. Let's see if next week's ep can turn things around.

- Finally, I have to say I've been really pleasantly surprised so far from what I've seen of KINGS. The two-hour pilot could be a bit methodically paced at times, but it was really elevated by an outstanding cast, particularly the great Ian McShane. McShane brought an epic gravitas to the role of King Silas, and really helped to sell the intriguing premise of an alternate world in which medieval-style monarchies still exist and thrive across the globe. The series, which is also, in a way, a modern-day retelling of the biblical David and Goliath story, kept me interested in its pilot with a couple of pretty nice plot twists that indicate the show could have a pretty fun, soapy vibe to compliment the epic drama and political intrigue. Still, the premise is a bit ambiguous at this point, and I would have liked to see a bit more action and intensity to really kick things off with a bang. We'll see how things shape up, but I give Kings a lot of credit for daring to be a bir different, and it's 100% worth checking out.

My Grade: B+

- Alright - that's all I've got for now. Man, it's only Wednesday, but I am ready for the weekend! I will end with two quick plugs:

a.) If you missed the pilot of NBC's latest epic drama, KINGS, you can download it right now, for FREE and in HD, on iTunes, Amazon, Zune, XBOX Live and on the Playstation Store!

b.) Speaking of which, NBC Universal is now up and running on the Playstation Store. So now, whether y our next-gen system of choices is an XBOX 360 or a PS3, you can download episodes of The Office, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, and many more right to your TV in glorious HD.

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