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Monday, January 16, 2006
TV Round-Up
This one could be a long one since I will cover 24, Battlestar Galactica and possibly Smallville. You have been warned...

Smallville: Fanatic
Back in "LexMas" Lex decided that it time to go full on, all out evil since pretty much no matter what he did, Lana was never going to love him. Interesting character decision and influence on Lex going evil. It would have been more interesting had they actually shown some hint of following through on this decision in this episode. Instead, what we get is yet another story that starts off with a teaser full of shocking moments and then backtracks 48 hours or so to reveal just how certain players got into their various places. Of course, we find out in the course of an hour that there is no way that Lois is the one actually pulling the trigger to take out Jonathan. And if you didn't figure that Clark would come speeding out of no where to stop the bullet just in the nick of time, then you're obviously watching this show for the first time. No, instead of actually following the path of Lex has decided that it's worth being a devious and evil SOB since that how life is going to knock him down and kick him in the guy anyway, we get some wacky campaign fun. Lex meets a group of young college Lex-publicans who love Lex more than life itself. One of them is a young lady who's a bit obsessed with Lex and isn't afraid to show it. The woman literally goes bald for Lex, shaving off all the hair on her body and then presenting herself to Lex for his approval. It does raise the point of just who the hell does security over at Luthor manor and why haven't they been fired yet since any Chloe, Clark or Lana can just walk in anytime they feel like it.

Meanwhile, Jonathan fires his campaign manager, wanting to win on his principles and hires Lois. Yeah, that had me scratching my head going, "Ohhhhhhhkay then" as well. (Last I looked Lois was still in college. There's a whole lot of hoops Smallville is going to have to jump through to get Lois to The Daily Planet and every time they do something like this it just makes that journey that much more difficult). And the campaign is running low on cash, but Lionel wants to help. Now, I hate to say it, but the last time Jonathan and Martha accepted Lionel's help it came with a price. I wonder if there will be a price here, though that might require the writers to follow-up on things, so maybe it won't happen.

And in the really, really tacked on plot of the week--Clark and Lana aren't having relations since Clark got his powers back for fear he's going to kill her because he can't control himself. Basically, it's the entire Man of Steel/Woman of Kleenex debate we've heard for years and which was so succicently summed up in Mallrats for us. In the end, nothing really gets resolved since we find out Lana is looking into the meteor showers and the two of barely touch or hug in the reconcilation scene at episode's end. Though I will give you the scene in which Clark talks to Chloe about this issue was well done.

Battlestar Galactica: Resurrection Ship, Part 2

One of the more interesting debates I've seen around the Net about the new Battlestar Galactica is in the conflict of who do you root for? In the original series, it was very cut and dry--the Colonials were the good guys and the Cylons the bad guys. No shades of gray, no moral ambiguity, nothing messy like that.

But here in Ron Moore's vision of Battlestar, things are a bit less cut and dried. Indeed, as the series has unfolded, the question has been--is this humanity worth saving? Or are they really little better than the Cylons who have attacked them?

Interesting that we'd see that debate brought up this week by the episode. And brought up to Adama by a Cylon prisoner. In a great scene, Adama, clearly conflicted about having to order Starbuck to kill Admiral Cain, talks to Cylon Sharon and wonders why the Cylons hate the Colonials so much. We see Adama wrestling with the decisions he's making and having to make and it's a pretty intense little scene. We don't come away with easy answers to the question, though you can tell it gives Adama a lot to think about. Unlike Cain who never seems to doubt that what she's done is for the good of the fleet nor does she seem to question her orders or decisions.

The drama of will the other commander be assignated drives much of the conflict. And it really overshadows the huge space battle to take out the Resurecction Ship. Interesting that in this version of BSG, the huge space battle seems almost an after though to the huge battle of human drama taking place in the fleet. I found myself enjoying the pretty pictures and intense action of the attack on the Cylons but I found myself more interesting in what would happen after the battle. What will happen next is far more intersting than who wins--probably because we correctly assume the fleet will win or else the events to come won't be set into motion. In the old series, I can only imagine the huge battle would take up the bulk of the story while the fallout and aftermath wouldn't necessarily be as important. But we're in a new age of Battlestar and one that I had honestly think is a better one overall.

I will admit I did call last week that somehow Gina Six (she's called that by Ron Moore in the podcasts) would take out Cain was spot on. I won't go and say it was predictable, but I will say it was the only way the events could unfold. And for the story to take us to this being the only place the stories could go was a nice touch.

Now, I did get onto Smallville this week for using the old cliche of showing us some strange, wacky event to start the show and then going back 48 hours to explain how we got there. But where Galactica did it better was that the starting point of this series of events was the mid-point of the show. Also, the image of Apollo hanging in space and slowly running out of air was interesting enough without giving away huge chunks of the story or where it all would end or take us that I could go along for the ride. And in the course of the story, we learn that the intial scenes we see aren't necessarily what we at first assume they are. Yes, it's Apollo hanging in space, but we see over the course of the episode that Apollo his will to live. You can almost see his faith and beliefs shattered over the course of the story--Adama is going to assignate Cain, Starbuck is going to help and it was Roslin's idea. Here are three people Apollo trusts and respects and he is disillusioned by what they're going to do. Was his attempted suicide a bit of a passive agressive way of getting out of having to help Starbuck? Or was there more to it than that? This is a man who was willing to take up arms against Tigh and the marines to protect the ideals and values Roslin exposed and now she's willing to advocate assignation for the good of the fleet. How will this affect Apollo and his relationships with each of these characters?

I'm not sure yet. But one thing I've found watching this show--Galactica rarely brings up questions it isn't willing to answer.

24: Day Five 7 - 8 a.m., 8 - 9 a.m.
I was trying to be good when it came to this season of 24. I had decided going into the 2-hour episode last night that I wouldn't let the nitpicky things bug me like they had in preivous years. I'd just go with them and enjoy the story.

And that worked for about an hour and fifteen minutes--up to the point Jack breaks out a window on a car, hotwires it and then can tear down the interestate, talking in a normal voice without having to talk over the sound of the wind rushing into the car. He can even hear on his cell phone with the phone on the ear next to said window. Come on, people! Then you have Derek, who's hung out with Jack for all of 40 minutes as a superhero uber-spy person and started out hating the guy but is now observant enough to see Russians taking over an airport and feels compelled to run in and warn Jack. Oh come on now!

As you can see, I tried. But you know, the show sometimes makes it just a bit too easy to sit there and nitpick.

So, it wasn't easy. But I will say this--I did enjoy the first two hours of the new season and I'm looking forward to more of day five unfolding tonight.

I have to admit that as much as I've spoken ill of the FOX promo department in the past, it was good they didn't give away any of the first act of the new day. The assignation of former President Palmer was a heck of a way to start the day and seeing how everyone reacted to it worked well. Then to see Michelle pull on her red-shirt (though I suspected she was not long for this world when she ran out to the car by herself) and Tony be put into intensive care cradling her as the second explosion went off was a jaw-dropping way to start day five. Now, how long Tony is out of commission remains to be seen since the guy had major surgery in season three and was back on the job an hour later. So, being blown up and losing his wife I expect him back on his feet by the end of episode six.

Interesting that 24 started out with Bauer trying to protect Palmer from assignation. And now what brings Jack out of of hiding is the assignation of Palmer and the conspiracy to set Jack up as the fall guy. I do have to wonder why the Russians are using this as a diversionary tactic. Do they want to create some type of diplomatic nightmare for the U.S. since I can only imagine the Chinese are going to be uber-pissed that Jack is alive and not rotting in a jail in China? Or is there some more far-reaching goal that that? Is this designed to make President Logan look foolish, inept or out of touch with what is going on around him? (Although that won't take much, that it seems as if his advisors do a good job of keeping this out of the press).

Speaking of Logan, the man seems to be very self-centered. If Palmer was a master statesman, putting the good of the country and others above his own agenda, then Logan is the almost polar opposite. The conference could be a target and they should postpone--not under Logan's watch! He's used a lot of policital capital to pull this off and it is the defining moment of his presidency he says. Interesting that it could define it in ways he doesn't want. Palmer was defined by a couple of days in which he faced a crisis and was the leader the nation needed by not being selfish and self-centered. Not as much with Logan. Also, having an evil mole on the inside will probably not play out well, though I wonder how long it will be before Mike Novak catches wind of evil Russian in the cabinet.

Meanwhile, back to our hero, Jack Bauer. So, last season he goes on the lam and settles--just outside of L.A.?!? I guess it has been 18 months since he's gone underground so he may be feeling a bit more relaxed. Of course, one line of dialogue saying--oh I wanted to be near Kim even though she can't know I'm alive would have been good enough for me to say--OK, I can go with that. It was interesting to see the freed of the shackles of CTU reuglations how Jack will react when taking the law into his own hands. Oh sure, we've seen Jack flaunt the rules left and right in previous seasons, but he'd generally have to argue with someone about it first. Here he can play by his rules and play up or down to the level of his competition. It does make me wonder--why would the Russian group want to frame Bauer? And how'd they find out he was alive? Is there a leak in the group that knew Jack was alive? And is Chloe's new boyfriend really the new mole in CTU? Yeah, I hate it that when it comes to 24, each season we have to suspect every newly introudced character is evil and up to no good. But then again, that's half the fun of the show. And it's not like it's something the show hasn't set us up to expect since the end of season one.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/16/2006 08:12:00 AM | |
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