Monday, February 22, 2010

24 Season 8: 12AM-1AM Quick Review

Renee, let's play "24: The Blame Game!"

I guess stabbing Jack Bauer (accidentally or not) results in some problems with the 'ol boss.

But before we get into that mishegoss, we start off with the Russian family, which is quickly diminishing in ranks. Right when Joseph is about to cooperate and bring the much-talked about "Rods" into CTU, he gets shot by a well-positioned terrorist working for Hassan's emo-brother. But worry not, the phone line was open long enough to narrow the terrorists location down to 10 square miles. And right as Jack realizes he's gotta go driving again, he makes time to chat with Renee and make sure they're all on the same-page. But what that same page means goes quickly from "Remember, you stabbed that Ruskie in self-defense" to Renee responding "Jack, wanna come over later and split a bottle of chablis?"

These "living on the edge" types really don't know how to do anything romantic without bloodshed, do they? I wonder what their wedding will look like... 'Nam, most likely.

But the great melodrama of tonight's episode centers on Renee Walker being set-up for some political fallout surrounding the death of some scumbag Russian arms dealers. I've been silent on the idiotic political stuff happening on the show this season but tonight's bureaucratic angst has pushed me over the edge. Blame Renee for what exactly? For them losing the rods that she got them close to in the first place? I predict the following scene will eventually take place, resolving Renee's legal woes: 

JACK: Madame President, this girl is kinda my lady friend now. Give her a blanket pardon, ok?  
PREZ TAYLOR: You want fries with that, Jack?  

Jack returns to CTU in a hybrid-powered SUV brigade and quickly puts together the whole set-up. He then engages in very Jack-like behavior, breaking into the interrogation, choking some Justice Dept. "hack," liberating Renee from the room and getting a whole 5 feet out before a CTU "redshirt" (this year they're wearing a neutral beige) tazes Jack. What a wuss move! Jack was on a roll! Bah! 

As for these nuclear rods, the fugitive emo-Hassan turns out to have a conscience after all- he's called CTU (how did he have their number?) to inform them that while he is, in fact, a terrorist, there are more terrible terrorists terrorizing NYC. It seems the convoluted plot to smuggle rods into the US to then smuggle them out was not really a good idea in the mind of emo-Hassan's terrorist cohorts. Ha! 

But the greatest moment in all of Season 8 took place as Jack was walking out of CTU. Hastings runs after him yelling "Jack! Jack! You complete me!" Jack offers to save planet Earth if they let his new girlfriend off the hook. Hastings whines about some work-related pressures but finally says "Are you in or are you out?"  

Jack's response? He pulls The Jack Sack strap from one shoulder, over his head, onto his other shoulder-- like a symbol that the manpurse just became "active." The music swells. Hastings kneels down and kisses Jack's pinky ring! Oh heck yes!!!  

There was some stuff with Jenny/Dana and the Brothers Dim, but I don't recall any details at the moment. I am in Jack Sack afterglow. So, make sure you all activate your manpurses, copy that?

Monday, February 15, 2010

24 Season 8: 11PM-12AM Quick Review

Like sands in the hourglass, so are the days of Jack and Renee.

This week, Jack is under the watchful "care" of uranium-enriched Ruskies and Renee is coming off of her "Badass Momma" high from the first several episodes. What a turnaround- in one hour, Renee is ready to eat the beating heart of her enemies (to possess their souls!), the next she's all fragile and despondent. Have a drink, sister!

But we kick things off with Dumb and Dumber, Jen-nay's friends who knocked over the evidence locker. What does one do with $120K in scrilla? Dump it at the local nudie bar, of course! (To be honest, I wasn't expecting The Brothers Dim to call their financial advisor straight away either, but come on guys!).

Back with the good guys & girls, it's clear that CTU Director Hastings has chosen... poorly in entrusting the nation's safety with an unstable Renee and a highly portable/bleeding Jack Bauer. Hastings decides to slouch away to his office, ordering his highly fashionable staff to "show me sexy!" on the CTU floor. Oy, we're screwed!

Meanwhile, Jack offers the Ruskies a government bailou- err offer to buy their uranium rods for a hefty sum of $250 million. The Vampire Arms Dealer is not buying Jack's "I'm a little German" routine- but instead of killing Jack outright, the Ruskies decide to "break" Bauer with a little car battery electrocution. All of this happened within the first 11 minutes of the episode. WOW.

As an ebay auction breaks out between Hassan's effeminate, fugitive brother and Jack's "double down" offer, the Russians continue to torture Bauer in the worst possible ways, but these amateurs have no idea what Jack can do while being strung up and electrocuted. Yes, Jack died this way already, and he's not in the mood to put up with that inconvenience today. So, Grandpa Bauer does what he does best- turns Electrocution into Electrocution-ade- and stings his captor with many volts of pain. Bravo, sir. But to kill a Russian sadist, you must use your thighs, as any Bond Girl will tell you. Jack, you're one busy one-man army tonight!

Jack kills a whole lotta Russians once he's free, John McClane style (with no shoes on). I had to check my TV info button to make sure this wasn't an episode from Season 2- Jack is killing bad guys! This episode is restoring my faith in Season 8!

And then something happens which damn near made me fall down. Jack Bauer suggests they offer immunity to the Vampire Russian Boss in exchange for intel on the missing nuclear material, and guess what- Hastings and the President agree with his suggestion. What?! Has the "24"-verse finally wised up? They're deferring to Jack's judgment? I'm hallucinating. I must be!

(NOTE: I am ignoring Dana Walsh going to the strip club- unless Charles Logan walks out of the champagne room looking disheveled, they cannot justify this terrible subplot).

But in the end, this episode was an absolute winner. Jack is in *control* of things. Sure, the nuclear rods/materials/weapons are still on the loose, but that's fine! That's just more people Jack can hunt down next week. And this time, he'll be wearing shoes!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

24 Film Is In Its Initial Phases Of Moving Forward

Variety reports that 20th Century Fox has hired screenwriter Billy Ray (no Cyrus, sorry), author of "Shattered Glass," "Flightplan." and "State of Play" to take a crack on an idea he pitched to the studio for a Jack Bauer film. The concept involves Jack fighting bad guys in Europe (an idea I conspicuously offered somewhere on the internet a week ago, but no worries, Billy, my idea involved gypsies and an elephant named "Oswald").

Let's be clear- a lot of fan sites (and some industry news sites) will throw out the headline "24 Movie Starts Production!"- well, that's not accurate. Studios pay screenwriters to deliver scripts all of the time. Sometimes those scripts get produced, most other times they do not. And don't get me started on rewrites.  This is about as early in the process as imaginable. Yes, they could fast-track this and get a movie out within 2-3 years. But unless your movie features 10-foot tall blue mancats in 3-D, you're not getting fast-tracked by FOX.

And then there's the matter of Season 9- will there be a next season? Variety hints that this is not likely, but like I said- a movie will take time to get going, so it's perfectly possible that they will go one more season at least. Why would FOX turn down the chance to squeeze one more year's worth of revenue out of the show?

Monday, February 08, 2010

24 Season 8: 10PM-11PM Quick Review

The Ruskie Corleone Family dominated the start of tonight's episode and it made for some fun spy movie shenanigans. There was talk of angels, honor, blood, battlefields, nukes and sliced bread. The only thing missing was a scene where they sit in a sauna and run into an ice-frozen lake, drinking "wodka" and riding polar bears. Okay, maybe that wouldn't have fit, but you would be talking about it to your friends tomorrow!

Meanwhile, Dana Walsh and her Dumb and Dumber crew get into some silly trouble, pulling jokes on each other and on a poor cop who happens upon this criminally genius enterprise. Here's an analogy: The Dana Walsh subplot is to my intelligence what the baseball bat was to the cop's head.

And then the whole episode goes nuts- it all happened within the span of ten seconds, but I believe 40 people ended up dead and it started when Renee pulled out a knife and went to work on Vlad. But the knife moved around the room a few times and Renee accidentally stabbed Jack (which actually made me yell out "whoops-a-daisy!"). I think the highlight of the melee was Jack pulling the knife out of his gut and throwing it into the throat of a menacing Russian. Wow. This is what happens when you make Jack dress up like Drew Carey-- he gets really pissed off!

The funniest part of all of this was seeing Hastings try and comprehend Jack's quick update. Hastings is speaking for the viewer when he says "But she just had SEX with the guy!" You see, Hastings believes sex means love. That's very old-fashioned of you, slouchy!

But before you can say "How touching" when Jack consoles a weepy Renee, more Ruskies show up and Jack resumes his cover and goes along with his new comrades to hopefully find those nuclear rods. This time he leaves the glasses behind. Crazy.

We got some gory, chaotic action-- so I chalk this episode up as a winner. But am I the only one in thinking this is turning into a Coen Bros. movie? "The Big Bauerowski," anyone? Hmmm...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

24 Season 8: Hitler Does Not Like This Season So Far...

For anyone unfamiliar with this internet fad, for a couple of years people have been taking a scene from the movie "Downfall" (in which Hitler berates his subordinates) and put in their own subtitles on any number of subjects ranging from sports, politics and entertainment. It's meant as satire, and not to make light of Nazi Germany or the Holocaust. Now that we have that out of the way, here's my playful take on Season 8's problems thus far:

24 Season 8 Parody: Hitler Has Problems With "24" from Adam Cohen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

24 Season 8 Spoilers [UPDATED 3/9/10]

I usually don't get involved in the spoilers business because I like for folks to see the show on its own. But two images I came across show something I think will interest those of us who feel the Dana Walsh/Jenny story is not working.

Click here to read the spoilers

Is Jenny running from Jack? Looks like it. And it looks like this takes place several hours from where we are currently in the season. These photos were taken from a location shoot in downtown L.A. (which begs another question: does Jack go back to L.A. this season or are they using the location to stand-in for NYC?)

3/9/10 UPDATE: The trailer for next week's episode shows a very brief snippet which leads me to believe (given the pictures below) that Dana/Jenny is a mole who springs Hassan's daughter out of CTU's custody following her rescue. So, all along, Jenny was working for the bad guys. Her sad little victim routine was a cover.

Now, the question is who got Jenny the inside line into CTU? Kamistani terrorists? A domestic cabal (the remnants of the Alan Wilson crew? Charles Logan?).

Monday, February 01, 2010

24 Season 8: 9PM-10PM Quick Review

This week we get to further explore the unstable, undercover and unstoppable Renee Walker. It's becoming routine that Jack tells CTU Director Hastings that Renee is crazy. And Hastings ignores Jack's warnings (again).  Arlo Glass is still sexually harassing Dana Walsh/Jenny, this time offering her to cry on any body part she so desires. TO THE WRITERS OF "24"- congratulations on the worst dialogue in the history of television. Okay, moving on...

No, actually we can't move on because we got a first on "24"- a Chloe ass shot, served up to viewers following her telling off Arlo for being a disgusting pig. I'm no expert on storytelling nuance but what are the filmmakers of "24" telling us? That to look at one's ass is not appropriate, but to show one's ass with a camera angle is okay? My brain hurts.

But before we can get any further into that business, we get probably one of the creepiest scenes in recent history- Renee basically chooses to "go dark"- which consists of her flushing away her earpiece (why?) and sleeping with Vlad to keep her cover going. Before I address this issue, I have to ask- why did she have to take a shower at Vlad's hideout? Oh, that's right, she didn't, but someone in marketing must have thought "Hey, can we get Renee in a towel?" Now, her sleeping with Vlad is a sad deal, another act of self-destruction by this very troubled character. Last week, Renee asked Vlad to shoot her (and we all kind of believed her). This week, she's sleeping with the guy. I'm still scratching my head at how "together" she seemed last season... oh yeah, all this Russian stuff wasn't written yet! We call that "retconning" on the comic book world (nerd alert!).

But someone in the writer's room remembered that Kiefer Sutherland is the highest paid actor on the show, and they should probably use him for a couple of scenes. Jack (finally!) goes undercover as a German arms dealer. With "Where's Waldo" Eyewear. Oh heck yes!

This reminds me of when George Costanza had his alias Art Vanderlay on "Seinfeld." It's such a goofy cover, it just has to work! Kiefer finally gets to light up a smoke on "24," which is probably some personal accomplishment for the guy. And we get some silly banter in German, which was thankfully subtitled (and funny).  But the best part was Cole Ortiz plugging three double-crossing Ruskies from his crow's nest and Jack leveraging the last guy for a final meet with Vlad. This is "24"- this is what I want more of- spy vs. spy stuff, no redneck melodrama or irradiated Russian Days of Our Lives, copy that?

In the end, this was a weird episode. We still have not gotten a bonafide Jack episode yet, and we're pretty deep into the season. Here's hoping next week does better and delivers some legitimate action and suspense. It's time things started to pick up.

24 Season 8: Introducing Vinnie, the CTU Hot Dog Guy!

Aside from a few exterior shots of Manhattan, you'd be hard-pressed to say that this season of "24" really feels like it takes place in New York City. But thankfully, they got an authentic dirty-water dog vendor stationed in the heart of CTU's NY complex. Vinnie sent in this report on the status of the new CTU:

Hey folks- Vinnie here. So far, this has been a pretty crazy day. I was listening to the sports talk show this afternoon and this stuff about the Yankees letting Johnny Damon go is ridiculous! What, you guys don't got an extra $10 million layin' around? My cousin Jerry has a hot dog cart up by the new stadium and he's telling me all about the money flowing into that place. As for me, I gotta deal with a bunch of government employees that are moonlighting as models for J.Crew. These types don't like eating hot dogs, they're too worried about their figures and what not.

But I will say this, that guy Hastings is my best customer. He comes over to my cart every five minutes, telling me about some new shrimp recipes he came up with, listening to my radio and talking sports. He's alright- he likes chili on his hot dog. I believe his spinal column is collapsing too.

Then there's that Dana Walsh chick. I got my suspicions about her. She says she's from the area but I saw her put mayo on her hot dog, which is absolutely ridiculous. You'd have to be from someplace like Arkansas or something to do that. But everybody says she's not from the South. And that her name's really Dana. Yeah, we'll see...

Her boy Cole Ortiz ain't bad. His eyes are always bugging out like he's surprised by something. I had a cousin who looked like that too- he got kicked in the head by a horse at the Belmont track three summers ago. Naturally, we sued, and he's doin' alright now. Except for the hoof mark...

If there's one guy I don't like, it's that kid Arlo. He's always yapping about female body parts like he ain't never been with a chick before. If I had a sister, and he was in the same zip code as her, I'd preemptively kick his ass for all the filthy crap running through his head.

But all of these clowns don't compare to my real buddy here, Chloe. She's the best! She told me how to steal digital cable! Now I get to see all the pay-per-view boxing matches for free. I invited her and Morris over to my house next week to see the next fight. My wife is gonna cook sausage & peppers (yes, I eat a lot of food in casings, what's it you ya?).

Anyway, that's the deal with these characters. I see there's some new guy running around the office with a fancy leather purse. He looks angrier than a fat kid at a salad bar. I'm gonna leave him be.