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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
TV Round-Up
Heroes: Company Man
A chance of pace episode for Heroes and one that is one-hundred percent successful.

The past few weeks, the storylines of the show have pared down, focusing on two to three main plotlines per episode. This week, the focus goes even narrower and we spend an entire hour focusing on the character of Mr. Bennett.

I think if you're going to do an episode like this, doing it at this point in the series is a good idea. Eighteen episodes in we still have enough questions about Bennett as a character to make an episode like this work better. I found myself comparing it to the X-Files attempts in later seasons to give some type of human edge, justification and understanding to the Cigarette Smoking Man. It was good but by the time they did it, we were all so used to accepting him as a villian and an obstacle to the work Mulder and Scully were doing that to humanize him only watered him down.

With Bennett, we don't have that problem. Instead, we get a story that explores a man who is comfortable in the moral gray areas. (Interesting then that the flashbacks of the past sixteen years were done in black and white...nice choice). He is willing to take out his best friend and partner and kill him for breaking the rules, but he breaks them himself to protect the daughter he (intially) reluctantly adopted. I really liked seeing the conflict between his professional and private lives and the lines he drew. Even in the end, he did what he had to in order to protect Claire--and it does leave me wondering just how much of his memory of her did he have erased. Is Claire now truly alone? Did he have the Hatian erase everything about Claire from his mind? Will he now see her as nothing more than another person to be hunted down and brought in?

Along the way, we had a few interesting surprises. The biggest being that somehow George Takai is invovled the Company. So, a few weeks ago when he told Hiro he wanted him (Hiro) to assume control of the company, did Takai mean the Company?

I loved the revelation that Takai was part of it. First of all, I never saw it coming. And second of all, I like that it keeps Takai in the mix for the rest of the show. I really liked his character.

Meanwhile, we learned that Claude was involved in the Company long before Bennett came on-board. Better yet, the two worked together for a couple of years before Bennett was ordered to eliminate Claude. Suddenly, we see why Claude was so paranoid. And, once again, Christopher Eccleston was fantastic as Claude. Move heaven and earth but make him a regular next season....that's all I'm saying.

There was so much good to this story and so little not so good. In fact, I can't think of one thing that I didn't like about the episode, except maybe that everyone near Ted should have severe radiation posioning. But then again, this is a comic-book brought to life and such real-world rules don't always apply.

And who is Eric Roberts? Where does he fit in?

We got answers...but then we got more questions. And somehow, the show really has my interest.

24: Day Six, 4 - 5 p.m.
So, in the two years since we last saw him, Charles Logan has found religion. I found that kind of an intersting development in the storyline. I'd be interested to find out how Logan got to this point in his life--did he get so low that he literally had no where else to go?

Meanwhile, the wheels are turning super slow. Logan has a link to the Gredenko. And Gredenko is about two-hours away from having the bombs ready to deploy. He's got some kind of delivery system that he stole from somewhere...I'd have thought CTU would be onto that by now. It seems it wouldn't take long for them to put together that bad guys has bombs plus delivery system stolen might be connected. In a way, it reminded me a lot of season four when the villain launched missiles late in the day and a lot of time was spent wondering if they'd be intercepted. Are we headed for a repeat here?

I can see how it would be possible since this is a season of greatest hits....

Back at CTU, it almost feels like we're trying to manufacture some interest in these people. Something has been off with Chloe all year and it seems the only person I care about is Morris. (Well, I care about Nadia..but that's all from the she's pleasing on the eyes category). Morris is conflicted and having a lot of problems..of course having your ex-wife burst in on you in a private moment like that would be reason enough I expect. I did find it a bit of a stretch that we'd have Morris's former sponsor on--seems like they were trying to find a way to work in the voice of Bart Simpson to the show. (That's who it was on the other end of the phone in case you were wondering).

And back at the presidential bunker, no one gets suspicious that the Biscuit is missing.

OK, I've got to ask--why did Chad Lowe's character set off the bomb before the broadcast went live? Did he not know it was a rehearsal? I got the impression the conspriators wanted to set the bomb off on live TV to shift blame to Aziz. But from the impression I got, it was only the dress rehearsal and not the actual broadcast. And why start off right away at the start of the broadcast? Wouldn't you give the TV broadcast time to get going, so that everyone would know who was getting blown up? It seems to me that the situation was forced forward to give us a cliffhanger. Or am I missing something?

And then there's Jack....with his weird hands on the face of Marilyn. That just gets weirder every time I see it. Again, the timeline of their backstory doesn't make much sense....

Anyway, it seems like maybe the gears are finally starting to move. Maybe we're on the upturn. I certainly hope so.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/28/2007 01:52:00 PM | |

A good day
Any day with a UT victory over Florida is a good day.

Pat Summit's paying back Bruce Pearl for his support of the Lady Vols was classic.

Better yet--the Vols took care of business and assured an invitation to the Big Dance. Now, we play for seeding....

Oh and a first-round bye at the SEC tourney is still in our future. Go South Carolina and beat the Commodores!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/28/2007 09:02:00 AM | |
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Which is the lesser of two evils?
Dick Vitale will be in Knoxville this evening as the color analyst for the UT vs Florida basketball game.

I could mute the ESPN commentary and turn on the Vol Radio Network coverage of the game. But that means I'd have to listen to Bob Kesling, who, well, let's just say covering basketball games is not his strong suit.

So, which is the lesser of these two evils? I am honestly not sure....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/27/2007 10:33:00 AM | |

Five years ago...
Five years ago today, my family changed forever.

I was sitting at my desk at work when I got a call from my sister.

"The baby is on the way," she said, calmly. She and my brother-in-law were headed home to grab all the baby-stuff and then heading over to Knoxville. They were adopting a baby girl and the birth-mother had gone into labor.

I recall my sister saying, "We're going to have a baby," with a tinge of excitment and joy in her voice.

She told me they'd call me with updates and when they got closer. And that they wanted me to come and keep them company in the waiting area of the hospital. I was honored and said I'd see them in a few hours. I also asked for calls to update me on the progress of things.

I got a call an hour or so later. Things were taking a bit longer than expected, so I didn't have to hurry. Go home, eat dinner, swim some laps and then meet them at the hospital. It could be some time before my niece arrived.

I swam but honestly, my heart wasn't in it. I kept wondering if I was missing something important...what if my neice came right then, in the middle of a lap and I missed the call?

I did have to go home and grab the digital camera. An uncle has to be prepared, right?

Luckily that didn't happen. I arrived at the hospital to find a waiting room full of family and friends. We sat together, passing the time, talking and catching up, listening as if we could somehow hear the baby's first cries. After a few hours, a nurse came down and took my sister and brother-in-law up to a room. The baby had arrived, everything was fine and they wanted to give them some time to meet her. They were escorted away and we were all left to wait. It was late, but I don't think sleep was on anyone's mind.

After about an hour, the nurse came down again and said they were ready for the family to come up and see the baby. I took a deep breath (I am not a fan of hospitals, but surprisingly this visit wasn't bugging me....) and we went up to a room. The door opened and I walked in...and saw my sister holding a baby.

I took a mental picture of that moment. There was my sister, my baby sister, holding a baby. You could see the instant bonding of mother and child happening and I thought, "Wow, my baby sister has a baby..." I looked over at my brother in law and saw the same sense of wonder, awe and instant love as he looked at this tiny person who would radically and forever change their lives...and the live of our entire family.

I stayed about an hour with them. I took tons of pictures of my neice's first hours of life. I wanted to hold her but I didn't want to intrude on my sister and brother-in-law's first few hours with G. After a while, the adrenaline wore off and I felt sleepiness settling in. I excused myself, went home and crashed...

The next day, I woke up at my regular time (stupid internal alarm clock!). I went into work for a half-day, most of it spent uploading pictures of my neice to my Yahoo! photos account to send to family and friends. I went back that afternoon to see everyone and got to hold my neice for the first time . She was so quiet and so tiny...but the second I held her, it was too late. I was wrapped around her little finger...I'd do literally anything for her.

That was five years ago. I can't believe that G is turning five years old today. It seems like just yesterday, I was meeting her for the first time and I've turned around twice and now she's five. I blink twice and she'll be driving if I'm not careful.

So, happy birthday to my neice, G. Thank you for making me an uncle (again...I am Uncle Michael to my best friend's children...which is an absolute honor).

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/27/2007 09:43:00 AM | |
Monday, February 26, 2007
Movie Thoughts: Ghost Rider
So, I saw Ghost Rider this weekend.

All I have to say is that if this was a "dream" role for Nicholas Cage, it sure didn't showin his acting. He seemed pretty bored and wooden during the entire film. I wonder if part of that was some bitterness in knowing that everyone was going to show up for the film not to see him, but to see his head explode into a flaming skull.

Or maybe it was the director of the film that was the issue since everyone's acting was pretty wooden. (The exception is Sam Elliot).

Now, I never read Ghost Rider comics growing up or at any point in my life. So, my knowledge of the character was limited. I don't know if the movie version was faithful to the spirit of the comic books.

The movie has some potential to be entertaining. As a young-boy, Johnny Blaze sells his soul to the devil (played by Peter Fonda, who looks as if he just showed up to collect the paycheck) to save his father from cancer. But oh that wacky devil, he gets Johnny real good...dad is cured but dies the next night performing a daredevil, motorcycle stunt. So, Johnny sets out on the road becuase he's cursed, leaving behind the love of his (young) life.

Years later, Johnny is a motorcycle stunt guy with little fear and the apparent inability to die. His stunts catch the attention of the media, but he refuses to talk to them until the former girlfriend shows up and is a reporter. The two re-connect and Johnny performs a few reckless stunts to get her to agree to have dinner....

Alas, the devil shows back up and demands payment. Seems once upon a time, the devil had this entire town sign a pact to give up their souls and the original Ghost Rider took it from him. It's hidden but the devil's son is tracking it down and if he gets it--well, I'm not sure here but all I can tell you is it will be really bad news. So, Johnny is now the rider and must do the devil's bidding. His face erupts into flames and he gets a super-cool motorcycle, all the while standing up his date. (And the scene makes no sense since we find out Johnny was already late to start with...did he just know there'd be head exploding into a flaming skull coming and run late becuase of that).

Anyway, at this point an epic conflict begins and we see lots of cool CGI of Ghost Rider crusing around and battling with the forces of evil.

In all of this there are glimpses of a what could have been a good film. But it's really undermined by the poor acting and a script that fails to connect the events well. Early in the film, Johnny finds out dad is dying of cancer and shows no emotional response to this. He just heads out to work on his bikes and seems totally unaffected by it. There is little chemistry between Cage and Eva Mendez as the love interest, which ruins that part. There's no sense of urgency to the task Ghost Rider has as well.

That said, the CGI looks really nice and a few of the sequences of Ghost Rider riding around and doing battle are nice. But they don't come until almost an hour into the film and most of the good stuff you've seen in the previews. The twist in the story is also fairly obvious and one I guessed long before the big reveal.

I'd have to say if you've not seen Ghost Rider, it's definitely one to wait on for the DVD release.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/26/2007 09:44:00 AM | |
Saturday, February 24, 2007
TV Round-Up Podcast Episode Six
Did you ever think we'd make it to six episodes of the TV Round-Up?

Here is the latest, greatest episode of the podcast featuring yours truly and Jennifer Smith. Included is discussion of last week's Lost, Gilmore Girls, The Office, Veronica Mars, 24 and much, much more.

And this week we introduce a new feature for the show: The Kim Bauer Cougar Award. You'll have to listen to find out more. (That is what we call in the podcast business a tease, my friends...)

So, give us a listen and please let us know what you think!

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/24/2007 10:22:00 AM | |
Thursday, February 22, 2007
TV Round-Up: Lost
Stranger in a Strange Land
After last week's apparent return to form episode, I was really looking forward to this week's installment of Lost.....only to come away pretty much disappointed with the whole exercise.

I like Jack's character. I've enjoyed watching his development and backstory from the beginning. But did we really need an entire episode to deal with what we already know about him--Jack is a "great man" who will often shun that responsibility and the burdens of leadership and greatness the world thurts upon him. Whether or not that stems from some issue of wanting to somehow get his father's approval and never getting it, I'm not exactly sure. But the flashbacks here and the episode itself didn't cover much, if any new ground or give us any new insights into Jack. If anything, it felt like they were trying to have a cool reason to have Bai Ling guest star on the show, what with her being in all those deleted scenes from the last Star Wars movie.

And we got more of the Sawyer/Kate drama, which is rapidly starting to test my patience. And this is me, the great Kate fan talking here. So, they go back to our island and Sawyer decides that his night with Kate was "oh you're going to die" pity sex. Which maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. Or maybe it's just Kate isn't happy with what she has but wants what she can't have. Or maybe this whole love triangle is just being forced on us when there are lots of other interesting plotlines this show could and should be following. For example, we've seen next to nothing of the other members of the castaways for what seems like ages. Which must be great for the actors playing them since you get paid, get to live in Hawaii and have to do virtually no work while the Big Three (as I'm calling them now) get the lion's share of the show time.

I like the Big Three--I've said it before and I'll keep defending them. But it's getting harder and harder to do when they're becoming the show's only focus and neglecting the plethora of other interesting characters that I also signed up to see.

So, I was frustrated with the episode. Because while we got some answers, did we really learn anything important?

I guess we did. We found out what Jack's tatoos say (yeah, I was losing sleep on that one) and we learned where they came from. We found out the island that we've been holding everyone captive on isn't really the Other's home. Which that one is a real head-scratcher and a half. What is the purpose of this island and why did everyone wander over to it?

That said, I did like how Jack tried to play everyone. He tries to fool everyone into thinking he lied about Juliet's overtures to kill Ben to save her life. I'm wondering how much of the apparent romantic interest Jack is showing is real and how much of it is some game he's playing for some reason. Certainly, she falls into his pattern of needing someone to save by loving them. In this case, he bargains for her life and saves it, though he's told by Henry she's one of them and will never be what Jack wants or hopes she can be. Interesting, but we've seen that Jack rarely listens when others give him romantic advice. So, why start now?

I'm still curious as to where in Jack's timeline the flashback fell. Was it post the break-up of his marraige to Julie Bowen? I need to check the DVDs and see if Jack has the tatoo in those flashbacks or not because I honestly don't recall right now. (Or I could Google it, I suppose...I bet there is someone out there who knows).

I also found it interesting that the stewardess showed back up and we saw those who had been taken by the Others. But we're still not sure as to why. I also liked Jack's talking to Tom, asking him how they should react to the Others who come in, kidnap children and cause the death of others in their group. That was a nice scene.

But these things were isolated bits and pieces in what was, overall, a pretty frustrating episode. It promised answers and certainly it gave them. But it seems like the producers are dancing around getting back to the main group for some reason and I'm not sure what that is. I'd love to think we'll get back there next week, but for all I know we'll get a Sawyer flashback....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/22/2007 06:18:00 PM | |

Spring practice starts today
UT beats Bama last night in overtime and today, spring football practice starts for the Vols.

Of course, there's part of me that goes--spring practice in February?!?

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/22/2007 11:49:00 AM | |
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tennessee wins!
Any day Tennessee beats Alabama in anything, it's a great day. And to do it in overtime was equally impressive.

Huge win for the Vols tonight that keeps our NCAA Tourney hopes alive!

In a related note--I took great delight in hearing that after upsetting the (then) number one team in the nation, Vanderbilt went on the road and choked.

Great day....great, great day.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/21/2007 09:20:00 PM | |

I wish I'd invested in Mylanta stock...
You know they've got to be downing Mylanta and Pepto-Bismol by the Sam's size container over there at Baptist Sports Park today.

New sordid details of Adam "Pacman" Jones' latest run in with the law have surfaced. It appears that while Jones' lawyer claims he had nothing to do with the incident in Vegas over the weekend, there are reports to the contrary by the co-owner of the strip club Jones was in at the time of the incident.

Great way to spend the first week on the job for the new Titans G.M.

I know that in the past, Pacman's never been convicted of any of the charges levelled against him. But this pattern of behavoir is getting to be disturbing...it can't be that trouble just happens to keep finding him. I was gaining some measure of respect for him as his work on the field was making noticeable gains and there were no negative off-the-field stories.

Until this. And reading the report, things don't look good for Jones.

I hate to say it, but I'm back on the bandwagon of "it's time to tell Pacman 'game over' with the Titans."

It's time for him to go before the next news story is worse...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/21/2007 03:08:00 PM | |

Things I'm sick of hearing about...
  • Ms. Spear's new hairstyle
  • Vandy vs Florida from Saturday. I was tired of hearing about the whole Kevin Stallings vs Joaquim Noah thing five minutes after it happened, but yet the sports shows around here won't let it die.
  • Barry Bonds reports to camp. Seriously has there been a bigger non-event ever?!? And seeing Barry sit around and pontificate leads SportsCenter over Michigan State beating Wisconsin?!? One of those is real sports news, the other is...well, a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
  • Vandy beats Florida. You beat the Gators and I've got to admit I'm torn between my hatred of Florida and my complete lack of respect for anything Vanderbilt related. That said, I'm weary of all the Vandy fans who are ready to run down UT for losing to South Carolina on Saturday as y'all beat the Gators. How quickly we forget that not seven days before, the Orange and White wiped the floor of Thompson-Boling arena with you guys....oh yeah, we forgot that part, didn't we?
  • Will Meredith live or die on Grey's Anatomy?!? I don't even watch the show and it seems that everywhere I go, that's all I hear about. There are other great shows on, people. For example, Friday Night Lights.

I think that covers it, for now. I feel much better.

Wow, this thing is cheaper than therapy....



posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/21/2007 11:22:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
Heroes: Unexpected
Well, I guess that's the last we'll see of Christopher Eccleston for a while. A shame really because I was really enjoying his time on the show.

Another week of Heroes where we operate under the less is more theory. Fewer storylines with more development for them is a good thing.

I am guessing that Hiro and Claire are the "stars" of the show since we never have a week that doesn't include their storyline. This week, Claire's adopted mother is having complications from the constant brain wipes and Claire is not happy. So much so that her anger boils over to HRG, in public. At this point, he has to know that the Haitaiin left her memory alone and I am curious to see how that little conversation will play out.

Of course, first they have to survive being held hostage by Nuke Man, Internet Girl and Matt Parkman. Parkman's storyline has interesting the past few weeks. As his wife points out, for a guy who can read minds, he sure doesn't read his own very well. One interesting aspect of this is how easily Matt can convince himself to bend or break the rules--stealing the diamonds, going after HRG and his family, etc. He is easily swayed by the moment and I have to wonder if he'll have second doubts about the path he's on here--esp. the whole going along with Nuke Man and Internet Girl. But I think we'll see more on that next week.

Meanwhile, Peter is betrayed--by Issac. I felt sure when I heard about this it would be Nathan somehow betraying him. Issac lets HRG know how to find Peter and that Claude is still alive. This leads to Claude leaving Peter and fleeing back into hiding, before Peter feels he'd done learning to use his abilities. Well, at least until his back's against the wall or he's angry and then he can go all out with the powers-use. I thought for a bit that Peter was going to kill Issac for his betrayal, but looking back, there were a whole lot of signs pointing to Simone being the one killed off. After all, she had told Nathan she was thinking of going public about their powers...at this point they should have started fitting her for a red-shirt.

And while I liked the confrontation between Peter and Issac, I felt that the way they killed Simone (or at least seriously wounded her) stunk of a contrivance. Oh, HRG gives Issac a gun early on and it comes into the killing of Simone later. Yeah, didn't really see that huge twist coming.

All that and we even got a Stan Lee cameo.

Veronica Mars: Mars, Bars
With only a week left until we find out who killed Dean O'Dell and I've got no idea who the culprit is. All that and another solid episode of the show. And a big death! Read more of my thoughts on it here.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/21/2007 09:52:00 AM | |
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
TV Round-Up: 24
Day Six: 3 - 4 p.m.
You know, there are just times when things don't make a whole heck of a lot of sense on this show. Usually I can forgive these because in terms of the amount of time that has passed in the character's lives it's only been a few minutes.

But then you get into glaring things like we've had the past few weeks and these things start to add up.

So, who is the mastermind behind all these plots and the plot from last season? It seems as if this changes from hour to hour. It was Graem, now it's Phillip Bauer and next week it could, possibly be Logan. I think the writers are working too hard to have this all tie together and to make it have some personal connection to Jack.

And if Phillip Bauer is so hell-bent on not having anyone find out his connection to the day's events and cleaning up his own mess--to the point he kills one son, has another marked for death and kidnaps his own grandson--why does he let Jack live and run off at the end? Of course, we all knew that Jack couldn't die (since Milo is in no way prepared to be the bad-ass field agent that Jack is), but couldn't there have been a less cliched way out of this. Jack offered it to Phillip with the promise of immunity. And you can't tell me Jack couldn't pick up the phone, call in a few favors from President Palmer and make that happen. Hell, the guy just issued a blanket pardon to the known head of a terrorist cell. It seems that he could be pursuaded to help out Jack. And again, Jack has sacrified a lot to help the Palmer family and this country.

So now we've brought Logan back into the mix. And let me thank anyone who writes up a commentary on the episode each week and includes info from the promo about it. Way to ruin that little twist for me, though it wasn't that huge a shock to begin with. Hopefully Logan coming into things will do something because so far, this season is really spinning the wheels.

And Logan's being not in prison brings up some interesting questions, some of which I hope we'll get answers to next week.

Meanwhile, I have to ask--how creepy weird was it when Jack was helping Marilyn get into the bullet-proof vest? And all those weird moments where he'd touch her face and such. Will there be a smackdown for Jack when Audrey inevitably returns later this year? And have we all forgotten about Teri Bauer, Jack's wife who was killed to end day one?

I will admit I almost lost it when Jack proclaimed Milo's wound "not that severe." Was it just me or did anyone else hear "It's only a flesh wound" run through their mind? That Milo--he takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I guess there must be something in the water at CTU that makes guys act all macho. I'm thinking if I was shot in the arm or tortured with a drill, I might take a few hours off or at least some painkillers. But not Morris and Milo who are stiched up and back to work in under ten minutes. Damn, those doctors at CTU are good.

Of course, Morris is having some other issues and could fall off the wagon. I actually found this plot a bit more reasonable than I thought I would, though how it is every person at CTU has some sort of personal drama like this can be a bit of a stretch. Is there not one relatively well-adjusted person who works there?

And over in Washington, Tom Lennox has a change of heart, which leads to a butt-kicking by Chad Loew. First of all, how stupid was Lennox to not let Chad Lowe get out of earshot or to check and be sure he was gone before making the call? Second of all, will the Secret Service guy not think something's up or does Tom makes these kinds of calls all the time so it's nothing new from the wacky guy who works for the president? Finally, I have to wonder just how they're going to smuggle in a bomb to the Presidential bunker....but then again this is 24.

On a side-note: So, Marilyn didn't stay long in the stairwell, hugging her son did she. Because she might have seen Phillip Bauer running by and stopped him. Or maybe it wasn't really Phillip Bauer that James Cromwell was playing but actually Zephram Cochrane and he beamed away from the roof-top.

Oh and who carries an extra PDA around to leave for people on a rooftop like that? Or was that Jack's that he took and then left. Maybe I missed that because I was trying too hard to figure out who was up to what and why this week.

But at least Logan's back. This could kick-start things.

Man, it seems like I say that every week...if I predict it enough, eventually it has to come true. Doesn't it?

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/20/2007 09:49:00 AM | |
Monday, February 19, 2007
TV Round-Up
Lost: Flashes Before Your Eyes
Best episode Lost has done all year, hands down.

From last year's season finale, we knew how Desmond ended up on the island. But with this week's flashback, we see a bit of what drove him to the boat race that put him on the island. I've said it before and I'll say it again--everyone on this show has issues with fathers. If it's not your own father, it's someone's father who is significant in your life. Here we see Desmond has issues with Penny's father, who deems him unworthy of his daughter. The scene between the two where the father drank a swallow of scotch and told Desmond it was worth more than he could make in a month was, on the one hand, predictable, but still very telling.

It was also interesting to see Desmond given a second chance and try to change history. When the woman in the jewelry store told him he was stuck and couldn't make any changes, the show kicked it up to a whole new level. I think this could set up an interesting dynamic within the castaways as the story progresses. Clearly we have some people on the island who don't want to leave such as Locke, Rose, Kate, etc. But there is also a group who have a powerful reason to want to leave the island--especially Desmond. But it does seem as if the island has some hold on him and won't let him go. And it's interesting that Desmond sees himself as trying to avert fate, but that his actions only postpone it.

And how great a twist was the "I am not saving Claire, I'm saving Charlie" part of the story? I loved it. It just knocked my socks off, especially when you recall that Charlie showed up in Desmond's flashback. So, has Desmond been saving Charlie since that point? And how much longer can he continue to save him? And why is Charlie doomed?

It even goes back to season one when Charlie was kidnapped and found hanging in the woods by Jack and Kate.

And this episode was just packed full of Easter Eggs. I'm sure I missed a ton of them, but that's why we have the Internet. But even if I weren't picking up on those clues to the overall pictures, this episode was still a strong, solid, entertaining entry. It's just too bad the audience has eroded so...I think a lot of people missed a really good episode.

Battlestar Galactica: A Day in the Life

A day in the life episode of the fleet that I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. I've posted more on it over here.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/19/2007 01:21:00 PM | |
Sunday, February 18, 2007
"Amok Time" Edits
This week's classic Trek episode to get the remastering treatment is my personal favorite Trek episode, "Amok Time." Because of that, I was pretty aware of the trims made to the episode, a few of which are substantial. So, here they are (proving once again I desparately need to get out more):
  • An establishing shot of Kirk in his quarters, lying on his bed and contemplating the situation.
  • After Kirk orders Spock to report to sickbay, we see him walk down the hall, report there and try to leave. McCoy starts to perform test and we see Spock's fist twitching.
  • A line or two when Kirk confronts Spock about what's going on and they discuss the pon-farr.
  • Chekov and Sulu discussing the many course changes. This scene ends with Sulu advising Chekov to plot a course to Vulcan. This exchange is referred to later when Kirk decides to violate orders and go to Vulcan.
  • Spock is contacted via the communications system and smashes the monitor in his quarters.
  • Chapel goes to Spock and reports they are bound for Vulcan. Spock tells her of a dream he had and asks her to make some more soup.
  • On Vulcan, Spock begs T'Pau to let someone else be selected for the challenge and not Kirk. T'Pau asks him "art thou Vulcan or art thou human?" A huge cut and one of the bigger scenes in the episode. It was BADLY edited with lines cutting of mid-sentence.
  • When we come back from the commerical break to act four (having just learned this is a fight to the death), McCoy protests that Kirk and Spock are friends and should not be have to fight to the death.
So, there are (once again) some pretty huge cuts done to this week's episode. I will give them credit--I loved the establishing shots of Vulcan that were done here as the landing party beams down and heads toward the arena.

But I still wish we could find a way to run these a little less edited so that fans who haven't seen them in years or are seeing them for the first time can get the whole experience.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/18/2007 09:08:00 PM | |
Saturday, February 17, 2007

I swear, Bob Kessling's call of UT games gets worse with each passing game. While listening to him call the UT vs South Carolina basketball game, Kessling couldn't do the simple math to indicate South Carolina was ahead by two points.

I know it's heated and basketball is a fast moving game, Bob, but come on! You need to get with the program and show you can do simple things like math.

I mean, it's not like you're making calls for the Crimson Tide Radio Network....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/17/2007 03:33:00 PM | |
Thursday, February 15, 2007
TV Round-Up
Battlestar Galactica: The Woman King
I've posted thoughts here about this week's Battlestar episode.

Veronica Mars: Postgame Mortem
Best episode since the hiatus. More thoughts at the Television Reviews Blog.

Heroes: Run
I think the producers are finally getting the idea that the audience is along for the ride and they don't have to throw everything and the kitchen sink into these episodes to keep our interest. The last two weeks have been a lot better because the storytelling focus has narrowed a bit. Maybe part of it is that we finally have all the characters in play and now their storylines are crossing more. Whatever the explanation, I'm happy to see that Heroes is becoming better, though it's still not close to delivering as consistently on its promise as I'd like.

Any time you can take the plotline that until now I found a distraction and rather useless to the show and make it actually relevant and interesting, you've done something. I refer to the Jessica storyline, which crosses the Matt Parkman storyline in an interesting way. Matt's hired on to be security. He gets paid more if he carries his gun. His first assignment is protecting a guy who is apparently up to no good and has crossed the mysterious, never-seen but often alluded to Linderman. Linderman is so annoyed that he's sending Jessica to take out the guy--and Matt is in the way.

And suddenly, this plotline is interesting. Watching Niki plead with Jessica in the reflective surface of mirrored floor sign was great. As I watched the episode, I was interested that Matt could both Niki and Jessica talking. I am guessing not everyone can and does hear this (the show has given us no indication of this up to this point), so Parkman's ability is an interesting one.

Meanwhile, the show takes another character who I'd lost interest in and makes him interesting as well--namely, Mohinder. Mohinder has the list and is trying to make contact with the various heroes on it. He gets a call back from one and heads out to meet him. This guy's power is making things melt into blobby puddles of goo...how this is exactly useful, I'm not exactly sure. Thing is we don't meet the guy long enough to find out. The one strain of credibility in this plotline comes when Sylar somehow magically gets there before Mohinder, pretends to be him and kills the guy. Sylar now has the power and passes himself off as melty things guy to Mohinder. All the while, the dead body is out in the kitchen. Luckily Mohinder never wanders out there so it leaves the door open for Sylar to join the crusade and have access to the list. Now, that's a potentially very interesting plot development. Especially if Mohinder figures out that Sylar forced Eden to kill herself.

Elsewhere, Claire wants to see her birth father and find out her birth mother is on the run. Is it because of her powers? We're not really sure. This plotline didn't exactly thrill me, but I did find the twist of there are consequences to the Haitaiin wiping your mind to be a nice one. It also continues to reinforce to us the growing rift between Claire and Mr. Bennett, as he slowly takes away all the things in her life she values.

Want to know the ironic thing about this week's episode? The one plotline I usually love is the one I cared about the least. I'm finding the Hiro's storyline is going no where fast. I'm not sure exactly why we went down this sidepath, except maybe to give Ando something to do besides be the sidekick. But I feel as if this storyline is spinning its wheels a bit this week. We need to move somewhere closer to the sword and restoring Hiro's powers soon or else this plotline could easily derail.

So, an enjoyable Heroes and no Christopher Ecceleston, which should have annoyed me more than it did. But when you've got at least two other interesting plots unfolding, I can see why you'd sideline the Claude/Peter plotline for a week. Which it should be back next week, though I don't know since I've been avoiding the previews for Heroes like the plague. Better to not know what's happening in the last three minutes before the episode starts.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/15/2007 10:33:00 AM | |

Some competition might be a good thing
I've posted before about how I find it ironic when you call Comcast's customer service line for assistance, they pick-up with "Thank you for choosing Comcast."

Yeah, becuase if I want cable TV in Nashville, I've really got a choice...

(Seriously, I have no interest in satellite TV, at all...unless it's during the fall when they're talking about the NFL Sunday package...and even then I always manage to talk myself out of it).

For a while now, Comcast has had a monopoly on being the only cable service provider in Nashville. And for a while now, I've lamented that there was no competition for them. My hope is that if there were ever a serious competitor in the market, Comcast might stop resting on their laurels and actually offer something resembling customer service and value for the huge price we spend on cable (though they know they've got me since without cable, I don't get ESPN and would miss a ton of UT games).

But now it looks like competition could be on the horizon. I've been interested to see that AT&T is seriously considering giving Comcast and other cable companies in Tennessee a run for their money. I say bring it on. A little competition is always a good thing. I hope the state legislature passes the bill that will allow this to happen. It's a potentially winning proposition for the many cable customers in and around middle Tennessee (and the rest of the state as well).

Of course, having posted this, Comcast is probably going to google their name, find this post and cut off my cable right as Battlestar Galactica starts up Sunday night....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/15/2007 08:37:00 AM | |
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE RELOADED

The writer of the classic Star Trek episode, "The Doomsday Machine" talks about writing the episode. Apparently this is produced by Spinrad himself.



posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/14/2007 03:37:00 PM | |

The Day of Love
Valentine's Day has arrived once again and I, for one, must say I'm glad it's finally here. And it's not because I'll be celebrating the day tonight with a particular special someone, but becuase all of the Valentine's Day ads on television and the radio will end today.

Before you go and call me bitter because I've only celebrated one Valentine's Day with a significant other in my 34 year of existence on earth, let me say that I don't mind a day that is all about showing the people you love that you care about them. Personally, I think this should be something you're doing every day, not just on Valentine's Day, but that's a rant for another time.
What I dislike about the marketing of Valentine's Day pretty much goes back to what I disliked about the marketing of Christmas--namely that if you love someone, you'd better get out there and spend a ton of cash on them finding the perfect present. OK, so maybe part of it is a bit of jealousy over those who can afford to drop a few hundred or a cool grand on their significant other. But to me, all these jewelry store ads seem to place the price of the gift over the actual thought behind it.

I swear, every time I hear that stupid Kay Jewelers commercial about how every "kiss begins with Kay," I think, "Yeah, something else rhymes with Kay too..." It reminds me of this segment on Family Guy a few years ago where the tag line is "Diamonds....she'll pretty much have to."

As a single person, I don't begrudge those who are in happy, stable relationships the joy of celebrating it on this day. And I certainly gave into the marketing, buying cards for my family and sending them. I am not sure my niece and nephew really understand the concept of Valentine's Day beyond the fact that they probably get heart-shaped cookies at school and exchange Valentine's with their classmates. (My nephew has Superman, my neice has Disney princess ones...they're cute). I'm pretty sure my nephew appreciated more my coming over to see them Saturday and helping him find his etch-a-sketch more than the card. Or my neice appreciated more me showing her how to talk under water at the pool a few weeks ago. But, still, they got cards. I figure when you're young you should learn the mail can be fun, not just a box full of envelopes with little windows that require a check sent back in return.

One thing I've found interesting this year is how the marketing of the big day of romance is evolving. I read countless stories about anti-Valentine's Day cards that you could send. Interesting idea, from a marketing standpoint. Also, I read an article in the Washington Post yesterday where retailers were encouraging singles to feel better about the day by splurging on themselves.

But I have to ask--if you're a single person, do you really need an excuse to indulge or splurge on yourself?

Also, as I read the article and think about it, it makes me wonder. I've worked with ministries for single adults and one obstacle we face in getting them off the ground is getting singles out of their comfort zone. Not to be rude, be we single folks can be very myopic. We get very concerned all about ourselves and sometimes it can be hard to break out of our patterns of selfishness. So, I wonder if this whole idea of "splurge on yourself" isn't reinforcing that pattern of behavoir in singles.

Of course, all of this comes down to one thing: money. Retailers want you and I to get out there and spend some money--whether it's on ourselves or that special someone. I went in Wal-Mart the other day and was assualted by flowers, candy, cookies, stuffed animals and other ways to celebrate the day pulled to the front of the store. (All of this will be on clearance starting at midnight tonight, I'm sure) And it's not just Wal-Mart--it's probably most retailers around.

And I can see why you'd be bitter about it, if you buy into that. Oh, I'm not getting a great gift this year from someone. I'm not going out to eat. I'm not getting roses at work.

But I am not going to let it get me down. I'm not going to become bitter and jaded. I am glad for my friends, family and those around me who have found someone special to enjoy the day with. I hope that you make every day like Valentine's Day for those special people in your life. Make sure they know they're loved and apprecaited every day. And if you're like me and single, don't feel pressured to go out and spend money, hoping it will make you feel better.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/14/2007 09:27:00 AM | |
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Woo-hoo!
There's just something great about beating both Vandy and Kentucky in basketball.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/13/2007 08:25:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: 24
Day Six: 1 - 3 p.m.
That Bauer family sure is a dysfunctional one. Papa Bauer blames Jack for the death of Graem (which Papa Bauer caused, by the way) then kidnaps his grandson to keep Graem's wife from leading Jack to the Russian general who could implicate Papa Bauer in the conspiracy here on day six. Meanwhile, Graem's wife reveals she's been trying to leave him for years and asks Jack, "So did you join the army because you were distraut over me?" and is shot down hard by Jack. I had to wonder if she hadn't been holding out some secret hope that Jack still loved her all these years and here Jack just takes the golf cleats to her heart on that one. That was pretty brutal, you have to admit (but it's close to Valentine's Day so I guess that's as close as we'll get to a sweet, romantic moment for the show...well, unless Audrey shows up at some point).

Man, Jack sure knows how to pile on himself. Bill Buchanan gives him an a way out of blame for the death of his brother and Jack chooses to not take it. Instead, he'll take a heaping plate of guilt with a side of self-doubt and blame, thank you.

All this and he almost gets blown up (by a bomb his dad planted, no less!) and he has to disarm a suitcase nuke.

Which the use of said nuke brings up some questions. Fayed apparently worked pretty hard to get these nukes and they're part of some greater overall plan. So if that's true, he seems pretty careless about them. I can see that he needs to escape with the device Morris created in order to arm the others, but does it make a lot of sense to leave the nuke around for Jack to disarm it? Because we all knew Jack would disarm it--he is, after all, Jack Bauer.

Speaking of that, why did they make such pains to get Morris and declare him to be one of the only people who could program the device to arm the nukes only for Fayed to say, "I'll just find another programmer if you die"? Did Fayed somehow think if he kills Morris and Chloe finds out that she will hunt him down like an animal? Because I think that would have happened. We did see Chloe with a machine gun a few years ago.

The torture of Morris was pretty brutal. I won't look at a cordless drill in quite the same way again for a while. The part of the first hour of the two-hour event had me on the edge of my seat. And I wondered why Morris didn't somehow write some code in to make it appear like he'd succeeded instead of giving Fayed the device he needs to arm the nukes. Seems to me this was just a way to get Fayed out on the loose with a necessary component to arming the other three devices and possibly setting them off at "high profile" targets. What those high profile targets are, I'm not quite sure.

And is all of this some plot to push an agenda by this conspiracy of people that we've seen lurking in the shadows? And is Tom now part of it or will his loyalty to Palmer help expose what's going on? One of the interesting scenes is how we found out that Wayne was approached by Tom to run for president and that Tom ran the whole campaign. Does this mean Tom felt he couldn't win but Wayne could and wanted to install Wayne as a puppet, to follow his agenda? And what exactly is the agenda? I get the feeling that Tom is misguided a bit, but deep down he's not necessarily evil. But that may or may not be changing, depending of if he jumps in with the plot to remove Wayne by whatever means necessary.

And did Wayne learn nothing from his brother about these things?

So, we've got a far-reaching conspiracy, a terrorist who can set off some nukes and the a rogue Russian general who wants to attack America but set up the Arabs for it. And yet, as I watch I feel as though we're not going anywhere fast this year. We're spinning the wheels and the storylines seem to be treading the same ground we've seen in previous years. There were isolated parts of this story that had me interested--Morris's capture and the scenes of his torture, the double cross of McCarthy--but overall, I can't say there was a lot here that was really that thrilling or worthy of a two-hour event. Honestly, the second hour was a bit too slow moving and I wonder if the producers knew this and paired it with the more intense first hour to keep us from feeling like a week had been wasted in the unfolding drama of day six.

And I've got to say it--the logic of driving around on the off-chance we happen to find the place that the Russian general might be....that just really strained credibility.

I keep saying that something needs to happen to jump start this day. We've been in a holding pattern since the nuke went off. I'm not sure how you top that, but there has to be something to get this story rolling. There are some good elements in play here, but they need to start coming together soon or we risk a long, extended journey to Mexico like we got in season three...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/13/2007 10:28:00 AM | |
Monday, February 12, 2007
The Trek Re-Mastered Big Test
Whenver debate about updating the effects for classic Star Trek rears its ugly head, one episode in particular is a lightning rod for debate: "The Doomsday Machine."

"Doomsday" is one of the more effects-driven stories of the original series run. It features what could have been epic space battles, had the original series had the technology and budget available to most sci-fi shows produced today. But despite the limitations of the time it was produced, "The Doomsday Machine" is still one of the best epiosdes of any Star Trek show ever produced. It's one of those stories where good characters, a compelling story and some memorable incidental music all come together in a great package.

But when the project to remaster and digitally update the effects for classic Trek was announced a few months ago, every Trek fan worth their weight in tribbles circled one episode as the watershed event to judge the success or failure of the project. "The Doomday Machine."

Well, this week, the long-awaited, much-anticipated episode hits the airwaves. It aired in Nashville last night in syndication and will run again Saturday night here if you missed it. Being the Star Trek fan that I am, I have to admit that I was pretty excited to see the episode--even though I've seen it umpteen times over the years and could probably recite dialogue along with the story.

So, I tuned in and watched.

I was excited, but a bit wary. I was worried the effects might overwhelm the episode. While the story of the epic battle with a planet-killing, automated robotic machine is a great part of the episode, it's the character study and conflict that really make this episode what it is. Would that get lost in the new emphasis over the pretty pictures?

The answer is, yes and no. Visually, the story was stunning and I'm sure if the creators had the technology we do today, "Doomsday Machine" would always have looked like this. It did fix one of the colossal errors in all of classic Trek. The original version's sense of scale was off, with a shuttlecraft appearing the same size as a starship when attacking the device. Seeing the Enterprise fly close to the machine, firing phasers and slowly being dragged into the maw of the machine were great. And thankfully, the digital effects team resisted the temptation to radically redesign the classic Doomsday Machine, which was described in the original scripts as bristling with weapons. (On a side note, I'd be interested to see a rendering of it as an extra on the DVDs).

But where the episode let me down is, once again, the cuts made to it for syndication purposes. Interestingly, the episode restored some edits made in the original syndicated version (the scene where Scotty declares the Constellation's engine room is dropped in the original syndicated version as was the return from commercial break in act two in which Spock analyzes the Doomsday Machine and reports on it to Kirk) and made some new ones. If you listen to the instrumental music, you can hear when the cuts are made. Here are some of the cuts I noticed:
  • McCoy and Decker beaming aboard the Enterprise and hearing the ship is on red alert.
  • Kirk ordering Spock to take command on his (Kirk's) personal authority as captain of the Enterprise. The sequence is a lot longer than shown here, where it's like a Cliff's Notes version. They cut out the line "Vulcans never bluff". Of all the edits, this is the most distressing since it's one of the classic scenes from the episode.
  • Decker's fight with the security guard is substantially trimmed. Makes the security officer look even more glass-jawed than usual. Again, this is really obvious if you listen to the background music.
  • Decker climbs down a ladder and heads toward the shuttlebay (this was cut from the original syndicated episode...so it's not technically a new edit).
The most substantial cut is the Spock taking back command on Kirk's "personal authority." It robs the episode of one of the classic moments of the show. I realize that a lot of Trek fans will know this scene and could recite it for you verbatim, but the thing that bugs me is we may be getting new fans to the show because of the remastered effects. To cut out this scene eliminates some of what made this episode great and so popular among the fans for the forty-years it's been running in syndication. Also, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the edited form, since it now appears Decker gives up command of the ship too easily, esp. after he's been so obsesssed with keeping it up until now.

Of course, part of this is that I'm an obsessive Trek fan and I prefer my Star Trek uncut. I realize that it's all part of the business and cuts must be made today for commerical broadcast. But it still doesn't mean I have to like them.

So, Trek has passed the big test for "The Doomday Machine" with flying colors. But it gets some points deducted for the edits made to this classic story so we could all see it again in syndication.

Interestingly, there was another proposal a few years ago to update this episode's effects. It even got as far as a test-reel that was submitted to Paramount but ultimately rejected. I've heard those creators have finished their work and will post their version of this episode on-line this week. I will have to do some looking around and compare the two.

And, yes, I do need a life.....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/12/2007 04:46:00 AM | |
Saturday, February 10, 2007

Watching the Vols just beat-down Vanderbilt this afternoon was a pleasure. A complete, dominant effort by the might Vols. I loved every last second of it.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/10/2007 02:02:00 PM | |
Friday, February 09, 2007
Movie: Children of Men
I saw Children of Men last night. Haven't read the book yet, but it's on my list to be read.

The movie was stunning. If you've not seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to watch it. It's amazing, but I will warn you--it's not a feel good movie. It's also rated R for a reason. (Definitely not for the kiddies).

One of the bleakest pictures of a future distopia since Blade Runner.

How it didn't get nominated for a ton of Oscars is beyond me...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/09/2007 02:15:00 PM | |

Cowboys finally get a new coach
As a Redskins fan, I couldn't have enjoyed more the Cowboys search for a coach. Absolute comedy gold. I loved watching the so-called "America's team" fumble and make complete laughing stocks of themselves with how this search was conducted.

Ya know, I think deep down Jerry Jones secretly wanted to coach the team...he was just trying to find an excuse to do it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/09/2007 01:41:00 PM | |
Thursday, February 08, 2007
TV Round-Up: Lost
Not in Portland
After three months of waiting, Lost is finally back. Seeing this episode, I wonder if the show would have been better served to have run this as the final episode of the fall season instead of where they did. "Not in Portland" was a far more satisfying episode than the fall-season finale becuase it actually provided some answers to lingering questions as well as resolving some storylines.

We've had a lot of questions answered about the Others--we've found out how long Juliet has been on the island and how she was recruited to come to the island. It seems to tie into the Others interest in children. Juliet has come up with some kind of drug that appears to induce pregnancy--first on male mice and then on her sister. I have to wonder what illness her sister had in the flashbacks. Was it cancer? It was also interesting to see what Juliet was like before she came to the island--a lot more meek. Her interview where she gets visibly upset that her ex-husband has so much power over her was well done as was her breaking down when she had to go identify his body. Interesting that Ethan would show up to provide Kleenex at this point.

And it appears that Juliet is a prisoner on the island. Or do they just have really good contracts? Or are they holding her sister and the baby?

Another question is how did Juliet go from so meek to the woman of action and the leader we see here. What changed her in the three years on the island? Was it being around Ben? Or are we seeing Juliet slowly starting to assert herself in this run of seven episodes? (I am thinking not, since we saw her as fairly dynamic during the flashbacks to the plane crashing earlier this year).

I do have to wonder what it is about Ben that makes everyone so loyal to him. What power does he have? Does he hold something of value to each of the Others he uses against them to keep them there on the island, following his orders? The other Others seemed a bit distressed that Juliet was plotting with Jack to kill Ben. Could it be that he's the only one who can reverse whatever it is that holds the Others on the island? And is it easy to leave? Exactly how does one leave and get back to the outside world? Was Ben lying to save his own life? And are we trapped now, since it was hinted at during the surgery?

I'd forgotten that part of the Lost fun was that it just asks so many questions.

That said, I'm not sure if this arc has been the best thought-out the show has gone down. For one thing, I liked the Others as a mysterious group. I'm not sure opening them up and exploring their society and power structure has essentially been all the helpful to the overall show. Yes, we get that they are rotten, horrible people, but this whole seeing the internal petty squabblings may not help things. It reminds me of X-Files tried to humanize the Cigarette Smoking Man in the later years--something I didn't like that much. I prefer the air of mystery and speculation around the central "villian" figure for the show. Plus a huge part of this is that every fan has his or her own theory on what such and such is evil...so any time you give definitive answers, it will not mesh with what the fans have decided. And, thus, suffer as a whole.

And, at least, it appears the whole holding people prisoner plotline is over. Jack has apparently decided to stay of his own free will, even going so far as to tell Kate not to come back for him. Has he made some kind of deal with them or Juliet? Or does he hope to stay and find some way off the island for himself and the rest of the castaways? And do we really think Kate will listen to his "orders" and not come back for him?

That brings up the question of what will the rest of the castaways make of the knowledge that Sawyer and Kate bring back? With Jack still gone, Locke can use this as a further way to insert himself into the leadership role he's wanted all his life. Will Locke want to rescue Jack or will he now be consumed by the quest to go north and find the guy with the eye-patch that we saw earlier this year.

The good thing is--Lost is back. So, that means instead of idle speculation, we can look forward to the next fifteen solid weeks of episodes that may address these issues. I'm looking forward to it and I have to admit that I'm glad the trio held prisoner plotline has run its course. I'm ready to find out more about the castaways we all got to know the past two seasons and where those stories are headed. Oh yeah, and if they could tell me why Locke was in the wheelchair, I'd appreciate it.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/08/2007 08:31:00 AM | |
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
TV Round-Up: Heroes
Distractions
Once again, the NBC promo department exaggerated things on this one a bit. That whole "one shocking revelation after another" was a bit of an oversell.

That said, this was still the most solid episode of Heroes this calendar year. Interestingly, it was the one that, so far, has focused on the smallest group of characters. We only follow the storyline of a few and I think Heroes is better for it. Or maybe it's just most of the storylines they chose to follow here were actually interesting.

Well, except the Niki gets out of jail free plotline. I think my biggest issue with this is we never got to see how and why Jessica took over. With Nikki now trapped (I almost said "boxed"..how Battlestar Galatica of me), what will Jessica do? And will DL and Micah know the difference? Seems they have in the past. I still feel as though we missed something here and maybe the storyline will fill in some pieces in the next few episodes.

Meanwhile, onto the storylines I did like. Claire's finding her birth mom was decently done, though nothing huge here--at least until the big reveal of who Claire's biological father is. I figured it was either Nathan or HRG, so I wasn't taken too much by surprise here. It does put a new spin on why Nathan wanted Peter to stay aware from Claire...or does it? How much about Claire does Nathan really know?

The two plotlines I did like were Hiro's and Peter's. And a lot of the credit goes to the guest stars in each storyline.

Both George Takai and Christopher Eccleston were perfect counterpoints to Hiro and Peter. With Hiro's father, we see the stern, serious businessman who is bound by tradition, something Hiro clearly is not. But in the scenes between the two and Hiro's sister, we can see where Hiro gets his determination. Takai's character's glaring and his anger at Hiro all worked, though I found his sudden change of heart toward the sister a bit too easy. Or maybe it was wishing Takai would stick around an episode or two longer becuase you could tell he was having fun with the role. And then we get a shout-out to the show that made Takai famous--check out the license plate on his car. It's NCC 1701. That was pretty cool.

Meanwhile, Peter is finally learning how to harnass his abilities. And we find out a lot more about his power. Once exposed to another person's powers, he can emulate it. He doesn't have to be in proximity to them in order to activate the powers. But instead of cutting himself off from his family and friends as Claud suggests, Peter has to channel the feelings he had for the person and the moment when the powers were used. Even as expected as it was that Claud pushed Peter off the roof, I still liked it. And Eccleston continues to display an intensity in the role of Claud that I like. His Obi-Wan to Peter's Luke is still very evident here. And I loved Claud stealing the woman's purse, giving it to Peter and then moving out of range.

And I have to admit I even liked Sylvar breaks into the Bennet family house and chats with mom. Those scenes were chilling and surprisingly more effective than I thought they would be. It should be interesting to see where things go with Sylar back on the loose, though I do wonder why they captured him, merely to have him escape again a few episodes later. (Oh wait...this is a comic book for TV. Never mind!).

So is the show back on track? It appears to be, for now.

Though I have no idea what's coming next since I skipped the preview. Though I'm sure NBC will run it during The Office this week and ruin everything for me yet again.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/07/2007 12:38:00 PM | |
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
TV Round-Up: 24
Day Six: 12 - 1 p.m.
As I was watching the latest hour of 24 unfold last night, I kept wondering--so, did the show reach a high point too early with the nuke going off to end hour four? Because the last few weeks since the big premiere have been a whole lot of "sound and fury, signifying nothing."

I want to give the show the benefit of the doubt for the past few weeks. 24 sometimes struggles moving from one plotline or arc to the next. But it seems as if this year, we've been in the holding pattern for three week as we wait for things to develop. It's almost as if the whole thing of the evil bad guy has four other suitcase nukes has been pushed to the sidelines while we deal with the whole Bauer family drama.

Speaking of which, that family has gone a whole lot of issues, don't they?

I still am left wondering--who is the criminal mastermind of the Bauer family company of evil. It seems as if this changes week to week. I will give Papa Bauer a lot of credit--he is one heck of an actor. He convninces everyone that he's a prisoner and not an integral part of the whole terrorists get nukes plotline, only to find out he's actually the real Dr Evil of the family here. No wonder Jack doesn't speak to his family very much.

I have a feeling that all of this family drama is intended to give Kiefer Sutherland footage for his Emmy nomination tape later this year. Cause as strange and absurd as the plot twists get on this one (would CTU really let Jack interrogate his own brother?), it gives Keifer a whole lot of chance to show off his acting chops. The scene where Jack interrogates Graem was just incredibly well done as Jack runs the gamut from anger to horror to desparation to make his brother talk. That said--I have to wonder just exactly how Graem conditioned himself to stand up to the pain of being interrogated by Jack. Boy, it sure seems we've come a long way from a few hours ago when Jack was reluctant to push the suspected terrorist for information.

It's also interesting that Graem told Jack that he (Graem) was behind the whole conspiracy last year. So, will we find out that Graem set up Jack to take the slow boat to China? Or was it Daddy Bauer? And man, how pissed is Jack going to be if that comes to light?

Meanwhile, the rest of the storylines feel a bit like the greatest hits from previous season. A vice-president is not happy with how his boss is running things (which makes me wonder just how do the Palmer boys choose their v.p. candidates?), a CTU family member in peril...you get the idea. I will admit I wasn't the most savy TV viewer because it never entered my mind that Morris O'Brien would be the programmer the terrorists needed. So, that part was a pleasant surprise to me. But the question is--where will it all go? We did see Chloe wield a gun in a previous season. I'd fear for the terrorists if she had to go all Jack Bauer on them. They wouldn't stand a chance.

At least the Palmer sister plotline was kept to a bare minimum this week. That's always good news. If they wrote her out of the show now, I don't think anyone would miss her.

Also, I give the show credit--they did at least show some fallout of the nuclear blast. It wasn't a major point, but at least it was addressed.

At some point, the second arc for the day has to kick it into high gear. I think we've got all the pieces in place now, so here's hoping next week's two hours really get things moving.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/06/2007 09:51:00 AM | |
Monday, February 05, 2007
More Super Bowl thoughts
Now that Peyton Manning's won the Super Bowl and pretty much given a big-old glass of shut-up juice to his critics, you'd think that most of them would shut up.

You'd be wrong.

On the way into work on the sports call in shows I heard:
  • Peyton's MVP win was rigged.
  • Peyton didn't dive on the ball when it was fumbled near him but Rex Grossman did.
  • Peyton plays for the Colts and all UT fans who are Titans fans who pull for him are evil.
  • Peyton is responsible for global warming.
OK, so I made the last one up, but you get the idea. It's insane how some people can't just get over it and realize that Peyton and the Colts as a team had a good game. Notice I say--the Colts as a team. That was a team effort, because last time I looked Peyton can't play all the positions on the field.

I do almost kind of feel sorry for Rex Grossman with da Bears. He was so scrutinized going into the game and I can only imagine how brutal its going to be for the next few months up in the Windy City for Rex. (That said, he used to play for Florida, so on that level I can enjoy his futility...) The thing is no matter how well or poorly he played, he was going to be a focal point for discussion and debate. It just so happens that he played not so well and will be the goat for the loss (which you can, quite frankly, pin on da Bears as a whole...their vaunted defense got shredded by the Colts and couldn't get off the field...)

As for the rest, I still stand by post that the half-time show sucked.

And overall I was underwhelmed by the commercials. I'm not sure what they were on when they thought of having Robert Goulet as the office genie who comes out when you nap at work...

I did like the Blockbuster ad with the mouse though...that one was kind of amusing.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/05/2007 09:16:00 AM | |
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Colts win!
The Super Bowl is over and the right team won!

Congratulations to the Colts on their big win. And at last maybe this will shut up some of Peyton's critics--folk, he just won "the big game."

A pretty good game overall, though I think it's criminal they didn't cover the field with tarp when it was raining in Miami all day. Looks like the NFL was trying to throw a little help da Bears way, but that didn't help. And to hear Mike Ditka out saying it wouldn't hurt either team--I call bulls**t on that one Iron Mike...it helped Chicago and you know it. At least act like you don't have a bias!

All that said, how crappy was the half-time show? Who thought having Prince out there would be a good idea?

Seriously--has anyone done a good half-time show in years at the Super Bowl?

Horrible, horrible, horrible. The NFL keeps going to try and please all the people with their choice of the half-time show and ends up churning out crappy show after crappy show. Sad really. And they wonder why people tune out...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/04/2007 09:03:00 PM | |

Ready for the Super Bowl
Well, my prediction at season's start of the Redskins vs the Titans in the Super Bowl has (once again) not come to pass.

So, let me just call it early now for next year--Redskins vs Titans in Super Bowl XLII.

Right now, I've got the chicken nachos in the crock-pot, simmering away the hours until kick-off (they're good and soooo easy....). I will not be watching 17 hours of pre-game show. I feel as if I've been through eighteen weeks of pre-game show the past two weeks leading up the game. I will tune in promptly at 5 p.m. CST to see the intros and (most importantly) not miss any of the new commercials.

I will admit that this year I've got a vested interest in the game. I am actually actively pulling for a team in the game for the first time since after the 1999 season. I am hoping Peyton and the Colts pull off the big win, giving Peyton Manning a Super Bowl ring. And how could I not root for Peyton since he's such a great guy and he went to the greatest university in the known universe.

Here's hopin' Peyton and the Colts win it all!

That said, I've got my Titans sweatshirt and Redskins cap on--in solidarity to my two teams and getting ready for next year's game...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/04/2007 12:56:00 PM | |

Hey..it's snowing (again)
Light flurries are falling and a dusting of snow has accumulated on my car. Looking out the window, the roads look a bit icy.

So, at what point do all these minor snow falls add up to one good sized snow fall?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/04/2007 07:01:00 AM | |

It's finally Super Bowl Sunday
At long last, the game is finally upon us. I love football, I love the Super Bowl, but even I have to admit the unrelented hype and coverage leading up to this spectacle of spectacles has worn thin.

Of course, as soon as the winner is crowned this evening, the winning team will have Super Bowl champion caps, t-shirts, etc. I've always wondered--what happened to the t-shirts, caps, etc for the team that didn't win the big game.

Today, an article in the New York Times answers that question: The items are put under lock and key and then sent to a developing nation through a relief organization.

The article also says the NFL goes to great lenghts to ensure said items never end up on e-Bay. I wonder if that's going to be a challenge to those who like to sell those rare items....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/04/2007 05:51:00 AM | |
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Where everybody knows your name...
With my change of jobs, my schedule has undergone a bit of a change as well. One of my responsibilities requires getting up early in the morning (way before dawn is even thinking of cracking) and doing some things from home for a few hours. It's been kind of nice because it means after a few hours at the office, I can head home in the early to mid-afternoon.

But it's meant I've had to change my schedule. And after six to eight solid months of being in evening spin classes at the downtown Y, I had to change. I now take spin classes at the Smyrna Y in the evening (part of it is, honestly, I like seeing people my own age there while working out...I don't feel quite so old then...). I've got to admit that while I enjoy the spin classes no matter where I am, I do miss the instructors and the fellow participants from the downtown Y. You stuff yourself into a small room and sweat together for an hour a few times a week and a weird sort of bond forms between you. Also, there were some attractive female participants in the class, who give me another six or eight months and I'd've worked up the gumption to speak to them on a more significant level then "thanks for sharing the solution to wipe down the bike."

I'd not been to a spin class downtown since the holidays. In fact, I'd not been to the downtown Y during my "regular" time since early January. Until yesterday, when a meeting required I be downtown later than usual and I decided that instead of fighting traffic, I'd go ahead and get my work out in.

So, there I was, working out on the cross-trainer, sweating up a storm when one of my old instructors walked up giving me the evil eye.

"So what's your excuse?" he asked. "Did you give up spinning for New Years?"

I told him what had happened and he then told me that he'd missed seeing me as had some of the other instructors and classmatess. They'd asked if I was OK and were just worried that I'd disappeared. He told me that he understood schedule changes and agreed that fighting traffic back downtown for spin class was not the best idea.

But you know, it's just nice to be noticed and missed. To have people concerned about you.

Oh sure, it's not Cheers, but you know it's still nice.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/03/2007 10:36:00 AM | |
Friday, February 02, 2007
How do you get through?
I was headed toward the lap lane yesterday, towel over my shoulder, goggles in hand, work-out mapped out, when I heard someone say hello and call my name. I looked around and saw one of the youth I used to work with and was in the handbell choir with at my old church.

He said, "Hey" and asked me what was up. I responded I was headed to swim and inquired how he was. I then noticed the time (it was during mid-day when school would normally be in session) and asked him if he was enjoying the snow day.

He looked at me and said, "Oh I don't go to school any more. I dropped out."

And my heart broke.

I didn't honestly know what to say. Part of me wanted to say, "How are you going to make it in this world without even a high school diploma?" Part of me wanted to go, "Are you at least getting at GED?"

The youth in question is a nice kid. He's from a nice family, good home, all that stuff. I kept wondering why he'd drop out of school...does he not realize he's dooming himself to a life of frustration and working hard to barely scrape by in the world?!? Sure now it may seem a life of carefree leisure, but what about twenty years from now when he's still working at a low-end job, making minimum wage or just a bit more.

As I left the conversation and swam laps, thoughts of this haunted me. I wished I had some magic thing to say to him, to make a difference and help him see that at least finishing high school is a good idea. Then I wondered how many times others in his life have gone through the same thing, wondering what to say, what we could have done differently, how we could have reached him.

The only thing I can do now is pray for him. And hope that if I see him again, that next time I might have some better words of friendship, wisdom or advice for him.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/02/2007 01:39:00 PM | |
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Well, that snow was disappointing.
Well, that predicted snowfall was disappointing. Glad I didn't stock up on bread, milk and rental DVDs.

I just wish we could get a decent snowfall and accumulation so my nephew, who has never had the opportunity to play in the snow could experience the fun of building a snowman, making snow angels, eating snow and throwing a snowball....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/01/2007 07:57:00 AM | |
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