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Sunday, January 31, 2010
TV Round-Up
24: Day Eight 5- 8 p.m.
Do they not do background checks over at CTU? I ask this because it seems a bit odd that CTU, an agency whose sole purpose in life is to gather information, can't or doesn't look deep enough into Dana's past to see that she's got a criminal past and has taken on a new identity. On the other hand, maybe she was so good at crafting her new identity that it lead to her being hired. Whatever the reason, it just really sticks out like a sore thumb for the new season and feels like they're working too hard to provide some kind of distraction to the unfolding plot to a major head of state.

Hopefully she'll stay far away from Jack since it appears that just about anyone who comes into Jack's sphere of influence isn't faring too well right now. It's interesting to see Jack's win at all costs attitude wear off onto Rene (especially given how upset she was early on last year by Jack's methods) and to see her have her own Jack Bauer moment as the cliffhanger to the first four hours of the new day. Even more interesting is that she's able to to pretty much take care of a guy whose thumb she just sawed off with little more than a first aid kit. I'm telling you, that CTU training is incredible. I wonder if it's taught by McGyver.

Meanwhile you've got As the Hassan Family Turns with a brother conspiring to kill his older brother and take over the reigns of state, all jump starting the country's nuclear weapons program. That's pretty ambitious for one terrorist plot, you have to admit. And to see him still trying to get the uranium while his brother consolidates power should prove interesting

Oh, one last thing. Any time they want to kill of Freddie Prinze, Jr is fine by me....

Chuck: Chuck vs. First Class

And we're back. "Chuck" has been getting its stride going with the first four episodes and it really hits it here, even if the B plot is kind of similar to the one last week. I thought Morgan had established authority over Lester last week, but any excuse to see Casey and Morgan teaming up to take down Lester is fine by me. Seeing Casey positively salivating at the chance to use his tactics on insurgent Lester was pure and total gold and worked a lot better than last week's "Fight Club" homage.

But where the show really worked was Chuck getting his own first solo mission. At first, I assumed Shaw was brought in as another spy who'd put Chuck into a corner and limit him. But to see Shaw give Chuck the chance he's been wanting for so long and then to see Chuck go on his mission, watching it unfold was just a lot of fun. And even Kristen Kruek, who was usually a major downer on "Smallville" works here. Again, the joy of "Chuck" is that guest stars come in and they play off the types of characters they've played in other shows, movies or other areas. And it's all working here.

I can't believe we only have two more episodes left before the Olympics break...

Dollhouse: Epipath Two

Whatever else you can say about Fox's treatment of "Dollhouse" I will give them credit--they renewed the series last year and they made good on their promise to run all the episodes. While it's still another Whedon show cut down and sent to the scrapheap, at least this time around Joss and company got to gives the fans the closure and ending the show deserves.

After we saw Echo and everyone else take out Rossum two weeks ago, we had to have an episode that dealt with the fallout we saw from the zombie future. And "Epipath Two" felt like a nice code to the series, allowing Whedon to have everyone win the battle and end on some hope for the characters. Not everyone got a necessarily happy ending, but it felt like there was some hope there for everyone. And while the show may have been originally all about Echo, it's fascinating how in 26 episodes the supporting cast was more developed and this show felt more like an ensemble show in the end than anything. In fact, I found myself caring more about how Topher would end up and would he solve the problem facing them as well what had happened to make him the way he was, than really much of the drama between Echo and Paul.

Also, in watching the finale, I kept wondering why when they got back to the L.A. Dollhouse they didn't just download a copy of Topher into one of the dolls to help the real Topher solve the problem. Or at least have a line that says--oh his construct was destroyed.

Caprica: Rebirth
I've said elsewhere that I think this show might be more successful if it weren't sold as a prequel to "Battlestar: Galactica." It's a solid enough show that it could have stood on its own without being part of that franchise. As it is, watching the episodes it's hard to not look for things that foreshadow or echo things we'll see in BSG.

I liked the pilot but had reservations about it. That said, I think "Rebirth" is a solid entry and a good second episode because it allows the universe to expand and seems to be putting in motion a lot of things the series will explore as it goes along. Chief among them is Zoe in her various incarnations and the questions of identity that it could bring up.

Also, I find it fascinating to see just how her parents are dealing with her death and the implications of her involvement in the attack. Her dad seems to want to deny that she could be part of it while mom wants to admit it and accept some responsibility for the actions. It should set up some fascinating episodes and storylines to come in the coming weeks...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/31/2010 03:18:00 PM | |
Monday, January 25, 2010
No, no, no...a thousand times no!
Buried in last week's rumor that Russell T. Davies was considering creating an American version of "Torchwood" was the nugget that also under consideration was an American version of "Doctor Who."

Not much is out there on details about this proposed American version of the greatest television show of all time, but I have to tell you that I'm dead set against it. Especially if (as I fear) Davies is in any way connected with it.

I'm glad Davies brought back my favorite show and that under his leadership, it's become very popular. That said, I think the man has run out of ideas "Doctor Who" wise and that he's far too convinced of his own genius for his own good. I was happy to see him go and I'm eager to see what an era led by Steven Moffatt will look like.

As for an American version of "Doctor Who," I just don't see it. We tried it in '96 with the Fox movie and it was met with a resounding shrug of the shoulders.

Don't get me wrong--I want more "Doctor Who." I just want it produced by the BBC in Great Britain. Anything else is just a bad idea...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/25/2010 04:19:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 21, 2010
TV Round-Up
Chuck: Chuck vs. Operation Awesome
The third season continues to hit its stride with another solid episode that once again demonstrates how well "Chuck" uses its guest stars--you cast them based on what types of characters they've played in the past and allow the actors to play on that. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of how certain old radio series used to work with various people taking on a fictional persona for the sake of their character and the show. For example, any time Jack Benny guest starred on another show, you were sure to get a mention of Jack's frugal ways.

Same thing here with Angie Harmon and Brandon Routh. Routh is cast as the all-American good guy, along the lines of his role in the Man of Steel in "Superman: Returns." It's interesting to see Shaw come into Team Chuck and immediately begin to try and shake things up a bit. Knowing that Routh will be around for a few episodes should be interesting, though I hope they do more with the character than throw him in as some kind of stumbling block to the Chuck and Sarah relationship. I think we've seen enough outsiders come in and do that--unless they can actually do something interesting or different with it. At this point, I'm not sure and it may end up being a case of treading the same ground again.

The episode had me consistently chuckling and enjoying it even though there were some glaring weak points and one plot hole. I don't quite buy that the Ring would assume that Captain Awesome is the spy and that Chuck isn't. It was nice to see that Awesome wasn't killed, but wouldn't the guy who likes to poison people from last week have clued them in a bit about Awesome's role only as a doctor and to watch out for Chuck and Sarah? Or maybe it's because the Ring has only seen the crew in such limited action that they're operating on a false tip from last week's events that led to this assumption. It's one of those things you have to buy in order to get to the story going and get the hilarity ensuing, but it seemed a bit much to swallow.

Also, I have to admit that for long stretches of time I wasn't thrilled by events at the Buy More. It felt like they were trying to stretch things a bit and having a "Fight Club" homage just didn't really click for me. At least they were able to have that plot intersect with the Chuck plot in a nice way, though again it felt like they were working a bit too hard to get from point A to point B. We needed some way to get Chuck out of trouble late in the story, so the early joke of the electric fence was put in there to get us there.

But beyond that, I enjoyed what I saw here. I really liked Chuck coming up with his own plan and the scenes with Awesome when Chuck was able to fully utilize his new abilities as the Intersect 2.0.

I'm also glad that the series didn't make the move of killing off Awesome. It seems like too dark a twist for the show to take.

Dollhouse: The Hollow Men
With "Dollhouse" headed toward the finish line, Joss Whedon and company barely have a chance to let us catch our breath and let the big revelation from last week really sink in. That's a shame because I think an episode or two of our knowing about Boyd and seeing the characters come to grips with it would have been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I'm betting Whedon and company found out the show was canceled too late to really have much more than we got here.

The story pushes forward with the implications of the Rossum technology really having an impact. The concept of creating a way to wipe out a person's personality and then imprint it with another is fascinating and chilling--especially the handheld device that Topher has invented. Also interesting is that no matter how hard they try, they can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. You get the feeling that no matter how hard our heroes work, they can't take back the fact that such a thing can and did exist. It made me want to dust off the DVD set of season one and look at "Epipath 1" again, but I haven't had time yet. Hopefully before the finale.

This one felt like it had to wrap up all the present day stories before we jump ten years ahead to see what goes wrong and if there's any hope for the future. Along the way, we lose another character and get to see Echo take on Whiskey in an epic battle. The pace was rushed at times (I could easily see this week and last week's stories expanded to a trilogy) but at least we're getting resolution and some closure. I can also see why Whedon says that once this show is done, it's done. He's not leaving much to come back and play with.....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/21/2010 01:33:00 PM | |
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Irony, Thy Name is a Page a Day Calendar
My Tennessee Page-A-Day calendar is mocking me.

Today's trivia question is this: With what Pac 10 school was Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin the offensive coordinator in 2005-06?

Oh, the irony....oh, the irony.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/20/2010 12:31:00 PM | |
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
It's my birthday...
Another year older, hopefully another year wiser....

Yes, today is my birthday. I officially turn...well, let's just say a year older.

Anyway, since my birthday is close to New Year's I've already done a bit of reflecting back on the year that was, so I won't do that again. However, I do love b'day wishes from friends, family, etc. So, I open up the comments thread once a year and transparently ask for birthday wishes.

But hey, it's my b'day...:)

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/19/2010 12:01:00 AM | |
Monday, January 18, 2010
TV Round-Up: 24
Day Eight: 4 - 6 p.m.
And so, day eight of "24" begins with a shift in scenery (we move from D.C. to New York City) and an all-new CTU.

Jack is back and seems to have recovered from his bout with near death last year, thanks in large part to Kim. He's also decided it's time to give up the saving civilization as we know it business and ready to move back to L.A. with Kim, her husband and his granddaughter. Of course, being fans of the show, we know this won't last too long...in fact, within five minutes of Jack saying he's out, there's something there to pull him back in.

The pulling him back in is an old informant (who because he was played by Benito Martinez from "The Shield" I kept calling him Acaveda) who has news about an assignation attempt on the new leader of an Arab nation who happens to be in town for a peace summit. So, before you know it, Jack is pulled back in just a little and despite every possible attempt to get out of the saving the world business, Jack is sucked back in yet again.

And it may be kind of a good thing since the new CTU is operating under a new boss with a new emphasis on expediency. Which is a good thing except when terrorists are making crazy moves and your computer drones can't quite keep up--as we see when CTU's helicopter is destroyed in the first hour. There's a whole new cast of CTU people as well, including Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Starbuck. Again, it's hard to see the actors as new characters just yet, though Kate Sackoff is trying her best with her character. So far, I don't quite see what the character brings to the table other than pining for Mr. SMG and smirking a lot. Oh and she's getting mysterious calls about her past.

At least we don't have any signs of a CTU mole just yet. And if the producers are listening, you can leave that little plotline out this year.

Meanwhile, the first two hours are full of red herrings from the Arab leader's brother being the one on the inside and not the blonde reporter that he's having an affair with. And there's some family drama boiling over there that you can bet will come into play before the day is done.

Ever since "24" went to its two night, four hour premiere, it's been interesting to watch how the storytelling has changed. It gives us four hours to get inside the situation, meet the new characters and get things rolling--things that really had to happen in just one hour early on when the show ran over a more conventional season. It's both good and bad. It's good for the chance to have things unfold in a more natural way and maybe not have a letdown in hour three or four as things try to catch up. But in a bad way, you kind of miss the edge-of-your-seat, over-the-top action that could come with an early hour or that one huge hook that "24" would use in early seasons to get you back into the game.

So far, season eight is off to a solid start. Hopefully tonight will ramp things up a bit and carry us on a thrill ride for the rest of the year.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/18/2010 08:24:00 AM | |
Friday, January 15, 2010
Football Cocahing Haiku
Kiffin says bye-bye
Ditches Vols for USC
Scrambling for coach

Candidates say no
Hamilton should be fired
Make Fulmer AD

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/15/2010 03:06:00 PM | |
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The Blind Side
Or "How to Screw Over a Program in 14 Months" starring Lane Kiffin

When the news broke that Lane "Traitor Boy" Kiffin was leaving UT, I was stunned, shocked, hurt and felt like I'd been punched in the gut. It was almost like that feeling I got in the fall when the Vols had two field-goals against Alabama blocked--you just want to throw up, scream in frustration and have a good long cry. Then you put it past you and move on.

I was ready to consider moving on, until I began to see and hear how Kiffin and his staff have acted in their departure.

As Kiffin was trying to make this decision, athletic director Mike Hamilton was out of town. Kiffin apparently went to see him, but didn't find him in his office. But apparently Kiffin didn't bother to have the courtesy to place a call to Hamilton--the guy who took a chance on him last year, gave him the opportunity and was willing to open the check book to make the UT coaching staff the highest paid in the nation. Of course, given the track record of Kiffin and his relationship with bosses, this shouldn't have come as a huge shock.

Then, there's the Kiffin statement. Apparently he and Pete Caroll went to the same school of public speaking. The statements both gave on exiting their current positions were pretty much the same--boy, sure a great opportunity and I can't pass it up. At least Kiffin only went 45 seconds instead of Caroll rambing on for six hours (OK, maybe it just felt like six hours or maybe that's because ESPN has reshown it a zillion times and I'm sick of hearing it), but that's not the point. 104.5 the Zone has Jim Wogan from Knoxville's WATE on the air this morning, talking about the bizarre nature of the statement...apparently Kiffin or UT or both didn't want cameras. And it took some pursuading to get Kiffin to come into the room and talk to the reporters. If you're going to jilt us, at least be man enough to come in and say something about it. I realize that he probably wants to get out of town before the airports shut down and angry fans block the roadways or show up at your house with pitchforks and torches, but you created this situation, so you should be man enough to deal with the consequences.

Again, given the Kiffin track record, I shouldn't be shocked by this, but yet I am.

And now, by the way you've done this, you've screwed over the football team for the season to come. Kiffin said he's got to get in and start recruiting because national signing day is in three weeks. Well, Lane, UT also has national signing day in three weeks. And the way you've left means we are probably going to lose a lot of talent that was coming to UT. And I really don't like the underhanded tactics Ed Orgeron was taking yesterday in calling guys who'd early enrolled and telling them to not go to class. If, as you said in your 45 seconds, you think you're leaving us better off, that's not really making your case there. And that doesn't even get into the situation faced by some of the players you leave behind, who bought into your system, embraced your coaching staff and worked their asses off this year to get a winning record, improve over last year and get you this opportunity to take your "dream job." In many cases, you may have screwed over a lot of guys who had potential to go pro and make a solid living for themselves and their families becuase your blind-siding selfishness.

As UT scrambles to find a new head coach, I find myself wondering who on the team will step up and be the leader we need. And while I'm happy to see Eric Berry going pro and wish him all the best, I can't help but wish he was there to rally the team. He's the type of guy the team needs and I can't help but think--man, if Monty hadn't encouraged him to go pro, we might have him now when we really need him. I don't mean just on the field, but in the locker room.

There could be one real winner in all of this--writer Clay Travis. His book about Phil Fulmer's final year was a "must read" for anyone who loves the Big Orange or just college football. I can only imagine the potential he has for one hell of a follow-up book called "The Big Orange Screw: The Lane Kiffin Era at Tennessee."

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/13/2010 07:59:00 AM | |

The Gunslinger
When Lane Kiffin was hired at Tennessee, one of the many things I heard him called was a new, young gun for hire. Kiffin was looking for his chance to make his mark in coaching after doing some good work with Pete Caroll at USC and a disastrous run with the Oakland Raiders.

So, he came to the Vols after the unceremonious dumping of Phil Fulmer. And he seemed to say all the right things like that he wanted to be here a while and that he looked forward to beating Florida.

I guess we should have known better. The problem with a young gun for hire is that they can and will leave you in the lurch to go to the next highest bidder.

And that's what we've seen happen with Kiffin.

I feel jilted by Kiffin and his staff, especially when I hear reports that Ed Orgeron is encouraging freshmen recruits to not go to class so they can follow them to USC. Is this really fair? I know that this kind of thing happens and that players can and will follow coaches. But was UT just some kind of minor league system to these guys where they recruited and tried to implement a new system only to take their toys and go home when something better comes along.

A couple of years ago, I had a friend who lamented that she had a pattern when it came to dating--she'd date a guy and they'd go their separate ways only to have said guy marry the girl-after-her. In a way, I feel like this is what Kiffin and company have done to UT.

I understand Kiffin wanting to go back to USC and reassemble the band for a reunion tour. I suppose I could eventually get past my anger at him for treating UT this way. But the way in which he's taking his entire staff and seems to be gutting the program only reinforces my initial reaction which is to hope the guy never wins another game, that he's an utter failure at USC and that he's fired within a year to never, ever coach again anywhere. I'd wish a pox upon him, but honestly that seems too good right now. Maybe a really virulent strain of the swine flu could set up shop among he and his staff and those players who leave with him.

On a related note, this could be the beginning of the end for athletic director Mike Hamilton. Hamilton used a lot of his reserve clout with booster and the athletic department to oust Fulmer and install his new guy here. And now, his new guy has up and bolted. This doesn't reflect well on Hamilton and given how the program looks like it could be gutted and that we're left with our pants down, I have a feeling that when the dust settles, a lot of blame will (rightly) come to rest at Hamilton's doorstep. I predict that within two to five years, the fallout from this will lead to Hamilton's resignation or termination.

For now, let me say I again that this reinforces my hatred for USC (they now jump up into the same level of hatred I reserve for the Cowboys, Florida, Georgia and Alabama) and that I wish nothing but the worst for Kiffin and company as they leave.

I hope we meet in a bowl game in the near future and we kick your ass from start to finish.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/13/2010 05:56:00 AM | |
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Don't let the door....
ESPN just broke the story that Lane Kiffin is gone as the head coach of the Vols...after just one season.

According to reports, he takes his dad, Monty and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron with him to USC.

I'm stunned and at a loss for words on this one.

One more reason to pull against USC for me. And I think I'm officially moving into the camp of not liking Kiffin.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, buddy...

I only hope this won't play havoc with our recruiting class.

Somewhere Phil Fulmer must be laughing hysterically....and I can't blame him one bit.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/12/2010 08:03:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: Chuck
Chuck vs the Angel de la Muerte
Another episode that sees season three getting back on solid footing.

One of the most interesting developments last year was Devon aka Captain Awesome finding out about Chuck's secret dual life as Nerd Herd employee by day and spy by night. Having someone else in on the secret was fun and given Captain Awesome's type A personality, we knew it was only a matter of time before he was drawn into the spy side of Chuck's universe.

Thankfully, the episode found a way to do just that without it feeling forced and over the top. Devon's embracing his inner adrenaline junkie and wanting to channel that into what Chuck does, before realizing he's not cut out for the dual life and the lies that go with it was a nice touch. I'm hoping this won't be the last time we see the character (I didn't see any previews so I don't know what's coming next week). But if it is, it was a nice send-off for him, but it could take the show to a much darker place than we usually see. It would also make it difficult to keep Ellie out of the loop of the real nature of what her dad and brother do for a living.

And, of course, any time you can give Adam Baldwin screen time to do his slow burn and disguise himself with a really badly done mustache, it's all good. His reputation as the titular Angel de la Muerta was nicely done and seeing him captured and still able to kick some heiney while ties to a chair was nicely done.

All in all, I think the show is firing again on all cylinders and it left me eager for next week's installment. I think the two-night event really worked in favor of the show here because I think had these first three episodes been stretched across three weeks, we might have been a lot more dissatisfied. Instead, I'm eager for the next installment....can't we just get new "Chuck" every night of the week?!?

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/12/2010 07:40:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: Chuck
Chuck vs. the Three Words
If I was disappointed by "Pink Slip" because of the set-up it had to do, I was far more intrigued, impressed and amused by "The Three Words." This one felt more like the series I've come to know and love, all while giving us a glimpse of where the series can go with Chuck now being the Intersect 2.0.

It's interesting to see a show like "Chuck" that doesn't have a heavy mythology (as compared to "Battlestar Galactica," "Heroes" or "24") build on a returning character from the first season. But what "Chuck" does so well is bring in guest stars who fit the role they're given and that role plays to the audiences expectations of that certain actor. That works here with Carina because the story gives us enough information to understand Carina and why she's there in the story without having to stop for a long info-dump or losing newer viewers. She's there to point out the differences between she and her latest mission and Chuck and Sarah. It's also to serve as a starting point to some healing between Chuck and Sarah, though at this point I'm not sure if we need to really delve much more into it. Leave the feelings unrequited because of the job they both face unless you're going to put them together. I like the chemistry, but it could hamper the show at some point. And we've seen other shows that can pay off and build on the relationship chemistry of two main characters, if it's done right and thought out by the writers.

This week's mission finds Chuck and company stealing some type of new weapon from Carina's latest mark. Carina has infilitrated as his fiancee and gets Team Bartowski on the inside to steal said weapon. The weapon is successfully stolen, but the head terrorist is suspicious. Carina leaves the weapon with Morgan, who wants invites her to the house-warming party he's throwing--basically to impress her and prove to Lester and Jeff that he can score a girl like Carina. Of course, all things intersect (pun not intended but still a good one) at said party with Chuck providing a way to defeat the bad guys without using the new Intersect.

All said, I liked it a great deal, though part of me began to wonder if Carina wasn't playing both sides against each other here. The fact that no one would let them open the case to see the weapon inside seems like it's drawing too much attention to itself. But nothing comes of it and I'd be surprised if we see the issue come up again. I wouldn't mind if it did, but that feels a bit too continuity heavy for the show. Instead, what will come up again is the new plan for the team. Based on how the show was renewed and then extended, I'm willing to bet this is the driving force for the show in the first 13 episodes and we'll see more of Chuck's dad in the last six of the year (it was announced yesterday that Scott Bakula will be back as Chuck's dad later this year.).

About the only part I didn't like was Chuck in the vault, pouring out his heart to Sarah. After the growth as a spy we got last year and Chuck's time in training in Prague, it seems like this was a big sideways step back to season one.

But if that's my biggest complaint, then that means we've got a solid second episode and a lot of potential for the rest of the season.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/12/2010 01:23:00 PM | |
Monday, January 11, 2010
TV Round-Up
Dollhouse: "Getting Closer"
During the vast wasteland that is holiday repeats, I mainlined seven episodes of "Dollhouse" on my DVR. And it was seven episodes when the season really kicked into gear and we found out the show was getting the pink slip. The stories all seemed to be really delving into the implications of what the Dollhouse is, does and the bigger picture overall of Rossum and how events now are leading toward the destruction and choas we saw in "Epipath One" (at least if you got the DVD set). Of those seven episodes, the one I enjoyed least was the one set inside the Attic, if only because it felt like it was doing some heaving lifting to set up the pieces that are about to fall in the next couple of weeks.

So, having mainlined the show, I was left in the lurch to the point where only watching one episode this week felt like I was just getting warmed up. Of course, it doesn't hurt that "Getting Closer" packed in a ton of exposition to its hour, including at least three plot twists that you could see coming only a few moments before they developed. I'm referring to Dr. Saunders killing off Topher's love interest and the doctor who can restore Caroline fully, the revelation of who the high and mighty person is at Rossum and the restoration of Melli to her original personality when she met Paul. If the series were to continue, I'd love to see a bit more time to explore a triangle between Melli, Echo and Paul. Alas, that probably won't happen, but it could make for a heck of a novel or comic book.

Instead, we're hellbent for the finish line with Joss Whedon determined to give us the answers we all want. Of course, if the show had been kept around, we might get some time to explore the implications of them and how they impact the characters, but I guess we should be grateful Fox is airing these and not making us wait for DVD. Or never answering the questions.

I find it interesting to see how Whedon and his writing staff can put the groundwork in place all year and then slowly began to offer the payoff in the season's final episodes. Having Dr. Saunders come back and then kill off Summer Glau's character worked extremely well, though I've heard some conversations wondering if she was programmed to do it or if she did it to get back at Topher. Or possibly a bit of both. Her history with Topher would indicate she'd enjoy taking this away from him and that she could be the petty and vindictive. It also made me wonder if there was some kind of history (romantically) between Topher and Saunders. Or if she had feelings and he was pre-season-two Topher and unable to respond.

The other huge revelation that Boyd is actually Clyde, who is the head honcho of Rossum, I'm not quite as sold on. As the flashbacks revealed the history of Caroline and how she got into Rossum's sphere of influence, I figured it had to be a familar face. I wasn't quite prepared for it to be Boyd and it certainly opens up some interesting questions that hopefully we'll get the answers to this week. My willingness to declare it a good or a bad move depends a lot on what happens in the final two episodes, though I'm not willing to discount that Boyd could be a doll himself. I want to go back and see if he was around Topher's remote shutdown device at any point when it was used.

Heroes: "Upon This Rock" & "Let in Bleed"
As I watched these two episodes, I kept asking myself one thing--why am I bothering? I'm not the type of person who generally likes to fast forward through shows when I'm first watching them, but I can't tell you how many times I was tempted to do so here. In fact, I could easily have skipped all the Nathan funeral scenes. I realize the characters are just now coming to terms with his loss, but he's been dead since the end of season three and we've had time to adjust to the fact as viewers. In fact, I think Adrian Passdar is better off for being off the show.

But the real frustration comes in how the show can't seem to follow its own continuity. I refer specifically to Emma, whose powers seems to morph into whatever the episode needs it to be at the time. She can see sounds and now the power can draw fellow people with abilities to her....huh? If so, why hasn't that been a side effect of it until now. Or was it Samuel somehow manipulating and using her power to his own greater end? The show could and should answer these questions but yet it doesn't really bother. It seems to not think beyond the current script and episode, which would be fine if it were an episodic series. Unfortunately, it's a serialized thing and is supposed to reward us for paying attention to details.

Meanwhile, we have Sylar who apparently is now obsessed with Claire again. Ummm, we did that already didn't we? I still say that they'd be better off to kill off at least half the cast, including Sylar, Claire, Peter Patrelli and Hiro.

Speaking of Hiro, has everyone forgotten that Peter went to New Orleans to get the healing power to use on Hiro? If I were Hiro, I'd be kind of annoyed that Peter randomly took on some new power before he healed me as he said he'd do....oh wait, that would involve continuity beyond an episode and a half....

Chuck: "Chuck vs. the Pink Slip"

As most of you know, I love "Chuck." Season two was a think of beauty and the news that season three was getting a green light was cause for much rejoicing on my part. And given that we've upgraded Chuck and we might see him finally get to begin embracing the life he so desparately wanted and was growing toward at the end of last year, I was eager for season three to begin.

First up, we get "Chuck vs. the Pink Slip" which was good, but not great. In a lot of ways it had to do a lot of heavy lifting and get everyone back into place after last year's finale. We had to find a way to continue the Chuck and Sarah tension, we had to get the team back together and we had to explore Chuck's ability (or lack of) to control the new Intersect. In a lot of ways, this one felt like a big laundry list of "to do"s and hopefully as the season now gets underway, we'll see something better come along. Because I hate to say it, but I didn't love this one.

A lot of it was due to Chuck himself. Chuck was growing into his role as the spy last year that it feels like we took a big step backward here as a way to throw another roadblock between Chuck and Sarah. And surely the Chuck who listened to his dad's heart-to-hearts last year wouldn't have broken Sarah's heart in the way he did here...would he?

I've only seen the first part (as of this writing) so maybe we get more about this in the next couple of installments. I hope so.

That said, there's still fun to be had here. Seeing "Chuck" learn how to use his new powers is fun, though I wish we'd seen more of his training. Also, Casey getting to use the big gun and save Chuck and Sarah was a nice moment for the show.

Hopefully there's more fun to be had as season three continues. I'm still firmly along for the ride and I encourage you to join in. With the news that Leno is gone, if we can get some solid viewing figures for "Chuck" we might even get a season four...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/11/2010 02:12:00 PM | |
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Maybe There's Hope
Two weeks ago when the news broke that four Tennessee basketball players had been arrested for a variety of charges, I pretty much chalked up men's basketball season as a loss.

Friday with the dismissal of Tyler Smith from the team, I figured that the team might hang around at bit in this weekend's big clash with Kansas, but I wasn't sure if we'd have what it took to win.

Then, as game time rolled around, I tuned in, hoping for the best and that we'd at least keep it close.

And then, something happened...

I saw a team head out to the basketball court, facing huge odds and play with discipline and within themselves to topple the number one team in the nation. I saw a team grow up a bit this afternoon, seeing guys make plays and help each other out. I saw our two star players that we have left be limited due to foul trouble and other guys step in and show leadership. I saw the kind of team we had early on in Bruce Pearl's tenure.

My only complaint was that we weren't disciplined in making foul shouts--I'm looking at you J.P. Prince. At some point, if not corrected, that could come back to help us snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

But for today, I'm pleased with what I saw and a bit more hopeful for the rest of the season. Maybe basketball season won't be a complete loss after all....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/10/2010 07:48:00 PM | |

20 Year of "The Simpsons"

I always feel a bit old when I hear people saying that they can't ever recall a time when "The Simpsons" wasn't on television. And we're not just talking syndicated repeats here, folks. We're talking new episodes on a regular basis!

See, I clearly recall when "The Simpsons" debuted. I recall the ads for the first Christmas special (I think Fox showed us most of it in those previews) and I recall that first season. I had a Bart Simpson T-shirt back in the day, but mine was made even cooler in that it had a University of Tennessee tie-in. Bart was proclaiming the greatness of UT...how could you wrong? I wore that t-shirt out, let me tell you.

I recall the second season premiere "Bart Gets an F" which is one of my favorites and I watched a bunch of times. I was there when the whole "Simpsons" mania thing started and I bought into it.

Who knew the show would still be going strong after 20 years and 450 episodes?!?

Tonight is the anniversary special and the 450th episode.

And it shows no signs of stopping any time soon. I know there are those who say it's not as good as it used to be, but it's still really entertaining, amusing and fun to watch most weeks. And the DVD sets are the gold-standard for season releases of a television series, just packing on the extras. The commentaries alone are worth the price of admission.

So, here's to many, many more great episodes. And to my feeling kind of old as I think about the fact that the show has been on so long...and I can recall where it all began.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/10/2010 07:05:00 AM | |
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Best Line of the Day
"Can someone please ask Al Gore to turn the global warming back on?"

I heard that on the Rick and Bubba show either yesterday or today (no thanks to WLAC, mind you...).

It's been frigid of late in middle Tennessee and much of the United States and now, there are predictions of snow for tonight and tomorrow. Of course, this has set off the usual Tennessee tradition of rushing to the grocery store to hoard as much bread and milk as humanly possible. I'm still not quite sure why anyone thinks that four inches will trap them so long that they need six gallons of milk and seven loaves of bread. It also makes me wonder if milk sandwiches are really all that tasty.

I've already seen snow in the form of flurries a couple of times this winter and I have to admit that part of me would like to see some snow accumulation this time around. As long as I don't have to drive in it.

I'm also intrigued by TDOT's new use of beet juice as a way to de-ice roadways. As someone who despises eating beets, any way to keep them off my plate and doing something good is fine by me....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/06/2010 01:00:00 PM | |
Monday, January 04, 2010
If it's the first week of January....
...that means it will probably be packed at the Y.

New Years resolutions are kicking in and there's been a definite uptick in the people at the Y this evening. It's this way every year and I have a feeling a lot of these resolution people will be gone by Valentine's Day.

It's always interesting to me that attendance at both church and the gym picks up around this time of the year, only to steadily drop off as winter continues.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/04/2010 07:46:00 PM | |
Saturday, January 02, 2010
TV Round-Up: Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part 2
My biggest issue with stories written exclusively by Russell T. Davies (especially the specials where running time isn't strictly mandated by the BBC) is that each one has moments where the story lags or treads water, waiting for the next big development to come along. Last week, we had a lot of this is the first half of the story with David Tennant and John Simms chewing scenery as the Doctor and the Master. And for the conclusion, we got a lot more of that with the Doctor going back and forth on whether or not to shoot the members of the High Council who had re-emerged from the time lock or the Master himself.

In this day and age where you can (practically) read an entire script outline on-line months before it airs, it's easy for the bigger details of a script to get out there on the Internet and virtually impossible to avoid them. I'd known for months that this was the final Tennant story and I also knew we'd have a check-in or final scene with various recurring cast members and companions from the era. I also knew Simms would be back as the Master.

What I didn't know was that Davies would try to use the script to wrap up the last few dangling threads from his era--namely the beating of the drums from inside the Master's head from series three and what really happened to the Time Lords in the Time War. I have a feeling this is a close to seeing the Time War on screen as we'll ever get (and it's a good idea since at this point every fan worth his or her salt has imagined exactly how it played out in his or her head and any on-screen depiction would fall tragically short). It's interesting to see how Davies showed us the corruption of the Time Lords as a whole and the acknowledgment that by the end of the Time War, they'd become just as corrupt and hell-bent on winning at all costs as the Daleks had. We'd seen this trend starting to emerge toward the end of the classic series--especially if you look at the events of "The Two Doctors" and how the CIA wanted to keep the secrets of time travel from anyone else in the universe at all costs.

It was interesting to hear just why the Doctor felt like he had to time lock his own race and how he chooses to remember them as they were before they fell as it were.

It gave Tennant a lot of time to act his socks off--and for the most part it was pretty good.

Where the script kind of left me hanging was a lot of lags in the action leading up to it. The Doctor and the Master chew scenery and the Doctor escapes to a space ship for an extended period of time. A lot of this is simply to tread water as the Master sets his real end game in motion and as the Time Lords (specifically the High Council) puts their plan to re-emerge into motion. We find out what the four beats in the Master's head meant and we get a retcon that is the High Council who made the Master into the bad guy he became. Not exactly the most original notion and I'm not sure yet if or how it might value or devalue his role in the classic series. It may put a new light on his role in "The Deadly Assassin" but beyond that, I'm still a bit undecided on how I feel about it. It could be the new debate among "Who" fans--maybe replacing the old UNIT dating controversy. (If only...)

There were a few quieter moments I did like, such as the Doctor's conversation with Wilf and Wilf's unrestrained joy at being able to travel into outer space. The script did lag a bit as the Doctor put things back together but doesn't tell anyone until the most dramatic moment possible and then leads an assault back to Earth. I did like the Doctor's reasoning for not wanting to carry a gun and then his decision to take it with him. However, I didn't necessarily buy his diving from great height into the hall where the Time Lords are re-emerging. But then again, we've seen this trend over the past couple of seasons of Davies giving the Doctor almost super-hero like attributes, so it's nothing necessarily new.

And, of course, the Doctor saves Earth, the Master is defeated and Gallifrey is sent back to Time Lock. It's all to save Earth and it felt like Davies wanted to have one last moment of the Doctor saving humanity to cap off the era. Nice, but didn't we do that in just about every other season finale before now? I guess I was hoping for something original to end the era...

And then, it's the Doctor sacrificing himself and his last check-in with the companions. Which again goes on a bit too long, but you can see what Davies is trying to do. One thing I like is that we didn't somehow bring the current Rose back in again. I like the companions from the Davies era but I will be glad to see them maybe finally go into the rear-view mirror a bit.

Then, it's over. The longest regeneration scene ever culminates with the Doctor thinking it's the end, but he somehow doesn't die. Instead we get a moment of Matt Smith and then it's a new era.

Overall, "The End of Time" was a good but not great end to the era. I may need to watch it all again as one big episode and without the expectations that this is the final Tennant story to appreciate it a bit more. But for now, I'm ready for the next era of the show to begin...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/02/2010 08:30:00 PM | |

And there goes basketball season...
I wished I'd DVRed the Vols big win Thursday afternoon over Memphis.

Because based on the news about the bone-headed move by four of our players, it looks like that may be the high point on the court for the season.

I'm always amazed by the bone-headedness of some athletes.

I'd hoped we might beat Kansas and Kentucky at home but without the four who shall not be named but will be missed, I'm not going to hold my breath...

Sigh...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/02/2010 11:38:00 AM | |

Lost a Listener
Dear WLAC,

I've been a loyal listener to your station for a couple of years now primarily because of your decision to carry the Rick and Bubba show here in Nashville.

So I was understandably upset when I heard this morning that as of Monday, Rick and Bubba will no longer be carried on your station.

I was a loyal fan, listening for several hours each morning via streaming and on my drive to work. I came to station events that centered around Rick and Bubba, I supported the advertisers who sponsored the show. I'm kind of annoyed that they were (once again) unceremoniously dropped from the Nashville airwaves.

Your station has lost a loyal listener.

Happy New Year!
Big Orange Michael

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/02/2010 11:00:00 AM | |
Friday, January 01, 2010
Looking back, looking forward
It's hard to believe the first decade of the new millennium is over.

Like everyone, the first decade of the 2000's was full of ups, downs and lots of time in between.

Looking back on the year that was 2009, it's interesting to see things coming off my bucket list that I never thought would go on there, much less get crossed off. At the start of the year, I could have told you that I'd read a lot of books (over 200 thanks to the brilliance that is audio books), swim a lot of laps and watch a lot of UT sports. But what I couldn't have told you was that I'd enjoy "Star Trek" as much as I did, complete my first triathlon (indoor) and my first half-marathon and so many more things that my mind boggles when I think about them all.

All I know is that I'm very blessed in so many ways. And while I haven't been as faithful or as loquacious on my blog this year as I have in years past, it isn't because I don't appreciate the community of family and friends who read here and where our lives intersect here on the wonder that is the world wide web. I'm hoping to make a resolution for 2010 to be a bit more faithful in the writing, a little less insane in the rantings against referees who all biased against UT (this should last until the Florida game next fall, if then...) and, of course, encouraging everyone to watch the new seasons of "Chuck" and "Doctor Who" when they come around.

It's been a remarkable decade...and I'm looking forward to another remarkable one starting with 2010.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/01/2010 07:12:00 PM | |
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