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Monday, February 15, 2010
TV Round-Up
Chuck: Chuck vs the Mask
Given that "Chuck" had no idea that the season would be interrupted by the Winter Olympics, this episode still works as a bit of a cliffhanger to keep us hanging on for two weeks.

Unfortunately, from what I hear there's a certain segment of the fandom not happy with the developments between Chuck and Hannah and Sarah and Shaw who think boycotting the show when it comes back is the best idea...

Honestly, I don't see what they're up in arms about. We all knew there had to be some obstacles to Chuck and Sarah getting together. And I'm perfectly willing to take the ride the producers have in mind for how the characters will develop this year. I guess what I'm saying is that, for me, the show is more than just Chuck and Sarah, though the two do have great chemistry.

What bugged me was the way that we didn't get a lot to the development of Sarah and Morgan suspecting Chuck is up to something and pursuing that more. I'd love to have seen a few scenes of Jeff and Lester trying to follow Chuck or stalk him instead of just hearing about it. I understand that with the way the show was brought back that not all the cast members can be in each story...but I think they dropped the ball on this. Also, it seems like Sarah is a bit quick to buy that Chuck is acting weird over Hannah when his unexplained behavior dates back before she arrived on the scene. Plus it doesn't add up to why Captain Awesome is acting so weird...

Hopefully that's not the end of this plotline...

24: Day Eight, 10-11 p.m.
Another hour that does little or nothing to advance the plot and, if anything, feels like the inevitable we have to wrap up the first segment of our day and move on to the next one. If anyone wants to kill off Dana and Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s character, any time now would be good. I still can't buy that Dana is pulling off this massively ill-conceived robbery plan with her ex-boyfriend and that somehow CTU isn't catching on. Yes, other guy and Chloe have noticed but it's not going anywhere. And we all knew that once ex and his buddy got inside the evidence lock-up that they'd somehow screw things up and make it worse.

The plotline that keeps me interested is one around Hassan, who seems to becoming more and more paranoid that everyone is out to get him. Interesting to see how he's working so hard to hold on to power and how he trusts no one. I have a feeling this could get ugly very fast.

Lost: What Kate Does
It's a Kate episode and I know that I'm one of the few who likes the character. I am fascinated by how fate seems to be bringing people together in both timelines. Seeing Kate and Claire come together in the new universe worked well, though I'm not quite sure how Kate eluded the authorities by staying in the same area like she did. It's one of those TV show convenience things I guess.

As for Claire taking over for Rosseau, I saw that coming a mile away. Does the island need a crazy person to wander around like that? Or is it really Claire? Is Claire dead in the island timeline? So many questions....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/15/2010 12:45:00 PM | |
Monday, February 08, 2010
TV Round-Up
Chuck: Chuck vs the Nacho Sampler
Last week, we saw Chuck go on his first solo mission. This week, we see Chuck get his first asset and we are reminded again of how much a product of the mentor-ship of Casey and Sarah Chuck really is.

Chuck is assigned the asset of a guy named Manoosh, who is nerdy in the same way as Chuck but appears to have some type of new high tech weapon he wants to sell. Apparently it's a portable version of the Intersect and he's got a lot of bad guys who really, really want to get their hands on it. And despite destroying the portable version (disguised as a pair of sunglasses), in the end Manoosh is sent off to somewhere far away to that the Ring can't get their hands on him. And Chuck is the guy who has to do it.

Watching the episode unfold, we're reminded of how far Chuck has come as a spy. And we're also reminded of just how much influence Casey and Sarah have had on him. We get bookends flashbacks of the first time Sarah and Chuck met, including the fact that Sarah was supposed to burn him. But she didn't....it makes me wonder what might have happened had Casey got there first. We've seen that Chuck does have the compassionate site for the people whose live are impacted by the spy game, but we're also seeing that he's got the "its just business" side the Casey exhibits. And that was obvious in how Chuck is forced to cut
Manoosh and how impressed Casey is by his coldness. We also see how easily Chuck can lie now, even to family and friends. One thread I'm picking up on here is that Chuck's dual life may be alienating him from those people he cares about. A few weeks ago, we had a lingering shot of Chuck's family gathering for dinner but here we see evidence that both worlds aren't meshing well and that Chuck could be losing part of what makes him Chuck.

I also like the fact that Chuck's family and friends are starting to question his odd behavior and catching his sloppy attempts to cover his tracks. Discarding his boarding pass for Paris at home is a bit odd and it makes me wonder why they didn't make Chuck destroy it at the Castle. Of course, that would be a bit more complicated when Kristen Kruek showed up and he to backtrack there and explain how he met her and knew her.

I know I keep saying it each week, but this is probably the most solid episode we've had of the third season. The show is hitting its stride and I love it.

24: Day Eight, 9-10 p.m.
Every day of "24" has those episodes that serve to tread water. This was clearly one of them.

Not much really happens to push the plot forward, other than the fact that the writers are clearly setting up some things for the next few hours. The biggest is that the Russian family will be tracked down because of the storyline of taking the sick brother to the doctor for radiation poisoning. With the Russian mafia killing the entire office, you just know this will somehow lead CTU and Jack to them.

Meanwhile, Jack and Renee keep trying to broker a deal to get to the uranium rods. And Renee has some kind of weird history with Lebanon...I'm sorry Russian guy played by the guy who was on BSG. If he and Kate Sackoff can't meet somehow there is no justice. Honestly, I am not sure about how this is unfolding since it seems like we're just waiting for something to happen. Plus it seems as if Renee is a bit too unstable and in too deep here to really be effective. I have to wonder why the Russians don't question more of her suddenly showing up and asking for the nuclear material. Of course, this is "24" and sometimes logic doesn't enter into the show.

Which is really apparent with Dana over at CTU. I can't roll my eyes fast enough EVERY time this plotline comes up. I just don't see where this is headed and it seems like more of a distraction along the lines of Kim and the cougar from season two than a plotline that can and should pay dividends.

And they can't kill off Freddie Prinze, Jr. fast enough for my liking....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/08/2010 12:39:00 PM | |
Thursday, February 04, 2010
TV Round-Up: Lost
LAX
So here it is--the start of the final season of "Lost" and the end line in sight for the show.

As I've said before and elsewhere, I think one of the best things this show ever did was declare an end point for itself.

That's evident here with the season six premiere and as we slowly start to get some answers.

The big one is that the Smoke Monster has been operating on the island all this time in opposition to Jacob. Or at least that's the impression I get here since we've got anti-Locke now being able to morph into said Smoke Monster. It's a nice moment, but it raises some other questions including why would it help Ben and the Others if they were followers of Jacob. Was the Smoke Monster biding its time and maneuvering Ben to the point last year where he'd kill Jacob? And if this is some eternal struggle between good and evil, does the fact that the good has apparently died mean the balance has been thrown off? Or could it be that Sayid is actually Jacob resurrected? Certainly, the symbolism of a lot his immersion in the pool and then his rising would seem to point to that. (Just look at how Sayid had his arms out like he'd been crucified when he was taken out of the pool, for instance).

Meanwhile, the new Others are declaring a red alert as they prepare for something. I'm assuming they're expecting an attack from anti-Locke and his forces. But I still don't understand why they'd follow Locke or if they will.

The other big question that was answered was would blowing up the island work and put things right. And the answer is--yes and no. It did work in the creation of a new parallel universe in which the plane never crashes and the island is underwater. In this universe, certain people are still drawn together (the scenes of Jack and Locke being put together and Jack believing he can help Locke while Locke thinks the situation is hopeless was a nice juxtaposition) and certain objects are still drawn to the island. I'm betting that we'll find that the lost suitcase of knives and the coffin somehow vanished during the turbulence because they need to be on the island.

Then there's the timeline where the explosion threw our heroes back to the present day (island time). And we have the death of Juliet and Sawyer's swearing out vengeance on Jack. I have a feeling that Sawyer's deciding to let Jack suffer will only work for so long before he's pushed over the edge. And we also learn that while Jack can be a leader in times of success, he's not so great when things don't go his way.

So, a few answers and a lot more questions to come. It should be an interesting ride to the series finale...and one that I expect no matter how well done it is, will never please everyone.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/04/2010 01:00:00 PM | |
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
J.D. Salinger & "Catcher in the Rye"

Last week before the great snowstorm of 2010 set in, I heard a breaking story that author J.D. Salinger has passed away.

Hearing the news made me think about my experiences reading "Catcher in the Rye" over the years. Growing up a military kid, it seems I always missed the point in your high school career when "Catcher" was required reading. So, I've not read it as part of an academic setting, but I did seek it out and read it myself during a summer break.

So the opportunity to read the book with others has always eluded me. Until now...

To honor the memory of Salinger, A Reader's Respite is having a group read of the book. You can find out more details and how to sign up HERE.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/03/2010 11:00:00 AM | |
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