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Monday, January 30, 2012
TV Round-Up: Chuck (The Series Finale)
One of my favorite shows from the past couple of years, Chuck, came to a close Friday evening.  The two-hour finale was pretty as close to perfect as the show gets and a reminder of everything that I've come to enjoy about the show.

The two-hour finale was chock full of call-backs to some of the series best moments all while trying to wrap up the series in a way that felt satisfying and complete. Given that Chuck has pretty much had three other potential series finales leading up to this point, it's great they were able to find a way to deliver a final finale that didn't feel like it was necessarily rehashing things we'd seen in other potential finales all while putting a bow on five years of the spy dramedy.

And, of course, any time you can have Jeffster save the day by taking on an 80's hit, you've got a winner.  (Though in all fairness, it wasn't quite as amazingly funny as season two's "Mr. Roboto" performance.  Part of that is probably the surprise factor in that one).

Looking back, I can see how and why season five developed as it did, even if I think the whole Morgan has the intersect plotline was a bit rushed.  But seeing where the journey took us made that all a bit more worthwhile, even if I wish they'd explored it a bit more.  I still think the high point was earlier this season with Chuck taking on Shaw in the Buy More and pulling a Superman II moment to remove the Intersect from Shaw and allow them to fight on equal ground.*

*Plus the whole homage of Shaw being played by Brandon Routh is pretty darn cool.


At its best Chuck was one of the most entertaining shows on TV with plenty of sly winks to fans.  It had some of the best guest casting of any show out there, primarily because it based the characters certain guests played on their reputation.  This allowed for the show to quickly get into the meat and potatoes of the story without long exposition scenes and it also allowed for sly commentary on each guest star.  Again, Shaw worked well because he was played by Routh, though the show really didn't get much better than Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula as guest stars in season two.

Revisiting pivotal moments from the Chuck/Sarah relationship helped the finale keep moving, but it also tempted me to pull out the Blu-Rays and start over from the beginning to watch things unfold all over again.
I will admit that part of me was pretty nitpicky and wondered if Sarah has had the Intersect removed from her brain or if it's still in there and she just can't access it because she doesn't recall how.  And while I like Elle and Awesome getting a happy ending, the whole "we've got our dream jobs and are moving" felt a bit too much like an obvious series finale type of moment.

But I'm willing to let all of that slide and call the finale "near perfect" because it did what Chuck did best.  And the final scene on the beach as Chuck and Sarah begin to fall in love all over again was exactly how the series should end.

Oh sure, it's no "Guys, I know kung fu," but it was still pretty darn good.


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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/30/2012 06:12:00 AM | |
Friday, January 27, 2012
TV Round-Up: Touch, Alcatraz
Touch

Watching the series premiere of Touch, I had to work awfully hard to get past two things.  One is that after eight years of Kieffer Sutherland playing Jack Bauer, it's hard to see him in a different television role.  The other is that it's hard to get over the disappointment about how quickly Heroes squandered its potential.  And since Touch is from the mind of Tim Kring, it will take a couple of more episodes to really get past that.

But, so far, I have to admit the idea is intriguing enough and I want to see more.  Hopefully, Fox will repeat this pilot episode when the series returns in March.  It feels like one of those shows where recalling details will be critical and a month and a half is long time to forget some of the pilot elements that may have an impact in the overall run of the series.

Alcatraz

As the commercials keep reminding me, J.J. Abrams is in charge of this.  And while the show is trying awfully hard to be cut from the same cloth as Lost, it's not quite as immediately compelling as Lost.  Of course, I have to remind myself that while Lost was good out of the gate, it wasn't until the first Locke episode that it went from an interesting show to I will never miss an episode ever again type of show.  

I think the show needs to find a better balance from being a hybrid of a procedural (wacky criminal from the past comes forward and we investigate) and the overall long-term mythology of things (why did they all vanish? What is Sam Neill's role in all of this?  Why did the female doctor who got shot not age?  Why the underground facility?)  I certainly hope the series learned a lesson or two from Lost in that we get answers just as often as we get new questions.   Piling on too many questions may not work in the long term--at least not without a bit more investment in the characters.

But again, I'm intrigued enough to add it to the DVR rotation and watch a few more episodes.  It's produced by J.J. Abrams and that gives me hope.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/27/2012 01:47:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Thirty-Nine
Jack Benny stopped counting birthdays at the age of thirty-nine.*  The first time I heard that joke, thirty-nine seemed kind of old.  Today as I turn thirty-nine for the first time, it doesn't seem nearly as old as it once did in my younger years.

*Well, at least his carefully crafted comic character persona did. 


Looking back on the past thirty-eight years, I can see how amazingly blessed I am.   Even just casting my memory back over the past year, it's been a great one.  I got to take a trip to Disney World with my family, married my best friend, completed my third indoor triathlon and half-marathon (actually, ran half a mile longer, but who's counting?!?), welcomed the arrival of a new niece and much, much more.  Oh sure, last year was arguably the worst year in the history of Tennessee athletics but that can only mean that the foundation is in place for my thirty-ninth year to be memorable for good reasons.**

**It wasn't helped by that pathetic display of basketball I witnessed last evening when the Vols played UGA.  I must be a true orange and white fan to endure THAT! 


During the year, I read a lot of books, watched a lot of TV and televised sports, saw some movies and listened to some music.   As for what is ahead in my thirty-ninth year, I can only say I'm looking forward to what's in store.

And since forty is the new thirty, I may not be like Jack Benny and actually keep counting my birthdays from this point forward.  Or maybe not.  Time will tell.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/19/2012 09:06:00 AM | |
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Changes
My local Y is undergoing some changes.  It's the first of the year, so that means we've got new machines, new members and this year, a whole new logo and set of signs posted around the building.

I nearly wept with joy with I saw the list of posted guidelines for the lap pool.  At the top of the list was the statement that the lap pool is reserved for lap swimmers.*   Of course, this could all be tested the first time the rec pool is shut down due to a chemical imbalance or the discovery of waste material in the pool.  (Nice way of saying someone pooped in the pool).  The list of guidelines also includes instructions on how to share the lane and the direction that should be used when circle swimming occurs.**

*Assuming we don't have water aerobics, swim team or some other activity scheduled, that is!

**The only guideline I feel was overlooked was the one saying that if you are going to share a lane, you really should have a pair of goggles.  It's a win-win for everyone.  Your fellow lap swimmers don't have to dodge you because you can't see clearly where you're going and who is in the lane with you and you don't have the pain and/or stigma of chlorine eyes all the rest of the day.  On the downside, sales of Visine my drop. 

Of course, these new guidelines assume a couple of things.  One is that people will actually read and follow them.   And based on what I've experienced in other areas of the Y during the first few weeks of the New Year, I put the odds on this one pretty low.  I can't tell you how many people have annoyed me and I've probably annoyed because people can't/won't read the guidelines on how to use the indoor track.  (Runners to the outside lane, walkers to the inside!)  I think part of the confusion comes from the middle lane, which I think should be the passing lane and not the "let's all saunter around, visiting each other and drinking coffee" lane.  

The second assumption is that those in positions of authority at the Y will enforce the guidelines/rules.   

On that count, I'm taking a wait and see attitude.  But I'm kind of hopeful that things may turn out OK.  Maybe...hopefully...


posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/18/2012 12:09:00 PM | |
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