Sunday, February 1, 2009

Everybody Loves TV!

Spoilers below...

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Every season, there's at least one episode of 24 where the show actually lives up to the promise of constant tension. There are 3 substantial plot threads going on at once: Tony and Jack are forced to kill Emmerson but must still convince Pres. Motobu to go ahead and turn himself in to Dubaku so that they can find out where Dubaku is hiding. Needless to say, Motobu will probably be dead in an hour, just like everyone else who relied on Jack for their survival. In another plot, the evil Secret Service agent murders Carly Pope, and then prepares to stage a murder-suicide involving Carly and the incapacitated First Husband. Apparently, the evil agent takes a lot of bathroom breaks, since it takes him the better part of an hour to get everything ready, and by the time he's done the First Husband has recovered enough to get some revenge.

In the least entertaining plot, the President refuses to give in to Dubaku's threats, and orders the military to invade Sangala despite the promise of further attacks on Americans. So apparently, she's unwilling to delay an invasion for a few hours, which would almost certainly save American lives and give her agents more time to find Dubaku. I know the writers are all Bush-lovers, but their defense of neo-con interventionism has become completely absurd. No American president would risk American lives for a purely humanitarian intervention in Africa. And while not negotiating with terrorists makes sense as a general policy, being President is about making hard choices that go against your instincts. Of course, the politics of this show being what it is, the President will be proven right.

House: Big Baby
In the patient-of-the-week plot, an obnoxiously upbeat special-needs teacher starts coughing up blood. Needless to say, House hates her. To make matters worse for him, Cuddy takes some time off and puts Cameron in charge, while she tries and tries to bond with her ugly baby. In the second b-plot, Foreman considers ruining a drug trial so that Thirteen can get the real meds rather than the placebo.

As per usual, House gets his way. Cameron develops a backbone for all of three seconds, but ultimately caves in to House, much like Cuddy always does. After being vomited on by Cuddy's kid, House eventually figures out that the patient has a weird genetic defect in her heart. Things work out for Cuddy too, who has a miracle bonding experience with the child after making an absurd call to House in the middle of a surgery. Meanwhile, Foreman switches drug samples for Thirteen's sake, and almost certainly sets himself up to get fired, and possibly lose his medical license.

I was a little hesitant about the Cuddy-as-Mommy plot, but it is actually starting to shape up as a good development for the character. And while I still think the Foreman-Thirteen relationship is boring, I can't help but be curious what the consequences for Foreman will be.

Burn Notice: Hot Spot
Michael Weston's case-of-the-week involves a protective older brother who is now being hunted by a local gang. As usual, rather than simply kill the gangster, Michael develops a convoluted scheme that involves tricking the gangster into thinking that a rival syndicate is moving in on his car theft ring. Eventually, Michael tricks the gangster's boss into killing the thug for him. As with last week's episode, this tactic has been used by Michael before in at least two episodes that I can remember. This show has always had its formula, but at this point it is starting to repeat specific plot points from past episodes.

Slightly better is the b-plot involving Carla and the search for the man who planted the bomb in Michael's loft. While throwing Carla off the trail, Michael and Fee identify the bomber, but Fee almost gets burned alive for her trouble. This leads Michael to decide to hook up with Fee again, but next morning Carla shows up, offering a none-to-veiled threat. The episode ends on an interesting note that leaves me hopeful for next week.

Battlestar Galactica: The Oath
Gaeta and Zarek stage their insurrection, and in short order Zarek is in charge on Colonial One again, half the main cast is thrown in the brig, and Rosslyn and Baltar are fleeing to the Cylon baseship. This episode is practically all action, with plenty of human-on-human violence over whether to form an alliance with the Cylon rebels. Having done little but brood for the last two episodes, Kara finally gets to commit violence again and goes not a little gun-crazy.

My only issue with this episode involves the final scene. After Gaeta declares mutiny, Adama and Ty are led to the brig. They manage to escape from custody and work their way to the same storage bay as Rosslyn. However, rather than escape from Galactica with Rosslyn, they hold the fort to ensure that her shuttle escapes. While this sounds heroic on paper, there's nothing in the scene that indicates that Gaeta or his marines had any real way of preventing the shuttle from escaping. Instead, the scene exists solely to set up a silly cliffhanger that was already ruined by the previews for next week.

Nitpicks aside, I can't even imagine how the writers will resolve this conflict without killing half the cast, or if that is what they actually plan to do in the remaining episodes. That sort of uncertainty is why I love this show.

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