Sunday, February 8, 2009

TV: What's Worth Watching? (2/1 - 2/7)

Spoilers below...

2:00 - 3:00 pm

Quick summary: shoot, shoot, kill, explosion, shoot, explosion, kill.

Dubaku uses the MacGuffin device to implausibly start a build-up of dangerous gases in an Ohioan chemical plant. A brave, mid-Western man sacrifices himself to save America (or a small piece of it anyway) while the FBI flails about uselessly, as usual. Jack, Tony, and Bill Buchanan takes matters into their own hands and kill 90% of the bad guys in a bravura gun battle. The MacGuffin device is destroyed, and the nonsensical computer threat is over. However, Dubaku escapes and kidnaps the still alive First Gentleman (which is a dumb title, shouldn't he at least be the First Lord? Isn't Lord the masculine counterpart to Lady?).

On the one hand, this episode was action-packed, and there's just something inherently amusing about this team of vigilantes going around and doing the government's job for it. On the other hand, it's usually at this point, when the bad guys switch from their A-plot to their backup plan, that the season goes off the rails. This season seems to be slightly better scripted than previous ones, since the backup plan isn't some insane B-plot that could only happen if every tiny thing fell perfectly into place for the bad guy. Rather, the bad guys seem to be improvising with what they have given that their original plan is fucked. Of course, the usual qualifications that there's no way all this stuff would happen in a 24-hour period still apply, but if you're still watching the show, you've made your piece with its formula.

House: The Greater Good

The patient of the week is a talented doctor who quit her job so she could enjoy her remaining years with frivolous pursuits. Karma catches up with her in the form of a truly crazy ailment. Unlike prior episodes, the writers manage to tie the sub-plots together using the unifying theme of personal pleasure vs. professional fulfillment. Taub is professionally fulfilled, but starts to consider having a baby. Cuddy is still trying to balance the job she loves and her new baby. Foreman is placed in a position where he might have to choose between his girlfriend and his career.

Unfortunately, all these plots gel together only with a lot of bizarre behavior coming from various characters. Cuddy displays her anger at House for "forcing" her to come back to work by performing a bunch of juvenile pranks, which ultimately amount to nothing. House, uncharacteristically as well, doesn't prank her back. Foreman is unusually dumb this episode, and nearly throws away his medical career.

It doesn't help matters either that this is yet another episode that focuses heavily on Thirteen, a character who's gone from being the writers' pet to being the undeclared co-lead of House.

Burn Notice: Seek and Destroy

This episode depresses me, because it highlights what Burn Notice could have been if the writers hadn't chosen to stick with the predictable formula of Michael Weston helps out the sad-sack of the week. The episode actually starts off with an interesting plot where Michael is drawn into the world of art dealing and corporate espionage. It seems like an interesting job, and it actually pays real money, but the writers ultimately turn it into a conventional murder storyline, complete with pretty, grieving daughter.

The long-term plot involving the bomber who tried to kill Michael plays a little better, and we get to see Michael use some very nifty shotguns armed with water balloons. But even that plot is bogged down a bit with a tired, will-they-won't-they subplot involving Michael and Fee. It also doesn't help that Michael is forced to team up with the dumbest arms dealer in the world, a character who is clearly intended as comic relief, and is therefore completely unfunny.

I'm starting to think I'm over this series. I still enjoy the spy stuff, but the rest of the show feels tired and repetitive.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood on the Scales

The writers of this series have clearly embraced Shakespeare's approach to plot resolution. When in doubt, start killing off everyone. It's a testament to the quality of the writing (with the bonus that the show is wrapping up) that any character, even the leads, are potentially fair game. Zarek and Gaeta attempt to cement their coup with a few kangeroo court trials and mass murders. It all falls apart, as these things do, when the coup plotters discover that an underling willing to betray one master is more than capable of doing so again.

There are some nice character moments, including a wonderful exchange between Tyrol and a heretofore minor character, as well as the return of Head-Six, action hero Rollo Lampkin, and some great scenes with Gaeta and Adama.

But my favorite scenes involved Rosslyn on the Cylon baseship. Tory, true to her self-serving nature, convinces the other Cylons to run away before the mutineers turn against them. It takes Rosslyn all of about two minutes to bully the Cylons into doing whatever she wants, and from that point on you have a very pissed off woman commanding a very large warship.

This show continues to be outstanding, and I can't wait to see how it all ends.

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