Category Archives: 24

Network Upfronts Extravaganza – ‘FOX’ Preview

It’s going to end up as the #1 network this season due to the American Idol juggernaut. And yet, can we really say that FOX has had a successful year? It’s to the point now where we really can’t even include Idol in the show’s ratings in order to get a decent view into its true success. The reality is that FOX had a rough development season, failing to put together a single new show that was buzzworthy except for the one they gave a shot after American Idol in the second half of the season…and a game show. The network looks to diversify that success yet again this season, and they’ve got a few options on the table which could get them there…and some which are just plain awful.

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Filed under 'Til Death, 24, American Idol, Bones, Drive, FOX, House, Prison Break, Ratings, Reality TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television, The O.C., Upfronts

The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Special “HD” Edition

This is, indeed, a special edition of the Superpower Bauer Hour, one which annoys me to no end. You see, while the old Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown was designed to see which of the two shows was better in terms of quality and ratings, this is a different showdown. While I failed to bring the showdown back thanks to, well, my complete disinterest in 24, this evening presents a new kind of showdown: which of these two shows shall be watched in HD?

You see, Global (Canadian TV Network for those unaware) has been airing Heroes an hour earlier (8pm EST), as it has to air 24 as well. This has been great for Canadian fans who want to get their Heroes fix as soon as possible…at least I thought so until last Monday evening. When, at 9pm Atlantic Time, I turned to Global HD to find Heroes…

in Standard Definition.

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Cultural Feedback: SNL’s Sofa King, 24’s Final Act

In the midst of a current wave of fairly heavy hits regarding Saturday Night Live and its Digital Short, I’m going to press my luck and see if anyone actually has an opinion on some things. I’ve been receiving from feedback with certain opinions (See: Scrubs/30 Rock), but there certainly hasn’t been a whole lot of comments. Feedback is an important thing, so I’d like to see if you could help me out with two things.

Why is this Funny?

“Sofa King”

First, to those SNL fans out there…why is Sofa King funny? I’ve watched this skit a few more times after seeing it originally, and I’ve still yet to figure out what makes this particular skit worthy of so many google searches yesterday. Can anyone explain to me its charms?

I just can’t, for the life of me, figure out what is funny about this skit. If anyone can provide some context, that would be fantastic, because I’m just not getting it.

[Edit: Um, I’m officially an idiot and totally missed the entire punchline of the skit (For those silly like me, treat “Sofa King Great” as a Mad Lib), but I still think that it’s a one-note skit that has some really weird elements like twitchy songs and a lack of any material other than that…so I’m still lost on its real appeal. But I’m still an idiot. Oy Vey.]

What’s your Thoughts?

24’s Final Act

Second, the sixth season of 24 is heading into its final act tonight as Jack heads out in an attempt to save Audrey’s life. I doubt that anyone really thought she was dead, I’m sure, but I’m curious if anyone else maybe had any thoughts about the season thus far. We’re through 17 episodes, and I know that there’s some people who have stopped watching. Considering that last week featured perhaps the best sequence of the season, do you think things are back on track? Is the season’s new direction a good one, or was the old plot wrapped up too quickly?

I’m of two minds on this one. I think the first plot wrapped up without true resolution, and on the whole was a waste of time outside of its beginning and its end, and so I think a better resolution could have come with more time. That said, I think that a Jack-centric final narrative is in the show’s best interest…although Presidential affairs should be an interesting challenge.

So if you’ve got an opinion, do let it be known!

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Cultural Catchup: April 2nd-9th

Okay, so there’s isn’t a whole lot I didn’t get a chance to comment on, but I figure I’ll fill in some gaps here.


Ahead of tonight’s episode, I am perhaps the least interested in the season thus far. To be honest, there just isn’t anything really interesting happening at this particular point. Sure, Fahed has been captured and Gredenko is off bleeding into the pacific, and President Palmer has launched a nuclear missile, but I just don’t care at this point. When 24’s president launches a nuclear bomb, I should at least care; in this case, I thought it was ridiculous but didn’t overly care about its intended target (Especially when, although it’s for good reason, it’s known as ‘Fahed’s country in the Middle East’). At this point, something needs to happen which totally changes the way we look at the series, or at least provides an interesting construct. Jack going from torture session to torture session is not, in my view, interesting television, no matter how hard Kiefer Sutherland tries. They need to get back on their feet, ASAP on this one…we’ll see how they manage this evening.


This week’s episode of Lost, “Left Behind,” was unfortunately recapless here at Cultural Learnings due to the two 3500 word papers due on Thursday. However, I did get a chance to watch the episode live, and I must say it was quite enjoyable. We didn’t get any major revelations (Although the Smoke Monster flashes now), but we did get a great setup for future episodes. Juliet being integrated into the castaways is a fantastic way to move forward, as it makes a romantic square out of Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet that I think works well. Plus, by uniting some characters together for the first time I think there’s a chance for some new dynamics, and some interesting changes heading into the final portion of the show’s season. It’s picking up a whole ton of momentum at this stage, and I’m guessing it will do quite well with it. This week’s episode promises to bring Jack back to the beach for the first time all season, and I’m sure we’ll see some spark fly between he and Sawyer.

American Idol

Gina Glocksen going home was annoying, but none too surprising. The real question right now is whether or not we’re heading for our 2nd all-female final between Lakisha and Melinda. I think that Jordin is the most likely to get Tamyra’d or Hudson’d in this scenario, perhaps exiting before Blake, but those two seem relatively unstoppable. Only time will tell what happens to Sanjaya, but in all honesty I couldn’t really be bothered.


While I’m certainly still watching, I’m not too perplexed with this season of Survivor at this stage. I think that the merge upcoming this week will shake things up fairly well, but there’s just nothing to really shock me in the meantime. That said, this past week’s episode featured the awesome archery/spear powers of Yao Man, who basically destroyed everyone else with his unorthodox style. It’s nice to see someone like him sticking around, and perhaps even moving into a position to get into the final four. However, I have to think that the old guy who everyone likes is going to be pretty well doomed in a final three situation. No one will take him into it, and he’s far too weak to last in an endurance challenge of strength. Still, if the challenge is suited to him, he could well end up the Survivor champion. That would be a breath of fresh air, in my book.


The episode last night was fantastic, and I am officially already annoyed that I have to wait an entire week after watching the rest back-to-back-to-back-to…you get the idea. The breakup between Ari and Vince being handled like an actual breakup was absolutely fantastic, with Lloyd and Drama on either side to help establish the scenario in their respectively awesome ways. It’s so funny that Vince is finally at the centre of the show’s drama; so often Eric gets placed as the real centre of things, but in this episode he was the money and the occasional mouthpiece. Vince is really running the show right now, and as the end of the episode shows this was a rather terrible idea. One person who certainly thinks so is new agent Amanda, who is played by the ridiculously stunning Carla Gugino. Pitting Ari against a power-female isn’t anything new (They do it with Mrs. Ari all the time), but it works extremely well here, and I think the episode bodes well for the rest of the season.

The Amazing Race

It’s really too bad that last night’s episode was quite so anti-climactic, because it contained some potentially exciting elements. Just one flight can kill a team, and it doesn’t make for great television. It does, however, make picking a winner incredibly hard.However, I’m nonetheless officially going to put on my “Prediction” hat and perhaps jinx a few racers in the process. As a result, here is my predicted finish order for The Amazing Race: All Stars.

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Filed under 24, American Idol, Entourage, Lost, Reality TV, Survivor, Television, The Amazing Race

Cultural Catchup: March 21st-26th

While I may yet do some CUSID related blogging, I figure that I should at the very least acknowledge that my absence has not coincided with a stoppage of television-related news and events. Considering the fact that I’m currently recovering from some pressure-related troubles from the flight home, as well as a lack of sleep/nutrition resulting in relative illness, I’m not quite in the business of writing up individual posts of great length in regards to some of the week’s events. So, let’s do a little bit of Cultural Catchup.

Wednesday March 21st

Survivor: Fiji

While it was certainly not the show’s most eventful episode, it was at the very least a recognition that things needed to be shaken up a little bit in terms of the show’s dynamics. I think that this shuffling of the teams actually accomplished quite a lot; by shaking up some alliances, some individuals (Like Boo) became far more endearing. His performance in the challenge was a sign of leadership, something which Moto never seemed to worry about before. He showed an ability to step up, perhaps more than any other individual, without seeming like a complete asshole in the process.

Meanwhile, while the episode was redeeming for some, it did little for the men of the new Ravu tribe. And, I think this goes both ways; the manly men for their treatment of Anthony, and Anthony for being so darn self-defeatist and clueless about it. I don’t get his attitude; he’s a nerd, so he just accepts that he can’t do these things? His self esteem may have been challenged in the past, sure, but he seemed more than capable of assisting them in collecting word or starting a fire. His ostracization by the rest of his tribe was unfortunate, but I would place at least a majority of the blame on his own attitude. As much as we nerds have to stick together, I can’t justify his reaction without wondering how he could be so clueless.

Also, small note: the preview for next week is just the first of two “Person falls down and it’s funny” segments on CBS this week. And I found it far too funny, especially since I like Michelle.

Thursday March 22nd

Ugly Betty

The battle between Alexis and Daniel heated up this week, and…well, I felt like the show was reverting back to weeks past without recognizing the tangible change in these characters’ relationship. They haven’t been truly at odds for weeks, and I found it more than a little convenient to just ramp up their actions. If this storyline shall remain central, and it appears it shall, I can only hope that the contents of Daniel’s letter get out into the open. And soon.

That said, the rest of the episode brought some nice moments. Betty posing as Marc’s girlfriend was charming, and the moment with Henry was absolutely heartbreaking. The writing continued to be sharp in terms of dialogue, and it’s good to see a positive side to Marc’s character again. The show is still searching, I feel, for its drive forward to a finale, and I’m hoping that next week could help in this endeavor. Henry + Betty needs to happen, dangit. Also, as some google searches foretold, the episode featured the arrival of Max Greenberg (‘Veronica Mars’, ‘The O.C.’) as Alexis’ new assistant.

Andy Barker P.I. and Scrubs

The 2nd week for Andy Barker P.I. was a fairly good one, and I would consider it to be a success on the whole. Nicole’s transfer into Andy’s office was incredibly well-handled, and it was good to see the comedic and melodramatic detective drama/action meld together so well. The show is forming an identity, which could be bittersweet when the axe likely falls come May.

As for Scrubs, as I noted in a comment to my post regarding its possible cancellation, I think that this week’s episode was good. I was incredibly frustrated by the way Dr. Cox and Laverne had their discussions regarding faith. One of the problems I’ve had with Scrubs lately is that these moral discussions seem very forced. Dr. Cox becomes a complete jerk in these conversations in order for his episodic shift to feel more powerful. It’s rather manipulative, and forgets a lot of character development in past seasons. That said, the episode’s emotional conclusion was quite powerful, which is a feat for the show at this point.

Grey’s Anatomy

I hereby refuse to discuss this show until George and Izzie somehow go back in time and not have sex. Continue reading


Filed under 24, Grey's Anatomy, Reality TV, Scrubs, Survivor, Television, The Amazing Race, Ugly Betty

Flirting With Disaster: The Top Ten ’24’ Romances

This week’s episode of 24, perhaps more than any other this season, contained a great deal of palpable romantic tension. After Chloe decides to kiss Morris in order to check his breath for alcohol, Morris said it best: “Gotta love this place.” The episode was filled with reminders of those romantic tensions: Jack’s revelation regarding Audrey’s apparent death in China, Marilyn’s attempt to get herself some Jack lovin’, Milo’s attraction to Nadia being brought into question, and, of course, Chloe’s snogging of Morris.

24, despite being quite the serious show dealing with international disasters, thrilling action scenes, and large explosions, has always had a certain romantic component to it. While it has never been arrested by these romantic endeavors, overcome by the sheer love of its characters, some of these relationships stand as memorable moments from seasons past and present. There might not be the level of shipping that is seen on other shows, since a lot of these people proceeded to be killed, but there is certainly some affairs to root for.

So, without further adieu, the Top Ten ‘24’ Romances. I’d like to acknowledge that, although not a conscious ripoff, I have to send props over to Erin and Matt over at “BE Something” for their fantastic Top 10 lists and television discussion.

10. Mandy and Everything That Moves

She blew up an airplane to open the show’s very first episode. She attempted to assassinate President Palmer with a crazy hand virus in Season Two. She withheld information from an important investigation into Marwan’s location in Season Four. Mandy has certainly had her fair share of involvement in 24’s more serious plot points.

And yet, she’ll always be the hot lesbian. She’ll always be the one who uses her sexuality to get the job done, and the one whose return illicits sweaty palms across the world. Her romance with every single character she encounters is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the show’s most interesting, and most pervasive. With her presidential pardon in place, she’s capable of returning whenever the producers desire to have her to do so. I can’t wait to see who she seduces next.

9. Chase and Kim

I figure we had to work Kim in here somewhere; although I was much more tempted to include the Cougar or the crazed bomb shelter maniac, her relationship with Chase was one that played a fairly substantial role in Season Three’s storyline. It had a small child involved, some inter-office tension, and the whole issue of dating your father’s partner.

In a season which was all about personal relationships, this one actually managed to make a fair amount more impact than Kim’s other relationships. It never seemed to get in the way of the storyline outside of its normal dramatic intervention, which is what’s best for these type of romances.

8. Jack and Audrey

Most relevant this week, these two certainly faced quite a few difficult situations over the span of two seasons. They were always a little disconnected, but their relationship was threatened when Jack basically killed her ex-husband by forcing doctors to operate on another man instead. That’s kind of a buzzkill, when you think about it.

And yet, their love survived that and so much more. Perhaps more than any other of Jack’s post-season one romances, these two actually seemed to gain traction; this week alone, Jack was suddenly struck with a desire to speak to Audrey, even while Marilyn offered to sex him up. That shows a sense of commitment that we’ll be seeing more of for the future.

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Jack Bauer Power Hour Rewind: Week One

With Heroes on hiatus for a number of weeks, and 24 continuing to truck along with new episodes due to its half-season schedule, it is necessary to retire the Superpower Bauer Hour for a while. However, I don’t think I could go a Monday without some indepth analysis of everyone’s favourite torture-filled hour? However, of course, it’s nice to have something to compare it to, but what is there that could compare to Jack Bauer?

The answer? Jack Bauer.

It’s a popular sport to compare the various seasons of 24, and I’ve oft been known to engage in such discussions with great conviction. There’s no question that each season has its own style, its own flow, but which season stands out the most? And, specifically at this portion of the season, how was each “Day” dealing with its multiple storylines? These are important questions that I believe could perhaps be answered as we head back into Jack’s past to analysis the 13th hour of each season this week in the Jack Bauer Power Hour Showdown.

24: The 13th Hour

Season Six

This season’s 13th episode was dealing with two specific story threads which each held up fairly well in the episode.

1. Black Ops

The introduction of Mike Doyle, our Black Ops specialist, is an interesting one purely because it replaces Curtis who died earlier this season. It’s always strange to see these types of activities done without Jack’s involvement, and I always wonder to what extent Doyle will play a role in future episodes. He’s joining the cast, we know this much, but it’s still a bit strange to see.

Jack might not have had much to do in the scenario, but the huge gunfight to end the episode is certainly more than enough to make up for any lack of action in the earlier portion of the episode. We don’t see many missions like this very often, so when they get a chance to just plain ol’ open fire on a consulate, it’s something to talk about.

2. International and Interpersonal Intrigue

I was typing the above Black Ops portion of this post when I stopped everything and nearly screamed. Martha Logan, hysteric and delusional but certainly fairly stable, suddenly turned on a dime and plunged a knife into the right side of her ex-husband’s chest. The audible gasp was something that only 24 is able to accomplish to the same degree.

The characterization of Martha and Charles Logan was stunning in the fifth season, leading to Emmy nominations for both Jean Smart and Gregory Itzin. The madness of it all continues here, and it continues to be a stunning piece of acting from these two. Here, even as its contrived into the international conflict at the episode’s centre, it just plain old works.

Mind you, I do wish that we wouldn’t have ended the episode with Logan on his death bed, but the way the situation was resolved seemed natural if a tad fast. More importantly, it was all balanced quite well, which is always the toughest problem for an episode of 24.

And, on top of this, we end the episode with word that one of the bombs is ready to launch, and the threat is once again increased. On the whole, the episode set up a fair amount of constructs for future weeks, and resolved the consulate conflict. A fairly eventful episode I’d say.

However, how does it compare to the other 13th hours in the show’s history? If you’re curious, continue reading after the break.

[SPOILER NOTE: Plot details of the first five seasons will be discussed in medium detail, so if you haven’t watched them yet and plan to stay away! Well, actually, I shouldn’t be turning people away. So stay and watch them later, they’ll be just as exciting]

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The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week Seven

Well, here we are in what might well be our final episode of the Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown until late April. While I plan on continuing to analyze 24 as it continues for the next month, it will be kind of hard to compare it to an on hiatus Hereoes, no? I’ll figure things out as we go along as to how we’ll weather this break in new episodes. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we still have a final showdown which will determine the show that grabs the lead as they head down the home stretch.

Round One: Overall Quality
The big problem with 24 right now is that it seems to be back inside its cozy little bubble of international diplomacy and government organizations. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m as glad as anyone that we didn’t get any extraneous “Morris the Alcoholic” moments; however, it seems as if we’ve forgotten the civilian perspective on things. I almost miss Sandra Palmer, if only because we at least got to see how this affected someone not officially part of a government body.

This episode had some diplomatic tensions between Russia and the U.S., as well as some Jack Bauer moments in the consulate, but it just felt somehow small scale considering its subject matter. Lennox’s moral stand against the VP is admirable, and the framing of Al-Assad is a natural plot development, but yet everything at the White House seems stale (Here’s hoping that Karen’s return picks things up a little).

This episode certainly sent us into some better territory, however, by involving Subarov and the fact that it appears to open the door for the arrival of some other familiar faces next week. With things being so claustrophobic as of late, we need an expansion of the environment ASAP.


You all know how much I loved last week’s episode of Heroes, which is why it pains me to admit that it’s downgraded itself slightly once again. With the opposite problem of 24, Heroes needs to go into small-scale mode more often. This week’s episode contained the conclusion of advancement of pretty much every one of the show’s character arcs, and yet I felt as if nothing had been resolved. It ended on a huge cliffhanger, and yet I honestly felt no emotional connection to the proceedings.

Peter’s plight at the end of the episode was lifeless to me because Peter has been lifeless to me for weeks; he didn’t encounter Sylar for a reason, he just randomly walked into Mohinder’s apartment. He spent the episode invisible barely emerging from the woodwork to chat with his brother; this was not Peter’s episode. After last week belonged to Mr. Bennet, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to his character; and, to be honest, why should I care about Peter outside of the show’s desire for me to do so?

Peter has to earn that level of connection, in my view, and the writers haven’t given us a good reason to do so. Sure, he has his scar, and his future dealings with Hiro, but why couldn’t this have been a Peter episode? Honestly, if we had had more of his dealings with Claude, more time spent on his personal psyche, and a proper buildup, Peter’s confrontation with Sylar could have been a moment to remember. Instead, it was just a chunk of hair and droplets of blood on the ground.

The episode was fine, with none of the storylines standing out as particularly offensive, but nothing clicked for me. Malcolm McDowell’s arrival as the mysterious Linderman was well-handled, and the reveal of Grandma Petrelli was certainly interesting, but it just seemed like nothing got a chance to seem final, climactic. Say what you will about that island show, but it never tries to accomplish too much in a single episode; Heroes might attack the senses, but it sells the show’s characters short in the end.


Round Two: Ratings

Things aren’t too surprising on this front, the real drama will be how 24 performs in Heroes’ multiple-week absence.


NBC’s dominance continued at 9 p.m., with bona fide hit Heroes at 14.90 million viewers and a 6.6/16 among adults 18-49.

24 (Fox)
Viewers: 13.01 million (#3), A18-49: 4.9/12 (#2)

Continued Heroes dominanace, although 24 continues to perform well.

Round Three: The Torturous Truth

So, considering that torture has become a bit of a sore point for 24’s producers in recent weeks, let’s take a look at each show’s depiction of torture. It’s Jack Bauer vs. Sylar in the ultimate battle of evil tactics.

Torturer: Jack Bauer (‘24’)

Torturee: Russian Consul

Weapon(s) of Choice: Gun, Fist, Cigar Cutter

Damage inflicted: Bloody/Broken Nose, severed finger above top knuckle.

It wasn’t one of Jack’s most memorable torture jobs, but he was a bit rushed for time; after all, he wasn’t exactly carrying around anything that could do real damage. The consul wasn’t the most ideal torture victim, as he was winces in pain more than someone with real conviction; the job was almost too easy, in a way.

However, that said, it was still an effective tactic, and he got the information out of him in a satisfactory manner despite the unfortunate blasting open of the door.

Torturer: Sylar (‘Heroes’)

Torturees: Mohinder and Peter

Weapon of Choice: Crazy Super Powers

Damage inflicted: Places captive on ceiling, multiple flesh wounds to first victim, large head wound/hair cut to second victim.

Sylar certainly inflicted more damage than Jack did, but he also has the distinct advantage of crazy powers. He was certainly effective, but let’s consider his subjects: Mohinder is pretty much inept at any task you place in front of him, and Peter was unprepared when he walked into the situation.

While he certainly got the better of the battle, his end purpose of eating Peter’s brain might be tough to accomplish with the healing and all, so his actual effectiveness is all dependent on what happens next.

So, who goes into the break with a 4-3 lead? Continue reading

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The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week Six

Only two more weeks of the SBHS remain before Heroes goes on an extended hiatus and the Jack Bauer Power Hour returns. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m handling that, or the fact that Global is now airing Heroes on Sunday nights, but for now let’s stick to our formula. Actually, speaking of formulas, pay close attention to Round Three of this week’s showdown.

Round One: Overall Quality

24 has officially found itself in the middle of its usual 2nd Quarter lull. Much similar to Tony’s return to the show in Season Four, the return to Logan is fine from a character standpoint but lacks a whole lot of drama for me. There was a great moment where he selected an American flag pin out of his box, and the character’s motivations were always compelling, but his turnaround from bumbling idiot to mastermind of last season’s plot wasn’t believable then and it isn’t believable now. I like the character, I like Gregory Itzin’s performance, and I liked the drama that was created through the character of Martha Logan as well.

However, his character shift midseason was just too unbelievable, and it’s hurting my ability to take his current situation seriously. It seems all too convenient, too insular; would a President in that position seriously get house arrest without any public knowledge of the actions at hand? How would that not leak out in this day and age except in some sort of heavily censored media? I know that Surnow’s a conservative, but I didn’t have him pegged for a Stalinist as well.

The rest of the episode centered on Morris’ alcoholism (Snore) and the plot to kill President Palmer. My biggest problem with this storyline is how isolated it all is. We’ve got a boiler room and a small conference room within the presidential bunker, having lost all of the scale of the show entirely. Jack and Logan were isolated in the ranch (Still a great set, but it’s limiting), and CTU seemed smaller than usual. It just felt like this was a complete budget saving episode outside of the explosion at the end, and even that had no emotional resonance. This week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica was similarly small scale in many ways, but it had real ramifications. This was all too pedestrian, and when the bomb went off at the end and Assad was killed and Palmer not…it was just blah.

Heroes, on the other hand, was most certainly the best hour of television that Tim Kring and company have produced thus far. Written by Bryan Fuller (‘Wonderfalls’), the episode was everything an hour of television should be. It was tense, suspenseful, explosive, detailed, nuanced, emotional, expository (In a good way) and even connected some unexpected dots such as the core roles of both George Takei and Christopher Eccelston to the main storyline. On top of all of this, it was most important the indepth characterization of the man we once knew as Horn-Rimmed Glasses.

We got more details regarding Mr. Bennet this week than in the rest of the series combined, and we still don’t even know his first name. We gained a better understanding of how he had entered into his job at “Primatech,” and his relationship to Claire and its development over the years. His motives suddenly make sense; he was going after Chandra Suresh because he represented a threat to his daughter’s secret. The idea that he’s just an employee makes perfect sense, and fits in with his character motivations, and his relationship with the Haitian makes a whole lot of sense.

However, even forgetting the amazingly constructed back story of Mr. Bennet, the show also did great things for the character of Matt Parkman. The character has been floundering, but it has now found itself both a source of income and a purpose. Parkman is the perfect candidate for the buddy program, and I think that his dynamic with Bennet could bring his storyline some purpose and give us a chance to enter new and better territory on a regular basis. Because, if they can emulate the success of this episode, they’re on the right path.

I’ll say it right now: this episode will be the one that gives them a chance at being nominated for an Emmy. NBC is going to have a tough choice, as they have Heroes as the buzzworthy drama and Friday Night Lights as the critically acclaimed one. Between last weekend FNL and this week’s Heroes, NBC is in a fine awards position. This episode should also, if there is justice in Emmy nominations, find itself a writing one as well; Bryan Fuller must be commended for his amazing work.

Round Two: Ratings

First off, for those interested, the Black Donnellys premiere drew worse than the Studio 60 premiere did back in the fall, so…ouch. However, on the Heroes/24 side of things…

NBC’s “Heroes,” 8.4/13, took second for the hour, ahead of “24,” 7.9/12,

It’s the usual victory for Heroes, likely in 18-49 as well although more detailed numbers are not available and I’m tired of waiting. We’ll see how this survives after Heroes’ hiatus.

Round Three: Deviations of Formula

It’s something that 24 has struggled with, although with perhaps better success than we all predicted after the show’s first season. Once you pick a formula (See: Jack Bauer saving the world, one terrorist at a time) and run with it, it becomes more and more difficult to deviate from that construct. 24 has choreographed itself so consistently over the years that it’s sometimes a bit of a drag to watch week by week.

This week was an example of this. Jack spent the hour changing clothes at Logan’s estate for the next stage of his journey, his next setpiece if you will. President Palmer faced a threat to his presidency, which always has to occur at a stage like this. The formula dictates that there’s a shakeup at this point, and that there’s a shift signaled by the arrival of Logan. A similar shift occurred in season four when Tony returned, and the story moved in his direction as opposed to the storyline abandoned at that nameless facility Jack had infiltrated.

While last season was perhaps the show’s greatest move away from this formula yet, with the very personal and character based story of the Logans as its centre, this season is right back into the transition episodes and the same rotating pivotal character structure. This isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, but it makes things really predictable. I could have downright written this episode myself, to be honest with you; there was nothing that stood out, nothing that really resonated, no moment that made me look past the formula.

What made it perhaps worse is that I had watched last night’s episode of Heroes before 24, and therefore was fully behind moving away from formula. For those who enjoyed last night’s episode of Heroes, let’s remain aware of the fact that it will likely never be this good again. We still have to deal with the character of Niki on a regular basis, and the nature of the ensemble cast means that things will always be spread too thin. One of the reason Lost’s back stories work is that they allow for characterization (Note: My Z key is finicky, so why do I keep using words with the letter in them?) that is normally impossible in an ensemble drama. Too many of these characters are two-dimensional, lacking the kind of history that Claire and her father have within this universe.

Which is why I hope that Heroes has learned its lesson. While large ensemble episodes like next week’s have their role, let’s remember that any good drama is dependent on strong characters to relate to audiences. They need to be willing to deviate from their formula with episodes like this on a regular basis. The formula of 24 is often so rigid, so predictable, that it can drag down even some of the best acting on TV from Kiefer Sutherland. Heroes can’t get itself into that pattern. I often worry that they “To Be Continued” banner could lead to an attempt to build a cliffhanger into every episode, but this week ignored that entirely and had a fairly resolute ending anyways. Heroes needs to be careful not to fall into the same trap as 24, and to be willing to extend itself like this more often.

Now, all of that being said, let’s end the suspense and get to this week’s winner… Continue reading

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The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week Five


The lateness of this week’s edition of the SPBHS is really quite simple: Snow Football. Alas, due to this diversion, I missed Monday’s episode of Heroes, and due to my departure from university for spring break I was unable to watch it until early Tuesday evening. Will this period between watching the shows impair my judgment? Will knowing the ratings results before watching Heroes change my perception? Stay tuned to find out.

Round One: Overall Quality

24 comes to the table this week with a satisfactory end to last week’s episode. We got an increase in the Milo and Morris tension within the office, some Jack/Marilyn flirtage, and a little bit of good ol’ fashioned Jack being held hostage. On the whole, the episode had a good deal of action, some interesting character drama (Re: Morris’ alcoholism), and an ending that was well worth our time. I worry somewhat about the show’s dependence on bringing back old characters, especially after the mess that Season Four became because of it. While I like Charles Logan as a character, his relationship to this plotline had better be darned good. Still, I’m a fan of the recluse beard, and on the whole the episode delivered a healthy dose of 24 action.

Heroes is balancing a whole lot of storylines right now: Mohinder and Sylar’s Road Trip, Claire’s Memory Challenged Mother, Nathan’s Parentage of Claire, Isaac v. Peter, Peter and his Obi-Wan, Parkman the Jewel Thief, Hiro and Ando’s Las Vegas roadblock, etc. In this episode, it did what was perhaps its best job yet at balancing these issues. We saw Peter use his powers, we saw Obi-Wan pass things onto our Luke, and we even got to see Simone play an actual role in the storyline for the first time (And then die, which perhaps explains the prior as well). Hiro and Ando’s storyline did its purpose of bringing back Hiro’s powers and further developing their relationship, even if it meant the breaking of the Live Long and Prosper Fellowship. There is still some corny dialogue (“What’s that sound…in your heart?” “MURDER”), but the episode moved at a good clip.

Perhaps most importantly, factions are starting to develop, roles are starting to become clear. Radioactive Man and Wireless Girl trying to recruit Parkman, Simone trying to get Nathan to out himself and the others…all of this is actually setting things up for the future we know must be coming. Claire’s storyline is actually gaining some traction, we’re finally returning to figuring out what makes Sylar tick…and Stan Lee the Bus Driver! It’s delightful, really.

Round Two: Ratings


“Heroes” (households: 8.2/12, #5; adults 18-49: 6.0, #1)

“24” (households: 7.9/12, #6; adults 18-49: 5.0, #4)

Heroes takes an all out ratings win this week, with strong performances in the key demos and overall households. 24, however, continues to perform well.

Round Three: Saturn Awards

This week saw the release of the nominees for the Saturn Awards, which honour the best in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Action, Horror, Thrillers, Animation…basically, everything but Drama and Comedy. In the case of Television, they offer up some key acting and series awards in which Heroes and 24 compete against one another. Let’s see how they stack up:


Best Network Series

Best Actor – Kiefer Sutherland



Best Network Series

Best Supporting Actor – Masi Oka

Best Supporting Actor – Greg Grunberg

Best Supporting Actress – Hayden Panettiere

Best Supporting Actress – Ali Larter

Lost led with 6 nominations, but the battle between Heroes and 24 was clearly won by the Super Heroes. Mind you, I would say that both Supporting Actress nominations are less than deserved, and Grunberg hasn’t done enough to deserve awards, but one has to respect their job as being the big buzzworthy program of the past year.

While things might seem a little bit perfunctory, I’m going to leave everyone in suspense anyways. To find out the week’s winner, Continue reading

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