Category Archives: 24

The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week Four

This is going to be a quick one, based on not only time but also a level of disinterest in last night’s episodes…well, one of them anyways. 

Round One: Overall Quality

24 offers two hours, so perhaps it isn’t a fair comparison, but it certainly stepped up to the plate in terms of plot advancement. There was an expansion of the presidential removal conspiracy, the reveal of Gredenko, expansion on Philip Bauer, and some good action scenes (Jack + Shotgun FTW). Things with Morris were perhaps cleaned up a bit too quickly, but that’s just how the show is. 

Heroes, on the other hand, was just awful. Mohinder/Sylar is a fine comedic pairing, but there was just so much nothingness on the other side of things. Making Parkman a security guard was a nice excuse to get him into the storyline, but it did nothing for his character. I should be happy about a Peter-free episode, but I’m not; his storyline was for more interesting than the rest of this crap.

Round Two: Ratings

From TheFutoncritic.com… 

“Heroes” (households: 8.8/13, #4; adults 18-49: 6.3, #2)

FOX (households: 7.9/12, #2; adults 18-49: 5.0, #1) snagged a rare first place win among adults 18-49 on Monday thanks to new episodes of “24” (households: 7.7/12, #7; adults 18-49: 4.9, #T5) and another “24” (households: 8.1/12, #6; adults 18-49: 5.1, #3). 

Long story short, Heroes won the head-to-head battle, but the two hours of 24 were able to build FOX to a 18-49 win, which is a huge deal. Still, I’ll give this one to Heroes. Just for fun. Not like it will matter.

Round Three: Worthless Storyline Watch 

24’s most worthless storyline right now is Sandra Palmer…who was absent through both hours. Woot!

Heroes has multiple worthless storylines. Mohinder has no momentum, Hiro has indeed lost his purpose (As well as my patience), and Niki the contract killer? Snore. The show has nothing going for it right now, other than Peter…who they left out of this one. Unless he’s really perfected that invisibility trick.

And the…aw, come on, it’s pretty obvious, but anyways…the winner is… Continue reading

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The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week Three

 

While Heroes starts to head into the second half of its season, 24 prepares to enter into its 2nd quarter with a fair deal of momentum. Two straight victories in the Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown, and a win in total viewers last week, have placed 24 in the pole position heading into February Sweeps, where TV shows do their best to throw everything in their arsenal at viewers. How did 24 and Heroes hold up in Overall Quality, Ratings, and the Sweeps Litmus Test? Let’s take a look and find out.

Round One: Overall Quality

Heroes finally put together an hour of television that appeared to go somewhere. We got copious amounts of Sylar, first and foremost, although I felt that his anger was a little bit too generic. There didn’t seem to be a mythos to his killing, although “That was for the haircut” was perhaps my favourite line of the episode. However, even though he may bore me, there was some good development for Peter this week. His ability to regenerate when not around Claire was really quite important for the overall story, and Eccleston as Obi-Wan is currently working quite well from a storytelling perspective.

The episode still had its downfalls though. I love Hiro, and loved Ando’s crush on the sister, but the entire plot had no connection to anything, and seemed like just an excuse to cast George Takei (Don’t get me wrong, I love George Takei). For someone so wrapped up in his destiny, to have him stop it all for an entire episode was counter-productive. The entire Niki storyline remains utterly mind-numbing, and this week’s sudden Linderman assisted withdraw of all charges was too contrived for my tastes. Similarly, the entire Simone situation is too uninteresting, I need her to be revealed as an agent of Linderman or SOMETHING here.

On the whole, Heroes’ best transition episode yet, despite some of its parts not quite living up to the quality of our tiny baby step plot movements.

24, on the other hand, did somewhat less in moving the overall plot forward. In a show that, let’s face it, is action-oriented and often tied down by its structure, this was one of those episodes that felt somewhat small scale, like a whole lot of setup. The episode benefited from some more Jack Bauer torture scenes, as well as some family drama, but on the whole it was just a setup for our next major plotline, the “Save Morris” one. I knew it had to be someone at CTU, it just made sense, but I didn’t put together the whole brother in the hospital thing until WAY too late. I think I’m getting a little slow.

Other than that, the episode kept things fairly stagnant. The President stood up to Lennix about the whole martial law type thing, and there wasn’t much else for the episode to go on really. It was very much a holding pattern for 24, and the only big character revelation came at its conclusion. You can’t expect too much to happen in every hour of the day, after all.

Ratings

From PIFeedback.com:

Bona fide NBC hit Heroes was second in the 9 p.m. hour in total viewers (14.56 million) and first among adults 18-49 (6.4/15) — up 28 percent in the demo from lead-in Deal or No Deal. Fox’s potent 24 remained competitive, meanwhile, at 13.58 million viewers and a 5.0/11 among adults 18-49, building from lead-in Prison Break by 3.44 million viewers and 22 percent in the demo.

What does this mean? It means that Heroes has taken the ratings crown in both total viewers and Adults 18-49. Perhaps it was that the CBS comedies sunk into 24’s audience, but it was certainly a bit of a tough week for 24 in comparison to the last few. Still a strong performance, but Heroes takes the ratings outright for the first time.

The Sweeps Litmus Test

Specimen: Heroes

Contents: Big-time Daddy Reveal, Character Thrown Off Roof

Test Results: Pretty decent Sweeps performance from Heroes. Peter is annoying, so the fact that he healed himself was unfortunate, but throwing him off a roof was still dramatic. And, whether predictable or not, Nathan as Claire’s father was a fine way to end the episode.

Specimen: 24

Contents: Revelation of Evil, Kidnapping

Test Results: A strong reveal to end the episode, but it was a bit bizarrely handled on the whole. The “murder” of Graem seemed a bit too extreme, but the reveal of Daddy Bauer as evil made sense. Sense is good, 24, but your kidnapping was a bit undramatic and I don’t think we care enough about Morris at this point for things to work perfectly.

And the winner is… Continue reading

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The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week Two

Another week, another showdown to the death between Heroes and 24. Today’s Rounds are Overall Quality, Ratings and our rotating Third Round goes to “The Weakest Link” which will be explains as it pops up.

Round One: Overall Quality

Well, Heroes picked up a bit compared to last week’s episode, but we’re still knee deep in a transitional period. It threw us some more Christopher Ecclesten (“Doctor Who”), and a rather fun little appearance by George “Sulu” Takei at the end of the episode.

All of this being said, I am getting concerned about the core mythos of the show at this point. Sylar has been out of action for too long, Mohinder might as well die already, Claire’s search for her parents is cute but still lacking the spark (Even with the introduction of Jessalyn Gilsig), Peter is still a little too whiny, Niki/DL lacks connection, and while I love Hiro dearly, he hasn’t had much important to do since “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” and the dinosaur. He’s been consistently the best part of every episode, this one included, but he needs to recover his purpose. The pieces are in place for this mythos to work, but it just isn’t quite there yet. Even a transition episode needs to do something more to connect to and extend the mythos, and this episode didn’t do it.

 

 

24 is also entering its first transitional phase, and about now is when people start whining about the show’s quality, spoiled by the amount of action in the last five episodes. We have an episode where Jack didn’t really get to torture anyone, where there were no bombs or explosions, and there was very little of the action that has made the character of Jack Bauer so popular with the kids.

And yet, I count myself among those who think that these episodes are often what 24 does best. We received further intel into the state of affairs with McCarthy, we gained new insight into Nadia’s character (Milo’s got to be banging her), we dealt quickly with the White House related tension (Any bets on how many show hours it takes Karen to get to CTU?), and the episode did a good job of easing into its final act featuring James Crowell as Phllip Bauer. In the end, the episode remained compelling drama that introduced and advanced storylines in a way that still contributed to the overall plot without action sequences or interrogations.

 

Round Two: Ratings

Things are fairly similar to last week here, but with some slight differences.

From PIFeedback.com:

At 9 p.m., leadership was mixed between NBC’s Heroes and Fox’s 24. Heroes won the hour among adults 18-49 (6.1/14) with a second-place finish in total viewers (13.57 million); while 24 was the most-watched (14.05 million) and a competitive second among adults 18-49 (5.4/12).

While Heroes might still have the advantage out of young viewers, the bad news here is that 24 took over the lead in total viewers and managed to stay steady amongst those younger viewers while Heroes well. It’s pretty much a tie, because of this, but 24 is definitely in the best position, especially heading into its 2-hour event in two weeks.

Round Three: The Weakest Links

Yes, every good show has its weak links, and Heroes and 24 are currently suffering from a storyline a piece that is compelling me to fast forward through them. This category will be able to judge which link was weaker, and how each episode handled that problem.

In the case of Heroes, the character of Matt Parkman has a lot of potential. I love Greg Grunberg (Alias, Felicity, pretty much everything JJ Abrams has ever done), and I think that his power has great possibilities. But, dear god, the man needs something to do. He has entirely lost his purpose after being suspended, and with it everything that made him entertaining. His banter with his partner was charming, his searches for the truth allowed him to connect with the main storyline. But, after last week’s failure at Primatech Paper, the character has become utterly worthless. Heck, I half expected him to decide to take up plumbing full time.

His wife is pregnant, she knows he can read her mind, and their marriage remains more or less irrevocably damaged. There is no path for this character to follow right now. I think Mohinder is the least interesting character of the bunch, and was certainly the show’s weakest link while soul searching in India, but he at least has returned to New York with a purpose. Every time we turn to Parkman, I honestly stop caring. It pulls me out of the show’s core storyline, and that is when you have to consider killing some people off and consolidating the existing characters into a tighter arc that would make for less of these problems.

And, let’s face it, 24 has long had the same problem, balancing multiple storylines with tenuous connections to the overall plot. It is those that lack that connection, in a real manner, that hurt the show’s ability to have these transition episodes. And, for 24 this season, this weakest link has been Sandra Palmer and her boyfriend Walid. She’s a tad bit annoying, he’s a bit too passive, and the entire scenario at the holding facility continued for too long past our point of interest.

But, it still connected with the main plot, and in this episode it was unceremoniously ended. It involved CTU, so that there was a connection to our main storyline, and then it ended, allowing Sandra to head off and protect our civil liberties. While she may be grating, at least she has clearly been given a sense of importance that can translate into something new, and they are transitioning her into that role now.

And, based on these three categories, the winner of Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown Week Two is… Continue reading

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Cultural News Bytes – January 26th

Television

Now, I’m not usually one to pay any attention to Soap Operas by my own volition, but it was impossible to not catch a few minutes of General Hospital during my childhood. I would come home from school and it would always be on the TV, my mother watching along. And, honestly, it was a nice little distraction. The melodrama, the hostage takings, the train crashes, the hotel fires, and just about everything in between; I can’t argue with this kind of insanity. Check out the Wikipedia link and have a good laugh as you delve into the sheer madness of it all.

However, within that link, there is an interesting little blurb that I want to highlight:

“In February 2007, General Hospital will embark on yet another ground-breaking storyline for Sweeps as the entire cast will once again find themselves in a central storyline as a hostage situation takes place at the Metro Court hotel. The storyline which is set to take place over the 16 episodes of Sweeps will be set in “real time” much like the Fox drama, 24. According to the scribes at GH, an explosion will be set off at the Metro Court hotel on Friday, January 26th and then the show will fade to black as viewers are taken 16 hours back in time. Each episode will then represent one hour of the events that lead up to the explosion at the Metro Court hotel.”

Now, when I read a story about this over at PopWatch, I was kind of intrigued by this crossover between my mother’s favourite soap opera and everyone’s favourite Jack Bauer Power Hour, but I’ve started to think about it a bit more. And, I think that it’s an interesting example of the further influence of “serialized” television and its quick demise earlier this season.

For, you see, this season alone has seen the deaths of Smith, Kidnapped, Vanished, Runaway, and even the yet to debut Traveler had its episode order cut from 13 to 8. And yet, here General Hospital is turning to a basic theme that 24 made famous. It was the rise of 24’s ratings, as well as the success of shows like Prison Break, that led networks to produce so many serial dramas, and they struggled to find an audience.

And yet, really, Soap Operas are a perfect example of how to make a serial drama work. They have a plot that strings throughout, but yet they have characters so typical, so defined, that you can figure things out quite quickly. If I have my TV turned onto CTV and General Hospital comes on, I might not have seen a second of it for weeks and yet I can pretty much figure out what’s going on because I know enough about the archetypes at play.

And really, that was what made the first season of Prison Break so watchable, not the bullshit conspiracy stuff. And that’s what made Desperate Housewives work, and not its dumb plots (Which dragged the 2nd season into the doldrums of television). Even 24’s plots can sometimes let it down, but we keep watching because we idolize Jack Bauer. Without a hook like this, no show survives.

As a result, as much as General Hospital claims they’re going into a “ground breaking” exercise, the plots will be just as thing and just as silly as before. And yet, really, that’s what the people want. Maybe networks should see this as an example for making compelling serialized television.

 

Cinema

Box Office Predictions

Movies Opening This Weekend

Epic Movie

Smokin’ Aces

Catch and Release

Blood & Chocolate

We’ve got a farcical comedy based on fantasy/adventure films ala “Date Movie,” a bounty hunter film starring Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”), Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck and…Alicia Keys? Okay. And then we have a Romantic comedy starring Jennifer Garner and…Kevin Smith? Sure thing. And then some crappy horror movie with one of the worst titles imaginable.

Holdovers from Last Week

Stomp the Yard

Night at the Museum

Each should drop a bit, and a few spots each with the new releases in play, but their holdovers have been solid recently.

Oscar Movers/Shakers

Dreamgirls

The Queen

Pan’s Labyrinth

The Departed

Despite a lack of a Best Picture nod, Dreamgirls is currently leading the American Box Office, and will perform well into the weekend. The Queen, sitting in 3rd, also continues to perform strongly with weekday audiences, and expands slightly further along with Babel (Which has a little less audience appeal). The Departed launches itself a 2nd time with a major influx of screens, and Pan’s Labyrinth continues to expand further in its initial run. I would hope that Children of Men would see an increase, but Editing/Cinematography nods only do so much for a film.

For my Box Office Predictions and Viewing Suggestions, Continue reading

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The Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown: Week One

As covered in yesterday’s Cultural News Bytes, the epic battle between Heroes and 24 kicked off last evening. For the purpose of covering this epic battle, I’m going to divide it into Three Rounds: Overall Quality, Ratings, and the OMGWTFBBQ Battle. Based on these criteria, a victor will be named.

Round One: Overall Quality

24 came out fighting: They moved effortless from panic in the streets of the suburbs, to the OMGWTFBBQ moment, to some Daddy Drama, and it was interspersed well with a subtle political movement. The terrorist plot is certainly nothing special at this point, and the entire Sandra Palmer Subplot is slowing the show down, but in the end the newly introduced family drama for Jack was absolutely spectacular.

On the other hand, Heroes immediately sucked the life out of its cliffhanger with a “Two Weeks Later” construct. While it works, it definitely doesn’t result in a great deal of excitement, and it showed. The episode revolved around the fallout from last fall’s actions, but there didn’t seem to be a drive heading forward from this point until the episode’s end. We got very little on Sylar, and everything else was kind of just in a fog. It needed to bring more to the table, in my mind.

Round Two: Ratings

“Heroes” (households: 8.6/13, #T4; adults 18-49: 6.5, #1)

“24” (households: 8.6/13, #T4; adults 18-49: 5.4, #3)

What does this all mean? Well, it means that Heroes drew slightly more viewers, as well as more viewers in the coveted 18-49 year old viewers. However, 24’s ratings were more or less identical to that of last year’s, and Heroes’ ratings held strong. In the end, this basically means that there were a whole lot more people watching TV last night than before. And that’s generally good, I’d say.

Round Three: OMGWTFBBQ

24 wasn’t too exciting…except for the revelation that there is a BAUER BROTHER. And he’s last season’s BAD GUY. And Jack CHOKED HIM WITH A PLASTIC BAG. COME ON!

Heroes had a rather charming line, referring to Nathan as “FLYING MAN”, but lacked a pivotal moment. It struggled to even reach OMG territory.

And the Winner, via Judge’s decision… Continue reading

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