Tuesday, February 24, 2009

24- Season 7: 5 pm – We Can Dance If We Want To

5 pm

They said just before the show started that tonight this would be the episode that changes everything, and they weren’t kidding. We’ve reached the end of Chapter 1 in this season of 24. We are also reminded that relationships rarely go smoothly or end well on this show. Just ask Dubaku and Marika, Jack and Renee or Sean and Erica.

We pick up with Jack and Agent Lohan pulled over by DC’s finest while the car with Dubaku’s girlfriend heads towards her rendezvous with The Butcher of Sangala. Sean, the FBI mole, has issued the warrant to stop Jack and Renee but appears to be busted by his mistress… until we learn she’s in on it.

Meanwhile, Markia makes it to Dubaku and he gets rough with her for a moment. He’s kind of like a Dog Whisperer with her. First he’s hard on her to show her who’s boss, then he shows her affection. We really get to see Dubaku’s soft side when he expresses his love and asks Marika to still come with him, despite the fact that he is a monster. She agrees, but you now she’s just trying to buy some time. They race towards the airfield and freedom.

Boss Moss gets the cops to back off and the chase continues. Jack takes a detour through the park to catch up with Dubaku’s car, and this subtle move gets the attention of the driver. Jack’s car gets spun out and a pile up occurs. It looks like Dubaku is going to get away… until Marika springs into action and causes their car to flip. Jack and Agent Lohan decend on the wreck and Jack shoots the driver. Jack secures an unconscious Dubaku while Renee tries to pull Marika from the flaming SUV. Jack yells at Lohan to get out and eventually goes to pull her out before it blows, but Renee pulls her gun on him and tells him to help her or else. Jack decides to help.

It’s all part of a bizarre mating ritual we call “The Un-safety Dance.” The more Jack and Renee bicker, disobey orders, torture people, shoot thugs and break the rules, the hotter they get for each other.

Unfortunately, Marika dies. Renee is shaken up, but Lemony Snicket Bauer sees it as just another unfortunate event in a series of unfortunate events. After Renee has to break the news to Marika’s sister, she confronts Jack and smacks him. Does he feel that? Does he feel anything? How can he deal with all of this brutality and death?

Jack tells her you learn to live with it, or you quit. It’s the same message that Bruce Springsteen tells us in the song Tunnel of Love; “You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above.” If it’s good enough for the Boss, it’s good enough for Jack Bauer.

Then Jack warns her that if she pulls a gun on him again, she’d better intend on using it. Unimpressed with his thinly veiled threat, Renee tells him she did mean it. This is what I suspect Jack Bauer did when she said that to him. I’m surprised he didn’t take her right there in the hallway. In Un-safety Dance terms, that’s like Dirty Dancing or The Lambada. (The Forbidden Dance.)

Jack then has the paramedics revive Dubaku so that he can threaten his family in order to get the list of names of those involved in the conspiracy. When Jack realizes the list is hidden inside Dubaku, the Butcher of Sangala finally gets to know what a side of beef feels like as Jack has the chip cut out of him.

Sean convinces his mistress, Erica, to wipe the FBI servers clean once the chip has been loaded into their system. She’s reluctant at first, but he convinces her with a kiss. Then, after she completes the process, he kisses her again, but this is a goodbye kiss because he shoots and kills her as they lock lips. Then, he shoots himself in the arm to make it look like he was trying to stop her. It turns out he’s even better at inflicting a bullet graze than even Jack. He nicks himself in the arm and barley does any damage. About 10 minutes later is effortlessly bending his arm to put on his coat. That’s pretty impressive for a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The list seems to be erased, but Chloe ran a mirror, or some nonsense, and recovers the files. So Sean is exposed and caught. It seems as if the treat is over. Yeah, and the girl in the canoe at the end of Friday the 13th was out of danger too, right?

Meanwhile Bill Buchanan has convinced Madam President to go back to the White House, where she can safely meet with her daughter Olivia. (Our girl Sprague.) Bill also puts in a good word for Jack with the Prez and asks her to talk to the Senator from That Seventies Show, who is out to get him.

Olivia wants to go see her father, but her mother wants her to stay at the White House where it is safe. But we find out that the White House is actually an un-safe place. Not in an angry, horney way, like the Un-Saftey Dance. I mean un-safe as in Tony warns Jack that General Juma is planning another attack in DC and the target is high value and high impact. It’s also white and a house.

Next week General Juma (Jamba Juice), the guy who played The Candyman, attacks and infiltrates the White House. How does he get in? It’s simple if you know anything about The Candyman horror films. Someone probably says his name five times while looking in the mirror.

Next week is a two hour extravaganza. Strap yourselves in, this could get bumpy.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday the 13th Review- Jason Voorhees: The Next Top Chef?

I finally caught the new Friday the 13th movie. You know what? It’s not bad. Just when you thought the franchise was finally dead, it gets back up, much like Jason does at the ends of his films.

It’s funny, I sort of felt like one of the judges from the show Top Chef while watching this movie. You see, I’ve been watching horror movies for a long time, so much like Tom Colecio knows his way around a kitchen, I know my way around a Jason movie.

Let’s say a contestant on Top Chef makes gumbo. The judges will look for the classic ingredients as well as something that puts a new spin on the dish. They’ll look for the "holy trinity" of celery, bell peppers and onion. They’ll scrutinize the color or the roux. They’ll expect to taste andouille sausage along with poultry and shellfish. But they will also expect the chef to do something that makes the dish their own. Don’t just make the same old thing.

There’s a recipe to follow with a Friday the 13th movie too; a deserted lake, the "holy trinity" of a bunch of partying teens, beer/weed and sex. There are also a few archetypes that we look for. The obnoxious guy, the noble guy, the sympathetic girl, the wacky guy, the drug or alcohol obsessed guy and the slut. Most of all, we look for a series of creative and brutal kills.

The new Friday the 13th includes all of the classic ingredients… in other words, we get plenty of boobs and blood. And the makers of this movie tried to put their own spin on this dish. They were not always successful, but overall it was good enough. I had a good time at the theatre, and that’s what counts in the long run.

As I watched the movie, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the guys who wrote the movie. How would I approach the challenge of making a movie for a tired franchise; a movie that had all the classic elements, but bring something new to the table as well? So as the movie unfolded in front of me I kept thinking, “Yep, I guess I’d do something like that too.” They stick to the standard formula while adding a few twists here and there to add a new spin to some of the tired trappings of the franchise. They also made enough references to the first three movies to satisfy the long time fans.

It’s not a great horror movie. It’s a bit pedestrian and generic, but I’m so desensitized to these movies that I may not be a good litmus test for the average person. It’s kind of like when I say something is not that spicy. Someone else usually ends up scrambling for a glass of water. I love hot food and I love scary, gory movies. I felt this movie kind of lacked suspense and weight. You know, like that feeling of dread you felt when Jodie Foster headed down into Buffalo Bill’s basement in The Silence of the Lambs. But as far as a standard slasher flick goes, it delivers… a bunch of teens go to a lake, party and get killed one by one. Sprinkle in a few laughs here and there and there you have it. If this movie was a contestant on Top Chef, it would not win the Elimination Challenge, but it would not be packing its machete and going home either.

Tonight the Academy Awards are on, and if you start comparing this movie to one the nominated films, obviously you are way off base. You have to compare it to other horror films, particularly other slasher films and other Friday the 13th movies. For a seasoned veteran of the Friday the 13th series, it’s not the best of the bunch, but it is one of the better installments. As far as being a suitable reboot of the franchise, I think it did its job. In fact, the first fifteen minutes of the film are some of the best in the entire series. If it were a meal, I would have eaten everything on my plate but I would not order seconds. But with a little more hot sauce and seasoning, this could have been a great movie.

Monday, February 16, 2009

24- Season 7: 4 pm – The Six Degrees of Back in Jack

4 pm

So much to talk about, so little time. Tonight was simply a humongous episode of 24, on so many levels. We pick up with the paramedics whisking the First Hubby off to the hospital as Jack and Agent Lohan scour the scene for clues as to Dubaku’s location. Jack checks the PDAs of Dubaku’s dead goons while Renee gets another lecture from Boss Moss about her brutal behavior, or should I say “Bauerhavior.” Renee looks in the mirror, wondering if the reflection is actually hers or Jack Bauer’s.

Back at the White House, Madam President decides to head to the hospital, despite the objections of her staff. Finally, Bill “Rico Suave” Buchanan convinces them that he is the only trustworthy person that can escort her, and he also get’s himself and Chloe reinstated. Chloe will be brought into the FBI to handle the computer ops, setting up a confrontation between her and Janice Garofalo. But wait, it gets even better. When Chloe is dropped off at the FBI, Morris is driving her, and we meet their kid, Prescott. Morris does not stick around, but tells Chloe to call him if she needs him. Hopefully we will see more of the O’Brien clan.

The scenes of Chloe at the FBI were so good, I think they should do a spin-off show about it. Time after time she knocks the condition of their network, much to the chagrin of Boss Moss… the guy who set it up in the first place. It’s a lot like Jimmy Fallon’s SNL character Nick Burns, Your Company’s Computer Guy, who will fix your computer and make fun of you. I kept hoping Chloe would say “MOVE!” to someone before she logged in.

Another priceless moment is when Chloe objects to being put in a conference room with huge windows. She has learned that sitting out in plain sight is not conducive to running covert operations. It didn’t work at CTU and it’s not working at the FBI either.

Meanwhile, Dubaku arranges to get out of the country with a guy named Burnett. Dubaku knows that Burnett’s people probably want to assassinate him, so he threatens to turn over the names of all of those involved with today’s shenanigans if he is harmed. He also insists that his girlfriend be picked up and driven to the airfield. Naturally he has to convince his girlfriend to leave the country with him, and can only do so by promising to bring her sister with them. He sends a car for her.

Dubaku’s girl, Marika, is caught packing by her sister Rosa and as the two of them bicker, the door crashes open and they meet Jack and Agent Lohan. They quickly convince the two sisters of who Dubaku really is and naturally, Jack enlists Marika to help them by getting in the car and leading them to The Butcher of Sangala.

Meanwhile, Madam President asks Bill to send someone trustworthy over to pick up her estranged daughter Olivia and tell her about her father’s condition. Here’s where we really go nuts. You thought Morris was the big new tonight? Well hold on a second, because the person who Bill sends is none other than everyone’s favorite redheaded Secret Service Agent, Aaron Pierce. No word about whether he is living happily ever after with the former first lady, but it’s good to see the big lug. But that’s not all. It gets better. Olivia Taylor is played by Sprague Grayden, who is actually a friend of friend of mine. So folks, this blog is now also a Sprague Grayden fan club. (Among other shows, she was on Sons of Anarchy, a show I plan to watch when it comes out on DVD.)

But wait, that’s not all. When Madam President arrives at the hospital, the first person she speaks with is Nurse Mitchell. Guess what… Nurse Mitchell is also a friend of a friend. (A different friend.) She’s played by Heidi Wallace, and so we are also now a Heidi Wallace fan club. (And we give a shout out to her pals at Schlesinger Associates in NY.)

Can you believe this? We are so close to two people on the show. Of course, if you read this blog last season, you know we had close ties to Karen Hayes (Jayne Atkinson). Speaking of Karen Hayes, I sure hope she pops up this season.

Okay, I’d better wrap this up. Jack and Lohan follow Marika’s car with help from Chloe. But Janice, who is threatened by Ms. O’Brien, practically blackmails Sean to get a gadget that will allow her to break into the system. When the cops suddenly stop Jack and Renee, we think Janice is the mole, but she’s not. It’s Sean. And Sean tips off Burnett, who tips off Dubaku that Marika has been compromised. So now Dubaku prepares for her arrival while Jack & Agent Lohan are held up by the cops.

Next week, Agent Lohan smacks Jack. Will Jack smack back?
And will Dubaku attack?
Y’all come back.

And in closing; Sprague & Heidi, we love ya. Keep up the good work.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th: Do You Feel Lucky?

Today is Friday the 13th and after a long absence a new Jason movie is opening. Way back when I was in high school, tonight would have been an event. When a new Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street movie came out, we were there in force. We’d high five and cheer after each kill. Inevitably, some would yell “Don’t go in there!” to some doomed coed heading into a basement or some other dark, deserted place.

Jason, along with Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Pinhead and Leatherface, are the next generation of classic movie monsters after Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man.

As with almost every other genre, we have recently seen a rash of remakes and re-imaginings of these classic horror icons. A while back I posted an entry about my mixed feelings about the upcoming Star Trek reboot. My feelings are a bit different with horror. I don’t have much of a problem with it. I don’t have high expectations either. After all, there are countless variations and versions of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. It’s what keeps the legends going.

Personally, I saw no need for a remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is one of the all time classics. I thought the new version was okay, but that may owe more to Jessica Biel in a tank top than anything else. The Halloween remake did not do much for me and the remake of The Amityville Horror was just plain terrible. But as a horror fan, bad movies come with the territory. I still enjoy them all on some level.

I speak fondly of the old horror movies, but to be honest, some of them have not aged well and the sequels to most of these movies are dreadful. And let’s face, I’m not a kid anymore. I still love horror, but it takes more to impress me these days. These movies are aimed at teens, not old farts like me.

I just found out that they are working on a new Nightmare on Elm Street, and that is the one that probably bothers me the most. C’mon… Robert Englund is Freddy. There is no Freddy without him. But maybe that’s what they said about Bela Lugosi and Dracula. Maybe the character is bigger than the actor. But I doubt it in this case.

It’s different with Jason. I don’t care who plays him. He’s been different in every film. He didn't even have the hockey mask until the third one. And the films got worse as the series went on. The important ingredients are a hockey mask, a machete, some pot smoking teens, some scantily clad girls and most of all blood. And this franchise could use some new blood. It really all about seeing some good kills.

If they can reboot the series and bring back the gory excitement that I remember as a kid, then I am willing to try my luck with this new Friday the 13th.

I don’t suppose Jessica Biel is in this movie by any chance, is she? One can only hope.

I’ll post a review once I get around to seeing it. Promise.

Monday, February 9, 2009

24- Season 7: 3 pm – Love Hurts

3 pm

When I turned on Fox tonight I was taken aback for a moment as I thought I saw David Palmer addressing the nation. I immediately thought an old episode of 24 was on. Then I realized that it was actually President Obama holding a press conference. For a few moments I was worried that 24 might be delayed, preempted or worst of all, joined late, already in progress. Later on in the show, one of David Palmer’s insurance commercials came on and, for a moment, I was worried that Obama was coming back out for an encore.

But 24 started on time, and before you knew it, the J-Team was in the Oval Office. The President is naturally skeptical of our ragtag heroes until Jack Bauer flaunts his qualifications and loyalties like a peacock’s tail feathers. When President Taylor questions his loyalties, Jack tells her to just ask around. C’mon lady, this is Jack Freaking Bauer we’re talking about here.

They convince the Prez that they are too legit to quit and she eventually puts them on the case. And not a moment too soon, because she finds out that Dubaku has captured her husband. They have to find Dubaku’s hideout FAST. Agent Lohan, who gets sexier with every episode, convinces Jack that they should enlist the help of her boy-toy, Boss Moss. When Boss Moss answers his phone and hears Renee’s voice, this is what happens: Boss Moss Song. (Click “Back” when you are done.)

The writers must have had Valentine’s Day on their minds, because there were all kinds of romantic entanglements and drama this week.

Boss Moss refuses to help until he can see the object of his affection in person. With the records Boss Moss provides they determine that Secret Service Agent Vossler is evil and they start to track him. Jack tells Agent Lohan to go to Vossler’s house and threaten the wife and baby. Boss Moss unsuccessfully objects. I wonder, is Boss Moss really that appalled by Jack’s brutal tactics, or is he just really jealous and threatened by this Alpha Male who is trouncing all over his territory?

Agent Lohan’s journey to the dark side is made complete when she handcuffs Vossler’s wife to a coffee table and threatens their baby. Meanwhile, Jack speeds through DC to intercept Vossler before he can safely reach a military base. Just as Vossler approaches the gate, Jack blows down a one way street and plows into Vossler’s car. When Vossler hears his family being threatened, he spills the beans. Nevertheless, when Jack is distracted, he pulls a knife and attacks. But Vossler is messing with the wrong guy. Could that someone be Jack the Knife? Yes, and Jack dispatches of Vossler.

Meanwhile, back at the FBI, Sean is suspicious of everything. I also realized that his mistress in the office looks suspiciously like Angela Martin from The Office.

Speaking of girlfriends, tonight we also learn that Dubaku’s little chickadee has a wheelchair-bound sister who is suspicious of him. After she threatens to expose him he heads to her apartment to take care of the problem. (And probably to score a plate of that tasty lasagna while he’s there.)

Back at the White House, the ever-dapper Bill Buchanan takes time away from his next Men’s Wear House commercial to coordinate a decoy drop off of a Matobo look alike to Dubaku in order to buy them some time. The decoy is also a Tim Meadows look alike, and was probably wishing he was doing stunt work on The Ladies Man 2 today instead of this, because he ends up blown to bits by Dubaku’s men.

When Jack goes back to find that his truck is totaled and being looted, he realizes he needs a new set of wheels. So what does he do? Why he Car-Jacks someone, of course. Finally Jack and his pretty red-headed apprentice arrive that the store where the First Hubby is being held. And they get there just as Dubaku gives the order to kill Henry Taylor.

A gun fight ensues and Jack and Lohan take out all the bad guys, but not before one puts a slug right into the First Hubby. Boy, has this guy had a bad day. First he’s drugged and paralyzed by his Secret Service driver and forced to watch the murder of his son’s girlfriend. Then he narrowly escapes death by tossing himself and his attacker off of a loft. Then he is captured and his finger is cut off. Finally, he is shot, just moments before his rescue.

Man, he should have stayed in bed today.

Next week we find out who the mole is in the FBI office. Sean, Janice, Boss Moss, Angela Martin… Dwight? Who could it be?

One last thing… please scroll down and check out the entry about the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall. They are doing a Facebook promotion that is raising money for charity. You don’t have to live in Massachusetts to help out. Just become a fan on their FB page.


Questions? Comments? Feedback? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Star Trek: The Wrath of Robot Chicken

If you read last week’s 24 recap but had no clue about my references to Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn, here’s the Robot Chicken version, in less than two minutes.

Oh, by the way, this version is done as an opera.

Robot Chicken – Wrath of Khan

(Okay, this may or may not help the Star Trek impaired, but it’s funny and it’s a must for any sci-fi geek.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The CambridgeSide Galleria is Good

What would Jack Bauer do?
It's the question you should be asking yourself whenever you face an important decision in life.

Folks, if you are on Facebook I encourage you become a fan of the CambridgeSide Galleria in Cambridge, Mass. If you become a fan before Valentine's Day, the CambridgeSide Galleria will donate $1 to benefit the Strong Women, Strong Girls organization for every new fan that signs on to its new Facebook page until the goal of making a $5,000 donation is reached.

I'm pretty sure he'd become a fan.
Jack Bauer loves Strong Women, Strong Girls and good causes.
And so do I.

It's also a great mall. I used to work nearby and practically lived there at lunch and happy hour. It's a great place to buy a huge, HD television and some 24 DVDs.

Look them up on Facebook and check out thier website.

And the cause:


Monday, February 2, 2009

24- Season 7: 2 pm – You Down With C.I.P? Yeah You Know Me.

2 pm

This week on 24 we pick up with the bad guys secretly planning to use the magical CIP device to detonate a tank of deadly pesticide from a chemical plant in Ohio. But when Janice Garofalo is on the case, secrets are hard to conceal. Hell, she’s so good that she was even able to detect the great Chloe hacking into the FBI's system. So if she says she can trace the usage of the CIP device, you’d best believe her.

It’s a good thing she’s on the case too, because everyone else at the FBI is preoccupied with all their drama. Sean is worried that Boss Moss is not focusing on his work because he is still reeling from the loss of Agent Lohan. This from a guy who himself could not concentrate on his job because he was thinking about his wife AND another woman.

Meanwhile, Boss Moss is not focusing on his work because he is still reeling from the loss of his gal pal, Agent Lohan. He gets all snippy with Sean and also the Chief of Staff. Then he creepily surfs Agent Lohan’s FBI web profile. (As well as her Facebook pictures and her MySpace page.)

Meanwhile, Jack and the J-Team track Nichols back to the building where Dubaku is hiding. Agent Lohan uses her good looks and credentials to gain access to the building and then heads to the roof to let the boys in. Then she and Jack head into the air vents with an endoscope. They don’t find any polyps, but they do find Dubaku, who is in the midst of building up the pressure at the chemical plant with the CIP device.

Back at the chemical plant, John Brunner, the tough talking foreman, evacuates his facility while telling Janice Garofalo to lighten up after calling her “Babe.” Brunner realizes that someone has to buy the plant workers some precious time to evacuate, so he takes a page out of Mr. Spock’s playbook. As you may recall, at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, the Enterprise is in danger of being destroyed by the detonation of the Genesis machine. Someone has to get the Warp Engines back online so they can get away… and fast, but the engine room is flooded with radiation. Ignoring certain death, the brave Vulcan charges into the chamber and valiantly fixes the engines just in the nick of time. The crew of the Enterprise is saved, but Spock dies. (Fortunately, Spock comes back to life in Star Trek III.)

In a similar manner, Brunner dons a gas mask and boldly goes where no other man would go before. He releases some of the pressure by flooding the room with the deadly chemical while Janice helplessly witnesses his sacrifice; much like Captain Kirk did with Spock. Unfortunately for Brunner, he’s no Vulcan, and this ain’t Star Trek. He can’t transfer his consciousness into Dr. McCoy, nor is there a life generating Genesis planet to regenerate his body in the next episode. In the world of 24, something like that would be ridiculous. I mean, people just don’t come back to life like that.

Okay, I probably just lost half of you with the Trek talk, but if you love that movie like I do, I just made your day.

Anyway, shortly after Brunner’s heroics, Dubaku discovers that Jack and Tony have found him. He aborts the chemical explosion and then uses the guy they kidnapped in the first episode as a bomb. In the fray, Agent Lohan rescues Matabo and kills the other bad guy, Nichols. The CIP device is also destroyed.

Dubaku manages to escape and makes it back to his apartment, where he gets an unexpected visit from a young lady friend. Why Dubaku, you old dog. You’ve got a little somethin’- somethin’ going on the side, don’t you?

Meanwhile, the First Hubby wakes up from his fall just in time to be captured by the other evil secret service agent. He’s stuffed in a trunk and carted off to Dubaku’s place. I sure hope Dubaku’s girlfriend made extra lasagna.

The J-Team retreats back to the J-Cave to plan their next move. Jack points out that they need outside help and suggests that they contact the President. They can use Matobo to get a private audience with her. The J-Team reluctantly agrees, but Tony refuses to go to the White House with them. Jack makes him promise he’ll turn himself in when it’s all over, but something tells me Tony may end up going the route of Brunner and Spock before this is all over. I’d be worried except for the fact that Tony has come back from the dead just as many times as Mr. Spock has… and this ain’t Star Trek.

Next week, Jack makes it to the oval office and the race for the First Hubby is on, along with a tasty tray of lasagna.

Until then, live long and prosper.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.