Tuesday, February 23, 2010

24- Season 8.9 - 12am: In the Midnight Hour, More, More, More

12 am

It’s midnight, and so this hour of 24 is brought to you by the 1988 Michelob/Eric Clapton commercial featuring the song After Midnight. It's after midnight and Jack Bauer is gonna let it all hang out.

We begin with Josef, who heads to Queens to sell the nuclear rods to Farthead. He’s smart to go to Queens this late, because getting over the bridge into Queens during the day is a nightmare. And if there is a Met game going on… forget about it.

Jack & Sergei call Josef and Sergei begs Josef to turn himself in and accept immunity. Despite the fact that he murdered Josef’s brother, he manages to convince Josef to surrender. It's pretty impressive. Actually, the word impressive does not even do it justice, so I will make up a word. It was Sergalicious.

Unfortunately, Farthead’s men are waiting in the wings and put a Black Eyed Pea right in Josef’s heart. So the rods are still in play and that means someone is going to have to take the blame back at CTU. Rob Weiss, the White House bully, convinces Hastings that Renee is the perfect fall guy… or fall girl. After all, she did stab Vlad fifteen times. Literally two seconds later, a mean woman named Kristen Smith shows up to interrogate Renee.

Jack checks in by phone with Chloe for an update on Renee’s debrief and then gets directly connected to Renee. It is here where Renee asks Jack to clarify what he meant earlier when he said “You have me.” Rather than come right out and profess his love, Jack coyly beats around the bush. It is the least direct thing Jack Bauer will do for the rest of the hour.

Meanwhile, Dana has snuck off to the woods of New Jersey to take care of the Kevin and Nick problem. The Fresh Prince, with some help from Arlo, heads out to find her. The hillbillies are partying in a van with some strippers. Naturally, the strippers never actually get naked, nor do they stick around for long. As a matter of fact, they are so offended by the hillbillies that they decide to walk all the way back to the strip club, through the woods in their stiletto heels. Dana, with a gun and silencer, moves in for the kill, but the Fresh Prince shows up just in time to stop her. They get in his car and Dana finally comes clean about all her dirty little secrets.

I sure hope Freddy had his seatbelt on when she broke that news to him. Meanwhile, back at CTU, Cruella De Smith grills Renee on her past with Vlad and brings her to tears and the brink of a murder confession. But before Renee breaks, Jack Bauer arrives and is apprised of the situation by Chloe. Naturally, his first inclination is to disable a guard and break into the interrogation room. Then he throttles Cruella by the throat and tells her to leave his woman alone. It is one of the most psychopathic and romantic things he’s ever done for a woman. That old softy.

An armed guard tries to stop Jack, but Jack uses a Jedi Mind Trick and just tells him to put the gun away before he gets hurt. Very Sergalicious. Fellas, if you want to impress a woman, I suggest you record this episode and take some notes. Jack and Renee seem bound for freedom (and the closest motel room) when suddenly another guard zaps Jack with a tazer. It’s the second time today that Jack has been subjected to electric shock, and this time he is taken down. I guess he does better with electric shocks if he is hanging by his wrists. They actually have a name for this condition; it’s called Mel Gibson - Lethal Weapon 1 Syndrome.

Meanwhile, Farthead is convinced by the other terrorists that it will be too difficult to get the rods out of the country, so they might as well use them as a bomb instead. But Farthead senses trouble and excuses himself to make a phone call. Once out of site, he whacks his escort with a wrench and is then chased by the other bad guys, who had intended to kill him. Boy, you just can’t trust a terrorist these days, huh?

Back in the woods, the Fresh Prince confronts Kevin and Nick and tells them to get out of town and never comeback. This seems like a good enough deal for Kevin, but as usual, Nick has to cause trouble. As soon as the Fresh Prince turns his back, Nick grabs a gun and moves to kill him. When Kevin protests, Nick stabs him. (I think Nick should go hang out with Farthead’s buddies.) Nick almost gets the drop on the Prince, but Kevin manages to warn Jenny with one of his last breaths… just in the NICK of time.
Get it?

Anyway, the Fresh Price avoids Nick’s shots and blows him away. Dana/Jenny rushes to Kevin and he dies in her arms after apologizing to her. Aww, I guess that evil hillbilly wasn’t so bad after all. GIT-R-DONE!!

I’m telling you, I think they cast this season with characters straight from the Jerry Springer Show. What’s next? Is Renee really Jack’s sister? Or maybe Kristen Smith will turn out to be a transvestite.

Back at CTU, Hastings reads the riot act to Jack, and Jack reads it right back to Hastings. But their testosterone pissing match is interrupted by a call from Farthead. When they hear that he is in danger and willing to make a deal, they mobilize a team to extract him. But since the Fresh Prince is missing, they team will be lead by a wide eyed young buck named Agent Owen, who I think may have been played by the Squeaky Voiced Kid from The Simpsons. Knowing this mission is doomed, Hasting agrees to back off of Renee if Jack comes back to CTU. And none of this in-and-out stuff, he’s gotta be all in, with both feet and a cherry on top. Jack agrees both verbally and non-verbally, but switching the strap on the Jack Sack from the “safety” to the “ready” position.

And that is our queue to strap ourselves in because Jack Bauer is now officially on the clock. It’s after midnight…
Were gonna cause talk and suspicion.
Were gonna give an exhibition.
Were gonna find out what it is all about.

See you next week.

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

24- Season 8.8 - 11pm: Hangin’ Tough

11 pm

In honor of President’s Day, let’s start off with a tip ‘o the cap to the Presidents of 24. Hail to the Chiefs.

1. Unknown. Remember? David Palmer was still a Senator in Season 1.
2. President David Palmer (Seasons 2-3)
3. President James Prescott (Season 2)
4. President John Keeler (Season 4)
5. President Charles Logan (Seasons 4 and 5)
6. President Hal Gardner (Season 5)
7. President Wayne Palmer (Season 6)
8. President Noah Daniels (Season 6 and Redemption)
9. President Allison Taylor (Redemption and Seasons 7-8)

I think Disney should have a wing in the Hall of Presidents for the 24 Commanders in Chiefs.

Heck, if Nixon can make it in the Hall of Presidents, then so should Charles Logan.

When we pick up tonight’s episode, we find Kevin and Nick, the two hillbilly thugs, at strip club in Jersey City. This actually makes a lot of sense. You just robbed a pile of cash and now it’s burning a hole in your pocket. Where else would two county bumpkins go? That’s the most plausible aspect of this plotline so far. I wish they had gone to the Bada Bing from The Sopranos. I’d love to see what Paulie Walnuts, Silvio and Christopher would have done to these hicks if they got out-of-line at The Bing. You’d probably never find the bodies.

While getting lap dances, they get on the phone with Dana and inform her that they are going back on their deal. Dana is a nice, blonde gravy train and they don’t want to get off just yet. She is mortified, but if she does not play along they will ruin her life. Back at CTU, Arlo continues to pry into her business and also tattles to the Fresh Prince that his fiancé is up to no good. Finally, Dana pulls the Prince aside and starts to tell him the truth, but she is interrupted before she can get to the good part. The Fresh Prince assures her that her past doesn’t matter, although I’m sure he’ll be eating those words soon enough. Dana may not even have to worry about her past ruining her career because she’s away from her desk so much as it is, she’s bound to get fired anyway. Chloe covers for her the first time, but the next time she is missing it’s because she has headed to the strip club, and she’s got a gun.

Now she’s really in for it. Assisting the hillbillies with the robbery was one thing, but carrying a gun into a nightclub… is she nuts? Didn’t she learn anything from Plaxico Burress?

Meanwhile, Jack is taken to Sergei’s restaurant to be interrogated. Jack is strung up and tortured with electric shocks and a few fingers in his stab wound. I’ll tell you what, as a person who writes a 24 blog, I wish I had a nickel for every time I wrote the words “Jack is strung up and tortured”. I’d be a rich man.

We’ve seen Jack Bauer get out of this very scenario before. Heck, it could be a rule in the 24 drinking game to do a shot every time he escapes hanging torture and another drink every time he kills a thug with his feet. It’s as second nature to him as riding a bike.

Back at CTU, Renee is brought back for debriefing and everyone is convinced she’s nuts. But all she cares about is Jack. Chloe urges her to remain calm and just fill out her report. So now, CTU has a computer person handling a field agent’s debrief. Is that really in her job description? Don’t they have handlers for that kind of thing? Does Chloe handle sales and marketing too? Maybe some accounting and web design as well?

Back at the UN, Hassan and his daughter bicker about her boyfriend who is in now custody. Not much to say here… I went to get a snack at this point.

Let’s get back to Jack. After he kills the interrogator, he kills the lights and calls Chloe so she can trace his location and send help. Then he sneaks around the restaurant in his bare feet and an open shirt, taking out Sergei’s men one by one. He must not have seen the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign posted at the entrance restaurant because of the bag over his head when he first arrived.

Sergei chases Jack around and shoots up the place with a shot gun. Jack ducks into the dining room and then flattens Sergei with a table after a brief game of cat and mouse. I guess you could say Jack really turned the tables on Sergei, huh?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.

The reinforcements arrive and Sergei tells Jack he will only disclose the location of the rods if he and his son get full immunity. Madam President agrees. Of course she does… she grants immunity almost as much as Jack escapes from hanging torture situations. We should make that part of the drinking game too.

The Fresh Prince takes a team to the location, but when they open the truck all they find are a couple of dead guards and an empty box with traces of radiation. The show ends with Sergei’s estranged son Josef on his way to deliver the rods to Hassan’s brother, Farthead.

Next week:
Just like at your office, when things go south, people look to cover their butts. This time it’s Renee who gets thrown under the bus.

Also, I should mention I have been reading a lot of buzz about a possible 24 movie in the works. Personally, I think 24 hours is a long time to sit in a theater, but if I can see Renee and Kim Bauer in 3D at the iMax, sign me up.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Want to get on the email alert list? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

24- Season 8.7 - 10pm: She’s My Cherry Pie

10 pm

If I had to divide this episode of 24 into a pie, I guess it would be in four slices.
1. One slice for Hassan and his obsession with anyone who might have had anything to do with his assassination attempt.
2. A small slice for Sergei, the Russian arms dealer who likes to keep his sons in the walk-in fridge.
3. A generous portion for Dana and her redneck ex-boyfriend.
4. A big, bloody slice for Renee and Jack.

Unfortunately, three out of four pieces of this pie were practically inedible. Luckily, we did get a classic 24 moment tonight that salvaged the pie… or the show. You know what I mean.

So first you take a bite out of the Hassan slice. How did it taste? Bland. First let me just say that keeping track of the names of Hassan’s people is almost impossible, so I will not even try in most cases.

Hassan’s chief or security implores him to layoff the harsh tactics and seemingly gets through to him. But when the Security guy goes to see Hassan’s daughter, Hassan has another security guard take over and arrests first guy, who happens to be dating his daughter.

Okay, nobody cares. Let’s move on to another slice. We find Sergei and his remaining son Josef in the refrigerator. I guess it’s because Sergei wants his son to cool off after he murdered his other son. Sergei assures Josef that he loves him and only wants the best for him and his family. Unfortunately, the corpse of the dead brother is there in the fridge next to the vodka and canned tomatoes, so it’s a little hard for Josef to take his dad seriously. It’s kind of like the Big Bad Wolf telling the Smart Little Pig to let him in because he just wants to talk. But the little pig can see the bloody remains of his brothers strew across the lawn, amongst the scattered twigs and straw. Too bad for Josef he’s locked in a cooler and not a nice brick house with a chimney.

Let’s move on. The next piece of the pie is Dana and her redneck boyfriend’s attempt at the Brinks job. Dana continues to sneak away from her post during a nuclear crisis in order to guide Kevin Wade and his buddy through the security system so they can steal the money in an evidence cage. They really should have got Larry the Cable Guy to play Kevin’s sidekick, because all that was missing from this mission was the two of these hillbillies yelling “Git-R-Done!” each time they successfully opened another lock.

Once inside, they have trouble locating cages that are numerically ordered and only get more frustrated when Dana throws more numbers at them. (Imagine them trying to figure out a tip.) The best part was when Wade’s sidekick squirts him with a loaded water pistol that happens to be in the evidence room. But the fun and games go south when they get greedy and linger too long. A cop shows up and gets the piñata treatment from the sidekick, who also found a bat in the evidence locker. (Apparently someone robbed a toy store.) So now Dana is screwed.

That piece of pie was a little better than the others, but still pretty lame. Luckily we have one slice left, and it must be cherry, because it’s oozing red liquid all over the place. Oh wait, that might just be because Renee stabbed it.

Jack arrives at Vlad’s place, where he tells Renee that he’s extracting her from the mission. Renee says “Like hell you are. I just let that sleaze ball have his way with me. I’m seeing this through.” So after enjoying some thickly sliced bread, Vlad starts calling potential uranium dealers. But sexy Renee is more distracting to him than Facebook is to people who work at a normal job, and she has to keep reminding him to focus on the task. Vlad calls Sergei, who denies having any knowledge of nuclear materials, as does everyone else in his rolodex. But Renee keeps pushes him to call them all back again. Finally he snaps and starts punching her. He gets in a few solid shots, but when Renee gets back up, she’s got a knife and she stabs him. And then she stabs him again, and again and again.

Jack rushes in to help/stop her, but startles her and she accidentally stabs him too. Jack goes down with the knife in his torso, but when one of Vlad’s goons comes in, Jack pulls it out, throws it and kills the bad guy.

Killing a guy with the very knife that just stabbed you... finally, we get a classic Jack Bauer moment. He should call that move The Jack Knife. I bet if he wasn’t distracted by Renee, he would have went back and cut up some more bread with that very same knife.

Renee crumbles into a sobbing mess and Jack tenderly dries her eyes. I bet they would have hooked up right there if it wasn’t for the nearby bloody corpse of her rapist. Its kind a buzz kill. (Sort of like the dead brother back in that refrigerator.)

So Jack puts a Band Aid on his stab wound just before Sergei’s men show up. It turns out he lied to Vlad and really wants to hear about this deal for the uranium. So Jack hides Renee in the closet and allows himself to be captured, secure in the fact that CTU will track his movements with their camera drones.

But Jack forgot that the only people more inept than Kevin Wade and Larry the Cable Guy are the folks at CTU. The Russian’s are smart enough to travel through a tunnel, so no one has any idea where Jack is taken.


Next week its Déjà vu as Jack is strung up and tortured with electricity. We’ve seen this before. All electricity does is make him stronger, like the Energizer Bunny… if the Energizer Bunny had a knife and a Jack Sack instead of a bass drum and mallet.

He keeps going, and going and going, dammit.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Want to get on the email alert list? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Ads 2010

Well, it’s the day after the Super Bowl and it was nice to see the City of New Orleans finally get a championship. I just wanted to quickly touch on a topic that is almost bigger than the game itself; the commercials.

I think Super Bowl commercials have jumped the shark a bit. Back in the days of Bud Bowl, Super Bowl commercials really were peaking. It was practically a “must-see” event. Now it’s hit or miss. This year had some good ones, but not too many that will be considered classics. Here are a few thoughts.

I think my favorite, as with a lot of people, was the Doritos House Rules, with the kid getting in the face of the guy who has arrived to pick up his mom for a date. “Do touch my mom and don’t touch my Doritos.” This is the line of the night, in my opinion. Doritos also scored with their Snack Attack Samurai ad.

The other ad that really worked for me was the TruTV - Troy Polamalu advertisement. Punxsutawney Polamalu was hilarious and probably the best visual of the night.

I have to admit, I am a Bud Light drinker, so I may be a bit biased, but more times than not, I love their commercials. Their Light House spot was funny, as was the Book Club, but I think I laughed at the Voice Box commercial the most.

“Laugh” is a key word here. These companies are paying a lot for these spots, and if they are not funny, interesting or ground breaking, people are disappointed and are more prone to go get another drink the next time that company’s commercial comes on. In light of that, the Google Parisian Love commercial was definitely a hit. Where I was everyone in the room was glued to that spot, and Google really made their point.

The Dr. Pepper commercial with Kiss was not great, but memorable. But I am a long-time member of the Kiss Army, and Mini-Kiss always cracks me up… so again, I am a little biased. I’m just curious... they are touting Dr. Pepper with a Kiss of Cherry, but wasn’t Dr. Pepper always a cherry flavored soda?

There was a lot of controversy over the Focus on the Family - Tim Tebow spot. I honestly don’t see the big deal. And speaking of controversy, the Go Daddy commercials were toned down this year. Let’s face it, Danica Patrick is pretty, but the old Go Daddy girl, Candace Michelle, made much more of an impact. Still, Go Daddy has established itself as the Hooters of web hosting and everyone certainly remembers their name.

Other spots of note:
· Hyundai - Brett Favre 2020 MVP : Funny, but we are almost as sick of Brett Favre’s self-parody as we are of his retirement flip-flops.
· Snickers – Betty White: C’mon, how can you go wrong with Betty White and Abe Vigoda.
· Motorola – Megan Fox: Okay, I swear, it’s not just because Megan Fox is hot. That was a funny ad.
· The Boost Mobile Super Bowl Shuffle Reunion: A callback to a Super Bowl classic, and almost as awkward as the original.
· FLO TV - Jim Nantz : Nantz just ripping that poor shlep who is shopping with his wife instead of watching the big game was funny… and just the kind of things real guys would say.
· eTrade – Wolf Style: I miss the old eTrade Baby, but they had great spots this year. The “Milkaholic, Milka-what” line is second place to Doritos for line of the night.
· The Emerald Nuts/Pop Secret – Dolphins : People swimming around like dolphins = awesome, or as they would say, “awesomer.”

If you missed one, need a refresher or just want to see all of the Super Bowl commercials again, you can click here.

What was your favorite?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

24- Season 8.6 - 9pm: Renee is Fragile (Must be Italian.)

9 pm

One word to describe that episode? Filler. This happens every so often each season; they have to set up a few dominoes so they have more stuff to knock over as the day progresses. Tonight we knocked down a few remaining plot lines and we started setting up some new ones.

Renee has passed Vlad’s little gun-to-the-head test and is taken back to his hideout. Jack implores CTU Director Hastings to pull Renee off the case because she’s like a bomb about to go off. Hastings denies Jack’s request. Looney or not, Renee is their only hope.

By the way, I agree with Mr. Bauer. Renee is a bomb, but this is the kind of bomb I think she is.

Meanwhile, Dana has magically reappeared at CTU. Just a few minutes ago she was home with abusive Kevin, so either she lives really close to work or she’s got a Star Trek transporter. But that makes no sense because she was on Battlestar Galactica, not Star Trek, and they don’t have transporters on that show.

Dana attempts to multi-task by doing her CTU work and her dirty work for Kevin at the same time. Then Arlo slithers over to ask her to help him with his over-heating drone, which sounds perverted, but is actually the least perverted thing Arlo says to her the entire time. When he senses that something is wrong with Dana, he asks Chloe about it. But Chloe is bitter and calls him out on being a creep. She also takes the opportunity to let loose on “Little Miss Perfect”, who she is obviously threatened by. She even suggests that Arlo probably wants to check out the junk in her own trunk. And sure enough, when she walks way, Arlo takes a nice long look at her humps and lovely lady lumps. But I’m sure she shook her money-maker a little extra, just because she knew he was watching.

Dana eventually figures out a way for Kevin to get his score. There’s some drug money, or something, being held in a warehouse. She can get him in by making him a pass card and talking him through it on a magic earplug. But Arlo observes Dana & Kevin on the CTU monitor, so now he knows something is up. He probably thinks she’s cheating on the Fresh Prince and will obviously insert himself into this situation in an effort to get laid. I’m taking bets now… who doesn’t survive this? Arlo or Dana?

Meanwhile, Joseph takes his sick brother to the doctor in Mt. Vernon to be treated for the radiation poisoning. The doctor treats the brother as best he can and instructs Joseph on how to administer continuing care. (I wonder if Madame President’s healthcare plan covers prescription drugs for Russian Arms Dealers.) But they are interrupted when their father’s men burst in and kill the doctor. Then they are dragged back to the Russian Tea Room. I noticed that they get back to Manhattan rather quickly… pretty much in less time that it would take just to find a parking space in New York.

When they get back, Sergei smacks Joseph around for disobeying him and then kills his other son. Thank goodness. Nobody cared about that guy and it just took us away from Jack and Renee. And now Joseph has a nice motive for betraying his father. See? One domino falls and another is set up.

The other plotline that got in the way of our Jack and Renee time was Hassan Chop’s continuing mission to round up all of the people involved with the attempt on his life. The international community is getting more and more uncomfortable with Hassan’s brutal tactics, but he doesn’t care. Despite the warnings of his subordinate, he has another one of his cronies rounded up, even though he is a close and trusted figure. Hassan trusts no one. After arresting the diplomat, the subordinate guy calls Hassan’s daughter to inform her of her father’s irrational behavior. My god… I’m just as bored typing this as I was watching it. Hopefully the payoff will be good when they finally knock these dominoes down, because the set up is dragging.

Finally, we get back to Renee and Jack. Vlad apologizes for raping Renee, which he apparently thinks is some sort of aphrodisiac. He’s surprised when Renee rebukes his advances, but he’s drunk… both on booze and love. Jack, who is listening, implores Renee to get out, but instead, she’s going dark… both figuratively and literally. Renee ditches her magic earplug and takes a shower. There’s 20 minutes until the drop, and she wants to get cleaned up, but instead she’ll be getting dirty. (Sex Bomb, Sex Bomb, you're my Sex Bomb....)

Now c’mon, this is unrealistic on so many levels, For one thing, what woman could get ready to go in under 20 minutes? But the shower is a good opportunity for Vlad to force himself on Renee. She decides to take one for the team, and four minutes later, the deed is done.

Jack dons his Harry Potter glasses and assumes his cover as Renee’s partner, Drew Carey, the uranium buyer. Vlad instructs his men to kill Drew Carey as soon as the transaction is complete. Renee unsuccessfully attempts to dissuade Vlad, and he chokes her instead. He’s such a romantic.

While Jack is speaking some impressive German, I realize he also looks a lot like Ralphie from A Christmas Story with those glasses on. But when the Russians make their move to kill Jack, it is their eyes that are shot out, along with their chests and heads. That’s because the Fresh Prince has been watching from a nearby sniper perch with a gun that’s a lot more powerful than an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model BB Gun.

Then Jack calls Vlad and warns him to not to fudge with him anymore. Kinda like when Ralphie finally beats up that bully in the snow. So Vlad agrees to go ahead with the deal.

Next week: Jack and Renee share a tender moment as all hell breaks loose around them, while Hastings gets a leg lamp and Flick’s tongue gets stuck to a frozen flagpole.

Oh Fudge.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Want to get on the email alert list? Drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com or post a comment below.