Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

David Anders: One of TV’s Unheralded Heroes February 10, 2011

Filed under: 24,Television,Vampire Diaries — Emily @ 12:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

He has played the son of a Russian mobster, the biological father of a vampire-loving teenager, an eternally young ne’er do well, and even the unfortunate victim of a corn-worshipping cult. But to me, he’ll always be Sydney Bristow’s charming, British-accented nemesis, Julian Sark. I’m talking about one of my favorite unheralded tv actors: David Anders.

Mr. Anders was one of the first celebrities who I investigated on IMDb, when I first discovered the website nearly a decade ago. Since I only knew him at the time through his character on Alias, I was surprised to learn that not only was he only in his early 20s, but he was from Oregon. In his role as Sark, he came across as much more mature than 20, and his British accent was so flawless that I had assumed he was really from England. Sadly, most of his subsequent roles haven’t featured such an attractive accent, nor have his characters met very satisfying fates. However, no matter how poorly written or short-lived a role is, if David Anders’ name is attached, I will always check it out. Let’s take a look at some of his work:

  • Alias – (2002-2006) – So far this has been Anders’ most impressive and memorable role. Sark was supposed to be a villain, but he was impossible to dislike! For awhile, the writers hinted that he and Sydney were half-siblings, and I wish that had been true. But at least he crossed over from the dark side in later seasons, to assist Sydney and company on some cases.
  • Heroes – (2007-2010) – Let me be clear. David Anders was the only reason I tuned in to season two of this show, which was already faltering big time by the end of the first season (and it only went down hill from there…) By the next season, Anders’ presence almost wasn’t enough to make me keep watching, the show had become so ridiculous. So when he was killed off with absolutely no fanfare, I immediately stopped watching, with no regrets. Even when his character was alive and well, this was not a villain you loved to love. He was annoying and selfish – not the best role for someone as attractive and charming as David Anders!
  • Children of the Corn – (2009) – Sadly, things didn’t get much better in his next role, SyFy’s tv remake of the classic ’80s horror movie of the same name. The original was campy enough (what was Linda Hamilton thinking?!), so why redo it? At least it gave me a chance to see David Anders again, in a slightly less annoying role than that of Adam Monroe on Heroes. As is usually the case in horror movies, Anders’ character didn’t meet a very good end.
  • 24 – (2010) – I had started to tire of Jack Bauer and company by the time this final season rolled around. (I never fully recovered from the bizarre direction they took Tony Almeida…) I was considering not watching, but then the names of the new cast started being announced: Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck was back!), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (that should be interesting…), and David Anders! So yet again, Anders became my motivation for watching a show. And his role as Josef Bazhaev didn’t disappoint. He was a “bad” guy, but he had the redeeming qualities of risking his own life to help his brother, and ultimately deciding to turn on his Russian mob father to help Jack save the day. It was a short-lived role, but a step in the right direction.
  • Vampire Diaries (2010-2011) – And now it appears that David Anders has found a new generation of fans on the CW. Many viewers of Vampire Diaries were probably starting kindergarten when Julian Sark first came to life on Alias. So to them, it’s not strange for him to be playing someone’s father on this show about a group of teenagers, two vampire brothers, and apparently a clan of werewolves (I stopped watching during the first season, so I’m not really sure what’s going on now…) But to me it’s very weird! He’s only 30 years old, and he’s playing father to Elena, who must be 18. Do the math. Then again, he has often played roles older than his real age. I did tune back in to this show to see him, but at the time it appeared to be his last episode (as had the episode before that, when he had been left for dead…) Plus, I admit to fast forwarding through the show and only watching his scenes. But I am glad that he is back on tv – hopefully for a prolonged stay this time.
  • The Riot (2011) – Perhaps this will be the year that Anders has a breakthrough year. He’s turning 30 in March, and he’s appearing in a feature length film called The Riot. It doesn’t exactly feature a top notch cast, but headliners Ron Perlman and Michael Clarke Duncan tend to have success in action movies. Based on the synopsis (four friends stick together and try to survive in a world “on the cusp of disaster”), it looks like he’ll be playing a good guy for once. Let’s hope this role will get David Anders noticed even more, so he can land some better roles, and I’ll only have to watch great shows to see him.
 

24 Season 8: The First 4 Hours January 20, 2010

After seeing all the action-packed promos for this season of 24, I was more excited about the show’s return than I had been for a few years. And the two-night, four hour season opener didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of twists and turns, and perhaps more importantly, there were a lot of new but familiar faces.

The cast of 24: Season 8

The Players

  • The Veterans – Superman Jack Bauer, the glue that holds the show together, is back, but is initially more subdued than normal. He’s too busy being a grandpa to Kim’s daughter Terri to burden himself with unraveling an assassination plot. Of course, being the noble hero that he is, he soon finds himself back at CTU, playing a crucial role in the investigation. Also returning is the lovably annoying Chloe O’Brien, who has managed to survive since she first joined CTU in season three. With as quickly as the bodies pile up on this show, it’s quite miraculous that she is still around. Jack and Chloe are the only two characters who have been around long enough to be considered veterans. (Well, there’s Kim, but it doesn’t seem like she will be very involved this season since she’s already on a plane back to L.A. with her family.) I’m holding out hope that Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce will show up again. He’s the closest thing to an Energizer bunny (besides Jack, of course) that the show has. He’s constantly in harm’s way, but always manages to survive.
  • The Sophomores – Returning for a second season are President Allison Taylor (fresh off a divorce initiated by her husband, who couldn’t forgive her for sending their daughter to prison for her involvement in a murder), and her loyal sidekick Ethan Kanin. Also back in the game is Agent Renee Walker, although she’s no longer working for the FBI. When we last saw her in season 7, she was about to go off the books in her interrogation of a suspect, and apparently she crossed a line that sent her to a very dark place. So far, Annie Wersching is doing a great job of portraying Walker’s new personality. She is void of emotion, her eyes look empty, and she doesn’t seem to care about anything. It’s crazy to say, but in her current state she’s like a crazier, female version of Jack!
  • The New Players
    • The Hassan Family – This season’s initial crisis involves a plot to assassinat President Omar Hassan, the leader of an unnamed Middle Eastern country. He is in the U.S. to meet with President Taylor about promoting peace, disarming nuclear weapons, etc., but someone wants him dead, which throws a few kinks in the peace summit. He is joined by his wife (although it appears they have a loveless marriage) and daughter (who seems very loyal to her father). We soon learn that his chief of staff and brother, Farhad, isn’t as loyal as Omar would like to believe.
    • CTU: New York – The first six seasons were set in L.A., and last season was in D.C. Season 8 takes us to the streets of New York, and so we meet a new batch of CTU agents and analysts. (It sure is convenient that Chloe got transferred to this branch when Morris lost his job!) The head of CTU, Brian Hastings, seems to be as clueless as many of his predecessors, since junior analyst Chloe has a better handle on the situation than he does. And there’s the usual melodrama among the geek squad, with newbie Dana Walsh being terrorized by a former boyfriend who is threatening to expose her deep dark secret, and sneaky Arlo Glass, who spends most of his time either hitting on or spying on Dana. The one thing this CTU branch seems to have going for it is Agent Cole Ortiz, who is like a Jack-in-Training. He’s already pulled off a couple of Jack-worthy saves, so I have my fingers crossed that he will make it through this season.
    • Odds and Ends
      • Rob Weiss – He’s President Taylor’s new, young Chief of Staff. I’m not sure what to think of him yet.
      • Meredith Reed – She is the reporter who Hastings was convinced was working against Hassan, but it turns out the only thing she had to hide was the affair she’s been having with Hassan. Oops! That information is sure to resurface, especially since Farhad knows about it. I have a feeling he may use it to try to blackmail his brother.
      • The Villains – The first villain on the scene was President Hassan’s brother, Farhad, and as the plot thickened (by way of a series of tattoos on the assassin’s body), we were introduced to members of a Russian Crime Syndicate. The apparent leader goes by the name Bazhaev, and he has two sons, one who appears to be dying in a wine cellar, and the other, Josef, who is skeptical about getting involved with Farhad. One more thing about the tattoed assassin, Davros – I immediately recognized actor Doug Hutchinson as the man who played creepy Eugene Tooms on a couple episodes of The X-Files. Strangely, I didn’t remember until I read his filmography that he also played Horace Goodspeed on Lost. I guess it was the long haired hippie look that threw me off.

Familiar Faces

As I mentioned earlier, I was especially looking forward to this season because of some familiar actors who would be joining the cast:

  • Katee Sackhoff – Little Miss Starbuck seems to be playing a more feminine, weaker character than the fearless, aggressive Kara Thrace. But I am intrigued by her mysterious back story. Her name was Jenny, she was apparently poor and ran with a bad crowd, yet somehow she found a new identity as Dana Walsh and landed a job at CTU?
  • Freddie Prinze, Jr. – On today’s edition of “Whatever Happened To…,” we welcome back Mr. She’s All That, or if you prefer, Summer Catch. This former teen heart throb is hanging up his dancing shoes and picking up a gun. I must say, I like him as an intense, determined agent. He and Sarah Michelle Gellar have been married for almost 8 years now, and as a fan of Buffy, I kind of liked him more after they were together. All that to say, I’m glad to have him on the show.
  • David Anders! – Yes, I felt that the exclamation point was necessary. Ever since he played Julian Sark on Alias, I have had a major tv crush on David Anders, and his knack for accents. While even he couldn’t save the recent remake of Children of the Corn, I am hoping to see good things from him as a Russian villain on 24. I am even holding out hope that he will eventually turn on his father and help Jack save the day. Probably just wishful thinking, but that’s a much better alternative than Jack putting him in a choke hold and killing him!
  • Anil Kapoor – When I saw the 24 previews, I knew this was a familiar face, but I couldn’t place it. Then it hit me: “Who wants to be a… Mill-on-are!” President Hassan was the game show host on Slumdog Millionaire. So far he is doing an excellent job with this more serious role.
  • Mykelti Williamson – He’ll always be Fearless from Boomtown to me. I loved him on that show, and while he’s not nearly as likable here, it’s still nice to see him. And there’s still time for him to exhibit some more redeemable qualities.
  • Callum Keith Rennie – There must be a Battlestar Galactica connection on the casting staff, because joining Starbuck from that show is Leoben, one of the Cylons. He hasn’t made an appearance yet, except in photographs, but he will be one of the Russian villains.

Where Are We Going?

So, the initial storyline was introduced and somewhat resolved: the assassination attempt on President Hassan. With 20 hours still left, what can we expect?

  • Jack and Renee go undercover – In another convenient backstory detail, it turns out that Agent Walker was the FBI’s top undercover agent with the Russian mob. With one phone call, she swoops into CTU and is ready to go back into the field. Her decision to violently remove her contact’s parole bracelet at the end of the fourth hour was truly shocking. What in the world?! She is dead serious about playing her part, I suppose. It will be interesting to see Jack play the level headed one next to her crazy out of control self. Their goal: um, not sure yet. I suppose they need to find out what weapons the Russians plan to sell to Farhad, and what he plans to do with them.
  • The Russians and Farhad plot their evil deeds – There’s much to be discovered about this plot line, which has only just been introduced.
  • Presidents Taylor and Hassan continue their peace negotiations – I am sure that CTU’s investigation will continue to put pressure on these peace talks, and will threaten to end them. Then there’s the looming threat of Hassan’s affair becoming public knowledge.
  • Jack’s desire to get to L.A. – As Kiefer Sutherland said in a recent interview, Jack has a different mindset this season because he has something to fight for: a new, happy life with his daughter and granddaughter in L.A. So while he’ll still be fighting for truth and justice, he’ll also be trying to make it through the day in one piece.
  • CTU shenanigans – What will become of Dana and Cole’s engagement? Will Dana be able to get rid of her old boyfriend, or will he expose the truth? Will Hastings shape up as director, or will he be replaced? (If only Bill were still alive…)

It looks like this season is shaping up to be a great one. The only thing I didn’t like was when Jack got tortured in the basement by that cop who thought he was a cop killer. I thought it was too early in the season for such over the top melodrama. All the action leading up to and during Agent Ortiz’s heroic car swerving maneuver, which saved President Hassan’s life, was truly thrilling, and the turn of events afterwards was just as intriguing. What have you thought about this season so far?

 

2009 Emmy Awards: Predictions, Results, and Reactions September 20, 2009

The 2009 Emmy Awards have come and gone. How did Neil Patrick Harris fare as host? Which stars were best dressed, and which ones were worst? And most importantly, who took home awards? This year’s Emmy Awards ceremony was Mad Men themed, from the opening images of the stars’ arrivals with voiceover narration, to Neil Patrick Harris’s old school opening number, to the comic book page set up of the various camera views before commercial breaks. They also had Jon Hamm be one of the first presenters, along with Tina Fey. This show isn’t shy about playing favorites!

Speaking of 30 Rock, it won for Best Writing in a Comedy Series, with Matt Hubbard accepting the award for the episode “Reunion.” The Office, not to be outdone, won in the Best Directing for a Comedy Series category (Jeffrey Blitz for “Stress Relief”). When the show shifted gears to Reality Programming, I was initially irritated to see two dancers from Dancing with the Stars, but then some of my favorite SYTYCD performers appeared on stage, including season four winner Joshua, in a routine choregraphed by Tabitha and Napoleon. It was also nice to see Hugh Jackman’s excellent opening number from the Oscars win for “Best Original Music and Lyrics.” After that, the show settled into a dreary sea of cliched banter between presenters, and boring acceptance speeches. The awards that pleased me most were all of 30 Rock’s wins and Michael Emerson’s win for Best Actor in a Drama. The most disappointing category was Jon Cryer beating out everyone else for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

As for the fashion, or lack thereof, my pick for Worst Dressed goes to Patricia Arquette, who appeared to be wearing a black “Hefty trash bag” as a dress. Vanessa Williams’ aqua blue dress was pretty unflattering as well. Gabriel Byrne was looking rather unkempt with his loosened tie and wrinkled shirt (at least by the time they showed him in the crowd late in the show). On the other hand, my picks for Best Dressed go to Kyra Sedgwick, Alyson Hannigan (who looked great in a classic black straplessdress), and Justin Timberlake. I didn’t pay close attention to all the dresses and tuxes, though, so I am sure there are other good and bad choices I could have gone with.

NPH didnt win an Emmy, but he was a fun host.

NPH didn't win an Emmy, but he was a fun host.

So how did Neil Patrick Harris do as host? Sure, there were some awkward moments, but also some funny ones. I liked how every presenter was introduced by naming some obscure show or movie they appeared in. I double-checked the authenticity of some of them on IMDB because they sounded so ludicrous. Best moment of the night, though: Dr. Horrible interrupting the token Ernst and Young “Emmy vote tabulation process” explanation to proclaim that television is dead and Internet is the new king of entertainment. It was a clever and creative diversion, with bonus points for appearances by Nathan Fillion and other Dr. Horrible cast members, and a few musical moments.

Read on for a list of nominees in the major categories, as well as my predictions about and reactions to the winners.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Neil Patrick Harris – please, please, please let him win this year! He has totally deserved it for the past two seasons, so I am hoping that the third time is the charm, especially since, as host, he will already be up on stage to accept his award.
  • Who I thought would win: Since Emmy voters tend to like over the top comedy, they might award Rainn Wilson, but I really think NPH has a good shot at it.
  • Who actually won: Jon Cryer. That is just outrageous. There are no words. At least it provided ample material for a funny running bit for NPH.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
  • Who I wanted to win: Kristin Chenoweth – Wouldn’t it be nice if Pushing Daisies could have one last moment of recognition? I don’t think it will happen, though.
  • Who I thought would win: Elizabeth Perkins – I’ve never seen an episode of Weeds, so I can’t give an opinion on whether or not Perkins deserves the award, but she seems to fit the Emmy voter bill.
  • Who actually won: Kristin Chenoweth! Hooray! What an excellent start to the evening. Her acceptance speech proved that she was totally surprised by the win.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
William Hurt, Damages
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Michael Emerson – He was so perfect last season as Benjamin Linus that it almost causes me physical pain to imagine him not winning in this category. Well then, I guess I should plug in my heating pad, because my muscles and joints are bound to start aching when the actual winner is announced.
  • Who I thought would win: If Emmy stands by its old, boring, and infuriating habits, William Shatner will win. If that happens, I will be furious. If the voters decide to mix things up, they might award John Slattery instead, since Mad Men is the trendy show du jour. (I’ve never watched it, so again, my opinion doesn’t really count.)
  • Who actually won: Michael Emerson!!! I am so thrilled that he won. He earned it, and it gives Lost the respect it deserves. He gave a very sincere, if creepy, acceptance speech. (It’s that voice of his!)
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Cherry Jones, 24
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Rose Byrne, Damages
  • Who I wanted to win: Back when I watched Grey’s Anatomy, I always liked Chandra Wilson’s performance, so I guess I’d be happy for her to win. Even though 24 is the only show in this category that I watch, I don’t think that Cherry Jones’ performance as the President makes her deserving of the award over these other women.
  • Who I thought would win: Dianne Wiest – Just a wild guess, but she does arguably have the most impressive track record among these nominees.
  • Who actually won: Cherry Jones. Ok. Good for her.
Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
  • Who I wanted to win: Alec Baldwin – He is always pitch perfect as Jack Donaghy and so is completely deserving of this one. It’s also nice to see Jemaine Clement nominated for his hilarious work on Flight of the Conchords, but he’s up against some heavy hitters in this category!
  • Who I thought would win: Alec Baldwin – Amazingly, Baldwin seems to be as popular with Emmy voters as with the viewing public. As long as Charlie Sheen doesn’t win, I’ll be happy.
  • Who actually won: Alec Baldwin. I’m mainly just relieved that Rob Lowe didn’t call Charlie Sheen’s name. Alec gave a very polished and efficient acceptance speech.
Outstanding Actress, Drama
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: I don’t feel strongly about any of these nominees.
  • Who I thought would win: Glenn Close – She plays a powerful character on a risk-taking show, and that makes her quite a one-two punch to Emmy voters.
  • Who actually won: Glenn Close. Predictable.
Outstanding Actor, Drama
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Michael C. Hall! This is an extremely strong category, and it is highly doubtful that the Emmy voters will reward someone for playing a serial killer over some of the more noble characters represented. However, I think he does an amazing job as Dexter Morgan, and beyond that, that Dexter more accurately represents the human psyche than many of the other nominees.
  • Who I thought would win: Hugh Laurie. He’s always an Emmy favorite, but then there’s the trendy choice of Jon Hamm. As much as I love Simon Baker, he seems out of his league in this group. But I am setting all my hopes on Michael C. Hall winning. Fingers crossed!
  • Who actually won: Bryan Cranston. Come on, Emmys, how about letting someone else win? Then again, maybe I need to check out this show.
Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
  • Who I wanted to win: Tina Fey
  • Who I thought would win: Tina Fey. She and the whole cast, as well as the writing, have been so good. They deserve to sweep most of the comedy categories (except for NPH’s category, of course).
  • Who actually won: Toni Collette. I’m okay with this. Spread the love a little beyond 30 Rock. Strangely, I know absolutely nothing about the show she was nominated for, United States of Tara. Perhaps I should check it out.
Outstanding Series, Comedy
30 Rock
Family Guy
Entourage
The Office
Flight of the Conchords
Weeds
How I Met Your Mother
  • What I wanted to win: 30 Rock
  • What I thought would win: 30 Rock. Like I said above, it’s the funniest, most consistently well done comedy on tv right now.
  • What actually won: 30 Rock. Yeah, this show’s gonna be on for many seasons to come.
Outstanding Series, Drama
Breaking Bad
Damages
Dexter
House
Lost
Mad Men
Big Love
  • What I wanted to win: Lost or Dexter, but I think Lost’s ship sailed a long time ago. Even though it just had its best season ever, I think the Emmy voters have already forgotten about it. I also think that season three was Dexter’s best season yet. So fascinating and well executed (pun intended – can’t help myself).
  • What I thought would win: House? Well, I wouldn’t award this medical drama for the uneven season it had, but then the Emmy voters don’t judge a show by an entire season so much as the one episode that is submitted. I don’t know much about the other four shows that are nominated, but if I were to pick one of them as the winner I would go with Mad Men.
  • What actually won: Mad Men (Excuse me while I roll my eyes. Then again, maybe I need to see what all the fuss is about with this show.)
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef
  • Who I wanted to win: Well, I wanted Cat Deeley to win, but she wasn’t nominated. 😦
  • Who I thought would win: Jeff Probst. But do I care? Not really. I don’t watch any of these shows. As long as it’s not Tom Bergeron…
  • Who actually won: Jeff Probst
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
  • What I wanted to win: The Colbert Report
  • What I thought would win: The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert is so great on that show.
  • What actually won: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef
  • What I wanted to win: Don’t really care
  • What I thought would win: The Amazing Race (doesn’t it win every year?)
  • What actually won: The Amazing Race
Outstanding Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow
Dirty Jobs
Dog Whisperer
Intervention
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
MythBusters
  • What I wanted to win: Dirty Jobs. I do love that Mike Rowe. He should be rewarded for what an easygoing, entertaining host he is.
  • What I thought would win: I honestly have no idea. Maybe Intervention, since it’s the most serious on the list?
  • What actually won: Intervention
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Brenda Blethyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Carol Burnett, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Sharon Lawrence, Grey’s Anatomy
CCH Pounder, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
  • Who I wanted to win: N/A
  • Who I thought would win: Sharon Lawrence
  • Who actually won: Ellen Burstyn
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Edward Asner, CSI: NY
Ernest Borgnine, ER
Ted Danson, Damages
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me
Jimmy Smits, Dexter
  • Who I wanted to win: Jimmy Smits, please! He was simply amazing as Miguel Prado, and I have spoken at length about it in previous posts.
  • Who I thought would win: Jimmy Smits (wishful thinking, perhaps, but he really was that good!)
  • Who actually won: Michael J. Fox
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Gena Rowlands, Monk
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock
Betty White, My Name Is Earl
  • Who I wanted to win: Tina Fey
  • Who I thought would win: Tina Fey
  • Who actually won: Tina Fey
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Alan Alda, 30 Rock
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock
Steve Martin, 30 Rock
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
  • Who I wanted to win: Jon Hamm
  • Who I thought would win: Jon Hamm. He was terrific as Liz Lemon’s perfect guy, Dr. Drew.
  • Who actually won: Justin Timberlake. How about SNL getting some recognition in the guest acting category?

So, what were you happy or disappointed about on this year’s Emmy Awards? Or, did you not even watch?

 

24: Digesting the Last Four Hours May 25, 2009

Filed under: 24,Television — Emily @ 5:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

So I finally finished watching this season of 24. Considering that I was five episodes behind as of three days ago, it’s impressive that I only finished a week past the finale’s air date. For some reason, my interest in the show waned about mid April. Crazy, right? How can you just stop watching 24 midstream? It was around the time that it was revealed that Tony was, in fact, bad after all. I was disappointed by this turn of events, and was annoyed by all the drama with Olivia at the White House. Thankfully, I was happy to see the plot take a couple of last minute detours to give us a high octane, fascinating finish to the season.

I’m always amazed when I think back to the beginning of any given season of 24, and realize how many turns the story has taken since then. It’s no different this time around. I blogged about the first four hours of season seven back in January; so many characters that were integral in those episodes, and all the storylines that kept us tuning in, are things of the distant past now. Jack was working with Agent Walker, as well as Bill, Chloe, and Tony. Their enemy was a Sangalan warlord who had ties to corrupt American goverment officials. Fast forward to the end of the season, and all the Sangalans have either been killed off or taken into custody. Jack’s crew changed several times over the course of the season. He turned on Agent Walker a couple of times, and Tony turned on Jack a couple of times. Bill sacrificed his own life to save the President, and Chloe was arrested and then released again to help save the day. As for the White House events, I wasn’t a huge fan of the siege during which Bill died. Once that settled down, though, I found the family politics of President Taylor and her daughter mildly entertaining. Olivia could have been this year’s Kim, but she was just intriguing enough to escape that stigma.

Rather than summarize the closing hours of the season, since everyone probably watched them before I did, I’ll give my opinion on the major plot turns the writers gave us as the clock ticked down.

  • The Shadow Organization’s Plot to Release a Bioweapon in D.C. – As ludicrous as this story was, that a secret organization would throw caution to the wind and throw together a last minute terrorist attack in a desperate attempt to seize control of the U.S. government, it was highly entertaining. I try not to analyze the motivations of this organization too much. I mean, we don’t know what issues they had with the current U.S. government (other than what Jonas Hodges ranted about), or what they intended to do if they somehow gained control and seized power. But at least the writers tied up some loose ends from previous seasons, including explaining President Logan’s involvement with these people and identifying the mastermind responsible for Michelle and President Palmer’s deaths. Back to the bioweapon plot: they cast a likable actor (Omid Abtahi, who recently played Tony the tech guy on My Own Worst Enemy) to play a character we wanted to survive his unfortunate circumstances. As Jibraan, the innocent immigrant that Tony’s gang chose as the fall guy for their operation, he humanized the already disturbing chain of events. To say that the action in these episodes was fast-paced is putting it mildly. From Jack and Renee’s frantic rush to locate Tony and the device, to Jibraan racing up the stairs of the subway, and finally to Jack throwing the bioweapon into a sealed compartment just in the nick of time, this would have been a satisfying final chapter to the season. Instead, we got a final burst of intense plot twists.
  • Olivia’s been a very bad girl – Another silly element of this season was President Taylor’s quick reconciliation with her estranged daughter Olivia, and her even swifter appointment of her as her Chief of Staff. But once I got used to Olivia acting like a spoiled, selfish child all the time, I was entertained by this campy diversion from the main events. In a moment of understandable anger over Jonas Hodges’ escape from prosecution for a life in Witness Protection, she orders a hit on his life, only to back out at the last minute. Too bad for her that her shady contact told the hitman to proceed anyway. What followed was a series of events during which Olivia got what she’d had coming to her for a long time. I love that Aaron and Ethan Kanin worked together to uncover the truth – I knew that Ethan didn’t have the real data card on him when Olivia detained him. At least Olivia came around in the end, and was brave enough to confess the truth of her actions to her mother and father. That scene was well played by all involved. How awful was it when Henry Taylor told his wife that her career is the reason that their son is dead? I really thought that maybe she was going to resign the presidency and try to work on the issues with her husband and daughter. But instead, she alienated herself from both of them by doing the right thing – turning Olivia over to the justice department. I’m curious about who actually planted the bomb that killed Hodges, and if this story will surface again next season. I see some potential for more development…
  • Kim and the Cougar – In a strange and subtle way, the 24 writers revisited the now infamous scene from season two (?) in which Kim evaded a cougar in the California wilderness. This time around the cougar wasn’t an animal, but the human version, as in an older woman (Sarah) dating a younger man (Bob). Maybe it’s a stretch for me to find a connection between the two, but that’s how I see it. I’m happy to say, though, that this time around, the story was much more believable and entertaining. Kim has wised up over the years, and it was fun to see her step into her dad’s role of following a suspect, once bad guys Bob and Sarah realized their act as a married couple wasn’t fooling her anymore. (And that quick and deathly airport shootout was really something, too.) Kim’s quick thinking move to grab Bob’s laptop from his burning car ultimately led the FBI to Jack, and allowed them to take Tony and Wilson into custody. Well done, Kim. Now get back home to your husband and daughter. And really, there’s no need for you to pay your dad a visit next season. Quit while you’re ahead. 🙂
  • Jack in mortal peril – Poor, poor Jack. If he’s not being exposed to a deadly bioweapon or betrayed by his longtime comrade, he’s being blackmailed into helping terrorists escape custody and having his organs harvested to engineer a new strain of the bioweapon! Of course, we knew he wouldn’t actually die, even though various characters kept reminding us that he had only hours to live. They even sent in a spiritual advisor to talk to him in his last moments. By the time next season begins, Kim’s willingness to try the stem cell treatment will have proved effective, and Jack will be back to his superhero strength and resolve – maybe with an occasional moment of confusion or some anger management issues as remnants of his exposure. But even though we knew Jack would survive, watching him endure all these horrible things while also dealing with incapacitating symptoms, made for some exciting television! I was certainly surprised when he jumped off the stretcher and killed Tony’s medical team with a few flicks of a scalpel and a couple of head locks.
  • Tony’s Grand Plan for Revenge – This remains the most disappointing aspect of the season for me. In the initial promos, we saw Tony was clearly the bad guy. But then, a few episodes in, they told us he wasn’t actually bad. Then we found out he was bad after all and had been playing both sides. But wait… that wasn’t exactly the whole story. He wasn’t doing all this because he was evil. He was simply trying to find closure on what happened to Michelle. Turns out that the same mastermind of this shadow organization is the man responsible for ordering the hit on Michelle. So, we’re supposed to believe that Tony was willing to let thousands of innocent people die, and betray his few remaining friends, just so he would have a chance to meet face to face with Alan Wilson, and kill him? I like to think that Tony was a bigger person than that. He wouldn’t be so self-absorbed and obsessed with revenge that he would forget all his training as a CTU operative, his oath to protect the innocent, and so on and so forth. But as much as I hated seeing Tony so lost and gone over to the dark side, the final revelation that he was motivated by revenge was a better option than that he was simply evil or crazy. Well, I think he was a little crazy – make that a lot crazy. Attaching explosives to Jack and using him as a weapon to reach Wilson?! I really thought Jack was going to have to kill Tony when Tony wouldn’t get out of the way for them to detain Wilson. Instead, Jack shot him in the arm. Tony’s deranged, furious speech in this scene was a bit too campy for my taste, but then the climactic 24 moment of the villain’s fall is often over done. Such is the nature of the show.

The only other thing I have to say about the final episodes is that there was a recurring theme of making tough choices and dealing with the consequences. Olivia chose to end a man’s life, but couldn’t handle it when people found out what she did. President Taylor had to decide between maintaining her integrity as a world leader, or keeping what remained of her family in one piece. Kim had to risk her own safety to keep sight of the man who could lead to her father, and she succeeded. Tony stubbornly stuck to his plan to carry out revenge for Michelle’s death, despite the high cost of lives and his own conscience. Chloe risked losing her life to help Jack save countless more lives, even though it meant she might never see her husband and child again. And perhaps most chilling, Agent Taylor apparently succumbed to her season long battle between doing what was right and doing what was necessary, as she took off her badge and stepped into Wilson’s interrogation room, to, we can assume, torture him into giving up the names of the other people in his organization.

All things considered, I think this was one of the best seasons of 24. It was well worth the long, strike-induced wait. I look forward to watching next season, but I don’t mind having seven months to catch my breath!

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Random Thoughts on TV: March 2009 March 24, 2009

Lately, I can’t seem to find the time to write a detailed post on anything other than episodes of Lost. Since I’m short on time, I’ve decided to compile my thoughts on various tv show happenings into one random post. First up, American Idol.

  • American Idol – I’m not missing this show at all this season. Althought last season I cheered for David Cook and was amazed when America actually chose him as the winner, I didn’t feel compelled to watch again this year. How could this season live up to last? What were the chances that my favorite contestant would actually win again (I’m still bitter about Jennifer Hudson’s too early ouster all those years ago)? Despite my decision not to keep up with the show this year, I’ve seen an episode here and there, since some of my friends and family are watching. From what I’ve seen, I think I made the right choice to steer clear. The talent pool seems to be extremely lacking. There are some good voices, some pretty faces, but not much star power. Of course, my assessment might have been somewhat colored by the fact that I sampled the Top 11 on country music week (I can’t stand this genre!). I’ll continue to hear updates on this season through the grapevine, but meanwhile I’ll be eagerly awaiting the superior So You Think You Can Dance.
  • Battlestar Galactica – “So Say We All!” So say we all that we don’t want this show to be over. 😦   The series finale aired last Friday, but we haven’t watched yet, partly because I haven’t had a good two hour window in which to watch the finale in its entirety, but mainly because my husband and I feel like if we don’t watch it, then the show isn’t over yet. Warped logic, I know, but it will just be so sad to see the credits roll for the last time. On the other hand, we are anxious to see how it all ends, so I have a feeling we’ll watch in the next few days. This season has been excellent, from the surprising revelation of the fifth Cylon’s identity, to Roslin and Adama’s understated yet enduring relationship, to the changing dynamic between the Cylons and humans. I am seriously considering purchasing the entire series on DVD once it’s available, and forcing my skeptical friends and family (you know who you are!) to watch it. Plus, I want to watch it from beginning to end to clear up all the confusion about the mythology that the breaks between seasons caused.
  • 24 – This has been an excellent season! President Taylor is a vast improvement over the past couple of characters to inhabit the show’s fictional oval office. I hope we see more of her husband as well, because he is a very likable character. In fact, I have enjoyed all the new characters (except maybe for FBI traitor Sean, who seems to be out of the picture now), particularly Agent Walker, Agent Moss (can’t help but love Jeffrey Nordling from his days on Once and Again), and Janis the brooding computer whiz. And the show has managed to shift gears from the face-off with Sangalan warlords to an American-led national threat without grasping at straws. Hats off to the writers for reinventing 24 this season! The move from L.A. to D.C. was a smart one.
  • Life on Mars – Boo to ABC for cancelling this excellent show, but kudos to the network for at least giving the showrunners enough notice to provide viewers with answers and give the show a proper send-off. I hate it when shows are cancelled last minute, and viewers are left forever wondering what happened next. (One example of this is Invasion, from a few years ago, which was flawed but intriguing, and never got a chance to tell its story in full.) I love the characters on Life on Mars. Jason O’Mara is my new tv crush – I hope he finds a successful follow-up role to Sam Tyler. I’ve even grown to like the annoyingly sexist Ray Carling (played by the terrific Michael Imperioli). But most impressive is the fact that I like Harvey Keitel as Lt. Hunt. He is brazen, insensitive, but unwaveringly loyal to his co-workers. Before this show, I had never been able to move past Harvey Keitel’s blatant display of nudity in The Piano. Harvey Keitel’s completely naked body isn’t something that I ever wanted to see, and it wasn’t an easy image to shake from my memory. Thanks to Life on Mars and Lt. Hunt, I have a much more pleasant (and fully clothed!) image to associate with the actor.  I’ll certainly miss the characters, the fantastic music, the quirky tone, and everything else about this show, but hopefully we’ll get some answers and Sam Tyler will have some kind of happy ending. (If I were him I’d rather stay with Annie than go back to Lisa Bonet.)
  • The Office – I haven’t enjoyed The Office as much this season. Certainly there have been some outstanding episodes, but the quality has been inconsistent. Take, for instance, last week’s episode, in which Michael made a fool of himself because he didn’t like having the new VP calling the shots in his office. (This episode also had Jim in the unfamiliar role of the stupid guy, when he wore a tux to the office on the day he should have been impressing the new VP.) Michael has come across as the annoying idiot far too often this season – on every phone call with David Wallace, when he tried to blame Dwight for the golden ticket idea then tried to take it back, when he traveled with Pam to give some presentations at other branches, etc. We haven’t seen much of Toby and Ryan this season. Where are they? Then there’s the awkwardness of the Angela/Dwight/Andy love triangle, the dissolution of which has left Andy with little purpose on the show. How about less of the dynamic idiot due of Michael and Dwight, and more of the awkward office politics  and interaction among the quirky characters (how great was it when Oscar and Andy befriended one another on the trip to Canada?).
  • 30 Rock – While The Office has lost points with me, 30 Rock’s stock is rising. It is consistently funny and smart, even when it’s absurd. I love that Jenna is always getting one-upped by Tracy, that Liz can’t find a stable relationship, that Jack isn’t really as together as he’d have everyone believe (and I love how his relationship with Salma Hayek’s character has developed), etc. Earlier this season I applauded the show for its hilarious tribute to Night Court. The writers outdid themselves again recently with a Harry and the Henderson’s themed episode. I guess I grew up watching the same tv and movies as the 30 Rock writers, because I love their retro pop culture references. Not only did they show the ridiculously sentimental clip of John Lithgow telling Harry to go away and live in the woods, but they wove this idea into the very fabric of the episode, by having Jack use a similar tactic to convince Frank he should give up on law school, and by having a young father witness this debacle between two fatherless men, thus convincing him to stay with his girlfriend and raise their baby together. Not to mention having John Lithgow himself running into Liz Lemon on the elevator. Brilliant!

Even more random thoughts:

  • I am growing tired of The Mentalist’s leaps from horrific death scenes to happy music and silly jokes. A notable example is last week’s episode, in which one character went from shooting and killing a suspect to joking with Patrick in a matter of seconds. I’m all for light-hearted crime shows, but sometimes too much lightheartedness can seem insensitive.
  • The episodes of Friday Night Lights are piling up on my DVR. I now have six unwatched episodes. I assume this is the final season, so perhaps this is my way of making the show last longer (as I am attempting with the finale of Battlestar Galactica).
  • I am missing Fringe during its spring break. I look forward to its final fun of new episodes when it returns in April. Surely this show will be renewed for next season. It is the best new show of the year, in my opinion (with Life on Mars as a close second).
  • I didn’t need to say much about Lost here since I’ve devoted individual posts to each episode of the season. All I’ll say is that I think this is the best season yet, or at least as good as season one. I love how the show has reinvented itself time and again. And I love that Sawyer has taken on a more integral role.

I feel better now. It was good to get all of these ideas out of my head and onto the Internet. How are you feeling about tv these days? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

 

24: Digesting the First Four Hours January 13, 2009

Filed under: 24,Television — Emily @ 12:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hold on. Let me catch my breath… Okay, I’m ready to digest the first four hours of my favorite tv thriller, 24, which returned with its seventh season this week. So far I am enthusiastically on board with where the writers are taking us. Let’s take a look at the three main story lines, which appear to be interconnected, and the new and returning characters.

The Story So Far

  • Jack Bauer and his gang of merry men – Jack got a temporary escape from his uncomfortable senate hearing courtesy of the FBI, who wanted his help in locating Tony Almeda (he’s alive – no surprise since his face has been plastered all over the previews). Tony appears to be leading a group of domestic terrorists in a plot to use a device that threatens U.S. air traffic, water treatment facilities, etc. Despite repeated warnings that he must play by their rules, Jack soon has Agent Renee Walker lying to her boss and otherwise crossing the line into ethically questionable territory, all in the name of doing what it takes to find Tony. When they do find Tony, Jack interrogates him and manages to get Tony to whisper one phrase in his ear: Deep Sky. Enter our favorite former CTU director, Bill Buchanan, looking all rugged and handsome with his silver hair and street clothes.

Turns out that Tony is working deep undercover, with only Bill and Chloe as his compatriots. Once Bill fills Jack in on the basics via a cell phone conversation, Jack does what Jack does best: sneaks out of FBI headquarters with Tony. Fast forward a bit, and now Jack and Tony are working together with the bad guys (and Tony’s colleagues of three years – he’s only been “good” again for a brief time), doing what’s necessary to maintain their cover as they try to locate Colonel Dubaku. Supposedly, if they can get their hands on Dubaku, they can get the names of the high level U.S. officials who are involved in a mass conspiracy to… do something. I’m not really clear yet on what the conspiracy involves, other than causing a war in Sangala.

Bottom line: Bill, Chloe, Tony, and Jack are risking everything and working against the government all in the name of getting to the bottom of a government conspiracy. Is this the same conspiracy that President Logan was a puppet in? I hope so. There would have to be massive corruption to justify what our former CTU crew is doing. I’d think it’s very difficult to take on the U.S. government with one secret hideout and a few Macs. But then, Chloe is apparently a genius hacker, Jack borders on superhero, and Tony is a vigilante with nothing to live for. I guess Bill is the backbone of the operation, keeping Jack and Tony in check and reassuring Chloe with his fatherly wisdom.

  • President Allison Taylor’s most difficult day – Welcome, new president. As a newcomer to the 24 landscape, she doesn’t know what she’s in for. Every season of 24 is the worst day of the president’s life. Today, President Taylor has three main catastrophes. The first is whether or not to take military action in Sangala to stop the genocide that’s happening. This is directly related to the second problem: Colonel Dabaku has in his possession a device that threatens the American people on a massive scale, and his one demand is that the president order all U.S. troops away from the Sangala border, meaning that the U.S. would take themselves out of the conflict and allow thousands more innocent Sangalans to be killed. The third problem is one she’s not even aware of yet: her husband, Henry Taylor, is investigating the death of their son, which makes some people think he’s unstable, but has others trying to decide how to take care of the problem.

  • First Gentleman Taylor vs. the Government Conspirators – As mentioned above, Henry Taylor has been investigating the supposed suicide of his son, Roger. He finally hits pay dirt when, during a secretive meeting with Roger’s girlfriend Sam, she confesses to him that some men paid her to keep quiet about Roger’s murder. She explains that Roger was killed because he got too close to some financial information linking an unknown senior member of his wife’s administration to Sangala. She hands him a flash drive with all the information he needs to continue his investigation. So, at this point, Henry is in this best position to identify the high level people involved in the conspiracy. He needs to cross paths with Jack and his gang pronto! Too bad that Agent Gedge is a tattle tale. Since he saw Sam give Henry the flash drive, he will probably run and blab to Chief of Staff Kanin. It’s too soon to say whether Kanin genuinely believes Henry is crazy, or if he’s concerned about Henry’s activities because he himself was involved in Roger’s death and/or the conspiracy. (I need to come up with a name for this conspiracy so I can stop saying conspiracy.)

So, that’s it in a large nutshell. They’ve given us a lot of information in the first four hours. I was thrilled with the revelation that Tony was working undercover for the good guys. It will be fun to see him and Jack working in the field together. Too bad that they are having to do so many questionable deeds in the name of justice. Turning rogue hasn’t hurt Tony’s appearance. He was looking smooth with his shorter hair, leather jacket, and scowl. It makes sense that he would have gone over to the dark side after Michelle’s death, but it also makes sense that he would have a change of heart. After all, he’s Tony!

The New Faces – Most of the significant newbies are at FBI headquarters, which seems to have replaced CTU with the silly office politics time fillers.

  • Agent in Charge Larry Moss – Agent Moss is played by Jeffrey Nordling, who I know best as Jake from Once & Again. He plays the same type of character here: smug, confident, driven, but deep down caring about those close to him. Or so it seems. You never know who to trust on this show. I’m wondering if he and Agent Walker are romantically involved, with all the furtive glances and concern that’s been going on. A bit of random trivia: it’s interesting to me that Ever Carradine played an uncredited role as an employee at FBI headquarters. She played Tiffany, Jake’s girlfriend, on Once & Again. I wonder if there’s a Once & Again connection on the 24 staff.

  • Agent Renee Walker – She’s shaping up to be a Jack Bauer-ette. At first, she seemed like she’d be a by-the-books opposite to Jack, but it quickly became apparent that she’s not as mild-mannered as she looks. She single-handedly took out that huge bodyguard while she and Jack were interrogating a suspect. Then she agreed to tail a suspect with Jack, without telling anyone else where they were going. And, most disturbing, she basically threatened to kill Tony’s hospitalized colleague by blocking his oxygen tube, if he didn’t tell her where Tony was and what his plan was. It will be interesting to see how her character progresses this season.

  • Agent Janis Gold – Played by Janeane Garofalo, Janis is obviously a Chloe clone. She’s socially awkward, a genius on computers and networks, and loyal to her superiors to the point of breaking the rules. It will be fun to see a face-off between her and Chloe at some point this season. They simply must meet, right?
  • Agent Sean Hillinger – Played by Rhys Coiro, this is one smarmy guy. Is he just an annoying geek, or is there something more to his shifty exterior? I thought it was ridiculous for him to manipulate Air Traffic Control into bumping his wife’s flight to the front of the landing line.
  • Chief of Staff Ethan Kanin – Played by Bob Gunton, long time guest star on various tv shows, he is one shifty guy. So far he has his hand all over the place and is trying to manipulate the president. She’s not having it. Good for her!
  • Henry Taylor – I talked a good bit about Henry above, in terms of his investigation into his son’s death. I like him so far. He is gentle, while also resolute and discerning. I’ll be rooting for him to get to the bottom of his search, or at least to stay alive.
  • President Allison Taylor – She’s no President Palmer, but she’s not nearly as annoying as President Logan. And I like her better than Powers Boothe as president. She brings some dignity to the 24 presidency that’s been lacking for awhile.
  • There are also a handful of villains, but I’ll let the dust settle, the bullets fly, etc., before I spend time assessing them.

Returning Favorites – I’ve already sung their praises above, so I’ll just end by listing our ex-CTU quadruple threat.

  • Jack
  • Chloe
  • Bill
  • Tony

What do you think of this season so far? My one complaint is the weakness of Bill et al’s reasoning for taking on the conspiracy, but I’m willing to see how things develop. But when has 24 been about reasonable, realistic plot points? It has been at the top of its game in terms of action, intrigue, and suspense. I’m looking forward to the next 20 hours!