Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Rereading the comments below about 24 and 4400, I think I may have been too harsh on a couple of points without giving appropriate props. Both shows have very clever elements. A TV series shown in real time, often showing multiple shots simultaneously, and offering multiple cliffhangers at the end of the episode is a cool idea! The problem was that they had to carry that out for 24 episodes and had way too much cliff from which to effectively hang. (The First Season episode where Bauer's wife got amnesia was the one that burst my balloon.) Plus, it's one of those shows where there is waaaaaaay too much nepotism and lack of objectivity among co-workers for my tastes. (Bauer's teenage drama-queen daughter now works for him as a full-fledged secret agent? And she's dating Bauer's play-by-his-own-rules junior partner? Yoiks.) It gets points for using a clever storytelling device. But, if you want to see that device used more effectively (albeit minus the spy stuff) take a look at Mike Figgis's Time Code.

I think that The 4400 has a interesting, X-Filesish premise. I watched Season One on DVD and I'll do the same for Season Two when it comes out. There are 4400 people abducted from various points of the post-WWII timeline, who (without having aged) emerge en masse from a giant comet that deposits them in Washington State. It's a great idea for a story, and of the two shows I prefer this one. The people, taken from seemingly random locations, walks of life, and points in time have to immediately readjust to life in 2003 (4?) with no memory of what happened to them while they were gone.

One of my favorite scenes featured a black soldier who disappeared after taking a beating from 1950s racists who had learned he was in love with a white woman. He awkwardly sits down to eat dinner in a restaurant in his old neighborhood, circa 2004. The tattoed, facially pierced punk rock kids all stop mid-conversation and give him a look of sheer disgust -- the same disgust he saw 1000 times from the good ole boys of the 40s/50s South. But wait - there are black people staring at him disgustedly too, and some of them seem to be interracially dating... Finally, one of them points to a 'no smoking' sign and he embarassedly extinguishes his cigarette. Every so often a scene comes along that works just right, and that was one of them.

But again with the nepotism and boundary-crossing... this hothead Homeland Security guy is the uncle of one of the returned abductees, and makes a big to-do out of the fact that his son was left in a coma after witnessing the nephew/cousin's abduction. Despite these out-of-the-ordinary events, this guy can't get it out of his head that the nephew gave the son/cousin some bad acid or something and it was just coincidence that he dis/reappeared with all the others. True, a good father would want to get to the bottom of what happened to his son, but that father shouldn't be one of the primary investigators of the phenomena referred to above. I'll definitely watch Season Two when it comes out on DVD and comment more fully then.

Further clarification:

The cartoons in the previous post were drawn by the great Fred Hembeck and ran in the backs of most the issues of DC Comics in the late 70s/early 80s and were/are a lot of fun; Here is a very good collection of them.


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