It takes a big man to admit that he's wrong. Conveniently, I'm a big man, in stature if not maturity, so I can admit that I was wrong to dump "24" this year. Thanks to a friend at Fox, I was able to catch up on the entire season over the weekend, and it's been a lot of fun.
Part of my enjoyment, I think, is simply that I didn't watch much of the previous two seasons, so I've had some time away from the show's bag of tricks. So when a presidential aide turns out to be a traitor or command of CTU changes three times in as many hours, I don't immediately feel compelled to do a shot.
But at the same time, it feels like the writers have finally figured out what works and what doesn't over the course of this one long day -- ironically, at a time when even they admit they're maybe two episodes ahead at any given point. They know that this show burns through plot quickly, and they've turned it to their advantage; as soon as a crisis or a character has outlived its usefulness, it's gone. Bye-bye airport hostage crisis. See ya later, Connie Britton. Presidential assassination? So five minutes ago.
At the same time, it feels like they're letting the major characters feel the weight of everything that's happened. There's at least one scene in each episode where someone, whether it's Martha Logan or Chloe or Audrey or even Jack, rattles off a list of all the crap that's been piled on them throughout the day, and it seems like they're genuinely traumatized by it all. There's real emotion here in between the explosions and gas attacks, whether it's Mrs. Robocop's disbelief that her husband doesn't care about her or Jack realizing last night that he has to send two men to their death. It's the "Die Hard" effect: no matter how ridiculous the plot is, if you have a few good actors in the center of it who are taking it seriously, you can get away with anything.
(By the way, is there anything Sean Astin can't do? He sacks the quarterback, carries Frodo up Mt. Doom and then saves CTU. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!)
I'm assuming Tony's kaput, but with this guy, you never know. Didn't he get shot in the head one year and have his heart yanked out of his chest in the next? I can't remember. Still, I'm glad they kept Carlos Bernard around long enough for him to react to Michelle's death. Maybe they can hang his soul patch on a wall at CTU like the Galactica shrine.
Elsewhere around the dial (and how many years are we from having to erase all uses of "dial" from the vernacular for being outdated?), Stern on Letterman was underwhelming. But then, I've never been a huge fan of radio's biggest ego. Maybe if I'd been listening to him when he was just starting out and his entire shtick wasn't about how awesome he is, I'd find him funnier, but that ship sailed a long time ago.
"Grey's Anatomy" was decent, but not great. This was one of those in-between episodes where all the story arcs get advanced but nothing actually happens. And if you look at Kate Walsh and Catherine Deneuve side by side, there really is a resemblance. Weird. Never would have thought of it on my own.
Finally, my thoughts on "Big Love." I've seen the first two, and I'm weirded out by it in a way that I've never been by "Sopranos" or "Six Feet" or "Deadwood." I can relate to sociopathic mobsters and emotionally-repressed morticians, you know, but this polygamy culture is so alien to me (not just the three wives thing, but the lack of swearing and the general primness of everyone) that I have trouble relating. It's well done enough that I'll probably give it a few more shots, but I don't want to feel this uncomfortable when I'm watching TV.