24 Blog 9.12: I Love You Goodbye/People Who Died

24 9 12-1

Okay seriously, remind me to stop trying to anticipate the events of next week’s episode. I’m almost always wrong – they always play it more conservatively than I hope they will. I couldn’t help it, though: I was so excited about the idea of Audrey being a Doll that I let it cloud my judgment. Of course they’re not going to do that; the network has already played that card on another show. If they did it twice, they’d be a laughingstock. I see that now. Mistakes were made.

Either way, though, I knew that Audrey was going to die before the final clock ticked, and sure enough, she did, at the hands of the pesky, unaccounted-for second shooter. If memory serves, that is the first silent clock tick since Bill Buchanan. Even when the show went off the air in 2010, with Jack going off the grid and the show’s future uncertain, Jack’s exit didn’t merit a silent clock tick, something they wisely remedied here as he’s being transported by helicopter to some place where the inmates pray to a god that the Russians don’t believe in to be transferred to someplace less hellish. Like a Slovakian hostel.

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24 Blog 9.11: Don’t You Move

24 9 11-1

Man, don’t you hate it when you set up a clandestine meeting with a Chinese colleague to discuss matters that may send the entire planet into full-scale nuclear war, and the park bench where you chose to meet her happens to be within 100 yards of the building occupied by the man who tortured you for over a year, leaving you in a catatonic state? This despite the fact that the last time we saw him, he was in a truck, supposedly heading for a pier to board a Dutch freighter? Damned if that doesn’t happen to me a couple of times a year.

Unless it doesn’t.

On an unrelated note, why is it that every single person on “24” mispronounces the word ‘nuclear’? They all say ‘new-cue-lar,’ not ‘new-clee-ar.’ Look at the word, people. It’s pretty clear how it should be said.

All right, enough negativity, for the moment. As second-to-last hours of “24” go, this one didn’t screw the pooch for the sake of convenience like most of them do. (Hey, there’s a quote for the DVD box. “Didn’t screw the pooch like they usually do,” says David Medsker of Bullz-Eye.) Sure, they conveniently wrapped up the Russian and Cheng story lines so that they’re one and the same, but that move actually makes sense, since Cheng is a free agent and Russia would stand to gain the most from a war between the US and China. I’ll let that slide.

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24 Blog 9.10: One of Our Submarines

24 9 10-1

Previously, on “24 Blog”…

“If the scenes for next week’s episode are any indication, I know what next week’s song is going to be, and Thomas Dolby fans do, too.”

Lo, I was a prophet, of the painfully obvious variety. After all, it’s hard to misinterpret the launching of torpedoes.

There is a scene in the 1990 movie “Flatliners,” where Jack Bauer himself has convinced a group of his friends to try an experiment where they are technically dead for a short period of time in order to see what is on the other side. Once they’ve all tried it, he states the obvious: “Somehow we’ve brought our sins back physically. And they’re pissed.”

This is exactly what happened in the final 10 minutes of “24” this week.

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24 Blog 9.9: Catch Me Now I’m Falling

24 9 9-1

This is not hyperbole, though it might be forgetfulness: this might be Jack Bauer’s finest hour.

He saved Big Dick Heller by using a trick from the playbook of the 1994 movie “Speed,” which is to hack the camera feed and create a continuous loop that the terrorist won’t notice (until they do). Then he landed a helicopter on Mommie Dearest’s building, because stealth (which is to say, everyone in the building should have heard this coming). Then he rappelled down the building and worked his way into their fortress through the window.

That setup makes me want to write one of those click whore-type tag lines now. You know, the one that doesn’t tell you what happens next, but makes sure you know that you absolutely need to click on this link right now, dude! (You see these on Facebook 100 times a day.) I’m new at this, so here goes:

“This soldier is one step away from death. What happens next is amazing.”

How did I do? Don’t answer that, it’s a trick question: those tag lines all suck.

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Blu Tuesday: House of Cards, The LEGO Movie and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“House of Cards: Season Two”

WHAT: After being sworn in as the new Vice President, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) continues his quest for absolute power alongside his equally manipulative wife, Claire (Robin Wright). Meanwhile, a team of D.C. journalists investigate Frank’s involvement in Peter Russo’s death, witnessing first-hand the level of corruption at work in their government.

WHY: Season Two of “House of Cards” will likely be labeled a disappointment by some, but while it’s noticeably weaker than the Netflix drama’s debut season, it’s still better than a vast majority of the shows on television. After all, there aren’t many series that would kill off one of its main characters in the first episode, especially in such ruthless and shocking fashion, but it’s a necessary move that signals a change in the direction of the show. The ancillary subplots aren’t nearly as interesting this time around (particularly the stuff between Michael Kelly’s Chief of Staff and Rachel Brosnahan’s reformed call girl), and even the main story feels a bit stretched at times with the constant back and forth between Underwood and Raymond Tusk, but there’s rarely a dull moment thanks to the excellent writing and performances. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are in top form once again as the conniving husband-and-wife duo, while Molly Parker (of “Deadwood” fame) is a welcome addition to the cast as the new House Whip. And when you have characters as brilliantly realized as the ones that populate “House of Cards,” you’re allowed a few missteps every once in a while.

EXTRAS: The four-disc set boasts a quartet of production featurettes (including an examination of the differences between the British and American versions of the show) and a behind-the-scenes look at a table read for two episodes from Season One.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“The LEGO Movie”

WHAT: When an ordinary LEGO construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt) stumbles upon an ancient artifact, he’s declared “The Special” by an underground group of rebels led by the blind prophet Vitruvis (Morgan Freeman), who believes that Emmet is the only one capable of stopping the evil President Business (Will Ferrell) from destroying their world.

WHY: When “The LEGO Movie” was first announced, there were obvious concerns about whether it would just play like one long commercial for the popular toy brand. But while the folks at LEGO have undoubtedly seen a nice bump in business since its release, the film is so much more than that – smart, funny and surprisingly heartfelt. A lot of that credit goes to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who bring the LEGO universe to life with the sort of boundless imagination that the movie preaches to its audience. Though the script borrows heavily from “The Matrix” (from its main story, to the three leads, to its anti-conformatist message), that’s merely the setup for a much more sophisticated payoff that is equally daring and brilliant. For as great as the film’s ending may be, however, it wouldn’t feel earned if the first two-thirds weren’t so enjoyable. And thanks to some incredible visuals, great voice work (particularly by Chris Pratt) and hilarious gags, “The LEGO Movie” isn’t just one of the best animated films in years, but it’s also one of the best movies of 2014 thus far.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes an audio commentary with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (along with actors Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Charlie Day) and a host of bonus material like a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes and a series of fun mini-featurettes.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

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