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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24 Blog 9.8: Wembley

24 9 8-2

Hands up: who was mad as fuck when the final clock ticked…and you actually heard the clock tick? Big Dick Heller is up there with David Palmer, Old Yeller, and Big Balls Bill Buchanan in terms of the most faithful and lovable characters in the show’s history. Dude gets blown to pieces on “the pitch” in Wembley Stadium – where, curiously, the lights were on, suggesting the staff were in on the hit – and he doesn’t merit a silent clock tick? Fuck, that.

I might be amenable to attributing this to a change of direction, and the show trying to stay fresh by handing the directorial reins to someone young and possibly unfamiliar with the show’s history. But no, tonight’s episode was directed by Jon Cassar, who has directed 65 episodes of “24,” including 12 from this season alone. Simply put, he knows better than to show such a lack of respect. Jon, you have some ‘splaining to do.

Unless…

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Sinbad

IF you grew up in the ’90s, then your first frame of reference to “Sinbad” is almost certainly not that of a sailor. Between his work on the small screen with A Different World, his feature film work in Houseguest and Jingle All the Way, and his stand-up comedy, the man born as David Adkins is surely the first and foremost Sinbad in your mind. As such, you’ll no doubt be thrilled to learn that he’s back with a new stand-up special, Make Me Wanna Holla, which premieres tonight on Comedy Central. We had a chance to chat with Sinbad recently about his new comedy effort, his back catalog of films and TV series, and how our next look at him is likely to be on YouTube.

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Bullz-Eye: Being that pop culture has such a short-term memory problem, it’s got to drive you crazy that you’ve never really gone away, and yet this new special is causing people to say, “Sinbad’s back?”

Sinbad: You know, it’s funny, man. This is the thing with pop culture: I guess you’d say the difference is… Well, there’s always been old school and new school, but when I was coming up, you knew who the old cats were, and it wasn’t like they had less value. I look at Quincy Jones and cats like that, and to me they just got better and better, and you wanted to be like them. Now, if you’re not in the public eye on a daily basis, you’re just gone. I mean, like, gone gone. Like, “I think he’s dead!” [Laughs.]

BE: Have you had to endure any false death claims on social media?

S: Oh, I was one of the first ones the internet killed. [Laughs.] They killed me twice! But I keep coming back!

BE: For those who haven’t been following your stand-up, you’re still following the same general format, as far as the type of material you do, right?

S: Well, the material always changes. I don’t know what the format is, though. To me, the only format is that it’s got to be funny.

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