Monday, May 24, 2010

"24" and "Lost" finales

I'm traveling and thus haven't seen the much-ballyhooed finale of Lost. I'm very interested in seeing how it all turns out, of course, but to be honest, my expectations are a thousand times lower than they were after the first 2-3 seasons. I'll surely be sad to see it go, but honestly the weekly delay of the big answers has taken its toll: I think I'm ready for the end.

Not so for 24, which still manages to pack a wallop when you least expect it. This final season has been uneven, to be sure. The Dana Walsh storyline was never more than dreadful, and President Taylor's late season change-of-personality made no sense. That said, much of the Renee Walker drama was compelling, Chloe continues to be a shining--and grumpy-- star throughout, and Jack's recent death-wish vendetta has been ridiculous, over-the-top, and disturbingly entertaining. But after eight long years of watching this guy have the worst days of his life, I think he finally deserves a break.

24 really was a revolutionary show for its time. It was lucky to survive beyond it's ratings-challenged first couple of years, but once it settled into the January-start-with-no-breaks schedule (later copied by Lost), viewers grew and remained surprisingly loyal for a serialized show in its eighth season. There probably isn't another show on the air that has been as consistently exciting as 24, and I fear that there never will be. It was never a perfect show; it always expected a certain degree of disbelief from its viewers. But then, who wants to watch their hero take potty breaks or sit in LA traffic for minutes at a time?

Together, 24 and Lost made my late winter doldrums just a little brighter. They both changed the way networks produce and program their shows, and the way viewers expected a little more from them. To all of the talented folks who devoted years of their lives to producing these joyfully glossy shows, thank you!

And let me know when you're hiring for TVs next big phenomenon...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

"Iron Man 2" mini-review

Maybe if I make my posts shorter, I'll do them more it the Twitter-method. (Incidentally, if anyone would like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @jaytay96).

Anyhoo, I saw Iron Man 2 yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. Most of it has to do with Robert Downey, Jr.'s cheeky-but-layered take on Tony Stark; he's really creating something memorable with this character. I also enjoyed Sam Rockwell (so great as "Guy" in Galaxy Quest) as Tony's slimy weapons-manufacturing nemesis. The first 2/3 of the movie borders on comic-book greatness, setting the stage for several very interesting and complicated character-driven conflicts. Only some of those stories really bear fruit by the end, but none of them are truly botched amazing feat for a movie that is trying to do so much (anyone remember Spider-man 3?).

As a novice to Marvel's wider repertoire, I didn't really appreciate all the Avengers references, since they occasionally took the focus away from the movie at hand to pimp some of Marvel's upcoming releases (Captain America, Thor, etc.). But it's a small complaint for a movie that never feels like anything less than good old-fashioned, big-budget fun. I'm eager to see what Downey & company have in store for Iron Man 3. (***1/2 out of four)