Saturday, January 28, 2006

Time Marches on As Do the Myths of Challenger...

One of the most vibrant memories I have from my formative years was the "day that the shuttle exploded" 20 years ago today.

I was home from school that day with a cold and remember sitting in my parents house watching television when a news flash came onto the screen describing the events invovling the destruction of Challenger and the first review of it's destruction. The spiraling out-of-control booster rockets to this day still serve as a symbol of something gone very wrong.

I've recently read a great article online and I wanted to be sure that everyone that reads here takes a moment to read it. It dispels many common misunderstandings surrounding the last Challenger flight, and adds 2 minutes and 45 seconds to what everyone has generally thought was a 73-second flight. You will gain a great deal of discussion-altering information from it.

As always - I tip my virtual hat to the brave men and women of our Space Program. Their memories, achievements and passing fuel at least a portion of my efforts today.

7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster
It didn't explode, the crew didn't die instantly and it wasn't inevitable
By James Oberg
NBC News space analyst

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

24 Blow by Blow: Season 5 - Episode 5 - 11am-12pm

24 Blow by Blow: Season 5 - Episode 5 - 11am-12pm

Only once before have I been "hit by the terrorists" in the last four years. It was last year when I was helping Jack to secure the construction site when suddenly: Bam! The power in my house went out, rendering all communication and surveillance possible with Jack. Thankfully, just like last year, one of my fellow "24" fans was able to help me out of a jam! This year, Tony TwistedLincoln from work came to my aid with a DVIX-burned copy of the episode and so I owe him, as do you, my gratitude for helping me to compile this weeks "24 Blow by Blow!" Let's get to it.

Daddy Loves Splitscreen Frameage: Comic books have been using multiple panels to help "tell the story" for eons, and 24 has taken the lead in television in doing this and made it into a tool of master storytelling. Need to get people on their way with 4-6 completely unique pieces of the same puzzle? Toss it into an intricately-woven series of frames in frame and watch the crowd go wild!

Lockdown at the Airport? Out rolls ANOTHER SWAT Truck only minutes after a crisis is averted. I don't understand how we're supposed to believe that as soon as the situation is apparently "ok", yet another guy is on the grounds and loose, we're supposed to believe that this truck could simply roll out.

Edgar the Great (Big Blob'oGoo): Edgar has been seen quite busy already this season, and my friends: How could he NOT be seen? If there are any other cast members that are missing from last season, that haven't been blown up by a car bomb or shot by someone, surely Edgar has eaten them whole. Edgar is GIANT this season. Apparently a steady paycheck for Edgar and the loss of his mother has caused him to pack it on because he's got to weigh 25-40 points more than he did last season. The chairs in CTU, while very sleek are a hideous showcase for Edgar. Maybe Jack can interrogate Richard Simmons this season and he can stop by and give Edgar a few pointers?

Timeline of Gas Insertion: Again, the stories untold continue to be one of the best reasons to watch this program. The "bunker" that has been built to house/store the weaponized verve gas is the stuff of legend and -- completely ornate. The look is perfect, the tech is perfect, the 20 canisters, PERFECT!

Curtis Touches the Broken Vial??? Huh? Whilst investigating the scene of the not-yet-determined crime, Curtis sees an empty metal container, he sees rubble, he sees construction vehicles -- oh yeah: and the broken glass around the rats with their tongues hanging out of their mouths. His first reaction? Call for backup? Put his shirt over his mouth? Hold his breath? NO! He puts his HAND ON THE BROKEN GLASS VIAL next to the dead rat! Also, what the hell is that on the right side of his neck just below his ear? Is that a mole? Moley mole mole, bloody mole!

Perception of "They're Out to Get Me", said the First Lady:. Since the first hour of this show, I have loved almost all of the female roles for one reason or another. They either are incredibly well-written, or they have an actress that is pulling in what is going to be a very over-looked Emmy-award-possible performance. This year, it's our first lady who is literally putting pieces of the puzzle together as we watch, while at the same time, piling on the pieces of stone to the scale side of "send her ass to the crazy farm." Excellent writing, great portrayal by the actress and yet another woman in real jeopardy that will find everyone not believing her about anything. Re-admission of the First Lady to a Treatment facility? I sometimes wonder how this would go over in an administration in general. Would the First Lady be thought more "brave: because by wing admitted to a facility, you're admitting that you're not perfect/have a problem? Would she be scorned? How could the gossip shows and newsrags not jump aboard a bloody-carcass like a First Lady being "committed to battle the demons of paranoia and dementia?" Imagine...

Mr. Earbud (Knight): Something I've not been able to convey yet is my like for the "Earbud Man" who is none other than Geraint Wyn Davies, who played Nick Knight for so many years in a show you really should take the time to see called: "Forever Knight". It was based on a pilot that starred Rick Springfield way back when and really was a quality show. The reason? They KILLED THE HERO IN THE END! They were also very adept at bringing in arch enemies in a "HIGHLANDER" style that made you really want to see more of not only the regular cast, but the villains. Just a really great all-around show. I will continue to watch and see where they put "Gary" into the story this season.

Military Grade Nerve Gas Weapons? While we've had just about every threat imaginable in this show, this one topic has to be one of the strongest yet to date. This season brings yet another unimaginable horror to the table of every American that should be taken as a dead-series threat. If we look at the samples that a variety of communities overseas have experience with even low doses of nerve gas - good God: Imagine downtown LA, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego -- any variety of cities only hours away from LA that any of these 20 canisters could go to? Terrifying and strangely interesting.

Samwise Hits His Stride: I think finally I have begun to understand the "role" of Sean Astin's "Lynn McGill" -- he is "the viewer" who helps you step through the obvious hoops and introduces new, completely unthought-of material and helps you to explore it. Think of this the next time that you watch the show and tell me what YOU think.

Evacuation Scenarios After Finding Out About Nerve Gas: Which cities? Something I've touched on in previous episodes is the almost complete absurdity of "evacuation procedures" in the wake of something as volatile as a nuclear or gas scenario. Discuss.

Continued Hate of Chloe: "What do YOU want?": While I have in my life death with people like Chloe (thankfully, none too long however), none of them last as long as she has regardless of their skillset. I see that once again they've written her as one who is easy to hate and to that end -- mission accomplished!

Don't Keep Secrets from your friends? Huh? I have many friends at work, from high school, from my neighborhood and for the record: I will never be telling you anything about sleeping with any of my employees :) Edgar's assertion that Chloe should tell him all of her secrets makes my skin crawl. One can only think of Chloe sleeping with her subordinates before the sky falls -- in fact I see the sky falling right now >THUD!<>

More Secret Calls from CTU??? How many people are going to have to die, before CTU will institute either a cell phone ban, or a buddy policy in regard to cell communications? When I have visited critical facilities in our city, they take my cell phone, they've taken my handheld, and have even INSPECTED MY HEARING AID! Why are they letting pager/cell phone-laden operatives run around anymore?

Secret TEXT MESSAGES via pager from CTU??? Again, you've got to be kidding me. In the middle of the ROOM no less, our Chloe-humping hambone Spencer sends out text messages conveying what he's currently overhearing to the badguys. Why, Lord, Why!

Ahhh the Complexity of 24's Silent Moments: 8 Cut Takes, with Silence Say So Much: Folks, as always, there are MASTER CRAFTSMAN at work here. In a short 8 cuts, with no dialog or music, we are instantly snapped back to last season/18 months ago, when two people loved each other more than either could tell each other. This is the magic of this show and this is why you are missing out if you're not watching.

Don’t Blame Jack for What Happened to Paul: In this short scene, we see a bunch of anger washed away, which harkens to all of us really. Imagine you could actually walk up to someone that you were so very angry with and actually say "I'm sorry -- I don't blame you" etc? Funny how magic happens on 24 in the middle of a terrorist crisis.

Not Needing to Check Manifest or Confirm with Sys Admin under the current conditions? There's just been a series of terror-laden events: Ex-president murdered, car-bombed ex-employees, critical survivor ex-employee brought into the facility, nerve gas is loose in LA. So let's allow the dude that has no official papers or documents, but does have one new guy's verbal voucher inside the facility to walk unfettered throughout the complex. Oy.

Leaving a Visitor Unattended? Not only are we going to let the "network guy" inside, but we're going to let him wander CTU as he wishes with no one stopping or escorting him?

Leaving the First Lady Unattended After her Realization of being committed? "Mrs. Logan: Would you like some razor blades or perhaps some bungee cord?" I cannot believe the silly instance of this "caretaker" in this show. The lady has just been told to pack her bags with only essential needs, she's basically been told that she's going back to the crazy house, and then she is left alone for what is about 20 minutes in the bathroom. ?? How about striking up an occasional conversation to see if perhaps she isn't trying to use the hair curler cord as a noose or perhaps trying to fillet her wrists with the old Lady Gillette? Unreal!

Yet Another Custody Event Inside CTU: How many times can someone working in a chair in CTU be asked to stand up and be taken into custody? The answer is: It doesn't matter because it's happening again!

Necessary to Crawl Into Her Bed? Doesn't this strike anyone else as the LAST THING someone would bring up in an interrogation cell with a subordinate?

Music Feel From Previous Seasons: This season's music is endearing and almost completely different and I really like the direction it's been taking. More, please more!

Spencer Lack of Cooperation: How about we let "I'm not CTU anymore" Jack up to the plate in there to see just what Spencer might be able to share?

Throat-Thrusting, Gullet Thrashing Tie Fighter Sound: For those that don't have good sound at home, you really should consider some. The sound made/inserted by the sound guys to represent Jack thrusting in a pair of surgical scissors into a dude's neck is horrifying! "PlllluushuggtVrrrneeeor!"

Tony Lives: Why didn't they have the assassin kill Tony too? They've just killed the Doctor, they've shot up the room in order to try to kill Jack and are hacking up the place with scalpel, scissors, and the like, yet they've left unconscious-we-want-him-dead Tony alone all this time. Why?

All in all, this episode is a very solid bridge episode to the next one, and if I was going to have to wait a day to see one, this one is probably one to be "it." Look for more 24 Blow by Blow fun next week, and be sure to check out Bigebee's 24 Section over at Bigebee.Com. It's tasty!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

24: Blow by Blow Day 5 -- Hour 1

Welcome to yet another season of the "24: Blow by Blow" and the entry into the next chapter of what is probably my favorite all-time show, "24" season 5. The bar has once again been raised to showcase 4-hours of realtime work in a period of two evenings so it's time to get your gameface on and proceed.

As we venture into the first hour of season 5, we find the usual being brought up to speed review of the end of last season's episode. We find out that 18 months have passed and Jack is living in northern California and finding work as a temp worker for an oil refining company, as Frank Flynn.

And now, this hour's "24: Blow by Blow!

The Prequel: Was It Just a Dangling Donut? The short 15-minute piece that was provided oon the season 4 dvd's showed us Jack as n undercover operative in Chicago. Chloe elects to meet Jack face-to-face and shortly thereafter a car chase ensues. Was this just a juicy "23's not yet here" donut being dangled or will this eventually play into the workings of this season? Who knows but it's interesting that they moved the series for 15 minutes to Chicago, IL, complete with license places on all of the Toyota-sponsored vehicles.

The Hulk Vibe: I don't know about you, but I was a faithful "The Hulk" watcher back in the day and the producers have captured much of that vibe here. The sunglasses, with shoulderbag, waling off into the sunset. Taking on odd jobs to make money to live off and being "no one to anyone" == it's all here and makes for something completely engaging and feels like we're being put into a slingshot and readied for a swift cool breeze.

7am on Monday Morning - Do You Remember Where You Were when Palmer was Shot: I am not old enough to have a solid answer to "Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot?" but I now can tell you that I remember where I was when President Palmer was shot. One of the hallmarks of shows that I have enjoyed over the years is their unabashedly forward tendency to build a character for a long period of time, and just when you thought you could take a breath, they kill that character. David Palmer was the voice of literal reason and one who brought order to chaos so many times in the 24 realm that I have simply lost count. I till truly miss him and was completely shocked when they decided to tear down what was probably the most substantial wall that held together the house of "24" over the years. Rest in peace, sir. you will be missed.

The Genius of President Logan's Character: The gentleman that portrays President Logan is as pesky as they come, but damn: The man has the character down and the proof of this is when he asks Bill "ThenWhatDoYouHave!?!?!?" in a voice that can only be described as abject voracity. I'm going to love hating him this season even more.

The Accord in Cali? Why on Earth would such an accord occur in California? Why not Washington, DC?

Chloe the Office Whore: Of all the people I expected to see starting off this season in bed, this is not what I had envisioned: Chloe is romancing one of the new office workers at CTU? Huh? Does anyone find her character as someone that could possibly not be ennoying enough to allow someone to get to know her long enough and sleep with her? Oy.

Jack's Hairline: I am completely unsure what the directive was this season from the makeup chair, but what praytell has happened to Jack's hairline this season? If you look at the surveillance video and look at him now, clearly there was some magic worked in previous seasons with a comb and some mousse.

More as time allows this week and as I get through 4 long hours!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What Will YOU Be Watching??

Something I've been wanting to ask people is:

"What are you preparing to watch on TV this year?"Of course my list includes tonite's episode of "THE SHIELD" but also includes some other great items that begin shortly:

-- "24": This season begins on Sunday next week, and will be kicked off with a fantastic 4-hour set of hour episodes over the course of 2 days (Sunday and Monday next week!). I love it when a show goes all the way to get the attention of it's patrons. There is simply no other show on television currently that offers the adrenaline rush that "24" brings to the table each episode. Get in the game! Fans at work and ATLAS will also remember that I've got the "24 Blow-By-Blow" in the works for each of the superb episodes coming up via my blog online: Tasty, and more filling than a pack of carmel Junior Mints, the Blow By Blow is a great way to run through episodes at a glance.

-- "Monk": If you thought that I was only drawn to freakish, habit-ridden, yet quaint STAR TREK/Science Fiction folk, you were rong! This show is one of the unsung heroes of television and deserves at least one watch from you.

-- "NCIS": A show that has taken the formula of 42-minute crime drama and oured it into an enjoyable latte' that star Mark Harmon drinks and showcases each week, "NCIS" offers just about everything to everyone. The writing is whitty, the characters are interesting and each episode builds the overall story, without leaving people that don't watch regularly in the dust.

-- "THE SHIELD": Detective Vic Mackey walks the moral high-wire again this season. This show, like "24" offers one of the most exciting and twist-a-minute "oh my gawd I can't believe they did that" rides I've ever seen. It's worth everyones time without question and remember - it airs this most recent season THIS EVENING at 9p Central!

When you add the above with a sprinkled diet of Discovery-laden shows (American Chopper, Mysthbusters and 48 Hour Crime) I have a little -somthing-somethin' for just about any occasion.What are you watching?For a listing of upcoming shows this season, check out the link to TV Guide below.

Cheers and have a great time watching!