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24 Series Finale: Some thoughts.

So, 24 is finally over. It has been a long nine and half years, with eight season and one television movie, but it is finally over.

But, of course, it isn’t. Not really. As long as there some kind of convoluted plot the writers can come up with and they can find someone to write a check to the production crew and the actors, there will be more Jack.

First, I thought I should point out the significance of the show. “Oh, it’s just some dumb show, how is it significant?” you might be asking. Well, Adam over at The Jack Sack had this great quote in his post reviewing the final episodes (which, in part, motivated me to write this post):

His [Jack Bauer’s] story encapsulates a period in this country’s history that, for better or worse, has changed us forever.

I do not think that this point can, or should, be overlooked when discussing the 24 series. I have been watching the show since Day One, Hour One, and its significance has not been lost on me.

For anyone that came remember back that far (and some refuse to), 24 premiered less than two months after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite the first season being the product writing, acting, and directing done before the 9/11 attacks, their impact is quite clear even in the first episode. During the pilot, a terrorist (Mandy) blows a commercial jet to cover up the murder and theft of an identification card of a photographer (Martin Belkin) so an assassin can use it an attempt to kill a Presidential candidate (David Palmer). Due to the 9/11 attacks, the explosion of the plane was almost entirely edited out of the episode.

And after 9/11, and as dark as it may sound, people wanted and hoped that there was someone out there like Jack Bauer trying to protect the country. Someone that would do what was necessary to protect the country, even if it meant forfeiting his life, ruining his reputation, or standing up to countless mind-numbing bureaucrats.

That being said, there was one major problem with the final season of 24:

Inconsistent Portray of Characters

“[…] I figure the right thing starts at the beginning of the day, not after you’ve been caught.” –Commander John Crichton (Farscape)

First, let us discuss something called “suspension of disbelief”. Suspension of disbelief is defined by Wiktionary as “[p]eople’s acceptance, for the sake of appreciation of art (including literature and the like), of what they know to be a nonfactual premise of the work of art.”

For example of this, we — the audience — suspend our disbelief that Jack Bauer can survive being shot three times with an assault rifle, most likely chambered in 5.56mm, with a minimal injury of a couple of bruises. We all know that someone that was shot like that would not be getting up and chasing down more bad guys ten minutes later, even if he was wearing a bullet-“proof” vest. We ignore that, usually with a sarcastic comment or two, because the structure, and appreciation, of the story requires that we do so.

However, while we’re willing to accept that Jack Bauer is really The Man of Steel, in addition to such nonsensical stuff such as Chloe’s amazing hacking skillz, and Jack’s ability to maneuver through New York City traffic, it becomes a problem when characters — important ones — act in a manner that is totally inconsistent with prior established acts and morals.

The most glaring example of this during the final season was President Allison Taylor. The previous season established her character as someone that always did the morally right thing. When she had the choice of covering up a murder committed by her daughter — the death of someone that was responsible for the murder of her own son and the attempted murder of her husband — or sending her daughter to prison, she chose to send her daughter to prison.

However, with the majority of the viewers of the final season well aware of her actions last season, this season her character acted in a completely different manner. After the Russian government was responsible for helping to organize a terrorist attack against both the United States and the fictional country of Kamistan (think Iran), which resulted in the death of the President of Kamistan, Omar Hassan, — someone President Taylor considered a friend — Taylor decided to cover this up.

Why? Was it to keep her daughter, or another family member, out of prison?

No, it was preserve an anti-nuclear proliferation treaty with the country of Kamistan. Why was she so willing to throw away everything that she believed in for an anti-nuclear proliferation treaty? Wouldn’t me and the rest of the audience love to know. In the very end, she finally decided to be the good guy. Again, why?

But by this point I probably would not have even cared what her explanation was. By the end of the season, I would have been more satisfied with her being dead than either the Russian Preisdent Yuri Suvarov or Charles Logan.

The same thing can be said about Charles Logan. And, yes, Logan was a complete and utter scumbag through seasons four and five until Jack finally managed to get dirt on him and have him arrested. (Ironically, he would use essentially the same method in the final season). However, when Logan reappeared in season six, he came off as a changed man. And while, yes, it could have been Logan blowing smoke up people’s butts — something he was damn good at — one scene in season six is totally inconsistent with this rationale. After Jack met Logan in season six, there is a scene when Logan quotes  — to himself, while no one else is present — a passage from the Bible. With everything that is said and done by Logan in the sixth season, it presents him as being genuinely repentant about his crimes. Why else show a scene where he is talking to himself that gives that indication otherwise?

However, when Logan popped back up in this final season, he was back to his demeanor from seasons four and five. Why?

Not even Chloe O’Brain could be spared from this despite Mary Lynn Rajskub’s superb portray of Chloe O’Brain in the final two hours. If she had decided to help Jack a couple of hours ago, instead of staging a trap for him, he would have collected the information about the people responsible for the deaths of Omar Hassan and Renee Walker and the body county would be a lot lower. Seriously, when is the last time that Jack has been wrong about this sort of thing?

For another example of this problem, let us go back to last season with Tony Almeida. When we last saw Tony before the last season, everyone thought he had been killed, quite tragically. He was a good guy, one of the very few that Jack had really grown to trust throughout the years. However, it was revealed that Tony was a bad guy. Okay, I could understand that. He was pretty p-oed about the death of wife.

Oh wait, he is actually a good guy who was undercover. Okay, I can understand that (see assumption about Jack’s trust in him).

Oh wait, he’s a bad guy again and he just killed Larry Moss. By this point,  I am totally lost.

Oh wait, maybe he is crazy and half-way a good guy who is out to kill everyone responsible for this wife’s death. See previous comment.

All around, the last two season would be a lot more memorable and good if they did not leave glaring inconsistencies in characters.

Conclusion

I think the biggest problem with the final episode of the series, however, is based on an assumption that a series finale, would, you know, be an actual series finale. Instead, the final episode came off more like a regular season finale instead. And that was exactly the point intended by the writers; they wanted to retain the ability to bring Jack back in the big scene or through some other method.

Frankly, if they wanted it to be a series finale, Jack should have taken the shot and knocked off both Russian President Suvarov and Charles Logan. And whether Jack ended up dead by the end of the episode or not, justice would have been done. Instead, Logan is “alive” with some serious brain damage and Suvarov is probably on his way back to the Rodina (Motherland).

You might be a nerd if…

…you can pick out an obscure quote from a semi-obscure science-fiction television show during a completely unrelated radio ad.

I was sitting in my car on the way down to Richmond on Thursday a little before noon listening to WINC 92.5 FM out of Winchester. While listening to the radio, I heard an advertisement for their “retro” hour of music and it had a distinctive quote that I recognized, “Time is meaningless and yet it is all that exists.”

I sat there thinking for a second, knowing for a fact that I recognized not only the distinctive voice but also the quote. Then it came to me, it was from an episode of Farscape, specifically the episode “Unrealized Reality” (season four, episode eleven). Here’s video of the scene:

You can read a transcript of the scene below the fold.

(more…)

And the award for worst moral panic of the month for September 2009 goes to…

…the Richmond Times-Dispatch for their coverage of the murders of four people in Farmville, Virginia.

On September 20, 2009, the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a story with the headline “Police: Lyrics may have played role in Farmville slayings”:

Investigators are trying to determine whether a suspect’s fascination with violent rap lyrics fueled the killings of four people found dead Friday in a Longwood University professor’s home.

Farmville police said the victims, which include a church pastor, might have been killed on different days, although they still were awaiting completion of autopsies.

Police on Saturday captured the suspect, Richard Samuel Alden McCroskey III, at Richmond International Airport as he was waiting for a flight to California. That was one day after police found the bodies in the Farmville home of professor Debra S. Kelley, and her daughter, Emma Niederbrock.

The only victim police are identifying is Kelley’s husband, Mark Niederbrock, the pastor at Walker’s Presbyterian Church in Appomattox County. Authorities have identified the three others only as females, and they are not discussing how the victims were killed. Friends and associates identified the females as Kelley, Emma Niederbrock and Melanie Wells, a friend of Emma’s visiting from West Virginia.

[…]

People who know McCroskey described him as him as a fan and promoter of the horrorcore, which is hip-hop music adapted to violent lyrics, but they said they did not believe he was violent.

One song attributed to McCroskey on one of his MySpace pages discusses committing murder in a rage, trying to get rid of the remains and driving a stolen vehicle.

That’s right folks, music lyrics were responsible for the murders of four people.

It’s nice to see that the astute geniuses at the RT-D didn’t take a single college class that involved logic. See, you’re supposed to find the “independent variable” when talking about causes of crime and other problems. The independent variable in this situation is not “horrorcore” rap, it’s the fact that the guy (allegedly) responsible for the murders is frelling insane.

Is that so hard to figure out?

And the funny thing was yesterday, while on my way to Richmond in the morning, I turned to 96.9FM and was listening to the goofball they have on in the mornings and he was talking about the “weirdest songs” and whatnot. One song he mentioned was “Butcher Pete” by Roy Brown which was released in 1950. Check out the lyrics for the song:

(Part I)

Hey everybody, did the news get around
About a guy named Butcher Pete
Oh, Pete just flew into this town
And he’s choppin’ up all the women’s meat

[Chorus]
He’s hackin’ and wackin’ and smackin’
He’s hackin’ and wackin’ and smackin’
He’s hackin’ and wackin’ and smackin’
He just hacks, wacks, choppin’ that meat

Butcher Pete’s got a long sharp knife
He starts choppin’ and don’t know when to stop
All you fellows gotta watch your wifes
‘Cause Pete don’t care who’s meat he chops

Ever since Peter flew into town
He’s been havin’ a ball
Just cuttin’ and choppin’ for miles around
Single women, married women, old maids and all

Wakes up in the morning, half past five
Chops from sunrise to sunset
I don’t see how he stays alive
Meat’s gonna be the death of ole Pete, yeah

The police put Pete in jail
Yes, he finally met his faith
But when they came to pay his bail
They found him choppin’ up his cell mate

That Butcher Pete is a crazy man
Tries to chop down the wind and the rain
Just hacks on anything he can get
Say, turn this record over, you ain’t heard nothing yet

(Part II)

Well, they let ole Pete out of the jail
He went back to his store
All the women who payed his bail
Were waitin’ on Pete to chop some more

There’s an old woman, who’s ninety-two
Lives down the street
She said, one thing more I wanna do
Is find ole Pete and let him chop my meat

Pete went to church one Sunday night
He gave the preacher a fit
That crazy Pete started a fight
When he went hackin’ on the pulpit

Well, they put him in jail again
They tried to give him life
Pete beat the case, he pleaded insane
They gave him back his same ole knife

Well, he got out of jail on Sunday night
Monday he tightened his grip
He started to China to see the sites
Went nuts again and chopped up the ship

Brought ole Pete back to town
To electrocute him there
But Pete was crazy like a clown
He chopped down that electric chair

He’s a maniac!
He don’t do nothin’ but hackin’

So, my question to the Richmond Times-Dispatch is how many murders is “Butcher Pete” responsible for? 4, 8, maybe 12? Come on, give me a number.

Seriously, who’s Bob Dylan?

He’s the guy that did a version of “All Along The Watchtower” before Hendrix did his version, right?

I really think B101.5 needs to reassess what they consider appropriate.

NOTE: This post contains the uncensored use of words that appear, in context, as lyrics in various songs as part of a discussion of what is considered appropriate by a local radio station. If such content may offend you, then don’t read it. ‘Kay, thanks, bye.

On Tuesday night, I’m minding my own business, driving home from the communist haven of VCU, listening to the radio. I flip to that awful station B101.5 and happen to catch the beginning of Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold”. I’m pretty surprised when I hear the word “bitch” in the song (full line: “Yeah you, PMS like a bitch”). Apparently, I’ve never heard the beginning of that particular song before, or at least the version that B101.5 plays. To confirm that I actually heard what I heard, I keep flipping to that awful station when I’m in the car yesterday coming home from VCU as well. And once again I hear the word “bitch” in the song.

Now, I’m not surprised at hearing the word “bitch” in media, after all, you probably can’t watch three hours of prime-time network television without hearing that particular word.

What I’m surprised at is that B101.5 didn’t have a problem with the word. After all, this is the station that dubs over the word “drugs” in a song by Nickelback (full line: “The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap”). Or the station the finds the words “God damn” unacceptable in “Makes Me Wonder” from Maroon 5 (“God damn, my spinning head”). Or the station that dubs over a reference to the use of methamphetamines in “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind (“Doing crystal meth/Will lift you up until you break”).

Now, is the use of the word “bitch” okay because it’s being used by a female “artist”? Has the station ever played Buckcherry’s song “Crazy Bitch”? Not likely. I guess that line of argument brings up the old discussion of why it’s okay for blacks to use a certain word but not for whites.

Is there a female bias when it comes to determining what songs are acceptable? B101.5 didn’t have a problem playing “U + Ur Hand” by Pink, after all. Three guesses what that song is about.

And for the record, I’m not accusing B101.5 of censorship. They’re a private company — not the government — and can determine for themselves what they consider appropriate for their business model.

I guess there seems to be a conflict when they find the use of the word “bitch” and a song about masturbation okay, but the use of the words “God damn” and lyrics about drug use are taboo to them.

This is the piece of trash that will be replacing Jay Leno next year?

At Breitbart: NBC’s Conan O’Brien Tells Crude Joke About Palin’s Daughter

For those that don’t want to waste their bandwidth — or their IQ points watching the video — here’s the transcript:

Conan O’Brien: During [Sarah Palin’s] speech [at the Republican National Convention] — I don’t know if you saw this — Sarah Palin spoke proudly about being a hockey mom.

That’s what she said…yeah, yeah.

It’s unknown what positions her kids play, but one of ’em isn’t very good at protecting the crease.

[Scattered jeers and applauses.]

Okay, then…that joke’s going to follow me around for awhile.

*Sigh*, there goes another of my favorite television shows…

First, Stargate SG-1 got the ax in 2007 — while in the middle of a major storyline — after ten seasons . It managed to survive through two made-for-DVD movies.

And now Stargate Atlantis has been shown the door with plans for a television movie to wrap-up the cliffhanger from this final season (Gateworld’s continuing coverage).

And as if it wasn’t bad enough that this is the last season of Battlestar Galactica, they had to cancel Stargate Atlantis too!

To make matters worst, the finale season of The Shield will premiere on September 2nd.

Can’t have nothin’.

As they say: All Good Things…

Why I can’t watch the news.

Because there are too many stupid newscasters.

Take for example the 9:00 a.m. news on WRC (NBC, Channel 4) out of Washington, D.C.

One newscaster (a young black guy; didn’t catch the name) was discussing the countries with the highest amount of medals.

He stated “for a small country like France” they’re doing quite well (3 gold, 9 silver, 10 bronze: 22 total).

When did France become “a small country”?

It’s the 40th biggest country in the world by size! (Wikipedia)

The country has 64,473,140 people in it! That makes it the 20th biggest country by population. (Ibid)

I’m curious, can this newscaster even locate France on the map? Hint: It’s in Europe.

You know, WRC could hire me as an expert foreign affairs consultant; heck, I have never been out of the United States and I have only been to four states (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina) and the District of Columbia, but hell, I can do better than the people they have now.

NBC4 should check their dateline before they publish a story.

NBC4:

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. Maryland State Police are investigating the death of a man who died while police were preparing to take him for an emergency evaluation.

The man is identified as Raymond H. Bartles, Jr., 43, whose last known address was in Woodbridge, Va. Bartles was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon at the Easton Memorial Hospital.

The idiots the media hires as talking heads.

I was watching the 3 a.m. news that either ABC or CBS was running on Tuesday morning (the 15th), when they had some female talking head talking about the recent request by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, for war crimes committed during the Darfur conflict.

The talking head stated that the Darfur conflict was “the first time rape has been used as an instrument of war.”

Uh, hello? Has this woman heard of World War II?

During World War II, the Japanese invaded China in 1937. In December of 1937, the city of Nanking, at the the time the capital of the Republic of China, was captured by Japanese forces.

In what became the Nanking Massacre, a.k.a. the Raping of Nanking, 300,000 unarmed soldiers and civilians were killed according to United States records (link). The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, a.k.a. the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, estimated that 20,000 women were raped during the first month of occupation, including adolescents and the elderly (link).

Estimates for the number of rapes in Berlin after the fall of the city to the Soviet Red Army range from 90,000 to 130,000. A female Soviet war correspondent stated the following: “‘The Russian soldiers were raping every German female from eight to eighty,’ she recounted later. ‘It was an army of rapists.'” (The Guardian)

If a news agency is going to have a talking head on, they might want to get one with some knowledge…


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