January 12, 2005

Finally! Alias and 24 Return!

Last June, when the upcoming television schedules were announced, you would not believe how disappointed I was to learn that two of my favorite shows were not going to have a new episode until January of 2005. Why? Why put off the debut of these popular shows? Why? Why deprive me, and the other fans, the joy that these shows bring to us? I just couldn't wrap my head around it. Well, the months have past, and so far the new season has yielded some new hits, and some shows have rebounded from poor seasons past, but now the season can really begin.

Admittedly, neither show is coming off of their best season, but even on a bad day they are better than a lot of what is out there. 24 suffering it's weakest season, has a lot to prove this year. It's third season started out pretty good, but for the most of the middle season it was a meandering mess, but it recovered for an exciting finish. Alias, in the other hand, I really enjoyed it all the way through, but it didn't have that cliffhanger feel of the first season, or that shocking restart of the second season. Either way, they are back and the viewing public, and in particular, me, can flock back to their sets and see what the new seasons have in store for us.

Alias kicked off season 4 last week with a two hour premiere in it's new slot which pairs it off with another JJ Abrams creation, the superb Lost. This pairing makes for one excellent block of television. Back to the show at hand. The show kicks off with our hero in a most revealing outfit, but soon enough we are fighting throughout a moving train, and just before the climax, we get a 72 hours earlier card and the newly redesigned opening credits. That is one thing I always liked about the show, before giving us the standard opening credits, they suck you into the story first.

The episode takes us back a few days prior to the events already witnessed, where we see Sydney getting grilled, and demoted, before ultimately quitting the CIA. I couldn't help but feel that there was a big setup at work here, and boy, was I right. Please forgive me for the spoilers, but if you have the opportunity, see it anyway, any description that I can make will not, and cannot, substitute the actual viewing event. We follow Sydney as she enters a grungy tunnel, which gives way to a sleek looking government office. Apparently, her fake resignation was to get her into a newly formed black ops group, which seems to be putting the band back together. She is introduced to the rest of the team, Vaughan, Dixon, her father, Jack, and finally, and most unwelcome, yet not wholly unexpected, Sloane. This is an interesting turn, it's like a new version of SD-6, and it also leads us to a mention of Rambaldi. And thank God for that, I keep wondering if that is going to lead anywhere. Anyway, this leads to a new mission, and allows them to use tactics which would not be allowed under other circumstances.

Great start to a hopefully great season. The cast is top notch, and with no breaks through the end of the year, this could make for some exciting television. That brings us to the other much anticipated premiere, 24.

24 debuted this past Sunday, on a special night, with a 2 hour premiere. A premiere which was immediately followed by another 2 hours on Monday, which will be it's regular night. So, in the span of 2 days, we are already the equivalent of 4 episodes into the season. And what a start it's been! Much better than last year, and possibly better than season 2. We get a revamped cast, with Palmer out of office, having lost ot his opponent from last year, last season's demise of Sherry, and the exit of many of CTU's team. Also apparently out for this year are Jack's daughter , Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) and her boyfriend, and Jack's former partner, Chase. This year starts with Jack apparently working for the DOD, as he is accompanying the Secretary of Defense (played by William Devane) to CTU to review the budget, but of course, nothing goes right. The secretary needs to visit his rebellious son which results in his abduction, there is a train bombing, and the capture of a wanted terrorist. I've gotta say, Bauer can never seem to manage a quiet day. It also appears that Jack knows everybody, good and bad, never gets along with anyone, and is always right. Despite this, and the convenient plot contivances, the writers manage to whip up an exciting and involving plot, combining a number of threads into a tapestry that is as complicated as it is entertaining, and completely unbelievable.

The plot wastes no time at getting Jack back in the field and working outside of anybody's ability to control. The ever defiant Bauer, seems to be so far ahead of anyone at CTU that it isn't funny, the new director seems to be downright clueless. And this is only in the first 2 hours. The second two hours finds Jack having to stage a robbery in order to keep the suspect in sight, great stuff. And we can't forget about the other threads at play here, the main of which is the Arab family who seems to be behind the day's problems, and their Americanized son who has the misfortune of being followed by his girlfriend, plus the office politics and loyalty issues. This probably makes no sense, let me just say that you need to tune in and check this out, hopefully it will last for the entire season.

I guess I should wrap this up. I am just very happy to have these shows back on my viewing calendar, and at what appears to be top form. I implore those of you who do not already watch the shows, check them out. One episode each is all I ask, give them a shot and you will not be disappointed.


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