Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday Night TV Returns

Prison Break actually came back last week, but I found I didn't care anymore. I mean, at all. I decided I would rather watch a football game between two teams I don't care about than watch another exhausting season of ridiculous plot twists, no matter how much I liked Wentworth Miller's character.

Last night, though, was the good stuff on NBC. Debuts of Chuck and Journeyman, and the season premiere of Heroes.

Chuck is a McG show, so it's stylish and funny, but you can't expect everything to make sense. It's about a guy named Dave... kidding, it's about a guy named Chuck who works as a computer repairman at a store that is an obvious take-off on Best Buy. An old college buddy sends Chuck a mysterious email full of scary images that flicker across his screen at incredibly high speed. Turns out, the email attachment contains the entire contents of a top-secret database meant for sharing information between CIA and NSA (that's one hell of an attachment, let me tell you).

After that, things start getting weird for Chuck. He strikes up a flirtatious relationship with a gorgeous blond customer, getting his first date in years. A mysterious black-suited figure breaks into his apartment and tries to steal his computer, destroying it in the process. Then he recognizes a terrorist in Large-Mart (guess what it's supposed to be) without knowing how he knows. Then guys in black suits show up during his date, apparently trying to kill him. But that's okay, because his date turns out to be a CIA agent trying to retrieve the information on the email he received (she was the black-suited ninja, you see).

By the end of the episode, Chuck has managed to survive both the spies and a terrorist bomb plot, and it is revealed that the information sent to him is now permanently stored inside his head. So the only way the NSA and CIA can use all that information is if they work together to keep Chuck safe. He refuses to join either agency, so he continues to work at Buy More, while his beautiful CIA love interest and a bulldog NSA assassin (played by Adam Baldwin of Firefly) keep watch over him.

The show is a lot of fun with appealing characters. It doesn't make a damn bit of sense, though. I'm not a guy who furiously thinks through all the implications of every plot point, trying to find holes. Normally, I let myself go with the flow and only drop out of the trance if something egregiously stupid happens. Like somebody sending an email attachment from a handheld PDA that contains the entire contents of a room-size supercomputer. Or the contents of a hard drive being irretrievably wiped out when a computer falls off a shelf. Or nobody at the NSA thinking to retrieve the contents of the email attachment from the ISP, rather than from Chuck himself. But of course, once again, NSA is presented as the secret government agency in charge of assassination, not computer security-Hollywood is full of idiots.

So I'll watch the show as long as it's on, just for the fun and the relationship between Chuck and the gorgeous CIA babe. But I don't expect it to last even a full season unless they can fix the stupidity.

Journeyman was pretty good, too, almost a modern remake of Quantum Leap. This newspaper reporter begins inexplicably making brief trips back in time, in order to fix problems in the timestream or something. He's making the world a better place, but destroying his marriage in the process. I liked the show, but wasn't mesmerized by it, the way I was by Daybreak.

And I'm so happy that Heroes is back. Once again, though, the Wheel of Heroes turns exceedingly slowly. Once again, the premiere episode does not manage to fit in every character. We see nothing of StripperHulk's dysfunctional family, nor of the resurrected Sylar. And some actors apparently got signed to other shows--Matt "TelepathiCop" Parkman has quietly divorced, as has Nathan "The Flying Pol" Petrelli. Maybe the Heroes folks decided to fear the Rena Sofer Curse.

One thing that jumped out at me on this ep, other than the complete lack of plot progress, was the wonky time-shifting. We intercut between Hiro in the past and characters in the present. That's fine. But we also intercut between, say, Indestructible Cheerleader Claire in gym class, then Molly Walker having a bad dream in the middle of the night, then back to Claire, still in gym class. The characters are supposedly on opposite ends of the continent (I think), but even a three-hour time difference can't account for that. The commentaries in the Season One set mentioned that they sometimes break up scenes in editing to get a better flow, but this one just didn't work.

Still, I'm excited by the possibilities. Let's get this Wheel rolling.

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