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Holiday Visitors Pt.2 February 24, 2012

Posted by Ted in : Crime Dramas, Holiday Posts, Smallville , add a comment

OK, this is going to be a really long post, but the story about what happened to me last Christmas is just too weird not to finish.

Back in December, I started to wonder if my previous post had put the jinx on things with my new sometimes-girlfriend Sierra. It was almost Christmas and I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of weeks. After leaving her several voicemail messages, she finally called me and said she would come over on Christmas Eve. I was looking forward to that night, and hoped for a little cuddle time, but she failed to materialize or even call, and I was left to drink my eggnog alone and stare at the lights on my little Christmas tree.

A few days after that disappointment, she finally called and apologized for the no-show. Sierra said she found out at the last minute that she had to go to Pittsburgh to visit some relatives with her sister. She was going to call me the day before Christmas and fill me in on the situation, but the battery in her cell phone went dead. She lost track of time, and after that was too embarrassed to call because she thought I would be upset.

It’s true that I was pretty sore with her up until that belated call, but man-oh-man did she make up for it on New Year’s Eve. We hit just about every bar in Louisville that night, said hello to some friends — mostly hers — and what came after that is kind of a blur, except that there was lots of drunken dancing and sloppy kisses around midnight.

We’ve had a couple of dates since then, but it appears that Sierra has gone back into hiding just in time for Valentine’s Day. I’m still not sure what the status of our relationship is, or even where she lives, for that matter.

Anyway, for the reasons I just outlined, it was not such a great Christmas here in the crawlspace, and Santa Claus might have found my body lying cold and still on the floor that night if it hadn’t been for a weird distraction that made me forget about my girlfriend situation for a while.

It was around 10:00 p.m. when it started to sink in that Sierra wasn’t going show up. I was alone in the house for the evening; mom had gone to visit her parents in Chicago, and wasn’t due back until the following afternoon. So, I turned on the TV and watched the middle of It’s a Wonderful Life for what was probably the tenth time, and drifted off to sleep on the couch.

Around midnight I was woken up by a series of loud bumps from upstairs. I turned off the TV and sat listening for a minute. There was another short burst of footsteps, followed by silence. Somebody, or something, was up there. It was possible that Mom had returned early from her trip, but just to be on the safe side I grabbed my canister of pepper spray and went to investigate.

I snuck quietly up the basement stairs and opened the door, half expecting to see jolly old St. Nick with his bag of toys. The lights in the dining room and kitchen were all still turned off. I called out, “Mom?” but got no reply. Then I walked into the living room, and saw a man crouching behind Mom’s Christmas tree. His sweaty, grimacing face was illuminated by the colorful lights.

Before I could react, he leapt forward like a wild man, knocking down the tree and then tripping over it. He came crashing down on the floor, and growled with inhuman rage as he wrestled around with the fallen tree. Finally, he stopped struggling and got up off the floor. It was Jack Bauer.

“What the hell are you doing here?!” I demanded to know.

“I should ask you the same thing, Crawlspace! Although it doesn’t really surprise me to find you cavorting in the home of a known terrorist!”

“Known terrorist? This is my mother’s house, and you’re trespassing! I should call the police!”

He grinned psychotically. “Go ahead. You think they can stop me? I’m Jack freakin’ Bauer!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Your hands are registered weapons and all that stuff. We’ll see how dangerous you are with a face full of pepper spray.”

Jack eyed my can of spray with a look of apprehension. His tone became more conciliatory.

“Look, I know you’re still ticked off because I roughed you up a little at our interview a couple of years ago, and I don’t blame you for that. I was pretty drunk, and I got carried away.”

“Yeah, the waterboarding was a little over the top. So, you’re back for more? You thought you would drop by and ruin my Christmas again?”

“Nah, I’m not after you this time. You’re small potatoes compared to this Mary Crawford character. Uh… did you just say she’s your mother?”

“Yes, I did, and there’s no way she’s a terrorist. She’s a well respected person in this community and she’s lived in this house for 20 years. She despises all forms of crime and terror, and she’s even a member of the local Neighborhood Watch group. And look at this…”

I directed Jack’s attention to Mom’s extensive crime-drama DVD collection which filled up about half of a wall-sized bookcase. He gazed with interest at the various seasons of Law and Order, CSI, Bones, NCIS, NYPD Blue, and about a dozen other shows. He pulled out the first season of 24 and held it reverently in his hands for a minute.

“You know, I see what you mean about your mother. She seems like a very smart, responsible lady. I guess it’s possible that I’ve obtained faulty information.”

He apologized for breaking in, and for knocking over the tree. We got the tree set back up with all the lights and ornaments in place, and I invited him down to the basement for some eggnog. We went downstairs and Bauer started to explain how he had obtained my mother’s name in relation to an international terror plot.

He revealed that he had recently started a private defense organization called World Alliance of Heroes (WAH) along with an old friend named Mickey Stern, who was a former Air Force pilot. They obtained funding from several wealthy donors who were concerned about global security and were familiar with Bauer’s get-it-done reputation as a covert operation specialist.

In addition to Mickey, Jack also recruited Antoine Le Sueur, a martial arts expert with a fondness for spandex tights, which he wanted to be the official WAH uniform, but was vetoed by Jack and Mickey.

“So who’s your tech person?” I asked. “Is Chloe O’Brian part of the team?”

“No, I couldn’t get in touch with her,” Jack replied. “The last I heard, she left CTU for a job as programming consultant for a company called Zynga. Takes home several million a year. She doesn’t even return my calls anymore.”

“I know how that is,” I interjected. “So what did you do?”

“We got the next best thing: Chloe Sullivan, long time friend of Clark Kent.”

“Wow! How’d you pull that off?”

“We contacted her because we wanted to use Superman’s old headquarters, known as The Watchtower. She rented it to us at a rate that’s less outrageous than you would think. The place is decked out in state-of-the-art computer technology, which only Sullivan knows how to operate. She was nostalgic for her days of working with superheroes, so she signed on as our computer expert.”

Jack paused and said, “I’ve got something out in the car that might improve this eggnog a little bit.” He went out through the basement door and returned a couple of minutes later with a fifth of Canadian Mist. He continued his story as he topped off his eggnog glass with whiskey and then did the same to mine.

After receiving a request from his WAH patrons to gather intelligence in the South American region, Bauer parachuted into the Amazon jungle with his trusty HK416 assault rifle and a backpack full of survival gear. He spent a couple of weeks there, getting information from the natives and honing his survival skills.

He hitched a ride to Rio de Janeiro in the back of a banana truck after getting a tip about a crime operation there, and started working undercover at a casino. One night at the roulette table, he met a beautiful Russian double agent who called herself Tasha Babinski. During their brief romantic entanglement, she told him about an international terrorist plot against the United States which involved the governments of Russia, Iran, Finland, Luxembourg, Mozambique, Tajikistan, and swaths of Micronesia, along with several Mexican drug cartels and a couple of radical professors at Berkeley.

Tasha then helped him to stow away on a Russian submarine which was setting out on a trans-Atlantic ocean voyage to the Middle East. He got onboard and hid in the supply closet for a couple of weeks, occasionally kicking butt whenever a crew member discovered him there. Bauer snuck into the captain’s quarters one day and found a suspicious database of names on his laptop computer, which Jack copied to a thumb drive.

That database, he explained, contained my mother’s name, which caught his attention because he had already heard her name mentioned by a couple of other underground sources.

Bauer was eventually discovered and subdued by several crew members, after which they brought the submarine to the surface and threw Jack overboard. He swam for a distant coastline for a couple of hours, and was near exhaustion when he was rescued by some very casually-dressed men in a fishing boat who turned out to be Somali pirates.

Upon learning their identity, Jack feared that he would spend the rest of his life in a Mogadishu prison, but the Somalis recognized him from his TV show and agreed to let him go if he posed with them for some photographs.

Then Mickey picked him up in his plane, and they flew back home to the US, where Jack did a little research to find the whereabouts of Mary Crawford, which finally led him to my mother’s house.

He reiterated that he thought my mother was either the wrong Mary Crawford, or somebody involved with the terrorist plot was using her name.

“So,” I said, “here you are working on Christmas Eve, huh?

“Yeah, or I was, but now I guess it’s back to the old drawing board.”

The conversation came to a lull, so I asked if he was up for a little Super Nintendo, and then put in the Mario Kart cartridge at his request. It was apparently his favorite game, and he beat me in every match except one.

Around the time I started sipping my fifth specially-mixed eggnog, I could feel myself sinking back on the couch and into unconsciousness. Bauer didn’t even seem to notice that I had dropped my controller. He was still laughing maniacally, thoroughly engrossed in the game.

When I awoke it was Christmas morning, and Bauer was gone. He had left one of his WAH business cards on the coffee table. On the back he had scribbled the words, “Thanks for the hospitality. I’ll keep you posted on any new developments.”

 

Holiday Visitors Pt. 1 December 17, 2011

Posted by Ted in : Big Bang Theory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe, General, Grimm, Holiday Posts, NBC, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Terra Nova , 1 comment so far

Before I delve into more personal topics, I’ll make a few comments about the current television season, because after all, that’s what this blog is supposed to be about.

Terra Nova has turned out to be a lot better than I expected, and I haven’t missed an episode yet. It seems very retro, like a show from the 70s, something you can watch with your kids without giving them psychological problems. Dinosaurs plus advanced technology and complex inter-tribal conflict equals big fun!

I have finally watched a couple of episodes of Big Bang Theory, and I have to admit I laughed a couple of times and the show is probably not as bad as I suggested in my last column. And I do appreciate the many sci-fi references and I’m now wondering if I somehow missed the boat by not having my own collection of real-life nerdy roommates.

This season Fox has decided to air Fringe at the same time as Supernatural on Friday nights, and as a result I’ve had to watch Supernatural online.

Also scheduled in the same time slot is NBC’s new spooky-ish drama Grimm, the first episode of which I saw and was not terribly impressed. It seems to steal equally from both Supernatural and Buffy, while not breaking much new ground. Surely the network must know that airing it in the same time slot as two of TVs most popular shows amounts to a death sentence. I mean, this show might not be the greatest, but at least put it where it can survive until viewers start to watch it. Doesn’t that make sense, NBC? As usual, I fail to understand what you’re thinking. Maybe for some twisted reason they decided that Grimm would be dead on arrival. Office politics, egos, and that kind of thing? A better explanation might be plain old incompetence.

Anyway, Fringe has been pretty interesting so far this season, as Peter tries to convince Walter and Olivia that he used to be their co-worker, even though they can’t remember him. I’m guessing the Watchers might not be pleased with his reappearance. And now we have these new improved shape-shifters plotting to take over the earth. They don’t have mercury in their veins like the old ones — they are indistinguishable from real people, except for a little hunk of embedded computer hardware. Oddly, they can still only communicate with headquarters via an old typewriter. Where’s that “Can you hear me now?” guy when you need him?

My new sort-of girlfriend Sierra is also a Fringe fan, and she has been over to the crawlspace a couple of times to watch it with me. What’s that? You’re shocked? You thought I was a total recluse and a candidate for the nut house? Well, that might be true, but even us crazies need some company every now and then.

Actually, the story about how Sierra and I met is kind of interesting. I was working my usual graveyard shift (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) at Majik Market on Saturday night a few weeks ago. Around 2:30, a car came screeching to a halt in the parking lot in front of the store. For a minute I wondered if I was about to be robbed, but eventually the driver-side door opened and a woman with a long winter coat got out and came into the store.

She seemed a little wobbly on her high heels, and she went over to the drink cooler, pulled out a can of Red Bull, and brought it to the checkout register.

Putting her hands on the countertop for support, she muttered, “Sorry, I had a little too much to drink tonight.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” I replied in my usual patronizing tone, which you develop only after years of working at a convenience store.

As I rang up the can, she started going through her pocket book. She laid down a raggedy one dollar bill and a handful of change. One of the pennies rolled off the counter and onto the floor. She started to kneel down in front of the counter to pick it up, then lost her balance and fell on the floor with a scream. I heard laughter from the other side of the counter, and my drunken customer showed little interest in getting up again.

I walked around to the front of the counter to see what the situation was, and she had managed to prop herself up on one arm.

She held up her penny, and said with a smile, “Here it is… I found it.”

By then the laughter had stopped, and she seemed to be crying instead.

Bending down, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “Hey, listen. You don’t need to be driving in this condition. Why don’t you come sit in the back and try to sober up for a while?”

She agreed, so I helped her up and took her to sit in the big recliner chair in the manager’s office. On the way there she assured me that she didn’t usually drink so much, but the party she had gone to was boring and she didn’t know anybody there except for a couple of girls she had barely known in high school. After assisting her into the chair, I went back out front for a while. When I came back to check on her a few minutes later she seemed to be asleep, so I turned off the light in the office.

While she was out cold, my co-worker Somebody Else came by on his ten-speed to check his schedule for the following week. S.E. had recently started working at the convenience store to augment his lack of income from Somebody’s Webpage. That’s right, we now have two jobs in common, although I don’t hang around at the website office that much. I think that office might as well be Somebody’s apartment. It seems like he’s always there, and he’s even got a bed in the back room.

Anyway, S.E. looked like he had been out clubbing. He had his silk shirt opened several buttons down, and a gold chain around his neck, and his hair was combed back with some kind of mousse in it. I didn’t inquire about his adventures that night — I honestly didn’t care.

You might think from looking at him in that getup that the guy is kind of flaky and superficial, but don’t be deceived. He’s really a top notch writer, so good that he actually intimidates me a little bit. He turns out at least one article a week for Somebody’s Webpage, while I’ve only been writing a new post once a month or so. Anyway, I was happy to help him get a job here at the convenience store. I see it as a peace offering of sorts.

Luckily, I had the work schedule behind the counter, so S.E. didn’t have to go into Rajnish’s office and find out about the recovering damsel in the recliner.

S.E. and I talked about the weather and politics and the website for a few minutes, and when I brought up the subject of my blog, he once again commented that he doesn’t have time to watch TV, since he’d rather be doing something worthwhile like mountain climbing.

OK, whatever. Having accomplished his goal of annoying me, he paid for some bottled water then set off for home on his bike.

The next couple of hours at the store were pretty dead, as they always are right before dawn, and I sat down in my chair behind the counter and dozed for 15 minutes or so. Then I woke up, made some fresh coffee for the early birds, and started restocking some of the drinks and gum and stuff.

Shortly before 6:00 a.m. — when the sun was beginning to rise — the mystery girl finally emerged from the back room. She assured me she was feeling much better and thanked me for the help. I went and pulled her can of Red Bull back out of the cooler and gave it to her. She got into her car and drove away in a much more dignified fashion than when she had arrived.

I honestly thought that was the last I would see of her, but she returned to the store about a week later to buy a pack of mints. This time she seemed like a different person. She had on an olive-colored sweater with jeans, and seemed completely sober and coherent.

We talked for a while, and I found out she’s working as a hostess at a restaurant called Jacques, and she’s also studying to be a paralegal. I told her about my TV blog, and it turned out that she likes most of the same shows that I do. There was definitely some chemistry happening there the second time she came in, and I finally learned her name when she wrote “Sierra” down on a piece of paper with her phone number.

Since then, we’ve had several phone conversations, and she’s been over to my place to watch TV a couple of times. She was impressed with my beanbag chair and my black light posters, but thinks I need to get a Christmas tree. I said OK, under the condition that she helps me decorate it. I’m not sure where this is all going to lead, but it’s shaping up to be a better holiday season than I’ve had in many years.

Midseason 2009 TV Explosion! January 6, 2009

Posted by Ted in : 24, 30 Rock, Amazing Race, American Idol, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Fringe, General, Hell's Kitchen, Heroes, Holiday Posts, Kath & Kim, Lost, Midseason, My Name is Earl, Reality TV, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Smallville, Terminator: tSCC, The Office , 8comments

 January is here. The festivities and laziness of the holiday season are behind us. It’s time for everyone to once again get serious about things, get back to work, and face up to the hard cold reality of life. Right?

Wrong! January is the time of year we TV watchers plunge head first into some serious escapist entertainment, and here at TV Crawlspace the only reality we’ll be facing is reality television. In just a few days, a massive wave of midseason premieres will hit like a tsunami, carrying us helplessly out into the television ocean, hopefully never to return again.

For TV Guide’s complete schedule of midseason premieres, click here.

Here’s a rundown of shows I’m looking forward to (and a couple I’m not looking forward to) in chronological order:

13 Fear is Real – (starts Wed., Jan. 7 on CW 8/7c)
This is a spooky themed reality show that might be amusing, something along the lines of Survivor meets Blair Witch Project. I hope there’s something more going on here than guys in masks jumping out and scaring contestants.

NBC comedy night done (halfway) right – (all four shows resume on Thur., Jan. 8 on NBC 8/7c)
My Name is Earl – This has been a little bit better this season, with a half hearted attempt to return to the theme of redemption (Earl’s list) that made the show so appealing in the first season.
Kath & Kim – I watched this show just to see how bad it was, and to my surprise I liked it. Slightly demented but well written, it’s sort of a kinder, gentler version of John Waters. Everybody on this show apparently works in a mall. How cool is that?
The Office – This has been brilliant as usual. I especially liked the episode where Jim and Pam had their first disagreement. I hope this is a foreshadowing of things to come. I think I like them better as enemies than lovers. Is it just me, or are all the female characters on this show mean and vindictive?
30 Rock – As a fan of Tina Fey during her SNL days, I wanted to like this overhyped show, but the cutesy self-satisfied tone of it left me cold. The jokes aren’t funny, and the endless parade of guest stars can’t make up for the show’s lack of direction. The emperor has no clothes!

Howie Do It – (starts Fri. Jan. 9 on ABC 8/7c)
This appears to be a hidden camera prank type show with Howie Mandel. I may watch the one episode that is aired before the show is cancelled.

24 – (starts Sun. Jan. 11 on FOX 8/7c)
What I always liked about 24 was its sci-fi elements, like the spacey soundtrack, and the high tech gadgetry. This season Janeane Garofalo plays the new computer guru, Janis Gold. According to TV Guide, “Mid-season run-ins with Chloe should make for hot geek-on-geek action.”

American Idol – (starts Tue. Jan. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
It is what it is.

Smallville – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 8/7c)
I’ve gotten hooked on this show again after sitting out for a couple of seasons. It seems unfair that Smallville’s best season ever may be its last, although I don’t know if that’s been made official yet.

Supernatural – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 9/8c)
Another CW show that I’ve rediscovered. It seems to have improved a lot since its first season. CW deserves credit for giving shows like this and Smallville a chance, and not axing them at the drop of a hat.

Fringe – (returns Tue. Jan. 20 on FOX 9/8c)
This sci-fi drama from the co-creator of Lost is my favorite new show of the year. Run and tell your friends.

Lost – (starts Wed. Jan. 21 on ABC 9/8c)
There are few television pleasures that compare with getting lost in Lost. It’s pretty amazing that a show this weird could stay on the air for five years, but it’s been reported that season 6 in 2010 will be the last.

Hell’s Kitchen – (starts Thur. Jan. 29 on FOX 9/8c)
Not a great time slot for Chef Ramsey this time around. He’s going up against The Office and the ratings powerhouse Supernatural.

Heroes – (returns Mon. Feb. 2 on NBC 9/8c)
This quality of this show has fallen faster than Nathan Petrelli during an eclipse. The storylines seem to be wandering aimlessly. Too many characters to keep up with is part of the problem. Some have suggested it could be the show’s last season if the ratings don’t improve.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – (returns Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
FOX is moving this to Fridays, where it will be paired up with Dollhouse.

Dollhouse – (starts Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 9/8c)
This is the one that everyone’s waiting for, the new show from Buffy/Angel mastermind Joss Whedon, but there have reportedly been problems in production and FOX has now relegated the show to the dreaded Friday night time slot (set to debut on Friday the 13th, no less). Of course, the X-files thrived on Fridays, so there’s still hope.

The Amazing Race – (starts Sun. Feb. 15 on CBS 8/7c)
My favorite reality show will feature less airports this season, according to TV Guide.

Christmas with Jack Bauer, Part 3 January 2, 2009

Posted by Ted in : 24, Holiday Posts, Inspirational , 2comments

 

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I knew my interview with Jack Bauer had gone awry when I found myself being lifted out of my chair by the shirt collar, and slammed against his refrigerator. “You’re starting to sound a lot like a terrorist, pal!” he snarled.
“Hey, uh, that kinda hurts.”
“Hurts? How’d you like to know what real pain feels like? I knew when I saw you that you were one of these purse-carrying liberal elitists. But now I think it’s even worse than that. Give me one reason to believe you’re not working for Al Qaeda!”
I implored him to look in my shirt pocket. He pulled out a box of Tic-Tacs and frowned, then wasted no time in tying me to a chair. After a couple of solid backhands to the face, he plugged in a power cord and touched together the stripped wires at the other end, causing a spark. “You’re going to tell me who you’re working for”, he growled.

“You really know how to throw a Christmas party,” I said, perhaps a little too casually. “I bet Martha Stewart would be so proud. I don’t YAAARRRGHH YIYIYIYI vugindamsonuva GARRRRRRGH YIYIYIYIYI YIYIYIIYIYYI buzabadooba YOOOWWWW IYYIYIYIYIY subaluzzabunaguzza.” (Rough translation: “Ouch.”)

I decided it was in the best interest of the country to tell him everything. I confessed my admiration of French cuisine and culture. I admitted to having written passages from the Communist Manifesto on public restroom stalls. I divulged my secret dream to raise the taxes of gun owners and abolish all religions except Scientology. I acknowledged my status as a United Nations spy and a champion disco dancer. I confessed my habits of sticking my chewed gum under tables, and embarrassing my family members with drunken air guitar solos. I told him about the piece of candy I stole from the Civitans box at the Golden Corral, and the copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish that I never returned to the public library. I gave him Bin Laden’s street address, email, cell phone and fax numbers, plus my old high school locker combination and my mother’s revised banana bread recipe.

Thirty minutes into the bathtub water boarding session, Bauer’s phone rang. He dried off his hands and answered it.. “Bauer here. What’s the situation? Yeah, OK. I’ll be right down.” He hung up and then threw me a towel. “Looks like you’re off the hook. They’ve got an emergency down at headquarters.” He grabbed his keys and I followed him out the front door.
“You’re letting me go?”
“I’m not done with you yet, but I’ve got bigger problems right now.”
I stood dazed as he attached a pizza delivery sign to the top of his ’92 Tercel and backed out of the driveway. He yelled from his car, “Don’t worry, Crawlspace. I’ll find you, and you’ll wish I didn’t.”

(The new season of 24 starts January 11th.)

Christmas with Jack Bauer, Part 2 December 29, 2008

Posted by Ted in : 24, Holiday Posts , 3comments

 

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 It was Saturday evening, a few days before Christmas, and I was sitting down with Jack Bauer at his kitchen table for an exclusive interview. After the preliminary shots of whiskey were out of the way, Bauer began to talk candidly about his life. I was surprised to learn that he had been a surf bum during his youth, and had graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature before enlisting in the army. His military service had taken him on journeys around the world, missions that required him to become fluent in Spanish and Russian.

He explained that he was no longer employed by the Counter Terrorist Unit. He had been dismissed after his sensitivity training counselor had alleged that Bauer grabbed him by the throat and treatened to kill him. “It was all a big mix up”, Jack explained. “I didn’t mean to hurt the guy. But if they don’t want me around anymore, that’s fine. I don’t need all that bureaucratic red tape anyway.”

I decided it was time to broach a sensitive topic. “There has been great controversy about your show 24 in recent years. The show has had plenty of praise from critics, but there have also been plenty of detractors. They say 24 is too violent and that it glorifies torture as an acceptable means of gaining intelligence.”
He seemed mildly amused. “And where do you fall on that issue?”
“Well, as much as I like the show, I have to agree that you guys go overboard with the torture scenes.” I braced myself for the storm that might be brewing.

Bauer remained calm. “What I do in my line of work isn’t pretty, Mr. Crawlspace, but it’s necessary, if you want to continue to enjoy the quality of life we have in this country. You can’t always protect the rights of some fanatic when a million people could die from the nuclear attack he’s planning.”

“What I’m saying is,” I continued, “you may think he’s the guy you’re looking for, but without a trial or investigation, how do you know for sure? Maybe he’s just confessing to get you off his back.”
“Oh, I get it. You’re playing devil’s advocate,” Jack said, chuckling. “Of course. You had me there for a minute.”
The whiskey had apparently increased my boldness. “Actually, I’m being serious. I can understand using torture as a plot device in a TV show, but 24 practically promotes it as a lifestyle. I mean, if America is going to be doing these kinds of things in violation of the Geneva Convention, doesn’t it send a message to our enemies that anything goes? If the supposed good side is behaving more despicably than the bad side, how do we tell which side is which anymore? Why should I continue to support our country when we’re doing these things? I won’t. I’d rather join the enemy.”

Bauer put his half eaten Christmas cookie down slowly and stared at me from across the table. “Oh shit,” I thought. “Too far, too far.”

(to be continued)

Christmas with Jack Bauer, Part 1 December 23, 2008

Posted by Ted in : 24, Holiday Posts , 2comments

 

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 The long awaited seventh season of 24 starts January 11, 2009. Millions will once again be enthralled by agent Jack Bauer’s superhuman efforts to protect his country from the latest batch of evildoers. I was recently able to obtain Jack’s email address through my covert intelligence channels, and I requested an interview. To my surprise he answered my email with a phone call, and invited me over to his place the following Saturday for some holiday hospitality and an inside look at what makes the tough guy tick.

It turned out he had taken up residence near my area. After a 30 minute drive on Saturday afternoon, I pulled up in front of his small brick house. I knocked on his front door several times, but there was no answer. Then I tried the doorbell. Bauer peeked through the curtains, then opened the door just a crack and gave me a cold stare. After I explained who I was he seemed satisfied. He opened the door and invited me in. I stepped into his dimly lit den, which was cluttered with junk and old newspapers and magazines. The sound of the Boston Pops playing jingle bells blared from an old Magnavox TV. Sitting on a short table against the wall was a small Christmas tree, decorated with red, white, and blue lights, and a few ornaments. Next to the couch I spotted a well worn copy of Dr. Phil’s Relationship Rescue, but didn’t ask Bauer about it. Everybody knows the guy’s got issues.

He gave me a quick tour around his place. He showed me his two favorite bulletproof vests, a couple of scary looking assault rifles, and his tropical fish tank. He picked up a bobble head doll that Tony Almeida had given him as a Christmas present several years earlier. Jack smiled wistfully and shook the doll. “Betty Boop was a hell of girl.” We sat down for the interview at his kitchen table. The piles of dirty dishes by the sink betrayed his bachelor status. He gestured towards them. “Sorry about the mess.” He took out a half empty bottle of Jim Beam and two shot glasses and set them on the table next to some store-deli Christmas cookies. I managed to choke down a shot after watching him drink three in rapid succession.

“So”, I ventured, “done with your Christmas shopping?”
“Yeah.”

(to be continued)

Spooky Times at The Office November 3, 2008

Posted by Ted in : Holiday Posts, Reviews, The Office , 2comments

 

 

Rather than resorting to the kind of Halloween silliness usually seen on sitcoms, The Office mostly dispensed with the comedy on October 30th and gave us an emotionally dark rollercoaster ride worthy of the haunted season. The unsettling scene with Jim and Pam in the restaurant with Jim’s brothers continued to build the tension in the couple’s tested relationship. Pam’s collaboration with the brothers to play a prank on her long distance boyfriend seemed like a strangely misguided decision. Their once happy affair now feels like a slow motion car crash. You know the impact is coming and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Two other characters struggling with issues of geographic seperation, even less successfully, were office boss Michael Scott and human resources rep turned girlfriend Holly Flax. After the CFO of Dunder Mifflin spotted the two kissing at work last episode, she was transferred to a branch in New Hampshire. The Holly character quickly became a fan favorite last season with her goofy fun loving attitude, and was thought by many to be Michael’s perfect match. At the end of the “Employee Transfer” episode, Holly announced that the distance of several hundred miles would be too far for them to maintain their relationship. It seemed like a sudden and pointlessly cruel turn of events for not just Michael, but for the viewers as well.

Meanwhile, Dwight antagonized his romantic rival Andy by wearing a Cornell University sweatshirt and threatening to enroll there. Andy, portrayed as a stereotypical dumb jerk in previous seasons, seemed lost and helpless as Dwight made light of his beloved alma mater. I felt sorry for Andy, given his history of rage attacks (putting his fist through the wall after Jim hid his cellphone), and wondered if Dwight’s antics would result in another such meltdown. It is a testament to the writers’ skill that they could transform a seemingly one-dimensional character into a flawed but likable person worthy of our sympathy. At the end of last season I was firmly in the Dwight-Angela camp, but I’m starting to waver now that we’ve seen a more personal side of Andy. He seems more like an innocent bystander with his duplicitous fiancée Angela behaving lewdly with her ex in the supply closet.

This episode was a great illustration of why TV Crawlspace thinks The Office is a top notch show. In addition to having great comedy, there are deeper themes and more serious developments. The characters are realistic and complex, and they each have their own virtues and imperfections. As in real life they strive to find the balance between friendship and the pursuit of their own self interests. The outcome is sometimes funny, sometimes scary.

Lesser Heroes Unveiled August 18, 2008

Posted by Ted in : Heroes, Holiday Posts, Sci-Fi , 4comments

 

We’ve got nothing to worry about.

 

The exciting third season of Heroes begins September 22, and we at the crawlspace (basically me and my beta fish) will be letting all our calls go to voicemail on Monday nights. The writers of Heroes are always trying to come up with interesting new characters with unique superpowers. Since most of the really impressive powers, like super healing, mind reading, and time traveling, have already been used, the writers will have to start coming up with characters with less impressive powers in future seasons of the show. Here are a few new heroes in the works according to my inside sources (spoiler alert!):

Isaac Mendes, the precognitive artist who painted events of the future, was tragically killed by the evil Sylar. Isaac is gone but not forgotten. Following in his footsteps is his cousin Todd, who will have the ability to paint what happened five minutes ago. He does this with the aid of CNN and MSNBC, and some nice brushes his Aunt Jane gave him for Christmas. He uploads his creations to his blog several times a day and his family is really impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit.

Daphne “Tic Tac” Jacobs has the not too amazing ability to guess what people ate for lunch, which she does especially well if the person in question had a tuna sandwich or a Chef Boyardee product. Daphne is proud of her power. When she becomes aware of somebody’s meal choice, she announces it loudly for all their coworkers to hear.

Another departed hero is D.L. Hawkins, who had the power to walk through walls. Jeff “Turbo” Penaskovic has a similar power, although it’s somewhat less impressive. Turbo is only able to walk partially through walls. His power is usually demonstrated at parties after the first couple of kegs are empty. His other powers include bad dancing, and the ability to laugh at his own jokes.

Move over Hiro! Timmy “The Timemaster” Hutchins always knows the exact time and date when he’s wearing a special five dollar Timex he bought at Kmart. In future episodes he will also acquire the power to communicate with anybody in the world from any location that is within his cellphone coverage area.

Reginald “Spaghetti” Stevens, formerly a Princeton biochemist, accidentally spilled a vial of toxic chemicals into his coffee one night, and subsequently developed the ability to turn himself into a plate of spaghetti. Heroes insiders predict that after hiding his secret for many years, Reg will find a use for his power as an FBI informant.

Ever been stuck at a Thanksgiving dinner that turns into a home version of the Springer show? Or found yourself at a frat party where half naked people start yelling and breaking things? If so, you will appreciate the abilities of Midge “The Toastmistress” Evangale. Using her hypnotic powers to impart good manners and taste, she can turn the most uncouth gathering into a sophisticated social event.

Daniel “Pogo” Perez has the ability to leap 10 feet in the air. He has performed this feat only once, after he pulled a game sticker off the side of his french fries and found out he won a free order of french fries. Sadly, his power is hard to control and can’t be summoned at will, as he learned when he tried out for his college basketball team.

Valerie Smith has a superhuman level of patience. She has been known to stand in line at the grocery store for two hours because she invites others to break in front of her. Valerie is never frustrated by traffic jams. She sees them as a chance to brainstorm and organize her thoughts. When she was a young child she used to annoy her siblings by saying things like “I can’t believe it’s Christmas time already”. For fun she enjoys watching her plants grow and putting together two thousand piece jigsaw puzzles.

Inside the DTV Transition Nightmare, Part 1 July 9, 2008

Posted by Ted in : DTV, General, Holiday Posts , add a comment

 

It was a dark and stormy Christmas Eve in Washington D.C. The senate had postponed their holiday vacation to deal with a matter that weighted heavy on the heart of the nation. A teary eyed conservative senator stood before the chamber and proclaimed, “On behalf of my fellow Republicans I want to apologize. We hadn’t realized the magnitude of this problem. So many people out there are suffering…..really suffering…..” Unable to continue, he pulled out his handkerchief and dabbed his eyes. But his display of emotion didn’t seem so strange that night. There were few dry eyes on either side of the aisle. The majority leader spoke next. “I’m inspired by what I have seen here tonight. Inspired that we can set aside our partisan differences and do what’s right for the American people. There are many problems facing our country in this troubling age: a shrinking middle class, skyrocketing fuel prices, the loss of high-paying jobs, spiraling healthcare costs, disabled veterans who can’t pay their bills, climate change, the threat of nuclear and biological attacks, and the list goes on. But these problems pale in comparison to the heartbreak that is endured every day by millions of helpless Americans. For too many years they have suffered in the shadows, afraid to speak up, not wanting to burden those of us who enjoy a clear digital picture on our televisions. While we relax in comfort they struggle with their rabbit ear antennas, trying in vain to improve their reception of Everybody Loves Raymond, Scrubs, and other shows we take for granted. Some of them can barely pick up the CW. It’s a national disgrace, I tell you. Tonight we have shown these brave Americans that they haven’t been forgotten this holiday season!” After a 10 minute standing ovation, the cheering senators crowded around the speaker and he proceeded to body-surf out of the chamber. Joyful chants echoed around the capital building: “DTV for all! DTV for all!”

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...