Let us begin with the epic series that had its final showing ever, 24. 24 was essentially about a terrorist government unit, CPU, comparable to the CIA/FBI. It had as its best secret weapon, Jack Bower, a kick ass agent that basically is NEVER wrong. I came to 24 in its third season but quickly caught up on DVDs and continued with Tivo. Even while others may have dismissed 24 as a propaganda tool to advance FOX’s conservatism (the running theme of good-results-come-from-excessive-use-of-force-during-interrogation did not do much to counter this argument) I still found 24 progressive. After all, it had not one but TWO popularly elected black presidents – both well before Obama stepped into office. 24 even had a female president in its last two seasons. Yes, it is true that state enemies have included those from the Middle East and Asia, which pisses me off, but the biggest threats always remained power holders within the U.S. government itself! Lastly, 24 was the first series to kill off its lead actors without mercy or consideration for fans. In fact, they even killed off Jack one season. It got so bad that I tried not to get attached to characters just in case they got offed.
As expected from the finale, 24 ended with Jack’s righteousness in tact, even compelling an apology from a fallen president. The finale had more domestic and international enemies than usual and the death counts, just by Jack’s hand alone, was impressive. 24 also did not skip on trademark one liners like, “Don’t fight it,” when Jack puts the sleeper hold on tech expert and perennial “Girl Friday,” Chloe O'Brian. Glad she survived the franchise and was promoted to CPU’s director, as she was my favorite character, a nerdy, malcontent grouch. Overall a pretty satisfactory ending with whispers of a feature film ahead. I’d go see it.
Another highly dramatic show to end forever was Lost. Lost in short was about plane wrecked individuals with sordid pasts that learned to survive on a bizarrely magical island. I began watching bits and pieces of Lost in its second season. From there on out, I skipped around seasons a lot. Given its non-linear nature, it may have helped not to watch it in order anyway. The last season consisted of an alternate life-line for the main characters with the premise of, “what could have happened had Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed?” The fact that viewers tuned into the final episode just to figure out the plot of the whole series makes this one of the best mystery TV shows ever.
Supposedly everything that happened on the island really did, no cheesy dream ending. The alternative world then was a sorta kinda waiting room or purgatory where Lost individuals waited for their comrades to pass. When all did, they met at a small church to enter the after life together. Mystery solved. Though the biggest questions I had was, who the hell was Jacob and that dude that he always spoke with on the beach; and what the hell is the island about?
My questions were answered in episode 15 of this season, “Across the Sea.” The man is Jacob’s paternal twin, aka the black smoke creature, aka the image of the dead John Locke. I would argue that episode was the best of the season, mainly because it clarified the whole Lost show for me. But, my issue with this particular episode and the final one is the heavy-handed references to Christianity. The whole blond, pale, angelic-like Jacob vs the brunette, tanned, devilish like twin brother was quite cliché and borderline racist. Oh, and the meeting at the CHURCH at the end just doesn’t spell religious diversity—such a played out trope and a bit too trite for Lost. Oh, and on a superficial note, I always wanted Kate and Sawyer to end up together at the end. I also did not appreciate Jin and Sun getting killed. Still, enjoyed the series and kinda sad to see it end.
Luckily for me, JJ Abrams, creator of Lost, is back with Fringe. Its second season finale was lackluster at best. I got the sense that they didn’t realize they’d come back for the third season so they scrambled for a cool cliffhanger. Didn’t work. What did work was every episode before that. I describe Fringe as X files meets that cool episode of Star Trek where the crew interacted with their counterparts from an alternative universe (Futurama also had cool references to alternative universes in a couple of their episodes).
Even if Fringe had nothing but guest appearances by Leonard Nimoy, it would still be one of my favorite shows. But aside from Nimoy, they possess a compelling story filled with twists and turns. It has also the most sumptuous character on TV right now, the mad scientist, Walter Bishop. A brilliant scientist, his madness drove him to a mental hospital for two decades before joining the Fringe FBI unit. Always short of a few screws, he walks through the worlds of insanity and genius with comical results.
Fringe also one of the most enigmatic characters, namely the Observers. These white, bald creatures in bola hats and 60s suits seemingly can pass through time and space. Their language is math and they document human society in vast galaxies. I still cannot figure out what they are or their purpose, but I will continue to tune in to find out. I’m glad Fringe is coming back next year.
However, my two favorite premier series may not be coming back next year. They are Flashforward and V. Based for Robert J. Sawyer’s Flashforward, it is about worldwide blackouts where people literally pass out simultaneously for a few minutes and in their slumber, they have visions of the future. How they deal with their prophetic images once they wake up make for damn good drama! I think the actors are tops except for the whispering lead, Special Agent Mark Benford. They seem to collect some of the best from canceled series like Lost and Battlestar Galactica. They even have John Cho (aka Sulu from the new Star Trek, and Harold from Harold and Kumar) as FBI Special Agent Demetri Noh, in an interracial relationship with both Gabrielle Union and Christine Woods. It’s smart television and that’s probably why rumors are running rampant they won’t come back, tears.
V (for Visitor), a remake of the 1984 science fiction TV series, may fair better. Like the 1984 show, this one centers around the “friendly” appearance of alien beings who are in fact present for the sole purpose of world conquest. Human rebels working with the aliens, however, plot to undermine V’s global domination. It’s action packed, dramatic and has pretty good special affects, especially with the costuming of the reptile-like V aliens. I’m hopeful this lively show will return and look forward to see how humans come together now that they know the true motives of the Vs.
So, even though reality shows continue to flourish, this past TV season proved that there remains good programming. Of course a couple are now gone, 24 and Lost. A few more threatened to never come back like Flashforward and V, some will still be around for at least one more year like Fringe. Make sure you watch these shows on DVD or catch when they (may or may not) return in 2011!