TCA Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 6

Day 6 of the TCA Press Tour was all about the American Broadcasting Company – that’s ABC to you and me – presenting their slate of programming for Fall 2010, along with a couple of new entries that are technically midseason entries but will likely find themselves slotted into the schedule sooner than that. (You know how it goes: there’s always a show or two that gets the boot within a couple of episodes, thereby giving one of the relief squad a chance to go in early.)

Give Kevin Brockman, ABC’s head of publicity, full credit for getting the first big laugh of the day: he walked onto the stage holding a giant stuffed pink elephant named Binky, allowing him to be flanked by the real elephant in the room while addressing the metaphorical one, which was the somewhat unexpected departure of Steve McPherson, the network’s former President of Entertainment.

“On Tuesday, we issued a statement announcing Steve McPherson’s resignation from ABC Entertainment Group,” said Brockman. “I realize you all may have questions, obviously. That is what you do for a living. But to save us some time and hopefully make this as productive as possible, I just want to say that Tuesday’s statement still holds. It is literally all we are going to say on the subject. So you may ask, but you will get the same answer. So I’m just saying please know that is the statement. We have given it. We will give it again if we need to. But in the spirit of trying to make things as productive today, just realize that that’s where we are. We really have nothing more to add.”

And, indeed, they did not. Someone tried a bit later in the morning to get Paul Lee, McPherson’s hastily arranged replacement, to say something on the matter, but…well, we’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s talk about the panel that preceded Mr. Lee’s executive session.

Detroit 1-8-7

Can it really be possible that “Detroit 1-8-7” is the first police drama to be set within the city of Detroit? That would seem to be the case, and yet it seems like such an incredible oversight that it’s never been done before. More impressive, however, is the fact that the show is actually being filmed in Detroit.

“There are a lot of benefits to shooting in Detroit,” said producer David Zabel. “Included in that is that there is a bit of an infrastructure forming of crew. We are filling out our crew with a lot of locals. A lot of locals are working on the show, and hopefully in the long run what will then happen is that a lot of the locals who are working at mid-level positions are going to get better at these jobs and rise up and be doing more of the key department-head work as well. Overall, they’ve been doing quite a bit of feature work in Detroit, so there’s some aspects there that are well in place, but there are some things that are a little bit of a learning curve, and we’re sort of going through that together. A lot of the key department heads are from Los Angeles for now, but the vast numbers of the crew are largely local hires. In certain key departments we had to bring from L.A. in order to have qualified people so that we could deliver the show. Also, they are shooting seven features right now in Detroit, so even the talent pool that exists locally in Detroit is spread a little thin right now. But as the series goes on, I think we’re going to get more and more people that are local working on the show.”

As happy as I am for Detroit that they’ve got this series filming in their fine city, I must say that I got more than a little bored with the plethora of questions about that particular aspect. I was much more interested in the fact that the original conceit of the series as seen in the pilot which was screened for us in advance of the TCA tour – the detectives were being filmed as part of a documentary – has been thrown out the window due to the fact that, as a result of an unfortunate event in Detroit, the city has banned documentary filmmakers from following police officers around. With that having been put into play, they couldn’t exactly show such a thing going on within “Detroit 1-8-7,” now, could they?

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24 8.23-24: The last day of our acquaintance

There but for the grace of God goes Fox, who dares to air the series finale to one of their most successful shows in the shadow of “Lost,” which was basically the biggest series finale since “Cheers.” Man, do you remember the cast of “Cheers” on Leno’s show after that last episode aired? They were smashed. Good times.

The “24” finale, however, was not good times.

The bad guys won. Allison had the video of Starbuck with the Russian. Mr. Blonde wiped his servers, so the backup copy of the video was gone. The recording of the conversation between I.M. Weasel and Suvarov, which Jack gave to Chloe, was confiscated by Dominic. Chloe and Buffy are looking at long stints in the slammer for treason. Jack is looking at either the death penalty or life in a deep dark hole somewhere halfway around the world, if he’s lucky. Game over. Bad guys win.

Well, that’s how this would have happened in the real world.

But not here. Instead, Jack, Chloe and Buffy are saved by a long-overdue crisis of conscience on the part of one Allison Taylor. One that, ideally, shouldn’t have needed to happen in the first place – this is where frequent commenter Mr. Paulsen would make a crack about manufactured conflict, and he’s not wrong – but there you are. That’s a hell of a way to end your show about an ass-kicking counter-terrorist agent, with him being saved not by his wits but by someone else’s guilty conscience. And by a hell of a way, I mean lame.

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“So what did that Medsker fucker say about me this week? Man, I hate that guy.”


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24 8.22: On with the body count

There’s no other way to say it: the carnage from tonight’s episode of “24” had me positively giddy. Jack Bauer may have dispensed some Dirty Harry-style justice in the past, but this time around, he’s a Terminator. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, and he absolutely will not stop until you are dead. Jesus, I can still feel the small jabs that he hit that hit man with last week, but that shot of Novakovich’s suite littered with dead guys, with Novakovich himself taking a poker to the stomach…that was a thing of beauty. I have been waiting for years to see Jack do something like that. Way to give the people what they want, Fox. I love it when shows finally start acting like they have nothing to lose. Unfortunately, they usually only do this after they’ve lost everything.

Having said that, I’m still unhappy that Jack hasn’t thought to upload the incriminating video to the interwebs. On the plus side, Mr. Blonde still has a copy of it on his hard drive, and since the video is of Starbuck, and Buffy is the one that’s about to pay him a visit, it’s possible that Buffy will get one look at this video and want to blow the whistle whether Jack wishes it or not. Either way, it will be a huge missed opportunity if the world doesn’t see that clip.

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“Hello? Hey, Mr. Rafferty, how are you? Are the royalty checks still coming in?”


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24 8.21: The knife feels like justice

Tonight’s episode of “24” felt like a blast from the past. It was pretty lean in terms of storytelling, it contained a hellacious, if predictable, end-around, and ended with one of the most vicious torture scenes in the show’s history. Pity it had one major, major flaw.

I liked that Dominic was so busy trying to nail down Bauer down that he took no notice of Chloe and Merv the Perv conspiring behind his back. Even when he noticed Chloe giving him The Look (you know the one), he just tinted the windows and kept on scheming. Fool. Nobody puts Chloe in a corner. Still, you’d think Dominic would show a little more diplomacy when safeguarding high crimes committed by the White House. By yanking that file away from Arlo, he may as well have stamped “CORRUPT” on his forehead.

As Jack is setting up the meet with White She Devil, I’m thinking to myself, “There has to be a better way to do this.” Not in terms of getting her the evidence (more on that in a bit), but in terms of meeting out in the open like that. So as it’s going down and he shows up, I knew he’d have a plan, and sure enough, he did. He didn’t care about getting caught on camera – he knew the hit man who took out Crazy Jackie would be there, and could then settle two scores for the price of one. Get the intel, and make the motherfucker responsible for Jackie’s death squeal like a stuck pig before ultimately killing him. Re-enter Mr. Blonde, to get the drop on Dmitri Sharpshooter.

But I have another idea.

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“Let’s see, stab him, then the lighter fluid, then the blowtorch, then the pliers. No, pliers first, the crowd loves it when I open with that.”


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24 8.20: Put me down

Bledsoe: “You won’t take the shot, it’s too risky! I’ll kill her before you…”
Jack: *Blam*

Seriously, that was one of the best deaths in “24” history. Here was Toepick, trying to act all intimidating, when Jack was a mere five or six feet away. He may as well have had the gun on Toepick’s forehead. Heck, I’m pretty sure Jack has made that shot across a windy rooftop with a pea shooter in a previous season.

As Jack continues to thwart I.M. Weasel’s nefarious plans, Logan’s conversations with Allison remind me of a “Simpsons” episode – in full disclosure, it should be noted that pretty much everything reminds me of a “Simpsons” episode – where Apu is trying to get out of his arranged marriage to a family friend, and Homer suggests that he pretend that he’s married to Marge, and Bart and Lisa are his kids. When the plan continues to go wrong, Apu finally grows tired of Homer’s wacky schemes:

Apu: Is it me, or do all of your plans involve some horrible web of lies?
Homer: It’s you.

Logan is Homer. Allison is Apu. Only she’s still going along with Logan’s ridiculous suggestions, even though each one is riskier and more conspicuous than the last one. Again, the woman who sent her own daughter to prison is authorizing Logan to put his assistant (official “24” nickname: Dominic, from his “Dollhouse” days) in charge of the hunt for Jack at CTU. Because that doesn’t look at all suspicious that you’re putting someone in between Jack and Chloe. Yumpin’ yiminy.

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“Well, I say he does have to shoot me now! So shoot me now!”


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