Monday, March 16, 2009

Gossip Girl Returns With a Whimper as Jack Goes on the Run

It's been a month and a half since the last new Gossip Girl. While that's got nothing on the 8 months we go through between seasons of Lost, that's still a pretty sizable midseason break. The kind of break that you come back from wondering whether you still care about what's going on. And this week at least, that answer was a resounding no.

When was the last time that every single one of the storylines fell completely flat? Well, ok, don't answer that, I remember the Jenny the Designer episodes too. But let's go through all of this week's stories anyway, shall we?

1. Dan and Teenage Teacher.
During the break, I had thought she had already left the show. No such luck. Instead we get the non-surprise that she's been sending things into Gossip Girl, not that it makes any sense. Why would Dan tell her about Blair and the British dude? And why did she target Serena if her vendetta was against Blair? Whatever, at least she's gone.

2. Chuck and the Sex Club
This storyline had an impressive trifecta of being lame, preposterous, and finding a woman Chuck had no chemistry with. Add to that the return of minor season 1 character Carter for no other reason than to make googly eyes at real-life girlfriend Blair, and you've got some serious filler.

3. Nate and Vanessa
This storyline involved Nate and Vanessa, so there was no way it was going to be good. No surprises on that front.

4. Serena and Theater Man
Congratulations Gossip Girl. You made Aaron look interesting.

5. The play
Ok, I kind of liked the connections between all the characters and their roles, and Nelly Yuki in a fat suit. But since the play's breakdown involved Nate, it brought in Theater Man, and nothing about it made much sense (a real theater director would do a high school show....even though the cast was non-actors required to do the play....and a NYT critic would go there), this goes down too.

On the plus side, Gossip Girl storylines only ever last for 3 episodes max (because the writers have the attention span of a goldfish), so we're on to something completely different next week. Let's hope it's more interesting.

24's last few episodes may have been just as silly as Gossip Girl, but at least it's been a hell of a lot more entertaining. The White House invasion seems a clear parallel to the season 5 CTU poison gas arc. Both came at the 2-hour midseason episode mark, both involved a heroic sacrifice, and both killed off a long-running character in a less-than-ideal way (Buchanan's death was way better than Tony's, but it still wasn't as big as past sacrificial deaths). These episodes don't hold up to 24's best season, but they were still the kind of big action arc you come to 24 looking for.

On to this week's episode, which saw Jack yet again on the run from, you know, everyone. This may happen every season (perhaps even every episode), but 24 needs Jack to be working on the outside, getting the job done while ducking the authorities. Part of the fun is watching Jack form the Jack Bauer Club - the select group of friends and colleagues allowed to know the secret threat and help him thwart it. That second body in the presumed body count just rackets up the suspense.

Speaking of the late senator, 24 finally made him into a real character tonight. Previously he had been the token liberal straw man, meant to show how stupid and naive and terrorist-loving we all are (like the NAACP rep from season 4). But tonight he listened to Jack, helped him, and even called him son (tear). Not only that, but the writers actually let him make a real argument against torture, instead of just saying filler for Jack to tear down.

Which is why he had to die. Any plan that could potentially work out Jack's problems wasn't gonna fly. And with the assassin now dead as well, Jack's got even less to clear him. So who's joining the Jack Bauer Club? First up, Tony, who's back from his multi-episode vacation to, judging by the promos, do a lot of shooting. Then there's Freckles, but she's already become the victim of Janis' terrible spying and Moss' comically unnecessary surprise capture. That still leaves Chloe and Morris, but that assumes they stop bickering long enough to be useful.

With Jon Voight's creepy new baddy, the President's totally evil daughter, and a whole new threat to unravel, 24 part 2 should have enough juice to last, oh, at least a few episodes. And then I'm sure the writers will be off to something even crazier.


Elizabeth said...

it was just an excuse to get NIKKI STEVENS on gossip girl. they could have used her better. still fun though.

Zander said...

Um....who's Nikki Stevens? Were there even any major female guest stars in that episode?

Elizabeth said...

from the l word. that was the girl who had no chemistry with chuck.