24. The first seven episodes of season seven and the movie Redemption, all filmed before the writer's strike, were kind of awful -- like the worst season of 24 ever. But the break obviously cleared everyone's heads because after those seven episodes the rest, (written a year later?) have been equal to the heights of season 7. It's all a simple formula, each season essentially a remake of the first, but the back third of season seven and season 5 are to my mind the best. John Voight is one of the best villains, with even more comic book-y impish charm than Dennis Hopper in season one -- at one point, when he realizes his agent Quinn will face off against Jack he says "Quinn's Good. But Jack's good too." You have to think most actors would have read the line as if they were worried about the outcome but Voight plays it like a guy who just likes to see a good fight and anticipates that this one will be interesting whatever the outcome. The most recent episode has the US military facing off against Voight's private army of 1500 mercenaries armed with WMDs and Jack, on the sidelines, dying from a chemical weapon. Surely Jack will get better (24 season 8, the last, has already been announced) but right now this show is at the top of it's game. The most recent episode also typified what 24 does best -- stall for one hour at a time, here with a fake out where an employee seems like he is leading the army to the place where the weapon is, but is merely stalling for time, just as the show's producers need him to.
LOST. My friend Jill already sent me an email about the most recent episode and I agreed with her 100% -- the conversation between Hurley and Miles was a lot of fun, and the bit and the end where Ben, taken by the Others, will not remember anything solves a problem that does not need solving. I liked better the idea that he DID remember them, just never said anything. Maybe the next episode -- an amazing looking Ben flashback that should have lots of mythology -- will clear that up but like the ending of the last episode this was a bit of a cop out. As for the Kate story -- the actress has said that she does not really like or understand the mythology stuff and so the writers seem to keep her far away from the pulpy stuff Locke and Ben are better about -- here they avoid TWICE her having to relate the weird goings on on the island to Cassidy and Claire's mom with a well timed commercial break. Still the episode hit some very good emotional beats and provided a good explanation why she would be motivated to return -- not just with the "find Clare" thing but also why she realizes she needs to. Jack's refusal to help was also good -- it allowed the writers of the show to take his character somewhere and also not repeat themselves with Jack saving Ben again. What's left for this season: A Ben flashback, what happened to Daniel, the big purge, Sun finding everyone? Only six episodes to go this season.
Kings -- the recent episode of Kings was pretty good as well, though again, this show is totally doomed. It was a pretty typical soap opera but it did include an interesting defense of the monarchy as something for people to believe in, a kind of show they NEED, and had a great sequence where Silas hits a deer and makes a hard sacrifice to say in God's favor.
Seaguy -- I like Seaguy OK. I liked the last series as well but of Morrison's stuff this was never my favorite. It is a great series, but something about it leaves me a little cold. Jog makes a great argument that the previous Seaguy was motivated by Morrison's despair over his New X-Men run -- his inability to make lasting changes for example, and the idea that there are forces keeping superheroes (Morrison's metaphor for the Blakean Imagination) in check, to keep them from being as imaginatively revolutionary as they should be. With Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew in Final Crisis 7 however and the success of All Star Superman it feels like Morrison kinda won -- comics have made major strides to embrace the crazy kooky past they spent the post Watchmen years being kind of ashamed of. This was the argument he was floating in Animal Man, and Flex Mentallo, and JLA and New X-Men and the Invisibles, Seven Soldiers and so on -- including Batman where he put him in that insane outfit. I mean obviously there are a lot of crummy comics out there but I am not sure a new iteration of his old argument is really going to do anything about it. And Morrison seemed like he was not going to need to anymore the way he sort of has his own Micro-Universe of Morrisonia like Solaris and the Golden Superman in his All Star Superman run. I am curious to see what his return to Seaguy is motivated by. I kind of feel like it is time for a Phase 2 Morrison now and I am not sure what on earth that should look like -- except I feel like he has gone awfully far in his main direction, and it needs to be something ELSE, or at least a kind of half twist on the kinds of stories he has been telling. Or maybe I have my Phase 2 Morrison in works like WE3 and All Star Superman, works that are much more subtle about their agenda, works that put story first, message second (or maybe works that make sure the story is fully functioning on its own before the message gets there) -- and I want more of that, instead of more commentary on the genre, and how the imagination need to be released from the shackles of a dictatorship that only wants to twist it to dull ends. It's the same argument Moore makes in Promethea and the most recent League, and it is pretty much the same argument Blake spent all his time on. That said -- a lot of writers have sort of one theme they keep approaching in different ways over and over -- maybe, as a person who has almost everything he has done, I have just sort of had my fill. Beckett is a genius, but I got to a point reading Beckett where I needed to move on too. (I read way too much Beckett my sophomore year of college).