Thursday, May 26, 2005

TV: Season ends with some bangs, some whimpers

I've been so busy watching season finales that I haven't had time to do much writing the past week or so. Here's a précis. Beware: Might be a spoiler or two.

CSI, "Grave Danger": The show's needlessly gory, humorless fourth season ended in a gratuitously gruesome two-hour episode written by people who apparently have no direct, personal experience with fire ants. This episode easily could've been done in 90 minutes, rather than two hours, if celebrity director Quentin Tarantino had been willing to do without the myriad reaction stares that went on forever and served no purpose. Grade: C

Cold Case, "The Woods": The season-ender was a sequel to a chilling episode about a serial killer who selects his victims from females he knows will fight back, then hunts them relentlessly through a forest. Secrets about what motivates both Lily and the killer are revealed, but when they are, the ending becomes predictable and ultimately lacks suspense. George was much creepier the first time around, before decoding his past slightly humanized him. Grade: B

24, "5-7 am": After a season primarily characterized by rehashing old ideas, the adrenaline level finally got ramped up at the end. There's more excitement in these two hours than the 22 previous, and it ends in a real shocker of a plot twist. It'll be fascinating to see what world-in-peril situation will pull Jack Bauer back out of hiding. If I were writing this series, it'd involve a public revelation of exactly how much a lying weasel President Logan is. Grade: A

Without a Trace, "Endgame": Moral ambiguities about oppression and dirty wars in Africa drive this tense episode that ends in a heart-stopping cliffhanger. This series doesn't get enough respect. On the other hand, I'd vote to outlaw forever "Endgame" as a title for television episodes. Grade: A

Alias, "Before the Flood": Up until the last 10 seconds, which actually made me gasp out loud, this episode was pretty standard stuff. The Bristow family and various hangers-on save the world while escaping from a bunch of people who have essentially been turned into crazed zombies. Well, it's standard for Alias, right? The writers need to stop leaning on the crutch Rambaldi devices have become and come up with a new idea. Grade: B-

Lost, "Exodus, Part II": Unfortunately the only review I can write about this one goes like this: "Dear Time Warner Cable: Because your service went dead at about 7:30 pm last night, I was only able to see the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of one of the most important episodes on television this year. You suck, and I am looking up the number for DirecTV."

I knew there was a reason I used to boycott all AOL Time Warner products. Perhaps it's time to renew that vow…


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