24

Editor’s Note: After more than a year, Merrill Barr will be leaving the Reject Family and moving on to bigger and better things. We wish him all the best. And now the series finale of Channel Guide… Finale. A dangerous word in the world of television. Dangerous because it comes with a hefty amount of baggage for those working on a show that ‘s coming to an end. Everything a series has been working towards, whether serialized or episodic, has to be fulfilled in the finale. And somehow, the writers have the terrible job of making everyone feel like the journey was worth it. When broken down, there’s really only two things necessary in order to deliver on a good series finale, stability and closure. Stability refers to where the characters end up. Whether its happily ever after, in the grave, in the after life or on the run, the audience needs to know that however we leave the characters is how they will remain for the remainder of their fictional days. This isn’t to say that the audience needs to know every single detail, but a general idea needs to be available (or at least the tools necessary to draw a conclusion).

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Over the last month, many critics and even its creators have been citing Showtime’s new series Homeland as the first “post-post-9/11 program” as it deals with the issue of what to do now that the biggest threats of the last decade have been eliminated. It’s hard to say if that’s truly the case, but for now it would be fair to say that Homeland is the first legit espionage show to appear on the small screen in years. Legitimate in that this is a very realistic portrayal of what the word ‘espionage’ means. Webster defines it as “the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company.” It doesn’t make mention of aggressive tactical operations, shootouts, explosions, fist fights or kick boxing matches. The verbal form of spying, no matter the definition one uses, refers to the basic act of observing, not fighting. So much of what’s portrayed in television and film of the spy world is focused on offensive measures, often times meant to be interpreted as defensive counter-measures. But, in Homeland that concept is reversed, and to great effectiveness. Rarely do we get to see the truly defensive measures that are taken on U.S. soil and what our intelligence community’s response is when we are the foreign entity being infiltrated.

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Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, I wasn’t aware of Strike Back‘s existence until the week of the season 2 premiere… or rather the season 1 premiere on Cinemax here in the States. Before we get into the premiere, let’s go through some history. Strike Back is a show that was created by the Sky1 over in the UK. The show was well received both critically and commercially. Recently Cinemax has been in the process of putting, for the first time ever, original programs into production. The most high profile was/is the upcoming Transporter show based on the hit film series. But rather than wait for that show to premiere later this year, they decided to pull a Torchwood and help Sky1 finance Strike Back. So, now with Cinemax as a co-financier, we have Strike Back season 2, which is being passed as season 1 in the U.S. And that brings us to the question that we’re all wondering, is season 1/season 2 any good?

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There’s been a lot of talk the last few days regarding how critics (mostly on the TV side) should handle spoilers in an age where most people don’t keep up with their programming on a week to week basis, but rather save all their episodes for large clumps of viewing material at a time. The basics of both sides have been made clear, and for the most part, everyone pretty much agrees on the following: If you’re reading a review for a TV episode don’t bitch if there’s spoilers. If you’re reading a preview for a TV season, all past details are fair game. Journalists should do the best they can to not give away spoilers in things like tweets and headlines (I’m iffy on the tweets part of that statement, but I understand the point). If you’re following a show so intensely that you want to avoid all plot details then don’t read ANYTHING about it, at all. I’m not here to hound folks like Brian Moylan, David Chen and others for their take on the idea of spoilers. Both sides are right within their respective arguments. But there’s another side to this story, a side that no one has brought up, and it’s one that’s arguably more volatile than that of potential spoilers from the likes of critics. It’s the side pertaining to the regular viewer.

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Yesterday NBC released it’s fall schedule for the 2011-2012 season. Well today FOX has followed suit. The schedule confirms things we heard last week but does offer one interesting bit of news: Saturday regular America’s Most Wanted is going be whittled down to a four-times-per-year special rather than a weekly program. There are a lot of changes that could have been made, but I think I speak for everyone when I say “Saturday ratings still matter?” In programming news, highly anticipates sci-fi series Terra Nova has been revealed to be taking over the House M.D. 8pm time slot on Monday and House will be moved to 9pm. This is in response to the high four-quadrant numbers FOX saw from the test screenings of the pilot. In mid-season House will be moved back to 8pm and J.J. Abrams’ Alcatraz will take over the 9pm slot.

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The year 2010 may have ended, but the cycle of movie news keeps on a-cyclin’. Most of the news this time of year has something to do with a list — the best, the worst and the otherwise notable performances, directorial efforts and nude scenes, just to name a few. Everyone wants to have their say and we at FSR may be the worst among them with our Year in Review. So you’ll have to excuse me if my innagural edition of Movie News After Dark, the movie news column you can read while mostly asleep, is full of other people’s “best of” lists. There are also some worthy surprises, I assure you…

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Before the days of LOST, 24, Battlestar Galactica, It’s Always Sunny and Mad Men, there was one thing everyone could agree on. The cop was king. Dragnet, JAG, Magnum, P.I., Miami Vice. These are shows that defined their generations and set the bar of quality programming. Maybe it was the fact that the characters were witty jerks who just can’t get enough out of pissing each other off. Maybe it was the fact that characters in the genre were always in search of that one defining moment in their lives. Maybe it was just the eternal battle between good versus evil. Whatever it was, cop shows held a special place in many people’s hearts. With the exception of a select few, the genre as a whole went down hill in the last two decades, but after seeing what the last two years had to offer, I think that the once beloved genre is getting ready for a second coming.

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This weekend marked the ceremony for the 2010 Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards. This ceremony handles all the minor and technical awards for the The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, with the Major Awards being announced next week at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The two big network winners of the night were HBO and ABC, both walking away with 17 and 15 awards respectively.

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Robert Fure takes aim at the use of handguns in film and puts his cross-hairs on 24, amongst others.

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Lost Cast

Like all of you, I have my own emotional and intellectual response to the Lost finale: its meaning, its significance, and whether or not it was satisfactory. But since Sunday the Interwebs have run the gamut of all possible responses to the show’s farewell night, so my response to Lost instead is a look at what its run may mean for the future of televisual storytelling.

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If everyone followed this advice, car chases would last mere seconds. Sure, that might be less exciting, but it’s also less rage inducing.

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Today we talk (photo)shop on the blatant retardation present in the “digital crime lab” and their ability to enhance any cell phone image.

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A cultural icon is about to bring his terrorist asskicking to a theater near you.

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Robert Fure is watching you, always. From ATM cameras to aerial drones to store display cameras. He’s videotaping it all and ready to use it in his war against crime. Or not, because in the real world, cameras aren’t as common as oxygen molecules.

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The season premiere of Day 8 of Fox’s 24 combines assassination attempts at the U.N. with fabulous hair on Middle East leaders.

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In the last ten years, practices of storytelling and spectatorship in television have changed drastically, and, most likely, for good.

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With the day winding down, Tony finds away to re-constitute the virus using the toxins in Jack’s blood; Olivia Taylor has to fess up to what she’s done; Kim Bauer is still being held captive at the airport.

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Tony puts Jibraan on a train with the canister set to blow up; Olivia has to deal with the repercussions of Hodges’ death while Aaron Pierce gets suspicious.

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Jack has to tell Chloe about his infection; Tony stages a bin Laden-esque message for his captive Muslim; Olivia Taylor gets involved with a shady man, asking him to do an equally shady thing; Henry Taylor gets transferred from the hospital to the White House.

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Tony contacts “The Group,” a collection of people who have to decide what to do with the final gas canister; Jack gets the FBI to reinstate the CTU server and needs Chloe to run it; Hodges having survived the suicide attempt may actually play into President Taylor’s favor.

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