TV Time: Heroes, Lost, 24 and more

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The superhero drama -- by using Lost's well-developed flashback formula -- richly developed the Mr. Bennet/Horn-Rimmed Glasses character and revealed plot secrets in one swoop. We saw HRG, already one of TV's most compelling characters, for what he is: a very real, very conflicted human being. He's "comfortable with morally grey," and he shot his partner and friend because he was doing what he always does: "what I'm told." But he also protected his beloved Claire from his own company, sacrificing his own safety in the process. He's bitterly torn between his love for his family and his duty to his job.

Meanwhile, through the HRG flashbacks, we found out invisible Claude used to work for HRG's company and that Hiro's father is involved as well. And the show provided more information about the mysterious character known only as "The Haitian." It was all juicy as hell, and the special effects sequence with Claire and Nuclear Ted was, for a TV show, pretty great. But the emotional final scene is what boosted this episode over the top. Watching Bennet tear up as he said goodbye to his daughter and had the Haitian wipe Claire's escape from his memory was heartbreaking TV. More than any drama right now, I can't wait for the next episode of Heroes.

Thoughts on Lost, 24, The Office and more after the jump:

The 24 people just don't seem to be trying this year. I appreciate all the family background stuff about Jack, but few if any of the other subplots are compelling because they haven't made me care about these characters. Nothing dramatic is going on at CTU; all we get is alcoholic Morris distracting Chloe. The racial profiling storyline with Nadia seems to have fizzled out. The villains are caricatures. Tom Lennox, though proving to be one of this season's few rich characters, is stuck in a campy prison cell of sorts in a White House electrical room.

Most importantly, three nuclear bombs could be going off, and yet the drama couldn't be less intense. Speaking of which, one nuke did go off, and they haven't shown any real consequences for it. Jack better be forced to go into the nuclear zone or something; they can't just ignore the fallout.

I keep waiting for my former favorite show to get awesome and trusting that such developments are coming -- they did in the relatively lackluster Season 4 -- but watching Heroes on Monday and watching 24 online is becoming more and more appealing. I'm not willing to write this season off just yet, but they had better give viewers some intensity soon.

Lost is not quite as frustrating, but maybe that's because I'm one of the few who trust the producers when they say they've had an overarching plan from the beginning. I thought the complainers would quiet themselves after two stellar episodes back from the hiatus, but the last two weeks have brought all the moaning and groaning back at full force.

Last week it was legitimate; that was one of the worst episodes ever. Jack's tattoo flashback was practically worthless. While we got some minor plot development -- Jack's alliance with Juliet -- and character development -- Kate and Sawyer's squabbling -- whatever positives were marred by that awful flashback and the utter cheesiness of the American Tale-style finish.

Then this weeks' Hurley episode lightened the mood and rekindled the spirit of Season 1. For at least one week (and hopefully for the forseeable future), it was back to an ensemble show. I didn't understand all the calls for a return to the beach, but now I get it. The show's strength has never been in its winding mythology -- it's in the characters' interactions with each other. That made this week's bus romp, while essentially filler in terms of plot development -- a highly enjoyable palette cleanser. And it's not as if learning more about Hurley's background was a complete waste of time.

I am, however, quite psyched for next week's (hopefully) action-packed Sayid episode.

We found out: Jan is crazy. Roy is crazy. Karen is cooler than many people give her credit for. And Jim doesn't like pranks so much when they're played on him.

Jan's episode-long meltdown was my favorite aspect of the show. Her line about "dating Michael Scott publicly and collapsing on (herself) like a dying star" was classic, as was her inadvertent "That's what she said." She's so confused about what she wants and what she needs, and the more vulnerable she gets, the more of her insanity comes out. The final scene in the car with Michael, when she melted and apologized after he expressed his desire for "The house, the picket fence, the ketchup fights..." was one of the best of the season. The way she shifted from disgust to empathy, the way Michael was simultaneously hilarious and touching, the way Dwight cut the tension by appearing from the back seat -- it was magical.

Meanwhile, it's great that Roy and Pam are done, and I'm terrified for Jim now that Roy knows he came on to Pam. I'm stunned that this show remains so good!

The Office's Thursday night foil, 30 Rock, has become nearly as formidable. Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski and especially Alec Baldwin have developed their characters ably, but what's lifted the comedy to a new level is the retooling of Tracy Morgan's "black comedian" stereotype. In the first few episodes, Tracy Jordan was overbearing and grating, a pale portrayal of a Martin Lawrence-type character. Now he's more nuanced, playing the role of devil's advocate in a lot of intelligent humor about race relations. He's still outrageous, but he's been scaled back so that he's not so overkill. 30 Rock is always ridiculous -- sometimes too much so -- but it's really coming into its own. Watch this show next week before it goes on hiatus for a bit. I hope it won't be cancelled.

Speaking of which, Friday Night Lights remains the tragedy of the TV season. I can't believe more of you aren't watching this show, the most consistently excellent drama on TV week to week. I don't know what else I can say besides repeating the mantra FNL fans have been repeating all year: It's not really a show about football. It's a skillfully executed drama that touches on class, race, sex, disability, drugs, alcoholism, adultery and the pressure that comes with running a high school football team when it's the only game in town. And if you like football, there's that too. It's shot in a way that makes it resemble a reality show, but it's got the benefit of a script. Watch it. I beg of you.

Lastly, I want to give a shout-out to that OC finale. This season, after starting out so strong, got a little choppy again down the stretch, reminding fans why the show was doomed in the first place. But the final episode provided a fitting cap on the iconic series. The last few minutes were legitimately tingly, as they showed Ryan walking through the now-empty Cohen household, remembering his arrival four years ago, then flashed forward. I thought I would be against showing the future, but it was really satisfying in the context of a show like this to get a peak into how life unfolds. And watching the series come full circle in its final scene -- what can I say, I loved this show. I'm sad to see it go.