By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
24 asks a lot of us, or at least of our time, which is one reason why its ratings have never matched its reviews. Here’s what I suggest. Watch it on tape, skip the commercials, and thus shrink the running time to about 18 hours. Then fast-forward through the absurd child-abuse plot (where most of the information can be followed visually anyway, even at triple speed) and you‘re now down to about 14 hours. 14 is a damn good television show.
Another series demanding that we stay rooted to our couches for about as long as it takes the Earth to rotate on its axis is Taken, or Steven Spielberg Presents Taken, as they keep referring to it on the Sci-Fi Channel, though they don’t add “Unfortunately, Steven couldn‘t be bothered to direct it.”
Taken is a kind of anecdotal history of visitations from outer space over a half-century period in the U.S., starting in 1945, and covering several generations and clans. Eschewing the decadent coasts, the aliens -- small green creatures with big eyes, formidable intellects and probing, insectlike limbs -- prefer to hunt for prey in states like New Mexico and Texas, where the wooden houses stand in big, empty fields, the families sit down to formal dinners, and the hobo-laden freight trains go rolling by.
At the time of this writing, I’ve watched the first two two-hour episodes of this soapy, oddly enjoyable, 10-episode extravaganza, but have yet to make the decision to “commit” to the rest of it, which will be almost over by the time this column comes out anyway. With so many stories pleading for our attention, it‘s hard to find the time to deal with even the most basic nonfiction -- like filling out an expense form, for instance, or getting one’s teeth fixed, or just showering. Sometimes I‘m amazed the country isn’t populated solely by unwashed, bug-eyed story addicts muttering wildly about the season finale of The Sopranos, the latest developments on ER, and a nuclear bomb set to explode in Los Angeles some time during the next 24 (!) hours.
The highlight of my television week came during the European Champions League soccer match between footballing colossi AC Milan (owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) and Real Madrid, home to Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and other absurdly talented players. It was an important match played before a crowd of 80,000 wildly partisan Italians, and the home crowd got what it wanted -- a winning goal, and a beauty at that.
Milan‘s Rui Costa, a Portuguese midfielder who has the eyes and mannerisms of the young Al Pacino, split the Real Madrid defense with a 50-yard pass that was as good as any I can remember seeing. The ball eluded four defenders before arriving neatly on the foot of the onrushing Andrei Shevchenko, pride of the Ukraine, who swiftly dispatched it past the goalkeeper and, in the words of commentator Tommy Smith, whom some of you may remember from the World Cup, “put a bulge in the old onion bag” (i.e., the net) that had the crowd roaring and igniting so many smoke bombs the field was soon swathed in what looked like a thick London fog. It was a great moment, and thanks go to ESPN2 for showing it, and the rest of the match, live.
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