Where’s The Remote?

They’re sisters and they like to laugh: Lisa and Joni of <i>Amazing Race</i>.

They’re sisters and they like to laugh: Lisa and Joni of Amazing Race.

THE BIG UNIT The hot tip this month was to check out CBS’s new show, The Unit, which premiered March 7. As the cast includes Dennis Haysbert (formerly President Palmer/24) and Robert Patrick (Agent Dogget/X-Files, T-1000/Terminator 2) it just had to be kick-ass, right? Also, it’s one of those rare action shows on TV not produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (45 series and films to his credit since 2000!). In fact, it is co-produced and written by film producer David Mamet (Wag the Dog, The Untouchables). But while this show has bombs, terrorists, hostage-situations and night skydiving from 35,000 feet, it’s mostly gratuitous macho terror-mongering, replete with Stepford Wives.

As newbie Ranger Bob Brown (Scott Foley) heads out to play with the big boys, his poor little pregnant wife (Audrey Marie Anderson) is left behind in the cloister of other wives who try to talk her out of having a mind of her own: trust “the husbands” to make everything right in the world. Yeesh! Gag! Barf!

Ranger Brown says after his first day on the job: “You get to shoot guns, jump out of planes and come home to your family. It’s perfect!” Another round of formula? I’m buyin’.

THE OL’ STANDBY On the other hand, FOX’s 24 (fifth season) makes good use of bombs, terrorists, hostage-situations and throws in bonus torture and WMDs—totally riveting! No Stepford Wives, but plenty of women at the helm inside CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit). Another rare non-Bruckheimer production, 24’s fast-pace, shifty camera angles and ticking clock are only part of what sucks the viewer into the show. The characters inspire actual emotions, for example frustrating President Logan is a weasly wuss with his Nixonian mug (I would love to smack him around!), and his calculating VP, Hal Gardener (Ray Wise) retains all the creepiness of his former role as Leland Palmer AKA Bob/Twin Peaks (aaiiiieeee, run away!). The re-appearance of Jack’s (Keifer Sutherland) daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) and the surprise demise of Edgar (Louis Lombardi) provided upset in familiar characters, balancing the testosterone without resorting to’50s stereotypes. Lap it up!

CRAZY LIKE A FOX CBS yanked its critically acclaimed Love Monkey last month after only three episodes. While I tried to like this show—I mean, it targeted my exact demographic—I couldn’t help but feel the whole time like it was too self-consciously trying to hook up with me, and I wasn’t feelin’ it. But as a result, I got used to checking out CBS on Tuesday nights, and that’s how I finally caught the two-hour opener of Amazing Race 9 (a Bruckheimer production). While most reality shows have worn out their welcome, this one packs a different punch. I’m already missing the members who were cut from the ensemble for coming in last in the first two episodes. So here’s to you, lifelong friends John & Scott, and sisters Lisa & Joni!