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***And now, as requested, please welcome back one of our all time faves with Persons Unknown, COPYHACKER!!
So yeah, I’ve been AWOL from TVgasm ever since Heroes got the axe, wallowing in my misery. A lot has changed around the ‘gasm since January. Like for instance we have bios and all get paid now. Right? Just like you promised, Flipit? Flipit?
Well, at least there’s still the privilege of recapping another high-concept thriller that will either be brilliant (see:Fringe) or flame out brilliantly (see:Heroes). And since I’m also in Lost withdrawal, expect to get a lot of Lost comparisons thrown your way. It’s not that I’m going out of my way to look at them, it’s that they’re pretty stinking obvious. On to the action!
The opening shot of Golden Gate Bridge dissolves into a park where we see a mom hovering while her kid plays.
When did Hilary Swank join the cast of Parenthood?
An older white guy comes ominously into focus behind Hilary. Thanks for playing up the “old guys by themselves don’t belong at the park” thing, I appreciate that. Not that I’m that old. Or that I go to the park by myself. But I do feel the need to point to my kids every so often and get them to wave at me. Hilary’s little angel is actually decked out in an angel getup fashioned out of balloons.
AWKWARD EXPOSITION ALERT: Uncle McCreepy is a PI looking for Hilary’s deadbeat husband. Hils owes him money and he’s probably on the take from Hubs as well. Or he’s just there to distract Hils while someone snatches her daughter. Yeah, probably that, because the little angel is suddenly missing. Panicky Hils falls for the oldest trick in the book, and chases after a pair of angel wings disappearing around the corner. A not-so-helpful security camera watches as Hils is chloroformed and dragged off to Parts Unknown. In case you aren’t emotionally engaged yet (not me), here comes the clincher: Hils’ little angel wanders around the park calling for her mommy.
Sorry, still not emotionally engaged. And my two kids and SUV place me right smack in the middle of their target demo. Nice try though, guys.
Snap judgment: Did I say Lost-alike? The cold open makes it seem more like an episode of Cold Case. Let’s watch a little more. After the break, we see…
Lost-alike it is.
Hils and her eye are locked in a Barton Fink-esque hotel room complete with another security camera. After a less-than-fruitful conversation with the camera, she smashes a drawer using her Panicky Mom Super Strength, tosses the Bible aside, and digs out a nail to pick the lock with. People in movies and TV are born with two skills: hotwiring cars and picking locks. The chloroform has apparently dulled her burglar fu, though, because she gives up and screams “What do you want from me?” Hey, it worked for John Locke. And then the light in the hatch comes on.
Well, close. Someone else breaks down the door from the outside. It’s an extra from Prison Break. You know, generic action-show-douchebag sort, long-sleeve T under short-sleeve T for a dash of that regular-Joe accessibility. Probably rocking a pair of boxer briefs. Hey, his name is Joe, even. Or so he says. And he’s not One Of Them.
At least he didn’t call himself Henry Gale.
He says he woke up 5 minutes ago and found a key in the Bible in his room. He asks Hils if she owes anyone money. She owes Detective McCreepy $1100, which hardly seems worth the trouble. Maybe Hubs had her kidnapped? This guy seems to know an awful lot for just waking up. Maybe he’s seen these movies before. What was the one from a few years ago with random people stuck in a hotel? Anyone? He’s looking for a connection, but since he was kidnapped from New York and she from San Francisco, there’s not much to go on. I’m sure they’ll explain it all in flashbacks before too much longer. He picks a splinter out of Hils’ hand. (Lost Playbook #8: Kate Stitches Up Jack, with the gender roles reversed.) “Suck on it,” he says after showing off his splinter-removing abilities. LOL.
You’ll need that skill later.
What really sucks here is the dialogue. Maybe the writers were going for realistic, but these two sound like a couple of preschoolers.
“I’m gonna go find them.”
“What if the bad man comes back?”
“Don’t let him touch your special place.”
They play One Potato Two Potato and Joe wins, so they go out in the hall to knock on doors. Someone knocks back and Joe tells them about key in the Bible. Maybe he could’ve done the same for Hilary instead of just breaking her door down? Nah. The door opens. It’s… Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!
Let my Cameronnn goooooo.
He calls himself Charlie (Lost Ripoff #12), but Alan Ruck will always be Cameron to me. The beard changes nothing. Sorry.
They find two more captives, a mousy-looking woman in a bathrobe and an Army grunt who grabs Joe in a chokehold. Joe, who definitely knows too much, knows just what to say. “Easy soldier! We’re all hostages here, but if we stick together we can kill all those ragheads!” (It’s OK, I can use the R word because I live in South Carolina and our politicians use it all the time.) So far, Joe is douchey enough to fit right into the SC political scene.
The next to wake up is the token party chick, who drank waaaaay too much last night. Hey Shannon! Your Big Red scene with Sayid in the Lost finale was my fave!
Guessing Joe has done this move before.
Then for no apparent reason we get a nice lingering closeup of each character–and the ever-present security camera that I’m guessing will pretty much be its own character. Must be break time again.
After commercial, the grunt is pulling on the exit door. “It’s no use! It’s magnetically sealed!” says Joe. If this sounds like fancy Star Wars technology, it should, because the line is straight out of Star Wars. Remember when they fell into the garbage compactor? But it’s just one of those big magnets bolted on top of the door. Cameron starts to panic, because his wife has emotional problems and he needs to get out to help her. The solution comes from–who else–Joe the Douche, who wants to set off the smoke detector, because the door should open automagically then. Right? Only one problem, MacGruber: no matches. So he goes to get some wood from the door he broke down. Ah, now that part makes sense. Is he…? Yep, sure enough, he’s going to play boy scout and start a fire by rubbing two sticks together.
Hope you don’t need THAT skill later.
Meanwhile in San Francisco…
Suddenly I feel like some Rice-A-Roni. Seriously? Worst stock shot of all time. Of all time!
We go to a newsroom. You can tell by the bad fluorescent lights and worse desks. Also by the shaggy-haired dimply guy in vest and glasses.
But Clark Kent never needed this much hair product.
His editor starts bugging him for a story on a transvestite hooker. Are transvestite hookers really news in San Francisco? Shaggy Clark Kent doesn’t think so, because he’s more interested in a story he pulled off the police blotter; namely, one Hilary Swank lookalike who vanished from a park. He even scored the security cam footage. Sloppy work there, kidnappers. ALWAYS get the security tapes. He wants to follow up on the story, but the editor wants her transvestite first. Yes, in fact, that’s what she said.
Back at Hotel California, Cameron asks the mousy chick what she’s worth. He’s some sort of banker, so everything’s about money. She’s some sort of counselor, so nothing is about money. The grunt says the Corps doesn’t pay much. And for all you Marines reading this recap (ha), I apologize for saying he was Army a couple pages back. I know you guys hate that. Moving on. Everyone gets suspicious of Joe, who clams up. Then comes the inevitable “how do we know one of us isn’t the bad guy?” talk, but that’s boring and predictable, so let’s just move on again. Joe gets his fire going, against all odds, and the smoke alarm does not go off… but. The elevator starts moving to their floor. When the door opens, inside is… nothing. So of course they all get in like sheep. Down in the empty lobby, a muzak version of “Beautiful Dreamer” is playing. Oh, now I get it! It’s all a dream! “A hotel,” someone says. Wasn’t that obvious already? The door’s unlocked, so they go out onto… an empty street in a small town. Did I say Lost-alike? Now this is starting to look like the recently-poorly-remade series The Prisoner. Backwoods Edition.
Run faster, I hear banjo music.
Hils finds a pay phone, which doesn’t work because they only exist in movies and TV anymore. Someone else spots a police station, which is empty. Well, almost empty.
You guys get your video over AT&T too? I feel your pain.
Joe suggests they just start walking down the road until they find help. Party girl sees a gun rack on the wall. Is that really necessary in a police station? Aren’t they all armed anyway? Doesn’t matter, because it’s been broken into and the gun is missing. Wonder who took it?
Squeal like a pig!
The guy in the suit does his best to bring the suspense, but he’s no match for one Marine, one D-bag and one fired-up Cameron. Using some awesome ninja hand signals, they grab the shotgun and find out that he’s a car salesman, which explains the cheap suit. He woke up earlier in the hotel, same as them. But back to the important stuff: Joe’s hitting the road, who’s coming with him? Do we really have to ask? It’s Hils, of course. Are we ever going to get her name? The Marine, using excessive military jargon, SIR, advises extreme caution, SIR, which Joe blows off, of course.
Now that she’s got him alone, Hils asks Joe if he was in the military because of all the super-cool skills he has. He deflects her questions by asking her name. It’s Janet. FINALLY! I can stop watching now! Oh, all right, just a few more minutes. They get to the end of the paved street until Joe just keels over in the middle of the street. Which reminds me of how much I miss House. People are always falling over out of the blue on that show. Janet falls right on top of him and the rest of the gang runs out to help. Sir Yes Sir picks up Janet and then he, too, hits the deck. Everyone else hides.
Green light! RED LIGHT! And no, Simon didn’t say leave.
Meanwhile, back in civilization, our Friendly Neighborhood Shaggy Ace Reporter has tracked down Janet’s mom, who has no clue where Janet is or what she’s doing.
Or why she’s so stingy with her coffee.
Seems she beat little Janet with a hairbrush once and, well, things just haven’t been the same since. Janet’s little angel comes tripping down the stairs with a doll. Grandma even calls her angel–and says there’s a silver lining because now she gets to be the parent that Janet said she never was. While trying her best to look innocent, suspicious and completely insane all at the same time. Nope, nothing to hide here. And hey, lookie, there’s even a camera in her living room!
More bars in more places.
Back at the hotel, Cameron and everyone’s new buddy Bob the Salesman come busting in from a scouting trip to report that the general store is empty.
And Cameron just downed the last of the vodka.
I guess someone needed some sundries. Suddenly! A van drives by. Who is it? “It could be someone driving by,” Cameron says, very helpfully. About 25 people hop out of the van, carrying their three formerly-passed-out comrades. One guy gives them their shotgun back while speaking Asianese. How… random. The van people disappear into a building across the street. Joe and Janet and the Marine just woke up, they have no clue what’s going on. Suddenly the counselor (Moira, I think her name is) tells them to undress. How… randomer. She’s looking for needle marks to see if they were drugged or whatever. She finds a welt on the back of Joe’s thigh. This is starting to resemble a David Lynch movie. The bad parts.
Well, at least my prediction of Joe’s underwear preference was dead on.
Everyone has a welt of their own. My dog has one. It’s probably a microchip, right? No, Moira says they’re “biometric implants”. They have drugs in them, and when you go past a certain spot, they release a tranquilizer so you take a little nap before you can get too far. Before she has to explain how she knows all this (it’s probably all the rage among the high school kids she counsels), a tuxedoed Asian guy comes out of the restaurant next door and invites them all in for dinner.
If this was really a Lynch movie, he’d be 2 feet tall and wearing a cowboy hat.
Cameron and Salesbob (who gave him the gun back, anyway?) barge in waving the gun and demanding answers. Cooler heads prevail, though, and Joe herds them all to a table for dinner. No one trusts the food except Sir Yes Sir. “It’s the best damn Chinese food I ever had. I could eat it every day.” Oh, you will. You will. So everyone chows down and Janet, who realizes it’s been a whole 20 minutes since she thought about her daughter, takes the opportunity to fret and have Joe console her. Hey, um, who wants fortune cookies? They spin the lazy susan to see who gets which cookie. Apparently this is a tradition I haven’t heard of. So here are the fortunes:
Cameron: “Your wife is waiting for you.”
Joe: “Your judgment is a little off at this point.”
Party girl: “You will soon win some high prize or award.”
Salesbob: “By helping someone else, you will help yourself.”
Marine: his is in Chinese. LOL.
Counselor Moira pulls hers back out out of her bathrobe pocket where she stashed it. Along with what looks like a wrist-tag from a hospital or somesuch. Mental hospital, maybe. Her fortune is just numbers, she says. Not the numbers again. I am OUT of here.
Janet says hers is an Irish blessing. “An Irish fortune cookie?” asks Joe. From O’Chang’s, maybe. But hey, it’s getting late, so time to head back to the hotel for Z’s. They’re greeted in the lobby by… a night manager, who says he started last night so he wasn’t around when they “checked in”. He opens up the guest book and all their names are written in there. Cameron goes a little nuts and he and Salesbob threaten the guy to ask what the deal is. He woke up in town just like the rest of them. “That didn’t seem funny to you?” “I’m used to it by now.”
Janet sneaks off alone and looks at her fortune again. It does NOT, in fact, have an Irish blessing on it.
There’s a sale at Penney’s!
Long drawn-out closeup on Janet’s face, then the camera pulls back waaaaaay away from the hotel, out of town, Dark City-style. The town’s just one tiny block but at least they aren’t floating on a big rock out in space. (Sorry if I spoiled Dark City for you. It’s awesome. Go watch it anyway.)
So: yea or nay? Just another Lost wannabe, or does it have potential? I was ready to write it off, until I looked it up on IMDB and found out the creator was the writer of The Usual Suspects, which is one of my favorite movies EVAR. So I guess I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. For now. Everything else is on summer hiatus, what else have I got to do?