Four things that impressed, appalled or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:
1. She didn’t have a whole lot to do besides look suspiciously shifty-eyed, but Alfre Woodard’s presence in the Desperate Housewives finale did nothing so much as keep me interested in what the show has in store for her next year. Woodard’s made a career out of being the best and most unheralded performer in pretty much anything she’s in. And as much as I love some of the Housewives actresses, Alfre’s once again standing head and shoulders above the crowd. Can’t wait to find out what dead children/jewel thievery/witness protection program secret lies in her past.
2. Okay, so the fourth season of 24 has pretty much sucked ass. Apart from the meandering mid-season plotlines and cartoonishly elusive villains that tend to plague every season, season 4 has turned into How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Government-Sponsored Torture. Nothing says escapist adventure TV like being lectured on torture and how Sometimes It’s The Only Way! Maybe everything’s gone downhill since the delicious (and Emmy-worthy) Shoreh Aghdashloo has gone. But one of the breaths of fresh air in the season’s final hours was the return of Mia Kirshner as the oft-naked terrorist mercenary Mandy, last seen giving David Palmer the Handshake of Death in season 2. And, no, Mia didn’t really have much more of a plan than the rest of the bad guys, but in three hours she shot two innocent people and one CTU agent, got her neighbors blowed up in a car, and finagled a sweet-ass immunity agreement. See ya next year, Mia!
3. The best and brightest returning guest star of the season was the glorious Lena Olin, whose return came in the midst of a stellar Alias two-parter which also saw the returns of Isabella Rossellini and Angela Bassett (who has better guest stars than Alias? No-effing-body). Not surprisingly, Olin’s return was the most welcome, mostly because we thought she’d never be coming back. But return she did, and with her came that Bristow family dynamic that we all know and love – namely that they’re all mysterious, hot, and deadly. And this week they get to avert the apocalypse. Good luck to them with that.
4. Before we get to the Alias finale, though, we get the two-hour Lost finale. And if last week’s foreshadowing is any indication, some stuff is going to go down. Also, if last week’s foreshadowing is any indication, we’re going to be running into some of the other survivors of the plane crash. And we know this because Michelle Rodriguez was introduced in a flashback with Matthew Fox. And no way was Rodriguez brought in just for that throwaway scene. Will she be among the mythical “others” making a trail of black smoke towards Flaming Wreckage Beach? Can she manage to create some credible sexual tension with Fox's Jack? If she can, sit down and take notes, Evangeline Lilly. Most importantly, will she join the season 2 cast and bump yet another cast member into that Great Boone In The Sky?