Does the end justify the means? It is an age old question haunting secret agents and covert operatives—at least the ones who take the time to think about it. Jack Bauer has thought about it and has tried to leave the life behind; unfortunately for him (but good for us) he will once again be dragged back in to service. This time for a new limited series 24: Live Another Day which will span 12 episodes beginning May 5th on FOX.

So, expect that debate to heat up again. As Wikipedia so succinctly put it “Bauer’s frequent use of torture to gather information has generated much controversy and discussion.” In the series look no further than the head-butting of 24’s Season 7: opening with the Senate Subcommittee hearing; mid-story with Senator Blaine Meyer; and closing with Renee Walker. And in the real world does the “ticking time bomb” scenario justify what Jack does; can we say 24 is just a TV show and the main character’s value judgements are not to be repeated by viewers or law enforcement who might find themselves in a somewhat “similar” situation?

Cut to the recent Super Bowl Sunday. Union Jack and explosions all around on a commercial break. I knew I was about to see a preview of 24’s Bauer since we last saw him on May 24, 2010. It was loud and tense. See for yourself

Plus here’s a little bonus of behind-the-scenes comments. The years don’t look like they’ve been happy ones for Chloe. And I hear she blames Jack. Just more to make it the longest hour of his life. Welcome back 24 and Jack Bauer.


The fact that one can still be surprised, means that life yet holds mysteries to be solved. Today’s multiple news blasts about NCIS New Orleans bode well for the program that I thought was going to be dead in the water at launch.

Creative CommonsScott Bakula (fondly remembered from Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise) has landed the role of NCIS Special Agent Pride (read the role as a guy with “warmth, passion, strength and humor.”)

CCH Pounder (strong performances on Sons of Anarchy and The Shield) will fill the shoes of the eccentric but smart Medical Examiner Dr. Wade.

Zoe McLellan (oddly recalled from JAG) as Special Agent Brody, a Midwesterner looking for a new home to hide or recover from something in her past.

I say oddly, as commenters while applauding the other two choices, delved into the irritation factor of having performers within the same “universe” playing different roles (remember, NCIS spawned off of JAG, and in fact a recent episode of NCIS featured a former JAG character).

The other oddity is we just lost an agent Brody on Homeland. Couldn’t they come up with another name?

One more cast member wanted: a former Louisiana Sheriff’s deputy named LaSalle. Read him as muscular, devilish, and charming.

Sounds a little like like Tony Dinozzo. They want a clone, but they won’t give him his own command.

Change Is Not Always Progress” – character Jeffrey Tetazoo, Head of the CIA

Waiting for Agents of Shield to develop the proper explosive mix of secret agent convoluted storyline with sci fi/fantasy/supers? Drop your backsides on the couch and watch Intelligence, the new CBS entry on Mondays at 10pm eastern time.

Intelligence courtesy CBSLead character is Gabriel Vaughn. He is a former military hero who happens to have the right stuff to benefit from an ultra-secret project. “Clockwork” connects him to the information superhighway directly through a chip implanted into his human brain. He is no cyborg. He is human.

Langley, Angel’s Bluff, 1600 — terms that swirl around the 4th episode and the turning point for me. The first three editions were standard fair, pretty much like AoS. But unlike Coulson and company, waiting has paid off. “Secrets of the Secret Service” was a fast paced, roller coaster ride with more than its share of covert misdirections, even to the last few minutes.

American journalists arrested as spies, being tortured in Syria. There is a rescue mission. There are collateral innocents on the ground. Delicate peace talks. And they even gave us a strong former president who played nicely into the story-line.

I don’t want to give too much away as you can still catch it on

Ratings started high but have since fallen. It’s up against The Blacklist and Castle. CBS should move it to another night; my choice Sunday after The Mentalist. Following a bunch of comedies on Monday is a deadly lead-in.

I will admit Intelligence was not on my watch list. Thought it was just the next coming of $6 Million Dollar Man. But there is something here. There is the tech. There is the action. There is character development. And there is the ambiguity of the layered thinking, parallel processing that cloaks the covert world. It is all laid out for you when the heads of the CIA, the U.S. Cyber Command and the Director of National Intelligence cross swords at the end of the episode with a warning never really voiced about bionic agents Steve Austin or Jaimie Sommers.

What Agents of Shield has failed to deliver, this program has— with Intelligence.

Frank, Frank, how many times have I told you that you cannot trust the system. I told you when you’re in the system, they switch the flip and you’re done. Man, satellites, cellphones, chips, net, the web, the dentist.” Marvin Boggs in RED

Laughable as Marvin’s rant about government intrusion might be to some people, he actually was conservative in his scope on the intruders. As Maxwell Smart might say “would you believe… hackers are using household appliances to spy on you?” No? Then you better check your TV, kitchen items, baby monitor, and believe it or not medical devices.

This intel just surfaced. SoshiTech – Social Media Technology ran a story “4 Household Appliances That Are Probably Spying on You Right Now” late last year. It detailed how to arm yourself with knowledge of which items in your home are most vulnerable. I know this sounds like The Machine gone horribly wrong on Person of Interest. But it is real.

Home HackWhat spies, real and imaginary, used to do to vet a government worker, the creepy guy on the next street can also do to you.

Author Tracey Thomson weaves a frightening revelation that declares you are not safe in your own home. And when that article is over, there is a list of equally scary related articles.

Read the article for full details, including how to protect yourself, but here is a brief look at danger zones in your home:

TV: Hackers could go through Internet connections of a certain brand of TV to access your user settings, change them, and collect personal data.

Appliances: Manufacturers now connect kitchen appliances to the Internet. Claim this helps troubleshoot problems without having to send out a technician. But a hacker can tap into usage schedules to know when you are not home.

Baby Monitor: A two-year-old girl’s baby monitor was hacked by a stranger. The monitor had been connected to the house wireless service. Someone watching your kid— the creepy factor at infinity plus infinity.

Medical Device: Electronic medical devices have internet connectivity so medical companies can monitor them from distant locations. Think insulin pump or pacemaker. Red Reddington on The Blacklist could kill people long distance. Except that it’s not a fictional plot line. It is real.

Precautions are warranted The old days when spying was usually reserved for stealing government secrets is gone. The individual is under attack from government scrutiny and malicious hackers.

Marvin’s rant doesn’t sound so funny now.

Passing on verifiable information when I can is my theme. That’s why I try to document references as often as possible. For example, the Super Bowl is coming up. This may be stretching it a bit, but… football is like espionage. Quarterback, under cover of false signals and fake hand-offs, passes information to a receiver. But there is a shadowing cornerback looking to intercept the info and get it back to home base.

Chicken Wings, FlickrAnyway, with football in mind I have some intel to pass on. Did you know that “1.25 billion wings will be devoured during the upcoming Super Bowl XLVIII? That is about 20 million more wings than were consumed last year during Super Bowl XLVII.” Those are the findings of the National Chicken Council’s 2014 Wing Report.

No lie. There is a National Chicken Council and a Wing Report. This is not misinformation. There is also a solid tie-in between football and chicken wings.

Again according to the NCC, in the 80s, “sports bars with multiple TVs and satellite dishes were becoming more and more common in America thanks to rapidly developing technology; and the most popular sporting event to watch with friends in bars is football. Wings were easily shareable and affordable, a great ‘group food’ to eat with other people, and are the perfect pairing with a pitcher of beer.”

The article has a number of other interesting statistics you’ll uncover as you read it.

This is not hearsay but documented facts: “This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of NCC from January 8-10, 2014 among 2,018 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,576 eat chicken wings. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”

Decimation of an entire village. Slaughter of a bunch of secret agents. And the only survivor being a blood-covered 0-8-4 anomaly. Fairly dark stuff for Agents of Shield. Looks like Marvel and ABC are gearing up in an attempt to kick butt against NCIS at CBS.

ABC photoWhat’s a “0-8-4” you ask? Something very powerful. Like Thor’s hammer. Like maybe a super being. And it could be our little Skye, a character that has been kicked around chat rooms and comments sections by fans charmed by her attitude or bored by her whining.

In fact the chatter is already steaming up. Is she an Asgardian? How about a Kree? Or perhaps more earthbound— Jessica Drew with that tainted, radioactive …. spider blood?

The butt-kicking Ziva David is gone from the 8pm Tuesday slot. Maybe the void can be filled by Melinda, the Cavalry and Skye, the super what’s-it.?

Psych plans to pysch you out tonight on USA Network. In a plan any espionage agent would envy, those pro bono, Sonny Bono commercials we’ve been fed over the past week are a slight distraction for a highly unusual episode or re-episode. Regular viewers will be hit with one big deja vu. Within a few minutes of “Cloudy … With a Chance of Improvement” you will fall back to 2006 episode called “Cloudy … With a Chance of Murder.”

PsychSeems the writer of the original episode, Andy Berman, felt a little restrained. So a word or two in the right ears and he gets the chance to rewrite the story. One main guest character returns but the rest of the guest roles are played by familiar faces. It is essentially the same episode and season environment, such as Lassiter neither likes nor trusts Shawn.

Berman told Zap-2-It “We were under a lot of restraints in our first season, with where the characters were and how much hijinks we could get into, how goofy the characters could get, and I think it suffered a little because of that,” says Berman. “We weren’t able to put a lot of the really, really goofy stuff in.”

Now they can.

But to keep this really covert and entertaining, the “bad guy” is not the same one as in 2006. The mystery is still there.

I recall a 1997 episode of Diagnosis Murder that did a follow-up on a 1973 Mannix case bringing back the same actors. That focused on the case 24 years later. This Psych episode is the schoolyard cry of “do over” and what better show to mess with your mind than Psych.

Eli DavidWhen Eli David was assassinated, my relationship with NCIS as a viewer terminated. He reminded me of people I’d known along the way. Only a marginal viewer, my ears & eyes perked up whenever Eli was on or mentioned. Nobody lives forever. Everyone is expendable. I know the company speech. But I liked the guy. So the loss of Ziva doesn’t force me to select sides in the pro and anti Ziva battle. I had already moved on.

Hopefully that answers the direct and veiled questions I’ve seen popping up every so often in retweets to me, or DM, or comments here, or in emails. What side am I on?

My own side is where I stand.

I will praise pro Ziva forces when they launch a marvelous campaign such as sending goldfish to CBS. I will admonish them if I see unfair comments directed to current— or even new— NCIS agents.

By the same token if the anti Ziva contingent comes up with a creative campaign I will publicize that. Just as I will challenge comments that are without foundation or validation.

Who am I to pass judgment? Just a guy in the shadows with no loyalties to either side.

I’ve already said my piece. Bringing Ziva back would be a public relations and programming coup for CBS— but only if she and Tony were spun off into an NCIS-NYC type venture. Everybody wins.

She doesn’t return to NCIS flagship which would please the anti-Zivas. She returns to a NCIS franchise to please the pro-Zivas. CBS can accounting-wise give her more money now as the co-star, rather than supporting cast member. And sponsors know the spin-off show hits the ground running with a built-in and fiercely loyal fan base.

But what do I know? Indeed, what do I know…. RIP Eli David.

Far from being dead, more like a displaced ghost, Ziva David haunts social media. Quite possibly thousands of words are spent like shell casings about her displacement from NCIS on Twitter every day. TIVA (Tony & Ziva) pictures flood Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and blogs. And then there are videos such as this one.

I held off on running the video until gauging initial reaction. I could see it favoring each side of the Ziva battle. Smedegaard3105, an 18 year old from Denmark, created it as an homage to Ziva. Most will see it that way, but not everyone….

One tweet: Beautiful transition/ I thought it showed a Ziva with no hope, one the antis would like to see.

Another responded: Oh, well, a matter of perspective I suppose. I thought it showed saying goodbye to the killer in her.

What do you think?

Apparently the Bitcoin is the WMD (worldwide monetary distribution) of TV characters who transact in the shadows, be they criminals or spies. There were at least two references (The Blacklist and Person of Interest) to Bitcoins on network TV this week. Of course neither was a positive reference.

And, oh one other point. Bitcoins are part of the real world.

It was also revealed on Friday that The US government now owns $28m in Bitcoins from the infamous Silk Road ecommerce site. These have remained unclaimed after their seizure last year.

According to ZDNet “The funds and the website were subject to a civil forfeiture action filed by prosecutors on September 30, and are alleged to have been used to facilitate money laundering.”

Interesting. Money laundering. Just like on Blacklist and POI… and four other series have mentioned Bitcoins according to : The Good Wife, Almost Human, Criminal Minds, and that techno trend setting TV series, The Simpsons.

With Bitcoins, you can be your own bank, goes the definition. Looks like TV writers are banking on Bitcoins to be a continuing profitable plot device.