Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Previously on 24

Okay, I know I'm a tad late but I was out of town and didn't get to the finale till just now. Vacations are a bitch!

I’ve seen every minute of every hour of every day of 24. I cheered when Kim was kidnapped for the ninth time. I wept when Edgar died (well, not wept but did feel sad for twelve seconds). I was shocked when they killed Jack’s wife. Angry when they didn’t kill Audrey. And now that this year’s day is over I think I can say with total assurance that it sucked. It was especially disappointing coming off of last season which was arguably its best.

Among Jack Bauer’s many death defying stunts you can now add jumping the shark.

For my money the season got off to a bad start when they nuked Valencia. Forget that Magic Mountain would be closed for the next 99 1/2 years, an event that cataclysmic was so jarring that the show stopped being escapist fun. And the reality is, were a nuclear bomb to explode in a populated area it would kill far more than 12,000 and cause the rest of the population to shit in their pants. There would be mass hysteria, a giant exodus out of LA, emergency and disaster units sent to the scene, and the President of the United States might not just move on to other things in an hour. It’s stretching believability to think Jack can get from downtown to the Mojave Desert in eleven minutes but this event was too big to just let slide on creative license.

As was accepting that the evil mastermind behind everything this year was Jack’s father. How convenient was that? Are we going to learn next year that his mom was Golda Meir?

Producers tried to delve into the characters’ personal lives and it didn’t work. Yeah, I guess Jack has father issues if daddy’s a Bond villain. Will Chloe have a reconciliation with her ex-husband? Since it was fairly impossible to understand what her ex, Morris was saying half the time anyway I have no idea. I’m not sure she does either.

Whenever they add a new woman character to the show that is hot you can bet she’ll be tortured. The minute I first saw Nadia (Marisol Nichols -- pictured right) I thought, round up the rednecks and drunk frat boys, there’s gonna be a whuppin’! And sure enough by hour seven, she was tied to a chair, squirming and pleading.

And so the geeks in the audience wouldn't feel cheated, there was the scene where Peter MacNichol got to sit in a van and watch as the VP’s assistant had sex with a Russian spy. A lot of chat rooms were empty for that five minute period.

The 24 story line always has that feeling they’re just making it up as they go along but no more so than this year. Whatever happened to the President’s sister’s boyfriend getting beaten up? Or those suitcase nukes? Or Jean Smart? And Jack kills loyal agent and good friend Curtis? Oh well…time to move on.

Ricky Schroder was then brought in to do everything that Curtis used to do except we all LIKED Curtis. And he's the SILVER SPOONS kid. When he tried to be a bad ass I kept expecting the terrorist to send him to his room.

What exactly is Karen Hayes’ job? And how many times can one person quit, be reinstated, fired, re-hired, put into custody, and released within one day? It was like Opie & Anthony's entire career distilled down into one day.

Then CTU is invaded (again). Great impenetrable security. Anyone can just slip in by coming up through the employees lounge. Jack got to play DIE HARD in a government nerve center, one of the cast members was killed (Milo ain’t Edgar, sorry), and producers saved money by not needing outside sets or location shooting for two episodes. Next year I expect four agents to die when terrorists plant mold in CTU (but it’s the kind of killer mold that only lasts one hour so it’s business as usual after that). I was surprised, by the way, that Milo stayed dead. Considering he sustained an arm injury earlier and was able to ditch the sling in two hours, I figured he had healing powers almost as amazing as Jack’s (who was shot, knifed, bruised in the ribs but felt no ill effects).

And ultimately the world is put to the brink of World War III because Jack has to save Audrey Raines. “Check please!”

I love 24…or at least I did. I also appreciate how hard it is to keep the suspense going and find new problems to solve. So I’ll be back next season.

Hey, anyone can have a “bad day”.

But it’s time to shake up the format. Set it somewhere else. Lose the Presidential subplot. I dunno. But if I may make a suggestion as a loyal viewer who only wants to love 24 and cheer – let Jack get us out of Iraq. And bring back Jean Smart.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well stated Ken. 24 is my absolute favorite show, and to see it crash and burn this season in such a firy wreck was very sad. Lets hope that that the rumored re-set of 24 works out the way it hopes, as long as Chloe is there to send Jack schematics.

Scott C. said...

Well, a friend of mine long suspect that they were making 24 up as they go, and apparently the writers recently copped to it.

Personally, my contact with the show is haphazard, but I've always felt that each season should end the same way: With Jack reaching for a bottle of tequila and muttering, "Man, what a crappy day."

Anonymous said...

It was a season of fakeout tension. Like in the last hour, going to commercials, Chloe is ill. Is it leftover Sentec? Is it radiation? No, she's pregnant.
I just finished watching TV academy screener DVD's of the entire run of a show with a similiar theme that was much better. Sleeper Cell on Showtime.
WK

Andrew said...

I'll add my voice to the chorus. The day actually started out well: Jack gone feral -- I didn't think he could engage in a brutality that would actually surprise me, but I jumped in my seat when he bit out that guy's jugular -- along with the story in which he was not just risking death but choosing death in order to save the country. I thought they also set the scene well as a country besieged by suicide bombings, something you wonder why hasn't actually already happened.

But THEN... it just devolved into gimmicks. A nuke goes off (which we all saw coming, since for once Jack wasn't on scene to disarm it); the villain from last season is -- GASP !-- Jack's brother; and then the villain from this season is -- GASP! -- Jack's father. Wayne Palmer sits in the Oval Office as the single least credible casting choice for a president, and there's this bizarre concept that if only Palmer approves a rollback on civil liberties, the other four nukes will be found that very day.

Even more troubling, characters began to pretentiously moralize in complete conflict with their previous behavior. Karen Hayes came on the scene as a hardcore administrative bad-ass; now she's all weepy about civil liberties? I don't get it.

But at the top of my "I don't get it" list is why Jack's father suddenly decided to mount an unplanned attack on CTU, just to get his grandson; grandpa couldn't send a van to snatch him once the kid got home?

If it's any consolation, though, I think the negative feedback that the writers are getting, along with the unexpected competition from Heroes, is going to force them to bring their A-game again. If they can't, then it's time to give Jack the day off.

Dhppy said...

Can you believe Jean Smart didn't even get an Emmy nomination for 24 last year? I can. The Emmy's make no sense.

JD said...

Wow, you 24 fans really have the capacity to suspend belief in reality and the patience of Job. I watched the first half of the first season before ditching the ridiculous show in disgust; not only are the plots incredibly far-fetched but the way they drag everything out for commercial break after commercial break just wore me down. After a while, all that suspense just gets boring. Just to make sure I wasn't wrong, I tuned back in season before last and sure enough, the same crazy crap and mind-numbing plots were still there. And Jack still delivers every line in the same half-growl, half-whisper. Geez. I guess my point here is that I don't like the show.

Lorenzo said...

haha oh my god that's the best summary ever, ever. You, Ken Levine, are a God amongst men. I'm p****** myself laughing at work now... your fault!!

John Royal said...

Next season, Jack, Bill Buchanon, and Agent Aaron Pence go off in search of the cougar that nearly ate Kim. They take the cougar to the Heller household and set him lose on Audrey, only to find that Audrey is really Nina, who faked her death.

Mr. Peel said...

Jean Smart did get an Emmy nomination last year, but it was for Supporting, not lead. Maybe the Emmys still make no sense, but not for this reason.

Mark Hill said...

Agree completely. My wife and I have been slogging through this season, trying to ignore our disappointment only because the past few have been so brilliant.

But the unbelievable plot twists were too hard to navigate. You're right about Jack's dad. (And then the ominous, behind-the-scenes bad guy from last year turns out to be Jack's brother? Come on.) And yes, killing off Curtis was a huge error.

Anonymous said...

What kills me about 24, one hour after an attack, the government has massive plans like detention camps for every cab driver and 7-Eleven clerk in the country. In reality, 6 months after 9-11, Immigration renewed Mohhammed Atta's visa. According to New York Times, the bureaucratic backlog for immigration is up to 22 years.
The fantasy is the government doing anything quick.
WK

Anonymous said...

Ken, a technical note: that picture you're using is nearly a half-megabyte. Any readers you have still using dial-up instead of broadband are being penalized.

Ken Levine said...

I made the picture a little smaller. Does that help you dial up folks?

Anonymous said...

After the end of last season I was hoping for something different. It was getting to hard to top the last one, and last year had a lot of big moments. My hope was that it would be about Jack escaping captivity in China while on the other side he was trying to be rescued. Sadly when it turned out to be just another day for Jack I didn't even bother watching.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

I agree with everything you said, except, I won't be watching next year. In fact, I stopped watching about two-thirds in this past season. And I remember the exact moment I changed the channel, too. Someone at CTU said: "Jack's gone rogue!"

I rolled my eyes and sighed. "Again? Whatever."

KJC

DeeLuzon said...

i am convinced that the entire season was contrived in order to provide Kim Raver with a part she could play convincingly... that of a catatonic.

Dhppy said...

I stand corrected Mr. Peel.

The Emmys still make no sense.

Do you have an Emmy anecdotes, Mr. Levine?

kjb said...

I agree the show isn't what it was, but it's still watchable for me, and still better than much of what's being broadcast.

Killing Curtis was definitely a big mistake.

What should they do next season? Kill Jack. Frankly, I've thought since season 1 that the 24 concept is solid enough that they could do any number of storylines. Jack, CTU, the president, etc. aren't necessary.

Geoduck said...

As others have said, they've sunk so much cash into building that CTU set, they have to keep using it. Which means that the show will always be set in LA and always feature CTU subplots.

Alan Tomlinson said...

Perhaps 24 needs this:

http://nielsenhayden.com/overlord/

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

karan said...

My husband was a fan until about half way through this season when they changed direction after the first bad guy got caught. My complaint is that if this a "real time" show, how come nobody ever eats or poops?

And...it seems that cell phones always pose a security problem, so how come everyone and his mother has one and carries on secret conversations to go behind the backs of those in charge? If I was the boss, you bet that I'd have everyone check them in at the door.

I hope 24 goes the way of Lost.

Anonymous said...

24 may have an overly elevated view of the effectiveness of government agents. While Jack may know how 4 million ways to get a secret out of terrorists and Chloe may know the plans for every building in the world, according to “Cinematical.com”, director Mike Figgis was detained for 5 hours at LAX. Why? Because when he was asked what he was doing in L.A., he replied, “I’m here to shoot a pilot.” No TSA agent knew he meant a television show.
WK

bigbadhomer said...

No question this was an off year, easily the worst. Word is the locale will move from LA (or what's left of it at this point) to DC next season. A change of scenery can only help. My advice -- screw the romance and just keep blowing stuff up and no more "soft" Chloe!

And did I miss an update on the ex-Prez's condition after the ex-First Lady nailed him with the fruit knife? That wasn't a dream, was it?

By the way, if you haven't had the pleasure, check out the transcripts of Dave Barry's live 24 commentary -- great stuff.

http://blogs.herald.com/dave_barrys_blog/24/index.html

Killer blog, Ken, it's a daily stop!

Dwacon said...

Next season, let's team Jack with Tom Brewster, a cattle-ropin', slow-lopin' cowboy that everybody at CTU calls Sugarfoot. Jack can use Sugargoot's volume of the law to crack some terrorist heads...

And the bad guy next season has to be Osama (played by Tony Shaloub... since Charles Nelson Reilly is no longer with us).

So how do I get hired on as an Executive Producer to put this in action?

Christina said...

I'm going to preface this comment by saying that you're a very talented writer. I still watch Frasier every day. It was--and is--the most intelligent comedy on TV (besides Arrested Development, of course :)

I think you mean "its", rather than "it's", which is a contraction of "it is". In addition, "TVs" doesn't need an apostrophe, nor do the items "DVDs" "CDs", etc.

Thank you for Frasier and for your blog. I really appreciate your sarcastic wit!

Anonymous said...

"It was especially disappointing coming off of last season which was arguably it’s best."

Hey, Ken, just for grammar wonks' sake, "it's" is a contraction for "it is." "Its" is the possessive pronoun.

Anonymous said...

The season tension progressed from nuking Valencia to kidnapping a pre-pubescent boy. Or as Michael Jacakson calls it, upping the stakes.

Dwacon said...

Oh yea... what Christina said.

I was living in Singapore when Frasier premiered. My dad sent a few videotapes. My fellow expats looked at it and said, "This will be cancelled. It's too intelligent to last on network TV." Fortunately we were proven wrong.

But one more thing as Colombo would say...

After watching Marisol Nichols for the Showtime "Resurrection Blvd" series... hard to think of her as Middle-Eastern.

Ken Levine said...

ATTENTION:

The robots at blogger.com have temporaily frozen my blog accidentally flagging it as sending spam. They've been alerted that it's not and now I wait while they review it.

I'm getting less and less enamored by blogger.com

I hope the problem is resolved soon.

Ken

Ken Levine said...

ATTENTION!!!

I HAVE MOVED!!!!!

At least for the moment and if blogger doesn't resolve this soon I will move permenantly.

My temporary new address is:

http://kenlevine.typepad.com/blog/

Please check in. I'm posting there.

Thanks. Sorry for the inconvenience. I am really pissed.

Ken

The Crutnacker said...

This season was a rehash of everything that has come before and it was clear the writers were making it up from week to week.

Wouldn't it have been great if Nadia had told the 485th person sent from division to take over that, "Hey, it wasn't my fault you built CTU over a friggin' sewer!"