Monday, November 24, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: '24: Redemption' review

In today's column, I review the return of Jack Bauer in "24: Redemption," which I found pretty wanting -- so much so that I don't think I'm going to do a separate post on Sunday night, so feel free to comment on it here.

Bumping this up so people remember it's here for discussion.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it wrong that now all I hear in my head is Uncle Vernon saying "no post on Sunday?"

Bix said...

Amnesty GLOBAL, Alan. Amnesty Global. Nothing like Amnesty International. Not at all. Of course not.

TL said...

Oh well. I've been with 24 since the first episode, but have grown uncomfortable with the show's increasingly authoritarian mindset, and especially the number of people Jack was torturing. That the UN is now the boogie man doesn't bode well.

Evie Garland said...

I guess I only have Americans' ignorance of geography to blame, but why do TV shows and movies always feel that they can just MAKE UP an African nation? If they said it took place in the European country of "Franlia" or "Spainburg" everyone would be like, "that's so stupid!" But imaginary African country? Oh, OK, we know it's one of those messed-up countries were atrocities occur, who cares which one.

Here's my real question for ya, though, Alan: as a fan of the show, should I watch "Redemption" or will I be too frustrated? Should I just wait until the regular season (and hope it doesn't suck)?

M said...

I guess I only have Americans' ignorance of geography to blame, but why do TV shows and movies always feel that they can just MAKE UP an African nation? If they said it took place in the European country of "Franlia" or "Spainburg" everyone would be like, "that's so stupid!"

Watch classic Mission: Impossible some time, or other spy series made during the cold war. Every other episode takes place in a made-up East-European country, with the odd made-up West-European country thrown in for good measure. The reason you don't see this very often on TV anymore is that there are very few shows that go to Europe anymore, and if they do they're usually non-controversial tourist episodes.

I think the reason why TV and film makers shy away from using real countries in shows like 24 (or Mission: Impossible) is that it gives them greater storytelling freedom (can you imagine the outcry if, in the beginning of Day 2, President Palmer had been told "Saudi-Arabia, Iraq and Iran are directly funding a terrorist cell that has brought a nuclear bomb into the US" instead of "three Arabian states are funding..."). Also, if Jack is working in a fictional African country, nobody can accuse the producers of mis-representing or over-simplifying the Congo/Rwanda conflict or whatever real-life model they're mimicking(well, they can but the producers have the ready-made response that they're not trying to portray a real-world conflict and as such it is totally unfair to blame them for caricaturing an existing ethnic strife for the entertainment of their audience).

dez said...

Mary McNamara at the Times gave it a good review, so there :-D

I planned on watching it regardless since I'm a die-hard fan.

Anonymous said...

Be glad we really have people like Jack Bauer working for us in real life. It's why we all can sleep well at night.

hazmatzak said...

Of course, Jack Bauer doesn't sleep, except for like two minutes in Season One, when they were still paying attention. And he doesn't go to the bathroom either, except maybe once in (was it?) Season Five.

Imagine if he drank a Big Gulp or something just before the clock started: uncomfortable!

jim treacher said...

If they said it took place in the European country of "Franlia" or "Spainburg" everyone would be like, "that's so stupid!"

Grand Fenwick?

Imagine if he drank a Big Gulp or something just before the clock started: uncomfortable!

The most explosive moment in 24 history was 1 hour after Nina Myers force-fed him a gallon of prune juice.

Maura said...

I started bouncing on the couch when I saw ads for "Redemption". Like dez, I'm a die hard fan, even after season 6. (Why does season 6 of most shows always suck so much?) I'll be watching on Sunday, and I'll be watching when the season starts, even if "Redemption" is bad. I can't quit Jack. He's a man alone. He needs my support.

Thanks for the review, Alan. I'll go in with no expectations. It's the best way to approach it.

jazzfan360 said...

Thanks for the heads-up. After realizing that by watching Day Six in its entirety, I had literally wasted 24 hours of my life, I decided to take the "Wait and see" approach to Day Seven that I enacted with Heroes this season--if, halfway into the season, a consensus of people I trust can tell me that it's improved and maintained that quality through half the season, I will catch up and join in progress. (Obviously, I don't see a need to be returning to Heroes anytime soon.) I don't expect to have to watch Day Seven at all, considering they stopped production halfway through to re-tool because it was just SO unbearably bad. If the producers were unhappy enough to do that for the first time ever, that says to me they hit a whole new low this time around. I was gonna watch the movie just for kicks, but now I see I can keep those two hours for myself, too.

G'bye, Jack. Was nice knowin ya.

Bix said...

Honestly, after the annoyance of "Fayed's country," I don't mind them making up a country.

Anonymous said...

Jazzfan, you may have noticed there was a strike thingy last season, and that was why they shut down after 8 episodes. So, by all means, give up on the show based on how lame Day 6 turned out to be, but make sure you get your facts straight

dez said...

For all the die-hards (and any curious parties), there's a "Making of 'Redemption'" special on Fox tonight. Check your local listings (in L.A., it's on a 7 p.m. on Ch. 11).

Anonymous said...

Jazzfan, you may have noticed there was a strike thingy last season, and that was why they shut down after 8 episodes. So, by all means, give up on the show based on how lame Day 6 turned out to be, but make sure you get your facts straight

Um... maybe YOU need to get your facts straight...

http://www.thebadandugly.com/2008/09/07/24-shuts-down-again/

Anonymous said...

From one anonymous to another: Oops! Consider me put in my place, and I apologize for the snark.

Dan Coyle said...

Wow, that thing took FOREVER. The blatant UN-bashing was childish, but the hard right fans of this show are overgrown children anyway. Man, if some of them knew Howard Gordon's real politics their heads might explode.

The climax, with the juxtaposition of the de Tocqueville quote I HATE HATE HATE and the evacuation of the embassy, however, was brilliant. Just really was a gut punch. Nice one, Gordon.

Andrew said...

After seeing the film, all I can say is it's a real shame that Powers Boothe was wasted on such a lousy season. His two scenes in this episode were some very nice, nuanced stuff.

Marquis said...

I enjoyed it.

As for the lesser amount of action? if all of season 7 was like this I'd be annoyed but for a 2 hour movie where there was a more of a specific deadline to be somewhere, as opposed to a full day where anything can happen.

As for the shut down(s) it sounds a lot less worrisome than Dollhouse.

The whole 12 hour 12 hour sounds like it would be a bad idea anyway so i'm glad the fixed that as for shutting down to retool the final 8 eps. Considering that one of 24's issues tends to be their turnaround time between script production gets so tight by the end of the year that they often find themselves writing their way into jams they can't always get out of properly.

So a fixing of the scripts is fine for me.

Personally I think this season might be fascinating.
while it was pitched and written before 9/11 24 is one of the first real post 9/11 shows and it's going to be interesting to see how that works in an Obama world.gonsi

jim treacher said...

The blatant UN-bashing was childish, but the hard right fans of this show are overgrown children anyway. Man, if some of them knew Howard Gordon's real politics their heads might explode.

A mature rebuttal.

Yeah, the UN dude was way too weaselly even for the real UN. I was kind of hoping he'd run into Bauer again before the show was over, but no such luck.

Kristin said...

I really liked it. I thought it did a nice job of setting up the new season and gave us something fresh to focus on with Jack. Sure, it was a little "24" cheesy, but if you don't know that going in, then you've set your expectations way too high.

I'm no fan of the U.N., so making the U.N. guy a wimp was fine with me. It's not like one guy is representative of the whole organization. He should've escorted those kids...

Anytime Jack gets to kill someone with just his legs, I'm a satsified viewer. Heh.

freestyle55 said...

Actually, it seemed like they were pretty nice with the UN compared to what a lot of their "peace workers" have done in those countries.

Talk about the most worthless organization in the world...

Oh, and in the season 7 preview at the end, they did appear to show the UN guy meeting up with Bauer at a later point.

Anonymous said...

As compelling as the first 5 seasons was, it was the product of a time - and that time has passed. What made 24 so effective was that it seemed plausible...now all they can trot out is more torture, recycled cabals and predictable red herrings. Stick a fork in it - it's done.

Bryan Murray said...

I think I fall somewhere in between "stick a fork in it" and "really liked it." It was good to see Bauer again and I thought Robert Carlyle was really good w/ what he was given. But the entire Africa plot seemed a little stale (between the name Desmond and Mr. Eko-like childhood it had me thinking way too much about Lost which is not good for 24. And now that I think about it, the leg murder was very Sayid even if Jack has done it before.)

I did like most of the D.C. stuff though. Even if it was kind of predictable 24, they made completely new characters interesting in a short amount of time. They started to make some of the same mistakes of season 6 though: not enough Bauer.

Anonymous said...

Hm. Sometimes it is really 'out of sight - out of mind.'

Yawn. With all the fast fowarding, I might have watched the whole segment in maybe 20 mins? That's not a good sign - I think I've really stopped caring at all.

Yes, even Chloe, after the kickass she was in S5 and the lameass she was in S6. Btw, where was she?

jim treacher said...

As compelling as the first 5 seasons was, it was the product of a time - and that time has passed.

There you go, folks: Terrorism is over. Whew!

Dan Coyle said...

"A mature rebuttal."

John Nolte, Michell Malkin, Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt, Greg Gutfeld...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, boys and girls, I'll say the same thing I say in the "SNL" posts: stay nice, or I'm shutting these comments down. How hard is that to understand?

dez said...

Considering that one of 24's issues tends to be their turnaround time between script production gets so tight by the end of the year that they often find themselves writing their way into jams they can't always get out of properly.

They're like the Stephen Kings of TV writing--they write themselves into corners and then punch their way out when they can't think of an ending :-D

I totally agree with Kristin's post--liked the ep, liked the set-up for the next season (and I'm sure Powers Booth will be back). Also, I knew Jack's nutcracker-strength legs would snap that guy's neck, no worries. Heh.

Sure, it was a little "24" cheesy, but if you don't know that going in, then you've set your expectations way too high.

I was quite satisfied (even with the level of cheesiness). I'm bummed that Kris Lemche (a.k.a. Cute Guy God from "Joan of Arcadia") won't be back, though. I wish he played the son of the prez instead of the drug-addled pal.

jim treacher said...

John Nolte, Michell Malkin, Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt, Greg Gutfeld...

Yes?

jim treacher said...

They're like the Stephen Kings of TV writing--they write themselves into corners and then punch their way out when they can't think of an ending :-D

Aw man, King's endings are the worst. I still remember finishing The Dark Half and wanting to throw it across the room. "That's IT??"

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately no, Jim, terrorism is not over. I never said or implied that it was - as someone who lost several family members in the towers I am painfully aware of that fact.

I do think, however, that mass media characters and creative works grow and thrive in particular conditions. When Jack Bauer was "born," the American viewing audience was ripe for a character who cut through the bull and protected the country by any means necessary...watching him was cathartic. I just don't think the audience has the same feeling about "any means necessary" that it did 5 or 6 years ago after Abu Ghraib, the numerous tales of extraordinary rendition that have surfaced, etc. I'm not making a judgment, just an observation...

Now if Jack could torture some of the schmucks in the middle of this subprime mess, we'd probably have something going...

jim treacher said...

Now if Jack could torture some of the schmucks in the middle of this subprime mess, we'd probably have something going...

Then he'd be accused of homophobia.

I don't think people are tired of Jack Bauer or his methods. I think they're tired of slight variations on the same old plots over and over again. Maybe the extra time the writers have had will improve season 7.

dez said...

There had better be at least one "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?!?" moment or I'm gonna be peeved.

Juanita's Journal said...

For me "24: REDEMPTION" was nothing more than a setup for Season 7. It was a setup for the political and intelligence conflicts for the upcoming season and it was a means to show how Jack ended up being arrested by the U.S. government for his past infractions. Nothing more or less.