Tuesday, January 20, 2009

24: See you in the next life, Jack!

Very brief spoilers about last night's "24" -- including my explanation for why this'll be the last time I write about the show for anytime soon -- coming right up...

Okay, I'm good.

I went into this episode feeling like it was a chore -- that, as a professional TV watcher, a blogger of various interesting shows, etc., I needed to stay current with "24." And I was dreading it. As I suggested back in my column before the season began, I'm tired of all of it: the torture, the stupid behavior necessary to make the plot work (was there any way the Vice-President First Gentleman wasn't going to be betrayed by his Secret Service man?), the cartoonish villains (the guy from the Attorney General's office was portrayed to be nearly as loathsome in his defense of the Constitution as the ACLU-type guy was a few seasons back, or the UN observer from "24: Redemption"), etc.

I don't care how Jack's going to get out of this latest mess, who's loyal at the FBI and who isn't, whom President Taylor can really trust, any of it. I'm out.

I know plenty of you are still perfectly happy with the show, and good for you for finding something you enjoy. But it's better for all of us if I just cut the cord here.

For the last time (for now, anyway) on "24," what did everybody else think?

56 comments:

Byron said...

Yeah, pretty much.

Mrglass said...

I don't know what happened to the writers of this show. As many have said last week, the basic plot of the season makes no sense at all: what point is there in delaying a US invasion by 6 days, and making sure the retaliation is far worse? As for the mechanical box supposed to control everything in the country, the less said about it the better.

It seems the only point of 24 is now to make sure that every 15 minutes there is another twist or torture or death - as before, but without any real suspense or back story. And they can't even manage to invent plot twists. For example, in this episode we knew Jack was not a traitor, but somehow we were supposed to believe that FBI agent was in real trouble.

That is the best they can come up with after two years? Really? What happened, did Rupert Murdoch start writing for the series during the strike?

Oh well, I will watch a little longer because I like the new characters, and DC is such a nice new place for 24, a snake pit full of treacherous SOBs. My only hope is that Jon Voight (the ultimate SOB in movies) has a better plan than those African dictators when he shows up.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean First Gentleman and not Vice President.

I actually did like the ending with Agent Walker getting buried alive, but for the most part I agree with you. Everything they're doing has been done before and the idea that yet again there's a mole in every level of the government is just ridiculous. Why can't they just have it be a straight good guys vs. bad guys thing for once?

I will say too, though, that I think 24 is suffering as much from having not come back after the strike as Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, etc. I know a lot of people who just didn't bother to tune in at all. I think the been there, done that feeling had already set in by the time the last season ended and being off the air for so long gave people the chance to realize they didn't really miss the show. I'm not sure there's anything the show could have done to lure them back. And I'm kind of getting the impression you might be one of those people, Alan.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fixed. Thanks.

amysusanne said...

I'm guessing that a majority of my like for this season has to do with Tony being back. The rest is a mixture of the anticipation of the fun that will be had when Janis and Chloe finally meet, the fact that I like Agent Freckles a lot and...random other small stuff that probably won't stick, but whatever. That said, I hate episodes like last night's. They're transition episodes and they're the reason why I think twelve weeks of two hour eps would be better than dragging it out. Nothing happened last night that we didn't already know was going to happen. By the end of the episode I hadn't seen or learned anything that I couldn't have just put together myself without them guiding me through it. No real action, no real surprises and a lot of Jack and Tony saying the same thing over and over and over.

I know that as long as they cling to their concept they have to have episodes like this, but they're a chore to get through. At the very least they could have had Tony take his shirt off for no reason.

Dijonase said...

I guess I'm in the minority because I'm actually enjoying the show again. I didn't much care for last season, like everyone else, but this season has just the right mix for me.

Everything other than Jack is admittedly sub par. The stuff in the White House is less than compelling. The First Gentleman's story I could take or leave (though I loved him being paralyzed last night). The FBI-as-CTU stuff is been there, done that.

But Jack's storyline is infinitely interesting to me. I'm sure a lot of it is my love of Jack, but I love seeing him undercover and doing things that need to be done, no matter how awful. So far, the writers seem committed to keeping Jack undercover, right where I like him. Now if they go right back to normal with Jack next week I'll be sorely disappointed, but for now I'm on board.

Anonymous said...

I get frustrated seeing scenes that are clearly shot in LA but supposed to be in DC... i.e. outside the Diplomat's house.

Figgsrock2 said...

Yup, I'm done too alan. I watched the first four hours in a marathon yesterday on my day off, and by hour two found myself fast-forwarding through any non-Jack scenes. Last night's ep was even worse. It is a shame too--I really loved this show, but I just have to break up with it now.

Hatfield said...

Fair enough, and my coming here before seeing the episode speaks to just how much the thrill is gone for me too, but I wonder if you'd be willing to post open threads after each episode airs? Most of the people who frequent this site have interesting things to say, and it's nice to have a place to discuss just how far we think it's fallen and how much longer we'll stick around.

kenjfuj said...

I'm actually rather enjoying the season so far, but I think that's because I started out this season with near-rock-bottom expectations. I've pretty much made peace with the fact that this show is pretty much running in circles now, that it long ago exhausted its bag of tricks and is pretty much repeating itself as far as torture, terrorism-fighting and all its other favorite themes are concerned. All that's left for the writers to do now---and all, apparently, that they are willing to do---is to bring some kind of fresh energy to its litany of cliches. That I think they've been able to do reasonably well, at least after a desultory first two hours. It's become the TV equivalent of comfort food; as long as I don't expect much more than that, I still find myself fairly entertained. So I probably will be with it for the long haul...at least, until it starts reminding me of Season 6, I suppose.

David said...

I'm getting there, myself. I've gotten better at dropping shows that overstay their welcome. I'll continue a few more eps, but after that I may say Hasta la vista.

Anonymous said...

Count me as one who has surprisingly been enjoying the season so for. I know a lot of it is predictable, but I'm fine as long as they continue with what so far has been on the high end of the same old bag of 24 tricks. Although I admit that instead of being confident that they can keep it up, I go into each new episode hoping that they don't go completely of the rails as they did last season.

And I think they tried to rationalize why the invasion can't be pushed back by slipping in that the bad guys are closing in on some refugee camps with a massacre to follow.

Bobman said...

I'm actually rather enjoying the season so far, but I think that's because I started out this season with near-rock-bottom expectations. I've pretty much made peace with the fact that this show is pretty much running in circles now, that it long ago exhausted its bag of tricks and is pretty much repeating itself as far as torture, terrorism-fighting and all its other favorite themes are concerned. All that's left for the writers to do now---and all, apparently, that they are willing to do---is to bring some kind of fresh energy to its litany of cliches. That I think they've been able to do reasonably well, at least after a desultory first two hours.

This is almost exactly how I feel. I've come to terms with what the show is, and I can kind of still enjoy it to an extent due to lowered expectations. It makes a good background show for time on the exercise bike or something.

Dan said...

Oh, y'know... this season has been just FINE. I don't have many complaints. I'm surprised by how good the new characters are, the ensemble feel is working very well, D.C is better than L.A, and it's still a lot of fun.

After six seasons, yes it's just tweaks to old ideas right now (conspiracy like S5, undercover villainy like S3), but part of the fun with 24 has been its clich├ęs and a certain amount of ridiculousness. Day 6 took it way, way too far, but Day 7 is shaping up quite nicely. There's more going on by ep5 than in most previous seasons, and I'm interested to see where it's all headed.

I think you're giving up on this far too early. But never mind.

Steve B said...

I don't know how to describe my feelings for this year. On one hand, I like what's happening with Jack, Tony, Bill, Chloe, Freckles, Garafalo, and the dude from Entourage. One the other, I positively loathe the President, her husband, and the dictator.

The president and dictator's actions don't make sense. Why is the president so concerned with what the rest of the world would think of the US if we don't do something in Sangala? They already told us last week that the rest of the world doesn't care what happens there! Why would the dictator force the US into war with him within a week?

The president's husband's story, a conspiracy within the president's administration has been done far too much on this show. Give us something new please. Like someone else mentioned earlier, give us a simple season of good guys against bad guys. No double-agents, no conspiracies within gov't or CTU/FBI. The shows has always been the most fun when Jack has to stop the bad guys while CTU helps him.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The problem, unfortunately, is that the nature of the show, and the fact that they have to keep one continuous story (or the illusion of same) moving for an entire season, makes all these games with double agents and moles almost mandatory. If everyone on "24" was who they claimed to be, the writers wouldn't be able to constantly throw new obstacles in front of Jack that allow them to stretch out the plot.

Here's how Howard Gordon put it when I asked at press tour whether the show could do without all the shocking betrayals:

Well, to me, it’s a little bit like doing “NYPD Blue” without a murder in a way. It’s a trope of the genre, and there are — God knows we use and reshift and rejigger certain tropes in the thriller genre. As Kiefer said, we’ve done now 170 (episodes) of these, and so hopefully we do it with a little bit – with interest and with characters who are full-bodied enough so that it’s not just simply a mole or a betrayal. But betrayals are sort of the stock-in-trade of the way that these shows are done, and hopefully we do it in a way that keeps it interesting, keeps it fresh, and keeps you watching.

Jennifer said...

Alan, this is exactly why I quit 24 last time. I'm so sick of the first four hours being interesting, then they run out of pre-plotted stuff and it gets dull, except once in a great while there's a cool/shocking moment, but you can't skip even a half hour of an episode without being confused as to what's going on, and...dammit, I'm bored of this.

This is like Prison Break (not that I've watched it, but it's what I hear): it really only works well in one season. And then repeating the formula over and over again starts to kill it.

erin said...

You know, I was in Alan's camp after I watch the first four, which my mom basically talked me into, and they were reasonably entertaining but I was kind of over it. And then I saw last night, with the paralyzed First Hub, and the agent being BURIED ALIVE and I was back on board! Yeah, it's predictable, but I like wondering how far Rogue Tony (and Rogue Kiefer) will have to go undercover, and I dig the DC location. I completely gave up on Season 6 early on, so I'll cut the ties if this goes ridiculous, but it kept me on the edge of my seat last night. That's all I ask for from 24! So basically, I understand people who are over it, but if it keeps me entertained, i'll stick by it a little longer.

Anonymous said...

As long as Tony is on the show I'll never quit it. Tony Almeida needs his own spin-off.

P "N" K said...

I have to say these first five hours have actually pulled me back. I gave the show a chance after a sixth season that was not much to my liking, and thus far it's won me back.

Bitsy said...

I thought 24 was implausible from the beginning, with what you've described as a lack of forethought concerning the plot, and writing-as-you-go. I think was started to make it unravel was Kim being kept busy by constantly running into trouble, and consequently contradicting the theory of averages. She's part of the reason I've stopped watching the show. But I've gotta know, have you officially stopped blogging about Grey's Anatomy? Two episodes, no thread, I might be able to take a hint, but is it official? Because last week's episode was all right...

Steve said...

I never saw the first two seasons.

I started in season 3 and LOVED it. I also loved Season 4. However, seasons 5 and 6 were awful, and this season does not look any better.

I don't know how Kiefer Sutherland gets Emmy and GG nominations for Jack Bauer. He is terrible. Every sentence out of his mouth sounds like he is trying to have a bowel movement.

I give up, and can't watch this anymore. Such a shame, because the third season was incredible.

jim treacher said...

I kind of felt the same way going in, Alan. It was like, "Oh, has it been a week already? Well, better watch it and clear the space on the DVR..." And most of it was pretty damn boring. But they got me back with Jack grazing the hot FBI agent in the neck and burying her alive. Every time they start to lose me, they do something so stupid and implausible and crazy that they bring me back.

And come on, Ever Carradine. Is it just me? I've liked her ever since the sadly underrated Lucky. Okay, she's no classic beauty, but I sure don't blame Woody McWoodenacting for cheating on his boring wife with her.

I also like watching Garofalo walk offscreen and trying to decide whether she's on her way back to surfing Kos or Media Matters. Or both!

Omagus said...

I'm watching until the Bauer Babe shows up.

Then I'm out.

domino87 said...

I'm actually really enjoying the show right now. But, I haven't watched it since the first 2 seasons. I'm sure if I'd been watching the entire way through like some people, I'd be sick of it by now as well. Of course it's somewhat predictable and totally unrealistic. But I try not to dwell on those things and just take it for what it is. And right now it's a pretty entertaining hour of TV each week.

amysusanne said...

I loved "Lucky".

I like Ever and was surprised to see her randomly show up out of nowhere. My prediction on her *was* that she was the mole, but now I've changed my mind and decided that she's the slightly whorish office worker who will be wrongly accused of treason somewhere around the 12th hour.

I think that in spite of its flaws and the fact that there will, by design, be eps that bore me, this season has been fun. Last season was bad as I watched it and awful as I think back on it. But, the change of scenery, the new faces and the fact that they jumped right back in got straight to the point with the Tony/Chloe/Bill super secret undercover gang has rebooted it for me. It probably helps that those are my three favorite characters.

It's gonna be predictable and cliche and, at times, lazy, but it's also gonna bury people alive and paralyze people (two kind of awesome things in an ep I didn't even like) and give me my weekly allowance of socially awkward computer geeks with personality disorders...and I'll enjoy it.

Kind of sad that a story about a dude about to commit total genocide is actually *lighter* than the previous season, but whatever. We'll take care of that in a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Personally, for me it is refreshing to have the libs get the short of the stick. Conservatives are consistently the bad guys...from the 'evil corporation' that doesn't care about its workers to the political nutjobs who are war crazy and think with a gun rather than their head.

So the ACLU, the UN dig, etc. I love it all. I know it's a generalization, but I think it's fair play. And barely a drop in the bucket compared to how the conservatives have been treated in film and on tv as of late.

Go, Jack, go!

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with you on most shows, but with this it is like we are watching to different things. True, 24 is not always the most well thought-out show plot-wise, but it is a fast and fun hour. I'm enjoying the season thus far.

Hyde said...

There are all the usual implausibilities to this season. I'm always amused that instead of Jack Bauer being one of the most famous people in America--at least among people who work in the federal government--no one ever seems to know who he is. This is a guy who, after all, has been intimately connected with the explosion of 2 nuclear weapons inside the U.S, which is the sort of thing people tend to remember. It doesn't make any sense that any U.S. president would contemplate a mass invasion of an African country just to prevent a humanitarian crisis. And why does this show feel the need to drag out the sketchy presidential spouse every other year?

Oh yeah--and if you're casting Jeffrey Nordling and Bob Gunton, you're kind of giving away who your bad guys are (I'm projecting a bit in the case of Nordling).

Having said all that, I'm mildly entertained by the end of the CTU aspect to the show (never mind that they kept Chloe and Buchanan around) and watching Jack tooling around DC. So at least for me and at least so far, it's a step up from the previous season; and it's certainly superior to the ridiculous Prison Break.

jim treacher said...

I loved "Lucky".

It was great, wasn't it? The fat black guy has been in a bunch of stuff since then, and so has the fat white guy. And of course John Corbett. But whenever I see them I'm always like, "Man, I wish they'd do another season of Lucky..."

Oh, and the thing Anonymous said about libs maybe taking a shot now and then? As opposed to the usual shots at conservatives? I don't see what's so awful about that. But I'm sure I'll be re-educated under the Obama regime.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Liberal or conservative, two-dimensional straw men villains bore me. I rolled my eyes at most of the Republicans on West Wing as I did at the AG guy here.

Hal Incandenza said...

I disagree about this season, which, thus far, seems much, much stronger than S6 (and I'm bummed you're not going to review any subsequent episodes), but: great post title, Alan.

happy_go_lucky said...

This season is better than last season if by better you mean simply boring instead of insultingly horrible.

That being said, in today's spirit of optism I'm hoping things will pick once we get past the pre-strike episodes and into the ones that we're supposedly planned out.

Hal Incandenza said...

This season is better than last season if by better you mean simply boring instead of insultingly horrible.

Fair enough.

Nicole said...

While the episode wasn't perfect, I have to admit that I was thoroughly disturbed when Henry Taylor was slowly getting paralyzed. But then again Colm Feore could act the hell out of a paper bag, so my reaction was probably more the result of his acting than the writing. I will need to keep watching to see if he pulls this off.

BTW, does anyone know where they are in terms of which episode they are filming? Feore is taking on Macbeth and Cyrano at the Stratford Festival this year, and as the plays start in May, I wonder if the First Gentleman will be alive for much longer.

hellresident said...

If I recall correctly, all twenty-four eps have been written and shot so this shouldn't be gettin gin the way of Colm Feore's theater participation.

dark tyler said...

By the way, to Steve above: Season 5 was "awful"? Not trying to dismiss a guy's opinion, but maybe you miscounted? Season 5 was the one with the Logans, with the more-than-usual Aaron Pierce, with the humor, and with all the Emmys. Basically it's widely accepted as the show's best season ever, and that's part of the reason why everyone hated season 6.

(The biggest part of which being that it was simply awful, but still.)

Dbeckett said...

I accept "24" for all its warts & faults and what keeps me coming back for more is Kiefer Sutherland and his acting - he makes you believe in Jack and believe what's going on is very real and dangerous. I cannot believe someone on this Blog was criticizing Kiefer's acting which to me has been the ONE thing about the show that even haters can like. (such as my brother).

Not every show I watch has to have the most brilliantly intricate plots like "Lost" or "Mad Men". There's room in my palette for a show like "24".

And sorry, as someone who's politically 'middle of the road', I try and take a fair view of TV shows and their politics and even though I'm not a Conservative, 98% of all TV shows are so strongly liberal (like everything on ABC and NBC though I still enjoy plenty on both networks) that if "24" has a lean to the right by showing a nasty U.N. troll...GOOD FOR THEM.

The U.N. is filled with a bunch of biased, paid off liars IMHO so if ONE show wants to show a U.N. person as a villain, I say about damn time.

erin said...

I'm with you on S5--it was one of the most consistently enjoyable seasons of the entire run, which is why S6 was so disappointing. I mean, evil wussy President Logan? Gold! I doubt they can do something as interesting here, but I'll take it. Bad 24 is still pretty good (...except for last season. I don't remember why I stopped watching, but it must have been pretty terrible, even for me).

kenjfuj said...

...(...except for last season. I don't remember why I stopped watching, but it must have been pretty terrible, even for me).

Season 6 pretty much became an insult to 24 fans as the season dragged on; the rehashes to plot twists of previous seasons were so unbelievably blatant that it was as if the writers weren't even trying to hide the fact that their creative well had dried up early on. (That, and they totally fumbled the Bauer family dynamics, shoving the characters into predictable plot mechanics and draining all potential interest early on.) That's why I stopped watching, and that's probably why my expectations were so low coming into this season.

I enjoyed Season 5 as well, but I still think Season 2 was its finest, most consistent 24 hours to date (cougar or no cougar). At the very least, the formula was still fresh and even somewhat provocative then.

Anonymous said...

I gave up on "24" when it became nothing but gay S&M porn.

Marty said...

I want to know if Freckles tortured that man NOW...so after the bad guys that have kidnapped kill her, I can charge her. Now stop trying to save the world from a terrorist attack and talk to me!

I'm with you Alan. There just aren't enough good moments to justify sittig through this garbage.

jim treacher said...

I gave up on "24" when it became nothing but gay S&M porn.

Wow, so you didn't even finish watching the pilot.

Anonymous said...

It's allll about the Hot Bad Zombie Tony for me. If they hadn't brought Tony back from the dead I would have been content to give up on this show after season 6. But Tony and Jack play so well off each other that their chemistry/character development is carrying me through yet another completely nonsensical 24 "conspiracy". And also, Bad Tony is, as mentioned, hot. Yeah, I'm shallow, and I'm basically OK with that.

dez said...

At the very least they could have had Tony take his shirt off for no reason.

There's always a reason for Tony to take his shirt off--because it pleases me :-)

The Sangala crap is leftover from
"Redemption" because "Is he evil or just gruff?" President Powers Boothe got the U.S. involved right before he left office, then dumped it in President Broadway Chick's lap and said, "HA ha!" [/Nelson Muntz voice off]. She can't quite ignore it without looking weak somehow...or something. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Overall, I'm enjoying the new season and plan on sticking with it. Jack's a damn good shot, isn't he?

Would you, could you, please give us an open thread each week so we can continue discussing?

Anonymous said...

always good for a pro tv critic to stop watching a top 10 and relevant show.

but hey no wonder the ny star ledger is doing so great

Scott said...

Not that Alan can't defend himself, but I don't think he said he would stop watching it -- just that he would stop blogging it.

Juanita's Journal said...

I'm enjoying it more now than I have for the past three seasons. I haven't really enjoyed "24" since Season 3. So far, I'm enjoying Season 7. I don't know how I'll feel in two months from now. I'll see.

Right now, there are few shows that I truly liked. Aside from "MAD MEN", I haven't seen a truly exceptional series since "BUFFY" went off the air in 2003.

Although shows like "LOST" and "BATTLESTAR GALACTICA" might be somewhat well written, I think they're overrated.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not that Alan can't defend himself, but I don't think he said he would stop watching it -- just that he would stop blogging it.

No, I'm not going to watch it, either. If I was still watching it, I'd at least do weekly open threads. I'm cutting the cord.

kenjfuj said...

I'm cutting the cord.

Doing what I did this past fall with Heroes---nice.

dez said...

Anyone got a suggestion for a comparable place we could discuss "24" now that Alan's cutting us off?

Mike said...

I like 24 in the sick way I like the Die Hard movies. It's all about the next preposterous pickle Jack can get out of.. I just enjoy it for what it is.. Crooked characters running around, betraying people, old stars reappearing like a Dickens' novel, never knowing who is on what side is what 24 is about. Some people will get hooked; others will lose interest. I lose interest with many shows: Fringe I gave up after three episodes, West Wing the final season. I'm sure people will tell you if it's worth revisiting again, though I think it's run its course. They just wanted to give us a last helping of the same formula.

cgeye said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cgeye said...

And, Mr. Sepinwall:

I understand should you need to remove or edit my comment. You were careful not to let comment pages get choked by partisan talk, and if you need to do so here, so be it.

dez said...

There is only so much screen time one can watch while an actor plays the same keys on the piano, over and over and over and over again, until I know the tune and it becomes an earwig.

Do you mean an "earworm"?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I understand should you need to remove or edit my comment. You were careful not to let comment pages get choked by partisan talk, and if you need to do so here, so be it.

Yeah, people have been pretty good so far about obeying the No Politics rule, so let's try to keep it that way.