Tuesday, February 13, 2007

24: You know the drill

Spoilers for "24" coming up just as soon as I make a run to the hardware store...

Always interesting when Fox schedules a "24" two-fer. Usually, it seems done to compensate for a slow episode by following it with a slam-bang one, but this double feature flowed in the opposite direction. Lots of guns, ammo and power tools in the first hour, then a second hour where characters mostly stand around and talk about their feelings until the final five minutes.

Like Fienberg, I'm really curious about what kind of training program you have to go through to become a CTU data analyst. Morris holds up under torture for quite a while, then Milo turns into a master of defensive driving and demolitions at the end of hour two.

(Oddly enough, "24" wasn't the first show I saw yesterday that used a power drill as a torture implement, since I spent my afternoon going through my screeners of BBC America's "The State Within," where a minor character also suffers badly from a cordless tool. One more and we've got a trend, kids.)

Because I didn't comment on last week's episode, and because several critics have started condemning this season as some kind of fiasco, a few e-mailers have wondered if that means I've given up on the show. Absolutely not. I got to watching the previous show so late in the week that I didn't feel I had anything to say on it, and I don't see this season as being substantially worse than any other. Sure, the supporting cast is almost universally-lame (lowlighted by D.B. Woodside failing to fill Dennis Heysbert's shoes), and we're seeing the same devices used again and again (incompetent security on CTU's part, aides plotting against the president), but all of these flaws have been around from the start. The pre-Chloe supporting cast wasn't exactly riveting; they were just there from the beginning, and occasionally someone got a standout moment. (George Mason, RIP, remains my favorite.) And if you're still willing to watch into the sixth season, it seems silly to complain about "24" repeating itself, when it's been doing that all along.

Admittedly, I may have a higher tolerance at the moment because I skipped large chunks of seasons 3 and 4, but I think "24" is shark-proof. You may tire of it, but the show hasn't changed significantly. Cool stuff happens, then stupid stuff happens, and hopefully another cool thing is another 20 minutes, an hour at most, away. The beauty of them making it up as they go along, as I've said, is that it gives them the freedom to ditch plots and characters that aren't working, without having to worry about how this will mess with the (non-existent) master plan.

That said, I think we're another episode or two away from needing to ditch Papa Bauer. I love James Cromwell, and I like the idea of giving Jack a personal stake in what's happening, but I'm already getting bored with daddy getting away with stuff because no one at CTU can be bothered to put a body on the old man or secure a damn room. And I know I just said the show has had these faults from the start, but, again, when the show's on its game it moves past that kind of contrivance. Maybe having Rena Sofer give Jack the 411 on his dad will change the dynamic enough that I'll get back into it, but I groaned when we saw Philip deleting the cell phone contacts (as if all of Graem's effects wouldn't have immediately been given to a techie to analyze), and I groaned when he offered to take Jack's son/nephew for a ride.

A few other quick thoughts:
  • Liked Jack and Chloe's emotionally-stunted reunion "I'm really glad Fayed didn't kill you this morning."
  • Any theories on what Chad Lowe's planning? My guess is they try to assassinate Wayne and make Assad the fall guy.
  • And speaking of which, how fast does a military transport travel, exactly? He seemed to make that cross-country flight awfully quick.
  • The lack of any logistical ramifications -- no traffic jams, or any kind of seeming panic in the streets -- to the Valencia detonation still bugs me. The show could have gotten a whole lot of mileage out of Jack trying to save the day in a city that's completely paralyzed by fear, but instead it's like the nuke never went off. Waste of a perfectly good plot twist.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

While I admit to getting a little restless during the presidential scenes, I don't think this season is turning into a "fiasco." Which critics are saying this?

They alluded to the impact of the nuke on traffic when Papa Bauer was telling Kim's Male Clone that they couldn't get home because of roadblocks, closures, etc. I'm guessing they are spending their money on more special effects, less on hiring extras to run around screaming.

McCarthy's girlfriend shooting McCarthy in the head completely caught me by surprise (I even gasped). That was a great twist because she didn't seem the type. And poor Morris getting kidnapped at a time when viewings of "Driller Killer" were apparently on the rise! OUCH!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, what do you think the repercussions are for Morris because he armed the nukes instead of giving them a fake code? I guess the data analysts don't learn *everything* the agents do. I didn't think Milo's defensive driving was all that good, either, and it didn't take a munitions expert to know that blowing up the truck was a good diversionary tactic to facilitate an escape. Anyone who watches "24" or action films knows that! :-)

Anonymous said...

As a loyal viewer and fan, this season does feel a touch off the norm of excellence. Maybe an intelligent viewer becomes jaded: "Sure he is gonna shoot Curtis . . and of course Papa Bauer is gonna be behind the evil plot." When one comes to expect the shock around every corner everything is bland.

And how many CTU tactical teams are in L.A. , by my count CTU has lost three full teams in these first few hours????

Anonymous said...

After 5 seasons (9 years in 24 time?) you'd think evil masterminds like Mr. Bauer would learn to not use Los Angeles as the home base for their operations.

Mac said...

Maybe this sort of thing goes on all the time in other cities as well. There are evil masterminds in New York, Chicago, Des Moines, etc., and each city is protected by its own CTU superman.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dez, here's just one example of critical reaction of late.

Anonymous said...

I'm still watching mainly because I'm hoping to see President Powers Boothe, who (if he does become president) I expect will be far, far more evil than Logan. A few exceptions aside, 24 has never been great with villains, but Papa "I'll kill my entire family to protect my company" Bauer has got to be the worst. I hope his motivation is deeper than that, but somehow I doubt it.

Since the show is already ludicrous as it is, I'm kinda hoping for a scene where the Vice-President, Papa Bauer, and Fayed discuss their next move-- come on, have them all in on it together in a trio of pure motiveless evil. Maybe throw the "ultra-nationalist" Gredenko in there too.

And every time Jack mentions his "nephew" I hear the Oscar/Buster music from Arrested Development. "Jack, he just lost his father." "But I'm fine-- oh, wait, yah, sucks about Graem."

Anonymous said...

I suffer badly from a cordless tool whenever Seacrest comes onscreen. Hey now!

Yeah, how did they create a male clone of Elisha Cuthbert and grow it to adolescence so fast? I can't wait until that kid does something really stupid just to run out the clock until Jack can get into position to yell/run/kill again. Just like old times!

McCarthy's girlfriend totally shocked me. Is $7 million really that much, though? Even putting aside all the dead people and boring stuff like that, seems to me you could burn $7 million pretty quickly if you were a high-maintenance type like that.

Matty said...

-How long until we find out that ex-President Logan is behind the whole Chad Lowe plot?
-If the show is taking place in 2012, and it started in 2001, Josh must have been born around 1997. I got the impression from Rena Sofer saying something about 20 years that Jack had been gone that the kid isn't actually Jack's.
-Where's Ricky Schroder? I'm really hoping Alfonso Ribeiro is his sidekick when he joins the show.
-How funny would it be if President Logan joined the Ex-Presidents from Point Break (replacing fallen leader Bodhi) next season as a bank robber/terrorist (no mask!) with Johnny Utah and Jack Bauer teaming up as surfing federal agents? Okay, it's just stupid, but the thought gave me a laugh.