WARNING I: this will be stuffed with spoilers about the TV-show "24" all over the place, and not only Season 6. If you don't want to expose yourself to them, read no further!
WARNING II: if you think talking about "24" (or any TV show) is trivial beyond words and not worth the time it took to write this... well, I sympathize. Feel free to skip this one. It won't be on the test, and it ain't deep!
I love "24," will watch it to the season's end, and plan to watch it next season. Also, I am not one of those people who delights in putting on superior airs by disdainfully criticizing anything popular, just to show how above-the-masses I am. In fact, people like that bore and repulse me.
But oh, my gosh—who kidnapped the regular writers of "24" and replaced them with pod-people?
One of the things I've enjoyed about "24" is the unexpected developments within the characters, and that even (most of) the bad guys are not depicted as 2D cartoon clichéd cut-outs. Think, for instance, of Ryan Chappelle. He was introduced as a very dislikable character; but then he showed signs of having more to him than just a flat set of ugly responses. By the time he died, he had become a very sympathetic character.
Or take again, and perhaps even more so, George Mason, who starts off a jerk and a coward, then shows some depth, then is a coward again — then dies a tragic hero after he's contaminated and dying.
Or take again take Lynn McGill, played by Sean Astin. (We just called him "Sam," for his run.) Starts off as a bit of a jerk, then he saves the day by catching Bauer's code — then he's a total jerk and a maniac, then he's a victim, and he dies a hero.
Or take again Paul Raines — a bit of a jerk, then a victim, then a hero, then a victim.
I could go on and on, and so could you. These are full-orbed, interesting people. You can't just say, "Oh, yes, I know this one. Officious by-the-book Jerkface. I know exactly what he'll say and do for the rest of the season."
And then there was Day 6, now coming to an end. Good heavens — what happened?
The season started off really well. Jack was back, the nuke went off; poor Jack had to shoot Curtis. All was tight and tense, and very promising.
And Principle Wood (only Buffy fans will get that), as President, was true to the mold of a complex character, with layers and surprises.
But then... oh, my gosh. Enter Powers Boothe as Vice President Noah Daniels. Wow, get it? "Noah"? "Daniels"? Those are, like, Biblical names!
This character was cut off the back of a cereal-box, he is so shallow and cartoonish and predictable. I cringe at his scenes. And Boothe! A good actor can make even a poorly-written role interesting. I thought Boothe was a good actor... but he plays this walking, talking cliché just as horridly as he is written. Worse! With that ugly smile, and that oily, purring growl... augh!
And his idiot lover/secretary/whatever-girl, that blonde — it doesn't even matter what her name is. She's another cartoon, and a bad one! Their scenes together make me writhe and groan!
But merciful heavens, it even gets worse.
One of the coolest "24" characters EVER, and one that convinced us that this was a series worth sticking with, was SecDef James Heller, played perfectly by William Devane. We figured he'd be a cartoon character at first, but boy, did we find out we were wrong! Guy was tough, sharp, disciplined, deep; a conservative, heroic patriot. Just a great character. More than once, one or all of us exclaimed, "Whoa! Go, Dad!"
We were all glad to see he's back in Season 6 — or is he? It looks like him. It has his voice. It has his name. It is played by the same actor.
But good grief, what is that coming out of his mouth?!
Heller-as-pod-person tells Jack that he blames Jack for what happened to Audrey.
What?!! Jack, who enraged the Chinese by doing his job? Jack, who was framed for a Chinese death caused by Chinese "friendly fire"? Jack, who was kidnapped on American soil by the Chinese, wrongly held, tortured for two years? Jack, who hung tough and wouldn't tell the Chinese a word? Jack, who evidently could have been freed, but wasn't worth freeing until the President needed him back — so he could hand him over to a terrorist?
That Jack? He blames that Jack?
Merciful heavens, what an idiot. (And "idiot" is the one thing Heller was not.) What does he imagine that could Jack have done about it? Wasn't Jack kind of tied up at the time—literally? What about Dad himself? If anyone might have stopped Audrey, wasn't Dad in a better position?
If Dad's really anxious to blame someone, isn't he himself a better candidate?
But no, this Keller-pod-person blames Jack, tells him he's a curse, orders Jack to stay away from Audrey. He's even filing for restraining orders!
That isn't a plot-twist; it's a plot-trainwreck. It is so appallingly bad, that it is at the same time sad and insulting.
Well, at least they haven't had Chloe turn out to be a terrorist, or killed her, yet.
And then I remember... the season's not over yet. (Run, Chloe!)
I just hope the season ends well, I hope they fire all those writers, and I hope they regroup for next season.