Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spoiler-heavy : What happened to "24"?

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 i
s 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.


Carla Rolfe said...

I love day 6, and have no complaints at all.

And I did not say that because Jack is standing behind me telling me what to say.


Connie said...

Well, my husband and I haven't gotten "into" 24--YET--but were with several families last night after church who ARE avid fans! One in particular was quite passionate about the poor writing and weak character development!!! So, you're not alone!

Because my husband and I just might try the first season over the summer I STOPPED reading your post right about where you said something about "pod-people". At least the first few seasons might be worth watching, right?

Pastor Steve said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly about Heller. He was one of the stand-up guys and then he seems to inexplicably lose all brain power.

This season started out good with the nuke exploding and Jack killing Curtis, but it has gone down hill fast. I think the most unsecure place in the world is CTU.

DJP said...

Connie, you were right to stop.

Seasons 1-3 are good, season 4 is probably THE BEST. Season 5 was also good. Season six started well, but foundered, imho.

Pastor Steve, no kidding. He's been assimilated, or something.

Pastor Steve said...

After just watching tonights episode, how many times has CTU had to restrain or arrest Jack, only to let him go again. About 6 times in an 18 hour period? It's still got my attention though.

P.D. Nelson said...

Quit watching this show after season two. I have never regretted that decision once.

Four Pointer said...

...and what's the deal with "Division" coming in and going all up and down Nadia for "breaches in security protocol"? (If they even ARE from "Division", and not spies for Daddy Bauer) She was on the job for what, an hour and a half? That would be like people blaming Bush for 9/11 after being President for only a few months. Oh...

Anonymous said...

I've been offered a part in "24 1/2", a movie being made by a bunch of our high schoolers. I get to be the president, and go wacko and give orders to nuke Khazakstan. And they promised me I won't get killed or be a treasonous traitor like most of the other 24 presidents.

I think "24 1/2" may be better written than "24". But I haven't seen the script, and my agent is still in negotiations...

Neil said...

Obviously you should watch Lost instead.

And Dan you may not remember, but you gave a discouraging word when I was planning to start watching Bauer at the start of this season. You said something like it was too late; I wouldn't know what was going on... Thanks, man!!!!

Tim said...

They had to get Audrey out of the way so the relationship between Jack and Marilyn could develop. The writers handled it clumsily, but they probably saw this as the only way to take her out of the show again. Otherwise, they would have to resort to the other method for resolving love triangles in the show (cf. Milo).

Fred Butler said...

I live in LA. The show is filmed in and around where I live in Santa Clarita. My wife and I just started season 4. All of the stuff is awesome.

But (and all of you 24 veterans will laugh), it is difficult to not snicker along with the show when you have characters able to drive from Burbank to Simi Valley in like 10 minutes. The best was in season three when Jack calls CTU, tells them they just landed at Point Mugu and are on route with Nina. Cut to commercial, 4 1/2 minutes later, they managed to traverse 50 plus miles to down town LA.

Its like Star Trek or something.

Hey, if a guy can be tortured for an hour, shot through the hand and then spend the rest of the "day" hunting down bad guys without cringing, I guess anything is possible in 24 world.


DJP said...

Fred, I can't find it, but there was a web site that actually calculated how fast they'd have to travel to do what they do on 24, and rank the probability. It was pretty funny.

DiRT said...


Season 2 was terrible and forced me out of 24 until season 4 pulled me back in. I quit this season after Fayed was killed and that whole storyline shifted. I never cared much for Audrey and shifting away from a great terrorist storyline because middle east groups didn't like it for this ham-fisted Audrey story just stinks.

Hopefully, next year will redeem this series.

Unknown said...

I'm still convinced that Jack has frequent asthma attacks. Even when he is still, he breathes loudly, like he's recovering from a sprint.

But, hey, my wife and I have been fans since the middle of Day 4. We plan on renting seasons 1-4 during the break and catch up on what we missed.

Have the Chinese complained about the plot-shift?

lawrence said...

pretty happy to find out you're a 24 fan...although I think seasons 2 and 3 were better then 4...oh baby and the way season 1 ended...

I agree that the writers don't make you care about the characters as much as they use to...although I think there's hope with Doyle, Morris and Nadie (I hate Wayne Palmer)...but I still haven't gotten over the fact that in a season in which both Tony and Edgar died, EDGAR got the no beeping time count and Tony didn't. That was a joke...

all this talk about plot twists got me thinking...what if God has a plot twist and it turns out you're a charismatic :-)?