Monday, April 20, 2009
24: Back in the Saddle
I first started watching 24, the show that features the wildly violent and incredibly entertaining escapades of Jack Bauer as he strives to thwart terrorists, three years ago at the start of Season Five (a.k.a. Day Five). I liked it immediately and posted my impressions at the start of that season, but never mentioned that I became steadily more hooked as it went along. By the end of the season I was madly in love with 24; it's the first time I ever watched an entire season of any show without missing an episode. A lot of that was due to the fantastic acting of the guest stars that season, including Sean Astin and Peter Weller, but most especially the duo of Jean Smart and Gregory Itzin, who played President and Mrs. Logan. In all honesty, I've never seen better acting on television. Smart and Itzin were both nominated for Emmys but, sadly, did not win (I maintain they were robbed).
Then came Day Six. It was awful, probably the biggest disappointment of any season of the show from what I've read on the TWOP boards. Nevertheless I kept watching, due to sheer determination I suppose - plus Keifer Sutherland does a consistently great job as Jack Bauer.
Day Seven was delayed for a year due to the writers' strike but has been worth waiting for. It isn't any more realistic than last season was - a major plot point involved a takeover of the White House by a dozen terrorist frogmen who swim from the Potomac and drill their way into the basement of the White House! But the characterization has been better all around, and the plot has been a lot tighter. The idea of getting rid of the CTU, Jack's former employer, and moving the action to the FBI actually worked, not least because it turned Jack and his former CTU compatriots into a plucky group of outsiders fighting pervasive corruption in the government. Also, the actress (Cherry Jones) playing the President this time is a heck of a lot better than whiny Wayne Palmer was last season. She was clearly pitched as a Hillary Clinton lookalike but has grown into the role really well. I always enjoy the scenes in which she faces down the (all-male) joint Chiefs of Staff. I was looking forward to watching Colm Feore as her husband, but sadly he wasn't given much to do as First Gentleman. Currently his character is recovering in the hospital after being kidnapped, tortured and shot. All sorts of lousy things happen to the characters on this show!
The writers wound up going back to the tried-and-true and recycling a lot of plot points from previous seasons, but I don't care. Even the creaky device of bringing a major character (Tony Almeida) back from the dead worked, once you get past the initial ridiculousness of it. This is due to the great chemistry between Sutherland and Carlos Bernard. What I can't wait for is the showdown between Jack and Tony, now that we've learned that Tony's a bad guy - as revealed at the end of the last episode when he murdered an FBI agent. Yes, Tony's not only Zombie Tony, he's Evil Zombie Tony! You can't beat that. And Glenn Morshower, as retired Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce, was brought back and has made a solid contribution this season. Since all the other agents seem to be either incompetent or corrupt, I applauded the good sense of the President's daughter (she pulled him out of retirement to protect her). I'm hoping to see more of Aaron in the last several episodes.
I know this recap makes the show sound ridiculous, but you can't really criticize 24 for that. By which I mean not that it's above criticism, but that critiquing it is a pointless exercise. You're either caught up in the plot twists and wondering what's going to happen next, or it doesn't grip you at all.
Lastly, I'm including a hilarious video made by a fan who decided to see how 24 would work as a silent movie. The captions are great: take a look.
Labels: Pop Culture