Wednesday, January 28, 2009

24: 6 Hours In

Our snazzy new "More/Hide" tag brings all sorts of advantages to the FO readership — not the least of which is our ability to discuss and dissect TV shows and movies, without "spoiling" them for the delinquents who haven't seen them yet. With that in mind, I find that we're 1/4 of the way through the 2009 iteration of that simultaneously most compelling and ridiculous of television serials, 24. Let's jump over to the other side of that "More" tag and talk through some of the developments:
*The FBI is a joke. A pack of mercenaries make off with one of their agents in a day-glo yellow van outside a listed safe house in the middle of the day, and the feds lose the trail. The Wife wants to know if, along with CTU, the government shut down all the satellite tracking equipment that was used to such great effect in the prior five seasons.

*If it's not well-known already that this show is produced by a right-wing nut job — Justice Scalia likes to consider 24 scenarios when he discusses U.S. torture policy — this much ought to be clear enough after the show spent three hours lecturing the audience about how important torture and abuse are as investigative tools. Compare the folks at the erstwhile CTU, who knocked heads and got results, with their counterparts at the FBI, who don't — and don't. And yet wouldn't it be an interesting plot twist if just once a roughed-up detainee gave Jack Bauer false information?

*As often as they bring him back into The Game, and as trite as it becomes with each repetition, my heart always leaps at the first sight of Tony Almeida. I think that's because the characters in this show are usually so godawful, and the turnover is so high from one season to the next. Tuning in at the beginning of a 24 season is like walking into your high school reunion. You look around desperately for someone you can stand: Chloe! Bill! Thank God you're here! You look — uh — terrific! What have you been up to? Running your own offline underground counter-terrorist ops! Wow, sounds heavy. I'm a lawyer now.

*It looks like the government not only shut down CTU and put Bill Buchanan out of work — they took his suit away and condemned him to wander the landscape in a black turtleneck right out of a Playbill headshot. This is why the agencies don't have Casual Fridays.

*Worst Ever Revelation of an Uninteresting Plot "Twist": Back at HQ, one federal analyst says to another, "I can't stop thinking about last night." That's classic 24 right there.

*What percentage of 24's viewership knows that Sangala is not actually a country in Africa? I put the over-under at 35, and my money has a certain gubernatorial firecracker in Alaska on the wrong side of the dividing line. Cracks me up that they're always going out of their way to serve up these fictional enemy nations — we won't associate our Arab/African terrorists with a particular nation-state, because we don't want to offend anyone — then they have the Chinese swoop down out of nowhere to kidnap Jack. You know, because the Chinese have such a sense of humor about these things.

*What do you say to a woman who confronts you after you put a sleeper hold on her in her office, left her unconscious, and then, after she woke up and tracked you down, you marched her out to a ditch and staged her execution-style killing, grazing a bullet off her neck, then threw a plastic tarp over her head and buried her alive? This was a great dramatic moment, and I don't think the writers took full advantage of it. My choice for an ice-breaker here: "Altoid?" That's a product placement opportunity, too.

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