24 Hours with the Right Bauer

We are 14 hours into the eighth season of what has to be my hands down favourate show on television: 24. Now, it’s easy to criticize 24, the predictable nature, the reused plot lines, the blatant fan service, but I personally don’t care, because all I see is some kick-ass action set against a backdrop of awesome. I remember when 24 first premiered, I thought it was stupid. “Jack Bauer has 24 hours to stop a murder, and save his family,” the promo went. I thought, “Okay, that’s the first episode, then what?” Because I was not used to the idea of real time, most TV shows tend to cover a day or a week in one episode, and I had no reason to suspect 24 was any different. In fact I remember an episode of ER when one character said they had five minutes to do something, and I started timing it…ten minutes later I’m like “what the fuck!?” It pissed me off at the time, so when my mom mentioned 24 was in real time, I was like, “Son of a bitch! When’s it on!?” And I’ve been hooked ever since.

But as I said, it’s easy to criticize, and this season is susceptible to it more than any other, specifically with the reusing of plot-lines, the only thing that has really changed is the location (see Day 7). The threat in the early episodes was the assassination of a major political figure (see Day 1), then it quickly shifted to the acquisition of nuclear materials which can easily be converted into a bomb (Day 2, 4 and 6). Then there’s the past three episodes where we see the terrorist give the president an “out” by making certain demands, (Day 3, 5 and 7) the president is betrayed by someone within his/her administration, (Day 2, 5 and 7) a mole is revealed in CTU (Day 1, 4, 5 and 7 (FBI counts)) and an attack is made on CTU (Day 2, 5 and 6). I assume this all means they are running out of ideas, or this season is meant to be a greatest hits package because as sad as it is for me to say this, this might be the last season of 24.

It’s okay, let the tears out, it’ll be all right. But it had a good run: eight seasons, few series can boast that much longevity. Also, as I said, they’re running out of ideas, so it’s not such a bad idea to end it now. You know, before it get’s really bad. But 24’s plot-lines weren’t always this predictable, hell I would argue they still aren’t predictable, however I did expect one thing to happen in the next episode that apparently will happen according to the next episode’s previews. But I digress. In season one no one could argue that the plot wasn’t unpredictable, the only thing we knew for certain was we had a total of 24 episodes and the story would not end earlier than that. The near misses, the tight situations, the twists, the turns, the new settings, the new scenarios, the terrorists overall plan revealing itself, and finally the final major twist of a main character being revealed as a secret bad guy who kills another main character. Anyone who expected that is a fucking lier.

Then season two happened, and the writers knew the only way to top season one would be to increase the possible death toll with the possibility of a giant nuclear fucking bomb blowing the shit out of LA with an estimated death toll of 2.5 million.

HOLY THEORETICAL SHIT!!!

Yeah, hiding under your desk won’t save you from this one. It became more desperate, because more was at stake. But this ended up biting the writers in the ass as they tried to one up for future seasons. How do you one up a fucking Nuke!? A bigger nuke? No? How about a highly contagious weaponized virus, one that can still be a threat days, even weeks after the initial attack, and can spread across the entire country faster than the Macarena? Yeah, that’ll work for season three, let’s do that!

Then season four came along and my only thought was the writers had no idea what they were doing. First, the Secretary of Defense is kidnapped, and his execution/assassination is about to be broadcast over the internet. OH, what a great idea, don’t try to top last season, bring it back to what initially made the show awesome back in season one! But NO! That was just a ruse to bring down some internet firewalls so they could hack into some nuclear power plants to get them to melt down! Okay, that’s a plausible threat. But NO! That was just a trick to get the President to keep Air Force One in the air so they could steal a stealth plane and shoot it down! Oh, that was the final plot, well it’s effective. But NO! That was just the only way they could get their hands on the nuclear football, from the wreckage of Air Force One, which they would use to hijack an American nuclear warhead. Son of a Bitch!! Where did the terrorists get this plan? Rube Goldberg? It’s like they just kept throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks.

So I guess I’m just tearing apart each season as they come…so that leaves season five. It seems they wanted to try to no longer one up the previous season, and simply try to get this season to stand on it’s own. It opened with a bit of Rube Goldberg dyslexia, beginning by terrorists killing former President Palmer because he was the only one who knew what was going on, then attacking Ontario airport to cover up the smuggling of 20 canisters of nerve gas, which thankfully remains the primary threat for the remaining 20 episodes. Nothing too crazy after that, oh, except for the revelation of the status of the President of the United States, Charles Logan, as a bad guy. Yeah, the show wasn’t predictable then was it? That was definitely something new. Though there is one problem with this plot point. Since Logan was introduced he was portrayed as somewhat of an idiot, awkward, cowardly, not sure what to do, and terrible at crises, which, even if you ignore the whole treason thing, is why he was the worst President on the show. Then, all of a sudden at the end of episode 16, he’s a brilliant criminal mastermind capable of acts of unspeakable evil. Are we sure this is the same person?

Then season six, which I think had the best plot twist of the series, the destruction of a fucking city.

HOLY ACTUAL SHIT!!!

Twelve thousand dead, and the season hasn’t even really started yet. That was episode four, part of the season premiere. I remember news stories at the time asking: “Has 24 gone too far?” What does that even mean? Have they gone too far by showing a storyline where thousands die, on a show about terrorism, with terrorists who occasionally succeed? What? Too shocking? You think some terrorist would watch that and go, “Holy shit! What a great idea!”? I think they might have already come up with that idea on more than one occasion, it’s not exactly original. Or do you think it will scare the shit out of the public and induce paranoia and panic? Well I think most people can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Silly me. But in my view that was the biggest twist they could have introduced, never before has a terrorist been that successful on the show. They were always stopped at the last minute. Not this time. This time they succeeded, and it turned what had become a pretty predictable show into a show that made you think, “Holy shit, what were they going to do next!?” Now it’s true in the past they were never opposed to doing what would be considered shocking on other shows, like killing off main characters, but the death toll had always remained relatively low on 24, until then. Twelve thousand dead and they’re just getting started. To me, that was the highlight of season six.

Season seven pissed me off because it was delayed a year. We received trailers for the new season a year earlier than the season began because of the goddamn writers strike. Fuckers. But! We did get a two hour 24 movie out of it which expanded the season seven story line, so I guess it’s a good compromise. Season seven’s threat was this douchebag who tried to stage a coup d’état in his homeland and, two months later, is trying to prevent the US from staging another coup d’état (how dare they!) to return the nation back to it’s democratically elected leader. It’s insane. Then we find out the real threat is a Private Military Contractor with a biological weapon. Well we all hate Private Military Contractors so it works.

But what really blows my mind is Tony Almeida, for the first four seasons he was a good guy. Sometimes he was a jackass, sometimes he made a bad move, but overall he was a good guy. Then in season five his wife dies, he nearly dies and is hospitalized at CTU (which apparently doubles as a hospital), wakes up, tries to kill a guy and ends up dead himself, then we discover two-no three years later he wasn’t really dead. Well he was for ten minutes, until a mercenary was able to revive him and hired him to be a bad guy. Then it turns out he wasn’t a bad guy, he was just faking to try and uncover a series of moles within the government. Then, near the end we discover, no he is a bad guy and he was just playing everybody to get to the guy who was behind his wife’s death in season 5. No, not Christopher Henderson, who ordered the hit and died in season five, and no, not Charles Logan, who authorized the hit and has been placed under house arrest since season five, but a third guy we never met before who’s existence fills no plot holes and who seems to only exist to give Tony a reason to be a bastard for the final six episodes.

My favourite part was the siege on the White House. See! Nothing and no one is safe, bitch! New ideas for these terrorist attacks is really what the writers should focus on.

Also, I liked how they decided to make Jack a victim. Make the terrorists hurt him. Show us the man is not invincible. It always strains credulity when they have a character who comes close to death several times and comes out the other side smiling. True, in season two they ended with him in the hospital after having a heart attack, but other than that he has never been that vulnerable. I actually thought he might not make it. Thankfully Kim came to save the day and bring her dad back for season eight.

Ah, the last season, though I did hear NBC was looking to pick it up. So far it’s looking good, new setting, new characters. I’m still waiting for Aaron Pierce to make an appearance as he’s had in every other season. I’m glad they brought in a new CTU with a new look. Even though it’s still quite similar to the LA CTU, the only change being the colour and the logo. The change from blue to orange kinda makes me flashback to Portal (one portal is blue, the other is orange). I actually liked the old logo, looked more like the logo of a US Government agency, circular with an eagle in the middle, because you know how much America loves eagles. The last episode ended pretty…well endy. The dirty bomb will go off in 15 minutes unless CTU stops it, and if they do stop it, what’s next? We got 10 hours left. Should be interesting. I do expect President Hassan to turn himself in to the terrorists to save New York, he’s nice like that, and as I mentioned earlier, it seems the previews confirm this.

Oh, and Dana Walsh get’s caught as the mole. Huh, I thought that would happen last episode.

So here’s to the final 10 episodes living up to their legacy, and here’s to the 24 movie, which I hope will be good, even though it’s only two hours…three? Let’s hope.

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