Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Beep. BEEP! Beep. BEEP!

Thoughts on 24

• I loved the fact that Wayne Palmer is now president. I thought they were going to use that creepy vice president from last season, but Wayne Palmer is definitely great in that role. I guess President Weenie is currently trying not to drop the soap.

• I can't decide whether I like Chloe's new hair color. I think I do actually. And isn't that guy of hers a little out of her league? Poor Edgar.

• Where the hell do I know Mylo from? He was in another season, but which one?

• I get the feeling that this is gonna be one those slow to start seasons. Sort of like Season 1, where at first things are kind of slow, and then you get to the 5th episode and something happens that changes everything . And then you're like, "Wow!" And you can't wait until next Monday at 8/7c.

• Was it just me, or did the "Viewer Discretion IS Advised" guy get a little more into his role than usual?

• During the show, I found myself mordibly wondering just when suicide, er, homicide bombers (stupid Fox) were going to actually start blowing things up over here. Then I got freaked out.

• The whole "Jack can't DO this anymore!" theme is similar to Matt’s idea for an evil Jack Bauer coming back from China: sort of creates a conflict between Jack and himself, just in a different way.

• What is it about weasely presidential advisers that makes them so...weasely. Is the weasely presidential adviser the "new" mole in CTU?

• That First Sister is getting annoying. She reminds of every Michigan campus activist.

• Chloe's a playa!

• Yay! They nuked Los Angeles. Now they'll have to move CTU to SOME OTHER CITY.

My thoughts upon watching the first four hours of 24 can be summed up in one word: Facsimile. It seems like I've seen all of this before. I have, of course -- there was a nuclear bomb dropped in one of the previous seasons of 24; of course, it exploded harmlessly in the desert. (Note: Did they really nuke LA? They nuked Ventura. A quick Wikipedia search shows a population in Ventura of just over 100,000, with -- more importantly -- a population density of about 4,800 per square mile. Eek! Lots of dead people! And Jack saw the mushroom cloud from just a few miles away, and felt the blast on his face -- will he soon suffer from radiation poisoning?)

Plot speculation aside, after watching so many seasons of this show, I can't help but compare this season to the other ones, and it just seems kind of boring in comparison. Even in other seasons where it started off slowly, at least there was a good reason: building character. We were learning about Jack's family. We were seeing real relationships develop, and learning about these people, and so we were that much more disturbed when those people were held hostage / killed / blown up / infected with a virus that caused their insides to melt / etc. In contrast, the pacing in this season seems slow, but we're NOT really building characters that seem true and multifaceted and all that; we're building characters that seem very one-dimensional. Let's go through it:

• President: Wants to do the right thing, but lacks the gravitas and charisma of his dead ex-president older brother. How he ever became president is anyone's guess.

• President's wily adviser: He's basically the same exact character as the scowling Dick-Cheney-esque vice president from last year, although younger and with more hair. We always know what he's going to say. "I strongly disagree, Mister President. These people are bent on destroying us. We can't negotiate with them." Etc etc.

• President's annoying sister: Talk about a flashback. You're right -- this is a University of Michigan activist incarnate. My favorite line last night was when she talked about how the U.S. is based on freedom and the rule of law and individual liberties, and evil presidential adviser responded, "I agree! That would make a great law review article."

• Family taken hostage by Kumar Goes to White Castle Boy: We've seen this all before, but BETTER. The hostage boy was not memorable at all. The mom was cookie-cutter. The dad, well it was admittedly pretty neat when he killed the bad guy by hitting him with a lamp and smashing his head against the floor several times ("Just TAKE the MONEY!"), but that's about it, and what does it matter now? He went boom.

• Chloe's new boytoy: Were the writers smoking crack? Sure, this show is pretty tense, and sure, some comic relief would help, but this guy is a joke. And the scenes between him, Chloe, and Chloe's old fling are ludicrous. They feel as though they were written by a high school student.

• Curtis: What happened to Curtis?! In past seasons, he seemed far more three-dimensional. But from the beginning hour on Sunday night, he was just fuming about Assad. I know, I know, Assad did some bad stuff. But that's not Curtis. It seemed like a total change from the character we had come to know and admire. And the Curtis death scene was almost silly. Curtis is a smart guy: If he wanted to kill Assad, he would have first pretended to drive him back to CTU, but then pulled off somewhere and shot him. He wouldn't have pushed Assad up against the car with a chokehold, and talked about his intention to shoot Assad for 2 minutes, while trusty Jack Bauer was standing RIGHT THERE, for God's sake!

Jack Bauer seems to be the only character with depth. The "I can’t DO this anymore" line (repeated at least twice over the past couple days) is nice, but I was hoping there would be more visible results from the 20 months in the Chinese prison. Of course, the season has just begun and hopefully more will come of this, but I was really hoping for a brainwashed Evil Jack plotline. Kind of like the upcoming Spider-Man 3, in which Peter Parker's costume turns black, as does his soul!

So, basically, it seems to me that I've seen all of this before, except it was better in the past. That said, I wonder if I would enjoy this season more had I not just seen the DVDs of five other seasons in a row. However, Season 4 was the first one I saw, and then I went and saw Season 1 on DVD, and Season 1 was far better -- so maybe it doesn't matter if I have seen other seasons before. Maybe good writing will shine through no matter what, and maybe Season 6 suffers from a dearth of good writing.

PS -- Did you see the preview for next week? They were questioning the Illuminati guy from last season! Finally, some plot threads *might* be tied up!

A lot of it is due to the Law of Diminishing Returns, and how the show becomes far less cool once you've seen all the badass things Jack Bauer can do. Granted, seeing Jack kill a man by ripping into his jugular, much like a bear or a wolf, was pretty darn cool, but still, we've seen Jack try and save a guy on an operating table, and come back from the dead three times, and so it doesn't surprise us so much that Jack is in fact a werewolf.
Still, while it would seem cooler if we hadn't seen the other seasons, it still wouldn't be AS good as the older seasons, which were just put together better.
And yes, it appears that Illuminati Guy's uppance is about to come!

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