"24" from Fox

                   Poor Jack Bauer.  His daughter went out with some flaky guys and she's been kidnapped by terrorists who call his cell phone every five minutes with crazy demands.  His wife crashes into his heavily restricted top secret command center and goes nuts with worry.  Someone in his inner circle is a mole, is working for the "other side".  And then, who exactly IS the "Other Side"?  His smarmy bureaucrat of a boss wants him canned.  He's a rogue element, a loose cannon.  He wearS jeans when everyone else wearS jackets and ties. 
            Somewhere in the LA area there's a nuclear device ticking down to zero.  His cell phone rings.  It's an old enemy from the Balkan wars.  Is this the guy that has his daughter?  Or is this the guy who has the A-bomb?  Or maybe he has both.
            His other cell phone rings.  It's his most trusted agent, Nina.  She's doing eighty along the curving roads above L.A.  A guy in a black SUV has been tailing her.  Now he's trying to run her off the road.  "JACK!"  She screams.  The phone goes dead.
            Jack jumps up, swishes his security card through the scanner to get out of the command center of CTU, the Counter Terrorism Unit.  The door fails to open. Jack's superior has pulled the plug.  Jack can't leave and he can't use a computer. When nobody's looking he jiggers the iris-scanning-fingerprint-confirming-DNA-i.d.'ing door lock and slips away.
            His cell phone rings.  It's his daughter.  "Daddy!" she screams.  The phone goes dead.  Did he hear a bell ringing in the background during that one second phone call?  Where is that?  What time is it?  It's 0900 hours.  Yes.  Bells ring in Oxnard at 0900 every Thursday morning  at the Church of The Holy Wimple.        
            Jack phones Nina.  She has managed to send the pursuing car careening down the sides of Topanga Canyon. "It's the Church of the Holy Wimple!", Jack shouts.  "Kim's there, I know it!  Hang on, my other phone's ringing."
            Jack's down in the motor pool where he has to knock out a guard and hotwire a black Chevy Blazer.  His cell phone rings. He can't find it.  He puts  his finger in his ear.  It's not a cell phone.  It's his tinnitus.
            As he drives the illicit Blazer, the in-car TV's tuned to the news. 
            "An all points bulletin has been issued for the arrest of government agent Jack Bauer.  He is implicated in a plot to assassinate Senator Palmer.  And to blow up Los Angeles."  The building that houses the top secret CTU is shown behind the news anchorman.
            Jack curses and turns the thing off.  There's a car tailing him.  His cell phone rings.
            It's months later in real world time and the season is ending.  Thirteen episodes and twenty four hours of the same day have elapsed and Jack is wedged into a teeny ventilation shaft.  A little flashlight is in his mouth.  He's holding a wire cutter in one hand while the other steadies a briefcase holding the nuclear device.  Sweat drips from his forehead and soaks his t-shirt.  Which wire should he cut?  The red or the black?  Make the wrong choice and k-boom!  Los Angeles disappears and the world is deprived of the American movie and TV industry.  What outcome should we be rooting for?
            The TV series "24" has one pace: frantic.  It has one emotion: desperation.
It has one plot device: complications leading to ever more jeopardy. Its emotional hold over the audience is that old war-horse, the cliff-hanger.  Each episode ends as yet another complication arises, making things even crazier than before.  Jack Bauer is wanted by the FBI, the CIA, the FSB, the Mafia, Balkan hit-men and a shadowy cult group that uses darts laced with LSD and Belladonna.
            My wife and I watched a season and a half of the series.  At first it was enjoyable.  It was packed with action.  As we progressed with the show, it got tiresome.  We got bored with the endlessly frantic cell phone calls.  We were tired of the betrayals by Bauer's most trusted colleagues.  Then the un-betrayals as it turns out the said trusted colleague wasn't the REAL betrayer but had been set up to look like the real betrayer who is actually a minor functionary working for Jack's superior who's only following orders from the shadowy upper-level wing of the intelligence community that might or might not be working in the interests of its own government.
            We quit.  Call it a matter of opinion.  The show has won all the awards, it's got Emmies and Golden Globes coming out of its chromium cloaca.  Kiefer Sutherland's acting has been lauded by the Hollywood establishment.  The show was called by Empire Magazine "the sixth greatest show in television history".  Critics called its premise innovative.  It took on "issues" like torture of terrorist suspects and"explored" them.  Wooo!  Deep!  Never mind that there's a possibility that the show was a bit of propaganda launched to bolster The Bush Administration's policies.  With Fox, one never knows.  The entertainment division of the network produces some politically neutral shows and even such subversive fare as The Simpsons.
            I just don't get it.  In my opinion, "24"  sucks.
            Now, if I'm really lucky, a lot of people will get mad at me.  That's sort of unlikely because no one reads this blog except my wife and three other fans, none of whom watches television.  I don't care.  The show still sucks.

1 comment:

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