February 24, 2009

Jack Bauer – A shadow of his former kick–ass self

Oh Jack Bauer, how much I loved you in the old days when you were blonde and had a daughter that kissed you goodnight and a wife who wasn’t, you know, dead.

Jack Bauer. Half the man he used to be.

I started watching Season 1 of ‘24’ again yesterday. The wave of nostalgia emanating from the TV screen was awe-inspiring. Remember the days of Standard Definition? Of dodgy sound editing? Of bad haircuts?

Remember when 24 was actually good?

The experience was depressing. Because it made me remember just how face-crunchingly abysmal 24 has become. We’re now on Season 7, and the show should be on a life-support machine.

Every plot twist is recycled from an earlier season. Even characters Just. Won’t. DIE. and keep making miraculous returns, presumably to cut down on the need for casting directors.

But worst of all, the show just doesn’t know where it’s going, what it’s doing or what it’s about.

Villains come and go faster than Jack can say ‘sonofabitch’. Their dastardly plan changes from one minute to the next. Civilians die in their hundreds and the fictional CNN seems to forget about it ten minutes later. And Jack has to defeat his arch enemy Every Fricking Hour just to keep the audience happy.

Well I’m not an American simpleton with a thirst for blood and a desire for Jack to win every round.

There is literally a scene in the first episode of that first season when a character tells Jack exactly what will happen for the whole season. Terrorists will try and kill a Presidential Candidate. That’s it.

Now, the writers would be hard pressed to sustain an idea that simple for ten minutes, let alone 24 hours.

In Season 1, Jack had a team. Yes, two of them were moles, but he had relationships with people. Now he is, to quote Judi Dench’s M, a “blunt instrument”.

24 was revolutionary, and not just because of the way it was told in real-time. It led to hundreds of drama serials which rejected the traditional one-episode, one-story format of CSI, ER and Law & Order. Lost and Prison Break were just two of the more successful attempts to tell one story across six months of television.

And it was also the show that gave us hacksaw decapitations.

24’s not just a lurking shadow of its former self.

It’s as blunt as a spoon.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Daniel1979

    Last night’s episode was dire; it seems to be getting worse and worse.

    Series one was great, admittedly they did not know how many would get made, so they seemed to work to mini conclusions every few episodes. Series 2, 4 & 5 were great.

    I am losing the will to live watching this series, and I agree they writers have lost the plot.

    24 Feb 2009, 13:57

  2. Mike Willis

    I watched the first season of 24 and thought it was great. What had happened to one character wasn’t revealed until the last minute or so of the last episode. Part way through season 2 I decided I couldn’t be bothered with it anymore and stopped watching. The blond daughter, who had been an essential integral part of the plot in season 1, spent all her screen time running from one unlikely personal crises to another and her screen time could have been removed entirely as it had no impact on anything else that was happening. The big threat was that a nuclear bomb might get set off in the middle of LA. Which was a threat so large it was just silly. There was clearly no chance of it going off since everyone in the show would have been killed as a result.

    I did have that CTU ringtone for a while though.

    24 Feb 2009, 19:48

  3. Andrew Ingram

    Except at the end of episode 4 of season 6 an bomb did go off in LA and everyone didn’t die. The blast radius of a typical nuke isn’t as much as people tend to expect.

    24 Feb 2009, 21:28

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