Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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TV O.D. : The First 1/6 of 24 (’07 Edition)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on January 16, 2007

It’s somewhat hard to imagine what a new year would be like without a new season of 24. Luckily, as there are probably no shows on TV right now as pleasurably and reliably formulaic as 24, it doesn’t seem like a problem I should have to deal with in this lifetime. Even if you missed it, you don’t need me to tell you what happened in the first four hours of this season–Jack gets brought out of retirement for one last job, the President worries about making the best decision between two seemingly unchoosable options, there are power struggles and inter-office grudges at CTU, and an underground-lurking cell of ethnically non-specific terrorists looking to Blow Up Everything Because America is Bad (and another unit working undercover in the suburbs to show how near to us the threat really is), and the consequent racial fallout where the Government needs to decide whether to protect the basic safety or the constitutional freedom of its citizens.

So, yeah, it’s a new season of 24. Rather than go into plot specifics, I’m just gonna break down the little things different about this season so far.

The Good:

  • The apparently now standard format of presenting the show’s first four hours over two nights. Anyone who’s ever waited seven months for a new season of 24 knows that the first fix is never enough, but four hours in two days is just about the closest thing possible.
  • Alexander Siddig (Prince Nasir in Syriana) as reformed terrorist Hamri Al-Assad, essentially the Middle-Eastern Jack Bauer. Watching him out-Jack Jack in a second-hour torture scene was definitely one of the show’s high points thusfar.
  • Jack ripping out a guy’s jugular using just his teeth. And we’re supposed to believe the Chinese actually kept this guy detained for a year and a half??
  • The bomb actually going off at the end of Episode Four, presumably killing a whole bunch of people. 24 has always seemed sort of hesitant to take that plunge, so its good to see them go for it for once.
  • The appearance of this guy:

Classes up anything he touches.

The Bad:

  • A de-weirdified Chloe. I mean, yeah, she’s still got the shifty eyes, and she made at least one great comment so far (“Hey Chloe, can you do [techy task]?” “Oh, you mean like I’m already doing?”) but now she’s well dressed, romantically involved, and just kinda…normal. It’s times like this we wish Edgar were still with us to remind her of her awkward, difficult, sexually enigmatic roots.
  • Another Republican, possibly evil male vs. Liberal, good-hearted female advisor battle in the White House. One part of the 24 formula I could really do without.
  • Death of Curtis Manning, under fairly unnecessary circumstances. The dude was the most solid CTU worker since Tony Almeda, and he deserved a more deserved (or at least more ceremonious) death than he got here.
  • No sign yet of . I mean, it only took her two seasons to transition from mallrat teen to CTU techie, by now she could be the world’s hottest forensics expert or brain surgeon or something.

The Questionable:

  • Dwayne Palmer as President. Has potential, but seems to lack David/Dennis’s strength or leadership, and I don’t want to see an entire season of him having crises of conscience and second-guessing his decisions.
  • The return of Chloe’s ex-husband and current boyfriend Morris O’Brian. I don’t like what he’s doing to Chloe’s character, but he seems like he could inject some humor and sarcasm into CTU’s deathly serious goings on.
  • A still-shellshocked Jack, breaking down and crying at the end of Ep 4. True, in reality there’s no way Jack could be up to snuff after a year and a half of brutal imprisonment, but no one’s watching 24 for the reality, and this is Jack Bauer we’re talking about here–sure, we can be reminded that he’s human every now and then, but to 21st century viewing audiences, Jack is Superman, Batman and James Bond rolled into one. Human is OK, but vulnerable or weak…that could be sort of hard to accept.

So far, so good.

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