Friday, October 05, 2007

I Can't Do This Anymore

24 Season 6

I think I've finally gotten a handle on the politics of 24's writers. By and large they're liberals, there's handwringing aplenty to be found in the early parts of this year's storyline about the erosion of civil liberties and the injustice of racial profiling, but they sure ain't the kind of limp wristed, pussified bleeding hearts who wouldn't take to a suspected terrorist with a hammer and a length of electrical cord if it could stop a nuclear bomb going off! Despite the often unpleasant fascination of the show with torture, earlier seasons delivered a lot of good, somewhat realistic action and a compelling plot. However after five years they seemed to have drained their small reservoir of decent ideas and season six contains little good to offset the offensively authoratarian concept behind the show.

Last year ended on a cliffhanger as our hero Jack Bauer was being shipped off to a Chinese prison. This season begins as Jack is released after two years of torture. His haggard, haunted appearance gave me hope that they had found something interesting to do with a character who had became a disturbingly fascist caricature of an action hero, and in an early scene Jack is unable to go through with the torture of a terrorist (despite the literal nuclear bomb ticking away at every ad break), turning away and saying “I can't do this anymore...” Sadly this promising direction is quickly discarded (the writers are quite open about the fact that they make the story up as they go along) and before long Jack is unhesitatingly putting the thumbscrews on to his own brother. The torture scenes are thankfully fewer in this season, between the 'torture your own brother with your dad watching' scene in this series and the 'torture your own girlfriend' scene in the last one the writers have pretty much exhausted the possibilities for pushing that envelope. Unless maybe next year Jack ends up having to torture himself.

As usual the main storyline is padded out with plenty of lame romantic and personal subplots which go nowhere and stretch believability. (Yeah, don't worry about the fact that downtown L.A. just got nuked, now is the perfect time to discuss your marital problems!) At least no one had a baby this time. Why they continue to include this crap is beyond me. Even fans of the show loathe it.

Sadly the primary plotline is not much better this year. They've done the 'swarthy terrorist with a nuke in a suitcase' angle a few times now and it's getting tired. (My suggestion for next year is Tim McVeigh style domestic terrorists. Maybe make them Christian fundies as well. That ought to push a few buttons!) The international intrigue towards the end of the season made for an improvement, but it still lacked in the execution. Frankly this season was actually quite boring to watch.

As I watched the show I noted down a list of specific good and bad things that I noticed. There turned out to be quite a few of them and I'm lazy so I've just put them into a pair of bullet pointed lists. Beware of spoilers:

Bad things:
  • They can't be bothered with a scene of Jack explaining to everyone how he escaped from the terrorists but this is supposed to be in real time so when he shows up everyone just says “Oh hey Jack, good to see you escaped certain death”. It seems more than a little cavalier after the tearful goodbyes when they sent him off to die.
  • It's going to be hard to top this season next year in the death and destruction stakes, considering that four episodes in they nuke L.A.
  • Jack pronounces nuclear 'noocular'.
  • “Send them back to CTU, they'll be safe there.” Yeah right, over the last six years the only place less safe has been standing next to the president.
  • America would never elect a president so bad at reciting dramatic speeches.
  • They've more or less stopped caring about the real-time gimmick that originally was such a big deal about this show. The only time I noticed it this year was when I realised that two characters must have been fucking for forty minutes.
  • I'm always a little disappointed at the lack of motivations in the terrorists. They're always one dimensional 'We hate America! Bwahahahaha!' types. A little more detail could make things so much more interesting.
  • Funny how an explosion will knock over a bad guy ten minutes away but not a CTU agent just round the corner.
  • If I was as unhelpful and obstructive at my work as the people at the counter terrorist unit are I'd be fired within a week.
  • The country that the terrorists come from is never named (leading to stupid things like the President saying “Get me the ambassador for Assad's country”). I think we can safely assume they came from Dukkadukkastan.
  • The terrorists' plan relies on the US president being a fucking idiot and lashing out at Middle Eastern countries more or less at random. Plot twists pulled straight from today's headlines!
  • Poor Jack. No sooner does he defeat the terrorist boss in hand to hand combat and retrieves the nuclear bombs, but he barely has time to make a sigh of relief before the Chinese bad guy rings up and informs him that they've kidnapped his girlfriend.
  • Jack becomes a suicide bomber!
  • Jack is the only person alive who can overhear cellphone conversations.
  • Obligatory computer nerd angst: The autistic guy who can hack into anything. Uh, I don't think that's how computers or autism work...
  • The writers seem to have a bit of a virgin/whore complex. Every woman who has sex on the show invariably turns out to be evil.
  • They blew some guy's face off just so he could come back next season with an eyepatch.

Good things:
  • The chick who plays Nadia is hot.
  • That's it.

And yet despite all that bullshit, I have a disturbing feeling that I will watch it again next year...

1 comment:

Joel said...

Hahaha, I got a chuckle out of your comment on Jack torturing himself... thanks!