Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Now we exposed! Russia is exposed!": 24

Man, remember when the Russians weren't our allies and we could say whatever we wanted about them in our popular entertainment?

Well, 24 has gotten around that, and easily the best thing about this episode was all of the wacky antics at the Russian consulate. Never mind that it's probably a bad idea for Jack to be invading yet another country's consulate (after the same actions landed him in Chinese prison). What this episode is really about is the ridiculous accents on the actors playing the Russians (and speaking in English for our benefit) and Kiefer Sutherland barking out what a Russian speaker assures me is a bunch of Russian-sounding syllables that don't mean anything. Glasnost!

You see, the Russians have provided the Arab terrorists with their nuclear weapons, and now, they're helping the Arabs launch attacks against the United States. Why? I guess they're nostalgic for the Cold War too. Or something. 24 has never made sense, but it's never made as little sense as it does this season.

Still, this episode was probably an improvement on the last few weeks. It was more about running and gunning than secret White House politics or navigating the icy waters of CTU or anything like that. Even as it becomes more and more apparent that this season is made up of the bits and pieces of previous seasons that worked (a nuclear explosion here, a consulate invasion there), Kiefer Sutherland really digs in and invests the various adventures of Jack with more and more gravitas and you sort of just go with it. Even the torturing, which has become almost perfunctory, was sort of good because Sutherland really made you feel like he was chopping a Russian's fingers off.

Look, 24 is a shadow of its former self at this point in time. It's even a shadow of what it was at the start of the season. And it's become clear that this is another season that won't ever quite redeem itself (the last, though, was season three, which righted itself in the last eight hours after the virus escaped and it almost became a horror movie). Part of the problem is that the show doesn't have any fallback characters anymore (I know I keep complaining about this, but it's true). The best fallback character they have -- ex-President Logan -- is hanging out with Jack. While Sutherland and Gregory Itzin have great chemistry, I would rather see Logan hanging out with the bad guys or trying to apologize to Bill Buchanan (mostly wasted) or something.

But, hey, there are a lot of great guest stars strutting around and delivering important-sounding dialogue! Kari Matchett (late of Invasion and icy blonde hot) was there, and so was Chad Lowe! And Bob Gunton! I mean, you could just take the 24 guest cast from this season and turn it into some sort of halfway watchable family soap.

Finally, there's Powers Boothe. I doubt that anyone would believe for a second that this vice president wasn't EEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVIIIILLL (in addition to my doubts that he would somehow end up on a ticket with President Palmer), but Boothe is an old-school scenery chewer, and it's fun to just watch him chow down.

So we're at the halfway point now, and deep in the thick of the middle third of the season, when things usually start to just get made up as the writers go along. Do you think this season can be saved, or are you just watching for the Kief's bad Russian like I am?

1 comment:

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I forgot to mention the awesomest part of this episode, which was Tom Lennox completely changing sides and motivations at the whims of the plot.