Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"I know what it's like to feel like it's never going to end.":24

Oh, me too, Jack. Me too.

Actually, I found 24 almost engaging tonight for a minute or so. When Jack was kneeling by Audrey, pledging his troth as the guys outside the room tried to cut through the door to get to them, it felt like the grand operatic 24 of old. I've never been a huge fan of the Jack/Audrey pairing, but the actors really managed to elevate the moment there, making it feel as if this was just a show about two crazy kids trying to make it in a terrorist-ridden world all along and we'd just gotten distracted by Jack hanging on to the bottom of trucks and nukes going off in Valencia and the like.

The show's just been so grim and despairing of late that it's been easy to forget what made it so damn lovable in the first place. Sure, it's always been set in a world where constant vigilance is a necessity because there are VERY BAD PEOPLE who wish to do VERY BAD THINGS to Americans, but it's also had its share of over-the-top melodramatic moments that kept the show on its own ridiculous plane. And the Jack/Audrey moment tapped in to some of that (and it did ultimately do some good as she blurted out a piece of information that would prove helpful to the CTU folks). Of course, the end of the episode brought it all crashing down again as Audrey's father (the impeccable William Devane, back from the dead and loving it) entered Jack's holding cell to remind him that everything he touches falls to ruin. "You're cursed," he told Jack, then elaborated upon this thesis by pointing out that everyone Jack cares about seems to die.

Yeah, I wouldn't want him pledging to reverse months of torture and brainwashing in my daughter either.

Anyway, I just wanted to elaborate on that moment because it's clear that the 24 writers still have some idea of how to get to these grand moments. They're just not doing a very good job of getting to them with the sort of frequency they did in seasons two or five (for my money, the show's two best) or even in the weirdly paced but insanely conceptualized season three.

The rest of the episode, as it was, so perfectly exemplified everything in the season that hasn't worked (from dull CTU plotlines to White House shenanigans that seemed tired to too little Chloe) that it's almost not worth comment, but I thought I would point out something that infrequent SDD contributor Jon pointed out to me -- this episode was really, really mean to women.

I mean, think about it. The best woman in the episode is an addled shell of her former self who only manages to be worth a damn by deciding she can trust her former lover with two syllables. Other than that, she rocks back and forth and mutters to herself. The other women in the episode ranged from heartsick ninnies (I don't know WHAT that Chloe scene was about) to bed-hopping traitors (nice knowin' ya, whalien gal!) to ineffectual bosses (sorry, Nadia; you lose!). Now, 24 has always had a variety of female characters who were, at the very least, interesting, so I don't think that this was an intentional gambit on the part of the creative team, but it was a discomfiting coincidence nonetheless.

Anyway, when I watched the "Next week on," I actually groaned when I found out there are three episodes (and four hours!) of the show left (stay strong, VanDerWerff!). At the very least, the show seems intent on making the Chinese the new politically correct villains for this sort of entertainment. Things really haven't been the same since the USSR crumbled, I guess.

As I said to Libby after watching the episode, "24 is better in every conceivable way than Heroes (by which I mean, it's better acted, better directed, better edited, etc.), but Heroes, at least, KNOWS IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY STUPID." At this point, I'm sad I decided to take this show to recap, instead of foisting it off on one of my partners in crime. Heroes is doing so well by taking a page from the old 24 playbook -- it's audacious, and it's not afraid to show it, no matter how bizarre the story turns.


Jon said...

Thanks for the shout-out. Nice to know I'm not the only one that noticed it. In the past the show has had pre-Evil Nina, Michelle or Chloe to balance out the other less-flattering women on the show, but the only one left of those three has been stuck at a desk all day. I think next season they need to keep Chloe out of CTU as much as possible, as that's where she excels, whether pumping terrorists full of lead in Suburbia or tazering drunks at hotel bars. Maybe her and Jack can drive around cities as freelance terrorist-busters?

Anonymous said...

You both are not the only one here who likes this show.Me too wait everyday to watch 24 episodes coz i never want to miss any.