March 16, 2009
I'll admit it, 24 is good again
Every year I watch 24. Every year I complain about how contrived and moronic the storylines are, and wonder why the producers don't ditch the inevitable tedious family drama thread that almost sucks the life out of every season and stick to Kiefer saving the world.
This year I've held off passing judgment, though I was pretty excited about the themes at the center of this season that were introduced right at the start of the first episode: is this show an exploration of the moral murkiness around how to get information during a national security crisis, or an apology for the Bush administration's loosey-goosey approach to torture?
I watched the last three episodes back to back last night, and they were some of the best episodes of 24, ever. Starting with Episode 11 and Agent Walker pursuing General Juma and his soldiers and fearlessly jumping their boat as it cruised off into the Potomac, then the scuba-diving break-in into the White House, and the long siege, the standoff, and the final big explosion--this is the kind of creative and suspenseful action that the show is so good at. Great stuff.
For all its clumsy handling of the family drama story that drags through every season, the emotional aspects of the action sequences are almost always really good. I loved the little arc that started with Kiefer holding Bill Buchanan at gunpoint and knocking him out via sleeper hold, and ended with Bill setting off an explosion in a room Kiefer had filled with CH4 (which is methane--that must have been one stinky White House foyer) and dying in the process. Losing Bill Buchanan was the sad, sucker-punch death of the season, especially with those cherubic white ringlets he's been wearing this year.
I also love the Janice/Chloe socially-deficient computer girl showdowns that have been building over the past few episodes. When Chloe gets out of detention, there's going to be hell to pay for Janeane Garofalo.
A few other things: I'm getting sick of Kiefer getting taken into custody and then released back into service when a new emergency rises every single episode. We get that he's a more controversial figure than ever this season, but it's getting really silly.
Is the show ever going to make good on the creepy insinuations that have been lurking around the edges about the President's chief advisor Ethan Kanin? That guy has been sneaking around suspiciously all season, and I wonder if it's going to go anywhere or if the actor is just a natural conniver.
Also, FBI Agent Larry Moss is a big enough character that he should have personality traits beyond just doubting every single thing Kiefer does. The endless bickering between Agents Moss and Walker about Kiefer is especially unnecessary because the audience already knows the central tenet of the show: Kiefer is always right, making all their fights pointless because Moss is always wrong.
I guess the second half of the season will center on Kiefer getting closer to the evil businessman behind it all, Jon Voight, and eventually wasting him. Hope they can keep the momentum up that long.
You can watch the last 5 episodes on the Fox website.
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