Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Is 24 really slipping?

In this post, I rant about one particular form of once-innovative communication: the Fox TV show, 24.

This latest season of 24, which probably was hyped more before its launch at the end of January than any other season, just doesn’t measure up to expectations --- expectations that were, for me, created by the previous seasons.

The first few episodes were great: lots of action, lots of tension. Jack’s condition on his release from prison in China, and his new persona, added a lot of depth to the character and the show, as did his necessary killing of Curtis, much as I’ll miss him. Detonating a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles (or just outside it, whatever) was unexpected. But after those first few episodes, the season’s premise became very repetitive: the terrorists’ nuclear threat, the White House palace conspiracy to replace the President with the more hawkish Vice President, and of course Jack’s having to work against CTU and the White House. It’s been done before --- even last season, when Jack brought down the President more or less single-handed.

The timing issue, always a weakness in the show, has become a problem that threatens to engulf the whole plot. Yes, the “real time” idea that is the basis for the show and creates the tension and the action, is a great innovation. But from the beginning, it’s required the suspension of a great deal of disbelief when characters can drive across Los Angeles during a four- to seven-minute commercial break. This season, far too much is happening in less than a day: within a few hours, the President is severely injured in a bomb attack, placed in a coma by his doctor, is revived to put down a palace coup, then suffers another stroke. Government policy reverses three times within, what, six hours? Anyone with any experience with any government knows that’s not fiction, not even fantasy; that’s so far out of possibility, it’s complete raving lunacy.

Last night (April 30), “between the hours of one a.m. and two a.m.,” showed an even greater error: just before the commercial break at around “1:30” or so, Lisa Miller falls into bed with her lover, and they’re done and cuddling when the commercial’s over four minutes later. Sex in four minutes, including disrobing and putting on a silky housecoat? There are quickies and quickies, but give the girl some chance for satisfaction, will you, Keifer?

The biggest problem, though, is the forced return of Audrey Raines, played by the awful Kim Raver. I’ve never been a fan of this love interest; she’s not a very interesting actress, nor is she much to look at. So what’s the purpose of keeping her on this show? After hanging around with no purpose last season, she was given her own show, The Nine, last fall. That show flopped, and within a couple of months, surprise! here she is on 24 again.

It’s obvious that Audrey’s return is an afterthought. A series like 24 develops a pace, a rhythm, and three weeks ago, when Jack finally caught and killed Fayed, the ending of that plotline seemed rushed. And it was, truncated so that the show’s final seven hours could be all about Audrey.

Now, the plot has spun into a completely different direction: saving Audrey and getting back the “component” from the Chinese in order to stave off World War Three. What happened to Jack’s father, sister-in-law and nephew? That looked like an interesting possibility, particularly since there had been some romantic relationship between Jack and Marilyn, his sister-in-law, and strong hints that Josh might be Jack’s son. And Marilyn, played by Rena Saufer, is certainly more attractive than Kim Raver. Exploring their history and relationship would have been much more interesting and provided a lot more depth to Jack’s character than telling us more about Audrey.

What do you think? Are there any 24 fans there? Are you impressed with this season?

Any Kim Raver fans? Can you explain the appeal?