One of my regular readers Yoni sent me a link to this pretty funny article. I’ve complained about this show enough and this article echos my belief that the show this season was as flawed as previous seasons but that up to now people were willing to endure the silliness. While I write tonight I actually am watching the finale of this season which truly is silly. Does anyone care if Jack’s nephew gets killed, Ricky Schroder gets blinded, Chloe gets tired, the Buchanans get fired or even if Russia goes to war with the US? Enough ranting though, check out the article. It’s good for a laugh.
If you’re a 24 fan and expecting this to be a positive review of the 24’s sixth season you’re going to be disappointed. I completely agree with the critics pretty much uniformly awful reviews of the current season. What I’m shocked at is that the critics seem surprised that they dislike the show this season. I don’t understand why they seem to view last season as brilliant and this season as terrible. It’s pretty much the same show it’s been for the last 5 seasons – nothing has changed.
Take this excerpt from a recent review from Entertainment Weekly which gives the show a C:
Over five seasons, Sutherland and co-creators Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran have taught us how to watch 24, and cracking the narrative code has decreased the pleasure. We’ve come to expect, for example, that the first few weeks will be spent setting up an overarching theme and putting some new characters in danger whom we’ll never see past, say, hour 5. We’ve learned that any government-position character who spends the first quarter-season looking evil will prove merely misguided if not downright heroic (in day 6, that may be Peter MacNicol’s Tom Lennox). We know from experience that the Big Theme will take a Big Twist about halfway through the ”day” — suitcase nukes, meet hostage Audrey — and that as the hours dwindle down, Jack will both go rogue and depend on CTU skill (read: Chloe) to help him save the, um, day.
I don’t know, it didn’t take me 5 seasons to recognize the patterns and let’s be frank – the repetitive, hokey dialogue, the carboard characters, the “now we have them, now we don’t” with the bad guys, the red shirts who always get killed and the now cliched killing of main characters every few episodes. Not sure why this is such a shock for the critics who presumably have been watching all along.
I know what you’re going to say. “If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it” and you’re right. If there weren’t only a few episodes left I would quit. As it is I watch the show on the PVR usually days after it’s aired and I end up fast forwarding through a good chunk. Next season I’m going to take your advice.
This week has been a little crazy for me and I haven’t had much time to write so I’m going to instead give some quick hits on what I’ve watched and what I thought.
24 – That’s it. Despite writing last week that I was likely going to stick it out for the last few episodes of the season after this week’s borefest I’m done. There is nothing redeeming remaining about this show and there are enough good shows to watch that I don’t have to distract myself with this crap. Avi’s Episode Rating: C-
Heroes – The reason I don’t feel a need to waste cycles on 24. After way too long a hiatus (that felt even longer because of the amazing previews) Heroes finally returned with death, action, answers and another crazy cliffhanger. As a comic geek I have to admit that I let out a “cool” when I heard Linderman give us his Watchman-esque plan to save the world. I followed that with a “wow” as Linderman and Mrs. Petrelli alluded to their time as heroes likely in some form of Golden Age Justice League (or Justice Society for you fellow comic fans). The death of Isaac, Claire meeting her father, Nathan as the future president – all great moments that set us up for the final scene of Hiro in the future and next week’s glimpse into the future. Avi’s Episode Rating: A
The Sopranos – I liked the first 2 episodes of the season better but I enjoyed Tony and Paulie’s amazing adventure although it does sadden me to see Junior’s story really coming to an end. I’m still going to stick with my prediction that Tony is going to retire before the season ends. Avi’s Episode Rating: B+
American Idol – I didn’t watch the performances this week and only saw part of Wednesday’s telethon but I have to question the decision to bring back Kelly Clarkson. Backed by the legendary Jeff Beck she pretty much puts all of the contestants on this season (and most of the previous ones) to shame. The only one with any commercial potential to be the next Kelly Clarkson is Jordin. End rant. Another good moment was the Simpsons scene where they judge Simon which had me crying I was laughing so loud. Annie Lennox was pretty good too.
I’ll get back to writing more regularly for the next couple of days.
I think I’m done. I’m not sure I can make it through the rest of the season of 24. I’ve put up with ridiculous plot twists, useless and dropped subplots (Morris drinking or Jack’s 2 years of torture), repetitious storylines (president is going to be impeached, again?) and reappearing and supporting characters who disappear without rhyme or reason (Jack’s father and sister-in-law and the Logans). Even worse I’ve just been generally bored through a majority of the last dozen or episodes. So last week the show wrapped up the “suitcase nuke” storyline (I actually dozed off right after Jack grabbed onto the bottom of the truck) and introduced a new storyline with Audrey being captured by the Chinese (I woke up in time for the last scene).
Still this isn’t that different from previous seasons (even last year’s “critically acclaimed” season which I thought was crap) but this week in the aftermath of the change in direction the show officially fell apart for me. Jack being willing to hand over nuclear devices (even with a plan to not really hand them over) to save one person is pretty much the opposite of what his character has done time and time again – condemning Tony’s choice a few seasons ago to save Michelle, shooting Curtis, etc. He’s always been about making hard chases for the greater good, yet here he is doing the opposite. I give up. It’s not that I need consistency but between my boredom and the abandonment of even the one thing that is consistent on this show, I think my relationship with this show is over. I may still watch the rest of the season since I’ve come this far, although it will be in far second position relative to next week’s return of Heroes (whoohoo!!!!!), but I think this is coming off my list for next year.
Avi’s Episode Rating: C-
I’m not going to write a review because truthfully I found this week’s episode to be kind of boring and I’m not sure I remember enough to say anything intelligent or insightful. This is particularly sad since I just watched it last night. So why am I writing you may ask. Because I want to go on record with my pick for mole in CTU.
And the winner is……. Milo. This is not based on having seen spoilers or having any inside information. It’s just that the formula for this show is so formulaic (did you have any doubt that the no-name CTU agent sitting in the car was going to be killed). A big deal is made about Milo giving his password to Nadia so we know when it is traced back, she’s going to get blamed. But the show is pretty conscious of the line it treads in its portrayal of Muslims so they sure aren’t going to make her the mole. This leaves us with Milo.
Just wanted to go on record now so I can say I told you so.
Avi’s Episode Rating: C+
I’ve been kind of hard on 24 and what I see as its many, many, many shortcomings. Still, I have to admit last night’s twist kicked ass. One of my complaints with 24 has been its lack of follow through and the illusion of closure it provides at the end of a season. Sure they may have nailed the president last season and stopped the attacks but the real mastermind – Dr. Romano, freaky Fame, headset guy – was still at large. Based on past experience, I assumed that they would never pick up that thread again.
Then last night, in an otherwise largely forgettable episode (oh look, Jack saved someone seconds before the helicopter fell and exploded), we find out that headset guy is Jack’s brother. Contrived coincidence, maybe. But who cares. Great twist that I never saw coming, the hallmark of fun TV. Paul Crane is great in every show he’s in and I remember thinking last season what a waste that we didn’t see that much of him. Well this season I think we’re going to make up for that. Clearly this family reunion isn’t going to be a happy occasion with Jack immediately tying up his brother with his wife and kid upstairs as he gets ready to perform some Jack torture magic. I’m actually looking forward to next week.
Avi’s Episode Rating: B+
Reading Ain’t it Cool News this morning there were a pile of reviews of the first 4 episodes of 24. Looking down the list I finally saw the words that perfectly captured why I’ve grown increasingly unimpressed with 24 over the past year. Here’s the excerpts from the San Francisco Chronicle:
For the purposes of retaining some semblance of critical respectability, it should be noted yet again that “24” only works if you unplug your brain. Now firmly ensconced under “wildly implausible” in the dictionary, this is a series that’s nearly as funny as it is riveting, although that equation is not necessarily intended by the creators.
That “24” could be seriously considered for Emmys and Golden Globes is incomprehensible, not to mention wrong…
Over the past 5 seasons I’ve learned to accept the ridiculous plot twists and eye rolling moments and just enjoy the action packed ride like any big budget blockbuster shoot em up. But the thing that drove me insane last year is the critical acclaim this show received. It’s like Casino Royale winning the best picture Oscar. Great fun, fluffy movie but worthy of awards, not so much. That 24 is nominated and The Wire isn’t is a sad statement.
Enough griping about 24 in general. Time to gripe about tonight’s episodes. Just kidding. I’m not only going to gripe. The truth is I liked these episodes. They were truly entertaining with lots of great action moments and an ending that makes me excited for next week’s show.
That being said there were way too many of those typical 24 moments that even my unplugged brain had trouble processing. Here’s 3 quick examples:
- They can’t access a satellite for 15 minutes but 2 episodes ago they scolded Chloe’s husband for instantly tapping into a third party satellite.
- In a shocking twist just as they’re about to catch the terrorist, he blows himself up. I thought he was going to escape out the back but this is pretty much the same.
- A bunch of no name members of a tactical team are closing in on the terrorists – was there any chance that the building wasn’t going to blow up.
Even the shocking moment when Jack killed Curtis wasn’t shocking for anyone used to watching 24. We’re so trained to expect the unexpected that the unexpected is now what we expect. I’m just waiting for them to uncover the mole in CTU and the White House staff.
In the meantime the show is still fun to watch despite its problems (although it will be in second position when Heroes returns next week). Just don’t forget to shut off your brain.
Avi’s Episode Ratings: B+
As the ads say Jack is Back but how do these first few episodes stand up.
Here’s a quick summary.
The new season starts out 2 years later with Wayne Palmer as President (this is 24 so no explanation required as to how he became President) and terrorist attacks occurring all over the US. In order to get the intel they need to find and assassinate the head of the group leading the attacks, they need to trade Jack to the man with the info. Jack has spent the last 2 years being tortured in China and comes back a somewhat broken man. Again, this is 24 so his “brokenness” comes in and out to remind us that this is a different Jack. For these first couple of episodes it works but my guess is that by episode 8 this subplot will be long forgotten. (If you don’t believe me, try and rewatch season 3 to see how long the “Jack as heroin addict” subplot lasted.)
They also have introduced a new sister Palmer who is going to be the voice of conscience in contrast to the President’s new advisor (the usually awesome Peter MacNichol) who is pushing for his boss to create internment camps for American Muslims. As interesting as their speeches are, my guess is that this too is a subplot that will be forgotten by episode 10.
Jack of course escapes and finds out that the target he was traded for is actually being set up by the one he was traded to. Long story short, Jack to the rescue, as he saves the original target (a former terrorist who is trying to turn to peacemaker) then share a little torture moment and together go to stop a suicide bomber. Jack stops the bomb and the new partners follow his handler to find the real leader.
Bottom line is these first two hours are as fun as can be expected from a new 24 season. As I’ve written before, the beginning of 24 is usually full of adventure as we catch up with whatever characters remain from last season. I still think it’s just a matter of time before it falls into its old patterns but for now I’m enjoying the ride.
Avi’s Episode Rating: B+
Sunday is the return of Jack Bauer to our TV sets and I have mixed feelings about whether I should be excited or not. Every year for the past 5 years I start watching 24 excited about the direction the show is headed and this season is appearing to be no different as early reviews on the first 4 episodes are uniformly good. But then every year as the season moves on I end up disappointed.
The inflection point is usually around episode 13-14 when it becomes clear the writers are looking for ways to stretch what should be a 12 episode arc to a 24 episode arc. They tend to try and hide the stretching with a “shocking” death that is meaningful for all of 10 seconds before the show pushes on (see Edgar or Tony) and a plot twist that is out of left field but is in no way consistent with anything that’s happened before (see President as traitor). The season usually gets rounded out with an artificial feeling of closure by having Jack stop whatever disaster he’s been working on for the past 24 hours while introducing a plot thread of a bigger bad guy that never gets picked up again (see Paul Crane).
I still remain shocked at the number of critics who raved about last season which to me represented the worst faults of the show. Don’t get me wrong, I like 24 as a show but really wish they’d shake up the formula. Here’s what I’d like to see. A single story that takes place in 2 twelve episode arcs with each separated by 6 months. The time lag between the first and second halves give the writers real material to use instead of what seems like filler. Honestly if I have to see Jack and members of CTU enter a building where the terrorists are and have them escape out the back door at the last minute I will hit the roof.
Still, I will watch season 6. As I understand it, this season terrorist attacks actually occur on US soil and Wayne Palmer who is now President brings Jack back from China to do what he does best. I just hope I don’t end up disappointed.
I’ve written before how I like to give as many new shows as possible a chance to get on my regular viewing list. There was a time when I used to give all shows at least 3 episodes. However, as I’ve become busier and my TV schedule become more full, I’m a lot less patient giving some shows only one episode to impress me.
This brings me to Big Day. Because it’s only 1/2 hour I watched the first 2 episodes yesterday and that was more than enough to indicate to me that this show is a stinker. At first blush the concept is an interesting one following in 24-like fashion a couple’s wedding day. But if you sit and think about it for a minute you’ll realize that the only way to maintain a show like this for a full season is to have contrived situation after contrived situation. For me 24 falls into this pattern usually by the 8th or 9th episode (which is around when Jack is about to close in on the bad guy but he escapes out the back door after killing many no-named CTU agents and maybe one named one). For Big Day, it didn’t even take one episode.
Just look at the characters: the mother who wants the wedding to be her wedding, the father who thinks his future son-in-law is a loser, the slutty sister who sleeps with the jerky best man (who kept distracting me because he looks so much like David Boreanaz), the best friend who is gay and harbours a crush on the groom, the father of the groom who is a wandering eccentric, the incompetent wedding planner, the groom who wants to walk down the aisle to the What’s Happening theme song and the bride who loses it at least once an episode on her mother or groom but remembers it’s her wedding day and feels much better.
As if the cliched characters weren’t enough there are the situations that range from ridiculous to boring: a fight over what salad to serve, a competing wedding a town over, an erased seating chart, an orgasmic foot rub, a father who doesn’t want to wear a tux, a photographer who gets hit by a car, the sister who swallows the best man’s contact lenses so he’s blind for the day, blah, blah, blah. Not even worth going on about.
Bottom line – this show isn’t worth your time so be happy I watched it so you don’t have to.
Avi’s Episodes Rating: C-