In a nutshell: post 9/11 counter-terrorism
The 411: If television is narcotics (and who can seriously
argue that it is not?) then 24 is its crack cocaine – instantly
addictive, bringing mayhem and destruction wherever it goes.
“If television is narcotics then 24 is its crack cocaine – instantly addictive, bringing mayhem and destruction wherever it goes.”
Kim has packed her 48 tight T-shirts and
gone to Europe with Chase – apparently recovered from having
his hand hacked off by Jack in the previous season’s finale
(long story – there was this briefcase, see – oh look, it was
for his own good and they sewed it back on – it’s amazing what
they can do these days).
We left season three with Jack blubbing like
Apple Paltrow in his black SUV so it’s not surprising that
season four kicks off with Jack out of CTU and in the arms
of a new lover. Meet Audrey: the daughter of Jack’s new boss,
Defence Secretary James Heller.
Despite the three of them working together
daddy doesn’t know about Jack and Audrey. “You’ll have
to tell him”, Jack tells Audrey, “He’s a very shrewd
Not that shrewd, apparently. There’s sexual
tension you can cut with a hacksaw and daddy dearest still
thinks Audrey goes home alone.
You’d think the women entering into Jack’s
life would be a bit more cautious. Just a brief glimpse at
his shagiography – Wife: Terri kidnapped, raped, then
killed by Jack’s Lover: Nina, kidnapped, evil, jailed,
freed, evil then killed. By Jack.
And then there’s Daughter: Kim,
kidnapped more often than Penelope Pitstop, the girl is a walking
loon magnet, menaced by everything from right-wing militia
guys to wild cougars.
“As if all that wasn’t bad enough her CTU Field Ops boyfriend has his hand hacked off. By Jack….”
As if all that wasn’t bad enough her CTU
Field Ops boyfriend has his hand hacked off. By Jack. (Look,
I’ve told you – it was for his own good and if you stick a
bag of frozen peas on it there’s a good chance of the surgeons
lobbing it back on. And if not – makes an excellent conversation
piece or paperweight)
But still the velvet voice and 5 o’clock
stubble at three in the morning wins them over. Living with
a lightning rod for trouble has its advantages. You get to
go places you’ve never seen (inside the boot of an SUV), meet
interesting people (international terrorists, rapists) and
I hear CTU has a bitching pension plan (not that you’ll see
the benefit of it, the average life-expectancy of Jack’s girlfriends
being that of an asbestos mining mayfly).
Did I mention Jack’s not above a bit of torture
and mutilation to get the job done – slaughtering and decapitating
a child pornographer to win the trust of a criminal (the head
delivered in a holdall – nice!). So it’s hardly surprising
that two episodes into season four he’s knee-capping a terror
suspect (yes that’s right, suspect).
“All you have to worry about at Guantanamo
Bay is the occasional human pyramid and barking dog.”
All you have to worry about at Guantanamo
Bay is the occasional human pyramid and barking dog. I’m sure
Jack’s victim was longing for that kind of treatment as he
picked his patella out of the carpet. You know when you’ve
been Bauered, fool! The ICU nurses are a dead giveaway.
The biggest problem 24 faces is the law of
diminishing returns. Season one had the President threatened
with assassination and Jack’s wife and daughter held hostage.
Season two had the threat of a nuclear bomb killing 1 million
people. Season three had the prospect of millions dying through
biological terrorism. Where do you go from there? Global annihilation
is so James Bond.
Season four has nothing like the impact of
the first three and it suffers because of it. This is the ultimate
impact television, after all. Slow-paced character development
is not on – even if we have the magnificent Chloe with her
wrecking ball abruptness and hysterical lack of social skills.
At the moment, four episodes in, it feels like we’re treading
very familiar ground.
“It always comes back to Jack – velvet voiced nonce decapitator,
homicidal hand-hacker and modern day superhero.”
Now that the threats are not as exciting,
the focus will come back on the main attraction. In the end,
it always comes back to Jack – velvet voiced nonce decapitator,
homicidal hand-hacker and modern day superhero.
He makes his own rules.
The best thing about it: The retention of Chloe – potato faced Rain Girl.
The worst thing about it: The loss of Michelle, Tony and Kim’s T-shirts.
The verdict on 24: The light may be dimming but it’s still outshines most of the rest.
Marks out of 10: 7.5