February 13, 2007


Jen speaks some bold naked truths about the current season of 24....stinking.

I would agree in principle, but not for the reasons she gives. For me, it's that part of the secret of the success of 24 was in combining in a unique way two important genres. The first is readily apparent: the frontier narrative of the Hawkeye/Deerslayer hero who, through extreme savage violence, becomes like the enemy of civilization so as to be able to defeat him. The tragic cost of this heroism is that by becoming savage himself, he is unfit to return to the society he has given all to defend and protect. That's a classic American mythic figure as old as King Philip's War 330 years ago, and Jack Bauer plays that mythic archetype to the hilt.

But the other genre 24 sucessfully played with was an evil, inverse variation on the standard romantic comedy of the mismatched, star-crossed lovers: Jim and Pam, Sam and Diane, Ross and Marcel, Fleischman and Maggie, the list could go on and on. In 24, this is the role of the villain/terrorist: his inability to consumate his love of extreme, murderous Death. We all know what happens in shows where the star-crossed lovers finally do it: one night's very special bonanza ratings, followed by a long, slow, slide into mediocrity. Inevitably, they have to be torn apart, but it's never the same, and the chemistry is gone.

With 24, this is what happened when one of the weanies got to ejaculate his "Allahu Akbar!" and pull the trigger on the nuke at the end of the 4th hour. The evil, twisted love affair had been consumated, and the rest, as they say, is just the clean-up. The fact that it was just a suit case nuke as compared with the Big Bopper, and the fact that it was just suburban Valencia instead of downtown LA is kind of like Ross rolling on the juice-box and squirting a finally-ready but slightly dumb Rachel: the fact that the big moment is prefaced by a premature ejaculation joke just makes the inevitable that much worse. As much as the writers can trot out President Gary Payton and his stern lectures to Doctor Bashir about "how if ONE MORE nuke is detonated, this will be war," and Fayed pulling out yet another magic Sampsonite, the romance of the show, if you will, Jack and Chloe and the team's ability to violate protocols and place an impermeable perimeter between the Terrorist scumbag and his love of Death, is over.

Now does that mean I still watch it? Sure. You've got to love the product placement for Black & Decker last night, and how it must have pegged the heart-ache factor for Saint Sully to see waterboarding followed by the use of a power drill through someone's clavicle to get them to cooperate. Talk about your heart-ache--you mean the terrorists don't follow the Geneva Convention? Plus, the moral tale of the two individuals who delivered to the chief terrorist the technology capable of detonating a nuke: one, a mild-mannered suburban leftie dad who reasons that "if we just give them what they want, they'll let us go, right?", the second a soul-less sex in the city wannabe with visions of shopping for Versace fur in Vegas to survive the nuclear winter. Both dead, one albeit a little less roasted for her entry to hell. Interesting stuff, particularly when you throw in the possibility of Jack as Ahab, with his all-consuming white whale in the form of the black heart of his father. We've wondered what drove Jack to be what he is, and we're begining to get a sense of it in the penumbras of Father Bauer's soul.

But what worked about the show is over. Face it: we're into the 24 equivalent of the Ross marrying the English chick phase, let alone the fat, cold bar manager wench era on Cheers. The Romance is Gone.

UPDATE: Rick at Rightwingnuthouse has his weekly summary/analysis up and, as usual, it's more interesting than the actual show.

Posted by Steve-O at February 13, 2007 09:12 PM | TrackBack

I think it's just too much Peter MacNichol.

Posted by: The Colossus at February 14, 2007 07:25 AM

Good assessment, there. I love your Dennis Miller-esque ramblings and analogies.

Also, I thought that was Dr. Bashir, but I wasn't sure.

I agree with The Colossus, too. Somehow this Peter MacNichol character isn't enjoyable in his quirkiness. Probably because he isn't quirky, just annoying. Bring on the quirk.

Posted by: jen at February 14, 2007 08:18 AM

And does what Jen is doing constitute "Speaking truth to Bauer . . . "


Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'd say something about how Bauer "can't handle the truth", but he was in that movie as the evil platoon leader, so I'm not sure if that would work.

Posted by: The Colossus at February 14, 2007 09:53 AM


Posted by: jen at February 14, 2007 11:13 AM

I love your Dennis Miller-esque ramblings and analogies

Miller is an amateur compared to Steve. The literal translation of non-sequitur is: "What the hell are you talking about Steve?"

Posted by: LB Buddy at February 14, 2007 12:32 PM