Sunday, May 16, 2010

24 this season is more like a 2

The producers are bragging that they’ve taken away Jack Bauer’s moral compass because of all the hell he’s been through.  EP Howard Gordon told “Digital Spy”: What he will have done in the last six episodes leaves him once again in a very compromised place morally, ethically and emotionally. This show is a tragedy… I’m taking people’s outrage as a measure of interest.”

Through the seasons Jack lost his wife, a couple of near-love interests and his latest flame, just seconds after an intimate interlude.

Jack, himself, has been tortured and shot so many times that he’s lost feeling in his soul.  Now, he’s on a rampage and has killed in cold blood; he’s gone completely rogue.

The writing team thinks all of this makes the show better, more dramatic.  I think the opposite.

They’ve taken the character out of the characters.  With the exception of Chloe, slowly but surely, every single stand-up individual in 24 has devolved into either complete stupidity or treason.

The worker bees at CTU are incompetent.  The bosses, virtually everyone who’s been put in charge, never know how to handle a situation.  And Jack is always the only one who can save the day.  Government officials are uniformly pompous and ineffective.  Every president of the United States portrayed has been brought down by hubris or sheer idiocy.  Only good ole reliable Chloe remains standing upright.

This season, even President Alyson Taylor (Cherry Jones), seemingly consumed by peace in the Middle East, became a sell-out sometime between hours 18 and 20.  A former president, Charles Logan, brought down in a previous season, is an outright traitor.  There was the devious Dana Walsh, a spy within the CTU ranks, and countless other shady individuals.  Once thought to be respectable, they went to the other side.

Viewers have no one to invest themselves in and that’s the biggest mistake of all.  Any book, movie or television show without a hero is doomed.  Characters can be flawed, but they must be admired, loved, or at least liked.  The drama is not worth watching if the characters are not mirrors of those we aspire to be.  The old Jack Bauer fit that description; the new one does not.  Yes, the program is a tragedy, but even Shakespearean tragedies have heroes.

I will keep watching 24, but not with the rapt attention I once had.  I don’t see how the upcoming theatrical movie can be successful under the current circumstances.  I was a lot more enthusiastic about rooting for Jack  when I admired him.

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