Will 24 Live Another Season?

24 Live Another Day wrapped up Monday night.  It was a pretty good season in my view — I also happily ended up tied for first in our 24 Death Pool at work — and now the question is whether Jack Bauer will be back for another season.

(Spoiler alert!)  The writers and producers of 24 have a love-hate relationship with Jack Bauer.  They love to let him kill bad guys, but they put him through hell.  Over the years, Jack has lost countless family members, friends, romantic interests, and supporters to death or estrangement.  At one point in the finale, Chloe O’Brian aptly remarks that she’s just about the last friend Jack has.  This season continued that trend — Jack’s former lover, Audrey, is killed by an assassin and her father, President Heller, one of the few people in the U.S. government who doesn’t view Jack as a rogue quasi-terrorist, has rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s and will soon forget all about him.  After Jack hears about Audrey, he pulls out a revolver and briefly considers suicide; fortunately, he decides instead to use it to kill dozens of bad guys before beheading this year’s uber-villain.

This year’s season shows that 24 still has legs.  The ratings have been solid if not spectacular, and the plot line was action-packed and appropriately pushed the envelope on the plot twist believability scale without venturing into the absurdly incredible developments of past seasons, when cougars roamed the wilds of southern California and a nuclear bomb detonated over the Mojave Desert.  Chloe continued to explore new technological frontiers, this year being able to turn a small satellite dish antenna into a device that could detect the heat signatures of every human on a ship, display them in a nifty color graphic, and direct Jack on where and when to shoot them.  True 24 fans watch the show as much to chuckle at Chloe’s technological awesomeness as to watch Jack knock out, hoodwink, and cold-bloodedly murder scores of terrorists and henchmen.

The season’s storyline ended well-positioned for another season, if the network and creative team want to do it.  Jack trades himself to the Russians to free Chloe and ends up in a helicopter, bound for Moscow and the gentle ministrations of Russians who was revenge for Jack’s past actions.  A new season of the show therefore could go just about anywhere.  If they make it, I’ll watch it.  

5/5 24

One of the few notable things about the lopsided Super Bowl was the debut of the trailer for the new season of 24, which explodes onto the airwaves on May 5, 2014.

The new season of 24 will be set in London, where a fugitive Jack Bauer hooks up with Chloe O’Brian to try to foil another dastardly terrorist plot. From the all-too-brief brief trailer, we know two things we knew already: no mere explosion can have an impact on Jack Bauer, even if it knocks Chloe O’Brian senseless, and Jack will somehow be armed and ready to scream and fire off shots at any time and anywhere, even in England where private ownership of handguns is forbidden.

I’ve already sent around the email seeking to reinstitute the 24 Death Pool and have received enthusiastic responses. True fans of the show understand that, if CTU still exists, its agents will die by the score, harbor a mole, and be unable to establish a “hard perimeter,” that hapless Brits will be shot, poisoned, gassed, disemboweled, blown up, and tortured simply by virtue of being in the proximity of a whispering Jack Bauer, and that Jack is unlikely to stop for a pint of bitter or a trip to the loo during his frantic 24-hour quest to stop the terrorists. Bring it on!

When Jack Comes Back . . . .

When we last saw Jack Bauer, he was walking into the sunset as a deeply moved Chloe O’Brian watched with a tender smile.  Now Fox has announced that Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer and 24 will be back, for a miniseries starting next year.

What has happened to Jack, and what kind of perils will he be confronting when he returns to the small screen?  Beats me, but here are some ideas:

*  Haunted by the fact that he murdered Chappelle in cold blood at the instruction of former President David Palmer, Jack has sworn off violence and become a French pastry chef.  But when Tony Almeida is ruthlessly gunned down while buying a baguette at Jack’s bakery, Jack must spring into action to avenge the death of his old comrade.

*  Haunted by disturbing nightmares of being chased by several forever-comatose ex-presidents and Charles Logan with the arms of the Hulk, Jack has been become a fitness instructor.  His clients love him for the results he achieves, even though he motivates them to exercise through random acts of torture.  But when his loyal client, the National Security Advisor who happens to be David Palmer’s half-sister, is seized by French terrorists seeking to restore the Holy Roman Empire, Jack must once again shoulder the Jack Pack to battle the forces of evil.

*  Haunted by the fact that he failed to detect the presence of countless moles at CTU, Jack has become a real-life mole exterminator.  But when his excavations to knock off the furry critters infesting a large California estate uncovers nuclear devices, fatal gas canisters, and biomedical weapons planted at the estate in advance of a presidential fundraising visit, Jack is sucked into a high-energy race against time to foil the plotting of former President turned terrorist Allison Taylor.

*  Haunted by the fact that he never answered the call of nature or ate any food for days at a time, Jack has spent the last two years in the bathroom eating fried chicken and whispering inaudibly.  But when a sobbing President Chloe O’Brian calls to tell Jack that her two children have been kidnapped by her ersatz nanny, in reality an agent of the North Korean government, Jack must set down the drumstick to help his old friend and fend off an invasion led by his estranged daughter, who has been brainwashed by the North Korean state.

Well, you get the idea.

The Return Of 24?

Could we soon see the return of Jack Bauer, Chloe, implausible coincidences, and the deaths of scores of nameless, faceless innocents?

Fox apparently is in talks with Kiefer Sutherland to bring back 24, the rock ’em, sock ’em, “real time” drama about superman Jack Bauer, super-helper Chloe O’Brian, soulful Tony Almeida, and the otherwise horribly inept counter-terrorism team at CTU.  They’ve fought foreign and domestic terrorists, dealt with gas attacks and nuclear blasts, and watched as co-workers were knocked off, exposed as moles, or shown to be craven blowhards.  They’ve experienced countless plot twists, broken every constitutional right afforded to American citizens, and applauded as Jack Bauer has used torture to wring confessions from appalling evildoers (including his brother).

Sutherland’s current series, Touch, was not renewed.  It was a show with an interesting premise, but this season it became a lot more like 24, as Sutherland’s character and his son and their allies fought an ultra-powerful corporation that was using human subjects to advance its evil corporate agenda.  So why not just bring back Jack Bauer in full, give him his PDA and his Jack Pack and his pistol, and let the death pool begin anew?

“24” Withdrawal

I miss 24.

Right about now, we would be around hour 14.  The grim terrorist plot, assassination plan, or criminal enterprise that started the new season out with a bang would have been foiled thanks to the heroism and steely nerves of Jack Bauer and the technical prowess of Chloe O’Brian, but a broader and deeper conspiracy posing its own special threat would have been detected.  The appalling Charles Logan, with his prissy smarminess, would have been seen lurking on the periphery, trying to wheedle his way into power.  Scores of bad guys would have been shot, blown up, electrocuted, tortured, or otherwise dispatched in some gruesome fashion.  And the members of the 24 Death Pool would be debating whether this was a good season of 24 or a bad season of 24.

I miss Jack Bauer’s certainty about right and wrong and willingness to endure all manner of beatings and horrors to save the country.  I miss Chloe’s constant scowls, PDA wizardry, and snarky comments.  I miss the general incompetence of every other employee of CTU, with its legendary inability to establish a secure perimeter.  I miss Presidents in constant peril and ever-present nuclear threats.  And I want to get certain questions answered.  What happened to Tony Almeida?  Are Wayne Palmer and one of the predecessor Presidents still in comas?  Did Logan survive?  Is Chloe a crappy mother?

When you think about it, 24 was a pretty entertaining show.

An End To Logan’s Run, And To 24

Well, I’ve watched the series finale of 24, and I think it showed why the show really needed to end.

It really seemed like not much happened during the two hours.  Sure, Jack got shot by Chloe, bit off the ear of Logan’s suckboy, whispered his dialogue, and resisted assassinating the Russian president, and his recorded message of lukewarm platitudes somehow convinced President Taylor to walk away from the “peace agreement” — but to my mind the “will she, won’t she” plot about President Taylor really didn’t create much tension or, for that matter, interest.  The scenes with the Russian President, the UN Secretary General, and Dalia Hassan came across as a lot of background noise and filler; it seemed clear all along that President Taylor would eventually return to her principles, and that Charles Logan would be foiled again.  You almost expected him to say, “Curses!”

It was interesting to me that, as the series reached its end, so much of the show focused on Charles Logan.  I think the writers recognized that he was the one compelling character in the show who hadn’t been fully fleshed out or painted into a corner.  We all know Jack will stoically stand for his concept of justice, and that Chloe will help him to the end.  With Logan, however, you never quite knew how far down he would go, and in the end, by killing his aide and then trying to kill himself, he showed there really was no bottom to his depravity and megalomania.  (Of course, being Logan, he couldn’t even be successful in his suicide attempt.)  Too bad he didn’t get to die a good death at the hands of Jack Bauer — but perhaps the writers wanted to leave open the possibility that Logan and Jack would cross swords again.

Jack, meanwhile, got to say thank you to Chloe for her years of help, and that was a scene that packed some punch.  And then, Jack Bauer walked off into the sunset.  We’ll apparently see him again on the big screen, with the Russians, the Americans, and God knows who else in hot pursuit.

Before The Clock Runs Out On 24 . . . .

Fox has officially announced that it is canceling 24.  This will be the show’s last season on TV, although there are hopes for a movie at some point.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  I’ve posted several times on this year’s generally lackluster season.  Clearly, the show seems to have run out of ideas — which is not surprising, because there are only so many terrorist threats to American soil that can be played out, from beginning to end, in a 24-hour period.

Before the show ends, however, there are some things that I really want to see:

*  Jack Bauer saying he is very hungry and then eating something.  A Power Bar, a Fig Newton . . . anything!

*  A CTU superior slapping Chloe O’Brian after she makes yet another inappropriately snarky comment and engages in her customary facial contortions and eye-rolling during a critical moment.

*  A member of CTU dozing at his computer station during the 4 a.m. hour.

*  A technical glitch or downloading failure that prevents an effort by Chloe to immediately send detailed plans of a previously unknown building to Jack’s PDA.

*  When Kiefer Sutherland whispers one of Jack’s lines, the character to whom he is speaking saying:  “Huh?  What?  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.  Could you please speak up?”

*  CTU boss Brian Hastings channeling the ghost of Bubba from Forrest Gump by mentioning five kinds of dishes made with shrimp.

*  Standard CTU security forces actually maintaining a “perimeter” that catches a bad guy trying to infiltrate or escape.

*  The return of Tony Almeida, David Palmer, Jack’s brother, Jack’s wife, various people Jack has killed, the cougar that hunted Kim in an earlier season, and a surprise appearance by William Shatner in a haunting, hallucinogenic dream sequence that leaves Jack profoundly traumatized.

*  Jack Bauer showing that he actually performs bodily functions like the rest of us.  If it were up to me, he would be shown coming out of a bathroom, with some toilet paper stuck to his shoe.

Rising On The Implausibility Meter

I’ve recently posted on the boring nature of this season of 24.  The producers and writers apparently have heard such complaints, because the show has taken an abrupt veer into the random violence, outright implausibiilty, and general weirdness to which the loyal viewers of the program have become accustomed.

Last night’s episode was a good example.  Consider:

*  Jack Bauer and three other CTU agents engaged in a machine-gun firefight with a group of terrorists at some deserted industrial facility on the shores of the East River, near Manhattan, at 4 a.m.  The din of gunfire continued for a good half hour, without any sign of police or, for that matter, concern by local residents whose sleep was interrupted by the local equivalent of World War III.  (Pitched gun battles apparently are so commonplace in the NYC area that they aren’t worth bothering about.)

*  Minutes after CTU’s computer systems were totally fried by the explosion of an electromagnetic pulse device, the redoubtable Chloe O’Brian pulled a gun on an NSA engineer in order to try her hastily developed plan to fix the systems by “tapping into the trunk line.”  Surprisingly, the NSA geek would not allow her to try her improvised approach after she scowled a few times and waved a piece of paper with a scrawled diagram at him.  After barricading herself in the room, only to have security break back in, she is permitted to try her plan, her jury-rigged fix works and gets the systems up in seconds, and by the end of the show she is back at her desk getting a pat on the back from her boss.

*  The first CTU mole — a 24 tradition — has been exposed to be agent Blondie.  After being a mere annoyance with her idiotic subplot about her ex-boyfriend and his criminal buddy, she strangles a hefty Arkansas probation officer who had been bugging her for information about the ex-boyfriend and rolls him into a man-sized ventilation duct conveniently located at floor level.  (With ventilation systems that sizable, CTU probably is not very “green.”)  She then makes a phone call to the lead terrorist to say that her cover has been blown.  No kidding!  Makes you wonder what the lead terrorist thought about Blondie’s lengthy absences during the first part of the terrorist operations, as she haplessly dealt with her ex-boyfriend before finally sinking the corpses of the ex-boyfriend and his buddy into a deserted pond.

*  Chloe’s 4 a.m. call is fielded by a wide-awake, fully clothed former FBI agent Renee (Freckles) Walker.  Walker is told that Jack Bauer is in some vaguely described area, immediately heads there, and arrives in time to use a handgun, from a distance of about 200 yards, to plug two terrorists who are getting ready to splatter Jack’s brains across a parking lot.

Sure, it’s implausible, but I’ll take implausible over boring any day.