In the opening minutes of the second season of 24, we are treated to the pleasant sight of some poor schmuck being tortured in a grimy third world prison. Sure enough, he gives up information to his captors, which is relayed to U.S. advisors standing by. Sure. Right. We all know that torture consistently yields reliable information.
This information, that a nuclear device is going to explode in Los Angeles in the next 24 hours, is acted on as though it were reliable intelligence (although the script is careful to say that it is triple-sourced, i.e. confirmed by two other sources).
Does this sequence reflect reality? Nope. Is it socially irresponsible? You bet. But remember, 24 is on the Fox network, where they do things like call Obama’s fist bump a “terrorist fist jab.” And let’s be honest — the salacious, fear-mongering, pandering nature of 24 is part of it’s clammy appeal.
Before the season is half over, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) will be shooting unarmed civilians point blank in the name of the war on terror. When George Mason (Xander Berkeley) asks him if he’s crazy (a reasonable question, it seems to me), Jack mumbles the equivalent of “Ya wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.”
You will recall from the first season that George Mason is a lying, thieving, cowardly bureaucrat, so naturally we’re primed to not pay attention to anything he has to say.
So, I bet you want to know, has the plot gotten completely ridiculous yet?
Well, it’s getting there, but the demise of one of the major characters in the first season’s grand finale helped to stave off the inevitable.
I mean, the modus operandi of 24 is to have all of the major characters be in a crisis for different reasons during the same 24 hours. If you’re talking about characters in a family, there are only so many ways to do that without appearing ridiculous. In that way, season two’s storyline is already pushing crediblity.
Jack, of course, is busy trying to stop Los Angeles from disappearing in a mushroom cloud, but how about his daughter Kim? They can’t do a variation on the storyline from the first season. That would be too stupid. So the writers manufacture another crisis for her, involving a control freak who physically abuses his young daughter. Naturally, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) runs off with the kid, so Jack can’t get her out of the blast zone.
You might think I am giving away spoilers, but I’m not. As always, there’s enough plot in an average DVD of 24 to supply a dozen movies.
Even though the producers of 24 are not using big gun directors like Stephen Hopkins and Bryan Spicer this time around, they’ve done a great job of quality control, maintaining the house directing and editing style. Also, the acting so far is indistinguishable from the first season in terms of competence.
In short, halfway through the second season, 24 is just as much reprehensible fun as it was the first season.
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