Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Season 5; Hour Six (12:00PM - 1:00PM)

Who was the chick behind the bed?

There are a lot of questions I have about this episode of America’s favorite action thriller starring the SAG Award winning Kief-ster Sutherland. But none of them is really as intriguing as wondering who the person is we barely see hiding behind the bed at the end of the coming attractions. Clearly Fox wants us to wonder who this is or else they would have shown us more of her. And note that I’m assuming it’s a ‘her’ – it could be a somewhat effeminate guy (because what self-respecting macho guy would be hiding behind a bed?)

Any answer to the question begs a great response:

-- Kim! (who upon seeing Jack says, “You’re alive? I’ll kill you!!!”)

-- Diane! (to which Jack says, “Well, I guess you don’t waste any time moving on to someone else…”)

-- Mandy! (to which Jack says, “Do you sleep with every freaking terrorist in the entire world?”)

-- Michelle! (to which Jack says, “You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy!”) (This is a very old TV reference. If you get it, your pacemaker probably can’t handle a show as exciting as ’24.’)

-- Chloe! (to which Jack says, “Chloe, put your clothes on and get a satellite link patched through to Division stat!”)

-- Son of the Secretary of Defense, Richard Heller (to which Curtis says, “I wish I could quit you, Heller!)

Sorry about that last one but any article about popular media today is required to have a “Brokeback Mountain” joke in it, no matter how lame. [That line makes me laugh every time someone uses it, though! -J]

I don’t have any prediction whatsoever about this. It could be an opportunity to introduce a new character or shine a new light on an old one (in other words, Kim). It seems like an interesting context to bring Kim back – particularly the fact that she’s hiding behind a bed and therefore may be clad only in her underwear. Beyond that, I’m pretty much befuddled which is why I can’t stop thinking about it.

Well, while I try to come up with a good possibility for who it is, I’ll move on to the other significant questions this episode raised. Among these:

- What the hell was with those glasses Audrey was wearing? They were perhaps the ugliest spectacles I have ever seen. They looked like a barely sleeker version of a welder’s mask. There are only two possible reasons for a moderately attractive woman to be wearing such a face-damaging accessory: in her personal agony over the loss of both Paul and Jack, she is purposely making herself less attractive to push potential suitors away OR the glasses have some high-tech DoD X-ray doo-dads built in to them. If it’s the first thing, Audrey would do better by taking the route most women do in these kinds of situations: eat more. I mean, c’mon: the chick disappears when she turns sideways. Her nose is the curviest feature she’s got. If it’s the second thing, she needs to get someone from James Bond’s shop to make her some spiffier toys.

- How about our favorite Secret Service dude, Aaron Pierce?!? This season has made excellent use of the history of ‘24’ and putting Pierce into the thick of things is one of the best so far. His relationship with David Palmer was a poignant part of the second season in particular, showing that people can still act like human beings with each other even when their jobs compel them to do unsavory things. While Pierce has always been a steady background character, in this ep he shows a little tightly controlled anger (“Why is Jack Bauer under arrest?” he says through tight lips) and some serious balls by aligning himself with Jack in protecting the prez. Jack and Aaron offering up their weapons and badges (does Jack have an official anything at this point? Maybe a spy decoder ring at least? A tin sheriff’s badge perhaps?) was a nice touch. Logan’s response was the only sensible thing he’s done since, well, maybe since he didn’t hop on board the plane with the REAL president last season.

- Speaking of which, where the hell IS President Keeler? Is he a turnip somewhere, living on life support? A disembodied head being used for scientific experiments? A semi-conscious love slave for Mandy? Are the writers holding on to his potential revival as a possible late-season plot twist?

- How about some more love for our man Curtis? As we saw very occasionally last season, Roger Cross is a great actor who should be given something more interesting to do than poke around at dead rats (by the way, he’s been poking around in TV for more than 15 years, starting out with a role on “Wiseguy” and even playing Justice Thurgood Marshall in a movie 6 years ago). Last night, his entire contribution to the show was trotting in to say, “Feed’s up!” when the satellite feed from the shipyard was established, a line my wife misheard as “Pizza!” I guess that wouldn’t be out of the question since, a) it’s lunch time in the ‘24’ universe, and b) they’ve relegated poor Curtis to little more than a pizza delivery guy anyway.

- Will we see Diane and Derek again? Oh, I’d like to say we will since, in comparison to Audrey, Diane seems more down-to-earth, devoted, warm, loving, and substantial. Substantial, that is, in that she wouldn’t be sent flying by a strong breeze. Derek has also had a bit of trial by fire and since Jack doesn’t have any rogue agent-in-training in his life right now, Derek might fit that bill. But ‘24’ has written out characters who seemed like principles in the past (anyone remember Kyle Singer?) so who knows with D&D? The most obvious thing would be to put them in the line of fire of the nerve gas, upping the ante for Jack. Clearly, Jack would not want Derek any more disoriented than he is. And foamy pink milkshake stuff coming out of Diane’s mouth would NOT compliment her skin tone.

- And how about that DVD of a nerve gas victim? Can you get that through NetFlix? Novick says that it came from “the terrorists.” Who exactly sent it? Nathanson’s people or yellow tie man’s people or maybe Walt made it in his basement? And where did they find nerve gas in order to make the video?

Now, don’t get the wrong idea about all of these questions. You might think so many questions means I was annoyed/disappointed/confused by this episode. Quite the contrary, I thought it was great. Complications are what ‘24’ is all about and the more questions I ask means the more complications there are. And the more intent I am on finding out where they’re going to go next with all of this stuff.

Of course, the big questions YOU the average viewer (or obviously above average viewer, because you’re reading this sterling commentary) are probably asking are:

1. What exactly was Walt’s plan that he blurted out to the president? and
2. Why did they waste so much time in this episode with Audrey and Jack whispering sweet nothings to each other?

First off, the Fox website details in a few sentences what Walt says he was trying to do. It’s one of those ideas that might sound good on paper but, if Walt actually thought it all the way through, he would have pulled the plug once things started to spiral out of control, like for instance, when they had to assassinate a former president. You have to wonder whether Walt’s motives were really so pristine. After all, this plot isn’t something you pull off with some college buddies from Ohio. Walt’s got some dirty friends and I’m not just saying that Nathanson needs a shower (In fact, it looks to me like he’s constantly bathed in a cleansing blue light that is probably anti-bacterial.) I’m thinking/hoping that we’re going to find out more about Walt and his nefarious contacts and pretty darn soon.

And hey, while you’re at the Fox website, you should be sure and take their poll, which if you’ve been following it, has been something of a hoot. Last week, it asked whether Chloe would ever trust men again. Better questions would be “was Chloe a virgin before having sex with Spenser?” or “Even if Chloe gets banged four times a day, will she ever stop acting like a frigid bitch?” This week, they’re asking whether Jack really would have carved up Cummings. To which I respond, why the hell didn’t he carve up Cummings? A shot like the one in “Minority Report” with the eyeballs rolling down the corridor would have been some welcome comic relief.

Second off, there’s been plenty of fan blather about the drippy lovey stuff between Audrey and Jack. C’mon, people, part of what makes this stuff interesting is the knowledge that Jack isn’t a machine, that he had a family, that his soul is tortured by the torturing and killing he’s had to dish out. And in fact, when he’s under those harsh CTU lights, Jack frankly looks like shit. Though “distant” Audrey is hardly the warm, fuzzy type (fur doesn’t grow on a twig, after all), Jack’s love for her does humanize him and de-freezes her a bit too. Having Jack and Audrey breathe meaningful nothings to each other isn’t the way I’d have gone – being in favor of a hair-pulling, clothes-rending smack down between Dianne and Audrey – but we’ve already established clearly why I’m not a writer for ’24.’

The less I have to say about Logan the better but I have to say that his decision to play along with Cummings came as no surprise and is the biggest argument so far that the boy has got to get a balls transplant from somewhere. Could they check Palmer’s organ donor card?

Yellow tie guy finally has a name – Erwich – that sounds vaguely like an insect (“What’s that crawling up your neck? Eww…it’s an Erwich!”) Along with the name comes some new cred as quite a bad guy. But some key questions remain:

-- Will we find out Erwich is still working with Nathason?

-- Are we now in the same territory we were two seasons ago with the bio-terrorist plot – wondering where the gas is going to show up next? Has that hotel opened back up? I bet their rates are really low.

-- What’s the first lady going to do now that people believe her? Try to get traction on her Kennedy assassination theories? Also, will President Logan ever have sex again?

-- Now that McGill has been beaten down by the dual force of Buchanan and Jack, will he go back to his (Buchanan’s) office to sulk and maybe pick at his big Hobbit toes?


Friday, January 27, 2006

Season 5; Hour Five (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM)

Well, we had several developments this hour, none of which were all that surprising. CTU and others are becoming aware of what was in the unguarded hangar at the airport (nerve gas) and Walt continues to be a bastard. In other news, Martha Logan is, predictably, being set up to look nuttier than Mr. Peanut when in reality she does have the drop on Walt. Amazing how Walt can sidestep so many layers of national security yet he has almost been waylaid twice by the unhinged first lady. Crazy biotches are unpredictable, Walt.

Also in this hour we had the reunion of Jack and Audrey, which I will get to later.

We roll into Hour Five already with things at full-tilt, but this episode, while very good, felt like the first somewhat less intense episode. There wasn’t much shooting or action (save for the IT guy trying to cap Jack) but there was some very good acting and plot development.

Back at the airport, Curtis and his team are able to locate this guy who is being referred to by everyone as “yellow tie man.” It’s odd to me that bad guys typically get names – even if we don’t ever hear them, such as “Nathanson” – yet the yellow tie man has no name as of yet. He’s clearly not going to be the biggest bad guy but he is doing his best to look as creepy and evil as possible. He randomly stares at his henchmen and stays eerily calm no matter what’s going on. Oooooh, scary man!

Anyway, Curtis and the Curtettes have figured out where the yellow tie man went and they hustle right over there. Seeing a large canister-holder sans canisters piques Curtis’ interest and the dead, foamy-mouthed rats in the vicinity further tweak his spidey-sense. I was a bit worried we were going to lose Curtis here to nerve gas death, which I’m sure we’ll see soon enough and which I’m sure will be brutal. However, after some quick work, CTU has determined that it was “weapons grade nerve gas.” That’s worse, of course, than, say, your average hardware store grade nerve gas.

Over at the Presidential retreat, the Russian prez is presumably taking a nap or watching hockey on a flatscreen TV somewhere. Whatever he’s doing, apparently the President of the United States is done with him. The first lady is found by her lackey, Evelyn, and a doctor is brought to the scene. At no point during this episode does the doctor determine that Martha was knocked out by chloroform, but I would think that would be a detectible thing. Couldn’t it be found on her face, nose, etc? Perhaps not, I don’t know. Regardless, it just makes Martha look even crazier and Walt has the incriminating evidence regarding the famous Palmer phone call that is already getting to be a tired plot. Of all the people Palmer could call, he calls looney tunes Martha? He encrypts the one clue he has to the airport debacle? It’s looking more and more to me like Palmer didn’t really want to have what he knew distributed to wider audiences. Although I guess that’s partly because he knew Walt was such a snake and the President was such a limp-wristed sissy.

Anyway, Martha continues to insist that she had the evidence and was attacked and Logan continues to think she’s completely batshit. Practically oozing slime, the prez agrees to have Walt make the arrangements to have Martha committed “to Vermont.” Evidently, when you’re crazy they just send you to Vermont where there are other crazy people to play with and big fields to run through all day long. Kind of like the farm your parents sent your old dog away to when you were six.

Martha catches on that she’s being sent to Battyville when Evelyn, who has fucked up more today than Derek, unsmoothly begins packing up Martha’s stuff. Nicely done, Evelyn. And way to let the crazy woman out of your sight. Again.

Predictably, Martha goes out the window of the bathroom and once again seems to evade the attention of everyone. There were only two things that could have happened here – either she would go out the window as she did or she would off herself, especially with the “she’d rather die than go back to Vermont” talk. (Not exactly the slogan that Vermont tourism is likely to adopt methinks. [They’d probably prefer something like “Send us your rich loony white chicks. –D]) And that’s the last we see of Martha this hour, which is fine with me. Let’s hope she hides in a barbecue pit at the retreat for the next 19 hours. And then, pushing our luck, let’s hope Logan gets a hankering for ribs.

As for the terrorists and yellow tie man, the only further plot exposition we get from them is that their intention is to eff up Moscow. Hey, that’s fine. Alert CTU Moscow and let everybody go home for the day. Although I’m sure it won’t be that simple and in fact they’re going to make it look like the Americans are at fault. So who are these guys? Are they splinter groups from countries that were formerly part of the USSR? I’m guessing that must be the case.

A lot happens at CTU this hour, including Jack walking back in and having everyone see him and do that stare and whisper thing. Of course, this is interesting since in Hour One Tony and Michelle commented that nobody still worked at CTU from when attempts had been made on Palmer’s life, the last attempt being three years ago. Well, I mean, before the successful attempt four hours earlier. Anyway, if turnover is like that, then I doubt everyone would know him. But maybe they’re all just intrigued to see the guy who duped every government agency into thinking he was dead for 18 months. Maybe I’m over thinking it again.

At CTU, Jack gets to chat with Rudy, who talks about how hard you need to work in practice in order to get ready for the game. No, wait, that’s not Rudy – it’s Mr. McGill. My bad. Fat, puffy, Mr. McGill. Granted, if my name was “Lynn” I’d want people to not know it, either. Use your middle name or something, Lynn. Unless it’s Robin or something.

Anyway, Lynn again seems to win some points by agreeing with a lot of what Jack says. Jack and others are always trying to run off half-cocked and jump into things. Perhaps that’s the way you need to be to be a field agent. McGill once again shows that he understands that and agrees with much of Jack’s analysis but wants to do things the right way. I’m starting to sort of respect him but the ice is very thin. What helps is the way he confirms that Jack is no longer a suspect in Palmer’s murder. Rather than wasting time interrogating him to be sure, Lynn succumbs to the overwhelming evidence that Jack was framed (as well as to Jack’s charms) and hands him a key card, telling him he’s got a “level 2” security clearance. There’s a lot of talk about security clearance levels around CTU today and you’ll recall last year when
Tony was miffed that he only got a level 3 when he used to be a level 6. This hour, we see that Spenser for Hire is working on things that he accesses as a level 5 but that he’s only supposed to be a level 3. Got all that?

Speaking of Spenser, Chloe cuts him some of her trademark ‘tude and then decides to go apologize and perhaps give him a hummer in the computer room of death, where Nina, Teri and some guards have been killed over the years. Before she can unzip Spenser’s drawers, he suspiciously covers up what he was doing on a computer (downloading porn) and tightly accepts her apology. Then she fucks up the moment, as per usual, and after Spenser walks away (good move) she whines to herself, “Why do I do that?” Because you’re a social gork, Chloe. Of course, it doesn’t take her long to recover from feeling warm and fuzzies in her heart and she pokes around into what Spencer was doing, which was tracking Jack’s movements through CTU. Chloe investigates and realizes Spenser’s up to something no good and alerts Buchanan and then we have a weird interrogation of Spenser. Interestingly, as Spenser is being accosted by two CTU guards to come to see Buchanan the Fox summary says that “Edgar watches smugly as two security guards apprehend Spenser.” Smugly? Isn’t that a great description? I think it’s just that Edgar is fat. And jeez, is it me or is he larger than ever? Yikes. Maybe he ate the last person who slept with Chloe.

On to the interrogation, which surprisingly doesn’t use torture or even the threat of torture [Being subjected to Chloe’s bone-dry wit in close quarters may not be torture but I’m thinking doing the nasty with her might qualify. – D]. Chloe is Spenser’s boss, so I guess that’s why she is present, but she isn’t really an interrogator. She shows some rare emotion by squawking about Spenser getting into her bed as a means to being an internal mole. Wow, giving away the store there, huh Chloe? Now Papa Buchanan knows you’re boffing the help. He does calm Chloe down rather sweetly and understandingly. I have to say, as much as people walk all over Bill, I really like him and the way he delivers lines and emotion. He’s the kind of guy I like running things. I also like the subtle touch of having people express sympathy specifically to Bill about Michelle’s death – some of them, like Jack, know that he had a thing for her and that they were close friends.

On that subject and digressing slightly, I liked the touch of Bill and Jack’s reunion meeting – they didn’t make a big deal of it but shook hands and it seemed rather meaningful to both of them. They didn’t make out or anything, at least not while we were watching them. Perhaps during the four minutes that elapses during commercials.

Either way, I also liked how Jack apologized specifically for being the reason Michelle was killed and saying he never wanted anything to happen to her and the way that Bill barked, “Of course you didn’t!” Bill said it rather forcefully, almost as though he was trying to convey a “Don’t even think that way” without actually saying it. Nicely done by both of them.

Anyway, it turns out that Spenser was at CTU as part of an internal affairs investigation sanctioned by the White House and specifically Evil Walt Cummings. Walt’s in for the ass-kicking of his life, though, because Jack is coming to get him at Logan’s retreat. At least that’s what he says. It looks like McGill is about to become one of the converted and allow Jack to get around the rules due to technicalities like “Well, he doesn’t really work for CTU anymore.” Yeah, but if you know what he’s doing, you’re complicit, dipshit.

Getting back to reunions, McGill decides to have Audrey question Diane. Of course he does. Yes, that makes sense. “You know Jack better than anybody here,” says Rudy McGill. Okay, but what does that have to do with anything? And how does he even know that?

Nevertheless, Audrey agrees to do so and awkwardly questions Diane. It’s hard to say whether she and Jack are doing the nasty but it’s clear Diane has feelings for him. At one point, Diane comments on Jack’s past life and asks Audrey, “Did you know him before?” The camera zooms on Audrey’s strained face as she says, “Yes, I knew him.” Showing far more restraint than I could, she does not add, “Biblically.”

Jack learns from Bill that Audrey is questioning Diane and his head snaps around so fast I worry he might have broken his neck. Isn’t that every guy’s worst fear? That two women you’ve been involved with are going to be in a private room talking specifically about you and the lies you tell? Yikes. Incidentally, I actually had something like that happen to me when, randomly, two girls I had dated ended up on the same hiking trip through some organization. While at a campfire, they exchanged stories of dating me. One of them had definitely had more of me than the other and I like to think this led to hair-pulling, eye-gouging and a fight to the death. It didn’t, though.

Anyway, Jack appears on the other side of the glass wall and Audrey looks bamboozled. She knew he was alive but Kim Raver does an extraordinary job of conveying a feeling none of us have likely ever had. That is, thinking someone you loved was dead and now realizing they’re standing in front of you. Diane, unlike most women on this show over the years, is not clueless and immediately picks up on the connection. She looks sad as she realizes that Audrey is a lot hotter than her. “Yeah, but there’s no song about ‘Jack and Audrey,’” Diane thinks to herself. Jack walks away to write some lyrics.

Audrey catches up to him and they have a very cool scene together. A lot of the sappy scenes on this show don’t work well because we’re not always invested in the love story, given that it’s always just a same-day season. However, there is a lot of baggage here and Audrey points out that it was hard for her to deal with thinking Jack died believing she was mad at him. That’s some powerful stuff right there. There’s also some exchange about Audrey’s husband Paul, whom Jack had to sacrifice last season and he feels she should hate him for that. She does not. It’s very well done and I wish more attention was paid to the quality acting on 24. I mean, is there anyone on this show who you watch act and cringe because they’re not pulling it off? No, right? That’s not the same on other shows.

The one bit of significant action this hour was the attempted hit on Jack. He is called down to see Tony who is evidently waking up (and apparently Carlos Bernard was filming something else at the same time and thus has been nonexistent these last few episodes) and wants to see him. As Jack leans over Tony he spots the IT guy that Spenser let into the building and who was just posing as a doctor coming from behind with a gun. Jack takes evasive maneuvers and a kick-ass struggle ensues with the mercenary being a very tough guy. The part where he flings Jack into the concrete wall was impressive and I’d love to see how they did that stunt. There’s also some struggling with the assassin’s silenced pistol which goes off several times, with bullets whizzing right over Tony’s peacefully slumbering melon. Wouldn’t that suck for Tony to die in the crossfire after surviving what he’s already survived? And who’s going to confirm to him that Michelle is a goner? I’m sure we’ll find out eventually. But it looks like the next hour or two will be out of CTU so this gives a couple more hours for Tony to fully wake back up. So by 2 PM, he’ll be prowling the floor at CTU.

Anyway, Jack ends up hindering the assassin with a pair of surgical scissors to the neck, although it looks like killer-man could have survived and been questioned. But Jack has no interest in that and – oops! – jams the scissors into his jugular, causing loads of blood to ooze out of his mouth. He also had killed the real clinic doctor prior to trying to cap Jack, so that’s already two more deaths on the CTU clinic's body count. Good lord, why don’t we just locate the nerve gas and confine it to the CTU clinic since it’s not like any more people would die from that than would die from a normal visit to that death camp.

We wrap up the episode with Jack vowing to go after the mole within Logan’s administration, the aforementioned Evil Walt. They do a good job of illustrating who they mean (in case you’ve been thrown off by Walt not yet getting a split-screen in the previouslies) by showing Jack and Walt side-by-side. Jack looks resolved to catch him and Walt appears to be trying to stare a hole through the wall.

Interestingly, we hear Lynn comment that Walt is Logan’s “chief of staff.” He is? I thought he was Logan’s “security chief,” as per Palmer at the end of last season? So what is Mike Novick? Just an advisor? And I’ll ask once again what Novick's doing advising a member of the opposite party of Palmer? Anyway, now in the course of about two hours McGill has confused us all by using “District” and “Division” interchangeably (something Secretary Heller did last season as well) and by being the first one to refer to Walt Cummings as chief of staff. Is Sean Astin not reading his scripts carefully or are the continuity people just off on a coffee break?

Around here, we never take breaks. You know why? Because “it’s the nonstop season of twenty-four, on Fox!” Of course, if it really were a “nonstop” season it would be over in exactly 24 hours and D and I would have ice on our fingers from trying to type up twenty-four reviews. In fact, it stops for seven days each week. Not to be too technical there, but you know Lynn McGill would have called Fox out on that.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Season 5; Hour Four (10:00am – 11:00am)

I knew that Jack was sending some kind of signal. My wife knew Jack was sending some kind of signal. Even our cat seemed to look at the TV oddly when Jack said “I repeat, I’m in a Flank 2 position.” But that may have had more to do with the tequila-Friskies mix in her food bowl.

Now granted, we at home had the benefit of seeing Jack tied up and on his knees. So we might have had a greater sense that he was slipping CTU an informational mickey. But still, think about it: these CTU guys thought Jack was dead just a couple of hours ago. And an hour ago they thought (and may still think) that he popped the former President. But now that he’s in a position to put their lives at risk, they follow his directions with hardly a peep (Curtis’s brief objection notwithstanding)? Even after he disappears for 15 minutes? So I guess a little presidential pressure drains the brain, Mr. Buchanan?

Also, I seem to remember big glass windows as part of the airport entrance – don’t the police have any visual on what’s going on inside?

OK, so now maybe I’m being a noodge like Diane but hey, that’s what they pay me for. Bellyaching aside, the “Flank 2” communication fake-out does a great thing in setting up the dynamic between Our Little Hobbit Friend (OLHF), Lynn McGill, and steel-jawed, rumble-voiced Bill Buchanan. Like all interlopers from up the CTU chain of command in the past (hm, like Bill Buchanan for instance), McGill is a bureaucratic pain in the ass. But maybe, in a dramatic change of pace for the show, he’ll be the guy that proves that following protocols and paying attention to the details can actually work.

Nahhh…it’ll never happen.

One more little bit of trivial confusion for me before I move on: McGill is supposed to be from “District.” Buchanan (and Day 4 Dessler and Mason, etc. etc.) were from “Division.” How exactly is CTU organized? Does it have local, division and district offices all in Los Angeles? Are there CTU offices anywhere else in the freakin country? Did they set up this agency with the illogic that, while most of the terrorist activity in the country originates in New York, real estate is really expensive in California so we’ll set up everything out there?

Also, if your name was McGill, would you really rather have people call you Mr. McGill rather than Lynn? Sure, Lynn’s a girly name and all but Mr. McGill sounds like a cartoon character. I kind of expect him to speak in a funny voice and fall down a lot.

But here I’m rambling on while more innocent civilians are being gunned down. I have to say that, given events in the real world over the past year or two, those terrorists executions made my gut twist. Another critical part of 24’s success – along with the generally excellent acting, superb plotting and near continuous visceral thrills – seems to be the awareness that this shit isn’t completely out of the question. Change the channel to the news and you have a journalist pleading for her life via videotape. The two shots fired into innocent heads on '24' over the past two hours really brings that home.

This hour had a fair amount of White House back-n-forth going on, which always makes me pine for the days of President Palmer. The man just had the gravitas you’d hope a real president would have. I don’t even know what that word means, but I know he had it. [I think it means, "ability to control gravity." Yeah, that's it. -J]

President BirdNeck meanwhile, gets all wishy-washy because CTU hasn’t ended terrorism with a wave of a magic wand. As much as I already think Cummings is one of the stinkiest bad guys ever, he actually speaks something that resembles the truth when he says that the terrorists won’t ever release the hostages. I mean, I seem to remember a hostage situation at a school in Chechnya a couple of years back where the Russians had to ultimately raid the place and scads of students got mowed down in the crossfire. Once those explosive vests are all wired up, I’m thinking it’s pretty near impossible to just pack up your toys and go back home. And they didn’t help anything when they blew up their ride -- you think these guys stand a chance hitchhiking?

Anyway, Martha is seeming almost sane now that she's got paper tucked into her bra. I have to wonder why folks with big secrets like her don't let a couple of people...like her Secret Service babysitter Evelyn for instance...in on what's going on. After all, Palmer kept this stuff close to the chest and he got a messy tracheotomy for his trouble. And she knows everyone thinks she's several congressmen short of a filibuster already; wouldn't she benefit from giving people a glance at actual evidence and not just her cleavage? [Or hey, here's a radical idea: make some photocopies and store them in Evelyn's bra, too. - J]

Back at the airport, Derek gets struck by a sense of guilt for putting a terminal full of people in jeopardy, which isn’t really fair because Jack chose to expose his ass and come out of hiding. I was thinking Derek would say something like “Well, I hope my mom’s at least really good in bed.” Which just goes to show why I’m not a writer for ’24.’

So the bulk of the rest of the episode is a race between the signing of the treaty and the CTU assault on the airport. As our first large-scale shoot-out of the season, it was pretty darn cool. I loved the initial explosion with no CTU agents following behind, which seemed to totally confuse the trigger-happy terror boys. When the troops finally stormed in, it was too bad someone couldn’t have yelled, “Psyche!” or even “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!”

So the book is closed on the first crisis of the season. Some random thoughts in the aftermath:

-- Jack is 1 for 3 in disabling but not killing potential information sources. He was able to secure the Palmer assassin (for as long as he needed to...) but he lost Chevensky and Beresch. Still batting over 300 right now, Jack, but don’t want to let that average drop much more.

-- Did you notice how Curtis positively towers over Jack? I’ll be interested in seeing how Jack measures up against McGill. If they’re face-to-face, it’ll explain how Jack has been getting out of all of these jams over the years: elfin magic.

-- Wanna take bets on a CTU cat-fight between Audrey and Diane once D&D (Diane and Derek) get back to the office? My money would be on Diane. Hell, maybe even Chloe will jump in – given what she’s been willing to do, you gotta be thinking Chloe’s holding on to a simmering lust for Jack.

-- So Logan is going to be pumped up thanks to his “victory” over the terrorists. How long before his bubble gets burst?

-- Poor Martha. Think anyone’s going to believe she was chloroformed? Bring on more meds for the crazy chick!

-- Nathanson. Will anyone ever actually speak his name? Where is his control room – looks like it’s in a submarine to me. Surprisingly, it’ll probably end up being in L.A.

-- Why would Jack agree to go back to CTU? Particularly with Yellow Tie Guy still on the loose?

-- In the coming attractions, we hear the canisters contain nerve gas. Why were the terrorists checking for radioactivity? Maybe the canisters actually have a terrorist cocktail inside: dirty bomb materials, nerve gas, a deadly biological agent, glass shards, and hell, maybe moldy cheese thrown in for good measure. That moldy cheese, it’ll stink up a place.

So we certainly have some intriguing places to go from here, unfortunately only one hour at a time from now on. Oh well, one hour of ‘24’ still equals about 3 of any other show in my book.


Season 5; Hour Three (9:00 AM - 10:00 AM)

Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same… By the end of hour 4, Day 5 we’ll have two terrorist suicides, two instances of Jack risking everything to save people he cares about (Chloe in hour 1 and Derek perhaps for the rest of this freakin’ day if he keeps up his idiot behavior…), and at least 2 or 3 glib comments from Chloe. ‘24’ certainly came right out of the blocks kicking butt this season. You can see how the writers and directors of the show have developed their skills over the years: even in hours 3 and 4 where there was less true action than the first two hours, there was a boat-load of tension and some very nice character moments. Not to mention two executions and a couple of flashes of bountiful first lady cleavage. Am I the only one who wants a little more sex with their violence, please?

But as usual I’m getting ahead of myself. At the beginning of this hour, I’m thinking Jack is having one of those moments where he wishes he had stayed at home and watched it all on television. He suddenly finds himself trapped inside a kidnapping drama thanks to a single name and address encrypted deep inside Palmer’s memoirs. I’m really looking forward to hearing how Palmer came into possession of this info, by the way. His possession of such a hot lead on a terrorist plot is reminiscent of the “Ex-Presidents” superhero skit on Sat. Night Live. Did he take time-out from golf outings and charity benefits to quarterback a quick undercover op in the Balkans?

Of course, Chevensky would have proven a dead end (yuk yuk) if a legion of wired-to-pop terrorists hadn’t stormed the airport right after Jack got there. And touchy terrorists they are. No cell phone calls (I sure hope that guy didn’t get charged for the call; that would suck!), a preference for quiet crowds, and a disturbing desire for controlled breathing in potential victims.

Meanwhile, Jack is giving CTU the heads up on the situation and I’m wondering why no one is asking him where the hell he’s been for 18 months. Or maybe even asking for some proof that he’s who he sez he is. But that is the last bit of logic that I’m going to try to apply to this show because dammit, I’m having too much fun!

OK, I lied. What exactly do the terrorists want again? Repudiate the treaty that’s about to get signed? Why isn’t anyone questioning what a lame-o request this is? “True national sovereignty” – what does that mean, fellas? And do you really think Domino’s can deliver it overnight? How about something like free some prisoners, get some troops out of somewhere, or any other simple, concrete demand? And if President BirdNeck and Russian BlockHead repudiate the treaty…is anti-terrorism going to stop? Will the terrorists actually gain anything except a little stiffie from making the number 1 and number 5 leaders of the world capitulate to them for a day? Some policy wonk somewhere has got to be thinking this is all a smoke-screen for something else.

Anyway, I certainly did enjoy Jack telling off Buchanan with his “I don’t work for you” bit. I’m hoping this is the tip of the not-playing-by-rules iceberg. ‘Cause when Jack does play by the rules, fingers get broken and chest-hair gets charred. Who know what mayhem we can expect when he goes off the grid.

And how about that President BirdNeck? I tell you, if he was actually the age he acted instead of the leader of the free world, I’m thinking Mike Novick would give him a good spanking and refuse to change his diaper for a week. J was right on when he pegged Logan’s petulant attitude without any corresponding bright ideas. He might as well be saying, “I’m going to hold my breath until you resolve this crisis!” for all the actual good he does when things get hairy.

We also are treated to the first Chloe and Edgar slapdown, with Chloe as usual sending the Chubster back to his screen with his tail between his legs. And Buchanan buddy – I love the steely leadership and all, but how about a little “I’m glad you didn’t get blowed up” love for Chloe, huh? With Girlfriend, Jack and later on our little Hobbit friend saving your ass left and right, I’m starting to wonder what value you bring to the table. Not only is Chloe clued in to the superfine techno-mumbo-jumbo, she seems to be able to count protocols better than you can. [I laughed out loud when I finally realized you were were referring to Sean Astin as "our little Hobbit friend." Outstanding. - J]

Back at the airport, Jack is promising Diane that he will get Derek out of this crazy jam. Oh, Jack, your are SO pussy-whipped! Or you have a near-debilitating sense of loyalty to those you love, which may be a distinction without a difference. Diane holds promise to be one of those ’24’ rarities, an interesting female character who isn’t crazy or evil, someone like Lynn Kresge. (Note to Diane: stay away from stairwells.) Anyway, for the next couple of hours, Diane is going to be relegated to peskily bothering Curtis and generally being a noodge. Too bad.

So not even a half-hour into the airport situation and the terrorists pop a man on national TV causing Prez BirdNeck to pop a blood vessel or two in his brain. [Yeah, I thought they had 90 minutes? Impatient terrorists. -J] Oh, so that’s what a civilian casualty looks like. Clearly the Prez doesn’t have a strong imagination and had to be shown this to actually get it. Does not bode well if he’s ever presented with a situation involving nuclear weapons. Oops, already been there, done that.

So next up on the civilian chopping block is, of course, our boy Derek which sets the stage for the coolest part of this hour: the “phone call of death.” While this may be absolutely ridiculous technology-wise, it’s pure genius plot-wise. We get to see Chloe and Spenser being awkward with each other while also being slammed against a deadline where the “dead” part is particularly relevant. We get to see Jack pull another innovative gem out of his ass, further cementing him as the true MacGyver of counter-terrorism. And ‘24’ taps into the frustration of every single electronic device user who has ever had to wait for something to boot up. The truth is, if Derek had bought it, his blood would have been on Nokia’s (?) hands, not President Logan’s. [Actually, that was a Sony Treo Jack was using. Yes, I pay way too much attention. - J]

I have to wonder though: why, when a terrorist blows up, does paper always fly all over the place? Is that the Koran in his back pocket being scattered or does every terrorist carry a ream of copier paper around?

Now I have to take a brief break from the actual action to talk about our bountiful-bosom-baring first lady (thank you, Alliteration 101). I, like J, was concerned that Martha was going to be a tiresome character and I was sharpening my (fly) pen to slam her all to hell. But I loved the little dive into the sink she did in her first scene and she definitely distinguishes herself in this hour. When she confronts the dude in the bathroom – in the bathroom! – I was thinking, how is she possibly going to get over on this guy? But, notwithstanding the fact that everyone thinks Martha is a loon so her crying rape might not be so effective for her, it was great to see her play the card anyway. And frankly, if a slightly deranged first lady was flashing me her lacy underthings, I’d probably give her whatever she wanted as well. (Please, Mrs. Reagan, can you just let me pee in peace!)

Of course, the improbability factor with this little subplot continues to grow. First Palmer comes across this hot lead somehow and seeks to impart it not to Wayne or someone with two brain cells to rub together, but Madcap Martha? Hmmmm… And the implication here is that Palmer said even more that would indicate that he was aware of the depth of the plot. He’s gotta know that the call is being recorded – was that how is was trying to get the word inside the White House? Again, hmmmm….

For true ‘24’ geeks, we have the return of Agent Pierce, who shows that he’s got some backbone. Or maybe he’s in a touchy mood too because of Palmer’s assassination. But here it is, hour 3 and most all of the past season survivors have shown up, including the Cubbie mug. Soon we’ll be into the second tier of recurrence, what with Kim coming back and hey, maybe they can spring Daniel Dae Kim from ‘Lost’ to do that Agent Baker thing (or did they kill him off? I can’t remember.) What would be really cool would be one of those cross-over episodes where in a ‘Lost’ flashback, you see that Jin wasn’t actually a Korean hitman but a CTU agent! Now, that would freak some people out!

So Martha gets what she was looking for but we won’t know what that is for at least a few hours. In the meantime, a few more glances at Martha’s Victoria Secret fashions will suffice for me. Would it gross you all out if I categorized the First Lady as a MILF (that is, “a Martha I’d Like to F***”)?

Now we’re barreling toward the big CTU attack on the airport when that bastard Cummings rats out Jack. This too is a pure genius plot move and a great setup for the next hour. How many of you at home said “Oh shit!” when bad boy Beresch pulled out his laptop? (Or if you live in Minnesota, “oh poop!”) And how, you’ve got to wonder for the 87th time in ‘24’ history, is Jack going to get out of this one? Well, stay tuned because luckily we’re just a commercial break away from more fun!


Monday, January 16, 2006

Season 5; Hour Two (8:00 AM - 9:00 AM)

Air Date: 15 May 06
Reviewer: J

Hey, nice to see you. I feel like we just were talking about Hour One and here we are on to Hour Two. I guess this is what happens when you get a month’s worth of 24 in two nights. The downside is that it’s like crack (the drug, not the one in your pants); the following week, when you only get one hour, it’s saddening and it absolutely blows by. Oh well. I’ll still take it. This is so much fun.

We plow into Hour Two with Jack being set up to take the fall yet again. Hasn’t anyone at CTU learned that Jack’s never the bad guy? Audrey Raines is back in the mix, at CTU for the day serving as some sort of DoD liaison with CTU for the President’s summit. Speaking of the President and staff, what’s the deal with Keeler? Is he still alive but bedridden? Is he dead? Is Logan the President for good? And if so, would he maybe appoint new staff? Who knows. More importantly, who cares. I need to stop applying logic to this show.

Anyway, Edgar Styles, who is more than a little pissed that someone besides him is nailing Chloe since he’s certainly absorbed the brunt of her abuse, has uncovered security footage from the building Palmer was shot from. It shows Jack’s mug. Buchanan, naturally, immediately tells everyone that Jack Bauer is their prime suspect. Yes, of course, Bill, that makes sense. Doesn’t anyone question the fact that this is all just a bit too neat and easy? Christ, Edgar cracked the mystery? And nobody is questioning this? Well, not nobody. Grudgingly, I will admit that Audrey is the only one at CTU making any sense and she doesn’t even work there. Not a good omen for CTU.

Early this hour we’re introduced to a baddie further up the chain who appears to be holed up in a room with little illumination but with multiple flatscreen TVs. Perhaps he’s doing his baddie-business from the theater at his local Best Buy. Who knows. Anyway, his name, according to Fox, is Nathanson. I’m sure this will eventually be relevant and will go into the annals with Drazen, Gaines, Saunders, Myers, and Marwan. Nathanson does give us a couple of nuggets, though, one of which is that it’s good to let Bauer be brought in by CTU because they can then eliminate him there. Yeah, that worked really well last season, didn’t it, smart-ass? What it does tell us, though, is that there’s yet another mole at CTU. We also learn that some sort of “launch” is commencing within the hour. Oh, lord, not another missile, I hope.

Chloe, Jack and Derek ride in the badguy van to Wayne Palmer’s apartment building. Chloe flashes her CTU ID and is let through the closed off perimeter. The cop who let her through scans the list (of handwritten names) to confirm she should be there. I think everyone was distracted by the way he gave the suspicious-looking van such a cursory exam and failed to notice that he checked a handwritten list for Chloe’s name and… apparently found it. Wait, what? How is that possible? Was it actually a list of people who were missing? How the hell did Chloe get on this list? Unless it said “Anyone from CTU.” But I doubt that.

As they pull into the garage, they park near a gorgeous Mercedes coupe parked taking up multiple spots. Just like an owner of that pretentious car would park. It’s probably Wayne’s car. Jack finds earbuds that he and Chloe tuck into their ears to communicate with one another and Chloe connects to a server remotely from the van (apparently from one of their laptops?) and is able to tap into CTU. Good to see how secure CTU is – no wonder there are info leaks. Plus she does all this from a parking garage while I have trouble with my wireless internet from one room to another. Jack goes and accosts an FBI guy to obtain his jacket and credentials. It’s not clear whether Jack kills the agent and while I wouldn’t normally think he would, he’s become rather cavalier about murder. It’s at this point that Chloe opines to Derek, “Don’t worry, he’s really good at this.” Good at what? Getting into situations that require an act of god to get out of? Hey, Jack, don’t forget that David Palmer is dead so you won’t be able to lean on him for support any longer. Also, I’m not sure Derek’s worried at all – he’s sort of there against his will so, you know, he might not give a shit, Chloe.

As Jack works his way into the apartment building, I find it entertaining that Chloe is able to track all the agents, informing Jack that there are 167 in the area, or something to that effect. Do they implant tracking devices in all agents skulls when you get your badge? Or are we assuming it’s just the earbud transmitter? Hard to say.

Anyway, Jack works his way into a private study that is unoccupied by any of the 167 agents on the scene. How fortuitous! As Jack-o is pawing through David Palmer’s personal files (on a computer in Wayne’s apartment – huh?), Wayne strolls in and is accosted by Jack. Jack holds his gun to Wayne’s nose (Wayne is noticeably bigger than Jack) and Wayne accusing Jack of killing David. Jack’s way to convince Wayne that he wasn’t the killer is to give Wayne his gun. Wayne trains it on Jack and clearly considers killing him. Interesting tactic, Jack. How come everyone else gets knocked unconscious but Wayne gets a firearm? And Wayne? The smarty money move at this point is to walk to the door and get secret service. But no, Wayne relents and helps Jack. Together, they eventually discover in an encrypted file that Palmer had hidden a name and an address, which is that of Ontario Airport. Not Ontario, Canada.

My question is why would he encrypt this information? In case he got killed, he didn’t want anyone else to stumble across it? Never mind that it took Jack perhaps an hour to get to it. Also, I paused the Tivo and read some of the “memoirs.” They include a story about “taking time off” at the suggestion of Mike Novick and a line about Sherry that included “I knew at this point that divorce was inevitable.” Really? Wow, peel an onion, huh? So all that Season One baloney about not trusting her anymore was just his excuse to kick her to the curb, after all.

Back at CTU, Edgar is making himself useful and locates Chloe based on the fact that she’s logged in remotely. How did he know this? He gave Spenser her login to use her clearance to do something technical. Wait, Edgar just knows Chloe’s login off the top of this head? Again, no wonder there are info leaks at CTU. Sheesh.

Anyway, Buchanan calls Secret Service and figures Jack must be there, too. Jack and Chloe realize the po-po are onto them and devise a sneaky plan in which Chloe drives the van out and is captured, while Jack and Derek teleport to a nearby neighborhood with plenty of cars to steal. Seriously, I’m not sure how they got out of the heavily guarded garage, but they did. And what does Jack steal? A Ford Contour. Christ, Jack, wasn’t there a Cadillac around somewhere?

On the way to the airport, Jack tells Diane to dribble off those Bobby Brooks and do what I please. No, wait, he actually says she should meet them at the airport. At this point, Diane is thinking “What the fuck is this guy doing? He’s nuts! I’m screwing a nut case!”

Over at the Presidential retreat, Logan at this point shares with his wife that Walt has tracked down the tape of the call, which Logan shares with Mrs. Logan. It contains David Palmer saying something about having to talk to Martha and that “It’s not a matter of national security or anything…” Oops, Martha. Take your damn pills. Logan is now further convinced that she’s driving the looney tunes bus and he asks he to get her shit together and help him greet the Russian president and first lady, who are due to arrive soon.

It appears that our buddy Nathanson is intending to hit the Russian prez helicopter, as another assembled group of henchmen is preparing for a strike. Of course, it’s all a ruse as we see that they’re at the Ontario Airport. As is Jack. He has handed over Derek back to his mother and he tells them the truth about his real name and that they should go to CTU. Yeah, because that always works out.

Of course, as they’re driving through that loading/unloading area of the airport, a traffic cop makes them stop and Derek notices the henchmen piling out of a fishy-looking box truck with a curtain on the back. Yeah, that’s not sketchy or anything. Even Derek can see this doesn’t look good, but the traffic cop is simply worried about traffic flow and refuses to bother the driver of the truck because he might just be picking up someone from the airport and you can park there for five minutes. No, okay, none of that is true but Derek does think something is odd and he runs off to “warn Jack.” Poor judgment call #3. Wow, that’s three in two hours, Derek. And I’m not being particularly critical yet.

Naturally, the shit completely hits the fan in the airport. Jack finds the guy whose name was in Palmer’s encrypted file but they guy takes a cyanide pill and croaks. Oh, that’s so tired, dude; find a new way to kill yourself.

At the same time, the baddies from the box truck blow it up, startling everyone, including Diane who is still trying to find the hourly parking area so she can chase after her dipshit son. The would-be terrorists shoot a couple of security guards (and hey, who among us hasn’t wanted to shoot a TSA guard in our travels?) and then proceed to tell everyone that if all goes according to plan, “no one will be hurt.” Uh, I think that horse left the barn when you shot the guys who read the x-ray screen. Kind of hurts your credibility.

Derek tries to nonchalantly walk away as people are scattering everywhere and diving to the ground. He does everything but whistle that doo-dee-do-dee-do whistle that we all do when we’re pretending something’s not a big deal. Sadly, the terrorists are too quick for his shenanigans and force him to the ground. Probably should have just shot him, guys.

Our first twist with regard to moles is revealed at the end of this hour. Nathanson is seen on the phone confirming that the airport hostages “have been secured.” (Were they insecure? “No, you’re the best hostages, ever. I swear.”) On the other end of the phone is none other than Walt Cummings, who exposits for us that he doctored the audio file of Palmer's call to Martha Logan. Oh, Walt, you're wiley with technology. Of course, this would carry more weight if Walt had been a character for longer than he has been. However, he’s been a bastard since we’ve first seen him so it’s not all that surprising. It is, however, surprising that a member of the President’s security detail is part of a conspiracy like this. If it turns out to be some convoluted “We had to show how important our American security and weaponry is so we set this up to prove it to the Russians” bullshit, I’m going to be irritated.


Season 5; Hour One (7:00 AM - 8:00 AM)

Air Date: 15 May 06
Reviewer: J

Oh, yeah, you bet your ass we’re back.

Of course, I’m referring to me and D and an all-new season of snarkish reviews here at The Unofficial 24 Page. However, this could easily be the title of the first hour of 24 of the new season, which is the fifth (amazing how time rolls by). We were warned for more than a month that the next season of 24 was coming and it looked like a sensory orgasm, especially for crazy males, such as myself. We were told not to miss the first ten minutes. Of course, Fox did their best to fuck that up by having a post-game show to the Carolina-Chicago playoff game in which we got to hear the incoherent ramblings of Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long for a few minutes. Fantastic. I text messaged my friend and said, “Do you realize how many people’s Tivos are going to miss the last ten minutes thanks to this crap?”

Anyway, so we finally got to the season premiere (good lord, has it been eight months since we saw Jack walk away and into the sunrise?) on Sunday night and it certainly did deliver. For the first time ever, we had a “previously on 24” of sorts at the start of a season – this one said “18 months ago” (isn’t it neat how these things almost always are spaced a year and a half apart?) and it recapped for us the closing 8 or 9 minutes of Season Four, showing who helped Jack cover up his death and how he and Palmer spoke knowing it would probably be the last time. We cut to Season Five and learn that Jack is hiding out in Mojave, California. (Didn’t a nuke go off not far from here a few years ago? Is Jack looked for pieces of George Mason?) Not Chicago, where he was driving his Toyota Avalon and wearing his hair in the style of a nappy-looking bedraggled homeless man. A bedraggled, homeless man driving $30K+ car, I’ll grant you, but whatever. Come to think of it, didn’t Tony and Michelle set Jack up to “get across the border” at the end of Season Four? When Tony said that, I it meant presumably into Mexico but maybe he just meant across the border of Los Angeles County. Who knows.

Anyway, Jack is working as a white-trash oil refinery worker. Err, you know what I mean. Actually oil drillers make shitloads of money but since there is some considerable risk and oil is worth, oh, you know, $50 a barrel, it’s fair. As it turns out, Jack wasn’t going to be getting any work so he goes back to his current bachelor pad, which we eventually learn is rented to him by this season’s token love interest. This year’s token love interest has a son who is clearly playing the role of idiot offspring who makes an inconceivable number of consecutive poor judgment calls and repeatedly has ass saved by Jack. For further clarification of this role, see Bauer, Kim.

Meanwhile, the “first ten minutes” gibberish turned out to be legit because we go right to the high-rise penthouse apartment of Wayne Palmer. You remember Wayne – he was President Palmer’s chief of staff is Season Three. Wayne Palmer, who was having an affair with George Jefferson’s wife, who turned out to be nuttier than a Planters convention and not only blew her own brains out, but took Sherry Palmer with her, too. Of course, Wayne witnessed all this but he seems to have bounced back well. One thing about this that I will say I do like is that Wayne lives in Los Angeles and that’s consistent with him being able to have an affair with Mrs. Millikin, who also lived in L.A. I remember at the time saying it didn’t make any sense because they’re not in L.A. enough for this to be the case. But it’s likely that Wayne was nailing her before he was asked to be chief of staff and was also living here in L.A. at the time.

Anyway, Wayne is in a good mood since he’s not dealing with potential nuclear disasters anymore and he and Palmer are working on Palmer’s memoirs. Damn, wouldn’t you like to read that to see what he says about being ousted from power for a few hours during Season Two or see what he says about the Drazen mission that he approved that set everything up for Season One?

David Palmer is clearly distracted as he looks at the LA Tribune (no such paper, but Chicago has a Tribune) and sees how Prez Logan’s arms treaty is currently all the rage. Yeah, right. I’m sure if our President was signing some sort of peace treaty it would get that kind of press. Please. People don’t care about real politics. Dancing with the Stars or some drivel like American Idol might get the front page, but not something like this. Especially not 90% of the newsprint above the fold, as they say. Regardless, Palmer looks pensive, which is nothing new. Wayne, being his brotha (I mean his real brother, people!), picks up on David’s wandering mind and calls him out on it. David apologizes and acts like it’s just being “melancholy.” Who the hell uses that work anymore? It’s akin to saying you’re feeling “blue.” Anyway, Wayne thinks something more is up and reminds all of us that he’s David’s brother, which I think is just some exposition for those of you who weren’t watching in Season Three. (Also, I tried my best to see the date on the paper – no dice.)

After David and Wayne have a semi-warm moment, Wayne goes back to work and David looks (pensively) out the window of the apartment. I don’t know about you, but I felt pensive myself as I watched this. David almost looked sad, as though he knew he was going to get it for whatever was on his mind. I felt myself cringing and tightening up as it looked to me like David almost saw what was coming. Sure enough, a shot rings out and pierces the glass as well as David’s throat. Ouch. Less gory than through the head, I’ll grant you, but horrible nonetheless. David Palmer flops backwards onto the floor and Wayne, predictably and understandably, freaks out. Nothing can be done however, and just like that, at about 5 minutes into Season Five, David Palmer is dead. I was sad. As you know if you read me, I really liked Palmer.

News spreads fast, and Fox news is apparently the only news channel that has this breaking story. In a very fair and balanced way, they are reporting that David Palmer was assassinated in Los Angeles. You know, this is at least the fourth time someone has made a serious attempt on David Palmer’s life in Los Angeles – I think I might stop going there.

Anyway, Jack has learned of the news and when his love interest, Diane, knocks on his door to invite him for breakfast, he draws his gun out of the couch cushions. All I ever find in my couch is loose change and peanuts. Damn, is this how Jack answers the door every time? And speaking of this lovely couple, wasn’t there a little ditty, about Jack and Diane? (Sorry, that was too easy.)

In L.A., Michelle and Tony – married again – are at their lovely, if a bit antiseptic, home somewhere in the L.A. suburbs. They have a business meeting that morning and Michelle, looking excruciatingly hot, is trying to convince Tony they should go to CTU to help. Tony, my boy, knows that nothing good ever happens when they go to CTU. Ever. In fact, he’d prefer to just stay home and ravage Michelle’s delectable body all day long. Okay, I made that part up, but you know it’s probably true. Also in this scene is the Cubbies mug!! Can you freaking believe it? The producers are clearly just playing with all of us now. Michelle, it should be noted, does not have a White Sox mug. In fact, her mug looks like part of a fancypants set and you just know she is always hoping Tony’s mug will break and then she can get rid of it. You just know how wives are about that kind of stuff. It’s just like the red, crushed velvet recliner I have in my living room. And do you know why it’s still there? Because I’m not married.

Anyway, Michelle wants to go because of what’s happened to Palmer. She points out to Tony that they worked up lots of profiles and whatnot during the other attempts on Palmer’s life. Tony points out their info is on file. Michelle counters that nobody there was active during those attempts. What? Really? Nobody has been there for longer than a few years? Interesting. I guess the turnover really is as bad as it appears.

Finally, Michelle just decides she’s going and gives Tony a tender kiss as he gently pleads with her not to go. She leaves, as do her spectacular breasts, and Tony makes a call to tell the business contact that they won’t be making it (to the meeting, that is). Michelle’s car, it turns out, has one hell of a factory defect and should probably be recalled. Or there was a bomb wired to it. Or they’re living in Tel Aviv now.

Again, this scene made me sad. Michelle, as you all know, was another of my favorites (and many other people’s, which is probably why they killed her – impact and everything). Tony, played masterfully by Carlos Bernard, comes screaming out of the house and realizes pretty quickly that his wife is dead. As he cradles her, we see the explosion image we’ve been seeing from the trailers and learn that Tony takes an explosion to the head from perhaps 8 or 10 feet away and has somehow survived. Where is he being brought, you ask? To a hospital? No, to the CTU clinic. Shit, when he wakes up (if he does) he’s going to be pissed. I wouldn’t go to the CTU clinic under any circumstances, security or not. I mean, aren’t your odds of survival better if you’re going head-to-head with an assassin than if you’re under the care of the CTU medical clinic? Speaking of which, where the hell is Erin Driscoll? Her kid died 18 months ago, shouldn’t she be back in the saddle?

No, Bill Buchanan is still running things, presumably never having left since Season Four. Can you just imagine Bill wondering when he’s going to get the call that it’s okay to come back to Division now? Sheesh, I’ve been here for almost 13,000 hours – can I come back to my office, please?

When the President Logan gets the news of Palmer’s death, I must say Greg Itzin plays this well. He seems truly shocked and upset by the assassination, but it’s likely mostly because his immediate thoughts always turn to what’s going to happen to him. Last season, he was constantly worried the miss-eye-uhl was coming to D.C. Now he’s probably worried that he’s the next to be killed. Anyway, Mike Novick, who is still apparently running Logan’s administration takes the news particularly hard and actually turns away and weeps. Excellently done. Mike really loved David and that was always clear. I have no idea how long Novick will last this season if he pisses off Walt Cummings or something or if he had any knowledge of the faking of Jack’s death, but we’ll surely find out soon.

Before long, Bill Buchanan is suggesting to Logan that he postpone the arms treaty signing. Logan steadfastly refuses and makes some valid points about how hard it has been to get the Russians to agree to such a treaty, but I think it’s clear that Logan is far more worried about how he comes across and about his Presidential legacy. Oh, and where is the President holding this summit? At this retreat, of course. No, no, not the one at Camp David. The one in California. It turns out that, according to Fox’s Web site, Logan used to be Lt. Governor of California. Okay, so this makes some sense. I’ll allow it.

However, Buchanan points out that Palmer was killed “15 miles” from the President’s retreat in Hidden Valley, California. Hidden Valley? Is this a new, manmade Hidden Valley, because Hidden Valley, CA is located right outside of Sacramento. And while I’m not geography major, I am fairly certain that isn’t all that near to L.A. Oh well, who the hell knows.

Chloe, of course, is back for this episode, which I have to say had more of a season finale than season premiere feel to it, what with all the special guest stars and whatnot. Everybody was back for the party and there was a lot less time getting to know new characters. Anyway, Chloe – finally – is getting some ass. Maybe she’ll loosen up a little bit (pun fully intended). As she hops out of bed, we see her screwed up expression hasn’t changed. Sadly, it’s not Edgar who she is boffing, but some guy named Spenser (for hire?). She tries to tell him it was a mistake and he comes onto her, which she also tries to repel with her charming, barf-faces. However, she finally relents to his arrogant machismo and…what’s that?? Is that a..a…smile?? She almost kisses him before she gets a text message (her office text messages her?) and learns of Palmer’s death.

Soon after, I thought we were going to lose Chloe as well. It seemed like they were going to take out as many principal characters as they could who knew Jack in order to bring him out of hiding. Chloe’s artfully evades them (and hopefully will remember not to open her car anytime soon) and gets in touch with Jack after realizing that those who know about him are being picked off. Jack immediately agrees to meet her at some oil refinery (what’s Jack’s hard-on for oil refineries?) to the north of L.A.

Jack, it should be noted, is now driving a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. So he has an Avalon and a Tacoma? Ah, I remember when Jack would only drive American cars. It’s also interesting how now that Ford ain’t payin’ the bills anymore, a bad guy chases Chloe and Jack in a Ford Taurus. Wow, sucks to be you, Ford.

I haven’t yet written about Martha Logan and I hope to not do much writing about her. However, that will naturally prove impossible because the writers will make her just important enough that I’ll have to give her some press because she might be instrumental to the story – and then she won’t be. She’ll just be this year’s version of the obnoxious, annoying female character who pisses me off endlessly. See Palmer, Sherry for further information.

First Lady Martha (formerly married to George Washington) is apparently a nut job but, unlike Sherry, her nuttiness is well-known and she’s on meds. It’s jarring to see how sane and well-adjusted she makes Logan look – he’s a damn rock compared to her. I also notice that Charles Logan makes more decisions a bit quicker this year, but he is also only making them with himself in mind and he doesn’t listen to anyone else. Not a good omen.

Anyway, Martha insists that she heard from Palmer the night before and that he said he had something to discuss with her that was a “matter of national security.” Logan dismisses it until Walt Cummings, the clown who arranged Jack’s murder sentence last season, offers to figure out what Martha is ranting about. Logan is even hesitant then, certain that his wife is delusional. Walt convinces him to let him find the phone log of this supposed call. At this point, I’m thinking Logan is not evil or in on anything negative. He’s an arrogant ass who is self-absorbed and embodies the worst things in a politician, but I don’t think he’s dirty. Cummings, too, is appearing to be earnest and I’m thinking maybe he just has a dark side when it comes to getting things done. Let’s not forget, Mike Novick has Lynn Kresge silenced a few seasons ago and in doing so she fell down a stairwell and was almost killed. So nobody around here is all that clean.

Meanwhile, Jack has taken Derek, Diane’s son, with him to meet Chloe because the dumbass kid was following Jack. Poor judgment call #1. And that’s not including Derek skipping breakfast altogether. I don’t know about you, but when my mom makes me breakfast I eat.

When Jack and Chloe meet up, Jack wants to take her car to get out of there. Of course, her car is back at her apartment, presumably wired to go ka-boom. Use your head, Jack. As they get ready to board Air Kiefer for takeoff, the baddies show up who had chased Chloe earlier and killed Palmer at 7:05 AM. These are efficient henchmen.

I liked Jack’s line when Chloe reflexively asks how they found her – “I don’t think they ever lost you.” Heh.

In a touch of realism, Jack can’t get the chopper off the ground in time to get away since it takes a while for the rotors to get moving. Speaking of the chopper, I wonder if Jack will pay any price for stealing a helicopter. Probably not. You know, David Palmer’s insurance company, Allstate, would not look kindly upon car-stealing, chopper-stealing, property-damaging Jack Bauer.

Anyway, Jack happens to have some smoke grenades handy and he uses them to give them some cover. It’s a good thing the bad guys forgot where the chopper is. They stand around commenting on not being able to see, at which point I think I would have shot them. And if I were the henchemen? I would have sprayed the area with gunfire that I last saw Jack and company. But none of this happens.

Jack slowly kills them off, while separating from Chloe and Derek, but not before arming Chloe. And we all know how much Chloe likes to have a gun in her hands. She’s one-for-one by my count.

Well, you know the rest. Jack kills off members of the assassin team, clearly thinking to himself, “I miss this shit!” He manages to save Chloe and Derek right before the leader of the henchmen, “Haas,” shoots them. How did Haas find them? He saw Derek sitting where he could be seen. Moron. Poor judgment call #2, Derek. You’re not about to break Kim’s records or anything but if we give you more screen time, I bet you might give her a run.

As Jack shoots Haas in the leg, presumably in the hopes of procuring information from him and not because he suddenly became a lousy marksman, Chloe is alerted to Haas’ presence and fired three or four rounds into Haas’ gut. Ouch. Henchman Haas goes down and Jack proceeds to interrogate him, promising along the way to get him medical attention if he cooperates. Surprisingly, Haas willingly complies, obviously not seeing that Jack had his fingers crossed behind his back.

Among other things, Jack learns that he is being set up (for which we didn’t need Haas – hasn’t Jack seen the previews?) and that Palmer was going to talk about something that “they” didn’t want him to divulge. So Palmer was nervous about something. Jack figures out that Haas was the one who capped Palmer and so he brutally executes Haas. I guess after blowing Chappelle away a few years ago, point-blank murder isn’t a big deal to Jack anymore. Nor to us, the viewers.

And so ends hour one. I thought it was thrilling and that it absolutely flew by. I couldn’t believe we were already through an hour and I was so glad another one was coming right behind it. This was by far the best opening hour, I think, in terms of pure action. Normally, we have loads of set-up time and getting-to-know-you scenes. (I was re-watching a scene from Season Two at the Warner household on Sunday on A&E – oh, how I do not miss the Warners.) But this season started off fast and has kept on going through the first house, with everything appearing to be immediately intertwined. Good to see that. This way, it’ll be harder to have a Kim-like storyline.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Season 5: Prequel

Season 5: Prequel
Author: D

By all indications, this next season of '24' looks to be a real doozy with all the promos showing scads of explosive action and hinting at many intriguing developments in the premiere. So I remain hopeful in spite of this predominantly lame and unfortunately overhyped "preview" that I hope you didn't buy the DVD just to get a look at.

The actual story of this ultra-mini-episode is minimal. There's a nice recap of last season's finale that, in its focus on the two most interesting "good guy" characters in popular media today, reminds you what a great show '24' can be. Then it's twelve months later and we see a scraggly and un-fashion-friendly Jack driving through an industrial looking section of a town that we will soon find out is Chicago (continuity kudos to the producers for the Chicago Tribune newspaper box on the street). He parks and starts walking down the street, eyeing two truck-driver types warily. Nothing like looking suspicious to throw off a stranger's suspicions.

Then who should drive up but Chloe who I swear they keep trying to make more sexy but c'mon guys, we don't love Chloe for her cleavage (or lack thereof). Jack pulls her off the street (did you NOT see that coming?) and asks whether she'd been followed. No, of course, not. Hmmm...let's just wait a few minutes before passing judgment on that statement.

Chloe says Jack has to get out of Chicago now. Her computer was hacked and, besides accessing a falsified autopsy, the hackers probably also know that Jack was in touch with an undercover op in Chicago [I think if I were Chloe, I might have deleted all incriminating evidence off my computer. Seems like something very elementary about which she would be smarmy to Edgar. – J]. She also adds "I can't believe you have to live like this now." To which my response would be, "like what, exactly?" His hygienic conditions notwithstanding, we don't really know much about how Jack's living. He's got a nice set of wheels. Sure he could use a good wash-n-rinse but I was a roadie for rock stars who looked like shit but had more money and chicks then should be legal. The only other thing we DO know is that he chose this option versus landing in federal prison or being handed over to the Chinese. So Jack's gotta be enjoying any living that includes breathing and excludes anal rape.

Anyway, as Chloe and Jack part he asks her a question that is thrilling to a casual pervert like me, "How's Kim?" Just the mention of Kim indicates a likelihood that Elisha (and possibly her underwear) will be making an appearance this season. [Imagine, readers, how D’s head may explode if Kim comes back. Rumor has it she might. – J]

So the balance of the preview is taken up by a moderately interesting car chase, with Jack starting in reverse and ending by manipulating the evil black BMW into a surely deadly collision with a forklift. Jack's terse "I got you now" was a nice touch but, otherwise, this chase raised more confusion than anything. In the promos, it looks like Jack is going to be framed for being a terrorist. So I would think the baddies would be out to capture Jack. But these guys seemed to want to kill him. What gives? And the over-revving motorcycle guy -- why didn't he pursue Jack? If Marwan from last season is any gauge, these bad guys have henchmen by the score -- Mr. Motorcycle didn't have any backup?

Finally, after the crash, where was the forklift operator? Wouldn't he be a little freaked if he just beheaded some random body in a Beemer? [Moreover, where was ANYONE in Chicago? Were all the construction guys on lunch or something? Besides the truck driver types, did we see anyone else? – J]

So then we have the all-important end titles: "He disappeared...", "He changed his name..., " "He thought he was safe..." Oh, please -- I don't think Jack will EVER think he's safe. Was that look he gave the random truck drivers at the beginning the look of someone who thought he was safe?

So "then Day 5 began." Hm. Not giving a whole lot away there. My thinking is that the 24 producers shot this preview well before they had a clue where they were going with Day 5 and made it generic enough to plausibly fit into whatever scenario they came up with. Not a bad idea but it's hard not to feel a little gypped. I mean, with last season's preview, we were introduced to two major new characters (Erin Driscoll, temporary Queen of CTU, and Jack's new squeeze, whatever-her-name was [Audrey! – J]), saw on what terms Jack was ushered out of CTU, were treated to a nifty explosion, and even got to hear Jack say the F-word. This preview is slim pickens in comparison.

That's not meant as a slight to the rest of this bonus disk, however, which does have some cool "boys-with-toys" documentary-type shorts. Still, nothing that compares with the "making of" doc. on the F-18 fly-by from last season. The most fascinating bonus feature to me was the 24 "mobisodes," one minute long mini-episodes broadcast to mobile phones in the UK as a promotion of last season. The mobisodes supply a back-story on a plot within the Washington bureau of CTU and show what '24' could have been like with less skilled actors, less hot actresses, a smaller production budget, and cheesier dialogue. It's like an alternate universe version of '24' and it's pretty laughable, particularly when they squeeze a terrorist suicide into a story that is less than 20 minutes long.

The bonus disk also doesn't have any promos on it (unless I inadvertently skipped over them while looking in vain for features on "The Fashions of CTU" and "CTU: A Triumph of Strong Management"). Luckily, '24' is getting more press than ever this year so there's already more information out on this season than ever before. Which is just my way of saying: download the preview, skip the bonus disk, and pick up Entertainment Weekly instead which has a great cover story hitting stands today.

So I'm certainly pumped for what looks like a rip-snorting opening to this season of '24.' I hope to have nothing but gushy, positive things to ramble on about on this site. But, as we know from previous "Days," the real challenge comes in those crucial middle hours. If we're still on the edges of our seats around Hour 14, then we know we have a real winner on our hands. Otherwise, you can be sure J and I will give you an eye-full of explanations of what's going wrong.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

God, You're Making Me Whet

Okay, I know, I'm getting carried away with the titles to these posts. But don't worry, we'll get back to a more standard titling system once the season kicks off. But for now, we're just posting material to keep you entertained.

To that end, just as we did last year, D will be providing a review/write-up on the "prequel" that can be found on the previous season's DVD set. For those of you who bought the entire season with your main goal being to view the prequel so as to "bridge the gap" between the seasons, I am betting you were a tad disappointed. Last year's prequel showed us a lot more that affected the season than I would think this year's does. How do I know? Did I buy the DVDs myself? Of course not. First, I tried to rent the lone disc at Blockbuster, but they're idiots and insisted the special features were on disc 6, which they are not. I ended up using my advanced Google-ing skills to locate the Season Five prequel which I will post here. (Make sure you follow the instructions for saving it down to your hard drive.) Disc 6 just has the final four epis of the season, so I re-watched a few of those with the additional scenes feature turned on. With that feature, a little "24" icon appears in the corner of the screen and if you're quick enough to locate your remote and hit the "Select" or "Enter" button, you jump into a scene that was previously deleted. What's cool is that you see the scene in sequence. That is, you see it where it was originally supposed to be in the episode.

In the final hour, there's a scene where Behrooz (!) is brought into CTU looking rather bedraggled and Chloe and Edgar exposit for us that Behrooz was found in a container ship at the pier "registered to Marwan." Really? Well, I guess Marwan is sloppier than we thought, registering stuff to himself. Plus if that nuke had hit L.A., I imagine Behrooz would also have been vaporized so I wonder why Marwan didn't just cap him. No matter, at least we saw Behrooz again and it's hard to understand why they didn't placate the audience with this scene in the broadcast version. Of course, it concludes with Chloe and Edgar almost making out so maybe that's why it was censored. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. Actually, Chloe just offered to listen if Edgar wanted to talk, seeing as how his mother offed herself earlier that day.

Anyway, as I said, I ultimately was able to locate the Season Five Prequel online. D will be posting his review of said prequel soon enough.