Thursday, May 24, 2007

Season 6; Hour Twenty-Three (4:00AM - 5:00AM)

[...with a "Special Guest Star," for this hour. Of course, Michelle Dessler was listed as a "Special Guest Star" for the first hour of Season Five and we all know how that turned out. -- J]

Air Date: 21 May 2007
Reviewer: D

OK, so I’m not William Devane, but I guess I’m the most special special guest that J could get at the last minute. Yes, it’s me – D – back to lend some additional snarkiness to 24’s penultimate hour and honored that J has given me the opportunity to ramble on again upon these virtual pages in a final swan-song kind of way. And while I don’t have Audrey tanked up on happy drugs in the next room, I did share a Black and Tan with my wife a couple of hours ago and she’s now mumbling “Bloomfield” on the couch next to me. At least I think it’s “Bloomfield;” it could be “Orlando Bloom” or “Bonehead Husband,” it’s hard to make out exactly.

Anyway, as some of you might have noticed via my very occasional comments posted on this here site, I’ve been one of those people who are less than enthralled with this day in 24-ville. For all of the hoopla about Jack being a changed man at the beginning of this season, I’ve thought there were really only a limited amount of new ideas mixed in with various nuggets from seasons past, tossed together in a not-always-appetizing slapdash salad of a plot. While we didn’t have anything that seems destined to be as iconicly stupid as the Kim-Cougar incident, we had plenty of other wacko things to shake our collective heads about. In fact, just for fun, here’s my quick list of the top three near-cougar-like absurdities from this season:

3. The General’s arm (and Russian appendages in general).

Did Grendenko (or Fayed, it wasn’t totally clear whose idea it was) really think he’d live more than a half-hour after getting his arm whacked off? And wouldn’t you pass out nearly immediately from the pain and shock? And by the way, did that Russian ambassador’s pinky magically stick back in place after Jack sliced it off?

2. Where’s Jack?

Why did Kiefer seem like a guest star during so much of this season? I think some weeks they were hard-pressed to find a scene of him to fit into the previouslies …

1. Logan in, Logan out, Logan: what was that all about?

Certainly the most egregious misstep of the season was bringing the Logan family (and new hanger-on Aaron!) back for a tantalizing reminder of how great last season was, only to unceremoniously drop them by the wayside after their very marginal usefulness was played out.

But hearing me grouse is not why you’re here, is it? You want a succinct, entertaining recap of hour 23, don’t you? Well, I hope you’ll be happy with sarcastic and sophomoric instead…

Mostly, I thought this hour was actually pretty good, though it was occasionally interrupted by reminders of how off-base this season was. For instance, right off in the previouslies, we have way too much background on the Karen-Bill situation, a reminder of how ludicrous it was for Karen to feel compelled to fire her head of CTU / love puppy RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT because “the press and the pundits” might eventually get a hold of some information buried in some blue file somewhere in the midst of a nuclear crisis. For perspective: remember how all of those heads fell WITHIN MINUTES of the moment when “the press and the pundits” got a hold of the fact that someone in the White House leaked Valerie Plame’s name and role to the press? Oh wait, that’s right: those minutes were more like three years…

We also get a reminder that the Russian president is itching to attack an American base in central Asia within two hours because apparently he’s got a time-released army of clones or something that will evaporate 2 hours after adding water. And we also get Jack yelling to Cheng that “it’s over” – a clear indication that the fun has just begun. Or at least for Joshie it has, as he seems destined to be a squinty-eyed bargaining chip in Philip Bauer’s game of circuit board pocket hockey.

But then we start the hour with the kind of interlude that I’ve always enjoyed on 24: a majestic helicopter flies through the air with strains of angel chorus music accompanying it. Shortly thereafter Ricky (as Doyle) does his best imitation of Kief so far this season in his little pep talk to Josh. Though frankly, if I was Joshie and someone was talking about “recovering” me like I was a mashed up piece of scrap metal, I’d be a little nervous. In CTU’s “Bedside manner for soon-to-be hostages” class they might encourage using words like “rescue” instead of “recover.” Just a suggestion.

Also, you don’t want to mention what happened to the last person they injected with a tracking device. It’s going to be hard to hug Uncle Jack with just one arm...

Speaking of Jack, as soon as our hero gets a chance he calls his girl-Friday Chloe who quickly fills in any plot holes we might have missed while we were snoozing through the previous episode. Then, in case we still haven’t had the outline of what’s going on hammered into our heads hard enough, it gets reiterated twice more as Daniels fills in Suvarov and Jack calls Karen. By the time Karen told it all to Bill (while he was entertaining an FBI contingent anxious for a look at his Karen-in-a-thong Polaroids), I almost passed out from redundancy poisoning. (Thoughts of Karen in a thong then nearly killed me outright…)

Now lets just pause here for a moment to consider a newly introduced absurdity. Just a few hours ago, Karen is so intent on keeping her job in the face of a specific DOJ threat that she’s willing to kick her own husband out of CTU. And yet now she’s willing to lose her job and potentially her freedom by helping Jack and his buddy Bill – CTU’s version of Butch and Sundance – carry out a vague non-plan that circumvents the Vice President in what I guess could be labeled (and prosecuted) as treason. There’s a nice chunk of inconsistency to chew on.

Eventually, we’re back at CTU and hot Nadia is wearing a nice, body-hugging black sweater. Has she been in that thing all season? [No, it was a no-nonsense, take-me-seriously suit until she bloodied it when battled Chinese mercenaries twice her size. –J] I don’t think so or I would’ve had to pause the Tivo more often to…um…shake hands with Mr. Willy during previous episodes. Another problem with this season: They give the hottest actress on the show not just one, but two, romantic interests and yet she doesn’t end up half-naked even once. I don’t see why she couldn’t have flown out to DC to work Bishop over for information instead of Lisa “Stiletto Nose” Miller; it wouldn’t have been any less plausible than anything else this season.

So of course uber-villain Phil Bauer has hacked into CTU’s system – oh, Phil, we barely got to know you enough to truly loathe you. And too bad, too, because you seem quite loatheable. Phil will eventually render CTU helpless to do anything but wait for Jack to save the day again. I guess CTU staffers will just have to sit around playing canasta for the rest of the day… Hey, I know, why not give some way-up-the-food-chain bureaucrat access to Jack’s whereabouts for no real reason. Great idea! That’ll keep ‘em busy.

Oh but wait, why not fill the space with a couple of inane interpersonal moments? Marilyn Bauer gets all Britney-on-a-bender hysterical, forcing hot Nadia to confront her and lie to her. Which is too bad because the truth would have sent Marilyn over the edge – “So you know that place where the man you really love just got back from, well, now your son’s going there as a hostage of your husband’s murderer.” When you write it out that way, it seems a little “extreme daytime soap opera”-esque, doesn’t it?

Truthfully, the site of two hot brunettes in each other’s face got me wondering if CTU has a mud-wrestling ring hidden off somewhere…

Then Morris and Chloe continue in their idiotic sniping at each other, which at least resulted in one of the best lines of the night, as Doyle essentially tells Morris that he liked him better as the snarky Brit genius he’s supposed to be rather than an earnest and supportive coworker. Nearly unseen in the background of this scene is a look from “anonymous blonde coworker” at Morris, as if to say, “Is this a government agency or a preschool playground?”

Bill shows up on the road and springs Jack from custody. Was anyone with more than a third-grade education surprised by this? We learn that Bill trained “Turner.” Is this important backstory to enhance our understanding of Bill and Turner and add tension and gravitas to this scene? No, it’s something some desperate lame-ass writer inserted because, well, why else isn’t a federal agent going to do what he’s supposed to do and blow away some strange man that runs him off the road?

Back at “As CTU Turns,” Milo’s brother, Stu, has showed up because, where else should he be at 4:30am? Stu tells hot Nadia that Milo loved her and she makes that constipated look she gives when she’s confused. Then he disappears. I was pretty near convinced that Stu would show up later, maybe exacting revenge on some CTU staffers in the name of Milo. Instead, Stu falls into the same discarded character bin already overflowing with the likes of the Logans, Wayne Palmer, Lisa “Pinocchio” Miller, that agent from Denver that double-timed Doyle, Berooz, etc., etc.

Hey, and it just occurred to me: where’d those guys go who were sent over from Division? Did I blink and miss the part where they were relevant / were sent away / broke into song / vanished like freeze-dried Russian army men? [I know, what the hell? – J]

Doyle gives Josh his word that he’ll get him back. Hmmm, didn’t Jack give his word that he’d destroy that circuit board thingie? I’m thinking that the next time a CTU agent gives me his word, I’m going to ask for him to inscribe it on an AK-47 or a brick of gold bullion first.

So, while much of the first 45 minutes of this hour continued in the rambling, shambling manner of much of this season, I enjoyed the last quarter-hour. I didn’t expect Doyle to get blasted in the way that he did and I’m already looking forward to Ricky done up with an eye-patch and looking all pirate-y next season. Walk the plank, matey! Arrrr….

And the scene between Daniels and Lennox was also good; it’s the kind of reflective, “true nature of leadership” conversation that I seem to remember happening more regularly during the David Palmer years. And it let Powers Boothe do something more than glower and intimidate and nuzzle Lisa “Don’t Point That At Me” Miller.

Near the end of the ep, we see that Cheng is not out of the picture yet. This is nice because in him, we’ve got a character that we’ve had plenty of time to build up a healthy loathing for. The only thing missing was a shot of him and Phil holding hands and making goo-goo eyes at each other. Now THAT would have been a true 24 shocker! A little derivative of Saddam and the Devil in “South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” but still, it would have been a nice touch.

And I’m intruding into J’s coverage of next hour with this, but when the henchies delivered Josh to the platform, don’t you wish Phil Bauer would have said to the leading henchie guy, “That’ll do pig.” I’m sorry but James Cromwell will always be the farmer from “Babe” in my mind. I would have sprayed Black and Tan out my nose laughing if he had said that.

As this hour chugs to a close, Chloe starts to go all fuzzy and it’s apparently not because Stu Pressman slipped her a mickey when they shared that poignant embrace a half-hour ago. No, it’s because she hasn’t eaten in 24 hours, right? No, it’s because some of that Xanax or Xerox or whatever gas from last year is still encapsulated in some of the chairs, right? No, it’s because the polyjuice potion she took has worn off and she’ll soon return to her real shape, that of Tony Almeida, right?! (Sorry, mixing my pop culture references with that last one.) No, it’s not any of those. But I’ll let J fill you in on THAT startling revelation, just a few previouslies away…



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I subscribe on everything D said, for me he is like the younger son of God.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



It's been repulsive to see the writers trying to make Milo the new Tony. And I have never been such a Tony enthusiast until I saw with my own eyes what the show had become without him ... how much it depended on an alternate strong man beside Jack. Palmer died, Tony died ... for season six we were left with only one real man, that is Karen Ayes.

9:42 PM  

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