Monday, January 18, 2010

Jordan's Review: 24, Season 8, Episodes 1-2: 4:00 P.M-6:00 P.M.

Over the last nine years, Jack Bauer has dealt with some very serious shit on a pretty constant basis, not to mention being sleep deprived at least once every 2 or 3 years as he experieces another very long day. Before diving into the events that occurred during night one of the season premiere, I thought it prudent to give a brief primer on how I feel about 24 as a series (this being the first time I have reviewed it for the blog). I have been following the heroics of Jack Bauer since all the way back on Day One with a furor that nears religiosity. I remember fondly when the time period for the episode was followed with "...on the day of the California Presidential Primary" and when I was trying to convince all of my friends and family members that they needed to watch this show. To a large extent I succeeded, and many people I know have learned to love the show as I do.

This is not to say, however, that I turn a b lind eye towards the show's shortcomings. The series is clearly past its prime, and hasn't really been of the highest quality since at latest Season Four (I would say that Season 3 was the last very solid run, and even that was a bit of a step down from the first two, which were unique and more uniformly stellar). Yet, if one is willing to accept the various obvious contrivances and occasional logical gaps the show takes, 24 still provides one of the best thrill rides on television on a weekly basis. Right out of the gate, Season 8 has shown itself to be the same old 24 we've all become pretty used to over the last (nearly) decade its been on: We have a strong, idealistic political leader, some angry, "by the books" beauraucrats who somehow still haven't learned the valuable lesson that JACK BAUER IS NEVER WRONG, the smart-ass tech guy, the up-and-comer who hasn't lost his (or, as in last season, her) soul yet like Jack has, and the CTU worker who has personal issues that are raring their heads at this clearly very inconvenient time.

It is true that 24 has become one thing it tried very hard to avoid during its early seasons: fairly formulaic. You can expect pretty much the same plotlines to unfold in any given season, and with a few exceptions (if the writers are especially on their ball, which they usually are at least once or twice a season) the experienced viewer can see most of the twists coming at this point. That isn't to say that the show isn't fun to watch, it is still a very solid piece of entertainment; it just isn't the pulse-pounding twist machine of its heyday.

So at the end of the first two hours, a lot of good piece moving has taken place, Jack is already back on the road with Chloe as his back-up, and the major storylines we'll be focusing on this season are in place. It isn't the most original show on television at this point (by a long shot), but there is something comforting in knowing that Jack Bauer is back in business, and 24 has another rollercoaster ride set up for us, if only we are willing to grant it some of its contrivances.

Grade: B

Notes:

-Apologies I didn't realy focus on the details of this episode; I felt it more prudent to discuss the state of the series as a whole at the beginning of my reviewing of it. A more episode-focused review for the next part of the premiere is a promise.

-Another promise is a discussion of the show's politics and its position on torture, but that can wait until Jack starts electrocuting people with lamp cords.

-I like that this season opened with a happy, satisfied Jack. Too bad that means he has things to lose again.

-There were some very solid action setpieces tonight.

-Anil Kapoor, of Slumdog Millionaire fame is playing President Hasan. Cool, I guess...

-"I'll see you in an hour." Famous last words on 24 and something I failed to mention above: after 8 seasons, everything still happens in "about an hour." Somewhat annoying, yet also fairly endearing at this point.

-Everyone knows to clam up until they get immunity. Its almost like they've been watching 24 for 8 years.

-The new CTU looks really spiffy, and hey! Bubba from Forrest Gump is in charge!

-"Who is Jakc Bauer?" Oh, new guy...

-Jack killed a guy with an axe! Awesome!

-There is someone on the inside. Drink every time that happens on this show...

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