Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Do YOU Think '24's' Becoming a 'Pathetic Parody of Itself?'

*Warning, spoilers from the recent episode of 24 ahead*

There's a rumbling among some TV critics when it comes to this season's 24: While it's not as bad as its previous Bauer-family centric season, the twists it has taken recently are making it a "pathetic parody of itself." That "pathetic parody" line comes from the Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik who doesn't understand why anyone with any degree of intelligence is still watching this season, whose exploits have included:

-- An attack on the White House by a group of terrorist thugs abetted by a security guard.

-- The murder of a U.S. senator whose chief of staff was a traitor, who also wound up dead.

-- The violent seizing of the president who was forced at gunpoint by African terrorists to read a statement on a live internet feed denouncing the United States' military intervention in a fictitious African nation overrun by warlords and whose democratically elected president was saved from terrorist clutches by Jack Bauer, after Bauer pretended to be working with his captors.

-- The shooting and burying alive of an FBI agent by terrorists who later was saved and was running around the nation's capital because her wound was apparently only of the flesh wound variety.

-- The downing of two American commercial airliners by the African terrorists, abetted by other home-grown terrorists, including one over the D.C. Mall near the Washington Monument.

-- The torture of a couple of evil terrorists.

-- A near meltdown of a chemical plant, saved by the plant manager who died from exposure to the chemicals but saved his employees.

-- A Blackwater-esque company got its hands on bio-weapons, after masterminding the actions of the African terrorists.

-- Jack Bauer was exposed to the contents of one container of said toxic material, and he's been told there is no cure to his condition, except for some experimental technique which requires the DNA of a close relative. Now Jack's having debilitating seizures and won't let his daughter offer DNA to possibly save him.

-- A former U.S. agent turned bad/turned good/turned bad and killed a top FBI official, plus orchestrated the detonation of a bomb that killed other FBI agents. That and he helped a fellow baddie get away with a canister of the weaponized bio-chemicals.

-- The attempted (?) suicide of the head of the Blackwater-esque private army company at the demand of an unnamed cabal of "others" who are trying to exact bad things on the American government and, by extension, the American public.

"I have to ask sincerely," critic Zurawik wrote after seeing the latest episode, "Why are you still watching this show? Isn't your intelligence insulted by what it has become and the way it tries to exploit your feelings?"

Zurawik added:

"The Jack-is-dying-and-only-his-daughter-can-save-him storyline is debasing. Watching [Kiefer] Sutherland mimic the sudden waves of pain, the need for an injection, the loss of memory and tendency to repeat himself Monday gave me new respect for the actors on daytime soap operas. Their performances in many ways are far more honest than Sutherland's . . . All I see is a great series gone bad."

Over at New York Magazine's Vulture blog, which regularly rates the "absurd" factor of events on 24, joked about the fact that Jack's daughter Kim has a daughter named Teri (after his late wife) -- making Jack a granddaddy -- as well as the fact that it's painfully obvious that Kim's DNA will save Jack. Equally as implausible was the supposed suicide via the red pill from Jonas Jolie Hodges' attorney's doppelganger which we know didn't succeed because he was shown in previews for next week. (Way to spoil your own surprise Fox!)

But I won't go as far as Zurawik or New York Magazine. While it's true that you have to suspend a whole heck of a lot to try and enjoy 24, I don't think it has quite jumped the shark or that Sutherland's acting belongs on a daytime soap. I think the first half of this season was really strong, then it slacked off a bit in the middle, as a 24-episode show tends to do.

The killing of Larry Moss last week by Tony Almeida was shocking, an OMG moment, even though I hate the vacillating loyalty factor that is Tony. Additionally, I'm not a fan of the nakedly obvious Kim-saves-Jack storyline, because we already know Sutherland has signed on for an eighth season to be set in New York City, or of the Jonas-Jolie-Hodges-isn't-dead-yet because the previews blew that fact.

All that being said, I'm not ready to kiss of 24 yet. It's been fun this season and redeemed itself from Jack Bauer's previous bad day, which was very, very bad. I'm just hoping the conclusion of this seventh day isn't a huge let-down.

Do you think 24 has become a "pathetic parody of itself" or do you find that it's still fun?

Image credit: Fox/AP Kelsey McNeal via this web site.


tom shoe said...

For me, 24 still rocks. It's my only weekly "must watch" show (sports aside). Sure it's absurd at points, but that's the ratings game. Tony's turn and the sentator's demise were huge shockers. 24 has a lot of life left in it and is a long way from becoming the cousin Oliver-enhanced Brady Bunch.

Meredith said...

I agree. I still find it entertaining and am willing to give the writers some latitude. I just hope they don't abuse their fans' patience.