Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Good, Bad and Ugly of "24" - Season 7

The good news is that it was a vast improvement over Season 6. The bad news? That's not really saying much.

It wasn't terrible and it certainly had its moments, but it didn't approach either Season 5 or Season 4 in terms of drama and suspense. And even with Brannon Braga and Manny Coto at the helm, both of whom proved during their respective Star Trek tenures that they can spin a great yarn, the storyline was dramatically inconsistent.

Until the final night's episodes, I thought the writers had totally botched the use of Tony Almeida, and manipulated the audience to a point where they were far beyond caring about what would happen to him. But his denoument (though I doubt we've seen the last of him; for crying out loud, he's come back from the dead, this shouldn't be much of a challenge) was surprisingly powerful. However, knowing that his motivation all along was nothing more than revenge for his dead wife revealed how unnecessary the audience manipulation was. Looking back, had we known from the beginning that Tony didn't really care about anything but vengeance, and that he was the one manipulating Jack, Bill, Chloe, Larry and Renee, the story would have held much greater drama, and been a lot more dramatically feasible. What we were left with was sort of a ham-handed commentary on why Jack is a "better" person than Tony. What I would have enjoyed much more would have been keeping both of them within less defined shades of grey - and then let the audience make a judgment on their own about who was "right" and "wrong."

The ugly? The President's daughter. Take loathesome character, add two dashes of idiot-plot ingredients, and top off with some truly horrendous acting, and you get the picture. Runner up? The first dude. But I've seen him in other stuff, so I know he's a good actor. And while we're talking about ugly, how about the use of Kim? It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but nothing on "24" screams "turn off the TV, right now!" like the sight of her.

Most exciting episode? Siege on the White House. Most improbable episode? See previous.

Biggest waste? Chloe. Always great to see her, but not enough to do. Janeane Garofalo was a poor substitute. Runner up? Leland Orser. One of the more interesting character actors working today, so if you're going to have him on your show, give him something to do!

Best bad guy? He was only on for a little bit, but I've got to give it to Will Patton. And evil Tony wasn't bad either, though the squinty-eye thing got a little tiresome. Worst bad guy? The FBI weasel from the early episodes with the greasy hair.

Bottom line: is Jack Bauer still cool? Damn right he is.

1 comment:

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

I say this as someone who once wrote an essay for a book on 24 ... the essay was called "Can a Leftist Love 24?" The answer this season was often "no," I suppose ... the "let's club the liberal" scenes this season were so ham-handed I wondered if they were supposed to be funny.