24….Matt Yglesias, currently hooked on The Wire, has given up on 24. Why? Because in this season’s opening episode Jack Bauer broke into an interrogation room, locked everyone else out, and shot a bad guy in the knee in order to extract some information about a kidnapping scheduled to happen ten minutes later. “Just about the most juvenile case for torture one can imagine,” he says.
I don’t get it. My problem with this scene wasn’t that 24 had suddenly sunk to the level of torturing suspects to get information. My problem was that it was doing it yet again. I mean, this is just SOP in the 24 universe. Why is it suddenly such a turnoff?
As it happens, the 24 premiere didn’t do much for me either, but for different reasons. First, there are practically no returning characters so far. That’s kind of a drag. But far more important is that the writers need to come up with something new. Really new. Sure, Jack works for CTU, and that means he’s going to chase down terrorists. But when every season turns into a massive global terrorist plot, it eventually gets hard to tell them apart. Which city are they going to threaten to obliterate this time?
My suggestion would have been to tone it down this season. Pick a small terrorist plot with an interesting twist. Focus on some different characters. Ditch the endless cell phone conversations with Air Force One. It could still have been plenty exciting and fast moving, but it would have been a change of pace. Something genuinely different from the first three seasons.
But no one asked me. Sigh. The kneecap shooting was dumb, but it’s the idea of sitting through yet another indistinguishable Middle Eastern terrorist plot that’s got me fidgety. I’ll watch at least a couple more episodes, but that might be it. We’ll see.