not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake

So certain discussion of the TV show 24 piqued my interest, and I poked around on Netflix and saw it predict from 4.2 to 4.8 stars (out of 5) for the various seasons, so I figured I'd give it a shot. It turns out the netflix predictions aren't that accurate, though, since they increased steadily each season, which my reactions did not.

24 season 1: (good) Ok, I (in relative terms) liked this one a lot. They did a good job of managing the real time stuff; making people take time to get from place to place, and having other stuff happening elsewhere to fill in, and managing to make the down time happen during commercial breaks. This is important to me aesthetically; if you're going to do something like this, do it right, or don't do it at all. The plot twists got a little ludicrous to keep everybody in play for 24 hours, and the conversations between Bauer mom and Bauer daughter were emininently fast-forwardardable, and Sherry Palmer was a little too mustache-twirlingly blatantly a foil, but that's as may be. No incidents of torture that I can recall.

24 season 2: (bad) Hateful morally. At least six incidents of torture. They were all portrayed differently (sometimes they'd break, sometimes they wouldn't, sometimes they'd lie to manipulate). I think good guys either didn't break or broke but didn't know anything. Never do we see the (apparently real-life most-probable) outcome that they just make up whatever they think the interrogators want to hear. This is just one aspect of a general phenomenon: the show revels in showing the good guys making hard choices, but pretty much universally the good guys always choose the-ends-justifies-the-means. (As do the terrorists, of course.) To be fair, I was warned about this aspect (torture and ends-justifies-means) in prior discussion about whether I'd want to watch it. And the upshot is it's just TV, so I can suppress that and get on with it as entertainment and not worry too much about the crazy people. The politics as liberal-vs-conservative aren't sufficiently overt (we don't have simpering liberals and rock-solid perfect conservatives) to make it actually offensive. So I can get past that and put up with it, except the torture really started becoming too much. In other news, Kate is my favorite of Jack's romantic interests in all the seasons, perhaps because we got to see them meet, but in particular because we got to see their trust unfold.

24 season 3: (worse) ok, I like that they faked-out with the mole. Even without the fake-out, I like that it only took them an hour or two after we found out for them to figure out the mole themselves, that they're serious about not repeating themselves. However, even with a slightly decreased incidence of torture, I think I liked this less overall. Part of the problem is I don't feel like they're very serious about it anymore. Sometimes somebody says somewhere is an hour away and they get there in twenty minutes. I'm sure making the real time stuff work is hard, and sometimes there's no good solution and it would compromise the drama to make it work and so they feel obliged to compress something. So I could tolerate it a little. But this stuff isn't that; they could have just said it was twenty minutes away, instead of an hour! WTF. I think this is the "we didn't plan it all out in advance" finally rearing its head for me. Another part of the problem is that it's feeling formulaic. Must find mechanisms to put people in peril! Must find mechanisms to make Jack work without full support of CTU! I like the job the Sherry Palmer actress did selling that she really was reformed when she was brought in, so it was disappointing that she wasn't. I mean, it was fine in story terms and such, I just wish she hadn't bothered convinving me. (But the actress probably didn't know either.)

24 season 4: (eh) At this point the show is stinkily formulaic. We keep losing our old cast, which I guess is necessary so they can put in a new mole. The attempts to give the new cast depth or sympathy are horrific, and again formula: since the show is about work, their depth always comes from family. Blah blah blah blah blah. Still not trying, in terms of the real-time stuff. People warping from place to place in five minutes. It really makes me want to write Television Without Pity style recaps and really nail them on every single failure, because they're so prolific it at. Also, the formulas are getting really tired. Oh no, there's a mole at CTU! Of course they know they've done it before, so they spin it differently (again), but it's still tiresome. Oh no, Jack has to work without support of CTU, or with only Chloe knowing and helping him. (Oh yeah: yay Chloe, both here and last season.) One thing they're getting better at is keeping things moving more; in the first season it was pretty annoying to know there was probably another mole for almost the entire season, and not have it be addressed. Also, having Bauer's daughter being kidnapped for 14-ish episodes or whatever. Now it gets more implausible as a lot more stuff happens in a single day, but it keeps things from getting as boring. On the politics/moral front: this season shows us alterna-torture more than regular torture. But also, sigh, simpering liberal who (1) is portrayed as unrealistic about the consequences of his beliefs, (2) doesn't know/believe that he's being "used" by others in his movement due to his familial relations, (3) "cowardly" flees from a gun-battle, (4) turns out to be gay and even [spoiler] with a [spoiler]! Come on!

25 season 5: (ok) All the same complaints, all the same positives. Also, guys, please decide: is it "District" or "Division"? Oh, and if you're going to have someone take over Los Angeles CTU, why is it Homeland Security, not District/Division? Why don't District/Division have anything to say about it? Why do they seem to simply cease to exist? Please! Also, Mary Lynn Rajskub totally rocked the Chloe close-ups when you-know-who died. It's awesome how much screen time they gave her.

the CTU family formula

S1 wife, daughter
Nina Myers
Jamie Farrell
S1 offscreen son
Michelle Dessler
George Mason
S2 estranged son
Erin Driscoll
S3 crazy daughter
S4 sick mother
Samwise Gamgee
S5 skanky sister
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