Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jack's Back

A few thoughts on last weekend’s “24” premier…

1. I was tempted to write “a few thoughts on last weekend’s long-awaited ‘24’ premier”, but I’m not sure that would have been honest. It’s nice to have a new episode to look forward to every week instead of having to endure periodic repeats—shows like “24” and “Lost” are so dependent on rhythm, anyway—but I wonder if having such a long stretch between seasons (May-January, seriously!) dilutes viewer interest a bit too much.

2. This factor just adds to the already dubious challenge faced by “24” producers—how do you up the ante every season when you’ve already given us nerve gas and potential nuke threats? Well, according to Monday night’s episode, you nuke Valencia, California.

3. Incidentally, Valencia may have been the first place I would have chosen to fall to an accidental nuke tragedy, next to Afton, Wyoming. I had a mission companion from there that made me go to Walgreen’s every day to pick up little stickers for the postcards he’d send home to his girlfriend. Any protest on my part was met with the justification, “you don’t understand”. I still don’t.

4. No matter what happens this season, I’m still going to be disappointed that the producers decided to just release Jack from the Chinese instead of make Season 6 an epic rescue mission led by Curtis. Essentially “24” pulled an “Episode III” and cut to the end of the Clone Wars instead of letting us experience what it could have been.

5. To a degree, “24” roped me in by introducing this season’s “I can’t believe Jack just did that” moment, when our hero literally “goes for the jugular” in order to free himself from the bad guy’s torture room. I’ll need some time and perspective to make a final call, but right now I’m trying to decide whether this moment matches or exceeds John Cusack killing the Hungarian hit man in “Grosse Pointe Blank” by stabbing him in the neck with the pen the lawyer had given him at his 10-year high school reunion.

6. Yeah, I’m sticking with Cusack at this point.

7. OK, Curtis’ death was a blow, but it’s starting to mark an unfortunate trend. I know that the “24” guys have tried to establish since Season One that “no one is safe” in order to raise the tension of the series. But now the message that’s coming through is that not only is Jack completely safe, but EVERYONE ELSE IS GOING TO DIE. Seriously, who’s left from Season One? Two? Three?

8. Curtis-related comment #2: Unless Curtis miraculously survived Jack’s shot to the neck (is this going to be the “Neck Season” for “24”?), my theory that the “24” producers are going to kill Jack and make Curtis the go-to guy for the show is in the can. Oh well.

9. Is Wayne Palmer old enough to be President?