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I watched the second season of 24 religiously, then rented season one on DVD, but somehow never got into season three. Watched the first episode of season four last night, and was a bit sorry to see the show making just about the most juvenile case for terrorism [EDIT: that should be "torture" not "terrorism." Sorry.] one can imagine. That's about all the watching of this season I intend to do. See Jim Henley for the full scale critique. Let me just add that somehow none of the characters managed to mention that Jack Bauer did not, in fact, acquire any useful intelligence from that little escapade.

January 10, 2005 | Permalink


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So, what was that juvenile case? "They did it first"?

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Jan 10, 2005 10:26:00 AM

yeah, I don't know what the "juvenile" comment means at all. I thought it was 24 in peak form. The internet video at the end of the second hour freaked me the hell out; that was incredible.

Posted by: right | Jan 10, 2005 10:33:54 AM

I'm not watching this series for this season. I watched the first season, and I quickly got sick of how many times in a day Kimberly could be kidnapped.

How many times did she get kidnapped in the episode just aired?

Posted by: Alan | Jan 10, 2005 10:45:08 AM

I'm holding out hope that they're lulling viewers with the "it's realists vs. Michael Moore" horseshit, and then developing the issues to at least a minimal complexity.

The disobediant-son theme gives me some hope: first, the SecDef's son, whose (so far) callowness might be seen to mask something greater. He's obviously not a terrorist, he doesn't hate America, and there are still 22 more hours for him to do something noble/heroic enough to confound some viewers' perceptions of anti-war activism. Even if he does spark up at 7:30 a.m.

Then there's the Turkish kid (Fairuz? I kept hearing it as "Bruce." Whatever). If foreshadowing means anything, he will leave the rez over being ordered to kill his gf. This gives us two sons, breaking away from their hardline absolutist fathers on both sides; it could be their more complex take on the situation that saves the day.

And I'm REALLY interested to hear the war crimes "trial."

Posted by: Michael | Jan 10, 2005 10:49:10 AM

MattY wrote: "....sorry to see the show making just about the most juvenile case for terrorism one can imagine."

I'm with the writers above -- I can't figure out what that means. Maybe "most juvenile case for *torture*?" If not that, then I'm lost.

I'm one of those who started watching The Wire based on the recommendations here (actually bought Season 1 on DVD and subsequently watched the two following seasons), and while watching 24 last night I thought "Ugh, the plotting of this is utter crap compared to the logic and tightness of The Wire." But then I put that aside and enjoyed the missile flying behind the SecDef's daughter and all the other action-eye-candy. I do not want any US policy based on this television show -- that's been my position in prior seasons, too.

The Wire is absolutely great. I even signed the renewal petition and wrote a snail mail letter to the HBO CEO. Thanks to MY and his commenters for recommending it.

Posted by: nadir | Jan 10, 2005 10:52:46 AM

It's hard to take these terrorists seriously if their best plan for getting hold of the briefcase is to derail a whole train. That seems like a very low-percentage play - what if the guy with the briefcase is trapped inside the train ? What if the carriage he's in catches fire ? What if he's in a crowd of 50 unharmed passengers ? And as if that wasn't enough, you delegate the next step of the plan to a rebellious teenager - hey guys, first get him to tidy his room and take out the trash before trusting him with the terrorism chores. This makes no sense. But at least it seems we won't have to suffer Kim's big day of being kidnapped 5 times, or Kim's big day of bad haircut and relationship trouble.

On the plus side, Kiefer S continues to sell this tripola with conviction, and his new girlfriend is good (though you'd think first-date conversation about divorce, dated terrorist, terrorist murdered ex-wife, daughter is compulsive kidnappee might be just a little too much baggage for most women).

Posted by: Richard Cownie | Jan 10, 2005 11:18:52 AM

The kid's name, according to closed-captioning, is "Behrooz".

I liked it, but then I'm a sucker for these things. Yes, the torture argument was juvenile -- and not, actually, typical of the show, which usually won't have characters break like that. (Heck, in season two Jack actually got killed rather than break.) But I give producers a lot of leeway in first episodes because they have to set a lot of stuff up.

Posted by: Mac Thomason | Jan 10, 2005 11:41:25 AM

I can see it now, the new Neocon talking point:

"It isn't torture if Jack Bauer did it on 24!"

Posted by: oodja | Jan 10, 2005 12:07:20 PM

I don't like all the breathless subplots. Jack's girlfriend, the Secretary's son, internecine power politics, all the relationship stuff has to run at full intensity:

"You have to decide whether you love me today! Today! Right Now!!"
"Can't it wait til tomorrow?"
"There is no tomorrow."

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jan 10, 2005 12:34:39 PM

I just don't buy the new head of CTU either. Someone with such bad instinct as that would never have made it up into such a high position. In past experiences, they would have been proven incapable. Oh wait what the hell am I talking about. Just look at 1/2 the new Bush cabinent!

Personally, I love 24 and always will.

Posted by: Adrock | Jan 10, 2005 1:02:59 PM

I thought the season-opener was pretty lame. The first season was pretty remarkable for its use of not-very-flashy tech: cellphones that lost signals, computers that weren't running HollywoodOS most of the time. A lot of that's gone now, which makes it harder to suspend disbelief on the dodgier stuff.

And somehow I don't think Kim Raver's character is going to have a scintilla of the depth that she had in Third Watch.

Posted by: ahem | Jan 10, 2005 1:30:53 PM

Re: "Let me just add that somehow none of the characters managed to mention that Jack Bauer did not, in fact, acquire any useful intelligence from that little escapade."

Hmmm...He got the target of the attack scheduled for 8:00 AM...seems useful to me. Jack's problem was that he had NO time to really do anything with the information he got.

Matt mentions that he watched all of season 2...which had Jack kill and then decapitate a potential witness against a criminal gang that Jack needs to infiltrate in the first episode...am curious as to Matt's standard for justifiable actions in the pursuit of national security? Murder/beheading OK, 9mm in the kneecap bad?

Great show, never miss an episode...but only a television show...

Posted by: MPB | Jan 10, 2005 2:15:14 PM

computers that weren't running HollywoodOS most of the time

Ah! But actually, they're still keeping that up... or at least they were in season 3, when CTU switched their desktops from OS X to KDE.

No word yet on which linux distro counterterrorism agents favor...

Posted by: tom | Jan 10, 2005 2:34:13 PM

Given all the mayhem Jack's inflicted on 'bad guys' in pursuit of information, the wonder is Matt's reaction to this ...

Had Bauer extracted the information from the terrorist 2 minutes earlier, the Secret Service agents would have had time to prepare for an iminent threat.

and, if we could please observe 10 seconds of silence for that 'Friend of Kim's' in the first season who had the worst run of bad luck in 4 hours than any other character in television ... suffocated in your hospital bed by the guy who's impersonating your dad after you've been kidnapped, beaten, and tossed out of a van.

beep ... boop ... beep ... boop

Posted by: MYGoodness | Jan 10, 2005 2:54:35 PM

I just don't buy the new head of CTU either.

But it's Madeline. Madeline is back. I hope.

Posted by: Omada | Jan 10, 2005 3:56:27 PM

What about Kim in her underwear? I'll miss that...

The funny thing about the torture in 24 is how often it actually seems necessary and useful to extract timely information. [Jack did get useful info., just not fast enough; if they had done that immediately, they could have foiled the plot...] But it doesn't seem to work that way in the real world. Imagine we know an Abu Ghraib prisoner has information about a bombing that is just minutes away, and we... stack him together with some other prisoners in a naked pyramid and pose for photos?

Of course, reality doesnt work like it does in 24. Interrogation, even using torture, is a relatively slow process stretched out over hours or days. Can you imagine a dedicated terrorist, like the character from 24, actually caving in and coughing up information within minutes just because somebody threatened to shoot him in the leg? Right.

But I'm sure somebody needs to explain that to the neocons that run the current administration. So hopefully they don't watch 24, cause they could get some bad ideas.

Posted by: cramer | Jan 10, 2005 4:28:05 PM

Here's what I don't get about last night's episode of 24:

You're a seasoned terrorist. Evidently, you're so bad ass that a simple train bombings that kills dozens of people on American soil isn't worth your while. But you're so chicken shit that you can't deal with a guy threatening to shoot you in the leg. Fine, I'm a gullible guy; I buy it so far.

But when Jack asks you "what's the target!" why don't you go, "the White House", or "the manahattan subway", or "the golden gate bridge". I mean it's 4 freakin' minutes before your plan comes to fruition. You can't come up with a lie that'll buy you 4 minutes?

Posted by: WillieStyle | Jan 10, 2005 5:17:01 PM


Yep, that's the problem with the Dershowitz case for torture. He says it would only be applied to ticking bomb case. If it's a ticking bomb case, there's no time to take the "soft torture" measures that Alan D. wants. That can take days, weeks or months. If it's really ticking, you don't have days.

If one tries "hard torture" and go Torquemada on the suspect, he can always give a false lead and that'll buy enough time. Even then, "hard torture" doesn't penetrate deep enough to make the suspect psychologically dependent on the torturer and reduce the likelyhood he gives false leads.

Could it be that Alan D. just wants to get torture's foot in the door?

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Jan 10, 2005 5:36:16 PM

I don't think the point (within the context the broader story-arc of the show) of the incident was actually to get useful intelligence -- although I do also tend to think that, since he didn't know what the intelligence would be, how useful it ended up being is somewhat beside the point. I think the point was to show how, deep inside, Jack's desperate to get back into terrorism fighting game, and so he's more willing to cross lines to prove he's still the go to guy for saving the world. If the writers are any good, somewhere along the way Jack's going to cross a line and screw up big time. That's when things will get really interesting.

Posted by: matt | Jan 10, 2005 7:09:57 PM

you're missing the point with regard to Bauer:

Bauer Shot (past tense) The Guy In The Leg.

Bauer Then Pointed The Gun at Said Guy's Head and Politely Requested The Prime Objective.

In the interim Bauer pushed the hot gun on the wound to cause more pain.

Net Result: Guy Talks.

Had that happened 20 minutes earlier, when the guy was first brought in, the season would be a lot shorter.


also, in point of fact, torture is not solely in the purview of the Americans. The Soviets, remember them?, were guilty of this in 'Spies Like Us' ..

Soviet Bad Guy "Tell Me Or I Cut Off Finger!"
Chevy Chase: "Your Finger or Mine?"
SBG: "Yours"

Posted by: MyGoodness | Jan 10, 2005 7:15:04 PM

Betcha can't watch just one. *SHHHH* Tell don't me! I haven't seen the last one!!!

Posted by: tre | Jan 10, 2005 7:59:22 PM

Hey, if torture worked so well with the first suspect, why hasn't Jack brought the next guy in to torture? Why try to follow the guy somewhere when it's so easy to get him to tell you where he's going? The policy should simply be:

Bring the guy in
Shoot him in the leg
Put gun to his head
Find out where the SecDef is being held.

Reminds me of Dr Evil: You just don't get it, do you? I'm going to design an overly elaborate plot to rob the armoured truck of the Quikie Mart, all to avoid having to torture anyone after it worked so well the first time.

Posted by: Just Karl | Jan 10, 2005 9:39:56 PM

I hate to be the ass that recommends a BBC show, but MI:5 (aka Spooks) is much better than 24. I think Season 2 comes out on DVD this week.

On another note, I can't watch TV shows on TV anymore that I know will be coming out on DVD. Anybody else?

Posted by: Jeff | Jan 11, 2005 7:03:38 AM

JustKarl -

Besides the obvious plot implications, and the fact that this is a television show, allowing the guy to take you to the Secret Location is more effective than having him tell you about the Secret Location.

Once he takes Bauer to the Secret Location then Bauer will shoot him in the leg.

All of which makes me want to go rent "Rustler's Rhapsody', where the bad guys get shot in the hand ....


Posted by: MYGoodness | Jan 11, 2005 8:36:02 AM

When 24 first aired Sutherland was asked in an interview whether there would be another season. Sutherland replied no, at least not with him because afterall "how many bad days can a guy have?". Well... 4 apparently.

Posted by: pablo | Jan 11, 2005 10:47:16 AM

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