OKAY, 24 HAS JUMPED THE SHARKComplications Ensue
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Friday, March 18, 2005

There's such a fine line between clever and ... stupid.
Nigel Tufnel in This is Spinal Tap

Okay, at this point, about the only good thing you can say about 24 is that they kill off likable cast members, and no one (except Jack Bauer of course) is safe.

This week's episode (7 pm to 8 pm) completely lost me. This show has gone from piling unlikelihood on top of unlikelihood to sheer preposterousness.


Okay, so five minutes after the lights go out in central LA, they're rioting in the streets, there are fires in garbage cans and they've already tried to loot a gun shop.

Let's forget about "What gun shops in LA are still open at 7 pm?" and ask what idiot figured there'd be riots in less time than it takes a homie to drink a beer? It took hours for the LA riots to self-organize, and that was after an inflammatory jury verdict that everyone had been waiting for. On a day when there's already been a nuclear meltdown, do you really think anyone is going outside after a pulse bomb has blown out all the electronics? They'd be cowering in their basements, if houses in LA had basements.

And then, of course, the defense contractor happens to have not only security guards who are willing to torture a guy, but a 20-man SWAT team on standby in a helicopter which is kept ready to take off, of course, just outside the blast radius of the EMP device. And those SWAT guys are willing to kill someone they know is a counter-terrorism guy and a couple more civilians.

And once the CTU's SWAT guys kill the defense contractor SWAT guys, they leave the head bad guy on the ground next to his gun. Because naturally they wouldn't have checked to see if anyone was still alive so they could get'em to a hospital where they could interrogate them. And naturally they would have left the head bad guy's gun on the floor after he went down when they shot him, as opposed to kicking the gun away from him the way police everywhere are trained to do.

And now we're supposed to get worked up about the idea of a threat to the President -- which was the jeopardy in season one -- when the threat of millions of people dying of radiation poisoning has been averted.

Is it just me, or have all the good writers on that show killed themselves already?

UPDATE: Jeff points out that this is TV and we have to suspend our disbelief that riots could happen that fast.

Sure, Jeff. But the whole POINT of 24 is it takes place in real time. If they put a guy on a plane from LA to NY, he's on the plane for five episodes. Once they start breaking that deal with the audience, they've thrown their whole hook - and format -- out the window. Then they're just a silly action adventure show like any other.


I think there's been lots of silliness on 24 this season but I don't know if there's been a lot more than usual. And I'd disagree with one of your specific complaints:

"and ask what idiot figured there'd be riots in less time than it takes a homie to drink a beer? It took hours for the LA riots to self-organize, and that was after an inflammatory jury verdict that everyone had been waiting for."

Well, yes, things wouldn't really go that quickly in real life, but this is television, and not just any TV show but one where everything in an entire season takes place over one day. It felt like normal suspension of belief for me.

And if you don't believe me, you could go with what a wise man wrote about a related subject recently: "TV is compressed time -- life without the dull bits. "

By Blogger Jeff, at 4:31 AM  

In all fairness to the writers as well, downtown LA is staying open later because of all the business people leaving their offices at six, and NOW having a drink downtown, before hitting the traffic or the Metrorail. And with all the loft conversions going up -many just walk home!

Besides that, it was a "sporting goods" store, not a "gun shop".

The stretched credibility, no doubt, but they haven't jumped the shark. In all seasons, the day gets progressively weirder and weirder...

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 11:17 AM  

I was more annoyed by the preachy bit with the two Arab guys who owned the shop. Could they have possibly been less subtle with the "not all Arabs are terrorists" sermon? (I live abroad and, uh, download my shows from the net because t.v. in the part of the world where I live is really bad, so maybe I'm missing some kind of Arab-American community backlash to the show or something).

The show really seems to have a video game vibe to it, with each episode having the requisite plot tokens that the audience-driven character must get in order to advance to the next scenario/episode. It's like Half-Life, or Max Payne, or Deus Ex. "Quick stop the EMP from wiping half of downtown!" "Oh no, get out of the warehouse before the enemy black ops ninjas kill you!" "Look out, it's the Mysterious Men in Black with their Alien Technology enhanced Uzis!"

By Blogger C.J., at 10:57 PM  

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