Monday, March 8, 2010

10 Things "24" Needs To Do To Save It's Self

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Man, Oh Man! What can we say about our national hero, the one and only Jack Bauer (Jackson H. Bauer) as I call him. From an explosive 1st Season power-house to a shameful 5th Season afterthought..."24" has fallen from grace after doing what most TV shows fail to do, and that is maintaining a strong story for 4 Seasons with an almost constantly rotating cast. "24" has now entered into it's 8th Season with a nearly entirely NEW set of faces and yet another world ending crisis that needs the skills, real-time and energy that only Jack Bauer can provide.

However why isn't Season 8 grabbing us by the balls like Seasons 1-4 have ? Why are we rolling our eyes at Nuclear Rods and apparently the dumbest terrorists in the history of existence ? Basically, why do we NOT CARE about Jack or any of the characters for that matter ? Well that is what I'm planning to answer. Being a writer myself and an avid fan of "24", I know the material well enough to comment and HOPEFULLY I'll be able to address some issues and prove that "24" IS savable IF they follow my advice. That being said, let's get into:



10 Things "24" Needs To Do To Save It's Self


#1 MAKING A BAD SITUATION WORSE
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For this, I would like to cite Season Two. "24" is a amazing TV show that has a knack for knowing EXACTLY how to F*ck things up without making them completely ridiculous. Yusuf Auda is one of my favorite "24" characters to grace the show if only for a few moments. Yusuf came to CTU simply as an information liaison, just lookin' for information. After being snubbed by Tony Almeida and the rest of CTU, who better than Jack Bauer to throw Yusuf a line and bring him into the loop. (Relax, I'm getting to my point). If I may take my "24" fans back to that time between 2:00am-3:00am as Yufus and Kate Warner await Jack's return, Yusuf carrying with him the INFAMOUS Cyprus Recording, things are looking up for this Season (despite the fact that Jack got tasered a few minutes ago) and it looks like Nuclear War is going to be avoided as long as Yusuf and Kate get that chip to CTU and LOW AND BEHOLD, what happens!? The VERY LAST thing you'd expect, RED-NECKS!

The reason why this scene is AWESOME is because, for starters the Red-Necks HAVE NO CLUE that the man they just beat (Yusuf) was one of the good guys, and the item they're threatening to destroy could VERY WELL STOP WORLD WAR III from happening! Furthermore it's frustrating to see HICKS attack Yusuf and take him like that after Yusuf had just finished a gun fight with highly trained mercenaries. Not to take anything from Yusuf, I LOVE Yusuf very much and I really wished he stuck around to see the Season end, but alas, we can't always have what we want. But the situation took a bad situation and made it worse in a TV-Believable way. While watching it, I was willing to believe the fact that a foreign government agent could very well be taken down IF caught by surprised, it's just how it happened and when it happened is what put this scene over the top for me.

It's also PAINFULLY frustrating for the watcher, because we are WELL aware as to how stupid these Red-Necks are and the importance of The Cyprus Recording to the day's events and the fact that they are threatening to destroy it makes us wanna piss our pants seeing if these Red-Necks are as stupid as they seem and IF they will destroy the recording or not. When was the last time "24" grabbed you like that and made you wonder if Jack Bauer's efforts were going to become rubble under the show of a fat half-wit who had no clue what he's just destroyed. Personally, if I was writing the show, I would've had them destroy it just to further frustrate the watchers, but that's just me. Hehe... Red-Necks pull Yusuf out of his car and beat him as Kate watches in horror. Granted, a little "24" knowledge is needed to understand this situation, however, with "24" being a show about terrorism and Yusuf's name being...Yusuf...you can imagine what these Red-Necks were getting at. Now, fast forward to Kate and The Red-Necks at her home, Jack is free and The Red Necks are locked in the bathroom and they threaten to destroy The Cyprus Recording! OH SH*T!



#2 KIM BAUER TORTURE SCENE
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Okay, let's be honest here..."24" has established one simple truth and that is, YOU CANNOT BREAK JACK BAUER! Once again citing Season Two, with by far one of these most gut-wrenching "24" torture scenes ever done by the sadistic and anal retentive Ronnie Stark. Jack Bauer would RATHER DIE than give up any vital information to stab his country in the back and OH BOY! Frankly the best part of this scene is when Ronnie holds up the bottle of water as if he's asking Jack is he would like a drink, only to then reveal the soddering iron and he let's Jack watch as it melts through the plastic like butter...that simply gave me goosebumps.

So...if you can't break Jack...you can easily break Kim. One of the MANY things I don't understand about the terrorists who DID their Homework on Bauer, is that WHY they don't go after his daughter right away? They did it in Season One very easily and as stupid as Kim Bauer is, it wouldn't be hard to nab her again. I'm waiting for the "24" writers to have the balls to give the fans something we've been waiting for and THAT my friends, is a Kim Bauer torture scene, TELL ME that wouldn't break Jack! I am not saying this to be a sadist or to even express hatred for Kim Bauer, to be honest, I actually like Kim Bauer in retrospect, but face it, the only thing Jack gives a damn about is Kim, you get to Kim and you've got Jack by the Bauers (get it ?...what do you know about funny?). What fans need to see is a willingness to put Kim in that kind of position and a willingness to discard her at any give time...after all that's what got us into "24" in the 1st place isn't it ? So yeah, let's put Kim in Jack's seat and see if Jack Bauer folds.

 
#3 LET THE TERRORISTS WIN ONE!
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The crown jewel of my "24" viewing experience was Season Three! The 3rd Season was in my mind without a doubt The PERFECT EXAMPLE of The Bad Guys winning! Stephen Saunders, my Number #1 favorite "24" bad guy was (in my eyes) Jack Bauer's arch-rival. Both of them fathers or girls, both of having a die-hard resolve and both of them knowing how to play the system in order to get what they want done. With Jack being hooked on heroin, things in the 3rd Season of "24" already start off shitty for Jack and in typical "24" fashion, they get much worse. Fast-forward to one of the MOST chilling "24" moments, The Chandler Plaza Hotel incident. That was indeed the most gut-wrenching moments on TV watching people kick and scream bloody murder about how they are not infected and how they don't wish to be exposed. Also with the passing out of the suicide capsules...and Michelle Dessler one of "24's" hotties and Tony's wife being right smack-dab in the middle...it painted a realistic picture of what Jack was trying to stop from being unleashed.

All too often we have to deal with bombs in "24" and in Season Three, it was good to deal with a different kind of weapon that killed you slowly and painfully, and seeing that weapon in action made us HOPE that Jack was able to stop it, of course, we know he will...but seeing it just made us want it more. Nowadays in "24", it's hard to imagine a nuclear detonation (aside from the bullsh*t one that went off in Season 6). In future Seasons of "24" I HOPE that they have the balls to give us that again. Give us a different kind of weapon and demonstrate what would happen if it were used fully and not just death estimates. Season 5 tried it with the Sentox but don't make me puke my guts out, The Cordilla Virus was BAD ASS and a horrible way to die.


#4 ASSASSINATION!
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I wanna roll the clock forward to Season 7, 1:00pm to 2:00pm another prime example of an AWESOME "24" moment. Lemme set this up for you, The President's Husband (yeah, you heard me, Husband) has just been drugged and is about to be, not only framed for a murder BUT murdered himself. By whom you ask?! A mastermind rouge agent named Brian Gedge, a baby faced Secret Service Agent who has been Henry Taylor's wing-man since Season 7 began. GLORIOUS twist, and as I watched Gedge slowly frame Taylor for the murder and put all the piece in place, tying the noose and preparing Henry, I felt the edge of my lips curl upward into a smirk thinking "FINALLY, A PERFECT ASSASSINATION!"...but alas...it was no mas and Henry Taylor got his feeling back and managed to save himself JUST IN TIME.

Okay, listen "24", you guys had the balls to take out DAVID PALMER (which I think was by far one of the best fictional Presidents ever...and no, not because he's Black...). So seriously, in the spirit of "24", Brian Gedge's frame up job should have played out perfectly. The last minute saves are just too lame for words. The thing that made this situation so awesome IS the very fact that it was FOOL PROOF. 100% FOOL PROOF and I actually wanted Gedge to get away with it, JUST TO SEE how the rest of the Season would play out...but again...no mas... I beg you guys at "24", PLEASE follow through on some of these assassination attempts. This Season opened up with the attempted assassination of President Omar Hassan. Hassan's death would result in horrible ties with America NOT TO MENTION could possibly start World War III. Frankly in the world of "24" I would like to see how "24" deals with World War III about to start and proving they were not responsible for Hassan's death...but alas...Hassan lives...*sigh*


#5 RELEVANT SIDE CHARACTERS
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JENNY SCOTT?! ARE YOU F*CKIN' SERIOUS?! That's apparently the bullsh*t that passes for Side Characters these days, the increasingly useless and annoying Dana Walsh/Jenny Scott makes me LONG for the days Kim Bauer was facing down mountain lions and running from some girl's abusive psychotic dad. But here's a rare treat in "24", Kyle Singer. When Season 3 first started I was immediately tuned out about this Kyle lad. A small time lame ass wanna be drug dealer is having a pool party...so what ? But as the Season rolled on and Kyle's roll in the Season became more and more revealed...it dawned on me that Kyle was the best DARK HORSE character I've ever seen. Granted, his involvement turned out to be a ruse, but the very fact that such a young'un could get wrapped up in something so BIG is awesome. Bravo to the writers for tying Kyle in, granted it was 6 episodes and for some, six too many...but for me...it was just another one of those "Ya never know..." "24" moments that make the show great.

#6 BUREAUCRATS COVERING THEIR ASS
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This is for The George Masons and Ryan Chappelles of the "24" Universe. In the early stages of "24", we had guys like George Mason and Ryan Chappelle. Granted, both were pretty big douche bags, BUT, they had a very valid reason for why they were douche bags. They were douche bags, simply because they were men who did things STRICTLY by the Book. These were people who knew the rules of the game and how to play it, and felt VERY strongly that the rules of the game is what made them different and better than the people they chase, and for the most part, they're right. George Mason made his introduction in the 1st Season as Jack's secondary foil, but as the day progressed, Mason backed off and realized, Bauer gets results and you should stay out of his way. Mason was a douche but we liked Mason because we felt where he was coming from, and he was such a good sport about the dart issue.

Ryan Chappelle was a tough sell, after sending a chopper away from Jack's dying suspect in Season 2, Ryan Chapelle became #1 on everyone's douche bag list, BUT one order from Mike Novick and Ryan was grabbing his ankles for Jack and 100% on board with the mission. We kinda felt Chapelle was flip-flopping, BUT Chappelle is a guy who only answers to those higher on the food-chain and I like the fact that Chapelle didn't approve of Bauer's smash-mouth style. The douchebags nowadays aren't even lovable or understandable, they're just douchey for the sake of being douchey. Rob Weiss doesn't even have an OUNCE of the savy Ryan Chappelle had with his douche baggery. I'm finding it hard to believe that Rob Weiss is a man simply doing his job, I find it easier to believe he's a man trying to shamelessly cover his own ass by railroading ONE agent, oh yeah because THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE'S DOING, and he's made no qualms about hiding it. *sigh*

Despite George Mason and Ryan Chappelle's douche bagness, they would NEVER leave an agent out to hang high and dry, and both George and Ryan took one for the team when the cross-hairs were on them. We may have met them as douche bags, but we remember them as heroes. Rob Weiss will be forgotten in...wait...who?


#7 JACK BAUER CANNOT GET HURT
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I wish the producers of "24" would stop jerking us around and saying things like "24" doesn't need Jack to continue. BULLSH*T! "24" IS JACK BAUER! And anyone who questions that is a complete moron. That being said...putting Jack in harm's way isn't funny anymore. That bullsh*t in Season Seven...ya know...the whole Jack being exposed to that Nerve Gas stuff...did anyone seriously think Jack was gonna die ? OF COURSE NOT! So why do the producers insist on jerkin' us around like that ? It'd be more shocking if Jack actually was HAPPY for once, but him dying...c'mon guys, you know better than that. So setting up a death scenario for Jack isn't dramatic at all because we know Jack is gonna survive...Hell, it's only 11:17pm...

If the producers REALLY wanna grab us by the balls see suggestion #2, that'd make us go "OH SH*T!" but Jack being exposed to a Prion Variant only makes us roll our eyes and say "Are you f*ckin' serious "24" ?!"...honestly...


#8 BAD GUYS WHO CAN MATCH JACK AND KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING!
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If I had to pick the smartest villain in "24" history, it'd have to be between Habib Marwan and Stephen Saunders...and as much as I loved Saunders and his sadistic British savvy, I gotta give the ball to Marwan on this one. When you're bad ass enough to convince an American to shoot down Air Force One...you're one bad Motherf*cker. The 4th Season of "24" got off to a slow crawl and after Season 3, I was wondering how "24" would top it's self...and I was VERY happy with the results. What made Season 4 so awesome is the cleverness of it's mastermind villain Habib Marwan. What made Marwan a mastermind, you ask ? Well it's simple...how about...HE HAD A PLAN!! Granted, not to say that the guys in Seasons 6 and 7 didn't have a plan...but somewhere in their plans...things get messed up and then they have to improvise...and well...that's usually when Jack puts a stern Counter Terrorist foot in their ass. But Master escape artist Habib Marwan wasn't gonna let crazy ass Jack Bauer ruin his plans. He resorted from ducking and dodging, impersonating a CTU agent to facilitate his escape, catching the bus and using a Nuclear Football in board day light in the middle of his office building, this motherf*cker was determined!

Marwan just like the rest of the "24" villains had a bloodthirsty edge to them that made them extra bad ass, and Marwan believing himself to be the good guy in the day's issues makes him even more ruthless, BUT Marwan had personality. If Stephen Saunder matched Jack on ability, Habib Marwan certainty matched Jack on determination. And that's what the other villains lack...the ability to match Jack. Christopher Henderson, Charles Logan, Philip Bauer, Jonas Hodges, Alan Wilson...when I think of Day ending villains...none of those guys could match an attribute of Jack's. The villains nowadays just feel like generic bad guys who wanna cause a bunch of sh*t without any Belief, Method or Credo...it comes off like "Hey, we got bombs, let's use them !".

I'd like to direct people to Season 8 (the current Season) in which Farhad Hassan had just acquired the Nuclear rods from a band of terrorists who believe in Farhad's ideals BUT want to use the rods against American RIGHT NOW...even Farhad (who was a Grade A moron) KNEW that was a bad idea...so...what makes these guys think they're gonna survive this ? I wonder if any of them understand politics ? It's so childish, I feel like Val Kilmer's character in "MacGruber" would actually make a better villain than these guys. As David Palmer said in Season Two, "If a Nuclear bomb goes off on American soil, I'll be forced to retaliate." and also "It'll hurt us...but it'll destroy you."


#9 BACKGROUND CHARACTERS WE GIVE A DAMN ABOUT!
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"24" is full of main characters...which now just consists of Jack Bauer...and Chloe O'Brien (for some reason)...BUT the thing that makes "24" GREAT are the hustlers and bustlers in the background that gets CTU the information they need. I'm talkin' about the dorky, anal retentive, unsung heroes, the CTU data analysts and for that I'm using my personal favorite Adam Kaufman and the MUCH ignored Paula Shaffer. I could've gone with Edgar Stiles (and Lord knows we loved Edgar), but Edgar is constantly mentioned and I wanted to give some GOOD examples here of great background characters. Let's start with Adam Kaufman, whom of which "Heroes" geeks will immediately recognize as Formerly Bad-ass brain stealing super villain, Non-Petrelli Brother turned goody-goody Sylar. Well long before Zachary Quinto even knew of Sylar he was anal retentive, yet bad ass CTU analyst Adam Kaufman. Adam Kaufman joined the cast in the 3rd Season and this guy was a mixture of Ryan Chappelle and Michelle Dessler in the 2nd Season. Adam was a man who kept a sharp eye on the activity of the other analysts AND did his job and DID IT WELL. He butted heads with Kim Bauer and even had the balls to call Chloe out. We like characters like Adam because he wasn't some douche bag trying to cover his ass or trying to get ahead in the business, Adam was a guy who realized he had a job to do and did it. Even in the midst of his sister contracting The Cordilla virus, Adam saw the the day through to the end and left the show as being one of my favorite analysts.

Paula Shaffer hardly ever gets mentioned when it comes to most tragic "24" deaths and it's a shame too because she was a fighter. When Eddie's group blew CTU all to Hell in The 2nd Season, Paula Shaffer was caught in the explosion and was HEAVILY damaged. Let us rewind a little bit and get some perspective on Paula. Paula wasn't anyone special, she was more or less a much more acceptable and delightful version of Chloe. Paula was mousy, polite and did her job as best she could, SURE the pressure of trying to stop a Nuclear bomb got to her, but she's only human. She was a very sweet character in a very grim show and her humanity made us like her. When CTU was hit, Paula was f*cked up completely and prior to the explosion, she was working on some serious business that CTU needed in order to find the rouge Nuke. With a latter move from George Mason, he has Paula awakened so she can give him the information CTU needed to get the job done. In short, Paula died doing her job! For such a scared, sweet, mousy little character, she died a bad ass character, because even after an explosion, she didn't bitch about the pain, she did her job.

Now...do we care at all about any of the Data analysts in this Season (Season 8) ? Dana Walsh/Jenny Scott is about as cardboard as well...cardboard...and Arlo Glass is about as subtle as a venereal diseased Chihuahua humping your leg, HONESTLY that guy is like a f*ckin' cartoon character ! And Chloe O'Brien has LONG since wore out her welcome (to me at least). Janis Gold had potential and I liked her character, she was a bit of a douche bag BUT she did her job and didn't ask anymore questions than she needed to, ALSO, she at least made Chloe tolerable. But the people they have now are just faceless nobodies or parodies of sexual harassment in the work place. So if "24" wants to maintain a strong following, they're gonna need strong background characters...which brings me to...


#10 A RELIABLE SIDE-KICK
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Jack Bauer has gone on mission after mission after mission, and each time Jack Bauer has had a reliable set of guys covering his ass, the unsung hero Agent Tom Baker, The "You seriously took him outta the show like THAT!" Curtis Manning, and The "Say what you want about him, he was still a great character." Chase Edmunds, and Chase is who we're going to be talking about. Chase joined us in 3rd Season and RIGHT AWAY he came off a mini-Jack, a bright young man who wanted so BADLY for Jack to pass him the torch, but let's not belittle Chase, he wasn't a kiss ass and was willing to get in Jack's face. I applaud Chase because he wasn't a bumbling idiot who Jack had to carry through the show, he was reliable, able and intelligent. "24" fans have often debated if Jack needed a side-kick or not and my answer is "Yes.". Let us go back to the 4th Season when Jack and Audrey were pinned out in gun fire and Jack whipped out his trusty cell phone and dialed some help. Who came rushing in to save the day ?! TONY ALMEIDA! With guns blazing. A moment like that revealed that Jack Bauer needs people to cover his ass sometimes and it's good to have a character we like, who is reliable and isn't going to swoop in and make matters worse and Chase Edmunds was that guy.

In Season 3, Jack did nearly everything to Chase, he punched him in the face, yelled at him, disapproved of Chase dating Kim, pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger...and even cut the poor lad's arm off (but that was to save the day and Chase told him to.) Chase was everything a good side-kick should be, reliable, self-sacrificing for the greater good and willing to question the hero. I'm not ashamed to say that I miss the relationship Jack and Chase had, but I will say that it was a good option for Chase to leave (as much as I HOPE and PRAY for a Chase return...I know it ain't gonna happen.). "24" needs another set of reliable and likable bodies to help Jack out in his hour of need, so bravo Chase and Tony.
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So there you have it. That's my list of 10 Things "24" Needs To Do To Save It's Self. I know there is much, much more I can go into, but those are a few hot button issues for me. Lemme know what you think. PEACE.