Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This guy does a great Charles Logan impersonation

Monday, April 17, 2006

Our government has no integrity!

Excellent line, Jack! Good show tonight. I especially liked the music. Heller's entrance to the Western White House, with Martha Logan looking on, had a nice impressionistic-sounding soundtrack, while Chloe's arrival at Buchanan's house was accompanied by some classic secret-agent music.

The episode seemed pretty low on plot flaws, by "24" standards, but there were a few.

First, doesn't anybody think to make a COPY of a recording before using it to expose, threaten, blackmail, whatever? Not Evelyn. Not Jack. Not Wayne. Not the bank guy. Not Audrey. Not Heller. I realize how difficult this would be in this day and age, when most cellphones and PDA's and computers have recording capabilities, when all you need to do is call ANY phone with an answering machine or voicemail. Heck, the NSA probably has a dozen copies of the conversation!

Okay. We'll let that slide and pretend that Evelyn's recorder is a precious, irreplaceable piece of evidence. So Jack's idea is to give it to the only guy in the known universe who can take him down with one punch, 70-year-old James Heller. Heller's idea of a secure hiding place is giving it to his secret-service guy and having him stand around at an airport, where it's likely to be tracked down. Hey guys--why not take Jack, Audrey AND the recording on board that nice jet and fly incognito out to Vandenburg, or Saugus, or Visalia, or Las Nieves, or maybe Catalina? Or maybe just stay airborne until something is figured out.

And what happened to Aaron? Was his cellphone on the ground supposed to indicate that he has been taken out, or was it some sort of message to Martha? If he was taken out, WHO took him out? Does Logan have some other Secret Service agent in on the plot with him? After his earlier heroics, it would be really cruel for the show to just kill him off-screen.

Interestingly gruesome tit-for-tat. Jack shoots Henderson's woman in the leg, so Henderson cuts Jack's woman in the arm. I was wondering why Audrey was wearing white while sneaking around all over LA--the blood wouldn't show on black. Probably a reference to some horror movie I never saw as well.

If Mary Lynn Rajskub got more roles

Mary Lynn Rajskub, as if you didn't know, plays Chloe. I was talking to Bro Jim last night about the movie "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." Drew Barrymore plays Penny, Chuck Barris' main squeeze (among many). I wondered how Chloe might play that role.
Penny: I'm a hippy now! Get over it.
Or maybe she could have played Rose in "Titanic:"
Rose: You know, Jack, you draw well and I guess you're kinda cute. But how do you manage not to kill yourself every day knowing you're a poor, shiftless loser who could only get on this ship by winning at cards, probably for the first time in your life? I know I would. Oh, I'm sorry, have I been inappropriate? I do that.
Or she could have been Rachel on "Friends."
Rachel: Well, Chandler, Joey, Ross, Monica and Phoebe are all dead. They were the best friends I ever had, and I treated them like dirt. What are you lookin' at?
Or Hot Lips on "M*A*S*H."
Hot Lips: Hawkeye, get me the third metatarsal from the sergeant and stick it into that corporal over there. Then plug that ventilator into that socket, and have the movie sent to my screen. NOW!
Or Meg Ryan's role in "Sleepless in Seattle:"
Radio caller: Hey Sleepless! Get a life.
Or June Cleaver on "Leave It to Beaver."
Wally: Hey, Mom. The Beave just fell off the roof. I think he's hurt.
June: Wally, the living room hasn't been dusted, the casserole's due out of the oven in, ah, 12 seconds, and your father will be home any minute. You're what, 14? Deal with it.
Eddie Haskell: Hello, Mrs. Cleaver. Don't you look nice today?
June: Shove it, Eddie. Why don't you go see what the Beaver has been up to, and do it yourself?
She could have been Mission Control in Apollo 13:
Lovell: Houston, we have a problem.
Mission Control: What you mean "we," Apollo 13? It's a climate-controlled 72 degrees here in Houston. We've got basically unlimited food and water, and we all get to go home when our shift is over. It's YOU that have a problem.
Maybe she could have gotten the CBS News anchor job instead of Katie Couric.
Mary Lynn: As you can see, the insurgents are operating at 87%, make that 88% efficiency, while the Marines' armor is down to 34% capacity and they have only three shells left. Oh, and another Parliament member just got offed. Looks like we're losing this war. Oh crap, I've been inappropriate again, haven't I?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

If you want the details, I'll write you a report

I'll bet Miles insists on that report of Chloe's bathroom activities, too. I think that scene was even better than Chloe's Rambo moment last season. (Also, I think it's the first hint in five seasons that anyone has used a restroom for anything besides a secret phone call. And haven't the CTU restrooms had doors on them in previous seasons? That looked like the high-volume doorless type you'd see at a sports stadium.)

BTW, Kiefer has been signed to play Jack Bauer through 2009. There's going to be a Season Eight? I sure hope they hire some writers.

So Evelyn's kid has literal blood on her hands, but none of the figurative kind, until she goes into the bathroom to wash the literal stuff off. She decides to break down in tears there, forcing her mother out of bed, which causes Mom to pass out. The kid then dials 911, which for some reason insists on knowing the victim's full name before knowing where the victim is. So now the kid has figurative blood on her hands as well. Maybe Jack should have told her that if she called 911, she should give another name. You got your contract extended for shoddy work like this?

Couldn't Jack and Wayne have worked out a better way to get the bank president to open the vault? Or maybe just get Chloe to unlock it for them? (She could probably do that while on the toilet.) Maybe all of her computers are still tied up measuring percent pressure levels at gas distribution centers. At least give the guy a chance to recognize Wayne as David's brother--he would probably have gone along with them since he admired David. (Totally unrealistic, BTW. Must be the only bank president in the country who would have admired a black Democratic president.) Instead, Jack and Wayne got the guy killed, and left his wife to slowly dehydrate in her home, bound and gagged by four ties, which she probably gave to the guy for Christmas. How ironic.

So Audrey's dad is going to give Logan some Heller? The Van Nuys Airport seems to come up alot in 24--wasn't that where Kim first escaped from her college-boy captors in season one, fleeing down the alleyways of male prostitution? I used to live less than two miles from the Van Nuys Airport, which is why I'm qualified to write this blog.

If/when they ever explain what Logan is up to, I wonder if the inconsistencies with the first 14 hours or so will be kept in double digits, or will they explode into the hundreds or thousands? One I can think of right off. If David Palmer knew Logan was up to something, why was it imperative for him to tell the First Lady, whose loyalty and sanity would clearly be in question, as well as her ability to do anything about it. Surely as a respected former president (we used to have some, a long time ago) he knows some reporters (or bank presidents) who would be delighted to quote him on background. And another thing--when did Evelyn have time to go to a bank? Hadn't she been at the western White House from the time Martha stuck her made-up face in the sink back around 7:30 AM until she left the compound about an hour and a half ago?

So what is Logan up to?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I wonder when they figured out that Logan was the mole

The writers, that is. Yesterday, about 5 pm, maybe? My head hurts just trying to imagine how many inconsistencies I could find if I really went looking. The president AND his security chief are both running secret ops out of the White House, but the secret service, the chief of staff, and the first lady know nothing about it. The only way they'll find out is if a former president or his brother delivers a message in person. A former president who has been shut out of the loop, reduced to doing insurance commercials and special-ops jobs overseas. Were Cummings and Logan running the same op, or different ones? I'd say the chances are excellent that in the next hour or two Jack will find a surveillance video showing that Cummings' death was no suicide. (Although surely it wasn't the weakling Logan who strung the larger, stronger Cummings to the ceiling.)

I'll have to think about that some more. Meanwhile, some more obvious inconsistencies. First, why would the first lady's assistant live in LA with her daughter? Or maybe when Evelyn left to go home, she was going to drive all the way to Bethesda. Second, since Henderson is working for the president, why this elaborate scheme to get the documents from her? Logan and Henderson seem to already know what the documents say--they expose their plot. So they don't really care about getting their hands on them; they only want to make sure Evelyn doesn't give them to Jack or Seymour Hersh. Let's see--she's in the Western White House, terrorist attacks have been going on all day, martial law has been imposed. How about a) Not letting her go at all, or b) searching her and her car thoroughly as she leaves the compound. Logan could easily order either a general lockdown or thorough searches of everyone leaving. But that wouldn't give Jack and Wayne their opportunity for a shootout at the OK corral.

The business with Homeland Security taking over CTU is silly. DHS can't get a few trailers to New Orleans within a few months, but they have agents ready to take over for Edgar and Chloe on a moment's notice? Yeah, right. Of course, now that we know that Logan is behind the attacks, we can see this as intentionally disabling CTU, the only obstacle in Logan's way. Then again, using McGill's sister to get at his keycard, rather than just having the president call CTU and ask for one, seems deliberately obtuse. And Audrey pretended not to want to sell out CTU, but don't forget--she slept with Cummings. And isn't it about time she called Daddy?

It will be interesting to see what Logan is supposedly up to. Both Cummings and Henderson have claimed they are "true patriots," so in their minds there is some higher purpose to all the mayhem. Is it strictly a way to exploit terror attacks as a means to destroy the Constitution, as Bush is doing with his so-called "war on terror?" Will heads explode over at Fox News if Fox Entertainment does that?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Okay, I liked that one

Almost as absurd as the rest of the season, but more entertaining. Audrey does being tortured better than her brother or Henderson, or even Rogers Stanton from season two. Shari the serial sexual-harrassment accuser adds an interesting twist. As a chemistry major, she is remarkably well-informed on the natural gas business and how gas and centox react at various pressures. CTU's access to the pressure levels at every gas distribution center in LA is impressive, as is the fact that they can read it on fancy graphs in percentages, not in simple numbers in PSI. (Sort of like Mike Novick's ready-to-use 25th amendment cabinet-polling software used in the coup in season two.) Why the centox can be destroyed by burning it at the distribution center, but won't be when burned in the stoves and water heaters of LA is unexplained (I've seen no evidence that the weather is cold, so furnaces probably aren't on). If burning the centox deactivates it, then pilot lights would need to be shut off for it to kill anyone. Of course, if the terrorists could do that, they could have just had the natural gas kill everybody and saved themselves a lot of season-five trouble. Also, the engineer at the distribution center probably knows how to shut down the main valve leaving the facility, which would have trapped all the centox at the plant, which could then be safely bombed by F-18's after everybody has evacuated (better do it before the centox eats through all of the seals!). But then Jack wouldn't have had the opportunity to run the gauntlet of fire, so he asked where the gas comes in instead.

Another thing--they blew all 17 remaining canisters on this attack, leaving the show in exactly the same situation as in season two--problem solved and nine hours to go. Last year, the last 45 minutes were ALL ABOUT JACK; are they going to do that for nine hours this time?

Also, somehow Audrey managed to get through the past three years without learning that Walt Cummings had ordered that Jack be killed, even though she could have found out from Mike Novick, David Palmer, Tony, Michelle or Chloe. And, after seeing her brother tortured for failing to report a one-night stand, she still doesn't tell Jack about her fling with Cummings. Come on, Audrey--Jack already knows you're a heterosexual! They've got nine hours; I'll bet they get back to Audrey being involved. Next week's previews seem to support my thesis that Evelyn is in on it, although I did throw a pretty wide net on that one.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Audrey's a mole?

Wait until her daddy gets a hold of her!

So. Last week, CTU grew to the size of the U of M hospital. It took Jack forever to get from the conference room to where he could see the computer that needed hacking, and then it took Lynn another forever to actually get to it. Then, when Tony was threatening Henderson it took Jack another couple of minutes to get to the clinic, something Driscoll and Audrey did in about ten seconds last season. Of course, once Henderson finished off Tony, he was able to get clearly out of the building in about 15 seconds. Not to mention that all the bodies, even Edgar's, were cleared from CTU in about two minutes, using all that extra staff which magically appeared out of nowhere, having managed to avoid being gassed. I remember watching the commentaries on the DVD's from the first two seasons--they used to care about things like time. This season, LA and CTU are as big or as small as they need at any given moment.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Vice President is in on some dastardly plot to destroy the country. At least something this season is realistic. After his brother's death, Wayne Palmer apparently sat around for twelve hours before deciding he urgently needed to tell someone David trusted the critical information he possesses. Hey Wayne! You could have told Jack twelve hours ago!

And, for a plot intended to deliver nerve gas to attack Russians, the bad guys sure have a lot of contingency plans. They stole Lynn's keycard long before deciding to attack CTU, just in case. They hired Collette to get plans for some "distribution center" where they can kill 200,000--just in case. And I'm sure Naked Mandy is waiting in the wings with her crack team of nuclear-narco-lesbians ready to do unimaginable harm somewhere--just in case.

You've got to figure that the Audrey-Collette axis is like the Tony-Jack-Gael axis from season three--so secretive even the participants don't know they're a part of it until later. Other likely participants: Martha Logan's assistant, Evelyn, who has been adjusting her meds all day to gently tweak events in the proper direction. Kim's psych guy, who has been adjusting Kim's meds for years for just this moment. Mrs. Henderson, who took one just above the knee for the team. Mrs. Suvarov, of course, is in on it, as is Chase (he didn't want to run off on Kim--he "had no choice," like a woman in South Dakota). The last member of the counter-counter plot is Curtis, whose apparent incompetence is just a cover for his real incompetence. (Has Curtis ever gotten the drop on anyone? Jack knocks him out cold and he comes back for more, and the German agent got his gun from him in an Augenblick. And that's just this year. Chloe could so take him down!)

Of course the German agent is really one of the bad guys--the Collette thing was probably just a sting to distract attention away from him. He memorized the entire wet list in the ten seconds Jack let him see it, and sat-phoned it to Osama while he was kissing Collette in the parking lot.

Not sure why I keep watching--I guess seeing Jack rough up Audrey is something.

Anybody still reading this?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Call in Homeland Security

Yeah, right. Put Homeland Security in charge. THAT will solve the problem.

So Lynn McGill and Tony Almeida join George Mason and Ryan Chappelle as current/former CTU chiefs to die. Tony becomes the first who didn't willingly, more or less, sacrifice himself; all four spoke to Jack just before dying. If I were Bill Buchanan, I'd be vewwy, vewwy afwaid, and avoid Jack like a truckload of Centox. Oh yeah, Michelle was also in charge of CTU for 20 minutes or so, and she's dead, although I'm pretty sure Tony was the last person she talked to.

Henderson must have heard that Jack was coming to the clinic, but he doesn't wait around to shoot him after finishing off Tony. Probably going to take Kim and Audrey hostage instead. Eventually Jack will have to choose which one of them dies.

And Tony? Extremely stupid even by CTU standards. His mortal enemy is being tortured, and he wants to put him out of his misery? In the way most dangerous to himself? What was the gun for, Tony? (Maybe he realized a bullet might puncture a wall, letting in the Centox, but it's hard to imagine him being that smart at the same time he's being so stupid.) And real smart, knocking out the doctor so you don't have backup.

Kim, however, has obviously gotten smarter. She at least knows enough to know that the clinic is a deathtrap within the deathtrap that is CTU.

I don't think Chloe and Kim's little chat quite matched up to the one between Chloe and Audrey from last season. I think it's about time for Chloe to go Rambo again--it has been about 12 hours since the last time! Maybe she'll finish off Henderson--AFTER getting the information from him.

So, three major characters dead in just over an hour. Edgar and Tony join David Palmer, Michelle and Walt Cummings as multi-season casualties. That leaves us with Jack (immortal), Kim, Chase, Chloe, Audrey, Buchanan, Curtis, Secret Service Agent Aaron, Logan and wife, Evelyn, Mike Novick, Jack's woman Diane and her son, Wayne Palmer, Nicole Palmer, Keith Palmer, and Naked Mandy, and maybe a few other minor characters from past seasons among the living. That will change. My guess would be that Logan, Buchanan and Audrey are dead by the end of the season. Jack will probably kill Buchanan himself, because he'll have "no other choice."

Did the Suvarovs finally get safely out of LA? In 24-world, it is clearly the most dangerous city anywhere--they may have gone to Baghdad for refuge.

I'm sure Kim and Barry's escape from LA will be without incident.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Poor Edgar Styles

Oh well, he's with his mother now. If his sister died at the hotel in season three, they've now covered all major varieties of WMD's in that family. Too bad Edgar missed the memo about all featured characters gathering in one room during gas attacks--somehow Jack, Audrey, Chloe, Buchanan and Kim all got it. Is Tony safe in the clinic? Sorry, stupid question. NOBODY is safe in the clinic.

Best (or worst) Logan moment:
Martha: You acted like the president of the United States.
Logan: Yes, I did.
Too bad Chase ran off on Kim. I thought he was going to give her his hand in marriage. Did Chase take little Angela with him, or is she just another three-year-old waif scrounging for scraps in South Central?

How did Jack manage to get to Henderson's house so much quicker than Henderson himself, who had a serious head start and already knew where he was going? Maybe Henderson stopped to see his broker to place some put options on Omicron.

Jack is the master of rationalization: "I shot her ABOVE the knee! She'll be able to walk again! One more shot and she's in a wheelchair for life." Now THAT's compassionate conservatism in action. How does he decide this crap, anyway? Does the CTU training manual have a decision tree for these situations?

A) Follow (a) or torture (b)?
B) If b, 1) torture subject, or 2) torture loved one of subject.
C) If 2, then a) cause extreme pain, b) maim or dismember, c) shoot.
D) If c, then 1) shoot in A) shoulder, B) knee, C) above knee.

With the advantages and disadvantages of each option spelled out, of course. Henderson probably taught him the ins and outs. Probably saw the shot above his wife's knee coming, figured it was preferable to what Jack might do to him (Henderson is a scumbag terrorist, after all).

And imagine a vice president who would come in and push for martial law right off the bat, just shooting from the hip at anything that moves. Oh, wait...

I thought the Martha/Charles resolution sucked, at least so far. I was hoping Martha would convince Aaron and the Russkies that Logan was complicit in the attack, and that together they would organize a coup at the Western White House. (How many White Houses are there in LA, anyway? Didn't Palmer operate out of a completely different one in season two? The one where Lynn Kresge could fall down several flights of stairs? Don't forget that Mike Novick was involved in that.) Martha is ten times the man Charles will ever be; for her to just cave in and make up with Chucky just ain't right.

And then there's the keycard. I thought they used biometrics at CTU, thumbprints and retinal scans and such. At the very least, they could put the agent's PICTURE on the card--I think that's possible these days. Furthermore, how did Lynn get back INTO CTU after being mugged without his keycard? Propped the back door open or something? They really should give the writers more time to think this stuff through.

Last week, I stated the obvious:
I think we can be pretty sure that within nanoseconds of when Audrey tells Kim that Jack is still alive, Jack's life will be threatened.
But I ignored the even more obvious--within nanoseconds of Kim's return to the show, HER life would be threatened.

And about Kim--with both parents dead and her man having run off, how can she afford a full-time therapist? Okay, granted. How else? Did Henderson pay for the guy? Out of pure altruism or with some ulterior motive?

Well, I think the surviving cast being trapped in a corner is pretty appropriate, given what the writers have been doing to themselves all season.

Homework assignment for the rest of the season: Figure out the real reason behind the terror attacks before the writers do.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How could I be so stupid?

Gee Jack, I dunno. Practice?

The bad-guy carousel is going so fast now I can't keep track. Ten hours in, and we've had Haas (the guy who killed Palmer and then got shot by Chloe and finished off by Jack). There was Cummings at the White House, Beresch at the airport, Erwich who gets the canisters, Bielko his Central-Asian co-terrorist, Nathanson, and now Henderson. There must have been somebody in the helicopter that finished off Nathanson. (Bad guys sure have a lot of choppers!)

Why is Curtis such a wimp? He would have sat there all day while Lynn fired everybody and then sold our ports to Dubai if Audrey hadn't brought him his balls. And he doesn't look like the kind of guy that Jack could take out with one blow, but it happened.

With Charles and Martha Logan and Lynn McGill, Chloe is starting to look like the very model of sanity in the cuckoo's nest. Jack's walking into a trap set by a guy he knows not to trust gets him a room there as well.

Strange how Henderson, clearly involved, was just sitting at work doing his job on the Big Day of Terrorism. Nevertheless, he was ready for Jack with his taser and a notebook bomb just sitting on the counter. Nice of him to give Jack a minute to get ready for the bomb.

So what do you think Logan and Novick prayed about? Getting contracts for next season?

And now things will get really screwed up. Martha will tell Aaron and the Suparovs that Logan knew about the attack and didn't stop it. The Suparovs will inform China that Jack Bauer is still alive. From the previews it looks like Tony is going to revive and, most ominously, Kim will finally return. I think we can be pretty sure that within nanoseconds of when Audrey tells Kim that Jack is still alive, Jack's life will be threatened. Tony will probably have a concussion, not remembering anything from today. He'll remember something about the possibility of a terrorist threat and offer some new information, but nobody will tell him that Michelle is dead.

Sorry--my commentaries have become somewhat fragmented and directionless. But somehow that seems appropriate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Terror Memo

Note to NSA: This post, like this entire blog, is based on the fictional TV show "24." (On Fox, mind you!) This means that the following "terror memo" is NOT REAL. (Of course, neither is the "war on terror," but you'll have to read my other blog to learn about that.) Take care!

Note to usual readers: I haven't been able to keep track of the bad-guy trail very well, so I've had to refer to the 24 website for names. Erwich was the guy who took the canisters to the motorcycle shop, and seemed to be in charge until this other former-soviet-republican (FSR) Bierko showed up and killed him. Nathanson is the American who apparently coordinated the attacks, working with Walt Cummings (and his CTU mole Spencer) and putting them in touch with the FSR gang.

Anyway, here's a copy of the memo that Mr. Big, or maybe Naked Mandy, sent to Erwich and Nathanson several months ago.

To: Fellow terrorists
From: Mr. Big, or possibly Naked Mandy

Dear fellow terrorists:
The big day is almost upon us. Twenty canisters of deadly Centox nerve gas are secretly hidden in the floor of an unused hanger at the Ontario Airport. Mr. Nathanson and Mr. Cummings--I know that you would like to see a big terror attack on Russia which would allow the US to step in and take control of oil in Central Asia. Mr. Bielko--you would like to stop President Logan from signing the anti-terror treaty with President Suparov, and you would like to deliver a devastating attack on Moscow. Mr. Erwich--you just want to kill a bunch of people. Don't worry; there's plenty of gas to go around!

Here's what we could do. We take our friend Mr. Rossler out to Ontario Airport and have him arm the canisters. We hide one in the terminal there (we have a guy inside), and take another to LAX. The other eighteen go on a ship to Pakistan. (Some idiot suggested putting them on a ship to "Central Asia," which has no ports. Some idiot is now dead.) On the day when President Suparov comes to LA to sign the treaty, we release the gas at Ontario, killing everyone in the terminal. We then inform Logan that a similar attack will occur at LAX in ten minutes unless he calls off signing the treaty. When the 18 remaining canisters arrive in Pakistan, Mr. Bielko will see that they get to Moscow to complete the mission. There's only one person in the world who could stop us--a former CTU agent named Jack Bauer. Supposedly dead, he is actually in hiding. Only four people know where he is. If none of them find out about the plot, we're home free. Like I said, that's what we COULD do.

Instead, I've got another plan. First, we bring Mr. Bauer out of hiding by killing some of his closest associates. Then we stage a conventional hostage-style terror attack at the Ontario Airport, using Mr. Erwich as a phony hostage, at great risk to him, and bringing in hundreds of cops at just the moment we're sneaking the nerve gas out of the airport. We'll leave plenty of clues in the hanger so CTU will know what this is all about. We'll let Mr. Rossler fool around with his sex slave until the last possible moment, giving Jack Bauer every opportunity to find Rossler before he can perform the service crucial to our operation. At this point, you guys will get to argue amongst yourselves about how we use the gas, with one of you killing the others. Admittedly, this plan is almost certain to fail, but I think we can count on CTU being just as stupid as we are (I've seen the DVD's of the previous seasons!).

Allah Akbar, or whatever.


Mr. Big, or maybe Naked Mandy

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ho hum

It's getting tedious now. I'm disappointed in the 24 writers. Rather than even attempting to come up with something resembling a coherent plot, their only goal seems to be somehow to get from one hour to the next--make the "terror handoff" and make sure that Jack and company can resolve something, but never enough. Flip the torture/follow coin to decide whether the latest bad guy is more likely to tell them where the badguy hideout is or lead them to it. Generally, CTU and/or ratface Logan decide one way, and then Jack goes with the other. Throw in some chain-of-command issues and a few personal conflicts and voila!--another hour down.

What the plot needs is smart bad guys with a coherent, sneaky plot and smart good guys struggling to figure it out. Instead, the bad guys continually hire uncommitted scumbag contractors like Rossler to perform tasks crucial to their operation. If they were going to kidnap Rossler anyway, why not do it earlier? They could have snuck him into the hanger at the airport and had all the canisters armed and ready hours ago. And why don't they ever kill Jack when they have a chance? They clearly knew he wasn't Rossler when he gave them the wrong code at the mall, and they'd just killed the security guard without a second thought. They clearly planned to leave Jack in the mall to die from the nerve gas anyway--yet they decided to just handcuff him to a table leg (how about just pushing the table up a bit and sliding the cuff out from under, Jack?) so he'd be available to foil their plot later. Okay, I know that Jack is the star of the show, so he can't die--why can't Audrey figure this out?

Also, what happened to the other workers at the motorcycle shop? Pretty long lunch, if you ask me. Surely somebody must have come back and seen that something was wrong, and called the cops. Of course, maybe they did, but Edgar is behind on his hourlies again. And while the bad guys seem to have some idea of an alternative method of arming the weapons, CTU doesn't seem to know it. Why not make sure the guy actually gets to badguy HQ (BGHQ), maybe getting a visual on the WMD's? (If you can get a visual on a virus, you can surely get a visual on chemical weapons.) Twenty minutes earlier they were willing to sacrifice 900 lives at the mall in order to be able to follow the triggering mechanism to (BGHQ), but now they decide to blow their cover without verifying that they're anywhere near BGHQ. Brilliant. This one should be easy--figure out where the canisters are, clear the area, and then either storm BGHQ with gas masks or bomb the crap out of the place. They could be done by 4 pm and save the rest of the season for a good plot.

I guess this is more like real life, the stupid Bush administration "chasing" stupid al Qaeda, but smart cops chasing smart terrorists would make a much better story.

BTW, did Audrey just go a whole hour without trying to call Kim? Bad Audrey!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

McCain's Cameo

I guess it was in the news somewhere, but I didn't catch it until I rewatched the latest "24" tonight. Thirty-two minutes into the episode (by the 24 clock), coming out of commercial, there's Senator John McCain, walking up to Audrey, handing her a file, looking towards the camera, and exiting stage left.

You're not fooling us, John--you're still on the right, and you're not acting.

Changing political winds on 24 noticed by columnist

From columnist Kevin McDonough:
What's up with Jack?

Previously on "24" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14, V), we discovered that an incompetent president has been snookered by an internal cabal of hardliners bent on planting weapons of mass destruction in a foreign terror base. They want to create a phony pretext for a U.S. invasion and the establishment of military bases that will guarantee the flow of oil for the next generation.

You don't need a magnifying glass to find the metaphors and messages here. Michael Moore could not have written a more scathing and conspiracy-laden take on the current administration and its neo-conservative brain trust.

And this isn't just any show, this is "24," home to Jack Bauer, a man of action and a hero to many on the political right. Don't take my word for it. Pat Buchanan's Jan. 23 column, titled "What Would Jack Bauer Do?" was filled with praise for the show, its main character and unbridled glee at his "Dirty Harry" take on due process. I've heard guests and callers to Rush Limbaugh's radio show praise "24." Political blogs and TV sites are filled with laudatory comments about Bauer's kick-butt attitude.
So it should be interesting to see how this latest storyline changes the tone and story on "24," as well as the political perception of the show.

Yes, this is just a TV series and Bauer is a fictional character. But so was "Murphy Brown," and that didn't stop her from becoming one of the more memorable campaign issues of 1992.

In 1968, Lyndon Johnson was chagrined when Walter Cronkite turned against the Vietnam War on his nightly news broadcast. He reportedly told an aide, "If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

I'm not sure whether President Bush watches "24," but it seems he may have just lost Jack Bauer.
Personally, I'd guess that aWol doesn't watch "24." It seems pretty clear to me that he doesn't know Jack. Besides, it's on after his bedtime.

Like Jack, I'm back!

I've been in sunny Mexico for the past two weeks, leaving the 24 watch in your capable hands. But now I'm back, and have watched the two episodes I missed as well as last night's episode. So much material, I don't think I can give it the depth of coverage you've come to expect. But here are the highlights.

First: The best quote ever from President Logan (or Palmer or Keeler, for that matter): "You did all this just to kill a bunch of terrorists?" He said this after Walt Cummings explained to him that the plan was to have the nerve gas go off in a terrorist camp in Central Asia. You can imagine Logan's incredulity--government agents willing to use deadly weapons and kill tens of thousands of people in order to stop a few hijackers and carbombers. They'd have to be totally insane.

Second: Central Asia is a huge place. It is frequently defined as the five former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrzgystan, and sometimes as a larger area. In any case, Central Asia doesn't have any ocean ports. You'd think Chloe, or at least the terrorists, would know this.

Third: If the plan was to move nerve gas from a hanger at Ontario Airport to Central Asia, wouldn't it have been simpler to do it quietly, late at night, maybe, rather than in the middle of a terror/hostage situation when the place was crawling with cops?

Fourth: I'm pretty sure that chemical weapons aren't like nukes--they don't rely on elaborate triggering mechanisms. Simply setting off a conventional bomb in the vicinity of the canisters, dropping something heavy on them, or otherwise finding a remote way of breaching the canisters would be sufficient to release the gas. Some chemical weapons, I think, are two relatively harmless chemicals kept separated until deployment, but if that were the case here they wouldn't have killed all those rats in the hanger. You really don't need the help of Neil Bush in his penthouse (or his latest sex slave) to activate chemical weapons.

Fifth: Is having an unstable or drug-addicted relative a requirement for working at CTU? Is there like a line on the application form? McGill's sister shows up to mug him. Driscoll's daughter. Didn't Michelle have a ne'er-do-well brother? Audrey too, of course. And speaking of unstable relatives...

Sixth: The return of Kim appears imminent. I guess once they round up the nerve gas they'll need something to keep the plot going for the next sixteen hours. In the end, I guess Jack, Diane, Keith, Audrey, Kim, Chase, Angela and little Megan will all be living happily together, at least until season six.

Seventh: Tony's doctor was killed. Did anyone think to get him another one? And didn't Jack go to the CTU clinic/morgue to ask Tony some questions? What happened to that? Will Tony get back together with the waitress now that Michelle is dead?

Eighth: As much as I like Chloe and Edgar, the tension between them and Spencer quickly became tedious. Also, it seems pretty clear that Spencer was telling the truth and had every reason to believe that he was working for the White House. I could understand Chloe's not trusting him after that, but why Buchanan? Did Spencer sleep with him too?

Ninth: So now, eighteen months later, Logan is no longer worried about war with "a billion Chinese?" Haven't enough people seen Jack already today, including probably a half-dozen moles, to make keeping the fiction of his death impossible? Logan has more faith in Jack than in the entire remainder of his national security apparatus? He must have watched the DVD's from the previous seasons on those long flights on Air Force One.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

For those who want more...

I know it's not protocol, me having gone dark and all, but I thought that I'd inform my loyal readers, if there are any, that there is an even more obsessive 24 web site, with detailed snarky comments about every minute of the show. Online polls, even!

[Update] From the comments, another blog reviewing 24! I've added both of these to the links section on the right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Flank Two Position

Season Five, 9:00-11:00 AM

Not Buchanan, the long-time CTU vet. Not Edgar or Chloe, who know EVERYTHING. Not Curtis (who takes twenty minutes to plan his trips to the bathroom, apparently). Not Audrey, who knows Jack. Not the terrorists, who should know that Jack would try something. Only the creepiest guy from Division yet, along with every one of the millions of people watching on television, picked up that "I'm in a flank two position; repeat, a flank two position" was a duress code. Well, I think Derek figured it out, but that didn't help.

And boy, were the terrorists prepared for the assault. Standing about three feet from the wall Curtis was about to blow, out in the open! Human shields, anyone? They would have gone down even easier if the duress code had been missed.

And what an innovative plot twist! Just as the terrorist situation seems effectively diffused, some caucasian disappears with a small device to suggest that the day has just begun. Nothing at all like the guy Audrey recognized when she and her father were kidnapped, and who ran off with the override device when Jack stormed the compound. Or when Amador ran off with the virus. No, this time it was a keycard, and Jack spotted the guy. So it's completely different!

The most interesting part so far is trying to figure out who the terrorists are. While the guys at the airport were clearly Chechyn or similar former Soviet republicans, it also seems pretty clear that they were just being used by the Americans running the show--the guy at Bond-villain central and Walt, Logan's security advisor (and maybe the new Division creep). My guess (and hope) is that they are far right-wing militia types who feel that any deal with the Russkies is treason, and that counter-terrorism is just a liberal plot to take away their guns. That would definitely lessen the angst we liberals feel watching 24--Jack, Chloe, Edgar and Curtis taking down a bunch of skinheads! And Walt's position as head of security for a Republican would fit in well with that scenario, although he doesn't really look the part.

So what was David Palmer thinking trying to pass crucial secrets to Logan through his maybe-not-so-crazy wife? I guess I can see him not trusting Mike Novik, but surely he would know somebody in Washington or the press he would trust to pass on his secret in the event of his untimely demise--somebody who seems a bit less crazy than Martha Logan. How about Aaron, the supernice Secret Service guy?

Is Martha Logan supposed to be a Teresa Heinz Kerry type, married to the Republican Logan but flirting in the Senate cloakroom with the handsome black Democratic senator from Maryland?

From the previews, it looks like the third threat level is nerve gas (first level was assassinations of Palmer and Michelle, second level was the attack on the airport). I guess they did nukes in seasons two and four, and bioweapons in three, so chemical weapons are the only WMD category left. It also looks like Audrey and Diane will meet up at CTU to fight over Jack, a twist on last season's triangle with Audrey, Paul and Jack.

My guess is that Derek, like Kim in seasons one and two, won't stay safe for long. Hanging around CTU, he'll overhear the Division creep saying something incriminating. Trying to pass it on to Jack, he'll tell the wrong person, and get chased out of CTU and into Kim's LA of crack houses, male prostitutes, mountain lions, girl jails, survivalists and creepy hospitals.

I'll be in Mexico for the next two weeks, and probably won't see hours five and six until I return on February 4. Until then, "Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong!" is going dark. Over and out.

PS: "Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong!" is not to be referred to by its initials.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jack's fame is spreading

Jack Bauer gets a mention in the newest Tom Tomorrow cartoon.


David Palmer
Former President David Palmer, America's first black president, was killed yesterday morning by a sniper's bullet. The coroner has determined that death was from natural causes.

Palmer was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Georgetown University on a basketball scholarship, earning All-American honors in his senior year. He graduated second in his class at Harvard Law School. He was elected to the US House of Representatives representing Baltimore, and served two terms before being elected to the Senate. He was elected president despite an assassination attempt, a scandal involving his son, and the fact that his wife was really creepy. He and his wife Sherry were divorced shortly after the election. Palmer did not run for re-election after Sherry was killed in a shootout at a Santa Monica beach house involving the president's brother.

Palmer is survived by his son Keith, daughter Nicole, brother Wayne, and half-brothers Arnold, Jim and Carson.

Michelle Dessler
Retired CTU administrator Michelle Dessler died yesterday morning when her car blew up in her face. The coroner has determined that she died of natural causes.

Generally considered too hot to survive, Dessler had worked for CTU in the Washington, Seattle and Los Angeles offices, as well as at Division. She was an expert in covert satellite surveillance and socket opening. She survived the deadly virus attack on the Plaza Hotel, as well as being kidnapped by the perpetrators. Michelle is survived, maybe, by her twice-husband Tony Almeida, as well as by her love-child by CTU boss Bill Buchanan, Pat.

High Five

Previously on Kachoong: Last week, I offered the following preview of Season Five in an e-mail:
The trailer and the previews on Fox confirm that at least the following characters will be back:
Jack Bauer
Audrey Raines
Chloe O'Brien
Bill Buchanan
President Logan
Mike Novik
The 24 web site indicates that Tony, Curtis and Edgar Styles will be back as well, though I haven't seen them in the previews.

I recently finished watching the season four DVD's, complete with commentaries. It strikes me that, unlike the previous two seasons, they didn't kill off any long-running characters. Season two finished off George Mason. Season three wiped out Nina, Sherry and Chappelle. But in season four, only new characters were killed: Ronnie (the CTU field agent killed at the train station), Maya Driscoll, Paul Raines, most of the Araz family, Debbie, Marwan, the guy Behrooz killed with the shovel, Behrooz's uncle, Edgar Styles' mother, Major Anderson the stealth pilot, the pilot he killed to steal the stealth, Keeler's son. Pres. Keeler was left barely alive after Air Force One crashed, and Jack died for a few minutes, but that was it. The three characters carried over to the start of season four--Jack, Chloe and Keeler--all survived it alive. The other characters brought back later in the season--Tony, Michelle, Mike Novik, David Palmer, and Naked Mandy--are also still kicking. Of course, there are still many characters from the first three seasons who didn't appear in season four but may still return: Kim, Chase, Keith and Nicole Palmer, Wayne Palmer, Lynn Kresge, Miguel, Little Megan, Brad Hammond and Alberta Green (from Division), Kate, Marie and Bob Warner, Adam (CTU), Palmer's doctor/girlfriend from season three. Also, some of the characters who didn't die in season four but didn't show up in the trailer may return--Behrooz, Driscoll, James Heller, Richard Heller, Sarah Gavin. Plus the resident torture guys, of course.
Now that the first pulsing 120 minutes of season five are behind us (chasing us, shooting at as, lobbing nukes at us), we can evaluate those observations.

First, unlike last season, they wasted no time in killing off long-running characters. David Palmer and Michelle were dead within the first fifteen minutes, and Tony seriously wounded. (Palmer was back for an Allstate commercial, however.) President Keeler apparently died or never recovered in 18 months, since Logan is still president. Maya Driscoll didn't really die--she just aged drastically and became first lady. (I imagine George and Laura have similar conversations when off their meds, except that both are delusional.) Walt, the White House mole guy who tried to get Jack killed in the first place, is back. Wayne Palmer is back. At CTU, Buchanan, Curtis, and Edgar are all back, with Audrey there to help as always. Looks like another busy day at the CTU clinic--By noon Jack will probably have to decide which one of the following four gets to live: his new girlfriend Diane, her son Derek, Tony, or Chloe. He'll chose the son, but then Edgar will give Chloe mouth-to-mouth and save her too, while Spencer watches on helplessly.

Jack really should avoid family life altogether--this little ditty about Jack and Diane is off to a very rocky start, as were the ditties about Jack and Terri and Jack and Nina and Jack and Kate and Jack and Hector's wife and Jack and Audrey. Clearly, everyone is better off if they don't know Jack (ask the Republicans in Congress about that).

At some point, I guess we're looking at a love octagon: Edgar, Spencer, Jack and Derek all in love with Chloe; Audrey, Chloe and Diane all in love with Jack; Richard Heller in love with Derek and Spencer.

I hope that if Chloe ever gets back to her apartment, she remembers that her car is probably set to blow up. Of course, Chloe was on the show for over 24 hours before they let her blow somebody away. This season, she's a made woman in the first hour.

Pretty amazing that Derek didn't trust Jack at 7:20, but after Jack has pulled a gun on him, kidnapped him, killed several people (including one in cold blood), run off with another woman, and mugged an FBI agent, Derek is ready to risk his life for Jack. Jack brings out the inner Kim in lots of people, apparently.

Presumably, Walt was the one who knew Jack was alive, aside from Tony, Michelle, Chloe and Palmer. Must have been eavesdropping on his phone calls while he was at the White House in season four. I guess the bad guys were relying on Jack's body being dug up and examined and found to have been that of a Chinese man to bolster their story that a dead man killed Palmer. Otherwise, why would they try to kill everyone who knew he was alive?

Funniest moment was when Chloe and Derek were watching Jack mug the FBI guy in the parking garage (they do like parking garages in this show, don't they?). Chloe says "Don't worry--he's really good at this."

Also, the show continues to be geographically challenged. Diane, driving from Mojave to LA, would never have been within 30 miles of the 10-210 interchange when Jack told her to go to the Ontario Airport. It would have taken her well into tonight's episodes to get to the airport.

One blooper I noticed, with the help of my DVR: When Jack runs into the airport and goes to the info desk, a heavyset white guy carrying a suit carrier walks by. When Derek goes in the same entrance a few minutes later, the same guy is walking by with the same stupid grin, headed the same way.

Nevertheless--a good start! Two more hours tonight.

Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong!

PS--Note that you can comment on this blog. Please do!