Preview: 24 (Day 8)
KEN CHENG takes a look at Jack Bauer’s latest adventure ahead of tomorrow night’s first episode.
Jack is back for, yet again, the longest day of his life. After seven years of retreading the same ground, will this latest season bring any new surprises to the worn out formula, or will it merely be another step in the show's decline?
At the beginning, Jack Bauer is living a pretty mundane life detached from the world of counter-terrorism, playing the role of reluctant hero for the first hour, like he did at the beginning of day 2, 4, 5 and 7. Before you know it, he is already involved in some international conspiracy involving a made up Middle-Eastern country that surrounds the assassination of an important political figure. Yep, so far, it doesn't seem like it's deviated from standard 24 storylines, but let's see how the first two hours hold up in terms of staple 24 characteristics.
Jack Bauer Kill Count: 2
Bauer's kills per hour is typically about one so it's in line so far. His weapon of choice is a large axe, which isn't that extravagant on its own but he does manage to kill both terrorists with a single swing.
Number of moles in important government institutions: 2
The show doesn't waste any time in introducing the mole factor and within the first hour, an important informant who knows something very important, before unsurprisingly biting the dust, reveals that the terrorists have someone on the inside. Of course, in typical “almost dead guy” fashion, he dies before revealing any names – the selfish bastard. With the amount of moles rising each season, you'd think by now the top government agencies would have developed a better screening process for their employees.
Number of times Chloe O'Brian is whiny or annoying: 10+
Our favourite autistic computer nerd with a face like a potato is back. In the latest episodes, she is mainly whining about new CTU boss Brian Hastings not listening to her or taking her seriously. She could easily fix this by being less whiny and annoying. With 24's “anyone can die” aspect, here's hoping they drop a bridge on her before midnight.
Number of new uninteresting stock characters: 6+
Examples include: the annoying IT nerd; the miniature Jack Bauer; the morally dubious political underling; the character with a dark past that will take at least till supper time to flesh out; Kim Bauer and the incompetent bureaucratic superior whose sole purpose is to slow down any progress in the show forcing Jack to take matters into his own hands. Unfortunately, they killed off all the really good 24 characters so we will keep on getting a new batch of recycled characters each season.
Number of times Jack does something batshit crazy and borderline unnecessary: 0.01
Over the first six seasons his actions grew increasingly insane, to the point where he could shoot his own grandmother over Christmas dinner and I wouldn't bat an eyelid. Since then, it seems like he has been toned down a lot: he doesn't shoot any innocent women above the kneecap, tranquillise or kill his boss or unexpectedly shoot a random paedophile, only to immediately declare “get me a hacksaw.” He didn't even torture anyone in the first two hours, so now we're stuck with watching an ageing and slightly nonconformist special agent run around for a day.
Ultimately, 24 is sticking to the same old formula that we've been used to for several years, with new recycled characters, a different Middle-Eastern country and a very familiar assassination/bomb/virus threat, while attempts to tone down the show means it's even more tired and clichéd than before and barely worth watching anymore.
24 Season 8 returns to the UK on Sunday January 24th on Sky1, but if you're clever you can watch the first four hours before then. (Disclaimer: internet piracy is illegal and the Tab does not condone it in any way.)