Dammit! I don’t have time so I’ll make this short!
The first five seasons of 24 are some of the best pulse-pounding, nail-biting television I’ve ever seen! Cliffhanger after cliffhanger full of ridiculous 180 plot twists and impossible moral choices made 24 the comic bookiest show to watch! Then season six happened and it was more like Alternate Universe West Wing Guest Starring Jack Bauer Sometimes! It was really disappointing! Although Peter MacNicols and Powers Boothe were pretty good! I guess! Then the Writer’s Strike happened! Besides killing Quantum of Solace‘s chances for being a worthy Bond movie, it practically mutilated Jack Bauer’s chance to kill shine again! Dammit!
This was especially disconcerting because right before the strike a website opened up with Keifer “The Velvet” Sutherland, Jack Bauer himself, addressing the show’s many fans! He thanked us (eeee!!) for our continued support and promised Season 7 would be the best season yet! Warm, encouraging words from one of the U.S.’s most warm, encouraging, self-sacrificing, tortured soldiers this side of Solid Snake! Then a quick teaser followed full of explosions, conspiracies, blood, car chases, excitment – everything season six was missing! But then something awkward happened – something downright bizarre and marvelous! It showed us the return of Tony Almeida! Jack’s snarling, soul-patched, sometimes-Latin-lover who was killed at the hands of RoboCop in the past! Dammit, Tony! I mean, awesome Tony! Maybe Season 7 will make up for 6’s flaccid foundering!
Then – radio silence! The strike occurred and all was quiet on the 24 front for a whole year! Or more! Finally, a two-hour movie was announced and produced, something that would tide fans over until 7’s proper debut in January! The TV-movie’s called 24: Redemption and it’s what I watched last night! Yes, dammit!
Taking place in the fictional African country of Sengala – you know this because the music is full of African instruments like the “wind flute”, the “drum made of animal skin” and the “sad vocalizing whenever someone dies or is in danger of dying” – Jack Bauer goes through two real-time hours of schoolchildren rescue, torture, shooting and looking depressed and angry at the same time! At the same time, President Powers Boothe snarls over having to give up his big Gorilla Grodd-sized seat to President Elect Older Woman, who’s concerned about the violence happening in Sengala! Turns out Tony Todd, seen here without bees in his mouth, is recruiting child soldiers left and right! Jack Bauer won’t have any of this so he and old war bud Robert Carlyle, looking as doomed and guilt-ridden as he was in 28 Weeks Later, run across Africa, children in tow to get to the American embassy in time! But … there is no time! Dammit!
For a two-hour tee-vee event, 24: Redemption could’ve been a lot worse! It was refreshing to see Kiefer disappear into his iconic role again, especially when he so earnestly delivers maudlin dialogue to Robert in such a close proximity they look a hair’s length away from kissing each other so romantically! A lot of 24‘s fun comes from how many 80s action movie tropes show up, which is impressive considering this is supposed to be a sleek, modern piece of entertainment! Which it is! Sometimes! When it isn’t it resembles a live-action cartoon, which is fine and fun to laugh at, so long as you don’t mind when Jon Voight shows up as the most obvious bad guy ever, cleavage on camera front and center for a whole scene we’re supposed to take seriously, or small, adorable African kids who are so ridiculously eager to follow these scruffy white men to their possible doom yet are so dumb as to go traipsing through a landmine-laden forest just to get their plot device– erm, precious scarf back! Dammit, kids! That was really stupid but at least it provided some explosive drama! Something 24 is supposed to deliver by the truckful! Truck full? Dammit!
Redemption also delivered a ton of product placement! Sprint cell phones, Cisco video conference technology, Hyundai Genesis GPS whatever! Dammit, there’s so much it was just obnoxious! I thought television had, oh, I don’t know – ****COMMERCIALS**** – for sloughing shitty products to the dedicated viewers at home! To have a Washington stooge driving a Hyundai and use a Sprint cell phone plan in the show, then have the commercials for those products play immediately after that scene during the commercial break strikes me as overkill! Even the Kiefer-narrated Bank of America commercials played! Even PSAs about child soldiers in Africa played! Okay, I’ll give them that one, I’m not big bad Jon Voight here! Tying the show’s plot to a real-world issue is admirable, I suppose! George Clooney approves!
Redemption wasn’t nearly as exciting or good as past seasons, or even as interesting as the following Season 7 trailers – Jack and Tony confront one another!! – but it was a decent little appetizer with enough of Jack shooting people to quench the questionable, unethical, sure-to-be-dragged-into-a-civil-trial bloodthirst for a little while longer! It saddens me that the show will most likely never reach the magnificent heights of the first three seasons (a tightly written, paced and acted trilogy if I ever saw one), or even the tremendous shake-up that was season five (The Everyone Dies Season), but 2009 looks to be a banner year for television no matter which series you subscribe to. Lost‘s penultimate season debuts, Battlestar Galactica’s final season finally materializes and 24 hopefully gives us more Jack! Now only if I had … more … time to watch it all!!