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Tilting at Windmills

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January 31, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

24 WATCH....Assuming that the phrase "jumped the shark" applies in any meaningful sense to 24, I think 24 finally jumped the shark tonight. Anybody disagree?

Kevin Drum 1:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (90)

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I guess I do sorta disagree. 24 jumped the shark no later than the episode last season in which the evil liberal lawyer managed, in the middle of the night, to get a court order in about 15 minutes to stop CTU from interrogating a bad guy, and then Jack went ahead and tortured him anyway. You really need a gift to be that preposterous and offensive at the same time.

And yet the show remains weirdly compelling. It's so over the top that it can only be taken as a satire of itself at this point -- but it's an entertaining satire! Old school 24 used to drag out the mole storylines for half a season or more; now the moles get uncovered in 2-3 episodes, tops. Jack used to nobly serve the interests of the country while being undermined by self-serving politicians; now he actually gets to pummel the self-serving politicians. I, for one, look forward to the moment when a reanimated Nina holds Kim hostage.

Posted by: vlad on January 31, 2006 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

I watched and found it intense.

I'll be watching next week, too.

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 31, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Well, between this and one of the comments over at Sadly, No, that dosn't exactly fill me with hope for the time when I get around to watching my BitTorrented copy of the episode...

Posted by: Viserys on January 31, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

There's suspension of disbelief, and then there's dangling 50,000 feet in the air over the Grand Canyon hanging on to a piece of licorice. Tonight's episode was the latter.

But yeah, I'm still gonna watch.

Posted by: Charlie T. on January 31, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: scarshapedstar on January 31, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

I think USC jumped the shark when Reggie "Push" threw that insane lateral to the stunned second-stringer in the Rose Bowl. Care to disagree?

Posted by: MorganParakeet on January 31, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

An ugly and tedious phrase whose death I eagerly await.

Posted by: collounsbury on January 31, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Jack Bauer landing a flurry of gut punches on the Rovian chief of staff and then damn near cutting his eyeball out while an incredulous President looks on approvingly? The only thing that would've made it better is a pants-wetting.

Posted by: Dan-O on January 31, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Sure... but that's a nearly weekly tradition now; 24 reaches a whole new level of preposterous on a regular basis. It's more like shark hopscotch.

Posted by: Rob Cottingham on January 31, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, tonight's episode was ludicrous and over the top, but that's something new? And yes, there were plot holes to drive a truck through. (Note to Fox writers: central Asia doesn't actually have a coastline. It's inland. That's why they call it 'central'.) But the truth is these gaping holes have been there from Season 1. Remember the plotline when Palmer's son was being framed for murder and Cherie Palmer was frantic at any cost, for no particular reason that was ever explained, to destroy the evidence that proved her son was innocent? And Vlad is right in noting that the plot line from last year when the bad guys were able to get a court order in about 5 minutes at 3 am to prevent CTU from interrogating a captured terrorist was even sillier than tonight's episode. And the all-time champion remains the episode where Jack Bauer actually died and was still running around at full speed about 5 minutes after he was rescusitated.

Posted by: Alex on January 31, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

the shark was officially jumped in the first season once dennis hopper spit out his horrible eastern euro accent. i looked at nobody in particular and asked, man, what time is it? like 6 pm? oh vey.

Posted by: nova silverpill on January 31, 2006 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

Forget the politics, which will attract right-wing criticism. This was one of the few episodes of the show in recent years that genuinely surprised me. Did you expect Cummings to confess? Did you expect Jack to barge into the president's office? The show has been preposterous for a long time, going back to Season One. All I ask is for entertainment that doesn't offend me (as last year's Justified Torture-fest did) and keeps me on the edge of my seat. The politics of this season are more to my liking, but I know the writers don't care about my politics. This year, even with the numerous plot holes, they're delivering the goods.

Posted by: bear88 on January 31, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, but... no

Yes, 24 jumped the shark, but does it make sense to be surprised when a show about shark jumping jumps the shark?

24 is so frenetic, proposterious, fun... that I don't expect logic, consistancy..., so only when it calms down and tries to be rational will I say it has "Jumped the Shark" by drowning.

Posted by: Mike Liveright on January 31, 2006 at 4:05 AM | PERMALINK

Oh my God! Did Jack Bauer finally go to the bathroom???? Was it #1 or #2???

Posted by: Ian on January 31, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

I enjoyed the episode...regardless of how ludicrous it was. Anytime we see high level treason is quite interesting. Killing Palmer in episode 1 had sort of the same feel, it makes you keep watching. Unfortunately, this is the first season I've gotten into right from the beginning. I guess I've got approximately 96 episodes to watch.

Posted by: Steve L on January 31, 2006 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know why people would think it jumped the shark. I was surprised how Walt came out and just confessed to the President, and there was nothing cooler than when the Secret Service Agent (one of the few character remaining from the first season) just let Jack in to beat the crap out of Walt.

Don't know how they are going to fill up 18 more hours...

Posted by: Frank J. on January 31, 2006 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK

Until this post I didn't even know what "jump the shark" ment (Wiki has a great entry on it). But I confess I have never seen an episode of 24 (or Lost for that matter) so it would be hard for me to say.

Posted by: Yelling in the fog on January 31, 2006 at 6:58 AM | PERMALINK

TCM had a nice selection of Robert Montgomery movies on last night.

No commercials.

- Bob was Elizabeth Montgomery's father. Yes, that EM.....
- In the 50s he coached Ike on presenting himself for television. At that point he was directing and producing TV shows.

What was the question?

Posted by: Taylor on January 31, 2006 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

I like RC's "shark hopscotch."

Most of us don't care a) about jumping the shark since the show is always incredible in certain ways. We do notice that we look at the clock, exhausted by all that's occurred, and see that it's only 9:19. This show is so tightly produced as to be a monument, shaming those other shows where action proceeds very slowly so as not to confuse any viewers.

I think that is one reason many of us watch, suspending not only our disbelief but also our disgust at real-world torturers. I'd love to see a viewer survey charting the educational level and political affiliation (or whatever) of the audience.

I'm now waiting for the president's wife to show her vindictive side. You know it's there.

Thanks for getting us started, Kevin!


Posted by: Dan Tompkins on January 31, 2006 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

Kev, are you sure it didn't just "Jump the Couch" ?

Posted by: Den on January 31, 2006 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

24 jumped the shark the 1st episode of season 3.

Posted by: cleek on January 31, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the whole point of "24" that it's spent five seasons just hovering right above the damn shark? That's why people watch it. People would've loved that episode of "Happy Days," too, if "Happy Days" had been a series about Fonzie, the shark-jumping hipster.

Posted by: Daniel A. Munz on January 31, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kinda made me wonder if there is a 'Walt' in the Bush admin doing the same sort of thing.

Posted by: cq on January 31, 2006 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Kill your Television

Posted by: Hubris.Sonic on January 31, 2006 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

The near concensus seems to be that even though 24 has probably jumped the whatever, it seems that you can get to any place on the planet within 15 minutes, and Jack "You read my file..." Bauer or anyone else never seems to go to the bathroom or drink or eat (not to mention sleep), many of us enjoy watching it. Now who is that person behind the coach in the apartment that we saw in the previews?

Posted by: Pitman on January 31, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Bauer or anyone else never seems to go to the bathroom or drink or eat (not to mention sleep),

Jack'll tell ya, there's something to be said for crystal meth.

Posted by: Bullwinkle on January 31, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

First Season

The shark was jumped originally in the first season when Jack's wife fainted on little pretext then awoke with amnesia. Random amnesia just to raise the tension but not the suspense. That's when I quit watching.

Posted by: NoOneOfConsequence on January 31, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

"TCM had a nice selection of Robert Montgomery movies on last night. No commercials.
He made 30 movies in four years (in the early 30's)
He wouldn't carry a wallet because it spoiled the drape of his suit.

But getting back to "24":
After that, it was just David Lynch, filmed by the second unit director.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 31, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

I quit watching Happy Days long before the shark jumping and 24 somewhere in season 2. Good shows in concept, but I got annoyed with the social and political commentary. I guess we all have our own sharks.

Posted by: B on January 31, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

24 made a decision early on to hire The Shark as a consultant in their script meetings. My understanding is that he fits into the L.A. culture so well, he recently made an appointment with Tom Cruise' dentist to get his teeth capped.

Posted by: brucds on January 31, 2006 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

How is torture in the Oval Office jumping the shark? The Bush Administration jumped the shark on that one three years ago. 24 is just wading in the bloody waters.

Posted by: truth on January 31, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

one of the fun things about watching 24 is trying to keep track of all the what I call 24isms... plot holes, 'that can't happen' and so on.

Here's the running tally for this year's episode. Contributions are welcome.

Posted by: steve sturm on January 31, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I find the situations and action quite realistic. But hanging up on Audra right in the middle of her weepy "don't leave me again" rap was simply preposterous. Nerve gas crisis or not, a real man would have stayed on the line and lied his ass off about the other babe. That rang so false it totally spoiled the otherwise "straight-from-the-headlines" drama of meeting the President's chief advisor on a dirt road, surrendering to a helicopter sniper team, being imprisoned in the feed room of the Presidential riding stable, and convincing the chief of the Secret Service to violate a direct order and usher a known assassin and torturer into the President's office.

Posted by: Rotwang on January 31, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm honestly confused. What happened in 24 last night that caused it to jump the shark if you think it never had done so before? Absolutely nothing about last night's episode was out of line with what fans of the show expect/enjoy. Yes, the show is ridiculous, but within 24's established level of ridiculousness, last night made complete sense. At least, it did to me. In fact, there were a few really nice pay-offs to the long-time fans in there (the poetic justice of Novick being locked up the same way he locked up Lynne in season 2; Aaron fighting to help Jack discover Palmer's murderer).
Could someone who has watched all four previous seasons explain Kevin's original point?

Posted by: andrew on January 31, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

forgive the repost, but since, I came in on the tail-end of the other one ... so I'm watching 24 for the first time in ages just to see where it's at and I learn a couple if things:

1) torture works! and the good guy (Jack Bauer) does it - in fact, even the threat od torture works - yay, torture!

2) love affairs squeezed into segments - multiple women competing for Jack's attention; the Prez's wife in a mental hospital: it's a friggin SOAP OPERA people! (and let's not forget: Jack was killed earlier and came back to life)

3) Anyone can stroll in on the Prez at pretty much any time

4) must be one of the easiest shows to satirize on TV - takes itself ever so seriously!

Posted by: bob on January 31, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I tried watching 24 when it first started. Someone else nailed it, the show was preposterous. And that kind of ridiculousness doesn't work for me when the show isn't escapist (fantasy, scifi, horror, magical realism, etc.)

"Jump the shark" is an awkward term for a useful concept. Seems like most TV shows inevitably decline in quality, and in the minds of viewers there is one or a few defining moments that mark the decline. Jumping the shark in Happy Days, or when a show introduces a new baby or otherwise cutsie character.

Of course some shows do start out bad and get better with time. Showing my geeky colors, here but the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon and Earth 2 both improved over time. (Seriously, Earth 2 had a few good episodes before it was cancelled - dark themes you'd never see on Star Trek.)

Posted by: Librul on January 31, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

oh and 5) Chloe's acting method still consists almost entirely of tilting her head down, looking up and frowning intensely (but she is a cutie)

Posted by: Bob on January 31, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

"24" has served its purpose: to get the just-right-of-center crowd fired up about supporting wiretapping, rendition, and torture, and to give the great masses of TV watchers a positive experience with the same concepts. The writers may have intended to have a few finishing episodes where they reversed all that, but the show will be cancelled before those episodes are shot. Surprised Kevin?

Cranky Observer

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 31, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an idea for an open thread:

When did Kevin Drum jump the shark?

Posted by: Lettuce on January 31, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree; 24 is about Jack riding "sharkback", and last night was a corker for me.

I think of this show as sort of "Crack TV" - a highly addictive, relentless & disposable thrill. Kim's fleeing the cougar was a much more classic 24 shark jump. 24's thrills are all skin deep, unlike the gold standard of the Sopranos, which grows with repeated viewings

If anything, the plot is moving much faster this year. How long till we find out a reason that Walt Cummings' action was more nuanced, or there is another bigger baddy somewhere behind the headset guy?

Maybe the Chinese exacting revenge for Bauer's faked death?!

But the depiction of the snaky Rovian adviser (kudos for hiring a conventionally handsome actor to challenge the audience more than a Karl lookalike would) with a "Neo-NeoCon" uber agenda was brilliant (and a direct comment on the manufactured pre-Iraq war WMD hysteria) -- a great commentary on today's real administration.

Forget asking whether President Logan is a Republican. Ask whether he's George W. Bush!

They hire an actor who looks like he's the evil spawn of Nixon & Don Knotts; he's given nitwit dialog like "Clean this up! Isn't that supposed to be your job!!??" Remember GW Bush's famous advice to James Baker during the Florida recount: "I don't care how you do it-- just get it done".

The moment where Bauer last night realized the President himself was in on this conspiracy (even at a late hour) also seemed to be talking about Bush. The look on Bauer's & Aaron's faces spoke volumes of disappointment and perhaps carried a whiff of Impeachable Offense.

I think Logan reflects the disappointment of some right wingers in the gross incompetence of the Bush adminstration. There is a growing feeling that the Bushies' inability to administer anything efficiently combined with the grotesque corruption of the white house & Congressional GOP has doomed the "Permanent Republican Majority" idea.

Logan is the sad vision of GW Bush as Katrina pulled back the curtain and the nation saw what constituted the previously "Great & Powerful Oz".

As for torture, though 24 seems mostly pro-torture, Walt's cracking proves nothing. He's not hardened op, he's just a squishy consultant. How long do think Rove would have lasted?

Ah, we can dream, can't we?;-)

Posted by: JD on January 31, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Last night's 24 was great for one reason alone: it will seriously piss off the right-wing blogosphere!

Posted by: Tony A on January 31, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Kevin was referring to the fact that, yet again, it's the US that is in danger. When it was revealed that the terrorists were attacking Russia, I, for one, thought it was a good move. The prospect of watching Jack try to save the citizens of another country was refreshing. Now, with Americans in jeopardy, it's the same old same old.

Posted by: jbboy on January 31, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Last night's 24 was great for one reason alone: it will seriously piss off the right-wing blogosphere!

It's amazing how the show proves such a Rorschach test/opportunity for projection.

Because I bet "the right-wing blogosphere" is more likely currently crowing about how 24 showed how torture works. Hooray torture!


Posted by: bob on January 31, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Are you nutters Drum?

That was one great episode!

Al probably hated it for its freedom though...

Posted by: me on January 31, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Many of our democratic senators are a lot like Condi, clueless. cleve

Posted by: cleve on January 31, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

What do you consider shark jumping? 24 has always been preposterous so if you're talking credibility...

Posted by: dan a on January 31, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Boy, the previews look lame, can't find the attention span to watch angry guys running around
yelling about the end of the world.

Posted by: Bappy L-tyrosine on January 31, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

What about last night signaled the jump-the-shark moment? Was Ted McGinley added to the cast?

Posted by: Otto Man on January 31, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Last night was when the show became preposterous?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 31, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I watched the Robert Montgomery movies last night.They were fun.

Posted by: Mazurka on January 31, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

24, what's that?

Someone buy Kevin Showtime and get him to start watching Sleeper Cell.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 31, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Didn't you want to see Jack at least draw blood from Walt's eyelid? The thought that it could happen (and be seen on TV) is a testament to GWB. I, for one, pronounced myself cured of "24," at least until I suffer a relapse.

Posted by: Ken on January 31, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

24: Good clean unbelievable cathartic fun. No wonder the Bushies support torture, it works perfectly and all the time for Jack Bauer! Not so much for the US Army....

Posted by: Sebastian on January 31, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why people are unhappy with the new season. I loved the latest episode.

Season 4 was a bit of a let-down, as before that, each season was better than the last. But Season 3 was so insanely good that it would be hard to top. Season 4 shouldn't have even tried; that was the crucial mistake, I believe - though I still enjoyed Season 4 a lot.

The show's creators have wisely avoided this mistake with Season 5; they've scaled things down a bit, and though the show is as unrealistic as ever, those interested in realism were probably never into 24 in the first place.

Another thing about last night's episode: it puts a stake in the heart of the theories that 24 advances a fundamentally conservative outlook. I mean, a member of a GOP administration planning a terrorist strike against the US in order to drum up support for a war for oil!! That's a page right out of Gore Vidal.

Posted by: J. on January 31, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The show makes a habit out of jumping the shark, that's a given. What I thought was interesting is that last night they jumped the opposite shark that they did last year. What Cummings' admission of his real motives was for liberals, last year's Secretary of Defense-running-around-with-an-AK-47 was for conservatives. It's a "Wow, Yeah!" red-meat moment.

Posted by: Michael on January 31, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I have rarely read through a whole comment thread here, or anywhere else, but I hit the sweet spot of apathy, coffee, and interest this morning, and plowed through the whole thing.

24 is pure psychic effluent. And throw me in the mobile meth lab in the Wal-Mart parking lot, cuz I'm hooked. It is definately bad for you, and yes, our televisions should be killed. At the same time it has a tendency to stimulate more attentive analysis and unpredictable commentary then real life (one of the dangers, no doubt).

It reminds me of an old Onion article about pacifists fetishizing guns, which really does happen. I'm actually somewhat in the peacebuilding biz, and just got back from a south american nation with a fair bit of strife. At one evening congregation of corrageous peacebuilder types I was asked,"Do you watch 24?" I was like, "It is totally evil, and I'm totally addictived," and they were like, "We completely watch it all the time. We record it if we are going to miss it." These were anti-imperialist, anti-US government, peaceniks, and 24 junkies. I don't know what it is with that show. I got hooked last season, and there is no doubt that the whole show M.O. is hiring the shark to write the shark rodeo which is every eopisode.

All this said, last night's episode covered almost too much ground. Even so, I liked the gratification. I enjoyed seeing Jack pummel Walt, and the Prez's attraction/repulsion to the whole eye gouging potential. I like that the current prez is an idiotic sleazebag moral coward willing to accept the unacceptable under the influence of WMD intel cookers. But a lot of the plot lines resolved last night. It is almost like we are starting fresh next week. Whoopeee!

I agree with an earlier comment that it would have been cool to have Jack scrambling to save the Ruskies, but it is too much to hope that a ridiculous action adventure would be innovative enough to actually cultivate empathy at the same time.

Anyway, "Viva Jack!"

Posted by: Trypticon on January 31, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Love the political sophisticates' comments.
Anyone hear of "Commander-in-Chief"?

How about the realism of "West Wing"?


Posted by: larwyn on January 31, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, its a cartoon. Its James Bond. Its not real. Its not meant to be. Anyone wondering how much reality to read into the show should find the interview posted at Slate.com of the producer (the best article about the show ever). You will find out they dont give a damn about reality, they give a damn about drama. And if they box themselves into a corner, they just write their way out of it. I was on the edge of my seat as was everyone else I know who loves the show. For pure nail biting drama this is the best year ever so far, well...except maybe for the nuclear bomb season but the bomb went off half way through the season and the rest of that season dragged. The show works because the audience agrees to SUSPEND reality. Its not hard to do. Try it. Its fun.

Posted by: Jammer on January 31, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It took me only 10 minutes of season 1, episode 1 to realize that it was a retarded show, not worth my time. It was dumb then, and judging from what I'm reading now, it's gotten worse. (not sure how) Why would anybody want to invest so much time in something that you'd have to be 3 to suspend your disbelief?

Really, go outside and do something!

Posted by: ernie v on January 31, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

For what it is worth, the show is not pushing politics one way or the other. The show is very careful about not pissing off either political side by throwing meat in both directions.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 31, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

you're way late Kevin. 24 jumped the shark in the first season when his wife got 'amnesia'. Last night's episode, on the other hand, was great.

Posted by: Chris on January 31, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

He wouldn't carry a wallet because it spoiled the drape of his suit.

I like him better and better.

Actually I don't carry a wallet because it spoils the drape of my jeans....

Posted by: Taylor on January 31, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I liked how they worked in the "missing WMD" notion and how someone in the administration was plotting to supply the "missing" evidence.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 31, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't watch the episode in question and I'm not sure if the country they were discussing is one of these, but parts of Central Asia indeed have a coastline.

Central Asia

Posted by: axey on January 31, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care one way or another. I watched and enjoyed the first season. After Abu Ghraib, however, I lost ALL taste for what had up to that point been pure hollywood: torture of the terrorist bad guys. 24 makes a habit of torturing people virtually every show.

Honestly, how can anyone watch a show that glorifies torture after Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and a host of torture gulags around the globe? It is repulsive that people seem to wallow in that shit given the facts of REAL torture going on. It ain't just hollywood, folks, so it ain't just a fake "cathartic" release that is harmless. We have been, and continue to be, neck deep in torturing and abusing suspects, let alone those truly guilty of terrorism. The latter doesn't excuse torture, mind you (why oh WHY isn't the first instinct to draw out non-legal confessions or intel to use harmless euphorics and psychedelic drugs? Why is the FIRST and ONLY endpoint right to torture?).

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on January 31, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I don't carry a wallet because it spoils the drape of my jeans....

Whereas I don't wear underwear because it spoils the drape of the little general.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on January 31, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, how can anyone watch a show that glorifies torture after Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and a host of torture gulags around the globe?

What Praedor Atrebates said.

You know when Hogan's Heroes came out it was controversial because it treated WWII and Hitler so lightly. But HH was a show that satirized the Nazis and employed dark humor to great effect in doing so.

24, on the other hand, glorifies the same torture that so many liberals are supposed to be repelled by. Give it a nice high-tech sheen. A James Bond for the 21st Century gloss.

Fans of the show should face up to the fact that it actually caters to your baser instincts. You can pretend you abhor violence and torture. But when you see a conservative getting tortured by your two-dimensional hero, you wet your pants with glee like little school girls. Is that any better than the girl giving a thumbs up in the Abu Ghraib photos?

Hogan's Heroes was a friggin masterpiece compared to 24.

Posted by: Bob on January 31, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

What I took away from last nights episode is that the writers are going thru subplots like drunken sailors. I think every crisis introduced in the opening episode has been pretty much resolved now.

What will keep me watching is 1) How soon will Tony's miraculous powers of recuperation allow him back into action? 2) When will we find out that Michelle isn't really dead? 3) And exactly how will the writers em-peril the teenager and him mom again so Jack can make the choice between saving their lives or rescuing the entire West Coast from certain annihilation?

Posted by: jpmist on January 31, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"24" has not "jumped the shark" in the conventional "this is stupid stuff" sense. But it has jumped beyond conventional TV to become a commentary on TV-watching itself.

Take, for example, the scene in which Jack was coordinating the assault on the ship container. The whole point was not to present an exciting TV scene. The point was to present the watching of an exciting TV scene -- by Jack and the President. (This is the only way I can rationalize an assault by a SWAT team rather than a massive containment effort, swathing the container in an air-tight seal, with lots of EPA guys in hazmat suits walking around instead of guys with automatic weapons.)

Yes, "24" has actually become an intellectually subversive meta-commentary on the very act of watching television -- hence the constant emphasis on "live feeds" and remote camera surveillance.

At least that's what some French guy told me.

Posted by: mobmij on January 31, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Jumped the Shark" doesn't explain how pitiful the latest episode was. I up and left the room and went to bed in protest in how fucking horrible it was. I've been feeling more and more guilty and ashamed that I watch 24, since the plot and dialouge are so substandard, but I keep on crawling back for the next crack rock due to how well they maniupluate the viewer's perception of suspense. No longer. The show has devolved into a mid-day soap opera.

Posted by: Bradford on January 31, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Claudia! Make me a sandweech!"
"Hector! You know we don't have any toorkey!"

Posted by: me2i81 on January 31, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I may get shit for saying this, but I could give a rat's ass who Jack Bauer is or isn't in love with. Why add sappy romantic melodrama to the show? That's my biggest grievance. I gotta say, I still find the show entertaining, ridiculous plot twists or no. But if the characters don't even shit or eat, then why should they have romantic lives as well? I don't need to see that.

Posted by: mags on January 31, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I may not have loved the episode, but when the President's most powerful advisor admits to hyping a WMD threat as a pretext for inserting American military forces to enable cheap oil, I certainly did smile.

Posted by: KMC on January 31, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Are all the characters still saying "New-kya-ler?" That must be in the show bible. Say it like W does, just to annoy anyone with an IQ over 90.

Posted by: yosephus on January 31, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone noticed how quickly they are concluding their plot-lines? You think a certain thread is going to go on for episodes, but then it's suddenly ended. I could've sworn they were going to drag out the "Walt Cummings is really in charge" idea for a good while. Thirty minutes later and Jack is kicking his butt. I don't remember them doing this in earlier seasons. I did notice that Jack likes to "promise" things to people. It's almost as bad as when we used to count the times Agent Dana Scully said "Oh my God" on the X-FIles. (Talk about a show that "jumped the shark.")

Posted by: bobby on January 31, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I could've sworn they were going to drag out the "Walt Cummings is really in charge" idea for a good while. Thirty minutes later and Jack is kicking his butt. I don't remember them doing this in earlier seasons.

The writers weren't doing as much speed back then.

Posted by: Bob on January 31, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kim Bauer and the cougar jumped the shark so fiercely that sharks no longer dare to enter these waters.

Posted by: aplomb on January 31, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kim Bauer and the cougar jumped the shark so fiercely that sharks no longer dare to enter these waters.

Let's have another "Kim Takes a shower" scene, just for good measure.

Posted by: me2i81 on January 31, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I watched the first two seasons, but became so annoyed with "daughter in danger" theme that I resolved to never watch again. Unfortunately, I was visiting my sister and her husband, who are avid fans, on the weekend that this season premiered, and I have watched the last 2 weeks. However, I have again resolved to stop watching if the boy and his mother become the new "idiots in constant danger". I must admit that when they said they were about to be released from CTU, I wanted to throw the remote at the television.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 31, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

It would be a nice change if we saw a scene at CTU where everyone on their phones, at their computers, in the conference rooms, suddenly came to a complete stop in their work and rushed towards the entrance...

...because the pizza delivery boy has just arrived.

Posted by: Bruce A. on January 31, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

...because the pizza delivery boy has just arrived.

then the delivery boy could overcharge them, and Jack torture him to get the money back

Posted by: Bob on January 31, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Let's have another "Kim Takes a shower" scene, just for good measure.

OK, if all the show were about was Kim taking a shower (and similar) THEN we have a show I can get into.

I enjoyed the first season, actually, before Abu Ghraib, etc, poisoned the water are brutal, personal fantasies of "justice" and revenge, but I do remember thinking that they would have a hard time from then on. How many super threats can you deal with without getting repetitious? After a nuke threat, there isn't a lot more left that is as much of an attention-grabber. Bioweapons or chem weapons is about it. After that, do you go back to nuke and cycle through again with slightly different targets and villians?

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on January 31, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't you just stop watching 24, instead of bashing it and pissing off those who still do?

Posted by: Jimm on January 31, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

If you still watch 24 after KIM GOT CAUGHT IN A COUGAR TRAP, you have no right to complain. Just enjoy the show - it's fun.

It's still better than 90% of the shows on (CSI is just about the stupidist/corniest thing I've ever seen)

Posted by: Just Watch It on January 31, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. All this jealousy of 24's fabulous success even as the hailed-to-high-heaven Commander In Chief goes on--ahem--"hiatus" after being blasted by of all thing American Idol ...and West Wing is cancelled outright.

And I simply can't resist the idiot observation that "nobody sleeps or eats."

Memo to idiots: I realize you can't make it through the day without a constant supply of quiche, hand lotion and Starbucks, but it's called "24" because the entire season happens in ONE 24-hour day. Yeah, Jack's hungry, tired and constipated. So what?

Posted by: Dano on January 31, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

No way Kevin.

It hasn't been this good since the first season. Plus they've added a president who is not unlike the Boy Emperor Clown Criminal, a presidential assistant who not unlike Rove, and a RightWing plot that is a typical RightWing plot for oil.

Does it get any better than that ?

Posted by: VJ on January 31, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

It's a show based on a gimmick. The plotting becomes slave to the gimmick. It jumped the shark a while ago IMHO.

Posted by: Randy Paul on January 31, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

there wasn't enough Chloe...

Posted by: Andy on January 31, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Fear supplants empathy and makes us all potential torturers, doesnt it? Post-9/11, weve engaged in a national debate about the morality of torture, fueled by horrifying pictures of manifestly decent men and women (some of them, anyway) enacting brutal scenarios of domination at Abu Ghraib. And a large segment of the population evidently has no problem with this. Our righteousness is buoyed by propaganda like the TV series 24, which devoted an entire season to justifying torture in the name of an imminent threat: a nuclear missile en route to a major city. Who do you want defending America? Kiefer Sutherland or terrorist-employed civil-liberties lawyers?" - David Edelstein


Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK



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