Tuesday, March 3, 2009

“24” 6:00PM to 8:00PM: Flawed, Laughable, Seriously Awful

All photos from Fox

Usually sometime during the season of ”24”(Fox), something happens that is so incredible, so unbelievable, or so ridiculous that it is laughable. What is unusual is for the show to string two episode back to back that was filled with situations such as these. There are so many that I don’t even know where to begin.

The episode continues the story of Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) attempt to thwart a terror attack. When we last left him, Jack had managed to dig out a special data file from Dubaku’s injured body and had it taken it to the FBI in order to extract the names of the people on the file that were involved in the terrorism. He had met with Tony Almeda ( Carlos Bernard ) who told him the terror attacks weren’t over. Dubaku is in the hospital under the watchful eye of Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching). And then…the flaws begin to flood out to the viewers:

Tony and Jack are sitting in a car outside the White House for a long period, then Tony is sitting there alone in the same car for a long period. I can’t imagine that real White House security or Secret Service would have let someone sit there that long without question or investigation. I would imagine any car parked right outside the White House for more than 3 minutes would cause someone to be on alert.

Jack, despite the fact that he is under some sort of congressional investigation, manages to waltz right into the White House and seems to have complete access to anywhere within it. I know he is working with Bill Buchanan and President Taylor (Cherry Jones) is aware Jack is on the job, but still, there seemed to be no stopping him anywhere, he just waltzed right through.

Meanwhile, Renee is watching Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) in the hospital, and he seems to be recovering, but one of the doctors gets a phone call, which draws her away from treating Dubaku. During that brief period, someone dressed as a nurse approaches Dubaku and injects him with a drug, causing a reaction and Dubaku’s death. Since Dubaku’s accident was not a planned event, how did the terrorists get someone from their team to the hospital and in place, dressed in scrubs, so quickly in order to kill Dubaku? It seems to me they would have already had someone following Dubaku to the hospital already dressed in scrubs with a drug to kill him in hand. Impossible, I say.

Let's not forget the unrealistic speed in which Renee tracked down the license plate and location of the man who injected Dubaku in the hospital, and the speed that she was able to locate the vehicle which just happened to be parked at the terror groups double secret hiding place, where the car was registered. And why would one register their car to a location to where a terror attack group is making their plans? Renee phoned Agent Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling ) at the FBI and told him she found Juma (Tony Todd) and gave his location, but she couldn’t call him later to tell him she spotted him getting on a boat? Wouldn’t it have been easier for them to just get someone to track the boat, rather than have her leap on to it? And what kind of terrorists are these that they don’t even notice someone jumped onto their boat and is lurking outside, even when they begin to walk out onto the boat desk?

This brings me to the most ludicrous part of the show ever. Juma and his terror group manage to boat down what I assume is the Potomac River, jump into the river in wet suits, drill an opening into what seems like an access tunnel, and manage to take that tunnel right up to the White House. Let’s not forget they also have someone working on the inside who disables the double-secret laser beam security system, this same person also who seemed to have helped break part of the wall down so Juma’s team could get into the White House. This whole process - from boat, to drilling into the tunnel, from disabling the only security field in the tunnel system, and breaking down a wall, not to mention just the walk they would have to take from where they entered on the Potomac to the White House - seemed to take less than 30 minutes. Sorry, this is just not even remotely credible.

Even worse is that the White House Secret Service is completely obliterated, apparently the White House and West Wing is too big for them to hear automatic weapons firing so they can take action. And once it is clear that Juma is taking control, the man who seems like the lead agent decides to get everyone to pull back from the area, based on only Juma’s word that he had the President in custody. I don’t think that would happen in a million years; the agent would have demanded proof or waited for instructions before he pulled out. In fact, I would think a Secret Service person would put their own life first before they pulled out from protecting the President.

Of course, we need to have someone helping Juma from the outside, Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) and his assistant (played by Rory Cochrane, who looks like he’s put on a few pounds by the way). After all, it seems that every season of 24 needs to have a few traitors around. Which brings me to Ryan Burnett (Eyal Podell), the aide of Senator Mayer (Kurtwood Smith), whom Jack tortures in order to get information about the next terror attack. Despite the high stakes, the President seems to have suddenly gone soft, and stops Jack mid-torture, and has Jack taken in to custody. My question here is – do they really have a little jail in the White House? Somehow, I found that a little funny. I also didn’t quite understand why Jack didn’t take a frontal approach on the issue and allow Ryan to be exposed as a traitor, and why Jack had to “protect” Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) by holding him at gunpoint and then chocking him into unconsciousness. Why would bringing Bill in on the traitor in their midst so they could collectively get information on where the next terror attack was going to be not be the most logical step? Jack’s excuse for everything is that there is never enough time, but in this case, it seemed like seriously warped logic.

Of course, Jack manages to get the President into the lockdown room, which for some reason seems far far away from the Oval Office. In the meantime, everyone around Jack gets killed. Amazing, isn’t it? And while Jack is able to improvise to help prevent the terrorists from breaking the code in order to gain entry to the lockdown room, I found myself wondering - how did Jack know that by shorting out the door’s access panel that he would only cause the terrorists’ hacking attempt to be aborted, and not have it just open the doors? I suppose he had to do something, but it could have not worked out the way he intended. And it wouldn’t be 24 without a spineless, inept, or untrustworthy VP, as we got with Vice President Mitchell Hansen (Cameron Daddo), who won’t allow the FBI to take any action.

Meanwhile, Agent Pierce (Glenn Morshower) is trying to get the President’s daughter Olivia (Sprague Grayden) to safety, and rather stay in some sort of air duct (how did they get in their so quickly anyway, and how big are those White House ducts that they can hold two people?), he decides to try to get a signal outside. Poor Aaron, he gets shot, and Olivia fails at getting out a complete signal and is captured. News of her capture causes the Presdient to fold like it’s laundry day and she makes Jack open the doors. Now Juma has control, and he tells the President to start preparing a statement – her last statement.

While it may seem small, it was also hard to believe that Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) deletes Ryan’s name from Dubaku’s file, and despite her computer expertise, she leaves evidence that a record had been there, something that the untrusting Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) manages to catch. Chloe gets taken into custody before a real catfight can ensue. Such a shame, really, it would have really topped off the show.

Anyway, this was probably the worst two hours of 24 that I have ever seen in the entire run of the show. It is almost of shark-jumping caliber. I don’t want this show to end up like CSI Miami, where I watch it for how bad it is, not for how good it is. I am actually ashamed that someone watching this show from another country would think that our White House could be so unprotected and our law enforcement agencies like Secret Service and the FBI are either so inept or so ineffective. I hope that the show gets back on the believability train next week, and if not, at least allow viewers to see a Chloe/Janis knockdown fight. That’s probably the only thing I would find believable at this point.

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