So now that 24 is back as the first major new TV show to air in 2010, and in its 8th season, you may want to ask yourself if it’s worth watching. Maybe you’ve seen all the other seven seasons and just can’t help yourself, maybe your buddy showed you some old episodes and you want to start at least one season from the beginning, or maybe main protagonist Jack Bauer’s name has permeated so much of pop culture you owed it to yourself to at least see what it’s all about.
24 is a big show, it has been ever since its genre defining debut back in 2001, creating a real time show were American agents do everything they can to stop a terrorist plot set in only one day that they can’t even begin to get their heads around, especially as each hour unfolds. The series promises and delivers on action, twists, equally supported plot lines to throw off the most observant viewer, a great lead character and fantastically ballsy one-liners.
Season 8 is no different in this manner; it’s got all the maybe-terrorists, all the definite-terrorist and Jack doing what he does best. With all that has stayed the same, there must be some change. The main complaint against a show is that the writers are beginning to run out of ideas. Though the writing is never sloppy and the dumb action takes off of the top enough to remain enjoyable.
In an effort to remain realistic, Jack, having retired from the anti-terrorist game for the umpteenth time is pulled back in as a favour to his ever-present side kick Chloe O’Brian, the technical brains behind his experienced muscle. Kiefer Sutherland returns to Bauer playing the character as comfortably as he always has. With TV shows, you’re not going to see the actors pull out huge readings every episode (unless you watch LOST), but Sutherland Jr. chews the scenery like we want him to. Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe is the only other regular on 24, having somehow survived it all so far. She plays her character awkward, but with such an off-putting edge it is surely intentional and drawing the viewer into her character’s perception.
The rest of the cast all seem like misfires. This could be to their characters all being annoyingly un-courageous so far, not what you want to see in 24, or because everyone is being downplayed to get the viewers to question their trust in everyone. So far the only stand-outs are the Middle Eastern political family whose country of origin is deliberately concealed (further research suggests fictitious country might be “Kamistan”). Anil Kapoor as President Omar Hassan is a powerful turn and well self-minimised performance. He is matched by his brother/advisor as well as the small parts of his scorned wife and doting daughter. The new CTU, back again, this time in New York, New York, is filled with wooden actors who embarrass themselves by trying too hard. The set is amazing though, and hopefully a lot of action will go down there, maybe the whole thing will blow up!
The directing is as good and bad as it has always been. The skill of both filming and presenting real-time double shots of both intense character-on-character scenes and alley-way shoot-outs has been understated by being achieved so consistently each season. With any luck, as the season goes on we’ll be getting even more exciting scenery and sets.
As you may be able to tell from that last sentance, I’m in for season 8 so far. As a long time 24 fan, there’s enough promise in the plot and delivery for me to stay committed, and with Renee Walker (the engulfing Annie Wershing), President Logan and Ethan Kanin all potentially coming back for the rest of season, it will be a fun ride to the blow-out finale.