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11/24/2008
REDEMPTION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FAMILIAR
CATEGORY: "24"

There were times last night during the showing of the 24 2 hour preview Redemption that it felt like the production team had recaptured some of the magic lost during last year’s abysmal season. Here was Jack Bauer in his element, taking on an entire squad of bad guys with just a couple of pistols and a few sticks of dynamite, blazing away, dropping his enemies with the precision of the killing machine he has proven to be over the years.

But the show lacked much in the way of suspense, was entirely predictable (who didn’t guess that once the kids started for the embassy that Jack wouldn’t trade his freedom for their asylum?), and failed to involve the audience in what should have been the emotional crux of the show; Jack’s inner turmoil about coming to grips with what he believed he was forced to do at CTU.

The short, unsatisfactory scene where Bauer discusses his wanderings since the end of Season 6 with his special forces buddy Carl Benton (played with heart and understated competence by Robert Carlyle), who runs a mission for kids orphaned in a previous genocide, didn’t reveal much as far as Jack’s motivations for running away from the Senate subpoena. In very un-Jacklike fashion, he made it known he valued his “freedom,” intimating that he didn’t want to go to jail for what he had done at CTU. Or is the real reason he is gallivanting around the globe is that he is trying to run away from his personal demons - the faces that haunt his dreams of the people he killed or tortured?

Perhaps this will be fleshed out as the season goes on - otherwise there’s a great big blank spot for Jack’s motivations.

Some may think the story line about child soldiers to be unworthy of Bauer but I found it horrific and compelling. The opening scene where the new “recruits” were drinking some kind of alcohol and forced to kill the government official was shocking and realistic.

Best of all was the portrayal of the United Nations lickspittle. Now it should be said that there are many brave, courageous UN peacekeepers and relief workers out there who have given their lives for their mission. But there are way too many Charles Solenz’s, the cowardly UN peacekeeper (played with suitable ambivalence by Sean Cameron Michael) who ends up betraying Jack and the kids. The show’s POV of the United Nations was definitely negative and definitely not PC - a pleasant surprise and one that bodes well for the rest of the season.

Jon Voigt is a good choice for Jack’s nemesis, arms dealer Jonas Hodges who, we discover in the last scene, has some very powerful friends in government as he is standing with other movers and shakers immediately prior to the inaugural. His tentacles appear to be long and deep as he not only has an in with the former administration but also apparently has cronies with the Secret Service.

Our first femal president is Allison Taylor a Hillary look-alike played by Cherry Jones, a fine character actor (she was brilliant in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs as a police officer). I don’t trust her. When the outgoing president offered her a drink, she refused on the grounds that it was “too early in the day.” A good politician knows it’s never too early for scotch.

Beyond that, she acts just as you’d expect a liberal Democrat to act. When told that we had no economic or compelling national interest in the tiny African country of Sangala she wanted to send troops anyway. Only when there is absolutely no way anyone could construe the US sending troops to a country for selfish reasons will a liberal shoulder the burden of a war. It’s counterintuitive but there you have it.

The one other character of note who will be seen when the season gets underway on January 11-12 with the usual 4 hour extravaganza is First Son Roger Taylor played with studied indifference by Eric Lively. But it’s not him that I will look forward to seeing. It is his extremely hot girlfriend Samantha portrayed by Canadian Carly Pope. The show always seems to get at least one hottie who proves to be a femme fatale. My guess is that Samantha is tied up with Hodges in one way or another.

All told, the plot of Redemption was satisfactory if not spectacular, the acting workmanlike, the production values scintillating as usual (no one blows stuff up like 24), and the African locations gave it a nice ring of authenticity. The villains appear to be suitably evil (although how I long for the truly diabolical fanaticism of Marwan, the Islamic terrorist with the nuke fetish). The idea of a female presidency doesn’t bother me even though the First Guy appears a little emasculated to me.

In short, the preview was not a disappointment but hardly a huge success. It showed us that the season has the potential for some excitement but could also tail off into a quagmire of touchy-feely, politically correct nonsense.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

By: Rick Moran at 12:59 pm
15 Responses to “REDEMPTION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FAMILIAR”
  1. 1
    Juan Paxety Said:
    1:17 pm 

    Hodges popping up at the inauguration reminded me of the cigarette smoking man popping up on The X-files. Delicious.

  2. 2
    Bill Said:
    3:06 pm 

    While not the best 24 I’ve seen, I guess it was necessary to get Jack back in the states for this season. Otherwise he’d have to be on a plane for the first 14 hours.

  3. 3
    John Howard Said:
    3:14 pm 

    Let me rock your world–I’d never watched “24″ until last night.

    There, I said it.

    I only watched because of your previous post mulling over whether it would be any good.

    My wife and I were stunned at how good it was. We don’t watch much TV, for a variety of reasons, and so we may be out of touch with how things have changed in the last 10 years, but as the wife said, “Wow. That was like a theater movie.”

    But I really think Sean Penn would have been a better UN worker. ;-)

  4. 4
    Doug Mataconis Said:
    3:16 pm 

    Unless I’m missing something, I’m pretty sure that in the 24 universe, President Taylor is a Republican.

    We know that David Palmer was a Democrat because in Season One he was running in the California Democratic Primary. Most likely, his brother Wayne was a Democrat as well, as was Noah Daniels.

    Based on the context of the Oval Office conversation, I’m assuming that Taylor beat Daniels in the General Election. So, that would have to make her a Republican, no ?

    As an aside, I was annoyed to see that they brought back the annoying White House “tele-presence suite”

    Say what you will about The West Wing, but at least they did the Sit Room right.

  5. 5
    MochaLite Said:
    4:06 pm 

    I like 24, but I love your day-after commentary, and I’ve missed it! I agree with your take on Redemption - pretty lightweight and predictable, but it’s something in an otherwise barren season.

    One moment they didn’t show, which I think will turn out to be significant: Who did Benton *not* take down with him when he stepped off the land mine?

  6. 6
    mike volpe Said:
    4:43 pm 

    Rick, I have been a fan since the first show and I wasn’t nearly as disappointed with last season as you were. Furthermore, I didn’t find the show last night as predictable as you saw it. Of course, we all understood that Jack wouldn’t trade their freedom for his. So what? The show was nearly over by then and this is the way to get him back to the states. Also, you didn’t mention anything about the scene that will stick with me the longest, the scene in which Benton acts as a suicide bomber. Only Benton uses the technique for real asymetrical military strategy. There is something very powerful and perverse in showing a suicide bombing in such a way.

  7. 7
    Jennie C. Said:
    9:15 pm 

    Glad to have your 24 commentaries back, Rick. Missed them almost as much as the show (not quite).

    I reread your entry on the finale of Day 6 just a week or so ago. You mentioned in passing that Chloe would be on maternity leave. But we don’t know how long it’s been. In the past, it’s been as many as 2 years between “days.”

    Maybe CTU has put in a daycare (the security implications of that, given that anyone with a credit card seems to be able to break in, are pretty scary), or maybe Chloe will just keep the baby under her desk: she’s done it before.

    I looked on last night’s episode as being like other first episodes of a new day. We’re always really confused at first and then it shakes down (of course, then we get even more confused, but that’s half the fun).

  8. 8
    Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » The Return Of The Jack Bauer Power Hour Pinged With:
    9:33 pm 

    [...] More reviews from The New York Times and Rick Moran. [...]

  9. 9
    Fausta Said:
    3:37 pm 

    I missed it because I went dancing at the tango festival. Will they re-air it soon?

    Rent the DVD out today. Or you can watch it online at the Fox website.

    Ed.

  10. 10
    Fausta’s Blog » Blog Archive » And now, for a 24 post Pinged With:
    3:46 pm 

    [...] not, as my friend Rick Moran was watching for the rest of us. His review, REDEMPTION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FAMILIAR got my attention, Best of all was the portrayal of the United Nations lickspittle. Now it should be [...]

  11. 11
    Angry Dumbo Said:
    12:09 pm 

    Saw it. Put me down for pc nonsense. The premise is off. Jack doesn’t need redemption. Swallow the premise, you buy into the narrative that was the first several seasons, namely that the world is a rough place that needs rougher people like Jack to keep good people safe. Not much on tv, so the bar is low. Still 24 this season looks like Jack visits the West Wing. Major barf alert.

  12. 12
    flyerhawk Said:
    3:54 pm 

    24 depicting the UN as some horrible entity is surprising? The show is neo-con porn. If they showed the UN is a FAVORABLE light it would be much more surprising.

  13. 13
    Mike Said:
    12:41 pm 

    I think we should probably assume that Taylor is a Republican, given the above argument, but is there anything explicitly saying that she beat him in the General Election and not the primaries? Daniels definitely came off as a more moderate Democrat to me, so it’s possible that he was picked off in the primaries by someone more amenable to the liberal base. And someone who actually has a personality.

  14. 14
    emgersh Said:
    6:56 pm 

    Have to agree with Doug. I too thought the new pres was a Rep. Either that or she beat the former veep/pres in the primary.

  15. 15
    Jennie C. Said:
    3:43 pm 

    Just saw a promo for the new season and Chloe was in it :)

    Line: “I don’t think Jack is in a helpful frame of mind.”

    (don’t think that’s much of a spoiler….

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