Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jack will Live Another Day

In 2002, I began watching 24, a new drama series centered around a pretty lethal secret agent-type Jack Bauer played by Keifer Sutherland. I felt it was certainly a bold move for Fox to deal terrorism on U.S. soil so soon after 9/11. The first season was a very interesting concept and paced well but despite enjoying it I wasn't 100% sure about preparing to commit to another 24 episodes of the same thing for another season. 

The first episode of season 2 had Jack ask for a protected witness against a terror suspect brought to the CTU agency. After some exposition which highlighted that the witness was into kiddie-porn, Jack draws a weapon and shoots the witness through the heart in front of his astonished superior George Mason. Jack then demands a hacksaw which he uses to decapitate the dead witness in the hope that the severed head will be used to gain favour with the terror suspect and infiltrate his organisation

Mason, is almost freaking out at this, more than a little skeptical of Jack's unorthodox methods, “That's the problem with people like you, George!" Jack tells him "You want results, but you never want to get your hands dirty. I'd start rolling up your sleeves.” 

From that moment on 24 was on the very top of of my TV watching list above all else until it's finale in May 2010. If nothing else and although being classed as entertainment, I saw it almost as a vindication of some of the reprehensible things I've had to do in the field myself. Jack and I have had at times to set aside morality in order to preserve the way of life you enjoy.

The problem is, in drama it works - but I can tell you it doesn't in reality [and believe me I've tried]. So it was probably a good thing in retrospect that 24 producers toned down the highly illegal torture scenarios after getting a personal visit from Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan who taught the laws of war at West Point. He told them that the popularity of 24 among the troops was breeding unhealthy ideas as well as damaging America's reputation abroad.

The policy shift and the writers strike forced the senior writers [including Star Trek franchise writers Manny Coto and Brannon Braga for season 7 and 8 and Homeland's Alex Gansa for Season 8] to focus more on political espionage and geopolitics and the result was actually much darker without the excessive illegal torture scenes and in my opinion, more enjoyable.

It has just been announced that Jack Bauer will return to TV screens, and not to the silver screen as was once presumed, in 24: Live Another Day, a 12-episode miniseries to air on Fox in the summer of 2014. Colour me thrilled.


Master Guns said...

The similarities between The Colonel and Jack Bauer are far more similar than he's made them out to be.

During the course of 8 seasons, Jack tortured dozens and killed several unarmed terrorists AFTER they had been captured and some WHILE THEY WERE TIED UP. But it's not only the bad guys that fell foul of his insanity - Jack also shot at his own men and even dismembered one with a fireaxe!

More specifically, at the beginning of season 6, Jack shot and killed Agent Curtis Manning who he’d been partnered with in the previous two seasons - this was of course even after season 3 where he actually EXECUTED his own boss, the CTU director in a trainyard!

Jack did all of this and more over the course of 8 years on TV. The Colonel could pretty much match this in a fortnight!

Dave Keeshan said...

I always thought that 24 was the first time on TV where I saw the soap opera with guns that made the original G.I. Joe stories so enjoyable.

Lieutenant General Creedon said...

@ Master Guns: OK drop it. I've only ever executed one superior officer. Colonel Brown had anEnglish accent, he had to be evil.

I've never shot people on my own team while looking at them directly and knowing full well who they were like Jack did Curtis.

@ Dave: Yes it was like a soap. Thinkof all the loves that Jack had after the death of his wife. All the loves that were also later killed or went insane that is.

Master Guns said...

Of course he had an English accent Colonel Brown was ENGLISH. The British Army uniform wasn't a giveaway?

What about Mike Williams? You were looking at him when you shot him!

Lieutenant General Creedon said...

No whatever about Brown - Williams went rogue and produced a rifle at a fairground! A fairground. There was children. I had to do what I did.

Bruce Russell said...

I have never seen a complete episode of 24, and yet, I have seen every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, many more than once. This brings me no pleasure.