Last weekend B and I finally finished the third season of 24, thankyouverymuch Netflix. The show is pretty predictable, so I got into the habit of walking away to empty the dishwasher, cook a meal, or check e-mail before coming back to it.
So far 24 has basically been a loop of the same handful of events. Evil terrorist group has shady dealings, the shady dealings are discovered by CTU (the generically named government agency Counter Terrorist Unit), Jack Bauer’s family members are somehow drawn into the action, the president becomes involved, Jack Bauer goes rogue or dark, and Jack Bauer saves the day. When evil character Nina Myers resurfaced in this season I turned to B and commented that if Sherry Palmer also resurfaced I was going to pull my hair out. Lo and behold they both returned and they were both still evil. I decided to keep my hair, though.
It’s really difficult to take a counter-terrorist government agency seriously when many of the day-to-day decisions in the office are influenced in some way by the drama of the team’s relationships with one another. From the beginning romantic relationships were written into the show, but by season three they had become downright outrageous. The director of the CTU office is married to one of the leads on his team. Jack Bauer, field agent extraordinaire, has somehow managed to bring his irritating daughter Kim into the team, and then Kim has mixed things up further by starting a romantic relationship with another one of the field agents. Gag. It’s like Friends but with terrorists and exploding things thrown into the storyline.
And while we’re talking about real life, I’m 100% certain that if I were ever in a situation in which a helicopter full of machine gun-toting men were flying after me I’d have the confidence to assume my pistol could take them out. Oh, Jack. Really?
Throughout the first two seasons–and again occasionally throughout the third–B and I lovingly referred to Elisha Cuthbert’s character, Jack’s daughter, as Kimpossible. It seems she’s always managing to get into scrapes and make one wrong decision after another, and all too often her story is more of an interrupting annoyance than a value-added item for the show. I can’t count the number of times B and I chanted in unison, “Take Kimpossible! Shoot Kimpossible so we can move on!” During the first two seasons we grew tired of all the “See Kim run” scenes. (It was almost as if we’d been dropped into the action of Lola Rennt every time Kim was on-screen.) In the third season Kim has finally stopped running and somehow landed herself a spot at CTU, as the resident “speshul kid.”
B quickly picked up on some of the cheesy lines repeated in nearly every episode. He especially likes to mock Jack Bauer by saying everything twice and leading into the second repetition with the words “I repeat!” (According to him the proper replacement for “I repeat” is “I say again,” just in case any of you want to run around pretending to be field operatives.) This turned slightly irritating since every other thing B said to me this weekend was exclaimed in this format: “We have used up all of the green onions! I repeat, we are out of green onions!”
My favorite Jack Bauer saying is, “We’re running out of time!” I know that shouting “We’re running out of time!” is a good way to remind us that the show is really intense and that the good guys are constantly racing against the 24-hour clock, but really, do we have to repeat this line so often? In nearly every conversation, a sweat-soaked Jack Bauer is on his two-way shouting “We’re running out of time!” as if the terrorist-manipulated President or the frantic CTU staff aren’t already aware that they’ve got to work quickly to save the country when they’re not busy making out in dark corners. I’d like to hear Jack say, just once, “Mr. President, I have five minutes before this bomb explodes and you’re the only person who can authorize our takedown of the person who holds the trigger. But go home, sleep on it, and take your time getting back to me in the morning, please!”
All things considered, at least so far the show is still fun even if half of our entertainment comes from the commentary B and I supply every time the writing turns intense.
My favorite so far happened at the very end of the season. Jack Bauer has just sawed off his partner’s hand and he watches as a countdown timer on a vial of aerosol containing a deadly virus approaches zero. At the one-second mark Jack manages to shove the vial into a refrigerator and slam the door shut. The long, tiring season has ended, yet another national crisis has been averted, and Jack has just saved millions of lives. We see the vial explode, discharging the deadly virus all over the employee lunches inside the sealed fridge.
And B jumps up from the couch, grinning and shouting, “Five-second rule! I repeat, that sandwich is still good!”