I’ve never seen 24, the TV program. I like Kiefer Sutherland and especially his dad, Donald Sutherland. Last week I saw the first season of 24, four DVDs which I got at the library. There may be a fifth DVD, but I won’t watch Number 5. I won’t watch any more of the series.
FIRST SEASON: Black Senator running for President, is in California on primary day. (California is not his home state, but I’m not sure.) INTELLIGENCE comes in: Senator will be assassinated perhaps by people within the Intelligence Agency. Kiefer and his working group is assigned to investigate the assassination and to prevent it. At home is a wife with whom he has resumed life together after a separation, and a teenage daughter whom they learn has just off during the early morning hours on a school day.
In the sixteen episodes I viewed there is no backstory about reasons for the marital separation, the separation or reason to recouple. The wife is presented as uptight, tightly woven, right and righteous.
Work crisis, home crisis. Wife waits at home until daughter shows up. Kiefer (Jack Bauer) learns from his supervisor that the Agency may kill the Senator: Find the traitor, find the assassin. Everyone who learns or knows of the assassination plan dies except Kiefer (good shot with acceptable high fighting skills) and most of Kiefer’s intelligence team.
While investigating, Kiefer spends a lot of time out of the office, while the team slaves away on computers and fields phone calls.
The Senator and his life are also part of the action. Senator’s son, who once killed someone by tossing him off a building, got a reprieve. That death was called an accident but the truth is emerging. Senator also learns there’s a heightened threat on his life. He refuses to change his schedule one bit, not one whit or an iota. The Senator is a sitting duck for anyone who wants to kill him.
The Senator seems powerfully naive and ignorant for someone running for president, but the American public has been this before. It will take a while before they vote for it again.
Back to the review. The Senator’s political story is predictable, shallow, preposterous and falls to the grade of a soap opera. Ditto the problems of the Senator’s family. The worse role (not the actor’s fault) is that of the Senator’s son, the sneaking murderer. He’s 20 years old, I suppose, but acts 14. He and his father (Senator) have never talked But have a heart to heart where they exchange cliches and thereafter feel better. But Senator doesn’t want son to leave. Son asks why. Senator: “Security” (not “Assassination. We have the faces. They will shoot me and members of the family today.”) Son leaves, sneaking out for a covert meeting with a tongue-happy political advisor.
I realized after 12 hours of episodes, that I didn’t care if the Senator was elected, or if the Son survived, or if the family ever escaped from Peyton Place.
It turned out Kiefer’s daughter [Elisha Cutbert] is being kidnapped; she thinks she’s going to a party. It’s a date gone wrong, a date every girl out to see and brace herself against. It’s the strongest part of the 12 hours. If there are bad dates in the teenage world for a girl, these early episodes show them well. Daughter’s dating-girlfriend gets hit by a car and is murdered later in the hospital. No one every mentions this murder although it is a salient plot and story point.
Coincidence: Daughter is held by the very people who want to kill the Senator. They will use the daughter and the wife, joining daughter after a few episodes, to coerce Kiefer into position that he will be suspected of assassinating the Senator. Kiefer avoids that evil trap and investigates, using clandestine contacts within his intelligence group to learn where wife and daughter are being held: It’s a type of Charles Manson compound-ranch, 15-20 guys with big guns and with access to bigger guns.
TIME TO UNRAVEL SOME OF THIS BUILD-UP:
Problem 1: When Kiefer calls in Rescue Mission from the Agency, assigned to take out the compound are three helicopters of early Vietnam days but gaily painted. Five guys get off one Chopper, 15 guys total against an equal number more heavily armed bad guys with evil faces. I hate seeing those guys on the street. This is a Let’s-Send-A-Rescue-Mission-To-Get-Hostages-From-The-American-Embassy-In-Tehran-A-La-Jimmy-Carter. For the TV show it worked.
Problem 2: Daughter wears red top while being chased by bad guys with bigs guns through the property. No one says, “Shoot at anything that’s red. Ask questions later.” Only after the helicopter ride to safety at Headquarters, does Kiefer give her a brown jacket to conceal her whereabouts.
Problem 3: Daughter has had date-from-hell, but she remains thick. (IQ 30 required for this part). One of the kidnappers wants out and helps daughter and wife. He escapes with them. Daughter has taken a shine to him. Daughter decides, I can protect him in the rough and tumble world, where I can’t protect myself. No one straightens her out. Also daughter is upset with mother/wife when she learns mother/wife is pregnant. She says something like, “You didn’t tell me you were getting pregnant!” [I’m sure all parents sit their existing kid down and say…]
Problem 4: Perception, Genetics, a family? When characters are usual height, it is all right to have kids be usual height, a little shorter or a little taller. Senator (Dennis Heysbert) is a big guy, tall and looks capable to taking out the left side of the University of Alabama offensive line. Wife is usual height. Son should not be five-six. — Kiefer is usual height; wife is lanky at (five-nine)? Daughter is no petite and appears (five-two)?
Problem 5: I’ve not learned anything from my experience, especially the recent on-goings five hours ago when people were trying to kill me. Kiefer’s wife is being debriefed by female agent who slept with Kiefer during the marital separation. Wife suspects and learns of this agent’s intimacy. She gets up and will no longer participate. Every chance it comes up, Kiefer and wife utter the hopes, aspirations and conclusions that “we have to look ahead,” “don’t get bogged down about our past failings; “feelings must be afresh from hereon.” Hence, despite that on-going, annoying clatter, wife suddenly becomes irrationally enraged at someone who’s trying to investigate and protect her. It makes no sense from the wife’s perspective. I no longer cared whether she lives or was captured and taken off forever.
If it isn’t apparent, I saw no growth or little reaction to circumstances and experience by the characters. And I haven’t mentioned the bad guys. They aren’t interesting either. Most have thin or no lips, narrow eyes, tight skin with close-cropped hair and are obviously going to get a bullet diet.
There are too many good movies to see; there is also good TV to see. But it is not 24.