24: Live Another Day – 7.00 – 8.00pm


A spoiler?

Sigh.

Ater last week’s dramatic drone attack on Wembley, there were plenty of people on-line convinced that Heller wasn’t dead: that Chloe had doctored the feed, fed in a cloned loop and that Jack had spirited the President away from the centre spot in the nick of time. I hoped they were wrong. I’d rather admired Heller’s quiet dignity in going to his death and this kind of convoluted, oh so clever trickery was, in dramatic terms, flat and banal. Needless to say, the internet got it right, despite 24‘s usual trick of leaving William DeVane’s credit out of the opening titles.

At first, it looked like a success: everyone hung around in mourning, Stephen Fry paid tribute to the late President (I’m sorry, I cannot give credence to Stephen Fry as anyone except Stephen Fry, which is why he just doesn’t work as Prime Minister Alistair thingy), Audrey refused to be consoled by Creepy Mark and, most importantly, things started crashing into the sea off Dover. Yes, Mama Terrorist Margot was keeping her side of the bargain, despite Smartarse son Ian’s fanatical reservations. Five down, one to go, until Smartarse sussed out the trick. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so the wrathful Mama Margot sent the last drone to bomb Waterloo Station, where people were desperately trying to get out of London in the wake of the Wembley bomb.

Fair enough, thinks I, at least it’ll get Sky’s poisonous Kay Burley, who’s down there lending her own special branch of ignorance to the scene.

But we are failing to take into account Jack Bauer. Browbeating the still pub-bound Chloe into tracking Mama Margot to an otherwise deserted office block in Hackney, Jack calls in the Cavalry in the form of Barbie Doll Kate and the much-chastened Eric (plus an entire truck of guys with tommy guns) to clean out the guards whilst Jack inflitrates from the roof, climbinmg down the outside of the building on a makeshift rope of cables. Envisaging his making the traditional dramatic entrance, shattering glass as heswings into the room, I could think of nothing more than the legendary Stan Freberg in ‘The Banana Boat Song (Day-Oh)’ and that lovely line ‘I come through the window’.

However, Smartarse Ian, having shot the windows to buggery on sight, makes the mistake of leaning out, whereupon Jack grabs his hand and hauls him out for the fall (fifth floor). Time being tight, he shoots Mama Margot through the shoulder and, with the Waterloo bound missile already in flight, uses the override machine to divery it into a nearby lake at the literal last second.

Then, with Mama Margot screaming at him about all the deaths today that have been at his hands, he wraps up the plot by throwung her out the window too! Eight and a half hours, a new World Record!

But this show is called 24 (and there’s something like a twelve hour leap between episodes scheduled yet), so there’s time to kill (heh heh, poor choice of words there, sorry). This is not, however, to be three and a half hours of mopping up operations, do not fear, action lovers. First there is a suspiciously timely call to Barbie Kate from her Police contact, who’s just found the body of the late Jordan Reed, plus dead assailant, over in Camden.

Consternation spreads. She and Eric head over there where the total lack of any identification on the killer makes them suspect a Pro (and what was Jordan doing in Camden anyway?). Jack, who is securing the override device to bring in to CIA, suspects a connection to the now obliterated El-Harasi family (incidentally, the late Mahmoud, in whose name dear Mama has been working, turns out to have been only a second husband, stepfather only to Smartarse and Baby, in case anyone had been worrying about their genetic purity). And Mole Steve Navarro is shitting bricks over his eventual exposure.

Monotonous Adrian offers him a way out: escape, money, safety, on condition Navarro brings him the override device. This means getting it off Jack, not to mention out of lockdown in a secure CIA facility with the DoD already there to remove it for analysis. Navarro is sweating, knowing that Jack’s back-channel detection of the dead Pro’s fingerprints is going to lead to him. So what ingenious plan does he deploy? In a glass-panelled office, under the view of staff starting to look at him strangely because he’s being a bit wierd over Jordan’s death, he knocks out the DoD man with a sleeper hold, stuffs the override device into a holdall and – Station Chief that he is amd constantly in emand – walks unnoticed out of a back door. A back door in a secure, lockdown room. A back door in a secure, lockdown room that leads to deserted corridors, the basement and a fire exit (with no apparent security) into the back streets.

There are people who are taking this show seriously, who think it’s actually exciting.

Jack, of course, is hot on his heels, but just not quite hot enough. He was decoyed out of the way by a phonecall from Audrey, thanking him for saving her pa. There is an old flame seriously a-kindling there, possibly timely since Chloe, who has gotten out of that pub unmolested, after about three hours saving the world without apparently drinking even half a shandy, has finally brushed him off. Jack wants her to come in to CIA HQ to analyse the override device (a magical weapon, it transpires, that can override anything military, not just drones): that’s CIA HQ where, nine hours ago remember, Chloe was being tortured. No, Chloe’s done her bit and she’s not doing any more. Chloe’s going back to Monotnous Adrian.

Who, as the clock ticks, is driving her to Finsbury Square, to meet the runaway Steve Navarro…

Before we go, let us not forget (since the split screen reminds us in timely manner), that the President’s Lazarus-like reappearance spells all sorts of shit for Creepy Mark, in the shape of a forged Executive Order handing the now pardoned Bauer over to the Russkie’s.

And let us also not forget, since the scripters obviously have, that James Heller is no longer President of the United States of America: he resigned the post as of 7.00pm this evening. It will be interesting to see if anyone remembers that little wrinkle…

24: Live Another Day – 5.00 – 600 pm


Do NOT vote for this man.

Last week’s unexpected excursion into genuine tension and interest does carry over into the second half of 24: Live Another Day yet, in the way you know the show can’t resist being fatuously improbable, it couldn’t help dropping back into complete farce.
The first of these related to Baby Terrorist Simone, last seen having a head-on discussion with a London bus that sent her flying at least five yards in a horizontal direction.
Needless to say, the fragile-looking, pre-Raphaelite Simone was rapidly surrounded by Ambulances and all those head brace and splint thingies that prevent seriously injured people from moving any muscle still in an active state. She has multiple fractures, contusions and internal injuries, enough to have her rushed off to the nearby St Edwards Hospital in a critical condition.
Equally needless to say, Jack and Barbie are also rushing headlong towards St Edwards, anxious to keep all knowledge of Baby Terrorist’s incarceration from Mama Terrorist (some hope: Mama Margot phones Simone to find out why it’s taking so long to slaughter her sister-in-law and niece, only to find that St Edwards is the place to be).
Our anxious heroes’ only chance is to get Baby to turn against Mama, especially as little Yasmin confirms that, before killing Farah, Simone did urge them to get out of London.
But Simone is all battered and banged-up and in no fit state to speak: until, that is, Jack persuades the Doctor to administer that wonderful wake-up drug that drags patients back from death’s door with enough presence of mind to not only undergo interrogation by Jack Bauer, but also undergo torture from him.
This isn’t the bit where the episode goes lurching into improbability, though. No, this is just the bit where Simone wakes up, spits (metaphorically) in Jack’s eye when he asks her to betray her ever-loving mother, thus inducing him to unwrap her maimed left hand and start twisting Simone’s little finger: you know, the one that, not three hours ago, Mama lovingly had chopped off with a cold chisel, and which hasn’t yet been treated.
Simone’s loyalty to Mummy and the cause is impressive. Unfortunately, Mummy has no trust in her betraying daughter any more and has the next drone diverted to blow the shit out of the Hospital.
This is where it does get loony. Jack dedicates himself to getting Simone out. On foot. On Simone’s feet that is, with Jack supporting her, but she’s stumbling quite adequately out of the hospital. More than adequately, given her multiple fractures… Gah! I say, and gah!
Anyway, Mama spots that her beloved traitorous daughter has been got away and sends the drone after Jack’s car, through a wild chase through London traffic, side-streets and extreme parking that’s merely unrealistic in any practical sense and perfectly standard for 24. Jack somehow manages to avoid hitting at least fifty different cars, whilst stealing two others en route, until the last drone missile is used and Mam realises she’s still not killed her lovely child.
That’s where we’re up to in the principal plot, so it’s time to go back to the Residence and catch up with Heller and his circle. They don’t get too much play this time out, but when they do, it’s a doozy. Heller gives Stephen Fry a much needed bollocking. The Russian contact still wants Jack, ASAP, and if thwarted will use his knowledge that Creepy Mark forged Heller’s signature to an Executive Order.
And we’re on our way to major, bull goose loony notion number two. Heller witnesses the scenes of carnage at the hospital. He gets changed into a suit, and uses a hitherto wholly unsuspected backchannel to set up a Skype call with none other than Margot El-Harasi. The deadline still hasn’t passed for her ultimatum for Heller to hand himself over to her tender mercies. Heller’s been looking at the devastation caused at the hospital: he’s all set to hand himself over.
No, I’m sorry, not even in the world of 24 is that notion even remotely plausible. In a foreign country, the President of the United States of America is prepared to hand himself over to a vicious, brutal terrorist, who will stop at nothing to inflict brutal torture upon him and use him as the greatest propaganda coup terrorism has ever had. Ok, yes, he’s going to have Jack Bauer accompanying him, but even so, this one is so far-fetched it’s circling the sun somewhere outside the orbit of Pluto. Even assuming that Mama Margot’s word not to kill anyone else today can be trusted (and even if it can, she never promised not to start again tomorrow).
But let us not forget that there is now a sub-plot. For new readers, CIA Station Chief Steve Navarro has been revealed as the real traitor passing secrets to the Chinese, not Barbie Doll Kate’s disgraced and dead husband. However, puppy dog analyst Jordan, who worships Kate, is now running a retrieval program that will expose the CTU Mole (well, you know what I mean).
However, Navarro’s contact warns the baddie that his orders to ignore this are being ignored and Jordan needs to be disposed of. With a sense of shock that lasts for all of 0.2 seconds, we discover that Naughty Steve’s contact is Adrian the Monotone Hacker.
As for poor Jordan, he suddenly finds himself sent out into the field for the first time ever in of-course-not-suspicious circumstances, to retrieve a parcel from a message drop down on the canal. Where a thuggish looking thug shoots him in the chest, causing him to collapse, Dirty Den-style into the canal.
But fear not, something in all of this has triggered Puppy Dog’s sense of self-preservation and, despite having been shot at point blank range by a professional assassin, he swims hundreds of yards underwater, under canal water too thick for him to be seen, before pulling himself out with a flesh wound, a mere scratch. Currently being worked on by every kind of nasty bug ever to have lived in a British canal, so that’s him done for…
My overall verdict? One step sideways, three colossal ones downhill.
More idiocy next week, unfortunately.

24: Live Another Day – 4.00 – 5.00pm


Jack Bauer-ette

Out of curiosity, last week, I did a bit of searching online about what others think of this unimpressive appendage to 24, discovering to my surprise that not only do they think that this is actually good, but they’re seriously comparing Live Another Day to some of the better series of the show.

Frankly, I find that unbelievable, but after watching episode 6 – which is the halfway point, remember, inflation having done a serious number of the concept of the show – I’m forced to concede that there were elements of this episode that actually deserved to be taken seriously.

As universally predicted, Jack gets released to chase down the only lead under the sun to the ever-more ludicrous Margot Al-Hazari, Terrorist Without A Cause. Said lead is an arms dealer who does jobs for Mama Terrorist but who can’t be bought or broken, so is only vulnerable to an approach by Jack, for which Jack wants a sidekick: Barbie Doll Kate (didn’t see that coming, no sir). Jack’s Cunning Plan is to sell Kate to Rasp the Arms Dealer as cover for dropping a virus into Rasp’s systems that will allow Chloe – who is being absolutely wasted (as well as looking absolutely wasted) just sitting on the phone and twiddling her computers – to get the vital info. Kate being Kate, she goes into it headlong.

There’s just one problem with Jack’s scheme which can be summed up in just two words: Stephen Fry.

Now I’m not amongst that great majority in these islands that thinks Mr Fry to be a National Treasure (I’d rather he was buried than dug up) but his presence as British Prime Minister to date has been made tolerable by his not getting more than about three lines per episode. Here, he gets rather more than that, though as he’s not playing the PM as Stephen Fry, thankfully. But, whereas Jack has bargained a completely surveillance-free mission from Heller, the idiot Brits surveil him like nobody’s business, decide he’s really double-crossing the Yanks, and send in MI5 and the Cavalry at exactly the wrong moment: cue chaos, lots of bullets, Rasp killing himself with a grenade, but at least Barbie demonstrates her worth by killing the guy torturing her with nothing more than a well-toned pair of thighs locked fround his neck.

But the bug is in the system, so phew, lumme.

Elsewhere, Mama Margot continues to demonstrate that she’s got more balls than the World Cup, by sending dutiful Baby Terrorist, fresh from having seen Feak and Weeble Navid carried out of the plot, to deal with Navid’s sister, Farah, who has been told to get out of London. Simone, sweating somewhat through the heavy leather gloves she’s wearing to hide the fact that she’s no longer as dactyl as the rest of us, reports the obvious: that Farah (and her angelicly winsome daughter) know fuck all, but better safe than sorry, and besides someone’s got to be slaughtered every hour or we’d lose confidence in Mama Margot the Terrorist.

So Simone goes to tea with her unsuspecting relatives. But no sooner does she pull out her flick-knife than, in a moment of weakness, she tells Farah to run, get out of London. But she immediately dives for the phone to call the Police, causing Baby Terrorist to struggle with her and accidentally impale the woman just under the left breast.

Which leads to a ridiculous chase as the eight year old kids rushes from the house, screaming blue murder, with Simone in hot pursuit and a have-a-go neighbour in equally hot pursuit. I say ridiculous, because not only does the eight year old easily keep ahead of a fully grown, long-legged and very fit young woman but, when the kid hits London traffic two streets over, she weaves through it unharmed, whilst Simone gets clouted head on by a bus. Oy vey!

If it weren’t for Jack’s mission, I’d be just as scathing about this series as I’ve been so far, but it at least showed a greater dimension than earlier episodes. Otherwise, we get two side-developments that are there to set up later elements in this truncated story.

First, Creepy Chief of Staff Mark has his own private conversation with Jack about Audrey, as a result of which he fends off the Russians over the Executive Order that hands Bauer off to them. Unsurprisingly, they want a conversation with President Heller about why he’s rescinded it, which will prove awkward for Mr Boudreau, given that he forged the President’s signature to it.

Then Jordan, the analyst who fancies Barbie Doll, brings up yet again Kate’s inability to spot her husband was a Russian spy. It’s not our weekly reminder – Kate herself has already undertaken the ritual for the hard of thinking – because Jordan, in the middle of this all-consuming crisis, has investigated Kate’s computer and discovered that records relating to the late Mister M have been deleted. And despite Boss Navarro telling him to leave it until this drone-thing is done, Jordan runs a background recovery programme.

Do we have a mole? We have a Mole! We might not have a CTU still, but the glorious tradition persists. And, from the very dodgy phone-call he makes to alert an electronically disguised voice, our mole is none other than… big bossman, Steve Navarro! Oooooh.

So. It’s already halfway done, but 24 is actually starting to look a bit interesting (probably it will really hit its stride round about episode 13… no, wait). Let’s see if it continues this improvement in hour 7.