24: Live Another Day – 10.00pm – 11.00am

Before it all went south…

As endings go, this wasn’t a bad one, and it made for the best, most consistent and most convincing episode of the entire series. Perhaps that’s not surprising: only 43 minutes or so of screen time to resolve all the set-ups doesn’t leave much space for any idiocy, though this being 24, it couldn’t completely avoid a trip to the land of the implausible contrivance on the way.

You’ll also notice that this was a thirteen hour long episode crammed into one hour. It’s been rumoured all along that there would be a twelve hour leap, just to square the circle of 12 not being 24, no matter you push, poke, prod or stretch it. The leap came fifteen minutes from the end, cutting out twelve hours at a stroke and leaving enough time for loose ends to be tied off into a presentable bundle and the cast to get the hell out, leaving the vast majority of its audience already assuming there’s going to be a Season 10, and suggesting that this time they should maybe go for 18 episodes…

Well, I don’t think they’ll do that, or if they do it would be a completely different show that maybe ought not to be named 24. Actually, as you’ll have guessed, I don’t think they should do it anyway: this one was way too risible for far too long for the prospect of extending the idea yet again.

So: when we left at 10.00pm last episode, the Chinese Government was steaming towards Okinawa at a rate of considerable knots, ready to start a world war with non-optional nuclear weaponry, Jack and Kate were charged with grabbing Cheng Tzi to prove he was the culprit, and Cheng had Audrey trapped in a park under the gaze of a sniper instructed to kill her if she moved. Oh, and Chloe had woken up from her helter-skelter trip down the wooded verge of the road to Southampton Dock.

Audrey’s plight was not just a pointless piece of malice but rather a lock to stop Jack tracking Cheng. Needless to say, Jack was all set to go rescue Audrey, but since he was better suited to bloody-vengeance-wreaking, Kate volunteered for that job, whilst Jack completed a record-breaking trip to Southampton, including stopping off to pick up Chloe en route. And even then, the faithful Belcheck beat him there.

Chloe’s out for redemption herself, after having been manipulated into this by the egregious and now late Adrian. She needs to make it up to Jack: she is, after all, his only friend. Jack reassures her that she has no guilt to bear, that she has to let it all go.

Whilst Kate completes a perfect secret rescue, killing the sniper, Jack and his buddy invade the Russian ship that will shortly remove Cheng from the jurisdiction, guided by Chloe who’s set up Comms to track heat patterns like some online multiplayer kill-or-be-killed game.

The Chinese fleet approaches the ‘Of course you realise, this means War!’ perimeter with President ‘Hawk’ Wei still believing that ‘Dove’ Heller has gone out of his mind and actually provoked this situation.

And a second sniper appears out of the long grass, shooting a couple of Kate’s team before driving off unscathed. Unfortunately, he has not just shot CIA agents, he’s shot Audrey. Fatally. The President’s daughter dies on a park bench, with a panicky Kate trying to apply ineffectual emergency medical treatment, and for the first time inside an episode, the digital clock ticks to an ad-break in silence, the traditional 24 rite that honours the passing of someone important.

The sensible thing to do is not bother Jack at this particular moment, but Kate, feeling incredibly guilty, has to ring him, in the middle of a gunfight on the Russian ship, to blurt out the bad news. Though Jack has been displaying throughout a zen-like calm as to the raddled destruction of his life and everything in it, this moment comes close to breaking him. Collapsing like a stringless puppet, he pulls his handgun from its holster, as if about to end things. Instead, the light of vengeance replaces it and he swings into one final, fast, brutal and comprehensive orgy of violence, killing everyone except Cheng.

Cheng tries to kung fu him, Jack simply smashes his head in against a locker and, after a few dozen satisfyingly vicious punches to the head, he gets on the phone to CIA HQ to demonstrate that Cheng is bloody but alive and have him confess his name. Luckily, that file is enough for Wei to give way (ouch), because the moment the tape is switched off, Jack snatches up the kind of samurai sword that you always find hanging up on Russian ships (oi!) and parts Cheng’s hair at the neck.

So: nuclear war averted, but Audrey dead. In the midst of rejoicing at the former, Heller’s deputy chief of staff broaches the latter, to the President’s genial disbelief, only for Heller to collapse when the news is finally taken in.

Back to the dock: Chloe’s been quiet for some time, and in fact she’s missing, after the kind of struggle that leaves behind a few bright spots of freshly laundered blood. Almost instantly, a mysterious call on Jack’s mobile has him going all stony-faced and agreeing to a meet with the unidentified caller. Is this?

We leap into daylight. At the CIA, Eric tries to reassure Kate that Audrey’s death is not her fault: nevertheless Kate hands in her ID and gun and leaves. Meanwhile, Eric releases Mark Boudreau into the custody of the Agents who will escort him back to America for his trial for treason. Audrey’s flag-draped coffin is prepared for boarding Air Force One and, in a final, and genuinely poignant conversation with Stephen Fry, Heller recollects a day before flying to England when he spent twenty minutes staring at the photo of a beautiful woman on hisdesk, wondering who she was: it was Audrey.

Before long, he will not remember this day, will not remember his daughter’s horrible death, will not remember anything. It’s something of a corny manner but, no matter the crappy material he’s been given, William DeVane is a very good actor, and he sells it right.

Last though is Jack, driving to a demolition site under armed guard, to meet a sleek, black helicopter. The mystery of Chloe’s kidnappers was moot, and it was far too short a real time for concern: it is the Russians, and it’s a simple handover, Chloe for Jack. She tells him he doesn’t have to go through with it, but Jack reminds her of what she said: Chloe is his best friend. He is on his way to Moscow. There is no remotely plausible way he’s coming back. As Belcheck spirits Chloe away, the helicopter rises. The clock ticks down to 11.00am. As with Audrey, the tick is silent.

It’s over. I really haven’t enjoyed this series, apart from taking the rough piss out of it, and I maintain that it was a stupid idea to have made it, but if it were done, then to have sealed off the ending of Jack Bauer so firmly was its truest and most real step. Jack cannot return without burdening another series with a weight of fatuity that simply cannot be shifted. So let’s thank Keifer Sutherland for the good seasons, and tactfully draw a veil across the shit ones.

That said, many have suggested, from quite early on, that 24 could be preserved by relaunching it with a new lead, and why not Kate Morgan? It’s a perfectly plausible scenario, though I have my douts as to exactly what proportion of what has to be a strongly masculine and right-wing oriented audience would really take to a female lead, especiaaly when she starts going kill-crazy in the Jack fashion. Such as sticking a knife in someone’s chest, holding him up by it and walking him backwards a a human shield whilst you shoot anything that moves. Can an audience watch an attractive and sexy blonde woman do that sort of thing with the same equanimity they do with a bloke?

But if they do bring this series back with a new lead, I’d counsel a change of name. I think 24 has become too wedded to Jack Bauer, for good or bad. Keifer Sutherland would be too big a ghost to exorcise.

Anyway, not my problem. My task is done. I hope you’ve had fun following this series.


24:Live Another Day – 9.00 – 10.00pm

Happy Ending? Nah!

Ok, I assume you’re all waiting for another snark-fest from the the only blogger on the ‘net who thinks that 24: Live Another Day is a piece of overwrought, ludicrously written crap. Well, you’re not going to get quite what you wanted from the penultimate episode, large parts of which were well-handled, tense and, dare I say it, not merely plausible but logical. Oh, but when it went below the waterfall, it scraped the bottom of the Marianas Trench, so I’ll be making a few comments about that.

To begin with, I’ll admit to not remembering Cheng Tzi at all last week. 24 fans all over the Web were having kittens of recognition at that heavily scarred face, but not me. My only excuse is that that was Season 5, which was eight years ago: in another country, and besides the wench is dead, as the wistful phrase goes (originally from Christopher Marlowe’s play The Jew of Malta): 2006/7 was very much another country for me.

Once the episode begins, everything moves at a terrific pace, one of the bonuses of a) having only 12 hours to play with and b) upsetting allprecedent by having everyone going around believing Jack Bauer all the time. Jack and Barbie Kate hold off the Russian task force and their overwhelming numbers and firepowers without anything more than a cut eyebow on Jack’s side, in the sure and certain knowledge that the very moment the pair simultaneously run out of ammo, the back-up will arrive and shoot anyone left standing. Which they do.

However, the commotion draws Cheng’s attention to the fact that Jack’s about. He’s doing a runner, taking Chloe for no apparent reason than her place in the cast list but leaving behind the tracker. But Jack discovers who is behind everything when Chloe manages to set a leftover smartphone to recording Cheng’s dulcet tones for Jack to recognise.

Everybody assumes Cheng’s working with the Russians, and, guess what? He is: with that self-same Anatoly who’s been hassling Creepy Mark about handing Jack over all day. Cheng’s purpose is to start a War between the US and the China that turned on him, a War that will leave the Russians stronger for the damage done to both sides.

This assumes that the damage will be survivable. The President of China doesn’t believe the President of the USA and the Chinese are pretty bloody fast at setting up a military response: fleet steaming towards the US base at Okinawa, squadrons in the air to cover them,missiles knocking out the US surveillance stations and blinding Heller and the Generals, who want to edge quickly to a nuclear response.

This part of the show is handled creditably and credibly, and with some tension. Heller (who we should all remember is giving orders illegally, having resigned the Presidency wef two hours ago) is resistant, is fumbling his medication – thankfully we have nowhere near enough time to whip out the 25th Amendment YET again – and reluctantly has to concur.

Meanwhile, Jack has learned that the Russkies have been tracking him through his comms. A smoking gun aimed directly at Creepy Mark’s head materialises with breathtaking speed and, with nothing delaying him except a heartfelt phone conversation with Old Flame Audrey, during which she tells him to kill Cheng-the-equal-opportunities-torturer causing Jack to bottle out of telling her he’s en route to shopping her hubby fpr treason and the electric chair, turns up at the Embassy to speak to Heller and Boudreau alone.

Creepy Mark coughs on the spot. Heller wants him charged but Jack wants him as a decoy to get them into Anatoly’s residence so they can find out where Cheng is (he and his truck are on their way to Southampton Docks where, at about 10.15pm, a ship is going to take them away, or at least that’s what the audience thinks.

It’s one of those Sacrificial Lamb ploys: no-one really gives a shit about Mark living or dying as long as his pretencc at being on the run and wanting to defect gets Jack and Kate and their silenced guns inside. It’s all bang bang, shoot shoot until every guard is dead. Unfortunately, Mark doesn’t quite understand that he’s supposed to take the loaded gun and do the decent thing, and he fights Anatoly to stay alive, until the two crash through the glass doors onto the landing and Anatoly gets a jagged sliver of glass through the carotid artery.

As I say, it’s fast-paced, decently gripping and, if the series hadn’t ruined any chance of taking it seriously a hundred times over before now, it would be mostly a good, exciting penultimate episode. But it’s 24: Live Another Day and it cannot resist fucking the whole thing over with a bit of arrant lunacy.

As I said, Cheng Tzi, his men, the override device and Chloe O’Brian are in the back of a truck heading down a country road towards Southampton Dock. Now the thing about Southampton Docks is that it’s in Southampton, on the South Coast, in the County of Hampshire, which is just short of 70 miles and involves a drive time of 1 hour and 32 minutes in average condition, and this truck’s supposed to get there within an hour? But it’s bowling along the highway merrily when, all of a sudden Chloe – a computer analyst – grabs a shiny steel pipe that happens to be within reach and lays about her with such force and dexterity that that she downs no less than four armed professional kilers and confuses the rest into letting her open the back door of the truck, set herself and jump into the bushes before any of them can recover sufficiently to just fucking shoot her.

And out of sheer luck, she happens to jump off a embankment and go rolling downhill into the bushes until she knocks herself out on a tree (with no scratches, cuts or bruises) after falling far enough to be out of sight so far as Cheng and his minions are concerned, and they can’t stay to find her because this is apparently a no-parking country highway and there’s a handy truck driven by some bod in army camouflage slowing down to tell them you can’t park here (has there been a military takeover? Where’s the bloody Police in all this?).

So Chloe is left to sleep the sleep of the conveniently knocked out until the very end of the episode where her eyes open and she no doubt wakes up without the least concussion. And Cheng races on to his escape from England.

Except that he doesn’t. Audrey, having hung around being supportive to her Dad all day, has decided to get in on the action. She has a contact in the Chinese Embassy, a young woman who trusts her, and whose Dad is in the Politburo. Audrey’s going to pass on as much information as she can gather to prove that her country is a patsy for terrorists in all this in the hope that President Wei will be persuaded to row back on Mutually Assured Destruction. They meet after dark in the Park, or at least in a London square somewhere.

Except, this being 9.59pm, a hidden sniper takes out the young Chinese extra and Audrey’s guards, leaving a transfixed President’s daughter stood there all alone, presumably in the cross-hairs. Her phone rings. It’s Cheng: well, who else could it possibly have been? I mean, he’s in London instead of being on the Southampton road, he’s discovered Audrey’s secret mission and set up an ambush with not the slightest of clue as to how he could have done so – magic? – and he’s menacing Jack’s bird, alright?

So, no cliches going into the final muss-’em-up hour then, and no set-up, logic or even a semblance of rationality to sustain us in getting here. Even the good episodes cannot resist diving headlong into lunacy a five year old would reject as stupid.

One left, people. Twelve years ago, when the first series was running, my then-wife and I were so absorbed that, when we worked out that the final episode would fall on the Sunday night as we flew to Mallorca for a week’s holiday on the Saturday, we not only set up our video recorder and left tapes with two different people to ensure it was recorded, on arriving in the Balearics we asked my wife’s Mum and Step-Dad if they could pick up BBC2. They couldn’t, but friends of theirs in the southeast of the island could. The tape was available on Tuesday so we drove to their apartment and threw everybody – the parents too – out into the kitchen so we could watch the last episode without interruption.

That was how good it was then. This time I’m not holding my breath.

24: Live Another Day – 8.00 – 9.00pm


Looking around, it’s becoming increasingly clear that I am out of step with the entire Internet, which seems to be in consensus that 24: Live Another Day is an absolute corker of a programme,rip-roaring, exciting, engaging and pretty much the best 24 since the very early seasons. True, they keep stumbling ever so slightly over some of the series’ most bull-goose lunatic notions, but things which no-one could ever sanely contemplate as being plausible are being dismissed as, well, ‘just being 24.’

Episode 10 will no doubt go down as pure heroin to the fans, even as it left deeply unimpressed little me rubbing my eyes most of the time at its tortuous logic, when there was any semblance of logic, which was not often.

So we start with a continuation of the Bauer-Navarro getaway Olympics, complete with optional cellphone conversations. Navarro’s is with Monotone Adrian, directing him to Liverpool Street Station where he can pick up an envelope and drop off the override device. Cannily, Special Ops Veteran Navarro asks if he can trust Monotone Adrian, and then, the moment he shoves his manbag through a hole in the wall, the conversation ends: betrayed.

(Mustn’t forget the truly magical moment where Navarro happens to see a British solidier, fully-armed, on the streets of London, so unaware of his surroundings that he lets Navarro cold-cock him from behind and seize his rapid-fire shooty rifle, which proves to have only about sixteen rounds left in it, as you might expect. Fuck me, what a stupid bit of writing that was.)

Meanwhile, Jack has been spreading the word about Navarro’s perfidy and organising Tag Teams (is that what they’re really called? Surely they must have more practical names.) to arrive at the precise second Navarro is shat on and caught up with by Jack. All may not be lost sinceJack recognises a very familiar manbag heading down to the Tube on someone’s shoulder but (and you won’t see this coming) Monotone Adrian and Gothic Chloe get on the Tube and the door closes before Jack hits the platform.

And even Jack Bauer can’t outrun a London Tube train, nor rip its doors open, though you should probably have seen the first draft…

Meanwhile, Adrian has let Chloe in on the fact that he’s taking his override deviceback, though it is of course for purely altruistic reasons, since he’s going to give every Government in the World the unfettered ability to rummage through everybody else’s weapons dossier and set them off any time they choose, and that will mean World Peace Forever, because no-one will actually do anything like that.

Yeah, right.

The crazy thing about that s that it takes Chloe half the episode to turn round and point out quite how demented an idea that is, but her truly feeble attempt to steal the override device back again has her ever-attentive lover leading her off to the new, secret hacker base at gunpoint. Secret? Hah!

But let’s come back to that one after a trip to CIA HQ, where Navarro needs interrogating. Hapless Eric, as Senior Agent, takes over temporary Chief-ship, putting on appropriate gravitas exactly as if the writers had forgotten that he was supposed to be a frustrated hot-head, envious and spiteful of Barbie Doll Kate (oh, wait…). Meanwhile, Barbie Kate asks Slightly Scottish Analyst Glenn to check the departedJordan’s systems for any indication of why her bessy mate Steve had Jordan killed. Despite Glenn being decidedly inferior to Jordan, he comes back with the conclusive proof that Navarro framed her late husband Adam faster than it takes to pick a shopping list off a kitchen table.

Thos leads into a very silly sequence where Jack tells Eric he’s going to interview Navarro and he’s going to do it his way. Eric approves this on the strict understanding Jack can’t actually physically torture Navarro (was he even listening when Jack was talking about his way?) Navarro, pretty smugly for a man on the fast track to the electric chair, demands Full Immunity: after all, he’s slipped a tracker into the device. So Jack smashes his left hand to buggery with the butt of his gun in the most pointless and fatuous of reactions there’s ever been, and gets hauled out.

Meanwhile, it’s all going quiet at the Embassy. President Heller (see, I told you they’d forget he’d resigned at 7.00pm) has has Airforce One wheeled up to the door and, his mission over the drone bases an abject failure, is going to go home and give THAT  speech, i.e., the one about his Alzheimers, and then resign all over again in favour of the Veep. That’s until the latest plot twist gets flagged up so goodbye to all that. There’s a very carefully flagged up bit of foreshadowing about a Chinese Aircraft Carrier steaming about somewhere (was it really in the Med or did I just refuse to pay attention?) and everybody’s planning to give Navarro his Immunity.

That’s when Audrey takes Creepy Mark off into a room to offer him an olive branch, an apology for her snottiness to him over Heller’s Sacrifice. It’s honestly and sincerely meant but, instead of accepting it with relief, Creepy Mark – worried about how they’re going to bring the Russians back into the story – goes all-fired self-righteous on his wife, virtually accusing her of having her knickers on standby for when Jack comes round. This gives him a lovely, justified feeling over selling Jack out to the Russians by giving them his encrypted phone number and telling them to go out there and take him, with Mark’s blessings, PS, don’t tell anyone I told you to.

Even a piece of dreck like this is capable of impressive moments, and we get the first of these back at the CIA, as a wrathful Kate bursts into the surgery, holds everybody at gunpoint (a familiar experience, one gathers, as she’s done that once ready today) and threatens to blow Navarro’s brains out for framing her husband, and fuck the override device. With Jack’s gun virtually on Kate’s forehead, screaming at her to stand down, Navarro gives up the tracker code, only to realise he’s been well and truly scammed by the terrible two: see that Immunity? Out the wiondow, pal, and Kate promises to be there when they throw that switch.

So, Adrian’s secret base can now be tracked down, by Jack and Kate in a car and three Tag Teams in vans. The other impressive moment in this episode comes in the car, as a quiet Kate (a superb performance by Yvonne Strahovski here) admits to Jack that she believes herself to be the one who killed Adam: he’d gone to jail, they were working on his appeal, until that last visit, when she had stopped believing him. Her lack of faith caused his suicide. How can she now live with that? There are no fancy words or soft soap from Jack. Not unkindly, he tells her the only thing he can: You do.

At the Embassy, Creepy Mark’s panicking, trying to get the Russians to hold off seizing Jack in the middle of a World-Threatening Emergency but it’s too late. Enter one massive truck to smash into their car and disgorge gunfiring Russians.

And, if that weren’t enough, since 24 probably can’t even spell the word enough, let alone recognise the concept, there’s the Chinese.

What? Where the hell do they come in? Well, remember when I laughed at the idea of Adrian’s secret base? He and Chloe arrive to find the whole hacker crew slaughtered, by the Chinese. You see, Monotone Adrian was either not as altruistic or as clever as he thought he was. He’d been paid by the Chinese to develop the override, and they didn’t take kindly to the thought of it going out free to everybody else. Result, utter slaughter, including Adrian, though not before he has chance to tell Chloe that she shouldn’t be guilty over the deaths of Morris and their son, it really was just an accident. Still, lying got her to work for him, so where’s the harm?

But, and get this, the Chloe knows the guy leading the Chinese! He’s only the guy who tortured Jack between seasons 5 and 6, and for good measure, Audrey too. He’s supposed to be out of favour, in a Chinese prison, but here he is, taking his override back, despite Chloe’s attempts to sabotage it. (In a display of acute consistency of character, he shoots Adrian dead but leaves Chloe alive).

It’s getting near the end of the episode, and of the series (and I don’t believe we’re going to get this twelve hour jump at all, not between episodes, certainly. Maybe from 10.30pm to 10.30am). Mr Evil Chinese sends an order to an American Nuclear Submarine to sink a certain Chinese Aircraft Carrier (you remember it being mentioned?) and as slick as shit through a goose, and without questioning their orders, they do so.

I rather imagine that the Chinese Government will take against that, more than somewhat, but fear not. There are only two hours left and Jack will have saved the world long before that.

Sheesh. You lot seriously think this isn’t risible bullshit?



24: Live Another Day – 7.00 – 8.00pm

A spoiler?


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.


24: Live Another Day – 3.00 – 4.00pm

So, where were we?

Episode 5 is a bit of a breather for Jack, who gets to do no more than sit in a room at the American Embassy, under token guard, interrupted only by private interviews with, firstly, President Heller, and secondly, First Daughter, Chief of Staff Creepy Mark’s missus, ex-lover and torture victim (this girl’s been around), Audrey Heller Raines Boudreau. Considering that she’s not seen him for three full seasons and the interregnum, and that she was last seen virtually catatonic after extensive Chinese torture incurred through looking for Jack, Audrey gives a more-than-creditable impersonation of someone who’s not even going to wait to be asked to drop them, whilst Jack plays the noble, masculine, save-her-from-herself role.

Actually, both actors play the scene with considerably more skill than it deserves, which almost redeems it whilst in play, but it’s still risible, much like the rest of the cartoon events.

The Jack role for this hour is taaken up by Barbie Doll Kate. Kiefer Sutherland’s apparently said this will be his last outing as Jack (so will we end the series with The Main Man being killed off?) but that Fox are planning some kind of spin-off. Everybody is pointing at Yvonne Strahovski’s character as the blatantly obvious choice, whilst simultaneously suggesting that she’s so damned obvious for the part that she’s going to be this half-season’s Justly Famous CST Mole: come on down, Kate!

This is the episode where Jack is proved to be right. Kate nicks the Flight Key (and as it’s known to be lost, and was last seen in a locked room that she invaded with total lack of authorisation, no-one so much as thinks of asking her of she’s got it: duh!), uploads the rest of it to Chloe. Creepy Adrian – who mumbles the unconvincing words ‘I love you’ to Gothic Chloe in a manner that suggests that even he can’t believe tis latest plot twist – spots the over-ride code, and Kate immediately convinces everyone.

Which is the most unbelievable moment 24 has ever tried to pull off.

Meanwhile, what’s going on at Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central with Mama Terrorist and her little band of tools? I could accept Margot Al-Hasari, who’s being played with fanatical steeliness and self-righteousness by Michelle Fairley, if anyone involved with writing this series could put over any suggestion of her beliefs. It’s a serious failing: Mama Terrorist is a terrorist because she’s a terrorist and does terrorist things, but what the fuck is she doing them for? We may not agree with terrorists but they are usually fighting for some cause. Mama Margot isn’t even being shown as having an unreasoning, irrational hatred of America and all it stands for.

True, she’s out for revenge for Daddy Terrorist getting killed by a drone attack, but it wasn’t that that turned her into a terrorist, so what is she about? She’s about being evil, heartless and fanatic, that’s what she’s about. It’s a fucking cartoon, that’s what it is.

After making sure that Baby Terrorist Simone, she of the four fingers on her left hand after Mama’s impromptu surgery, knows that she’s not to blame for getting her finger chopped off with a cold chisel, Mama makes sure that fearful husband Naveed knows that he is the one to blame for his wife’s disfigurement. Naveed hasn’t given up hope yet: he’s dropped a tracer that will lead the CIA to Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central. Unfortunately, he confides in his loving wife, and his loving wife confides in Mama. So, as was predictable from the moment we saw him in episode 3, Naveed ends episode 5 with a bullet in his head, with Simone’s blessing: ooch, that smarts.

And, get this, Mama Margot just so happens to have a second Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central tucked away under her pinny. Despite the fact that Naveed doesn’t confide in Simone until after the tracer has gone out, Simone’s betrayal has enable Margot and son Ian to change the tracer to misdirect the CIA hit squad to the deserted Spare Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central, where fast learner Ian directs a drone strike that’s probably wiped out CIA Station Head Steve Navarro (thus explaining why Benjamin Bratt has only been on the Guest List, and not Cast, so far).

Incidentally, I’ll leave to others to explain how, having left Central London at about 3.37pm, the CIA squad can deploy at Spare Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central – a large and isolated country mansion – by 3.55pm.

So: that’s one drone used to strike at the UK, leaving five more under Margot’s control. Heller has refused to allow Jack to go into the field to pursue the only contact, an arms dealer who can contact Mama Margot, but next episode he’s going to be forced to do so, with Bauer-manque Kate as his partner, even though she got re-suspended in this episode. Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, oops, wrong show, to find out if I’m right. Or don’t bother, because you know I’m going to be.

24: Live Another Day – 2.00 – 3.00 pm

Baby Terrorist – quite the best thing about this show

It’s two o’clock. Jack Bauer has just shot two English protesters in the leg to create a disturbance that enables him to break into the American Embassy in London,so that he can locate the framed Lt. Tanner, snatch his Flight Key and upload the information that will prove to President Heller, and all and sundry that Mama Terrorist Margot intends to take over ten American drones and use them to attack London, sometime today (i.e., between 10.00 – 11.00pm,otherwise known as ‘thank God that’s the last episode’).

Meanwhile, Gothic Chloe mutters and mumbles behind a computer screen giving him directions, the eternal puppet caught between a love for Action Man that she cannot discuss even with herself, and the drily unexpressed feelings of her hacker-chief Adrian, a man who, over three episodes, has yet to allow a trace of emotion to creep into his diction. Zees Englis’, pah!

Meanwhile, President Heller finishes his speech to a ravening crowd of uncontrollable madmen and women (i.e., the House of Commons), who have unaccountably stopped ripping his every utterance to public shreds before he even makes it. Now is the time to reveal to Heller, and Fragile, Strained But Still Beautiful daughter Kim that Jack Bauer is in town. Heller doesn’t believe Jack’s story, Creepy and Disloyal Chief of Staff Mark has an agenda not to believe it, but Kim, who has suffered unspeakable tortures because of the damage Jack Causes In His Wake, is immediately on his side.

Meanwhile, Conscience Stricken Navid plans to run away from Mama Terrorist Margot rather than pilot the drones, taking with him Baby Terrorist Simone, his loving, pale of face and vaguely pre-raphaelite redheaded wife, but Baby Terrorist is too loyal to Mummy’s revolutionary creed (herein revealed as being “There are no innocents!”), and shops him. Nobly, Navid resists pressure to do his bit so Mama Margot, recognising that Navid is simultaneously too much of a coward to go through with killing tens of thousands of people and heroically brave enough to resist all torture upon himself, has a henchman chop off the little finger of Baby’s left hand (“Mummy loves you,” she reassures as hammer, cold chisel and fingerjoint meet, though noticeabl;y she doesn’t kiss the boo boo better), whereupon he gives in, and so would I (whilst steeling myself, at the crucial moment, to cock the whole thing up, anticipating that my loving and nine-fingered wife may have second thoughts about dobbing me in).

Apparently, Geeky Boy Terrorist has no opinion on the sudden maiming of his little sister.

And then there’s Barbie Doll Agent Morgan, steadfastedly chasing Bauer through the building, in a slim, well-fit blonde way. Aside from the obligatory, once an episode that this tactically genius analyst missed the fact her husband had been spying for the Soviets.. I mean Russians, for like, literally, forever, Kate the genius continues to show her speed of thought and perception (i.e., she believes Bauer). Single-handedly, she breaks the seige, retrieves the Flight Key (in order to herself upload it to the hackers) and takes Jack back into CIA custody, fending off a squad of marines intent on gunning Bauer down like a dog because he deliberately shot two of their number where they were most highly protected.

Now it’s three o’clock.

The only unequivocally good thing about this episode is that Stephen Fry was restricted to a single, silent, camera-pass.

This is going on till 11.00pm, but it really ought to be grounded. Very early.

24 Live Another Day: 1.00 – 2.00pm

She looks better than this in other series, folks

More of the same, only different. That was what I was thinking throughout most of episode 3, and it was true for both the episode itself, and for my reactions to it. It’s still the same high action, blitz them with it so they won’t have time to think, mavericks still playing their ends-justify-the-means bullshit, terrorists out to destroy without ever really defining why, or what might follow, and the weak one who will be killed not less than three episodesfrom the end, and probably sooner. Oh, and the President’s Chief of Staff is conspiring behind his back, yet again.

And I’m still just as unconvinced, uncomitted and ungripped with it as I was with the first two episodes, and all for the same reason. The London setting’s a gimmick since the show is just going to trample on everything pertaining to its location to enable it to perform exactly as it did for eight series back home,anddon’t believe the bit about worrying about British sensitivities because it’s as phoney as a wooden nickel.

There’s a typical lurch into melodrama as Chloe gets distracted at exactly the right moment to let the girl assassin get away. You see, what neither Jack nor any of the rest of us knows, since it hasn’t had any decent foreshadowing, is that Morris and Prescott (Chloe’s husband and son) are dead, run over by a truck, only Chloe was the target: cue tears and a gruff, manly hug from Jack, who even lets his eyesget wet at the thought of her loss. But then again, Jack’s a specialist when it comes to loss, isn’t he?

Then there’s the girl assassin, Simone (played in a very short mini-skirt with patterned tights and great legs by Emily Barrington). Simone’s resourceful and committed, but then why shouldn’t she be, being a second generation terrorist, raised by notorious husband and wife terrorists to plot, kill, and sleep with no-marks in order to get stuff off them: if it was good enough for Mummy, it’s good enough for not-so-little Simone, though it’s a point that Simone’s husband Navid is currently struggling to accept. Though, as Navid has Doubts, and Mummy-Terrorist is watching by surveillance cameras the lovely Simone tries to shag some conviction back into him, I think we can safely say young Navid isn’t going to see episode 12. Will Simone approve in view of the cause,  or will she be distraught at Mummy Darling chopping off her beloved’s bollocks?

Even in series 8, that’s something I would have cared about but no, not this time. 24 may only be 12 this time out, but I am already hanging in there hoping for the end.

But as the episode got into it’s last act, all pretenc to anything resembling reality, even in 24‘s terms, just toppled over and went down the pan. Sneaky Chief of Staff and son-in-law Mark has been warning President Heller that an address to Parliament is not wise because the MPs will howl him down in much the same manner as the demonstraters outside the American Embassy, and I’ve been regarding that idea with no little dubiety but, guess what, when everyone turns up to listen to Heller in a room that’s almost exactly unlike Parliament, they don’t even let him get past Hello before they’re shouting and slandering him.

Now I’m not overfond of our MPs and this Parliament, but this is ludicrously unrealistic, as is the whole idea of the President of America addressing Parliament against the wishes of the Prime Minister, and I can’t take this series seriously any more.

I’m going to try to keep watching it, on a Mastermind basis, though I can foresee these blogs getting less respectful by the week. This is already a disaster, but will it improve. Will it get worse? Can it get worse? Oh, that one you better believe.