Tuesday, 27 January 2009

24, 7.5 - "12:00PM - 1:00PM"

Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Spoilers. Just as we're up-and-running, 24 touches the brakes slightly. There are enough moments of tension (with clever touches) to keep you watching this hour, but a few waves of tedium seep into the narrative...

A recurring theme of Day 7 is a willingness to debate the ethics of torture, with characters arguing the pro's and con's. The issue of torture to extract intel from suspects is the stick being used to beat Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) in the Senate, but also the only way straight-laced Agent Walker (Annie Wersching) could loosen a hospitalized terrorist's tongue.

24 used to be full of people turning blind eyes to violent interrogations for "the greater good" -- but, as a reaction to media criticism, the writers have decided to proffer a debate on this hot potato. All while continuing to demonstrate how necessary torture is in 24's universe... or, more accurately, how helpful torture is for a TV series that needs five inciting "act-outs" per episode.

Agent Moss' (Jeffrey Nordling) is being harassed by an inopportune government investigation into claims Renee tortured a suspect by cutting off his ventilator's air supply. Moss commendably(?) blocks their attempt to interview Janis (Janeane Garofalo), who was present with Renee at the hospital and complicit in the deed by providing a diversion. Elsewhere, field agent Renee continues her slow transmute into "Jane Bauer", as she goes rogue to capture Jack (whom she doesn't know is working undercover) and stop him from helping terrorists kidnap Sangalese President Matobo (Isaach De Bankole).

Currently, Matobo and his wife Alama (Tonya Pinkins) are trapped in their panic room -- shielded from Emerson (Peter Wingfield), Jack and Tony (Carlos Bernard) outside, but unable to raise the alarm. With the FBI alerted through other means, Jack only has fifteen minutes to flush the Matobo's out -- by contaminating their air supply with ammonium dysterate. The wider plan being to get an audience with terrorist mastermind Colonel Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), who's working for the warlord trying to takeover Matobo's country, General Juma.

Henry Taylor's (Colm Feore) storyline develops significantly, but not unexpectedly. The First Gentleman's bodyguard Agent Gedge (Warren Kole) shows his true colours, by spiking Henry's drink with a paralyzing drug and admitting he killed the Taylor's meddling son, Roger -- who had uncovered evidence of a government conspiracy into providing Juma with US weapons. While the scene was gripping and well-acted, the reveal wasn't unexpected, and begets a fresh storyline that arouses little interest -- another grim-faced agent targeting Roger's grieving fiancé Samantha (Carly Pope) at an outdoor café.

In the FBI, background blonde Erika (Ever Carradine) takes on greater significance, as we learn she's having an office romance with Sean (Rhys Coiro), whose wife's plane has now landed safely thanks to his manipulation of landing protocol. It's also alluded that Moss fancies Renee; the cad. As time ticks on, the Field Office is becoming CTU in all but name, really -- and does Erika's promotion to a speaking part make her the prime suspect as the FBI's mole now?

As for President Taylor (Cherry Jones); well, she's still stuck delivering matronly speeches to her Chief Of Staff (Bob Gunton), and it's growing old very fast. I had high hopes for this new Commander-In-Chief, but she's severely lacking in much charisma. David Palmer and Charles Logan were both excellent opposites, and it's not clear what Taylor really brings to the role, beyond a change of gender. And the ghost of the excellent Mike Novak (so good, they brought him back over successive administration as CoS) looms large over the dull, grandfatherly Ethan. Right now, the White House is looking noticeably pale.

The climax engineers one of those shocks we've mostly become immune to after 148 hours. Jack's ordered by Emerson to kill Renee shortly after she's taken hostage and proves useless -- something he achieves by shooting her in the neck from a clever angle, resulting in a flesh wound. As she's rolled into a ditch, covered in a plastic sheet, with shovels of soil dumped over her, Renee's inexplicably given the "silent clock" outro that usually signifies the death or a major character -- which Renee isn't, so it cheapens that tradition. And would they be stupid enough to kill their best new character in hour 5?

Overall, the smoking-out of the Matobo's was fun, the paralyzed First Gentlemen likewise, and the final stinger ensures you'll be tuning in next week... but everything else was a bit undercooked, and the new elements didn't really fire the imagination. A fifth hour adjustment, really.

26 January 2009
Sky1, 9pm

: Howard Gordon & Evan Katz
Director: Jon Cassar

Cast: Kiefer Sutherland (Jack), Carlos Bernard (Tony), Cherry Jones (President Taylor), Annie Wersching (Renee), Colm Feore (Henry), Bob Gunton (Ethan), Jeffrey Nordling (Moss), Rhys Coiro (Sean), Janeane Garofalo (Janis), Peter Onorati (Agent Remick), Marina Black (Christina Hillinger), Peter Wingfield (Emerson), Tonya Pinkins (Alama Matobo), Warren Kole (Agent Brian Gedge), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Dubaku), Carly Pope (Samantha), Isaach De Bankole (President Ule Matobo), Mark Derwin (Joe Stevens), Ever Carradine (Erika), Steve Cell (Litvack), Dominic Hoffman (Raymond Howell), Mark Kiely (Edward Vossley), Adetokumboh M'Cormack (Zeze Eto'o) & Mark Aiken (Nichols)