Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Good & Bad: '24: Live Another Day' (5/5/14)

"24: Live Another Day"
Episode 1&2

Plot: It’s been four long years since whatever happened at the end of the last season of “24” happened. I wish I could be more specific, but let’s all be honest, there’s really only so much “24” a man can take. Eventually the wild bi-polar swings in quality from season to season could wear anyone out.
                Good news is, apparently the last season ended like most seasons of “24” did: With counter-terrorist agent extraordinaire Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) wanted by someone for a crime he may or may not have committed, but if he did commit it, you can bet your lollypop it was because he had to, mister.
                So the mini-season movie-thing that is “Live Another Day” begins with Jack in hiding from the Americans this time.  
                Then just like that, in the midst of rumblings about an upcoming attempt on the president’s (William Devane) life, Jack gets himself captured.  This all seems too easy to CIA Agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), but everyone else thinks she’s nuts because apparently no one else in the CIA is familiar with pop culture. Whenever the impossible to track down person is suddenly extremely easy to track down, there’s a reason for it. And it’s not because you all suddenly got really good at your jobs.
                But no, it’s just easier to call her a loon because her husband was a traitor who sold state secrets and then killed himself and now she’s moving on to another job.
                Naturally Jack immediately escapes custody, busts out his old partner in crime Chloe (Marty Lynn Rajskub) – his plan all along - and then uses Chloe to track down some techie terrorist group she’s been working for.
                Apparently one of their ex-members is plotting something about using drones to kill the president – there that is again – and Jack wants to stop it because he feels he owes the president – and his old flame  the president’s daughter, Audrey, (Kim Raver) one.
                But then that techie terrorist is betrayed by his girlfriend who then promises to deliver all of his research on killing sitting American presidents with drones to the mom from “Game of Thrones.”
                Also because it’s “24” and even a short season of “24” needs ample personal problems: there’s the brash young CIA Agent who can’t wait for Morgan to be out of the picture so he can take her job, there’s the White House Chief of Staff who also happens to be married to the president’s daughter (conflict!) and the president is beginning to show the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
                All of that and there are still 10 more episodes to go.

Good: Jack & Chloe. There’s a scene in one of these two episodes where Chloe resumes her role as the voice in Jack’s ear, guiding him through dangerous situations and keeping him updated on the goings on of the rest of the world. It just feels so right to have Jack gunning people down all set to a steady hum of Chloe facts.

Bad: The inner workings of the CIA. Do not care that Yvonne Strahovski’s husband killed himself. Don’t care that Benjamin Bratt is her boss or that some dude wants to take her job before she’s ready to leave it behind. There’s a threat on the president’s life and we’ve got twelve episodes to figure it out, let’s leave the office politics for the deleted scenes.

Bad: Yvonne Strahovski. Too many bad “Dexter” memories tied up in this one. Poor choice of stunt casting Fox. Yes, she was nerd-bait after “Chuck,” but no more. Now she’ll forever be the estranged wife of a (spoiler alert) serial killer turned lumber jack. Pass.

Good: Heller’s Alzheimer’s. Even though it’s basically just a higher-stakes version of Jack’s wife’s amnesia from season one, this is interesting. It plays into that whole FDR-era idea of trying to hide something about the president from the public eye. And considering we like to keep putting old dudes in power, it’s not that far-fetched.

Good/Bad: Jack wanted to get caught! I guess we had to do this since it’s basically been cemented into the pop culture landscape lately, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan. But still, been there.

Bad: What does Jack have to do to make you people listen to him? I mean, it’s been eight years of Jack being right about everything and some pencil pusher in a desk chair saying “Well, I don’t know…” Seriously, when the fate of the country or the president or your fantasy baseball team is on the line, just assume that whatever Jack is doing is absolutely for the best and stop trying to shoot him or capture him.

Bad: Audrey and the Chief of Staff. I don’t even want to know what emotional, unrelated to the president potentially being blown up, horrors this pairing has in store for us.

Good: Michael Wincott as the leader of the techie terrorist group. There’s no such thing as a bad time to cast Michael Wincott.

Good: Drone stuff. The politics of drone warfare is fertile ground for the action genre. Hell, it even made the “Robocop” remake almost  successful. In the hands of potentially more competent writers? It could be gold.  Gold, Jerry!

Good: Maybe great. Catelyn Stark as the mastermind behind the end the world? This sparks literally every feeling I felt about her while she was still on “Game of Thrones.” Top notch villain casting.

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