24 – Eighth Season DVDs 1-3 – Business As Usual

Country: United States
Genre: Action
Director: Various
Year: 2010

Rating: ★★★½☆


Considering how utterly routine the 8th season of 24 is, it still manages to be fairly entertaining. I put that down to residual professionalism.

Yes, there’s a WB network aspect to the performances by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Katee Sackhoff, but we’ve still got expert turns from great actors like Cherry Jones, Jurgen Prochnow, and Bob Gunton. The editing, cinematography and music cues continue to be of a very high standard.

On the other hand, it hardly seems like the creators of the show are even trying. The stakes are relatively low this season (internal forces are attempting to scuttle an attempt at a Middle East peace settlement between President Taylor (Cherry Jones) and President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), there are few reversals of fortune, and little in the way of signature Jack Bauer moments. You know, that’s when Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) finds new and creative ways to violate international law and morality. No gasps of astonishment this season.

And yet, I find myself enjoying 24’s swan song. Maybe it’s premature nostalgia setting in. Oh, sure, I know it’s time for 24 to go. Never has the show been more irrelevant.

There’s a reason for that, of course. In it’s best years, events were cooperating with 24. It could afford to be topical because what was going on the country lent itself well to paranoid neocon fantasies. The Obama presidency isn’t suited to the narrative. All the current bad guys, like the financial sector, the oil business, and the health insurance industry, are conservative pinup queens. Any topical story, by it’s very nature, would pretty much have to be progressive in nature.

In fact, you’ve got to laugh at the attempts to gin up that ole’ conservative mindset. You know — if someone was once a criminal, they’ll turn out to be bad through and through. That kind of thing. At one point, President Taylor asks someone to “Stay the course,” a transparent attempt to identify Taylor’s strength and principled character with George W, who the creators of the show clearly miss. Ah, the bad old days.

In fact, that’s part of the entertainment value of 24 this season. It’s like the last gasp of the neo-con machine. I view it affectionately, like the senile mutterings of a dotty great aunt, filtered through the best filmmaking technicians television has to offer.

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