24 – Seventh Season DVDs 1-3 – A Fine Swiss Watch, Finally Running Down

Country: United States
Genre: Action
Director: Various
Year: 2008

Rating: ★★★☆☆


I suppose it was inevitable. 24 was one of the shows that changed the rules of television. The production values were close to that of a theatrical movie. Instead of doling out plot points like Ebeneezer Scrooge, for the first six seasons of 24, the producers recklessly piled on reversals and jeopardy as if the world was going to end tomorrow. For the first six seasons, 24 was compulsively watchable.

24 is still watchable, mostly due to residual professionalism, but it’s no longer electrifying.

This time around, those dastardly Sangalans are trying to interfere with President Taylor’s (Cherry Jones) plans to stop the genocide in that country by threatening the infrastructure of the United States.

That’s a good place to start, as far as plot goes, but the show’s creators have failed us this time out. The dramatic reversals are too few and not startling enough. The traitors are too easy to figure out. The villains aren’t as clever as they have been in the past. Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t have enough “Jack” moments, where he comes up with a new way to outrage us. There isn’t enough jeopardy. Logical mistakes are made. Events happen for the convenience of our heroes. For the first time, 24 is starting to feel like television. Even the music cues are starting to feel routine.

The one thing that continues to be great about 24 is the acting. Cherry Jones, a noted stage actress, is terrific as the President. She’s forthright, brave, vulnerable, principled, and full of outrage when appropriate. Ethan Kanin, the President’s chief of staff, is a rich and subtle creation, mostly due to the masterful work of the excellent character actor, Bob Gunton. Other wonderful character actors on tap include: John Billingsly, Colm Feore, Kurtwood Smith, Tony Todd, and most of all, Jon Voight. But here again, the series’ creators have failed. Most of these great actors aren’t given enough to do — their characters, as written, lack juice. For example, Tony Todd is dead on perfect as a Sangalan general, but he wasn’t given enough memorable lines or moments. Kurtwood Smith and the rest of them are similarly abused, with the exception of Jon Voight. The writers give Voight some piquant lines, and Voight makes the best of them. Voight has a wonderful conception of the character, Jonas Hodges, as a man who derives enjoyment from the gamemanship aspects of the situation he’s in, even when he’s at a disadvantage. That’s fun, and the sort of rich character writing I’ve come to expect from 24.

And then there’s the enciting incident, which is no secret to anyone who’s seen the previews of season 7. Tony Almeida’s (Carlos Bernard) resurrection is just the sort of cheesy ploy I’d expect from a lesser television series. Yes, the writers justify it as well as they can, but it still kind of sucks.

The bottom line is, you won’t be bored exactly with the first half of season 7, but chances are you won’t feel compelled to watch 3 or 4 dvds in a row, either.

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One thought on “24 – Seventh Season DVDs 1-3 – A Fine Swiss Watch, Finally Running Down

  1. caroms2051

    Liked your synopsis of Season 7. I started watching ’24’ only because I am a Cherry Jones fan (via the movie “Signs” and appearances on the LOGO channel, because I haven’t seen her on stage.)

    I started to take ’24’ more seriously as ‘must watch’ TV when the show was mentioned on televised U.S.Senate hearings — Sen Jay Rockefeller and Dennis Blair, National Intelligence Director, got into a discussion that the show was hurting America’s image overseas and that it seemed to give a ‘green light’ to bad conduct (torture).

    Overall, Season 7 was fun to watch with Cherry Jones, who was terrific as President Taylor (and for which she bagged an Emmy Award), and for other great characters: some superb villains (Rhys Coiro, Jon Voight), and of course super-agent Annie Wersching/’Agent Walker’).

    I do part company with you, however, regarding Bob Gunton’s role as “Ethan Kanin,” the president’s Chief of Staff. Ethan Kanin oozed duplicity.

    He left us certain that he MUST be the one of the conspirators in the ‘Siege of the White House’ and other episodes. (Who else could have leaked the code to the White House Safe Room — unless President Taylor did so herself –ha ha. That would be a good story line.)

    Anyway — Bob Gunton will be back for a few episodes in Season 8 as “The Secretary of State.”

    We can only hope VILLAINY awaits!


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