In my review of season two of 24 I panned the ridiculous plotline involving Jack Bauer’s daughter, Kim, played by Elisha Cuthbert. Given that mindset, I was in little mood for more absurd television as season three began.
Yet that was exactly how the first five episodes of season three seemed. The prison breakout by Bauer of Ramon Salazar (played by the estimable actor Joaquim de Almeida) was the last straw, and I stopped watching.
I wasn’t planning to review it this year for Blogcritics, let alone watch season four. But fate intervened. My brother wanted suggestions for what to get me for Christmas, and I was having a difficult time coming up with ideas. So, on a lark, I suggested the third season of 24, and he got it for me. I trudged through episode five, and I’m quite glad I did. For after that, the show improves considerably. Although Jack’s race to stop the release of a killer virus does not move seamlessly, the writers have constructed it well enough that, watching the DVD set, I really wanted to see the next episode each time the current one ended. By the time I finished, I was sorry that I’d stopped watching it on TV after episode five and have resolved to not miss an episode of season four (a decision I hope I will not come to regret.)
Season three suggests that the producers were more obsessed with cutting payroll than the now defunct Montreal Expos were during spring training. Some of the cuts were good ones. Gone are Sarah Clarke, who played rouge agent Nina Meyers, and Penny Johnson Jerald, who played Sherry, President David Palmer’s scheming ex-wife. (Both characters exited via being on the wrong end of a gun.) Both are good actresses but the plotlines involving them were getting tedious. Was Nina Meyers going to be involved with every bad guy threatening America? And it was getting increasingly hard to believe that President Palmer would continue associating with his wife—after what she did in season two, it is a big, big stretch that he goes to her in season three. Anyway, both of those plot problems are now gone. Season three also suggests that Elisha Cuthbert (Run, Kim, run!) is also gone, and based on the reviews I’ve read she is. Cuthbert is a good actress, and that is part of the problem—her talent is being wasted on stupid plots lines.
It’s less clear whether the apparent cutting of Carlos Bernard (Tony Almeida), Reiko Aylesworth (Michelle Dessler), and Dennis Haysbert (President David Palmer) will go down as well. To be honest, I’m not sure that they are gone, but the plot in season three strongly suggests that they are, and I haven’t seen their mugs in any of the promos for season four. Haysbert is especially troubling since he was a cornerstone of the show.
Aside from that, however, it is well worth owning the DVD box set of season three if you are a big 24 fan. Hopefully, I’ll be able to say the same about season four.