24 is back and we were glued to the tube last night for the opening episode. The no-commercials (they were all attached to the beginning and the end) ploy worked well, moving the action along – it was tough to decide when to pee. In case you have been in a cave, the conceit of 24 is that all the action takes place in real time over a twenty-four hour period. Here is the episode guide to last year’s series. The character guide for this year’s cast is here.
The plot gist for this year is simple: it’s 18 months later, Jack has been in a serious funk over the death of his wife (and his misreading of the mole-bitch Nina no doubt), his daughter is somewhat estranged, he has a bad beard, he is retired from spying. But then word comes in to President Palmer that Islamoterrorists have a nuke and are going to use it on LA – today. Jack has history with one of the terrorists, Palmer trusts Jack, Jack is (reluctantly) called in.
Jack is tough, Jack doesn’t mess around: the first thing Jack does is shoot in cold blood a smug, child pornographing, murdering a federal witness who is the only link to the terrorists. This is both terrifying and hilarious: ordinary rules of comportment – like not shooting handcuffed prisoners in the interrogation room – don’t apply to Jack (episode guide here).
Here is what my wife Dawn had to say about the episode:
- The first episode was tonight – and as expected, I was compelled to scream at the TV at least once.
I love this show. It is the only thing we watch regularly and I think the writers are great.
L.A. is about to get nuked by…..that’s right you guessed it: Islamodickweeds.
Jack is back. Kim is in peril. Some COCKSUCKER beats his wife, Kim and his kid – oooh I can’t wait until Jack gets a hold of his ass.
Looks like another great season.
I predict that the wife/Kim/kid beater is some low level schmuck in this terrorist organization and is on some type of serious drugs using his low level terrorist activity to pay for his drug habit.
Just a guess.
Yes, it is certain that sweet revenge will have to be wreaked upon the wife-beater, who also drools lecherously over the nubile Kim. Since Kim is about the same age, and bears a surface resemblance to my own daughter, I want the asshole flayed.
I predict that Jack will be beaten upon with some regularity over the next 24 hours and that all involved will become tired and cranky.
The NY Times has an interesting look at the challenges of simulating real time:
- In “24,” the details of plot, costume, makeup and character had to be kept consistent not just from scene to scene, but from episode to episode across an entire season of filming.
“It’s a really different ball game,” Mr. Cochran said. “In a normal television show, you can put your character on a plane in Los Angeles and, in the very next scene, he can get off the plane in New York. But in our show, he’s going to be on that plane for five episodes, right? You’d better give him a parachute or be prepared to write five episodes worth of stuff on an airplane.”
They took the first alternative: in the series’ pilot, which last month garnered Mr. Cochran and Mr. Surnow an Emmy for dramatic writing, they had a character blow up a passenger jet and then parachute to safety.
Catching structural glitches is so critical to the show that the walls of a conference room at the production facility, a converted warehouse in Woodland Hills, Calif., are plastered with spreadsheets, tracking every character. Despite the precautions, the production team has occasionally reshot small portions of coming episodes to repair lapses in the story’s logic.
On other occasions, writers had to make good on what previous dialogue, already broadcast, had promised. One character in the pilot, which covered the hour of midnight to 1 a.m., announced that he had a breakfast appointment with the candidate. “There it was, staring us in the face,” Mr. Cochran said. “Something besides eating cantaloupe had to happen at breakfast.”
Virgil Williams, one of the show’s writers, is responsible for making sure that every element of a new script tracks. He also reviews film footage for possible inconsistencies. “Story continuity issues are like weeds,” he said, describing the inexorable season as a “moving Everest.”
For our review of the first season on DVD, see here.