Bauer Power, Part 7

The new season of 24 looks strong, which I didn’t think I’d find myself saying after the meandering, interminable Season 6:All In Jack’s Family. I didn’t even watch the last handful of episodes, and I’m absolutely positive I didn’t miss anything. But this looks pretty excellent, in that awesomely bad, anti-terrorist soap-opera way of 24 at its best.

Premise-wise, it appears it’ll basically be a mash-up of Die Hard II and IV, which is a good thing, since 24 wasn’t ever much more than a serialized, slightly less blue collar, war-on-terror era Die Hard: The Series anyway.

Not that the show’s politics ever really mattered. 24 has been an argument for Bush’s GWOT in the same way that Passions is an argument for witchcraft, or Independence Day was an argument for stronger defense against extraterrestrials (which, okay, maybe we need). It’s a matter of convenience, really, an easy excuse for Surnow and Cochran to send an all-American, government-sponsored Superman around southern California with orders to blow things up and get in completely ridiculous situations that require a maximum amount of either ingenuity, or — more often — terrific violence. (Jack: “Hmmm, I think the best way for me to stop these terrorists is to put on a ski mask and rob a convenience store!”*) The show is like Gossip Girl, but for action junkies: implausible, obsessed with its own fabulousness, awesomely over the top.

And Soul Patch Tony is back! Mysteriously! (Apparently he has similarly convenient regenerative powers as slasher-movie villains.) Presumably now we’ll get to hear Jack and/or his superiors shout, “Why won’t you die?!” Tony’s got a shaved head and a menacing glower to replace the alcoholism and gut we last saw him with. This, of course, is necessary, because you have to have a pretty strong Eurotrash vibe to be allowed to be a villain on 24. Hopefully, this means we’ll get to see him in a shiny unbuttoned shirt and a suit from Club Monaco.

And wow, talk about self-referential plot threads: Jack even has to testify in front of the Senate. (Hopefully he’ll be a little better prepared than Alberto Gonzales.) But still. So many questions! Will the show further nod toward the real world and have the administration defend him? Will the series continue with its longstanding practice of throwing realism out the window by having the Senators actually ask succinct, simple questions without prefacing them with long-winded, rambling speeches? And as a blogger, what I really want to know is: Will Fox release a PDF of Bauer’s testimony? Surely they must understand the need for transparency (even — and especially — from a fictional government), and for providing bloggers something to link to when commenting on what was said. Good policy isn’t just for the real world. Goofy serial dramas need to do their part too.

Not too much has changed about the show, of course. Some as of yet unnamed terrorist-fighting (possibly mole) female partner in a skinny pants suit (the kind that makes for easy transitions between the show’s three primary female agent activities: “looking hot,” “acting bossy,” and “kicking ass”) tells Jack to go after some poor soul and “torture him if you have to.” Jack, as we are all aware, will do no such thing. He’ll torture him because he wants to, dammit.

From the looks of things, Sutherland, like Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, may be getting too old for this shit. But I hope that doesn’t stop him. I fully expect the guy to be bellyaching about bomb timers and BS departmental regulations well into his nursing home years. Strike a blow for aging action heroes everywhere, Kiefer, and maybe in a decade or three, you and Chuck Norris can fight over the opportunity to play the grizzled mentor to some young upstart ass-kicker with a catchphrase and a gimmick. And if not, we’ll always have reruns.

*No really. This actually happened.