During an interview with the cast of “24” before the season started, Larry King asked Jayne Atkinson (Karen Hayes) if “24” could survive without Jack Bauer. Atkinson was a little uncomfortable about answering—since Kiefer Sutherland was sitting right next to her—so Kiefer jumped in to answer for her.
“Absolutely,” he said. Then, Kiefer gave his usual argument about how the time format is the star of the show and how it could go on for years without him…
Now you all know how much I love Kiefer, and it’s not like me to so strongly disagree with him, but he’s dead wrong on this one. There is no “24” without Jack.
And there has been no better proof than the first five episodes of this season. Whereas last year the supporting characters kept us engrossed in their story while Jack was not on-screen; this year, they just couldn’t cut it and the show suffered whenever Jack was missing.
But finally, last night, the supporting characters came to play in a big way led by Peter MacNicol’s Tom Lennox, Atkinson’s Karen Hayes and the brilliant addition of Chad Lowe as Reed Pollock.
[Warning: The remainder of this post contains details about last night’s episode of “24.”]
Extended arguments between characters are not something “24” is known for, but the heated exchange between Karen and Tom that opened the show was a thing of brilliance. Although the whole thing sounds a lot like season two, it’s just different enough—with much more dynamic performances—that I’m still enjoying it.
The supporting characters at CTU came alive as well, as Nadia was handcuffed by Lennox’s policies and Milo (who has been especially annoying) stepped in to help her. The look between the two of them was the most interesting thing those two have done all year (and gives me further evidence that Nadia may be this year's mole).
Even the dreadful Wallid story was solid last night as we discovered that he was risking his life for nothing. I was afraid that story was going to get dragged out way too long, so I’m glad to see I was wrong.
Unfortunately, good things can’t be said about all of the supporting players, though. Regina King’s Sandra Palmer is still incredibly annoying and I have a feeling she’s only going to get worse as we have to listen to her whine about her boyfriend (the aforementioned Wallid) risking his life for nothing. And I was so excited about Wayne (one of my favorite “24” characters of all time) being President, but so far, he’s been a real disappointment. Part of that is in the writing, but a larger part of it is D.B. Woodside’s overdramatic line delivery. It’s a presidential speech, not a Shakespearean monologue, D.B.
And I’m extremely disappointed with the writers’ decision to make Chloe so blah this season. You can’t give her that great look and then not give her something decent to do.
But as I said, there is no “24” without Jack; and he was still gone way too much last night—especially since he was in full-blown snarl mode AND he’s wearing that outfit (I don’t know who the terrorist was that left that shirt and those jeans behind for Jack to put on, but I am so thankful that he did.). Yes, the Graem “I don’t think so” twist was right out of a soap opera, but I am so loving the dynamic between Kiefer and Paul McCrane, that I’m willing to look past it (I know that for most of you McCrane will always be Dr. Romano of “ER,” but for me, he will always be the cop with the best singing voice on “Cop Rock.”). However, if Jack does not find out that it was Graem who got him shipped to China, I’m going to be mad. I’ve got to believe that President Logan figures in there somewhere.
I also liked the dynamic between Kiefer and James Cromwell (Jack’s dad, Phillip). I was initially upset that they did not cast Donald Sutherland, but I’m glad that Donald passed this to his friend. As Kiefer said in “USA Today” yesterday, when he and his dad do work together, it should be a “once in a lifetime” thing and as cool as it may turn out to be, this isn’t it.
There’s no doubt that “24” is doing the slow build this year, but for the first time I feel like it’s actually going somewhere…