Tuesday, February 13, 2007

24 Series 6 (Episodes 1-8) Contains Major Spoilers

Eight episodes into series six and events are broadly following the usual path. Granted the detonation of a nuclear device on US soil is a new bench mark. Thousands of Americans (not people you understand, but Americans) have been killed or injured; largely off screen. It’s difficult to see how the stakes can be raised after this atrocity.
Jack has come back from China wanting nothing so much as a quiet death. Request denied Bauer because only you can save Planet America… again. On the subject of Jacks ten minute transformation from broken, beardy, mute victim to arse-kicking, gun-toting hero I must say that he seems to be in remarkable physical condition for having spent the last two years in a Chinese prison. If anything he’s more buff than he was last series. Chinese prisons aren’t very nice. In fact prisons, like capitalism, food and human rights abuses, are one of the things that China does best. Jack’s cell must have had a multi gym and possibly sky sports for the footie.

Back at CTU it’s business as usual. Bill Buchanan is in charge. Traditionally being in charge of CTU involves standing around with your hands on your hips looking concerned and waiting for Jack Bauer to phone you and tell you what to do. Buchanan excels at this role. His great tombstone of a face looming over the computer jocks like Dracula’s castle as they urgently press keys and drink coffee. Chloe is still in place as the resident stroppy genius, and second best reason for watching the show. At the White House meanwhile some sort of misunderstanding seems to have resulted in David Palmer’s younger, foolish, less interesting brother being elected President. It’s ok though because Ally McBeal’s boss is on hand to advise him.

So far Jack’s having quite a day. He’s been returned to America, handed over to terrorists to be killed, bitten a bit off of a mans neck, teamed up with a former Terrorist leader, shot his old colleague Curtis dead and tortured his brother. His brother was actually the mastermind behind the events of last season from the murder of Jacks close friends Tony and Michelle to the assassination of President Palmer (the real one, not his Def Jam brother) and even Jack being handed over to the Chinese. What a git. Paul McCrane gave a crackingly villainous performance as the nasty little white collar murderer before being killed by the real villain of the piece: Daddy Bauer (who is played by a hat stand).

After the blisteringly exciting four episode opener the pace was breathless until episode seven, last week, when things got a bit dull. Everything’s back to normal this week though as Morris (a great addition to the CTU team) gets kidnapped and tortured, Evil Dad kidnaps Jacks son… I mean nephew, whilst Jack Bauer gets out of a helicopter ON TOP OF A LORRY and diffuses a nuclear bomb. Stroll on.

Recent criticism has suggested that the show is right wing propaganda and promotes stereotypes of Muslims. This is unfair. It is to be remembered that the villain of the piece in every series turns out to be a corrupt western businessman or politician, or the American President. There are always positive Muslim characters in addition to villains. The only agenda 24 has is to entertain. 24 is the natural heir to Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, James Bond and thirty years of big budget action movies. It is exciting, intelligent entertainment on a huge scale set in a world ten minutes in the future with plots taken from today’s headlines. And sometimes it's funny too.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It is the end...

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, H5N1, global warming, little ice age, death rock from outer space; let's face it - one way or another we're done for. With this in mind I started to compose a handy dandy checklist of things to get done before the collapse of society. I offer it here for your perusal, dear concerned reader, and for your additions or comments.

Things to do before the Apocalypse

1) Learn to swim. Water will be a theme.
2) Take some basic self defence lessons. May be useful to learn to shoot.
3) Learn useful skills; eg how to make fire, cooking, first aid, how to treat radiation poisoning, that sort of thing. Park rangers will fare better than website designers in the bright new age.
4) Move as far inland as possible - preferably to the top of a hill or mountain. Islands, valleys and coastal towns are to be avoided.
5) Travel light.
6) Stop eating meat.
7) Avoid making new friends unless they have access to stores of petroleum or useful skills. You need assets not dependants.
8) If you have a lot of money then spend it all. Ideally on diamonds or bullion. Remember though that the day may come when you need to carry all your possessions on your back.
9) If you intend to have kids do it now and teach them good life skills. If you raise them to be strong and loyal they will look after you should you be injured or infirm.
10) Stockpile tinned foods, cigarettes, chocolate, batteries, fossil fuels and alcohol. These are the currencies of the post apocalyptic world.
11) Make a boat big enough to carry you, all your stuff and anyone you don't want to have to watch drown.
12) Learn to care for and ride a horse.