The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

February 7th, 2010

It’s been a little over a week since I saw episodes 3 & 4 and been trying to straighten out my thoughts on the first four episodes, and with episode 5 & 6 set to air in the U.K. tonight i’ve run out of time to let my thoughts settle.

What strikes me most about the first 4 episodes is just how uneven it has been. One minute i’m very much in the story, i’m going with it, we may have seen it all before, but it’s interesting enough and the continuing stories of Jack, Chloe and Renee has enough pull that i’m very keen to know what happens next in there lives. However the next minute I find myself not caring about the character on screen.

To be clear this isn’t as simple as me caring about the old characters and not about the new characters. I find myself very much engaged with President Hassan played with understated perfection by Anil Kapoor, and Cole Ortiz shows a lot of promise and is closer to a Tony or a Jack than he is too a, hmm, you know those other CTU Action Hero’s whose names we’ve forgotten.  The same goes for many of the new characters. Except for the new head of CTU who I really can’t stand.

As for the returning characters President Taylor is boring me stiff and I don’t see Chloe’s character or story really progressing more than it has, in fact she looks like she’s heading for a heroic death as they run out of ideas for her.

Overall the dividing line of my interest is that when Jack and CTU are down on the ground actually investigating, trying to bring suspects in i’m with it. I’m there. Add to that just about every scene is in Pres. Hassan. (although some scenes are even he can’t save). President Taylor and CTU Director having me wincing with all the “explaining the stakes” dialogue they spew.

Modern CTU it’s an interesting idea which just isn’t working for me. It’s been given more dialogue and more attention than it’s earnt or needs. The office shouldn’t matter. Obviously the idea is to put Chloe and Jack in an alien environment, however it then feels alien and unrealistic to us, since Chloe and Jack are our eyes in this new environment.

Whats frustrated me most about the first four episodes is that absolutely everything wrong with them was avoidable, and has been brought about by the shows adherence to “the forumla”, and if you rearrange a few pieces there would an interesting and exciting premiere.

Go with me for a minute, as I present my alternate reality premiere. It’s just gone midnight. There is no “New CTU”,  just the local FBI, who are about to sign off on Jack moving back west in the morning. Quarter past midnight and Jack gets a thundering knock at the door which wakes him up. A FBI agent who Jack is passingly acquainted with needs a favour. Jack doesn’t want to hear it, but he has news of Renee who hasn’t returned Jack’s calls. Renee has been undercover with the Russian Mob for the past month, but she’d gone dark a few days after going under. A few hours ago Renee called a FBI number and left a message for “Frank Flynn”, the bogus name Jack lived under for a year. The FBI don’t know what is gone wrong, but Renee’s call has set up a cover for Jack and a meeting time and place. The FBI need Jack to go in. Meanwhile in a suite of hotel rooms a heated debate is going on between President Hassan and his staff, as they put together the speech he will give in front of the UN General Assembly in 12 hours. Hassan wants it to be the first step towards talks with President Taylor, but it must be a speech all of the fragile coalition which elected him can agree on. In the local FBI field office, Agent Ortiz is the ranking officer in charge of the midnight to 6 shift as the monitor intelligence and chatter for any sign of a threat to Hassan’s speech.

Okay, so some of it is a bit wolly, but it gets it very quickly to the point in them middle of episode 4 where the show really started to spark my interest, Renee and Jack undercover, together. Hopefully now that the show has established it’s route it can move on from here, if it does it could be a good season.

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