Has real-world torture killed off '24'?

24_lBuried seven paragraphs into this Wall Street Journal article about 24 is the news that the show’s seventh season "could premiere this summer, next fall or as late as January 2009." The delay isn’t the fault of the writers’ strike so much as it is of the creative crisis the show found itself in after 2007’s lackluster season 6. According to the Journal, the show’s writers and producers thought viewers had deserted 24 because it was too tied to the unpopular Bush administration, the unpopular war, and unpopular American torture policies, and it took them a long time to figure a way to write around those difficulties.

But the show’s problem is simpler (or maybe more complicated) than that. It’s not torture viewers grew tired of; it’s the stale plotting, bland characters, and muddy family soap-opera dynamics we saw in Day 6. Fixing those problems could be a lot harder than dealing with the show’s ambivalent politics, which I don’t think really bothered anyone. 24 appeals to liberals and conservatives alike because it offers a wish-fulfillment fantasy: a hero who’s always right, and who knows in his gut when torture will yield valuable and truthful information. (Not too likely in the real world, any more than a hero who never needs to eat or pee or sleep, whose cellphone never needs charging, and whose pals at the office can hack into any computer in the world with their PCs.) I don’t care whether Jack Bauer supports or opposes the current real White House’s policies; I just want to see him out there kicking terrorist butt. Making me and other 24 fans sit through another season of handwringing, bickering, and backstabbing within the Bauer, Palmer, Logan, and Heller families — now, that would be torture.

addCredit(“Kiefer Sutherland: Kelsey McNeal”)

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  • Ceballos

    “But the show’s problem is simpler (or maybe more complicated) than that. It’s not torture viewers grew tired of; it’s the stale plotting, bland characters, and muddy family soap-opera dynamics we saw in Day 6.”
    I love this show, and I’m incredibly disappointed that it won’t be back for a while. What the show needs is a bold creative resurgence of the magnitude that saw the beginning of Day 5 (mine and a lot of other people’s favorite season) ***SPOILER ALERT *** kill off one of the show’s most beloved characters (David Palmer) and rub off two popular ones, Michelle and Tony (temporarily).
    The problem is that I just don’t think “24” is a show that was built to last seven or eight seasons. Here’s hoping that, as they did with the terrific fifth season, the creators can prove me wrong.

  • queen of disrepair

    Jack is a commando not a politician. It’s an action-adventure-drama not a political-drama-action. Last season sucked because they were all over the place – too many storylines, too much action outside the realm of believable.
    I hope 24 comes back. I hope that there is a BIG problem with lots of little problems falling off of it. Hey, wait….why can’t Jack be in charge of the Cloverfield monster problem? What is the monster? Where did it come from? Dammit, Jack wants answers!!

  • Snarf

    I thought the delay was caused by Sutherland getting busted (yet again) while driving drunk?


    the problem with 24 is that people see jack and want our leaders to be more like him. when that doesn’t happen people say “oh..24 is not realistic…it’s not this..it’s not that..” deep down we want our president…leaders..agents..to be jack…no non sense, take no crap…protect this country
    be any means possible.
    911 has proven that.
    24 needs to go further into the direction of terrorist…explain their thinking and why they do what they do. how they become what we call terrorist from their point of view to explain why jack does what he does.
    he needs a 24 hour day living with them from their point of view.

  • eugene mazur

    Enjoyed the first episode with the Iranian actress and since then it is nothing but running and chasing. Ugh! Time for a new plot.

  • Alexis

    This show lost some steam last season but it still kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting more. It had some explosive and shocking moments involving Jack’s relationships with friends (Curtis) and his relatives (dad and brother). The funny thing is I’ve been hooked since season 1 and 24 didn’t really get the praise it deserved until season 5…which I thought was just OK as compared to the previous seasons. http://www.tshirtalerts.com

  • Anonymous

    Sunday, February 3, 2008
    The Providence Journeal
    MOST MODERN wars have been fought in two very different ways. The first way is the obvious one in which armies, navies, and air forces fight their enemy counterparts under relatively open conditions and according to rules that most nations have agreed to follow.
    Much less obvious and usually officially denied is a war that goes by names such as the “shadow” war or the “dirty” war. During World War II, Winston Churchill referred to it as the “ungentlemanly” war.
    The shadow war is largely a war without rules. Churchill understood that when he created the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to fight the shadow war and
    directed it to “set Europe ablaze.” The man Churchill chose to lead the effort warned, “We must use many different methods, including industrial and military sabotage, labour agitation and strikes, continuous propaganda, terrorist acts against traitors and German leaders, boycotts

  • Elizabeth

    I think holding off until Jan. 2009 (unless there are enough episodes filmed and ready to go once the strike is over) might be a good idea. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder?) If it were up to me, I’d do everything – including running 2 episodes per week – to avoid running too far into the summer. I still don’t know why they haven’t explored other “terrorist-like/fanatical” organizations, like a crazy off-shoot of the IRA, or some of these home-grown deals like the Michigan Militia? Most viewers live a little vicariously through Jack, but I don’t want a whiny girlfriend, or egomanical brother, so they can drop that angle. Either way, I’m sure they’ll come up with something … and the show was on a “break” because the strike was in full-effect. Snarf: Sutherland took his sentence, I think, in the hopes of having it completed before the show began filming additional episodes. He was originally scheduled to serve towards early summer.

  • Evan

    To expand on Elizabeth’s excellent idea of basing the terrorists off a real life group, they could do eco-terroists like a PETA off shoot.

  • Wil

    I agree that the show went into soap opera mode last season. I think Jack needs to fight other type of terrorist like the KKK or neo-nazis. To make the season explosive, make it a military coup with the neo-nazis behind it and only Jack can stop it. This is my suggestion.

  • Andie

    As a big fan of 24, I can only say that the reason why last season disappointed me was that it was boring! Plain and simple. A lot of the storylines felt recycled or only half-finished (anyone figure out just what happened to Pres Logan after his ex wife stabbed him in the neck?), and I really didn’t give a cr*p about all of the family issues that they kept going on about.
    I really hope that this delay means that the writers and producers are trying to come up with a fantastic story and not just because of Sutherland’s DUI or the writers strike. Because if Day 7 ends up being as dull as 6 was, I won’t keep watching.

  • Kyle

    They really need to streamline the show–it always starts and ends great, but lags severly in the middle. I know the show is called 24, but perhaps it would be better if a season consisted of 2 separate 12-hour storylines instead.

  • Phil

    I agree Gary, i’m a fan and i want to see some action packed tv, i’m tired of these game shows, let’s get some thrillers for a change.

  • wengem

    24 is totally spent and it has nothing to do with torture. The writing stinks and the situations are ludicrous. Political power struggles are so overdone. How many different people are going to be in charge of CTU in the next 24 hours? How many insiders obtained top secret clearance and are helping the terrorists? How many distinct terrorist plots can Jack prevent in one day? How often have you joked about the show’s ridiculous travel times or the injuries that heal within hours? The writers need to be more realistic and less absurdly dramatic. Change the premise! 24 days instead of 24 hours might give them the chance to develop characters, lose absurdity, and get some believability back.

  • Eric D. Wilkinson

    I have loved with show since season one and I couldn’t agree with you more. I think the show needs to take a complete break from the “terrorists always going after Los Angeles” (I mean really… Always Los Angeles? Isn’t their ANY other major metropolitan city that these guys are interested in?). Take a complete break from the terrorist story lines and have Jack visiting his daughter in New York or Washington or something. They walk into a bank, the bank gets robbed and Jack and his daughter become hostages (of course the bank robbery is a ruse for something else. I has to be, we have 24 hours to fill). Jack has to save his life and others WITHOUT the help of CTU and amazing computer hackers and support. I think a more minimalistic story line like this would do the show some good. Just a thought.

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