Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fox's "24: Legacy" - We're one-third of the way through; how is it holding up?

I'm definitely not in the "disappointed that Jack is not back" crowd, and I'm enjoying "24: Legacy" a lot. But I do think that the deliberate decision that the writers made to scale down the threat from WMD-level is something that is going to take getting used to. To be sure, I understand why they are going this way, and it's reasonable.
Until I get used to it, though, it's left this season a little short of the almost unbearable tension that seasons 2-7 generated. With Legacy, so far, the concern is over the thumbdrive with the list of sleepers, who can no doubt wreak havoc, except we haven't gotten a taste of that (other than the initial assassination of Carter's teammates). In season 6, a nuclear bomb wiped out Magic Mountain (the theme park in Valencia, CA), in season 3, we saw lots of outbreaks of the Cordelia virus, and in season 5, the shopping mall got doused by VX nerve gas. All of those were precursors of potentially much worse WMD attacks, giving real bite to the ticking clock -- if Jack didn't stop the threats in time, tens of thousands to millions of people would die.
Again, the threat this season is more realistic (or should I say, higher likelihood), and I expect that as a viewer, I just need to be re-trained to accept this threat level. But if there's one thing that I'd contrast with the Jack Bauer seasons, this would be it.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Quick thoughts on "24: Legacy"

I've been waiting months for "24: Legacy," so naturally, the Super Bowl went into overtime. I love NFL football, and it was definitely an exciting game, but I was ready for it to end so that it would be tick-tick-tick time!

(Okay, it's true that I wasn't going to watch it right away because it's the kind of show I need my kids to be asleep before I turn it out; and on the West Coast, it wasn't their bedtimes yet. That's not the point - I was eager just to have TiVo start recording the show, dammit!)

Up to now, the biggest pre-airing speculation has been whether continuing the show without Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer would work. Once I saw some trailers a few months ago, I was optimistically open-minded. No one can replace Jack Bauer, but the show would be able to replicate the key elements that made it like video crack: terrorist plots, government moles, "hard perimeters" that fail to stop bad guys from slipping through, and mayhem throughout.

Star Corey Hawkins was fine as Eric Carter: convincing in the action sequences, and more than capable in the expository scenes. He hasn't been given much material to work with yet - but then again, it took a while before Jack's cursed nature began to show through Sutherland's terrific acting.

The premiere episode quickly checked off the beloved "24" tropes. Mole deep in the government? You got it. As an added bonus, the seemingly suspicious head of CTU, who gets gratuitously tased by former CTU head Rebecca Ingram, will almost certainly turn out not to be the mole. By the book bureaucrat who gets in the way of things getting done? You got it - see the aforementioned head of CTU. Uber-competent henchmen of the villain who are able to track Americans in the United States with no trouble? Of course!

And then there is one more show element to discuss. During the first nine seasons, most of Jack Bauer's kills over the years were by gunshot, with several stabbings and broken necks. But once in a while, Jack would MacGyver a new way of killing a bad guy. There were the suicide bombers in season 5 who were killed when Jack remote detonated their vests. There was the over-the-top vampire bite in season 6, the double kill by fire axe/knocking second guy off the top of the staircase in season 8 (my personal favorite), and the double defenestration in Live Another Day.

So I was quite delighted that in the first hour, Eric Carter showed that he was up to the task of improvising new ways of killing people (who deserve it). The giant rolling cylinder of doom was pretty awesome - you knew someone would get crushed as soon as it started rolling toward them, and the smear of blood was well done. Technically, the rebar was another stabbing implement (like Jack's use of the screwdriver on John Quinn in season 7), so I guess it doesn't really count as fully new. Let's score it 1/2. Still, a great start