One of my favourite movie website – other than IMDb – is Empire Online. The site recently added a new feature, Empire Blog, and I’ve noticed a post that talks about on how to improve the hit real-time drama that is 24.
Being a fan of the series, I was reading with much interest on how to make the show better. Here is Nick de Semlyen’s blog in full, amusingly written and I must admit some of the points he made are really good, in particular moving the action away from LA and introducing better villains.
The unprecedented lameness of the latest season of 24 has got me thinking about ways the writers can save my favourite show…
1. Stop with the torture. Jack Bauer has now electrocuted, stabbed or injected agonising truth serums into his girlfriend, his brother, 80% of his workmates and the entirety of LA’s Muslim community. It’s not only getting old, but implies that torture is a good thing, especially in that dodgy episode where Jack beat up an amnesty organisation spokesperson.
2. Move the action out of LA. Six seasons, six terrorist conspiracies, and they ALL go down in Los Angeles? Die Hard managed to spice things up by using three different cities — why not take Jack to China, London or Brazil during Mardi Gras? Recent rumblings suggest that this will indeed be the case with Season 7 — though producers nixed moving Bauer to Africa for budgetary reasons, it’s hinted that he’ll spend his next horrible day somewhere on the East Coast.
3. Keep things focused on CTU, or — even better — at some new government agency with all-new characters. Cut all the political crap, which worked when David ‘Gravitas’ Palmer was President, but not with Wayne ‘Soul Grooves’ Palmer in the hot seat. Forget nukes, dirty bombs and White House take-overs. Concentrate on making the story smaller, more intimate, on agents doing some actual agent-work, and their personal stories. Which brings us to…
4. Make the characters cool again. Hands up who misses Tony? Nina? Hell, even twin slimeballs Ryan Chappelle and George Mason were more likeable than the non-entities that passed for major characters in Season 6. Arse-chinned Milo “dropping the pressure” on that Muslim chick was the final indignity. Have the cougar return to eat the whole CTU office and then bring in some great character actors who have more to offer than being young and mildly photogenic. Scary-voiced Powers Boothe was a good start.
5. Kill Jack. A hugely risky move, that might backfire, but it would at least restore some of the show’s dangerous feel from the early days, when it felt like the writers would do anything — and off anyone — in the service of the story. There’s no tension when Jack goes into an operation anymore, because we know he won’t get killed. (He’s actually died at least once already, and been brought back to life). So surprise us – make him actually dead. I was hoping they were setting up Curtis, aka Black Jack, as his replacement, but that’s obviously not going to happen now.
6. Send Bill Buchanan into the field. With a shotgun. Ideally two, strapped to his back, Ash-from-Evil-Dead-style. The Silver Fox has brooded in his office long enough — it’s time to set him loose on the mean streets of LA. Ratings would instantly double.
7. Better bad guys. 24’s most long-standing problem is with its villains. Season 1: Dennis Hopper with dodgy accent. Season 2: can’t even remember. Season 3: Rent-a-Mexicans and well-spoken Brit baddie (so 1990s). Season 4: The bloke from The Mummy. Season 5: Okay, the exception, Logan rocked. Season 6: The bloke from The Mummy’s nephew. Probably. Come on, bring in someone who can give Bauer a run for his money. Like Jet Li!
8. Make the characters get tired. Only Season 1 had a scene where Jack napped for a bit. Since then, there’s been almost no indication that people stop functioning at full capacity after staying up for hours and hours and hours. It would up the tension considerably.
9. Bring back Aaron Pierce! Properly, not in a five-minute scene involving kiwi fruit (shame on you, Season 6 writers!) Preferably with shotguns.
10. Introduce Chuck Norris as Jack’s new partner. This would be the most awesome thing in the history of the universe, and the terrorists would have no chance.
I can imagine Chuck Norris as CTU’s new field agent. He would definitely kick some serious terrorists arse! One point I like to add to this list, make Jack Bauer use blue language. “DAMMIT!” lacks the power compare to full explicit swearing… Jack is truly angry when he loses his cool…