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Jack Bauer in a tie? Messenger bag, stat!

In television on 01/11/2009 at 6:22 pm

Tonight’s seventh-season opener — a two-episode stand Jan. 11, another two hours Jan. 12, both nights at 8 p.m. — begins with signs that things are not quite right. Jack in a shirt and tie? With no messenger bag full of spy tricks and guns? This is like seeing Batman wearing only a short velour bathrobe and dark ankle socks.
I was willing to concede that the rules of realism would require that even Jack Bauer observe standard business dress code when brought before a government body, in this case  a committee’s investigation of the now-disbanded CTU’s use of torture. But then what place has realism every held in 24, the real-time adventures of the one man who can always save the world, even if, as in the last and sadly tedious season, it costs him his family and his soul?
Soon enough there are signs of hope. Unwrinkled shirt notwithstanding, Jack makes it clear to his inquisitor (Worst Week’s Kurtwood Smith) that he is not apologizing for anything. And indeed before we can attempt a body count, Jack is soon enough turning a completely ordinary desk object into a deadly weapon.
Still, it takes until the third hour/episode for Season 7 to hit its stride. Between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m. of Day 7, there is not enough of the thing that has kept me coming back to 24 over the years: humour. Happily, the humour returns, appearing sometime in the third hour, on Jan. 12. Humour and pouting. I’ve said too much already.
Speaking of returns, you might already have heard plenty of rumblings about the return of a certain former and thought-to-be-dead regular cast member. I am trying to stick to a New Year’s resolution to avoid spoilers unless they are really, really hilarious. So far, I am being strong. Except for the previous paragraph.
But back to that shirt and tie. I takes a while (and at least one utterance of “I’ll need complete access!”) but our hero eventually gets back into his official costume. In one scene, perhaps the one involving the desk item, a messenger bag suddenly materializes — well, more of a satchel, a gorgeous toffee-coloured leather with two straps — and Jack straps it on and he is BACK!
It’s only a few more real-time moments before he finds himself in a situation where there just happens to be a dark, long-sleeve T-shirt and comfortable but durable dark pants … in exactly his diminutive size! It’s a miracle.
Apparently, I am not the only one who has cultivated a keen interest in Jack’s signature gear and clothes.
Which brings me back to the humour. You can read lots of very serious reviews, some of which, as the Globe and Mail’s John Doyle did on Saturday, will link their thoughts on 24 to the current changing political leadership in the U.S. and wonder if there is still room in this pop culture world for Jack Bauer.
Well of course there is. And if you doubt me, check out this brilliant whack job’s edgy Jack fan page. But first promise you are not easily offended and have your mother’s permission to read this blog.

Favourite line from this site:

“There were plans for a street in LA to be named Jack Bauer Way, but these plans had to be scrapped, due to the high level of pedestrian fatalities predicted by experts. In the words of one LA civil engineer (who spoke under condition of anonymity, and swallowed a cyanide tablet immediately after): ‘No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.’ “

Enjoy. Oh and if you missed the opening-night two-hour stand because you were watching the Golden Globes? No problem. Global will have the episodes online. 24 airs on Fox and Global, debuting Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 from 8-10 p.m. ET and then settling into a Monday-night timeslot of 9 p.m. ET.

— Denise Duguay

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