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''24'': The president's shocking decisions

On ”24,” the wounded and heavily medicated President Palmer hastily relaunches the nuclear attack; meanwhile, Jack captures and beats on Fayed

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24, D.B. Woodside


TV Show
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”24”: The president’s shocking decisions

As far as I’m concerned, the single best moment of this season of 24 occurred last night when Gredenko outed Fayed in that Santa Monica bar. Its patrons — glued to the news (as all good-citizen barflies would be after a nuclear bomb had been set off earlier in the day) — recognized the terrorist and gave him a good ass whuppin’. And then, as a bonus, Jack came running in and kicked Fayed in the head. Yesss! That’s one thing we like about our 24: justified violence. It was Gredenko’s shining moment, especially since he seemed to be going into shock, having just asked Fayed and his men to chop off the arm containing CTU’s tracking device. And indeed, a few minutes later, the creepy Russki flopped onto Santa Monica beach like a mackerel; he looked ready to sleep with the fishes.

The rest of the hour? Well, it flip-flopped around like a fish out of water. Doyle insisted that Nadia get evidence from Milo’s computer; Nadia thought Doyle was very mean. But no! Doyle used the info to cover Milo’s tracks, because he recognized that while he doesn’t like Milo personally, he’s a good guy. Oh, and Doyle has read the Koran and lots of other holy books, and he told Nadia (Doyle knows she’s a practicing Muslim), ”You’re lucky — you found your [spiritual] answers. I’m lookin’ for mine.” My hunch that the show is setting up Doyle as ultimately a hero is panning out so far, but that could change during any random hour, I’m sure.

More flip-flopping: The vice president lost the cabinet vote to retain control after President Scarface — excuse me, President Wayne Palmer — got a shot of adrenaline and rallied the proverbial troops. But no! The veep said Karen had resigned and her vote didn’t count! Karen was very upset — this despite the fact that we all recall distinctly that when she withdrew her resignation a few hours ago, she said something airily about how the paperwork hadn’t gone through yet. For some reason, in this episode, everyone simply took the veep’s word over Karen’s.

But no! Tom Lennox had taped Vice President Daniels’ very naughty-flirty conversation with his aide Lisa. The blonde hatchet woman became so hypnotized when he growled, in his Powers Boothe, power-is-sexy voice, ”America will be vulnerable in a way it never has been!” that she offered to lie and perjure herself. Tom got it on tape. Daniels had to relent. The world is safe, thanks to Tom.

But no! President Scarface — er, Palmer — still smarting because Daniels had called him weak, relaunched the attack that Daniels had aimed at the Middle East.

Oh, for heaven’s sake. I don’t know the side effects of too much adrenaline, other than the doctor’s warning about very high blood pressure (big honking signal from the 24 writers there — the president will probably keel over any minute now, don’t you think?), but doing exactly the opposite of what you intended to do minutes before seems more than a little…well, if not brain woozy, at least awfully convenient for more melodrama, isn’t it?

(Let me pause here for a minute to yell something out the window: Chloe had exactly one line last night! One line! What is wrong with this show? Ahem. Thank you.)

Really, last week’s South Park parody of 24, with Cartman as Jack, had a bit more consistency of plot than the real thing here. I’m not talking about minor improbabilities that we just have to ignore to keep buying into the show, such as the notion that Gredenko, plopped down on the Santa Monica Pier, could, after being text-messaged the phrase ”Building J,” stride off unerringly, straight into the hands of Fayed’s men. No, ignore that — I’m talking about the way we are all being compelled by the producers to watch this season of 24: to always expect that as soon as one decision is made or action taken, it will be reversed or dropped two commercial breaks later.

The odd thing about 24 at this point is that it’s almost as if the viewers understood the way the show is supposed to work better than the producers. Many of you wrote on the message board last week about how frustrating it is that Jack’s father is still in the wind, and that the Logans have vanished from the show’s scenario.

Indeed: Subplots that would normally have been used to add to 24‘s tension in seasons past are just left dangling, while Jack runs around, shoots his gun, and orders agents to ”set up a perimeter.”

I did like it when all those guys thumped Fayed, though….

What do you think? Have the writers lost control of the plotlines? Will the Bauer and Logan families appear again? And is Mike Doyle going to turn out to be a good guy or a bad guy?