Monday, January 18, 2010

The Best of The Best Returns...

It's that time again. The time for terrorists to quake in their boots, evil hackers to hide in their Matrices, and bad politicians to go on extended vacations... That's right, boys and girls, JACK IS BACK!!!

One of the best things about the month of January is the return of one of the greatest shows on television: 24. Season 8 started last night, and the two-night, four hour premiere continues tonight at 8pm!! I've watched the first two eps and here are my first impressions, to paraphrase a favorite ad slogan: Season 8 is GREAT!!!

First off, the storyline is being debuted very well. It looks like the streak of good writing on 24 that started in season six is still holding strong. There are some strong resemblances to early seasons of 24, but there's enough new material there to avoid the appearance of the writers repeating themselves. For example, unlike past seasons, the politics are being displayed early on. This is a good thing, since the blend of the mind-bending political intricacies and heart-stopping action are what gives 24 it's unique appeal. (Think of it as the perfect mix of West Wing & Die Hard.) That they're introducing the politics so early promises a much more complex storyline. I hope they keep delivering that complexity throughout the season.

In terms of casting, the producers of the show have tapped some exceptional talent!! Mykelti Williamson, as always, puts in a solid performance. Powerful and engaging as Hastings, the director of CTU NY, he has a few steps to take to achieve the position of true successor to Bill Buchanan, but he has the makings. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what he does with his role.

Katee Sackoff, after Battlestar Galatica and Bionic Woman, is there NOTHING she can't do? It's nice to see Hollywood's only humanly proportioned blond actress in a non sci-fi role, though. I definitely don't want to see her typecast. I want to see her as much as possible! Taking up the mantle of Michelle Dessler, Sackhoff's Dana Walsh is powerful, determined and exceptionally competent at her job. Plus, she looks good doing it! (I had to say it, the woman is gorgeous after all.)

Freddie Prinze, Jr is the surprise for me. I'm used to seeing him as the leading man in rom-coms, and the funny guy in everything else. He's stepping in as the next Tony Almeida (even with his choice of romantic interest, Sackhoff's Dana Walsh), Cole Ortiz, director of CTU NY field ops. It's an interesting jump for Prinze, Jr and so far he comes across believably. When the action really starts we'll see if he can keep up.

I did enjoy seeing Slumdog Millionaire's Anil Kapoor as the president of Iran. Kapoor's President Hassan came across as polished, honorable, sincere, and sympathetic. The last president with that kind of mix was David Palmer. I'm looking forward to seeing where Kapoor takes the role. It was also very nice to see one of my favorite bad guys, Doug Hutchison, again. I know he's not the main bad guy, but I really enjoy watching him work. I hope he lasts a good long while in this season.

Series regulars Cherry Jones & Mary Lynn Rajskub reprise their roles with the same power and appeal as ever and for once, Elisha Cuthbert's Kim does not come across as annoying & petulant.

The producers of the show have often stated that 24 takes place about 5 min into an alternate future of the US. The first two eps of season eight reflect this more than any other season so far, mostly in the layout of CTU NY. Voice activated view screens, cavernous body scanners, biometric access panels and my personal favorite, the drone piloting station, all add an air of "one step forward" advanced tech that makes CTU NY appear ahead of the game.

Overall, I believe this was a strong opening for Season 8. I'm looking forward to tonight's continuation and the rest of the season. Rumors have it that this is the last season of 24. I hope not, but if it is, it's looking like it's going to be one HELL of a ride. And what better place to go out in than New York City?

1 comment:

  1. Good review. I'm enjoying what I see so far. Oh, btw, the country is not Iran but some fictional mideast country very similar to Iran. :)

    My only quibble, as with Heroes, is the dressing up of L.A. to look like NYC. As a native, it just hurts my eyes how "unlike" NYC the lighting and back alleys look. Also, some of their stock aerial photography doesn't mesh with the locations on street level the characters are at.

    In the beginning of the first episode, the overhead camera tracks a taxi cab that Jack's former informant is supposed to be in. The cab pulls up along the curb right outside the Starbucks near the Regal movie theater on 42nd st (a highly recognizable tourist trap). Yet when the informant gets out of the cab he's nowhere recognizable in NYC. There are no walkups tenements on that street.

    This is just a nitpick from somebody that lives in the city, of course. I don't see it possibly detracting from the enjoyment of the show by anyone else.

    I have to say, in terms of familiar faces reappearing, I'm actually looking forward to seeing Agent Renee Walker from last season show up again. I really liked her.