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February 04, 2008

"24" Needs To Be "Reinvented" Due To Rightwing Pro-Torture Politics?


It's strange to me, as it is to Bryan, than Hollywood never seems to consider that leftwing films fail due to their leftwing politics and hence need no "reinvention." In those cases, it's always due to other reasons. Usually the audience is blamed for its inability to grapple with "difficult issues." But Hollywood doesn't seem to consider that perhaps the audience has a point.

In the case of 24 and its declining ratings, politics are immediately flagged as the culprit, despite the fact that the show has recently featured some full-tilt leftist-conspiracy Truther-style plotlines.

It's not a secret why 24 has lost some of its mojo -- the show often seems random and farfetched in its increasingly convoluted plotlines especially as a season draws to a close. Additionally most of the plotlines and twists have been done before. The audience recognizes it as padding, and padding that they've seen before. As soon as the main plotline begins running out of steam, it's a virtual certainty that a) someone in Jack's family (or a girlfriend) will be kidnapped, b) there will be a bomb smuggled into CTU, c) CTU will have a suspected mole, d) CTU will be taken over by "the suits" who don't understand Jack's frequent rallying cry that "I just don't have the time" and e) there will be an attempted coup in the White House.

Joel Surnow told me when some bloggers met with him that only the first eight episodes of the show are plotted out; the rest is improvised week-to-week as the season wears on. That surprised me, so I asked again, just to make sure I caught that right: You mean you don't at least have plot mile-markers all figured out ahead of time so you at least know you're going to have X happen in episode 12, Y in episode 15, and Z in the conclusion? Nope, they don't.

I know they can't write all 24 hours of script in advance of production, but I thought at least they had the major plot-turns mapped out for all 24 hours, and during the season they just figured out how to script these already-planned incidents and contrive secondary plotlines. Not so; they're as in the dark about what happens in episode 18 as the audience is.

So it seems sort of inevitable, then, that sometimes the season's main plot will end far too early, as has happened recently, and they're forced to contrive an entirely new plot for the last six or eight episodes. And it's no surprise then either that many of these plotlines seem to be replays of 24's Greatest Hits.

Seems like the problems with the show have less to do with public mood and more to do with not properly planning a mega-plot that can carry -- that has itself enough room for incident and plot twists -- for almost all of the 24 hours of a season, rather than sputtering out to an end with six or seven show to go.

But I guess I'm wrong -- it turns out that it's just that the show isn't quite leftwing enough.

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posted by Ace at 03:56 PM

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