(So for reasons that defy logic, they have decided to inform the general public of a huge spoiler prior to the season that is found in the trailer (linked below). Most likely they did this in an effort to bring back the pissed off fans (and their are many) for the seventh season. They will most likely use this as a focal point of their ad campaign for the season (which looks like it will start in the fall…I hope), so we have to embrace this idea. It can go either way. The following article does not give any info about the trailer so it is safe to read for those that still want to be kept in the dark heading into season seven. Obviously though, if you aren’t up to date with the show, you’d be an idiot to read this.)
Coming off season five, 24 was on a roll. Even after so many incredible seasons, the fifth installment of this franchise was one of the best the show had seen thus far and dominated the Emmy’s with 12 nominations, including a win for best dramatic series and best actor in Kiefer Sutherland.
What a difference a year can make. It is almost as if the writers’ strike happened last year with the way this season went. So after a massively disappointing sixth installment, which included both new highs (the four-hour premiere was perfect) and lows (repeated storylines) for the show, the pressure is on the writers to make the show addicting and fresh as it has always been.
So how are they going to do that? For a show that has been to so many places and woven so many twists, what does the seventh season of 24 need to again be considered the most addictive thing that isn’t crack? I’ll break it down for you.
First and foremost:
STOP REPEATING STORYLINES
How many times can you bomb CTU? I mean, the terrorists in season six snuck through the sewer to get into the building. Are you fucking kidding me? Talk about lazy-ass writing. It is a great thing they are getting rid of CTU in season seven, and even though I love the place, it has been the most attacked government building of all time. You’d think they would have beefed up security after season two. Repeated storylines helped doom season six to the lackluster land of mediocrity. Here is what needs to be avoided in season seven:
- The Mole/Fake Mole
It has been done to death, and I can’t see how they can conceivably pull off another believable traitor-esque situation. It seems there has been a mole in every season, along with the Gael version of a mole, where he turns out to be working with Jack all along (see season three). This should not be a problem to eliminate, especially considering the fact Jack Bauer should be on his own.
- Stupid Subplots
Kim Bauer had a few (remember the cougar?), to Erin Driscoll’s daughter that we didn’t give a shit about (I was glad when she killed herself), the writers cannot inject time-fillers that just eat up clock in between action scenes. They need to go back and examine on what made seasons one, two, and five so perfect. Don’t write in bullshit filler subplots, because all it does is anger the fans. I’d like to punch the writer in the face whose idea it was to have Chloe babysit Chase’s baby at CTU. The baby subplot was ridiculous and belonged in Days of Our Lives, not 24.
- The Power Trip
This also has been done to death. From George Mason (R.I.P.), to Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe) in season six, newly appointed people go on massive power trips, throwing logic out the window and making personal vendettas a priority. Making irrational decisions after being appointed to new position makes little sense to me. This, again, should be easy to take out of this upcoming season, since Jack should not be working for a government agency.
- Overthrowing the President
This needs to stop. From secret congressional hearings, assassination attempts, bombings, and shooting down Air Force One (which was awesome!), this territory has been completely covered. The president needs to be left alone. If I was the president, I would love Jack Bauer, but man, you got to keep your distance. Friendship with Jack Bauer, when you are the president, has led to some really bad situations.
- Important Governmental Aid Being Manipulated
Again, this has been done a few times. From David Palmer’s idiot assistant and Noah’s manipulation skills to the pussy-ass fighter jet pilot, weaker-minded individuals should not be employed by waste management, let alone the higher branches of our government.
- The Important Person/Witness Gets Assassinated
You know how this goes. That mysterious person is finally found and caught, moments away from safety or helicopter rescue, only to be sniped/killed/poisoned minutes after being in Jack’s custody.
- Side Characters Who Have Relatives in Peril
Enough with a sick aunt or a crazy daughter already, we don’t care about side character’s families. If they were important, they would make them a main character. If, after 13 episodes, some side character’s mom is sick, then fuck ‘em. I don’t care about your mother because the story doesn’t care enough about you. Understand?
- Bad CGI
This really only has happened a few times on the show (most notably, the fall Marwan takes out of a building in season four), but for a show that has a pretty large budget by TV standards, they need to avoid the pitfalls on making that mistake. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the stunts are awesome, but occasionally, it will look just too damn cheesy. The last one I can think of happened in season five, where they shot down the missile near the finale, and the explosion looked like something I could make in Photoshop.
- Stop leaving potential storylines unexplored
What ever happened to the people that Nina Myers worked for overseas in season one? How exactly were they connected with the Drazens’ that were so hellbent on killing Jack in every which way? The writers need to stop leaving certain storylines unanswered. In much the way season six never really addressed the fact that Jack’s family was basically a bunch of terrorists, they need to stop presenting ideas and never fully running with them or addressing them. Make a choice, stick to it, and ride it to the end. You cannot present eight story paths and only touch on a little bit of each.
- There are other cities besides Los Angeles
Seriously, stop attacking the same city already. There are tons of cities that have potential, and in season five they seriously went out of their way for that missile to try and hit L.A. Come on, people, pick a new city. In the world of Jack Bauer, Los Angeles needs a break.
For a show that has been on as long as 24 has, it is difficult to stay at the top of their game without running into previous patterns. Here are a few possible ideas on what could make the seventh season rock. So trying to run with the previously established notion created in the trailer, here they are:
WARNING!! The following does contain spoilers about season seven found in the trailer at the beginning of this column. Do not read ahead if you haven’t watched it.
- There needs to be a tragic ending this season. Season five killed nearly every character we knew, and there really is only Chloe and Buchanan left. Does Fox have the balls to end the show this season with Jack dying in the final episode? Probably not, since Kiefer’s contract extends past this year, but I would love to see a dark ending to the season, something we have not had since season two.
- There needs to be a huge twist. So we get it, we have to swallow the idea that Tony Almeida somehow faked his death, is angry at the world, and now has turned heel and wants money or something from the government that will help ease his pain. But the Tony-turned-terrorist twist can’t be the only one. In the end, will Jack have what it takes to kill his best friend? He did shoot Curtis down in the absolutely shocking four-hour season six premiere, but this is Tony, a friend and colleague from day one who has saved his life on more than one occasion. The battle between them has to be of epic proportions. What would make Jack kill Tony? Maybe Tony kills Kim, as that would be an uber-evil move, especially for Tony. If they don’t add a dynamic into this picture that I’m not seeing, it would be like that scene from Point Break all over again, where Jack lets Tony escape. Can Jack kill Tony?
- Film a huge car chase scene. There hasn’t been any epic Ronin or Bourne Supremacy-style car chases in this action series, and I think it is time for one. Can you imagine Jack Bauer behind the wheel of a super-sleek sports car going 200, in a massive shootout with cars crashing all over the place? Yeah, that would rock.
- Bauer needs to be on his own. Limit the calling to Chloe or whomever to get him out of a tight jam. We known he needs some help from time to time, but I want to see Jack fly solo, especially with CTU out of the picture. Jack being Jack, with no one to say he is breaking protocol.
- Up the ante with the torture scenes. I want more painful, sadistic and creative ways to hurt people. One of my personal favorites is when he is torturing Sayid-Ali in season two on what appears to be a live feed via satellite of Ali’s family. It then shows his son being executed. Not! The pretend game of “I kill your family” was absolutely brutal to watch. I can still hear Jack screaming, “TELL ME WHERE THE BOMB IS.” The torture scenes need to be improved in a big way.
- What if Jack has nothing to live for? If Kim somehow manages to die in this season, really, what would Jack have left? The end of season six cemented the fact that Jack will never ever be again involved romantically. His love life is dead, his wife is dead, he family is dead, can you imagine how insane Jack Bauer would be if Kim died? I think that would make for a crazy situation that would throw his logic out the window and he’d do something really fuckin’ stupid. Again, you would have to add something to make something, and that would involve killing his daughter. I am not sure the writers would do this though, but maybe they are saving that as a way to end this show. If the government was somehow accidentally responsible for his daughter’s death, that is really the only way I can see Jack killing the person responsible no matter what the cost, even his own life.
- Set a goal, and stick to it. After Bauer killed Fayed in season six, it seemed to deflate, as they then tried to incorporate that plot, the Chinese, and Bauer’s dad into the final stretch of the season. It was too much. If it is Jack vs. Tony, keep it that way until the finale. Sure, you can have pieces to get you there, but buildup is key. When you achieve that goal with 18 episodes, what the hell are you going to do with the last six episodes? You can’t throw in some last-second subplot and have that be the focal point for the finale. Pace the season properly, and have the Jack vs. Tony showdown end with the finale.
- Explore new avenues. Encrypted key cards, EMPs, security camera footage–this has been done before. The outline of the plot from the season seven trailer does remind one of Live Free or Die Hard, but there still are plenty of fresh angles to work with. If I can think of new avenues for the plot to move towards, I’d hope the writers can.
- People are now expecting the unexpected, because that is what the show is known for. You are always guessing and second guessing who could be bad or what will happen next. They need a Sixth Sense-ian trick to get the audience to watch where they point their wand, and have the truth somewhere hidden. It is going to be hard to do this after 144 episodes, but for this season to work, they better have something special up there sleeve.