Tube Talk: 24 Reasons To Trust No One

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2002 01:25 PM
TUBE TALK With John T. Forde
24 Reasons To Trust No One
Sometimes, television gets so obsessed with being socially responsible, that it forgets one of its primary objectives: to entertain us.
Sure, TV can be the Great Educator. Watching wildlife programmes helped me fill in all the gaps in my Catholic school sex education, and I'll always be grateful to TV chefs Hudson & Hall for showing me what to do with leftover aubergine.
But, as the world grows grimmer and Lower Hutt starts to resemble the ‘hoods of South West LA, the appeal of TV as escapism grows more vital. And for pure adrenaline-pumping entertainment, there’s nothing better on the tube but "24" (screening on TV3, Mondays at 9.30pm).
For those not already in its compulsively watchable grip, "24" is a police-thriller drama set over a single day in Los Angeles. Each episode corresponds to a single hour in the day, complete with a digital clock ticking away on the screen.
Former Brat-packer Kiefer Sutherland (fresh out of rehab and looking as scarily Aryan as ever) plays cop Jack Bauer, whose wife and trampy daughter have been kidnapped. The kidnappers try to coerce Jack into assassinating David Palmer, an African-American presidential candidate. When Jack outwits them, it becomes a race against the clock to find his family before they’re executed. You go, white boy!
In the grand tradition of TV cops, Jack is dishy, deeply conflicted, shagging his female co-worker and not afraid to break the law if he has to. There's plenty of fun to be had watching Kiefer saying "I love you, honey" into his cellphone while rolling under cars or leaping barb-wire fences, all without mussing up his designer hair.
Snappily edited and with a cool retro 70s aesthetic, "24" is a technology-saturated Orwellian nightmare. Everyone's continually wired up to a cordless earphone yelling "Get me a CP5 now, dammit!" tracing calls with fancy-assed computers or spying on each other via surveillance cameras. Forget Big Brother watching you ­ everyone is watching everyone's back ­ and ass ­ in this show.
Great hair, mass paranoia, contract killing ­ in other words, a fairly accurate depiction of modern day Los Angeles. "24"'s genius lies in making you feel as paranoid as its characters. After an hour of twisting plots and goodies turning bad, I get the urge to turn off all the lights, grab a candlestick, kick open my flatmate’s bedroom door and yell, "Freeze, motherf*cker!"
As we're discovering, the worse the hairstyle, the more evil the character. Naturally, the kidnappers are all butt-ugly with receding hairlines. We knew Jamey the Hispanic computer hacker was a spy because she has a killer fringe and an overbite. "She's evil! Get her!" we chanted as we watched Jamey creep to the bathroom and tap evil instructions into her evil Palm Pilot.
Jamey comes to a bloody end. Or does she? Or is her fellow computer operator ­ the swarthily handsome Tony ­ in on her evil plans? Will Jack’s hair product fail him?
That's the fun of "24". You have no idea. Trust no one ­- except the people with good hair.

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