Tag Archives: Jack Bauer

Season Finale: Dexter – “The Getaway”

“The Getaway”

December 13th, 2009

When Dexter started its season, I spent a lengthy post comparing the show to 24, arguing that the show’s initial interest in Dexter as a psychological case study has been all but eradicated by seasons which have turned the show into your basic serial thriller that fails to take into account just how complex the character truly is. The show took two seasons to establish that Dexter is someone who has a code, and who kills those who deserve to be killed, and now it has taken that stock character and turned him into the blood analyst equivalent of Jack Bauer, happening to find himself wrapped up in compelling cases each and every season that speak to Dexter more than something wholly random but often do so in a superficial way. And like 24, these situations can often be quite compelling, but if you stop and think about the real potential in this character and the series you can’t help but feel that all involved could do better.

If we choose to accept that this is all Dexter is going to be, the fourth season has been quite solid, benefitting from a terrific and terrifying performance by John Lithgow as Arthur Mitchell, also known as the Trinity Killer. And much as 24’s fifth season was one of its strongest due to the amount of time spent crafting Gregory Itzin’s President Logan into a complex antagonist, the show works infinitely better when it takes the time to create a character that can give us chills, and who brings out interesting shades in Dexter’s character. So long as we ignore how convenient it is that Trinity is based in Miami, the consequences (like Jennifer Carpenter’s fine work post-shooting, like more time with Keith Carradine, etc.) are quite engaging, and viewed on their own represent some great dramatic television.

But they’re surrounded by a show that can’t help but call attention to its faults, and how those faults could have been prevented. Harry Morgan, once an integral part of the series’ mythos, has devolved to the point of serving as an exposition tool, a physical representation of Dexter’s self-conscience that the writer aren’t even willing to define as either angel or devil because they’re afraid that question would be too complex to handle. The supporting characters, like Batista and LaGuerta, are given stories that are literally just excuses for them to remain in the cast. Rita and her kids, once a beard for Dexter’s inner emptiness, have become a way for the show to investigate fidelity and suburban life, but never in a way that feels like it goes beyond melodrama.

“The Getaway” takes a lot of these elements and puts them to good use, unearthing Dexter’s bloody past in a way which feels organic and concluding the Trinity arc with the sort of momentum that the show is so very good at developing. And in its conclusion, which is in fact truly game-changing, there contains the DNA for the show to reinvent itself, to send it down a darker and more complex path that harkens back to the show’s first season.

And I’d be a hell of a lot more excited if I thought that was actually going to happen.

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I’m Just Not That Into You: Addressing 24 Season 7

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“I’m Just Not That Into You”

Addressing 24 Season 7

On a quiet sunday evening, with television in repeats and still recovering from a bout with strep throat, I did what I’ve been putting off for two weeks: I sat down and watched the first five episodes of 24’s seventh season.

I had considered not bothering, you know. Part of me thought that, like with its timeslot competitor Heroes, it might be better left alone. But there is a part of me that was still curious, still wondering what the show considered a reasonable reboot from a disastrous sixth season. And so I decided to spend some time with Jack Bauer as he fight yet another threat in what is likely to be the show’s penultimate season.

I had thought there would be two likely outcomes. First, I could actually really get hooked on the show, going back to my old routine and that I’d currently be watching the sixth episode as opposed to writing this reaction piece. Second, I could be even more opposed to the show than I was before, and retreat back into the bitter cynicism with which I have approached my more recent criticism of the series.

Surprisingly, at least to me, I had neither reaction: I do not feel that the seventh season is without merit, nor does it lack a certain awareness of the show’s recent string of problems. Instead, it addressed some major concerns while providing a 24 that is very back to basics, zombie Tony or no zombie Tony. But at the same time, I don’t care about it. I can’t muster any enthusiasm of any sort, positive or negative, a sign that my tuning out towards the end of season six was driven not only by the show’s quality but by my own changing tastes and interests.

I’m just not that into 24 anymore, I guess…but let’s take a look at the seventh season anyways.

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Why I’m watching the Golden Globes instead of 24

globesFrom the title alone, this seems like it’s going to be one of my usual long-winded essays on the situation at hand, lengthy paragraphs on the sheer entertainment value of drunk Jack Nicholson heckling acceptance speeches and detailed analysis of my frustrations with season six of 24.

But when it comes to these two particular pieces of television programming, I have no powerful feelings in either direction: I do not despise 24, I do not love the Golden Globes, and yet I am deciding to watch the former.

The reason is really quite simple: the Golden Globes is capable of surprising me and I don’t really feel as if 24 is able to do the same. The Golden Globes, should the various awards go in directions surprising and different from expectations, have the chance to change the ongoing Oscar race, while 24 is unlikely to head in any direction that we would consider surprising (perhaps if they hadn’t spoiled their own “Yes, we’re desperate enough to resurrect a dead character,” this might be different).

I’m actually, by comparison, excited for the Golden Globes – I’ve obviously seen Slumdog Millionaire, so I’m rooting for it in its major categories, but there are some other big questions at stake especially in terms of acting momentum (where only really Supporting Actor (Ledger) is looking secure). Plus, with no musicals or comedies in contention for the eventual Oscar for Best Picture, it will be intriguing to see where the Globes go in terms of Musical/Comedy picture. And this is only on the cinema side, where my interest clearly doesn’t always lie: the television nominees weren’t that impressive, but I am nonetheless curious to see what hilarious impression of the current television landscape the HFPA comes up with.

24season7I have every intention on watching the seventh season of 24, but my priorities are for the things I know I will enjoy and that I know have some potential to be surprising. So tonight, I’ll be liveblogging the Golden Globes, and tomorrow night I will be watching How I Met Your Mother. If the seventh season gets off to as good a start as some of the reviews indicate, then that’s wonderful: I’ll be able to catch up later in the week when I’m not busy rewatching Battlestar Galactica Season 4.0 in order to prepare for Friday’s premiere.

However, if 24 is higher on your TV viewing hierarchy than it is on mine, I simply hope that it does not disappoint: I may be heading into this season with a fairly critical view of the show’s potential, but I would never begrudge anyone their enjoyment of what remains to an extent a well-produced piece of television with a solid central performance.

Season 7 of 24 begins its two-night, four hour premiere tonight, Sunday January 11th, on FOX (and Global, in Canada) at 8/7c, continuing at the same time tomorrow; the Golden Globes, meanwhile, start at 8/7c (with a red carpet special airing the hour before) on NBC (CTV).

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