24 Gets Its Season 7 Scripts Rejected

TV Guide Online’s Michael Ausiello is reporting that “Fox programming executives have scrapped virtually the entire story line for next season’s 24 after rejecting plans for costly location shooting in Africa… Actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Chloe on the series, was quoted as saying, ‘I don’t know what’s going on over there, but they’re going crazy. … I don’t think we’re starting until a couple of weeks into August now. It’s kind of exciting, because I think it means that they’re really having to dig in there and come up with new stuff.'”

I have a checkered history as a viewer of 24. The show debuted in late 2001. 5185bnfy3yl_ss500_.jpgI started enjoying it as a cheesy time-waster in the shadow of 9/11; I liked the real-time aspect of it and the archetypical (that is to say, stereotypical) nature of the characters. I liked that people got killed and things got blowed up. I love political thrillers, I love cheesy political thrillers, I love it when things get blowed up.

But I remember telling friends at the time that “I love it, but it’s fucking garbage.” I described it then as being part of the “Good God, Mr. President!” subgenre of the political thriller, in which everyone says everything with impossible gravity and nobody ever cracks a smile unless they’ve popped a cork and they’re going stark, raving mad. “Good God, Mr. President!” is the Poughkeepsie dinner theatre in the genre where Fail-Safe, Seven Days in MayThe Manchurian Candidate, The Missiles of October and Advise and Consent are the Shakespeare. I would even give more recent offerings like The Day Reagan Was Shot and JFK a free pass on this one, because while they show the traits of melodrama that run rampant in 24… what do you expect? Political thrillers are melodrama, by their very definition. The stakes are high; with every scene, the fate of millions lies in the balance, and we’re supposed to get worked up — fuckin’ A, there are nukes involved, of course we’re worked up.

51dx6jqw4vl_aa240_.jpgBut 24 is bullshit. Six years ago, it started silly but strong. It came up with something that seemed edgy, dangerous and fresh in late 2001. Over the intervening 7 seasons, I have continued to suffer through 24, sometimes on the air, sometimes on DVD.

Half of that’s because I love bad pulp — headed to a desert island, I would pack six Mickey Spillane novels, some Robert E. Howard and the collected works of Lovecraft. But mostly I have stuck with 24 because I can’t take my eyes off it — it’s a slow-motion (EXTRA slow motion, much of the time) narrative car wreck, and you can see our nation’s soul being eviscerated by the steering column.

51q8gp0n31l_ss500_.jpgOh, don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about the fact that the show embraces torture as a tool of truth, to the point of coworkers interrogating other coworkers with torture one episode because they might have sent an incriminating email or, like, be a terrorist and stuff, then WHOOPS! That wasn’t actually your workstation, no hard feelings, right, and the characters in question are in dating six episodes later. (???) I’m not talking about the show’s demonizing of Middle Eastern and Asian characters, with half-hearted and ultimately laughable attempts to introduce characters of those ethnicities who play nice, presumably to deflect the inevitable howls of protest from the anti-defamation folks. I’m not even talking about its hyped-up sense of ultra-paranoia, its wholesale purchase of a world in which America lays spread-legged and helpless, with only people like Jack Bauer to stop the nut-busting kick that Ivan, Abdul, Mahmoud, Hans, Nigel, Chin, Paolo and Pierre are moments from delivering, with the help, of course, of their trusty and well-meaning American assistants Heartsoul, Moonblossom and Sanctimonious, who wring their hands and express outrage whenever a sensible cop decides to torture a suspect, but of course whimper like whipped dogs and curl up in a ball as soon as the Cyclosarin gets released into the nursery school.

No, no… I’m not going to play the liberal here, because I don’t really give a shit. 24 producer Joel Surnow and his right-wing fuckbuddies (Surnow also produces the Fox News Half-Hour News Hour and is a well known supporter of GW Bush) want you to believe that America is spread open for the taking, that those very values 514ge8h825l_ss500_.jpgthat make us “free” are the very weaknesses that give the Evil Doers their opening. Surnow and his friends want you to believe that “free” and “safe” are incompatible, that the First and Fourth Amendments are the two most powerful weapons in the terrorist arsenal. But all that, I forgive, because in watching a political thriller I expect to see a world where everything’s drawn in black and white and everybody really is out to get me.

No, what I’m referring to is that 24 is just BAD. It started in Season 1 with an impossible situation that I accepted because it was tense and edgy and moved forward with a relentless, if improbable, narrative pace. Season 2 was more of the same, and I got to see a nuclear weapon go off. (I love that).

Season 3… dude, no. You serious? Bioterrorism? Well, OK… I guess… By the end of Season 3, 24 had jumped the shark so thoroughly that I figured it was headed into Joanie Loves Chachi territory. But still, I retained some affection for it even as it got screamingly worse (like, The Heart is Deceitful worse) through Seasons 4 and 5.

Then came Season 6. Jack Bauer had been tortured in China or some shit. Jack’s girlfriend is dead, Galen Bradwarden is trying to talk the president into imposing martial law so Jim Jones can take over the country; meanwhile, Jack’s Dad, and… um… his brother… no, man, really? You’re shitting me… and seems Jack used to have a thing with his brother’s wife, and next thing I know Ricky Schroeder is torturing the hot Mexican chick, who is about as Syrian as Andy Garcia is Italian, and SPOILER ALERT Jack’s Dad was behind it all and that’s why the J-man had to smoke his own bro, but WAIT! It wasn’t Jack killed his brother after all … you are fucking shitting me. I’m supposed to believe all this crap for one damn second? This is like the climax of Clue, except this time it ain’t supposed to be a joke, and Tim Curry’s nowhere in sight, and there’s only one ending… one dull, boring, who-gives-a-shit ending, and why the hell did I stick around for it? Train wreck, that’s why. Everybody, or at least assholes like me, loves them some train wreck.

So… the buzz is that 24‘s writers got their Season 7 script rejected… why? Because it was too expensive, too improbable, too crappy?

How much worse than Season 6 could it be?

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