Day Twenty-Four – The Usual Suspects Ruined in 24 Hours

24 01 2010

24 jumped the shark a long time ago, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting hooked every season. Predicting what’s coming has been worked down to a science. By trying to be too clever, it fell into a weird formula.

Basically, pick the least likely person to be the traitor; the boyfriend, the analyst, the CTU boss – that’s your terrorist. It’s the case almost without fail. Least likely is the most likely on 24.

It’s not just this show that has that routine. Prison Break did it to a ridiculous degree. Is that guard going to see them walking through the hallway? No, he’s not going to see them at all. Is that murderer going to attack them? No, he’s going to hold the door open and pat them on the back with a “good luck” for all.

The most famous example of this theory is The Usual Suspects. I didn’t see it until years after watching 24. My theory was on auto-pilot by the time Keyser Soze’s name was ever muttered to me. The theory took all of the excitement out of the picture. I was almost offended by how clear the twist was.

I realize that The Usual Suspects pre-dates 24, but the twists in 24 at least attempt to add relative complexity. You can be sure of your suspect, and you’d be right 90% of the time, but at least there is consistant misdirection.

Regardless of how easily the twists are dismantled, 24 remains entertaining based on their slight variations to the formula each season. They’ve finally accepted that fact; if the recaps on Fox’s YouTube channel are any indication. See them at the bottom of the post. They’ve fully embraced the ridiculousness of the show, knowing it’s become less the serious commentary on the war on terror and more of the popcorn entertainment it should have always been.

Few shows manage to keep my as on edge, ready to see the next hour as much as 24. Looking to take the mantle of the prime-time action movie is Human Target, which was the lead in for the premiere of this season of 24. The action is gritty and real. The effects are that of a blockbuster movie. Most importantly of all, the theory works to full effect.

Here’s the recap of last Sunday’s episodes of 24:

And the recap of last Monday’s episodes of 24:

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