Saturday, January 21, 2006

Crime of Convenience

Like most writers, I've got a list of things that, when they occur in the movie/TV show/comic that I'm ingesting, they just tick me off to no end. (The reason: a writer who's actually getting paid to write—and, what's more, having his work distributed to the masses—shouldn't be so damned lazy.) And I ran into my least favorite tick in the season premiere of 24.

(I'm coming to this now, and not, say, the day after it aired, because my life doesn't have the same windows of free-time opportunity that it used to, not with the two kids, full-time day job, part-time night job at the keyboard, and a wife that would like to, every now and again, exchange words with the man she married. So, forgive me if sitting through 240 minutes of 24 takes a while.)

Where was I? Ah, yes. The tick. It sticks in my craw something fierce when a character does something that's both out of character and totally illogical simply to further the story. The offender? If you'll remember, Jack Bauer has kidnapped the son of his very attractive landlord and dragged him along on his newest shoot-after-the-questions-are-asked-but-before-you-get-any-answers quest for justice. Jack's tracked the bad guys to a small Los Angeles airport and, rather than carry this 15-year-old teen baggage with him any longer, he calls for said hottie mom to meet him at the airport to pick up her spawn.

She does. Child hand-off occurs without incident. Jack heads into the airport to kick asses and take names. Mother and son are about to drive off when the teen, suddenly possessed of a keen eye for terrorist activity thanks to his 45 minutes spent with Jack, spots a van full of surly guys with luggage hopping out of a black van. (Nevermind that, technically, guys with luggage shouldn't look out of place airport.) But I'll spot them this kid's newfound malfeasance detector.

Now, since 24 first started it has been a show that utilizes the bleeding edge of technology. Satellite feeds. Thermal imaging. Radio-locator beacons. Blah blah blah. If not for the spy-tech, Jack would never have saved the world this time, and the time before last, and the time before that. Back to the kid, seeing bad shit about to go down in the building Jack just ran into. He feels the need to warn Jack. Keep in mind, we've already established that Jack has a cell phone and the hottie mom has a cell phone. So, what does the kid do? Does he give Jack a holler on the ol' celly? No.

He runs into the airport. Like a dick.

Why does he do this? Because the producers need him in there, need him to eventually become bait for Jack. And us, the audience, are left scratching our heads at the dumbest TV kid since, well, the last teenager on 24, Jack's daughter.

There must've been another way to get that kid into the airport without throwing character logic to the four winds. Or, hell, tell the story without the kid in the crosshairs. But the way it played out? Kind of insulting.

Of course, we'll have forgotten about it by the tenth episode when, as is the norm for 24, we reach the point where everything that's happened before doesn't matter.

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