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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

24 By The Balls

With the first four hours of the latest season of 24 behind Jack Bauer & Co., it's time to take a look at the characters this time around, both old and new. If you haven't seen 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. yet and you plan to, now might be a good time to stop reading.

I think pretty much every character can be placed into one of two categories. I'm not talking about good and evil here - besides being the obvious two categories, it's not always easy to tell who the good guys are this early in the season. I'm talking about balls and no balls.

Jack Bauer: Is there even a question here? The main man of 24 is so badass, even Jonny Zero wouldn't stand a chance against him (by the way, I give that show four episodes before FOX pulls the plug). I've often said that the three fictitious characters I'd most like to be are James Bond, Zack Morris, and Danny Ocean. I always waver about putting Jack on that list, but I always end up passing, because when you think about it, his life really sucks. Everyone he's ever close to always ends up in mortal danger, and he's happy for maybe a half hour, total, out of every season. So really, all he's got going for him is his badassness, which, in his case, totally overwhelms any shortcomings that might possibly cause you to think about disliking him. By the way, Jack went to UCLA for grad school, just like me. Look it up if you don't believe me.

Audrey Raines: No balls. If it wasn't for her, her dad would probably have pulled off that escape from the warehouse. But instead of picking up the gun and helping her dad out, she can't stop sobbing (in all fairness, I would probably be crying too if I was being held prisoner by terrorists). Plus, she might be turning Jack soft. She already made him say the L word.

James Heller: I have to admit, I wasn't a big fan of this guy early on, but the way he carries himself as a prisoner is pretty ballsy. Not only does he continue to insult his captors, he even tried to escape, using one of the guards' assault rifles as a weapon. If only he'd stop saying, "I am the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America," then maybe we'd really be in business with him. Hopefully, his character doesn't get whacked too early in the season.

Erin Driscoll: The verdict is still out on the new CTU director. On the one hand, she stands up to Jack. On the other hand, it doesn't accomplish anything at all. The real question is, how did someone with a BA in history from Bryn Mawr College become director of the Counterterrorist Unit? Clearly, I'm having too much fun with the online character bios.

Navi Araz: He's obviously got some balls, since he's spent nearly five years planning the latest terrorist attack that's sure to change the world. But who forces his teenage son to run terrorist missions for him? Get in the car and drive your frickin' briefcase to the warehouse yourself.

Dina Araz: Next to Jack, she's got the most balls of any of the show's characters so far. She's more cold-blooded than her husband. At least he openly admits to being a terrorist. She plays the role of caring mother, then orders her son to cap his girlfriend, and when he won't, slips some poison into the girl's drink (which was pretty easy to see coming). I have a feeling she will somehow run some kind of power play on her husband later this season.

Richard Heller: James Heller's wife must have been a complete wuss, because their son has even less balls than their daughter. He's a whiny hippie who protests against his father's war policies, then tries to pull the "My father is the Secretary of Defense" line out when he's being interrogated.

Behrooz Araz: The terrorists' kid has been pretty much beaten into submission by his parents, but at least he mustered up what courage he had to try to get his girlfriend to safety. He's another one who may or may not have balls, but it's probably irrelevant, because his parents will probably kill him when his conscience gets the better of him and tries to interfere with their master plan.

The other characters are (at least for the moment) kind of secondary to the plot, but I will mention that I wasn't sorry to see Ronnie Lobell, Jack's replacement at CTU, take a bullet. Obviously, his character wasn't meant to be likeable or important. But the weird thing is, aside from the fact that he couldn't last two hours, he acted just like Jack. He does Jack-like things in telling Jack straight up that he shouldn't be going to pick up the programmer from the train station with him, and he even pulls a gun on Jack and cuffs him to a pipe. That's exactly the kind of thing Jack would do...but when Jack does it, it's badass. When Ronnie did it, it was stupid. Think about that...what is it about Jack that makes you root for him?


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