cultural capital

The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Watch Jack Play Old Computer Games!

In Daily Intel’s 24 Absurd-o-Meter, we each week count down the most incredibly ridiculous (ridiculously incredible?) plot points in the last hour of Jack Bauer’s crappy day. This week: incredibly cheap-looking Atari-level special effects, a few words that can’t be said on 24, and some remarkably poor decision-making by bad guys and Bill Buchanan alike.

4. The bottomless cliff. The show totally drops the ball on last week’s cliffhanger, the fate of fruit-knife victim President Logan, last seen in an inattentively driven ambulance as his EKG flatlines. Is the guy alive? Viewers want to know about the smarmy ex-prez — shouldn’t at least one character on the show care too? Absurdity factor: 3 (out of 10)

3. Proper nouns? Who needs ‘em! Once again the show contorted itself to not name the Middle Eastern country that’s about to get nuked. “Abu Fayed’s country,” “their northern border,” “the ambassador”: Many words about this mystery country are spoken, yet nothing is said. That’s been mildly tolerable, until the writers decided to play the same trick with the drone’s secret target city: The terrorists mention the “target” repeatedly when talking among themselves, but they’re extra-careful to never say what the target is. So, what, they’re trying to keep each other in suspense? Absurdity factor: 3

2. Strange choices. A lumbering, gauze-wrapped Jack Bauer tells Bill Buchanan that no, dammit, he doesn’t want to get medical attention; he wants to lead the strike team at the terrorist hideout, conveniently located three blocks from CTU. (Note to bad guys: This is a bad neighborhood for a hideout.) Bill can see from Jack’s face that he really means it, and from his gauze and his copious, possibly oozing, scars, that he’s not in great shape. So Bill decides to put Jack in charge. Of course. Absurdity factor: 6

1. Penny-pinching. Six minutes in, as the “drone” took off (a triangle of light that kind of got smaller and then disappeared), viewers may have thought they’d just seen the cheapest special effects they would ever witness. Within the hour, they were proved wrong. The show’s climax featured Jack hunched over a joystick looking at some sub-Tron graphics and gamely grunting as he moves the stick to the right. Note the total lack of shots of this airborne drone, which apparently would’ve busted the budget. When they’re wringing suspense out of watching Jack play Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0, you know money was tight. Absurdity factor: 7

Bonus absurdity: The Aeroflot of telecom accessories, General Gredenko’s comically gigantic cell phone (pictured here) is back! Very stylish, tovarish.

The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Watch Jack Play Old Computer Games!