Friday, January 15, 2010

What’s To Come In Season Eight of 24

I often come home after a long day (or evening) of work, collapse into my bed, and exclaim with tired frustration, “That was the longest day ever!”  Then I think about Jack Bauer, and suddenly things aren’t so bad.  The guy just can’t seem to catch a break.  People are always asking him for favors at the absolute worst time.

And Fox won’t retire the Republican Party’s favorite action hero.  No matter how many times Kiefer Sutherland gets drunk and tackles Christmas trees (or headbutts loudmouths) (or fails breathalyzer tests), the network continues to renew 24, even churning out a mediocre “movie” in between Seasons Six and Seven.

The real-time circus continues this Sunday (Jan. 17)  with a two-hour premiere event for Season Eight, which will be followed up by two more hours Monday evening.  Recent seasons also started with this four-hour content blast, which – supplemented by occasional two-hour Mondays scattered through the season – allows 24 to eschew a Winter hiatus and still wrap up nicely in the dinosaur of an industry tradition that is Sweeps.  It also means that the writers have begun spinning four-hour opening gambits meant to hook viewers in those first two evenings.  As someone who will undoubtedly be watching the entire season regardless of its quality, I couldn’t be more excited for the attention-grabbing absurdity that is sure to transpire.

In my December discussion of Jack Bauer’s influence on the Aughts, I briefly touched on the exponentially crazy circumstances in which Jack finds himself.  The writers, desperate to top previous seasons (keep in mind they detonated a nuke on U.S. soil in the second season), pile on the conspiracies and the explosions with only a casual regard for plausibility or narrative coherency.  And with Season Eight looking like it may be the end for 24, the staff will surely pull out all the stops.

Who knows what ludicrous plots twists await us in the coming months?  I certainly don’t!  But I do have a few educated guesses.  Hit the jump for my completely fabricated serious predictions for Season Eight of 24.

Starbuck Will Lead Jack Bauer To His Doom

"I'm sweaty and imposing!" Every season, 24 spices things up with the addition of a few guest stars.  Robocop showed up on Season Five.  Last year it was Janeane Garofalo.  Battlestar Galactica nerds everywhere should be excited for this year’s inclusion of Katee Sackhoff (who played Starbuck on the recent BSG reimagining).

Surely 24 execs cast her having seen her work on BSG.  Expect her to have a drinking problem, use fake tattoos to cover up her real-life tattoos, and sweat in every scene she can.

Or there could be more devious casting decisions at work.  Perhaps 24 and BSG are both in the same snow globe.  Starbuck will appear to Jack, whiney and perspiring, and tell him she knows the way back to Los Angeles.  Against everyone’s wishes, he’ll follow her, only to discover LA’s charred, radioactive remains.  When he turns to yell at her for being such a doom-bringing bitch, she’ll disappear into thin air.  Ta-da!

Freddie Prinze Jr. Will Play Freddie Prinze Jr.

Speaking of season guest stars, Freddie Prinze Jr. also joins 24 this year.  I don’t know or care what his character name is.  I’ve never known FPJ to play a character with a discernible name or personality (Fred in Scooby-Doo doesn’t count because his name is Fred), and I can’t imagine it will be any different on 24.

This is him "acting." There are probably business reasons for this.  Maybe there’s a clause in his contract that guarantees he only has to play himself.  I can only imagine the conversations between him and his agent:

A:  “Freddie, want to be in Wing Commander?” 
FPJ:  “Sure, what kind of role is it?” 
A:  “Well…it’s you – but in space!”
FPJ:  “Sign me up!”

It’s a safe bet that Jack will address him onscreen as “Freddie Prinze Jr.” instead of whatever cockamamie name the writers invented, assuming they didn’t just save themselves money on reshoots and name him FPJ in the first place.

Kim Bauer Will Be Kidnapped By A Crazy Mets Fan Who Thinks It’s Still 1987

If there’s a gene for bad luck, Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) definitely inherited it from her father.  She’s been kidnapped by her father’s enemies.  Her mom was shot by her dad’s ex-girlfriend.  She was chased by a puma into the fallout shelter of a horny, bomb-fearing hooplehead.  Her father chopped her boyfriend’s hand off.  Her dad then faked his own death and didn’t bother to tell her.  And she still loved him enough to donate stem cells to cure his magical nerve poisoning.Cue Price is Right HonWhat could possibly go wrong for her in Season Eight?  Well, the season takes place in New York City, so it’s only fitting that it should relate to the Big Apple.  My best guess is that some under-the-bridge-living hobo with a faded Mets cap will tie her up in the skeletal remains of  the now-defunct Shea Stadium and force her to marry him with a cardboard cut-out of Mookie Wilson officiating.

Jack will only be able to save her after torturing the aging Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner into giving up the hobo’s name and whereabouts.  The midseason story arc will come to a close when Jack catches the drifter, who is revealed to be a penniless, disoriented Lenny Dykstra.

Jack Bauer Will Finally Die…Of A Bladder Infection

I NEED TO USE THE BATHROOOOOOOOMIt won’t be the occasional gun shot wound that brings Jack down.  Or the mental stress of holding his dead, amnesiac wife in his arms.  Or being electrocuted.  Or his heroin addiction.  Or his crippling angina.  Or the physical stress of faking his own death to avoid the Chinese.  Or the torture he sustained at the hands of the Chinese.  Or the guilt of destroying his girlfriend’s mind.  Or ingesting coma-inducing toxic nerve gas.  (All of these things actually happened.)

After saving America from certain doom one last time, Jack’s bladder will explode and the resulting infection will eat him from the inside-out.  Don’t believe me?  Consider this: dude never pees.  Never.  Maybe he does on the intervening off days, but still.  After seven Incredibly Stressful Days, I can’t believe that his aging organs are up to the task of locking down bodily fluids for another Incredibly Stressful Day. 

Jack will go down this season.  And he only has his peculiar bathroom schedule to blame.