Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

’24′ Season Premiere: I Feel Bad About Saddam Hussein’s Neck


24-hour man Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) returns to defend the world from yet another apocalypse in Fox’s madly addictive suspense serial.
Jack’s mood on Day Six: aggrieved but unbroken. The nation’s: aggrieved and freaked out–the USA is under attack–again.
Naturally, the hero’s no worse for wear after twenty months in an Asian prison (at the end of season five, Jack Bauer and his cellphone voice were subject to extraordinary rendtion — by Chinese, not US, government agents — due to his role in a Season 4 attack on China’s consulate in Los Angeles. Without giving to much away: the first four hours of ’24’ echo both ROAD TO GUANTANAMO and the capture and trial of Saddam Hussein — right up to the final, most gruesome HD video and cellphone images. (Time to feel bad about someone’s neck? Not your own, anyway.)
Writes Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe: “24” perfectly captures the mood of America, so poised between global eruption and political farce. The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley also succumbs to the Fox network’s real-time drama

Along with constitutional rights, the show dives into questions of detention camps, torture, vigilantism, working with terrorists, and suicide bombing. It’s button-pushing at its most provocative. Even the opening shots of Jack fresh from 20 months in a Chinese prison have controversial echoes, as they sample the images of a bearded and bedraggled Saddam Hussein just after his capture. Also Sunday night, we see Jack torturing a guy while a huge American flag hangs behind them. That’ll get your heart going. But, much as I am compelled to watch “24,” and admire its craft, I find that I can’t take it seriously”

Yeah, yeah: Mobile-phone service is miraculously clear, CTU and enemy surveillance powers are godlike, and who knew that every President and key federal operative has mission-critical child, ex-lover or sibling who’s sleeping with a someone who might be a traitor.(“Are you sure you haven’t told another living soul about this. Perfect. Tell me where you are-I’ll be right over there to get you.“). Who knew that the American people would elect a second African-American president in a single decade– and the new guy’s so confident about his prospects that he dares to wear facial hair, a modified Fu Manchu,: a slim, sexy goatee.
Hilarious.. And essential TV.
Fox, Sunday, Jan. 14, 8-10pm, continues Monday Jan. 15 8-10pm.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon