Jack Bauer’s use of torture on suspects has been a running joke, our columnist says.


WE HAVE WAYS OF MAKING YOU TALK: Jack Bauer’s enthusiastic use of torture on suspects has been a running joke since the second season of 24, but things went into overdrive recently after a years-long series of magazine features/newspaper op-eds/blog postings on the subject finally got the U.S. military to weigh in that they weren’t too crazy about Jack’s overeager use of whatever gun, knife, electrical outlet or kitchenware might be handy to extract information from whatever terrorist, mole, collaborator or standards and practices lawyer that got in his way.


Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan of West Point Military Academy apparently traveled to California to talk to the show’s producers late last year, and told the New Yorker that “I'd like them to stop. They should do a show where torture backfires... The kids see it and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24'?”

Articles like the New Yorker piece have kept the pressure on the show, and apparently they’ve capitulated, according to a piece in the Philadelphia Enquirer. They insist, however, that the decision is a creative one, made in the interest of the show’s plausibility. “What was once an extraordinary or exceptional moment is starting to feel a little trite,” said executive producer Howard Gordon. “The idea of physical coercion or torture is no longer a novelty or surprise.”

“It's not something that we, as writers, want to use as a crutch. We'd like to find other ways for Jack to get information out of suspects," said Gordon. "Our appetite has decreased. Personally, I think the audience may be tiring of it as well. My wife says it's too much.”

Which makes you wonder just what Gordon will do when his wife turns to him as the credits roll on hour nineteen, and says, while stretching and picking up her empty Lucky Louie coffee mug, “You know what I think Jack should do? I think Jack should just cap President Palmer, and anyone else who gets in the way. Just start shooting and busting kneecaps and worry about the consequences after the smoke clears. I’m kinda getting tired of this whole haunted girly man thing, you know. Just a thought.”

ARTLESS: “"People say, 'You're not A&E anymore,' " said A&E network chief Abbe Raven in an interview with USA Today previewing its spring lineup . "We are; we're still entertainment. But ‘arts’? Not so much.”

Youngsters might not recall the days when A&E was like PBS lite, full of British imports and documentary programming, before it became the network home of Sopranos reruns, Gene Simmons, Criss Angel and Dog the Bounty Hunter. Time for a new name, I think – how about Lifetime for Dudes.