Believe Care Invest: 24

Why Jack might be hard to identify with: 
  • Not much reason yet. We can’t guess yet that he’s a torture-crazy psychopath (as opposed to the second season opener, which puts that front and center.)
  • It’s fascinating how soft Jack is in these opening minutes. He seems about to lose chess to his daughter and lets himself be emotionally manipulated by her, admits that to his wife and agrees to change, gets humiliated by Kim’s disappearance, doesn’t really want to go into work... It’s the most emotionally vulnerable he’ll be in the series, his last chance to really seem human.
  • His daughter disappears at five minutes in. He then gets called into work, upsetting his wife. His employees are more interested in playing politics than getting the work done.
  • Treating kids like adults is always likeable and we start with him playing chess with his teen daughter.
  • He calls and threatens Kim’s ex-boyfriend in a bad-ass way.
  • When he gets to work, he starts to become the take-charge guy we know and love. “I don’t care how it’s interpreted, I just gave you an order and I want you to follow it.”
Five Es
  • Eat: Jack will soon become famous for his ability to never eat, but he does have a pudding here. Hope that’ll last you for 24 hours, Jack!
  • Exercise: There’s a weight-lifting set-up in the room with him, but he’s playing chess instead. He’ll get plenty of exercise eventually, of course.
  • Economic Activity: He gets called in to work at midnight and reluctantly goes.
  • Enjoy: He’s kind of enjoying chess, I guess.
  • Emulate: He says he’ll try to parent in the way his wife wants, then tries to be the sort of work supervisor his boss would want.
Rise above
  • By halfway in, he will shoot a senior officer in the interest of justice.
High five a black guy
  • The show is about him trying to stop the assassination of a black presidential candidate, seemingly targeted by racists within Jack’s agency.
  • He’s sensitive to his wife’s needs.

24: The Archive

No, I’m not going to update these TV checklists, just archive the posts, if that’s okay.  Can we all pretend the most recent season of this show never happened?  Good!

    Rulebook Casefile: Predicting National Pain in “24”

    As writers, it’s our job to keep our ears to the ground. As one commenter (okay, fine, it was mom) put it on the post for Bright Young Things
    • Waugh saw WWII coming the same way Kafka saw the Holocaust coming, Fitzgerald saw the Crash coming, Tolstoy saw the Russian Revolution coming, and Chaucer and Dante saw the Reformation coming. A good writer, being a careful observer, is going to be good at observing the direction things are headed in.
    Nowhere was this more shockingly obvious than in the case of 9/11. Most obviously, Tom Clancy predicted an extremely similar attack in his 1994 novel “Debt of Honor”, but there were also several eerily prescient images set for release the month of the attacks…
    • Both “24” and “Alias” were shows debuting that September about US antiterrorism squads facing off stateless terror organizations, and they both had to edit their pilots after the attacks.
    • In comics, “X-Men”, “Superman” and “The Dark Knight Rises” all had storylines published that month in which planes crashed into skyscrapers to launch apocalyptic attacks.
    • And of course, this album was released a few days before the attacks.
    Tapping into real life national pain doesn’t just mean saying “Hey, remember that thing that just happened, I’m going to give it a shout-out”. It also refers to giving voice to the fears, doubts, anger, and violence lurking under the surface of our modern life, and considering what dangers might be about to erupt.

    Rulebook Casefile: Character Descriptions in the “24” Pilot Script

    This one doesn’t come from the “24” pilot itself, but from the screenplay, which I read for this week of posts and is easily available online. As I said here, I don’t talk a lot on this blog about screenwriting prose description, but it’s very important, both for making a script compulsively readable and for positioning it in the marketplace.

    One thing I mentioned there is the very tricky business of descriptive character introductions. On the one hand, screenwriters are theoretically supposed to avoid “invisibles”, where we describe things that can’t be seen onscreen, but in practice we can get away with these in certain situations, most notably in character introductions, where they’ve actually become fairly mandatory.
      Producers, directors, and especially potential actors want to see a little description of each major character as that character is introduced, but these are tricky:
      • There’s no point in describing the character physically with any specificity, because they want to send it out to different types of actors.
      • You don’t want to include any specific backstory here, because that’s too much of a violation of the rules.
      • But what you will want to do is describe the character’s “type”.
      Stretch the bounds of what qualities the actor might be able to evince in this introductory shot. The “24” pilot script does a good job with this when introducing Jack’s family in the opening scene.  This is how you do it:
      • TERI BAUER, mid-thirties, attractive, a former free spirit tempered by parenthood, works on a laptop, web-designing a logo for a corporate client.
      • KIMBERLY BAUER enters. She’s 16, striking, moody – not as tough as she acts but not about to admit it.
      • JACK BAUER, 35, is at an exercise machine. Rock music pounds from a boom box on the floor. Jack’s body and face are younger than his age, his eyes a bit older. He’s up-front, physical, charismatic; men generally hate him or love him, women tend to love him. His natural, don’t-screw-with-me expression softens as Kimberly enters…
      These descriptions also speak to the difference between problems and flaws. You’re describing these people perceptively but not harshly. You’re pointing out their contradictions, but you’re doing so sympathetically. Your empathy for your character needs to begin here.

      You have a big job to do.  First, fickle script-readers will ask themselves, “Do I really want to read about this character for the next hour?”  Then a producer will ask, “Do I want to spend the next year of my life begging actors to play this part?”  Then, of course, actors will read it and ask, “Do I really want to be this person for seven years?”  Can your character introductions withstand that scrutiny?

      How to Create a TV Show, Addendum: Create Sparks

      Two long-running shows had their big series finales the same week. As hard as it is to believe now, I still thought “Lost” would pull out of its skid and deliver a powerful, tear-jerking finale…but I had no such hopes for “24”. So imagine my shock when the “Lost” finale just made me want to spit on my TV screen, and the “24” finale actually made me tear up a little bit! It was, of course, this line from Jack to Chloe…
      • “When you first came to CTU, I never thought it was gonna be you that was gonna cover my back all those years. And I know that everything that you did today was to try and protect me, I know that. Thank you.”
      As we discussed yesterday, “24” had a big problem: the exposition scenes at CTU were lifeless, putting too much of the show’s burden on Jack’s adventures in the field. Then the show made an unlikely but inspired casting choice, hiring “Mr. Show” vet Mary Lynn Rajskub to play a prickly new computer tech. They probably assumed that, like most other CTU employees, Chloe wouldn’t last a full year, but instead, she proved the value of a livewire character.

      We’ve already discussed the value of creating potential energy, the need to have an at least partially polarized ensemble, and the need to have an unsafe space, but now I realize that there’s a fourth factor at the intersection of these three. You need electricity. You need characters that can’t help but spark off each other…or one character who can’t help but spark off of everybody. Here are some ways to do that…
      • The most obvious way is sexual tension: We talked about this in the post on “Potential Energy” but value of romances isn’t just what might happen, it’s to set the floor with electricity from the get go. On “24”, Jack has to work with his ex-mistress, but that doesn’t provide the spark it should because there’s zero sexual tension remaining. Compare this to “Cheers”, where Sam and Diane can’t get one word out that isn’t about sexual rivalry.
      • A polarized pair or trio who can’t resist needling each other: I made this graphic awhile ago showing the difference between the first two “Star Trek” shows. It’s important to have characters with different approaches to their jobs, but it’s even better if they’re electrically polarized: unable to resist sparking off each other with almost every line.
      • A universally abrasive character: And then there’s Chloe and her (much more three-dimensional) descendant, Carrie in “Homeland” (a show co-created by “24” vets). Obviously, you have to make it very clear why these hostile characters are so super-competent that they can’t be fired, but once you’ve established that, audiences will love them, tingling with glee whenever a new blowhard character is about to blindly walk into the buzzsaw and get shredded.
      The great thing about Chloe was that she could make whole chunks of exposition interesting: she would deliver dialogue about computers and protocols with such withering contempt that it was fun to watch (and meanwhile told us everything we needed to know.)

      Straying From the Party Line: No POV Character in 24

      “24” was obviously groundbreaking TV in many ways, but let’s look at two less-obvious ways that it broke with tradition…
      • Deviation #1: There’s no POV character in either setting.
      • The Problem: In shows such as these, there’s almost always someone who’s just starting his or her first day on the job, allowing us to get the know the staff and their mission.
      • Does the Show Get Away With It? Yes, and it’s very clever. Each of the two settings provides a brief POV of the other: We see the people at CTU discuss the Palmer campaign, who everybody is and what it means, then we see the Palmer campaign discuss the role of CTU. The split-frame technique also helps here, because they allow the people in one location to talk about the people in another location while showing both locations at the same time, which makes everything much clearer.  This is a neat trick and spares us the burden of the bumbling rookie, who wouldn’t be much use to either story after serving as our POV.  (The show also makes use of onscreen titles telling us where we are and even who some people are, which is an old-fashioned device that still works just fine.)
      But wait, that still leaves...
      • Deviation #2: The pilot script couldn’t attract strong actors except the leads.
      • The Problem: The co-heroes of “24” were both played by excellent underused movie stars…so that’s great, right? Well, the problem is that a script has to not only attract a strong hero or co-heroes, it also has to have supporting roles that are strong enough to attract great talent…and this script lacks that. Tony and Nina, for instance, are weak roles on the page, and so they attracted weak actors, who would each hold the show back for years (even after Nina abruptly turned evil, they kept bringing her back.)
      • Does the Show Get Away With It? No. This was another reason there always had to be a mole in CTU: Jack had to get out of there because the storylines there were never lively enough. This wouldn’t change until the third season, with the introduction of Chloe, the abrasive computer tech played by Mary Lynn Rajskub, one of a long line of TV guest stars who stuck around and gradually rose to co-starring status, as well she should.
      We’ll talk more about her role tomorrow, and why every show needs one…

      The Ultimate TV Pilot Checklist: 24

      Hard-ass Jack Bauer works for CTU, the Counter-Terrorism Unit, while trying to control his rebellious daughter Kim. His co-workers include his ex-mistress Nina and surly Tony. They’re dealing with a threat to the life of presidential candidate David Palmer, who is in LA for the California primary with his wife, son, daughter, and campaign manager. Meanwhile, a photographer and a girl named Mandy flirt on a plane, then Mandy blows it up and sky-dives out.
      The Pitch: Does this concept excite everyone who hears about it?
      Does the concept satisfy the urges that get people to love and recommend this type of series?
       The concept does, but not quite the pilot, which is low on spy action.
      Does the series establish its own unique point of view on its setting?
       Very much so: the real-time device.
      Is there a central relationship we haven’t seen in a series before?
       Yes: federal agent and his ex-mistress / co-worker.
      Does the ongoing concept of the series contain a fundamental (and possibly fun) ironic contradiction?
       Yes, the high-minded world of politics will be contrasted every week with the down and dirty world of anti-terrorism.
      Does the concept meet the content expectations of one particular intended network, venue, or audience?
       Yes, rebellious partying teens and a republican hero were both Fox staples.
      Even if the setting is unpleasant, is there something about this premise that is inherently appealing? (Something that will make the audience say, “Yes, I will be able to root for some aspect of this situation to recur episode after episode.”)
       Yes, we stand up and cheer for Jack several times.
      Series Fundamentals: Will this concept generate a strong ongoing series?
      Is there one character (or sometimes two, in separate storylines) that the audience will choose to be their primary hero (although these heroes should probably be surrounded by an ensemble that can more than hold their own)?
       Yes, two, Jack and Palmer.
      If this is a TV series, is the hero role strong enough to get an actor to abandon a movie career, come to work in TV for the first time, and sign a five-year contract before shooting the pilot? (And even if not for TV, is the hero role still that strong, simply for narrative purposes?)
       Yes for both: this was Keifer Sutherland’s first TV after a long movie career.  Dennis Haysbert had a much more modest movie career, but this was also his first TV.
      Is the show set in an unsafe space?
       Yes, Jack is betrayed both at home and at the office right away
      Is this a setting that will bring (or has brought) different economic classes together?
       Yes, we have elite euro-assassins and dopey high-school dropouts brought together in the same conspiracy.
      Will trouble walk in the door on a regular basis?
       Very much so: they get the call whenever anything goes wrong anywhere on the west coast!
      Will the heroes be forced to engage in both physical and cerebral activity on a regular basis?
      Are there big stakes that will persist episode after episode?
       Oh my yes.
      Will the ongoing situation produce goals or mini-goals that can be satisfactorily resolved on a regular basis?
       No to goals, a provisional yes to mini-goals.
      The Pilot: Will this pilot episode be marketable and generate word of mouth?
      Does the pilot contain all of the entertainment value inherent in the premise (rather than just setting everything up and promising that the fun will start next week)?
       Not really!  Shockingly, this is a very mild pilot compared to the show in general.  Partially because of the real-time set-up, they just can’t get Jack doing much yet.  He’s still stuck in the office reacting when the episode ends!  No mission!  No killings!  It’s shocking.
      Does the pilot feature an image we haven’t seen before (that can be used to promote the show)?
       Yes, the digital clock, the plane exploding, (although they had to cut because of 9/11 on original airing).
      Is there something bold, weird, and never-before-seen about this concept and/or pilot? 
       Very much so.  It was totally unlike anything that came before it.
      Is there a “HOLY CRAP!” scene somewhere along the way in the pilot (to create word of mouth)?
       Yes, blowing up the plane, Jack shooting his co-worker.
      Does the pilot build up potential energy that will power future episodes (secrets that will come out, potential romances, etc.)?
       Yes, lots, it’s almost all potential energy.
      Even if this is episodic, is there a major twist or escalation at the end (though sometimes this twist will only be new to, or only revealed to, the audience) that will kick future episodes up a notch?
       Tons of them: Who is Mandy?  Where are the guys taking the girls?  Etc.
      Believe: Do we recognize the hero (or co-heroes) as human?
      Does the hero have a moment of humanity early on? (A funny, or kind, or oddball, or out-of-character, or comically vain, or unique-but-universal “I thought I was the only one who did that!” moment?)
       It’s an odd choice for an opening scene: Jack is muted, unfunny, untough, and not very interesting in his first scene.  It’s not really until he calls Kim’s ex and snarls “That’s real comforting, knowing I’ve got your ‘word’,” that we get a glimpse of the real Jack.  I suspect that this is why they moved up the Palmer intro first, (even though he has little to do in this episode, and having that scene there meant that Jack had to drive to work in exactly 90 seconds!)  Palmer has a much stronger intro, joking with his subordinates that “historic occasion” sounds like a brunch.
      Does the hero have a well-defined public identity?
       Yes: Jack the badass, Palmer the winner.
      Does that ironically contrast with a hidden interior self?
       Yes: Jack feels weak and wounded as a father, Palmer seems to sense an abyss opening up beneath him.
      Does the hero have three rules he or she lives by (either stated or implied)?
       Jack: Speak truth to power, Be in control, Kick ass, Palmer: Be forthright, Do it yourself, be human.
      Does the hero have a consistent metaphor family (drawn from his or her job, background, or developmental state)?
       Jack: Military: “I don’t care how it’s interpreted on the outside, I just gave you an order and I’d like you to follow it.”
      Palmer: preacher “Thank you angel”
      Does the hero have a default personality trait?
       Jack: brusque (he’s trying to change that but he can’t), Palmer: tough-but-gentle.
      Does the hero have a default argument tactic?
       Yes, Jack asks nicely, then applies the thumb-screws, wants to have the info in advance, then nail you with it.  Palmer: appeals to your higher nature.
      Care: Do we feel for the hero (or co-heroes)?
      Does the hero have a great flaw that is the flip side of his or her great strength?
       Jack: Reckless, distant from family, Palmer: hints of anger, insists on shouldering burdens alone.
      Does the hero feel that this flaw cannot be resolved until it’s time to abandon the world of the show?
       Very much so.
      Does the flaw resonate with the theme and/or setting of the show?
       Yes, their flaws show the schism at the heart of America’s foreign policy.
      Invest: Can we trust the hero (or co-heroes) to tackle this challenge?
      Does the hero have a great strength that is the flip side of his or her great flaw?
       Jack: honesty, toughness, Palmer: humility, gravity, forthrightness.
      Is the hero good at his or her job (or family role, if that’s his or her primary role)?
       Yes for both.  We admire Palmer’s speechwriting advice.
      Is the hero surrounded by people who sorely lack his or her most valuable quality?
       Yes: Jack: everybody else is more focused on covering their ass than doing the job, Palmer, everybody else is trying to build him up, but he’s trying to stay humble.
      Is the hero curious?
       Yes, Jack and Palmer are both micro-managers, peeking under rocks.
      Is the hero generally resourceful?
       Yes, very much so.
      Does the hero use unique skills to solve problems (rather than doing what anybody else on the show would do)?
       Yes, Jack has special knowledge of Mason, and of Kim’s ex-boyfriends, Palmer knows how to shut down the press.
      Powerful: Is each member of the ensemble able to hold his or her own?
      If this is a network TV series, are there at least two more roles that are strong enough to get TV veterans to sign their own five-year contracts? (And even if not for TV, are the characters still that strong, simply for narrative purposes?)
       No.  The rest of the cast were all unknowns and weren’t very strong. (Xander Berekely is an exception in both cases, but he was supposed to be a guest.  They smartly brought him back often.)
      Are all of the other regular roles strong enough on the page in this first episode to attract great actors? (ditto)
       No, not yet.  The caliber of actors got better as the season progressed, adding TV vet Zvelko Ivanek and movie vets Lou Diamond Philips and Dennis Hopper.
      Does each member of the ensemble have a distinct and defensible point of view?
       No.  Bauer and Palmer don’t meet much resistance yet.
      Is each character defined primarily by actions and attitudes, not by his or her backstory?
       Yes, Jack’s complicated past with Terri and Nina is in the background, and not how either is defined.
      Do all of the characters consciously and unconsciously prioritize their own wants, rather than the wants of others? (Good characters don’t serve good, evil characters don’t serve evil.)
       No, but Jack and Palmer both try to serve good for good’s sake, but each is so obsessive about doing it in the way that he wants to do it, even if it infuriates everybody else, that it’s almost more of a fetish for each rather than true selflessness.  The villains have believable motivations, as we’ll find out later.
      Do most of the main characters have some form of decision-making power? (And is the characters’ boss or bosses also part of the cast, so that major decisions will not be made by non-regulars?)
       Very much so, Jack is the onsite boss at CTU, and he’s told by a visiting supervisor that he should be judgmental of his other superiors!  Palmer is very much the decider as well.
      Balanced: Do the members of the ensemble balance each other out?
      Whether this is a premise or episodic pilot, is there one point-of-view who needs this world explained (who may or may not be the hero)?
       No.  We just jump right in.  Onscreen titles give us a lot of information we need, and overlapping video, in which one character describes another situation, and we get overlapping video as we cut to that situation, which is a neat trick, since it means that we don’t have to have people in the same location describe each other, which would make less sense.
      Does it take some effort for the POV character to extract other characters’ backstories?
       NA: There’s no POV character.
      Are the non-3-dimensional characters impartially polarized into head, heart and gut (or various forms of 2-way or 4-way polarization)?
       Bauer and Palmer are two-way polarized into reckless brutal efficiency and thoughtful high-minded caution.
      Does each member of the ensemble have a distinct metaphor family (different from the hero’s, even if they’re in the same profession)?
       Not really.  A lot of the dialogue not spoken by the main heroes is functional and/or generic.  Underwritten CTU employees would be a problem until Chloe was introduced in the third season.
      Does each member of the ensemble have a different default personality trait?
       Nina: dedicated, Tony: surly, Kim: rebellious, Teri: resentful.
      Does each member of the ensemble have a different default argument tactic? 
       Tony: Demands info in quid pro quo,
      Kim: lies, divide and conquer with parents,
      Sherry: exaggerated affection hiding shrewd calculating.
      Is there at least one prickly character who creates sparks whenever he or she appears?
       Not yet.  Chloe will be introduced in season three, and she’ll be a huge gust of fresh (and nasty) air.
      PART 4: IS THE PILOT EPISODE A STRONG STAND-ALONE STORY AND GOOD TEMPLATE FOR THE ONGOING SERIES? (20/22)                                                                
      Template: Does this match and/or establish the standard format of this type of series
      Does the pilot have (or establish) the average length for its format?
       Yes. It’s just 42 minutes.

      If this is intended for a form of commercial media, does the pilot have the right number of commercial breaks for its intended venue?
       Yes, at the time, three.  (Alas, it would be five or six today)
      If this is intended for commercial TV, does every act end on a cliffhanger or escalation, especially the middle one (and, if not intended for commercial TV, does it still have escalations happening in roughly the same places, simply for narrative purposes)?
       Yes.  1st: we see the assassin.  Midpoint: Jack shoots his boss (not for the last time on this show!) 3rd: Palmer gets seemingly-catastrophic phone call.
      Does the pilot establish the general time frame for most upcoming episodes of this series?
       Yes: exactly one hour each week.
      Do all of the pilot’s storylines intercut believably within that time frame?
       Yes, they all take a turn for the worse almost simultaneously at the end (nothing climaxes yet, of course.)
      If this is a premise pilot, is the basic premise established by the midpoint, leaving time for a foreshortened typical episode story in the second half?
      Pilot Story Fundamentals: Does the pilot episode have a strong story?
      Does the pilot provide at least one satisfactory stand-alone story (even if that story is just the accomplishment of a mini-goal)?
       Yes, “24” usually did a good job at this, (better than, say, “Hostages”): In this episode, Jack gets the source from Mason, which was his mini-goal for the episode.
      Is this episode’s plot simple enough to spend more time on character than plot?
       Not really.  A ton of plot to get through here.
      Is the pilot’s challenge something that is not just hard for the hero to do (an obstacle) but hard for the hero to want to do (a conflict)?
       Yes, Jack really wants to be out searching for his daughter tonight.
      First Half: Is the problem established in a way that reflects human nature?
      Does the hero start out with a short-term goal for this episode?
       Yes, deal with his daughter.
      Does a troubling situation (episodic pilot) or major change in the status quo (premise pilot) develop near the beginning of the episode?
       Two, first she disappears, then he gets called in for a crisis at work.
      Does the hero eventually commit to dealing with this situation personally?
       Yes, he hands off the first so that he can commit to the second, but keep working on the other one too.
      Do the hero’s efforts quickly lead to an unforeseen conflict with another person?
       Yes, he’s outfoxed on the home front by his daughter, and finds out some of his bosses at work don’t want the assassination stopped.
      Does the hero try the easy way throughout the second quarter?
       Yes, he trusts Terri to find Kim, confronts Mason directly.
      Does this culminate in a major midpoint setback or escalation of the problem (whether or not there’s a commercial break)?
       Yes, he can’t get what he wants from Mason and shoots him.  Kim situation doesn’t get worse, but he does look at her picture right at the act break.
      Second Half: Is the mini-goal resolved as the ongoing trouble escalates?
      Does the hero try the hard way from this point on?
       Yes, he blackmails his boss, has his colleague crack Kim’s password.
      By halfway through, are character decisions driving the plot, rather than external plot complications?
       No.  Tons of plot keeps arriving.
      Are the stakes increased as the pace increases and the motivation escalates?
       Yes, Mason could wake up any second.
      Does a further setback force the hero to adopt a wider view of the problem?
       Yes, first for Palmer with the phone call, then for Jack when the plane blows up.
      After that setback, does the hero finally commit to pursuing a corrected goal?
       Yes, Jack gives up on looking for Kim and focuses on the bigger crisis.
      Before the final quarter of the story begins, (if not long before) has the hero switched to being proactive, instead of reactive?
       Yes for Jack, not yet for Palmer, but the story continues into next episode.
      After the climax, does either the hero, the point of view character or a guest star have a personal revelation and/or life change, possibly revealed through reversible behavior?
       Jack is about to go look for Kim when the plane blows up and he fully commits to the work situation.
      PART 5: IS EACH SCENE THE BEST IT CAN BE? (19/23) Jack has to get a keycard from one of his superiors, Mason, so he shoots him with a tranquilizer dart.
      The Set-Up: Does this scene begin with the essential elements it needs?
      Were tense and/or hopeful (and usually false) expectations for this interaction established beforehand?
       Yes, Jack was warned that if Mason wouldn’t give up the source then he must be dirty.
      Does the scene eliminate small talk and repeated beats by cutting out the beginning (or possibly even the middle)?
       No, this show loves to cross-cut, but this scene plays straight through.
      Is this an intimidating setting that keeps characters active?
       Yes, the office has glass walls and everybody is looking in.  There are also guns, as we find out.
      Is one of the scene partners not planning to have this conversation (and quite possibly has something better to do)?
       Mason doesn’t really want to be there, tries to hurry through and not say much.
      Is there at least one non-plot element complicating the scene?
       Nope, we’re all plot here.
      Does the scene establish its own mini-ticking-clock (if only through subconscious anticipation)?
       Yes, once he shoots Mason with a tranq, they have a half-hour or less before he wakes up.
      The Conflict: Do the conflicts play out in a lively manner?
      Does this scene both advance the plot and reveal character?
       Yes, it’s where the plot turns and we find out a lot more about Jack.
      Are one or more characters in the scene emotionally affected by this interaction or action as the scene progresses?
       Not really.  Amazingly, shooting his boss seems to be just another day at the office for Jack (and indeed it will be.)
      Does the audience have (or develop) a rooting interest in this scene (which may sometimes shift)?
       Yes, we want Jack to find out if Mason’s dirty, and we want Jack to get the source.
      Are two agendas genuinely clashing (rather than merely two personalities)?
       Yes, Jack wants the source, Mason doesn’t want to give it up.
      Does the scene have both a surface conflict and a suppressed conflict (one of which is the primary conflict in this scene)?
       Yes: Surface: I can’t give you the source because it’s classified, Suppressed: I’m not going to help because I want Palmer to get shot.
      Is the suppressed conflict (which may or may not come to the surface) implied through subtext (and/or called out by the other character)?
      Are the characters cagy (or in denial) about their own feelings?
       Yes, each pretends to give in to the other’s demands.  They’re very faux-chummy until Jack shoots Mason.
      Do characters use verbal tricks and traps to get what they want, not just direct confrontation?
       Yes, Jack asks Mason to call his boss, then listens in on another phone to discover that Mason is calling time and temperature.
      Is there re-blocking, including literal push and pull between the scene partners (often resulting in just one touch)?
       Yes, lots. It start with a handshakes, ends with Jack grabbing him to muffle his scream and wrestling him to the couch.
      Are objects given or taken, representing larger values?
       Yes, Jack accepts Mason’s access card, offers Mason his phone, shoots him with a tranq.
      If this is a big scene, is it broken down into a series of mini-goals?
       Yes, get the source, check up on Mason, get the gun, shoot Mason, get Nina on board.
      The Outcome: Does this scene change the story going forward?
      As a result of this scene, does at least one of the scene partners end up doing something that he or she didn’t intend to do when the scene began?
       Yes, Jack shoots Mason.
      Does the outcome of the scene ironically reverse (and/or ironically fulfill) the original intention?
       Yes, Jack shoots a guy to stop a shooting.
      Are previously-asked questions answered?
       Yes, is Mason dirty?  Will he give up the source?
      Are new questions posed that will be left unanswered for now?
       Yes, can they get the proof about Mason before he wakes up?
      Is the audience left with a growing hope and/or fear for what might happen next? (Not just in the next scene, but generally)
       Yes, we’re both afraid for and afraid of Jack at this point.
      Does the scene cut out early, on a question (possibly to be answered instantly by the circumstances of the next scene)?
       No, it goes to the end.
      Empathetic: Is the dialogue true to human nature?
      Does the writing demonstrate empathy for all of the characters?
       Generally, this is an empathy-light show, but the writers know how use it as needed: we like Kim’s evil date at first because he has a likable monologue about how he could never be a surfer because, among other things, “you have to get up early…you have to call everybody dude...”
      Does each of the characters, including the hero, have a limited perspective?
       The two heroes each see what the other doesn’t see, tactically and morally.
      Are the characters resistant to openly admitting their feelings (to others and even to themselves)?
       Jack is trying to be more open and honest, but it’s a struggle.  Palmer plays it close to the chest.
      Do the characters avoid saying things they wouldn’t say?
       Yes. Palmer doesn’t tell anyone about the threat.
      Do the characters listen poorly?
       Not really, our heroes are both excellent listeners.
      Do the characters interrupt each other more often than not?
       Not really, they’re all very professional.
      Specific: Is the dialogue specific to this world and each personality?
      Does the dialogue capture the culturally-specific syntax of the characters (without necessarily attempting to replicate non-standard pronunciation)?
       Yes, the teen talk is authentic-sounding.
      Does the dialogue capture the jargon of the profession and/or setting?
       Very much so. “Forget the Middle East, they’re not doing loan-outs anymore.  Focus on Europe.  I requested an open channel with the Bureau.” Etc.
      Does the dialogue capture the tradecraft of the profession being portrayed?
       Not as much as later, but we do get some tricks of the trade.
      Heightened: Is the dialogue more pointed and dynamic than real talk?
      Is the dialogue more concise than real talk?
      Does the dialogue have more personality than real talk?
      Is there a minimum of commas in the dialogue (the lines are not prefaced with Yes, No, Well, Look, or the other character’s name)?
      Do non-professor characters speak without dependent clauses, conditionals, or parallel construction?
      Is there one gutpunch scene, where the subtext falls away and the characters really lay into each other?
       Yes, when Jack and Nina discuss his recklessness and honesty.
      Genre and Mood: Does the series tap into pre-established expectations?
      Does the series fit within one genre (or compatible sub-genres)?
      Are unrealistic genre-specific elements a big metaphor for a more common experience (not how life really is, but how life really feels)?
       Yes, this is all a metaphor for 9/11…even though it was shot pre 9/11!  They smelled it coming.  (As did many other TV shows, movies, comics, and album covers, all coming out in September of that year, showing 9/11-like events.  It was truly creepy.)
      Separate from the genre, does the pilot establish an overall mood for the series?
       Yes, each storyline has high-tension ominousness.
      If there are multiple storylines, do they establish the spectrum of moods available within that overall mood?
       Sort of:. Palmer’s is political drama, Jack’s is action. The teen story seems fun, but ultimately turns out to be just as sinister as the others
      Is there a moment early on that establishes the type and level of jeopardy?
       Yes.  In the script, we start with domestic stuff for the whole first act, which is really weird, but in the on-air version, they’re added a first scene in Kuala Lampur (although this makes no sense when we find out the ultimate plot) of a spy getting the info and calling it in to a spy-boss.
      Framing: Does the pilot set, reset, upset and ultimately exceed its own expectations?
      Are there framing devices (flashforwards, framing sequences and/or first person narration) to set the mood, pose a dramatic question, and/or pose ongoing questions?
       The clock and the split screens literally frame the action, showing that there’s always menace somewhere.  Often we just get a glimpse of something in the corner of the screen then it goes away, creating tons of dramatic questions.
      Is there a dramatic question posed early on, which will establish in the audience’s mind which moment will mark the end of the pilot? 
       By midway we arrive at the big questions of the episode: Will Mason give up the source, and will Mandy get hurt?
      Does foreshadowing create anticipation and suspense (and refocus the audience’s attention on what’s important)?
       Very much so.  For instance, there’s not mention of Palmer’s competitors, and he’s already writing his acceptance speech, taking the question of him losing off the table.
      Are set-up and pay-off used to dazzle the audience, distracting attention from plot contrivances?
       Yes, the cross-cutting distracts us from the fact that it takes Jack 90 seconds to drive to work!
      Is the dramatic question of the pilot episode’s plot answered near the end of the story?
       Yes: Mason does give up the name, and no, Mandy is most definitely not in trouble.
      Pervasive: Is the theme interwoven into many aspects of the show?
      Does the ensemble as a whole have a unique philosophy about how to fill their role (and competition from an allied force with a different philosophy)?
       Yes, they take a wider view, and they have little respect for either the CIA above them or the cops below them.
      Does the pilot have a statement of philosophy and/or theme, usually either at the beginning or ¾ of the way in. (Sometimes this will be the ensemble’s statement of philosophy, sometimes this merely be the implied theme of the series itself.)
       ¾ of the way in: “You can look the other way once, and it’s no big deal, but soon all you’re doing is compromising because you think that’s the way things are done.  You know those guys I blew the whistle on?  You think there were bad guys?  You’re wrong, they weren’t, they were no different from you and me, except they compromised… ‘once’”.
      Can the show’s overall ongoing theme be stated in the form of a classic good vs. good (or evil vs. evil) dilemma?
       Yes: security vs. constitutional guarantees.
      Throughout the pilot, do the characters have to choose between goods, or between evils, instead of choosing between good and evil?
       Yes, Jack must shoot his superior in order to accomplish his goals.  Palmer must shut down the press to become a man of the people.
      Are the storylines in the pilot thematically linked (preferably in an indirect, subtle way)?
       Yes, Jack and Palmer are both caught between morals and ethics.
      Are small details throughout the pilot tied into the theme?
       Yes, his daughter pretends he’s dead as people are trying to kill him, etc.
      Will the heroes grapple with new moral gray areas in each episode?
       Very much so.
      Grounded: Do the stakes ring true to the world of the audience?
      Does the series’ set-up reflect the way the world works?
       Yes, this isn’t one of those shows where a plane goes down in one storyline and nobody notices in another storylines.  This also isn’t the sort of show like “The West Wing” where politicians make stirring speeches when they’re not on camera.
      Does the series have authentic things to say about this type of setting?
       Yes.  It’s quickly acknowledged that FBI and CIA might not want there to be a black president.
      Does the ongoing concept include twinges of real life national pain?
       Very much so.  It predicts 9/11 and everything that was coming.
      Are these issues presented in a way that avoids moral hypocrisy?
       Yes, for now, but later it’ll run into trouble.
      Do all of the actions in the pilot have real consequences?
       No.  Some will, but Jack will show a remarkable ability to get away with stuff like shooting his boss.
      Untidy: Is the dilemma ultimately irresolvable?
      Do the characters refuse (or fail) to synthesize the meaning of the pilot episode’s story, forcing the audience to do that?
       Yes, although it was often hard to synthesize the meaning of this show, which was constantly flip-flopping as the story developed.
      Does the end of the pilot leave the thematic dilemma wide open and irresolvable?
       Very much so.
      Total Score: 116/132