Helen Mirren Helps John Oliver Debunk '24'-Style Torture

"Just because Kiefer Sutherland does something on camera doesn't mean it's a great idea, unless of course, that thing is him drunkenly running into a Christmas tree."
HBO/Screenshot
John Oliver

Sunday's Last Week Tonight explored the topic of torture, with help from Helen Mirren.

John Oliver first noted of president Barack Obama's admission last summer that "we tortured some folks," "You sound like you're quoting a horrifying Andy Griffith episode." And since the detailed report on the interrogation strategy released in December isn't being read, he recruited Mirren to voice the audiobook version — including a description of a rectal rehydration tactic.

"Torture is one of those things that is advertised as something that works, but doesn’t. … But maybe the reason that so many of us innately believe that torture works is that it does — on TV, all the time. Look at 24: Jack Bauer repeatedly saved American lives while behaving like this!" he said before airing a reel from the Fox series (which beat The Sopranos at the Emmys for best drama in 2006, he reminded HBO viewers). "Torture works on 24 and in movies because it has to. It’s a dramatic device to move the plot along, but ask terror experts and they’ll tell you it’s one of those movie tropes that’s got no basis in real life."

"Just because Kiefer Sutherland does something on camera doesn't mean it's a great idea, unless of course, that thing is him drunkenly running into a Christmas tree," he continued before reliving the 2006 incident.

Ahead of next week's vote for the amendment proposed by John McCain and Dianne Feinstein, Oliver stressed, “If enhanced interrogation were not torture — which it is — and even if torture did work — which it doesn’t — America should not be a country that tortures people because it is brutal, it is medieval and it is beneath us."

After the episode's main story, Oliver offered an update on former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, as the HBO series followed his action and bought airtime on a Trinidad television network to deliver a message.

Warner responded, with "epic and dramatic music" playing in the background, "I don't need any advice from any comedian fool who doesn't know anything about this country to tell me what files to release or what not to release. That is none of his business and I take no instructions from him."

But then Oliver said, with his own tension-building score, "If you want to continue to trade shit-talking videos with increasingly high production elements, then consider our challenge accepted, my friend!" With a slew of fireworks and pyrotechnics, he addressed Warner, "I see your music choice, and I raise you fire!"

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