Friday, April 02, 2010

Amy's Thoughts on... 24's "Cancellation"

*note: the use of *air quotes* will be used frequently :-)

I am going to start off cheesy: 


Since I am a fan of 24, I thought I should blog about it's "cancellation". Now, there's a reason I put that word in *air quotes*. To me, a TV show is "cancelled" if it does not work. Here, we have the complete opposite. 24 does work, it is just tired out the formula. To me, a cancellation happens during the first or second season, not in the frigging eighth!! Eight seasons is a bloody good run for a TV show! So it has...ended!

For those who do no know (from wikipedia cos I'm lazy):

24 is an American serial action/drama television series broadcast by Fox in the United States and syndicated worldwide. The series debuted November 6, 2001.

The story of 24 is presented in the semblance of real time. Each season depicts a 24-hour period in the life of Jack Bauer, who works with the United States government as it fights fictitious terrorist threats to the United States. Bauer is often in the field for the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) as it tries to safeguard the nation from terrorist threats. The show also follows the actions of associated CTU agents, government officials and terrorists.

Anyhoooooo, I first got into 24 a few Christmases ago! It must have been 3 years ago because it was the first Christmas in the house that my Mum and Step-Dad currently live in. My Mum rang me a few weeks before-hand and told me that there was a special offer on DVD Boxsets (buy one, get one free!) and she asked me which ones I wanted. I told her to get me one that she knew I had seen, and one she knew I hadn't seen. The result??? Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7 and 24 Season 1!

That evening, after the Dr Who Christmas Special (The Runaway Bride) I sat in the very comfy armchair in my bedroom and started watching 24 on the small TV. I was addicted! Even though the show had been out for a few years at that point, it was still very fresh! A TV show, in real time, with 1 season taking place in 1 day!!!! Genius!! The use of split screen is also great. Even now that particular aspect looks new!

And by the end of January, I had all of the other 24 DVDs out at the time (Seasons 2 - 5) in my posession off Ebay, all second hand. Me and my Dad would watch 2 episodes every night before bedtime. The first five seasons, in my opinion, were the best. There was a web of ensemble characters that interconnected. They were always throwing twists at us and even going so far as to turning trustworthy characters into villains! The best examples of these are Nina Myers (who you go through the entire first season believing she was wrongly accused, then finding out she is the biggest traitor and baddie in the whole fucking 24-verse!!!) and Sherry Palmer. Sherry's portrayal was more subtle! Her character wasn't like Nina's, who was just, at the end of the day, a terrorist. She was just a scheming, conniving bitch trying to cover her own arse!

But the best had to be President Logan, who turned out to be behind the whole of Season 5's story arc!!! That would have been so easy to do badly, but they managed to pull it off!! 24 was/is ahead of it's time! The first seasons introduced an African American President long before President Obama was elected and the current season features the first female President of the United States. This show also has the highest body count of any other TV show I have watched (BSG could be a very small exception). If you are a character on 24, you are either going to die, be a mole or both!

10 Greatest Moments of 24 (from IGN... I know I'm lazy!! I just did not want to risk forgetting any :D):

10 - Tool Time With Jack Bauer (Day 2)

Jack Bauer has two well-known phrases. The first was shouted at Nina Myers when he demanded, "Who are you working for?" The other came in the first hour of Day 2, when we discovered that Jack hadn't gotten over the whole wife-getting-murdered thing. 

Marshall Goren had something Jack needed. So Jack had him brought in to CTU. We were expecting the usual interrogation techniques from Jack. A lot of threats, maybe a touch of torture. Jack didn't ask any questions when Goren was seated. Instead, he pulled out his gun and shot him point blank in the chest. He then uttered the single greatest line of the series: "I'm going to need a hacksaw." 

9 - Give Chase A Hand (Day 3)

He only lasted one Day, but Chase Edmunds managed to exit 24 without losing his life -- just his hand.
To prevent psychopath Arthur Rabens from running off with the deadly Cordilla Virus, Chase latched the case containing the biohazard to his arm. Before Rabens was killed, he managed to arm the device. Jack Bauer is great at many things, but disarming devices isn't one of them. Unable to disable the device, there was only one option. Jack grabbed an ax and lopped off Chase's hand, then tossed the device into a fridge, saving the day. 

8 - Jack In The Bag (Day 5)

The most shocking ending since the jarring Day 1 finale, Jack's abduction at the end of Day 5 closed out an amazing season. A little history: In Day 4, Jack raided the Chinese consulate and a Chinese national was killed. Even in the real world, that's cause for war. Bloodshed on Chinese soil didn't sit well with Cheng Zhi. 

After the hardest day in 24 history, where the majority of CTU stalwart's were murdered, it seemed Jack might have a chance at happiness. He'd won Audrey Raines' heart. Those two crazy kids might even live happily ever after. Before the two could ride off into the sunset, Jack was told he had a call from his daughter. Ah, but it wasn't really a call from Kim. It was a ruse to get Jack's guard down. A bag thrown over his head, Jack was dragged off. When next we saw Jack, he'd spent months being tortured. And he had a bad-ass beard. Epic. 

7 - Oh No You Didn't! (Day 1)

Sherry Palmer epitomizes the majority of characters on 24. She's power-hungry. That describes every terrorist, most of the politicians and a number of members of CTU. In eight seasons, many have gone to great (and often immoral) lengths to secure power, but Sherry takes the cake.
On Day 1, Sherry wanted the presidency more than her husband, Senator David Palmer. And she'd do anything to see her man in office (so long as she was by his side). This included pimping out campaign staffer Patty Brooks to sleep with the Senator so Sherry could keep better tabs on him. Palmer became a fan favorite when he delivered this killer line to Sherry at the end of Day 1: "After today, I never want to see you again... I don't care what this may do to my candidacy. And it's not because I don't want to be President. I do. I just don't think you're fit to be the first lady." 

6 - Redemption For The Snake (Day 2)

George Mason ranks among the worst bosses in 24's history. The Day 2 Director of CTU looked out for #1 first and foremost, even to the detriment of our nation. Among the "good guys" on 24, there may be no other who was more despised. But on Day 2, Mason redeemed himself with a final heroic act. 

Mason was exposed to deadly levels of radiation earlier in the Day and had only weeks to live. We watched as Mason slowly deteriorated physically. It was going to be an end to a fairly worthless life. But then some crazy terrorist put a timer on a nuclear bomb that would lay waste to Los Angeles. CTU couldn't disarm the bomb, so Jack grabbed a small plane and piloted it towards the desert. Mason stowed away on the plane and halfway to its destination told Jack to get out. Mason's one decent act saved Jack's life. He went out a hero, a nice bit of redemption in a series more often focused on the ruination of its characters' morality. 

5 - The Old Guard Go Down (Day 5)

Day 5 brought a high death count to CTU. We knew right away no one was safe when former President David Palmer was assassinated and Michelle Dessler was blown up. Palmer, perhaps the best fictional President TV has ever had, was a devastating strike. And Michelle's death would lead to one of 24's darkest moments -- the surprising (and unwanted) return from the dead of Tony Almeida  on Day 7.
These two deaths marked the start of the most brutal season of 24. Both were shocking, but there were far bigger surprises in store. 

4 - What You Took (Day 2)

24 rarely has quiet moments, but one stands out. Nina Myers was in custody, sitting in a plane across from Jack Bauer, the man whose wife she killed several years ago. A few minutes earlier, she'd slashed a man's throat open with a broken credit card and secured a deal to be released from Federal custody. Jack didn't scream or scowl or threaten Nina. Instead, he said in as calm a voice as he has ever used: 
"The Sunday before you killed my wife, Teri and I went to the boardwalk in Venice just watching all the rollerbladers and musicians, laughing at the crazy people, spending time together. And Teri sees this snow-cone stand. She giggles like a kid. She takes off running. She wants to get in line. She wants one. I remember I was watching her, I was just… I couldn't help myself. When I look up at her she's talking to this old lady in line behind her and the two of them are laughing, and I'm thinking to myself, How the hell does she do that? How does she strike up a conversation with an absolute stranger? And they just start laughing. Like they'd been friends forever. That's a gift. I remember thinking, God, I wish I could do that. But I can't. That was Teri. My wife. That's what you took from this world, Nina. That's what you took from me and my daughter. I just wanted you to know that." 

3 - The Clock Goes Silent (Day 5)

Edgar Stiles was a bit of a dunderhead and often seemed a step behind uber-geek Chloe O'Brian. He was as sweet and innocent as a little bunny rabbit. Killing Edgar would be like killing a child -- and you rarely ever see a child die on network TV. No one saw it coming and that's what made it hurt the most.
When Sentox nerve gas was released into CTU, the surviving members realized they had one chance: seal off the ventilation in one room and hide there until the gas could be dissipated. But as Chloe surveyed the lucky few who made it to the conference room, she realized Edgar wasn't among them. The poor guy stumbled to the glass window moments before he died. Was there anyone watching who didn't shout, "Not Edgar!"? The clock did not tick at the commercial break. 

2 - The Toughest Kill (Day 3)

Ryan Chappelle was always a pain in the ass. Director of CTU, Chappelle refused to bend the rules and rarely had Jack's back. Certainly some wanted to see bad things happen to Chappelle so Jack could get his job done. But Chappelle's final fate was surprisingly powerful and even now gives us goose bumps. 

It wasn't the first time a terrorist had ordered Jack to do something terrible. But this time, Jack had no out. Day 3 baddie Stephen Saunders, twisting President Palmer's arm with the threat of unleashing a deadly virus, ordered the execution of Ryan Chappelle. When Jack failed to find Saunders in time, he had no choice but to comply with the demand. Chappelle was offered a chance to call someone for his final words, but he had no family and no loved ones. He tried to do the honorable thing and kill himself to spare Jack the guilt, but couldn't pull the trigger. "I'm sorry we let you down, Ryan," Jack said as he put the muzzle to the back of Chappelle's head. "God forgive me."

1 - No Happy Endings (Day 1)

If anyone had doubts about 24 as a viable series, they were removed in the final moments of Day 1Teri Bauer, who sacrificed her own body to preserve her daughter's innocence, ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nina Myers had the honor of being CTU's first mole. Jack's former lover became the ultimate betrayer, helping take part in the attempted assassination of presidential candidate David Palmer. Teri stumbled onto Nina as the traitor was preparing her escape. After gagging and tying Teri to a chair, Nina was told by her contact to erase all evidence of her involvement. That meant Teri had to go. It wasn't until Nina had been caught and lead away in handcuffs that Jack found Teri with a bullet in her chest. He fell to the ground, cradling her as the final second on the clock ticked down. Teri's death served as a powerful ending to one very long day and the signature moment for the series. 

So what went wrong?

Well, 24 suffered the plague that all brilliant TV shows build up for themselves then struggle to recover from: topping itself!!! 24 had suspense, the shock factor... but then ideas started to wear thin. They would introduce and/or do something considered shocking and new, but then they would keep doing it! For example, it is completely believable that there would be a spy at CTU! But when you cook one out of thin air for no reason what so ever is just stupid! Another example of this is Jack getting tortured. In Season 2, it was horrible (and groundbreaking) to see our hero captured!!! And by the end of the season/day, he had heart problems because of that torture. In the current season, he has been tortured, stabbed, nearly blown to pieces... and he is still walking and talking! Most can still accept this because it is Jack Bauer!! He is indestructible!!! He is the dog's fucking bollocks!!! But some of us still like realism! And thirdly, Jack going off by himself because he is right (of course he is!!) and that means the authorities are after him. it worked in season 1 because he was being blackmailed by the terrorists, but not so much now. In fact, it can be frustrating.

I have to admit, the beginning of the end was season 6! I couldn't even get through, it was so bad!!! But Season 7 was a huge improvement. They moved away from Los Angeles and CTU and went to Washington DC and the FBI. However, it lost me. I missed CTU! Then they brought it back for Season 8. And with  Katee Sackoff and Freddie Prinze Jnr involved I was very confident that the show would be back to it's usual glory! However, that was not the case. And with impeccable timing, they announced the "cancellation" mere days after what critics called "the worst episode of 24 EVER" was aired with a twist being... a mole!!! Oh goody!! At the end of the day (pun intended), the show needed to end at some point. I am glad it is ending now, before it gets even worse. I only say bad things because I love it. And I'm glad that other networks haven't tried making their own version of a real time series. Lets hope it goes out on a high note because despite all these bad notes, I will be watching it... regardless!