Monday, May 24, 2010

Saying goodbye to 24

With all the buzz and stories about Lost this past week and probably all today, I thought I would give another series a little more coverage today, the date of its final broadcast.

Of course, I am talking about 24.

When it began, let's be honest with ourselves, as a show based on a gimmick, well, it seemed like a fun ride. It was an intriguing idea, and at the time, it was supposed to be a one season series.

8 seasons later, it seems like the show certainly outlived those modest expectations, and turned Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer into one of the legendary badasses of modern pop culture.

There have been some ups and some downs (I am looking at you Season 6), but overall, it has been a fun ride.

It has been a joy watching the series unfold and it recently occured to me that it almost entirely avoided one of the major cliches of dramatic series: the season ending cliffhanger. On only two occasions out of the past 7 seasons did 24 end on with an event that required later resolution, and I respected that. Sometimes you need a series that doesn't leave you hanging over a summer (or 17 months, give or take a month for the time between the end of the 6th season and the television movie Redemption), and treats each season as a largely self-contained set of incidents.

Now that the series is ending, there are some misconceptions about the series I thought I would note. The first one that people who don't watch the show generally have is it is that all the terrorist on the show are Muslim. That is not the case. In fact, it is shockingly not the case that the people behind the majority of the events on 24, the masterminds of the terror are time and time again middle aged and older white men. For a show about terrorism, that is very progressive, especially for a series that premiered after September 11th.

And the other thing I've heard a lot of people who have never really watched it complain about is that it is a propaganda series for conservative values, when aside from the ubiquity of the torture on the show (which yes, I can't defend), the stories tended to be in many cases, critiques of current events under the Bush Administration. For instance, during the lead up to the War in Iraq, the plot of the series concerned Jack Bauer's efforts trying to prevent a war between the United States and an unnamed Middle Eastern country after a nuclear weapon went off on American soil. The men behind the attack were the executives of an oil company who wanted access to the oil reserves of that country. And the fifth (and arguably best) season became an examination of the uses and abuses of executive power and privilege in the American government.

But aside from the political subtext, 24 was an awesome action series, with one of the highest body counts ever on television. With the terrorist attacks and such, someone estimated that over 13 thousand people have met their end on the series. That is a lot of people, and more than a few were major characters, some killed at surprising times and in unexpected ways, and that was yet another strength of this show. Life could end so suddenly for anyone, so every situation held danger for someone, and aside from one man, everyone was fair game.

As I said in an earlier post, this seems to be the right time for the series to check out, and it looks like tonight's finale is shaping up to be great. I am trying to think of ways they could screw this up, and they are hard to come by.

Just a few more hours of Jack Bauer kick assery left... and I am going to enjoy every second of his violent farewell.


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I am with you. I love this series. I loved the concept right from the beginning and I especially loved Jack. The man always steps up when he needs to and can you blame him? He has had more crappy days than anyone has the right to have. At least this season (where the body count is ever more deliciously high) we didn't have to see Kim get kidnapped again - she is worse than Robin in that regard. So I thank him for a great eight seasons too and will miss him when he's gone.

Lee Sargent said...

I've let 24 pass by me this season, I'll catch up though certainly not in time for the finale ;)

I guess I just don't expect huge things to change in the 24 universe so the urgency to watch isn't there so much.

I will be very supportive of a 24 movie though.

MC said...

Cal: He makes me feel sort of pathetic too... he's done more in 8 days than I have in my entire life.

Lee: You will enjoy it.

Semaj said...

Great post, 24 was a great series that seemed to pull out some amazing surprises during its run. I really enjoyed the friendship between Jack and David Palmer. For me, the show ended with season 5. I think the show kind of wrapped of the past four seasons and we got to see how far Jack would go to solve his friend's murder.

However, I need to pick up season 7 and 8 when I get a chance.
Anyway, 8 seasons is a good run. Better to leave with a bang than to have people saying, “Wow, that show is still on?”

Plus, we can look forward to 24: The motion picture

Pat Tillett said...

I'm kinda with Lee here. The problem with the show is that you always know what's gonna happen.
It was great for a long while though.

Lee Sargent said...

Oh yeah don't get me wrong, I know I'll enjoy it, the show is too good and Jack is too compelling not to but I've been doing it fairly easy in avoiding spoilers for it so it's my next show to watch.

MC said...

Pat: I think perhaps it is that seeming stability that I liked too.

Lee: Yes, you will like it.