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The End of an Era: Don’t Miss 24‘s Huge, Likely Very Talky Finale!

May 19, 2010

My relationship history with FOX’s 24 is complicated. When the show first began in 2001, I watched the first three episodes and liked them very much. Then, the next week, I was playing in a softball game during the airing of the show’s fourth episode, and when I jumped back in on the fifth episode, I was completely lost. So I just stopped watching it.

I maintained the “24 is just too much work” attitude toward 24 for the next few years, and failed to see the allure for those I knew who still adored it. Then, sighing audibly, I caved and stepped back into Jack Bauer’s harrowing universe on Season 5 (for the uninitiated — and it doesn’t matter now that the show’s ending — each season was a cohesive storyline followable even to those unfamiliar with many characters). Here I saw hundreds of Sarin Gas casualties in a shopping mall and an assassinated former President. Fairly ballsy stuff in an action universe that usually shies away from any thing truly horrible happening to unsuspecting people. Who did FOX think it was, anyway, having the guts to write such viscerally upsetting and narratively riveting stuff? I stayed on until season six, in which an actual nuclear bomb exploded in the middle of Los Angeles, and realized that I had been wrong to walk away. Here was a show that, for one hour each week, was honestly as good or better than many action movies I’d seen.

Plus, it had a solid anchor in Sutherland’s Jack Bauer, a bonafide ass-kicker who did things like shoot suspects’ wives in the leg and smother his own villainous brother with plastic wrap. 24 began to grow on me as a program that wasn’t afraid of things, a rare and unpredicable animal in prime time. And with the new advent of DVR, I didn’t have to worry about missing an episode and losing the scent. It quickly became a must-watch each week — you had to catch it close to the airdate or risk hearing everyone talk about what wild new development occurred that week. Main characters were killed off. National disasters happened. Good guys became bad guys. Anything could happen.

Yeah, I became a 24 fan. But I wasn’t surprised to hear word a couple of months ago that this current season of 24 would be the series’ last. This’ll be good, I thought to myself. We’ll see some fireworks now. Who knows how they’ll top themselves?

Now, first, a disclaimer. I love a good storyline, a well-told narrative, solid dialogue. But the excitement has always been the drug that intoxicated me with 24. I’d gladly sit through a scene here or there of bureaucratic back-room political plotting to get to the next instance of Sutherland’s Bauer forcibly grilling villains or chasing unmarked vans through the streets of whichever city in which he happened to be. Let’s be honest — 24 is the prime time equivalent of Die Hard, after all.

This season? Lots of talking. People talking on phones. People talking face to face. People talking about talking to other people, or talking about things they talked about when they talked about with other people. Also, Freddie Prinze Jr.’s distinguished accomplishment of the most over-the-top “New York Cop” accent ever.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been some lovely moments this season, which I won’t spoil for those of you who may still be waiting to catch up. But by and large, Season 8 has in some ways become the most realistic season yet — things aren’t getting done because of all the red tape that has be waded through to get there.

For instance: yes, I get it about the Peace Initiative. I get that it’s important to President Taylor. We don’t need twenty minutes of each week dedicated to her re-iterating this. I also understand the moral dilemma at the center of this year’s plot. I don’t need it spelled out repeatedly. These long, drawn out scenes of exposition — and I’m a big fan of well-placed exposition — make me long for the next time Prinze Jr. strides on the screen with his ridiculous accent. Hey, I’m walkin’ heah!

Add in nerd-bait with Battlestar Galactica’s Katie Sackhoff, whose storyline contains both giant, gaping holes and completely unbelievable twists, and a harried Chloe O’Brien as the head of CTU (Mary Lynn Rajskub, by the way, remains as solid, perennial and get-behind-able as Sutherland’s Bauer), sprinkle with red herrings and macguffins serve to a 24-loving public. This season, though, the magic’s just not there.

Last season saw Jack battling former friend and co-worker Tony Almeida in an insanely nail-biting season that featured Jon Voight as a nefarious corporate bigwig and the transporting of radioactive materials which made every turn deadly. This season just can’t top it. I’m still holding out hope that the final episode will blow my mind out of my head, but if the past two months have been any indication, it’s going to be a lot more hot, exciting cellphone action. Oh well. I guess they’re saving their best stuff for the inevitable 24 movie. But if, for that,  I pay $9.50 to watch the President talk on the phone with the Russian Premier for twenty minutes, I’m gonna do some waterboarding of my own.

Let me take you into a detour of our topic. I had a friend for a long time that opens up with his own business and I want to help him as a friend. He is now the owner of BarbequeSmoked, producer of the best pellet grill in the country. They have a lots of product where you can choose from any combination smoker and grill with the highest quality.

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