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Television: The end of 24

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Wikipedia quote: "{Jack} Bauer is the only character to have appeared in all eight seasons, as well as appearing in every episode of the series."

The idea behind 24 was a great one. The US TV system encourages programmes of about twenty-three episodes per season and there are twenty-four hours in a standard Earth day, so having each season take place over a single day, with one episode per hour, seems obvious. However, even in the first season it was clear that the writers struggled with the concept, with the two storylines that kicked off the season – the plot to assassinate David Palmer and the kidnapping of Kim Bauer – both wrapped up by the halfway point. By the end of the season they has used an amnesia plot to fill time, had Kim held captive by five different groups, and generally just gave the impression that they were desperately trying to stretch things out (which is supported by comments from Kiefer Sutherland that the real time concept ‘plagued‘ the writers).

By the most recent eighth season the series has built up a steady stock of tropes and clichés that it would fall back on time and again. A traitor in CTU, a source who gets killed just as Jack is about to get some answers from him (or is injured and killed in transit), a villain who turns out to just be a minor pawn for different villains with a fairly different goal, Jack disagreeing with CTU’s bosses (which became fairly ridiculous considering how often he’s been correct and saved the day) and going rogue, and so on. Season eight ran through pretty much all of them throughout the season, to much mocking and disappointment, but in the end it seemed that it was the show’s high budget that killed it rather than the lack of originality.

Towards the end of season eight characters were going through bizarre transformations, with Jack essentially the villain trying to assassinate (villainous) Russian politicians because he was on the kind of revenge mission that has driven his terrorist enemies in the past, while President Taylor, who last season was so principled that she turned over her own daughter to the police, was now silencing the media by arresting journalists and was hindering CTU’s investigations, all to protect the peace process.

In the end Jack was free but on the run, having essentially committed an act of war against Russia and major crimes in the US, sending him out of America and into the land of feature films. 24 had a good run and was generally entertaining throughout its eight years but I don’t see myself missing it now that it’s gone for good.

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