24: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Live Another Day

“PRESIDENT HELLER FORGOT TO PUT A TITLE HERE”

Title Card24 is a groundbreaking and important television series. Beyond the thrills, kills, twists, and tragedies is a show that reached a new level of serialized storytelling and set the bar for action and suspense on network television. Lasting for 8 full seasons and one “limited series”–204 episodes plus a TV movie–24 is one of the longest-running shows of the past 15 years. Others, like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Smallville, two CSIs and two or three Law & Orders, may have run longer, but the argument can be made that none of those shows are equally as worthy of contributing to the debatably labeled and vaguely-defined “Third Golden Age of Television Drama” that began with The Sopranos in 1999 and is now fading with the end of Breaking Bad and the impending finale of Mad Men. Perhaps 24 doesn’t quite reach the dramatic heights of those shows, or others like The Wire and Deadwood, or even The Shield, Lost or Battlestar Galactica, but it was always a strong awards and ratings contender and it was just so addicting and fun to watch.

From September through May, we – Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix – looked back at 24, discussing one season per month until the premiere of the 12-episode miniseries 24: Live Another Day, which we subsequently discussed in a series of “ReJacktions.”

This month’s discussion is focused on Season 9 of 24, aka Live Another Day, which concluded July 14 after premiering in May of 2014.

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.

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Patches
A fable…

The 24pion and the Stud

Once upon a time, a remarkably handsome man came upon a large stream, wishing to cross to the other side where he could find the best shows on television. The current, however, was swift and the Stud knew swimming across would require all his strength.

“Perhaps you could help me. I also need to get to the other side, but I can’t swim.”

The Stud, surprised that he wasn’t alone, looked down to see a 24pion. “Why should I trust you?” the Stud asked, “You’ll sting me with obstructionist bosses and other inconveniences that exist only to kill time. Leads will appear only slightly less randomly than family members we didn’t know existed. They’ll be moles and presidential leadership issues. I don’t want any of that.”

“Why would I do those things?” answered the 24pion. “Then we would both drown.” The Stud gave the 24pion a skeptical look. “Really,” the 24pion insisted, “my metasoma is ‘limited run.’ I don’t need any of those things. I could set on your back while you swim across and it would just be a tight, simple, fun story. You’d trust a BSGila Monster or a Justifieding Fox or a Wireus — Yeah, Wireus works — You can trust me.”

“Alright,” said the really, really, really ridiculously good looking man, “hop on.”

Despite his otherworldly attractiveness, the Stud wasn’t much of a swimmer. However, he could adequately backfloat. The 24pion climbed onto the Stud’s washboard abs and the two set off. As the pair made it about halfway across the stream, the 24pion’s tail snapped downwards, piercing the Stud’s skin and releasing six or seven episodes worth of venom.

“Dammit!™ Why did you do that?” the Stud cried as his strength faded, sinking manly-yet-well-kempt-beard-deep into the stream. Now we will both drown.”

“I couldn’t help it,” the 24pion replied, “It’s my nature.”

The Moral of the Story

Much like the original story’s titular frog, I forgot or ignored the nature of what I was dealing with. I let The Wire, Justified, and Game of Thrones convince me that we were going to get some flagship HBO version of 24.

Nope. Continue reading

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24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 12 (10PM-11AM)

After a four year absence, 24 is returning to TV in the form of a “limited series.” Shortened seasons for broadcast shows are in right now. Big-network programs like Hannibal, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome are taking a page out of the British/Premium Cable model, offering shortened seasons of around 12-15 episodes without the traditional option of extending the season. 24 is embracing this model as well, cutting Jack Bauer’s “day” in half to (theoretically) tell a tighter story and keep costs down. How well 24 translates into 12 remains to be seen, but there is no denying of the excitement of having Jack Bauer back on the small screen.

As a limited run companion piece to our series-spanning Dead Series Discussions we—Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix—will be posting reactions to each episode of Live Another Day as it airs. These “ReJacktions” are not as long or formal (ha!) as our other posts on the series, but instead give us a chance to add some reflections and observations for each episode. Once the season has ended, we’ll give Live Another Day a proper Dead Season Discussion before bidding farewell to 24. At least until Jack comes back again.

This week’s ReJacktion is focused on Episode 12 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 10:00 p.m. – 11:00 a.m.”

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.

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Patches
There were numerous episodes this season where Live Another Day turned me into the snarky reviewer I can’t stand. Then, numerous others made me think that LAD would end up a top-half season. Some of it is because LAD was the most intensely inconsistent show I’ve watched. Some of it is because HYPERBOLE, BITCHES! No proclamations this week. Just disappointment.

My suspension of disbelief was itself suspended (without pay) several times this week as second shooters appeared where it didn’t make sense for one shooter to be, Kate and the CIA used their precision handguns to take out a sniper, China took several minutes to assemble an amphibious invasion large enough to capture Okinawa, the Chinese Premier had no desire to, you know, actually see Cheng, who of course knows martial arts, presumably because he is Asian.

Even worse, the finale did nothing to make LAD greater than the sum of its parts. Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 10 (8PM-9PM)

After a four year absence, 24 is returning to TV in the form of a “limited series.” Shortened seasons for broadcast shows are in right now. Big-network programs like Hannibal, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome are taking a page out of the British/Premium Cable model, offering shortened seasons of around 12-15 episodes without the traditional option of extending the season. 24 is embracing this model as well, cutting Jack Bauer’s “day” in half to (theoretically) tell a tighter story and keep costs down. How well 24 translates into 12 remains to be seen, but there is no denying of the excitement of having Jack Bauer back on the small screen.

As a limited run companion piece to our series-spanning Dead Series Discussions we – Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix – will be posting reactions to each episode of Live Another Day as it airs. These “ReJacktions” are not as long or formal (ha!) as our other posts on the series, but instead give us a chance to add some reflections and observations for each episode. Once the season has ended, we’ll give Live Another Day a proper Dead Season Discussion before bidding farewell to 24. At least until Jack comes back again.

This week’s ReJacktion is focused on Episode 10 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.”

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.

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PATCHES
Damn it™, you guys. Why can’t this show make up its mind about whether it wants to be awesome or suck? Two weeks ago, they delivered an episode I called one of the best of the series. Last week, they completely negated it. This week, they completely redeem themselves.

Expecting a Dumb & Dumber clip? I hated that movie, so find it yourself.

Not this episode, though. In fact, there’s so much I loved that it’s list time:

1) This episode subverted three of the worst moments in 24 history. First, who didn’t think Kate was going to pull a Theresa Ortega when Navarro was brought in? Or an Olivia Taylor when she found out about the immunity deal? Or get Curtis-ed during the interrogation ruse? My internal monologue went something like “OH FUCK! THEY’RE GONNA CURTIS HER! DON’T YOU DO IT, 24! DON’T YOU FUCKING DO IT!” Yes, my internal monologue is Brenda from Scary Movie.

2) I was pretty torn about Cheng’s return. It is a little too cute, even if I jokingly called it as soon as a biggest bad was revealed. But who among us would have thought Live Another Day would actually try to wrap up all of 24’s major loose ends? Love it. Although I reserve the right to change my mind if Mandy parachutes in.

3) Cross’ horrified, nauseous reaction to seeing all his people dead. He cared about those people.

4) The beautiful reversal of Jack & Navarro’s interrogation scene from the premiere.

5) I’m sure Jeff will point out some things that were just too convenient, but the episode didn’t give me time to suspend my disbelief. Or breathe.

6) Boudreau’s “Oh, shit…” face when he was told Jack was tracking down the device.

7) I mentioned during Episode 5 that at they were setting up Erik to have to choose between Jack’s methods and his career. I didn’t like his choice (how awesome would it have been for Erik to walk in afterwards and say, “Who’s too worried about his career now, bitch?”), but the writers didn’t leave that idea hanging.

8) MORE YELLING!

9) Navarro immediately transforming into Überasshøle.

10) Jack and Kate’s carpool conversation. Even if Jack’s still showcasing some world-class cognitive dissonance, I love his character development. In Season 7, he had no clue how to respond like an empathetic human being when he had this exact conversation with Renee. He was repressing his emotions, like any good German would. In Season 8, he goes on a rampage because he finally blows up. Now, Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 6 (4PM-5PM)

After a four year absence, 24 is returning to TV in the form of a “limited series.” Shortened seasons for broadcast shows are in right now. Big-network programs like Hannibal, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome are taking a page out of the British/Premium Cable model, offering shortened seasons of around 12-15 episodes without the traditional option of extending the season. 24 is embracing this model as well, cutting Jack Bauer’s “day” in half to (theoretically) tell a tighter story and keep costs down. How well 24 translates into 12 remains to be seen, but there is no denying of the excitement of having Jack Bauer back on the small screen.

As a limited run companion piece to our series-spanning Dead Series Discussions we – Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix -will be posting reactions to each episode of Live Another Day as it airs. These “ReJacktions” are not as long or formal (ha!) as our other posts on the series, but instead give us a chance to add some reflections and observations for each episode. Once the season has ended, we’ll give Live Another Day a proper Dead Season Discussion before bidding farewell to 24. At least until Jack comes back again.

This week’s ReJacktion is focused on Episode 6 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.”

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.

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Jeff
Jordan randomly finds some suspicious files connected to Kate’s husband, Adam, and Steve tells him not to waste time looking at them right now. Mole much, Steve? That was a groaner moment for me, along with Naveed’s “surprise family member(s)”™, Heller’s sudden decision to give Jack carte blanche and Rask’s “magical wake-up juice.”

But guys, this episode was really good.

Why? Because it rediscovered the breakneck pace that made the best seasons of the show hum. More importantly, it subverted my expectations on several occasions, and that’s really saying something for a show like 24, that has been repeating itself since Season 2.

First, almost everything Kate. She’s tied up and tortured and I’m thinking “oh great, Belcheck is going to rescue her at the last minute with a well-placed bullet.” Nope. MI-5 knocks Belcheck out cold. That starts to get me really excited that the show might actually let Kate get out of this situation on her own (props if they killed her, but they wouldn’t). Then MI-5 starts a gunfight and I’m thinking “great, saved by someone else.” But no, one guy sticks around and Kate takes him out and frees herself. Let me repeat: a female agent got out of a deadly jam without help from Jack or really anyone else (two episodes after she basically saved Jack’s ass with a convenient air duct). Is this really 24? Sure we’ve seen Jack (and Sarah Walker) do this before, but he’s Jack.

Second, Jack makes a blind guess about Rask’s testing him on the name of the account manager. Of course he guesses right, but how often have we seen Jack just take a 50-50 shot (and Chloe fail to find the information in time)?

Third, MI-5 bungling everything. Yeah, we’ve seen other official parties–numerous suits from Division, Marvin the earless cop, Herc from The Wire–get in Jack’s way before, but the thing is, almost none of them have been this believably well-intentioned. Sure, it’s all based on dementiaphobia, but the Brits’ plan was valid enough for me (especially as it came from Jo from Spooks!)

Fourth, Simone. It’s stupid to replace Naveed’s cold feet with Simone’s after last episode, but her story takes so many twists in its few short scenes that I didn’t mind. I wish we knew better how/why Simone stabbed Farah, and it might have been more interesting if Jasmine had been hit by a car, neatly accomplishing Simone’s mission. Still, I half expected Jasmine to get hit or get away, so having Simone get pasted by the bus was nice. Of course, the real twist would’ve been if Simone was killed by the bus. Not the case.

Lastly, Steve. Yes, I know that Moles is the alternate title for 24, but until we know who he’s really working for, I’ll go with this one. Had he straight up called a known bad guy (a la Nina, Marianne, Logan, Sean, Dana) I wouldn’t be so forgiving. As it stands, it looks like Steve is somehow connected to framing and “killing” Adam (I don’t think he’s dead), and may not be connected with terror family (fingers crossed).

On top of this, Jack lies to Mark about Audrey’s happiness in marriage, Mark gets a call from the Russian minister, Rask blows himself up (along with the entire MI-5 team) rather than face capture and we find out that Jack has been a “freelance badass” for the past couple of years (awesome). There’s so much going on in this episode, and for me the good is trumping the bad.

What do you guys think? Is this episode “a mole too far,” status quo for late-era 24, an exciting throwback, or something else entirely?

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As I emailed ya’ll immediately after watching this episode (cleaned up for our army of loyal child readers):

EFF YESSSSSSSS Continue reading