24: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Superlatives

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.

For the last year, we—Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix—looked back at the entirety of 24, from its 2001 premiere to 2014’s Live Another Day. This month’s discussion focuses on our Superlatives, the Best and Worst that 24 had to offer through 206 hours of television.

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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Season Rankings
Jeff: Three, One, Two, Four, Five, Seven, Eight, Live Another Day, Six. As much as I’ve turned around on 5 and as much as I find 7 to be a delightful breath of fresh air in the late-series doldrums, I’ve simply got to dance with the one that brung me.
Zach: Take Jeff’s and swap Five and Four.
Patches: Three, Seven, Five, Four, Two, One, Eight, Live Another Day, Six. My big upset here is Season 7, which was the first season since S3 to introduce characters I truly cared about and the only season to seriously grapple with the War on Terror and the show’s own ideology.
MegaMix: Gots to go Three, Five, One, Four, Seven, Two, Eight, LAD, & Six. Wow.

Best Season
Jeff: Season 3, home to (arguably) the best episode of the series, which is also, thanks to a presidential press conference moving it from Tuesday 4/13/04 to Sunday 4/18/04, the lowest rated episode in 24’s initial 8 season run.
Zach: Season 3.
Patches: Season 3. We’ve said all there is to say. Well, not really. But we’ve said all we’re going to say.
MegaMix: Tres.

Worst Season
Jeff: Season 6.
Zach: Season 1 of 2.4.
Patches: Season 6. Yup.
MegaMix: 6, but honorable mention to LAD. 6 sucked, period. LAD was a disappointment. Sometimes disappointments are worse.

Best Performance
Jeff: Kief aside, I’ll go with Gregory Itzin as Charles Logan. It’s a role made for sinking your teeth into, and Itzin devours it. Cherry Jones may be the only non-Sutherland to win an Emmy for 24, but Itzin gets my vote.
Zach: Kiefer Sutherland. The show simply doesn’t exist without him.
Patches: It has to be Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, right? Master of the tortured tortured torturer? For the sake of discussion, I’ll go with Dennis Haysbert who expertly portrayed the president we wished we perpetually had. I’m not sure anyone on television emanates Haysbert’s level of integrity, strength, patience, wisdom, and moral certitude.
MegaMix: Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O’Brian. Honestly, Kiefer was fantastic, but Mary Lynn came out of nowhere with this role. She’s mostly done comedic work outside of this and absolutely steals most scenes.

vlcsnap-2013-11-17-00h24m36s193Worst Performance
Jeff: It’s hard to find a main character who isn’t brought down by bad writing alone. I’ll go with the Season 6 Palmers, Sandra (Regina King) and President Wayne (DB Woodside). Both are as flat as their dialogue. Also, and this may be sacrilege, but as great as he is in certain moments, I often feel like William Devane as James Heller is reading off of cue cards.
Zach: Fuck off, Cheng.
Patches: Leslie Hope as Teri Bauer in Season 1. 24 casted well enough to avoid anyone terrible joining the main cast, but Hope’s performance struck me as bland, boring, and uninspired. The writers sure didn’t do her any favors either, but “listless” isn’t the best way to elevate a character.
MegaMix: Elisha Cuthbert as Kim Bauer. As cute as she is, everything about her screams BLEH! She sticks out like a random cougar in the middle of a season. 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