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 11 (9PM-10PM)

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 11 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 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
I’ll calling it, guys. Live Another Day is the most frustrating season in 24’s run. Which is not to say it’s the worst, mind you, but rather the least consistent. Season 6, hilariously skewered by our own Zach here, was terrible, but it didn’t do much after E4 to get our hopes up. Season 8 may have been forgettable, but Dana Walsh aside, it was never downright infuriating. But Live Another Day has alternated between great and terrible so many times it feels like I’m watching Star Trek movies.

First, if I may ape Zach’s bit from Episode 7,

THIS WEEK’S REJACKTIONS BROUGHT TO YOU BY NARRATIVE NECESSITY

I swear this episode was the last one written. It’s the only explanation. The writers wrote the finale first, then went back and started from the premiere, except that when they got to this episode, they realized they didn’t know how to logically move the pieces from E10 to the finale. This week’s episode set up the finale, but did so in ways that constantly made me say, sometimes out loud, “Of course. Why wouldn’t that happen?”

Of course President Heller would escalate our military readiness. Why wouldn’t he do that? It’s not like standing down and/or taking one on the chin from China would help our case with the Chinese Premier.

Of course Audrey would tell Jack to kill Cheng. Why wouldn’t she do that? It’s not like he is the key to stopping a globally crippling war or anything.

Of course Ambassador Moustache was killed by a hilariously long fragment of breakaway glass. Why wouldn’t that happen?

Of course everyone with Audrey gets sniped. Why wouldn’t that happen? I’m sure there’s perfectly reasonable explanation for how Cheng knew the meeting’s location or why he would leave a sniper on British soil while making his escape.

Just terrible…

Speaking of Cheng, although I was initially receptive to his return, this episode soured me, mostly because I foolishly believed they would explain how he escaped. Instead, 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 9 (7PM-8PM)

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 9 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 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
So, uhhhhh… how about that noble sacrifice, huh guys?

A week after I subtitled my thoughts “How I Learned To Stop Giving a Shit and Love 24 For What It Is,” here I am to analyze the hell out of things again. It’s indicative of post-S5 24 that I continue to vacillate about each episode and about Live Another Day in general. If 24 could give me some consistency, I could probably return the favor.

But no, 24 copped out of last week’s bold decision, delivering a Jack Bauer-sized dose of revivium. I generally don’t support narrative backtracking, especially when it neuters one of the best episodes of your series.

And that’s assuming it was even possible in the time given. About 90 seconds passed between the time Heller started walking onto the field and Margot getting a positive ID on Heller. So two minutes, tops, for Chloe to finish hacking the drone, call Jack, Jack to come up with and communicate a plan, Chloe to loop the video, and for Jack to sprint out to midfield of a massive soccer stadium and escort an unwilling president off the field.

Just sayin’…

And if Season 7 stands out due to the (comparative) nuance with which it dealt with the War on Terror, Live Another Day is its antithesis. Not only has it been ham-fisted with its examination of current events Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 8 (6PM-7PM)

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 8 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 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
Poor Richard Heller.

Sure, it’s likely that he and his dad cut off all contact after the events of season 4. After all, when you and your dad are complete opposites politically, your dad has you tortured for hours and then forces you to reveal that you’re gay to the staff of CTU, chances are you’re not going to be happy with him. Still, the fact that this episode denied his existence and that President Heller didn’t give one thought to his only son before checking out is unfortunate.

Or maybe he just called him during a commercial break.

Bad dad-ness aside, I really enjoyed this episode. I probably enjoyed it more than I should have, considering it’s sort of a retread of Chappelle’s final hour (with a bit of Mason-like sacrifice thrown in). When you’re going to steal (even if it’s from yourself, something 24 knows A LOT about), steal from the best. It just works.

Your mileage may vary on Margot and Heller suddenly deciding and believing, respectively, that there is such a thing as a noble and honest terrorist. But of course, Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 7 (5PM-6PM)

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 7 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 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
“I just hate these people”

It’s the first character development we’ve seen from Jack Bauer since he chatted with Senator Mayer and Larry Moss in Season 7. As Jack apologized to Agent Morgan for some “enhanced interrogation” with Simone, he says “I just hate these people…for thinking there could be anything that would justify what they’re doing.”

Every conversation Jack has ever had about ends and means has been coldly rational. They’ve been about the calculus of one tortured man versus one prevented nuclear detonation. They’ve been about the needs of the many weighed against the needs of the few.

But what if this was the real Jack Bauer the whole time? Continue reading