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.

*********************

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

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.

********************

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.

********************

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 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.

********************

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?

vlcsnap-2014-06-05-07h27m11s234 vlcsnap-2014-06-05-07h27m55s174 vlcsnap-2014-06-05-07h28m04s9 vlcsnap-2014-06-05-07h28m11s72Zach
As I emailed ya’ll immediately after watching this episode (cleaned up for our army of loyal child readers):

EFF YESSSSSSSS Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 5 (3PM-4PM)

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 5 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.”

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

********************

Patches
I think we have run into the problem that plagues any weekly assessment of serialized television. We are watching a forest planted tree by tree.

We’ve all been down on Live Another Day thus far. We’ve found it slow, inconsistent, or samey. But maybe they just needed a few episodes to set everything up. If a couple boring episodes are the price we pay for a tight story and a classic Bauer rampage once the ball starts rolling, I bet we’ll look back more favorably on those first four episodes.

For what it’s worth, I think this was the best episode of the season so far. We got great conversations between Jack and Heller and Jack and Audrey, with the latter being particularly difficult to watch. The two have incredible chemistry and I buy their unresolved affections, even if Audrey should hate Jack’s guts. The only way that scene could have been better is if Audrey wasn’t the least interesting character on the show.

Both Mark Boudreau and Steve Navarro came around to Jack’s point of view. Even if they did those things to save relationships or bogart glory, respectively, they finally felt like characters, not obstacles.

Best of all, we experienced the sort of suspense that made me fall in love with 24 in the first place. The twists were surprising enough, the trap teased enough, and the realization late enough to keep a lump in my throat and my brain shouting “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” for the entire CIA raid. Seeing those helmet cams turn to static was a powerful image, as were the clear parallels between survivors crawling out of the rubble in London and in Yemen three years earlier.

I’ll reserve my judgment on the forest. But this episode belongs with 24’s proudest oaks and tallest redwoods.

Elsewhere… Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 4 (2PM-3PM)

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 4 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.”

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

********************

Patches
I think I will always remember this episode for the most incorrect statement ever made on 24, courtesy of White House Chief of Staff Richard Weed.

“That is not the same Jack Bauer you knew.”

I don’t know how to break this to you, dude, but there is only one Jack Bauer. That’s the Jack Bauer who puts his country before everything else. The Jack Bauer that stops at nothing to achieve what he believes to be the greater good. The Jack Bauer that lays waste to anyone who comes between him and that goal.

That’s the only Jack Bauer that’s existed since Teri’s death.

In other news… Continue reading

24: Live Another Day ReJacktions – Episode 3 (1PM-2PM)

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 the Episode 3 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.”

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

*************************

Patches
JACK BAUER SHOT TWO PROTESTERS IN THE LEG TO USE A RIOT AS COVER.

Let me back up a bit.

A concern I had going into Episode 3 was that Live Another Day would lose some of it’s oomph after the novelty of new 24 wore off. Last week, we all expressed degrees of excitement ranging from cautious optimism to 24 IS BACK, BITCHES! But what would happen after the thrill is gone?

I’m still on board. However, Jack’s inability to grieve with Chloe is reminiscent of his hospital conversation with Renee in Season 7. Audrey is still boring as shit, reminiscent of Seasons 4-6. And Catelyn Stark’s terror family brings back memories of Season 4’s Araz Family, especially after they ditched the cool “I don’t like my wife fucking other dudes for the cause” conflict in favor of a more generic “cold feet” angle. I’m sure Jeff, our local 24 historian, could give additional examples.

Worst of all, Jack might be turned over to the Russians and it’s implied that someone in the US government took out Chloe’s family. It’s like Jack’s day can’t just be about stopping a terrible thing from happening. He also needs to evade his own government while doing it. My hope was that they would cut that sort of padding in a shortened season, but I was wrong.

Thankfully, Live Another Day is trying some novel ideas. Continue reading