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: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Season Three

“HOW A FATAL VIRUS THREATENED, THEN SAVED, THE CHANDLER PLAZA HOTEL’S TRIPADVISOR RATING”

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–192 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, all three CSIs and three of four 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.

Please join us—Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix—as we take a look back at this series, discussing one season every month until the premiere of the new 12-episode miniseries 24: Live Another Day in May 2014.

This month’s discussion is focused on Season 3 of 24, which premiered in October of 2003.

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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Zach
This is the best season of 24.

In my opinion, it’s not even close. There are of course people who disagree with me, but they are dead wrong. Chappelle wrong. This season has it all: a new, interesting, and largely topical threat; great villains; Jack’s best sidekick; “play action” fake-outs, one of the series’ only non-rage-inducing relationship arcs; moments of revenge so long-awaited that even on viewing 80 I cheered and giggled like a school boy; and moments which genuinely shocked the viewers on a level not seen in the series outside of the end of S1 (and I contend one was more shocking). And if you want my truly radical fan-boy opinion… the finale of S3 has the best season ending scene… and is the single best episode of the show. It was never that good before or after. Yeah. Said that.

What I like most about this season, however, is something that perhaps is entirely a projection — a wish rather than a reality — and probably not the actual will of the writers: to me, S3 is the highly symbolic, dark parable of the tragic hero that is Jack Bauer. In what follows, I’d like to look at the season through the lens of a few symbols and metaphors. Continue reading

Dead Season Discussion: Knocking Over the Board in Game of Thrones Season 3 (Part 4)

Title CardWelcome to the second installment of Dead Season Discussion, where Jeff of Slazenger1 and I discuss Season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not only is Game of Thrones more popular than our first effort, ABC’s Last Resort, but it’s also a better program, meaning we probably won’t spend 2,000+ words discussing what we didn’t like about the show.

If the title didn’t make SEASON 3 SPOILERS obvious, then you need to start paying attention while you read. Oh, and also, book 3 spoiler alert. There are, however, NO spoilers from later in the book series, beyond what season 3 of the TV show covers.

For the final part of our Game of Thrones Season 3 analysis, we go back to the well for some more superlatives. If you haven’t read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 yet, here are the links. This time, though, there’s no theme. They’re all Reviewer’s Choice! Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Best Main Theme (Patches)
Ramin Djawadi: I have been a big fan of Ramin Djawadi’s work ever since his incredible soundtrack for EA’s 2010 Medal of Honor reboot. Although the Game of Thrones soundtracks aren’t at that level, the show’s main theme is the best theme song on television. It’s so good that I can’t watch an episode without watching the opening.

Most Blatant Ripoff of The CW’s Beauty and the Beast (Jeff)
Tyrion Lannister: The books make Tyrion sound ugly to begin with, something that couldn’t really be helped once Peter Dinklage was cast in the role. After Tyrion gets his face slashed during the Battle of Blackwater, the books frequently discuss his apparent lack of nose and general disfigurement. Rather than cause viewers to puke up lamprey pie every time they saw Tyrion, the TV team decided to go the CW route of “guy with a sexy scar.”  Probably a good move. Continue reading

Dead Season Discussion: Knocking Over the Board in Game of Thrones Season 3 (Part 3)

Title CardWelcome to the second installment of Dead Season Discussion, where Jeff of Slazenger1 and I discuss Season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not only is Game of Thrones more popular than our first effort, ABC’s Last Resort, but it’s also a better program, meaning we probably won’t spend 2,000+ words discussing what we didn’t like about the show.

If the title didn’t make SEASON 3 SPOILERS obvious, then you need to start paying attention while you read. Oh, and also, book 3 spoiler alert. There are, however, NO spoilers from later in the book series, beyond what season 3 of the TV show covers.

For the last two days, we’ve discussed Game of Thrones’ third season. Today, we get a little deeper with our look at the best/worst performances, episodes, and scenes of the season.

Patches: Let’s move to our trademark superlatives, which aren’t really trademarked as much as we are the only people to call them “superlatives.”

BEST PERFORMANCE. Who ya got?

Jeff: I’m going to go with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister. Guy will probably never get an Emmy for this, but deserves one for the Hot Tub scene alone.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister

Patches: Coster-Waldau’s versatility and growth makes him my choice too. I’ll still give a shout-out to Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister. He absolutely OWNED this season, mostly while seated. I would watch an entire episode of him writing letters, then ripping apart anyone who interrupts him. Continue reading

Dead Season Discussion: Knocking Over the Board in Game of Thrones Season 3 (Part 1)

Title CardWelcome to the second installment of Dead Season Discussion, where Jeff of Slazenger1 and I discuss Season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not only is Game of Thrones more popular than our first effort, ABC’s Last Resort, but it’s also a better program, meaning we probably won’t spend 2,000+ words discussing what we didn’t like about the show.

If the title didn’t make SEASON 3 SPOILERS obvious, then you need to start paying attention while you read. Oh, and also, book 3 spoiler alert. There are, however, NO spoilers from later in the book series, beyond what season 3 of the TV show covers.

With that, our Skype-based discussion and analysis of Season 3 as a whole begins…

Patches: Hey, dude. I’m here!

Jeff: Can we postpone for like 15 minutes, my dog is whining to go outside?

Patches: Haha. We can.

Jeff: Thanks for waiting, I’m back.

Patches: Are you ready to go now that the dog is walked, assuming that wasn’t a euphemism for something else?

Jeff: Yeah, I’m sorry it took so long, but I had to wait for him to poop. Then I had to pee. I’m ready now, I think.

Patches: I’m a teacher and it’s summer. Anything I need to do right now, I can do later tonight. Or tomorrow. Or next week… You get the idea.

Jeff: Alright, let’s start off with a general discussion of our feelings for season 3 as a whole. Do you have any general thoughts about these 10 episodes as a season of television? Continue reading