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 Five

“EVERYONE YOU LOVE DIES RIGHT AWAY”

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 5 of 24, which premiered in January of 2006.

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
In season 5, 24 is on the decline. It’s not that the show is bad, but unfortunately it recycles several old ideas and brings us new characters and situations we never knew we didn’t want.

At CTU we get unwitting mole (and Chloe banger) Spenser Wolff, post-LOTR Sean Astin as Lynn McGill, the requisite “suit from Division” who comes in and messes everything up (along with his meth-head sister), Soul Man himself, C. Thomas Howell, as Kim’s psychologist/boyfriend, Barry, and also Miles Papazian. I hate Miles Papazian.

Elsewhere we get a love story between Aaron Pierce and Martha Logan. We get a candidate for worst non-season-6 episode, in which a Russian sex slave goes all Mrs. Ortega on her captor. Worst of all, we get an overly complex hierarchy of foreign and domestic villains involved in a plot hatched by weasely Charles Logan, whose evil is revealed in the most high-stakes ridicu-twist this side of season 6.

There are still classic 24 moments, scissor meets neck, submarine showdown, Walt Cummings’ beating, kneecapping Miriam Henderson and Jack choking half of the cast (seriously: Walt, Curtis, Barry, Collette, Audrey, Miles, Bierko). However, characters like Curtis and Edgar get brushed aside, with the former sitting out 6 episodes, and the latter sidelined until he catches a case of nerves, er, nerve gas. Chloe gets more of the same-old, secretly helping Jack on no less than three separate occasions. By the end of the season we meet her never-before-mentioned ex-husband, Morris. Sadly, he’s here to stay.

More baffling: Continue reading

24: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Season One

“JACK BAUER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY OF THE CALIFORNIA PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY”

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 impending finales of Breaking Bad and 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 one of 24, which premiered in November of 2001.

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24, and strong language. Parental discretion is advised.

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Jeff
24 was my TV series. It was the very first show I discovered on my own and watched as it aired from the first episode to the last. I took pride in the fact that I “found” it and could loan my season one DVD set to all of my friends.

The biggest selling point for the show is its real-time format. The one-episode-equals-one-hour / one-season-equals-one-day gimmick is brilliant. Real-time wasn’t exactly new to film and TV when 24 came along with several movies and TV episodes condensing time and using long takes (see the X-Files episode “Triangle” for a fun example). Even so, no 2-hour film or TV series was ever this ambitious with the real-time premise. Continue reading