iWINuFAIL's "Best of Television": 24

 For all of  the videogames I play, I spend an almost equal amount of time watching television.  Or rather, catching up on old shows.  I'm about to finish up The Sopranos, and then will star BSG.  Others I plan to watch are Deadwood and The Wire.

With all the television I watch, I wanted to do a series of bogs dealing with some of those shows.  Each blog will cover a different show that is no longer airing episodes.  The point is not to pit shows against eachother, but to examine the best parts of the show itself.

Because it was the first show I ever REALLY watched, and perhaps my favorite ever, I will start with 24.  For those who don't know, 24 is a drama about a counter-terrorist operative named jack Bauer.  The premise of the show is that each season, which is 24 episodes, covers a single day in real time.  Each episode is ony 43 minutes, but the clock keeps running during commercials.  So even though it only takes about 18 hours to watch on DVD, it does in fact cover an entire day.

Every season features a different threat against the United States, but there are typically additional storylines happening, such as an attempt to cover a murder by a Senator's son.  Later on some plotlines get reused, as the show radually declined.  As such, let's begin by:

Ranking the Seasons (Spoilers)

8.  Season 7

This was a mess.  Unclear plotline, muddled by too many threats, and no real focus.  Early on we are treated to an interesting story involving Jack finally forced to atone for his use of torture techniques.  However, this is quicky dropped in favor of a ludicrous plot to kill the President by African miitiamen, who turn out to be working for an American company, who turn out to be working for Russians, who turn out to be working for Americans.  Not even Tony's return could salvage this.  Oh, and kiling Bill?  Unacceptable.

Rating: 5/10

7.  Season 8

A surprising amount of people liked this season and I can't believe why.  Season 7 may have lacked the precision the show was originally known for, but at the very least had a fair amount of action.  Season 8 was a total bore, with a handful of firefights, which were few and far between.  Renee Walker is even worse than she was in Season 7, and I never bought their relationship.  The only redeeminng parts of this season were President Hassan, who proved the middle east CAN provide honorable leaders, and Charles Logan, whose Nixon-esque scheming chills the bone.

Rating: 6/10

6.  Season 6

This season was the beginning of a 3-year decline for the show, and some ven call it the show's worst.  I disagree.  Yes, the threat of nuclear weapons had been done before (twice) in Season 2 and 4.  The bad guys were stereotypical Muslim terrorists, and two-thirds through the season, the show does a 180 and changes the focus completely.  However, this season keeps it's head above the waterline simply for not being afraid to 'go there'.  A nuke detonating in LA, Jack's dad brutally killing his brother, and Jack killing Chinese politicians were all unexpected, and sickeningly satisfying.

Rating: 7/10

5.  Season 4

This is where it gets difficult.  I know plenty of people who would name any of the first 5 seasons as the best.  They were so good, it's unfortunate they are lumped together with the final 3, which were dismal in comparison.  I rank Season 4 'lowest' simply because it lacked some of the HOLY SHIT factor of the other seasons.  Well...accept for the President getting blown out of the sky.  Also, an amazing finale.

Rating: 8.5/10

4.  Season 3

Possibly the best threat in any season, a deady virus and subsequent outbreak.  Performances were fantastic all around.  I never iked Chappelle, but it was gut-wrenching to watch Jack forced to put him down, all to save the country.  It's okay though, cause a certain dark-haired bitch finally gets put in her place.

Rating: 9/10

3.  Season 1

In truth, I didn't really like the actual threat in 24's first season.  At least, not until near the end, when the Drazens themselves finally got involved.  Ira Gaines was an uninspiring villian, and in all honesty, I didn't care at all for Teri Bauer.  For me, the ony thing that hurts about her death is that she was pregnant, and told Jack this an hour before she died.  The best part of this season was actually the subpot involving Senator Palmer's campaign, and his son's murder which threatens to destroy his bid for the White House.  Mrs. Palmer's dogged attempts to control the Senator, and her fierce determination, are disturbing to watch.  Palmer eaving her at the end is so unbelivaby satisfying, made even better by his final line in the season:

"I'm leaving you, and I don't care if it hurts my campaign.  It's not that I don't want to be President, I truly do.  I just don't think you're fit to be the first lady."

Rating: 9/10

2.  Season 2

This was our first introduction to the Jack that would dominate the show in every season onward.  A broken man, he now only cares about getting the job done.  His pain is visibe in every line, every action.  Yet his determination is absolute.  Palmer, now in the White House, is fantastic.  His wife returns (though not as his wife), as ruthess as she was in Season 1.  George Mason is great as a determined, yet woefully ineffective leader of CTU.  His sacrifice is one of the show's greatest moments.  That, and the season's ending.

Rating: 9.5/10

1.  Season 5

Perhaps the greatest television season of a time.  Less than two minutes in, President Palmer, one of the Jack's closest friends and former President, is killed.  Along with him is Michele Dressler, and her husband Tony later 'joins' her.  Jack returns from his exile to remove a nerve gas threat.  The stakes are raised when we earn jack's mentor is behind it.  But what makes this season so special is the conspiracy.  Charles Logan is fantastic in his attempt to cover-up the day's events (hello, Nixon!), the best performance in the show's run.  Superb in every way, this is 24's finest hour (or day).

Rating: 10/10

 

Don't go away, where not done yet!  Now, let's rank the top 5 vilians:

TOP 5 VILLIANS

5. Nina Meyers

A real bitch, but great at playing people.  Watching her die was awesome.

4. Christopher Henderson

His part in Season 5 was made worse by the fact that without him, there is no Jack.

3. Sherry Palmer

She went from over-protective, to obsessive, to outright evil.

2. Stephen Saunders

Clever, calculating, and just plain mean.  Ordering the execution of Chappelle was flat-out cold.

1. President Charles Logan

What makes Palmer so despicabe is that he truly believes that by allowing the deaths of thousands, while assassinating the former President, he is somehow heping the country.

And now, the good guys:

TOP 5 HEROES

5. Tony Almieda

The only CTU agent who could ever measure up to Jack.

4. Chloe O'Brien

Without her, Jack couldn't have done what he did.  Should smile more though.

3. Bill Buchanan

CTU's best director, and an amazing person, Bill is what I hope to be when I'm over 60.

2. David Palmer

Inspiring courage, honor, and trust made him an amazing President-for a Democrat.

1. Jack Bauer

He's like if James Bond and a Mossad agent had a baby.  He's the reason I'm proud to be an American.  Too bad he's a teevision character...

And to close out this (overly-long) post, let's rank the top five moments of 24:

5.  George Says Goodbye (Silent Clock)

Knowing he's going to die from radiation poisoning, George hands Tony contro of CTU.  Later in the episode, he sacrifices his life (and saves Jack's) by detonating a nuke in the Mojave desert.  But it's his final moments at CTU, when the audience knows it's over for him, that are truly heartbreaking.

4.  Season 2 Ending (Sient Clock)

Jack saved the day, the country is safe.  As Palmer speaks to the country, he falls back, dying.  Agents swarm Palmer as the season ends.  Holy shit.

3.  Palmer leaves his wife

I mentioned this earlier, but to reiterate, it truy is the most satisfying moment of the season.

2.  "I'm going to need a hacksaw"

The first time we ever see jack use his "questionable" methods is accompanied by one of the greatest lines in television history.  Up there with Palmer dissing his wife.

1.  Jack Kills Nina

As if the fact that she betrayed him and killed his wife wasn't bad enough, Jack was forced to spend parts of seasons 2 and 3 working with Nina.  However, when Nina attempts to kill Kim, Jack finaly gets his revenge.  And it is oh so sweet.

Hnorable Mention: Season 5 Premiere

Aside from the slew of deaths to start things off, the fact that Jack manages to take out Palmer's killer in the same hour is crazy, if a little convenient.  Promising the man an ambulance to get information, then killing him once he talks, just plain Jack.

 

Wow my hands are sore!  Please feel free to comment, and tell me if you want to see more of these.

Dan Broadbent's picture

This show is pretty epic.  I'm currently on Season 8 on Netflix streaming.  I agree with most of your points here.

I have to disagree with you about Season 7 being the worst.  Maybe it was because of the 2-hour Redemption prequel to the Season, because I thought that was a great way to intro the season and kept me hooked.

One thing that always bugged me was when Bauer executed Ryan Chappelle.  Probably the most un-Bower like thing to happen in the show, even though Chappelle was a super annoying character.

iWINuFAIL's picture

In retrospect, I think I was a little hard on 7 and 8.  Don't get me wrong, the final three seasons in general were trash compared to the originals.  However, a bad season of 24 is still better than most shows in general, and I did like Season 7 more than some other shows.  

I guess taken on their own, and not compared to the other seasons, I'd give each of the final three a 7/10.

Also, I forgot to mention Redemption, which I actually enjoyed a lot.  8.5/10  Hopefully the film will be as good, if not better.

xgamer08's picture

You made some really good points about the show. I agree and disagree with season 8. It was boring at the start but I thought that the second half was pretty good. I think the whole Dana story was the main problem with season 8. She is the main reason the first half wasn't all that great. I agree 100% with you on Season 5 being the best. It was just epic in every way.

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