I hate to use the phrase jump the shark. It was clever when someone coined it but it’s one of those things you hear all the damned time. People will say it every time a show has an off episode, or because they’ve decided it’s not cool to watch that show anymore, or because something changed in the show. They seem to miss the concept that it’s not just a slight change; jump the shark means a show gone utterly, disastrously wrong.
Yet, that term applies to season three of 24.
First let me say – Jack is still fucking Jack. Jack is the man, and it doesn’t matter how bad the show gets, he’s still Jack. Jack Bauer wasn’t addicted to heroin, as they say; heroin was addicted to Jack Bauer (and I must give props to my sweet-as-sugar ChelseaGirl for getting me to watch this show; she gets every bit of the credit).
But after watching two spectacular, addicting, irresistible roller-coaster seasons of this show back to back (and almost without sleep, that’s how bad it is watching this show, you just can’t put it down), I hit a wall at season three.
I could go on and on with this – the list of things that went wrong is amazing. Every single episode had something that started my eyes rolling, and this is a show that generally makes little things like logical inconsistencies irrelevant.
But – my god. It starts right from the first episode; a pointless partner for Jack, his teenage daughter somehow become, not just a staff member at CTU, but a high-level computer expert. A baby out of nowhere. President Palmer, the two-legged Muphasa, suddenly a weak and indecisive leader. A love interest who turns up in one episode to die in the next. An entire sub-plot (mexican drug-lords) which boils up and then evaporates pointlessly long before mid-season. A killing that makes no sense whatsoever, just because it means we get to see jack suffer a little more. Tony, the guy who almost turns Jack in for breaking the rules in seasons one and two, suddenly become mister fuck-the-rules-it’s-my-wife in season three.
By the end of the second episode, it had become clear something was horribly wrong. When the baby showed up, it seemed it’d dug deep. And yet it slides, and slides, and slides, digging deeper into the ground with each episode, to the point where you think it can’t get worse and it does.
I went from the point where I could not wait for netflix and had to rent at my local blockbuster, to the point where I kept saying god, how can we still have three more disks to go before it’s over?
This, my friends; this is the shark. Watch as we jump over it.
And so I finished it, and I can say, it did get better, pulling out shards and slivers of the old 24 with the last two episodes, and finishing with possibly Jack’s most gut-wrenching moment ever.
And I fear. Can season four go lower? God, it can, can’t it?
There’s a bright spot; season five, which I watched in real time and which hooked me, is truly great teevee. I can’t say if it’s as good as thefirst two, or better. Yet it stands out as a brilliant season of teevee. So I know it’s not a loss after season three. Yet, I wish for season four to start with a bobby-ewing-in-the-shower. Please.
Warn me, someone. Is season four as bad? Dare I put it my netflix queue?