24 gone horribly wrong

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 […]

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?

7 thoughts on “24 gone horribly wrong”

  1. Season 4 is better than season 3 but still not good. Its got some good acting in the supporting roles, and some neat moments, but still: meh. Its also way more violent than previous seasons. Its worth watching if you want to be a completist, I suppose.

    Its actually a wonder that season 5 turned out as good as it did.

  2. I actually felt that way about Season 1. It was absolutely amazing for the first 3/4 of the season, but once it hit the last 5 or 6 episodes (amnisia, Kim escaping, getting captured, escaping, getting captured, escaping, getting captured…) I wanted to throw shit at my TV. It was still enjoyable, and the finale was fantastic, but the drop-off in quality was really, really sudden and seriously deflated any desire I had to watch the other seasons. I have little enough time to catch up on all the really good TV I’ve missed (Still have to catch up on Battlestar Galactica, apparently…) to bother giving shows second chances….

  3. Hey Gregg and Laura. I like how this topic brings you outta the woodwork. B^)

    Laura, i *like* the idea of more violence. Call me a sick, perverse bastard (and who’s gonna argue), but violence is one of the reasons I watch this show. But as long as 4 beats 3, I’ll soldier through. And yeah, honestly, I’m amazed that they pulled season 5 out after what i’ve seen of 3 and heard of 4.

    Gregg, you may just not be cut out for 24. Yes, every season has gaping holes and plot twists that make your teeth ache; but the thing that works, when it works, is that Jack screams Do it! Now! or Dammit! or Tell me where the [bomb, virus, poison gas, my lunch] is! and you just pump your fist or sigh and say Jack’s the fucking man. The little holes gistop mattering because it’s not about that, it’s about how they play it, about how damned cool Jack is, about how they manage to make each episode seem like a season ender for any other show.

    That’s where season three breaks down, really. The pacing falls on the floor, AND you get a sharp up-swing in plot problems. So suddenly you have way more issues to roll your eyes at, AND far too much time to think about it. They clearly padded out to get 24 episodes here, where seasons one and two it felt like you never had enough time, the episodes were over too fast and when you’re watching it on DVD you feel like you Just. Can’t. Breath.

    I’m a bastard about spotting plot holes. I see them everywhere. And with seasons 1, 2, and 5, I just don’t care, it doesn’t matter.

  4. Remember that social network we used to be on where the messages we all posted lost their linearity completely? Yeah, I’m doing that shit to your blog, now.

    First off: Season 1 of 24 was fucking incredible. I think I’ve seen snatches of another season and it didn’t rivet me. That show could only really work if each new season was 24 hrs with someone completely different – I would however have no problem, wierdly, with that different person being Keiffer Sutherland / Jack bauer every single time. Jack bauer the firefighter. Jack bauer the racecar driver. Jack bauer the Fucking astronaught and Oh my god the oxygen tank’s blown loos and is flaoting in space and if the crew is gonna be able to breathe Jack’s gonna have to get nikolai the alcoholic russion scientist to go out on a spacewalk with him (pointing a harpoon gerry-rigged from a fire extinguisher at him the whole time, ’cause you need that violence). Jack Bauer the oil paltform worker in saudi arabia might be too… too something for the masses, though. Still, I’d like to see it.

    Why did I come here in the first place? Oh, yeah. This post, about finishing stuff (and I’ve caught that disease too and I know it shows), and about things getting better. It gets better. Way better. Well, in spurts. At least, this is what I’ve been led to believe.

    And great entries, by the way.

  5. I love it when you go non-linear, Buck. And just to make it worse I moved your comment to where I thought it should be, not where you put it.

    Anyway, yes, i love it. Jack in Space. Jack in WWII. He’s the Eternal Champion; the same character, wherever he goes in the multiverse. That’s brilliant. Keifer is just so fucking brilliant at playing that charcter, you could drop him anywhere and anywhen and have it make sense. I can see him fighting pirates on the spanish main or defending the alamo or at the battle of hastings.

    Wait – Jedi Jack.

    C’mon, it works anywhere; “Dammit!

  6. You have no idea how hard I just laughed when I realised that you’d done this. Fucking Awesome

    And yeah, that’s the idea I was going for. I fell in love with Keiffer actually when he was much younger, in the films lost boys and flatliners. Even back then he projected charisma, which is why he was always the leader. It was little boy vulnerable charisma, though. Now that he’s older of course that feeling of being sucked up in what he’s feeling is less vulnerable and more gritty, which is cool.

    Jedi Jack 24 would have to be during Palpatine’s takeover. And if he was a jedi continuity dicates that he’d have to lose. A latter day Jack solo might work, though.

  7. Fuck that, if Jack were a Jedi they’d have won.

    On the other hand, imagine him in Vader’s role. Forget wheeze, wheeze, we want the plans, it’s TELL ME WHERE THE PLANS ARE, *NOW*!.

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