M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, March 16, 2010  

It's Been Real

So, time may be up. The clock is ticking. Counting down to the top of the hour. Sorry, I'm just trying to get all my time metaphors out of the way before I get into the meat of this piece about the possible end of 24.

I was more into it than anyone else I knew when it premiered in 2001. It wasn't always easy to get the channel switched over from Buffy right at eight, and Trash quit on the show pretty early on. But I was fascinated by the real-time concept, and was beyond eager to see how it was going to be pulled off. The answer, of course, was that it wasn't, always, but that first season was pretty entertaining. Episode 12, when Kiefer closed in on Ira Gaines and rescued his family, remains a legend that the show has yet to top.

I limped through the second season, missing several episodes, including the finale. And when the third season premiered, I didn't bother to tune in at all. "It's just too much work to keep up with," I told Trash.

Several months later, I found myself on the phone with Sars, who was saying to me, "So…24?" I still don't know what became of the original recapper, Gustave, who originated the character names of Kiefer, Spawn, Potato Face, and Soul Patch, a couple of which I still use. All I knew was that I had some big shoes to fill. That was almost six years ago, and it's how I ended up starting my favorite writing gig ever.

This is not to say that 24 has always been my favorite show to recap. I've been privileged to cover better shows (Six Feet Under, Big Love, Rome), shows that fit my abilities better (Kid Nation, Rock Star: Supernova), and shows that frankly felt like a punishment for something I'd done wrong (Windfall, Tell Me You Love Me, Big Brother). But it was hard not to think of 24 as -- and this is going to sound really pretentious -- my own personal "flagship" show. I always felt like if I ever needed, for whatever reason, to drop every show but one, 24 would be that show.

Which is not to say that it doesn't make me crazy. Like many great relationships, this is of the love-hate variety. And no, I'm not talking about the infamous cougar "plotline," which I recall (possibly incorrectly) as just a brief shot, almost a throwaway moment that's been blown out of proportion as everything that's ever been wrong with the show in general, and the Kim storylines in particular. When in fact there are so many more unforgivable sins the show has committed over the years. Teri's amnesia storyline in Season One. Marwan's Rube Goldberg plan to nuke L.A. in Season Four. And worst of all, the fact that people from young intelligence agents all the way up to Antonin freaking Scalia cite Jack Bauer as a model for how real-life interrogators should behave. This show has probably done more than any John Yoo memo to legitimize torture in the eyes of the American people, and I am so not cool with that.

So it was with mixed emotions that I heard last week that 24 might be getting canceled. It's expensive, it's plateaued, the whole bit. You know the deal. Of course I've been hearing for years that every season might be the last one. Hell, I'm on record myself as saying the first season would be the last one. Or at least the last full season. Remember Murder One? Exactly.

Now I'm working on my 115th episode recap of the show, which I believe is the second-oldest scripted series TWoP covers (after Smallville, whose ex-recapper Omar is, I hope, reading this with patient indulgence). I've been doing this longer than I was in high school and junior high combined, and frankly, have expended a lot more mental effort at it. And I think 115 is more episodes than any actor has appeared in, with the obvious exception of Kiefer Sutherland himself (thank you, Mary Lynn Rajskub's maternity leave!).

And so it was with even more mixed emotions that I heard that NBC might pick it up. On the one hand, maybe the show really has run its course, even discounting NBC's historical anti-Midas touch. On the other hand, last night's episode -- coming at a point in the season when the show's typically just marking real time between the exciting kickoff and the shocking finale -- may actually have been its second-best ever. I was actually rubbing my hands in glee at the end of it, and the last time I did that with a show Katee Sackhoff was on, it sure as hell wasn't this one.

So, to wrap up with more obligatory time and clock imagery, as 24's metaphorical alarm clock finally goes off, it looks like I might be combining my love-hate relationship with this show with my love-hate relationship with something else that's a big part of my life: the snooze button.

posted by M. Giant 10:36 AM 3 comments


What a timely post...pun intended. I just deleted 11 hours of 24 from this season off my DVR. It was staring us in the face as our % available creeped steadily downward. A quick click of the remote and we are no longer committed to watching what I've heard is a fairly mediocre season. But I may go back and read your recaps....much faster than watching an episode although I'm sure each one takes you many, many hours.

By Blogger Stacey, at March 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

Having re-watched S2 recently, you're correct on the cougar "plotline". (Admittedly what cracked me up the most about watching that the second time was that she was rescued by Johnny Chase.) My own personal low points for 24 (besides all the torture porn, which as well as being dodgy as all hell also became kind of.. boring after a while - quick! Torture someone! Just once it would be nice to get some false information and go haring off for three hours on the completely wrong track) are pretty much all the virus parts of S3 - these are also my high points, being some of the funniest bad science I've ever watched.

I kind of dropped off watching the last couple of seasons though - left the country mid-season, didn't pick it up again when I got back. That and it hasn't really been the same since they killed Nina. Or since they "revealed" Nina actually (still one of my low points. I totally wanted her to be a double agent under deep cover. Dammit. On the other hand they did kill Teri... so not all bad.)

By Anonymous lsn, at March 17, 2010 at 6:45 PM  

Your recaps of 24 are what made me start reading your blog.

And Jack Bauer, in our house he has more clout than anyone with the possible exceptions of Chuck Norris and our daughter.

By Blogger GhostGirl, at March 20, 2010 at 1:29 PM  

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