24: 205 hours of my life

24

As the last ever episode of 24 draws to an end, what is the final verdict? Were those 205 hours of my life spent watching all 9 seasons a waste of time? That sounds like a hell of a long time to be watching a short middle-aged man running around with a gun, calling everyone a son of a b*tch. But even the biggest critics of the series cannot deny that it is one of the most exciting and addictive crime dramas in the history of television. Lets look at some of the highlights and lowlights:

Highlights:

Michelle is infected, Season 3
When we all thought Michelle had been declared immune from the biological weapon… there comes the blood trickling out of her nose… She not only fooled the terrorists but us too.

Jack comes for Logan, Season 8
While the body armour was a little much, Logan’s reaction was just classic. What a great character portrayed perfectly by a great actor.

24: Redemption
I loved this – Jack struggling with his conscience with a nice setting for a new adventure which is completely plausible for a change. We saw a new, kinder side of Bauer which was well needed and reassuring for a Jack-loving audience.

Jack condemns Paul Raines to death, Season 4
This is just one of those moments that 24 does best – moral decisions. The tests that the characters and relationships go through are so ingenious that its like watching a horror – you don’t want to watch but you have to…

Jack returns after Chinese capture, Season 6
When we’re all desperate to find out what has become of Jack as the new season begins, here he his filthy and hairy, covered in scars with no memory of how he was before. What a great shock.

But remember that this is 24 and however brilliant it may be, there are always hideous moments. Here are the lowlights:

Jack appearing through the smoke, Season 5
So after a power plant blowing up in his face, a figure starts to emerge through the fire and smoke suspect slung over his shoulder. No, just… no.

Jack’s re-appearing black jumper/top, all Seasons
It is a kind of ‘field agent’ dress but lets face it, we much prefer Jack in a shirt or leather jacket. Much prefer his disguise as the German dealer in Season 7. And how does the same t-shirt seem to keep reappearing out of no-where anyway, no matter where he is?

Paula, Season 2
This was 24’s first attempt at comedy, and… well it wasn’t great. They got better, I’ll admit – some moments with Chloe did make me laugh in later seasons. But this ‘Paula’ character was a huge mistake.

Jack survives absolutely everything
Well this is almost every episode but my favourite unrealistic moments are definitely when Jack is revived after being tortured in Season 2 and then makes an immediate escape, overpowering a small army of men with weapons. I also rather enjoyed when he was shot dead in Season 4 with blood pouring out from his head and then was revived again, walking off into the sunset.

It is fantastic. It is ridiculous. It is so repetitive – Nina Meyers and Tony seem to reappear only ten times with each attack. It is completely racist and bias – every terrorist ever to attempt an attack on America is always either from Russia or China, who happen to be the biggest threats to the USA and every American criminal behind a conspiracy either has a British accent or is a ‘patriot’ claiming they only want to destroy America out of ‘love’ to the country. Because no American can ever have bad intentions. So it is a political weapon and a propaganda tool but does that make it any less thrilling?

What about 24: Live another day? It was given great reviews, labelled much better than the later series of 24. It started well, I thought, with the audience kept in the dark to why Jack is reappearing in London but I became unimpressed towards the end – just another time bomb ticking and an unoriginal race to find it. It seems that others agree with me as when the season started, the IMDB score was 9.4. Now it has settled at a disappointing 8.9 when you compare it to the likes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I liked setting in London, if you excuse the moment where Jack takes a gun from a British police officer. But for me, it was too fast paced, too much hard action and not enough character development or that juicy moral material which is usually so strong. It was also a lot more graphic than previous series, with no attempt to even slightly visually hide the deaths of Naveed, the Al-Harazi’s and Cheng. Jack with cold-blooded murder is not new to 24 but it is certainly not my favourite side of him. If we compare his character now to that of Season 1, it is not just his voice that has become ridiculously gruff but his character has completely changed. Yes, it is in response to everything that has happened but I also want to see that ’do the right thing’ side of his character that we fell in love with. And Audrey dying at the end? I think it needed to happen to avoid a sugar coated happy ending but I would have liked to see a bit more closure than Jack being whisked away to Moscow. Another season would be nice…

So what about the question I keep asking myself – why do we love it so much? It kept my Wednesday evenings alive and the whole programme has kept my imagination occupied so I thank it for that. It’s brilliant, clever, exciting and thrilling even through those unrealistic and repetitive moments and this is why it deserves a good name. 24 is pure escapism, pure entertainment and pure imagination and this is what television is all about.

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