Last night on Sky1 was the final episode of Day 8 and after nine years in the life of CTU agent Jack Bauer, the hit real-time drama has come to an end.
It has been an emotional ride with thrills and spills over the course of 192 episodes/hours. From losing his wife Teri in season one plus the constant kidnapping of daughter Kim, not forgetting losing his colleagues one-by-one in the following seasons, it’s been a tough life for Kiefer Sutherland’s character in 24.
Guardian writer Charlie Brooker has posted his view on the show and what the creators can do with a plausible idea of a spin-off!
Jack Bauer is no more
So. Farewell then, Jack Bauer. CTU agent and terrorist-botherer extraordinaire. You thwarted countless unspeakable plots. Apart from the ones perpetrated by your own writers. In those you were sadly complicit. Now your time has finally ended. But even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Unless it’s using the 24-hour format. Which yours, ironically, didn’t.
Apologies to EJ Thribb. Anyway, that’s enough poetry for one column. By the time you read this Bauer will be dead. Well, not dead exactly, but gone from our screens. The former hit series 24 has ground to a halt due to public indifference; the final episode, broadcast on Sky One this evening, culminated in surprisingly low-key fashion. Jack said goodbye to Chloe and shuffled off into the sunset, limping a bit because he was moderately wounded (“moderately wounded” by his standards, at any rate: anything less than a full lung dangling out of his chest cavity is a minor inconvenience to Bauer). He now exists only in the minds of fans and the creative team planning his first spinoff movie, which presumably will last precisely 240 minutes if there’s to be any notional continuity at all.
It’s a fairly inauspicious end to a series that, let’s not forget, was groundbreaking when it first appeared, back in 2001 when season-long story arcs were still a rarity rather than the norm, and the “real time” concept was an arresting gimmick. Furthermore, its sheer brutality was shocking. Not many hit series end their inaugural season with the hero cradling the corpse of his pregnant wife. It certainly didn’t work for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The audience choked on its Ribena. But 24 pulled it off. Which made it all the more disappointing that, having established an exciting new form, the show proceeded to repeat itself ad nauseum, until it all became so predictable that Jack was visibly yawning during some of the later torture scenes, and sometimes had to splash himself in the face with cold blood just to stay awake.
The real-time format was partly to blame, of course: it eventually turned the series into little more than a string of preposterous deadlines. Sometimes it felt like watching an adaptation of a paperback spy thriller as recounted by a six-year-old boy, who’s regurgitated a rough storyline from memory in one breathless sentence: “And then Jack stops the bomb but the man runs away so Jack chases him in a car but the car crashes into the sea and then a shark comes to eat Jack but Jack kills the shark with a sword and then Jack builds a helicopter out of some reeds and a coathanger and then Jack flies the helicopter into the terrorist’s head THE END.”
Come to think of it, rather than cancelling the series, Fox should be incredibly bold and recommission it using that system for next year: get a six-year-old boy to recount the plot of season one from memory, and then force everyone involved to shoot a word-for-word re-enactment of whatever he says, no matter how absurd. Don’t know about you, but I’d definitely tune in to watch Jack on the trail of a man with funny arms who stole his Lego. In episode four he rides a horse up the side of a building. In episode nine he climbs inside a robot and blows up everyone in the war. In episode 12 he eats some spaghetti and hides from a giant with a purple beard. It is, without question, the finest television series ever made.
Failing that, the “ticking clock” format is too good to leave alone. If CSI and NCIS can spin themselves off into independent mutations, why shouldn’t 24? How about a Sex and the City/24 hybrid in which Samantha has 24 hours to conceive? With anyone – man or beast? Potentially pornographic. OK, more sensibly: what about a version of 24 set during the second world war? Or in the middle of a Towering Inferno-style disaster? Or by a wall somewhere in or near Plymouth? Admittedly, that last concept needs work.
Best of all, they could create the ultimate mind-mangling edition by setting the whole thing 20 years in the future. Halfway through the series, a group of futuristic terrorists (white hair, silver bodysuits) set off a time-reversing pulse-bomb that makes events unfold in reverse. Fiendishly, they detonate it on the last Sunday in October, at the precise moment when the clocks go forward an hour. In the immediate aftermath, 10 members of Jack Bauer Jr’s team die of confusion trying to synchronise watches. It’s down to Jack Jr himself to save the day, but since the detonation of the timebomb moves further away with each passing second, his task gets harder and harder, and the series carries on way beyond its allotted 24 episodes, all the way back through the passage of time until it reaches the big bang, at which point it is revealed that the universe itself was created by a similar explosion – an explosion Jack’s great great great great great great great great forefather somehow manages to thwart, thereby cancelling the formation of time and space itself.
“The following takes place between now and never o’ clock.” Come on. It’s got a ring to it.
Source: The Guardian