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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    It's officially official: 24's run on television ends in May. [Warning: if you aren't caught up on the show, spoilers to follow!]

    I have been watching the show since Day Five (haven't yet watched the previous four seasons) and thoroughly enjoyed it, even when the show was not at its best. That would be Day Six, in case you were wondering. The news that the show is ending kind of makes me sad, but on the other hand I have to admit that 24 has run its course. Day Eight has been better than either season six or seven, but the writers are definitely in the recycling-old-plot-lines phase. For example, this season I had been mentally awarding kudos to the writers for avoiding the timeworn "mole in CTU" plot line. This past week we learned that Katee Sackhoff's character is - surprise - The Mole in CTU! ::headdesk::

    The 24 producers have a gift for landing wonderful character actors for the show, which adds greatly to the fun of watching it. On the other hand it's frustrating to see said really good actors mouthing bad dialogue and playing cardboard characters whose function is to develop a specific plot point and then get killed in some fashion or other. Usually in their last fifteen minutes or so they are allowed to flash an intriguing bit of character development, only to get killed off or erased from the show just as the viewer starts to get interested (see also: Kurtwood Smith as the Senator in S7, Sean Astin as Lynn McGill/CTU head in S5, Jurgen Prochnow as the head of the Russian crime syndicate this season). Sometimes though the show excels itself and we get great actors who are allowed to go to town. Season 5 was perhaps the last time this happened. It featured Gregory Itzin as slippery President Logan, Jean Smart as his crazy-but-not-really-crazy wife (some reviewers compared her to the prophet Cassandra), and Peter Weller as Jack's former boss gone bad, Christopher Henderson. It rocked, and that was the season I got addicted.

    Are the plots ridiculous? Yes they are. Of course they are. As I said when I first started watching the show, 24 is basically an updated version of the cliffhanger serials from the 1930's. This is what makes Dave Barry's real time blog posts poking fun at every episode so much fun. The first season started with Jack protecting a senator who was running for President - reasonable. But the plots escalated and every season since has involved a sitting President and the White House; in fact, last season involved terrorists swimming the Potomac, breaking into the White House (from the river, through the foundation of the White House) and taking the President hostage. This is impossible as the Potomac River doesn't run anywhere close to the center of Washington, D.C. Stuff like this is unnecessary. You could put a strong character like Jack Bauer anywhere in any situation and the show would still be good.

    My final recommendation is this. When it comes to TV I have the attention span of a gnat. Usually even when I find a show that I like, I'll watch a few episodes and then quit. This has not happened with 24. I've seen every episode of the past four seasons, and for me, this is unheard of. When this season is over and the show ends I plan to log on to Netflix and start renting the previous four seasons. No other TV show has grabbed my interest like this one. If you've never seen it, give it a try; start with Season 1 and go from there, or at least start with Season 5 as I did. You won't regret it.




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