Jack Bauer Power Hour

24 heading down the home stretch on a roll

Season 8, or day 8 for us fans of 24, has been a rocky road overall. A decent start to the year, then followed by a sometimes painful 10 episode chunk, day 8 finally got its rhythm just around the half-way mark. And even though we have had to suspend our disbelief more than ever before during the course of this season, and endure some questionable writing decisions made by the creative team, this strong finish has bumped Day 8 up to “good-very good” status.

But no, not great.

But before I say anything specifically about last nights episode, which just happens to be the second to last episode EVER, let me first give you a quick run-down of my overall thoughts on season 8 (SPOILER ALERT) …

24 has ALWAYS had pacing issues (except for Season 5) and season 8 is no exception. It’s ironic because I actually wanted the creative team to take its time with the story telling this year, and to keep the big time action for later on in the season. And this is what they did. The problem though is that they needed to fill that slower pace with some interesting characters and plot developments, and when it comes to that, they did nether. I think we can all agree that the Dana Walsh and her crazy ex-boyfriend/buddy storyline was a major drag to the first half of the season EVEN if it actually did lead somewhere (Dana being the mole), it was still bad television. This storyline, combined with the slower pace in the first 10 chunks of episodes, had us almost facing the reality that this once great show would be ending on it’s worst season ever.

Here is the thing with pacing, and the truth about this show. 24 is as VERY hard show to pace out over the 24 episode span. I mean, think about the formula that they need to follow… The creative team always needs to start a season off with a bang (especially since they started each year with the first four hours airing two days straight), which is then follow with a slowdown in the action for the next chunk of episodes. You can’t blow the load early when you still got 14 or 15 episodes still to go afterwards. So the creative team needs to slow it down, and start a build up to the always big halfway mark, where we always get some big plot developments and game changers. With that momentum, they then continue forward and head to the final push for the season finale. The problem 24 has usually had over the past 8 yeas has been finding ways to successful pull off each of the different types of acts during the season, and make one complete quality package.

Here is a look at the pacing for each season:

Wash, rinse, repeat in Season one – In the first half of season one , Kim and Teri were kidnapped and there was an assassination attempt on Palmer. The second half of the season saw the exact same things.

Finding a nuke is better then finding a keycard in Season two – Actually not a bad paced season With CTU blowing up to start the year, the search for the nuke until the half way point, and then stopping a war to wrap it up, not bad at all. That being said, the mission to find the keycard in the second half was a bit of a letdown from the first half.

ALMOST Perfect Season 3 – A virus gets out to start the year (well, not really the virus, but they thought it was), which lead to a prison break. We then travelled to Mexico for a stretch and back to LA, which then lead to the REAL virus getting out and being released in a hotel. This was followed by the best stretch of episodes IMO of 24 ever as Jack went to war against Stephen Saunders. The prison break and Mexico trip was inconsistent, but strong enough to keep that early slower pace interesting and allowed the show to build to a stellar and exciting final 10 episodes.

Going overboard on trying to maintain a high action level in Season 4- Habib Marwan tried to kill the Secretary of Defense, force nuclear power plants into meltdown, stole  a stealth fighter and shot down Air Force One, MAYBE killed the president (we never heard what happened to John Keller except that he survived the initial crash), and tried to hit LA with a stolen nuclear missile. ALL in 24 hours. WAAAAY too much of the big stuff. Liked the first half of the season, but was just warn out by the time the year got into the home stretch.

Perfect season 5 – With Palmer and Michelle taken out to start the year, a solid early section with Jack trying to stop Vladimir Bierko, which truthfully was looking like they were facing another “blowing the load too early” situation. Luckily though, the Jack vs the president storyline in the second half kicked it up to it’s highest level ever. Plus, a great final twist with the Chinese to cap it off.

Blowing the load too early in Season 6-Setting off a nuke at the end of hour 4. What else can you do after that? The season started huge, and slowly went down hill to it’s horrible and dull ending.

Been there, done that in season 7 – Having Tony as the bad guy helped make the first chunk of episodes solid, and the whole Sangala think worked out really well up until after the White House invasion. Unfortunately, and this is something that actually started in season 6, the second half of day 7 was just adding to the notion that this show is one that should have ended back in season 5. Every little story line was now becoming just too repetitive. We saw another mole in CTU/FBI. Another bio-weapon. Another assassin. Another Jack on the run from the cops. IF any of these things were being done for the first time, this might have been a FANTASTIC year. But at this point, all those things have been done during every previous season of the show (and in fact, sometimes more then once in a season). Day 7 was actually a very good year, but that Been There, Done That vibe had certainly brought the show down a peg.

When this show has it’s pacing set properly, and is done in a quality fashion, this show rocks (season 2, 3, 5). But when the pacing is off, it leads to problems (season 1, 4,6). Season 8 has had decent pacing, but not always in a quality fashion.

Next week after the season finale I will talk more about the specific issues I had with some of the creative decisions in season 8, but right now I can tell you that having Jack gone crazy is great stuff, and last nights Jack vs Logan story was fantastic stuff. Logan has always been a favorite of mine, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this show has turned it up a notch just as he gets back in the picture. And that murder scene of the russians? BRUTAL stuff! And I love it!

For a while there, watching 24 was starting to feel like doing homework. But now, I am back to being excited for every Monday night.

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About theprogram101
From reading this everyday, you should get an idea about me.

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