Sunday is the return of Jack Bauer to our TV sets and I have mixed feelings about whether I should be excited or not. Every year for the past 5 years I start watching 24 excited about the direction the show is headed and this season is appearing to be no different as early reviews on the first 4 episodes are uniformly good. But then every year as the season moves on I end up disappointed.
The inflection point is usually around episode 13-14 when it becomes clear the writers are looking for ways to stretch what should be a 12 episode arc to a 24 episode arc. They tend to try and hide the stretching with a “shocking” death that is meaningful for all of 10 seconds before the show pushes on (see Edgar or Tony) and a plot twist that is out of left field but is in no way consistent with anything that’s happened before (see President as traitor). The season usually gets rounded out with an artificial feeling of closure by having Jack stop whatever disaster he’s been working on for the past 24 hours while introducing a plot thread of a bigger bad guy that never gets picked up again (see Paul Crane).
I still remain shocked at the number of critics who raved about last season which to me represented the worst faults of the show. Don’t get me wrong, I like 24 as a show but really wish they’d shake up the formula. Here’s what I’d like to see. A single story that takes place in 2 twelve episode arcs with each separated by 6 months. The time lag between the first and second halves give the writers real material to use instead of what seems like filler. Honestly if I have to see Jack and members of CTU enter a building where the terrorists are and have them escape out the back door at the last minute I will hit the roof.
Still, I will watch season 6. As I understand it, this season terrorist attacks actually occur on US soil and Wayne Palmer who is now President brings Jack back from China to do what he does best. I just hope I don’t end up disappointed.