After eight excruciatingly long days, it seems that Jack Bauer can finally retire. Mondays on Fox will no longer be marked by the whispers and yells of Bauer, nor will they consist of speculation as to who is the mole in the office. On Friday, March 26, Fox announced that after eight successful seasons, the clock would stop ticking on ’24.”
Eight years of yelling, ‘Tell me where my [fill in appropriate name here] is!” has reached an end. And, I must say, I am not all together surprised or disappointed, and not just because the decision was a long anticipated one. By ending after this eighth (and inconsistent) season, the show can at least exit with a sense of accomplishment and pride rather than to the boos of an audience let down by an unnecessary ninth season.
The most recent all-nighter of Bauer’s life did not really keep me on my toes, causing me to cross the show off my TiVo list. However, somewhere amongst the explosions, fistfights and torture, the ’24” phenomenon reeled me in.
The Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) and Bauer’s team became a staple in the fall schedule on Fox in 2001, when ’24” hit the airwaves. The real time premise unfolding the events of this anti-terrorist division of the government in 24 hours immediately grabbed the attention of audiences, as well as awards.
Over the course of eight seasons ’24” has accumulated 68 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. Kiefer Sutherland, the man who defined one of the most notable heroes on television, has been nominated six times for the leading role and has won once.
Throughout the show’s run, ’24” became more than a television show. In every best-of-the-decade-list I read at the start of 2010, ’24” was included in there somewhere. This was the show that re-defined what dramatic television could be. Big screen actors were tempted to work on the small screen for the opportunities a show like this offered. The definition of DVD marathon barely existed before a show like this hit the box sets.
But perhaps some of the most notable aspects of this show, which has become a staple of American television, are some of its most controversial. The entire series has always been questioned about the ways in which Bauer has maneuvered outside of government-issued techniques.
It has even been suggested that the ’24” torture techniques inspired the Bush administration’s questionable tactics at Guantanamo Bay. According to a novel by British lawyer and author Philippe Sands, Bauer ‘gave people a lot of ideas.”
This ‘American hero” would do whatever it took to protect his country, no matter the consequences. Jack Bauer’s moral compass points toward whatever will get the job done the end always justified the mean.
On the flip side, ’24” has striven to reflect current political issues throughout its run by employing an African-American President in its first season and a female president in the past two seasons.
If ’24” isn’t remembered for either its politics or controversy, there is one thing that definitely won’t be forgotten. The stunts and special effects on this television show have out-matched any show in competition. ’24” functioned on a blockbuster scale, spending millions of dollars per episode to put together some of the most elaborate catastrophes on the small screen.
Nuclear bombs have detonated; cars have leapt off of parking garages; planes, trains and automobiles have suffered the consequences of the show’s destructive path.
’24” has enabled some of the most nail-biting moments on television. From the start of the show’s run, the word cliffhanger was pushed to the limit with twists and turns at every corner over the course of one hour.
But perhaps this is part of what turned into criticism in the past couple of years. We knew there would be a mole in the agency. We knew a bomb would be stolen or missing. We could practically dictate Bauer’s lines before he said them. There are only so many national crisis scenarios you can create without getting repetitive after eight years.
So Jack Bauer’s bow off the screen seems to be coming at a good time. And just because CTU is exiting television definitely doesn’t mean you can hold these guys back for long. Speculation and chatter has already begun around the very likely possibility of a ’24” feature length film. While I will definitely be there opening night, I can’t see how it will be quite the same without the clock counting down the moments. Unless they title the movie ‘Two,” with Bauer saving the world in two hours flat, I’m skeptical that the real time premise will carry over to the theaters.
In the mean time I have an entire season to catch up on, during which I will be yelling ‘Tell me where my “24’ is!” The clock’s final moments will countdown on the May 24 (get it?) series finale.
’24” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.