Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The cancellation of "24" -- an exercise in inevitability
When the announcement came down last week that this season of the Fox action drama "24" would be the show's last, I wasn't surprised. Well, OK, I guess it would have been hard to be totally surprised, given that rumors of the show's cancellation had been swirling for a while.
But even when the initial rumors surfaced, I wasn't shocked. Actually, I'd already promised myself that, if this season failed to surprise me (as it has), it would be my last one as a viewer. After all, it seems that "24" has kind of reached its natural end.
Sure, this season is hardly the gobsmacking travesty that season six was (I'm sorry, but no one wants to know about Jack Bauer's daddy issues. We know he has them. We don't need 12 to 14 hours of TV devoted to dissecting them). In fact, it's not really that bad. It's just all kind of been done before.
For instance, this season, we've seen CTU infiltrated by its umpteenth mole (Katee Sackoff's Dana Walsh, playing a sort of cut-rate Nina Meyers). We've seen bad guys who seem sinister, then turn out not to be sinister -- and then turn out to be even MORE sinister than we originally thought (um, didn't they fish that lake dry with last season's Tony Almeida story line?).
We've seen Jack defy authority. We've seen Chloe defy authority. We've seen a lot of clenched jaws, explosions and people yelling "NOW!" at the top of their lungs. Yes, that's what "24" is all about, but it's getting kind of old.
The worst part of this season is that Keifer Sutherland's Jack -- always the strongest part of the show, no matter what horrible things he does -- has been more or less reduced to a supporting player this season. Instead, we've gotten significant face time with Sackoff's annoying character...who turned out to be a villain! Well, then, why were we supposed to care about her?
Don't get me wrong. This season hasn't been a total loss. A few weeks ago, we had that great moment when Chloe drew a gun on an NSA guy and bullied him into letting her rebuild CTU's network. In true Chloe fashion, she told the NSA guy she didn't want to hurt him because "you're probably an OK guy when you're not at work."
And, of course, Sutherland's oddly human performance as the superhuman Jack Bauer is always worth tuning in for.
But, even with these bright spots, I'm glad the show is on its way out. Better that it leave when it has at least a little life left in it.