Was 24 trying to get killed?

Preparing for life without “the island” already was hard enough for some people.

But in the span of a week in May, viewers of good TV must prepare themselves to deal with life without Lost and without Jack Bauer.

move over wayne. there's a new crappy 24 sheriff in town.

move over wayne. there's a new crappy 24 sheriff in town.

Kiefer Sutherland announced over the weekend that 24 will end after this year’s 8th season, a victim of sagging ratings, saggier stories and its own exploding expense sheet. The show has not-so-quietly been going downhill for the last four years (at least), starting with the ridiculously preposterous Day 6 — the “suitcase nukes” and Jack’s boring family history — and culminating this year with the heinous Dana Walsh, who is making a run at Wayne Palmer for the worst character in the show’s history.

Over the last four years, the show clearly tried to overcome its lack of compelling story lines with bigger, louder explosions and more expensive locations. That bottom line is what finally doomed the show since Fox was more than happy to keep footing the bill even with its lower ratings as long as it cost as much as it did the first few seasons. But when the price tag went up, the show found itself on the chopping block. No one in TV gets a blank check anymore, which should have been clear when Paula Abdul lost her contract negotiations with American Idol. But 24 just seemed to keep getting pricier and pricier. You would have thought once the writing was on the wall that the show had to cut expenses or else — and that had to be the directive before this season started — then the New York City idea for this year would have been scrapped and production would have been shipped back to cheaper LA. There’s no reason to think that everything that’s happening now in NYC couldn’t have happened in LA. It’s not like they’re using the Statue of Liberty as some kind of jumping-off point. The United Nations summit easily could have taken place somewhere in LA and saved the show millions in production costs.

There is still some gas in the tank, because Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer will go down as one of the best TV characters ever, and maybe the best TV lawman of all time. He’s still just as seering, thoughtful, tough and insightful as he was the day the show started, even when he’s not shooting bad guys like in a clip from tonight’s episode:

There’s only one conclusion to draw from the fact that it is ending now — the show was trying to get canned. Maybe not outwardly, maybe not intentionally. But it certainly wasn’t a bad thing to anyone that the show is done come May. Look at the facts as we know now them:

–Moving the locations around was almost a dare. “Go ahead cancel us, we’re too expensive!” It was a passive-aggressive plea to be taken off the air in a climate where every other show was cutting costs. The show creators said it was to liven up the action — but did anyone know the difference between DC or NYC and LA? Not a chance.

 –Sutherland seemed to be giving signs left and right that he was kind of getting sick of the show, and the rumor to start the year was that Freddie Prinze Jr. was being brought in to be the field ops successor to Jack at CTU and on the show so that Sutherland could leave. The show even inserted a “Maybe Jack is dead” cliffhanger last year in case Sutherland all of a sudden decided “Eff it, I’m done” before this season started. The show would not, could not, should not go on without Sutherland. So that option died quickly.

–The 24 movie has been rumored for years. But no one wants to make an action movie — they want to make an action movie franchise. At least a trilogy. That kind of shelf life is, at the very least, five years from the first movie to the third if they get released every other year. Since there is no script, cast or production, the earliest a 24 movie could come together is probably summer 2012, which means the third would hit theaters in 2016. Wanna guess how old Sutherland will be then? 50! The list of action stars who can succeed at 50 is pretty thin. If there is a bright side, I was guessing he’d be 60 by then — he hasn’t aged very well — so maybe it’s not all that bad. Every year that 24 stayed on the air was another year older Sutherland would have looked for that third movie and would have decreased the chances for a fourth movie if the series was successful. Since movies are where the real money is — especially when 24 3-D is announced — it behooved everyone involved to end the show ASAP to make sure the movie franchise has a chance to succeed.

it's what's best for everyone

it's what's best for everyone

–Every year of stupid stories further decreased the chances of a movie being made. I have friends who were die-hard, every-week 24 fans who have since tuned out. I can’t blame them one bit. The show has been bleeding viewers since 2006 and is in danger of alienating and losing even its most loyal fans. Before that happens, it behooves everyone involved to end the show and get the movie process started. 12 million people watched the 24 movie in 2008. If all those people paid $10 to watch it, that’s $120 million. There are only about 10 million viewers this year, which would be $100 million. No one wants to see that number go down to $80 million of guaranteed movie-goers.

The show isn’t the same, everyone knows that. It’s a mix of been-there-done-that and … well, that’s it. It’s just one hour every week of 24 we’ve seen with different actors and different names, but the same kind of plots. Anyone who was shocked last week at (SPOILER!) Dana being a mole should be hit over the head with a shovel to wake them up. As inferior as it is, that first four hours of every season still has the feel of event TV. If turning a whole season into a two-hour movie is what it takes to liven things back up, then by all means, Jack. Head back to Hollywood.

This entry was posted in Movies, Pop Culture, TV and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.