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24: Season 8 – Review

24: Season 8

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted Scenes; The Ultimate CTU – Design and construction of the most elaborate high-tech CTU yet ; Virtually New York – LA as NYC green-screen; Scene-makers – Making-of vignettes ; Episode Extenders; Chloe’s Interrogation; Comic-Con 2009 Panel ; Eight Days – A Series Retrospective.

THE final season of 24 was a mixed bag that started off very poorly, before picking up momentum and ending on the highest of highs.

Set in New York, it pitted Kiefer Sutherland’s CTU agent Jack Bauer against a familiar scenario: a plot to assassinate a Middle Eastern leader and therefore trigger a potential new nuclear war. There were betrayals, deceptions, nuclear threats and the usual race against time scenarios.

But early on, somehow, this seemed a tired plot device even though the New York backdrop provided its fair share of interesting new challenges.

The new-look CTU set-up, in particular, yielded several new characters, most of whom seemed bland alternatives to past season favourites, or who were just simply annoying. Katee Sackhoff’s data analyst Dana Walsh was particularly disappointing… a third rate alternative to Sarah Clarke’s far better Nina Myers, whose storylines often felt like padding.

When the action focused on Jack and his continuing torment, the show came alive… but even then early episodes had the habit of placing him in all too familiar (and unlikely) predicaments that didn’t really test the fabric of his character.

Indeed, it was only once the announcement was made that the show would not be renewed for a ninth season that Day 8 kicked into gear, as the creators decided to ensure it departed with a bang.

And boy did Jack depart on a high… faced with Russian renegades, a secret government agenda spearheaded by former nemesis ex-President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) and backed (somewhat surprisingly) by current incumbent Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones), he had nothing left to lose and very few friends to count on.

When a final shot at redemption and happiness was also then removed, Jack was truly a renegade… a loose cannon whose own agenda had to be called into question on several occasions: was he doing it solely for revenge, or for the good of the nation?

Sutherland carried that burden in typically exemplary fashion, presenting Bauer as a genuinely tortured soul with very little humanity left to cling to. A belated (and very painful) torture scene involving the man responsible for a key killing was a series high moment: a no holds barred sequence that seemed to be sticking two fingers up to past critics of the show, as much as the establishment that Jack was now pitted against.

But the final eight hours or so were packed with memorable moments: whether that was a failed race against time scenario involving one of the season’s key characters that ended with a silent ticking clock, or Jack’s ‘Iron Man’ moment when he finally grabbed President Logan from the middle of a crowded New York street.

The adrenaline surge from watching such sequences unfold was truly unforgettable and went a long way to restoring the show’s damaged reputation, inflicted during the more average early moments.

The final episode, too, was one to savour, culminating in a genuinely poignant final scene that brought a tear to the eye.

Hence, 24 could be said to have ended on the high it merited after eight years of great twists, breathtaking action, first-rate moral and ethical dilemmas and ticking clock scenarios. It also ensured that the memory of Jack Bauer as one of the small screen’s greatest ever characters remained intact, for even when the show hit dips in form, Sutherland’s mercurial presence always made in watchable.

In Day 8, both Sutherland and Bauer hit the heights. It can only now be hoped that they get the big screen shot they so clearly crave.

In depth – 24: Day 8 – The following hours reviewed:

The final hours

1pm to 2pm

12 noon to 1pm

11am to noon

8am to 9am

7am to 8am

The opening hour

Certificate: 15
Episodes: 24
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 8, 2010