Mon 24 May 2010
More than Gene Simmons, more than Wilt Chamberlain, even more than James Bond… more than any other man I can think of, Jack Bauer was the hero women wanted to sleep with and men wanted to be. In fact, more than a man has had a ‘mancrush’ on Jack Bauer, ever since the first shot fired back in 2001. 24 has been the parallel constant to nearly a third of my life; tonight’s series finale is, for me, a loss in its own right.
The span of 24‘s run started back in November 2001, just a few months after 9/11. I had recently moved into apartment living in Montreal. Sharing ‘roommate TV time’ was a new concept, and I therefore started watching 24 by accident. In the post-9/11 world, the concept of terrorist assassination plots and a gimmicky “realtime” show seemed a bit much to get into. I watch(ed) enough garbage TV to need another show.
Yet it became obvious nearly 15 minutes into the first episode that 24 was no ordinary show; Jack Bauer was no ordinary government spy… The first season kept us winding with twists and end-of-episode jawdroppers/cliffhangers. Through it all, however, we thought that everything was going to end up okay for our protagonist. As the season ended and Jack’s wife was shot by the mole (Nina Myers), we realized that Jack’s life would never end up ‘normal,’ nor would it always see its happy ending. Living in Canada, I became accustomed to not seeing the following week’s spoilers, therefore every week became a mystery. Everytime a teaser commercial came on, I quickly flipped the channel, as to avoid seeing any indications of what the following week would hold.
Through eight seasons, we’ve followed the life of Jack Bauer — Serbian terrorist plots, domestic nuclear weapons attacks, bioterrorism and Mexican druglords, Middle Eastern plots of nuclear meltdowns, Russian separatist plots on US soil, family issues with private security firms and the Chinese government, African dictators and more biological weaponry, and now, Middle Eastern nuclear plots and Russian involvement undermining the peace process. Yes, we’ve had to suspend some disbelief for certain TV liberties (infamously, we have yet to find out how Jack always manages to find a cell phone or never goes to the washroom). But we always knew that Chloe O’Brian would be there for backup, no matter what. Jack was the Grand Chessmaster and Chloe was his muse.
By the time the fifth or sixth season came around though, the 24 writers’ “tricks” started to become predictable. We could spot that there would be a mole and we knew that for every torturous situation Jack was in, he would find some MacGuyverish way of getting himself out. For sure, 24 couldn’t be on the air much longer before it would wear out its welcome. Even in the first half of the final season, many fans didn’t believe the show could get any worse before the writers pulled out all the stops and set up possibly one of the best series finales among TV history.
Despite being sad about tonight’s finale, I’m glad the show is going out on top. Do I know what the fate of Jack Bauer is? No. Do I expect it to be happy? No. But although Kiefer Sutherland and the 24 producers claim that a franchise could continue without Jack Bauer, I don’t see any commercial viability in that line of thinking. The movie script is supposedly done; Jack Bauer simply can’t die. Nonetheless, I ‘grew up’ with Jack Bauer, on pins and needles, waiting to see what would be coming next week, next season… after tonight, there is no more ‘next.’
Farewell, Mr. Bauer, I’ll see you on the other side…