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’24′: The Finale

posted by Douglas Howe

As USAToday.com reports, “24” was responsible for several wonderfully dramatic contributions to the television action drama genre. It “set a new visual style,” had a “pace that kept viewers on edge,” “proved that a densely serialized thriller” could be successful and “was among the first TV series to reap huge DVD rewards.”
Robert Bianco opined that it was a “great” TV series featuring “propulsion and tension” and “deep explorations of the human condition.”
Bruce Schwartz listed his “24 things we loved most about ’24’“, but it left out my absolute favorite two components of the show.
First, “24” always asked one of the hardest questions that people of spirituality and significance should ask: how much “bad” is acceptable on the path to doing “good.” Going leaps and bounds beyond “A Few Good Men” when Jack Nicholson’s Nathan Jessup exhorts to Tom Cruise’s Danny Caffee that “you have no idea what it takes to defend a nation,” “24” took us to that place.
Jack Bauer committed criminal acts in the name of doing good. The show managed to make us consider which was the stronger moral outrage: an operative going beyond the law or a cause failing to be upheld by the law.
Second, each season featured the conflict Jack Bauer faced with his family and friends, whose interests constantly and painfully came into conflict with what he felt his work required. Who of us hasn’t struggled between doing what’s right and good–whether at work, home, play, church, military, community, etc.–and what seems best (or safest) for our families?
My only beef through the years was this: I would have loved it if Jack Bauer (and those around him) would have had more of a spiritual experience through the years. He certainly was brought to death’s door and pain’s presence frequently, and he faced both loss and hardship in a way that seemed redemptive to the human soul but didn’t seem too inquisitive towards the power of faith or the need for supernatural help.
Other than that, I will miss “24.” It has gotten old and tired, but I’m not tired of it. It’s budget is high and it’s ratings are low. But I’ll be watching Monday night, and who knows if–a la Star Trek and other fading shows–there might not be a movie in the future?!?!
For a photo gallery down memory lane you can check out these selections.



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