Monday, 14 June 2010

Poll Result: Which season of 24 was the best?


Last week I asked you to vote for your favourite season of 24, now the popular action-thriller series has come to an end. Here are the results in ascending order:

6th place: Day 6 (0%)
Inevitably, the woeful sixth season received no votes and consequently wound up at the bottom of the heap. The frustrating thing about Day 6 is that it had exciting ideas and definite potential, what with a suburb of Los Angeles being obliterated by a nuke in only the fourth episode and the rise of Jack Bauer's family as the season's villains. But it never managed to find its footing, the new characters were tedious duds (why bring back Milo?), and it very quickly became clear that even the writers were struggling to keep themselves interested in the plot they were spewing out every week. Thus was a real nadir of 24, and quite possibly a mistake the show never fully recovered from.

5th place: Day 4 & 8 (5%)
In joint-place, the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach of Day 4, and the concluding Day 8. Day 4 tried to shakeup 24's formula by having the year's villain (Arnold Vosloo's Marwan) perpetrate a ridiculous amount of terrorist attacks every six episodes or so. It all became rather laughable, with Marwain's gang appearing to have a contingency plan for every failure, but it undeniably gave us a rollercoaster ride of zany action. As for Day 8, I personally don't think it deserved to be ranked this low in the poll, but I can understand why people didn't vote for it: the first half was rather dull.

4th place: Day 3 & 7 (10%)
The "comeback year" of Day 7 and Day 3 tied for fourth place, surprisingly. Day 7 was certainly a very decent return to form after the execrable Day 6, helped by the fact the writers' strike meant the staff had time to plan and develop their story from start to finish. It's a shame the rigours of US TV never allowed them that freedom every year. Day 3 was the season when fans began to doubt 24 had the legs to continue for much longer, partly because the Mexican-set first half was deemed a tedious failure, but since then there have been arguably two worse years (Day 6 and 8), so its reputation has been cleaned-up a bit.

3rd place: Day 2 (15%)
For a long time I thought Day 2 was the best season of 24, simply because the formula was still fresh, the writers had learned valuable lessons from the trial-by-fire of its debut year, and the series found a style it would largely stick to from hereon in. Plus, I think the wonderful President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) was at his commanding best in this season, and the moment the terrorist's nuke "safely" detonated in the desert was a haunting television moment I'll always remember seeing happen. It may seem quite passe these days, but at the time that was a real jaw-dropper and something I'd never seen done on the smallscreen before.

2nd place: Day 1 (25%)
The year that started it all. I can see why fans think the first year was 24's best. It definitely had the purest storyline, with Jack's family in jeopardy and an assassination plot to foil. Every season since got steadily less realistic in its attempts to keep getting Jack embroiled in the action. But for all its pioneering freshness and impact on TV, I think we can all agree that the second-half was noticeably poorer (the show was only picked up for 12 episodes by Fox, so the writers plotted for that, then struggled to make the story continue twice as long). Also, it may have been a memorably brilliant twist at the time, but Nina Meyers being "a mole" makes zero sense when you rewatch this season!

1st place: Day 5 (30%)
Everyone's favourite season, which I agree wholeheartedly with, was Day 5. How many television shows produce their best year five seasons into its run? Not many! I think the reason this season worked so brilliantly is very simple: it may not have had a storyline that felt unique (poison gas, yawn), and it definitely ended on a spluttering note, but this was perhaps the only season of 24 where the goings-on at the White House were just as exciting as Jack Bauer's adventures. If not moreso. In giving us a corrupt President and a slightly deranged First Lady, it didn't feel like there was any slack or filler when the plot left Jack's perspective. And, of course, Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart were both so great that the show picked up twelve Emmy nominations and won four ("Best Drama Series", "Best Lead Actor", "Best Directing", "Best Editing", and "Best Music") Itzin's oily character of Charles Logan was even invited back twice, such was his impact and appeal as a boo-hiss antagonist.
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