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TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.

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Marianne Paskowski



'24' Loses Water Cooler Edge

May 23, 2007 5:09 PM

Not surprised to see that the finale for Fox’s “24” scored only a 3.8 rating in Nielsen’s overnight markets, compared to last year’s 5.5 rating . That’s quite a steep drop—31 percent—for the once red-hot counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer.

This past season, I didn’t pre-record or watch it live once, because I know that come December, I could buy the whole year’s worth of episodes, if I feel like it, for fifty bucks and save myself a lot of grief. Given the nature of the plot—miss one episode, and you’re hopelessly lost—the best way to view the series is to just OD on it, like a binge drinker, and watch all episodes, back-to-back on a rainy weekend, and then just forget about it for a year. And I know a lot of people who watch “24” the same way.

So, I haven’t seen one single episode of the ’07 season, and could care less, and don’t know if it’s better or worse than last season. And oddly, I didn’t think about it for a nano-second this year given the total lack of buzz. It’s water cooler status is on the ebb. I was only reminded of its existence and my former, intense addiction to it, when I read how badly its season ender fared. That’s not good for the show’s future, when the addicts are walking away.

So does ‘24” still have legs, given the nature of the ongoing and complex story line? I’m starting to wonder. Having said that, Fox, just before the season’s finale, announced that it would renew the show for another two years. I guess I found my 12-step cure to my addiction to “24,” and it looks like others have, too.

So weigh in, Jack needs our help.

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Comments (14)

Jim Forkan:

Hi Marianne
Save your money. Don't buy the DVD for this latest season, which was easily the worst one yet. Instead, check out the earlier seasons, if you missed any.
The reasons for its failure this season? Poor storylines: Having Jack's father and brother be the major plotters was a stupid idea that simply fell flat. Having the nuclear weapon go off so early deflated the tension level, big time.
A lack of characters we care about -- in large part because the producers killed off too many majors for shock value -- from Tony and Michelle to Curtis.
Also, the writers seemed to get lost in their own story arcs. Whatever happened to the Logans after the First Lady stabbed the ex-President? Did this President Palmer survive his assassination attempt (after his earlier miraculous recovery)? And why bother to bring in Ricky Schroder as Jack's sidekick only to have him sidelined by a blinding blast in the final hour or so?
All that said, lI think the series still has legs. Rumor has it the producers are going to drop the CTU angle next year. Good thing -- how many times has CTU's security been breached, this season and earlier?? Maybe Bill Buchanan will be back to help Jack? Maybe Chloe won't have her baby after all and will became the strong character she was last year? And maybe the locale willl shift from L.A. to New York?
So, I'll still be tuning in next season. But if "24" has another season like this one, well....
Jim

Marianne Paskowski:

Jim,
Well, I kinda have to buy it, altho I am bummed out that somehow the producers couldn't bring back Michelle and Curtis, especially. We saw Jack's family plt coming at the tail end of last season. Snore city. Like you, and unlike you, I will be watching, but just buying the dvr, and watching it at my leisure. Hardly appointment TV.
Marianne

Jeff Mulligan:

Marianne,

Your comments about "24" are spot on, as is the trenchant analysis Jim Forkan provided in response to your column. (He should have been in charge of the 6th season's programming!)

You say that "24" this season, and likely next, is "hardly appointment TV." That's part of the problem, it seems to me. The whole format of a tightly plotted weekly serial, similar to the Saturday Lone Ranger and other movie theater serials of the 1930s and 40s, was at first a refreshing novelty to today's jaded action TV viewer. and the writing was superb, Kiefer Sutherland today's perfect fiction hero. But Fox tried to force appointment TV on us. Fans had to watch, or tape, or Tivo, every episode just as it aired. I remember missing one episode in season 1; it took me weeks to get caught up on plot details for that missing show.

But then Fox got greedy and stopped rebroadcasting episodes on FX, the reliable cable backup that allowed me to keep in synch. Season 3 dropped the backup, and also failed to air an episode entirely when its single broadcast was prempted by a Bush presiidential address. (I'd rather have Jack Bauer in the White House.) So I stopped watching, as I'm sure many fans did. Too much hassle, and too much arrogance on the part of Fox. I, too, have been in annual DVD mode.

So, although I haven't seen season 6 yet, maybe I'll buy it on DVD, maybe not. Your Mr. Forkan's comment doesn't inspire me. "24" needs major surgery.

However, "24's" saga also instructs us: Producers shouldn't take their audiences' story line sensibilities or time pressures for granted. Fox tried and at first succeeded with an innovation on the tired old TV series model, monkeyed with it, and managed to tire it out.

Jeff

Marianne Paskowski:

Jeff,
Who knew? But as I was surfing around today, I saw that season 4 of" 24" runs on odd hours of A&E. Guess, what, A&E doesn't promote it much. So I throw that out as a tidbit of info for those trying to catch up.
Greatto hear from you,

Marianne

Cruiser:

Yo, Blondie --

It's about time the viewing public got wise to the silliness of the whole Jack Bauer thing. You ever see that guy take even a catnap during those 24 hours/episodes of excrutiating exertion? And at the 24th hour, he's still as spry as a 22-year old script assistant heading for the singles bar.

Who writes this drivel? Superhero Boy Scout Jack Bauer has a big gun. probably overcompensating for some anatomical shortcoming. I want to see reality: greed, perfidy, maybe a sympathetic Arab or Mexican character or two. Give me sadomasochism, sloth, envy and the whole seven deadly sins bit. Give me a good 2008 election political show!

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Cruiser,

I usualy do not agree with you at all. But, I've often wondered why Jack doesn't sleep or have sex. But, I have to point out in season 5, there was a sympathic Arab.

Who know, maybe a an illegal Hispanic comes next? Such a hot button. But I doubt it. This show has lost its edge.And me.

Blondie

Gonzoguy:

Dear Ms. Paskowski,

Your comments are interesting, but 24's problems are not surprising. It's lost its novelty over six years. How much longer do we want to see Arab terrorists, Mexican drug lords, wacked out Balkan gunmen, heroic front-line CTU agents and scheming Washington careerists? The 24 plots have become formulaic--except for this season's revelation. It's all one big Oedipus complex as Jack Bauer and his brother slug it out in front of the old man. Sorry, but one father-son Greek tragedy, the one in the White House, is enough for me.

Marianne Paskowski:

Deaar Mr. Gonzoguy,

Loved your coment about this season's plot, so Oedipal, about Jack and his relationship whith his father, and bro. But I have seen none of this. Loved your segue to what is going on with the Bush family. Perhaps fiction is truer than life.

Ms. Paskowski

Jim Forkan:

Hi Marianne,
Having watched last night's "Lost," I just wanted to say that, unlike "24," I really enjoyed that ABC series once again this season.
True, there are things wrong with that show too -- especially that there are too many unanswered questions and puzzles. So much so, that the ratings have plunged in the past month or so.
Still, I find it stimulating. Oddly enough, "Lost" has gotten better since returning from its recent break. Unfortunately, a lot of folks seem to have tired of the pursuit of answers.
(Unless the Nielsens actually are up, once TiVo viewing is factored in. Who knows?)
The one thing I didn't like about the "Lost" season finale was the "flash-forward" with Jack and Kate.
Cheers,
Jim

Marianne Paskowski:

ProbablyI am the only person on the planet that never got into Lost. And don't intend to. But thanksfor posting to tell me what I'm missing or not missing.

Lainey:

Marianne,

24 lost me a long time ago (season 3)after they killed off my favorite character and I'm glad to be able to say there are better ways to spend an hour every Monday night. Heroes has 24 beat hands down; at least everything on that show doesn't revolve around one character. If never see Kiefer Sutherland with that constipated look on his face or hear his raspy voice again it will be too soon.

I have to agree with cruiser: how long will it take for everyone to get over "Super-agent" Jack? For a guy who screws up and gets his friends & co-workers killed so often he sure is held in high esteem by some....but not me, I see what a misfit loser he is. He put his wife's life in the hands of his traitor mistress and she is killed by her, he murdered his boss, the few friends he had are dead because of him, including the ex-Pres., he comes from a family of criminals, untold numbers of innocent people besides these have died because of him while he's "saving the world"-----what a great example of an American "hero". He achieves his goal each day but look at the high price that is paid by everybody but him. In real life he would have been fired and jailed for life and rightly so. He's become just like the bad guys he's fighting.Could somebody please write a series about a real hero who doesn't destroy as many people as he saves?

Now would be a good time for Fox to make an investment in some new shows instead of putting everything into this one, it looks like it's on it's way out thank God and I hope it doesn't take two more seasons to get there.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Lainey,

I'm so off on this show, I forgot it existed until your post. I did like it. I don't care anymore.

Marianne

Marianne Paskowski:

Glad you like, keep on coming back.

Sean McCrystal:

Hey Marianne, all the way from the Emerald Isle!!

I know that this is an old post but i DID buy season 6 of 24, and needless to say i know it doesnt bag the same punch as the previous 5 seasons but i love the show and i cannot wait until January 08 for the new season, but i hear that the story line will bring back Tony Almeida as a Terrorist and there will still be a family twist for Jack to unravel, maybe his long lost pet dog who had put in the kennels is a suicide bomber i dont know, but the new series cannot come good enough,


But i do agree with you Season 6 is the worst of the pile

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