With the seventh season of Fox’s “24” set to conclue with aq two-hour airing Monday, May 18, now seemed like a good time to rank this season — which has beee outstanding — with the previous six — some of which have not been so good. Here they are, in reverse order. And here is the story I wrote for Night & Day to advance this latest season.
7. Season six started of well enough, with Jack thrust back into the bomb-stopping business after being release from Chinese prison. But the subplot at the end of the season involving his former love interest, Audrey, was putrid, and getting Jack’s father and brother involved in the mayhem was a bit ridiculous, even for a show that requires as much suspension of disbelief as this one. Then you had Russians and Chinese and I’m pretty sure the Harlem Globetrotters trying to capture the sacred device – it was just too much.
6. Season four started with sweeping changes, as nearly everyone from the first three seasons except Jack, Chloe and President Keeler was back for round four. About halfway through the year, though, it was as though the writers knew they were in trouble and signaled to the bullpen, because Tony, Michelle, Aaron and former President Palmer all re-emerged mysteriously. The season had Jack working for Secretary of Defense James Heller because he got fired from CTU. He – naturally – is reinstated after it’s realized only Jack can handle the job, which this time involved a series of Middle Eastern terrorist cells that plotted to obtain the nuclear football, launch a missile and kill Heller.
5. Season five started with Jack as – gasp – an oil laborer, as he’s laying low after having faked his death to avoid capture at the end of season four. He’s been framed for the deaths of Palmer and friend Michelle Dessler, as well as the attempted slayings of Tony and Chloe. He’s forced to emerge, however, after Russian separatists take hostages at an airport, then launch biological attacks at several places, including CTU (RIP, Edgar, you were so darn lovable). Jack uncovers that this plot is tied to President Logan (perhaps the man who was the best character to loathe in this entire series) . Logan eventually implicates himself in the day’s wrongdoings, but Jack is captured by the Chinese just as the season ends (he’s still wanted for his involvement in a raid and slaying at the Chinese consulate).
4. Season two started with Middle Eastern terrorists trying to detonate a nuclear bomb in L.A. and ended with Jack and his cohorts trying to uncove the true mastermind so that the U.S. wouldn’t incorrectly retaliate against the wrong country. The first season to see Palmer as president (perhaps the best fictional president ever) saw him trying to uncover traitors in his cabinet while dealing with a wife whose personal agenda superceded their relationship. Everything turned out OK, but attempted hit was put out on Palmer at the end of the season, resulting in a cliffhanger for the ages.
3. Season three began with the news that Palmer survived the assassination attempt. Jack, dealing with a heroin addiction, is forced to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel so that he can intercept a deadly virus that’s going to be sold in a deal involving said gang. Jack’s daughter Kim, meanwhile, is brought on board at CTU and is compelled to prove herself to doubters who cry nepotism. She becomes involved with Jack’s new partner, Chase, who ends up with his life in Jack’s hands by season’s end. And, oh yeah, Jack so satisfyingly got to finally get revenge on Nina, the traitor who assassinated his wife in the first season. And finally, Palmer’s family gets involved in dirty dealings that force him to drop his re-election bid rather than resort to immoral actions that violate his principles.
2. Season seven saw the dissolution of CTU and started with jack under investigation for his illegal actions while a government employee, including torture. These tactics are soon utilized, though, after the president and the FBI want him to help in stopping a plot to take over the nation’s vital computer systems. All the events eventually tie in to a U.S. group of private security firms that want to have cause to seize control of military operations here, raising their profits and power. Long thought dead, Tony re-emerges as an ally, but his true intentions are uncovered near season’s end. Chloe is also back as the day’s events unfold in Washington, D.C.
1. Season one doesn’t seem like it will be topped. As Jack gets involved in stopping an attempt on Palmer’s life (he was in Los Angeles for a presidential primary), his wife and daughter are kidnapped by terrorists tryig to use them to force Jack to carry out the murder. Nina, an employee of Jack’s at CTU, is eventually found out to be a traitor, and she kills Jack’s wife in a last-ditch attempt to evade capture. The plot was clar, the action was intense, the drama was palpable, the characters were excellent – just great television all the way around.