24 Rebooting After A Bad Day

Things seemed stellar for “24” going into 2007. An Emmy for best drama under its belt, the show had been going on for five years with ever increasing ratings and quality reviews.

Short of a lukewarm third season, the drama was considered one of the most consistent in terms of good quality, and the fifth season in 2006 was easily most well-reviewed season yet of the show. Hopes were high for the sixth to potentially push the Top 30 rating show into the Top 20.

Three months on from its premiere and the ‘jump the shark’ time seems to have arrived. The show drew 10.4 million viewers this week, its lowest rating in three years and down a full third from its early episodes this year. The number is the bottom of a slide that has been taking place consistently – enough of a drop to lower its average rating to 13.6 million for the season. It’s a number most shows would kill for, but a decided step back nonetheless.

The reaction has hit in critical circles too. “24” was one of the few shows that seemingly stood above criticism, many columnist praising the show and delighting in the assorted twists. In the more conservative post 9-11 environment, the fast paced quick solution approach of the show’s politics proved a fun and welcome diversion.

Those same people are now fairly criticising this season’s predictability – ludicrous (even for “24”) twists and over-the-top torture has become the norm, the pro-Republican agenda of the producers and the ‘write as you go’ approach by the season’s writers has become more noticable.

Most commonly though, memorable characters like the Logan’s from last season have been replaced by dull new CTU agents, bickering White House staffers, and a lack of engaging antagonists or storyline. Whilst it’s too early yet to say, the revelation of Jack’s never before seen family members involvment in the day’s events has easily gotten the most votes over at JumpTheShark.Com as the moment it all went downhill.

The viewer bleed has been enough executive producer Howard Gordon told the Los Angeles Times this week that he and the other executive producers plan to make Jack’s next mission of crises unrecognizable from anything he survived before. They said that about this season didn’t they?

“I don’t dispute it’s been a challenging season to write for us. But it’s reinvigorated our determination to reinvent the show. This year could be seen to be the last iteration of it in its current state” says Gordon.