There is nothing worse on television (apart from Piers Morgan) than watching an ailing programme limping along, desperately trying to recapture its former glories but merely tarnishing a once-strong reputation. Fortunately, this tag applies to the likes of The X-Files and Heroes rather than 24 - although Day 6 came perilously close to catapulting Bauer and his duplicitous family over the proverbial shark. In its current eighth season, the show is still packed full of nailbiting tension, intrigue and torture. It's a remarkable achievement that the series remains such compelling viewing given that the content is anything but fresh.
Yet that is precisely why now is the right time for 24 to bow out with its head held high and before it becomes unequivocally stale. Certain over-familiar elements of the show are already bordering dangerously close to parody. The manner in which Bauer alternates between hushed whispers and spit-strewn shouts, the interrogations revolving around the question 'Where is the God-damn bomb?' the mandatory frustrating subplot with one of the female supporting characters, the arrogant CTU boss who conceals a good heart, the sarcastic scowls from Chloe, the 'damn its', the déjà-vu-style search for nuclear weapons and the Middle Eastern terrorist cells roaming an American city - they're all good value for a drinking game but highlight just how constrained 24 is by its premise and structure as an ongoing weekly series.
Many fans of Lost were stunned when the producers announced that the series would conclude at the end of its sixth season. However, this was a wise move that gave the show added focus and ramped up the dramatic tension ahead of its eagerly-awaited climax. Such a move by the 24 bosses would similarly heighten the stakes for Bauer and CTU as well as allow the writers to incorporate some bold twists that would pave the way for the big screen Jack.
To quote Tyrell from Blade Runner: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long." 24 has burned so brightly and for an impressively long period too, but a bold decision to extinguish that flame in its current form would be the right one. Crucially, it would allow the movie to finally enter production while there is still an appetite for one.
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