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24 producer responds to criticism

by Meredith O'Brien, posted May 3rd 2007 2:41PM

Jack Bauer on 24Responding to criticism in a recent Los Angeles Times piece that this season's 24 is lackluster and that viewers are tuning out, a co-executive producer of the show said failing to chart out story lines and sending several characters to sleep with the fishes are largely to blame for this predicament.

"You try to keep things interesting, find new ways to tell the story, and unfortunately we wound up repeating ourselves somewhat," David Fury, co-executive producer told TV Week. "I still would claim that regardless of the quality drop-off that people are saying, the show's still very strong. It's still one of the best things on television."

This is, unfortunately, what sometimes happens to a show after a truly amazing season. It's hard to top -- or at least be on par with -- the previous two dozen episodes (Desperate Housewives' season one versus season two leaps to mind). Don't get me wrong, 24 is still quality TV, however it suffers when compared to its earlier season five incarnation.

But I think it's a good sign that the producers are listening.

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This year's 24 isn't quite the downer that many critics in forum would like us to believe, but perhaps a victim of its own successful format. It's always been a show that demands a suspension of disbelief (getting around in LA traffic in the space of 24 hours being a major example). The season, which has seen concentration camps built and closed in 12 hours, one ex-pres severely wounded and a current pres turned into a cabbage, a VEEP with an itchy trigger finger turn into a sympathetic statesman . . . ah, the list goes on . . . can be saved with a decent ending. Jack and Doyle save the kid (who, of course, will turn out to be Jack's father's son by rape of seduction) and one more time save an ungrateful country from its political and business leaders. James Cromwell goes into the barbecue with that talking pig. But! The format for Season 7 has to undergo a change. The show needs to leave L.A., tone down the the soap opera and yearly invasion of CTU HQ and add a Jack protege like Doyle, who doesn't have to be killed in the fifth hour. And the setup has to improve. Jack is less than 24 hours from getting off the plane after two years in China and shows not the slightest bit of fatigue. That's where this season got off the rails, and I don't think it ever fully recovered.

May 07 2007 at 11:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Joe_T (14): great posting, really enjoyed it. Mostly, of course, because I agree with pretty well all of it.

May 04 2007 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't want to tell the top tv producers to not do other series. If they wish to do other projects, that's their right. And, yes, it's good to see fresh talent get a chance to show their stuff. But I'm sorry, I have seen too many great tv series suffer after their creators decide they want to become "mega" tv producers or they want to pursue "other opportunities".

Look at David E. Kelley. One of the great tv producers and writers. But his modus operandi has been: create a series, write most of the episodes for the first two seasons, series becomes critically acclaimed hit, series wins Emmys, Kelley reduces his creative involvement in hit series so he can start another series, hit series goes sharply down in quality. This has happened with every Kelley series from Picket Fences to Chicago Hope to The Practice to Ally McBeal.

24 has been lucky in that their main writers (Surnow, Cochran, Howard Gordon) haven't abandoned the series. And they've added talents like David Fury and Manny Coto to their staff.. But there's no denying that something's missing this year. I don't think this season is nearly as bad as everyone else is saying it is. I actually believe this season had the potential to be really great, with the concepts they had. The ending may still turn out to be terrific. But a lack of focus and foresight has hampered it so far. Why the lack of focus? Could it be because the producers are involved in other projects? Maybe.

May 04 2007 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe T

Yup, 24 was kind of lame this year. I'm glad the producers realize it and hope they read boards like this. Some of my peeves:

The Chloe and Morris thing is just awful, boring crap. Put a lid on it, and don't open it again.

Wayne Palmer was never a convincing president, and his sister -- where the heck did she come from?

Killing Curtis for shock value worked in the short run, but in the longer term the cast was weakened by his departure.

What happened to Jack's Dad? He's here for a while, makes us think something really sinister is going on, then -- we never hear from him again, just gone with the wind with no explanation.

Resurrecting Audrey and her Dad was really lame. Definitely came across like the writers couldn't think of anything better to put in the show.

But resurrecting last year's president, his wife and Secret Service buddy for a brief cameo was even worse, what the H**L was that all about?

Not enough scenes of Jack kicking butt. Hey, he's the star, he's the superhero we all want to see in action, let's get with the program.

On the plus side:

The vice president is terrific.

The president's chief of staff is terrific.

The tough new agent from Denver is pretty good.

Just my two cents. I'm looking forward to next year, but if it turns out like this year, it'll probably be the last year.

May 04 2007 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it's harsh to wish a lack of success on the new pilots that Surnow and Cochran are developing just so they'll stay with 24. It's only a TV show, and they are talented TV producers who are clearly wanting to move onto other projects. Jeez, it's not like 24 is the greatest thing on earth, some holy thing that should be worshipped and deified. Hollywood is essentially a business. Eventually as a creator/showrunner the time comes when you can step back from the project and let the people who have come up through the ranks carry on running it for you. I'd prefer if talented people with imagination go on to create other great shows instead of staying with the same thing year after year. Share the creative minds around, and all that.

May 04 2007 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the drive to get the 24 movie approved has bit into the time that Surnow and Cochran have spent on the TV season.

They best get on the ball and start thinking about the series or their won't be a point to the movie.

May 03 2007 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The good news is that there's little buzz about the two pilots Surnow and Cochran put out. It's unlikely that either one will be picked up. Maybe they'll have learned their lesson and re-focus their attention on 24.

May 03 2007 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've only seen the first 12 episodes of this season, but they were painful.
Prior I had rewatched the first five seasons. In retrospect Season 1 is somewhat terrible, comparatively. Season 2 is much better, with Kim bringing it down in every scene. Season 3 is when the show really changed into something incredible. Season 4 tops Season 3 and ups the body count. Season 5 has a lesser body count by Jack, and had at least one death that it shouldn't have, but stands as a benchmark. Television doesn't get much better.

Then this season, ug. It's like they didn't know what to do. They have Curtis start acting un-Curtislike (as I've mentioned here before, I predicted his death, exactly how it happened, two hours before it happened. With his odd behavior I knew it had to be leaning towards it. The writers wanted to shock us, but their desperation to shock us just made it clearly coming.)

Then the whole evil brother thing... they took one of the best characters they've created and turned him into a cliche, then a pansy. Evil brother? C'mon, is this the 1960s? Such poor writing. Worse still, interviews make it obvious they did it because they had no better idea. They created the character and put him in the show without a clue what to do with him, so they took the worst possible avenue.

Lame. Lame lame lame lame lame.

As for Lost, yes, this season has had its ups and downs. But it's been growing stronger as time goes on. I think the writers learned from last year. We don't want constant mystery without payoffs. We don't want too many loose ends. We don't want episodes that go nowhere. We don't want it to be obvious the writers are shooting from the hip. And it seems like they've taken those hints. I give them serious credit for that.

My biggest question there is how come the others, who know everyone's past, don't think all of them showing up on one airplane is awkward and an enormous coincidence? And what will happen now that two finally learned how closely connected they are?

May 03 2007 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bash, do you have to be so crude? Really, you diminish us all. This ain't the Ren and Stimpy site.

And "Kavier" starts with a C.


May 03 2007 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

bring in elisha cuthbert for an episode to stand next to her cousin and you will see that he is probable her brother.....cheekbones..eyes...everything...

May 03 2007 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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