Bye, bye, Bristow. Where in the world is Jack Bauer?

Finished off the finales for ’24’ and ‘Alias’, yet another instance where the DVR has saved my life. ABC did its usual bang-up job with the ‘Alias’ *series* finale, sticking it on a Monday with zero promotion. Thanks for watching, suckers! I’m glad the show is done, if only because there was nowhere left to go creatively. For better or worse, the serialized nature of the show demanded resolution. I think the show would’ve been better had that end come after two or three seasons instead of five, but I have the benefit of hindsight here.

Usually series finales are a lose-lose situation -- there’s so much pressure to self-eulogize onscreen that even comedies become maudlin affairs. Thankfully there was little of that -- the writers/directors kept things moving. I liked that they tied up some big loose ends, but left new ones out there so that it wasn’t too neat.

’24’, on the other hand, is a case of familiarity breeding contempt (at least for me). When it premiered in 2001 (the same year as ‘Alias’) I loved the setup: real(ish) time! Split screens! Flawed heroes! Despite the many plot dead-ends and U-turns, that first season kept me riveted because it seemed that the rules were being bent, if not broken outright. Flashing forward to this season (which has garnered both ratings and critical/public acclaim) all that seemed fresh is now rote. It’s like watching “Groundhog Day” with spies. We know that:

-- Jack Bauer will get pulled back into saving the world by something bad centered in LA.
-- CTU doesn’t believe in background checks.
-- The US president will rely on one, possibly two, advisers at the most.
-- Jack Bauer will be caught in a cycle of reinstatement and arrest.
-- CTU employees will spend more time spying on each other than pursuing the bad guys.
-- There will be torture.

This is all fine and good, and it occasionally still makes for good tv, but more often it’s served as unintentional comedy for me. With the prospect of three more years of this, I would hope that the creative team would think about changing the show’s direction. Maybe a different city? How many bad things can happen to LA? I have hope that this season’s cliffhanger won’t be dropped on the floor like season 2’s was, because it opens up a bunch of possibilities story-wise.