Act 1 of the Perfect TV Storm set a scarily high standard for the rest to follow. Hour 22 of the final season of 24 had pretty much everything that makes the show great – nailbiting tension, brilliant action scenes, Kiefer Sutherland in full-on badass mode – and was without a doubt one of the most exciting episodes of television I’ve ever seen.
Already people on the web are making copious GIFs of one scene in particular, which is set to go down as an absolute classic. A brutal set-piece in a packed road tunnel, it reminded me of the very best bits of Heat, and showed just how far the States is ahead of this country in terms of production values. It’s amazing to think that this episode was on television, actually – in terms of the way it was shot, directed and written, it could easily have been part of a movie. That’s what 24 has done so well in fits and starts over its run, but assuming that the finale delivers, the second half of season 8 could well be remembered as the show’s high point. It’s been distilled down to its strengths (Jack Bauer driving all the action far more than he has done since probably the very first season, for example) and has ditched the soap-opera elements that have always been its weak point. The sea-change in online reaction since the low point of mid-season has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Is it too late for 24 to be uncancelled? It’s great to see it go out in such fine form, but I’m reminded more and more not only how much it will be missed, but also how there’s nothing that looks even remotely capable of replacing it.