Jack Bauer made a good run of it, but it’s looking like this eighth season of “24” will be the last for one of the top TV relics of the Bush era. Variety reported Tuesday that “20th Century Fox TV and Fox appear ready” to pull the plug on the show, but according to James Poniewozik of Time, “24” might morph into a movie franchise.


Then, of course, 9/11 happened—after 24 was scheduled and the pilot made, but before it premiered—and suddenly this innovative show was also a show about the country’s single greatest concern, terrorism. This made it a lightning rod for criticism, for, among other things, making it too easy for Bauer to torture information out of suspects. (True enough, though I think it owed as much to the demands of the thriller genre as to the conservative politics of co-creator Joel Surnow. Action shows are biased toward ticking-time-bomb fantasies.)

24 never shied away from raising the stakes and stoking the fear—chemical, biological, nuclear. But even early on in the post-9/11 era, 24 complicated its view of international terror. Season two, concurrent with the invasion of Iraq, had a plot to undermine President Palmer and hoodwink him into a war with a Middle Eastern country.

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