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UPDATE: Kudos going to do a series set in space for the Beeb

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Season finales: 24 and Heroes

24's finale



Monday night in the US was the battle to end all battles. No, not “you know who” versus “you know who” on Heroes, although that was one of the main draws. The fight was the battle of the finales, with 24 facing off against Heroes. On Fox, there were not one but two Jack Bauer power hours, while newcomer Heroes, fighting with only one hour to its belt, still had a few tricks of its own.

24, however, is tired. It’s given up, more or less, and is hoping we’ll turn up for season seven while it gets this one out the way. Despite an initial promise that everything was going to be new and nerve-wracking again in a land where bad terrorists can prosper, this season failed to excite in the same way as seasons two and four did, for instance. We had the same torture scenarios, the same threat, the same unconvincing love stories. Even the writers got bored and did a repeat of the first season’s “there’s a second shooter” plot reboot around hour 16. And there are only so many times you can kill off favourite characters before you run out of favourite characters and just start killing people you don’t care about randomly.

Optimally, a 24 finale needs to leave you going “Aahhhh….” like some adrenaline-sated Bisto kid. Instead, while it had its moments, we didn’t really care enough about those in peril to worry if they were going to die and we all knew what was going to happen anyway. Even then, the wrap-up to the new plot didn’t really convince.

Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if none of the plot strands apparently finished in the last episode turn out to have life in them still. You see, the finale had all the hallmarks of a show desperately trying to fan enough embers of nascent characters, relationships and plot intrigues that they can start afresh next season with something to build on. While else did that character’s brother mysteriously appear for all of a minute, for example? Why didn’t Jack kill the chief villains except to give them a chance to escape and be menacing towards him again? And how often did we need to have hints about a certain pair’s retirement home to know that Jack Bauer pizza deliveries will be making a call there next season?

Still, with a reboot of 24 planned for season seven that might take it away from CTU and even Los Angeles, there’s the outside possibility that next year’s odd-numbered season won’t be about crazy Euro terrorists wanting to blow up/infect/poison/irradiate LA for a change, and might have an original plot for once.

Tension: 3/10

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Tuesday’s less bleary news

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Season finales: Numb3rs

Martin Jarvis in Numb3rs Finale

Finales are typically times for surprises. Numb3rs was no different and was practically bursting with them. But the biggest surprise was to see Martin “Rings on their Fingers” Jarvis going hardcore on the FBI’s arses. Man he can get nasty with a mobile phone holster.

The second big surprise was that there were any surprises. The third season of Numb3rs has been – dare I say it? – formulaic. It’s drifted here, it’s drifted there. Pretty much every episode the story has been the same, with no real character development, no real characterisation, simply maths technique of the week and a bit of shooting. Even the occasional bit of new blood hasn’t helped and the old blood have had negligible time devoted to making you actually care about them. It’s never been awful, but it’s never been great. So to have an episode in which everything gets shaken up is really quite amazing.

The third big surprise is that Ken Sanzel can write. Responsible for most of the series’ worst episodes, he’s co-written the finale and despite its somewhat derivative and convoluted nature, it does at least keep the tension ratcheted up.

By the end of the episode, there have been major twists for at least three characters. If you’re a big Numb3rs fan, at least one development will have you asking plenty of questions – mostly how, why, who, when, and where, since it does come somewhat out of left field without much foreshadowing – and maybe we’ll get some explanations for it next season, although I doubt it. What they’ll do to build on it and other developments, I don’t know, but it does at least demonstrate that even in the most tired of shows, the occasional dramatic twist can occur.

Tension: 8/10

PS Does MI6 do its own code-breaking and code-creation still or is that a GCHQ thing now? Anyone know?