More than ever before series six of 24 felt like it had been written by a roomfull of screaming, panicking men. As a matter of fact it was but it doesn't usually show this much.
Overall the series had some good moments but suffered from a lack of direction. The middle third suffered a serious shortage of Bauer power. The series relied heavily on the plot elements concerning the White House which, without the presence of Dennis Haysbert or Gregory Itzin, were dull and repetitive. Powers Boothe's performance as Vice President seemed to be based on a combination of Dirty Den Watts and the Ayatollah Khomeini. Wayne Palmer has a good stab at being a bargain basement David Palmer but fell far short.
Where in previous series political power struggles have been interesting and credible here they were silly and unconvincing. The one beacon of hope in the White House was Peter Macnicol as Tom Lennox who weathered every crisis with the same air of weary exasperation whether trying to avert a nuclear strike on a Middle Eastern country or choosing what soft drink to have with his pizza.
At CTU things were slightly better Nadia and Morris proved themselves worthy additions to the team. Morris was particularly interesting as for once a CTU operative didn't take everything in his stride. His brief struggle with the shadow of alcoholism showed a real world reaction to the situation he had found himself in that lent credibility to the series.
Nadia proved herself a worthy replacement for Michele Dessler. Her struggles in choosing between the right thing to do and the best thing to do were interesting even if her red herring relationships with Doyle and Milo were a little pointless.
A member of the CTU team who didn't come off so well was Chloe who seemed to have been relegated to office monkey despite seeming to help run CTU only the previous year. She was given nothing to do and did that poorly.
The great tombstone faced Bill Buchanan was less in evidence than usual and the counter terrorism World was a duller place for that absence.
The reintroduction of Charles Logan was unexpected and he proved as mercurial as ever. For a few episodes we really didn't know what his motives were or if he was to be trusted. As it turns out we may never know as he vanished from the series having been stabbed by his former wife never to be seen or referred to again.
And what about Jack? Having begun the day wanting nothing so much as a quiet death Jack was dynamised into action first by the threat of nuclear apocalypse on American soil and later at the involvement of his own family and the Chinese government. The exploration of his relationship with his father and brother added another aspect to Jack's character - though it may have been a mistake to kill his brother off so early. James Cromwell's performance was very weak initially but in his climactic return he seemed to have settled into the role at last.
Josh Bauer was a fascinating addition to the clan. On top of his golden moptop his readiness to boot terrorists in the chops and shoot his own grandfather make it seem more likely than ever that he may turn out to be the product of Jack's hinted at past entanglement with his brothers wife.
The sad state of affairs regarding Audrey Raines gave new pathos to Jack's tragic tale and it seems fair that the climax of the finale was an emotional one rather than one of spectacle.
After six series of Jack doing his duty to have him tell it like it is was powerful stuff. In encountering a problem he couldn't fix through intimidation, sacrifice or violence he was forced to the conclusion that he could do nothing. Perhaps Jack really is cursed.
We leave Jack Bauer, as we leave the production team of 24, at a crossroads. Serious thought must be put into what direction the show is to take now as another patchy series may do irreparable damage to the programmes previously rock solid reputation.