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24 season finale

There's not much to say ... if you've seen the show, you've seen the show, if you haven't seen the show, you aren't going to start now. This year's season finale had all the usual touches: gruesome violence that pushes the edges of what broadcast teevee will allow, inane plot devices, utterly incomprehensible geographical leaps, and stupid Kim Bauer scenes, all wrapped around sixty minutes of non-stop edge-of-your-seat excitement.

24 is a stupid show. I can't imagine it inspiring a series of academic studies, the way Buffy or The Sopranos do. The show's trick, that each season takes place in real time over the course of 24 hours, is nonsense. Many of the regular characters are annoying, not in a so-bad-they're-good way (although 24 has those, too ... unfortunately, they killed off the best ones this year), but in a get-that-person-off-my-screen way. Kim Bauer is the worst character on a decent show in perhaps the history of teevee.

And nonetheless, when it's on its game, 24 is must-see television. It requires an enormous suspension of disbelief, but the tension can be unbearable, and Kiefer Sutherland is terrific.

Season Three was up and down, or rather, it was down, and then it was up. The first half or so of the season was mostly mundane; the second half or so was wrenching. At its worst (much of the first several weeks), 24 gets a "C" if I'm feeling generous; at its best, it's in the "A" range. So you can probably guess the final grade for Season Three: B.

Here's where we're at so far as the seasons come to their conclusions:

Joan of Arcadia: B+
24: B
NYPD Blue: B-
L Word: B-/C+
I never gave a grade to Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it was a B- kind of year for that show. Dead Like Me and The Wire were so long ago, it's hard to consider them a part of the current season, but Dead Like Me was in the B range, while The Wire gets an A+. Wonderfalls didn't last long enough to get more than an Incomplete. I gave up on West Wing, Tru Calling, and Tarzan, which tells you what I thought of those shows. Still running: Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Shield, and Queer As Folk ... all but the latter are having excellent seasons, QAF has been lacking. Finally, The Daily Show gets an "A" grade, although it doesn't really have "seasons."

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