If I had only listened to you, none of this would have happened

SPOILER ALERT: Although not a summary, the following look back at the series finale of 24 will contain some references to the final episode so read at your own risk!

Yep, those words in the title of this post, spoken in the series finale by President Allison Taylor, basically sum up the 24 series as a whole. If people just listened to Jack Bauer and did what he said, the 8 “days” of the series would have been a lot less eventful and the crises of the series would have been resolved much sooner. Instead, the show brought us a non-stop supply of moles, torture, terrorists, conspiracies, close calls, and in general great suspenseful television.

Sadly though, even these motifs became repetitive after 5 or so seasons and in recent seasons even became a bit of joke. In some respects, the show was a victim of its own success. It packed too much awesomeness into each season that they ran out of new twists (attempts to keep things interesting by moving to a new city, disbanding CTU, and bringing back Tony Almeda flopped). It killed off too many good characters and couldn’t replace them. Even the crazy plot twists (the best part of the show in my opinion) became, dare I say, predictable.

Despite that, I was glued to the final two hours of 24 on the small screen. No, it wasn’t the best season finale they’ve done, but it did a good job of finally wrapping up the various plot threads of this season. It was neat to see Jack and the president go to the brink before finally redeeming themselves somewhat. I’m glad to see one more Jack-Chloe team-up and the episode closed fittingly with Jack on the run again (although the wounds the guy can endure are getting ridiculous). It would’ve been nice if they stretched the events in the finale out a little more for dramatic effect. I understand the quick pacing, but it felt a little rushed (almost faster than real time). This is a small thing but I also would have liked a cameo by Agent Pierce (who has appeared in every season except this one). Nothing big, maybe just a few seconds of him watching a press conference on TV or something. It would’ve been a nice Easter egg for the fans. I also liked the irony that it was a drone that ended up saving Jack, even though Jack criticized Hastings at the start of this season for relying too much on technology at the expense of manpower in the field.

Of course, I also had to keep in mind that this isn’t the real “end” of 24 but rather a segue into a movie. I actually thought it would’ve been neat to wrap the story up in the series finale and do a prequel movie. It would allow the TV show to stand alone and perhaps bring back a few old characters who have since died off or were written out (Palmer, Tony, Michelle, Renee, Buchanan, just to name a few) for a story that happened during the show’s run. To my disappointment though, the producers decided to milk this thing for all it’s worth and the film appears to take place after the series. However, it does appear to at least take place partially in London so I’ll be looking out for some familiar locales!

So 24, I’m glad you didn’t listen to Jack and as a result had a great run. It’s not always that I blog here about TV shows (in fact this is my first) but I just wanted to pay tribute to the excellent writing, directing, and acting of 24. I joined midway through the show’s run and it’s probably the only show that I truly get excited about each week. Sure I look forward to The Office or House, but those shows lack the cliffhangers and the intense serialization that 24 has. I really want to know what happens in the next episode and a spoiler greatly diminishes the show’s enjoyment. That’s why I’m looking for a similar show to replace it next year and so far it’s hard to find anything comparable.

Dear ESPN, there are still 2 rounds of playoffs left

Well, the unbeaten record through round 1 took a hit in round 2. I’m glad the Magic crushed the Hawks and I got the Lakers-Jazz series right, but missed the other two series. I’m surprised how little resistance the Spurs were able to put up after the emergence of George Hill and all the problems they’ve caused Phoenix. I guess it had to come to an end at some point.

I’m also really happy the Celtics beat the overrated Lebrons, but before I get to the picks I have to say something about the coverage after Game 6. Come on ESPN, the playoffs don’t end with Lebron. In case you haven’t noticed, there are two very good Conference matchups and whoever wins, it will sure to be a competitive Finals. Free agency doesn’t begin until July. Focus on what’s happening now. In fact, after the last few playoff exits, I’m not sure if I want Lebron on my team. He hasn’t just lost, he’s lost badly (sweep by Spurs, fizzling down the stretch against Magic and Celtics). So without giving him any more attention, here are my thoughts on the Conference Finals as I try to improve my 10-2 record.

Orlando Magic v. Boston Celtics: Obviously with any Magic series, you know I’m going to be biased. I’m coming into this one with more apprehension than you’d think. Yes we’ve swept our way through so far but that was against weak competition. The Celtics are also riding the momentum from the Cavs series so they will be sharp and Rajon Rondo looks downright scary. In fact, my worst nightmare is Dwight gets in foul trouble and the series ends up playing out the same way last year’s Cleveland-Orlando series played out, except this time the Magic are the Cavs. However, I have faith in Jameer Nelson. Orlando in 7.

LA Lakers v. Phoenix Suns: I would love to see the Suns upset the Lakers despite the fact I’m not the greatest fan of Amare Stoudemire. The Suns have several players I do like (Nash, Hill, Dudley) and there’s no team I dislike more in the NBA than the Lakers. Plus since the Suns play no interior defense Jameer and Dwight would have a field day in the Finals. However, I just don’t see it happening if Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol play with any effort. Unless Kobe pulls a Lebron, Lakers will return to the Finals. LA in 6.

Enjoy the games, and Let’s Go Magic!

Playoffs Round 2

Well, I’m a little late on this one, but I already had a reasonable idea of who I was going to go with in each series. So far, an 8-0 record in the first round. Here are my picks for the second round (not using knowledge of the Game 1’s that have already been played):

Cleveland Cavaliers v. Boston Celtics: I have nothing against the Boston Celtics. In fact, I went to their championship parade in 2008 and I would love for the Big Three to send Lebron home early again. However, unless Lebron can’t play because of his arm, I don’t think Boston can stop him. Plain and simple. Cleveland in 7.

Orlando Magic v. Atlanta Hawks: I might be a little biased again, but I think this one is pretty clear cut. Orlando blew out the Hawks the first three games of the season before losing the last one at the end of the season. Atlanta has no one that can match up with Howard. They can’t even harass him like Charlotte did because they just don’t have enough big men. Their 7 game series against a Bogut-less didn’t do anything to convince me otherwise. Orlando in 5.

LA Lakers v. Utah Jazz: The Lakers are probably my least favorite team in basketball and much like Cleveland above, I would love to see the Jazz beat them. This match-up is intriguing because of Utah’s Deron Williams. However, Utah’s injuries worry me. Kobe will be much tougher to guard than Carmelo Anthony and unfortunately for the Jazz they traded away Ronnie Brewer and AK-47 is hurt. Utah is also too thin to compete up front against the twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum with Okur out. While Williams can carry them to a few wins, don’t expect an upset. LA in 6.

Phoenix Suns v. San Antonio Spurs: I’m having deja vus about this series. Although Phoenix has looked pretty good late in the season and in the first round, I can’t look past the history between these two teams. Will the Spurs be able to upset another one of their perennial rivals? Can they stay healthy and get Richard Jefferson to contribute something? I’m going to same the same thing as I said about the Dallas series: Never count the Spurs out and never take the Suns for granted. San Antonio in 7.

Enjoy the games and Let’s Go Magic!