Well, it's been visible on the TV horizon for awhile now but it looks like the news is finally coming into clear view: Fox's hit show 24 looks to be coming to a close after this, its eighth season.
The news comes from Variety and states that a decision will be made whether to end the show or not after the current eighth season in a day or two. The execs of both the studio and the network declined to comment for the time being. I think you can take it that they don't want to say anything until they make an official announcement either way.
Although sad for 24 fans like myself, all is not lost. The makers of the show have been trying for a years to get a 24 movie made - particularly star Kiefer Sutherland, who's been pushing for it almost harder than anyone else. It was recently announced that State of Play screenwriter Billy Ray has been hired to write the 24 movie script based on his idea of taking Jack Bauer to Europe (an idea which was apparently a big hit with the studio and producers).
So why is the end now in sight for 24? Well, it's always been a show that's cost a lot to make with its film-like scheduling (it apparently takes the better part of the year to film a season). But those costs have been rising and rising as the seasons have gone on and the ratings have not risen enough to justify the cost. On top of dwindling viewer numbers, the once acclaimed show has been getting some heat from critics. Heck, even loyal fans of the show admit it's not as good as it used to be (although I admit I'm one of the few who thinks it's just about as good as ever).
Of course if Fox stops putting the show out that doesn't mean we might not see it on a rival network. And the studio is thinking about shopping it around to others (NBC sure needs a show if Heroes isn't renewed...). However, it's believed that because of the cost of making 24 and the show's long run (can you believe it's been over 8 freaking years?!) that interest from other networks will be limited.
If they're thinking about going the feature film route with 24 (and hiring a writer is a stark indication of that) then perhaps it isn't a total downer that the show is coming to an end. Would it mean that we'd have to say goodbye to the real-time format? Unless they decide, as they did with the TV movie Redemption, to make the movie take place within the space of just a couple of hours and keep the minute-by-minute thing going.
However, Sutherland has said before that one of the incentives of making a movie version would be the freedom for Bauer to travel without us having to see that on-screen (it would be more like the globe-trotting action of the Bourne franchise in that sense).
Personally, I just would be happy to see good 'ol Jack Bauer back on-screen - whether it be the small or the big screen - kicking ass and taking terrorist names :) .
What do you think of 24 perhaps ending after eight seasons? Is its time up or is there more fuel left in the tank for a few more seasons?
Stay tuned for more on this story as it comes out. The announcement is expected to be given in the next couple of days.
You can catch the next episode of 24 on Monday March 15th @ 9:00pm, on Fox.