The Writers’ Room – Or the Beginning of the End

April 4th, 2010

24Spoilers just filed this report with the Twitter Division, and I have decided to share it with all of our CTU offices…

Below is an article that appeared a couple of days ago in the New York Times. It containes no spoilers, so feel free to take a look. The writer had been invited as a “consultant” on s8 and had spent a month with HoGo and his team of writers in Hollywood.

The article takes us inside The Writers’ Room (or building), in the early stages of planning Season 8 and depicts some of the difficulties the writers have been facing every single year. First of all: the real time format. Second, the fact that everything you could possibly think of has already been done, in one way or another. Thirdly, the continuity of the story. And finally, the sheer amount of writing necessary to write a whole season.

It always starts plain and simple: with a blank page. One minute of screen time requires a bit more than a page of script. One season means 24×42 minutes of screen time. That amounts to 1’100 pages per season. A tremendous task, indeed.

Brainstorming sessions don’t always come up with solutions, and the process is tedious and exhausting. In fact, when the writer of the article leaves the writers’ room after a whole month, not one line of the season has been written.

The real-time format and the mandatory continuity of the story make things increasingly difficult year after year for the writers… The article actually confirms the feeling that some of us have been getting from Season 8: that the storyline feels somewhat contrived, the writing isn’t flowing, that it seems like the writers had to – as opposed as wanted to – come up with a story arc. Indeed, seen from this angle, it comes as no surprise that Howard and his team have come to a “creative consensus” to end 24 after the 8th season. They probably would have, even if FOX hadn’t considered the cost/benefit factor. In closing, the writer of the article tells us:

“…when Howard told me a few months ago that he couldn’t imagine coming back for Season 9, I understood.”

I guess after 9 years of repeatedly sending Jack to hell and back, the writers really did get too exhausted to go on. It’s for the best. Though TV will definitely be less exciting without 24.

Read the full story here.

3 Responses to “The Writers’ Room – Or the Beginning of the End”

  1. roberton 09 Apr 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Its clear there been struggling and its probably a good idea to end it and do movies which is kind of whole point of making film and tv, that time was never a factor so 24 really threw the main beauty of scripting out the window.

    However i think a lot of the creativity block stems from the lack of new writers and using government and ctu in every series! they could have done jack in a prison for 12episodes for season 6 in china and getting to know inmates with flash backs of there past (like lost?) etc i dunno? or show the chinese torturing him for information, while in the US we see a team of ppl getting ready to break him out and fly over to china, and then skip ahead in time show the breakout in the last 12 hours. 24 didnt evolve enough in my view and this is what held the writing team back the most.

    24 was about jack bauer and to be honest they could have do anything with this character in any setting! hell he coulda even done entire series on him as a fugative on the run with his last 24hrs before being exposed, there just wasnt enough new ideas and risk taking with 24 in the end.

  2. jack_addicton 10 Apr 2010 at 4:44 pm

    You’re right, they’ve written themselves into a corner, using the same setting every time. Of course the character has evolved but the story and scripting hasn’t. There have been too many of the same elements for too many years, too many moles and the like.

    Personally, I would have gone smaller-scale in a season, too. There was no need to have the President in each season, and struggle to get storylines for them, it didn’t need to be an EMP, an H-Bomb and nuclear material so often. Sure, once you’ve taken the big step, going smaller is a risk, but to me, 24 has always been best when it was personal, and that has gone lost in some of the years, when the writers’ blood lust was way too great.

    Also, I don’t know how many changes they’ve had in the writers’ team over the years, but bringing in real fans with fresh minds, would have done the team some good, imho.

  3. Germán Bobadillaon 27 May 2010 at 5:09 am

    Hi. I don’t have much to say, but there’s something that it’s been keeping me awaken since I watched the last two eps… Was that really an end? I don’t think so. I’ve been reading from the staff of 24 themselves that Jack Bauer would die at the end. I don’t know what made them say such thing. Ok. Period. But, what’s gonna happen now? What about all the details that were wating to be consumed? Do we have to wait for the movie to clear our minds up? What is Jack Bauer going to do now? Scaping from the feds, the russians, looking for his family’s sake. I don’t know. Can somebody explain that to me? My clock is still running, and I really need to turn it off. Thank you.

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