To enjoy “24,” you had to suspend disbelief and not worry about how unlikely and often utterly insane it was. That was easier some seasons than others.
Here’s a ranking of the eight previous seasons of “24,” from worst to first:
8. Season 7 • This is the season when the frogmen break in under the White House — the dumbest of all the dumb things this show has ever done. President Allison Taylor is against torture until she needs it, and her husband gets shot. Jack is exposed to a deadly pathogen, and the season ends with him near death.
7. Season 6 • Jack finds out his father and brother are bad guys involved in the nerve-gas plot in Season 5 and searches for five suitcase nukes. One goes off, destroying Valencia, Calif. A bomb nearly kills Wayne Palmer, leaving VP Noah Daniels in charge. Until Palmer comes out of a coma. But then he collapses. Oy! Logan reappears and is stabbed by his wife. It ends with Jack saving his nephew and watching his evil father die in an airstrike.
6. Season 8 • President Taylor is determined to sign a treaty with Kamistan, but Kamistani terrorists and Russians cause all kinds of trouble. Jack goes nuts and, despite the threat of WWIII, hunts down and kills members of the conspiracy. Taylor turns to ex-President Logan for help and tries to have Jack done in, but has a change of heart and turns herself in to the attorney general for her crimes. Jack goes into hiding.
5. Season 3 • Jack infiltrates a Mexican drug ring to stop the release of a deadly virus. Palmer is caught up in scandal involving his now ex-wife, Sherry, and decides not to seek re-election. And Jack cuts off the hand of his daughter’s boyfriend — to save him, of course.
4. Season 4 • Jack is working for Secretary of Defense James Heller and involved romantically with Heller’s daughter, Audrey. Heller and Audrey are kidnapped; terrorists cause a nuclear power plant to melt down; terrorists steal a stealth fighter and shoot down Air Force One, critically injuring the president and making VP Charles Logan acting president; and terrorists launch a nuclear missile. Palmer comes in to help Logan, warns Jack of a plot against him and says farewell as Jack goes into hiding.
3. Season 2 • Jack has to try to thwart a nuclear bombing of Los Angeles and a plot to oust President Palmer and get the U.S. into a Mideast war. Yes, his daughter gets chased by a cougar and Jack has a heart attack while killing a guy, only to quickly recover, but the rest of the season is pretty good. It ends with another shocker — Palmer collapses, the victim of a biological attack.
2. Season 5 • Ex-President Palmer is assassinated and Jack is framed for the crime. Russian terrorists attack an airport, telling President Logan not to sign an anti-terrorism treaty with Russia. It’s a diversion for the theft of nerve gas, which will be used in Russia as pretext for oh-he’s-evil Logan to secure oil interests in Central Asia. Logan is arrested; Jack is captured by Chinese agents and tortured.
1. Season 1 • Jack protects presidential candidate Sen. David Palmer from an assassination plot; Jack’s wife and daughter are kidnapped. Palmer and his wife, Sherry, are among the best characters ever, and the death of Jack’s wife, Teri, is shocking and brave storytelling.