Recurring Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Leslie Hope, Sarah Clarke, Elisha Cuthbert and Dennis Haysbert
Before I even begun watching this show, I had to award 24 for an original, exciting premise. The show is filmed in real-time, so each hour-long episode is actually an hour long for the characters. There are 24 episodes a season, so we effectively get 24 hours in the lives of these characters, namely Federal agent, Jack Bauer, one of the most famous TV heroes going. Sure, sometimes the season struggles with this idea, but for merely trying this it, you have to forgive them for the occasional dud note.
It begins at 12am where the Bauer household are staying up late. Jack and his wife, Teri, have been having marital problems, but are beginning the long road to repairing them for the benefit of their daughter, Kim. Jack is called into work, as Senator Palmer is completing the Presidential primary today and they need to be on hand. As it happens, there will be an assassination attempt on the Palmer’s life as various villains set their plans in motion, kidnapping Kim in the process. As each episode ends, a new twist throws the horrific plan into light.
This is the kind of show that gets repeat viewers by throwing up more questions than they answer. The end of the season leaves some questions hanging in the air, but for the most part, it keeps the show fresh and exciting which, with a real-time premise, is a tricky thing to accomplish. Each episode often ends with a cliff-hanger that makes you really want to tune into the next episode right away. Cue shady looks around the room, as each character tries to figure out who the mole is. The lighting crew always managed light up the suspected traitor in a way that made him look like an evil mastermind. Sometimes this means that the show veers along the clichés a little too close, but when most of the characters spend the entire season on the phone, it is the most efficient way to dial up the drama. Sometimes there’s a little too much story to keep up with. To keep the premise going, the writers need to throw in several sub-plots. Kim and Rick’s relationship gets a little frustrating at times. Senator Palmer’s story is quite good, with the back-stabbing nature of American politics, but it is such a change of pace that you want the action to get back to Bauer. As the season gets going, you might need to summon up some patience to stay with it, but I can assure you that it is worth the wait.
It is hard to comment on the actors, as there are so many. All of them do a pretty good job. Kiefer Sutherland never really gets the chance to fully grieve the fact his family are in danger, so his hero seems a little two-dimensional at times. On the plus side, you will get a kick out of doing your own gravely Bauer voice around the house. Leslie Hope’s Teri Bauer gets a tad annoying at times, if you want to pick a weak cast member, although it is the only way to keep her in the story each week. The villains are mostly good. Michael Massee is fantastically nasty as the hired mercenary and Zeljko Ivanek is superb as the mastermind in the shadows, a role the actor should have gotten in a long time. In fact, these two make the big bad guy seem a little weak in comparison. It’s a famous actor, that I won’t spoil for you, who gets the part, but his accent is a little off and he goes for expressionless, coming across as bored.
The final episode is pretty good, although I wanted a little more. The show throws one final twist at us and although it is a pretty good development, I felt it stole the show away from the main villains. Let’s just say the ending is more emotional than action-packed. It works just as well, but the action-hungry viewers might have wanted Bauer’s desperate last stand to be a little more pulse-quickening. As I said before, there is a sense that some answers aren’t explained. The real time element means that there isn’t really time for a quick de-briefing after the action to tie up all the little questions we might have had. On the whole though, I cannot deny that 24 is a fantastic series that I am glad to have invested my time into.
Final verdict: A few small niggles, but on the whole, 24 is a fantastic, gripping drama with enough twists and action to keep everyone entertained.