Saturday, March 25, 2006

24: Season One TV Series

Reviewed by Byron Merritt



Jack Bauer is the head of L.A.’s CTU (Counter-Terrorist Unit) and he’s just received notification from the higher-ups that a threat to a Presidential candidate --- the first black candidate --- is real and imminent. His job is to thwart the attempt by all means necessary. This will be "the longest 24 hours of his life."

But the terrorists are aware of Jack and know he’s assigned to root them out. We quickly learn that Jack’s wife and daughter are in danger. They’re swooped up by splinter cells of the terrorists and locked away. Now they have some leverage against Jack, and they’re going to use it. But they underestimate him. Having been trained in Special Forces before moving into law enforcement, Jack doesn’t like being pushed against the wall. Fighting back is his only chance, for him, his family and the Presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, other storylines are coalescing with this one. The office of L.A.’s CTU may be rife with undercover agents for foreign terror groups. Jack and his wife were once on the outs and Jack became involved with Agent Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) — the second in command at CTU — for a very brief time. Senator David Palmer (the candidate) and his family are having a rough time; they’re in the middle of the California primary and Mr. Palmer’s wife is enamored with becoming the first lady much so that she’s willing to risk just about everything to get there. Palmer’s son may also have been involved in the murder of a boy who raped his sister, and the news is just now beginning to break. Palmer’s enemies are closing in, trying to kill him and to kill his run for President. And as this unfolds, we learn that Jack Bauer and David Palmer were once involved in a military operation (as subordinate and leader respectively) that killed a Kosovo terrorist ...and, by accident, his family. Or so they thought.

The family of the "murdered" man (Dennis Hopper) may have infiltrated CTU and are prepared to do anything to get Senator Palmer and Jack Bauer.

This first season of 24 developed almost a cult following. And there’s good reason for it. This is acting well done and nonstop action at its finest. Just when a storyline starts winding down, they pump it back up with adrenaline. Keifer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) was a good choice for the lead character and all of the supporting cast are just as perfect for their roles (from Leslie Hope who plays Jack’s wife to Dennis Haysbert who stars as Senator David Palmer, the Presidential candidate.)

The complaints surrounding the series are justified if a bit unrealistic. Most have centered on the lack of realism when it comes to travel times in L.A.; the 24 hour screenwriters put everything at 15 minutes away from everything else in the big city. This is true, they do. But when you have to cover one hour per episode, you can see why they did this; they only have so much time to get new plots across and keep the story moving at a decent pace.

It’s great to see a quality TV series making its way into mainstream America. It’s so rare for something like this; I was stunned to find so many people (mainly my friends, coworkers, and family) were equally enamored with the program.



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