Such a simple idea--yet so fiendishly complex in the execution. 24
, as surely everyone knows by now, is a thriller that takes place over 24 hours, midnight to midnight, in 24 one-hour episodes (well, 45-minute episodes if you extract the ad breaks). Everything to take place in real time--on-screen and off-screen time the same--which means no flash-backs, no flash-forwards, no nice handy time-dissolves. Every strand of the plot has to be dovetailed and interlocked to make sure that things happen just when they should, in the right amount of time. Not that easy.
Creator Robert Cochran and his team of writers and directors have done a pretty impressive job in putting the jigsaw together and keeping the tension ratcheted up high, as Federal Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) hares around LA trying to stall an assassination attempt on a black Presidential candidate and rescue his wife and daughter from the clutches of the Balkan baddies. Twists, turns, revelations and cliffhangers are tossed at us with satisfying regularity. Its not perfect: we get some hokey plot devices (instant amnesia, anybody?) and the final twist, once you start thinking back, makes no sense whatsoever. There are altogether too many huggy family moments ("I love you, Dad." "I love you, son"); and as for überbaddie Dennis Hoppers "Serbian" accent
Even so, this is undeniably mould-breaking TV. Sutherland, rescuing his career from the doldrums in one heroic leap, fully deserves his Golden Globe. Sets and locations are artfully deployed--we gain a real sense of LAs splayed-out geography--and Sean Callerys score is a powerful, brooding presence. Like Murder One and The Sopranos, 24 is one of those series future TV thrillers will have to measure themselves against.
On the DVDs: 24 is released in a six-disc box set. On discs 1- 5 there are no extras, but disc 6 includes the "alternative" ending and a preview of Series 2, presented by an urbane Kiefer Sutherland, that tells us precisely nothing. The transfer, in 16x9 widescreen and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound, does the high production values of the original every justice.--Philip Kemp
24 is an innovative television drama, where the entire series takes place in one day. Each of the 24 episodes covers one hour, told in real time. The first episode begins at midnight on the day of the California Presidential Primary. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) heads up the government's Counter-Terrorist Unit. He discovers that there's going to be an assassination attempt on Senator Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), an African-American presidential candidate. Bauer faces a battle against the clock to avert disaster. The series follows several characters as they live through a day that none of them will forget. For Kimberly (Elisha Cuthbert) a night on the town takes an unexpected turn. Teri (Leslie Hope) sets out to find Kimberly and encounters more danger than she ever imagined possible. Senator Palmer, unaware there's going to be an attempt on his life, faces the threat of a long buried scandal resurfacing. Meanwhile, Jack, with help from his Chief-of-Staff Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke), is charged with the responsibility of stopping the assassination. But who can he trust when it appears a rogue element inside the Agency is in on the hit?