Umm spoilers for a 10 year old season of TV
24 is one of the sections in The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever (more on that later). So it seemed like a good time to brush up on this show, one I had watched sporadically while it was on. A season in and I like the cell framing used throughout the show there is one of the things I really enjoy and others that could be totally forgotten.
Lets start with the positive side of things. The novelty of everything happening in real time is actually really interesting and adds a fair amount of tension, when there otherwise wouldn't have been. This also gives the show the momentum of an action film, even if there is hardly any gun play. Pacing across the season was handled well in some parts, others like stuff such as the Bauer family felt like it dragged. I also hated those parts. It had consistent ebbs and flows about every 4 or 5 hours something very action like would happen, the culmination of the previous hours detective work. This consistency is why season 1 is already done with. Netflix begins playing the next episode within 10 seconds of the credits rolling 24 had a couple moments where button mashed next episode.
When this was originally written from the perspective of 5 episodes in, the lack of character development or calming of the storms hadn't happened yet. Ironically that happened in the very next episodes. The lack of this breath is one of the things that isn't working for me. Now major character growth over a 24 hour period isn't going to be that apparent. With what happened at the end of season 1 it will be interesting to see the state of Mr. Bauer. 24’s writers did put most of the growth in Senator Palmer, who was the most interesting part of the show. The Palmer portions were largely the points with breath. Palmer just reflecting on the latest betrayal, one of many that happen over the course of Day 1.
This breath is the thing I enjoy most about Homeland . Homeland and 24 comparisons are not surprising since they share the same producers, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa along with several writers. So when things became very 24-esque on Homeland, like in episode 10 season 2 “Broken Hearts”, an episode with hardly any breath, it isn't surprising when complaints are launched that the show is turning going too far into 24 territory. That’s the problem with expectations. As the day progresses the constant stress makes some people finally snap. How a character like Jack Bauer can function beyond a season is a bit of TV magic. The most apparent thing across shows is Homeland is about contemplation while 24 is of the moment.
The pace and tension of 24 is anchored on to the characters in a cliche fashion. The amount of times over the season I heard a form of “you can’t trust anyone”,if you are being told something in confidence you are the “only one they can trust”, and a personal favorite refrain “I don’t know if I can trust him.” Some things are best left unsaid. 24 is playing with the playbook in hand hopefully they change up some of the plays down the road.
It's clear Bauer is running with the typical married to his job sin eater type. He is running through red tape and making enemies. Receiving marginal blow back, which is than easily negated by Deus Ex Palmer. This isn't implying that by hour 12 he should be utterly defeated writers just seemed to put up roadblocks to kill 15 minutes and that is it. The show dose deserve credit for killing Teri off at the end of season 1. She had basically been used up from a story perspective anyway and would be of little use in later seasons beyond cameos. This being network tv not actually seeing her die isn’t a huge complaint. Bauer just having to find her like that was good enough.
I don’t care about Kim Bauer even if she is played by Elisha Cuthbert of The Girl Next Door fame. What started as a one wild night subplot with her friend and some strange possibly rapey guys being tied into the main story is just rote at this point. O no the terrorist have kidnapped our heroes daughter (or insert any family member really) stakes are raised! This isn’t the same kind of disdain I have for Chris Brody, who I mock at every chance. Chris is just in the background and useless beyond completing the nuclear family. Kim is actually a part of something and it just isn’t that interesting. Once her and her mother are rescued in episode 13 it felt like a nice end cap. Than the writers just kept having them get captured again...and again. CTU, like all law enforcement on TV, are incompetent at protecting people. The hours in which Teri lost her memory are particularly brutal. It would've been more interesting to cut them out as a major C story and invent something else.
This came out in 2001, unsurprisingly it looks very much like something from the late 90s. The biggest difference beyond the picture quality is the cell phones! Man they have changed a lot in 10 years.
24, at least season 1, isn’t a A+. It is a really good B+ with a great concept that has the potential for a great season of TV. Getting me to care about the characters beyond Bauer is going to be hard.