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24 starring Kiefer Sutherland

24 starring Kiefer Sutherland

24 starring Kiefer Sutherland. Image via

When 24 came out first in 2001, it soon gained a very loyal following and high ratings that let the show go on for 8 seasons.

It’s admirable when any show goes on for so long in the highly competitive TV industry. But it is even more admirable when that show is not a sitcom or a soap but a high-budget action/thriller/drama. But of course 24 wasn’t another CSI show. It had a unique and refreshing concept: the name 24 literally comes from a day having 24 hours. The show is set in real time and each episode takes place within an hour. We see the clock ticking numerous times during the show and with the inevitable but highly earned commercial breaks, it lasts an hour. The beginning of each episode starts with Kiefer Sutherland’s voice over, telling between which hour-zone that episode will take place. And appropriately, one season lasts for 24 episodes-it ends when that particular day is over.

The plot and the main characters are just as intriguing as the show, with the most central element & character being Kiefer Surtherland’s Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer is a CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent in the Los Angeles branch. He is the toughest, smartest and resilient agent and a most valuable assets. What sets him unique is that while he believes in the organization he is working for, he is much more concerned about justice and catching terrorists more than the rules or any bureaucracy. And while this makes him brilliant, it also gets him into a lot of trouble throughout all seasons.

Season 1 starts on an eventful night. Jack’s devotion to his dangerous work has caused him problems in his family life but he has finally moved back in with his beloved wife Teri (Leslie Hope) and beautiful, intelligent but highly rebellious daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert). Jack’s plans for a peaceful family doesn’t last long as Kim has run away for the night around the same United States’s first black President David Palmer’s (Dennis Haysbert) life might be in danger. Not having a clue where their daughter is, Terry sets out to find her and Jack goes to work if the threats are real.

Meanwhile, Kim has gone out with her best friend Janet (Jacqui Maxwell) to two boys from college. It is supposed to be a sexy, fun night out- but soon Kim realizes that the boys have an ulterior agenda, and it has a lot to the with Kim’s father Jack and the men who are planning to get David Palmer killed…

I was so lucky when I caught season 1, because the network was on the reruns, 4 episodes in a row and they weren’t giving any commercials during the episodes, but just between them. 4 non-stop, advertising-free 24 episodes is a lot of thrilling action, full of adrenaline, lots of amazing and unpredictable twists, great insight to well-developed characters and a lot of intelligent villains. Needless to say, I was hooked. And even the finale didn’t disappoint as season 1 came with a brilliant, in-your-face finale.

I watched season 2 with the same zeal and gusto.  I now had to see the show episodes one by one and I could hardly wait to see what would happen to Jack Bauer next. After season 1, Jack was emotionally damaged and this added new depths to his character, who never showed his emotions easily in the first place. It was a brand new day and Jack was back to kick some serious butt. But he also didn’t know who to trust, not after what happened in episode 1 (and I am not going to say it. It’s brilliant – just go watch it).

As season 3 started, 24 was proving to be a very good but very risky project for the actors involved. Because aside from Jack Bauer, any character- no matter how big/significant the role, could just be killed that season. Any man, apart from Jack, could be a villain or helping out a villain. And women could hardly be trusted as well. So far, the other male actor who got the most frequent screen time was Carlos Bernard who played Tony Almedia for 7 seasons. Yes, some agents/bosses changed or resigned or reassigned but mostly, if a character left the show, it was because they died. I have to go back to the series to check what happened with Elisha Cuthbert’s Kim, as she appears in only 79 episodes. I don’t remember what happened to her character. The most frequent actress was Mary Lynn Rajskub, who played Chloe from season 2 to the end of season 8. Chloe was a whiz about the technical stuff (computers) and one of Jack’s most trusted allies.

Jack Bauer’s character was never really romantically given a chance and even if he had some romantic involvements (such as with Audrey Raines played by Kim Raver), he really didn’t get to live a relationship on screen as one season only took place in one day and Jack was always busing saving America or the world all together.

But as season 4 started, my addiction to 24 faltered. It wasn’t that the show’s writing got bad, but the concept- the show’s biggest weapon- was now also becoming one of its core weaknesses. Now, no matter how smart, strong, tough, fit, whatever Jack is, there are only so many times you can sell “one man’s saving the world in a day” to the audience. And it does become annoying when one in 2 or 3 actors turn into villains.

Now, while I will always find the writing more brilliant for the first 3 seasons, 24 never does really momentum. However if you have started the show from the first season, you should try to consider each season separately. Otherwise, the show’s realistic real time attitude is just an effect. Yes, Jack Bauer managed to rock for 8 seasons. And if as long as you do isolate each season from each other when it comes to Jack’s super resume, you will enjoy them all.

Now that we are in the holiday season and all my current shows’ actors are on vacation, it just might be a time for me to revisit the seasons I loved and seasons I haven’t checked out yet.

As for some of the racism accusations, I don’t think 24 was ever racist about its villains. True, the show aired in November, 2001 and through its seasons it did involve some Muslim criminals. But 24 had so many villains- they belonged to lots of religions, races and countries. And more often than not, any foreign criminal almost always had an American ally. So, no, I don’t find 24 to be racist. But of couse each to his own. I also find it that it is trying to be against discrimination even as 24 had black male lead who played the president. 24’s later episodes also saw a female president.

IMDB Rating: 8.9/10 voted by over 39.500 people.

My rating: 10/10 for the first 3. I haven’t seen the whole of the other seasons so I will update this post afterwards. If you have your favorite Jack Bauer moments or lines or any other favorite 24 character, please share them.

Also note that 24 is going to be a movie and of course it will be starring Kiefer Sutherland.

Other Drama, Thrillers and/or Drama-Thrillers You Might Like:

Alias – this one is the J.J. Abrams hit before Lost. Starring Jennifer Garner, Michael Vartan and Bradley Cooper.

The Mentalist – serial killers, murderers, California, funny one-liners, entertainment, depression, action and chilling mystery all in one place. Starring Simon Baker and Robin Tunney.

Castle– this one has romance and comedy too. Starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic.

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One Response to “24 starring Kiefer Sutherland”

  1. Melechesh says:

    The truth is that Kiefer Sutherland created a very memorable character. However, the autor of an article is right that 24 hour became repatitive to the point that it was noting elese than just a good-selling-product.

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