There are numerous action shows and movies that depict American heroes at their best. Strong, handsome, dashing, exemplary men that prosecute those of villainous intention and keep our national security ensured against terrorist threats. Die Hard's John McClane, the unforgettable Rambo of Sylvester Stallone's time, just to name a few of these iconic characters. But among them lies a distinct sense of heroism, of adventure. The American Hero genre is romanticized, with the main protagonist usually able to dispatch of enemy forces without breaking a singular sweat. FOX News's hit series that became an American cultural sensation, Twenty-Four, revolving around the dire adventures of Federal Agent Jack Bauer as he seeks to prevent terrorist attacks from being incurred upon the United States is such a divert from the mainstream patriotic action-adventure one may seek. In the spirit of such, I'll be reviewing each season periodically and chronologically. So here goes, Twenty-Four: Season One Review! 24's main gimmick is that all events are played out within 'real time'. That means each episode is the span of one hour (or formatted to seem that way, each episode is actually 40 or so minutes). And, considering there are twenty-four episodes each season, you can expect at least two normal television seasons worth of content each time you embark upon the daunting task of watching this program. Each Season feels like a movie and a half has dropped upon you, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Every episode serves to move the plot forward in a driving way. In a sense, there is no room for filler episodes. Unlike the episodic, careful, and calmer pacing of Netflix shows and animes and cartoons that most people seem accustomed with, each Season (or more rightfully put, 'Day') of 24 is a fast-paced race against time to prevent malicious terrorist elements from wreaking havoc upon the civilized world. Day One follows Jack Bauer, a Counter-Terrorist Federal Agent and ex-military professional working at the CTU's Los Angeles Branch. Jack is known for going against standard protocol consistently in order to ensure the mission sees success, and is even known for incriminating his own colleagues if they undertake corrupt activities, earning him equally the awe and the ire of those he works with.
Jack's character, played by the masterful Kiefer Sutherland, is exactly the sort of protagonist that a show like 24 requires. There isn't an overdose of expository backstory information that we're filled on for this character's introduction, because of course, that'd take up precious time being filled by the rush to prevent the present crisis from furthering. There are plans for a prequel series by FOX (though it seems such ambitions have been indefinitely scrapped due to concerns over the show's longevity), but that's besides the point. Jack Bauer is the quintessential American badass. Goes against the grain, a family man of God-fearing background, but most of all, the sort of person you'd never want to cross or gain the ire of. Ever. Jack is pitted against a deeply entrenched and ruthless conspiracy enacted by Serbian war criminals and American mercenaries to assassinate David Palmer, a promising Presidential Candidate for the election. David (played by the eternal Denzel Washington), also has issues of his own, as an underlying subplot of the Season is his strained relationship with his wife Sherry, by continuing to chase an accusation about his son Keith which has been resurfaced by opponents to Palmer's campaign. It's a game of both politics and intrigue, as the main threat of Palmer's assassination coincides with David seeking justice when everyone around him seems sternly against such a notion. There's a certain nostalgia about 24, one of the early 2000s, when politics wasn't so much a rotating arena of slap-fests on Twitter, but rather it was a somewhat more dignified affair. 24 was born out of the fallout 9/11 brought to American society. Terrorism became the number one threat, and the War on Terror brought about a new age of uncertainty and political instability across the globe, especially within the already precarious Middle-East. Set within this context, rather than the technologically driven era of 2020, 24 makes a lot more sense. It's a snapshot, if you will, into the 2000s. The culture, the society, the way of thinking. 24 exploits the terrorism fears of those ages, but doesn't encourage violence or reactionary responses against such, it instead provides an entertaining, harrowing tale within such a backdrop. Given this, the first Season of 24 is an explosive introduction into such a thriller. Each episode brings something new into the table, a new addition into this complex equation that Bauer must sift through in order to uncover the true masterminds behind the assassination on Palmer's life. It's a harrowing story that constantly wrenches our hearts, as we slowly come to understand that it's not a racially-motivated plot to kill the first Black President, but rather a phantom from the past. A ghost from both Jack and Palmer's old days that seeks vengeance on them for an operation they committed years ago.
We're introduced to crucial members of the main cast through Day One. Jack's coworkers at CTU, from Nina Myers (who is later revealed a traitor), Tony Almeida, George Mason, Kim Bauer, and Teri Bauer among others (of whom Teri tragically passes before the Day ends.) And don't worry, because 24 has a boatload of villains for every scenario. Before reaching the mastermind of this plan, the Serbian War Criminal Victor Drazen, 24 takes up through a deluge of smaller-time villains, ranging from the American mercenary Ira Gaines to average street thugs to Serbian assassins. There's never a missed moment of suspense in 24, each scene is a building block of tension and intrigue that contributes onto the next. You're never bored, because your attention is glued onto what's transpiring in the screen. It's a show so masterfully crafted on every level you feel like you're watching several movies take place at once, and none are overtaking the other, each are complimenting the main, overarching story, which is Jack Bauer tracing the steps of the would-be assassins to eventually confront them and bring Victor Drazen to justice.
In conclusion, Day One of 24 has too many good elements to name. Watch it on Amazon Prime, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. 10/10.