24: the Complete First Season
By
Phil Davetas
4/22/2004 8:12:01 AM

By magic, a government agency called the CTU catches wind of an assassination attempt on presidential candidate, Senator David Palmer. By coincidence, CTU bullpen leader, Jack Bauer, is assigned the case and he’s got 24 hours to figure out what’s what. Meanwhile, Jack’s daughter decides to sneak out of the house and winds up kidnapped along with a friend. While all this is going on, Jack is chalking up bad guy bodycounts, bending and breaking protocol to get his job done, and has yet to find his missing family. To make matters worse, Senator Palmer is in the middle of a scandal involving his son and an “accidental” murder. This is enough to start the series, but gets a little hard to watch for the following reasons:

The show takes place in a 24-hour period, one hour at a time, in real time. It’s clearly a gimmick, and not always a successful one. Most of the real-time is quite effective, but it’s a little hard to grasp that all this crap is going on at the same time in the same 12 hours of the first season. Some of the scenarios come off about as goofy as a daytime soap trying to take itself seriously. Jack Bauer’s wife and daughter getting kidnapped is one thing. Then they rape his wife. They escape in a hail of gunfire, car chases, wilderness foot chases and cars rolling off cliffs (with children inside), the mandatory crash explosion, and amnesia that causes the wife to discover she’s been cheating on Jack this whole time. Then, there’s the murder scandal concerning Senator Palmer’s son. In one episode, father and son are going at it to try and figure out what’s to be done about the cover-up; the next day they’re talking casually like nothing ever happened. The senator’s loathsome and manipulative wife is pulling a Hillary Clinton and trying to take over his campaign so she can rule the White House at the cost of reputations and lives. Jack’s daughter, Kim, somehow survives the car flying off the cliff and the explosion and then goes to a drug-dealer (who is also her kidnapper, now with a change of heart) to help her and her mom escape from the bad guys. Unfortunately, she gets involved in a drug deal that all happens to be connected to her kidnapping in the first place, and gets kidnapped yet again. Earlier that day, Kim’s friend was killed and by the end of the afternoon, Kim doesn’t even acknowledge her or care. Of course, ‘earlier that day’ really means ‘early in the season’ which begins in fall and that day ends in May. Perhaps if the show’s timeline was spread out through an entire year, some of these dramatic cues might feel more digestible.

There’s also the whole widescreen/hand-held aspect of the show: While some of the multi-screen gimmicks remind us of an old Woodstock movie, they’re actually fluid and easy to follow. However, most of the multi-screen images are dead center in the frame, contradicting the whole widescreen format in the first place. Once in a while, a boom is noticed dipping in and out of movies from the top of the frame. In the case of 24, entire camera men and crews focusing their cameras are revealed in the same master shot. Clearly, the producers wanted the show to look like a movie without the small screen effect; but still wanted the option to pan and scan in the future if viewers complained. They should’ve stuck with shooting for TV. The hand-held camera movements are taken to extremes; for instance, there’s a shot where someone is watching surveillance monitors and yet they display steady-cam and super-zoom and pull-back capabilities in the style of the show.

While one’s willing suspension of disbelief is working overtime to ground these gigantic leaps in logic and reality, somehow 24 is still a solid, dramatic show. These flaws can be overlooked and possibly unnoticed when the viewer is caught up in the thicket of conspiracies, lies, back-knifing wenches, power-hungry femme-nazis, black-mailing politicians, revenge plots, car chases, shoot-outs, sex scandals, bodycounts, lesbian assassins --all happening in one day. If that’s your scene, then 24 will do the trick.

As far as special features are concerned—what special features? There are no featurettes or commentaries. There is an alternate ending to the season finale, but it’s pretty much pointless and not very well shot. Even the accompanying scene commentary is dry and denounces the alternate ending. An introduction with Kiefer Sutherland announces what you’re about to watch if you started watching the 6th disk first (also pointless). If you happened to be taping 24 as it aired, then that was probably the way to go. The only benefit to the DVD package is the fact that it will last 100,000 years, while your tapes will wither and stretch over time. The subtitles and closed captioning might come in handy for some of the more technical jargon, but there really isn’t much on bonus. Not even a simple filmography.

One last note: Many of the episodes are directed by Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins is the one who directed such flicks as A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Predator 2, The Ghost and the Darkness and Blown Away, which is close to what you see in 24. The cadre of writers and directors, for the most part, are qualified and competent and should be given a pat on the back for organizing such a complicated web of mystery and drama. It’s not easy. Especially for TV.

Special Features:
Alternate Ending, Alternate Ending with Commentary by Joel Surnow, Introduction to Season One with Kiefer Sutherland.

Episode List:

12:00 AM – 1:00 AM
Written by Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
It’s the night before the California Presidential Primary and a presidential candidate, David Palmer, is targeted for assassination and CTU’s Jack Bauer is on the case to find out who’s lurking behind the corners of lies and red tape. Meanwhile, Bauer’s daughter, Kim, and her friend are kidnapped by a couple of young hoods.

1:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
One of Jack’s agency friends uncovers hidden files on a magnetic strip on an ID card.

2:00 AM – 3:00 AM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Looks like Nina Myers, Jack’s ex-lover, and colleague in his office could be a dirty agent. Senator Palmer sneaks off to check out the mean streets of LA for a clandestine meeting. Jack’s daughter and friend make a break from their kidnappers. And of course, let’s not forget the lesbian assassin double-cross.

3:00 AM – 4:00 AM
Written by Robert Cochran and Directed by Winrich Kolbe.
Now that Nina’s alibi checks out, Jack’s trying to patch things up now that the CTU office is locked down. Jack is hunting down a gunman. Palmer is trying to conceal some grim secrets regarding his son.

4:00 AM – 5:00 AM
Written by Chip Johannessen and Directed by Winrich Kolbe.
Jack is on the trail of a killer who knows something about his missing daughter. Palmer’s son may not be such an innocent in this whole scenario.

5:00 AM – 6:00 AM
Written by Howard Gordon and Directed by Bryan Spicer.
Looks like Palmer is in a dilemma whether or not to reveal his son’s prior activities before he is exposed by the press. And Alan York may not be the person he says he is. Kim is getting Stockholmy with one of the surviving kidnappers.

6:00 AM – 7:00 AM
Written by Andrea Newman and Directed by Bryan Spicer.
Palmer confronts his son about the murder. Jack’s wife finds out that Alan York is not Alan York. The Big Bad is leading Jack around by the nose. Now that Jack knows his daughter is in peril, she’s being used as leverage to puppeteer him into sabotaging his own case. Everybody in the CTU office is getting increasingly more suspicious including the ones that you thought you could trust.

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
The kidnappers now have both mom and daughter and the polls have opened and Palmer’s about to give a speech concerning his son’s accident 7 years ago. Jack is being set up to look like the one who kills Palmer.

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Written by Virgil Williams and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Jack is on the run from the Secret Service taking a waitress hostage. Nina and Tony hold Jamie after confessing to treason and are about to bring in her son for leverage. Palmer’s wife is up to some sneaky shenanigans regarding their son’s scandal.

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Written by Larry Hertzog and Directed by Davis Guggenheim.
Jack is still on the lam as they bring in Alberta Greene to run the CTU office. Mommy and daughter steal a cell phone to set up a trace. And one of the key figures, Mr. Drazen, is in deep with Palmer’s assassination. Palmer’s about to lose his massive contributors to his campaign.

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Written by Robert Cochran and Directed by Davis Guggenheim.
Jack kidnaps a money-hugger whose funds have bank-rolled Jamie’s cut of the plot. Jack’s wife and daughter are no longer a part of controlling him so they opt to kill them.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Written by Howard Gordon and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Palmer realizes that he must come face to face with the psychiatrist that leaked the info to the press. Jack closes in on finding his family.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Written by Andrea Newman and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Jack and family make a break from Gaines’ ranch. Palmer’s sources are getting killed and paid off.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff and Directed by Jon Cazzar.
Palmer is being blackmailed for his son’s psychiatrist’s death. Jack is being interrogated by Alberta Greene. Jack’s wife and daughter are in the hospital and a bogus FBI guy is looking for them. Meanwhile, Palmer and Jack’s past are starting to collide.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Written by Michael Chernuchin and Directed by Jon Cazzar.
Jack and Palmer meet face to face. Jack’s wife is pregnant.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Written by Robert Cochran and Howard Gordon and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Nina and Jack’s wife go head to head on their affair. Kim tries to protect her kidnapper who helped them escape. Mommy and Kim are on the lam again, but this time Kim rides off a cliff and mommy conveniently gets amnesia.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Written by Michael Chernuchin and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Just about every amnesia melodrama you could ever think of is in this one. A true boner of an episode. Jack borrows one of Palmer’s assistants to pull a sting on one of the Drazen brothers.

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Written by Maurice Hurley and Directed by Frederick K. Keller.
Jack masquerades as Alexis Drazen to meet one of the other Drazen toadies. Kim visits Rick, her ex-kidnapper, to find intel on her mom’s second group of kidnappers and help out with a drug deal real quick. Meanwhile, dumb-ass mom is still tripping on the whole amnesia thing for absolutely no reason other than to reveal the she’s just another slut in a long list of Hollywood sluts.

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff and Directed by Frederick K. Keller.
Rick and Kim’s drug deal goes south. Palmer makes a live broadcast announcing his son’s past. Jack and his boss go off to check out a clue somewhere in LA.

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Written by Robert Cochran and Howard Gordon and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
After a traumatic gunplay Jack’s amnesia magically dissipates. The Young Guns and Flashback cast reunite to protect the Alamo where they’re babysitting the Renegade Victor Drazen—the man Jack killed two years ago to the day. Palmer’s loathsome wife is sharpening the knife to bury in his back.

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Kim is doing some time in the slam—another chicks in prison cliché. Drazen (the one with the really bad accent) is rescued by his son, the one who still has his penis. Palmer is on his way to being Prez, but looks like his speech writer is starting to scandal up the works.

9:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff and Directed by Paul Shapiro.
Looks like Kim gets herself kidnapped AGAIN! Drazen, Sr. plans to trade Jack for his other son who’s jacked the hell up in a hospital. Palmer uses his super political powers to nudge the CTU to make the trade.

10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Written by Robert Cochran and Howard Gordon and Directed by Paul Shapiro.
Now that the evil Drazens let Jack go, the plot thickens as he is forced to assassinate Palmer. Palmer’s gamey wife is brain-twisting him. Most importantly, we find out who the mole at CTU is.

11:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Teleplay by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff, Story by Robert Cochran and Howard Gordon and Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Now that Kim has escaped AGAIN, Jack could be walking into a trap and the Drazens might shoot him all up to hell. Jack takes his final steps toward tracking down CTU’s mole and the Drazens. Palmer’s final hour is about to come.

24 – Season 1
NR, 2001-2002, (6 Disks) Fox Home Video.

Kiefer Sutherland, Leslie Hope, Sarah Clarke, Elisha Cuthbert, Dennis Haysbert, Mia Kirshner, Carlos Bernard, Penny Johnson Jerald, Michael Massee, Michael O’Neill, Xander Berkeley, Rudolf Martin, Richard Burgi, Zach Grenier, Karina Arroyave, Al Leong, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dennis Hopper, Music by Sean Callery, Created by Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran.

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