24: Season One

I’ve heard people rave about the television series 24 for years, yet something held me back from watching even a single episode since it first aired 4 or 5 years ago. I initially hesitated because, as a film student, I viewed TV like a kind of annoying little brother to the world of feature-length filmmaking. Dramas and miniseries in particular have traditionally had lower production values, forced and/or unnatural screenwriting, and C-List actors either just learning the ropes or on their way out.

Additionally, other shows that my friends seemed to enjoy (Law & Order, NYPD Blue) never really interested me. Outside of the occasional CSI, I had pretty much written TV dramas off altogether. And, once the seasons began airing, I figured 24 was the type of show that you would have to follow consistently to understand.

Those of you who are already fans of 24 can imagine my surprise after watching my first episode a little over 3 weeks ago. I was completely floored by the (constant) quality that the producers and director maintain throughout the screenwriting, acting, and technical direction. Additionally, I’ve always been a fan of Keifer Sutherland, but rarely had I gotten to watch him as the hero (in fact, the only other example that comes to mind is the Three Musketeers). The day following I immediately went out and rented the first season and began to catch up on the 100+ hours I’d previously missed.

Having given the proper due to the filmmakers for their work on 24, I have to say my enthusiasm stems directly out of the storylines themselves. It’s a wonder no (currently-running) series before this had focused on a secret agent, and while the character of Jack Bauer may not be James Bond, he certainly fulfills a number of the traits that make 007 so fun to watch without leaving the realm of believability and realism. Couple that with the ever-present threat of terrorism in the (non-fictional) media today, and you have a thoroughly engaging show.

One additional note: A while back I compared car insurance commercials and wrote, in reference to Allstate’s spokesmen, “[he] exudes confidence, reliability, safety… and you believe it, almost hoping that the actor himself were the agent you’d be dealing with.” Ironically that same spokesman plays the US presidential candidate in the first season of 24, and just as with the insurance commercial I can’t help but believe him to be the perfect Commander in Chief. Some people just exude leadership and evoke confidence, and Allstate certainly took advantage of that.

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