Sunday, June 21, 2009

#9: 24 - Season One

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Few people have as big an impact on the world in the entire span of their life as Jack Bauer manages to have in 24 hours.  Before there were Russians framing Chinese who were in turn framing Arabs and before 50% of the White House Staff was helping terrorists Jack Bauer was simply an agent for CTU (the fictional counter terrorism unit) who was having the worst day of his life.  Jack is simultaneously dealing with the kidnapping of his daughter and being framed for an assassination attempt on State Farm spokesperson presidential candidate David Palmer. 24 introduced the innovative technique of "real time" storytelling, which allowed viewers to feel like they were experiencing a day in the life of Jack Bauer.  As a result 24 is infinitely better to watch on DVD/online rather than in the context of a TV season, though you can easily be swept in to a 6 hour TV binge if you're not careful (not that it is always a bad thing to do so).  In a lot of ways 24 is the Harry Potter of this list in that it may not be a work of art from a television perspective (just as there is much better literature than Harry Potter), but it is nearly impossible to pause once you've started watching.

With regards to the season itself, the first season had the tightest plot and seemed the most "realistic."  While Jack certainly took some damage, he wasn't the superhuman he ended up being in later seasons (in one season his heart stops, he is shocked back to life and manages to kick terrorist ass for another eight or so hours).  Season One also introduced some awesome surprise plot elements that became cliches in later seasons.  While in later seasons the question became not if but who was the mole in CTU, throughout season one we are wrapped up in trying to figure out who exactly is out to get Jack.  Season one also had one of the biggest finale shockers in TV history with (highlight for spoilers) the murder of Jack's wife by Nina MyersOverall, season one of 24 is action-packed TV at its finest.

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