Thursday, January 11, 2007
24 Reasons to Love ‘24’
1. The clock. Real-time action over the course of an entire television season is one of the more amazing innovations in the history of modern entertainment. One of the best truisms I’ve heard about “24” is the producer who said the show’s central figure isn’t Counter Terrorist Unit Special Agent Jack Bauer—it’s the clock.
2. The “clock sound” is louder on the way into a commercial break than coming back from commercial.
3. Kiefer Sutherland. The guy was born to play Jack Bauer. He sets the tone for the entire show; he’s the foundation, and the standard-bearer. Sutherland’s at his best not when running or shooting at full tilt or screaming at someone (as you might think), but in moments of quiet, deadly fury.
4. Jack often serves as judge, jury, and executioner.
5. Jack Bauer jokes are hysterical.
6. The casting, overall, is superb—and it better be, because new people are coming in all the time. No character is safe, which not only adds a heightened sense of drama to every season, but keeps once-beloved personalities from going stale.
7. When characters die, they are briefly mourned and often missed, but the show moves on. No over-sentimentality allowed (thank goodness).
8. Then again, there’s just the right amount of emotion simmering right at the surface—especially for Jack—and you have to have seen every episode of every season to get the full impact.
9. The episode-ending cliffhangers are consistently the best I’ve ever seen, even better than the doozies on “Alias.”
10. The plot MOVES. Just when you think everything’s going to be resolved, a whole new Pandora’s box comes barreling down on top of you in midstream.
11. The villains, on balance, are well-developed, three-dimensional characters, with clear (if sometimes conflicted and objectionable) motivations for their actions.
12. Mary Lynn Rajskub’s facial expressions while playing systems analyst and all-around techno-guru Chloe O’Brian are priceless.
13. The show uses hyper-real scenarios to demonstrate real truths. There may not be a superhero like Jack on our side, but “24” reminds us people are sacrificing their lives for this country all the time—and I’m thankful and glad to have them out there.
14. Inner-office and inter-agency politics at CTU have national security implications. (Another example of reality in the hyper-real scenario.)
15. With all this craziness going on, you’d think the dialogue would be perpetually cheesy and/or stilted. By and large, it’s not.
16. Good guys drive Fords, bad guys drive Chevys.
17. The show is essentially apolitical, from a Democrat vs. Republican standpoint.
18. The writers aren’t afraid to use torture as an interrogation method.
19. The doors inside CTU make cool whooshing sounds.
20. The CTU telephone ringer is distinctive and never seems to annoy me, even after 120 episodes.
21. Real U.S. military personnel used at least one episode’s action scenes as a training mission.
22. Watching four (or eight) episodes in a row on DVD is great fun—and better than just about any movie you’re going to find (until the “24” movie hits theaters, of course).
23. “24” seems to only be getting better. I didn’t think anything could top Season 4, yet Season 5 managed to do it, without question. We’ll see if that trend continues when …
24. The curtain goes up on Season 6 Sunday at 8 p.m. with a two-night, four-hour extravaganza!