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24 -- Brilliance In Television

Lou Pickney
March 7, 2002

If you haven't seen the Fox show 24 (Tuesday 9/8 Central), you're really missing out. The show, starring Kiefer Sutherland, mixes brilliant writing with dramatic interplay in a way few shows even dare try (and even fewer accomplish successfully).

The idea of the show is this: Each episode represents one hour, with the 24 episode season comprising one day in total. But it's not just any day. Federal agent Jack Bauer's wife and daughter are kidnapped by terrorists who are intent on assassinating California Senator David Palmer, who is a front-runner in the presidential primaries. Want to know more? Tune in -- it's worth your time. Actually, the 90 minute block including Undeclared and 24 beats any other 90 block on contemporary TV hands-down (which is a bizarre lead in some ways, but not in the sense that both Undeclared and 24 are great shows, albiet in vastly different ways). 24 avoids being pretentious or preachy, with a realism to its dramatic situations that few programs can match. The bad guys aren't one dimensional characters, but instead people who can justify in their own mind what they are doing (which is key for any story). When it's all said and done, 24 will be one of those rare TV shows which will be a must-buy on DVD. As for now, enjoy it while you can. There's been no indication that 24 will come back for a second season, and it might not even make sense in a second season format. But as for now, with The Sopranos in-between seasons, there's nothing on American TV that can touch 24.

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