Friday, June 26, 2009

24: Season 1

Clearly, this is not even remotely Twins-related, so I doubt any readers will be interested (if there are in fact people reading this), but I just breezed through the first season of 24 in about 4 days (that's also why there haven't been any posts the past few days) and I wanted to write down my thoughts on it. If you HAVE NOT WATCHED IT YET AND DO NOT WANT IT TO BE RUINED, STOP READING IMMEDIATELY (that means you, Barnacle and Twin #2). Now I'll start...


I only started watching 24 during the most recent season (#7), but I immediately became hooked. Season 7 was very entertaining, but it sort of wore down towards the end as the plot began jumping all over the place. It was certainly good enough, though, to warrant watching the earlier seasons with all the spare time I have.

And that's exactly what I did, and I couldn't have asked for more. Season 1 was absolutely nail-biting, utterly thrilling, and leagues better than season 7. All of the shortcomings in season 7 weren't there in the first season--the rampant use of torture was essentially non-existent, the plot progressed in a logical fashion (at least for 24), and there were a relatively small number of completely unbelievable events.

In season 7, torture was a common theme; anytime someone (usually Jack Bauer) needed to follow up on a lead, he'd simply threaten to torture that person or that person's family in order to get information from them. Its repeated use made it tiring by the end of the season. In season 1, however, there is almost no use of torture, unless you want to include the treatment of Jamie by Nina and Tony (before we knew the truth about Jamie's death), which looks angelic when compared to season 7. No doubt there are people harmed and killed throughout the season, but because it's not the same tired idea, it's not a negative.

The thing that sets season 1 apart from season 7 the most is its logical plot progression. Obviously, you have to remember we're talking about 24, so that's a relative statement. In season 7, there were seemingly 3 or 4 times when the season should have just ended, only for it to be revealed that there was yet another conspiracy. In reality, it seemed like the writers had run out of ideas but knew they had to fill 24 episodes (which makes me all the more confused as to why they decided to make season 8 essentially an extension of season 7).

None of this happens in season 1. The plot is the same the whole time: there is a group of terrorists who want to kill presidential candidate David Palmer and Jack Bauer. It's possible that the season could have ended when Jack first rescued Kim and Teri, but the fact that Gaines was working for a larger group that had a plan B is believable enough. This may seem similar to what happens in season 7 repeatedly, but the keys are that a) there's no apparent reason why Gaines wants Palmer dead, so it stands to reason that he's simply getting paid to do so; b) the second plan is very similar to and has the exact same goals as the first; and c) it only happens once.

The relatively small number of completely unbelievable moments must again be considered in the scope of 24, as the whole series is unrealistic (I mean, Jack Bauer would have to be more than a god to still be alive). There were only a few things that really bothered me in season 1: how Jack didn't get in trouble for things that would have other people locked up for life (helps a murderer escape prison, almost kills Palmer twice, etc)--though that happens every season--, Teri's amnesia, and Jack's escape in one situation. The situation I'm referring to is when the police have set up a roadblock to catch him and he is subsequently pulled over. He speeds away as the cops get out of their car, and pulls into a parking lot to hide. The lot is then teeming with cops searching for him, but they apparently don't notice a hot-wired car start and then drive away. [Although I was very happy that the random woman who he captured and held hostage did not help him by picking up his car, because that would've have REALLY been over the edge, even for 24].

What really makes 24 great, though, is not the story, the excitement, or the action: its the acting. As integral as the other things are, it could not succeed without the fantastic acting that goes on. Watch Jack's reaction when Teri tells him that she's pregnant while he's on his way to sacrifice himself for Kim. It's unbelievable how he so realistically portrays what that situation must feel like. Even in season 7, watch when Larry Moss confronts Sean Hillinger after realizing he is a traitor and see how real his fury appears.

Speaking of the pregnancy, though, I was pretty confused. It seemed to me that Teri was pregnant with the rapist's baby, but she told Kim and Jack it was Jack's baby. So: was she lying to them so they wouldn't know (because that would be a little too big of a lie for my liking), or was she actually pregnant with Jack's child and only found out because she had to take the test after being raped?

A few more questions: what happened to Mandy, Rick, and the fake Martin Belkin? Did Mandy appear after Gaines told her they had a job for her in the summer and she agreed to do it, or am I forgetting another appearance? Did Rick get in trouble for the drug deal (I think as an audience we're actually intended to just forget about him)? Am I forgetting something, or did the fake Belkin disappear and we never heard what happened to him?

And a few last thoughts: Sherri, David Palmer's wife, totally sucks. She acts all high and mighty the entire season, despite the ever increasing evidence that all she cares about is being the First Lady. She says throughout the whole season that David is looking out only for his campaign and she's doing what's best for the family, when in fact it is the EXACT opposite; David is doing everything with total disregard to his campaign and attempting to do what's right and what's best for his family.

And I'd like to go through and try to see the whole season looking, knowing now that Nina is the spy. I wonder if you could justify everything she did, not in terms of right and wrong, but in terms of her goal of killing Palmer and Jack.

Lastly, come on Jack- I can't believe you fell for the cell-phone-as-a-bomb trick! I could see that coming from the instant the Drazens said Palmer had to answer the phone.


  1. I watched an episode of 24 in the first season and just did not get hooked, nice to see a new post thought... I know I don't have much to say but I figured you would like to know there is someone here reading...

  2. Season 1 was good, but I was bothered by the repeated plot usage. It's not implausible that they had a Plan B, but it just wasn't as interesting to see Kim get captured a 2nd and 3rd time. And speaking of Jack falling for the cell-phone-is-a-bomb trick, how about the Drazens falling for the coffee in the face escape?

    As for the pregnancy, even if Eli had gotten her pregnant, the test would not show a positive result that soon after, so her preganancy is certainly not a result of the rape.

  3. I was watching with Twin #2 and I fell asleep but I agree with repeated captures being boring. Honestly, it was reminiscent to me of the repeated captures and escapes in Prison Break which turned me off from that show completely.


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