Binge Watchin' TV Review: 24
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Number of Seasons: 9 (204 episodes) and 1 TV movie
What’s the show about?
An action thriller centered around the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and their top agent, Jack Bauer. Each season is told in real time with every episode comprising sixty minutes of a particular day in which Bauer must do whatever it takes to stop a threat to the United States. Ranging from nuclear catastrophe, Presidential assassinations, bioweapon deployment, and even all out war, 24 has taken Bauer from his home in Los Angeles to locations such as New York, Washington, D.C., London, Africa, and China. Whether employed by CTU or not, Bauer has partnered with computer genius Chloe O'Brien to both protect and take down terrorists, corrupt politicians, and save the world even at the price of his own freedom.
Why should I watch it?
24 debuted on FOX just two months after the September 11th terrorist attacks which may have helped boost this action drama with viewers. While the series often featured foreign villains, it never shied away from making the threat internal to our government or private corporations. 24 became the longest running espionage series on television by the end of it's run which came in no short part thanks to the iconic turn by Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer. Bauer has entered the pop culture mainsteam thanks to his heroics, quick thinking, and penchant for killing anyone who gets in his way. Sutherland somehow made the phrase "damn it" sound way cooler than when anyone else says it.
It was also the use of the real time format that set 24 apart from any other series on television. Each hour, including commercials, took place in a one day time frame. Each season was separated by months or years from the prior days which gave the showrunners the ability to make it seem a bit more plausible that Jack Bauer could endure so many shitty days. While the showrunners have chosen to have the series take place in a "perpetual now" (meaning it is always the current year), the show technically spans 19 years in the life of Jack Bauer. Over those years, the series has showcased Jack decapitating a prisoner to pose undercover, become a drug addict, die a couple of times, a nuclear bomb being detonated in Los Angeles, and being kidnapped by the Chinese as a prisoner of war. You know, all in a day's work for the ultimate CTU agent.
24 has always had a cinematic quality rarely seen on any other network television series, even rivaling some cable shows. Part BOURNE IDENTITY and part DIE HARD, 24 has managed to tell multiple storylines simultaneously and keep viewers on the edge of our seats even if we question why Jack never finds time to eat a meal or use the restroom over ten different days. 24 requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief to accept some of the events on the show, but you there are few series that are as ideal for binge watching as this show. The real time doesn't work as well if you didn't watch it live on TV, but plowing through two dozen action-packed adventures is time well spent.
While I truly loved the character of President David Palmer, it is the villainous Charles Logan who made the best bad guy on this show. The fifth season opens with the deaths of multiple characters close to Jack Bauer, forcing him to return to CTU after faking his own death in the fourth season. Featuring great bad guy turns by Julian Sands and Peter Weller, we also are introduced to Bauer's brother Graem who would go on to play an important role in Season 6. As evil as Charles Logan is, we also get his awesome wife Martha played by the great Jean Smart. Overall, this is the best and most shocking season of the entire series.
24 has become a big part of pop culture and Jack Bauer has even generated his own internet meme similar to Chuck Norris. The recent event series Live Another Day showed that Kiefer Sutherland is not too old to kick ass and save the world, but it looks like FOX is aiming to reboot 24 with a new, younger cast. I will reserve judgement until I see how that show looks, but I find it hard to believe that anyone can embody a character like Jack Bauer aside from Sutherland. The highly serialized nature of the show means that facts from early seasons come back in later ones, but you can pick up any of the nine runs of the show and find yourself in for a roller coaster of action-packed entertainment.