When some people look at 24, they just think of it as a number that comes between 23 and 25. but for others it opens a world of conspiracy at the highest levels, terrorists threats, moles within the government, many deaths and in between it all, just one man standing to save us all….
Its hard to believe that before 2001, the name Jack Bauer was unheard of and that Kiefer Sutherland was most notably just famous for The Lost Boys and perhaps the cult favourite Flatliners and the Stephen King classic Stand By Me. The organisation CTU was never uttered among any TV Viewer and that David Palmer and not Obama was the first African American to sit in the White House chair.
When viewers sat down on November 6th 2001, they had no idea what they were facing. 24 hours of gruelling tension, a TV Show set in a real time format, where each episode presented 1 hour of the day in the life of CTU Agent Jack Bauer, and not just any normal day. Jack was all set to have the worst day of his life, and such was the huge success of it, he would go on and have 9 more with a two hour special fitted in between the days.
In this special feature, we look back and rank the days from worst to the best in which Jack was up against the odds, in which friends turned out to be bad guys and the gripping tension that helped create 24 into a worldwide TV Smash, cementing its reputation as one of the greatest TV Programmes ever put onto the small screen.
This feature will contain spoiler
THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 2001 AND 2014
EVENTS OCCUR IN REAL TIME
Its quite sad that the original final season of 24 was also the poorest. Now we have Live Another Day in our memory, it does rise up the levels of quality a bit, but before we had Jack’s quest in London, knowing back then that this was the last day Jack’s life and how it ended up like, was a poor way to treat the viewers who had stuck by the show from Day One.
The day started good, with Jack recovering from his near death in day 7 and it was kind of cool seeing him being with Kim’s daughter, and trying to step out of the nightmare he saw that was coming. But you could sense from the off that the show was now stale and just going over old plots. The new CTU just made you pine for the old gang. Head of the place Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) was no Bill and he kinda walked funny, Katee Sachoff which at the time seemed a brilliant casting, was nothing more than a Nina Myers clone, and had to suffer from one of the worst sub plots in the history of the show. The plot itself, an assassination attempt on President Omar Hassan, had been done but better with David Palmer, in fact for most of the running time, the show ran around in circles, boring the fans with endless repeats of familiar twists and turns.
But just as you lose hope, 24 Day 8 had some fleeting moments of sheer joy. The death of Hassan (Anil Kapoor) still shocks to the core, the return of Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) was a treat and the fact it was Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) who pulls Jack into this mess and changes his life forever, is a bitter twist to the tale.
The murder of Jack’s love Renee though pulls the show from the mire, especially with the return of President Logan (Gregory Itzin) and its the final hours of Jack finally giving in to the dark side and murdering everyone in sight, was something all 24 fans wanted to see, Jack snapping with rage after one day too many.
Logan going berserk as his plan failed, the shoot out with Jack all Robocop, the last few hours of day 8 were also one of the best, and a sad ending where after years of service, Jack was left all alone and a fugitive, with only a sobbing Chloe as his only friend looking on, at the time seemed a poor ending, but luckily it added weight to the two characters, with Live Another Day only 4 years away. Bad points though for no Tony or Aaron Pierce in the mix….
The problem with Day 6 is that it had to follow Day 5, an impossible task when you look back at things. The writers also gave themselves a massive problem, no matter how good that cliff-hanger was at the end Day 5, unless Jack was going to spend 24 hours in China, we needed him back home and the way it was explained, set up the mess which carried on throughout the whole day.
Which is a shame, because for the first few hours of this day, its up there as one of 24’s best. Jack fighting off the terrorist by bitting his neck and spitting out the flesh, is still deliciously dark and then murdering Curtis (Roger Cross), simply for not obeying orders, is a stunner, but with the first 5 hours of CTU running around trying to stop the nuclear bomb going off and then BANG!!!!!!!!! it does………….the show has nowhere to go.
Family issues come into focus with Jack discovering that his father and brother were behind President Palmer’s death and of this day’s events, but sadly not carrying the much added plot weight it should have. Even though the shock killing of his brother by the hands of his father Philip (James Cromwell) is a brilliant sick moment. It does not help either that Jack seems to be pushed aside, with more focus on the minor characters. Maybe it was a ploy to see if 24 would work without Sutherland as rumours were circling that he was set to leave the show for good, but whatever the reason, Day 6 suffered from a lack of Bauer action.
The nonsense of having Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) has President made every fan laugh, even more so with the lack of no Mike Novick (Jude Ciccolella) by his side, his replacement being Tom Lennox (Peter MacNicol) who unfortunately had to go through a scene of watching two people having sex.
The fleeting return of Logan along with his ex Martha (Jean Smart) who was now living with Aaron Piece (Glen Morshower) yayyyyyy!!!!!!! threatened to pull this day back on focus……and the day picked up even more when we found out Audrey (Kim Raver) was being held by the Chinese, which switched the plot to a much needed emotional ride.
The final shot of Jack leaving Audrey confined to her bed, probably never to recover (how little did we know) and staring out to sea was a dark sad climax, which summed up the entire 24 hours….dark and brooding…..and lacking a soul……….
For a season that is a massive fan favourite, I am only one of a few that never got into this day’s events. Too many returning characters and the attempt by the writers to fit them all in, left Day 3 for me into an up and down event that still to this day grates a little.
Also the cliff-hanger and the set up from Day 2 is rudely ignored all thanks to a PlayStation 2 game, which we had to play to find out the unanswered questions, No! No! No!
The only fleeting moment we get that everyone involved in the events of the previous had been caught, is when Wayne mentions it to President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), which left fans who were expecting the conspiracy to continue, scratching their heads in bemusement.
What we had instead was Jack’s drug problem and a virus all set to hit America. Some good moments were splattered across the hours, with the shock return of Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) and finally her comeuppance…..along with Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald) whose lies finally caught up with here. Fan favourite Chloe finally made her appearance, along with a now married Tony (Carlos Bernand) and Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth) and despite there being some pure 24 moments of joy, the show was more of saying goodbye to some of the cast that served the show so well.
The day also suffered from some dull episodes, with Jack spending far too much time in Mexico and some daft President plots involving his nurse.
Extra Kudos though for that mid season twist….for relegating Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) to a desk job…..( no cougars here) and for convincing fans that being shot in the neck and on the brink of dying, will be all ok…with a little bit of surgery and use of a plaster.
24: Live Another Day
Shock again for some, that the glorious return last year of 24 would be this low in the list. But I simply can not forgive the writers for serving up something so wonderful like this mini day and leaving it with a terrible ending, especially if we never going to see Jack Bauer ever again.
Set in London and 4 years on from the horrid Day 8. Jack is still on the run from his murderous rampage and gets caught by the local London pretend CTU. But we should know that our Jack does not get caught and its all a ruse to get inside the headquarters so he can beat up loads of extras and rescue the one and only Chloe from arrest, the woman having seen her husband and child killed, gone off the rails with a kind of a Girl With A Dragon Tattoo makeover.
He needs her help as he discovers a plot to kill President Heller (William Devane) on foreign soil.. with the return of Heller, the writers could bring back Audrey and it was a welcome treat to see Jack’s former lover back in the show and looking all nice and well. The usual twists and turns engulfed the show and the four year break made the premise feel fresh again.
Jack looked more harder and colder than ever before, the bad girl was a glorious insane mother Margot (Michelle Fairley) and some of the action set-pieces were a joy. The day also included Jack’s best ever kill and also contained a great twist which made you remember why you loved the show in the first place.
The trouble was, by the time we got towards the final hours, the writers began to fall back on old traits……..the bad guy behind the bad guy vice, the death of a much loved character, some silly OTT moments (that Wembley attack?) and the failure to bring closure to the show left some fans screaming at their TV. Day 9 will only be considered a brilliant season if its followed by a Day 10…and with that not happening any time soon, all it does is add to the frustration in the life of Jack Bauer.
24 DAY 7
After the critical mauling of Day 6, it was back to basics for Jack Bauer in a day that contained more thrills and spills than we expected. To get the fans back on their side, the writers decided to pull out one their major twist and that was bring back Tony Almedia from the dead and have him as the day’s bad guy. The lack of a silent clock on his death in Day 5 was the biggest clue that Tony was actually alive and well.
Seeing Jack and Tony back together was one of the biggest thrills of this day, and the many hours had so much twists that it was hard to keep up at times. With no CTU for the first time in the show and with Bill (James Morrison) along with Chloe, working by themselves to bring the bad guys down, Day 7 had an urgency about it and thanks to the character of Renee Walker, the show finally was back on its feet.
Also with President Taylor, we finally had someone that matched our much missed Palmer, and Cherry Jones was a joy in the role, clearly relishing being the first woman in the White House. The storyline also saw a top notch bad guy, in the shape of Hollywood Star Jon Voight who as the character Jonas Hodges, the show had a formidable foe…fans could really hate.
Once again though, the struggle to keep up with pace for over 24 episodes showed up later on. Despite a brilliant White House attack which came before the likes of Olympus Has Fallen, the show stalled towards its final breath, with another bad guy added to the mix and with Tony becoming more hatred by each passing hour.
In some way’s I do wish 24 ended here, Jack saving the day and on his death bed with his daughter Kim by his side……it was the perhaps the last good ending we had, with our hero in peace and with the only woman on this earth that he truly loved by his side….
24: DAY 4
One of the reasons why I love Day 4 is the opening episodes and the mini prequel that was set before it, in which we hear Jack say “fuck” for the one and only time. A small tiny silly thing for this fan, but this is the day Jack and the team around him grew up. There was a confident tone from the very beginning and it helps matters looking back that the only reason Day 4 exists is because it serves as a prequel to Day 5.
All the building blocks are in place, Jack’s relationship with Audrey who we see for the first time, along with her father Heller. the eventual appearance of President Logan and his hatred for President Palmer. We also get to see Mike Novick for the first time since his sacking in Day 2, a character much loved by fans.
The confidence from the writers is there right from when the train blows and back at CTU where we see a new boss Erin Driscoll (Alberta Watson) getting ready for a meeting with Jack, who she fired over a year ago from CTU. The opening hour is just a tease for something bigger, Jack arrives at his old place and gets wind from Chloe that attack is due to happen at 8am. Taken matters into his own hands, Jack fights a CTU Guard, locks Driscoll in a room and shoots a suspect in the leg…..just to get the information, its a wonderful last 5 minutes of the opening episode, especially as we find out its Heller and Audrey who are the targets.
Having lost his wife Terri, there was no way Jack was willing to lose Audrey and the opening half is Jack doing things his own way and its a blast to see, with his sole mission on a rescue attempt being one of 24’s best moments.
The day eventually does settle down into familiar surroundings with again a terrorist threat, but with it being still fresh, the show manages to have some surprise moments. The return of Tony and Michelle was a welcome treat….along with bad girl Mandy (Mia Kirshner) and also we had the the plot of how the job of Bauer’s can impact on his life. The love we saw from him and Audrey at the beginning, slowly fading into hate as the day goes on.
We also had the moment where Jack’s life would forever change, resulting in his “death” and then an image of him walking into the sunrise, a sort of calm before the storm. Day 4 changed 24 forever and for that, it should be cherished….
The often forgotten mini movie was squeezed in after the events of Day 6 and before the events of Day 7. Its a shame that this is being lost because its one of the best episodes in 24 history and is so different to what we have seen from Jack and his nightmare days.. Here we have Jack in Africa, and instead of terrorists and the usual banging over the top scenes we as fans were used too, here we have the simple plot of Jack trying to save a bunch of children from rebel soldiers.
The less is more structure works a treat and its a shame the writers never done more of these mini movies. With stellar support from the likes of Robert Carlyle, Redemption may be nothing more than a prequel to Day 7, with the plot switching to a newly elected President Taylor in America, but its the events in Africa that should be marvelled and the scene where Jack is up against his own against the bad guys, is one of the best 24 has offered.
Its weird, but usually the best is the one that started it all, but for 24, the original finds itself 3rd on the list. Why? Well the first 12rs are nothing like you had ever seen before on TV. A real time action thriller that had fans gripped to their seats. Despite setting the blueprint for everything we loved about the show and also introducing Jack Bauer to the world, 24 Day One is different to all the other days in Jack’s life. Yes he may have saved the world more times now than John McClane and he has been through even worse situations since, but when it was his own family in danger and he went against his own people to save them, this was the time 24 felt new and fresh, with the added bonus of an emotional pull.
The trouble with Day One, is that it was originally only written for a 12 episode run and because most of the story lines were finished, the success of the show meant a haste in writing so we had the stupid “There is another shooter” line, the baffling memory loss concept and despite the introduction of the memorable Drazen family (well done Dennis Hopper) and a killer final twist, the final hours were just filler and at least the writers learnt from this for the later days coming……
Here is where 24 came a much talked about show on the TV. Day 2 is a mother of a tension ride. All the characters we grew to know from Day One, we started to love and the next 24 hours were edgy, with killer twists and cool deaths. How do you improve on the kidnapping of a family? Well simple….introduce a Nuclear Bomb in America which is all set to blow and its up to our hero Jack Bauer and the new President Palmer to team up and save the day.
Add a wedding to the mix in which we do not know why it serves the purpose of the storyline (a brilliant twist answers our questions)and also the return of Nina the traitor and with the much missed George Mason (Xander Berkeley) heading CTU and then having a glorified heroic death, day 2 is only marred by the constant nuisance of Kim Bauer, who despite a great opening hours of a meaty storyline is then dragged through silly pieces like being threatened by a Cougar and then being taken hostage in a shop.
But for all of Kim’s silly antics, the arrival of Sherry, the bomb actually going off and then the “death” of Jack himself….24 Day 2 is really addictive and reminds you that when the plot is as good as the premise, then what you have is TV Gold……
And here we come to the day to beat them all. The moment 24 reached its highest peak and never really recovered. No other day could beat what this offered and if anyone needs to watch one season of 24, then its this one. The stepping stones served up in Day 4 pays off here and we get an explosive start with the death of the much loved President Palmer and Michelle along with a badly injured Tony. Chloe is the next in danger and realising that all the ones that are dying are those who only know Jack is alive, phones our hero…who chucks on his sunglasses, rolls up his sleeves and heads off back to LA.
With Peter Weller heading the bad guy cast as Christopher Henderson along with Julian Sands in the role of Vladimir Bierko, Day 5 rocketed from one chaos to another and contained one of the saddest scenes when Nerve Gas was let off in CTU and saw the death of Edgar (Louis Lombardi) and Lynn (Sean Astin). With Itzin in the President chair as Logan, this was a day no one ever would forget. Even the return of Kim (not seen since Day 3) was a welcome bonus and CTU was never better with Audrey, Bill and Chloe heading up the ranks.
But this day is most remembered for that twist…….a moment that all fans gasped in America. It was a moment of sheer pure shock and they could make more of these and they will never ever get that jaw dropping feeling again.
24 Day 5 is sooooooooooooo good, it demands repeat viewing and even though that cliff-hanger handed a massive problem that Day 6 failed to grasp, here its a perfect end to a day that may have been a nightmare for our Jack, but perfect for us……