Friday, March 26, 2004

24 (the TV series saga)

by Reymundo Salao
Oftentimes Disturbing

My mother falls asleep every time we watch an action movie. No matter how magnificent an explosive action sequence goes, no matter how spectacular the visual effects, not even some of the most-attention grabbing dramatic performances of actors and actresses can get her to have that longevity of attention throughout the entire duration of the movie/storyline. The rarity of movies/TV shows that can get her interested is close to none. That changed when she saw “24”.

When I first read about 24 in an article in a foreign magazine, I was intrigued by its unique approach of storytelling. This is a TV series which happens in real-time, which means that all the events in the storyline happens within 24 hours, divided into 24 episodes, an hour-long each. There is no shifting from one timeline jumping to another, If the setting of the story is set beginning from 12 midnight, the first episode ends at 1 am. There is no flashback, neither does it have shortcuts of time. (It kind of reminds me of Tom Clancy’s OP-CENTER pocketbook series where the duration of the storyline occurs and wraps up within 24 hours) If you watch all the episodes of 24 in its entirety, it would virtually take you the whole day to finish it. All 24 hours of it.

24 is an action-espionage drama about Jack Bauer, an agent of America's CTU/Counter Terrorist Unit, which is an intelligence agency that deals with Counter-terrorism that has gathered information that there is an assassination attempt on an African American Presidential candidate, Sen. David Palmer. The intensity of the story rises as Jack realizes that his daughter Kimberly is kidnapped, and that some agents of CTU had been killed as there is evidence that there is a mole (insider) in the CTU working against them. On the other hand, David Palmer finds out that a reporter is about to come out with an expose that his son is involved in a murder incident that has been covered up. As the clock ticks each and every complication, suspicion, betrayal, danger, and death strikes our characters.

When it first aired on the AXN channel, I immediately stuck myself following the series. But eventually, one could inevitably miss some episodes once in a while, no matter how good a TV series is, you cannot easily get the schedule of your TV shows in sync with your personal time. It was only a matter of short time when my close buddy Eugene discovered that there already was a 24 Season 1 (all the 24 episodes of the entire season, on six discs) DVD available (in Arlegui, Metro Manila. On the places Bong Revilla wants to close down). When he was done with it, I immediately borrowed his 24 collection, since it was the perfect time for me to be broke and to just stay home with my coffee, my 2 peso mamons, and my DVD player.

The saga of 24 can grab the attention of anybody. It has an immense degree of suspense that transmits the fears and the desperation of characters unto those who watches it. You cringe as characters are killed, you scream off your seat as some characters suddenly become traitors, or as the problems heighten. There is also the “who-done-it” atmosphere which makes you doubt most of the characters. There are characters that turn out to be villains, there are also characters which you trust and sympathize, but you are swept off with the twist of events that make them villains. There is also the interesting duality of issue that is divided between Jack’s running after the bad guys while trying to look for his family’s captors, and there is David Palmer’s problem as to trying to choose between saving his son, or saving his votes, and there is the problem of trust that poses as a breather-drama from the action and suspense brought about by Jack’s other half of the storyline. There is a great balance between action, suspense, and drama. And it is undeniable that there is no dull moment in 24. each and every tick of the clock is worth watching.

It may sound freaky to watch all the episodes in a straight span of 24 hours. For our part, we began to watch the series 3pm of Sunday till 2 in the morning, Monday night 7pm to 1 am, Tuesday night 7pm to 1 am, and Wednesday 8 pm to 12 midnight. Yes, we were that mad over 24 during that week. And yes, it is THAT good. It did not win the many awards it garnered for nothing.

SEASON 2 (may contain spoilers of Season 1 and Season 2, you can skip to the last paragraph)

We have recently concluded watching our marathon of Season 2. And yes, we spent almost an entire day watching the first hours of it, since we began watching on a Saturday. On the second season (which is about to start on AXN, and is in its final episodes in ABS-CBN) Sen. Palmer is now President David Palmer, the president of the US, who has found out that a terrorist group known as Second Wave is about to detonate a nuclear bomb in California, precisely on that day. In relevance to the current situation, he must enlist the aid of his trusted counterterrorist agent, Jack Bauer, who has resigned from CTU, and still devastated over the death of his wife, Terri, and is left in agony by his daughter Kim. It took a lot of convincing, but eventually Jack has gotten back into running after the terrorists. If you thought Season 2 would slack off, you’re dead wrong, because in this season the suspense is heightened and the complications are more than twice as shocking. We get to see the traitor Nina Meyers once again as she is tied with the terrorists. Her presence adds to the aura of fear and villain-hate. You can smell the hate that if you were in Jack’s shoes, you’d just want to torture her to death for what she did to his wife Terri.

The main storyline of Season 2 has a mirror image to what has happened during the days before the US has declared war against Iraq, although the writers claim it was unintentional. While in the storyline, President Palmer tries to hold his own government back from declaring war against the Arab countries suspected of funding Second Wave, America has, in reality, already declared war on Iraq. While this much is true, it kind of hints that what Bush has done was the evil act as what a comparison of the two may suggest.

As a conclusion to a feature that I still feel like discussing further on, all I can conclude is that so far, 24 is THE BEST television series that has ever been made. I could always set aside X-files, Friends, Mission: Impossible (the 1990s television series), Adultswim, or Buffy and Angel. But 24 is at the top. The second season is about to air on AXN. The final episodes of Season 2 is shown tagalog-dubbed at ABS-CBN on sunday evenings, and the third season is currently being shown in the United States. The first season is now available in DVD & VCDs (not only in pirate stalls but also) in video shops and video rental clubs.

(If you have your own reviews & articles on 24, please email me at