Five years and a hundred episodes later, FOX's pulse-pounding hit "24" began its fifth season with a four-hour premiere Sunday, Jan. 15. "24" is an hour-long show where events happen in real-time.
An entire season takes place during a single day, and it takes a full 24 hours to watch.
The show continues its tradition of keeping multiple plots running simultaneously with split-screen action and multiple main characters, giving the show even more of a realistic feel.
For those outside of the loop, Kiefer Sutherland plays renegade bad boy Jack Bauer, the federal government's secret weapon in the war against terror. Despite several cast changes throughout the years, Sutherland has been in every episode. The four-time Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner is also the co-executive producer of the show.
Since the show's creation in 2001, Bauer has protected America against nuclear and biological terrorism, but not without a price. Once the former head of a Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) in Los Angeles, a job where mistakes costs lives, Jack has gone from leading the entire unit to being an outlaw and even a drug addict. Previous seasons have tested the audience's fortitude as well as Jack's, pushing how far he is willing to go to get the job done, even if it means causing a prison riot, playing Russian roulette with a security officer or going undercover as part of a Mexican crime family.
Like many shows, "24" is susceptible to its fair share of corny plots and cheap tricks to drag in viewers. Perhaps one of the most notorious plot ploys was when Jack's daughter, Kim (played by Elisha Cuthbert), found herself lost in the woods being chased by a puma.
The amount of spies inside the federal government is also alarming to the point of absurdity. With so many holes in the government's security programs, it is a surprise that any terrorists are caught at all. But like any television show, these small bloopers require some suspension of disbelief. And, for the most part, the action rarely ceases, causing fans to crave that one hour every Monday night at 9:00. With only one-sixth of the show complete, this is the first time a storyline has continued into a new season.
"24," however, is a show that demands persistence and dedication to enjoy, unlike a weekly sitcom with a new plot every episode.
Because of this, those who are new or unfamiliar with "24" may feel intimidated by the intense storyline. Each hour begins with a recap of the previous episode and the entire series is supplemented by its comprehensive Web site. With its intense gunfights and violent images of terrorism and torture, the show is not for the faint of heart.
"24"'s wild popularity has even drawn performers from the silver screen to take small cameos throughout the series' history. Actors like Lou Diamond Phillips, Dennis Hopper and William Devane have all spent time working on "24." New to the show this season is Sean Astin, who was made famous by playing Sam Gamgee in all three installments of Peter Jackson's epic The Lord of the Rings.
For those dedicated fans that take the time to notice the cast, there are plenty of treats hidden in the show as well. In season four, a cellphone was shown on screen with a valid California phone number that, if dialed, would reach the phone dedicated to the set. Known on several Internet sites as the "fan phone," some viewers claim to have spoken with producers, directors and even the actors themselves.
The first 20 minutes of this season proved that viewers can expect another high-tension thrill ride. For those interested in watching "24," it should be known that there are no reruns during the season, and any hopes that a missed episode will allow fans to catch up are in vain.
However, Fox runs episodes of previous seasons on the weekends, although not in order and one episode at a time can never be enough. Check the "24" Web site and local listings for times. If explosions, espionage, edge-of-your-seat shootouts and fast-paced action is your cup of tea, be sure to check out "24" this Monday night.