CS-Cart.com Such a simple idea--yet so fiendishly complex in the execution. 24, as surely everyone knows by now, is a thriller that takes places over 24 hours, midnight to midnight, in 24 one-hour episodes (well, 45-minute episodes if you subtract the commercials). Everything takes place in real time, which means no flashbacks, no flash-forwards, no handy time-dissolves. Every strand of the plot has to be dovetailed and interlocked so things happen just when they should, in the right amount of time. Not that easy. Creator Robert Cochran and his team of writers and directors have done an impressive job of putting the jigsaw together and keeping the tension ratcheted up high, as federal agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) runs around L.A. trying to stall an assassination attempt on an African American presidential candidate and rescue his wife and daughter from the clutches of the Balkan bad guys.
In the second season, Jack is no longer on the government payroll; unfortunately for him, this small fact doesn't seem to matter to the president and the NSA, who call him back in to the CTU and give him 24 hours to infiltrate a terrorist organization that is planning to detonate a dirty bomb in the city of angels. Fans of the original won't be disappointed, as there are more than enough shock moments in the first few hours to hint at the climactic build-up to come, while newcomers can quickly get involved in the lives of Jack and his family.
In the third season--three years after the events of "Day Two"--a vengeful terrorist threatens to release a lethal virus that could wipe out much of the country's population. Jack attempts to broker a deal for the virus involving a drug kingpin, setting the 24-hour clock ticking in a tight, action-packed plot involving a potential traitor in CTU's midst. The intricately woven subplots that are 24's greatest strength are masterfully developed here, and character arcs are equally strong. It's 24's superior casting that overcomes the series' occasional lapses in credibility, and season 3's twists make marathon viewing a nerve-wracking delight. As always, Sutherland anchors the series in the role he was born to play.