It was raining this past Sunday, so Rickey decided to listen to Mother Nature's demand to cry uncle and sit down with Ms. Henderson and re-watch the first season of 24 on DVD. Now Rickey hadn’t re-watched this in over three years and Ms. Henderson had never seen it, so it was an entertaining time to say the least. Now bear in mind that we only got five hours into the show before exhaustion took over, but five hours is nonetheless enough to clear the cobwebs away and remind you what was so damn great about 24 in the beginning.
Compared with later seasons (Rickey’s looking at you seasons 5 and 6) season 1 is a taught, well crafted affair. Watching it, you quickly notice that every strand of the plot has been dovetailed and interlocked so things happen just when they should, within the right amount of time. Forget silly suitcase nuke mcguffins, this is just about a man running around L.A. trying to prevent an assassination while simultaneously trying get his wife and daughter back. And oh yeah, lest we forget, he gets progressively angrier/crazier each hour. By the end of the season he’s on the verge of running around L.A. while hoisting a flatulent elephant above his head.
One thing that really stands out was how much of a prick Tony is in season one. He distrusts Jack, rats out his fellow employees, and is generally a major league schmuck. Granted, the Cubs mug is there, but this isn’t the Tony Almeida we know from seasons 3 – 5. Ms Henderson asked Rickey about this and the best answer he could muster is that much like a fine wine, Tony kind of grows on you. By the time he hits his stride in season 3, emerging from the hospital to save the day, the audience is rising from the couch to cheer him on. 24 does this with its characters. Remember how much of a doofus Bill Buchanan was at first? Now he’s a mensch—the kind of guy you’d like to have as a boss.
You’ll also marvel at how sparsely torture is used over the course of the first season. The closest they get to torture is Jack’s towel shtick, and that’s merely hinted at, but never actually delivered, thus making the scene somehow more spellbinding. Rickey’s definitely going to continue watching and is even looking forward to the appearance of Lou Diamond Philips (a subject he’s previously blogged about) as well as Dennis Hopper and his horrifically bad Serbian accent.
Seriously, go back and give season one a viewing sometime. Hell, go nuts and watch all the seasons if that’s what floats your boat. You’ll really marvel at how well adjusted and good mannered Jack is in the pilot. This isn’t the superhuman character who his country owes a “debt that can never be repaid,” that we’ve grown accustomed to. No sir, this is just a government employee trying to do his job and maintain his family life. And season one is the first time he’s ever tested, so it all feels fresh. If the next season of 24 has any shot at gaining it’s fanbase back, it needs to revisit a few of these themes.