October 31, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 35  

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What happened to the action?

On the DL
David Lee

Sports Editor

Gazette file photo
ONE HELL OF A HECTIC DAY. The cast of 24 poses for an action-free pic.

Over the past two seasons, 24 has become known as one of the most innovative shows on television. In the process, it has spawned a dedicated legion of fans that clear their Tuesday night schedule to avoid missing an episode. It has also created a true fan-boy out of me - I now have a non-sexual crush on Kiefer Sutherland. Watching Phone Booth or Ford F-150 commercials now has an eerily calming effect on me.

Despite the thrill-a-minute writing and constant cliffhangers, the biggest innovation from 24 is its use of a pseudo real-time clock. Each episode represents one hour of one day played out during the 24-episode season (minus commercials, of course).

Admittedly, my crush on Kiefer & Co. waned briefly this week. After being a die-hard fan for the first two seasons, I had a hard time swallowing last Tuesday's season three premiere. The plot jumps well ahead from where season two left off and the episode seemed to be devoid of any real action. Sure, the evil guy stabbed his lawyer in the throat and Kim and a coworker immaturely hacked each other's computers. But where was the gunplay that has become such a hallmark of 24?

Season two was wildly different from season one and the biggest difference was the action factor. If you actually counted how many people were killed at Bauer's hands in season two, you could easily eclipse 50. Think of the large-scale gunfights: the tense alley shootout and the climactic ending where Bauer snipes away at the bad guys.

It's not that I need a body to hit the floor in order to be entertained. I suppose initially my high level of enthusiasm for the season three premiere was in part caused by the high level of action in season two. Last year's premiere ended with Bauer shooting a man at point-blank range then decapitating him with a hacksaw. Season three's premiere ended with Jack tossing away a hypodermic needle full of drugs. Interesting, yes. But only to people who have watched the characters grow over the last two years.

Of course, there's still plenty of time for 24 to win me back. We're only one episode in and we've learned a Mexican drug lord's brother plans to release a deadly virus in Los Angeles and that CTU will try to stop them. It'll be interesting to see the situations Bauer and his vixen daughter will find themselves in.

If the first two seasons have taught me anything, it's that no matter how clear a path 24 seems to put you on, you never really know what's coming in the next episode. That's why I'll tune in next Tuesday, even after a let-down premiere.



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