I was hesitant to include this show after its sixth—and admittedly terrible—season. It’s easy to forget, though, how new and bracing the format that’s now routine once was. Created before Sept. 11 and debuted just weeks after, 24 captured the country’s edgy mood, and not just because it was about terrorism. With its breathless real-time format and multi-screens, 24 reflects the same information-overload media culture that gave us the zipper and screens-within-screens on cable news. The computers work a little too efficiently, the LA traffic is suspiciously light and Jack Bauer never has to take a leak, but Kiefer Sutherland gives Bauer psychological weight in the most outlandish situations, racing against a ticking clock that tolls for us.
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