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STUMPY Says Fox's 24 Is Fall's Best New Drama!!

I am – Hercules!!

The good news is our stealthy pilot spy “Stumpy” calls the bizarre new Fox series “24” the best of this fall’s new hourlong dramas.

The bad news is the series debuts in a brutal timeslot, opposite UPN’s “Roswell,” the WB’s “Smallville,” ABC’s new Jason Alexander sitcom “Bob Patterson,” NBC’s “Frasier” and CBS’s new legal drama “The Guardian.” Here’s the Stumpster:

24 - Fox Studios

Exec Produced by Joel Surnow, Bob Cochran, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Tony Krantz

Stars Kiefer Sutherland, Leslie Hope, Elisha Cuthbert, Sarah Lively, Mia Kirshner, Jacqui Maxwell and Dennis Haysbert

24 was probably the 1-hour drama that received the best reception amongst the crowd in LA. It has a great concept - a 24 episode series about a single day in the lives of an anti-terrorist unit head, his team, his family and a presidential candidate where each episode is one hour of that day and plays out in real time. The pilot that I viewed was basically set between 12.00 midnight to 1.00 am -the first hour of that day.

The story follows a black presidential candidate in the run-up to the California primaries who is under threat of assasination. Kiefer Sutherland is the team leader who has to prevent the assasination and who is told by his top boss that elements in his own agency may be involved (standard conspiracy-don't trust anybody stuff). This leads to a particularly wild scene between Kiefer and one of his superiors halfway through the show.

In the meantime, his marriage is on the rocks and his daughter goes off partying with some kids in a furniture shop. By the end of the episode she's in trouble with the two guys she's partying with (who turn from college kids into sinister figures with -implied- date rape and murder on their minds). His wife goes off in search of her and hooks up with a guy who is the father of the daughter's friend (or so he claims).

While all this goes on, the assassin is on the way from Europe in a plane. Just to show what an evil person the assassin is, there's the seduction of a fellow passenger and some mile-high nookie in the airplane toilets. Of course this doesn't compare with the evil that follows when said assassin decides the plane is too slow and leaves early (pre-landing). Some decent action and diversionary tactics in the episode's final act. We're left hanging on some really good plot hooks to follow - who hired the assassin ? who can Kiefer trust in the agency ? how much trouble is the daughter in ? what dark secret does the presidential candidate have that the media is about to blow open ? is that really the friend's father the mom has hooked up with and will he try to get it on with her ?

Kiefer is pretty good and although he is a strong lead, this is really an ensemble piece as the story cuts between all the on-going storylines. There's some limited use of the "Timecode" effect where the screen is split into four so you can see what's happening in real time with four different stories. It is however much less confusing than the film and you always know what's happening and where. The story seems strong enough to keep the series going through the season - however there are some questions to be raised. If each episode is one hour in a day, are we expected to believe that nobody in the series has to sleep during that particular day ? The storylines also seem to be a bit forced in that everything has to be compressed and 'rushed' to fit into the 24 hour time frame of the series.

Overall however, it is certainly one of the best show pilots for Fall in my opinion. The level of pacing, action, drama and acting in the pilot was a notch over everything else on offer. Further, there is a nice claustrophobic effect in the team HQ which is used to decent effect to convey a feeling of time running out. I just hope the storylines play out nicely over the season and there's no badly managed attempts to force the diverse plots to come together in some fool's idea of an 'epic-conspiracy story'. Based on the quality of the pilot however, I'm confident the season will be handled well and will prove to be one of the success stories of the year. My only concern is whether there will be enough stamina in the viewing audience for what is in effect a 24-part mini-series. What the hell, give me a decent hour of planes exploding, people shooting each other and general mayhem rather than yet another hour of crappy touchy-feely 'family' drama and issues.


Readers Talkback
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  • June 30, 2001, 5:10 p.m. CST

    Dennis Haysbert? I'm there!

    by PyleanJoss

    If he's the black presidential candidate, this is gonna be an awesome show, even if Kiefer doesn't do a bang-up job as the lead. "Now and Again" was awesome principally because of Haysbert and Margaret Colin. If he can do as good a job here, I'm sold. (Plus, the whole plot sounds interesting.)

  • June 30, 2001, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Sounds good, too bad it won't last

    by Guderian

    This certainly sounds like a great idea, unfortunately it also sounds like a show that will require the audience to pay attention to virtually every episode. So, like other non-episodic shows of recent years...EZ Streets and Bochco's Murder One (with its similarly themed 12 episodes per case scenario) come to probably doesn't matter how good it is. People will miss a few episodes and grow confused, and the numbers will begin to dwindle. I'm just hoping that it gets at least a full season before the axe falls.

  • July 1, 2001, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Won't make it to 6 AM

    by waynehead

    It sounds good, but in that time slot, in this format...never. At least they're trying, though.

  • July 1, 2001, 8:54 p.m. CST

    Too Good

    by ArchDiver

    It won't make it because it is too good, too new and too refreshing. The standard viewing public won't be able to follow it or appreciate it. Look at Dennis' previous work on Now and Again. That show was fantastic, yet they didn't have the sack to keep it running. There are innumerable shows that are just too advanced for the average audience, which is why we get stuck with Everybody Loves Raymond. 24 would stand a better chance on a cable channel like Showtime or HBO, where it would have the time to generate a fan base and critical acclaim. I pray it just makes it through the entire season. Watching half of this interesting show unfold and not seeing the end would be agony!

  • July 3, 2001, 7:22 p.m. CST


    by MaxCalifornia.

    Shoot this show's got an uphill battle. The tv ad got me intrigued, and now I've read this, I'll definitely be tuning in for the Premiere. I agree it might be too offbeat and different for the Everybody loves Will and Dharma and their Friends types...sounds more like a Showtime series. Guess we'll see eh.

  • July 4, 2001, 10:48 a.m. CST

    canadian babes a'plenty

    by arkhan77

    mia kirshnerr and elisha cuthbert in the same show; wow. these are two of the most beutiful women i've ever seen, as well as two extremely talented actresses. let's hope 24 is as good as these girls deserve.