Tips For 24 Newbies

A remarkable number of people have told me that they are watching 24 this year for the first time.  If you are now four hours into your 24 experience, let me give you a couple of tips.

  • Everything is not as it seems.  Now – this might be obvious, but it’s more dramatic with 24.  Unlike some other shows where you get Lost in the story, 24 twists and turns in ways unimaginable later in the season, partly because the writers are only ten shows or so ahead at the beginning of the season.  By Hour 20, they are practically writing in real time, getting themselves trapped in corners, and magically escaping.  So – don’t assume that the next 20 hours will be on the linear course.
  • Good people die – regularly.  If you just saw 9am to 10am, you learned that.  It’ll happen again – probably a couple of times.  It always sucks – sometimes it gratuitous, sometimes it’s not.  But – it always surprises you.
  • Wherever Jack goes, carnage follows.  Ok – you probably know this already.  Jack has three modes: (1) introspective Jack, (2) screwed up personal life Jack, and (3) mission Jack.  So far on Day 6 we’ve seen 1 and 3 – look forward to some of 2.  Oh – and the carnage is not just physical – it’s often emotional (especially in Jack mode 2.)
  • You can get anywhere in LA in 20 minutes.  Don’t struggle with this – after five years of this, we’ve learned to suspend our disbelief.
  • Chloe is right.  Don’t ever question that girl.  Believe it or not, she can shoot a gun.
  • CTU hasn’t figured out how to turn cell phones to vibrate.  Those damn things ring at such inopportune times.

One big hint that I learned when I spent the day on the 24 set last year was that the show is set “sometime in the future.”  When I watch 24, I think “today + 8 years” to believe all the technical stuff.  When I was on the set, I noticed all the screens showed that they were running OS 34, which was a good giveaway.  If you are a nerd and you have the desire, grab some screen shots of the monitors and zoom in – there’s often interesting stuff there.

I’ve been watching 24 since Day 1 – Hour 1.  I don’t know why I watched the first show.  I’m a pacifist and not much of a TV watcher, but I vaguely remember being intrigued with the idea of a real time show.  I was hooked from the beginning.  With the hype around Day 6 I speculated that the show had peaked.  However, after just sitting through 8am – 10am on the airplane to New York, the claws of 24 are once again in my brain. 

One last tip – if you are questioning why you are watching it, give it a few more weeks.  Historically, 24 gets really good around Hour 15.  Only 166 hours until next week’s show.

  • Good tips, Brad:-)
    Our friends, Julia and Igor, pulled us to the 24-watcher cohort and we started it yesterday. Funny enough but whenever we dropped a remark about a pesonage in the movie they advised us to see first all the previous eposiodes and then to comment.

    We’ve become fiends and counting the 166 days too:-) I’ve got another TV distraction from my studying besides the playoffs.

  • Hah! Nice job Brad. I just sent this to a bunch of my 24 watching friends. My favorite is “Chloe is right.” So true.

  • Brad,

    You are right that 24 gets good around hour 15. That was the case in season 3 and 4 which were kind of slow.

    People should know that the don’t need to watch all five seasons. If they want some continuity, they could rent last season but it is not necessary.

    After watching these first 4 hours they got the message. Shock and awe. I can’t believe anyone would watch the Golden Globes.

    I have found that watching the show and following the liveblogging at with the comments section makes it whole lot of fun.

    I think this year is going to blow the previous 5 away.

    – Steve

  • You are right on all counts, especial about Chloe. 24 gives me my action as well as my love for all things to change on a dime. This season hasn’t been as eventful, in terms of time, as the first 20 mintes of last season. I mean 3 people died in that first 20 minutes and it was oh so good.

  • That’s really scary Brad. I love the show too, but… that’s scary. 😉

  • I’m a 24 newbie. Is there any reason to watch the old ones now to catch up, or should I just watch them over the summer?

    It’s kind of fun. The LA traffic thing is pretty funny. I like how it took longer for two cobras to fly to an address in LA than it took Jack to steal a car and drive.

    There’s a reason that organizations compartmentalize (both intel and terrorist), way too many people know way too much (especially on the terrorist side).

    They need to study up on the size/weight of “suitcase” bombs, and the blast effects of a 1 Kt weapon (not near a half mile blast radius).

  • 24 only starts here in Ireland and the UK this month…. come on, come on, come on….

  • Jarid

    You forgot the #1 tip…
    Make sure you Tivo the show, and then start watching about 15 minutes into it. This way, you don’t have to wait for commercials and can skip right to the next beep, beep, beeeeeep. 🙂

  • Jack is always 5 minutes away While it’s possible to drive anywhere in 20 minutes, if there is some big event Jack is always the the closest one to the scene.

  • I feel like I’m watching the future reality of the U.S. this season. That’s what adds to my sweatiness about 24. Will the “continuity” folks on the show remember to put Jack’s “hand scars” on every week from now on? I’m so hooked again. DAMN IT JACK BAUER!

  • I’m a 24 newbie. Is there any reason to watch the old ones now to catch up, or should I just watch them over the summer?

    It’s kind of fun. The LA traffic thing is pretty funny. I like how it took longer for two cobras to fly to an address in LA than it took Jack to steal a car and drive.

    There’s a reason that organizations compartmentalize (both intel and terrorist), way too many people know way too much (especially on the terrorist side).

    They need to study up on the size/weight of “suitcase” bombs, and the blast effects of a 1 Kt weapon (not near a half mile blast radius).

  • Bobby

    Nice summary —

    Interesting that between now and some years into the future, someone lost the technology that implements Caller ID…

    “Hello, Chloe — Jack”

  • No matter how often they “set a perimeter” it never ever holds whatever it is meant to hold.

  • I didn’t realize that the show is supposed to be in the future. One thing that’s always bothered me about the show is the technical jargon. In the first season it wasn’t so bad, because the jargon was so far from reality that I could just convince myself that they were in a parallel universe or perhaps using some weird top-secret proprietary OS. In each season the jargon seems to get closer to reality though (eg: using real terms like “socket”) yet it’s still totally wrong. Like the uncanny valley problem, by getting closer to reality without actually being “right” I think they’ve actually made things worse in this respect.

    One tip for 24 newbies that probably also deserves mentioning: whenever things seem to be getting better for the characters, this means things are actually about to get a whole lot worse. eg: “Oh crap, she was rescued! Who’s going to get killed now?” This is probably a corollary of your first point, but I’ve always thought of it as the first axiom of 24.

  • My mother – who is obsessed with 24 but refuses to comment on my blog – sent me the following addendum to my tips.

    Loved your tip sheet. You might also warn people (in the suspend disbelief area) that Jack never eats, sleeps or pees, and hardly ever changes his clothes. And, did he ditch his bag? Too soon to tell if he

  • Kevin Pak

    Brad’s mother is right. 24 on DVD is great. Watching on TV is slow and painful. Be careful not to overdose though!

    For those who just joined the 24 fold this season, I highly recommend you catch up by watching at least season 1. You don’t get a real feel for Jack ‘the all American hero’, till you have a couple of seasons under your belt.

  • WRT what year is “24” set in:

    In Season2, shortly before the “Cabinet Vote” (don’t want to give anything away), the President is chatting with the head Secret Service guy and asks how long he has been guarding presidents. He replies since Reagan’s second term … so which the Pres replies (loosely quoted from memory) “so 20 years” … which would place that show in 2004 (assuming another Reagen doesn’t become president). Season 1 had to have been a year earlier (presidental primary) and Season 3 picks up three years later.

    Yea, it’s an entertaing show, but soooo full of holes. As Bobby mentioned, except where convienent, they don’t know that Caller-ID exists, geolocation/triangulation of cell phones is hardly ever used, and when you capture (shoot!) the bad guys, grab their cell phones and look at the call log … or just hit redial – DUHHHH!!!!!

  • Donavon Keithley

    Also, Jack will be tortured, repeatedly. Don’t worry about it — twenty minutes later he’ll be at 100%.

    I can tolerate “I can’t upload the codec to the router table, the satellite multiplexer keeps rebooting.” But Wayne Palmer as President of the United States? Puhleeeze… That’s just lazy. No 25th amendment shenanigans are going to make that plausible.

    I’m afraid they’re jumping the shark.

  • kitzzy

    Great stuff!! You forgot “Jack is always right too, but no one ever believes him until the last possible moment”

  • I want Jack’s phone. It never runs out of battery and never loses a signal.
    I want Jack’s PDA bandwith. He downloads entire building schematics in seconds.
    Already Chloe has been wrong — this season she got nabbed ont the surreptitious satellite tracking of Jack.
    Jack is bi-polar. He can’t interrogate a terrorist to find the hideout, but he can kill his friend!

  • Another point for newbies: Being President is a short term position. 6 seasons = 6 US Presidents (Season 1 Prez, D. Palmer / Prescott, D. Palmer, Keller / Logan, Logan, W. Palmer). If you’re POTUS on 24, your contract isn’t being extended.

  • ran across a link with previous seasons:

  • Dig your blog. Check out mine sometime:

  • Asian24mania

    After i knew Jack, everytime I watch any actions movie I couldnt stop thinking to myself, What if Jack were there? What he’s gonna do?

  • daddydave

    Rule #1 is that Jack’s heroism ultimately always gets rewarded with a s*** sandwich from the government.

  • daddydave

    About that s*** sandwich I mentioned: Jack never complains about it, either.

    @kitzzy: Dina Araz (from Season 4) might take issue with your statement that Jack is always right, considering his brilliant plan to have Dina re-infiltrate that terrorist group didn’t work out so well.

  • ME

    Another tip for newbies:

    – Never ever read such blogs !!!

  • Rachel

    I am a Newbie, i borrowed by bosses dvd season one and i am now completly hooked. currently on season 2 12.00 – 1.00, can’t wait to go home and watch some more,

  • hey, great tips! I’m also a huge 24 fan, but I have to admit that sometimes you have to look at some things with a bit of humour indeed – but I guess that’s also a part of the series’ charm 😉
    By the way and about the future thing (now+8 years): It seems that – according to the show – in 8 years, everybody uses mac – what a paradise *g*

  • Aaron

    i have been watching 24 since near the end of season 1. This page keeps coming up for my link about the 24 bebo band.