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24-O-Thon: Buns of Steel
BY G. NOEL GROSS | September 14, 2002






Highly Recommended

Right now, sandmen are plotting to sabotage this hastily conceived marathon. My eyelids and hindquarters have been targeted. People that I work for actually encourage this sort of foolishness. I'm DVD Talk columnist Noel Gross.

Today is the longest day of my life.

Before hauling off on this 24-hour endurance challenge, let's pause to reflect on how this "real-time" series hit the small screen. Who could forget?! The deafening drum of FOX TV's seemingly omnipresent marketing blitz is STILL ringing in some of our ears. But once the hype hurricane had settled, those successfully lured in were confronted by an astonishing reality. The buzz actually turned out to be warranted! Heck, CineSchlocker fave Kiefer Sutherland even got himself a GOLDEN GLOBE for refusing to clear his throat for 24 hours as counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer. And while it's true the novelty of a series that plays out in "real time" was certainly its hook, the drama's real backbone was in its skillfully manufactured tension and savvy twists on time-honored action/spy genre cliches -- episode after episode, minute by minute. Speaking of, the clock's ticking toward midnight . . .

Midnight-1:00 a.m.

Mandy has her own idea of in-flight service.
The not-so-domestic bliss of the Bauer clan is put on hold when Jack's called into the office to root out a possible assassination attempt on African-American presidential candidate David Palmer (CineSchlockers will remember Dennis Haysbert as wild-ass Pedro Cerrano from the Major League flicks). While the elder Bauer is out saving the world, Kim, his hussy-in-training daughter (ever-yummy Elisha Cuthbert) is out fraternizing with college boys with gal-pal and fellow horndog Janet (Jacqui Maxwell). Elsewhere, an international hotshot photographer gives his mini-skirted admirer (Mia Kirshner) a quickie induction to the Mile High Club, but before you can say, "Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am" -- BLAM! -- the plane goes blooey. Save a lone survivor.

Notables: One corpse (plus an ill-fated 747 jetliner). Eight conspicuous notations of time. 11 cellphone calls. Knockout dart to the leg. One growling bear. Boozing. Table dancing. Hypodermic to the neck.

Quotable: Rick to a I-wanna-go-home-now Kim, "Relax, the night's just getting started."

1:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.

Jack receives a frantic call from his superior (Michael O'Neill) who's just seen an informant gunned down in front of him as the two exchanged a computer key card containing evidence that points to involvement within CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) on the Palmer hit. While Bauer speeds to the rescue, his wife Teri is out trying to round up her wayward spawn with the aid of Janet's pop (Richard Burgi). But there's no real luck in tracking either of the girls down, as they've been chicknapped by the aforementioned college dudes, whom we now know are versed in the adminstration of roofies. CineSchlockers will want to write letters of thanks to Ms. Cuthbert's costume designer for putting her in that bellyshirt with the plunging neckline. Love that "FOX attitude." Lots of shootout hijinks once Bauer arrives at his honcho's side. Especially when Jack takes an UNUSUAL approach to ID the attackers.

Notables: Four corpses. Three conspicuous notations of time. 12 cellphone calls. Egg sniping. Gratuitous thumb amputation. Psychedelic stonermobile. Crowbar to the arm.

Quotable: Teri to hero hubby Jack, "Why don't you just call me when you're done with your emergency."

2:00 a.m.-3:00 a.m.

Bauer entertains his staff with an amusing card trick.
Thus begins the saga of "the card." Much to his consternation, this techno finger of guilt points to Bauer's after hours Nekkid Twister partner Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) giving Kiefer an opportunity to SHOUT and look real MEAN!!! There's also the first cat 'n' mouse foray of the series with jiggly Kim and nearly-hobbled Janet managing to scamper away from their stoner captors into the back alleys of North Hollywood where they encounter a less-than-kindly man ho who, after mugging them, feels just awful about it later. He's played by beady-eyed Keram Malicki-Sanchez whom CineSchlockers will recognize as the gratuitous queen in the underappreciated Cherry Falls. Unaware his life is in danger, Palmer is gallivanting around town trying to put the kibosh on an impending media revelation that his son Keith (Vicellous Reon Shannon) was involved in the murder of his sister's rapist. The distressing story is especially ill-timed as today's the California Presidential Primary. Infighting and titillating commingling among the assassination conspirators leads to further unpleasantness.

Notables: One corpse. Six conspicuous notations of time. Eight cellphone calls. Lesbian tongue rasslin'. Bat-toting rowdies. Gratuitous broken arm closeup. Sweaty cleavage. One hit-and-run. Heroin fix. Two-by-four to the skull.

Quotable: Palmer's slimeball confidant Carl chirps, "You have your principles, you don't compromise. Blah. Blah. Blah. That's why I love you, but you knew the gloves were going to come off, well, they're off. That's why you have ME!"

3:00 a.m.-4:00 a.m.

LOCK DOWN! Agency goons swoop in and shut down all CTU operations, but with a well-timed sucker punch, Bauer slips out to chase down a lead recovered from "the card." This, of course, is AFTER Jack realizes his weekend of cavorting in Santa Barbara with Nina proves to be enough of an alibi to clear her of suspicion. Perturbed, she still covers for him when grilled about Bauer's whereabouts. Palmer, who's been preoccupied, finally learns of the plot against him, to which he sarcastically deadpans, "I get serious threats every morning with my orange juice!" Kim runs her yap too much and gets it shut with duct tape, while Janet lies sprawled in the street after getting clobbered by a Trans Am. Once at the address pulled from the card, Bauer swaps pot shots with some bozo who, when cornered, insists Jack better play nice if he'd ever like to see Kim again.

Notables: One corpse. Six conspicuous notations of time. Four cellphone calls (including one mid-gunplay). Bitch slapping. Feisty motorcycle cop. Lite S&M.

Quotable: When his pursuit of a shooter is interrupted by the LAPD, Bauer barks, "Officer, this guy isn't waiting around for me! So, you'd better shoot me or help me, but decide NOW!!!"

4:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m.

Kim is one gal who knows how to have a good time.
CTU lockdown is lifted once Bauer is tracked to police HQ where George Mason (Xander Berkley), still smarting from that knockout dart to the leg by Jack, arrives just in time to stall the interrogation of the smarmy fella who claims to know what's up with Kimberly. Speaking of, she spends much of this episode gaged and issuing dialogue like, "Mmmmm-errr-mmmm!!! Mmmm!!! Mmmmm-errr-mmmm!!!" Palmer is still rassling with whether or not his kiddo's a murderer -- but it ain't looking good. Leslie Hope is REALLY starting to emote ALL OVER THE PLACE as Jack's wife Teri. While Bauer's inner gears are turning on a crafty ploy to bust his only link to Kim out of the pokey.

Notables: Two corpses. 12 conspicuous notations of time. 11 cellphone calls. Illegal right turn. Gratuitous flatline during surgery. The ol' mutilated stiff in the trunk gag.

Quotable: CineSchlocker fave Michael Massee seethes pure evil as Ira Gaines, who explains the facts of life to an unruly subordinate, then drives the point home with his 9mm, "Well, I tell ya, Dan. You're either dead, or you're not dead. There's no such thing as sorta dead. Here, let me show you!"

5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m.

At long last, an emotional reunion between Teri and Jack at the hospital where they await Janet to regain consciousness in hopes of finding Kim. There's sufficient time for Bauer to yelp about "the wall between his work and his family falling down" and to promise Teri once this is all over they'll take a nice trip together. Fat chance, buddy. However, it's not long before his suspicion Kim's abduction is somehow related to Palmer is validated when he's "virtually kidnapped" by Gaines via a patchwork of security cams and those danged handy little cellphones (a screenwriter's best friend). Our favorite cleavage queen bonds with Rick (Daniel Bess) while shoveling a proper place for Dan's eternal dirt nap. Though the sun's begun to rise over the city a mighty dark cloud still looms ahead. Couchside, I've thrown open the shades, thankful for having survived the night.

Notables: One corpse. Six conspicuous notations of time. 10 cellphone calls. Gravedigging. Gratuitous autopsy. Mournful toking.

Quotable: Sniveling Carl to an angry Palmer, "You have NEVER needed me more than you do now -- before you finish crucifying me, save some nails for your WIFE!"

6:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m.

Teri emotes.
Hey, hey! Everyone's KIDNAPPED! Kim. Jack. Then NINA cuz she gets too nosey when Gaines forces Bauer back to CTU in order to cover some untidy tracks. Yep, that goldang key card again. Oh, and Eric Balfour of HBO's "Six Feet Under" suddenly appears as a freelance techno whiz with the mad skills to unravel the card's secrets. That is if he were given a fair chance. Kim nags Rick into helping her escape, an idea he cottons to more when she pulls him on top of her feigning rape for ill-timed eyes. But, look out, even Teri's done got herself abducted! Is NO ONE safe?! Now's when Mrs. Palmer's claws really glint in the cold light of day. She screeches "DAVID!" this and "DAVID!" that as if she's thrusting a switchblade around. CineSchlockers will no doubt remember Penny Johnson Jerald from her fleshy role in the motorcross sequel to the cannibal classic The Hills Have Eyes where she was a scant more, um, friendly.

Notables: No corpses. Six conspicuous notations of time. Five cellphone calls. First reference to "My wife and daughter." Amazingly handy paper shredder. The ol' hooded hostage routine. Gratuitous heartbeat added to soundtrack to heighten suspense. Point-blank execution.

Quotable: Teri's captor is still a wiseacre when it comes to his inside knowledge about Kim, even when he's tied to a tree, "Are you gonna knock me out again? Because I can't talk when I'm unconscious!"

7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m.

Another touching reunion ensues as Kim and Teri land in the same dingy shack. Meanwhile, Gaines has Bauer skulking around the location of Palmer's first public address of the day. Back at CTU, quick-witted Nina and Tony realize their trusted compu-consort Jamey is in league with the devil, er, Gaines. The poor gal is played by Karina Arroyave, who sorta looks like Rosie Perez, but WITHOUT that voice that's been scientifically proven to make babies cry. This confrontation lets Nina holler nasty-sounding words like "TREASON!" though she's not quite as convincing as Jack. Really grisly stuff in the final moments. And the Palmer fam is none too happy about papa's decision to publicly fess up to the coverup of his son's dirty deed.

Notables: No corpses. Four conspicuous notations of time. Two cellphone calls. Four refs to "My wife and daughter." Hostage cam. Latest in laptop accessories -- an internal high-powered pistol. Heart-felt campaign speech. Lee Press-On Fingerprints.

Quotable: Keith doesn't like his chances of being cleared on murder charges, "Oh, by me being in prison and you being in the Oval Office?! Is THAT how we're gonna put this behind us?!"

8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.

Jamey refuses Nina's challenge to a staring contest.
Goldang it! Now BAUER's in on the kidnapping bit! His stunt at the rally may've bought Palmer some time to breathe, but it lands our hero in the custody of the Secret Service. Well, for all of about five seconds until he gets tired of trying to explain himself and Houdinis it outta there. He bums a ride with a passing motorist via the persuasive power of his sidearm -- even though his hands are still cuffed. Once he finds a suitable hideout, Jack contacts Nina and Tony at CTU for a fresh set of wheels and then settles in for some chit-chat with his new chauffer/waitress friend. He actually dozes off at one point. The lucky bastard! Meanwhile, Jamey's singin' like a canary about everything short of what her interrogators wanna hear. But her resolve crumbles into tears when they threaten to cart in her son. While on the subject of a mother's love, Teri makes the ultimate carnal sacrifice when one of Gaines' sleazeball horndogs comes sniffing around Kim. She returns mere minutes later (some Romeo) with a pilfered cellphone and NONE of her heretofore hysterics.

Notables: One corpse. Seven conspicuous notations of time. Seven cellphone calls. Three refs to "My wife and daughter." Multiple blasts of steam to the face. Gratuitous shot of Nina in a bra. Foot chase. Off-camera rape. Pepper-spray attack. Carjacking. Gratuitous blood geyser.

Quotable: Bauer's hostage Lauren (Kathleen Wilhoite) has heard enough, "You're not the only one who has problems, Jack. I just came off a hellacious night shift. I'm due in court in 45 minutes on a DUI charge of which I'm not guilty. So, um, good luck with YOUR crisis, OK!?"

9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

All hail, Queen Bitch Palmer's throne has been challenged! With bossman Jack a fugitive, Alberta Green (Tamara Tunie) barrels in to head CTU exhaling actual FIRE from her nostrils. Although, that COULD be a hallucination on my part. One thing's for certain, she's no charm school grad. In all, we've got a particularly tension-rife hour here. Jack isn't tooling around El Lay dodging road blocks for long before he's trapped in a parking lot and lams it on foot. Only he's mighty SLOW about it. Wedged under a car, he gabs for a nail-biting eternity with Teri and Kim via their smuggled cellphone while CTU attempts to run a trace. All within earshot of the fuzz! While on the other end, the girls keep having to hide the phone every time someone even BREATHES in their direction. The ante is up'd plot wise with the introduction of Gaines' testy Serbian employer Andre Drazen (Zeljko Ivanek) who's none too pleased that Palmer still has a pulse. And once Bauer FINALLY gets out from under that car he hightails it to catch up with a suspicious tycoon with apparent financial ties to the Palmer plot.

Notables: No corpses. Nine conspicuous notations of time. Eight cellphone calls. One reference to "My wife and daughter." Political shenanigans. Gratuitous fast mo. Phony fire alarm. Hot-wired wheels.

Quotable: Proof Alberta needs to improve her people skills, "I know most of you have been up more than 24 hours. TOO BAD! Nobody so much as YAWNS until we accomplish our objective. If anybody has a problem with that, now would be a good time to resign!"

10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Gaines just wants to be loved.
Mousy lil Teri Bauer has developed a cast-iron spine, especially when Kim's outlaw crush slips them a piece. Senator Palmer also begins to assert himself and there's a fantastic scene in an elementary school cafeteria where he and his dragon lady stop down from pressing the flesh just long enough to have themselves a nice little spat without anyone EVER being the wiser. Elsewhere, Gaines majorly whiffs with Drazen. But, above all, this is the LIMO episode! Bauer's steering a rolling confessional and seemingly squeaky-clean Ted Cofell (Currie Graham) had better start flappin' his gums. Or, or, well, I'll let Jack explain below.

Notables: Two corpses. Eight conspicuous notations of time. Eight cellphone calls. Six refs to "My wife and daughter." Pistol whipping. Convenient roll of duct tape in the trunk. Strangling. Force feeding. Wrist snapping. Ol' bulletproof glass gag.

Quotable: Bauer gets medieval, "You ever hear about the Russian gulag? A string of prisons in northern Siberia? The Russians didn't have a lot of high-tech equipment out there so they kind of had to make due with what was around. Sort of like what I'm doing right now. You probably don't think I could force this towel down your throat. But, trust me, I can. All the way. Except I hold on to this one little bit at the end. When your stomach starts to digest it. I pull it out. Taking your stomach lining with it. Most people, they take about a week to die. It's very painful."

11:00 a.m.-Noon

Whooooooaaaaaaaaaa, Nelly! Oh, that bumbling Ira Hayes, er, Gaines pretty soon he won't answer any more. He's not a whiskey-drinkin' Indian, or a Marine who went to war. Sorry, every time that guy pops on the screen that old Johnny Cash tune runs through my head. That and it's just donned on me that Mr. Massee is The Fake Willem Dafoe. It's been 12 goldang hours, so you'll have to forgive me from here on. Hmmmm. Can't really dance around the plot without giving too much away. Let's just say the not-so-Jolly Green Dragon ain't ALL bad.

Notables: Three corpses. Seven conspicuous notations of time. Seven cellphone calls. Two refs to "My wife and daughter." Gate crashing. One spit bath. Low-rent pyrotechnics. Two-fisted gun shooting. Gratuitous Waco reference. Another interrogation scene. Even MORE pistol whipping.

Quotable: Jack just MIGHT be bipolar, "I love you and I promise everything is going to be different from now on!"

Noon-1:00 p.m.

Palmer poles the electorate.
It's all over!? Not quite. With no network guarantee of a full 24-episode season, the script folks tied a little bow on these last two episodes with the Bauers and Palmers each receiving their measure of "resolution." One more decisively than the other, but hey, a suitable safety net in case of plug pulling. Carl the Human Jackal chews up some more scenery testing Palmer's mettle. And poor, poor Ira. Oh! I keep forgetting to point out CineSchlocker fave Al Leong who's made himself a CAREER out of playing bit heavy parts in flicks such as Savage Beach and the immortal They Live. Al always takes his punches and squibs like a man!

Notables: Two corpses. Two conspicuous notations of time. Three cellphone calls. Egregiously poor orienteering. Multiple gun battles. Convenient use of public transit. Eagle Scout-worthy adminstration of first aid.

Quotable: Ira doesn't like his odds, "You don't just get the hell out with these people. They come after you and they keep coming until they find you no matter where you are! And when they do -- believe me, killing Bauer is our only chance of staying alive."

1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

Alrighty! Everything's been kicked up a notch or more. The music drives harder. There's a new hitMAN with a sissy name on the prowl. Alexis (Misha Collins) struts around in black shades and a leather jacket looking like he'd be more at home cavorting with Nikki Fritz on Skinamax. Instead he gets an afternoon booty call from Elizabeth a comely little minx on Palmer's campaign staff (Kara Zediker). This when, less than an hour before, he'd charbroiled Gaines' remaining henchmen. Kim and Teri are busy being poked and prodded at the hospital. While Jack gets slowly roasted on a spit for all the naughty stuff he's been up to thus far. Although, they DO let him scarf down a TV dinner in between tongue lashings.

Notables: Five corpses. Nine conspicuous notations of time. Six cellphone calls. Three refs to "My wife and daughter." One well-financed explosion. Artistically framed bullet to the brainpan.

Quotable: Bauer wants back in the game, "I have come in contact with suspects that are STILL at large and I guarantee you they have a contingency plan! I AM A RESOURCE!!! I can IDENTIFY them! You want to arrest me?! Fine! You do that LATER! But you let me help Senator Palmer get through the rest of this day!!!"

2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Nina wants a Nekkid Twister rematch with Jack.
Like two mighty gladiators, Palmer and Bauer enter the ring. OK, a conference room at CTU. David was on his way out of state to save his neck before deciding to confront Jack whom he still believes to want him dead. What a wacky misunderstanding THAT is! The two of them barking back and forth is among the best scenes of the series. Across town, Teri and Nina square off as well during a debriefing session at the safe house. Teri accuses her of diddling Jack, which is CORRECT, but it don't count since the unhappily marrieds were separated at the time. Right?! Teri used to think so until her Three-Minute "Clear Blue" Pregnancy Test came back a big "YOU BETCHA!" Golly, how are the writers gonna top THAT novel plot twist?

Notables: One corpse. Four conspicuous notations of time. Eight cellphone calls. Two refs to "My wife and daughter." Wacky zydeco music. Brotherly needling. Gratuitous urination. Strategic obstruction of nekkidness. Gratuitous whip pan.

Quotable: Crusty hired gun tells his gambling partner, "If you could read what's in my eyes you'd crawl under a rock and CRY!"

3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

OK, there's NO DOUBT being awake this long as dulled my perceptive powers! Why? Because it took me a whole episode to realize Kim has new threads. Kids, do NOT try this at home! You'll go blind, or something. Those delightful sleaze mongers at FOX have gone with a more form fitting top for bawdy Ms. Bauer, but never fear, that neckline's still a ratings winner! The Palmer/Bauer summit produced IDs on a handful of shooters, one of whom is our pretty boy Alexis, much to the chagrin of his bed sheet mambo partner. Teri sends Nina running to the relative safety of CTU. No fury, indeed. As for topping Teri's bun in the oven? AMNESIA ANYONE?!!

Notables: Six corpses. Five conspicuous notations of time. Five cellphone calls. One reference to "My wife and daughter." Stealthy arrow to the neck. Fainting. Gun battle. Car chase with explosion. Gratuitous PowerPoint presentation.

Quotable: CineSchlockers are encouraged to choose from any of Teri's catty stabs at Nina.

4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Tony orders a pizza.
Dazed from her tumble, Kim wanders to a nearby pay phone and rings CTU looking for pops. When Tony answers, she's unwilling to trust him with any info other than there's been a hit on the allegedly safe house and she fears her mama's been bagged again. Then our Stockholm cadet runs to the arms of Nick thinking HE'LL know what gives. Only his raven-haired honey (Navi Rawat) ain't rolling any welcome tokes for blondie. Let the catfight begin! Speaking of brawlin' broads, little Lizzy is convinced by Bauer to keep her bed check with Alexis in order to plant a tracking device on him. This leads to more patented tension as she grossly DEVIATES from Jack's carefully planned scenario.

Notables: No corpses. Eight conspicuous notations of time. Five cellphone calls. One reference to "My wife and daughter." Gratuitous Hare Krishnas. High-tech voyeurism. Male primping. Knife to the gut. One good Samaritan.

Quotable: Elizabeth baits Alexis, "How would YOU know how smart I am!? We've spent, what, maybe 15 hours together? And most of that was in bed!"

5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

The men of the Palmer household have their umpteenth heart-to-heart with each swearing they'll always be there for each other from now on. It's precious and danged annoying. Icy Teri has melted into utter Wigsville now that her marbles are scrambled. Losing one's memory is never a good thing, especially when there's a paid assassin itching to ventilate you and yours. When stoner Dan's bro shows and refuses to let Kim leave, it gives her the time to profess her undying love to Rick because even though he's wanted by the police and got shot in the arm he's STILL "smart, funny and good looking." Bauer's busy impersonating Alexis at a payoff. A fairly typical scenario for the genre gets skewed when a CTU sniper with a grudge takes to hassling Jack over the radio. From there, it gets worse for all involved.

Notables: Two corpses. Eight conspicuous notations of time. Seven cellphone calls. Two refs to "My wife and daughter." Shirt swapping. Gratuitous wall safe. Tattletelling.

Quotable: Rick's sarcastic girlfriend has a point, "What are you gonna do? Call them up and ask for your mom back?"

6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Mrs. Palmer in one of her more genteel moments.
George Mason, now heading CTU, refuses to inform Bauer that his deer-in-the-headlights kin are missing yet again. Jack seems to be close to a real break in the case, one Mason doesn't want to spoil, so much so in fact, he even tags along as Jack wanders a "federal nature preserve" waving a GPS thingy around. The two chatter about Bauer's hush-hush mission in Bosnia a couple years back to eliminate a Serbian madman known as Victor Drazen. And it seems it's his boys who want to celebrate the anniversary with copious bloodletting. Mrs. Palmer's bitchery is in full bloom as she's certain David's about to throw away "everything they've worked for" by coming clean about their family scandal. But it turns out to be perhaps the world's POLITEST press conference ever with the media silently listening as Palmer holds forth. The scene with Rick and Kim gets "complicated" when deceased Dan's bro decides to do a $20,000 ecstasy deal except he opts for a loaded scattergun in lieu of cash. Nice. Anxious to get her memory back, Teri goes HOME, making the aforementioned assassin's gig a mite easier.

Notables: Three corpses. Five conspicuous notations of time. Three cellphone calls. Tea for two. The ol' jab the guy's fresh wound trick. One mondo spaz out.

Quotable: Sherry Palmer makes dinner-time small talk, "I never saw it until this minute. You're your father's son! You cover up your weakness with a bunch of bleeding-heart sentimentality!"

7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Sound the chainsaw salute! The Lord of the Harvest has arrived!!! Bauer's hunch to stick around that apparently empty field proves correct when he stumbles upon a "Class 3 Detention Center" run by the Department of Defense. Lou Diamond Phillips heads its skeleton crew, which is inopportune seeing how Andre Drazen and his goons wanna spring the facility's latest inmate. A man Bauer saw die. That man? Dennis Hopper! Er, Victor Drazen. Who, incidentally, has the WORST French accent I've ever heard! Bauer's been sharp enough to follow the story THIS far, but his tenacity may cost him his life.

Notables: No corpses. 11 conspicuous notations of time. Five cellphone calls. Two refs to "My wife and daughter." Gratuitous urination. Puking. Multiple tazer hits.

Quotable: Just wait, Sherry's got even MORE venom for her dear hubby, "Well, David, you may not love me, but you will NEVER leave me! ... Because come January, David, when you're being sworn in. Make no mistake about it. This woman here WILL be standing right next to you!"

8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Tragically, baldness drives Andre to terrorism.
I tell ya, that Andre is a good kid. Not every son would go to the trouble he has for his homicidal maniac daddy. But when you're from a FAMILY of killers it's probably expected. Bauer comes up on the short end of this touching, guns-blazing reunion between Andre and Victor. Making an exit locked arm and arm won't be nearly so easy. CineSchlockers will likely enjoy ANOTHER lockup a wee bit more. Watch the gals lick their chops when our dearest Kimberly gets tossed in joint. Look out, though, because she's had all she can stand and she can't stands no more. While even in victory Mr. and Mrs. Palmer find it tough to remove their choppers from each other's jugulars.

Notables: Six corpses. Six conspicuous notations of time. Four cellphone calls. Multiple explosions. Most blatant FOX News plug yet. Gratuitous laser-triggered booby trap. Suggestive massaging.

Quotable: Kim goes berserk, "SHUT UP!!! I've been listening to this CRAP all day about how I get everything I want and how my life is so great and everyone else's SUCKS! Well, you don't know ANYTHING about me! Last night, I was KIDNAPPED! Tied up in the back of a TRUNK and then I got to see your friend Dan get shot in the HEAD! You take all the bad luck you've had in your entire LIFE and it wouldn't fit into HALF of what's happened to me in the past 24 HOURS! So messing me up may not be as EASY as you think! But if you want to try BRING IT ON! Here. Outside. ANY PLACE YOU LIKE!!!"

9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

Poor Kim can't catch a break. No sooner does she get out of the slammer than Drazen's henchmen snatch her back! Her daddy's in the same tough spot. Only the government has decided it'd be easier to save face by just letting Victor go and forgetting the whole thing ever happened. Fortunately, Palmer intervenes at Nina's behest and makes Mason an offer he can't refuse. So Drazen's proposed Jack for Alexis swap is finally a go. Even with loverboy barely clinging to his libido. Oh, and the Palmers? You guessed it. But now Sherry's goading an aide to "fraternize" with David. Helloooooooooo, Ms. Lewinsky!

Notables: Two corpses. Five conspicuous notations of time. Six cellphone calls. Gratuitous "We Are Family," "Celebration" and "I'm So Excited" instrumentals.

Quotable: Mason smarts off, "Maybe you should've taken more English lessons. 'Trade' means we get something too!"

10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.

Victor Drazen enjoys a refreshing beverage.
Holy Usual Suspects, Batman! A second mole burrows forth from CTU following another action-packed hour. Does this revelation make a lick of sense? Not really, but since when did ANY of this zippy hooey stand up to a once over with an abacus!? Sadly, Alexis croaks rather unceremoniously soon after being swapped for Bauer. The mourning doesn't last long as Victor Drazen has his own reason for wanting Jack freed. Basically, to do the same goldang thing he and his clan have been going at all day. You betcha, kill Davey. Only now Bauer and Palmer are such good buddies that Jack just phones him up and says, "They're sending me over to kill you. Be there in 10." Hey, there's no need to show up unannounced. It's RUDE. As smart as these two are, it doesn't keep Kim from needing to be rescued, which Jack is off to do when Teri finally tells him she's preggers. They cry. And if I weren't fresh out of Visine, I might've squeezed out a tear or two myself.

Notables: One corpse. Four conspicuous notations of time. Six cellphone calls (including one that goes boom-boom). Involuntary swan dive. Piping hot coffee to the face. Conservative application of deodorant.

Quotable: Sorry, just can't get enough of Mrs. Palmer, "Patty, please don't patronize me! You feel uncomfortable, but not because you're ready to be with my husband [in the naughtiest of ways]. You feel uncomfortable because you're doing it with my knowledge and consent."

11:00 p.m.-Midnight

Click. Click. Click. [Pregnant pause.] BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! Now HERE'S how to wrap up a series! Jack Bauer unleashing a four-minute, two-fisted gun battle while leaping hither and yon along the LA piers. Someplace John Woo is missing a page or two from his book. Especially that glorious climatic shootout between oncoming cars -- if my sleep deprived brainpan serves that's straight out of Bullet in the Head. Minus about 50 gallons of blood. To go much more into it would leave me buried in angry emails. Let's just say that after 23 episodes and 23 hours -- there was NO WAY even these weary peepers could get any wider.

Notables: 11 corpses. Three conspicuous notations of time. 11 cellphone calls. One reference to "My wife and daughter." Fence hopping. Blatant traffic violation. Political party pooping.

Quotable: Jack emotes, "I'm so sorry. So sorry."

Cumulative Notables: 55 corpses (plus an ill-fated 747 jetliner). 162 conspicuous notations of time. 152 cellphone calls. 29 refs to "My wife and daughter."


Audio/Video: Those who saw broadcast episodes on their widescreen sets will already be familiar with viewing the series in its original aspect ratio (1.78:1). For the rest of us, this anamorphic transfer really opens the image area for a more cinematic feel without sacrificing the tension of wobbly closeups and frantic zooms. Yet there's slightly more grain evident than when the shows aired. While not a salivatory 5.1 mix, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track is fiercely robust throughout with clear dialogue and smartly showcases an often driving score.

Extras: Mighty lean as it's been purposefully fast-tracked to the marketplace ahead of the sequel's debut. This gate-fold boxed set contains six discs, and for those math whizzes out there, yep, that's four episodes a pop (42 minutes each). Executive producer Joel Surnow provides optional chatter for an abysmal alternate "happy" ending that proves that Hollywood gets it RIGHT on occasion. Inexplicably, Kiefer's INTRODUCTION to the series appears on the FINAL disc. In it, he spends about 10 seconds saying how groovy the second season is gonna be, but the teaser listed on the packaging is as yet illusive. Probably more egregious is the maddening fact that individual episodes contain NO CHAPTER STOPS!!! Makes nailing down those tasty Cuthbert cleavage shots a real chore. Static menus with audio.

Final thought: Proof that there's no shame in a great gimmick. This deliriously exhausting 24-hour whirlwind zips, twists and zags without ever spiraling off target. Even in multiple sittings. A bona fide thriller! Highly Recommended.

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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