I remember the hype when the series first hit our screens and it really did seem like an ambitious formula: 24 hour long episodes (minus time for adverts) shot so the action plays out in real time. I thought at the time that if anything the concept is too ambitious, that strething a story so that it would fit such a structure was just a little too contrived. As it turns out the idea was so successful that multiple series were made (of varying quality) and I have for the past 7 weeks or so been working my way through most of them. It also turns out that this might have been quite timely as a new series is just about to hit our screens called '24 Legacy' featuring the same concept but a different cast. 'Legacy' is a difficult name to attach to the series as the Jason Bourne movies tried exactly this device (same concept, different cast) under the name of 'Legacy' and that turned out to be wildy disappointing.
I have enjoyed watching most of the series of 24. (The only other one I haven't seen yet was the final series with Keiffer Sutherland, the one set in London which from what I hear broke formula not only with the London setting but also only consisted of 12 episodes and came complete with its own cheesey James Bond knock-off subtitle, "Live another Day."
My two minor criticisms are this: Firstly, making the story fit that structure really is a bit of a stretch. Each series contains a main plot and several sub-plots which are integral to the main plot to varying degrees. The problem is that by the time we reach the half-way point of any given series there is so much stuff going on that credibility is sometimes stretched. In any given series (and therefore on any given day) the main character may find himself blown up, shot, have his daughter kidnapped (twice), disarm a nuclear weapon, uncover a wider conspiracy involving senior members of the government, be betrayed by a member of his own organisation, get shot again and crash his car during a high speed pursuit - and this is often before lunchtime! Good writing usually does save the series though. As bloated as they get around the middle of the series they tend to be quite focused at the beginning and towards the final climax so they do pay off if you can stay with them.
My second criticism is the contribution the series might be making to the general feeling that we are surrounded by terrorists with WMD that are due to attack us at any given moment. The security service featured in the show, the 'Counter Terrorist Unit' are by definition going to be primarily looking into terrorist activity but watching this show might lead you to think that dirty bombs, nuclear war heads and chemical weapons are being deployed in attacks on US soil on a more or less weekly basis. (I have the same problem with NCIS when I was regularly watching that a while ago).
I really have enjoyed watching the show (in a very condensed period) and I am not saying that it is responsible for a climate of fear but I doubt if it helps in that regard.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: The Drowned And The Saved by Primo Levi.