“24” Season 1 (2001-02, Fox), episodes 1-4 — “24” (8 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox; reruns 9 p.m. Mondays on FX) promises to break new ground. The entire season takes place within one day, so, as the promos tell us, “every second counts.” It’s just a gimmick, of course; the basic elements of “24” are far from groundbreaking. “La Femme Nikita” veteran Joel Surnow is essentially doing spy stories again, only this time he’s dragging out one story over an entire season, hopefully throwing in enough twists to keep viewers glued.
But as far as gimmicks go, this is a good one. CIA agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has 24 hours to find a mole inside his organization linked to a planned assassination of presidential candidate David Palmer (Dannis Haysbert). Meanwhile, his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) is kidnapped, his wife (Leslie Hope) frantically searches for Kim, and the bad guys plan the assassination, double-crossing each other along the way.
Oddly, the “every second counts” mantra might turn off some viewers who feel if they miss an episode, they will be lost. Actually, the opposite is true: not a whole lot has happened so far; in fact, the sun hasn’t even risen yet.
Despite the “real-time” limits, the first four hours have still been fairly gripping, mainly because the charismatic Sutherland and the cuddly Cuthbert are worth rooting for. However, the writers are going to have to make the baddies more interesting and come up with some surprise twists if they don’t want viewers to grow impatient. Because what seems novel now could easily feel old a half-day later … in March. B
— John Hansen, ” ‘Undeclared,’ ‘24’ try to survive on quality-packed Tuesday,” NDSU Spectrum, Nov. 30, 2001