Long before it came to resemble a parody of its own successful formula (“Wait a minute, did Jack Bauer just die and come back to life again?”), Fox’s “24” was that rare entertainment piece that reimagines the format….
Unlike any televised thriller up to that point, “24” unfolded more like a modern, sophisticated video game than a scripted thriller. Its plots were really just a series of wrenching, split-second decisions, each of which took Bauer — played by an unshakably grim Kiefer Sutherland — down some new path as the rest of us watched over his shoulder.
The creators of “24” understood America’s shifting social terrain better than political commentators did. Three years before anyone had even heard of Barack Obama, they cast not one but two black actors in the role of president, without so much as acknowledging race as a subtext. That millions of American viewers hardly seemed to notice should probably have been an early tipoff that a black candidacy wasn’t doomed to fail.