A man looks over both of his shoulders as he enters his safehouse. His faith in padlocks is amusing, if not silly. He goes to his communications station and identifies himself as "Superspy" and commences a transmission of some very vital intelligence. Cue stock footage from ENEMY OF THE STATE.
In Los Angeles, a well-dressed man named Walsh gets a summary of Superspy's report within ten seconds. Senator David Palmer is targeted for an assassination attempt today. Bam! There's your premise for the whole season, people!
And Senator David Palmer is busy chillaxing on the balcony of his "Senatorial Suite" (can't call it "Presidential" yet, that would be presumptuous). Palmer's wife, Sherry is a completely loyal, loving wife as she pours midnight coffee and gives adroit political advice. Ah, pass the cream, this is one stable political couple!
Meanwhile, some guy from THE LOST BOYS is playing chess with his teenage daughter, who's wrapped herself in a bathrobe, an obvious sign that she just showered (or is an unemployed vagrant). After Kim Bauer thanks her father for moving back into the familial abode, Jack Bauer tells her to scoot off to bed so he can eat a cup of yogurt and continue working shit out with his wife, Teri, who is sitting in the kitchen and doing some online banking or something. Is that a PowerBook G4 Titanium laptop? I had one of those... ten years ago!
Jack's about to eat his yogurt, when he decides to give his estranged wife a little neck rub as a prelude to further marital peace/lovemaking. As the Bauers walk towards the bedroom, Jack stops to tell his daughter that she can't play off one parent against the other, and to turn down her emo-blasting music. Ah, but poor Kim's not the smartest kid on the block though- why say you're going to bed, blast your stereo and then sneak out? That's like trying to rob a bank across the street from a police station (I actually know a guy who did this- he got arrested really quickly). So, Kim's teenage antics immediately rile up Teri. She wants to take away Kim's civil rights or some bogus nonsense. Television parenting... I love it. Jack gets rescued from this burgeoning episode of "Family Ties" by a call from the office. There's a briefing going on! Where does Jack work? Let's find out...
Meanwhile, Kim is cruising down the empty streets of Los Angeles with her brunette pal and they busily discuss the difference between "men and boys" and how being a skeevy sophomore in a community college who preys on 16 year-old girls is the most reliable demarcation of those two words. I swear, if I ever have a daughter, I'm going to force her to carry a Glock.
As this happens, Jack is driving to work (still don't know where this dude's going- maybe a Denny's? They're open 24 hours a day, right?). Anyway, my first nitpick occurs as Jack pulls up to a stoplight. A city bus has an ad for Senator David Palmer's presidential campaign on its side. This is illegal- the First Amendment does not provide the right for politicians to advertise on municipal property. In fact, cities refuse to accept such ads. They may do that sort of thing in Canada (where this show was probably filmed) but in the US of A, we have higher standards! But this is a TV show, and they needed to provide a visual moment of foreshadowing.
Anyway, Jack is on the phone with this really attractive lady who appears to be 9 feet tall based on the camera angles. She has perfect makeup at 12AM, which tells me she's probably having relations with someone at work. And what is this place? It looks high-tech, like some software company or something. Maybe it's Netscape- remember those guys? They were big 10 years ago. I wonder who bought them out. The tall girl finishes with Jack and goes over to a suave guy named Tony, who I think is her male secretary, as he's busy making calls for her. I spy a soulpatch! (on Tony, not the tall broad).
Jack pulls into the parking lot at work and calls his wife again to regroup with her on their family tragedy ("Our daughter ran out to drink beer and get felt up! Oh no!"). I wonder why Jack bothered to make the call, as he knew it would only last ten seconds (he's walking through security at this point) and then it hits me- he's a genius. He doesn't want a long conversation with his wife, but he has to show that he cares, so the "Honey, I have to go" call is the perfect situation. Well played, family guy!
Jack's office is lit like a dungeon. What's going on here? Is this a photography studio? A lab that grows biolumniescent organisms? I'm dying over here! Just tell me what Jack does for a living!
The tall lady walks over to Jack and suddenly appears to be a woman of average height. Still, she walks tall- and she's completely attracted to Jack based on her body language. Jack tells Tony to get some background information on Senator Palmer's staff for a briefing, and Tony doesn't like that idea. What's the big deal, male secretary? Is it racist to look at a black guy's staff? Woah, that's a Freudian disaster of a sentence.
On the other side of town, Kim and her friend arrive at a furniture discount store to meet up with greatest examples of men in the entire world- these are men that wear wrinkled clothing and drive around in a fully-carpeted purple van. I suddenly want a grape soda. Dammit! Kim introduces herself to a young chap named Rick and announces to her potential suitor that she is aware of his proclivity towards partying and so wishes him to know that she herself is prone to such diversions. Now, in my day when you asked someone if they "partied" that meant smoking weed. Are these dopey kids that fell out of a GAP catalog really that forward thinking? Or do they subscribe to the Rojay version of the word "party" (which entails helium balloons and Grouch Marx glasses)? Time will tell. They run inside the furniture store, and commence to be inconspicuous delinquents by blasting music, turning on all of the lights and screaming loudly. And as I look around the furniture store, I am left wondering "Who shops at this store? Blanche DuBois?" The place looks like a Cajun whorehouse!
Back at Jack's office, I finally hear that our guy works at a place called CTU. Interesting, never heard of it before, but it sounds like a trade/technical university, like DeVry. But then that dapper guy with the intelligence, Walsh, shows up, and that makes me begin to question my numerous theories on this poorly-lit place of work. Walsh works for the government and he informs the briefing at CTU of some terrible news: Senator Palmer is being targeted for an assassination. Alright, CTU is a government agency and they're supposed to stop this stuff from happening. But CTU refuses to do so with good indoor lighting. Good luck with that eye-strain, people.
Walsh asks for Jack to stick around after the briefing lets out and he asks Jack to trust no one, not even people within CTU. There's foreshadowing again! Someone inside CTU may be aiding the people trying to kill Palmer. In other words, there might be a mole in the agency. Woah! Mind. Officially. Blown. And speaking of assassins, there's a beady-eyed European dude on an international flight who is our first suspect! He's scheduled to "shoot" Palmer for some magazine or something the next morning. And he's wearing black! He must be a villain. He's sitting next to a very pleasant young woman who appears to be drunk off her keister. She overhears the "photographer" talking with Palmer's staff (again, Dr. Freud) and asks if he does, in fact, know David Palmer... friggin groupie. So far, she appears to be an inconsequential character. Stay tuned.
Back on the floor of CTU, the formerly-tall girl (Nina) is sticking her nose into Jack's official and personal business at the speed of light. The subtlety of her character is staggering- I soon expect her to start stamping her feet and demanding Jack get her a sippy cup and read her a story. Lady, you're attractive, you don't need to be a nag on top of that- lay off Jack!
And then the most impressive man in this entire episode finally shows up, George Mason. He's the bringer of a disc that contains semi-helpful information. Jack wants to know the source of this intelligence, but Mason, ever the professional, tells Jack that he cannot share such things with anyone. It appears Mason's boss, some fella named Chapelle, is not into sharing. Jack smiles through this conversation, but it appears evident that Jack hates Mason. In fact, thus far, I cannot find two characters that actually geniuinely like one another on this show. What a great set-up- people who are charged with keeping us safe cannot stand one another. I think the writers are laying on the human drama a tad bit heavily.
But I will gladly accept what happens next- Jack figures out Mason is not a buddy, so Jack shoots him in the thigh with a tranquilizer (so Jack can find something in Mason's past he can use to blackmail Mason into revealing the source of his intelligence). The source of my intelligence is a well-balanced breakfast and a high-protein diet. I eagerly await George Mason's secret recipe for awesomeness.
Back at the Bauer house, Teri is busy doing an inventory on her daughter's stash of weed when some dude named Alan York calls. He's the father of Kim's friend, Janet- the brunette that knows so much about real men. Anyway, Father of the Year lost his daughter too and they exchange woes over the phone. Ah, white people problems...
As this happens, the sexual tension between Nina and Jack is given a little more backstory- it appears these two fit, happening cats were once intimate. But now, Nina is being intimate with her male secretary, Tony. That's unethical in my book. But can you blame Nina? Tony screams virility! And it appears that Tony is not the biggest fan of Jack Bauer. Of course he hates Jack- they work together at CTU, where nobody gets along.
You know who does get along? Senator Palmer and his wife, Sherry Palmer. They chat about how tough it is staying up late, running for President, etc. And then David gets a call from a reporter about some scandalous story, which sets off David's dark mood. And amidst this crisis concerning an assassination attempt, David decides the safest place to ponder his mood is on the balcony of a well-lit hotel. Yeah, that makes sense.
Meanwhile, the photographer dude joins the mile-high club with that annoying groupie, who (after having done the deed) identifies herself as Mandy... like Patinkin, only less hairy. This little drunk pixie is apparently a pick-pocket, holding onto the photographer's ID card. She stumbles about the plane as a flight attendant tells her they're about to land. Well, Mandy doesn't want to land. She wants to continue acting drunk and kills the flight attendant. And then she opens up her carry-on luggage which is filled with plastic explosives and full-on HALO (High Altitude/Low-Opening) equipment. I know this show was filmed pre-9/11, but this girl brought parachute gear on the flight! That's a bad sign!
Well, Mandy activates a triggering mechanism which was hidden in the plane's fire extinguisher (what?) and blows a hole in the side of the plane, which she flies out of in time. Oh boy, that's a professional assassin right there. Mandy, I like your sinister style.
Just as Jack is about to ditch work and meet up with his wife (who's riding around L.A. with Alan York, looking for their soon-to-be-grounded-for-life daughters), Tony informs Jack of the airplane bombing. So, Jack has to stay at work as Teri and this dude roam about, completely unaware that their daughter is in a purple van going off to another party. Oh, did we mention someone is trying to kill David Palmer? Yeah, this was one busy episode!
Thoughts: Going back to Season 1, Hour 1, this feels like a completely different show than what I just watched last week with the series finale. I see a lot of things that were largely improved over the years. We nitpicked our way though recent years of 24, but this first hour felt so odd in many small ways- and mostly it comes down to Jack Bauer. In this first episode, he's a sarcastic, soft guy. He has yet to go badass on us, and it's almost like this younger version of Jack is a totally different guy. He's so young! He's like veal!
The story is the first hours greatest asset- so much plot was revealed in the smoothest fashion. This is flawless storytelling. I'm really amazed at how organized this all feels. And that's another thing that contrasts it with the recent season. These guys knew exactly what they wanted to see happen, it seems.