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24 (Fox, 2001 – 2010)

This unique drama premiered November 6, 2001. It ran for 192 episodes and eight seasons, ending May 24, 2010. In May 2013, Fox announced that in May 2014, 24 would return for 12 episodes entitled 24: Live Another Day. The series won numerous awards and much critical acclaim over its eight year run. At its conclusion, 24 was the longest-running spy-themed TV drama ever, eclipsing Mission: Impossible.

Kiefer Sutherland starred as Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer and is the only character to appear in every episode. The unique thing about 24 (which is how it got its name) is that each episode covered an hour in real time of Bauer’s life and each season was 24 episodes long, therefore a season covered an entire day; this is called the real time method narration. (Mundane daily events or tasks were typically done during the commercial breaks.)

Executive producer Joel Surrow conceived the idea and pitched it via phone call to producer Robert Cochran who initially wasn’t in love with the real time format saying, “Forget it, that’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard, it will never work and it’s too hard.” When they pitched the idea to Fox, they immediately bought it because Fox felt 24 would “move the form of television forward.” At its peak in season five, 24 was pulling in almost 14 million viewers and only its first season (over 8.5 million) and its final season (just over 9 million) pulled in less than 10 million viewers.