"24 Heures Chrono": A Cult Series, Jack, We Miss You

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For nearly 10 years, Agent Jack Bauer saved the world and reinvented action series. 24 Heures chrono, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, has not aged a bit.

So when everything seems hopeless, it's only Jack Bauer left. The agent of the Counterterrorism Unit (CAT) has already faced a virus - it was in season 3 - and knew how to get away with it. All this, imagine, in one day!


Context of the birth of the "24 Heures Chrono" series.

In 2001, a few weeks after the September 11 attacks, Fox launched a series that would mark the whole of the 2000s. A somewhat particular action series: the unit of time is respected since the exploits are followed in real time of a federal agent who must save in 24 hours - 24 episodes of an hour - his country.

The concept works perfectly and we are quickly taken by the frenetic pace of the series, the nerve of the scriptwriting choices and these addictive endings of the episode. In the first seasons, the program is carried, of course, by its hero (the impeccable Kiefer Sutherland), but also by a perfect cast: the presidential candidate David Palmer, guardian angel of Bauer, the devoted teammates of the CAT ( Tony, Michelle, Chloe, then Bill), stubborn villains, deceitful and manipulative advisers.

The first season is admirable and the end upsets the traditional codes of “happy ends”. The pattern will repeat itself eight times and, despite numerous repetitions and increasingly glaring inconsistencies (Tony's return from the dead, the unbearable Kim, the pathetic season 6), we will always support Jack Bauer.

The reasons for the success of the American series.

Why do we love this agent with unconventional methods, excessive use of torture and binary vision? Because he looks like us.

Kiefer Sutherland is not a physical freak. Despite his exploits - he saved America eight times and Europe once - he remains deeply unhappy.

Finally, there is a strong feeling of injustice: Jack may be always right, we do not believe him. We hunt him down, abandon him, betray him, deliver him to the enemy. Bauer faces the elite and the deep state (the "deep state" denounced by Trump). He's our Superman with no superpowers - but with a gun. In mid-season 8, Bauer spins and decides to take revenge.

We jubilate and we throw "go ahead, Jack, fuck them" (yes, the vision of an episode of 24 brings out in us our most primitive instincts). We apologize to James Bond, John McClane or John Rambo: they have never managed to create this symbiosis with their audience. We don't like Jack, we support him, we encourage him, we idolize him.

Bush Presidencies Series.

Along with Season 1, Day 5 is arguably the craziest season in 24 - and even, dare we, in playoff history. In the first 15 minutes, three main historical figures are brought to the table; Jack Bauer becomes public enemy number one; President Logan (a kind of cut and paste of Richard Nixon played by the bluffing Gregory Itzin) is revealed to be involved in a conspiracy; the end is of an intensity seldom reached. This brings us to the climax of the series. The following season will be chaotic before a flashback for day 7.

Series of the Bush years, 24 will have placed in the Oval Office two African-American presidents - before Obama -, a president, made the trial of torture (season 7), demonstrated the links between political power and economic circles. So, of course, series like Homeland have succeeded in wearing the colors of action and espionage. But none has so far succeeded in making up for the end of 24 Heures chrono.

We miss its density, its madness, its eccentricities, its paranoia. Jack retired ("drop the gun", Jack), it's a less fun world that awaits us. And, as there is a little more than 15 days of confinement, let him resume service. We all need, especially at the moment, a hero.

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