More From The New Yorker

May 20, 2014 6:10 AM

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Guess who else is in London? The U.S. President, James Heller (William Devane), who is there to negotiate a military-base deal with the British Prime Minister (played, in a funny stroke of casting, by Stephen Fry). This is the most important military-base deal in history, or at least it seems that way, since Heller is staking his Presidency (or something) on getting it done, and doing so despite being in fragile health, or, as his chief of staff (Tate Donovan) keeps putting it, in a “compromised state.” President Heller is the target of the drone-wielding terrorist, and his death “on foreign soil,” we’re told a few times, would lead inexorably to a world war. Sounds plausible. Wait, war between whom exactly? Who cares, there’s no time!

“24” premièred on Fox on November 6, 2001, not quite two months after 9/11. In its first episode, a terrorist blew up a plane. It’s easy now to forget how significant that first season was, both from a technical perspective—with its use of simulated real time and split-screen action—and in the way t...

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