The TV show 24 signalled a novel variation on storytelling for TV drama that required a commitment to real-time drama over a 24 hour time period with each of the 24 episodes in the season covering the action contained within one hour (or as near a 24 hour coverage as commercials-riddled TV would allow.) This TV show also required a heavy commitment from the viewer, who had to try and follow all the action taking place through the whole season (currently standing at four seasons.) Composer Sean Callery has been tasked with providing music for all the seasons to date meaning that he has been called upon to score a variety of different locales and situations.
Personally, I was glued to Season One, particularly because of the real-time format but that enthusiasm waned quickly with the Season Two and beyond. Unfortunately, my interest in the music receded even quicker and now, I only really recall the intro synth motif that introduced each episode. Varese Sarabande’s release of Callery’s Emmy Award-winning, synth-based scores for the first three seasons allows me to revisit the music, but more importantly, feeds fans craving for music for Fox’s hit show. Varese’s release can only hope to scratch the surface of Callery’s contribution to the show, but the CD gets off to an interesting start with a fully-fleshed out presentation of the ““24” Theme” (including the remembered intro synth motif) and ends with the Season Three finale (“Season Three Finale / Jack’s Humanity”.) The producers of the CD have taken great care sequencing the remaining seventeen cues into what they gauge to be the best all-round listening experience.
There’s an overriding feel from this CD of rhythm-based propulsive action that’s generated by the cue selection’s emphasis on strong rhythmic beats that undoubtedly strengthens the always-present sense of urgency in the show, driving forward the passage of time or emphasising the race against time faced by the characters and their situations. Cues such as “Up and Down Stairs” (with its driving brass techno feel), “Jack On The Move” (rave-styled beats) and “Alexis” (grungy beats) are prime examples of what this CD, as a whole, has to offer. Callery shows with cues such as “Jack In The Limo” and “Jack and Kim Trying To Reconnect” that the rhythmic emphasis can also effectively underscore the more emotional aspects called for by the plot.
Supplementary score colouring is supplied by the use of additional solo instruments such as acoustic guitar (“Salazar’s Theme”, providing a Mexican flavour to the underscore) and, what sounds like, electric duduk (“In Pursuit of Kyle”, introducing a little ethnicity to the mix.) Electric violin (“Jack On The Move”) and a mournful female vocal sample (“Jack’s Revenge At The Docks”) also feature, with the vocals adding an emotional facet to the score. Use of piano – especially for, what Callery in the excellent liner notes calls, the “Bauer family theme” – is the main tool used to heighten the emotional passages in the show and features prominently in cues such as “Jack Tells Kim He’s Not Coming Back”, “Jack and Kim Trying To Reconnect” and “Season One Finale / Terry’s Death”. Finally, a patriotic solo brass passage highlights (then) Senator Palmer’s resolute stance in isolation (“Palmer’s Theme”.) The composer uses a number of musical styles to give variety to the propulsive cues and, as mentioned, variety is also provided by the inclusion of several solo instruments and vocals. But the overall feel from the CD is of cue after cue of unrelenting techno or rock beats that don’t really gel together as a score or a rewarding listening experience. This may be due to some extent to the producers’ insistence on mixing the music from the three seasons.
Callery provides excellent liner notes that details the action each cue covers and there’s additional information that allows the listener to resequence the cues into series and episode chronological order. This improves the listening experience enormously and better highlights how the music develops through the seasons (e.g., highlighting the use of the “Bauer family theme” from the end of Season One (“Season One Finale / Terry’s Death”) and then being featured prominently in Season Two (“Jack and Kim Trying To Reconnect” and “Jack Tells Kim He’s Not Coming Back”.) Fans of the show should rush out for this, as it seems to effectively sum up the overall techno feel of the show. For the rest of us, hearing the extended ““24” Theme” is interesting and some of the more emotional cues are effective, but other than that this CD is more likely to disappoint.
- “24” Theme (4:39)
- Up and Down Stairs (2:44)
- L.A. At 9:00 A.M. (1:57)
- Jack On The Move (2:19)
- Jack’s Revenge At The Docks (4:02)
- Kim and Terry’s Escape From The Safe House (2:03)
- Jack In The Limo (2:41)
- In Pursuit of Kyle (2:39)
- Salazar’s Theme (1:54)
- ‘Copter Chase Over L.A. (2:32)
- Jack Tells Kim He’s Not Coming Back (2:12)
- The Bomb Detonates (2:38)
- Palmer’s Theme (1:50)
- Alexis (2:04)
- Coliseum Finale (1:56)
- Amnesia (2:14)
- Jack and Kim Trying To Reconnect (3:05)
- Season One Finale / Terry’s Death (5:33)
- Season Three Finale / Jack’s Humanity (2:14)
Running Time: 49:58
Varese Sarabande (2004)