Just follow these basic guidelines:
- Have Jack Bauer look serious and angry at least 3 times per episode
- Mention either or all of the following topics at least once: Jack being kidnapped to China, Jack’s wife dying in season 1, Jack’s daughter not talking to him, or the actions of the various Presidents that have either helped or screwed Jack over in previous seasons.
- Present the President with a major, international political dilemma that evolves and changes over the course of the entire day, making it seem like no one would ever, ever want to be the POTUS
- Have a questionable character do something that seems nefarious and perhaps bad yet turns out to be benign and borne from genuine and morally sound concerns
- Take said character and make him an important member of catching “the bad guys.”
- Have at least one major conspiracy that runs throughout the show. Have that be the basic premise of each episode
- Plant the seeds then milk the possibility of a second conspiracy that basically questions the reality of the main conspiracy (thereby turning the secondary conspiracy into the real one)
- Make Jack either a crusader against the primary conspiracy or a possible pawn in the secondary conspiracy
- If Jack hasn’t gotten all bad-ass and killed at least 5 people in 3 or more episodes, make him do that. Make sure that he has only X bullets in his gun and kill at least 2X people.
- At the end of the episode, don’t end on a cliffhanger (because when do we have a cliffhanger in life that occurs right at the top of the hour, anyway? I mean, this is supposedly to be realistic!)
- Instead, make it so that an important issue needs just 5 more minutes to resolve, but end it there.
That’s it. Follow those rules and you will have a basic episode of 24…