Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I think it's time to admit that I have an addiction. A serious compulsion that is starting to interfere with my daily life. I think about it all day. It keeps me up late at night. I'm irritable and anxious, waiting for when I can get my next fix. And when I do, when I am finally able to satisfy the need, I can never stop with just one. I can never get enough.

What is the source of this powerful addiction? It's not what you might think. You can cross drugs, booze, sex and chocolate off the list.

The source, in general, is the series "24", in particular the glorious Jack Bauer. Let's take the series first. In case you've been living in a cave (or the White House), "24" uses the unique narrative device of following events pretty much in real-time. Each series covers a single spectacularly eventful day in the life of CTU - the Counter Terrorism Unit. The CTU agents race to discover and foil the baddies while they negotiate the intricate twists of their personal lives.

The first series of "24" was a ground-breaking masterpiece of television history. The second series was a suprisingly good sequel. The third had a little bit of shark jumping (Attention television writers: Baby = Jumping the Shark. Write that down and remember it) but still managed to provide compelling entertainment.

Now we are deep in thrall to the fourth series. Because we are such addicts, we do not watch the show as it regularly airs on television. We could never handle the week-to-week suspense and would resent planning our lives around a television show. We scrupulously avoid all spoilers and anxiously wait for the release of the DVD box set. Peter's brother gave their dad the box set while we were on our trip. We came back home to find that we had 8 shows of catching up to do. The first night back, we watched 4 episodes. The second night, we watched 6. (We are a family of addicts - Peter and I watched disc 2 upstairs on the computer while his dad was downstairs watching disc 3.)

Peter gets agitated sometimes about the decrease in the show's quality. He says that it's crap television and that we've just been conditioned to crave it, like mice pressing a lever to get a snack. I think it's still good television and from a story-telling standpoint, I can learn a lot from how they ratchet up tension and use cliff hangers to grab their audience. The show heavily subscribes to the writing maxim "if there's a gun on the mantle, your character better use it." The show works because it creates an insatiable desire to know what happens next.

So, Jack Bauer. Any girl would want to be Jack's girlfriend, except for the tiny detail that his girlfriends usually end up dead. He's the perfect mix of bad boy and good boyfriend. He can be all empathetic-concerned-voice-crinkly-eyed with his girlfriend and then turn around and electrocute a suspect to obtain information. He's a thug, but he's working for the good of national security so his behavior is acceptable. Chicks dig the bad boys and the only thing chicks dig more than that are bad boys who are good at heart.

For the record, I do not find Keifer Sutherland all that attractive, but Jack Bauer, well, it just goes to show that it's all about the personality. (I had a similar thing with Jimmy Smits and Bobby Simone.)

We've raced past the 12th hour and are working our way through the second half of the season. I am starting to get a little melancholic about it, since each episode brings us closer to the end. But I can't stop now and I can't slow down. I am desperately anxious to find out what happens next.


At 13 September 2005 at 12:18, Blogger Lyss said...

Heard about all the rioting in Northern Ireland.....Must be upsetting.

At 14 September 2005 at 03:40, Blogger The Aupair said...

Never watched an episode of '24' but am quite addicted to 'Alias'. I find Jack Gerber (who plays Jack Bristow) the bees-knees! Sigh.

At 18 September 2005 at 02:59, Blogger Career Guy said...

What strikes me about the 24 stories is the absolute ruthlessness of the baddies (killing anyone remorselessly just like squashing an ant), which kind of means Jack too can do anything he wants to further the cause.

For me lately it's been (Lyss, note the "it's") Law and Order. I can watch four episodes in a row, even if I've seen them before.

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