Missed Chance

The show on television called “24” has an interesting format. It is sort of meant to be in real time, and so each episode – roughly an hour long, including advertisements – charts what took place in an hour of a particular day. A whole season is one day. A very harrowing day for the characters in the show, particularly agent Jack Bauer. They are part of an counter-terrorist unit (CTU) trying to save the America from various highly complicated terrorist plots. The terrorists are obsessed with Los Angeles, it seems, which is convenient given that the unit is based in Los Angeles. Having watched two or three seasons of the show now, I’ve also come to appreciate the fact that the terrorist plots hand over to more and more complex and dastardly ones as the show goes along through the day. And the “controlling mind” bad guy earlier in the day is hardly ever the worst and most dastardly person our heroes will meet. There’ll be a really really bad guy along later on with an even worse plan than the one before lunchtime, and so forth. Another reason that it’s lucky that they’re obsessed with Los Angeles, since there’s an excellent supply of theatre and television actors here to be cast in various partsa.

What I’ve really been hoping to see is an episode of the show when Jack Bauer is not saving America/LA. Instead, he’s just… chillin’. Imagine it now:

  • 21:03 Jack Bauer, dressed in dressing-gown and slippers, unwraps and bite into the burrito he got on the way home at that really good burrito stand.
  • 21:10 Jack Bauer, sitting on sofa, burrito in one hand, tv remote in the other, flips channels for a while.
  • 21:23 Jack Bauer decides to settle on a tv show to watch …. a rerun of an episode of last season’s Alias, say.
  • 21:48 Jack Bauer checks his phone for messages from CTU. Nothing.
  • 22:05 Jack Bauer goes and stands with the fridge door open trying to decide what to eat and drink next. He finds only a beer, some mouldy cheese, and half an old lime.

And so on…

But there’s never an hour like that. Never. Last night I decided to catch up on the new season. I’d missed the first two hours but had the next two recorded. Somewhere in hour four, Jack has to do something terrible (I won’t say what, in case you plan on seeing it) that pretty much brings him to the brink of giving it all up. For a moment there, I thought we’d get to see an episode of the above form. But no. Moments later, the terrorists do some terrible act (of which I will not speak) and the episode ends. We know for sure that Jack will be resolved to rejoin the fight, and our chance to see him vegging in front of the tv is lost, at least for this season… Oh well.


aAs a parenthetical remark, I should also mention that since some of the actors playing the bad guys end up doing public readings of the play that Oliver Mayer and I are writing (see here, and since that post we had Gregory Itzin (24’s President Logan) and Tony Plana (a shadowy bad guy – Omar- from season 4 at the readings done at the Pasadena Playhouse last Summer), I find I’m getting clues as to who the cast of future readings might be by watching the show.

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