When I first got out of treatment in NYC, I told my new girlfriend that I hardly ever watch TV. It was the beginning of the 90s and to impress her, I was trying to affect an intelligent, discriminating, new age kind of guy. The reality was I couldn’t afford a TV. A few weeks later on a Saturday morning I blew my cover when I woke up at her apartment, took the remote in hand, and eagerly tuned into World Wide Wrestling Federation.
“I thought you didn’t watch TV?” she asked. I chuckled demurely.
But these days I really don’t watch that much TV. That’s no lie. Between my kid’s shows and my wife’s love of the Mariners, my puny little Tivo hardly has space for anything else. Reality TV leaves me cold. More importantly, I realized back in NYC that if I ever wanted to accomplish anything, I had to give up something, and TV is the great time waster. But I do believe there is a time for everything, even a time to waste time. When I do watch TV, I look for something very compelling: Sopranos, The Office, or maybe The West Wing.
How, then, do I find myself watching 24?
In some ways, the show is utterly ridiculous. Jack Bauer gets tossed from an airplane at the start of one episode and he finishes that episode intact, with an itty bitty limp. The staff of the Counter Terrorist Unit rivals the crew of the original Star Trek series for their use of technical mubo-jumbo in dialogue: Open up a secure socket to the president on the double. Initiate inter-departmental protocols and reconfigure the routers. And make sure you TRIPLE FILTER EVERYTHING! To enjoy the show, you have to suspend disbelief, like you did when Scotty explains about the dylithum crystals and how “She cann’a take any more ‘a this.”
Thanks to the miracle of BitTorrent files, I have already seen the first four hours of the new season of 24, which was leaked to the Web last week and began airing last night and continues (I think) tonight. I’m excited. If the first four hours are any indication, this season could be the best of the bunch.
Why is 24 such a compelling show? Because the producers seem to understand the reasons why people watch and never stray very far from the original premise. I was watching an episode last year and the first few minutes was either building some sort of new plot point or resolving an old plot point. I was getting tired. Suddenly at minute eleven Jack Bauer storms into the White House and starts punching out the Chief of Staff.
I thought: fuckin’ A! This is why I watch 24.