Thursday, February 23, 2006


Tonight I watched the TV program "24" for the second time. (Is that really what it's called?) I saw it first a couple of weeks ago, well, half of it anyway, and last week missed it because I somehow blanked that channel. We have about four or five of remote controls with a million buttons on each of them labelled in tiny Japanese. I had picked up two at once and accidentally hit a button on one of them and didn't know which remote control or which button I'd hit. The screen went blank. By the time The Man came home and fixed it for me (by pushing another button, or perhaps the same one) the program had finished. Remote controls make me feel stupid.

Anyway, tonight I managed to watch an entire episode of "24", and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. It was really fun. I didn't have the foggiest idea what was going on, but I can tell you quite a lot about it anyway. Ignorance is no barrier to my infinite wisdom.

Here is what I can tell you:

1. Jake, no, Jack, is a Real Man. You can tell because he never smiles. He is always manly and deadly serious. People refer to him admiringly as a 'born killer.' He just happens to be on the right side. Many people don't realize this, however, so he is always on the run, either from the baddies or from people on his own side who have been led to understand that he is betraying them. He isn't, of course. He is saving the world. Why can't they SEE that?

2. Kate is a Real Woman, and also a Good Woman. You can tell because she always looks anxious and bewildered and never knows what is going on. She is probably terrifically intelligent but is in control of pretty well nothing. Well, she's a woman, isn't she? Her fate is in Jake's hands. Jack. Sorry. (It IS Jack, isn't it? Or is it Jake?) Kate is powerless. She is a pawn. Her role is to look anxious and to be used by both sides, and to be rescued by Jake (or Jack). Then it is her job to be grateful and traumatized.

3. There are some other women who are all sneaky and bitchy about each other, and therefore are also Real Women, only of the other sort. They are Bad, or at least Weak. I don't know who they are, actually, but you can tell they are Real Women. They are duplicitous and sly, spying on each other and telling tales. Men would never do such a thing, and neither would a Good Woman. Even the Bad Men have a code of honour, of sorts. Women don't, and that's why they are inferior and most things are their fault. (Except Kate, of course, who is powerless and therefore cannot be blamed for anything, although I fully expect her to blame herself when anything goes wrong.)

4. The President is a Good Man. You can tell because he is such a good judge of character. He believes in Jack (or Jake) when nobody else will. He knows that Jake (or Jack) is secretly saving the world, and that nobody else is to be trusted. People try to convince him otherwise, and he falters in his belief sometimes, but in the end he will be steadfast. And of course he will be right. That's why he is President and the others aren't. Also, people close to him will try to betray him, either because they are Bad or because they are trying to save him from Jake (or Jack) because they don't believe in Jack (or Jake) the way they should, but they will be wrong and the President will be right. And the world will be saved.

5. The Middle East is one place. You do not need to specify which country you are talking about. They're all the same anyway.

6. Anybody with an accent is instantly highly suspect and cannot be trusted. Some of them turn out to be all right after all, but that is just an accident of fate. They just happen to be on the right side because of something that happened to them to make them want to do the right thing. In other words, if they are on the right side it will be for the wrong reasons. They still can't be trusted. Accents are suspicious by default.

7. The world of "24" resembles the world of Enid Blyton in a lot of ways, especially Enid Blyton's Famous Five. There is more violence, and the good guys are American men rather than British children, and there is no dog (why is there no dog?), but the stakes are the same - keeping the Free World free and saving us from horrible foreigners.

8. The entire world of politics, bureaucracy, and business is teeming with conspiracies. Bad, rich, powerful people want to destroy everything so that they can get more money, or power, or both. Nobody is safe. It is only because of Jake (or Jack) that the world is not a nuclear wasteland. As long as Jack (or Jake) is around, it doesn't matter how rich or powerful the baddies are. They will lose. He always spots the Bad Guys, and will vacuum them up like an industrial strength vacuum cleaner. No speck of badness is safe from him. Well, one or two specks might trick him briefly and get away each week, but that's just so he can get them next week.

9. Jake (or Jack) is, of course, wracked with guilt and angst over all the dubious things he has to do to keep the world safe. This is why he never smiles. It is also why he will never get together with Kate. He will not want to sully such a pure and blameless woman, and not want to put her in danger, although he keeps getting her tangled up in it all anyway and then feeling guilty. But rather than leave the world without his protection, he will keep her at arm's length (kindly, of course), and suffer silently and alone, for all of us. That's just the kind of guy he is.

(Never mind how she feels.)

10. Jack (or Jake) might have brief affairs with Bad Women, but these affairs will never last. The women will deserve danger and abandonment, because they will be Bad, or at least Weak. It might not be obvious at first, but they will be. They will betray him and thus turn out to be conveniently disposable. Then they will probably die horribly. They might repent as they are dying, and he will be sad and manly and regretful about it, but we will know it was their own fault. Some of them will be so evil they won't even repent.

(I have to admit I have seen nothing that even suggests that anything like this has happened or will happen in the two shows I've seen, but I fully expect it to and will be disappointed if it doesn't.)

"24" is really, really fun to watch.

That's all. Feel free to add to this, and also to correct anything I've written above. I expect to be wildly wrong as far as facts go, although I think I've caught the spirit of the program. But be kind, please. Remember I have only seen it twice (once-and-a-half, really) and didn't understand what was going on either time.

Also, can someone tell me - did a bomb go off in L.A.? I think I missed that bit. Not that it really matters. If a bomb went off in L.A. then that just proves that L.A. people is full of bad, or at least disposable, people. If some good people got taken out that just gives Jake (or Jack) something else to not smile about. We can't have him cheering up.

That would spoil the show.


kenju said...

I hear good things about 24 often, but I have never watched it. You are like my hubs when it comes to remotes. He messes them up nearly every day.

Wiccachicky said...

Actually, a student of mine is doing a paper about this right now! She is arguing that 24 constructs a world where "The Middle East" is all one place and that terrorism is geographically contained rather than individually motivated. She also argues that Jack's behaviors are always scripted as "oh, I'm so sorry I have to kill people, but it's for the best" so...really he's just an assassin like the terrorists, but since he does it in the name of American patriotism, it's okay. My partner and I have been fascinated by this show and can't seem to stop watching it, but we switched to DVDs because trying to follow it on TV is crazy if you happen to miss an episode.

Lippy said...

Yup. That pretty much covers the plot for seasons 1, 2 and 3. Fortunately I'm partial to repetition...

BobCiz said...

I watched the first season of 24, or should I say, endured it. I could never get past the glitches in reality that prevented me from letting go and enjoying it. Like, how come no one ever gets hungry or has to go to the bathroom, how come the good guys never run out of ammo, but the bad guys do, and why are the bad guys always too stupid to stay behind cover when the shooting starts, but stand right in the open and invite the bullets to tear them apart? Why do their cellphones never run out of power? Who buys the gas for all those cars that never seem to need to be filled anyway? How did Jack"s (or is it Jake) bosses get to be boss when they are so blatantly stupid and unaware? And most importantly, how did Kiefer Sutherland get the lead roll when he is probably the worst actor on the planet, with the emotional range of a bag of rocks?

I guess you can tell I'm not a fan.

Gordon said...

Suspension of disbelief is certainly required if you are watching 24. It's very cartoon like at times and I have to admit that some scenes make me uncomfortable with their portrayal of the Middle East as a "country" full of terrorists.

But it's bloody good fun to watch most of the time.

Meegan said...

Perfect summation! I'm going to make my husband, who is a HUGE 24 fan, to read your blog about it :)

Barry said...

I wouldn't get too worried about #10 - since the entire series takes place in a single 24 hour period, when its "us" against the entire Middle East, I don't really think we get a particularly fair account of anyone's relationships.

doris said...

Your summary of 24 is way more fun and intereresting the actual series! My daughter and hubby were hooked on it but I just poo-poohed it. Jack (Jake?) seemed to always be crying or looking for a woman and being a total pratt. You wait for the episode when his daughter ..... well you'll know it when you see it because it is a car crash of situation just waiting, nay begging, to happen. In fact I said so and totally shocked daughter and self when it really did. I was only joking but I don't think the programe makers were. Or is that where I so missed the point?