“Say it again or I’ll break your other wrist”: thoughts on 24

Over the last several months, Michele and I have gotten hooked on the TV show 24. We’re on the last disc of season 4; at this point, I believe that I’ve seen enough of the show to offer the following observations:

  • This show features more “red-shirted ensigns” than all the Star Trek series combined. Whenever Federal Agent Jack Bauer heads off on a mission and decides to bring with him the hitherto-unknown Agent McGivens, you can be sure that Agent McGivens’ sole purpose is to take the first bullet and thus warn Jack that the bad guys are present.
  • At any given time, approximately 45% of the staff at Counter-Terrorist Unit headquarters (where Jack works) is in the direct employ of the bad guys. Next time there’s a terrorist threat, the most effective possible response would be for CTU to immediately arrest all of its own employees and start questioning them. Eventually, one of the many traitors will spill the beans and save Jack precious hours’ worth of skulking around Los Angeles hunting terrorists.
  • Are you romantically involved with Jack Bauer? Are you related to him? Are you his boss or a coworker? Perhaps you dated him in high school, or competed against him at a spelling bee in the fifth grade? I’m sorry to tell you this, but: for the rest of your (short) life, you and everybody you know will be routinely kidnapped, shot, stabbed, held for ransom, blackmailed, beaten, chased, tortured and killed by Jack’s innumerable enemies. (And sometimes by Jack.)
  • CTU is utterly incapable of defending anything from anyone. About every other episode, the following exchange takes place at CTU headquarters:

    Jack: Where’s Kim? You said you’d keep her safe while I was out in the field! Tell me where Kim is or I’ll break your arm!
    Coworker: Take it easy, Jack. She’s totally safe. She’s at the Incredibly Secure Safehouse, and I sent Agents McGivens and VanNeuwenHeisen with her. They’re pros, Jack, you know that.
    Jack [looking relieved]: OK. Thanks.

    What we, the audience, can glean from this conversation is: Agents McGivens and VanNeuwenHeisen are already dead, the Safehouse has been quite thoroughly ransacked, and Kim is once again in the hands of the terrorists. That is, assuming she even got to the safehouse, which brings me to my next observation:

  • If you are traveling to or from CTU headquarters, there is a 75% chance that your vehicle will be ambushed and you will be kidnapped. Whenever somebody says something like “Kim? Oh, she’s on her way back to CTU,” you may assume that her car has already been ambushed and she is once again in the hands of the terrorists.
  • Terrorists: have you captured Agent Jack Bauer? Have you beaten him around a bit, handcuffed him to a pipe somewhere in your hidden base, and left him there while you attend to more pressing matters? My friend, I hate to tell you this, but he has already escaped, acquired heavy weaponry, killed most of your minions, transmitted the location of your base to CTU, called in an airstrike and a SWAT team, and is right now taking aim at you from his hiding place in the ventilation shaft directly above your head.
  • The one sentence you really don’t want to hear from Jack: “You don’t have any more important information, do you?”
  • And last but not least, a final message to would-be terrorists: Jack Bauer is in Los Angeles. Do yourself a favor and find another city upon which to unleash your dastardly schemes.

Jack Bauer, we love you… and we’re a little scared of you.

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4 thoughts on ““Say it again or I’ll break your other wrist”: thoughts on 24

  1. Topher

    I’ve never seen a single episode, but I can tell from this brilliant synopsis that it is *exactly* what I have always thought it was.

  2. Andy

    Given your interest in spies and adventure stories, Topher, you might find it a worthwhile watch. Despite my mockery, I find “24” to be quite enjoyable, even if the narrative devices it uses become familiar after a few seasons.

  3. Bill

    Excellent breakdown of the show. You are correct in every observation.
    But are you sure it’s wise to poke fun of Jack Bauer? Even though I’m relatively sure he’s a fictional character, I don’t know that I’d want to run that risk.
    (Chloe is currently downloading your location to Jack’s PDA.)

  4. Andy

    Oh, don’t worry about me, Bill. I’m pretty sure I could take Jack Bauer in a fight. You don’t play Top Secret for so long and not learn a thing or two about the martial arts.

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