Wednesday, March 7, 2007

24 Hours of... 24

Originally Posted: 01/12/07

I did a very bad thing last night.

Having absorbed approximately 350 consecutive previews for the upcoming season of 24 over the course of the Wild Card Playoff Round this past weekend, I went ahead and borrowed the entire previous season (Season 5) from my good buddy Foley, with the hopes of getting caught up in time for the two-hour, two-night premiere.

I should preface this by letting you know that I used to laugh at the people who were addicted to this show. I used to call Foley up in the middle of the week, ask him what he was up to, and if he had borrowed one of the seasons from a colleague at work, he would say something to the effect of: "I'm in the middle of my fourth episode of the night. I can't talk. Jack's about to confront Salazar..." And then I wouldn't hear from him for about a week, at which point he'd call me, completely drained and exhausted, raving about the re-invention of Ace Merrill and how I had to start watching this show. I'd usually call him a loser, and point out that he'd just wasted exactly 24 hours of his life, and we'd get on with our everyday routines until he landed himself another stash of DVDs.

Last year, at about this time, I was in the middle of watching the Pittsburgh Steelers upset the Indianapolis Peyton Mannings, thanks in large part to the actions of a particularly maligned former Wildcat, best summarized by Bill Simmons when he wrote:

The Jim Ross Award for Best Moment that Could Have Been Made into a Fantastic Story Line

To Mike Vanderjagt for shanking that season-ending field goal, which looked like one of Ali Haji Sheikh's efforts if you were playing the 1982 Giants at the All-Madden Level and completely screwed up the kicking wheel. After all of Vanderjagt's problems with Manning over the years, I kept waiting for the postgame press conference where Vanderjagt pretended to be upset, answered a few questions, and then suddenly Bill Cowher's music started playing (with Cowher dressed as Sergeant Slaughter), followed by Vanderjagt breaking into a big smile, and then the two of them hugging as Jim Ross screamed "No! No! No! My God, no!" Then Vanderjagt would rip off his Colts jersey to reveal a Steelers jersey underneath. This would have been one of the five greatest moments in sports history.

Now, throughout the course of this completely enthralling game, it was the same thing as we'll surely see this weekend: comercial break after commercial break of relentless teasers for Fox's flagship show. At some point, Foley called me and implored me to give the show a chance. I said that I'd see, because I had a lot to do that night (actually, that's a total lie. And now that I think of it, there wouldn't have been any previews for 24 during the Steelers-Colts game because the AFC games are on CBS. All of the previews would have been during the Panthers-Bears game which immediately followed, but honestly: is it possible to remember anything from the '06 playoffs other than that Polamolu interception being called back, Bettis fumbling the ball on the 1-inch line, a 5'10 corner being unable to get past a guy who doesn't even have the sense to wear a helmet on his motorcycle, and the ensuing shank job by the "idiot kicker" who likes to "get liquored up and run his mouth off" {words spoken by a consumate team leader, it should be noted}... but you get the jist of it. NFL playoffs = previews for 24.)

But then the good people at Fox pulled a dirty trick out of their sleeve, because as soon as JB was finished dismantling one of the most startling sports weekends in recent memory, they cut directly into the season premiere of 24, and 30 seconds later Palmer was dead, and I was like Tommy in Trainspotting: irrevocably hooked from the instant I got a taste. (And aren't they just so clever, giving you 4 episodes in two nights, and then cutting you back to 1 a week as you shake from withdrawal symptoms and go searching for crawling baby Bauers down fetid Scottish toilets... The bastards! Why can't they just sell porn to eighth graders like every other decent human being.)

Making matters more complicated was the fact that I took off for South America halfway through the season, having to cut myself off cold turkey and forthwith avoid any and all internet sites that might make any kind of an offhand reference to the show.

But I managed to score some metaphorical smack this week, and after watching two episodes Tuesday night and beginning to feel the itch, I played hockey Wednesday night and had a few beverages afterward, making it impossible to concentrate on such important viewing. By Thursday afternoon, I began to realize that there might not be time enough time for me to get the remaining eleven episodes in. Afterall, this weekend for me involves a night in Niagara Falls Friday, playoff football Saturday afternoon, Robert Gordon at the Cadillac Lounge Saturday night, and then the Pats-Chargers Superbowl Sunday... and then an entirely new season of Bauer. There was only one thing to do.

So I stayed up last night until 5 o'clock in the morning, watching the remaining 11 episodes, and loving every crack-addicted second of it. I felt like James Frey before he checked himself into that Minnesota rehab clinic, the only difference being that these things actually happened to me. It was fantastic. I'm on my second large Starbucks of the day right now, and there's a good chance I'll fall asleep behind the wheel at some point tonight, but it was worth every second of sleep deprivation. Foley, just like with the Boy George album, you couldn't have been more correct. I'll ensure I have those discs back to you for this weekend.

Just one more 24 note. I've never been the kind of person to write spoofs, but don't you think it would be hilarious if someone did a spoof on 24, where all of the action takes place in, say, 1982, so that nobody has a cell phone on them, so every time Jack needs to talk to Chloe (who would have a perm and be wearing a mauve blouse with shoulder pads, of course) he has to run to a pay phone? And then maybe he wouldn't have a quarter on him so he'd have to bum one off a homeless drunk at 3:30 in the morning, screaming "THE SAFETY OF OUR NATION DEPENDS ON IT!!". And then, since he obviously wouldn't have a PDA on him, every time he needed a schematic he'd have to drive around looking for a Kinko's that was open all night, and then he'd have to wait around for the fax to come through, and when the paper would jam he could pull out his gun and hold it to the head of the guy working the counter who speaks zero english, screaming "YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS TO FIX THAT PAPER JAM OR I WILL PUT A BULLET IN YOUR BRAIN!!!"... And there could be cameo appearances by the guys in Miami Vice, and it would be a great excuse to play a lot of Journey and Foreigner and Hall and Oates... And of course, Jack Bauer would have to have a crazy emo coif going with fantastic bangs... and he would most certainly have a blonde mustache. What could be better than that?

Would somebody please put some kind of a screenplay together? I think the world needs this.

1 comment:

Sean McCallum said...

Absolutely terrific. However, if you even breathe one word about what happens after about episode five, I will summon all the JB-esqueness within me, and get biblical on your ass. As Keifer once whispered to Chris Chambers and Gordie LaChance when launching his improbable career, while holding a switch blade, of course: "You're dead".

I look forward to three more days with the man.

--Mike Foley