Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It's been called the most innovative TV show ever: known for its captivating blend of drama, politics, and violence; tension-building split screen views; the "real-time" clock; and the clever fact that each season is composed of 24 hour-long episodes in a sequential 24-hour day.

It's not like I watch a lot of TV. When I do, I tend to go for stuff on PBS like Sherlock Holmes, network drama like NCIS, Criminal Minds, maybe a little House, SNL, and stuff on Comedy Central like The Daily Show. I don't go for American Idol, Lost, or Two and a Half Men (unless Elvis Costello is making a guest appearance). I did enjoy a brief infatuation with Mad Men (might have something to do with Christina Hendricks? (I am only human)). I do watch the occasional Notre Dame football game and some other sports. But by and large, I prefer writing and reading to watching TV.

With those taste parameters in mind, I confess: Fox TV's long-running action drama "24" was the most gripping, suspenseful program ever.  I am completely addicted to it (yes, present tense). The only other program for which I ever bothered to look up the episode guide was CBS' NUMB3RS, and that was mostly because I wanted to continue sharing that show with my then-13 year old daughter while I was deployed to Iraq.

"24" was perfect for its time, the post-9/11 period from the fall of 2001 through the historic elections in 2008 and into the spring of 2010. Considering the real-world events of the day, the need for a counter terrorism unit like the one featured in "24" seemed all too real to me. "THE WORLD NEEDS HIM NOW MORE THAN EVER." Indeed. The parallels between "24," the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), and my life as an Army officer stationed in the Pentagon were at times mind-blowing. I don't see myself as the Jack Bauer character but I know some people who could teach him a thing or two. Nor do I consider Jack a kind of alter ego, doing what I wish I could do, a la James Bond--though I am also a James Bond / Jason Bourne fan. No, I relate to "24" as one of the computer geeks in the CTU, someone who stays off-screen but is indispensable to mission accomplishment. Or maybe in my dreams I am one of the show's writers.... In any case, this show got (gets?) under my skin.

When I saw an "Everything Must Go" sign outside the neighborhood Blockbuster I had to go in. After much frantic searching and pawing through the remnant bins I got a great deal on scavenged complete sets of Seasons 3, 4, and 6, and Redemption, the movie that preceded Season 7. I could only find odds and ends of the other seasons and left them for other fans. Complete sets of the other seasons are available on eBay ($15 to $35 plus postage) for about what I ended up paying ($13.50 to $16), much less than the original retail price ($50 per season for Seasons 1-7 and $60 for Season 8). I prefer to get complete sets and I can "always" pick up seasons 1, 2, 5, 7, and 8 on auction.

We'll see. Some day, any day--often turns into never....

One thing I like almost as much as a really good story is stumbling upon a really good deal in the spur of the moment. Plus, they threw in these great shelf markers for free...

Bottom Line: I want to explain why "24" is more than a TV show to me. That'll take more than a single post. In subsequent posts, I will write a bit about each season and the parallels to real events and events in my life.