Monday, April 24, 2006


It’s Monday, which in the past few years has morphed from the ho-hum start of the work week into an eagerly anticipated drama date. At 9:00 P.M., Jack Bauer of “24,” grittily acted by Kiefer Sutherland in the role of his career, electrifies television screens across the county. Untold millions of couch potatoes will be immobilized for a digitally measured, real-time hour.

I’ve decided that Jack Bauer, superhero extraordinaire, impervious to bullets, bombs, torture, poison gas, drugs, handcuffs, and a plethora of other unidentified weapons and constraints, resembles no one so much as that resilient hero of ancient Scotland, William Wallace, who was fiercely portrayed by Mel Gibson in 1995’s “Braveheart.”

Think about it. The similarities between the two men are stunning. DISCLAIMER: If you haven’t watched Season One of "24" yet, stop reading now, before I enumerate the Top Ten similarities:

Both Bauer and Wallace:

1. Lost his wife at the hands of the enemy
2. Became driven, fearless, and ferocious because of this tragedy
3. Are natural born leaders who inspire their followers to action
4. Are relentlessly dedicated to protecting their homelands
5. Can outsmart the highest ranking veteran of the enemy forces
6. Are indifferent to physical pain suffered in the line of duty
7. Think fast and calmly, directing events in a panic-filled crisis
8. Fight the pitfalls of their own establishment (Bauer: CTU Division; Wallace: Robert the Bruce), as well as the enemy
9. Will break any rule to achieve their goals
10. Invariably choose the morally correct course of action—no matter how brutal it appears

When asked by someone unfamiliar with the show—a rare encounter these days—to describe Jack Bauer, I sum up his character this way: William Wallace with a cell phone. It’s easy to visualize Mel Gibson’s Braveheart driving Jack Bauer’s SUV, careening around dark corners in the depths of a threatening Los Angeles night, being directed on his cell to the next dangerous coordinate. And it’s equally simple to picture Jack Bauer leading a massive charge into hand-to-hand combat with Wallace’s sword and battle ax.

I’ve read that Kiefer Sutherland’s contract has been extended for three years. That’s great news for the growing legions of “24” fans. Hopefully, the ultimate fate of our hero will be one similarity Bauer and Wallace don’t share.