Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The End of the Day

It’s finally happened. The sun has set on television’s award-winning 24, the uniquely formatted series in which nail-biting events occurred in “real time.’

The show chronicled eight very long, extremely bad days for Jack “I-don’t-want-to-kill-you-but-I-will-if-I-have-to” Bauer, counter terrorist agent extraordinaire. More times than we can count, fans of 24 have seen Jack stabbed, shot, electrocuted, tortured, tied up, beaten down, thrown sideways, and left for dead. We have also watched him plagued by lethal nerve gas and throttled by heroin addiction. These were but momentary inconveniences for our steel-plated hero. That fateful clock was ticking, and Jack "We're-running-out-of-time" Bauer always had to move beyond the petty annoyances of brutal terrorists in very short order. After all, he had our country to save. And he succeeded in doing exactly that every time.

The premise of 24—that truly evil, organized forces are plotting the ruin of the U.S.A.—held timely appeal when the show premiered in the wake of September 11. For many of us, that premise stands firm. Over the ensuing seasons, 24 built loyal legions of fans that looked forward to Monday nights and the next episode. We wondered: what would Jack “Listen-to-me-very-carefully” Bauer do next to thwart the murderous villains? How many international laws would he flout in order to keep us safe, warm, and riveted in front of our TVs? (It always turned out to be as many as he had to--which made for some gripping, often gory, viewing.)

Last night the final milliseconds of the concluding 24 hours of Jack “Do-exactly-as-I-say” Bauer’s tour of duty expired, and our indestructible hero —wounded yet again—made his exit. After a touching farewell via satellite to his devoted friend, IT goddess Chloe O'Brian, Jack “I-understand-that-you’re-upset” Bauer sprinted off towards an unknown destination. Only Jack "I'm-fine-keep-moving" Bauer can run full speed with a bloody collection of knife, gunshot, and head wounds.

Let’s hope Jack stumbles upon the studio that’s planning to make the feature film of 24-- and quickly, too. After all, this is real time. The fans are waiting, and there’s not a second to lose.