Me ‘n Jack Bauer: My 24 Marathon

24 Season 7 Trailer

A dear friend of mine who loves Jack Bauer more than even the other Jack is–as one might expect–very excited about the upcoming season premier. So excited that he’s having a small party of like minded friends to come over and share the moment with him…I think that’s very sweet and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Except….except, I don’t really know anything about 24. When he talks about Jack, I nod knowingly but I’ve just been faking it.

So, cuz I love my friend, I decided to become conversant with–nay, knowledgeable about, familiar with, aware of–that man of action with a truckload of personal problems, Jack Bauer. And I was going to do it before the season premier. Too bad I made that vow and accepted the invitation before I realized there were 6 seasons.

I ordered them all from the Seattle Public Library, and lucky me! They all came in at once. My mission now: finish all 24 episodes in two weeks, the due date for all six seasons. Do you realize what that means? That’s like 150 hours of tv watching or something–and this is someone who doesn’t watch a whole lot of TV. Okay, Rachel Maddow, but that’s different.

After the first few hours of the first season, I was a little horrified by the prospect.  I don’t know what I thought…I guess I never really thought about it at all: 24 means twenty-four hours. Each season is 24 hours long. Hello?

So I started to strategize–first seek patterns, then figure a path to completion. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

I’m now in Season 3 and here’s what I’ve learned (probably every first year film student at USC knows this but it was news to me): You must watch the first episode. They lay down the main players, the crisis, the complicating factors that will be in play for the whole season. You may have to watch a good chunk of the second episode as well. But then you’ll want to go into full speed-view mode which on my laptop consists of this:

  • keep the menu bar open on the full screen view–you’ll need it for fast action forwarding
  • each episode consists of the following three things: What, How, Twist
    • The What: that moves each plot thread forward
    • The How: you can skip most of this, it’s the filler we watch really intently even though all we really want to know is the What
    • The Twist: that’s the unexpected thing they throw in right before the chapter ends that you can probably catch up on in the next chapter’s opening What
  • After the first couple minutes of the chapter, click the forward button. You’ve got the What and you can skip to the next chapter.

If you do this quickly, it’s like one of those old fashioned cartoon flip books that you pfffftttt through really fast and see the characters actually move. Watching 24 like this has the same effect: if you watch 24 like Jack Bauer would watch 24–moving very quickly and intuitively from the first few minutes to the next chapter, you can watch an entire season in under two hours.

It’s still too long, and I may well skip an entire season or two if they don’t grab me in the first 5 minutes of the season premier, but I’m becoming quite fond of Jack–and am feeling confidently conversant about him. He’s a complex guy.

Funny what we happily do for dear friends.

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