As I have been in a lupus flare recently I have been watching a lot of TV. I have become acquainted with 24, a TV drama series about a dramatic day in the life of Counter Terrorist Agent Jack Bauer. This reminds me of watching a series version of James Bond. Completely incredible, very silly, but totally fun and entertaining. I am now on to series 8 and have come up with this set of necessary rules and ingredients for any series of 24.
Jack Knows Best Episodes (several per series)
The people in charge are being really stupid so Jack takes matters into his own hands, disobeys orders and goes and does something completely different. For good measure he recruits several colleagues who start working for him covertly (with suitable meaningful looks in the office). Of course, this is all ok in the end and no one gets prosecuted because he is right.
The Capture Episode
Jack gets captured by the “baddies” (Oh no!). Judging by the frequency this happens, Jack must be a singularly inept special agent. Like James Bond Villains for some reason no one ever just shoots Jack and is done with it. On the plus side, unlike James Bond Villains there isn’t any monologuing and revealing of ultimate plans.
The Amazing Escape Episode
Restoring my faith in his abilities, Jack escapes his captors in a daring move involving a paperclip, a paper cup and a liberal dose of violence.
The Noble Sacrifice Episode (or not)
A situation arises whereby the only solution is for one person to sacrifice themselves for the cause. Of course Jack always volunteers himself. Cue much soul searching and patriotism. However at the last minute someone else jumps into the breach and saves the day (and Jack). Jack is very angry but we get to keep our hero and 24 doesn’t come to an abrupt and early end.
The Mole Episode
After a well rehearsed plan goes desperately wrong, it is revealed there is a mole in the agency. Everyone starts watching everyone else with suspicion. This happens so often I can only conclude the job description includes a tickbox for “spy”.
The Bluff Episode
Much to everyone’s dismay a well trusted and well liked colleague is revealed to be the spy. However later on it will be revealed that this was all a mistake and the spy was someone else. Alternatively they were working under cover and somehow had forgotten to inform the people in charge (a completely understandable oversight).
The Double Bluff Episode
In later series, fans having become used to the bluff scenario, writers introduced the double bluff where it transpired that the person really was a spy/working for the enemy after all.
An old character from a previous series will make an unlikely return despite circumstances from previous series having clearly stated that they had been ruled out of play. In the later series I started awarding bonus points for the “Lazarus effect”, ie dead characters coming back to life.
The Amazing Recovery
Having been captured by the enemy and beat/tortured within an inch of his life (in fact even killed on one occasion), within a few minutes Jack has shrugged it off and is jumping around like an Olympic athlete (am I allowed to say that at the moment or is it copyrighted?). Occasionally the script writers will make a concession to the beating he has received and he will roll a shoulder from time to time and wince, before resuming his acrobatics.
With the whole of the US to choose from, for some reason all baddies and bases are never any further than 20 minutes helicopter ride from Jack. I strongly recommend the baddies review locations of FBI and CTU headquarters and plan accordingly.
The hourly threat
Regardless of events something bad always happens bang on the hour in the life of Jack Bauer. If I were him I would recommend that the FBI and CTU go on heightened alert at that time.
It isn’t over!
After foiling one threat, “something dreadful” always happens and it turns out that “it isn’t over” (hushed dramatic voice required). Of course it isn’t. The 24 episodes haven’t finished yet.
So far all these ingredients have been present in all 7 series I have watched. I will look with interest to see if I find them in series 8. Drinking game anyone?