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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    So, 24. I had never seen the show till this weekend, though it's up to the fifth season. I know the premise - anti-terrorist guy has a really bad day - but it took Dave Barry's demented recaps of last season to convince me to try it. Fox TV aired two 2-hour episodes for opening weekend, which takes us up to 11 a.m. That means that four hours into his day, Jack Bauer has had his cover as Harmless Oil-Rig Guy blown, has been framed for the assassination of the former president, has kidnapped his girlfriend's sullen 15-year-old son to keep the kid from going to the cops, sneaked into the murder site wearing a disguise consisting of sunglasses and a stolen ID even though the building is crawling with FBI agents, and thwarted a hostage crisis at Ontario Airport. (My reaction: what, Burbank wasn't good enough?) Oh, and managed to bond with the kid.

    Midway through the first episode, I realized what this show really is: Hollywood has dusted off the adventure serial format and updated it. That's all this is. Most of the viewing public is too young to have experienced cliffhanger-type shows... unless you remember Batman, a parody of same, which I insist doesn't count. That's why this show is such a success. Throw in a healthy slug of paranoia, computer screenshots, cell phones that can do damn near anything, blood and gunshots and you're all set. If only they'd named Keifer Sutherland's character Jack Armstrong instead of Jack Bauer, it would have been perfect. Once you realize this, it's fun to hear Jack Bauer say code phrases like, "I am in a FLANK TWO position!" and watch it go right over the terrorists' heads, when even I could figure out that he might as well be holding up a cue card that says, "DON'T LISTEN TO ME THIS GUY IS HOLDING A GUN TO MY HEAD."

    So next week, return with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear... or possibly in the not too distant future, it's kind of hard to tell... and give 24 a try. Cheer Jack on, hiss the villains and try to figure out what the heck is in those mysterious canisters the bad guys were unpacking at the end of Episode 4.



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