It's a well-known fact among my friends that I don't enter into anything halfway-- when it comes to music, clothes, books, entertainers, avocados-- whatever-- I will envelop myself in it as much as possible, at least until the next thing comes along.
So when my roommate casually suggested last spring that I might enjoy the television phenomenon that is 24, I should have known that watching the first episode -- even just 42 minutes worth-- would trigger an addiction to the series (and its main character Jack Bauer) far more powerful than even Britney Spears' love of Cheetos.
For those who haven't yet reached televisional enlightenment, 24 is a show with episodes shot in real time (i.e. 7-8am) featuring Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), an agent who (most of the time) works at Los Angeles' Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU). As each episode is 60 minutes long (without commercials, an average of 43 minutes of actual footage), each season has 24 episodes (obvs.), and there are five seasons on DVD now, I can say with certainty that I watched approximately 5,160 minutes of the series this past winter, not including the disc's special features or behind-the-scenes episodes. Now that Day 6 is on, Monday nights are put on special reserve for the show. Clearly, I need help.
That said, is there anything on television more satisfying these days than watching Kiefer Sutherland take down the bad guys (or at least break their fingers one by one)? Bad things happen all the time; it just seems like these characters solve the world's problems more efficiently. I'm among the least violent/militant people I know, but there's a certain appeal to the CTU way of life. This show also puts things in perspective: are you in a row with one of your friends? Jack Bauer's friends are trying to kill him. Are you tired from staying out too late the night before? Jack Bauer hasn't slept in a week. Are you sore from your workout? Jack Bauer just escaped from a Chinese prison camp. You think you had a bad day at work? Jack Bauer's is far worse.
The 24 obsession level in my apartment seems to have reached a saturation point when my roommate had dream about Jack Bauer the other night. No, not Kiefer (which you could understand); Jack. In her three-hour dream (her estimate), she and Jack were hunting down Saddam Hussein in a school and country club. It's unclear if Saddam was actually defeated in the end, but there did seem to be a lot of ass-kicking in general. Intervention, anyone?
Given that this has been the Year of Bauer so far, you can imagine my delight when 24 converged with my office. A new phone system was installed at my desk at work... Real fans will notice this is the SAME phone CTU has in their office. So now, instead of a plebeian ringtone, when I get a call, I do a double-take to make sure it's not the Secretary of Defense on the line for me. As you can imagine, this has made for some interesting conversations.
I suppose my love for 24 will continue until the series finale in a few years. I have the time right now, and Kiefer surely has many other tricks up his sleeve. But if Lost's Matthew Fox figures out how to save the world as well, and maybe comes up with jungle-themed office supplies to further divert my attention, then Jack Bauer will really have a struggle ahead of him.