Tips For 24 Newbies

A remarkable number of people have told me that they are watching 24 this year for the first time.  If you are now four hours into your 24 experience, let me give you a couple of tips.

  • Everything is not as it seems.  Now – this might be obvious, but it’s more dramatic with 24.  Unlike some other shows where you get Lost in the story, 24 twists and turns in ways unimaginable later in the season, partly because the writers are only ten shows or so ahead at the beginning of the season.  By Hour 20, they are practically writing in real time, getting themselves trapped in corners, and magically escaping.  So – don’t assume that the next 20 hours will be on the linear course.
  • Good people die – regularly.  If you just saw 9am to 10am, you learned that.  It’ll happen again – probably a couple of times.  It always sucks – sometimes it gratuitous, sometimes it’s not.  But – it always surprises you.
  • Wherever Jack goes, carnage follows.  Ok – you probably know this already.  Jack has three modes: (1) introspective Jack, (2) screwed up personal life Jack, and (3) mission Jack.  So far on Day 6 we’ve seen 1 and 3 – look forward to some of 2.  Oh – and the carnage is not just physical – it’s often emotional (especially in Jack mode 2.)
  • You can get anywhere in LA in 20 minutes.  Don’t struggle with this – after five years of this, we’ve learned to suspend our disbelief.
  • Chloe is right.  Don’t ever question that girl.  Believe it or not, she can shoot a gun.
  • CTU hasn’t figured out how to turn cell phones to vibrate.  Those damn things ring at such inopportune times.

One big hint that I learned when I spent the day on the 24 set last year was that the show is set “sometime in the future.”  When I watch 24, I think “today + 8 years” to believe all the technical stuff.  When I was on the set, I noticed all the screens showed that they were running OS 34, which was a good giveaway.  If you are a nerd and you have the desire, grab some screen shots of the monitors and zoom in – there’s often interesting stuff there.

I’ve been watching 24 since Day 1 – Hour 1.  I don’t know why I watched the first show.  I’m a pacifist and not much of a TV watcher, but I vaguely remember being intrigued with the idea of a real time show.  I was hooked from the beginning.  With the hype around Day 6 I speculated that the show had peaked.  However, after just sitting through 8am – 10am on the airplane to New York, the claws of 24 are once again in my brain. 

One last tip – if you are questioning why you are watching it, give it a few more weeks.  Historically, 24 gets really good around Hour 15.  Only 166 hours until next week’s show.