Jack Bauer is safe for another 72 Hours

Watching television was a lot more fun back before I could tell time and I understood the concept of what a reoccurring character was.

Back when I was a kid (after I’d come in from playing with my dog Rags out in the alfalfa fields) there was a time when I faithfully and effortlessly slipped into the reality of television. There was no second-guessing what was happening—it was all about being in moment, baby—and it was great!

I would be squatting on the floor, enthralled in an episode of the Wild Wild West and shout out, “Jeepers, Rags! There’s no way Jim West and Artemus Gordon are going to be able to defeat Miguelito Loveless’ mechanical shark! They’re goners for sure!” I would sit there shocked and dismayed by the inevitable fate of Jim and Artie, but then after the commercial break I’d see my heroes miraculously escape (with the help of a miniature gramophone Jim had in a hollow boot heel and a diamond-tipped nose picker Artie had up his sleeve).

I’m pretty certain that by the end of the first season of the show I’d figured out that Jim and Artie were always going to somehow escape. If James T. West died, they would have to change the name of the show and everything. So from that point on if I watched an episode of Mannix, or any show that was named after the lead character, there was a reasonably good chance that they were going to survive whatever threat they faced. The same held true for shows like Lost in Space or Land of the Giants. If a character had been on the show for the past eight or nine episodes, it was more than likely they were going to survive the current episode.

Another nail in the coffin of my television watching innocence was learning to tell time, and utilizing this new skill while watching a show. This was a horrible thing. Say for example I was watching an episode of Mission: IMPOSSIBLE. I watch as the team is in motion and the mission that had been thoughtfully planned out is nearly complete. That’s cool. But then I look at the clock and see there’s still twenty minutes until the show is over. Well, now I know that something is going to go wrong and the mission is going to start to fall apart. The team will have to think fast and pull together to stop the evil monarch from plundering the hidden treasure buried under the church tower. The episode is still enjoyable, but imagine how much better it would have been if I didn’t see the bump in the road coming along. There I am saying, “They’ve done it again, Rags. Another successful mission under their belts for the gang…hey, wait! That wasn’t supposed to happen! What’s going on, Rags? I never saw that twist coming, did you boy?”

We’re big fans of the television series 24 in this household. Early on, during the first or second season, there was talk that Kiefer Sutherland thought doing the show and actually having a career was too demanding, so he was only going to do a certain number of seasons. Ever since then there’s always been industry chatter that the producers might end the show by actually killing Jack Bauer off. He dies saving the world. Something big like that. It would be a ballsy way to end things and there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.

But now the official word is that Kiefer has agreed to be on the show for three more seasons. Seventy-two hours of action for a cool forty million bucks, plus a production deal. Good for him, of course. Nice work if you can get it, and all that, but at the same it means we know for a fact that Jack will survive any and all situations he gets himself into for the next three years.

I complain, yet I’ll be there every Monday night. I have to be. Chloe is tracking my movements on satellite. She’d downloading my coordinates to your Palm Pilot even as you read this.

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