There are bad days, and then there are “Jack Bauer” bad days.
Just a few hours ago, my wife Kimi and I completed watching the last four episodes of the eighth and final season of the hit show 24.
I have always been intrigued by the inconsistencies in people. I once had a friend who was a loving and kind mother who always looked for the good in others. But each night she would relax by turning on any slasher movie she could find.
I have inconsistencies of my own. I fancy myself a civil libertarian who is appalled by the thought of government-sponsored torture, especially when that government is my own. That being said, I love 24, which is centered around Jack Bauer’s fictional Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU), where torture is all part of a day’s work.
Each of the show’s seasons are plotted in real-time around a major threat to national security, where agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his fellow CTU agents must do whatever it takes to save the nation during a 24-hour day.
This includes killing, lots of killing. I had no idea how much until I found a great web site that chronicles all of the deaths that took place during the show’s run. The number is truly astounding. Are you ready for this?
That is not a typo – over the course of eight seasons, 13,628 people lost their lives on 24. This averages out to just over 1700 people per day, which is roughly the size of my home town of North Judson, Indiana. (Which means that in eight seasons the equivalent of eight North Judsons disappeared. I am glad this didn’t happen, just as I am glad there aren’t eight North Judsons.)
To be fair, most of these killings took place at one time, when despite his best efforts, Jack Bauer was unable to save the day.
That was back during Day 6 when at 9:58 AM, 12,000 residents of the city of Valencia, California were killed by a suitcase nuke. As much as I love 24, I’m not willing to die for it, which is likely what would have happened if life imitated art, since we live only a few miles from the fictional ground zero.
So if we take away those 12,000 casualties, the killings drop to an average of just over 200 per day, or about 8 an hour. That’s still a lot of killing. What’s even more astounding is learning that 175 of these deaths came from the hand of “good guy” Jack Bauer.
Kimi and I don’t watch shows on television, and only saw 24 on DVD. (I can’t imagine anyone being able to wait all week for the next episode.) That’s why even though the show ended its run months ago, we are only now seeing how it all turned out.
It will take us some time to work through our withdrawal from Jack and Chloe O’Brian and the adrenaline rush of 24 episodes of real-time drama.
But I think we’ll survive, because Season Two of Mad Men is on its way from Netflix.