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Deep Thoughts on 24

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET
  • Stacy Parker Le Melle Communications Director for the Afghan Women's Writing Project and Author of 'Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House'

I'm not Jack Handey, but I've been doing some deep thinking on the latest season of 24. I've never watched before. No good reason; just never did. But when I saw the Drudge teaser that the show might go nuclear, I was intrigued. How would the show handle such a catastrophe? I decided to watch. My friend Alex promised me that like, say, The Young and the Restless, you could miss a few episodes, or a few years, and get caught up quickly.

I sat in my bed and watched over the last few nights. Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind:

The government never has your back.

At least not in cat & mouse land. Or, if you're on the Gulf Coast.

I remember when the CIA recruited me for a college scholarship program. I contemplated their offer for one whole hour. The bell rang and I was certain: no way, no how. I'd seen enough DC thrillers (and read enough history) to know that if your higher-ups deemed you dispensable, then sorry-for-you, you're a dead girl. I knew my career would end up like one of those submarine movies, when the boat gets torpedoed, and my comrades are locking off the flooded section, with me in it, and my face pressed against the little porthole screaming: "Noooo!!!!!!" And then I drown. And that's that.

Or I'd be left to die in a Chinese prison. Just like Jack. But without anyone to pay my price and sell me again before I even had a chance to go to Whole Foods.

Speaking of...

Can't they at least slip Jack a Powerbar?

I'll give Jack's hot, toned, bullwhipped body a Hollywood pass. Maybe he was totally gangster in his Chinese prison, lifting weights, doing crunches on a roachy dungeon floor. Yeah, maybe he stayed buff on a diet of gruel and half a turnip. I can even imagine, given the adrenaline rush the day has been so far, that he's not even hungry. But the man's gotta eat sometime! Or drink? If prisoners get Smartwater at the Anacostia Detention Center (did you catch that?) they could at least have a few bottles in the van. If only Chloe had known of his release ahead of time. She would have been all over this.

I'm not into martyrdom.

I always knew that about myself, but when Jack says: "Today I can die for something," I'm struck by how untouched I am by this sentiment. I've never ever wanted to die, ever! Not for nothing, and not for something!

I wondered how many people watched this and felt deeply moved.

I wondered how many felt moved because they feel martyred in their own lives. They feel like mules or mice on the wheel and they have to keep running, and how it would be such a release, such a sense that it was all worth something, if they could die for a valiant reason.

I wondered if such viewers compared the torture scenes to the stuff of their own lives.

On that note...

What is more tortuous to the viewer: 24 or the American Idol auditions?

Hmm. Don't know. I never fully succumb to the emotions of the torture moments in 24, because I know Jack will survive, and a Ford commercial will roll any minute. However, I find that I do gain knowledge from both shows. From AI, I learn to appreciate greatness in singers. From 24, I learn that if you want results, go for the kneecap.

Jack Bauer is good at cutting his own hair.

Again, I'll give them the Hollywood pass. No one wants to see our guy look like the enemy. Or needlessly ugly. I remember seeing The Mask of Zorro with my girlfriends, and we literally clapped when, um, 2 hours in, Antonio Banderas shaved that silliness off his face. I still think hair and makeup have 90% to do with why I can't stand watching Lord of the Rings.

Is Assad Marc Anthony's long-lost cousin?

Assad is hot, in a Marc Anthony sort of way. Does that mean he has an Arabian J.Lo waiting for him at home? Maybe that's why he's wants peace.

POTUS needs some friends!

Where do I start with the current POTUS? He seems like a temp. Or an actor that they hired to play the President, as if that Chris Rock movie had a dark and scary sequel. I read that this Palmer used to be COS. He should know the staff game then! None of the staff seem to be his people. I like the dynamic they're showing: how if the leader is weak, strong-willed staffers will fill that vacuum quick. But where's the wife? He should have a confidant or two. A posse? A crew? Someone, even if they're totally awful and stupid should be there holding him down. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and all that, but they're portraying him in the way that Laura Bush portrayed a Condi presidency--a single figure, alone, vulnerable, with presumably no one to turn to but a megalomaniac white boy...

Good Luck, Valencia. With our track record, you won't get rebuilt either.

I'd like to see a show about Valencia. The bomb. The aftermath. Will anybody care about those victims? Perhaps the silent majority thinks we'll need to cut our losses; that anyone who survived just needs to find a new place and start over. Maybe the questions are "easier" because it was a nuclear bomb--rebuilding, for now, is a moot point. But what about rescue workers, and their long time health needs? Will they get stonewalled and forgotten? What about the survivors themselves? Will they be attended to for a short time, and then soon enough forgotten? Or, because they were hurt at the hands of outside attackers, survivors can cash checks if they too agree not to sue...

Oh, maybe that's the Kansas show I never watched. Sorry.

Would be cool, however, to see POTUS give some instructions to his DHS head, to FEMA, to whomever regarding emergency ops on the ground. I also think they're giving short shrift to what would have to be pandemonium if such a catastrophe occurred in Southern California. I think about the panic attacks I nearly had on LA freeways when I lived there. Now, with everyone trying to escape?

Seriously. How much longer is Jack going to be able to tool around in that van? He's going to be going one mile an hour.

Does President Palmer's Success Affect President Obama's?

One hopes the answer is no. But...

There's no getting around the fact that TV matters.

TV shapes our perceptions. It fuels are dreams. And it certainly fuels our fears.

I'm certain there are deeper thoughts out there on 24, but I've now officially spent too long thinking about this show. At least until next week.

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