Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wild Card Weekend - 24

Here's Kate Hewitt with some fantastic shows to kick back with for your Wild Card Weekend!

A few years ago, I caught on a bit late to the genius idea of renting an entire season of a television show on DVD. Now, instead of languishing for a week waiting for the next installment of your obsession, you could have the instant gratification of simply pushing ‘play’ on the remote. Brilliant!
Worlds opened up and TV was forever transformed when my husband and I rented the first season of Lost, watching four or more episode a night. That cliffhanger ending? No worries! You can find out exactly what’s going on right away [although in the case of Lost that’s debatable]. A few rather desperate evenings were spent calling round to the various Blockbusters looking for the next DVD in the series, and this at 10:30 at night which we convinced ourselves was a perfectly reasonable time to engage in another 2-3 hours of television viewing. This was before another belated discovery of ours, which was Netflix. But that’s another post entirely…

Sadly, my husband’s and my tastes diverged after Season 1 of Lost. He opted for renting seasons of Enterprise and Battlestar Galatica and I was sucked in to the world of 24.

I didn’t expect to like 24, which, if you are unaware, hangs on the rather novel hook (at least novel for the first season) that it is in ‘real time’, ie every episode is an hour of the characters’ lives. Of course, the inevitable questions arise. When do they eat? Sleep? Use the facilities? But if you suspend your disbelief on these somewhat crucial points, you can allow yourself to enjoy the roller coaster ride of action, adventure, and nail-biting suspense, which I did, somewhat to my surprise as I thought the show would be too gritty for me.

Yet the crux of the show, as well as its major appeal for me, is the main character, which we all know as the anti-hero Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland. And some might argue with me whether he is a hero or an anti-hero, because he certainly has the best of intentions, if somewhat questionable means. Jack Bauer is all about getting the bad guys, and the bad guys are usually about to end life as we know it on planet Earth. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse! But wait. That terrorist plot isn’t going to destroy just one city, or even one country, BUT THE ENTIRE WORLD. [Maybe I’ve watched a few too many seasons…]

Seriously, though, Jack Bauer won my heart at the end of Season 3, in one telling and emotional scene. This is a slight spoiler, in that the scene was surprising, but I’m not giving away any major plot points of what happened in the season, so read at your own discretion… It’s the season finale, everything has wrapped up, and Jack has endured so very much, as he always does, with stoic and courageous determination. And the last scene? He’s in his car, about to go home, when his face screws up and you wonder what he’s doing, and then you realize he’s crying. Crying like a child who doesn’t want anybody to know he’s crying, but can’t quite keep the tears from coming. It was surprising and moving and won me over to the show (and Jack Bauer) completely. Of course you can wonder and debate what Jack is crying about, whether it’s the sheer awfulness he’s gone through, the people who have been lost, or even part of himself he’s lost because he’s seen and done so much. But that one scene adds such an emotional depth and resonance to Jack’s character that was, for mainstream TV, a pretty bold choice. If you haven’t watched 24, you should give it a shot for that scene alone. Altogether it’s pretty compulsive viewing and as I was watching the seasons with one of my best friends over the course of a summer, each evening inevitably had us glancing sideways at each other as we silently agreed we might as well watch just one more episode. [And I have to admit I didn’t get much writing done that summer!]

That said, I’ve finished all my seasons of 24 and have since gone on to a totally different kind of show, The Gilmore Girls. Now I’m done with those lovely ladies (who, if you’re a fan of the show, lived in a part of Connecticut where I’ve lived for the last five years) and need a new obsession, er, TV show to watch. Any suggestions? What show is your must-see TV, and why? The more seasons, the better…

Kate Hewitt is desperately trying to make her deadline for her latest book, but her February US release, The Italian's Bought Bride, is out now!


  1. Kate, great post.

    I'm still ploughing on with Lost (although it lost the plot several seasons ago, I still love all the cultural references and the ludicrous conundrums).

    Watched the first ever episode of 24 and thought 'what the...?' But you just might have persuaded me to give it another go.

    Tips for shows to watch? I'd say The Wire (life-changing TV frankly, totally blew me away) and Mad Men. Quite apart from the fact that John Hamm is delicious, and it has the glowing good looks of a colour-soaked fifites melodrama, it's so full of subtext it makes Lost seem straightforward.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations!

    I stuck with Lost for about three seasons before I decided the island was simply too big--it housed about eight different populations and none of them knew the others existed?! Although this season has intrigued me with its flash-forwards...

    My husband is trying to convince me to watch Mad Men. He's got the first episode under his belt and doesn't want to continue till I've caught up. I've never actually heard of The Wire... what is that about?

  3. I don't know any of the shows as I don't watch much TV but one show that is so funny it gets me every time is 'My name is Earl'.

  4. I love My Name is Earl, Nell. It's so different than most shows on TV and strangely endearing. I also love Scrubs, which is another comedy that is kind of different.

  5. I'm really into Spooks since a few weeks and currently waiting for my next box-set. I'm from Germany and I have to order the DVDs from the UK but they're worth the waiting.

    Oh and I started the first season of Life. Damian Lewis - he's such a great actor.

  6. Although I always feel I have to eat while watching TV, I enjoy a good TV movie. My perfect weekend would be ALL the James Bond movies in order of release. I admit that I'd weigh about ten pounds more after the weekend was over, but still it would be fun.

  7. I love Damian Lewis. And my husband is a fan of Life, although I haven't watched a full episode yet. Stella, I love to eat while watching TV too--buttery popcorn is my nemesis!

  8. Kate, I Just finished The Italian's Bought Bride and I cried and cried. Loved the book!