Okay, slight exaggeration with this one, there’s no way that the TV show 24 ever meant anything close to the world to me – but for one day, or just over (fitting, given the way the show’s premise has it) it was my world. Almost my entire world.
A few years ago we took a holiday. A private bay in the Sounds. All our own. Just me and Katy. A laptop. Some DVDs. The groceries that we needed for a few days in the house. And booze. Loads of booze. Oh, and books. Loads of books too.
It was the best holiday.
We’d been working hard. Both of us. And I was just about to change jobs. The holiday – a mini-break – was timed right in the middle of the job-change. I had done an all-nighter the night before too, interviewed the guitarist from Weezer for, of all things, Rip It Up magazine. And, in between waiting for that phone-call and prepping for the interview I had been writing blog-posts to cover my absence – also a review of a one man Star Wars show. I then had to turn around a 2,500 word story on Weezer before jumping on the boat. So, yeah, it was all go.
Slept for about an hour on the ferry and then crashed out early in this beach house. It was fucking bliss. Every now and then you’d hear the ferry chugging past, the tide lapping. It was amazing. It was just us – and we had a fruit tree to pick from, and free time. And no internet. That sort of holiday almost scares me now (how tragic) but it was exactly what was required then. In fact we should really do it annually – I’m sure a lot of you do.
Anyway, a friend had suggested that for escapist TV watching we take the first season of 24. We’d never seen a single episode of it, but knew what the show was about. It unfolded as if in real time, each episode taking place over an hour, the entire season being 24 episodes, or 24 hours – one day. It was a kidnapping story, it was about a plot to assassinate a presidential candidate. The hero was Jack Bauer – played by Kiefer Sutherland. He was an agent in the Counter Terrorist Unit.
So it’s classic good-guy/bad-guy stuff. Classic spy thriller-type stuff. Classic bullshit.
Anyway, we watched some docos, some movies, read our books, drank all of the wine and spirits and enjoyed time away from punching clocks and all of that minutiae – and for the first day or two we weren’t fussed with the idea of 24.
Then we thought we’d start it – see how we go, give it an episode or two, we’d be ready to carry on with it at the end of our working days when we returned to Wellington.
Well, we watched the first episode. And it felt pretty good, like we needed to give it at least one more. So we watched one more. And then another. And another.
We were hooked.
This probably sounds nuts to you – but we watched 12 episodes on the trot. At some very early hour of the morning we took a sleep break. Then it was up for six more episodes. Obviously without ads the TV show wasn’t quite running to a full hour per episode. So the 24 episodes we watched weren’t going to actually take 24 hours. There was a joke at one point – one of those made, sleep-deprived, TV-deranged jokes – about trying to watch the entire season within 24 days. We’d be the polar-opposite of the main character. He’d spend a day on the move, his wits tested, his energy level sapped. We would sit on our arses, drink, eat and watch him go about his patriotic duty.
Well, after that short sleep break we hit it again. And made it through six episodes. And then one of us – probably Katy – felt this major pang of guilt. There were more holiday days ahead of us but we had to get out and beach comb…go somewhere. Do something. Anything…
So we took a break from the action of 24. The constant action. The guilty-pleasure action. The escapist-nonsense/so-serious-at-the-time-but-also-absurd action.
We definitely had a couple of hours away from the screen. Maybe three even.
And then we hit down on those final six episodes.
We were glued. Almost the whole time I kept thinking of the first time/s I heard that expression about “you’ll get square eyes” – I kept thinking that they would actually be rectangle eyes since we were watching on a laptop.
It’s weird watching an entire season of TV in one day – a 24-episode show. Where the eps are 40 minutes or 50 minutes. Anyone can do a six-ep or ten-ep comedy series. That’s chump-change. I watch whole seasons of Entourage before I plan lunch. But have you ever knocked off a whole series of an hour-long drama?
Or else you’d be disgusted.
We were delirious actually.
“This is the best thing we’ve ever done”, I said, hardly meaning it.
“What, even, are our names?”, Katy replied.
We loved that first season of 24. We watched it – all up – in something like 27 hours. Less than 30 hours anyway. Practically in a day. I was gutted about that second smoko-break actually. I really wanted to go the whole way, two 12-episode bursts. Because, well, you’ve gotta have goals people!
We returned to our home and to our jobs.
And since docking, we have pretty much never talked about that time when we watched 24 – on catch-up – in pretty much one go.
We have never – to this day – ever seen another episode of the show, never dabbled in season two. Never thought for a minute to give it a try.
We gave birth to – and then killed off – the show in one day. It was our world, for a little while there. In a holiday space where we seemed to be floating, suspended, not really in the real world. It was perfect. And ugly. And beautiful. And wrong. And right. And cruel. And lovely. And stupid. Utterly fucking stupid. Which is what makes it seem kinda wonderful.
TV Shows That Meant The World To Me started life as a weekly series on the Phantom Billstickers Facebook page