You may have guessed from my other posts here that I am not one of those superior "actually, I don't even own a TV" types that go to great lengths to eschew all television broadcasting—"except maybe some public television"—as unnecessary, unacceptable, or even evil, brain-rotting drivel. No sir, my Mom plopped me in front the set at a young age, and I still count on it sometimes for opialicious, escapist viewing. In fact, I'm a whore for 24, Fox's utterly preposterous, improbable, real-time nailbiter about terrorist plots and the people who foil them. I have to be in front of the TV every Monday at 9 (fuck taping, I want to watch in "real-time"), and rarely do I get up during the hour, even to piss.
Kiefer Sutherland's "character" Jack Bauer, basically an unstoppable force of will with no bathroom needs and a never-dying cellphone battery, commits incredibly heinous acts every episode in the name of stopping the terrorists: he hijacks airplanes, chokes his girlfriend up against a wall, shoots innocent middle-aged women in the leg, and gets hapless civilians killed all the time and just says "damn it." (You may have even heard of the "damn it" drinking game; there are other, more complex 24-themed drinking games too.) Considering that this is all supposed to be happening in one single day, that's an awful lot of malice, even in the name of patriotism. If the show weren't so damn entertaining, it would be completely indefensible. In fact, some people are very upset about 24 and the supposed message it sends about our eroding civil liberties.
Still, how could I resist the charms of CTU's resident super-nerd Chloe O'Brien (played by Mary Lynn Rajskub), a highly capable, no-nonsense government hacker dressed in vintage sweaters and a permanent scowl – my kinda girl. The current season also features guest star Peter Weller as a cold-hearted, super-badass terrorist collaborator. I've always been a big fan of Weller's films, including Robocop, Buckaroo Banzai, Naked Lunch and especially the underrated 1983 man vs. rat allegory Of Unknown Origin. The cast also includes veteran character actor Glenn Morshower (from the film Dead and Buried, and a whole host of TV and film roles.)
My fantasy (well, one of them—I have many, most unrelated to 24) is that Jack Bauer, in his no-nonsense baritone flooded with purpose, guides me through the mundane tasks of my everyday life. As I change my son's diaper, clean the apartment or prepare lunch, Jack Bauer from CTU is there, on his undying cell, talking me through the specifics of each action with bomb-defusing precision.
The following takes place between 7:00 PM and 7:15 PM.
"William, this is Jack Bauer, Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit – have you ever cooked hot dogs before? No? Well don't worry 'cause I'm going to talk you through it. We are dealing with especially volatile materials here—Nathan's Famous Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks, so I need you to follow my instructions to the letter; I don't need to remind you that thousands of lives are at stake, and I imagine that you're pretty hungry. Chloe obtained an extensive file detailing your hunger rages, Mr. Berger, so don't play games with me—you and I both know we haven't a second to waste.
"Slowly take your knife and make a vertical slit in the packaging along one side; pinch the plastic away from you, so you can cut it without damaging the franks inside. Your slit should only be as long as is needed to release one of the franks—two if you're really hungry; any more than that, you're pressing your luck. Once you've made the slit, you need to first release the fluid inside before you let the franks out. Tip the package over the sink, so that the hot dog water runs out the slit into the drain. This stuff is potentially highly toxic, so run the tap to release it into the sewage system—we can't have it falling into the wrong hands.
"Now you're ready to cook the franks. I recommend boiling, since you're not an expert, and the end result will be lower in fat and cholesterol than frying. Do you have filtered water? Good. Place the franks down gently, and fill a small saucepan with just enough water to cover the franks. Now gently release the franks into the water, careful to avoid splash back. Put the pan on the stove, turning the handle inward, away from you—remember you've got a child in the house. You can use a high flame setting, but not the highest, as you could end up with watery, over-boiled franks.
"Get your tongs ready. When the water's been boiling for about 60 seconds, you're going to use the tongs to gently lift the franks out of the water. Have a plate ready with buns, or bread, and any toppings you want to use. Sweet Hot Mister Mustard, without beans, onions or sauerkraut, will be the least likely to attract attention later. Are you done? Good. Go ahead and eat. Await my further instructions, or call me on a secure channel should you develop gas. William, you've done your country a great service; we're all proud of you here."
The 2-hour season finale of 24 airs Monday night on Fox at 8 PM, but actually, you don't even own a TV.