Finger on the pulse as always, I have become suddenly and irreversibly hooked on 24 a mere 5 series and 120 episodes in. I’d heard good things of course, but no access to SKY and a bizarre aversion to box-sets meant that I never clocked Kiefer Sutherland in a grimy T-shirt thrusting a Glock into the temple of some shifty Arab and rasping “Where’s Fayed?” until the beginning of “Day 6”.
And I’m now stricken with jealousy at the smug insomniacs who chanced upon Jack’s antics at the beginning of Series 1 and now store up the DVDs and watch them religiously in real-time in their dark, dank bed-sits covered in biscuit crumbs. Because it’s about the most addictive show I’ve ever seen
Still faintly absurd though. Why do vital, cliff-hanging moments always happen at fifty-nine minutes passed the hour? Equally, why do vital, cliff-hanging moments never happen at 12 minutes passed the hour while SKY are trying to flog us Toilet Duck or Landrover Discoveries?
No matter. 24 could well still be the simplest stroke of genius in television history, and Jack Bauer its greatest action hero.
But here’s a thought: What would happen if they chose a day when the earth was not under attack from a nefarious terrorist organization or nut-job with a suitcase nuke?
Think I might have to pre-order the box-set on this bad boy – it’s going to be huge.
Jack Bauer gets up for his morning constitutional and is confronted by a missing New York Times. Meanwhile, over at CTU, Chloe O’Brian fills up her stapler and logs on to her computer terminal ready for another fun-filled day of phone-taps and terror suspect surveillance.
Jack opens his front door and immediately solves the missing paper crisis. Next door’s dog has taken a decent sized bite out of the Sports section. Typical. He trudges indoors and discovers he’s out of Cheerios. Jack stares, furrow-browed into the middle distance and mouths "Why me?" SPLIT SCREEN - President Wayne Palmer arrives at work and looks at his schedule for the day.
Potential terrorist Ahmed Shahid (who WOULD be wreaking havoc on American soil given half the chance if he wasn’t banged up in Camp X-Ray on trumped up charges) is subjected to his first torture session of the day. He is having his fingernails removed one by one by a bored redneck guard from Alabama.
CTU Chief Bill Buchanan and wife Karen Hayes are rousing after a lie-in following a late night cabinet meeting. Bill goes for a fumble but she rejects his amorous attentions as she is feeling a bit tense and his morning breath is deemed "less than fresh".
Chloe is joined at CTU by estranged husband Morris who is late because he cut himself shaving and couldn’t find any loo roll. Colleague Nadia Yassir is filing her nails.
At the Whitehouse, President Palmer raises an eyebrow when he hears from Secretary of State Tom Lennox who has called in sick because of a persistent sniffle. Jack’s girlfriend Audrey Raines, meanwhile, is finding it hard to sleep with Jack constantly leaning over her and prodding her to make sure she has not betrayed his position to the Russians, had her memory erased or been captured by a gang of Triads.
Bill Buchanan loses his car keys.
Bill Buchanan finds his car keys down the back of the sofa.
Vice President Noah Daniels tees off for a round of golf with Michael Jordan and the Saudi Ambassador at a swanky Washington country club. SPLIT SCREEN - Tom Lennox pops to the 7-11 to get some Night Nurse.
Splitting the action - Lennox and Daniels
President Palmer puts the wrong end of his biro in his mouth while trying to look thoughtful.
Jack and Audrey go for a stroll down to the local park. Jack spots a yob dropping litter and urges Bill at CTU to send a SWAT team over ASAP and set up a "perimeter". Bill patiently declines the request and tells Jack to relax and enjoy his day off.
Ahmed Shahid paces his cell while guards spit insults about his mother.
What’s this? Jack’s shady father Philip Bauer takes delivery of a suspicious looking package outside his Long Island summerhouse. He pays the courier and looks cautiously around before slipping inside.
Philip Bauer begins knocking up a flat-pack shelving unit in his guest bathroom.
Karen realises she's been short-changed for her Frappacino and tuna salad from the Whitehouse canteen. She goes back and gives the till girl a withering look.
Vice-President Daniels finds the rough on the tricky dog-leg par four 17th.
A neat up and down sees Daniels make par on 17 and close out Jordan 2&1 with the Ambassador nowhere. Jordan makes a lame gag about golf “not really being his game” and they all laugh heartily.
Jack, on his way back to his apartment, waves at an old friend across the street. The friend, conscious that previous random meetings with Jack have involved kidnap, torture and imprisonment in a Ugandan jail, runs like buggery and hides in the nearest launderette. At home in Washington, Tom Lennox trips over his cat, Lincoln, on the way to the toilet.
Nadia and Chloe update their MySpace and Facebook profiles on the Internet when Bill's not looking. Morris goes to IHOP.
President Palmer decides to ignore a call from his elderly mother enquiring about whether he's met a nice girl yet. V-P Daniels gooses his PA during the limo ride back from the golf course and arranges to meet her for dinner later that evening.
Jack helps an old lady across the road.
Jack is hit over the head by old lady's handbag after planting a tracking device on her zimmer frame and telling her in an urgent whisper to “flee to Mexico” as she’s being followed by “Chinese dissidents”.
Over at CTU Bill asks Nadia for some data from a spy satellite located over Cuba. There is a murmur of excitement as it looks like there may be some activity at a known arms depot outside Havana.
Panic over – the unusual image on the printout turns out to be a blob of maple syrup from Morris’s pancake.
V-P Daniels, who has rushed home in preparation for his date, runs a hot bath and has a long, slow wank.
A bored President Palmer who has already tidied his desk, hoovered the Oval Office carpet and practiced his regal wave in front of the mirror, calls his Vice President to see if he fancies a jar or two later, and maybe a game of pool.
An out-of-breath Daniels answers his Commander in Chief on the tenth ring and cries off citing “a mountain of paper work to get through”
A knock at the door at Jack’s apartment. Our hero swiftly shuts all the blinds, grips his gun in both hands and motions urgently with his head for Audrey to hide in the bedroom.
Jack opens the door but keeps it on the latch, before opening it fully to reveal a fellow from DHL with some Amazon CDs and his latest copy of the National Enquirer.
Tom Lennox watches an old episode of the King of Queens guest starring Ray Romano and can't work out if he's seen it before.
President Palmer alphabetizes his collection of great American literature and ponders whether to spend the evening knocking out a chapter of his autobiography “A Brother’s Duty”
At Jack’s favourite restaurant, Audrey Raines orders the oysters from an unfamiliar waiter with shifty eyes and an implausible moustache. A bead of sweat appears at the CTU man’s temple and Audrey stares at him as if to beg: “please don’t make a scene”.
As Audrey raises the first oyster to her lips, Jack bats it out of her hand, hissing something about it being “laced with Polonium”. Audrey sighs.
In Long Island, Philip Bauer’s face is contorted with maniacal rage. Could this be the catalyst for some demonic act of violence or terror on the American public? No, he’s just pissed off that the bloody Yankees have lost again.
In a back alley outside a posh Washington eaterie, The Vice-President’s PA sinks to her knees and prepares to unzip her boss’s fly. In the same instant, V-P Daniels' mobile rings. It is the President on a secure line – he evidently has urgent news that cannot wait.
“Come on Noah, don’t be such a spoilsport – let’s get our asses over to Hooters for some half-price cocktails and extra-spicy ribs.” The PA retreats into the shadows, and Daniels reroutes his limo for Washington’s premier breast-orientated diner chuntering loudly on his theory of how Lee Harvey Oswald was no doubt put up to it by Lyndon Johnson.
In the middle of a Jeopardy marathon on the Gameshow Channel, Tom gets pins and needles in his left leg and gets up to do some quick star-jumps.
Bill tries his luck again by offering Karen a gentle massage before bed, but his wife is having none of it because she “knows what he’s really after” and she "has a headache".
President Palmer passes out in the Oval office, chin covered in barbeque source, clutching a bottle of tequila and a lacy DD-cup bra.
Jack is still up surfing the internet, tapping into known terror suspects’ chatter and trying to interpret complex coded messages in al-Queda forums.
Ahmed Shahid is broken out of Camp X-Ray by a hitherto unknown terrorist cell called “Brothers of Darkness” and starts his journey towards Washington with a semtex-filled rucksack and a murderous gleam in his eye.
SPLIT-SCREEN - Jack Bauer finally gets his head-down for some well-earned kip.