So the word on the street is that 24, the Kiefer Sutherland drama that rocked the nation five years ago, is coming back. And I’m scared. Not of the terrorists that Jack Bauer will be facing, but of the emotional upheaval that will soon visit my husband and, by extension, our marriage.
I’ve talked often about Derrick’s all-or-nothing personality, and nowhere does that apply more than to his television watching. You should know that my husband watches maybe an hour of tv a month—if at all. He simply doesn’t have the time. But every now and then, maybe every few years, he’ll come across something on Netflix that catches his fancy and then somehow–usually between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am–the time will be made.
Such was the case with 24. He caught the train near the end of its run, so he rented the previous seasons at Blockbuster (how funny does that sound now?) and that was the last I saw of my love for the next two months. Because when he does get into a tv show, Derrick approaches it like he does all of his New Phases: with heedless gusto. He will not be satisfied with his viewing experience until every plotline is exhausted, every possible outcome examined, every twist undone. He will employ his raging self-discipline to lie in front of the tv for hours, ignoring his sleep, his wife, and his adult responsibilities to ensure that his man Jack accomplishes his mission. At around hour twenty of this obsession, I gently suggested that he take a break and get some sleep for a few nights; the episodes would be waiting for him when he returned. His response? “Jack needs me.” I don’t think he was kidding.
Somehow, our marriage survived. (I like to think it was because I, as the superior spouse, held up hearth and home while my husband played out this sad little fantasy of his through the small screen.) But after hours—and hours and hours—of late nights and groggy mornings, the discs were finally viewed and the mission finally accomplished. And my husband came back to me, and has been back ever since. We have not had a repeat of the 24 experience in our home since it’s finale aired in 2010, and call me a stiff, but I think that’s good thing.
With the finale of 24, I sighed in relief and thought “well–that’s that.” I thought it might be beneficial for Derrick to spend those four hours a night sleeping instead of watching people try to kill each other. I thought that perhaps my husband was a little, um, old to be gaping at a modern-day cops-and-robbers show like Mike Teevee on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (I almost bought him a toy gun that Christmas, but couldn’t find one that looked like Jack’s. I didn’t want to offend Derrick with something childish.) I thought that, now that he’d had his last vicarious hurrah, my husband could face forward and step into middle age content with the occasional History Channel special and Food Network smackdown. I thought that the dark days of addiction were behind us, the sunlit days of freedom ahead. I thought Jack Bauer was out of our lives—gone, dead, rest in peace, forever. I thought, I oh-so-naively thought. And then yesterday, perusing the magazine rack while Ethan was getting his hair cut, I saw this:
You can’t kill Jack. I should have known. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try. (“No, honey, I haven’t seen the remote…”)