I’ve been getting into the tv drama ’24’ over the last week or so. If you’ve never seen it, the show revolves around Jack Bauer, an agent in the government’s Counter Terrorism Unit, and all the craziness that he goes through saving things – the senator, the president, the city, the world. Each season of the show takes place within one 24-hour period, so the show is very action-packed. There is lots of guns, shouting, dramatic twists, intrigue, betrayal, scheming, kidnappings, car chases, and everything else you can think of to put into an action flick.
But what I was increasingly interested in throughout the season (I just finished season 1) was the theme of the show’s characters pursuing something, and how far they were willing to go to get it. Here are some examples…
The Drazens – This family of crazy villains was attacked 2 years before the events of the show by a special forces team led by Jack Bauer. The team actually missed Victor Drazen, their main target, and accidentally killed his wife and daughter instead. To exact revenge on Jack and Senator Palmer (who authorized the mission), the Drazens orchestrate a crazy scheme involving kidnappings, bribery, espionage, murder, and blackmail. All to get revenge on two people…
Sherry Palmer – Senator Palmer’s wife (and, to this point, my least favorite character on any tv show ever) is conniving and heartless. She aspires to power, wanting to ride her husband’s career into the White House. Throughout the season we learn that she instigated a cover-up of her son’s involvement in the death of her daughter’s rapist 7 years before the events of the show. She constantly schemes, manipulates, lies, even going so far at one point to have one of her husband’s aides seduce him in order to get him to do what she wants. She does all of these things in the name of protecting her family, usually from themselves, but in reality she is simply a power-hungry, evil, awful, terrible human being.
Senator David Palmer – Despite his moral hangups about his wife, his son, his campaign “fixer,” he still proceeds forward with his campaign. He wants to be in power. More than anything, though, it seems that he wants to do the right thing. Later in the season, this drives him to make some tough choices with his campaign and his marriage.
Teri Bauer – During part of the show, both Jack’s daughter, Kim, and his wife, Teri, were being held captive by the villains. In order to prevent Kim from being taken and raped by one of the men, Teri offered herself up and suffered through it in Kim’s place.
Jack Bauer – Throughout the season, Jack went to some very extreme lengths to get what he wanted. (Jack always seems to want the right things, which is encouraging…) He initially plays along with Senator Palmer’s assassins to try to save his family; he launches a single-man assault on a heavily guarded compound to save them; he pursues suspects, gets in gunfights, plays chances, orchestrates events, escapes from custody, breaks suspects out of custody, all in his efforts to save his family and Senator Palmer.
Seriously, this is just a snapshot of a few of the major players in season 1 of ’24.’ Hopefully it’s enough to get you thinking, as the show has got me thinking, “Hmmm… What do I really want, and how far would I go to get it?”
If it’s true, as Donald Miller writes, that the essence of story is, “A character who wants something, and who overcomes adversity to get it,” then what is your story? What is it that you want? How far would you go to get it?