This is something you've been asked to believe by almost every movie sequel you’ve ever seen.
Whether it’s Jaws 2 or Die Harder, people in power—especially police chiefs and mayors—tend to live by the mantra: “You may have saved the world 10 months ago, but now you’re in my jurisdiction, and I’m going to assume that you’re a loose cannon and not to be trusted.”
This phenomenon reached its apotheosis in Ghostbusters 2, which opened with the Ghostbusters working as birthday-party clowns. These guys save Manhattan from a 137-story marshmallow monster and now everyone regards them as a bunch of washed-up frauds. That's Michael Keaton territory.
But 24 takes this conceit to a new level by asking us to believe that Jack Bauer is distrusted at the outset of each of the first six seasons, disregarding the fact that he SAVED THE WORLD FROM IMMINENT NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION. After a while, you’d think they’d start giving him the benefit of the doubt. But, as last night's first two episodes proved, you would be wrong. David Palmer's kid brother, who couldn't be any less Presidential than the real President Palmer, decides to go with the word of some woman who is in her 60s and the art dealer who channeled Vigo in Ghostbusters 2 over Jack Bauer's urgent warning that they were making a mistake. And then of course he acts surprised when it turns out Bauer was right.
4. People like Jack Bauer could actually exist in the real world
We know how bad you want to believe that guys like this exist in the real world. He’s so grizzled, and sounds so cool snarling through clenched teeth, you figure that you could be that sort of no-nonsense loner if you just talked and acted like him. Here’s how it turned out when we tried the Bauer persona on for size:
Blind Date: “So, I had a really nice time tonight.”
CRACKED [using actual Jack Bauer quote from last season]: “Listen kid, the only reason that you’re still conscious is because I don’t feel like carrying you around.”
Blind Date: Calling 911
CRACKED CEO, Monty Sarhan: “Where the hell have you been all morning, and why are you covered in blood?”
CRACKED [using actual Jack Bauer quote from last season]: “I need you to go to the address on this card. Yes, the Counter Terrorism Unit. Look Monty, there’s no time to explain. If you tell anyone that you know I’m alive, your life is in danger.”
CRACKED CEO, Monty Sarhan: “Please put some pants on and get back to work.”
As you see, while 24 is a fine program for diversion seekers, it leaves a little to be desired when translated to the real world. Except for the torture part. Whether you’re having a lover’s spat or simply asking for directions, 24 is right to teach that torture is an effective way to get the information you’re looking for.