I tell you, I feel like I have head lice or something. All of my fellow MBTV recappers hard at work recapping their own shows since September; meanwhile, I have to wait until November for my show to be ready for prime time. It's like I don't get to start school until my mom shampoos my hair with Lindane and the school nurse checks my scalp for stray eggs. And to be perfectly honest, I don't understand this whole "sensitivity" thing sweeping the networks lately. Here we are as a nation glued to our TV sets watching CNN twenty-four hours a day complete with multiple re-viewings of the towers collapsing, bombs going off in Afghanistan, and bio-terrorism updates while the entertainment shows are having a cow over whether or not their shows remind us of the September 11th tragedies. I mean, God forbid I should see the Golden Girls episode where Rose tells that story about her favorite cow back in St. Olaf dying of anthrax as opposed to, say, walking outside of my Brooklyn apartment building and plainly seeing a big black smoldering hole across the East River where the World Trade Center used to be…not to mention the policemen on every corner and the dull roar of Air Force jets making rounds. So finally, after months of waiting for the producers to get rid of any painful reminders of real terrorism, it's showtime. First there's this dark screen, and then various lines pop up on the screen which eventually come together to form the number "24" in some cold computer-y font reminiscent of LCD screens or high school football scoreboards. More writing, accompanied by a Kiefer Sutherland voice-over for those of us who can't read said writing, explains that this entire episode takes place between midnight and 1:00 AM on the day of the California Presidential primary. "All events take place in real time," says the final card. Dude, is this a TV show or a Powerpoint presentation with celebrity audio? Cut to the chase, we've been waiting long enough.
It's 4 PM in Kuala Lumpur local time, according to more subtitles, and we open with an image of those two towers in Kuala Lumpur that are the two tallest buildings in the world. I'm kind of shocked that they left this shot in. I mean, can't you see that being an issue? "Hey, we should lose the Kuala Lumpur twin towers, right? I mean, isn't that a painful reminder that America doesn't have their tall twin buildings anymore?" As the credits come up, the screen splits in three, and two more images of Kuala Lumpur appear in boxes which dance around. It's totally reminiscent of the Mary Tyler Moore credits, but the soundtrack is slightly more ominous and builds more tension…and there isn't a cute perky career girl throwing her hat in the air. Instead, we see gritty marketplaces where dirty people buy dirty vegetables and speak some sinister-sounding language like they're in a Duran Duran video. A wiry thirty-ish Caucasian man enters a ground floor apartment whose bleached wood exterior makes it look like a Lake Tahoe Radisson, but judging from the hookers and beggars outside, we're obviously supposed to think it's a seedy hotel. He enters a room, takes a padlock off a door inside, opens a laptop, picks up a telephone, and identifies himself as "Victor Rovner" and requests permission to log on. Permission is granted by the guy on the other end of the line, and with sweat dripping from his forehead, he downloads some information from a spy satellite. There's a loud knock on the door, and crazy foreign shouting is heard outside. So you just know that this Victor Rovner guy has found out something that someone else doesn't want him to know…or something.
Meanwhile, at a formal party in downtown Los Angeles in some glass tower where there are candelabras and live piano, it is 12:02:14 AM, and an older mustached gentleman -- who we later find out is Kiefer's boss -- gets a cell phone call. He takes leave of some chick he's talking to and continues the conversation over by the wall out of earshot. It's some agent-y looking guy on the other end of the line, who informs Boss of Kiefer that he's spoken to Victor Rovner. "Do we know who the target is?" asks Boss of Kiefer. "Senator David Palmer," says the agent-y guy. Boss of Kiefer's eyes widen.