Flip Phones Key Element of Dated Series

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I began watching “24,” the action-drama series starring Keifer Sutherland, several weeks ago, indulging myself in an episode or two after I leave the library late at night and come home. The show was created in 2001. It definitely feels dated. The premise intrigued me; each show is predicated to consume an hour in real time, so an entire season covers just one day. There are eight seasons, covering eight really long days. I learned this when I was not-quite halfway into the show.

I am nearing the end of season four and Sutherland, as Jack Bauer, in the line of duty is about halfway through killing the 267 bad guys that he dispatches in those eight days, which is 1.4 persons each hour.

No wonder Bauer looks sleep-deprived all the time.

Bauer works for some outfit called the Counter Terrorism Unit. Each season he encounters terrorists, fights with his superiors, often goes rogue to get the job done, and then is welcomed back to the fold because he has once again saved the country from some calamitous evil-doing.

If this sounds hokey, well, it is. But Sutherland makes for a compelling action hero, and there are enough plot twists to keep me coming back for another episode. Or three. He’s quite good at going into dark rooms, flashlight held over his gun as he prepares to add another notch to his pistol.

Flip phones pay a big role in “24.” Seems like every 15 seconds, someone is pulling a flip phone out, popping it open and making a call to, say, launch the code to melt down all the nation’s nuclear power plants. A few scenes later, someone else is reverse flipping a phone to cut off a conversation in mid-sentence. The show features computers able to do amazing things, seemingly able to access information from anywhere. Need to take over the security cameras in a parking garage where two terrorists are holed up? A few keystrokes from one of the nerds and, voila, the cameras indicate the desperados are breaking into a car on the third level, look

ing for a getaway. One episode features an electromagnetic pulse bomb that, once launched, will wipe out all electronics in a five-block area just by sending, well, electromagnetic pulses, into the airwaves.

But both the counter-terrorists and the bad guys are stuck with lowly flip phones in that pre-smart phone era. They often have to pull out the antenna before making or answering a call. You almost feel sorry for them. There is no artificial intelligence creature to command, “Siri, call the secretary of defense.”

I had a flip phone for a time, which was certainly a step up from my first cell phone, which was attached to a bag and weighed about 10 pounds, or so it seems. I bought it after my mom had her first heart attack, in 1994, so that someone could get hold of me if needed. The flip phone came next, followed by a series of “improvements” until the iPhone arrived in 2007. With the technological advances of the past dozen years, Sutherland/Bauer probably could have saved the world from the terrorists in much quicker fashion, if he could have traded his flip phone for the latest model of iPhones or Androids. At least he could have taken really nice photos of the bad guys.

I finally looked the other night to see how many seasons of “24” existed, something I had neglected to do before. The eight seasons of 24 episodes total 192 episodes. Each is about 45 minutes long, since the series originally contained commercials when first aired on Fox. Watching all eight seasons would require 144 hours of viewing time.

That cinched it for me. As soon as I finish streaming and binging Season Four, I am done. I will have spent the equivalent of three entire days watching “24.” I can feel my brain cells diminishing as I contemplate this. It is time to end this madness and move on to something else.

But I will miss seeing those flip phones.

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