This weekend marked the Season 8 premiere of TV’s wonderfully preposterous 24 – and it’s about time. The action series has embedded itself so deeply in the zeitgeist, it has spawned equally (if not more) entertaining recap websites such as Dave Barry’s consistently hilarious 24 blog; and even if you take issue with the underlying politics of the show, you can’t deny its impeccable cast, its willingness to engage viewers from the first shot until the end credits and most of all, its fetish on establishing “security perimeters” at every turn.
But if the series hasn’t already become a caricature of itself, it soon will. Any creative entity inevitably does when it loiters beyond its “best before date.”
With time running down, the NHL won’t have many more chances to attach their brand to the star vehicle for noted hockey fan Kiefer Sutherland. To help the league out in that respect, I’ve put together a quartet of NHL-related storylines for 24 that could keep aficionados of both drama and hockey feeling fully gripped for the foreseeable future.
1. 24: ONE FLEW INTO THE COYOTES’ NEST
Plot: Sutherland’s Jack Bauer character is pulled out of his new job as a yoga instructor in a Tibetan monastery to become a super-agent again and rescue thousands of empty Jobing.com Arena seats from continued abandonment during weekday NHL games.
Security Perimeter Established Around: The Loop 101 freeway, so that all fans can get out of Phoenix proper and into Glendale at a reasonable time.
Plot twist everybody saw coming: The Coyotes’ new owners heroically claim to want the arena filled and the franchise to remain in Phoenix forever, but in actuality they’re villains doing everything in their power to move the team at the first opportunity.
Plot twist nobody saw coming: A monocle-wearing Jim Balsillie just drops in to see what condition the franchise’s condition was in – and within seconds, Chloe (one of Jack’s few co-workers who isn’t dead) is flooded with frantic text messages from Gary Bettman.
Key Screamed Line Of Jack Bauer Dialogue That Can Be Recycled From a Previous Season: (To former ‘Yotes owner Jerry Moyes) “You have no idea how far I’m willing to go to acquire your cooperation!”
2. 24: THE RURAL JARRER
Plot: Edmonton-born bodychecker extraordinaire Dion Phaneuf is certified as a temporary CTU agent for a day in order to team up with Jack and kick the digestive waste out of Sean Avery.
Security Perimeter Established Around: Avery’s demands for a high-budget clothing allowance during his appearance in the show.
Plot twist everybody saw coming: Avery was traumatized while watching Rambo movies as a child and much of his adult life has been an overcompensation for that unfortunate episode.
Plot twist nobody saw coming: Kris Draper and Claude Lemieux are flown in on a helicopter to stop the carnage and show Phaneuf and Jack confrontation always should be a last resort.
Key Screamed Line Of Jack Bauer Dialogue That Can Be Recycled From a Previous Season: (To Avery) “Let’s get something straight, kid. The only reason you’re still conscious is because I don’t want to carry you. Now get in the van!”
3. 24: STARES AND STRIPES
Plot: Jack goes undercover in the NHL officiating community to probe accusations of favoritism and vengeance.
Security Perimeter Established Around: The mouths of referee Stephane Auger and Canucks winger Alex Burrows.
Plot twist everybody saw coming: Kerry Fraser’s helmet is really a double agent, working both to contain and free the famous referee’s hair.
Plot twist nobody saw coming: Former head of officiating Andy Van Hellemond returns to the scene after disappearing under mysterious circumstances in 2004 and demands his old job back from Terry Gregson.
Key Screamed Line Of Jack Bauer Dialogue That Can Be Recycled From a Previous Season: (To Burrows) “Look, if you think your need to complain is more important than the lives of the people that are counting on us, go whine somewhere else!”
4. 24: NEW BLOOD FOR OIL
Plot: After escaping at the end of Season 7, brooding double-crosser (and Bauer’s former partner) Tony Almeida infiltrates the Edmonton Oilers’ player development wing and unleashes a dangerous talent-impairing toxin into the office ventilation system. It’s Jack’s job to go get him and save The Team That Wayne Built.
Security Perimeter Established Around: The NHL draft combine.
Plot twist everybody saw coming: Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke makes a cameo to drop offer sheets on soon-to-be restricted free agents Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano.
Plot twist nobody saw coming: Almeida’s secret benefactor is a consortium led by Peter Pocklington, Chris Pronger and Dany Heatley.
Key Screamed Line Of Jack Bauer Dialogue That Can Be Recycled From a Previous Season: (To team owner Daryl Katz, after examining the Oilers’ depth charts) “I’ve been to some horrible places. I’ve seen some pretty terrible things. I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared in my whole life.”
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.