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    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Kiefer Sutherland: From Bad Boy to Good Man in Only 24 Hours

    What can I say? I never could resist a man who can make a kill shot to the head with 100% accuracy. I came late to 24. Last year my minister's wife loaned me the entire first season on DVD and insisted that I watch it. Still feeling the keen absence of former favorites like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Farscape, I slipped the first disc into my DVD player and immediately found myself immersed in the dark and dangerous world of CTU (Counter-Terrorist Unit) and its resident knight in tarnished armor Jack Bauer. After only a few addictive episodes, I also made an alarming discovery—I was hot for Kiefer!

    That's right. The same baby-faced, sandy-haired Kiefer I had always scorned for taking men's roles like Doc Spurlock in Young Guns and Athos in The Three Musketeers and turning them into boys. His chilling turns as villains in several movies hadn't really endeared him to me either. But as I watched one episode after another of 24, his beard-stubbled cheeks and that tender petulant mouth of his began to look imminently more kissable. A scene from last week's episode where he was forced to interrogate the woman he loves, then took a taser blast to try to protect her because he believed she was innocent nearly made me swoon in the best romance novel tradition!

    Quite simply, Jack Bauer is a man who does what needs to be done, however brutal, to get the job done. The cavewoman in me who still secretly longs for a man to protect me, feed me, and give me strong children responds to this on the most primal level. But the lovely thing about Jack is that he also maintains enough heart and humanity to resist a direct order from the president if that order will result in the death of innocent women and children. In the course of the last five seasons, he's risen above incalculable personal losses with unimaginable grace.

    24 delivers a walloping dollop of edge-of-your-couch-cushion suspense but story never overshadows characterization and emotion. To me, that's what separates a Lord of the Rings from the latest sterile and heartless installment of Star Wars.

    In our books, we constantly deal with flawed, complex men who are transformed into heroes. Jack Bauer is such a hero--constantly challenging himself, constantly evolving and always able to make the kill shot. He can interrogate me any day!