24 Hour TV Marathon

My name is Roo and this is the longest day of my life


How to survive a 24 hour TV marathon

Some friends and I talked for a long time about watching all 24 episodes of the first season of 24, back to back. If you take out the trailers each episode is only 45 minutes long. Rather disappointingly, this means that a 24 marathon is only actually 18 hours of televisual entertainment. To watch all 18 within one day leaves 6 hours of peeing and napping time. An excellent plan. After all, if you’re going to spend 24 hours of your life watching a TV series, you might as well get it all over with in one day. It’s an epic undertaking, and one which, in getting ready to try it, we understood would involve plenty of planning and preparation.

Stage 0: How to watch the series

Ideally, we’d start at midnight and follow Jack Bauer’s longest day in real time. If you have the episodes taped including the adverts then wherever the adverts pause the action you could take a break until you are in sync again. This means stopping every quarter of an hour, but only for about 5 minutes; a rather inflexible schedule. Furthermore, finishing a 24 hour TV marathon at midnight would be much more painful than finishing at say, 8 or 9 pm and getting an early night. We decided to aim to begin our marathon at about 9pm and play the episodes back-to-back, pausing to nap when we get really tired. In this manner we aimed to save up the 24 x 15 minutes for two or three few long breaks, making watching Jack’s 18 hour day within 24 hours perfectly feasible.

Stage 1: Preparation

Friday. 5pm

It’s Friday, so we leave work early. Preparation begins. We hit the supermarket first. A good selection of food is important, and we realised that we’d want lots of liquid. Plenty of carbohydrates would also be important. For the three of us, we purchased

  • A packet of mixed-leaf salad
  • A bag of sliced carrots
  • 4 apples
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 1 tub of potato salad
  • 8 different dips (cheese and chive, Thousand Island, tikka, barbecue, etc)
  • 1 large tub of Philadelphia soft cheese spread
  • 1 packet of good, thick-sliced ham
  • 2 bottles Lemonade
  • 2 bottles Apple Tango (1 diet, 1 regular).
  • 4 bottles Coca-Cola
  • 2 cartons fresh fruit juice
  • 4 cans Red Bull
  • Plenty of cookies
  • 1 loaf crusty bread
  • 6 current buns
  • 1 pack breadsticks
  • 3 tubes Pringles
  • 1 pack Kettle chips
  • 1 pack Walkers Sensations (Thai sweet chilli flavour. Yummy)
  • 8 sausage rolls
  • 1 box of cream crackers
  • 2 boxes Cadbury’s Fingers
  • 1 sack cheap wine gums
  • 1 large Toblerone
  • 1 pack Extra Strong Mints

Stage 2: Set up

We pick the room in which we want to relax for the next day of our lives. The living room, with its TV, comfortable seating and ample floor space, seems to be the best bet. We set up the room for maximum comfort by turning down the lights, placing a mattress on the floor and bringing in an extra beanbag. The three of us (kyb, my wife and I) now have a wide choice of places to relax.

Friday. 7:50pm

We unpack the shopping. The drinks go straight into the fridge, and most of the food is put straight onto the dining table. One long buffet seems like the best way to eat during this marathon TV session. Managing and controlling your own diet, while not easy, is a great way to stay awake. Large meals take a lot of digestion, leaving you feeling sleepy a while afterwards. Taking on small morsels whenever you feel hungry prevents this problem, plus it’s fun. With the wide variety of foods we’ve got, controlling our sugar levels should be easy.

Stage 3: The marathon

Friday. 8:45 pm
Press play.

9:30 pm
1 episode down, 23 to go. Great stuff. I’ve already seen the first half of the series, so the first few hours are just a recap for me.

Saturday. 1 am
24 is still very exciting. For them it’s 6 am already. That’s ¼ of the way though. We’ve just met Milo at the CTU. He’s the suicide toe guy from 6 Feet Under! We’re all starting to fade. I’ve eaten too much, so I’m bloated and sick feeling. It hasn’t turned into tiredness yet, but I worry that it will do soon. The Red Bull is calling me.

3:30 am
I just finished my first can of Red Bull but the effect was not immediate. Tiredness comes and goes. For the past hour my eyes have been closing. Dry eyes. Perhaps I need more water. I don’t think I’ve slept, but I came pretty close. Just went outside to look at the stars. It’s a clear night. The coldness was refreshing and woke me up. Perhaps the Red Bull is kicking in.

We’ve found we keep changing positions. After every episode it’s good to stand up, walk around and sit or lay down somewhere different. We’ve also noticed that, as nice as Coke is, it’s very sugary. Sugar crash is exactly what you don’t need if you’re trying to stay awake. I’ve moved onto cold water. Others have been sensibly using diet fizzy drinks instead.

4:45 am
The others have been snoozing for a few minutes. They’ve both seen this episode before, so they’re not missing anything. I think it’s time to pause the action at the end of this episode and have a nap.

7:45 am
We slept for 2 hours. We’re still amused by how crazy our marathon is. We keep describing it as ‘epic’. Having woken up and breakfasted (grapefruit). Though tired, we continue at 11am Jack Time.

10:00 am
The past 2 hours have gone by very quickly. We need to get air in our lungs, sun on our skin and infinity in the eyes. We go for a short walk. The morning sunlight reduces our melatonin levels and increases our wakefulness and cheerfulness.

1:30 pm
Lunch. Nice to eat some bread and ham. Refreshing. Not so tired now. We’re now ¾ of the way through the series, and we’ve given up counting the number of dead people. It’s becoming highly exciting. Even captivating.

4:30 pm
Last two episodes. Very tired now. Blinks are becoming increasingly long. We devise a 24 drinking game. Hysterical laughter at every suggestion. Not concentrating hard enough on plot. More Red Bull.

5:15 pm
Wow! End of penultimate episode. Wuh? Big twist. How does this work? What will happen? Suddenly awake and paying attention.

6:00 pm
Finish. Tired. Good series. Looking forward to the sequel. There’s going to be a sequel, right? They can’t just end it there.

Watching 24 within 24 hours turned out to be easy enough. You get 6 hours off after all. We actually only used about half of our allotted break time, so the next 2¾ hours we can relax, satisfied.

The 24 Drinking game

What could be harder than a 24 marathon? A 24 drinking game of course. This beats the Star Wars drinking game hands down. It’s on a different scale. Even a new Star Wars drinking game, with extra rules, for all SIX episodes will not involve as much drinking as the 24 drinking game. It’s not as crazy as the Withnail and I drinking game of course, but depending on what you’re drinking it might come close.

Take a drink whenever…

  • you see someone using one of the following three laptops: a Thinkpad, an iMac or a Powerbook
  • someone closes a door in someone else’s face
  • someone in CTU uses the word “socket”
  • Jack flips out and loses his cool
  • Nina lies
  • someone is killed. (If a plane is blown up, you only need take one drink)
  • someone, who looked liked they were dead, turns out to be alive. If later in the story, then do die, then drink again.
  • any person, place or thing is described as being “compromised”
  • someone in CTU says “line 2”
  • someone refers to ‘secret’ ‘private’ love triangle between Jack, Nina and Toni
  • someone tries to phone someone, and gets voicemail instead.
  • someone reassures someone by saying they will “get through this”
  • a character suddenly turns out to be untrustworthy and dangerous
  • a new character is introduced.. and they have an East European accent
  • someone in a governmental agency ‘breaks protocol’ or goes against ‘procedure’ (examples include but are not limited to hacking without a warrant, giving computer access to an unauthorized party, tranquilising a superior, …)
  • you notice a continuity error
  • anyone uses the word ‘patch’, as in “Patch me through”
  • someone mentions “The Balkans”, “Bosnia” or “Kosovo”
  • Jack says “Palm Pilot” when he means Handspring Visor
  • you see one of the characters sleep, eat or go to the toilet.
  • Jack is given, borrows, or otherwise obtains another mobile phone or ear-piece.
  • Senator Palmer’s wife uses the word “election”
  • any character is handcuffed

NB: I have not attempted this game. We designed it while watching the series to keep ourselves amused. If you try it, make sure you first purchase copious quantities of alcohol, as going shopping half-way through playing this game is not advisable. Anyone crazy enough to undertake it should be congratulated and then rushed to hospital.

2 replies on “24 Hour TV Marathon”

  1. I have watched most of the series since, but never all in one go. I didn’t watch the last one.

    A couple of them were so transparently torture-propaganda they give you an insight into why the USA is so messed up at the moment.

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