Monday, January 19, 2009

24: The End of Daylight Saving Time Episode

A 25-episode of 24 set on the last day of Daylight Saving Time could be very interesting, but is this project even feasible under present US network TV scheduling structure?

By: Vanessa Uy

Though the comedian Jay Leno has joked about it probably as far back as 2004, but is an episode of 24 set on the last day of Daylight Saving Time ever appeals to the TV series’ die-hard fans? Imagine a season of 24 where CTU agent Jack Bauer having the misfortune of saving the world during the longest day of the year in America – i.e. the very last day of Daylight Saving Time. When the clocks will be rolled back an hour as it strikes midnight – thus resulting in a 25-hour long “day”. Will 24’s parent network ever put up with this concept? But first, let us familiarize the uninitiated on the concept behind Daylight Saving Time.

When the concept of Daylight Saving Time was introduced back in World War I, it was meant as a measure to conserve coal being burned for electricity generation for lighting purposes. In this system, clocks are advanced one hour. So that the resulting rescheduling will allow work times to take advantage of shifting daylight hours. Even though the practice is only effective in Northern latitudes where seasonal variations cause large shifts in length of daylight hours, by World War II, the clocks were advanced by one hour in the United States both in winter and summer. In countries higher up in latitude – like England – double summer time was used; the clocks were advanced by two hours during summer and by an hour in winter.

The use of Daylight Saving Time is a matter of local determination – i.e. a single country’s decision while leaving other countries’ assigned Standard Time on the same time zone or longitude unchanged if they chose to. Because of this, it is often difficult to find out in one locality whether some other locality uses Daylight Saving Time. Airline schedules may be consulted for determining the time settings used in large cities. So, given that we are now familiar with the intricacies of Daylight Saving Time. Will a season of 24 set on the final day of Daylight Saving Time, one that is 25 episodes long due to the resulting 25 hour-long day, ever be produced?

Noting that on average, most American network TV shows are composed of 18 episodes per season. An American TV season lasts 6 months, thus making 26 episodes on a once-a-week airing per episode the absolute maximum in a scheduling season. Given that a typical year has 52 weeks. So an 18 episode per season show usually has an extra 8 weeks worth of extra scheduling slots for reruns and or specials for on-air cast interviews.

But 24 is not your typical American TV show – bar the fact that it has become the thorn in the side of the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU for desensitizing the American people against vulgar displays of civil liberties violations on US citizens by the Bush Administration. Not to mention millions of Web-Surfers checking out Wikipedia on what is this thing called “posse comitatus” since the shows airing. 24 have been groundbreaking in the way that in the show’s typical season, it has 24 episodes. Thus having only 2 extra weeks left for the obligatory reruns and special episode slots. Which is why the shows producers typically keeps releasing 24 in DVD format, making them easily available to those who missed certain episodes.

Given these limitations and exigencies imposed by existing American network TV scheduling structures, a 25-episode season of 24 set in the final day of Daylight Saving Time might never be aired due to these problems. Which is too bad actually. Imagine what the fans of 24 will be missing, a dramatic shootout inside the atomic clock room of the US Naval Observatory because some evil genius has a grandiose plan of tampering the Observatory’s atomic clocks to wreak havoc the World Wide Web’s time-base. Truly a race against time.

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