How Many Twists?

Good God. Have you seen this new FOX show "24?" Well, OK, it's not exactly "new" anymore, but you know what I mean. And if you've seen it, then you know exactly how I felt when I wrote "Good God" a few sentences ago: simply amazed.

The show follows the life of a government agent for twenty-four hours, with each hour-long installment of the show portraying an hour of the man's life in real time. This guy's life totally sucks for this day, though - his wife and daughter get kidnapped, people he knows get killed, he is forced to try to assassinate a Senator … you know, the usual. There's a new plot twist or revelation every twenty seconds, each one working its way into your consciousness and taking over your every thought and concern.

When I watch this show with my roommates, we look like we've been possessed by demons with a taste for interpretive dance. We writhe in our respective chairs, bodies and stomachs twisting with each masterfully placed commercial break. Eyes are covered, hair is pulled out of our heads and jaws routinely hit the floor. This week, I think I actually started sweating during the episode, and I'm almost certain it wasn't because I was having a stroke. To me, this is encouraging for two reasons - first, that I wasn't actually having a stroke, and second, that good television is still being made every once in a while.

For every vapid sitcom character that walks around with shopping bags, for every tired catchphrase uttered lifelessly from a character in a sketch comedy show and for about one tenth as many gay jokes as there are on "Will And Grace," there is a show that pushes the boundaries of what the medium can do. Someday, I hope these television programs can be viewed as art on the same level as film. Then my Television degree wouldn't be waste of paper - it would be a Statement of Artistic Integrity.

Wondering whose output is better is one of those ongoing debates between Television and Film students everywhere, and there's never really been a definitive answer. For each "Drew Carey Show" I've got, I can point out a "Battlefield Earth." For each "Some Like It Hot" in the film students' hands, I can lay down a "Seinfeld" card, and then we're back at square one. It's a vicious circle that only communications majors have the time and effort to argue about.

I have attempted to learn something from all of this, though - specifically the rise in popularity of "24." I asked myself how I could best use what I've learned in order to "push" the medium of the whimsical newspaper opinion column. The answer? Plot twists. If these twists and cliffhanger endings are so damn effective on TV and in the movies, then why can't they work here, in a newspaper column? I mean, that O. Henry guy built an entire career doing stuff like this, so I deserve to get something out of it, too.

So, this is how it works. Listed below are a bunch of different sentences. Simply steal someone's scissors and use them to cut these sentences apart from each other. Using paste, affix these sentences to larger pieces of paper. Let the paste dry, then place the papers face down around your room or other comfortable reading area. Now, go to that pile of Freeps you have lying around your place because you're too lazy to bring them to the recycling areas. Sift though the pile for an old Thursday issue, open to one of my old columns and re-read it. Then, when you get to the end, pick up one of the pieces of paper and read the new and improved cliffhanger ending. It's like reading a whole new column! But wait, there's more!

You can use this trick to make anything you read more interesting. Try it on cookbooks, textbooks or street signs! Guaranteed to give that bland party invitation an air of intrigue. Without further ado, please enjoy these patented Pantomime Horse brand "Nail-Biters."

And now I'll tell you where the jewels are … they're … Oh, God! I'm having a heart attack!

And the CIA? Well, they never had anything to do with it. If I told you who was REALLY behind it, you'd think I was mad.

I've just gotten the results of your paternity tests … it's … Oh, God! I'm having a heart attack!

It's a little known fact that komodo dragons can climb trees, but two days from now, it would be something we would never be able to forget, even if we tried.

My doctor just gave me a clean bill of health, so now I can tell you what the President is going to … Oh, God! Look out for that speeding, derailed freight train!

But when the Baroness removed the mask from her disabled assailant, she turned to Investigator McGoyle and said, "Dear sir, I believe we've just been had."

And then everyone died … or did they? … Yes.