Remember the first time you saw scream siren Linnea Quigley dance nekkid atop a tombstone? Awe inspiring, right? How about the next time when she did that immortal Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws? Pretty goldang memorable too!
Well, to put it country simple, that’s the relationship between Season One and Season Two of Kiefer Sutherland’s tornadic "real time" spy franchise — a mystical, zig-zagging adventure followed by another, more familiar, yet equally enthralling race against the clock. On this SECOND longest day of his life, counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer, obviously a victim of Die Hard Syndrome, must save Los Angeles from nuclear annihilation at the hands of Al-Qaeda type nasties (you can tell by the electronic hookah music) and unravel a diabolical plot with roots that bedevil the very highest reaches of our government … blah, blah, blah.
What’s really of profound importance here are the misadventures endured by TV’s most delectable dingbat of perpetual peril (a.k.a. Kim Bauer) on the second longest day of HER dizzy life. To that end, yours truly lends a critical eye toward all two hours, two minutes and fifty-one seconds of Ms. Elisha Cuthbert‘s salivatory screentime, paying prolonged attention to the 8 o’clock hour when she all-too-briefly shimmies into something that’d easily raise the hair on a cougar carcass …
Appropriately enough, we rejoin a blue panty’d Kimberly, now a live-in nanny, starting her morning hunched over the sink scrubbing her pearlies when a giggling little nose miner bursts in and sours what was a delish dish of eye candy. Being blonde and prone to fussiness, the tike will be hence forth referred to as Lil’ Kim, and for subplot purposes, her daddy’s also a lunatic. Total screentime (10:17) plus peril (Knocked to floor by abusive employer) equals Kimcentric Factor Eight.
Kim, dressed WAY too matronly, makes the first of 498 escapes. This time via the nearest Lexus with Lil’ Kim in tow. They’re pursued by Daddy Dearest until Kim dead ends it into an alley where a mano y bimbo tussle ensues and she learns that a knee to the groin is nice, but whomping the bejesus out of a fella with a tire iron is FAR more satisfying. Total screentime (7:12) plus peril (Foolishly hides Lil’ Kim among cardboard boxes) equals Kimcentric Factor Five.
Lil’ Kim wanders from her hiding place and very nearly into the mitts of teenage street urchins, but not before our panicked heroine jiggles to the rescue. Kim then opts to seek shelter at the safest place she knows: CTU!?! Hey, isn’t that where her sainted mama — uh, never mind. Total screentime (7:30) plus peril (Almost clobbered FOUR times while running into traffic; later risks LA public transit; narrowly avoids getting blow’d up) equals Kimcentric Factor Six.
Lil’ Kim has a seizure spawned by a crack to the skull she took from Daddy Dearest two-and-a-half hours earlier. Nurturing Kim remains by her side at the hospital. Total screentime (2:29) plus peril (Accused of child abuse) equals Kimcentric Factor One.
Jack makes Kim swear she’ll tell no one of the bomb in LA. She immediately alerts her boyfriend — latin pop sensation Innis Casey as "Miguel" — whom she also honey-do’s into kidnapping Lil’ Kim … for her own good. Total screentime (5:48) plus peril (Threatened with arrest) equals Kimcentric Factor Four.
Miguel, Kim and Wendy Whiner v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y vacate the hospital — right into the waiting clutches of you know who. Fortunately, he’s ill-prepared for pretty boy’s kung fu prowess. Total screentime (5:40) plus peril (Ochie!!! Gets hair pulled really hard) equals Kimcentric Factor Four.
Speeding out of the "blast radius" in Daddy Dearest’s car, the trio is stopped by an eagle-eyed state trooper. Hijinks ensue. Total screentime (4:03) plus peril (Unexpected passenger) equals Kimcentric Factor Two.
Kim finds herself headed to the pokey as, wouldn’t you know it, a MURDER suspect! Where? Downtown Los Angeles. In time for nuclear winter, no less. She calls daddy, although he’s awful busy being all heroic and stuff. Total screentime (7:04) plus peril (Handcuffs really chafe) equals Kimcentric Factor Five.
Kim and Lil’ Kim’s tearful reunion is cut short by news the wee one will be delivered to the safety of Santa Barbara. NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN! Muuuuuuh-ha-ha-ha!!! Total screentime (2:02) plus peril (Cop coffee is grody) equals Kimcentric Factor One.
Presumably due to his intimate knowledge of Kim’s unusual flexibility, Miguel insists she pretzel free of her shackles and help him stage a daring — nah, make that dumb — prison break by lighting FIRE to the paddy wagon they’re racing down the highway in. This ends poorly, of course, but before she leaves Miguel to face the swarming fuzz, Kim smooches his bloodied lip and coos: "Thank you so much … for everything." Total screentime (5:39) plus peril (Yet another car crash) equals Kimcentric Factor Four.
Our luscious lamb now wanders the wilderness much like the children of Israel until stopped in her tracks by a hunter’s snare and eye’d for din-din by a COUGAR!!! Total screentime (2:45) plus peril (Little early in the evening for ankle restraints don’t ya think, dearest?) equals Kimcentric Factor Six.
A junior Grizzly Adams comes to Kim’s rescue and invites her back to his cabin to see his etchings. Total screentime (2:56) plus peril (Hopping on one foot is, like, hard) equals Kimcentric Factor One.
From the sage lips of FOX’s other Nielsen knockout: "AYECURUMBA!!!" Kim sure wears her fugitive status well, especially now that she’s slinked her most nubile talents into a clingy white tank top that’s WAY too small to ever properly fit what’s his name. Maybe it’s such strangulating undergarments and the prolonged lack of oxygen that’ve made him twitch like the next Unabomber. Regardless, it’s a look that surely doesn’t make him a hit with the ladies. No wonder he opts to trick our freshly-showered Kim into an extended stay in his subterranean romper room. Total screentime (11:34) plus peril (Nearly apprehended by forestry ranger) equals — LEAPIN’ LIONS!!! — Kimcentric Factor T-E-N!!!
With Kim, it’s either love a man or BRAIN HIM with the heaviest thing you can find. Afterward, this Grizzly Adams kid is dazed, yet somehow still forgiving as she manages another exit. In fact, he hands Kim a shiny .38 special (to shoot pesky cougars) and asks if she’ll swing back his way for a visit someday. She replies coldly: "I don’t think so … YA FREAK!!!" Total screentime (6:49) plus peril (Trapped in horny dude’s bomb shelter) equals Kimcentric Factor Five.
That heater comes in handy once Kim hits a lonely highway where she’s first ogled by passing bikers and then nearly abducted AGAIN by a greasy character awful insistent on "giving her a ride" until a bullet through his passenger window convinces him otherwise. She hoofs it a bit farther down the road before accepting a ride from a world-weary soccer mom who then must endure a weepy cellphone exchange between Kim and her soon-to-be permanently absentee father. Total screentime (7:20) plus peril (Stuffs pistol dangerously close to hiney) equals Kimcentric Factor Five.
Feeling antisocial, Kim cuts her hitched ride short, choosing instead to wander aimlessly all by her lonesome until answering nature’s call at a nearby liquor store. She then attempts to thwart a robbery by waving that gun around again. Bad idea, darlin. Total screentime (6:12) plus peril (That leering shopkeeper had it coming) equals Kimcentric Factor Four.
Kim tires of the same ol’ hostage schtick, so she up and ducks out the back when the baddie’s not looking. Her wisest move all day! Total screentime (5:38) plus peril (Police almost don’t get the door open in time) equals Kimcentric Factor One.
Once returned to the nearest jailhouse an officer quips: "Looks like you’ve had quite a day!" For grins, he then outlines her hour-by-hour crimes and misdemeanors before handing her a Get Out of Jail Free card. If you look close, instead of Uncle Moneybags, it’s got a little picture of CTU heartthrob Jack Bauer on it. Freedom must make her frisky, because she promptly phones Miguel in the hospital. Though hers is a voice he’s none too pleased to hear after his having become a macabre object lesson in the high price of poontang. Total screentime (7:10) plus peril (Gets dumped over the phone) equals Kimcentric Factor Six.
2-3 a.m., 3-4 a.m. and 4-5 a.m.
These three Kimless hours are pure torture until about 4:30 when she and Jack burn more cellphone minutes. Total screentime (1:00) plus peril (None noted) equals Kimcentric Factor Zero.
A family that kills together stays together! A new motto for the Bauer clan, perhaps? One might think so after Kim frantically calls Jack for advice after knocking Daddy Dearest out cold amid yet another rasslin match. His advice: "SHOOT HIM NOW!!!" and afterward, in a more comforting but firm tone: "AGAIN! I WANT YOU TO SHOOT HIM AGAIN!!!" It’s always so nice when fathers and daughters can share quality time. Could this little episode lay the groundwork for a La Femme Nikita meets Alias metamorphosis for Ms. Bauer? Stay tuned. Total screentime (7:01) plus peril (Nasty fall through ceiling) equals Kimcentric Factor Eight.
An emotionally exhausted Kim, who unlike Pulp Fiction‘s Esmarelda Villalobos, now knows what it’s like to "keel a man," is given a ride back to CTU by daddy’s new squeeze. Total screentime (3:45) plus peril (Endures future stepmom’s attempt to sympathize) equals Kimcentric Factor Two.
Well, that’s all those loveable yayhoos in Hollywood wrote. We’ve had lows. The cougar. The kung fu crooner. We’ve had highs. The tank top. The, uh, tank top. Yeah, um, pretty much just the tank top. Total screentime (2:37) plus peril (Miraculously survives brief CTU visit before finally returning to Jack’s side) equals Kimcentric Factor One.
But seriously, folks. Beyond Ms. Bauer’s hysterical, though COMPLETELY UNRELATED subplot, the second season’s most frustrating flaw is its C-R-I-M-I-N-A-L cliffhanger ending! Especially in comparison to the first season’s gratifyingly devastating final note.