Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When "24" Hit Kidron

In January "24" presented an episode set partly in Kidron. A couple of my Beacon Journal stories about it, after the jump.

Kidron, Ohio, is facing a deadly leak from its chemical plant, one that might kill as many as 18,000 people out of the community's 30,000.

At least, that's how the Fox TV series 24 described the potential result of a terrorist plot launched at the end of Monday's episode.

It's odd that a network show would decide to make a target of Kidron, a small, unincorporated community that is part of Sugar Creek Township in Wayne County.

The mention is courtesy of Brannon Braga, a former Canton resident who is now a co-executive producer and writer on 24. Back in September 2007, before the writers strike stalled production of television series, he co-wrote Monday's episode with Manny Coto, another writer-producer on the show and a regular collaborator with Braga. (The two also teamed on the Enterprise TV series.)

In a telephone interview, Braga said, ''I thought a nod to Ohio would be fun.''

He considered using Canton but thought it was too well-known for the situation, and thought about just making up the name of a town before settling instead on Kidron.

''I've never been to Kidron,'' he admitted. ''We're not picking on it. Obviously, it's a fictionalized Kidron [on 24].'' If he ever visits the real place, he said, ''Hopefully, I will be welcome.''

Monday's episode, titled 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (since each episode of 24 covers an hour in a day), certainly caught folks by surprise.
Scott Wiggam, a Wayne County commissioner, said he does not usually watch 24. On Monday night, he said, ''I flipped it on and caught the last fight scene and then I heard them mention Kidron, and I had to concentrate on what they were saying.''

Wiggam took another look at the episode — which is available online at — and came away amused at the TV Kidron.

Like others in the area who were talking about the episode on Tuesday, he was struck by how little the Kidron of 24 resembled the real community.

There is no chemical plant in Kidron, said Wiggam, who checked with local emergency management to be sure.

The real Kidron, Wiggam said, is ''a quaint community.'' It is in Amish country and known for places like Lehman's, the hardware company that calls itself ''the world's largest purveyor of historical technology.''

Like Wiggam, over at the Wayne Economic Development Council, the staff noted that the real Kidron is much smaller than TV's. Indeed, 24 imagined a major baby boom in the area. The entirety of Sugar Creek, which includes Kidron, is about 6,500 people — not the 30,000 the show gave Kidron alone.

As for what awaits Kidron on TV, here's the background: The fiendish Col. Dubaku is trying to force President Allison Taylor to withdraw U.S. troops from the fictional African nation of Sangala. The troops aim to depose Sangala's despotic leader, Gen. Juma, who is also Dubaku's boss.

Dubaku has gained access to the U.S.'s technological infrastructure, enabling him to cause the collision of two aircraft. With the president still unwilling to stop her Sangala action, Dubaku has ordered a remote-control infiltration of that chemical plant.

The next episode will find the good guys racing against time to prevent a disaster.

''Next week will be a scary time in [the TV] Kidron,'' Braga said. ''The threat . . . escalates.''

Here's my follow-up, also from the ABJ:

In Case You Missed 24 . . . The TV series' version of Kidron, Ohio, was spared a chemical disaster on Monday night thanks to the efforts of Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo), a courageous chem-plant manager (Tom Irwin) and, to some degree, the gun-totin' hero Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).

It was computer whiz Janis who figured out that the terrorists' target was the chemical plant — which was, in fact, in a ''neighboring county'' to Kidron — and worked with the manager to release the pressure on a tank holding highly toxic, concentrated insecticide.

As I said on my blog, the plant appeared to have plenty of toxic chemicals but no chemical-protection suits, so the manager battled a spray of toxicity in just a gas mask and his shirt sleeves. He didn't make it.

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