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What's in a Number?

Remember all those catchy Star Trek episode titles, "The Naked Time," "Dagger of the Mind," "A Taste of Armageddon. "You know they were high-fiving–did they high-five back then?–when they came up with a clear winner.

It's just like editors when they think up a great headline. It is a magic moment, though it doesn't happen often enough to let you get cocky.*

CSI has some great episode titles, too: "Sex Lies and Larvae," for example, or "Scuba Doobie Doo." You know they are having too much fun over there among all the fake blood and faux gore. I was fo' Gore in 2000, but that is another story.

Anyway, I was thinking that there is neither the thrill of victory for 24 writers of coming up with great titles, nor the agony of defeat of hitting a dry hole. At least if the Emmy winner for drama writing from 24 is any gauge.

The title of    statue-snatching prose exercise was, according to the Emmy award-show graphic Sunday night: "7:00-8:00 p.m." I checked an online episode guide and, sure enough, the titles were all like that, just numbers (plus an "p.m.," of course). Even CBS' show, Numb3rs uses words, though mostly labels–"Dirty Bomb, "Judgment Call"–rather than wordplay or allusions.

I guess since each 24 episode is one hour of a 24-hour day, that suffices to separate one from another, but I can't see any high-fiving over, say, "5:00-6:00 a.m.," unless it wins an Emmy, I guess.

* My all-time favorite of my own headlines–a few cats eyes that shine in a field of aggies–was probably for a story on the brief controversy a few years back over a miniseries that showed the U.S. taken over by the Soviet Union (which shows you how long ago that was). My headline: "Tempest in a Samovar." Now that I think of it, my favorite may actually be the headline when Fox sued Disney over the Anaheim hockey team: "Fox Attacks Mouse in Duck Suit." then again, there was the headline for…

By John Eggerton