Monday, March 05, 2007

"Viewer advised"

What other four words are capable of inspiring such giddiness and delight in me than the ones listed above that herald the weekly arrival of "24", featuring Jack Bauer and the general mayhem that comes with him? Well, maybe "I love you Clark" would do the trick, but I don't hear that once a week.
I'm not the world's biggest TV fan but Monday nights at 9:00, however, is another story. That is my TV time, the one hour a week for which DVR was invented. I'm not old enough to remember the old movie serials like The Shadow and the Lone Ranger but I have to think that the fans of those old yarns felt the way I do about "24". I spend all week wondering what will happen next (something bad; worse than last week) and how Jack is going to get out of it (he always does, even though you think he might not). Being able to tell a story over a much longer period of time is a distinct advantage TV has over movies. And serial shows, when they're done well, with the right balance of prolonged suspense (cliffhangers) and resolution (payoffs) are ultimately more satisfying than just about all films. "Lost" often hits this mark, but when it misses, it misses big. "24" NEVER fails to deliver.
Critics of the show point out how Bauer has no qualms about breaking rules (and limbs, his or someone else's) to accomplish his mission, as well as concerns about the show's perceived insensitivity towards non-American cultures, since many of the villians are non-American. This causes fans to be defensive about liking the show, for fear of being labeled as jingoistic racist supporters of fascism.
My enjoyment of "24" makes me no more of any kind of fascist than my enjoyment of the "Grand Theft Auto" video games makes me a cop-killing sociopath.

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