Monday, February 12, 2007

Do people really take "24" seriously?

After being appalled enough to almost write a bitchy letter to Fox about "24's" Season 4 premiere, in which around a dozen people are killed in order to cover for a sinister plot that is revealed as a red herring by the third episode or so, I pretty much stopped paying attention to the show altogether. I never could tell if the show was meant to be a thrill-ride-type show remarkable mostly for its ability to strain credibility without ever quite breaking it altogether (traumatic amnesia?), or more of an especially prurient form of "terror porn," to steal a phrase, aimed at making us feel safer knowing that someone is out there to gouge out the eyeballs of those who would do us harm.

I still recall how the premiere of the show was delayed post-9/11, then edited to remove the more disturbing scenes of an airplane exploding over the Mojave Desert--now all you see is a orange glow off-screen as the uber-yummy Mia Kirschner parachutes out of the plane and then strips naked in front of a bonfire. I cannot bring myself to fully condemn that kind of filmmaking, but I do have to wonder why it was necessary to blow up a passenger plane in order for an assassin to adopt the identity of a German photographer on board the plane. Couldn't the bad guys have kidnapped the German after he landed, taken his ID and killed him, rather than having the lovely Ms. Kirschner seduce him on the plane, steal his wallet, then blow the plane up? We kinda already gathered that she is evil, and they still could have contrived a reason to get her naked.

Maybe I'm just being square, but "24" is really just the Rube Goldberg Guide to Terrorism. As long as your terrorist places more stock in crafting an elaborate and lengthy plan than in actually succeeding in his mission, a few well-placed electrodes, amputations, and sleepless nights will thwart the plot. I can't claim to know how a terrorist's mind works (I bought a book but haven't read it yet), but common sense would dictate that simplicity would be a key factor, rather than the two or three levels of redundancy necessary to keep a show like "24" going for the requisite 24 episodes.

There seems to be some indication that some of the torture allegations coming out of Iraq may have, at their root, inspiration derived from Jack Bauer's exploits. Really, has there ever, in all the history of espionage and intrigue, been a "ticking bomb" situation like the ones that occur with logic-rattling frequency in the "24" universe?

Anyway, before I end up writing all night about this, I'll just end with this--it's a freaking TV show that makes no sense if you think about it for more than two seconds. Maybe that's why it's so popular.

No comments: