Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Lure of 24

After nine years and eight “days” 24 will come to an end this Monday evening. I have been a fan of this show for a few seasons (have been able to fully catch up) and I think for many reasons including the real-time structure, the writing and the overall themes, this show is amazing and after Monday, it will be missed by many. Those fans will be anxiously awaiting a 24 movie in the next few years.

The concept of 24 is that each season is a day in the life of Jack Bauer. In those 24 hours, we see that not everything will be resolved in one hour, as well as how the ramifications of each decision made are played out. We also learn that time is of the essence in the many things that go on in a 24 season, whether averting an attack, finding out who the traitors are, finding out who are the real minds behind treachery, etc.

In the eight “days” of 24, the writing has been particularly strong. I have enjoyed the many plot twists through the years and it contributes to making the show unpredictable. While sometimes these plot twists can affect the overall effectiveness of a season, such as Day 6, in bringing back the Chinese storyline after the death of Fayed, the twists of 7 and 8 made the season even more effective, tying in the new twist to the original story line; in the case Day 7, the refocusing on Starkwood ties into the original storyline of Sangala, and in Day 8, Renee’s killing refocuses Jack on the role of the Russians in the day’s events.

When 24 premiered, we had recently been attacked on September 11 and many in the United States were looking for answers: How do we respond? How do we go on? How do we combine our response with the continuation of the American ideals? In its 8 "Days," 24 attempts to answer these questions. It shows the realism that our enemies are continuously plotting, that disaster can always be around the corner and the United States should not be in denial and continuously fight the fight. With that realism, 24 teaches us that our responses must be realistic and if the cloak of idealism and political correctness cover that realism, the United States will be perceived as weak and will invite attack. It was that need for realism that brought about the change in Jack Bauer to act as judge and jury in response to Renee’s death (I will cover this more after the series finale) because the government was in denial due to President Taylor’s pursuit of “peace,” as well as her legacy.

The writers have not necessarily shown their political stripes during the series. David Palmer may have been a Democrat, but he seemed to stay above politics. This was also true for Allison Taylor, who is perceived to be a Republican (well, maybe a RINO, especially after seeing 24: Redemption) until later in Day 8. The apolitical nature trickled down to many counter-terror issues, most notably torture, as the debate over its use has played a role throughout 24. Some have condemned torture’s use, others have applauded it and 24 has done an excellent job of not letting that debate get in the way, instead sticking to the main objective of protecting America. Torture’s role in the show did change this season and I will also cover that more after the series finale. To this day, between the issue of torture, as well as the conduct and decisions of the presidents, many of 24’s fans continue to debate whether the show endorses Republican ideals or Democrat ideals.

But most importantly, 24 pays homage to those who give their lives to protect our country. It may not be an easy job, it may negatively affect their personal lives and their work may come under the examination of politicians who know and care little of their sacrifices, but Americans can sleep easy that these people are out there to protect and defend the United States of America so it may be a beacon of freedom for years to come.

(Kudos to the Fox 24 site for the pic)

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