24 (****) (TV)

Posted on December 17th, 2002 in Television by EngineerBoy

The last TV drama I watched with any regularity was probably…L.A. Law, maybe? That was a long time ago. Since then I’ve never been able to ‘get into’ any of the drama series. Part of the reason is that I found it increasingly difficult to commit to an hour a week at a fixed time. But the major reason was that they just didn’t do it for me. I tried to watch ER, but didn’t care for it. I tried to watch Law and Order, didn’t care for it. I tried to watch some of the family dramas, but I not only didn’t care for them, their treacly contrivances actually offended me, artistically (even though I was allowing for the fact that it was television in the first place).

Then last year I saw the first couple episodes of the first season of 24, at Marie’s request. It was very interesting, well-acted, gripping stuff, and I really liked it, but I still drifted in my viewership habits, and once you miss an episode of 24, you’re really stuck, because each season is one day (24 hours) in real time.

But now I have TiVo (why did I wait!!???), so I don’t have to worry about being home at a certain time, or missing an episode, and I have seen every episode so far this season (2nd season). I look forward to each episode with great anticipation, but also some dread, because the series builds up incredible amounts of tension and suspense, and I find that watching it is a draining experience. For reference, I’m no lightweight entertainment consumer, and regularly watch such tense/suspenseful fare as Apocalypse Now, Clockwork Orange, Eraserhead, etc, all of which are life-changingly intense, so I have a tolerance for that type of thing.

But 24 still manages to get under my skin and make me squirm. It’s not gross or ultra-violent, but it uses the story and the characters to build incredible amounts of tension and anticipation, all while telling a tight, believable story. I’m not going to give any of the plot away, because this series is *very* plot-driven, but suffice it to say that it involves things of global importance as well as things that are of paramount importance to the individual characters as people.

I highly recommend this series. If you’ve missed part of this season, I suggest you wait until it comes out on DVD and/or in reruns. I’m also thinking about getting all of last season on DVD, even though I know how it turned out. That’s how much I like this show.

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