Aside from the nonstop action, the convoluted plots and the manly men, there are other reasons why I
am addicted love 24.
The first one is the timeframe paradox: While life-and-death national security situations supposedly are resolved within a 24-hr time frame, 24 is the first TV program where everything is not solved in one hour. Tetchy Dr. House cures the most obscure diseases even when he’s delirious from a gunshot wound, the many incarnations of Law & Order solve the crime and get a veredict, and the many locations of CSI collect all the evidence and sometimes the bad guys confess (try that in real life!) while looking mahrvelous – all in less than an hour.
Another thing I like about 24 is the emphasis on the power of the individual. In 24, the larger the group, the greater the bumble. It’s not just that the more terrorists involved in a plot, the worse it’ll work out for them. The government, the largest organization of all, fails time and time again to prevent any of the attacks in spite of having fantastic technology and instant telecommunication links.
In 24, it is the commitment of one individual that makes a difference.
There is another aspect to 24’s appeal: Yesterday’s WSJ had an article on Jack Bauer’s Dilemmas–and Ours: Watching “24” as a primer on moral philosophy
All these episodes help the show to maintain a realistic moral tone. An enemy that rejects everything we hold dear about our civil society will inevitably force us to make compromises between competing principles and loyalties. The most interesting complications that ensue as a season of “24” unfolds are the moral ones. And the show’s great virtue is that it never pretends that these dilemmas are simple or false.
And these dilemmas continue to be relevant.