Friday, April 18, 2008

Television: 24

For those living under a rock, 24 is a program about preventing terrorism. It is presented in real time. During the course of a season the viewer witnesses a day in the life of Jack Bauer.

The show is an action-thriller, and Jack is really more of a super hero than a human being, but the issues and topics addressed are relevant ones; things that people and governments actually struggle with. How should terrorist threats be treated? How much power should law enforcement have? What are acceptable methods of integrating suspects? How much life and freedom can be sacrificed to safeguard the greater good?

The show does a good job of showing some hard realities. Is there anyone anymore who would cooperate with terrorists hoping to be spared? Bad guys will kill you anyway once they get what they want—so don’t cooperate. Torture is another topic that the show treats pretty well. For the most part it is ineffective, and as a regular sanctioned tactic it should be out of the question. It only seems to work for Jack, and then only occasionally. There are a couple characters that seem a little overeager to use it.

One of the best dramatic elements of the show is the in office politics/ back stabbing that goes on at the Counter Terrorism Unit. The viewer can always count on at least one mole in the system, and even characters that are not evil tend to let power plays get in the way of getting the job done.

The great lessons of 24: there are evil people in the world that must be opposed, and the rest of us, while not evil, are flawed. The great questions: when do these people eat or go to the can?

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