08 January 2005

24, possibly the most consistently excellent one-hour drama on television, returns tomorrow night. If you haven't seen this amazing show before, this is probably a good time to start: they've fired or killed off most of the cast and have begun an entirely new narrative arc, although one equally steeped in what-if terrorist scenarios and the ambiguities of how to avert them. Because the characters display a grim willingness to violate civil liberties and the Geneva Convention in order to combat terror, I used to think that 24 was a guilty pleasure for blue state viewers, but now I'm not so sure: Jack Bauer may be morally conflicted, but he also displays heroic competence and a sense of the consequences of his own actions. If our current leaders were more like Jack, I'd feel less worried about going along for the ride.

One startling piece of trivia is that the producers of 24 once thought about optioning The Da Vinci Code as the plotline for the show's third season. While the thought of the deadly serious cast of 24 being hurtled into that silly, silly story is momentarily diverting (and would make a great piece of fanfic), ultimately, the idea is totally incomprehensible. Ever since its series premiere, which aired on November 6, 2001, 24 has always been much more relevant than it ever wanted to be. The thought of its taking on The Da Vinci Code conjures up images of an alternate reality, now gone forever, where a show like 24 would feel like escapism.

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