Posted by Eric (February 23, 2006 at 12:45 pm)
. . . but I do watch TV shows*. That is to say, I watch a few shows on DVD. At the risk of scandalizing more pious readers, I’ll admit that two of our favorite shows are The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm. We checked out Six Feet Under, but found it tedious. Last Fall we got into Lost. Our latest discovery is 24.
Before I go on, a warning. First, don’t follow any of the links above if you haven’t already seen all the episodes of any of those show and there’s any chance you’ll want to watch them. Network sites abound with spoilers. Second, spoilers on 24 will follow.
We watched the entire 24-episode first series over the course of about seven days. It’s a whole different experience watching an entire series all at once. This series ramps up the intensity that much more, since there are so many episodes, and since they take place in “real time.” If you wanted to, you could watch the whole thing in one long sitting, overlapping your own day with the single 24-hour day revealed minute-by-minute in one season.
I loved Season One. Not only was it a brilliant concept masterfully enacted, but I appreciated the themes of the show: honesty, trust, duty, devotion to family, reconciliation, even redemption. Still having a hard time getting my head around Nina as the mole, though.
Couple of small gripes. I didn’t like the idea that adultery (Jack’s relationship with Nina, long over before the series begins) is a-okay as long as you’re “separated.” I wish they’d have kept us in the dark about what party Palmer belonged to. They seemed to go out of their way the first several episodes to keep a veil over that. (And for my money, it would have been more realistic for Palmer to be a Republican—a likelier scenario for the election of the first black president).
As usual with a show like this, there was the old problem that we’re supposed to care more about the main characters than anyone else; countless heroic agents have to die so that Jack’s wife and daughter can live; and in the end his wife is killed anyway (I had to watch the entire season knowing about that spoiler). And there’s all those innocent people killed in the plane explosion in “12:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.” (Episode One).
But at least we’re given a reason to care about Jack and his family, and the reality is that we all do care more about our own families and friends than we do about others—indeed, in one sense we must, as this connection is the basis for any wider circle of sympathy (understanding service to “the least of my brothers,” starts with knowing what it means to have and care for an actual brother). Not like Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, which gives us no particular reason to care about Tom Cruise’s character other than that he’s the star in the frame all the time.
We started Season Two last night. It’s good, but not nearly as good as Season One, at least after four episodes. The whole Kim/child-abuser story line is a pretty far-fetched, bald attempt to keep Kim as a character in the series; sometimes verges on being too explicitly “issues” oriented, a little PSA about child abused inserted now and again in each episode. Also, pretty hard to buy the idea that Jack and Kim wouldn’t have clung to each other all the more tightly after Teri’s death.
Overall, the Season Two is just so far over the top. Murdering a protected witness (whose murder shouldn’t bother us since he’s a kidnapper, child pornographer and murderer—they really piled it on to make us let Jack get away with that one) and then cutting off his head! I’m enjoying the season, but really.
Update: Okay,just watched episodes 5-7. Here’s the thing—it’s as if daytime TV is, like so many terrorists, trying to hijack the show. The whole Warner Family subplot is like a soap opera injected into the show; the acting is right about at that level. And the Kim subplot is like an After School Special on child abuse—which has all but nothing to do with the rest of the show.
A couple of years ago, maybe four or five now, we quit watching TV, partly thanks to a friend of ours who is an anti-TV campaigner, and partly due to the influence of a TV-free, devout Byzantine home-schooling family we know. That means that with rare exceptions, like the announcement of Benedict’s election, we do not watch broadcast or cable TV. And we don’t really miss it.