Monday, January 02, 2006

The Events of This Blog Occur in Real Time

Except when they don't.

I did end up spending the 31st (and part of the 1st) watching the 24-hour season one marathon of "24" on A&E. I'm not sure why I never watched the show back when it premiered, but I imagine it must have interfered with some other program that aired at the same time or something, so I missed the first season, and then the second, and the third, etc. The fifth season is premiering in two weeks but I don't think I have it in me to rent two more seasons, and also watch marathons of season four on A&E. Instead, I'll just slowly catch up with re-runs every Sunday night. I'm two-hours into Day Two already...

I can't say I LOVE the show, but I appreciate its gimmick. At least it's doing something different. It doesn't always succeed (the whole "events occur in real time" thing was a real stretch in season one, and I think they drop that notion by the second episode of season two, although I could be wrong about that) but I like that the gimmick, for the most part, keeps the show focused. When you need to have a story tied up in 24 episodes, and can only spend one hour a week propelling the story forward, there's no room for tangents. "Lost" is kind of the anti-"24". That show is all about tangents and flashbacks, but with "24" what you're allowed to learn about the characters can only be presented within the context of one day in their lives.

Because this is a TV show, that often means that characters will have conversations that no one would ever have in real life (especially if one were dealing with an national emergency). This is, in my opinion, the biggest problem with the show. On the one hand, it's hard to feel true compassion for a character you know nothing about yet, and on the other hand, the show's attempts to tell us about those characters often sound too much like Exposition and nothing more.

This might change with further seasons, and I am curious to see how they manage to keep Jack Bauer within the show without having the audience constantly thinking, "Jeeze! What's up with this guy? Why does he always have to get everything done in 24 hours? And after the second 24 hour emergency, why would he ever, EVER, volunteer to deal with one again?"

And I'd really like to see one season that was just an hour of him sleeping for three episodes, then an hour of him showering, eating breakfast, walking the dog. And then a couple of hours of him watching a football game or something. If only Andy Warhol were alive and directing TV...


Chuck said...

They never drop the "events occur in real time" thing; that's the whole premise of the show. Every commercial break and the end of every episode gets the split screen and the countdown clock.

No, it's not exactly PLAUSIBLE real time, but they at least make a gesture of it.

Season 2 was the awesomest. Like, literal edge-of-your-seat, watching-through-your-fingers stuff. I lost interest a little less than halfway into season 3 (even with Mary Lynn Rajskub), and only saw the first half of season 1.

And they kind of address how Jack Bauer could keep having these awful 24-hour days, but not really convincingly.

Rain said...

Well, I noticed at the begining of the second episode of the second season, the opening narration spoken by Jack was missing the "events occur in real time" sentence. I had assumed they just dropped that bit of exposition from the opening because it was too much to live up to. But maybe that was just in that one episode, or cut out for syndication or something...

I understand that each episode occurs within an hour time frame, but it isn't technically "real time." Anyone who's driven through LA knows no one can get across town as quickly as those people do.